Saturday, September 27, 2014

Persistence Trumps Talent

By Susan F. Craft

I’m always hesitant when asked to talk about the process of writing, because each author has his or her own way of going about it.

I’ve been writing professionally for over 45 years. Granted, some of it was, I told myself at the time, not what I really wanted to be writing—articles for agency publications, informational materials, speeches for the agency director. It was “my day job” that I couldn’t quit because I couldn’t get anyone interested in my novels.

Over the years, I have come to the realization that any writing hones your craft—the thought processes required to come up with an idea; the utilization of resources to research thoroughly; the time to learn correct grammar and spelling; the willingness to learn from the masters; the discipline to sit in the chair and work; the development of thick skin in order to learn from, and not resent, criticism; the humility that comes with rejection; and the absolute joy that comes when someone really likes what you’ve written and says those magic words, “I couldn’t put it down.”

A speaker at a writers’ workshop I attended made the statement, “Persistence trumps talent.”

Well, brothers and sisters, I’m here to tell you that I know a little bit about persistence. Over the past 35 years I’ve attended more writers’ workshops and conferences than I can remember.

Sometimes the information would contradict something I had just heard in a previous conference. This happened mostly in the area of marketing—what genres were selling, what houses were looking for, what agents wanted to see, the acquisitions editor who threw manuscripts into her sludge pile because she had had a lousy breakfast. I listened and I learned to sift through the “old hat” information and glean the good stuff, which I incorporated into my writing.

The news in the past two years has been grim. A publisher may LOVE your novel, but doesn’t think your platform is expansive enough.  In other words, you don’t provide promise of sales.

To offer you encouragement, many famous authors persisted in the face of rejections. F. Scott Fitzgerald once received a rejection letter for The Great Gatsby that read: "You'd have a decent book if you'd get rid of that Gatsby character."  Jack London’s estate “House of Happy Walls” has a collection of nearly 600 rejection letters from his early years.

My own persistence was rewarded when in November 2011, the Ingalls Publishing Group released my inspirational Revolutionary War romantic suspense, The Chamomile.

The SC Book Festival invited me to be a guest panelist. Over 6,000 people attended that event. When the wonderful reviews started showing up on places like Amazon and Goodreads, I was truly amazed and so excited. When The Chamomile won the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Okra Pick award, I was over the moon.

The latest and best news -- Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas will release two of my post-Revolutionary War novels next year. One entitled Laurel will be released January 12, and one entitled Cassia will be released September 14.

On an even happier note – I’m retiring in October after a 45-year career working fulltime. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for this next chapter of my life. I know He has plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future.

Susan F. Craft authored the SIBA Award-winning Revolutionary War novel, The Chamomile. The two sequels to The Chamomile, entitled Laurel and Cassia will be released January 12, 2015, and September 14, 2015, by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.  She is represented by Linda S. Glaz, Hartline Literary Agency.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tech Tips for Managing Information Overload

By Katie DePoppe

When I began my career in the literary world, my first job was as a book publicist. While that was before the onset of the social media marketing frenzy we see today, at that time, we were on the cusp of new and creative ways to use technology to push new books into the mainstream.

Although my career has taken a few turns from my previous job (I’m now on the production side), I’ve kept abreast of tech strategies and have enjoyed, over the last 7 years, watching as the PR/marketing world strives to find the next best thing. The creativity and strategy behind it all is exciting to me.

I’m a researcher at heart and for many years, I’ve subscribed, pinned, bookmarked, saved, filed, and printed thousands of articles, blog posts, studies, and analyses on many areas of interest: social media marketing, productivity and organization, and writing tools and strategies, to name a few.

Through my work with digital media, I’ve also had the chance to attend a number of conferences and seminars where I’ve made connections with people in these industries who have logged way more hours than I have. Those opportunities afforded me the chance to discover people who are doing incredible work churning out valuable information for writers that encompass a number of areas that we are now expected to master: writing, editing, marketing, public relations, and the list goes on. The responsibility of the writer has grown. We now, more than ever, share the burden of helping to cut through the noise and get our messages heard.
With that said, here is a list of some of the tech resources  that may be of help in your writing journey, whether you’re in the process of drafting a manuscript, building a platform, or getting the word out about a finished product. This is just an explanation of my personal system and resources. Please leave comments with your own tips, suggestions, and links to your favorite blogs. The internet is a big, big place! 

For Managing Blogs, Articles, & Research Overload

Feedly is my favorite. I believe its design is intuitive, and it offers an organized way to keep track of posts and articles you may not have otherwise gotten a chance to read. I especially like the design aesthetic: uncluttered, simple, and customizable.
Part of my job is to keep up with trends and current events. I do this, in part, by reading lots of blogs. This helps me to see everything in one place and has been a tremendous help in uncluttering my inbox. I used to assign an email folder to each blog to which I subscribed, but that became quite cumbersome and time-consuming. Now, I only subscribe via email to a handful of my favorite blogs that I’m sure to read every day. The others go through Feedly, and I check them at my convenience.  
You probably already know that there are many blogs out there for writers. I’ve listed a few of my favorites below. If you need help managing all the great content you’ll be getting when you subscribe, give Feedly a try.


Most everyone now knows that Pinterest is a sort of giant bulletin board, and it is an extremely valuable tool for those like me who tend to see my to dos or ideas as “out of sight, out of mind.” I’m also a visual learner, and when I can see everything in one place, grouped with imagery that jogs my memory about the content that lies within it, I think clearly.

Pinterest comes in handy when I’m gathering ideas for projects, stories, and articles. Often times these ideas are sparked by something I see in a blog. In those instances, I may take a specific post that I’ve already saved via Feedly and cross-post it to one of my Pinterest boards. My Pinterest boards are alphabetized and are given simple names that are easy to remember.


Also intuitive and user-friendly, Evernote is ideal for storing information on the go and for easy accessibility. It allows for easy organization and is available as an app or via desktop.

For Storing Information & Content

For years I’ve had a very imperfect system made up of notebooks, my Evernote account, and myriad of email folders, but very recently my husband and I have tried to combine everything into the writing software, Scrivener. I’d heard of this a while back (and it may not be news to many of you seasoned writers out there), but only after I began to research project management software for a database that I was building, did I realize that Scrivener a lot more than I thought. Not only can you organize long-term projects like novels, research projects, etc., but it’s ideal for holding all of your content – blog posts, notes and ideas, podcasts, scripts, etc. – in one giant collection. Take a closer look here

Blogroll of Tech People Who Know More Than I Do
Amy Lynn Andrews – I met Amy at Allume last year. She’s amazing. Just subscribe to her Useletter. You won’t regret it.
Kat Lee @ How They Blog – A secondary project by this Inspired to Action mom blogger, How They Blog features interviews with bloggers of all levels and asks them about their processes. Each interview includes a list of quick links to blogger/writer resources.
Jeff Goins – Jeff is a writer for writers. Just subscribe. Every blog post and newsletter is packed so full of valuable information, you’ll need a nap after processing it all.

This is rather long, so I’ll stop there for now. What are some of your favorite writing tips, tricks, or resources?

Katie DePoppe is the founding editor at large for Azalea, a magazine that celebrates the lifestyle, history, and culture of the South Carolina Lowcountry. She is the curator of and a contributor to Azalea's blog, The Azalea Room, which explores Southern culture as a whole. Join her Facebook group, The Southern Lit Project, an extension of her blog series, The 50 Books Every Southerner Should Read. An aspiring author of Southern fiction, Katie is a member of Word Weavers International, ACFW, and is a life-long member of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society. Connect with Katie on Twitter @KDePoppe or follow her on Instagram @katidepoppe.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

How Long Does It Take To Write a Novel?

by Yvonne Lehman @YvonneLehman 

Well, a lot depends upon how soon you learn the craft, practice your creativity, talk face-to-face with editors and agents, get a good critique, learn to self-edit...


Is that all?

No! Then there's what to do with the novel-- get it published traditionally, eBook, self-publish...

And then there's Social Media... Which? What? Why? Where? How? Blogs? Websites? Newsletters? Interviews? Launches? Tours? Signings? Loops? Groups?

akes forever to learn all that doesn't it? Well, not really, if you attend a conference where you're exposed to all that, learn from the pros, fellowship with other writers, retreat from the world, brainstorm, incorporate into your novel what you learn, and at the same time enjoy the beauty of the western North Carolina mountains.

For ACFW attendees (or any "group" of writers), I'm giving a special discount for the Blue Ridge "Autumn in the Mountains" Novelist Retreat. See faculty, classes, contests (Gold Leaf awards), critique information at: or contact me at

Discounts are:
1-3 enroll from a group get $10 off tuition = $315
4-5 enroll - $20 discount = $305
6-7 enroll - $30 discount = $295
8-9 enroll - $40 discount = $285
10  enroll - $50 discount = $275

Bring your writer friends for inspiration and improving on the skills with which God has gifted you - whether you're a beginner or published.There's something (a lot!) for all.

Looking forward to seeing some of you here!


Yvonne Lehman is an award-winning, best-selling author of more than 3,000,000 books in print, who founded and directed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for 25 years, is now director of the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat. She mentors for the Christian Writers Guild. She earned a Master’s Degree in English from Western Carolina University and has taught English and Creative Writing on the college level. Her latest releases include eight ebooks for Barbour’s Truly Yours line and a Harlequin/Heartsong series set in Savannah GA: The Caretaker’s Son, Lessons in Love, Seeking Mr. Perfect, (released in March, August, & November 2013). Her 50th novel is Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the TITANIC.