Friday, August 29, 2008

Got my new cover

Just got an image of the cool new cover for "Beyond the Smoke," the new young adult western coming out from BJU Press in January. I like it a lot and I'm told that the young man on the cover is in high school, single and unattached. The back cover blurb reads:

They were all dead.
No one alive in the whole wagon train.
He was alone.

When Bryan Wheeler’s parents are killed by Comanche raiders, he wonders how he will survive without them. With a few supplies, two guns, and his mother’s Bible, he sets out to create a new life for himself in the western wilderness.
Beyond the Smoke is the story of one young man’s adventures in the Wild West.

Juvenile Fiction/WESTERNSISBN 978-1-59166-929-69 781591669296

I also just signed a contract with Treble Heart Books for A Promise Kept release date not yet announced but it will be in the coming year. I'm about half way through a ghostwriting job for a publisher that will be out in the coming year, without my name on it of course.

Even though I spend most of my time working for my clients, I am trying to keep my own writing alive.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What makes an agent's reputation?

The reputation of an agent is less about them and more about the quality of the clients they represent, and I have a great group of clients.

I turn down new clients even if they have a wonderful project if I can't see a solid place to go with it, and I don't send out existing clients without some sort of a good lead-in that will lift it out of the stack on the desk. I need the reputation of them knowing I send stuff that is well researched and I believe I am getting it. I know this causes some clients to not go out as much as they would like, but when they do it is because I have doccumented a solid shot, and while that is no guarantee of success, I like to think every single submission I send out is in play.

I send out a weekly update to them so they are aware what one another are doing. If I make a contact on their behalf that communication is direct, of course. Brenda Nixon just wrote: "Today, I was called and interviewed for an article in Parents Magazine. The piece will run this winter, possibly January or February. My website will be listed, which gives The Birth to Five Book massive publicity. It'd be super if Revell could piggy-back on the publicity by buying an ad in the Parents issue where I'm quoted or garner a book review. On another note, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, of which I'm co-author, releases September 30. The publisher said it has pre-sold 3,000 copies." Her book "Birth to Five" is coming out soon.

Trish Porter writes: "Thanks for your prayers. I did a tv show called good morning New Mexico, a thirty minute family life radio show plus two extra spots, and a radio show in Washington." (Trish is on deadline for her book "Rekindle Your Dreams) Donn Taylor is finishing up his second book and Graham Garrison just signed a contract with Kregel.

Max Anderson: "I'm in the very, VERY early stages of talking with a 3rd film production company. They are in startup now, with a capitalization of 600 million dollars. This company is also a distributor of films, plus the digital equipment to project it. In the near future, most films will probably be distributed by satellite, and then projected digitally. These are Christian people, but it is much too early to say what's going to happen."

Kevin Collier reports his new TV show is in production and is expected to reach anywhere from 350,000 to 700,000 viewers worldwide. "Jarod and I will appear on "KICKS Club" as frequent guests before and even after our own show, "Drawing for Kicks" is running. So, that means even more potential viewers. They will be promoting my books I am drawing for them there, and books Kristen and I have authored for other publishers."

Celeste Matthews has re-written her "Some of my friends are people" as a fiction entitled "Jessica Taylor Country Vet" and I really like what she has done We'll be going back out with it in the new cnfiguration as I find some applicable markets.

Tim Shoemaker said he got some terrific help from bestsellers Donita Paul and Bryan Davis and used it to make changes in his manuscript "Midnight Shadows." He sent it and a new suggested proposal incorporating some enhancements to his platform along with some requests from editors he has scored at recent conferences he has been working. These will be going out immediately.

We still have several authors getting full reads, a terrific sign, and still others who have advanced beyond that to committee level. People, that's a lot of action for a small group of 50 writers. I know it is encouraging for those it is happening for, but it should also be encouraging where it isn't happening yet. This much activity and 24 completed deals is raising our visibility and getting projects looked at very seriously.

Did I mention I'm proud of these folks?

Monday, August 18, 2008


Bonnie Calhoun (Publisher of Christian Fiction Online Magazine) is a wizard with this internet stuff. Bonnie took it on herself to spruce up my website a little. It has a new look on the landing page now and the bookstore. Pages are going to start changing now as they are revised one at a time to show the new navigation bar ar the top and should open much faster with the streamlined code she is incorporating into it. She's doing an awesome job and setting it up where I can maintain it myself.

That's a chore in itself. You've heard the saying that "you can't teach an old dog new tricks?" I'm here to tell you that just isn't true . . . but they do have to be EASY tricks. She's promising they'll be tricks I can handle.

Every time I think I have recovered from the computer crash something else has happened. eMail problems, host problems, software problems, learning a new operating system (Vista) as well as new primary software (upgrading to Office 2007) which causes me to constantly be looking for where things are when I knew where they were in the old software. Any one of these chores would be a challenging task, but doing them all at one has gone way past challenging.

I wouldn't have stood a chance of pulling this off without Bonnie's help. You may have noticed that I put my blog on blogger now and it is set up to also display on the front page of the site. You can see it either place or over on shoutlife where there are so very many Christian writers.

My clients have been very understanding when my efforts on their behalf practically came to a standstill, and left me so backed up that I am getting back up to speed very slowly. I really appreciate their understanding and support. As I said, the pages will continue to change until all of the site is back up completely. In the meantime the old pages still work, except the navagation bar on some of them doesn't point back to the new home page. We can live with that until the transition is complete.

Okay, back to learning new tricks . . . sit . . . roll over . . . scratch my tummy.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Sounds like a sign on an empty store in a mall. Back when I first decided to set up a website I mocked up some pages in Word to show the guy who ran the small server that I was putting it on what I have in mind. I even had the bookmarks and hyperlinks in it necessary for it to work. He told me to
rename the First page “Index,” to save them as html pages and the site would work the way I had it.

I did and it worked like a charm. I’ve maintained the site in Word for years now. It was fast and very simple. I had a lot of content in it and a lot of people used the library of writing links or went to the blog that I change several times a week. The number of pages looked at went over 3 million and the number of unique visitors is approaching 440,000. It was working.

One of my clients, Bonnie Calhoun, who writes great suspense/thrillers is also the head of the Christian Blog Alliance and the Publisher of the Christian Fiction Online Magazine. In other words, she’s really good at this online stuff. She said the site was getting too big and important to be such a cobbled together bunch of pages and said she’d show me how to do a first class landing page and how I could do a better job with the remaining pages.

Bonnie is a pro and I would be a fool not to listen to her. Watch this space and see how it changes.

Now let me change horses. I don’t know if Elmer Kelton is on a crusade or not, but if he is I want to sign on. I think everybody in the country ought to get a copy of the July issue of Texas Monthly where Elmer decries the current trend of applying the term “Cowboy” in a negative sense, particularly in politics and I couldn’t agree more. When somebody does that, whether the listener supports or opposes the person it is applied to, it angers a good part of the entire population of the west.

A cowboy is a hard-working hand that generally holds to a set of principles no politician could ever hope to match. The name has to be earned, it can’t be purchased in a Western store with a big hat and a pair of boots. I’ve worked on ranches some and did some time at a rodeo, but it still isn’t something I would ever call myself. But if someone else applies it to me I consider it a high honor. Be warned, those of you who insist on applying the word negatively, it could . . . no . . . probably will affect you much more than whoever you are trying to impact.