Sunday, January 29, 2012

The blind leading the blind

 I used to have the time to be very active in our local writing group, to the point that I was a two time President of the organization. Unfortunately these days I nearly always have a place to be working conferences and events when their meetings occur. But that’s beside the point.

I sat in so many classes and crit groups and talked constantly with other writers and amassed a level of knowledge that I was so confident in that I began to teach in the group. The information that I handed out was eagerly received.

Then came the fateful day that we had a bestselling author there to present. He also sat in on my session for beginners. After it was over he quietly said, “You don’t really believe all that garbage you were handing out, do you?”

Well, yeah . . . I did.

I was stunned. I took him out to eat that evening and we talked for a long time. I came to understand two things, first that I had ceased to learn and started to teach, and second that I was getting all of my input from writers who didn’t know any more about it than I did. We shared opinions with each other until we came to accept it as truth.  I gave up teaching until I could reach the point where I could be sure of my subject matter and have a strong level of confidence that I could believe what I was saying was accurate.

Nobody has a handle on exactly how things work in this business. Every time I tell a group that in my experience something works a certain way, someone is sure to point out that some highly successful person did it just the opposite with phenomenal results. Absolutely, there is always the exception that proves the rule.

I’m not a gambler, but I understand playing the odds. If most of the time certain actions are going to produce certain results, I feel no need to try and buck the trend and do the opposite hoping that I can be successful where others are not.

Everyone has something to teach, and I try to be open minded to it all. But am I more likely to learn from someone who has had significant success, or someone who has studied and possesses a lot of information but has not been able to prove that information with results? That was me, I knew a lot, but much of it turned out to be a collection of opinions rather than someone sharing what had proven successful for them.

I was the blind leading the blind.

I teach again now, with many years of experience under my belt, but I don’t JUST teach, I try to constantly learn. I try to learn because teaching without learning means I am soon passing on stagnant information as fast as this business changes. And I constantly tell people in classes and workshops that while I am confident information I pass on is accurate, there is always another way to do everything.

We have to learn to filter and assign weight to people we are learning from based on how likely they are to know the truth of what they are saying, I know these days I sure try to do that. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Some good news

I love it when things are happening.Three clients have debut novels with Oak Tara and have now signed with them for two more books each to make their books into three series. Congratulations to Pam Meyers, Lynda Schab and Suzanne Hartmann. On the left is a picture of Pam signing her contract with Ramona Tucker of Oak Tara.

 On the left is the cover for "Path of Promise," a book in the new Stitches of Time quilting Series from Abingdon Press, to release in February 2013.

Bonnie Calhoun also has a book in the same series at Abingdon set to release in April entitled "Pieces of the Heart."

New Client Sharon Srock just signed with Harbourlight Press for the first two books in her Women of Valley View series. The first book is entitled Callie and the second one is Terri.

Max Elliott Anderson has two books coming out from Comfort Publishing and plans a special 'wolf' promotion for the two of them at once.  The books are "Terror at Wolf Lake" and "Legend of the White Wolf." Should be fun.

Dee Yoder has a new contract from Kregel for her Amish book, "The Miting."

I love it when a plan comes together.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Steven Bly's Last Book

The editor at Center Point Large Print sent me this note about Stephen Bly’s last book. Stephen was a good friend and I consider it an honor to help them get the word out on this last offering:

Center Point Large Print is proud to present Stephen Bly’s latest (and sadly, his last) Western fiction title, Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot. I've attached to this email, the cover art and the text.
Thrilled to be given the opportunity to publish Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot, we at Center Point Large Print were saddened to learn that Steve had succumbed to illness before completing it. So when Janet, Steve’s widow and a published writer, asked if she and her three sons could complete the work as a tribute to Steve, I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. I’m sure you’ll agree that Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot is a tribute to both the character, Stuart Brannon - and to his creator, Stephen Bly. A favorable mention to your readers would be very much appreciated.
For those readers who would like to read the entire Stuart Brannon oeuvre, Greenbrier Book Company will reissue the six books that came before Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot in the spring and summer of 2012 ( <>). 

Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot
By Stephen Bly, with Janet, Russell, Michael and Aaron Bly
Published by Center Point Large Print
Available March 1, 2012
In 1905, at 58 years old, legendary lawman Stuart Brannon - now a rancher and widower - had no intention of leaving his beloved Arizona Territory to attend the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland, Oregon, nor to participate in the celebrity golf tournament for the Willamette Orphan Farm. Even an emotional appeal for his longtime friend didn’t persuade him. His life no longer consisted of bloodthirsty men to track down . . . people trying to kill him . . . lawless gangs preying on the innocent.  

Then the telegram came: Stuart, I need you in Portland. Tim Wiseman is missing. I think there’s a cover-up going on. Tell folks you’re going to the Exposition. Nose around. Find out how a U.S. Marshal can disappear and no one knows why. I’ll contact you there. T.R.
How could he refuse a request from the President of the United States?

Filled with humor and heart, adventure and romance, Stuart Brannon’s Last Shot is the story of a man who embodied the Code of the West.  Christy Award-winning author Stephen Bly (August 17, 1944 - June 8, 2011) wrote 105 books including six Stuart Brannon novels. In Stuart Brannon’s Last Shot, we bid a fond farewell to the character - and to Stephen Bly, his creator.

To this I add, Happy Trails, Steven – we miss you.
Terry Burns

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Years Resolutions

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution?

That’s the traditional way to greet the New Year. Personally, I think the only time I have kept such a resolution is when I resolved not to make any more dang fool resolutions. In our family it was eating black-eyed peas and sauerkraut to welcome the New Year and bring us luck. Well, actually the sauerkraut wasn’t in there, it came from my wife’s side of the family.

We do these things not because we think they will bring us luck but out of tradition. I don’t believe in Luck, I believe in being in God’s favor. Trusting in luck leaves God out of the equation.

All right, if I don’t believe in luck and don’t make resolutions, then starting a New Year is no big deal, right? I wouldn’t say that. Putting the old year behind us and facing the new one with hope and anticipation is a good thing. To me the mechanism for looking forward is not a resolution, but a to-do list.

This is nothing new, there is always a to-do list. Life is good when we are making progress working down the things on our list. Stress comes when the list starts mounting and we don’t seem to be making progress. When that happens it is often because the things on our list are too big, and they are overwhelming us. They need to be broken down into smaller tasks that are achievable.

Writing a book is too big. It needs to be broken into a time period in which we will write a couple of thousand words. Loosing weight is too big, it needs to be losing a couple of pounds in a certain time. Those chores around the house need to be achievable, or broken down.

And some things don’t belong on the list. I smile on a lot of the manuscripts I receive. The plot develops until the protagonist is forced to their knees, forced to admit that they simply cannot resolve the problem facing them. It is written in such as way as if the author has just figured that out for the first time. Probably not, but that might be the case. There are some things we will not make headway on until we admit they are beyond us and we can only turn them over to God.

But lists are immortal. We can never work them off. If we think we have, we look and find there are new items we just haven’t placed there yet. A list is never gone until we die, and even then, someone else has to take what is left on OUR list and add it to THEIR list.

As we face a New Year I hope you have the right things on your list, meaningful and achievable things, and I hope you make wonderful progress in getting them done. That’s what makes a good year.