Self-publishing has taken Christian literature to a more honest place: A guest post by Brian Holers

Today I am re-posting this Guest Post from Emlyn Chand and Brian Holers. I hope it will inspire all you Christian writers to begin to expand your story lines. Oh…buy a copy of Doxology too…!

Posted by  on Mar 7, 2012 in BlogBlog Tour StopsGuest Posts | 3 comments

Self-publishing has taken Christian literature to a more honest place:  A guest post by Brian Holers
Please enjoy this guest post by Brian Holers, author of the literary novel,Doxology. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $450 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

 

Not just for Christians

One of the beauties of self-publishing is that the gatekeeper has been fired. In this new world of books made possible by the Internet, no one is left to guard the door. To tell the reader what is what. This state of affairs may introduce an element of confusion for dogmatic readers, but the good news is, new breeds of literature are being created.

Self-publishing allows literature to cross over in new ways. Traditional Christian fiction publishers, for instance, disallow most references to sex, and even the most juvenile profanity. Self-publishing changes this. Not to suggest a writer should ever debase a genre—as writers we are obliged to choose our words carefully. But the old Christian books kept many readers away. “I’m not going to read that. That’s Christian. It’s boring.” Still, nearly every Christian I know periodically swears, fights, and even becomes amorous from time to time. Christians like good stories too, with depth of character, excitement, whimsy, action. The success of a book like The Shackshows the need for stories of real people dealing with real problems, in a faith-based context. It doesn’t even have to be good literature.

As humans, we all look for answers. Stories are stories. Conflict builds to crisis, which leads to a form of resolution. Sure, some people never doubt their faiths, even in the face of horrible tragedy. Others do. Some never ascribed to a faith in the first place, and instead spend their days casting about for a context to this condition we call humanness. The problem with much traditional Christian literature is this; when a character is pushed to a crisis, and the only change we read is “he fell on his knees, then and there, and accepted Jesus into his heart,” that incident may describe a beautiful sentiment, and may have value to a real person in real life, but as a reader, it doesn’t tell me anything. A reader wants details. He wants to see the sweat break out. She wants to hear the thoughts and words that accompany the character’s condition. Literature is literature. We want to see development. We want to get inside the characters. We want to get to know them. That’s why we care. Regardless of the genre label put on the book.

Doxology is a story in between. The book has a religious message; given its primary setting in rural north Louisiana, that message is Christian. But the characters are just people. They experience the same emotions all people do—love, joy, loss. Their conflicts grow and grow until they must be resolved. Like real people, they go astray, take paths of separation from God, or just from what is good for them. They experience desires that can never be fulfilled, want things that can never be had or even understood. They discover the traits in their lives that aren’t working, and set out to find new habits that will work. Many Christian values are universal—a belief, despite evidence to the contrary, that our lives are worthwhile. An understanding that letting go, and learning how little we are in charge, makes life more manageable. A certainty that the kindness and compassion we offer to others is returned to us a hundredfold.

Some say God. Some say the universe. But we all–when we’re honest, and when we pay attention, have a sense of something looking out for us, giving us what we need. Putting people we need into our lives. We give credit for these gifts as we see fit. Good literature promotes a point of view by showing the reader how a character’s modes of operation and beliefs work for her (or don’t). Good literature, whatever its genre, lets the reader inside. Lets the reader do part of the work. Doxology, in this vein, is a story at the crossroad of God and man. It presents God as the characters experience God, and as real people experience God, looking out for them, giving them what they need. Coming to understand how God has been there all along.

Doxology is a love story. Faith plays a role, as it helps the characters find answers and resolution, improves their lives. Like Jody and Vernon and the others, we all look for redemption from brokenness of the past. They and we find it, as people both real and imaginary alike do, in family, friends, productive work, a sense of place, a faith in something greater. Doxology is a story, first and foremost. Its characters face problems. Their conflicts grow. They look for resolutions and ultimately find them, imperfect as they are. We the readers get to know them, and we care. We sympathize. They matter.

 

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the DoxologyeBook edition is just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing this fantastic book at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $450 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of the book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Purchase your copy of Doxology for just 99 cents
  2. Fill-out the simple form on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event

About the book: Fathers, sons and brothers reconnect over tragedy in this blue-collar Southern tale of love, loss, and the healing power of community and family. Get it on Amazonor Barnes & Noble.

About the author: An arborist by day and a novelist in every moment he can steal, Brian makes up stories from the treetops. Visit Brian on his websiteTwitterFacebook, or GoodReads.

10 reasons why writing is easier than ever

Last year I established an organisation called Writing2day. The aim is to inform, educate and resource writers from a current perspective on the craft of writing. We are beginning to fulfill our mission statement.

So, with the thought on writing today, I offer the following bold statement that ‘writing is easier today than ever before’.

Here are the reasons.  Continue reading “10 reasons why writing is easier than ever”

Time For Reflection

Do you feel the well has dried up? Have you hit a blank page? Has the light gone out? Is the Muse departed? Is the flow of your imaginings dammed up? Yes, I know you are probably reading this and screaming ‘mixed metaphors!’ But I have a purpose.

Whatever genre of writing we are involved in and however much we may wake up full of vigour for the writing task – the truth is, when we least want it, need it or expect it, our gift vanishes. That’s why the Muse and I have so many spats…I love her dearly, but she goes away without a word…like a morning cloud vanishes from the mountain top. When the gift is gone, the worst thing we can do is stress and try to make it work. Here’s my suggestion for restarting the flow:

Take a seat in a quiet and favoured spot and relax. For me it is the old log outside the Muse Shack that is a fallen tree. Something happens when I sit there. I connect with something beyond myself…a stirring begins that is different every time, but looks a bit like this:

All the pent-up and unacknowledged stresses of my life are laid down as I give myself to the inspiration of my landscapes. As soon as my body and hands interact with that ancient seat…I become aware of all the things I could not experience five minutes before…textures, colors, smells, scents, sounds (minute some of them), feelings, emotions, desires, wishes, memories, people, places, events (gone and yet to be), pain, happiness, special joys, accolades, disappointments, fears, hopes, dreams, places that fascinated, dark places I never want to see…and shall I go on? In a few minutes of respite in a favoured place, the well is flowing, the light has come on…get the picture?

The secret is to allow yourself to feel, to sense, to smell, to hear…extend every little thought and experience out in a ‘free-flow’ way…what does it feel like when a bug from the tree is crawling up my leg? There’s a character in there…a scene…a  moment of hilarity or anger in the past. Sight of a Damselfly and the scent of Barley fumes sparked my poem ‘North East in Eden’. I’m sure you get my drift!

You see…the Muse is never far away! She is always ready to fly to my need…all I need to do is allow her freedom and then sit quietly and let her know I need her. She never disappoints.

Oh…I carry a notebook and a sharpened memory because the Muse gives me a hard time if I forget what she has brought to my attention.

10 Surefire Ways to Self-Publishing Success

In this post I am going to share with you 10 things you need to put in place to ensure your self-publishing success. These will help you to avoid the stigma that has been traditionally experienced by authors choosing this publishing route. I will be sharing links that you can follow to support you in your endeavours. I have not been offered an incentive to include any links, you will not be asked for money, nor does anyone pay me commissions. Self-published books have often deserved the stigma that is attached to them. So to ensure that your book stands out, is purchased and is read, follow these tips from the very start of your writing endeavours and you will achieve success:

1. Be aware of what you want to achieve as an author and for your book. If you know what you want to achieve, you are more likely to get there. Without a plan the delay in getting your book published may be just as long as if you had submitted it into the Publishing Lottery mentioned in my last post. Worse still, it may never be published.

2. Make sure you have a good book to offer. One of the most frequently asked questions of a reader is ‘is that book good’? That’s what we immediately want to know before anything else. If the answer is yes, we may go out and buy it ourselves. For a book to be good It will need to draw an emotional response from the reader; there will be an obvious level of suspense and the plot will leave the reader wanting to know more; believable characters are essential, your reader wants to identify with the good characters and loathe the bad ones; plenty of action is paramount, with conflict-resolution-conflict driving the reader to turn the page in hope of more. Simple matters are paramount such as spelling, grammar and layout. If it is not good, don’t publish until it is.

3. Gain the skills of self-publishing while you write. Self publishing is a process that can be learned alongside your writing. Be aware of the pros and cons and assess whether or not you have the time, skills and finances to self-publish; don’t be put off, thousands of authors are choosing this route for the cost-effective opportunity it provides. Don’t wait until the book is finished to find out what to do next. Be ahead of the game and prepared to publish when your book is done. If your book is already written then take time to research and implement the skills required for self- publishing.  There is no need to invest in an expensive course since information abounds on-line and at Amazon.com.

4. Set a budget. Some writers have been so enthusiastic to get their work into print that they have spent thousands of dollars and even bankrupted themselves. Beware of sharks; there are plenty of people out there who are happy to separate the author from her money. The good news is that in today’s word of Digital Publishing, you can self publish on a budget. Even though self publishing can be inexpensive, the last thing you want is that you run out of finances halfway through the process.  There are numerous books on the subject and If you link with other writers through social networking, you will be able to gain realistic forecasts of what you need to expend throughout the life of the publishing project.

5. Consider what form of self-publishing you will opt for. Traditional routes will prove time consuming and expensive. If you decide on Print-On-Demand (POD) then consider using the services of a POD printer that has inside connections with Amazon such as createspace.com. Digital publishing is now a respected enterprise and publishing an e-book is the most cost effective route of all to reach the widest market.  Kindle reaches a vast market offering Authors up to 70% royalties. It costs nothing to have your book published in Kindle format. The self- publishing route you choose will depend on the goals you have as an author.

6. Source the help you will need to self-publish without a great deal of expense. In the process of self-publishing you will become, or need, a copy editor, proof-reader, cover artist and marketing director. It is possible for you to be all of these, but do not overlook social networking and all the assistance that is out there. There is no need in today’s writing world to feel isolation and lack of support as you make those final steps toward your writing goals. You will be surprised how much help is available when you offer to give something back.

7. Become competent at Social Networking. It is easy, fun, supportive, energizing and cost-free.   I met a woman last week at a lecture with author Jack Mapanje. She informed me that she was going to write her life story and had bought a computer and booked on to courses for word processing and networking skills -she was 81 years old. There are four things that you need to succeed on-line, A Website, a Blog, a Twitter account and a Facebook account. There are many others to choose from, but a trawl of a few blogs and websites will soon reveal that the successful independent publishers are using these. Also consider joining Author Networks, these assist networking and give that wonderful sense of being part of something dynamic – great for curing feelings of isolation.

8. Ensure that you have a striking cover. This is essential even if you are publishing electronically. I refuse to buy an e-book that does not have a cover; to do so is like having photocopied sheets stuffed amongst books on a regular bookshelf. My e-reader bookshelf is as important to me as my bookshelf in my home. A great cover sells a book (all my life I have bought books on their covers). Networking on Twitter has allowed me to find and to communicate with good artists who can provide professional artwork for books, blogs and websites at affordable prices.

9. Make sure your book is for sale through several on-line providers. Your goal may be to solely sell through Amazon.com, but since Amazon will compete with other online booksellers, it pays to have your book listed with booksellers such as Barnes and Noble and others. Make sure you are on Smashwords who distribute e-books to retailers such as iBooks, Sony, Diesel and other retailers. Listing your book is free and they will convert your book to e-reader format for no charge, though they do take a percentage of sales.

10. Book reviews, book reviews, book reviews. Use every opportunity open to you to get book reviews that are well written, preferably by readers and writers of your genre. Sign up to goodreads.com and become familiar with fellow authors. You will find that there is a great deal of goodwill and reciprocity between writers online and a polished review that ends up shared through Social Networking, is priceless publicity. I buy the majority of my e-books as a result of reviews and I am seldom disappointed. Use as many review opportunities as you can find time to manage and be sure that you use Amazon for free reviews.

Finally, (yes, this makes 11 tips) and I use it to reinforce my insistence that you – keep writing. Your fan base want to see more work…they really do! So capitalize on your next books success by following all these tips from today. I’ll be watching for your work and if you have followed these ideas, I’ll most likely be buying some of it too!

Meet the Author:

David McLoughlin has been writing since childhood. His work comprises lifestyle articles, short stories, counseling courses, speeches, lectures and poetry. Later in 2011 his first book of poetry will appear ‘No Perfect Reason – No Perfect Rhyme. He is working on ‘Aftershock’ a novel describing the descent into chaos of one life after a bomb blast. David has has been a mentor to authors and writers since 1992 and runs events for the performance of poetry and readings. You can follow David on @veryshortpoetry or drop into the Muse Shack – There is always a cup of something to drink and he will introduce you to the Muse who may offer you some ideas.

Prizes

Birthday Letters

Starting from this week I am going to be transferring my poetry pages to this blog. Poems will appear under their own tabs and these pages will present an opportunity for readers of my blog to have their poetry featured in the ‘Poem of the Month section.

Have you written a piece of work that you wish to see published online? Okay, don’t waste anytime – paste it into the comments section and have it included in a competition to be entered in the Poem of the Month. As an incentive, I am giving away a copy of ‘Birthday Letters’ by Ted Hughes in hardback. Eight poems will be selected for the rest of the year and the one considered outstanding will be the receiver of the prize. The competition is open to entrants from anywhere in the world. All submissions must be in English and may take any form. You will retain full rights over your work and it will not be shared with third parties.

I have the delight to be able to visit Ted Hughes’ village each two weeks and to be captivated by the landscapes that were such an influence in his poetry. It seems that the Yorkshire Pennines were his Muse and his poems reflect his life lived in those harsh and dramatic landscapes. What inspires you? What becomes your Muse? Or are you like me…I can write with and without a Muse!

Submit a short story on what inspires you and I’ll throw in another literature prize for the best story.

I am looking forward to all those entries and I hope you are looking forward to seeing your work on the new poetry pages when I transfer them to this blog.

Good luck.

Full Time Writer

This morning I read a Tweet from a young man wishing to know how to become a full-time writer. I clicked through to the blog that provided a range of answers to the young man’s query from a range of those who are already writers. Some were encouraging in their replies, others poured cold water on the inquirer’s efforts to break into writing full time…even I was left with the notion that it is all just an endless slog with no real gain…so why not just become a slave to the alarm clock and some other master? I thought.

I would not attempt to pretend that breaking into writing as a full-time career is easy and most of the advice offered by respondents was sound. However, if one wishes to write and make money while writing and getting their first works accepted, there is always the option of launching a website and sell affiliate writing programs off your site. Now I am not suggesting that anyone quits a secure job straight away, but with as little as an hour a day you could soon make that a realistic goal. Like writing itself, it is down to time, effort and skill.

If you have a modest knowledge of the Internet, know how to set up and maintain a website, then this might be a way for you to make that extra income that allows you to reach for your dreams.

If you have a website then Gary McLaren, Editor, Worldwide Freelance Writer, has prepared an ebook of the best Writing Affiliate Programs. OK, it will cost about $9, but what other business has lower start-up costs than writing, or has such certain work-from-home possibilities?

Here is a link for you to take a look at what Gary has to offer