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Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sunday Devotion

Hold Up Traffic If You Must
Janet Rubin

It’s mating season for the gangs of wild turkeys loitering in my neighborhood.

This time each year, the male turkeys start acting goofy. While females peck about the lawn, males strut around them, spreading their feathers until they look like big, puffy balls resembling over-developed body builders.

They hold their little blue heads high, showing off that dangly skin beneath their beaks. The females don’t look remotely interested, but each year fuzzy baby turkeys do appear, so the guys must score.

Watching them is amusing until you’re trying to get somewhere like I was last night, and you get caught in turkey traffic. I breezed along a Connecticut back-road when the three cars in front of me slowed to a stop. Craning my neck, I saw the holdup—six male turkeys putting on a parade. Drivers in the opposite lane watched and grinned, too.

Two full minutes later, grins were gone. Cross the road already and quit showing off! We have places to go! At least this craziness only lasts for a season.

There is a time when it is for writers to strut their stuff too. Once we’ve written, rewritten and polished, there comes a time when we must begin pursuing publication—writing queries and proposals that display our best possible writing.

Many of us, who are insecure, might feel like turkeys as we seek the attention of editors, agents and publishers. Promoting ourselves feels unnatural and we’d prefer to crawl back into our cozy computer chairs and spin tales. Persistently spreading our feathers is par for the course though, if we want to be published.

In Luke 18, Jesus told a parable about a persistent widow who kept coming to a certain judge pleading for justice against her adversary. For awhile, the judge puts her off, but eventually gives in saying, “Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice…”

While we seek publication, not justice, the same principal applies: persistence pays off. If the process of seeking publication is getting you down, if you’ve collected enough rejection letters to wallpaper your house and the publishers aren’t looking any more interested than the girls turkeys on my lawn…. Just keep on spreading those feathers.

This process can be wearisome, but I know that if You’ve given me this talent and You want my work published, it will happen. Please help me to persevere through the parts of being a writer that don’t come easy. Thank you for using all of this, even the waiting and the discouraging times, to teach me and help me grow.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

S'up Saturday

It's almost here... Ane Mulligan and Jessica Dotta are coming on board next week! Woohoo. What shall I do with my free time? Lay in the sun reading Pullitzer prize winners perhaps? Maybe I'll actually get some writing done.

Next week's line-up includes quite possibly our most informative interview yet with editor/author Karen Ball. Karen reveals what Zondervan is looking for, why she believes publicity is so important, and the secret to writing from your heart.

She also reveals Zondervan's new line of
_________ novels and what they'll be looking for.

(You'll have to read the interview to find out.
But this will interest many of you!)

Ane Mulligan will be interviewing editor/author Eva Marie Everson.

And last but not least, publicist/novelist Jessica Dotta will share some fascinating and useful piece of information on her publicity expertise. (I'm very much looking forward to learning how to publicize my own book!)

So, as you can see,we're working hard for you! I couldn't be more excited about the things to come.

Please pray for Davis Bunn as most of you know he sustained a serious shark bite and though he and his hundred plus stitches are healing, he has a long road of rehabilitation ahead of him. He will no doubt go through frustrations. Par for the course.

Congratulations to these Christy nominees:

Contemporary (Stand-Alones)

Grace at Low Tide
by Beth Webb Hart (WestBow Press)

Levi's Will
by W. Dale Cramer (Bethany House Publishers)

Wrapped in Rain
by Charles Martin (WestBow Press)

Contemporary (Series, Sequels and Novellas)

Living With Fred
by Brad Whittington (Broadman & Holman)

Moment of Truth
by Sally John (Harvest House Publishers)

The Road to Home
by Vanessa Del Fabbro (Steeple Hill)

Glimpses of Paradise
by James Scott Bell (Bethany House Publishers)

The Noble Fugitive
by T. Davis & Isabella Bunn (Bethany House Publishers)

Whence Came a Prince
by Liz Curtis Higgs (WaterBrook Press)

A Bride Most Begrudging
by Deeanne Gist (Bethany House Publishers)

Chateau of Echoes
by Siri L. Mitchell (NavPress)

In Sheep's Clothing
by Susan May Warren (SteepleHill)


Comes a Horseman
by Robert Liparulo (WestBow Press)

Last Light
by Terri Blackstock (Zondervan)

River Rising
by Athol Dickson (Bethany House Publishers)


Legend of the Emerald Rose
by Linda Wichman (Kregel Publications)

The Presence
by Bill Myers (Zondervan)

Shadow Over Kiriath
by Karen Hancock (Bethany House Publishers)

First Novel

Like a Watered Garden
by Patti Hill (Bethany House Publishers)

The Road to Home
by Vanessa Del Fabbro (SteepleHill)

This Heavy Silence
by Nicole Mazzarella (Paraclete Press)

Friday, April 28, 2006

Author Interview ~ Elizabeth White

Beth White, writing as Elizabeth White, was born in Mobile, Alabama and reared in north Mississippi. A former music and high school English teacher, she now lives with her minister husband, Scott, in Mobile. The Whites have two teenagers, Ryan and Hannah, and are owned by a Boston terrier named Angel. Visit her web-site@

What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?

Fireworks is my first project to release from Zondervan. It will come out in May, 2006 (I believe CBD has it listed as April 7). It’s a humorous romance with a little twist of mystery/suspense, set in Alabama. It features a pyrotechnics designer who accidentally blows up the Mobile Convention Center, the former ATF agent whom the insurance company sends to investigate him, and her hard-of-hearing black Lab named Montmorency.

Click here to read a review.

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head.

I have been writing and drawing since I was big enough to pick up a pencil, but I finished my first novel while my son was a baby—that was nineteen years ago. When I got a “bite” from a Christian publisher with that first book—though it was ultimately rejected—I set my mind to learning how to write a publishable manuscript. I joined Romance Writers of America and started going to workshops and conferences. I also took a college fiction writing course. In 1998 (ten years after that first novel) I met an editor from Tyndale House who took an interest in my work. I sold my first novella to Tyndale in December of that year. I remember being home alone when I got the message on the answering machine—nobody to share it with but the dog. She was thrilled.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

I challenge myself to write a more complex book with every project. Without fail I start out thinking I am far too ignorant, too inexperienced, too spiritually immature to write about whatever the given elements are. And I get terrified. Half the time I think this is the adversary poisoning my joy in serving with God’s good gift; the other half of the time the process seems to be the Lord’s way of making sure I’m weak enough to rely on His everlasting strength. I’ve written about the complexities of protecting our national borders; fireworks design and explosives investigation; prostitution and animal rights, and many other topics that boggle my mind if I think about it too hard. I’m working on a story involving judicial politics at the moment. Yes, I’m scared. But God is big.

What’s the worst mistake you’ve made while seeking publication?

That first publisher who expressed interest in my very first novel said “we like your writing and your characters—send us something else in another genre.” I didn’t realize they were serious. I thought they were just being nice. So I didn’t submit anything else for another two years!

What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?

Submit only your very best work.

What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

There are some hills not worth dying on.

Do you have a scripture or quote that has been speaking to you lately?

Just this morning I read a devotional in My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, based on John 4:11—the story of the woman at the well. The gist of it is, we often question Jesus’ ability to provide whatever it is we need for the life He’s called us to. That speaks to me as a writer. How dare I be frightened (as I mentioned in one of the above questions) of the story He’s graciously planted in my imagination? His well is plenty deep, and He’s got living water ready to pour out and transform not only me but the lives of unknown men and women who will read my work. That’s a big thing. A humbling thing.

Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?

Yes, there was a setback a few years ago. I had a three-book contract cancelled because of an unsatisfactory first draft manuscript that couldn’t be revised into shape. That was rather humiliating. But I learned from it; stringently rewrote the two rejected manuscripts and wound up selling them to other publishers for a total of five sales.

What are a few of your favorite books? (Not written by you.)

The Atonement Child by Francine Rivers. In My Enemy’s Arms by R. T. Stevens. Cordelia’s Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold. One Good Turn by Carla Kelly. The Mysterious Rider by Zane Grey. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. The Princess Bride by William Goldman. Have you got all day?

What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?

I love “The Trouble With Tommy,” my novella from Sweet Delights, a HeartQuest anthology from Tyndale. I think it’s funny and true and really southern. I’ve gotten more mail on that little novella than any other book so far. Actually, the upcoming novels Fireworks and Fair Game are both spin-offs of “Tommy.”

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

Not really. Unless it’s the “hurry up and wait thing.” Seems like you submit something and spend months or years waiting to hear back on it—then, once you’ve sold, the publisher wants material from the author yesterday!

Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

It’s embarrassing. I get up and make coffee, feed the dog, have breakfast and Bible study. Then read email until I can’t put off opening up whatever document I’m supposed to be working on. There is no typical day.
For weeks at a time I might be scoping out research materials—either on the internet, in personal interviews, books, newspapers, whatever. During the research period I’m formulating character sketches, “hero’s journeys,” “snowflakes”—trying to structure the backbone of a plot. Closer to deadline (three or four months out) I slowly start writing, spending about three hours a day hacking out a scene or two at a time. Rewriting as I go, getting frustrated, chunking it in a “leftovers” file, maybe even starting over. Once I even got halfway through the novel and started completely from scratch. It’s not pretty.

Maybe a month from deadline it’s getting serious, I’m having panic attacks (figuratively), my children think the Wicked Witch of the North has moved in, and I write eight to ten hours a day. I do not want to do this. I promise not to do it next time. I am a sick person.

Anyway, mixed in with these jags of composition I answer lots of email, try to exercise an hour every day, go to lunch with a friend once a week or so, try to remember to update my website, shovel junk off the kitchen counter periodically, say hello to my teenagers and my husband. Oh, and on Sunday mornings I get to go play with the second-graders in Plugged-In Bible Study at FBC North Mobile. What a blast that is! They make me laugh and teach me about God.

If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?

I’ve read Francine Rivers’ description of her notebook system of writing, and how she disciplines herself with daily page count. I admire that organization and discipline so much, especially considering her awesome production. That’s the Lord’s anointing. I also admire her humble spirit.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

Honestly—I just want to be a stronger writer with every book, to make less plotting mistakes, to get out of the way so that the Lord will have something to say through me. I don’t think I can dream big enough.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

Favorite: reading and answering fan letters. I like connection with readers, finding out what the Lord is doing with my work. Least favorite: the first draft. It’s way slower than I like for it to be, which makes me feel stupid.

How much marketing do you do? Any advice in this area?

I write back to the people who have written to me. Before a book releases, I send emails and/or postcards to people who have indicated an interest in hearing about them. I visit bookstores and give away autographed copies of books when it seems appropriate. I arrange a couple of book signings for every book that releases, show up when people ask me to speak (I never seek those out—I’m not fond of public speaking), and do these kinds of written interviews. My best advice is simple manners and common courtesy. Be open and friendly, excited about my work, but not pushy. That works best for me.

Parting words?

If God has called you to write, it’s a wonderful and challenging job and ministry. Don’t be afraid of hard work, and don’t expect success to fall into your lap. And don’t expect success to look like what you think it will. I know that’s obscure, but it’s the best way I can say it. I’ve walked with the Lord long enough to know His economy is often backwards and wrong-side-out. He may call me to write one book that reaches one person—and then that’s it. And I have to be okay with that. On the other hand, if He chooses to bless with lots of books and lots of sales, I’d better be ready to share in whatever way, through whatever doors He opens—and some of those doors are going to look pretty weird.Thank you for giving me a chance to share my heart here. I hope I’ve said something useful.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Author Interview ~ Melody Carlson

Melody Carlson has published over ninety books for children, teens, and adults, many of which have appeared on ECPA bestseller lists. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards, including the Romance Writers of America’s Rita Award, Romance Writers of America’s Readers’ Choice Award, and the ECPA Gold Medallion Award. She and her husband have two grown sons and live in Central Oregon.

What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?

On This Day is a novel about five very different women attending a destination wedding—all set within one day. With a focus on romance and relationship, the reader is exposed to a variety of situations and all the various emotions that can be found at a wedding.

Each chapter is told from the perspective of one of the five central women, and the action flows naturally from woman to woman as each tells her story. From one woman’s pain of postpartum depression to another’s discovery of her husband’s affair to yet another woman who plans to end a 25-year marriage, On This Day relates to readers the events of not a perfect day, but a day that, like life, is filled with all the difficulties and discoveries the world has to offer.

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head.

I was one of the lucky ones who got published relatively quickly. Within my first year of writing I sold several short stories—I think the first one was with Ideals (a memoir about my grandma’s house). But entering the book publishing world was a bigger challenge. It took a couple of year’s worth of rejection letters. And, while I had lots of interest in a variety of my fiction books (primarily juvenile and YA) I finally had an editor ask me if I could write a nonfiction book (she thought she could get the publisher interested in nonfiction) so I wrote a proposal for How to Start a Quality Childcare Center in Your Home.

The editor was right, the publisher (Thomas Nelson) bought it. I was working at an international adoption agency at the time and the editor called me at work with the good news, and I was so excited I ran around and told some of my fellow “writing friends” and we all celebrated. Now, more than 100 contracts later, I have to chuckle about how thrilled I was over what turned out to be the smallest advance I ever got on anything. But it was my first.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

Of course! I usually have great, big doubts at the beginning of a book—and I’ll make up any excuse I can think of to procrastinate (including things like cleaning under the refrigerator). Then I force myself to sit down and get going on the book and I don’t allow myself to obsess over it. But then when I’m finished with the book, I’ll often think it was the worst thing I’ve ever written. Then some time passes and I get feedback from the publisher and I realize that it’s not so bad after all.

What mistakes have you made while seeking publication?

Early on I think I devalued my own abilities and consequently let some publishers take unfair advantage of me. I didn’t have an agent then and I probably agreed to some things that I shouldn’t have. But it was a good lesson and I don’t regret it.

What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?

It’s probably the old “write what you know” bit. I know it sounds trite, but it’s so true. You need to write about things you understand, have experienced, are passionate about…and then you’ll write something that others want to read.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve heard?

“Why try? You’ll never get published.” It seems funny now, but I remember some well-meaning people saying various forms of that. It’s like they didn’t want me to get my hopes up because the possibility of actually publishing a book was so remote—like winning the lottery. Guess I proved them wrong.

What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

I think the biggest challenge that myself and most unpublished writers face is not being familiar with “the market.” I know this gets preached at writers’ conferences, but “understanding the market” is a hard concept to grasp. I actually went to work for a publisher just so that I could learn what this meant. The funny thing is that “the market” is constantly changing, and it differs between publishing houses. But do your best—and perhaps more important than knowing the market is to know yourself and what can you write the best.

Do you have a scripture or quote that has been speaking to you lately?

I’ve been thinking about Proverbs 3:5-6 lately (an old favorite that’s always a comfort). Here’s my own paraphrase, “Don’t rely on your own limited knowledge, but trust God with your whole heart. Include God in all areas of your life and He’ll show you which way to go.”

Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?

I know that it doesn’t seem fair, but my writing career has gone pretty steadily upward and forward and I’m as amazed as anyone. If it makes other struggling writers feel any better, I’ve had some pretty tough challenges in my personal life (two grown sons who’ve gone through some extremely hard trials) and I would gladly trade some of my writing success to take away some of their pain. Of course, God doesn’t work like that.

What are a few of your favorite books? (Not written by you)

Most books by Elizabeth Berg, Anne Tyler, Jane Austin. I really like books written by women that focus on relationships.

What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?

I really like how Finding Alice turned out (it’s a novel about schizophrenia). The book’s been optioned as a movie and is currently looking like it might possibly happen (although it’s still a long shot).

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

I’m not crazy about public speaking. I can do it (and know that I need to) but one of the reasons I was sold on fiction (when I first started writing) was that I heard that fiction authors didn’t have to do publicity. Well, that changed a few years ago and I’m dealing with it.

Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

I head to my office (upstairs in the guesthouse about 30 feet from our house) at about nine in the morning. I do my email and office work for about an hour. Then I start writing. I always quickly review the last chapter I wrote and then head right into the next and go for it. I try to take a midday break to go workout or take a walk. Then I come back and write some more. I usually quit around four. Because my schedule is flexible, I can take a day off if needed, and sometimes I write on the road (when we take the motorhome out for a few days).

If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?

I really admire how Jane Kirkpatrick so thoroughly researches her historical novels. I know she enjoys the researching almost as much as the writing and she makes wonderful discoveries along the way. Sometimes I wish I could take the time to do this. Unfortunately my writing schedule doesn’t allow that. And, lucky for me, I don’t do historicals that require that kind of research.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

I’m still very interested in film and TV. I’ve written one screenplay and taken one class. But I don’t have a lot of time to explore this. I do have some Hollywood connections (a manager for optioning my books) and a couple of producers who are already involved with my work. But when/if time allows I’d like to pursue this a bit more. Still, it’s like the Proverbs verse above. I need to trust God for the timing of this. In the meantime, I’ll just keep doing what He puts before me.

Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?

Not seriously. Sometimes I jokingly consider other careers that I might look into if I was unable to contract another book or just suddenly went blank. So far that’s not been a problem. But it could happen and if it did, I have no doubt that there’d be something exciting around the next corner. Although I suspect I’d keep writing just for the fun of it.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

My favorite part is that I love to write. I love to create. I love to explore characters, relationships, conflicts, etc.. Hmm, my least favorite part? Oh, yeah, the publicity. I wish I could clone part of myself to handle that and I’d tell my clone to go out and be funny and smart and clever, and just leave the writer part of me alone. Okay, maybe not. And the truth is, once I go out and start talking to people about my writing, I usually have a pretty good time. But I am a bit of a hermit too.

How much marketing do you do? Any advice in this area?

Right, weren’t we just talking about this and how I don’t enjoy it? Anyway, I try to be a responsible author and I do pretty much everything the publishers set up for me. But the truth is I don’t go out of my way to set things up for myself. My publishers understand that I am first of all a writer and that marketing and publicity are secondary. I do have a wonderful publicist (she works with several houses) and she understands me and does a great job of setting things up that aren’t too overwhelming. However, I know that publishers love to get their hands on an author who is good at self promotion. So if this is your gift and you can write too—well, you’ll be a hot commodity.

Parting words?

I didn’t start seriously writing until I was in my mid thirties. The reason I put it off was because I took my ability to write for granted. It came easily to me, causing me think it wasn’t very special. The reason I started writing seriously was because I felt like I was either going to write or burst, and writing seemed less painful. My point is that we often take our gifts for granted. We don’t see ourselves in the same way that others do. So, if you have a gift for writing, accept that it’s from God and put it to good use. Then develop thick skin and send your work out—and don’t despair when you’re rejected. It’s simply paying your dues. My reaction to rejections was to simply write more (eventually it all got published). So, write, write, write. And God bless!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Guest Blogger ~ Kristin Billerbeck

Kristin Billerbeck is the author of twenty novels, including What a Girl Wants, An Unbreakable Hope and She's Out of Control. A graduate of San Jose State University, Kristin majored in Advertising. She now resides in California with her husband and four children.

I think this blog is so aptly named Novel journey...because as a writer, it is most definitely a journey and not a destination. Naturally, when you're not published yet, you think it's all about publication.

But then comes this horrible realization: you're not as in it for the money or the kudos, as you once thought. No, you simply love words, love to see them strung together and create your own special world. You have read your favorites again and again, trying to analyze why those books captivate you and when you're finished with your own novel, it still feels woefully problematic.

The accolades are always great, don't get me wrong. I'd rather get a good review than a bad, but writing takes on a life of its own when you've had a small taste of success. Then, it's time to stop and take stock because you realize okay, been there, done that, who cares?

If you care about the accolades, that is just insatiable. You have to write because you must.This week, I had an author get in touch with me through my new church. He was so excited. He's being published, he'd said. "They don't usually publish fiction, but they loved my stuff!"Then, this cringing follow-up, "I'm getting 90% off the 10,000 books I'm buying."

Writers, I'm here to tell you, there is no easy way in this business. You're going to pay your dues one way or the other. On the road there's a lot of rejection, and strife -- but I implore you, don't let the route cost you 10,000 books that you will not be able to unload because you have absolutely no distribution channel.

You're on the narrow path now and it won't be easy.What upset me the most about this conversation (and trust me, he wouldn't hear a thing!) was that this wasn't a writer. A writer takes the long way, they don't want to simply hear they're being published, they need to know it's worthy of being published. They don't think they're getting a new career and quit their day job.

No, they learn about craft, and how to tell a story well because this is what they are called to. I'm not talking about being an "arteest". I mean, I write chick lit, for crying out loud. I'm talking about taking the gift that God has given you, and making the most of it. Not trying to make the most of you.

Humility is essential in this business. A dose of humble pie is coming your way. May you eat it with zeal, and keep on plugging away.

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." Phil 3:12

Released April 18th

Morgan Malliard, jewelry heiress and San Francisco socialite has just realized the unthinkable: money can't buy her a life.

Click here to see a video trailer of this book.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Author Interview ~ Marta Perry

A Christian Education Director prior to retiring to concentrate full-time on her writing, Marta Perry fills her days with family, especially her five beautiful grandchildren, writing, church activities, and travel. She and her husband live on a small farm in Pennsylvania. A Rita finalist and winner of the Holt Medallion, Rising Star, and Reviewer's Choice awards, she is a member of RWA, FHL, and ACFW and involved in several on-line Plug time.

What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?

I’m very excited about my current release, IN THE ENEMY’S SIGHTS, from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense, because it’s my first inspirational romantic suspense. I’ve loved romantic suspense since junior high school, when I discovered Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney, Victoria Holt—wow, those ladies could write! And this book was especially enjoyable because it’s part of a multi-author series, Faith at the Crossroads. Each book stands on its own, but we used the same settings, background story, minor characters, and overarching suspense theme. Working with five authors I admire was a treat! I was able to work in some neat background about Zuni Indian culture, as my heroine, Julianna Red Feather, is a Zuni Pueblo and is also a search and rescue dog trainer. As for the hero—Ken is an injured Air Force pilot, and I fell in love with him right along with Julianna.

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head.

My journey is probably different from that of many romance writers, because I wrote in other fields before trying my first romance. I started writing fiction for children’s church school materials while I was a church education director, and I was just plain astonished when my first story sold for the magnificent sum of twelve dollars!

I wrote my way through religious magazines for all ages, confession magazines, and eventually broke into writing both romantic stories and short mysteries for Woman’s World magazine. I always had a sense, though, that God was preparing me for a door that would be opening, and that door really swung wide when I heard about Steeple Hill. My first submission to them was picked up in about three months, and I’ve really been blessed to be able to write the stories I love and express a spiritual theme in each one. I’ve had eighteen books published by Steeple Hill and another nine are coming out over the next two years.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

Of course! Somewhere around chapter five, I’m likely to wonder if this story really works, and why I thought I wanted to write it to begin with! Because I outline in detail before I begin writing, I’m able to get through the doubts by concentrating on following the outline and trusting it.

What mistakes have you made while seeking publication?

More than I care to count, but you know, I no longer see them as mistakes. Each time I missed out on an opportunity because I didn’t speak out or because I didn’t get the right manuscript to the right editor at the right time, I’ve found that God had something even better down the road for me.

What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?

The best advice I’ve received was to keep reaching beyond what’s comfortable. That advice was given to me by a short fiction writer I greatly admire at a time when I was hesitating to take the next step in my writing. I try to keep reminding myself of that whenever I get too comfortable.

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve heard?

I’ve heard too many people advise beginners to ignore the market and write what’s in their hearts. Of course, you have to care about what you’re writing, but a piece of writing won’t sell unless it’s about something that matters to other people, too. It also has to be the right manuscript on the right editor’s desk at the right time, but that’s tougher to pull off!

What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

I wish I’d trusted my own instincts more in the beginning—and all along the way, for that matter. It’s easy to be swayed by what someone else thinks you should be doing, especially if that someone is an editor or an agent, but in the final analysis, you have to be happy with the direction of your career.

Do you have a scripture or quote that has been speaking to you lately?

Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” That was the theme of a story I wrote some time ago, but lately it’s been coming into my mind again. I believe that in these current trying days, when there seems to be so much hatred and violence in the world, I’m experiencing a need to be reassured that those who trust in the Lord will find themselves at peace with His plan for them.

Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?

How much time do you have? Seriously, I’ve been writing for over twenty years, counting the magazine writing, and just about every difficulty that could happen in this business has happened to me. I’ve seen lines disappear beneath me just when my future seemed assured. I’ve had editors who loved my work leave to have babies or take different jobs and be replaced by editors who thought my work was dreck.

I have a collection of rejections I’ll stack up against anyone’s. It occurs to me that a person with any sense would have found another job years ago, but I never even considered giving up. I cried and ranted a lot, but I didn’t think about giving up. It just wasn’t an option, because God wouldn’t have given me the fierce desire to do this thing if it wasn’t in His plan. Maybe you just have to wade through all the bad stuff before you get to the good.

What are a few of your favorite books? (Not written by you.)

I love Louisa May Alcott, and have started re-reading her books. I love Mary Stewart’s “Madam, Will You Talk” and “Wildfire at Midnight.” I was recently introduced to the Alexander Smith McCall books set in Africa, and they entrance me with their view of a very different culture. I love everything C.S. Lewis ever wrote, and my bedside table book right now is “Mere Christianity.”

What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?

“Land’s End,” the inspirational romantic suspense novel that’s coming out in June from Love Inspired Suspense, was a story that had hung around in the back of my mind for a long time. The suspense plot is rather complicated, and I had doubts when I started it that I could pull off the suspense and still keep the romance and the spiritual element strong. My editor thinks I did—we’ll have to wait and see what readers think!

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

I don’t at the moment because I’m blessed with a wonderful editor who knows exactly what to say to make me a better writer. That doesn’t mean I don’t ever complain, but if the editor-writer relationship is good, that makes everything else get in line.

Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

I’m fortunate enough to be able to write full-time, instead of trying to fit writing in around another job, which I used to do. I generally get up around seven, catch the morning news while I have breakfast, do some stretches, and head for the computer. I try to do my creative work first thing in the morning, while the mind is still close to the dreaming state. I save other things, like edits, newsletters, etc., for the afternoon. Sometimes, once I’ve done my pages, I’ll go off and play! And when my grandchildren come, writing definitely takes a backseat to whatever they want to do!

If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?

I really admire Robin Lee Hatcher for her emotional insight, which I think is the heart of all good writing.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

I love what I’m doing right now, and my dream is to create a body of work that people will enjoy and from which they’ll take comfort. I want to be someone’s favorite author, the one whose books she re-reads when she’s feeling low.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

The writing, when it’s going well. The writing, when it’s going badly.

How much marketing do you do? Any advice in this area?

I have a website,, and I answer every fan letter with a newsletter and a signed bookmark. I’ve also started an e-mail list to send book announcements. I have been sending postcards to my mailing list for each book, but this year I have four books coming out, and that’s becoming impossible. I’ll have to find an alternative. My advice is to do only what you’re comfortable with and can afford, and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing.

Parting words?

It’s been a pleasure, and I thank you for the opportunity to visit here. If you’d like to know more about my work, stop by my website, and if you’d like to get in touch or receive a bookmark, e-mail me at
writing groups.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Just Say Thank You
Janet Rubin

Sitting in my usual pew—right-hand side of the sanctuary, two rows back—I watched with interest as Christine climbed the steps of the stage. According to the bulletin, she would sing a solo. I’d never known she could sing.

Christine’s hand trembled as she reached for the microphone. She closed her eyes for a moment, then swallowed and licked her lips before raising her eyes to the sound booth and giving a nod. After a pause, the accompanying music swelled from the speakers mounted on the sanctuary’s old columns and she began to sing.

Soft and shaky the first few measures, but as she closed her eyes and lifted a hand towards the ceiling, Christine’s voice increased in volume and rang out in a lovely, smooth alto.

I closed my eyes and let the song wash over me. Chill bumps prickled up and down my arms as I listened to the lyrics. I’d been troubled and praying about a particular issue and the words of Christine’s song were exactly what I needed to hear. God was doing what He so often does—ministering to me through the gifts of another believer. Tears streamed down my face as I breathed a prayer of thanks and a pew-neighbor passed me a tissue.

After the service, I swam against the tide of exiting church-goers to get to the front of the sanctuary and tell Christine how much I appreciated her solo.

Still sitting in her pew, Christine zipped up her Bible cover and I sat next to her. “I wanted to tell you how much your song blessed me. It was lovely.”

Christine shook her head. “Oh, I did terrible. I was so nervous.”

“No, Christine, you did a really good job and God ministered to me through the song. He really did.”

Christine’s cheeks reddened. “Well thanks,” she said in a voice that indicated she didn’t believe me at all.

I could relate. How often had someone complimented my writing and rather than accepting his or her sincere praise graciously, I had rejected it as flattery?

Why is it so hard for us to take compliments? Why do we find it so hard to believe that God can work through us, using the gifts He gave us to bless others?

As a writer, I have had a very hard time taking compliments—partly because I don’t feel worthy and partly because accepting praise seems sinful. Much of the time I simply don’t believe that the compliment is sincere. I’ll think, “He (or she) is just being nice.” Other times, I think the compliment is sincere, but the moment I think, “Yeah that story was pretty good,” I feel guilty of pride.

Can we accept compliments without being proud? Remembering three things will help us accept compliments in a way that honors God.

First, admitting that you have a gift is okay. God gives people gifts. Romans 12:6 says, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.

Second, the Bible says we should be humble, but that doesn’t mean thinking badly of ourselves. God wants us to be honest about who we are. Interestingly, He also addresses this issue in Romans 12, knowing we’d struggle with having gifts and having a proper opinion of ourselves .
Verse three Says, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” Paul says, “By the grace of God I am what I am.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)
By the grace of God, I’m a writer. Maybe even a pretty good writer, learning and growing every day.

Third, regardless of your level of talent, God can use your work. Do you really think God needs you to attain writing perfection before He can use your writing to touch people’s lives? He is God! He used a stuttering Moses to lead the Israelites and a little shepherd boy to bring down Goliath. If someone says, “Your story really blessed me,” rather than being skeptical, praise God!

The next time someone compliments your work,
take a deep breath and say, “Thank you.”

God, Thank you for giving me the gift of writing. You are my source of inspiration, ideas and talent. Please help me to have a proper estimation of myself and keep me from pride. I acknowledge that You have the power to use my work to bless those who read it and I pray that You would do so.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

S'up Saturday

Starting May 1st, novelist and script writer, Ane Mulligan, will be coming on board Novel Journey to help out, along with novelist and publicist, Jessica Dotta.

I've spotlighted Ane already, and you can read all about her on her web-site Ane Ane also co-runs our sister site, Novel Reviews (This woman reads circles around me, so it goes without saying, she does the lion's share of work over there. And I appreciate her more than she could know!

Along with Ane, Jessica is one of my critique partners and has been through several groups. She is one of the most talented writers I know. She is agented by Steve Laube and is shopping her historical suspense trilogy at the moment. These novels are absolutely amazing, just like Jessica!

If you haven't heard of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), and you're a novelist, you need to check them out. Joining was one of the best moves I've made toward a career as a novelist.

ACFW 2006 Genesis Contest

Eligibility – The 2006 ACFW Genesis contest is open to ACFW members unpublished in fiction in the last seven years (no published print or electronic works of 20,000 words or more). Authors of library bound fiction dissertations are eligible. Contracted authors are not eligible. If an entrant receives a publishing house contract after February 14th, they must withdraw from the Genesis and forfeit their entry fee. Self-published authors *are* eligible, however they may not enter a manuscript previously in print. Previous Noble Theme category *winning* entries are not eligible. {The dead-line has past, but be thinking about next year!}

(The top 5 winners of The Genesis go before the publishing board at Warner Faith!)

First-Round Finalists:
(I shamelessly highlighted a few of my good friend's names. Note our own Ane Mulligan made this round!)

Congratulations to ALL who made it this far!

Contemporary Romance

Kaye Dacus
Annette M. Irby
Glynna Sirpless
Kristian Tolle
Betty Woods

Historical Romance (3-way tie)

Janet Dean
Andree Eisenberg
Charlene Glatkowski
Pat Gonzales
Audra Harders
Lisa Marie Nelson
Donna Robinson

Romantic Suspense

Anita K. Greene
Kelly Irvin
Robin Miller
Kelly Ann Riley
Jill Eileen Smith


Alice Loweecy
D'Ann Mateer
Sandra Moore
Wayne Scott
Cheryl Wyatt

Science Fiction/Fantasy/Speculative Fiction (2-way tie)

Beth Goddard
Rebecca Grabill
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirta Ann Shultz
Sherry Thompson

Women's Fiction

Janice LaQuiere
Erin Keeley Marshall
Marian Merritt
Ane Mulligan
Julie Saffrin

General Fiction (includes General Historical, Multicultural, Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Chick-Lit)

Mary Ann Diorio
Mike Ehret
Heidi Gennaro
Lynne Gentry
Christina Miller

Upcoming Interviews: Editor/author, Karen Ball (quite possibly our most informative interview yet!), Eva Marie Everson, Beth White, Marta Perry, Miles Owens, Melanie Wells, and many others!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Frank Peretti Interview, Part III

Frank Peretti's books have sold more than 12 million copies. He is the co-author of House, the author of Monster as well as the international bestsellers The Oath and This Present Darkness. The Oath (1995) has sold more than a million copies and was awarded the 1996 ECPA Gold Medallion Award for best fiction. Peretti lives with his wife Barbara in the Pacific Northwest.

Interview via telephone ~ April 2006

Gina Holmes: Is your hope to go mainstream Hollywood with your movies?

Frank Peretti: Yes, but I wouldn’t call it Hollywood. I’d call it mainstream independent.

Gina: The Passion of the Christ was such a high quality, but many Christian films look low budget compared to other movies. Do you see yourself matching the big movies’ quality?

Frank: We’ll go with whatever budget the movie requires. I want to do Monster and that won’t necessarily require a big budget. It doesn’t have a lot of explosions.

Gina: You’d need some excellent costumes.

Frank: Yeah, we’d have to work out the costumes and make sure that looks great. We might be able to do it for ten, maybe fifteen million, which is pretty small.

The set is mostly in the woods. The lab and the other monster is where most of the money would go. Other than that, it’s pretty doable without a whole lot of money.

Now, The Oath would take a pretty good size budget. You’d have to create the dragon, the town, and blow up a lot of the town. When you start breaking things [laughing] that’s where you get into the money.

With This Present Darkness, now you’re talking about a whole lot of money. You’ve got thousands of angels and demons flying through the sky and having battles. A lot of development.

Gina: Have you been approached to make that into a movie.

Frank: That’s an iffy story. Twentieth Century Fox owns the rights to that. They are pursuing making a film and I don’t have any influence over that.

I have found in the past that sometimes you get too many cooks in the kitchen who don’t really see the story the way you intended but we’ll see. Maybe Twentieth Century Fox is working on it but I don’t know anything. They haven’t told me. Most of what I’ve learned about it, I’ve got indirectly.

A friend actually emailed me and said they were going ahead with the project but nobody told me that so who knows?

Gina: The multiple rejections you received for This Present Darkness has become an antidote writers tell one another to encourage each other through their own stream of rejections. I’ve heard people say that story was rejected a hundred times but on the House promotional CD, you say fourteen. Was that the number?

Frank: That was about it.

Gina: Over what period of time was that?

Frank: A year or so. It was quite awhile ago, I don’t remember exactly. But I remember I had a little chart that I drew with columns and things. I had at least fourteen publishers on there. I had a column for query letters, one for responses, one for proposal sent and that type of thing. Publishers didn’t really reject it, they just didn’t respond. Most of them got past my query and then requested proposals and then rejected it.

It was tough finding a market for. Crossway books who was the publisher that eventually published it initially rejected it. They were the only publisher that actually wrote me a letter. I got form letters from everywhere else.

Then I wrote a kids book. I made up a story at a junior high bible camp one summer and someone said you should get that published. I didn’t even have it written down. So, I wrote it down, I sent it out and Crossway published accepted that one.

The Door in the Dragon’s Throat. In the same letter they said, by the way you sent us an earlier idea; we’d like to take a look at it.

Gina: Was that Jan Dennis?

Frank: Yes, he just had that vision. I had to finish the book. I had it all outlined of course. I knew exactly where I was going with it. I finished the book. That was back in the day with typewriters. Me and my dear wife and her mom. We had three typewriters going. Between the three of us, that was a newsroom. Seven hundred and fifty pages.

Gina: [laughing] Man, you WERE gabby.

Frank: [laughs] I sent it off in the church bulletin box to Crossway and a couple of months went by and then Jan Dennis called me on the phone and said they wanted to buy it. My word. My word, what a moment. The moment every author dreams of.

Gina: What would you say to a writer who is where you were at? They’ve studied the craft. They’re a good writer but they’re at that frustrating point where they’re sending their stuff in and getting responses like, ‘interesting but no thanks.’ What would you say to this person to encourage them?

Frank: I guess most publishers won’t even deal with an author anymore. They have to go through an agent. Do you find that true?

Gina: I have an agent, but in the past a lot of editors have talked to me directly. There are some though that will only look at agented submissions.

Frank: It seems a reasonable thing to do to get an agent and then the agent can recommend readers.

I had a student who went to a book doctor. And they sent her back a multi-paged critique that was very humbling.

Gina: Critiques always are.

Frank: I thought that was a pretty good idea. They recognized my student’s talent but also where she needed to grow and improve.

Gina: Have you had a mentor?

Frank: My mentors are usually my publisher and editors. They’re the ones that have helped me develop my ideas. For Monster, I had two editors and they were real helpful. Not only did they correct my grammar but we worked on the concept and the characters. I usually am honed and sharpened by the editors I work with.

Gina: I hear writers will get as many as twenty-five pages of suggestions on a book. When I asked Ted (Dekker) that, he said he’d freak if he got that many. Do you get pages of suggestions?

Frank: Yeah, sure.

Gina: Twenty-five pages?

Frank: Yeah, I might get that many. It’s discouraging but…

Gina: I think that’s good for novelists who are just starting out to know. If I didn’t know that was the norm and I received a stack of changes, I’d think I was awful and wonder why they even bought my book.

Frank: I think every writer should expect and welcome that. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to take every suggestion. Sometimes a suggestion is clearly contrary to what I’m trying to do. I just work down the page and cross off each suggestion as I fix it.

Generally the suggestions are good and I get a better book for it. Sometimes the suggestions are humiliating and I think I can’t believe I did that. Every writer should be ready to work hard for their editor. The editor is your friend. Unless they’re a really bad editor.

I did work with someone once who crossed out the whole big battle scene in This Present Darkness. I wrote back and said, “Leave that in.” And so they got me a new editor. I think she was old school. She wouldn’t let me use any contractions.

Gina: [laughs] Oh no.

Frank: Erin Healey is an editor who worked with me on House and she was a stellar editor. She brought order out of chaos. We had shotguns floating around that kind of thing and she had to wade through all that stuff. She got paid over time.

Gina: You had said that people can tell the journey you’ve been on by the book you had written. I think that’s so true of probably all writers. We really do bear our souls in our books.

With House being co-written is it true of that book? Can we see your journey in House?

Book Description

"A mind-bending supernatural thriller from the creators of This
Present Darkness and Showdown.
Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker - two of the
most acclaimed writers of supernatural thrillers - have joined forces for the
first time to craft a story unlike any you've ever read. Enter House - where
you'll find yourself thrown into a killer's deadly game in which the only way to
win is to lose...and the only way out is in.
The stakes of the game become
clear when a tin can is tossed into the house with rules scrawled on it. Rules
that only a madman - or worse - could have written. Rules that make no sense yet
must be followed.
One game. Seven players. Three rules. Game ends at

Gina's comments

HOUSE is a beautiful blend
of the styles and voices of Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker. Even without knowing
who'd written it, I believe readers could guess. The novel reads at breakneck
speed. I have something to point to and say, "Now, THAT's a thriller." As
someone who writes in this genre, I will reread this book to study their craft.
The book is exciting, well written and a wonderful allegory. I can't wait to see
this on the big screen. I hope the movie maker will do it justice. Though these
authors say they found collaborating difficult, I thought the end product is
fantastic. Absolutely wonderful!

Frank: No. Not at all. Maybe it was Ted’s journey. It was more of his concept.
The Visitation was so much a reflection of my journey. House is more of an allegory. I can relate to it, anybody can, the struggles within your own heart.

I did learn how to work with somebody else in a book though.

Gina: Advice for novelists in your genre?

Frank: Don’t go the path that I’ve gone. Don’t copy me or anybody else. Write what the Lord has laid upon your heart. My biggest frustration is when I write trying to please what other people think the market demands. I need to put Jabez in or it won’t sell. What’s the market doing? It’s like having your finger in the wind. Write from your heart.

Upcoming interviews: Special two part interview with Sr. Editor for Zondervan and best-selling author, Karen Ball. Also: Beth White, Marta Perry, and many others!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Frank Peretti Interview, Part II

Frank Peretti's books have sold more than 12 million copies. He is the co-author of House, the author of Monster as well as the international bestsellers The Oath and This Present Darkness. The Oath (1995) has sold more than a million copies and was awarded the 1996 ECPA Gold Medallion Award for best fiction. Peretti lives with his wife Barbara in the Pacific Northwest. Visit his website at

Gina: Oh, Monster's a great story but I just can’t imagine that a new author would be able to pitch it and get it bought.

Frank: Maybe not. I pitched another book idea to Allen Arnold and pitched the whole story. I’ll never do that again. I exposed myself to a terrible feeling. Sometimes a book idea really sounds like it’s not going to work.

Gina: What do you think the difference was between pitching the story he didn’t want to do and pitching Monster?

Frank: It was the pitch. When I pitched the rejected story, I basically tried to tell him the whole story, but the whole story wasn’t fleshed out and I didn’t give it punch. It had a lot of questions I wasn’t ready to answer and there were gaps.

I’ve read a lot of books how to write books, how to write screenplays and they say when you’re first formulating your ideas don’t talk about it to anyone. Once you show them, you’re tipping your hand too early. It commits you to something. When it’s still in formation you’ve got to keep it to yourself so you can make any changes you want, throw it out and start over. Whatever.

When something’s in the formative stages of course it isn’t going to come off great. It’s like going out in public before you’ve combed your hair and brushed your teeth.

Gina: When you pitched Monster did you just pitch the premise on that one and not the whole story? I’m just trying to gauge the difference here.

Frank: I just pitched the premise on Monster. Not the whole story. That was the difference. I hadn’t thought of all the twists yet. A really good beginning helps. I set it up real good--that cool stuff got Allen’s eyes wide.

Pitch a story just like you’re telling a campfire story. Get your publisher to want to know more. You want to suck them in, get them wanting your story.

Gina: It’s strange to me to hear you get stories rejected; I mean you’re Frank Peretti.

Frank: Allen and I have such a good relationship. I could take my story somewhere else but I’m happy there. He and I get along so well and we trust each other.

Gina: When you look at today’s CBA fiction, what are you encouraged by?

Frank: It’s maturing. There are so many good writers coming in now. You could almost make a critical study at how the books have changed over the years.

Go back to when my darkness book came out. It was bulky but it was tackling the intriguing supernatural story. That was a new thing in Christian fiction. Christian fiction was not respected. There was some, Janette Oke, who’s become a real institution. But not everybody wants to read prairie romances.

Fiction has become a viable product and all these non-fiction writers are trying their hands, now that the market is open and Christian fiction is accepted and fiction writers are getting a chance.

Gina: What are you least encouraged by?

Frank: There’s a bandwagon mentality but this is true everywhere. Whatever is hot everybody wants to jump on it.

I’m not criticizing this book but when The Prayer of Jabez became popular, there were so many spins off of it. Jabez for kids. Jabez coloring books. It’s so obviously commercial.

Gina: Jesus junk?

Frank: The depth people will stoop to make a buck. The emperor starts looking a little naked. I think CBA is a wonderful place to work and wonderful stuff is coming out. I wish we had more self respect sometimes. We can cheapen ourselves. It’s interesting on the floor of the convention, we laugh at ourselves but we wonder who’s going to win the award for the tackiest. Testamints? All these crazy products. It’s nothing exclusive to CBA, it’s everywhere.

Gina: Do you you think your earlier books are too mimicked?

Frank: I don’t know how much of that is done. I don’t have an opinion. I’m not that informed. I don’t’ think it’s going to work though. Once something’s been done, that’s it. I’m up against the same challenge myself. I want to write a third darkness book and I’m up against the same challenge. I can’t do what I’ve already done. I can’t have the demons and the angels plotting against each other and end with a big old cataclysmic battle. I’ve already written that story.

Gina: You’re still brainstorming this story?

Frank: I’m still brainstorming and brooding and thinking about it.

Gina: You’ve said that you hate brain spilling, what we call brainstorming. We know what you don’t like. What is your favorite part of being a writer?

Frank: The brain spilling isn’t the worst part. Outlining is the worst part. Brain spilling isn’t work. That’s just pouring out the ideas. It’s not a grievous task. When I’m outlining, that’s when it really gets technical. What’s going to work? Ted Dekker skips that part. Other writers skip that part. They just start writing and let the characters go. I’m almost wondering if I ought to try that. I’ve never tried to write that way.

That’s why I’m so slow I think. Everybody else is turning out two books a year. I’m two years a book.

Gina: [laughs] It seems to me, from the authors I’ve interviewed, that the outliners tend to be, as a whole, faster writers.

Frank: Well, they know where they’re going. Maybe I’m slow and maybe I outline but it must be working.

Gina: You’re not part of the machine where you have to put out so many books a year. I know when I go to the store and see a Frank Peretti book that it’s going to be good. Some authors start out strong because they’ve been working on a book for years and then they get a contract, having to crank out the books before they’re ready and the writing suffers.

The way you write is ideal. Who wouldn’t want to take a year or two to write a book and then have it hit the best-seller list every time? That’s what most of us dream of.

Frank: That’s comforting. I’m thinking about Ted and he’s bam. Bam. Bam. A whole stack of books. I can’t write that fast. I’ve had to settle on the fact that I am Frank and God has called me to what I do. We always have to remind ourselves regardless of what we do, we’ve got our own niche and that’s where we belong.

Gina: You’re learning how to make movies, is that right?

Frank: You bet!

Gina: What’s inspired that?

Frank: Well that’s what I’ve wanted to do from the beginning. Years ago I wanted to go into film. That’s why I went to UCLA because I wanted to study film. That whole thing kind of went down in flames with discouragement. The whole L.A. scene and culture down there was so morbid, and twisted. I didn’t want to be a part of that. I thought whatever you guys are teaching, man, I don’t want to learn it. About that time my dad called me and asked me if I wanted to come back home and pastor a church.

We left L.A. and went back and I pastored a church for about five years and it was during that time that I wrote This Present Darkness. I decided well, I guess I can’t make movies, but I’ve got this typewriter. Maybe I’ll take this movie idea and make a book out of it and that’s where This Present Darkness came. I shifted from a movie mentality into a novel mentality. I kept the cinematic influence though. You kind of see a movie playing in your head.

Now, years later, I’ve come full circle. I’ve done my books and now my books are becoming movies. It’s almost outlandish but I feel the Lord saying, ‘Frank now’s the time. Do it. Go for it.’

Folks are saying, ‘Frank you can do it. You can direct a movie. You’ve got the personality. You’ve got the dramatic sensibilities.’

What really kind of triggered it is a producer approached me and said, “We’d like to do Monster as a motion picture and we’d like for your to write it and direct it.”

That was a couple of years ago. I didn’t know if I had the skill but given time to think and pray about it, I think maybe that’s what the Lord wants me to do. In fifteen years, I’m going to be seventy. I better get started. I better get at it.

I’m going to take a couple of years and give it a good try.

If I flop, if I fail, I can say I tried. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and be wheeling myself around in one of those carts you see in the grocery story and say, “Wonder what would’ve happened if I tried to make a movie.” I want to be able to say no matter how it turns out, that I tried.

I’m doing a screenplay right now of Monster. I’m hoping to get a company somewhere to say, ‘We’ll do that film and we’ll let you direct it.’

Gina: Have you ever had to pitch movie-makers or have they always approached you?

Frank: They’ve always approached me. Who can ask for a better world than that? My manager and I get to sit around deciding which movie maker we’re going to go with. What a situation.

We’ve had to turn some down and put other people off that weren’t quite ready to produce the level of film that we wanted. So, it wasn’t a bad idea to wait on the Lord.

Gina: Is your hope to go mainstream Hollywood
with your movies?

To be continued tomorrow...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Author Interview ~ Frank Peretti, Part I

Frank Peretti's books have sold more than 12 million copies. He is the co-author of House, the author of Monster as well as the international bestsellers The Oath and This Present Darkness. The Oath (1995) has sold more than a million copies and was awarded the 1996 ECPA Gold Medallion Award for best fiction. Peretti lives with his wife Barbara in the Pacific Northwest. Visit his website at

Gina Holmes: Thank you for giving us this interview. It’s pretty early where you are, right?

Frank Peretti: It’s not too bad.

Gina: You've had your coffee?

Frank: Wheat Chex.

Gina: I just finished House. I thought it was a nice blend of your and Ted’s writing styles. I read in a recent interview that you would not collaborate again. Is that a fair assessment?

Frank: Not collaborate with anyone or not collaborate with Ted ?

Gina: I took it as not collaborate at all.

Frank: I don’t think so.

Gina: What about it was so difficult?

Frank: Well, Ted and I have totally different writing styles. It was an incompatibility in terms of how to put a story together. It was a struggle to figure out how to put it together. Just the logistics. Since we seem to have totally opposite visions of what the story should be, we were like okay what should we do? Stephen King and Straub wrote a book together and they got along so well they each took a chapter.

I finally said, Ted this is your concept you go ahead and call the shots and I’ll do what you want me to do.

It’s essentially a Ted Dekker book with Peretti pitching in wherever he can.

Gina: If I didn’t know who had written it, I would have to guess Dekker and Peretti. It seems to be both of your styles.

Frank: Well, that’s what we wanted. What we ended up with was something neither of us would have written alone.

Gina: What advice would you have for two writers getting ready to collaborate for the first time?

Frank: Other than don’t do it [laughing]. No, I guess you just need to know who you’re collaborating with. With Jerry Jenkins and Tim La Haye on the Left Behind books, Tim was the theologian behind them and Jerry did the writing but they didn’t actually write the story together. So, that sounded nifty. I don’t know. You have to get two writers who approach things the same way. I’m just fussy and Ted’s fussy, that’s what it boils down to.

Gina: I’m sure that’s how you got where you are.

Frank: Probably so.

Gina: With House you said, basically you started it and Ted finished it.

Frank: Yeah, basically Ted said, “Just get the people to the basement, Frank, and I’ll take if from there.” And so I got the people to the basement. We cross checked each other. I had input and suggestions.

Gina: Did you edit one another?

Frank: No, our editor Erin Healey did that. She was like a quilter. Taking all these pieces and sewing them together. Getting all the inconsistencies and contradictions out. How come this guy is popping out of here and coming in there. It had to make sense. She was almost a third author.

Gina: Wow, that’s quite a compliment. Is the movie being filmed right now?

Frank: Pre-production.

Gina: Is this going to be a big Hollywood type of blockbuster, limited release or what?

Frank: That depends on what Twentieth Century Fox is going to do. Usually their biggest interest in this is the DVD sales.

Gina: I thought this novel moved along at breakneck speed and read in places like a screenplay almost.

Frank: Oh sure, it’s the stuff a good movie is made of. I don’t think they can mess it up too much.

Gina: What do you think Ted’s greatest strengths as a writer are?

Frank: Unlimited rapid fire imagination. That guy has so many ideas so fast. He boggles the mind. I don’t know how he does it. He can turn out books so quickly. Bam. Bam. Bam. I’m more of a quiet, meticulous planner. I think about a book. I ponder it. I outline it. He just sits down and writes it. Sometimes I think I’m Salieri to his Mozart.

Gina: [Laughs] How did you learn the craft of writing?

Frank: I read a lot of books. I picked it up piece by piece over the years. I took a fiction writing correspondence course. I didn’t finish it, but I learned a lot. I studied screen and playwriting at UCLA. I just picked it up.

I’m still learning. It’s a continual process. I look at This Present Darkness and there’s so many ways I would have written it differently.

Gina: I read your first book back to back with Monster and thought, wow. The way that you’ve evolved as a writer is just amazing. You’ve gotten so much tighter in your writing. Did that come from editors you’ve worked with over the years?

Frank: Good question. Working with editors would have something to do with it. Continual work on screenplays would have something to do with it. Another thing and this is a little odd but condensing my books for audio books. Because as I would do those condensations, it was amazing to me how much I could cut simply because it wasn’t needed. Remarkable. That’s one of the main differences and you really pointed that out correctly. I read the darkness books and am amazed at how blabby they are. A lot of extra verbiage is there that’s not necessary.

The tendency these days at least with the more popular genres is to write tighter. In the old literary days, you had these thick books that went into long descriptions back in the days when people read just for pure pleasure. Now with our visually oriented society and the TV, it’s the story. Go on. Move it. What’s going to happen next? Keep the pages turning.

It’s interesting how fiction is adjusting to the state of the culture.

Less is usually more.

Gina: Speaking of Monster, I wondered how in the world you pitched that premise. It’s an incredibly wild story. I thought it was fantastic but I wondered how you presented that to an editor?

Frank: I think the way it worked was I started working on this story as a children’s book. The more I worked on it, the more I thought I could expand it and make it an adult book. The more I researched that phenomenon, it was just so intriguing. And then I met with the publisher.

Gina: Allen Arnold?

Frank: Yeah, Allen. I was really pumped about this. I began to tell him this story and kind of act it out.

Gina: So, you put on a performance.

Frank: Oh yeah. He was sitting there all wide-eyed. My managers were there and they said they wished they had a video tape, they’d never seen Frank so excited.

Gina: You think it was your enthusiasm that sold it?

Frank: I think so, but it was a good story.

Gina: Oh, it’s a great story but I just can’t imagine that a new author would be able to pitch it and get it bought.

To be continued tomorrow...

The Interview...

The interviewer is the interviewee today. I hope you'll go over to
Mike Duran's Decompose and leave me a comment.

Mike asked some great questions, which were nearly as good as my answers :)

Tomorrow begins our three part Peretti interview!