Friday, November 29, 2013

Lisa Lickel: On Writing For Children

Everyone's Story welcomes this holiday week author Lisa Lickel. Lisa is one of those multi-published and multi-talented authors, publishing in both adult and children's fiction as well as non-fiction and radio theater. A true treasure, as well as an especially lovely and generous woman. She discusses her new venture into self-publishing for the children's market and answers to a few interview questions. Please check out her book giveaway below. Both Lisa and I look forward to hearing from you.

Book Giveaway:
Lisa is offering one copy to one randomly chosen commenter a PDF copy of her chidlren's book GREEN LEAF, THE POTOWATOMI BOY. The winner will be announced here on Friday, December 6th, between 5-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!

Green Leaf’s cousins are all older than he and don’t like to play fair. He longs for a friend his own age he can play with, explore and fish with. When he meets a Luxembourger boy, Henri, Green Leaf is sure they could become friends, but Henri’s words are strange to Green Leaf. How can they play and explore together? 

Green Leaf’s mother says, “Friends learn to speak one another’s words.” But will Green Leaf learn to say his friend’s words well enough to save Henri when he falls into danger?

Determined Not To Surrender A Dream by Lisa Lickel

Ten years in the making, The First Children of Farmington series of early reader books has finally reached booksellers.

I spent two years researching and writing this series. Several years after I worked with other community historians to collect and record our early pioneer history, I realized that we had quite a diverse ethnicity to Farmington, Wisconsin. Although these stories are based on real people and real events, they are representative of issues and struggles and joys families face every day everywhere.

The Potawatomi Boy is a character with a running thread through all the books. When I first started out with the project I was taking classes from the Christian Writers Guild. I set out to put together a series of picture books and connected with a couple of different artists. I wrote the text, but learned over several years that it’s harder to get the attention of a publisher for children’s books than it is for adult books. I’d never considered self-publishing, but through connections with my current illustrator and publishing partner, Brenda Hendricks, and others at the John 316 Marketing Network, learned a lot about not only self-publishing options, but how to publish well.

The second book in the series, The German, is now available, as well, about a curious young girl who becomes lost while searching for the family cow, and the third book, The Saxon Boy, about a young boy who must learn to accept a stepfather, may be out by Christmas. I was quite surprised and pleased to have won a prestigious Jade Ring award for the Saxon Boy from the Wisconsin Writers Association. The other three stories, The Yankee Boy, The Irish Girl and The French Girl, are planned for release in 2014.

The books include references, glossaries, and special illustrations and a picture search. They are suitable for early to middle grades, ages 7-9 or so.

Questions For Lisa:
What is it about writing for a children's readership inspires you to create a story?

In this particular case, these stories are borne of my love for history, of story, of wanting to preserve the past and not forget about the events that influenced our choices and lifestyle today. I really hate heaing “history is boring,” so if I can share a story about the past that’s exciting, but also about real children who played and got lost and scared, and made friends, and picked flowers, just like kids today, I think it will make a positive impression. Hopefully kids will want to explore the lives of their grandparents too.

Do your messages change from story to story?

A little. Each story has a theme word/phrase. In The Potawatomi Boy, it’s adaptation; in The German Girl, it morphed from obedience more into paying attention. The children in the stories are similar in ages, and each faces a situation that’s not unlike today. The Saxon Boy must learn to live with a stepfather; The Yankee Boy fights for his friend to attend school. The Irish Girl wants a grandfather like her friends; The French Girl gets caught up in peer pressure.

What has self-publishing taught you about writing in general?

I always knew that writers must be very, very careful about the final product we put out. I think that my publishing experience in general, from writing for Writer’s Digest to my first book with Barbour Publishing, where I didn’t know I even had to worry about errors getting into the final product, to my horror at realizing other publishers didn’t have that same dedication to perfection, prepared me for my first attempts at self-publishing. Most writers I know can’t read other books without a critical eye. I’ve tried to train my critical eye to watch for errors, but I also know mine can’t be the only eye on the last edit before uploading for publication. It’s still a scary operation, and I prefer to work with publishers.

As an author, what strengths do you gain in writing for various readership markets?

Vocabulary is huge. I’m working with another author right now who’s in a contest for adult readership with limited vocabulary, so the final product must be graded at no more than fourth-grade reading level. Working with younger readers is a tremendous challenge. I’m not lying when I say that I doubt I’ll do any more writing for children. I found that staying within the vocabulary and readability of the age target of my books, that is, third to fourth grade, so much harder than writing for adults. But the same way, it also helped me devise a “voice” for my different adult characters. Some people, we know, simply speak or understand language in a whole different way from ourselves. By realizing and capitalizing on some of those nuances, we authors can create unique voices for our imaginary populations.

From December 1 through December 16, the John 3:16 Marketing Network is hosting a Christmas Book Launch and The Potawatomi Boy is a featured book. As part of the event, the Network is offering a $200 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky winner. For a chance to win, go to and enter the Rafflecopter toward the bottom of the page.

Will be .99 cents December 1-16

Lisa's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
See Lisa Lickel’s publishing accomplishment while holding onto her dreams. (Tweet This)

Author Lisa Lickel on #SelfPublishing in the children’s market. (Tweet This)

Lisa Lickel on Everyone’s Story, #BookGiveaway. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives in a hundred and sixty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. A muti-published, best-selling and award-winning novelist, she also writes short stories and radio theater, is an avid book reviewer, blogger, a freelance editor, and magazine editor. 

Find Lisa on the Web:

Friday, November 22, 2013

Naomi Musch: When Writing The End Begins The Magic

Everyone's Story welcomes back beloved author Naomi Musch. What I appreciate about Naomi is her dedication to other writers. This week she shares tips on what to do after writing a manuscript in a month, but her advice really extends to any rough draft--on polishing and shaping that draft into a gripping, sparkling story. And Naomi, a multi-published author and former editor, definitely speaks from the heart. Please check out her book giveaway offer. She'd love to hear from you if you have any questions about your rough draft or would like to share your experiences. Looking forward to seeing you!

Book Giveaway:
Naomi is offering one copy to one randomly chosen commenter a PDF copy of her women's fiction ebook PAINT ME ALTHENA. The winner will be announced here on Friday, November 29th, between 5-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!

When still life artist Ethan Day discovers a fantasy painting by Althena Bell in a consignment shop, he's sure he's found Ava, his wife who abandoned him and their two little girls three years ago. Finding and rescuing her are one thing, but forgiveness and second chances are impeded by outsiders, and conflict between Ava's search for identity and Ethan's new faith might break the safety net he offers.

I've Finished My NaNo Novel. What Now? By Naomi Musch

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is winding down. A collective cheer is set to rock the globe as thousands of writers around the world conclude a month of solidarity in completing (for many) their very first novel length work. Yet, some very promising writers will file away their manuscripts in a desktop waste bin of Unpublished WIPS and fail to take the appropriate follow-up steps to NaNoWriMo that might lead to publication.

So you've finished your book, and you're pretty happy with your accomplishment, even if you feel like the end product might contain a fair amount of twaddle. You've spewed the book out in a four week flurry , and you've reached the 50K word goal, but you recognize the plot isn't as strong as you'd hoped it would be or as multi-layered. The characters were fun when they spoke to you, but in places fell flat. You suspect there's not enough story arc, character growth, or the stakes haven't been set high enough. There could be any number of troubles, because it's a first draft.

On the other hand, maybe you couldn't come up with a good ending, so you didn't bother finishing. Maybe your story sagged in the middle and never really grew taught again. Chin up! Now is not the time to shrug your shoulders and give up until next year. No wallowing!

If you don't think you'll be able to complete your novel in November, then set a new goal and finish it by any means possible, no matter how badly you think it stinks or what you feel it might be missing. Get that draft down. Discipline yourself to even 500 words a day or some other proximity.

My progress as of 11/15    
On the other hand, if you did finish or soon will (Yeah, NaNoWriMo Winner!) and you like how your story spun itself out, now is not the time to rest on your laurels either. Now it's time to move on to phase two, the first part of which might sound like a contradiction to what I said about resting on your laurels, but it's not.

After The End
1.   Set the story aside for a week or two. Even a month is not too long, but don't let it go so long that you lose interest. While your manuscript is waiting for your return, think about the plot and the characters, allow them to marinate. Revisit your notes or outline looking for plot holes, threads, or themes you could include or expand upon. Take long walks. Sort through your clothes closet. Organize your pantry or garage while you stew. This is not resting on your laurels because your brain is still actively engaged even though you aren't looking at the work.
2.   Now pull up the novel and start a read-through considering those ideas you came up with. You might come up with more or better ideas as you view the cold manuscript with fresh eyes. Certainly problems, weak spots, thin characters, or poor dialogue will grab your attention now that you've been away from it. Inconsistencies will jump out at you. This is the time for big, chunky content changes especially. Do #3 along with this.
3.   Write a synopsis. Do this as you are giving the manuscript its initial go-over. Your synopsis doesn't have to be anything fancy or fine tuned, just a sentence or two per chapter hitting on the rising action and both major and minor plot points. Later on, when you're ready to start submitting your work, you'll be glad you did this now.
4.   Take a stretch and happy dance because you can now take a month to rest on your laurels. Enjoy the holidays. Cook fun meals. Watch movies. Simply forget about the work for one month. Then in January and for however long after that it takes...
5.   Start another rewrite. Edit. Edit again. (Get feedback from a critque partner or group.) Edit one more time.
6.   Hire an editor for a professional edit or start querying.

Numbers 5 & 6 are a bit subjective. When you get a critique is up to you, though I recommend making your manuscript the best you can before you let anyone else see it. How many edits or rewrites that takes depends. For me, some manuscripts are ready for other eyes after about three go-overs. I can think of one that needed at least ten.

All this sounds like a lot of work after writing The End, but truthfully, it's not that bad. It's actually my favorite part of the novel writing process. During rewrites I don't have to be plagued by uncertainties of what happens next. I've already written the story. Rewriting gives opportunity to make each sentence crisper, each word more impactful, each scene more breath-taking, and each character's role more life-like.

So if you've just completed your first full-length manuscript, the next thing to do is get it polished. Congratulations on your accomplishment. Write on!

Naomi's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Author Naomi Musch on Everyone’s Story: I’ve finished my NaNo novel. Now what? (Tweet This)

Naomi Musch on the work after writing The End. (Tweet This)

Win #BookGiveaway of Naomi Musch’s #WomensFiction novel PAINT ME ALTHENA on Everyone’s Story. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Naomi writes from the pristine north woods of Wisconsin, where she and husband Jeff live as epically as God allows on a ramshackle farm near their five adult children and three grandchildren. Amidst it, she writes about imperfect people who are finding hope and faith to overcome their struggles, whether the story venue is rich in American history, or along more contemporary lines.

Central to her stories is the belief that God blesses through messes, and He delights in turning lives around. For that same reason, besides her fiction writing, Naomi spent five years on the editorial board of the EPA award-winning, Christian newspaper, Living Stones News, writing true accounts of changed lives. While pursuing her fiction-writing endeavors, she spent a year as an editor with Port Yonder Press. She continues to enjoy writing for magazines and other non-fiction venues that encourage homeschooling families and young writers, and loves connecting with new friends via:

Find Naomi on the Web:
Twitter: NMusch
Goodreads: Naomi Dawn Musch
Naomi's site and blogs: 

Naomi's previous Everyone's Story segment: 

Putting Kick In Your Writing By Sharing It With Others

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lyn Cote: Inserting Fun Into Research!

Everyone's Story welcomes multi-published and award winning author Lyn Cote. Lyn's name and outstanding reputation was one of the first author's name I became acquainted with as I began to familiarize myself with the Christian fiction market and considered writing for it. Lyn's stories have made their way into many homes and hearts through the years and it's my pleasure to have her as my guest this week. Lyn shares with us her love of historical research and how fun it can be. Plus, there is a bonus waiting for her fans at the bottom of this segment. If you have any questions or perhaps an anecdote to share of your own adventures into research, please drop Lyn a comment. Both she and I look forward to hearing from you.

Historical Research is My Kind of Fun! By Lyn Cote

I have a Masters in American History and my idea of fun is to spend hours deep in the back of a library or in the heart of a local museum. On a trip to Florida, my husband and I managed to stop at the Lincoln Library in Springfield, Illinois, the Chickamauga Battlefield in Georgia and finally Andrew Jackson’s estate, The Hermitage, near Nashville. (Can you believe that the wallpaper hung in that antebellum house is still on the walls? No peeling and still looks good—AMAZING!)

Using Authentic Language

It is always so interesting to research the language of a time period. For example, I had wanted to use the phrase “the real thing,” in my latest book, The Baby Bequest, but after some research, I discovered that phrase came into use much later than when this story takes place. I don’t like to use phrases that aren’t historically grounded.

The Real McCoy

So I substituted “the real McCoy,” and discovered that this phrase came into use because of Elijah McCoy, an African-American born in Ontario, Canada, in 1844, the son of runaway slaves. Educated in Scotland as a mechanical engineer, Elijah McCoy settled in Detroit. Unable to get a job as a mechanical engineer because of racial prejudice, he worked for the railroad as an “oiler.”

You Can’t Keep a Good Man Down

While working there, he invented a cup that would regulate the flow of oil onto moving parts of industrial machines, first the train engine. This invention distributed oil evenly over the engine's moving parts. He obtained a patent for this invention, which allowed trains to run continuously for long periods of time without pausing for maintenance.

The term “real McCoy” refers to Elijah’s oiling device. It became so popular that people inspecting new equipment would ask if the device contained “the real McCoy.”

How about that?

So that’s what makes me smile.

Finding out something I never knew before and usually it’s so much more than I expected!

Have you ever visited a national historic site or a particularly interesting small museum or local historical site? Please share what you learned or what surprised you.

If you drop by Lyn's website and subscribe to her enewsletter, she’ll send you a PDF copy of “Old Family Recipes.” 15 Love Inspired Historical authors (including Lyn) put together their old favorite family recipes and the stories behind them.

Lyn's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Visit with #InspirationalFiction author Lyn Cote on Everyone’s Story. (Tweet This)

Award winning author Lyn Cote shares research tips. (Tweet This)

Author Bio:
Since her first Love Inspired romance debuted in 1998, Lyn Cote has written over 35 books. A RITA finalist and a Carol Award winner, Lyn writes contemporary romance and historical. Her brand is "Strong Women, Brave Stories."

In addition to her website, visit With Lyn At: 

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