Monday, September 28, 2009

Forsaken Blog Tour - Day One

Meet Vanessa Miller, author of Forsaken
Vanessa Miller of Dayton, Ohio is an Essence best-selling author, playwright, and motivational speaker. Her stage productions include: Get You Some Business, Don’t Turn Your Back on God, and Can’t You Hear Them Crying and Abundant Rain.
To date, Vanessa has written the Rain Series and the Storm Series. The books in the Rain Series are: Former Rain, Abundant Rain, and Latter Rain. The books in the Storm Series are: Rain Storm and Through the Storm. These books have received rave reviews, winning Best Christian Fiction Awards and topping numerous Bestseller’s lists.
FORSAKEN is Vanessa’s newest book. Forsaken is the story of a fallen pastor’s journey back to God. Vanessa believes that each of her books will touch readers across the country in a special way. It is, after all her God-given destiny to write novels that bring deliverance to God’s people.

Pastor Jerome Tyler “JT” Thomas is charismatic behind the pulpit, charming to all he comes in contact with, and lethal to those who linger too long. Since the age of twenty-two, when he prayed for God to keep him out of prison, JT knew he would preach the gospel. Bishop Turner makes it possible; but there are strings attached, and now JT isn’t sure he can stay tied down.
Cutting loose causes more problems than JT anticipated. When an old friend from his days on the streets resurfaces and his extracurricular activity comes knocking on his front door, JT’s life and the lives of those close to him spiral out of control. Now he will need divine intervention to make things right. But how much help can a man hope to receive when he feels he’s been forsaken by God?

Forsaken by Vanessa Miller (excerpt) -

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For more information about Vanessa, visit her at

Friday, September 25, 2009

Copy Edits

I'm reposting from another blog. I thought this was hilarious and oh so true. I've heard it all and thought it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Authors v. C.E.s

A few days ago, a well-known author ranted on her blog about a recent round of copy edits. I don't draw your attention to this post because there's anything unusual in its content. There is not. In fact, it's commonness (is that a word?) was more or less what made it interesting. I've had to mediate a few rounds between authors and copy editors, and there is one predominant pattern in these arguments. The authors talk about voice, and the copy editors cite rules. If you read the comments on La Jenny's blog, you'll see what I mean. It's just more of the same, and almost any of those comments has had its mirror in my inbox at one time or another.

Based on my experiences (and not on Jenny's post or comments), here are some of the hallmarks of an author-versus-copy-editor battle.
"I Am Freaking Out!"

The author gets emotional. I may be able to understand and even empathize, but I probably can't get anywhere productive until we get past the yelling part. Just remember, all that venting might feel great and help you cope, but it probably won't bring us closer to the solution. Yell if you need to, but then cool it and work with me.

"But It's My Voice!"

The author talks a lot about her voice. Frequently, she can't articulate a reason for doing it her way except that she thinks it's her voice.

I never share these comments with the copy editor (or editor, on those rare occasions when I must mediate a disagreement between editor and author) because that would be a great disservice to the authors. There are two reasons for this. First, the author might not understand her own voice. This is both common and understandable. It's hard to get sufficient distance from your own work to analyze your voice.

Or, second, the author is in danger of branding herself as someone who is trying to build her voice on bad grammar and bad style. (Handy tip: You don't want to do that.) Part of my job is making our authors look like the brilliant, colorful butterflies they are. Sometimes this means listening, withholding judgment, and preserving confidence -- and when an author just doesn't understand a rule, I would rather educate her than expose her.

"That's Not a Rule!"

The author doesn't understand the rule that led to the change. This doesn't count against the author until after the rule has been explained. By that I mean that nobody understands everything perfectly. I don't expect to know everything, and I don't expect the people around me to know everything. But I do expect a certain openness to learning.

Many years ago, long before my days with Red Sage, I was freelance editing a manuscript for a very new author. Her manuscript was loaded with laughable dangling modifiers. ("Relaxing on the patio, the ice cream tasted delicious.") I wrote her a detailed explanation of what a dangling modifier is and how to avoid writing them. She sent me back a one-line email: "That's not a rule."

Well, yes, actually, it is a rule in every grammar system I know. I could forgive her for not knowing it in the first place, but her refusal to learn meant that I never took another editing project from her. All of which is to say, when you're getting ready to do nine rounds over what you see as an objectionable edit, remember that you might not understand the rule. And if someone takes the time to educate you, do them the courtesy of trying to learn something.

Now that we've seen some of what happens on the author's side of this battle, let's look at the copy editors. Oh, yeah, we're going there.

"But This Expert Says...."

Every copy editor worth her paycheck can cite house style guides, multiple grammar books, dictionaries, AP/APA/MLA/Chicago, and so on. They might know things you've never dreamed of, such as who Richard Lanham is, and if they're also content editors, they might also have opinions on how and when to apply Lanham's theories. (This is why it's dangerous to join a table full of editors at a cocktail party. You will have to listen to this sort of thing. And then you will cry. Though those might be tears of boredom rather than frustration.)

All of this education means that they've been thoroughly trained in competing and contradictory philosophies of style, usage, and grammar. And if they're left to choose their own solutions, they might just choose one you don't want. The most common problem I see in fiction editing -- and this is more or less what La Jenny was complaining about on her blog -- is a copy editor scorning generative grammar principles in favor of more formal classical grammar. (Fictive grammar generally draws from both schools.) (Also -- and this might just be my particular bias, but it's formed from experience -- it seems that the more educated an editor is, the more scornful she is of generative grammar.)

"But The Style Guide Says...."

The thing about copy editors is that, despite this incredible wealth of information at their disposal, they're really not paid to exercise editorial judgment. They're paid to apply a chosen system of rules to the material at hand. The house supplies the rules, and the copy editor follows them. This is what we expect them to do, and most of them do it brilliantly.

Knowing when not to apply a particular rule is a bit of an art, and it's one best left to other hands. So as long as the CE is following the rules she's supposed to follow, she's on safe ground, even if her result might sound funny. So cut her some slack if she turns in an odd change.

"But The Style Guide Is Wrong!"

Just as I've had authors explode over changes to their manuscripts, I've seen editors explode over changes to the style guide. Editors and copy editors alike become deeply wedded to certain principles -- and if they are also writers? Look out! You know how we sometimes joke about The Great Semicolon Debate of '08? That actually happened. And it's still happening to this day. Just last week I got an email from someone in-house about the damned semicolons, may they all burn in hell. And then got another one from the person on the other side of the argument. Never ends, I swear.

Some rules of grammar are constant from one system to another. Adjectives modify nouns, and progressive tenses signal ongoing action, and periods come at the ends of declarative sentences. Those sorts of things will never change.

Then there are matters of style and usage, which can vary somewhat. It's these variables that can cause the most squabbling on my side of the desk. Of course, most of us on this side of the desk are just twisted enough to think that kind of squabbling is super fun.

So what happens, really, when a disagreement forms over copy edits? I have to mediate between a copy editor with incredible knowledge (but not always the judgment we want to see) and an author who is in a panic (sometimes for good reason, even though she might not be able to articulate the reason). The end result is that both sides claim to be grateful for the resolution while secretly sticking pins into their Theresa dolls. And then I pour myself a stiff drink. There's your HEA!


ps. Jenny, I adore your books and your charming self. This post is not about you. It was just inspired by you.

For more informative posts on editing and point of view and a look at the author's book visit:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Ministry of Christian Fiction

The Ministry of Christian Fiction

When I first considered writing as a career it never occurred to me that my writing would also become a ministry.  As a person who’d always enjoyed reading for enjoyment I began writing stories that I also enjoyed reading. The characters were funny, exciting, and sometimes evil. Yet their stories served only one purpose, and that was to entertain. 
However, as I grew as a writer, I also grew as a Christian. God helped me to realize that along with my gift for storytelling he’d also given me another gift, the ability to minister through writing.
If you asked the average Christian to discuss the different ministries in their lives or their churches they would have a multitude of answers. There is the singles ministry, music ministry, web ministry, children’s ministry, young adult ministry, ladies ministry, and many more. There are almost as many ministries as there are members to be a part of them. For this reason I was a bit apprehensive when God asked me to be a part of a ministry I wasn’t familiar with.
Ministering to people is nothing new to me. I began singing at the age of four and I’ve been told that I have an anointed voice. When I sing, I believe that I minister. God uses my voice and the words of the songs to minister to the hearts of those who hear me. Sometimes I listen to music and the words help to encourage and get me through a difficult situation. Music ministry is something, I understood and enjoyed.
However, when I sat down to read fiction, I did not have ministry in mind. If I wanted to be ministered to I’d choose a non-fiction title such as “The Prayer of Jabez” by Bruce Wilkinson, or “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. In my thoughts, these were the types of books written with ministry in mind. I am not a theologian. I have not been to seminary and I felt there was no way that I could write something that would minister to someone.
But, God’s plan is not our plan.  In order to prepare me God began to speak to me through the ministry of other author’s. The first Christian fiction novel that I read was “Temptation” by Victoria Christopher Murry. I’m sure a book of hers was the first Christian fiction for many as she started a genre without even realizing what she was doing. I read her book because it was entertaining, without being filthy. I still did not understand the full purpose or power that Christian fiction held.

Then I picked up another novel by Victoria entitled “Joy”. I was going through a bad period in my life, and without realizing it or expecting it, I was ministered to through the pages of a fiction novel. “Joy” is a book, with fictional characters. However I realized while reading it that God could also handle what I was going through.


 “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalms 30:5)” This single scripture was the theme of this novel and I found the ministry I needed within its pages. It is still my favorite novel and sometimes when I feel down, I read excerpts from it to gain insight and strength.


Years later when God began to nudge me towards writing Christian fiction, I remembered this book and this feeling. I realized that the same way “Joy” spoke to me that the books I wrote could speak to others as well.


Christian fiction is a new ministry, one that some are not familiar with. There are those who do not read for pleasure, and may feel that Christian fiction only serves that purpose. There are people who feel that a Christian’s time should not be wasted being entertained, when he or she could be working for the kingdom. And still others feel Christian fiction is for the lost, and not the saved.


Some say Christian fiction is too preachy, yet I beg to differ. Christian fiction is just like any other fiction in that it has a plot, exciting characters, and an exciting storyline. I’ve read Christian fiction novels that held my attention more so than any secular novel.  Yet when I was done, I walked away with more than entertainment. I walked away with a message in my heart. A seed was planted and sown that could grow.


That is the definition of ministry. So as I continue to minister through my stories, I will continue to strive to entertain my readers. I want them to care about the characters and feel what they feel. I want them to become involved in the plot lines and feel excitement. But my ultimate goal, will be to minister through the pages of Christian fiction.

About the Author

Zaria Garrison is an award-winning author of Christian fiction who is committed to writing and publishing literature that ministers as well as entertains. 

Her ministry goal is to promote literacy in the Christian community, by helping Christians to hear the gospel within the pages of literature.

Zaria also offers insight and encouragement to aspiring authors through workshops, and writing classes that allow each participant to discover the craft of writing and how it can be used to effectively minister to youth, women, and all members of the community.

Her first Christian fiction novel Prodigal will be released by Urban Christian publishing, a division of Kensington, October 27, 2009.  She is also co-owner and staff writing of EKG Literary Magazine, which caters to all members of the literary community.

You can find her online at or                                                                                      

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Interview with Sherryle K. Jackson

Today I welcome one of my label-mates at Urban Christian Books, Sherryle Jackson. Sherryle's preparing for the release of her second novel, The Manual. I asked her stop by and tell us a little about it.

Hi Sherryle. Introduce yourself to my readers.

I'm a wife and mother of two, an educator by profession, but a writer by passion.

Tell us about your latest release The Manual.

The Manual is about former high school sweethearts who must come to a meeting of the minds after eight years to raise their teenage son. Deidre Collins has a chip on her shoulder since the break up. She can’t seem to forgive and forget. Andre Hicks resurfaces with a determination t make up for time lost with his son. Caught in the middle, their son, De Andre Hicks is destined to make the same mistakes his parents have unless they can reconcile their past to secure his future.

Interesting premise and very original. Where did the inspiration come from for this novel?

There were multiple streams of inspiration, recurring thoughts and prevailing truths from the Bible that made its way into the book. No other characters that I have created in the past was more influenced by people I encountered in my real life than DeAndre and his friends, the Dempsey twins, Rob and Rajah. I am a Middle School teacher. These teens are a mesh of the many teenaged males that I teach. They manage to get themselves into one predicament after another just by immaturity and a sense of immortality.

The title The Manual came from the old notion that all men read from the same manual. In this case the Hicks men have a very distinct trait of nonchalant self-sabotaging behaviors. The question is where does the cycle end?

What’s the spiritual takeaway for this story?

Like a manual explains the basics of a particular operation, The Manual highlights the basics of our faith which is love, forgiveness and sharing Christ with others.

Sherryle, now that you’re multi-published, what would you say is the most rewarding and not so rewarding aspect of this business? The most rewarding part has to be the cycle of the Lord speaking to you as your writing , and then finding your words have touched someone who has read it. The hard part is getting it in the hands of that reader. To be honest that is the hard part.

What keeps you writing when it’s so competitive for writers in this current environment? Belief in my stories keeps me writing. I am always saying something in my books that I believe God laid on my heart. Just like He gives an author like me that message I believe He has readers waiting to hear that message.

What’s been a successful marketing/promotion tool for you?

I found the internet to be so vast and quite an effective marketing tool. Social networking and touring popular literary sites to talk about your book can be equivalent to a traditional bookstore.

Tell us something that Sherryle likes to do when she’s not writing.

I love to read and virtually sit still! I am an observation station and going out to a crowded place to watch the world turn or just people watch is fulfilling to me. My grandmother use to call it piddling. I can’t say I get to do it much, but when I can sit quietly for any period of time I am immediately thankful.

How can readers find out more about you? Readers can find me on the world wide web at my website or follow my blog at I also have a fan page on Facebook (search for Sherryle Kiser Jackson Readers) that will keep you updated on signing and contest as The Manual releases.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Girl Naw Blog Tour - Day One

LaCricia A`ngelle is a licensed Evangelist, writer, and the President and CEO of His Pen Publishing LLC. A native of Chicago, LaCricia currently resides in Tennessee with her four children. Girl, Naw! is her first novel.

Her writing career began when she was a child writing songs, and short stories. LaCricia has always had a God given gift of putting words together.

As a Christian Fiction author, LaCricia not only writes for entertainment, but she also writes for ministry. Her goal in every piece of written work is to draw someone closer to Christ. The characters face real situations. LaCricia writes so that anyone can read her work and get something out of it, whether they are young or old. When you read a LaCricia A`ngelle original prepare to laugh, cry, pray, and stop to say “hmmm.”

Antoinette Walker has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. Those that know and respect her think she has it all, a wonderful husband, children that thrive in school, and a counseling practice that is growing by leaps and bounds. When hidden things from her past begin to surface, they threaten to destroy everything Antoinette loves. Only God can give her the strength to continue to counsel other women, as she struggles with her own issues of forgiveness. Will her faith be strong enough to help her stand in the midst of opposition?

Click here to read an excerpt.
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For more information about LaCricia, visit her at

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Interview with author, Pat Simmons

Hi Pat, welcome back. Introduce yourself to new readers.

I'm the mother of a son and daughter, and I've been married for more than 26 years. Ooh, I feel so old. I’m a genealogy fanatic and a dedicated seamstress. I enjoy listening to Old Wives Tales and mentoring young adults. I have a B.S. in Mass Communication from Emerson College in Boston, and once a year, I’m contracted to head the publicity for RT BOOKLOVERS Convention. This year, we’ll be in Columbus, OH., if it’s the Lord’s will.

Tell us about your new novel Not Guilty of Love.

It's book II of the Guilty series. "One man, one woman, one God, and one big problem. Malcolm Jamieson is a man's man. He has a strong sense of family, he’s a CPA, and when he finds the woman he wants, it’s forever and a day. Malcolm showers Hallison “Hali” Dinkins with his love and loyalty. Everything about him is right, except for his walk with God. Instead of their steamy love affair leading them to the wedding altar, God diverts Hallison to the prayer altar. Malcolm can't understand why he and God can't co-exist in Hallison's life. Remember, I said he was a man's man. He's in love, but he's not a fool. He issues Hallison a warning. "What we have is good, but we can go our separate ways. If we're meant to be together, we'll find our way back to each other. If not, there is a stronger loves that awaits us."

Share a little about the series.

The Jamieson men (primarily Parke, Malcolm, and Cameron are tenth generation descendants of a royal African tribe). They are strong black brothers who want to think they’re not easily intimidated. Only women they love can bring them to their knees. I have African-American genealogy tidbits weaved into the storyline, a dangerous Grandma BB, and characters that are a reflection of us.

Does it have a spiritual theme that’s consistent in all the books?

Yes, God gave me the gift to write the first book, and He hasn’t stopped blessing since. My Christian persuasion is of the Apostolic/Pentecostal doctrine and I’ve gotten great feedback about the struggles and the victories in my character’s lives. More than anything, I want to focus on what’s good in church. God says He knows where the devil’s seat is, so no surprises there. We know that, too, but I want to overtake the bad with the good characters.

Some authors feel series limit their creativity. What are your thoughts on this?

The Guilty series has become my “bread and butter.” What better way than to build a readership. The first author I met who wrote a series was Brenda Jackson with her Madaris men.

At the time, she had only written about three brothers. Today, Brenda is a USAToday, Essence, and New York Times bestselling author. Why? I believe Brenda (and I know her personally) would agree with me that she gave her readers what they wanted—more stories about the Madaris family. To me, readers determine whether they want a sequel or series—not me. What if I had a four part series and the readers couldn’t stand my characters or didn’t enjoy my storyline, then what? My goal is to offer reader a new set of characters with a different storyline in between the series.

Share some of your strategies for successfully writing a series and keeping each book fresh and interesting?

If you learn of any strategies, let me know. I can tell you about some struggles I face to keep the books fresh. First, every book has to be written as a stand alone book. No one enjoys coming in the middle of a movie or discussion. Give tidbits along the way. Years ago, I read a romance book and enjoyed it, then one day, I was in a used book store and saw the author’s name. When I picked up the book and read the blurb, I realized that I had read the second book first, but I wanted to know what happened before they got together. Second, I don’t care how many readers like your story, they don’t want to read about the same main characters in every book. Fade the major characters in the background and give a secondary character the spotlight. Readers just want an update. They don’t want to read about when the baby lost her first tooth. I have to smile on that one. Three, in the Guilty series, Hallison and Cheney have separate friends. I can’t tell a story about Hallison with Cheney’s friends. Four, keep a diary. I have a Guilty series summary list because this task is a major challenge for me. How old is someone in book I? Or they a year older in book II or has five years elapsed? Skipping a few years helps. I’m not an expert, but these are the things I’m watching out for myself.

Share some of your upcoming events?

I’ve already started my tour for Not Guilty of Love with a successful book release party at Barnes & Noble in St. Louis. I praise God for 43 books sold. I contribute that to two of my books are out in the series. The following day I attended a book club event in Chicago. I never knew there could be so many established book clubs in a metro area. In September, I’ll do signings in Kansas City, MO., Scott Air force Base in Belleville, IL., Books-a-Million Hazelwood, MO., five signings throughout the Chicago area, Dallas- Ft.Worth, and Houston. Are we tired yet? That’s about 15 events. I’m just starting my October schedule, which will include the Maryland, D.C, area and maybe Atlanta. I do my own publicity and set up my signings. If you don’t know what or how, please ask. We’re here to pull someone else up.

My travel agent extraordinaire is my husband who likes to go anywhere. He keeps Hotwire and Southwest Airlines in business. I always try to stay with family when they will take me in, and I have family in almost every place I go. I also want to point out my tour schedule wouldn’t be this ambitious if I had small children. I baby turned twenty on Sunday. Sniff, sniff.

How can readers finds you on the Internet?

Rhonda, thank you for the opportunity you have given to authors and book clubs over the past year. God is going to bless you and we all plan to support you. Love you dearly.