Monday, August 29, 2011

SEPTEMBER WORKSHOP: Conflict Makes the Story

As I'm critiquing manuscripts, I'm seeing a common problem: Lack of conflict.
So I'm offering a month long workshop to cover the basics of plot structure and offer perspective.
The class is appropriate for writers of all levels.
My classes are usually $30. but I'm offering this one this month only for $10.
Don't worry that you won't have time or you'll be unable to keep up, because the lessons are all downloadable and you can study them at your leisure - or even at a later date. See all the information below.

Cher  :-)


DATES:  SEPTEMBER 1 – 30, 2011
** Regularly a $30. class **

No matter what writing topic Cheryl addresses, she hangs the most importance on characters. Conflict is drawn from characters. It’s based on their goals, their backstory and their motivation. It is opposing forces that come from within the characters themselves.

Webster’s Dictionary defines conflict as “the opposition of persons or forces that gives rise to the dramatic action in a drama or fiction.” This definition is the essence of fiction, and we need to keep it in mind as we develop characters and plots. If there’s no conflict, there’s no story.

Conflict, of course, can be either light or heavy. In a humorous story, the problem may not be life threatening, but it still must be important to the characters. The characters’ motivations must be equally important to them. In suspense, the conflict is often life-threatening. All well-developed plots stem from creative use of conflict, and conflict is what keeps the reader turning pages.

In order to understand conflict and how to develop it, we must first understand what conflict is, what conflict is not, and what conflict can be. The elements that make up a story are so closely meshed that at times it becomes difficult to dissect and make a firm delineation between them. In a masterfully developed story, characterization, plotting, and conflict are all intricately entwined.

Cheryl will explain opposing goals and how to create conflict that will sustain a story. She’ll give practical advice on:
  • Motivating characters
  • Creating characters with built-in conflict
  • Revealing emotion through conflict
  • Internal and external conflict
  • Simple and complex conflict
Among her achievements, which include forty published books in both contemporary and historical genres, Cheryl St.John has received multiple Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Awards and four RITA nominations. In describing her stories of second chances and redemption, readers and reviewers use words like, “emotional punch, hometown feel, core values, believable characters and real life situations.” She has taught writing on local and national levels, and is in demand as a motivational speaker.

The class will be conducted via subscription to a private yahoogroup, two lessons per week, followed by questions and answers. Brief exercises pertaining to the participant’s current work in progress may be included. Archived class will be available for one week after the ending date.

Cheryl St. John's classes are full of insight and wisdom. Her lessons help me understand what's missing in my story and offer alternative ways to to approach my writing. Cheryl's willingness to share her experience and expertise is greatly appreciated by this aspiring writer. -- Susan Kapost

In July 2010, I received my first personalized rejection: My story had too much external conflict, and not enough internal conflict. For my next book, I took Cheryl St.John's class on conflict, crafted my plot using her proven methods to balance both external and internal conflict, and sent off the manuscript with fingers crossed. In August of 2011, Harlequin Love Inspired Historical bought my book, Winning the Widow's Heart, for release in June 2012. I truly believe Cheryl's class propelled my manuscript out of the slush pile and into an editor's hands.  -- Sherri Shackelford

Cheryl St.John
Marrying the Preacher's Daughter, LIH 6/11
Her Wyoming Man, HH 7/11
Snowflakes and Stetsons, HH 10/11
The Wedding Journey, LIH 4/12
Visit me on the web:
From the Heart:

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

ANN STEPHENS: Hitting on Readers: The First Line

In some ways, going to a bookstore reminds me of going to a bar hoping to meet someone. You figure you’ll indulge in something you enjoy, and will hopefully meet somebody you’d like to get to know better. Or you might rediscover an old flame. I scope out all the most attractive guys…um, covers…and approach the one I like best.  Good looks aren’t everything, though. If the pickup line is lame, I’ll find somebody else with more originality.  I want a book to hook me from the first sentence.

The first line of a book is its pickup line.  It has been my experience that authors have little say in what’s on the front or back of their books, so that opening sentence is the first chance our own words have to impress the reader. It has to count, to intrigue the reader enough to keep reading.  It should set the tone of a book, or at least make the reader want to know more about hero or heroine.  Cause as a writer, I am totally hoping some nice person will want to pick me up and take me home.

Even before a book hits the shelves, the first line must catch the attention of an agent or editor.  If that publishing professional got a good night’s sleep, lost a pound the day before and is having a good hair day, and thus feels up to adding yet another manuscript to an already enormous list waiting to be read, a writer has maybe five pages to convince him or her that this book should be printed or digitized. 

An opening sentence that is just words on a page will not induce a pro to read on.  One that is poorly phrased or grammatically incorrect (unless it’s dialogue that fits a character) raises the fear that other sentences in the manuscript will be just as bad.

It’s said that J.R.R. Tolkien simply jotted down the first line of The Hobbit while grading essays:  “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”  While the passive construction might be criticized today, it was acceptable in the 1930s.  And if you read it aloud, there is an irresistible rhythm to those words, compared an active version like “A hobbit lived in a hole in the ground.”  Lucky JRRT.  It takes me several tries to come up with a decent opening line.

There are a lot of common mistakes writers make with opening lines. Weather reports, geography lessons, “Hi, my name is ______”, and cameo scenes are some of the errors we all make.  In my case, it’s because I usually struggle to find exactly were my backstory ends and the book starts.  Or which character should start the story.

In a Weather Report, the opening line is something like “It was a warm spring day in Gopher Gulch, with just enough wind to cool the brow of Bob Manlyman as he trudged along the dirt road.”  This is just me, but I prefer an active opening:  “A spaceship swooped down from the bright April sky and disgorged a furious alien that pointed a disintegration gun straight at Bob’s heart.”  Now there’s something at stake.

The Geography Lesson is similar to the Weather Report, except it describes the surrounding area instead: “Brill Court, the estate of Lord Manlyman, nestled into the rolling  landscape.”  Pretty, but how does this matter to the rest of story? Does Lord M. love his estate? Does he hate it? Has he just gambled it away?  “Lord Manlyman swallowed the lump in his throat as his gaze swept over his home one last time.”  Aha, emotion!  Now the reader wonders why Lord M. has a lump in his throat  and why he’s leaving his home.

And the introductory opening, which one of the writers in my crit group refers to as the Call Me Ahab approach.  I make this error a lot.  “Lady Sophronia Girlygirl lifted her head at the sound of approaching footsteps.”  Aside from the boring approaching footsteps, we don’t (as I have been reminded often) need to know Sophronia’s entire name and title in the first few words.  There’s an entire book after the first line in which I can provide that information.

The original opening scene of my current WIP took place in the dress shop where the heroine works and she interacted with two secondary characters I was never going to use again.  What was I thinking? I replaced it with “Alix fingered her reticule as she inhaled the savory aroma of fresh-baked meat pies.”  The character is now on her way home to her daughter, a location and character that will play a big part in the story.

A good first line presents the hero or heroine’s immediate quandary and their response to it.  It gives a sense of immediacy and action, even if the character is only thinking about a problem.  It must make the reader want to read more. The hook in my first book, To be Seduced, starts with “He had picked a prodigious cold day to abduct someone.”  

The opening to my second proved a greater challenge, as I wanted to open it in the heroine’s perspective.  Her Scottish Groom (March 2011) takes place in the late Victorian era, when upper-class females were often kept in a state of submission and ignorance.  I had to keep my heroine true to her time and upbringing even as she acted against them. So I came up with this: “Tonight called for some act of rebellion, no matter how insignificant.”

Here are some of my favorite examples from different genres. I like them because they are brief and vivid:

The small boys came early to the hanging. - Ken Follett, Pillars of the Earth (Prologue)

Matrimony. The very word was menacing.  - Nicole Jordan, To Pleasure a Lady

For seven days we had been tempest-tossed.  - Johann Wyss, Swiss Family Robinson

It is possible for a long sentence with involved clauses to start a book, of course. Consider one of the best hooks that ever opened a romance novel:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a good wife  - Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Monday, August 22, 2011

Meg Mims: Unusual Settings – with the Usual Suspects

When I started writing Double Crossing, I had no idea I’d created a big problem. I wanted to use the premise of True Grit – which has had two movies based on the Charles Portis’ novel – but planned my inciting incident to take place in Evanston, Illinois. After  my heroine’s father is murdered, she vows to track down the killer. But the similarity to Mattie Ross ends there. Lily Granville realizes she must take the newly opened transcontinental railroad, the Iron Horse, to California. And what begins as an adventure soon turns perilous.

The problem didn’t pop up until halfway through writing the book. I was happily tapping away at the keyboard, content in following my revised outline, as Lily met new friends on the first leg of her journey to Omaha, Nebraska. I had no problem coming up with dialogue between the characters who discussed their background history—what they shared with Lily anyway. And I wove in plenty of historical details of the train when they boarded the Union Pacific. Then I realized things just might get stale.

How was I going to keep my characters, and readers, from getting bored in such a confining space? The characters could only exchange so much information. The suspense in my outline had high points, of course, but a writer can’t just jump from point C to point J. Something has to happen in between.

In order to avoid losing readers, I added a minor subplot but that only stretched so far. I turned to some handy tricks I’d learned while writing in the mystery/suspense genre. And that’s where “the usual suspects” came in. Building tension between characters, minor as well as main ones, seemed to come easier when I ratcheted up the stakes and manipulated the circumstances a bit. And one thing I learned from a good friend came in handy—when all else fails, throw in another dead body.

 From DOUBLE CROSSING, Meg Mims, Astraea Press, August 2011:
I clamped a handkerchief over my mouth but Omaha’s black dirt still choked me. My hard sneeze left a ringing in my ears. There had to be a general store somewhere with needles and thread. Stray sparks from the Chicago and Western’s smokestack had burned tiny holes in my split skirt and jacket, and I was desperate to repair them both.
At last I found a shop. A bell jangled above my head when I entered. The bulky proprietor laughed and joked with several customers while he filled orders at the polished walnut counter. I meandered down each crowded aisle. Scents of dill, chives and cinnamon tickled my nose. Potatoes with earthy skins and papery onions filled open barrels. Small jars of pickled beets and corn relish, tins of fruit and baked beans lined the shelves. Huge burlap sacks of flour, sugar, salt, coffee and beans lay near the door, and wheels of cheese had been stacked above crates of smoked fish and salt pork.
Seeing the flatirons, hoes, plows and other tools all around brought a sense of normalcy back to my life. I realized I’d been wandering in a haze since Father’s funeral.
I soon found the rack of notions. “Closing in half an hour, miss,” Mr. Porter said with a friendly smile. “Like to see my bolts of silk? I got pattern paper too.”
“I need a travel sewing kit, if you have one.”
Armed with a clever box crammed with thread, needles and a tiny pair of silver folding scissors, I wandered the back aisles. A leather money belt caught my eye, with firm stitching and eight compartments. Dodging a row of sturdy butter churns and stacked washboards, I placed the belt on the counter along with an oilcloth cape and several green apples.
“Two dozen peppermints also, please.”
“Certainly, miss.”
Once I paid the bill, I scurried to a quiet corner away from the few remaining shoppers. Shiny snaps on the wide belt secured each compartment. I adjusted it around my waist and tugged my suit jacket to hide its bulk. Perfect!
I glanced around for a mirror and then froze, staring at my feet and then behind me. My pocketbook was nowhere in sight. I thought I’d wedged the leather two-handled bag between the crates of saltines at my elbow. Frantic, I searched the entire corner and each aisle of the shop in vain. Fear gripped me in a stranglehold. My expensive Pullman ticket, stolen! My hands shook and I had trouble thinking straight for a full minute.
I raced back to the counter. I waited until Mr. Porter finished a customer’s transaction. “Sir, did I leave my pocketbook here? I paid my bill not five minutes ago. The money belt, sewing kit, peppermints—”
“Sure I remember, miss.” Mr. Porter reached beneath the polished wood and planted my bag on top. “A gent brought this to me. Said he found it on a barrel.”
I stared at him. “What did he look like?”
The storekeeper shrugged. “Wore a suit and derby hat, like every other man passing through town.”
I opened the pocketbook’s clasp and glanced inside. Everything was intact, even my precious Pullman ticket and all my money. I murmured a prayer of thanks until realizing that my sketchbook was wedged upside down, on the wrong side. My black-edged handkerchiefs were crumpled on the bottom as well. Someone had searched the contents.
Someone who followed me from the hotel. Some stranger from the train, or Emil Todaro himself? A shiver raced up my spine. It couldn’t be possible. Or could it? Had I underestimated him again? Instead of being the hunter, was I now the prey?
 That thought infuriated me.

Meg Mims is an author, artist and amateur photographer. She writes historical mysteries and romantic suspense, and is a staff writer for RE/MAX Platinum in Michigan – writing articles about the real estate market, community events and Realtors – and for Lake Effect Living, a West Coast of Michigan tourist on-line magazine. Meg’s article about the one-legged Civil War veteran and lighthouse keeper of South Haven, James S. Donahue, appeared in Vol. 34, No. 2 Summer 2011 issue of The Chronicle, the Historical Society of Michigan magazine.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Go See: The Help

In between books can be a very good place. I had a knee surgery, physical therapy and wrote two books all in a few months time. I admit I was stressed. I'm decompressing now and taking some much-needed time to fill the well. Today, with my office partially cleaned, I dropped a Dove Bar (thank you Sherri) into my purse and headed for the movies.

I can't even tell you how much I loved this movie. I'm so glad this was my choice.

What it's about:
Based on one of the most talked about books in years and a #1 New York Times best-selling phenomenon,  “The Help” stars Emma Stone (“Easy A”) as Skeeter, Academy Award®–nominated Viola Davis (“Doubt”) as Aibileen and Octavia Spencer as Minny—three very different, extraordinary women in Mississippi during the 1960s,  who build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project that breaks societal rules and puts them all at risk.

From their improbable alliance a remarkable sisterhood emerges, instilling all of them with the courage to transcend the lines that define them, and the realization that sometimes those lines are made to be crossed —even if it means bringing everyone in town face-to-face with the changing times.

Deeply moving, filled with poignancy, humor and hope, “The Help” is a timeless and universal story about the ability to create change.

At two hours and seventeen minutes, this film is long as far as today's movies go. I cried at least five times. I loved everything about it: The setting, the clothing, the soundtrack (Mary J Blige) the choice of actors...but most especially the honesty and deep emotional investment the writer, or author in this case, had in telling this story. You've probably read how Kathryn Stockett was rejected sixty times before someone made an offer on her book. I can't imagine why.

This is a film every young person should see. I was alive during the sixties, but growing up in the Midwest, I learned only a blurry concept of racial discrimination. The Help is as eye opening as the mini-series Roots was in the late seventies. Making our country's history real by assigning lives and emotions and faces to facts will help young people understand where we've been and how far we've come.

Speaking of Roots, the beautiful Cicely Tyson plays an old woman in The Help. When did that happen? The entertainment value is high on the awesome scale, as well. Movie-goers will cheer for the underdogs and root for the main characters, in all their diversity. Seeing Sissy Spacek in this role was a little unsettling too, because I sure don't think of her as a doddering old woman, but she was great, as expected.

Two thumbs up from this movie goer. Go see The Help. And take a hankie.


How Much Research is Too Much?

There are definitely plenty of things a writer needs to know before she starts to write her book. Characters don’t exist in a vacuum; they have occupations and homes and families and histories and nationalities and all number of things we need to know to make them three-dimensional and bring realism to the story.

I often set books in the same state and even same geographical area. I own shelves of picture books, reference books and maps as well as books on plants and animals and it's just wise to get the most out of study and resources. Besides the convenience, a location can to chosen to support an important part of the story, like railroads, natural resources, weather and any number of things you might want to feature.

I once wrote a book about a German family who owned a brewery. (Her Colorado Man) I had no idea how much work I was in for. I had to select a setting conducive to cold water streams. I had to know enough about brewing beer to decide which method they used and why, and which year would be workable. I chose a year when bottling was first being introduced and also a year that there was a huge Exposition in Denver. So my actual location and the brewery were fabricated, but everything about the people and production and operation and the time period were factual. Keeping facts as close to real as possible makes the reader believe.

I also had to know something about my hero who came to this Colorado town from Alaska, where he’d been delivering mail between tent towns and postal stations. That research was probably the most difficult, because all the facts easily found about Juneau and the Yukon pertain to the gold rush, which didn’t happen until after my time period. So that part of my education took more searching. So besides looking up breweries, their operation and types of brewing methods before I started, I searched for information on sled dogs, Alaskan temperatures, modes of travel and traditional Bavarian foods. I ended up with a binder full of facts and pictures. 

Sometimes I have to make an additional folder on one subject, like say liveries or beer making. In my opinion, you can’t ever know too much about your location or your topic or the cultures of your people.

Confession: I’m a paper person. I’ve learned to use PBWiki, personal online storage, but even though I have that ability and I’ve bookmarker the online information, I still want to be able to flip through my binder and put my finger on that list of names I was going to use. I need to see the paragraph about the competitive advantages of lager brewing over ale. That’s just me. If you are a writer, maybe you’ve got a smarter way to store your research, and if so, I applaud you. The important thing is that your method works for you, and you’re not losing writing time searching for something you’ve lost.

Now just because I have all that info doesn’t mean I will ever need to or that I ever should use it all. A writer knows far more about her subjects than she should ever use in a story. But she needs to know it, because if she didn’t, she’d make mistakes. I have many writer friends who love the research part so much that it takes on a life of its own. Once they start, they can’t stop.

Here’s how to know when to quit researching: If your study is cutting into your production, you’re researching too much. If you get caught up in the fact-finding and aren’t tallying a page count, you’re doing too much research. If you’re not putting words on pages, you’re avoiding writing. Give your study a rest and write the story. You can learn the rest of the details as you need them. I learn enough to get started and then I begin. When I get to something I don’t know, I simply google the subject. If I’m on a roll and need to know something, I leave an asterisk and come back to it after the muse is burned out for the day.

So, yes there is a lot a writer needs to know, but the wise writer knows when to call a halt get down to business.

I have three books out this year:
Marrying the Preacher's Daughter, LIH 6/11
Her Wyoming Man, HH 7/11
Snowflakes and Stetsons, HH 10/11

Visit my website:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Free Kindle Western Romances

Who doesn't like a free book? These are all great reads by popular authors. If you don't have a Kindle, you can read them on your PC. Just download as Kindle for PC.

The Frontiersman's Daughter

The Vigilante's Bride

Ransome's Honor

Sixteen Brides

Daughter of Joy

Homespun Bride

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Swiss Steak on the Menu

I made this for supper last night and it was incredibly good. Tender and flavorful. Just right.

Prepare ingredients and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Give yourself about a half hour to 45 minutes of prep time

2 or more pounds of beef steak - I used top sirloin, but even a bottom round will tenderize.
Celtic sea salt and coarse ground pepper
1/2 - 3/4 cup of flour
stick of butter or margarine and olive oil
thinly sliced or coarsely chopped onion
2 cloves of garlic, chopped or minced
2 cups chopped celery
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 cups diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce
1 can beef broth

At med-high heat melt enough butter and oil to completely cover the bottom of a dutch oven
Cut steak into serving size pieces and trim off all the fat
Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper and pound with tenderizing mallet until the steak flattens
Place flour is a flat dish and coat steak with flour, then brown on both sides, a couple minutes each side
Remove meat to a plate
Add celery, garlic and onions to the pan and saute until they change color
Grab a handful of paper towels; soak up and discard the excess oil
Add the tomato paste the the veggies and blend
Add tomatoes, spices, Worcestershire and beef broth. Stir.
Return the steak to the Dutch oven; make sure it's covered with liquid.
Make sure the lid fits tightly or reinforce with aluminum foil. Bake for 1 & 1/2 hours.

I served the Swiss steak with steamed broccoli and mashed potatoes.
Rice is an excellent side choice as well.
Serves six people.

I wish I'd taken a photo because it was pretty as well. I was a slacker.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Diana Nyad: I want to inspire the boomers

Diana Nyad set off on a 103 mile swim from Cuba to Florida, something that has never been done before. This is her second attempt. Last time she was in her twenties. No shark cage, no touching a boat. She listens to Bob Dillon and Janis Joplin to alleviate boredom.

The trip will take her days. Days, people.

I went to the gym this morning, and did my one-hour workout.

"Be engaged in your life," was her quote I heard on the Today Show.

I am inspired, Diana. Thank you.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Pam Andrews Hanson: Writing from the Heart

I'm delighted to feature long time friends, Pam Hanson and Barbara Andrews today. When I was a fledgling writer many years ago, I joined my local RWA chapter and met Barb. My first experiences with reading my manuscript and critiquing took place in her home. She heard my very first attempts at writing and encouraged me.

I will always remember the warm open environment Barb provided as well as the support and friendship an insecure new writer so desperately seeks. I can easily say I learned a lot from her, not only about technique, but about the importance of an atmosphere of support. It was on several of those occasions when I met Pam and became friends with her as well. And so it is with great pleasure I introduce my good friend, Pam:

My mother/writing partner, Barbara Andrews, and I have been writing together for nearly 20 years.  And after publishing more than 30 books with traditional publishers, we are thrilled to be launching our first ’indie’ published e-book,  Faith, Fireworks and Fir. Written as Pam Andrews Hanson, it’s an original inspirational romance available for Kindle on Amazon and Nook on Barnes and Noble. 

This book, set in the small town of Evergreen, Michigan, tells the story of Faith and David, who each wonder whether they can find a partner in life, love, and belief.  Although they’ve known each other since childhood, their paths haven’t crossed in years. Faith runs her parents’ year-round Christmas store in Michigan, and accountant David owns his own firm in Phoenix, Arizona.  When David returns to Evergreen to persuade his two beloved aging aunts to retire, the women enlist Faith in their plan to thwart their well-meaning nephew. Both Faith and David have reason to doubt their own judgments in matters of the heart. Physical and emotional distances stand in their way. Yet they share strong feelings for each other rooted in love of family and the Lord,

Although Barbara and I are delighted to continue writing inspirational women’s fiction for Guideposts, we view writing e-books as another great way of connecting directly with our readers and telling romantic stories about people of faith from the heart of America.  Between the two of us, Barbara and I have lived in Michigan, Iowa, Arizona, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and – most recently – Nebraska.

One of the things we like best about the books we are writing now is they are stories about real people facing real challenges.  One of the highest compliments we’ve ever received came from a reader in West Virginia who said, “I love your books.  I feel like I really know these people.  Your books are the first ones I’ve read where they are about people like me.”

So why write e-books now? Everywhere we look we see people reading books on their Kindles, Nooks, or iPads.  We’re excited to reach readers this way.
This is not the first entrepreneurial venture my mom and I have tried. The summer after my junior year of high school, she and I went into the ‘junk’ business. My Aunt Marge (who gave my mom a paper bag of Harlequin romances which in turn spurred  her novel writing career) owned a flea market in a small southwestern Michigan town not far from the city where we lived. She offered us a booth to set up and sell our wares. We haunted garage sales for antiques and collectibles and books to resell. I started collecting cookbooks that summer. After expenses, I earned enough to buy myself contact lenses. It was the best summer job I ever had, and my mom and I had a lot of fun.
Just like we are now.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Pam Hillman: Stealing Jake - FREE!

With ebook sales rocketing skyward, established publishers, authors and readers alike are taking a second look at electronic publishing. Tyndale House Publishers answer is the Digital First Program.

Tyndale launched the program in July 2011 with four fiction titles and one non-fiction title. Digital First's initial ebooks include Delivery by Diana Prusik, Cash Burn by Michael Berrier, Stealing Jake by Pam Hillman, The Reinvention of Leona Harper by Lynne Gentry and a non-fiction title, 40 Days without Food: Divine Goodness to a Starving Soul by Russ Masterson.

Right after the announcements came out, someone asked me this burning question, "Why did you through Tyndale to do an ebook, when you could have gone directly to Amazon?"

Seriously? First reason, because Tyndale launched a Digital First Initiative, and I was blessed enough to be one of the 5 debut authors chosen to launch the program.

Next, are you ready for this? My publisher is Tyndale House Publishers! Oh. My. Lucky.Stars!

I could stop right there, because that's reason enough in and of itself, but if you want more, here you go:

My book was edited by Tyndale editors. They were awesome! The entire process was as smooth as silk. My cover was designed by Tyndale cover designers. And I love it! My book is backed by Tyndale's good name. Whoa! Tyndale has marketing and publicity power. That I don't have... Tyndale did all the work to get my book listed on Amazon, CBD, B&N, and Mobipocket.

And finally, I am a Tyndale author, not just another name on Amazon. How much is that worth to me? I can't even begin to measure that. I have no clout or pull with readers. Sure, some of my friends and family would have bought my book if I put it up on my own, but then that would have been the end of it, unless I got lucky as a few do. (And more power to them!)

And if this Digital First Initiative is as successful as it's shaping up to be, I might even see Stealing Jake in print next. This is a win-win situation for the Digital First authors and for Tyndale, and I'm over-the-moon excited to be partnering with one of the most respected publishing houses in the industry on this new venture.

Here are three wonderful articles that shed more light on Tyndale's Digital First Initiative:

When Livy O'Brien spies a young boy jostling a man walking along the boardwalk, she recognizes the act for what it is. After all, she used to be known as Light-fingered Livy. But that was before she put her past behind her and moved to the growing town of Chestnut, Illinois, where she's helping to run an orphanage. Now she'll do almost anything to protect the street kids like herself.
Sheriff's deputy Jake Russell had no idea what he was in for when he ran into Livy--literally--while chasing down a pickpocket. With a rash of robberies and a growing number of street kids in town--as well as a loan on the family farm that needs to be paid off--Jake doesn't have time to pursue a girl. Still, he can't seem to get Livy out of his mind. He wants to get to know her better . . . but Livy isn't willing to trust any man, especially not a lawman.

Interwoven throughout is a group of street kids arrested in Chicago and sold as child labor. Leading this band of ragamuffins is young Luke, a scared, determined orphan intent on rescuing his little brother at any cost.

Stealing Jake is free for a limited time on Amazon, B&N & CBD. It was #1 on the top 100 Free Kindle list at Amazon for 7 days! Mind boggling and a testament to Tyndale’s clout as a publisher of quality fiction. 

To celebrate the release of Stealing Jake, I’m giving away a Kindle. Deadline to enter the contest is September 30thCLICK HERE TO ENTER

Award-winning author Pam Hillman writes inspirational fiction set in the turbulent times of the American West and the Gilded Age. Her debut book, Stealing Jake, won the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Genesis contest and was a finalist in Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart contest. She lives in Mississippi with her husband and family.