Author Archives: Michele Israel Harper

Taking a Much-Needed BREAK!

I am SO hoping I don’t disappoint anyone, but I am sitting here, staring at my Wisdom and Folly Scrivener doc, and all I can think of is my bed.

How good it would feel.  How soft it is.

How completely free of children it is at the moment.

(That will change when the next airplane flies over, another all-nighter fan sets off another blasted firework, or a freak storm comes rolling through.  Getting a non-sardine-packed bed in this house is a great luxury.  Even with carting the kids to their own beds night after night.  Multiple times.  Every night since the week before the 4th.  Thank you, Independence Day.)

Anyway, I have the next TWO chapters of Wisdom and Folly greatly compiled, but not edited.  Oh-ho-ho, no.  Not edited in the least.

And an all-nighter tonight seems like it will be physically painful.  Not to mention, non-productive.

(Are these enough excuses to be pardoned for the night?  I’m sure I could come up with a few more if pressed.)  :)

So I am going to take this night off, go to bed, and push the ending of my story out one more week for sanity’s sake.

When is the story going to end, you may ask?

Well, I finally have an outline of sorts–seriously, God has been giving me each chapter a week at a time.  Nothing ahead except for the final chapter.  I begged Him for a outline or rough idea so I know where the story is headed and when it might stop, and He very kindly gave me the roughest outline ever.  I am thrilled.  This planner who loves to know every detail was given just enough to keep me from crying that it might never end.  It most definitely has an end in sight!  Woohoo!

Anyway, my over-zealous self did way too much today and yesterday and is exhausted.

And I feel completely released by God so that’s good enough for me!  :)

Take some time to rest today, dear one, and I will do my best to manage my time more wisely.

I will see you all next week!

Thank you for your faithful readership.

Each and every one of you mean so much to me.

Goodnight, all!

In Him,

Michele

Book Proposal

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I am wracking my brain over here to come up with a good proposal.

I’ve been working on the thing for a little over three weeks now (instead of the ONE in which I was hoping to have it completed) and I have to admit, I am floundering.

There are roughly five million guidelines for proposals out there, and most of them say proposals are for nonfiction works only.

Those for fiction are as varied as their authors.

Include Market Strategies; don’t include market strategies–your publisher will know this better than you will anyway.

Don’t include Comparative Titles; do include them–your publisher wants to see if you know your genre and market.

Ahhh!

For the love!  Please–just, please get together and agree on what you want.  Then get back to me!  I’ll do it, any of it!

I guess my plan for now is to compile as much as I can, then include whatever the publisher asks of me.

Have you ever put together a proposal for a fiction work?

If so, what was your process?

Here’s what a fiction proposal can include:

  1. Title Page
  2. Cover Letter
  3. One Sentence Hook
  4. Brief Overview
  5. Sell Sheet
  6. Synopsis
  7. Market Analysis
  8. Competitive Analysis
  9. Market Strategies
  10. About the Author
  11. Author Marketing
  12. Table of Contents
  13. Detailed Table of Contents
  14. Outline of Chapters
  15. Two to Three Sample Chapters
  16. First 30 to 40 pages instead of a set # of chapters

(This is taken from my notes from Dr. Hensley’s class, honestediting.com’s editing service (including proposal packages), and several fiction proposal articles from wherethemapends.com and rachellegardner.com.)

A bit much, you think?  :)

Right now I have a massive 50 page proposal including a title page, sell sheet, synopsis, market analysis, competitive analysis, market strategies, about the author, chapter outline, and first three chapters.

And my “Market Analysis” and “Market Strategies” have crickets chirping on those particular pages.

I’m tired just looking at that list.  And I’m hoping I get to write fiction again someday.  After that proposal is completed.

Ok, thanks guys!  Sometimes it is good to just vent and get it all out there!

Any suggestions on what I should focus on?

Until then, back at it!  :)

In Him,

Michele

Accepted by Writer’s Edge!

Oh my goodness, I’ve been so busy writing a chapter a week for Wisdom and Folly that I haven’t even been blogging on Sundays!

I didn’t realize it until today.  When I opened my email, I saw a message from Writer’s Edge staring me in the face.

“Congratulations! The Writer’s Edge has reviewed your manuscript proposal, and we are happy to inform you…”  They accepted my manuscript!!!

My son was fast asleep in my lap when I got the email, so I couldn’t scream until he woke up.  One hour later.  It was excruciating.  :)

What this means…

They are including my information on a list they send bi-monthly to 75 Christian publishers.  This includes Bethany House (swoon), Harper Collins, Random House, Revell, Tyndale, and Zondervan among the many!

The publishers, if they like what they see, will in turn contact me, and negotiations will commence!

Happy dance!

The editor who looked over my proposal gave me the best encouragement in the world.

“This was fun! I haven’t been able to get this quirky story out of my head. It has all the makings of a fun summer read.”

Had to do a lap around my chair for that one.  Who needs workout equipment when you have good news?

The editor also gave me some very amazing tips, such as “Don’t overwrite, show not tell, trim description, and kill adverbs.”

(And I thought I HAD done all of that!  I’m telling you, hiring an editor for your manuscript is probably the best thing you can do.  It’s so hard to see your own mistakes!)

Also, this past week, I entered my story into a contest with CrowdScribed and Jerry B. Jenkins.

Winner receives a $5,000 publishing package which includes:

  • One-on one mentoring of your choice of Celebrity Mentor (Jerry B. Jenkins)
  • Editorial review and treatment of your manuscript
  • Professional cover design and interior
  • Personal marketing representative
  • A publishing contract with CrowdScribed

Contestants get friends to vote daily, and the book with the most votes wins.  It ends 6/14/14.  (https://www.crowdscribed.com/challenges/73)

I have been fighting for second place with the current second place holder, who finally bumped me down to third.  Not upset.  Not at all.

But I have been feeling terrible about my “vote for me daily” campaign on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

It’s hard to shove yourself into people’s faces with whom you have only been social to this point.  And I would much rather keep friends than get my book published.

But I have also had some of the best support and encouragement through this.  I have some wonderful friends!  :)  Thanks, guys!

Ok, I think that’s it.

There you have it.

On my journey to publication, I have submitted my book to Writer’s Edge, been accepted, and entered my book to a writing contest through CrowdScribed.com.

Next, write a smashing proposal.  Tighten my manuscript.

(Oh yes!  I need help with the best title!  Originally Zombie Movie Date, it has morphed into A Zombie Tale for Writer’s Edge, and Zombie Takeover for Jerry B. Jenkins.  But that’s for another post.)  :)

Happy reading!

In Him,

Michele

Thoughts on Chapter Three.

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Ok, I admit it.  It’s been rough posting a chapter a week.  And it’s only been three weeks!

Not only do I want everything to be perfect, I also have these sweet little boys who want every ounce of my attention every second of the day.

But, how do I write a chapter a week and still maintain a semblance of a balanced lifestyle?

Well, I’m so glad you asked!  :)

First, a little background.

God nudged me to write Wisdom and Folly while I was praying for direction for my website.

I already had a few chapters, a rough outline, and a massive brainstorm going, but all of those got put aside while I pursued writing other books of mine.

My first thought was, “Absolutely.  Yes!  Excellent idea, God!” followed closely by “But someone might steal my idea!  I want a traditional publisher.  I want to get paid eventually!”

But, of course, God knows exactly what He’s talking about.

So this is my leap of faith.

My Process

First of all, most of my writing gets done after my little ones are in bed, so that only leaves a couple of hours four or five nights a week for writing.

Second, my family is my number one priority after God.  Which means I have to get enough sleep so I’m not a bear (or a zombie) the next day.

That cuts into my writing time just a wee bit.  It would be SO much easier if I just didn’t need sleep!

I have to schedule, organize, and create time to write, or it just ain’t gonna get done.

Here is my schedule for writing one chapter a week.

  • Saturday:  Brainstorm and Rough Outline.
  • Sunday:  I post to my blog on this day, so not much else gets done.
  • Monday:  Write, write, write.  Anything, everything–I can’t edit something I haven’t written!
  • Tuesday:  Light edit; fill in any gaps.  Write down new ideas or changes.  Edit some more.
  • Wednesday:  This is the day, after heavy editing, I try to get someone else to read it.
  • Thursday:  After the kids are in bed, I do a final read over, my husband reads it, then I post it between 10pm and midnight.
  • Friday:  I take a BREAK!  It’s a lot of work to get something ready for public viewing!  :)

So there you have it!  My trial and error process for writing and posting one chapter per week.

I’m having a blast using this precious gift God gave me!

To HIM be all the glory!

In Him,

Michele

Oh yes, one more thing.  Images.

One of the things I have read while studying about creating a blog is the importance of vibrant, come-alive images.

I found these angel pictures while searching Google, and I’ve searched and searched and searched for the original artist.

I finally sent them to IMA (Indianapolis Museum of Art) to, #1, find the artist and, #2, ask their legal department about copyright laws.

I was directed to post “Unidentified Artist” or link back to the source of the image.

I choose not to link back to the free wallpaper sites due to some rather, ahem, unsavory other images.

(But I have those on file in case you want to know where I got them!)

Right now I am reaching out to several artists to showcase their work on my site in exchange for whatever publicity I can bring them.

I am praying this works out, because I would much rather give someone credit for these gorgeous paintings.

So, if you happen to come across the original artist of these incredible works, please let me know right away!

P.S.  I have since found the artist of my original Chapter Three header, and have not yet received her permission to use her artwork due to some insane difficulty of being able to contact her.  I’ve changed the headers on this post and on Chapter Three of my Wisdom and Folly story, but I simply cannot wait to be able to speak with her.  The picture of the angel looking over her shoulder is most definitely my favorite so far!  Until then, enjoy my own personal photographs, or the many samplings of the incredible artists who have given their permission from deviantART.  God bless!

Hugs!

Writing Tips From a Master

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Wow, just, wow.

When Joyce and Janet, the leaders of my writing group, said with hushed voices and dreamy expressions, “If you can ever take a class of Dr. Dennis Hensley’s, do it,” I thought, Ok, sure.  I’ll keep that in mind.  Maybe.

Um, yeah.  As usual, they were right.

In March, I was privileged to take a writing intensive class with Dr. Hensley and Holly Miller, faculty of the Midwest Writers’ Workshop.  They edited and critiqued the first ten pages of my manuscript, as well as a synopsis and personal bio.  Invaluable information, I’m telling you.

But recently, I took one of the most amazing classes I have taken in my life.

Of course I have to share what I learned.

Dr. Hensley taught a one-day writing seminar through Taylor University.  The focus was Taylor’s Professional Writing degree.  (online.taylor.edu)  I had looked into Creative Writing degrees but not professional, and I wanted to know the difference, and which was better.

The answer?  Professional writing teaches the ins and outs of the industry and makes sure you are well-versed in the many different kinds of writing, whereas creative writing tends to focus on crafting words and manipulating language only.

Dr. Hensley stressed the importance of intimately knowing the industry that writers want so badly to be a part of.

Taylor offers an Associate’s degree online, and a Bachelor’s through their campus in Fort Wayne.

Oh, how I want to go back to school so badly!  Especially now that I finally know what I want to do when I grow up.  :)

The more Dr. Hensley taught, the more I did not want to leave.

He kept the entire class enthralled, on the edge of their seats, just waiting to hear what he would say next.  I am in awe of the number of things he can quote from memory.

He also shared 18 steps to becoming a successful writer, and I want to share them with you.

  1. Prefer plain words to fancy words.
  2. Prefer familiar words to unfamiliar.
  3. Use picture nouns and action verbs.  Not more words, better words.
  4. Avoid clichés, or worn-out expressions you have heard over and over again.
  5. Never use long words when a short word will suffice.
  6. Master the simple, declarative sentence.
  7. Vary the lengths of your sentences.
  8. Keep paragraphs short.
  9. Put key words you want emphasized at the beginning or end of your sentence.
  10. Use active rather than passive voice.
  11. Cut needless words, sentences, and paragraphs.
  12. Write like you talk.
  13. Avoid imitation.  No one wants to read your bad reproduction of Harry Potter.  (Bwahahahaha!!!)
  14. Think clearly and you will write clearly.
  15. Avoid gobbledygook, shop talk, and jargon.  Speak plainly and clearly.
  16. Write to be understood, not to impress.
  17. Beware of the temptation to overuse any one point of punctuation.  (This clearly does not apply to me!!!)  :)
  18. Revise with time.  Leave it alone for a while, then edit.

These are from my notes, and I apologize if I messed up anything he was trying to say!

He shared many other incredible writing tips, and if you would like to read more, please go to his website.  (www.dochensley.com)

I have just one, teeny, tiny, small bit of advice for you.  If you ever have the opportunity to hear Dr. Hensley speak, DO IT.

As in, buy a plane ticket if necessary.

He’s that good.

Write away, dear friends!  :)

In Him,

Michele

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