Thursday, January 11, 2018

Handling Rejection #Writing#Matthew5#Marketing#Encouragement

“Parable for Writers”

Adaptation of keynote address at Warner Pacific College Christian Writers Conference, 3-26-85, revised 1-10-18

Behold, the kingdom of writing is as a Great Author who called his servants and delivered unto them his messages to be shared with a waiting world. To one,
he gave five talents: writing novels, articles, short stories, essays, and poetry. To another he gave two talents: narration and dialogue. To yet another, inspiration.

The writers who received two talents and five talents diligently pursued their trade. They recognized that while the Great Author had given the talents, they were responsible for presenting the material in the best way possible.  After many days, weeks, months, and rejections, the original talents had doubled.

The writer with one talent believed inspiration was enough. She hastily wrote down her thoughts and sent them to a leading Christian publisher, stating, "This came from the Great Author. Not one jot or tittle is to be changed. The editor (who had heard this far too often) refrained from saying, "You may have been led to write it, but the Great Author didn't tell me to publish it." The author felt both she and the Great Author had been slapped in the face. She buried the manuscript in her bottom desk drawer and wrote no more.

* * *

The Great Author returned at last. He who had received five talents and she who had been given two, came with the results of their labors. The Great Author said, "Well done, thou good and faithful servants. Thou hast been faithful over the little things; I will make you author of many. “

Then the writer with one talent came forth.“I knew You would be as angry as I was with the editor who rejected the manuscript you gave me. I was also afraid of what You might do to other publishers who were equally unperceptive. I hid my manuscript so they would not suffer."

There was a great silence before the Great Author spoke. "Oh ye of little understanding! You are a wicked and slothful servant. Did you suppose I would dictate my message to you as I would into a heartless machine? Did you think only you were given inspiration? Even as I give writers talent for expression, I give editors talent for refining. Gold in its raw state is dug from the ground nugget by nugget. Before it can reach full potential for beauty, it must be purified and refined.

“It is the same with writing. If you knew I was vengeful, why did you not share that message with someone willing to put it into the finest form possible to reach others?" He turned to his servants. "Take this talent of inspiration and give it to the writer with the five talents.”

* * *

Handling Rejection: The acid test


 Some say each rejection gets easier. Doubtful.
      Others believe the solution is dilution—the more manuscripts a writer has submitted, the more chance of sales, and less painful from rejections because the very next day may bring an acceptance. When I was getting started, I kept dozens of short stories/articles out there (many magazines use one-time rights).  
          Still others feel everyone must collect an undetermined number of rejections before the first acceptance.

Finally, there are those who believe if we are selling a high percentage of our work on the first try, we may be aiming too low.  

I personally believe there is only one way to handle rejections. Write, believe in your work, strive to improve, and submit as long as you can find an editor to read your work. (It took 15 years and many tries to sell two of my best books: Belated Follower, my only Biblical novel; Writing Smarter, not Harder, the Workbook Way, which became the text for my college writing classes.)

If traditional book publishers don't buy, you may wish to try online publishing.

Reasons for Rejection ( I prefer to call them returns😊.)

If Jesus had submitted His life story to the Capernaum Press or the Galilee Publishing Company perhaps He would have received one of these responses.

  • ·        Too controversial. We don't promote rabble-rousing.
  • ·        Not for us: turn-the-other-cheek theme will never sell.
  • ·        Not politically correct. We are partially supported by Pharisees, Inc.
  • ·        Our readers don't need another title about a fanatic with a lost cause.
  • ·        We might reconsider if you omit practicing medicine without a license.

“Opportunity,” AKA, “The Broken Sword” (Edward R. Sill, 1841-1887)

This I beheld, or dreamed it in a dream:—-
There spread a cloud of dust along a: plain;
And underneath the cloud, or in it, raged
A furious battle, and men yelled, and swords
Shocked upon swords and shields. A prince's banner
Wavered, then staggered backward, hemmed by foes.

A craven hung along the battle's edge,
And thought, “Had I a sword of keener steel-—
That blue blade that the king's son bears--but this
Blunt thing! "—he snapped and flung it from his hand
And lowering, crept away and left the field.

Then came the king's son, wounded, sore bestead [sicl 
And weaponless, and saw the broken sword,
Hilt—buried in the dry and trodden sand,
And ran and snatched it, and with battle-shout
Lifted afresh, he hewed the enemy down,
And saved a great cause that heroic day.

* * *

The king’s son never considered giving up. Neither should we. 


Monday, January 1, 2018

The Power of Words #Follow Your Dream#2018#Past,present,future#QueSerá


For better or worse, 2017 is over. Now we stand on the threshold of a new, untried year. There is a gorgeous full moon sailing high outside my office window, a welcome sight after snow on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It was beautiful, but inconvenient for those who had to be out on icy roads.

I look ahead, wondering what 2018 will bring to family, friends, our country, the world, and me. The song "Que será" in "The Man Who Knew Too Much," asks whether there will be rainbows day after day. The answer, of course, is that the future is not ours to see; what will be, will be. 

We may not have rainbows day after day--yet they do appear, sometimes against a dark sky, at other times, in the blue heavens. We simply need to look for them.

Petula Clark's song, "Look to the Rainbow," tells how a father gave a legacy, a song to sing when the world falls apart. His advice? "Look to the rainbow. Follow it . . . and follow the fellow who follows a dream."

In 1977 God used words from Emilie Loring's novel, There is Always Love, to change my life. For two years I had been getting up at 4:30 a.m, writing for two hours before work, nights, and on weekends. I sold a couple of inspirational romances to a low-paying place, and quite a few articles. The desire to fulfill my long-held dream of becoming a full-time author grew. Time after time I read Ms. Loring's challenge to her heroine by a wise friend who planned to drastically change her own life.

 "There is only one common-sense move when you don't like your life. Do something about it. Get out. Go somewhere. Follow a rainbow. Who knows, you may find the legendary pot of gold at the end of it."

Inspired by the challenge, I gave notice at my good-paying government job where I was winning awards. Forty-two years old, with no financial guarantee, I knew in my heart it was what I was being called to do. Forty years as a successful author have confirmed that calling.                                                                                                                  
If there is something you long to accomplish, don't let dark skies dampen your dreams. Work to make them reality. Persist, no matter how many or how high the  obstacles are that block your path Every step forward, small or great, brings you closer to your goal. 

* * *
Rainbows are symbols of hope. In Genesis 9:13, (KJV) God says, "I do set my bow in the cloud and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth."

My 2018 prayer is that each of you may focus on the rainbow of promise and follow your dream. 



Friday, December 22, 2017

HAPPY "HOLY-DAYS!" #Christmas#MeaningfulMessages#Writing#CountingBlessings

Truly "the most wonderful time of the year." A time to count blessings, lay aside troubles and disappointments, and look forward to 2018 as an even better year.
Inspiration for the holidays

Meaningful Messages

One of my blessings is having author friends send me inspiring, touching, humorous, and thought-provoking messages and writings. Here is an edited version of one that brought a chuckle. 

“Can I ask you a question, God?”

           Of course.

“Promise you won’t get angry?
          I promise.

“Why did You let so much bad stuff happen to me today?”

Such as . . .?

“I woke up late and my car took forever to start.”


“At lunch they made my sandwich wrong. I had to wait for a new one.”


“On the way home, my phone went dead, just as I picked up a call.”


“When I got home, all I wanted to do was to soak my feet in my new foot massager and relax. It wouldn’t work. Nothing went right today. Why did all these bad things happen?”
First, you woke up late and your car wouldn’t start right away because there was a drunk driver on your route to work. He would have hit you if you had been on the road at your usual time.”


           Really. At lunch the person who made your first sandwich was sick. I didn’t want you to catch what she has and have to miss work.
“Good, but what about my phone?"

           It went dead because the caller was going to spread lies about what you said. I didn’t let you talk, which took care of that.

“Thank You so much!”

           The foot massager had a short that was going to throw out all of the power in your house tonight. I didn’t think you would want that.

“No way. Sorry for complaining.”

           Don’t be sorry. Just learn to trust me in all things.

“Thank You, God. I will.”


Special Blessings

I treasure comments from friends, readers, and strangers who take time to let me know I have touched their lives in some way, usually through my writing.

One eighteen-year-old girl wrote, "It's hard to be a PG teen in an R-rated world. The choices your heroine made in . . . helped so much in making tough decisions in my own life."

A friend simply wrote, "Thank you for being there for me when I needed someone to listen."

Such comments mean more to me than being on the New York Times best-seller list (although that wouldn't be bad, either)! 

So does knowing I am in the right place at the right time, doing what I have been called . . . and privileged . . . to do. One of my favorite poems says it all.

I Shall Not Pass This Way Again

Through this toilsome world, alas!
Once and only once I pass,
If a kindness I may show,
If a good deed I may do
To a suffering fellow man,
Let me do it while I can.
No delay, for it is plain
I shall not pass this way again.

I would add to this the inspiring words from a Mahalia Jackson song:

"If I can help somebody as I travel along . . . my living will not be in vain."

We cannot give without also receiving. My Christmas prayer is that each of us will make a difference in someone's life. Kind words and smiles cost nothing--but they light candles in hearts that may need what we can freely give.

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 24:40 (KJV).

Love and blessings,

Joy to the World