Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year's Advice Heard From an Elder

1) Watch who gets into your boat. Jesus got into Peter's boat and filled it with fish.
     Jonah got on a boat and almost sank it.

2) God will not allow you to hang on to two worlds. You've got to burn your plow.
     It's God's responsibility to send people to take you to the next level. It's your
     responsibility to burn your plow.

3) As a true friend we must warn those who've gone astray. Once we warn them,
     it's up to them to turn back.

4) We're in an all out war against our flesh giving in to the spirit of disobedience    
      that's at work in the world today. That's why the Bible talks about "weapons" of                  
      our warfare. Best be learning what they are and how to use them in 2012. Here are a few of them: the Word of God, written or whispered in our ears; the blood of Jesus; gifts of the Spirit, and fruit of the Spirit, especially love, joy and peace. Hint: anything from God can always blast to bits anything from the enemy.

Have a happy, blessed, victorious New Year!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Creating a hero tips

In a recent post Mary Lu Tyndale shared some great tips on creating a hero. Here
they are:
1) Pray and decide on a theme for the book, some moral lesson you want to express through the story. Make it a great take away--forgiveness, redemption, destiny, loving others, humility.
2) Choose a personality for your hero. You can use the many personality charts
3) Give him a backstory. Write his history. Interview him.
4) Create a character arc and a spiritual arc for him. How does he grow? What does he learn? How do you get him from A to B?
5) Look for a picture of the man you've created and keep it close by as you write.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving and a great time creating a hero!
Elva Martin

Monday, August 15, 2011

Plotting Tips Part 1

Get a cuppa tea (or your favorite beverage) and let's talk some more about writing while
sitting in the shade on this lovely Unpubbed Island. Here's a cup for you and a photo of our setting.

Now, comfy?  Let's chat about plotting. Are you a seat-of-the pants writer or do you like to plan and outline? I'm more of a planner. I like to know pretty much where I am going before starting out. Two folks have been a good help to me in finding a good plan for plotting my wip (work in progress).  Randy Ingermanson has his great Snowflake method many find useful, including me. You can find out about it at I also like Cheryl Wyatt's "Plotstorming" idea, one of many great articles recorded in Seekerville's "The Unpublished Author's Boot Camp Manual".  You can go to the manual by googling Click on the button at top
"Writer's Resources." See article and click on "The Unpubbed Author's Boot Camp Manual for 2011". This manual has a ton of information and easy click on articles covering every aspect of writing and getting published. In my next blog I will share some helpful things I've learned and am using from this manual.
Be blessed today and keep writing, planning and plotting. Don't get carried away by the sand, sea and blue sky on Unpubbed Island. It's a place we need to vacate!   Elva Cobb Martin

Saturday, March 26, 2011

What Should You Take to Editor/Agent Appointments?

Years ago, as a first time conference attendee, I took a fiction book proposal of 30+ pages for about six editors. That proposal, which I had spent blood, sweat, toil and tears on, weighted down my suitcase all the way to the conference--and all the way back home. I learned in those 15-minute appointments that editors don't want a full proposal, at least not from new writers, at a conference appointment. But what do they want?

That's not saying we may ever know what ALL of them prefer, but I do know what some want, especially those who came to our great March Carolina Christian Writers' Workshop in Anderson, SC, which I directed. Just maybe your targeted editors would like the same or similar. So sit down with some chocolate and a cup of tea for a moment or two. Something here may inspire, instruct or maybe, surprise you.

Abingdon Press Fiction Editor Ramona Richards (quoted)
"I'd like to see a business card (free ones are available from; inexpensive ones from and for each author to have their elevator pitch memorized and polished. They should be prepared to answer questions about their protagonist, antagonist, various plot elements--and themselves. Authors can bring anything along they want to help them, but I'll only be accepting business cards."

Acquisitions Editor Rick Steele, AMG Publishing 
Rick told me on the phone that he would like to see a writing sample - an outline, or a synopsis, or a chapter by chapter outline/synopsis and a brief marketing comparison of current books on the market similar to yours and how yours will be different. He also likes to hear 50-word pitches and he sent me his submission guidelines for queries and full proposals to share which you can get by googling AMG Publishing. He prefers
queries before a full proposal on non-fiction or fiction.
Literary Agent Tamela Hancock Murray (quoted)
"An elevator pitch, a one-sheet, a synopsis, the first page, a chapter, a business card and brief bio are all great, especially if the author has only one project. I recommend a one-sheet for each project, or if its a series, then a paragraph devoted to each book in the series on the one sheet. I am happy with the author's bio and pic on the one-sheet. I don't need that and a business card if the author doesn't have them."

For those who might need to know, a One-Sheet contains: a photo of author with name and contact info, a blurb of the book project(s). If you have room, you can add: possible endorsers, a brief list of comparable books, a relevant illustration, a small bio. You  can google One Sheets for examples. Kaye Dacus has a
good example on the net, too.

Did you notice how many times the word "pitch" came up above?

Here is a tip from Robin Perini, quoted a while back by Treble Books Publisher, Lee Emory, that has helped me. Robin relates pitches for fiction to the story question.

(Your Protagonist)________________MUST_________________(Critical

Plot Goal) BY___________________(Conflict with the Antagonist, etc.),

ONLY TO REALIZE_______________________(What the character learns about life that helps him change his goal during the journey of the book)

Here is an example Robin gave: Jacob Marshall must avenge his father's honor by implicating Serena Jones' father, only to realize revenge often hurts the innocent.

Here is what I finally wrote (and keep writing) for my Christian romance, Charleston Nanny

Rachel an orphaned college girl, determines to unearth the facts about her brother's death by going to Charleston as a nanny on a tea plantation, only to discover that the truth may destroy her new found love and could cost her life.

Hope this blog has been some help!  Keep on studying to show yourself approved and keep on WRITING.
We will get off unpubbed island!    Blessings, Elva

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Five Techniques for Showing vs. Telling

I have discovered wonderful help for showing vs. telling shared by Randy Ingermanson.
Today, I want to share it with you! 
Here are the five techniques to use and I've used them. They work! Thanks, Randy!

1)  Action - Anything your chracters do, shown in real-time.
                 Example:  Jake swung the bat into the kidnapper's head.

2) Dialogue - Anything your characters say, shown in quote marks.
                      Example: "Take that, you scurvy dog!"

3) Interior Monologue - Anything your characters think, whether a verbatim record of the thought or a   mere statement of it.  Verbatim thoughts, Randy says, are often shown in italics.
But indirect thoughts are not.

      Examples:  "And if you ever touch my daughter again, you're dead."
                 What were these idiots thinking, to mess with the daughter of a Navy Seal?

4) Interior Emotion - Anything your characters feel. This is best done by showing direct physiological
          reactions which can be directly interpreted as emotions. 
        Example:  Another rush of adrenaline boiled up in Jake's stomach.

5) Description - Anything your characters can see, hear, smell, taste or touch.
         Examples: Two gunshots rang in quick succession.
                         Cold air rushed over Jake like a river.
                         He smelled gunpowder so strong he could taste it.
                         The small red dot of a lazer aiming device raced across the floor
                          toward his feet.

Go and use this stuff!  Elva Cobb Martin