Tuesday, January 30, 2007

My Unscientific Experiment

Last week, I invited my blog readers to participate in a fun experiment and order a copy of Renovating Becky Miller on January 22nd to see if we could bump the book to the top of the list for one day.

I was able to track responses from the link I posted, and fourteen copies were purchased during Jan. 22-23. THANK YOU to each of you!

The results?

Out of about 1500 contemporary Christian fiction titles at the specific online store, Renovating Becky Miller edged up into the top 60. Out of Bethany House contemporary fiction titles, it reached the top 10 briefly.

What does this mean?
Not much. :-)

I'm grateful that ANYONE wants to read my stories, and that the book made a blip - however modest - on the radar.

As promised, I will now stop checking. God will accomplish what He desires with my books. (Although I wish they made a gum like Nicorette for this "how am I doing" addiction. LOL!)

The experiment DID remind me to be very grateful for EACH person who buys a book. It also reminded me to celebrate the AMAZING other writers whose works of art fill the list. Isn't it amazing how MANY novels by Christian authors are available these days? And in a huge range of genres? Next time you need a gift idea, browse the wealth of fiction by Christian authors. Let's bump ALL their books up the charts. :-)


Friday, January 26, 2007

The Editor: A Friend in the Sandbox

Today I turned in the last of my line edits on "Restorer's Son" (the second in a series coming out from NavPress). What struck me as I worked was how much FUN it is to work with an editor. So much of a writer's work is solitary. I find myself second-guessing, uncertain whether something is working, stumped on how to solve certain problems that come up. I thrive on this interactive part of the work, where she marks the text with helpful specific improvements. "This is good, but too much of a tangent. Consider cutting?" or "The last three lines were choppy, add some transition."

It's as if I'd been sitting in a sandbox alone, building little clumsy castles - and then a friend comes along with some great shovels and buckets and offers to help.

The good news is, even not-yet-published authors can invite this sort of collaborative support. Join a critique group. Find a few trusted critique buddies - other writers who will give feedback. Invite them into your sandbox while you play.

May your castles all turn out beautiful!
Sharon Hinck

Monday, January 22, 2007

Wayne Thomas Batson - The Final Storm

It's my pleasure to welcome Wayne Thomas Batson to my blog today, as part of the Christian Sci-Fi/Fantasy Blog Tour, to talk about his writing and his smash hit young people's fantasy novels.

The Door Within
Rise of the Wyrm Lord
The Final Storm.

Hi, Wayne!
I've been keeping an eye on your books on amazon, and your numbers look impressive. Congratulations!

Wayne: Thanks, Sharon. I’ve been kind of amazed. There was a kind of lull time after the holidays in 2005 when the numbers went down the tubes. I began to worry that my “run” was over. But since the release of Rise of the Wyrm and The Final Storm, the sales numbers have gone crazy. God is faithful.

Sharon: Yes He is. The books are beautiful, too. I love that Christian publishers are giving gorgeous art and beautiful construction to some of the CSFF releases.

Wayne: My everlasting thanks to Tommy Nelson for believing in the mission and potential enough to invest so heavily in the books. The cover art is breathtaking, the packaging is unique with art on the dust jacket and on the hard cover itself, and the colored inks are a first as far as I know. Dee Ann Grand, then a VP for Tommy Nelson told me that they wanted The Door Within books to stand out on the shelves. I think they succeeded.

Sharon: I've been visiting your blog, and enjoyed following your battle to meet your latest deadline. I relate to the whole "glue yourself to the chair and work" struggle.

Wayne: Thanks for visiting, prayers, and timely comments. I was really encouraged…you know, just to read that someone out there knows what it’s like. I laughed out loud when you posted, “Get back to work. NOW.” Too cool.

Sharon: Because I'm a writer, I like to think in metaphors. What metaphor would you use to describe your writing life and why?

Wayne: A simile, maybe? In my writing life, I am most like a hawk. Hawks are sharp-eyed and constantly on the lookout for prey. I continuously look for new story ideas—whether I’m finished my current project or not! Consequently, I almost never run out of material. Time to write it all…uh, well, that’s different. Like a hawk, being a creature of nature where the next meal is never guaranteed, I write whenever I can squeeze it in. I’ve heard of writers who do 10 pages a day or even 2000 words a day. My life makes that impossible. I am a full time middle school teacher and I have four young children of my own. Spare time is, well…spare. I seize time whenever I can find it. Finally, a hawk relies on the wind, the powerful thermal breaths that carry it and allow it to glide across the miles searching…
When I’m writing, I totally need God to lift me up with His strength. I’m such a rascal. I hem and haw. I have industrial strength ADD, and I love my leisure time. For me to sustain writing momentum requires God’s strength. I met my Isle of Swords deadline by basically doubling my regular writing speed. All things are possible.

Sharon: Great image . . . especially relying on the winds. Tell me what themes especially surprised you or spoke to you in the writing of your new release, The Final Storm.

Wayne: Part of The Final Storm was cathartic for me. I went through a period where, without being conscious of it, I began to doubt God’s good intentions for me. I wondered why certain things were happening and began to despair to some degree. I began to find comfort in Job, “Though He may slay me, yet will I trust Him.” That really comes out I think in a scene where Aidan, Antoinette, and Robby are all imprisoned by the enemy. They all face a dire choice. Aidan’s decision crystallizes in true Job fashion. But that’s all I’ll say, lest I spoil it. LOL

Sharon: Yep, don't give anything away. :-) I'm sure you get some terrific mail from readers. What are some of your favorite notes or comments you've received?

Wayne: Sharon, I get lots of fun comments like “Cool books!” and “I loved the part where…” Those are all nice, but, every once in a while, I get a correspondence that knocks me over. This was one of my favorites:
“I just needed to tell you my son finished the Door Within series last night. And at our night prayer he looked over to us and said these books have changed him. He had tears in his eyes. I asked him how and he couldn't quite find the right words but he said that the path between Jesus and he has become closer. What more could a parent want from a story. And we were worried he wouldn't find anything after reading Harry Potter!! My son is named Gabriel meaning strength of God. And I know these books have played an important part of his spiritual journey. Gabe is a 9 year old boy ready for the King's army. Thank you for opening a door for Gabe to some of heaven's mysteries that his father and I could never in a million words explain.”

Sharon: Wow! How affirming and encouraging. The hard work is worth it. I know you just faced a grueling deadline and had to work hard over the holidays. What are some of your tools that help you the most when writing gets to that extra level of toughness. Chocolate? Walks? Music? Kick-boxing?

Wayne: The Setting helps me. I need a silent room with nothing to distract me. The little private tutoring room at my local Eldersburg Branch of the library is just the ticket. Four white walls, one table, one window (shades down), a chair, and an electrical outlet. ;-) Besides that, when I write, I live on Eclipse Mints, bottled water, and protein bars! LOL

Sharon: Thanks so much for stopping by, and for pouring out effort in creating works of imagination and fantasy for young readers! God's blessings on your work!

Wayne: My pleasure, Sharon. Thanks for your encouragement. Never Alone!


Speaking of "never alone" below is a list of other blogs featuring Wayne and his books sometime during the next few days. Be sure to stop by and visit some new places. And we always love comments!

Also, on a non-CSFF blog topic, if you haven't heard about my "Fun Experiment" scroll down to my earlier post about RENOVATING BECKY MILLER to read about it. There's still time to join in. :-) And if you read this AFTER January 22nd, go ahead and participate anyway, if you'd like. Check back for my report next week.

Sharon Hinck

Other Bloggers:

Jim Black
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Karri Compton
Frank Creed
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
Chris Deanne
Janey DeMeo
Tessa Edwards
April Erwin
Linda Gilmore
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Todd Michael Greene
Leathel Grody
Karen Hancock
Katie Hart
Sherrie Hibbs
Sharon Hinck
Joleen Howell
K. D. Kragen
Tina Kulesa
Lost Genre Guild
Kevin Lucia and The Bookshelf Reviews 2.0 - The Compendium
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Caleb Newell
Eve Nielsen
John Otte
Robin Parrish
Cheryl Russel
Hannah Sandvig
Mirtika Schultz
James Somers
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Daniel I. Weaver

Thursday, January 18, 2007

My Fun Experiment


Because I'm a neurotic writer, I'm tempted to obsess over sales rankings on online bookstores. For the release of this second book, I want to see if we can coordinate our efforts and bump RENOVATING BECKY MILLER to the top of the charts for a day at Christian Book Distributors (a large online Christian book store).

I know that sounds like I'm encouraging my obsession, but actually, I'm limiting it, by targeting ONE DAY to stir up lots of excitement for RENOVATING BECKY MILLER. (Or at least that's how I'm rationalizing this experiment - LOL!)

If you are planning to buy a copy of the book from an online store, please consider ordering online at the link posted below on JANUARY 22, 2007. You'll receive a discounted price, and join other Book Buddies all ordering on the same date. Your copy will be mailed directly to you. Next week I'll report what happens! Don't forget to order a copy or two for friends - especially anyone you know involved in remodeling, moving, or feeling the sandwich squeeze of caring for both children and aging parents. Or anyone who needs a chuckle and a fast-paced story with a wealth of encouragement.

Thank you so much for trying this fun experiment with me. And if you already pre-ordered, that's marvelous, too.

Order Sharon's Books Here:

Sharon's page at CBD - all books

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Collected Blessings

I have a rock collection. Some are shiny quartz or polished agates. Some are just interesting pebbles I've picked up on hikes or along lake shores. I love to hold them in my hands and admire the colors and patterns and shapes.

Today I'm doing the same with some blessings I've collected in the past weeks. As I hold them in my hand and look at them again, their beauty sings to me.

1. Just before Christmas, a group of women in a state far, far away, sent me a surprise gift. They had been praying for me and quilting. And while they tied the knots in the quilt, they prayed over me. Me! A woman they've never met. A friend had told them, "I know a writer who is battling some chronic health problems and feels discouraged." That's all they needed. They prayed. Then they sent me the quilt. I bawled when I wrapped the fabric around my shoulders and prayed. "Lord, forgive me for thinking you weren't noticing. Thank you for seeing my pain and sending love my way."

2. I was working on my monthly e-zine, but feeling weary. I want to communicate with readers on a regular basis. I love my Book Buddies. (By the way, if you want to subscribe, just visit the Contact Sharon page of my website and insert your email. I send out a devotional thought, prayer requests, prayers, and some "inside scoop" about the writing life and upcoming events on the fifteenth of each month). But according to my mailing program, only about fifty per cent of the e-zines are even opened. My days are so full of work, I struggled as I worked on articles for the coming issue. Monday I asked, "Lord, does anyone even care? As I pare down my activities is this one I should continue?" That night several people approached me at a meeting to specifically say that they looked forward to my e-zine each month. They didn't know the doubts and the questions I'd been wrestling with. But God did. He answered me.

3. I'm wrestling with rewrites on my third Restorer book. I continue to confront my longing to be a better writer than I am. "Lord, don't you realize there are lots of people better at this? Are you sure you want me doing this?" In the past few days, He's sent a flurry of emails from readers who had no idea that I was confronting these doubts. Warm, kind women taking the time to write and tell me that my first novel meant something to them. Writing email prayers of blessing on my work. The timing startled me. I often ask God questions and strain to hear an answer for months. This time, in the speed it took to click open my emails, He gave me tender reassurance.

I wish I had the kind of strength to sail forward without needing reassurance. But the truth is, I'm often timid, confused, and bewildered by the things God is calling me toward. For some reason I expect Him to be a drill sergeant and bark at me to "toughen up" and "get with the program." Instead, He scoops me up and gently whispers, "I understand. I'm with you. Trust me."

If you scoop your hand into your box of agates--the experiences you've collected in the past few weeks--are there some that sparkle with particular beauty? Hold them in your palm and savor them. And post a comment to tell me about them, so I can admire them, too.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Balance in the Writing Life

Sometimes the writing life is so full of discouragement and frustration, I'm desperate for a good laugh. What a blessing when one comes along!

Monday night I was at Minnesota Writers Guild and telling a friend about how I sometimes sit on an exercise ball to write. Another gal asked if the height worked, and I explained that even though the balance ball is a little lower than a normal chair, my keyboard is on an adjustable tray, so I can lower it while I type.

"In fact, I can even raise the tray all the way up and stand to type, and I do that sometimes to relieve pressure on my back."

The woman wrinkled her forward. "Don't you have trouble balancing?"

I admit I may LOOK a little unbalanced, but I was confused about why she thought it was difficult to stand and type.

"Doesn't the ball roll out from under you?" she asked.

Then I caught on. She thought I meant that I typed while standing ON THE BALANCE BALL. We all shared some terrific giggles, and when we sat down to listen to the evening's speaker, one of the gals in our row drew the sketch I'm posting here.

Gives new meaning to "Balance" in a writer's life. :-)

I hope God sends you some great giggles today. And if your tasks seem hard, just picture yourself doing them while standing on a ball.


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Christmas Letters - Redux

Last week I blogged about how much I enjoy reading Christmas letters, because of what they express about the universal human condition, and God's gentle hand at work in our lives.

Our family does something else with Christmas letters and cards.

We keep them in a basket by our dining room table all year.

Each night after supper (at least the nights that everyone is home at the same time and we actually eat together) we pull a letter or card from the basket. We read it, pass around the photo if there is one, and then spend time praying for that person or family.

We get to enjoy the letters and cards and friendships throughout the year, and support our friends and family members through prayer in some semi-organized kind of way.

Anyone else do interesting things with Christmas cards and letters? Let me know!

Sharon Hinck

The Secret Life of Becky Miller (Bethany House, 6/2006)
Renovating Becky Miller (Bethany House, 2/2007)

Order Sharon's Books Here:

Sharon's page at CBD - all books

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Early Influences

For Christmas, my kids got me the DVDs of the first season of the original Mission Impossible television series. What a thrill to see Martin Landau and Barabara Bain again as their convoluted schemes trick the bad guys!

I was watching an episode where they infiltrated a fake American town behind the Iron Curtain, where communist agents were trained to act American, and my eldest daughter said, "That's just like an episode of Alias." And the prison escape episodes could have inspired Prison Break, and plenty of scenes in other episodes reminded me of 24.

It reminded me of how all authors (of books, screenplays, or stories in all forms) stand on the shoulders of the writers who came before us - even when it comes to commercial fiction.

It also reminded me of my early influences. Mission Impossible and Man from U.N.C.L.E. inspired a passion to become a secret agent, even when my sixth grade teacher suggested I read "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold" in an effort to dissuade me.

My life took a different turn (at least as far as I'm allowed to say. Heheheh)but I'm sure there are subtle and subconscious ways my early influences affect my approach to storytelling.

What were some of your childhood passions? Do you see glimmers of those early influences in your life today?


I'm working on my Book Buddy e-zine for January. I send out my free e-zine on the 15th of each month. If you don't already receive it (it's not the same as the Feedblitz subscription for my blog) feel free to go to


Enter your name and email, and you'll be subscribed as a Book Buddy.
In the past several months, Book Buddy's have won all kinds of free goodies, shared ideas, gotten a virtual tour of a book press, received special invitations, and been cherished and prayed for by me. It's a special group, but there is always room for you!

Sharon Hinck

The Secret Life of Becky Miller (Bethany House, 6/2006)
Renovating Becky Miller (Bethany House, 2/2007)

Order Discounted Copies Here:

Sharon's page at CBD - all books