Vanessa’s Character Picks November 23, 2014

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What to Do about the “Us vs. Them” in Publishing!

Over the past few weeks I’ve seen some interesting articles talking about the “Us vs. Them” battle lines being drawn between indie authors and traditional publishing. Though I have recently been known to tout the benefits of indie (both as author and as reader) I do not believe one is better than the other—just different. As an author, one can decide which approach fits their writing and publishing style. As a reader, the existence of new author opportunities broadens the consumer’s selection from which to choose.

I like this new breadth!

The Difference

I have recently written articles on the benefits of indie books. I’m not meaning to say that these are altogether better books, but have attributes the traditional houses cannot duplicate, such as writing for niches the traditional houses won’t accept at present, and–let’s face it–price tag. As an indie, it makes sense to tout these things. That’s just marketing. It doesn’t mean the other guys are BAD. It means we have something to offer our particular target audience. If the reader is not looking for that “something” (and some are not) they are free to buy the other books. It’s like in Dan Barlow’s computer example (see blog article)—creatives got the Mac and accountants got the PC. I’ve tended toward indie reading myself only because I relate more to novels about Christians clashing in very secular worlds. I’ve found more stories like where I live in indie works, than what I had been finding in traditional Christian publishing lately. There are some. Just not as much as my reading schedule requires :).

Many reading this may think I defend indie publishing because I am an indie author. That is not true. It is mostly as a reader that I defend it. I’ve followed a number of authors who were once traditionally published who decided to indie pub because the story of their heart was said to be “not marketable.” Then, I read the story of their hearts—Wow! It was like watching a star being birthed. That’s when I finally got it.

Why the Division

So let’s talk about the “Us vs. them” and where it comes from. In order to remove it, one needs to understand its origin. It is a two-headed beast! Many indies have chosen this route not because we didn’t want to work harder to hone our craft so that we could be noticed by the industry. In fact, we have to work pretty hard to overcome the industry obstacles in order to be seen by readers. Many have chosen this route because they are writing to a niche not covered by the traditional houses—ones begging to be reached (and even ministered to). However, some within the traditional publishing world still sneer at books uploaded to Amazon by individuals as though they must be of lesser quality. And yet much of that work is standing head-to-head on Amazon bestseller lists with that produced by the traditional houses. Really! Go check the lists now. The indies I know realize the only way to sell books is to produce a quality product that readers want.

So, what do we do when we see the sneer? We respond. Sometimes among our friends, we vent—it’s human (we are sinners just like everyone else). Sometimes on blogs, we choose to correct misperceptions. This is not only to defend ourselves and our work, but it is also meant to inform authors of the greater breadth of options in an ever-changing (and traditionally contracting) publishing world. I can’t speak for all indies, but the vast majority of us do not have an “us vs. them” mentality. Though many feel it is the best choice for them, they have no problems with others choosing a different path. However, we are continually reminded that others in the industry look down on us. Maybe we should turn the other cheek … but that would leave a lot of untruths on the table that need to be corrected.

Moving Forward

I, personally, want everyone in the Christian publishing industry to succeed—publishers, editors, agents, authors. This is an important ministry—from books meant solely to entertain Christian readers with works written from a biblical point of view, to those meant to inspire and encourage us to grow in our spiritual walk with Christ. My heart aches when I hear about wonderful, and talented, people losing their jobs, or professionals scrambling to face the challenges. We indies know what it’s like to scramble, and the really great thing is that we are willing to help all involved find a new place in this economy as it evolves.

Whether we like it or not, it is changing. That will require adaptability from everyone. Professionals in the industry should not believe they can do things as they always have and make it work. I don’t say these things as a threat or chide. I am concerned for the wonderful people who have been the source of the reading material I’ve loved, and needed, over the years. I want them to succeed, but the old model will not allow them to do so for long. Rather than lament the loss of old days, one should be looking at what the future holds. Opportunity! However, everyone will need to retool to some degree in order to grasp it.


Publishers should pass on the savings of ebook production, storage and dissemination to the public, and give authors a greater cut. This is not a new idea. Many industries have passed on savings garnered from low-cost technology to their consumers. Look at video players (remember Beta at hundreds of dollars?), to long-distance phone bills (that once touted a “cheap” 25 cents per minute), and let’s not forget computers and laptops (remember what you paid for that clunky machine with the black and white screen?) Why not pass on the savings, which it is shown will increase sales? Those who used to make trips to libraries and second-hand book stores, or loan books among friends and family (which took in ZERO dollars for publishers and authors), now find it much more convenient to download cheap books to their ereader devices. Take advantage of that shift! Publishing houses can also look for innovative ways to upgrade the tablet reading experience (ie. multi-media technology). They are in the unique position to invest in new ideas here. Agents can help in indie distribution to Christian retailers. This is most important in the Christian publishing world which requires an extra gatekeeping role due to biblical content. Editors will be needed more than ever! With more books produced and more indie authors working to provide a polished product, there is a lot of opportunity out there.

Working Together

We will need to help each other through this time!!! If you are part of indie author groups, you will see that helping each other is exactly what we are doing there! … At least after we’ve grumbled a bit about not getting R-E-S-P-E-C-T (see Z-snap, here).

So what is the answer to the “Us vs. Them” problem? It can be found in the words of Jesus (Love your neighbor as yourself), or the ideas of Paul (Different parts of the Body of Christ). However, we can begin by consulting the works of Aretha Franklin. (Sorry, couldn’t resist that last line)

Other posts you might like:

To Build a Better Bookstore

A New Website for Readers Looking for Great Christian Fiction

Categories: Agent/Publisher Info, General, Independent Publishing, It's Complicated, Musings, On My Mind, Self Publising, Technology, Writing Tips | Leave a comment

Vanessa’s Character Picks November 20, 2014

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A Special Note to My Readers

Searching for Treasure is the third book in my Second Chance Love series. I had originally planned to have it published in late fall 2014, which is passing much too quickly for my liking. As I work on this book, I’m finding many wrinkles that need to be ironed out before it will be ready for publication. Such is the case when a plot becomes a bit more complicated than I’d expected. I’ve wrestled with this, thinking that if I try really hard, it can be finished before Christmas, but here it is almost Thanksgiving, and although the initial writing may be done by then, the editing process will take longer.

I write for you, my readers, and failing to complete a story when expected is a great disappointment to me. All I can say is how very sorry I am to have to miss this deadline, and can only hope you will understand. I greatly appreciate everyone who reads my books and enjoys them. That’s why they are published. So you will not only enjoy the reading but also gain something worthwhile for your time spent. Here is a sneak preview of the cover for Searching for Treasure.1-3-Searching for Treasure blog

I apologize for any inconvenience and hope to have Searching for Treasure ready for you in the next few months. I will try to give occasional  updates of the book’s progress on my FaceBook author page here.

May God bless you richly,

Mildred Colvin

Categories: Announcements, On My Mind | 2 Comments

VBS Summer 2014

VBS Summer 2014


I had the privilege of teaching VBS this last year at my church. Working with kids is something I know about since I was a teacher for 34 years. Each day, the children learned about Jesus through a Bible lesson. One day, I asked these fifth graders a question that, I believe, made them think.


“Do you believe the stories in the Bible are true? If not, what advantage is there in being a Christian and following God’s laws?” Most of them just sat at their desks staring at me. Some probably wondered what I was talking about.


I actually asked myself that same question earlier that morning when I was getting ready to go to VBS. How do we really know the truth? I heard an answer as plain as day.


The first step is to determine whether we believe in God. Do you really believe God exists? All nature speaks of him, from lofty trees to majestic mountains, to intricately designed flowers, to aerodynamic birds. In my heart, I can’t believe that He doesn’t exist.


Once you’ve determined you truly believe in a divine power, then the rest falls into place. The Bible tells the story of this eternal God.


I’m not sure exactly how many students absorbed this message, but I have a feeling most did.


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Like My Mother?

Loni arranged the desserts on the table in the church basement to make room for more then stepped back when Sue stopped beside her and added a pie to the offerings. “I didn’t expect to see you here tonight.”

Loni gave her a sharp look. “Why not? I couldn’t miss one of our church suppers. Especially not when this may be the last time I’ll see the Raylands. New Mexico is a long way from here.”

“True, and they’re moving tomorrow. But someone told me you spent the morning cleaning Monica’s house and the afternoon sitting with Mrs. Cole while her daughter got some rest.” Sue sliced her pie then pointed toward a two-layer chocolate frosted cake with chocolate shavings decorating the top. “When did you have time to bake that scrumptious looking cake?”

Loni laughed and waved Sue’s words away. “I knew I’d be busy today so I baked it yesterday. I don’t get to help others as often as I should. I just happened to have time today, and received more blessing than I—”

“Loni, I’m so glad to see you here tonight.” Mrs. Connell stopped at the table and rested against her walker. She looked into Loni’s eyes. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think it was your mother standing there. You’re looking more like her every day.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Connell.” Loni watched the older woman shuffle away and shook her head. “Please, tell me she didn’t say that.”

Sue giggled, her eyes dancing. “Why? Your mother was a beautiful woman.”

Loni stared into Sue’s eyes and saw sincerity. But Sue hadn’t known Loni’s mother well enough to understand the beauty she displayed was only skin deep. In private her actions outweighed her appearance. Criticism, selfishness, and harsh words all hurt as much as physical pain. Only Mom never hit. Her tongue was much more effective. More times than Loni could count, she’d been the victim of Mom’s sharp whisper only to watch her turn in a split second to someone else with a sweet smile on her face. No, she’d rather be ugly than to look like her mother.

Sue touched Loni’s arm, her gaze serious now. “What is it? You don’t believe your mother was beautiful, do you?”

“I’m sure she had her reasons.” Loni looked down. “But there’s more to a person than what meets the eye.”

“Ah, I understand more than you know.” Sue tugged Loni into the Sunday school room behind them and closed the door against the noise and confusion in the fellowship hall. “You don’t have to prove anything, you know.”

Loni sat at a low table in a chair made for a child and looked up at Sue with a smile. “My feet hurt, and you’ve lost me. Prove what? How?”

Sue folded her arms and leaned against the door. “By constantly doing for others. Remember, I’ve been married to your brother a long time. I know how your mother treated you both and your dad. You’re so afraid you’ll be like your mother that you’ve substituted good deeds for the need to forgive. Have you ever tried to forgive her?”

Loni bowed her head as she choked back tears. “I’m just like my mom, aren’t I?”

Sue knelt beside her sister-in-law and grasped her hand. “Of course, you aren’t. You are kind and sweet like your dad. You care about everyone and spend your time showing them how much.”

Loni squeezed Sue’s hand. “But I never thought about forgiving her. I’ve been wrong all along holding a grudge and doing good deeds to prove I’m not like my mother, which makes me just as wrong as she was. Will you pray with me?”

“Of course, I will.” Sue looked into Loni’s eyes. “But remember what Pastor Smith said last Sunday? We must not only forgive, but we need to forget as well. And the only way we can forget is if we give up the hurt done to us. Let’s pray that God will heal the emotional pain your mother inflicted on you from her behavior. Then you will be able to forgive, forget, and continue helping others as you love to do without thinking you have an ulterior motive. Because, truly, Loni, you are a beautiful person inside and out.”

Two Lonely Hearts Blog

Historical Christian Romance


Forgiveness may well be one of the hardest things God asks of us, yet think of all He has forgiven each of us. Try forgiving someone today and see how much better you feel.

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but consider not the beam that is in thy own eye?” Matthew 7:3

Categories: Devotionals, Musings, On My Mind | Leave a comment

Vanessa’s Character Picks November 9, 2014

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Nadine Brandes Talks about “A Time to Die”

Nadine Brandes - Head ShotI e-met my next guest, Nadine Brandes, as a newbie writer on the ACFW Critique Loop. I loved her writing so much, not to mention the suggestions she had for mine, I begged her to join my first critique group. She’s been on this blog before, telling us about her editorial services—which I’ve gratefully used—but today, she is here to promote her debut novel, A Time to Die.

Nadine, so good to have you here talking about your book. To start us off, tell us three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.

I play drums for my church…


I don’t like romance novels…

Gasp!!! <says Connie the romance author> You know I still love you <wink>.

and I was once a sea cook for a week. [grin]

I can see you with the cute little hat now. <grin back>

As a child or teenager, did you ever dream of being an author?

No. I always thought I wanted to be a school-teacher, but I dreamed about someday just sitting and writing and creating. For some reason, I never connected writing the stories in my head to being an author. It wasn’t until I went to a writer’s conference with a friend that I found my true dream of writing for life. :D

Wow, and you’re so gifted at it, too.

What is your favorite genre to read?

Speculative fiction, easily. But I’m very picky about it. I don’t read too much sci-fi, I’m more on the fantasy side of things and I love virtual reality books. After speculative fiction, you’d probably find me immersed in non-fiction theology books.

Oh, my!

Share something about your day-to-day life that might help a reader to feel as though they know you a little better.

My two constants every morning before I can possibly expect my brain to function, is to make a cup of Yorkshire tea (three sugars and a dash of milk, if you please) and to play my piano while waiting for the water to boil. More and more, I’ve come to believe that music is one of God’s ways of watering the imagination.

Amen, sistah!!!

What are you working on right now?

Book two in my Out of Time Trilogy. It’s due the moment I finish it and will hopefully release next fall. Hurray!

You mean I have to wait a whole year?—sigh! Okay, I’ll be patient.

In three words describe your style of writing.

Metaphor. Metaphor. Metaphor.

That’s…um…really the same word <grin>.

Okay, kidding, but I’ve been told there are a lot of metaphors in my writing. I can’t help myself! Here we go: metaphorical, authentic, clippy. (I made that last one up. Interpret how you will. [grin] )

What are your favorite themes to write about?

Pursuing life instead of letting it pass by (aka. Living intentionally). Also, I try to incorporate the concept of shalom into everything, which means the way things God intended them to be. That is connected to our purpose in life.

Oh, yes!

Is there any scene in your book thaATimetoDieCovt came from a real-life happening?

Well, this is how I see it. I think, “Oh, my character needs to learn to walk a tightrope,” so then I go find a tightrope and give it a try. One way or another pretty much everything is drawn from real life. I think that’s one reason I love going on adventures and traveling — everything is story material!

I’m thinking with that in mind, my characters would never learn to walk a tightrope—eek!

What would you be doing if you weren’t writing—besides walking tightropes, that is?

Editing. That’s what I already do. And if I wasn’t editing, I’d probably try to get a job in acquisitions with a publishing house. Something regarded to writing. It’s what I was made to do. BUT, if I had to pick something other than writing, then I’d just focus on being a stay-at-home mom (when I have kids) and drawing.

Your kids will be very lucky to have such an artsy-creative mom.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Go to a writer’s conference! That’s advice part one. There is nothing—no book, no writing partner, no online class—that can compare with what you’ll learn at a writer’s conference.

Advice part two: don’t use writing as an escape. Instead, go experience life and then pour that into your writing instead of using writing to fill your life. I hope that makes sense. Creating should inspire us to live! Not replace our lives.

Great advice, Nadine. Thanks for stopping by today.

Readers, if you’d like to enter for a chance to win a copy of A Time to Die, check out the Goodreads giveaway…

A Time to Die

How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?

Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system.

But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her clock is running out.


Nadine Brandes writes stories about authentic faith, bold living, and worlds soaked in imagination. She lives in Idaho with her husband and works as a freelance editor. When she’s not writing, editing, or taste-testing a new chai, she is out pursuing adventures. A Time to Die is her first novel.

Social Media Links:

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Other posts you might like:

Nadine Brandes’ Editorial Services

Heather Day Gilbert Interviews Thomas Spencer

Categories: Author Interviews, Book Launch, Current Books, Dystopian, Fiction, Guest Author, Heroine, Speculative, Suspense, Teen, Writing Tips, Young Adult | Comments Off

Vanessa’s Character Picks November 6, 2014

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Vanessa’s Character Picks November 2, 2014

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