Writing Tip and Prompt: 11/30/2012

On Fridays we like to share writing tips and tricks with our readers. We hope this section will encourage and inspire you to continually improve as a writer.

Tip – Educate Yourself

Writers sometimes overlook the importance of being knowledgeable on many different topics. Your characters are not all going to have the same interests as you. They will be unique people with their own hobbies, scholarly backgrounds and upbringing. As you are developing your characters, do some research on Wikipedia or another encyclopedic source. Pick something you know nothing about and learn about it. This will help you create deeper more meaningful characters.

Prompt – Embrace Rewriting

During the editing process, writers sometimes get locked into the text they have already written even if there is a better way to express the ideas on the page.  This week, take the opportunity to take what you have already written, or something new, and completely rewrite it.  You will want to keep the same meaning of the text, but use different words and sentence structure to accomplish what the previous text did.  This exercise will help keep your mind limber and open to the opportunity that some rewrites may offer your work.

Insight from J.L. Robb, Author of The End: The Book

Who is J.L. Robb?

J.L. Robb is a husband, father and grandfather. He served four years as a U.S. Navy Corps man during the Vietnam Conflict, graduated with a B.S in Zoology from N.C. State University and is the President of the Duluth Civitan Club. He currently lives in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.

The Book of Revelations was one of the first things J.L. Robb read because it was scary and he liked that. Robb has maintained a thirst for insights concerning the predictions about how the world would one day end, based on the Biblical version of the story.

Robb has had his story inside him since he was young, and he was always hearing the message, “Write a book! Write a book!” Even Robb’s friends kept telling him to write a book, but he waited until he was 63 to do so.

What did J.L. Robb write?

Robb is the author of The End: The Book series. It is an edge-of-the-seat thriller and love story, aimed primarily at the unbeliever. The End: The Book is a seven-book series, and so far Robb has completed two books and is working on the third. The End: The Book is Biblically based and is essentially a story of what will happen when Islamic terrorism meets the Bible Belt.

Why did J.L. Robb publish with WestBow Press?

When looking for a publisher for his book, Robb chose WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson. Throughout the publishing process, WestBow Press did a great job of helping Robb with his first book. WestBow Press made Robb feel comfortable by never tiring of his infinite questions and by being available to answer his questions at any time.

He was so pleased with WestBow Press that he used them for the first two books, and will use it for the rest of the series. He recommends WestBow Press to his friends and family and he even considers WestBow Press to be part of his family.

How does J.L. Robb market and promote his book?

Since J.L. Robb does not have a large publishing company spending thousands of dollars on marketing his book, he needs to come up with cost-effective ways to do it himself. One thing he does is make use of the phenomenon known as social media because it is a great way to reach out to your audience and it’s free. Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter and Youtube are just a few of the platforms social media provides.

Robb also puts his book’s logo on as many things as possible. He suggests making bookmarks because they are inexpensive and you can leave them all over; he likes to take his to restaurants and leave them on the table. He also has shirts, hats and water bottles with The End: The Book’s logo on it.

When promoting your book at a location, Robb suggests a coffee shop instead of bookstores because bookstores already have several books and it becomes a competition. If you’d prefer to promote at a bookstore, Robb finds that independent bookstores, family-owned bookstores, used bookstores and small Christian stores offer more for a self-published author.


If you are interested in starting your self-publishing journey with WestBow Press, call a WestBow Press representative today at 866.928.1240.

Special Delivery for the Holidays!

A great book makes for a great gift. WestBow Press recommends a handful of great reads for the book-lover in your life.

The Creche, by Larry Forcey

Summary (fiction): A fiery preacher tried, convicted and burned at the stake. An elderly monk questioned and scoffed by a papal delegation. A father, in the outskirts of Paris, tormented with the decision to protect his family or to follow Christ’s teaching of “turning the other cheek.” An abused wife leaves her husband, embarking on the unknown to protect her seven-year-old daughter. An eleven-year-old boy despairs to find answers to the injustices and evil he discovers in his world.

The Amazing Adventures of Phineas Screwdriver, by JM Fee

Summary (juvenile fiction): In a mysterious factory the world has seemingly forgotten, there lives a little robot. Armed with nothing more than his incredible imagination and overwhelming sense of adventure, Phineas and his imaginary friends set off to have the best adventure of their lives.

Where the Pink Houses Are, by Rebekah Ruth

Summary (fiction): When unthinkable tragedy strikes, will Brenna and her mother-in-law, Anna, find healing half a world away amid the green Irish hills? Brenna begins to think she may be able to build a new life in a new land when Anna’s eccentric family welcomes her with open arms. But it is in the arm Luke Dillon, the town heartbreaker, that she begins to wonder if she can truly fall in love again.

Cheap Love, by Carrie Starr and Erv Starr

Summary (family and relationships): Vulnerable, frank, witty and wise.  This is the story of best friends from college who spent their honeymoon in a borrowed tent and, with a deliberate focus on establishing a lasting romance while pursuing financial responsibility, they were able to celebrate their tenth anniversary on an Alaskan cruise. Lovers of simple pleasure, unexpected adventures, spoiling others and following Jesus, Carrie and Erv share their struggles and success with transparency and grace. This couple draws you in and inspires you to follow their example.

The God Who Gave Christmas, by Lynda Koile

Summary (Religion/spirituality): The personhood of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit is simply and colorfully conveyed to children and adults alike. From Creation to Christmas, Easter to Pentecost, we get a glimpse into God’s loving heart and His desire to interact with the people He created. The God Who Gave Christmas inspires children and adults to worship Jesus in a childlike and joyful manner.

Thirteen Months, by Don Brobst

Summary (biography/autobiography) In a society where love has been tainted and marriage destroyed by the ways of this world, Thirteen Months is the depiction of the ultimate love between a man and a woman. In the face of the unspeakable tragedy, every aspect of one couple’s adventures, both past and present, has forged the bond between them that will carry them into the center of God’s plan. As a physician finding himself in the heart-wrenching position of being totally and utterly helpless to save the love of his life, Don has no power to overcome this foe, save for his faith in God and the power of prayer.

A romantic and deeply touching story, Thirteen Months seeks to inspire on every level. It reaches out not only to those finding themselves fighting for their lives, but for couples everywhere who desire more in their marriages and who need to see the fullness of love and depth of romance God desires for them.

Lady and the Sea, by Sharon Leaf

Summary (fiction): After two failed marriages, Rosie Atkisson, 48, struggles through the process of rebuilding her life with Jesse, her husband, in Southern California. In 1994, the settled rhythm of her newfound comfort is interrupted by a tug in her heart when she encounters a haunting photo of another aging lady: the World War II vessel MS Restoration.

Twelve Weeks of Giving, by Kathy Pennigar

Summary (Religion/inspirational): Giving in itself is a gift. Twelve Weeks of Giving is about a business whose office staff went out into the community and blessed other people through giving. Each week a name was drawn and that person was given money to bless others. There were 12 people with 12 different ideas and spheres of influence.

Twelve Weeks of Giving was inspired by an evangelist’s sermon from Life Action Ministries during revival services and written to inspire other businesses and individuals to go out into their communities and help those who are less fortunate. Church groups, businesses and individuals can use the examples shared in this book to start their own giving projects.

I Choose to Forgive, by Dianne B. Collard

Summary (Religion/inspirational): One person’s story, every person’s struggle, God’s Solution. We live in a fallen world where offenses and serious grievances occur in every person’s life. These painful situations, whether a slight offense or a serious offense, demand that all of us face the question, “Does God expect me to forgive?” The answer is clear. The choice is ours to obey. The power to do so comes from God alone.

I Choose to Forgive is a heartbreaking journey from devastation to freedom and presents a strong biblical foundation undergirding the practical steps of doing forgiveness.

Walk: A Memoir, by Randy Krulish

Summary (biography/autobiography): A journey through life as seen through the eyes of a frightened twelve-year-old boy. After suffering a broken neck in a horrific accident, Randy Krulish explains how God and family provide him with the necessary strength to endure his now unexpected life as a paralyzed boy. Even though these newfound struggles are nearly more than he can cope with, Randy finds the inner peace to overcome them. Discover how his life was changed forever; it may change yours as well.


To receive your book order by Christmas, keep the following order dates in mind:

December 3: Paperback and hardcover color books
December 7: Hardcover black-and-white books
December 10: Paperback black-and-white books


Don’t forget to check out WestBowPress alumnae authors and their titles:  The Reason, by William Sirls (Thomas Nelson), Call of a Coward, by Marcia Moston (Thomas Nelson), Three Cups, by Tony Townsley and Mark St. Germain (Thomas Nelson) and Perfectly Unique, by Annie Downs (Zondervan).

Writing Tip and Prompt: 11/23/2012

On Fridays we like to share writing tips and tricks with our readers. We hope this section will encourage and inspire you to continually improve as a writer.

Writing Tip – Clearing Your Thoughts from Distractions

At times, typing your novel on your computer can prove difficult with all of the distractions: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, email and so on. Before you know it, you have been on your computer for an hour and have barely written a paragraph. When you find yourself weighed down by distractions you should take a step back, find a notepad and a pen, and start collecting your thoughts on paper. Sometimes it is easier to organize your thoughts when using pen and paper, whether you are writing a new chapter, working on the fluidity of your plot or fine-tuning character descriptions. Separate yourself from the many distractions your computer provides and work on your writing with pen and paper today.

Writing Prompt – Family Traditions

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, a day when families come together, share a meal and give thanks. It is a day rich in family traditions and it is these traditions that excite us every year. As Thanksgiving approaches, we cannot wait to recreate our favorite past experiences or to make new, lasting traditions. What are some of your favorite family traditions? How can you incorporate your family traditions in your writing? Use your favorite family tradition to write a short excerpt for a story. Try to make your reader feel as strongly as you do about your tradition through your description.

Book Signing Tips – What I Learned from the Miami Book Fair

We just got back from one of the largest book fairs we attend each year: the Miami Book Fair International from Nov. 16 – 18. It’s an exciting event filled with hundreds of booths offering everything from the world’s smallest books to a vibrant children’s section.

WestBow Press helps authors host their own book signing every year at this popular event. And, every year we learn something new.


Here are just a few tips to keep in mind as you prepare for your next book signing:

1.)    Keep your conversation brief. Sure, it’s great to connect with potential fans of your book, but you also have others waiting to meet you. Brush up on your elevator pitch the night before your signing to ensure you are mindful of time.

2.)    Wear something snazzy. In festivals like Miami, it’s a challenge to stand out from the book characters walking around on stilts and the festive music playing throughout the day. So, make sure you look polished, yet add something that will grab attendees’ attention as they walk by your booth, such as a bright colored jacket, an eclectic hat or some fun glasses.

3.)    Make sure the fair environment is right for your book. Miami is an excellent option for children’s book authors or Hispanic authors. Many children attend the fair on Friday because schools bring their students since the fair is free to all. Research your fairs and make sure your title fits well into the general audience in order to guarantee a warm reception of your title.

4.)    Give readers a reason to come to your booth. If you’re trying to sell your book or are attending an event on your own without professional support, bring along some free pens with your website printed on the sides, bags with your book’s cover or even candy. Anything to help draw in a crowd. Once you get a few people interested, crowds naturally attract crowds.

If this all sounds daunting to you, WestBow Press can help you through our Book Signing services. Or, if you’re unable to travel to an upcoming event, put your book on display in a Book Gallery – it’s an easy, effective and cost efficient way to get your name outside of your book’s niche.

What did you learn after your first book signing?

Writing Tip & Prompt: Using the Right Adjective

On Fridays, we like to share writing tips and tricks with our readers. We hope this section will encourage and inspire you to continually improve as a writer.

Writing Tip – Using the Right Adjective

Gusty, smoky, gray, mist-like. … Adjectives are our means of capturing the look, sound and feel of something. We use these descriptive words to convey the depth and relevance of our subject. Our advice: Cut back on your use of adjectives. It’s not that these words are weak or inferior parts of speech, it’s just that as writers, we tend to overuse them. We feel what it is that we are describing and have the need to portray the image in full effect. Multiple adjectives weaken each other’s singular impact. The only adjective to use is the very best one. Capture your impression and continue writing.

 Writing Prompt – Communicating With Music

“Music is the last true voice of the human spirit. It can go beyond language, beyond age, and beyond color straight to the mind and heart of all people.” — Ben Harper. The song, “With My Own Two Hands,” by Harper, may lead listeners to ponder their roles in the changing world and evaluate the tools at hand to make a difference. Now, select a song that holds meaning to you and write your interpretation. Take into consideration the lyrics and the melody, then fill in the blanks and create a short story of the meaning behind the song.

How to Communicate so People Will Listen

One of my greatest joys is helping authors publish their books, and my mission is to make publishing a great experience. In the course of my work week, I receive hundreds of emails, dozens of phone calls and attend several meetings. Time is my most precious resource.

Every week I am contacted by people who want my time. Many need assistance with something that is important to them. Some communicate in a way that is professional and efficient, making it easy for me to help them. Others seem to quickly assume that I have nothing else to do but to listen to their story, help them think through it and coach them along the way until their situation has been clarified and resolved in the way that best meets their needs. Some even become belligerent if I am not available to pick up the phone whenever they call or if I can’t give them what they want. It is much more difficult to help these people.

I have identified six steps to ensure I am communicating efficiently:

  1. I determine what I really need. Yes, it would be nice if the person or company I am contacting would give me everything I want, but they rarely are in a position to do so. So what can I realistically expect?
  2. I figure out who is in the best position to meet that need. Interestingly, it is not the president of the company, rather it is the person directly responsible for meeting that need. I have found that starting too high in the company does not put me with the person that is in a position to help me.
  3. I discover the best way to communicate with that person. Some people and companies prefer email, while others make it clear that they want you to call them. If they make it easy to find their phone number but difficult to find an email address, they are letting me know they prefer a phone call. Even though I find email to be more efficient, I need to be flexible and set aside my preference to make it easier for them to help me.
  4. I consider the situation from their perspective and determine how they can benefit in the situation. Many times the biggest benefit I can provide is simply offering an issue they can resolve quickly and easily so they can be productive. We all need to perform well at work so helping somebody be more productive is appreciated.
  5. I get to the point. I provide just enough of the story so the person can understand the situation and then I ask for what I want. For example, if I bought shoes but they were defective, I simply say, “The shoes are defective and I want a refund within two business days.” They don’t need to hear about how my morning run was spoiled by the shoes. I have found that communicating clearly and efficiently will get faster results.
  6. I document what I have done and schedule a time to follow up. If I leave a voice mail for somebody I also send a quick email summarizing what I’ve said so there is a formal record of the communication. I create a reminder based on when I said I would like things to be resolved so I can follow up if necessary.

I have also found that these steps help me communicate better as a writer. Identifying how I want the reader to benefit from what I am writing and getting to the point quickly helps keep me focused on writing in a way that people will read.

How could applying these steps help you in your journey as an author?


Writing Tip and Prompt – 11/9/2012

On Fridays we like to share writing tips and tricks with our readers. We hope this section will encourage and inspire you to continually improve as a writer.

Tip – Using the Semicolon

Don’t be afraid to utilize the dreaded semicolon in your writing. Sometimes, you’ll need to link complex sentences together, perhaps with an “however” or maybe without the use of a traditional conjunction such as “and,” “but” or “yet”; however, you shouldn’t be afraid of the semicolon and its many dynamic uses. Fear spells defeat.

 Prompt – Using Past Relationships

Somebody from your past calls you or sends you an e-mail and then reveals a secret crush they had on you years ago. Think about your history with this person and how you would respond. Then, write a story or poem that captures your emotions and your reaction to this overdue confession.


Women of Faith Book Signing, Kansas City, Missouri

This past weekend, WestBow Press had the pleasure of being present at the two day Women of Faith event in Kansas City, Mo., for the first time. The event took place Nov. 2 and 3, at the Sprint Center in (the lively Power and Light District of) Kansas City.

Women of Faith hosted many wonderful speakers and talented musical artists who were presented throughout the event by best-selling author, speaker and singer Sheila Walsh. Some of the speakers included comedian Ken Davis, who had the crowd roaring in laughter, and Pat Smith, president of Pat and Emmitt Smith Charities, who highlighted the importance of having faith and direction in your life. The musical portions of the event included songs from multi-award winning musical group Selah and multiple Grammy ® winning singer CeCe Winans. It was a truly motivational experience.

WestBow Press had two stations at the event: an extensive BookStub gallery featuring over 85 titles and an author signing featuring seven authors. Each BookStub had a unique code, allowing the recipient to download a free copy of that title’s e-book, and by the end of the event we had handed out around 4,400 BookStubs.  Attendees and volunteers were delighted to be able to meet the authors and receive a complimentary signed copy of their books. Authors that were present were:

Beth C. Walker, Love Letters to My Queen Bride
Karen Gryder with Sandy Faulkner, Farther On
M. Lorene Kimura, One Ordinary Woman, One Extraordinary God
B Bruchhaus, Fit 30:12
Sharon Carruthers with Corrine Vanderwerff, The Teeter-Totter
Kimberly Faye, Memoir of a Broken Brain
C.B. Matthews, Fake Christianity

Each author excelled during their one hour signing; crowds gathered and long lines formed until the authors had signed all of the books that we had available. We often emphasize to our authors that it is important to build a platform, reach an audience, and get their name and book out to the public. This signing event was a great start for these authors in that effort; many authors travelled from around the country to be in Kansas City, a market they might not have otherwise been able to reach. When the attendees and volunteers who got the signed books and BookStub cards have a chance to read the books they took from the event, we hope they find enjoyment in those books and tell others about them, allowing our authors a chance to reach even more readers.

We are honored to have been able to participate in this faith-filled event. It was amazing to be among so many people that share the same values and beliefs that we hold at WestBow Press and we look forward to being at more Women of Faith events in the future.

Courtney Light

Courtney Light is an Events Coordinator for WestBow Press and lives in Bloomington, Ind. She started with WestBow Press as a member of the production team and moved into the Events Coordinator position in Oct. 2011. Courtney studied Tourism Management, with a focus on events, at Indiana University.

Writing Tip and Prompt: 11/2/2012

On Fridays we like to share writing tips and tricks with our readers. We hope this section will encourage and inspire you to continually improve as a writer.

Writing Tip – Changing Perspective

Walk around the block or hike a new trail. Absorb your surroundings. Stop, turn around and look back, observing where you have just been. This change of perspective offers a surprisingly different view. Pay attention to the details you failed to see when walking forward and how those details alter the scenario. It is this backward or alternate perspective that will help to open up your story while discovering uniqueness from another view.

 Writing Prompt – Capturing Emotions

It is said that with the right words — the right language — a story will hold truth. It is the capturing of emotions with precision that elevates a story to natural beauty. Take an emotional moment from your life and write about a very small piece of that time. Focus on slowing down and moving inward as opposed to moving forward. When the emotions run high, be compelled to slow down. Capture the details that would ordinarily slip the eye or mind. Such compression will open your story to the beauty and rawness of truth.

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