Christian Author Lorilyn Roberts' Blog

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A New Way to Sample Christian Books, "Taste and See," by the John 3:16 Marketing Network authors

John 3:16 Network to Release Taste and See First Chapters Book Soon

Article by Cheryl Rogers original appeared on the John 3:16 Marketing Network blog.

A new book by the John 3:16 Marketing Network will showcase the work of 58 authors who have banded together to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ through their writing talents. Slated for release in early December, Taste and See, a Sampling of First Chapters by John 3:16 Marketing Network Authors, will be available in various ebook formats.

"I am excited to offer this book completely free through the Christmas holidays," says Lorilyn Roberts, the network's founder, who is editing the book. "I had no idea initially if anyone would be interested or if publishers would let us reprint a first chapter, but the response has been overwhelmingly positive."

"After the first of the year, people will need to sign up for the John 3:16 ezine to get Taste and See for free, but until January 1, everyone can download as many copies as they want from Smashwords and other distribution sites, including Apple, Kindle, Nook, and Sony with a coupon."

Lorilyn started the John 3:16 Marketing Network, which is free to join, as a means of collaborating on book launches and other marketing endeavors. As of this writing, the network has grown to 150-plus members. In addition to launching books, the network offers book showcases, reciprocal blogging, monthly prayer meetings via teleconferences, a bulletin board, an active Facebook page, a site to post book reviews, and tutorials for some of the more technical aspects of marketing. Lorilyn has also written a book, How to Launch a Christian Best-Seller Book, to help authors reach best-seller status on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. A storefront is run in affiliation with the New Christian Books Magazine, operated by network member Cheryl Rogers.

Taste and See, a Sampling of First Chapters, features fiction and non-fiction aimed at readers of all ages, plus a few surprises," says Lorilyn.

The John 3:16 Marketing Network plans to publish the Taste and See book annually to enable readers to enjoy new authors' books. "We write and publish a lot of books each year," Lorilyn adds. "I am sure we will have many new books to include in another sampling next year."

Again, the sample book will be free through the holidays; sales links to the full works are included. Taste and See will retail for $3.99 at Smashwords.com after the holiday promotion. It will continue to be free after the new year if you sign up for the John 3:16 ezine.

Distribution is planned through Smashwords.com and its retail network, the John 3:16 Marketing Network website and blog, New Christian Books Online Store, and network member blogs and websites.

The book's cover features mini book covers submitted by authors, in a collage format. "My goal was to showcase all the authors and their books in a visually pleasing way," says Rogers, who designed the cover and assisted with the book's formatting. Rogers, who has authored a number of books aimed at Christians of all ages, publishes New Christian Books Online Magazine as a free service to Christian readers and writers.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ten Characteristics That Make Good Books Great

This article originally appeared on Pentalk's blog.

An Author's Study of the Classics
Ten Characteristics That Make Good Books Great
By Lorilyn Roberts

When I began my Masters in Creative Writing from Perelandra College two years ago, I was frightfully afraid I wouldn't be able to write fiction. I had spent the last thirty years reading and writing nonfiction in a journalistic setting. Long ago were the days I spent as a child reading fiction books about mushroom planets, traveling through tesserects, meeting talking animals, solving mysteries of hidden staircases, becoming a heroine, and falling in love with war heroes. Those delightful stories were my constant companion and escape from reality; how different my early years would have been without those great books.

As I grow older, it's refreshing to see my inner child peek out and remind me I am still who I was way back then--yes, a little bigger around the waist with a few more wrinkles, but I treasure those wonderful stories that were such a big part of my childhood. What was it about them that stole my heart and gave me such a love for books and writing?

I wondered, can I write a book similar to those that I so dearly loved? Matthew 10:24 states, "A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master." I reasoned, how can I be the best writer possible unless I read the best literature? So I asked my professor, Ken Kuhlken, "What is the most perfect book ever written?" From this question we had a series of discussions that led to me taking two classes of independent study. I set about reading some of the books he suggested. I am now finishing my second class and am looking forward to reading works by C.S. Lewis and J.R. Tolkien. I saved the best for last.

After reading over a million words from the best literature, I have come to appreciate what makes a good book great is not by accident or luck. The stunning story that emerges from the pen of a Master  is a work of art--painstakingly designed, written, and edited. The stories are  not created out of a "one size fits all' mentality or factory-produced where the plots are predictable and the characters "stereotypical." To write a great book, I won't find any GPS directions to get me there or weekend seminars to  make it easy.

Those activities serve useful purposes, but not to write great stories. It takes a commitment to excellence, patience, talent, and perseverance.

After having read ten of the best classics, I also wonder if great writing is caught, not taught, borne out pain and suffering. I was surprised by the many similarities in the biographies of classic authors: The crucible of suffering was imprinted in their lives and found its way into the pages of their books.
To help me sort through what makes these books classics, I have listed ten characteristics I found in common. You might be surprised--I know I was.

1.  Create characters that will be remembered long after the book is finished. We are made for relationships, and this part of our nature carries over into books. For example, I remember my first love crush from The Exodus by Leon Uris when I was seventeen; and the poor, battered soul in The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. Make characters memorable and your book will be remembered.

2. The Christian worldview speaks to the heart of man. While fads come and go, new ideas spread across continents, and knowledge increases with each passing year, written on our hearts are values that cross generations and cultures. All the classics I have read present a Christian worldview. While some make no mention of the Bible (Frankenstein), it is implied, and writers who have written classics embrace this universal truth.

3. Write tight plots. John Piper has written a wonderful book called Don't Waste Your Life.  I would say don't waste your reader's precious time by including scenes or characters that add nothing to the story. Every scene, every character, and every chapter must serve a point. Examples of the best are A Tale of Two Cities and Wuthering Heights. That doesn't mean there can't be many characters. It just means each character must be absolutely necessary to propel the story forward.

4. To add to your book's greatness, let it make a statement about society, about life, about those things that are deep within us that cause us to groan and laugh, reflect and ponder, and most of all, never to give up hope (The Brothers Karamazov).

5. Take risks. Original works oftentimes make people squirm because they take the reader out of his comfort zone. Some of the great classics were not originally well received because they were "different" (Wuthering Heights).

6. Don't shy away from embracing controversial topics or paradigms that impact the story and raise the stakes for the protagonist (The Grand Inquisitor, Crime and Punishment, Frankenstein, The Power and the Glory, Wuthering Heights, The Brothers Karamazov, and Pride and Prejudice).

7. Redemption out of chaos brings hope, leaving the reader with optimism about his future. I am reminded that our words will outlive us in the pages of our books. Make your book a gift worth remembering. (Great Expectations, Crime and Punishment, Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice)..

8. The tone, symbolisms, and motifs should work in unison to undergird the subliminal theme and arc of the story. Make it relevant to the reader (Wuthering Heights, Crime and Punishment, The Power and the Glory).

9. Slow down the forward progression of the story sufficiently to explore the psychological and spiritual warfare experienced by the protagonist For example, here is a comment I wrote from my analysis of Crime and Punishment: "Never mind the 'punishments' I received. What I learned early on is I have a conscience. A relentless whisper spoke to me even when I didn't want to listen. My guilt pricked my soul like a thorn, bothering me more than I could have imagined. I did not know I would feel so miserable before I committed each of my various "crimes." I was forced to carry a heavy burden that painfully weighed me down until I either confessed my sin or my guilt was discovered. The suffering was relentless and did more to drive me to a loving God than the severe discipline I received from those who showed no grace." (Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights, Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, and Pride and Prejudice).

10.   Leave the reader forever changed. If your book is forgotten after the last page is read, you will have forfeited a great opportunity to make the world a better place.

If you have additional characteristics you would like to share, please do.

Lorilyn Roberts is an up-and-coming new author who writes with passion about life--politically incorrect topics, homeschooling, adoption, book reviews, author interviews, inspirational stories, family topics, Bible studies, poetry, and the art of writing. Lorilyn has written three books: The Donkey and the King, Children of Dreams, and How to Launch a Christian Best-Seller Book. She is the founder the John 3:16 Marketing Network, a network of Christian authors who focus on launching books, and the president of the Gainesville, Florida, Word Weavers Chapter.

Lorilyn's personal website:  http://lorilynroberts.com; to learn more about the John 3:16 Marketing Network, you can visit http://john316mn.blogspot.com.
.






Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, Launch Day for Letters to God on a Prodigal Son



November 8th is the big launch day for Letters to God on a Prodigal Son—Overcoming Addiction Through Prayer by Anita Estes. 

When you purchase the book on Nov. 8th you will be able to choose from many free gifts and your name will be entered into a contest to win either a $25 or $50 from some of your favorite stores! Here’s how: http://www.anitaestes.com/landing-page.html

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wuthering Heights Critique, A Great Classic




Wuthering Heights is one of the most perfect novels I have read.  Here are my thoughts on what makes Wuthering Heights an outstanding read and why it’s considered a classic:

Characterization:

There are no extraneous characters introduced into the story. Each person serves a purpose and is often complementary to another character in the book, like a mirrored reflection or a duality, sometimes the same, sometimes opposing; i.e., Catherine and Heathcliff, Edgar and Isabella Linton, Hindley and Heathcliff, the younger Catherine and Hareton,
  Mr. Lockwood and Nelly, Nelly and Joseph,  the two families at Wuthering Heights and the Grange, the mother Catherine and the younger Catherine,  and Isabella and Heathcliff.  The relationships among the characters are complicated and evolving.   If you were to take one of the characters out of this story, the  plot development would be negatively altered.  The plot is character-driven and tightly woven throughout the story.


Tone:

The tone of the story is brooding and dark. The sensuous feeling is foreboding, first
 exhibited in the setting which Emily Bronte describes in detail. There is an element of overarching suspense and aversion to the characters:  the morose Heathcliff;  mother Catherine who dies of a brain disorder;  the drink of Hindley;  the tragic life of Isabella following her marriage to Heathcliff;  the delightful younger Catherine who succumbs to depression after coming under the control of Heathcliff. The depressing scene and dysfunctional characters that greet Lockwood’s arrival prompt him to ask Nelly to explain the history behind Wuthering Heights.

Societal:

I was struck by how Emily Bronte weaves the social status of the characters into the story:
  Joseph and his barely intelligible English; Nelly, the servant and principal narrator, and her portrayal of others from an inferior social position;  the many differences between the upper class Lintons and the middle class Earnshaws; the emphasis on social structure with less opportunity for upward mobility, which impacted the “heart” of the story -- mother Catherine sacrifices her desire for Heathcliff  to achieve a higher social status by marrying Edgar. The characters’ traits, flaws, and attributes within the structure of society make for believable people that the reader  both loves and hates.

Multi-generational:

The differences between the generations were striking: Heathcliff and mother Catherine seemed unable to change with the passage of time or grow as individuals. They were locked into extremisms that
 became dead-end roads.  Eventually, their flawed natures doomed them to early deaths, providing an opportunity for the next generation in Catherine and Hareton to overcome the past. In contrast to their parents, they were able to adapt and redeem the past, and through their transformation, the reader is filled with hope for the future.  The multigenerational aspect of time adds to the completeness  of the story—this is a family with a history, a past that threatens to destroy the future.

Spiritual/Psychological:

Emily Bronte probes deeply the psychological aspects of people’s behavior and the ramifications of the dark side of human nature. The story touches on the spiritual nature of the individuals, with references to the small church, the recurring battle with death, the repeated references to ghosts, and Joseph’s incessant recitation of Scripture.
  
Themes:

The many themes are timeless—love that is forbidden, prejudices that hurt people,
  the meaninglessness of life without hope,  hate that destroys,  the vindictiveness of human nature, and the darkness of the soul without God.

Setting:

Established in the first paragraph,  a “perfect misanthropist’s heaven. ” Right away,  I am told a lot about this story in a unique way which encourages me to keep reading.

Classic Author Similarities:

I am struck by the fact that many classics, like this one, have been written by individuals who have experienced tremendous  suffering.  I wonder if there is a relationship between a giftedness to write great stories and the degree to which one has endured hardship. Perhaps the strong emotions that are pent up in a tortured soul find solace in the pen as a healing balm.

Risky:

Creative, original stories take risks.  For instance, there isn’t one protagonist versus one antagonist in Wuthering Heights. Ninety-five percent of the story is dark and unsettling; the story reinforces negative stereotypical issues and characters. The orphan is the troublemaker and destroyer of the family, perpetuating a common “myth” with adoptees.  Joseph uses the Bible in a beguiling way to demean people, contrary to the Good Book’s ultimate purpose. The submissive role of women and their inability to escape from abusive husbands or families is also perpetuated in Wuthering Heights,  reinforcing the long-held notion that women are inferior to men.  Despite these risks,  Emile Bronte creates a masterpiece.

Fictional Dream:

Emily Bronte immerses the reader into a world that is vivid and dream-like, with colorful characters and a complex plot. She uses literary techniques that make this is a compelling read, one worth pondering after the last page is finished. It’s a shame she died so young—what other books might she have written?