Monday, September 26, 2011

Karla Akins writes:O Canada! Her Story from Bramley Books





Karla, tell us a bit about you. (Only those things you want us to know, hehehe)
I'm a pastor's wife, mom of 5, grandma of 5, full-time college student pursuing a degree in Special Education. I have degrees in theology, three dogs, ride my own motorcycle, and collect books and shoes.

Whatever prompted you to write a book about Canada?
I had written for this publisher before in compilations and they liked my writing style, so they asked me to do this project for them.

How did you research the interesting characters?
I love research! It's one of my favorite parts of writing. I try to use as many primary resources as I can and I buy a lot of out-of-print books from used book vendors. I also use reputable websites and interview people who either know something about the character or are in charge of a museum about that person or area. Then, I keep a binder for each character and also use evenote and LiveBinder.com to organize my research. Once I'm sure I have the flavor of the time period and enough details to make the story interesting, I begin to write.

Did you have a personal favorite?
Oh, that's tough. Each one of them is very special to me. I lived with them for so many months! I enjoyed writing from a dog's POV in the Vikings chapter, but I also enjoyed learning and writing about the Canadian school on wheels where kids went to school on train cars. But if I must choose just one, I think I'd have to pick the one on the Acadians. Their ties to the Louisiana Cajuns is fascinating.

What has been the response from Canadians?
So far I've gotten great reviews! One of the best compliments was from a mom who bought the book for her children and said, "I'm madly in love with this book!"

Would you ever consider another similar type book?
Oh absolutely. I love writing biographies and historical stories.

Where can the readers purchase O Canada?
At Bramley Books and once the print version is in stock they can get it on Amazon both in print or as an ebook for Kindle.

Can you give us a hint about what else you write?
My current work in progress is a historical suspense. I've also written a humorous novel that I'm rewriting. I have a homeschool column on Examiner.com and I am the Indiana correspondent for Mother Nature Network. I also have several blogs. My research blog is The History Scroll, and my daily live blog is That I Did Always Love. My writing blog is at Envision Publishing.

My website is http://www.KarlaAkins.com Sign up for my history newsletter!

Karla, thanks for dropping by. I’ve read O Canada, and it’s wonderful. I never knew all that about their folk heroes. You drew me right in and bopped me over the head with lots of interesting stories. Way to go!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Hard Job!

So many wonderful books have found their way into my mailbox since I began this agenting gig. Wonderful books! But I've learned for myself the lesson Terry Burns taught me. I good book, a really good book will show up quite often, but are they great books? Are they stellar?

It's so difficult to tell a good writer, keep trying. I just had to write just such a letter, and it broke my heart. The author was very good, but not quite there yet. I guess I shouldn't be whining; I have the best job in the world.

When just one of those books reaches in, grabs my heart, and makes me sit up, dying for a full read, then I'm content.

Just wish I didn't have to say no so often.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

With Hope on 911


Psalm 91:1
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

We need to look past the sadness and remember that in Christ
we have hope and safety...

Monday, September 5, 2011

Remembering the Muse in You

Days come and go when you sit down and dash off dozens of pages of brilliant writing. Then…there are days…

Your original heartfelt writing takes flight and you’re left with an empty screen.
Now, for some, this is absolutely paralyzing.
Writers’ block.

Trying to meet deadlines, attempting a new style, writing for someone else instead of for yourself. So many reasons to feel the block as surely as an epidural.

Anything in particular that stops you?
What do you do to remember the Muse in you?

Friday, September 2, 2011

TENTH ANNIVERSARY

God bless America
Tin, aluminum, or diamond?

It would be nice if that were the only question for a tenth anniversary, but this anniversary is deserving of more thought than what to buy.

Next weekend will be the anniversary of 911. We aren’t worthy of buying anything to commemorate such a day, let alone think of it frivolously. This was a day that unified a country in one morning in such a way as nothing had in over fifty years. Churches, cathedrals and synagogues were suddenly filled to overflowing. Our connection with Israel and our roots of faith, that much stronger. Our connection to each other stronger still.

So what happened?
We, Americans, have it so good that apathy sets in so “sneakily”, if you’ll pardon that word, but it’s exactly what happens. Our hearts turn to other things, and we forget. The church rolls, once again, dropped off as we grew accustomed to taking our shoes off at the airport and leaving large bottles of shampoo behind.

Well, I’m asking each one of you who reads this to pray on the 11th. Pray that God will again turn our hearts to Him, to our faith, to those around us who need help in any way. To remind ourselves that we are a family of God. America was founded on those principles and we should NEVER allow them to be snatched from us again: not with fear, not with hatred, and not with apathy.

God bless America and God bless each of you.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

When Author, Editor, or Agent is Blessed to Judge…

Hopefully you count your blessings and take it very seriously when an organization asks you to be a judge for what? A writing contest? The thing you love most in the world? Woohoo!

And do you? Do you really take it seriously, or just go through the motions to be a good sport?

A writer takes a huge step when he or she places their work in your hands. They are, in essence, asking you to validate them as writers. Some are new to the task, some have been trying for years to break into the industry, and you hold their hopes before you.

Is it more important to you to encourage the writer or show them how much you think you know?

Don’t get me wrong. Holding a poor writer’s hand only goes so far. It’s difficult to keep saying, “Very interesting.” But there has to be something you can find that would encourage, uplift, or steer the writer in the right direction.

Ever had a judge return an entry like this?

Poorly written, no plot, no sense of reality. Your characters were cardboard. Dialogue stilted, and it looks like you wrote it with your feet. But good luck and I wish you the best.

REALLY!?!

How have you helped the author?

Perhaps:

I’d recommend a strong crit group to help you find typos and errors that can be easily fixed once they’re recognized. Go deeper into the characters’ POVs so that the reader can connect with them and what they are going through. Dialogue should move the story along and with a bit of help, I think you can make your male characters come across with a more masculine touch without losing their sensitivity. You have a great start here and I encourage you to take as many online classes as you can to improve your writing skills until next time you’ll wow us with this novel.

You’ve said the same thing without the caustic bite that could eat into a writer’s delicate spirit. Yes, we all have to be thick-skinned, but the thick skin should come gradually, not in one huge makeover.

The blessing is yours when you’ve been asked to judge. No matter your background or ability, always give it your best. You’ll walk away with much more than the authors. You’ll walk away knowing that you cared about another human being.