Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Blizzard of 2009

If life serves up snowstorms – stay home and write. I know most of you had great expectations for to visit with family and friends this Christmas. Then Oklahoma weather swept in. I hope you were either already at your destination or your company had just arrived when the blizzard hit. First the Turner Turnpike closed, then all the rest, including the Creek. So much for “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” The good news is if you can’t go anywhere, and no one can get to you, write. That’s what I’m doing. Ho, Ho, Ho, and Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Interview with Matt Jones

It’s truly a pleasure to interview Matt Jones. Matt’s my critique partner, so I know first hand he’s one gentle and talented person. Taking on the role of president at WIN for 2010 was probably the furthest thing from his mind at the start of 2009, but Matt never turns his back on a need. Matt, congratulations on your position as our new WIN president.

Thanks, Bill. I’m looking forward to it.

With your family responsibilities, your own business, writing, and the leadership role for WIN in 2010, how will you find any time for relaxing?

I think my best bet is to take a break every chance I get, even if it’s just a minute at a time.

I suppose that works when you’re younger. But at sixty-seven, I need my naps. What does the 2010 WIN year look like, and where do you see yourself needing the most help?

Fortunately for me, our current president Gina Conroy has done an excellent job scheduling speakers for next year already. We have a line up of wonderful writers and speakers coming in, and I’m looking forward to booking some guests of my own.

I’m sure I’ll need quite a bit of help as standing in the president’s spot in a group of aspiring and experienced authors is no small thing. One of the things I truly would like everyone in WIN’s help with is devising creative ways to make WIN more advantageous for everyone. The encouragement and shared expertise among the group’s members is exemplary, but I can see a real need for finding a way to meet our members’ needs in practical ways that get people more involved with each other and each other’s writing.

So Matt, what does that look like? Are you thinking of a change in meeting format or a way to develop a mentoring program for inexperienced writers? Can you let us in on your plans?

I don’t have any plans to change up the meeting format. That’s not necessarily my goal. Nor is it my goal to “set up” a mentoring program. My hope is to rather encourage a natural growth within the group. I would love to see WIN become a place where novices can rely on the more experienced to pass along their skills in the craft of writing and where the experienced writers are given the opportunity to share the expertise they’ve acquired in their years of practice.

On the topic of meeting formats, I have to say I can see the potential in holding mini workshops and mini contests for anyone who’d like to join in. I have some ideas, but I’m keeping them under my hat for now.

In April on Denise Stewart’s blog, you wrote a piece telling us your perspective on romance. In it you said, “She (Tracy) loves for me to have a plan that I’ve thought of in advance specifically catered to her.” That was great advice for every married man. Do you have any other suggestions for the male members of WIN and ACFW?

Know thy wife. This pertains to all things romance…and writing.

After forty-four years of marriage, I’d have to agree with you. Managing your time and your relationships must be a priority for you. Can you share some incites on the pros and cons of both you and Tracy working out of your home with three small children to care for?

One of the greatest pros of working from home is getting to be more involved in my wife and children’s lives. Being at home of course means flexible hours when I need them. I get to be creative and artistic for a living, a blessing to me even if it means that finances have to be juggled a lot more often! Having Tracy at home, too, allows us to collaborate on design projects, which is a huge help for me. It also helps Tracy that I can be at home with the kids if she needs to go out.

On the cons side, working at home means that I have to be at home with the kids if my wife needs to go out.

I know Tracy is your #1 fan. She writes non-fiction, and you’re her biggest fan as well. Will you give us some incite on her work?

My wife is easily one of the most gifted communicators/speakers/ministers I know. She also has an extremely keen mind for finances and financial planning. Right now, her writing is centered on practical financial planning, creating a budgeting system that is simple and effective for all different types of incomes and financial lifestyles. She’s so conversational and funny and easy to read, I actually really enjoy the chapters she’s written so far. And I don’t even like “budgeting.”

I guess opposites do attract. But there is an area you both share in common – an entrepreneurial spirit. Your new company is Bookbrander. Describe the advantages your customers have by coming to Bookbrander, and not your competition.

The concept behind BookBrander, which is a collaboration between my design company (Jones House Creative) and Buzz Rocket Media here in Tulsa, is truly unique to other manuscript and book marketing services in that it uses video teasers and thematic websites, custom designed to each book, to connect with potential readers and fans in ways that elicit an immediate emotional connection to the story. We design a custom video and website SPECIFICALLY themed around the book to create a Hollywood-styled experience that people will remember. Music and imagery are extremely powerful tools for conveying the message and story of books because of their long-lasting impact. People can remember every bit of a thirty or sixty second video long after they’ve thrown away a flyer or left a book signing.

I wish you success. What advice do you have for the unpublished author who has never marketed themselves?

Whatever you do to market your work, DO IT WELL. First impressions are priceless. Every aspiring author and every published author has poured their guts, heart, soul, blood, time, money, date nights, first born children, etc into their books. They have worked to make themselves experts and professionals at writing. They have made their books, hopefully, the absolute best they can. But then, when it comes to sharing their work with their potential fans, they make such a bad initial impression that it’s difficult for anyone to take them seriously. Every bit of marketing material, from websites to business cards, needs to be done WELL. You wouldn’t wear your sweats and ratty T-Shirt into a job interview, so why would you let your website – literally your face as seen by the world – look anything less than amazing?

There is a wealth of good advice in your response, yet so many of us are afraid to step out and actively market. But on a personal level, many in WIN may not know this, but you and I are critique partners. Writing an Old Testament trilogy is quite an undertaking, but you’re doing a great job. Tell us about your concept. What will each book cover?

Absolutely. My trilogy’s working title is The Mightiest of Men. The crux of my story hinges on the day that David, the son of Jesse, is anointed to be king of Israel and the ensuing chain of events that affects the lives of everyone he comes in contact with. My stories center around a band of warriors who unite with David. By following him, they become his Gibborim, his Mighty Men, and thus become the legendary heroes of the golden age in Israel.

The first book, Shield, focuses on Josheb Baashebeth, the chief of all David’s Gibborim. Josheb, a warrior in King Saul’s army, receives a divine calling to become a guardian for David during the first days of his flight from Saul. In choosing to become an outlaw with David, Josheb makes the choice to lay down his life and follow David, knowing that it will probably mean his own death in the end.

The second book, Sword, focuses more on the life of El`azar, the second member of “The Three,” the top three commanders of David’s Gibborim. This portion of the story spends time telling the tale of David’s years spent as a mercenary to the Philistines. The story leads up to the point that David becomes king of Judah.

The third and final book, tentatively entitled Throne, deals with how David’s men deal with the complexities of his life after he becomes king. The central figure in this book is Benaiah, the son of the Levite priest Jehoiada. The story leads up to the time of David’s death and Solomon’s ascension to the throne.

Believe me, Matt, you're a talented writer, and I’m enjoying your incites on my writing as well. Thanks for taking your time to share your projects and thoughts on 2010 with me and your WIN friends. I’m looking forward to 2010.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Through A Glass Darkly - Now in Print

After the initial leaping and hugging when my free copies of Count Your Blessings arrived, the realization set in that I'm now published in hard copy, and not just on the net. The NASCAR addition of Chicken Soup has my story, A Renewed Life, in final draft for possible release in February. For all of you who have encouraged me along the way, thank you from my soul.

Next year will be a busy year. I will continue my search for an agent for The Fifth Step, a contemporary fiction novel about a preacher with a dark secret that threatens to destroy his ministries, his marriage, and his life. To market this novel, I'll be attending the DWF and OWFI Conferences in April, and one other conference to be determined later in the year. Face-to-face meetings with agents yield better results than sending out a mass of written queries. In today's writing world, you can't be just good, you have to be exceptional to receive attention.

Keep me in your prayers.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Upcoming Conferences

Tulsa Nightwriters and Writers of Inspirational Fiction attention!

The DFW Writers' Conference is coming up in mid-April, 2010, followed by the Oklahoma Writers' Federation Conference at the end of that month. Both provide excellent programs, great opportunities to win contests, and a good opportunity to meet with agents. Pam and I are attending both conferences next year, and I encourage other Oklahoma writers to do the same - if you can afford it. Here are two great reasons to attend. First, the DFW Conference attracts a different set of agents from OWFI, many from New York Agencies, and it has some classes not offered in OKC. Second, we can encourage out-of-state attendance to our Oklahoma conferences, if we put out the word face-to-face.

See you at both.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Another Chicken Soup Success

My short stories continue to find homes. Not only did I have an article published in The Write Life, Tracy Crump's growing e-newsletter, but my story, A Renewed Life, has made the second cut for Chicken Soup of the Soul's NASCAR book, coming out in February. Those who know me know I use the short story to hone my skills. Developing conflict, filling out character's emotions, and wrapping up a super plot in 3,000 words or less, provides a want-to-be novelist like myself with the skills to carry a readers' interest from chapter to chapter through a novel. My next short story, Genetics , is waiting for me to find a humorous short story contest to enter it in. I won't keep it waiting long.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Learning and Growing

Part of a writer's passion involves continually working the craft. To that end, I recently participated in an intense week long seminar with author Bill Bernhardt. Ten writers reviewed each others work with Bill as moderator and instructor. The homework extended late into the night, every night. Our group improved so dramatically that Bill invited some of us to an advanced seminar in February. I'm already preparing for it.

My success with short stories continues. Chicken Soup for the Soul has agreed to publish Through a Glass Darkly, and is considering two others. Armchair Interviews awarded An Unexpected Dream second place in its Thanksgiving Day contest and published it on their website. Now with what I've learned about how to structure a novel, I'm reworking the four I've written. The improvements I'm making amaze me. The Fifth Step will be the first ready for marketing, and I've received encouragement from my critique group that its good quality. Wish me success as I venture out. I'll keep you posted on the results.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What's Going On?

I've developed a good critique partner in Matt Jones. Along with him comes his special abilities in graphic arts and one page promotions. He's working on two promotional covers for me now, and I encourage anyone who needs graphic work done to check Matt out at I'm still debating whether to attend the ACFW convention in September. Give me you input at our next WIN meeting.

Either way, I'm plowing forward. June 8-12 I'm joining an intensive seminar with Bill Bernhardt and Hawk Publishing. It's twenty hours of writing and rewriting query letters, synopsis, and chapters - the building blocks for marketing and selling my work. Wish me luck.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Successes and Expectations

With our move from Bixby to Broken Arrow, and our grandson's unexpected arrival, Pam and I have been swamped. But now, hopefully, we can update this blog more often. Having said that, I want to share the latest success in my writing adventures. Chicken Soup for the Soul:Count Your Blessings has sent me a proof of my short story, Through a Glass Darkly. It should come out in print December 2009. This is the second success in the past four months, and it gives me encouragement that my writing is improving.

I have great expectations for the future. I've submitted three entries to ACFW's Genesis contest in the Contemporary Fiction category. I submitted a short story to Lorian Hemingway's Short Story Competition, and I've completed my edits on four - count them - four novels! I'm preparing to layout a marketing campaign aimed at publication. Agents and Editors here I come.

I'll be a contributor this coming month to The Write Life, a e-zine that is growing in popularity. And, of course, I continue to learn and network through TWV2, hosted by Mary DeMuth. It's is a blessing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


The Wind at My Back
A short story by Pam Wetterman

Have you ever stood in an open field on an August day in Oklahoma? The wind never stops blowing. It feels like a strong warm breath covering you. One day I experienced the breath of God on my back. I can’t say I heard an audible voice, but I knew it was God speaking.

In late 2007, I was impressed to get ready for a big change. I knew that every time a major change came, God always prepared me. That is how God impressed me to embrace His will and learn to live in obedience once again.

Like an ant getting ready for winter, I began to update our home. My first chore was to convince my loving husband of 42 years that our five year old home needed modernization. But after a time he was gracious and began to open up the purse strings. We double the patio and covered it with a pergola. My husband could see the need to paint the outside of the house and agreed to that as well. The difficult decision for him was to agree to a new more modern color. My wonderful husband hated change and he had not heard from God.

Then it was time for the inside. We looked for just the right colors. I could see an antique bronze faux in the great room, a significant change from the apple green that we had originally. My choice for the formal dining room was a touch of bold red antique with black and bronze glaze. I talked him into painting the rest of the interior and refinishing our hardwood floors. A true miracle from God. Our home was a palace.

Once the renovations were completed I could see the toll it had taken on my husband. Since I was not sharing what was driving me, I could not blame him for being resistant. He had not yet heard from God and maybe I had misinterpreted His message. No, I was still feeling a strong need to be ready. I began to feel as though the next steps would lead to us moving. But why did we have to move? Still, when God speaks, it is smart to follow His lead.

I had followed His lead before. My life changed significantly in 2006 when I was forced to retire early due to a severe loss of sight from Macular Degeneration. Having been a successful high level manager for most of my career, it was a difficult experience. Our finances were impacted significantly and we were down to only one income plus my Social Security Disability. But with God’s help, we were making ends meet.

In September 2008, my husband was forced into early retirement due to the downturn in the economy. We had already lost over 40 percent of our retirement savings in the market and we still had ten years left on our mortgage. Now I was beginning to understand. God had been preparing me for this for over 19 months. His answer to our need was to downsize our expenses, beginning with our home.

When you are married to someone who does not like change, it is not easy to ask them to make one of the most important changes in life. I began to share God’s vision with my husband. But he wasn’t ready to make this move. He felt we could make ends meet on our reduced income. So we sat down and worked together on a budget. It was soon obvious that if we cancelled our cell phones, our lawn service, the newspaper, and our cable, and never took any trips, we could pay the bills but there would be nothing left over for clothing or birthday gifts or Christmas. But in the spirit of following his lead, I agreed to give it a try. We set aside cash for groceries, utility bills, and the house payment. We did not have any credit card debt or car payment. Surely we could do this.

It was October 2008 and with concern, we began. November was even more difficult and then came December. How could I not get a few gifts for our grand kids? My heart was so low. Finally we made the decision to pull cash from our savings for a modest Christmas.
Once again I mentioned the need to “downsize” and my husband said, “I am not leaving this house until you put me into a nursing home. That is final.” I knew it was time for God to speak to him. My attempts were futile. Within two days, my husband came to me and said, he had called a realtor just to see what we could get for our home. Wow, God was working. All I had to do was take my hands off the situation and give it to God.

December 22nd we met with the realtor. On the 26th we ventured out to see what homes we could afford on our new lower income. God took us to a new construction home that was perfect and the builder offered to reduce the price by 10 percent. We immediately placed a contract on the house. Now to get our home sold. This is when we really saw God at work. One family came to see our house on the 29th and made an offer. It was too low and we began the difficult war of offer vs. counter offer. Finally, the evening of the 30th, my husband shouted into the phone at our realtor, “No more, we are done. Either they want the house at our price or they can find another one. I am not negotiating any longer. I am done. “That night we went to bed with heavy hearts. Surely this was a dead deal. Would we loose the new home? It was the home God had provided. Now was the time to rest in His arms and wait.

The phone rang early the next day. Our realtor called to say the buyer had agreed to our price. The only condition, vacate the house by the 30th of January. We agreed and began to panic. It was time to use our 25 plus years of business experience to execute a plan. We had to pack and move in 30 days.

Looking back, I continually felt God’s warm breath on my back as we packed. Today, we’re settled in our new home. It’s lovely. We have reduced our house payment by 66 percent and our home insurance by 50 percent. God knew our needs and He acted quickly. His warm breath on my back was gentle, but consistent. I can rest in the knowledge that we followed His will and will be taken care of during this very difficult financial time. God is certainly good. If you begin to feel a warm wind on your back, stop and listen. He is speaking.