Interview with Rebeca Seitz

Rebeca Seitz is president of Glass Road Public Relations. Her second novel, Sisters, Ink, hits store shelves this month. We sat down with Rebeca to learn more about the world of publicity. Rebeca, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed today.

How long have you been in PR?

I received my BA in communications with an emphasis in public relations in 2000. I worked in media and communications capacities in the non-profit sector throughout college, then graduated and moved to Florida to work in advertising. I went back to the non-profit world in Florida, then returned to Tennessee and spent time in commercial/medical real estate management. It didn’t take me long to miss the world of communications, though! I took my first literary publicist position with Thomas Nelson in 2004. I’ve been in literary publicity ever since.

Was there ever a time in your career you thought of quitting?

No, not that I can remember. There are days when I wonder if I’m any good at this, though! That happens to most of us publicists if we’ve spent the day pitching a client and ended the day with no nibbles, not even a hint of media coverage. I’ve learned to take those doubts to God and ask for His affirmation if I’m walking the right path. Inevitably, the next day I’ll get a call from some big media outlet like National Public Radio or the Today Show or we’ll land a big client and I’ll think, “Yep, I love this.”

How many clients can you serve in a year?

Our firm handles 20-30 books at any given time. That ends up being close to 50 books per year. Thankfully, it’s not just me handling those campaigns! We have a staff of publicists and publicity assistants – as well as able support staff – that keeps all the balls up in the air.

What can your agency offer to first time authors that they might not be able to do on their own?

Probably the most valuable thing we offer to first timers is wisdom. Entering the publishing world is a lot like jumping on a galloping horse with your eyes duct-taped shut. It can either result in a thrilling ride or a painful mess. Debut authors normally don’t know who does what at the publishing house, what they can be doing themselves to promote their books, how to work well with the promotions team at the publishing house, etc. We answer a lot of questions on those topics.
As for the actual act of publicity, our relationships with media representatives are of great benefit to first time and seasoned authors alike. We can make a call or shoot an email to a lot of media reps and know we’ll be listened to because we take the time to develop relationships with those folks. We regularly fly to New York, LA, Chicago, etc. to meet with reps and ask them what they want to see. Our entire day is spent learning about these outlets – what kinds of books the reviewers like, what kinds of interviews the editors want, etc. Those relationships help us know where to steer the book rather than shooting books blindly into the night and hoping someone picks it up for a story or review.

What about established authors? Can you give us an idea how working with Glass Road Public Relations can help them?

Sure – it depends on the author’s previous media coverage and desires for the future. Some authors have published eight books, but if you mention their name to an avid reader, all you get is a raised eyebrow. With publicity, that shouldn’t happen as often. Your title list equips the publicist to pitch you to media, who in turn write articles about you and review your books. Consumers see that media coverage and become more familiar with your name. Then, when they go to purchase a book, they know to find your books. We know from a survey in 2005 that author name recognition is in the top five reasons consumers name for purchasing a book, so getting your name out there is very important!

For seasoned authors who have gotten plenty of media coverage, we take them to the next level. For instance, if they’ve been on all the regional media, let’s start talking to national media. If they’ve already done the morning news shows and talk shows, then let’s start talking to radio and print more. And, if they’ve exhausted the media spectrum (I’ve yet to meet an author who has, but he/she could exist!), then we simply need to get the word out that your next book is releasing. Educating the public to the fact of your new release spurs sales.

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

I do have one main peeve – it’s when we don’t conduct ourselves as Christians, either with each other or when dealing with non-believers in the industry. I’m as guilty of this as the next person, so know that I’m pointing my finger inward! If we’re going to say we’re “Christians” then we should operate at a level more excellent than the rest of the world. I get frustrated when people say something is “just a ministry” – as if that phrase is ever justified! Just a ministry? A ministry is a calling. And we’re told to do everything as unto the Lord. Which means if I’m operating a business that is also a ministry, I ought to be making it the most excellent business/ministry I possibly can. No cutting corners, no half-way doing stuff – 110% all the time.

What work have you done that you’re especially proud of and why?

I really love getting newbie authors off the ground. I love teaching them the ropes of the publishing world and walking alongside them on this path of publication. Don’t get me wrong – working with established authors lets me flex my publicist muscles and call up the big dog media outlets – but there’s a special joy in seeing an author’s eyes light up as those first reviews come rolling in. I’ve been really honored to work with several debut authors and I count my work with them as something I’m proud of.

Do you have a scripture or quote that has spoken to you lately?

There’s a song that I’ve been playing almost constantly for three days now. Our music minister handed me Warren Barfield’s second CD (Reach) and I can’t get enough of it. In particular, there’s a song that starts out, They say you learn from your mistakes. Well, I…I guess I should be a genius. For all the times I’ve fallen on my face. Tangled in my weakness. Wishing someone would say keep your head held high. Don’t stop believing. You are God’s child and His strength is stronger than your weakness. I love the sound of this music – he’s like a Christian John Legend! – and the lyrics on pretty much every song speak to me.

Can you give us a look into a typical day for you?

Danger, Will Roger. Danger! I think I just revealed my age – for all you young ‘uns out there, that’s a line from a TV show in the early eighties. Ha ha! A typical day starts out between 6 and 7AM. I get up and go straight to the kitchen for a quick breakfast (usually muffins, toast, or sausage biscuits). I take breakfast and a Diet Mt Dew into the den and flip on Morning Express with Robin Meade. I eat and get caught up on the day’s headlines, which usually takes about twenty minutes. Then I wake up my hubby and tell him I’m going to let the dogs out because he has to open the downstairs door while I’m upstairs letting them out of their crates.
I let the dogs out, then go to the office and see what’s landed in my inbox overnight. I spend about half an hour responding to anything that can’t wait until later. About the time I finish, I can hear my two-year-old talking downstairs so I take a break to go say, “Good morning” and get that ever-important morning hug. If it’s Monday, Wednesday, or Friday I help him get ready for pre-school, then go back to the office. If it’s Tuesday or Thursday, I just get my hug and go back to work. Next is my Task list. I first do anything that has a deadline on it – creating press materials, updating activity reports, sending out contracts, following up with media who let me know they were meeting a deadline, etc. Then I move on to things without hard and fast deadlines, just loose timeframes – calling and emailing media, developing media lists, scheduling trips to media-rich cities, pulling together presentations for writers conferences, talking with authors, reading new manuscripts that are coming in, etc. I break around 1 or 2 o’clock if I have a few free minutes for lunch. Otherwise, I just keep working and my darling husband ends up sitting something on my desk when I’m on the inevitable phone call. I usually stop officially working around 5 or 6 unless I’ve scheduled a call with someone on the West Coast. In that case, I keep working until the call is over.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of working with authors?

My favorite part is getting to be a portion of the dream God created for their lives. That’s just so freaking cool! My least favorite part is when an author is unteachable – when they come in having a set idea of what should happen (with no background for having formed such) and are totally closed to adapting to the environment and reality. That makes the experience hard on everyone because the author is disappointed and the publicist feels as if she’s letting the author down.

What’s your favorite part of marketing?

Getting a “big” hit for a “little” author. Totally makes my day every time! My favorite part of the campaign is crafting the press materials and the branding. That’s the dreaming stage!

What things have you found work particularly well when marketing a book?

Figuring out the appropriate audience for that book, then learning enough about the audience to know what makes its members tick. What do they read? What do they watch? What do they listen to? Where do they spend time? The answers to those questions tell us where and how to promote the book.
Knowing and spotting trends is also very helpful. If I see a trend coming, I pitch it to media outlets. Their purpose is to report on what’s happening in the world around us. Letting them know what’s happening makes me an asset to them and a successful publicist – a win/win! So, for instance, let’s assume I know that 35 Christian science fiction books are releasing in August (I don’t – this is just an imagined scenario), then I pick up the phone and call a Fox News producer to see if they’d like to interview my author about that trend in August.

We all hear how subjective this business is. Can you elaborate on that?

There really is no objective bar by which to measure ourselves. What I think is a fabulous story may be junk to someone else because what entertains me doesn’t entertain everyone.
When you think about it, there’s really no reason to expect otherwise. We’re made in the image of an infinite God – infinite in being. Each of us has the tiniest portion of characteristics of His making. Before the Fall, all those characteristics probably worked in beautiful harmony together. Now, they war with each other. What one person calls art, another calls horrid. We lost the ability to see the complete picture, so we praise the portions that connect with our creation.
That’s why it’s so important to measure ourselves by His standard for our lives, not one we create ourselves by looking at everyone else.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give our readers about marketing?

Take the time to think through the image of your ideal reader. Why does that reader want to read your book? Knowing your audience tells you how to reach your audience.
Also, be teachable. My mom drilled this into me as a child. None of us knows everything, so listening to each other and being open to new information is nearly always a wise choice!

What are the biggest mistakes writers make when marketing their work?

Not tailoring the information to the outlet they’re pitching – which goes hand in hand with not knowing the outlet they’re pitching. Take the time to Google stuff. Find out what books the reviewer read in the past and liked – then reference that in your email or phone call or letter. Familiarize yourself with the outlet and you’ll know if your product is appropriate for them.

Do you have any parting words of advice?


Keep your head up! Twenty years ago, promotions folks could find a silver bullet that shot a book and author up the charts almost without fail. With the plethora of outlets in the world today (blogs, internet sites, radio, internet radio, podcasts, billboards, newspapers, magazines, newsletters, book clubs, libraries, bookstores, church libraries, reading groups, etc.), there is no longer a single magic bullet. There are forty bullets and they’ve all got to be aimed carefully. Now, more than ever, promotions at the grassroots level is what will consistently bring good results. As I told an author just this morning, it’s not sexy, but it gets books in bags.

To learn more about Rebeca and Glass Road Public Relations visit http://www.sistersink.net/ or http://www.glassroadpr.com/.

Debut Author ~ Missy Tippens

Born and raised in Kentucky, Missy met her very own hero when she headed off to grad school in Atlanta, Georgia. She promptly fell in love and hasn’t left Georgia since. She and her pastor husband have been married 20-plus years now, and have been blessed with three wonderful children along with an assortment of pets.

In L.B.C. (Life Before Children), Missy worked as a clinical microbiologist. Once she had her first baby, she retired to become a stay-at-home mom. She’s grateful to God that she was able to do that for 16 years and had the opportunity to pursue her writing during that time. Nowadays, in addition to her writing, she teaches as an adjunct instructor at a local technical college.

Missy is an award-winning writer and her debut novel, Her Unlikely Family, will be released in February 2008. She would love to hear from readers through her website.

I’m especially delighted to welcome Missy to Novel Journey. Missy is in my local ACFW WORD Chapter. Time to crow, my friend. What new book or project do you have coming out?

My first novel is coming out February 1 from Steeple Hill Love Inspired! It’s called Her Unlikely Family.

How did you come up with this story? Was there a specific ‘what if’ moment?

It’s been so long ago I can hardly remember! J But I do remember thinking what if? What if a stuffy blue-blooded bank owner gets together with a spunky waitress who is from a poor family? But then my brainstorming partner, Lindi Peterson, said, “What if you put a twist on it, and the waitress is actually from a wealthy family but doesn’t want to have anything to do with the wealth?” So I took her advice! Then I had to figure out how to throw the characters together.

Every novelist has a journey. How long was your road to publication? How did you find out and what went through your mind?

I started writing when I got my first computer in 1995. Soon after, I started taking online writing classes and followed up by joining Romance Writers of America, then the Faith, Hope and Love Chapter. I also joined my local chapter, Georgia Romance Writers. I learned tons from all these groups, and I started submitting—and getting rejections. I also started entering contests, and eventually started finaling.

My story, Michael’s Surrender, did really well in several contests, and I sent the contest-requested manuscript to Steeple Hill. On January 30, 2007, after going through two sets of revisions with my editor, I got The Call!! I was actually in shock after talking with the senior editor. But later that night, it finally sank in, and I was so excited my toes barely touched the ground.

Do you ever bang your head against the wall from the dreaded writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?

I recently had this for the first time ever. But it didn’t last long. It COULDN’T last long—I refused to allow it! (Yes, I’m stubborn.) I think it’s because I was putting too much pressure on myself to rush a proposal. I had to make myself chill out a little, to use my proven methods for plotting, and to trust God and the story itself.

Novelists sometimes dig themselves into a hole over implausible plots, flat characters or a host of other problems. What’s the most difficult part of writing for you?

The most difficult part for me was, and still is, conflict. In real life, I hate conflict. I avoid it at all costs. So it’s hard for me to torture my characters. But after working with an editor, I’m learning to be “meaner” from the beginning. To find out my characters’ worst nightmares and to throw that at them. I’m also working to make sure my conflict is book-length, not a series of conflicts that get resolved along the way. This will be a learning process my whole career!

How do you climb out?

Revise, revise, revise! And even when I think I’ve overcome it, I find that I still have problems. So I’m being more alert to my flaws early on in the plotting process. I’m tweaking my writing process as I go, learning more on each book what I should be doing. Plus, reading a lot helps too. I can learn from others what a good story should be like.

Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy attic nook?

A cave?! LOL! Well, sometimes I sure wish I had one! I have three children, and I’m set up to work on my laptop, right on the couch in the middle of the family room. I tried working at my desk in the basement, but it felt like dungeon to me. I like being in the middle of everything. I just have to tune it all out. I also try to work more during the day after teaching in the mornings but before the bus arrives in the afternoon. I tend to add more writing time at night after everyone else is in bed.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Get up at 6:30, help see the kids off to school, teach an 8:00 a.m. class at the local technical college, then go to Curves (this is something new for me!). Then I go home and try to make myself write before getting online. I try to work, with a quick lunch break, until 3 p.m. when my youngest child gets home. Then I take the afternoon off except for some online time.

I figure I’ll try to fit the Internet in with the chaos of homework. I often go back to writing at about 11 pm when my husband goes to bed. I used to work until 1 or 2 am, but I’m finding that I’m getting too old for that. I usually start falling asleep around midnight.

Some authors report writing 5-10 thousand words a day. Do scenes flow freely from your veins or do you have to tweeze each word out?

I can only dream about writing 10 thousand words in a day! But on a really, really good (and rare) day, I can do 5 thousand. I love getting into the flow and working for hours on end. But I’ve found that real life usually intervenes, so I’m left with short snatches of time.

I’m learning better how to deal with that by making sure I work every day (except Sunday usually) so that I can keep up with the flow of the book. My dream way to write would be to go away for a week by myself and write around the clock with time for eating brownies and junk food when necessary.

Briefly take us through your process of writing a novel—from conception to revision.

I usually have a what if scenario which involves characters who are opposites in some way. Then I start thinking of their backstory. I’ve found two how-to workbooks that have helped me take it from there. One is Alicia Rasley’s The Story Within Guidebook. The other is Carolyn Green’s Prescription for Plotting workbook. These have really helped me stay on track, especially Alicia’s chapters on conflict!

Once I’ve filled a legal pad with character info, sequences for how the characters will change and grow, scene ideas, etc., I start writing. I usually plow through the first 3 chapters, then struggle a little to do chapter 4. Then for some reason I hit a wall at chapter 5.

At that point, I take some time to re-read what I’ve written and to revise it. Then I move on. Once I get to the last few chapters, the writing flies by. I love to get to that happy ending! No more torture of my poor characters. *g*

After that, I begin a long revision process. I go through the book several times on paper. Then enter changes, send to my critique partner, and then make changes according to her feedback. Now that I finally have an editor, this is the point where she would get the book. And then the revisions start over again with her input. It’s been wonderful to work with an editor! I feel it made my first book so much better.

What are a few of your favorite books (not written by you) and why are they favorites?

Gosh, this is a hard one. I’ve loved so many books! One of the ones that made me cry (literally) and say, “I’ll never be able to write like this,” was Deborah Smith’s A Place to Call Home. Her books usually do that to me. But they give me something to aim for—stories that yank the heartstrings. To feel like I’ve done my job, I want to make people laugh and cry.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard?

Never give up. Persistence is more important than talent. Things along those lines. I stuck with it for over ten years and finally made my first sale.

What do you wish you’d known early in your career that might have saved you some time and/or frustration in writing? In publishing?

Keep writing and don’t just re-write the same stories over and over. Build up a collection of work so that once you publish, you have something else to offer them immediately. I’ve spent about 2 years on each of my first 5 manuscripts. I wish I had moved quicker and had spent more time practicing from scratch.

How much marketing do you do? What have you found that particularly works well for you?

Marketing isn’t something that comes naturally to me. It’s a stretch. But I do enjoy blogging and maintaining my own website. I haven’t had a book signing yet (except for a group signing for a book of short stories), so I’ll have to let you know what I think of them.

I’m so thankful for the Internet because I think that’s the way to go, and it’s very cost effective. I’m about to mail out some postcards (with the help of my family), so I’m hoping to get a good response to that for my first book signing and book launch party at my church on February 3. I am really nervous about it, though!

Do you have any parting words of advice?

Trust in God’s timing for your writing career. I was so impatient while waiting to sell, but once I did, I realized that I wouldn’t have been able to handle it any sooner. I was at a place in my life where I was ready, and I’m sure God knew that!

Thanks so much for having me here today! I’ve really enjoyed being with you.

The Secret to Fiction Publicity

Reprinted with permissionTess Gerritsen is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Stanford University. Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, and was awarded her M.D. in 1979. After completing her internal medicine residency, she worked as a physician in Honolulu, Hawaii. In 1987, Tess’s first novel was published. CALL AFTER MIDNIGHT, a romantic thriller, was soon followed by eight more romantic suspense novels. She also wrote a screenplay, “Adrift,” which aired as a 1993 CBS Movie of the Week starring Kate Jackson. Her thriller, Harvest was released in 1996, and marked Tess’s debut on the NEW YORK TIMES bestseller list. Film rights were sold to Paramount/Dreamworks, and the book was translated into twenty foreign languages. Now retired from medicine, Tess writes full time and lives in Maine

By Tess Gerritsen
I’ve just returned from a terrific 10-day promotional tour in England and Scotland, where I was once again impressed by how book tours really can make a difference, especially in a country that’s as geographically compact as the UK. In the US, touring novelists are challenged by long distances, frequent airline flights, disinterested media, and lackluster attendance at store events. In the UK, distances are manageable and I’ve been delighted by the numbers of people who turn up at my signings. In the U.S., I’ve sometimes traveled hundreds of miles to find only two people waiting to hear me speak. (One of them being the bookstore manager.)
But no matter where we go in the world, novelists face a similar challenge when it comes to getting media attention. Our books are fiction. Our characters don’t exist.

Why should a newspaper or radio station want to interview us about a story we simply pulled out of thin air?

“Fiction is hard,” publicists will tell you. And they’re absolutely right. Unless you’re J.K. Rowling or you’re already a celebrity of some kind, no one really wants to hear how you made up your story.
My solution has been to focus instead on the real-life background behind my stories.

At store events, I never read from my books. Instead, I try to teach them
things they didn’t know, things that they’ll find fascinating and even
useful.

For THE BONE GARDEN, I spoke for 45 minutes about the history and horrors of childbed fever, and about the 19th-century medical heroes who eventually ended the scourge. I told of the tragic story of Ignaz Semmelweis and the genius of Oliver Wendell Holmes and the primitive conditions of hospitals in 1830. I read a passage from an early surgical textbook on how to amputate a thigh, which invariably made people squirm in their chairs. (But they did stay and listen.)

I probably spent only two minutes total describing the plot of THE BONE GARDEN.

Almost all of my talk was focused on an era in medical history that would give anyone nightmares. I wasn’t playing the part of novelist, but of history teacher.
No doubt there are many readers who’d prefer to hear an author read from his work, but I’ve aways loved hearing a good lecture, so it’s the way I’ve always done it. For MEPHISTO CLUB, I gave a talk on ancient religious texts. For VANISH, I discussed the phenomenon of people being mistaken for dead. (Believe me, a few hair-raising examples was enough to get the audience squirming.) I like to think that by the time they leave, they’ve learned something they didn’t know before. Something interesting.
One of the benefits of doing it this way is that it can snag the media’s interest. I’m more than just another novelist who’s made up a story; I’m someone who can offer educated commentary on a real-life topic.
Last Tuesday, I was lucky enough to be a guest on one of the most popular shows on BBC Radio, “Woman’s Hour,” hosted by Jenni Murray. I was invited on the show not because I was a novelist, but because I could talk about childbed fever. Along with medical historian Dr. Hilary Morland, we covered a topic that was both scary and useful to Jenni’s listeners. Plus, Jenni promoted my book. Which is about the best advertisement I could hope for.
Would I have been invited on the show if I’d written just another psycho-killer tale? I highly doubt it. What could I possibly have said about my psycho-killer novel that would be relevant to her audience? “There are creeps out there, so watch out”? That’s hardly special, and something any other crime writer could have spouted.

If you’re a novelist headed out on tour, try to talk about more than
just your plot and your characters. Think about the cool stuff you
learned during your research, or something about the setting or the science that the public would love to know.

Give them nuggets of information that they can’t wait to share with their friends.
Maybe if we all did this, publicists would stop telling us “fiction is hard.”

Rethinking Writing Rules – Pt. 1

By Mike Duran

I’m a legalist by nature, so it’s no surprise I got bogged down by writing rules. I’m not talking about the Strunk and White type of rules, the standard principles of grammar and composition. There’s “other” rules for contemporary novel writing, formulas for publication which some hold to be just as binding as rules of spelling and punctuation.

Some of those rules are:

  • Show Don’t Tell — Use action and dialog rather than exposition
  • POV — Maintain a consistent, realistic narrative point-of-view; don’t “head hop” from one person to the next in the same scene
  • Avoid Passives — Keep tenses active; “Shirley broke the window,” not “The window was broken by Shirley”
  • Limit Dialogue Attribution Tags — Avoid too many he said / she said’s, and their variants: “he snorted,” “she chirped,” “they gurgled,” etc.

Of course, there’s many other rules and shifting stands (see, for instance, the recent discussion about the use of italics at super-agent Chip MacGregor’s blog), but those are some of the biggies.

Being that I’m fairly new to this gig, I’ve learned a lot of things on the fly. For instance, once I wrote a 6K word story in Present Tense. Present tense sounds something like this:

Shirley sees a rock, bends down and picks it up. It is sharp and cold to the touch, but it’ll do. She aims for the window and hurls the stone, then tears off as the glass shatters and Mrs. Mulligan emerges spouting expletives.

As you can see, present tense puts things in the here and now, rather than there and then.

Anyway, I wrote that story, was fairly pleased with my accomplishment, and submitted it to my critique group. But their response shocked me. Most publishers don’t like present tense, they said. In fact, one critter stated they personally so abhorred present tense that they COULD NOT critique my piece. Huh?

My puzzlement stemmed, in part, from the fact I’d just finished reading a short story from a popular author, written in present tense. Go figger. That was my first encounter with the weird world of writing rules.

When asked what “pet peeves” she had about the industry, one CBA romance writer said this:

With so many writing rules that new authors have to follow, it’s hard for me to read writers who don’t follow the rules. I can’t hardly read one writer who was one of my favorites for years because that person tells instead of shows, head hops, and has lots of author intrusion. I never noticed those things before I became a writer, but now they jump out at me and can ruin the story.

(I’m guessing this author would loathe Cormac MacCarthy’s, The Road, with its minimalist style, multitudinous fragmentary sentences, absence of quotation marks and apostrophes, and obvious disregard for many, many “writing rules.” And oh, by the way, a book that won the Pulitzer Prize.)

Most intriguing about all this, and rather tertiary to the above author’s comments, is the notion that new writers must follow a set of rules. However, the rules in question were not necessarily standards of grammar and composition, but adherence to certain commercial, conventional axioms — formulas, if you will — for publication. (Heck, for the longest time I thought Brown and King was a book in the Bible, and questioning them was blasphemy.)

So while I worked hard at following the rules, eventually I began to see a disparity between some of what I was learning and what was actually being published. This was extremely confusing. The biggest hit came when I read a very influential Christian writer… only to discover he “head-hopped’ like crazy. The guy had sold a million books, but he couldn’t manage POV!

Hmm. Maybe the problem was what I was learning, not what was being published.

After a season of legalism, Stephen Koch’s book, The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop, was revelatory. In it, he writes this about POV:

Many teachers of writing will tell you that the way to unify your story and integrate it with its characters is through something called the narrative “point of view.” There are even certain purists who will insist that an “integrated point of view” is the only way a narrative can achieve unity. . .

. . .The academic emphasis on “point of view” in fiction is precisely that — academic. The notion that “the most important thing in fiction is point of view” is a beguiling but vacuous theory that bears only a marginal relation to real practice. And it causes vast amounts of misunderstanding.

. . .Of course, a consistent point of view can indeed be a guide to unity, and of course, you will want your prose to have a coherent texture. But it is a mistake to assume that point of view itself necessarily endows any story with either unity or coherence. Too often, this rather fussy doctrine pointlessly constricts writers’ options and narrows their range.

(pp. 88-90)

After my early “indoctrination,” it was refreshing to hear the POV rules called, “…a beguiling but vacuous theory… [a] rather fussy doctrine [that] pointlessly constricts writers’ options and narrows their range.”

I’ve since began to wonder if, at least in Christian circles, a type of authorial inbreeding is taking place. We attend the same writers’ conferences, read the same books, visit the same blogs. Aren’t we in danger of living in an echo chamber, devising a “canon” of our own making?

When one lives under the notion that success — i.e., publication, i.e., the “Holy Grail” of aspiring authors — means adherence to a certain set of “rules,” legalism is inevitable.

Continued…