"It was not you who chose me, it was I who chose you to go forth and bear fruit." ~~John 15:16~~

Friday, July 23, 2010

Prayers for Our Nation

A friend sent me the following in an email. I thought you might be interested...

2nd Chronicles 7:14 states, "If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

Someone has said that if Christians really understood the full extent of the power we have available through prayer, we might be speechless.

Did you know that during WWII there was an advisor to Churchill who organized a group of people who dropped what they were doing everyday at a prescribed hour for one minute to collectively pray for the safety of England, its people, and peace?

There is now a group of people organizing the same thing here in America . If you would like to participate: Every evening at 9:00 PM Eastern Time (8:00 PM Central) (7:00 PM Mountain) (6:00 PM Pacific), stop whatever you are doing and spend one minute praying for the safety of the United States, our troops, our citizens, and for a return to a Godly nation.

If you know anyone else who would like to participate, please pass this along. Our prayers are the most powerful asset we have.

Wishing you abundant blessings!

With prayers and love,


Tuesday, July 20, 2010


One of the main reasons for submitting to contests prior to publication is to attract the attention of an editor or agent. Sure, the awards are nice to receive, and the credits look great in a cover letter, but bottom line, writers want to sell their stories. To do that, manuscripts need to be requested and read. So if a particular submission doesn’t make the final round in a contest, what’s Plan B? Pitch the story at a writing conference!

With the RWA National Conference approaching in July and the ACFW in September, I thought it might be interesting to throw out some ideas about how to pitch. My advice? Keep is simple.

First impressions are important. Start with a firm handshake and warm smile as you introduce yourself. Thank the editor for taking time to meet with you and/or for coming to the conference. A minute spent exchanging pleasantries—perhaps ask about her flight or if she’s had a chance to see the sights in the local area—can put you both at ease. Yes, believe it or not, the editors and agents are sometimes as nervous meeting you as you are about meeting them.

Now sell yourself. The clock is ticking so pick and choose a few facts that will give the editor/agent an idea about your professionalism, your commitment and your expertise. Be sure to mention your writing credits, such as any magazine or newspaper articles you’ve had published. Don’t forget web publications or chapter newsletters, especially if you’ve done a series of articles or how-to pieces. Have you presented workshops at writing conferences? That would be of interest to the editor as well.

The editor/agent wants to know if you’re new to writing or established. Give her some sense of how long you’ve been working on your craft either in years or the number of manuscripts you’ve completed. (Remember a manuscript is an unpublished story. The story becomes a book once it’s in print.) Are you a member of professional writing organizations? Don’t forget to mention any offices you hold.

Contest wins? If you’ve won a number of them, summarize: “I’ve won ten national writing awards, including . . .” Then mention some of the more prestigious wins. Or you could say, “I’ve finaled in a number of contests, and the story I want to talk to you about today won the Maggie Award of Excellence and the Jasmine.”

If you have expertise or training in an area that plays a part in your story, be sure to include that information, such as if you have a law degree and your story is a legal thriller. But expertise doesn’t have to be limited to higher education. If you ran a dude ranch in Colorado and that’s the role you’ve given your heroine, the editor will enjoy hearing that you’re writing what you know.

Now sell the story. Word count, genre and whether the manuscript is completed are important. If you’ve targeted a specific line the editor publishes, be sure to mention that as well.Just as stories should start with a riveting opening, so should the pitch.

Can you come up with a high concept, hook or one-liner she’ll remember? What’s high concept? In his book, WRITING SCREENPLAYS THAT SELL, Michael Hauge says, “If that single sentence describing your story idea(s) is enough all by itself to get people to line up or tune in to see the movie, then it has a high concept.” He goes on to provide the following high concept for WAR GAMES, “A teenager computer genius breaks into the Pentagon computer system and has to prevent World War III.” Hauge is talking about movies and screenplays, but high concepts work for manuscripts as well.

Another possible opening is to throw out a question pertaining to your book that catches the editor/agent by surprise. “What would you do if TSA found a bomb ready to detonate in your carry-on luggage?” You’ve got her attention, now tell her about how your sassy heroine caused a national stir when she grabbed someone else’s luggage off the airport shuttle and the bag contained an explosive device.

Remember less is sometimes better. Donald Maass, in his WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK, says, “All I need to get hooked on a story is to know its category, the setting, the protagonist, and the main problem. Add to that one unusual detail that makes this story different from any other like it, and you’ve probably got me.”

For my first novel, NOWHERE TO HIDE, my one-liner was, “When the men who killed Lydia Sloan’s husband try to kidnap her six-year-old son, she and Tyler flee to an island community off the coast of Georgia and run headlong into the trouble they were trying to escape.” I added that, unbeknownst to Lydia, her husband freelanced as the Web master for a gentleman’s club porn site.

For SCARED TO DEATH, my second Love Inspired Suspense, I started my pitch by saying, “Kate Murphy never expects a quick trip to Mercy, Georgia, to retrieve her grandfather’s missing gold cross will land her in the middle of a transplant tourist racket.”

After you’ve thrown out your hook, reel the editor in with a few comments about the story, especially plot points that drive the protagonist to the climax. You could mention the hero’s greatest fear or greatest need or how the characters change, what they learn, what they overcome, who they save, etc. Again, keep it brief.

For my third release, I used the following: In MIA: MISSING IN ATLANTA, a returning war hero’s search for a missing girlfriend leads him through the dark side of inner-city exploitation to a woman of faith who teaches him that memories of the past are not always as they seem and authentic love is grounded in truth.

Be prepared to provide information on another manuscript if the editor asks what else you’ve written.

Pitching to an agent? She’ll want to know if an editor’s shown interest in the story or requested a submission so include that as well.

The ending is as important as the beginning. Know when to stop so the editor/agent can ask questions. Once you’ve satisfied her curiosity, ask if she would be interested in seeing three chapters and a synopsis or the full manuscript.

Nothing else you need to discuss? Then thank her, shake hands and leave the room, even if you haven’t used up your allotted time. The editor or agent will appreciate having a minute to relax. Hopefully, she’ll make a note on her tablet about the polite and professional writer with whom she just spoke.

One sheet: Some Christian houses request a one sheet when you pitch. Compile some of the personal information mentioned above and add a short blurb about the manuscript. Place your address, phone and email at the top of the page along with a downloaded photo of yourself. Even though you hand the one sheet to the editor or agent, be sure to mention a few of your professional accomplishments and credits at the beginning of your meeting.

Practice makes perfect so start working on your pitch now! Good luck!

You'll find this article and others on my Web site, http://www.debbygiusti.com/. With the RWA National Conference next week, I thought it might be time to review the tips on pitching. I'm praying for everyone who plans to meet with an agent or editor. Stop by my table at the Literacy Autographing next WED so we can pray together. God always has a way of calming frayed nerves. Plus, I'll be handing out The Writer's Prayer and my new--just off the press--Prayer for Our Military. Hope to see you in Orlando!

With love and prayers,

Stop by Seekerville, http://www.seekerville.blogspot.com/, on WED, July 21, for a chance to win one of my books--title of your choosing--and a $10 gift card to Starbucks!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Laughing Out Loud!!!

A little laughter always makes the day more fun! I just checked out the Seekerville weekend edition posted by our web guru Tina Radcliff. She outdid herself this time by including pics of a few of the Seekers in Super Hero attire.

She connected me with the military femme fatale pictured left and named me, THE GENERAL.

Thanks, Tina! I'm laughing out loud!

If you want more laughter, log onto Seekerville this Wednesday, July 21st, when I'll be blogging about writers, Jeff Foxworthy-style. Bring your creativity and leave your email addy to be included in a drawing for one of my books--title of your choosing--and a $10 gift card to Starbucks!

Good news...I talked to the dear woman who ended up having four surgeries on her spine less than a month ago. She sounds wonderful and is feeling stronger each day, but still needs our prayers!

I also talked to my son in Iraq today. In fact, I called him. Not sure what type of new phone system he was able to get through his computer, but when he's logged on, his cell phone activates. Thank goodness for technology. He sounded great, but tired. There's a seven-hour time difference, and I caught him at the end of long, long workday. Here's a shout-out to all our military heroes and heroines and prayers for their protection and safe return home at the end of their deployments.

Wishing you all a joyous Sunday!

Love and prayers,

Friday, July 16, 2010

Military Care Packages

Yesterday I stopped at WalMart and stocked up on some items to pack in a care box for my son in Iraq. He needed a headband-mounted flashlight for when he walks around his FOB--Forward Operating Base--at night. After finding the biggest and brightest light WalMart carried, I headed to the gum and candy aisle for some of his favorites--red licorice, DOTS, Gummy Bears. I tossed in specialty cracker, small cans of tuna, Chap stick, trail mix and a few other non-perishable items that would fill up the box.

If you're mailing to someone in the military, be sure to use the special boxes at the Post Office made especially for APO addresses. The boxes have a fixed rate that's a bit cheaper than other priority shipments.

Thanks for adding your prayers with mine for our men and women in uniform...as well as the loved ones who anxiously await their return.

I know so many people are struggling financially in these hard times. Let's pray for all those seeking employment or those who find it tough to make ends meet. Now might be a good time to make a donation to a local food pantry or other church-based organization that helps the poor in your area.

Prayers for all who are in hospitals or nursing homes, those scheduled for surgery or fighting cancer. Lord, keep them strong and allow them to feel your mercy and love.

As always, I'm praying for everyone in the Cross My Heart Prayer Team. May the work of our hands bear good fruit!

Love and prayers,

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Prayers for our Military!

My son deployed to Iraq (for the third time) right after the Fourth of July. I know so many of you join me in praying for our military each day. Thank you! The men and women in uniform are in harms way and far from their families. Plus, the workday never ends. No weekends. No holidays. Long hours and a hectic pace means they need our prayers and our support.

I've written a prayer for our military that I'll be distributing at the National Romance Writers of America Conference in two weeks. If you're there, be sure to say hello!

Thanks for praying for our military and for all in the Cross My Heart Prayer Team so that the work of our hands will bear good fruit.

You're in my prayers!