Genre Chat – From the Archives – Bob Hostetler – On Co-Writing

Genre Chat – From the Archives – Bob Hostetler – On Co-Writing


Bob Hostetler is an award-winning writer, editor, speaker, and literary agent from southwestern Ohio. His fifty books, which include The Bone Box and American Idols (The Worship of the American Dream), have sold millions of copies. He has co-authored eleven books with Josh McDowell, including the best-selling Right from Wrong (What You Need to Know to Help Youth Make Right Choices) and the award-winning Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door. He has won two Gold Medallion Awards, four Ohio Associated Press awards, and an Amy Foundation Award, among others. Bob is also a frequent speaker at churches, conferences, and retreats.

Bob was ordained to the ministry in 1980 by The Salvation Army. He and his wife, the lovely Robin, served in The Salvation Army from 1980-1992.

Bob is a literary agent with The Steve Laube Agency (see the welcome post on the Steve Laube Agency website here). Bob has been involved in Christian publishing for thirty years and has been represented by Steve Laube for more than a dozen years, so adding the role of agent to his work seems natural. The Steve Laube Agency is among the most respected in publishing today, representing an impressive array of authors.

Bob also serves as executive editor for the new Christian Writers Institute, offering online video and audio courses, books, and other resources for the development of Christian writers.

Genre Chat – A Writer’s Focus for the New Year – Cherrilynn Bisbano

Genre Chat – A Writer’s Focus for the New Year – Cherrilynn Bisbano

Cherrilynn Bisbano is an award-winning writer. She founded The Write Proposal after reading hundreds of book proposals with avoidable errors. These errors cost the author a contract or representation. As a submission reader and junior literary agent, Cherrilynn wants you to succeed. Her desire is to help you present a professional and memorable proposal. She has written proposals for Paws for Effect, a Hollywood movie company, and helped edit many proposals. As the managing editor of Almost an Author, she helped the website earn the #6 spot on the Top 100 best writing websites for 2018 by The Write Life and Top 101 Websites for writers with Writers Digest.

Cherrilynn can be reached at
For more information about the Write Proposal visit

Show Notes

     The New Year is just around the corner. As writers, it’s important to fine tune our senses and discipline our minds so that we can capture the events unfolding around us and share the experience with others. We’ve compiled a list of personal goals that we hope will serve as a guide to refocusing the writer’s mind in the New Year.

1. You don’t have to wait for a New Year to refocus your mind. You don’t even have to wait for a new day. You can refocus your writing journey in a new second. The most important choice is the next one, because that choice can change everything.

2. Treat writing as a job, and not as a hobby. A dedicated writer is not defined by whether or not they are published, but by how seriously they take their writing career. Write every day. Start with small attainable goals, even if it’s just 15 minutes of writing a day. Write even when inspiration isn’t there and doesn’t seem to come. Some of the best scenes and chapters are written when you draw from your skill and talent rather than random spikes of inspiration.

3. Every good writer is a good reader. Studying the craft is important for every writer, no matter where they are in the journey to publication. Even bestselling authors constantly improve their skill and read other bestselling books to deepen their knowledge of the craft. Reading allows us to observe the subtle techniques of good writing.

4. Write about your experiences. During each experience, whether stressful, beautiful or exciting, view each moment through a writer’s perspective. Take note of how each emotion catches in your chest. How can those feelings be described in such a way that a reader would identify and share the emotion with you or your character? Stop, look and listen to the world around you. Listen to the way people converse in a restaurant. Absorb every sound in nature. Learn from the technical jargon used in doctors’ offices and repair shops. Details observed in the chaotic dance of every environment can make your stories vibrant.

5. Network with other writers and broaden your knowledge of the craft. Many writers’ websites, including Serious Writer, have courses and content on the craft of writing. Attending a writers’ conference broadens an author’s opportunity and creates amazing connections with other writers.

Write for knowledge, write for entertainment and write for healing. We are communicators, and whether our writing inspires one person or millions, each word is worth our full passion and dedication. Each New Year provides a clean slate, but every moment is a new start.

Genre Chat – Cherrilynn Bisbano – Book Proposals for Different Genres

Genre Chat – Cherrilynn Bisbano – Book Proposals for Different Genres

Cherrilynn Bisbano is an award-winning writer. She founded The Write Proposal after reading hundreds of book proposals with avoidable errors. These errors cost the author a contract or representation. As a submission reader and junior literary agent, Cherrilynn wants you to succeed. Her desire is to help you present a professional and memorable proposal. She has written proposals for Paws for Effect, a Hollywood movie company, and helped edit many proposals. As the managing editor of Almost an Author, she helped the website earn the #6 spot on the Top 100 best writing websites for 2018 by The Write Life and Top 101 Websites for writers with Writers Digest.

Cherrilynn can be reached at
For more information about the Write Proposal visit

Show Notes:

     Cherrilynn Bisbano is the founder of The Write Proposal, a company that specializes in coaching writers from around the world to creating professional book proposals for every genre of writing. Cherrilynn’s team includes freelance copyrighter and marketing strategist Holland Webb, and award winning editor Crystal Phelps. She was generous enough to share the basic structure of a book proposal and how the different elements change across genres.
The book proposal is the first impression that publishers get about you, your writing, and your professionalism. Publishers don’t have the time or resources to get to know every submitting author individually, so the proposal works as a type of resume that gives insight into your book and skills as a writer.

When to start the process:

In nonfiction writing, some people recommend writing the book proposal ahead of time, because it can be an outline for the writing process. In fiction writing, parts of the proposal can be compiled as the book is being written, such as the biography and marketing research. However, the synopsis should be written after the first draft is finished, because the story often changes as the writing process progresses. The proposal for a children’s book should also be written after the book is completed, but the proposal for children’s books are much different than those for different genres.
The first step is to go to the website of the agent or publisher to which the proposal is being submitted. If submitting directly to a publisher, make sure that they are accepting books proposals, and that they are interested in proposals for your particular genre. Always check the submission guidelines for that particular agent or publisher.

The following is a generalized format based on what the majority of agents and publishers expect in a book proposal.

     The Title Page includes the author’s name, address, email, and the title and subtitle of the book. If working with an agent, their name should also be listed. Be sure to include the genre and word count of the book.

     The Table of Contents is for the proposal itself, not for the book that is being submitted.

     The One Page Sell Sheet should include the title, genre and word count. It should include a tagline to hook the agent or publisher’s attention. (This section is different from a One Sheet that is often presented at writer’s conferences.) This section should also include the back cover copy for the book. This is the opening summary of the story that is often found on the back cover or inside flap of published books, but should not give away the story’s ending. Include an abbreviated bio, which can detail facts about your writing experience and achievements. Lastly, the One Page Sell Sheet should explain why you are the person to write this book. The only graphic on this page should be a current headshot of the author.

The Biographical Sketch (a.k.a. the Author Page) functions as a resume for the author. This includes your writing experience, education and prior publishing history. You can also list the number of people you reach through social media platforms. Provide a current headshot. This is different from the One Page Sell Sheet, which provides one or two lines about the author. The Biographical Sketch gives much more detail.

     The Story Synopsis or Chapter Review is different with fiction and non-fiction. For a fiction book, the synopsis is typically one to three pages summarizing the story from beginning to end. For non-fiction book proposals, this section should include a summary of each chapter in the book. For children’s books, each page of the book should be shown in spreads that include both the writing and illustrations.

     The Market Analysis identifies the audience for the proposed book. It should include the identity of the audience, the age, gender, location and income level of the average reader in that audience. This is where a lot of research must be done in the genre. Statistics on sales of similar books should be included, as well as statistics on blogs and magazines with similar content. You must demonstrate that there is an audience for your book, and who that audience will be. Consider special interest groups that would be interested in reading the book. It’s also important to explain how your book meets a need for readers.

     The Competitive Analysis deals heavily with current trends in the industry. This section compares your book with other successful books in the same genre. Make a list of seven to ten books that tell the same type of story or give the same type of information as your book. They should each have been written within the last five years. Make sure to compare your book to best sellers. Do not list any self-published books, unless that book has been wildly successful, selling eight thousand or more copies in its first year of publication.

The following information should be included about each book:
– Title/subtitle
– Author
– Publisher
– Copyright year
– Number of pages
– Format (paperback, hardback or ebook)
– Retail price

When comparing and contrasting each of these books to your own, ask the following questions:
– How is my book similar?
– How is my book different?
– What promise does the author make to the reader?
– What promise do I make to the reader that is different or similar?
– How are my credentials similar to the author’s?

Make sure to never criticize the authors of these books, but simply compare and contrast their work to yours. It is not necessary to read each of the seven to ten books listed. Read as many as possible and make sure you are very familiar with each of them.

The Marketing Plan is the first place to which some agents and publishers look. This is where an in depth analysis of the author’s platform is given. First, give a general statement about the number of people in the author’s platform. Then, break down each element of the author platform to show how the large number was calculated. This section must prove that the author has a large enough following to sell eight to ten thousand books within the first year of publication.
When calculating the platform reach, the author should include every avenue he or she has to publicize the book. This includes religious affiliation, Facebook groups, and social media followers. Ask Facebook and Twitter connections to help spread the word about your book when it is released. If these social media friends have large numbers of followers, that number can be included when calculating the platform reach. Local newspapers, alumni magazines and business newsletters can also provide additional marketing avenues.

Next, list any Endorsements for the book, and the History of the Manuscript.

Finally, provide three sample chapters of the book.

Sometimes, the proposal seems to require more work than the book itself, but a well crafted proposal is vital to the publication process. Without it, there is no way for the agent or publisher to learn about you or your book.

Genre Chat – Diann Mills – Mystery, Suspense, & Thriller

Genre Chat – Diann Mills – Mystery, Suspense, & Thriller

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association; International Thriller Writers, and the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of Romance Writers of America. She is co-director of Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.


Mystery, Suspense and Thriller – Show Notes

Cherrilynn: DiAnn, can you tell us why you got into this genre, and what you do to get your story?

DiAnn: I would never have started writing if my husband hadn’t dared me. Sometimes we just need that push. What he said to me back in ’96 – he said “Stop telling me that you’re going to write a book. Just do it!” If you’re viewers out there just need that little extra punch, I’m challenging all of you to get started now. I started out writing romance, both historical and contemporary. But my heart was in the mystery and suspense. The biggest reason is this – we live in a dangerous and unpredictable world. And I want to be able to provide stories that show there are trained people out there who are willing to go the extra mile, who are willing to sacrifice, who are noble role models for the readers.

Cherrilynn: Can you tell us the difference between a mystery, a suspense, and a thriller?

DiAnn: Mystery is when you have an investigator – someone who is probing into a crime that has been completed. Who-done-it is the basis. Suspense is like a dripping faucet. “We have got to end this horrible wave of crimes” or “We have to stop somebody before this horrible deadline.” And that dripping faucet, that ticking clock, that hourglass that sand is trickling through – that’s what makes it suspenseful. Someone is in peril.
Then we move on to the thriller. The thriller has more impact. “If we don’t find out who’s behind these bombings, then our cities are going to be destroyed.” Or it’s a countrywide, or nationwide, or maybe a people group. A thriller takes in a huge area of concern.

Caleb: How do you come up with your story ideas?

DiAnn: I go with a “what if”. That is my root foundation. I either see a movie, or often media headlines. For example the book that’s coming out in October – Burden of Proof – what happens if the hostage negotiator becomes the hostage? And I just played with that until I could find a character who would have the most to lose, the most to gain, the highest stakes. What does she have working against them? Where could I put them? In this case it was East Texas. Whatever I can toss against my protagonist, I’m going to do it, including the setting. No setting is worth its salt unless it’s antagonistic. Don’t make it easy on your protagonist.

Cherrilynn: I believe you go above and beyond what most writers do for your research. Can you talk a little bit about what you do to research a novel, and what is the most dangerous position you’ve put yourself in to get the details.

DiAnn: All I can say is it’s a good thing I’ve never placed a story on the moon, because I really do try to walk where my characters have walked – do what they do.

DiAnn has traveled to Southern Sudan and ridden along the Rio Grande with the Border Patrol researching the settings for her novels.

DiAnn: I will say that I got smarter about my research, and when I was writing about the FBI, I called the FBI in Houston and forged a beautiful relationship that has extended to a contact who’s helping me now in DC at FBI Headquarters. I’m very blessed, because I don’t want to put anything out there that isn’t true.

Caleb: Where do you start when you’re coming up with characters? What’s the first thing that helps you form them in your mind?

DiAnn: Who has the most to lose? In the book that comes out in October – what if an FBI Hostage Negotiator put her life on the line because she believed the criminal was innocent. What’s that doing to her career? How many sacrifices will she make? You have to open your mind to the possibility of anything happening.

Cherrilynn: I know you had told us that you were an organic writer. How does that play in?

DiAnn: I’m all about character and the “what if”. I never know how it’s going to end. I know that I want to throw a big wrench in the middle. I have an idea of the scenes that I want to put in that novel, but as far as sitting down and plotting – no. To me that destroys the creativity. But I’m not saying that won’t work for you. I would venture to say that no two writers look at the process quite the same way.

Caleb: Do you ever see the ending coming when you’re starting a novel? If so, does the ending usually change as the story progresses?

DiAnn: It usually changes. How am I going to get them there in a way that is credible and unpredictable? Am I going to eliminate the bad guy at the end? Do I want him to simply go through the legal process? The FBI shoots to kill. What’s going to work out best for the story? I have to keep all that in mind.

Caleb: You’ve also written some non-fiction. What was the greatest challenge from switching from the world of fiction to the non-fiction world?

DiAnn: I’m all about putting the reader in the character’s shoes. In non-fiction you’re not doing that. Emotion is there, but it’s a whole different ball game, because you are encouraging. For me, I’m talking about my non-fiction book “Dance of Character and Plot.” In nonfiction, it has to be in order. It needs to be as exciting as a novel, because we want them to take action. And because of that, it was very difficult. Writing non-fiction to me is like trying to teach a class and make it as exciting as possible.

Cherrilynn: If you had one minute to give a tip to a writer, what would that tip be.

DiAnn: Read – write – pray – repeat. If I could add number four, it would be “edit”. Read everything you can get your hands on. Write: give yourself a word count, and stick to it, and do it every day. I don’t care if it’s a hundred words. And pray. “Where do you want me, God?”

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at