D. Writer’s Helper

Welcome to my Writers’ Helper Page

What will you find here?

Posts of interest to writers on the craft of Writing,

and information on Editing, Marketing, Publishing,

and attending Writers’ Conferences.



I do not claim to be an expert, but I have learned a thing or two in the past 14 years…

If you are a ‘new writer’, or perhaps I should qualify this with ‘pre-published writer’,

This is the Best Advice I can share with you:

Don’t submit that first manuscript to a publisher immediately after you type those beautiful words, ‘The End’.  Don’t even consider doing so!  You just completed a ‘first draft’, and more than likely, not a manuscript ready for publication.  I understand the excitement you feel at that monumental moment.  It’s a feeling that is difficult to explain to anyone who has not completed a full length novel. I know you are happy and relieved and immensely proud of yourself for the achievement, and You Should Be, but please do not prematurely surrender to your emotions. A lot of people begin novels or even begin multiple novels, but many give up, so the feeling you get when you COMPLETE your first full length novel is hard to match, and justified. This is a Christian blog, so I hesitate to resort to physically intimate terms, but after I completed my first full length (150K word) novel 8-years ago, it was every bit as stimulating and satisfying as physical, intimate relations. Better still, it was my baby.  Since, I have worked on several novels (and each is special to me), but ask any mother, that first-born child is always special.

So, you ask, what do I do?  You sit back, relax and enjoy the ‘first victory’ in the long and arduous battle to publication.  Or, if you write for your own enjoyment like me, then you spend some time considering whether or not you even want to pursue publication. It might be that your story is something so personal you don’t desire to share it with the world.  If so, that’s fine too.  But, most of us eventually realize that our story deserves a broader audience, and it might be a bit selfish not to share, so we move to the next step.

Next comes the re-reads and multiple edits and feedback solicitations, after which you must make a decision.  Should you then move to a professional editor?  I think, if you are serious about releasing a story worthy of publication, then you should consider hiring a professional editor.  (Note: There are multiple steps in this process as well.)

Next comes the Agent process…Do you have one?  Networking with other writers can be invaluable at this point.  Few Publishing Houses will accept unsolicited manuscripts so you are pretty much required to seek the representation of an Agent if you are planning to present to the traditional publishing houses.  Tip:  Make sure you do your homework and find someone who is reputable and specializes in your genre. Check them out and don’t settle for the first one that you see.  I reiterate, do your homework.

Okay, there is also the option of self-publishing.  If you have tried a traditional publisher and your story does not fit their needs at the time, Do not give up!  If you believe in your story and your editors validate these convictions, then I believe it is worth it to consider self-publishing. In this day and age, especially if you have a strong social media presence, you might initially take this direction.  I understand self-publishing-promotion is hard work, but the payback can be considerable, compared to that of a traditional publisher because you get to keep your book, instead of surrendering it to the publisher.  After your initial investment (editors/cover art/formatting/etc.), most of the profits are paid to you, versus just a small percentage from a traditional publisher.  What is good for one might not be right for another, but more writers are going this route every day.  ->But please spend ample time and effort editing your manuscript to ensure your finished product is deserving of the passion you feel for your characters and your story.  Just don’t give up!  Blessings, -RK


A. Listing of Reference Books (I use)

B. Links to Publishing Houses

C. Links to sites offering Help to Writers

D. Links to Literary Agencies

E. Conference Help for Writers



Some of the most useful aides to my writing are…

A.  Reference Books and Books on the Craft of Writing. 

I thought about putting a list together for sharing, but then I thought…’Why not simply share with my readers the books I actually purchased?’  Yes, I could easily share a list of ‘popular offerings’ I copied off a publisher’s site or perhaps another writer’s blog, but that would not carry as much weight as the books I read, re-read, highlight and reference. So, here they are (in no particular order):


The Holy Bible / Lockman Foundation 1963 Edition (My favorite book to read, study, and reference. Pretty much my guide book for life)

The First Five Pages / Noah Lukeman (Anything by Lukeman is worth the read, but please study The First Five Pages)

The Practical Stylist / Sheridan Baker (My ‘writing bible’ when I was in college- I love this book and attribute any/all A’s I received on writing assignments to this book. I think it should be required reading for all college freshman.)

Writing the Breakout Novel / Donald Maass (Excellent)

The Everything Guide to Writing a Romance Novel / Christie Craig & Faye Hughes

On Writing / Stephen King (Need I say more…?)

A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation / Noah Lukeman

The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life / Noah Lukeman

How To Land (and Keep) A Literary Agent / Noah Lukeman (Lukeman, a sought after NY agent, has the ‘scoop’ on various attributes associated with why manuscripts are either selected or rejected. Good info.)

How To Write a Great Query Letter: Insider Tips and Techniques for Success / Noah Lukeman (Most writers fear the words ‘query letter’)

Breathing Life into your Characters / Rachel Ballon

Dialogue / Gloria Kempton

45 Master Characters / Victoria Lynn Schmidt

Description & Setting / Ron Rozelle (Good stuff)

Webster’s New World Dictionary and Thesaurus / WNWD Michael Agnes & Charlton Laird

The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing / The Editors of Writer’s Digest

You Can Write a Novel / James V. Smith, Jr.

On Writing Romance / Leigh Michaels

You Can Write a Romance / Rita Clay Estrada & Rita Gallagher (These terrific ladies helped start the fabulous Romance Writers of America)

The Writer’s Digest Character Naming Sourcebook / Sherrilyn Kenyon (This is such a ‘fun’ book. When God blesses our family with a new arrival, I find myself looking up their name, every time.)

Scene & Structure / Jack M. Bickham

Rivet Your Readers With Deep Point of View / Jill Elizabeth Nelson

Writer’s Guide to Character Traits / Linda N. Edelstein

The Writer’s Digest Magazine on DVD (10 years) / The Writer’s Digest

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers / Renni Browne & Dave King (Excellent – Love this one.)

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression / Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

The Thinker’s Thesaurus / Peter E. Meltzer

The Describer’s Dictionary / David Grambs

100 Words for Lovers / Editors American Heritage Dictionaries (Ah, romance)

100 Words Almost Everyone Mispronounces / Editors American Heritage  Dictionaries

100 Words Almost Everyone Mixes Up or Mangles / The Editors of American Heritage Dictionaries (Artistic style aside, I am the queen of mixing up and mangling–smiling.)

The Plot Skeleton – 1 / Angela Hunt

Creating Extraordinary Characters – 2 / Angela Hunt

Point of View – 3 / Angela Hunt (Smooth or transparent POV transitions are a challenge for me, and many other writers I know)

Track Down the Weasel Words – 4 / Angela Hunt (Editing helper)

Evoking Emotion – 5 / Angela Hunt

Plans & Processes To Get Your Book Written – 6 / Angela Hunt

Word Painting: A Guide to Writing More Descriptively  / Rebecca McClanahan (Techniques for describing And holding the reader’s attention are priceless)

The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Attributes / Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Flaws / Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi

Story Structure: The Key to Successful Fiction / William Bernhardt

Creating Character: Bringing Your Story to Life / William Bernhardt

Perfecting Plot: Charting the Heroes Journey / William Bernhardt

Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix and  Finish With Confidence / Roz Morris

Nail Your Novel: Bring Characters to Life / Roz Morris

I write 18th & 19th century historicals positioned in Southeastern United States.  Following are a few of the many books I read/studied that I chose to own:

A Miracle That Changed the World: The 5000 Year Leap / W. Cleon Skousen

The Rights of Man / Thomas Paine

Common Sense / Thomas Paine

The Age of Reason / Thomas Pain

The Federalist Papers / Alexander Hamilton

The Writings of Abraham Lincoln / Abraham Lincoln

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man / James Joyce

Rice Gold / James Bagwell

The John Couper Family / T. Reed Ferguson



H e l p f u l    L i n k s :


B.  Publishers (Traditional):

Fiction / Nonfiction Manuscript Submissions accepted Via Agent;

Abingdon Press

Baker Books

Barbour Publishing

Bethany House

B&H Publishing Group

Focus on the Family


Harrison House Publishers

Harvest House Publishers

Kregel Publications


Random House

Thomas Nelson


WaterBrook Press



Short Stories – Only;



C.  Sources for Help on your Writing Journey:


(American Christian Fiction Writers)


(Romance Writers of America)








D.  Literary Agents/Agencies:







E.  Conference Help:

Because quality writing and agent/editor protocol transcend all genres, I am sharing the following information from a fellow ACFW member (Author -> Cara Putman) regarding how to prepare for Editor/Agent appointments at Writers’ Conferences.

You can learn more about Cara and her novels by visiting  http://www.caraputman.com/.

There is a lot of useful information in the following links, and I hope you find it helpful on your path to publication.

Blessings, -RK Barclay


“Preparing for Editor/Agent Appointments

 For those of you who don’t follow Chip MacGregor’s blog — and you should — in August 2012, he wrote about getting the most out of a writer’s conference.http://www.chipmacgregor.com/questions-from-beginners/how-can-i-get-the-most-out-of-a-writing-conference/ Good reading as you prepare for conference: He’s also written about the best way to approach an editor:http://www.chipmacgregor.com/questions-from-beginners/whats-the-best-way-to-approach-an-editor-at-a-conference/

 Another great agent blog is Rachelle Gardner’s:http://www.rachellegardner.com/category/popular-posts/.Her blog is always filled with fabulous advice. Want her take on elevator pitches? Start here:http://www.rachellegardner.com/tag/elevator-pitches/ Word Serve’s clients just started a blog, too:http://wordservewatercooler.com/.

 And the agents at Books & Such have a blog as well:http://www.booksandsuch.biz/blog/. Rachel Kent had advice on appointments herehttp://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/reflections-on-acfw-conference-pitching-your-project/#more-10941 and another on conference etiquette:http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/conference-etiquette/

Another agent at the firm has some great advice on the 15 minute appointments:http://www.booksandsuch.com/blog/a-mock-15-minute-author-agent-meeting-at-a-conference-follow-along/

The Hartline Agency also has a blog:http://hartlineliteraryagency.blogspot.com/. And Steve Laube’s agency has one too…http://www.stevelaube.com/blog/. These are great places to research the agents. Plus Steve talks about the 15 minute appointments here: http://www.stevelaube.com/that-conference-appointment/



All opinions expressed on this website and Blog are my own

And may Not reflect those of   Publishers,  Editors,  Agents  with whom I do business.


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