Beyond the Smoke
Tamela Hancock Murray

Tamela Hancock Murray has been with Hartline since 2001 and has placed authors’ books in both CBA and ABA. Her client roster includes award-winning, best-selling authors as well as new authors. A Virginia native, she is an accomplished writer who has authored many inspirational romance novels and novellas and several nonfiction Bible trivia books for children and adults. She is honored to write for the inspirational market and enjoys encouraging new and established authors. She earned her degree in Journalism (with honors) from Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, Virginia. Tamela is based at Hartline Literary Agency’s office in Manassas, Virginia. Learn more about Tamela’s work as an agent and author at tamela [at], or write her at 10383 Godwin Drive, Manassas, VA 20110.

Hartline Literary

Exciting Summer!

This summer started out on an exciting personal note as my husband and I celebrated our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Jill, our eldest daughter, graduated cum laude from my alma mater. Some of you might remember Jill, since she went to Montrose and ICRS with me a couple of years ago. As for upcoming events, this summer and fall I am excited and honored to be taking part in two major CBA conferences.


WRITE HIS ANSWER, the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers’ Conference is directed by respected CBA professional Marlene Bagnull,, and scheduled for August 6–8. My colleague, Diana Flegal, and I plan to attend. I am thrilled to present a workshop on proposal writing as well called “I’ve Written My Novel—Now What? Attention-Grabbing Book Proposals.”

The time to go to this conference is fast approaching, but it’s not too late to attend if you act quickly. In fact, if you present a copy of this article, the $15 walk-in registration fee will be waived. (UPDATE: and an additional 10% will be taken off the registration fee!) Still can’t swing 2009? Then plan to mark this one on your calendar for next year.

For 2009, as this article went to press, I found sixty faculty members listed, representing publishing houses and interests across the CBA board. There is a strong fiction contingency for both agents and editors. For those novelists desiring to writing nonfiction, you’ll find industry professionals interested in nonfiction as well. Marlene is thrilled by the enthusiastic participation of the faculty and writers. “So many of both the faculty and conferees have become like family,” she says.

Marlene tells me she’s already registered a healthy number of attendees, which speaks well of this conference during an economic recession. Through the Cecil B. Murphey Foundation, twenty-one scholarships were awarded for this conference. I have talked to many writers who’ve attended in the past, and they are unanimous in saying how blessed they are by Marlene’s spirit and attitude as she hosts the conference. This really is a mission for her, and Christian love permeates this event. “People are looking for answers,” Marlene says. “Whether through fiction or nonfiction, He is calling us to ‘write His answer’—the only answer to experiencing life in all its fullness now and for eternity.”


The last time I wrote for this magazine, I mentioned that the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference will be held September 17–23 in Denver. My colleague, Terry Burns, and I plan to attend. We both anticipate this conference as a highlight of our professional year.

As this article goes to press, nearly sixty publishing professionals will be participating. Of course, this conference is geared to writers of fiction, although some of the agents and editors will consider nonfiction. The following publishers will be represented:

Abingdon Press
B&H Publishing Group (formerly Broadman & Holman)
Bethany House Publishers
Guideposts Books
Harvest House
Steeple Hill
Summerside Press
Thomas Nelson
Tyndale House

The list may grow, so consult the Web site as you make plans:

This year Donald Maas, author of Writing the Breakout Novel, will be teaching an early bird workshop by the same name, geared to writers of all levels. The writers I’ve spoken to are ecstatic about this opportunity.

As always, the conference organizers have a wonderful and busy time planned. Conference Director Robin Miller says, “We’re very excited about the 2009 conference and look forward to seeing everyone. We hope many will take advantage of this awesome event.”


Tina Columbo, Senior Editor at Harlequin, is now Tina James. Best wishes to the newlyweds!


My colleague, Diana Flegal, shared This Article with me. I think it’s worth reading if you’re an author with a Web site. Oh, wait, that’s all authors, right?

The article is titled “If You Build It, They Won’t Come: A Guide to Author Websites.” Our Hartline webmaster, Eddie Jones,, offers a few comments on this topic as well:

Having built and maintained probably twenty writers’ Web sites, I’d concur with the statement by Hildick-Smith: “Exclusive content appears to be a missed opportunity on almost all sites.”

The problem, of course, is publishability. Once content has appeared on the site, can it be used in a book, or will a publisher contest the passage and claim that it’s already a published work? I suspect the work would become tainted. Then there is the problem of writing original content for your Web site while also writing original content for your books.

Bottom line?

Keeping a Web site fresh, interactive, and appealing to visitors is a lot of work. One thing not mentioned in the article was site updates. The search engines track how often a web page has been updated and reward fresh sites with higher search rankings.

Basically your Web site is your home. You just have to decide how often to you want to entertain guests. My suggestion is, if you’re going to work at keeping your site current, and thus host an open house every day, use paper plates and disposable napkins. By that I mean, use online tools that allow you to post your own content without going through a Web guy or gal.

There’s a nifty feature in Blogger that allows you to post content via your blog and have that content appear on a domain. I think Network Solutions and Go Daddy also offer simple content management solutions for their Web-hosting clients.

All these social networking apps require a lot of time, time I’d rather use writing. But . . . this is new business model for book sales, so we’d best be about the business of adapting.


Speaking of spending time online, word has it that at least one publisher is asking its authors to Twitter. I suspect within six months, every CBA author will be tweeting!


As the recession continues, this question lingers. I have found that editors are buying books, but they are being very, very picky. In my view, some books that would have sold two years ago are not selling today. Most publishers are simply not in the position to develop a stable of new authors. However, if you are a new author with a sparkling manuscript that is CBA-friendly, you have a good chance of breaking in. Established authors who continue to maintain and exceed their current level of quality will be successful. As always, God is good, and in CBA any victory we may have is to His glory.

Until next time, I wish you many victories!