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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Easter Reflection - The Word and Words

by Yvonne Lehman

We celebrate Easter on a certain day that’s on the calendar. But we Christians celebrate it in our hearts all year long. I went to a Maundy Thursday supper at church where we were reminded of the events taking place before Jesus’ crucifixion. I remembered my visit to Israel.

I walked down into the same prison where Jesus was taken like a criminal. I saw the area where Jesus was beaten, the games etched in the floor where Roman soldiers passed their time and laughed while prisoners suffered in the dark, cold, stone, stagnant cells.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

6 Tips for Productive Brainstorming

by Lisa Jordan, @lisajordan

My good friend Jeanne Takenaka, who writes beautiful, encouraging blog posts, and I have been working together for nearly a year, helping each other to strengthen our stories and digging deeper into learning the different craft elements.

Our partnership works well because we are able to balance out each other’s strengths and weaknesses. I’ve been thinking about what makes our partnership work, and I’ve decided to share some tips to help others who are pursuing craft partnerships.

Monday, April 24, 2017

5 Tips for Sparking Creativity

By Beth K. Vogt @bethvogt

My husband brought me roses the other day. A lovely bouquet of blush flowers, which he put in a vase on the kitchen island. But then he put one single rose in a vase and set it on the table beside my chair while I worked on rewrites. I looked up and said, “Because you remembered that women are more creative when there are flowers around, right?”

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Called to Story

by Kristy Cambron
Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story… —Psalm 107:2 (NIV)
“Isn’t your hand going to get tired after signing that in each book?”

I was standing at a podium, signing a stack of books at a large library conference. I’d prayed about it, and felt led to write a specific phrase and Bible verse in the front cover of each book. And yes– with a Sharpie in hand, it amounted to a small paragraph for each person, all the way down a signing line.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

7 Mistakes Authors Make

By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

Every writer wants to be viewed as professional, intelligent, and bestselling. Nothing wrong with those goals, and they are worthy and attainable. But when a writer consistently makes dumb mistakes, her credibility takes a nose dive as well as her career.

Take a look at the following mistakes. Are there changes on your horizon?

Friday, April 21, 2017

Writing Cinematically: 10 Movie Techniques to Apply to Your Novel

by Deborah Raney

If I’d known my first novel—a story about a family dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease—would be made into a movie, I would have written it very differently. But when I got my first glimpse of the script, I understood immediately why the screenwriters had changed so many elements from my novel. Too many of my scenes took place in a character’s head—in his memories or her internal dialogue. I’m so grateful it was my first novel that made it to the silver screen because the experience of seeing my story turned into a script changed the way I wrote my next thirty novels.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Nearly Everything I Need to Write a Book I Learned in Elementary School

by Kelly Klepfer

1) Learn. 

Not even kidding about this. You need to invest your time, energy, heart and soul in learning what to do and what not to do. This involves conferences, books, magazines and blog reading. If you are new, you may have already poised to click out of this because you are tired of hearing this advice. But, there is no way around this step if you want to succeed. In order to be published and/or sell books, you have to give the impression that you are worth investing in. And the advice that hundreds of thousands of people give is that you learn to write according to the rules. When you get those down, you can calculate how to creatively twist those in your story.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

It Boils Down To This… I’m A Writer

by Rachel Hauck

I had an epiphany in recent days. I’m a writer! A novelist. I write books for a living. That’s what I do!

And it’s awesome.

So what’s the epiphany, you may ask? I realized there was no joy in looking around at other things, people, opportunities, surrendering my soul to envy and jealousy, fretting and regular “hand wringing.”

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What To Do When You Don’t Think You’ll Ever Get Published

by James L. Rubart

For you non golf fans, nine days ago, Sergio Garcia won The Masters—one of the most longed for titles in all of professional sports. It was his first golf “major” after 18 years and seventy one tries.

That’s a long time coming. No other golfer has played in more majors without winning one than Sergio.

Monday, April 17, 2017

There Really Is Nothing New Under the Sun

by Pamela S. Meyers

I’ve always wondered if there was a good reason for including a section in a novel proposal where a list of currently available novels similar to yours is provided along with explanations as to how they are similar and dissimilar to yours.

Just recently I submitted a proposal to a publisher for a novel I’d written a couple years ago. A few days later, the editor advised she couldn’t take the story because it was very similar to one that was published last fall by another publisher. She then listed at least seven or eight plot points in the other novel that were an exact match to my story. I expected to hear the theme song from the old TV show The Twilight Zone tuning up in the background. It was that similar!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

When Writing is Like Riding a Horse

by Marcia Lee Laycock

I’ve always been horse crazy. It took many years of begging before my mother let me learn how to ride a horse and many more after that before I owned one. I remember the day I woke up and looked out my bedroom window and saw Cheyenne grazing in the field. I almost pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

3 Elements of a Good book

by Michelle Griep

As I was just about dozing off to sleep last night, hubby elbows me and asks, "Hey, how do you write a good book? What are the top 3 elements?"

I replied with a snore, hoping he'd think I was sleeping.

He nudged me again. Gah! So, rather than discussing the building blocks of a great story at midnight, I told him I'd do a blog post on it.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Write to Discover

by Allen Arnold

Does your writing reflect a journey of discovery?

Before you can take readers to new places, you must first travel roads you’ve never been on. Doing so will force you out of your comfort zone to wrestle with the unknown, face your fears, and discover God in fresh ways. You become the traveler rather than the master guide. The process is risky and messy, but it’s the only way to see, hear, and experience the new.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Using Symbolism in Your Description!

by Susan May Warren

A Quick and Easy Tool for Writing Description (part 2)

This month we’ve been talking about Extreme Scene Makeover and diving into description. I introduced the acronym FOCUS, a tool I use to help me write description. We covered F-O-CU on a post two weeks ago (here).

First step in writing great description is to put it through the POV of your character. It’s all about how they feel about being there. We layer in their attitude while they describe the scene.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Deepening Characterization

by Normandie Fischer

We've all been there, haven't we? Curled up with a book that has become a favorite, even though our unread stack threatens to topple. 

Here's my question for today. Why do we read some books more than once while setting others aside with barely another thought?

Last month, I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with an out-of-town reader who’d been so affected by one of my books that she’d had to pick it up and dig through it again. Something about that book's characters resonated with what she'd experienced, and she wanted more. I was charmed, of course, but that’s what we want, isn’t it? For our characters to touch hearts and change lives.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What makes for Successful Booksigning Event? It's all in the Perspective...

by Lynette Eason

Successful or not successful: It’s all in the perspective.

Hi everyone, Lynette Eason here. I just wanted to take a moment to talk booksignings with you. Let me be honest. I like MOST booksignings about as much as I like the pollen that makes me sneeze and lunge for my inhale. Okay, okay, that might be a slight exaggeration—slight. But I just wanted to give you a heads up that if you’re eagerly planning your first—or fiftieth—signing, some are going to go well and others are not.

Monday, April 10, 2017

5 Reasons to Tell Instead of Show

by Michelle Griep

You've all heard it, usually at a volume ratcheted up enough to shred your eardrums to tiny little ribbons . . .

Yeah, yeah. Whatever. For the most part, I heartily agree with this rule. Showing is hands-down better than telling because, hey, who likes to be told anything? That's about as comfortable as having your mom wag her finger in your face.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

3 Tips to Write a Novel Experience

By Jessica R. Patch

As a writer, you may hear “write what you know” often. If I took that advice, I wouldn’t have a single book published. But I do believe that we should balance writing what we know with what we don’t. Here are three tips you can use to help create an experience for a reader rather than simply giving them a good story.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zone

by Patty Smith-Hall
I have a confession to make.

I absolutely dread writing blog posts. I’m not exactly sure why. Writing has always been an outlet for me, and I find the time I’m working on a new proposal or putting the finishing touches on a completed novel extremely satisfying. Writing devotions for Journey magazine gives me a platform to share my faith with young women who seek to fulfill their spiritual needs while juggling family and career responsibilities.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Streamline Your Social Media Life With These 9 Tips

By Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Social media can be a time suck if we’re not careful. 

We can spend hours and hours without seeing results that justify the effort—unless we pay attention. It’s time to work smarter, not harder. 

Today, I think I can give you some ideas of how to multiply the benefits without cutting in to valuable writing—and family—time.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Getting Rid of the Parts Readers Skip

by Dan Walsh

We’ve all done it. You’re reading a novel that’s captured your interest and, before long, you find yourself skipping several paragraphs to find “where the story picks up again.” The writer writes well. That’s not the problem. The problem is they write too much. Sprinkled throughout the interesting, exciting parts you find a lot of blah-blah-blah.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Should I Give a Webinar? Part II

by Linore Rose Burkard

In last month's post, "Giving a Webinar: Should You, Would You, Could You?" I discussed some obstacles that gave me pause before doing my first webinar. Chief for me was a fundamental reluctance to appear on camera. I said we'd talk about the pros and cons of webinars in order to help you decide if you ought to be doing them. But first, I'd like to check out other reasons that may be holding you back from moving into this new technology. Such as:

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Create an Awesome Marketing Plan—Part 2: Media and Speaking

by Melissa Tagg

Last month we began a series on creating an awesome marketing plan for your novel’s proposal. The goal is not only to wow agents and editors with your stellar marketing expertise, but also once published to be able to take this plan and put it into action.

If you missed last month’s intro post, you can check it out here.

Today, we’re going to talk about the first two ingredients to an awesome marketing plan recipe: Media & Speaking Engagements

Monday, April 03, 2017

On Deadline And Your Characters Aren't Talking

by Patricia Bradley

I said I'd never be here again...You know, behind on my deadline. I turned in my last book in July last year and here it is the middle of March and I’m only half finished with the first draft of a book due May 1. Six weeks to write forty thousand words, and then edit all ninety thousand. Oh, and the manuscript has to shine, as well.

I’ll get it done. I have no choice. Well, I could ask for an extension, but I realllllly don’t want to do that. So, I’ll suck it up and do whatever it takes to make the deadline.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Lesson on a Cruise Ship

by Marcia Lee Laycock

My husband and I recently returned from a cruise. It was a great trip, for the most part, but there were some things I found irritating. I often felt we were made to feel that we weren’t quite worthy of being on that ship.

One day we decided to go to an art auction. If you attended, you were automatically entered into a draw. I was a little excited when I won a gift bag. There was a watch in it that had a rather large price tag on it. That was nice. But then I realized there was also a $100.00 gift certificate included. I’d spotted something I liked in one of the boutiques. With the gift certificate I could easily afford it. So yes, I got a little excited.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Stealing History

by Ron Estrada

As I write this, I'm watching Vikings via the magic of Hulu, the binge watching hub of the modern world. I've watched a few of these historical fiction TV series, and while I cannot vouch for their historical accuracy, I can vouch for their entertainment value.

The writers of these shows have done what any good writer would do, historical or otherwise. Take a piece of what is fact and insert a bit of fiction into it. This is how we can "steal" a great segment of our story, all that bothersome background and setting. The writers of these TV shows did just that. We can, therefore, justify borrowing our settings from the TV show writers who have done all the hard work already.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Friends Don’t Let Friends Quit!

by Catherine West

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably a writer. You may be just starting out or have been writing for many years. You may be published or you may still have that dream in sight. But I bet you know one thing.

This is a hard road.

My favorite book is Gone With The Wind. I first discovered it as a homesick thirteen-year old wandering the musty maze of books in the library at my boarding school in the south of England. It was there I was introduced to Austen and Dickens and Tolkien, and eventually stumbled upon what had to be the biggest book my hands had ever held.Gone With The Wind.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

When Writing Description, You Must F.O.C.U.S.

by Susan May Warren

Three weeks ago, I introduced the acronym FOCUS, a tool I use to help me write description. (Click here to read that blog)

First step in writing great description is to put it through the POV of your character. It’s all about how they feel about being there. We layer in their attitude while they describe the scene. 
Once you add in perspective, then you need to dig deep into the description. I use the word FOCUS to help me break it down.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Making the Most of a Diversion

By Elizabeth Ludwig

I found myself stranded in Bentonville, Arkansas recently, when the plane I was on from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Dallas, Texas, was diverted mid-air, to a tiny regional airport in Northwest Arkansas. Not only was this a little nerve-wracking, it felt a little bit like a “Hotel California” moment, with delay after delay keeping us grounded inside this tiny airport.

You’re singing the song now, aren’t you? Well stop. That’s not the point of this article.

Anyway, I finally decided to go ahead and spend the night in Bentonville and try reaching Dallas the next day. With time—and the keys to a rental car—in my hands, I struck out to see what I could find.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

5 Tips for Creating First Dates for Your Characters

by Lisa Jordan @lisajordan

Do you remember your first date? Or maybe your first date with the person who ended up becoming your spouse?

My husband and I had a unique courtship—we met in our hometown while he served in the USMC but had come home on leave. For the next 18 months, we communicated via handwritten letters, phone calls, and infrequent weekend visits.

Monday, March 27, 2017

What Sports Photography Taught Me about Point of View (POV)

by Beth K. Vogt @bethvogt

My teen daughter plays volleyball year-round, which means I spend a lot of time at volleyball tournaments. My husband and I are also the photographers for both her high school and club teams. This happened by accident – meaning, when no one else volunteered to take photos, we did. At first, we took lousy photos. Now, we’ve invested in a more expensive camera and lens and after lots of trial and error, we're getting better and better at this whole unexpected sports photography gig.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Be a Voice, Not an Echo

by Rachel Hauck

Writing in the Christian market pushes us to go beyond the realm of this life to find meaning and purpose for our characters. While we are not writing sermons and devotionals set in fictional places with fictional characters, we are imitating life.

For the Christian author, Jesus is very much a part of our every day life. We want to express Him in some way in our stories, through the lives of our characters. But often our stories sound hokey, canned, full of Christianese. How we talk in the foyer at church, or in Sunday school class does not translate into fiction.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Novel Preparation 101

By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

We writers have habits, some quirky, that help us get started on new writing projects. Today I’d like to share with you how I organize my thoughts and preparations before writing chapter one, line one of a new novel. I’m mostly an organic/pantster writer, but some things I have to know before I begin.

  1. Idea! Oh, these come from so many different places—from a movie, a current happening in the news, overheard conversation, a what-if from everyday life, and dreams.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Getting a Handle on Twitter

by Patricia Bradley

I don’t know about you, but Twitter intimidated me when I first started out. Then I discovered this awesome program—Hootsuite. And it made my Twitter life easier. And then I discovered another program—Social Jukebox. And that really made my Twitter life easier. So, which is best? BOTH. Let me explain.

But first a little background on Hootsuite. It’s a platform to help you manage your Twitter account. You create streams, and since Edie Melson explains this so much better than I can, check out her blog on setting up an account,creating streams and setting up a schedule and much more. She has pictures and everything. 😊 I also use Hootsuite to shorten my links. You know, the ones that are three lines long?

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Everywhere A Story

by Peter Leavell 

You have one job.

Like troubadours of old, you tell stories.

This blog page's name hints at your storytelling medium. Novels!

That's good. No, that's better than good. That's fantastic.

So, a little scope about how stories propel our lives might be in order.

The first human did something—something either so stupid or so profound he had to tell someone about it.

Storytelling and taking in a story is a part of every breath we take.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


by Yvonne Lehman

We writers are often told to use the “What if?” factor in our writing.

Our response can get us started in our stories, or be an effective tool when we feel stumped.

However, no matter how creative a “What if?” incident, if it doesn’t constitute a scene which has purpose and furthers the story, it becomes “So what?”

The question I’ve been asked most in my writing career is not, “How many wonderful scenes do you have in this book?” but, “Why did you write it?” Another is, “Where did you get your idea?” which is another way of asking, “Why this story?”

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Why It Takes A Village To Write A Novel

by James L. Rubart

When it comes to your novels, you’re probably in one of three camps:

1. You think you can write your story by yourself.

2. You realize writing a compelling novel takes a village, a country, the universe.

3. You need to be reminded of fact number two.

I fell completely into camp three during the writing of my latest manuscript. Whoops. 

In January I told my friend Susie the synopsis of the novel. After I was through, she frowned. Not a good sign.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Writers Conferences--Are They Worth It?

by Pamela S. Meyers

Just after the calendar turned from 1999 to 2000, when I was starting to write fiction, I became aware of a Christian writers conference in my own area called Write to Publish. I had heard from others that a conference like WTP was the best way to get noticed by editors and agents.

I attended the conference with the dream of having my current WIP contracted by the time it was over. I didn’t see my dream realized (rarely is a contract signed at a conference), but I came away with a lot more.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A Pruning Process

by Marcia Lee Laycock

I’ve had a geranium plant for several years. Every spring I put it outside and it flourishes. Every fall I bring it inside and it goes a bit dormant, but still manages to flower now and then, though some of the leaves shrivel and go yellow, then brown. Almost every time I water it through the winter I trim off the dead leaves, dropping them into the large pot that holds the plant. They crumble and eventually become nourishment for that old geranium.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

3 Reasons You Will Never Get That Book Written

by Michelle Griep

Whenever I tell someone I'm an author, immediately following the deer-in-the-headlights stare, the person I'm talking to invariably says, "Hey! I've got this great story idea."

To which I reply, "Then you should write it."

That's when Mr. Slump Shoulders takes over, and the person wilts in front of me. "Yeah, I should," he murmurs. Then he slinks off into the sunset, and I know that book will never get written. Why? Three reasons . . .

Friday, March 17, 2017

Then Came a Buggy

by Barbara Cameron

Students entering senior year in high school usually have a lot on their minds. Which college will they choose? How are they going to finance it? And what will be their major?

I wasn’t one of those students worrying about college. My dad was pushing me to go to the local community college and become a nurse.

That was the last thing I wanted. I was the oldest child and was tired of taking care of my younger siblings. When I saw a notice on the school announcement board about a cooperative education class at the local newspaper I decided to apply. After all, I was a voracious reader and I’d enjoyed the extra credit assignments in creative writing my English teacher gave me.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Writing Southern

by +AneMulligan @AneMulligan

I write Southern-fried fiction. But how is writing Southern different to writing fiction set elsewhere? It's a lot more than throwing a few “y’alls” into the story. Southern is a way of life, a set of priorities intrinsic to the South. It’s a sixty-year-old, former pro football player calling his parents “mama” and "daddy."

Like cowboys have the Code of the West, Southern women have their Code of the South. That mind set digs its heels in and won’t let go. Just try to wear white shoes or pants after Labor Day. You’ll see. I've tried to break that rule ,but I get as far as the bedroom door and run back to the closet to change.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Fast Draft –Yes or No?

by Rachel Hauck

I’m fast drafting a novel right now. Last night, after dinking around all day, I told myself to “get to it” and blasted out 2000 words in an hour. Give or take a minute or two.

I’m near the end of a book so I know a bit of what’s going on. I have a feel for the characters and the story. Those random conversations characters have together started running randomly through my head a few weeks ago.

Next week, I’ll end this fast draft and start rewriting. Most of the beginning of the story will change, I already know. The middle needs a lot of tweaking. With that in mind, I hope my ending is the most stable part of this fast, first draft.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Writing With Chronic Pain

by Lynette Eason

I don’t know about y’all, but the older I get the more my body lets me know it’s not on board with the whole idea.

When I was younger, I didn’t worry about getting older. I still don’t worry about it per se, but since being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, I’ve had to make a few lifestyle changes. However, in spite of all of my efforts to be healthy, there are still bad days and good days. And since I never know from day to day how I’m going to feel, I have to make the most of the good days.

So why bother with the writing? Why do something that causes me stress and pain?

Monday, March 13, 2017

It's Normal to Feel Like a Loser

by Michelle Griep

So you're writing a novel, la-de-dah. Typing away like a rock star. Day after day after day.

After day.

And then, out of nowhere, whap! A horrific thought slaps you upside the head, yanking you out of the story and paralyzing you so that your daily word count takes a serious nosedive. Suddenly you wonder if you're an author, that maybe all the things you write are just slobbery bits of drivel bubbling out of you. Panic sets in. Perhaps you're not a for-real writer. Maybe you're an impostor. A poser. An orangutan mimicking kissy noises in front of a mirror. Or worse -- maybe the zombie apocalypse really did happen and you're nothing but a body operating on rote memory because shoot, if you read what you've written, those words certainly look like a person with no brain wrote them.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

On Cultivating Carrots & Creativity

By Edie Melson @EdieMelson

But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner. 
I Corinthians 14:40

Spring is here and so many of the people we know are busy planting gardens. As I listened in on one recent conversation, I was drawn back to one summer when I decided to try my hand at gardening.

Our boys were young, and we had decided—for some unremembered reason—that planting a vegetable garden would be a great idea. I can’t imagine that either my husband or I would have had the time or energy—after keeping up with three active young boys—to really take care of it. Oh, the optimism of young parents.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

3 Qualities of a Successful Researcher

by Patty Smith Hall

An author can create fantastic characters, a gorgeous setting and a plot that keeps the reader turning the pages well into the night. But misplaced a petticoat or put in a piece of dialogue that’s just too contemporary and that same writer will have her email flooded with corrections from diehard historical readers. That is why research is such any important part of writing any kind of fiction.

So where does one start at being an expert in research? Just like writing can be learned, becoming proficient at finding the facts is a learned art. The best in the field have three defining qualities.

Friday, March 10, 2017

First Feedback

by Allen Arnold

As writers, we receive no shortage of feedback. Editorial critiques. On-line reviews. Compliments from mom. And a grab bag of reader comments–
many helpful, a few bizarre, and one that couldn’t get past your grammar glitch on page 74.

We tend to base our art's worth on the reaction or reviews of others. But do you regularly ask God what he thinks of your writing?

Thursday, March 09, 2017

How to Write Static Description

by Susan May Warren

Writing Description...

Is it telling? Showing? Actually both—you must tell us what the character is seeing. BUT, you also need to do it in a way that helps us FEEL the character’s emotions, and that means SHOWING.

In other words, because we’re always trying to SHOW the character’s emotions, the way they feel about being in a place, or seeing someone is portrayed through their perspective as they describe what they see.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Finishing the Hat

Hey, all, Normandie here. I want to introduce you to one of my critique partners, the delightful Jennifer Fromke, whose words of correction and inspiration help hone my stories. When she told me about Seurat and his painted hat, I knew she had to share it with you. So, Jenn, you have the floor:

FINISHING THE HAT, a guest post
by Jennifer Fromke

George Seurat held his paint brush aloft as he worked on a wall-sized painting. When the woman in his life said, “It’s time to go,” his answer sounded something like, “But I just started this hat.” He couldn’t fathom going anywhere, doing anything, until he’d added the dots to construct the hat in his painting. Adrift in the world of his creation, he chose the hat over the woman’s world. . . because he had to. At least that’s how I remember it from Sondheim’s Broadway show, Sunday in the Park with George. The show is about Georges Seurat, as he paints one of his greatest pieces, A Sunday on La Grand Jatte circa 1884.