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Sunday, June 25, 2017

First Time Writers Conference Jitters

by Cindy Sproles, @CindyDevoted

Learning curves. They’re a pain in the . . . well, you know. No one likes having to learn something new. We’re comfortable in our space just the way it is. When you unload your suitcase and stare at the hotel, it’s easy to ask that burning question: What have I done?

Your conference director and faculty have things coordinated, organized, and ready to go. You, on the other hand, feel the butterflies. As you walk through the halls of the conference venue pods of folks gather hugging, laughing, and sharing their writing adventures. Do you even fit in this world?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Power of Pinterest

By DiAnn Mills, @diannmills

Pinterest claims to have 100 million active monthly users while noting 176 million registered users. Those stats are amazing, especially when writers are geared up to market and promote a new book.

Using Pinterest for promoting novels allows writers to expand their creativity. An easy way to entice a reader to check out our work involves pulling out special sections of the novel that can be translated into a picture or meme.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Finding Your Romantic Story Arc

by Susan May Warren, @SusanMayWarren

If you are writing a romance, it can sometimes be difficult to know exactly how to build all the pieces so that you have the right amount of tension in your story. How soon do you make them fall in love? When do you start breaking them up? How do they get back together?

This problem is solved by understanding the two main story arcs of romance: The Why/Why Not, or the Why Not/Why. (These arc models apply to both a straight up romance, or just a romance thread.)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Businesses Shake Hands Over Publishing Contracts

by Peter Leavell, @PeterLeavell

Oh, how I love everything about the publishing business!

But lately, there’s been so much banter about publishing lately, specifically Christian publishing, my compass seems to have added up and down to the cardinal four.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Drop and Give Me Twenty! Okay, One.

by Rachel Hauck, @RachelHauck

All right, writers. I’m going to say a word most of you will hate: exercise. Yeah, I know, the excuses are long and many.

“I hate it.”

“I don’t have time for it.”

“It’s too cold.”
“It’s too hot.”

“My legs hurt. My arms…”

“I sprained my eyelashes.”

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I Don’t Want to Hear About Your Story Anymore

by James L. Rubart, @jameslrubart

When God spoke to me about being a novelist, it was a supernatural, lightning bolt type experience. I was pretty pumped when it happened, so I of course told my great friend Jim Rubstello about it, and described the story I would attempt writing.

He celebrated with me, told me he had no doubt I could do it, and encouraged me to dive in.

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Hybrid Publisher is Not the Same as a Hybrid Author

by Pamela S. Meyers, @pamelameyers

I recently attended a writers group meeting on Hybrid Publishing. I went into the gathering thinking we were going to learn about being a hybrid author, which is someone who publishes some books with a traditional publisher and other books independently (“indie”), another word for self-publish. Boy, was I ever wrong.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

To Make Oneself the Echo

by Marcia Lee Laycock, @MarciaLaycock

Maurice Blanchot has said - “To write is to make oneself the echo of what cannot cease speaking.” As we become echoes of Christ, we will know He has given us our writing not only as a means to speak, but as a means to hear and understand.

As pastor’s kids, my daughters were often asked to participate in the service in our small church. Our eldest, Kate, was asked to sing once, when she was going through a bit of a rough spot in her teenage years. When the Sunday morning came, this is what happened –

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Writing On Demand

by Michelle Griep, @MichelleGriep

I'm operating under a deadline. There's a reason for the negativity of that word, because it's freaking killing me. Okay, so maybe not all that dramatic, like I'm not currently bleeding out on the kitchen floor or anything. But being on a deadline means I have to write every day whether I feel like it or not. Most often I do, but some days, sheesh, I tell you . . .
So for my sanity -- and yours -- here is a handy dandy list of ideas to keep you on the writing track, or whatever track it is that you're currently running on.

Friday, June 16, 2017

How to See the Normal Through New Eyes

by Roseanna M. White, @RoseannaMWhite

Have you ever noticed how few words there are for door? Seriously. She can approach the door, listen through the wood, knock on the slab, step through the…portal? Er, not unless you’re writing certain genres. Door is something we all encounter a gazillion times a day. Something our characters encounter just as often. Something so mundane that we risk either being repetitive when we mention it, or so creative that it’s distracting.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Lies! Lies! Lies!

by Ane Mulligan, @AneMulligan

Susie and Rachel are fabulous at characterization. It was Rachel who started my passion for character motivation when staying with me one weekend. She was here in Atlanta to speak to our ACFW chapter. Being one to take advantage of all opportunities—hey, my mama didn't raise a dummy—I told her how I was stuck in what would turn out to be my first published novel.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Deep Characterization

By Normandie Fischer, @WritingOnBoard

Following up on my April post about deepening characterization, let’s take a look at Charles Martin’s Thunder and Rain.In all of his books, Martin writes of wounded folk who face challenges based on the lies they believe about themselves and their world.

The characters in Thunder and Rain:

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Create an Awesome Marketing Plan—Part 4: Libraries and Launch Teams

by Melissa Tagg, @Melissa_Tagg

A few weeks back, 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.

Monday, June 12, 2017

5 Tips For Writing An Emotional Scene

by Michelle Griep, @MichelleGriep

I can write a fight scene like nobody's business. A slapstick slip-on-the-banana peel piece of humor? No problem. But when it comes to penning an emotional scene, whoa baby. Those are super hard. Why? Because the emotions I feel in relation to what's happening with my characters might not be the same emotions someone else would feel. Everyone reacts differently. The trick is to write the scene so that it appeals to readers across the board.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Black Moment Construction

by Susan May Warren, @SusanMayWarren

The Black Moment in your novel is the most important part of your novel.

I just had to say that because I see so many manuscripts that pull their punches on the Black Moment. Authors have fallen in love with their characters and they just don’t want to hurt them. But creating a powerful Black Moment is what both the character and the reader need to convince them they must change.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Taming the Unteachable Spirit

by Patty Smith-Hall, @pattywrites

At a recent readers luncheon, I was paired with a young writer who unfortunately knew everything that was to know about the craft of writing. It may sound a bit judgmental but I picked up on the warning signs almost immediately. According to her, the writing groups she had visited ‘just didn’t get her style.’ She refused to part of a critique group because in the past, they ‘tried to change my voice’ with corrections and suggestions. She finally told me she didn’t need nor want any help.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Doing Less & Becoming More

by Allen Arnold, @TheStoryofWith
The more you do, the more successful you’ll be.

That maxim seems true, but it’s actually a lie that erodes our identity and creativity.

This isn’t a post about being unproductive. I’m all for getting things done. It’s the motive of striving and constantly doing more that I want to discuss.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Make Your Heroine & Hero Unique

by Susan May Warren, @SusanMayWarren

How do you make your hero or heroine unique? Have you ever written a hero or heroine and thought…oh, they seem just like the last character I created? It’s easy to do – you can only pick so many creative combinations for your character…UNLESS…

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

How Not to Do A Critique

By Linore Rose Burkard, @LinoreRBurkard

Seasoned writers know that having one's work critiqued by fellow writers (or even savvy readers) can determine the difference between a finished piece that is merely "good" or one that sings. Critique partners can strengthen a manuscript, clean up errors, and make invaluable suggestions that the writer might not think of.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Tips for Successful Spec Fiction

by Jess Evander, @authorkeller

When most people think spec fiction they picture four-hundred page tomes that have made-up languages, names the reader can’t pronounce, and are heavy on world building. But spec fiction doesn’t have to get bogged down in the details, even when you’re writing complex layers, intersecting plot lines, and many locations.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Back to the Rule of Three

by Patricia Bradley, @ptbradley1

Last month I talked about the rule of three in structure and in dialogue. You can read it here. This month I want to discuss how to use it in a major scene.

Scenes have a beginning, middle, and end, and your major scenes have a disaster coming at the end (all scenes should end with a twist or something to make the reader turn the page). So how do you set up for it? First of all, think of your scenes as suspense scenes—where the biggest payoff is withheld (postponed) until the end. Withholding builds anticipation. In this way humor and suspense scenes are similar: both are about postponing. The anticipation builds by postponing the disaster (or surprise or punch line).

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Such a Fraud

by Marcia Lee Laycock @MarciaLaycock

Dealing with the Impostor Syndrome

Neil Gaiman once attended a gathering of some very important people. “I felt that at any moment they would realize that I didn’t qualify to be there,” he said. Later he chatted with another Neil who felt the same. “They’ve made amazing things,” he said. “I just went where I was sent. Mr. Gaiman replied, “Yes, but you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.”

Saturday, June 03, 2017

What if the HERO was the HEROINE? – Turning Your Story Upside Down

by Rachel Hauck

I started reading a great book last week and about a third of the way through a thought hit me: What if THE HEROINE was THE HERO and THE HERO was THE HEROINE?

Meaning, what if their rolls were reversed?

Suddenly the book became much more interesting and the one on my Kindle seem kind of status quo.

Friday, June 02, 2017

The Best Things About Being a Writer

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

We all know there are aspects of choosing to write for a living that can make life tough. It’s easy to get focused on just the negatives. Today I want us to celebrate the best parts of being a writer!

My 15 Favorite Things About Being a Writer
1. We get to use our own experiences—good and bad—to impact others. I’ve learned that we all share a lot of the same fears, hopes and struggles. Writing gives me a chance to share what I’ve been through and watch it impact others.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

When Going Green Isn't a Good Thing

by Dan Walsh, @DanWalshAuthor

In recent years, the idea of “Going Green” has become a pretty popular and positive thing in the US. I say “recent years” because I can easily recall a time (in my youth) when the thought of focusing on the quality of our environment was no big deal. No one talked about it. The topic was rarely in the news. No one ever recycled anything or cared about “sustainability” (they wouldn’t even understand such terms if they heard them).

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Feeding Your Readers’ Interests

by Elizabeth Ludwig

My husband and I recently made a trip to Sugarcreek, Ohio, to visit the setting for my latest series of cozy mysteries from Guideposts. One of things I loved about the experience was sampling the authentic Amish cooking. I even found several Amish cookbooks to add to my treasure trove of books. Unfortunately, if you’ve ever used one of these cookbooks, you know that many of the recipes can be very vague—a “pinch” of this, a “smidge” of that. LOL! Apparently, the authors of these recipes assume you know what temperature to bake a pie or exactly how much of each ingredient to add. I assume it’s because many of these dishes have been passed down for generations, and the cooks in the family know exactly how something should taste.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Moving On

by Liz Johnson, @lizjohnsonbooks

After s
ix years on Prince Edward Island, in a little town that I know like the back of my hand, I had to move on. And it’s so much harder than I thought it would be.

In 2011 I came up with an idea for a book set on the north shore of PEI, a place I’d been to once and fallen in love with every time I looked at pictures. During the next three years, I wrote a few drafts of that story, the characters and setting becoming more and more real with every passing day. It wasn’t until 2014 that I received a contract offer from Revell, and it was another two years before the first book in the series, The Red Door Inn, released.

Monday, May 29, 2017

What to Do When Your Publisher Ends Your Line

by Patty Smith-Hall

Last week, I received the news that every writer dreads hearing. After ten years and hundreds of wonderful books, Harlequin cut the Love Inspired Historical line. In one brief email, forty-eight spots for historical romance vanished. Veteran authors were suddenly without a home for their books. Talented editors were left unemployed. Worst of all, dedicated readers were left shocked at the demise of a line that was like a member of their family.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Birthing a Book

by Cindy Sproles

Any parent having experienced the birth of a child, either by giving birth or simply being a part of it, will say the process is hard. Labor can begin days before birth and the closer the event approaches, the more painful the process. Plain and simple, giving birth is hard work, so when writers use the analogy of birthing a book, the comparison is valid. Months of developing a story, putting it on the page, and finally popping out the words, THE END are nothing short of labor intensive.

When we finally hold that bundle of joy in our hands, words can’t express the joy and pride we feel. The priority becomes the care for that baby, - the feeding, changing, and guiding it through life.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Story Foundations for the Serious Writer

by DiAnn Mills @DiAnn Mills

Story ideas can be like fireworks. They soar and explode in beautiful colors…then their dance fizzles to the ground and we turn our attention to the next one. But story ideas don’t have to fade away. A writer can take those wild moments of inspiration and build a credible, colorful, creative, and compelling story.

Where do story ideas come from when we’ve spent hours brainstorming and feel like giving up? Buster Moon from the movie Sing says: “When you've reached rock bottom, there's only one way to go, and that's up!”

Friday, May 26, 2017

Plotting with Passion

by Dawn Crandall, @dawnwritesfirst

Hello, my name is Dawn, and I am a Plotter. Of the first degree.

Even before I started to write my very first novel, which also became my award winning debut novel, The Hesitant Heiress, I'd tried out many plots in my "before writing" writings. It's just something I love to do, and as I've learned over writing my four published novels, it makes things easier in the long run. It might be partly because I write my historical romances from deep first person point of view from only the heroine's side. Because of this, I need to figure out all of the other associating characters just as well, and also make it so the reader will be able to get to know them as well as the heroine does as the book unfolds.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

She Couldn't, But She Did

by Peter Leavell @PeterLeavell

Once upon a time, a young girl wanted…

But then she was told she couldn’t. And she believed them.

My temperature rose 10 degrees writing those words, even though my heart chilled to absolute zero. Repression of any kind is wrong and must stop. But here's the rub. Overcoming repression makes for fantastic stories.

I’ve written on gender bias, slavery, Native Americans, and religious topics. At the moment, I'm obsessed with female repression. (To be clear, I love hearing how the oppression was overcome, thus learning a bit more about how I can be of service to the oppressed.)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Picture Your Story

by Yvonne Lehman

There’s a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words.

However, with a thousand words you can write The Lord’s Prayer, The Preamble to the Constitution, the Twenty-third Psalm, the Gettysburg Address, and the Boy Scout Oath.

Much depends upon the picture, the words, and personal opinion. Pictures are worth thousands of words when I make a storyboard, an effective tool for me. There is more than one definition of storyboard and varying ways writers make or use them. My way is to cut out pictures that represent my characters and story.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Help! I've Fallen Out of Love With My Story!

by Lisa Jordan, @lisajordan

As I wrote out my synopsis, I came to a heart-sinking realization—I wasn't in love with my story anymore. When I brainstormed the initial story, I was so excited and on fire to dive into character development and plotting. And yes, I still like certain elements of my work-in-progress, but the crux of the story left me feeling a bit...meh. If I didn't love it, how could I champion it to my agent, my editor, or most of all, my readers? So I asked a group of writing friends for some advice. I’ve compiled their responses to help other writers who may be struggling with story love as I have been. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Writer’s Math: How to Prep a Scene with 5+5+1

by Beth K. Vogt @bethvogt

I thought I'd escaped all things numerical by becoming a novelist. Fine with me, as the mention of numbers cues white noise in my brain.

Through the years, I've learned that even wordsmiths enjoy devising equations to help with the writing process. Author Susan May Warren has developed writers equations benefiting thousands of writers as they plot their stories. One day I surprised myself and formulated my own writers equation.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Of Fish and Crushed Dreams

by Marcia Lee Laycock

Writers are dreamers. We dream of accolades and awards, of lives changed, perhaps even saved. Sometimes it feels like our dreams are close to coming true. But sometimes our dreams are crushed. Our career looks like nothing but a pile of pointless efforts. Sometimes all the sacrifices seem to have been for nothing and we come close to giving up on all the dreams.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Writers Are Magicians

by Michelle Griep

Every writer has a little Houdini in them because a great story is a slight-of-hand magic trick. Here's how it works . . .

The writer grabs the reader's hand and takes them into a story world. Think of this as the pulling out of the black top hat. Exposing the reader to how things are, turning the hat one way and another beneath the spotlight, showing there are no strings attached.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Cynthia Ruchti: Up Close and Personal

Interview by Kelly Klepfer

Tell us a bit about your current project.

The book that just released is A Fragile Hope. In some ways, one might say it was a risky project. How does a woman write an emotion-packed contemporary novel with a male protagonist, a marriage in trouble—his own—and his wife’s point of view is “heard” only in mere snippets…for the whole book? And how can hope weave its way onto the pages of a novel with betrayal center stage?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Building a Fictional Town

by +AneMulligan @AneMulligan

Building a fictional town in a historical novel isn't the easiest of tasks I've taken on, but it is fun. I prefer fictional towns to real ones, because nobody can tell me there was never a grocery store at the corner of Main and Peachtree. In face I've only written one novella set in a real town (a favor to the mayor of Sugar Hill).

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

An In Depth Look at the Noble Quest

by Rachel Hauck

While talking with my Mentee the other day, we were trying to flesh out her heroine’s Noble Quest. What does she want? What is this story about? What journey does she embark upon?

This is an essential part of the Hero/Heroine’s journey that is key to the story.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Six of the Worst Things About Being a Writer

by James L. Rubart

This is far from a comprehensive list, but don't you think six is enough for one serving?

1. Comparing Yourself to Others/Doubt/Insecurity- I combined these three into one since they’re brothers, or at least close cousins. We compare because we doubt which comes out of our insecurity.

“Why did I think I should do this?”

“I’ll never make it.”

“How can I call myself a writer when everyone else is so much better?”

Monday, May 15, 2017

Using The Five Senses Makes Good Sense

by Pamela S. Meyers

Every year around this time the air around my midwestern region becomes fragrant with the scent of lilacs. This lasts for about a week—maybe two—before the blooms fade and we have to wait another year to enjoy the sweet scent.

Whenever I take in a deep breath and smell that scent I am taken back to my fourth grade classroom on an unusually humid and warm spring day. All the windows were open and the heady scent of lilacs filled the classroom. I remember breathing in that wonderful fragrance and loving it more every time. There was nothing like it back then, and to me, there isn't anything like it today.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

3 Reasons to Try Dictating Your Book

by Becky Wade

In the past, whenever I heard authors touting the benefits of dictation, I'd nod politely while inwardly thinking, That is NOT for me. I couldn't do it. My writing process includes sitting in front of my computer while blanketed with quiet.

Then I read an article in RWA's Romance Writer's Report about how much faster an author can write her rough draft if she speaks it aloud and lets voice recognition software do the typing. It gave me pause, that article. I'm a slow writer and penning the rough draft isn't my favorite part of the process. Just how much more quickly and easily could I write the rough draft through dictation? Was my computer really an integral part of my writing process?

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Only Thing Writers have to Fear. . .Is Fear Itself!

by Patty Smith Hall
“So first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”  

~Franklin D. Roosevelt

Well, Mr. Roosevelt, easier said than done!

Most writers I’ve met over my twenty-year writing journey have experienced fear about their work at some time or another.

Friday, May 12, 2017

A Story’s Sacred Circle

by Allen Arnold

We all long for our stories to make an eternal impact. Yet so few books seem to shine for more than a moment.

I believe what’s missing is an eternal spark. And that only comes from the glow of those writers who have spent time with the Creator. Only what is co-created with God has that brilliance.

I call that process entering into a Story’s Sacred Circle. Let me explain. Picture a bulls-eye with concentric color rings that grow outward from the center. It’s the kind you’ve thrown darts at as a kid or maybe shot arrows at when you were older. Everyone aims for the small red circle in the middle. Sure, it’s easier to hit the wider circles. But you don’t get many points when you’re far from the center.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Wordpainting for Emotional Effect

by Susan May Warren

Two weeks ago we took a look at 4 Tips to writing ACTIVE description.

This week, let’s take a look at incorporating those 4 Tips and Wordsmithing your description.

Once you have all the elements of FOCUS, or your metaphorical word pool, you want to start putting it together.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hitting Pause Button While We Take A Deep Breath

by Normandie Fischer

This month, I'm hitting the pause button and taking a deep breath. Maybe you're in need of the same thing.

Since the re-release of my 2013 novel, Sailing out of Darkness, readers have begun chatting with me about the book's issues, specifically, depression. Which brought this essay to mind, because I don't think depression only exists for my characters or my readers.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Brainstorming Etiquette

by Lynette Eason

Writing can be an incredibly isolating venture. For those of us who are introverts, it’s not a big deal. We actually like the “aloneness”. However, whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, there are times during the writing process where we need to come together with others and brainstorm.

Brainstorming is an amazing process. For example, I was having a hard time figuring out where I needed to go next in my story. I had a situation where I needed a teen to leave the hospital and disappear. But I didn’t know why I needed her to do that. At least not completely. I had a vague idea. 

Monday, May 08, 2017

One Author's Journey

by Jacob Airey

This the story behind my writing journey. I hope it will give you inspiration as you try to find someone who will publish your novel.

When I was nine years old, I was given a copy of “The Hound of the Baskersvilles,” a Sherlock Holmes mystery. It made me love reading, but more importantly, it made me want to write. I experimented with short stories and poems, even as young as ten. A few years later, I started the process of writing my first novel.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Finding The Voice

by Marcia Lee Laycock

The voice coming out of the recorder did not sound like me. I wrinkled my nose. I wasn’t sure I liked the sound of it. But the interviewer laughed. “Everyone I interview says the same thing. Keep in mind, this is an electronic version of your voice. It’s not the real thing.”

That got me thinking. What is the “real thing” in terms of my “voice” as a writer? Everyone tells us we have to have one, and that it must be strong and distinctive. But how do you know if you even have one? It’s one of those rather illusive things that is difficult to describe and it’s almost impossible to teach someone how to find it.