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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 
@peterleavell

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

WHAT IF?… SO WHAT?... WHY?

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.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Will the Real Author Please Stand Up?

by Laurie Tomlinson

When Viola Davis was called for her first Academy Award this year, I immediately wondered how on earth this could be her first one?The woman is incredibly talented, poised, and I have wished on more than one occasion that she (as Aibilene on The Help)could wake me up every morning:

You is kind. You is smart. You is important.

What stuck out to me the most was a post-awards interview with ABC News, in which Ms. Davis admitted to having impostor syndrome.

“It feels like my hard work has paid off, but at the same time, I still have the impostor syndrome," she said. "I still feel like I'm going to wake up and everybody's going to see me for the hack I am.”

Monday, March 06, 2017

Create an Awesome Marketing Plan—Part 1: Intro

by Melissa Tagg

Melissa Tagg here. Today and for a few posts to come, I’d like to talk about the components of the marketing plan you include in your novel’s proposal. And make no mistake, you NEED to include one.

The fact is, agents and publishers are looking not just at our writing, but at us. And if they’ve got three or four equally stellar proposals representing equally amazing books sitting in front of them, then at the end of the day, if they can only choose one, they’ll pick the author with the best platform and the best marketing plan.

In other words, they’re going to go with the author who is willing to work the hardest…not just at the writing of the book, but at the marketing of it.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

I Am Not A Writer

By Marcia Lee Laycock @MarciaLaycock

For many years, indeed, for as long as I can remember, my identity has been totally and inextricably bound up in being a writer. It’s not just what I am, I told myself, it’s who I am. Sadly, over the years, that perception led me to a place that was filled with stress and burden. In fact, it became like a prison in a way, a prison of my own making.

Today I am declaring that no, indeed, I am not a writer. Every time those words enter my consciousness I feel the chains fall away. I don’t have to produce. I don’t have to publish. I don’t have to succeed. It is not who I am.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Ready for Middle Grade Novels?

by Ron Estrada

We’re constantly told to write what we love to read. Easier said than done, because I find that most writers read a wide range of genres. But I had a long discussion with myself late last year and was forced to admit that I love YA novels, even the contemporary, nearly romantic ones.

But it didn’t end there. I think somewhere around the time I read Moon Over Manifest, I realized the frightening truth.

I’m a middle-grade geek.

Here’s the other cold hard truth I realized: actual middle-graders who love to read are honest to the point of cruelty and don’t give second chances.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

by Elizabeth Musser @EMusserAuthor

We’ve all heard the quip, when starting out on the writing journey, ‘don’t quit your day job.’ It is usually offered by a caring friend (or editor) who knows that making a living in the writing world can be daunting. But I’ve found that keeping my day job has not only put food on the table but has also blessed my writing. For the past twenty years, my day job as a missionary in Europe has inspired my other job of writing ‘entertainment with a soul.’ Paying attention to daily experiences, whatever that may include, can certainly provide us writers with great content for our stories. Here’s how my day job inspired my latest novel.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Sometimes You Gotta Take a Risk


by Dan Walsh

I think it's fair to say that I'm nowhere near as brave or courageous as most of the main characters in my novels. If I'm being honest, it might be accurate to describe me as a "Risk Adverse" kind of guy.

That's why the last few weeks have been pretty exciting for me. Some of you know my “author story.” At the end of 2014, I did something pretty risky. After being a traditionally published author with 12 contracted novels released over 6 years the old-fashioned way, I made the decision to leave my comfort zone and start publishing my books as an indie.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Giving a Webinar--Should You, Could You, Would You? (Part One)


by Linore Burkard

I recently gave my first webinar.

In the past, I'd wondered if it was something I could do, should do, or would do. I am a big proponent of continuously strengthening one's platform, and right off the bat, giving webinars in an area of expertise qualifies as a way to do that. I enjoy teaching, and I have a heart for helping other writers. So what was my hesitation?

The idea of being on camera intimidated me.