Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thursday Review—My Book Therapy

This week I want to bring an amazing resource to your attention—especially if you’re trying to connect with those who write fiction or creative non-fiction.

My Book Therapy is a website started by award-winning, best-selling novelist, Susan May Warren. Susie has a heart to help others achieve their publishing dreams, and I was fortunate enough to stumble on this group in 2009 at the ACFWAnnual Conference. This group has become my go-to place for a lot of my online, fiction writing and community needs.

This group has also become my community. It's where I go when I need support or sympathy. These men and women share much more than just a love of writing. They care about each other's successes, struggles and triumphs no matter what the arena. As a writer, community is vitally important and I can't imagine a better one than what I've found at My Book Therapy.

It’s so simple to get plugged in here, to become a part of the group—you just have to sign up to become a voice. As of December 1, 2011, there will be a tiered membership option, with the higher levels requiring a small monthly fee. But general membership will still be free. So what advantage is there to becoming a Voice? 
  • An amazing bi-monthly writing e-zine, called, appropriately enough, Voices.
  • A weekly Monday night chat with experts to help you develop your story and your writing skills.
  • A daily blog, covering fiction writing techniques, editing, social networking and the business side of writing.
  • A place to connect with other writers who share your passion for excellence and genre.
  • Special events, online and in person, some open only to Voices. 
  • An active, confidential, prayer team.

I know a lot of you who follow this blog are also members of My Book Therapy and I’d love for you to share what it’s done for you.

In the meantime…
Don’t forget to join the conversation!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How to Craft a Perfect Facebook Post using Headline Techniques

With a compelling headline a browser becomes a reader. In the same way, a compelling Facebook post gives the web surfer the impetus to visit your blog or buy your book. But what makes a great headline? The best contain your entire message in one memorable bite…without spoiling the ending.

Here are some of the basic types of headlines: 
  • Direct Headlines go straight to the heart of the matter, without any attempt at cleverness. A direct Facebook post might read Free SEO E-book.
  • An Indirect Headline takes a more subtle approach. It uses curiosity to raise a question in the reader’s mind. It frequently uses clever words with double meanings. One of my favorites was, Why You Should NOT have a Facebook page. The actual blog post was written tongue-in-cheek about not wanting to promote a product.
  • News Headline is pretty self-explanatory, as long as the news really is news. It might be a product announcement, an improved version, or even a content scoop.  Introducing the New Google Plus.
  • The How to Headline is everywhere—mainly because it works. Just be careful not to work it too much. How to Craft a Perfect Facebook Post.
  • Question Headline must be more than just a question—it must be something your audience is actually interested in. How can Google Plus Help You?
  • The Command Headline issues an order, telling the reader what to do, such as Subscribe to The Write Conversation Today!
  • Another effective technique is called the Reason Why Headline. This is where your popular Top Ten Reasons to … fall.
  • Finally, we have the Testimonial Headline, this works because it provides outside proof that what you offer has value. This is the only headline that uses quotation marks in the title. It lets the reader know this is a testimonial and will be continued in the body of the email.

What are some key components to a compelling headline?
  • It must provide the reader with the tools to evaluate the content.
  • It needs to resonate with a reader’s urgency.
  • It’s important to show the reader why this offer/product/person is unique.

And it must do all of this clearly and concisely.

Now it's your turn. Do you have a strategy when it comes to posting on Facebook? What makes a Facebook link one you want to click on? 

Don't forget to join the conversation!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Clash of the Titles Conquerors!

Congratulations to Delia Latham for taking the crown in last week's Staff Clash. Two anonymous COTT staffers went into the ring and readers had another hard choice to make. Some said:
  • "This was a cruel choice!! LOL! They were both excellent."
  •  (About Delia's excerpt): "Beautiful words expressing emotion and making the reader want more."
  •  "Intense emotions on both excerpts! Great job!"
  •  "Terrific excerpts!"
  • (About Katie's excerpt): "I need to know Wulf better! I have a feeling he's dreamy."
  • "Awesome clash with two well-written, emotion-packed scenes! Great job, authors!"
Of course, nobody knew at the time that those authors were Delia Latham and Katie McCurdy.
Both are recent additions to the staff. Delia has come on board as a Blog Alliance Correspondent, and Katie is the official Talent Scout. (Looks like COTT scouted some talent when they found these two gems.)
This fun excursion was a great interjection into the usual good times shared at Clash of the Titles. This week sees another fierce challenge with nameless authors nominated by COTT staff. Be sure to head over there and vote now!
And in just 2 weeks, the party begins! Mark your calendars for October 10th and be ready to play for extra prizes all month long as COTT celebrates it's first anniversary. Your vote will determine which of the year's winning authors will receive the ultimate honor: the Laurel Award.
* by Assistant Editor of COTT, Michelle Massaro 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Weekend Worship—Cross Roads

O taste and see that the Lord is good: how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Psalm 34:8

Photo provided by John Melson
Are you at a Cross road in your life? Has God brought you to a point where you don’t know which way to go on your journey with Him? Well, don’t feel like you’re alone. These moments come to all of us. I have so many things I can spend my time on—necessary things—all of them good things. As a matter of fact the only thing I know is that there isn’t enough time in the day to do everything! I can usually decide between good and evil, that’s a no brainer, but good and good, that’s much tougher.

This hits me constantly in my writing life. I have so many things I can spend my time on—how do I know what to chose? I’ve found there’s one choice that’s right every time. I’ve learned to chose God.

I know, it sounds like a Sunday school answer, one of those situation when the teacher asks a question and the answer is always God. I’m not talking about that kind of flip, hip answer. I’m talking about choosing a constant, consistent relationship with God, so that when those Cross roads appear, we’re ready. I’ve found that when we’re are walking closely with God, His leading is almost automatic. We get so tuned into His Spirit and His will for our lives, that we don't have to stop and think about our response.

On the other hand, when we’re walking in the flesh, in step with the world, our logic will usually lead us in the opposite direction from God. My logic, in and of itself, always seems to contain self justification and realization. I always know that I am out of step with Him when I have to stop and pray about every little thing, looking for God because I seem to have lost Him. I have wandered from His side and am once again seeking my own way. Of course there are times when I am walking with Him, and I am still unsure about what to do, but I find this doesn't happen as often.

So I encourage you to get in step with God. Build that relationship and let Him prepare you for the Cross roads ahead. Remember—He already know what you need to make the right decision.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top 10 Ways to Promote Yourself on Facebook WITHOUT Irritating Your Friends

Wow, my post last week generated a little bit more interest than I expected. The top two comments seemed to revolve around two issues:

The Lack of Dialogue on a Fan (Business) Page versus a Personal Page.
A lot of folks I’ve dialogued with this week have complained that a Fan Page is all about promotion—almost a hard-sell mentality. I think a lot of that stems from being unfamiliar with the medium. A Fan Page doesn’t have to be about promoting yourself. You don’t have to dump the dialogue to utilize a Fan Page.

How to Get People to LIKE a Fan (Business) Page.
The flip side of the lack of dialogue complaint is the fact that it is harder to get people to LIKE a page, as opposed to accepting a FRIEND request.

Today we’ll tackle both issues.

10. Utilize a three-pronged approach to social media. Use your blog, Twitter and Facebook to reinforce each other. Set them up to cross post and keep the conversation going. 

9.  Get on a schedule. Set a goal for how often you want to post updates—then stick to it. (Here's mine.)

8.  Give us the inside scoop. Let your fans see you as a person—not just a business. (Warning: Don’t go overboard with this. Just an occasional post about grandchildren or exercise goes a long way!)

7.  Promote others on YOUR Fan Page. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but trust me, it works.

6.  Visit the Facebook pages of your fans and friends. You want people to comment on your page, so comment on theirs.

5.  Put a Facebook button on your blog.

4.  Tweet about your Facebook page and USE the appropriate hashtags. (Don’t know how, click here tolearn.

3.  Decide what value you want to offer to your audience (fans). Then deliver content related to that. Don’t treat your Facebook Page like a bulletin board.

2.  Utilize headline techniques when you compose your Facebook posts. 

1.  Finally, stay up to date with your niche. For example, if you write romance, give us an occasional scoop into the romance genre. Has a new publisher come on the market, an old one shut down? Inquiring minds want to know.

In the next few weeks I’m going to continue with posts about Facebook and try to answer all your questions. So be sure to chime in.

And don’t forget to join the conversation!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Clash of the Titles, Tournament of Champions

Tourney Banner 2

Happy Anniversary, Clash of the Titles!

It's been almost a year since COTT opened its voting-booth doors and invited everyone in. Over the past twelve months, readers have chosen 25 Clash winners and received 48 free books. And along the way, a family formed. That family consists of the voters, authors, staff, and the 25+ blogs who have banded together in mutual support with COTT.

This is cause for major celebration! So COTT is doing it up to the nines.

Clash of the Titles' first annual Tournament of Champions begins next month! Over the course of four weeks, past winners from the previous year will compete in a series of clashes for the ultimate prize: the Laurel Award. The Laurel, COTT's most prestigious honor, is awarded by public vote to a single author among the year's champions.

Voters are expected to turn out in droves to support their favorites and participate in games just for readers. Each week, COTT sponsors—consisting of various authors and staff—will issue fun challenges to readers along with the chance to win gift cards, critique services, a business card design, and more. A dozen sponsors are lined up for the event so far. That's a lot of prizes!

Throughout the month, details and updates on the Tournament of Champions will be shared on the COTT website and featured within the Blog Alliance. To help spread the word, please grab the special Tournament Button (below) to display on your site. Then send a link to your page to: contactcott at gmail dot com to enter the special COTT Shout-About drawing. The drawing will take place during the first week of the Tournament and the winner will receive a Clash of the Titles mug.

Please also consider Tweeting or sharing this article on your Facebook wall.
(it only takes a second--just click the share button.)

Mark your calendars and spread the word. This BYOV (Bring Your Own Vote) party begins on October 10th!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Weekend Worship—Working with God

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:5

I am constantly amazed that the God of the universe has chosen to work through us. I don’t know about you, but I am totally unworthy and unequipped for the honor. And looking at the condition of our world, I have to occasionally throw my hands up in frustration and ask, “What were you thinking?” Obviously, if He were doing the work Himself, we’d all be a lot better off

…or would we.

Some of my fondest memories as I was growing up were times I spent in the kitchen with my grandmother. She’d back a kitchen chair up to the counter, wrap one her old aprons twice around me and together we’d spend the afternoon cooking. My grandmother never used recipes and I don’t ever remember seeing her open a cookbook. All her skill—and it was impressive—was completely intuitive. No matter how many dishes she had on the stove, or in the oven, she always knew when one needed a pinch of salt, an addition of bacon fat or to be plucked—perfectly done—from the oven.

But with all her skill, she always found a way to include me and make me a vital part of the process. She could have gotten the meals on the table much faster without my childish help, but I know she enjoyed our time together as much as me. I’m certain of this because I did the same thing with my boys. I included them, not because I needed their help, but because I wanted to spend time with them and maybe teach them something in the process.

God does the same thing with us. He doesn’t need our help or our resources, but he includes us because we’re precious to him.

And, just maybe, we’ll learn something in the process.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Facebook—Personal Page or Fan Page—Choose the Right Facebook Options

Sometimes it seems that Facebook changes almost weekly. Nowadays there are almost as many options as there are Facebook users. But the question I hear the most from writers is:
“Should I have a personal page or a fan page?”

Today I’ll highlight some of the main differences between these two options and help you find the best choice for your situation.

Personal Page:
A personal page is foundational for your Facebook membership. To have any other kind of page you MUST have a personal one. (There is an exception if you open a business page, but this really isn’t applicable for writers)

Note: I’ve seen several posts lately on email loops, advocating opening multiple Facebook pages under different email addresses/names, to manage family and work contacts separately. You should know this is violation of the Facebook guidelines and will get you banned from Facebook.

Why Stick With a Personal Page?
  • It’s probably where the majority of your friends are located.
  • For some reason, many people will accept a FRIEND offer, but won’t LIKE a page.
  • It’s personal and feels more like a friendship and less like a business relationship.
  • You have less than 5000 friends. Although, I have over 600 friends and I’m finding that a personal page is becoming unwieldy to manage. 

Fan Page:
  • These pages offer you the option of a landing screen before a reader clicks the LIKE button.
  • These pages offer you the option of a reward page after a reader clicks the LIKE button. This allows you to offer a free eBook or other incentive for Liking your page.
  • If you have more than 5000 friends, Facebook requires you to move to a Fan Page.

Privacy Concerns:
If you haven’t joined Facebook yet, I encourage you to take the plunge. There have been many warnings about Facebook and the way it violates privacy.

Here is my personal opinion about Facebook
It’s a tool—not a good tool or a bad tool—just a tool.
When used correctly it can be a great thing. It connects people and brings a lot of good.
When used wrong, it can do great damage.
But it isn’t inherently good or bad.

That said, there are some privacy settings you probably should enable. You find these under the Account Settings, under Privacy. 
  • You should limit all your posting visibility to FRIENDS only, not FRIENDS OF FRIENDS.
  • I keep my contact information public because I want to be found. As a writer, I want people to know my name.
  • I also keep all my LOCATION settings turned off. I can’t think of any reason I’d want someone to know the location of where I’m posting from. If I do, I can mention it in the post. 

With these privacy settings and a strong password, you should find yourself with a safe and manageable Facebook account.

Next week I’ll be answering some random questions about Facebook. So if you have any, be sure to post them in the comments section so I’ll cover them.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Clash of the Titles

The other day my daughter orally lamented a previous conversation. “I always think of my best come-backs too late.” I know how she feels, although I’m probably on the other end of the spectrum—I often wish I hadn’t said X or Y once the conversation is done. At least in writing we can carefully craft our words, which should make it easier, right? Not necessarily. Writing effective, authentic, snappy dialogue is a skill that must be honed. And yet, when done well, it plunges the reader deep into the story and provides vivid characterization.

This last week two authors threw their “chatty-keyboards” into the Clash of the Titles' ring and although both excerpts were phenomenal, Sarah Sundin, author of A Memory Between Us, wowed readers with her printed banter.

Here’s a snippet of her COTT competing excerpt:
Jack made out Ruth’s shapely figure coming down Northgate Street. She couldn’t afford the new olive drab uniforms some of the nurses wore, but she sure looked smart in the dark blue jacket and medium blue skirt.

Jack stepped back around the corner. He unzipped his lightweight leather flight jacket, made sure his shirt collar was open, and stuffed his hands into the pockets of his olive drab trousers. Had to look casual.

He let Ruth pass, then fell in behind her. “‘One misty moisty morning.’”

Ruth looked over her shoulder and smiled.

“‘When cloudy was the weather, I chanced to meet an old man clothed all in leather. He began to compliment and I began to grin. How do you do? And how do you do? And how do you do again?’”

Amusement crinkled her eyes. “It’s afternoon.”

“Yeah, but it’s misty and moisty. Life in England has taught me what that means.”

“No misty moisty mornings in California?”

“In January, not August.” Jack proceeded down the flagstone sidewalk. “And look, you chanced to meet an old man clothed all in leather.”

Gotta love that phrase, “Misty, moisty morning,” an example of great dialogue and fun alliteration!

The story it came from is about a determined soldier on a mission to win a woman’s heart:
Major Jack Novak has never failed to meet a challenge--until he meets army nurse Lieutenant Ruth Doherty. When Jack lands in the army hospital after a plane crash, he makes winning Ruth's heart a top-priority mission. But he has his work cut out for him. Not only is Ruth focused on her work in order to support her orphaned siblings back home, she also is determined not to give her heart to any man.

As the danger and tension of World War II rise to a fever pitch, Jack and Ruth will need each other more than ever. Can Jack break down her defenses? Or are they destined to go their separate ways?

From the English countryside to the perilous skies over France, A Memory Between Us takes you on a journey through love, forgiveness, and sacrifice.

Sarah Sundin is the author of A Distant Melody. Her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force in England during WWII. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.

Romance, tough, rugged men, and rich history make this novel a must read!
Want to nibble on a few more COTT winning excerpts and win great prizes in the process? Make sure to join us for the ultimate literary challenge where COTT winners go head to head in our Tournament of Champions on October 10th to November 4th! What better way to launch the Holiday season than with a stash of great books won in our tournament give-away?

*Jennifer Slattery writes for Christ to the World Ministries, Samie Sisters, Afictionado, the Christian Pulse, and is the marketing manager of the literary website, Clash of the Titles. She also co-hosts (with five other authors) the Facebook faith community, Living by Grace, a modern-day “meet at the well” experience where believers around the globe can unite, fellowship, and be refreshed. Visit her devotional blog, Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud to find out more about her, her writing, and the ministries she writes for.
And make sure to hop on over to Clash of the Titles to help determine our next literary champion!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Weekend Worship—Deep Roots

A man will not be established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous will not be moved. Proverbs 12:3

Last weekend our family traveled to Mississippi. For those of you living in Mississippi or Louisiana, you know that the Labor Day Holidays were spent watching Tropical Storm Lee come onshore.

We were fortunate enough to be in Jackson, so all we experienced was a soggy weekend. It began raining thirty minutes after we arrived and didn’t end until after we left. The drive back to South Carolina wasn’t much fun, either.

Driving back along the interstate I couldn’t help but notice numerous trees down on the sides of the road. Although they were huge trees, it was obvious the damage hadn’t come from high winds. But there were enough toppled to make me curious about the cause.

As I considered the soggy chaos, I realized the prolonged soaking rain had been the culprit. These particular trees, although still attached to seemingly large root-balls, hadn’t developed the extended root system necessary to anchor them in near flood conditions. Simply put, the rain had loosened the dirt, and without the root depth to anchor them, they’d fallen to their deaths.

Studying the unfolding scene outside the car window led me to wonder about my own root system. These tall trees had appeared strong and stable, but they lacked the strength to survive when calamity struck. I had become confident in my own ability to cope as of late, but truthfully, would I be able to weather disaster in my own life if it appeared?

God used this scene to remind me that only when I dig deep into a relationship with God will I find the strong foundation necessary to weather the inevitable storms of life. So how deep are your roots? Join me as I take time and dig in, anchoring myself to the only one able to provide security.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Thursday Review—Why Southwest Christian Writers Studio

I've had a lot of people ask me what makes this conference, beyond it's amazing setting at the Glorieta conference center in northern New Mexico, so special.
And I have a one word answer—craft.

This conference is all about improving your craft.

But aren’t they all? Well, yes…and no.

A lot of them have good instruction about craft, but few of them offer you the opportunity to practice. And they offer some serious temptation to get things out of order. Let me explain.

In this business it’s possible, even probable—depending on the subject matter, to get published while you’re still a new writer. But, and this is important, to make it in this business—to have any kind of longevity as a writer, you have to get better at writing.

And you’ll never do that pitching ideas to editors and agents. You have to spend time, put in the hours of practice, to become a craftsman. There is no substitute for slowing down, sitting at the feet of those who’ve become professional writers and learning.

Glorieta Conference Center Prayer Garden
Yes, you can learn from some great books out there, and you should. But in addition, it’s important to spend some actual time with writers who are ahead of you on the path. These folks know the ins and outs of the business. They’ve been there and can offer advice and wisdom about your specific journey. And that’s what Southwest has been designed to do.

This isn’t a series of 15 minute appointments, but a week long mentoring experience. But an old-fashioned time of hitting the keys (whether or not they’re on a modern keyboard) and there is no substitute for that.

We've taken five specific areas of writing, limited the overall size of the conference, and pulled in the experts. It’s set up for you to concentrate on two tracks, and stay with the same instructor all week. You have class time—and you have time to practice what you’re learning and get valuable feedback from the teachers. It’s an opportunity for in depth study and personal interaction with folks who are where you want to be.

So take a minute to visit our site and meet your mentors. At Southwest you won’t have a chance to pitch an agent or sell an article…but you will find the path to longevity, excellence and mastery.

What have been some of your experiences with writing conferences?  Do you have a favorite? Do you attend more than one a year? What do you look for?

Don’t forget to join the conversation!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

So How Much Time Do I REALLY Have to Spend on Social Networking?

Truthfully—the bare minimum.
Yep, you read that right.

But what about the hype, the promises, the RESULTS? Don’t the results increase in direct proportion to the effort? No, not so much.

Fairly quickly, the return on investment when, it comes to time and social networking, begins to diminish. I that sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s the absolute truth.

That said, how much time is required?
It depends…on your expertise, your audience and the desired result. 

Your Expertise
With any new skill, including social networking, there is a learning curve. It takes time to come up to speed on how to use Twitter, Facebook and Blogging platforms effectively.
But, you don’t need to become an expert. After all, you want to be a writer—not a social media expert! So how do you know when you're expert enough to be effective? Here are some basics you should have mastered:

Twitter: You need to have a Twitter account and know the basics of tweeting. Here is the first, second and third in a series I wrote about Twitter. And one stand alone post about Twitter.
  • How to compose an effective tweet.
  • How to use hashtags correctly. Here’s a post on that.
  • The difference between a direct message, a reply and a tweet.

Facebook: You need to have a Facebook account and know how to navigate Facebook. Here's a helpful post.
  • How to accept friend requests, as well as send them.
  • How to hide unwanted posts.
  • How to compose an effect Facebook post.
  • How to configure your account privacy settings to protect yourself and your family while still interacting with readers and clients.
  • The difference between a regular page and a fan page.

Blogging: You should have a blog—to practice writing on a deadline if nothing else. Here are parts one, two and three of a series I wrote on blogging.
  • You need to know how often to post. Unsure what’s best? Here’s a post to help you decide.
  • How to use keywords and labels effectively.
  • How to tie your title to your keywords.
  • How to use photos and videos to illustrate and partner with your posts.
  • How to answer comments effectively.
  • Which platform best suits your needs and skill level. Here is a comparison of the three most popular platforms.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be explaining these topics more in-depth. But for now here’s my short answer on how much time to spend each day—once you’re familiar with social networking.
You should spend no more than 30 to 45 minutes per day, five days a week on social networking. 

Yep, after talking with thousands of authors and writers, I’ve found that any more time than that becomes counter-productive and actually interferes with our writing.

If you’re spending more time than that per day, something’s not working. So now it’s your turn, how much time do you spend daily on social networking? Is it working for you? Do you know how to tell if it’s working? I’d love to have you share your answers and your questions in the comments.

And don’t forget to join the conversation!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Clash of the Titles, Dialogue—Snappy Dialogue, That Is

Coming Up at Clash of the Titles, October 10-November 4, 2011
The first annual, Tournament of Champions! 
Over a FOUR week period, SIXTEEN previous COTT champs will face-off in EIGHT different mini-Clashes.
Only ONE will take home The Laurel Award.
With Clashes, games, and prizes galore, you won't want to miss this month-long celebration!
*Guest post by Lisa Lickel
Dialogue lets your characters be heard. It’s their voice; their conversation amongst themselves. It’s how they tell their story. Dialogue is talk. Discussion. Arguments. Jokes. Questions and answers. Foibles. Mystery. Mesmerism. It’s the muscle on the skeleton of the story.
The writer’s ability to conquer natural dialogue comes out of how well we know our characters. The reader’s ability to hear natural-sounding dialogue comes from the depth from which he is drawn into the story.
      Using dialogue in a book helps readers see that characters spend time with each other for a reason, even if they’re stranded on desert islands. Tom Hanks had Wilson in the move Cast Away, after all. Dialogue is more than internal mutterings or their revelations to the reader. It needs to be heard, not just read. The words need to translate immediately to sound in the reader’s inner ear, and thus be natural, no matter the setting.
What can we deduce from these two small pieces of the excerpts in this Clash? Are you in time, in story, in the character’s emotions? Can you cheer for them? Figure out exactly what will happen next, or are you eager to turn the page for more?
“Would you mind if I walked with you?”
      “As long as we’re not together.”
      “All right.” He strode into the street and spread his arms as wide as his grin. “There. We’re not together.”
     “Jack!” she cried…. “Get back up here.” Ruth motioned frantically. “Don’t make me fix you up again.”
     “Perhaps you cannot wait for the wedding night?”
      Her brown eyes simmered. “Why you insufferable cad!” She raised her hand to slap him.
He caught it and lifted it to his lips for a kiss, eyeing her with delight.
She studied him then released a sigh. “You tease me, sir.” Snatching her hand from his, she stepped back. “But what would I expect from you?”
In a novel, talk must have a purpose. A conversation shouldn’t be talk for the sake of filling time or space. Readers have only until the last page to spend with people in a book, so writers must not waste time. Dialogue is meant to reveal something useful, important to the story line—passion, motive, or confession.
Why Snappy? Characters must speak true to their nature. While snappy it might not describe the personality, it implies action, tension, perhaps a slip of the tongue or a revelation that might even surprise the character, but certainly should surprise the reader.
Clash of the Titles hopes you are intrigued by these little snippets of story and want to find out more about the books and authors. Stop by and you’ll get that chance! Meet the authors and leave comments to enter the drawing for a free book. *Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives with her husband in a hundred and fifty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. Surrounded by books and dragons, she has written dozens of feature newspaper stories, magazine articles, radio theater, and several inspirational novels to date. She is also the senior editor at Reflections in Hindsight.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thursday Review—Christian Writers Guild Courses

Have you ever launched into a project, only to discover months later that you had done it all wrong?


Well, I have. And it was a novel-length fiasco.


When I completed the first draft of my novel—110,000 of the most amateurish writing every inked onto the page—I began searching for books on the craft of writing. I came across Writing for the Soul by Jerry B. Jenkins (which I reviewed here) and learned about the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild.

And guess what? The Christian Writers Guild offers classes.

Now, I’m all about going to a conference. Rubbing shoulders with writers, sitting across from faculty at supper and having your work critiqued in person. There’s no substitute for it.

But when I discovered the CWG courses, the chances of me going to a writers conference were about as good as my two year old getting that jetpack he’s been asking for. Sure, I’d written a novel, but I knew nothing about writing. And couldn’t justify asking my family to make sacrifices so I could learn.

But the Fiction that Sells course was doable. I had a real-life mentor, seven assignments and approximately four months to complete them. My mentor gave me my first taste of what it feels like to have someone (not your best friend or your mom) edit your work. Scary stuff!

But guess what? I survived.

She cut me no slack. She even went through half of one assignment, marking it up and commenting along the way, and then sent it back to me and told me to try again. She wasn’t being unkind. She was pushing me. Encouraging me to become a better writer.

When I completed the course, she gave me high marks and told me to get myself to a conference. And with her feedback and encouragement, going to a conference no longer seemed like a dream, but a possibility.

If you’re serious about writing—fiction or nonfiction—you must put yourself in a position to learn everything you can and to have your writing critiqued by others. If a conference is not an option due to finances or timing, consider a CWG course. You’ll be glad you did.

Writing Essentials (prerequisite)
Fiction that Sells (short course)
Articles that Sell (short course)
Building your Social Media Platform (short course)

Are you a CWG member or graduate? Tell us about your experience in the comments.
Don’t forget to join the conversation.

Lynn Huggins Blackburn has been telling herself stories since she was five and finally started writing them down. On her blog Out of the Boat she writes about faith and family while her blog Perpetual Motion documents the joys and challenges of loving and rearing a child with special needs. A graduate of Clemson University, Lynn lives in South Carolina where she writes, reads, knits, takes care of three amazing children, one fabulous man and one spoiled rotten Boston Terrier.
Follow Lynn on Twitter @lynnhblackburn