Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Let My Words Be Few

by Heather Iseminger @Hiseminger

I can’t remember a time when my pencil didn’t scratch across paper or my fingers didn’t tap, tap, tap on a keyboard.

Writing is part of the air that fills my lungs and allows me to breathe. Crafting sentences into ideas is the way I express my most authentic self. I’m sure you can relate.

So what happens when God whispers, stop?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

First Rules of Critique—“Rule Two”

by Eva Marie Everson @EvaMarieEverson

Last month I talked with you about the first rule of critique, which is to know the level of the writer whose work you are critiquing.

So, let’s move forward with Rule #2: There are rules … and there is style.

About a year ago, an email came into my Firefly Southern Fiction managing editor mailbox (oh, yes . . . another hat I wear . . . ). In the text of the email was a book proposal. In the text of the email. Well, I knew immediately that this writer didn’t have an agent. As I only work with agented authors, I quickly wrote back (without reading the proposal, mind you), and asked if the author had an agent (knowing full well she would say “no.”).

She wrote back a short while later with, “I do not have an agent.”

Yeah . . . I kinda knew that (insert smile here). So, I thought I’d quickly shoot back that I only work with agented authors. But before I could hit the “compose” button on my email page, a thought came to me. Eva Marie, said the Thought, you are the president of Word Weavers International. You are supposed to offer a word of encouragement . . .

Oh. Yeah. So, I decided I’d peruse the first few lines of the “in the text of the email” work, offer a few “kudos here and there” and then suggest that when the author find an agent, she contact me again. Well, reading those first few lines led to reading the next few lines. And then a few more . . . until I was convinced I’d found the next great Southern writer. I was Max Perkins and this was my Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Thomas Wolfe all rolled into one fabulous female from Memphis now living in Malibu!

I got on the phone, called the author, and asked (stupidly), “You don’t have an agent?” She repeated that she did not. “Hold on,” I said. “I’ll call you back.” Then I jumped back on the phone and called a Southern Belle agent I know who I thought would be perfect for this Southern Belle writer. After I read the first several paragraphs out loud, the agent said, “What on earth is that glorious writing?”

Long story a tad longer . . .  the writer had a new agent . . .  the agent had a new client . . . and I had a new author.

But here’s the deal. The author, Claire Fullerton, broke one “rule” after the other for the sake of style in her work and, in the process, handed me a most delicious body of work. Months later, when I sent Mourning Dove (releases June 2018) to the proofer, and after she’d done her job on it, she wrote me and said, “She broke every CBA rule . . .  and did it beautifully.”

Here’s the problem as I see it: sometimes rules are made to be adhered to; sometimes rules are made to be broken. For example, I hear writerly people going on and on all the time about the cursed “semicolon.” To which I say, “If God hadn’t meant for us to use semicolons, He would not have invented them.” (Insert grin here.)

But, oh . . .  someone will say . . .  but they stop me in my tracks. Well then, buy new shoes. (More smiles inserted; I’m feeling cheeky today.)

Here’s another one: don’t use ellipses. Honey, Southern people speak and think in ellipses. Therefore, Southern writers have to use them. I’m not sure if that’s a rule, but I think it’s a law.

When we critique work, we must listen for voice. Voice is found within word choices and punctuation. Voice is found in style. Voice is what sets the writer apart from all other writers out there.

If, as a critiquer, you are unsure if the writer broke a rule on purpose, then simply ask, “Is this going to style?” I’m not suggesting that the writer will always know, especially if they are new to the craft. But many times they will.

Repeat Rule #1: Know the absolute rules (periods go at the end of sentences) and differentiate between rule and style. In doing so, you’ll help the writer find her voice.

First Rules of #Writing Critique—Rule Two - from @EvaMarieEverson on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Always, always know the #writing rules, then break the ones needed to make the work sing - @EvaMarieEverson (Click to Tweet)

In case you missed the other posts, here are the links:

First Rules of Critique, "Rule One"

First Rules of Critique, "Rule Three"
First Rules of Critique, "Rule Four"

Best-selling, award-winning author Eva Marie Everson is the president of Word Weavers International, the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference, and the contest director for Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Her latest novel, The One True Love of Alice-Ann (Tyndale), releases April 1, 2017.

Monday, November 27, 2017

A Shift in Social Media Relationships

by Bethany Jett @BetJett

Critics say that social media creates less personal face-to-face interaction. “Too often at events or parties, guests are attached to their smartphones tweeting or texting, but no one is truly engaging or interacting with the people around them” (Fowlkes, 2012).

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Holiday Games

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Don’t you just love a food-covered holiday table that’s about as big as a football field? You’re juggling several buttered rolls and a plate full of tasty side dishes while you’re trying to score some major turkey. It’s a big play. You have to really scramble to hit the turkey before all those ravenous relatives leave you stuck with only dark meat. First down and gravy to go.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Gratitude for Writers

by Cathy Fyock @CathyFyock

I love Thanksgiving. Focusing on our many gifts and the people who support us is uplifting.

As writers, we have many to thank for the words we produce and the lives we impact.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Don’t Let Rejections Derail Your Writing Journey

by Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

Here you go again. You click on the email from the publication or publishing house you’ve been dying to write for and find the all-too-familiar email: Thank you for your submission. Unfortunately, it doesn’t meet our editorial needs at this time.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

This Year I'm Changing My Please to Thanksgiving

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:12

We live in the midst of a material world. Everywhere we turn, someone is trying to sell us on the idea that things and circumstances lead to happiness. If I just have the perfect, house, car, kids, husband, wife, agent, publishing contact, etc., then I’ll be content. The list just keeps getting longer. And If something gets crossed off, three more things take it’s place.

So often my prayer is a reflection of this. It’s a laundry list of things I desire.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

How Many Times Did I Use That Word in My Writing?

by DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

Last week I finished a book and sent it to my publisher. Celebration time! Relief and satisfaction soared through me for completing the writing project. As always it was difficult from the time I researched my story idea until the editing stage.

But if a project is easy to revise, how can it possibly be dynamic?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Writing Devotions that are Short and Deep!

by Lucinda Secrest McDowell @LucindaSMcDowel

I couldn’t believe the assignment was to write ten devotions, using only 250 words. I knew I couldn’t do it—why it takes me almost 250 words to say Hello!

But I did. I completed that assignment and was thrilled to see my entries in a compilation book that arrived in today’s mail – Just Breathe.”

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Three Blessings of Being a Writer

by Andy Lee @WordsByAndyLee

For years I’ve taught the importance of counting our blessings. I’ve written that thankfulness must be a lifestyle not just a one-day event. I know these things. I’ve practiced thankfulness. I know its life-giving power.

But lately I’ve been deep in the mire of studying (again) about platform and social media and all those things we nonfiction writers must constantly work on. And I confess, I’ve been a little conflicted.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Lessons for the Writer from Michelangelo

by Emme Gannon @GannonEmme

When I first saw Michelangelo’s Pieta at the Vatican in Rome, I was filled with awe at the beauty and perfection of the marble image of the mother of our Lord holding the body of Christ just after his crucifixion. Michelangelo claimed that the block of Carrara marble he used to create this magnificent piece was the most perfect block he’d ever used. He would polish and refine this piece more than any other sculpture he created. When the artist’s work was complete, the clothing of the two figures looked less like stone and more like actual cloth because of natural-looking folds, curves, and deep recesses.

Friday, November 17, 2017

As a Writer, Whose Fame are you Seeking?

by Traci Tyne Hilton @TraciTyneHilton

Almost ten years ago a woman got very famous very fast with her indie publishing. The name Amanda Hocking was on the lips of every indie in the country. Readers loved her and she made a million dollars on the ten books that had previously been gathering dust in her drawer.

Of course I’d trade my experience for hers. I’d be a fool not to. But as I started my own journey I watched her and was determined to do it a little differently. I didn’t want my name to be famous. I wanted my characters to be famous. I wanted people to be talking about Mitzy Neuhaus, not Traci Tyne Hilton.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Look for the “Lean” in Publishing

by Cyle Young @CyleYoung

The most arduous of being a published author is actually the “process” of becoming a published author. Aspiring writers have to jump through so many hoops—writing conferences, writing retreats, endless platform building, elevator pitches, critique groups, and workshops.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Tips to Help Maximize Your First Five Pages

by Katy Kauffman @KatyKauffman28

One of your greatest marketing tools as an author is the first five pages of your book. Once a potential buyer looks at your title, cover, back cover copy, and Table of Contents, they’re likely to look at your first five pages. If the first paragraph wows them, they’ll keep reading. If the wow factor is missing, you may miss a possible sale.

So how do you maintain the “wow” factor of your first five pages and maximize the appeal of your book?  Here are five ways to keep the wow factor going.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Finding Contentment in Writing

by Cindy Sproles @CindyDevoted

Is there contentment in writing? We’re a people of instant gratification. If others don’t give us what we want, when we want it—we simply take matters into our own hands and make it happen. 

This attitude is one that grieves me. I’m not sure when it began to happen but somewhere along the way, understanding the importance of working hard and receiving success has gone by the wayside. These days we just “do it ourselves” regardless of the impending consequence.

Monday, November 13, 2017

5 Last Minute Blog Post Ideas

Don't ever get caught without a blog post idea again.
by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

We’ve all done it. Waited until the last minute and we’re rushing to come up with a blog post idea, write it, and get it up. Sometimes it’s because life has gotten in the way, sometimes it’s just because we haven’t planned well.

The reason why we’re scrambling isn’t as important as what to do when it happens. Now is definitely not the time to beat ourselves up or panic. Instead, here is my list when I need a blog post fast.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

What is Art?

God  is glorified when we put words on paper.
by Sarah Van Diest @SarahVanDiest

“In the beginning, God created . . . .” Gen.1:1.

On my plane ride home from Switzerland this week, I sat by an artist. She showed me recent drawings in her sketch pad and photographs of her paintings. I was in awe. Her work went beyond realism and into an expressive realm of profound artistic mastery.

“I found my voice last year,” she said. That’s what she called it, her “voice.” We use that same term in writing, but I didn’t realize painters and other artists of all types used it, too.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Are You Living Life Revved Up or Relaxed?

by Beth Vogt @BethVogt

I experienced the whole “stuck in overdrive” ordeal  for real yesterday.

I was driving on the highway when my car started revving up and, even when I tried to brake, the car wouldn’t slow down. I was coming up on my exit — and a red light — in a minute or less, and praying my car would stop even as I imagined my car driving straight into the intersection and oncoming traffic.

Friday, November 10, 2017

How Personal Little Stories Become Big Bestsellers

by Marcia Moston @MarciaMoston

Okay. We’ll re-situate the elephant in the room right away: It helps to have contacts and clout when you’re writing personal narrative. That being said, it still took more than money, influence and a gregarious personality to make the anecdotes and life experiences of the following writer leap off the paper, into our hearts and onto bestseller lists. 

Last month, I addressed some of the things I learned about writing from other authors, notably, Rick Bragg. This month I’m sharing writing tips I’ve gleaned from Bob Goff ’s book Love Does. If you’re listening Bob, “Put your humble hat on, because I’m gonna praise you” (as I heard one preacher say).

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Tips for Writers—When Deadline Madness Descends

by Linda Gilden @LindaGilden

I’m coming down the home stretch on a book deadline. A book that I have loved writing. A book that has consumed my life for a month. A book that I will be able to proudly share with you sometime after Christmas.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Making Memes with iPiccy

by Cynthia Owens @EfficiencyADict

Reviewing iPiccy, a free online photo-editing tool.

I’ve long been a fan of PicMonkey and Canva’s photo-editing websites, but when PicMonkey changed to a fee-based service in late September, I looked for other options. Don’t misunderstand—I’m still a PicMonkey fan. I just prefer to share tips about free tools whenever possible. Enter, a robust and still free online photo-editing tool.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Writing Book Reviews—A Door Into a Publication

Use writing book reviews as a road to publication
by Tim Suddeth @TimSuddeth

One of the problems with being a new writer is. . . you’re new. Like a new employee, you haven’t established that you can show up, advise the customers, be on time, or are able to run the cash register. (Ugh, I still have nightmares where all the keys are blank.)

And like all new career seekers, we scream, “How am I supposed to get experience if I can’t get a job?” (Ever heard that before?)

Friday, November 3, 2017

A Tribute to a Friend

Bruce, we're all better because you were our friend.
by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Today is the post I have dreaded writing for over a year.

Our writing comrade, fellow believer and close friend, Bruce Brady, is no longer with us. He was one of the small percentage who knew time was short, so many of us had the chance to say goodbye. My husband Kirk and I were privileged to be with him and Candice and their family at the end.

It doesn’t lesson the immense loss I feel.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

How To Write When Everything Goes Wrong - a Book Review

by Lynn Blackburn @LynnHBlackburn

A book review from Lynn Blackburn
Ah . . . the writing life.

When we’re pursuing publication, our imaginations paint a picture of a world where we can always write during our most productive and creative hours, where there is plenty of time for refilling our creative tanks, where everyone around us is supportive and where there’s plenty of coffee and chocolate.

Maybe that last bit is just my ideal, but you get what I mean.

Even when we try to be realistic, we don’t usually imagine any worst case scenarios. When we think of how we would handle our writing in times of trouble, we tend to think of curve balls.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Editing Your Book, Part IV—Line Editing, the 500 Foot View

Learn the process of editing your book.
by Sarah Sally Hamer @SarahSallyHamer

There are four basic types of editing:

Developmental Editing
Substantive Editing
Line Editing
Copy Editing

Each type of editing offers an opportunity to look at a manuscript from a different place. Today, we work with Line Editing (LE).

LE is where, finally, you make it pretty.