Monday, March 30, 2015

The Insecure Writer

It seems there's a Facebook group for everything out there. One of them caught my attention when a friend highlighted it on her blog: Insecure Writers.

Whether you're pre-published or published, there are plenty of questions rattling around your brain:


1.  Am I really a writer?
2.  Is what I'm writing good enough?
3.  Will anyone want to read what I write?


1.  Can I handle the marketing and still find time to write?
2.  What does it mean when readers are silent?
3.  Will I be able to write another book or am I a one-book wonder?

In the next few Monday posts, we'll take a look at some of these questions and hopefully discuss them in the comments.

Writers:  What are some of the things that concern you (pre-published or published)?

Readers:  What does it mean when you're silent about a book you've read? Does it automatically mean you didn't like it?

Photo Credit: yoshiako

Friday, March 27, 2015

Tool Chest/Christianity/Devotional

1.  Dena Netherton, at My Father's World, My Father's Words, gives 7 Ways to Build Your Tool Chest. This is great advice for both writers and non-writers.

2.  Pamela Christian always writes unique blog posts on what Christianity is all about. She tackles the subject, "Distinctions Unique to Christianity," in her latest post.

3.  Susan Panzica posted this devotional for Presidents' Day. (Okay, I'm a little late to the party here, but I thought she made some excellent observations.)

Writers:  We've often talked about ways to prime the creative pump. What non-writing activity gets your ideas flowing?

Readers:  Do books (other than the Bible) inspire/influence your daily life? Please share.

Philippians 4:19

Photo Credit:  vierdrie

Monday, March 23, 2015

What Bugs Me About Reviewing Books?

Reading is one of my favorite activities. It's not unusual for me to have 2-3 books going at the same time.

I also enjoy recommending books, but the rating system of stars leaves much to be desired. While I may enjoy the story, perhaps certain aspects of a book don't sit well with me. For example: I've read stories that I loved, but they had some technical/formatting/writing issues.

So...I propose that we have a two-tier system for reviews like the ice skating world. They rate skaters on their technical ability and then on their artistry.

Writers and Readers:  What do you think of my idea? Should I incorporate this into my book recommendations/reviews here on the blog?

Photo Credit:  drivving

Friday, March 20, 2015

Purpose/Humor/Surviving a Writing Drought

1.  Jennifer Slattery, at Faith, Friends...and Chocolate, asks, "Are You Living on Purpose." Whether or not we're writers, our schedules can leave us with no down time to just enjoy life.

2.  Carol Heilman guest posts at Seriously Write. She talks about letting your humor show.

3.  Kathleen McCleary posts at Writer unBoxed about surviving a drought (the writing variety). I'm always interested in how writers handle those times.

Writers:  Do you include humor in your writing? Please share.

Readers:  Do you take time to relax, unwind, and re-charge? What's your favorite way to take a break from that endless to-do list?

Have a blessed week!

Photo credit:  michaelaw

Monday, March 16, 2015

For The Love of Reading

I'll never forget the first time I set foot in a library with my mother. Reading didn't come easily to me, so it was somewhat intimidating.

With my first library card in hand, we entered the children's section and found some interesting titles. One of the books was called, "The Doll's House." It was about tiny people who lived in a child's doll house. At night, when everyone was asleep, they'd gather food crumbs and other essentials to daily living. I was totally hooked.

By the time I reached sixth grade, I was reading seven books a week. I turned to bookstores and catalogs as the library ran out of titles to satisfy my voracious reading appetite. Christmas and birthday Wish Lists always included books.

I longed for Christian books about kids like me. They were few and far between in those days, but the ones I found brought me closer to the Lord.

Today, parents and children have so many great Christian novels available. Libraries will often purchase books on request or borrow them from another library. Visiting the library can provide hours of FREE entertainment for youngsters and adults.

Writers and Readers:  Do you recall your early reading experiences? Please share.

Photo Credit:  alko

Monday, March 9, 2015

Brain Freeze and Writer's Block

Every time I finish a book, the thought crosses my mind: Will I be able to do this again? What if I can't think of another story? Ice cream can't begin to compete with the brain freeze these questions generate.

Once the pain subsides, I go back to square one. I remember how God helped me write the other books. Prayer got me over the hurdles of plot twists, getting characters out of trouble, and a host of other problems.

As a seat-of-the-pants writer, my process is simple. An idea is born, and I sit down and write. One baby step after another, one word, sentence, paragraph, chapter after another. Then I type, "The End."

I'm not a daredevil or risk taker by nature, so this feels rather like jumping off a cliff. Each new project requires a leap of faith. From past experience, I know everything will work out okay.

Still - that first step - it's a tough one. I will get through this. I will survive.

Writers:  What's the toughest part of writing for you?

Readers:  Many situations can create anxiety. How do you get past it and take on new adventures?

Photo Credit: becco

Friday, March 6, 2015

Beta Readers/Free Writing/Word Usage

1.  Have you ever been asked to be a Beta reader by an author? Getting an advanced look at a manuscript is exciting, but carries with it a responsibility. Cindy Sproles guest posts at The Write Conversation and gives Beta readers some guidance on what to look for in an Advanced Reader Copy.

2.  Bryan Collins guest posted at Positive Writer. I loved this article! I could see many similarities in his free writing and my Seat-of-the-Pants method. It's a great way to break through writer's block or as a warm-up for your "real" writing.

3.  It gets me a little crazy when I see words misused. One of the words I see people mangle is "pique." Shanan, at The Procrastiwriter, demystifies this word and sets everyone straight on its usage.

Writers:  Have you experimented with free writing? Please share.

Readers: Have you ever been asked to be an author's Beta reader? Did you make notes on what you liked, typos, things that confused you, etc.? Please share your experience.

Have a blessed weekend!

Photo Credit:  nkzs

Monday, March 2, 2015

Power Grab

When I approached some agents/editors with The Moses Conspiracy, they couldn't fathom a United States in such a dire condition. All kinds of arguments were put forth:

1.  The people would never stand for their rights being taken away.

2.  Many organizations worked to protect our freedoms.

3.  Our Constitution and the Bill of Rights protect us from power grabs.

Hmm. These comments and others came over a period of five years. Less than 10 years later, we've seen dramatic changes in this country. Here are a few items out of thousands to consider:

1.  At a recent doctor visit, he did not give me a written prescription. He said new rules were being put in place that everything had to be done electronically. His comment: "Big Brother wants to know what kind of medicines you're taking."

2.  A news story came out in February that Samsung was warning voice recognition users that its software would capture all conversation and be stored. Don't have a private conversation in front of your TV or other device if it's activated.

Many are comparing this to George Orwell's 1984. Soon you won't be able to have a private conversation anywhere.

3.  Presidents are increasingly using Executive Orders to circumvent the legislative process. Congress is the only branch of government allowed to pass laws. This disturbing trend threatens our freedoms because it allows the Executive Branch to overrule the will of the people.

It's not about politics or religion. It's about freedom - pure and simple - and affects everyone in this country.

Photo Credit:  Smicko

Friday, February 27, 2015

Important Real Estate/Can't Happen Here?/Faith

1.  Do you know what to include in your author/writer bios? Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, talks about this much-neglected subject as important real estate.

2.  We've read articles on homeschooling being outlawed/restricted in Germany. Can't happen here? Think again. WND reports on a homeschool family in Arkansas that had a scary experience.

3.  Quiet Spirit, at Following My King, has a devotional blog you might like to visit. Check out her article on Confessing Your Faith.

Writers:  What do you put in your bios?

Readers:  Do you read devotional books/blogs? What are some of your favorites?

Photo Credit:  sikarios

Monday, February 23, 2015

From Hunt-and-Peck to Proficient

I stepped into the 7th grade typing classroom with its rows of Underwood manual typewriters and the huge keyboard diagram above the blackboard. My days of hunt-and-peck typing would soon be a thing of the past, and I'd be closer to my chosen profession of secretary.

The glamor soon wore off as the teacher put us through endless drills. Finally, we began typing blocks of text. Looking down at our hands brought a sharp reprimand. This was a touch-typing class. In 8th grade we encountered more drills, more challenges, and built our speed.

Five years of typing classes taught me some important lessons:

1.  A strong foundation prepares you for bigger and better things.

2.  Repetition embeds needed principles in your brain.

3.  Practice promotes manual dexterity for typing and promotes what I call "muscle memory." After awhile, your fingers respond to the brain's commands with lightning speed.

We all want to be experts overnight, but it takes time and hard work. Instead of moaning about the learning curve, I've embraced it. Those halting initial steps toward our goals - whether writing or some other endeavor - will have a reward if we don't give up.

Writers:  How did you build your writing foundation?

Readers:  Learning how to read takes time and effort. What gave you the most difficulty with acquiring that skill?

Proverbs 13:4 (KJV): " The soul of the sluggard desireth, and [hath] nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat."

Photo Credit:  andreweld

Friday, February 20, 2015

Critiques/Don't Be Prepared/Staying Limber on a Road Trip

1.  Have you ever been shattered by criticism of your writing? The Positive Writer shows how to give constructive criticism in a way that doesn't discourage or put down the writer. These are valuable tips for those who belong to critique groups or edit.

2.  Do you like a good devotional? Adelee Russell, at Rewritten, tells us, "Don't be Prepared." I don't know about you, but I'm a proactive sort of person, so I HAD to read this.

3.  Dena Netherton, at My Father's World, My Father's Words, talks about exercise on the road.

Writers:  Do you belong to a critique group? Please share your experience.

Readers:  How do you keep from getting stiff during long road trips?

Photo Credit:  livaya

Monday, February 16, 2015

5 Ways Writing Changed My Perspective

I don't think I have to tell you that air travel has changed over the years. This didn't impact me personally since I didn't go anywhere. Yes, I booked travel for my company and had to know about airfares, schedules, booking online, and a myriad of other details, but it was more theoretical than practical.

My perspective did an about face when I had to book travel for myself. How was I going to get to the airport? What was I allowed to take in my carry-on luggage? How long would it take to get through security? All of these issues hit home.

In the same way, the addition of "writer" to my resume changed the way I thought about books:

1) The voracious reader in me read the story and recognized certain fiction techniques like show/don't tell, passive versus active voice, deep point of view, etc.

2)  I noticed when writing rules were broken and tried to discern whether it was a lapse on the author's part or a deliberate way to make the story work.

3)  When a story gripped my emotions, I wanted to know why and how to make that happen in my own novels.

4)  If the story made me forget about doing all the above, I knew it was a truly well-written tale.

5)  When the mechanics were right and the "heart" came through, the reading experience became something treasured.

Wanting to give the reader that almost magical trip into a character's world pushes me to improve my skills. The reading/writing process combined to birth a new story and give me an appreciation for both.
Writers:  How did writing either fiction or non-fiction change your reading habits?

Readers:  Is there some area of your life that went from being important for others to something deeply personal? Examples:  Babysitting versus being a mom, researching health issues for someone else versus grappling with your own.

Photo Credit: teslacoils

Friday, February 13, 2015

Speaking/Book Signings/Expecting Less

1.  Whether you're a writer, public speaker, or minister, you'll find this article helpful. Chad Allen shares 10 Things Every Public Speaker Should Know.

2.  Have you ever done a bookstore signing? Elaine Marie Cooper guest posts at Seriously Write about how the location of your display can affect your success. What a great idea!

3.  Jeanette Levellie, at Hope Splashes, shares how expecting less of others can keep us happy.

Writers:  Were you surprised by the prime location for a book signing? Have you discovered other areas of a bookstore that work well? Please share.

Readers:  Jeanette's inspiring post touched my heart. She's always got something so applicable to daily life. How do you keep from setting yourself up for disappointment?

Have a blessed weekend!

Photo Credit:  alesia17

Friday Thoughts - Video/Synopsis Writing/Changes

1.  My friend, Chatty Crone, posted a video (it's at the end of her post) that I LOVED! I hope you enjoy it as well.

2.  Romance University posted an article on writing the dreaded synopsis. No matter what your genre, you'll benefit from the advice. Hat tip to my friend, Jessica Nelson, at BookingIt, for bringing it to my attention. This was so good that I printed it out.

3.  About now, those New Year's Resolutions are wearing a mite thin. Laurel Garver, at Laurel's Leaves, shares ideas on how to make those changes permanent.

Writers:  What's your least favorite aspect of writing?

Readers:  Did you make New Year's Resolutions? How is that going for you?

Photo Credit:  K yohsen

Monday, February 9, 2015

Celebrating 1,000 Posts!

Yes, it's true. When I started Christian Writer/Reader Connection 6 1/2 years ago, the same questions that plague most bloggers concerned me:

1)  Would I be able to produce quality content week after week, year after year?

2)  Would writers and readers come to my blog?

3)  How would I handle the inevitable techy challenges?

By God's grace and sheer determination, I've put together 2-3 posts every week except when taking short blog breaks. The rewards have far outweighed any difficulties:

1)  I met a lot of great writers in the blogosphere, as well as several close friends.

2)  The social media experience prepared me for other sites like Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

3)  I've been able to promote the books of other authors and launch my own.

Since starting this journey, both the social media and publishing landscapes have seen dramatic changes. The growing popularity of Facebook and other venues has sometimes overshadowed the blogging world. Yet, we're still here, faithfully documenting our highs and lows.

Personally, I'd like to see a resurgence of blogging. The many writing posts provided much information on both the craft and the business, while book reviews alerted me to new authors and their debut novels.

Writers:  Do you think blogging is still a viable way to connect with readers? Please share.

Readers:  What do you look for in a blog? What changes/improvements would you like to see here at Christian Writer/Reader Connection?

Photo Credit:  ba1969