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

Friday, February 6, 2015

3 Weekend Thoughts - First Draft/Writing Reviews/Learning Patience

1.  Natasha Lekic guest posts at Positive Writer. When should you stop writing a first draft? A quote from her that hooked me, "Early drafts have a sly way of confounding everyone's expectations, which is what's so marvelous - and frustrating - about the art of writing."

2.  Readers: Is writing a book review intimidating? Zoe McCarthy gives some great tips on the subject. Reviews are important not only to authors, but also to other readers.

3.  Susan, at Writing Straight From the Heart, wrote a neat devotional piece. I thought you might like it.

Writers:  Have you given up on a manuscript too soon? Please share.

Readers:  Have you ever written a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, of What points do you make when writing a review?

Photo Credit:  nkzs

Monday, February 2, 2015

Are You Somebody?

Freedom. It's something most of us in the U.S. take for granted. Yet all over the world people are enslaved in the Human Trafficking trade. Yes, I capitalized it because it's a huge problem.

My friend, Susan Panzica, is the founder of The Justice Network, based in New Jersey. Her goal is to raise awareness and do whatever she can to help those in the clutches of modern-day slave traders.

Susan blogs at Eternity Cafe and Circles of Faith. She wrote a special post in January for Human Trafficking Month. I hope you'll pop over there and read it.

My books speak about freedom and what it would be like without it. If we ignore the plight of others, we might find ourselves faced with that reality. You may not think you can do much to alleviate the suffering, but you are somebody - somebody who cares.

Writers: How can you use your writing gift to raise awareness about the needs of others?

Readers:  Have you heard much about Human Trafficking?

Photo Credit:  Anitab0000

Friday, January 30, 2015

A Balanced Life?

Okay, so I'm a big fan of The Write Conversation. Edie had so many excellent posts that I decided to feature several from her blog today. I hope you find them as informative and inspiring as I did.

1.  Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, gives strategies for 2015 for Social Media. Facebook will be making some changes affecting anyone using the site for promotional purposes. It's important to stay informed.

2.  Her Weekend Worship featured a post on The Balanced Life. Who doesn't need some insight into that subject? We often try to control our outward circumstances when balance is an interior thing.

3.  Edie tackles the subject of managing Social Media and a Full-Time Job. Since many of us are in that particular boat, I thought this post might provide some valuable tips.

Writers and Readers:  How do you juggle the many tasks that come your way?

Photo Credit:  dlinny

Monday, January 26, 2015

Ask The Easy Questions

Sometimes we're looking for answers, but we don't even know the questions.

As a repair person for commercial/industrial water softeners, my late husband's philosophy was go back to basics. Before getting into complex solutions, see if the problem is related to something simple and easy to fix. Even I learned to ask a customer, "Did you check the strainer?"

When I'm having difficulties with my writing, I ask the easy questions first:

1)  Do I have a strong opening hook?

2)  Am I giving backstory when I should be jumping into the action?

3)  Am I raising story questions to keep the reader turning pages?

4)  Are the setting details vivid enough?

5)  Is there a take-away for the reader?

Those questions alone could fix what ails your manuscript. If you're satisfied with the answers to these questions, then you can pursue the more involved issues like story structure, deep point of view, and inconsistencies in either your story or characters.

Writers:  Do you have your own set of story diagnostics? Please share.

Readers:  Do you try to analyze why you enjoy or don't enjoy a book? What catches your interest or makes you yawn?

Photo Credit:  beni bb

Friday, January 23, 2015

Frosting, Distractions, and Doubts

1.  Writer Unboxed talks about "frosting" your manuscript too quickly. Intriguing? It was to me. See how making your first draft too pretty can hinder the real work of editing later.

2.  The Positive Writer lists 7 Distractions Stopping You From Writing and how to beat them.

3.  Alisa Hope Wagner declares, "You Are Qualified!" Don't let fear stop you from moving into your destiny.

Writers and Readers:  What distractions keep you from writing or doing the things that really matter to you?

Photo Credit:  Kaicho20

Monday, January 19, 2015

Keep Doing What Works

A little over a year ago, the orchid plant I got as a gift bloomed for me. It was my first taste of success, so I kept doing what I'd been doing since I received it - two ice cubes daily.

By the time summer came around, the plant began losing new growth. It would wither and die for no apparent reason. Several times the thought crossed my mind that I might as well throw it out or bring it back to the gardener who gave it to me. Perhaps a little TLC from her would revive it.

Seeking publication, my early efforts yielded numerous assignments. It gave me a false sense of, "this is a breeze." I soon learned that writing can be a lot like taking care of plants: unpredictable and often frustrating. What worked in the past no longer seemed to produce the desired results.

My entry into the area of fiction left me feeling like a giant failure as agents and editors rejected my manuscript. Maybe I'd missed God's plan and should go back to writing non-fiction. Instead I kept plugging away.

The publishing professionals began saying things like, "I really like your writing, but I can't sell this genre," and "Would you consider writing a romance or Amish novel?" If my main purpose was to entertain or become the next superstar of Christian writing, I might have considered taking their advice. Yet I knew what God had called me to write, and I'd get it out even if it meant self publishing.

Everything changed the beginning of 2013. Little slivers of hope teased me and finally the day came when I held signed agent and publishing contracts in my hands. Three books came out that year in the space of six months. What seemed utterly impossible came to pass.

Oh, and the orchid? A few days ago, I noticed a new shoot with buds!

Writers:  Do you have a story about how God opened the doors of publication to you when it seemed impossible? Contact me using the blog form to see if we can do a guest post.

Readers: Life often presents challenges that seem insurmountable. Please share a time when God came through for you big time.

Photo Credit: Susan J. Reinhardt

Friday, January 16, 2015

Backpacks, News, Gifts, Tips, and Questions

1. Do you tap into the invisible, but very real, emotional backpack your characters carry? Robin LeFevers posts on this fascinating subject at Writer Unboxed.  

2.  World Net Daily reports that smuggling Bibles now carries the death penalty in Saudi Arabia. I'll let you draw your own conclusions. In my estimation, this highlights the precious freedom we have and the need to protect it.

3.  Dena Netherton posted about a special gift we can give those around us: The Listening Gift. Although shared just before Christmas, it's something we can offer year round.

4.  Zoe M. McCarthy gives valuable tips on how to ensure a happy book signing.

5.  Karen Lange, at Write Now, asks, "Why do you blog?"

Writers and Readers: If you blog, why do you blog? I blog because I enjoy the interaction with people and have made some strong friendships.

Photo Credit:  marcacrea