Friday, March 22, 2019

Writing Zone/7 Writer Hacks/March for Life/Powerful Words/Spring

Woodland Path


1.  How do you start the writing journey? I've heard this question multiple times. Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, asks, "Have You Entered the Writing Zone?" Newbies, you'll find this helpful, and it's a good reminder to those of us who are further along in our journey.

2.  Did you make New Year's resolutions about your writing? How's that going? If you're stuck, Positive Writer gives 7 Writer Hacks.

3.  Faithwire reported in January on Ben Shapiro's address at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. Science shows that life begins at conception. All the arguments for abortion are based on when life matters.

4.  The old saying, "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never harm me," is totally false. Edie Melson, from The Write Conversation urges us to remember the power behind our words. Whether we're writers or not, what we say can have either a positive or negative effect on others.

5.  I'm giddy that spring is here. To get a taste of the season's floral delights, I hopped over to Better Homes and Gardens and checked out their spring flower slide show. I hope it has the same effect on you as it did on me!

Writers:  How are your writing goals progressing? Please share.

Readers:  Have any of the books you've read (other than the Bible) had a profound effect on your life? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Chris Burke



Friday, March 15, 2019

Descriptive Writing/Motivation/Your Rights/Devo/Adjustments

pine 2


1. Jean Fischer posts on "How to Use the Bible to Practice Descriptive Writing."

2. Jean Fischer does it again with "5 Ways to Push Forward When Your Head Says Stop." If you're having difficulty staying motivated, hop over there and read this post.

3.  Principal Bans Teacher From Church Event where Students Will Be Present. Yes, this is happening in the United States. The lesson here is don't be afraid to stand up for your rights.

4. Eva Marie Everson talks about, "Dipping the Quill Deeper: Developing The Devotional Life."

5.  Jeanette Levellie shares an interesting experience about adjusting from a big city to a rural environment. I thought you might enjoy this short piece.

Writers:  What actions do you take to stay motivated to write?

Readers:  What kind of links spark your interest the most? Recipes? Devotionals? Home Decor? Reading related posts? Other? Please share. This blog is all about writers and readers. Your opinion matters. :)

Photo Credit:  Adem Kaya


Monday, March 11, 2019

Turn the Volume Up

Public Address System


When I'm alone on a long drive, listening to a CD makes it less boring. In the winter, the engine noise and heater combine to blot out the sound. If I want to hear the content, I have to turn the volume up a notch or two.

I've noticed the noise of the world around me makes it hard to hear the voice of the Lord. Ah, time to turn the volume up. There are no dials or other gizmos that I can turn, so how do I accomplish this?

1.  Pray and ask the Lord to speak to me. It doesn't stop there, I need to have ears listening for His answers.

2.  Regular time spent in the Word increases my sensitivity. I'm giving Him my attention.

3.  Listening to anointed preachers, and teachers of the Word is another way to hear His voice. I've been pouring my heart out about a certain subject, and all of a sudden there are people talking about that very thing. Their teaching clarified and gave me the answers I needed.

4.  Ordinary conversations with other believers can shine a light on a problem or an attitude needing adjustment.

5.  Often a word or phrase from the Bible will jump out at me. As I focus on them and study further, light dispels the darkness.

As a writer, I've often run into a seemingly impenetrable story wall. Where do I go from here? Worry and wringing my hands didn't solve these difficulties. I've learned to take a break, pray and ask the Lord for direction. Many times I've dreamed or received the answer coming out of sleep.

I've been on a hiatus from writing. Burnt out, discouraged, and ready to throw in the proverbial towel, it seemed impossible to get beyond this dry time. Wishing things were different, yet remaining passive, have not and will not work. There have been many false starts. 

As I've made a quality decision and turned the volume up, my spirit and soul are drinking deeply from the water of the Word. It's taking some time, but the inspiration and desire to write are coming back.
  
Writers and Readers: What are some ways the Lord speaks to you in your daily life?

Photo Credit:  Bugdog

Friday, March 8, 2019

Piracy/Misused Words/Big Brother/Devo/Soup Recipe

Disc smashed by hammer 1

1.  A lot of authors worry about their books being pirated. Traci Tyne Hilton points out some interesting facts. It might not be as bad as you think.

2.  Zoe M. McCarthy continues her blog series, "Words Misused - Part 3."

3.  WND reports on the State of Oregon's considering a bill mandating home visits for newborns. Big Brother is trying once again to exercise control of what should be family matters.

4.  Emme Gannon posts at The Write Conversation. She asks, "Has God breathed life into your writing?" Whatever endeavor God has entrusted into your hands can benefit from this insightful post.

5.  I've been getting brave and trying new recipes. This is one I'm saving here for future reference. The Italian soup, Pasta Fagioli, is a favorite of many. Ready, Set, Eat posted this recipe. Hey, if you try it, let me know how it tastes and if you'd consider making it again. :)

Writers:  Traci doesn't seem overly concerned about piracy. Do you agree/disagree with her assessment? Please share.

Readers:  We're well into the New Year. Have you decided to try something new like a hobby, job, education, etc.? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Leszek Soltys




Monday, March 4, 2019

Writing About Social Issues

Feuding cups 1


Virtual fist fights break out on Facebook all the time. People have their opinions, but rarely couch them in polite terms. How can we express our opinions without alienating those who differ from us?

In a word: Story.

When faced with difficult questions, Jesus often told a parable. Think about The Good Samaritan, The Pearl of Great Price to name a couple. He painted a word picture in real-life terms.

I started out as a non-fiction writer. The task of communicating scriptural principles came out more as a textbook than something to catch the reader's attention. Using some basic fiction techniques helped "put skin on the words."

Dialogue
Anecdotes
Action

These changes made the pieces come alive. Readers (and editors) could relate to the stories, and the principles jumped off the page without beating the reader over the head.

Ha! Perhaps if we applied these less combative methods to social media, it wouldn't feel like a war zone.

And that's my opinion for today.

Writers:  Do you touch on social issues in your writing? How do you keep it from aggravating the reader?

Readers:  How do you feel about expressing your opinion on social media? Is it something you dive into or do you shy away from it? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Richard Styles




Friday, March 1, 2019

Time/Book Cover Design/Christian Airline/Devo/Amish Cleaning Hacks

Books


1.  Lisa Hall-Wilson gives 5 Ways Time Affects How We Write. In deep point of view, we're not supposed to name emotions. However, there are exceptions. She explains the principles involved. I think even non-writers will find this article fascinating since it gives insight on how we process traumatic events.

2.  Carol Ashby posts at Seriously Write about designing book covers that appeal to both men and women. Since many authors are now going the Indie route, they're assuming full responsibility for every aspect of production. Don't miss this valuable advice.

3.  Christian Headlines reports on the world's first Christian airline. They will provide churches and missionaries with easier travel.

4.  "What is a God Adventure?" This devotional on CBN made me think, especially as the new year is fairly young. Check it out.

5.  I came across an item on Pinterest about Amish Cleaning Hacks. Check out some of their tricks for discouraging pests, degreasing, etc.

Writers:  Either fiction or non-fiction - how do you go about designing your book covers?

Readers:  Do you enjoy reading devotionals? What are some of your favorites?

Photo Credit:  Michelle Seixas


Monday, February 25, 2019

The Newbie Corner - Gaining Access - Part 2 - Non-Fiction I started out as a non-fiction writer. Articles and devotionals found acceptance into Christian publications. However, when I approached an editor at a conference about my idea for a devotional book, I was in for a wake-up call. 1. Many publishers get these items from packagers. They put together the books and sell them to the publisher. 2. A non-fiction book requires a huge platform to guarantee sales. Think about radio and TV programs, giant ministries, well-known speakers, and celebrities. 3. Even if you have many writing credits on your resume, it doesn't hold a lot of weight when it comes to getting a non-fiction book published. This is why many authors decide to go the Indie (self-publishing) route. We're blessed that digital publishing has made this easier and much less expensive. Many ministries self-publish their books, thus avoiding the long and often arduous traditional journey. Whether you decide to give traditional publishing a shot or not, learning the craft and producing an interesting, informative book is paramount. While a subject may be fascinating to you, engaging the reader and meeting a perceived need requires writing techniques that will achieve your goals. Writers: What have you learned about the publishing journey for non-fiction? Readers: What kind of non-fiction books do you enjoy? Devotional? Memoir? Biography? Other? Please share.

Glasses on calendar


I started out as a non-fiction writer. Articles and devotionals found acceptance into Christian publications. However, when I approached an editor at a conference about my idea for a devotional book, I was in for a wake-up call.

1.  Many publishers get these items from packagers. They put together the books and sell them to the publisher.

2.  A non-fiction book requires a huge platform to guarantee sales. Think about radio and TV programs, giant ministries, well-known speakers, and celebrities.

3.  Even if you have many writing credits on your resume, it doesn't hold a lot of weight when it comes to getting a non-fiction book published.

This is why many authors decide to go the Indie (self-publishing) route. We're blessed that digital publishing has made this easier and much less expensive. Many ministries self-publish their books, thus avoiding the long and often arduous traditional journey.

Whether you decide to give traditional publishing a shot or not, learning the craft and producing an interesting, informative book is paramount. While a subject may be fascinating to you, engaging the reader and meeting a perceived need requires writing techniques that will achieve your goals.

Writers:  What have you learned about the publishing journey for non-fiction?

Readers:  What kind of non-fiction books do you enjoy? Devotional? Memoir? Biography? Other? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Klaus Post


Friday, February 22, 2019

Slide Presentations/Copyright Tips/Chick-fil-A/Devo/Amish Declutter Hacks

lecture room 2


1.  For those of you who not only write but also speak, Yvonne Ortega gives tips on how to use slides in your presentation.

2.  Susan Spann posted at Writer Unboxed regarding copyrights. While she called it, "Holiday Copyright Tips," the advice is good for any time of the year. Whether you're a writer, blogger, or just post on social media, this is a must read.

3.  Around Christmas, I was searching the gift card rack at my local grocery store for Chick-fil-A and couldn't find them. It's no secret that the fast-food company's values have made them a target of the politically correct segment of the population. WND reports it hasn't hurt them a bit. They have passed Wendy's and Taco Bell in popularity and are now number three in the rankings.

4.  Amy Carroll posted at Crosscards devotional site on the subject of prayer. When the Lord gave her "prayer" as her word for last year, she wondered how she'd ever fit hours on her knees into her busy schedule. See how the Lord led her and the joy she discovered.

5.  The new year stirs an urge in me to declutter. Maybe we can't do it all in one day, but we can spend five minutes a day. One of the suggestions is to start a no-clutter zone.

Writers:  What tips do you have for writers who also speak?

Readers:  Which link resonated with you this week? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Fred Culpers


Monday, February 18, 2019

The Newbie Corner - Gaining Access - The Fiction Write

Computer cibercafe of my brother


An aspiring author recently asked how they could get a real publisher. Good question. Let's explore the process:

1.  Write a book, but not just any book - a great book. Take the time to research similar titles, as well as your target audience. Are you writing for the Young Adult (YA) crowd? Romances appeal to most women and are the most popular genre. How about Sci-Fi, mystery, fantasy, and futuristic? Let's not forget contemporary works, historical novels, and women's fiction.

2.  Okay, you now have a first draft. Read everything you can get your hands on to improve your skills, go to workshops and writers' conferences, visit writing blogs and soak up as much as you can. Go home and apply those lessons to your writing.

2.  Now that you have re-written your first draft, find a critique partner to read it and suggest changes. Don't cry when it comes back with lots of red ink.

3.  Writers conferences often have authors present who will do paid critiques. Invest in one. (If this seems like a long process, it is. You don't produce a publishable manuscript overnight.)

4.  If you can afford it, hiring a professional editor can provide a great learning experience, as well as polishing your work. Make sure you select someone who will be compatible and knows what they're doing. (Many offer to do sample chapters for a fee.) I found my editor on LinkedIn, Deirdre Lockhart, of Brilliant Cut Editing.

5.  The next step is to obtain an agent. The best place to meet one is at a writers' conference. Attending agent/editor panels at a conference can provide insight into what they're seeking in the way of genre. Most conferences also provide one-on-one appointments with agents and editors.

6.  If an agent or editor asks you to send them either a partial or full proposal, make sure that's your top priority when you arrive home. Visit their websites for guidelines and follow them to the letter. Allow yourself five or ten minutes to do a Snoopy Happy Dance and then get to work.

7.  If the agent/editor sends a rejection letter, put it in a file and continue writing. Tip:  These folks like to see you've written more than one book. After all, would you want to spend hours of your time to work with someone whose creativity dries up after a single story?

8.  If an agent/editor gives suggestions on how to improve your writing, take them seriously. The first time I met with an agent, he told me to go home and learn how to write fiction. Ouch!

9.  If you land a contract with an agent, it's a big step. Getting a publishing contract is another set of hurdles, but it's not impossible.

It takes time, patience, and perseverance to get a traditional publishing contract. Many people opt to go the Indie route (self publishing), but do your research before diving into that pond.

Although the journey is long, enjoy it. Once writing gets in your blood, it's hard to walk away.

Writers:  What questions do you have about the publishing process for fiction writers? (We'll talk about non-fiction next week.)

Readers:  Are you surprised at how much is involved in the publishing process? Please share your thoughts.

Photo Credit:  Mario Alberto Magallane Trejo

Friday, February 15, 2019

Families in Fiction/Marketing Poetry/Answered Prayer/Devo/Most Searched


Paper Family


1.  Kathleen McCleary posts at Writer Unboxed on the subject of "Navigating Families in Fiction. In real life, we all experience loss, have difficult relationships, etc. This is something every novelist can apply to their writing.

2.  Karen Whiting, at The Write Conversation, talks about marketing your poetry. She has some unique ideas.

3.  Testimonies of answered prayer encourage and spark our faith. I recently read about a young girl diagnosed with an inoperable, cancerous brain tumor on Faithwire. The prognosis was grim, but God...

4.  Jean Fischer shared her experience with hearing God's voice on her Compost Pile blog. This sweet story touched my heart. I hope it blesses you as well.

5.  Last Thanksgiving, I discovered pecan pie, and I've craved it since that day. I wasn't surprised when it came up as one of the most-searched recipes of 2018 on Google. Check out this post at Delish and see what other meals made the list.

Writers:  How do you explore the complex relationships of your characters?

Readers:  How does reading testimonies or novels impact your spiritual life? Please share.


Photo Credit:  B S K

Monday, February 11, 2019

On My Kindle - The Blessing by Kacy Barnett-Gramckow

The Blessing by [Barnett-Gramckow, Kacy]


A job assignment forces May Somerville's father to relocate the family from New York City to untamed Colorado. All of their dreams are put on hold as they struggle to adjust to a new life near the gold mines.

Alexander Whittier travels throughout Europe with his parents, but he can't shake the memory of the beautiful May Somerville. Her father's reports no longer reach them, and news of their tragedies sends him hurrying to Colorado.

Will May's secret and the many hard times she's endured ruin their chances for a future together?

Kacy Barnett-Gramckow is a new-to-me author. While The Blessing started off on the slow side for me, it picked up speed. The fate of the tightly-knit family kept me engaged, while the steadfast determination of May propelled the story forward.

I'm giving The Blessing five stars for its great story and historical content. I'll be checking out this author's other books.

Disclaimer: Neither the publisher nor the author paid me for a favorable review. All opinions expressed are mine, and mine alone.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Adjectives/Literary Device/Yoga/Blessings/Home Safety

Bookshelf


1.  Zoe M. McCarthy gives tips to improve story description when using adjectives. This skill-based post provides valuable information for both fiction and non-fiction writers.

2. Lori Hatcher posts at The Write Conversation on parallelism, a literary device. Don't let the term scare you. You've seen it multiple times. Now is your chance to define it and apply it to your own writing.

3.  Faithwire reports on a pastor's warning about a practice that is becoming increasingly popular in the United States among Christians - yoga.

4.  Henry McLaughlin posts at The Write Conversation about the blessings of being a writer. Readers, you might find this glimpse into the writer's life quite interesting.

5.  I came across a blogger called, "Plucky," who gave 3 Tips for Keeping Your Home Safe This Winter.

Writers:  Which writing link did you find most helpful? Please share.

Readers:  What are some of the steps you take to keep your home safe during the winter? I recently purchased new smoke/carbon dioxide alarms for my home. My smoke alarms were very old and required constant vigilance to make sure the batteries were working. I didn't have any carbon dioxide alarms.

Photo Credit:  Fastfood


Friday, February 1, 2019

Incorrect Phrases/Powerful Antagonist/Victory/Devotional/Valentine's Day

time is going


1.  Zoe M. McCarthy talks about Incorrect Construction of Common Phrases. This was a fun read. I discovered a few that I've been using wrong.

2.  Having a powerful antagonist in your story is key to challenging your main characters no matter what the genre. Lisa Hall-Wilson gives 9 Tips For a Powerful Antagonist.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports on a victory for several Christian Ministries after a 4-Year Legal Battle regarding abortion.

4.  I've gotten into the habit of going to bed too late. Then I have trouble getting up at 5:00 AM and hit the snooze button: once, twice, ugh - three times. When I saw this article, "Escaping the Power of the Snooze Button," I had to read it. Yeah, it hit me right where I live.

5.  Valentine's Day is around the corner. I saw these cookies on FB and had to share them. Here's the tutorial.


Writers: Which common phrase tripped you up?

Readers:  When reading a book, how important is a strong antagonist to you? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Piotr Koczab





Friday, January 25, 2019

Use Words Well/Those "D" Words/China/Devo/2019 Bedroom Decor

Words

1.  Tammy Karasek posts at The Write Conversation at using our words well. As writers, we have the potential of reaching many people.

2.  Marcia Moston posts at The Write Conversation about Disclaimers and Defamation. As writers, we need to be aware of the pitfalls writing about real people and situations.

3.  Christian Headlines reports that police in China are facing loss of their jobs if they don't arrest Christians.

4.  Once again, The Write Conversation offers words of wisdom about the disappointments we face in life. Beth Vogt urges us to stick around long enough to get something out of the inevitable situations we'd like to avoid.

5.  I checked out bedroom decorating trends for 2019 and found this website. My favorite? The cozy purple bedroom, of course! Do you have a favorite among these pictures?

Writers:  How do you make word choice decisions? Synonym Finder? Prayer? Please share how you find just the right word to express your thoughts/tell your story.

Readers:  What kind of stories do you enjoy the most?

Photo Credit:  Brenton Nicholls

Monday, January 21, 2019

On My Kindle - A Dangerous Legacy by Elizabeth Camden



Lucy Drake and her brother, Nick, fight a legal battle going back to their grandfather's time. Their Uncle Thomas uses every dirty trick in the book to make their lives miserable. Both of them wonder if pursuing the case is worth the hardship and financial drain.

Sir Colin Beckwith, Head of the New York Reuters news agency has his own troubles. His dilapidated estate back in England needs far more work than he can afford. Concerns for his sister and their 90 tenants propel him into a hunt for a rich, American heiress. Once he meets Lucy Drake, he has a hard time focusing on his plan.

This historical romance by Ms. Camden contained many interesting elements. The main characters' unusual careers, the political intrigue, the romance between an ordinary young woman and a titled British gentleman all produced a captivating story. The tension and the impossibility of their situation kept me turning pages to see how it would be resolved.

There were several things that pulled me out of the story. I couldn't figure out if one character was a good guy or a bad guy. This didn't appear to be the proverbial red herring. It seemed like the writer wasn't sure how to work him into the mix. I also came across a saying, which I think is more recent than the historical setting, and it was used more than once. The villains all seemed to be without any redeeming qualities, which produced pictures in my head of a fair maiden tied to railroad tracks and an evil man twirling a mustache.

Even with the negatives, I'm still giving this book four stars. The good far outweighed any shortcomings. I'll definitely look for more of Ms. Camden's books.

Disclaimer:  Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a favorable review. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  When writing anything in a historical context, do you research whether or not a saying was used at that time? Please share.

Readers:  What type of situation jars your senses when reading a historical romance? Please share.