Categories
Writing craft

Where to Begin the Story

Crystal Bowman
Crystal Bowman

Hello from Crystal Bowman! This blog post is for those who want to write fiction for children, and even for those who don’t because the more you know, the more you grow. Most of my books are for the children’s devotional or Bible storybook market. However, I have written several fiction picture books as well as few dozen I Can Read! books, so I want to share something I learned many years ago in my novice years of writing. The mistake many writers make (and I used to be one of them) is to write an explanatory introduction to “set up” the story. 

Categories
Writing craft

Editing Tips #56

kathyide

Hi! I’m Kathy Ide. In addition to being a published author, I’m a full-time professional freelance editor. For CAN, I’m blogging about tips for writers based on the manuscripts I edit.

Categories
Author Interviews

Tips from the Pros: Angela Breidenbach

Marti Pieper
Marti Pieper

Greetings from north-of-Orlando Mount Dora, Florida, where the soggy remnants of Tropical Storm Colin are steaming their way out of our backyards.

Angela Breidenbach

But I know the weather where Angela Breidenbach (the lovely subject of today’s author interview) lives looks a bit different. Angela, a former Mrs. Montana International, still lives in that northwestern state when she’s not busy participating in author events, teaching at conferences, or traveling in her role as president of the Christian Authors Network. Angie has lots to share, so let’s move on to the Q & A.

Welcome back to the CAN blog, Angela! How many books do you have published?

Nine, with several more in process. I should have about 13 out by the end of the year, or close to it.

Wow! That’s amazing. What are a few of your latest titles?

Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection with Angela Breidenbach's story, Bridal Whispers.
Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection with Angela Breidenbach’s story, Bridal Whispers.

Lassoed by Marriage, Blue Ribbon Brides (releases November 1), Bitterroot Bride, Taking the Plunge. . . all have 2016 publishing dates. One I’m really excited about isn’t fiction at all. It’s a compilation of my ancestors’ autobiographical stories—my grandpa, grandma, a great-aunt, and letters that were translated from my great-grandma from Swedish to English. I’m still working on a title, but this book is for preservation of history, and quite a few of my readers expressed interest. My big hope is that many family and descendants of these amazing people, who never read or knew of these writings, will be able to access them from all over the world. Readers are welcome to help me title it. I’ll take any and all suggestions under consideration. The big job is fact-checking dates, names, spellings, and places.

Sounds fascinating! Angela, you were last featured on the CAN blog in 2013. What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?

If the story is important to me, then I have to write it regardless if it’s important to a publisher. There’s a sense of job satisfaction and spiritual fulfillment that has to happen for me to enjoy my job as a writer. When I’m only writing to contracts because they sold, I find I lose my sense of joy in the art and creation. So now I make sure to work on my pet projects, too. Comically, one of those “pet” projects is Muse and Writer. He really is my pet, but Muse is my fe-lion personal assistant. (Don’t let him hear you say he’s a cat!) He has his own following. Writing those conversations between us is pure fun, but I’ve also learned that even comedy has valuable purpose. Muse and I get notes from readers about how these comedy snippets have helped them through tough times like divorce, depression, hospital stays, etc.

When I started, I had no idea there would be passion in me to write cat, ahem, fe-lion comedy or that it would actually have an outreach ministry. I learned I write to offer hope and encouragement. I learned that when people respond to that offering of my unusually voiced humor, telling me I helped them through a rough patch somehow, that it clicks in my soul. I will write those comedy sketches until the cows come home because I feel like it matters to someone. No way would I have thought Muse & Writer mattered for more than a snicker when I started it three years ago. But those readers are avid supporters, and I’m their avid supporter. I want to offer a bright spot on a dark day. That synergy between reader and writer is the most important thing I’ve found in my writing life—and it was in the least likely place I’d expect to find it.

Categories
Author Interviews Writing craft

Tip From the Pros – Nancy Mehl

C. Kevin Thompson
C. Kevin Thompson

Welcome from C. Kevin Thompson! The more I write, the more I become appreciative of those who have gone before me and “blazed a trail,” if you will. It’s no small feat to write multiple books, especially when it was done before the advent of the modern self-publishing phenomenon. I know of many people who tell me they’ve started a book. It’s the finishing that’s the hard part.

That’s why writers like our guest keep me writing. They’ve shown that good, old-fashioned hard work, perseverance through times both good and not-so-much, and a persistent pursuit to hone their craft pay off in the end.

Allow me to introduce to you our guest for today, Nancy Mehl.

Nancy Mehl
Nancy Mehl

Nancy, it’s great to have you on the Christian Authors Network Blog. So, let’s get to it. How many books do you have published now?

Twenty-five books so far!

Amazing. For our readers who are maybe not so familiar with your work, what are a few of your latest titles?

Some of my latest titles are Gathering Shadows, Deadly Echoes, and my newest, Rising Darkness. These are all titles in my Finding Sanctuary series. I also have two recent books with Guideposts. These are in the Sugarcreek Amish Mysteries series. The first book is Blessings in Disguise. The second is Simply Vanished which will be released any day now.

You’ve been busy since you were last featured on the CAN blog in 2012. What are some of the chief lessons you’ve learned about the writing life since then?

Rising Darkness by Nancy Mehl
Rising Darkness by Nancy Mehl

Discipline is paramount! I’m writing for two different publishers, so I have to work hard to pre-plan my writing goals. I use calendars and plan out each book by daily word counts and weekly goals. If I didn’t do this, I’d be sunk.

I’ve also begun to understand how important good editors are. Editors who are brutally honest, but can also encourage their authors, are worth their weight in gold.

What are the chief lessons you’ve learned about promotion since 2012?

To be honest, I can’t drive myself crazy with promotion. I don’t have the time. I do have a street team, and recently, I hired a young man to help me with promotional duties. He is a whiz at what he does, and I am truly blessed. Writers need to write. We just don’t have time to spend on a lot of promotion.

That said, I do have some social media outreaches. My main emphasis is Facebook, which I enjoy. And I work with some other authors on a blog called the Suspense Sisters. I do intend to learn more about Twitter after the first of the year. I also intend to become more involved with CAN. I realize it’s one of the best tools available to authors.

You and me both (the part about CAN). I really haven’t even scratched the surface on how this organization can help. Once my newer works come out, a crash course I will need. What are the most effective means of book promotion you’ve tried?

Honestly? My most effective means of book promotion comes through my publisher’s promotional activities. On a personal level, Facebook has been quite helpful.

What are the least effective promotional activities you’ve tried?

Book signings. When I first started writing, all my newbie writer friends and I dreamed of book signings. It didn’t take long for me to see that they just aren’t worth the effort if your emphasis is sales. But…I do try to have a book signing every once in a while – just for readers who want to meet me. If you want to schedule a book signing, I recommend joint signings. It helps when other authors bring in their readers. It gives an author a chance to make new contacts.

I’ve participated in some of those joint signings, and you’re right. They do work better. Makes it more effective for readers to have more than one writer in the building, unless your Ben Carson or James Patterson, I suppose. On that note, what’s your favorite way to connect with your readers?

Probably through Facebook. It gives us a chance to connect on a more personal level.

What’s the craziest promotional gimmick you’ve ever tried?

I don’t know if it’s crazy, but the most nerve wracking is something called “Book Banter,” a promotional event my publisher manages. It’s done on Facebook and draws in a big crowd. It’s fun to connect with so many people, but you move a mile a minute, trying to answer questions and stay on top of things. By the end, I’m usually exhausted!

What’s the funniest thing that happened during a promotional activity?

There have been several – all of them at book signings. One that sticks out in my mind is the woman who couldn’t wait to tell me that I really needed to be writing books for children – about buses. She was adamant about it. LOL!

Buses, huh? A mystery/suspense writer creating children’s books about buses? I’m afraid by the time mothers around the country finished reading it, their children would become car riders the very next school day. Sometimes, people need to think things through, you know? Did you see God open any doors you never expected in the promotion of your books, besides the possibility of a new school bus genre?

I love Charisma magazine and have been a subscriber for years. Imagine my surprise when I opened it one month and found myself and my newest book mentioned in a feature about what was happening in the Christian community! I about fell out of my chair. My best friend called me as soon as she saw it. “I had no idea you were so famous!” she said. That was not only a surprise, but a real thrill.

What are your top tips for new authors promoting their first book?

First of all, write a great book. It’s not hard to promote a well-written book.

Secondly, reach out on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. But be a real person. There’s nothing worse than someone on Facebook who is obviously trying to promote themselves. I usually “unfollow” people like that. Don’t be obnoxious – be yourself. If you care about the readers you come in contact with, you’ll have made a lifetime friend – and a lifetime reader.

Nancy, it’s been a pleasure having you stop by and take time out of your busy schedule. We wish you well on your present and upcoming works.

If anyone wants to catch up with Nancy, she can be found at the following online locations:

Website: nancymehl.com

Suspense Sisters Blog: suspensesisters.blogspot.com

 

Thanks for stopping by, Everybody!

_____________________________

C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister with a B.A. In Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). He presently works as an assistant principal in a middle school. He also has several years experience as an administrator at the high school level.

A former Language Arts teacher, Kevin decided to put his money where his mouth was and write, fiction mostly. Now, years later, he is a member of the Christian Authors Network (CAN), American Christian Fictions Writers (ACFW), and Word Weavers International. He is the Chapter President of Word Weavers-Lake County (FL), and his published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (Winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) and 30 Days Hath Revenge – A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, as well as articles in The Wesleyan Advocate, The Preacher, Vista, The Des Moines Register and The Ocala Star-Banner.

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24 , The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.

 

Website:           www.ckevinthompson.com

Blogs:               www.ckevinthompson.blogspot.com

Facebook:          C. Kevin Thompson – Author Page

Twitter:            @CKevinThompson

Goodreads:        C. Kevin Thompson

Categories
Devotional Writing Business

Fruit (A Writer’s Prayer)

Bob Hostetler
Bob Hostetler

Bob Hostetler here, offering another prayer for writers:

Holy Spirit, cultivate and proliferate your fruit in my writing.

Let love permeate my words.

Help me experience joy in the writing, and let my readers experience joy in reading.

Use my writing to spread shalom.

Give me patience in the writing.

Let goodness characterize what I write, and gentleness how I write it.

Make and keep me faithful to you, to the publisher, and to the reader from beginning to end, and let God-given self control guide my every thought, impulse, and decision as I write, revise, edit, and review, in Jesus’ name, amen.

 

The Red Letter Prayer Life by Bob Hostetler
The Red Letter Prayer Life by Bob Hostetler

Bob’s latest book is The Red Letter Prayer Life, available now via Bob’s website or at fine Christian retailers everywhere.

Categories
Devotional Writing Business

Fruit (A Writer’s Prayer)

Bob Hostetler
Bob Hostetler

Bob Hostetler here, offering another prayer for writers:

Holy Spirit, cultivate and proliferate your fruit in my writing.

Let love permeate my words.

Help me experience joy in the writing, and let my readers experience joy in reading.

Use my writing to spread shalom.

Give me patience in the writing.

Let goodness characterize what I write, and gentleness how I write it.

Make and keep me faithful to you, to the publisher, and to the reader from beginning to end, and let God-given self control guide my every thought, impulse, and decision as I write, revise, edit, and review, in Jesus’ name, amen.

 

The Red Letter Prayer Life by Bob Hostetler
The Red Letter Prayer Life by Bob Hostetler

Bob’s latest book is The Red Letter Prayer Life, available now via Bob’s website or at fine Christian retailers everywhere.

Categories
Writing craft

Proofreading Pointers #38

Kathy Ide
Kathy Ide

Hi! I’m Kathy Ide. In addition to being a published author, I’m a full-time professional freelance editor. For CAN, I’m blogging about “PUGS”–Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling … tips for writers based on the most common mistakes I see in the manuscripts I edit.

Books vs. Articles

US book publishers use different reference manuals than magazine or newspaper publishers do. For book manuscripts (and some popular magazines), use The Chicago Manual of Style and Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. For newspapers and journalistic-style magazines, use The Associated Press Stylebook and Webster’s New World College Dictionary.

Categories
Inspiration for Writers Writing craft

Tension And Conflict Part I

"Gail

Welcome to CAN’s new website from Gail Gaymer Martin. Today I will begin a new series on Tension and Confict which is a driving force in fiction writing. I hope you enjoy the seven articles on this topic.

The Set Up to Tension and Conflict
I recently presented a workshop on tension and conflict. The topic offers many steps to writing a good novel. I began this workshop with the basic elements needed to begin a novel because it sets up how conflict begins. Conflict is a concept you know is vital to any story. It is what drives your story and is an event that causes action between the opposition and the main character. Tension, on the other hand, is the character’s reaction to the event. This reaction arouses emotion of the character and the reader. Emotion is a must in any novel.

Vulnerable Characters
Major characters must be vulnerable. They have flaws, weaknesses, fears, and sinful behaviors which they often are trying to hide. Immediately you find tension inherent in this situation. Whenever a character wants to avoid facing a truth, tension creating emotion happens. Another side of these flaws and weaknesses might be the character’s inability or avoidance to face them. It is denial. I am not impatient. I do not look at everything in a negative way. I don’t feel sorry for myself. When you look at your own flaws, you can relate to this problem. No one wants to admit what makes them less than perfect.

Characters’ Goals
Every major character needs a goal. It is something they want to gain or something they want to avoid. They want to gain a good reputation. They want to avoid gossip. They want to find the treasure. They want to avoid being found. They want to find the killer. They want to avoid being killed. They want to find love. They don’t want to give up their freedom.

Goals fall into three other categories: possession, relief, or revenge. The character wants to possess wealth, charm, good looks, success, love. The character wants relief from fear, loneliness, hatred, domination, pain, sorrow. The character wants revenge for a loss, betrayal, lie, robbery, prejudice. You can add to the list with your own ideas that fit under possession, relief or revenge. Keep these ideas in mind as you create goals for your characters. Make sure the goal has issues that will create conflict.

The Hook
Every novel needs a hook, a premise that draws the readers in and an event that makes them curious or ask questions. A hook is introduced when something happens. It can be the result of a new character entering the scene, receiving a letter or phone call, being offered a proposition, reading something in a newspaper, or a character’s startling statement. Whatever it is, the thing that happens is best when it adds surprise, makes the readers ask questions, or creates an emotion that pulls the reader along.

Next, the “happening” creates opposition to the character’s goal. Opposition is conflict. Well-known writer, Dwight Swain, in his book, Techniques of the Selling Writer, says that conflict can:
• Hinders
• Complicates
• Blocks
A goal is hindered when another conflict or another goal gets in the way, especially a goal that must be reached before the larger goal is accessible. Complications can involve an accident, another person demanding time or energy, a new piece of information that changes the direction of the goal. Finally goals can be blocked when someone gets there first or when someone removes options. I’m sure you can think of many other things to add to this list.

The next article will cover the Nature of Conflicts.

 

Categories
Writing craft

Examining Tone To Enhance Your Writing – Part 2

"Gail_5"

Good morning from Gail Gaymer Martin at www.gailgaymermartin.com

In Part 1  Understanding Tone In Fiction from January 10, the meaning of tone was defined and how it is important to your fiction. The post made it clear that authors want to work on this quality in their writing which helps to grab readers into the story and make them want to read more of the author’s books. This is a goal that you and I want as we write our novels. This post will cover dissecting tone step by step, and examining problematic areas in tone.

Categories
Writing Business

Getting Agent Ready: 7 Steps to Prepare for Success

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Greetings from Jackie! 

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Do you want to get published—or get published again? If your goal is to get a book deal from a traditional publisher, it’s important to know what literary agents are looking for. Why? Because in today’s publishing environment writers can no longer send unsolicited manuscripts directly to publishers (at least, about 99% of the time), so it is essential to have a literary agent to represent your ideas to publishers.