Monday, March 30, 2015

Five Steps Toward the Right Editor

Our special guest today is writer and editor, Karin Beery.


By Karin Beery

Every writer needs an editor—not an English teacher friend or well-read spouse, an honest to goodness editor. I won’t go into the necessity of it now (the January 5th post on my blog tells you why—you can read it here). I’m simply going to ask you to trust me. If you’re writing, you will eventually need an editor. The trick is to find the right one.

When I started my journey toward publishing a novel, I hired an editor friend of my husband. She had an impressive resume and offered me a deal on the price, so I hired her. Hundreds of dollars later I had a very nice edit, but it didn’t do any good. A non-fiction editor, she marked all of the formatting, punctuation, and grammatical errors, but she didn’t catch the telling, the backstory, or the head-hopping. Even though I’d had the manuscript professionally edited, I earned nothing but rejections from agents and editor.

When you’re ready to hire an editor, do your research. Here are a few things to consider:

Their expertise
Don’t hire a fiction editor for your Web copy. Don’t hire a technical editor for your novel. There are subtle but important differences between journalistic, fiction, memoir, technical, and copywriting. Make sure you hire someone who knows those differences.

Their education
A degree in English won’t cut it. Neither will the fact that he or she has edited a book. There’s a lot to know about the different writing markets and their guidelines. Make sure your editor has done the research and educated himself or herself with that information. An easy way to check on their education leads to #3 …

Their resources
Book and magazine publishers do not use the same guidelines for punctuation and grammar. Your editor should use the Chicago Manual of Style for books and the AP Stylebook for journalistic writing. If he’s using any other resource, question it.

Their affiliations
There’s no guarantee that a member of the Christian Proofreaders and Editors Network will be a good fit for you, but someone who has invested the time and money to join a professional network has the resources and connections to figure out what you need, or at least find someone who can help you. It’s not a foolproof standard, but most people who put the time and money into professional groups are taking advantage of the services and education provided through those groups.

Their personality
You’re entrusting this editor with your baby. If you’re a black-and-white, tell-me-how-it-is kind of person, look for an editor who can communicate with you on that level. If you’re a gentle soul, look for an editor who can relate to you that way. Writing is a vulnerable endeavor. You need to work with someone you connect with so you can work well together to create the best possible version of your manuscript.



Karin Beery is a wife, caregiver, homemaker, and the owner of Write Now Editing Services. She has had more than 450 articles published in various periodicals, in addition to writing her novels. She is an active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association, the American Christian Writers Association, and The Christian PEN: Christian Proofreaders and Editors Network. She is represented by literary agent Steve Hutson at WordWise Media. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitter, or at www.karinbeery.com

(Photo courtesy of publisher-ps.com.)

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Monday, March 23, 2015

The 10 Commandments for Writers

by Alycia W. Morales

1. You shall have no other gods before Me. Simple translation: Don't put your writing or career before God. (Or your family.) Who or what is your priority?

2. You shall not make for yourself a carved image--any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. Editors, publishers, and agents are not God. They don't control your career or your calling. They are imperfect, just like the rest of us. Don't put them on a pedestal. And when they reject your writing, don't take it personally. God knows when and where and if your work needs to be published. Trust Him. Not the chariots and horses we expect to get us "there."

3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain. Don't say God gave you the words if you really know He didn't. Trust me when I tell you that the gatekeepers will recognize your misrepresentation. Instead, tell them why you're excited about what you've written and why you think readers would be too. (And make sure you do your market research and do it well.)

4. Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. Don't forget to rest. Take a break. Recharge your creative juices. Honor the Lord. Give Him your time too, rather than spending it all in front of your computer screen. Remember, a relationship requires interaction and intimacy.

5. Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you. Honor those who are raising/training/mentoring you as a writer. Follow their advice. Listen to their wisdom and apply it to your own career. They know what they're talking about or they wouldn't be where they are in their own careers. PS - Don't give them a hard time. They talk with one another, and word gets around when they've had to deal with a difficult author.

6. You shall not murder. Jesus says that if you hate someone, you commit murder in your heart. Don't talk badly about another person in the industry. It'll kill your own career.

7. You shall not commit adultery. Jesus says that if you lust after someone in your heart, you commit adultery. Do you desire a publishing contract more than you desire the Lord's will? Have you ever "haunted" a particular agent or house editor, stopping them every chance you get at a conference? You don't want to know how many times I've seen women stalk a particular male agent at the conferences I've attended/taught at. Beware.

8. You shall not steal. Plagiarism. Copyright. It's hard to steal an idea, since we all have similar thoughts at times. But don't stoop so low as to copy someone else or claim their blog post to be your own. If you want to share their work, do so via social media. If you want to use their post, ask them for permission or ask them to be a guest on your blog. If you're writing a similar post, come up with your own twist to the idea. You may even consider quoting them and including a link to their original post that inspired you.

9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Don't lie about someone else. It's not cool. If you don't have anything good to say, don't say it. Again, people are listening. And word travels fast.

10. You shall not covet your neighbor's anything... Don't wish you had someone else's career. Or could write like someone else. Or could do anything someone else does. Be you. Write with your voice. God made you uniquely you. He has a plan and a purpose for your writing, just as He does someone else's writing. Keep your eyes on your path and allow God to lead you down it. His word never comes back void.

To sum it all up, present yourself professionally and allow God to move on your behalf. If He truly has called you to write, He will make a way for you on your publication journey.

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The 10 Commandments for Writers via @AlyciaMorales {Click to Tweet}

Monday, March 16, 2015

Writer ... What's in Your Hand?

By Andrea Merrell

“I feel called to write, but don’t know what to write about.” I hear this frequently, especially from first-timers who have a stirring in their heart to put pen to paper … but simply don’t know where to begin.
 
If you ever feel this way, ask yourself:
  • What am I passionate about?
  • What type of books/stories/articles/devotions/blog posts do I like to read?
  • What am I most knowledgeable about?
  • What have I been through that might help, inspire, and encourage someone else?
  • Do I look for divine inspiration?

PASSION
Everyone is passionate about something. It might be motherhood, caring for the elderly, or helping someone through the crisis of divorce or even death. Maybe you’ve struggled with weight loss or chronic illness. Perhaps you’ve found creative ways to decorate or prepare meals on a budget. You might be someone who has a beautiful way to craft a devotion that will touch a hurting soul and bring them closer to the Lord. The opportunities are endless. Find what moves you and channel that passion into your writing.

READING
What do you enjoy reading? What type of stories are you drawn to? This may not seem important, but several years ago my husband asked why I was writing everything except fiction—since my eyes were always glued to a novel. “First,” I explained, “my mind doesn’t work that way. Second, there is the matter of creating characters, scenes, dialogue, and plot. I can’t do it. You just don’t understand.” He raised his eyebrows, shook his head, and silently walked away.

The next day my mind was buzzing with characters, dialogue, and a story line. I sat down at the computer to prove fiction writing was totally outside my bailiwick. Within a short time, I had produced two chapters of my first novel. When I handed them to a friend so she could tell me how bad they were, she got to the end, shook the pages in my face, and said, “Where’s the rest? I want more!”

The lesson I learned was that God does not want me to underestimate myself or put Him in a box. He can do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20 NKJV). The Message puts it this way: God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!

KNOWLEDGE
Write what you know. Draw from your education, training, and life experience. This could mean anything from nursing, to gardening, to sailing. Everyone has expertise in at least one area. Don’t waste it. Infuse your knowledge into your writing so other people can benefit. Then branch out. Find things that interest you and do your research. Talk to professionals who can help you with detailed information. Let Google become your best friend.

PAIN
This might be one of the most important tools for inspiration. What terrible thing have you been through that you can share with others? What have you faced and conquered that will help bring victory into the lives of your readers?

Praying for the Prodigal is a result of five long years of dealing with rebellious and ungodly behavior from both of my children. Many have asked if it was difficult to write this story, and my answer is absolutely yes. As I sorted through the details, I re-lived many of the events that brought fear, anger, frustration, tears, sleepless nights, and the hopelessness that tried to swallow me. The best part, however, was the healing that took place as I wrote. My sincere prayer is for this book to give hope and encouragement to those who are traveling the same dark path.

In God’s economy, nothing is wasted … even our pain. What the enemy means for evil and destruction, God can turn around for our good and His glory—and the edification of the body of Christ.

DIVINE INSPIRATION
Webster's defines inspire as being influenced, moved, or guided by divine or supernatural inspiration. It also means to infuse or breathe upon. In other words, our inspiration as writers can (and should) be God-breathed. This is why it's so important to seek God's guidance and pray over our words.

BOTTOM LINE
Ecclesiastes 9:10a (NASU) says, Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. So, what’s in your hand? Don’t be afraid to offer it to the Lord and step out in faith. Your words may be someone’s lifeline and a direct answer to an urgent prayer.


** Praying for the Prodigal will be released March 25, 2015 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Books can be pre-ordered at Amazon.


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Monday, March 9, 2015

New Doors

We are honored to have Eva Marie Everson as our guest today on The Write Editing.

By Eva Marie Everson

Have you ever done one of those tests to determine your spiritual gifts? I tend to rank high in “teaching,” which—for those who know me—is no big shock. I have always enjoyed taking what I know (or what I think I know) and passing it along to others.

When I look back over the course of my writing life, and when I listen to the stories of others, I realize I had a Cinderella story. And it seems I instantly wanted others to be a part of what I was learning at the time. Word Weavers, which is now Word Weavers International--of which I am the president--had started two years previous to my first open publishing door. In those two years, I learned. I grew. I watched. I listened.

Then, as my publishing journey went into full swing, I continued to grow and learn and—as is my way—to pass along everything I experienced. When I failed, I shared. When I had setbacks, I was an open book. When I succeeded or when I discovered what I felt everyone should know, I passed this along.

Word Weavers grew. And grew until it had members not only in Central Florida (where it began), but across the world. Running it took much of my time and—I have to tell you—I didn’t mind. I kept writing. I taught at conferences. I presented workshops locally and away. I worked as a mentor for Christian Writers Guild and met some of the greatest folks on the planet. I served as an adjunct professor at Taylor University—a time I still say was the second most fun time I’ve had while working.

A year or so ago, I accepted a part-time position as Acquisitions Editor of Firefly Southern Fiction, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Once again, I found myself opening doors for others … and I loved (and still love) it.

In October 2014 I received a call from BeliversTrust (yes, it’s one word) asking if I would write the fiction eight-week course for their new curriculum. Right up my alley, so I said yes. Then, in November, as I drove from Georgia to Florida, the Lord and I had a little sit-down about what was going on in my writing career. He made it pretty clear: I’d be writing less (though still writing), and teaching more.

“What?” I asked. “Can’t I do both?”

 “Yes, but one will now overshadow the other.”

I knew what He meant.

Shortly after, I had another vision for Word Weavers, which I shared with my trusty vice president, Mark Hancock. A month later, I received another call from Rebeca Seitz of BelieversTrust. She asked if I would accept the position of VP at BT.  My job would fall mostly within what we call The Classroom.  Creating. Teaching. Guiding. Bam!

“See,” God said, “I told you so …”

So what’s this all about, this blog? What are you, the reader, supposed to learn from my ramblings? Well, I’ll tell ya … but this goes back to two things that happened two years ago.  First, I read a work of fiction by Robert Goolrick, A Reliable Wife. Nothing about this book is CBA. Everything about this book cries the story of redemption. God’s story.  Second, I read a work of nonfiction by Rick Bragg, All Over But The Shoutin’. Also not a CBA book, but within its pages fell a section about the author’s spiritual journey. While I had spent the majority of the book laughing heartily, these few pages brought me to tears. To absolute tears.

And I came to a realization. They are doing it better than we are. They are preaching God’s message better than those who should do it best. And this is where the Lord birthed my new desire to teach others (and myself) to write better!

We cannot ever stop learning. We can’t. And we should never, ever stop sharing what we have learned. And we should never ever, ever stop listening when God says, “See that open door over there? The one leading a new way on your journey? Go that way …”


Eva Marie Everson is a multiple-award-winning, best-selling author of both fiction and nonfiction. She is the president of Word Weavers International, the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference, the vice president of BelieversTrust, and the managing editor at Firefly Southern Fiction. In her spare time she enjoys her life as a wife, a mother, and a grandmother. She is pretty much owned by her dog, Poods. For more information on Word Weavers, you can e-mail Eva at WordWeaversInternationsl@aol.com




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Monday, March 2, 2015

How Collaborative Writing Can Be Pure Awesome (or not)

Today I (Alycia) am thrilled to introduce my friend, Mary DeMuth and her new book, written with Frank Viola, The Day I Met Jesus. The book releases tomorrow, March 3rd. Leave a comment to be entered to win a copy of this wonderful look into the lives of five women who Jesus touched with His love.

by Mary DeMuth

http://www.thedayimetjesus.com/
I’ve had two collaborative writing experiences, one bordering on awful, and the other one awesome. The non-awesome one came about randomly, and we did not do a good job of hammering out our separate responsibilities. This led to a lot of miscommunication, hurt feelings, and, ultimately, a stalled out project. So when Frank Viola approached me about co-writing The Day I Met Jesus, you can imagine I was highly cautious, and I really didn’t want to do it.

But after several conversations with him, my agent, and his agent, we decided to proceed. I’m so glad I did.

What worked:
  • We both embraced the vision of the book. The premise was Frank’s idea, but I clearly understood it (biblical narrative + teaching). So when I wrote, I stayed within the vision of the book.
  • We clearly defined our separate responsibilities. I wrote the fiction portion of the book (five true stories of women in the New Testament encountering Jesus), and he extrapolated wisdom from each, writing the nonfiction portion. This meant I wrote the first half of the chapter in narrative form, and he wrote the latter half as a teacher.
  • We both respected each other’s strengths. Frank gave me the freedom I needed to craft a compelling story, complete with story arc, tension, dialogue, etc. It meant that when I read through his nonfiction portion, I asked questions for clarity, but I didn’t revamp his points.
  • Each of us edited each other’s works, asking good questions, catching mistakes. When we had a deeper question, we picked up the phone. Much better to talk it out than to walk through a lengthy e-mail exchange where misunderstanding can flourish.
  • We split everything—including advances, editing, and the marketing burden. (Ah, I shouldn’t call it a burden. But this is where having a co-author can be amazing. One of Frank’s strengths is marketing, and I do not have that strength. I’m learning a lot from him.)
  • We both are fast, deadline-meeting authors, so we ended up turning the book in early. Our work paced back and forth. I'd write a section, he'd edit, then I'd finalize. Same with his sections. We methodically worked through the entire book this way.
  • We each reach different audiences, so sharing each other’s platforms has so far proven to be mutually beneficial. We are both sensitive to the needs of each other’s tribes.
Of course we ran into snags, but on the whole, we worked very well together. We both believe the project would have been less powerful if only one of us authored it. Both our strengths combined made a more compelling read, thankfully.
If you’re considering partnering with another author, be sure you:
  • Hammer out (in writing) what each person’s responsibilities are. 
  • Pen in deadlines.
  • Communicate how you like to be edited (Track changes? Hard copy?).
  • Let the publisher know what to expect, how you will work together. 
  • Know yourself and your own writing pace so you can communicate that with your writing partner. If you are slow, let them know so you can budget in the appropriate amount of time to do your sections of the book. If you’re fast, try not to force the same expectation on the other writer.
  • Be edit-able. Embrace feedback.
  • But also know your own voice well enough to know when to gently push back if the co-author wants to alter your voice or change your storytelling.
 
I’m grateful Frank approached me to co-write The Day I Met Jesus. The book is rich in storytelling and teaching because of our strengths combined. And we had the opportunity to write something truly unique. I hope you have the opportunity to have this kind of writing synergy with a coauthor someday.

To learn more about Mary, Frank, and The Day I Met Jesus, click their links below: