Monday, June 29, 2015

5 Things You Can Do to Help Other Writers

by Alycia W. Morales
@AlyciaMorales

If you want to be a writer, one thing you should know is that it is far more fun to support other writers than it is to try to compete with them.

What does supporting other writers look like? Here are 5 things you can do:

1. Come to their book signings. These are typically held at local bookstores, like Barnes & Noble, Lifeway, or the "mom and pop" bookstore. Buy one of their books, even if you've already read it or don't see a need to read it. For example, one of my best friends and writing mentor, Edie Melson, is having a book signing at Barnes & Noble on Woodruff Road in Greenville this Friday from 3-5 PM. Her book is a series of prayers for those who have loved ones serving in the military. I will be attending, even though I don't have any immediate family overseas. I'll be attending to support my local author and personal friend. (And if you're in the Upstate SC area, maybe you could come too.)

2. Help them launch their websites. A3 (Almost An Author) is a new site for writers, written by over 30 people in the writing industry. It's full of information and tips about writing, craft, social networking, and more for those who would love to become published authors. The site is launching on July 1, 2015. That's two days from now. How can you help? You could join the Thunderclap campaign, which would automatically post to your Facebook page, Twitter feed, and Tumblr blog, should you opt in. It will only post once, on July 1, to spread the news about the new site. And it only takes about 10 seconds to do so. I (Alycia) am one of the editors who will be posting once a month.

Click to Support A3 Thunderclap Campaign
Click the Photo Above to Support A3 Thunderclap Campaign

3. Become a member of the author's launch team. These are also referred to as street teams. Or dream teams. When you participate on a launch team, you will usually receive a PDF version of the author's book. Some will send you a physical copy of the book. Most of the authors I've served by being a member of their launch team have used a private Facebook page to communicate with their team members. Basically, you'll be asked to leave a review of the book on the various bookstore sites like Barnes & Noble, Christian Book Distributors (CBD), Parable, and amazon. You may also leave a review on GoodReads. You can blog about the book. I love to do so when I'm reading a non-fiction book and God is revealing things to me. It's an easy way to share about the book without my blog readers feeling like I'm trying to sell them something. You'll also be asked to help promote the book via your social media networks. I find most of my opportunities to help launch a book on Facebook. Most authors will post that they are looking for launch team members. You may need to follow their author page.

4. Buy their books, read them, and tell your friends about them. Amazon reviews are a huge help to the author (as long as it's a positive review). And word of mouth is still the BEST form of advertising. And heed the cliche. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. Also, if you need to point out a flaw, use the sandwich technique. Find two good things to say and put them around the flaw you need to point out. Praise. Flaw. Praise. Click here to read an example of a review.

5. Pray for them. Who doesn't need prayer? Authors face the same things in life that readers do. Just because they've had a book or seventy books published doesn't mean they aren't dealing with the same issues we all are. They have families. They have financial needs. They battle illnesses. They deal with life issues all the time. Pray that God meets their needs - physical, emotional, and spiritual. Pray that God blesses them with continued creativity, inspires their characters, and provides the words they need to fill their novels with page-turning imagery. Pray He blesses the work of their hands in a way that glorifies Him. Pray He opens doors of opportunity for them to minister to the needs of others via their platform. It's the least you can do that will yield the greatest reward.

Q4U: What other ways can you think of to support your favorite authors? We'd love to hear them!

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Five Fiction Faux Pas

By Andrea Merrell

This week’s post is how to guarantee your manuscript will be rejected in five easy steps.

 Five Fiction Faux Pas
  1. It’s not necessary to hook your reader. They’ll get into the story—eventually.
  2. Using strong verbs, descriptive phrases, and lively dialogue is a waste of time. Just tell your story. It’s much easier that way.
  3. As long as your story is good, don’t worry about developing strong characters. Your readers don’t need to connect with your protagonist.
  4. Don’t worry about point of view (POV). Head-hopping is permissible and even encouraged. It’s okay to keep your readers guessing whose head they’re in.
  5. Plot is not important. Your readers are smart—they’ll “get it.”

Now, let’s call in Faux Pas Busters to dispel those five terrible myths.

The Hook
Writing is a lot like fishing, and you need to choose your bait carefully. Hooking the reader is important whether you’re writing a novel or a simple devotion. Make your reader want to read on. You have a very short window of opportunity to capture someone’s attention, especially when they’re reading online. A hook is a bit of a teaser. If you’re not sure what makes a great hook, go back and reread the first paragraph of your favorite books.

Show—Don’t Tell
Allow the reader to experience your story. Use all five senses. Help them see your scene as it plays out in their mind. Are there sounds causing them anxiety or fear? What does it smell like?  Is the meal described in such a way they can almost taste it?  Do objects seem so real they could touch them? Don’t just relate the facts. Help your readers connect with your characters and get lost in your plot. Pull on your readers’ emotions. They may not remember exactly what they read, but they will remember how you made them feel.

Characterization
Introduce your characters in such a way that the reader will immediately connect with them. Let the reader know something important right away (i.e. name, appearance, age, occupation, goals, desires). Show their strengths and weaknesses. Make them down to earth and relatable. If your readers don’t like your characters, chances are they won’t like your story.

POV (Point of View)
In each scene, make sure you stay in the main character’s POV. If you are in Michelle’s POV, she can’t possibly know what Steven is thinking or what his intentions are. Picture Michelle with a camera on her head. Her only reality is what she can see through the lens of that camera. Be careful not to head-hop, making your readers constantly go back and reread to find out whose head they’re in.

Plot
Do you have a plot? What does your protagonist want? How does your protagonist get from point A to point B? Create tension throughout your manuscript, keeping the goal just out of reach. You don’t want the reader to finish your story and say, “Okay, so what was the point?”

Bottom Line
Writing is a continuous learning process. There are many other elements to crafting a good story, but these are five of the key elements. If you’re struggling in any of these areas, here are a few suggestions:
  • Find a good critique partner who can steer you in the right direction.
  • Attend writers’ conferences and take classes that will help you hone your craft.
  • Search for online classes.
  • Subscribe to blogs that will help you with both writing and self-editing.
  • Read, read, read. Writers are readers. Learn all you can from other writers.
  • Write, write, write. The best way to learn is by doing.

What other suggestions do you have? We would love to hear from you.

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Do You Have an Entitlement Attitude?

by, Alycia W. Morales
@AlyciaMorales

If you've ever attended or taught at writers conferences, you've met them. The writers who think they deserve special attention because ... well, fill in the blank. The reasons are endless.

"You should publish my book because ..."

"You need to represent me because ..."

"God told me you ..."

Monday, June 8, 2015

How to Uphold Your Reputation as an Author

Today's guest is Kathy Ide, author, editor, and founder of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editor Network (www.TheChristianPen.com).

By Kathy Ide

The buzz word in publishing is platform. But did you know that having mistakes in your manuscript can affect your reputation and platform?

Mechanical errors can give an unprofessional appearance to publishers and readers.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Journaling

By Andrea Merrell

Many people feel called to write, but don’t know where or how to begin. When you don’t have clear direction, the best place to start is by journaling.

Why journal? Listed below are three benefits that can kick-start your writing and get you moving in the right direction:

CLARITY
Whether you’re reading a good nonfiction book, studying your Bible, or simply enjoying some quiet time, certain things will come to mind that need clarification. The best way to achieve this is by writing those things down. Ask yourself questions. Look up key words. Do your research.

REINFORCEMENT
We need to see and hear something a number of times before it sticks. Whether you have a creative idea or a life-changing thought, don’t risk losing it. Thoughts and ideas tend to fly away if they’re not captured. Once you have them on paper, you can go back to them time and again.

PERSONALIZATION
This part is especially important when studying the Scriptures. Read with an open mind and teachable spirit, allowing God to speak to you. Write down His promises and make them personal. Insert your name. When ideas and inspiration strike—and sometimes they come from the most unexpected sources—put them in your journal and pray about how to make them relevant and apply them to your life.

Your journal might become one of your most valuable and most treasured possessions. You’ll be surprised at the inspiration you receive when you go back and read your own words.

Now what?
Now that you have your thoughts on paper, the best place to start is with a short devotion. Maybe you had a terrifying experience, and you can share with others how God protected and delivered you from fear. Perhaps your child or grandchild did or said something silly and it sparked a life-lesson. Don’t limit yourself. You can write about joy, pain, sickness, friendship, children, abuse, vacations, marriage, nature, or whatever inspires you. The possibilities are endless.

Sharing a personal story or anecdote, tying it in with a Scripture, and making it relevant, will not only be a blessing and encouragement to others, it will build your confidence and help you reach outside your comfort zone. Along with devotions, you can write blog content, articles, short stories, and enter contests. Who knows … you might go on to be a newspaper reporter, columnist, conference workshop leader, or best-selling author.


If you’re just beginning, remember … all writers had to start somewhere. Don’t despise small beginnings. If God has called you to write, the important thing is to be obedient. He has a plan, purpose, and destiny designed specifically for you.

(Photos courtesy of morguefile.com.)

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