Monday, February 24, 2020


By April Michelle Davis

There’s been a growing amount of discussion and tension surrounding the issue of typos and misprints appearing in major publications. The fact is just about anyone could have made these mistakes; however, these mistakes could have also just as easily been avoided. All it would have taken was an edit by a copy editor. 
An increasing number of publications are laying off copy editors to save time and money, the excuse being that copy editors slow things down as web editors and reporters are quite capable of proofreading their own work. If this were true, then why are more and more publications being called out when a writer doesn’t get a well-known fact right?
Many authors already know the value of a second set of eyes. Copy editors cannot merely be replaced by spell check. Their role extends far beyond that of “Grammar Nazi.” Copy editors are trained professionals hired to help preserve a publication’s credibility.
Some may argue that in today’s world of the internet and instant feedback, “minor” mistakes are not that big of a deal as most of them can easily and quickly be fixed. However, perhaps what it all boils down to is what publications are willing to run the risk of: losing money or obtaining embarrassment.
We would love for you to weigh in on this subject. What do you think? Do errors bother you? How important to you is it for publications to be as error-free as possible?

(Photo courtesy of and Stuart Miles.)


April Michelle Davis is a freelance editor, indexer, and proofreader. She is the coordinator for the Virginia chapter of the Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA), the Social Media Marketing Expert for the National Association for Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE), and a lifetime member of the American Copy Editors Society (ACES). She teaches courses through her own company, Editorial Inspirations, as well as for associations and colleges on topics such as editing, indexing, grammar, writing, and creating macros. 

April Michelle is the author of A Guide for the Freelance Indexer, Choosing an Editor: What You Need to Know, and A Princess in Disguise. She is currently writing a third technical book. She is originally from northern Virginia and has lived in Richmond, Virginia, since 2007. 

Monday, February 10, 2020

Tips for Using Writing Time More Wisely

Last week we talked about not procrastinating ... not waiting ... not making excuses. Just writing. This week, Edie Melson shows us how to do that more effectively.

By Edie Melson

I always believed I needed at least an hour, and preferably three, to make any progress at all with my writing. 

I couldn’t have been more wrong. 

The truth is those small bits and pieces of time we all have add up to a lot. And wasting them can severely hamper our ability to meet deadlines and find success. 

Over the years, I’ve learned how to use the time I have, even if it’s just ten minutes. Today, I want to share the specific things I do to help increase my productivity when long stretches of writing time just aren't possible.

Tips for Using Writing Time More Wisely

1. Decide to use what you’ve got. This is the biggest part of the puzzle. If you wait for perfect circumstances, chances are you’ll never finish your book. Truthfully, things rarely line up. When they do—celebrate! When they don’t—just decide to work harder.

2. Do your pre-work.
 There are a couple of things I recommend you do before you start writing in those short bits of time. AND they can also be done in bits and pieces.
  • Have a road map of where your book is going. I’ve learned that I work better from a scene map (a list of all the scenes I want to include in my book). You may not have something that detailed. But you should know what you want to write about next. After you finish a scene, before you get up, make a couple of notes about where you want to go from there.
  • Have a foundation of research to build on. I take a few weeks before I start writing, to do my research and compile my notes.
3. Don’t overthink what you’re writing. Sometimes you’ve got to write junk before you can get to the good stuff. Beyond that, the only thing you can’t fix is an empty page. So put some words on the page and keep moving forward.

4. When you’re writing your first draft, don’t stop to research. When I only have fifteen minutes, I could waste all of it looking up a fact I need to know. When I come to something I need, I make a note and keep writing. I can look it up after my first draft is done and I begin editing.

5. If you’re working on revisions, make a list . . .  actually, make several. Make a list of things you need to look up. Also, make a list of scenes you need to add. By making these lists you have a road map for your revisions, and you don’t have to waste time figuring out what to do next.

These are all great tips if you’re writing a book, but what if it’s an article or something small that you’re working on? Take the principles I’ve outlined and structure your writing time, no matter what you’re working on. 

Most of all, learning to work in the bits and pieces of time that life sometimes throws us takes practice. When I first started, I spent a lot of time frustrated because what I was writing didn’t measure up. But within just a couple of weeks, my frustration lessoned and productivity increased—exponentially. 

Don’t assume you can’t work this way. When I didn’t, I lost years of productivity. Instead, take a chance and learn how to keep moving forward.

Now, I’d love to find out what tips you have to work in less than ideal circumstances.

(Photos courtesy of and Stuart Miles.)


Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. No matter whether she’s talking to writers, entrepreneurs, or readers, her first advice is always “Find your voice, live your story.” As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives. Connect with her on her website, through FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Don’t Wait—Write!

By Andrea Merrell

Excuses. We hear them all the time. We make them all the time. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. I’m too tired. When the kids go back to school. When I retire. When my life slows down.

Our excuses turn into procrastination and we delay, postpone, and hesitate to do what we need to do. I have a friend who says his wife has become the queen of tomorrow.

Not to be morbid, but we’re not promised tomorrow. We tend to save the fancy china for special occasions. We bring out the best sheets and towels for overnight guests. And we plan to make that delicious new recipe someday when we have company. My grandmother used to wear ragged nightgowns to bed while her drawer was full of new ones just in case she “had to go to the hospital.”

Psalm 90:12 (NLT) says, Teach us to realize the brevity of life so that we may grow in wisdom. Some people plan for today but live for tomorrow. Maybe we should plan for tomorrow but live for today.

I’m a person who loves large blocks of time to do what I need to do. But those times are few, so I’m learning to take advantage of every opportunity. The voice of procrastination will always whisper, “You can do it later.” But when we realize the brevity of life, as the psalmist says, we will seize the day and stop putting things off .

Waiting for the perfect time or that special occasion can leave us with a lifetime of regrets. One writer says every day we wake up is a special occasion. A new day that the Lord has made, filled with new blessings, new mercies, and new opportunities.

What are you putting off until later? Fill in the blank: Someday I’ll _____. One of these days I’m going to _____. Maybe you need to forgive that friend, send that email, take a vacation, or say I love you. Perhaps you need to write that blog post, submit that article, work on your novel, or update your website. Possibly, you need a new headshot or new business cards. Or it could be that you need to sit down and read the book that’s been on your shelf for months.

As we continue to set our goals for this new year, whatever you need—and want—to do, do it now. There’s no greater feeling of accomplishment than completing those long-overdue tasks. If you’re called to be a writer, don’t wait. Write!

(Photo courtesy of and Stuart Miles.)


Monday, January 27, 2020

Edit Your Writing to S-P-A-R-K-L-E

By Katy Kauffman

My comfort in the middle of a snowless winter is the sparkle. I find it in the decorations that brighten my house. I see it in the joy that a dear friend takes in winter’s arrival. I find it on the Hallmark channel when an unpredictable line or scene tugs at my heart. 

We need sparkle to manage a difficult season, and we need it in our writing. When we infuse sparkle into our books, articles, and blog posts, we will keep our readers engaged and turning the page. Or scrolling to the end of a post. Sparkle brings stories to life, delivers insights about Scripture with charm, inspires with memorable takeaway, and leaves a glint of light behind in the reader. A glint that can ignite a fire of inspiration, purpose, and action.

So how we can edit our nonfiction writing to sparkle? Follow these seven steps to edit your writing so it has all the light, beauty, and charm it possibly can.

S – Search for sentences in your stories that tell and don’t show.
Replace any telling with showing, and you’ll let the sparkle shine. As authors, we act as narrators, but when we allow readers to live a story and not just watch it happen, we help them to have a vested interest in the outcome. So even for real-life stories, show where a story takes place. Set up the conflict. Share the characters’ emotions through their actions and reactions. Let the reader feel the struggle and long for victory. The stories will shine more brightly and have more of an impact on the reader.   

P – Place quotable lines throughout your writing.
Think “Twitter worthy.” You know those memes that you find on Twitter, Facebook, and other places? Picture your words on them. Would you share that meme if you didn’t know who had written it? As you edit your writing, make sure you have quotable sentences throughout your chapter, article, or blog post. Mark these on your books’ manuscripts, and suggest them for pull quote boxes for your future editor. These lines add sparkle to your writing.

A – Adjust any paragraphs to fully support your main idea.
It’s not just about getting words on page but crafting sentences that amplify your main idea. Sparkle forms when we explain our point with meaningful insights, touching stories, and intriguing illustrations. As you edit, see if just the right explanations and stories have been included, and be willing to adjust as needed.  

R – Rid your paragraphs and pages of any clutter.
I often feel dread when I consider cutting my words. But unnecessary words and sentences hinder the sparkle. Free your writing to dazzle by eliminating what can hinder the message. Take out words and lines that don’t directly support what you want to say.  

K – Know who your audience is, and tailor your takeaway for them.  
What application of Scripture does your particular audience need? What life situations are they going through, and have you adequately encouraged them to persevere or trust God? Do your paragraphs inspire them to take the action you’re suggesting? When we remember our audience in every line and paragraph of our writing, the sparkle will appeal to them.

L – Love your reader.
As you edit, notice your “voice.” Do you steer away from a negative voice and instead use the voice of a friend to encourage, inspire, or instruct? Show your readers that you’ve been in the same boat they are likely in, and share how God helped you row through a difficult time to the other side of peace and relief.

E – Exit a chapter or article at just the right place.
End your piece of writing with a stunning takeaway. It can be in the form of a quotable line or someone else’s quote. It can be a thought-provoking question or driving home the slant of the piece. Knowing when to finish is just as important as knowing what to say. Not too late and not too soon. Leave the reader with inspiration they’ll remember and act on.

Which of these sparkle steps are you already practicing? Which might you need to work on more? Tell us in the comments which of the steps appeals to you the most, and never leave out the sparkle.

(Photo courtesy of and Stuart Miles.)


Katy Kauffman is an award-winning author, an editor of Refresh Bible Study Magazine, and a co-founder of Lighthouse Bible Studies. She loves connecting with writers and working alongside them in compilations, such as Heart Renovation: A Construction Guide to Godly Character, which was a 2019 Selah Awards finalist and Director’s Choice finalist. Katy’s Scripture-based writing can be found at,, the Arise Daily blog, and in online magazines. She shares monthly tips on writing at The Write Conversation and the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference blog.

Katy loves spending time with family and friends, making jewelry, and hunting for the best donuts. Connect with her at her blog, The Scrapbooked Bible Study, and on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, January 13, 2020

So, You Want to Write a Book?

By Sandra Allen Lovelace

“You’re an author? Wow. I dream about writing a book someday.”

These very words fuel countless conversations. A friend introduces me to her shopping buddy at the mall. The person sitting beside me as we wait for a delayed flight starts to chat. A greeter in a new setting asks me what I do. These situations don’t surprise me because it’s estimated that 80 percent of American adults say they need or want to write a book.

In honor of these discussions with would-be authors, I created my So, You Want to Write a Book? workshop built around the strategy that moved my current work in progress from concept to contract in less than a year. My audiences are enthusiastic and complimentary, and I share the following highlights as encouragement for those yet to get started or anyone stuck along the way.

Your project is more than fiction/nonfiction. Be clear about the category as it relates to every detail of content and style, and keep your audience in mind.

Your personality is as unique in print as at your core. Once you know and appreciate who you are, make sure you’re prepared to share that with your readers.

Basic issues, such as grammar and punctuation, are essential, as are industry standards and publisher guidelines. Heed and apply these specifics from the beginning.

Human connections are as vital as an understanding of the publishing world. Attend conferences to meet people and learn the ropes as much as to grow your craft.

Your writing sweet spot may take time to discover. Find your productive routine from the perspective of your intellectual, emotional, and physical needs.

When we choose to step back and consider the various aspects of our writing life, whether in hope or fact, we not only rest and rejuvenate what may be tired muscles. We open doors to a stronger foundation, wider horizons, and fresh creativity. Intentionality reaps marvelous rewards.

What strategies have worked best for you. We would love to hear your comments.

(Photos courtesy of and Stuart Miles.)


Sandra Allen Lovelace served the LORD as a pastor’s wife and missionary for 35 years. She’s written educational and motivational materials for adults, curriculum for children, and in-print and online magazine articles. She’s the author of two published books, and her award-winning blog is more than 10 years old. Sandra holds degrees in education and communication arts, is a 2015 graduate of Christian Communicators, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and an award-winning Competent Communicator with Toastmasters International. She’s the director of a multi-cultural speaking, writing, and coaching ministry founded in 1991.

Sandra arrived in South Carolina two and a half years ago. She’s the mother of two married daughters and four busy grandchildren so far. Not surprisingly, travel is one of her favorite activities, best done internationally with a camera in her hand. Visit Sandra at