Monday, April 27, 2015

The Writer's 23rd Psalm

By Andrea Merrell

The Lord is my shepherd, agent, and publicist. He provides everything I need to be a successful writer, and I shall never lack for divine appointments, connections, and inspiration.
He beckons me to come away from the computer and leads me to a quiet, restful place to spend time in His presence. He gives me strength and shows me how to honor Him with my gifts and talents.

Monday, April 20, 2015

10 Things You Need to Do Before You Write Your First Book

by Alycia W. Morales

As an editor, I work with a lot of first-time novelists. And I can always tell the difference between the ones who've put in the time to learn their craft before they write their first book and the ones who haven't.

Here is a list of 10 things every writer needs to do before they write their first book:

1. Read. Read books in the genre you want to write. If you want to write YA, read YA. If you want to write romance, read romance. If you want to write non-fiction, read non-fiction. If you want to write thrillers, read thrillers. By doing so, not only will you learn what works in a book, you'll also learn what doesn't.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Left Behind ... Missing the Writers' Conference

The Write Editing welcomes author and editor Lori Hatcher today as our guest.

By Lori Hatcher

Common sense tells me I’m not the only one who was unable to attend the most recent writers’ conference. Social media, however, begged to differ. Every post I saw was from someone squealing with excitement. Agents were hoping to sign the next Karen Kingsbury. Instructors were thrilled to be presenting new and insightful workshops. Writers were eagerly anticipating productive times of learning and networking.

And I was sitting at home. Missing it all. Waaaaaaaaah!

 Maybe you’re one of the other three people on the planet who wasn’t able to attend the conference. Perhaps you couldn’t afford it. Or couldn’t get time off from your day job. Or didn’t have someone to watch your kids or your aging parent. Whatever the reason, your inability to attend doesn’t have to hamstring your writing life.

I’d like to share six suggestions to help you move forward:

If a friend attended the conference, invite her over for coffee and pick her brain. Ask her to bring her notes and debrief with you.

If someone attended the conference from your local writers’ group, invite her to share what she learned at your next meeting. If several members went, ask them to share the three (or five) best things they learned.

Subscribe to faculty blogs. Go to your favorite conference’s website and click on the Faculty link. Most professionals have very informative blogs. By subscribing to their feeds, you can get helpful instruction on all aspects of the publishing process. It’s free continuing education that lasts much longer than the writing conference itself.

Some of my favorite writing blogs are Writer to Writer, The Write Conversation, MacGregor Literary blog, The Write Editing,  and, of course, the Christian Writer’s Den.

Set new goals. One of the most helpful aspects of a writers’ conference is coming away with a new list of writing tasks, ideas, and goals. While it’s easier to overcome inertia with a push from someone else, a prayerful look at where you are and where you’d like to be in the future can help you formulate goals on your own.

First, brainstorm several small projects you can complete in a day or two (blog posts, an article, or a computer file cleanup). Be sure to set a larger one that might take a few weeks of steady progress (researching new publications and sending out query letters). Finally, set a long-term goal (a book or editing project). Set deadlines for each and ask a writing friend to hold you accountable.

Plan a private writers’ retreat. This is an annual tradition for me. Every year I invite two or three friends to join me for a weekend getaway at a kind friend’s mountain house. We pack the books we never have time to read, our current work in progress, and lots of food and chocolate. We sequester ourselves in different rooms to pray, plan, and write, then come together for meals, brainstorming, and critiquing. While we never accomplish everything we hope, it’s wonderful to have an uninterrupted chunk of time to work.

Think long term. There are several wonderful conferences in my area each year, and it’s unrealistic to expect to attend every one. If I do my research, plan carefully, and save intentionally, I can usually attend at least one. If you really want to attend a conference next year, start planning now.

If finances are a challenge, divide the cost by 12 months (or 52 weeks) and begin saving that amount. The total often seems overwhelming, but when you break it down, it’s usually doable. For example, if a conference costs $800, you’ll need to save about $16 per week. This is the equivalent of one lunch out or a few lattes. And the next time your husband, mother, or children ask you what you’d like for your birthday or Christmas, tell them you’re saving to attend a writer’s conference and invite them to contribute to your fund.

Writer’s conferences are wonderful. Every time I attend, I come away inspired, educated, and motivated. They’re a great way to move forward as a writer, but they’re not the only way. If you implement even one of the suggestions I’ve shared today, you’ll begin to move forward on your writing journey. May God bless your efforts.

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

(Photos courtesy of Lori Hatcher and morguefile.)


Lori Hatcher is the editor of South Carolina’s Reach Out, Columbia magazine, and the author of the devotional book Joy in the Journey – Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms. A Yankee transplant and a Christian Communicators Graduate, she uses her speaking and writing ministry to encourage and empower women. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Writer ... Who's Following You?

By Andrea Merrell

You have a new follower on Twitter

Those of us who Tweet love to see those words as we network and build our platform.

It’s the same when someone LIKES us on Facebook, recommends us on Linkedin, or promotes us on a blog. It makes us feel validated and that we have something of value to share with others.

Recently, someone asked, “What will you leave behind?” The question caused me to stop and evaluate what my legacy would be at the end of my life—what I would leave behind that would continue to be valuable and memorable for others. It also made me realize how easy it is to be more concerned about what our social media audience thinks about us than our own family—those around us who know us best and love us most.

Proverbs 13:22 says. A good man (or woman) leaves an inheritance for his children’s children. But in this day of superior technology and social media, it is no long our family and close circle of friends that we touch. Every day our life touches the life of someone else. Our influence reaches far beyond what we can possibly imagine, especially as writers.

The apostle Paul was a good example. He had no money, land, or material possessions to leave those who followed him, yet the gifts he left behind are numerous: integrity, character, loyalty, passion, his writings, and those he mentored, instructed, and won to Christ. These are all marks of a great man who will be remembered for eternity.

If we only write to see our name on the cover of a book, that might be where the influence stops. But if we write in order to build relationships over platforms and touch the hearts of people, giving them hope and encouragement, our legacy—our influence—will live on and on.

When our words point someone to Christ, we are fulfilling our purpose. We can lead people in the right direction by everything we say and do, and especially by the words we write.

So my question today is, “Who’s following you?”

(Photos courtesy of Microsoft Clipart.)