Joyful Writing: How to Keep It (by Catherine Castle)

What a release to write so that one forgets oneself, forgets one’s companion, forgets where one is or what one is going to do next—to be drenched in sleep or in the sea. Pencils and pads and curling, blue sheets alive with letters heap up on the desk. —Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Do you feel the same way about writing as the author of the quote above? I do.

Writing has been a part of me ever since I can remember.  I get great satisfaction out of finishing a poem, writing the end on a story, and even composing blog posts. I’m a poet, a playwright, a journalist, a lyricist and composer, and a romance author. Stories come to me unbidden in dreams. Snatches of original music or lyrics jump into my head. When I see something or someone unusual, read an interesting tidbit in the newspaper or magazine, or even hear a particularly interesting phrase, ideas bubble to the surface of my mind, and I MUST capture them for a future story.

Like reading, where I get so absorbed  that I don’t hear anything that goes on around me, writing pulls me into another place. A place that transports me. A place where I control what happens. A place where what I put on the paper makes the world I create a happier place. Because when you write romance the Happily-Ever-After is important. I guess that’s why I love to write romance and action stories where good triumphs and love conquers all.

For me life without writing is like Oreos without milk, a garden without flowers, a wedding with no bride and groom, happiness and no one with whom to share the joy. I can’t not write. No matter what the circumstances.

But, sometimes I get so caught up in the merry-go-round of striving for writing success that I forget the joy of putting words on paper. The deadlines of blog posts, book edits, and marketing sap my writing joy and dry up my creative well. If that’s happening to you, let me suggest a few simple ways to find the joy in writing again.

  • Take a break from the stress of whatever deadline you’re facing. Unplug yourself from your computer, your cell phone, the internet, and any modern tools you use for marketing. Sit in the sun on the beach, a park, or your favorite place to unwind, and drink in the surroundings.
  • Go to the movies, and don’t dissect the film. It’s an unfortunate byproduct of writing. Instead, let yourself be surprised by the plot twists and turns the writer has planned.
  • Spread a blanket on the grass or deck and cloud watch. Look for animals, faces, and mythical creatures that float in the sky above us. You’ll be amazed at what you see. Watch the creatures dissipate and morph. If you must create, craft a fantastical bedtime story for your children or grandchildren. But don’t write it down. Remember it.
  • Experiment with a different creative outlet. I’m a gardener and nothing loosens my writing stress like pulling a few weeds. I also quilt, and I love getting lost in a fabric store or quilt catalogue, imagining all the beautiful things I could make. I probably won’t ever make them, but it’s fun dreaming.
  • If you cannot stay away from writing, choose a different medium. If you compose on the computer, use pen or pencil and paper. If you write with a pencil, try composing on the computer. Or better yet, let your inner child loose and write with colored pencils or crayons. Then draw a picture to illustrate the story.

The method you choose to keep joy in your writing isn’t what’s important here. The results are what counts, because without joy in our writing, writing is merely a job. That’s not how I want to write, because I like my gardens with flowers and the white sheets flowing from my printer alive with letters-joyful letters.

What about you? What do you do to keep the joy in your writing?

 

CT Bio 8x11About the Author:

Award winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

 

Her debut inspiration romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing is a 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award Winner, a 2014 RONE winner, a 2014 EPIC finalist, a 2014 RONE finalist and a Carolyn Readers Choice Award finalist and an ACFW Genesis Finalist.

 

TheNunAndTheNarc2_850Hyperlinked contacts:

You can connect with her at her blog, on FB, Goodreads or Twitter.

Catherine also guest posts at: Stitches Thru Time and SMP Authors blog

Her award-winning book The Nun and the Narc is available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Why I’m Glad it Took 11 Years to Get my First Novel Published (by A.J. Cattapan)

 

I started my writing journey about eleven years ago when I enrolled in a class on writing for children and teens. Although I’d harbored secret desires of being a novelist since the sixth grade, my initial ambitions were pretty humble: just get published in a children’s magazine. It took nearly six years before I saw my first short story in print.

Around that time, my ambitions (and my courage) grew and I took a class in writing novels for children and teens, but it took another five years before I held my first book in my hands. You might think I would’ve gotten discouraged and given up somewhere along the way. Well, you’d be half right. I did get discouraged, but I didn’t give up. In fact, now that my debut novel is out and has become an Amazon bestseller for Christian teen fiction on social issues, I’m actually really glad it took me a long time to get published.

Why?

Because without all those years of preparation, there’s no way I would’ve been ready to tackle a book launch or even signing a book contract for that matter.

You see, I’ve recently been asked to mentor a few aspiring writers, and what I’ve learned is that many of them just want to sell their book (which they are sure is not just an Amazon bestseller but a New York Times bestseller, too!) and thus hit it big quick. When they tell me about their attempts to get published, I hear about all the mistakes they’re making.

I ask, “Have you joined any writing groups?”

They say, “No, I was waiting until I got my first paycheck from the publisher.” (Mind you, they don’t have an agent or publisher yet.)

“No, don’t wait,” I respond, “Join now! You need to show the agents and publishers that you take your craft seriously, and you can learn so much from them. Do you have any kind of writing platform? Website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest followers?”

“Nope, none of those.”

“Not even a personal Facebook account?”

“No.”

“Have you been to any writing conferences?”

“No. Why would I go there?”

“Have you learned the proper way to write a query letter?”

“Oh, I just mailed them my entire manuscript. And if they reject it, they’d better return it because I paid lawyers to help me get it copyrighted already.”

Yikes! And this is why I’m so glad it took me eleven years to get a novel published. It gave me time to learn not just the craft of writing but the business as well. While I never made any of the mistakes listed above, it did take me a lot of time to get my website in order (in fact, I played around with a couple different blog ideas first) and to build up my social media platform.

God had a plan for my writing career. He knew I needed time to be ready to handle the demands and stress of marketing a book. He knew I’d need to meet and learn from many different authors who would help guide me along the way. Honestly, if it hadn’t taken about eleven years for me, I don’t think Angelhood would have made it on the Amazon bestseller list the day it released. I wouldn’t have had the marketing and networking skills to pull that off.

If you’re not yet published and feeling frustrated, please know that most of us have been there. It’s a very rare author who doesn’t spend at least a few years learning their craft and the business. If you haven’t made that book deal yet, take heart. It means you’ve got time to network, build that email list and social media platform, and improve your craft. Then when the big day finally arrives, you’ll be ready to tackle it like a pro!

 

IMG_8231Author bio:

A.J. Cattapan is an author, speaker, and middle school English teacher living in the Chicago area. Her published works include the young adult novel Angelhood, a guardian angel story in the tradition of It’s a Wonderful Life. She’s also been a Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor and had numerous short stories and articles published in magazines for teens and children, including Highlights, Pockets, and Hopscotch for Girls. She will also be featured in a recipe and corresponding story anthology due out later this year.

 

Angelhood2 500x750Book blurb:

Seventeen-year-old theater geek Nanette believes her life is headed toward stardom on Broadway. But when her dream theater college rejects her and her best friend dies in a terrible accident, Nanette decides the world would be better off without her. Unfortunately, the afterlife offers something less than a heavenly situation. Trapped between alternating periods of utter darkness and light, Nanette is stuck following a high school freshman around. Soon, she learns she’s a guardian angel, and the only way she can earn her wings is to keep her young charge, Vera, from committing the same sin she did—taking her own life.

Unfortunately, Nanette is missing more than just her wings. She has no tangible body or voice, either. Frustrated by her inability to reach out to Vera and haunted by memories of her old life, Nanette wants to give up, but then she sees what happens when another Guardian at the high school turns his back on his charge. The shock is enough to supercharge Nanette’s determination. If she’s going to find peace in the afterlife, she’s going to have to discover what living is really all about.

Links below:

Social Media Links:

Website: www.ajcattapan.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/acattapan

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJCattapan

Instagram: https://instagram.com/a.j.cattapan/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ajcattapan/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24553425-angelhood

Google+: https://plus.google.com/+AJCattapan

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/ajcattapan

 

Purchase Links for Angelhood:

Paperback: http://tinyurl.com/nam26ek

Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/nvaphgk

Nook: http://tinyurl.com/q973qz8

iBook: http://tinyurl.com/qya98ya

All ebook versions are currently only $1.99!

 

Please Don’t Faint! (by Ada Brownell)

Clara has always been a fainter. She passes out at the sight of blood. Once she fainted when she bumped her head on a door.

Due to her habit of fainting, Clara is not much help in an emergency. When she was a teenager she worked for her Uncle Matt and Aunt Marge. One day Matt broke his leg. Marge was away, so Matt shouted for Clara to call for help. Clara rushed to see what happened, and fainted. Matt had to crawl to the phone.

Years later, Clara and her family were camping at high altitude on Grand Mesa near Grand Junction, CO. Her son, Dean, had a heart murmur and in the middle of the night and gasped for breath.

Clara’s husband awakened her and said, “We’re going to have to take Dean off this mountain. He can’t breathe.”

She sat up, looked at Dean, and then lay back again. “I think I’m going to faint.”

Her husband laughed. “Don’t be silly. You can’t faint lying down.”

But she did.

Doctors say Clara’s fainting was the result of a depression in the action of the heart. This can be caused by cold, heat, hunger, mental shock, weakness, pain, or fright.

Not many people suffer physical fainting as often as Clara did, but in the church there are many spiritual “fainters.” The Bible reproves those who faint when the going gets rough. “If you faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small,” we’re told in Proverbs 24:10.

Another scripture addresses those in the Lord’s work. “Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galations 6:9).

“Spiritual fainting” is not necessary. As long as God lives and answers prayer, there is a way to recover strength, according to Isaiah 40:31, which says “if we wait upon the Lord, we can run and not grow weary, walk and not faint.” Luke 18:1 has further guidance: “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”

Don’t faint. Don’t give up in your well doing. Pray instead, and God will strengthen you.

Note: Clara Miracle was one of Ada Brownell’s older sisters. A similar version to this story appeared in The Pentecostal Evangel years ago.

 

ada brownellMEET ADA BROWNELL

Ada Brownell blogs and writes with Stick-to-Your-Soul Encouragement. She is the author of six books, about 300 stories and articles in Christian publications, and she spent a large chunk of her life as a reporter, mostly for The Pueblo Chieftain in Colorado. A Bible student since her teens and a youth educator, she also taught on the Bible and science; courses from Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict; and other faith-building courses. She now lives in Missouri, a beautiful state except for tornadoes and chiggers.

Among her books: The Lady Fugitive, an historical romance; Imagine the Future You, a youth/parent Bible study;.Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult, a novel for middle grade up; Swallowed by Life: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal, includes evidence we’re more than a body; Facts, Faith and Propaganda, a book that unmasks propaganda as well as reveals amazing truth; and Confessions of a Pentecostal, out of print but released in 2012 for Kindle; Most books are available in paper or for Kindle. Imagine the Future You audiobook is available at www.Audible.com  Free book with new Audible membership.

Amazon Ada Brownell author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/adabrownell

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/AdaBrownellWritingMinistries

Twitter: @AdaBrownell

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1654534.Ada_Brownell

Blog: http://inkfromanearthenvessel.blogspot.com

Barnesandnoble.com http://ow.ly/PUWHO

 

 Copyright © 2015 Ada B. Brownell

Accomplishing the Ordinary

Ever feel ordinary? When you read the stories of past and present heroes and heroines of the faith, do you ever wonder if you were in the bathroom when the call went out for volunteers?

I’m about as ordinary as can be. My days are filled with planning and preparing meals, cleaning the house (admittedly that fills as few of my days as possible), and writing stories about made-up people and events that exist only in my imagination. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked God, is this really all you want me to do? Shouldn’t I be out feeding the hungry, stopping abortion, ministering to the sick and imprisoned? It seems so ordinary. So unremarkable. I confess that when I read about others who follow the Lord’s call to minister in Uganda or the Middle East or even inner city USA, I’m a little bit…convicted? Intimidated? Embarrassed at my lack of accomplishments? Makes me wonder, am I not listening? Did I not recognize the Lord’s voice when He called me to do something extraordinary? Was I not paying attention?

Whenever I’m feeling common, ordinary—may I say, useless?—I remind myself that God makes some vessels for special purposes and some for common use. (Romans 9:21) We tend to remember the Biblical giants of the faith, like Abraham and Moses and Paul, but there were many who were used for ordinary purposes. Read the genealogies of the Old Testament, or even Jesus’ lineage in Matthew 1:1-16 or Luke 3:23-38. No doubt, you’ll recognize some of the names, but a lot of them we know nothing about. They were just ordinary people like you and me, going about their daily routines. Unremarkable, except that they were the human ancestors of the God-man, Jesus Christ.

I often think of Susanna Wesley, a mother who went about her daily chores. Would we know anything about her if not for her famous sons, John and Charles? The same could be said for most well-known figures, from presidents to movie stars to business leaders to sports figures. Someone had to do the ordinary things of life in order for them to fulfill their special purpose.

Maybe that’s why Solomon wrote, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…” (Ecclesiastes 9:10) And Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord…” (Colossians 3:23)

Even common ordinary vessels are important in their own way. God has a plan and a purpose for us. It may not be glamorous. It may not make us famous, but that’s not the goal anyway. The goal is to make His name famous. And if He chooses to do that through ordinary means, I’m one of His first volunteers.

 

Alt. headshotAuthor Bio:

Not exactly ordinary, Mary L. Hamilton grew up at a youth camp in southern Wisconsin, much like the setting for her Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series. While raising her own three spectacular children, she was active in her church’s youth ministry, hosting small group Bible studies and pancake suppers. She even volunteered as a camp counselor for a week—and decided once was enough.

When not writing, Mary enjoys ordinary activities like knitting, reading and being outdoors. She and her husband make their home in Texas with a rescued Golden Retriever.

 

Connect with Mary:

Website/blog: http://www.maryhamiltonbooks.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/maryhamiltonbooks

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/mhamiltonbooks

Twitter: http://twitter.com/@MHamiltonAuthor

 

Book Links:

Hear No Evil, Book 1: http://tinyurl.com/kl5bovo

Speak No Evil, Book 2: http://tinyurl.com/oaleqya

See No Evil: http://amzn.to/1MtOkMj

 

 

 

 

Be Strong, Fear Not (by Patrick E. Craig)

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can.

Often these days, as I look back over the last year, that little song from The Lord of The Rings has been going through my head. In February of 2014, Jenny’s Choice, the last book in my Apple Creek Dreams series for Harvest House reached print, and it arrived just in time for a huge drop in the publishing business that saw major publishing houses dropping their fiction departments and jettisoning new authors.

My agent had my latest proposal, the people who read my first series gave me wonderful feedback, Jenny’s Choice had a 4.8 star rating on Amazon, but I still didn’t have a new contract.  In the midst of that, I had been working full time and getting ready to sell the home that I had lived in for fifteen years while preparing to move to another state.  So by the time I would finally sit down to write, my mind was la table rasa, the blank slate.  Oh, it’s not that I didn’t have any ideas for books; it’s just that with everything that was happening I just couldn’t put my stories into words.

Has that ever happened to you?  So what’s the solution?

The-Amish-HeiressWhen I signed my first deal to write the Apple Creek Dreams series, the road to that event was totally engineered by the Lord.  I really didn’t do anything except listen to Him and go where He directed.  And of course I had to write the books.  But here’s what I discovered.  If you are a Christian who loves to write, that is a gift from God.  After all, He is The Word, and He communicates to us through His written word.  So when we write, we are living in His image.  And we have to remember then that what we write is from Him and it is to be used for His purpose, in His time, and for His glory.  That takes a real load off.

A good book is not about fame and fortune, even if your mind is demanding recognition.  For a Christian, writing should be about presenting the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that impacts the spirit and soul of those who read your book.  And that could be millions or maybe only one.  But that one person may find eternal life in the words you write, and that is reward enough.

So I just kept writing, and finally the next book began to take shape. In June of 2015, I put “The End” on the story of Rachel Hershberger, The Amish Heiress.  I am self-publishing the book because I believe it is a story the Lord gave me to write.  And if I never get another contract, I will keep writing, because that’s what the Lord has for me.

So, going back to the little song:  if you have a story, you are on a road that is going somewhere, even though you may not know where it will lead.  So keep writing, be strong, fear not.  For the Lord is with you and you must follow, if you can.

PCraig2aAbout the Author:

Patrick E. Craig is a lifelong writer and musician who left a successful songwriting and performance career in the music industry to follow Christ in 1984. He spent the next 26 years as a worship leader, seminar speaker, and pastor in churches, and at retreats, seminars and conferences all across the western United States. In 2011 he signed a three-book deal with Harvest House Publishers to publish his Apple Creek Dreams series. The books are historical Amish fiction and the first book, A Quilt for Jenna, was released February 1, 2013.  The second book in the series, The Road Home, was released September 1, 2013.  Book number three, Jenny’s Choice, came out February 1, 2014.  His current series is The Paradise Chronicles and the first book, The Amish Heiress, will be out in August, 2015. Patrick is represented by the Steve Laube Agency. Patrick and his wife Judy make their home in Idaho and are the parents of two adult children and have five grandchildren.

 

Where can readers find me online?

www.patrickecraig.com  (Webpage)
https://www.facebook.com/PatrickECraig (Facebook)
https://twitter.com/PatrickECraig (Twitter)
http://tinyurl.com/pn5rzf9  (LinkedIn)

Where can readers purchase the Apple Creek Dreams Series?

http://tinyurl.com/n6sfagg (Amazon)
http://tinyurl.com/ou2kb2y (Barnes & Noble)

 

The Amish Heiress will be available in August on Amazon, B&N and GoodReads.

 

 

 

 

I Wrote a Novel (by DJ Mynatt)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI wrote a novel.

It’s not what I expected to write; yet when I sat down to write, the words just flowed onto the page.

I had lots of ideas … Amish Romance, Contemporary Romance, Sci-Fi, and plans for several non-fiction devotionals. But when I sat down–and began my Amish romance–almost immediately it changed into an Amish Suspense novel. Definitely suspenseful … and I love writing it. Some of the other ideas I had are in the works now, some are still in the planning stage, but the Amish suspense is the one I love to write.

But today I want to talk about my non-fiction book. When several readers asked me to write about my experiences when I competed in the NaNoWriMo event, I felt it was important enough to complete. National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known to its’ users as NaNoWriMo, isn’t looked upon favorably by many writers/authors. I’m not sure why … they don’t claim to teach you how to write, or how to get published, or how to do anything except to teach yourself how to develop a habit of writing.

That’s it. If you’ve always wanted to pen the great American novel, or be the next J.K. Rowling, do whatever it takes to write your novel. And that’s my message to you today. Don’t let anyone–or anything–stop you. And if you need a little nudge, or something to help you create a good habit of writing, NaNoWriMo can help with that.

If you don’t need help with making time to write, then I encourage you to sign up for a creative writing class at your local community college, or find a workshop that specializes in creating the perfect query letter or one-sheet–or join the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) organization and take their online classes.

There are also lots of books on how to make your writing better … and how to find an agent, or editor, or even a publisher. But the main thing is to get that novel written. And you can do it–I know you can do it–if you really want to. It doesn’t matter if you work full-time, or if you’re a full-time stay-at-home mom, or if you’ve just retired and need something to fill the empty hours.

One of my favorite Bible verses, that has encouraged me many times is “Ask, and it shall be give you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” ~Matthew 7:7

These words are not just words of encouragement … these words have been proven time and again. God promises whatsoever we desire, we only need ask for it to receive it. Now hold on, I’m not talking about earthly fame or fortune; I’m talking about having a desire to write–to reach out to others–words that God has given you to share.

Because honestly, if it isn’t in God’s will for me–I DON’T WANT IT! I make enough mistakes on my own. When I pray, I ask God to direct my path, to guide me in my words, to reach out to others with good news for others. I believe God has given me a love and a desire to write. All I need to do is write and ask God to make a way for those who need to read it – to find it.

Yes, I am coming to the place where I need my writing to support my family, but God has a much better plan than I could have – to help me reach this goal.

Write. Trust God to do the rest. It’s that simple.

1 - Author Photo - DJM - SM - 06-2015Author Bio:

DJ Mynatt is a newly-published author, who works full-time for the State of Tennessee, as well as beginning a new career as an author, editor, and speaker. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) organization, The Christian PEN (TCP) and the Non-Fiction Authors Association (NFAA).

DJ lives with her daughter and grandchildren in the beautiful hills of Tennessee When she leaves her “day job”, DJ’s time is spent focusing on her writing, editing, blogging, reviewing books (especially for authors featured on her BookShelf blog) and attending workshops and writers conferences.

In her first published book, DJ shares her experiences while participating in the NaNoWriMo challenge in November, and she encourages others to sign up for this amazing adventure!

“If you’ve always wanted to write, but haven’t been able to get started, NaNoWriMo is a great idea for you. It’s not meant to teach you how to write, but to give you the opportunity to create a habit of writing. It might just be the push you need to begin your writing career!”

Overwhelmed? (by Kimberly Rose Johnson)

file1801281015946As I write this, I’m sitting in the dentist office waiting room waiting for my youngest to get a filling. Poor kid. Life can sometimes feel like one big cavity—painful, overwhelming, or too much to deal with. But there is hope. That cavity can be filled and the pain will, or at least should, go away. That’s what it is like with the Lord. He can fill those painful times with peace, healing, restoration, or whatever the need is if we hand it over to Him.

A writer’s life is filled with so many different things that can become overwhelming. Reality is everyone faces things that overwhelm, but today I’m focusing on writers since that was my assignment.

As writer’s we face deadlines that must be met in the midst of marking, social networking, and a plethora of other things that drain our time. What’s a writer to do?

The first thing I suggest is giving the stress to the Lord. He is a big God and can meet you where you are. I’m not suggesting He will write that book for you. What I am suggesting is that He will give you what you need to be able to meet your deadline, or whatever you are stressing.

Secondly, practice good time management. Figure out what is most important and schedule your time accordingly. There are days, when I have a looming deadline and social networking becomes something I rush through in thirty minutes. I do the minimum I can get away with and then move on to what is pressing. Ideally we don’t get stuck in a situation like that, but sometimes life and circumstances get the best of us and it can’t be helped.

Thirdly, recognize you are human. You can only do so much. Delegate if you need to, or simply put some things off that aren’t a priority. We only get 24 hours a day, and we need to sleep. Yes, sleep is important. It is when our body recharges, enabling us to do what we do. So don’t deprive you body of what it needs. Take care if it. Which leads me into my final suggestion.

Take care of yourself both physically and spiritually. You may think you don’t have time, and you could be right. If that is the case, you overextended yourself and need to back off of something, because taking care of yourself is crucial to your success. I’m sure you’ve heard this a lot, but it’s worth repeating. Take care of yourself to be the best you that you can be. Diet and exercise play a key role in this, but so does taking time out to do something you enjoy, spend time reading both for fun and enrichment. Spend time with the Lord.

I hope you will try these strategies. I believe you will find that you will feel better and even be more productive.

 

IMG_4314-2 PublicityAbout the Author:

Kimberly Rose Johnson holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, teenage son, and their yellow lab. She writes heartwarming Christian romance for Heartsong Presents and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She enjoys taking long walks with her husband and dog, reading, dark chocolate and time with friends.
You may contact Kimberly via her website at http://kimberlyrjohnson.com/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kimberly-Rose-Johnson/e/B00K10CR6E/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1433789058&sr=1-2-ent

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KimberlyRoseJohnson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimberlyrosejoh

 

 

 

5 Things I Learned at the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference

10253868_722067807814954_1123009107988543688_nThis past weekend, I attended the KY Christian Writers Conference, held in Elizabethtown, KY. Actually, attended might not be the right word. I am the faculty chair for KCWC, so maybe “worked” would be the more appropriate term, especially since I only attended 1 session that I wasn’t either teaching or hosting. Still, there was a lot that I learned at this year’s conference.

1. If you’re looking to lose weight, try working on the planning committee for a decent-sized conference. You’ll either be too busy or too stressed to eat much, and you’ll be hurrying from one side of the building to the other most of the day. I think I may have lost 10 lbs. OK, maybe not quite that much . . .

2. When you get involved, conferences are a great place to network with people. Well, this isn’t something I learned this year, but it’s definitely something I’m reminded of at every conference I attend. I love volunteering. At ACFW, I often work the registration desk or the bookstore; for KCWC, I am the faculty chair; and for Realm Makers, I’m the Social Media Director and the Director’s minion (ha!). Through these opportunities, I’ve met some amazing people–like my agent, many of my critique partners, and a whole multitude of people who have been sources of encouragement, insight, and wisdom.

3. I’m funny! Seriously, that is something I learned at KCWC this year. I have been so afraid and self-conscious about getting up in front of people to speak, that I’ve never applied to do workshops and, in fact, avoided anything that required me to do so. However, I felt the pull to do a workshop this year. Plus, as faculty chair, I was in charge of leading the Editor’s Panel and doing all the giveaways and entertaining when we gathered as big group. So, I was up on stage, in front of the whole conference, several times throughout the 2 days. And, apparently, I’m pretty funny. Unless they were just laughing at how pitiful I was, which I would entirely understand. 🙂

4. Jesse Florea (from Focus on the Family) was a great keynote speaker. I didn’t get to sit in on most of his first 2 keynote sessions, but what I did hear was pretty entertaining and helpful. However, his last keynote session was downright inspiring. He made us laugh, made us cry, and made me want to go home and write!

11217513_10206984246869755_5010395468265576946_n5. My agent, Julie Gwinn, rocks! Not only did she do a fabulous job answering questions on the Editor’s Panel and the Fiction Panel, but she is great at brainstorming and helping to decide on career direction. In face, her and I have some exciting stuff cooking . . . which could actually involve some major changes in my writing over the next few months. Can we say “published writer”? More information to come soon!

I’m so thankful for the conference this past weekend. While I didn’t exactly learn a lot of writing-related tips and tricks, I did get to listen to a few knowledgeable experts, meet some amazing writers, spend time with friends, and leave with a lot of motivation and inspiration.

The planning committee is taking a hiatus for the rest of the summer, but we’ll be diving back into planning for 2016 in September. We already know that Sandra Aldrich will be the keynote for next year . . . the rest of the speakers are still a mystery. Only God knows–and that means the conference is in good hands!

If you live in the area, or even within a few hours drive, I highly suggest coming to hang out with us next summer! Dates are June 17-18.

Never Give Up (by Teresa Pollard)

IMG_0519Hi, Everybody.  I’d like to thank Ralene for inviting me here today to share my writing encouragement story with you.  My writing tip is simply to never give up.

I’ve been writing almost my entire adult life.  I started writing in 1979 on a dare from my friend, Linda Anderson.  She’d lent me a grocery bag full of romance novels, and I had complained that they all had exactly the same plot: rich man meets poor girl, they fall madly in love, but misunderstanding piles on misunderstanding until they fall into each other’s arms and kiss.  The end.  I said I could write a better novel.  So she dared me to.

I sent my first novel off to Moody Press that November.  It was a romance novel called Karen’s Special Gifts.  I didn’t have a clue how I was supposed to go about a submission, so I sent my only copy of the entire manuscript.

On TV, people send a manuscript to a publisher, and voila, a few weeks later they have a published novel. Ha!  It doesn’t work like that.  I waited anxiously for eight months before I finally received a letter and my manuscript back.  It was a wonderful letter.  It said that I had come up before the review board, and it was a split decision. Since I was an unknown author, they felt they couldn’t take a chance on me.  I was crushed.  I didn’t write another word for three years.

Then, in 1982, I was sitting in church one Sunday evening and the plot to Not Guilty popped into my head.  I rushed home and spent three days writing furiously, day and night.  At the end of that time, I had eighty handwritten pages.  I knew it was only a first draft, and still needed a lot of work, but I gave it to my friend, Candi Pullen, to see what she thought of it.

A few days later, she gave me back twenty pages of critique.  At that time I had a pretty hot temper, and it amazes me now that I never got mad for a second.  Everything she said was so perfect to round out the story.  All I told her was that if she had that much to say about it, she needed to help me write the novel the way it needed to be written.  For almost a solid year, we wrote (in between chasing six kids around).

After we’d finished, we passed the dozen or so copies we made around to members of our church and other friends.  We got feedback from several women who said it had made an impact on their lives.  But inquiry letters to publishers brought zero results.  (After my first experience, I never sent out the complete manuscript.)

I decided to go back to college, this time for a creative writing degree.  By then, I lived right up the street from Hollins College (now university).  Hollins has one of the premiere creative writing programs in the country.  Their master’s degree program is almost impossible to get into.  By working at the library there, I was able to “back door” my way into it, and by 1986 I’d received my bachelor’s and in ’89 my master’s degree.

The one thing Hollins never taught me was how to market my writing.  They did say it was all about networking.  I guess I’m too slow on the uptake.  I still didn’t know how to do that.  I just kept writing novels and putting them up on my shelf.

In 2012, I was sitting in church one Sunday morning with a copy of Not Guilty on my lap, to give to a friend who was an aspiring writer.  Another friend asked if I’d ever heard of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference.  I said no, and I didn’t have the money to go to a conference.  Before the words were out of my mouth, a girl came on stage and sang a contemporary song called, Not Guilty.  I couldn’t help but feel it was God speaking directly to me, saying, “It’s time.”

So I went to the conference.  The first person I met there and exchanged business cards with was Lynellen Perry, my new publisher.  She was starting a brand new fiction imprint called HopeSprings Books that would deal with contemporary women’s issues.  Not Guilty became the second novel in the lineup, followed by Tokens of Promise in April, 2013, and now, Not Ashamed in July, 2015, and Woman of Light in October, 2015.

God is faithful.  He never forgets His children.  In His time, if we will wait on Him, and trust His will, He will give us the desires of our heart.  One caveat.  If your goal is to make lots of money, forget it. But if you seek to glorify Him in your writing, don’t ever give up!  God bless.

Teresa 

 

 

Headshot for booksAbout the Author:

Teresa Pollard is from Richmond, Virginia, and was saved at a young age.  She has a Master of Arts degree in English and Creative Writing from Hollins College, and has served as a Sunday School teacher and children’s worker for most of the last forty years. She is the co-author of Not Guilty and Not Ashamed (due July 7), and the author of Tokens of Promise and Woman of Light, (also due out from HopeSprings Books in October).  Married for forty years, she was devastated by divorce and the death of her youngest daughter, but God has blessed her with a new home and another grandson, and she now resides in Dacula, Georgia.  She blogs every Tuesday at http://teresatalkstaboo.wordpress.com. Follow her on Facebook at Teresa Pollard, Author.

The Story of an Author (by Robin Patchen)

 

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This is the story of a successful author.

Once upon a time, a woman decided to write a novel. Day and night, she dedicated herself to the task, skipping parties and meals, rising early and retiring late in order to get another thousand words on the page. She thought about her story all the time, dreamed about her hero and heroine, called her children by her characters’ names, ate, drank, and breathed her story. Finally, a few months, maybe a year or more, down the road, she had a finished product. She sent it to her mom, who loved it. Then, with a spark of hope and a dream of publication, she submitted it for a critique. And her critique partner … was honest.

The book wasn’t good.

“I’m a talentless hack!” declared the woman. She slammed her laptop closed, grabbed the box of Oreos, and plopped herself on the couch for a Mad Men marathon.

Days, perhaps weeks later, she opened the critiqued document from her so-called partner and re-read the comments and suggestions. Grudgingly, she admitted that the woman might have been right about one thing, maybe two. She spent some time editing her novel, making it better, thanks to the input from her partner. Slowly, gently, she made changes and learned from them.

When she was finished, she sent it to her critique partner again. This time when her baby came back dripping in red, our author didn’t slam her laptop, and she only ate a single Oreo. Okay, a single sleeve of Oreos. And she made the changes. And the book was better.

She edited that first book more times than she can remember, and then she put it aside and started the next one. She poured herself into it, let her mom read it and enjoyed the gushing praise, and then sent it to her critique partner.

When she received the first critique, she opened it, already cringing. The document was still dripping in red … but there were fewer red marks. And the marks were on different kinds of mistakes. She made the changes, improved the book, and sent it again.

It was getting better.

So was she.

The second book wasn’t destined to be a bestseller, but it was an improvement. And the third was even better than that. In the process, our writer learned that great writers aren’t born. They’re conceived after hours and hours of hard labor—and lots of Oreos.

The more our friend writes, the harder she realizes writing is, and the more she learns. Yes, time passes. She gets older, wiser, and better, and after awhile, she gets a contract (or self-publishes a great book) And then she’s the critique partner encouraging others on this walk.

This is the story of a lot of writers. As an author, an editor, and a critique partner, I’ve seen this story played out so many times in so many different ways. What separates the great writer from the hack is not the quality of the first manuscript, it’s the time spent improving it. It’s the teachable spirit that gets us off the couch—Oreos or not—and back to the computer to make the changes and learn and be better.

Talent is just the first ingredient. It’s the decision to keep at it, to rewrite and learn and grow, that separates the hack from the true author.

DSC_8915-25edAbout the Author:

Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, released in April. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website, robinpatchen.com.

 

 

Finding Amanda links

Finding Amanda coverMy website: http://robinpatchen.com/

Robin’s Red Pen: https://robinsredpen.wordpress.com/

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Amanda-inspirational-Robin-Patchen-ebook/dp/B00VN0STLI/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1428171089&sr=8-3&keywords=robin+patchen

Itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/finding-amanda/id982982402?mt=11

Kobo:  https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/finding-amanda

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/finding-amanda-robin-patchen/1121693795?ean=2940151640039

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25311792-finding-amanda

 

Finding Amanda Back Cover Copy

 

Chef and popular blogger Amanda Johnson hopes publishing her memoir will provide healing and justice. Her estranged husband, contractor and veteran soldier Mark Johnson, tries to talk her out of it, fearing the psychiatrist who seduced her when she was a teen might return to silence her.

 

But Amanda doesn’t need advice, certainly not from her judgmental soon-to-be ex-husband. Her overconfidence makes her vulnerable when she travels out of town and runs into the abuser from her past. A kind stranger comes to her rescue and offers her protection.

 

Now Mark must safeguard his wife both from the fiend who threatens her life and from the stranger who threatens their marriage.