Archive for the ‘Craft of writing’ Category

reading newspaper pexels-photo-404976

Yes, I believe our writing is a ministry! But if we want to reach the most people possible with the message Father has entrusted to us, we can’t ignore the business aspect of our ministry. Especially when it comes to social media, we need to learn the most effective ways of connecting with our audience and with influencers.

So . . . below is some “news you can use” that will hopefully help you to expand your ministry. But one word of caution. Be careful to guard against getting so caught up with numbers and the world’s way of doing things that you leave the Lord out of the equation. He is able to make things happen that you could never do on your own.

God can pour on the blessings
in astonishing ways
so that you’re ready for anything and everything,
more than just ready to do what needs to be done.
2 Corinthians 9:8 MSG

The Ultimate Book Marketing Plan

Rob Eagar, www.startawildfire.com, announced: “I’m giving away an incredible new 10-part email course called the Ultimate Book Marketing Plan for FREE at Reedsy.com. Reedsy is a new global online marketplace for authors that I encourage you to visit. It’s like AirBnB or Angie’s List for the needs that authors face, such as finding a book cover designer, editor, or a marketer like me.

“This new email course officially launched January 26. You get to be one of the first authors to access it for free. It’s a perfect complement to the Ultimate Book Marketing Template that many of you have downloaded. Click here to take the free email course at Reedsy.”

A Writer’s Best Friend 

A helpful and humorous blog by author and literary agent Bob Hostetler about a tool every writer needs to use. I won’t tell you what it is. 🙂 You need to read Bob’s blog. Click the link above.

Connect with Influencers in Three Sentences

If you need to secure endorsements for your book, you need to read this helpful blog post from Mike Loomis who has served on the faculty of the Colorado Christian Writers Conference.

What Facebook’s 2018 Change Means for Authors  

This blog post from Thomas Umstattd Jr. (another former CCWC faculty member) explains Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm. One important change: “Reactions (like laugh, heart, and crying face) are now weighted more than likes. So if somebody gives you a heart emoji, that’s more than if they just give you a regular thumbs up.” Let’s remember to do this when responding to posts of those who need our support.

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Come to what? When? Where? The NEW

Write to Impact Lives Conference
February 9-10 in Lansdale, PA

And why?

Question & Exclam pt

8. To give your writing the jumpstart it needs in the midst of the winter doldrums and prepare to meet with editors and agents at the July 26-28 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. Attendees will receive 10% off GPCWC’s registration fee .

7. To participate in our Friday evening author interviews and book signing. If you’re not yet published, you’ll be encouraged by their testimony and by fellowship with other conferees and our faculty. We need to

Encourage each other and build each other up,
just as you are already doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT

6. To be challenged, encouraged, and inspired through three powerful keynote addresses.

  • “Christians Are Hateful” – The Cultural Challenge for Today’s Christians – Bill Watkins
  • Write from the Deep – Karen Ball
  • Keeping Your Dreams Alive – Jim Watkins

5. To discover the advantages of “Going Indie” with Sarah Bolme, Director, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA). Self-publishing is no longer viewed as the last resort for writers unable to land a contract with a traditional publisher. Even best-selling authors often choose to go indie. This 4-hour learning lab will give you the knowledge and tools you need to publish and market your book.

4. To keep growing your writing skills in a 3-hour continuing session.

  • Taming Fiction Dragons with Karen Ball who has built fiction lines for Tyndale, Multnomah, Zondervan, and B&H Publishing Group. As an editor, author, and former literary agent with The Steve Laube Agency, Karen has over 30 years publishing experience.
  • The Five Rs of Nonfiction with Jim Watkins, an award-winning author of over 20 books and 2,000 articles. Jim will give you practical, step-by-step methods to get into print and pixels.
  • Writing that Changes Lives with Bill Watkins – Writing that connects, challenges, provokes, inspires, casts vision, provides hope, and refuses to back away from telling the truth can change lives and eventually cultures. During his 35-plus years in publishing, Bill has worked with hundreds of authors including Chuck Swindoll, Josh McDowell, Leslie Vernick, and Mike Huckabee. He is also an award-winning author with 7 published books, the president of Literary Solutions, and senior editor at BroadStreet Publishing Group.
  • Develop a Personalized Marketing Strategy for Your Book with Karen Whiting, an award-winning author of 25 nonfiction books. Whether it’s still an idea or an already published book, learn how to use your strengths to develop a marketing strategy that fits you and reaches your potential readers.

3. To learn ways to build your “platform.”  Whether you land a contract with a traditional publisher or go indie, you need to learn how to effectively reach your audience. Our faculty panel will share what works (and doesn’t) and answer your questions.

2. To take advantage of the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a faculty member for a paid critique or marketing consultation for just $25. Barb Haley, our registrar, says: “Learning in a classroom is awesome, but to have someone give specific feedback about your  writing is so valuable. There have been conferences where I’ve scheduled 3-4 of these!” Space is limited and available on a first-come basis. Your manuscript (first 7 pages and a one-sheet) or marketing questions (and more click here) must be submitted by February 1.

1. Last but first, to hear from the Lord and recommit yourself to write to impact lives!

God can do anything, you know—far more
than you could ever imagine or guess or request
in your wildest dreams!
Ephesians 3:20 MSG

For more information and to register, click here.

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Feb banner

Looking to overcome winter doldrums and jumpstart this year’s writing?

A brand-new conference is coming up quickly this February 9-10 (Friday/Saturday) in Lansdale, PA (just off the north/south PA Turnpike) at Towamencin Mennonite Church (Friday afternoon) and Dock Mennonite Academy (Friday evening and all day Saturday). Friday night lodging at the Holiday Inn is $89 plus tax with roommate matching available to split the cost with one, two, or three other writers.

A small but highly qualified faculty will provide three inspiring keynotes, valuable 20-minute paid critiques and marketing consultations, a “Build Your Platform Panel,” and in-depth teaching.

Sarah Bolme, teaching a 4-hour learning lab Friday afternoon on Going Indie. Sarah is the author of the award-winning Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace and the director of the Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA).

Karen Ball, teaching a 3-hour session on Taming Fiction Dragons. In her more than 30 years in publishing, Karen has built fiction lines for major publishers and worked with some of the best authors, including Francine Rivers and Karen Kingsbury.

Bill Watkins, teaching a 3-hour session on Writing that Changes Lives. In his 35-plus years in publishing, Bill has worked with authors such as Mike Huckabee, Charles Swindoll, and Josh McDowell. He is an award-winning author of 7 books and senior editor at BroadStreet Publishing Group.

Jim Watkins, teaching a 3-hour session on The Five Rs of Nonfiction. Jim is an award-winning author of over 20 books and 2,000 articles. He has spoken across the United States and overseas.

Karen Whiting, teaching a 3-hour session on Developing a Personalized Marketing Strategy for Your Book. Karen is a freelance writer and award-winning author of 25 nonfiction books.

Feb flyer for webFriday evening,  in addition to Bill Watkins’ keynote, Christians Are Hateful – The Cultural Challenge for Today’s Christians, includes author interviews and a book signing. Bring your book(s) to sell and sign.

Click here for the conference flyer.

And for more info and to register click here.

Conference Bonus:

An extra bonus for conferees is to attend and participate in the Munce Christian Product Exposition (CPE) February 11-13 at Eden Resort in Lancaster, PA.

Munce, the largest association of independent Christian bookstores in North America, holds two CPEs each year, the second in Nashville, TN, in the fall.

It is a real privilege to come and interact with 100+ bookstore owners. Karen Whiting will do a special training at the CPE in how to make the most of this exciting opportunity including: 

1. There are several limited spots open to sign complimentary copies of books for retailers at the Sunday afternoon (4:30 – 5:30) author personality event. Authors need to provide 50-80 copies of their book to give retailers. This is a great opportunity to get your book in the hands of retailers who might choose to carry the book, or have you come to their store for an event. You can include your speaker one sheet, bookmarks, and other promotional materials.

2. Experience a book trade show. The exhibit floor is open on Monday and Tuesday plus there are workshops on marketing and other retail topics. You’ll see the latest in products and have the opportunity to talk to retailers and sales reps (you cannot interrupt the sales happening between retailers and sales people).

Click here for the schedule. If you’re interested in attending, email Karen at authorkarenwhiting@gmail.com.

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Nonfiction is by far the most popular and strongest selling genre in publishing (both secular and Christian). With all that demand, why can it be so difficult to capture a publisher’s interest in your real-life story of God’s work? The short answer . . . nonfiction stories are a much smaller niche.” ~ Craig Bubeck

My friend, Craig Bubeck, is offering a 3-hour workshop on Wednesday, May 17, from 2:15 – 5:45 (with a 30 -minute break) at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. Craig is a professional editor and writer who has served for 20 years in the CBA retail industry as publishing director and in senior-level acquisitions editorial with publishers such as Wesleyan Publishing House, David C. Cook, Victor Books, and Scripture Press. In the span of his career he was directly responsible for the successful publication of more than 200 retail books. Simultaneously with his publishing career, for 25 years Craig has taught college English writing, rhetoric, and literature at colleges and universities wherever he has lived.

I’m very excited about Craig’s workshop. I’ve known him for many years and highly respect him and his skill as an editor and teacher. A description of his workshop is below. I have no doubt it will be worth much more than the cost of only $40.

It’s not too late to register for Craig’s workshop or for one or more days of the conference. With 8 continuing sessions and 42 workshops (plus the 16 early bird workshops on Wednesday) there really is something for brand new writers who have not yet been published (or even submitted a manuscript) as well as professionals who need the encouragement and networking opportunities the conference offers. Those who register for Thursday through Saturday get four free 15-minute appointments with our faculty of 56 agents, editors, and authors. Partial scholarships for those with financial needs and/or time payments are still available.

For more information about the conference and to register go to http://colorado.writehisanswer.com.

Here’s the description of Craig’s early bird workshop:

Transforming Nonfiction
for Ears that Will Hear

Nonfiction is by far the most popular and strongest selling genre in publishing (both secular and Christian). With all that demand, why can it be so difficult to capture a publisher’s interest in your real-life story of God’s work? The short answer . . . nonfiction stories are a much smaller niche. (To learn how to connect with the nonfiction story market, check out Marti Pieper’s “Master the Memoir” [E4 from 1:00 – 2:00 on Wednesday] and the Sloans’ “Narrative and Nonfiction” [2D on Thursday afternoon].)

But if you are more interested in communicating a message, join us in this extended, in-depth, practical workshop as we explore why and how to transform a narrative nonfiction (your personal experience story or memoir) into the kind of topical nonfiction that has the broadest market appeal (and impact). This workshop is also a good transition and lead into Janis Whipple’s “Organizing and Outlining a Nonfiction Book” (3D on Friday afternoon). The truth God has revealed to you is important, but how you package the truth (how you incarnate it) for audiences can be the greatest and most rewarding challenge of God’s calling.

Please pray about joining us on the mountain. I know Father is going to meet us there!


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grist mill

Years ago my mentor, Anne Sirna, said, “Problems are wonderful grist for a writer’s mill.” Then she added, “And you have a wonderful life for a writer.”

Well, yes, there certainly has been no shortage of problems in my life. In fact, I often remind the Lord that I haven’t written my way through the last batch of problems.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials,
for we know that they are good for us—
they help us learn to be patient.
Romans 5:3 TLB

Patience! Sigh. There’s that word again – that character quality that we’re reluctant to add to our prayer list. Yet if God can work good from the problems and trials (and I know He can), and if I’m able to encourage even one person from the difficulties I’ve gone through and hopefully grown through, then the problems and trials aren’t wasted.

You grow more in the pit than on the pedestal.
Jim Watkins

April 11 I’ll be teaching one of my favorite workshops, “Writing the Personal Experience Story,” at Willow Valley Community in Lancaster County, PA.

PE wksp

I’ll talk about the importance of journaling because we will forget the details and the intensity of our feelings. I’ll encourage participants to inventory and reflect on their life experiences, and then I’ll discuss the seven essentials and pitfalls of good PE story writing.

1.  Clear focus.
Pitfall – we want to tell too much.

2.  Create reader identification.
Pitfall – the story is important to you but not relevant to your readers’ needs.

3.  Be honest.
Pitfall – the temptation to make yourself look better than you are.

4.  Use the 4Cs of fiction

  • Characters – contrasting & strongly motivated
    Pitfall – don’t lose reader’s sympathy
  • Conflict – credible problems & obstacles
    Pitfall – can’t remember all the details; inconsequential or unbelievable event
  • Crisis – black hole
    Pitfall – too emotional or not emotional enough
  • Change/resolution – take-away
    Pitfall – “I came to realize” or “suddenly I realized”

5.  Strong scenes.
Pitfall – telling instead of showing

6.  Dialogue used effectively.
Pitfall – unnatural, stilted dialogue

7.  Strong take-away.
Pitfall – failure to give reader something he can apply to his own life.

For more information contact Marie Zakaluk at 717-464-6258. If you live too far away, a CD of this workshop or my entire 7.5 hour “Called to Write His Answer” seminar can be ordered through the Write His Answer bookstore.

He comes alongside us when we go through hard times,
and before you know it,
he brings us alongside someone else
who is going through hard times
so that we can be there for that person
just as God was there for us.
2 Corinthians 1:4 MSG

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Fact or fantasy?

All you have to do to be a successful writer is to sit down and write.

Well, yes, certainly you’ll never be a writer (successful or not) if you don’t write. But the days when all a writer needed to do was to write are history.

In today’s world it is essential that we master technology. Okay, we won’t master technology, but it is critical that we know the basics of how to use a computer. And that doesn’t mean just learning how to use Microsoft Word to create a professional looking manuscript that is properly formatted and has headers and page numbers. The wise and brave will learn how to use Scrivener. (Debbie Allen is teaching a 4.5 Wednesday afternoon early bird workshop on “Scrivener from 0-60: Get Comfortable, Get Writing” May 17 at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut the actual writing and learning how to use the great tools we now have is just part of what we need to do. I began writing on an old manual typewriter. Well I’m not as old as this antique typewriter although I do remember my grandfather had one in the basement. My first manuscripts for publication were created on a blue Royal with keys that got tangled when I typed too fast.

Selectric type ballThe introduction of the Selectric typewriter and that marvelous spinning ball greatly increased my productivity. And to be honest, when computers were introduced, I was not at all interested in giving up my trusted Selectric and learning something new. (I really didn’t think I was smart enough!)

Even today, when my computer is causing me grief, I admit I almost long for the good old days of a yellow legal pad and pencil!

The greatest struggle though is all the other stuff that has become essential. Yep! I mean the “building a platform” stuff. While it’s exciting to be able to write something and publish it ourselves as a blog or ebook, the challenge of finding readers is daunting.

Both the May 17-20 Colorado and July 26-29 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference will provide help with


     Creating a Brand

                    Marketing Plans

           Public Speaking

                       Social Media How-to

     Website Evaluation

Below is a chart of Colorado faculty members who are available for one-on-one appointments to help you grow your platform and thus your writing ministry.


Important: For a PDF of the above chart click here.
The links are live in the PDF version.

Father, help us to embrace today’s opportunities to reach the world with the words You’ve entrusted to us. When we feel confused and overwhelmed by all we need to learn and to do, help us to trust You. Thank You for Your promise:

Now you have every grace and blessing; every spiritual gift and power for doing his will are yours during this time of waiting for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:7 TLB


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GP banner 2016

Why you need to come?

Reason # 1 – To learn the craft of writing.

Okay, maybe you’ve been writing for many years, but there is always more to learn. In addition to 61 hour-long workshops, GPCWC 2016 offers eight continuing sessions.

Writing a novel but feeling stuck? Forget the muddled middle. You can’t even get to the inciting incident. Rachel Hauck, New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author will provide needed building blocks in “The Story Equation.” This is a great class for beginners or advanced writers, published or not-yet-published, pantsers of plotters.

Are you hoping to one day see your story on the big screen? Dr. Ted Baehr’s “Breakthrough Scriptwriting” will teach you how to write a script that is structurally sound, entertaining, morally responsible, and very marketable. Ted is the founder and chairman of The Christian Film and Television Commission™. God is using him to make a difference in Hollywood.

Do you long to share your life story? Award-winning memorist, Patricia Raybon, will teach “Master the Memoir.” She is the author of the prayer memoir, I Told the Mountain to Move, and Undivided: A Muslim Daughter, Her Christian Mother, Their Path to Peace.

Do you know you need to strengthen your writing skills? Then you need Susan King’s crash course, “It’s All About Style.” Susan has been with The Upper Room magazine for over 20 years while at the same time teaching English at Lipscomb University.

Are you just getting started? Bob Hostetler’s “First Writes” will cover the basics of preparing and writing for publication.You’ll learn the best ways to break in and how to write for and sell to magazines.

Do you have a book idea but now what? In “From Proposal to Print” Sharon Norris Elliott will show you how to transform your vision into reality. You can expect to receive individual coaching on your project from this 25-year veteran. You’ll leave with both a great kick-start and a defined goal to get your book completed and into the hands of a publisher.

How do you reach more people with the message God has placed on your heart? Dr. Harold Arnold Jr., founder of The Pursuit of Influence, and SEO expert, Megan Breedlove, will teach you how to “Convert Your Passion to a Platform.”

Are you considering going indie? Amy Deardon’s hands-on sessions will walk you through the self-publishing process.You’ll learn how to design and market your book while keeping your costs low. Amy is an award-winning author, publisher, and budding online entrepreneur who is eager to guide you through the self-publishing minefield.

Plus choose 6 workshops from 42 offered and 3 Wednesday early bird workshops from 19 offered! WOW!

I hope you’ll be back tomorrow for more of the seven reasons why you need to come to the August 3-6 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

There’s still time to beat the July 2 price increase and to request your free one-on-one appointments with our faculty. BONUS: Register through July 1 and you’ll receive one more free 15-minute appointment with the faculty member of your choice. That’s a total of five appointments if you register for Thursday through Saturday! But don’t delay. Appointments are booked on a first-come basis.

Possible And Impossible Keys Show Optimism And Positivity
Does your schedule or finances make it seem impossible to come? Trust God to make a way. Nothing is too difficult for Him.



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Hi friends –

How times have changed since I wrote my first manuscript on a typewriter.

Underwood tpewriterWell I’m not as old as this antique, but I did love my IBM Selectric! I could make that little ball spin over 120 WPM. The thought of replacing my beloved Selectric with some kind of new technology intimidated me despite the promise that I could so much more by correcting my mistakes on a screen.Selectric type ball

A screen? I had no idea what they were talking about, although I admit the thought of throwing away my bottle of white-out was appealing. But really . . . it seemed too good to be true. Besides, even in my twenties I found change threatening and questioned my ability to learn something new.

I’m now 71, and I’m still intimidated by technology. Seems I just get comfortable with the software I’m using when, to keep up with the times, I need to upgrade. I seldom find the “user friendly” promise to be true. But thank You, Father, that You are faithful to help me do things I never would have imagined I could figure out how to do. And thank You for Celebration Web Design’s EZ-CMS (Easy Content Management System) that really is easy – even for me!

And so here I am managing not one but THREE websites, designing brochures and flyers in QuarkXPress, and typesetting books. I haven’t yet mastered the mystery of HTML, and I really don’t like the changes Microsoft made in Word 2015. And then there’s Access. I’m forced to use it for my mailing list, but I much prefer Excel.

Hopefully I haven’t lost you by now, for there really is a point I want to make.

Friends, we need to keep on learning!

I’m convinced one of the best places for a writer to learn is at a writer’s conference. And even after 33 years of serving as a conference director, I never cease to be amazed at what Father does each year at the Colorado and Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference.

The bios and editorial needs for the 19 editors and 20 Agents & Other Professionals on faculty at the August 3-6 Philly conference are now online. I’m still working on the page for our 19 authors. New this year I’m adding a thumbprint of  their books – well, one of their books or I’d never get done since many of our editors, agents, and other professionals are also authors with numerous published books. Thank You, Father, for giving us such an outstanding faculty of men and women who are committed to You and to “writing Your answer.”

Whether or not you are planning to come to the August 3-6 conference, you’ll find lots of helpful info and freebies on the conference website as well as my main website, www.writehisanswer.com.

I hope you’ll visit, and I pray you’ll choose to keep learning!

Marty poster for web



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Debbie Hardy for GPGuest Post
Faculty Member
Debbie Hardy

Many people with the urge to write a book have no idea what’s involved. They’ve probably told amusing stories at parties and had someone say they should write them down.

It’s not easy, but it is possible.

  1. Write what you’re passionate about.

Writing and publishing a book can take years, and if you’re not passionate about the subject, you’ll tire of it long before the process is completed.

  1. Join a writers’ group.

These are writers who assist each other to improve their manuscripts and encourage one another to keep writing. Listening to suggestions and editing your manuscript can make it better and easier to read.

  1. Puke your book out.

I know this sounds gross, but puking your book out is exactly what you need to do. When you physically “toss your cookies,” you keep puking until everything is out, and then you clean it up. Same thing with writing. Get it all out from inside you, and then clean it up.

  1. Rewrite and have your manuscript critiqued again.

You want readers to love your work, so give it to critical folks for their reaction before even thinking about publishing. And don’t become defensive when they tell you what they’d like to see changed. These are readers, just like those you hope will buy your book and tell others about it.

  1. Marketing is up to you, not the publisher.

Learn all you can about how to market your book and yourself. Even if all your friends and family members buy a copy, you’ll need to sell more. Keep learning and marketing.

How to Write a Book AND Get It Published contains 45 more steps in the writing and publishing process, many of which you hadn’t thought of! Check it out on Amazon.com.

Colorado Christian Writers Conference
, May 11-14 – Debbie is teaching “Pitching to Agents, Publishers, and TV/Radio Producers” and “Say It with Humor.”


Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference, August 3-6 – Debbie is teaching “Add Humor to Your Writing.”

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Wanted: Fiction Writers for Kids

Guest post by Sheila Seifert
Parenting Editor
Focus on the Family magazine


Have you heard the bad news? The children’s book market is down. Publishers aren’t buying kids’ fiction, and those who do almost don’t pay anything for it. [Insert heavy sighs and depressed teenage groans.]


Of course, I’ve heard these common complaints for decades, yes, 20 years. Those erroneous rumors didn’t stop me from co-authoring seven children’s books, with the newest being released this May: Bible Kidventures: Stories of Danger and Courage. But if you reckon those rumors are real, there are only two routes to take: Give up your dream or carry on with what God has called you to do — write.


All my children’s books sell as fiction, but five in this family are, in fact, creative nonfiction — stories that are factually true, in my case Bible stories, and written using literary techniques. Creative nonfiction, like a misunderstood child, is able to reveal truth about an experience. The best creative nonfiction starts with what really happened — in the Bible, science, history or even your own life. Then literary techniques are applied to it as a much-needed canvas-cover over stark tent poles.


Consider the presentation of David and Goliath in this free download. The way it is set up, not just the story, moves it into the arena of creative nonfiction. The genre itself includes not only personal essays, but also writings about food, travel and individuals. These articles and books range from the blog-like style of Ann Voscamp’s 1000 Gifts to personal reflections, memoirs and chronicles. Yet how the story is presented makes the nonfiction manuscript even more accessible to readers.


There is no limit to what you can write for children using nonfiction topics and fiction techniques. And the market for it continues to grow. Teachers need creative nonfiction in the classroom — in science, math, social studies and English classes. Sunday school teachers need it. Book clubs are looking for it. And parents like books that help their kids learn as they read. Children, teachers and parents make this market a burgeoning base of revenue.


So what makes good creative nonfiction for kids? Good research, the balance between knowing what you can fictionalize and what you can’t, and choosing the right fiction techniques for your story. If you’d like to learn more about this trending category of writing, consider coming to my Wednesday workshop at the 2016 Colorado Christian Writers Conference called “Writing Creative Nonfiction for Kids.” You won’t regret it.


And if you don’t believe me, here’s what Jessica Strawser wrote in an article on the Writers’ Digest Blog: “All nonfiction should be creative nonfiction.” I couldn’t agree more, especially when it’s written for kids.

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