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Archive for the ‘Craft of writing’ Category

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!

2017-co-banner-with-date

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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

Blogging

     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.

chart-grow-writing-ministry2

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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questions

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
CCWC & GPCWC
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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sheila_seifert

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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Allen Arnold Nov 2013Donna Brennan
Interviews
Allen Arnold

God’s primary desire isn’t that we write about Him. Or even for Him. It is that we write with Him.


As founder and former Publisher of Thomas Nelson Fiction, Allen Arnold was a strong advocate not just for story, but for the storyteller. He has worked with hundreds of authors and published more than 500 novels in his 20 years in Christian publishing.

Allen’s personal ministry is now to nurture the heart and spirituality of the storyteller. More recently, as Director of Content and Resources at Ransomed Heart Ministry, he has been able to expand his reach to help many others—besides just authors—get closer to God and live the story of their life with an awakened heart.

But he still has a special place in his own heart for the storyteller. That’s why he’s such a popular presenter at Christian writing conferences, and part of the reason he received the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

Allen will be presenting a five-part continuing session at the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference on “The Heart of the Storyteller” as well as a keynote Friday evening, July 31, “Awakening the Writer’s Heart.” I caught up with him to ask him some questions about this session and about his passion for nurturing the hearts of others.

Question: Isn’t it easy to lose track of God in the hustle and bustle of trying to do everything we are told we need to do? Is your session going to help us understand how to keep from getting burnout and still find time to spend with God?

An author recently told me, “It’s easy to sometimes forget why I’m writing in the first place.” And that is so true. We lose ourselves in the blur of deadlines, social media, and daily word counts. We turn to productivity while God longs for our presence. We put our heads down and focus on getting things done for God…instead of realizing we are on a creative playground with God. We ask God to bless our time writing instead of asking what His plans are for our day. We get busy doing rather than being. And when we look up, we find ourselves in a desert. In my sessions, I’ll identify the main “creative deserts” and offer tangible ways to avoid or escape them.

Question: Do you think it’s the enemy that distracts us so much with the busyness of writing and marketing? Or do you think we do it to ourselves?

The answer is both. We have an enemy of the story we are writing AND the story we are living. His goal is not distraction as much as destruction. I believe the enemy has a unique hatred for creative…and will spend time taking readers into why this is and how to overcome his very specific plans to destroy our creativity and our calling. The second element is our own motives. It is easy to make our stories and our success an idol. If that sounds a bit strong, realize this. Whatever we turn to for life is what we worship. So if your validation hinges on success as a writer…you may be more focused on your calling than the One who called you into it. During my sessions, I’ll share how to make your writing an offering – and how to resist the enemy. It’s a two-fold approach.

Question: The nature of writing usually makes it a solitary—and isolating—task. Why can this be dangerous, and what can we do to avoid any pitfalls?

We write in isolation – but we never have to write alone. Because our gifting came with an invitation from God. Not just to create. But to create together. God gave you this talent so you can spend it with Him…as a way to grow closer together. But something happens along the way. The gift overshadows the giver – and aloneness replaces fellowship. Remember this – God’s primary desire isn’t that we write about Him. Or even for Him. It is that we write with Him. When writers discover this truth and learn how to live it, they will never write alone again. That is the whole focus of being in Creative Fellowship with God.

Question: In the description of your continuing session, it talks about discovering “how to live free, write free.” What exactly does that mean?

This phrase is a short-hand way of reminding writers that Jesus came to set us free…and when we are living in His freedom, we can then create in total freedom. Imagine what better stories we can tell when we are writing from an awakened heart and walking with Him through the entire creative process. It is  transformational, but it starts with our lives before it can transform our writing.

Question: The novel I’m working on is fiction, but my life is real. How can getting in touch with my own story—my own life—improve the story that I want to write?

Here is the bottom line – you can’t write a better story than you are living. So to write really powerful stories, you first have to live a really powerful life. Knowing your personal story (it didn’t just begin last week or even last year) allows you to tell better stories. There’s got to be time built into your life for you to be aware of what’s really going on in your heart. Artists are gifted at “seeing the unseen” and then creating. Yet they often overlook their own spiritual health. Writers can focus more on imagined stories than the rhythms of their own life story. We’ll dive into this more – but it’s impossible to offer words with life when your own life is stressed out, dried up, and empty. The discovery is how to live and create from an awakened heart.

Question: Is it more than just a coincidence that you have such a passion for the writer’s heart and the ministry that you’ve been drawn to deals with restoring and nourishing the hearts of God’s people?

Great question! There are no coincidences for those who walk with God. He has invited me into a ministry in Colorado (Ransomed Heart) where the focus is healing broken hearts and setting people free. If that phrase sounds familiar, it is from a passage in Isaiah 61 that Jesus quoted to start His ministry. Two years ago, God told me that my new ministry was going after the hearts of writers. I wish I had done that while I was in publishing for 20 years. I did my best as a publisher to help authors write the best stories and then get them to the broadest possible audience. But I didn’t know how to go after their hearts…probably because I didn’t even know fully how to pursue my own heart at that time. So while being a part of the Ransomed Heart ministry is my full-time role (and I love it!), I also speak and meet with hundreds of writers a year to help them write with God from an awakened heart. It brings me incredible joy to help writers find a way out of the creative desert and into the wildness of creating with God.

Question: What are some of the things you do to revitalize your own heart? How do you get in touch with who God created you to be?

If I don’t spend regular, intimate time with God – I quickly end up in a dry and dusty place. For too long, I thought productivity was the secret to my happiness – the more I got done, the happier I was. But I’ve discovered that God always longs for our presence before our productivity. So what revitalizes my heart is savoring God by just being with Him, reading (for pleasure), playing (with my kids), dreaming big with my wife, and time at the gym. Oh, and salsa. I love salsa.  ;  ).  

Allen, to be quite honest, I didn’t think I was “in need” of your session—I thought I was in touch with my heart and that I had most things pretty much in balance. But after reading a few things short things you’ve written and listening to two online interviews you gave, I realize how far I am from what you are talking about. Your passion for the writer’s spirituality made me realize how much my writing has been becoming a business, and not a calling. I wonder how many other writers, like me, don’t realize how much they need your message. I’m including a link to a PDF of the Keynote you gave at the Christy Awards in 2012.http://www.christyawards.com/ca_new/images/stories/client_pdf/CAPTURED_BY_STORYed.pdf

I think it will inspire a lot of other writers to remember why they are writing, and to actively partner with the One who called them to write.
___________________

Thank you, Donna and Allen, for this thought-provoking interview. Allen welcomes your comments on this blog.

Allen’s Friday evening, July 31, keynote is open free of charge to the community. To register for the conference which includes your choice of 9 workshops from 58 offered and 1 continuing session from 8 offered including Allen’s “Heart of the Storyteller” go to http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/register. The price increases July 16.

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Have you ever said, “If only someone would sit beside me and help me figure this out”?

I have! All too often I am overwhelmed by the learning curve. I’d love to be able to sit in all of the clinics at the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference, but I’m too busy directing the conference. The clinics aren’t recorded so I can’t listen to them after the conference. Even if they were available on CD, it wouldn’t be the same as being there and getting help with my projects and questions. And I do need help!

*~*~*~*

Karen Whiting from FB 3Develop a Unique Marketing Plan for Your Book with Karen Whiting
I know I’ve not done a good job marketing my books. That’s sad. My Turn to Care – Encouragement for Caregivers of Aging Parents is a needed devotional book. For Better for Worse – Devotional Thoughts for Married Couples is also needed but it’s out of print the same as two other books I worked so hard to publish. I need to get them back in print, but what I really need first is time with Karen Whiting to develop marketing plans that will work. Vicki Chandler, a clinic participant, says, “In three days, Karen helped me create a detailed marketing plan. She’s the Michelangelo of marketing.” You can read more about Vicki’s experience in Karen’s clinic at http://bit.ly/1K0EL7z.


Get Them Coming to Your  Blog/WebsiteMegan Breedlove cr
with Megan Breedlove
I spend a lot of time on blog posts and my three websites but not near enough time on learning the secrets of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and choosing (and using) effective keywords. I need the help Megan is going to provide. See Megan’s post, “How Do I Get to Be #1 on Google?” at http://bit.ly/1KXn9fR.


Jeanette WindleHook that Editor Book Proposal Clinic
with Jeanette Windle
Writing a book proposal is not fun or easy! Although I have written proposals that have resulted in contracts, I know Jeanette’s input would strengthen my proposals. And unlike the other clinics, I’d only need to miss three workshops to attend the nonfiction or fiction clinic. Jeanette is an award-winning novelist, missions journalist, editor, and collaborative writer. She represents Kregel Publications.


Fiction Intensive
with Nancy RueNancy Rue 2014
Someday I’m going to write a novel. When I do, there is nobody’s help I would value more than Nancy’s. I’ve never forgotten the day long clinic with Nancy that I sat in on over ten years ago. Wow! Christy Distler, one of last year’s participants, says it better than I can: “Nancy has a wonderful way of connecting with each writer she works with, her feedback is honest and yet kind, and her sense of humor makes the classes not only enlightening but also a fun fellowship with other writers.”

*~*~*~*

For more information about GPCWC’s cliics and the needed application go to http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/clinics. And do it now. The deadline for applying is July 15. And if you’ve not yet registered for the conference, I encourage you to do so before the late fee (I call it “the procrastinator’s fee”) kicks in July 16.

Banner 2015 GPCWC

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Allen Arnold Nov 2013Donna Brennan
Interviews
GPCWC Faculty Member
Allen Arnold

As founder and former Publisher of Thomas Nelson Fiction, Allen Arnold was a strong advocate not just for story, but for the storyteller. He has worked with hundreds of authors and published more than 500 novels in his 20 years in Christian publishing.

Allen’s personal ministry is now to nurture the heart and spirituality of the storyteller. More recently, as Director of Content and Resources at Ransomed Heart Ministry, he has been able to expand his reach to help many others—besides just authors—get closer to God and live the story of their life with an awakened heart.

But he still has a special place in his own heart for the storyteller. That’s why he’s such a popular presenter at Christian writing conferences, and part of the reason he received the ACFW Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.

Allen will be presenting a five-part continuing session on “The Heart of the Storyteller” at the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference. I caught up with him to ask him some questions about this session and about his passion for nurturing the hearts of others.

Question: If I sell my stories and articles, then I’m a writer, or an author. That’s my identity; that’s who I am. Or am I missing something?

Here’s what is missing in that assumption: being called to write is not dependent on whether your article or story sells (“IF my story sells, THEN I am a writer”). God calls people in ways that often never correlates to monetary validation. That said, even when a person is called to be a writer and even if they sell millions of stories, that is never their identity. Your identity goes far deeper than being a writer. At your core, you are a son or daughter of the Father. He knows you by name. For who you are…not what you do. Some children of God are called to create. But calling isn’t your core identity – which is quite freeing because no matter what happens within your calling, it can’t touch your identity.

Question: I think most Christian writers believe they are called by God to write their stories. So, after we spend the necessary time learning the craft, all we need to do is start writing, correct? After all, if God wants us to produce, we should be busy producing. Isn’t that how we obey our calling?

The thought that writers should just get “busy producing” is prevalent…and toxic. And it is because it puts our focus on “doing” rather than “being.” And it can cause us to miss the bigger issue of why God invited us to create in the first place. Is it important for authors to improve their craft – yes. But more than that – or perhaps I should say before that – we are called into Creative Fellowship with God. What the world needs most is the warmth from the glow off the face of those who spend time with God. It’s the difference of a storyteller who sits around a small campfire telling stories…and a storyteller whose face is glowing so bright she doesn’t need a campfire to warm the souls of those listening.

Understanding why God invited you to create is the most foundational aspect of your calling. Start there and dive deep into all new waters…then move on to enhance your craft. But by all means start with why you were called and what that means. Because that changes everything.

Question: So I need to work with God as I write my novel and tell my story. But what about after the story is written? Then I have to go to conferences and pitch my manuscript; and get a blog and try to build a following; and I’ll need an author page on Facebook; and I should start tweeting on a regular basis; and what about Pinterest and Instagram… That all sounds so exhausting. Is there a better way to get my book in the hands of readers and still find time to work on my next story?

Right – it doesn’t just sound exhausting. It is exhausting. What I’ll say here is counter to much advice within the industry. But I think sometimes those in an industry can repeat an answer so many times that it starts to sound like absolute truth when it is just opinion. Let me offer another opinion based on working with hundreds of authors during 20 years in publishing as well as my experience now in a ministry that focuses on the heart.

I understand that publishing houses have less staff than they did years ago – so the more an author can do to promote their book, the better. And the larger following they have on-line, the higher the odds of a successful launch. That is horizontal (human) wisdom – but large on-line followings actually don’t guarantee a book’s success. And those called to write are not usually equally gifted at marketing. So rather than taking half your writing time to strive after social media – what if you spent 95% of your time doing what you were called to do, which is to create and write?

Sure it’s important to promote your book. Find others who are gifted at marketing and find a way for them to spearhead it – whether you pay them or trade services. Absolutely do the interviews and participate in spreading the word about why you wrote your book. But to assume your project will only succeed if you succeed at social media is not only exhausting…but basically godless because the assumption is it is all up to you to make it happen. In the great stories of the Bible – victory was never all on the shoulders of the person following God. If God has given you this message, then He will not be sidetracked by you not tweeting enough or not building your platform.

This topic is something that we’ll discuss more in my session. And please don’t take my comments as minimizing the promotional aspect of publishing. My degree is in marketing and I spent much of my career at major advertising agencies and overseeing author branding. I believe in the power of great promotions – I just don’t believe the author should feel they must become marketing experts or spend hours a day on social media to achieve success in the calling God has given them. I want these words to alleviate stress and allow authors to breathe deep so they can focus more on their calling.

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Note from Marlene – Thank you, Allen and Donna. I’ll post the rest of this interview tomorrow. For now I think Father would have us reflect deeply on what has already been shared.

And a reminder – The registration fee for the July 29 – August 1 Greater Philly Christian Writers Conference increases July 16. You can register securely online by clicking here.

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