Posts Tagged ‘writing’

Want to improve your writing? #writingtips and #amwriting advice…Review of Excelling at the Craft of Writing.

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

Not attending #ACFW2016? You can do a writing-conference-in-a-book with Excelling at the Craft of Writing. This collection of writing advice essays is filled with 101 mini-workshops to make your writing glow. Each contribution is written by an author from the WordServe Literary agency, giving us suggestions on many facets of writing. As I read each one, I felt like I was attending a conference session on writing craft, complete with takeaways and inspiration. For your writing sessions, grab a big mug of your caffeinated tea of choice, or coffee if you prefer, as we study ways to improve our craft.

Excelling at the Craft of Writing

Excelling at the Craft of Writing

 

Excelling at the Craft of Writing: 101 Ideas to Move Your Prose to the Next LevelExcelling at the Craft of Writing: 101 Ideas to Move Your Prose to the Next Level by Greg Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Many treasures of writing advice fill this book!

Excelling at the Craft of Writing is a book filled with multiple gems of writing advice. This is a conference worth of writer workshops all in one resource. The essays are written by successful authors of the WordServe Literary agency and reflect their wordsmith talents.

Divided into eight sections, the first part is Nonfiction Essentials. Even though I’m a fiction writer, I found useful information in this section. Essays on devotional writing inspired me to develop my skills in this area.

The middle sections cover essential information for fiction writers…characterization, dialogue, plotting, timing, structure, setting the scene, style, language, voice, and process. There are many ideas for making your novel shine…to keep readers turning the pages. I especially liked the excellent pointers for creating strong, reader-involved characters.

The ending chapters give tips which apply to all writers…revising, editing and pitching. These essays suggest many ways to edit your manuscript, with a final part covering query letters, pitching and proposals.

Whether you are a nonfiction author or an author of fiction, you will find great tips for improving your writing so your work moves to the next level. You’ll be encouraged with inspirational thoughts, such as “There may be people out there who need what you have to write.” (Laurie Short) From my needle-crafter and writer’s perspective, my favorite inspirational line from this book is Jan Drexler’s comparison of a quilter to an author: “But the thing quilting and writing have most in common? The finished product is a work of your heart that you share with others.” Exactly!

*I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my review. I’m pleased to offer my honest opinion.

PRAYER

Dear Lord,

We pray for all those attending the American Christian Fiction Writers conference this week. We pray for their safe travels and for their encouragement as they are inspired by what they experience at the conference. We pray for the authors and publisher of this collection of essays, Excelling at the Craft of Writing, for providing the blessings of knowledge and motivation for writers. May You bless all Christian writers and readers as Your message is spread through the written word.

We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Thank you for joining me for this review post about Excelling at the Craft of Writing. If you’re like me, and not attending a writing conference this year, you might consider studying a craft book such as this one. Conferences are amazing experiences, but we can learn to take our writing to the next level by reading advice written by experienced authors.

Maybe a conference will be in our futures for next year! May your writing and/or reading be inspired by God’s treasured blessings!

With warm regards and blessings,

Sherida

 

#TuesdayTea and SPEEDBO!

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

WOW! It’s hard to believe we’re almost at the end of February! A busy start to the year has delayed my posts…..a delightfully busy time, filled with blessings! We had some special time with our grandchildren. My granddaughter helped make PINK Cotton Candy Cupcakes (her favorite color), and we had a lovely afternoon tea, filled with smiles and chatting. Our families are among God’s most treasured blessings!

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea

In writing news, I invite all writers to join the group in SEEKERVILLE to participate in SPEEDBO. During March, writers are encouraged to establish their own goals for the month. There are no rules and no limits. You can get more information here:  SEEKERVILLE

2015 SPEEDBO participant

2015 SPEEDBO participant

So I’m cleaning house, freezing meals, and working on an outline for my book. Then I’ll be ready to WRITE, WRITE, WRITE, in March.

I plan to make progress because of the encouraging fellowship during SPEEDBO. Hope you will join us! Do you have writing or reading plans for March?

TUESDAY TEA: Buildin’ the Dream Conference Review

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

 

Buildin' the Dream Conference-Author Tool Kit

Buildin’ the Dream Conference-Author Tool Kit

Writing conferences are like treasure chests filled with gems of inspiration, education, and fellowship. The Buildin’ the Dream conference held on May 29 and 30, 2014, in Scottsdale, Arizona, was indeed a treasure. The sold-out conference fulfilled its advertised agenda:  “Authors Helping Authors” by “Equipping writers with the tools to build and live their dream.”

MY REVIEW

Inspiration: The Thursday night event started with keynote speaker, Diana Gabaldon. Attendees were impressed with her gracious manner and candid encouragement as she discussed her writing journey. Her wise advice to writers: READ, WRITE, DON’T STOP.

Diana Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon

Education: Friday was filled with workshops in three areas to suit the needs of all attendees–Craft, Publishing, and Business. Scheduling allowed for participants to attend six session. The following are the valuable presentations I attended with a quick summary of what I learned.

Crafting the Dark Moment with Deena Remiel: What is your protagonist’s biggest fear? Show this confrontation and escalate this fear along the arc of your story.

Self-Publishing Pitfalls with Morgan Kearns: You need strength to survive the publishing process, and you need know when to seek professional help.

Adding Humor to a Manuscript with Kris Tualia: Use humor to make your characters believable and to relieve tension.

Covers to Get Attention with Anya Kelleye: Your cover needs a strong focal point which conveys the genre with emotion.

Carve Out Time to Build Your Dream with Camelia Skiba: Learn to use snippets of time effectively.

Sprinting-It’s All About Word Count with Virginia Nelson: Write as fast as you can for 15 minutes (no editing), take a 10 minute stretch/do chores break, then repeat as necessary. As a test exercise, I wrote 300 words in 15 mintes….longhand, without a computer!

Many other workshops were offered. I wish I could have attended ALL!

 

Goodie bag

Goodie bag

Fellowship: It was good to find new-to-me authors and to connect with other writers…people who “get it”….”speak the same language” …. “understand me.”

Other information: We all got goodie bags with notebooks, pens, and promotional items, including a lip balm stick, a thoughtful item considering the location in the sunny desert of Arizona! I love the purple and yellow colors used as the theme colors—bright and cheerful for our successful writing journey! Arizona Dreamin’ is held after the writing conference. It is a romance reader event where attendees have the opportunity to chat with various romance authors. I wasn’t able to stay for the second conference, so regret I didn’t get to meet inspirational author Hallee Bridgeman, one of the featured authors at the reader event. There was a bookstore, a photographer offering professional author headshots, and publishers taking pitches. A yummy box lunch was provided by InD’tale, an online magazine serving self-publishers. www.indtale.com

Beautiful purple and yellow dessert table.

Beautiful purple and yellow dessert table.

 

Highland Blend Tea from Scotland

Highland Blend Tea from Scotland

Today, I’m serving Highland Blend tea from Scotland in honor of Diana Gabaldon’s new release in the Outlander series, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, published on June 10, 2014. Help yourself to the imaginary dessert treats of chocolate brownies and cheesecake bites. (REAL ones were served at the conference, but my picture of the filled dessert table were too fuzzy.) I’d recommend the Buildin’ the Dream Conference scheduled for May 28-29, 2015, in Scottsdale, Arizona, if you live in the area. It is affordable, right-sized, and provides great opportunities to learn from other authors. Information about both events can be found at www.arizonadreaminevent.com. Thanks for joining me for #TuesdayTea!

TUESDAY TEA at SEEKERVILLE’s NEW YEAR’S EVE PARTY!

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

You’re invited to a very special party…..Seekerville’s New Year’s Eve celebration to welcome in the year of 2014!

Join us at the Seekerville New Year's Eve party!

Join us at the Seekerville New Year’s Eve party!

 

To celebrate critique partnerships (so valuable to writers), my critique partner, Donna Phillips, and I are hosting an hour at the Seekerville New Year’s Eve party. The two of us will be welcoming you at 7 pm EST (6 pm CST, 5 pm MST, 4 pm PST), but please stop by anytime during the day or night. Everyone in Seekerville will be partying around the clock at www.seekerville.blogspot.com, with giveaways and recipes for treats included each hour! We’re talking about writing and “My One Word” selections for 2014. My word for 2013 was LIGHT and I’ll be revealing my word for 2014 at the Seekerville party.

The giveaway for the hour Donna and I are sponsoring will be a critique from http://www.mycritiquepartner.blogspot.com/ or a bag of English Breakfast tea from The New Mexico Tea Company.

We so hope you will be able to join us for all the fun! Relax with a cup of tea and a few snacks with us!

To start 2014 off with a BANG, here’s a picture of what I’m bringing, yummy Fire-Crackers (spicy cheese crackers) to start the year off with a bit of New Mexico spice!

New Year's Eve FIRE-Crackers

New Year’s Eve FIRE-Crackers

If you’d like to have something other than tea tonight, you might try a Lime Sparkler……..mix 2 ounces fresh lime juice with 2 ounces Agave Nectar in a glass. Add sparkling water and ice to taste. Fizzy and just right with the Fire-Crackers!

Wishing you a sparkling 2014 filled with treasures of the heart!

TUESDAY TEA-The Emerald City Writers’ Conference & Cherry Adair’s tea

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

In October, I attended my first romance writers’ conference, the EMERALD CITY WRITERS’ CONFERENCE, sponsored by the Greater Seattle Romance Writers of America chapter. It was FABULOUS! The experience far exceeded my expectations. I was blessed by my daughter-in-law, author Kira Brady, who accompanied me and was the helpful voice of conference experience.

ECWC with DIL Kira Brady

ECWC with DIL Kira Brady.

 

We picked up our registration packets and tote bags FILLED with goodies–books, pens, notebooks, promotional items and motivational buttons, plus some candy. 🙂

Bag of goodies from ECWC.

Bag of goodies from ECWC.

Now, where to begin? Since this is TUESDAY TEA, I’ll start with the Cherry Adair Tea and First Timers Welcome Reception. Cherry Adair, an author from the sponsoring chapter, gives generous support to this conference and offers encouragement to writers. Her tea is a “meet and greet” time at the conference where tea sandwiches and scones were served amid lively conversation and charming autumn decorations–and there was chocolate. 🙂

Cherry Adair Tea at the ECWC.

Cherry Adair Tea at the ECWC.

Major take-away thoughts from the conference:

  • Self-Publishing is a way to go
  • Develop a series
  • Keep writing, never give up
  • Write a great book, then keep writing
  • Chocolate is a writer’s friend 🙂

It was such fun to be with a welcoming group of writers who understand the language of HEA, WIP and GMC. The keynote speakers were inspiring. The food served was delicious. The workshops presentations were informative, with chocolate available to snack on. 🙂

Here are highlights from some of the presentations:

Learn to Rewrite: Finishing the manuscript is just the beginning with Anna DeStefano–Print out your completed manuscript. Use Post-it notes to flag each character’s POV passages in a different color. Then read that character’s story from beginning to end. You should see the character evolve in each scene.

Craft of the Short Story with Anthea Lawson–The market for short stories is on the rise, ranging from flash fiction of 300 to 1000 words to anthologies ranging from 5K to 7K. Short fiction needs to give an emotional payoff to the reader.

Secondary characters with Pam Binder–Secondary characters should only be in the story if they have a purpose. This purpose can be to help the main character recognize and overcome flaws by mirroring these flaws or being the complete opposite. Look at the motivation of secondary characters–why are they in the hero or heroine’s life?

Writing Active Setting with Mary Buckham–Details of setting must matter to the story to be included in your writing. Setting can be used for characterization, to reveal emotion, foreshadow conflict, tell backstory, anchor the reader or act as a character. The primary goal for setting is to capture the reader’s attention.

Navigating the Wild West of Publishing with Marie Force and Shelli Stevens–The publishing world is changing and now may be a good time to enter into self-publishing. Timing is extremely important–along with some luck. It is suggested to have many projects ready to publish in quick succession to stay engaged with the reader.

Building a Successful Series with Robin Carr–Series are in the spotlight at this time. A series needs a running theme, then begin with a place which challenges the characters, giving plenty of sensory details. Be sure there is a reader payoff in each book and a hook to entice the reader into the next book. It is best to be authentic to your own personality when writing.

Christopher Keeslar of Boroughs Publishing Group offered wise advice: Spend time outside of your writing cave, living a life full of everyday activities because your writing will be enriched by all your experiences.

Next time, I’ll write about the Book Fair featuring many authors signing books (and giving away chocolate) and the amazing raffle baskets (many of which contained chocolate). (I won one, and, yes, it had chocolate!) 😀

THANK YOU to all the volunteers! Their hard work made the Emerald City Writers’ Conference simply AWESOME!

Thank you, Emerald City Writers' Conference!

Thank you, Emerald City Writers’ Conference!

 

TUESDAY TEA – My Writing Travel Bag

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

For tea today, we’re on the road! I’m serving Bigelow’s Constant Comment tea in a leak-proof travel mug along with a Kind almond walnut macadamia bar.

What's inside my writing travel bag.....

What’s inside my writing travel bag…..

Writing time is difficult to find. I’m learning I need to use little bits of time whenever I can grab them. For long stints, I pack my laptop, but for camping or quick trips around town, I’m going low-tech. My Writing Travel Bag has become very important to take with me so I can be productive. What do I keep in my bag?

  • notebook with lined pages for writing and an interior pocket for a print-out of my WIP for editing
  • craft book I’m currently reading  ( Rivet Your Readers With Deep Point Of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson)
  • portable plotting board with lots of sticky notes (I got mine from Pikes Peak Romance Writers a few years ago.)
  • extra pens
  • turquoise notebook which goes with me always to keep ideas about current and future writing projects
  • packet of jelly beans for a writing reward

The bag from Little Miss Matched  (www.littlemissmatched.com) is just the right size with handles which fit nicely over my shoulder for carrying.

Pam Hillman posted about how to organize conference tote bags in Seekerville yesterday. www.seekerville.net  My Writing Travel Bag seemed appropriate for today.

I’m ready to grab my bag as I head out the door to another writing adventure–any time, any place.

What do you carry in your writing travel bag? Please leave a comment with your ideas! Thanks for having tea with me on the road!

TUESDAY TEA at Green Mountain Dude Ranch

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

This week, I’m attending a writing retreat at Green Mountain Dude Ranch with about sixty other writers from Seekerville. Beautiful scenery here at the Idaho ranch, where Jake has made us all feel welcome. We are free to saddle up a horse for a trail ride, pull on our hiking boot for a bit of adventure, or find a place on the porch to sit and write. We gather around the campfire to share goals or experiences at the end of the day. Sunday we attended cowboy church, listening to great old hymns. This morning, I took a hike down by the creek and gathered some leaves of wild mint, so today I’m serving fresh mint tea. (I just might have seen grizzly tracks in the mud by the stream. I’ll have to ask the cowboys if there are grizzly bears around these parts.) The cooks here rustle up some delicious grub, so I’ll let you help yourself to anything on the spread. (The strawberry rhubarb pie is a good choice, as is anything with peaches.) The Grammar Queen is here, so I’m hoping for an invitation to her suite for an afternoon tea. Take a moment to enjoy the mountain scenery and stay awhile!

 

Mug of mint tea 1

 

And let me tell you, a virtual retreat with this group of writers is awesome! The more the merrier! Let me know in the comments where you would go on a virtual writing retreat! Thanks for stopping by for mint tea!

 

For information about the retreat, visit Seekerville at www.Seekerville.net.

Seekerville-Speedbo …….. March 1 – 31, 2013

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

SpeedboParticipant

 

For the month of March, I will be participating in Speedbo. This is a writing challenge offered by the writers at Seekerville. You select your goal, then WRITE. As published writers, they help unpublished writers sail off UNPUBLISHED ISLAND with valuable advice and fantastic encouragement. A FUN community! www.seekerville.net

LIGHT is “My One Word” for 2013…….

Thursday, January 31st, 2013
Sunrise

Sunrise

 

LIGHT is “My One Word” for 2013

 

I subscribe to Seekerville (www.seekerville.net), a blog that helps aspiring writers sail from “Unpublished Island” to the mainland of successful publication.  Their blog is always timely and of great encouragement.  They had a virtual party on New Year’s Eve, featuring the book My One Word, by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen.  (www.myoneword.com)  They challenge Christians to “Choose just one word that represents what you most hope God will do in you, and focus on it for an entire year.”

 

Their message called to me.  After some consideration, I have chosen LIGHT as my word for 2013.  The main reason, or the first one that came to mind as I decided on this word, is that I want to glow in the LIGHT of God’s love for He is the LIGHT of the world.  This is a good choice for many reasons which I will discuss in future blogs.

 

May you walk in the LIGHT of our Lord!

 

 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

National Novel Writing Month

Monday, November 5th, 2012

Participant 120x240Since my November calendar is filled this year, I didn’t think I would sign up this year for National Novel Writing Month.  It seems I don’t have as much on my “To Do” list in the summers, so I have enjoyed Camp Nano the last two years.  S’mores, hiking and campfires, what’s not to like?  My Camp Nano project from 2011 became a short story which won a contest and was published, so I do believe good things can happen from concentrated writing time.   But, November?  Thanksgiving, travel, Christmas shopping, putting the garden to sleep…..However, the call of “word count” and the thoughts of other writers with cramped fingers hovering over their keyboards…well, I just have to be a part of this.  We are writers, and by November 30, my novel and many others will be closer to the finish line.  Blessings to all those writing this month!  Together we succeed!