Monday, November 28, 2011

Mary Kole on Revision

As I began  the revision process for my second middle-grade novel, I went hunting for advice on select agents' and editors' blogs. Mary Kole, associate agent with Andrea Brown Literary. Kole writes really good stuff on her blog site, including "Some Thoughts on Revision." You're not revising right now? You will, so I advise you to file this one away.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Blessed Thanksgiving to You!

I hope your day is full of the blessings of faith, family, festivities, fabulous fare, and fun. Know that you, gentle readers, are among the many things for which I thank the Lord. God bless you as you seek to worship Him with the gifts He has granted you. May your travel be safe, also.

Write on!
Because of Christ,

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Joy of Revision

The first draft is done. It's rough. It's supposed to be. It sits at sixty-three thousand words and 264 pages. Slogging through all those blank sheets of paper was the hard part.

I sit here rubbing my hands together at the prospect of the next step: revision. The framework is there. Now for the nuances, the character idiosyncrasies, the deepening of POV, the tears, the giggles, the snorts--the layers that breathe life into the story. Revision!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A "Must Read" by Andy Scheer

Andy Scheer is an agent with the Hartline Agency, and he was a presenter/consultant at the Indianapolis Christian Writers Conference. His blog entry "Eliminate Overused Words," on Hartline's "From the Heart" site, is essential reading for all serious writers, fiction or non-fiction. It's his response to a hint given at the conference by keynoter Angela Hunt. Do read it!

Write on!
Because of Christ,

Postscript: BTW, "From the Heart" is one of my tip-top favorite blog sites. I visit it regularly. You might want to bookmark it.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Looking at the Stats

Right now, someone in India is reading this blog. That just blows my mind. In fact, when I click on the "Stats" button from my Blogger dashboard and hit "Audience," I see that readers live in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Georgia (the country, not the state, though I hope folks from our great southern state visit, too), Armenia, Azerbaijan, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Latvia, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, China, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Russia, the Philippians, and New Zealand. The internet, especially the social networking sites, makes the world seem smaller. I'll not get to visit most of those nations, but I can connect at some level through Blogger, Twitter, or Facebook--the three I use most commonly.

How should one react to that information? As a writer, it sets me to wondering about you, dear reader. What is your life like? What are your sorrows? Your joys? What drew you to this blog? Are you drinking tea as you read? Are you a writer, too? Are you an avid reader? What do you like to read? How difficult is it for you to get to a computer and browse online? For some, it's quite a challenge, as they may have to pay for the privilege. Often the connections are so poor that it's difficult to stay online. Having a sense of audience also imbues this writer with a responsibility to write well on interesting topics and to do so regularly. (I need to improve on that score.)

I do not take lightly the fact that you read this blog. This month we in the U.S. celebrate Thanksgiving, a day when we remember our forefathers who set aside a time to thank God for helping them to survive the hardships of a new land, for providing for them. It's a season that reminds us to be ever thankful for His provision. I thank Him for you, gentle reader, and hope that you'll stop by often.

I would love to hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment or send a message. By clicking to "Follow" this blog, you can receive notice of new posts.

If you are a writer, then . . .

Write on!
Because of Christ,

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Best Little Conference You Never Heard Of

Ever heard of the Indianapolis Christian Writers Conference? I hadn't until a couple years ago when I stumbled on its website. God made it possible for me to be there this weekend, and I highly recommend it.

One hundred seventy-four writers from seventeen states and Canada gathered at the Wesleyan Church World Headquarters on the north side of Indy to hone their craft, fellowship and worship with other writers, and meet in one-on-one consultations with a cadre of professionals--literary agents, editors, and established writers.

Best-selling author Angela Hunt (above), whose books have won the coveted Christy award, along with several other honors, was the keynote speaker. Her experience in writing everything from children's picture books to non-fiction and adult novels equipped her to encourage and inspire writers, no matter where they were on their journey.

She equated writing to constructing a building. Both the builder and the writer need the correct tools, and both need to work hard. With the "write" tools, one can build "words, sentences, even books."

I loved Hunt's style. She was natural, intimate, and professional all at the same time. She interacted easily with her audience and kept us smiling--sometimes giggling--while conveying serious points. And she wasn't afraid to chase a rabbit or two, if they happened to cross her path.

I wish I could have attended all the sessions, but that just isn't possible. I was twice blessed to hear Les Strobbe (left), whose credentials would fill this blog space. Saturday's topic was "Are Agents Really Necessary?" Since he is one, he was qualified to address the subject. I expected him to say, "Absolutely!" He did, going into detail about the value and responsibilities of an agent. He also discussed how one should go about seeking an agent, not necessarily accepting the first one to show interest in one's work.

On Saturday Strobbe's topic was "Expanding Your Ministry through Writing." He urged attendees to examine their own areas of expertise and experience. How might we use our experience to minister to the Body of Christ or to reach others for Him? It was a thought-provoking session.

James Watkins (right), award-winning author of sixteen books and over 2,000 articles--and a great stand-up comedian, I might add--did a serious workshop on how to be humorous in our writing. First, he explained the value of humor as an attention getter and a teaching tool, and then he listed and defined the various types of humor. We laughed and learned.

Shannon Marchese (left), senior editor of fiction for WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group (a division of Random House), warned writers about "Speed Bumps in Fiction Writing." She gave us a handout that I intend to keep close by to review from time to time. Most of the ideas listed were familiar to me, but then I've studied my craft for a long time. We never finish learning to write well.

She warned against such things as:

Cheesy foreshadowing, when writers use cutesy devices which give the plot away (such as a boat named "incommunicado" when the problem in the marriage is poor communication);

Deus ex machina, endings that smack of the hand of God reaching down to suddenly right everything or endings that have a new unknown character suddenly appear as the cause of all the woes;

Flat characters--bad characters being over-the-top bad and good characters being too good, because both types are equally unbelievable and unlikeable;

Purple prose or overwriting;

Poor research, even in contemporary novels. "Know your cow-birthing scenes."

I entered the room for Andy Scheer's session "Is Your Manuscript Ready To Edit" feeling a bit sad, knowing it was the last session of the conference for this year. Scheer's upbeat style soon lightened my mood. As was the case with most of the presenters I heard, the sixty minutes allowed each session was not nearly enough to cover all he or she intended. Scheer could have used twice that.

He broke down the various aspects of our writing and explained how we could self-evaluate manuscripts, addressing issues related to both fiction and non-fiction. I liked what he said about point of view, suggesting that writers consider how a scene would change if related from a different character's POV.

 Todd Burpo, minister and author of the best-selling book Heaven Is for Real, also spoke. From the impassioned way he addressed his audience, it was clear he believed the account he gave.

Now you know about the Indianapolis Christian Writers Conference. The 11th annual conference is slated for the first weekend in November 2012. Mark your calendars to attend. Will I see you there?

Would you be so kind as to click to "Follow" this page? That means a lot to writers. Thanks much!

Write on!