I’m delighted to announce that Inspire Christian Writers is expanding to Sonoma County with a brand new group in Santa Rosa!
If you’re looking for a Christian writers group to provide encouragement, prayer support, feedback and fellowship, join us on Saturday, May 11, for an informational meeting with Christy Hoss, our newest group leader. Jennifer Hamilton and I will both be on hand to answer your questions and get the new group off to a great start.
Meet with us at 10 am at Starbucks, 860 Hopper Ave in Santa Rosa.
For more information about this group, contact Christy at Christy.Hoss@gmail.com
If you have questions about joining Inspire Christian Writers, contact JenniferHamilton@InspireWriters.com
Q4U: How has participating in a critique group helped you as a writer?
Every author needs a platform, a way to connect with current and potential readers–our audience.
Whether we publish through traditional channels or self-publish, it’s vital to create a way to connect with our intended audience. Otherwise, our messages or stories will not be read. And really, the point of writing books is that they would minister to others in some way.
Unread books provide no ministry. Ministry only happens when your books are read!
So, how do we get our books read? How do we connect with our intended readers?
We’ll begin probing those questions this Thursday as we kick of our “Build Your Author Platform” series of classes.
If you’re local, join us at First Covenant Church, 10933 Progress Court, Rancho Cordova (rm. 203) from 9am-noon to begin learning how to build your author platform.
Bring a copy of Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.
We’ll glean much of our content from Platform, but we’ll also bring in other experts in various aspects of platform-building to help us develop skills to design a platform that works with our unique gifts and personalities.
This series of classes will meet once a month on the third Thursday. It’s free for all Inspire Christian Writers Members!
What have you already done to build your author platform? What intimidates you about building one? What excites you?
For three days only, you can save $50 when you sign up to attend the 2013 Christian Writers Seminar.
Sign up between Friday, February 15th, and Sunday, February 17th. When you mention this Inspire blog post, registration is only $79.00. That’s a $50.00 savings off the price of registration at the door!
Contact Jon Drury at email@example.com to register for this special price, no later than 5pm on Sunday, February 17th.
If you’ve already registered for the conference, just mention this post to Jon and you’ll receive a $20.00 refund.
Sign up today and join us for a fabulous time of learning, fellowship, prayer, and encouragement at the 2013 Christian Writers Seminar.
“The Redwood Chapel Christian Writers Seminar is one of the first places where I felt I belonged. I found encouragement, inspiration, and a sense of community, along with top-notch writing instruction at a very affordable price.” Susy Flory, New York Times bestselling author of Thunder Dog.
“I never expected God to use a local writer’s seminar to give me courage to test my wings and fly into the next season of my writing career. The critiques and workshops equipped me to sharpen my writing and taught me more about the publishing industry.” Xochi Dixon, Writer, speaker and Bible study teacher.
Will you be joining us for the Christian Writers Seminar? What do you hope to learn? If you’ve attended in the past, share what you got out of it.
I watched helplessly as one of the worst storms of all time slammed into the eastern United States. I’m sure you did too.
Hurricane Sandy destroyed thousands of homes and businesses and claimed over a hundred lives in the US.
If you would like to help those who are suffering in the wake of this disaster, I have great news for you. Author Susan Meissner has created a way for novelists to help.
Here’s how you can help the victims of Sandy and also get a little first aid for your novel!
WHAT: Bid on a 50-page critique of your novel by a published novelist. The highest bidder will send their amount to Samaritans Purse toward relief efforts for the victims of Superstorm Sandy. Authors are listed at end of this post.
WHEN: Begins Friday, November 9, ends Friday midnight EST November 16.
HOW: Head to the blog of the author you’d like to have critique your 50 pages. Find their Write Now Relief blog post and post your bid in the comments section of that post. Monitor it closely so that you can re-bid!
If you are the high bidder when the campaign ends, make your donation and email a copy of your receipt to the author with your 50 pages. It’s that easy.
How much is a 50-page critique worth?
Most authors and editors can easily charge $35 an hour and a fifty-page critique is well over three hours of labor. But this labor of love is for victims who have lost everything. Their need is huge! One blogger last week had a top donation bid of $1,000 for a 50-page critique!
What will the critique entail?
The author you choose will read your fifty pages with an eye to giving you insights and feedback on all aspects of your story excerpt, including plot, character, story arc, mechanics, pacing, and reader appeal.
What is Samaritan’s Purse?
Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Here is a video from Samaritan’s Purse on their efforts to help Sandy’s victims.
How do I donate to Samaritan’s Purse?
You can head to the Samaritan’s Purse webpage on Hurricane Sandy http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/articles/hurricane_sandy/
and click on the GIVE link imbedded on the page. Whether you are the highest bidder or not, do consider donating to this effort!
How do I start?
Pick an author below, click on their link and head to their blog to make your opening bid!
Susan Meissner Women’s fiction, historical, contemporary http://susanlmeissner.com/write-now-relief/
Ginny Yttrup Women’s Fiction, Contemporary http://ginnyyttrup.com/words-for-life
Hannah Alexander Contemporary romantic suspense, Christian romance, both contemporary and historical http://girlswriteout.blogspot.com
Nicole O’Dell YA http://nicoleodell.com/home-2/o_blog
Rachel Hauck All genres http://rachelhayeshauck.blogspot.com
Jill Williamson Middle grade, and YA or adult for spec fiction (fantasy, science fiction, etc. http://www.jillwilliamson.com/jill-williamsons-blog/
Gayle Roper Romantic suspense, suspense, mystery and romance. Hosted by Nancy Mehl www.nancymehl.blogspot.com
Miralee Ferrell Historical romance, women’s contemporary fiction, romantic suspense www.miraleeferrell.com
Donita K. Paul YA, Fantasy, romance http://dragonbloggin.blogspot.com
Ruth Axtell Historical Romance http://ruthaxtell.blogspot.com
Kathy Fuller Amish, contemporary, historical, screenplays www.amishhearts.com
Missy Tippens Contemporary category romance, anyone targeting Love Inspired. http://lifewithmissy.blogspot.com/
Do you have any comments about this writerly effort to raise relief funds for Sandy victims? If so, leave them below. Otherwise, let the bidding begin!
Writing As Ministry—learn how to use words to cultivate prayer.
If you had words that could make a difference in the life of a cancer sufferer, would you write them down?
If a cancer sufferer had words that could make a difference in your life, would you listen?
If you answered yes to either question, join us October 20 to be inspired by Ethel Herr, well-known author, speaker and cancer survivor, as she reflects on how God heals through suffering, no matter its source or its outcome.
Ethel and her team will encourage you to be part of God’s healing in the life of someone you love facing life-threatening illness. Learn how to use words to build up a praying community around the one who is sick.
Marcia Brim will speak on the ministry of PrayerBook40, building communities that unite friends and family across geographical bounds, as they lift up the sick, and those who love them, to the Father.
As the body of Christ, we can stimulate one another to love and good deeds, learn from one another while life is being threatened, and discover the benevolence and sufficiency of the God who gives life, sustains it and brings deep healing through sickness and suffering.
You’ll leave the seminar equipped to make a difference in the life of a sufferer and renewed in your confidence that God redeems suffering for the good of his people.
Join Inspire Christian Writers:
Saturday, October 20, 2012
at Sun River Church
11223 Trinity River Drive
Doors open at 8:15am, conference from 9:00am-5:00pm.
Seating is limited to the first 60 registrants. Click here to register today!
Admission for this event is $25 for Inspire members, $35 for non-members.
If you have any questions, contact Marcia Brim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m sorry to announce that we have cancelled the Writing as Ministry seminar. If you are interested in learning more about PrayerBook40, please contact Marcia Brim.
I met Thomas Umstattd at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. After chatting with him, I was impressed by his humility and brilliance. He actually made technology less intimidating, and even a bit more inviting.
I’ve come across many writers who cringe at the mention of platform building and marketing strategies. But, with a pal like Thomas, writers can gain the courage and confidence required to develop an effective online presence.
I’m pleased to introduce you to Thomas Umstattd, founder of Author Media and The Best Seller Society.
Thank you for joining us, Thomas. Would you please share a little bit about your background and experience?
I built my first website at age 13, taught my first web design class at age 16, and have been helping Authors online since 2007.
WOW! Building your first website at 13? I can barely post on my website and I’m . . . no comment. So, what made you decide to launch The Best Seller Society?
I was at a writer’s conference where the speaker encouraged us to start a blog and a website for our books. I remember thinking, no problem I do that all the time.
Then, I saw the look of panic on the faces of the other attendees and realized I had something to offer the author community.
We launched the Bestseller Society several years later. Our goal is to provide authors the resources they need to succeed year round.
How can unpublished writers and published authors benefit from your services?
Platforms are essential. And Author Media builds platforms for authors every day.
We do everything from building the website to setting up Facebook and Twitter. We show you how to use social media effectively and will even do it for you. (You can see samples here!)
How does Author Media and The BSS serve writers who are not tech savvy?
If you’re tech savvy, you probably don’t need our help . We hold each author’s hand through the scary world of technology.
I’m already feeling less intimidated by the process. But, what can those super-writers, who excel in all things technology, gain from partnering with your team?
The biggest thing we offer “super-writers” is time. Just because you know how to do something doesn’t mean you have the time to do it.
We work with Bestselling authors. The biggest reason they come to us is that they’re too busy writing and speaking to worry about their website.
In your experience, what is the greatest challenge a writer faces with platform building?
Have you been reading my journal, Thomas? Just kidding. How has your team helped writers overcome that challenge?
We give authors the tools, coaching and encouragement they need to not only help them overcome their fear, but to equip them to thrive in their writing and promotion.
Sounds like a win-win situation, to me. What are some easy, inexpensive ways writers can begin building a platform today?
Start blogging. That is the core of good online platform building for authors because it is so similar to writing. Just avoid blogger, blogspot, typepad and WordPress.com. If you want a successful blog it needs to be on YourName.com or YourBookTitle.com.
Great tip! What final words of encouragement would you like to share with writers who are intimidated by platform building and marketing strategies?
The anticipation of the unknown is the hardest thing to overcome. Just get started. You’ll find it’s not as tough as you might think, especially if you have someone to help you along.
Thank you for joining us, Thomas. I look forward to seeing how God continues to use the BSS and Author Media to encourage writers as you equip them to excel in the art of platform building.
Xochi (so-she) E. Dixon is an writer, speaker, and Bible teacher who loves Jesus and studying God’s Word. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Alan, their teenage son, Xavier, and their doggy-daughter, Jazzy. Xochi writes contemporary fiction, articles and devotions for women. Her short stories and poetry for teens have been featured in ENCOUNTER – The Magazine, Devo ‘Zine, and on the Real Teen Faith website. Connect with Xochi on her website at www.xedixon.com or on Facebook and Twitter.
Our critique groups are the backbone of Inspire Christian Writers. They are where good writers become great writers, where cardboard characters come to life and sagging plots are transformed into page-turners. Where those seeking to share a message discover how to turn a message into ministry.
Because we understand the transformative power of critique groups, we are thrilled to announce the launch of two new groups, one in Modesto and one in San Leandro, California.
If you live within driving distance of either of these locations, join us for the adventure of growing your craft and developing friendships with other writers.
Are you close to Modesto? Jane Baker is launching our Inspire Modesto group. This group will meet for the first time on Thursday, August 2nd from 7-9pm at Jane’s home. You can email her for directions: email@example.com.
Inspire Modesto will meet regularly on the first Thursday of each month.
Are you closer to San Leandro? Danielle McCurry and Stephanie Orr are launching our Inspire San Leandro group. They will host an informational meeting on Tuesday, July 17th at 6:00pm.
For location please contact Danielle (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Stephanie (email@example.com) and they’ll help you get connected.
To see all of our group locations, check out our Groups page.
If you are in an Inspire critique group, tell us how it has helped you in your writing journey. Not in a group yet? What do you expect to gain when you join?
Let the Walls Fall Down: Move past self-protective fear to write with honesty, transparency and vulnerability.
What makes you love great writing?
Have you thought about what your favorite authors have in common? I have. And I discovered that I love books that resonate with me. I know I’ve stumbled onto something wonderful when a book allows me to glimpse inside the writer’s soul.
As a writer, I want to impact my readers that way. I hope that is your goal too. So what can we do to become more transparent in our writing? I’ve come up with a few ideas. Maybe you can add to them.
Forgive past offenses.
When we’ve been hurt, it is easy to construct protective walls around our hearts. Those walls may keep us from getting hurt (probably not, but that’s why we build them), but they create a distance between us and our readers.
Unforgiveness comes across in writing as legalism or know-it-all-ism. It preaches at the readers, talking down to them instead of inviting them into conversation or story.
Focus on Your Readers
If you are writing to someone, you will be more authentic. You’ll move beyond, “Here I am. Let me tell you what I know!” to “There you are. How can I add value to you today?”
Picture your target reader. Imagine her reading your words and reacting to them. What does she feel as she reads them. Has she learned to trust you to teach her or take her on a soul-stirring journey? Are you giving her what she needs in this moment, in a way she can receive ? Do your words resonate with her?
Trust the Lord with Your Reputation
One of the quickest ways to alienate a reader is to try to impress him. Readers don’t care how much you know. They don’t care how witty you are or how you’ve perfected your prose. They want to learn from you or be entertained by you. They want to connect with you on an emotional journey. If you are preening on the paper, you may be admired from afar, but you’ll never touch the heart of your reader.
If you ask yourself, “Will this make me look good?” you’re going to distance your readers. Let God take care of your reputation and how you look. Instead, ask yourself, “How will my readers benefit from this? What will they learn? What will they experience?”
What keeps you from writing with vulnerability? What steps will you take to overcome those things and connect on a deeper level with your reader?
Elizabeth M. Thompson leads Inspire Christian Writers. When she’s not writing devotionals or planning the next Write to Inspire conference, she’s learning to write more transparently with her Inspire Elk Grove group. She enjoys connecting with other writers via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
She has an active home which she shares with her fabulous husband Mike, three children, two dogs and a few errant dust bunnies.
By Lacie Nezbeth
One of the most difficult hurdles every writer must face is pitching their “baby” to an agent that we are probably completely intimidated by. We learned yesterday that Chip is anything but intimidating, but the experience of selling your story is scary nonetheless.
Today, Chip gives us a few insights if you’re planning to pitch him your manuscript or if you’re interested in his representation.
LN: When you take pitching appointments during the conference, what genre are you most looking for?
CM: In fiction, I’m looking for stories with a big hook and great writing. I’m looking for romance, historicals, suspense, and crime novels, in both the Christian as well as the general market. On the nonfiction side, I’m always looking for a great, salable idea that offers strong solutions to problems people face. Some genres would include lifestyle, relationships, investing, parenting, and Christian living.
LN: What are some of the most common mistakes you see when writers are pitching or submitting to you?
CM: I find some authors fall in love with their own words, so they want to talk but don’t want to listen (and when advice is offered, it’s rejected because the author feels he knows more than me). So be willing to listen. Also, most projects aren’t done when first shown to me – they are about 60% done when the author runs it by me. That’s fine if the author is just looking for my take on the subject. But if you’re pitching me, it should be DONE – completed, well thought out, well written, and ready to shop to publishers. So know your topic, understand the market, recognize the competition, and get everything as complete as you can make it. One other mistake, less common but still occurring, is that some authors will approach me having no idea who I am or what I represent. So they come to me with poetry or screenplays or sci-fi novels that I don’t represent and don’t have an opinion on. A bit of research can make the one-on-one time much better.
LN: I’ve heard you say that different agents bring different benefits to the relationship. Whether that’s business savvy, negotiating contracts, editorial advice, brainstorming, accountability, etc. What are your strengths as an agent? What assistance do you most enjoy giving your clients?
CM: First, I’ve done this a long time, and I bring a lot of experience to bear on conversations about writing and careers. Second, I love words, and love talking words and stories. In fact, one of my favorite things is sitting down with an author I represent and talking through their story with them. Third, I made my living as a writer for several years, so I understand not just the business side, but the creative side of making a living at writing. And fourth, I actually have training in career development (during my doctoral program at the University of Oregon, I worked with the Career Planning Office to create tools to assist those graduating in the arts), which gives me a fairly unique experience, I think. I’ve found some agents will say they specialize in “career development,” but when it gets right down to it, they can’t define what that is. For many, “career development” simply means “I’ll try and get you a book contract.” I think there’s a lot more to it, and I try to work with the authors I represent so that they have a plan for moving forward in their writing careers. Of course, a fifth strength I have has nothing to do with me – we have a great team of people at MacGregor Literary, so an author doesn’t just get me, but a team of skilled people who can bring their collective wisdom to bear on the need at hand.
LN: Have you ever taken a chance on a writer and offered representation based on something other than their writing alone? Do you ever mentor writers?
CM: I’ve taken a chance on several writers – in fact, I think my career has been marked by discovering new talent, not just mining authors that others have helped get started. So yes, I’ve mentored a number of authors, and continue to work with writers who are interested in growing their careers.
LN: Thank you, Chip, for sharing this information with us. I hope those pitching to Chip feel a little more prepared and comfortable after reading this. And a huge ‘Good Luck’ from me!
In order to pitch your project to Chip at the Write to Inspire Conference this year, you have to get past our panel of judges. Chip will only hear the top 12 pitches. Ready to through your hat in the ring? Check out our guidelines on our One Sheet Pitching Contest Page. And remember the deadline is midnight July 1.
Have you pitched to an agent before? Tell us about it. Was it a disaster? A delight? Was the agent interested?
From her earliest years, Lacie Nezbeth knew two things—she longed to be a stay at home mom, and stories, in any form, captivated her. Today, those two passions have culminated into a fairy tale life that continually points her to God’s overflowing goodness. Her love of history, traveling and research made her decision to write Historical Romances an obvious and fitting choice. When Lacie isn’t working on one of her stories or tackling the unending mountain of laundry produced by her three small kids, she can be found chauffeuring her children to their various activities, talking to herself in the grocery store or plotting ways to get her entire family on another Caribbean cruise.
Today we have a guest post by Cecil Murphey. Cec has authored over a hundred books including Unleash the Writer Within, which every writer should read. I know you’ll enjoy what he shares today.
People who know me can’t believe that I occasionally struggle with procrastination, but I do. The Africans called me Haraka, which means quick or fast—and that’s my usual way. Grab whatever needs doing. Finish it. Now.
Occasionally I’ll encounter a situation where I know I need to act, but I’m not ready. For example, Twila and I have contracted for a book called I Believe in Healing. I had written more than 70,000 words in a disorganized document of 300 plus pages. I had done enough research that I needed to organize it into an outline and make the pieces fit into a coherent book.
I couldn’t figure it out. No matter how I tried to organize the material, it didn’t work. I did what I call planned procrastination.
Monday morning I decided I would start the outline Thursday. That meant the outline was no longer something about which I needed to be concerned. I prayed about Thursday and asked God to help me as part of my planned procrastination. Whenever the topic came to me, I’d remind myself, “Thursday is the day to start.”
When I awakened Thursday morning, I had an inkling of how to do the outline and I spent a couple of hours on it. After perhaps an hour, I knew exactly what to do.
I could try to explain about allowing the unconscious part of my mind wrestle with the problem—which I believe is what happened. Instead, I say it this way: I decided not to give the problem any conscious thought or energy. I also set a deadline for my unconscious mind.
I’ve been doing this for at least twenty years. Recently I realized it might help others in their struggle with putting off something that has to be done—when they aren’t ready.
I’ve become ready through planned procrastination. For me, the technique has never failed.
Plan your procrastination.
Have you used planned procrastination to engage your unconscious mind? What other methods work for you?
New York Times’ bestselling author and international speaker Cecil (Cec) Murphey has written or co-written more than one hundred books, including the runaway bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (with Dr. Ben Carson). His books have sold millions of copies, have been translated into more than 40 languages, and have brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world.