Improving Your Craft: Inspire’s Online Critique Groups

Writers Group

Writers write. Usually locked in a room. Alone. For hours. We emerge for potty breaks and coffee breaks. Then we hide back in our room to write. Alone. For hours.

Ultimately we have to return to the world, if only to get what we write into the hands of others. But before we hit “send” to an email, slip our submissions into the mailbox or click “publish” ourselves, we need feedback from people who understand the craft of writing.

Inspire Christian Writers has those people, ready to help you excel in your craft. We have fabulous in-person critique groups, organized regionally. But not everyone’s schedule or circumstances are a fit for an in-person group. Not everyone lives locally. Enter Inspire Christian Writers’ online critique groups.

Last year Inspire Christian Writers birthed its first online critique group. This year, we’re expanding the scope of online groups, forming groups for the following genres:

  • General adult: includes both fiction and non-fiction genres, memoirs, blog posts, articles, devotionals
  • Poetry
  • Screenwriting
  • Children: includes all genres (board, picture book, EZ readers, early chapter, middle grade, young adult, magazine and both fiction and non-fiction)

We are open to other genres or to groups with a specific focus (such memoirs, devotionals or romance novels) and as many groups as we can find willing leaders to facilitate.

Ideally, online groups are limited to a specific number of members with a rotating schedule for submissions throughout the month. This cap limits the number of critiques required each week, yet allows each person a chance to submit within a reasonable time span. Critiques can be done via email or the group can gather online each week via Skype, Google Hangouts or an online chat—whatever works best for the people involved.

If you’d like to be part of an online or an in-person critique group—fill out our Critique Group Interest Form and our group coordinator will respond to you.

Do you have any questions about online critique groups? Or would you like to learn how to facilitate a group? Contact Carol Peterson at:


Carol’s mission is to entertain, educate and inspire. Her writing for children is to make learning fun; her writing for adults is to encourage faith through the written word. She has four books for teachers to use in the classroom published by Teacher Ideas Press. She can be found at and and on Facebook!


March 29, 2014 in Announcements, Critique, Writing Tips by

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Fade In – New Screenwriters Critique Group

Film Countdown at 5

by David Hyde

Interior, Living Room Rio Linda, Ca -Night

Pan Left into Hitchcock Zoom: A blank page stares back at our lonely writer. Pencil tapping on his temple he sits up, and then lays back. UP! Then back. He reaches for the page, but stops. Looking about the room: A bookshelf, a globe, a cat sleeps on the window sill. Back to the globe, to the window, rain splashes on the glass. Pencil reaches the paper. The lead breaks…

Screenwriting and composing stage drama are uniquely visual in our world of writing. While fiction, poetry, and other genres strive to communicate to a reader’s mind’s-eye so that they are able to TELL others about the story, screenwriters and playwrights must write to communicate their vision in a way that others can then take it and SHOW their story to others.

For drama, as in fiction, story is king. Without story, no one will sit through 90 minutes in a dark theater or two hours in front of a stage. There, however, is where similarity to other writing forms ends. With that in mind, Inspire Christian Writers is forming a new critique group just for this genre of writers. The Faith-Based film industry is exploding in America. Following the success of the Kendrick Brothers (Facing the Giants, Fireproof, Courageous) and others, independent Christian production companies are seeing successes like never before. And this means writing opportunities for writers such as ourselves like never before.

Instead of the starry-eyed dreams of acceptance speeches and golden statues on the mantle, our goal is to hone our craft so God can use our stories in ways never before possible. To grow our craft and learn from each other on this journey into the nether land of film and stage shall surely be an adventure unto itself.

So, if you have ever had a vision so grand that it simply wouldn’t fit on the page, or words that just must be spoken instead of read, maybe screen or stage is for you. Please join us, on-line monthly, or in person on the first Thursday each month 7pm in Rio Linda, California. Passion, vision, and a willingness to learn is all that is needed.

Please email the leader at for more information or to sign up for this group.

February 13, 2014 in Announcements, Critique, Uncategorized, Writing Tips by

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Are You Ready to Change the World?


If so, you’ll want to register now for the 21st Annual Christian Writers Seminar.

SusyFloryDo you remember Susy Flory who spoke at our Publishing Smackdown and at the 2012 Write to Inspire Conference? Susy is this year’s keynote speaker.

She’s passionate about equipping writers for ministry and I know you’ll enjoy her warm, down-to-earth speaking style. She’s also a brilliant and very accomplished author. I’ll post an interview with Susy on this blog very soon so you can get a taste of what she’s teaching and the heart behind it.

In addition to a great keynote speaker, the Christian Writers Seminar offers 40 (forty!) workshops on a variety of topics so you can tailor the seminar to your own writing goals and needs.Workshops are taught by a faculty, hand selected by the seminar’s founder, Jon Drury, to help equip you for world-changing writing ministry.

I’ll be teaching two workshops this year: Critique Groups that Work (along with Pat Sikora) and Preparing for Mount Hermon.

CDs are available for order for those workshops you can’t fit into your schedule, and those you want to hear again.

Registration is only $109 if you sign up by February 14th. The price increases to $139 at the door.  Teens pay only $89 in advance or $109 at the door.

The Christian Writers Seminar is held at Redwood Chapel, 19300 Redwood Rd, Castro Valley, CA 94546

Would you like to receive feedback on your article, poetry, devotional or book proposal? If so, be sure to take advantage of the Manuscript Critique services.

Do you have any questions or comments about the upcoming Christian Writers Seminar?

January 27, 2014 in Conferences, Training Workshops, Writing Tips by


From Blog Posts to an E-Book: An Interview with Dr. Andy Wood

Dr Andy Wood - Headshot - Nov 2013Dr. Andy Wood is an author, professor, church leader, consultant, evangelist, and seminar leader. In every role, he has pursued a philosophy he refers to as M.A.D.I.S.E.L. – Make a Difference in Someone Else’s Life!

Serving alongside his wife, Robin, Andy offers professional counseling, coaching, consulting, and communication services through The LifeVesting Group.

He blogs consistently and has ghostwritten two books. He has published on both academic and professional levels in magazines and journals and is currently marketing his first e-book, The 12 Pathways to Christmas.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Andy Wood.


Andy:  Thank you!

Xochi: Why do you think it’s important for writers to consider blogging?

Andy:  For me, it’s about the discipline to continue writing and developing fresh stuff.  Blogging is a great way to test drive ideas that may or may not ever make it into a book.

Blogging also gives you a starter platform for building what Seth Godin calls a “tribe.” That is, a group of people who appreciate what you do, keep reading and, hopefully, share your stuff with others.


Xochi: What are your top tips for potential bloggers?

Andy: First – write, write, write.

Second, decide on a realistic schedule and stick to it.  If you want regular readers, become a regular writer.

Third, know the purpose of your blog and lean into it.


WebXochi: Please tell us a little bit about your e-book, The 12 Pathways to Christmas.

Andy:  I’ve looked closely at the lives of the people who were involved in the first Christmas story. I wanted to create a connection between a 21st-century “real world” and the “real world” of the first century and how the coming of Jesus is relevant to all that. This book offers 12 vignettes of real joy, real pain, real healing, real desperation, real hope.


Xochi: How did the idea of The 12 Pathways to Christmas develop into an e-book?

Andy:  It started as a series of posts on the “LifeVesting” blog, in 2009. It took me another Christmas season to finish them up, then another year or two to put them into a book form.


Xochi: What was the greatest challenge you faced during the e-book process?

Andy:  Learning how to format the book correctly.  It’s not super hard, but there was a bit of a learning curve.


Xochi: What did you enjoy most about the e-book process?

Andy:  E-book publishing is quick. You can edit or make changes without having to go through the publisher. It also enables you to avoid having to stock piles of book inventory.

I enjoyed the instant awareness of success, or lack thereof.  With Amazon, you can always know how sales are going.

Also, it’s fun to be part of a larger community of authors who have discovered this format.


Xochi: What tips do you have for writers who are considering publishing e-books?

Andy:  First, get several proofreaders to help clean up your writing.

Second, have a good strategy for marketing your work.  Nobody will be more committed to your success than you are.  There are lots of tools and resources out there for authors to learn to market their stuff.


Xochi: What words of encouragement would you like to offer aspiring writers?

Andy:  Use your writing to serve and love people, and the day will come when your writing will serve you.

There has only been one infallible thing ever written, and that’s the Bible. Anything short of that has room for improvement.

So, never stop improving and working at your craft.


Xochi: Thank you for sharing your insights, Dr. Wood.

Andy:  My pleasure.

You can connect with Andy through his blog and check out The 12 Pathways to Christmas, on sale for only .99 cents until December 15, 2013! I’m looking forward to reading Andy’s book before Christmas and am sure it will make a great gift for the book lover on your nice list!

If you’ve published an e-book, tell us about your experience. Would you do it again? What, if anything, would you do differently?

Author Photo 2011 - Use for BIOSXochi (so-she) E. Dixon loves Jesus and lives in Northern California with her husband, Alan, their teenage son, Xavier, and their doggy-daughter, Jazzy. She has a passion for teaching God’s Word and writes contemporary fiction, articles and devotions for women and teens. Her work has been published in The Upper Room, ENCOUNTER – The Magazine and Devo ‘Zine. You can connect with Xochi through her blog, Facebook and Twitter.

December 11, 2013 in Publishing, Writer's Journey, Writing Tips by


Traditional & Self-Publishing Square-Off in Publishing Smackdown November 16th

Publishing Smackdown

Join New York Times best-selling author Susy Flory and indie novelist Lorena Bathey for a publishing smackdown. Get the scoop on traditional vs. self-publishing from two authors who have been best friends since second grade but have traveled different paths in publishing.

You’ll get insider information and strategic advice from two pros with different views about publishing.

susy_floryTopics include:Lorena Bathey2

  • Writing queries & proposals
  • Editing
  • Marketing
  • Distribution
  • Agents
  • Cover Design
  • Social Media and Platforms


Susy Flory grew up on the back of a quarter horse in Northern California. She has a background in journalism, education, and communications and earned degrees in English and psychology from UCLA. She taught high school English and journalism before embarking on a full-time writing career in 2004.

Susy’s books include Fear Not Da Vinci, So Long Status Quo, Dog Tales, Heaven Hears, and The Unbreakable Boy. Her runaway bestseller, Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero co-written with Michael Hingson, hit the New York Times bestsellers list in both hardcover nonfiction and e-book nonfiction the first week of release. Thunder Dog held the #1 NYT ranking for nonfiction e-books the week of September 11, 2011 and captured worldwide media attention. To date, Thunder Dog has sold over 140,000 copies.

Lorena Bathey attended St. Mary’s College in Moraga graduating with a degree in English.

She started writing her first book, Happy Beginnings: How I Became My Own Fairy Godmother when her world fell apart and she needed to process changes in her life. Lorena found characters Marissa, Andrea, Lily, Deidre and Beatrice were visiting her and wouldn’t leave and her first novel, Beatrice Munson, came to life.

After finishing that book she was inspired to write more novels and she knew that pursuing her passion was the best way to live her life. So a writer she became.

Today Lorena has written several novels, Beatrice Munson, House on Plunkett Street, The X, Coaster, and Meeting Ms. Monroe. She is beginning research on two historical novels.

Saturday, November 16th, 9am-11:30am

First Covenant Church,  Chapel

10933 Progress Court, Rancho Cordova, CA 95670

Register now!

The Publishing Smackdown is free for all Inspire Christian Writers members. Non-members pay $15.00 at the door.

November 4, 2013 in Publishing, Training Workshops, Uncategorized, Writer's Journey, Writing Tips by

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Use Twitter to Build Your Ministry & Author Platform

twitter for chat

Each month Inspire Christian Writers gather for the Build Your Author Platform workshop. This month Cheri Douglas will facilitate our training.  Cheri has a huge Twitter ministry and is the author of the upcoming book, Tweeting God’s Love.

Twitter is a great place for Christian writers to minister worldwide! 140 characters facilitates a perfect discussion, and is the length of most Bible verse. No surprise, God is the fastest growing topic on Twitter today. Discussions on God often trend worldwide as the most tweeted topic of the moment. ~ Cheri Douglas

After a brief introduction to Twitter and its value to authors, Cheri will:

  • Help writers set up a Twitter account (if needed)
  • Explain the follower system.
  • Help writers send & respond to tweets.
  • Show writers how Twitter facilitates immediate ministry.
  • Demonstrate how Tweetlonger can help non-blogging writers
  • Explain hashtags and how to use them to connect with others on Twitter.
  • Help writers join a prayer/chat with #WriteToInspire.

cheri_douglasIn order to participate fully, bring a tablet, laptop, or notebook computer. Be sure to visit and follow the prompts to establish a personal account. If you have problems with that, Cheri will be available at 8AM in room 203 to work with you.

Join us:

Thursday, October 17th

9:00AM – 12:00 Noon

First Covenant Church, 10933 Progress Court, Rancho Cordova, CA 95670

You will leave able to share your books or articles with a world of new friends!

This workshop is FREE for Inspire Members, non-members pay only $10 at the door!

October 7, 2013 in Training Workshops, Uncategorized, Writing Tips by


We’re Launching a Critique Group in Santa Rosa!

power meeting from aboveI’m delighted to announce that Inspire Christian Writers is expanding to Sonoma County with a brand new group in Santa Rosa!

christy_hossIf 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

If you have questions about joining Inspire Christian Writers, contact

Q4U: How has participating in a critique group helped you as a writer?

May 6, 2013 in Announcements, Critique, Spiritual Life of a Writer, Writing Tips by


Build Your Author Platform

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.

mmhyattcvrBring 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?

March 19, 2013 in Training Workshops, Uncategorized, Writing Tips by


3-Day Special: Save $50 off Christian Writers Seminar!

Christian Writers Seminar

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 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.

February 15, 2013 in Announcements, Conferences, Spiritual Life of a Writer, Training Workshops, Uncategorized, Writing Tips by

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Write Now Relief: Help Victims of Sandy

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

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

Ginny Yttrup  Women’s Fiction, Contemporary

Hannah Alexander  Contemporary romantic suspense, Christian romance, both contemporary and historical

Nicole O’Dell  YA

Rachel Hauck  All genres

Jill Williamson  Middle grade, and YA or adult for spec fiction (fantasy, science fiction, etc.

Gayle Roper  Romantic suspense, suspense, mystery and romance. Hosted by Nancy Mehl

Miralee Ferrell  Historical romance, women’s contemporary fiction, romantic suspense

Donita K. Paul  YA, Fantasy, romance

Ruth Axtell  Historical Romance

Kathy Fuller  Amish, contemporary, historical, screenplays

Missy Tippens  Contemporary category romance, anyone targeting Love Inspired.

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!

November 8, 2012 in Announcements, Uncategorized, Writing Tips by

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