Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Writing contests are an excellent way to get your writing noticed. And, for the winners, they are a great addition to your byline and biography.
Here are a few contests that you might be interested in:
The ACM Christian Writer's Contest - costs $15.00 to enter and they are accepting entries until Feb. 15th, 2010.
For writers of Christian stories with "bite" there is The Phoenix Ratter Writing Contest - costs $20.00 to enter and the deadline is October 31st, 2009.
If you write for young adults you might want to check out the Delacorte Press contest. Manuscripts must be postmarked after October 1, 2009, but no later than December 31, 2009. There is no cost to enter.
Writer's Digest is having their 10th annual short story contest. A $10-$15 fee is required. Check on the site to see which one would apply to your work. First place wins $3000. The deadline is December 1, 2009.
Narrative Magazine is also holding a short story contest, fiction or non-fiction. Entry fee is $20. First place entry wins $3250. Deadline in this secular site is December 31, 2009.
If you enter one of these contests and win, drop back by to let us congratulate you! Have fun entering. :)
Friday, September 25, 2009
Congratulations to Lucy Neely Adams and Diane, winners of the drawing for C. Maggie Woychik's I Run to the Hills!
For anyone who may have missed it, Maggie's interview follows immediately after this post and the purchase information is at the bottom.
Again, congrats to Lucy and Diane!
Try these headlines:
Say what? ~~~
Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter
Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft
Well, Duh! ~~~
Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly,
It May Last Awhile
Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
Enfield (London) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
War Dims Hope for Peace
The punishment doesn’t fit the crime ~~~
Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
Man Struck by Lightning: Faces Battery Charge
Local School Dropouts Cut in Half
Work ethics ~~~
Panda Mating Fails;
Veterinarian Takes Over
Miners Refuse to Work After Death
New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
That’s Incredible! ~~~
Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges
Hospital Sued by 7 Foot Doctors
The winner ~~~
Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Maggie, who writes under the names C.M. Woychik, Chila Woychik, and Chila M. Woychik, has published over seventy articles in magazines and e-zines such as Christian Women Today, Cross & Quill, and War Cry. She has also been a staff writer for GotQuestions.org, a Christian site with well over a million hits a month; an author of teen and adult Bible studies; and a winner of the Roaring Lambs Award from the Amy Foundation, an organization formed to present Christian truth in secular publications.
Maggie's enjoyment factor is very high: she loves life and just about anything involving "the ins and outs of the here and now." She loves photography, traveling, animals, and Starbucks, among other things, and is seldom bored. "I have to be really sick to be having a bad day." She is a wife, a mother, a writer, and a wonderful friend, and it's my privilege to present her here as she promotes her new book I Run to the Hills.
AC: Tell us about I Run to the Hills, why you wrote it, what you learned from it.
Maggie: First, let me say what an honor it is to be here! I am continually amazed at believers who seek to work together to further the cause of Christ or writing or whatever good endeavor. I am encouraged and humbled.
As for "Hills," the back cover says it best: "Thirty-nine reflections to savor during quiet times, I Run to the Hills is both a journey and a resting place--a collection of faith-musings draped in traveling garb."
I wrote it because my heart yearned for expression, especially in the area of a reasoned and real faith, and I listened. From the writing experience, I learned patience--and myself. From the editing, revising, and waiting, I learned greater patience and how poor a writer I am "right off the bat." I'm much like the modern published author whose wife found his first draft on the piano, read it, then said, "What seventh grader wrote this?"
AC: As is the case for all writers, your first draft may be "poor," but I've read your incredible writing--you make effective use of the editing and revising stages. What are you currently writing?
Maggie: I'm working on a collection of poems and short stories (several sea-themed), including a 250-line, four-part poem about a dragon's metamorphosis from ravaging beast to meek and gentle friend through the affection of a young lady named Aruna.
I'm also writing a book on post-traumatic stress and the believer (stemming from being hit by a drunk driver five years ago): how does one maintain faith, relationships, and sanity through something as life-changing as PTS? This book is a couple of years from completion.
AC: You have quite a variety of projects going, and they all sound good. Tell me about your writing habits. Where do you write? What do you have within reach as you work?
Maggie: I write wherever I am when I feel I need to get something from my brain to a tangible surface: in the middle of the night, while shopping, in the car, watching a movie. Writing paraphernalia is never far away. If necessary, I use what is handy: napkins, deposit slips, gum wrappers, the palm of my hand. But when I'm settled into my working mode, I usually have either a cup of decaf tea with a spoon of honey, or water. Roget's Thesaurus is only an arm's reach away--my old college copy with yellowed pages and curled corners. And that's it! I'm a very minimalistic writer.
AC: If you could have dinner with three authors--living or dead--to talk with about their work, who would you invite?
Maggie: I would definitely have Charlotte and Emily Bronte because I admire them as women probably more than I admire their writings. Their biographies detail both their faith and their life-and-death struggles, and will either encourage you or shame you into a state of repentance for ever grumbling about even the smallest pain or problem. I'd also invite the still-living Annie Dilliard for she is one of the most brilliant writers who has ever held pen to page.
AC: How can readers get in contact with you?
Maggie: I love interacting via email or Facebook. My email is email@example.com. You can easily find me on Facebook (C Maggie Woychik). I'm also just getting up to speed on Twitter.
Maggie's book will soon be available wherever fine books are sold, but you can see the trailer now at her site, C. Maggie Woychik.
Friday, AC will hold a drawing for two lucky folks to win a copy her book! That's right! Maggie has graciously provided two copies of her devotional book to give away--so post your comments! Winners will be announced Saturday morning!
Monday, September 21, 2009
At her husband and brother's suggestion, she started Christian Romance Magazine to encourage writers along their journey. As she says, she wants them "not to lose heart but to keep moving forward. Even though there are setbacks at times, we need to remember that the Lord has called us." The e-zine features writing tips for romance authors; contributors' articles, both fiction and nonfiction; book reviews and ratings; conference news and more--including a segment for men. Although the site is fairly new, Ginger has great hopes for it, as you'll discover below:
AC: What did you have in mind when you started CRM?
Ginger: I can't tell you how many Christian Romance novels I've read in my fourteen years or so connected in the genre. Most novels are very entertaining, but have very little in the way of "take-away" value. Is there something wrong with that? Not necessarily. If your aim was to entertain, than you've met your own expectations. But if your aim--or mandate from the Lord, as it were--was to minister, you may need to rethink your manuscript.
One of CRM's first purposes is to equip the Christian romance writer. I would like to see a new breed of CR writer who drenches the pages with real romance between the characters and the Lord before they plunge the hero and heroine into romance with one another. If you're wondering what I'm talking about, read a Francine Rivers novel sometime.
AC: I know the magazine is new. How much experience do you have as an editor?
Ginger: Of course, everyone would love to say, "I have ten years experience in this and fifteen in that," but the truth is, I've only been at this for a couple of years. I don't have as much experience as I would like, but I do have a vision to influence the CR world with a message to let our words be faithful to His Word.
AC: How much time do you devote to the magazine?
Ginger: It varies from week to week.
AC: Who are your partners?
Ginger: Susan Brannock is our editor. She writes stories and is working on her first novel, and she has amazing editing skills. Then, there's Sherry Stacey, known around the magazine as "the muse." She has a knack for understanding characters and inspiring plot like no one we know.
AC: Who are your contributors? Are they compensated for their articles?
Ginger: There are a range of contributors and, like most periodicals, a range of would-bes. I have learned a lot about editing for a magazine just by having to say, "no, thank you" to people. Editors really don't like to do that.
As far as compensation is concerned, we are a very poor magazine and really bring in little income at this time, not even enough to cover our expenses, so we can only pay minimally for articles. Tips and book reviews are not compensated as we have a "pay it forward" kind of attitude. We give everything we can to the CR writing world and we know our readers, who are mostly writers, desire a way to give back into the community. Tips and book reviews are one way they can do that.
AC: How many readers do you have now?
Ginger: We have over 4000 visitors a month right now. Our numbers are growing every month as more people find out about us.
AC: How do you promote the e-zine and its writers?
Ginger: We are mostly a word-of-mouth magazine, but the search engines help to move our rankings higher every month. Mini-search directories and engines help, too, such as Stumble-Upon and DMOZ.
AC: What are you looking for in a good romance article?
Ginger: The most straight-forward answer I can give you is this: A thrilling conflict, at least one character completely committed to God, and a satisfying, believable ending.
AC: What are your dreams for CRM? What do you see for it three, five, ten year from now?
Ginger: My dream has always been to equip romance writers with the best information to write the strongest manuscript possible. We believe in ministry first.
I see CRM finding its legs in the next few years. Right now, we really are just trying to find out what is most needed in the CR world. That's why it's important for our readers to get involved wth the magazine. We need feedback, newsletter subscribers and contributors. CRM exists for the benefit of the CR world.
I want to thank Ginger for consenting to be interviewed. Getting in on the ground floor and growing with a new venture is always exciting. A beginning readership of four thousand is a great start for most new Christian romance writers, and getting published in the magazine will definitely help promote name recognition.
Old hands at Christian romance writing and newbies alike should check into the magazine, write articles and share what you know--be part of a great magazine's growth!
Friday, September 18, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
You’re Not a Writer Unless…
I often hear, “I have so many books in my head,” and I answer, “Then let them out!” That’s really all that makes a writer a writer—we let out the books/stories/essays. I could have talked about Tender Graces till the cows mooed home, but until I sat down and wrote the entire book, that’s all it would be: Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk.
So what separates an author from someone who has a head crowded with books?
Perhaps someone who—
- Actually writes, because a writer writes, right? Yup, a cliché, however, as with most clichés, it holds truths. Just as a dancer, a football player, a gymnast, or pianist must practice his craft, he must also produce a “product” from that practice, something to show his audience or coach as tangible evidence. So it is with the writer. Practice, polish, produce.
- Recognizes that writing is work. Okay, yeah, writing can be fun, and wonderful and beautiful, too. All the years I spent in an office instead of writing were brain-numbing years. I feel incredibly fortunate my days are now spent writing. Even so, sometimes my writing life feels like, gulp, work! At times I groan and snick and moan and want to goof off. Well, guess what? Suck it up. Period.
Write when you are happy, sad, mad, in love, out of love, disgusted, yippee yi yo kai yai, write when something happens, write when nothing happens. Just put words on the page and see where they lead you. That’s about it. Fingers on keys: tappity tap tap tap tap, words appear, more words appear, until you are done.
- Reads.What? You hate to read? Hold on while I catch my breath. How can you become a good writer if you hate to read? I can picture it: You write The End; there it’s done. But wait! You certainly can’t read the 30,000-word novel you crafted, since reading is so boring and awful and just so harrrrd. And, what? 30,000 words isn’t enough to make a novel? Well, dangity-dee, what to do? I mean, you’re ready to move on to something else. Anyway, you can read your own stuff, since it’s the best thing you’ve ever (not) read. Well, then you may be the only one reading it because I stand by my statement: One must read to be a good writer. I tell you what, since there are most always exceptions, I challenge you to find me a non-reader who writes good books—note I said “good books.”
- Doesn’t get stuck by “write what you know.” We don’t have to experience an event to have an understanding of it. For example, horror writers have never had their guts sucked out by a gut-sucking alien; however, they do understand fear, and they understand the power of that fear to use it against their readers; they convince the reader. If you convince your audience, your job is done. Writing what you know means convincing your audience because you tap into something you do know. Think of it in the abstract as well as the concrete.
What I am trying to tell you is this: To be a writer you must actually write something. Talking about writing is not going to cut it. Wishing is not going to fill the pages with words and images. Pretending you are going to do it when you know you are not—well, what’s the point in that? If that’s the case, find your real passion and fly little bird fly, for heaven’s sake! When you stick it out, suck it up, and write even when it feels like Work instead of Fun, the reward you receive is well worth your effort. Trust me. You will have created something beautiful that is all yours. No one can take that away from you. Not even the gut-sucking aliens, and believe me, they are out there.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Few writers will disagree that the most difficult parts of any story are the beginning and the ending. The beginning is vital, since it’s often the deciding factor in whether or not someone reads your book. But the ending is arguably even more important, since it determines whether your story sticks with someone past that first read. Good endings are hard to come by, and few writers manage them perfectly. An ending needs to do all of the following:
- Resonate with the reader emotionally.
- Tie off the loose ends.
- Sum up the theme.
- Strike the reader as entirely unexpected.
- Strike the reader as the inevitable conclusion of all your plot threads.
- Avoid triteness or glibness.
- Leave the reader hungry for just a little bit more (either a sequel or just a second read through).
In short, endings are complicated. With so much involved in the denouement of our novels—and so much riding on it—it’s hardly likely we’ll get it right the first time. Or the second or third time, for that matter. By the time we’ve written 100,000 words, it’s tempting to throw the climax together, slap on a closing scene, and type “the end” with a grand flourish. But doing so isn’t likely to satisfy your readers.
I never begin a novel without knowing how I want it to end. If I don’t know where I’m going, I’m not likely to get there. And yet, I almost always have to write three or four endings before I find the correct one. Stories—even intricately outlined ones—evolve as we create them. The nuanced ending we have in mind now might no longer be appropriate once we reach it. So what’s a writer to do?
Plan for more than one ending. Despite the temptations to have done with this manuscript you’ve been laboring over for so long and to find the validation in typing those two little words “the end,” don’t give in. Prepare yourself for a lengthy process. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and immediately find the right ending, but not usually.
Even if you think it’s perfect, consider a different ending. Take a moment to consider how an alternate ending mind affect the story. Maybe the first ending you write is adequate, but would something slightly different make it even more powerful? Don’t hesitate to write several endings, even if you feel the first one meets the requirements. You might discover some valuable surprises.
Run it by test audiences. Learn a lesson from the moviemaking big shots and run your story by a test reader or two. Don’t ask them to pay special attention to the ending, but when they finish, drill them on their emotional and intellectual reaction to the closing. Did your ending satisfy all seven of the points mentioned above?
Set it aside until you gain objectivity. By the time we reach the end of our journey through a story, we’ve usually lost all objectivity. The very fact that we finished a novel is enough to cast a rosy tint over the whole project. Therefore, it’s always wise to shove the manuscript into the back of the closet for a while and give yourself a chance to gain some distance from it. Later, you can come back to it with fresh eyes and hopefully see what the ending may be lacking.
In many ways, endings are one of the most fun parts of the process. By then, all the puzzle pieces are available to play with, you know your characters inside out, and you’ve got a pile of 100 pages or more to prove that you can do this. So enjoy yourself. If more than one ending is necessary, have fun playing with the options and take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy your story world just a little bit longer.
Friday, September 11, 2009
So our Friday post will be your post--your comments. Tell us: What were you doing eight years ago today?
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Essays are brief, most no more than two pages, but they are succinct and witty. Most are based off, or at least related to, a corresponding Peanuts cartoon. The cartoons, of course, steal the show. The sweet irony for which “Sparky” Schulz became famous is all too clear to the thousands of writers struggling right alongside old Snooper in his effort to produce the Great American Novel. Of course, his was meant to be about canines—but his blunders are still so very applicable!
Monday, September 7, 2009
"What is a blog tour," some of you may ask. Well, a blog tour is just like an old-fashioned book tour - where an author traveled from city to city signing books at different book stores or events - except you are traveling from blog to blog and never have to leave home or take off your comfy sheep-skin slippers.
There are companies that will, for a fee, set up a blog tour for you. They already have blogs that have agreed to blog about the books they offer, and all you have to do is hand over your money, give your information to the company, and they will handle getting that information into the hands of their bloggers.
There are two ways companies run their blog tours. Some set up the tour so that you visit a different blog once a day for several days - usually two weeks to two months. Glass Road Public Relations runs a tour like that. So does Tyora Moody.
The second common way a blog tour is run is to have a lot of blogs post about the book all on the same day. The theory behind this is that you will get a lot of interest in your book all on one day, and potentially lower your Amazon sales rank and thus attract more buyers. CFBA runs their blog tour this way.
However, if you don't want to pay to set up a blog tour, you can set one up on your own. This is what I did. I've had a lot of fun, but let me warn you that it is a lot of work to do this - that's why companies exist to do it for you. :)
Here's what I did....
First, about 6 weeks before I wanted my tour to start, I began to contact bloggers whose blogs I felt fit my target market. (A person who writes historical romance is going to want to visit different blogs than a person who writes Sci-fi.) I told the bloggers that I was in the process of setting up a blog tour for my new release and asked if they would be willing to host me on a specific day and if they would, how they would like to go about doing that.
I kept a calendar just for my blog tour and when I had emailed someone I penciled their name and blog address into the date I had asked to visit their blog. As I heard back from people (I only had one person tell me it wouldn't work for me to visit their blog on the day I asked for) I wrote them into their date in ink and made a notation of what they wanted me to do on their blog that day. (For example: Katie & Linda - http://www.authorculture.blogspot.com/ - write guest post.)
Then I started writing my posts and answering my interview questions and returning them to the respective bloggers. As I completed my portion of the post I would check off a little box to let me know I had returned everything the blogger asked for.
About a week before I was to appear on each blog, I contacted the owners to make sure they had everything they needed from me and took care of any last minute details that needed to be handled. (This also served as a gentle reminder to some who may have forgotten about little ol' me.)
Then came the fun part - the tour itself. I made sure to put up 'pointers' to each stop of the tour on as many social networking sights as I could each day. (Shoutlife, Facebook, my personal blog, Christian Writers and Twitter.) I also tried to visit each blog and interact with the commenters, not only on the day of the blog but for a couple days afterward too.
I also am giving away a free e-copy of my book at each stop. Each "contest" ran for a week and then we announced the winner. So for some weeks of my tour I needed to visit two blogs each day - one to congratulate the winner and one to interact with commenters.
If you would like to follow what I did on my tour, probably the best place to see each stop would be on my personal blog: http://www.lynnettebonner.com/blog. Start with the oldest blog tour post and work your way up and that will give you a good idea of what to expect from a tour.
Like I said, it was a lot of work, but I've had so much fun. I've met tons of new people, made some new friends, and have thoroughly enjoyed this blog tour.
Do you have any questions for me? I'd be happy to try and answer any questions you might have about blog tours and how to set them up.