Tag Archives: Edie Melson

Interview & Book Give-Away with Marie Senter and Kudos & MoGo7000 Results

Marie Senter headshotToday is the 2nd Tuesday, and I’m looking forward to talking with author Marie Senter and celebrating your successes!

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Interview with Marie Senter

Marie and I first met at the Glorieta Christian Writers’ Conference where I was her writing coach as part of the Get Published Now seminar. She brought a rough copy of the true story of the time she, as an industrial nurse, saved the life of a severely injured worker. She worked hard on the piece and turned it into a print-worthy article.

Be sure to leave a comment for Marie and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book! Don’t forget to return next week to see if you’re the winner!

Welcome to the Christian Writer’s Den, Marie! I’ll never forget how thrilled I was to meet another RN who’s also a writer.

Thank you for having me. As a nurse, I’m still asking myself Cec Murphey’s question: Am I a nurse who writes, or am I a writer who nurses? My answer is, “YES!” I love nursing, and it gives me the economic base to support my writing. Both are God-given passions.

I know what those passions feel like and agree that they’re both God-given! So how long have you been writing?

Mom and Dad would read to us six kids and encouraged us to write our own plays. I believe reading is essential to writing. The combination of memory, wild imagination and the ability to correlate the unrelated defines my style. For instance, one of my high school English assignments turned into a story read over the local 50,000 watt radio station every Christmas Eve for many years.

A high school writing assignment at Christmas time?

Yes, I used a well-known story about a baby born in a stable and placed in a manger. The difference is that my story is told by the straw in the manger with appropriate hay-seed phrases. It has been printed in two different church advent booklets. I’m told it is still part of many Christmas Eve family gatherings.

The Christmas story told by the straw? Now that’s a unique POV! Is your writing confined to short stories?TRESTLE Book One Classroom Edition

The 3-by-5 spiral notebook with my first childhood adaptations still exists. The poems I’ve written have rhyme, rhythm, and a storyline, such as “Suicide” (a college friend), and “A Woman Is…” (ideals plus reality). Twice, newspapers printed my reviews of locally produced musicals, and twice, obituaries: My first husband, diagnosed with leukemia, went heavenward 22 months after our marriage. Our story of life and his death is the lead story in I Believe in Heaven, the recent Cec Murphey/Twila Belk book. Five years later, I wrote a second obituary when a blood clot broke loose, and I became a widow again. Chicken Soup for the Soul printed the story I adapted when my sister encountered breast cancer.

What writing projects have you written and what are you working on now?

Following the example of a petite, gifted author from South Carolina who mentored me at my first big writers’ conference, and with encouragement to “write what you know,” I am polishing Book Three of a mystery trilogy for kids. My mentor wrote of a girl from a loving family who managed to get into and out of situations that skirted disaster. My adaptation is the Trestle over No Name Creek series set in any small town, l960. Junior high kids form a gang and survive “normal for l960” society, culture, and grown-up attitudes. Once chapter one is absorbed, the next chapters build until the very last pages answer the mystery: In Book One, was old man Frank’s death an accident, or was their dark-skinned old friend’s death a murder?  Book Two combines a reclusive old man and a l960’s delinquent with the Meanderthallers in the middle. Book Three―read it and “go figure.” Written for school kids of all ages, the series has no test questions. Instead, the back of each book has an insert with chapter-by-chapter Research Projects. Example: “What’s a trestle?”

This sounds like an interesting series for kids. You must have had a wise mentor! (Hahahaha!) I’m thrilled to see Trestle Over No Name Creek: Book Two has just been released in Kindle version. Congrats!

And our last question: Would you tell us the quick version of your road to publication of your novels?

three books illusAll the writers’ conferences I attended, the publishers, agents, and interviews resulted in zero interest. So once again, d.D.i.–direct Divine intervention–stepped in. It came in the form of a local man who had survived a heart attack, had his books rejected, who then studied Publishing101, and formed his own publishing house. He walked up to me at a local writers’ group and said he wanted to publish my book. After prayer and research, I accepted. My editor is a lifetime Bible teacher friend who has “caught my voice” and shares her gifts of placing punctuation where I do dot-dot-dot.

Yes, I’m very familiar with your dot-dot-dot form of punctuation. :-) We writers are thankful for our editors, aren’t we? Thank you again for being with us today, Marie. Blessings as you continue Book Three of your series!

And readers, be sure to leave a comment for Marie and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book, but don’t forget to check back next week to see if you win!

Bio: Writing since grade school, Marie has produced stories, poems, books, and has been published in school and local newspapers. In college, five of her class writing assignments ended up in print. As a professional nurse, she has written, done art work, and designed curriculum for health topics, aiding fellow nurses and other staff, prn. In addition, she has taught child development seminars for child care workers’ accreditation. Adding medical worker in clinics and hospice to speaker, artist, and teacher, Marie continues to serve with God-given abilities.

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Our Kudos are Short and Sweet This Month, but It’s a BIG One!

Edie Melson has just signed a contract with Worthy Publishing for her newest book for military families: While My Soldier Serves: Prayers for Those With a Loved One in the Military. The publication launch date is July 4, 2015.

Congratulations to my long-time writing buddy, Edie!

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Who Qualified for a November Entry in the 2014 MoGo7000 Challenge?

Congrats to these four hard-writing writers who wrote at least 7000 new words on a book project in the mogo7000 logomonth of November:

#23: Tim Suddeth – 8,483 words
#24: Glenda Mills – 7,200 words
#25: Susan Baganz – 64,746 words
#26: Joan Hall – 20,000 words

Would you believe these four writers wrote 100,429 words in one month! Congratulations, writers!

And readers, if you want to learn how to enter the challenge, simply check out the MoGo7000 Challenge page. You have 1 more opportunity to reach a monthly goal and win an entry before the $100 drawing in January!

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Well, that does it for another December Tuesday. I hope today’s post encouraged you to do what it takes to reach your goals in 2015.

Christmas blessings as we celebrate the Gift and the Giver!

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…You Wouldn’t Ask Me To Do That, Would You?

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Today’s Parting Words From The WORD is a rerun from March, 2012. I ran across it as I was searching to see if I had addressed a specific verse in a prior post. But when I found this one and read it, I was almost moved to tears…again.

I vividly remember writing the post, and even though more than two years have passed since writing it, it still stirs me from the deepest part of me.

On a day when we remember our freedoms and rights in America, are we willing to give up what we want for what He has for us to do?

What will He ask me to lay down? Will I be faithful to do it?

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Most of us here are writers and speakers. It’s not only what we do, but it also cuts to the core of who we are. We often say we write or speak because we have to, that we feel God has given us the ability to communicate so we can share Him, the cure for a lost and dying world.

This past Sunday morning, my friend and writing sister, Edie Melson, posted her compelling poem, A Divine Obsession, in which she states a repeated refrain, “I write because I must.” And to that I say, “Amen, sister!” I read Edie’s beautiful post Sunday morning, took comfort in the truth of her words and God’s blessing on me as a writer, and headed to out the door to worship.

In Sunday School that morning we studied 1 John 2 and I was reminded again that God called John and Paul and Peter and James to be writers and communicators, just as He has called you and me. Of course, I’m NOT saying our words are the inspired Word of God, but I am saying He put in us everything we need to be able to spread His Great Name through the written and spoken word.

Praise and worship time brought me to that place where I want nothing more than to be in His presence, seeking Him and His will. Then during Sunday morning worship, our visiting pastor, Russ Chambers of Hingepoint Church in CA, challenged us with a powerful message about the cross.

I had had a great morning, starting with Edie’s vivid poem about writing, straight to Sunday School and the reminder that God had called me to write and speak, just as He called the scribes of His Word, right on to anointed worship before the Lord, and then to Russ’ message, to which I could nod my head and my heart in agreement.

But then Russ said, “Our personal preferences have to die.”

In that very moment, my writing and speaking and teaching and singing and acting flashed before me. A catch gripped my heart and mind. Surely He would never ask me to lay THAT down on the altar…would He? After all, He’s called me, gifted me, ordained me if you will, to be a communicator of the Truth of His Great Name!

But…what if…my goodness, I can hardly say it…what if He asked me to lay it all down?

I admit, I’ve had fleeting thoughts along those lines through the years, but it’s usually just that–a fleeting thought. After all, why would God choose us…only to later UNchoose us to be writers and speakers? But this time the possibility was real, more urgent, more in the moment.

Even as I write this, I can hardly wrap my mind around the concept. But as one who loves the Creator and all it means to call Him Lord, I have to accept that the day could come when He says,”It’s over.”

It scares me how much that thought scares me.

Oh, I can speak in my spiritual voice and say yes, we must be willing to lay everything down for Him and His sake. And I believe it with as much belief as my heart can muster. But if I’m honest–which I’m trying to be here–I hope He doesn’t ask that of me. The truth is, I don’t want to lay it down.

After all, as Edie so brilliantly wrote, “I write because I must.”

But as God clearly showed me this weekend, I cannot let my preference for and my joy in writing or speaking or acting or singing or teaching determine what I will or won’t do with my life.

I have to remember I’m merely a sinner, saved by the blood and sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. The time He has given me to be a writer or speaker or anything else could very well come to an end. But that wouldn’t mean my life as a useful tool of God would be over.

It would simply be the beginning of another new thing.

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” Isaiah 30:21 NIV

I pray God’s blessing on the work of your hands and your hearts…regardless of what He has for you–and me–to do,

Vonda

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Writer’s Headlines: Writing Opportunities Just for You, Gideon Intern Program, & Who Won Linda Gilden’s Book?

newspapersHello, friends! First up–Writing Opportunities Just for you!

Here are some great opportunities I’ve collected just for you! (And thanks to Edie Melson for her contribution to this list, too!)

Remember to study the publication before submitting and follow the guidelines. Otherwise, you’re just wasting their time and yours!

1.  From Jennifer Hallmark: Have you ever been overwhelmed by gratefulness over an act of kindness by a friend, family member, or organization? One you’d like to share with others? We have openings on our blog, The Most Important Thing. “Monday Meet” consists of a 500-700 word story sharing your experience. Please include photos or pictures if you’d like. We also need any links you’d like to include. Since the focus of these stories is on others, we’ll include no bios, headshots, or book information except links. Please reply to jenlhall63 (at) gmail (dot) com.

2.  Inspire a Fire blog is always looking for posts!

3.  Alaska Magazine writing guidelines

4.  Christianity Today writing guidelines

5.  Relevant Magazine writing guidelines

6.  Rejoice Magazine: Writing guidelines for Devotions and Divine Touch unsolicited stories and poetry guidelines.

7.  Utmost Christian Writers Poetry Guidelines and Utmost Christian Writers Poetry ARTICLE Guidelines

8.  Redbook Magazine Writers’ Guidelines

9.  Toastmasters Magazine writing guidelines

10. Okay, I know some of you are bird watchers and photographers, so here’s your chance! Bird Watcher’s Digest guidelines for artists, photographers, and writers

11. Enrichment Journal Magazine writing guidelines

12. Family Tree MagazineI looked up my name and found out I had died! :-) Here’s Family Tree Magazine Writing Guidelines.

13. Calling all our Kentucky friends. Do you read Kentucky Monthly? Kentucky Monthly Magazine writing guidelines.

Okay, I think that will do it for this month. Be sure to let me know if your work is accepted. We’ll want to celebrate with you!

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Gideon Interns 2011

Gideon Interns 2011

Calling all 16-18yo teens interested in film, television, acting, directing, and more!

TEENS ages 16 – 18 who’d like to work in FILM & TELEVISION, Gideon offers an annual intern program where you learn from and work with the top Christian filmmakers from across the nation. Here are pics from a music video shoot that just wrapped down in Orlando where many Gid Interns were on hand to help: Garett Sutton (Gideon 2012-13), Brittany Mann (G11-12), Alyssa Cook (G11-13)

Gideon faculty involved: Kyle Saylors (director of video and of the Gideon Film Track), Katrina Cook KatzKasting (casting director for both video and Gideon), and Lynda Stein (AD for video and Gideon Kid’s Track Director)

Please share with any TEENS interested in FILM & TELEVISION. Deadline for applications is May 31. All questions can be directed to Gideon Intern Directors Vonda Skinner Skelton & Sarah Anne Sumpolec. http://gideonfilmfestival.com/News/Teen%20Intern%20Program/index.html

Linda Gilden Called to Write cover~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Who won Linda Gilden’s book?

And the winner is…Gwyn Hubbert! Gwyn, be sure to contact me with your snail mail address and Linda will get your book right out to you!

And for those of you who didn’t win, I know you want a copy of Linda’s new book, Called to Write: 7 Principles to Become a Writer on Mission, so I’ve created this link to take you straight to Amazon! :-)

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Well, that does it for another week of Writer’s Headlines. See you next time!

Happy writing,

Vonda

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Parting Words From The WORD…I Can Do It All

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

Laughing Jesus by Robert Wilson, Sr.

(Thanks to Edie Melson for allowing me to repost this much-needed message while I’m in AZ with my mother. I admit, it’s a message I need to hear again and again!)

I Can Do It All, by Edie Melson

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

This was one of the first Bible verses I ever memorized. It’s a heady verse for someone like me. Someone who loves to say yes for two reason— the sheer joy of being involved and the fear others wouldn’t like me if I couldn’t perform. It was a dangerous combination. But I truly believed this verse gave me the ability to say yes to everything, and God would provide a way.

Fast forward several years, and the price of saying yes began to take it’s toll on my mind and body. I no longer lived a life of joy and victory. Instead I was a slave of over commitment. And I finally broke. It wasn’t pretty. Diagnosed with severe depression and several other mental health challenges it took me months to recover.

It was a painful lesson, and one I had to learn to ever be able to move forward. When forced to give up everything, I thought I’d never get to do anything fun again and that everyone would dislike me. (Stupid I know, but it’s really what I believed.) Slowly I began to realize God’s plan didn’t involve me saying yes to every good activity or need within my community.

I also discovered that when I said yes to something that wasn’t intended for me, I was in the way. I’d taken a task from someone else and denied them the joy of obedience. I’d become a roadblock in the journey God had for them.

I’ve also learned not to equate a need with a call from God. By that I mean just because I see a hole that needs filling it’s not my job to jump in. God has proven perfectly capable of providing for the needs of those around me.

Now I’m living a much more balanced and joyful life. I’m still not perfect, there are days I just can’t say no. But He’s shown me that the things He’s given me weigh no more than a feather, no matter how labor intensive. But when I pick up a job or a burden on my own, no matter how small the time commitment, it weighs on me like a ton of bricks. That in itself makes me wary about saying yes without hearing from God.

To sum it all up:

I’ve learned that I really can do it all…as long as I’m not trying to do everything.

Today I encourage you to look at the balance in your life. Do you need to lay something down that’s intended for someone else? Are you crying out for rest because you’re carrying a load not meant for you? There is rest and peace, all you have to do is let go.

Edie Melson, originally posted on The Write Conversation 4-14-13

 

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Norma Gail, and Writing Opps for YOU!

Norma Gail - headshotWhat a joy to celebrate with Norma Gail as her debut novel, Land of My Dreams, releases TODAY from Lighthouse of the Carolinas! Be sure to leave a comment for Norma Gail and you’ll be in the drawing for a signed copy of her book!

Welcome to The Christian Writer’s Den, Norma Gail. First of all, please tell us how you started writing.

I have always had a vivid imagination, and wrote stories from childhood and all through college. My degree is in nursing, and with marriage, a job, and children, I didn’t write much for about 20 years.

When I broke my right foot and ended up in a wheelchair, I needed something to keep me occupied. Land of My Dreams is the result. I began attending writer’s conferences which helped me learn and gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of people who have helped me along the way.

I have always felt compelled to write: poetry, letters to the editor, devotionals to open the Bible study I lead, and stories for my kids about their adoptions. I wanted to see my name on a book. Never give up on your dream.

This may come as a surprise to new writers, but you and I know the writing life isn’t easy. What was the greatest problem you faced in writing this book?

It was challenging to write about a country I had only visited for two weeks and couldn’t return to for more research. It didn’t matter when I was just making up a story, but when I became serious, I needed to be accurate.

I spent hours researching, read everything I could find, watched movies and documentaries, listened to music, and made a screen-saver with over 400 photos, and a Scottish-Gaelic dictionary on-line, and also sites with slang and common terms. I found a wonderful writer and editor, through the ACFW romance loop. Amy Drown lived in Scotland and was willing to read my book for accuracy.

It must have worked because it convinced one editor I must have lived there!

Well, that’s a confirmation for sure! What do you want your readers to gain by reading your book?

Of course I want to entertain. As a Bible study leader and devotional writer, I have seen a lot of peopleNorma Gil cover struggle with trusting God when hard times come, and I have struggled myself. It is helpful to use real-life situations to illustrate biblical principles.

Good fiction can teach valuable spiritual lessons. People who would never attend a Bible study will read a novel, and they can learn how to live the Christian life. A novel is a very non-threatening way to introduce someone to the gospel or get a spiritual message across. It might open someone open up to talk about things they might not otherwise discuss.

I totally agree, Norma Gail. And I believe it applies to every area of creativity. So, how did you come up with the idea for Land of My Dreams?

Scotland has intrigued me since I discovered that one of my great grandmothers was from Scotland. My husband and I spend two weeks there for our 30th anniversary and I felt at home from the moment our plane landed in Edinburgh.

We met a woman from Phoenix who married a Scot while in the Peace Corps. It made me wonder what it would be like to transplant your life to another country. My husband’s family immigrated to the US from The Netherlands, so I knew a little about it.

I loved the green fields with their sheep and dry-stone walls. One night I dreamed about a sheep farm, and the idea began to come together.

Tell us something about the book.

Land of My Dreams is a sweet romance about two people who have been hurt by life and no longer trust in God.

Alone and betrayed, American professor, Bonny Bryant longs for a haven of peace. She accepts a position at a small Christian college in Fort William, Scotland, craving escape from her painful past. The passionate love which develops when she meets fellow professor and sheep farmer, Kieran MacDonell, is something she never anticipated.

Kieran harbors a deep anger toward God in the face of his own devastating grief. When Bonny returns to New Mexico for her best friend’s wedding, her former fiancé reenters her life. Four thousand miles away, Kieran’s loneliness draws him to an attractive former student.

How will Bonny decide between her two rivals? Can they set aside the past to make way for a future?

Land of My Dreams spans the distance between New Mexico’s high desert mountains and the misty Scottish Highlands with a timeless story of overwhelming grief, undying love, and compelling faith.

My goodness, this sounds like a book we’d all love! Thank you for sharing your story with us, Norma Gail!

And readers, remember, if you’d like to be in the drawing for a free copy of Land of My Dreams, simply leave a comment for Norma Gail and you could be the winner! But you must be sure to come back next week to find out. :-)

And for those who want to go ahead and get your own copy of Norma Gail’s book, here’s the Amazon link to Land of My Dreams. Happy reading!

BIO: I live in the mountains of New Mexico with my husband of 37 years. We have two adult children and a lovely daughter-in-law. I love mountains, and enjoy tackling 4×4 trails in my Jeep. I am a former RN and homeschool/soccer mom who loves family research, history, and Scotland. My passion is leading women’s Bible studies, and I have done so for eighteen years. My devotionals, poetry have appeared at ChristianDevotions.us, the Stitches Thru Time blog, and in “The Secret Place.” I belong to American Christian Fiction Writers, FaithWriters, and the newly formed New Mexico Christian Novelists. My website, www.normagail.com, includes a weekly devotional blog, daily scriptures, poetry, and will soon have a writer’s blog.

To connect with Norma and find out more about her writings and ministry, you can email her at NormaGailwrites@gmail.com. She also has a Pinterest board for Land of My Dreams where readers can find photos that helped inspire the book: http://pinterest.com/normagailth/boards.
Website: http://www.normagail.com
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Norma-GailAuthor/725237467493500.
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7874459.Norma_Gail
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Norma_Gail
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQbZIoC_JSE

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newspapersAnd Here Are Some Writing Opportunities I’ve Found Just For YOU!

Thanks to Edie Melson for sharing many of these opportunities with us today. Be sure to check out Edie’s award-winning writing blog, The Write Conversation!

1.  Inspire a Fire is always looking for articles. Here are Inspire a Fire submission guidelines

2.  Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest: You must hurry–deadline is May 1, 2014!

3THE DREAM QUEST ONE POETRY & WRITING CONTEST is open to anyone who loves expressing their innermost thoughts and feelings into the beautiful literary art of poetry and/or writing a story that is worth telling everyone. Guidelines: (1) Write a poem, thirty lines or fewer on any subject, form or style. And/or (2) Write a short story five pages maximum length, single or double line spacing, on any subject or theme, fiction or non-fiction. Multiple entries are accepted. Prizes: Writing First Prize is $500; Second: $250; Third: $100. Poetry First Prize: $250; Second: $125; Third: $50. Entry fees: $5 per poem/$10 per story. Postmark deadline: JULY 31, 2014. How to enter, visit: http://www.dreamquestone.com

4.  Adirondack Life: Writers’ guidelines for Adirondack Life

5.  Ladies’ Home Journal: How to write for Ladies’ Home Journal.

6.  Highlights MagazineThey’re always looking for submissions!

7.  Educational Markets for Children’s Writers: LOTS of markets listed here for children’s writers!

8.  Parents Magazine is always looking for writers

9.  Free Spirit PublishingTheir mission is to provide children and teens with the tools they need to succeed in life and to make a difference in the world. They publish high-quality nonfiction books and learning materials for children and teens, parents, educators, counselors, and others who live and work with young people.

10. Reader’s Digest: “If you are a writer and would like to submit a great article proposal, email us at articleproposals@rd.com.”

11. Go Galavanting, a magazine for women travelers. Read Submission guidelines for Go Galavanting here.

12. In Site Magazine: InSite, the bimonthly flagship publication of Christian Camp and Conference Association (CCCA), seeks to inform and inspire professionals serving in the Christian camp and conference community. InSite Magazine writers guidelines here.

So…now that you have these guidelines before you, what are you going to do about it? :-)

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Well, that does it for another day at the Christian Writer’s Den. Thanks for stopping by and sharing the joy of writing with me!

Happy writing!

Vonda

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Learn How to Earn a Living as a Freelance Writer–Part One

Photo courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos/StuartMiles

I’m in Alaska for a few weeks, but don’t worry, I have a great line-up of guest posts for you!

Some of you know that Edie Melson and I met at the 2001 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference as unpublished writers, and now she’s the co-director of that conference! How’s that for evidence of how hard work pays off? Be sure to read Edie’s bio below, but let me just say here, she is well-respected and well-known in the writing world.

This article is a reprint of Part One of an eight-part series on freelance writing, originally posted on Edie’s popular blog, The Write Conversation. At the end of this post, be sure to follow the link to Edie’s blog, scroll down and you’ll find links to ALL EIGHT POSTS! Hoo-wee!

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Writer’s Headlines: Kudos and MoGo7000 Totals

Okay, I know it’s officially the 1st Thursday and not the 2nd, but because I’m heading to Alaska on Tuesday, I need to go ahead and get this Kudos and MoGo7000 post up. Sorry if it causes any confusion!

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There are only a few kudos to report this month. (I think the change in schedule confused everyone!)

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The Fastest Route to Publication…It’s as Easy as 1-2-3!

Photo courtesy of BillLongshaw/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Some of you have heard my story of writing a poem in first grade. You know that in high school I worked on the newspaper staff and was editor of the literary journal. Some have heard me say that by the time I was in college I knew that one day I would write a book…and then the next thing I knew, I was forty.

At that point, I figured my life was half over. If I was going to write a book, I’d better get started!

But do you know the rest of the story?

I sat down and wrote a book. It only took me about three months to dash from start to finish, but I was confident it would be the next great American novel for kids. I remember the day I dropped the first batch of ten envelopes in the mailbox. “Oh my. What am I going to do when five publishers want my book at the same time? Oh, my!” (I’m dead serious. That’s exactly what I said.)

But instead of a bidding war, the submissions received 10 rejections before the stamps were dry. (Yes, those were the days when you had to actually lick the stamps, too!)

The years came and went and I continued to recycle that book over and over and over, confident that I’d eventually find an editor who had sense enough to see what a gold mine my book would be for his or her publishing house. I did this for at least 5 years, never considering that perhaps, just maybe, I needed to learn something about writing.

In my rush to see my name in print, it took me 7 years, lots of conferences, and lots of rejections to dash across the publication finish line. It took 10 years to have a published book!

I had a simple 1-2-3- plan for publication: 1)feel the urge, 2)write the book, and 3)collect a big fat advance.

Oh, if only it were that easy! For most of us, successful writing is a tortoise event, not a hare one. A cross-country event, not a sprint.

If you want to write a book and then spend 10 years trying to get it published, that’s fine. After all, it’s your book, you can do whatever you want. But if you really want to cross the finish line as a writer, here are the 1-2-3′s to help you get there faster.

1.  Take the time to learn the craft. If you don’t get anything from this post, I hope you get this: There are no shortcuts. I once heard bestselling author, T. Davis Bunn, say something like, “Would someone decide he wants to be a concert pianist, learn to bang out Chopsticks, and then expect to play Carnegie Hall? Would someone decide to be an artist, slap a little paint on a canvas, and then expect a buyer to pay her for it? Of course not! But that’s exactly what we do when we simply sit down, write a book, and think it’s going to be sold.”

So, instead of jumping straight into a book, start at the beginning. Find a local writer’s group, take a class at the community college, and attend writing conferences. Read instructional books and follow instructional writing blogs like this one. (You could sit and read the archives of Writing Instruction here and have your own writer’s conference right in the comfort of your own home!) Learn the techniques of good writing, apply them to your work, and get valid feedback from others who know what to look for. This doesn’t mean you can’t be working on your book from the beginning, but you need to be learning the craft in the process.

2.  Start with short pieces. Many of us start out with a big dream to write and sell a book. And it could happen. Possibly. But your chances for publication increase if you start out small by submitting articles and stories. And the chances of publishing a book are much greater if you’ve already proven you can write publishable short pieces. And the good news is, I post writing opportunities right here on The Christian Writer’s Den once a month, listing places that are looking for writers.

3.  Write a blog. Yes, writing a blog can help you in your race to the writing finish line. Good blogging requires discipline, writing skills, and promotion. All this will help you build a platform while building your writing paper trail. A blog rarely leads to a book contract, although it could happen. But the better goal is to use that time to make connections while learning to write well. Visit Edie Melson’s blog for great posts about blogging and social media.

So there you have it, the 1-2-3 of writing for publication. Follow these steps and you could see your name in print much sooner than you think!

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Who Won Edie Melson’s Book?

It’s Cyn Rogalski! Hoo-wee! Cyn, all you need to do it Contact Me with your mailing address and your book will be on its way!

And if you didn’t win, don’t worry. You can get your own copy of Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers right here! This is a must-have for every writer!

Happy writing, all!

Vonda

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Interview & Book Give-Away with Author Edie Melson

Yes, you read that right! My friend and frequent cohort in crime, Edie Melson, is with us today to share her new social networking book for…get this…writers! Hoo-wee!

And the good news is, it’s a social media book even I can understand! :-)

You could win your own copy of Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers just by leaving a comment this week. Be sure to check back next week to see if you’re the winner.

But enough chit chat, let’s get started! Edie, you seem to have a very different approach to social media than most marketing experts I read. Can you explain your thoughts?

I approach social media from the writer’s point of view. I don’t have a degree in advertising or marketing. Because of that, I’m very protective of the time a writer has to actually write. To me, social media is the means to an end—the way to develop relationships with readers, other writers, and industry professionals. It’s not the way I earn my living.

How did you get started in social networking?

It came about because I got my dream job. I was hired as the managing editor of a Christian men’s magazine with a target audience of college age males. When I took the job, it didn’t take me long to realize ninety percent of their interaction happened online, through social media. I had to either come up to speed on social networking to the point where I could lead a team or quit. I got busy and learned the ins and outs of social media.

When did you decide to start sharing your information with others?

I first began sharing what I’d learned with our local writers group, then online on my blog. I got an immediate, positive response so I just kept going. I hadn’t realized it consciously, but being someone who didn’t grow up in the digital era gave others hope that they could also conquer this new medium.

How did this particular book come about?

Back in 2011, the publisher of my devotional for military families, Eddie Jones, asked me to do a small eBook on social media for writers. I was busy with a lot of other projects, but agreed to send him my notes that I taught from to see if there was anything useful. Almost before I could catch my breath he had an eBook up on Amazon.

Social Media Marketing for Writers was super short, only about 28 pages, and sold for 99 cents. It took it less than a month to hit number one in its category on Amazon. And it stayed in the top five until we pulled it in August of 2012.

Why did you decide to take it down?

As you may have noticed, anything digital changes drastically over the course of a year. Most of the how-to information in the book was no longer applicable. The principals I taught about social media and blogging still worked, but a lot of that little book was strictly how-to. For example, how to set up a Facebook account, or a build a blog on Blogger. All the interfaces of those platforms had changed, so the information needed to be rewritten.

Tell us about your new book.

Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers is a much more comprehensive book. It’s published by Susan May Warren at My Book Therapy. The largest portion of it teaches the principals of social networking. I include information about how to grow a blog, how to organize your social media, and which social networking platforms are important for writers. I also include tips on how to organize your social media life so you spend the majority of your time writing.

It sounds like this one won’t be obsolete in a year.

Absolutely not. I’ve worked closely with Susie to develop this into a book that will be helpful for years to come, and as well as immediately practical. For example, after each short article there is a list of Connect! Activities. These are designed to give the reader an opportunity to practice what they’ve just learned.

So how can we get the book?

Connections is available right now in the print version through the My Book Therapy website. (http://www.mybooktherapy.com/magento/connections.html). Mid March it will be available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.

Edie Melson Bio:

Edie Melson is the author of four books, a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. She’s also the social media columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and social media coach for My Book Therapy. Connect with her through Twitter,  Facebook, and her popular blog for writers, www.thewriteconversation.com

Thanks for joining us today, Edie. And readers, don’t forget to leave a comment. You could be the winner!

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A Movie of Words & A Quick Contest!

Photo courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What type of writer are you? Some, like my friend Edie Melson, hear the dialogue. Others, like me, see a movie. Here’s the way I see it.

Every book…every chapter…every scene…every page…every paragraph…every sentence…every word we write should transition into a movie onscreen. If we want to write compelling stories, the reader must be able to see the movements, hear the words, and feel the emotion, whether we’re writing mystery, romance, or historical fiction.

In order to make my writing real, I take the words on my paper and project them onto the screen of my mind and then ask, “What kind of movie do I see from only those words?” The problem is, as the writer of the words, my mind inserts lots of information I haven’t actually put on the paper. My mind can see a pretty good scene, complete with all the senses. But I need to see what the reader sees.

If I’ve done a good job, you should be able to see the setting, feel the emotion, and smell the air. The characters should come alive on the screen as you watch them stand, sit, and move around the set.

If I’ve not done a good job, I have plain black and white stills, stuck in a dusty, one-dimensional photo album.

Here’s an example of a boring photo:

An old black woman came into the room. She had a nice voice.

Here’s how Christa Parrish created a movie with words in her novel, Home Another Way.

She looked older than her one hundred years, if that was possible. Her skin, the color of cinnamon sticks hung loosely over her skull, as if she had borrowed it from someone much larger, or bought it off a clearance rack. Age spots clung to her cheeks like leeches. Filmy, sightless eyes peered out from between rheum-caked eyelids, and her earlobes hung nearly to her chin. But her voice was a lullaby of fireflies and snickerdoodles. My tense muscles relaxed under her words.

Oh my goodness! Can you see and hear this dear woman? Now that’s how it’s done! Thank you, Christa!

Okay, readers, how about a quick exercise? I’ve written some black and white stills below. Would you take a few minutes to rewrite them and make them into a movie of words? And then would you post one or more of them as comments?

The winning comment wins a downloadable workshop of your choice from my Store.  :-)

1.  I went across the street and went into the store.

2.  When my daddy came home, the dogs got excited.

3.  She sat down and got to work.

Now friends, time to work your magic. Let’s see you turn one or more of these boring black and whites into a passage worthy of an Academy Award! (You don’t have to do them all. You can do one, two, or all three!)

 

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