How to Get The Most from A Critique Group

NOTE: These tips also work for individual critiques. Check out The Critique Circle at FaithWriters. :)

How to Get the Most Out of a Critique/Critique Group

By Suzanne Hartmann

1. Realize that your writing isn’t perfect.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised. You have spent so much time and poured so much effort into your writing. You have read up on the craft of writing. You have revised and polished your work until it shines. What can your new critique partners possibly find wrong with your writing except minor typos? It’s easier than you think to fall into the trap of thinking that there’s not much wrong with your writing.

The truth is that you submit your writing for critique to find your mistakes, not to receive affirmation that your writing is perfect. Yes, there will be some affirmation and encouragement along the way; we all need that too, but the main reason we participate in a critique group is to find our mistakes and learn how to fix them. Your critique partners will point out the imperfections you are unable to see.

2. Understand that the people in your group want to help you.
Receiving critiques can be hard, especially when you are a new writer and receive critique after critique that points out flaws in your work. It can be tough. But your partners are not trying to make you feel bad or putting you down to be mean. They point out the flaws in your writing for your benefit.

Sometimes it can be as hard on critiquers to point out something they see wrong as it is to receive the information. Sometimes they worry that you will take it wrong or that you will hate them or that it will put you over the edge and make you want to quit. Generally, they will risk being hurt by your reaction because they know the information is for your benefit and that changing your writing to fix the problem will make your work better.

Yes, critiques can hurt, but It is much better for a critique partner to point out your mistakes than a potential agent or editor somewhere down the line…in a rejection letter (if they take the time to explain why they are rejecting your work).

Continue Reading…

Comments Off

Marketing for Christian Authors

Marketing your books can be scary, and difficult, for writers – perhaps especially Christian ones. Well, Sarah Bolme knows all about it. In fact, she wrote an award-winning book on the subject – a book that she is offering to FaithWriters’ members for a discount (click here for details).

Read on to learn about Sarah’s journey, her award-winning Your Guide to Marketing Books in the Christian Marketplace (with a foreward by Sally Stuart), and marketing tips you can use now!

JOANNE SHER: Hi Sarah, and thanks for talking with us. Tell me about your experience with publishing and marketing Christian books.

SARAH BOLME: I remember from the time I was in high school, that one of the goals for my life was to be a published author. I’m not sure why I had that goal, since I never really was into writing—but very into reading. I had my first article published in a professional journal after college. Later, I had some colleagues encourage me to get a curriculum I had developed on anger management published.SarahPic

Thus, I began the process of attempting to get a book published. Not knowing much about what I was doing, I mailed my manuscript to numerous publishers, received many rejection letters, and one acceptance letter. One acceptance letter is all it takes. My first two books were published by a traditional publishing house that paid royalties.

After my first child was born, I was frustrated because I could not find board books for babies that talked about Jesus. Most were on Old Testament stories. My husband and I came up with a set of four board books on Jesus for infants and toddlers and attempted to find a publisher. When we were unable to secure a publishing contract, my husband suggested that we self-publish the books. From there, CREST Publications was born, and Baby Bible Board Books: Stories of Jesus was published in 2003.

Continue Reading…

Comments Off

Proactive and Reactive Scenes

Proactive and Reactive Scenes

By Randy Ingermanson

It sounds horribly old-fashioned to say this, but once a month, I go to a critique group with real, live writers.

These days, it seems that most writers communicate electronically. That’s all fine, but it’s just more fun to get together in person, so we do it.

One of the most common questions I ask after somebody reads a scene is, “What happened in this scene?”

Something needs to happen in every scene. Otherwise, there’s no reason for it to exist. Something needs to change. The lead character for the scene needs to be better off or worse off at the end of the scene than at the beginning.

There are two common patterns that scenes fall into—Proactive Scenes and Reactive Scenes. Of these, Proactive Scenes are more common, but all novelists need to know how to write both.

Proactive Scenes
Proactive scenes are goal-oriented. The lead character for the scene is called the point-of-view character (POV character) and she wants to achieve some goal by the end of the scene.

But fiction feeds on conflict, so there is some reason your POV character can’t get what she wants. Maybe another character gets in the way. Maybe it’s something inanimate. Maybe this character is her own worst enemy, and she’s keeping herself from reaching her goal.

Continue Reading…

Comments Off

Casting God

Casting God
By Sydney Avey

In A Praying Life, author Paul E. Miller suggests that we consider carefully who we think we are talking to when we pray. I often cast God in benign roles that focus on what He can do for me. Example: God is my boss, and if I serve him well he will give me good things.

When praying about my writing life, I consider the seeds I am sowing on the path that meanders before me. Laying the seed before God, I entertained thoughts that if I just keep trying different things -  a new market, a different writer’s group, a daily blog, a writer’s conference – one day God might say “Cha ching! You have chosen Door Number Two! You win!” Then I realize that I have just cast God as a game show host.

God is not a boss to please or a game to win. Daily I must remind myself of who I’m talking to — the great I Am — holy, righteous, lover, judge, creator, sustainer. That casts a different light on my role in this relationship.

Holy God, I offer up these characters I have created and ask that You, the creator and sustainer of life, find worlds for them to live in. May they give you pleasure. May they amuse and inspire readers. Amen.

**Sydney Avey writes and blogs in the Sierra Nevada Foothills.

Article Source: WRITER

Comments Off

“Was” Killin’

“Was” Killin’

By Linda Yezak

Sometimes you can’t get around using “was,” but more often than not, it’s a sign of the author’s laziness. The verb is sluggish, blah, boring. It lacks pizzazz.

It’s time to whack it out of use as much as possible and replace it with active verbs and, if necessary, rewrite entire sentences to make the sentences more active.

We’ve talked on this site before about using past tense vs what I’ll call “continuous” past for this post. Continuous past means something was in progress, “he was stealing my notes,” instead of saying it had already happened: “he stole my notes.” When you’re using “was” as part of the verb tense, you can’t help it.

But usually, you can.

The house was on a lake-side lot about fifty miles away, but I was in my super-sonic, souped-up Jaguar and could make the distance in less than five minutes. Sure enough, in four point two minutes I was exiting the car and walking up the drive. The door was unlocked when I got to it, and I went in. The house was empty, so I made myself at home in the kitchen.

I was pouring the sauce over the spaghetti when she walked in. She was stunning in her navy power suit, and her hair was swept up beautifully. It was enough to make me stop what I was doing to watch her glide into the room.

Two paragraphs, ten uses of “was.” Ouch.

Continue Reading…

1 Comment

Free Reads for Reviews Member Award Program Ending Soon!

Need a good book to read? Want to help out some up and coming authors? Want a chance to win a cash prize? FaithWriters members have a great opportunity to do all of these things – but time is running out (for the cash prize, anyway).

Do you know what one of the most valuable things is to published authors these days? What can boost sales and get more recognition in the world of books?

Book reviews – that’s what. With the plethora of different book options out there, reviews on sites like Amazon can draw people to books, and good reviews can encourage folks to purchase.  And FaithWriters has a program to help authors get those reviews – AND benefit the readers as well.

FaithWriters’ Free Reads for Reviews is a way for authors to accumulate reviews (and readers to get free books) to help with sales and marketing. Just go to the FaithWriters bookstore and check out the Free Reads for Reviews program. There are over six dozen books by FaithWriters members available in this program, from fiction to self-help to Bible studies and more. Simply look at the list, contact the author through private message, and he or she will send you a copy. Read the book, leave an HONEST review (doesn’t have to be positive) at their Amazon page or elsewhere if applicable.

But that isn’t the only benefit to readers! FaithWriters has a special incentive going on now through the end of June. The person who reviews the most books between the beginning of this year and midnight June 30, 2014 will receive $150 – and everyone who reviews any book during that time will get their name put in a hat for each book reviewed, with one person winning $100. See this link for details and how to make your review “count.”

And if you’re an author and want your book involved, check out this link.

What book will you review first? It’s not too late to start!

Comments Off

Raise Your Bar

Raise Your Bar

by Jennifer Slattery

It seems everyone wants to be a writer. And who wouldn’t? You work from home, plan your own schedule, and live in a fantasy world much of the time. But of the tens of thousands (perhaps even millions?) around the globe longing to pen that first novel, only a small percentage will actually follow through. Even fewer will see their work in print. Peruse agent and editor blogs long enough and you’ll soon learn why this is true.

Most editors publish one out of every one hundred submissions.Some even less than that. Which means, if you want to succeed, you need to rise to the 99th percentile. A daunting task, I know. Like anything else, you won’t get there by accident, or by twiddling your thumbs. If you want to be part of that top one percent, you’ll need to work hard, when others rest. Persevere when others give up. Improve when others remain stagnant. Unless you view writing as a hobby, you’ll need to approach it with intentionality and determination. For me, that equates to setting daily, weekly, monthly, and annual goals.

At the risk of using a cliché…. They say “Shoot for the stars and you may hit the moon. Shoot for the ground and you’ll hit it every time.” Here’s how this plays out in writing. Set a daily word count goal, although you may not always reach it, chances are, you’ll pound your keyboard for a while. Let you writing “fit in as it may”, most likely, other things will often crowd it out. Plus, I believe, this trains negative habits and makes that first deadline much harder to meet.

I write fiction novels, freelance articles, review for Novel Reviews, do freelance editing and marking for Tiffany Colter, the Writing Career Coach, write for Christ to the World Ministries, do marketing and function as host for Clash of the Titles, and send material monthly to Internet Café Devotions, Samie Sisters, Devo Kids, and the Christian Pulse. This doesn’t leave a lot of flex time.

Continue Reading…


When It Becomes Personal: A Memorial Day Devotional

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13 NIV

Some holidays, if I’m going to be completely honest, didn’t impact me very much when I was a child. For much time growing up, they were simply excuses not to go to school (or have an assembly). I never really thought about Labor Day, Memorial Day, President’s Day, or Veteran’s Day for their actual meanings. Or even if I did, it was just a lesson in school or a book.

And as I grew into adulthood, some of these holidays gained new meaning, while others didn’t. But no holidays changed as much for me in the past few years as Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day.

Yesterday, as you likely know, was Memorial Day. I’ve appreciated those in the military for as long as I’ve known what they were, but that appreciation became much more real – more personal – when someone in my family made the ultimate sacrifice for my, and our, freedom.

Well, not in my BLOOD family. And it wasn’t even anyone I knew very well (in fact, IF I met him, it was perhaps once or twice in passing). But this young man who gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country almost five years ago was very important to some people who were very important to me. He was a member of my church family.

nick roushArmy Corporal Nick Roush was killed on Sunday, August 16, 2009, at age 22, in Afghanistan when an IED exploded. He was a local kid, an attendee of my local church (at the time) since he was a boy.

Like I said before, I never knew him. But I knew – and loved – people who did. His sweet parents. His dear friends. Those who grew up with him, and those who grew up with his parents. And suddenly, the war, and its tragedies, were personal.

I lined the road when the motorcade brought his body from the local airport to our church. I read every article I could find. I blogged about it: not once, not twice, not three times, but FOUR times on my personal blog. It clearly changed my perceptions – my perspective.

Christ is like that too. I’d heard of Him – barely in passing as a child, more as I grew older. But it wasn’t until it BECAME PERSONAL that it changed my life. Until he was more than a person – until He became my Savior. My friend. Until I really and truly understood His sacrifice – and that He did it for me.

Sometimes it takes death to make something personal – meaningful – to you.

I will never be the same.


Words on Display

Words on Display
By Delia Latham

And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. ~1 Corinthians 9:25

“Temperate,” according to Merriam-Webster: 1 : marked by moderation: as keeping or held within limits; not extreme or excessive.

Sometimes less is more.

Unlike many familiar phrases, this one is true almost every time. (I have to admit, I don’t think that way when I’m trying to stretch too few dollars to make ends meet. In that case, more would definitely be more.)

But we’re not talking about money, or beauty, or weight loss. We’re talking about writing, and with that topic in mind, less is more.

Write tight. Be succinct. Make it short and snappy.

I could think of a dozen more ways to say the same thing, but it would defeat my purpose.

Want to know why editors slap our wrists for using too many adjectives and adverbs? Because they clutter, without serving any real purpose. They are crutches, and depending on them keeps us from making the effort to write better, tighter, cleaner prose.

Continue Reading…


New Blogging Contest – What’s In Your Pocket?

FaithWriters has s new blogging contest going on right now,  and winners can get paid writing assignments or a free one-year Gold membership. The current contest is for the Pocket Testament League, a 120+-year-old organization whose their main focus is leading people to a saving knowledge of Christ and equipping others to do the same.

To enter the contest, you need to write a 750-word-or-less promotional review of their site/ministry whose goal is to encourage readers to click on the links to PTL’s website. Your article must include at least four links to the PTL website tied into certain key words (contextual links). And it must be posted in at least three places – on the “What’s In Your Pocket” post in the FaithWriters forums, in FaithWriters’ regular articles section, and one other place. See this page for the general guidelines, tips, and instruction on entering these contests, and this page for more details on this particular contest.

The deadline for this contest is 6pm ET on June 30, 2014, with winners announced as soon as they are determined.

So, are you wondering about prizes? Well, here they are:

1st Place (Upgraded member): Two paid writing assignments from Pocket Testament League ($150 total) and publication on 100 Christian blogs.

2nd Place (Upgraded member) One paid writing assignment from Pocket Testament League (worth $75)

Best Silver member entry: free one-year FaithWriters Gold membership

So, check out their website for ideas (or see the winners of the last PTL blogging contest a couple years ago) and get writing!

Are You Entering? What’s in Your Pocket?


Comments Off