Exciting News for Some FaithWriters Members!

I love being the bearer of good news – and sharing others’ successes is always LOTS of fun. You may have heard some of this news already – but even if you have, it is DEFINITELY worth celebrating again – don’t you think?

Dixie Phillips, a FaithWriters member for ten years (active member for several years), recently received a Gospel Music Association Dove Award for cowriting “Hidden Heroes,” performed by the Talleys. The song was named the Southern Gospel Song of the Year for 2015 in the 47th annual ceremony last month in Nashville. How cool is that?

Teri Wilson, who charmed us with her animal-related Writing Challenge entries (and others), has had five novels published by Harlequin, with one on the way. Her big news? One of those novels – Unleashing Mr. Darcy – is currently in production as a Hallmark Channel/Crown Media movie, with expected release in 2016. Wow!

And one more. With the 2015 Page Turner entries in the judging process, we are excited to announce that Lori Dixon‘s Page Turner winner from last year – Soles Defining Souls – has been released and is available for purchase at Amazon.

Exciting stuff! Congratulations, Dixie, Teri, and Lori!

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Setting Descriptions

Setting Descriptions

By Linda Yezak

 He clutches the package tighter to his chest and shoots a glance over his shoulder. Still there. No shakin’ them. Whoever’d hired them is sure gettin’ his money’s worth.

His eyes dart to the “Walk” sign at the corner, and he quick-steps through the noon crowd to the other side of the road. Another glance. Stupid gorillas are still there, not two dozen paces behind. Here–cut in here. Nice busy place to lose them between the rows of bright yellow bananas and sweet smelling peaches. On another aisle, pungent onions compete with the scent of fruit. An apron-clad store clerk washes celery and sets it artistically among the squash and eggplant.

Whoa! Hold the guavas, there! What happened to our hero’s panicked flight? What happened to the gorilla goons on his tail? I got distracted with the scene description, didn’t I?

You may read this and giggle, but I’ve actually seen similar prose in published books–a little less exaggerated, but enough to rip me right out of the scene.

When the action is fast paced, detailed setting description simply does not work. You want your words and sentences short–not choppy, but short and quick to read. So stopping the action to set the scene isn’t the best route to go. Use a broader stroke when painting the scene, and combine the three previous lessons to keep the pace:

He clutches the package tighter to his chest and shoots a glance over his shoulder. Still there. No shakin’ them. Whoever’d hired them is sure gettin’ his money’s worth.

His eyes dart to the “Walk” sign at the corner, and he weaves around rushing nooners to the other side of the four-lane.

Another glance. Stupid gorillas are keepin’ pace, not two dozen paces behind. Here–cut in behind the peach stand. The apron-clad veggie hawker shots him the evil eye, but he don’t care. One more second and the goons’ll be closer. One hefty push topples the peaches, and he skedaddles through the fruit stall and out the back way.

Keep him in character and in the scene, and use the props to help describe the setting.

Sometimes the pace allows for more description. When it does, use the opportunity to set or enhance the tone.

Here’s a piece from one of my neglected manuscripts. In it, the MC, Claire, has a suspicion that the town’s mighty Sinclair brothers know the whereabouts of her surrogate grandmother, their great aunt. She’s afraid someone has kidnapped her, but she can’t get anyone to believe her claims. She decides to investigate on her own:

She turned left down Filmore Street, where home after stately home paled in comparison to the Stanfield mansion. “Re-elect Senator Marcus Stanfield!” placards planted ten feet apart down its entire length marred the street’s atmosphere of rich antiquity. She scowled at Marcus’s handsome, smiling face peering at her from the cardboard signs. The Stanfield brothers didn’t have an ounce of the kindness and compassion their late parents had possessed. They were nothing more than a waste of skin.

Her chest tightened as she pulled into the drive of their five-acre estate. When Mr. and Mrs. Stanfield were alive, they hosted Easter egg hunts and July fourth fireworks displays for the town’s children. At Christmas, their immense house had always been lit up like a fairy land castle. Today, with the charcoal skies overhead and the wind picking up from another wave of storms, the place looked menacing. The wet weather had given the brick drive a sweaty sheen, and the arched entry into the imposing mansion looked like a gaping mouth ready to gobble her whole.

Describing your character’s setting deserves as much attention as describing your character. In fact, the exercise can enhance your character’s description and add depth to him. When used to help set the tone, description can add depth to your scene also.

In other words, setting descriptions are a tool readily available to anyone who prefers a pen to a brush, a screen to a canvas. But like any other artist’s tool, it requires practice.

**

lindayLinda W. Yezak lives  in a forest in east Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She holds a BA in English and a graduate certificate in Paralegal Studies. Thirty years later, she’s finally putting her degree in English to good use, combining it with her natural inclination toward story-telling to create fun, unique novels, which include Give the Lady a Ride, The Cat Lady’s Secret, and The Simulacrum. Her major non-fiction title is Writing in Obedience, cowritten with Hartline literary agent, Terry Burns.

Facebook Fan Page: http://dld.bz/LWYFacebookPage

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lyezak/

Twitter: @LindaYezak

Amazon Page: http://dld.bz/LWYAmazonPage

Goodreads: http://dld.bz/dSPmg

777 Peppermint Place: http://lindayezak.com

Newsletter: http://dld.bz/CoffeewithLinda

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November is For Writers

You know how it is National something or other (actually, MANY somethings or others) every single month of the year? Don’t believe me? Check out this fun list of monthlong, weeklong, and daylong celebrations. There is always something.

Well, looking over the list, it seems that November is for writers. Not only is it National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), but it is ALSO Family Stories Month, National Memoir Writing Month, Picture Book Month,  and Picture Book Idea Month. Plus, November 9-13 is National Young Reader’s Week, Sunday was National Author’s Day, November 10 is National Young Reader’s Day, and November 15 is I Love to Write Day.

So, whether you’re trying to get your 50,000 words in for NaNoWriMo, working on a memoir, brainstorming a great idea for PiBoIdMo, or working on a Writing Challenge entry, this month is for YOU. Get busy!

How many of these had you heard of? Planning to participate in any?

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Page Turner Deadline TOMORROW

Writers are often procrastinators. If that’s you, and you have a fiction manuscript you’d like to enter in the Page Turner Contest, it’s time (past time, honestly ;) ) to get a move on. Because at midnight on October 31 – that’s TOMORROW, folks – your chance will be gone – until 2017. (2016′s contest will be for non-fiction)

Maybe you’ve got a half-written manuscript gathering dust in the bottom of your desk. Perhaps it’s something you wrote during NaNoWriMo last year. It could even be an idea that’s been brewing in the back of your mind for years. Whatever the stage of your novel, this contest may be just the nudge you need to get writing and polishing – but get it in before tomorrow night, or it will be too late.

Any Platinum member (click here to upgrade) is eligible to enter the first chapter and a synopsis of their fiction manuscript with a Christian worldview in this contest by the October 31, 2015 deadline. The winner will receive a $500 cash prize, free editing of their manuscript, the offer of traditional publishing with Breath of Fresh Air Press, free publicity and marketing of their book on all FaithWriters’ sites for twelve months following publication, and a Page Turner Champion award plaque. Two runners up will each receive $50 cash, a Page Turner award plaque, and consideration for future publication by Breath of Fresh Air Press.

You can find more details here – and even more here if you are already a platinum member. So, get busy on your manuscript – time is running out!

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Write What You Know?

Write What You Know

By Gail Gaymer Martin

Everyone has heard the phrase “write what you know,” and yet writing  -whether contemporary or historical – takes research, no matter how much you know.

Keeping your story accurate is important to give readers a sense of truth when they read your work. One significant error can cause readers to distrust everything you say. It is easy to question the write-what-you-know statement, because if all writers did that, where would the thrillers be, the murder mysteries, the fantasies, the paranormal novels?

But write what you know is a reminder that writers can improve their fiction but using their personal knowledge to enhance the story. By providing a few details using sense imagery, emotion, experience and insight, they bring novels to life far greater than if they leave out those details. Warning: avoid overdoing the descriptions. Select only purposeful and significant personal experiences or emotions and use it for the betterment of the book. Also, when using real towns and places, avoid negativity.

Which details does this cover?
∙ Familiar settings: Capture the language, local ambiance and personality of the town using the five senses, significant traditions and activities in the town or city, interesting characters, real businesses, parks, and stores, history that influences or impacts the present.
Example: Besides making it real, people who live in this city or who have visited this city enjoy reading about a place they know and have been. Increases book sales.

∙ Career or Work Experiences: Abilities and/or education needed, descriptive details important to the story or to bring it to life, attributes needed to do this job, the negative and/or positive nature of the career, and how it impacts the character’s personal life.
Example: Computer programmer is needed to dissect a code to save the world.

Continue Reading…

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Writing Challenge – Writing AND Feedback

Have you jumped in to the Writing Challenge? We just started week four of the current quarter yesterday, and things are underway – including the ability to get ratings reports on your entries.

If you are a Platinum member  (click here to upgrade), you can receive up to three free judges’ ratings reports per quarter on any entry that does not place in the Editor’s Choice. Simply use the simple form to make the request between the time winners are announced and the following Thursday (one week window to request the report). So, if you entered the “Fold” challenge and didn’t place in the EC, get your ratings report request in soon!

Besides the ratings reports, another great way to improve your writing is to read others’ entries – and there is a great opportunity for that in the Writing Challenge as well. While last week’s “Clarify” entries are being judged (and anonymous), you can give them a read today - and give folks those wonderful yellow boxes of feedback. And watch for the brick throwing thread on the Forums- an opportunity to post a link to your own entry for feedback (and to check out others’).

And, of course, there’s actually ENTERING the Writing Challenge. This week’s topic is “Mix,” and there is plenty of room for your piece on the topic (review the guidelines here if you need a refresher course). Platinum and Gold members can enter each week if desired – and even Silver members have a total of four opportunities to give the Challenge a try.

Rise to the (Writing) Challenge!

 

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Using Every Moment

A steering wheel is certainly not my favorite writing desk, but lately, it seems to be my most common one.

Don’t worry—you won’t find me writing the great American novel as I drive along the interstate at 60 plus miles per hour. I don’t even jot down notes as I motor along a heavily trafficked street at a snail’s pace. I am a bad enough driver without distractions like that. No need to endanger the population any more than it already is.

While I will admit to jotting down a few things at the occasional stoplight or stop sign, the majority of my “auto writing” is done with the car off—or at least in park.

You see, I’m a busy mom, and one aspect of being a busy mom that seems unavoidable (and that, by the way, I was not expecting) is “wait time.”

For me, much, though certainly not all, of this time is spent within my vehicle.

Each school day at around 2:30, for instance, you will find me sitting in my car in a line in the parking lot of my son’s high school, waiting to pick my freshman up at the end of the day. The line of cars isn’t generally very long—though the closer to dismissal time you arrive there, the more likely you’ll be back near the road. And, of course, the more cars there are ahead of you, the longer you will be starting and stopping as those in ahead of you receive their precious children. So, I arrive a bit early, allowing me to spend my time in solitude, in my “parked” car, often with a pen and paper in hand. There’s ten to fifteen minutes of good writing time for you!

After we leave there, it’s off to my daughter’s school, where there is yet ANOTHER line, and often another few minutes of waiting (and writing) time.

I’ve also been known to spit out a sentence or two at a railroad crossing, while waiting for the drive-up ATM to be available, or between “do you want fries with that?” and “have a nice day.” In fact, the majority of this piece itself was written while sitting in the driver’s seat of my car.

Is this the ideal method and/or timing for using this literary gift the Lord has given me: composing my thoughts in ten-minute (or less) increments? Probably not. And I must admit that I do, on occasion, devote some more substantial blocks of time, in a more “writerly” setting, to my craft—though not often.

Yet, just because my circumstances are not ideal doesn’t mean I should wait until they are to act.

I shudder to think how much less writing I would have accomplished if I had waited until I had a “good chunk of time” before I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). And if I had waited for complete silence before I started writing (which, by the way, is definitely my preference), my personal canon would be basically nonexistent. So, I do what I feel led to do, whether I feel like the circumstances are just right or not.

Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16, Amplified Bible

It is like that with most things—including exercising our gifts from the Lord and doing His will. It’s easy to put off sharing Christ, for instance, because you have an appointment to keep, or to decide you weren’t really supposed to make that meal for your ill neighbor because you’d have to make that extra trip to the store you weren’t planning on. I’m sure you can come up with your own examples.

We need to remember to grab every moment of our days for His glory. We don’t need to wait until “the time is right” to exercise our gifts, or until the circumstances are in our favor. God doesn’t need perfect circumstances—or perfect people—to work through us.

Heavenly Father, I thank You for guiding me to work for You whenever I can, not just when the time seems right. Help me, Lord, to make the use of each moment of time You give me to do things for Your glory, even if it is inconvenient. Help me to use my “wait time,” and the rest of my time, wisely and to not worry about whether the circumstances are ideal. You, Lord, can make any time ideal. In the name of Jesus, your precious Son, I pray. Amen

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When Change Affects Your Writing

When Change Affects Your Writing

By Delia Latham

After a recent move from California to Texas, my entire writing routine went out the window. Got turned on its head. Went on sabbatical. Took a long trip to Who-Knows-Where.

In other words, I wasn’t writing. I simply could not find the right “groove” to get going. I’m very much a creature of habit, and nothing around me fit into my habitual daily existence.

For instance:

My routine: I’m used to being an empty-nester with just hubby and me in our own little surroundings.
The change: We were living in the house with our daughter’s family…that’s two more adults and two more children than I’m accustomed to living with. Add another two people (my youngest son and youngest daughter also moved to Texas, and moved in temporarily with their older sister), and the house became a public bed-and-breakfast, with constant activity going on around me.
My routine:  I’m accustomed to writing late into the night, and most often sleeping late the next morning. Yes, my sleeping schedule is skewed by “normal” standards, but I don’t think it’s that uncommon amongst writers.
The change:  Our “bedroom” was no longer private. We slept in the game room, with our bed right out in the open. Sleeping “in” while two children and three adults got ready to dive into a new day was out of the question, as was staying up late. Afraid the light would keep everyone else awake, I avoided having it on after a reasonable hour.
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Running Out of Time to Enter Page Turner

It’s October – the middle of the month, even. And for FaithWriters folks, that can mean only one thing – the deadline for the ninth annual Page Turner Contest is sneaking up on us. In a mere two and a half weeks weeks, the opportunity to be considered for a publishing package for your fiction manuscript will be gone – for two years! (Next year’s contest will focus on nonfiction)

Maybe you’ve got a half-written manuscript gathering dust in the bottom of your desk. Perhaps it’s something you wrote during NaNoWriMo last year. It could even be an idea that’s been brewing in the back of your mind for years. Whatever the stage of your novel, this contest may be just the nudge you need to get writing and polishing – but you only have until the end of this month to get your entry ready.

Any Platinum member (click here to upgrade) is eligible to enter the first chapter and a synopsis of their fiction manuscript with a Christian worldview in this contest by the October 31, 2015 deadline. The winner will receive a $500 cash prize, free editing of their manuscript, the offer of traditional publishing with Breath of Fresh Air Press, free publicity and marketing of their book on all FaithWriters’ sites for twelve months following publication, and a Page Turner Champion award plaque. Two runners up will each receive $50 cash, a Page Turner award plaque, and consideration for future publication by Breath of Fresh Air Press.

You can find more details here – and even more here if you are already a platinum member. So, get busy on your manuscript – time is running out!

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The Unfair Advantage Christian Writers Have

The Unfair Advantage Christian Writers Have Over Unbelievers

(But Are Sadly Underutilizing)

By Pastor QT Nyathi

Picture two buses trying to negotiate a steep incline:

One is huffing and puffing thick plumes of grey-black smoke, barely moving. If anything, it looks as if it might roll back any second and put the lives of its passengers in jeopardy.

“Looks like this old lady’s having a hard time trying to climb this mountain,” says Rob.

“Yeah,” agreed the whiskered man seated next to him.

“But you’ve got to understand that this is a steep climb. Any bus would struggle to go up these slopes,” he concludes.

Just then another bus whizzes past them, its driver coolly chewing Dentyne ice unlike his counterpart whose sweaty palms are glued to the steering wheel. Rob turns towards his fellow passenger, eyeballs almost popping out of their sockets.

“Ha-ha!”

They both turn to look at the spectacled teenager who somehow finds this whole scene hilarious.

“Now, that’s a bus. It’s got turbocharge, baby— makes all the difference.”

Here’s the good news. You’re the driver of the second bus, writing-wise. Your writing bus has super power. But the question is: have you used all the power that your massive engine offers?

What engine, you ask? I’m talking about the Holy Spirit.

Continue Reading…

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