Feeds:
Posts
Comments

2017 MONTROSE CHRISTIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE

FACULTY SPOTLIGHT

JEANETTE LEVELLIE

levellie-jeanette-headshot

As a writer, do you struggle with managing your time every day? Does “life” get in the way? Then check out Jeanette’s suggestions to help you get that writing done while all those other responsibilities get done as well:

Jeanette’s 10 D’s of Time Management for Writers

  1. Delight yourself in the Lord

Put God first and He will collaborate with you to help you meet your goals.

  1. Do away with fear

Progress in baby steps, and ask friends cover you in prayer with each new venture.

  1. De-clutter and de-junk

Managing clutter is a huge time-eater. Give yourself permission to throw or give away. Enlist a friend’s help to de-junque.

  1. Discipline your flesh

“No” is not a four-letter word. Say it with grace and dignity to activities and people that drain you or bring out the worst in you.

  1. Divide writing and marketing time

If no one knows you, your writing lacks an audience. If you don’t write, your audience will go elsewhere. Start with a 50/50 split, then adjust as your platform grows.

  1. Delegate

Enlist family members for researching, cooking, running errands, and cleaning. Consider hiring help or trading a writing or editing job for housework or cooking.

  1. Decide what’s important

Ask God to direct your steps and to help you focus on your strengths. What do you most enjoy doing?

  1. Dance and sing—take time to play

Recreation means “to impart fresh life to; to create anew.” It’s okay to do nothing for an hour or a day. You’re more productive when you take regular times of rest.

  1. Double up

Combine two jobs you can accomplish at the same time, one which requires no brain power, such as waiting at the dr.’s office and outlining an article or book chapter.

  1. Diagram your plan

Develop a written mission statement and reasonable, measurable goals. Determine what God and you want from your writing: a few published articles, books galore, changed lives, or all of the above.

The above is an excerpt from Jeanette’s class, Shock the Clock: Time Management for Writers. In addition to these and other valuable tips, we’ll explore how focus on your strengths and minimize your weaknesses to make the best use of your limited writing time.

She will also be teaching 21 Ways to Overcome Writers Block, where we’ll discover creative ways to pry your stubborn muse out of the black hole and start producing words that rock;

Writing Compelling Devotions, where you’ll learn the three major types of devotional writing and simple techniques to create devotions that stay with your reader throughout the day; and

Column Writing as a Platform Builder, where you’ll uncover the secrets of great column writing, how to develop loyal readers, and what types of columns you are best suited to write.

A Little Trivia About Jeanette:

A lively, sought-after speaker for a wide variety of groups, Jeanette is a pastor’s wife, author of four books and hundreds of articles, and a newspaper columnist. Her outgoing, nutty personality and warm teaching style makes audiences feel comfortable as they resonate with her personal—sometimes embarrassing—stories she uses as examples.

Jeanette is a mom to two grown-ups, grandma to three kids, and servant to four cats.

The Montrose Christian Writers Conference

Faculty Spotlight

HAS GOD CALLED ME TO WRITE?

scott-barbara-photo-mcwc-2017

Barbara Scott

 

Are writers made or born with their gift? What is a Christian writer? Is it too late for me to start writing? I’ve asked and pondered every one of those questions at some point in my life.

Viewpoints differ as to whether a writer is made or born. Not that I’m in any way holding up Jack Kerouac, a twentieth-century novelist and poet, as someone to emulate. Quite the contrary. But he did answer the first question above rather succinctly in an essay published in 1962 in Writer’s Digest. He wrote, “Writers are made, for anybody who isn’t illiterate can write; but geniuses of the writing art like Melville, Whitman or Thoreau are born.”

You may sigh and take your hands off the keyboard at this point. Your internal dialogue might go something like this: “I’m not illiterate, but I’m certainly no genius. Who do I think I am? Maybe I should quit right now if that’s what it takes. Maybe I just thought God called me to write. I don’t even know where to start.”

Well, as Julie Andrews once sang to her young charges in The Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning. It’s a very good place to start.”

Most of the people God called in Scripture were quite ordinary. God’s Holy Spirit wrote the Scriptures by using the minds, the hands, the writing implements of ordinary, obedient people. God still works the same way today. Some writers are young. Some are old. Some are educated. Some can barely spell.

That’s why Marsha Hubler asked me to teach a series of workshops for novice writers in July at the Montrose Christian Writers Conference. No writing experience necessary. Following are descriptions of the major morning workshops I plan to teach beginners who believe God has called them to write:

Lingo Lessons

In a comfortable, non-judgmental session, I’ll explain the basics and answer any questions about the language of writing, editing, and publishing to help you navigate these new waters. If you bring the first paragraph of any project, I’ll critique your work during the third major morning session on editing.

The Write Stuff

Think of this session as Writing 101. Learn about proper formatting, margins, and fonts; how to write a synopsis, proposal, and query letter; and how to use more than the spell-check feature on your computer. Bring a pen and paper or your laptop to class.

What’s an Edit?

Not every word you write is golden. That’s why every writer needs an editor. Editing is more than proofreading for spelling mistakes. This session will explain the various types of edits and when, why, and how each is used.

Graduation Time

We’ll tackle issues such as how to build a network of writing friends, finding a critique group, attending conferences, pitching your ideas, and how to know when you’re ready for the next step. Do you want to remain a hobbyist or take a leap of faith and seek publication?

I’ll also teach a few short afternoon classes:

The Power of Storytelling

In an interactive session, I’ll discuss the role and importance of writers—fiction and nonfiction—in God’s plan, from your calling to how to change lives with stories that touch the heart. Learn the elements of a great story, even if you write nonfiction.

Pick a Genre

Is God calling you to write? Don’t know what to write? In this workshop, learn the characteristics of each genre (type of writing) and how to discover your “sweet spot.”

Please join me in July and let’s start at the very beginning.

Barbara’s Bio:

An inspirational book editor for more almost twenty years, Barbara Scott has recently returned to her first love—writing. In the fall of 2016, Gilead Publishing released her novella “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in an inspirational collection titled Sleigh Bells Ring. Barbara is the coauthor of two bestselling novels and wrote numerous gift books and devotionals before her long stint as a senior acquisitions editor for several Christian publishers.

 

Today’s Book Feature:

Keystone Stables Book Five

LEADING THE WAY

Can Skye help Katie Thomas, a blind foster girl, learn to barrel race a horse?

http://www.amazon.com/Leading-Way-Keystone-Stables-Book-ebook/dp/B003SE75ZI/ref=pd_sim_351_6?ie=UTF8&dpID=511o8hwVNXL&dpSrc=sims&preST=_OU01_AC_UL320_SR206%2C320_&refRID=0WD7GM9G0BRSCZKCKZFM

 

Keystone Stables Book 5

 

Come to the Montrose Christian Writers Conference!

IMG_9651

One of the most meaningful experiences you’ll ever have as a writer is attending writers’ conferences. The knowledge gained, the friendships made, and the encouragement received are all well worth the time, effort, and money invested in any writers conference you attend.

My attending the Montrose Christian Writers Conference, literally, changed my writing life forever.

In 2001, I met Barbara Scott, the acquisitions editor of Zonderkidz, and my Keystone Stables Series was launched, eventually becoming a best seller with over scott-barbara-photo-2017150,000 in print. After all these years, the books are still in print and selling fairly well. Thanks to the wisdom of Barbara Scott, who said, “I want this series to have a long shelf life,” that’s exactly what’s happened.

The Montrose Christian Writers Conference in Montrose, PA, is one of the best conferences, in my opinion, that you’ll ever attend. Of course, I’m partial since I assumed the directorship in January of 2015, attempting to continue the excellence of faculty and workshops started 27 years ago and directed by Patti Souder for 20 years.

This year’s conference from July 16th to the 21st is entitled

EQUIPPING WRITERS FOR ETERNAL SIGNIFICANCE

“Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book!”

(Job 19:23)

It will feature four continuing morning classes:

WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA (ADVANCED FICTION) – FILM ACTOR TORRY MARTIN

WHERE DO I BEGIN?  – EDITOR BARBARA SCOTT

NONFICTION: THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT  –  AUTHOR B.J. TAYLOR

THE ART AND CRAFT OF POETRY  –  POET LORA ZILL

 as well as 45 other afternoon and evening classes or workshops. If you leave this five-day conference without learning anything, I’d say you’re not cut out to be a writer.

This year we’re also offering three work-in-progress classes (limited to 8 participants):

PICTURE BOOKS – AUTHOR CAROL WEDEVEN

POETRY BOOT CAMP – POET LORA ZILL

TEEN TRACK –  AUTHOR CATHY MAYFIELD

(Registration fees and housing rates are reduced for teens)

Do you need your manuscript privately critiqued to see if you should continue or give it up and take up crocheting? We’re able to help you with that as well, offering professional private critiques by five faculty members (for a small fee) OR freebie peer critique groups moderated by seven faculty members. So get that manuscript ready!

If you’re considering attending this conference, I recommend you register as soon as possible when registration opens in March. I expect it to fill up very quickly. Watch for all the details coming soon at www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

If you want to take a peek at what the conference looked like last year, go visit now.

Happy writing!

SUMMER CAMP ADVENTURE

Keystone Stables Book 4

KEYSTONE STABLES SERIES BOOK 4

Skye has her hands full trying to help Jonathan, a stubborn deaf boy, learn to ride western when he just wants to ride English style. Then he takes off on his horse in the middle of the night and gets lost in the woods.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003TFE5VI/ref=series_rw_dp_sw

The Importance of Keeping Detailed Notes

Writing both fiction and nonfiction has taught me how important it is to keep detailed notes while writing the book manuscripts. Now after having both genres published, I’m able to say, “I’m glad I did,” not “I wish I had.”

NONFICTION:

When I wrote my Bible study guide, DRAW ME CLOSER, LORD (2003, Regular Baptist Press), I had pages of notes for each of ten lessons, including websites for references, information about other authors’ names, addresses, and contact information whom I cited, Bible verses used, and so on. I listed in a separate file all the details I needed to go back and research or get additional information on any of the above entities of the written work.

Only after I submitted the manuscript to my publisher did I find out how valuable all that information was. The editor needed additional references for the bibliography at the end of the book AND she needed permission from all poets whose work I cited in the book. Now that was a task to complete! One poet had passed away, but I received a nicely written permission slip from the poet’s husband. Some poems had large publishing rights’ fees attached to them (such as poems written by Helen Steiner Rice), which forced me to delete those poems and insert others that had no fees. But with all this additional work, I can’t imagine how much harder it would have been had I not recorded where I found all the poems and quotes that I had used.

FICTION:

When writing my two fiction series, THE KEYSTONE STABLES and THE LOVES OF SNYDER COUNTY, I made detailed notes of all the characters, primary, secondary, and even the “insignificant” ones. I recorded lesser characters, whether they had a name or not, such as the man selling Scottie puppies at the farmers’ market who had his vending spot next to my main character’s table in Louellen Finds True Love. For the more important characters, I described their physical appearance and often their demeanor, personality, or likes and dislikes. I also listed the names or details of all places, including towns, counties, farms, homes of main characters, route numbers of roads, and descriptions of many of the places or scenes.

Why is this important?

If you’re writing a 150-to-400-page book, you need to know if you used the name “Joe” for any character, even if he’s just the guy fixing a flat tire at a garage. If you’re writing a series, which can take months or years, how are you going to remember whether Joe’s name was ever used for any character? Go back and read all your work? Uh huh.

In my LOVES OF SNYDER COUNTY SERIES, a three-volume set being re-released in a few weeks, I kept detailed notes, and I’m ever glad I did. After writing the three books, I also wrote an additional 24 short stories (5000-8000 words each) based on the characters in the three novels. [They’ll eventually be published as Plain and Proper in Snyder County Volume 1 (12 stories) and Plain and Proper in Snyder County Volume 2 (12 stories)]. I was able to go back to my pages of notes and see who’s related to whom, which farmers’ market is in Ohio, who the parents and siblings are of the main character in each story, which character in the book series likes sewing, which one loves horses, which one is a young widow, and so on. The initial work it took to open new files and start listing persons, places, and things has been well worth the effort. Believe me!

So, my advice to you is, if you’re writing a book or a series, keep detailed notes on everything you write. Yes, it’s extra work, but in the long run, you’ll be saying, “I’m glad I did,” not “I wish I had.”

 

Keystone Stables Book 3

 

12.26.16

Today’s Writers’ Tip: What a Difference a Comma Makes! (Part 2)

4-wise-men-still-seek-him-glass

Which Isaiah 9:6 verse is correct?

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”

Do you see the difference?

Depending on the translation, you might find either version, although the King James Version (verse one) is accepted by Bible scholars as the most accurate translation of the early scriptures. So what’s the difference?

One little comma. And that makes a big difference.

In the first verse, a comma follows the word “Wonderful.” In the second verse, the comma is missing. How does that affect the meaning of the verse?

In verse one, Wonderful is a predicative nominative, (a noun form capitalized), which refers directly to our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior, who was to come. Because of that comma, we can attribute the word “Wonderful” to Jesus as a title. He is wonderful (adjective), and He is Wonderful! (noun)

In verse two, the missing comma changes the word “Wonderful” to an adjective (capped) describing Counsellor. Of course, Christ is a “wonderful counselor;” in fact, He’s a perfect counselor for anyone who needs godly advice to live a successful life that’s pleasing to God. So, indeed, He’s a wonderful counselor.

My personal opinion is that the comma in the KJV verse makes the verse so much more meaningful. Of the many names attributed to the Savior, I think “Wonderful” is one of the most poignant descriptions of our God, who is wonderful beyond description.

You might differ in your opinion. That doesn’t make you wrong. Either translation presents our Savior as WONDERFUL!

Blessings for the rest of the holiday season and a profitable new year to you!

Marsha

 What a Difference a Comma Makes!

Which title is correct?

“God Rest You, Merry Gentlemen”

“God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen”

This carol is one of the best-loved Christmas hymns sung all around the world at this time every year. But does the song tell us about merry gentlemen resting or gentlemen who should be resting and merry?

Let’s take a look at the song’s roots:

Although the text was first published in 1833, it might have had its earliest origin among the 16th-century Waits bands (the night watchmen of that time), who travelled round London singing on the street corners and in taverns.

Some hymn arrangers of early versions decided to change the hymn’s meaning by putting the comma in the first line after the word “you,” but contemporary historians have concluded that is an incorrect interpretation.

Let’s take a look at the carol’s lyrics:

The first stanza and chorus go like this:

God rest you merry, gentlemen,

Let nothing you dismay,

For Jesus Christ our Saviour

Was born on Christmas Day:

To save us all from Satan’s power

When we were gone astray.

Refrain :

O tidings of comfort and joy,

Comfort and joy;

O tidings of comfort and joy.

 

At first glance you would come to this conclusion: It’s a song that depicts the gospel — Christ came to destroy the works of the devil, and now we (or the “gentlemen”) can rest and have comfort and joy. Therefore, all gentlemen can be merry. Right?

Well, not quite. If we trace the original meaning of the word “merry” in the Old English language, it could mean happy. However, it also has a second meaning: “mighty.” How many of you remember reading about Robin Hood and his “merry” men? In that case, the word didn’t mean happy. It meant mighty. Robin Hood’s men were strong and mighty, men to be feared. Therefore, “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” really means God rest you mighty (or in God’s strength), gentlemen.

I think you agree that knowing the origin of the words of this carol makes a huge difference in its meaning. So the next time you sing “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen,” remember where the comma is and how meaningful that one little punctuation mark is. And we, as mighty men and women, can make a difference this Christmas by living our faith before those around us. Amid the holly and the tinsel, we can tell them that Christ was born to die and that placing our faith in Him grants us life in heaven forever.

References:

http://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/music/godrestye.asp

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/3674117/The-story-behind-the-carol-God-rest-you-merry-gentlemen.html

Have a wonderful Christmas season!

firstsnow-house-11-21-08

Marsha

Let’s Talk Punctuation for a While

(Post Number Eleven)

MANGER08

Perky Parentheses and Bold Brackets

If you’re like me with your writing, you sometimes might be confused concerning when to use parentheses. Should you use em dashes instead? Or how about commas?

Let’s first define “parentheses” so we understand what in the world these little smiley face lines are used for.

Definition One: “Parentheses usually set off material that is less closely related to the rest of the sentence than that enclosed in em dashes or commas.” (The CMOS, 15th edition, The University of Chicago Press, 2003, p. 265)

Instead of going in to detailed descriptions of how to use the parentheses, I’m going to list some examples for you:

Example One: The judge decided that all the dogs (collies, etc.) in that division were worthy of a blue ribbon.

Example Two: The championship soccer game the Stallions won (under difficult conditions of freezing rain) was a thriller.

Example Three: The Book of John (see chapter 3) mentions Jesus as God’s Son and Savior who came to save us from our sin.

 Definition Two: “Parentheses are used to enclose glosses of unfamiliar terms or translations of foreign terms—or, if the term is given in English, to enclose the original word.” (The CMOS, 15th edition, The University of Chicago Press, 2003, p 266)

Example One: Downloading “Dropbox” (a free program on the web that allows you to transfer files from one computer to the other instantly without a flash drive) is a godsend for writers.

Example Two: In my Amish fiction book, I used the word “boppli” (baby) many times.

Example Three: The word for mother (mamm) in my Amish books occurs dozens of times.

In the CMOS, a few more examples of complicated uses for parentheses are listed, which most of us writers would not need to know. So for simplicity’s sake, we’ll stop with the perky parentheses plug here and move on to the bold brackets.

Bold Brackets

 To use brackets, or “square brackets,” properly, all you need to remember is that they are used to enclose words that are inserted by a second author inside a first author’s original work.

What? Say again?

You would use brackets if you inserted your own words in material from the following types of already printed material: quoted matter, reprints, anthologies, editorial interpolations, explanations, translations of foreign words, or corrections. Allow me give you some examples cited in the CMOS, 15th edition:

Example One: “They [the free-silver Democrats] asserted that the ratio could be maintained.”

Example Two: “Many CF [cystic fibrosis] patients have been helped by the new therapy.”

Example Three: Satire, Jebb tells us, “is the only [form] that has a continuous development.”

Example Four: “The differences between society [Gesellschaft] and community [Gemeinde] will now be analyzed.”

I believe the only other use of brackets that we might need to know is when they are used within a set of parentheses. Here is an example; take notice where the period is at the end:

Example: (For further explanation see Strunk and White’s Element of Style [1979] and Webster’s Dictionary [1984].)

I hope I haven’t totally confused you with this parentheses/bracket blog. These two little punctuation tips might not be of use to us every day, but once in a while, we do need to know how to use them effectively, so perhaps these tidbits today will refine your writing style a little more as you write your way to that next published piece.

Happy writing!

Marsha

More shameless promotion:

KEYSTONE STABLES SERIES BOOK 3

SOUTHERN BELLE’S SPECIAL GIFT

Keystone Stables Book 3

Foster kid Skye Nicholson befriends a spoiled brat foster girl, Tanya Bell, and teaches her the real meaning of love while they both care for an orphan foal.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003SE765M/ref=series_rw_dp_sw

%d bloggers like this: