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Archive for the ‘Writing Nonfiction’ Category

Should You Write a Bible Study?
By Gloria Penwell

Many authors and speakers eventually come to the decision that they could, or should, write a Bible study. For various reasons they believe the market needs what they have to offer. Sometimes the thought is I can write a Bible study better than anything out there, or I can’t find exactly what I’m looking for. My particular favorite reason that I hear is I’m much more spiritually mature than most of those other authors.

But what should be the motivation for writing a Bible study?

I believe that writing Bible studies must come out of a pressing sense that God wants an author to share his/her perspective on a particular subject or passage of scripture. Many times in our personal studies, we revert to one passage or concept that God keeps impressing on our hearts and minds. We study it. We do research it. We can’t let it go. That’s a good sign that maybe God wants us to write a certain Bible study.
Before we make that decision, though, it’s vital we spend time before the Father, asking him what he wants us to do. This very special subgenre needs to be verified by much prayer and the reading of God’s Word.

Who really needs another Bible study?

Another thing I suggest authors do is to ask other people if a certain topic or theme would be helpful to them. It might even be a good idea to teach it and see how it’s received. Sometimes the promptings we get from God are for our growth and don’t particularly apply to others. Will your Bible study help others in their Christian walk?
Writing Bible studies should be a deeply spiritual undertaking. Don’t ever approach it lightly.

Gloria Penwell
Acquisitions Editor
Bold Vision Books
http://www.Boldvisionbooks.com

Gloria will be presenting the following workshops this July at MCWC:

BIBLE STUDIES THAT SELL

GET THE MOST OUT OF THE CONFERENCE

PRAYER IN THE LIFE OF A WRITER

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2017 Montrose Christian Writers Conference

Faculty Spotlight

Cathy Mayfield

mayfield-photo-mcwc-2017

Teen Track Moderator

Legacies Let Loose

What does receiving a legacy mean to you? Do you dream of mansions, jewels, coins, savings bonds, cars? Or, like me, do you long for the stories?
When my grandmother passed to glory, I regretted not writing out the stories she told about my grandfather’s days on the railroad in the 1940s. Some I remembered; others left with her. I would love to have those stories memorialized to read to our grandson one day so he could live his great-great-grandfather’s adventures:

  1. He would laugh about the live rooster Pop brought home in his lunchbox, forgetting to tell his wife before she opened the lid, and mayhem broke out.
  2. He’d giggle over Pop’s exploits trying to cram a several-hundred-pound hog back into a crate from which it had escaped
  3. He’d wonder over the mystery of where Pop went or what he did when he’d leave on secretive trips during the war.                                                                      But those three stories aren’t enough.
    Enter my passion for helping people to leave legacies by writing their stories for their families and friends. I began simply by writing my own in a journal with the aid of passwords (an idea from the book Passwords to Your Past by Max Kelly and Dorothy Breslin), which started an onslaught of writing ideas – devotionals, Bible studies, columns, and more. And my passion grew.
    I began volunteering at senior care facilities, listening to the residents relate their cherished stories, pure joy to this writer. My goal remains to one day help them leave legacies by writing those stories and publishing them into booklet form for their loved ones to read someday.
    A plaque my daughter bought me hangs on our wall: “Home is where your story begins.” Write it down before you forget! Help others write theirs! Let the legacies loose!
    Teen Track Workshop Description                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
    Ready, Set, Write…and Finish! 2017 Montrose Teen/Young Writers WIP Class:
    • Get Ready! – Pick one of the hundreds of story ideas swimming in your head.
    • Get Set! – Do some brainstorming or free writing until you have some storyline ideas, a setting, and some characters.
    • Get Writing! – Start the writing process! Make sure you have a beginning which will hook your readers. Work on twists and turns as the middle proceeds.
    • Get It Finished! – And that’s where we come in! Bring your manuscript. We’ll help you keep going…and going. Editing…and editing. Rewriting…and rewriting. Prepare to “Get it finished!”
    Spread the word! Teens are always welcome at the Montrose Christian  Writers Conference!       Marsha Hubler, director

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Come to the Montrose Christian Writers Conference!

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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

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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

 

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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

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Let’s Talk Grammar and Punctuation for a While

(Post Number Ten)

“The Quirky Quotation Marks”

“What can I say about quotation marks?” Marsha says. “If you are a fiction writer, you need to master the technique of using quotation marks. However, over the last few years, many publishing companies of nonfiction works have asked authors to incorporate ‘fiction’ techniques in their manuscript. That entails using quotation marks, mostly in dialogue, correctly.”

Of the many times I’ve seen quotation marks used incorrectly, the following example is the most misuse I’ve noticed:

Bad Example: Bert yelled to his son Raymond in the back yard, “Throw the ball, son”.

Folks tend to want to put that period AFTER the quotation marks at the end, but it is incorrect. The proper usage is as such:

Good Example One: Bert yelled to his son Raymond in the back yard, “Throw the ball, son.”

The same goes for the use of quotation marks with question marks and exclamation points:

Good Example Two: After lunch Eva asked her friend Bonnie, “Would you like to go shopping?”

Good Example Three: When Bobby saw his puppy fall off the sofa, he yelled, “Watch out, Scruffy!”

Another frequent abuse of quotation marks occurs in a series when words that need the marks are listed. The following example shows how the list should be correctly written:

Good Example Four: Last year, our writers’ conference featured workshops entitled “Write an Irresistible Query,” “Kiddie Lit for Toddlers,” and “It’s Time for an Agent.”

But what about double quotes in the same sentence? You might be thinking, How do I write them? Well, here’s how the CMOS says to use double quotes:

Good Example Five: Barney said to his cousin Elmo, “You must have heard cousin Heathcliffe say, ‘We’re going to the shore on Friday.’ ” (Note the period, the single quote, a space, and a double quote.)

I’m sure it is no surprise to you that there are exceptions to using quotation marks with other punctuation marks. The English language is one big exception, if you ask me!

Anyway, here are some examples of when the quotation marks go INSIDE the ending punctuation mark:

Example One: Harry subscribed to “The Pennsylvania Magazine”; he loves the pictures. (A work that needs quotes around its title)

Example Two: The sergeant asked Private Botting to state his “name and serial number”; he forgot his serial number and got in big trouble. (A phrase that is a direct quote)

Example Three: Which of Shakespeare’s characters said, “All the world’s a stage”? (A question asked with a quoted statement within it)

Example Four: Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3).  (The period follows the Bible reference.)

Example Five: I can’t believe Pauline said, “I’m leaving tomorrow at five in the morning”! (The exclamatory statement was made by “I” not “Pauline.” Therefore, the exclamation point comes AFTER Pauline’s quote.)

Example Six: How can teachers motivate students to learn who constantly say, “I hate school”? (The entire sentence is a question; therefore the question mark comes AFTER the quotation mark at the end.)

There are other uses of quotation marks and exceptions, but I’m thinking this blog is enough to confuse even the best writers in the land. If you have doubts, go online to the CMOS and check out your quotation mark question firsthand.

Next time we’ll look at perky parentheses and bold brackets, which will just about wrap up our series of blogs offering punctuation advice for writers. Then we’ll move on to another venue in the fascinating world of writing and publishing.

Happy writing!

Marsha

More shameless promotion:

KEYSTONE STABLES SERIES BOOK 2

ON THE VICTORY TRAIL

Book2.On.Victory.Trail.Cover

Foster kid Skye Nicholson faces the greatest test of her young Christian life when her

best friend, Sooze, develops a brain tumor.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002U8KW7G/ref=series_rw_dp_sw

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Let’s Talk Grammar and Punctuation for a While

(Post Number Nine)

The Excitable Exclamation Point!

 

Today we’re looking at a “quicky” punctuation mark because its uses are quite limited.

Most writers agree that the exclamation point is not in much danger of being used incorrectly. But I would venture to say that its greatest misuse is OVERUSE!!!!!! (Case in point: Never use more than one exclamation point consecutively, no matter how emphatic or dramatic you’re trying to be!!! The second and third exclamation points in a row actually negate the effect or mood you’re trying to portray, so take it easy. Use just one!)

So, when do we use the exclamation point and how often? Well, the obvious use of the exclamation point is to inflect fear, panic, surprise, irony, pain, anger, or a command. To use more than one every several pages of your writing is also OVERUSE! So watch that excitable little mark well! (I’ve already used nine in this blog [ho hum]; are you getting the point?)

Since this mark’s use is limited, we’ll just cite some popular examples for this little guy:

Example One (Fear): “Watch out,” Susie cried. “The tiger got out of his cage!” (Note that the exclamation point is inside the quotation marks.)

Example Two (Panic): Mabel forgot to turn off the stove, and the house is burning down!

Example Three (Surprise): I can’t believe I just won that car!

Example Four (Irony): Bill boarded one plane, and his wife boarded another!

Example Five (Pain): Ow!

Example Six (Anger): “Stop kicking the door!” Jane screamed to the top of her lungs at Herman.

Example Seven (A command): Stand up and shut up!

Let’s mention one more example, which is perfectly legal, even though many “English pros” might call it into question, since it IS a question:

Example Eight (At the end of a question that is essentially an exclamation):

How could Barry possibly have lifted that!

“When will you ever learn!” Carrie’s anger with her puppy was obvious.

So there you have the eight most common uses of the exclamation point. Use it sparingly and wisely, and your writing will have an extra spark that will impress even the editors!

Next time we’ll have a look at quirky quotation marks. These can be quite confusing, especially when you have a quote within a quote, so until next time happy writing!

Marsha

More shameless promotion:

KEYSTONE STABLES SERIES BOOK 1

A HORSE TO LOVE

Foster kid Skye Nicholson hates everyone and everything, including herself

until she meets Christian foster parents and a beautiful Quarter Horse named Champ.

 keystone-stables-book-1

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002U80FZK/ref=series_rw_dp_sw

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