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THE NECESSITY OF WRITERS’ CONFERENCES

The best training you’ll ever receive is that which you’ll get by attending writers conferences. Next to your local critique group, writers workshops and conferences will give you the knowledge you need to become a better writer. The various workshops offered usually take you from A to Z concerning the writing/publishing business with fresh ideas for you to try.

You also make new long-lasting writer friends, kindred spirits who think just like you do. (They don’t call us “Odd Ducks” for nothing.)

Writers conferences also offer you the opportunity to present your work face to face to agents and editors of publishing companies. I’ve acquired four of my five book contracts by meeting editors at the Montrose Christian Writers Conference held in Montrose, PA, every July.

Speaking of conferences, why don’t you check out the details of our last Montrose Christian Writers Conference at https://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx. Plan to come to our next one from July 12th to July 17th, 2020. We plan to have three agents, three editors of publishing companies, and award-winning authors on our faculty.

If you’ve never been to a writers’ conference, you don’t know what you’re missing!

Director of MCWC Marsha Hubler
www.marshahubler.com
www.marshahubler.wordpress.com
Author of the Keystone Stables Series

 

CRITIQUE GROUP GUIDELINES TO HELP START A CRITIQUE GROUP

Do you belong to a writers’ critique group? Do you believe you need opinions from other writers to improve your writing?

All writers should belong to a local critique group that will “tell it like it is.” Nothing will improve your writing better than having objective criticism, both positive and negative, from a group of peers.
As promised, I’ve included the guidelines for you to follow if you plan to start your own group. Please feel free to copy and use at your own discretion:

Critique Group Guidelines

1. Pick one person to be the leader of your group or rotate by having a different leader every time you meet. Choose a central location to meet. Our group meets at a local coffee house where the owner allows us to rearrange a few tables in the corner of the place where we can sip coffee and discuss.

2. Several days before the meeting, the leader should email or call everyone to find out whos bringing something to critique. The leader then plans how much time will be allotted to each writer at the meeting. Example: we have a two-hour meeting once a month. If five of us bring something to be critiqued, we each get about 20-25 minutes total time for the critique. Its best for the leader to have a timer. We usually limit our pages to about five typed double-spaced pages. But that depends on how many writers want to be critiqued.

3. At the meeting, open with the sharing of news, i.e. someone has been accepted for publication, someone is speaking somewhere or having a book signing, etc.

4. Each person who has something to critique should bring copies for all members. The author has a choice to have his/her work read aloud by another member while the group critiques with pen or to have it read silently while the critiquing is being done.

5. After the reading, each person, other than the writer, discusses the manuscript read. The leader should control the input by giving each person at the table a turn to speak, going clockwise or counterclockwise. The author is encouraged to offer his/her input. Also, the leader should prevent discussions and personal trivia that chase rabbit trails and have nothing to do with critiquing the manuscript. Then the manuscript copies are handed back to the writer. Fellowship and sharing can take place before or after the entire critiquing session is over.

6. Before dismissing, the next date for the critique meeting should be set.

7. Alternative critique plan:

If everyone in the group has email and knows how to send and receive attachments, the group can decide to send work ahead of time (at least a few days to a week) to each member of the critique group via email attachment. Then the writer critiquing the work prints it and brings the copy to the meeting where the suggestions and edits are discussed.

THE ART OF CRITIQUE:

1. It offers a chance to communicate with each other. First, tell the writer what you enjoyed about the story and its strengths. Be positive about something.

2. Then review what you think needs work. Sticky opening, weak characters, weak plot, unnatural dialogue, etc.

3. Be careful not to over-critique. Each writer has his own individual voice or style of writing. Other than correcting obvious punctuation, word usage, grammar and punctuation, try not to rewrite the work. It will then not be the original authors work. It will be yours.

4. As the author of the work, you should process the critique comments. Decide if the critique really hit home. Some writers dont change anything unless they get at least two or three comments about the same area of work. Try not to be offended. Critiquing is a valuable tool to make you a better writer.

5. Remember, you are the final judge of your work.

HAPPY WRITING AND CRITIQUING!

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Tommi wishes she was a boy? But why?

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ARE CRITIQUE GROUPS VALUABLE?

Some members of the Susquehanna Valley Writers Group, Selinsgrove, PA

 

Absolutely, undeniably yes. My local critique group has helped make me the writer I am.

One of the most valuable tools you’ll ever have in your writing career is a local critique group comprised of other writers.

Some groups meet once a week; others meet once a month. The choice is for the group to make. Some groups meet in the members’ homes; others meet at libraries, bookstores, or cafes with quiet corners. Again, the choice is the group’s.

If you don’t belong to a local critique group, make it a priority to join one. If you aren’t sure there even is one, then determine to start one yourself.

So, how do you get the word out that you are interested in a critique group, either joining or starting?
1. Ask for information at your library or bookstore. If they know of no critique group, prepare an 8 1/2 x 11 poster and ask if you can post it. Put your name, phone number, and email address on the poster.
2. Mount posters in your local grocery stores and mini-marts.
3. Place a free ad in your local “service” newspaper, the one that allows you to buy and sell without paying for an ad.
4. Call other local authors you know and ask about a critique group. If they aren’t members of any, encourage them to help you start one. You really only need three or four other writers to start, and not all need to represent the same genre. Six to eight members are ideal if you plan to meet for two or three hours at a time.

So, there you have it. Get busy with that critique group. If you become accountable to someone for your writing on a regular basis, you will write more often, and you’ll write better!

(Next time: The Guidelines for a Successful Critique Group)

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TOMMI POCKETS

A TWEEN HISTORICAL FICTION TAKING PLACE IN THE 1950s

Tommi Leland wishes she was a boy. But why?

 

https://amzn.to/2Zkx48L

 

Writers’ Tips for Newbies: After the Conference

Today’s tips are for all you beginning writers out there who have a great idea and don’t know where to start.

If you attended the last Montrose Christian Writers Conference in July, I trust you learned all kinds of things to help you become a published author. Let’s rehearse a few tips you probably learned to get you writing the next best seller!

If you’ve never attended any writers’ conference, it might be a consideration if you’ve got some ideas about becoming an author.

1. Start writing. Don’t just talk about it. Do you have an idea? Many good ideas? Don’t let those great creative ideas die in your brain cells! Get that computer out and start pecking away.

2. Join a local critique group. This has helped me become a better writer more than any other training, reading, or writing I’ve done. You must have a thick skin and be willing to accept criticism, but in the long run, your writing will improve drastically. Our group in the Susquehanna Valley (PA) meets once a month when everyone brings copies of about four pages of their latest work to have critiqued.

3. Attend writers conferences. Second only to the critique group, writers conferences have molded me into the author I am today. Writers conferences offer numerous workshops on different genres. You also meet other writers who have the passion to write as you do. They UNDERSTAND YOU! And … try to attend conferences where editors and agents are on faculty. Many writers have acquired contracts by meeting “the in-crowd” at conferences. Three of my four book contracts and several purchased articles resulted from contacts at writers’ conferences. Conferences are an essential part of your training.

4. Read, read, read! If you want to write juvenile fiction, read all the published juvenile fiction you can get your hands on. Likewise, if you’re into Amish romance, don’t spend time reading science fiction or fantasy. If you want to learn how to handle your genre, then study your genre. I have pages and pages of “good writing” excerpts that I’ve copied from published books. Once in a while, I open that file and read through the segments that show me excellent dialogue, good narration, and well-done character description.

So, there you have it. If you have the burning desire deep down in your soul to write, then get going! But consider yourself a work-in-progress just as your manuscript is. The more you learn, the better your writing will be!

 

 

THE MONTROSE CHRISTIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE

Writers, the 2019 Montrose Christian Writers Conference is history for a month already. With over 100 writers, agents, and editors gathered together in mid-July, we had a wonderful week of fellowship and learning how to write better for God’s glory.

Believe it or not, I’m already working on the 2020 MCWC and already have verbal commitments from about 10 authors, editors, and agents. Lord willing, our next conference will be held from Sunday, July 12th to Friday, July 17th, 2020. A few folks who’ve already said yes to coming on faculty are freelance editor Vie Herlocker, literary agents Sally Apokedak and Michelle Lazurek, authors Annette Whipple, Joyce Magnin, and Tiffany Amber Stockton, social media expert Don Catlett, and marketing guru Karen Whiting. There are still about five or six more potential faculty members, so check in often to see the final line-up, hopefully before the holidays are upon us.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned writer and whether you write fiction or nonfiction, there will be over 40 classes presenting all facets of the writing/publishing world. We also have interesting and fun events Monday through Thursday evenings, often allowing conferees interaction with faculty members.

Then there’s Frank and Bucky, who always liven up the week’s boring moments (if there is such a thing.)

So mark your calendar and start sprucing up your manuscripts. Next July you just might find yourself with a contract in your hands.

 

THE 2019 MONTROSE CHRISTIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE IS OVER!  

BUT PLAN FOR MCWC 2020!

The 2019 Montrose Christian Writers Conference is history. I can’t believe it’s almost a week ago already that the conference ended. What a blessing this year’s conference was to me as the director. Without the help of my “committee,” I wouldn’t have been able to pull this off. Thank you, gals. You are deeply appreciated. (And you know who you are!)

I want to personally thank Jim Fahringer and his wonderful staff for providing such an excellent place at the Montrose Bible Conference Center, including fine meals and homey rooms. Without exception, folks say the beautiful setting and family atmosphere are tops.

I also want to thank each faculty member, who made this year’s conference one of the best we’ve ever had. We’ve had almost 100% of positive feedback from the conferees, who gleaned from the faculty’s expertise.

Thank you, Alison Everill, talented musician, who provided spirit-filled Praise and Worship times every morning to start our days with thoughts about our wonderful God.

Then I want to thank each conferee who sacrificed a lot of money and time to attend this conference. Besides paying tuition, room, and board, the conferees opened their hearts to the needs of others by donating used books for our Budget Book Sale. I’m guessing we had at least 100 books to sell. Thank you, Kathie Mitchell, for spearheading that big project.

Along with those book donations, faculty and conferees “purchased” dozens and dozens of those used books and many MCWC can coolers (koozies😊)to support the General Scholarship Fund. We raised over $500 to help future conferees with their finances as well as donating over $400 to the kitchen staff, many who work as volunteers or get paid minimal salaries.

When our conference closed on Friday, July 19th, we ended with a short praise and worship time, a challenge from a faculty member-author Gayle Roper-and a circle of friendship and prayer. It’s not unusual for conferees and faculty members to part with tears in their eyes, pledging to return next July. Once anyone attends MCWC, he/she is considered “family,” and we look forward to seeing each one every year.

I overheard one gal say, “I just have to come back next year,” and she plans to save all her loose change to put toward next year’s expenses. That’s an excellent idea for those who have to count every penny in their budget. In a year’s time, quite a few dollars can mount up. Another gal with tears in her eyes told me, “I love my family and my life back home, but I don’t want to leave. This was wonderful.”

If you’ve never been to our Montrose Christian Writers Conference, please consider joining us next year. The dates are forthcoming. I promise you won’t be sorry.

For you who’ve been there for 15 years or just for one year, I look forward, Lord willing, to seeing you again in 2020! God bless your writing endeavors over the next year.

P.S. Whether you attended or not, you might enjoy looking at my Pinterest 2019 MCWC Board with over 100 photos of the conference’s faculty, conferees, and events. I’ve just started downloading photos from the conference, so it’ll take me awhile, but check the board at your convenience:

If you weren’t at the conference and would like to know what you missed, check out the conference’s details:

http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx

God bless you as you pray and ask God to help you write for His glory.

Marsha, Director

1 Corinthians 15:10

The Dynamite 2019 Montrose Christian Writers Conference Faculty

Writers, if you’ve never attended a writers conference, this is the year to do it. We have a tremendous faculty coming who will be glad to sit down with you and review your work in private. Also, plan to attend over 45 classes that will teach you about fiction, nonfiction, poetry, songwriting, marketing, working with editors, finding an agent, and much more.

One of our editors is Roseanna White, (also an author), whose company WhiteFire is looking for juvenile fiction and adult fiction.

Another faculty member is Lora Zill. Lora teaches writing and critical analysis at Gannon University and creative writing for Allegheny College’s arts programs for gifted middle and high school students. She is also a teaching artist with the PA Council on the Arts, conducting artist residencies in public schools and training teachers in arts infused curriculum. Lora edits and publishes a poetry journal, Time Of Singing, and speaks at writing, education, and arts conferences. She has co-authored a chapter on creativity in an academic textbook and her award-winning poetry and nonfiction have been published widely. She is completing a book about feeling God’s pleasure through creative expression and blogs at www.thebluecollarartist.com.

The rest of our faculty include:

Dan Brownell – editor with Today’s Christian Living

Rebecca Irwin Diehl – editor  with The Secret Place

Alison Everill – Praise and Worship Leader

Deb Haggerty – publisher and editor-in-chief of Elk Lake Publishing

Pam Halter – award-winning children’s book author

Jim Hart – agent with Hartline Literary Agency

Gloria Penwell-Holtzlander – acquis. editor with Bold Vision Books

Jeanette Levellie – award-winning author

Elaine W. Miller – international speaker and best-selling author

Linda Rondeau – editor with Elk Lake Publishing

Gayle Roper – award-winning author

Donna Smith – editor of the blog “Almost An Author”

Shawn Smucker – award-winning author

Kim Sponaugle – award-winning illustrator

Diane Stark – award-winning author

Jim Watkins – award-winning author

Please check more details about this faculty at https://www.facebook.com/MontroseChristianWriters/ For more details about the conference and registration forms, please go to http://www.montrosebible.org

Register now, gather your tote bag full of your work, and get ready for July 14th. I’ll look for you then at Montrose!

Marsha, Director

 

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