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WRITERS, GET YOUR MANUSCRIPT READY FOR PUBLICATION!

Writers, what’s your passion? Fiction? Devotionals? Personal interest stories? Film? Poetry? Picture books? Drama? Other?

Then it’s your time to come to the Montrose Christian Writers Conference, July 16th to the 21st at the Montrose Bible Conference Center, Montrose, PA. You’ll have a choice of over 40 classes, work-in-progress seminars, peer critique group interaction, and private interviews with faculty members to help you get your manuscript ready for publication. Following is a list of the afternoon classes offered:

Indie Publishing vs. Royalty Publishing. What’s New? Faculty Panel Discussion

Why Drama?

Formatting before Beginning

Fiction: Character Building (Part One)

21 Ways to Overcome Writers Block

Get the Most out of the Conference

The Art of Collaborative Writing

Fiction: Character Building (Part Two)

Conducting High Profile Interviews

Blogging 101

Creating a Viable Stage Production

Shock the Clock: Time Management

Marketing for Writers Who Don’t Like to Market

Seeing Through the Eyes of a Child

Powerful Sentence Structures

Fiction: Setting and Description

Write for your Life

Prayer in the Life of a Writer

Creative Blockbusters

Making your Fiction Matter

Writing for Parenting Magazines

Blogging 102

Format and Performance Know-how

Writing Compelling Devotions

No Market for your Book? What to Do

Putting Characters in Place

PUGS Specifics for Christian Writers

Writing for Guideposts and the Guideposts Contest

Graduation Time; What’s Next?

Bible Studies that Sell

Real “Artist-Ship”

Aspects of the Editing Process

Breaking into Anthologies

Social Media 101

Sharing the Fun of Drama

Column Writer as a Platform Builder

Peace in the Literary Storm

Writing for Picture: Magazine or Picture Book for Children?

Understanding the Business of Writing for Publication

Selling Personal Experience Short Stories

What’s an Edit?

Irresistible Queries and Proposals

Proofread with Excellence

Writing the Profile Piece

Please check out all th details at

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

I look forward to meeting you  July 16th!

Marsha, Director

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DO YOU KNOW YOUR WRITING/IMG_9699PUBLISHING TERMS?

This past Montrose Christian Writers Conference in July, we had a lot of fun on Wednesday evening playing a Jeopardy-type quiz game with faculty and conferees called the Odd Ducks’ Dilemma. One of the categories on the quiz board was entitled WRITING/PUBLISHING TERMS, which the contestants who were seasoned writers had no problem answering. But the newbies to this business got stumped several times.

In this blog post, we have the list of the writing/publishing terms included in the conference quiz game. For you who are more experienced, this little quiz will be old hat for you. It’s a 20-question matching quiz to sharpen the writing/publishing part of your brain. So, take a few minutes, grab a pen and paper, and let’s go:

  1. _______GENRE   A. $ EARNED AFTER BOOK IS OUT

 

  1. _______MANUSCRIPT SUB. B. YOUR NAME PRINTED W/ARTICLE

 

  1. _______ QUERY LETTER C.  SUMMARY OF BOOK ON COVER

 

  1. _______ COVER LETTER D.  UNDERLYING MESSAGE

 

  1. _______ PROPOSAL E.  CLEVER BEGINNING OF STORY

 

  1. _______ CRITIQUE/EDIT F.  CATEGORY

 

  1. _______ REJECTION  G.  “PLEASE LOOK AT MY WORK”

 

  1. _______ CONTRACT H.  ALL ABOUT YOU & YOUR WORK

 

  1. _______ MARKETING/PROMO I.  “DOES NOT MEET OUR NEEDS”

 

10._______ PITCH   J.  SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT YOU

 

11._______ HOOK     K. SENDING IT TO THE PUB. CO.

 

12._______ STORY LINE   L. “ENCLOSED PLEASE FIND …”

 

13._______ THEME    M.  $ FOR NOT BEING PUBLISHED

 

14._______ PLOT      N. EARNED BEFORE BOOK IS OUT

 

15._______ BLURB     O. ESSENTIAL REVIEW OF WORK

 

16._______ CREDITS   P. OF THIS A WRITER DREAMS

 

17._______ BYLINE   Q. LIST OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS

 

18._______ ADVANCE   R. ACTION IN YOUR STORY

 

19._______ROYALTY  S. WHAT YOUR STORY IS ABOUT

 

20._______KILL FEE T. THE EDITOR’S INTEREST PEAKS

 

Well, how do you think you did?  Here are the answers:

  1. F
  2.  K
  3.  G
  4.  L
  5.  H
  6. O
  7.  I
  8.  P
  9.  J
  10.  T
  11. E
  12. S
  13. D
  14. R
  15. C
  16. Q
  17. B
  18. N
  19. A
  20. M

If you missed this year’s Montrose Christian Writers Conference, you missed a real treat. Next year’s conference is scheduled for July 16th-21st, and we’ve already gotten verbal commitments from some of the faculty: film actor and best-selling author Torry Martin, fiction expert Barbara Scott representing Gilead Press, award-winning B.J. Taylor representing Guideposts and Inspiring Voices, Gloria Penwell representing Bold Vision Books,  Carol Wedeven doing a picture book WIP, Cathy Mayfield doing a WIP Teen Track, fiction author Mike Dellosso, and Don Catlett will be back with updates about blogging and social media and private mentoring sessions.

Watch for more updates as I connect with more best-selling authors, agents, and editors to make next year’s MCWC a double dynamite conference!

Keep on writing!

Marsha, Director

 

More shameless promotion

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TEN REASONS WHY YOU MIGHT MISS

THE 2016 MONTROSE CHRISTIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE

Sad.Smiley.Face

 God told you to write your book, and it’s fine the way it is.

You don’t have the time. You have to clean the refrigerator and watch the grass grow.

You don’t have the money. Your Bowser says he’s out of bacon bites and sausage treats.

You don’t know how to get to Montrose. All the airports are closed, your GPS is on vacation, and MapQuest is being updated.

You can’t find your manuscript on your computer: (no further explanation needed).

You feel the faculty members have nothing to help you because you know everything there is to know about writing.

You don’t knead anyone to edit yore wirk because your reel good with grammer and speling. You got a C+ in high school Englsih, and that’s good enuff.

Your Aunt Izzy read your book, and she thinks it’s the most wonderful thing she’s ever read.  She’s going to give you the money to self publish it.

You’ve revised your manuscript twice, and you don’t need any smart alec editor telling you to change it AGAIN!

You haven’t been published yet, so you’ve decided to quit writing. After all, you’ve been doing it three months already, for gravy’s sake!

BUT WAIT! THERE’S STILL TIME TO REGISTER FOR THIS YEAR’S MONTROSE CHRISTIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE AND FIND OUT HOW TO GET YOUR WORK READY FOR PUBLICATION!

Access to the registration form is at the bottom. 

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

I’d love to see you there next week!

Marsha

Best-selling Author of the Keystone Stables books

(Web) www.marshahubler.com

(Horse Facts Blog)

www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

 

(More shameless promotion)

ON THE VICTORY TRAIL

BOOK 2 in THE KEYSTONE STABLES SERIES

Book2.On.Victory.Trail.Cover

Foster kid Skye faces the toughest trial of her 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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December 28, 2015

Fiction That Wows (Part 11)

Theme Vs. Plot

Some writers, in particular newbies to the writing/publishing world, tend to confuse “theme” and “plot” when writing their short stories, novels, or series. Some writers use the terms interchangeably, which is in err.

So, what exactly are these two important entities that every clever writer uses effectively in his/her writing? How does an author incorporate the two to make a fiction piece that wows?

Webster’s New World Dictionary defines theme as: “a recurring, unifying subject or idea.” It defines plot as: “the plan of action of a play, short story, poem, or novel.”

Now, did you catch the two key words that really define “theme” and “plot?”

Very simply defined, theme = IDEA. Plot = ACTION.

When incorporating your theme, think IDEA. The theme is the philosophy, the moral background, or the religious belief behind your story. A theme is not stated with words anywhere in your writing, except possibly in your proposal to an editor. Your reader should never see a sentence in your novel that says something like this: “The theme of this novel is ‘Be sure your sin will find you out.’” The theme is a “hidden” or underlying message that the reader will sense in your writing and embrace or reject when he gets to the last page.

Let’s look at a few examples of “theme” and “plot” to clarify their definitions and role in the writing of a novel.

Examples of “Theme”:

(There are dozens, if not hundreds, of themes you can embrace. The theme will evolve from your own personal view of life)

  • Forgiveness is possible
  • The love of money is the root of all evil
  • Persistence pays off
  • Unconditional love
  • Loyalty to family and friends(Every book has a different plot; thus, there are zillions of plot ideas)
  •  Examples of “Plot:”
  • A boy and dog are separated, but the dog finds his way back to the boy.
  • A foster girl who hates everyone and herself is sent by the court to live with Christian parents who have a special needs horse ranch
  • A large book store owner forces a small book store owner out of business
  • When a man, his wife, and daughter agree to move in with an elderly woman and become her housekeepers, they discover shocking secrets from her past.
  • A woman wins twenty million dollars in the lottery but gambles it away and loses everything, even her home and car, in three months.
  • There you have a very simple sampling of what “theme” and “plot” are all about. Get a good handle on the definitions and use of these two words, and you’ll improve your writing in leaps and bounds.

Marsha

(Web) www.marshahubler.com

(Writers Tips) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com

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

(Horse Facts Blog) www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

 

(More Shameless Promotion)

 

SNOW, PHANTOM STALLION OF THE POCONOS

 SNOW

Dallis Parker copes with bullying at school by dreaming about owning Snow, a wild Mustang, who most folks believe doesn’t even exist. Then she actually touches the horse, and her life is changed forever.

http://www.amazon.com/Snow-Phantom-Stallion-Marsha-Hubler-ebook/dp/B013GUF078/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1449523382&sr=1-1&keywords=Snow%2C+Phantom+Stallion+of+the+Poconos

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Nov. 9, 2015

Fiction That Wows Your Reader (Part 5)

Writing Outside the Box

stock-photo-happy-child-playing-in-cardboard-box-kid-having-fun-at-home-303306602

First, let’s define the term “outside the box.” What in heaven’s name does that mean? “Write outside the box.”

Well, in plain language, it means to write a plot and develop characters that don’t have a normal humdrum boring story line or everyday blah life.

As a short exercise in my presentation, I always cite some average boring story lines and ask my class to change the plot so that it’s outside the box. One example I cite is the following:

“A little girl finds a nest of baby bunnies in her back yard.”

Now, of course, everyone is immediately drawn to the “outside the box” famous children’s story, Alice in Wonderland, where Alice finds a whole new world, not a nest of baby bunnies.

Several years ago, I presented this workshop to a group of writers and asked how to change the story line. One fellow in the back of the room raised his hand and said, “How about if a big rabbit finds a nest of little girls in his back yard?”

I said to him, “Sir, you are DEFINITELY thinking outside the box. Go for it.”

Just for the fun of it, I’m going to list about 10 different story lines. Analyze each one. If you can change the plot to move it outside the box, do so. But some of the story lines are already outside the box and are, in fact, famous stories or books written by best-selling published authors. See if you can identify those that are already great plots.

So, which of these would you like to continue to read?

  1. A little girl saves enough money to buy a horse at auction.
  2. A bitter sea captain of a sailing ship hunts for a white sperm whale to kill him.
  3. A newly married couple tours Paris, France, and enjoys all the sites.
  4. A boy is shipwrecked on an island with only a wild stallion that won’t let him get near him.
  5. A middle-aged woman works at Wal-Mart, saving enough money to take a trip to Hawaii.
  6. A young pioneer woman is left alone on the prairie in her covered wagon when her husband falls from his horse and is killed.
  7. The neighbor’s cat has a litter of six kittens underneath a little boy’s porch.
  8. A collie dog, sold and taken away from the boy he loves, travels a long distance through life-threatening dangers to return to his boy.
  9. A young unmarried girl decides to marry her childhood sweetheart.
  10. An unmarried woman on a plantation in a southern state faces the harsh reality of post Civil War life and the loss of all she held dear.

Well, how did you do? Did you analyze the boring plots and the character development and decide what you could do to make them better? (Numbers 1, 3, 5, 7, 9)

And did you identify the best-selling books/movies in numbers 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10?

MOBY DICK

THE BLACK STALLION

LOVE COMES SOFTLY

LASSIE, COME HOME

GONE WITH THE WIND

When you analyze what makes these million-dollar story lines what they are, you’ll be on your way to writing, possibly, the next great American novel. And all the while you’re writing, keep on reading. Read tons of books, especially in the subgenre in which you are writing, and learn how the masters did it. Maybe someday, your name will be on a best-seller list with the rest of them!

Marsha (Web) www.marshahubler.com

(Writers Tips) www.marshahubler.wordpress.com

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

(Horse Facts Blog) www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

******

(More Shameless Promotion)

Book2.On.Victory.Trail.Cover

ON THE VICYTORY TRAIL

 (Book 2 in the Keystone Stables Series)

Skye faces the challenge of her life when her best friend, Sooze, develops a brain tumor.

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July 6, 2015

You Should Tell, Not Show?

In my last blog, I focused on “showing,” not “telling” in narration, and I gave you an example of lousy narration versus that which will catch the eye of the beholder.

Let’s continue with the premise that good narration can be “telling,” not “showing” if handled properly. If you do need to “expound” about details that you simply can’t include in dialogue, then I suggest following the next few steps to good “telling:”

  1. “Paint” a picture with your words that includes as many of the senses as you can. (Remember my waterfall scene in the last blog?) Think of your reader as one of the characters so he/she experiences the same thing your characters are experiencing.
  2. If you are going to open your book (or each chapter, for that matter) with narration and not dialogue, hook your reader. That all important first paragraph of your novel will either inspire your reader to go on or cause him to yawn and put your book down. Check the opening paragraphs of best-selling authors and analyze how they grab your attention in that first paragraph.
  3. Even though you’re probably writing your novel in one predominant character’s voice, good narration often establishes an omniscient voice, one that is authoritative and sets the general mood of the novel. The earlier you accomplish this, the better. (Again, study the beginning chapters of some great novels. What voice does the writer present in the narration?)
  4. Do not expound for pages and pages of narration. That’s a sure-way to lose your reader. Condense and summarize if nothing exciting is happening to your character. Remember our literature AND our readers today in our fast-moving society are both a far cry from the novels or fans of that style or writing from decades ago.
  5. Dialogue is not always the way to go with back story. If details are not that important in a character’s past life, you can work it in to the manuscript so that your character is reflecting into the past. Don’t bore your reader with unimportant details!
  6. Shorten your narration to a few sentences if you’re describing secondary characters. You can’t always show every single action, dialogue, or mood of all your characters. It isn’t necessary. There are times when you will want to economize your method and just plain “tell” the reader what happened. But as a skillful storyTELLER, you can refine your writing style and keep your reader on the edge of his seat, even if you are “telling,” not “showing.”

So there you have it. Telling is not always bad. It depends entirely on the skill you incorporate to hook that reader and keep his attention through your spurts of narration.

 

************************************

TIME TO REGISTER FOR THE

MONTROSE CHRISTIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE!

Jim.Director

Becky and Jim Fahringer

(Directors of the Montrose Bible Conference Center)

July 19th-24th

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

Four Major Morning Continuing Classes

40 Afternoon Workshops

Paid Professional Critiques with Award-Winning Authors and Editors

Fellowship with Other Authors, Agents, and Editors

EVA.MARIE.EVERSON.Photo

Award-winning Eva Marie Everson

will present Foundations of Fiction through Film

(6 sessions)

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December 29, 2014

Twelve Common Mistakes Found in Fiction Manuscripts

Mistake Number Twelve: The Lack of Emotion or Action

This is the twelfth blog discussing some common mistakes found in fiction manuscripts from early readers and chapter books to adult novels of various subgenres. We’re finally coming to the end of this list and will do one more, a Baker’s Dozen Special, of what I believe are the most important common mistakes in fiction writing. Today we’ll look at “The Lack of Emotion or Action,” which is a bedfellow of last time’s topic, “The Lack of Sensory Detail.”

Too much description and narration

Switching viewpoints in the same scene

A negative tone throughout the story

Infallible or underdeveloped characters

Stilted or unnatural dialogue

No significant conflict

Weak transitions between paragraphs

Impossible resolutions

Redundancy

Passive verbs instead of active verbs

Lack of sensory detail

Lack of emotion or action

Baker’s Dozen: (Telling instead of showing)

The Lack of Emotion or Action

As with a manuscript that lacks sensory detail, a piece of fiction that lacks emotion or action is considered “flat writing.” The best place you can find perfect examples of this type of writing is probably lying on your sofa or on the floor at your computer station: the local newspaper. Besides the absence of any dialogue, newspaper article writing is as “flat” as a piece of wet cardboard run over by a semi.

You’d be surprised how many fiction manuscripts I’ve reviewed over the last year that read like last evening’s newspaper edition. One of the key elements in writing excellent fiction is incorporating lots of emotion or action in your story. A clever writer will give some “life” to those main characters by adding their feelings or having them move around a little. Although in real life, everyone’s universe does start at the breakfast table every morning, every scene shouldn’t open there. (What’s easier than writing a scene with everyone sitting at a table?)

So… let’s analyze a few fiction examples. Take note of what senses are used in each example, either too sparingly or with skill to make the passage come alive.

Example One:

Flat Writing-

Tommy was afraid he wasn’t going to get the Monopoly game he wanted for Christmas. On Christmas morning, he slowly walked into the living room and sat in front of the rectangular box all wrapped in shiny red paper. He thought it looked like it could be that game he wanted so badly, so he picked it up and slowly opened it, almost afraid to do so.

Incorporating Emotion or Action

All Tommy wanted for Christmas was a Monopoly game. On Christmas morning, he bounded down the stairs and tore into the living room. He trembled as he examined all the gifts, focusing on one box in shiny red paper that just HAD to be the Monopoly game.

“Mom, is that what I think it is?” His heart raced so fast, he thought it would crash through his chest.

“Well, what are you waiting for?” Mom said. “Open it and see.”

Example Two:

Flat Writing-

As Mr. Chambers led the horse out of the barn, Skye studied the horse from head to tail. The horse’s coat was shiny, and his muscles rippled. His mane and tail blew in the breeze. Skye was really scared, but she also thought the horse was really pretty. Even though she was nervous, she decided she wanted to try to get to know the horse a lot better.

Incorporating Emotion or Action-

Out of the shadows came Mr. Chambers leading the sorrel gelding. Skye studied the horse from head to tail as the two approached. The morning sun bounced off his reddish-brown coat, making him look like he had been polished with expensive oil. Champ’s muscles rippled as he pranced, and his mane and tail whisked in the breeze. Scared as Skye was, she was overwhelmed by the beauty of this magnificent horse. Now, suddenly, her wobbly legs had some competition—a melting heart and half a will to at least try to get to know this gorgeous beast.

(From A HORSE TO LOVE, by Marsha Hubler, Zonderkidz 2009, p. 38)

Example Three:

Flat Writing-

Rodney watched Sharon, the love of his life from his past. Then he looked at the child she carried, supposedly his child. Once again he looked at Sharon, whom he hadn’t heard from in two years. She sat waiting for his response. Finally, he asked her, “If this is so, why haven’t you contacted me before?”

Incorporating Emotion or Action-

Rodney’s mind emptied of every rational thought as he studied Sharon, the love of his life from his past. Then he focused on the child—his child—supposedly. He forced his attention and shifted back on the gal he left behind and hadn’t heard from in two years….who sat waiting for his response. This has to be a mistake. Finally, his scrambled emotions let him speak. “If this is so, why have you never contacted me before?”

(From RHONDA FINDS TRUE LOVE, volume 5 in THE SNYDER COUNTY QUILTING BEE SERIES by Marsha Hubler, Helping Hands Press, 2014, p.9)

So, there you have three simple examples of how to get rid of all the flatbread in your writing and add a little pizzazz. Remember as you revise, it’s not what you write, it’s how you write it that either puts your readers to sleep or makes them want to turn the page to see what happens next.

Next time we’ll take a look at the last of what I believe are the most detrimental mistakes in fiction writing, Baker’s Dozen Mistake Number Thirteen: Telling Instead of Showing.

Happy writing!

 

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