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Posts Tagged ‘learning to write’

On Writing: The Editor Connection

As a beginner over 20 years ago, I didn’t have a clue about connecting with editors. I thought all I had to do was look up a publishing company’s address in the Writers’ Market Guide, send off my manuscript after I wrote it and revised it once, and then wait for the check to arrive in the mail.

Boy, did I have a lot to learn! Over the years, I’ve accumulated some wisdom that I’d like to pass on to you. Each of these “talking points” could be developed into an essay of sorts, but for convenience’s sake, we’ll just make a quickie list for you to ponder and then, in turn, to analyze your own progress in becoming a published author:

1. Study the market and make sure your manuscript matches what the publishing company is looking for. This is the number one reason that writers are rejected. A story about your favorite pet cow won’t make it in a horse magazine!
2. Follow the submission guidelines to the T if you even want to be considered. If the editor wants a proposal or a query letter first, then learn how to do those two “writing projects” well and submit them first.
3. Have your manuscript critiqued several times by other writers you know (like in a critique group). If you have the financial means, hire a freelance editor to refine your copy. If you don’t do this, the editor at the publishing company might read only one or two paragraphs of your submission and go no farther because of poor writing. “Duh, shure eye kin spel; did eye miss sumpthun?”
3. If you have an editor who is interested in your work, send it to him/her immediately. The longer you wait, the fuzzier his/her mind will become about your query or proposal.
4. Be patient when waiting to hear from an editor. These days it can take anywhere from three months to six months, maybe longer, to hear from an editor. The sad thing of late is that some publishing companies are not responding to writers’ queries or manuscripts unless they have been accepted. This can become a frustrating waiting game with no end. Therefore, find companies that accept multiple submissions, and send five or six out at a time. If you’ve heard nothing after six months, I suggest emailing or calling the editor, but not before.
5. The best way to “connect” with editors is to attend writers’ conferences. Yes, you have to dig deep into your starving author pocket to pay the conferees’ fee and other expenses, but in this business, it takes money to earn money.

Of the four book contracts I’ve acquired, three of them came from meeting editors at writers conferences. I’ve also had poetry, children’s short stories, and articles published in magazines by meeting the editors at conferences. Editors love to “connect” writers’ names with their faces. It’s a big plus for you and them alike.

So there you have a few tips to help you get started on the road to publication. Next time, I’ll address the topic of working with an editor once you get that acceptance letter or phone call.

I remember my very first phone conversation with an editor who wanted to do my Keystone Stables series (18 years ago already), and it was a thrill which I shall never forget.

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

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Six Tips for Beginners

So, you’ve got your blank screen before you, you’ve got a tremendous idea for the “next great American novel,” you’ve got your dictionary, thesaurus, Elements of Style, and your Chicago Manual of Style ready. You rub your hands together, blow on your fingernails, and say, “Look out, world. Here comes brilliance!”

If you’ve never tried writing anything but eight-line poems or a letter to the newspaper’s editor once in a while, there are a few tips I’d like to share with you to help you not only write well but also get published. You might not be ready for a novel; perhaps, a 1200-word fiction story or article would be the best way to start.

Whether you’re determined to write a novel or start with shorter stuff, the tips I want to share will help. They’ll also be brief and to the point. In other words, I will not expound with long, convoluted sentences, which is one of the tips I have for you.

Tips to Help You Write Well:

1. Don’t write long, convoluted sentences. Write short, poignant sentences with very few flowery words and long descriptive paragraphs. Today’s readers won’t stand for your showing off for pages of narration that will bore them to death and cause them to set a match to your work.

2. Avoid the exclamation mark! One per page is often too many. Use clever words to emphasize emotion and action. Stay away from the exclamation mark!

3. Even if you’re writing fiction, be accurate. Do your homework. If you’re describing a fire scene, make sure you visit your local fire company and get all the details of what fire fighting is all about.

4. Stay away from fancy words. Go for simple active verbs, not descriptive adverbs and impressive adjectives. Instead of “She walked limply and lazily” try “She hobbled.”

5. Avoid figures of speech. They often distract your readers from the real core meaning of your sentence or paragraph. It just makes your reader think you were too lazy to put your own words together to write a clever line.

6. Try to stay in the background, like, invisible. A skillful writer will have his/her readers engrossed in the story, identifying with the character or theme and will not give the author a second thought. Not until the last page. Then the readers are free to exclaim, “Wow! What a story!” (And with the exclamation marks!)

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

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Start saving and make plans to join us next July 12th to the 17th at the 31st Montrose Christian Writers Conference in Montrose, PA. We have editors, agents, and best-selling authors on faculty to help you with any facet of your writing. :) 

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IT’S OVER! 

Writers' Theatre 

Thursday Evening’s Writers’ Theatre

BUT PLAN FOR MCWC 2018!

The 2017 Montrose Christian Writers Conference is history. I can’t believe it’s three weeks ago already that the conference was underway. 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, Conrad and Donna Krieger, talented musicians, who once again 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 300 books to sell. Along with those book donations, faculty and conferees “purchased” dozens and dozens of those used books and many MCWC can coolers to support the General Scholarship Fund. We raised over $500 to help future conferees with their finances as well as donating $350 to the kitchen staff, many who work as volunteers or get paid minimal salaries.

When our conference closed on Friday, July 21st, we always end with a short praise and worship time, a challenge from a faculty member, 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.         The closing on Friday morning: our circle of friendship, singing, and prayer.

I overheard one gal say “just had to come back next year” and she planned 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.

If you’ve never been to our Montrose Christian Writers Conference, please consider joining us next year. Mark the dates on your calendar: July 22nd to the 27th. 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 11 short months! God bless your writing endeavors over the next year.

P.S. Whether you attended or not, you might enjoy looking at my Pinterest 2017 MCWC Board with over 100 photos of the conference’s faculty, conferees, and events:

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

Marsha, Director

1 Corinthians 15:10

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The Evening Sessions and Perks at this Year’s MCWC

Learning to write well and how to get that manuscript published is just the start of the terrific week planned for the 2017 Montrose Christian Writers Conference from Sunday, July 16th to Friday, July 21st. Besides a keynote address by Torry Martin on Sunday evening, four morning challenges, and over 40 workshops, there are numerous evening activities and perks to keep every writer’s mind churning with new ideas:

EVENING EVENTS

MONDAY: TORRY’S POTPOURRI – an organic event that will leave you talking. Whether that’s good or bad is yet to be determined.

TUESDAY: MASTER-piece PAINT NIGHT or TORRY’S MOVIE or FREE TIME –

Painting: a fun activity simplified so anyone can do it. Cost for the event is $20. (Dave Weiss) or A Night at the Movies: view one of Torry Martin’s latest films, “Heaven Bound.”

WEDNESDAY: PICTURES OF JESUS – Dave Weiss will present “Pictures of Jesus,” a program including storytelling, video, and five live paintings each painted in six minutes or less.

THURSDAY: WRITERS’ THEATER: another opportunity for you to shine! Bring your own work, an excerpt from a short story, memoir, novel, or a poem and trimmed to three minutes and read it to the conferees at the Writers’ Theater, a delightful program that celebrates your creativity.

SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES

EDITORIAL APPOINTMENTS: Private 15-minute appointments with editors and agents to show them material which may be suitable for their publications and/or to discuss ideas for stories. Sign-up sheets available at the conference. Bring professionally prepared manuscripts. Be sure to bring copies! No charge.

PROFESSIONAL CRITIQUES: a great opportunity to have your work evaluated by a published professional. You’ll receive a written evaluation of your manuscript plus a 30-minute private appointment to discuss ways to improve and/or market your piece.

Register for MCWC by June 27 and request guidelines for emailing your manuscript. $40.00 per critique.

  • Vie Herlocker–Christian living, devotionals, memoirs, fiction – any except romance (max. 6 )
  • Gloria Penwell – Bible studies (max. 4)
  • Patti Souder – Drama sketches, monologues, 10-minute plays. (Max. 6)
  • Mike Dellosso – suspense/mystery, spec fic., contemporary, and memoir. No romance, historical, or Amish. (max. 6)
  • B.J. Taylor – Inspirational short stories for Guideposts/Angels on Earth/Mysterious Ways/Chicken Soup for the Soul; Memoirs (max. 6)
  • Diane Stark – Creative nonfiction, essays, parenting articles, 1st person pieces for anthologies (max. 5)

MORNING WORK-IN-PROGRESS: Picture books with Carol Wedeven: $40 (4 sessions) OR a Teen Track with Cathy Mayfield: $25 (4 sessions)

AFTERNOON WORK-IN-PROGRESS: Poetry with Lora Zill: $25 (3 sessions)

CRITIQUE GROUPS and GENRES of INTEREST GROUPS: Opportunity for feedback from other writers. No charge. Held from Monday to Thursday at 4:30

BOOK TABLE: Features books by faculty and conferees. When registering, please indicate books you’ve written which you would like to sell.

BUDGET BOOK SALE AGAIN THIS YEAR! Too many books on your shelves? Bring them with you and donate them to our Budget Book Sale. Looking for some good books at budget prices? Check out this special sale. All proceeds go to the General Scholarship Fund.

FREEBIES: Complimentary publishers’ guidelines and sample copies to save you time and postage.

RECORDINGS: Listen to the sessions you missed or those you want to hear again (Easily loaded into your computer). 

SCHOLARSHIPS:

Shirley Brinkerhoff Memorial Scholarship – $100 grant for tuition: Awarded to a writer actively striving to hone the craft of writing who has not yet secured a publishing contract. Applications are available at montrosebible.org/writers.htm.

General Scholarship help is available according to need. Please inquire when registering.

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Don’t wait any longer to register. The classes are filling up fast! (Check out all the details at http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx )

Marsha, Director

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January 19, 2015

Who Needs Writers Conferences Anyway?

 MCWC.Duck.Welcome.Sign.on.Porch.7.22.14

Since I’ve assumed the directorship of the Montrose Christian Writers Conference in Montrose, Pennsylvania (held this year from July 19th to the 24th), I guess there’s no better time to share my feelings about the importance of writers conference than now.

I think I attended my first writers conference in the late 90s and had an earth-shaking, eye-opening experience that changed my writing life. Since I had published a few poems, letters to the editor in the newspaper, and an article or two in some magazines, I thought I knew something and had a handle on writing when I went to the first conference, which was a one-Carol.Connie.Tracy.other.conferee.in.D.Rm.day event on the border of PA and MD. I sat there all day with my mouth hanging open in a variety of workshops , realizing I knew NOTHING about the writing/publishing world. From that moment on, I decided to attend as many Christian writers conferences as possible. From 1999, I’ve attended the Montrose Christian Writers Conference every year, and that conference has helped me become the writer I am today.

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 usually take you from A to Z concerning the writing/publishing business with fresh ideas for you to try. Do you have any idea at all how to market your book or start a blog? You’ll find out at most writers conferences PLUS a lot more.

You make new long-lasting writer friends, kindred spirits who think just like you do. (They don’t call us “Odd Ducks” for nothing.) When you’re writing in your home for months on end and no one in your family and your friends understand, it’s nice to have a list of writer friends to e-mail or call, just for encouragement. Where better to meet those folks than at writers Walk.w.Joan.and.Faith.at.Montroseconferences!

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 book contracts by meeting editors or agents at Montrose. Most writers conferences attempt to have a faculty line-up, (including editors and agents) who represents various genres in the business:

Magazine articles and non-fiction books

Devotionals

Kids fiction and short stories

Humorous articles for newspapers and magazines

Poetry and screenwriting

Fiction (with numerous subgenres like fantasy, romance, Amish, etc.)

There’s always something at writers conferences for every writer of every genre. So if you’ve never been to a writers conference, you don’t know what you’re missing. If you’re dead serious about being a published author, then please plan to attend writers conferences. I can’t think of a better place to start than at Montrose this coming July! I’d love to see you there! (Visit the MCWC website http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx and review last year’s schedule. We’re working on this year’s faculty and will post new information as soon as possible.)

MLH.MCWC

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