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Posts Tagged ‘nonfiction writing’

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.

 

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April 25, 2016

 

Research for Nonfiction

 

Do I Need To Do Research for my Nonfiction Work?

Detective.w.Spy.Glass.Cartoon

“Well, that’s a no-brainer,” you say. “Even if you’re writing your life history, you’d probably need an ancient facts book to see what REALLY BIG happened the year you were born. Duh. Nonfiction means ‘no fakey talkey.’”

Right. We all assume, and correctly, that nonfiction requires research, except maybe if you’re writing poetry, although you need to keep your facts straight there, too, if you’re writing practically anything but mushy love notes.

Let’s discuss the importance of keeping good notes and doing the necessary research to make your manuscript a reliable and trustworthy document.

How About the Internet?

Yes, Google has brought to all of us a library on our desks in our homes. But, please reconsider Wikipedia for all your research. It’s all right to use it as a reference, but sometimes online sources are not 100% accurate. You need to spend some time at the brick-and-mortar library. And not just hanging around the encyclopedia shelves either.

Let’s say you plan to write a coffee table book that would attract sports car racing fans. You want to find facts and photos about “The First Car Races in the United States.”

Online searches and encyclopedias are a good place to start, but only a good place to start. Where else can you find information about early car races? Let’s list a few:

1.Libraries (more than one, including public libraries and college libraries), which should have a wealth of all kinds of books about the topic

2.Racing magazine archives

3.Biographies and autobiographies of famous “car people” like Henry Ford

4.Race tracks, contemporary race car drivers, local auto racing clubs

5.Race car museums

6.Manufacturing plants of race cars

There are just a few ideas of where you could get your facts for your project.

So after you start collecting the facts, what’s the best way to save them?

Of course, an accurate bibliography is essential. I recommend keeping all your notes not only on paper in a file but feeding them into a computer file and on back-up flash drives or CDs for safe keeping, as well. You never know what might happen to just one file, either in the computer or outside of it. I’ve lost items much bigger than a file of papers in my feeble-brained moments.

I can’t express more clearly at this time the importance of keeping that bibliography as detailed as you can. If at all possible, record publishing dates and companies of all facts gathered. Record phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses of all folks interviewed, or the sources of all information (if available), and don’t skimp on the details. You just might need to “prove” to your editor that your facts are correct.

Case in Point: when I wrote my ladies’ Bible study guide, DRAW ME CLOSER, LORD, A WOMAN’S GUIDE TO A MEANINGFUL PRAYER LIFE, several years back, I took a full year to write it because of the research involved. I used not only the Bible extensively, but I also used 19 other resources, all of them books, many written by famous pastors or missionaries on the topic of prayer, to substantiate my statements. I also had to do research for every song lyric or poem I quoted at the end of each of the ten lessons. I needed to know if the words I wished to copy were in the public domain, (older than 70 years for the hymns I wanted to use), or if I had to acquire permission to use the words or even purchase the rights such as in the case of a Helen Steiner Rice poem, which I wanted to quote two or three lines. (That purchase price was extremely high, so I used another poem with no reprint fee—one of my own!)

I vividly remember talking to the editor at the publishing company who had contracted with me for the Bible study guide. She made it quite clear to me that it was MY responsibility to send her all the “permission slips” to use any other author’s poems or any composer’s lyrics. I also remember she told me I had to have documentation from said authors or composers to send to her before the company would publish the book.

Well, now, if I hadn’t written down where I had found some of the poems I wanted to use or some of the hymns’ lyrics, I would’ve been in a big research waning mess. But, fortunately, I had documented all of the above.

I remember one incident when I found the phone number (I don’t remember how) of one of the poets whose poem I wished to use. I called the number, and the poet’s husband answered, telling me that his wife had passed away several years ago. After I offered him my condolences, I explained that I wanted to use one of her poems in my book, and he graciously consented to send me a written statement, which I then forwarded to my editor.

Now, can you see what it took me a full year to write the Bible study guide? Accuracy takes time!

So, my strongest note of encouragement to you is to keep accurate and detailed notes of every little tidbit of information you use. You have no idea what your editor will ask for. And if you decide to self publish, you need all the more to be accurate and to have permission when permission to copy is due. One thing you don’t need accompanying the joy of seeing your name in print is a lawsuit in tomorrow’s mailbox.

Happy researching!

P.S. Time to register for the Montrose Christian Writers Conference. You won’t be sorry! Please check http://www.montrosebible.org/OurEvents/tabid/113/page_550/1/eventid_550/58/Default.aspx for all the details.

Marsha

http://www.marshahubler.com

http://www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

 

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