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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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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

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Character Development

cartoon-worker-flexing-his-muscles-isolated-37246000

 

He’s a Nice Man? She’s a Nice Lady? Really?

 

Anyone who has tried to write fiction for any length of time realizes that character development is quite important to help your story move along and not be “flat.”

A writer who works diligently at his craft will spend much time developing his primary and secondary characters so that they jump out on the page and practically hug the reader, inviting him to join the party!

So, how is a character developed cleverly so that his description, life’s ambitions, demeanor, habits, quirks, and personal appearance are shown not told?

I guess the best way to demonstrate the proper technique is to “show” and not “tell,” so what we’ll do is look at some bad examples and then turn them into good examples.

Before studying the examples, please remember one important rule when working on character development. Listing all of the character’s traits in one paragraph is about the most boring technique a writer could ever use. A writer who develops his characters properly will embed all of the traits into the narration and/or dialogue so that the reader hardly notices what’s been done, yet will enjoy getting to know the characters on a personal level.

Now, let’s look at some bad examples and then compare them with some good examples:

Bad Example Number One: (Description)

“It’s me, Tanya!” She was so nervous, her voice quivered. Tanya was a tall African American teenager who had a nice shape. She wore a ponytail with long ringlets hanging down in front of her ears. Even though it was cold, all she had on were a thin jacket and jeans. She was really cold.

Good Example Number One:

“It’s me, Tanya!” a quivering voice answered. A tall African-American teenager stepped into the doorway, now in full view of the overhead lights. The girl folded her arms in a futile attempt to keep warm, her shapely frame covered with just a thin denim jacket and jeans. Her short ponytail and long strands of ringlets in front of her ears quivered as she tried to keep warm. (From Keystone Stables Book 3: Southern Belle’s Special Gift, p. 11, by Marsha Hubler)

Bad Example Number Two: (Demeanor or Personality)

Skye Nicholson was a thirteen-year-old brat who had been in trouble with the law for years. Now she found herself sitting in a courtroom, which didn’t seem to bother her one bit. She had a terrible temper, which her lawyer tried to control while they sat before the judge for Skye’s hearing. Skye slumped in her seat and yawned. She was really ignorant.

Good Example Number Two:

Skye Nicholson looked cold as an ice cube as she slumped in the wooden chair and stared back at Judge Mitchell. Most ordinary thirteen-year-olds would have been scared to death as a hearing with an angry judge yelling at the top of his lungs. But Skye was no ordinary thirteen-year-old. Her anger matched the judge’s. Only Wilma Jones, her court-appointed lawyer, prevented Skye from exploding. (From Keystone Stables Book 1: A Horse to Love, p.9, by Marsha Hubler)

Bad Example Number Three – (Description of a horse):

The horse was a beauty. He was a reddish-brown color, and he had a stripe down the middle of his face. His ears were real pointy. His mane and tail were silky and his coat was real smooth. He didn’t smell horsey at all. He smelled kind of like fresh-cut hay.

Good Example Number Three – (Description of the same horse):

The horse’s sharp ears pricked forward as if it could read her mind. A white stripe ran down the middle of its face, and its soft mane and tail blew in the breeze like corn silk. Its reddish-brown coat, sleek and smooth, sparkled in the sun. And the smell? Like sweet, fresh-mown hay. (From Keystone Stables Book 1: A Horse to Love, p.26, by Marsha Hubler)

Are you getting the idea? Embed all that information about the character right into the story. Let’s do one more, just for fun:

Bad Example Number Four: (Description and Feelings)

Louellen was totally embarrassed when she fell into her employer’s arms. It wasn’t only because she thought herself clumsy, but she loved this man because he was so handsome with wavy blonde hair and nice brown eyes. He always had wonderful-smelling cologne on too. Louellen was an Amish woman and dressed in Nineteenth Century clothes. She had green eyes and auburn hair with a white kapp on and a navy cape choring dress, which she always wore when she cleaned. When she tripped and fell into the man’s arms, she scared the family dog out of his wits too.

Good Example Number Four:

Louellen gasped for breath as she regained her balance and pulled away from her employer’s arms. His touch, first ever and accompanied by the sweet smell of his expensive Canoe after shave, stirred something deep inside Louellen’s heart that she didn’t expect. For a moment, she focused on his gorgeous wavy, blonde hair and handsome face and then quickly lowered her gaze. Never before had she allowed herself to look into this man’s gentle brown eyes, although she had studied him from a distance. Hands shaking, she adjusted the white mesh kapp covering her auburn hair and ran her hands down the sides of her navy cape choring dress. She shifted her green eyes to the dog sitting nearby with a puzzled look on his face as if to say, “What happened?” (From Love Song for Louellen book manuscript, p.1, by Marsha Hubler)

Well, there you have some character development examples for you to analyze.

What doesn’t work in the bad examples? What does work in the good examples? You decide; then look at some of your own character descriptions and see what you can do to improve them. Get those characters out of that boring descriptive box and turn them loose with their surroundings, some action, and some backdrop. Your editor and your reader will enjoy your writings much more!

Next time, we’ll discuss verbs that can kill your manuscript.

Happy writing!

Marsha

http://www.montrosebible.org

http://www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

http://www.marshahubler.com

 

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Keystone Stables Book 1

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WRITERS’ TIPS :TEN WAYS TO WRITE LIKE A BEGINNER

Let’s see, you’ve had this great idea for umpteen years, and now you’ve decided to start writing! Or maybe you’ve been writing for a while and you’d like to get your story, poem, article, or book published. Will you qualify as a beginning writer who will never see any work published or as an experienced crafter of words who will definitely see his/her name in print?

If you can say “yes, that’s me” to any of the points in the list below, all I can say is “uh oh.” Go ahead; read the list and see how you do:

1.  Never read any books in the same genre in which you are writing. After all, you don’t want to steal another author’s voice, style, or story!

2.  Write when you feel like it, even if the radio or TV is blasting or your family is demanding supper.

3.  Without trying to publish anything else, start writing the Great American Novel that has plots, subplots, foreshadowing, and complicated characters.

4.  Start your fiction manuscript with five pages of narration and description from five points of view. Have 600 pages in your manuscript.

5.  Develop a boring plot with no climax, characters with no depth, and dialogue that is flat and the same for all your characters.

6.  Don’t seek any help from anyone or anything like a critique group, “how-to-write” books, or writers’ conferences because God told you to write, what to write, and how to write it.

7.  Send your manuscript everywhere without querying first. Buy the Writers’ Market Guide, start on page 1, and don’t stop until you get a sale!

8.  If you decide to write a query letter, write one that is “unique.” Smother it in chocolate or perfume smells and start the letter like this: “Dear Editor, this is your lucky day. My family has read this, and they absolutely love it.”

9.  Send your very first draft of your very first manuscript to a different editor once every six months, then go into deep depression when it’s rejected.

10.  Throw away all rejection letters, including those who suggest changes or  editors who would like you to submit other work. After all, if the editor didn’t like your first manuscript, he/she won’t like any of your other stuff, and if you make suggested changes in anything, the manuscript won’t be “your” work anymore.

Perhaps you should take up basket weaving or bowling instead!

Next time we’ll discuss how determined you are to be a writer. What will make you quit?

Marsha

www.marshahubler.com

www.susquehannavalleywritersworkshop.wordpress.com

www.horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com

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