Writing: It Takes a Village    

I’m going to ‘fess up to something: For years, I was a proud writer, and I don’t mean proud in a good way. I mean the kind of proud that says, “I’m right, I can do it, and I don’t need any help.”

You know… the same kind of pride 3-year-olds exhibit when they defiantly announce, “I do it myself,” and then proceed to put their shoes on the wrong feet, their shirts on backward, and their pants on inside out. That kind of “proud.”

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I just turned in my third (yes, third… go ahead, laugh!) round of edits on my novella, “Santiago Sol,” which will be published by Pelican Book Ventures as part of their Passport to Romance collection. If I ever find myself in the same room as my editor, I will probably hide behind the nearest potted plant and hope she doesn’t notice me.

In addition, I self-published a Christmas novella with a group of other authors this month, an opportunity for which I am insanely grateful. Yesterday I uploaded what must have been my sixth revision to Amazon, as readers (including my parents) have graciously pointed out the errors they’ve noticed and I’ve scrambled to make corrections.

These humbling events have reinforced a belief which I only came to hold after I joined ACFW: Writing is not a solitary sport. For a writer to become everything God has called him or her to be, it takes a village. Sure, your actual writing—putting the words on the page in some semblance of order—is generally done alone (for which we are thankful), but everything else in the process can (and in some cases must) include others, from brainstorming to plotting to revising, from editing to proofreading to reviewing.

I have a writing friend who is the undisputed queen of brainstorming titles, a gift which I lack. Another friend has a knack for seeing me through plot problems after I’ve written myself and my characters into a box canyon. I have writer friends who encourage me when I think I should just quit and get a “real” job… oh, wait, I have one now, and I still can’t quit writing! And I have other friends who offer constructive criticism in the form of critiques, and more who can pick out my particular writing weaknesses and faithfully correct them without making me feel like a loser. (For writers whose love language is “words of affirmation,” this is a particularly important gift!)

Now that I’m involved in the traditional publishing process, the population of my village has increased yet again. There’s a publisher who sees enough potential she’s willing to take a financial risk on my writing ability, and an editor whose assigned job it is to bring my story up to the publisher’s standards, find all my errors, and help me turn my story into something that’s better than I could have created on my own. Sure, I had the idea, and came up with the characters, but for my story to become the best it can be, I need help. LOTS of help.

Back when I first started writing, I never imagined myself needing a team to accomplish my goals as an author. That attitude was an indication of my immaturity and lack of experience. Today, I’m always on the lookout for more teammates, from editors to critique partners to beta readers to influencers to prayer warriors.

Do you have a team? Are you missing a few key players? (I will studiously refrain from any mention of the Broncos here…) I encourage you to pray and ask the Lord to show you where to find your particular team members, the individuals best suited to help YOU fulfill your God-given assignment to write. In my opinion, one of the greatest benefits of being part of an organization like ACFW is that it provides an instant network of potential teammates. (Yes, that’s a shameless plug for ACFW membership and participation, and I’m not sorry!)

I hope each and every one of you have a full team to support your writing journey. If you’re still looking, let me know. I’ll do whatever I can to help you connect with other like-minded writers within our glorious state. Blessings (and GO TEAMS!)

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Niki Turner
ACFW Colorado Area Coordinator
colorado.coordinator@acfwcolorado.com

Member Monday: ACFW Fort Morgan Chapter

By Kathy Brasby, President, ACFW Fort Morgan Chapter

For many writers, seeing their work through their reader’s eyes can provide information to hurdle problems the writer didn’t know he or she had. At least for more inexperienced writers.

The ACFW Fort Morgan chapter has scheduled quarterly critique meetings to give our writers – many of whom are pre-published – feedback we hope helps them move their work to a new level.

Our next meeting, on Monday, Sept. 15, from 6:30-8 pm, is the third critique meeting of 2014.

We try to provide writers with a reader’s perspective on what was written. Did it grab the reader’s attention? Did it make sense? Were characters clearly defined? Was the setting described adequately?

Our critique meetings have been some of our favorites.

Submissions should be emailed to spunknspirit@gmail.com.  We’d prefer submissions to be under 2000 words.

If you’d like to join us via Skype or FaceTime, please let us know at the above email address.

Dues (only $10 a year) can be sent to our treasurer: Becky Brasby, 21267 Co. Rd. 20.5, Fort Morgan, CO 80701.  We welcome associate memberships at $5 a year, too.

You can connect with us at our website  http://spunkandspirit.acfwcolorado.com/ or  on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/spunkandspirit

Conflict vs. Tension

“I can’t believe you said that to me.” She would never have said that to him.

“Well, it’s true.” And sometimes the truth hurts.

“It wasn’t very nice.” She always tried to say nice things to people, even if they weren’t completely true.

“Wasn’t meant to be.” Doesn’t the Bible say to speak in truth?

“I’m not putting up with this.” If she’d known he was going to treat her like this, she’d never have married him.
The door slams.

“Fine,” he muttered. “Walk out, like you always do.” Just like my mother always walked out on my father and me.

Just about every writer’s conference I’ve attended tells us to have conflict on every page. Fine to say, more difficult to accomplish. The above passage, filled with head-hopping to make a point, is filled with conflict, every sentence venomous and filled with reactions to hurt.

While this passage has conflict, or disagreement or a failure to understand the other person’s point, it is not particularly tension.

Conflict happens when two characters confront each other.
Tension happens when two characters strive for opposite goals.

Conflict is fine in small doses, but this type of verbal sparring becomes tiresome. I recently watched a British historical drama, seasons one through three, one after the other. By the end of season three, I needed a break. One of the characters, a mother of five, had a hot temper, and she was forever arguing with somebody about her rights and her sacrifice for her family. I was tired of it.

Tension is more difficult to attain. We can increase tension by:

  1. Upping the stakes. For example, a police officer who is looking for the bad guy, and the bad guy kidnaps our character’s wife.
  2. Introducing another goal our character can’t have. For example, our police officer’s boss takes him off the case because he’s too emotionally involved and puts him on a case involving child pornography.
  3. Adding to our character’s backstory. So, we find out our police officer was once addicted to kiddie porn but overcame the problem through the love and support of his wife. If he works on the pornography case he might get addicted again.
  4. Dropping in something completely out of our character’s control. So, character follows the bad guy in his spare time, stows away on the bad guy’s plane, his wife tied up just feet from him, and the plane crashes, stranding the three of them in the mountains, and he finds out the bad guy is his wife’s half-brother, and out of love for his wife, wants to save the half-brother’s life.

I know, a convoluted story, but as an example, we have all the necessary elements for tension: a love interest, a career goal, a time bomb, a wounded hero, and a dangerous setting.

Tension keeps a reader turning pages well into the night. Conflict makes a reader toss the book aside if it’s overdone.


Author bio: Donna writes historical suspense, which you can check out at www.HiStoryThruTheAges.com or www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com, and her alter ego, Leeann Betts, writes contemporary suspense, which you can check out at www.LeeannBetts.com or www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com. Donna is represented by Terrie Wolf at AKA Literary, LLC (www.AKALiteraryLLC.com). Check out Donna’s story at www.livebytheword.com.

September 2014: News from ACFW Colorado Springs Chapter

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Are you on the path to success with your writing? If you’re working hard the answer is: YES.

ACFW Colorado Springs meets the first Saturday of the month from 10 AM to noon at the First Evangelical Free Church on 30th Street in Colorado Springs.

MARK YOUR CALENDERS!

September 6th  10 AM to noon

Speaker: Sonia Meeter (Life Coach)

The Resilient Writer

 

Are you finding it difficult to be disciplined in setting aside time for writing? Does constructive criticism or flat out rejection of your work feel like a personal attack? Are you struggling to find purpose and balance in your life?

If this sounds familiar, what you need is a little more resilience – the ability to adapt and persevere when life delivers adversities! In this workshop, we will discuss the challenges common to writers – minor irritations and major setback, and how to approach them in a way that helps you to overcome and rest in your purpose. Resilience enables you to achieve excellence in your writing and to have deep heart to heart connections with others that enable you to fully live the life you were created to live.

image003BIO: Sonia Meeter is a certified social emotional intelligence coach. Social emotional intelligence (EQ) is the single largest determination of a person’s success but is something that is rarely addressed in business planning and development.

Sonia helps you increase your EQ and overcome limiting beliefs to reach your full potential using her “Whole Person at WorkTM System,” an integrative approach which incorporates your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual capacities to develop a plan to live the life you were called to live.

Sonia is living her purpose in Colorado Springs with her husband and two teenage daughters.

 

HAVE YOU HEARD? ACFW CO SPRINGS HAS SOME BIG MEMBERS NEWS!

Beth K. Vogt is the keynote speaker for the 35th Annual Southwest Christian Writers “Write for His Glory” Conference on Sept. 19-20

Debut author Brandy Vallance has a Victorian themed book launch on October 18th to celebrate her novel The Covered Deep. All the details…

Come celebrate the launch of The Covered Deep in grand style. Taking place in the remodeled historical Ivywild school, guests will be entertained and taken into the 19th century world of Bianca Marshal (incurably romantic bookworm from Appalachia) and Paul Emerson (historian of the British Museum in London). Victorian decorations galore. Tea and pastries catered. Themed giveaway baskets every half hour including tea pots, books, gift cards, etc. Victorian dancing led by a historical dance master from 11-12 (Virginia Reel, British dancing, etc.). Book signing, reading, etc. The Covered Deep can be purchased at the party for $15 or you can bring your own copy to be signed. Come anytime between 9am-2pm. Sign up on the Facebook event.

Kim Mahone is teaching a workshop at the Women Writing the West Conference (October 16-18th in Golden, Colorado) called “Characters in Corsets: How to Incorporate Fashion in Your Writing”

Erin Healy has a new book due out November 11th, called “Motherless”

Opportunity for ACFW Colorado Springs Members:

ACFW Colorado Springs critique group: Join the weekly critique group on Tuesday nights from 6-9 PM. The group meets at the First Evangelical Free Church on 30th Street (the same location as our monthly meeting). You can bring 10 double-spaced pages of your work-in-progress (WIP), to be critiqued when you attend.

 

Serialization Pros and Cons for an Author

Last month I began writing about serialized novels. Earlier this year I wrote Hidden Falls, which released in 13 weekly episodes from Barbour’s new Shiloh Run Studios imprint. Releasing directly to digital formats without a concurrent print edition was a grand experiment for all of us.

I addressed pros and cons for the publisher who launches into digital first publishing, particularly serializations. This month I want to look at the same question from the perspective of the author. Here are some ways that direct-to-digital can benefit an author working with a traditional publisher.

1. It can fuel the buzz ahead of a print release that may duplicate or expand on the digital project.

2. It opens new possibilities for structure and story models that might not work in conventional formats.

3. It’s a fresh way to engage readers, who may be reading only a couple of episodes behind what the writer is churning out and might contribute feedback that makes for a stronger story.

4. Interaction with editorial, marketing, and salesmay happen simultaneously, in a group-think format that includes the writer at every stage.

5. There’s potential to expand the story world beyond a print book, whether before or after a print release.

6. An author with a strong backlist may be able to build on the brand and entice people to pay for digital first books that release in parts.

7. Direct-to-digital quickly gives readers more of what they like.

All of these opportunities can pump a writer’s adrenaline, but there are some challenges.

1. Serializations are largely untested in the CBA market.

2. Writing systems may have to be reinvented. Plotting, writing and revising are likely to happen in a compressed period of time.

3. If a serialization is released in weekly episodes, there is less wiggle room in the schedule.

4. The writer is “stuck” with what already released. There is no going back to revise something at the start of the story that is already in the hands of readers.

5. Readers expect e-books to be cheap. What if they’re not? Or not cheap enough? They may not stick with the story because of the price.

6. What’s possible with technology and interactivity is unknown, and in partnership with a publisher, it’s also unknown what the writer’s role is in maximize the possibilities.

Some of these pros and cons relate to all forms of digital publishing. Some are specific to serializations—giving readers only part of the story at a time with enough satisfaction in each episode, but also enough reason to hit the “Buy Now” button for the next piece.

Serializations are not for every publisher and not for every writer, but given the climate of digital entertainment and the growing e-book market, unquestionably it’s worth exploring.

Next month we’ll look at the reader’s experience of serializations, and then you can put together all three pieces—publisher, writer, reader—and form your own opinion about the future of serializations in the Christian book market.

Olivia Newport forthcoming release is Wonderful Lonesome, an historical Amish novel due out September 1.

 

 

ACFW Colorado Author Spotlight – on vacation

Hi, All! Author Spotlight will be taking the summer off. I hope you all have a wonderful summer! See you on the second Wednesday in September for a new Author Spotlight!

Just a reminder that if you are a member of one of our local chapters and have published books, we’d love to spotlight you on our monthly feature. We love to tell others about the wonderful authors we have here Colorado. To be considered for the Spotlight, you do need to list your books on the ACFW Colorado web site.  If you are an ACFW member residing in the State of Colorado, and would like to have your fiction release listed, visit the ACFW Colorado web site, click on the Members Only link, login, then follow the instructions under “Books & Short Stories.”

Member Monday: Spunk and Spirit Christian Writers Group

By Kathy Brasby, president, Spunk and Spirit Christian Writers Group

spunkandspiritwriterslogo1How an author can tap into the culture of the reader is the topic by Chris Richards, an editor and vice president for Written World Communications, at the next Spunk and Spirit Christian Writers Group meeting on Monday, August 18, from 6:30-8 pm at Life Fellowship in Fort Morgan.

Richards’ talk, “Where did it come from?” will examine the use of myth, religion, literature, politics, history, and social unrest in writing to increase its appeal to readers. Using Star Wars and other movies as examples, authors can tap into the culture of the reader.

Chris Richards is a Colorado native who has been writing for as long as she can remember. Her greatest passion is helping other writers get published. She speaks at writers conferences and writers groups on a regular basis and is an editor and vice-president for the Written World Communications publishing house. Her current project is putting together one-day writing seminars for teenage writers.Chris Richards

Spunk and Spirit Christian Writers Group meets on the third Monday of each month and is open to the public.

Dues (only $10 a year) can be sent to our treasurer: Becky Brasby, 21267 Co. Rd. 20.5, Fort Morgan, CO 80701.  We welcome associate memberships at $5 a year, too.

You can connect with us at our website  http://spunkandspirit.acfwcolorado.com/ or  on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/spunkandspirit

 

Antagonist and Instigator

When I was a kid, my mom had two nicknames for me: antagonist and instigator. She called me the first when I insisted on playing every game by the rules and got angry with the other kids who didn’t want to play that way. She called me the second when things were going too smoothly and too quietly and so I would push my sister or take my brother’s toy, just to get a reaction.

Little did I know I was already in training to be a writer.

Every good story needs the hero and the heroine, maybe a little romance to keep them coming back to each other, and a little conflict to keep the story going until its satisfying conclusion.

But your story needs more than that. Your story needs an antagonist and an instigator.

The antagonist is the character who tries to keep you’re here/heroine from getting what they want. The antagonist isn’t always an evil villain, although he could be. Your antagonist’s goals should be the opposite of what your hero/heroine wants. For example, if your hero wants to get elected as dog catcher in his town, the antagonist might be the other person running in the election. Who might also be the hero’s wife/love interest. They both think they will be the best dog catcher this town ever had. And they might have completely opposing views of how to accomplish that goal.

The instigator, on the other hand, could be a completely different character. This is the person who appears mid-way through the book and shakes things up when the action is slowing down or the story is going along just a little too well. The instigator could be the lady from the SPCA who comes in to do a lecture on spaying and neutering, which both candidates are against. Or the instigator could be the mayor who wants to cut the position of dog catcher from the budget. Or the instigator might be the tree hugger from the hero’s past who knows that in a past life he worked with a perfume company that did experiments on animals and thinks that’s why the hero now wants to be dog catcher, to provide a steady supply of animals for one of those companies.

The antagonist and the instigator could be the same person, but if they are, you must let the reader know early in the book that there is more depth to this character than simply wanting different goals. I think a story is more rounded out if these characters are different people. No fair springing this on the reader like, “Oh, by the way, as you know I used to protest at these perfume companies and I remember seeing you clock in every day. I know why you’re running for this position.”

Antagonists up the ante, keep the conflict tense, and give readers a reason to keep reading your book. The instigator will provide more opportunities for your hero/heroine to prove themselves, and will introduce another subplot which readers love.

Antagonists and instigators – consider introducing both these characters into your story, and watch the tension and the action increase as all of these people try to accomplish their own personal goals.


Author bio: Donna writes historical suspense, which you can check out at www.HiStoryThruTheAges.com or www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com, and her alter ego, Leeann Betts, writes contemporary suspense, which you can check out at www.LeeannBetts.com or www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com. Donna is represented by Terrie Wolf at AKA Literary, LLC (www.AKALiteraryLLC.com). Check out Donna’s story at www.livebytheword.com.

August 2014: News from ACFW Colorado Springs Chapter

ACFW Colorado Springs meets the first Saturday of the month from 10 AM to noon at the First Evangelical Free Church on 30th Street in Colorado Springs.

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We were thrilled to have speaker, multi-published author, Mary Davis speak to our chapter this past Saturday.

mary-davis-headshot“Everyone’s A Critic!”

A critique group is essential for growing as a writer, but the thought of handing over your work to someone else to criticize is hard. When done properly, critique groups can encourage more than discourage. Mary will talk about types of groups, group guidelines, proofreading marks, and more.    

 

 

 

::NEXT MONTH::

Mark your calenders to come hear, life coach and friend to all writers, Sonia Meeter.



Speaker: Sonia Meeter (Life Coach)

Topic: The Resilient Writer!

Member News:

Congratulations to Beth K. Vogt, who is a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards for romance for Catch A Falling Star!

Opportunity for ACFW Colorado Springs Members:

ACFW Colorado Springs critique group: Join the weekly critique group on Tuesday nights from 6-9 PM. The group meets at the First Evangelical Free Church on 30th Street (the same location as our monthly meeting). You can bring 10 double-spaced pages of your work-in-progress (WIP), to be critiqued when you attend.

Member News Mondays (ACFW South Denver Chapter)

Our August meeting is one week from today  at 7 pm on August 4th at the Tattered Cover in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Our speaker is Tiffany Amber Stockton, a Colorado author. Her topic: From Premise to Publication.

 

Member news that was shared at our July meeting:

Mike Carroll – Gave a talk on Living Among the Giants at DU with the Denver Astronomical Society on 6/11

Jeff Kildow – His 2nd book is out to four publishers

Carolyn Sherrow – Her first book is under contract and she made it to the second round for an anthology

Sandy Nadeau – Got her first royalty check for Red Gold

Kim Stewart – Finished her first novel and is editing

 

Come join us at our next meeting and get to know your fellow writers in the southwest Denver area.