Vijaya Bodach – Writing a Book that’s Controversial
Come to this workshop if you feel called to bring the Light of Christ to problems in this fallen world. What events in recent months have lit a fire under you to do something about them? Go ahead…list them. Pick ONE thing. Now, what can you reasonably expect to do? What can you do with the might of God supporting you? Dream. Write His Dream.
Carol Baldwin – Out of This World Fiction & Fantasy
Following up on Daniel Blackaby’s keynote and our previous workshops, we’ll consider important details to empower and invigorate your fantasy and science fiction stories. Consistency and believability are key!
Todd Williams – Connecting With Kids
We were all kids once. Should it really be that hard to relate? Sadly for writers, childhood sometimes seems far away. We will explore some specific characteristics of three age groups between 4 and 11 years old that will remind you of the struggles and joys of being a kid. More than that, we’ll look at creative writing strategies that can target those childhood traits in ways that will excite and energize their minds.
Jean Matthew Hall – “The Challenges of Writing Fiction Picture Books”
Join us for Jean Matthew Hall’s workshop, “The Challenges of Writing Fiction Picture Books” as we dig into great picture books to search for nine elements that can make your picture books great.
Andrea Merrell – Turning Pain Into Prose
Have you ever experienced pain? You know, the gut-wrenching kind that makes you feel as if you’re going under for the third time with no life preserver? Maybe it was a chronic illness, abuse, or a prodigal child. Perhaps it was divorce or even death. Pain affects us all to some degree, but God doesn’t waste a single thing that goes on in our life. He wants us to share our stories to offer hope to those who are hurting. “Turning Pain into Prose “will show you how to dig deeply into those painful experiences to find inspiration, passion, and purpose for your writing.
Steve Hutson – What NOT to Say to an Agent or Editor
No how matter how good your story, or how awesome your execution, it might not be enough. You still have to sell this thing. Learn what to say — and, very importantly — what NOT to say, when pitching your book.
CONGRATULATIONS to Diane Buie who won an autographed copy of Maiden of Iron: A Steampunk Novel from last week’s giveaway.
I was excited when my first book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God, was published several years ago. But my delight at the release of this project was tempered by the need to market it through a website, blog posts, newsletters, Facebook author page, Twitter, book signings, and other activities.
A conversation with an acquaintance highlighted the tension inherent in promotional activities. “Why are you doing book signings?” he asked. “If God wants your book to sell, then it will sell. You should trust Him.” His voice was tinged with reproach and his meaning was clear: a mature Christian should trust God rather than fall prey to the sin of self-promotion.
Marketing and promotion. I confess I’m uncomfortable with this part of a writer’s job. I dislike doing it and I hate that others—even family members—might mistake my actions for self-aggrandizement.
After all, I’m a Christian. The Bible tells me to be humble, to put others first, and—in the vernacular—to not toot my own horn. Proverbs 27:2 says to “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.”
Still, publishing is a business, and that includes Christian publishing. In these days of staff cuts and diminishing budgets, most authors can no longer expect their publishers to roll out the red carpet to market their books. Even before a book is contracted these days, a traditional publisher wants to know what specific marketing plans you have for the project. If you’re not willing to promote your book, they probably won’t be willing to publish it.
My goal is to glorify God with my life. That includes my writing, which I believe is a gift He has given me. If this is true, then my goal must also be to glorify God in my marketing, just as I sought to glorify Him in writing.
This is not about me. I never want my marketing efforts to be self-aggrandizement. I don’t want to be the one waving her book high in the air, shouting “Look at me! Look at what I’ve done! Buy my book!”
Rather, I want to promote my books because they represent work God has done in and through me. He gave me an ability to use words for His glory. And He opened doors to publication in order to bless others. This is about what God has done. That’s what I want to say. I want to shout, “Look at my Creator! Look at my Redeemer! Look at what He has done! Look what He can do for you!”
The Bible tells us, “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31 NIV).
If, in order to do that, I need to “put myself out there” then that’s what I do. But I do it in the hope that others will be blessed by the work He gave me. And they, in turn, will proclaim what God is doing and has done for His glory.
So, yes, I will continue to tell people about what I’ve published. Not because I want to draw attention to myself, but because I believe what I write will be used by God to touch others for His glory. And if that’s what I truly believe, how can I not tell others? How can you not tell others what God has given you for His glory?
What has God given you to bless others? What are you doing with your gift?
Tessa Emily Hall – How to Sell Your Book to an Agent: What to Do and What to Avoid
You’ve spent months, if not years, writing and polishing your manuscript to perfection. It’s finally time to send it off to agents! You have no doubt they will spot your storytelling gift immediately and beg for you to send the manuscript their way.
After making a list of prospective agents, you write your query letter—and then off your submission goes into the publishing world.
But the responses don’t roll in like you had expected. In fact, days go by. Then a week.
Finally, an email pops into your inbox. An agent! You open the email, preparing for the glowing response . . . but it’s not the manuscript request that you had expected. Instead, it’s a rejection letter.
Does this sound familiar? It’s no secret: The submission process to a literary agent is often just as hard as writing the book itself. The competition is tough, and the slush piles are high. An agent could fall in love with your writing, storytelling ability, and still feel as though he/she would not be a good fit for you.
So how can you, an aspiring author, capture the attention of an agent? Is it possible to write a query letter in such a way that your email rises to the top of their submissions pile? And finally, is there a reason for all of these rejections—and what can you do to decrease your chances of receiving one?
In my workshop, How to Sell Your Book to an Agent: What to Do and What to Avoid, I will discuss the answers to all of these questions and share secrets on how you can stand out. You will learn how to properly submit to a literary agent in a way that has the agent begging for more.
That way, you will someday receive that manuscript request you have been waiting for.
Kim Peterson – Developing a Strong Supporting Cast of Secondary Characters
From the moment Anne of Green Gables smashes her slate over Gilbert Blythe’s head, their competition makes her stronger, faster, smarter and, eventually, a better person. Readers wouldn’t understand Anne half so well without Gilbert Blythe. That’s the purpose of memorable secondary characters: Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley give insight into Harry Potter, Hector Zeroni knows the truth behind Stanley Yelnats’ innocence long before Stanley does, and Dorothy wouldn’t have made it home without the rather-smart Scarecrow, the compassionate Tin Man, and the Lion who truly is the King of the Forest. Learn to craft compelling secondary characters that make your protagonist unforgettable, without stealing the show.
Learn some basic techniques of writing memoir for kids. Think back to your childhood. Begin with: I remember…my favorite place, my best friend, my favorite game. Go. Give yourself 5 min for each. Now write: I don’t remember…Wait, you say, how can I write something I don’t remember? We often suppress difficult times, but you’ll be surprised how much you remember if you allow yourself to. I don’t remember…the kid who was mean to me; the time I lied to my parents about…; when my pet went missing…Go. Give yourself another 5 minutes for each. These and other exercises will develop your memoir techniques.
Lori Hatcher’s Workshop – Ten Ways to Charm an Editor
As a writer and a magazine editor, I’ve sat on both sides of the editorial desk. I’ve received rejections letters and I’ve sent them. Over the years I’ve identified six sure-fire ways to earn points with your editors and four mistakes to doom your submission to the shredder. I’ve also learned that editors are not God. It’s okay (and sometimes necessary) to disagree with them. We’ll talk about why and how to do this and still maintain a positive relationship. In this fast-paced workshop, I’ll give you a sneak peek into the mind of an editor and share proven tips to help your editors say YES to your next submission.
Attention Teens! – Brenda Covert – Poetry Workshop: Playing with Words
Question: What do an eraser, paint chips, and Africa have in common?
Answer: They are all inspiration for the poetry teens will write in the Playing with Words workshop!
Brenda Covert’s interactive poetry workshop will help teen poets refine their creative voice as they learn to write 3 different types of poems. Students will also have a chance to share their work in class. Whether a student has yet to write a poem or has written volumes, all are welcome to come have fun playing with words!
Are you making a list of the workshops you want to attend at the conference? Leave a comment about your favorites. Then subscribe to the Write2Ignite newsletter (link on the right side) and share this post on social media. You will earn one, two, or three chances to win Vijaya Bodach’s YA novel Bound. Bring your winning copy to the conference for Vijaya to sign. She will be presenting three fabulous workshops during the conference.
Contest ends August 17. The winner will be announced on next Monday’s teaser blog — so enter soon!
Tony Snipes – 5 MORE Things I Learned in Corporate America
What do you and CBS have in common? You create stories for an audience to consume…and so do they. You try to grow your audience with those stories while staying true to your values…and so do they. You have a need to generate resources that support the creation of those stories…and so do they.
There are practices that corporate content creators have been putting in effect for decades that allow them to distribute their stories and generate a profit while they do it.
This workshop will give you access to an insider’s view of corporate storytellers. Corporate storytellers such as The Greenville News and local CBS affiliate WSPA have a lot in common with you as a writer: the need to create stories and earn a living in the process.
In my workshop, “Five MORE Things I Learned from Corporate America that Help Your Writing Business Pay for Itself ” we’ll unpack what I learned from corporate America that help your writing business pay for itself.
Edie Melson – Love the World You Build
As fiction writers, we are world builders. It doesn’t matter what genre we pursue, we are still creating an imaginary place for readers to hang out and experience our stories. These worlds are limited only by our imagination. But just like in the physical world, there are rules we must follow—a lot of the time we get to make up the rules—but there are still rules.
In my workshop, “Love the World You Build,” I share how to build a consistent world that makes sense for your reader. We’ll discuss the power of language and invented words, research for places that have actually existed and how to make your setting an important character in the story you tell.
Linda Vigen Phillips – Using Verse to Get to the Heart of Your Story
Writing a verse novel may not be your intention or even your cup of tea, but writing in verse can be good for your writing health. As writers, we all mine our past, and capturing difficult or sensitive memories in verse is a therapeutic exercise that can lead to strong story elements. Suffering from writer’s block? Throw rules out the window and jot down whatever comes to mind in a free-verse format. Want to probe deeper into your characters? Have them write their hearts out in verse. This method is particularly effective in capturing the depth and voice of a protagonist on a spiritual journey.
In, “Using Verse to Get to the Heart of Your Story,” we will explore a variety of formats that authors have used successfully in their verse novels. Participants will have the opportunity to turn an emotionally charged memory or idea into free verse, and to use a shape poem to show setting, action, or mood.
Kenzi Nevins – An ILLUSTRATOR’S Market: Portfolio, Platform, and Proposals
Imagine walking into a bookstore and seeing a line of stuffed animals above the children’s book section…but these aren’t just any animals, they’re yours! The illustrations from your book, brought to life. What does it take to stand out in today’s increasingly freelance illustration market? What tools does an illustrator need once the drawings are finished to have kids, adults, and EDITORS begging for more? Come to “An Illustrator’s Market: Portfolio, Platform, and Proposals” to find out!
Nancy Lohr – The Plot Thickens
An idea, an emotion, a hero or heroine (the protagonist) all are necessary elements to include in a novel for children, but none of these are suitable for a strong and compelling plot. My workshop. “The Plot Thickens” will look at a variety of ways to develop a plot that will hold a reader’s attention and deliver a satisfying forward-moving story.
Carol Baldwin – Let Your Characters Do the Heavy Work
Try this recipe for story success: Start with a memorable, authentic protagonist. Add a complicated, believable antagonist. Put them into a sensory setting and watch what conflicts ensue. In this workshop, we’ll complete several writing exercises that will help you deepen your unforgettable, true-to-life characters.
Are you making a list of the workshops you want to attend at the conference? Leave a comment about your favorites. Then subscribe to the Write2Ignite newsletter (link on the right side) and share this post on social media. You will earn one, two, or three chances to win one of Linda Phillp’s YA novels, Crazy or Behind These Hands,Bring your winning copy to the conference for Linda to sign. She will be presenting three fabulous workshops during the conference.
Contest ends August 17. The winner will be announced on next Monday’s teaser blog — so enter soon!
How many times have heard the saying, “It’s not just what you say, but how you say it”?
Words matter. Writing a great story matters. But how you share a story will change depending on where you are telling it and who you are telling it to.
If 80 percent of communication is nonverbal, how can you communicate to an audience that is reading what you write on their laptop or phone? How much more intentional should you be when sharing a message that could change someone’s life eternally?
Here are seven ways to write more effectively to minister to a digital audience:
Write for Your Audience and Not for Yourself
It’s not about you.
The average reading level for someone online is 12 years old. That means you are writing for a seventh grader. If a middle schooler can’t understand what you’re saying, neither can the average internet user.
Yikes! This doesn’t mean you can’t talk in depth, but it does mean you need to avoid “insider talk” and breakdown difficult ideas and concepts.
To write for your audience, you have to know them. You need to determine who you are trying to reach, and you need to get to know them. What are they talking about? What are their needs? Their fears? What do you have to offer them that can help?
Research can take many forms from websites to conducting interviews to doing surveys with people from your target demographic.
If you don’t know the reason you are writing, nine times out of 10, neither will your audience. Why are you choosing to tackle what you are writing about? What is your goal for the audience after they read your article, take your quiz or download your resource?
Creating Good Online Content
Whenever you sit down to write a blog or a video script, you want to give value to your audience. Is what you are making benefiting those who read it? If so, how?
Remember, you aren’t writing for you, you are writing for them.
For more on writing this kind of content watch Cru’s Creating Content webinar.
Break It Up
Mobile views account for 80 percent of the content consumed online. Read that again. What you write is going to be read, or more accurately skimmed, on a tiny screen. Your content needs to be organized in an easily digestible way.
Some of the best ways to do this are by writing one to two sentence paragraphs and breaking up your topics with subheadings. That way if your reader doesn’t want to read your whole blog, they can easily find what they are looking for.
We all want what we write to be read. One way to encourage this is by writing good headlines, email subjects and social media captions that point readers to your content.
Deanna Kustas is an Upstate New Yorker who currently resides in Orlando, Florida. She has been on staff with Cru for 12 years and helps run content strategy for Cru.org. She enjoys laughing, cooking, music, puppies, drinking cold brew, and making jewelry and occasionally blogging.