Posted on 2 Comments

Grow Your Writing Skills — Part I

Photo by Lum3n.com from Pexels

In an effort to grow my copywriting skills, I took Ian Lurie’s LinkedIn Learning course “Learning to Write Marketing Copy.” He broke copywriting down into four easy steps: create a plan, free write, write your first draft, and polish your writing. While the course focused specifically on writing marketing copy, I’ve been able to apply his method to fiction writing, blog writing, and even journalism.

This week, I’d like to focus on the first step.

Create a Plan

Have you ever taken a composition and rhetoric class? My first semester of college, I took English 101, which taught me how to research, outline, and write research papers. Throughout my education, I used that model (research, outline, write) for most of my papers and assignments, big and small.

The first step in any writing project is to research or create a plan. While I used a more structured outline for planning academic papers, I’ve found that bulleted lists do the trick for most copywriting and fiction writing projects.

Know Your Audience

Lurie suggests first jotting down notes about your audience. In my work as a copywriter for Liberty University Marketing, I primarily write to Generation Z high school students. Understanding my audience’s needs is important to every email, postcard, and booklet I write.

If, for example, I’m working on a direct mail advertisement, I start by making a list of things I know are important to Gen Z students:

  • Sustainability
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Fiscal responsibility
  • Hands-on learning opportunities
Photo by Kaboompics from Pexels

And the list goes on. Once I have a list of Gen Z’s priorities, I can brainstorm ways our university can meet those needs. For example, I might write about Liberty’s energy-saving efforts and 40 percent recycling rate to address Gen Z’s interest in sustainability. 

Similarly, if you are writing fiction for children and young adults, it’s important to understand what’s important to them. In a session from Write2Ignite’s 2019 conference, author and presenter Edie Melson said that you need to be reading the current literature on the market. (i.e., If you want to write young adult fiction, you need to read young adult fiction.)

Reading young adult fiction or children’s books gives you an understanding of the types of stories that are popular, but it doesn’t tell you much about your audience. I suggest not only reading popular fiction for your target audience, but also researching your audience so you can understand what is important to them.

Make a List of Collateral Requested by the Client

Collateral is a marketing term used to describe the materials requested by a client for any given project. For example, if I’m working on some projects for College For A Weekend, Liberty’s four-day college visit, I might have 30-40 projects ranging from emails to class schedule booklets to temporary parking passes. However, I believe this step can easily be translated to fiction or even blog writing: make a list of key scenes/ideas.

Some authors write without an outline. They can just sit down and write their stories without any pre-planning. I’ve never been able to write without an outline, even if it’s only a few bullet points. But writing down the key scenes I want to include in my story or the main ideas I want to address in my blog post helps me get from one point to the next without running down a rabbit trail.

Note: An outline is not a binding agreement. You are not obligated to follow your outline once it’s written!

List the Styles that Will and Won’t Work for Your Audience

Now, this idea fascinated me. Until taking Lurie’s class, I didn’t really think about the style of writing I was using in my marketing pieces. But the more I thought about my audience, the more I realized that Gen Z doesn’t like being marketed to. So how am I supposed to market to Gen Z without them knowing they’re being marketed to? (Say that five times fast!) 

Through style.

Photo from Pexels

Most of my pieces are written in a teaching style. That is, they teach my audience about Liberty and then offer a call to action. (i.e., “Did you know you can receive $10,000 in awards and scholarships over four years just by submitting your refundable $250 Enrollment Deposit? We want to make college attainable for you; that’s why we offer generous scholarship packages and flexible payment plans. Don’t wait — submit your Enrollment Deposit today!”)

In creative writing, you need to choose the correct format for your writing — you need to know the purpose. In her session “Writing for the YA Audience” at the 2019 W2I conference, Melson reminded us that we shouldn’t be writing to tell young adults what to think. We should be writing to connect and entertain and then allow the audience to draw their own conclusions about the story, which may or may not be what we intended. 

While your audience may have different takeaways, you’ve given them a reading experience they are invested in rather than another textbook. It’s up to them to decide what to do with the material.

Tune-in on Dec. 5 for steps two and three, freewriting and writing your first draft!

About Emily

EmilyBabbitt is a promotional writer for Liberty University Marketing and specializes in residential undergraduate enrollment. She has done extensive research on Generation Z and has written for school-aged audiences in her work as a promotional writer and through contract work with Growing Leaders, Inc. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, taking photos, and cooking. You can learn more about her work by visiting her website, EmilyMarlene.com, or connecting with her on LinkedIn.

 

Posted on 2 Comments

What About Rejections? Part I

Now that we’re ready to dig into our various writing projects and (gulp!) even think about submitting a few…we face a common enemy: Fear of Rejection. To encourage your hearts, our faculty shared some of their rejection stories. Now you can say to yourself, “If they were rejected and look how far they’ve come… I can submit my work too.”

Terri Kelly

“My first rejection letter said my picture book didn’t meet the editorial needs of Peachtree Publishing.Poof…my great idea didn’t turn into a children’s book that kids adored, parents raved over, and teachers chose for story time. Instead of giving in, I geared up. Within a year, I attended my first writing conference where I learned all writers experience rejection. Eleven years later I don’t send out a manuscript until I’m confident the writing is my personal best. Yes, I’m cautious, but I’d rather take my time than send a weak manuscript. Before submitting, I share my manuscript with a writer’s group for critique, hire writing coaches to work with me one-on-one, and read, read, read. Don’t concede when rejections come. Gear up to learn how to write for the market, the publisher, and the reader.”

Lori Hatcher

“As I look back on the book proposals I’ve had rejected, they were rejected because something wasn’t quite right. Maybe the focus wasn’t strong enough, the concept wasn’t fresh, or the writing was mediocre.  But every rejection has made me refine my concept, polish my writing, or scrap the whole thing altogether and start over. Then, when the acceptances come, it’s a glorious thing—a book I can be proud of and one that would represent the Lord in the best way possible. I’ve learned to receive acceptances and rejections as divine redirection that pushes me further into God’s will.”

Edie Melson

Rejection can be brutal. At my very first writing conference I took a Bible study I’d written to pitch. It was the late 90s and no one but Kaye Arthur and Beth Moore were publishing Bible studies. Even though this was a huge Christian Conference, no publishers were taking pitches for them. But the conference staff suggested I talk to a nonfiction editor and take his continuing class. I met with him in a 15-minute appointment and it was tough. He suggested I take my in-depth Bible study and rework it into a cross-stitch or quilting gift book.
I wasn’t rude and thanked him for his time, but I was so upset I left my proposal on the table. When I got to his class the next day, he proceeded to use my proposal (with my name blacked out) as an example of how not to write and not to follow God in publishing.
 I was devastated and when I got back home, I locked away my writing. I was certain I’d heard from God and that dream was dead. Then the next year a got an anonymous scholarship to the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Since it was anonymous, I had to go or risk wasting someone else’s money. Once there, God showed up in a big way and I sold my very first article to Focus on the Family.
God resurrected the dream I thought was dead. But God did more than that. He also birthed a passion to shepherd other writers as they try on the dream God has given them. As much as the enemy meant this for evil, God has used this for good in my life and in the lives of others. I praise Him for all He’s done and continues to do.

Steve Hutson

I wrote my first book back in the 1980s, and pitched it far and wide to dozens of publishers. Much to my dismay, fewer than half of them responded (and all rejections). No one gave a reason why.

When I started working as an agent almost nine years ago, I decided that I would be the nice guy. I would always give a reason for my rejections. Within a week, I discovered that most writers don’t REALLY want to know. They just want to argue with me.

Writers, if you should ever receive actionable feedback from an editor or agent, thank them for it and consider it gold. Even if you disagree. These are the people who could make all the difference in your career.

In the Bible, even for the prophets, God sent them human teachers. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for you.
.

********
On Thursday we’ll share more rejection stories from our faculty to encourage you to keep on, keeping on! Do you have a rejection story (or two) that you would like to share to encourage other writers? We want to hear them! Please leave your contact information in the comments, or send Carol Federlin Baldwin a private message on Facebook.
Posted on 1 Comment

Keynote by Edie Melson

Here’s a sneak peek at our final conference keynote with a description in her own words. We’ve enjoyed sharing our conference presenters with you. We are looking forward to seeing you at the conference.

Visit: https://write2ignite.com/registration-2019/

New Paradigm for Social Media

Social media feels like the mechanical side of writing and publishing. It’s something we have to do—and it takes time away from our calling and our purpose.

I would respectfully suggest that such a mindset is upside down. Social media isn’t an interruption from our calling—instead it’s a vital part of the call God has placed in our hearts. He didn’t look up on the day FB was invented and realize he’d forgotten that was coming. No, instead, it’s part of His plan.

It’s no mistake that we were born in this time and place. Like Esther 4:14 reminds us, we are called for such a time as this.

God is perfect with His Plan, Preparation, and Place

  • in His plan for us
  • in His preparation of us
  • in the time where He’s placed us

This is the vantage point from which I teach social media and marketing. I share the mechanics and equip those in the class to navigate this fast-paced paradigm where we live. But I do so from the foundation of why, so when the who, what, when, where, and how changes, we can keep focused on the part of the plan that matters.

Posted on 2 Comments

Looking for an Afternoon Pick-Me-Up? **PLUS A GIVEAWAY**


Here’s a sneak peek at conference presenters with descriptions in their own words. We’ll be posting a teaser page each  Monday. You still have time to take advantage of the Early Bird Discount.

To register, visit: https://write2ignite.com/registration-2019/

 

Kim Peterson – Selling Snappy Sidebars

Sidebars fill the pages of magazines, our computer screens, and even some TV shows. Sidebars are short articles that accompany and relate to a larger work, yet they present a different angle. With today’s online and “everything now” mentality, these high-demand mini pieces often serve as the article. Come to this workshop to learn why editors, writers, and readers love sidebars. We’ll also examine the different types, how to be creative in assembling a sidebar, and how to write these snappy pieces to entertain and inform readers. You’ll soon be providing the extras your editor craves.

 

 

Vijaya Bodach – Writing Memoir (Part II): Being a Witness—Writing the Most Important Story

Can you think of any modern-day witnesses? These are people who questioned Christianity and found it to be true! And they will do anything to keep this Pearl, this Treasure, this Gift. Can you state the reason for your hope in Christ? Allow the Holy Spirit to speak through you. We are now living in a post-Christian society. We have the greatest number of people who have no religious affiliation. They are the “nones” (not to be confused with nuns). It is YOUR story that will make a difference in their lives, as you sow seeds of faith and hope in them. Yes, I’m looking at YOU!

 

Terri Kelly – How to Write Devotions for Children

Turn yourself into a writing machine. Don’t you want to publish a children’s picture book or a magazine article for teens? How about a middle-grade chapter book or nonfiction for children? There is a surefire way to sharpen your story: Write Devotions. In How to Write Devotions for Children, you’ll learn a simplified method that you can apply to all writing. Not only will you walk away with a plan for a publishable devotion to the best audience in the world—our children, you’ll gain a writing tool belt to wear for life.

 

Edie Melson – Writing for the YA Audience

We live in a world with a savvy and sophisticated young adult population. In their young lives—through media and the ready availability of digital information—they’ve been exposed to a lifetime of experiences. The first rule of YA writing is respect—respect for our audience, and respect for their experiences and opinions. The second rule is authenticity. Our YA readers can spot a fake a mile away. This workshop will cover the mindsets and expectations of this audience. We’ll discuss how this mindset affects our writing in multiple genres and for different age groups.

 

Tessa Emily Hall – Create Book Buzz by Coordinating a Blog Tour

Marketing isn’t always an author’s best friend—but in today’s publishing landscape, it’s a requirement. What if I told you it could be both exciting and cost-effective? And that, even with no prior marketing experience, you could reach readers from the comfort of your own home? 

This is what I have found to be the case through coordinating blog tours for my own books. Coordinating these tours have proven to be a powerful strategy to reach target readers and spread online buzz surrounding a new release. By tapping into my passion for the book, I have discovered how to create unique tours that invite my target readers to share in this excitement. 

Come to my workshop, Create a Book Buzz with a Blog Tour, and learn these five steps on how to kick off your virtual tour from the ground up—in a way that is both organized and efficient. You will also discover secrets on how to infuse your passion with creativity to brainstorm unique and fun content for your tour. 

Who knows? After coordinating your first blog tour, you might realize that marketing isn’t your worst enemy after all.

Steve Hutson – Why You’re Not Getting Published: Rejection-Proof Submissions

Have you sent off your manuscript to dozens of agents and editors, only to be rejected again and again? Learn the things they won’t tell you; discover the most common problems, and how to avoid them. Hint:  It may have nothing to do with the quality of your writing or your story.

GIVEAWAY

Posted on 2 Comments

Part III- What is Our Faculty Looking Forward To?

For the last two Thursdays, we’ve been hearing what our team and attendees are looking forward to at the 2019 Conference. Today we hear from some of our faculty. For more information about each one of these workshop leaders, please consult our Faculty page.

Tessa Emily Hall, Author and Associate Agent Hartline Literary Agency

Since I began attending this conference as a teen writer, Write2Ignite holds a special place in my heart! Every year I look forward to returning to this campus, which is cozied in the mountains, and being surrounded by people who share my passion for writing for the youth. I am always shocked at how much this conference can pack into these two days—inspirational keynotes, informative workshops, encouraging meetings with professionals, and more. This year, I especially look forward to catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. And, of course, hearing from the social media expert, Edie Melson! If I have a chance to glean from the other sessions, I would love to hear Daniel Blackaby’s workshop, “Tolkein, Lewis, and Christian Imagination,” as well as Tony Snipes’ workshop on jumpstarting your writing business. But it looks like I wouldn’t go wrong with attending any of these workshops! 

Lori Hatcher, Author and Editor of Reach Out Colombia 

So many kind people have shared their knowledge with me over the course of my writing journey. What I’m most looking forward to is sharing some of the tips and tricks of the trade I’ve learned with others so they don’t have to figure it out on their own. I love helping writers polish their writing, so the 15-minute critique times are always fun. I get to read what others are writing and (hopefully) add some sparkle or shine.

Edie Melson, Author and Director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference

I call it eavesdropping on God. Because I’m part of the faculty, I get to hear some of what God’s doing in ways others don’t. It’s so encouraging to see the care our Heavenly Father takes with each dream and calling. I also look forward to “geeking out” on technical discussions of grammar, publishing and the writing craft!

Jean Hall, Picture Book Author and Blogger

I’m looking forward to spending time with old writing friends and making new ones. I’m also excited to help attendees hone their skills at writing picture books. I relish every opportunity to teach people about something I love as much as creating picture books.

Kim Peterson, Writer, Freelance Editor, Writing Mentor

I am looking forward to meeting aspiring writers and helping them find answers to their questions about writing. I also enjoy seeing how their ideas develop and their writing skills grow during the conference as they learn new techniques and they make new writing friends. I also enjoy hearing from returning conferees. Many share how God provided a great contact for them, or they’ve sold an article, or their new picture book or novel is now in print. I love rejoicing with them!

Kenzi Nevins, Junior Agent at C.Y.L.E

I’m super excited to talk about this exciting and constantly-growing industry I’m so passionate about, as well as hear pitches from some amazing writers and illustrators! I love spreading awareness about the illustration industry and some of the changes in it in regard to publishing. Also, I adore hearing about people’s books! Whether it’s the genre I represent or not, I’d love to talk to you and help you figure out what your next steps are. 

Terri Kelly, Author

On Friday, what sounds fascinating to me is Tony Snipe’s talk on five things he learned in corporate America. Who doesn’t want to learn how to jumpstart their writing business?

Since I’ve written strictly non-fiction, I want to hear all about how to deepen your Middle Grade/YA Novel from Kim Peterson. I’m ready to dip my toe into fiction for kids.

And of course, Jean Hall’s going to give me everything I need to know about writing picture books for children in her class on Saturday afternoon. I expect I’ll be ready to pen a picture book as soon as Write2Ignite is over.

Can’t wait to go! How about you?

Linda Phillips

I have heard about W2I conference for years, especially through the eyes of good friends Carol Baldwin, Jean Matthews Hall and Donna Earnhardt. Now I finally have the opportunity to experience it myself and I am totally excited!  I agree with Carol’s assessment that this conference exudes “encouragement and helpfulness” and I hope my contribution, “Using Verse to Get to the Heart of Your Story” fits into those themes.  I am enjoying learning about the wonderful staff, and can’t wait to meet Deborah, Diane, Gail and Brenda. I always come away from conferences with new insights, great inspirations, and a host of new friends. I know this conference will offer all of that and more, and I can’t wait!

Vijaya Bodach

I am so excited there are times I feel like I’m going to jump out of my skin. What am I looking forward to? In a nutshell:
catching up with old friends, making new ones, soaking up all the goodness, learning from you all, and sharing what I know generously.
What a grace-filled weekend it’s going to be with my fellow Christian soldiers!

God bless, Vijaya

Steve Hutson

Fellowship with my tribe. And if I should find a kindred spirit to work with? Even better.

 

 

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Finally Friday AND TWO GIVEAWAYS!

Here’s a sneak peek at conference presenters with descriptions in their own words. We’ll be posting a teaser page each  Monday. You still have time to take advantage of the Early Bird Discount.

Visit: https://write2ignite.com/registration-2019/

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.

 

 

                                     

                                      Attention Teens

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.

 

                                                     

 

Two Giveaways