Saturday, October 17, 2009

I will attend the 2010 Muse Online Writers Conf! Will You?

Click here to sign up now for the best online FREE writers conference around!

Friday, September 4, 2009

writing publications I use

What writing publications do you rely on to keep you up to date on industry trends, writing tips, and author stories? Do you still subscribe to as many writing trade publications as you used to or are you increasingly subscribing to and reading blogs or e-news to inform your writing career? Has the recession impacted your writing-related reading? If so how?

I enjoy subscriptions to a few magazines and newsletters that keep me up to date on trends, tips and new markets. The Writer Magazine, Writer’s Digest, The Wooden Horse, Children’s Book insider, and many more free newsletters that i can hardly begin to list all of.
I am a faithful reader of Publisher’s Lunch. I tend to look for my dream job more than market happenings.
I also read PW Children’s BOokshelf, ICL Children’s Writer eNews, Angela Hoy’s, and Writing for Dollars.
I have recently become a fighting Bookworm at CBI, although I haven’t had to time to peruse and use the site as I want to.
I havent’ cut back on buying books or magazines for the trade, after all, it’s tax deductible and you can never have too many books or magazines!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

AMAZON ebook info
Thank you for your interest in Amazon's eBook program. There are many options for making your books available for the Amazon Kindle platform. Your options depend on the nature of your publications (such as file formats), the resources and technical expertise you have available, and your general eBook sales model. has both managed and self-service platforms to help publish your content as Kindle books. The ebook creation software and all publishing tools on are free. Once you make your titles available for Amazon Kindle, you will receive payments for every title sold. Below are examples of publishing needs we fit and more information on how to move forward:

• If you are a small publisher or author who wishes to take advantage of Amazon's self-service tools to create Kindle Books and sell them on Amazon, please go to's Digital Text Platform or read more about DTP in the Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines

• Publishers who have a relationship with an Amazon Kindle vendor manager should read more about Kindle Title Manager in the Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines

• Publishers who have many titles to convert but do not wish to (or have the technical resources to) convert files in-house might want to consider outsourcing to a conversion house or create their ebooks themselves using Mobigen Software (more info in the Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines).

• The Mobigen Software can also be used by individuals who are comfortable writing HTML.

• If you do not yet have a contract in place to sell your Kindle titles on and will be using eBookbase to upload content, contact to get a contract.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


“Whatever you think you can do
or believe you can do, begin it.”

Friday, June 19, 2009

writing exercises from CBI

Two fun writing exercises:

Exercise #1

After you’ve brainstormed your idea, come up with at least three different ways to write it. For example, could you tell your story using diary entries? What if you set the story in the future? Could you explore your nonfiction topic through poetry, or riddles, or via a backyard scavenger hunt? Write a paragraph really examining each approach, and then decide which excites you the most. If you’re inspired to explore more approaches, then go for it!

And thanks to Fightin’ Bookworm Emily Ziemba for this tip for writing easy readers: “Talk to teachers for early childhood grades to find appropriate vocabulary, sight words, etc. for students. As a teacher, I find that some books miss the mark altogether!”

Exercise #2

Just for fun, let’s all brainstorm on unique ways to tell a story based on this idea:

A dog gets adopted from an animal shelter.

Change anything you want. Make the dog talk. Set it in the future. Place the animal shelter in outer space. Use this idea as a springboard for a young adult novel or an easy reader…or whatever else you’d like. Get creative, and post your results on the CBI Challenge message board. You’ll be amazed at how many different stories can spring from one idea!


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

new Christian kids story idea

God's Vision -
Stories about:
"How God sees us",
"Our Future",
"His plans for us", and
"How he wants us to see ourselves as winners and victors in Christ"

How and what do kids want to hear about God's plan for their lives? I know He has every minute of our lives planned and watches over us everyday. But, how does God really see us? He loves children and wants them to come unto Him, but what kind of story will show that?
how 1 child can make a difference, maybe he has a dream of becoming a missionary. Knows that he can't become a missionary on his own for many years. That child finds out what he can do now and at his age to serve the Lord. Child learns that God has plans for us if we just trust and obey.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Faithful servants

Children's story idea:
faithful servants in the Bible:
Acts 6: Stephen
Acts 9: Dorcas
Exodus 17: Hur

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Seven by Seven? Who knew!

As I sat in my favorite Sunday morning activity (Sunday School) I realized that all the animals that got on Noah's ark didn't come two by two. The "clean animals" came seven by seven! How bizarre that I never learned this in all my years in church. What happened? Was I not listening or maybe never read it close enough to retain that fact? Once I realized that my animals coming two-by-two image was mostly wrong and I let that fact sink in, I had many questions. The main one was why! Why did God want seven of each clean animal? Another question was what exactly was a "clean" animal? Would having seven-by-seven take up too much room in the ark? So then I had more questions: How long were Noah and his family on the ark? Wasn't it loud and chaotic? How big was the ark, in terms I could understand? That last question was easily answered by my SS teacher. The ark was as big as 500 train box cars. I also learned it wasn't as pretty as all the picture books make it out to be. It was more like a crude box or stable type structure. Then the question of how many people and how long it took to build it.
As I wrap my mind around all these newly discovered facts about Noah, I have learned an important lesson: God is never done teaching us about Him!
Tomorrow: more answers to the above questions.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Interview with Christina Katz, Get Known Before the Book Deal

Interview with Christina Katz
Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform


Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform (Writer’s Digest Books). She started her platform “for fun” seven years ago and ended up on “Good Morning America.” Christina teaches e-courses on platform development and writing nonfiction for publication. Her students are published in national magazines and land agents and book deals. Christina has been encouraging reluctant platform builders via her e-zines for five years, has written hundreds of articles for national, regional, and online publications, and is a monthly columnist for the Willamette Writer. A popular speaker at writing conferences, writing programs, libraries, and bookstores, she hosts the Northwest Author Series in Wilsonville, Oregon. She is also the author of Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (Writer’s Digest Books).

** Special note: Writer Mama was the very first (and favorite) freelance writer book I purchased 3 years ago on vacation in Florida! Thank you Christina for all your inspiration!**

??: What is a platform?

CK: Long story short: Your platform communicates your expertise to others, and it works all the time so you don’t have to. Your platform includes your Web presence, any public speaking you do, the classes you teach, the media contacts you’ve established, the articles you’ve published, and any other means you currently have for making your name and your future books known to a viable readership. If others already recognize your expertise on a given topic or for a specific audience or both, then that is your platform.

A platform-strong writer is a writer with influence. Get Known explains in plain English, without buzzwords, how any writer can stand out from the crowd of other writers and get the book deal. The book clears an easy-to-follow path through a formerly confusing forest of ideas so any writer can do the necessary platform development they need to do.

??: Why is platform development important for writers today?

CK: Learning about and working on a solid platform plan gives writers an edge. Agents and editors have known this for years and have been looking for platform-strong writers and getting them book deals. But from the writer’s point-of-view, there has not been enough information on platform development to help unprepared writers put their best platform forward.

Now suddenly, there is a flood of information on platform, not all necessarily comprehensive, useful or well organized for folks who don’t have a platform yet. Writers can promote themselves in a gradual, grounded manner without feeling like they are selling out. I do it, I teach other writers to do it, I write about it on an ongoing basis, and I encourage all writers to heed the trend. And hopefully, I communicate how in a practical, step-by-step manner that can serve any writer. Because ultimately, before you actively begin promoting yourself, platform development is an inside job requiring concentration, thoughtfulness and a consideration of personal values.

??: How did you come to write Get Known Before the Book Deal?

CK: I already had a lot of momentum going when I got the deal for a very specific audience. I wrote a column on the topic for the Willamette Writer’s newsletter. Then I started speaking on platform. When I gave my presentation, “Get Known Before the Book Deal,” at the Writer’s Digest/BEA Writer’s Conference in May 2007, Phil Sexton, one of my publisher’s sales guys, saw it and suggested making the concept into a book. Coincidentally, I was trying to come up with an idea for my second book at that time and had just struck out with what I thought were my three best ideas. My editor, Jane Friedman agreed with Phil. That was two votes from people sitting on the pub board. They converted the others with the help of my proposal, and Get Known got the green light.

??: Why was a book on platform development needed?

CK: Writers often underestimate how important platform is and they often don’t leverage the platform they already have enough. At every conference I presented, I took polls and found that about 50 percent of attendees expressed a desire for a clearer understanding of platform. Some were completely in the dark about it, even though they were attending a conference in hopes of landing a book deal. Since book deals are granted based largely on the impressiveness of a writer’s platform, I noticed a communication gap that needed to be addressed.

My intention was that Get Known would be the book every writer would want to read before attending a writer’s conference, and that it would increase any writer’s chances of landing a book deal whether they pitched in-person or by query. As I wrote the book, I saw online how this type of information was being offered as “insider secrets” at outrageous prices. No one should have to pay thousands of dollars for the information they can find in my book for the price of a paperback! Seriously. You can even ask your library to order it and read it for free.

??: What is the key idea behind Get Known Before the Book Deal?

CK: Getting known doesn’t take a lot of money, but it does take an in-depth understanding of platform, and then the investment of time, skills and consistent effort to build one. Marketing experience and technological expertise are also not necessary. I show how to avoid the biggest time and money-waster, which is not understanding who your platform is for and why – and hopefully save writers from the confusion and inertia that can result from either information overload or not taking the big picture into account before they jump into writing for traditional publication.

Often writers with weak platforms are over-confident that they can impress agents and editors, while others with decent platforms are under-confident or aren’t stressing their platform-strength enough. Writers have to wear so many hats these days, we can use all the help we can get. Platform development is a muscle, and the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Anyone can do it, but most don’t or won’t because they either don’t understand what is being asked for, or they haven’t overcome their own resistance to the idea. Get Known offers a concrete plan that can help any writer make gains in the rapidly changing and increasingly competitive publishing landscape.

??: What is the structure of the book and why did you choose it?

CK: Writer Mama was written in small, easy-to-digest chunks so busy new moms could stick it in a diaper bag and read it in the nooks and crannies of the day. Get Known is a bit more prosaic, especially in the early chapters. Most of the platform books already out there were only for authors, not writers or aspiring authors. To make platform evolution easy to comprehend, I had to dial the concepts back to the beginning and talk about what it’s like to try and find your place in the world as an author way before you’ve signed a contract, even before you’ve written a book proposal. No one had done that before in a book for writers. I felt writers needed a context in which to chart a course towards platform development that would not be completely overwhelming.

Introducing platform concepts to writers gives them the key information they need to succeed at pitching an agent either via query or in-person, making this a good book for a writer to read before writing a book proposal. Get Known has three sections: section one is mostly stories and cautionary tales, section two has a lot of to-do lists any writer should be able to use, and section three is how to articulate your platform clearly and concisely so you won’t waste a single minute wondering if you are on the right track.

??: At the front of Get Known, you discuss four phases of the authoring process. What are they?

CK: First comes the platform development and building phase. Second comes the book proposal development phase (or if you are writing fiction, the book-writing phase). Third, comes the actual writing of the book (for fiction writers this is likely the re-writing of the book). And finally, once the book is published, comes the book marketing and promoting phase.

Many first-time authors scramble once they get a book deal if they haven’t done a thorough job on the platform development phase. Writers who already have a platform have influence with a fan base, and they can leverage that influence no matter what kind of book they write. Writing a book is a lot easier if you are not struggling to find readers for the book at the same time. Again, agents and editors have known this for a long time.

??: What are some common platform mistakes writers make?

CK: Here are a few:

• They don’t spend time clarifying who they are to others.
• They don’t zoom in specifically on what they offer.
• They confuse socializing with platform development.
• They think about themselves too much and their audience not enough.
• They don’t precisely articulate all they offer so others get it immediately.
• They don’t create a plan before they jump online.
• They undervalue the platform they already have.
• They are overconfident and think they have a solid platform when they have only made a beginning.
• They become exhausted from trying to figure out platform as they go.
• They pay for “insider secrets” instead of trusting their own instincts.
• They blog like crazy for six months and then look at their bank accounts and abandon the process as going nowhere.

I’ll stop there. Suffice it to say that many writers promise publishers they have the ability to make readers seek out and purchase their book. But when it comes time to demonstrate this ability, they can’t deliver.

My mission is to empower writers to be 100 percent responsible for their writing career success and stop looking to others to do their promotional work for them. Get Known shows writers of every stripe how to become the writer who can not only land a book deal, but also influence future readers to plunk down ten or twenty bucks to purchase their book. It all starts with a little preparation and planning. The rest unfolds from there.

??: Couldn’t any author have written this book? Why you?

CK: I have built a career over the past decade empowering writers. I’ve developed and built my own platform as a writing-for-traditional-publication specialist, and I’ve worked with others as a writing and platform-development instructor. Many of the people I’ve been working with are landing book deals and while the other hundred-or-so writers I work with a year are developing their skills, I notice patterns of behavior—what leads to success, where writers get stuck, and how I can be helpful in these rapidly changing times in the industry.

I’ve witnessed too many writers, who were off to a great start, hopping online and quickly becoming very lost. I started to write about platform in Writer Mama, How To Raise A Writing Career Alongside Your Kids, but I quickly noticed that more details on platform development were desperately needed. My platform is based on helping others. I have a vested interest in seeing the people I work with—and those who read my book—succeed. Writers are my tribe.

Thank you Christina!

12 Exercises for improving Dialogue

12 Exercises for Improving Dialogue

Posted by J.C. Hewitt on 10/23/2004 under Writing |

Dialogue is one of the most difficult aspects of writing to master. There are many pitfalls you must try to avoid, such as:

Stilted language
Dialogue that does not sound like natural speech.
Dialogue that does not further the scene and does not deepen your
understanding of the characters.
Dialogue that has the character explain the plot or repeat information
for the benefit of the audience.
Having one character use another character’s name to establish identity.
People almost never say other people’s names back to them, and if they do it
is a character trait typical of a used car salesman.
Overuse of Modifiers
Too many dialogue modifiers such as shouted, exclaimed,
cried, whispered, stammered, opined, insinuated,
hedged and a million others. Modifiers such as this can sometimes be
useful, but are often annoying and used as a crutch for poorly designed

Here are a few exercises to help you master dialogue as a tool for writing:

1. Write down the things you say over the course of the day. Examine your own speech patterns. You don’t have to get every word, but you may find that you say less than you think and that your statements are surprisingly short. You might also find that you rarely speak in complete sentences.
2. Find a crowded place such as a restaurant, a bar, or a shopping mall and write down snippets of the conversations you hear. Avoid trying to record whole conversations, just follow along for a brief exchange and then listen for your next target. If you are worried about looking suspicious, you might want to purchase a Palm Pilot, Handspring Visor or other hand-held PDA device. These handy spy tools make it look like you are conducting business or playing with your favorite electronic toy rather than eavesdropping.
3. Test responses to the same question. Think of a question that will require at least a little thought, and ask it of several different people. Compare their responses. Remember that you are focused on their words. Write them down as soon as you can.
4. Record several different TV shows. Some choices include: sitcom, news, drama, talk show, infomercial, sporting event, etc.). Write down a transcript using just the dialogue and people’s names. If you don’t know the names, just use a description such as announcer or redheaded woman. You can also transcribe two shows of the same genre, using one show you like and one you dislike. Compare dialogue between the fiction and non-fiction programming you recorded. Look for such things as greetings, descriptions of physical actions, complete sentences, slang, verbal ticks (Such as like, you know, uhhhh, well, etc.). Compare how these dialogue crutches change according to the show format and quality.
5. Rewrite one or more of the shows in exercise 4 as prose, trying to recreate the show as accurately as possible. Note how easy or difficult it is to work in the entire dialogue from the show. Does it seem to flow naturally and read well or does it get in your way. Rewrite again eliminating any dialogue you feel is unnecessary. Try not to change any dialogue though until your final draft. Work with what you have. Remember that you don’t necessarily have to rewrite the whole show. Do enough to be sure you have the feeling for it.
6. Rewrite one of the the transcripts from exercise 4 using as much of the dialogue as possible, but changing the scene in as many ways as possible. Change the setting, change the people’s intent, and change the tone. See how easy or difficult it is to give the same words a different intent. Again, do enough to be sure you have the feeling for it.
7. Write the dialogue for a scene without using any modifiers. Just write down a conversation as it goes along naturally. After you have completed the dialogue, add narrative description, but not dialogue tags such as said, shouted or ordered. Instead, try to work the dialogue into the action as a logical progression of the statements. Finally, add any dialogue tags that are absolutely necessary, and keep them simple such as said, told, or asked. Again, only put them in if you can find not other options. Compare this to the previous dialogue you have written and see what you like or dislike about the changes.
8. Write a scene in which one person tells another person a story. Make sure that you write it as a dialogue and not just a first person narrative, but clearly have one person telling the story and the other person listening and asking questions or making comments. The purpose of this scene will be both to have the story stand alone as a subject, and to have the characters’ reactions to the story be the focal point of the scene.
9. Write a scene in which one person is listening to two other people have an argument or discussion. For example, a child listening to her parents argue about money. Have the third character narrate the argument and explain what is going on, but have the other two provide the entire dialogue. It is not necessary to have the narrator understand the argument completely. Miscommunication is a major aspect of dialogue.
10. Write a conversation between two liars. Give everything they say a double or triple meaning. Never state or indicate through outside description that these two people are lying. Let the reader figure it out strictly from the dialogue. Try not to be obvious, such as having one person accuse the other of lying. That is too easy.
11. Write a conversation in which no character speaks more than three words per line of dialogue. Again, avoid crutches such as explaining everything they say through narration. Use your narration to enhance the scene, not explain the dialogue.
12. Write a narrative or scripted scene in which several characters are taking an active role in the conversation. This can be a difficult aspect of dialogue to master, because with each additional character, the reader or audience must be able to keep track of the motivations and interests of the individuals involved. This can be especially difficult in prose, where the time between one character speaking and the next can be interrupted by action or description. See how many characters your can sustain within the scene and still have it make sense and be engaging.

Writing goals

1. Honestly assess where you are in your writing career. How many hours do you write a week? How many queries do you sent out? What is your daily writing habit? How do you make time to write?

2. Visualize your ideal writing life. Would you write for pleasure, money, fame or just occasionally for fun?

3. List three things you would attempt to write if you knew you could not fail.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Some of my favorite things about being a mom:

The perfection of those tiny newborn fingers and toes.
The peacefulness of a child's slumber.
The "I love you Mommy" coming from his mouth.
The never-ending hugs and slobbery kisses,especially when he has food all over his face and hands.
The wonderful trust he has in me, even when I don't know what to do!
The beautiful smile that lights his face when he sees me!
The cute little voice that talks to me on the phone when I'm at work.
His eagerness to learn and see new things.

These are just a few things. The list could go on forever!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Fun Story Starters

**It was a gift her mother gave her on her ____ birthday
**The door slammed with finality
**Alice tried to remember who gave her the key
**Top 7 things that should happen to mean people
**10 best reasons not to share a room with your best friend
**Six fun things to do on your first sleepover
**21 signs it's time to take a bath
**Top 10 things to say to a kid who just got dumped by their first crush
**The boy ate so much his lips, eyes and ears turned green
**The spotted puppy turned to look at you and spoke your name
**That morning, we made a list of cafeteria foods that should be declared unfit for human consumption
**I'd always imagined that a talking chicken would have a higher voice
**My little sister woke up with a spotted tongue
**Our Christmas tree was really haunted

Friday, May 8, 2009

Writers Write!

Finish edit on 2nd half of guinea story
Start piece on Why Sports good for kids
Finish Magic Soccer ball

How am I going to get this done?

Make time! I will schedule writing time everyday! I already read my Chronological Bible everyday. It won't be too hard to schedule writing time in too!

Don't make excuses! No more I can't think of what to write or I don't feel like it! Just do it. Writers Write!

Be persistent. If i get interrupted, go back to writing, don't give up!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Reduce, Reuse, recycle

Can I apply this great theory to the editing process?
Can I rewrite my MRI story for a diff market?
Can I use my Super Grow Machine elsewhere?

My goals for the next 3 weeks:
1. Edit 2nd half of Guinea Story
2. Write article on Disaster preparedness targeted for Boys Life
3. Write at least 1 query letter for disaster preparedness for MEN, GRIT, Parenting, etc

Friday, April 24, 2009

God will help!

Psalm 60:12 "With God's help, we will do mighty things for He will trample down our foes." How encouraging to know that God will never abandon us, no matter how hard life gets.
Story ideas for this verse: Adventure/action story involving school kids fighting against peer pressure to drink, smoke or do drugs. Kids forcing kids to "misbehave" and in order to fit in. Main character remembers (learned in SS) that God will help him through anything and he solves the situation himself.

Great verse for all of us to remember. When life gets you down, God will lift you up and defeat our sin!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

God's Peace (PGM)

Peace Be Still

“Crash, crack, boom!” Emily squealed in fright and dropped her book.

She scurried down the stairs, yelling, “Mom, where are you?”

“I’m in the kitchen,” her mom replied.

Emily ran into the safety of her mother’s arms. “Did you hear that?” Emily asked. “We’re gonna get a huge storm.” Her freckled face paled. “I hate these kinds of storms,” she moaned.

“Emily, you’re getting all worried for nothing,” Mom said as she patted her back. “Come on. Help me water the plants. Then we’ll make some dinner.”

Emily followed her mother into the living room. Normally, she felt safe in the living room. Now, the trees outside cast shadows across the normally bright blue wallpaper, making it dark and gloomy. And with the thunder getting louder, she wanted to be somewhere far away. .

A huge bolt of lightning lit up the windows in the living room. Instantly, a loud crack of thunder followed. Then everything was dark. Emily started crying. She knew that eight year olds shouldn’t cry about storms, but she couldn’t help it. She wasn’t brave when it came to storms.

“Honey, it’s OK. I’m right here. The power just went out.”

Emily whimpered quietly and groped for her mom. As she touched her sleeve, another lightning flash lit up the room. “Let’s go sit on the couch,” Mom said as she guided Emily towards the couch.

“I know what will help. I’m going to tell you a story about how Jesus’ disciples were afraid during a storm. Do you remember that one?”

“Kind of,” Emily sobbed.

“One day, after Jesus had been preaching, He and His disciples were out on a boat. Jesus was tired and fell asleep. A big storm came. Waves crashed against the boat. Water started getting in. Wind tossed the boat around. Jesus slept through it all.”

“How come?” Emily asked.

“He knew He was safe. But the disciples were very afraid, like you are now. They woke Jesus up. They asked him: Jesus, don’t you care that we are going to die in this storm? Jesus stood up and scolded the wind. He told the sea: ‘Peace be still.’ Everything was quite and calm instantly.”

“Wow,” Emily sighed.

“Jesus asked the disciples why they were so afraid. ‘Why don’t you have faith,’ He asked them. ‘Don’t you know I won’t let anything happen to you?’ Jesus won’t let anything happen to you or me either.” Emily’s mom squeezed Emily’s hand reassuringly. “The disciples were amazed that Jesus got the winds and waves to obey Him. Jesus is able to protect us anywhere we are.”

“So, I shouldn’t be so scared, should I?” Emily asked.

“It’s OK to be scared. Just remember that Jesus always takes care of us. We can tell the storm ‘Peace be still’ when we are scared. That will remind us to trust God.”

As Emily squeezed her mom’s hand, the lights came back on. She smiled bravely at her mom and stood up. “Where are you going?” her mom asked.

“I’m going to draw a picture of Jesus on the boat with the huge storm all around. Then I’m going to draw another one after Jesus says ‘Peace be still.’ Do you want me to make you one too?”

“That’d be great, sweetie. I’m going back to the kitchen to get dinner going before the power goes out again.”

Emily skipped up to her room. She heard thunder crashing again. Instead of running back to her mom, she repeated: “Peace be still, peace be still.” She smiled as she said to herself: “I’m braver than I thought. Thanks Jesus for taking care of me.”

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