October 20, 2017

Two Resources, Plain and Simple by Joylene M. Bailey

What on earth can a person add to the already amazing posts this month? All of them have given me lists of resources to find and try out. But as I’ve thought and thought over what I consider my most valuable resources - the ones I use the most - it comes down to two:
    1.  My thesaurus
    2.  My observations of people, especially children.

My Thesaurus
I am always going to a thesaurus as I write. If I’m in the middle of writing a story, devotional, article, email, or even text, for heaven’s sake, the thesaurus on my smart phone or my laptop, Thesaurus.com, is a quick go-to. But when I’m getting down to the nitty gritty, I pull out my Roget’s Thesaurus.
I LOVE ROGET’S THESAURUS!! I must be some kind of book nerd.

My Observations
I have a scene imprinted on my memory of two giggly nine-year-old girls on a school bus, matching blue turtlenecks pulled up tightly over their heads so far that the empty necks are flopping back and forth on top of their heads while the contours of their faces push through the blue fabric in grimaces and grins.  I was a parent traveling with the class on a field trip, and I knew the instant I saw it that I wanted to use that scene in a book someday. 
You can’t make this stuff up!

My young grandchildren spark children’s stories and songs in me.
And sitting in coffee shops observing strangers gives me lots of writing material.
Hmmm … how would I describe a moustache that looks exactly like that one?

The best thing about these two resources is that they are easy to take with me wherever I go. My thesaurus is on my smart phone, which is usually with me. And whenever I’m around people I’m observing with a writer’s eye.

Two resources, plain and simple. They may not be as intellectual as some of the other resources mentioned this month, but just as stimulating.

And most valuable to me.

All photos courtesy of pixabay.com

Joylene is full of creative stories and songs after hosting her three-year-old grandson for two weeks at her home in Edmonton where she lives with her Cowboy, Babe, and a cat named Calvin. She writes at Scraps of Joy.

October 19, 2017

Lean or anorexic by Eunice Matchett

After reading through the previous posts this month I don’t have many resources to add to the already valuable list. For books I like, Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell and

GMC Goals, Motivation Conflict by Debra Dixon. Two software programs I love are ProWritingAid and One Note. My online ‘go to’ are Inscribe, ACFW, and The Writer’s View.

That being said, I’m going totally off subject. To being a reader.

In the last few years, I’ve noticed writing styles have changed. They are now like our society. Life is mad dash from morning to night with little time in between. Less is more, publishing houses insist. Tighten, tighten, tighten. As writers, we are forced to adapt. But is this a good thing?

As a reader, I’m not so sure. Perhaps it’s the countless books I’ve read, or had read to me, over the past sixty-nine years, but I struggle with these new guidelines. My latest peeve, the one that prompted me to write this post, was a book written by four of the most popular writers in Christian fiction. I was excited when I saw the book on Amazon and put it to the top of my reading list. The story had to rock. These authors are as popular as snowflakes in winter.

But shortly into the story, my snowball burst.  Except for the last section, written by an author who delighted me, it was one of the hardest to “keep reading” books I’ve ever read. In the first three sections I felt like I was dangling in that zone between sleep and awake. Nothing anchored me anything or anyone. I remember the characters only because they were the same as those in the final section. Which brings me to my pondering. Where does lean end and anorexic begin?

The first section, that should have anchored me into the story, read like an outline. Whoever’s pov I was in felt like a pine box. Try as I would, I could not find a comfy spot to curl up in and let the story take me to some far and distant land. Instead, I was in a world that sped past me faster than my surroundings when I’m riding the tilt-a-whirl at a local fair.

To be fair, some of the old classics can describe a flower in a field in so much detail, I’ve forgotten why I’m in the field by the time I see exactly what the author saw and felt. And who really cares if it’s a coffee or a tea stain on the white tablecloth, unless it’s a mystery you’re reading. But, fluff gives me an option. Over the years, I’ve become very good at skimming. But in this day and age, that’s not practical either.

What I need is something in between. I want to know my protagonist, where she lives, what she likes, what she doesn’t, and what she wants bad enough to write a book about. I want a subtle description of her that allows me to fill in the blanks with my own imagination. I don’t want a block of white houses described, but if one is brown with a red horseshoe on the door, my interest is peaked.

I understand how age and time can dictate writing styles, but for me, they have gone bi-polar. Older stories tweak my skimming abilities, while many newer ones leave me frustrated because I can’t find the link between the dots. When I find a story that flows like a river, ripple after ripple, around and over obstacles and finishes in a waterfall, my toes curl up in delight, right back to my heels.   

October 16, 2017

10 Sources for Writing to God’s Glory by Nina Faye Morey

“I am a little pencil in the
hand of a writing God
who is sending a love letter
to the world.” 
~Mother Teresa 

I have many writing resource books on my bookshelves and several more on my Kobo eReader. I also have some well-liked writer’s websites and blogs. I can’t possibly cover all of them in a single blog post, so I’ll focus on a few favourites that I’ve found useful in helping me to write to God’s glory.

#1 - The Holy Bible, Bible Commentaries, & Bible Concordances: I want to ensure my words faithfully reflect God’s loving message, so I regularly pray and read His Word. I search for relevant Bible verses that will help me to make my points and impact reader’s lives. I have several Bible versions on my bookshelves, the NIV, KJV, NKJV, NRSV, NLT, to name just a few. I quote verses from whichever version expresses my thoughts the best. I also consult such Bible study guides as The Bethany Parallel Commentary and The New Strong’s Concordance. I regularly visit Bible websites to quickly locate passages, like Biblehub and Biblegateway.

#2 - Elements of Fiction Writing Series by Writer’s Digest Books: This is a terrific how-to-write series that includes Nancy Kress’s Dynamic Characters and Beginnings, Middles, & Ends; Orson Scott Card’s Characters & Viewpoint; and James Scott Bell’s Conflict & Suspense and Plot & Structure, and several others.

#3 - Busy Writer’s Guides by Marcy Kennedy: Showing and Telling in Fiction, Strong Female Characters, Dialogue, How to Write Faster, and more. This series of short guides is great when you’re in the middle of writing and want a quick reference.

#4 - Grammar/Editing Blogs: Mignon Fogarty’s Grammar Girl blog is my first go-to for answers to questions about correct grammar or punctuation. I also like the following: Grammarly Blog, Writer’s Relief, The Editor’s Blog, Jane Friedman’s blog, and C.S. (Susanne) Lakin’s Live Write Thrive. Other favourite grammar resources are The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White, Coles Notes Handbook of English Grammar and Composition, Canadian Secretary’s Handbook by Collier Macmillan (A treasured 80’s holdover from my secretarial days.), and a quick little reference book, Write! Better by Ray Wiseman.

#5 - Joanna Penn’s Blog, Books, & Podcasts: Joanna Penn is a bestselling author, international speaker, and award-winning entrepreneur. She’s written several self-help books for writers, including How to Make a Living with Your Writing, How to Market Your Book, and Successful Self-Publishing. Her blog The Creative Penn is a favourite among creative writers. She also has a popular podcast, The Creative Penn.

#6 - Writer’s Magazines/Newsletters: My favourite writer’s magazines are InScribe’s FellowScript (I may be just a bit biased!), the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild’s, Freelance, and The Writer’s Digest (along with their website).

#7 - Writer’s Organizations/Websites: InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship and The Saskatchewan Writer’s Guild. Besides their quarterly magazines, both of these writers’ groups have lots of valuable information on their websites and provide great conferences, workshops, and courses for writers.

#8 - Dictionary, Thesaurus, & Quotations Dictionary: I love my well-used hardcover copies of the Oxford Thesaurus, Canadian Oxford Dictionary, and Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.

#9 - Poetry Resources: Creating Poetry by John Drury, The Poet’s Dictionary by William Packard, Writing the Sacred by Ray McGinnis, and Merriam-Webster’s Rhyming Dictionary.

#10 - Writers’ Market Guides: The Canadian Writer’s Market, The Christian Writer’s Market Guide, Poet’s Market, and The Best of the Magazine Market for Writers.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the work of truth.
~2 Timothy 2:15

Photo Credits: © Nina Faye Morey

October 15, 2017

Favourite Resources Take Two! Tracy Krauss

At the risk of repeating myself, I'd like to share my two all time favourite writing resources, since that's what we're talking about this month. Why worry about redundancy, you ask? Well, I wrote a very similar article on the InScribe professional blog in September. But these are SO GOOD, it's worth repeating here!

Learn Scrivener Fast by Joseph Michael
I'd been using Scrivener for about five years, give or take a few months. I loved it from the moment I started just for the way it organized my writing, but I never used it much beyond a word processing tool. Then I watched a free online video by Scrivener coach Joseph Michael. I realized there were so many more things Scrivener could do - including formatting everything from epubs to mobi files to paperbacks to plays and more!

But, as a long time Scrivener user, I thought I should be able to figure things out for myself. The software comes with tutorials and there are tons of videos online, so I took those free tidbits from Joseph Michael and continued on my merry Scrivener way.

Things changed drastically when I tried to format a book. About forty hours later, bleary eyed from watching confusing youtube tutorials and upmteen 'trial and error' compilations, I gave up. Compiling my files for publication just wasn't as intuitive as I had thought. In desperation, I signed up for Joseph Michael's course.


I've managed to format and publish multiple ebooks, paperbacks, and pdfs. I organize my blog posts using Scrivener, and I even do a lot of my outlining using the corkboard function. I can't imagine writing without it and whenever I run into a snag, all I need to do is go to Joseph Michael's easy to follow videos and - voila! Problem solved!

If you’re planning to delve into indie publishing, this is the course for you. It is worth every penny hundreds of times over!

Your First 10k Readers by Nick Stephenson
I’m sad to list this course second, because it has also been such a good investment for me. Nick Stephenson has appeared on multiple podcasts with the likes of Joanna Penn, Mark Dawson, Joel Freidlander and others. He talks about ‘lead magnets’, permafree books, automations etc. all with step-by-step videos and very useful cheat sheets and other helpful resources. You can find many similar courses out there on creating ‘systems’ for writing and marketing, (like Shelley Hitz’s ‘Author Audience Academy”) but I happened to come across Nick’s back in the summer of 2015. I took the risk and signed up – my first time actually spending hard earned cash on an online course.

It has been worth the cost ten times over. It's not that I'm now rolling in cash. Nick cautions students right up front that his system takes work. It is not a get rich quick scheme or a fly-by-the-seat-of your-pants way to fool people into buying your books. What it is, is a really smart and well laid out system for growing your audience while offering value to your readers - all in a step-by-step format that keeps that 'overwhelmed' feeling from taking over.

I voraciously listened to the entire course in the first week or two upon receiving it, but there is so much content and so much detail that there is no way I could implement everything at once. Heck, I'm still taking baby steps two years later, but I've managed to make some significant inroads. 

Another wonderful thing about Nick’s course is that he continues to add new content and update old information without adding to the cost. Plus, he’s a very funny guy, so it’s quite entertaining to listen to him teach. You’ll see what I mean if you watch his free training videos. (Excellent, but the entire course is so much more in depth.)

Of course, there are many more valuable resources out there but these are my two all time favourites to date.

October 14, 2017

My Most Valuable Resources as a Christian Writer - Ruth L. Snyder

People often talk about how isolating it can be to be a writer. This can definitely be an issue because authors do spend hours alone, writing. As I thought about my most valuable resources as a Christian writer, the word community came to me. This past year has been one of the darkest and most difficult for me personally. However, through the struggles and pain, God has shown me the treasures I have.

Without a doubt, my most valuable resource is God's Word. During conference I described it as my life-blood. In a recent time of family Bible reading using The Family Project Devotional we discussed whether God's words taste "sweeter than honey" to us. God provides instruction, correction, encouragement, and relationship through His Word. I don't always spend the time I should reading, studying, and memorizing Scripture. However, the time I do spend in it is precious and powerful. Included in this post are a few verses which have spoken to me lately.

As a Christian writer I deeply appreciate the faithful prayer supporters God has brought into my life. I have seen many answers to prayer in my marriage, family, and writing because brothers and sisters intercede for me. Shelley Hitz challenged members of her Author Audience Academy to put together a writing prayer team. When she shared, I couldn't believe I had never thought of asking people to specifically pray for my writing projects. A few months ago I put out a call in my local church and on Facebook, and I now have a prayer team. I give them specific things to pray about and now also have an email list so that I can report to them on a regular basis. (Shelley also shared this information at our recent InScribe Writers' Christian Fellowship Fall Conference. Recordings are available!)

Beta readers are another valuable resource for me as an author. (Shelley Hitz also spoke about this at conference.) I'm currently writing 31 devotionals on the topic of spiritual warfare. In the past couple weeks I have been putting together my group of beta readers for this project. (For some reason, I have many women offering help, but only 1 man so far. If you would like to round out my beta reader team, please let me know.) These are people who are willing to commit to reading my manuscript and giving me honest feedback. These comments are like gold to me as an author. Someone asked me if I really wanted honest feedback. Apparently some people don't want to know if their writing needs improvement. I know that my writing can always be better. Yes, comments sting sometimes. But I'd rather hear those opinions now, before my book is published, than hear them as reviews after my book is published!

 Social media can be a huge time waster, but for me it is also a source of community. One thing I often do is share what I'm learning from my devotional Bible reading. All the pictures in this post were created with the WordSwag app and shared on Instagram, Twitter, and/or Facebook. Other photo editors I use often are the Preview app on my iMac, and Canva.

Speaking of resources, I'm delighted to have a children's story, Hope for Jimmy, in the newest InScribe anthology, Christmas: Stories & More. This book is a wonderful collection of stories, poems, dramas, recipes and more with contributions from 40 different Canadian authors. Purchase your own copy or buy them for presents!

I've enjoyed reading about other valuable resources shared by Christian writers this month. What is your favourite resource? Or which new resource are you going to try? I'd enjoy hearing about it in the comments.

Ruth L. Snyder

Creativity is my passion. My mission is helping other creative people achieve their goals. How can I help you? Follower of Jesus. Coach. President of ICWF.