My Writing Process – Blog Tour

Blog hop for writers

Thanks to Bruce Atchison http://bruceatchison.blogspot.ca/ for inviting me to participate in this blog tour.

What am I working on?

I have several projects on the go right now:

  • The San Francisco Wedding Planner Series with Helping Hands Press. For this project I’m working with 5 other authors on a light romance. Several of the volumes in this series have been released already. My volume will be releasing in July on Amazon. I recently posted about Life Lessons, which is the backstory for Heather Donovan, the main character in the series.
  • Olga’s Discoverya full-length historical fiction novel. I’m working at having the whole novel written by the end of August this year.

    Twenty-two-year-old Olga Tymchuk, a newly graduated teacher, eagerly anticipates marrying her fiancee, Viktor, in July 1959. However, before they marry, Olga is committed to teaching for a year in Gillmore, Alberta as a requirement for the bursary she received in university. Viktor and Olga are separated when Viktor accepts a challenging job as a scientific researcher for the National Research Council in Ontario.

    Olga is enjoying a challenging first year of teaching when Viktor is injured in a chemical accident. He seems to be recovering well, but then Olga receives a telegram that will change her life forever. Olga is drawn into a search for the truth, which forces her to deal with uncooperative hospital officials, death threats, and a sudden disappearance.

  • Twitter Tips & Tricks for Writers – I’m looking for beta readers for my first draft of this book. If you’re interested, send me an e-mail at sun dot beam3 at Yahoo dot com.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My light romance provides an enjoyable story that makes you stop and think. Because I’m tackling the project with 5 other writers and we’re using a single plot, there are a lot of interesting twists and turns in the plot. I’ve been told my stories are intense. Olga’s Discovery is set in Canada and gives a glimpse into rural Alberta farm life as well as Ukrainian culture. Twitter Tips & Tricks for Writers is divided into three sections, for writers who are beginners, intermediate, and advanced on Twitter.

Why do I write what I do?

  • I enjoy stories.
  • Stories are powerful – Ted Dekker says, “Story is the shortest distance between a human being and the truth.”
  • I am called to write

How does your writing process work?

Every project I work on starts with an idea. The idea can come to me through something I see, hear, or experience. Sometimes the idea comes in the form of a picture, or a character, or a lesson I’ve learned. Once I have an idea that keeps trying to get my attention, I brainstorm where I want to go with the idea. For fiction this usually includes the starting point, the main characters, some high points in the story, and where I want to end up. Then I’ll sketch out a plot summary in very general terms.  For non-fiction, I’ll jot down a basic outline of what I want to include in my book. Once this is done, I do some preliminary research and start writing. Sometimes I have to revise my plan as I write.

In terms of getting the writing done, I make sure I get up at 5:10 on weekday mornings so that I can spend time reading my Bible and praying, catching up briefly on my e-mail, and then writing for a half hour before my family gets up for the day. I also schedule specific days and hours for writing.

Next Monday (June 30) check out the following authors and their blog posts about writing process:

Marianne JonesMarianne Jones

Marianne was named International Poet Laureate by Utmost Christian Writers. She is the author of “Here, on the Ground”, a collection of poetry, “The Land of Mogan”, a Christian fantasy-allegory for young readers, “Great-Grandma’s Gifts”, a picture book, and the soon-to-be-released, “The Serenity Stone Murder”. To read her blog, see https://www.mariannejones.ca.

 

 

Sharon HooverSharon Hoover

Sharon R Hoover writes devotional and inspirational works for all who are exploring and growing in the journey of faith. Her passions for education and global issues led her from being a high school teacher to a middle east analyst and then to serving in the church. Through writing and speaking, she encourages women as they seek God in life, in play, in family, and in work. Sharon’s first book, Soul Motive to Pray, is a personal retreat workbook to encourage deeper conversations with the Lord. She enjoys connecting with local and global outreach partners as Director of Missions in her local church. Connect with Sharon through her blog and twitter. New discipleship site, Soul Motive, will be available soon!

 

Stephanie NickelSteph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel co-authored former Paralympian Deborah L. Willows’ memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances. Steph is eclectically-interested and you can read more on her website and her blog.

 


Life as a Writer – Author Support Blog Hop

Author Blog Hop

Thanks to Sharon Bayliss for hosting this author support blog hop.

WHAT do you do? Give us a summary of your crazy life and all your responsibilities

HOW do you do it? How do you manage to find time to write? What tips can you share?

  • I use a planner and calendar to keep track of activities and events for the whole family.
  • On weekday mornings I get up at 5:10 to have a quiet time where I read my Bible, pray, figure out priorities for the day, and write for a half hour.
  • When I have a project, I break it down into smaller steps and set daily goals for myself. I try to leave extra time so that if something unexpected comes up I’m still able to meet deadlines.
  • My children are all in school now, so I write while they are away.
  • My 16-year-old daughter enjoys helping me by looking after her siblings when I need extra time to write.
  • I’ve learned to say “no” to things that don’t fit in with my goals.

WHY do you do it? Other than just sheer insanity, what keeps you going? Why have you chosen the life of an over-stressed author? What keeps you motivated during dark days?

  • I write because I believe God has given me the ability and responsibility to write.
  • I primarily write for an audience of One. If I write to the best of my ability for the glory of God, that’s really all that matters.
  • When I write, I’m happy.
  • Other people enjoy my writing.

QUESTIONS and PLEAS for help. Other authors will be reading your post, so if you have questions or want advice, you can ask. Also, if there is anything you need, or anything you can do to help others, mention that here as well.

  • How do you help others understand the importance of treating writing as a profession?
  • I’m working on Twitter Tips & Tricks for Writers. If you’d be interested in receiving a copy in exchange for an honest critique, please email me.

Is there anything else you’d like to know about my life as a writer?


Guest Post – Jen Cudmore with Tips for Balancing Rhythm and Pace

Jen CudmoreToday I’m privileged to host Jen Cudmore, one of my fellow authors for the San Francisco Wedding Planner Series. Here’s what she has to say about rhythm and pace in writing:

How does a writer keep a crime novel exciting and full of suspense? How are sweet stories told in a way that inspires the reader?

It’s not just the words the author chooses; it’s the positioning of each one in a place that best portrays the attitude of that particular scene.

When it comes to writing a novel, rhythm and pace are a big factor in creating a compelling story. Rhythm and pace are controlled by the length of each word, sentence, paragraph, and chapter. There are a few techniques which help the story move faster or slower, depending on your intent.

Here’s a simple formula to follow:

Short sentences, paragraphs and chapters = faster pace.

If you’re writing a scene with a lot of action or energy, use shorter sentences and paragraphs. When your character is being chased by the bad guy, you want the reader to feel the sense of urgency. One or two word sentences raise intensity, as does a paragraph with only one or two sentences. But be careful; too much can annoy the reader. I once read a book by a famous author with multiple one sentence paragraphs on each page, and it made the story harder to read.

Long sentences, paragraphs, and chapters = slower pace.

Readers sometimes find long paragraphs and chapters daunting. Long blocks of wording give a feeling that extra effort is required to read that particular section. However, there are times when the author needs to insert these fuller sections to calm the pace of the story after a high energy section.

The trick is balance.

Too much action and the reader will become exhausted. Not enough action and the reader will get bored. Keep it varied. You don’t want the reader to pause because they got lost, or to skip a section because it was too tedious. Each sentence, paragraph, and chapter must flow smoothly into the next.

You don’t want every page to look the same. On my first manuscript I worked hard to keep the chapters all the same length. Then I realized it was not only okay to vary the length, it’s actually beneficial. So give your manuscript a quick skim and see how you did at varying your structure.

Jen’s Bio: I grew up on the Columbia River Gorge in a tiny cabin built by my father. My family attended a little Baptist church where my mother played piano and my father led the music program. I left the Gorge area to attend Northwest University, where I graduated with the first group of students to earn a Bachelor’s of Psychology. Newly married with a baby on the way, I decided to put off graduate school to devote my time to learning how to be a better wife and mother. After my husband received a job offer, we relocated to Alaska, where we currently reside with our two children (as well as two boxers and two cats).

During the day I work for a large orthopedic clinic. I serve in both the AWANA program and bus ministry at my church. I’m a member of the Christian Writers Guild as well as the local Alaska Writers Guild, where I’m currently serving a fifth year on the conference committee.

Willow Ridge-website-summary


5 Ways to Effectively Market your Book

Book Marketing Blog Hop

For the past several weeks I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about book marketing from many different authors. Dvorah Lansky put together The Book Marketing Challenge with a diverse cast of authors who took turns sharing marketing ideas which have worked for them. Some of the strategies I knew about, but having access to specific “how-to” posts was very helpful. My only regret is that I haven’t had time to try them all out. Here are five of my favorites:

  1. Host a blog hop – this is a great way to share information and increase your audience. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in several blog hops over the past few months. If you want some tips, check out my previous posts on hosting a blog hop and creating a button for your blog hop. You can also use a blog hop to run contests or have people enter for a free copy of your book.
  2. Create something of value to give away – This sounds counterproductive; why would you spend time creating something of value and then just give it away? If you want people to BUY products from you, they need to trust that you have something that will be valuable to them. Most people are willing to give you their contact information (name and e-mail address) in exchange for something free. I’m currently in the process of updating my blog/website. When I launch my new site, I’m planning to give away Twitter Tips and Tricks for Writers as a way of building my contact list.
  3. Create graphics to share on social media sites – Whether your book is fiction or non-fiction, you can find quotes or snippets to share. Go through your manuscript and highlight what you want to share. Then, create graphics using software like The Logo Creator or Logo Design Studio Pro. This can be as simple as using a plain background and placing the quote on it or pairing the quotes with pictures you’ve taken. Make sure you include the title of your book and the link to your website so that it’s easy for people to find more information. Once you have a graphic, you can share it on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  4. Interact with your audience on your Facebook Author Page – This is a strategy I’m just starting to experiment with. (You can connect with me at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRuthL.Snyder). If you haven’t set up an author page yet, check out this tip page offered through the book marketing challenge. Facebook Pages give you the opportunity to reach a wider audience, “boost” posts you want more people to see, and receive stats that will help you determine how to use the page most effectively. If you want more information, check out The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Marketing on Copyblogger.
  5. Use press releases – I’ve found this to be a very effective way of letting people in my local area know about my books. When my novella, Cecile’s Christmas Miracle, was released I put together a press release and sent it out to four local papers. Three of the four responded. One paper printed an interview, another paper printed the information in the press release almost word for word, and the third paper highlighted the release of my book. For more ideas, check out Connie Dunn’s post on Marketing Your Book with Press Releases and 4 Tips for Creating the Essential Press Release by Sandra Beckwith.

What have you found effective in marketing your books? Please share 🙂


Putting your best foot forward: preparing for a writers’ conference

Girl taking a tentative step forward

I’m preparing to attend Write Canada in Guelph, ON from June 12-14. This morning I jotted down items on my “to do” list under “Prepare for Write Canada”. Here are a few things I’m preparing with an explanation of why and how:

  1. Business cardIt’s a good idea to have a business card that you can hand out to other writers, interested agents, or editors you meet. That way they have your contact information and can easily follow up with you. Check out sample business cards on the Tinyprints site if you want some creative ideas.
  2. One Sheet – a basic overview of who you are and what you do. Some people will want more information about you than a business card provides, so a one sheet is a good thing to have with you. The Writer’s Alley gives a good overview of a one sheet and examples for you to see. Jennifer Beever shares some helpful do’s and don’ts from a marketing perspective.
  3. 30-second elevator pitch – This is a 50-70 word description of a book or magazine article idea you want to pitch to an editor. Check out “What’s an Elevator Pitch for Your Book?” for a good overview and links to examples.
  4. Unpublished work for Blue Pencil Review – Holly Case explains, “Back when copy-proofs were still manually cut, pasted, and photographed before printing, a blue pencil was the instrument of choice for editors because blue was not visible when photographed. The editorial intervention was invisible by design.” Some conferences offer an opportunity for you to meet with an advanced writer or editor who will read a sample of your work and offer unbiased suggestions.
  5. 5 minute piece to read – Participating in a reading session allows you to give people a sample of your writing. Make sure you select a reading that is able to stand on its own, but also leaves the reader wanting more.
  6. Published books – Often there is a bookstore at the conference where you’re able to leave your books on consignment. There is usually a fee associated with this service (e.g. at Write Canada the bookstore keeps 25% of the sale price).

Do you have other suggestions to help writers who are preparing for a conference? It’s time for me to get down to work. Maybe I’ll see you at Write Canada.

 


Why every writer needs to find his community

In my last post, I shared thoughts about what community means to me. Today I want to take that a step farther and talk about why every writer needs a community.

writers at a writing workshop

Writing is a solitary activity, one we do in any number of places, but always alone. Writers need to shut out the rest of the world in order to think and put words together in a way that makes sense and communicates clearly. The work of writing is rewarding, but often arduous and frustrating. Writers need to force themselves to sit and write, learning to ignore the many distractions around them. Writing is complex. There are many words to choose from, but writers need to find the right one to convey just the right nuance. Research takes hours. Characters take on a life of their own and put twists into the plot the author wasn’t expecting. Most writers squeeze their craft in while working at a full-time career or raising a family. Writers put their heart and soul into their work. It’s an art. And in the life of an artist, critics abound. Often the worst critic is the writer himself.

What does community provide for a writer?

  1. People who speak the same language – Those who don’t write, don’t understand how writers need to write. They don’t understand why we talk to our characters. They don’t get why we spend hours on our craft, often late at night or very early in the morning when most people are sleeping. A writing group provides a place to tell it like it is and find understanding.
  2. Encouragement and support – Writing has been compared to giving birth. We labor for months, sometimes years, over a project. We revise and rewrite and then sometimes we are brave enough to submit. Some writers have enough rejection slips to paper their walls. When our work is rejected, it’s hard to separate our work from ourselves and we can also feel rejected. When our work is published, we want the whole world to celebrate with us, but the reality is that many sell less than 500 copies of their books. A writing group provides a venue to vent frustrations and cheer each other on. In Christian writing groups we are also able to pray for each other and share encouraging verses that uplift others.
  3. Objective feedback – It’s almost impossible to edit our own work properly. Often when we read our own work, we read what we intended to write instead of what’s in front of us in black and white. Reading out loud helps, but it’s even more helpful to have a critique group who will give you objective feedback. Writing groups may provide critiques. Although it’s nice to have people tell us we write well, we also need people who will tell us when we need to go back to the proverbial drawing board or give suggestions on how to make our writing really come alive. We can pay editors to do this work, but getting a variety of opinions is also very useful.

One group of writers I belong to is InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. This group offers an annual fall conference as well as many ways to connect using the internet. I live in a rural area where there is no writing group that meets in person. InScribe has filled a huge gap for me. If you’re a Canadian writer who is a Christian, I invite you to come join us.


Blog Tour for the Kathi Macias 12 Days of Christmas

12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour LogoIn preparation for the official launch of the Kathi Macias 12 Days of Christmas paperback on Thursday, May 29th, many of the 12 authors are participating in a blog tour. I invite you to come along as we get to know other authors who participated in the collection. Here is the blog tour schedule, along with links to the authors’ blogs:

Kathi Macias 12 Days of Christmas Blog Tour

May 19 – Ruth L. Snyder at http://ruthlsnyder.com/

May 20 – Anne Baxter Campbell at http://pewperspective.blogspot.com/

May 21 – Marcia Lee Laycock at www.writer-lee.blogspot.ca

May 22 – Mishael Witty at http://bluebrownbooks.com/

May 23 – Christine Lindsay at www.christinelindsay.com/

May 24 – Sheila Seiler Lagrand at http://sheilalagrand.com/

May 26 – Jessica Ferguson at http://jessyferguson.blogspot.com

May 27 – Kathy Bruins at  http://www.kathybruins.com/writing-speaking-and-other-interests/

May 28 – Peg Phifer at http://www.whispersinpurple.com

May 29 – Jeanette Hanscome at http://jeanettehanscome.com/

What Does Christmas mean to you?

What do you think of when you hear the word “Christmas”? Snow? Turkey? Family get-togethers? Gifts? Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ? Decorations? Sleigh Rides? Church? Caroling?

Sometimes we don’t stop and think about what it would be like to celebrate Christmas in a different country, on a different continent. In Cecile’s Christmas Miracle, my main character, Cecile, is spending her first Christmas in the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa. There is no snow. In fact, the temperature is hovering in the high 30 degree range (Celsius). She is hot, and sweaty and dealing with bugs and poverty and corruption. There is no air conditioning. There is no turkey, or family to get together with, or decorations. Obviously, without snow, there are no sleigh rides, and many of the Christmas songs she grew up singing don’t fit. Well, maybe I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas does. Although the people she serves have strong beliefs, most of them don’t believe in Jesus Christ because they’ve never had the opportunity to hear about His birth, life and death. They have no Bibles. In fact, many of them don’t know how to read.

Here in North America, it’s easy to lose sight of the real reason we celebrate Christmas. Often we get caught up in the commercialism of pretty wrapping paper, exquisite decorations, expensive gifts, and lavish meals. There is nothing wrong with any of these things. However, we need to remember who and why we’re celebrating. Jesus Christ, the God-man was born in a humble cattle shed and laid in a manger. He left the splendor of Heaven and laid aside His rights to take on the form of a servant. He walked this earth, ministered to people, and lived a sinless life. Then, He chose to walk the road to Calvary where He willingly gave His life as the Lamb of God. He took my place and yours on the cross. He accepted our punishment so that we can have a personal relationship with God. Then He rose again. Some day He’s coming back to earth to gather all who believe in and follow Him so that we can spend eternity together in Heaven.

It’s my hope that Cecile’s Christmas Miracle will show you what it’s like to celebrate Christmas in a different country. It’s also my hope that you will remember people you know who are overseas, whether in the military, as missionaries, or for work. Make time to send them a care package, or schedule a Skype visit with them. Better yet, go visit them and take a “walk in their shoes”. The first Christmas was about giving. Will you follow in Jesus’ footsteps and give what you can to make the lives of others better?

Enter a comment below for your chance to win a free paperback copy of the Kathi Macias 12 Days of Christmas. I will be making the draw on Thursday, May 29th and will announce the winner on my Facebook Author Page at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRuthL.Snyder. NOTE: You must be 18 years or older to participate in the draw.


On the Battlefield: Ready or not

“Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers.”  J. Sidlow Baxter

As a child playing Hide and Seek, I remember closing my eyes, counting, and then yelling out, “Here I come, ready or not!” We as Christians are in a spiritual battle, ready or not.

“Spiritual warfare is very real. There is a furious, fierce, and ferocious battle raging in the realm of the spirit between the forces of God and the forces of evil. Warfare happens every day, all the time. Whether you believe it or not, you are in a battlefield. You are in warfare.” Pedro Okoro from Crushing the Devil: Your Guide to Spiritual Warfare

Ephesians 6:10-20 says:

10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,[c] against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (New King James Version, Bible Gateway.com)

In September I accepted the challenge of leading InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship (ICWF) by becoming the president.  Edward Bulwer-Lytton said, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” Words are powerful and can be used for good or evil. The members of ICWF all seek to honour God with their words. God is using those words to change people’s lives. Although I knew in theory that I would be subjected to spiritual attacks because of my leadership position, I wasn’t totally prepared. In this past year I have experienced struggles in areas where I never struggled before, or at least not to the same extent. Other members of the executive have also shared battles they are facing.

Yesterday I commented, “We’re in the lion’s den.” Thankfully, we serve the same God that Daniel served. We’re not in this battle alone! God has provided weapons for us to use, but we need to choose to use them – not once, but every day. Too often I rush into the fray in my own strength. Too often I see other people as the “enemy” instead of remembering that my battle is against spiritual forces. Too often I fail to wait on God; I fail to pray for His strength, guidance, and protection. I find it amazing that God chooses to use weak, frail, imperfect people like me to accomplish His will.

Heavenly Father, teach me to pray. Help me to wait on you and your perfect timing in my life and ministry. Thank you for the protection, armor and weapons you provide. Help me to take them up, to step out and do battle. Help me to be faithful in the things you’ve given me to do. Thank you that the battle is not mine, but yours. Thank you that the victory is up to you. Help me to be obedient in doing what you give me to do and to trust you for the results. In Jesus Name, Amen.