Sneak Peek into what I’m teaching at a Writing Camp for Kids

This week I’m combining my love of writing and teaching through play to facilitate a writing camp for kids in St. Paul, Alberta. The St. Paul & District Arts Foundation is offering Compose Your Summer, four days of literature and dance. Miss Heather is facilitating the dance and I’ll facilitate the writing portion.

Here are some of the ideas we’ll be trying:

DAY 1 – FOCUS ON SETTING

Ice-breaker idea from She’s Crafty

 

Challenge: Draw a giant map or picture of your story world using crayons, markers, paint, or whatever else you choose. Think about what your world is like, who lives there, and how your characters work together or against each other.

DAY 2 – FOCUS ON CHARACTER

Challenge: Explore costumes and figure out what your main character looks like. Draw a picture of your character and/or fill out a character questionnaire. Then interview a fellow camper and find out about his or her character. If you’d like, you can act out your character and we’ll capture him or her on video.

DAY 3 – FOCUS ON STORY STRUCTURE

Challenge: Brainstorm a beginning (including hook), middle, and end to a story with the group. As a group, act out the group story, which will be videoed. Decide on the main points of your own story and either write out or act out your story. (Discussions of genre and dialogue as time permits)

DAY 4 – FOCUS ON PULLING THE PIECES TOGETHER

Challenge: Explore the senses and create a sensory dictionary as a group. Go through your story and highlight each sense with a different colour. Discuss self-editing tips as a group. Exchange stories and give feedback. Work on revisions.

RESOURCES:

20 Three Minute Brain Breaks

I’ve found an amazing array of resources on writing and teaching writing to children to include as handouts for each participant.

Stay tuned for a report back on how the writing camp went and lessons I learned 🙂


A New Arrival: 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers

 

I’m very excited to share one of my latest projects with you. As many of you know, I serve as President of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. Just over a year ago, during one of our executive meetings, we discussed the possibility of putting together an anthology with contributions from members of InScribe. We organized a volunteer committee and set our sights on having the book published and ready to launch at our InScribe Fall Conference September 24-26, 2015.

The end result is a book with contributions from 28 Canadian authors, dealing with seven key areas for Christian writers: Time with God, Healthy Living, Time Management, Honing Writing Skills, Crafting a Masterpiece, Submitting, and Marketing. The contributing writers, who come from all walks of life and write in various genres for a range of audiences, are all members of ICWF. Through fiction, poetry, and non-fiction such as devotionals, essays, and articles, they generously share their own discoveries, success stories, and hard-won lessons to encourage and support other Christian writers.

The e-book is now available on Kindle:

7-Essential-Habits-Cover

The paperback version is in process and will be released during conference.

Thanks to everyone who had a part in making this book possible!

Endorsements

“I love seven things about this book: It is practical. It is affordable. It is encouraging. It is worth highlighting, underlining and dog-earing. Plus it made me forget about my toothache. Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran writer, you’ll discover 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers to be jammed with instantly actionable advice that will make you a better writer. Dig in.”
Phil Callaway (www.philcallaway.com) is the best-selling author of more than 25 books, a popular speaker, the host of Laugh Again Radio, and a grandpa.

7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers is an absolute gem! I love that it covers all the basics a writer needs to know, making them simple and practical. I also love that the book has many authors, giving us ideas and suggestions from their own writing journey. I highly recommend this book to anyone seriously considering writing as a vocation or even an avocation, particularly those writers who see their work as a ministry—which it certainly is!”
Kathi Macias (www.kathimacias.com) is an award-winning author of more than 50 books. A wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, Kathi lives in Southern California with her husband, Al.

7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers is loaded with actionable advice that will make you a better writer. Whether you are a multi-published author or a beginning writer, this book will benefit you.”
Shelley Hitz, author coach and best-selling author
www.ShelleyHitz.com 

“This book is a beautiful blend of faithfulness and craft. It will help you answer the practical questions of what it means to be a writer while honoring what you believe. I wish I’d read this when I got started.”
Jeff Goins, Best-selling author, The Art of Work

“There are hundreds of how-to-write books on the market, but none that I know of touches BOTH of the vital aspects of writing as a Christian better than this anthology from InScribe. The practical AND the spiritual are woven into a whole by a remarkably creative group of writers who are in the trenches as we speak. I intend to snack on this fare again and again.”
Nancy Rue, best-selling Christian author and creator of Shadow to Shelf, a mentoring program for writers.


What I Learned at Write Canada 2015 – Part 2: Indie Writer Continuing Class

The continuing class, Five Keys to Becoming a Successful Indie Author/Publisher with Linda Hall especially fascinated me since I began the process of publishing my own books this year. (My next book – Learn Twitter: 10 Intermediate Steps is launching July 15, 2015.)

Linda started out by describing different ways to get books published (Traditional, Independent, and Small Indie Presses) and shared a brief history of Indie publishing (e.g. Benjamin Franklin, 1732-1758, wrote and published Poor Richard’s Almanac). She also reviewed the reasons people decide to go the Indie publishing route:

  • Because I can’t get an agent or a traditional publishing deal
  • Because I want to be in control of my own business

  • Because I enjoy the challenge of being in business for myself

  • Because I want to write what I want to write

  • Traditional houses don’t publish my genre

  • My publisher closed its fiction line

  • I need flexible deadlines

  • As a speaker, I need books to sell at events (business card book)

“If you have 1,000 faithful fans, you can make a living as an Indie writer.” @WriterHall #Indies #quote #writer

Key #1 Pre-book Planning

Is pre-planning different for the Indie Author?

You have to do MORE pre-planning:

  • If fiction: Will it be a series? Length?
  • If nonfiction – Do you have a platform to share your work from? A blog or website?

TIPS:

  • Get involved with communities where your readers spend time
  • Make sure you have a website and blog

Key #2 Writing the book

Your book should be the absolute best book you can write

How many books should I publish in a year? As many as you can write well

Should I format as I write?

  • Only one space after a period
  • Don’t use tabs; use paragraph formatting
  • Use Times New Roman (Serif) (For overheads, use non-serif)
  • Paragraphs should be fairly short

Resources:

1. Why is everyone talking about Scrivener?

  • Trash doesn’t erase.
  • Character name generator
  • Snap Shot – copies your screen so that you can go back if you want.

2. Simple Note – an easy way to keep notes

3. How to format your novel for Kindle, Nook, the iBookstore, Smashwords, and CreateSpace…in One Afternoon (for Mac) by Ed Ditto

4. The ebook design and development guide by Paul Salvette

5. Gwen Hernandez – Scrivener course (NOTE: Registration is now open for classes in the fall of 2015.)

Key #3 – Editing

  • Read your piece out loud (Google Play Books reads out loud)
  • Find Beta readers – friends, family members, and readers who will give you honest feedback about your writing.
  • Get an outside editor!

The four types of editing:

1. Concept or Developmental

2. Substantive

3. Copy-editing

4. Proofreading

Key #4 – Covers and Finishing

Go to Amazon and search the genre to get ideas about the style of cover you want and what’s popular.

eBook covers are different than print book covers

3 step judging for covers:

  1. Can you read it from 10 feet
  2. Can your grandmother read it from 10 feet
  3. Title should be in top 1/3 of cover

Formats:

  • Amazon – mobi
  • Nook, Kobo, Smashwords and others – epub
  • CreateSpace – PDF

Styles (eBooks)

  • Full (left/right) justified
  • Indent or space between paragraphs
  • Fonts (Times New Roman, Arial, Geneva) eReaders often use their own fonts
  • Copyright, TOC, end stuff, front stuff, graphics

TIP: Draft2digital – Use instead of Smashwords

Styles (Print Books)

  • Full (left/right) justified
  • Indent all but first paragraph of new chapters
  • First letter or each first paragraph of each new chapter – larger and bolder
  • Fonts your choice (serif)
  • Copyright, TOC, end stuff, front stuff
  • Any graphics must be at least 300 dpi
  • No header or footer on first page of each new chapter or in end stuff or front stuff
  • Start on right side (odd numbered page)
  • Headers – odd numbered page is the title, even number is the author

Publishing

ISBNs are free in Canada – go to CISS

Turn your book into audio – acx.com (Only available in the U.S.)

Key #5 – Marketing 

The Indie Reviewers List (theindieview.com); DO NOT pay for reviews!

Do a Google search for the many sites which list bloggers and book reviewers.

More Information:

Linda gave me permission to share the link to a special page she set up for this class. Check it out at rikhall.com/Linda.

My two previous posts about Write Canada were: 5 Things I appreciated about Write Canada  and the Magazine Editor Panel.


Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. Thomas A. Edison

Week of June 21 to 28, 2015 – Technology blips, Last week of school, and Editing

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. Thomas A. Edison

This has been one of those weeks:
  • On Sunday night our internet suddenly died. A few phone calls and a couple days later the internet service came back to life. (The power pack for the radio system needed to be replaced.)

  • The last week of school is always hectic – exams, sorting, signing IPPs, report cards . . . I also participated on a hiring interview panel in my role as Glendon School Council Chair.

  • I’m in the middle of editing the next book in my Twitter series. Learn Twitter: 10 Intermediate Steps launches on July 15th. Keep your eyes open for some cover options I’m considering.
  • In my last posts I’ve mentioned aiming to be more consistent with my blog posts. Busyness held me back this week. However, so did technology. This is my 4th attempt to write this post. The first three times NOTHING saved. I’m not sure I would be as persistent as Thomas Edison, who tried 1,000 times before he figured out how to make a light bulb work. When a reporter asked him how it felt to fail that many times, Edison replied:

“I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” (Click to Tweet) 

  • I thought these two graphics summed up my week well – encouragement to try one more time, and waiting for the Lord.

How did your week go?

Psalm 33

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Summer Writing Fun: Compose Your Summer

Summer arts camp in St. Paul, Alberta

Are you looking for interesting, inspiring programs for your children to participate in this summer? Check out the Compose Your Summer opportunity from the St. Paul (Alberta) and District Arts Foundation.

I’m looking forward to being one of the facilitators for this program. My part will be working with the three different age groups (5-8, 9-12, and 13-18 year-olds) and helping them learn about writing in a fun, active way. Each participant will have the opportunity to create a unique story setting using paint, crayons, pictures, or any other method he chooses. We will also explore characterization by dressing up in different clothing, trying different dialogue, learning about descriptive words, and discussing good/bad traits. Plot will come alive as we video, play with words, and give helpful suggestions to each other. Participants will also receive general writing tips, editing tips, and a sneak peek into publishing and marketing.

Any suggestions or questions? I hope you’ll join in the fun!

Register today.


5 Things I Appreciated About Write Canada 2015

Write Canada 2015 Art
Picture taken at Write Canada 2015 by Stephanie Nickel

I just returned home on Sunday from Toronto, where I attended Write Canada 2015. Over the next few weeks I plan to share some of the teaching and tips I picked up while I was there, but today I’ll share an overview.

1. Focus

Although Write Canada is a writing conference and the focus is on writing, the overarching focus is on God, because attendees are Christian writers. During the event, we were all challenged to consider questions such as:

  • How has God gifted you, and what are you doing with that gift?
  • Are you in God’s Word?
  • Are you interpreting God’s Word accurately?
  • How are you using your writing to shine God’s light on issues?
  • Are you giving glory to God for successes?

 

2. Workshops

I always find it a challenge to pick workshops when I attend writing conferences, because there are so many helpful sessions available. (That’s why I ordered ALL the sessions that were recorded!) This year I decided to focus on self-publishing and writing shorter pieces. The sessions I attended were:

  • Book Launches that Sizzle Panel
  • Magazine Editor Panel
  • Five Keys to Becoming a Successful Indie Author/Publisher with Linda Hall
  • Marketing Best Practices with Mark Lefebvre
  • Going Global – Write Locally & Sell Globally with Mark Lefebvre
  • Turning Personal Experience into a Devotional Message with Susan King
  • The Game of Publishing with Warren Benson

 

3. Networking

Talking with Susan King and Brenda Wood. Photo by Belinda Cater Burston
Talking with Susan King and Brenda Wood. Photo by Belinda Cater Burston

Writing conferences provide a unique opportunity for authors to meet and interact with other authors, agents, editors, and publishers. I enjoyed the opportunity to have conversations with:

Faculty members at Write Canada graciously make themselves available to have conversations, answer questions, listen to queries, and share their knowledge and expertise.

Deborah Ironstand and James Peters. Photo by Belinda Cater Burston
Deborah Ironstand and James Peters. Photo by Belinda Cater Burston

A special opportunity to network took place Saturday during lunch in a discussion regarding Aboriginal Christian writing in Canada. Dorene Meyer invited James Peters and Deborah Ironstand to join her on a panel. Dorene started the discussion by apologizing for the way Canadians have treated First Nations people. James and Deborah acknowledged the apology and offered forgiveness. Then Deborah read “The Sweet Presence,” a story published in Northern Writers Volume 5. She wept as she read. This is the first opportunity she’s ever had to read her story publicly. James shared his testimony of how God saved him. He said he wants to share his story in schools and churches so that young people don’t have to live through what he did. Doreen invited anyone who would be interested in publishing and promoting Aboriginal Christian writers to contact her. I’m excited to see where this will lead.

4. Friendships

Everything is better when you have friends! I enjoyed hugging and chatting with many of my Christian writing friends over the weekend. Write Canada provided many opportunities to hear about challenges and victories we’ve experienced and to celebrate excellence in writing. (The Word Awards Gala took place Saturday evening, immediately following the Write Canada conference.) Meeting face-to-face with friends I’ve met only through social media made it even better. I also enjoyed meeting people I’d never met before and adding them to my circle of friends.

5. Photography

Organizers of Write Canada arranged to have Stephen G. Woo, a professional photographer, available to take pictures on an appointment basis. He made the shoot fun, and when he found out I’ve written a book about Twitter, he customized the photos around that. I expected to have one or maybe two pictures to choose from, but he sent me twenty-one! Here are some of my favourites.

Pictures he took at The Word Awards Gala are available to view on Facebook.

As you can tell, Write Canada is a great event. I’m thankful God made a way for me to attend. Tell us about your favourite conference to attend!

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Lessons in Trust and Technology

Lessons in trust and technology

 

Sometimes I just have to laugh. (I’d rather laugh than cry, wouldn’t you?!) After I posted last time, I ran into major technology issues. It all started quite innocently, with the addition of a new e-mail address. After the creation of the e-mail address, I wanted to add it to my e-mail program so that I don’t have to check e-mail on the web. Although I thought I had the address configured properly into my Apple Mail program, I soon discovered I made some errors, which not only resulted in me not being able to access my new e-mail address, but also resulted in me not being able to access my website, or the website of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, or the admin panel for either of these websites. Why? Because my IP address was singled out as the source of a possible virus . . .  and blocked. This happened on May 21st and today is the first day I’ve had access to all my services again!

At first I felt stressed, frantic. I’m in the middle of taking an excellent course from Shelley Hitz, called Author Audience Academy. I started the section of the course on building an e-mail list, only to find myself locked out of my website. I couldn’t change anything, I couldn’t apply what I was learning, I couldn’t even look at my website.

Instead of focusing on what I couldn’t do, I decided to focus on what I could do. I’m also in the middle of writing my second how-to book for Twitter (Learn Twitter: 10 Intermediate Steps). My original goal was to have the rough draft finished at the end of last week. That didn’t happen. I still have three chapters to write and edit. I’ve already told people I’m going to publish it the end of June and next week I’m going to Write Canada, which means no time for writing. More cause for panic . . .  Or not. As I thought about it, I remembered that I could upload a draft copy and put the book up for pre-sale. As long as that happens in June, people will be happy because they know the book is on its way. That gives me some breathing space and allows me to finish the book well. It also gives me time to get the book to beta readers for feedback. (If you’d like to be one of my beta readers, e-mail me!)

Although I wasn’t able to post on my own blog, I was still able to write two posts which were shared on other blogs:

 


Shadow (German Shepherd/Collie/Mongrel) joined our family when our oldest daughter was eighteen months old. He died peacefully in his sleep when she was fifteen, under the trampoline where he spent many hours “supervising” as our children played and jumped above him. He lived a full, long life, but it was hard to say “Goodbye” or think of replacing him. Nine months ago a beautiful white bundle of energy (Husky/Malamut) joined our family. Our children named him Olaf, after the snowman from the movie, Frozen. Olaf has reminded me of several important truths regarding parenting (Click here to read the rest of this post on A Beautiful Life.)

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” -William Wordsworth

It started at the breakfast table. After we read about what qualities God looks for in a person and how we should look beyond people’s actions and appearances.

“You’re dumb. I don’t like you.”

“I don’t like you either.”

“Mom, Levi’s bugging me.”

I sighed. My husband was already at work. “Are you guys being kind to one another?”

They gave me crooked grins and shook their heads. It was quiet for a few milliseconds before they were at each other,  again.

(Click here to read the rest of this post on InScribe Writers Online)

I believe God’s timing is perfect. I know that He is trustworthy. But sometimes in the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to lose sight of HIM.

What have you been learning about technology and/or trust lately?


Update and future direction for ruthlsnyder.com

Tragedy and goalsIn January I shared my writing goals for 2015. I haven’t finished anything on that list! But I am still focusing on non-fiction, specifically the Author Social Media Mastery Series. After I finished Kindle in 30 with Kristen Eckstein, I decided to take the Author Audience Academy course with Shelley Hitz. I can’t say enough about this excellent course. The first month we focused on Publishing:

  • Week 1 – Strategy
  • Week 2 – Writing
  • Week 3 – Publishing
  • Week 4 – The Launch

I followed Shelley’s hints and helpful tips and my book, Learn Twitter: 10 Beginning Steps, is now available on Kindle!

This month we are focusing on Platform:

  • Week 1 – The Foundation
  • Week 2 – Author Website
  • Week 3 – E-mail Marketing
  • Week 4 – Social Media Marketing

Month Three will focus on products to accelerate our business.

While I’ve been taking this course I’ve also been:

In my non-writing life:

  • Parenting our five children ages 7-17
  • Teaching four Music for Young Children classes (and substitute teaching four classes for two weeks)
  • Teaching private piano lessons to four students
  • Hosting a piano recital for all my music students
  • Playing piano for the Glendon Community Church
  • Helping select a digital piano for the church (This was FUN! I had the opportunity to play pianos most of the day, including a $200,000 Steinway and a $240,000 Bosendorfer – concert grand pianos. Of course those instruments were WAY out of our budget.)
  • Writing a grant application and doing other paperwork related to a playground project for the Glendon Playground and Park Society

Hmmm. No wonder I’ve been busy…and haven’t written too many blog posts for my own website!

As I’ve been working through the Author Audience Academy, I’ve been thinking about what I should be focusing on here on my website. What do I need to keep doing? What do I need to stop doing? What do I need to start doing?

That’s where you come in. I need some feedback from you, my readers. Which topics are you most interested in (Devotionals, Family life, Parenting, Writing, Twitter, Marketing, Publishing, Other)? How often would you like me to post? (I want to post consistently!) Any and all feedback is welcome! Please leave a comment below. Thanks 🙂