• Writerly Wednesdays

    Real Cowboys Don’t Share

    In the early days of ICW, my first novel attempt included a scene where two cowboys met in a café. They each ordered coffee but decided they didn’t need a whole cinnamon roll, so they split one. Peter Leavell’s pithy reaction? Real cowboys don’t share cinnamon rolls!!! Years later, that line still makes me laugh. But there you have it—six words that explain why we writers need critique groups. Thanks to my husband’s job transfers, I’ve participated in several critique groups around the West. I’ve reviewed all kinds of raw writing and submitted my share. In the midst of the good, the bad and the ugly—my submissions included—I have learned…

  • Writerly Wednesdays

    Change Can Work Wonders

    Change the format you use for your writing, and watch it work wonders. During my writing journey for my first book, I initially struggled with the format. I began with my journal entries, and collaborated with my sister via Google Docs for long-distance editing. I could see her edits, and I made the necessary changes in my manuscript. We spent hours editing the raw material, and then creating the manuscript in the form of dated journal entries. One day, a divine revelation struck: Transform the manuscript into a story. My challenge was to figure out how, especially as my sister continued to edit journal pages. One day, I ran across…

  • Writerly Wednesdays

    From The Heart

    “…and Mary treasured up all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” Most mothers love to tell about the day their children were born. These are some of our best stories, overflowing with life-threatening suspense, transformation, the miraculous and in the end, joy. As with all our stories, we make choices about what to include and what to leave out, depending on the audience, depending on the purpose in the telling. But none of our stories can match Mary’s. How happy she must have been to sit down with Luke and have a chance to tell her account of Jesus’ miraculous conception and dramatic birth, which she had been…

  • Writerly Wednesdays

    Should Politics and Fiction Mix?

    While bookworms consult other bookworms for reading recommendations, there is often a common caveat to these requests. It goes something like this: “I love the suspense or thriller genre, but please no politics.” Readers have valid reasons for avoiding the political. Fiction is often viewed as an escape from the problems of the world. No one wants to be lectured from either the left or the right of the political spectrum. So why do writers, who happen to be political junkies, inject their stories with political principles, and why is it important? Here are a few reasons to consider. Education Infuse fiction with politics in order to educate. There is…

  • Writerly Wednesdays

    The Bottom Line: What I’ve Learned in 40+ Years of Writing

    The writing life is a great ride—if one can hang on. I’ve never liked roller coasters—and yet, that’s exactly what I’ve been riding for nearly half a century. How well I remember that glorious first book contract somewhere back in the mists of the 1970s. I thought I was set. I had a publisher, I had an editor, I could just spend the rest of my life writing the stories I was passionate to tell and—Voilà—they would be published. It didn’t take me long to figure out that editors change, publishers cancel series, agents retire—or even die. Life is unstable—and nothing more so than the writing life. Zondervan cancelled their…

  • Writerly Wednesdays

    The Great Adverbectomy

    When I first began writing, I wrote completely without guidance, operating my keyboard without training. After several manuscript rejections, I found much-needed help through a critique group. My first writing mentor addressed a problem. Since I had enough adverbs in my first paragraph to give an editor a heart attack, they were removed. Gasp. Wheeze. Whimper. I loved my adverbs. They were astonishingly, beguilingly, charmingly, alluringly wonderful.After recovering from the shock, I went home and held a small service in their honor. Lovingly, longingly, I took one final look at my Word document before starting my search. Weepingly, I sought for any word ending in the dreaded, tell-tale “ly” and…

  • Writerly Wednesdays

    Eight Ways to Make an Editor Do a Happy Dance

    Writing intended for publication, whether it’s traditional, partner or self-publication, should be sifted through an editor filter. Why? Because we authors tend to read what’s in our heads, not what’s on the computer screen. We also have trouble pinpointing weaknesses in our own manuscripts. Editors who have no emotional attachment to our work provide unbiased, professional feedback. Even editors need editors. My writing is always improved by an editor’s candid comments. Here are a few key things to remember to create a smooth and productive writer/editor relationship: Read As many great writers and publishers have said, “Good writers are first and foremost good readers.” Reading teaches us word usage, sentence…