Improving Your Craft: Inspire's Online Critique Groups

Writers Group

Writers write. Usually locked in a room. Alone. For hours. We emerge for potty breaks and coffee breaks. Then we hide back in our room to write. Alone. For hours.

Ultimately we have to return to the world, if only to get what we write into the hands of others. But before we hit “send” to an email, slip our submissions into the mailbox or click “publish” ourselves, we need feedback from people who understand the craft of writing.

Inspire Christian Writers has those people, ready to help you excel in your craft. We have fabulous in-person critique groups, organized regionally. But not everyone’s schedule or circumstances are a fit for an in-person group. Not everyone lives locally. Enter Inspire Christian Writers’ online critique groups.

Last year Inspire Christian Writers birthed its first online critique group. This year, we’re expanding the scope of online groups, forming groups for the following genres:

  • General adult: includes both fiction and non-fiction genres, memoirs, blog posts, articles, devotionals
  • Poetry
  • Screenwriting
  • Children: includes all genres (board, picture book, EZ readers, early chapter, middle grade, young adult, magazine and both fiction and non-fiction)

We are open to other genres or to groups with a specific focus (such memoirs, devotionals or romance novels) and as many groups as we can find willing leaders to facilitate.

Ideally, online groups are limited to a specific number of members with a rotating schedule for submissions throughout the month. This cap limits the number of critiques required each week, yet allows each person a chance to submit within a reasonable time span. Critiques can be done via email or the group can gather online each week via Skype, Google Hangouts or an online chat—whatever works best for the people involved.

If you’d like to be part of an online or an in-person critique group—fill out our Critique Group Interest Form and our group coordinator will respond to you.

Do you have any questions about online critique groups? Or would you like to learn how to facilitate a group? Contact Carol Peterson at:



Carol’s mission is to entertain, educate and inspire. Her writing for children is to make learning fun; her writing for adults is to encourage faith through the written word. She has four books for teachers to use in the classroom published by Teacher Ideas Press. She can be found at and and on Facebook!


Black Cat's Legacy to Launch March 29th

cover_cat_eyes-realistic-faceThis Saturday, March 29th, Inspire will celebrate the launch of Black Cat’s Legacy by debut author Elaine Faber.

The launch party & book signing will be held at the Sacramento County Animal Shelter:

3839 Bradshaw Road, Sacramento. (near Hwy 50).

Open House 1:00 to 3:00 PM.

All black and white cats and kittens at the shelter will be specially priced in honor of Thumper, the black and white tuxedo cat in Black Cat’s Legacy.  There will be raffle prizes and refreshments. The public is welcome.

Black Cat’s Legacy will be available for purchase at a special discounted rate- only $10. (signed by Thumper and Elaine.) A portion of all book sales will be donated to animal rescue organizations, promoting the adoption and spaying of dogs and cats

Bring a friend and join the fun!

Here’s a little teaser of the book:

elaine_faberBlack Cat’s Legacy features Thumper, the Fern Lake Lodge crime solving black cat. Or at least he will be if he can get the humans to pay attention to the clues he places right under their inferior noses.  A tale of intrigue and murder, with a touch of whimsy. It will keep the reader guessing until the end.

Elaine’s short stories are published in various national magazines and multiple anthologies. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Inspire Christian Writers, where she serves as a critique leader and editor for the annual Inspire Anthology.

From Tears to Triumph: An Interview with Linda Bello-Ruiz

Christian author Linda (Cassells) Bello-Ruiz has written an award-winning memoir called From Tears to Triumph, My Journey to The House of Hope. Originally from Redwood Valley, CA she co-founded and directed The House of Hope in San Jose, Costa Rica. After returning to the United States Linda earned a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco and a master’s degree in Psychology from Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California.Linda

Linda worked as a bilingual vocational rehabilitation counselor in Santa Rosa, California for twenty-six years and consulted as a vocational expert on disability in litigation for five of those years. The mother of four grown children, she is now retired and divides her time between Lincoln, California and Barra de Navidad, Jalisco, Mexico. She is active in Rotary, the Sun City Authors & Writers Resource Group, Inspire Christian Writers, and the Northern California Publishers and Authors Association.

I recently asked Linda when she first began writing this memoir.
The story percolated within me for over thirty years, but I didn’t have time in my busy family/professional life to sit down and put my memories onto paper. I finally retired and started writing my memoir in June 2010. From Tears to Triumph was published in August, 2013, resulting in a three year, two month journey of continual writing, editing, polishing and preparing for publishing.

Tell me about the award your memoir has won.
From Tears to Triumph just received the gold medal in the national 2013 Illuminations Book Awards (biography/memoir category). This particular annual book competition is for Christian-themed books. It’s quite an honor and I still haven’t come down from “Cloud Nine,” and from praising the Lord for this. Below is a bit about the awards:

The 2013 Illumination Awards are intended to celebrate and recognize the exemplary books produced by the ever-growing Christian branch of publishing and bookselling. A vast array of new titles is released from this thriving sector each year, bringing inspiration and answers to millions of readers exploring their faith.
“Our world is filled with anger and selfishness, and people are looking for something to have faith in, something beyond themselves,” says Awards Director Jim Barnes. “The Bible was the first ‘self-help’ book, filled with stories meant to show us how to live together in peace. These awards are dedicated to that spirit, and to books that help answer the simple question: ‘What Would Jesus Do?’”

Where did you get the idea for this book?
Every time I shared my personal story with people, they’d say, “Your story sounds like a book or movie!” I knew they were right. I’d never met anybody who had been abused, sat on a beach contemplating suicide, joined a religious commune, gone to jail while preaching the gospel, called by God to move to Costa Rica, called to set up a Christian halfway house for street girls, runaways and underage prostitutes…and who’d been “gifted” a young girl by her desperate father. Most people have never had even one of those life experiences and I had them ALL! And I had five years worth of letters I’d written home to my parents during my adventures, letters that helped me recall details.

From Tears to Triumph coverDo you have your next book in mind?
My next book, Love Thy Neighbor, Omar, is about a drug dealer in Mexico who God encouraged me to love and reach out to. Although afraid, I did just that, enveloping him, his wife and children into my life. My heart broke when he was gunned down last year. This next book is “based on a true-story” and explores his early life and our friendship. He was only twenty-six-years old when killed.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
After considering all of my publishing options (and there are many!) I chose to start my own publishing company – Mariah Publishing. Doing so allowed me to keep ownership of my book(s) and make all major decisions. The royalties are higher than going other routes, but the marketing responsibility remains the same. It doesn’t matter “who” publishes your book. YOU must put your time, energy and resources into marketing.

What do you read and what writers have influenced you?
Mid-stream in my writing journey I hired a writing coach: Linda Joy Myers, President of the National Association of Memoir Writers (NAMW). An important piece of advice she gave me was: “Read what you write.” Since I was writing a memoir, I filled my office with other people’s memoirs and read only memoirs for nearly a year. From that experience I learned what I liked and didn’t like in how others wrote. For example, many memoirs are “dark” with the author pouring out her/his soul and all the bad things that happened to them. I would end the book feeling depressed.

I didn’t want my readers to have that experience, so my book is full of faith and hope. Yes, bad things happen to good people, and bad things happened to me…but my story is about determination and hope and the power of God in my life and the lives of the girls who came through the doors of The House of Hope.

You can follow Linda on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Connect with Linda on her website: and email her at

Check out her book trailer for From Tears to Triumph and the awards announcement!

Kathryn_MaddinglyInterview by: Katheryn Mattingly, Inspire member and author of Benjamin and Fractured Hearts.
Kathryn Mattingly has always had a passion for writing. Her short fiction pieces have received recognition for excellence in Writer’s Digest Award Winning Stories, Mind Trips Unlimited, Beacons of Tomorrow and Internationally Yours: Prize Winning Stories. Her work has appeared in 8 different anthologies, Dark Discoveries magazine, and The Possibility Place. Kathryn’s debut novel, Benjamin, was a New Century Quarterly Finalist. Ms. Mattingly’s short story collection, Fractured Hearts, was released this January 2014. Her second novel, Journey, will be out in November. She currently teaches Creative Writing at a local college and is a reader/judge for the Pacific NW Writer’s annual literary contest. Kathryn is inspired by real-life events and places she has lived or traveled. She currently resides in Northern California.

Telling Your Story Conference on April 5th

Telling Your StoryYou have a story.  And someone is waiting to hear it.

Stonecroft Ministries makes it possible for you to be equipped, energized and trained to share your powerful faith story.  Through a variety of formats—including art, video, social media, creative writing, movement, drama, songwriting and public speaking—women will be empowered to share their stories and the transformational power of Jesus.

On Saturday, April 5, 2014, gifted workshop leaders will be offering the 2nd Annual Stonecroft’s Telling Your Story Conference at Valley Community Church in Pleasanton, California.  This 1-day training includes worship, networking, your choice of two 90-minute interactive workshops and lunch.  General sessions will feature highlights from the offered workshops, including a very powerful vignette.

You will walk away from this conference equipped to tell your faith story in a fresh and relevant way.  Each attendee will also receive a conference bag filled with special items from our conference sponsors.

You can register online by visiting the conference website.  There are detailed descriptions of the workshops being offered, speaker information, and more.

Within each story, we find God’s story of love and grace.  Get ready to write your story…someone is waiting to hear it!


As founder of Ladybug Women’s Ministries, Lori Hartin reminds every lady that no matter how tiny she may feel, she is an important part of God’s plan. The seeds she plants have eternal effects. Lori is a licensed minister and biblical counselor. With an excellent understanding of human behavior and a genuine love for people, Lori uses her personal experiences and relevant topics to relate to women with humor and warmth as a speaker and writer. Lori also serves Inspire Christian Writers as the Director of Special Events.


What's Your Story? Seeking Submissions for Inspire Promises Anthology


Promises—as children we banter them about like candy. Then we grow up. We give oaths, bear witness, and make vows. There is power in promises. The Scriptures are full of God’s promises.

What can you share about promises?

Do you have stories of how God has fulfilled promises in your life?

Has someone you trusted given and broken a promise to you?

What has God taught you during this time?

Have you ever given a promise and needed God’s help to fulfilled it?

This is your opportunity to share your stories. Inspire Christian Writers is accepting personal experience and fiction stories, poems and devotionals on the topic of promises for the Inspire Promises 2014 Anthology.

All Inspire Christian Writer members are welcome to submit one or more pieces. Submissions will be accepted between March 1st and June 1st, 2014.

We promise you could be part of another fabulous Inspire publication.

To submit your story visit our Inspire Promises Submission Form.