2014 Write to Inspire Conference: Lyn Lasneski Interview

Are you ready to discover how to awaken the creative genius inside? Meet the “Genius Whisperer,” Lyn Lasneski, an award-winning artist, pilot, and trainer. An extraordinary woman who has dedicated her life to helping writers and other creatives unlock their potential, Lyn is one of the featured speakers at the upcoming Inspire Christian Writers conference Oct 3-4, 2014.

Here are a few key ideas Lyn shared in our video interview:

  • Your everyday experiences can make you a better writer. Lyn explains how becoming a pilot helped her become a better painter.
  • Building awareness of the world around you is crucial to becoming a better writer.
  • Developing personal creative rituals is essential to getting started.
  • Why you need to create your own personal creative space.
  • How to define success, and when it’s “okay” to call yourself a writer.

Lyn Lasneski has been lovingly dubbed ‘the Genius Whisperer’ by her students. Art and adventure define her. She earned an Art’s degree in Wyoming tpilot and Certified Flight Instructor (CFII and MEII), and enjoyed flying tourists around Mt. Denali for several years.

During her 10 years in Alaska she devoted herself to researching the thinking habits of history’s greatest geniuses, from Leonardo DaVinci to Tesla and Feynman. She also taught herself to paint at that time–something she didn’t learn while pursuing her Art’s degree. However, it’s Lyn’s ardor to awaken the creative genius in every individual, that burns most bright. Her personal genius is teaching and training, and has been doing so for over 30 years. Her repertoire includes teaching others to fly airplanes, how to draw and paint with excellence, dance, visual thinking, and how to access their personal genius. She ignites imaginations through creativity boot camps, art workshops and creative thinking schools for business and innovation.

An accomplished national award-winning artist, Lyn has earned a drapery of accolades including “Best of Show,” “People’s Choice,” “Private Collections,” and entry and other awards in the National Oil Painter’s of America Show (a prestigious event that admits only 160 out of 4,000 annual entries.) Her artwork has shown in galleries in Arizona, California, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Hawaii.

Trained as one of Les Brown’s Platinum speakers, she speaks with authenticity and joy. Lyn’s curriculum is used by multiple Universities and Schools for all their students. Lyn imbues the energy of her experience into painting and into hearts and minds through teaching at workshops, conferences, speaking engagements, and her upcoming book. An artist who inspires the best in her students, Lyn believes creativity and genius are every person’s birthright.

Lyn Lasneski, painter, speaker & author, will teach us:
How to See Like an Artist

Click HERE for more information on the 2014 Write to Inspire Christian Writers Conference.

Susy Flory is a New York Times bestselling writer. Find out more about Susy at www.susyflory.com.

Get in Line and Outline

Numbers and letters are an effective way to organize our thoughts. But when outlining, we have to remember that if we have a “1,” we must have a “2.” If we have an “A,” we must have a “B.” It’s basic third grade outlining.

For some of us, third grade was a while back. So here’s a reminder on proper outlining:

Unfortunately writers rely on software. When we type “A,” Microsoft Word automatically proceeds to create an outlining format for us. Helpful, right?

No! As smart as computers are, we still have to teach them what to do and when to do it. So here’s how to properly outline using Microsoft Word’s numbering button:

An even better option is to create “Styles” for outlining. That will ensure proper line and paragraph spacing in addition to proper numbering so you need not use tabs. But using “Styles” in Microsoft Word is a matter for another lesson.

This is not rocket science. But rocket scientists should definitely know these rules too, because points and sub-points are most critically used in non-fiction writing.

So rocket scientists beware: we writers are watching you! Red pen in hand.

Helpful websites:

Proper outlining format: http://www.lib.jjay.cuny.edu/research/outlining.html


Easy-to-follow tutorial about Microsoft’s numbering drop-down menu: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-QL9HFRl08

Carol Peterson writes to educate, entertain and inspire. She has four books for use in classrooms grades 4-7. Her With Faith Like Hers Bible study series looks at the lives of women recorded in Scripture to see what we can apply from their lives to ours.  Carol can be found at carolpetersonauthor.com




Edits are Murder

Since writers are notorious for giving others advice, I thought it would be fun to dig up some of the most recycled tidbits on writing and share my thoughts with you. Not because I’m an expert. Not at all, but well, I covered all that self-deprecating stuff in my first post.

Today, I have a piece of advice from an incredibly prolific author who’s given us a zillion one-liners to chew on. This is a personal favorite.

Stephen King just kind of says it, doesn’t he? He’s good at that. And he’d better be with all that editing-is-like-murder business. But, I absolutely agree with him. And the longer I write, the more I appreciate this point of view. In fact, it’s increasingly difficult for me to turn off my internal editor now and simply read a book. I’m always editing other authors. Something I’m sure they appreciate. It’s okay; I know they’re doing the same to my books.

The liberating, albeit terrifying, truth is this: it’s not only the writing of a story that makes your stuff uniquely you, it’s also the ruthlessness with which you edit.

You should be overjoyed by this fact. It means that if you’re true to yourself and true to the process, your story will be unlike anything anyone else is creating. I know the crushing pressure to churn things out quickly. The haunting terror that someone, somewhere has already thought of all your ideas and written all your stories. It’s not true. It can’t be. Your voice is distinct, but so is that internal editor of yours. Find freedom in that.

There are ways to lessen the pain of editing, but one more thought before we go there. That phrase Stephen King uses, bare essentials, is entirely subjective. There are books that meander more than others, stories that do not walk directly from A to B. There are authors who set out to lead you on a delicious, slowly unfolding stroll. I think of Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart trilogy and The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. In each of these books, there are scenes that could have been sacrificed for pacing. But during the editing process, the authors decided those words were essential. And, honestly, who are we to argue?

What I’m trying to say is that regardless of a story’s pace or word count, every good author cuts. They delete. They whip out their almighty hatchet and they swing it. A well-edited manuscript is not necessarily a manuscript void of description and full of short sentences. A well-edited manuscript is one that uses only the words necessary to tell the story trapped inside the author’s head. But necessary is entirely a matter of style and preference.

That said, most of us meander more than we should. We need to unshackle our inner editor. The good news is that once you get a taste for hacking up a manuscript, there’s something very addicting about the whole bloody thing.

But it can be painful. As the mother of two, I’m not convinced it approaches the despair of murdering children, but for the sentimental author, it can be a lot like shooting paintballs at puppies. And that is quite painful enough.

Here are a few ways to dull the pain:

1. Consciously celebrate this stage of the writing process. Treat yourself to a slice of cake and a balloon bouquet. You have drafted a novel. Being IN EDITS means you’ve accomplished something only a fraction of us ever will. YOU WROTE A BOOK! You now have the privilege of brandishing your shiny new machete and hacking it to bits. You’re in an enviable place. Let yourself appreciate that for a moment.

2. Stop monitoring your word count. You did that all the way through the drafting process. You posted it on Twitter and all your followers squeed! I’m glad. Truly. We need others on this solitary journey of ours. But, now, stop watching those numbers. They will fall. You will lose a few brave soldiers, but this is war. Keep your head down and your eyes on your own work. It doesn’t matter that Suzy Floozy just tweeted out her impossible word count. What matters is that you’re past that now. You’ve been promoted. YOU GET TO EDIT!

3. Keep what you cut. Not everything. Not the four billion adverbs you used. Strike those down and move on. But if you’re cutting the bulk of a chapter, keep it. When I’m editing, I have two Word documents open. One is my manuscript and the other is called CUTS. Whenever I decide to scrap a large portion of text, I cut and paste it into this other document. There are three reasons I do this. One, like you, I can get attached to my darlings and I don’t like to vanish them entirely. Even if I don’t use the actual words, I may need to reference them again. It’s good to keep them close at hand. The second reason is vanity. I like to see how glorious a word slasher I’ve been. For example, my current manuscript has about 80k words that I’m almost certain I’ll keep. But, on my CUTS document, there are over 15k words. I wrote those words. They cost me time and energy and they moved my writing forward. They taught me what WON’T work and that’s just as important as what will. And finally, I save what I cut because some of it may work as an ‘Extra’ later. Once my book is published (optimism, people!), I’ll have pages of deleted scenes that I can share with readers during the marketing effort. This saves me from having to generate new material down the road.

So those are my thoughts on Stephen King’s advice. What are yours? How do you dull the pain of cutting the excess fat?

Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes Trilogy. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and a focus on youth and young adult ministry. When she isn’t writing, she spends her days with her husband, Matt, imagining things unseen and chasing their two children around their home in Northern California.

ANGEL EYES was Shannon’s debut novel and the launch of a young adult supernatural trilogy. It was published in the summer of 2012 by Thomas Nelson. The sequel BROKEN WINGS hit shelves in February, 2013 and the final novel in the trilogy, DARK HALO, was available August 20, 2013. Shannon is currently at work on a new YA novel.

Shannon is represented by Holly Root of the Waxman Leavell Literary Agency and is an active member of Inspire Christian Writers of Sacramento.

2014 Write to Inspire Conference: Manuel Luz Interview

We had the privilege of speaking to Manuel Luz,  Creative Arts Pastor and Author of Imagine That: Discovering Your Unique Role as a Christian Artist. Manuel has a heart for Christian artists who have allowed daily life to detach them from their creativity. He hopes to reignite their destiny by reconnecting them to their original creative design. In this video interview Manuel discusses:

  • How he went from Rocket Scientist to Creative Arts Pastor.
  • What is Meta-Narrative and how does it look like in the life of a Christian artist.
  • How to know if the act of living has killed the artist inside of you.
  • How to balance the art of human expression that is attached to our carnal nature. 
  • How spiritual disciplines can assist our journey as a Christian artist.
  • Encouragement on how conferences like the 2014 Write to Inspire can be instrumental in our journey’s as writers. 

Manuel will be sharing The Meta-Narrative: Telling Your Story in God’s Story at the 2014 Write to Inspire Conference.

Manuel Luz has a BS in Aeronautical Engineering and an MBA in Management, which makes him perfectly qualified to be a Creative Arts Pastor.  Truth be told, he became a rocket engineer to finance his self-described “rock star dream,” one which was interrupted when God got a hold of him.  He eventually became a pastor leading a worship community and a community of artists, and has been in full-time ministry for the past 21 years. He readily admits, “It’s not rocket science.”

Manuel has served at Oak Hills Church in Folsom, California for 21 years.  He is passionate about worship, coffee, the Oakland Raiders, and the intersections of faith and the arts.  A songwriter, author, speaker, and creative arts pastor, Manuel’s first published book, Imagine That: Discovering Your Unique Role as a Christian Artist (Moody Publishers) is a practical and personal theology of the arts. Check out his thought-provoking blog, “Adventures in Faith and Art” at www.ManuelLuz.com, or his four solo albums (iTunes or CDBaby).

Rebecca is a wife and mother of two children. She started writing at a young age and has always been interested in the faith based arts. She self-published her book of poetry The Genesis Journey – A Creative Collection in 2008 and wrote/directed A Bit of Forever  that was an official selection of the 2013 Life Film Festival in Hollywood, CA.

Author Interview: Kathi Macias

A writer’s world, which can often feel isolating and lonely, is enriched by fellowship. Some authors, like Kathi Macias, have learned to appreciate writing communities as more than sources of encouragement through their work in compilations and anthologies.

Kathi Macias currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Acquisitions for Elk Lake Publishing. She is celebrating the release of her latest compilation, The 12 Days of Christmas, a “unique Christmas collection” that includes “historical, contemporary, romantic, mysterious, and even Amish tales.”


Thank you for joining us as we celebrate the release of your newest compilation, The 12 Days of Christmas, Kathi. 

Thank you so much, Xochi. I appreciate the chance to share with Inspire readers.

What first piqued your interest in organizing compilations? 

Actually my very first published book—A Moment A Day—was a compilation of devotionals written by women from all around the country and from all walks of life. That was back in 1988, and it turned out to be a bestseller for my publisher, Regal Books. I’ve done a handful of compilations with various publishers since then, but none to equal the popularity of that one.

Why do you think writers can benefit from participating in compilations or anthologies?

It’s a wonderful foot-in-the-door for new or relatively new writers to help build their resumes and to make connections with other writers, as well as publishers and agents. That’s why I so appreciate the way Helping Hands Press extends that “helping hand” to new writers trying to establish/build a platform.

What are the challenges writers could face when participating in such projects?

New writers may struggle a bit with meeting deadlines and understanding the nuances of submitting for publication, but what better way to learn than in the safe, accepted environment of being part of a team?

I’ve been part of compilations—both stories within a book and books within a series—where all the authors had to work together to share settings and even some characters, so that was a bit more of a challenge, but a fun one that helps establish camaraderie.

What can writers do to find submission opportunities if they are interested in contributing to compilations or anthologies?

That’s a great question, and I don’t know of any one place. However, being active on writers loops (and there are many of them!) and/or Facebook writers’ pages is a great start. Let it be known that you’re interested in doing something like that, and watch posts for opportunities. Often, when some of us receive invitations to write for compilations and can’t accept for some reason, we often turn around and pass on the information to people we think might want to do it. Networking is the key. Stay in touch with other writers, and keep your ear to the ground. Something will come along.

Please share your top tip on writing for a compilation like The 12 Days of Christmas.

Though a compilation work like this offers opportunities to new writers, those of us putting the compilations together would like to receive as clean and well-written stories as possible. If you haven’t written fiction before and/or haven’t studied how to do it, please say so before accepting the assignment. Compilers are usually willing to polish a bit if needed, but we seldom have time to rewrite. Whether tackling a short story or a full-length novel, respect the type of work you’re doing and turn in your very best. It will no doubt make a difference when it comes to future assignments.

What is the most valuable lesson God has taught you through the process of working with multiple authors on these projects?

Different people have different personalities, and nearly all have busy schedules. When I set up writing schedules, I try to allow for a little flexibility because life happens, and we need to learn to roll with it. At the same time, professionals don’t take advantage of that. Meeting deadlines is vital to developing a successful writing career, so I stress that with those who come onboard with me. I also make a point to immediately connect all the writers on a project via an email loop so they can begin to talk back and forth and develop relationships, as well as pray for one another and for the project as a whole. It’s been a blessing to watch friendships blossom as a result.

What final word of encouragement would you like to share with writers who are interested in submitting their work to be considered for publication in a compilation or an anthology?

Don’t give up! Though compilations and anthologies aren’t as popular as they once were, they certainly aren’t extinct. Watch who’s publishing them and try to connect with them in one way or another. Let it be known that you’re interested—and then continue to pray for God to open doors while you faithfully continue learning to polish your craft. The right door will open at just the right time.

Thank you Kathi for sharing your knowledge and for demonstrating how writers can serve together as part of the Body of Christ through these unique publications. 


You can connect with Kathi on her website, through her Facebook Author Page, and on Twitter.

You can also purchase copies of Kathi’s book 12 Days of Christmas in both Paperback and Kindle edition on Amazon.

To be entered to win a free copy of The 12 Days of Christmas, available in paperback on Amazon and on Kindle, please see the Rafflecopter Giveaway form below. On Friday, August 22, 2014, one winner will be selected to receive a free digital or paperback copy of The 12 Days of Christmas. If the winner is international, a digital copy will be awarded.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And don’t forget that Inspire Christian Writers publishes a yearly anthology, which includes work written by active Inspire members. Find out more here!


Xochi (so-she) E. Dixon lives in Northern California with her husband, Alan, their son, Xavier, and their doggy-daughter, Jazzy. She encourages and equips women to embrace a lifelong commitment to spiritual growth. Her work has been published in The Upper RoomENCOUNTER—The MagazineDevo‘ZineInspire Victory, and at www.xedixon.com.

Dana Sudboro: Excellence in Editing

Inspire Christian Writers member Dana Sudboro joined the group in 2007 and fondly remembers the days when all of Inspire was one tiny group, moderated by Elizabeth Thompson, meeting at Warehouse Ministries in Rancho Cordova. Since then, he’s gone on to moderate the critique group that meets at Harvest Church in Roseville and to step in to serve as one of the editors of Inspire Anthologies.

Let’s take a few moments to learn more about him.


Your work as an editor for Inspire Press and of the Inspire anthologies has given many authors a voice. What do you find most rewarding about that process?

“Critique groups equip writers. Anthologies showcase their work. I love being involved in both, to learn from and encourage my fellow writers.”

What would you encourage authors to remember when they submit their work for an Inspire Anthology? 

“Strive for perfection as you write, but once the imperfect result is submitted, don’t plague the editors with endless rewrites or, worse, treat their edits as tampering with sacred writ dictated from above.”

How does editing the work of others affect your own writing?

“lt blesses me with a wider view of the enterprise God has called us to and the variety of experiences and gifts He has given to fulfill it.”

Sudboro served as a Teen Challenge staffer, a pastor, and on the foreign mission field in Burkina Faso before “retiring” back to the States. He also teaches at Sacramento’s EPIC Bible College. Retirement doesn’t equate to indolence for the dynamic author.

How have your experiences as a missionary impacted your writing career?

“Cross-cultural adventures figure in each of my novels: a Muslim convert from Mauritania in Fatima’s Fate, missionaries to Japan and Mali in Continents Apart, French cooking and a visit to Montreal in Off the Menu, and a quest from Pacific paradise to Peruvian jungle in Exit Cyrus. “

When he returned from his overseas assignment, his daughter advised him to network if he wanted to write. An author herself, she encouraged him to attend conferences and join a critique group to hone his craft.

“It’s just amazing how much you learn, including online with the website, by looking at what other writers are writing about their craft,” Sudboro observes.

Your new release, Exit Cyrus, is now available. What inspired this story for you?

“Existential angst that plagued me from age six to sixteen, and re-emerged during my blue Beatnik period.”

He describes it as a novella dealing with a man facing an unexpected terminal diagnosis.

He describes his philosophy of writing as “Entertaining readers while sharing what’s deepest on my heart.” Sudboro describes romance as his favorite genre to read and therefore to write. His romances share a Christian perspective on a personal relationship which must be lived in a secular world.

His approach to marketing his book is a “soft sell.” He isn’t comfortable with big book release parties and a hard marketing program, which he tried with his full-length novel, Continents Apart. When he asked a friend to pray with him over the situation, he noted the friend addressed God as his agent.

“So I decided, that’s what I’ll do,” he says. He doesn’t consider himself a salesman, so he’s leaning on God’s direction in selling his latest offering. At $.99, the novella has an attractive price to match the beautiful cover art. The combination should prove a winning one.

What’s next on your writing agenda?

“I’m not sure whether my present project will be a keeper, not until the plot successfully works itself to some meaningful denouement. Meanwhile, I’m hoping to find the right destination for my full-length novel, Check or Mate.”

What do you want people to know about Dana Sudboro?

 “I’m looking for Jesus’ return and His restoration of the paradise that Adam and Eve lost.”

Mary Beth Magee has been a born-again Christian for more than 50 years. Her faith leads her to explore God’s world around her and write about it. She first saw her name in print as a juvenile book reviewer her hometown paper and hasn’t stopped writing since. Her checkered past includes stints as a telephone operator, substitute school teacher, cosmetic sales, home health aide, government contractor, kitchen help in a deli, real estate sales, office manager and corporate trainer. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, focusing on adult learning. Over the years, her writings covered news and feature articles for print and online publications, book and movie reviews, training materials, greeting cards, short fiction, poetry, and church bulletins. Most recently, her work has appeared in anthologies from Publishing Syndicate.