So, You Think You Can Make Readers Laugh?

Interview with Author Erin Taylor Young

Erin Taylor Young and Henry - Author Photo - June 2015 Writing humor isn’t for cowards. Like comedians onstage at the Improv, humor writers don’t really know if their audience will laugh in all the right places, chuckle at just the right time, smile and nod in agreement, or scratch their heads in confusion.

Award winning author Erin Taylor Young tickles funny bones with ease as she shares her faith one giggle at a time. Her debut book, Surviving Henry, was chosen as the Nonfiction Book of the Month by the The Book Club Network’s Readers’ Choice Awards and is a finalist in the Published Memoir category in the 2015 Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Awards.

Please join me in welcoming Erin as she shares her insight on writing humor.

Xochi: Congratulations on the release of Surviving Henry, Erin. Please tell us how you came to write about your hilarious experiences with your adorable Boxer.

Erin:  Early in Henry’s ludicrous string of near-death fiascoes, I remember thinking: Oh. My. Gosh. People will never believe the stuff this dog does. I oughta be writing it down…

Like that would prove it really happened or something?

So I guess in part I just wanted to have a record of it. But I don’t think that alone would’ve been sufficient to make me torture myself at the keyboard day after day, trying to turn words into coherent sentences. I think it really boiled down to a nudge from God. He gave me the most ridiculous and difficult dog in maybe the whole wide world, and there came a point where I couldn’t not write about it.

And when readers tell me their trials and escapades, and how much the book helped them to know they’re not alone with their crazy—and sometimes very hard—pet struggles, well, then I’m really glad I wrote it all down.

Xochi: Have you always considered yourself a humor writer?

Erin: I never saw myself turning into a writer, let alone a humor writer. I wanted to be a composer, but God had other ideas. Which is good, because it turns out that I’m not a very talented musician.

What I do have is a life filled with “Oh, sure, it’s funny now” stories—the kind you wish happened to other people instead of you. Writing about them feels like a natural consequence, like I’m just playing the hand I’ve been dealt.

Xochi: How can writers determine if they have the knack for writing humor?

Erin: If people laugh at what you write, that’s a pretty good tip-off. And I mean laugh in a funny ha-ha way, not in a “bless your heart that’s terrible” way.

Xochi: What are the pros and cons of identifying yourself as a humor writer?

Erin Taylor Young - Surviving Henry Book Cover - June 2015

Surviving Henry: Adventures in Loving a Canine Catastrophe

Erin: You know, in the case of humor branding, I think it’s better to let that label happen naturally.

I can say anything I want about my writing, but it won’t mean much if readers, editors, and other industry professionals don’t agree.

I wrote a guest post for The Steve Laube Agency Blog about this very thing. And yes, it’s an “Oh sure, it’s funny now” story involving the first time I met Steve Laube and how I didn’t know I was a humor writer.

Xochi: What are your top tips for humor writers?

Erin:

1. Don’t let anyone change your voice. It’s the most important tool you have. That doesn’t mean you avoid being edited, it means you know yourself well enough to know when your voice is getting stripped away.

2. Find a critique partner who gets you and your humor, and who’s willing to always push you toward excellence.

3. Be natural, but deliberate. Pay attention to how humor works, and the beauty of the unexpected. Make every word and every punctuation mark work for its place.

Xochi: What pitfalls should aspiring humor writers avoid?

Erin: There will be people out there who just don’t get your humor. Be okay with that.

I don’t love every comic out there, or every humor writer—even some that other people laugh at like crazy. So it’s reasonable to expect some people won’t like me. It doesn’t mean I’m a lousy humor writer. Even the greatest baseball players never bat a thousand. Humor writers don’t either. Not with individual jokes, and not with their writing as a whole.

Work on pleasing the readers who get your humor, and don’t feel bad about those who don’t.

Xochi: What would you like to say to those brave souls who may be on the verge calling themselves humor writers?

Erin: If you’ve had multiple people (and not just your mom or your best friend) identify and confirm this gift in you, then go for it!

Be strong and courageous. You have a unique, fun, creative perspective on life, and it’s time to unleash it on the world!

Xochi: Thanks for inspiring us with your contagious joy and charming sense of humor, Erin.

Erin: Thanks for inviting me, Xochi!

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You can enjoy a faith-filled life with a laugh when you connect with Erin on Facebook, Twitter, on her website, or by subscribing to her blog.

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Are you a humorous writer? Join the conversation by leaving a comment or question below.

Xochi DixonWith a heart for loving God, loving people, and nurturing spiritual growth, Xochi (so-she) E. Dixon encourages and equips women to experience the fragrance of God’s presence through prayerful study and application of His Holy Word at www.xedixon.com.

 

 

The Art of Writing Romance Novels

An Interview with Author Keli Gwyn

Keli Gwyn Historical Author Photo June 2014A good love story keeps readers turning pages as they cheer for characters who struggle to overcome the obstacles that keep them apart. Yet not many writers realize the complexity of writing romance novels.

Award winning author Keli Gwyn delights readers with relatable characters, unexpected plot twists, surprising humor and tender love stories. Her debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, won first place in the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Awards.

Please welcome Keli Gwyn as she celebrates her latest release, a Love Inspired Historical title, Family of Her Dreams, and shares about the art of writing romance novels.

Xochi: Thank you for joining us, Keli. Congratulations on your newest release. Would you please tell us a little bit about the fun event you have planned to celebrate the launch of your first Love Inspired novel, Family of Her Dreams?

Keli: Thanks for inviting me, Xochi. It’s great to be here.

I’m exited about the event, which takes place this coming Sunday (details below). My Book Release Party is being held at the very railroad station in Shingle Springs where the (fictional) hero of my story, Spencer Abbott, is stationmaster. It’s where he meets Tess Grimsby, the headstrong woman who will become his housekeeper.

My guests will be able to purchase the book, enjoy refreshments and browse in the quaint Antique Depot shop operating in the historic building still standing today. In addition, the Western El Dorado Railroad will be offering rides that day for a nominal fee.

Xochi: Celebrating the novel release at the same train station your fictional characters meet sounds exciting. What role do setting and time period play in romance novels?

Keli: The setting, especially real ones like I use, can bring a historic location to life in readers’ minds. Through the descriptions sprinkled in a story, they can travel to a new place. Depending on the period the author has chosen, readers will experience what life was like at that particular time. For example, Shingle Springs is a sleepy small town these days, but in 1865 when Family of Her Dreams begins, it was home to one of the busiest rail depots in the state. Readers will see a bustling community that played an important role in California’s history.

Xochi: What are the most important elements of a good romance novel?

Keli: Creating likable characters readers want to spend time with is important in any story. In a romance we must go beyond that and show the deepening relationship between the hero and heroine. In inspirational romance, we focus primarily on the couple’s emotional journey rather than physical attraction. There are kisses, of course, and we inpsy authors learn how to get the most out of them. 😉

Xochi: What should writers be wary of when crafting their love stories?Keli Gwyn Book Cover - Family of Her Dreams  - June 2015

Keli: It’s important to remember that a romance is first and foremost about the relationship between the hero and heroine. Plot is important, but the focus needs to be on the couple and their journey to the Happy Ever After, which romance readers expect and eagerly await.

Xochi: Please share a few tips on developing the perfect couple for a romance novel.

Keli: Our heroes and heroines need to be strong characters. They’re bigger than life. Readers don’t want to read about ordinary people. They want stories about extraordinary people. It’s important to show attraction, but there can and should be sparks at times. Readers want to see how a couple handles the many obstacles we writers throw at them. In inspirational romances, readers want to see the role faith plays in the hero and heroine’s lives as well.

Xochi: What stereotypes should writers avoid?

Keli: Readers want characters with depth. Cowboys are a reader favorite in the Love Inspired Historical Line, but if a LIH author creates a cowboy hero, he has to have traits and characteristics that set him apart. If he acts and sounds like a stereotypical cowboy, he won’t endear himself to readers.

Although our heroines are strong women, they are unique. Each heroine has to become a real, distinct person in a reader’s mind. A heroine has to be someone the reader relates to, admires and might even want to be more like.

Xochi: What should writers keep in mind when plotting a romance novel?

Keli: Keeping the couple together is key. Most scenes should include the hero and heroine. Each scene should advance the story and not be episodic. The turning points and Black Moment should relate to the couple and their relationship. The external plot needs to be there, but the romance takes top billing.

Xochi: Would you please explain the concept of the Black Moment?

Keli: The Black Moment comes just before the end of a story. It’s that point in time when everything appears to be falling apart.

In a romance it takes place when the hero and heroine appear to have resolved all their issues. However, something comes along that makes it seemingly impossible for them to end up together. All is lost–or so they think.

In The Sound of Music Maria realizes she’s fallen for the Captain and returns to the abbey confused and conflicted. The Mother Abbess convinces Maria the only way to resolve things is to go back and face her fears–and the Captain. She does, arriving filled with hope of a future with the man she loves. But then comes the Black Moment: the Captain is already engaged. There’s no way Maria’s dream can come true. Of course, it does, but before it does the reader/viewer experiences the pain of dashed hopes along with Maria. The Black Moment makes the long-awaited Happy Ever After that much sweeter.

Xochi: What sets apart a romance novel from a novel that has romantic elements?

Keli: In a romance novel, the developing relationship is the primary focus of the story, taking precedence over the external plot. In a novel with strong romantic elements, the romance is there, but it is secondary. Think of The Sound of Music. If you removed the romance between Captain VonTrapp and Maria, the story wouldn’t be the gem it is. This classic movie has stood the test of time not because it’s a great WWII story, but because it’s a wonderfully satisfying romance.

Xochi: What advice would you give an aspiring romance novelist?

Keli: Read plenty of romances to see how other authors craft a story. Then sit down and have fun writing yours.

Let the words flow freely. Don’t expect your first romance to be a work of genius. Allow yourself time to learn and grow as a writer without putting undue pressure on yourself. Spend time studying craft. When others knowledgeable about the romance genre tell you you’re ready to put your work out there, begin querying.

Xochi: Thank you for joining us, Keli. I look forward to reading Family of Her Dreams.

Keli: Thank you so much for hosting me, Xochi, and for asking such insightful questions. You really made me think. :-)

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Visit Keli’s website to connect with her and purchase copies of her books. You can also find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Please join us to celebrate the release of Family of Her Dreams on Sunday, June 14, 2015 at the Antique Depot, 4241 Mother Lode Drive in Shingle Springs, California, from 11 am to 2:30 pm.

Call the Antique Depot at (530) 677-5542 with questions.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Xochi DixonWith a heart for loving God, loving people, and nurturing spiritual growth, Xochi (so-she) E. Dixon encourages and equips women to experience the fragrance of God’s presence through prayerful study and application of His Holy Word at www.xedixon.com.

 

 

Copyright © 2015 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Cover art and cover copy text used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited.
® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license

Everlene’s Sky

How A Letter to a Sailor Ignited a Lifelong Friendship and a New Book

While serving in the Navy, aboard an aircraft carrrier in the Persian Gulf, Michael Russo received a letter from a stranger. That letter was the beginning of a lifelong friendship and the catalyst for his debut novel, Everlene’s Sky.

 

I interviewed Michael about his friendship with Everlene and the book he just launched, a novelization of her life story.

Here are some of the questions I posed to Michael:

  • Tell me about the first time Everlene made contact with you.
  • What propelled you to write back to her?
  • How did her correspondence impact you.
  • At what point did you start thinking, “Hey, this would make a great book”?
  • And when did you start writing it?
  • Prior to this, had you written for publication?
  • Describe your writing process.
  • How involved was Everlene in the process?
  • The title, Everlene’s Sky, comes from a quote from Everlene. Can you share that quote and why you used it for your book title?
  • Describe your publishing process.
  • How has the book been received so far?
  • What are you doing to help promote Everlene’s Sky?
  • What would you say to someone who’s in that place where you were–they have an interesting book idea and are at the beginning of the writing and publishing process. What have you learned that you can pass along?

Be sure to watch the 700 Club segment about Everlene Brewer and her unique ministry to U.S. service men and women.

You can connect with Michael Russo via Facebook or Twitter.

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Have you had an encounter with a stranger that became a subject of your writing? Tell us about it.

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beth_thompsonElizabeth M Thompson loves stories–fiction and nonfiction alike. Mostly, she loves God’s story and seeks to share with readers how they fit into it. When she’s not reading, writing, or serving the Inspire writers, she can be found along the American River, pedaling her bike, paddling a kayak or walking hand-in-hand with her husband Mike. Connect with Elizabeth on her blog, Facebook or Twitter. She loves to connect with other writers!

Self-Publish Like a Pro with Lara Van Hulzen

Most of us want to write books that makes a positive impression on our readers–maybe even a life-changing impression. In order to accomplish that, we need to ensure the books we write are published professionally, whether we publish through a traditional publisher or choose to self-publish. If you’ve ever considered self-publishing, you’ll want to learn how to self-publish like a pro.

I’m impressed with the way Inspire writer Lara Van Hulzen approaches self-publishing. Her books look and read like they’re traditionally published. So, I interviewed her about her self-publishing process to find out what she does. Here are the questions I asked her.

About Self-Publishing:

  • With so many publishing options, why did you choose the indie publishing route?
  • When did you decide to self-publish?
  • What was your first step?
  • Your book is very polished. Tell us about your editing process.
  • Did you do the formatting yourself or did you hire someone for that?
  • Your covers are gorgeous! How important is it to have a professionally-designed cover?
  • How did you find a great cover artist?
  • Your second book, Get to Me just released. What did you do differently with it?

About Marketing:

  • What steps are you taking to market your books? Are you working with a publicist or a launch team?
  • What have you learned about marketing since you started this publication journey?
  • You’ve received some great reviews on Amazon and other sites. What advice can you give writers seeking reviews of their self-published titles?
  • What has surprised you the most so far in your publishing journey?
  • Any last words of advice for writers who plan to self-publish?

RememberMegettome3If you’re in the Greater Sacramento area, be sure to stop by Face in a Book in El Dorado Hills on Saturday, April 25 from 4-6pm for a book launch and signing party.

You can find Lara at LaraMVanHulzen.com and sign up for her newsletter.

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What questions do you have for Lara? Leave them in the comments for a chance to win a copy of either Remember Me or Get to Me. We’ll draw a winner on Friday, April 24th.

Sharing Your Painful Past with a Universal Audience

Many people have experienced God’s power, mercy, and redeeming grace in amazing ways. The Lord transforms lives as His people courageously testify about the things He’s done in and through their circumstances.

Sometimes, our sharing is done in an intimate setting. Sometimes, writers pour out their hearts in a book.

JaneThe Lord prepared Jane S. Daly to write Because of Grace from the moment doctors diagnosed her son with cancer, through the grieving process following his death, and in the refuge of His peace from which she shares her journey with others.

Please join me in welcoming Jane as she reminds writers that, no matter how large the audience, a personal testimony is a gift that can be life-changing when placed into the hands of our Almighty God.

Xochi: Thank you for sharing your testimony in your debut book, Because of Grace. Please share the keys to making a personal story relevant to universal audience.

Jane: There’s a saying, “No tears from the writer, no tears from the reader.” Being vulnerable is the most important part of telling your story. People want to know how you dealt with the bad stuff, and receive encouragement from you. Otherwise, it’s just preaching.

Xochi: What was the most challenging part of writing your personal story in a way that would be relevant to a universal audience?

Jane: The most challenging part, period, was reliving all those emotions. Anger, grief, denial, bitterness. Everyone experiences pain, and exposing that pain is where others can relate to your story.

BecauseofGraceXochi: How did you determine if your testimony should be shared through an article or blog post, a series of articles or blog posts, or a nonfiction book?

Jane: I began blogging when Bobby was first diagnosed. I wrote a couple of articles which I submitted for publication. An editor suggested I write a book about my journey, so I pulled much of the content from my journal, blog, and articles.

Xochi: Why is it important for writers to be emotionally and spiritually ready to share their painful past in such a permanent public form?

Jane: We need to know that our fellow Christians don’t have it all together. So often we put on our Sunday faces, and never let people know the painful things we’re going through. It’s encouraging when we find out how God is helping others who are suffering, too. For instance, I was asked to write an article about a woman who was kidnapped and raped. She appeared very together at church, and no one would have ever known about her ordeal. Because she chose to reveal it, other women were emboldened to come forward and receive healing.

Xochi: How can a writer tell if they’re ready to publish their story for a universal audience?

Jane: Critique groups, such as Inspire Christian Writers offers, are invaluable. We write in a vacuum, so having others read our work helps keep things in perspective. They catch grammar problems, continuity, and universal appeal. I LOVE my critique group ladies.

Xochi: If a writer feels ready to share their testimony in a book, what can they do to be better prepared for the process?

Jane: Know that it won’t be easy. Be prepared for tears. Be prepared to want to abandon the project. Be prepared for God to bring things up that you didn’t realize you still needed to deal with.

Xochi: Please share a final word of encouragement for writers who think they might be ready to share their painful past with a universal audience.

Jane: If you think you’re ready to write your story, gather a couple of people around you and ask for their prayers. Ask them if you can rely on them for encouragement when you want to give up. I started a Facebook group called “Fire Pit People.” We share our ups and downs, frustrations and temptations. We support each other, and occasionally virtually slap each other upside the head.

Xochi: Thank you for inspiring us to write with courage and transparency, Jane.

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Celebrate the release of Because of Grace on Saturday, April 25th from 1-4pm at the Edgwood Clubhouse, 5700 Spyglass Lane, Citrus Heights. Come and get your signed copy, visit with the author and enjoy refreshments!

To connect with Jane, please visit her website, subscribe to her blog, or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. Please also take a moment to pray readers will experience hope and healing, like Jane, Because of Grace.

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Xochi DixonWith a heart for loving God, loving people, and nurturing spiritual growth, Xochi (so-she) E. Dixon encourages and equips women to experience the fragrance of God’s presence through prayerful study and application of His Holy Word at www.xedixon.com.

 

The Benefits of Writing with a Focus Group: An Author Interview with Joanne Kraft

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Eccl. 4:9-10).

 

Joanne Kraft Author PhotoWriters who work the majority of their time in isolation can understand the value of community and relate to King Solomon’s words.

When writing a book, authors usually present their own ideas and support their information with Scripture and quotes from other books. However, some writers, like Joanne Kraft, have discovered the benefits of focus groups made up of people who fit their target audience.

Please help me welcome Joanne, as she celebrates the launch of The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids.

Xochi: Congratulations on your newest release, Joanne. Please tell us a little bit about The Mean Moms Guide.

Joanne:  Thanks so much for having me! The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids is my newest nonfiction parenting book. It encourages marshmallow moms (softies) to stay the course and keep loving boundaries—especially when parenting is hard.

 

Xochi: What are the benefits of working with the focus group as you write a nonfiction book?

Joanne:  When I signed my contract for The Mean Mom’s Guide I knew I’d need help. With a title like “mean mom”, well, I wanted to have a lot of support from other moms. I used my social media to ask women if they’d be interested in joining “The Mean Mom Team.” I wanted to gather moms and hear what they had to say about things like technology, entitlement and how to maneuver sibling rivalry.

 

Xochi: What are the greatest challenges in working with focus groups?

Joanne: For me, the toughest part was older moms weren’t as well represented as the younger moms in my focus group. Since I drew my focus group from social media, the older generation of moms (moms of adult kids) weren’t as interested in a parenting book as younger moms were.

 

Final Cover The Mean Moms Guider_editedXochi: Please describe the process required by publishers when using focus groups.

Joanne: Each publishing house is different. You’d have to contact your editor and see what they say, or refer back to your contract for that information.

 

Xochi: What, if anything, are authors expected to do for the members of their focus groups?

Joanne: The number one thing? Communicate. I made sure these moms knew the private group they were joining was for The Mean Mom’s Guide. They knew when I asked questions that their answers were part of my research and anything they shared might be used in my book. I made that clear. When my galley copies arrived I went back to my focus group numerous times and shared each mom’s quotes and let them know which chapters they’d be in.

 

Xochi: Why should nonfiction writers consider working with focus groups?

Joanne: I never thought I must have a “focus group.” It was an organic process the Lord made into something better than I’d ever imagined. These women have encouraged me so much this year. I pray for these women and want their faith to grow deeper, just as I would if I was facilitating a ministry face-to-face in church.

 

Xochi: In what ways did having a focus group benefit your writing process?

Joanne: The better you know your target audience the better chance at providing a solid manuscript/written resource. If you struggle to know who your audience is or what they’re all about, then a focus group for your next project might be a great benefit.

 

Xochi: What happens to the group after you complete your manuscript?

Joanne: The Mean Mom Team became so engaged with one another over the past year that when my book came out it was natural to offer them the chance to be a part of my book launch team. I’m using my same group space on Facebook to run my book launch.

We’ve been together for over a year now. They’re helping me get the word out about my book through social media. I’m also reading through the book with them. On Saturdays we have “Prayer & Praise” where we pray for one another and rejoice in the blessings they’ve experienced, too.

When the launch is over I’ll go back to using it for ministry with these women.

 

Xochi: Are there any circumstances where focus groups would not be helpful?

Joanne: If you’re a writer who struggles with criticism a focus group may not be for you. When you open the door wide for lots of people (who aren’t writers) to tell you what they think, a focus group may not be a good choice.

 

Xochi: Please offer our nonfiction writers a final word of encouragement.

Joanne: Inspire Christian Writers was one of my very first steps toward publication. The value of being around writers weekly is immeasurable. If you’re in an Inspire group—keep going. If you’re not in a group yet—find one. If you’re frustrated over edits—keep writing. If you’re discouraged about rejections—ask Inspire friends for prayer. Whatever you do, don’t give up. If God can use me He can use anyone.

 

Xochi: Thank you for joining us, Joanne. I’m looking forward to buying The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids as a gift for all the moms I love.

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To connect with Joanne, please visit her website, “like” her Facebook Author Page, follow her on Twitter, and subscribe to her blog. And when you’re buying your copy of The Mean Moms Guide, please don’t forget to buy a copy for another mom who needs encouragement through biblical wisdom presented with delightful humor.

Would you like to read an excerpt of The Mean Mom’s Guide? Sign up for Joanne’s monthly Newsletter and she’ll provide an excerpt!

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Xochi DixonWith a heart for loving God, loving people, and nurturing spiritual growth, Xochi (so-she) E. Dixon encourages and equips women to experience the fragrance of God’s presence through prayerful study and application of His Holy Word at www.xedixon.com.

 

Joanne Kraft Launches The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids

Today is launch day for Joanne Kraft’s second book, The Mean Mom’s Guide to Raising Great Kids. We had loads of fun talking about the book and her writing passion. Here’s the interview of our time together.

 

Elizabeth M. Thompson writes from her experiences as a Bible teacher, wife, mother and grief navigator. She enjoys speaking at writer’s conferences and women’s ministry events. Elizabeth serves on the Inspire Christian Writers Board. Her publication credits include articles published by Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian, and contributions to several compilations.

 

How to Blog Your Way to a Book Deal: An Interview with Allison K. Flexer

Anyone can start a blog, especially in this age of easily accessible technology and do-it-yourself websites. However, developing a marketable book idea that meets the needs of a specific target audience, crafting a publishable manuscript, and establishing a platform through blogging are much more complex and challenging processes.


Allison K. Flexer
 is an author, speaker, and blogger who is passionate about communicating the love of God to others.

She started blogging in 2008. In her debut book, Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman (Beacon Hill Press), Allison tells the story of her single journey and gives practical steps for letting go of the lies that destroy the joy and confidence of unmarried women.

A contributing writer for Devotional Ventures (Regal Books, 2006) and Fulfilled: The NIV Devotional Bible for the Single Woman (Zondervan, 2014), Allison joins Inspire Christian Writers to share how blogging led to her first book deal.

Allison, how did the blogging process prepare you for publication in online magazines, periodicals, and other book projects?

My writing skills improved as I blogged regularly. I’m not sure I realized it at the time, but the discipline of blogging taught me so much about the craft of writing.

Blogging opened a lot of doors for me. I met other writers/bloggers online who encouraged me to attend writers’ conferences. At those conferences, I met editors looking for submissions for smaller projects (devotions, take home papers, online articles, etc.) Anytime you can make a connection with an editor, submit according to guidelines, and receive an acceptance and publication of something you’ve written, it’s a huge confidence builder.

How did blogging contribute to the completion of your debut book?

Blogging taught me to organize my thoughts and follow through on ideas that came to mind. A blog is a great repository and online journal. Many times, while working on my book manuscript or writing for a compilation, I would go back to previous blog posts and use them as a launching pad for writing a devotional piece or chapter. All of my work was there for me to easily access (versus combing through written journals). I would have forgotten many of those stories, but blogging preserved them. It was amazing how many of the topics fit seamlessly into my manuscript.

How has blogging helped you interact with readers and grow your audience?

By looking at the popularity of posts, you learn what works for your readers and what doesn’t. My most popular blog post was a letter I wrote to my newborn niece the week she was born. You wouldn’t believe how many people Google “Letter to my Niece.” For a long time, my post was in the top three results on Google for that search term. Although that topic didn’t fit with my book project, thousands of people ended up reading a letter that contained Scripture and Truth from God’s word. We never know the reach our words may have.

As writers with a Christian worldview, we don’t ultimately do this for the money or the publishing credits. When we hear from a reader who was touched by our words, we know we’re on the right path.

Please share your top tips for successful blogging.

Pick a general theme for your blog and establish your brand. Decide who you want your audience to be. For example, I started my blog with a general theme of seeking God’s grace in everyday moments. My goal was to write inspirational or devotional material to help people see God in their daily lives. That doesn’t mean I can’t post a recipe or a book review occasionally, but it’s important to stick to a main theme and brand. Also, I recommend always including an image with every post (and ensuring you have the rights to that image). I use the website PicMonkey.com to edit my own photos and add text.

How have you increased traffic to your blog and nurtured interaction with your readers?

I regularly visit other blogs and comment on them. I ensure my blog’s web address is linked with my comment. I see a lot of visitors to my blog that originate from those comments I left on other blogs. Giveaways are another great way to increase traffic and get your readers to leave comments. If you read a great book that your blog readers would enjoy, consider reviewing the book and giving away your copy. Finally, Twitter has been instrumental in growing my audience. I find other ministries similar to mine and engage with their followers. Often, they will follow back and check out my blog, which is linked to my Twitter account. I find Twitter to be much more effective than Facebook for growing blog readership these days.

What final word of encouragement do you have for writers who are struggling with creating and maintaining a successful blog?

Look for inspiration in your daily life. Blog about something you’re currently struggling with. Readers aren’t necessarily looking for someone who has all the answers. They are looking for someone relatable. Be genuine and readers will be drawn to you.

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Inspire Blog Readers, please join the conversation.

You can encourage Allison by signing up for her blog, following her on Twitter, and liking her Facebook Author page.

 

It’s your turn: What is your greatest challenge regarding your blog?

What have you done to make your blog a positive experience for you and your readers?  

Xochi (so-she) E. Dixon is a writer, speaker and Bible teacher. She encourages and equips women to embrace a lifelong commitment to total surrender and trust God through all circumstances. Her work has been published in The Upper Room, ENCOUNTER—The Magazine, Devo‘Zine, Inspire Victory, and at www.xedixon.com.

Kingdom News Interview

Inspire Christian Writer’s leader, Beth Thompson was recently interviewed by Kingdom News’ Tony Bosserman on KFIA about Inspire and our 2014 Write to Inspire Conference, The Art of Writing. Below is a snippet of that interview along with the spot currently running on KFIA and 103.9 The Fish.

Please share with anyone you think would be interested in learning more about this event.

 

 

2014 Write to Inspire Conference: Steve Scott Interview

The 2014 Write to Inspire Conference is just days away and I’m excited about the five wonderful speakers who will teach at this year’s event. You’ve met Bill MyersManuel Luz and Lyn Lasneski through their interviews. Today, I’m introducing you to Steve Scott. Steve is an author, speaker and mixed media artist. He was instrumental in the founding of Inspire Christian Writers. I hope to share that story with you at the conference. For today, I’ll let you get to know him through the interview below. Here are some of the questions I asked. Watch the video to hear what he had to say in response:

  • What is C.A.N.A. (Christian Artists Networking Association) and how did you get involved in it?
  • In your topic for the conference you include the term Post-Secularism. Can you please define this term? What does it mean for today’s writers?
  • You plan to encourage writers to unplug and connect. What should we unplug from and connect to?
  • You’re using the Gospel of John in your teaching. Can you give us a little taste of what we’ll be learning?
  • What impact will your teaching have on the writers who attend the conference? What will be their take-away?  

Registration is now open. Click for more details or to secure your place at the 2014 Write to Inspire Conference.