Thursday, May 31, 2012

Blogging Leftovers

Tonight at the Write-to-Publish Conference I facilitated a late night session for bloggers and prebloggers. There were about 40 who attended and some great information was shared by many of the conferees. I became so engrossed in the conversation that I forgot to take photos of the session, duh!

But, I brought treats to celebrate my blog's first anniversary and these were the leftovers, but hopefully many left with new insights to help them along their writing and blogging journey.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bloggers Unite

            Next week is the Write-to-PublishConference (May 30 - June 2) in Wheaton, Illinois. As many of you know and I have mentioned on this blog, I am on staff with WTP and I am gearing up to learn, encourage, laugh and cry with all the conferees.

            If you are attending, I am facilitating an late-night session on Thursday for bloggers, want-to-be bloggers, was-at-one-time bloggers, etc., etc. We are getting together to meet, encourage and learn from each other. Bring your questions, and if you attend my “Getting the Most from the Conference,” on Wednesday morning, you will be reminded that there are no “stupid questions.”

            Looking forward to seeing all of you next week! If you can't attend Write-to-Publish, choose a writer's conference near you and be encouraged as a writer.




Friday, May 18, 2012

How Blogging Has Made Me a Better Writer

     The winner of the book giveaway I held this past week is Michelle Welsh. She will receive a copy of Changing Zip Codes by Carol Stratton. Congrats.           

     I have been blogging for almost a year. I realized that some things I do as a blogger help me be a better writer. I have listed them below.  

1.     I write, rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite.

 Blogging has given me the opportunity to write. Just having a blog I have to write and hopefully have improved my writing.

2.     I set deadlines and stick with them.

I kept putting off starting a blog, saying I would begin before I went to a particular conference or before the end of the year, etc. But, I also told myself that when I started blogging, I would blog. I wouldn’t be sporadic, but consistent. So, far, I have been able to meet those deadlines. As a writer I always need to deal with deadlines.

3.     I write whether I’m inspired or not.
My prime time to write is in the morning. Unfortunately, I have a part-time “day” job and I work in the mornings. So, I have learned to write in the afternoon (my worst time) and even evenings. Sometimes I would rather do ten other things, but I go to the computer and start writing something to blog or write.
4.     I have become acquainted with the technology of social marketing
Everyone, including the writer, needs to be familiar with technology. I dreaded the thought of having to deal with it and I still do for the most part. But, I have learned how to maneuver around social networking, and it amazes me that I am capable of making it work. This adds to my confidence and I find I am not so hesitant to try something new.
5.     I juggle multiple projects.

I post a blog every week. When I plan to interview someone or give away a book there is the advance work to do. There are also the blogs I read to see what other bloggers are doing, and the blogs about blogging that I read. When I have various writing projects at once, this juggling practice helps.

Has blogging helped your writing?


Friday, May 11, 2012

One Writer's Story

         This is Carol Stratton's story of growing as a writer. It is an excerpt from the book, Writing So Heaven Will Be Different, 35 Years of Encouraging Stories From The Write-to-Publish Conference.

         Through Carol's contact with an editor at the Write-to-Publish Conference, she published her first book, which I am giving away this week. It is a devotional book for those who have moved once or many times. Carol has moved twenty-two times! It is, Changing Zip Codes, Finding Community Wherever You're Transplanted.

          Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing.
         The deadline is midnight, Thursday, May 17.

From Doubt to Confidence
By Carol G. Stratton

     As I unpacked my suitcase at my first big writer’s conference, doubts dripped into my mind like syrup from a tipped-over bottle. What on earth am I doing here? I wondered. Don’t I have to have a book published or at least several articles to my name to call myself a writer?
      I thought of the woman I had passed in the hallway. She touted a one page crammed full of credits.  Other veterans rolled by me wheeling heavy suitcases of their books they planned to sell.

      Suppose someone might check my credentials? Keep a low profile, I told myself. I would have to maneuver through the week without anyone finding out I was a fraud. I just needed to get through the week without embarrassing myself.

     Showing up for classes, I fought my conflicting emotions. Maybe I didn’t fit here. But I had a desire to write. Where did that come from? Like a spring seedling begging for a shower, I eagerly soaked up information in the classes I took, wearing our three pens with all my notes.  Even if I wasn’t a real author, I was rubbing shoulders with those who were, and my fantasy world had kicked into gear.  A new world had opened its doors, as I peeked inside.

Realistic role models

      Many of the conference speakers were down-to-earth people. As they spoke, I discovered they didn’t inherit a writing mantle from a dramatic encounter with the Holy Spirit. Instead, through steady steps and lots of failures they found a ministry in writing.

     They worked hard and wrote honestly to influence their generation for good. It took hours and hours of butt-in-chair time. Nothing magical, just hard work. Less glamour,  more routine. Their satisfaction came through lives changed and people encouraged as a result of their words.

      James Scott Bell, the continuing-class teacher for fiction, mesmerized us with his passion for excellent storytelling. And Doc Hensley, in his keynote address, challenged us to be the armor bearer for God.

     This is good stuff, I thought. As I listened to seasoned writers and editors, God spoke to my spirit. He showed me how I could harness my stories and wry observations about the church to communicate truth to readers. 

Much to learn

     Continuing classes and electives made me realize how much I didn’t know. Unfamiliar writing terminology overwhelmed me, but kind souls around me filled in the “ignorance” cracks. I enjoyed meals with experienced writers, discovering they, too, had been neophytes only a few years before.

     Casual conversation with other women while brushing teeth in the communal bathroom and visits with other conferees standing in line for cafeteria-style dinners allowed me to hear the Holy Spirit working. 
     I marveled at God’s creativity to the varied ideas He gives writers. One Georgian woman, while relaying me the plot for her novel, mentioned how she’s learning to play poker so she can spend time with her nephews.  By sharing their interests, she had cracked open a window to change heaven. Hmm, I saw an article in that story.
     In a late-night critique session, a man who had struggled with stuttering read his poem about a stuttering young boy who saved the day at school.

     Hearing stories like these reminded me of Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” The more I heard about the types of things others were writing, the more I saw fresh story ideas unleashing in my own mind as my word-processor began calling to me from home.

     God fed my dream as the conference progressed. My “maybes” turned into a call. With every encouraging word I wrestled my vague dream into a concrete plan.

A changed woman

     Four days later, I boarded the train back to Michigan, a changed woman. As we pulled out of the station, I was oblivious to the stores and parks blurring past, outside the window. My heart remained in Wheaton, where God connected to me though a decades-old writers conference called Write to Publish.

     I didn’t sell anything.  Not one editor even asked me for my e-mail address. But I took away a more precious commodity—confidence. I knew God could use me as a writer. The self-doubts that trailed me to the conference melted like a double-scoop ice cream cone on a hot playground slide.

     I know God can use me to make a difference.

Carol G. Stratton (, has written several articles since her first Write-to-Publish experience, and speaks to women’s groups and writers’ groups. As a somewhat of a reluctant expert (twenty-two moves) on relocation, she has just published her first book, Changing Zip Codes: Finding Community Wherever You’re Transplanted, a forty-day devotional for those who move.  Her connection with a book editor came through WTP last June when she met the Acquisitions Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.  She currently lives in Mooresville, North Carolina with her husband.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Power of Words

     I was reminded today of the power of words. Words are the tools we use as writers to convey our message. We can use those tools to help or to harm.

     I heard journalist Nicholas Kristof speak (Half the Sky, Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide). He has reported on atrocities such as the abuse of women and young girls through sex trafficking and the genocide in Darfur. Having served as bureau chief for The New York Times in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Tokyo, he has earned two Pulitzer Prizes.

     Although the Pulitzers are great honors, his stories have made people aware of injustices around the world, and to inspire others to action.

     I thought about myself as a writer. I don’t travel around the world, or at least I haven’t had the opportunity yet, but I do try to use my words to make a positive impact. And, through social media, we never know when our message may be sent around the world.

     So, we need to be ready with our tools sharpened and ready to go.

How about you? Have you had opportunity to write something that had a positive impact?