Monday, May 1, 2017

Write-to-Publish Faculty Interview: Joyce K. Ellis, Continuing Class Instructor and Prayer Connect Rep

Give a description of your continuing class, “Writing with Excellence.”

In more than 45 years of writing, editing, and teaching writing, I’ve had the opportunity of reviewing many manuscripts. I’ve given so many critiques at conferences, mentored hundreds of writing students, and edited so many articles and books for publication, and I’ve seen a number of areas that can hinder our communicating clearly to the target audience we want to reach—if we’ve even considered who our audience is. So in this continuing class, we’re going to use illustrations from actual manuscripts, in many cases and look at ways to strengthen our writing on many levels—from basic structure “traps” to the nitty gritty of using strong verbs, proper grammar, and effective punctuation. We always want to communicate more clearly, which often, in turn, helps us find editors willing to publish our work and readers willing to read it.

Is this class for all writing levels?

Definitely. Newer writers can quickly learn some essential basic skills, and more experienced writers can gain fresh insights into effectively touch the heads and hearts of their readers. I presented some of this material to a convention of editors recently, and they expressed their appreciation for clarifying many issues for them. And I love to present what can often be frustrating—or just plain boring—material in a humorous way.

Anything you would like to add?

I’ve drawn a lot of the material in these classes from the humorous grammar column called “Your Writing GPS (Grammar, Punctuation, and Style), which I wrote for five years in the Christian Communicator magazine. We’ve now compiled those columns into a book, just released, called Write with Excellence 201: a lighthearted approach to the serious matter of writing well—for Christian authors, editors, and students. Yeah, I know. It’s a long subtitle, but we want to clarify what the book is all about. And the book has some great added features that can help conferees further develop their skills, building on what they learn at the conference. Our ultimate goal is to write our best for the Master to bring Him glory. That’s what I’m praying the participants will take away from these classes.

Tell us about Prayer Connect and what you are looking for?

Prayer Connect seeks to encourage people involved in personal and organized prayer ministries—within the local church and the body of Christ at large. The “connect” part of the magazine is our coverage of news of significant prayer events and announcements of upcoming prayer gatherings. But we also publish a few personal articles about specific, fresh, significant things a person has learned about prayer. These are the kinds of articles I’m looking for while here at the conference. But the articles need to be very targeted and have strong takeaway value. Writers for Prayer Connect also need to remember that most of our readers generally have a strong biblical background and are involved in prayer ministries of some kind. I welcome the opportunity to speak to anyone who has an idea for an article they think might work for us—to help them tweak it for our audience.  

I will also be happy to talk to anyone who has general writing questions. I’ve published both fiction and nonfiction for all ages, and I’ve served as both a staff editor and freelance editor at various points in my career. I love helping newbies.

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