Saturday, October 29, 2011

1st Mentions...

1st Mentions . . .

Our Favorite Blog Posts of the Week!

Dawn's Favorite: Granola Bar Devotionals
For a quick spiritual snack, check this site out!

Pam's Favorite: At 1st Writes this week we talked about submitting stories for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books. Anyone interested in writing for one of these books can visit their website at On the links at the left click on Submit Your Story. In the drop-down menu you will find Story Guidelines, Possible Book Topics, and the Submit Your Story submission form. Chicken Soup for the Soul credits their success to writers like you and me, who contribute wonderful stories of "inspiration, hope, overcoming life's challenges and realized dreams."

Brianna's Favorite: This week my favorite blog post comes from Tasha Seegmiller: Killer Characters: Better to Reign than Serve.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Writing Devotions

Right now I'm working on a devotion. In case any of you are interested in learning to write a devotion, here are the basic parts.

  • Title
  • Scripture that relates
  • Body of Devotion: Personal reflection on God/scripture/prayer. Share an experience or moment that drew you closer to God.
  • Prayer that relates
  • Thought for the Day

Each publisher will have their own specific guidelines (word count, format, etc.), but this gives you a quick look at the basics.

One publisher of devotions is Upper Room. These devotions are just 250 words each. Check out Upper Room Sample (devotions start on page 8-9) and Upper Room Writer Guidelines.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Characteristics of Creative Non-Fiction (CNF)


I write mostly creative non-fiction. So I was excited to learn that at the 2011 Susquehanna Valley Writers Workshop, Patti Souder would be teaching on Creative Non-Fiction. CNF is a relatively new genre of writing that uses literary styles and techniques to create factually accurate narratives. Here are some of the characteristics of CNF that Patty shared. 
  • CNF is a true story, well told.
    • Although it expresses opinions, perspective and feelings through the author’s views of life, it must be anchored in real experience
    • May require research to verify facts and give accurate pictures
  • Literary Elements of Fiction Used in CNF
    • Theme: A central idea is woven throughout the work and reveals a universal truth.
    • Point of View: Personal presence is a hallmark of CNF and usually requires 1st person.
    • Setting: Time and place influences the action, character, or theme.
    • Characters: Well-chosen details bring the characters to life.
    • Plot: Conflict (struggle involving the protagonist and an opposing person or force) and the order in which things move or happen, combine to create plot.
    • Style: How the author says something—the choice of words and the use of language, sentence construction, and imagery—adds significance and impact to the writing.
  • Creative nonfiction contrasts with other nonfiction, such as technical writing or journalism. Forms within the CNF genre include:
    • personal essays
    • memoir
    • travel writing
    • food writing
    • biography
    • Chicken-Soup-for-the-Soul type stories
    • other hybridized essays
Pam Williams at 
©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Monday, October 24, 2011

See * Photo * Write

See*Photo*Write Every Monday!
An interesting, amusing, or startling photograph
has the power to spark creativity
and arouse the writer within.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

1st Mentions . . .

Our Favorite Blog Posts of the Week!

Dawn's Favorite: Clare B. Dunkle, Author, shares her insights about agents, about publishers, and about editors. (This is the author of The Sky Inside.)

Pam's Favorite: This week I happened upon Fred Warren's post at Speculative Faith entitled Call Writing. Fred’s words express my thoughts on the subject so well. I especially liked “. . . we have a duty to honor [God’s] guidance by pursuing it with all our heart and with as much excellence as we can muster, even if it’s writing silly little stories about spaceships, and fairies, and monsters.”

Brianna's Favorite: As I sat in bed nursing a cold, wishing for the energy to get up and accomplish anything, I happened to click on Encouraging Words for Writers. The very first post helped me to remember that sometimes priorities have to be adjusted when our health limits us: Priorities and Limitations.

Friday, October 21, 2011

What I learned from MG Books - #1

I'm reading MG books in the attempt to define what makes a good book. I'll share what I learn.
Book #1: The Sky Inside, a MG sci-fi mystery, by Clare B. Dunkle. 

Here's what I learned from this author/book.
  • Write simple, easy to understand chapters.
  • Don't get too technical even if it is sci-fi.
  • Adult characters, especially parents, should be believable.
Martin's parents were not played as dumb adults. They had believable interactions with each other and with the children. As the story progresses you see their short-falls and fears. They are portrayed as real people. 
  • Child characters and their actions should be believable. 
The main character, Martin, reminded me of a 13 year old boy I know, even down to some of his personality traits! He loves his old sneakers. He worries he is dying when he gets a terrible sunburn. He starts to figure out that something is terribly wrong in the suburb. He has compassion for younger kids.  
  • Insert key aspects that kids love.
Kids would love Alldog, the toy that acts like a real dog. It is a robot that can morph into any type of dog. Chip is his name and he is as loyal as any dog. Other fun kid interests: exploring the underground city, robots, video games, skipping school, and even the oven that is like a lottery, determining what you get to eat for dinner.
  • Have an over-arching theme or moral for the story.
This one was about lies. Every aspect of the suburb is built on lies. Martin sees how the lies have completely degraded society and his family.

If you'd like to know more about this book, here is a synopsis I wrote, as well as the actual back book jacket quote.

Synopsis: Martin, age 13 has a Wonder Baby sister, age 6, who is super smart. They live with their parents in the Sky Dome suburb and are told that outside the dome poisons will kill you. All the suburbs’ supplied come in off the train, called a packet, and are decontamized. Martin gets an Alldog toy for his birthday, but this robotic dog can do things others can’t, like deprogram unauthorized doors. The suburb inhabitants are constantly being watched. People disappear. Then, when a man comes and takes all the Wonder Babies away, Martin sets out to find them.

Back Cover: Quote from book – “The ads had started running on mid-morning television the summer after Martin’s fourth birthday. “Wonder babies are here!” they announced….Never had the arrival of the stork brought such excitement. Overflowing  with charm and intelligence, WonderBabies were like nothing the suburb had seen before. But that didn’t turn out to be a good thing.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

National Novel Writing Month

As some of you may or may not know, November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. If you haven't heard of NaNoWriMo before, here's what the website has to say:

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. This approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

I've officially joined as a last ditch attempt to kick start my novel writing. While I've been aware of NaNoWriMo for several years, I've always been afraid to take part since November is a busy month, but I need to do something drastic or I'm going to lose any momentum I have on my book.

Have you joined? Are you thinking about joining? Have you taken part in the past? If so, what's your experience been? Feel free to share the good, the bad and the ugly!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Drama Sketches

Do you love to share timeless truths in a memorable way? Can you write realistic dialogue that defines characters, advances plot and portrays common human experiences? When we use these God-given writing gifts to craft short, one-act theatrical pieces we can capture an audience and speak to hearts. But where do we find resources for creating such sketches?

Patti Souder, author of Each for the other...both for God : life sketches of Doug & Natalie Roe (Montrose Broadcasting Corp., 1978) and co-author with Jana Carman of People Like Us: Dialogues in Two Voices Featuring Men and Women of the Bible (Lillenas, 1997; drama) offered several sources during her talk at the Susquehanna Valley Writers Worship earlier this month. Her suggestions included these great ideas:

  • Contemporary characters
  • Historical figures
  • Historical values, blind spots or problems
  • Stories in the public domain
  • Stories from classics or the Internet that are not copyrighted
  • Copyrighted stories for which we have secured permission to adapt
  • Humorous or tear-jerking contemporary situations
  • Poetry
  • Scripture
  • Music
  • Artwork

Our goal as writers is to enable others to experience the great benefit we’ve found in knowing Christ and being guided by His Word. The psalmist said, “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (19:7). Sketches are one of the many ways to pass along God’s truth to people hungering for encouragement and help.

Blessings on your writing!
Pam Williams
©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Monday, October 17, 2011

See * Photo * Write

See*Photo*Write Every Monday!

An interesting, amusing, or startling photograph has the power to spark creativity and arouse the writer within.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

1st Mentions...

Our Favorite Blog Posts of the Week!

Dawn's Favorite:  The Writing Life Too

I'm reading a great book on Character Development right now called Bullies Bastards & Bitches: How to write the bad guys of fiction. I looked up the author, Jessica Page Morrell, and found her blog, which I am sharing today. Ms. Morrell posts several times a week on characters and writing. Hope you enjoy it! (Sorry if the book title offends you. It is a good book.)

Brianna's Favorite:

Pam's Favorite: Looking for free photos for your blog? Thanks to Lorelle Van Fossen, who has been collecting a variety of resources for free photographs to use on websites and blogs, the hunt is over! Check out her Free Photos for Your Blog page, and search no more.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Susquehanna Valley Writers Conference - Dawn Shares

Book by Jeanette Windle
Pam, Brianna, and I went to the Susquehanna Writers Conference last weekend. We decided to share some of the information we learned. I'll go first.

I attended two workshops presented by Jeanette Windle, a prolific writer and editor of political suspense novels. Below is a summary of the advice she gives to beginning novelists. The paragraph may not seem like much, but she says that most of the red-lining she does as an editor has to do with development.

1st Time Novel Writers need to take time and create plots, characters, and worlds that are well-thought out, believable and solid. Go back through and make sure that you don't have any loose ends, gaps, or extra unnecessary information. Also, keep the story moving by limiting the use of flashbacks. If you can, change a flashback into real-time action.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Time To Blog

During Brenda Hendrick's devotion on procrastination Saturday morning at The Susquehanna Valley Writer's Workshop, I remember thinking, she's speaking my exact thoughts! After the devotion, Dawn said to me, "I felt like she was talking directly to me."

Overcoming procrastination is a common complaint among writers. We are all looking for ways to be more productive. Brenda reminded us that it takes time to break the habit of procrastinating and even when we think we are doing better, we probably aren't doing as well as we think.

So how do we stop procrastinating?

Make priorities.
Know your goals.
Stay focused on the task at hand.

And remember there is a time for everything as God told us in Ecclesiastes 3:1: There is a time for everything and a season for every activity (NIV).

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Writers' Resources: Polishing the PUGS: Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling

At the Susquehanna Valley Writers’ Workshop I attended this past weekend, two of the workshop leaders recommended a style guide by freelance editor Kathy Ide entitled, Polishing the PUGS: Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling. Ide highlights the most common mistakes writers make, pulling out the guidelines from several hefty writers’ tomes.

With punctuation rules from The Chicago Manual of Style (the industry-standard reference for books) and The Associated Press Stylebook (for newspaper articles), spelling and usage from the dictionaries recommended by both style guides, plus grammar tips from A Dictionary of Modern American Usage and The Wordwatcher’s Guide to Good Grammar & Word Usage, this book has it all, including guidelines from The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style, for those of us who write for the inspirational market.
It’s a book worth checking out—and the name is just so cute!

Pam Williams

©Pamela D. Williams

Monday, October 10, 2011


See*Photo*Write Every Monday!

An interesting, amusing, or startling photograph has the power to spark creativity and arouse the writer within.

Original Photo Credit: M. Eric Honeycutt

Saturday, October 8, 2011

What is a Writing Ministry - Interview with Dawn

Take a wild ride over at Christine Tyler's The Writer Coaster:

Interview with Dawn Hamsher

1st Mentions...

Our Favorite Blog Posts of the Week!

Dawn's Favorite: Ladies Who Critique
Want to find a critique partner or a beta reader? Check out this free site!

Brianna's Favorite: Faded Family Photos by Jade @ Blush of Dawn. Jade's poetry is a true pleasure to read!

Pam's Favorite: Do you love writing about animals? Susan Sundwall's article "Write About Fido and Fifi--It Sells!" posted at WritersWeekly can help you turn that love into fodder for your eager pen (and maybe even a few bucks.)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Writing Tip

Today's post is short and sweet, but one we need to follow.

Write every day!

Yep, that's it. If you are working on a book (and you know who you are) or a story or a memoir, then you need to write a little on it every day. When you skip a day, it takes you twice as long to get back your train of thought. So, make your writing easier, write each day.

My goal is to write a paragraph every day. What's yours?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Clay Pot

Yet we who have this spiritual treasure are like common clay pots, in order to show that the supreme power belongs to God, not to us. (2 Corinthians 4:8-13 GNT)

Most of my insecurities as a writer stem from feeling ordinary. I don't think of myself as someone special and therefore, my writing can't be anything exceptional.

It's hard to make writing a priority with little confidence in the ability to write.

Thankfully, tonight during our 1st Writes meeting I gained a ton of confidence when I realized that I am not special.

Yep, on my own I am a boring old clay pot.

Except, I'm not on my own – God’s light shines in my heart. His light transforms me. I'm not a simple clay pot, I'm the bearer of 'spiritual treasure'.

I can post these words with confidence because I believe God wants me to share them.

Thank you, Pam for tonight's enlightening session.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Resources for Writers: Christian Writers’ Workshops and Conferences

We are so excited! On Friday, Dawn, Brianna, and I will be heading to the Best Western Country Cupboard Inn, Lewisburg, PA for the Susquehanna Valley Writers Workshop. This event covers numerous genres every year and includes private critiques, peer critique sessions, and workshops with editors, agents, authors, mentors, and experts in a variety of fields. Conferees will be challenged to hone their skills to the best of their ability.

In November of 2010 three of us traveled to Fishers, Indiana to the 9th Annual Indianapolis Christian Writers Conference where we joined with other writers and experienced a terrific 1 ½ day conference format that was packed with valuable tips for success. If you can get there, I highly recommend it. The 2011 Conference dates are November 4-5.

Throughout the year writing workshops and conferences are held all over the United States. and Sally Stewart, (author of the Christian Writers' Market Guide) list Christian conferences that will help bring our writing to a new level and will provide an opportunity for writers to interact with professionals.  What are the perks of attending a writers’ conference?

*      Garner encouragement to write
*      Confirm God’s call to writing
*      Gain valuable instruction in the craft of writing
*      Expand writing horizons
*      Network with industry experts
*      Connect with a community of other aspiring writers
*      Glean understanding of the publishing industry
*      Consult one-on-one with professional authors, editors, and agents
*      Ask questions and acquire feedback on manuscripts and publishing ideas

For these reasons and many more, I recommend searching out and attending a writers’ workshop or conference. They are well worth the time and the expense.

If you have more good reasons to attend we would love to have you post them in the comments section.

May your writing be blessed!
Pam Williams

©2011 Pamela D. Williams

Monday, October 3, 2011


See*Photo*Write Every Monday!

An interesting, amusing, or startling photograph has the power to spark creativity and arouse the writer within.

Iryna Smolych - Old Man and Cat

Saturday, October 1, 2011

1st Mentions...

Our Favorite Blog Posts of the Week!

Brianna's Favorite: The Leaf @ The Contemplative Cat -It's a fun whimsical autumn treat!

Dawn's Favorite: Will Write for Cookies, the blog of Peggy Eddleman -- Who doesn't want a cookie? I am enjoying Peggy's fun posts. I love that she often offers cookies. Peggy, I'd write for cookies!

Pam's Favorite: Over at The Happy Housewife, I found a great post called "Organizing with Binders". Read all about this simple system and try it on your writing correspondence, contracts, and latest W.I.P. print outs!