5 Tips to Hone Your Craft

This month we’re sharing our ideas on how to become better writers. In this post, I’m sharing what’s helped me to hone my craft. Let’s get started.

Writing

Practice makes perfect. Just like musicians learn a piece of music by practicing every day, a writer learns by writing. The more you write the more writing becomes second nature. If you’re not writing every day, you’re missing out on opportunities to hone your craft.

Joining a Critique Group

I can’t say enough about this tip. Nothing can teach you more than critiquing another’s work. When I’m reading a manuscript—or a book—I listen to the cadence of words in a sentence. I notice what works and what doesn’t. If you’re not in a critique group, make it a priority to join one today!

Blogging

Whether you post every day or once a week, blogging connects you with an amazing group of people who will teach you even more about the craft. You will learn the art of networking as you follow and meet new people. Blogging also adds accountability to your writing schedule. And who knows, you just might meet that fantastic critique partner!

Conferences/Online Classes/Websites

The last weekend in September, I attended the ACFW At-Home conference. The classes included downloadable lessons, PDFs, and PowerPoint® presentation along with a Facebook Group where the attendees could meet and ask questions. It was fun and informative.

Another way to hone your craft is online classes. I’ve taken several classes on writing and self-care this year and enjoyed each one. I like the convenience and the affordability of online classes. Some were free while others required a small fee.

Finally, websites are a great way to hone your craft. Find one you like—like this blog—and follow. A search for writing on your favorite social media app will list several sites to follow. I’m sure you will find one you like. Here’s a link to get you started.

Books

Need advice on editing your story? How about publishing? You can find a how-to book on most subjects in your local library or your favorite bookstore app. While you’re there, don’t forget the fiction section. The more you read, the more you learn!

And there you have it. 5 tips to hone your craft. So, don’t waste anymore time. Your story is waiting!

Click to Tweet: If you’re not #writing every day, you’re missing out on opportunities to hone your craft. by @GailJohnson87 via @InspiredPrompt

Writing Prompt: Plan to search the web and social media for blogs on writing. Make a list of sites and books that would help you hone your craft. Then put that plan into action.

Trapped by Lillian Duncan

Good morning, readers. Welcome to another Saturday interview. This morning, our guest is Lillian Duncan.

Hello, Lillian. Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m very happily married and living in a small town in Ohio. I retired from my “day job” as a speech pathologist in 2012 after being diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors. It’s been a difficult journey but God has been with me through it all.

I’m so sorry to hear that, Lillian. We will be praying for you, dear friend. Now . . .

What do you love most about the writing process?

All of it! Really, I’m not exaggerating. I love the creativity that happens during the first draft. I love working on my craft as I edit and polish the story during the second, third, and however many drafts it takes to get it ready for my publisher. Then I love seeing how my editor makes it even better. I’m not going to say I never disagree with my editor about some of her changes, but it’s not as often as you’d think.

You are an inspiration, Lillian! Next question . . .

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

More than I can count! The first five years I just wrote because it was fun. I didn’t even think about trying seriously to get published for a long time.

I learned a lot from that time of just writing for myself that has helped me in so many ways in my writing career. I developed trust in my process for writing. I discovered that I didn’t just have one story inside me.

Trust is the key.

If you could give advice to your younger writing self, what would it be?

To connect more with other writers through writing conferences and critique groups. Relationships make a huge difference for writers.

I agree! Moving on . . .

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

I think one of the big ones is to try to speed the publishing process along before you’re ready to be published. It’s so easy to publish your own work now but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should—until you’re ready.

Knowing the difference is key. Final question . . .

What does literary success look like to you?

I think writers are notoriously insecure. We never quite believe that we’re “good enough” to be considered a good writer. Having said that, I’ve been blessed in so many ways in my writing career. One of my books (Puzzle House) was in the final three for the Carol Award in 2018. It didn’t win but it was edifying to be a finalist.

Sure, I’d love to sell more books, make more money, become a household name, have my books made into movies. Who wouldn’t love all that? But the truth is I’m just thrilled that I can still write books (after my brain tumors) and that people are entertained by them.

I’m rejoicing with you!

Future Projects or WIP you can talk about?

I’ll be part of my publisher’s Christmas Extravaganza this year. Each year, she releases books with a Christmas theme in a variety of genres just in time for the holidays. My book is All I Want for Christmas is Johnny Rocker Dead! It’s a fun story that features a rock and roll star who someone is trying to kill. It’s Maddie’s job to make sure that doesn’t happen.

I’ll also be releasing another suspense book some time next year—Jane Doe as well as the third book in my Puzzle House trilogy—Suffer The Little Children.

Wow! It sounds like I spend all my time writing, but I don’t. At least I don’t think I do. I guess when you’re doing what you love, time doesn’t matter.

Congratulations on the Christmas Extravaganza! Lillian, thank you for joining us.

Click to Tweet: “I guess when you’re doing what you love, time doesn’t matter.” ~ Lillian Duncan #interview #authorlife @InspiredPrompt

Giveaway: Two is always better than one, especially when it comes to giveaways. So, to celebrate the release of TRAPPED, Lillian is having two different giveaways! One lucky winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card as well as a choice of one of her books (e-book only).  Click Here to enter.  https://promosimple.com/ps/e958/trapped-celebration-tour-giveaway

Five lucky winners will win their choice of one of her books (e-book only). To enter, go to www.lillian-duncan.com and leave a comment under the TRAPPED Giveaway Post.


Angelina Matthews has everything—rich, famous and beautiful—until the day she’s kidnapped and trapped in a basement with a madman, wearing only a T-shirt. The dirt is his—the blood is hers. Tormented and tortured, she cries out to God.

Help comes in the form of Nate Goodman.

When their paths cross months later, Nate discovers Angelina is still trapped—not in a basement but in the memories she can’t escape. Nate knows all about being trapped—and getting un-trapped.

As an ex-Chicago cop he’s had his own demons to wrestle, but his faith helped him to move forward. He reaches out to Angelina whose paranoid delusions have her trapped still.

But are they delusions?


Lillian Duncan… turning faith into fiction.

Lillian is a multi-published author who lives in the middle of Ohio Amish country with her husband and a menagerie of pets. After more than 30 years working as a speech pathologist for children, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

Her goal is to write stories that entertain but also demonstrate God’s love for all of us. To learn more about her, visit www.lillian-duncan.com. I also have a devotional blog at www.PowerUpWithGod.com.

Easy Beef Stew

Good morning, dear reader. How’s that writing project coming along? Have enough time in your day? I think we’d all agree we could use less time in the kitchen and more time for writing. Let’s get started.

 

One of my favorite things to do, especially during the winter months, is throw something in the crock pot and cook it all day. It’s amazing what you can come up with by adding a little of this and a whole lot of that.

Here’s a picture of my upcoming recipe. Nothing like a warm bowl to wrap your hands around to ease your worries and comfort your soul. Let’s get right to the recipe

Ingredients

kristian-ryan-alimon-683430-unsplash2 ½ lb. Beef Chuck Roast
1 cup low sodium beef broth
1 large onion
2 stalks celery
4 medium potatoes quartered
4 large carrots
Salt and pepper to taste
Your choice of herbs

Instructions

Cut all vegetables into large chunks. Add roast and vegetables to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Serve with homemade biscuits.

Hope you enjoy the recipe. Happy writing!

Click to Tweet: Need more time for #writing? Easy #recipes for busy writers this month on Inspired Prompt. @InspiredPrompt @GailJohnson87

Writing Prompt

Patsy rushed through the door. She was home and her manuscript was waiting. Only one problem. Dinner. She opened the fridge to find only three ingredients . . .

Second photo courtesy Unsplash

3 Questions Wednesday with Lillian Duncan

Hello, friends! Please welcome author Lillian Duncan.

Good morning, Lillian. Tell us, who is your favorite author?

It depends on if you’re talking current authors or classic authors. For current authors, I would have to say Terri Blackstock. I love her suspense books.

A great choice. Now . . .

If you could write about anyone or anything fiction/nonfiction who or what would you write about?

God, specifically God’s Word. There is so much peace, joy, wisdom and power to be found in the Bible but we cheat ourselves by not accessing it.

I agree! Next question . . .

If you could spend time with a character from your book or another book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day? (PG please)

Oh my! I love all the characters I’ve created through the years. I would hate to hurt any of their feelings but… I’m going to go with Nia from my Puzzle House series. I first met her in Puzzle House and then learned more about her in my latest release, The David Years.

What would I do with her? Just hang with her and have her pray over me since she’s been given the gift of healing.

Nia sounds like an interesting character! Lillian, thank you for joining us today!

Click to Tweet: 3 Questions Wednesday with Lillian Duncan. Learn about her new book, The David Years. #writerslife #amreading @InspiredPrompt

GIVEAWAY: To celebrate the release of The David Years, Lillian is having a giveaway. FIVE lucky winners will receive their choice of one ebook. To be entered, go to www.lillian-duncan.com then leave a comment under one of THE DAVID YEARS posts. EASY-PEASY!


Nia Johnson has spent the past four years developing a closer relationship to God. She wants to believe she’s still anointed to become a healer at Puzzle House, but as each year passes, she has more and more doubts.

Now that she’s graduated from high school and is an adult, she is sure it’s time to take the mantle of healing Rachel passed to her so many years ago. Nia thought her learning years—her David Years—were over, but the harder she tries to move forward, the more her destiny seems to elude her.


Lillian Duncan… turning faith into fiction.

Lillian is a multi-published author who lives in the middle of Ohio Amish country with her husband and a menagerie of pets. After more than 30 years working as a speech pathologist for children, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

Her goal is to write stories that entertain but also demonstrate God’s love for all of us. To learn more about her, visit www.lillian-duncan.com. I also have a devotional blog at www.PowerUpWithGod.com.

What I Do When I’m Not Writing

What an honor to be invited back to Inspired Prompt. Thank you, Gail, for asking me to share how I spend my time while not writing. Though novel writing takes up a large chunk of my time and I’ve had to make sacrifices (like a clean house and flowerbeds with no weeds), there are some things that are too important to sacrifice.

One of those is time with family, namely, my husband (Marvin) of twenty-five years and our two sons. We’re a farm family from central, Illinois who loves the simple things of life, like being outdoors enjoying God’s creation.

Though our sons are fresh out of college and working full time, when we’re able, we enjoy motorcycle rides down country roads, going to St. Louis Cardinals games, visiting tractor shows, grilling out, bowling, and in the winter, watching movies and playing games with friends.

 

When it’s just the two of us, Marvin and I enjoy taking day trips to hike nature trails or ride bikes.

This past spring, we ventured to the Smoky Mountains for our twenty-fifth Anniversary. What a gorgeous place to visit. It was the farthest we’d traveled since our honeymoon, and so worth it!!

Though life can get pretty hectic in spring and fall for farm families, I love being a farmer’s wife. One of the things I love best about fall harvest is riding side-saddle in the combine with Marvin, and, on occasion, driving. Among the crops we grow (wheat, corn, and soybeans), corn is my favorite. Often the stalks are as high as the cab. Watching it feed through the head is amazing. Wheat is harvested in late June or July, so it’s generally hot and sticky in our non-air-conditioned cab. Not quite as ideal for riding, though I love watching the wheat ripen from green to golden brown.

For the past eight years, I’ve worked as a part-time elementary librarian. It’s my duty to shelve books, check books in and out to students, process new books, and assist head librarian, Kathy Phillips. We have a lot of fun together as we navigate through the various classes, reading to students and teaching them the essentials of finding their way around a library.

I’m also a gardener. With, Marvin busy in the field, the garden is pretty much my baby to tend—everything from tilling to planting to hoeing to harvesting. We grow sweet corn (my personal favorite), green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, potatoes, pumpkins, and watermelon (Marvin’s favorite). I also enjoy having a few flowers around, especially when the Lord grows them so beautifully!

I’m also a bird enthusiast and enjoy identifying new species I haven’t seen or heard before. Each spring, we enjoy watching bluebirds nest out our sunroom window. Since I feed year round, it’s so interesting to see the various summer and winter birds at the feeders.

I’m still struggling to find the balance between writing time and life. The call to write is strong, but the Lord continually reminds me to keep my priorities in line—my relationship with Him first, then family, then writing. I consider writing my ministry, and so enjoy hearing from readers who have been touched by the words God has enabled me to write.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into my world outside of writing. There’s nothing extraordinary about my life or me. But the Lord has blessed me richly with a love for what is simple and satisfying. Hopefully that comes across in my stories. Thanks so much for taking time to get to know the person behind the pen.

ClicktoTweet: “Though life can get pretty hectic in spring and fall for farm families, I love being a farmer’s wife.” What I Do When I’m Not Writing by Cynthia Roemer via Inspired Prompt @cynthiaroemer @InspiredPrompt @GailJohnson87


AUTHOR BIO:  

Cynthia Roemer is an award-winning inspirational writer with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. She writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband and their two college-aged sons. Her Prairie Sky Series consists of Book One: Under This Same Sky (an Amazon Best-Seller) and Book Two: Under Prairie Skies. Book Three in the series, Under Moonlit Skies is due to release September 10, 2019.

Contact Info:  Cynthia Roemer can be contacted at:
Website:  http://cynthiaroemer.com/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com@cynthiaroemer  
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCynthiaRoemer/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16785237.Cynthia_Roemer
Author Newsletter Sign-up: http://cynthiaroemer.com/

Purchase Links:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=cynthia+roemer
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/under-prairie-skies-cynthia-roemer/1128471176?ean=9781945094446
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/cynthia-roemer