Take Time to Look at the Past

Writing in the Historical Genre.

When I started writing it wasn’t hard for me to choose a genre.  As a young girl I loved reading Nancy Drew. Nancy was everything I wanted to be, smart, popular, and fearless. When I turned thirteen all that changed with a book I checked out from the bookmobile. It was called “The Distant Summer” by Sarah Patterson. Romance had taken hold of my page turning habits.  Boy meets girl just made my heart zing. In high school I found a new love, history. Putting my love of history together with romance just made my world complete.

My first novel is set during the American Revolution. With some help from a writing group; a brainstorming session created my hero and heroine. The historical facts took a bit longer. A lot of research goes into historical fiction writing.

There are many sources available to research a historic period. Books, the internet, libraries, and historical societies are all a wealth of information. This summer my husband and I went to Washington, D.C. for a short trip. About two hours south of that city in Virginia is  Colonial Williamsburg, a living history museum. I fell in love with the place! Doing a research trip is totally worth it. I found so many interesting stories while doing my research. There are truly so many real characters who played instrumental roles in forging our country that adding  your interpretation of those historical characters to your novel can add a bit of authenticity.

Throw a dart at a map of our original thirteen colonies and land on a spot rich in history to use in your historical novel. You could choose any time period and do the same. Some of my favorite historical novels are not necessarily considered romantic. You can weave a historical tale without the romance. A character study of a type of historical figure like a spy during the American Revolution, or the Civil War, who happens to be a romantic is a great historical story.  The possibilities are endless.

I have learned through this writing journey to listen to the advice from those who have traveled this worn path. Save everything. Not that you need to become a hoarder mind you, but there may come a time when your historical facts need to be proved. Keeping track of your sources will make this less stressful. A notebook, or three ring binder for keeping documents and the ideas you’ve chicken-scratched on little bit of paper. I also keep a notebook on my nightstand, I can’t tell you how many times an idea will present itself while I lay in bed at night.

There is also a computer application called Scrivener which will allow you to keep all your sources, documents, notes, pictures, and your manuscript all in one place. It will even help you format your book. So, think about those days gone by, there just might a story there.


Take a page from the #past


Writing Prompt: You just found a diary in a dusty old trunk in your Grandmother’s attic. It tells a story of one of your long lost ancestors. Tell me about him/her and the time period they lived in.

Encouraging Others Through Devotional Blogging

Merriam Webster defined devotion as “An act of prayer or private worship; to show allegiance or loyalty.”  Devotions help with the growth of our faith through spending quiet time with God. In doing so one can be blessed through this act of obedience.

We spend so much of our time these days on the computer that it’s normal to now find devotions in an electronic form. There are many to choose from, and they can target many different ministry needs. Writing a devotional blog is much like writing a devotional book.

Prayer is the first step in the process. Ask God for His guidance and wisdom to create a site where one can find a source of encouragement from the Bible. A great example of this is Philippians 4:6; Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.

You will need to decide what venue to use to produce your blog. A site like WordPress can help walk you through the steps to create a top-notch blog site. Coming up with a name for your site may take a bit more time and prayer.

Once you have your blog site complete. Decide how you can best serve those who will be reading your blog. Will you do it daily, weekly, or monthly? Perhaps share other resources that help emphasize the theme of your blog with non-fiction books, a Scripture reading plan, or a ministry resource. You may also consider using information from professional sources such as medical doctors, psychologists, or other knowledgeable professionals to help with the theme of your blog. It will not be possible to help everyone in every situation. However, you will be able to help some, so create the devotion as God leads you. Then trust in the Lord to lead the people to Him through your blog.

Most devotional blogs tell a story that drives home a biblical truth or theme. Some incident in your life where God was able to teach you through an event, a Bible verse, or even a sermon can help give your reader direction. Consider a theme for your devotional blog. You could target your blog post for an audience that may be dealing with addictions, or raising a family; it can even be based on books of the Bible such as Psalms or Proverbs. Whichever you decide; God will use it for good. You may have gone through some rough patches in your life when you struggled with personal issues. Allow God to use those hard times to teach others and give them encouragement so that they too may come through it in victory.

Making time for devotions is a challenge for most Christians, including myself. Start out with a portion of Scripture. Include your thoughts about the Scripture reading. Share a consideration of how it can be applied to everyday life. Encourage your reader to journal their thoughts. It is a wonderful way to meditate on God’s Word and begin to see how He is truly guiding you. Finish with Prayer leading your reader to ask for continued guidance through the Scripture verses.

Click to Tweet: Encouraging Blogs #Devotions

Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NLT.  Our direction from God in this Scripture is to always be thankful, in all circumstances. In doing so we can be assured to find joy in leaning closer to Him in prayer.

Please post a favorite Scripture and your thoughts on it.

Freelance Writing for a Magazine

by Tammy Trail

To tell you the truth, I chose this topic because it has always been an interest to mehow to write for a magazine.

I love magazines, but my husband does not. So, I don’t buy very many. I usually get my fix at my hair salon while I wait my turn. Sometimes I have been known to go to the shop just a bit early to read the offerings. I recently read a very good article about Falconry in an airline magazine during a flight to our vacation destination. Who knew there was such a process in taming birds of prey to be handled and taught to hunt on demand? I certainly didn’t. That’s what I like about a good magazine article, it’s a short, decisive piece that teaches, informs, and focuses on one topic of interest.From my research into writing for a magazine, I found it’s pretty much the same as writing a novel.

  1. Study your target. The publication you choose to submit your work to may only publish certain topics.
  2. Find out how to submit. Just like finding a publisher for your book, magazines also want submissions sent in a professional manner.
  3. Query letters – No, you don’t’ get out of it. The dreaded query letter is a necessity even for short articles. Here are some helpful hints.

You must make a good case for the magazine to publish your work. You are in fine competition with other freelance writers. Just like writing a novel, you must grab an editor’s attention right from the start. Tell them why your article idea is important to readers.

Give content information like; how many words, the sources you used, or what current issues pertain to the subject matter.

Include your qualifications. Give samples of other articles you have written, also include a self- addressed stamped envelope.

There are lots of sources on the internet that will walk you through the freelance writing process. All will tell you the same thing, keep at it. Don’t give up. Through my research, I have learned there are a lot of magazines out there which hire freelance writers, like the magazine created just for a specific airline. All you need sometimes is Google.

People do make money freelance writing for magazines. I may try it myself. It’s another vehicle to get your work and name circulating in the writing world.

What type of magazine would you like to write an article for? What topic would you choose for an article?

Click to Tweet: Freelance writing for magazines is another vehicle to get your work and name circulating in the writing world. -Tammy Trail #freelancewriting #writing4magazines

Working with the Industry: Editor Interview with Karin Beery

This month’s “Working with the Industry” posts are a real eye opener for me. I just love to learn. And when the lesson has anything to do with improving my writing skills, I’m all ears.

All of us need a helping hand every once in a while. Your critique partners and Beta readers may think your story is the next best thing to hit the market. However, once you expose it to someone who is working in the writing industry it may still need work.

For my editor interview, I asked a few questions of my editor friend Karin Beery. I first met Karin while we commiserated in the same critique group for about a year. She is a champion of helping others achieve a quality product they can be proud to present for publication.

Be teachable. If you’re unwilling to take an editor’s advice, there’s no point in hiring an editor.

What is the best advice you can give to an established writer and newbie alike on the writing craft?
Be teachable. Even if you’ve been in the industry for a while, things change. Editors should be aware of those changes. If you’re unwilling to take an editor’s advice, there’s no point in hiring an editor.

What book have you read that you would have loved to edit, and how would you have changed it to your liking?
I don’t necessarily want to name the book because I don’t want to embarrass anyone, but several years ago I read a fantasy book that “everyone” was talking about. It was simultaneously the most interesting and most boring book I’ve ever read! Since then I’ve ready many books with the same three common issues:

  • stereotypical characters
  • spending too much time describing unnecessary details (such as exactly what each character is wearing in every scene) while failing to describe necessary components (like establishing scene setting)
  • not enough conflict.

How does an author know when the time is right to engage an editor before publication?
Ask! Almost every editor I know will provide a free sample edit/review of at least the first few pages. I’ve told several authors that they aren’t ready for editing yet, then offered suggestions for how they can strengthen their writing. If you’re afraid to ask an editor, then find someone in the publishing industry for their honest input (and be ready for honesty!).

What should a writer expect when entering into a contract with an editor?
 Regardless of what kind of an edit a writer needs, there are a few things they should expect from any competent, professional editor:

  • Edits/Comments – if you get a clean manuscript back, that’s not actually a good sign. No one’s perfect (even published books have typos!). If your editor can’t find anything wrong with your story, he/she might not know what to be looking for.
  • Proper Edits/Comments – proofreads are the last step in the editorial process. If your proofread includes rewrites and restructuring, that’s not really a proofread. Make sure you know the difference between the services so you’re getting the right edit.
  • Industry Standards – an editor’s job is to help you clean up your manuscript, not to rewrite it to his/her personal beliefs or preferences.
About Karin Beery

Editor. Teacher. Novelist.

A passionate lover of fiction, Karin doesn’t just write novels, she helps others write their best stories! A certified substantive editor with the Christian Editor Connection, her goal is to help authors to put her out of business by equipping them with the tools they need to become better writers.

Want to know more about Karin?

Connect with her at: KarinBerry.com, FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Resources for Indie Publishing

This month’s topic of Indie Publishing is great! I have really enjoyed learning more. I don’t know about you, but I love to think outside the box to find different ways to learn about the writing craft.

YouTube is my go-to lately. I sit at a desk when I’m at work and do repetitious data processing while answering a switchboard that is less busy during the night hours. During those hours I use one ear bud in my I-Phone to listen to videos on a variety of topics.

I didn’t realize until just a few months ago that there are a great many videos on the craft of writing. Some of the authors I have listened to do not write the same genre as I do, but basic story structure, outlining, marketing tips, and encouragement are basically the same for all genres. Who doesn’t need another author who has been there giving great advice on getting out of a slump during the process of getting your book done?

There are videos that are specific to a certain genre, but I tend to like to glean from all types of teaching. There is something called “Skill Share” you can access through YouTube. These videos are made by folks who want to “share” their expertise or lessons they have learned on a virtual plethora of topics. Of course, I have only sampled the topics that have to do with writing, marketing, or using social media as a marketing tool. One of the young ladies I like to follow and listen to is Vivien Reis. She posts very regularly in her own YouTube channel, and contributes to Skill Share.

There is even a video that gives you step by step instructions on how to self-publish your book for free or very minimal out of pocket cost. I will link this video below.

Another source for Indie Publishing is Google. There are many websites available to the techie smart novelist who is cautious in their quest for tools to self-publish. I found a website with called “48 Publishing Resources You Should Know About” by Diana Urban. She includes a great many topics that I didn’t even think about before writing this blog.

Pinterest is another resource for gleaning information on writing topics. I have my own board for saving pins I find of interest, related to the writing process. It can also be a good marketing tool for your book once it is in print. I also have boards used for saving pictures I like that relate to my current work in progress, like hero and heroine templates, places they might live, other characters in the story, and fashions of the historical period in which I am writing.

Last, but certainly not least: Good old fashion networking with other authors. Sometimes the writer sitting next to you has just the answers you need. Join a writing organization like the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), who can walk you through the in’s and out’s of publishing, and help you find like-minded individuals who can give you a helping hand while you craft your story. Many local chapters get together on a regular basis for continuing education, support, and friendship.

https://youtu.be/ZkoltFuljlE to learn about how to self-publish your book step by step. By Gillian Perkins

https://youtu.be/Isobf02R3fk to learn about Skill Share with my favorite writing channel. By Vivian Reis.

https://insights.bookbub.com/publishing-resources/ “48 Publishing Resources You Should Know About” by Diana Urban.
https://pin.it/yt2jg6wtnexxv3 This is a link to my Pinterest board for my book, “Patriot Hearts.”

CLICK TO TWEET: Need another author who has been there, giving great advice on getting out of a slump during the process of getting your book done? Resources for Indie Publishing from @trail_j via @InspiredPrompt #writinglife #IndiePublish