Writing to Inspire

I have loved reading and writing from the moment I learned to do both. I wrote my first song when I was twelve, my first poem at fourteen. Later, I wrote about life. I never thought those scribbled notes of reflection would one day become a book of encouragement for others.

What the book is not

TreasuresofHopeFrontFinalWhen thoughts of telling my story bounced around inside my head, I kept pushing the idea aside. I refused to write a book about a hopeless situation. I didn’t enjoy reading those kinds of books so, why on earth would I write one? Who would want to read it? But when I couldn’t shake the idea, I set aside my WIP and prayed about the project. My goal in writing the story was to help others. And in doing that, I didn’t feel like the book should be about my story but HIS story.

So, I recalled the facts without sharing all the details. I concentrated on the aftermath and what victims of abuse and injustice deal with as Christians. Aren’t we supposed to forgive? What about justice? How do we let go our anger? How can we overcome fear? How can we move forward? How can we help others in our situations? How can we silence the lies inside our heads? How can we live a victorious life?

I think I accomplished my goal.

About the book

Treasures of Hope: Discovering the Beautiful Truth Beneath My Painful Past is about overcoming the lies we believe about ourselves, whether those lies come from another person or the enemy of our souls.

During my journey, I found answers through the lives of women I’d heard about all my life but never connected the dots to how their lives pertained to my situation. Through Rachel, Sarah, Rahab, Hannah, and Esther, I discovered hope. In the chapters, I addressed intimacy, identity and purpose, fear, worth, and victory. I also included chapter questions, encouragement, and recommended songs and books. Although it is a memoir, readers have used it as a Bible study and a devotional.

I hope you find it inspiring no matter your situation.

Click to Tweet: I hope you find Treasures of Hope inspiring no matter your situation. #hope #bookgiveaway @GailJohnson87

 

 

About Gail

Gail Johnson enjoys sharing her passion for life and Christ through the power of the written word. Whether it’s through stories, articles, or songs, she invites her reader and listener to “taste and see” the hope she has found in a faithful God and loving Savior. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the author of Treasures of Hope, Discovering the Beautiful Truth Beneath My Painful Past, a memoir.

You can learn more about Gail at gailjohnsonauthor.com

Show versus Tell

Hi everyone! Patty Smith Hall here, and today, we’re going to tackle one of the major building blocks of effective writing—Show vs Tell.

If you’ve been to a writing conference, had a critique partner or read books on craft, you’ve probably heard the phrase, ‘show, don’t tell.’ For those of you ‘newbies,’ let me explain.

First off, let’s look at the definition of these words;

The meaning of the word ‘tell’ is ‘communicating information, facts or news to someone in spoken or written words. Other words to describe it are informed, notify, apprise and advise.

newspaper-943004_192028129When I think of telling, I think of a newspaper article. For an article to be informative, it has to answer five questions—who, what, where, when and why. Most (with the exception of editorials) are very basic with little to no description. They’re looking at the situation from ten thousand feet above so they can’t give much detail or expression.

My first draft is a lot like that. I’m trying to get the story down, learning the who, what, where, when, why. During this time, I use words like angrily, solemnly, joyfully, hesitantly or phrases like she or he thought. While its okay to do this, it doesn’t draw your reader into the story or make them feel for your characters. It might look something like this:

‘Maggie stared pensively out the window as she took another sip of coffee.

That’s okay, but it doesn’t give readers a hint of why Maggie feels pensive. It doesn’t even reveal the setting. As a reader, would you finish a book like that or would you read on?

Now let’s look at the word ‘show.’ The definition of ‘show’ is ‘be, allow or cause to be visible; to display a quality, emotion or characteristic; a display or spectacle; a play or stage performance.

I like that last description. Here in the south, we don’t go to a movie. For us, it’s a show which is a fitting description. In a movie, you’re able to see the actor’s expressions, get a feel for the motivations behind their actions.

movie-918655_1920When I start editing my rough draft, I picture each scene as though it were a movie. I slow it down so that I can catch all the nuances of my character’s expressions and how they respond to each plot twist. Writing my story this way brings my readers deeper into the story world and gives my characters more layers which makes the reader care about them.

So how does this look? Let’s take pensive Maddie.

Maddie stared pensively out of the window as she took another sip of her coffee.

But if we look at this as we would a movie scene, this is what we might see:

She missed her mountains.

Maddie stared out the big picture window, drawn to the outline of the Davis Mountains silhouetted against the morning sky. She took another sip of Sally’s coffee, her latest bout of homesickness drowning out the hustle and bustle of the café.

Did the second paragraph draw you into the story? Did you feel for Maddie? That’s what showing rather than telling does. That doesn’t mean you never can use telling. If you want to show the passage of time, telling is a good way of doing that—you’re moving the story forward without going into details that aren’t important to the story. One example for my books is from my first one, Hearts in Flight. My heroine was a pilot who flew test flights during WWII. Only I never wrote about her actually flying a plane! Why? Because it was a romance, her flying wouldn’t have moved the story along.

Here’s a simple way to think of it: Say your husband or wife tells you ‘I’m going to be a better mate.’ That’s all well and good, but wouldn’t showing you with their actions their intentions be even better?

I hope I’ve helped you understand show vs tell a little bit more. Some good articles on the subject are:

Show, Don’t Tell; A Simple Guide for Writers by Jerry Jenkins

Showing Vs Telling in Your Writing by Writer’s Digest

Show Vs Tell by R. Michael Burns

Show Vs Tell: Examples by Camy Tang

Click to Tweet: When I start editing my rough draft, I picture each scene as though it were a movie. #writetip #amwriting @InspiredPrompt @pattywrites

Writing Prompt: Read a page of your WIP. Did you find problems with telling? How can you show the scene?

The Southern Belle Brides Collection

51jkgnu-g-l._sy346_Love as Sweet as Southern Iced Tea

Welcome to the Old South where hospitality is king and charm is queen. Can lasting love been found here amidst chaotic life challenges?

The Belle of the Congaree by Lauralee Bliss
Columbia, South Carolina—1866
Mason Bassinger reluctantly travels to post-war South Carolina seeking lands his carpetbagger brother can buy. Elisa Anderson barely survives after her family’s plantation was destroyed. She welcomes visits by the handsome and wealthy Mason who makes the cottage by the Congaree feel like a home. But when Mason’s true purpose is revealed, will her heart be broken by betrayal?

Thoroughbreds by Ramona Cecil
Lexington, Kentucky—1918
A family tragedy reunites Ella Jamison with her childhood tormentor, igniting surprisingly different sparks. Clay Garrett questions why God would allow him to fall in love with the one woman least likely to return his affections. But when love blooms against all odds, old secrets threaten to destroy it and, in the process, tear an entire family apart.

The Marmalade Belle by Dianne Christner
Ocala, Florida—1893
A decade-old note draws Maribelle Sinclair into the arms of Jackson, her childhood hero, but the Cavalry dragoon’s soul appears dark and dangerous as the Florida everglades. Virgil, on the other hand, is sweet as mama’s orange marmalade and optimistically forthright. If hearts are windows, like the glass-bottomed boats on nearby Silver River, Maribelle can trust hers to make the right choice.

Debt of Love by Lynn Coleman
Palatka, Florida—1868
Adeline Edwards, a Southern Belle with strong calloused hands from tending cattle, no longer attends balls. Banker, Phineas George Hamilton III, arrives at the plantation to recover the bank’s debt and discovers strong-willed Adeline doubts the bank’s claim. Can they figure out the debt, or will they find balance in love?

Hometown Bride by Patty Smith Hall
Marietta, Georgia—1870
Jilly Chastain never lied, but when her mother fabricates a marriage with her childhood sweetheart, Grayson Hancock, Jilly goes along with it, never expecting Grayson to show up, ready to make their make-believe marriage real.

Miss Beaumont’s Companion by Grace Hitchcock
Baton Rouge, Louisiana—1892
When lady’s companion Aria St. Angelo is coerced into posing as her political employer’s absent daughter for the evening at the Louisiana Governor’s masquerade ball, she wasn’t planning on falling for Byron Roderick, the most eligible bachelor in the capitol.

Above All These Things by Connie Stevens
East central Georgia—1855
Pre-conceived opinions and stubborn pride builds walls of resentment between Annulet Granville, the belle of Thornwalk Manor, and a visiting stranger. Annulet’s parents urge her to find a husband, but she labels Peyton Stafford the enemy. So what is she to do with Christ’s command to love her enemies?

pattyhallA multi-published author with Love Inspired Historical and Barbour, Patty lives in North Georgia with her husband of 35 years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters, her son-in-love and a grandboy who has her wrapped around his tiny finger. When she’s not writing on her back porch, she’s spending time with her family or working in her garden.

 

 

 

 

Indie Authoring – With Help

byquill Shirley Crowder

Indie Authors Gail Johnson and Carlton Hughes are our special guests today.

From whom did your love of books (reading and writing) and storytelling come?
GAIL: My love for reading came from my mom. Writing and storytelling is, I believe, a gift from God. In the past when I couldn’t speak about my emotions, I could always write about them.
CARLTON: My parents and grandparents encouraged me to read and to tell my stories. My big extended family loves to tell stories, so it was natural. I had an English and Journalism teacher who stayed with me from 8th grade through freshman college composition, and I credit him with my love of writing and my knowledge of the mechanics.

What advice do you have for people who “think” they want to become a writer?
GAIL: Writing is labor-intensive and time-consuming. To become a better writer, one must study the craft. To do that takes discipline and commitment. But the rewards are well worth the sacrifice when you know you’re fulfilling your purpose.
CARLTON: Learn the “mechanics” before you do anything. Know grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, etc. Get some instruction on your particular area (fiction, nonfiction, devotionals, etc.). Conferences are great and have helped me immensely, but there are great resources online. Polish, polish, polish that piece before you send it out.

During the process of being published, what did you learn that changed (will change) the way you work on and write future books?
GAIL: I learned to enjoy the journey and to view my mistakes as stepping stones. I’m learning, and I hope I never get too old not to take a chance. How boring life would be!
CARLTON: I didn’t understand how to work with an editor, and I learned how to self-edit, how to keep the main point of the piece while cutting unnecessary words.

What are some advantages of being an Indie Author?
GAIL: Time … gives me the needed breaks for rest and recuperation on the bad days.
CARLTON: A bit more freedom in what you write and your writing/publishing schedule.
Implied by both is that Indie Authors have more control over what they write, when they write, and all other aspects of the writing/publishing process.

Does being a Christ-follower limit or increase your writing opportunities?
GAIL: Being a Christ-follower limits my writing opportunities because there are some subjects or scenes I refuse to write. On the other hand, my writing opportunities are also increased for the same reason. Who better to share the Gospel than one who has experienced it first-hand?
CARLTON: I have always said if God gives me opportunity I will take it and do the writing, so I think it increases my opportunities. Without Christ I would not have the publications I have had.

Name some author friends and how they have encouraged you to become a better writer.
GAIL:

  • Sandra Byrd—I spent two years under her expert tutelage in the Christian Writer’s Guild. She was a substantive editor for my memoir.
  • Dawn Kinzer—Because of her encouragement as a copy editor for my memoir, I don’t see the editing process as something to be dreaded.
  • Betty Thomason Owens—My critique leader. I love her teaching style that has a way of getting the very best from you as a writer.

CARLTON:

  • Sandra Aldrich—The first person who believed in me and encouraged me to submit my writing.
  • Jan Watson—Encouraged me to pursue my dreams and to share about life in Eastern Kentucky. She proved to me that you can be a “bi-vocational” writer.
  • Cyle Young—My agent was the first person in the industry who “got me” and my style of writing. He pushes me to be my best and to learn the industry.

If you were to write under a pseudonym, what would your pseudonym be?
GAIL: Ooh, I had to think about this one. I’m not sure about the last name, but the first name would be Hope. Everything I write has a thread of hope woven into it.

CARLTON: C. Wayne. Wayne is my middle name, and some of my family members still call me that.

Click to Tweet: Indie Authors have more control over what they write, when they write, and all other aspects of the writing/publishing process. #IndieAuthors #AmWriting


Gail Johnson head shot 10Gail Johnson
Born and raised in Georgia, Gail is the daughter of the South. For me, it gets no better than southern living. It’s a laid-back easy-going kinda life. I’m married to the man of my dreams, and we have two beautiful kids. Most days you can find me writing or sitting in my backyard thinking about writing.

Website: https://gailjohnsonauthor.com
Twitter: @GailJohnson87
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gailjohnsonauthor

Get Gail’s book, Treasures of Hope at: https://amzn.to/2OKHF87


CarltonCarlton Hughes
I am a professor of communication at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College and Children’s Pastor at Lynch Church of God. I’m also a freelance writer who has been published in numerous publications, including several devotional books. (He’s a comedian too, !)

Twitter: @carltonwhughes
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carlton.hughes.73?ref=br_rs
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carlton-hughes-03442564/

Indie Publishing: My Journey

By Gail Johnson

If you google indie publishing, you’ll find umpteen dozen sites offering advice on how to publish your book. There, you’ll also find an opinion on why, where, and when to do it. Believe me!

Warning: You can spend years obtaining endless trails of information, or you can write a book and publish that puppy. One thing is certain, you’ll have to make your own decision on what is the best technique for you.

TreasuresofHopeFrontFinalIn 2017, I published my memoir, Treasures of Hope: Discovering the Beautiful Truth Beneath My Painful Past. In this article I will share a little of the process and some surprises I encountered through that experience. Note: I am not, nor do I claim to be, an expert, so I’ve added links for you to discover your own path. Let’s get started.

Write

The first step is obvious. Write your story.

Editing

The second step should be obvious. We are not perfect. We will make mistakes. The more eyes you have on your story the better to catch those mistakes. Hire an editor. Apply those edits. I hired a developmental editor and a copy editor. It was one of the best decisions I made during my journey.

Formatting

Some writers hire formatters while others do their own formatting. I did a little of both. For the print book, I used a template by Book Design Templates. For my e-book, I hired a formatter. The reason for that was I ran into problems on the e-book that neither the template techs nor Amazon techs could figure out. As weeks turned into months, I chose to hire someone to do the e-book. (I would like to add, a friend used Book Design Templates for her historical novel and had no problems.) I still recommend the templates.

Covers

You can order e-book covers any time during the writing process. But a print book cover must have several elements in place before ordering. Formatting your book will give you the needed page number to determine the width of your spine. No guessing. The page number must be exact.

By now, you should have the title and an idea what you’d like the front of your book to look like. To choose your photo you can visit the following sites. You can either choose a free photo or you can buy one. The main thing is to make sure you get the rights to the photograph. The following sites were suggested to me.

Bigstockphoto.com
Depositphotos.com
Unsplash.com
Shutterstock.com
Fotolia.com
Istockphoto.com
Dreamstime.com
Peopleimages.com

Another thing you will need for your cover is a blurb. A blurb is a description of your story printed on the back of your book. Psst. I had someone to help me write mine. You will also need an author picture and bio.

The last thing to think about for your print cover is the ISBN number. Some authors buy their own while others use a free CreateSpace ISBN. Read more here.

Now you are ready to order your cover or make your own if you so choose. I’m not that creative. I hired a cover designer.

Categories and Keywords

While you wait on the cover, think about your categories and keywords you’ll use once you’ve uploaded your manuscript. Categories describe the genre while keywords are the words you think people will use when searching for your book.

For instance, my book is a memoir, but it can be, and has been, used as a devotional and a study guide. So, three out of the seven keywords were memoir, devotional, and study guide.

Publishing

This part of the journey was a surprise to me. When my covers arrived in my inbox, the e-book was a jpeg, and the print copy was a pdf. Who knew? Next, I visited my friendly neighborhood publisher, such as KDP, CreateSpace, BN, IngramSpark. Again everyone has their opinions.

As with every new project, we may feel apprehension in the doing. I did! So, let me encourage you. It isn’t as hard as you think. Once you create your account, you’ll be taken to a dashboard that will lead you through the entire process. Just follow the direction and you’ll do fine. And if you run into any problems, contact the publisher. I had no problems getting my questions answered.

After uploading a pdf of your cover and manuscript to CreateSpace, they will review, print, and snail mail you a copy of your book. You will need to proof it. If you find a problem, correct it, and reorder. They will send you another proof. When you are satisfied with the result, you are ready to share your story with the world.

So there you have some of the interesting things I learned while publishing my book. If you’re an indie, what things would you add? If you published your book, what were the surprises in your journey to publication?

Click to Tweet: “So there you have some of the interesting things I learned on my publishing journey.” @GailJohnson87 for @InspiredPrompt #indie #author

Writing Prompt: Today, make a plan and add a date to publish your book.

Celebrating the Simple Life

by Gail Johnson

As a young mom, I planned awesome vacations and field trips for my kids. I wanted them to learn not just from books but by visiting places and experiencing life. However, after several outings, I gave up. It wasn’t about bickering and fighting in the car. My kids never fought. They still don’t. Maybe it’s the four-year age difference.

Neither was it the usual crazy things that can go wrong on field trips or vacations.  No. The reason I quit was my kids, like hobbits, preferred (prefer) to stay in the shire. Because if they left, they had to wear shoes or had to stop playing in the sandbox.

Another reason was riding wore them out. To this day, they will sleep while traveling and most of the next day.

Once, I planned a trip to a state park famous for wildlife. While wandering around the park,  I pointed to an animal crossing the grass in front of us. My son’s reaction? “I can see that at home. Can we go, now?”

It took some time, but I finally understood while I wanted my children to experience the world my way, they were experiencing the world in their own way at home. That year, I embraced the simple life and decided to transform our backyard into a never-ending field trip.

My first project was to create a beach. I had a sandbox (prior the endless grass-planting days) and the sun. All I needed to do was to buy a pool. Soon we were enjoying the laid-back beach life. Best decision ever! It’s still my favorite getaway.

Next, I constructed a zoo by planting grass and tasty plant life. After my yard make-over, rabbits, squirrels, deer, gopher turtles, snakes, and birds of the south, including wild turkeys, moved in to destroy taste my delectable yard. (I hope you’re catching the dry humor here.)

Later, I opened a get-away for family and friends. For Christmas, we bought four-wheelers for the kids and created mazes and trails to ride. Our house was filled with the laughter of all ages throughout the holiday season and for years to come.

Now, in their twenties, the kids love traveling with us. We may have gotten off to a late start, but we’re making up for lost time.

It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.

Looking back, I can see what I would’ve missed if I hadn’t listened to my kids because God used the backyard as an instrument to reveal His purpose for our lives.

The pool became a place for sharing problems, hopes, prayers, and dreams. The four-wheeler trails became the paths my children walked as they prayed for guidance, and the animals taught us His faithfulness to supply our every need. It is for these blessings that I celebrate this simple life!

Now it’s your turn. How do you pass your summer? Do you go on vacations, or do you prefer to stay at home?

Click to Tweet: “It is for all these blessings that I celebrate this simple #life!” ~ @GailJohnson87 on @InspiredPrompt #family


Hognose 2-1Writing Prompt

Mary was happy with her morning progress. She had weeded the garden and gathered tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash.  It was time to call it a day. Reaching for her basket, she froze at the sight of a snake making its way around…