Nonfiction: Inspired from Conception to Publication

Covering the nonfiction genre in one post is impossible. Instead, I chose to encourage and inspire you to seriously think about nonfiction. So let me ask you…

books, NarniaAre you a fiction writer or a nonfiction writer? Regardless, did you know that you can use fiction techniques to create a gripping story? For instance, nonfiction writers begin with voice, use compelling dialogue, and include a beginning, middle, and ending to ensure their readers an unforgettable experience.

Now, that I have your attention, here are different ways you can distribute your writing.

Magazine Articles
Do you know how to plant a perfect garden, repair a broken household sink, or cook mouth-watering apple pies? Well then, why not turn all your hard-earned wisdom into an article.

Newspaper columns
Are you a news junkie? Traveler? Foodie? Photographer? Newspapers are always looking for local talent. Share school activities, church socials,  neighborhood street parties, your destinations and experiences.

If you’re not ready to tackle your own book, why not collaborate with other writers. Chicken Soup for the Soul is a perfect example of collaboration. Submit your story, and if chosen it’s published as part of a collection. Be sure to check their guidelines before submitting.

This includes memoirs, autobiographies, biographies, self-help, travel guides, cookbooks, photography, and devotionals, just to name a few.

As you can see, there are many aspects to consider. Let’s take a moment and talk about the writing process.

Getting Started


Ideas– Everything begins with an idea. The problem is we may lose the inspiration if we don’t capture the moment. Always carry something to catch the unexpected. When I don’t have pen and paper, I use my phone (Samsung Note 5). It has a pen (And you know how much I love pen and paper). Or if I can’t write, I can record my thoughts using the recorder app.

Research-How will you gather your info? Consider using interviews, online articles, library visits, or an experiment in your own kitchen. No matter where your investigation leads, record and date your facts. This will save you hours of time and frustration when you begin writing.

Write-Look over your notes. Decide what you will say and in what order you will say it. Write the article without editing. Read it. Edit. Revise. Rewrite. Repeat until it’s the best it can be.

Submissions-Finding a place for your story can be harder than writing your story. But there are a few books that can help you find a home for your idea. The 2018 editions of The Christian Writers Market Guide and  Writers Market Guide are treasure troves of potential publishers.

In today’s world, we have so many options in publishing. Why not take a chance? Spread your wings and ride the wind. Who knows where the gusts will take you!

Writing Prompt: Take one of your ideas and think it through from conception to publication. Make a to-do list and check off each one as you finish it. Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.

Click to Tweet: Why not take a chance? @InspiredPrompt @GailJohnson87 #writetip #nonfiction

3 Questions Wednesday with Harriet Michael

IMG_5245Today’s 3 Questions Wednesday guest is Harriet Michael. We’ve recently welcomed Harriet as a guest contributor here on the Writing Prompts blog, so you’ll see her posts from time to time. How did she do with our 3 questions? Read on. I think you’ll find it very interesting!

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday, Harriet. Here’s the first question:

Which author would you never get tired of, and why?

Harriet:  I read a wide variety of authors, both fiction, and nonfiction. Often I only read one sample of their work, because I have so many others I want to sample. But one author whose book I loved and intend to read another is Christian nonfiction author, Brennan Manning. I loved his Raggamuffin Gospel and am told by a close friend whose opinion I value, that “Abba’s Child” is also great. I hope to read it at some point too.

I collect quotes and two of Brennan Manning’s are among my favorites. He is quoted as saying, “On the last day, Jesus will look us over not for medals, diplomas, or honors, but for scars.”

And in his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, he wrote: “Most of the descriptions of the victorious life do not match the reality of my own. Hyperbole, bloated rhetoric, and grandiose testimonies create the impression that once Jesus is acknowledged as Lord, the Christian life becomes a picnic on a green lawn; marriage blossoms into connubial bliss, physical health flourishes, acne disappears, sinking careers suddenly soar… The New Testament depicts another picture of the victorious life: Jesus on Calvary. The Biblical image of the victorious life reads more like the victorious limp.”

Who is your favorite fictional villain?

Harriet:  Perhaps my favorite fiction book is Lorna Doone, by R.D Blackmoore. Written in the early 1800’s, the story is set in England in the late 1700’s. It’s a bit of a challenge to read because of the old English used, but after a while, you get the hang of it. Muddling through the tricky old English wording is well worth it! The book is a classic in every way—plot, romance, and characters. The story’s villain, Carver Doone, is a great example of a fictional villain. Blackmoore did a great job of juxtaposing him to the hero, John Ridd. Of course, they vie for the hand of the leading lady, Lorna Doone. It’s a terrific read that I highly recommend.

Great villain! And lastly…

What project are you currently working on?

Harriet:  As is the norm for me, I am working on several things at the same time. I am always writing and freelancing nonfiction articles and devotions to a variety of publications. Sometimes I am under a deadline for assignments too, though that is not the case right now. My first two books were recently released; a seasonal devotional book and a Biblically based study of prayer. They are both nonfiction.

I am also in the editing stages of my first fiction manuscript. It is a character-driven novel based on my parent’s lives. My parents were foreign missionaries to the African nation of Nigeria. They met when my mom was in nursing school and my dad in medical school. My mother’s family was quite poor. She was the first in her family to graduate from high school. Her father dropped out of school to work in a textile mill after the third grade and her two older brothers did the same after sixth grade. Back then they did not have child labor laws. My father, on the other hand, was a medical doctor, as were his father and grandfather before him. He grew up vacationing in a family owned beach house while my mom grew up without electricity or indoor plumbing and drawing water from a well. She didn’t know what a vacation was. Her father, a widowed farmer, supported himself, his four children, and two old-maid aunts with what he could grow and sell on his farm and the little he and his sons brought home from the mill.

So there was a lot to draw from in writing this story. I have been a nonfiction writer since I began writing in 2009. But I have discovered that I absolutely love writing fiction! It feels like I am a child again playing pretend.

I am beginning to formulate ideas for my next nonfiction book too. It will be a follow-up to my recent release about prayer.

Thanks so much, Harriet, for taking the time to complete our 3 Questions.

More about Harriet Michael:  Born in Nigeria, West Africa, as the daughter of missionaries, Harriet Michael is a writer, gardener, wife of over 35 years, mother of four, and grandmother of one.

She holds a BS in nursing from West Virginia University but has discovered her passion for writing. Since her first published article in 2010, she now has over a hundred and fifty published articles and devotions.

Harriet is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Louisville Christian Writers. Her book, Prayer: It’s Not About You, a finalist in the 2011 Women of Faith book contest, is set for release in September 2015 by Pix-N-Pens Publishing Company.