Authors and Book Cover Creation

Creating a cover design is a fascinating process. My publisher provided a questionnaire for me to fill out. It gives the artist clues into my story world. Up until this point I had no idea what I wanted. The questions help get the creative juices flowing. The first few questions are basic: Title, author’s name. taglines, theme.

The next set of questions delves into specifics about the main character. What does your hero look like? Any distinguishing marks? Same questions for your heroine. This is where I get to give a clear description of the physical features of my characters. I had the option of adding photos of my ideas about the characters.

Who do my characters look like

The question about what actor or actress do you see playing them in a movie sent me to the internet to find photos. Did you know if you type in red-haired actresses with green eyes that you’ll find a large selection of photos? Evangeline’s hair is burgundy rather than carrot colored. I already had a picture of a model with burgundy hair but looking at more faces really helped narrow down an idea.

I have pictures of Tom Selleck, John Cusack and Sam Elliot all in cowboy garb that give me a feel for Jake. Evangeline looks a bit like Maureen O’Hara or Lori Loughlin (she’d have to dye her hair.)  I found a wonderful picture of Emma Stone. So I am adding photos of these actors to the form.

A fun exercise for you and your story, search the character description: cowboy, regency, blond soldier sees what comes up. If you’re a plotter and an outliner, you have probably already picked out your pictures before you started writing. What you want on the cover may be clearly define in your head. But, if you’re like me and lack artist know-how, you’ll be relying on the designer to bring your idea to reality. FYI: The publisher usually gets the final say on your cover. This is a good thing because they know what sells.

More details

I couldn’t find a picture of my ranch so I settled for writing a description. I got to choose whether I want people on the cover or a landscape. There is lots of room at the bottom of the form for more notes to further clarify.

Note all the covers of fellow-authors I’ve added to this post so you can get a better idea of cover design.

HerDeadlyInheritanceColor-2

Mystery Cover

 

Mercy Rains

Historical landscape cover

Genre and time period are important questions as well. Secrets & Charades is set in 1870s so costumes on the cover need to resemble the period. The hoop skirt was no longer in fashion but bustles were popular.

hand of adonai smaller

Fantasy Cover

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Police thriller/ fantasy cover

A fantasy cover might have someone dressed like Star Wars characters. The focus might be on an object that is key to the story line. Perhaps a space ship, a sword or a dragon take center stage in the story.

Comparing covers

There is a place on this form to add comparables. So, books with similar themes (remember that part in your proposal?) can now be used as examples. Those covers show what’s selling.

 

Not good ideas

If the hero is very tall, then he shouldn’t be the same height as the heroine on the cover. Unless of course she is very tall, too. I actually saw this on a cover. Until I read the story I didn’t realize the hero was well over six feet tall. Once I knew this, the cover was a bit disappointing.

If the story takes places in the winter in Florida, it will look different than winter in Alaska. That also goes for trees not native to the area. This will date me, but the movie Wayne’s World was supposed to take place in Aurora, Illinois. One scene in the movie had palm trees in the background. I suppose comedies can get away with that. Book covers not so much.

If your genre is horror you wouldn’t want a sunny sky.

A romance—unless it has vampires or some violent fantasy theme—is not going to have blood and gore on the cover.

Capturing emotion

The form asked me to describe the tone, mood, and attitude. One or two word descriptions can make a big difference in helping the designer get a taste of my fiction world. I had to google these terms to get a deeper understanding of the literary significance. I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer so I don’t always have a tone or mood in mind until my characters speak to me.

Defining the tone and mood can make a difference in a novel’s content so it should reflect on the cover. A romantic comedy design is going to look different from a romance with a broken-promise-restored theme. The same with a thriller with a sullen cast of characters versus one with a hopeful mood.

Photo sites give lots of options

You may prefer symbols or settings for your cover. My fellow-writer Gloria Doty has a modern-day cowboy romance series. She opted for boots and a Stetson on the cover of Bringing  a Cowboy Home. She wanted her readers to enjoy their own images of her characters. Photo websites have lots of these sorts of images.

51ZRZe74RBL

Publishers purchase the cover art and, if you self-publish, you’d do the same. Linda Yezak has a great cover for The Final Ride. She created it herself using pictures of a model she found online. She purchased the rights to use her likeness. This helped her create her cover.51jgIj4jqfL

Being sure your cover reflects your story means more sales. So, I am taking extra time to fill out this form. Hopefully the designer will get me. If the cover catches the reader’s eye, then they will pick it up. If you’re self-publishing, spend the money on a quality cover. I can’t wait to see what my cover will look like. I’ve been impressed with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas cover designs. The reveal of my design is some months away. But the process begins now.

The back cover is just as important as the front cover. I’ll talk about the process in the next post.

Anyone like to share their experience with cover designs?

 

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Why So Many Rounds of Edits After the Contract?

Today and in other posts until my book is published in March 2017 I thought I’d share the many behind the scenes activities that take place after the contract is signed. This is not a time to set back and relax. Oh no. Whether you publish traditionally or self-publish, there are many steps before you see your book on the shelf.

Rounds of edits

First, is edits. Even though my book was professionally edited before I submitted it, there are still things that need changing.

Pansy O'Hara Did you know that Margaret Mitchell called the heroine in Gone With The Wind, Pansy? The publishers didn’t like her name. So it was changed to Scarlett. And if you’ve read the book or seen the movie, she is Scarlett. The name Pansy doesn’t have the power and sensual premise.

 

For me, my first round of edits included rewriting a couple of scenes. I needed them to be from my main characters’ points of view not the minor characters. I actually found them more powerful after I was finished.

The first edit found typos and grammar errors that were missed  during my final rewrite. We found overused words and mannerisms. I liked Jake to run his fingers through his hair when he was frustrated, nervous or thinking. Well, needless to say it was a lot.

So, the editor’s job is to point those out so I can find new mannerisms. A repetitive mannerism can get on a reader’s nerves and pull them out of the story.

The second edit is to double-check what I fixed and find new stuff like character names interchanged. I recently read a book where the character’s name was Joel and his late brother was John. But in one scene the tagline John said was used. This was not a ghost story.  It should have been Joel. The editor may also question your research. And you may be asked to go back and fact check.

There are two more edits after that. Why so many? You don’t want a reader to review your typos on Amazon.

Beta Readers

Next, Beta Readers read through looking for typos and anything that might take the reader out of the story. I’ve had the pleasure of being a Beta Reader. You receive a PDF file of the book and open another document to record any boo boos you find. I understand you can have as many as 30 Beta Readers. This way, any blaring problems are fixed as well as the miniscule ones.

There will be one more round of Beta Readers. They might receive an Author review copy or an e-book version to read. In the new format other mistakes are found. The goal is a really clean copy. The reputation of the publisher is on the line along with yours.

Read it again

Here is the key for you as a writer. Every time you receive edits. Read. Read the sentence being edited. The paragraph. The page. The chapter. The whole novel. Read as much as you need to be sure the change flows. Read enough to ensure the edits have not changed the story.

You are the author and not every edit is the right choice. Please do accept typos, misplaced names. POV shifts, things like that. But there are other things you might say no to.  If someone felt a scene needed more sensory beats. The smell of the hot asphalt. The chirping of a robin. The snoring of the old man. You are the one who decides if that would add or distract from your story.

Author Review Copies

By the time you get to the second set of Beta Readers there’s very little to be pointed out. Possibly nothing at all. These readers are good candidates for pre-release book reviews.

Some publishers might not edit as thoroughly. They might only use one round of Beta Readers. I don’t know that there is a set formula. And if you self-publish you are going to have to find your own Beta Readers.These should be people who notice details and grammar errors.

Beware of editors who go through a minimal of steps. A wonderful story can be ruined by those little grammar, spelling and POV shift errors. I’ve seen them in printed copy of wonderful books. An e-book can be fixed. But a paper copy will hold on to those errors until a new print run. Not what you want at all.

In between receiving your edits to work on, you will be doing a lot of other things. Next post I’ll tell you what I learned about cover design.

What has been your editing experience?

 

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A Visit with Author Lynn Cornell

Lynn Cornell-2I am so excited to welcome my friend and fellow member of my Word Weaver Aurora group to my blog today. He has been a faithful member and participant since our critique group formed. His insights have been so helpful. Now it’s my turn to pay it forward.

Lynn Cornell released his first novel last month. The Color of Redemption tackles racism from a different perspective. I so enjoyed reading the story of Katie Smith and her journey toward forgiveness.

Here is the back cover blurb.

Raising her family in the turbulent ‘60s in a segregated rural Alabama town, Katie Parker understood the ugliness of racism and Jim Crow all too well. Her farm, which she shared with her activist husband, became her oasis, her retreat. Here, she had control. Here, she could witness God’s handiwork in the beauty of the land. Here, she was at peace. But it was a peace soon to be shattered. After a devastating and horrible event, Katie moves with three of her four children to a relative’s house in a majority-white suburb of Los Angeles. Settling in, she was confident she had escaped the horrors of her hometown. But the memory of that horrible event, and the animosity and hatred it stirred in her, were not easily shaken. Though she escaped a segregated Southern town, racism and intolerance were not easily left behind. Oddly enough, it was her granddaughter’s addiction to drugs that led Katie on a path causing her to confront her fears and prejudices and face head-on the past that she thought she had left behind. Katie’s journey will introduce this generation to the ugly racism of the sixties and confront the racial realities that exist in the church today. The Color of Redemption will show readers how to break down these walls that separate Christians and deal with racial prejudice, not from a civil rights perspective, but a Christian world view dictated by the Bible.

 

I love that you wrote this in first person. Following the story from Katie’s perspective added so much depth. I haven’t read a story like this and so I want to start out by asking:  Why this book?

I have been a Christian since 1978. I’ve been a part of all black churches and all white churches (my presence at white churches excluded). I’ve found it troubling that the same racial feelings and opinions that exists in America exists in both churches. The Color of Redemption shows how Christians should view and resolve racial issues.

How did you research to get the clothing right? The setting? And dialect?

As a young boy, I spent summers in a small southern town and worked cotton fields to buy my school clothes. The color divide was marked by railroad tracks dividing the white side of town from the black side of town. I also lived in Los Angeles and found the racial divide marked not by railroad tracks, but by area of the city or suburb.

Who coached you on how a woman talks and thinks. You really nailed it.

That’s funny because I just picture in my mind how women I know would speak and react to situations. Of course, I get feedback from writer’s group, i.e. you, and I’ll ask my wife and daughter how something sounds.

I’ve heard you share your journey to publication. So, encourage my readers by answering these two important questions

 How long did it take you to get it published?

About ten years

What were some of the obstacles?

I think the biggest obstacle was learning how to write. I had written an entire first draft of COR and didn’t know what things like point of view or show and not tell were. Once I had taken the time to learn the craft of writing, the story came together and I was, with confidence, able to seek publishing.  I think some publishers were hesitant to tackle the issue of race. I had to have patience to find the publisher who was willing to publish my book.

We always end the journey in a better place than we began. Share some of the things you learned along the way?

The most significant thing I learned is Christians who view life through a racial prism fail to see the wonderful work of the cross. That’s the cure of racism.

What words of wisdom would you pass on to newbie writers?

I can’t say this enough, learn the craft of writing. Take the time to hone your skills. Then learn the publishing business, and yes, it is a business. With those two things, you’ll have confidence as a writer and in what you’ve written.

Lynn, tell us about your upcoming projects.

Currently I’m working on two novels, A Most Precious Pearl which tells the story of an immoral woman who discovers she is God’s pearl. In God’s Honor tells the story of an Iranian secret police woman who comes to faith in opposition to her strong Muslim tradition.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope everyone takes to heart your advice to learn the craft. And I hope my readers will take the time to purchase this thought-provoking, timely story.  Click here.

 Color of Redemption

Lynn’s Bio:

Lynn Cornell has been a Christian since 1978 and started writing in his forties, at the request of his wife. He’s currently working on three novels and two non-fictions books. Lynn has completed a children’s book, Obi’s Three Nails and four screenplays. His screenplay Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol received honorable mention in the Writer’s Digest competition.  The Color of Redemption was a semi-finalist in the Christian Writer’s Guild Operation First Novel contest. He is a member of Word Weavers.When not writing, he enjoys riding his bike. He’s been married to his wife, Beverly for twenty-three years and has five adult children and thirteen grandchildren. Visit him on Facebook.

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Writing For The Reader’s Enjoyment

woman reading book

Write so your reader keeps following you.

I’ve always heard you should write for your readers. Which seems reasonable. After all we want them to buy our books. Let me share how I understand what writing for your readers implies.

Oftentimes our rough drafts are full of lots of stuff.  All the things we want to say about everything.  All the details we know about each character, every room, all the historical data. EVERYTHING! Hopefully, during your numerous rewrites most of this wonderful stuff will be deleted. At least they should.

You don’t agree.

You say the details are important. Depends on the details.

Without the details who will understand the complexities of the heart surgery our hero’s mother is going through. Even though the hero’s mother never makes an appearance in the book.

An in-depth description of the room the character walks through and never returns to again.

Telling the reader what the villain is thinking while we are writing from the hero’s point of view.

Determine what details carry the story. The character’s obsession over having a heart attack. The villain telling the hero an important fact so the reader can piece together the clues along with the hero. Less is more is the adage for writers to cling to as they try to keep the reader engaged.

Real people in our real world

There are real world examples to justify even more why we write to the reader.

We all have at least one friend, relative or even our spouse who over explain things. You know what I mean. They can’t just tell you they got this great deal on bananas at the store. They tell you about all the other fruit too. Or you ask their opinion on which paint is best for interior painting and you get the history of the creation of paint.

Then there’s the people (all of us can talk like this when we’re excited.) They tell us every detail about an incident and then circle back around and tell us over again. Maybe adding a detail.

Of course, none of us has ever written like this. Ahem.

The readers follow the characters

Readers remember what they read in a previous chapter. We don’t need to repeat every detail when a new character enters the scene. This isn’t real life it’s fiction.

So, if your characters are cops and they are investigating a crime, when the chief enters- they fill him in. That’s the sentence.

Unless there is information we haven’t told the reader about the crime we don’t need to restate it. The readers go everywhere with our characters so we don’t really tell it like we would in real life.

Keep dialogue on point

Small talk unless it tells the reader something about the character should not exist. So don’t have your character pick up the phone, say hello, and chat about trivial things for a page. In our real world we might spend an hour visiting with a friend before getting to the point. But our readers aren’t that patient. They want to find out what happens next.

TwainKeep your vocabulary engaging yet simple

Mark Twain said “Why use a five-dollar word when a fifty cent word will do.”

Unless you are writing to academia or a technical book, keep your words simple.

If a reader has to reach for the dictionary, you’ve lost them. Be sure the word can be understood within a sentence. And even then is there a simpler more descriptive word. A fancy word that no one knows does not impress a reader. Enough of those in your work and they will stop reading.

Avoid adjectives

We aren’t writing for our English teachers. Adjectives are not the readers friend.

“Mary was miserably silent.” The sentence tells the reader nothing.

They want to experience the silence.

“Mary sat in the hard back chair, her lips flexing between a pout and a straight line. Tears fought for space on her cheek.”

This tells the reader so much more. They can feel her misery.

How do your characters talk?

Does your dialogue for a teen or child sound like them or their parents?

“Why, Charlotte, you should be ashamed of yourself.”

Instead: “Char, you’re so messed up.”

Give them flaws

As much as we want our heroes and heroine to be the pillar of perfection. Show their flaws. This gives the reader hope. Following the story of a woman fighting depression and winning might encourage a reader to get help.

A heroine who always says and does the right things is not only unrealistic, it’s boring. The reader can’t relate to perfection. Because our readers are human.

Non-fiction writers need to reach the heart

Even when writing non-fiction, share your ideas so the reader can relate without pointing fingers at them.

Avoid writing: you should…If you had or your problem….

Rather, say I have found. Research shows.

Share a story from your own life illustrating the point without sounding arrogant.

check list-tinyA check list

My challenge to all of us. Go through your manuscripts while you’re editing and before submission and ask yourself if you are getting to the heart of your reader.

Am I preaching or encouraging.

Does my character’s armor have some tarnish?

Do my ten steps to…whatever…have an ah ha moment.

Do I need to explain the history of the zipper to establish a time period?

Does this wonderful scene with my secondary characters shopping really move the story along?

We want our books to be passed around, shared and recommended and it will only happen when we focus on the readers and not ourselves.

 

What revelations have you come to understand about writing to the readers? Share in the comments. I’d love to hear it.

 

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Computer Meltdown-Oh No!

computer meltdownThis past week my sweet hubby spent days trying to rescue my computer from meltdown. The Microsoft tech my husband spoke with on the third day really knew his stuff and remotely fixed everything. Hurrah.

The lesson learned. Don’t put off repairs. My computer was acting up and I kept putting off taking it in for cleaning, repairs, whatever it needed. After all, I had to write. Edits, proposals, blog posts—the list goes on. They were all due soon.

Here are the horrendous scenarios

It kept acting up. Widows 10 kept trying to load. Temporary crash while doing a proposal. Recovered the proposal, sent it off. Windows 10 tried to load again. Loaded Windows 10. Big Mess. Hubby talked to computer geek. Followed suggestions. Widows 10 installed. Now no Word program. No camera and no audio. Can’t write. Can’t do online critiques. Great! Hubby went back to the cyber drawing board and called Microsoft a few times. Now all is restored. At least where Microsoft 365 is concerned.

And then

Hub reinstalled Scrivener but I have to find the docs to place back in program. That’s where I construct my stories and rearrange scenes, outline ideas. In other words, my next novel creations are in their infancy somewhere in my pc.

You know it will happen

And did I mention my editor sent my MS to me for some additional edits when I had no Word program? Those are the things writer’s nightmares are made of. If not for my phone and mini tablet, I would have been unable to access my emails and send a note to my editor.

 broken computerBiggest lesson

My computer is important to my writing career. I must invest in programs, updates and even be willing to replace it sooner than later. I’d backed up my novel and proposals on a stick. But all my other stuff would have been lost if things had gotten worse. Microsoft has a cloud storage I’ll be using with this new version. Save your work in more than one place. A stick, the cloud, and external hard drive. Eva Marie Everson emails her latest draft to herself every day. If something happened to her computer she has a copy that can easily be restored.

Don’t put off keeping your PC in good working order. Runners don’t wear ratty tennis shoes. Cyclist don’t ride bikes with bent wheels. Dog groomers have their scissors and styling blades sharpened often. And painters don’t use rickety ladders.  If you are serious about your wordsmithing keep your equipment in good shape.

It won’t be long and docx will be the only acceptable format for publishers. They move with technology so we must as well. Keep your receipts and turn them into your tax preparer. Get an external hard drive, sticks, and subscribe to a cloud storage space. Don’t be like others we’ve all heard about who lost their complete manuscript due to a computer malfunction. The latest version of Word saves your work even when your power dies or you have a temporary crash. But if your computer has to be wiped because of a virus that has shut ‘er down, you may be frantically trying to recreate your masterpiece from memory.

How do you back up your documents and keep your work protected? Leave a comment inquiring minds want to know. 

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Interview with 2016 Editor’s Choice Award Winner: Jenna Fernandez

 

Jenna group photo

Here I am with Jenna Fernandez 2016 Editor’s Choice Award winner, Editor and presenter of the award, Rowena Kuo and past winner Author John Turney.

I’m welcoming Jenna Fernandez to my blog today. She is the 2016 winner of the Editor’s Choice Award. The award is for perseverance and potential. Rowena Kuo of Lighthouse of the Carolinas Publishing presents the award to unpublished authors who show these two character traits in pursuing publication.  The prize is an editor/mentor to help polish your manuscript. I won this award in 2014 and it changed my life. Now it’s going to do the same for Jenna. 

Congratulations my friend. Now that the dust has settled how are you feeling as an award winner?

Grateful. This award is both an honor and an opportunity. I see it as an open door to getting the help I need to become a better writer, and to get my manuscript to where it needs to be for publication.

Jenna, I know you almost didn’t attend Write to Publish. You considered quitting writing altogether. Why quit? And what changed your mind?

I’ve been writing for many years, yet see little fruit from my labors. Sometimes it’s hard to discern whether the lack of fruit means to continue persevering as a farmer, planting seeds until the time of harvest, or whether it means the season is just not right. While I know we often won’t see the impact of our words until the other side of heaven, I wondered if it was time to let go of writing and focus more intently on other things I’ve been called to.

The fact that I couldn’t stop writing assured me this IS what I’ve been called to do. Even if one person is touched by what I write, it’s worth it. I don’t write for the sake of results, but because I love writing, it’s a calling that won’t leave me, and there is at least one person out there who will benefit from what I have to say.

How do you juggle your writing with life?

I’ve learned that the best writing is life-inspired writing. There was a time when I thought that the life of a writer involved only sitting at a desk with an awe-inspiring view and typing away. Instead, the writer’s life involves a lot of living in between writing. Words that most connect with people are words that have been lived out first.

The more I let go of the notion that I’ll spend the bulk of my day writing, the more relevant my writing becomes. I’m able to write from experience, not just theory. As a result, much of my best writing comes after 9pm until well after midnight, when the kids are in bed, I’ve lived a full day, and I have focused time to weave life into words.

How do you feel about winning this award?

More than anything, I see the reality of the journey that lies ahead. I’ve worked hard until this point, and that won’t change. The difference now is I have an editor with an eye for excellence mentoring me along the way, helping me to hone my craft.

The key words related to this award are “perseverance and potential.” I didn’t come to the conference as a complete package—the editor’s dream. My writing is not perfect, but it has potential. My work is not finished, it’s only begun, and it will require much perseverance.

Many writers imagine they’ll hand their work to an editor to the tune of this reply, “This is exactly what I’m looking for! It’s what the world’s been waiting for—the epitome of perfection. I wouldn’t change a thing.” They think the writing life comes without labor. This award is more of a reality check, a humbling reminder that I haven’t arrived as an author. But God knows he’s called me, he’s the one who’s given me the potential, and because of this I’m willing to work hard to bring forth the best result.

What do you hope to gain from the mentoring and editing?

I’m looking forward to gleaning from the wisdom of someone who’s walked before me in this arena. We writers often like to work alone, but the best work requires humbly recognizing our need for help. It’s a relief to know there will be an expert set of eyes reviewing my manuscript, ensuring the story is at it’s best and the message speaks through the characters in an honest way. And I know I’ll apply what I learn from this experience to everything I write in the years to come.

Tell us about your manuscript, City of No Return?

City of No Return is a modern-day exodus story set against the backdrop of human trafficking. It tells the story of Tasha, a teenage girl on death row for a crime she can’t remember committing. Believing death is her only escape from slavery, Tasha is willing to face the punishment regardless of her uncertainty of guilt. But when memories from her past start to surface, she begins to wonder whether her life is worth fighting for.

What prompted you to write it?

I was involved in an inner city ministry for fourteen years, and we worked to help people find freedom from addiction, gang violence, prostitution, and other life-controlling habits by sharing the good news of forgiveness, healing, and redemption in Jesus Christ. Story is among the most powerful means of helping people to see themselves and their circumstances for what they are. City of No Return was originally a musical drama I wrote to communicate the easter story in the language of those we were working with. It’s a parable of our own bondage and the power of Christ to set us free.

My husband encouraged me to turn the script into a novel. I’ve been working on it since, hoping it can be a tool to raise awareness on the reality of modern slavery and speak hope to its victims.

Do you have any words of wisdom for other struggling writers?

Your most important words are those written for one. Don’t get caught up in the idea that fame equals success. You’re most successful when you’re obedient to God, writing the words he has you to write, even if that means only one person will benefit. The best words are those written in obscurity, drawn from the life you’ve lived, not from theory of what life would be if only you’d lived as much as you write. And don’t give up if you don’t see fruit right away. If you can’t stop writing, chances are you’re a writer, even if you don’t see the fruit until the other side of heaven.

AuthorPic

More about Jenna

When I was a kid I asked my dad to build me an airplane. Every day after I woke up fully anticipating my bright orange, red-striped 747 would be waiting for me in the small field outside our house. You can imagine my disappointment when my dad came home with an armload of boxes, certain he’d appease my childhood dreams with a cardboard, duct-taped jet.

My mom thought my imagination would be better suited for authorship than aviation. So I started writing stories, poems, songs, and inspirational articles, and I haven’t stopped since.

I’m older now and, I hope, wiser. Years of working in the inner-city tempered my imagination with a hefty dose of reality. Marriage, parenting, and teaching have given me an overflow of inspiration. And an endless stream of trials and disappointments have added fuel to my writing fire.

Above all, my greatest source of motivation comes from knowing God has given me life and breath, that he’s loved me and saved me for a purpose greater than my own.

Visit her blog at https://thislifeandbeyondblog.wordpress.com/ or friend her on Facebook.

 

Jenna,  I’ve enjoyed learning about your writing journey so far. I’m sure you’ve inspired my readers. I look forward to reading your book. Thanks so much for stopping by to share your story.

 

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Busting The Writer Stereotype

 

When you think of an author which one of these photos fits the stereotype?

Here’s an interesting tidbit from my many years of attending writers’ conferences. Because I don’t fit the normal stereotype of an introverted shy writer, I talk to people. Complete strangers get my attention. I’ve discovered one interesting fact.

We are not cut from the same mold.

Not everyone who is a writer has been creating stories since they were able to pick up a crayon. Another myth busted.

During the course of these conversations with writers, I’ve discovered a few interesting categories.

  • The messengers.

They have one passion. It might be loving God, prayer, abuse, disabilities or a host of other topics. Everything they write focuses on that message. If it’s articles or books, the core theme remains the same. They felt called to share their heart through the written word.

  • The degreed.

These writers have BA, MA or PHDs. Not necessarily in writing or even English. Often they are retired. However, young college students or new graduates are part of this group. Writing for this group is either a new direction or a lifelong dream.

  • Lifelong learner.

Like me, we only have a high school diploma, but we educated ourselves over time and continued to learn what we don’t know about writing well.

  • Underachievers

This group were poor students in school, and English class was not their friend. A few admit to graduating in the bottom ten percent in college. Others only have a GED.

  • Accidental 

Illness or unemployement gave some wouldbe wrtiers time on their hands. So, they gave it a try.

  • Second language.

I’m always impressed when I meet writers who’ve mastered English and are able to articulate well on paper. Their determination to get it right is admirable.

This is not an exhaustive list.

No comparing

The point is there is no formula of what qualifies someone to take on writing as a career. Our differences give voice to our writing. Each individual journey has the same destination: publication. Whether it takes us a day or years to reach publication, it tastes as sweet.

Don’t fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others on the same journey. Because I never went to college, it’s easy to let tendrils of inferiority surround my self-esteem when in the presence of the degreed. Then I remind myself we’re two different breeds of wordsmiths, and I enjoy their company and our exchange of ideas.

The best place to look when you get a bit discouraged is your heart. It’s not about fitting into the perfect stereotypical mold. It’s not about degrees or loving English. It’s not even about being a shy introvert who loves being alone with words. Rather, it’s the call you feel on your heart. The need to put words on paper even if they aren’t very good. The passion to change lives. And the willingness to persevere.

I’m sure you’ve figured out the photos are all writer friends of mine. Not a stereotype among them.

Tell me about your writing journey. I’d love to hear about it.

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