Turn Write Series with Guest Edie Melson

Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer, and has a popular writing blog, The Write Conversation. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. She’s also a regular contributor to Novel Rocket, a Writer’s Digest pick for top writing websites, and the Social Media coach for My Book Therapy.

She currently has two books available, the best selling eBook, Social Media Marketing for Writers, and her latest project, a devotional for those with family members in the military, Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle. Married 30 years to her high school sweetheart, Kirk, they have raised three sons.

Writing is All About the Relationship and so is Social Networking

When I first got involved with social networking, my reasons were—get my name out and prove to the gatekeepers (editors/agents) I was publishable. I never considered interacting with other writers to be anything other than a side benefit. After all, writing is primarily a solitary pursuit, right? Wrong.

That is a popular, but entirely false, assumption. Writing for publication is an endeavor built on forging relationships. And those relationships can ultimately determine your success or failure in the writing industry. Here’s a list of those relationships.

  • Between you and other writers.
  • Between you and the reader.
  • Between the reader and the subject or characters.
  • Between you and the editor.
  • Between you and your agent.

I listed the relationship between writers first, because surprisingly, it’s often the most vital in your writing life. The actual act of putting words on paper is a solitary act and because of that it’s easy to lose perspective. Writing in a vacuum can give us a false sense of whether or not we’re effective in our endeavor. We either wind up thinking we’re a genius or sink into the depths of despair because we can’t string two coherent sentences together. Rarely is either perspective accurate.

Let me add a word of caution here. You may be tempted, like I was at first, to insert friends and family into this role. Unless they’re also writers this dynamic just doesn’t work. They’ll unwittingly encourage you when you need a swift kick in the pants and administer the kick in the pants when you need encouragement. We need others in our profession to give us feedback, keep us grounded and provide encouragement. Social Networking is a great way to find these people.

The most valuable relationships I’ve developed through the years have come from those I’ve met through two avenues, at conferences and online through blogs, Facebook and Twitter. My critique partner and I met at a writers conference in another state—and we live only two miles apart. Several of my biggest encouragers came from meeting each other through another friend’s blog. My mentors, my colleagues and yes, even many of my editors have come from those relationships.

That’s an important fact to remember. People move around in this business, the writer whose blog you comment on today, may end up as your editor in ten years time.

So what steps can you take to build these online relationships? Here are my suggestions:

  • Answer comments on your blog/Facebook page/Twitter feed.
  • Comment on other writers’ sites.
  • Offer something of value.

Many new to the social media world wonder how they can offer anything of value online. Here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Promote someone else—this gives you credibility with your audience. Don’t be afraid of the competition. It may seem counterintuitive, but the relationships you build with others who offer similar products or services can advance both of you.
  • Celebrate another’s success—we all need to know success is possible. By sharing someone else’s achievement it encourages them, as well as others who may wonder if anyone ever succeeds.
  • Don’t waste people’s time just to get your name out there. Make certain that what you talk about online has value. (see the points above)
  • Keep it positive. Don’t ever forget that what you say online may outlast you. Take it from someone who knows—don’t say anything negative about a person, product or service—ever.
  • Don’t be a Social Media Hog. Translated this means keep yourself to no more than a couple of Facebook or Twitter updates in a row. Otherwise you’ll highjack the social media stream.

These tips will help you begin relationships that will last throughout your writing journey. Don’t wait to get started—introduce yourself—I can hardly wait to meet you!

#2 Every Writer Must Have a Well

By Elaine Baldwin| @elainehbaldwin

#2 Every Writer Must Have a Well!

In other words every writer must have more words than they will ever use in print stored in their brain. This might seem like a “Dah” statement, but I’ve met individuals who say they want to write, but when asked what they read their answers are limited to the genre in which they write.

I believe this kind of one dimensional reading habits results in one dimensional writing.

The best of the best writers; the ones we want to emulate, are ravenous readers. If they aren’t writing, they are reading…everything.

For the Christian writer, their number one book resource is the Bible which helps them keep the main thing, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the main thing. Writers like…

Francine Rivers http://francinerivers.com/blog/problem-womens-magazines

Bodie and Brock Thoene  http://www.thoenebooks.com/blog.asp?post=0&per=Jul2012&id=670

Mike Duran  http://mikeduran.com/2012/07/woody-allen-the-honest-atheist/

Morgan L. Busse   www.morganlbusse.com

…to name just a few, keep their Christian worldview as the foundation for their writing. And while they are all committed to their genre, their reading material takes a wider sweep including non-fiction.

I am convinced the broader our circle of reading material, the deeper our well of words which leads to more relevant writing.

That doesn’t mean we have to read what we don’t like or is offensive. I only suggest we poke our heads out of the wells of our chosen genre once in a while. This stretches our intellectual and emotional muscles and that’s a good for us and for our readers.

Any Patriots in Your Story?

Welcome to the Thursday edition of One Another Living Blog Circuit.

Turn Write Series.

In this series we will share writing tips and resources for writers both fiction and non-fiction, published and yet to be published.

Today we continue our July 4th week celebration with a discussion on patriots and their influence in our stories.

At first glance this topic may only seem appropriate for those who write about wars and revolutions. But I’m thinking every good novel needs at least one patriot. Before you write me off, maybe literally, let’s look at the definition of patriot and what one might look like in Christian fiction.

According to Dictionary.com a patriot is:

1. a person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.
Using this definition I am indeed a patriot to the United States of America. I love America. I support America and with more than just my taxes. I defend my country; not with a gun on a Marine front line, but with my pen. I do these things with great devotion. So, if I were a character in a novel part of my point of view would be my patriotism.
I would venture to say there are more characters in our stories that have patriotic tendencies than we even realize. For instance in C. S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia” the children were all patriots to their native England. In fact, Peter was frustrated  with returning to the real world because he wasn’t old enough to join in the fight against the Germans and show his patriotism as he did in Narnia. Of course, he wasn’t at first a patriot or loyal to Narnia. Lucy was the first to align herself and be devoted to Narnia and more importantly to Aslan.
This is in fact a beautiful picture of born again believers (One Anothers) in real life and in our stories. I am a patriot of the United States, but far more important is my allegiance to the King of Kings. Aren’t we told in the Bible to fight the good fight, that we are at war with the Devil and that we should put on the whole armor of God.
In Christian fiction most of our protagonists either start out as followers of Jesus or they come to faith somewhere in the story. This is true whether it is overtly described in genres such as Christian Romance and Biblical Fiction or if it is furtively styled in works like Lewis’ “Chronicles”; Christian Speculative Fiction. In either case, if our characters are Christians then they have the foundation to be patriots; not of this world or your imagined world, but of Jesus and our “home” with Him.
If my premise is correct, then these characters should be developed in their love for Christ, in their support of His cause, in defense of His Gospel and in devotion of His grace and mercy. They are, indeed, patriots of God’s Kingdom.
The second definition of patriot is equally compelling to our novel characters.
2. a person who regards himself or herself as a defender, especially of individual rights, against presumed interference by the federal government.
What were the Daughters of Eve and Sons of Adam defending against in Narnia? Answer: The evil, interfering regime of the White Witch who ruled with an icy grip and denounced individual rights. Any of your  characters having similar struggles in your story? I know mine are. And I better be pulling my reader into their patriotic viewpoint which will no doubt propel them into crisis’ of mind and heart.
Patriotism is a good thing! Not only in the United States of America, but also in our worlds of fiction and fantasy.