Writing Tip & Prompt: Take a Page out of Your Favorite Book

On Fridays, we like to share writing tips and tricks with our readers. We hope this section will encourage and inspire you to continually improve as a writer.

Writing Tip –Take a Page out of Your Favorite Book

Study and write out notes using your favorite book or a writer you admire. Flip through the first 50 or so pages and jot down the length, order and number of scenes. Pay attention to writing techniques and the details involved in their successful execution. Break down character point of view and dialogue. Summarize your findings. You will be amazed at your observations and what you can apply towards your own writing skills.

Writing Prompt – Avoid Repetition

Strong prose is a matter of practice and also a conscious awareness of the words you place on the page. For a steady flow that will keep your readers reading, add variation to your words. A repeat of words will grow tiring and give the impression of reading in circles. Avoid word repetition to ensure your readers feel the movement of your story.  Write a short story or the next scene in your novel and focus on adding variation to your words.

Writing During the Holidays

Our writing is thankful for the holidays, but not because we deem a holiday the excuse we’ve been looking for to put our thoughts to rest. Quite the contrary. Such days are full of life — bursting with color.

During the holidays, personality surrounds you, and the uplifting tone has a way of re-centering your spirit — a refreshed appreciation for the simplicities of life. The holidays serve as a  reminder for what truly matters. And the excitement lies within the characters (family and friends) and the heart of their stories.

Writers have been known to hop up amidst conversation and burrow to the corner of the room, even if for only a few minutes. Writers are taking notes — jotting tidbits of thought and inspiration from the intricacies of these personalities they adore so much (for both their complexities and complimenting attributes).

These little notes may not make up a complete character in their developing story, but may contribute to or spread across the motions of many of their characters. Or perhaps a word or phrase strikes an idea for a new storyline or twist to their current plot.

Our point is, home is your comfort zone — a place where inspiration flows easily and in its purest form. And so, this holiday, as you sit among the company of family and friends, really listen and look…feel. Inspiration…it’s all around you.

Writing Tip & Prompt: Know your Characters

On Fridays, we like to share writing tips and tricks with our readers. We hope this section will encourage and inspire you to continually improve as a writer.

Writing Tip – Know your Characters

Sometimes, when you get an idea for a story you just want to dive in and start writing without doing any planning. One thing that will help you in your writing is to know the characters you are writing about. Before you start writing your story, try writing down everything you can about a character so that you know their interests, background, personality, etc. Whether you actually use all of that information in your story or not, it will help you when it comes time to writing. Writing a scene with the characters will be a little easier because you really have a sense of who they are as opposed to what they are doing in that specific instance.

Writing Prompt – The Reason for the Season

The Christmas season is a season that brightens everyone’s mood. There is something magical about this time of year that seems to make everyone happier while they anxiously await the day of Christ’s birth. People do things, small and large, to help others have a nice Christmas; we find it important that everyone has a nice Christmas. Everyone celebrates this special holy day with their own traditions. What does your family do to celebrate Christmas, and what does it mean for you? Use your family beliefs and traditions to write a Christmas themed short story to share the meaning of Christmas with others.

What a Year!

It’s that time of year when many of us tend to look back and think of what has happened and what we have accomplished. For WestBow Press, Thomas Nelson and book publishing in general, 2012 has been a year of change and growth.

WestBow Press continues to help a record number of aspiring authors fulfill their dreams of publishing their books. We launched several new services including book signings at Women of Faith conferences, and book signing and stocking packages with Berean Christian Stores. The winner of the second Women of Faith Writing Contest was acquired by a traditional publisher shortly after being announced as the winner, and William Sirls’ book, The Reason, was acquired by Thomas Nelson and has sold nearly 30,000 copies since it was released in September. Perfectly Unique, by Annie Downs was acquired by Zondervan and the new edition has consistently ranked in the top 15,000 on Amazon.

Thomas Nelson’s acquisition by HarperCollins was finalized in July, and HarperCollins Christian Publishing was formed by combining Nelson and Zondervan shortly thereafter. Nelson CEO Mark Schoenwald was named CEO of the combined operation, and all the product groups within the imprints continue to operate as distinct entities with a healthy level of in-house competition. Sales of Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young have continued to gather steam as sales of Heaven Is For Real, by Todd Burpo have slowed.

The book publishing industry continues to experience dramatic changes driven by consolidation and the impact of e-books, online retailing and self-publishing. Pearson, Penguin’s parent company, acquired Author Solutions (Thomas Nelson’s partner in its WestBow Press division), and now Random House and Penguin have announced plans to merge.

This year several new self-publishing ventures were launched. The biggest titles of the year, the Shades of Grey series, emerged from self-publishing. E-books, while no longer growing at a triple-digit pace, are up nearly 50 percent, year to date. E-books also make up over 30 percent of printed trade book sales, which have also grown by over 6 percent.

What events from the past year had the biggest impact on publishing from your perspective—and what do you think will be the big events during 2013?


Writing Tip & Prompt: Focus on the Narrative

On Fridays, we like to share writing tips and tricks with our readers. We hope this section will encourage and inspire you to continually improve as a writer.

Writing Tip – Focus on the Narrative

Improve your author voice by watching movies. Movies cram as much narrative, spoken and unspoken, into a frame as possible. Pay close attention to the unspoken elements. Look for what is happening in the frame overall through the use of colors, set design and lighting. The invisible art of cinema wordlessly evokes emotion and is the voice of the scene or film. Try applying the tonal techniques of master filmmakers to your writing. If you can do that, you’ll control the invisible, yet critical, art of emotionally moving people.

Writing Prompt – Take Notes from a Movie

Put a DVD in your DVD player, turn the volume completely down and take notes while you watch. You might want to try it with a movie you are familiar with and already know the underlying tone so that you are able to pay close attention to the details that help create it. Or, adventurously try a new movie and feel your way through each scene. Either way, write the unspoken elements that contribute to the overall tone of each scene as you watch it. Look for patterns. When the movie is over, go back to your latest scene and refresh it using some of your newly discovered special effects.


Q&A with Dr. Cregg Chandler, WestBow Press Author and Retired Air Force Chaplain

Dr. Cregg Chandler is a retired Air Force chaplain who has done extensive research on what he refers to as an ethical epidemic in the military: fidelity. Chandler recently published his book, A Separation Survival Guide for Military Couples, on said topic and was featured on CBS This Morning in mid November.

Here we dive a little deeper into his book, what inspired him to research such a sensitive subject and how he successfully markets his work in the competitive book industry.

WestBow Press: What made you interested in learning more about the infidelity issues and concerns many military couples face?

Cregg Chandler: While completing my doctoral research, “Addressing the Issues of Family Separation,” I considered the many concerns that couples were dealing with.  I wanted to understand how well the military was addressing and assisting couples in those areas. In my research, the military was addressing and assisting in the areas of re-integration, finances, communication, parenting, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, marriage enrichment, relationship issues and other areas. 

While interviewing professionals, these concerns were discussed, however infidelity surfaced as a major concern for military couples. I’d observed and was aware that infidelity existed, however it appeared that it had escalated over the past 10 years.  This is when I began to focus my attention more on the issue of infidelity.  I saw it as an area that was not fully addressed extensively.

WBP: You did some extensive research for your book. How did you stay motivated to reach your goal of seeing your book published?

CC: I stayed motivated by continually asking God for His guidance in the process. When I felt like giving up, I would receive encouragement through a dream, vision, scripture or written inspirations to inspire me to keep going. I also utilized the advice and encouragement from my academic advisors, family and friends. I continued to see marriages fail due to the demise of the issues written about in my book.  I saw it happening to people nationally, locally and most notably to people that I knew. I saw it as a major problem to be solved.

WBP: Can you share a few tips from your book for military couples struggling to overcome concern about infidelity? 

CC: For the first tip, I encourage couples not to create undue stress concerning whether their spouse is being unfaithful if there is no obvious evidence, because they are already facing the many challenges that military couples experience.

Another tip is to take careful measures to insure that they are not participating in activities that would jeopardize their relationship. This would include disassociation with relationships, environments or social media connections that would come between them. 

The third tip would be to seek out books, principles, marriage enrichment activities and experiences that would bolster their relationship. 

The fourth would be to take time to understand themselves and to understand their spouse in the areas of their needs and their commitment to each other.

WBP: Why did you decide to publish your book?

CC: Actually, I was thrilled to have completed my doctoral work.  I was ready for a break and then return to full-time ministry. After a couple of months, I had a dream regarding my notebook calendar, a black notebook and my research compilation sitting on a table. In the dream, my professor said, “Now what are you going to do with the work that you’ve accomplished?” When I awoke, I knew the answer.

After all the research and findings that I’d accomplished, I understood the following concept:  What good would it be to have my work sit in the reference library at the University, online at the dissertation libraries, at home on my bookshelf and not be made available to assist couples in circumventing pain and becoming successful in their marriage. I understood that God wanted me to pursue with publishing the book.

WBP: You were recently featured on CBS This Morning. Do you have any advice for new authors struggling to garner media attention for their book’s message?

CC: Utilize the resources available through WestBow Press and their affiliates. Make use of one’s profession, career, organization or affiliations as a platform to attract media attention.  Another way is by networking through individuals or sources that are connected to media. If one has the skills and ability, connect directly to the media sources.  I don’t see how I would have made the connection with CBS This Morning without the assistance of WestBow Press.  Divine intervention, timing and guidance would also be a major factor. It certainly was for me.

WBP: Do you plan on writing and publishing another book?

CC: Yes, I do. I believe that God has charged me to write. I’ve had other book ideas in my heart for many years now. Some of which, I believe are divinely inspired.  The books that I am considering will solve problems, provide instructions, and/or inspire contemplation for life application or future implications.


Writing Tip and Prompt: Comparisons

Writing Tip and Prompt: 12/7/2012On Fridays, we like to share writing tips and tricks with our readers. We hope this section will encourage and inspire you to continually improve as a writer.

Writing Tip – Comparisons

When writing, you want to make sure you give the best description you possibly can while avoiding the use of double comparisons. Example: He runs “more faster” than I do. “Faster” is already in the comparative degree, so it doesn’t need the word “more” for the reader to understand that you are not as fast as him. Just use “faster” — He runs faster than I do.

Writing Prompt – Imagery

Can you write using imagery? As a writer, you need to be able to describe your book’s characters and scenes in such a way that the reader is able to feel what the characters and scenes look and feel like. Without thinking too much about it, write down either the word “hot” or the word “cold.” Then, next to your selected word write either the word “wet” or the word “dry.” Using the two words you have chosen, write a descriptive piece that attempts to make the reader feel your words.


Writers Conferences and Events: Planning Your Way Through 2013

Writers Conferences and Events 2013So you’re a published author now and are interested in promoting your book, attending workshops and networking with other writers and publishing professionals.  A great way for you to promote your book and network with other writers is to attend any of the Christian writing conferences, book festivals, workshops and events offered throughout the year. Even if you are not a published author, a writing conference is a great way for you to work on your writing and advance your skills.

With the hundreds of events held each year, how are you supposed to budget and choose which ones you attend? WestBow Press is here to help. Browse the list of select events below, and start planning your 2013 schedule.

Women of Faith

Women of Faith is a Thomas Nelson company based in Plano, Texas. Every year it hosts several high-quality events all over the country. These events have meaningful themes and deliver life-changing messages. Visit each event theme’s page for a full list of dates and locations.

Women of Faith themes for 2013:

Believe God Can do Anything: Expect the unexpected! This event is packed with compelling stories, dynamic music, engaging speakers, inspiring worship, Bible-based teaching and more. (more…)

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