Sunday, April 25, 2010

Brainstorming Weekend

Our local writers group recently had a weekend retreat at the country home of one of our members. We met for dinner in town on Friday night before convoying to her home. Once we carried all our blankets, pillows, air mattresses, and items for the weekend, we shared the bare bones of our work in progress.

The next morning after breakfast we started in with each member introducing their main character. Other members could ask questions for clarification. Several members brought copies of character questions to share.

After lunch, we took a short country walk and resumed with our one sentence log line, which we helped each other refine.

We decided that each member should go ahead and describe the plot, conflict, and elements of their stories. After stopping for supper, we worked until bedtime.

On Sunday morning, we finished helping plot the remaining members stories. We ended our time together, agreeing we all were leaving with enough ideas to finish our projects. We decided two issues: 1. We all needed to diet after all the food we'd eaten this past weekend. 2. We definitely wanted to make this an annual affair.

So, I would strongly suggest that any writer get together with at least one other writer and devote some time so brainstorming your ideas for a story. Bring things you've learned from workshops, books, and articles to help with plotting. You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Narrow Path by Gail Sattler

During a brief time with Ms. Sattler in a critique group, I received good advice on writing an interesting story with a clear, strong Christian message. Since I had never read a book by her, she sent me online an advanced copy of her newest book "The Narrow Path." Never before had I read a Mennonite book, so I found Gail's book not only a good read, but informative as well. This delightful romance pits the old, traditional sect with a modernized version of the same values which gave me a well-rounded view. Sattler gives insight into a different way of life, and colorful characters dot the pages. I found some of those characters in a work I was critiquing for her. I'm sure that will make an interesting sequel. I asked Gail a few questions to probe her mind.

1. List your 5 top favorite activities.

Number 1 music. Number 2. music. I say that because I'm in 2 different bands, a jazz band where I play my electric jazz bass and a concert band where I play my double bass with a bow because there is no electricity allowed with a concert band. I can't count the worship team for church, because I've played both basses and piano for that, so it's kind of a rerun. Number 3, reading; Number 4, walking my dogs: Number 5 I'd say after all that, sleeping.

2. Do you write in other genres as well as romance?

Yes, but I'm not published in them yet. I'm working on a woman's fiction that has a touch of romance, a cozy mystery, and the most fun, a supernatural thriller that I'm writing with my husband.

3. What does a typical writing day look like for you?

I don't have a typical writing day. I have a day job, so that takes my day. I write when I can on the evenings and do editing in the mornings before work, and I do a lot of writing on the weekends.

4. What 1 piece of advice would you give a beginning writer?

Best advice. Write and keep writing, and while you kep writing, keep learning the craft. If you think you know it all and think you can stop learning, you might as well stop writing. Write because you love to write, not because you want to sell. Selling is a bonus. I guess that's more than one piece of advise, but I write. I don't do math.

For more information about this good author, go to

"The Narrow Path" will be out in May, 2010. I would recommend buying a copy.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

As writers, we are always searching for new books, articles, magazines, courses… anything to help us become more effective writers. Oftentimes, those pursuits can get expensive. Today, however, I want to share a resource that is completely free and yet one of the best online magazines for writers.

This monthly online magazine is called Christian Fiction Online Magazine. It is filled not only with articles on helping your craft but also current industry news that will help you stay abreast of market changes.

Check out this months issue HERE.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Top Five Best Craft of Writing Books

In all of the conferences, workshops, and meetings I've ever attended, I've heard the same titles touted amongst the masses as the best books to learn to write by. We here at Bookstowriteby strive to bring you such books to cultivate your craft. I thought today we would review, in my opinion, five books which I believe should be on every writer's bookshelf.

In no particular order, here are the five:

Dwight Swain
Techniques of the Best Selling Writer

Donald Maass
Writing the Breakout Novel

James Scott Bell
Plot and Structure

Jack Bickham
Scene and Structure

Margie Lawson
Empowering Charactions' Emotions

Granted this last one is not a book, but you can go to her website and order her lecture packet. I have the packet, plus I have had the honor sitting through one of her workshops as well as enrolling in her online courses. The content of her lectures are outstanding. I learned more about characterization through her workshop then I have reading books on the subject.

If you are in the market for buying books, add these to your shelf. If you are in a money crunch, then look at local library annual book sales,, to see if you can buy a used book. If you just want to borrow a book check them out at your library or borrow from a friend. You won't be sorry.

Writing Tip of the Day