Sunday, October 19, 2014

Our last *sniff* meeting of 2014

It's that time of year... time to bow, once again, to obligatory holiday gatherings and the whims of Mother Nature.

Saturday, Oct. 25 will be our final 2014 meeting. After the holidays, we will tentatively schedule a January meeting (subject to weather and road conditions) for Jan. 24, 2015.

If you were at our most recent meeting, we discussed press/media kits. Hopefully we've all made a few baby steps toward developing those. I ordered business cards today. They won't be here in time for our next meeting, but I'll have them before I head to Denver for the Novel Crafter's Seminar in November!

For this meeting, we'll be talking about our heroes. No, not the real kind. The fictional kind... although we could probably draw some interesting parallels between our real heroes and the ones we write about.

For motivation/inspiration, here's a music video from the '80s... After you stop laughing over the general ridiculousness of '80s music videos, think about your favorite FICTIONAL hero, and what appeals to you about that particular character.

In the meantime, I'll share these verses with you, because as a writer/storyteller, they blessed me when I read them this morning!
"The disciples came up and asked, 'Why do you tell stories?'
He replied,
'You've been given insight into God's kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn't been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That's why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight." Matthew 13:10-14 The Message

I hope to see you Saturday!

10:00 A.M. at The Artful Cup 
3090 N. 12th Street, Grand Junction, Colo.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Creating an author's media kit

Something came up this week: A blogger/reviewer requested a media (or press) kit to accompany a blog post and left me feeling a bit unprepared. Why? Because I don't have one!

As we have discussed during our monthly meetings, promotion and marketing is a challenge for many of us, and the more prepared and equipped we can be to manage the process the better! This post, then, is intended to help you (and me) create our own media kits.

What is a media kit?
From my experience at the newspaper, a media kit included a spec sheet (with the size of our paper, publication frequency, circulation details, and more number specifics), a copy of the most recent paper and other special publications, and a rate card with our advertising rates. My fellow prologue chapter members added the following wisdom from their own experiences in advertising and publishing: A press release, an author bio and photo, social media links, and an "interview." Additional research indicates we should also include the ISBN and cover photos of our books, testimonials or reviews, and samples of our writing.

All of this indicates we should invest ourselves in a comprehensive package, complete with bookmarks and fliers and business cards, whether we create that package ourselves or hire someone to do it. That package should represent our personal "brand." Back in the day, a publishing house or an agent or a publicist might have done all that for us, but now we have the opportunity to do it for ourselves!

That said, I have a hard time discerning literary themes in books (even my own), much less figuring out my personal identifying theme. One of the only reasons I've never gotten a tattoo is because I can't figure out what word or symbol I want representing me on my body for the rest of my life.

That leads us to another discussion... What's your brand? Do you have a slogan? A logo? A style? How did you come up with it? Does it make you feel trapped, or secure?

I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on the subjects of branding and press kits! We have one more confirmed meeting time this year (October 25th) before we break for the holidays and winter weather. Let's see what we can come up with for press kits and bring them with us to share before our next meeting!

(Here are some resources about creating press/media kits for you:


Niki Turner, ACFW Colorado Coordinator
In Truer Ink
Inkwell Inspirations
Sadie's Gift ~ A Christmas Traditions Novella

Santiago Sol ~ Passport to Romance
Pelican Book Ventures, LLC
Release Date TBA
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Western Slope ACFW Prologue Chapter

Facebook Page

Monday, September 15, 2014

The biggest challenge for modern writers...

It's not coming up with a great story idea, or intriguing characters. It's not stringing words together in the best possible form for comprehension and interest. It's not finding an agent or a publisher. It's not even getting your work out there before the masses, since e-books have made that as simple as the push of a button.

What's the challenge? Marketing and promotion.

This would be less uncomfortable...

Whether you are traditionally published or "indie" pubbed, you're going to be required to do a significant amount of promotion and marketing for your book. If you're self-publishing, ALL the responsibilities of promotion fall on your shoulders, which kind of feels like putting on this role...

Writers, in general, tend to be introverted creatures... kind of the opposite of the salesman's personality type. And yet, here we are, needing to find new ways to sell our work to the world. 

At our next meeting, we'll be discussing the following topics:

  • Where do you draw the line between promotion and being a pest?
  • How can you keep up with the demands of promotion and keep writing?'
  • The benefits of establishing groups of beta readers, reviewers, bloggers, and so forth...
  • Blending the personal and the professional

Wherever you are in your writing career, bring your thoughts and opinions and ideas to discuss!

The next ACFW Western Slope Prologue Chapter Meeting is Saturday, Sept. 27, at 10 a.m. at The Artful Cup in Grand Junction, 3090 N. 12th St. Mark your calendars!


Monday, August 18, 2014

Monthly Meeting: This Saturday, Aug. 23!

Is it just me, or is summer getting shorter and shorter every year?

End of Summer Tomatoes

Our August meeting is this Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at The Artful Cup in Grand Junction, 3090 N. 12th Street. I hope to see you there!

We will (if I can find my ducks AND put them in a row) be discussing different types of heroes, and whatever else comes up!


Monday, August 4, 2014

I Need A Hero! (And So Do You!)

Every story needs a hero. A likable, realistic, appealing, lovable, attractive, inspiring hero... in other words, the hero is the quintessential perfect man, which always makes me think of this:

An old joke, but it still makes me chuckle. 
But everyone's definition of "the perfect man" is different, particularly in fiction. One publisher's guidelines say they are looking for "alpha males" as heroes for a particular imprint. Others are looking for "beta males" and even "gamma males." (I'm wondering if I need a crash course in Greek.)

Hero archetypes have been divvied into four, eight, and even sixteen categories. I love the descriptions of all eight hero archetypes loosely wrapped around the idea of how each would react when trapped in a basement with a ticking time bomb at All About Romance by Tami Cowden.

That said, I think we can stick with the alpha, beta, and gamma for a general discussion. Differences in backstory, characterization, and storyline will determine which of the sixteen (who knows, there could be more) types YOUR hero falls into.

There are multiple ways to define and describe the alpha, the beta, and the gamma hero.

  • Football: Alphas are the quarterbacks, betas are the runningbacks, gammas play the field. (I know nothing about football beyond once dating a high school quarterback, can you tell?)
  • Birth order: Alpha males are almost always bossy, controlling, powerful firstborns or onlies. Betas are usually easygoing middle children, and gammas tend to be those charming, lovable, but not always dependable youngest kids. 
  • Star Trek: Captain Kirk was an alpha male. Jean-Luc Picard was a beta. Spock and Riker are gammas. (Who DIDN'T have a crush on Spock or Riker at some point?) 
  • Star Wars (the original, because I'm old, and have lost track of all the additions and sequels and prequels): Darth Vader is an obvious alpha. Luke Skywalker is a beta. Han Solo is (arguably) a gamma. Lando Calrissian, now, there's a conundrum...
  • Literature: Mr. Roarke (Jane Eyre) is a classic alpha. Mr. Darcy (Pride & Prejudice) is a beta. Finding a classical gamma is hard... he seems to be a modern concept. It's not literature, but let's go with Hugh Jackman in "Kate & Leopold" for our gamma male. In fact, Hugh has kind of perfected the gamma male, in my opinion.
We're going to discuss these hero types at our next meeting, Saturday, Aug. 23. Bring your questions, your opinions, and your best examples of your favorite brand of fictional hero to discuss over coffee!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Reminder: Saturday, July 26 Meeting!

In case you also have had days like this... 

...this is just a reminder that Saturday, July 26, is our next meeting. That's THIS Saturday! Hope to see you at 10:30 a.m. at The Artful Cup in Grand Junction, 3090 N. 12th Street.

We're working on improving our synopses for our works-in-progress. Bring yours along if you have one, and if you don't have one, or don't have yours ready, come anyway to hang out and have fun!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Release Party: "Season of Forgiveness" by Templa Melnick

Thank you for coming to the party! I'm very excited to announce the official release of Season of Forgiveness, by Templa Melnick. While we have several published authors in our group, this is the first time one of our own has had a novel release since we "officially" started our Western Slope ACFW Prologue Chapter. 

It's also a debut release, which is extra special. And, a little bird told me our dear Miss Templa is celebrating her birthday this week, as well. Now if that isn't a fabulous birthday present for a writer, I don't know what is!

Come on in and get comfortable. We're going to learn more about the book and its author, "meet" the visual inspirations for some of Templa's leading ladies, and sample (it's virtual, so it's calorie-free) some delicious treats similar to the ones the characters might be enjoying in the story!

First, here's an introduction to the story, so we'll know who we're meeting...
Colorado 1904 
A little woman with a big heart, Emma Johnson must juggle family, friends, and pioneer-woman chores, all the while dealing with threats to her own life, those she loves, and the safety of the ranch on the western slope of the Colorado Rockies.  The challenges of living in the shadow of gold fever bring opportunities to use the skills she learned from her Indian stepmother, and pray as if everything depends on the Lord. Emma finds herself involved in the rescue and restoration of three abandoned and abused women. As new life, beauty and hope blossom, the four women uncover a nefarious plot and learn the meaning of forgiveness.
There's Emma now...

She's a bit busy with one of the boys, but you're welcome to join her in the kitchen for some fresh, hot bread. Or a cup of tea. There's always tea in Emma's kitchen.

Now that refreshments are in place, let's find out more about our author... 

How did you start writing?
"I actually have NO qualifications to be a writer. None whatsoever. That is, unless you count my ridiculously over-active imagination, my life-long penchant for making things up, and a voracious appetite for reading that began at the age of three.
 I have always wanted to be a writer. When I was in second grade, my teacher asked if she could submit one of my short stories to a national publication for elementary school teachers. I still remember that story. It was about my neighbor’s cat. She said I had a unique perspective that she wanted to share with others. In that moment, Mrs. Gardner planted a seed in my life. Perhaps someday I could tell stories that other people would want to read.
  When my children were young, I used to make up stories for them. They enjoyed listening to those stories and I enjoyed creating them. It was then that the seed that had been planted in my childhood germinated. Maybe I could write children’s books! But there were soccer games and parent/teacher conferences and corporate ladders to climb. So, if I ever thought about writing, it was only as a fleeting fancy in the stillness of the night.
 And then… in a few short months, the foundations of my moderately comfortable life were shaken. I lost my job. I had a scare with the dreaded “C” word, and my kids were leaving the nest. A long list of “what ifs” kept running through my mind.  It was time to reach for the childhood dream I had set aside. The past few years have been a steady stream of writer’s conferences, seminars and “how-to” books on fiction writing. It seemed pretty miraculous when publisher Catherine Lawton agreed to read my manuscript at an Estes Park, Colo., writer’s conference in May 2013. It seemed even more miraculous when she sent me a contract for my first novel in October 2013. She and her staff have been incredibly patient with me and very helpful as we've worked towards publication. I’m honored to be among Cladach Publishing’s authors. I still have much to learn. But the most important thing I’ve learned is that… writing makes me happy. Writing stories that other people will want to read? That would make me happier still.

There's no better reason to write than that it makes you happy! So where did the idea for this story (which is going to be a series!) come from?
The idea for this series of books has actually been rattling around in my brain in one form or another for a very long time. A few years ago, my husband and I took the kids to a cabin near Leadville for a short vacation. I was intrigued by the mining history and spent a lot of time wondering what it was like to live in that harsh climate during the gold rush.

At the same time, I was doing some research for one of my clients whose business had been established in Meeker, Colorado in1904. I had the opportunity to read through the actual 1904 archives of the Rio Blanco Herald Times. I was hooked. I was fascinated with that time period of Colorado history. I also have a lineage of really strong, amazing women that I wanted to honor. I’ve incorporated a few actual family stories in Season of Forgiveness.

Since I work (in real-life) for the Rio Blanco Herald Times, that makes me chuckle. I used to read those old archives and pull out tidbits for a weekly column. They are fascinating! 

Pass the tea, and some of those strawberry shortcakes, please...

How long have you been working on this series?
I started writing the first book in this series in December 2009. I had just lost my job as an account executive at a local media outlet. The economy was tough, and I wasn’t the only casualty. Nevertheless, I was devastated. During that time of emotional upheaval, God spoke to my heart and asked, “What have you always wanted to do?” The answer was immediate. I’d always wanted to write a novel – but there had never been enough time or energy left over at the end of the day. So I set aside all of the reasons that I wasn’t qualified to be a writer, and I wrote.
 Four months later, I had the first draft of Season of Forgiveness. I attended my first writer’s conference and quickly discovered that I had made virtually every newbie writer mistake possible. So, I went back to the drawing board and rewrote the entire thing. It’s been rewritten so many times I’ve lost track.
 I’ve learned a lot along the way, and I’m hoping the next books will require less editing! I’m about halfway through the second book, and can’t wait to share it.

We can't wait, either! It's wonderful to know that there are more books coming. There are so many strong characters in Season whose stories need to be told! Speaking of, which character is your favorite?

I know this sounds crazy, but that’s like asking me which of my sons is my favorite! I love each of my four main characters. They each bring something unique to the party.

Emma is all of my grandmothers and my husband’s grandmothers best characteristics rolled into one tiny woman. She’s tough. She’s virtually unflappable, and yet she’s gracious, kind and full of love. Emma is the woman I hope to be some day.

I love Daisy’s transformation in the story. She starts out incredibly wounded, and ends up as this strong young woman bursting with life and hope. I hope she will bring life and hope to my readers.

Sally started out as a secondary character, and ended up as one of the main characters. I shed more tears at my computer while writing her story than all the others combined. The love quadrangle around her at the end of the book was fun to write. She’s Irish, so I apologize up front if I’ve butchered the brogue. I can hear her talking in my head – but I don’t know if it translated onto paper as well as I had hoped.

Dee as a young woman
And Miss Dee. She was the most challenging for me to create, but she’s also the most fun. I never know what she’s going to say or do next. Seriously. I’m just as surprised as you are. I don’t want her to come off as the cliché madam-with-a-heart-of-gold… even though in some ways, she fits that cliché to a tee. 

Writing a historical novel demands a lot of research, some of which ends up in the story and a lot of which ends up in a file somewhere. What is the most intriguing thing you learned while researching this book?
The labor wars surrounding the mining areas fascinated me. I got lost for weeks in the books and newspaper articles that were written about these events. I had no idea that Colorado was actually under martial law for awhile in 1904. I doubt it did it justice in the book, but I did include a few details.
 On a side note, I beg for mercy on any historical errors.  I’m sure I made them. Why did I decide to write historical fiction? What was I thinking?

History, and historical characters, are so inspiring, how can we not write about them? And the food, did I mention the food? (Templa has graciously shared a few of her character's favorite recipes on her website, too!)
Sally's colcannon - Irish peasant fare.

What do you hope your readers will "get" from this story? What did you get from writing it?
My greatest desire is that my readers will take away a deeper understanding of what it means to BE forgiven, and the miracle of freedom that comes to us through forgiving others. I also hope that through Emma, Daisy, Sally and Dee my readers will see that the same Jesus of the Bible is alive and well today in 2014, just as He was in 1904. He is the same today, yesterday, and forever.
What did I get from writing this story? One person really can make a difference. Women like Daisy and Sally, and Dee are all around us. And if we, like Emma, dare to love the un-loveable, touch the un-touchable, we can change our little corner of the world. And all of our little corners connect. That’s powerful!

That is powerful, and a valuable message we all need to remember, every day. We're all ministers of the Gospel of Christ, no matter where we are or what we do. 

So what's next? (We really want to know about book #2!)
Oh, I’m so glad you asked! The working title for book two is Season of Redemption. This book picks up where Season of Forgiveness left off, in the same fictional town of Riverbend, Colorado and with the same characters, plus a few new ones. Dee, Sally and Daisy have left their pasts behind them – but people from their past keep showing up and causing problems. Dee struggles with wanting to manipulate and control everyone and everything around her… that’s how she’s always done things, so it’s hard for her to let go and trust God’s plan.  Daisy and Sally are learning how to trust God in their relationships and finding out what it means to truly be loved by the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. Season of Redemption has a little mystery going on with horse thieves, gunfights, and a slippery southern gambler, plus a little romance to keep it interesting. And, since I haven’t finished writing the story, I am not sure of all the details yet!

We'll be looking forward to the next installment!

I hope you enjoyed our first release party! We're looking forward to more of them in the future. 
In the meantime, Season of Forgiveness is available on Amazon, on Cladach Publishing, and through Templa's website.  

You can "friend" Templa on Facebook at And don't forget to check our her blog: Templa's Trivia. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Whipping Your Synopsis Into Shape

Last month we started working on writing the synopsis for our current manuscripts. After our meeting, we agreed to KEEP working on them for next month, applying the suggestions we received from each other and working on proper formatting. (We had four authors and four synopses with totally different formatting... no wonder editors and agents get frustrated sometimes!)

the best part of whipped cream from Flickr via Wylio
© 2010 Gail, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio

In the interest of preparing for our July 26 meeting, here are some guidelines to help us manipulate those messy synopses (OK, mine was messy...) into shape!

1. Consider your audience/purpose. 

According to The Editor's Blog, there are two points of view regarding the purpose of a synopsis. One side considers a synopsis to be a sort of "teaser," designed to entice a contest judge, an agent, or an editor to read the rest of the story. Synopses written from this point of view are written to entertain, more than to inform. (Think: back cover copy, Amazon description, or "one-sheet" promo material.) This style of synopsis is probably best applied to contests, writer's conferences where you'll have a brief session to pitch your story, or when you're submitting to a new agent or publisher who isn't familiar with your writing style/ability.

The other side looks at a synopsis as a "just the facts, ma'am" report on what happens, and to whom, in your story. For writers who are submitting stories that are part of a series, if you've had a synopsis requested by an editor or agent in response to a query, or if you are a frequently pubbed author submitting a new idea to your current agent or publisher, this style is probably your best bet. 

2. How long?

There is no finite answer to this question. The one-page, two-page, and three-page synopses appear to be the most commonly requested/suggested, so having one of each isn't a bad idea. And always, always, check the website of the publisher or agent for their recommendations. If they want a five page synopsis, you'd better come up with a five-page synopsis!

3. Format, format, format.

Formatting, I've decided, is like Spanx for our writing, whether we're writing a synopsis or a saga. Again, when it comes to formatting, check with your publisher or agent for their particular guidelines. BUT, in general, there are some standards you can apply, at least to start with.

  • Margins: One-inch margins are most commonly recommended.
  • Font: Times New Roman, 12-point font.
  • Spacing: For a one-page synopsis, single-spaced with breaks between paragraphs. For two or more pages, double-spaced. 
  • First page: (this varies) Contact information, genre, word count. 
  • Header: Last name and book title in upper left-hand corner, page numbers in upper right-hand corner.
  • Tone: Third-person, present tense. Even if your story is written in first person, past tense.

4. "You should only name three characters in a short synopsis – usually, the protagonist, antagonist, and possible love interest/side-kick/contagonist. All other characters should be referred to by their roles (e.g. the waitress, the mother, the basketball player)." (From Publishing Crawl...this post also gives a terrific example for breaking down your story into pieces and putting them back together for a one-page synopsis.)

5. "You must tell the ending! The purpose of a synopsis is to show an editor/agent you can tell a story from beginning to end. You will not entice them into reading your whole MS if you don’t share the ending – you’ll just tick them off!" (Also from Publishing Crawl.)

6. "Do not include subplots unless you have extra space at the end!!!!!  Stick to the MAIN PLOT EVENTS." (Also from Publishing Crawl.)

7. "Feel free to be dry, but don’t step out of the narrative. When you write your prose (and even the pitch in your query letter), there is importance in using style and voice in the writing. A synopsis, thankfully, not only can be dry, but probably should be dry. The synopsis has to explain everything that happens in a very small amount of space. So if you find yourself using short, dry sentences like 'John shoots Bill and then sits down to contemplate suicide,' don’t worry. This is normal. Lean, clean language is great. And lastly, do not step out of the narrative. Agents do not want to read things such as 'And at the climax of the story,' 'In a rousing scene,' or 'In a flashback.'" (From Writer Unboxed.)

7. "Capitalize character names when characters are introduced. Whenever a new character is introduced, make sure to CAPITALIZE them in the first mention and then use normal text throughout. This helps a literary agent immediately recognize each important name. On this subject, avoid naming too many characters (confusing) and try to set a limit of five, with no more than six total. I know this may sound tough, but it’s doable. It forces you to excise smaller characters and subplots from your summary — actually strengthening your novel synopsis along the way."  (From Writer Unboxed.)

I hope you find the above information helpful! All of the synopses shared at our June meeting were already amazing and enticing. I'm looking forward to seeing them all cleaned up, sharp, and ready to roll!

And in other news... Templa Melnick's debut novel, Season of Forgiveness, releases July 13, 2014. Be sure to watch for our special virtual release party here at Western Slope ACFW Prologue Chapter! 

We'll have tasty old-fashioned treats, a peek at Templa's character inspirations, and a wonderful opportunity to congratulate one of our own on her new book!

Monday, June 16, 2014

June Meeting: Synopsis Share!


Mark your calendars for June 28th. That's the date of our next ACFW Western Slope Prologue Chapter meeting.

Let's bring a synopsis to share from either a work-already-in-progress or a project you're thinking of starting. Why? Because there's a reason it's often called "the dreaded synopsis," and if we write one for our group meeting, we'll be one step closer to sending that WIP off to an agent or a publisher for consideration.

To get you stirred up and ready to write, here are two excellent posts from ACFW about how to write a synopsis.

Pantsing the Pre-Book Synopsis by Anne Mateer
Writing a Short Synopsis by Roxanne Rustand

I know many of you are traveling, or otherwise busy during the summer months, but I hope you'll be able to make it on the 28th.

We will be meeting Saturday, June 28, at The Artful Cup from 10 AM until noon. (3090 N. 12th St.) in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Blessings and happy writing!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Buckled up to write?

Whenever I get in a car with someone my brain is programmed to ask: "Are you buckled?"

I used to be a random buckler, but when my three sons and their friend were in a roll-over accident and walked away without a scratch, I attributed their protection to their guardian angels (who are very tired, I think) and the fact all the boys were wearing their seatbelts. 

Over the last few decades we've learned that wearing a seatbelt provides invaluable protection to accident victims. And yet, as writers, hurtling through the highways of our stories, we rarely think to "buckle up" when we sit down at our desks, even though the risk of "crashing" is just as great as it is on our modern freeways. 

Have you ever crashed? I have. The after-effects of a crash can manifest as writer's block, as prolonged periods of procrastination, as fear (ever been afraid to open your WIP?), as incessant and futile fiddling with a story, as the inability to "launch" a manuscript via submission to an agent or editor. If you've been writing for any length of time, you've probably crashed at least once. 

What causes a crash? Poor visibility (lack of plotting/planning). Obstacles (unforeseen developments in the storyline). Road conditions (confusion, excess elements). Operator error (author fatigue, lack of experience, etc.). The possible causes are endless, and unique to the individual author and even the individual project. A writer might breeze through one story, only to "choke up" in the middle of the next project. In short, crashes are a risk we all take, every time we put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

And so, are we buckled up to prevent serious injury in the event of a writing crash?

The Bible makes frequent mention of something called "a buckler," usually in reference to a shield (thank you, Templa Melnick!). The KJV Dictionary defines it like this:
buckler, n. A kind of shield, or piece of defensive armor, anciently used in war. It was composed of wood, or wickers woven together, covered with skin or leather, fortified with plates of brass or other metal, and worn on the left arm. On the middle was an umbo, boss or prominence, very useful in causing stones and darts to glance off. The buckler often was four feet long, and covered the whole body.
The buckler, like the shell of a turtle, provided full body defense against any attack of the enemy. Various sources say the buckler was routinely soaked in oil (the Holy Spirit) and water (the Word of God) in order to swiftly dispel flaming arrows. The "turtle-back" formation of the Roman army involved hooking these body-sized shields together and raising them overhead, then marching forward under the shelter provided.
2 The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.
 Ps 18:2 KJV
If, as a writer, you've suffered a "crash," whether in the form of severe procrastination, or avoidance, or frustration, or fear, it's time to pull up your buckler—the Lord—to cover and defend the work of your hands. 

You may have been beating yourself up for a lack of discipline, or an inability to concentrate, or a failure to focus... but as one who is called of the Lord to write, it's entirely possible that the resistance you're encountering is spiritual in nature, and requires a spiritual response. 

We wouldn't think of teaching a Bible study, or speaking at a conference, or leading a small group, or preaching a sermon, without "covering" ourselves spiritually. Why do we continue to put ourselves "out there" as we write (definitely a spiritual exercise as much as a cognitive one) without benefit of His covering?

So, whether you've crashed or not, here's a challenge: before you begin writing, or even when you THINK about writing, call on the Lord as your buckler, acknowledge His protection and covering, create in your mind a safe place wherein you can write as the Lord intended you to write. Actively pull that buckler up over your writing space the same way you buckle your seatbelt when you get in the car. Your writing gift is valuable. Guard it.


Monday, May 19, 2014

It's time, it's time... for our next meeting!

Can you believe it? It's already time for our next monthly meeting!

We will be meeting at 10 AM this Saturday, May 24, at The Artful Cup from 10 AM until noon. (3090 N. 12th St.) in Grand Junction, Colorado.

Topic of discussion for this month?

Procrastination! (I know, it's not my favorite word, either.)

As we head into summer, with warmer weather and lots of family and community activities, it's easy to fall into the habit of procrastinating when it comes to our writing, particularly if we aren't on a deadline, and aren't accountable to anybody except ourselves to "get it done." What are some of the ways you overcome procrastination?

 Please join us, if you can! 

If the private room at The Artful Cup is available again, that's where we'll be. But if the weather is nice, maybe we'll sit outside on the porch and enjoy the sunshine. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

April Meeting Overview: Social Media and the Modern Writer


I'm just home from a vacation to the West Coast, trying to re-acclimate to things like laundry, email, and Colorado temperatures, and wanted to share some thoughts from our April meeting before they escape my memory. We covered a lot of subjects, but focused primarily on social media as it relates to our writing careers.

For the modern writer, establishing an online presence is a crucial part of self-promotion and marketing. While book tours and speaking engagements and signings and press releases are still important, the judicious use of Facebook, Twitter, Wordpress, Blogger, Pinterest, Instagram, etc., gives every author with an Internet connection the ability to expand his or her "reach" worldwide. Just look at the numbers in this infographic created by titled "The Biggest Shift Since The Industrial Revolution":

How we go about creating that online presence varies from writer to writer, and that's OK. If the idea of blogging, for example, makes you uncomfortable because it's too time-consuming, or too personal, set up a website that you only need to update when you get ready for your next book release. If Facebook seems too intrusive, get a Pinterest account and find and share pictures that have to do with your latest writing project. And if you don't have time for lengthy blog posts, tweets on Twitter are limited to 140 characters. 
Feeling really bold? Take a video of yourself talking about your book project and share it on YouTube like James Rubart has done here. Or post your book trailer on Vimeo. Or join Goodreads and share book reviews and recommendations with thousands of other folks who love books. There's something for everyone... you don't have to do ALL the things.

On that note, another writer friend shared this article from CastleGate Press: "How do you effectively sell your books through social media?" last week. It answers a question that came up about using Pinterest to sell books, which is an interesting concept since Pinterest is less about words than pictures. Another plus, for the introverts among us, Pinterest tends to require less personal interaction than some of the other social media sites!

For another take on establishing a social media platform, check out this article: "How Successful Authors Use Social Media to Sell More Books."

One question we weren't really able to answer was how we can avoid being sucked into the time vortex that social media can become. Besides writing, many of us hold part-time or full-time jobs, care for families and homes, and spend a significant portion of time volunteering at church or school. Carving time for social media can be a real challenge. Any thoughts? Suggestions? Feel free to share your thoughts and questions in the comments!

Our meetings get better and better all the time, lots of laughs and encouragement and edification time. That said, be sure to add Saturday, May 24 to your calendar for our next meeting. Details and reminders to follow!


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Meeting this Saturday!

One last reminder...

We will be meeting at 10 AM this Saturday, April 26, at The Artful Cup in Grand Junction, Colorado. 
Topics of discussion will include blogging, self-promotion through social media, creating an online platform, and setting up a blog or author's website. Please join us, if you can! 

We have reserved the private room at The Artful Cup from 10 AM until noon. (3090 N. 12th St.)

As the Artful Cup is a non-profit, volunteer organization whose proceeds go toward hospice care, they do not charge for the use of the room, only ask that guests purchase something from their beverage menu and not bring in outside food/drink. 

Hope to see you there!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Are you ready to promote your book?

The publishing world has changed dramatically just in the last decade. Authors are expected to do a lot more promotion and marketing these days, and that means getting comfortable with having an online presence, or platform. For a lot of us, however, social media and blogging and building a website are intimidating prospects.

Our own Robin Densmore Fuson has had great results promoting her writing through blogging, garnering more than 20,000 views as of March 2014. In the following post she wrote for her publisher, WestBow Press, in July 2013, Robin shares some of her hints and helps for blogging success. At our next Western Slope ACFW Prologue Chapter meeting we will be discussing developing an online presence, setting up a blog or a website, and ways to interact with social media to promote your writing. Bring your questions, suggestions, and your laptops to the Artful Cup in Grand Junction, 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 26. (Click the link for directions.)

"When I published my first book, one of the things that most frightened me was doing my own marketing. I discovered the best way to market my book was through social media, and that included a blog. There are many kinds of blogs, from how-to’s to devotionals. Whatever your interest is, there is a blog for you. 
5 Tips for Keeping Your Blog Alive and Generating Hits
1.)    Post often. For you it may be daily, biweekly, weekly or monthly. It is best to post at least once every week. This will bring your audience to your blog regularly, which will keep your name alive and may even cause you to come up in conversation. Sometimes, just writing a sentence or two, or posing a question for readers to comment on will help you to post more often. Don’t forget to reply to any commenting, even if they are not flattering or are negative.

2.)    Write exciting posts. While your posts may range from informative to a simple, light story, you need to make the blog fun to read and keep your readers’ attention. Asking you audience questions can help with this. Keeping their interest and having them ask for more is imperative. Don’t be afraid to add a human element by mentioning things about yourself. Have a critical eye and read your posts periodically to see if your blog is on target and not getting bogged down. One of my blogs is for children, so I have an 8-year-old read it to see if the verbiage is fine, and to see if she understands it and is entertained by it. Have someone from your blog’s audience read it and provide you with honest feedback.

3.)    Include pictures and a welcoming background. Pictures catch the eye and people are most likely to read your blog if there is a picture attached. It is also important to make sure your blog as a whole is easy on the eyes – choose lighter to mid-dark backgrounds with text colors that are easy to read. Also, you don’t want to clutter up your blog because if it is too busy readers’ eyes cannot take it all in.

4.)    Make your blog easy to maneuver. In other words, make it user-friendly. People don’t want to work hard at finding their way around your blog. List the posts and articles that are on your blog; older posts should be easily accessible. It helps if your blog host has set up the template to include a sidebar.

5.)    Use social media. Whenever you write a blog post, embed the link in social media posts on sites such as TwitterFacebook and Google+. You should post from your social media accounts every day, or at least every other day. You can use sites that help you manage your postings so you can schedule your posts in advance so that if you have a busy week of writing and can’t do social media every day, you have already taken care of it. On Facebook and Twitter, share and retweet other people’s posts and tweets. This will engage them and make them more likely to share and retweet your posts, including the links to your blog. When they do, always “like” or tweet a thank you each time. This helps get your name out there, and getting your name out there is very important to building and keeping your blog. Remember to include relevant hashtags in your tweets so more hits will come your way.Before I started my blog, I perused several different blogs looking for things I liked and things I didn’t. This helped me to tailor my blog accordingly. I currently host three blogs, two Facebook pages, my regular Facebook account, Google+ and a Twitter account. I have learned things that work well, and things that don’t work so well. Every author is different – make sure that you are doing what you are comfortable with, and what is right for you and your book. God bless you in your endeavor." 

Robin Densmore Fuson is the author of Rosita Valdez and the Giant Sea Turtle. She is married, mother of three and grandmother of 11. She discovered her passion of storytelling as a teenager, and from then on she has served the Lord through teaching in the form of storytelling. A few years ago Robin put her passion of storytelling into the written word and self-published her first book in a series of children’s chapter book for grades 3-6 in 2012. Connect with Robin on the Internet:
(For the original post, click HERE.)