How to Cope When Your Manuscript Is Black and White and Red All Over

You did it. You sent your manuscript out to be appraised by someone else—and you’re not sure whether to shout hurray or groan. Maybe you’re trying to get published, or maybe you’re just seeking feedback. Maybe this is the first time you’ve shown your work to someone, or maybe it’s the one-hundredth time. Whatever the case, you’ve placed your writing in someone else’s hands and now you’re trembling and biting your nails as you await the results.

Black_and_White_and_Red_All_OverThen you hear the flutter of paper, the ding of an e-mail, or the shuffle of the mailman, and your precious bundle arrives. But as you open it, you gasp at all the bloodstains marring the pages, and you wrestle with one of two thoughts:

  1. I must be a horrible writer!
  2. This person doesn’t understand me or my piece, and they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Both of these reactions are wrong, and neither is good for your morale as a writer (although at least the first displays humility). You’re understandably feeling stung, but before you start sobbing or chopping off any heads, pause to pray for wisdom. To endure criticism and emerge a more astute writer, you need to analyze five factors. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Brianna Storm Hilvety
Brianna was born with a rumble in her veins. She finds the tap of a keyboard to be soothing like the pitter-patter of rain. She has been a writer for a decade, a freelance editor for a few years, and a bibliophile from the moment she pronounced her first syllable. Proudly a Silver Member of The Christian PEN, she serves on their team as Graphics Coordinator. She exudes her passion for speculative fiction and helping young writers by being an Associate Editor at Castle Gate Press and the Copy Editor/Director of Graphics for Kingdom Pen. When she isn’t poring over words, she may be spotted shooting her Canon, riding The Breeze (an all-terrain vehicle), or romping with her dog, Zookie. Purple is her signature color, and she refuses to recognize all other claims to it.

Interview with Rachel Starr Thomson on Writing, Editing, and Indie Publishing (Plus Giveaway!)

For the past ten years, Rachel Starr Thomson has been an inspiration to me on numerous levels. I first encountered her when she was a columnist for the Amie Newsletter, a publication dedicated to encouraging teenage girls. Her articles on the Christian walk impacted me deeply during a season in my life when my steps were unsure.

Rachel_Starr_Thomson_Interview_&_GiveawayAfter the Amie Newsletter was discontinued, I stalked Rachel on her blog—always reading but never uttering a peep. She posted writing tips back then, which fueled my aspirations to sling words onto paper and into people’s hearts. I admired—and almost envied—her fluid, artistic voice, and her courage in building a platform for herself through self-publishing quality books.

I bumped into her again years later when I submitted an article about storytelling to Homeschool Enrichment Magazine, where she served as copy editor. Shortly after my article was published, I began receiving requests from authors for help with refining their work, and I discovered that polishing sentences gave me a sense of satisfaction I’d never felt before. I realized I was suited to editing and wanted to pursue it seriously, but I had no idea how to get started. I sought advice from Rachel because I had no one else to ask, and she kindly imparted counsel that has proven invaluable. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be where I’m at now (editing for KP and a small Christian publisher) without that short e-mail she sent in response to mine.

Thus, it gave me great pleasure to approach Rachel on behalf of Kingdom Pen and ask her about her experiences as an author of more than twenty books, blogger of Kingdom truths, and a freelance editor for twelve years. I found myself empathizing with and learning from her comments, and I know all of you will benefit from hearing her wisdom as well. Read on, KeePers, and be sure to check out the book giveaway at the bottom of the post!

KP: You’re considered a pioneer of self-publishing. What caused you to choose indie over traditional publishing?

Rachel: I started experimenting with indie publishing back in 2006 or 2007, while simultaneously looking for an agent and a traditional book contract. I’d done so much writing over the years that I wasn’t even thinking about pursuing publication for all of it, so self-publishing was just a fun way to learn how to produce a book and put something into print myself. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial bent, but mostly I was just playing around. I realized it might be a real, viable publication path slowly, especially after I checked on an e-book I’d put up for free on Smashwords and forgotten about and realized it had been downloaded over 25,000 times while I wasn’t looking. Eventually “playing around” gave way to thinking more seriously about writing as a business. I much prefer the control of self-publishing, which applies to many aspects of the publishing journey, from timelines to content to career trajectory. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Brianna Storm Hilvety
Brianna was born with a rumble in her veins. She finds the tap of a keyboard to be soothing like the pitter-patter of rain. She has been a writer for a decade, a freelance editor for a few years, and a bibliophile from the moment she pronounced her first syllable. Proudly a Silver Member of The Christian PEN, she serves on their team as Graphics Coordinator. She exudes her passion for speculative fiction and helping young writers by being an Associate Editor at Castle Gate Press and the Copy Editor/Director of Graphics for Kingdom Pen. When she isn’t poring over words, she may be spotted shooting her Canon, riding The Breeze (an all-terrain vehicle), or romping with her dog, Zookie. Purple is her signature color, and she refuses to recognize all other claims to it.

Red Ink

In case you’ve ever wondered

What goes on in an editor’s brain,

Her desire to conquer syntax

Can cause an awful strain.

Red_Ink

A typo, a misspelling,

A hyphen out of place,

Will etch a deep, deep crease

Upon an editor’s face. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Brianna Storm Hilvety
Brianna was born with a rumble in her veins. She finds the tap of a keyboard to be soothing like the pitter-patter of rain. She has been a writer for a decade, a freelance editor for a few years, and a bibliophile from the moment she pronounced her first syllable. Proudly a Silver Member of The Christian PEN, she serves on their team as Graphics Coordinator. She exudes her passion for speculative fiction and helping young writers by being an Associate Editor at Castle Gate Press and the Copy Editor/Director of Graphics for Kingdom Pen. When she isn’t poring over words, she may be spotted shooting her Canon, riding The Breeze (an all-terrain vehicle), or romping with her dog, Zookie. Purple is her signature color, and she refuses to recognize all other claims to it.

Set Your Novel Up for Success by Sharing Your Outline

It’s January, the month of new beginnings. You’ve made your New Year’s resolutions, and maybe, just maybe, one of them involves writing. Maybe you resolved to write a novel. An entire novel. And maybe this time you’re actually going to do it. So you sit down in front of a word processor with your fantastic new idea and start tallying up the word count.Set_Your_Novel_Up_for_Success

Not so fast. Before you get carried away, you should take a minute to set yourself up for success in your novel-writing endeavor.

First, you need an outline. If you don’t have one yet, check out my post on how to quickly create one. It doesn’t need to be complicated or too in-depth. But it should provide direction for your novel so that you don’t end up wandering aimlessly, or not moving forward at all.

Your outline is the skeleton of your story. You want it to be great; unfortunately, it isn’t. Not yet. You won’t be able to see its flaws, but they will be there nonetheless. Plot holes you didn’t consider. Flat/useless characters you thought were important. Exciting sequences that shouldn’t happen so rapidly. Your outline will be full of little errors and slip ups that you won’t notice, and maybe your readers won’t notice them either. But each of those mistakes is a missed opportunity for improvement. Also, a small flaw in your outline could morph into a huge muse-killing flaw in the final product. Sound bad? It is. Once you’ve written your draft, outlining errors are difficult and time consuming to fix. So how can you find them before it’s too late? [Read more…]

Profile photo of Brandon Miller
Raised on C.S. Lewis and matured (to whatever extent) on Tolkien, Brandon Miller is a huge fan of Christian speculative fiction. His favorite stories artfully bend the physical reality to reveal spiritual realities which apply to all realms, kingdoms, districts and solar systems (including our own.)
When not writing fiction Brandon spends his time tending his blog The Woodland Quill, sportsing, or just struggling through that last-year-of-high-school/first-year-of-college which is really neither but is definitely both.

How Do You Get Published as a Young Writer? Interview and Giveaway with Author Amanda Davis

amandadavisinterviewToday we have the privilege of interviewing Amanda Davis, author of the award-winning Cantral Chronicles. If you haven’t heard of her before, you may have heard of her father, Bryan Davis, author of the best-selling Dragons in our Midst series. I (Josiah) read Amanda’s first two books while in high school and loved their character depth and suspenseful plotting, so I was thrilled to get the chance to talk with her now about her experiences as a writer.

Amanda published her first book when she was only nineteen years old, so today we talk about her road to publication as a teenage writer and the challenges she’s had in editing her books. Keep reading onto the end of the interview to get the chance to enter a giveaway for Precisely Terminated, the first book in her Cantral Chronicles series.

Journey to Publication

KP: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Amanda: I believe I was fifteen when I decided I wanted to be a writer. When I was about twelve, I started touring with my dad, helping with the book tables and listening to him speak. After meeting people from so many places and seeing their reactions to his books, I wanted people to hear my stories as well.

KP: When you were still in your teens, what helped you the most as an aspiring author?

Amanda: My father’s writing lessons probably helped me the most in my writing journey. I took his classes a hundred times over, thanks to traveling with him. I often had to hear a new concept a dozen times before it would stick.

KP: What’s something you wish you knew as a younger writer? [Read more…]

Of Sandpaper And Stories

“Details. Pay attention to details.”

Of Sandpaper And Stories

Patching drywall and smoothly patching drywall are two completely different animals.

I think I created a hybrid creature when I taught myself how to patch the lovely hole an unwieldy piece of furniture created in my wall. You can tell it’s patched if you pay attention, but unless you look closely it looks all right.

My first attempt at patching didn’t go so well. The layers were too thick, I hadn’t spent enough time sanding, and, well, it looked awful. Definitely an amateur job. So I grabbed the sandpaper, tub of mud, and went back to work.

While sanding and then smoothing on another layer of drywall mud, the thought struck me just how similar patching a wall is to patching a story.

A lousy fix is glaringly noticeable in both forms, just like a careful, well-done patching job blends into the wall or the text like part of the original design.

I had a wall to patch. I also have a novel. It’s needed a lot of “patching” – scenes cut, scenes added, more layers of depth smoothed into the main plot, the characters, and all the tiny little threads woven throughout the story. If I mess with one, I might as well have messed with them all.

It’s so easy to toss something in or pull something out, whether it be a phrase or an entire chapter, and then be done with it. Just like it would have been easy for me to leave the nasty patch on my wall and forget it (except I’m a perfectionist, so it would have bugged me daily).

But simplicity usually doesn’t equal quality.

How does one go about smoothly patching a story?

Details. Pay attention to details. I find the highlighting function of my word processor very handy for this kind of editing. Highlight the main thing you want to cut, add, or somehow change. Then go through the surrounding section and highlight any collateral damage “edges” that will need fixed after the main change. Make the changes, smoothing those edges and then make a note of certain things you need to keep an eye out for further along in the story, the offhand bit of dialogue referencing that scene you just cut out, or a good spot to add a reference to that shocking revelation you just added. Even one misplaced or wrongly-left sentence dealing with a plot thread that no longer exists, or nonexistent references that should be there about a new thread, count.

Just like my wall patch. Every bit of mudding (adding or removing text), sanding (smoothing away the roughness), and painting (the polish of pretty prose) counts. Homeowners notice poorly done repair. Readers do too.

How To Take Criticism Well

Criticism. A frightening word. Criticism has such a negative connotation associated with it, that many a writer instinctively prepares their defenses at the mere utterance of the word.  Criticism is naturally a hard pill to swallow, butit doesn’t have to be. In fact, learning how to take criticism well is essential to our growth as writers.

Truth be told, I’m really not the one who should be writing an article on how to take criticism. I have actually been told that I’m defensive. Yes me! How can I refute such a claim? There is really no way to defend against being called defensive without sounding defensive. I guess it’s true. However, I do think I’m getting better, and I have learned a few things along the way that I would like to share with you.

And now, five tips on how to take criticism:

[Read more…]