Posts Tagged: Jan Kern

Writing a Captivating True Story

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man reading story outdoors

by Jan Kern

What draws you into a nonfiction book or article and keeps you captivated? Many readers find  themselves drawn in through story.

Why Story?

A few years ago, Diane Turbide, an editor at Penguin Publishing, said:

People nowadays are assailed on all fronts. They’re busy, they’re overwhelmed by the pace of life, by information. They can’t make out the shape, or the path, or the arc of their own life. Everything is a blur. . . . People are looking for some kind of narrative thread, some kind of plot that makes sense that doesn’t feel so formless. (Penguin Publishing, December 2011)

In our busy culture, readers are looking for connection and grounding through a narrative thread that helps them build a framework to discover meaning for their lives. A well-told true story is one way to effectively create space for that discovery and connection.

The Craft of Storytelling

Lynn Vincent, a master in the craft of narrative nonfiction, naturally creates this space for discovery and connection for her readers. In Same Kind of Different as Me, she does this in part by capturing the nuances of the voice and personality of the two main characters, Denver and Ron. As readers, we get to know these men at first through their independent stories, and then as their paths cross and a connection is formed. We gain not only an expanding view of their lives but also of our own. That’s masterful storytelling.

When I mentor writers, I often use this book as one example of strong narrative writing. I believe great fiction can be researched so well that you believe it must be true, and nonfiction can tell a true story with such excellent use of fiction techniques you have to take a second look to confirm that you’re not reading a novel.

Of course, the scaffolding of the nonfiction story must be research, facts, and reality. That’s a given. But couch this with creative, well-told narrative, and you amp up reader connection several notches. It’s more likely your readers will remember your key message when they put down your article or close the cover of your book.

What’s Next, Storyteller?

Which story will you tell? Here are ten tips as you begin to write your story:

  • Look for life-changing moments: a triumph or a failure, a poignant discovery or monumental decision, or the intersections of conflict.
  • Tell the human story: the real, the authentic, and the fallible.
  • Watch for unique or inspiring angles that will connect well with your reader.
  • Have in mind a key focus question that your story will explore.
  • Decide how much of the story is emotionally appropriate for the purpose of your project and especially in caring for your reader.
  • Consider which POV (point of view) would present the strongest story.
  • If the story is lengthy, consider layering in dialogue and setting, and develop it through a story arc.
  • Watch chronology. Make sure your reader can follow the unfolding of events.
  • Plan the conclusion of your story with a strong takeaway for your reader.

So go ahead, begin. And then bring your story—your own or someone else’s—to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference and share it.

photo of Jan KernAs an author, speaker, and life coach, Jan Kern is passionate about story—both how we live it with hope and intentionality and how we write it with craft and finesse. Her nonfiction series for teens/young adults garnered ECPA Gold Medallion and Retailers Choice finalist awards. Currently she is enjoying new ministry and writing opportunities for women. When Jan isn’t writing or coaching, she serves alongside her husband, Tom, at a residential ministry for at-risk teens. Jan will be mentoring the nonfiction clinic at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

 

Pre-Conference Next Level Clinic ~ 12 Reasons Why

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The Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference is packed with Extra Features.

The Pre-Conference Next Level Clinic is a favorite among writers wanting to take their writing to the Next Level.

conversation amidst the trees

 

12 Reasons to Take Advantage of the 2016 Next Level Clinic opportunity!

  1. The ability to focus on your work-in-progress in a small group without the distraction of other conference options and crowds.
  2. The opportunity to take your work-in-progress to the next level with a multi-published mentor AND then participate in a Major Morning Track during the Main Conference.
  3. NEW: A mentor for CHILDREN’S WRITERS as a GENRE WRITING option.
  4. Receive FEEDBACK on your work-in-progress whether it is Fiction, Nonfiction, or Children’s.
  5. NEW: A clinic for INTERMEDIATE FICTION writers.
  6. NEW: A clinic for INTERMEDIATE NONFICTION writers.
  7. NEW: A clinic specific to BEGINNING FICTION writers.
  8. NEW: A clinic specific to BEGINNING NONFICTION writers.
  9. NEW: An interactive PLATFORM workshop as a CAREER BOOST option.
  10. NEW: A hands-on SCRIVENER workshop as a CAREER BOOST option.
  11. Personal ONE-ON-ONE TIME with your mentor.
  12. Meet and interact with other writers in your genre or area of interest.

A Pre-Conference Next Level Mentoring Clinic offers an added-value opportunity for a small additional fee. Don’t miss out!

Next Level APPLICATION DEADLINE is MARCH 1, 2016!

Click Here to Register Now, or to add the Next Level Clinic to your existing Main Conference Registration!

Take Your Fiction to the Next Level

Joanne Bischof - Headshot 1Joanne Bischof  |  Mentor, Beginning Fiction

MickSilva_2 (800x577)Mick Silva  |  Mentor, Intermediate Fiction

Take Your Children’s Writing to the Next Level

Crystal Bowman from FBCrystal Bowman  |  Mentor, Writing for Children

 

Take Your Nonfiction to the Next Level

Kathy IdeNEW! Kathy Ide  |  Mentor, Beginning Nonfiction

Jan Kern smlGROUP FULL! Jan Kern  |  Mentor, Beginning Nonfiction

Bill GiovannettiBill Giovannetti  |  Mentor, Intermediate Nonfiction

 

Career Boost Clinics

Take Your Platform to the Next Level

Kathi Lipp (533x800)Kathi Lipp  |  Mentor, Platform Workshop

Platform: How to Find Your Readers, Lavish on Your Audience and Sell Your Book

If you’re going traditional, publishers want to know that you have a built in audience for your book. For self-publishing, you want to know that you have a built in audience for your book. While our ways may be different, our goal is the same—we need to create a platform. Kathi Lipp will give you the step by step directions to building a platform that readers will love and publishers can’t resist.

Take Your Scrivener Savvy to the Next Level

RobinLeeHatcher350wRobin Lee Hatcher  |  Mentor, Scrivener Workshop

Scrivener: Make it Work for You

If you’re a writer, you’ve at least heard of Scrivener, and there is a good chance you have begun using it. But many only use a small fraction of the features of this powerful writing software. Come discover something new or share your favorite features with others. Bring your laptop with Scrivener installed (available free for 30 days if you haven’t already purchased) and let’s learn together.

FOR PLATFORM AND SCRIVENER, REGISTRATION NECESSARY, BUT NO APPLICATION NECESSARY!

 

A Pre-Conference Next Level Mentoring Clinic offers an added-value opportunity for a small additional fee. Don’t miss out!

Next Level Writing Genre Clinics APPLICATION DEADLINE is MARCH 1, 2016!

Click Here to Register Now, or to add the Next Level Clinic to your existing Main Conference Registration!

Words–Love’s Sacrifice

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

BLOGGER: JAN KERN

Pre-Conference Next Level Clinic Coordinator and Nonfiction Mentor; Morning Mentoring Nonfiction Coordinator and Nonfiction Mentor at the 47th annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 16-22, 2016.

Jan Kern Grapes

 

WORDS—LOVE’S SACRIFICE

Recently, on a whim, I turned my smaller sofa toward my fireplace. Yes, this made for a crazy living room arrangement, but it seemed like it could be a fun way to enjoy our winter evenings. Then I discovered that it also created a restorative morning space where I can prepare for a day’s work and writing.

Settling into my cozy corner one morning, I reviewed a quote I had found:

Measure thy life by loss and not by gain, 


Not by the wine drunk, but by the wine poured forth, 


For love’s strength standeth in love’s sacrifice, 


And he who suffers most has most to give.

(from a sermon by Ugo Bassi)

The quote emphasizes the pouring out of our lives, offering what we have from our experiences—particularly from places of deep sacrifice or suffering.

Sounds like a writer. We dig deep into the trenches of our lives where we have wrestled and suffered and paid a cost.  Then we pour out heart-laid-bare, honest words and stories, not for our gain but for our readers’.

The Apostle Paul, who was radically transformed and inspired by Christ’s complete and powerful sacrifice, encouraged the Ephesian church with following:

“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children

and walk in the way of love,

just as Christ loved us and gave himself for us

as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Ephesians 5:1-2 NIV

Walking in the way of love includes knowing well love’s sacrifice:

  • We seek to understand and to be fully grateful for the depth of Christ’s sacrifice.
  • We consider our own suffering with vulnerability, humility and prayerful reflection.
  • We compassionately acquaint ourselves with the sufferings of others.

Only then can I, or any of us, pour out love’s sacrifice, a fragrant offering that serves our readers well.

This is where I want to begin each day. As I turn away from the warmth of the morning fire, my writer’s prayer becomes:

May the words I write today pour out of time spent with you, Lord. May each phrase, reflection or story be a fragrant offering to you and love’s sacrifice for my readers.

 

Want to read another Writer’s Devotional by Jan Kern?

A Courage Challenge

Unleash Wonder in Your Writing

~~~~~~~~~~~

Jan Kern smlCome meet Jan Kern at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 16-22, where she will coordinate the Pre-Conference Next Level Clinics and coordinate the Nonfiction Morning Mentoring Clinic. Jan is also a nonfiction mentor in both programs.

EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT OF $75. expires February 1st.

Click here to REGISTER NOW for the conference.

 

Morning Mentoring Clinics

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

The Morning Mentoring Clinics are filling up fast.

As a matter of fact, Kathy Gillin’s Fiction Clinic for Fantasy/Speculative writers is full! Good news is . . . . we’ve added another fantastic mentor to the faculty roster for a second group of Fantasy/Speculative writers.

WELCOME, JEFF GERKE!

Jeff Gerke  |  Morning Fiction Mentor / Fantasy & Speculative  |  www.jeffgerke.com

Jeff Gerke New Fiction Mentor

 

Jeff Gerke is known for his canny book doctoring skills and his encouraging manner. He’s authored The Irresistible Novel, Plot Versus Character, The First 50 Pages, Write Your Novel in a Month, and The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction–all published by Writer’s Digest Books. Jeff ran Marcher Lord Press, the premier publisher of Christian speculative fiction, which he sold after an award-winning 5-year run. He lives in Colorado Springs with his wife and three children.

Hurry! Only six slots. They’ll go fast.

Click here to register for the conference!

OTHER FICTION MENTORS (with openings as of this posting)

Tim Shoemaker  |  Morning Fiction Mentor—Middle Grade, YA ,Contemporary Suspense, & Mystery  |  timshoemakersmashedtomatoes.com

Tim Shoemaker

Tim Shoemaker is the author of eleven books and is a popular speaker at conferences around the country. Code of Silence, the first in his middle grade series, was listed by Booklist in the “Top Ten Crime Novels for Youth”.  Tim has a passionate style of teaching that makes the mentoring enjoyable and helps make even difficult topics clear.  If you want to strengthen your fiction, Tim will show you how to do it. Happily married for over thirty-five years, Tim has three grown sons and continues to do volunteer youth work.

 

Sarah Sundin  |  Morning Fiction Mentor— Romance, Historical Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction  |  sarahsundin.com

Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin enjoys writing about the adventure and romance of the World War II era. She is the author of seven historical novels, including Through Waters Deep (Revell, August 2015), the Wings of the Nightingale series, and the Wings of Glory series. Her novel On Distant Shores was a double finalist for the 2014 Golden Scroll Awards. In 2011, Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A mother of three, Sarah lives in northern California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies. She also enjoys speaking to church, community, and writers’ groups.

March 1 is the Application Deadline for all Morning Mentoring Clinics! Although I suspect all of the clinics will be full by then.

 

NONFICTION CLINICS and MENTORS (each has openings as of this posting)

Nick Harrison  |  Morning Nonfiction Mentor—General Nonfiction/Self-help/Men’s/Devotional  |  nickharrisonbooks.com

Nick Harrison

Nick Harrison is the author of ten books and a freelance editor based in Eugene, Oregon. For fifteen years he served as a senior editor at Harvest House Publishers, acquiring both fiction and non-fiction. Nick has a long history of championing new and unpublished writers. Nick and his wife, Beverly, are the parents of three grown daughters and grandparents to two boys and two girls.

 

Jan Kern  |  Morning Nonfiction Mentor—Women’s, Spiritual Formation, Devotional, Bible Study & General Nonfiction / Coordinator  |  jankern.com

Jan Kern sml

As an author, speaker, and life coach, Jan Kern is passionate about story—both how we live it with hope and intentionality and how we write it with craft and finesse. Her non-fiction series for teens/young adults garnered ECPA Gold Medallion and Retailers Choice finalist awards. Currently, she is enjoying new ministry and writing opportunities for women. When Jan isn’t writing or coaching, she serves alongside her husband Tom at a residential ministry for at-risk teens.

 

B.J. Tayor  |  Morning Nonfiction Mentor—Personal Experience Stories & Memoir  |  bjtayloronline.com
B.J. Taylor.2

 

B.J. Taylor writes for Guideposts and Angels on Earth and has 40 stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul. She wrote her latest book, P MS to a T: the winning formula for writing nonfiction short stories that sell, to help writers become published authors. Home for B.J. is in southern California with her husband and rescue dog Charlie Bear.

TO RECEIVE AN SPPLICATION FOR A MORNING MENTORING CLINIC, CONTACT:

FICTION: Mona Hodgson |mona.hodgson@mounthermon.org

In the subject line of your email, please write MH Morning Mentoring Clinic, your last name, and specify your fiction genre (fantasy, historical, contemporary, suspense, YA, etc.). Example: MH Morning Mentoring Clinic, Smith, Historical.

NONFICTION: Jan Kern | jankern@gmail.com

In the subject line of your email, please write MH Morning Mentoring Clinic, your last name, and specify your nonfiction genre (Memoir, How-To, Personal Experience, Women’s Issues, etc). Example: MH Morning Mentoring Clinic, Jones, Personal Experience Book.

March 1 is the Application Deadline for all Morning Mentoring Clinics. Although I suspect all of the clinics will be full by then.

Click here to register for the conference.

Unleash Wonder in Your Writing

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Jan Kern smlBLOGGER: JAN KERN

Nonfiction Author

Pre-Conference Next Level Clinic Coordinator and Nonfiction Mentor

Morning Mentoring Nonfiction Coordinator and Nonfiction Mentor

UNLEASH WONDER IN YOUR WRITING

Living in California, drought metaphors come easily as we make our way through one of the driest years on record. I’m reminded every time I step out my door. But at my desk or in front of my computer screen, another kind of dryness threatens to invade my writing efforts. My fingers pause longer than I’d like above the keyboard.

Where am I going with this section of my book?

Is it what my readers are grappling with too?

Does my structure and voice make sense for this project?

What am I trying to say and can it really make the difference I hope for?

Where am I connecting with my potential readers so I can find out?

Is God leading me? Am I listening?

Sometimes we hit a writing drought and our creative progress crumbles like dry dust. We need reminders that rain is on its way.

Jan Kern WonderInDrought

 

Recently a ten-day vacation treated my husband and me to beautiful vistas of the northwest. While that area is also experiencing drought conditions, rain still falls. We saw evidence of that everywhere we looked. Lakes are nearly full. Waterfalls tumble down mountainsides. Rivers seemed to bounce and gurgle with life.

Home again, I stepped outside to enjoy a familiar walk along nearby pathways. The changes, even in the few days we had been away, were stark.  The drought continued to sap any remaining moisture. A bubbling spring-fed creek now dribbled into stagnant puddles. Manzanita seemed burnt, fragile and gray. My steps crunched on fallen brown leaves that had skipped their transitional colors of yellow or orange.

As I walked back toward my home, I prayed that I might catch glimpses of wonder in the drought-stricken landscape. I couldn’t see it. Not that day.

Waking the next morning, I pushed the covers aside and prayed, “Lord, let your Spirit flow through me today. Fill my heart with wonder again.”

Again?

The prayer startled me. Where had wonder gone? Had I let it drain away? With legs swung over the side of my bed, feet ready to hit the floor, I realized that my writing days had become much like my walk the day before—stagnant, lacking delight-filled engagement with wonder. I shifted my prayers toward more specific requests.

Lord, please unleash wonder in my rhythms of writing.

At that moment, wonder became the promise of rain for my writing drought.

Where do you need an infusion of wonder in your writing journey or current projects? Try these tips:

Reconnect to your purpose.

William Wordsworth wrote, “Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. Sometimes we’ve lost our heart along the way to filling our word quotas. One of the greatest places of wonder is found in reconnecting with our initial passion for what we’re doing or to what God has been recently stirring inside. Write a small piece simply for creativity sake.

Remember your readers.

God captured Moses’ attention through a burning bush and called Moses to a specific purpose and people. Step outside and take a walk in a new direction. As you do remember those to whom God has called you to write and what is important to them. When you return to your writing, start in a new place with your readers in mind.

Create your inspiration.

Create a motto that inspires you to keep moving forward with wonder and inspiration, one that you post near your writing desk. Or borrow this one: “Ignite the power of faith and creativity. Be unquenchable!” This happens to be the tagline for the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

Whatever you choose to do, keep moving forward, keep writing. As a friend very wisely said to me, even in the drought there is still life if you look for it.

One place you can be certain to find the promise of rain for a writing drought and to take your current writing project closer toward publication is through Mount Hermon’s Morning Mentoring Clinics. The 2016 groups—both fiction and nonfiction—will focus on specific genres and types of projects. Apply, meet your mentor, bring your project and anticipate wonder!

_______________________

You’ll meet Jan Kern at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 16-22, where she will coordinate the Pre-Conference Next Level Clinics and coordinate the Nonfiction Morning Mentoring Clinic. Jan is also a nonfiction mentor in both programs.

A Courage Challenge

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Many thanks to our 2016 Faculty for supplying two posts a week through the conference in March. 

Jan Kern smlBLOGGER: JAN KERN

Nonfiction Author

Pre-Conference Next Level Clinic Coordinator and Nonfiction Mentor

Morning Mentoring Nonfiction Coordinator and Nonfiction Mentor

 

A COURAGE CHALLENGE

Artist Vincent van Gogh asked the question, “What would life be like if we had courage enough to attempt anything?”

As a writer who is also a credentialed life coach, I love asking questions like this. They are big dream questions that lift us out of the narrow scope of vision we are living. They help us explore, not simply possibilities, but where our heart might be already longing to go, where perhaps God has been inviting us to go next.

But what is courage enough for us as writers?

Courage enough to…

  • slash what isn’t working in our stuck plotline
  • cut open the tough places of our own story
  • take that leap toward a different reader-audience focus
  • face down the daily taunts of inadequacy
  • add our voice to a seemingly satiated market
  • compose those first difficult words of a new project

These are what stir our writer’s gut with longing or fear, where we find we are holding our breath.

What is stirring for you as you look at your unique writing projects or publishing hopes and dreams? Capture a clear picture and then allow me to add one more—a courage challenge:

Courage enough to trust God to take you wherever he needs to in order to shape you as his writer so he might powerfully set loose words and stories through you for his purposes.

Where might he take you? Can you imagine the heights? Or does hesitancy keep you grounded? You might have already seen and been inspired by the popular quote by contemporary poet, Erin Hanson:

There is freedom waiting for you,

On the breezes of the sky.

And you ask, “What if I fall?”

“Oh but darling,

What if you fly?”

In those words, and really throughout Scripture, we see a companion to courage called trust. The question that begins and ends the whole adventure of flying is God’s: “Do you trust me in this?”

______________________

Where do you struggle most with courage?

You’ll meet Jan Kern at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 16-22, where she will coordinate the Pre-Conference Next Level Clinics and coordinate the Nonfiction Morning Mentoring Clinic. Jan is also a nonfiction mentor in both programs.