Posts Categorized: Writers Conference

The Right–and the Left–Way to Prepare for Writers’ Conferences

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Sarah Sundin Right-Left (357x400)

 

BLOGGER: SARAH SUNDIN

Historical novelist Sarah Sundin will serve as a mentor for the Morning Mentoring Clinic, teach an Afternoon Workshop, and serve on the Critique Team at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 18-22, 2016.

THE RIGHT–AND THE LEFT–WAY TO PREPARE FOR WRITERS’ CONFERENCES

Are you a left-brained, analyzing writer? Are you a right-brained, spontaneous writer? If you’re attending a writers’ conference, engage both halves of your brain and plan the right way—and the left way.

Experience has taught me to let the left brain reign before the conference and the right brain fly free during the conference.

The Left Way

Before the conference, analyze and plan. Proper preparation allows you to get the most out of the conference and be relaxed.

  • Decide which tracks and workshops to take. Analyze your strengths and weaknesses as a writer and consider where you are in your career. Pick workshops to target your weaknesses or solidify your strengths.
  • List the editors, agents, and authors you want to meet. Make a list of professionals you’d like to meet—at workshops, meals, etc. This can keep you focused during the flurry of a conference.
  • Prepare your pitch. The most common question at a conference is, “What do you write?” Be prepared to answer with a sparkling one-to-two sentence description. Also be prepared to answer follow-up questions with more detail. But not too much detail. Really.
  • Business Cards. A simple and professional way to remember the wonderful people you meet. Make sure to include your photo, email, and website.
  • Prepare your One-Sheet. (Optional, and only if you’re pitching a completed project). A one-sheet is “you and your project” on a single piece of paper. A catchy tagline, one paragraph about your project, a short bio, and your contact info. Include your photo and don’t overload with graphics.

The Right Way

At the conference, work your plan but let your right brain frolic. Serendipity produces the best conference moments.

  • Let your creativity play. You will learn so much and be surrounded by hundreds of creative people. Soak it in. Brainstorm. Explore new ideas.
  • Veer off your list. Your list of professionals to meet is a guide, not Scripture. Try to meet others, even outside your genre. The publishing industry is fluid, and the editor from House A may be with House B next year—or have become an agent. That casual conversation over dinner might lead somewhere unexpected. And don’t forget, these people know the industry. Ask questions, absorb, and simply enjoy them as people.
  • Meet new friends. Don’t overlook the person next to you at lunch. I’ve met some of my dearest friends this way. We struggled together along the pre-published road and now we’re exploring the world of publication together.
  • Watch for God appointments. My best conference moments come when I set aside my plan. Pray with those who’ve been rejected, who need a boost before an appointment, or who face personal issues. Introduce people with similar interests. Listen for God’s voice about your writing and life. When you look for God at work, you’ll find Him.

I hope to see you at Mount Hermon! Please veer off your list to say hi!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sarah Sundin (501x800)

Meet Sarah Sundin at the 47th annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22, 2016.

Click here to Register Now!

The Name Your Character Game

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Crystal Bowman from FBBLOGGER: CRYSTAL BOWMAN

Crystal Bowman will serve as a children’s writers’ mentor in the Pre-Conference Next Level Clinic, teach an Afternoon Workshop, and serve on the Critique Team at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

 

THE NAME YOUR CHARACTER GAME

I’ve been writing children’s books for two decades and have learned many things along the way. Writing for children is much harder than most people realize—until they try it! The challenge is to write an engaging, creative story using limited vocabulary and word count. Another thing to consider is choosing the right names for your characters. Whether they are human or animal characters, names are important to the story.

Here are a few tips on naming your characters:

  • Be sure the name fits the time period. This is one of the mistakes I often see when critiquing manuscripts. If your story is set in pioneer days, then names like Kaitlyn or Parker are not the right choice. Writers often want to use the names of their children or grandchildren, and those names may or may not work.
  • Site word names. If your story is written for beginning readers, then the names you choose must be early grade level site words. Names like Kate or Jake are first grade words, whereas Charles or Abigail would be at a higher grade level.
  •  Characternyms: Similar to onomatopoeia, when the sound of the word defines its meaning, a characternym is when the name of the character defines the identity of the character. For example, Swimmy is the name of a fish, and Barkly is the name of a dog.  In my Otter and Owl I Can Read! stories, the first draft included actual names for the two characters. The otter was Rex and the owl was Ray. After several revisions, the editor and I found it to be very confusing and we kept getting Rex and Ray mixed up. I then decided to drop Rex and Ray and named my characters Otter and Owl. Problem solved! When used appropriately, characternyms can add fun and creativity to a story.
  • Names and book titles. In classic fairy tales, it’s common for the name of the main character to also be the title of the story. Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel are some examples. When a series of books are created around a main character, the character’s name is often used within the title. In my I Can Read! series based on Jake, a lop-eared rabbit, Jake’s name appears in each of the titles— Jake’s Brave Night, Jake Learns to Share, Jake’s New Friend.  This lets the readers know from the title that these books are different stories, but include the same main character.
  • Avoid the obvious! Although names are not copyrighted, a writer should never use a name that is already popular in another book or series of books. If you have a monkey in your story, do not name him George. If you have a duck in your story, do not name her Daisy.

Writing for kids is always fun, but never easy. The rewards may not be monetary, but having children fall in love with your books and stories and characters, is worth a pound of gold. And you can even put your name on the cover.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Come meet Crystal Bowman at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 16-22.

Click here to Register Now!

At the Cross

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BLOGGER: JESSE FLOREA

Editor, Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr.

Major Morning Track Instructor, Magazine Writing: Starting Point or Destination?

Reviewing Pre-Submission Manuscripts for Editorial Review and Meeting with Writers.

Cross (420x560)

 

AT THE CROSS

There’s a reason Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference occurs during Palm Sunday every year. And it’s not just so David Talbot can lift our spirits to heavenly realms during the annual service on Sunday morning. This conference is truly focused on Christ. And nowhere is that more evident than during the predawn hike to the cross.

If you don’t mind waking up early and can put a pause on personal grooming (I, for one, never shower), you can’t miss this adventure. Just learning more about Mount Hermon as you wind up the roads would make the hike worth it. But the relationships and conversations you have with other participants makes it even better.

Walls don’t seem to exist at 6 a.m. And there certainly aren’t any walls as you walk through the redwoods. The conversations go deeper. Yes, there’s talk about craft, writing experience and comma usage (well, not so much that last one). But you also learn about the other person’s family, passions and hopes. And the coolest part is that you’re walking alongside some of Christian publishing’s best.

If you’re worried about the pace of the hike and elevation gain, don’t be. You need to be in decent shape, but everybody sticks together and encourages each other along the way. And while it feels like you’re climbing a lot, Mount Hermon tops out at 584 feet above sea level. (My house in Colorado Springs is at nearly 6,800.) As further motivation, you can remember that with every step you’re getting closer to the cross—which is what Mount Hermon is all about.

This writers’ conference is designed for you to grow closer to Christ. At the same time, it’s also set up for you to network with other writers and the faculty. Take advantage of one-on-one appointments, critique sessions, night-owl meetings, meals and general sessions to talk with people. Writing can be a lonely business. Usually, it’s just you, a keyboard and a blank screen. Use your time at Mount Hermon to connect with people who share your love for the Lord and build your writing network. And sometimes connecting means losing a little sleep and getting a little exercise.

Oh yeah, one last tip for the hike: Always bring a hat.

________________

Jesse FloreaCome meet Jesse Florea at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in March.

Click here to register now!

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!

Make the Most of the Pre-Conference Manuscript Submission Opportunity

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John VonhofBLOGGER: JOHN VONHOF

John coordinates the Manuscript Retrieval Process during the Main Conference.

 

MAKE THE MOST OF THE PRE-CONFERENCE MANUSCRIPT SUBMISSION OPPORTUNITY

One of the benefits of attending the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference is the opportunity to submit manuscripts for review by faculty. You may submit two manuscripts, pre-conference, by following the guidelines on the conference website. In this blog post, I’ll summarize the process.

Pre-Conference Manuscript Submission Guidelines

You have several options. You can request an editorial review (not a critique) by an editor or agent as a possible match for their needs or you can request a critique by a professional writer. You may submit one or two manuscripts – one for a review and one for a critique, or both for one or the other.  Not sure which to do? Here’s help.

  • Critique – A manuscript for pre-submission consists of:
  • One article or short story (1800 word maximum)
  • One article query, with outline (3 pages maximum)
  • One book proposal. Please do not send complete books.
  • Up to three devotionals or fillers (250–400 words each, maximum)
  • No more than three poems (24-line maximum each)
  • Editorial Review – If you want to discover if a publishing house or magazine would be interested in publishing your manuscript or if an agent might like to represent you, request an editorial review. The same rules as above apply.

Complete details are on the conference website. Click here to see the submission guidelines. It’s important to read the instructions for submitting manuscripts.

  • Manuscripts should be typed, with your name on each page.
  • Your manuscript should be double-spaced. Other parts of your of your submission package may be single-spaced.
  • Manuscripts must be original (your work) and unpublished.
  • The manuscript is limited to 10 pages plus the other components (a cover or query letter, a book proposal, a 1 or 2-page outline for nonfiction or synopses for fiction, etc.).

Choosing Whom to Review or Critique Your Manuscripts

The Resources page  has tabs for Editorial Needs by Genre and Editorial Needs Alphabetical. Use these lists to learn what the editors and agents are looking for. For critiques, use the Critique Team Listing.  Once the conference has started, the Manuscript Retrieval Team can help you think about faculty to approach about your manuscript.

What to Submit

The Query Letter & Book Proposal Guidelines webpage has information to help you prepare your submission. If you are unsure how to write a query letter or book proposal, you are encouraged to check out any of the books available about proposals. My favorite book is Ryan G. Van Cleave’s The Weekend Book Proposal: How to Write a Winning Proposal in 48 Hours and Sell Your Book. It includes fiction and nonfiction proposal examples, a chapter on query letters, and lots of tips on the different components of a successful proposal. You can also Google query letters and book proposals to see examples.

Make sure whatever you submit is your best work. Double-check everything for spelling and grammatical errors. If you are part of a critique group, have them review your manuscript.

Packaging and Sending Your Manuscripts

The Resource section on the conference website has a Letters, Forms & Guidelines webpage that has the Pre-Conference Manuscript Submission Form that you need to print and fill out. It needs to be sent with your manuscripts. For each manuscript submitted, you need to fill in your: name, title of manuscript, email, cell number, circle the type of manuscript, check either critique or editorial review and by whom, and add any comments. Make sure you read and follow the instructions on how to package and send your manuscripts. Be sure to check the appropriate box on the manuscript submission form—Critique by a Published Author or an Editorial Review.

Each manuscript must be in a 9×12 manila envelope with the submission form taped to the top front side. Do not seal the envelope. If the envelope has a metal clasp, please tape over it and do not use it. Manuscript pages should not be stapled, clipped, or bound.

Make sure you do not send your only copies of your manuscript. Either print an extra copy and bring it in a folder or save your files to a USB thumb drive. The Hospitality Center can make copies from either source as needed for a nominal fee.

If you hope to submit manuscripts to additional faculty at the conference, please bring a few extra 9×12 manila envelopes.

All the above information and more can be found on the Free Manuscript Review webpage.

Deadline for Pre-Conference Submissions

All pre-conference submissions must be received at the conference center by Monday, March 14. Make sure your manuscripts are mailed early enough to make the deadline.

When You’ll Get Your Manuscripts Back

Saturday after lunch is the first opportunity to get any manuscripts the faculty has returned. Some are returned after that, depending on faculty’s timing.

Submissions After the Conference has Started

Once the conference has started, you may talk to a faculty member who asks to see your manuscript. Request a signed form from the faculty member and process your manuscript through the manuscript retrieval system in the Hospitality Center. The Manuscript Retrieval Team will get the manuscript to the faculty member. The faculty’s first obligation is to those who submitted pre-conference submissions.

All manuscripts must go through the Manuscript Retrieval System for tracking. Please do not hand your manuscript to an editor for review. Likewise, do not allow an editor to hand you your manuscript if it has not been checked back in through the system.

The Manuscript Retrieval Team

The Manuscript Retrieval Team, located in the Hospitality Center, is eager to help you with your manuscript questions. The team can look over your manuscript, query letter and book proposal; and help with ideas on faculty that you might talk to about your manuscript. We’d also be happy to answer any questions you may have about the manuscript process. Feel free to email me at: john@johnvonhof.com.

John Vonhof and Dan Kline

Manuscript Retrieval Team

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Come meet John Vonhof at the 47th Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22!

Click here to Register now!

Don’t Miss The Facebook Giveaways

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Only SIX WEEKS to go before we gather at Mount Hermon for the 47th annual Christian Writers Conference, March 16-22! I hope you plan to join us. The main conference begins Friday, March 18!

Check out the FACULTY!

Check out the PROGRAM!

 

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to celebrate the upcoming conference with FACEBOOK FRIDAY WEEKEND GIVEAWAYS!

OT Studios, the Olneys and the Beckwiths who record the General Sessions, Major Morning Tracks, and Afternoon Workshops for sale during the writers conference each year, donated FIVE complete sets of the 2015 recordings (CDs/Thumbdrives).

20150514_075852_resized (570x760)

 

First, visit Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference FACEBOOK PAGE and Like the page.

Then stop by every Friday and leave a comment on the GIVEAWAY post to enter the drawing for a 2015 set of recordings from the General Sessions, Major Morning Tracks, and Afternoon Workshops.

Friday, February 5 ~ Friday, February 12 ~ Friday, February 19 ~ Friday, February 26 ~ Friday, March 4

ENTER GIVEAWAY

Comment on the GIVEAWAY post on Friday, then check back each Sunday afternoon to see if you’ve been selected to receive a set of the 2015 recordings. See your name listed as the winner? Email me at mona.hodgson@mounthermon.com with your mailing address.

In the meantime, be sure to finalize your plans to join us in the California redwoods next month!

Click here to REGISTER NOW for the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

PLEASE SHARE!

Self Ambition, Self Preservation

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Susie LarsonBLOGGER: SUSIE LARSON

Susie is teaching two Afternooon Workshops and serving on the Critique Team at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22.

 

SELF AMBITION, SELF PRESERVATION

We love to write. We long to be published. We decide to step out of the boat. Others seem to skate right through the publication process. Yet for us, progress often feels slow and the frustrations, constant.

Over the years I’ve met writers who experienced quick success only to fizzle out within a few years. And, I’ve met writers who had great potential but allowed their fears to keep them from taking the risks necessary to succeed. Looking back, they now feel only regret. What happened in these situations?

When we finally awaken to the idea that God wants to do great things in and through us, two temptations may also surface for us:

  • Self-ambition
  • Self-preservation

 Self Ambition:

The minute we decide to pursue our dream, we notice those with similar dreams who seem a little farther down the road. We feel impatient. And even frustrated. We’re tempted to posture and plan and to use people as a means to and end. We justify grabbing quick solutions and shortcuts to our goal.

So what’s the problem with a healthy sense of self-ambition? And is all ambition bad?

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. 

Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,

not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” 

Philippians 2:3-4 NIV

Self-ambition compels us to drive beyond what’s healthy or even realistic.  We sacrifice relationships for opportunity. We strive in our own strength instead of humbly stewarding our current assignment. Self-ambition makes us self-focused; it blinds us from seeing the value in others and the significance of their call. Self-ambition neglects the wisdom in God’s timing.

As Christians, our God-given call to write will always make life better for others. God brilliantly designs our call to fit our story and to nourish many.  And, as an invested, loving Father, He will not send us out until we’re ready.

If you’re frustrated and tempted to take matters into your own hands, I dare you instead to humble yourself and trust God’s timing in your story. Apply yourself to the task before you. Learn what you need to know. One day you’ll break through.

Self Preservation:

When we take the necessary steps to learn the craft and to educate ourselves on the publication process, we eventually find opportunities designed just for us. Where in the past, our ambition and impatience compelled us to strive forward and self-promote, oftentimes it’s our fears that compel us to pull back and self-protect.

When our humanity touches our dreams, it’s tempting to hit the breaks and think, I could really mess this up. What if I fail publicly? What if I make a fool of myself? Maybe I’m not ready. I’m definitely not ready.

Publishers tell us that of the conference attendees who actually receive an invitation to send them a book proposal, only 25% follow through with this invitation! Think about that for a moment: 75% of writers who dream of being published, when faced with an opportunity to submit a proposal, never walk through that door.

Do not let fear keep you from achieving your dreams.

And do not let self-ambition drive you to strive in ways that are beneath you.

You can trust God’s timing.

Work hard. Stay the course. Be humble. Be teachable. And one day your hard work will pay off and your faith will become sight.

“Work like it all depends on you. Pray like it all depends on God.”[1]  –Mark Batterson

[1] Mark Batterson said these words on my show, Live the Promise with Susie Larson

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Meet Susie Larson at the 47th Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in the California redwoods, March 18-22, 2016.

Click here to REGISTER NOW for the conference.  EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT OF $75. expires TODAY, February 1st!

Tips for Capturing Emotions in Your Novel

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Angela BreidenbachBLOGGER: ANGELA BREIDENBACH

Angela will teach an Afternoon Workshop and serve on the Critique Team at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22, 2016.

TIPS FOR CAPTURING EMOTIONS IN YOUR NOVEL

Emotions are often scary because we feel out of control. Enter the writer who needs to infuse emotion into the character and story so the reader can feel them as the story world unrolls page-by-page. The problem isn’t knowing the words to use. Anyone can write dictionary words like angry, funny, afraid, hurt. But the story doesn’t evolve from just words, does it?

Capturing emotions in your novel means capturing your own emotions—and then being willing to let some stranger get really intimate with you by, gasp, reading them. Writing a novel is much like writing a journal. A journal is a safe place to pour out all those secret feelings in any order. No one is editing. No one is judging. But a novel?

My favorite “secret” place to capture my emotions for a novel is my personal journal. I don’t mean telling all my secrets by writing them on the page for those unknown eyes. I mean looking at the actual words I use to describe how I feel. When I’m angry, I let my pen leave fiery, ferocious words like an avalanche. They roar down the page until I’m spent. When I’m jotting a funny moment, the ink chortles in spurts of glee. And when I write of love the prose dances in swirls and loops caressing the memory.

Journals are excellent places to write your thoughts, memories, and experiences. But they’re a treasure trove when you need just the right word to express an emotion happening in your story. The way you express yourself in your real world is invaluable to the way your characters express themselves in a fictional world.

How, you ask?

Make column headings for basic emotions like anger, sadness, joy, fear, Surprise… (Think of those words as the simplest form.) Go through your journal and put the emotional words you find in the appropriate category. Once done, you’ve just created your own emotional thesaurus in words you would use. As you’re mining those gems, you’ll make another amazing discovery — your writing voice. A little refining, you’ll see characters leap off the page without revealing your personal secrets.

Share an emotion word from your journal that one of your characters could express. (Remember, just the emotion word, not your secrets.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Come meet 2016 faculty member Angela Breidenbach at the 47th annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22.

Click here to register now.

The $75. Early Bird Discount ends Monday, February 1, 2016!

7 Steps to Writing Great Flash Fiction

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Ben WolfBLOGGER: BEN WOLF

Publisher, Splickety Magazine, Splickety Love, Havock 

Teaching an Afternoon Workshop, Reviewing Pre-Conference Manuscripts and meeting with writers at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 18-22.

 

7 STEPS TO WRITING GREAT FLASH FICTION

Instant gratification reigns supreme in today’s fast-paced society. I could go into a spiel here about Twitter, DVR, multi-tasking, and Big Macs, but we all live it (and, in most cases, love it) every day.

Writing is no different. E-readers are replacing traditional books (some e-books even use short video clips throughout the story), and narrative summary, back-story, and omniscient POV are “four-letter words” in the writing industry now. Why? Because readers want books that read like movies. And it better not take much longer to read than it did to watch, either.

So that’s where we are. Sharp. Hard-hitting. To the point. In and out, nobody gets hurt. Enter: Flash Fiction.

First, let’s establish what flash fiction is not. It’s not a part of a bigger story, or a synopsis for a novel, or a short story trimmed down to fit the 1,000-word maximum. It doesn’t cause brain-strain with convoluted point-of-views and time shifts. And it absolutely, unequivocally, down right does not require the reader to go back and read the story again to understand what the heck is going on.

So what is it? A flash fiction piece is a self-contained story (beginning/middle/end), 1,000 words or less, that can entertain, intrigue, and satisfy a reader during an F5 tornado. That’s it. No genre restrictions, age requirements, or prior experience needed. Just quick, clean stories.

So how does one craft a fresh, unforgettable story in less than four pages? The same as with every other story, just quicker. Here are some good ideas to get you started:

1) You’d better have one heck of a hook. Flash fic readers have busy lives and short attention spans, so your first task is to convince them your story is worth their time.

2) Put your characters in conflict with someone or something. You have less than 1,000 words to create a character, to mess with her so she feels totally wrecked, and then to resolve the problem one way or another. Not all conflict has to be resolved for the character’s benefit. In flash fiction, you don’t have to have a happy ending, but there needs to be some sort of problem or issue for your character to face, otherwise we’re bored.

In other words, something has to happen.

3) Satisfy your reader. “To be continued” works for sitcoms and comic books, but not for flash fiction. In and out, remember? Wrap your story up so tight and so fast that your reader can’t help but love you for it.

With that in mind, be creative. Use a Bible verse to form a thoughtful allegory. Write something from a wasp’s viewpoint. Kill your MC in the first line. Have a grandma tell about the time she stubbed her toe if you want, but for your readers’ sakes please make it interesting.

Finally, here’s a list of personal pet peeves sure to push you to the back of the line when it comes to acquisitons:

  • Leave your reader confused even after she’s re-read the story 3 times.
  • Bore your reader to tears even after he’s re-read the story 3 times (or use clichés like “bore me to tears”).
  • Use hokey dialect instead of giving a character an actual voice.
  • Send in your submission without a title or author name.
  • Fail to provide a plot.
  • Use incorrect (or un-factual) history or information in a genre where accuracy matters (like historical fiction).
  • Use your story as a soapbox.

Any questions? If not, then go forth and write on. If so, well, go forth and write on anyway.

Here are the Seven Steps to Writing Great Flash Fiction:

  1. Subscribe to Splickety’s newsletter and get three free issues of Splickety’s magazines to see how it’s done.
  2. Create a compelling character. Highlight only his/her most important features and details.
  3. Pick a setting. Describe only its most unique aspects. Your readers will fill in the rest.
  4. Put your character into conflict with something/someone externally, then identify his/her internal struggle(s). Please note that you need both kinds of conflict, even in such a short story.Remember: something has to happen.
  5. Don’t forget your plot: plan your beginning, middle, and end.
  6. Add some more conflict in there. More tension for your character usually makes for a better story.
  7. After you’ve written and edited your story, give it to a test reader, a critique partner, or your editor. Then submit it for publication.

________________________

Come meet Ben Wolf at the 47th annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, March 18-22, 2016.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER NOW FOR THE CONFERENCE!

$75. Early Bird Discount expires February 1!

You Want to Speak at Schools? Do Your Homework.

Posted by & filed under Writers Conference.

Tim ShoemakerBLOGGER: TIM SHOEMAKER

Tim will serve as a fiction mentor for a Morning Mentoring Clinic at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 18-22, 2016 and lead a bonus session Friday night, Preparing for the Appointment 

 

YOU WANT TO SPEAK AT SCHOOLS? DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

Speaking at a school is a pop-quiz—and a quick way to ruin your reputation. If you don’t do your homework, that is. Some authors seem to feel that just showing up for a classroom visit is enough. They go in with a celebrity mentality, and that’s a big mistake. Huge.

There was a day when meeting an author was rare. Now you can hardly ride an elevator without bumping into a writer. Authors aren’t the novelty they once were. If we want the admiration of others, we need to earn it.

One of the biggest obstacles to getting into schools is other authors who have been there before you. Authors who thought they were celebs. Authors who bored the students. Authors who left faculty unimpressed—and consequently gun shy to bring another writer in.

You want to create a good impression … so here are some things to remember when you’re doing your homework for a school visit.

-Be normal in the way you talk, act, and dress. Building a quirky character for your story? Great. Being a quirky person in real life? Weird.

-Find out how the teachers dress. You don’t want to overdress, and definitely don’t want to be more casual than they are.

-Trying to be cool is not cool at all. Don’t wear jeans and a T-shirt because you’re a cool author—or want the students to think you are. News flash … if you’re over twenty-five you’re old in their eyes.

Don’t try to be like the students. Kids don’t respect that. You’re older. You have wisdom to offer. Share that, and many students will long to be as smart as you. You’ll inspire them and give them something to aim for. Dumb speakers try to be like the kids … and give the students little to shoot for.

-Arrive early. Stay late. Try to deliver more than the teachers/staff expect.

-Bring a gift for the teacher or librarian. A poster of your book. Your book.

-Bring something for the kids. A bookmark picturing your book works well.

-Have more prepared than you can possibly use for an author visit. Have things ready to fill time if kids aren’t asking questions. Was there some actual event that inspired your story? Is there some inside scoop … some little detail about your story that nobody else knows? Kids love to hear about that stuff.

-If they offer you a stool or chair, thank them … but stand. Sitting up in front of a bunch of kids in some elevated king-chair drips with self-importance. Stand. Move around closer to the students.

-If you’re not a people person, stick with a blog. Please. You’ll hurt your reputation—and people may think you’re writing is just as awkward.

Speaking at schools is like a pop-quiz. Whenever students are involved, you never really know what’s coming next. But the grade will stick. Do your homework, and you’ll do just fine.

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Come meet Tim Shoemaker at the 47th annual Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 18-22, 2016.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER NOW FOR THE CONFERENCE

$75. Early Bird Discount expires February 1!