Thursday, February 27, 2014

Bonnie Doran: Green and Mean

            What do you do when you’re jealous of another writer?
             I’m embarrassed to say I’ve battled the green-eyed monster and it’s won. Most of us struggle with envy at one time or another, but we writers have a more difficult time.
We’re already pounding the pavement to get our book agented or bought or marketed. We’ve worked so hard to be noticed. And then someone comes along and signs a three-book deal with a New York publisher.
             When we get an agent, the fun doesn’t stop there because we become envious of all those people who have a publisher. Then when our baby is finally in print, our eyes narrow into green slits because someone else got a multi-book contract. Needless to say, the monster-go-round doesn’t stop when we sell two books at a book signing but our friend sells twenty.
             The problem is that jealousy can morph into despair. He made it to the bestseller’s list, she’s #105 on Amazon, so why should I even bother? Instead of striving to write the best we can, we aim for mediocrity and usually hit it.
             I have no pet formula for permanently escaping the dragon of jealousy. But there are a few things that have helped me:

  1.       Owning up to it. I might sing in the choir or teach a Bible study, but it doesn’t make me immune.
  2.      Confessing it. My jealousy doesn’t come as any surprise to God, but telling Him puts me “on record.”
  3.      Confessing to a friend. This is tougher. When I tell someone that I’m jealous, I’m admitting I’m flawed. My prideful self doesn’t like that one bit.
  4.       Asking God to change my attitude toward my friend.
  5.       Asking God to rearrange my priorities and expectations. Am I writing for my own glory or for God’s? Am I willing to wait for His timing? Do I trust Him? 

            I hate to admit how many fellow Christian writers I’ve envied: The gal who attended her first writers conference and sold an article to Focus on the Family, while it took me years to make a magazine sale. The novelist who got a three-book contract while I was struggling to get any interest in my stand-alone. The author who sold a hundred copies at one book signing while I sold two at mine.
        God is continuing his work in me. I can usually rejoice when a friend gets that prestigious award, even when I wish it were me. I can smile when a fellow writer sells seventy copies in a coffee shop. My next challenge? Being really happy when someone’s novel is optioned for a Steven Spielberg movie.
           Jealousy is woven into human DNA. We can’t do much on our own to change it, but God can. 

About Bonnie Doran:

Bonnie’s debut novel, Dark Biology, released September 2013 from Harbourlight, an imprint of Pelican Book Group.

She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband of thirty years. They’re owned by two Siamese cats. John is an electrical engineer who works with lasers for a living. He’s also a Mad Scientist who owns a 2,300-pound electromagnet.

Bonnie’s interests besides writing include reading, cooking, solving Sudoku puzzles,  and volunteering at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. She attends a local science fiction convention as well as various writers conferences each year. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, its North Denver Chapter, and the Denver Area Science Fiction Association.

Dark Biology:

Renowned vaccinologist "Hildi" Hildebrandt has set her sights on beating her brother to a Nobel Prize, and the opportunity to conduct experiments on the International Space Station might just provide the means to obtain that goal. Chet Hildebrandt should have had that opportunity. But now he'll teach a lesson to them all: his hot-shot astronaut sister, his philandering hypocritical father, and the CDC for not properly appreciating his work. One vial of a virus purloined from the CDC labs and released at his father's marriage seminar should do the trick, without hurting anybody. After all, it's only a mild influenza strain...Or is it?

Find Dark Biology at:

Pelican Book Group


Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Delia Latham: A Devotion for Writers


Making Something Out of Nothing

Genesis 1:1—In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

God put His “Seal of Approval” on creativity from the start.

He brought forth the earth and seas and sky and everything above, below and in between…out of “thin air,” as the saying goes. But it wasn’t magic. It was creation (the act of producing or causing to exist, according to

And it wasn’t easy. God needed rest after he’d finished His work. The first verse in the Bible is most likely the ultimate understatement of all time. I’m convinced those six days of
intense creation entailed far more thought and planning than scripture reveals. Is it possible there might even have been a “do-over” or two?

We’re allowed to see only the finished product of God’s original creative process. He kept specific details—the “making of” the making of the world—to Himself. Just handed us the complete, finished work to enjoy.

Isn’t that what we do as writers?

Our Father taught us by example, and we’d do well to follow the Leader:

·         Start with a blank canvas. Nothing there. Just an empty page and the desire to turn it into something magnificent.

·         Let there be light. Come up with a bright idea and shine it into some kind of outline, plan, synopsis, scribbled overview…whatever works best for each individual.

·         Bring in the atmosphere. God placed the sky between the heavens and the earth. We create a mood…a blue sky or a dark one. The atmosphere that will have a bearing on every page of our creation.

·         Fill the pages with life.

o   God put plants and trees in the land He’d created. We insert situations that make readers want to know what happens next.

o   He overhung all those growing things with the sun, moon and stars. (Aha! Our Father knew we would need a bit of spark in our lives.) Writers must also set off some fireworks that liven the atmosphere and make hearts pound a little harder.

o   He then filled the land, sea and sky with life—sea creatures, birds, animals…and man. Yep, characters, human and otherwise.

Writers are a far cry from being God…but we are made in His image, and our writing should reflect that image, as well. What better role model could we possibly have than our heavenly Father, the God who made something (read that “everything) out of nothing at all?

Reflection:  As you “create” new worlds, people it with characters and plant it with gripping situations, do you make a conscious effort to follow the Leader’s example every step of the way, every word of the day?

Father, You’ve called me to write, and I will. But please give me the anointing to turn the written word into an anointed creation, to make something out of nothing, just as You did. I ask it in the name of Jesus Christ, the Name above all names. Amen.

Delia Latham

© 2012

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Paula Mowery: Are You Starting Well?

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / iqoncept
As an acquisitions editor, I read a lot of manuscript beginnings that don’t get off to a good start. I often push on through at least the first few chapters, but a reader isn’t required to read on. We authors want our readers to be captured and reeled in, not wanting to stop reading our work.

So, how can we start well? Let me offer a few suggestions to help us evaluate whether we’re off to a good start.

Does my story start in the middle of the action?
We’ve heard this taught and read it in writing craft books, but what does it mean? This means start with something exciting, something that will hook the reader. Often writers begin with a beautiful description of setting or pour on the historical background of the main character (backstory) to make sure the reader is up to speed.

Don’t make your reader wade through all of that background information. Jump into the story. Shock that reader! After you capture their attention then you can go back and fill them in a little at a time as the information is needed.

Is my story showing the reader what is happening?
Yes, the dreaded show versus tell is important in the beginning. Don’t cop out by using telling words like felt, thought, wondered, and remembered. Show me in detail how the character felt. For example:  Telling - She felt sad.  Showing – Her chest ached and tears slid down her cheeks and off her chin. Don’t tell the reader she felt sad. Make the reader feel the sadness. That will further hook your reader and make them stay for the rest of the show.

Am I following the rules of grammar?
Ugh. English class. You got that right. Check to make sure your writing is in proper sentence form as well as consistent in verb tense. This is another common problem. The normally acceptable verb tense to write in is past tense. This means that you write scurried instead of scurries. The only times that you include present tense verbs are in dialogue and internal monologue.

Is my POV consistent?
At the beginning of a story make sure you choose a main character or the main character to begin. Write only what that character can see and experience. This includes not having that character describe her own physical description. Do not switch point of view unless you indicate this by some kind of wingding like three stars (***) or something similar. Remember that the POV character can’t see herself turn red or blush. In her POV, blushing would be warmth crept to her cheeks.    

Should I start with a prologue?
Can I be honest here? Many of the prologues I have read are just backstory dumps. Presently, I don’t see editors really keeping a prologue.

Refer to the first suggestion – just jump into that story. You can trickle backstory in as needed later.

Also, I’ve seen a prologue completely give away a story. Don’t do that. Keep that reader guessing so she can’t put down that book until she reads: The End. 

These are just five simple elements a writer needs to guide her in making sure she gets off to a good start with her story. Before clicking that send button, really study your story’s beginning to make sure it captures your reader and reels her in, not letting her go.

PAULA MOWERY is a pastor's wife and a former homeschool Mom. She’s also a Christian writer. Her articles have appeared in Woman's World and in an ongoing column on She also writes Christian fiction. Paula’s debut novella, THE BLESSING SEER came out July 6, 2012 from Pelican Book Group. The sequel, BE THE BLESSING, released Sept. 13, 2013. She is an author and acquisitions editor with Prism Book Group. My story, Forgiven, is in the anthology, Brave New Century which released Nov. 13, 2013. This book appeared on Amazon's Top 100 Bestsellers in Religious Historical Fiction.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Delia Latham: Broken-Record Writing

With the advent of cassette tapes and CDs, the term “broken record” is fast becoming obsolete - or, at the very least, one of those terms that later generations will continue to use with no idea what it really means, or how the phrase came to be. I’m hoping most people still know what it means.

Even if the experience is not personal, most of us have heard the result of a scratched record. The needle gets hung in the scratch, the record keeps spinning, and the result is an annoying repetition of the same words—over and over…and over again.

It happens in writing, as well. Sometimes our characters’ repetitious actions make a reader crazy.

My heroes chuckle a lot. They grin when I can’t think of anything else for them to do. They love to “quirk” or “hike” an eyebrow. My ladies’ lips “curve upward in a smile” way too often.

I recently read a rough draft chapter for an author whose characters overused their hands. Every few sentences, an action tag involved the word “hands.” She wrung her hands. He ran a hand through his hair. Their hands touched. He stuffed his hands into his pockets. She placed a hand over her mouth.

Talk about your broken record! A whole book of that would have me breaking the record over the hero’s head.

A friend admitted that she uses coffee as a tool for too much of the action in her story. He poured himself a cup of coffee. She wrapped her cold fingers around the hot mug. He sipped the hot brew. She tasted the lukewarm liquid and set her cup back on the table. He put on another pot of coffee. If I consumed as much caffeine as these characters, I’d never sleep!

No author wants a reputation for being a broken record writer. I certainly don’t. So how can we avoid overusing expressions and actions to the point that our readers want to throw our books against the nearest wall?

People communicate their internal feelings in many different ways. Non-verbal communication can be one of a writer’s strongest tools, if used with discretion. According to some studies, body language accounts for fifty-five percent of communication, so we definitely should use it to make our characters more real. Experts have found that certain actions usually indicate specific frames of mind, though some are interchangeable.

Is she lying? These actions might give the reader a hint: 
  •      Avoiding eye contact by looking down or away
  •      Using her hand to touch her face or head
  •      Holding something in front of her body, like a barrier
  •      Smiling insincerely (lips and mouth only, it won’t reach the eyes)
  •      Shuffling her feet
  •      Clenching her jaw
  •      Licking her lips

Has something captured his attention? Non-verbal signs might include: 
  •     Direct eye contact
  •     A nod
  •     Tilted (or cocked) head
  •     Leaning forward
  •     Dilated pupils

 Is your character bored? She will show it by: 
  •     Turning her body slightly away
  •     Looking around, but not directly at the person or object of boredom
  •     Glancing at her watch
  •     Tapping her fingers or toes
  •     Shifting weight from one foot to the other
  •     Yawning 
If she’s attracted to someone, she’ll do the following: 
  •     Blink rapidly
  •     Lean toward the person she’s attracted to
  •     Mirror the other person’s actions
  •     Adjust her clothing; smooth her hair; clean her  glasses (some form of unconscious preening)
  •     Stare
  •     Raise her eyebrows, even if only for a second or  two
Is he undecided? He’ll probably: 
  •     Stroke his chin, rub his cheek or forehead
  •     Scratch the back of his head or neck
  •     Narrow his eyes
  •     Purse his lips
  •     Tilt his head
  •     Wrinkle his nose 
Nervous people might: 
  •     Blink rapidly (Aha! Some actions are duplicated  across multiple mindsets)
  •     Clear their throats
  •     Wring their hands
  •     Fidget
  •     Massage their temples
  •     Adjust their collars
  •     Cross their arms
  •     Clench their jaws or show other signs of muscle tension 
Is your character angry? Describe it with: 
  •     Clenched fists
  •     Frowning
  •     Baring teeth (snarling)
  •     Narrowing eyes
  •     Placing hands (or fists) on hips, feet spread 
Have a hero who wants to dominate? He will: 
  •     Walk in brisk strides
  •     Place his hands on his hips, and maybe spread  his feet
  •     Raise his eyebrows
  •     Clasp his hands behind his head
  •     Narrow his eyes

A mountain of information is available on body language and its interpretations. If you’re in danger of too much repetition in your characters’ actions, a little Internet research could pay big dividends. Learn about body language and prevent your characters from becoming robotic and repetitive…your readers from going justifiably insane…and yourself from being a broken record writer.

Delia Latham
© 2010

DELIA LATHAM is a born-and-bred California gal, raised in a place called Weedpatch and currently living in the lovely mountain town of Tehachapi with her husband and a spoiled Pomeranian. She enjoys multiple roles as Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, but especially loves being a princess daughter to the King of Kings. She has a "thing" for Dr. Pepper, and loves to hear from her readers. Contact her through her website or send an e-mail to Find her also at the following online locations:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Therese Travis: Romance for Writers

Who doesn’t love a little romance in his or her life? Look at Valentine’s Day—all the chocolate and flowers and fancy cards with sweet verses inscribed inside. (Did I mention the chocolate? Because I’d hate to forget the chocolate!)

Romance writers have a special calling. They need to take the basic plot—boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy almost loses girl, boy wins girl—and make it new and fresh, and different from the thousands of other stories utilizing the same plot. How to do this? I mean, people have been falling in love forever, right? I’m assuming Adam was the only guy who didn’t have to wonder if Eve liked someone else better—no rivals for him.

Judging from the number of romance books sold, we do a great job. I admit, though, that I sometimes just can’t wrap my pen around the romance. I shudder at the thought that they just might not make it, that some small thing, easily overcome by someone with a clearer vision, will keep them apart forever.

How could I do that to my precious MCs (main characters)?

(I know, as writers, we’re supposed to. It’s still hard.)

But then I started to look at those “small things,” the things an outsider could see as wrong, but the characters can’t. And using those, I began to see my way.

It’s not the lie that will bring love to your characters, but the reveal: The lie is, in fact, really a lie.

Begin on a collision course. Your female MC’s development intersects with the male MC’s, and at the beginning of the story, there’s no way either of them can enter into a relationship with the other person. And yet, that person is theirs, ordained by God. You’ve got the whole manuscript to show your characters the truth of this.

Choosing the lie is the hard part. The fact that you’ve got to find one for each prominent character, and make them mesh, can make you want to toss your options into the wind and let the birds pick for you.

And don’t get me started on what these lies have to do with love. Love should always be honest, right? But if our MCs are lying to themselves, how can they be honest with each other?

Ooh, perfect tension.

I don’t need a man. Or a woman. I don’t deserve love. I don’t like you. You’re not my type. I have my career to worry about first. I have other obligations. No one will want me. There’s someone, or something, I love more. Lots of lovely lies. Lots of lovely ploys to keep your lovers apart.

Add in to this the faith angle, and you’ve got even more tension. None of us are perfect in our faith, and we’re all on our own journeys. We’re not going to match steps. And we have our standards. What if we put those standards, or lack thereof, before the will of God?

The middle of the story is what I sometimes call the muddle—everything can, and should, go wrong. The fight against the lie, loss of ground, proof that the lie is true, all these should come about.

And then—that step of faith—whether it’s faith in God, or self, or another person, leads to the first kiss. Just as it should.

In my latest release, A Fistful of God, a YA, Aidyn believes no normal boy could be interested in her. She needs to realize her worth, that it’s all right to reach out. Miguel believes he has to choose between protecting his mother and loving Aidyn.

Wishing you a happy, romantic Valentine’s Day (because who wouldn’t want it?) and don’t forget the chocolate!

A Fistful of God

She's never taken a drink, but she's recovering from alcoholism all the same.

After the death of her father, teenager Aidyn Pierce spends all her time cleaning up her mother's messes. So when Mom announces she's getting sober, Aidyn doesn't believe her. Mom has tried before, and Aidyn knows there will come a time—a day, a week, maybe even a month from now—when the cravings will be too much, and her mother will start drinking again. So, when Aidyn is encouraged to attend support meetings, she refuses. No point in wasting her time when her mother's going to drink again, anyway.

But what Aidyn doesn't count on is the healing power of love and friendship, and the incredible strength of God to walk both mother and daughter through the dark valley of addiction and recovery.

Therese's books on Amazon

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Delia Latham: Writing the Line

canstockphoto13006701 Kiss Cross

What makes Christian romance "Christian"?

Writers, please understand before you try to write an inspirational romance: Placing characters inside a church building on Sunday mornings, or having them say grace before a meal does not make a novel inspirational.

If I had to sum up the essence of inspirational romance in one word, I'd use "relationship." The major difference in a secular romance and an inspirational one really is that simple: the emotional connection (relationship) between the hero and heroine, and between the characters and God.

Aside from the stringent expectation of quality writing, certain additional standards exist in the world of Christian fiction. A writer hoping to place a manuscript in this market would do well to become familiar with those finely drawn lines and stay well within their borders.

I can point out the right direction. You'll have to choose the roads.

1. The sensuality meter

I was once challenged by someone who felt the words "Christian" and "romance" conflicted.

"You cannot write about romance and call it a Christian book," he stated. "Christians don't partake in romance, at least not until after they're married. And no one wants to read about that stuff between a husband and wife. What's the point?"

How sad, this inability to distinguish between sex and romance!

Let me try to make it easy.

  •   Romance is the wooing of another's heart and the emotions involved in that courtship.
  •   Sex is the physical consummation of a physical attraction (no relationship necessary).

In a Christian romance, sex is off limits for the unmarried hero/heroine, and takes place behind closed doors for married ones. What's left? Relationship.

That said, eliminating blatant sexual activity is not the be-all and end-all of an inspirational novel. What is important is the interweaving of the characters' spiritual journeys into their lives—and that includes their romantic overtures.

Physical attraction should be a part of the story, but it will be communicated through emotions instead of hormones. He may notice the way the heroine's dress accentuates her curves, but he won't focus on those curves. He'll be drawn to her sense of humor, her generosity, her sweetness of spirit. Neither is she blind to how he looks in those hip-hugging jeans, or the way his muscles bulge when he ropes that heifer. But her emotional reactions will supersede any physical ones. She'll be moved by his gentleness with an injured animal…touched by the respectful way he handles an annoying elderly neighbor…moved to tears by his love for children.

2. Christian protagonists

A Christian romance will focus on two relationships:
  • the one developing between the hero and heroine, and
  • the one between those characters and Christ. (This one must be  clearly defined, either from the start of the story, or by the end of it.)
It is acceptable to start a book with a protagonist who doesn't know or is estranged from God, but that spiritual rapport will grow and evolve throughout the storyline and must be reconciled by the last page.

3. Dealing with sin 

In real life, Christian people live with and among non-Christians. So it is within the pages of a book. Contributing characters may smoke or drink, get pregnant before marriage, have abortions, cheat, steal, lie…even murder. That's life. These characters' non-conformity to a godly lifestyle adds color to the storyline.

It is crucial, however, that the main characters either stay on the straight path or find it. 

4. Preaching

Ultimate challenge: Do all of the above without turning the story into a sermon. Readers read for entertainment and escape - not a class on Christianity. Any message the author wishes to deliver must be woven seamlessly into the storyline. The reader should not be aware of any spiritual lesson…until it's already learned.

What makes Christian fiction Christian? The differences aren't many, but mighty. I like to think of it as giving my readers a touch of Heaven in an earthly tale. Why wouldn't I write on this side of the line?

Delia3 - web - smallDelia Latham is a born-and-bred California gal, currently living in the small mountain town of Tehachapi with her husband Johnny. She’s a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend—but above all, she treasures her role as princess daughter to the King of Kings.

A former newspaper Staff Writer and frequent contributor to her hometown’s regional publication, Bakersfield Magazine, she has also freelanced projects to a public relations firm and various magazines; has compiled, edited, and designed cover art for various Kindness Incorporated projects; and sold greeting card verse. Find out more about this author on her website, blog, Facebook Author Page, or Twitter. She also shares a blog with the Heart’s Haven writing team. She loves hearing from her readers, so drop in and say hello—you’ll make her day!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Patti Shene: In It to Win It

 Patti 10-22-13
A few emails have come through my inbox lately announcing the opening of writers’ contests. I’ve entered some over the years and served as a judge for several.

I want to share some “in it to win it” tips from the perspective of a contest judge. What do we look for? Why do scores vary so widely between judges? What lessons are there to be learned from entering a contest? Which contest should I enter?

What do judges look for?

I can’t speak for other judges and their methods, but I will share what I expect to find when I evaluate a contest entry.
First, I give the entry a rapid read. This is where I make comments within the body of the work on blatant errors, such as obvious incorrect grammar, spelling, or word usage.

Example: King Hawthorne rained over the land of Lavindale with an iron fist.

Unless you intend for King Hawthorne to possess the power of a god who can produce rain, the word you want is reigned.

Example: “I don’t suppose you would go with me.” She said.

There should be a comma after me, not a period.

While revealing the writer’s knowledge of basic writing skills, his first read also gives me an idea of what the story is about, the writer’s voice, and her grasp of basic story elements, such as point of view and characterization.

The second read is when I evaluate content: the initial hook, the flow of the story, motivation of characters, balance of dialogue versus narrative, and use of descriptive detail. These factors weigh heavily when scoring.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when editng your work before entering it in a contest:

What have I revealed in my first line that compels the reader to want to know more about the character or situation I have introduced?

Suggestion: Create a situation that conveys a sense of urgency or a character forced to make a major decision.

Have I defined my characters in such a manner that readers can identify with them on some level?

Suggestion: This does not necessarily refer to physical description. Give the reader insight into your character’s goals, motivation, and response to his situation.

Does the story move forward without multiple references to the character’s past?

Suggestion: Stay in the moment. Do not jerk the reader out of the story with paragraphs of backstory.

Suggestion: Avoid “talking heads.”  Show your characters’ body language to reveal emotional responses to verbal interactions. Use beats verses tags to identify the speaker.

Do I make use of all five senses to enhance my scenes? 

Suggestion: Don’t tell the reader your character walked out of an air conditioned building into sweltering heat. Show him squinting against the brilliance of the sun because he misplaced his sunglasses. Describe the feel of the trickle of sweat down his back in the 100+ degree temperature.

Have I used descriptive action verbs?

Suggestion: Specify your action verbs. A character who walks into a meeting late draws less attention than a character who stomps, marches, bursts, flounces, or saunters through the door.

These are just a few of the basic elements that will make or break your story when you place it in competition with the work of other writers.

Why do scores vary so widely between judges?
One of the most enjoyable social activities I engage in is our local monthly book club. Even though we all read the same book, we come away with a different perspective on the story, the characters, and the author’s motivation for writing it.

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / Norebbo
Just like readers, every judge brings to the table their own thoughts and biases about what is good writing and what isn’t. Keep in mind that most judges do have some level of experience to back up their observations about your writing. If the same issue is brought to your attention by more than one judge, recognize it as a weakness that needs to be improved upon and take steps to do so.

On the other hand, you know your story. If you disagree with one judge’s suggestion of recommended changes, seek input from other writers.

What do I gain from entering a contest?

Self-esteem is #1. You did it! You consider yourself a writer and you have the confidence to put your “baby” out there in front of sometimes very critical eyes.

You will receive valuable input from people in the industry who have seen hundreds, maybe even thousands, of stories.
You must exercise the discipline required to meet a deadline.

You learn to follow directions. This may sound silly, but it prepares you for meeting submission guidelines set forth by a publishing house. Often, failure to use proper format will result in rejection, both in a contest and from an editor.

Which contests should I enter?

Almost all writing contests charge an entry fee. You can find as small or as large of a competition as you want. Writing groups in your area may offer contests. Various chapters of organizations such as RWA (Romance Writers of America) sponsor contests. ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) offers an annual contest as well as individual chapter contests. National publications such as Guideposts advertise an annual writing contest.

Prizes vary from a few dollars to large amounts of cash. Sometimes, publication in the respective magazine or on a website is realized, free admission to a workshop or conference, or paid membership in a writers’ organization.
Consider the level of competition you wish to engage in. If you’ve never submitted work, you may be entering solely for the feedback you will receive. A smaller, less expensive contest would be more appropriate to meet that need.
Whatever contest you choose to enter, do so with an “In It to Win It” attitude, incorporating the above tips to polish your work until it is the best it can possibly be. Even if you don’t clinch that coveted first place spot, you come out a winner for the experience you will have gained.

Patti Shene
 has enjoyed writing since childhood. She is published in two anthologies, Love is a Verb Devotional and Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters, as well as in local publication

She served as Executive Editor for Starsongs, a publication of Written World Communications (WWC), written for kids by kids from 2010 – 2013. She also held the position of Division Manager for YA and Children’s Imprints with WWC for several months.

She has three novels in progress. Patti enjoys encouraging other writers by judging contests and featuring writers as guests on her three blogs, located at
Patti is a retired RN, formerly from Long Island, who resides in a small Colorado town with her husband of thirty-six years. They have two wonderful adult children and one amazing 12- yr old granddaughter.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Delia Latham: My Ten Commandments of Writing

This post is part of a mini-blog hop, in which a few writers have committed to writing their own 10 Commandments of Writing, and sharing them with each other and the public via posting to their blogs. Following is my own, personal Ten Commandments of Writing. The other authors are listed at the bottom of this post, with links to their Commandments. We hope you’ll visit them all! :)  
canstockphoto1334702 STONE TABLETS

1. Thou shalt not make writing thy god.

Whatever has top priority in our lives becomes our god. In my life, only God is God. I will control my career; it will not control me. Writing is high on my priority list, but God is #1 on that same list. Family is #2. Then comes Career…#3.

II Peter 2:19b—People are slaves to whatever has mastered them.

2. Thou shalt never forget Who gave thee the talent to write. Allow this Giver of Gifts to dictate the words thou writest, and never forget that thou art nothing more than a scribe for Christ.

God is the author. I am only His transcriptionist. ALL the glory…ALL the honor…ALL the recognition belong to Him. Should I ever be blessed with success in the publishing industry, I will never fail to recognize the true Author of the books whose covers bear my name.

1 Corinthians 10:31—Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

3.  Thou shalt write something every day. 

 A journal entry, a blog, a short story or article.  A chapter in your current WIP. Something. Every. Day.

That said, life sometimes hands out a slice of “Surprise Pie” that puts a kink in the works of my best-laid plans. Things will happen that I cannot control. As often as possible, I will push aside, climb over or dig under the road blocks and write anyway. But on days when it “just ain’t happenin’,” I will not let that little kink clog my writing arteries. I will make up for the day’s loss by writing more the next day or two.

Proverbs 24:16— For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again.

 4. Thou shalt write a certain number of words per week on a current WIP.

Even when certain days do not include working on my WIP, by the end of the week, a specified word count goal should be met. Consistently. Every week. Otherwise I’ll end up being buried someday with a stack of journals no one wants to nose into tucked into the folds of my satin-lined casket…and very few completed, published and well-received novels.

Proverbs 16:3— Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.

5.  Thou shalt not be kind to thy hero/heroine.

Effective conflict does not happen with spoiled characters. As a writer, my job is not to mollycoddle my hero and/or heroine. I must toss them into a rink with the three H’s: Hardship, Heartbreak and Hopelessness. Take away the things they love most. Put them in situations that seem impossible to overcome…and then help them overcome them. (Or, in the words of James Scott Bell, “Get your lead up a tree, throw things at him, get him down.”) Just like in real life (and the Army, of course), sometimes a little tough love is necessary to make a person “be all they can be.”

Ps. 66:10-12 (NIV)— 10 For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. 11 You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. 12 You let people ride over our heads;  we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.

6. Thou shalt be a ruthless killer of thy “darlings.”

My words are not sacred. I will cut them. Edit them. Scratch them. Toss them. Learn to tell the difference in gold and “fool’s gold.” I’ll keep the best, toss the rest…then put the “best” to the test and start the process all over again. Eventually, I will hold in my hand a shining nugget of pure literary gold. A true darling.

Pro. 25:4—Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.

 7. Thou shalt accept constructive criticism with grace, and willingly learn from the wisdom already gained by more experienced authors.

The Bible has a lot to say about the ability to receive instruction…and the woes that befall those who refuse to do so. Success comes from applying oneself to learning from others who have already “been there.” No one is born knowing everything he or she needs to know to be successful — in life or in any chosen field.

It’s crucial that I develop a thick skin and absorb instruction and constructive criticism like the water of life…because, as far as my career is concerned, it is. I will ask for it. Accept it. Take it with a smile. Apply it. And I will become a better writer.

Proverbs 23:12—Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.

8.   Thou shalt not forget that someone helped you, nor fail to return the blessing by helping other writers traverse the path you’ve already walked.

 The circle of writing life. One learns, and then passes on that acquired knowledge to less experienced writers…even as one continues to learn more. I will never stop learning and never stop passing on the blessing of knowledge. The circle never ends.

Genesis 12:2— And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing.

  9.  Thou shalt not covet thy fellow author’s gift, nor compare thy gift with another’s.

Learning writing techniques and mechanics from more experienced authors is a good thing. Trying to duplicate their writing styles is not a good thing. I will learn from others, but I will apply my own skills and talents and experiences and uniqueness to develop a voice and writing style of my own. I will write like me. Mimicry and uncomplimentary comparison of myself to another writer is not beneficial.

2 Corinthians 10:12—…but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

 10. Thou shalt write with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and will all thy strength, and with all thy might.

I will write with passion and joy. Nothing offered half-heartedly is ever good enough.

 I will love what I’m doing for as long as I do it. If I stop loving it, I will stop doing it. I cannot write with passion if I don’t love to write. And if I can’t write with passion, I’m wasting my time and my readers’ time. I will love it or leave it.

However, I must remember that “the gift and calling of God are without repentance.” God has called me to write, and He’s not going to change His mind. But He wants me to be joyful in my journey. Based on Ps. 16:11 (see below), it would stand to reason that, if I lose joy in doing what God called me to do, then I must have somehow taken myself out of the presence of the Lord. If that happens, I must find Him again… absorb myself in His presence…and find my way back to a joyful writing journey.

Col. 3:23— Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.

Ps. 16:11— Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Well, those are MY commandments. The links below contain commandments written by author friends. Please…won’t you visit them, as well?

Clare Revell on The World Can Wait
Jayna Morrow on

Julia M. Toto on

Brooksie on Groovie Brooksie 

Lilly Maytree at Lilly Maytree Blog

Linda Yezak at 777 Peppermint Place

Therese M. Travis  at Paperfaces

Pamela S. Thibodeaux at Pam's Wild Rose Blogspot