Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas Tea

Pam Pimental, Marta Burden, Lily Matsumoto, Sue Tornai,
Jerry Farmer and Leota Haynes
The Sunrise Christian Writers celebrated the incarnate birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, at a tea held Thursday, December 19, 2013. Eras Cochran read a captivating tale about Flash, a pet turtle. The story was written by Penny Howard and published in The Moving Finger Writes, a compilation that also features Eras' story, "Sense Memories."

We shared great food, fellowship and a book exchange.

Eras Cochran
This year our writers have been published in Inspire Faith, Friends of Inspire Faith, The Moving Finger Writes, Chicken Soup for the Soul-Devotionals for Wives, The Upper Room, Light from the Word, Devotions, Seek and Mature Living. The coming year promises to be another great year for our writers.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Christmas Tea

Sunrise Christian Writers, mark your calendars. Our Christmas tea is December 19, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. at 5500 Stately Oak Lane, Carmichael, CA 95608. Bring a treat to share.

We will have a book exchange. If you would like to participate, bring a book. It doesn't have to be new or about writing. Our writers love to read so whatever you like, others will too.

This is a great time to recognize our writers' success, so if you have been published this year, please email Sue Tornai at suetornai@comcast.net the title of your published piece and where it was published. Congratulations in advance for your accomplishments.

Please RSVP Sue Tornai by email at suetornai@comcast.net or by phone at (916) 990-5728. We look forward to seeing you.

Harvest Luncheon

Eras Cochran hosted a potluck luncheon at her home on the fifth Thursday in November 2013. She decorated her home with a harvest theme. Even her backyard, which we could see from the dining room table, showed beautiful signs of the fall season.

We discovered more hidden talents of our writers. They are great cooks and bakers. Delicious food shared with friends made a wonderful memory.

Although this was not a typical writers meeting, we enjoyed hearing stories from our creative storytellers.

Thank you, Eras, for opening your lovely home and sharing lunch with us. We love your hospitality.

Sunday, September 29, 2013


Reflections is the title and theme of our first collection of poems, devotions and stories (fiction and nonfiction) written by Sunrise Christian Writers in Fair Oaks, California.

We are calling for contributions from our members to compile a book to celebrate our first year in operation. Reprints or manuscripts which have gone through our critique process will be accepted. If you submit reprints, please tell when and where published. You may submit as many manuscripts as you like.

Please submit your stories with a short author bio (no more than 50 words) to me at suetornai@comcast.net before December 19, 2013. These books will make great gifts for friends and family. When you submit, please let me know how many you want to order. We are charging $5/each to cover the cost of printing and binding.

The books will be released the fifth Thursday in January. Thank you in advance for your contributions to our first compilation and congratulations!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Six Ingredients of a Book Review

It's good in our craft to write book reviews for our successful author friends and other authors whose books we read. When I read reviews on Amazon and other online book sellers, I read a lot of book reports instead. What's the difference? I did some research and one of the most informative blogs I read was Book, Line and Sinker.

Think of the letters in "review" as your reminder how to write a review.

R    Relay basic book and author information.
        Title, genre, something about author.  
E    Explore the content. Write an overview. Don't give away too much of the story.
V    Voice your opinion. Credible characters?  Authentic dialogue? Problems?
I      Issues. What issues does the book discuss? Is the book issues driven?
E     Elements. Discuss exposition, characterization, symbolism, etc.
W    Windup your evaluation. Make your point.

Write enough to inspire readers to read the book without killing the story. How do you write a review? a little review and a little report? Which helps you determine whether you will read the book someone else reviewed?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ten Steps How to Write a Compelling Story

Learn how to write stories that capture and keep your readers interest, and you'll submit one story after another for publication. Here are ten proven steps to use for your storytelling success:

  • Pick a creative title. This will catch the reader's eye with enough curiosity to begin reading your story.
  • Use a powerful hook in the first sentence or paragraph. Start with the most exciting part of your story, the conflict or problem.
  • Continue to use conflict and resolution in several scenes to develop your story.
  • Use sensory details in your descriptions. Let your reader hear, see, smell, touch, and taste what is happening.
  • Show, don't tell. Write active verb sentences and resist the temptation to use adverbs and adjectives (ly and ing words). Avoid using passive language, forms of the verb "to be"(is, was, were, has, had, would, could, should, etc.).
  • Use believable dialogue in fiction and nonfiction. Read your story out loud to check your conversations.
  • Include a turning point, the place where your main character changes direction in thought or action. 
  • Your turning point will reveal the takeaway value of your story. Make it clear without spelling it out. 
  • Write a conclusion that will keep your reader thinking about your story a long time after finishing it.
Who accepts personal experience stories? Here are a few publishers:
Angels on Earth
Inspire Press

Be on the watch for other magazines and anthologies that use inspiring stories. This is a growing market to grow your writer platform. Don't miss the opportunities.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Congratulations Scotti!

Congratulations go to Scotti Fritts, one of our award winning authors. She won second place in the Write to Inspire poetry contest and is the editor for contributions to Inspire's new book of poems. Scotti also took second place in the Dancing Poetry Festival sponsored by the Artists Embassy International. She will read her poem with the reading voice of an angel at the event on Saturday, September 14, 2013 at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. Scotti has been published in Fuller Focus and Songs from the Heart.

Read one of Scotti's poems and you'll know why she takes the awards.


Rounding the corner, Pastor’s
Car was parked out front.
Knowing what had happened,
I felt sick to my stomach.

Even though we expected it,
I didn’t expect it today.
After all,
We’d been nursing Susie’s
Leukemia for so long.

Once inside the house there
Wasn’t time for me.
Mother was a basket case
And dad was trying to comfort
Her, and Pastor was trying to
Comfort both of them.

So I went hunting for Joe my
Big sixteen pound cat.
I found him in his favorite
Spot lying in the sun on
The back porch.

Gathering him up his
Front paws hung over my
One arm and the back ones
Hung over my other arm, I
 hugged him close to me.

Dropping down on my bed,
I clung to him and drenched
Him for hours.
He never moved.
He just kept licking my
Face, and when I was done
He licked himself dry.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Congratulations Darleen!

Congratulations to Darleen Gossett who took first place in the poetry contest at the Write to Inspire conference, July 19-20, 2013, an Inspire Christian Writers event. Darleen has been published in devotional magazines, Highlights for Children and Friends of Inspire Faith. The title of her winning poem is "Elohim."


The glowing sun sets in the mountains
behind a shadowy backdrop
of graceful firs and majestic pines.

A bright yellow and black caterpillar
inches along a milkweed stem
and begins an astonishing journey.

A robin proclaims Spring with cheerful note
early in the morning--and tugs
on an unsuspecting earthworm.

A velvety rose, deep-red, delicate
grows beside a garden pathway,
perfumed elegance for blissful lovers.

A newborn baby sleeps--sheltered
in his mother's arms, breathing sweet
warmth against her comforting body.

I look around and my heart cries out,
"Who is the author of such breathtaking
beauty and magnificent design?"

His name is Elohim--

He is God, the Almighty

Creator of all things.

Darleen Gossett

Way to go, Darleen! Stay tuned to learn about more winners at the Write to Inspire writing contest.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Four Steps to Reduce Rejection

Would you like to reduce the number of rejection letters that arrive in you mailbox? Would you like to receive more acceptance letters for manuscripts you spend hours researching, writing, editing, and rewriting? It's possible.

First of all, understand that a rejection letter is not personal. It may not even mean your writing is bad.
Thank you for taking the time to write and submit your story. However, it does not meet our current editorial needs.
This statement often means exactly what it says. Here are ways you can avoid it.

  • Resist the urge to write what you want first. Find out what publishers need and submit accordingly.
  • Do your homework. If you want to write a book, study the market guide and see what publishers accept the genre and themes you like to write. Review the publisher's catalog to see how you could submit something that fits but is little different. Consider using some of your chapters as articles in magazines to build your platform.
  • If you are writing articles, read the market guide for your genre. What magazines are looking for things that interest you? What can you contribute? By all means, if the magazine has a theme, write within the theme and within the word count. Follow the writer guidelines. 
  • The more frequent the publication, the greater the need for articles. Sunday school magazines need articles 52 time a year. Most have at least 8 articles. 
  • Use the proper submission format. Find samples in the front of the Writers Market, published by Writer's Digest. You'll also find copies of query and cover letters. 
Even if we follow all the guidelines, we will still receive rejection letters. Remember it's not a personal thing. It just means your story didn't fit the publisher's needs. Maybe it's not the right slant. Maybe it's not good enough. Maybe the magazine published something similar to your submission last month. Put yourself in the editor's position, and learn as much as you can.

Freelance writing is a business. Show yourself and your craft as professional as possible. Fulfilling publisher needs, doing research and meeting deadlines are all satisfying and profitable. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Good Writers are Great Readers

Writers read, read, read and read some more.  Although I have a library on my Kindle and another on my iPhone, I still purchase books. Amazon is my favorite place to shop.

A long time ago I ran out of shelf space, and many of my books are in boxes or in stacks in my office, bedroom, living room and family room. I read a lot. Time doesn't permit me to read all the books on my list, so I started downloading audible books to my iPhone and I listen while I walk two miles in the morning. Sometimes at the end of the two miles, the action is moving along so well, I'm tempted to walk further or run to my office and keep on listening when I should be writing. Why do I read? Let me count the ways.
  • For pleasure (my favorite)
  • For research (second favorite)
  • For inspiration (Sometimes I'm inspired to write an article or story from something I read.)
  • To learn (lots of books about writing)
  • To study (to hone my craft)
  • To keep up with my blogging/writing friends
  • To keep up with the markets.
Write without reading? Are you kidding me? For me that would be disaster. I've learned that my writing improves whether I read for pleasure, research, inspiration or education. It's a life-long process.
What book(s) are you reading? What genre is your favorite? My inquiring mind would love to know.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

What is Description?

Rebecca McClanahan uses eight pages in the first chapter of her book Word Painting to define description. She uses our senses to put us in the middle of scenes she writes and gives us a taste of great ways to describe. Sunrise Christian Writers will begin a study of Word Painting August 1, 2013 at Sunrise Community Church, 8321 Greenback Lane, Fair Oaks, CA 95628, Room B107, at 9:30. Books are available at Amazon.com.

If you would like to paint great scenes in fiction, non-fiction or poetry, read the first chapter, pages 4-12, and join us next Thursday. We look forward to seeing you.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Give It All Now

I like the point Max Lucado made in Monday's devotion, Follow God's Impulses. He quoted from Annie Dillard's book, The Writing Life.
"Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book--give it, give it all, give it now."
While this is good advice for writers, it is great encouragement for life. Don't hold back. Give it all you got. Do it now. I am amazed that when I give it all today, God keeps blessing me so I have more to give tomorrow and the next day, whether it's money, time or talent. It's a mystery to this world, but a principle of my faith.
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV)

Thank you, Father God, for creating us in Your image so that we find pleasure in giving. Help us not to hold back but to give generously. Amen.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Coming Soon - Book Review Thursday

August 29 will be here before you know it. That is our next fifth Thursday and Sunrise Christian Writers will have a salad bar and book review. Now is the time to think about what book you would like to present to our group. Don't have one in mind? Read the book on top of your "To Read" stack and be prepared to tell our group about it. Maybe you are like me and you don't know which book to present. Bring two if you like and if we have time we will hear both book reviews.

Bring a salad ingredient and your book reviews to Sunrise Community Church, 8321 Greenback Lane, Fair Oaks, CA 95628, room B107. We will begin at 10:00 and break for lunch at 11:30. We look forward to seeing you.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Learn to Write with Description

Sunrise Christian Writers will study Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan to learn how to write with description. Our training workshops are the first and third Thursdays each month, beginning at 9:30 at Sunrise Community Church, 8321 Greenback Lane, Fair Oaks, CA in Room B107.

Our first class will be Thursday, August 1, 2013 with a discussion of Chapter 1, What is Description? On Thursday, August 15 we will review Chapter 2, The Eye of the Beholder. If you do not have a book, there is plenty of time to purchase it and read the lessons. We look forward to seeing you.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Release of The Prisoner of Carrot Castle

Today is the release of The Prisoner of Carrot Castle by Chris Pedersen, available in book format and iPad App. It was the top downloaded App on iTunes during a promotion last month. How appropriate that the official release today is the "National Eat Your Vegetables Day." Congratulations Chris!

A few years ago doctors told Chris she would not survive her colon cancer, but God had another plan. Today Chris is cancer free and has a passion for eating healthy and teaching others how to eat healthy. Find her story and delicious recipes at Healthy Journey Cafe.

I met Chris today for lunch and picked up a signed copy of The Prisoner of Carrot Castle for my great-granddaughter, Brooklyn. I can't wait to send it to her. I wish I could be there when she receives it, but her nana will have to do.

Would you join me in celebrating Chris' success by sending her a note of congratulations in a comment? I can't wait to celebrate your success too.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Kick Writer's Block

Do you feel like your creativity went on vacation? Have your characters betrayed you? Are you void of conflicts or emotions? Are you between projects? Writers face the blank screen for a number of different reasons, but help is on the way. Here are things I've found that help me kick writer's block:
  1. Pray. The first thing I do when the ugly blank screen stares at me, is pray. Since I'm a Christian and a writer, God is my boss and He has helped me overcome many blank screens.
  2. Read. I read a lot--fiction and nonfiction. Ideas for projects and proposals blossom from reading a novel or a non-fiction book. I'm currently reading Who Is That Man? on my Kindle by John Ortberg and falling more in love with Jesus. Although I read novels for entertainment, I read with a note pad near to write down any ideas that pop into my mind.
  3. Exercise. Yep, the E word, a word not many writers enjoy, but when I am stumped on how to bring a scene together or how to make my point, I go for a walk. Many times the sunshine and fresh air stimulate the creative juices and give me answers. I find that truly amazing.
  4. Chocolate. This is the miracle food that generates ways to fill blank screens with paragraphs and pictures. I keep a package of chocolate covered raisins on my desk in case of emergency. 
  5. Switch projects. I like to have several stories in process, so when one stumps me, I switch to another one for a while. Upon returning to previous projects, I'm amazed how re-reading what I have gives me ideas for next steps.
  6. Take a break. Stretch. Call someone to say, "I love you." I've come to find out that it's not all about me. God doesn't just use my writing--He uses my other gifts of encouraging and helping others. It makes me feel wonderful when God uses me and it gives me things to write about.
  7. Clean. The C word--another word writers try to run away from. Sometimes when the blank screen plagues me, I stop and clean up my desk and office. It always amazes me how I can think better with a neat desk.
I'd love to have a few more resources at my disposal. What do you do do kick writer's block?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Way To Go Shannon and Jenny!

Congratulations to Shannon Dittemore and Jenny Lundquist! They signed books for my granddaughter, Morgan Marton, among others, at Face in a Book in El Dorado Hills. What a beautiful store! These two women have accomplished more than many writers do in a lifetime. I am so happy for both of you!!

Shannon's Angel Eyes and Broken Wings have been published by Thomas Nelson. The third in a series, Dark Halo, will be released August 20. Way to go, Shannon!

Jenny's Seeing Cinderella and Plastic Polly have been published by Aladdin Mix. Her third, The Princess in the Opal Mask, will be released in the near future. You go girl!

Join me in congratulating these great authors by leaving a comment. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Precious Moments in Poetry

Sunrise Christian Writers held a tea and a poetry read today. Eight members and two guests enjoyed  delicious food, tea and great fellowship.

We usually don't read to each other, but today was different. We had fun hearing our members recite their poems as well as poetry from famous authors. Mary sang her Hillbilly Bible song, Eras reflected on what it was like to be a teen with skin allergies, and Leota made us all laugh with the Llama poem. Some of the poems were about love and others were about faith. Each and every one were awesome. Thank you for sharing!

I don't know how we could top this event, but our next fifth Thursday is August 29. Do you have any ideas?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Tea Time Reminder

Thursday, May 30 is our fifth Thursday and we are having tea in our usual room, B107, at 10:00, Sunrise Community Church, 8321 Greenback Lane, Fair Oaks, CA. We will read poetry to each other. If you would like to share copies of your poem, that would be great. Please bring your tea cup, saucer, dessert dish, flatware and tea time treat. We look forward to seeing you!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Master SEO

SEO (search engine optimization) is probably the most important factor in setting up a blog or writing articles for the Internet. Master it and you could earn a residual income. While blog title and domain are important, unless you can figure out how to draw an audience, they don't count for much.

Here are five ways to make your blog SEO savvy:
  1. Use catchy post titles and subtitles. Put them in your tags/labels.
  2. Determine keywords or key phrases for each post that will draw from search engines. 
  3. Use links from other blogs or websites that helped in the research of your article.
  4. Bold and italic print attracts SEO attention. Use them in titles and subtitles. Do not overuse them. 
  5. Don't overuse keywords or phrases in your posts. You could end up on a blacklist.
Read other blogs and comment on them. Read all you can about Internet writing. Don't worry if some of it's over your head. Keep reading. It will make sense to you as you write.

Check out this great article, "How to Build a Residual Income With SEO & Yahoo Voices" by Alexandra Romanov. Valuable information.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tea Time

Our fifth Thursday is fast approaching. That means tea time and poetry with Sunrise Christian Writers.

When:  May 30, 2013
Time:   10:00 a.m.
Where: Sunrise Community Church
             8321 Greenback Lane
             Fair Oaks, CA, Room B107

Plan to attend and bring at least one poem and a treat to share. We look forward to seeing you.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Ten Steps to Create a Blog

Have you started a blog yet? Blogging gives writers practice in writing short, tight and well. By creating an editorial calendar, you make your own deadlines and commit to them. Consistency helps build an audience. Here are a few things to consider when you start your blog.

  1. Determine the purpose for your blog. How will your content be different from other blogs? Can you keep new posts coming on a regular basis?
  2. Choose a blog provider (Blogger or Word Press). There are many.
  3. Choose a domain name. 
  4. Choose a template that will complement your purpose.
  5. Choose a layout (2 columns--main content area with 1 sidebar or 3 columns--main content area with 2 sidebars).
  6. Make an outline how you want to organize your blog. How many pages? Page titles?
  7. Schedule your editorial calendar. Start with posting articles once a week. Then go to twice, three times or five times a week, but don't wear out your welcome with your audience.
  8. Research post topics. Include links to points of research. If you interviewed someone, make sure you link to her website. If you wrote a book review, include links to the author website and her book sales page. If you researched a topic, link to the articles where you found the information.
  9. Gather links to your blog roll. 
  10. Read and comment on other blogs and watch your traffic grow.
Have you found things that work for you? Please share them in our comments section.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Ten Steps to Developing an Internet Presence

I met Laura Christianson at The Christian Writer’s Conference at Redwood Chapel a few years ago. She was the featured speaker. Here are some great tips she gave for growing your Internet presence. 
  1. The top social media tip of the day is “Simple Works.” Write clear and concise. Cut the adjectives, adverbs and clich├ęs. Jesus’ simple message was/is “Come and See.” Invite your readers to come and see.
  2. Pay attention to what’s going on in the world: listen and engage, best sellers, top blogs, political issues, faith issues. We need to know the world we hope to change.
  3. Did you know that 20% of the people calling 411 information are looking for churches? Did you know that the number of 411 information calls for palm readers has risen 217%. Our world needs to know the clear and simple  truth about God’s amazing love.
  4. Since we find free wi-fi everywhere, it’s important to have an Internet presence. Whether our readers are waiting in a doctor’s office, having lunch, or waiting at the airport, they need to be able to find us. We must be easy to find and give away great content. Readers want to know “What’s in it for me?”
  5. Use videos as much as possible. We remember 10% of what we read and 50% of what we see in videos. Create an account on YouTube, Facebook,  and/or Twitter. If you do not have a website or blog, create them.
  6. Consider the possibilities of print on demand publishing. More and more readers prefer reading books on electronic readers. The business doubled in 2010.
  7. Did you know you could publish with Kindle? It’s called Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Upload your book. No need for an ISBN. Sell your books for $2.99 to $9.99. You get 70% royalties. Is that incredible or what?
  8. Do you know about SmartPhone technology? These phones can read bar codes. You can have your own Quick Response (QR) code linked to your blog or website and print it on the back of your business cards.
  9. Laura Christianson is the blogging pro. Visit her blog at http://www.bloggingbistro.com/.
  10. Your Internet presence is a step in the right direction toward building your platform. A first step for you might be creating a blog. Sunrise Christian Writers is starting Blogging 101, a four part training, on May 2, 2013. We look forward to seeing you. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Dealing With Writer's Block - Part 2

Last week we started discussing how to deal with writer's block from the 18th Chapter--"Writer's Block," in Donna Goodrich's A Step in the Write Direction. Today we will discuss Part 2 of the same chapter.

You're Stuck in Your Writing:
Donna says the biggest reason for this happening is that you haven't planned in advance what you're going to write. She uses outlines. The more detailed the outline, the easier your writing project will go. This works for fiction and nonfiction.

Too long with my bottom in chair wears me out and I have to get up and go for a walk. Getting out in the sunshine is great for gaining a positive perspective. Other times I need to read or pick up my knitting needles and work on something totally different. It's amazing to me that when I am reading or knitting, fresh ideas come to mind about my writing project.

One way to avoid writer's block is to hitchhike your thoughts while your writing by jotting down related ideas when you're working on your current project. While searching for a Bible verse for one devotional, you might see and idea for another devotion in a nearby verse.

You've spent a lot of time researching for an assignment. Use the research to write another article with a different slant or write a short filler article for different publishers. Sell reprints when the first contract has expired. This works if you've sold first or one time rights, but not for all rights.

What do you do when you struggle with the blank page? I'd love to read your comments.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Dealing With Writer's Block - Part 1

Facing the blank page is difficult for writers, but it's something we have to deal with. Chapter 18, "Writer's Block" (reasons and solutions), in Donna Goodrich's A Step in the Write Direction is so good I wanted to capture some of the main points for you. I have divided this information into two posts. One today and the next to be published on April 28, 2013.

Sometimes life gets in the way. We may suffer from personal or family health issues, loss of job, home or someone we love. During times like these, I've found it hard to stay on track, but I try to at least write in my journal--facts, prayers or things I feel during the pain.

A Difficult Assignment:
I've had the overwhelming assignment that caused me to procrastinate, wondering how to handle the subject. Breaking the project into manageable pieces encouraged me to write a little every day. Now before I accept an assignment, I consider its complexity and if I'm really qualified to write it or if I can research it. This has saved me a lot of grief.

Too Many Assignments:
I apply for assignments and pray to receive them. Earlier this year I received several within a short period of time. It seemed daunting to me until I wrote down what was required of each one and the deadlines. Then I mapped out what I had to do each day and week to meet the deadlines. Working on two or three projects at the same time inspires and motivates me to keep writing.

No Inspiration:
Runners run, bikers bike and writer's write, right? Runners and bikers have to train every day whether or not they feel like it. Many times I don't feel inspired to write but write is what I have to do. I don't have a full time job to go to anymore, so I write. The most challenging times for me are the times between projects or assignments. During these periods I use writing prompts or market research to get me writing again.

Look for more ways to deal with writer's block next week. Meantime, if you have something that works for you, I'd love for you to leave it in a comment.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Conference June 5-7, 2013

The whole earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14). Will you write words, inspired by the Holy Spirit, that cause the hearts of the nations to burn for Jesus? Join us for three days of training, impartation, worship and encouragement as we answer the call to penetrate every domain of society with the Word of truth.

933 College View Drive
Redding, CA 96003


Plan now to attend and follow this link to register:

Saturday, April 6, 2013

On Writing Memoirs

Many writers who attend workshops and critique groups are writing the stories of their lives. They want to share the wonderful things they have learned over the years so others can learn from their experience. My cyber friend, Terry Whalin, has an excellent article for you if this is your desire. Visit his blog,The Writing Life.

I also found a couple great books that will help you: 

Writing & Selling Your Memoir: How to Craft Your Life Story So That Somebody Else Will Actually Want to Read It, and Writing Your Memoir.

Check out Cec Murphey's blog series on biography vs. memoir. 

Have you thought of writing little snippets of your life journey? You could earn a little compensation by taking time to write personal experience articles for magazines and blog posts. By doing these two exercises, your writing will become tighter and better, and you'll build a platform for yourself.

Are you writing your story? What do you think about capturing snippets into personal experience articles?

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Seven Tips for Writing Your Personal Experience Story

Do you blog or journal your experiences? Do you have a story to tell? Here are seven tips to follow as you develop your story for publication.

  1. Consider what magazine you would like to submit your story to. Get a copy or two and study its style, departments and columns so you can suggest how your article will fit into their periodical. Find their writer guidelines. Do they want queries first? Do they want submissions by U. S. Mail or e-mail?
  2. Think of an attention grabbing title.
  3. Start with a powerful hook--action, problem, or conflict.
  4. Use fiction techniques--show (don't tell), multiple scenes, plot, climax, dialogue, description.
  5. What is the point of your story? Make it your takeaway. Christian editors are looking for takeaways.
  6. Write your query or cover letter. This has to be every bit as good as your manuscript or better. Make the editor want your article.
  7. If the publisher sends you an assignment from your wonderful query letter, submit your story exactly as assigned and within the prescribed deadline. Sometimes assignments are on a speculation basis. Make your story excellent so it will be accepted and so you can get more assignments with this publisher and build a working relationship.
Here are some great books on writing:
Writers on Writing-Top Christian Authors Share Their Secrets
Writing for the Soul by Jerry B. Jenkins
On Writing Well by William Zinsser

Monday, March 25, 2013

Ending Your Query Letter

You've grabbed your editor's attention with a great opening and outlined your take on an area of interest for her readers. In the closing you must sell yourself. This is the part of the letter that is cousin to a resume. Tell what qualifies you to write the story whether it's life experience or writing clips. If you're a beginner, do not say you have not been published. Instead, describe your experience or research on the topic.

This is the place for experienced writers to say where you've been published and include clips with your letter. If you submit your query by e-mail, be sure to include links to your clips and/or your website.

Don't miss the opportunity to ask for the assignment. I usually end my queries with something like, "I appreciate your consideration of my story "Title," and I look forward to hearing from you. All that is left is a polite closure. I like to use "Blessings" for the Christian market and "Kind regards" for the general markets. Be sure to include your contact information in your signature.

If you haven't already done so, I hope you'll purchase your copy of Queries and Submissions by Thomas Clark.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Heart of Your Query

Stay focused on the purpose of your query. Remember to include these eight ingredients:
  1. Gain your reader's attention with an opening most appropriate for your story.
  2. Awaken a need for your idea.
  3. Tell how readers will benefit from your story.
  4. Use facts, opinions and statistics from experts or other reliable sources.
  5. Don't overdo details in your letter. Those are for your story.
  6. Give the reader a reason to respond. Then make a confident request.
  7. Don't assume your reader is convinced by prefacing your statements with, "As you know," or "I'm sure you agree."
  8. Reveal your plan by with an outline of your story idea.
This is a chapter well worth the time and energy to study it in Queries and Submissions by Thomas Clark. In my next post, I'll discuss how to end your query. Until then, happy writing.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Six Ways to Open Your Query

The opening of your query letter should have all the impact of an article hook. Consider using a variety of techniques.
  1. The straightforward lead jumps right into the topic with statements, contrasts, or quotes.
  2. The surprise opening could be a clever turn of a phrase, a startling statistic, or a shocking situation. Overplaying or overacting this hook could have a negative impact on the editor.
  3. Leading with a question can be tricky. What if the editor's first response is, "Who cares?" To use this opening, your answer must come quickly so the reader won't lose interest.
  4. Opening with your article's lead is good if you're selling reprints of something you've already written. Otherwise it's like thinking backwards, since the query is used to see if there is an interest in the topic.
  5. Starting with "why you" and "why now" will establish yourself as the right person to write on the topic. This works for specific stories, but is usually later in the letter.
  6. A complimentary comment about an article you read that the editor wrote is another trick to have in the ways you open your queries.
Which of these is best for you? Which one is best for your story idea? More in depth descriptions of opening your queries are in the book Queries and Submissions by Thomas Clark. This is a must-have for your writing library.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Approaching the Query Letter

In the next few posts, I'll be gleaning important information from Thomas Clark's Queries & Submissions. The book isn't new, so if you follow along, you'll find it amusing to read about putting fresh ribbons in your typewriter before typing your queries. Part of Writer's Digest's "Elements of Article Writing Series," and recommended by Terry Whalen, I'm finding it a great writing tool.

The query letter is the most important manuscript you'll ever write to get the results you pray for. Editors judge your qualifications and fitness for assignments by what you say in your initial sales letter. It is considered a handshake or an application for employment. Your letter must show the following:
  • Confidence in your idea, your talent and ability to meet the publisher's demands.
  • Qualifications and credentials to write the manuscript.
  • Immediate connection in your approach.
Although the query letter is written in business letter format and could be considered a business letter, it is much more. It's your opportunity to demonstrate your style and appropriate tone for the project. Do a little homework by researching as much about the editor as possible, so you can make a relevant comment. Maybe he/she or the magazine recently received an award.

Instead of mail-merging your query letter to several publishers, take time to study every magazine. Use the appropriate slant and tone for each editor. A stuffy business letter that reads more like "Dear Occupant" will find its way to the editor's round file.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Feed the Artist in You

"Feed the Artist in You" is the theme of this year's Christian Writers Conference at Mount Hermon from March 20 to March 26, 2013. This is the perfect place to rub shoulders with other writers who share your goals and aspirations in writing.

It's a great opportunity to learn the craft and meet with editors, agents and publishers to discuss your projects. It's a great place to meet God, to hear His voice and worship Him in the chapel or on the beautiful campus.

Take a warm jacket and comfortable shoes for hiking to the cross before church on Sunday. Go early so you'll have time to go to the beach and experience the majestic mist of the waves as they splash near your feet. Experience God's presence in every session, workshop and appointment. Go to learn from peers and faculty. Go to pitch your book ideas and articles. Writers and industry professionals come to listen and encourage.

May God go before you to lead the way and beside you to encourage you.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Writers Seminar - Castro Valley

"Tell it Like it is" is the theme of this year's Christian Writers Seminar at Redwood Chapel in Castro Valley, next week. We are planning travel and lodging. If you would like to share, please contact me at  (916) 990-5728 so we can coordinate how many cars to take.

This was one of my first writers conferences and Pastor Jon Drury inspired me to write devotionals. He said he was first published in The Upper Room so I submitted my devotions and The Upper Room was first to publish  my writing too. Memories of my happy dance over that first check remind me today that I'm a writer because of this conference.

This is a training conference. You will have no stress meeting publishers and editors over pitching your project. It's a great place to learn, and I hope you will plan to attend. If you are an Inspire member, you can receive a $20 discount if you act before February 17. You should have received a coupon in the newsletter today.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Welcome to Sunrise Christian Writers. We will remember every Valentine's Day from now on as the day we started on this adventure. Thank you for your love, friendship and prayers. Thank you for the expertise each of you bring to our group. I am amazed to see the quality critiques we receive when we submit our writing to each other. Thank you for the chocolates! You think of everything!

We meet the first and third Thursdays for training. We are studying Write on Target by Dr. Dennis Hensley. Our homework for next week is to read, study and do the exercises covered in the pages 45-66, Finding Your Niche. This is the beginning of the third phase of the program for nonfiction writers.

We meet the second and fourth Thursdays to critique our work. We accept the first seven submissions by our deadline on Monday night before the Thursday we meet. If you do not have a submission template, please contact me at suetornai@comcast.com.

We meet the fifth Thursdays (when there is one) for food and fellowship. Thank you for praying for our group. God is faithful.