Why Connect with Other Writers?

We all know that writing is a solitary activity, and that most writers are introverts.  That is why we, writers, have to push ourselves to step out of our comfort zones and connect with other writers?

“Why?” You may ask.  “I’m happy in my little corner of the world.” You may say.

Well, writers are a great group of people.  They enjoy talking about writing with other writers.  They like to help on another along the writing journey.  I have found this to be true with every writer I have ever met.

If you’re truly happy hiding away in your little corner of the world, you can connect with other writers without stepping outside that little corner by use of the internet.

Let’s face it, as writers, we sometimes get stuck, frustrated, and feel like giving up.  That’s when it’s great to have at least one other writer we can connect with, either in person or on the internet.

In addition, we can learn from one another’s experiences.  Brainstorming with others is a lot more fun than brainstorming alone.  Critiquing one another’s work is invaluably helpful.

I have been blessed to find writers’ groups in my community that I can meet with face to face.  I have also been blessed to connect with some wonderful writers through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and an online writers’ group.

So, don’t hide alone in your corner.  Reach out and see what a bright spot you will find by connecting with at least one other writer either in your community or on the worldwide web.

Are any of you part of a writers’ group?  Is it a community group or an internet group?

A Thursday Tribute

I have never done this before, but I really feel like I need to do this.  I want to pay tribute to two people who mean a lot to me because of their support and/or contributions to my writing life.

First of all, my husband.  I just have to say how much I appreciate the way that he shows his support for my writing.  How does he do this?

He never complains about my attending all of the monthly LCW (Lancaster Christian Writers) meetings that I want to attend, which is all of them, (smile).  In reality, I usually end up having to miss one or two because of family things that come up that take priority.  He also never complains when I find a free or inexpensive one-day writing event that I want to attend, and he doesn’t mind when I leave two, sometimes three evenings a week for two or three hours to get together with other writers for critique group or to write, brainstorm and encourage each other along our writing paths.  He doesn’t complain that I spend so much time writing and participating in writing related things and yet am still not adding to the family income.  He understands that it is a long process.  I am blessed to have a husband who quietly supports me and I greatly appreciate him.

The second person I want to pay tribute to is a fellow writer who has become a very dear friend and is moving to the other side of the country, Laura Zimmerman.  I met her at LCW but our bond of friendship began when she and I both attended a one day writing workshop in the private home of a complete stranger.  We were surrounded by strangers, and I think, because we recognized each other’s faces and knew we were both part of LCW, we both felt more comfortable and we sat together for the workshop and had some time to talk a bit and start to really get to know each other.

Then when I started the weekly writing group for those of us homeschool moms who often struggle with finding time to write without interruptions in our own homes, Laura soon became a regular part of that writing group, Scribes Oasis.  She has rarely missed a night of Scribes.  Laura also encouraged me in my ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) membership, as I was debating renewing my membership.  You see, ACFW is a national organization, and though we have a local chapter, most of the best resources of ACFW happen online, and for the first entire year, I didn’t really get involved in that online community.  Again, lack of time, as family takes priority.  Laura encouraged me because she was involved in a couple of the things that the online ACFW community offered.  So, I renewed my membership and have jumped into getting involved with both feet, and I’m loving it!

Through all of these wonderful writing groups, Laura has also encouraged me in my writing.  She has offered me great advice on my writing.  She has gotten excited about stories I have written or am writing.  She has helped me talk through some issues that came up in my writing that I wasn’t sure how to improve or write well.  Laura is a little bit ahead of me in the writing world, as this year, she obtained an agent and she has submitted three story proposals to this agent already.  He has already gone over the first one and told her what she needed to do to edit the story and improve it, and she literally pulled her story apart and put it back together again, and she believes it is better than the original.  It broke my heart to see her go through that, but her positive attitude through the whole thing and the happiness she shared about the finished edited product was quite an inspiration to me.  Also, the fact that she is a homeschool mom who still homeschools three children and still finds time to crank out stories, and now, devotionals and articles, amazes and inspires me and makes me believe that I can obtain those things too.  I just need to keep working.

So, when Laura leaves after Memorial Day weekend, I will miss her so much, but I am so thankful for today’s technology which will help us to be able to remain close friends who will still be able to encourage and help each other in our writing.  Thanks Laura for your friendship and your encouragement and support in my writing.  I know God has good things in store for you and your family wherever He leads you.

How about you?  Who is a big support and encouragement to you in your writing journey?

Upcoming Writers’ Conference in Lancaster County


Are you an aspiring writer seeking to hone skills, become market savvy, consult personally with editors/authors—all on a budget? Then join us at Lancaster Christian WritersSuper Saturday 2016!! April 16th, 2016, from 8:30am-4:30pm at Lancaster Bible College, 901 Eden Road, Lancaster, PA, 17601. This one-day writers conference offers a dual track of workshops in fiction and non-fiction. Early registration price of $50 is due by Wednesday, April 13, and includes soup/sandwich buffet lunch and LCW membership. Registrations after April 13 and walk-ins day of the conference are $60.

Non-fiction faculty include writers conference director and author Marsha Hubler, professional writer/editor Hana Haatainen Caye, transformational speaker and novelist Tracy Higley, and award-winning Toastmaster speaker and author Michele Chynoweth. A fiction track will be taught by award-winning novelists Gayle Roper, Mike Dellosso, and Dwight Kopp.

Workshops cover such topics as:

  • Can You Say Satisfying? Creating the Inspiring Moment.
  • Keep ‘Em Wide-Eyed! Sure-Fire Techniques for Writing Hi-Octane Suspense
  • From Book to Bestseller: You Are Your Own Best Publicist
  • The Delicate Art of Creating Villains
  • Non-fiction That Sells: Making Your Article or Book Irresistible to Editors
  • Style: Uncovering Voice and the Power of Identity.
  • The Business of Writing: Making Money as a Freelance Writer.
  • Impactivity: Pursuing Your Writing Dream with Passion, Balance, and Joy

A conference bookstore will offer a wide variety of writer resources and faculty titles. Personal consultations with faculty are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Author/editor/conference director Marlene Bagnull and award-winning novelist/collaborative writer Jeanette Windle are among auxiliary faculty offering personal consultations.

More information, including the Super Saturday 2016 Flyer/Registration Form and Press Release can be found at Lancaster Christian Writers Today (http://lancasterchristianwriterstoday.blogspot.com/) OR email LCW president Jeanette Windle at jeanette@jeanettewindle.com.

Mail Super Saturday 2016 registration form (or relevant info) and check or money order payable to: Lancaster Christian Writers, c/o Jeanette Windle, 1776 Euclid Drive, Lancaster, PA 17601. For credit card/PayPal payment, request invoice at jeanette@jeanettewindle.com (preferred) or call 717-209-0011 after 4 PM.

I have attended LCW’s Super Saturday conferences for the past three years and am already registered to attend this one!  I always learn something helpful or make a valuable new contact or make a new friend, and I have heard all but one of these speakers before and they do an excellent job!  So, if you write or want to write and live in or near Lancaster County, plan to join us for this Super Saturday Writers’ Conference!

Winter Writers’ Retreat

Several months ago, I received an email from my writing friend, Lisa at Lisa’s Musings, talking about the possibility of having a Winter Writers’ Retreat.  She asked me for ideas and she shared her ideas with me.  Then we talked about what the schedule might look like and how we could keep it very low cost by simply having a simple lunch of sandwiches and salads and a dessert, with drinks and snacks available throughout the day, and the lunch would be all that each person would have to pay for.  Lisa also ran the idea by our friend, Donna at Donna L. H. Smith, who helped with some activity planning, getting the word out and registration.

So, this past Saturday, February 27th, seven (counting Lisa) of us got together at Lisa’s house for this retreat.  Donna asked us to introduce ourselves and share what type of writing we do and how long we’ve been married and how many children we have.  Then she opened with a devotion and prayer.

Lisa had asked me, during the planning, if I would be willing to lead an activity.  She gave me two choices and I chose the one I felt was the less daunting of the two.  🙂

Therefore, after the opening devotion and prayer, I led a creative writing exercise.  I was relieved when everyone found the exercise to be so much fun.

After the creative exercise, Lisa gave us two characterization exercises and two setting exercises and we spread out around the downstairs of Lisa’s beautiful home to spend some time writing, using at least one of these exercises.  I actually used a combination of one of the characterization and one of the setting exercises and I applied them to my current work in progress.  I think the creative writing exercise we started with helped to get my brain into writing mode.  (Of course that was the purpose.)

The next thing we did was break into two groups and we each shared about something we are currently struggling with in our work in progress, whether it was a plot problem, problem with a character or with the setting, or something else.  Then the others in the group helped to brainstorm to come up with ideas to work the problem out.

During lunch we had conversation about upcoming writers’ conferences, what we thought of the retreat up to that point, self-publishing and the possible challenges that would include, flash fiction and blog writing.

After lunch we had a critique group, where Lisa shared the critiquing process — a way to help and encourage the writer, not rip their work to shreds — to begin with a positive, then point out something that could use some work or fixing up with an idea or suggestion for that, and concluding with another positive.  These things need to be specific to be of any real help to the writer and the people doing the critiquing need to consider the Big Picture.

We ended with another prayer and an excerpt from a book that Lisa recommended for encouragement.

I cannot speak for any of the other ladies, but I found this day so very helpful.  I was able to leave there with a fresh excitement about writing, especially working on my work in progress.  I had been struggling with something before that and so the brainstorming for story problems was a huge help with that.  I also really enjoy being able to share with other writers because they understand me and I understand them.  We can help and encourage one another and that is so valuable.

Everyone left with a desire to do another retreat in the future.


This was the great group of ladies who attended, minus Donna, who took the photo.

I encourage all of you who write to find a group of writers you can spend time with talking, sharing, brainstorming, problem solving, and encouraging one another.  You may even want to consider starting your own small writers’ group or hold your own small simple retreat like the one we just had.  Writing is a solitary activity and can be stressful.  It’s good to step out of your writing closet and breathe some fresh air and spend time with others who understand your struggles and the way your mind works (you know, that you talk to your characters and stuff).

Have you been to a writers’ retreat?  Do you belong to a writers’ group?

A Writers’ Conference!

I am preparing and getting geared up and exciting for the American Christian Fiction Writers PA Chapter’s first one-day writers’ conference, known as the Keystone Christian Fiction Writers’ Conference!  You can find all of the details here.  If you are interested in writing Christian Fiction and are anywhere near State College, PA, I encourage you to sign up.  You can even still register at the door.

I am super excited about the seminars and I have two appointments — one with an agent and one with an editor.  I’m going to try pitching my first book.  I’m both nervous and excited about this.

I won’t be traveling to the conference alone.  I will be traveling with three other writers, so the trip should be fun.

Sharing with Other Writers is so Rewarding

So much going on!

We’ve added another writer to our weekly writing group.  Meet Laura at Caffeinated Fiction Caffeinated Fiction.  We are so happy to have her.

Our weekly writing group has created an email chain that we are using to help keep each other accountable and to encourage one another.  We use this email chain to post our monthly writing word count goals, which we post daily or weekly.  We encourage each other to press on toward those goals.  We lift each other up if we don’t quite hit the mark.  We also share prayer requests so that we can pray for each other’s needs.  I really love having this group of ladies to meet with and to rely on.

I also enjoyed speaking with a fellow writer at church on Sunday.  She’s been writing for a long time and has reached a higher level of success than I have yet managed.  She has written much more nonfiction than fiction, but she has done some fiction as well.  We shared a bit about our writing experiences and our upcoming writing plans. She asked me about my current work in progress (WIP), and it was quite fun for me to talk to her about it because she asked for some specific details no one else has asked yet.  (i.e.  She asked how many characters are in my book.)

How are things going in your writing world?  I’d really love to hear about it.  I would really enjoy getting some comments in the comment box, telling me about your writing journey, whether it be successes or struggles.  I’d be happy to encourage you in your journey as I continue to travel mine.

Meet My Writing Friends

My Hand 008

I thought that since I posted about our weekly evening writing group, you might like to take a look at what my friends are writing.  They each have a blog where they write, in addition to the other things they write when we meet weekly.

First, there is my “Random” friend, you can see the fruits of her talent at Random Stories Under a Blue Moon.

Next, there is the amazing poet in our group, and you can read some of her poetry at The Dance of Life.

Finally, there’s the politically minded, non-fiction light of truth of the group, and you can read her truths at The Truth Expedition.

I hope you enjoy visiting my friends.  I certainly enjoy my weekly evening with them.

The Value of a Writing Group

I have three friends who like to write, just like me, but have trouble making time for writing, just like me.  Therefore, we have created our own “Inkling” type group.  If you don’t know what that is, are you familiar with C.S. Lewis of The Chronicles of Narnia fame and J.R.R. Tolkien of The Lord of the Rings fame?  Well, they met with a couple of other writers at Lewis’ rooms or in English pubs to discuss writing, share ideas or their own writing, and to do some writing and brainstorming.

My friends and I decided to embrace this idea.  For a few months now, we have been meeting at various places one evening a week, and we talk about writing and things we have learned about writing.  We brainstorm.  We share our writing with each other to get feedback, and we spend time writing — at least an hour and a half of just writing.  We all have come to look forward to our one evening a week and we hold it fast on our calendars because it enables us to do some writing and to encourage one another.  It has become very valuable to each of us.

We would love to find a wifi cafe or coffee shop in a location central to all of us that we could meet in each week, that doesn’t close so early.  However, we haven’t found anything great in a central location, and many of our local coffee shops close quite early.  Therefore, we currently meet at two of our houses, McDonald’s because they’re open all night so if we get on a roll, we don’t need to worry about the time, and one or two coffee shops.  It works, but we really would prefer one great central location.

I advise you to talk to other people and let them know you’re a writer.  Who knows?  You may find another writer or two that you have things in common with or maybe you already have a couple of friends who write, and maybe you can begin your own small writers’ group, and you’ll see how much it begins to mean to you.

Do any of you already do this?  I’d love to hear how it’s working for you and what kinds of places you meet.

How Do You Inspire Others

How do you inspire others?  Have you ever thought about it?

I don’t think I have ever thought about inspiring others.  I think about helping others, encouraging others and persuading others.

Well, I recently found out that I do inspire others, especially writer friends.  Over the past couple of weeks, I have had a couple of writer friends tell me that the encouragement that I offer them and my enthusiasm for writing “inspires” them and they have been writing more or coming up with more writing ideas since speaking to me about writing.

Wow, that was quite a compliment.  Compliments usually make me uncomfortable, but that compliment made me feel good because I am always glad to help others, especially in a common interest.  I get excited to see their progress!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Now for an update on my writing journey.  I posted on June 23, 2015 about Lisa Lawmaster Hess speaking at our last Lancaster Christian Writers’ group meeting.  Well, in that meeting, she also mentioned that she is a “pantser”!  You have no idea what a relief and encouragement that was to me!

I have been studying writing very diligently for the past two years as I continued to write.  Most of what I learned was about the “Planners”.  I have always been a pantser — ever since I began a love of writing in the 5th grade.  However, I was afraid that since I heard so much about the “planners” and not much about the “pantsers”, that only the “planners” were successful.  So imagine my surprise when Lisa Lawmaster Hess, a published writer, confessed to being a “pantser”.

Woo Hoo!  My spirit leaped for joy!  I had been trying so hard to force myself to become a “planner”, and I was miserable and I was so unhappy with my writing.  Thanks to Lisa Lawmaster Hess I was free!  I could go back to being a “pantser” and worry about edits after my story is down!  Well, I started my work-in-progress over a-gain, for the fifth time, and this time I am going all the way back to my roots and writing with pen and paper.  And, guess what?!  It is making a tremendous difference!  I now LOVE writing again!  I get excited about the next time I get to sit down and write, and when I do, the story flows out of me, and it’s so much better than what I was producing when I was trying to write in a way that is completely opposite of my nature and talent.

Why all the way back to pen and paper? you ask.  Well, I find that when I type on the computer, I tend to go back over what I wrote every time I sit down to write and I am changing and tweaking constantly.  It becomes quite counter-productive.  I find that writing with pen and paper seems to have the opposite effect — I can simply start where I left off and still hit that groove that keeps my story moving and keeps me writing.  I am a happy writer again!

What about you?  Have you been trying to fit a particular mold?  Know that you can be free to be you and write in whatever way allows you to get your story out and write your best and do your best editing later.

Is it Worth Attending a Writers’ Conference?


I attended the annual Lancaster Christian Writers (LCW) Super Saturday one-day conference this past Saturday and it was fantastic!

Why should a writer attend a writers’ conference?  Well, we all know that writing is a solitary, sometimes lonely, job.  We need interaction, and what better interaction than to connect with other writers?  I made some new friends as well as connected with friends I already know.  It was exciting to talk to other writers about writing!

I also was able to have 15 minutes of one-on-one time with published author, Karen Whiting, and what a fantastic fifteen minutes that was!  I took approximately 2 1/2 pages of my current work in progress (WIP) with me (it was the third beginning I have written for this WIP).  I was able to ask Karen to read it and give me feedback, and she did!  She gave me wonderful feedback that was extremely encouraging to me because she had very little corrective comments, but she also had lots of great ideas for my story, AND she gave me a great title for my story.  (She had asked me what the title of the story is, and I said I didn’t have one yet, so she gave me a couple of ideas, one of which I loved and thought would be a great fit).

In addition, there were some outstanding workshops to attend.  I attended two workshops that were presented by author,Dina Sleiman — one on using Myers-Briggs personality types for characters.  My favorite workshop was presented by author, Kelly Long.  She presented a workshop about including “absolute truth” in our fiction — stressing that “absolute truth” only comes from the Bible.  She included two really good activities that we had to participate in, and she shared some of her personal life story.  It was a powerful workshop.

I’m not sure if I mentioned on this blog before or not, but this is my second year as a member of LCW, and this year I also became a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), which is a nationwide organization.  They have lots of great resources and ways to connect with other writers online.  There were quite a few ACFW members at the conference and we sat together for lunch and took a group photo after lunch.  That was fun!

After lunch, I attended the second workshop by Dina Sleiman about writing blockbuster scenes.  She went over Making Every Scene Count, POV, setting your scenes, creating your scenes, and exiting your scenes well.

The final workshop I attended was presented by Karen Whiting, and it was on Marketing, and it was another great help to me, as she handed out index cards at the beginning of the workshop and told us to write the title of our book, our name, and what our book is about on the index card and hand them in.  Then as she spoke about the many ways to market, she went through the index cards and offered marketing suggestions to those individuals for their book.  So, not only did she help me by giving me some great ideas for writing my book, as well as the title I plan to use, but she gave me some great ideas for marketing the book, when the time comes.

I also want to mention that our opening Keynote speaker was Grace Fabian, and what an powerfully, inspirational opening she gave.  She has a remarkable testimony, and I bought her book so I can read her life story.  She has suffered great pain and loss but still has a strong faith in God.  What a blessing!

So not only was this conference wonderfully helpful for my writing, but it was a revival to my spiritual soul that had me praising the Lord!  I’m so thankful to know Him.

That’s the kind of great stuff you can get out of attending a Writers’ Conference, and it doesn’t have to be a long, expensive one to make it worth your while.  Sure, I would love to attend one of the big Writers’ Conferences that last a couple of days and cost over a hundred dollars to attend plus the cost of a hotel room, but at this time, I am unable to do that, and not just because of the financial cost.  I hope to be able to do that some time, but until then, I attend all of the inexpensive, one-day workshops I possibly can, and I get something out of each and every one of them, and I have made some new friends by doing so as well.  I highly recommend that you get to whatever writers’ conferences you can, as well.  I don’t think you’ll regret it.