Surprise! A Guest Post by Marsha Hubler

Drum roll, please!  Yes, today is the beginning of “Guest Post Wednesday” here at Kelly F Barr.  I hope I will be able to bring inspiring and informational posts from some great bloggers and hope to be able to do so each and every Wednesday.  I am thrilled that Marsha Hubler has agreed to be my first Guest Poster.  I met Marsha last Spring at a one-day Writer’s Conference.

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Marsha Hubler

Author/Speaker

 When Marsha left Ashland, PA in 1964, she was headed for Bloomsburg State College, Bloomsburg, PA, and a teaching career four years later in the central Pennsylvania area. Marsha says, “Little did I know that one of my childhood dreams of writing books would become a reality beyond my wildest imagination.”

After graduating from college, she married Richard Hubler, also a 1964 graduate of Ashland Area High School. Eventually, they made their home near Middleburg, PA. They have been active members of Bible Baptist Church in Kreamer, PA, since 1972, where Marsha plays the organ and sings in a mixed quartet.

In her 40+ years of involvement with education, Marsha has earned her master’s degree from Bloomsburg and has co-founded two private schools, Kreamer Christian Academy, Kreamer, PA, and the Bethesda Prep School, Milton, PA, where she served as administrator in each. Since 1990 she has evaluated and tested hundreds of homeschoolers in her home where she lives with her husband and two dogs. She is a certified evaluator with three different homeschooling organizations. She speaks at writers’ conferences, parents’ and children’s events and schools.

Marsha’s “professional” writing career started in 1991. She has had numerous articles, short stories, and poems published in magazines and for greeting cards. In 2003 her first book was published. DRAW ME CLOSER, LORD is a 128-page Bible study guide that helps ladies develop a stronger prayer relationship with the Lord.

Of her 19 published books, Marsha is most excited about the best-selling KEYSTONE STABLES SERIES published by Zonderkidz. These eight girl/horse fiction books delicately deal with issues that face today’s youth, issues such as light drug abuse, foster care, special needs, and the death of a close friend. Through her stories, Marsha conveys the truths that no problem is bigger than God and that He offers salvation as a gift through his Son, Jesus Christ. Girls ten years and older will connect to this series, identifying with the main protagonist, Skye Nicholson, who appears to be as tough as nails. However, on the inside she’s a scared, insecure teen, not quite sure of anything but her own fears until God changes her heart. “My main desire,” Marsha says, “is to see young people helped, most of all spiritually, through their difficult adolescent years as they read my books.”

Marsha and her husband were foster parents from 1975 to 1987, caring for a dozen children in need of a good home. Her hobbies and interests have included horses, softball, volleyball, painting, gardening, pocket billiards, and playing the organ.

In April of 2003, Marsha attended an American Christian Writers’ Conference in Richmond, Virginia, where she was presented the “Writer of the Year” Award. She presently does freelance editing for two publishing companies and has just assumed the directorship of the Montrose Christian Writers Conference, a five-day conference that draws faculty and conferees from all over the United States.

Marsha’s life verse is 1 Corinthians 15:10a: “But by the grace of God I am what I am.…” She stands amazed at what God can do with someone who is willing to serve him at whatever capacity he calls him or her.

Visit Marsha at her website, writers’ tips blog, Facebook, and other social media sites:

www.marshahubler.com

www.marshahubler.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/marsha.hubler.3

Keystone Stables Book 1

Making Connections

As I stated in my last post, I did attend the Susquehanna Writer’s Workshop last Saturday.  What a great experience!  But, before I share all about it, let me tell you how I got there:

I joined Lancaster Christian Writers’ Group a little over a year ago and love attending their monthly meetings.  Almost every month they have a guest speaker who teaches on some aspect of writing, publishing or marketing, and then we have time for critique groups.  Critique groups are so helpful because we can share something we have written or are working on and get feedback from a group of writers.  We get constructive criticism as well as praise for the strong points.  If we don’t have anything to share, we can still participate in the critique group to offer our input on someone else’s writing.  I have learned so much just by being a part of these critique groups.

In the spring, Lancaster Christian Writers’,  (LCW), held their annual 1-day Super Saturday event, a Writers’ Conference.  It was the first writers’ conference I ever attended, and I loved it!  I did several posts on it afterward, so I won’t go into all that now.  That is where I met author, Marsha Hubler, who did a workshop at the conference.  I enjoyed the conference so much that when I was home, I booted up the computer and immediately looked up all of the people, authors mostly, I had met at the conference and connected with them on facebook and twitter and I bookmarked their blogs so I could continue to follow them. I found out about Susquehanna Writers’ Workshop through a link on Marsha Hubler’s blog and I immediately signed up.

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I had a beautiful, relaxing two-hour drive to get to the Susquehanna Writers’ Workshop, and when I arrived, I was surprised at how small the group was.  I was also surprised to see that all the attendees were women.  I checked in at the registration table and then perused the display table where there were writing resource books for sale at low prices, books by the workshop speakers and some of the writers in attendance, and some free information pamphlets and fliers with possible places to publish or some possible devotionals to submit to.  There were also a couple of books on the free part of the table and I grabbed up “Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul”.

Finally, I approached a table to look for a vacant seat.  I sat down with some very nice, friendly ladies.  After some announcements, we divided into the fiction workshop and the  nonfiction workshop.  Again, I was surprised, as most of the attendees were there for the nonfiction workshop.  I attended the fiction workshop.  There were only five or six of us and Marsha Hubler was our speaker.  The size of the group made things very comfortable and was very conducive to participation.  We had some great discussion and received some wonderful tips from Marsha.

When we first sat down, the lady to my left looked at me and said, “You look very familiar.”  She then asked a couple of questions which led us to the discovery that she had been the children’s pastor at a church we had attended many years ago.  She is now a reading specialist and a writer.  She has two books published already and is working on her third in a series of four.  It was delightful to reconnect with her.  She gave me here business card and I immediately connected to her facebook and twitter accounts and bookmarked her blog.

I also met a sweet lady who was originally from South Carolina and has written quite a bit, but hasn’t had anything published.  She was very interesting and pleasant, and I could kick myself for not asking if she had an email address that we could exchange email addresses to continue to keep in touch and encourage one another.  I don’t remember her last name either, so I can’t even check to see if she has a blog, but I don’t think she does.  I also don’t think she’s on facebook or twitter.  Ugh!

I also met a quiet, young lady who has a great interest in writing, but is also a homeschool mom of three young children.  I can so relate to her, though I didn’t have a lot of time to chat with her.  However, I did find her on twitter, and I found her blog.  Yippee!

Finally, I met an outgoing, wonderfully creative lady who has a fantastic idea for a book she is working on.  I truly hope she continues to press on, because I can’t wait to read her finished book.  She is a bit overwhelmed with the social media thing, which I told her I could understand.  It’s difficult enough to find the time to sit down and work on your actual writing amid the hustle and bustle of real life, but to then also have to have a social media presence is very time consuming.  I gave her some suggestions that I have learned during the past year in hopes of helping and encouraging her.

In case you’re wondering, the tips are:  set a timer for a designated amount of time when you sit down to do social media and when the timer goes off, shut off the social media.  This will help to keep you from having too much time swallowed by social media, which can so easily happen. Another idea, which is what I have decided seems to work best for me, is to simply designate one day a week for social media, and that leaves me five other days to work on my actual writing.  Of course, none of these plans are foolproof nor will they work all of the time because we live real life with its responsibilities, demands and unexpected events.  Also, it is very important to write everyday, as that is how we get better and better at what we do.  I recently read somewhere, and I think it was something Jeff Goins wrote, that you need to write something every day — just take 20 minutes and set a goal of about 200 words, but even if you don’t reach the 200 words, at least write for 20 minutes and just write anything.  If you feel stuck on the story you’re working on, you can just write about your day.  Just write about anything for 20 minutes and before you know it, it will be much easier to write everyday than it will be not to.  (I know I didn’t say that the same way as I read it, but that was the idea).

In closing, I would like to introduce you to one of the ladies I met at Susquehanna Writers’ Conference.  Her name is Kathie Mitchell.  If you have a couple of minutes, hop on over to her blog and read her post from October 8th to find out more about the book she is working on.  You’ll find her at:  http://countrygrandmother.wordpress.com/

Writing Workshop

The first writing workshop that I attended at the writers’ conference was “Bring Out the Child in You:  Writing on the Child’s Level Without Talking Down” by Marsha Hubler.

Marsha stressed that it can be harder to write for children than for adults.  She stressed that we read what we’re going to write, whether it be picture books or chapter books.  She also suggested that we study kids the age we want to write for, as well as studying good authors in what we want to write.

Marsha said that dialogue is very important and that we need to know how kids the age we want to write for are talking.  She also explained the difference between “tags and beats” and explained why beats are better.  “Tags” are things like:  he said, she said, Bruce said, Mom said, etc.  Beats inform the reader who is speaking without using tags and may also inform the reader of something important by using feelings, senses, etc.

She shared a couple of hand-outs with exercises we participated in.  One suggested that one way to avoid talking down to readers is to engage them in exciting narration.  Just because your audience is young doesn’t mean they won’t understand more advanced words if used properly in context.  She suggested that we avoid passive verbs (was, is, seemed, looked, etc.) and be sure to use active verbs.

Marsha also shared a hand-out exercise on point of view.  There were three examples we needed to read and determine whose point of view it was written from, and whose point of view it should be written from.  This exercise made point of view easier to understand.

If you are interested in writing children’s chapter books, Marsha suggested reading books by Joyce Magnin and Nancy Rue for humor.  She also suggested the following specific books:

Here’s Lily by Nancy Rue

Double Trouble by Jenny Dale

The Secret of Wolf Canyon by Marsha Hubler

Dragons in Our Midst (series) by Bryan Davis

You can find out more about Marsha at: marshahubler.com

Though my desire is to write adult fiction, I am not confident that I could write good thriller/suspense stories (my favorites) and so I thought I would write mystery/romance stories, but during Marsha Hubler’s workshop, I felt God telling me via the Holy Spirit that He wants me to write children’s books, so I am focusing on that right now, but hope that God allows me to also write for adults later.

My oldest son said he could definitely see me writing children’s books.