Writers Call Out – Chicken Soup for the Soul

Writers Call Out

Chicken Soup for the Soul:
Angels in Our Midst

101 Miraculous Stories of Faith, Divine Intervention, and Answered Prayers

PLEASE NOTE NEW DEADLINE.

PLEASE NOTE TITLE CHANGE from My Guardian Angel.

If you have already submitted a story for either My Guardian Angel or for Angels in Our Midst, we have it — please do not resubmit!

Celestial, otherworldly, heavenly. Whatever the term, sometimes there is no Earthly explanation for what we experience and a higher power is clearly at work. People see angels in various forms: heavenly, human, animal, and others.

If you have had a personal experience with an angel, please submit your story. We are looking for stories of true wonder and awe from people who have directly encountered or received help from angels. How did your angel protect you or someone you know? How did your angel help you or someone you know? How did your angel manifest himself or herself?

This book is for everyone who has a story, whether religious or non-religious. Please note that we are not looking for stories about people who are “angels” because they do nice things, and also please do not submit eulogies about a loved one who has died and is now an “angel.”

Here are some possible story topics, but we know you can think of more:

• Angel visitations
• Divine protection and guardian angels
• Miraculous recoveries
• Messages from an angel
• Prayers answered by an angel
• Receiving support from angels or spirits
• Angel intervention
• Receiving guidance or lessons from angels
• Interactions with angels
• Receiving news or warnings from angels

Please remember, we do not like “as told to” stories. Write in the first person about yourself or someone close to you. If you ghostwrite a story for someone else we will list his or her name as the author. If a story was previously published, we will probably not use it unless it ran in a small circulation venue. Let us know where the story was previously published in the “Comments” section of the submission form. If the story was published in a past Chicken Soup for the Soul book, please do not submit it. We do not reuse stories.

If your story is chosen, you will be a published author and your bio will be printed in the book if you so choose. You will also receive a check for $200 and 10 free copies of your book, which lists at $14.95. You will retain the copyright for your story and you will retain the right to resell it.

SUBMISSIONS GO TO OUR WEBSITE. Select the Submit Your Story link at the bottom of the page and follow the directions.

The deadline for story and poem submissions was extended and is now May 15, 2014. The book will be published in October 2014.

CIndy and Cindy

The Conference is Over – Awe, Man!

CIndy and CindyThe boxes are packed away. All the money is balanced, bills paid, and conferees sent out with their marching orders.  Awe, man! It’s over. The conference is over.

We’ve done our best. Prayed our conferees to and from Boot Camp. But now, the real work begins. If we had bloody knees before, we’ll certainly have them raw from here forward.

Preparing for Boot Camp takes a lot of time. I’ll admit, there are moments when a rush of fear washing over me, and I wonder if it’s going to work. Will people really come? And once they do come, how will they leave? My hopes are they are encouraged, uplifted, excited, moved. Ready to knuckle down.

The truth is, I know what happens after the rush of a conference comes and goes. The excitement fades. All the work that was done, is piled in a stack waiting for the “perfect” inspiration to hit.

Conferences send us into information overload. Once we arrive home, it takes a week or two for us to process the massive amount of “stuff” we received.  So here are a few tips for the “After the Conference Wind Down” to help you move ahead.

1)   Pray every day for the willingness to write, and then do it.
2)   Allow yourself to rest.
3)   Make a list of what you learned and an agenda of things you’d like to accomplish. Start small, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly.
4)   Keep in touch with those you befriended. Become accountability buddies.
5)   If you had paid critiques, let down your guard and truly look at the information you received. Constructive criticism is not a personal attack. Think over the things that may have made you uncomfortable, or ached when addressed. That usually means, even you realize something needs to be changed. None of us are perfect. There is always room for improvement.
6)   Pull out those contacts. Touch base. Talk. These are your peers and your support when you feel lost or need help.
7)   Don’t let life get in the way. Make time to write. This is what you are called to do.
8)   Practice. Practice. Practice.
9)   Submit work.
10) Prepare for the next level. Attend another conference. Challenge yourself.

This work, putting a conference together, was done for you. You accepted the challenge to attend. You came. You learned. Now, write.

Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas in Canada

Chicken Soup for the Soul:
Christmas in Canada

101 Stories About the Joy and Wonder of the Holidays, Canadian Style!

We’re making another book for Canada. Christmas in Canada is a special time. The nights are long but our hearts are warm and the lights are bright. What’s your story?

We want your true, dramatic stories that took place at Christmas time in Canada, whether you are Canadian, a resident of Canada, or a visitor to Canada. And keep that Canadian spelling in your computer, eh? We are defining Christmas as the entire December holiday season and the New Year festivities too.

Here are some examples of holiday events around which your story might take place, but we know you can think of many more:

• Festivals of lights and other annual Christmas events in your community
• Creches, passion plays, church events that come with a great story
• Santa stories, keeping in mind that we keep the magic alive for our younger readers!
• The tree… and other decorating traditions
• Love and Romance at Christmas
• Gifts and cards, music and food, decorations and holiday attire
• Christmas Shopping…the struggles and successes
• Kindness and generosity at Christmas
• Hockey, ice fishing, skiing, tobogganing, sledding, skating, camping, snow shoeing,     curling… all winter sports shared during the Christmas season
• Family ties, children and reunions
• Meeting up with old friends and new at Christmas
• Neighbours and Community at Christmas
• The challenges or fun of winter weather during the Christmas season
• Adapting your celebration when the weather gets in the way (like the 2013 ice storms)
• Christmas and holiday traditions in your town or province
• Hanukah, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and other holiday season traditions and events,     even if not specifically Christmas
• Christmas in Canada for new Canadians
• Animals at Christmas
• Family lore – those stories you tell over and over again!
• Christmas in the north – First Nation stories

Remember, a dramatic story that inspires and opens the heart of your reader in some way will always work best. Also, we do not like “as told to” stories. Please write in the first person about yourself or someone close to you. If you ghostwrite a story for someone else we will list his or her name as the author. If a story was previously published, we will probably not use it unless it ran in a small circulation venue. Let us know where the story was previously published in the “Comments” section of the submission form. If the story was published in a past Chicken Soup for the Soul book, please do not submit it.

If your story or poem is chosen, you will be a published author and your bio will be printed in the book if you so choose. You will also receive a check for U.S. $200 and 10 free copies of your book, which retail for $16.95 Canadian each. You will retain the copyright for your story, and you will also retain the right to resell it.

SUBMISSIONS GO TO OUR WEBSITE. Select the Submit Your Story link on the left tool bar and follow the directions.

The deadline for story and poem submissions is May 30, 2014.

Write Right – A Christian Writing Career

Photo licensed: istock.comThe craft of writing is many things to many people. For some, it’s a dream. Others, a career. Still others, a hobby. Regardless of your stance of a writing career at this point, I want to make this last assignment before Boot Camp, one you really have to work on.

We’re going to assess your desire, and when we do this, we’re going to ask some very hard questions. Questions I expect you to look at and consider seriously.

When Eddie Jones and I were called to begin Christian Devotions, we possessed a different mindset. It’s not always been one that was accepted with open arms due to the fact, we require complete disclosure from a writer.

Not disclosure to us, but disclosure to God. It’s so easy to wave our hands in the air and tell folks, “I’m a Christian writer,” when the truth is, we aren’t Christian at all. “Christians” wonder why folks look at us and shake their heads. We can’t understand why the world calls us hypocrites. Why?

It’s easy. Go to a restaurant on Sunday after church and ask any waitress or waiter who they dread waiting on. You’ll most certainly get this answer, “The church crowd.” Christians attend church, smile, pray and praise, then leave the building and become who they want to be. And it shows. We do the same in our writing. We’re kind and sweet until a contract comes along and then we become – well – less than Christian. It’s no longer about God, it’s about ME.

So as we look at these questions, I want you to be honest. Painfully honest. I want you to assess your desires as a “Christian” writer, then once you get a solid number, take that number before God. 

I want you to come at your writing with the face of Christ. Every aspect of your writing depends on it. When Jesus said the fields were ready for harvest, but the workers were few, He knew what He was talking about. He tried to make others see the desires of our hearts come after the work in the fields. . .His work. So to call yourself a Christian writer is more than writing a Bible study. It’s writing whatever you write with the right heart. Writing with the intention of working the fields. 

Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, articles or blogs, when you call yourself a Christian writer the words you pen, your attitude, your heart must reflect the face of Christ. It’s a big challenge. Writing Christian is more than writing clean. It’s writing and having the attitude of Truth. 

Read over the questions. Think them through. Think hard. Assess your heart. Remember, Jesus said, “Where your heart is, there is your treasure.” Is your treasure chest filled with selfishness, stubbornness, greed, cocky attitude, entitlement? Or are you truly a Christian writer. It’s very easy for our desire to be successful to be overshadowed by selfishness. This is the temptations you will face as a writer. Keeping your heart RIGHT.  Jesus never promised His way was easy. He never once said, writing Christian was the fast track to publication. But He did say the fields were ripe and His workers few. Let your writing be the thing that works the fields. Let your attitude exude the love of Christ. He can and will work through you. But if you put limitations on what Christ can do because it’s what YOU think is best, then the road will be rockier and the bloody scraps will become gashes.

Here is your countdown to a new career as a Christian writer. Write RIGHT!

There are two groups of questions. One for unpublished writers, the other for published. Choose your group and answer your questions. As you answer keep in mind there is a fine line between desire and greed. This is why I want you assess. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be a paid Christian writer, but keeping your heart in line sets the balance. If your number is high, it’s okay IF your heart is in the right spot.

Let’s begin your Countdown to a New Career – Christian Writer.

Rate yourself on a scale of one to five with five being the highest:

If you are an unpublished writer these questions are for you. Possible 60 points

1) I want a published book on the shelves of a bookstore.
1     2     3     4     5

2) I want to tell my friends I’m a published author.
1     2     3     4     5

4) I enjoy writing for my friends.
1     2     3     4     5

5) I search for writing jobs that pay.
1     2     3     4     5

6) When I write, the first thing I do is pray.
1     2     3     4     5

7) I have written what God has told me and I won’t change it.
1     2     3     4     5

8) I give away at least 10% of my writing with no expectation of payment.
1     2     3     4     5

9) I’m patient when I send in a submission.
1     2     3     4     5

10)I’m constantly working to improve my work.
1     2     3     4     5

11)If a publisher won’t look at my work, I’ll just self-publish.
1     2     3     4     5

12)I have a good book, I’m not willing to wait to find publication.
1     2     3     4     5

If you are a published writer, these are for you.  Possible 50 points

1) I write faithfully to a Christian Worldview
1     2     3     4     5

2) I work without badgering my agent, editor or publisher.
1     2     3     4     5

3) I tithe of my writing money.
1     2     3     4     5

4) I’m a team player in the publishing process.
1     2     3     4     5

5) I offer all my writing back to God for His glory.
1     2     3     4     5

6) I listen to good criticism without making excuses or defending myself because it’s about making the work better.
1     2     3     4     5

7) I expect my publisher to market my book themselves.
1     2     3     4     5

8) I am grateful for the contracts I receive.
1     2     3     4     5

9) I help new writers get a jump on their career.
1     2     3     4     5

10)I seek out an editor before I make a submission.
1     2     3     4     5

Assignment 7 – Basic Writing and Editing Tips

Photo courtesy www.clker.com & OCAL

Photo courtesy www.clker.com & OCAL

BASIC WRITING AND EDITING TIPS
By Andrea Merrell

As writers, we must invest our time, effort, and money to learn all we can to make our work as excellent as possible. As you prepare for Boot Camp, here are a few tips to help you polish your manuscript and get it ready for submission.

WRITE WITH EXCELLENCE
 Learn the lingo of the writing and publishing industry. This will be very important when you converse with other writers and meet with agents and editors.
 Know your subject. Do your research and be sure to document your sources.
 Know how to:
 Hook your readers.
 Set the scene.
 Show—don’t tell.
 Use POV (point of view) correctly.
 Create memorable characters.
 Construct proper dialogue.
 Build your plot.
 Creatively use backstory.
 Write tight.

EDITING AND PROOFREADING ARE ESSENTIAL
Whether you’re a new writer or seasoned author, catching pesky typos and using correct grammar and punctuation may make the difference between acceptance and rejection. Even with a great story, the little things can spoil our manuscripts. Take the following quiz and see how many little foxes you can catch. The answers will be available at Boot Camp.

1. The acceptable size and font for manuscripts is: 10 pt. Times New Roman, 12 pt. Times New Roman, and 12 pt. Verdana

2. A manuscript should be:
Single-spaced Double-spaced Triple-spaced

3. Serial Comma Usage: True or False? All publications call for a serial comma if leaving it out could cause confusion.

4. One or two spaces at the end of a sentence?

5. Which word is correct in each sentence?
Whose/Who’s turn is it to wash the dishes?
My dad/Dad is a football fanatic.
I asked mom/Mom if I could buy a new dress.
Is this your/you’re wallet?
If your/you’re late to the meeting, you will miss the keynote speaker.
Stacy and Rick were going to their/they’re cousin’s birthday party.
Its/It’s supposed to rain the night of the big game.
Grace said, “To/Two/Too bad you can’t make it to the workshop this week.”

6. Hyphenated words are tricky. Some words are hyphenated depending on the usage.
Which word/phrase is correct?
(Example: Maxine’s manuscript was high quality. That was a high-quality manuscript.)
Stephanie asked an open ended/open-ended question.
Do you like suspense-filled/suspense filled novels?
Research is time consuming/time-consuming.
Audrey’s daughter is very self sufficient/self-sufficient
Ben has a two-year-old girl/two year old girl/two-year-old-girl.

7. Confusing words: (Fill in the blank.)
I am not letting you out of my _________ (sight, cite, site).
My favorite _________ is chocolate cake (desert or dessert).
You must _________ your classes at the writers’ conference (chose or choose).
Mary was _________ her hands while she waited for the verdict (ringing or wringing).

** For more writing and editing tips, check out Andrea’s new book, Murder of a Manuscript, (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas 2014) now available from Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/dp/1941103057/