Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed . ~ 2 Timothy 2:15

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Reading about writing

Dropping by to let you know of three EXCELLENT blogs for writers I've been following:

  • Author Kristen Lamb (Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World, which I HIGHLY recommend) has posted several blogs about the importance of POV (Point of View). The two on deep POV are must-reads for every serious writer. Click here to read her posts.

  • Marsha Hubler has also been posting excellent blogs on the craft of writing. Her most recent is "How to Turn Off Your Readers" - something you DON'T want to do.

Links to these blogs, as well as other blogs of interest to writers, are listed in the right margin of this page.

Be a thirsty, hungry student of writing and learn all you can about the craft. Then apply it. Your readers will thank you.

Keep writing,

Thursday, March 12, 2015

New online resource for writers

Image courtesy of scottchann at
Are you passionate about writing? Do you want to sharpen your skills? Do you want to stand out from the crowd? (In a good way)

Then check out Jerry Jenkins's new online resource for writers: The Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild - "Where Passionate Writers Learn to Sharpen their Skills and Stand Out from the Crowd."

I was a mentor for Jerry's Christian Writers Guild courses for nearly a decade and even took the Guild's Craftsman course when I branched into fiction. I loved the courses, working with the students, and watching them improve lesson by lesson and find direction. It broke my heart when the Guild shut down late last year.

But Jerry's heart has long been in been in paying back to the industry that has blessed him so much (a paraphrase of his own words), and he searched for ways to continue to help stock the pool of Christian writers.

Here's what Jerry has to say about his new website: "I'd love to come alongside you in your writing journey. I created the Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild for one purpose: to help you become the writer you want to be."

What are the top 5 resources every writer needs?

What are his top 5 tips for aspiring authors?

All this, plus his weekly blog on writing, all "designed to help you improve, publish, or market your book."

I've signed up. I know the quality of material Jerry Jenkins produces. I have glimpsed into his heart - a heart that loves the Lord and wants to serve Him anyway he can, a heart that wants to help you become the writer you can be.

Click here to visit his website and get more information.


Speaking of resources for writers:

The one-day Writing Success XXII writers conference in Stoneboro, Pa., is just around the corner.

The keynote speaker is DiAnn Mills, the best-selling, Christy Award winning author of over 55 novels from such publishers as Tyndale House, Zondervan, and Barbour. She's a founding member of American Christian Fiction Writers, is the current president of RWA's Faith, Hope, and Love chapter, and was a mentor for the Christian Writers Guild Craftsman course.

Her keynote address is "From Fearful to Focused."

Click here to check out the conference online at Writing Success XXII.

You can also register online.

I'll be teaching how to "Strengthen Your Online Presence" in a two-hour, hands-on workshop. I hope to see you there.

Keep writing,


Monday, March 9, 2015

Blogs for writers

I've added a new BLOG FOR WRITERS to the list on this page: Marsha Hubler's Writing Tips. (Scroll down the page for the list of blogs for writers in the right margin.)

Marsha is my editor and is a best-selling author of the Keystone Stables books and the Loves of Snyder County series. Marsha has published with a number of publishing companies, including ZonderKids. She loves horses, dogs, and writers (not necessarily in that order, though!) and recently over the reins of directing the Montrose Christian Writers Conference.

She gives some great tips for writers, "beginners and the rest of us," in today's post. When you're done reading today's post, browse through her past posts. Bookmark her site to come back to and feed yourself on her words of wisdom for writers.

Keep writing!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Got 5 minutes?

Sitting at a computer all day is not good for your health. Not only do positive ions from the electronics that are a necessary part of your job negatively affect your health ("What Are Negative and Positive Ions?"), but, if you're like me, you don't take time to get the physical exercise your body, mind, and spirit need to work at their best.

Exercise is like oil to a machine. Without the essential lubricant, the machine won't run properly and will eventually burn out.

Now, I love to walk. But living where I do - in the western Pennsylvania countryside - winter, with all its storms and ice - presents a problem. At this writing, the driveway is a sheet of ice. If snow comes along and covers it, you'd think I'd get more traction. But snow atop ice is a false security. I know from experience. The blue sky and sunshine lured me out last week. I bundled up, pulled on my merino socks, laced on my hiking boots, and off on a 1-mile walk I went.

I got in my mile, but not without falling on the ice and having to turn back halfway out the lane when I encountered an impassible-without-ice-crampons ice field.

So I use my elliptical  machine and work out to my Leslie Sansone Walk-at-Home DVDs. I shoot for three workouts per week.

But my favorite form of exercise (besides hiking) is swimming. Although I'm scared to death of deep water.

Last week I decided to take advantage of the Punxsutawney Area Middle School swimming pool and bought a month's pass. Saturday morning I went for my first swim, and the swimming instructor worked with me during the adult lap swim time. I learned a lot and determined by the end of 2015, I will be swimming laps - in the deep water.

Tuesday I went to my first water aerobics class. I loved it! This is exercise? I thought. I'd hoped to go today, but there's snow on the way - in the form of squalls - and bitterly cold weather. Same for Saturday. (My plan is to swim Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and do the walk videos and use my elliptical machine the other days of the week.)

So what's a winter-weary writer supposed to do?

Then yesterday a writer friend posted a 5-minute walk video clip by Leslie Sansone on Facebook. I included it here, because this is the perfect break from writing--and it will keep the muse fired up.

When she was taking courses for her master's degree in education, my daughter researched and wrote a paper about the importance of physical activity to the mental process.

"Periods of inactivity longer than 20  minutes cause a drop in glucose and oxygen in the brain, resulting in a reduced ability to focus on, understand, and remember new information," she wrote.

"Movement has been shown to strengthen learning, improve memory and retrieval, and enhance motivation and morale. Movement increases the flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body, including the brain, which is needed to 'feed and create connections between neurons,'" she wrote.

"Exercise and movement also increase the number of neurotransmitters in the brain, which helps to maintain balance and the ability to focus attention and control impulses." (MTH note: impulses like wanting to eat carbs all day)

In light of this, it seems to me we writers need to work brief exercise stints into our days - to keep the blood flowing, maintain our focus - and keep the muse dancing.

To get the positive effects of negative ions, if you live in the country, take a walk.

Can't get outside? Don't have time for a one-mile walk? Then put on your sneakers and follow the five-minute walking video clip I put at the top right of this page several times a day. I'm going to do it four times a day: before breakfast, mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and before supper. That will give me a total of 20 minutes. So I get my exercise in for the day and keep my creative juices flowing at the same time!

Happy walking!

Keep writing,

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Looking for a writing mentor?

Image courtesy of
When Jerry B. Jenkins announced he was shutting down the Christian Writers Guild last fall, my heart broke. I'd been a mentor for various CWG courses for nearly a decade and was on the team that rewrote two of the courses. I made many friends through the Guild and was privileged to mentor quite a number of fine budding writers.

It was a dream come true - combining my two passions, writing and teaching.

Jerry, however, has a heart for writers and wants to continue to help them hone their craft and learn about the ever-changing publishing industry. To this end, he is offering writer resources on his website. Rather than tell you what Jerry said, read "An Important Update" for yourself. Visit him at to see what he's offering to writers. Check out his writers blog, Writing on Writing.

Right now things are in the planning stages, but I look for exciting things in the coming months. I know how Jerry feels about helping writers. I feel the same way.

That's why I decided to branch out and offer my services as a writing mentor. 

(The following information can be accessed on the mentoring page of this blog. Click here to access.)

One of my greatest joys as an author is mentoring other writers—coming alongside them and helping them take their ability to the next level and beyond, and helping them to clarify the call, bringing into sharper focus what direction to take with their writing.

Due to my schedule and because I invest significant time and energy in each of my writing students/clients, I work with a limited number of writers and am selective about whom I choose to work with.

I’d love to know more about your project. If you're looking for someone with experience in writing and publishing to come alongside you and help you with your work-in-progress, please email me the following information:

* A short synopsis of your book, including its theme, subject matter if nonfiction or storyline if fiction
* Word count of manuscript (How much of this is written?)
* What kind of help you feel you need (see list below)
* When you’d need the work completed

I’ll let you know if I’m interested and available. If I am, I can give you a quote for the entire project or charge you by the hour at my present rate of $35 an hour.

Please understand I’m more of a mentor than an editor.  What’s the difference?

An editor focuses on the manuscript to make it the best it can be. A mentor focuses on you, the writer, helping you to become the best writer you can be. 

As your mentor, I’ll do more than proofread and edit your manuscript. I’ll show you what’s wrong, why, and how to correct it. I’ll show you not only what areas need improvement, but also what your areas of strength are. You’ll do the major revisions then send them to me.

Over the decade I was a mentor for the Christian Writers Guild, I watched students blossom not only in skill but also in self-confidence.

“You’ve taught me so much,” said one of my Apprentice students. “I came to CWG with some vague ideas about wanting to write, but now—after taking these two courses and having you as my mentor—I have a very clear direction of where I want to go with my writing. The words ‘thank you’ can’t convey the gratitude that I feel for the time and energy you’ve given as my mentor.”

“Michele was an amazing mentor! I loved her encouragement and communication style.”

“Thank you for your thorough feedback. I’ve read about many of the things that you referred to—strong transitions, showing versus telling, specific verbs, and avoiding clich├ęs—but having you apply them to my writing is exactly what I need so that I can internalize these important aspects of writing.”

If you aren’t looking for a mentor and want only an editor, I can do that for you, also. But know that, although I will work to help you make your manuscript the best it can be, my heart will always be in how I can help you become the best writer you can be.

I look forward to hearing from you.



During a THOROUGH EDIT, I focus on the following:

* Mechanics, including typos, grammar, spelling, punctuation
* Tone
* Flow
* Dialogue
* Word choice
* Tense
* Point-of-view
* Consistency
* Sentence structure
* Clarity
* Tightening, trimming

As a MENTOR, I also look closely at your CONTENT and TECHNIQUE, pinpointing areas of weakness and suggesting ways to correct and improve them, as well as highlighting your strengths as a writer. We’ll work chapter by chapter, with you submitting your revisions to me (the fee includes one revision per chapter). Each writer had a unique style, tone, and voice. Far be it from me to mess with that (except to help you strengthen them).

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Sad news

I've long been an avid supporter of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. For the past 10 years I've mentored budding writers for both the youth courses and adult courses. I've believed in the vision--to train and equip Christian writers to make a difference in the world through their writing.

That's why I'm sad to pass on the news that CWG will be shutting down after 14 years under the ownership of Jerry B. Jenkins. Jerry has run the Guild with integrity, honor, and class. CWG has been an immense blessing for me, and those blessings will continue to ripple through my personal and professional life.I will miss my students, my colleagues, and the wonderful people I've met through CWG, including all those who have served on the CWG office staff.

Click HERE to read Jerry's announcement on what used to be the Christian Writers Guild web page.

 By the way, if you're currently enrolled in a course, you WILL be able to complete it.

Keep writing,

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The author's point of view

I had a wonderful visit with Brittany Valentine, the author of "Abigail's Answer," volume 2 of the Fifth Wheel series, on The G-Zone blogtalk radio today.

Listen to the author's point of view - the story behind the story - of the first two volumes of the Fifth Wheel series (and what happens when two women who haven't seen each other in a while get together . . . the poor interview host couldn't get a word in edgewise!)

Check Out Books Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with GelatisScoop on BlogTalkRadio

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Guest blogger: Amber Schamel

Paint a Picture

By Amber Schamel

As writers, we've heard the term "show don't tell" until our face turns green at the very mention of the phrase. We work so hard to show our readers the story, draw them into the plot and the setting, give them a read they will never forget. We want them to see the story playing out in their mind so vividly, that they forget if they saw the story as a movie or read the book. This is what it takes to be successful, right?

As Christian authors, this aspect of storytelling is even more important. Our books are more than entertainment, they carry a message. Messages of hope, redemption, and love. Stories touch a place in a person' s heart and mind that lectures, sermons and expositions cannot. A person may sit in a pew all their life and still not understand the sacrifice that Jesus made for them...but then they read a story and it suddenly comes alive.

Francine Rivers' book The Last Sin Eater is one of those memorable pictures. Cadi is a young girl who carries the guilt of her little sister's death. She has been taught all her life that there is no forgiveness for sins until after you have passed on. She lives with her guilt and misery, until a missionary comes to her mountain to bring the Gospel. Cadi and the other immigrants come to see that they've all been deceived, especially the Sin Eater, who has been living apart from all others under the impression that he can take their sins upon himself and save them all from Hell. Through heart-wrenching drama, Rivers' story portrays the stark contrast between man-made redemption and true redemption, as well as the forgiveness and freedom we find in our Savior, in a way that sinks deep into the heart and will not soon be forgotten.

"Show, don't tell" is what we do with Christian fiction. Show the struggle, the need, the pain, and then show the message and the solution.

Ministers can preach about the love of Christ, but as writers, we have the ability – the responsibility—to paint an unforgettable picture.

I have been challenged to take "show, don't tell" to a deeper level. To go write that story. Paint it in vibrant color and detail. For people who have been TOLD all their life, SHOW the reason that Christ is everything to me.

Today, I'm challenging you to do the same. What is the message of your book? How are you showing it through story?

As we chat about this today, I'd like to invite you to celebrate with me! My new book is releasing October 16th, and we're running the Name-A-Character giveaway. Click here or on the logo above to enter to for a chance to pick the name of a main character in Amber's upcoming book The Christmas Pardon. Terms and conditions apply.

Bestselling author Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest." A homeschool graduate from a family of 12 children, Amber found her calling early in life. First published at age 21, she has continued to hone her craft. Between ministry, family, and working in their family businesses, Amber loves to connect with readers. Find her on the Stitches Thru Time blog, or on any of the major social media sites. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

12 common mistakes found in fiction manuscripts

What common fiction mistakes are you making? In her recent blog post, "Twelve Common Mistakes Found in Fiction Manuscripts," Marsha Hubler, multi-published author and editor extraordinaire, identifies a dozen no-no's that scream "amateur."  Click on the title to read her post.

Happy writing,