Posts Tagged ‘tips’

Author Forum: How Do You Choose a Book Title?

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This is the fifth of a multi-part series by guest blogger Ivy Cheng tapping into the expertise of several seasoned Ambassador authors. The first post offered tips on dealing with writer’s block. The second post covered the influence other writers can have on your work, the third discussed managing a writing schedule within a busy life and last week’s post provided insight into starting a book project.

Although we always say never judge a book by its cover, it cannot be denied that first impressions are important. When you pick up a book, the first thing you see is a book’s title and cover. It is important to find a title that grabs the reader’s attention, makes an impact, and also reflect the book itself. That is a lot of expectations heaped on just a few words.

 

Juana M9781620202913-e1414700233650ikels – Author of Choosing Him All Over Again 

I was so honored to be a guest on Elisabeth Elliot’s radio program in 1997. We had begun a writing correspondence and she mentored me through her letters. She asked me to come on her program and tell our story. After we finished taping 3 days worth of programs, she said, “Juana, you know you are going to have to write a book. Call it, “Don’t Dump Him.” I was so busy with 4 young children, and my fourth child was born totally blind and partially deaf. Twelve years went by as I was a dyed-in-the-wool stay-at-home-mother and found motherhood absolutely a calling and delightful (nothing will ever surpass it, no book—no accomplishment—nothing. I left a six-figure income with Xerox in sales to teach my children at home. When we stopped home-schooling after 13 years, I began the manuscript entitling it, you guessed it, “Don’t Dump Him.” After I was blessed with an agent, we still kept the title the same as she shopped for publishers. We decided to reverse the title to make it a more positive statement flipping it to, “Choosing Him All Over Again.”  I’m glad we offer that alternative title, and in the end my publisher chose it. That honored my husband too, for he never liked, “Don’t Dump Him!”

 

From Driftwood to SapphireKathy Howard – Author of From Dishes to Snow and From Driftwood to Sapphire

That’s funny you should ask, because I have no process. Though they are not all published yet, by God’s goodness, I have written three books. All three were different when it came to finding a title. From Dishes to Snow was originally titled ‘The Little Red House,’ but that didn’t pop. Not until I was reworking a scene at the end of the book and the words just came out, did I realize that those words needed to be on the front cover as well. From Driftwood to Sapphire’s title came in the middle of writing it. I knew I wanted the sequel to have the same type of title, so I intentionally thought of driftwood and sapphire and did my best to work it into the story. The third novel’s title came before the first word was typed. Since it has not yet been published, I’ll keep its name a mystery for now. 😉 So, the process for creating a title? For me, there is none. The title shows up on its own time table.

Grace in the Middle

Wendy Duke – Author of Grace in the Middle

Choosing a title is definitely tricky.  I wanted the title to convey the message of the story, but also connect a stranger  to the story when he / she picks it up off of a shelf in a bookstore. I’m drawn to bold titles, lyrical titles, and memorable titles.  You want people to remember the name of the book when they talk about it or share it with others. And the title and cover have to tie so closely together; a strong or intriguing title with a cover equally as strong and intriguing is a powerful draw.

 

An9781620202692-197x306drea Rodgers –Author of The 20th Christmas

I always find that coming up with a title is one of the hardest parts of writing a book, what was your process for creating a title?

I really have no one to credit for my titles except God! Every other title I’ve come up with in my life was a struggle (and really terrible titles, haha), but The 20th Christmas were the words I saw when I opened my eyes after having the dream. A similar situation happened with Caged Dove–I was walking around my house with the laundry basket and that title just came to me. When I looked up Scripture about doves, I had chills–Psalm 55:6 fits my book to a T. I knew there was no better way to begin Caged Dove than with that Bible verse!

 

 

 

Are you ready to start writing your own book? Go and comment on our Facebook page and tell us all about it!

 

Author Forum: How Do You Start Writing a Book?

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This is the fourth of a multi-part series by guest blogger Ivy Cheng tapping into the expertise of several seasoned Ambassador authors. The first post offered tips on dealing with writer’s block. The second post covered the influence other writers can have on your work and the third discussed managing a writing schedule within a busy life.

I once had a friend who told me “everyone has a story, but not all of them can write it.” I think this is a very true statement. Everyone is unique in their own way, and everyone has a story to tell. However, not everyone has the time, patience, or skill to write their story. The ability to write an entire book requires intense devotion. It is a daunting task to sit in front of a blank screen and start writing a book. And so, we ask some of our authors what was the spark that made them write those first few words.

 

Juana M9781620202913-e1414700233650ikels – Author of Choosing Him All Over Again 

The short answer is it was a call from God. By that I mean, that I knew to write it was to be obedient to what He wanted me to do. Knowing that it was God’s will for my life with my husband’s full blessing gave me strength and endurance when the going got rough—and it did get rough. It took me a year and half to write the rough draft, another year and a half to get a Christian agent, then another two years to get a Christian publisher, and finally one year before I held the book in my hand. When the book finally arrived, I will never forget my husband’s prayer with me. We held the book in our hands, and he prayed that if one person could be brought closer to Christ or have a stronger marriage—just one person more complete in all the will of God—it would be worth it. So beautiful to hear the man that I left all those years ago to pray over Choosing Him All Over Again.

From Driftwood to SapphireKathy Howard – Author of From Dishes to Snow and From Driftwood to Sapphire

From Dishes to Snow was written after we decided to homeschool our girls. I wanted to do something that would share Jesus and hopefully make enough money to pay for the kids’ curriculum. I prayed over every writing day, never knowing what the characters would do or say. I had no idea what the plot would be, only that I wanted to use my family’s mountain house as the setting. As a child, I remember hiking, daydreaming about different stories involving our precious mountain. In 2013/2014, I was given the chance to daydream again, only this time, others were privy to those dreams as the story came alive on paper.

Grace in the Middle

Wendy Duke – Author of Grace in the Middle

Encouragement from other people motivated me highly, but I also just had a deep conviction that our story of pain and struggle could help someone else in their own difficult circumstances. I had flashbacks of sitting in doctors’ waiting rooms, alone and scared, and decided to write our story to help encourage people in the same shoes. This has been my greatest desire for this book: to help struggling families deal with the difficulties of having a child with an illness or other traumatic circumstances. King Solomon said our words have the power of life and death, and I wanted to use mine to speak life over people who need to hear life and light and hope.

 

 

An9781620202692-197x306drea Rodgers –Author of The 20th Christmas

My first book, The 20th Christmas, came to me in a dream. I’ve been writing stories since childhood and that had never happened to me before–but I started scribbling down what I remembered and a month later the manuscript was completed! My next book, Cage The Dove (coming this fall), was inspired by real-life events that I went through in junior high, so the story idea has been on my mind for over two decades. God gave me too many signs for me to put it off any longer.

Are you ready to start writing your own book? Go and comment on our Facebook page and tell us all about it!

 

Author Forum: How Do You Manage Your Writing Schedule?

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This is the third of a multi-part series by guest blogger Ivy Cheng tapping into the expertise of several seasoned Ambassador authors. The first post offered tips on dealing with writer’s block. The second post covered the influence other writers can have on your work.

As a college student, I know all too well the struggles of time management. Juggling an internship, part-time job, classes, and still trying to find time to see friends seems like an impossible task. I cannot even imagine trying to find the time to write a full length book, when I am struggling to write all  my class papers! Our authors must have schedules that are just as intense, if not even more! Not all of our authors are full time writers. Many of them hold other occupations, such as teachers and parents. Therefore, we ask some of our authors their methods of fitting in writing in their busy lives.

Juana M9781620202913-e1414700233650ikels – Author of Choosing Him All Over Again 

I wrote over half of my book, possibly more, while our household was asleep. I would begin at 10:00 pm and end somewhere around 2:00 am. The time passed as if it were just minutes. I had to make myself go to bed so I could still do my responsibilities with my family of six.  Once the book was written (took about a year and a half), I edited it primarily in the daytime a couple hours at the time. To do that, I had to turn off email and my phone to “carve out the time.” I had to say no to speaking opportunities (I didn’t get that many, but I couldn’t lead a Bible study or even a small group as a facilitator!) I had to keep carving out the time to edit, which took months. I like to think that I pulled it off without my family even noticing what I was doing by doing it at night and editing it in chunks of one hour here and two hours there—but I hate to tell you that they were rather tired of hearing about my “finishing the book” in the end!

 

From Driftwood to SapphireKathy Howard – Author of From Dishes to Snow and From Driftwood to Sapphire

Writing is not full-time for me, not yet anyway. If the Lord is willing, I would love to make it my full-time job eventually.  For now, though, I fill my days homeschooling my children and writing in between. From Dishes to Snow was written mainly at night, after the kids went to bed. However, its sequel, From Driftwood to Sapphire was written like a full time job, during the days, barricaded in my room for over a month as my family patiently endured a messy house. That was probably easier to do as a writer, but harder to do as a mother. Now that we are on summer break, I hope to find a happy medium as I put the finishing touches on a third novel.

 

Grace in the MiddleWendy Duke – Author of Grace in the Middle

I work in spurts. During the summer, I am mostly home with my kids, so writing time is scarce, but I want them to see me working hard, so I try to get up earlier than they do and write in the mornings. When they’re in school, my job working in sports ministry is flexible, so I usually take a day a week and spend all day writing / editing.

 

 

An9781620202692-197x306drea Rodgers –Author of The 20th Christmas

I’m a stay at home mom to two children, which means I never had a break until my son started school! My daughter is in pre-school two days a week so, during the school year, those are the days I write. Thankfully, my husband is also supportive, so when I’ve been on deadline he will take the children away from the house in the evenings to do fun activities with them while I write.

 

 

How do you manage your busy schedule? Go and comment on our Facebook page and tell us all about it!

 

Author Forum: Does Reading Other People’s Work Influence Your Writing Style?

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This is the second of a multi-part series by guest blogger Ivy Cheng tapping into the expertise of several seasoned Ambassador authors. The first post offered tips on dealing with writer’s block.

They say that copycatting is the highest praise because it means that the work is worth copying. Shakespeare’s storylines have been taken and reworked into countless new works, and Hemingway’s different writing style changed the literary world. So it raises the question if our authors are particularly influenced by other authors.

Juana M9781620202913-e1414700233650ikels – Author of Choosing Him All Over Again 

I don’t read other people’s work when I am writing other than looking up a quote I am searching for (I also don’t listen to other testimonies when I am writing).  I am afraid that I will copy their style. But don’t get me wrong. Reading what other people have written had everything to do with my writing. I read aloud to my children for 15 years before I began my book. I will forever be grateful to the excellent writers I met during those years whose detailed descriptions inspired me (a math girl, think of it!) to the point I knew I had to write! I agree with the Psalmist who said, “My heart was hot within me, While I was musing the fire burned; Then I spoke with my tongue…” (Psalm 39:3)

 

From Driftwood to SapphireKathy Howard – Author of From Dishes to Snow and From Driftwood to Sapphire

I am a picky eater and I am a picky reader. I’ve noticed I tend to read authors with similar writing styles to each other. Anything outside of that realm, I have a hard time understanding or staying focused. So, yes, I would have to say I lean towards the writing style that I read, mainly because it keeps my attention. To those who like meatloaf, tuna, and chicken – expository, persuasive, and narrative, I admire you. But to me, I’m just a chicken girl – one meat, one writing style. Hopefully one of these days, I’ll acquire a taste for variety.

 

 

Grace in the MiddleWendy Duke – Author of Grace in the Middle

Yes and no. I definitely feel like reading unique writing styles seems to open up the possibilities, break down limitations. Sometimes I try to write in different “voices” just to stretch my own technique. e.e. cummings taught me to use unexpected words to shake things up.  Harper Lee taught me to pay attention to the subplot, to the stories happening behind the center stage. Other authors such as Anne Lamotte, Donald Miller and Jen Hatmaker have all influenced me over recent years. They have very conversational writing styles, casual and funny.  This seems to be the style that feels most like my own voice, so their writing gives me confidence in my own style.

 

An9781620202692-197x306drea Rodgers –Author of The 20th Christmas

Yes, so I don’t usually read much when I’m working on a manuscript. I feel it’s one or the other for me–either I’m reading or writing because I do a better job of listening to my writing voice when it’s the only one I hear.

 

Have a favorite author or unique writing style? Go and comment on our Facebook page and tell us all about it!

 

 

Author Forum: How Do You Break Writer’s Block?

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This is the first of a multi-part series by guest blogger Ivy Cheng tapping into the expertise of several seasoned Ambassador authors.

Anyone who writes, from poetry to novels, even a school paper, has experienced writer’s block at one point or another. Curious as to how to break writer’s block, we asked a few of our amazing authors here at Ambassador International for their methods of finding their inspiration again.

 

Juana M9781620202913-e1414700233650ikels – Author of Choosing Him All Over Again 

“Some people suffer from writer’s block, but I consistently had to deal with the opposite problem. I had way too much content. As I wrote, story after story would unfold and the average reader doesn’t want to read a book over 400 pages! When my beloved mentor who was an excellent writer suggested that I write my story, she had it right immediately. Her name is Elisabeth Elliot. She said to me, “Juana, some people have the problem of irrigating the desert when they write; you will have the problem of chopping down the jungle.” She was spot on.

Even so, there was a few times I got “stuck.” I found the best thing to do was to put it away, and come back fresh on another day. On occasion I listened to an audio of my story told in front of a live audience. As I listened as if it was someone else’s story, I became re-motivated to go back to the spot where I got stuck and just tell it as if I was talking to one person in the room (and just one person will eventually read it when they hold it in their hand!)”

 

From Driftwood to SapphireKathy Howard – Author of From Dishes to Snow and From Driftwood to Sapphire

When I hit my wall of writer’s block, I find myself putting the manuscript aside for a time. Thankfully, it is usually just a short time, one that I can fill running or playing with the kids for an afternoon. During those less frequent longer times, I push the story out of my head as best I can and live life away from the characters for days or even weeks. Other than normal living, I may read other books or watch movies, stories that show creativity and imagination. When I feel refreshed, I dive back in, headfirst.

 

Grace in the MiddleWendy Duke – Author of Grace in the Middle

I tend to write in spurts: I’ll let thoughts and ideas build for a while, and then spend a few days writing non-stop.  I’m not sure if this is “normal”; it seems to just depend on personality type.  I read several writers’ blogs who carve out a couple of hours each day to write, but I usually need a bigger block of time to really get much on a page.  I’m just not a fast writer, but the more I write, the faster I become.  Reading seems to be the best way to help me generate ideas and be inspired to write. The more I read, the more I seem to want to write.

 

An9781620202692-197x306drea Rodgers –Author of The 20th Christmas

I take breaks–but that means doing something else creative.  I find that reading, watching a movie, or listening to music  often inspire me so then I can return to my manuscript and  the words flow easier and better. I’ve never been stuck on  what to write about–writer’s block to me is more about not  being able to get the right words out or have the story flow in  the best direction.

 

Do you have your own tips for breaking writer’s block? Go and comment on our Facebook page with your methods!

 

National Pet Fire Safety Day: Author Provides Expert Tips

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Did you know that National Pet Fire Safety Day is in July? Today author Maria Bostian  (What Should Daisy Do?) has put together a collection of tips for families to keep their pets and homes safe from threat of fire.

Did you know that an estimated 500,000 pets are affected annually by home fires and that nearly 1,000 house fires each year are accidentally started by the homeowners’ pets? While difficult to think about, these are true statistics released by the National Fire Protection Association.

What Should Daisy DoWhat can be done to keep your pets safe from the devastating effects of fire? Raise awareness? Begin conversations with pet owners? The National Volunteer Fire Council, the American Kennel Club and ADT Security Services did just that! They joined forces in the late 2000s to make July 15th National Pet Fire Safety Day.  Their goal was to spread awareness about how pets can start home fires, but more importantly, how to prevent them.

I would have never even thought about the need for a pet fire safety day, however, as the Public Information Officer for my fire department, I’ve been to several fires where pets were the cause of the fire (One was caused by pets moving knobs on the stove.) and have witnessed the terrible loss of pets from unintentional fires started by humans (some of these incidents I’ll never forget!).

Often times, fire safety is an afterthought. But let’s change that! Starting today, let’s make it a priority – for us and for our pets!

What poses safety concerns for your pets? Both my husband and I teach fire safety though our work in local fire departments so we make every effort to be fire safe. But even our house poses some dangers. We do light candles, but try to keep them out of reach of our indoor cats. Long gone is the coffee table with an array of candles. We learned years ago that was a disaster waiting to happen. Now days, we use far more battery-operated candles and when we do have open flame candles we keep them out of reach of the cats (and their swishy tails).

METADATA-STARTOur outdoor pets need consideration, too. The hubby loves his fire pit and so do our animals! Jeff has been really good to build it up off the ground and with a rocky base to prevent any grass fires. He keeps the seating area away from the pit and has taught our animals to back away from the flames. Still, we have a couple curious cats seem drawn to the light and heat sometimes and he’s there to shoo them away before they too close!

What about the pets in your care? Do you use open flamed candles in the home? What about cigarettes? Need deep-dish ash trays? Do you have a home escape plan and when’s the last time you practiced it? Are your pets familiar with the sound of your working smoke alarms? WOW! These seem like so many things to consider. While it seems like a lot to take in – take baby steps! Start by taking time to talk about fire safety with your family and proceed from there. Your family (and your pets) will be glad that you did! Neela sure did!

METADATA-START

Below are several tips on how to prevent your beloved pet from starting a fire, as well as, how to keep your pets safe. For more pet fire safety information, feel free to contact me or your local fire department.

Prevent your pet from starting fires:

  • Extinguish open flames – Pets are generally curious and will investigate cooking appliances, candles, or even a fire in your fireplace. Ensure your pet is not left unattended around an open flame and make sure to thoroughly extinguish any open flame before leaving your home.
  • Remove stove knobs – Be sure to remove stove knobs or protect them with covers before leaving the house. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a stove or cook top is the number one piece of equipment involved in pet-started fires.
  • Invest in flameless candles – These candles contain a light bulb rather than an open flame, and take the danger out of your pet knocking over a candle. Cats are notorious for starting fires when their tails turn over lit candles.
  • Beware of water bowls on wooden decks – Do not leave a glass water bowl for your pet outside on a wooden deck. The sun’s rays when filtered through the glass and water can actually heat up and ignite the wooden deck beneath it. Choose stainless steel or ceramic bowls instead.

Keep your pets safe:

  • Keep Pets Near Entrances When Away From Home – Keep collars on pets and leashes at the ready in case firefighters need to rescue your pet. When leaving pets home alone, keep them in areas or rooms near entrances where firefighters can easily find them.
  • Secure Young Pets – Especially with young puppies, keep them confined away from potential fire-starting hazards when you are away from home such as in crates or behind baby gates in secure areas.
  • Since Pets Left Alone Can’t Escape a Burning Home – Consider using monitored smoke alarms which are connected to a monitoring center so emergency responders can be contacted when you’re not home. These systems provide an added layer of protection beyond battery-operated smoke alarms.
  • Use a Pet Finder Sticker – Consider using a pet finder sticker on or near the front door so that emergency workers will know that there are pets inside. Include names if possible so that crews can call pets by name when searching for them. Don’t have a fancy sticker? That’s ok! Simply write the information on piece of paper and secure it to a window.

Include Your Pets in Your Disaster Plan:

  • Determine Which Adult Family Member will be Responsible for Each Pet.
  • Know Where Your Pets Hide! – This may be the first place they go if there is fire or smoke.
  • IF you are safe from topic smoke and flames, plan on bringing your pet carriers with you when you evacuate the home.
  • In the event of a fire, you may have to stay in a shelter or hotel for several days. – If this happens, chances are that you may not be able to bring your pets with you. Talk to a friend or family member in advance to secure lodging/care for your pets in the event of an emergency. 

 

5 Tips for Daily Living as a Christian

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Living as a Christian is not a simple decision. It’s a constant daily choice that transitions your heart into something more, something that fulfills God’s purpose for you and all of your heart’s desires. Our busy lives are a constant swarm of technology, media, and information that continually test our religious boundaries. At every turn, we are challenged with the latest test. So where do we get our daily motivation to continue to pursue a God-focused life and let Him live in our hearts? Here is a great starter list to begin a daily routine to keep God in your daily life and simultaneously grow closer with him.

  1. Give Him a Few Minutes Every Day. Whether or not it’s during your drive to work with a quick prayer behind the steering wheel, or sitting down in a quiet place and contemplating God’s goodness in your life, give Him time every day. Reflect on the positive things going on in your life, your gratefulness for good health, children, or simply enjoying your dog wagging his tail. Take a minute to appreciate the smaller and more important parts of life and not the stress that typically steals all of our attention.
  2. Read a Devotional. Regardless if this is for you or within a group, stay busy reading. Find a book that speaks to your heart and gives guidance to any area of your life. Are you struggling with forgiveness? (Forgiveness Is Not An Option: A Journey to Freedom and Healing) Do you crave peace and to let go of anxiety? (How to Have a Quiet Heart) Are you curious who God is? (For His Name’s Sake). Struggling with changing the way you think and thinking more positively? (Change the Way You Think: Winning the Everyday Battles of the Mind) Struggling with being single? (Single & Content: A Journey from Despair to Delight) Are you feeling alone or forgotten? (What If)
  3. Keep a Journal. Write down your feelings, emotional, and journey through whatever your heart is going through. Writing can be a great therapeutic release for emotions that we hold in. Answer questions from the devotional and meditate on your own journey through God’s word.
  4. Memorize Verses. The Bible is full of stories of real people who experienced similar heartache as you. Can’t handle something going on in your life? David or Mordecai. Sickness or difficulty? The numerous stories of those Jesus healed. One of my favorite pins on Pinterest is a list of scriptures that are directly related particular pains. Stressed? (Ephesians 4:27)Worried? (Philippians 4:6) Depressed? (Hosea 6:1)
  5. Keep an Accountability Partner. God doesn’t intend for us to experience pain by ourselves. Whether we need guidance and direction or simply a shoulder to cry on, find a close friend who you can trust during your journey. Share your struggle, helpful scripture, positive ideas that will help both of you. Keep each other accountable for reading scripture, devotionals, or simply spending time with God every day.

 

For more helpful tips for Christian Living, check out our pinterest boards for ideas, tips, and a little bit of humor!