Writers’ Tips

Writers’ Tips

Because of my own writing deadlines, busy family life, and our active ministry I am not able to read or critique aspiring authors’ manuscripts. But I would encourage you to subscribe to my blog because I often share writing information and encouragement for writers there. I’d also like to give you some tips that will help you improve your writing skills and put you on the path to pursue publication.

Writing Tip #1

Join a writers’ group in your local area, on-line, or both! Writers’ groups can help you learn the skills you need, give you information and encouragement, and help you grow as a writer. The first writers’ group I joined was through my local library. Then I joined American Christian Fiction Writers. I highly recommend this group to you. The low annual membership fee is a huge bargain! They offer an email loop for general writing questions, topic of the week discussion, monthly on-line classes, critique groups, annual conference, great networking potential, and all is positive and Christ-centered.

Writing Tip #2

Attend a writers’ conference. You’ll will meet other writers, attend workshops and general sessions, and be able to meet with editors and agents about your books. There are several great conferences including the Mt Hermon Writers’ Conference, the Colorado Christian Writers’ Conference, The Philadelphia Christian Writers’ Conference, The Blue Ridge Christian Writers’ Conference, The American Christian Fiction Writers’ Conference, and others. If you can’t attend in person, you can often order recordings from these conferences, which can be very helpful.

Writing Tip #3

Read, read, read! Stock up on books in the genre that you are interested in writing and enjoy them, but also take time to analyze each book. What did you like about it? What didn’t appeal to you? How would you have changed what you didn’t like? Order a fiction catalog from Christian Book Distributor to stay up to date on what’s new in fiction, 1-800-247-4784. Also take a look at the writers’ resource links below.

Writing Tip #4

Visit my blog and read more about My Writing Journey, or listen to this webinar for writing tips for aspiring authors and lessons from my writing journey.

Writing Tip #5

Check out this helpful blog post from literary agent, Rachelle Gardner: How to Get Published.

Writing Tip #6

For help with grammar and punctuation visit this website.

Looking for help with a book launch? Take a look at this Periscope interview that was filmed while I was working on the launch for Shine Like the Dawn in February 2017.

Writers’ Resources Links

  • Advanced Fiction Writing – Includes the famous snowflake method for planning your novel and the Advanced Fiction Writing e-zine.
  • Margie Lawson – Writing instructor with online courses that will take your book to the next level.
  • Writer Unboxed – Must-read advice about the craft and business of fiction.

An Interview with Author Carrie Turansky – My Writing Journey

By Gina Holmes || www.firstnoveljourney.blogspot.com

Carrie makes her home in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, with her husband, Scott, of twenty-seven years who is senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Mercer County.They are blessed with five great kids, a lovely daughter-in-law and an adorable grandson. Carrie teaches women’s Bible study, and enjoys reading,gardening, and walking around the lake near their home. She is the author of the novella “Wherever Love Takes Us” in Wedded Bliss? From Barbour. Her novel Along Came Love will be published by Steeple Hill Love Inspired in April 2006.

Click on a question to reveal Carrie’s answer!

Plug time. What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?

Gina, thanks for this opportunity to connect with you and your readers. My newest project is WEDDED BLISS? which includes my novella “Wherever Love Takes Us.” It is a 4-in-1 romance collection published by Barbour and was released this past November. The co-authors are Susan Downs, Sally Laity, Kristy Dykes and myself.

We hope these stories will inspire as well as entertain readers, especially those who are in the “middle years” of marriage. Each novella features a couple who is approaching their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary and is facing a difficult issue that could either destroy their marriage or make it stronger.

In Wherever Love Takes Us, Tessa and Matt Malone need to rebuild trust in their marriage after a business failure causes them to lose their home and savings. Then Matt inherits property in another state and wants to move his family there and start a new business. Tessa can’t imagine leaving her hometown, family, and friends, or giving up the cozy teashop that she co-owns with her sister. Whose dream will they follow, and how much will it cost their family? Is their faith and love strong enough to hold their family together?

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head.

I have been seriously working on writing fiction for seven years. I joined American Christian Fiction Writers almost six years ago, and that has helped me hone my skills and make some great connections. I met my agent through ACFW and also my co-authors for this project. We submitted the proposal for WEDDED BLISS? almost three years ago and received the acceptance call March 2004. So you can see it’s a long process and you need patience and perseverance to become a published author.

I continued to work on other projects and submit to other publishers while I waited to hear if WEDDED BLISS? would be accepted. In February 2005 I received a call from my agent telling me Steeple Hill had accepted my novel ALONG CAME LOVE for their Love Inspired Line. It will come out April 2006. I also recently received an acceptance call from Barbour for another 4-in-1 romance collection KISS THE BRIDE, which will include my novella, Tea for Two. It will be published in the fall 2006.

Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

I know I need to continually learn and grow as a writer and as a Christian in order to improve the quality of my writing and hopefully have a greater impact for the Lord. That is my goal. In order to do this I need to continue reading, attending conferences, taking classes, be involved in a critique group, be mentoring “younger” writers and most of all . . . write!

I believe if I am serious about my calling as a writer and diligent to learn and grow, God will take care of the rest. I don’t want to let doubt or comparison hinder me from doing my best for Him.

What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?

Join American Christian Fiction Writers or other professional writers group where you can learn the skills you need and also learn about the publishing industry. You may have a great story, but if you don’t know how to “package it” and who to present it to, then no one else may ever be able to read it. Do your homework and find out what it takes to become a published author and be willing to put in the time needed to bring your skills up to a high level. The competition is stiff!

What’s the worst piece of writing advice you’ve heard?

Just write the story of your heart. Don’t worry about the length or if any publisher is looking for that type of book. Don’t take time to plan, just pour it out and see what happens. That can be a great writing exercise, but if you want to be published, you have to learn the rules for writing fiction and follow them so that an editor will take you seriously and read your book. Don’t expect your first book will be published. It might happen, but it usually takes finishing 2 – 5 books before you learn enough to be ready to be published.

You also need to learn which publishers are looking for the type of books that you write. Though their needs do change, this will still give you an idea of what to aim for and what type of project to invest your time and effort into.

So do write from your heart and your passion, but take time to learn how the publishing industry works and how your books can fit in and find a home.

What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

Be sure you have several other people read your manuscript before you submit it. It’s too easy for an author to see what they meant to type rather than what’s actually there and overlook mistakes. It’s very embarrassing to have an agent or editor reject your book and tell you your manuscript is “unprofessional because of the typos and errors.” I only did that once – never again!

Do you have a scripture or quote that has been speaking to you lately?

This fall I have been involved in the Believing God Bible Study taught by Beth Moore. Beth invites us to experience a fresh explosion of faith in this study. One of the key points of the study is: I am who God says I am. Ephesians chapter one talks about all the benefits we receive as God’s child. Beth encouraged us to memorize this list. “In love I am blessed, chosen, adopted, accepted, redeemed, and forgiven. I am believing God!” Wow, what a wonderful heritage to enjoy every day!

Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?

About two years ago an editor told me he liked one of my books and asked me to make some minor changes to it. I did that within a week and returned it to him. He said he loved it and was taking it to committee that month.

I didn’t hear anything from him for several months. Finally, eight months later, I saw him at a conference and he told me his company had decided to change directions and he would not be able to accept my book. He said he held on to it for so long because he really liked it, but it just wasn’t going to work for them. That was disappointing, but I pressed on and have submitted it to other publishers.

What are a few of your favorite books? (Not written by you.)

Some of my favorite books are Nest of Sparrows by Debra Raney, Kissing Adrien by Siri Mitchell, The Mitford Series by Jan Karon, Under Cover of Darkness by Elizabeth White, The Debt by Angela Hunt, The Sisters and Brides Series by Irene Hannon, Colleen Coble’s series set in Hawaii, From Dust and Ashes by Tricia Goyer, Dreaming in Black and White by Laura Jensen Walker, Brides‘o the Emerald Isle by Tamela Hancock Murray, Vickie McDonough, Linda Windsor, and Pamela Griffin.

If your authorial self was a character from The Wizard of Oz, which one would you be and why?

I once played the lion in a school play, so he is my favorite character. I sometimes need courage to press on not let fear prevent me from doing all God wants me to do for Him as an author. Stepping out to meet booksellers and the public can be scary for a writer, so I need courage and confidence to do that.

What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?

My Love Inspired novel ALONG CAME LOVE tells the story of a single mom who returns to her Vermont home to make a new life for herself and her six-year-old son. When she meets an ex-missionary trying to hide his past, she must learn how to forgive, heal, and love once again.

God gave me some wonderful ideas on ways to weave the themes of forgiveness and unconditional love through this story. I am excited about the potential it has to touch people and cause them to look to the Lord for healing of past hurts.

Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?

I think it’s funny when you meet someone and they ask what you do, and you tell them you are a writer. Then they say, “Oh, I’m going to write a book some time.” They have no idea how much work it takes not only to write a book, but have it accepted for publication. I usually just smile and nod my head. Every once in a while I do meet someone who is serious about writing, and I try to help that person get connected with writers’ organizations and resources.

Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

I usually get up early to pray and spend time in the Word. Only three of my five kids are still living at home and they are all seniors in high school, so after I get them off to school, I have the morning to focus on writing.

In the afternoon I take care of household duties, shopping, and running errands. I try to get in a 30-minute walk 4 –5 times a week. Dinner and early evening are family time. If everyone else is busy with homework and jobs, I head back to the computer for a couple more hours of writing. I teach a women’s Bible study one weekday morning, and I also am involved in church activities on weekends and some occasional weeknights.

If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?

I admire so many writers that it’s hard to choose one. So I will combine several authors who I think do this one thing very well. I would like to create deep characters like Susie Warren, Kristin Heitzmann, and Siri Mitchell.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

I would love to write an international romantic adventure set in Kenya with missionaries as the main characters. Our family lived in Kenya for one year as missionaries and we had some thrilling adventures. I love the country and people and hope to write this story some day. Right now my agent says it is hard to sell international stories, but hopefully after I build a name as an author I will be able to branch out and write it.

Was there ever a time in your writing career when you thought of quitting?

Yes! When I attended my first writers’ conference, I received a brutally honest critique that almost made me give up. But as I prayed about it, the Lord spoke to my heart and gave me clear direction that I needed to persevere, improve my writing, and never give up. I am so glad I listened.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

My favorite part about being an author is having friends and family read my books and discuss them with me. Hearing their positive comments means more to me than a good review from someone I don’t know.

Waiting forever to hear if your proposal will be accepted is probably my least favorite part about being a writer. I spend several weeks and sometimes months creating characters and plots. I get very involved with the story and excited about it. Then I submit the proposal and have to wait months and sometimes more than a year to hear if it will be accepted and I can finish the story. The wheels of publishing turn slower than… anything I can think of!

How much marketing do you do? Any advice in this area?

I am a newly published author, so I am just learning how to market my books. I think using the Internet is one of the best ways to market your book. Review your books at on-line bookstores like Amazon and Christian Book Distributors. Send your book to others and ask them to submit reviews for you. Team up with other authors in your area to do group book signings. Create an interesting website. Give your book away!

Parting words?

Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to talk about my books and my writing ministry. I hope it is an encouragement for other writers to keep learning and growing as a Christian and as a writer. Trust God for the future and give Him your best effort. Success is loving, obeying, and serving Him.

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