Crystal Bowman

Crystal Bowman

Last time, I posted a blog on Writing for Children (Part 1), and addressed the challenge of writing boardbooks. The next sub-genre in the genre of children’s literature is what I call the preschool picture book. This is not the 32-page picture book with a full plot and story (i.e. beginning, middle, and happy ending). The books in this category are books that consist mainly of word play.

What do I mean by “word play”? Glad you asked.

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Hello! Maureen Pratt here for my monthly CAN blog contribution. I’ve just returned from the dentist, so am even-more-than-usually delighted to be here (she writes, grinning with those newly repaired pearly whites)!

To be completely honest, although not exactly fun, my unexpected detour to drill-land has inspired my topic this month: Drastic measures for drastic situations. That is, what do you do when every trick, technique, and type font has been exhausted and you’re still not happy with what you see pouring forth on the page? Do you abandon the project (not easy, if you’re on contract and deadline)? Do you put the project aside and work on something else, praying that the subconscious will percolate behind the scenes? Or, do you do something else?

How does this relate to a trip to the dentist? Well, today, I went in to see what could be done about small chips in my front teeth, the result of years of major medications to treat all of my many chronic illnesses, as well as Sjogren’s Syndrome, which causes extreme dry mouth, among other things. Instead of getting right to work, my wonderful dentist enumerated the possible fixes. One was benign (“let it be”), one was a moderate repair that could last for quite awhile. The third option was the most extreme.

“It’s really very extreme,” she said. “And I don’t think this situation is that extreme.”

Praise God! And, bring on option # 2!

As she worked away on my tooth, I began to work away on my (this) blog. I’ve written before about things that might be helpful when characters run amok. But this time, I thought about the times when I’ve seemingly “hit the wall” on my work-in-progress. Setting, characters, underlying tone – sometimes these have gone awry to the point where the road ahead seems blocked with a huge “do not pass” sign. (Not to be confused with ‘writer’s block,’ this is a time when words are pouring forth, but just not for the same story as the one you’re supposed to be writing.)

At such times, I’ve turned to prayer, specific prayer for the specific writing situation: “Lord, is this project right for me, at least for now?” or “Lord, please show me the way, or at least please update my GPS!”

Next, I’ve gone back to my original premise, characters, outline, or inspiration and held these up to where I am with the project. It can be painstaking, but very useful to force yourself to look at everything you’ve written from those early kernels through the prism of the start. Is everything tying back to the beginning? If not, what needs to change, go, or remain?

Another thing to do is exercise. No, not writing exercises. I mean walking, running, playing tennis, golfing, aerobics – something physical that forces the brain to use different “muscles.” Instead of hand on keyboard or pen, put hand on basketball, or, if you’re not athletically inclined, vacuum cleaner or mixing bowl, which can be athletic endeavors, too. Exercise always helps clear my head, give me a fresh outlook and my subconscious time to regroup.

Talk to people you’ve already interviewed (if this is a non-fiction work) or to people who know nothing about your subject. Try to explain what you’re trying to do. See what questions they have and gauge what you have or have not put into your work thus far (this is always helpful). If you’re writing fiction, talk to your characters. Okay, this is a tick farther up on the drastic scale, but I actually find it very illuminating. Take your characters to the store, to a historic site, or just sit at your kitchen table and chat. Don’t mind if others look at you and shake their heads; it is a blessing and an honor to be gifted with storytelling, and sometimes the creative process just seems odd to others, but not to us!

The most drastic thing that I have done, only reserved for absolutely drastic situations, is to completely and utterly erase everything I’ve already written. Yup, the proverbial “computer crash.” I discovered this tool when my computer really did crash once years ago. Could not find the backup, let alone past versions of my work-in-progress, which was, at the time, under contract. After my initial shock, I had no alternative but to rewrite everything. It was a drastic situation, alright, and a drastic measure to have to rewrite the piece. But it actually turned out much better than it had been going along initially. And so, on those rare occasions when I need to do something drastic with my current writing project, I recall and sometimes employ this “measure of last resort,” as hard as it is to press delete and empty the recycle bin!

“Back in the day,” trips to the dentist were much more onerous than they are now (usually). Today’s visit turned out to be minor on the scale of discomfort, and all’s well, thanks to dentistry’s new tools of the trade. “Back in the day” of typewriters or writing longhand, it wasn’t possible to “lose it all,” unless you had a voracious dog or dared take your pages through the shredder (but even then, it probably wasn’t a cross-cut, and you could tape it all back together). Today, however, sometimes the dreaded “crash” is actually a blessing in disguise – a way to start completely afresh while retaining what’s most important from the good work you’ve done already.

Blessings for the day!



Sundin #D70 ©2008 Linda Johnson Photography web (2)Greetings from Sarah Sundin! This past week I attended Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, where I roomed with one of my dearest friends – and this week’s interviewee – Sherry Kyle. Sherry writes for tween girls (8-12 years) and also writes women’s fiction. Her newest women’s novel, The Heart Stone, has an official release date of April 1, but is already available now!

CAN Sherry KyleSherry, how did you get into writing?

When my children were young, I’d take them to the public library, and we’d check out a dozen books every couple of weeks. As we snuggled on the couch and read books together, I kept thinking how fun it would be to be an author. Finally, I acted on my dream and enrolled in the Institute of Children’s Literature, taking both the beginner and advanced courses. Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference and American Christian Fiction Writers have also been instrumental in helping me continue my education and learn the craft of writing.

Heart StoneHow many books do you have published?

I have one children’s book and two novels in print, with two more girls’ books on the way. The Christian Girl’s Guide to Style, Delivered with Love, and The Heart Stone are my current titles.

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Pam-Fave 4Hello! Pamela S. Meyers here with another article on book promotion. Back when I was asked to write this monthly blog post, my debut novel, Thyme for Love had just released, and so my focus was on getting the word out about my new book.

Now I am in the beginning of a marketing blitz for a novel that I’ve been blessed to set in my hometown. The official release date for Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is April 1, 2013. However, my publisher Guideposts/Summerside Press surprised me with an early soft release, and it’s been available for purchase on Amazon and several other on-line resources for a couple of weeks.

With this book, I’m wading into new marketing waters thanks to my publisher being able to provide some assistance with marketing.

The setting for my story is a popular getaway spot that gets very crowded on weekends. Since there isn’t a large bookstore in the small town to host a signing event, over the April 27th and 28th weekend I am having a launch presentation and signing at the Geneva Lake Museum—an appropriate venue since my book is historical romance—and the next day I’m signing my book at the
CornerstonLFYLG Full Size Covere Gift Shop and Gallery, a very nice gift shop that sits at the main intersection of town. If you go back to last month’s blog post, I discuss both of these venues in greater detail.

At the museum event I will employ some of the same things I did at the debut book launch such as a drawing for a gift bag of goodies. You can read an article about that by going here.

These two weekend events are only a couple of the visits I plant to make to Lake Geneva to promote the book. I’m currently in discussion with the Lake Geneva Public Library for an evening event in July or August and also the owner of the town’s only bookstore for another event. The tiny shop is tucked into a corner of a former Baptist church where I hope to hang out for an afternoon and chat with the customers and do a reading or two. I’m also going to drop in to the shop when I’m in town for the museum event and sign any of the books he has available for sale, and when he sells a copy of my signed book he can tell the purchaser I’ll be at the shop to meet the customers on whatever date we decide.

Another possible venue is an annual art festival that takes place in the park next to the lake. I need to investigate to see if they will
let me set up a table to display and sell my book.

All  of these events are new territory for me and I’m very excited. I’ll probably be doing a report in my May blog of what worked and what did not work, so stay tuned!

Pieper_compressedGreetings from sunny–and short–springtime in central Florida! Marti Pieper here, lifting my head from my current manuscript long enough to share an insightful interview with author Lynda T. Young. Lynda not only has an interesting journey to publication but some unusual elements to her marketing strategy as well. Welcome, Lynda! Let's forge ahead with the interview. 

How did you get into writing? How many books do you have published?
What are a few of your latest titles?

I co-founded a ministry, Kindred
Spirits International, in 1999 and we
sent out a newsletter. My articles mainly dealt with children’s hospitals and
an African refugee mission. I was also volunteering at Egleston Children’s
Hospital here in Atlanta, and God laid it on my heart to write a book for
families of children with cancer. My husband had been in cancer research since

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