Writing Your Mission Statement

writing-mission-statement

By Cindy K. Sproles, @CindyDevoted

I recently began attending an intense writing class. It’s true that a good writer never stops learning and I want to always present my best work, so you can imagine my surprise when the first comment from the instructor was a question. What is your writing mission statement?

A mission statement was never something I considered for my writing. We have one in place for our ministry and for our conference, but a personal mission statement for my writing never occurred to me.

writing-mission-statement

It’s a nerve-racking moment when you’re put on the spot to answer a question you haven’t pondered. Amid other Christian writers, I wanted to be sure I had the spiritual aspect known, but that’s when the instructor threw me for a loop. It’s a given we are here because we want to write for God in some aspect. So, move beyond that and think deeper. There went my easy mission statement.

Taking time to compose this statement is the best writing lesson I’ve ever experienced.

What compiling a mission statement taught me:

  • To be prayerful about the work I claim to give to God – It’s easy to be a Pharisee and proudly tell the world we write for God. The question is, do we really? Do we pray over every work and ask God’s guidance or even ask if the work we are doing is within His will? It was definitely food for thought. Learning to listen to the still soft voice that guides us, leads us work that makes the perfect impact.
  • To focus my writing on a deeper personal level – Taking time to consider personal experience, more intense learning, and stepping up to the plate to improve my work. It’s easy to fall into a comfortable writing place, never challenging ourselves to take our writing to the next level. This needed to be included into my statement as a commitment to further my skills.
  • To commit to producing work daily – This is a biggy. Life happens to us all, but life at its hardest is not an excuse to stop writing. Often writers grow frustrated and feel life’s trials have grown too overwhelming. I recently spoke with a friend at a conference who’s penned over 40 books. As we talked about writing despite the things that happen, he began to tell me how he turned out three best-selling books as he walked his mother through hospice and into heaven. “Writing during Mom’s illness, drew out emotion and words, even phrases, I didn’t know I had in me. To this day, those three books are still the most remembered of my works.” Valuable insight. Keep writing, despite . . .
  • To set goals – I’ve never been a goal setter, or not one that wrote my goals down. I attended a business conference and was asked to write down my personal goals, I learned something very surprising. My personal goals were not for the business at all, they were to be a writer. I went home, spoke with my director and let her know my focus would be on writing and I would be stepping aside.That spring I attended my first writersconference. It took writing down my goals to not only visually see them, but to come to grips with what my heart’s desire truly was.
  • To remind me of the race I am called to run – I can see now, writing a mission statement not only helped me focus, but it held me accountable. Accountability is important for us in every aspect of our lives. Reading this statement daily continually reminds me of the race I run and strive to finish both in my spiritual life and relationship with Christ, but also in my earthly life.

Who would have thought composing a mission statement for my writing would be such an important facet to my career?

Take time to think through the real reasons you write. Be it to earn a living, share stories, or something you do as a sideline. Allow your statement to bring into focus the desires of your heart as a writer.

The mission statement of my writing career is multi-faceted. First and foremost, I want to be mindful of the gifts and pathway God has set in place for me. I pray I might write words that impact the lives of others. I choose to place before the Father every work I do, be it large or small, simple or complex, and that the goal remains – to always be a glory to my God. I will have an attitude of graciousness, a teachable spirit, and a heart to continue to strive to learn and challenge myself to be the best I can be in my work – for God asks me to present my best to Him. I commit to use my gifts daily, even when it is hard, knowing that God refines me through the fires which I may walk and that, with continued effort,during trials and my dependence on Him, He will fully use me to His glory. I pray He will bless my work. I am called to write, to daily seek the words God has stored in my heart, and to continually strive to complete each task and every story. And I understand that personal accolades are nice but what is most important, is that the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart are acceptable to Him. By daily striving to meet the goals of this statement, I will grow in creativity and in skill to produce excellent work, through Him who gives me strength.

Write your mission statement. Make it personal. Make it a challenge to your spiritual life as well as your professional life and then place it at the feet of Christ. You will be amazed at the ways you will grow as a writer.


Liar’s Winter

Lochiel Ogle was born with a red-wine birthmark—and it put her life in jeopardy from the moment she entered the world. Mountain folks called it “the mark of the devil,” and for all the evil that has plagued her nineteen-year existence, Lochiel is ready to believe that is true. And the evil surely took control of the mind of the boy who stole her as an infant, bringing her home for his mother to raise.Abused and abandoned by the only people she knows as family, Lochiel is rescued by a peddler and given the first glimpse of love she has ever known. The truth of her past is gradually revealed as is the fact that she is still hunted by a brother driven to see her dead. Unsure if there’s anyone she can truly trust, Lochiel is faced with a series of choices: Will she continue to run for escape or will she face her past and accept the heartbreaking secrets it reveals? Which will truly free her?

Cindy K. Sproles is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries, a best-selling author, and a speaker. She teaches nationally at writers conferences as well as mentoring new writers. Cindy serves as the managing editor of SonRise Devotionals and Straight Street Books, both imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is a contributing writer to The Write Conversation and Novel Rocket.com. You can visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com.

 

Writing – Keep on, Keeping on

writing-lessons-tips-write

by DiAnn Mills, @diannmills

Writing is a series of keep on keeping on. Our minds are geared toward the latest project while balancing social media and staying up to date on the craft and changes in the publishing industry.

We waken at 3 a.m. with a forgotten deadline looming over us like a bad case of flu. Yikes! How did I miss that! We bolt from the bed and race to our computers to confirm what we already know is true. For the next few hours until the rest of the world wakens, we’re digging ourselves out of an unfinished manuscript.

writing-lessons-tips-write

I’ve been there, and you probably have too. Our scheduled writing day now means doubling up tomorrow, and we think seriously about giving up writing and handing the task to a more capable writer.

Many of us thought writing would be free of the worries and hassles of a boss. We longed for the day when we could toss aside the need to clock in, stay late, and arrive early for a job that didn’t excite us. We craved to be a writer. But we’ve discovered numerous demands are made on our time and effort from: publishers, agents, editors, copy editors, publicists, critique partners, readers and family responsibilities. Is this worth it?

Dear writer friend, we can’t go there. Don’t even think about quitting, or I’ll be camped at your front door balancing a computer, dictionary, thesaurus, and triple espresso. Our conversation won’t be pretty. Abandoning our dreams can cast us into a pit where failures and weaklings whine and complain. Who wants easy and manageable?

essential-scenes-novel-tip

Creativity is part of our DNA. Our blood races with the joy of arranging and rearranging words. We thrive on stories that contain amazing characters, unique plots, witty dialogue, purposeful setting, deep emotion, and even editing. Our job can be strenuous, but look at the rewards of a worthwhile manuscript that touches our readers’ hearts?

If we think back to the time when writing began as a dream, the urge to communicate through the written word became so powerful we didn’t know what to do with the idea. Ignoring it made the need greater. A realization swirled deep inside us. We could no longer deny our calling as a writer.

  • We sensed the power of touching the world with our prose.
  • We drew on our passion to entertain, inspire, and encourage readers with story.
  • We found a purposein our lives, one that is richly fulfilling.

Let’s make a list of why we love writing. Use sensory perception and feel the emotions of a job well done, a job worth all the effort.

My encouragement to you is to keep on keeping on.

How do pull yourself back up when life threatens belief in yourself?


High Treason

When Saudi Prince Omar bin Talal visits Houston to seek cancer treatment for his mother, an attempt on his life puts all agencies on high alert. FBI Special Agent Kord Davidson is the lead on the prince’s protective detail because of their long-standing friendship, but he’s surprised – and none too happy – when the CIA brings one of their operatives, Monica Alden, in on the task force after the assassination attempt. Kord and Monica must quickly put aside inter-agency squabbles, however, when they learn the prince has additional motives for his visit – plans to promote stronger ties with the US and encourage economic growth and westernization in his own country. Plans that could easily incite a number of suspects both in the US and in countries hostile to Saudi Arabia. Worse yet, the would-be assassin always seems to be one step ahead of them, implicating someone close to the prince – or the investigation. But who would be willing to commit high treason, and can Kord and Monica stop them in time?

DiAnn Mills is an award winning writer who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She currently has more than fifty-five books published. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won placements through the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards and Inspirational Reader’s Choice awards. DiAnn won the Christy Award in 2010 and 2011. DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a Craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. Find her on the web at www.diannmills.com.

Realistic Dialogue is a Must

writing-dialogue-help

By Hallee Bridgeman, @halleeb

Before I started writing, I was a reader who could never stop reading a book – meaning, if I started it, no matter how much I didn’t enjoy it, I had to keep reading to the end; even if it meant that I had to skim my way through it.

That changed one day when reading some historical romance by an author I can’t remember. The book started well enough. The heroine was a widow, alone on the estate, afraid. A storm had picked up and lightning flashed in the night sky. A loud cracking sound of a door banging had her leaving the warmth and safety of her home to go out to the barn to make sure a door hadn’t blown open.

writing-dialogue-help

Okay, so we have a young woman who was afraid, and she goes to the barn and finds – a man. A stranger. (A tall, dark and handsome stranger, but I digress.)

And she’s alone. And afraid.

What do you think she does?

She doesn’t run back to her house and lock all the doors and windows and get the shotgun and make sure it’s loaded. No. She begins this long expository on the history of the area and the history of the house and how it was built by her grandfather and left to her father and left to her and her now late husband. You’re going to think I’m exaggerating with this next part, but I’m not. This dialogue took up FOUR PAGES. FOUR. It would have been agonizing to read four paragraphs, much less four pages. If I’d been that tall, dark, handsome stranger, I would have re-saddled my horse and took off back in the storm.

Now, I was a voracious reader and had read my share of not great books in my lifetime. However, this was truly the first book I ever threw across the room.

Writing good dialogue is important. Do you know why? Because the reader needs to hear the dialogue in his head. It needs to ring true to him, to sound like something people will actually say. If it doesn’t, then your book might get tossed across the room. Or, it might get deleted off of an ereader. And that reader will never come back to your books.

How do you make your dialogue realistic?

advanced-writers-toolkit

If it doesn’t sound right and normal and natural to you, then it’s not going to read normal and natural and right to your reader.

Make sure the dialogue is organic to the scene and not just used to drive the story – or to show off your research abilities. Picture the scene in your head, the movements of the characters, the lighting, the noises. Then, speak the words your character would say. Do they fit that scene? Does it make sense that your character just said that? If the answer is no, then find something else to do other than that dialogue.

If you said yes, then, wonderful! Put it in there. Continue the conversation until your characters have said exactly what they need to say before they end the conversation.

In the self-editing phase, make sure that all of the dialogue is tight and right. My number one trick to that is to read it out loud. I know it feels silly. Trust me, I’ve written 24 novels, and I’ve sat at my computer and read every single one of them out loud. The silliness doesn’t ever go away when you start with chapter 1, but by the end of the book, you’re in a flow and it feels less awkward.

What you benefit from that is the ability to hear your dialogue – and you use a different part of your brain when you hear versus when you read. So, if it sounds right to you reading it out loud, it will definitely sound right to the reader who is reading it.

Read More Writing Tips

Numbering Your Days with One Word by  Beth K. Vogt

How Christian is Your Fiction? by Dan Walsh

How to Show and When to Tell by Susan May Warren


Jade’s Match

Two Olympians are matched in a media campaign that turns into something more than a game.

Rio Games silver medalist and social media darling CORA “JADE” ANDERSON is approached by a popular cell phone company to launch a flirty but fake media campaign with ice hockey star DAVIS ELLIOTT. When things get off to a rocky start, Cora and Davis both wonder what they’ve gotten into and how they’ll get through the months until the Korean games.

It’s not long until things start to warm up between the athletes and soon this fake romance becomes something much more real. Cora knows just how to work social media and engage her fans, and as the world watches and interacts with them, their love grows. When Davis is selected for Team USA, the opposition starts. As a Korean American, he’s already facing odds Cora can never comprehend, but he takes his frustration at the racism to the ice and lets the puck take the beating.

Things come to a head just weeks before the games begin. Can Davis and Cora’s very public relationship survive the aftermath of a very public confrontation, or are they going to have to let their love go when the Olympic flame is extinguished at the closing ceremonies?

With more than half a million book sales, Hallee Bridgeman is a best-selling Christian author who writes action-packed romantic suspense focusing on realistic characters who face real world problems. Her work has been described as everything from refreshing to heart-stopping exciting and edgy.

An Army brat turned Floridian, Hallee finally settled in central Kentucky with her family so that she could enjoy the beautiful changing of the seasons. She enjoys the roller-coaster ride thrills that life with a National Guard husband, a college sophomore daughter, and two elementary aged sons delivers.

A prolific writer, when she’s not penning novels, you will find her in the kitchen, which she considers the ‘heart of the home’. Her passion for cooking spurred her to launch a whole food, real food “Parody” cookbook series. In addition to nutritious, Biblically grounded recipes, readers will find that each cookbook also confronts some controversial aspect of secular pop culture.

Hallee is a member of the Published Author Network (PAN) of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) where she serves as a long time board member in the Faith, Hope, & Love chapter. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the American Christian Writers (ACW) as well as being a member of Novelists, Inc. (NINC).

Hallee loves coffee, campy action movies, and regular date nights with her husband. Above all else, she loves God with all of her heart, soul, mind, and strength; has been redeemed by the blood of Christ; and relies on the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide her. She prays her work here on earth is a blessing to you and would love to hear from you. You find Hallee on her blog at halleebridgeman.com.

 

Maturing Writer

writing-maturing-growing

By Peter Leavell, @PeterLeavell

A few years ago, after bedtime, my daughter would wake and wander into our room. Sometimes she was scared. Or she needed a drink. As she grew, she wanted to talk about God. Other nights, life was getting her down.

At the time, I was tired. The half-awake chats were a bit frustrating. But now, I miss those days.

writing-maturing-growing

She’s matured to age 14. As I kiss her goodnight, I know she’ll probably work out her problems herself like I’ve taught her, and I’ll receive a decent night’s sleep. No more visits unless the problem is extreme.

Of course, I’ll be there for her.

In one way, I’ve worked myself out of a job. Which lends itself to a manifest of churning emotions.

Beginning writers need help. They come out of their writing caves with little idea what the world holds. They turn to those with more experience, those with who have lived more writing life.

That’s good. That’s how it’s done.

Eventually, the beginner will mature. They’ll stop paying for our classes and following our blogs. They’ll go on to create their own disciples. They’ll be contemporaries.

novelist-starter-kit

I’ve noticed some beginners who don’t go past writing childhood. Some are fearful of the next stage of maturity and remain locked in learning. Others receive terrible advice, and when followed, their growth is hampered. And some enjoy the status of the eternal beginner.

That’s okay. Our advice, as best as we can give it, is only as good as the work we’ve done—how mature we are. We keep changing. Because we keep studying. We keep learning. We continue looking for more advanced writers to feed us advice.

We’re working ourselves out of writing parenthood. But there’s so many more children to care for!

All this is terribly obvious. But I’ve two points.

  1. Keep Keep studying. Keep looking for help and keep helping.
  2. Writers are a family. Every day, we’re looking out for one another. Pssst, you used the wrong word here. Hey, you do a great job with titles. Can I get some help with something? Critics don’t get our work, so that bad review is okay. 

We care for one another!

Thanks for being part of this amazing family!

Read More Writing Tips

Sparking Emotions in Your Readers by Kathleen Freeman

5 Types of Rough Drafts by Michelle Griep

The Rhythm of Rest by Allen Arnold


Dino Hunters: Discovery in the Desert

Siblings Josh and Abby Hunter don’t believe their parents’ death was an accident. After taking pictures of the most incredible find of the 1920’s—proof humans and dinosaurs lived together in the same time and place—desperate outlaws armed with tommy guns are on their tail! Only Josh and Abby know where the proof is hidden—in the canyons of Arizona’s desert. When an intruder searches Josh and Abby’s bags inside their new home, the two convince their uncle Dr. David Hunter to return to the canyon and find the pictures they’d hidden. But the outlaws are just as eager to find the proof before Josh and Abby. Can Josh use his super-smart brain to outfox the villains in time? Will Abby’s incredible physical abilities stop full-grown men? And will their uncle believe them?
Dino Hunters is an apologetics-adventure series aimed at the middle reader to help them trust the Bible from the very first verse.

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild’s Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing’s Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. For entertainment, he reads historical books, where he finds ideas for new novels. Whenever he has a chance, he takes his wife and two homeschooled children on crazy but fun research trips. Learn more about Peter’s books, research, and family adventures at www.peterleavell.com