13 Simple Tips for a Better Blog

We’re not experts on blogging by any means, so we’re always looking for ways to improve what we offer you and how we serve it up. Literary agent Rachelle Gardner talked recently with an author who wanted to begin building her blog without sweating hours over it. She listed these 13 helpful pointers that can benefit bloggers anywhere. We’re going to try to apply them here.

Do you have any tried-and-true tips to share?

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Photo courtesy Salvatore Vuono, FreeDigitalPhotos

Why write for children?

Many people think that writing for children is easier than writing for adults; anyone can do it!

It’s true that children’s books are shorter and less complex than books for adults. But it’s a mistake to think of them as a “soft option.”

“Don’t write for children unless you must!” says children’s author Joan Aiken. “You should enter this field only because you have a strong urge to tell the kind of story which you think children will enjoy; preferably, because there is some particular story which is clamoring to be let out of your mind.”

So why do you want to write for children? And why do I think it is something that writers should seriously consider?

Here are some reasons to think about:

●  God has given us the responsibility of caring for children and teaching them about him. Jesus loved children and paid attention to them.

●  You have a real love and heart-concern for children.

●  You want to extend children’s horizons, feed their imagination and help them grow in understanding. Children are open- minded, ready and willing to explore, grow, be stretched. Everything around them, material and spiritual, is exciting and full of possibilities.

●  You have something important to share. The best writers retain their sense of childhood. They have kept a kind of awe, curiosity, and innocence. In their writing they explore who they were, are, might be. They step back, in a sense, to that time or that part of them when all things were possible, or where they need to re-explore and struggle with particular issues and ideas. Maybe your own childhood experiences are still fresh in your mind.

●  You want to entertain children and amuse them.

●  You would like to give them security, with a clear framework of right and wrong.

●  You want to write a children’s story because that is the best possible vehicle for what you have to say.

We need to be clear about our motives. A children’s writer has a special responsibility. Only a limited number of books can be read in childhood—yours may be the first. If it’s a good experience, it will lead to many more.

Children are important. They are the future. We can reshape our society through what we teach children and the way we influence them. The task is urgent.

This article was excerpted from MAI’s booklet, Effective Story Writing for Children, by Pat Alexander and Larry Brook. The booklet offers several practical tips for mastering the important craft of children’s writing. Check out resources on writing and publishing on MAI’s website.

Top photo courtesy freedigitalphotos.net
Bottom photo courtesy stock.xchng

Wrinkle-free fundraising

Do you dream of attending LittWorld 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya, but can’t fathom how  to afford the airfare? Or, if you had spare cash, would you donate to help purchase airfare for a talented writer or publisher who lives in a region where an airfare ticket might cost more than his or her annual salary? Sometimes it just takes a little vision and creativity to raise funds.

Tony  Wales, MAI board member in Oxford, England, put both his hands to work, literally, to raise funds for MAI. The international publishing consultant placed notices  around his neighborhood for ironing services. The response was huge.

“I am still at my ironing board and am now well over £300 sterling and counting,” Tony reports. He projects his “Kingdom ironing” will ultimately raise more than $700 USD by the time he stops in a few weeks to celebrate his 40th wedding anniversary. Go, Tony!

Have you done any creative fundraising? Share your ideas here and inspire friends around the globe.

This article was first published in MAI’s Words for the World e-newsletter, August 8, 2012.

Loving Criticism in the Christian Writer Group

The critical reading of members’ work-in-progress is a popular item on many [writer group] programs. The purpose is to help every participant to become a better writer. Of course we all want praise, but praise alone is not enough. Even the most successful writer needs constructive criticism. An effective critique demands the loving commitment of everyone in the group to help the others achieve their full potential.

-Some groups set a theme to trigger original writing.

-Others find it more valuable to bring their work-in-progress.

-There is less value in offering constructive criticism about work already published.

-The manuscript session needs firm chairing. This need not be done by the group leader. It could be the responsibility of another member, or be rotated.

-The best in-depth response comes when copies are circulated in advance, but that takes considerable organization and expense. The next best thing is for those who can to bring spare copies. This produces a deeper level of feedback than just hearing work read aloud.

-Resist the temptation to explain the work. It should speak for itself. A brief sentence: “This is from a children’s novel“, or “These are Bible-reading notes“ is enough.

-It may be necessary to set a time limit for longer works.

-It helps to read a poem twice. The second reading could be made by someone else.

-If the others make notes during the reading, it deepens the quality of response.

-The whole group should be involved. Some members contribute their opinions freely and fluently, while others hang back and need to be encouraged. For the best results, the chair of the manuscript session will invite everyone to contribute a response, with a time limit if necessary.

-It saves time if the writer stays silent until everyone else has spoken. Make notes of points that need answering and give any clarification at the end.

Do you have any related experiences others can learn from? Leave us a comment, please.

This article was excerpted from MAI’s booklet, Creating a Christian Writer Group, by Fay Sampson. It gives all kinds of tips and parameters for those hoping to form a new group or grow an existing one. You’ll find this booklet and other resources for writing and publishing are available on MAI’s website.

Photo above courtesy freedigitalphotos.net

 

A Fellowship of Friends: The Christian Writer Group

Writing is, for most people, a solitary occupation. Those who don’t write often misunderstand the difficulty of capturing on the page that first shining vision, the hard work, the dedication of time and mind-space, the belief that this is service to God and not just self-indulgence, the pain of rejection, the thrill of acceptance, the small rewards and the toughness of the competition, the fear even for experienced writers that the next piece will not be good enough, and the moments of delight when the words sing from the page.

It is a joy to get together occasionally with other writers who understand these things, who support us when the going is rough and rejoice with us unselfishly when we succeed. It’s an opportunity, too, for sharing information about new openings for writing, for pooling expertise and raising our personal standards of excellence for the glory of God. In a small group, individual questions and needs can be met in detail. A writer group is a fellowship of friends who sustain each other through prayer and companionship.

National groups and conferences can provide events with top-class speakers, valuable publications, and a network of advisers. But this cannot achieve all that is possible for a group of companions who meet regularly, who know each other personally, who can track the ups and downs of each other’s pilgrimage and offer their care and prayer.

This article was excerpted from MAI’s booklet, Creating a Christian Writer Group, by Fay Sampson. It gives all kinds of tips and parameters for those hoping to form a new group or grow an existing one. You’ll find this booklet and other resources for writing and publishing are available on MAI’s website.

Photo above courtesy: stock.xchng