Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Critiques and Haters: Knowing the Difference

As you grow in your writing and publishing journey, a sad fact will eventually rear its painfully ugly head.

Not everyone loves your work.

Unthinkable, true, but still a fact of the writing career. But there really is a difference between honest critiques and haters. So, before you get too upset over your first one-star review or a heavy critique from an editor, here are a few things to consider.

  • Who is the person critiquing your story? Is he/she a professional author or editor? A professional author/editor is purely objective, knows what he/she is talking about, and generally knows how to balance criticism with praise. If you are looking for the most honest opinion, these individuals are best. And you can be pretty sure they are not out to hurt you or be cruel - they are just being honest.
  • Sometimes, super close friends or family are not the best for editing/critiquing (although there are definite exceptions!). Close family and friends tend to be either too critical or too lax - probably because they want you to succeed so much! Bear this in mind before you take severe critiquing or gushing praise too seriously.
  • If someone doesn't like something in your story because of poor grammar, cliches, childishness, or weak plots, they are right. Period. Don't be upset when someone shows you ways to make your story stronger or rid your work of cliches. Listen and learn.
  • Professionals will respect your personal style. Over-critiquing every detail of your story is a sign of an amateur. (You can tell when they start rewording things that aren't grammatically wrong or cliched - they just feel they can do it better.) Learn to recognize an amateur editor if you get one. You can still learn from them, but you do not have to take their every suggestion.
  • If a review is positive but has some open suggestions for improvement, be certain to evaluate those points and carefully consider them. The reader is being helpful, not hurtful. (I love my fans. Knowing they love my work helps me easily take their suggestions and apply them.)

Say you received your first one-star review. Why? 
  • Almost always, you will find it is because the reader bought the book with pre-conceived expectations that don't actually match up with your book's synopsis. It is not your fault that someone bought a book without reading the description.
  • Other times, someone just left a one-star review because it is in their power to do so. It gives them a feeling of power. And it's wrong.
  • Some readers critique every tiny detail of your book. They nitpick and criticize everything. I know. And, guess what? It's immature and a sign of an amateur. It's classified as being a hater. Why? Because they haven't ever written/published a book, yet consider themselves experts in nitpicking other people's work. Do not take it personal. Most of these people do it to everyone, not just you. 
  • If your reader criticizes every detail of your story and still misses the whole heart of the book, they are a hater. If they criticize your character and use hateful language towards you personally, they are a hater. Let it go and don't listen. This is internet bullying and should be discarded. And, yes, I've experienced it. Quickly let it go, seek comfort from someone who believes in you, and refuse to dwell on it anymore. Period.
I hope this is helpful to you! Never stop writing and learning.

 And, remember, for every one hater, there are probably dozens of people who loved your work and were blessed by it. It's worth it!

Question? Comments? Please share!

Alicia A. Willis is a home-school graduate, published author, and avid historian. She is a firm believer in the principle that one can accomplish anything by substantial amounts of prayer and coffee. Visit her at her blog or Facebook to view her historical-fiction novels and all the goings-on between writing!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Writing When You're Not Writing

Hi everyone! I hope you had a great Christmas. Your minds may not be tuned to the writing channel of your lives just now, but that’s okay; you can save this post for later! I’ll also try to keep it short today.

Do you ever feel guilty when you’re not writing—when you’re not able to sit down at your desk with your computer or notebook and type out the words that will inch along your work-in-progress? It’s necessary, of course, to carve out ample time to do that, but those hours when you’re not writing can be just as productive, in a different way. (On a side note, when you’re a writer, not much in your life goes to waste where it comes to your art; experiences are recyclable!) However, there are definite moments in a day when you can make progress without being parked in front of a blank page.

Just use that wonderful gift of God that travels instantaneously across time and space. Your mind is your main tool for the task of writing, after all. So, think about your story as if you were sitting down to type, whether you’re on a walk, riding in a car, waiting somewhere, or doing a relatively mindless job. Use that dead time when you’re alone or no one is talking with you and plan what you’re going to write next. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a eureka moment, gotten over a snag, or even just sketched out a character while I’ve walked dogs, painted walls, stained wood, or vacuumed. My mind traveled to my story, and when I could tap out my ideas at home, they were fully formed and dropped onto the page in a tenth of the amount of time.

For example, earlier this week I set out on a walk with nary a clue as to what I was going to write for an article … and I came up with this idea about midway. I thought it out, and writing it took me far less time than fretting it forth in front of the laptop screen. So, you see, it works!

Don't Just Stand There ... Think, Plot, Plan!
Authors have been known to mull over and plan out a whole novel before they wrote a word, and then buckled down and completed it in a few months, writing everything they imagined with little effort. Never underestimate what those hours away from your computer can produce. I would encourage you to look for those minutes in your day when you’re free to purposefully think about your story. Perhaps you can even imagine yourself typing out the words. Just make progress somehow in your mind … figuring out what comes next is more than half the battle!

During what activities can you safely and freely ponder your writing project?

Happy New Year! 

Kelsey Bryant is an author, blogger, and copy editor who loves the Lord. She revels in many things: the beauty of God's Word, the music of English, the wonder of nature, the joy of creativity, the freedom of motion, the richness of literature, the intrigue of history ... and much more. To learn more about her, visit her website or blog.  

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry CHRISTmas!

Merry Christmas from all of us here at Word Painters! 

We are so grateful for our readers. You make all the work and time that goes into the blog worth it. Thanks for reading!

God bless you as you celebrate the birth of our Savior.  He is our hope, our joy, and the real meaning of this season.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2014

My Top 10 List

I encouraged you not long ago to make a list to help some of your favorite authors. Well, I decided to follow my own advice and share my top 10 books of 2014 with you.

Would you like to read my review of the book? Click either the title, or the image. Would you like to see more books I have reviewed? Click here.

Discovering Hope
I really have grown to love this author, but his book reaffirmed my reasons for having high standards when it comes to relationships with guys. It has one of the best conversations about the physical side of relationships I think I have ever read.

The Shadow Things
This book was just wonderful in reminding of God’s Goodness in the hard times. It also is a wonderful reminder that the best is yet to come.

8. Never
It is hard to even describe this book. It had a deep and intricate plot with a message I love: Never compromise your standards.

Resistance (Ilyon Chronicles)
I don’t think it is often that a fantasy book makes it onto my top ten, but this one was a powerful story of standing up for your faith. The story was nothing short of masterful.

In His Image (Firmament, #2)
I was going through a hard time, and this story really touched me, proving once again that God uses even fiction to reach his children.

Beauty for Ashes (Love Endures)
Grace Livingston Hill has always been a favorite in our family, but it had been a long time since I had read any of her books. This story really touched my heart and reminded me that Beauty does rise from Ashes.

What Are You Afraid Of?: Facing Down Your Fears with Faith
This book was a very powerful reminder that God is stronger than any fear. Dr. David Jeremiah goes through some of the most common fears and provides biblical as well as practical advice on each.

10 Things Jesus Never Said: And Why You Should Stop Believing Them
This book was one of those books that just is a great reminder of the lies that we too often buy into about Jesus. It a was a huge encouragement to me, and a reminder to stay grounded in the Bible.

From the Dark to the Dawn: A Tale of Ancient Rome
This was the first book I read this year and I knew it would be on this list. It really encouraged me during a rough time I was going through. It is a powerful tale of faith in dark times.

A Memory Between Us (Wings of Glory, #2)

This book stuck with me like nothing else. God used this book to really convict me of some of the pride and other issues in my life. It has really stuck with me through the year and God keeps using it in my life. The story was pretty amazing as well.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Get Exposure with GoodReads Giveaways

 Greetings all, John J. Horn here.

GoodReads is a fantastic place for authors to interact with readers and get their books in front of new eyeballs.

One feature I've taken advantage of is GoodReads Giveaways.

What is GoodReads Giveaways?

Use GoodReads' platform and software to easily offer free copies of your books to readers. Just make sure that your book has a page on GoodReads, then select how long you'd like your giveaway to last and how many copies to give away.


There is no charge to run a giveaway on GoodReads. You will need to pay to mail a book to each winner, so that's one thing to think about when deciding how many copies to give away.


1. Lots of people adding your book to their to-read lists. This can significantly boost your credibility when people see hundreds of other people wanting to read your book. Each time I've run a giveaway my to-read list has increased by hundreds.

2. Significant exposure on GoodReads. Your giveaway will be listed in a section with other giveaways and thousands of people will likely see your book cover and title, if nothing else.

3. Reviews from the giveaway winners. Caveat: I don't think anyone who received one of my books via a GoodReads giveaway wrote a review. The downside to the random selection process is that there's no way to make sure that your book goes to someone in your target audience.


1. Offer autographed copies.

2. Agonize over your book description, specifically the first couple of sentences. A short paragraph is all you have to hook readers on the giveaways page. Make it sparkle.

3. Make the beginning of your book description stand out with bold text, italics, caps, or a combination thereof. You probably have less than a second to catch a potential entrant's eyes.

4. You don't need to give away many copies. I stuck with two copies of each title. If someone is going to enter they're probably not going to be turned off by a limited supply.

5. Set your giveaway length for two weeks or shorter. Two of the options to sort giveaways are by recently listed and ending soon. You should see significant engagement in the first couple days, then entries will die down as your giveaway gets buried under others. As your giveaway comes to a close you'll likely see another spike in entries.

Have fun with your giveaway!

John J. Horn is a Christian author from San Antonio, Texas. Learn more about John and his Men of Grit series and sign up for his newsletter at

Monday, December 15, 2014

5 Things to do Before You Give Up

Sometimes “The End” is just the beginning. 

When you’re self-publishing, this is especially true.

After the last words have echoed ’round your head, struck a chord in your heart, and flowed through your fingers, you rejoice in reaching a milestone. The impossible has been accomplished! “I Could Have Danced All Night” is setting the rhythm as you brush your teeth after a hard evening’s type. The first draft is finished, and you feel like You Really Are a Writer.

Then come the edits, and probably a few rounds of them. You have major work to do at beta readers’ suggestions. You wonder, “How can Chapter 10 possibly work out if I change this sequence? How can I [insert quandary] without slowing down the pace?”

Once these hurdles are in the past, the cover has to be designed, the interior formatted (see Kelsey’s great post on this here) and the whole project finished off for printing. Then you remember you’re doing the marketing too. What if nobody outside your circle of friends buys the books?

Oh, can you afford the expedited international shipping to get your own copies before Christmas?

And that’s when you start to wonder if writing should have stayed a hobby, and whether you should put the muse back in its box and work in a coffee shop until you can figure out what to do next. If that’s you, I have a few suggestions.

1) STOP! Pause your track of thought. You can’t give up simply because the going is tough. Like any activity worth doing, writing gets seriously challenging at times. This is good. It reminds us that we’re not superheroes who can do everything on our own. We need the Lord’s hand on our hand, His will in every matter, and His blessing on every endeavour. A rough road can very effectively bring our eyes back to Him. :)

2) Count your blessings. Has a particular verse been an encouragement to you lately? Has someone offered to help, or taken a kindly interest in your projects? Have you done something for another and been blessed through giving?

3) Give thanks! Gratitude is a great way to be inspired—and it’s obedience in action. (1 Thess. 5:18, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”)

4) Go ice-skating. Or take a walk when the frost glitters and leaves crackle underfoot. Fresh air and exercise can do wonders. Perhaps a break and a change of scenery will give you renewed energy, hope, and enthusiasm for the story God has given you to tell.

5) Ask for the Lord’s guidance. Are the challenges there to build character in you, or are they a signal that you should change direction? There’s only one way to find out. Pray about it and seek wise counsel. Remember, it’s all for His glory—whether you sell one thousand copies or only one to the neighbors.

These are a few ideas—I’m sure there are many more to add. What would you put down if compiling your own “Things to do Before Giving Up” list?

Happy December, and may you all have a wonderful Christmas!

  Caitlin R. Hedgcock is a Christian author who aspires to use storytelling for God’s glory. She lives with her family in England's picturesque county of Hertfordshire. Visit her blog or Facebook page to find out more.

P.S. Prisoner of the Pyrenees is finished! Click here for quotes I couldn't wait to share. :)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Formatting a Book

Hello again! This is Kelsey. I hope you’re staying warm. Some of us are knee-deep in snow, while others only have to put on a light coat before venturing outside … I’m part of the latter group, and I’d like to keep it that way this winter! But wherever you are, hopefully you’re having cozy opportunities to curl up somewhere with your writing materials.

I’m in the process of formatting my novel for CreateSpace (the self-publishing arm of Amazon—it’s a very straightforward way of publishing your own book; you don’t even have to pay unless you’re purchasing a service, like editing or interior formatting). Some people like to delegate the formatting of a book, but you can do it yourself. Even if you’re not going to format for publishing, you may get a thrill from clothing your story in the guise of a printed book, just for fun. If so, I hope you find these tips for a professional look to be helpful!

Note: This is not a tutorial with detailed instructions, because writing programs differ. I use OpenOffice, so I couldn’t explain how to set up your document in Microsoft Word, for example. This is more of a check-list for making sure your book looks right!
  • Set up your document so that the pages mirror each other. Where they touch is the spine, so you should have a wider margin there and a smaller margin on the edges of the pages. (CreateSpace has templates you can download.) 

  • Analyze several traditionally published novels and note what seems standard and what details are variable.

  • Make your first page on the right. This is the half-title page, or it could be the title page. Half-title pages contain the title alone; title pages contain, in addition to the title, any subtitle, the author’s name, the series name, etc. The title page is also always a recto page (recto means “right”). 
Half-title page

Title page

  • Start the text of the story on a recto page, on an odd page number. (By the way, left-hand pages are called verso—think “reverse side.”)

  • “Justify” your text, which means all the lines of words are aligned with, or touch, the left and right margins. This gives a clean look to the page that makes it easier to read. However, the first line of a paragraph should be indented, and the last line does not need to touch the right margin.

  • Do not indent the first paragraph of a chapter or after a section break. (I wasn’t aware of this rule for my first book, so I found special satisfaction in using it for my second!)

No indentation for first paragraph; justified text; no page number or header

page number and header

  • Make sure the bottom line of each page is even with the bottom line of every other page.

  • When you put in page numbers, make sure no numbers are printed on the title pages, copyright page, dedication page, and other pages that don’t contribute to the story.

  • The same goes for “running heads,” which are the line of text above the story. They could state the book title, or the author’s name, or the series title. But whatever they say, make sure they only start with the story. The first page of each chapter should not have a header, and it should only have a page number if the number is on the bottom.

If this seems overwhelming, don’t worry—take these tips one step at a time, and you’ll have quite the respectable-looking book! Tutorials that can help you set up your document are available online for the particular program you’re working with.

I didn’t want this list to get too long, and, also, I'm still learning myself, so there’s probably something I missed … if you have any ideas or questions, feel free to comment!

Kelsey Bryant is an author, blogger, and copy editor who loves the Lord. She revels in many things: the beauty of God's Word, the music of English, the wonder of nature, the joy of creativity, the freedom of motion, the richness of literature, the intrigue of history ... and much more. To learn more about her, visit her website or blog

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Two Teeny Tidbits...

I am sharing two, teeny tidbits with you today!

And, I'm not Tiny Tim.

Anyway, for those of you who have not yet seen the cover for Rising to the Challenge (The Comrades of Honor Series #3), here it is!

And, for those of you who may not follow me on social media or my newsletter, here is a special Christmas present for you! Download my short story for FREE!

War has taken everything from Vincent Clement. Embittered, he wants nothing more than to destroy the Nazis. Or does he? Based on an actual WWII story.

Download HERE. Enjoy!

Alicia A. Willis is a home-school graduate, published author, and avid historian. She is a firm believer in the principle that one can accomplish anything by substantial amounts of prayer and coffee. Visit her at her blog or Facebook to view her historical-fiction novels and all the goings-on between writing!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Making a List

Christmas time is a time for making lists. Shopping lists, gift lists, and party lists. How about making a list that gives back? Interested? Good, because today, I want to share some list ideas that give back something to the authors that have blessed you.

Top Ten List. Every year, I make a list of my top ten favorite books of the year with links where you can buy the books. This kind of list is fun to put together and exciting for authors to see their books on.

Gift Guides. Do you have some books you think would make great gifts? Making lists of great gifts for kids, parents, or friends is a great way to help your friends who aren’t sure what to buy for someone.

All-time Favorites. You know those books you have read more than once because they are so good? Make a list of those and share it. People are waiting to hear it.

Vote on Goodreads lists. These lists are already made (click her for an example) and the higher a book is on the list, the more likely someone is to be interested in it. So help your favorite books get exposure.

So, what are you waiting for? Go start making lists.

Sarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings, and author of five published books and counting. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Story to Share or Truth to Teach -- Guest Post

Today, we are happy to welcome a guest to the blog. Amanda Tero submitted the following post to Word Painters for publication.  Enjoy!

A Story to Share or Truth to Teach?
 Amanda Tero

I challenge you to read the title of this article again and think about it for ten seconds.

As a Christian writer, what is your goal in writing? Do you simply want to share good stories? or do you want to impart to your readers truth?

Many young Christian writers admit that they do not just want to write the moral stories they find themselves churning out, but they want to share God's truth. But many of them are clueless in how to do this. And they surely do not want to sound like those stiff books in which all of the characters are well-behaved, memorizing hundreds of verses a day, mourning over an ounce of sin, and living an impossibly perfect life (okay, so perhaps that is an exaggeration).

As I pondered this situation, I realized something: how can we write good, solid Christian books if we are not striving to live a good, solid Christian life? How can we impart to our readers truths from God's Word if we do not even know what these truths are?

So often, we get so wrapped up in the writing process that we neglect our writing purpose. To write Christian stories, we must be grounded in God's Word. This does not mean to merely look up a few verses if your character is learning about forgiveness. What does your daily devotion life looks like? Are you actively reading, memorizing, studying, and learning from God's Word?

In writing, does your plot detract from the message? Is there an element in the story that pulls your reader's attention away from Christ and places it on something that is but to fade away? Is your message clear? or will your writer come away with, "Well ... she quoted a lot of Bible verses..."? You do not have to strive for some big, theological truth. What lessons has God taught you? Those are important lessons too that you can share with others.

As you ponder these questions, I encourage you to pray for God's direction in your writing. What truths would He have you to teach? Which Scriptures would He have you to use? May He lead you as you seek Him and may all of your writing bring glory to His Name!

Extra: Many novels are written today under the name "Christian," but if God is only mentioned once or twice and prayed to only during troubles, can it really qualify for a "Christian" book?

Thank you for sharing, Amanda!