Thursday, August 19, 2010

Writing Opportunity

I've recently been approached to get a team of writers together for an exciting new project back by actress/author, Candace Cameron Bure.

Candace starred for eight seasons in the hit ABC television series "Full House" (still syndicated in more than 100 countries) and is now a featured cast member of ABC Family’s popular drama, "Make It or Break It." Her newest book Reshaping It All: Motivation for Spiritual and Physical Fitness is available for pre-order on Amazon (see below). Candace is also active among several charities and speaks to women nationwide about her faith. She is the mother of three children, and help-meet to her husband Valeri Bure.

We are looking for modern moms with strong values. The audience will consist of many Christian readers as well as non.

We are seeking bloggers who currently write on topics that interest women such as marriage, parenting, health, fitness, diet, organizing, reviews of interest to families, single-moms, crafting and decor, etc. Writers who hold an old-fashioned mindset, will be of particular interest to us.

If you are interested in joining our team, please visit my main webpage at Leave the URL to your website in the comment section there so that we can consider your writing.

While we appreciate all of you, we are only able to consider a handful of writers that we feel make the best fit. Those writers who do will be contacted shortly with further details.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at: darlene[at]

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Available on Amazon

I'm so excited. Our book is up at Amazon for pre-order. It's nice to finally have my name on the cover of a traditionally published book!

Candace Cameron Bure first became known to millions as a co-star on the hit ABC television series Full House. Today, like her brother Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains, Fireproof), she is the rare Hollywood actor who is outspoken about her Christian faith and how it helps overcome certain obstacles, like her struggle with food addiction.

Bure’s recent weight loss was featured in US Weekly and People magazines as well as national talk shows including The View and NBC’s Today. In Reshaping It All, she continues the story, inspiring women to embrace a healthier lifestyle by moving faith to the forefront, making wise choices, and finding their worth in the eyes of God. Candace shares a candid account of her struggle with food, and ultimately her healthy outlook on weight despite the toothpick-thin expectations of Hollywood.

More than a testimony, here is a motivational tool that will put readers on the right track and keep them there. In addition to practical advice, Candace offers a biblical perspective on appetite and self control that provides encouragement to women, guiding them toward freedom.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Hook

Candace Cameron Bure and I had been working on getting a book published for about two years already. We really believed that the writing was good, and with her celebrity status I assumed that getting a contract would be a cake walk, but after two years we realized it wasn't as easy as we had hoped. The missing ingredient: a hook.

We needed a hook for the book that made it different from all other books out there. My first reaction was, "The writing is the hook! The minute the reader opens the book, they'll see how different it is. It's inspiring, it's funny, it's just so good!" But that wasn't enough. First of all it wasn't that good, and secondly even if the writing was incredibly good we were still missing that certain something that made this book different from all the others that line the shelves.

I tried coming up with titles that might be a hook. Tried steering the writing to reach a unique audience. Tried making the book a motivational tool instead of a regular diet book... but in the end, we still lacked a viable hook.

It wasn't until we finally reached the point where we decided to make Candace the hook that the project saw the light of day. Making Candace the hook meant that I had to take a back seat to our co-authoring experience so that she could be front and center. Candace's face would be on the book. Candace would be the main ingredient of the book.

Let's face it. Other than Iris, and Paula (thanks guys) there aren't too many people in the world who really care if I lost weight or how I took it off. On the other hand there are thousands of people who are interested in how Candace stays fit and healthy, and how this mother of three still looks so good at age thirty something. By the way--happy birthday, Candace!

In the end, I'm glad that we went through this learning curve. It's been about three years now since the first draft of the book, and looking back at it, I see that it it was nowhere near ready for print. The delay gave us the needed time to write, and rewrite until we were more than satisfied with the final outcome.

B & H Publishing says the book is expected on shelves in January 2011. Some things are worth waiting--and worth striving--for!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Attention Class

I can’t promise you perfection, but one thing I will promise you is that learning grammar together will be more enjoyable than eighth grade English ever was. Unfortunately I don’t have any cute boys I can slide your desk next to, but rest assured that you’re only one click away from Bradley Cooper at all times.

Shall we get started, class? Today we’re taking on a few common grammatical errors.

Consider the following sentence:

Being a little stinker, my husband keeps an eye and a tether on Nathaniel at all times.

The sentence does make sense, because my husband is a little stinker at times, but what I’m really trying to say here is that my son, Nathaniel is the trouble maker.

In order to get my point across, I can go in one of two ways:

1. Make two separate sentences.
2. Rearrange the sentence to better illustrate my point.

My choices boil down to this:

Nathaniel is a little stinker. My husband keeps an eye and a tether on him at all times.

Being the little stinker that Nathaniel is, my husband likes to keep an eye and a tether on him at all times. (Now that’s much better!)

Of course there's always a third choice, which is adoption, but we'll save that for another day.

I have to cover this next error with you before I explode. In fact I think I just want to talk about it because it irks me so terribly much. I realize that I’m a complete nerd when I’ve gotten to the point where grammar starts to irk me, but I can’t tell you how many times I see this error, and somehow the world keeps turning regardless.

It’s the use of the word too, the word two, and the word to. Did anyone notice there are three separate words there? Now that I’m posting this I’ll probably misuse them a thousand times in the next year, but in our entire defense I’ll point out that even the most educated writers misuse them. (Covered my butt there.)

Let’s look at each one of them individually:

The word “too” is an adverb. It can be used in place of the word “also” or when describing excess.

I want my belly scratched too.
That mermaid is too large for my fish tank.

Secondly we find the word “two.” This one is easy for most of us since it simply indicates the number 2.

I have two birds named Lola.
I have two days left to finish my lunch.

The use of the word “to” is a little more complicated. It shows direction or intention, but it’s also used in other ways as well. The secret is to learn when and where to use the previous forms of the word (too and two) and you’ll start to see where this last one fits in.

I am going to rock out with my dog Elvis.
Do you know how to stop a cat from wearing your shoes?
Are you going to eat that last fish head?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Undercover Information

As I was getting this little website back up and running, I noticed that my last entry was from November 11, 2008. It is now 2010! Several months back, I got a letter from my old writing partner Stephanie who said, “Isn’t it ironic that your last post was about discipline, and you haven’t updated the website since?”

Irony: “An outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.” -

Ironic indeed! I didn’t expect to burn out when I did, but that’s exactly what happened. Christian Women Online Magazine was going so well, I was working on this website, and I was monitoring the world’s largest blogroll. I had also started a book project with actress Candace Cameron Bure (Full House). Just when things were right where I wanted them to be career wise, I got to the point where I couldn’t even look at the internet without feeling a knot tighten in my stomach. Work had consumed every minute of my thought life, and I needed time out.

While I was away, I was doing the best thing I could as far as writing is concerned. It’s the most relaxing activity I could find, and a healthy one for my mind--I was reading.

It got to the point where my husband joked that I was rotting my brain. I have purchased enough books over the past two years to stock a small library, and then some. While I was relaxing, my brain was filing away information on grammar, punctuation and sentence rhythm. It’s for this reason that I highly recommend reading for all writers. If you have writer’s block or you’re just not in the mood to put pen to paper today, grab a book on any subject and start reading.

Reading is as important as writing since it opens our ears to hear other voices. We each have a writing voice, and that voice is shaped over time by the bits and pieces we glean.

When I got the nod from B&H Publishing to start writing the book, I noticed that my voice had improved incredibly over time. It wasn’t due to the fact that I had been writing, but rather that I had been reading so much.

With that said, I’m happy to report that I’m refreshed and ready to take on the world. I’ve stepped down from the position of editor at CWO. I’ve also wrapped up my book project with actress Candace Cameron Bure, which is expected on shelves in the Fall of 2010. My intention is to focus in this little corner of the web, where I hope to give and to glean with the friends that I meet.

Let’s have some fun, and let creativity soar!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Get Your Writing R-E-A-D

In order to ensure that our writing is read-worthy, I have created the R.E.A.D. acronym, which consists of four aspects of the craft that every writer should consider and implement:

Reading · Editing · Audience · Discipline

Reading - Read your article thoroughly before your audience does.

Every article I have ever posted has been read, re-read, and read yet again--even this one. 9 times out of 10 a writing friend also reads it, before I consider it done.

Reading out loud gives our brains a different perspective, and brings our ears into the editing process as well. While reading out loud, I ensure that the rhythm of each sentence sounds right, and if it doesn't I change it.

And since we're on the topic, I also want to mention the importance of reading other works as well. It's one of the best exercises to help us develop our skill.

Edit - Have the courage to cut.

Editing isn't just about hunting for grammar and spelling mistakes, it also involves the very important task of cutting all unnecessary elements from the writing piece.

Some of the best writers I know have had to cut entire chapters from their books so don't feel robbed if you have to cut a sentence here and there. It will make for a tighter article in the end.

I was recently involved in a writing contest, in which I was confident that the second place winner had a good chance. I suspect that she might have won had the piece been cut to about half the length. It was well written, but unfortunately the unnecessary elements, bored a few of my fellow judges.

I often find that an article would read so much better if the first paragraph were cut out completely. In fact someone suggested I do that this week, and I was pleased with the end result.

I took a 1,000-word article the other day, and cut it down to 200 words for an assignment I was working on. It was a challenge, but the end result was few words that packed emotion. It's amazing what a little--or a lot--of slimming down can do.

Audience - Speak to your target audience.

When putting together a book proposal, one of the questions we answer is this, "Who is your target audience?" Should it be any different for an article of 1,000 words? Nope!

We'd all love to be everything to everybody, but the best writers know that by narrowing our focus to one specific audience we speak directly to them. In Stephen King's book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, he refers to the "ideal reader," which in his case is his wife, Tabitha. He writes with Tabitha in mind, knowing that she is the one who will laugh or cry by his words.

My audience is Stephanie. Her writing mind works much like mine does, as does her humor, and she's the one that will say, "Okay--that line made me cry." There are many days I smile while writing, thinking Steph is gonna love this line! And of course I'm thrilled when I'm right.

McDonalds doesn't provide the quiet atmosphere I look for in a fine dining establishment, nor do they prepare the finest prime rib--if any, but I do know that if I want to take the kids someplace fast and fun, McDonalds is our first choice. That's the power of reaching a target market.

Discipline - Discipline yourself to work at the craft.

I've had countless people tell me, "I'm writing a book." You might have even said that yourself, but after one year...two years...three years or more, one has to wonder--where is this book? Did I step on some toes, here?

Thinking about writing, and putting pen to paper is the difference between a dreamer and a writer.

I look at it this way - every minute that I waste watching TV or playing on facebook, some other writer is writing my book.

Maybe you're not interested in writing a book--perhaps it's short stories or articles that you'd like to get published. What are you doing to make that dream happen? As a writer we need to discipline ourselves to write, to build our profile, to make contacts, and to submit articles.

There's a lot of work to be done. And you can bet your pocket protector that those who are getting it done, stopped merely "dreaming" and started "doing" a long time ago.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Get Noticed!

I recently received a letter from a woman telling me that her friend was a very talented and inspiring writer, she said:

"I don't know where to begin helping her get her work read. I thought you would be the perfect person to ask. She isn't very internet savvy, so I am helping her in that regard. Any advice, links, contacts, etc. would be most appreciated!"

Good question! Since I AM internet savvy, the web is where I started, and I've seen that the internet has helped many other writing friends get noticed as well. In fact I'm teaching a class next May at the Northwest Christian Writer's Renewal, which teaches writers ways they can use the net to get noticed, and move their way up the publishing ladder.

I like blogging, but I do think that the majority of the time a blog goes unnoticed unless the author of that blog is involved in the blogging community. That and the blog should be kept up daily. There was a time when my little "What Would Jesus Blog" was collecting up to 85 comments/post, but I was commenting back and forth in those days. Once I got busy with CWO, my little blog on the prairie slowed down accordingly. If however, the blogger has a high profile elsewhere, such as a speaking platform, then her audience may already be built in, and the need for community online is eliminated.

Something I learned long ago is that in the two minutes a reader is on your site, you should have answered their question "What's in it for me?" Why is your writing unique, what can your writing give them that a billion other blogs out there can't? Friendship? Biblical insight? Humor?

How about a contest? Contests are a great way to draw readers to your site, and while they are there, they just might love your articles and come back!

Contests are one way of being involved in community; blogrolls are another. I host the world's largest blogroll at Christian Women Online, which includes something like 4,000 bloggers (haven't counted lately), who can all surf through each others sites and get noticed. What they can also do is request an interview so readers can further get to know them.

That's a bit about the net, but what if, like the reader above, the author isn't internet savvy, yet wants to be published? A publisher wants to know how YOU will promote your book. I haven't seen a book proposal that doesn't ask this question yet. So if you are not on the web, what can you do?

Speaking is the obvious for most of us. However as an author we would be expected to speak when promoting our book, so we need to give them a little more of a reason to publish us. Being "an award-winning" speaker, or a "frequent speaker at conventions" may give you that needed edge. That type of platform will not only get readers to notice your book, but it will also help in getting a publisher to notice you. In order to build up my speaking platform, I joined Toastmasters International. My legs are as shaky as the next person, but I'm doing it because I know it's a necessary part of being an author. And guess what? I just won my first speaking award this week! Every little step we take toward our goal adds to our resume, and brings us that much closer to a publishing contract.

If you aren't a speaker, then consider putting your writing to work by producing a "zine." A zine is like a magazine, but smaller. You can often find them at bookstores or at coffee shops, where they are free. Those are the kinds that I like, because you can produce them inexpensively, and have advertisers pay for the print run. Writers have had to get creative to get theirs noticed. I have started seeing them for seniors, parents, etc. What about for SAHM's or Christians? What about for singles?

Here's another idea, which happens to be one of my all-time fav's! Get involved in projects such as anthologies. I occasionally post opportunities here, such as Chicken Soup for the Soul. I have two friends who have been published in Chicken Soup. One is a published author; the other is a stay-at-home mom who thought she'd give it a try. Both have a great addition to their resume, which helps in getting them up the next rung of the ladder. Always keep the ladder analogy in mind--each rung gets us closer to the top!

Note: Don't hope to make big bucks in anthologies. You usually get anywhere from $25-$50 per article, maybe $100 if the publication is huge. And don't expect any pay from smaller publications such as local newspapers. Remember we're starving artists here!

I'll close with one last thought, which can double as a shameful promotion. I don't believe that an author sells books as much as a book sells an author. Once an author has a book in hand, that person can use the book to further promote themselves by sending it out for review, having online blog tours, and book signings. It also looks better if you can approach a publication with that book on your resume. So consider getting a small print run done at a place such as my husbands company There are other short-run publishers out there, but I'll let you Google those!

Print-on-demand is different from short-run. It doesn't cost the author anything, since readers order direct from the printer, it's difficult to have books on hand without spending a fortune. Without books on hand, you can't approach local bookstores, hold a book signing party or send several out for review. With short run publishing you can order 50-200 books, make a profit on the ones you sell, and get your work out there into the public eye.

There are a few ideas to get you started--just take one rung at a time. With talent, patience and creativity, we'll get to the top!