Friday, February 28, 2014

A new direction?

From the “Be careful what you pray for — you just might get it” department:
I believe that God is calling me to write a book. No — seriously.

How do I know that this came from God? Because it was something I never envisioned. Though I dabbled in poetry as a teen and wrote song lyrics in my 20s, I consider myself primarily an essayist and have worked for nearly 16 years as a professional journalist.

However, at the end of last year I began praying, and asked other people to pray, that I might find more and better opportunities to write; naturally, I thought that would mean writing for magazines. Besides, many, if not most, writers that I know are working on books and I didn’t want to add to the glut.

So what caused the inspiration? Picking up a book at a conference in February and realizing, This guy is talking about some of the things I’ve been concerned about for years. Maybe I can add to the conversation.
So far, after about two weeks of work, I have about four pages of notes. I’ve never done this before, so I’m learning as I go.

And that may be the point.

From what little I know about book-writing, it calls for far more commitment than the essays, feature pieces and hard-news articles that have heretofore been my bread-and-butter. If I do embark on this, I will need to find a way to get to the word processor on a more consistent basis, perhaps every day.
Though many people have told me that I’m a talented writer — one of my college professors, upon my saying to her that it might take me 10 years to become established, responded, “It won’t take you that long” — I still will need to put in the work on this project. As Thomas Edison said, “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.” Fortunately, I know people who have done this and will help me get rolling — another reason to come to conference in June.

Will I get it finished? Will it be published? Will it sell? Only God knows.

If you’re wondering, I do have a topic and even a working title; however, that’s not important. What’s important is that writing becomes as much about who I am as what I do. It could be that, once I get started, I’ll be able to hone my craft — and, in the process, improve what I’m already doing and get to where I want to go.

Rick Nowlin

Friday, February 21, 2014

I Want To Be A Writer

I want to be a writer.

Those words change life as we know it, especially once you realize that the essence of writing is more than simply coming up with a great idea. It’s researching and brainstorming, reading and studying, editing and revising, building a platform and networking.

Once that truth sets in, the question that inevitably follows is this: Where do I start? You start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. I admit I love that memorable line from the classic movie The Sound of Music, and every time I listen to Julie Andrews sing it, I can’t help but sing along. If only following her advice were as simple and fun as singing the song.

Most new writers are so excited about the prospect of writing the great American novel that they want to skip the prerequisites. I remember thinking I could. I was an English major in college, had been teaching writing and literary analysis for years, what more could I possibly need to know? As it turned out, quite a bit. The more I delved into the writing world, the more I realized I had to learn. The fact is, I’m still learning.

The naked truth is that there is no shortcut to writing well. Stephen King, in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, says it this way: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I'm aware of, no shortcut.”

Writing a lot means making a commitment every day to get something on the page. Understand and accept in advance that much of what goes on that page will have to be revised and rewritten numerous times, but don’t give up. Remember that writing in spite of the obstacles is vital to becoming a good writer.

Reading a lot requires more than a proclivity for speed reading. It requires careful study of the books fundamental to your craft. Read books by various authors in your genre. Study and dissect them. Make notes on sentence structure, word choice, and descriptive language. Analyze how the authors develop mood, tone, character, and plot then apply what you learn to your own work.

Purchase instructional books on the writing craft. (See the many options in our bookstore.) Highlight them, dog-ear them, and make notes in the margins. Complete their sample exercises and practice their techniques until your work transforms from cautious imitation to confident creation. 

Another key ingredient to learning to write well is to talk with other writers. Find a writers group in your area, research online options, or make plans to attend a writers’ conference. The St. Davids conference runs from June 17-21—just over 100 days away—and registration begins in March. We have a limited number of scholarships available and offer a significant discount for those who register by May 10. Explore our Web site and see all the opportunities we have to offer then come join us for a week you’ll never forget. 

The writing life is a journey. If you’re ready to take your first step, try St. Davids. It’s a very good place to start.

Vickie Price Taylor has a bachelor’s degree in English Education and has spent the better part of the last decade sharing her passion for writing with high school students. A lover of fiction, she is most often either reading a good book or working on writing one of her own. Her stories have earned finalist positions in both the 2007 Molly Contest and the 2011TARA Contest. She currently serves as director of the St. Davids Christian Writers Conference. When she’s not hanging out with her family or jogging the trails in her home state of West Virginia, you can find her on her blog at

Friday, February 14, 2014

2014 Writers' Workshops this June

It's Valentine's day and we've got a sweet treat for you!

The class list is now posted over on the website for the 2014 Saint Davids Christian Writers Conference. 

We've got a little bit of something for everyone lined up this year. As you may have read from a previous post, our faculty line up, the class list filled with some great opportunities for writers to improve in many areas of your writing no matter what stage you are currently in. 


Participating in the Poem

Writing for Children

Writing for Young Children: Tapping into Your Inner Child 
Using Knowledge of Child Development to Write for Young Children
Putting it all Together: Prioritizing, Collaborating, and Publishing

Writing Life 

Why You Should Hire an Agent 
How to Get Published
The Writing Life

Craft of Writing

Proposals that Pop
Be Your Own Best Editor
Make Money Writing for Specialty Markets

Non-Fiction Writing

Article Writing: Beyond the Basics
The Art of Interviewing and Shaping Articles from Interviews
Research Techniques for Both Fiction and Nonfiction
Writing Curriculum

Fiction Writing

Concept to Synopsis and Proposal
From Synopsis to Plot 

Marketing and Platform

Marketing and Platform: Turning These Twin Dreads into Your Biggest Assets
Taking Advantage of the e-Book Trend

Many of the classes listed above are continueing workshops. To find out more about these classes hop over to our workshop description page on our site. 

We'll have a schedule posted shortly and registration will open come mid-March. 

Which classes do you think you'll take? 
Which ones sound interesting? 


Friday, February 7, 2014

Is Your Romance One for the Books?

When I met my husband in the summer of 1998, it was an internet affair. My husband was a guy I met online and chatted with through email and messenger late into the night, while I was in college. 

At first, when I’d tell folks about how I met the love of my life, they’d give me this odd quizzical look. Today, internet dating has become so common that it’s no longer odd, but fascinating. Unfortunately, not all internet relationships end up one for the books. 


And after all this time, I still get that tingle right down to my toes when he comes into the kitchen after a long day at work and looks at me like I’m the best thing that’s happened to him all day. 

Have you ever had that feeling? You know the one I just described? It’s hard sometimes to put into words what we feel. Yet, when it’s there, it can pull every heart string and cause a few tears. Now, that is one for the books. 

They say that every great romance has a formula… Boy meets girl, they fall in love, something happens that they can’t be together, and then Boy puts on his shining armor and slays the dreadful dragon keeping them apart. They live happily ever after.
But that’s only in fairytales, right? 

Have you read a great romance lately? Not one of them is ever the same. Okay, well they all may be Boy meets girl, fall in love, jump a hurdle and get hitched at the end, but the characters and the settings can warm your heart and introduce you to people you would never meet otherwise. 

Like my husband on the internet, opening a book is like adding a new friend online and learning about their life. Only, except in short tweets or post, the life of a character is an open book. 

I suppose for me, the formula for romance is more of a recipe. As a writer, I have this bad habit of allowing my characters to take me on an adventure. I laugh with them, cry with them, and I’m right there alongside them as they fall in love. 
It’s a scary thing, this love formula business. Beyond the chocolates and flowers, none have been able to bottle and sell a true love potion. Yes, cupid is safe for another round of heart point arrows. 

There is a scene in every love story where the girl realizes she’s in love with the guy. Of course, she denies it at first, make excuses that it could be anything but love. Then her heart betrays her true feelings. 

In Jodi Hedlund’s book The Preacher’s Bride there is a great example of this:

“Methinks Sister Whitbread speaks rightly.” John’s voice startled them. 
Mary stood up and smiled in the direction of her father. 
Elizabeth’s insides fluttered as she raised herself off the floor and turned to face John. She didn’t see him oft these days, but when she did, her heart did strange things.

If I were to write a book about my own romance, the moment of realization would have gone something like this: 

Chad took Susan’s hand as they walked along in the darkness on this Halloween night. Younger siblings and friends ran ahead to the next house with barren bags for the filling. 
Warmth spread up her palm and Susan leaned into Chad. In her heart, it was like they’d known each other forever rather than a few months. How could this be anything but love? 

Is your romance one for the books? If so, how would your moment of realizing you were in love be recorded? Feel free to share it below. 


Romantic at heart, this crafty mom has written over a hundred articles for venues such as Helium, Triod, ezines, newspapers, and most recently The Mother's Heart Magazine. She is the treasurer of the Saint Davids Christian Writers Association and director of the West Branch Christian Writer's one day conference.  When Susan isn't writing, she enjoys crafting, visiting friends, and a good cup of tea. You can visit her at