Friday, September 25, 2015

A Word to Change the World

At the September Wordsowers meeting speaker/author Karen Watson enthralled us with her powerful presentation, "The Value of your Testimony."

In it she asked, "If you could change the world with one WORD, what would it be?

So at the risk of sounding unprofessional, today we're laying it on the line.

Yes, our goal here at Wordsowers Christian Writers Group is to help authors grow.

But the heart of our mission is sharing the Lord's goodness, power, and love.

Our writers do that in a variety of ways. Some are direct, like our devotional writers. Others are subtle.

 Bottom line: Here at Wordsowers we strive to use our writing gifts for the Lord's purposes.

Today's post was originally slated to introduce the 1/2 price special we'll run for our Wordsowers April 2016 conference.

Instead, we'd like to point to another writers group with the same heart for the Lord, The Heart of America Christian Writers Network--HACWN.

And rather than promoting our conference, we're promoting theirs.

The HACWN conference runs October 22-24th, 2015. And they're offering $100 off the registration.

Some of our writers attend the HACWN conference yearly.

Last year best-selling Cecil Murphey sponsored me to attend for the first time.

The conference amazed me. 
They presented a treasure trove of information on writing, publishing, platform building, and a myriad of related topics.

In the midst of professionalism, camaraderie flowed.

I felt the same underlying purpose from every publisher, editor, author, and agent I spoke with.

They all had a greater goal than simply promoting themselves or their publications.
They wanted to share the Lord's love with a hungry, hurting world.

Photo courtesy of artur84

Back to Karen Watson's question, "If you could change the world with one WORD, what would it be?

Let's meet at the HACWN conference and learn how to share that WORD with the world.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Wordsowers 2016 Conference

Mark your calendars for the next
Wordsowers Christian Writers Conference.

We're honored to welcome

Focus on the Family's
Troy Griepentrog as this year's keynote speaker.

Troy is an editor at Focus on the Family’s Thriving Family magazine and

Please join us April 29-30, 2016
Bellevue, Nebraska

Watch for details.

Photo courtesy of author Angela D. Meyer

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Platform building includes meeting people face to face instead of simply on Facebook.
So earlier this year I slithered from the confines of my office and emerged into the real world. AKA, the one I don't create on my computer.

Along with 100 other authors, I'd signed up for the Omaha Public Library's Author Fair.

On the way there I pictured writers bashing each other in an All Star Wrestling free-for-all to snag readers. 

Instead I met fabulous people and learned from their techniques.

Rather than a cage match slam-down, I found a tag-team situation...with everyone on the same team.

Angela D. Meyer, Where Hope Starts author, helped me arrange my table area. 

By "helped" I mean she reconfigured my haphazard pile of books, sign-up sheets, and related items into an attractive, cohesive display.

I learned: Eliminate my bulky book stand and work my items into a semi-circular shape to make the most of limited space. 

Lee Warren spent the afternoon sharing tips he'd learned in his years as a multi-published author and editor.

I learned: Offer an incentive to invite people who are interested in my message to sign up for my blog or newsletter. Collecting a long list of address from people who'll never open my emails is counterproductive.


Author Brook Williams wore a T-shirt displaying a link to her website and the cover of her newest book, Accept This Dandelion

I emailed her later to admit, "Oh my goodness. I just now realized you're the one who wrote, Right Place, Wrong Time."

I learned: Promote your book in unique ways.

Jennifer Slattery lured people to her table with snack-sized chocolate bars. People took the bait and signed up for her blog. 

But Jennifer had bigger fish to fry. 

She shared about Taking' it to the Streets ministry, serving the unemployed and underemployed. 

I learned: Use your platform to help others.

After enjoying Kim Stokely's novel, 
Winter Trees, I couldn't wait to read Woman Of Flames. 

Clever Kim used a tall pole stand to display her book banners.

I learned: Buy poles and banners at places like Vistaprint. Check the pole's weight, and also see if they're collapsible for airplane travel.

It's a family affair, as Kim's niece, Rebecca Grous  brought her own novel The Determining.

Rebecca said she's uncomfortable with public acclaim. She'd rather remain in the background than the limelight.

I learned: Push past reticence to come out of my comfort zone. 

What about meeting the public? Isn't that why I went? 

  • I connected with readers.  
  • People signed up for my blog.
  • I had a great time chatting with a multitude of folks.
What about you?

You're the main event in your own Author-mania ring. 

Is something holding you on the ropes? Are you feeling frustrated, ready to tap out?

Don't give up. Push past those barriers, 
and emerge a champion.

We'll cheer you on with more enthusiasm than Hulk Hogan making a come-back.

Is your writing stuck in a hammer lock? Our free monthly newsletter will get it off the mat. Sign up is easy--the button is on the right side of this page, near the top.

Jeanie Jacobson is on the leadership team of Wordsowers Christian Writers Group in Omaha, NE. She's published in six Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and a Bethany House compilation. Jeanie teaches a workshop geared toward helping new writers, and is working on a Christian-slanted YA fantasy novel. Connect with her at


Monday, June 22, 2015

2015 Wordsowers Conference Slideshow

You've been patiently waiting and here it is.

If you missed this year, 
be sure and bookmark April of 2016. 

Sign up for our newsletter so you 
get all the details as they are announced!

Friday, May 22, 2015

2015 Wordsowers monthly meetings

2015 Wordsowers Monthly Meetings

We meet the LAST Thursday of the month from 6:00-7:45 PM at the Swanson library, 9101 W. Dodge Rd., Omaha, NE


Ready to enhance your writing career, or get it started? Join us for the Wordsowers monthly meetings.  

May 28th: Breaking into Chicken Soup, author Jeanie Jacobson. Chicken Soup for the Soul is a wildly popular franchise. Six-time "Souper" Jeanie reveals the elements necessary to help your submission stand out against thousands of others.

June 25th: Platform Building, author Jennifer Slattery. Jennifer shares strategies gleaned from her work as a freelance editor and publicist. From old-school to online to connecting with readers, Jennifer outlines steps geared toward building your writing career.

July 30th: Setting the scene: Bringing your fictional world to life, author Kim Stokely. Utilizing fiction elements makes writing shine, regardless of genre. Kim, prolific in both the fiction and non-fiction arenas, dishes out advice useful for any writer seeking to enliven their work.


August 27th: Introduction to, photographer Pasquale Mingarelli. Top bloggers insist on Visual Verse of the Day creator, Pasquale, created his site without technical know-how and quickly gained over 7000 visitors. Learn how to use this powerful tool as a blogging platform or content management system to increase your reach.

September 24th: The value of your testimony, author Karen Watson. Writing impacts the lives of readers. Author and speaker Karen Watson focuses this session on helping others see value in your ministry. Learn to use your writing so that lives are changed and people become eager to cash-in all for a relationship with God.

 Oct. 29th: How to get and conduct radio and TV interviews, author Brooke Williams. Authors, do you want local publicity? Tune in to Brooke's presentation. This former radio announcer, producer and script writer's expertise might be just what you need to get into the limelight.

Nov 19th: Wordsowers Q & A.
(Usual date shifted due to the Thanksgiving holiday)
Have questions? We just may have answers you need. Whether it's information on the craft, industry terms, or how to get started, bring your questions to this informal open forum.

December-No meeting. Take time to enjoy the holidays with your loved ones.

We meet the LAST Thursday of the month from 6:00-7:45 PM at the Swanson library, 9101 W. Dodge Rd., Omaha, NE 

After-Glo session directly following. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

5 Basics for a Winning Author Website

Think of your website as your home on the web. Where you invite guests to come hang out with you a while. Just like you would prepare for guests to come to your physical address, you need to prepare to have them visit you online.

You want your guests to be comfortable staying around awhile, you want them to come back and you want them to bring their friends. In order to create such a place, your website should be inviting, easy to navigate and full of the kind of good stuff they will enjoy.

There are a lot of neat add ons you can have on your website, but there are 5 basic things everyone needs to incorporate into their plan for a winning author website.

A Professional appearance.
Take a look at the business websites out there. Stroll through their pages and get a feel for what it looks like. Generally speaking, they will be uncluttered with plenty of whitespace. Don’t add too much color. Keep the font simple – don’t go crazy with this, even if it is fun.

When there is too much busyness, it is hard to know where to go on a website to find what you need. And it can simply give you a headache.

Create an awesome about page: not just about who you are, but what can they expect on your website.

There needs to be blogging activity on your site. Not just quantity, but quality content.  This is generally where people will find the good stuff they like. The stuff they want to hang out a bit to consume.

Tools: (free) website building: Blogger, Weebly, Wordpress 

Quality images/graphics.
Every image should be sharp and clear. Your author picture needs to be professional quality. Having an image in each post creates visual interest. And according to Buffer, ( visual content is more than 40 times more likely to be shared.

My pick where to find images: 
Photo Editing: Canva

Newsletter sign up form
The best thing you can do for yourself is to start collecting emails of those people interested in what you write! When they give you their email, they are giving you permission to contact them directly and they are more likely to buy your materials than followers on social media.

Do this through a newsletter. Offer something of value to convince them to sign up. Then when you send out your newsletter, give them valuable information and share when your books are coming out.  

Tools: Mail Chimp, Canva (see link above)

Follow buttons for all your social media profile.
Make it easy for people to find you! Put those buttons where they are easy to see.

Sharing Tools.
Make it easy for your audience to share about you and your content without leaving your website. Some of the tools available are: social share buttons, Click to Tweet, Memes (make your blog photo something people will want to share), Pin it hover buttons.

Bitly to shorten your links 
Click to Tweet : How to create 
Canva (see link above) 
Images (see links above) 

Once you have your basics in place, there will be plenty of bells and whistles to add. Look around at what other people are doing then google how to get it done. There is a tutorial for just about everything!

What tools have you found helpful on your website? 

Angela D. Meyer is the author of Where Hope Starts a finalist in the 2014 Grace awards. You can catch Angela on social media encouraging women in their faith journey. She lives in Nebraska with her family and is active in Wordsowers Christian Writers group.

Connect with Angela:

photo credit: // cooldesign

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Your Conference Questions Answered. Part 3.

Your Conference Questions Answered. Part 3.

Ø Is it necessary to format my materials when attending a conference?

If you've spent any time in our critique groups, you already know what I am going to say...


If you want that potential editor to keep reading...

 ... don't put a stumbling block in their way.

Generally editors want to see the following format:

Header: LastName/TITLE                                                                                               Page #
Your Name
City, State Zip
Rights offered
Word Count: xxx

Start here with a font of Times New Roman 12, indent of 5 points, double spaced and 1-inch (1") margins. 

If you want to be seen as a professional -- Answer this question with a resounding:


Remember, Writer's Guidelines are available online for every publication.

But Angela has saved you all the work by gathering our publisher's guidelines in one place under the One-on-One Meetings tab on the conference page.

Ø Which editors and publishers will skype into the conference?

We have a great line up ready to discuss your ideas via Skype.

All the details are available under the One-on-One Meetings tab.

Jim Watkins with
Wesleyan Publishing House

Gloria Penwell with
AMG Publishers

Shari Langton with Bible Advocate

This is your opportunity to
connect with a publisher.

Troy Gripentrog
with Focus on the Family

Rowena Kuo with Lighthouse of the Carolinas

Sign up sheets will be available in the area where lunch is served.

Time slots are limited. We highly recommend you sign up at the first opportunity.

Don't wait.  

Image courtesy of marin at

Monday, March 16, 2015

More Conference Questions Answered.

Ø Can I sell my book(s) at the conference?

Wordsowers book salesYou're welcome to bring books to sell as long as they fit CBA guidelines. You'll need to fill out the online form and send it by April 10, 2015

  • Authors are responsible for their own taxes
  • Wordsowers does NOT take a percentage of your sales

    Wordsowers book sales
  • A Reservation form MUST be submitted ahead of time. There is no charge to do this, we simply need to prepare our space and author/price tags. 

    Ø I’m a published author, do I need to attend

    Lee Warren’s “On Ramp” session on Friday

    Lee Warren author editor 

    You'll WANT to.

    Although "On Ramp" provides an excellent road-map for first-time conference attendees, this event benefits even experienced authors. 

    Lee covers a range of topics such as:
    industry terms, CBA & ABA markets, understanding editorial needs, polished proposals and query letters, making the most of appointments, and using the market guide most effectively.

    Plus, it's included in your conference package, and it leads into the "Night Owls" segment.

    Ø What is Night Owls? 

    Ever wish you could sit and chat with a publisher or editor over cookies and coffee? Here's your chance! 

    First, each workshop presenter will share what they're looking for.
    Afterward you'll have the opportunity to speak with them face to face. 
    Use those interactions to choose which sessions you'll attend the next day. Think of it as a live movie preview...with chocolate chip cookies. 

    Knowing your schedule in advance promotes a great conference experience. 

    Ø Can I still submit something for a paid critique?

    Absolutely! Submissions need to be in no later than April 10th, but the sooner the better!

    The cost is $25 for up to 2500 words. 

    Download the form and send it along with your submission to

    Use this link for articles.

    Use this link for book manuscript.

    Download the form and send it along with your submission to

    Photos courtesy of Stuart Miles

    Tuesday, March 3, 2015

    What I Need to Know About Attending a Writers Conference

    Ø What do I wear?
    2013 Wordsowers Conference 

    Come comfortable, but remember you are meeting editors and publishers. Dressy casual is suggested. (Many wear jeans with a nicer shirt/blouse.) Dress in layers for Nebraska weather. We are planning on spring, but can never predict warm or cold.

    Ø What do I need to bring?

    Most important are your business cards to exchange with authors, editors and publishers. Networking is an important piece of a writer’s conference. You can bring your laptop, but it’s not necessary. Notepads and pens will be supplied along with your conference folder.

    Ø How do I prepare to talk with an editor or publisher?
    Kat talking to editor Susan King from Upper Room 

    Attend the March 26th Wordsowers Monthly Meeting held at the Swanson Library at 90th and Dodge. The meeting room is in the basement, easiest entry from the east side of the building. Time: 6-7:45pm with an afterglow following—the place to be announced.

    For those unable to attend the March meeting:    Some writers prepare a one sheet with their information. Lee Warren, one of our local freelance editors says he prefers the writer keep their one sheet for reference and give him the opportunity to talk with you, rather than him read the one sheet. Above all, be yourself. Editors and publishers are people, too.

    Sherri Lanstong skyper
    Duane Brush Workshop Leader 
    Ø How many professional interviews are offered each individual?

    We begin with one on-site interview and one skype interview. After the first break, if there are still spots open, you can sign up for more. We want to fill the on-site and skype interview slots.
    Cheryl St John Workshop Leader 
    Tamara Clymer Workshop Leader 

    Don't Miss out 
    on a 
    great Conference. 

    Info from Kat Crawford, one of the Wordsowers Team Leaders. If you have more questions, please send emails or attend our monthly Wordsowers meeting on March 26th, 6-7:45 p.m. at the Swanson's Library, 90th and Dodge.
    Use the downstairs east entrance to find the meeting room.

    Friday, February 27, 2015

    Michael Hyatt

    Writing a book before creating a platform is like cooking a banquet before we've created a guest list.
    Photo courtesy of tiramisustudio

    We prepare the feast, throw open the doors to welcome everyone in, but nobody's there.
    We call into the void, "This is delicious. Come try a bite." 
    Silence answers.

    It's the same with growing a following.
    First we create a platform, then we can share the this case, our work.

    But how do we get our message heard in the midst of so many others?

    Michael Hyatt

    Micheal Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, addresses that in his book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.
    His statistics are so impressive they'd make Babe Ruth hang his head in shame. If he were still alive.
    Michael's stats include
    • One of the top three business blogs on the Internet with 
    • 300,000+ monthly visitors and
    • 70,000 subscribers
    • 145,000 Twitter followers 
    • 21,000 Facebook fans
    • A weekly podcast, This Is Your Life, consistently ranking in iTunes top ten
    • Approximately 278.4 kazillion book sale.  
    Since his platform started at zilch, it's worth listening to his wisdom.

    Disclaimer: These 5 steps are straight from Micheal Hyatt's site. I am crediting Michael Hyatt. Mr. Hyatt, please hold back your legal people. Again, this is Michael Hyatt's info. Highly abbreviated.

    1. Start with wow.
    2. Prepare to launch.
    3. Build your home base.
    4. Expand your reach.
    5. Engage your tribe.

    Obviously, he expands on and explains each step. But since I don't want his legal team stalking me, head over to one of Michael's sites to feast at his banquet. 

    Since I'm all about freebees, here's a tasty one: Sign up to get his blog posts via e-mail and receive a FREE copy of his new e-book   Shave 10 Hours off Your Workweek.

    Now on to
    Jeanie's Super-Secret Newbie No-No's
    man working laptop quiet whisper finger
    Photo courtesy of graur razvan ionut @

    To recap what we've learned so far:
    Week 1- Exclamation marks scream, "Newbie!"
    Week 2- Annihilate Adverbs.
    Week 3- Eradicate empty words. Really just skip them. I'm very serious.
    Week 4- Use "Invisible" Words: said, ask, answer, and reply.
    Week 5- Run off Run-On Sentences
    Week 6- Clear out Clichés
    Week 7- Pass on Passive Voice
    Week 8- Eliminate Empty Adjectives
    Week 9- Reduce Redundancy.

    This week- 
    There, They're, Their
    Here's one way for non-grammar nerds to subdue this potentially tricky trio.
    • "There" rhymes with "Where." Where's the dog? Over THERE.  OR Substitute "Here" for "There" and see if the sentence makes sense.
    • "They're" is two words, THEY and ARE jammed together. Am I the only one working? No, THEY'RE going to help. 
    • "Their" = Possession. The IRS (THE/IRS) thinks everything is THEIRS. THEIR bank accounts. THEIR car. THEIR houses...
    Most new writers don't realize incorrect use of these trouble triplets will send editors out of there minds. If they're is a problem with your manuscript, their is a way to fix it. They're is spell-check, but it won't help you their. Try Grammar-girl. If there busy, look at Grammarly. There always willing to help folks out they're.

    Since we all need to move forward, my Current Lofty Goal (AKA something I need to do, but want to put off) Continue rewrites of my novel's first draft.

    What challenges do you face in your writing life? We at Wordsowers want to help. Connect with us here or on our Facebook page.

    Great news: sign up for our free monthly newsletter to get help delivered straight to your inbox. It's easy--the button is on the right side of this page, near the top.

    Jeanie Jacobson is on the leadership team of Wordsowers Christian Writers Group in Omaha, NE. She's published in five Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and a Bethany House compilation. She teaches a workshop geared toward helping new writers. She's currently working on a Christian-slanted YA fantasy novel. Connect with her at