Monday, March 28, 2011

The Christian Writers Guild - Plus A PARTY!!!!!!!!

Oh there are three top things I LOVE about The Writers Alley.

       1. The Fabulous Alley Cats that make up our group - and encouragement I receive from each one.

      2. The tips and advice that I desperately need to learn

3.       The fact that they all like to PARTY!!!

Oh yes, ladies and gents, it’s our 300 subscriber party and we have two glorious weeks of prizes for you. We’ll keep giving you the writing tips, triumphs, and trials, but let’s throw in a bit of chocolate and a few lovely prizes to celebrate our 300 Alley Pals who visit us.

So - stop by EVERY  WEEKDAY for your opportunity to win. Winners will be listed on our Saturday post!
What’s on the prize rack for today?

Leave a comment with your email address and three commenters will win one of three books:

1.       Robin Lee Hatcher’s fabulous book A Matter of Character

2.       Henry McLaughlin’s debut novel Journey to Riverbend

3.       Patti Lacy’s gripping women’s fiction novel The Rhythm of Secrets
Okay – so what terrific tips do I have for you today? Let’s chat about writing education, shall we?

At some point or other, we come to the realization that we don’t know everything.

Shocker, I know. In fact, when I made this startling revelation at 10 years old, I had to double check just to make sure someone ELSE wasn’t wrong. (Boys usually don’t come to this realization until way past 20, if ever. ;-) Of course, I did go through a period of temporary amnesia between the ages of 14-19, but I was duly humbled back into humanity when I got married. For some reason, my husband didn’t think I knew everything either? Go figure.
As writers, there are many opportunities to learn and grow. Writing technique books, video series, online and offline courses, workshops…you name it. Some are more intensive than others. Some are more expensive than others.

I’m going to give you the spiel on the Jerry B. Jenkins’ Christian Writers Guild. Especially since we have CWG’s Operation First Novel contest winner a GIVEAWAY for today. Henry McLaughlin’s novel won Operation First Novel in 2009 and now he has the wonderful opportunity to see his book in print.

From August 2009-May 2010, I enrolled in the Journeyman course, which took me through various degrees of writing techniques, layering, rewrites, and lessons.

There are three basic CWG courses.

1.       Apprentice

2.       Journeyman

3.       Craftsman

Each increase in their expectations, mentoring, and learning curve.
For all of them, you are assigned a mentor who will be your contact person for that year.

During the Apprentice course – you’re learning the basics of being a good writer. Here you delve into the nuts and bolts of writing, both fiction and nonfiction. You get the opportunity to discover the core of writing techniques, marketing, and editing.

During the Journeyman course – you choose your track. Fiction or nonfiction. I chose fiction, of course. Then I was assigned my mentor, Doug Hirt. He was a fantastic encourager through each of the lessons. Oh, did I mention it’s an 8-month long program? 16 lessons. Two per month.
The Craftsman Course is the most advance and gives you the MOST intensive guidance. You are assigned one of their mentors for a year long course. This is the 'fine tuning' program, to push you from the slush piles to a more publishable possibility. (not that you don't improve your writing at every level) This one also includes a four-day residency where you get to sit under teaching from authors Jerry Jenkins, DiAnn Mills, and more.
- Individual attention (As a mother of five, I’ll take it anyway I can get it ;-)

- Great feedback and guidance – The specific feedback I received on EVERY assignment was invaluable and incredibly encouraging.

- Looks good on a writing resume – making an investment of time and money speaks a lot to how serious you take your writing

- Opportunity to make great contacts
- Opportunity for college credit
- You can choose to make payments or pay in full.

- It’s pretty expensive. This was a Christmas/birthday gift from my parents. That’s the only way I would have been able to do it.
- If you don’t have time, don’t invest in it. You’ll want to glean as much as you can from the opportunity.
- Though Doug Hirt was a fantastic encourager and author, I kind of wonder if having a romance author as my mentor would have fit my writing style better. I didn’t have a choice of a mentor, but all of them are supposed to be very good, though  better fit might have been a better option for me.
It’s time-intensive- as far as being a looooong process. If you want a short-term thing, there are plenty of options out there for you.

 - The Christian Writers Guild offers a critique service too, plus a newsletter with valuable info. You can get involved with their yearly contest, like Henry McLaughlin did, and have an opportunity to get published by Tyndale.

I’m glad I did it. It was a good way to get my writing to the next level and build some invaluable skills, but it’s certainly not for everyone. To learn more about it, check out their fabulous website at
You can also glean daily wisdom for their blog at:
Have you gotten involved in a long-term writing course before? What did you think? Would you recommend it to others?
If you haven’t, do you want to? Why?


Christine Long said...

I took a couple of courses as electives in college, but anything I've learned past that is from researching and reading. Since January I've been actively participating in My Book Therapy Monday night chats which has been a tremendous help.

I would LOVE to get involved with Christian Writer's Guild's courses.

Beth K. Vogt said...

I did the Guild's Apprentice course a number of years ago to get back on the writing road after motherhood derailed my writing for a decade or so. I loved the interaction with my mentor, Kathy Tyres. A very good, very time-intensive commitment.
Since then, I've gotten involved with My Book Therapy. Susie's conferences/writing retreats are amazing. Without them, I probably would have bolted from the Dark Side, i.e, given up on writing fiction, months ago. They are limited in size and she and Rachel Hauck give you great, here's-what-you-need-to-do-next feedback on your WIP.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I tried an online editing course and well, my degree in Creative Writing, but nothing other than that w/in the last ten years.

What a gift! Truly a beautiful gift to receive!
~ Wendy

Casey said...

I have visited this site and considered it, but at this time it probably wouldn't be best. I would REALLY just like to get to ACFW. :) But I'm so glad you shared this, it's great to learn from other perspectives. :) Did you ever enter the Operation: Publish A Novel contest?

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Pepper, thanks for sharing your experience from this. I like how you gave pros and considerations for the workshop. I've never done any long-term writing classes or any short-term ones for that matter, but I have checked into them from time to time so it's good to hear first hand experience. Thanks!

Keli Gwyn said...

I took two correspondence courses through The Institute of Children's Literature years ago. The final assignment in my second course became my first published magazine article. I learned a great deal from the courses and gained the confidence to pursue my lifelong dream of writing a novel.

Pepper said...

Christine & Beth,
I'm seriously considering joining My Book Therapy when they have some space. I've heard such GREAT things.

Pepper said...

It was such a precious gift. I learned so much of the basics.

Christine Long said...

I think you can join online anytime. It's the retreats that have limited space. The Monday night chats and all the resources on the site are great!

Anne Payne said...

I'm not a writer, but I enjoy reading the information here. My teenage son writes poetry and I don't know when he might decide to branch out and write something else so I'm always looking for resources.


Ariel Wilson said...

Oh my goodness, TWO WHOLE WEEKS?? Thank you for being so generous! :D


Mary Vee Writer said...

I completed the Apprentice course last July. It was a great commitment, I'll admit, but the advantage was redirecting time formerly set aside for the class for my new work. I learned many new concepts regarding writing and am thankful I stayed the course.
I must agree with Casey, though. Currently I am focused on ACFW and pouring my free time into the many programs, perks, and information available through them. My fiction mind isn't happy in a nonfiction world. Some day I may grow up...maybe.

Terrie Todd said...

Thanks for the post, Pepper. I would add that the "Writing Essentials" course is now a prerequisite. I recently completed it (my mentor fast-tracked me since I'm already published) and it was well worth it. I'm now saving up for the Apprentice course. Meanwhile, I was floored when my novel placed in the top ten in their 2010 Operation First Novel contest!! That was powerfully encouraging and got me to their conference in February. The conference was both a shot in the arm and an eye-opener, though. It seems editors and agents are not too interested in contest placements beyond first. Still-- great contacts, great classes. I loved it!

Leanne said...

Yay! I love parties. :) I can't wait to see what else you have up your sleeve!

leanniegehrke at hotmail dot com

Amber Holcomb said...

Yay for 300 followers!!! Congrats!

As far as long-term writing courses, I think the only thing that qualifies for me were the two writing classes I took in college so far: Novel Writing and Poetry Writing. I have to humbly admit, though, that I have a hard time taking criticism--something I need to work on! It can be really helpful to have an open mind and to be willing to incorporate different ideas... :)

I'd love a chance to win A Matter of Character! (I already have the other two.) Thank you! :)



Pepper said...

Case & Mary,
Never entered Operation First Novel, but I completely understand saving for ACFW. That's my goal this year too. I've cut back on entering contest just to focus on saving. Almost there :-) And CAN'T WAIT to see you BOTH. WOOHOO! Which other Alley Cats or Alley Pals are planning to attend?

Pepper said...

I did a lot of checking before I committed. It was a very good experience, but not for everyone. Lots of factors involved.
Plus, each month there seem to be more and more options out in cyberspace :-) Something to fit everyone's needs.

Pepper said...

How great! From children's writer to historical romance.
(because I don't have any genre-confusion ;-)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

I bet a long course like that with a one-on-one mentor would be EXTREMELY beneficial. I can't imagine ever having the money for it, but it sure sounds like a great plan. :)

Let the PARTY BEGIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pam said...

Though I'm not a writer, I find your blog interesting. I certainly love reading so am appreciative of all the work that goes into creating a great book.
Congratulations for reaching 300 subscribers and thanks for being so generous with prizes.


Pepper said...

Thanks for visiting! Good luck to your son on his writing journey

Pepper said...

Make sure you check in all week long!! All sorts of fun going on :-)

Pepper said...

It's a big commitment.
And I'm so glad you're focusing on ACFW - because I've got a hug with YOUR NAME ON IT!

Pepper said...

Congrats on finaling. YAHOOO! What an awesome surprise! The whole 'getting published' thing has really been an eye-opener for me. I'm not published yet and I've finaled, even won a few, but I keep repeating the truth "God's timing, my perserverence" That helps me put things into perspective.
Good luck

Pepper said...

Great pic :-)
We're full of surprises, so keep checking in :-)

Pepper said...

You're names in the drawing.
Good luck

Pepper said...


It was very beneficial, but I don't know about trying it again. Not right now anyway. Cost aside, courses of smaller chunks of time work better for my schedule right now. :-)

Pepper said...

Good luck in the drawing!

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