“How To Build Your Own Podcast Program” – video training

Mike McHargue (better known as Science Mike) is an author, podcaster, and speaker who travels the world helping people understand the science of life’s most profound and mundane experiences. Mike’s the host of Ask Science Mike, and co-hosts The Liturgists Podcast with his friend Michael Gungor. In this 65 minute video presentation (including Q&A), Mike goes through all the steps necessary to develop your own podcasting platform, sharing what he has learned through developing his own.

Learn more here.

Creating Social Currency

In “Contagious” Dr. Jonah Berger establishes three key strategies to help create social currency that gives people a way to make themselves look good while promoting you and your ideas along the way.

1. Identify your inner remarkability. The key to finding your remarkability is to think about what makes you surprising, interesting, or novel. In my book “Social Media Explained,” I suggest that marketing strategy needs to begin by finishing this sentence: “Only we …” That’s a tough task, but it’s the essential path to discover your remarkability.

2. Help people achieve something with your content.

3. Make it exclusive. According to digital marketing savant Christopher S. Penn of SHIFT Communications. “Scarcity is actually more powerful than ever on the social web,” he said. “While content may be free, what has become extremely scarce is time, attention, and influence. These are hot commodities, rare commodities.”

– from “The Content Code” by Mark Schaefer

Being a Voice Not an Echo

– by Rachel Hauck

Writing in the Christian fiction market pushes us to go beyond the realm of this life to find meaning and purpose for our characters. Even non fiction requires genuine truth told in a unique and engaging way.

For fiction writers, while we are not writing sermons and devotionals set in fictional places with fictional characters, we are imitating life.

Jesus is very much a part of our every day life. We want to express Him in some way in our stories, through the lives of our characters.

But often our stories sound hokey, canned, full of Christianese. How we talk in the foyer at church, or in Sunday school class does not translate into fiction.

Remember, our goal is to write great stories about great characters. Our goal is not agenda fiction where we pound the pulpit — so to speak — about some error of ways.

So how do we develop a convincing, authentic spiritual thread? A lot of prayer and pondering. Digging deep the translate those standard words like, “Is he a believer?” to something every one can understand. Like, “Does he believe in Jesus?” Simple, straight forward, a non-Christian gets it.

Avoid soap boxes. Don’t preach to the reader out of your own wounds or doctrinal passions. One, it’s obvious. Two, it’s boring. Find one truth that you’ve learned and weave it into your character’s being then let the words flow naturally. Maybe in one or two scenes.

It’s not a Bible study. Don’t write and discuss long passages of scripture or quote noted Bible teachers. Have you characters quote a verse in a natural way, using his or her own words.

Express God in creative ways. In one of my books, God got the heroine’s attention with feathers appearing out of nowhere. In another, the heroine senses a strong fragrance.

You can’t write about what you don’t have in yourself. The spiritual journey of a character is often the fragrance of God in and on the author. If you aren’t going deep in God, spending time at His feet, in His Word, praying, worhshipping, fellowshipping with others, your spiritual message will be flat. Always. Your message will feel forces and tacked on. Or worse, fake. Or untrue.

But as you spend time in His presence, the spiritual thread becomes a part of you, a part of the character, a part of the whole book. And you may only have to mention Jesus once. But He’s everywhere unseen.

Don’t lead with doctrine. Lead with the Spirit. Lead with a story. Fiction or non fiction both require story. Don’t just repeat what others are saying. Get your own revelation and then back it up with the truth of the Word. Pray for a creative way to weave it into your character’s journey.

Be a Voice not an Echo.

Take Note of Others’ Responses

Pay attention to how other people respond to your creative work. A true gift gives true pleasure to others-or it truly stirs them up. When your friend’s face lights up while he’s talking about some endeavor of yours, you know that somehow that endeavor really connected to another person. When people have a strong reaction to your work, positive or negative, that tells you that you’ve hit on something that’s meaningful.

– from “The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life” by Vinita Hampton Wright Loyola Press

The Sharing of the Crowd

 

Harnessing the sharing of the crowd will often take you further than you think, and it is almost always the best place to start.

We have barely begun to explore what kinds of amazing things a crowd can do. There must be two million different ways to crowdfund an idea, or to crowdorganize it, or to crowdmake it. There must be a million more new ways to share unexpected things in unexpected ways.

In the next three decades the greatest wealth – and more interesting cultural innovations – lie in this direction. The largest, fastest growing, most profitable companies in 2050 will be companies that will have figured out how to harness aspects of sharing that are invisible and un appreciated today. Anything that can be shared – thoughts, emotions, money, health, time – will be shared in the right conditions, with the right benefits. Anything that can be shared can be shared better, faster, easier, longer, and in a million more ways than we currently realize. At the point in our history, sharing something that has not been shared before, or in a new way, is the surest way to increase its value.

 

– from “The Inevitable” By Kevin Kelly

It’s Not About You

If you’ve paid any attention to my posts, you know that I am bullish regarding the need for new authors to participate in social media and build a platform (a following of people who resonate with what you have to say, and who are thus likely to purchase your books, regardless of whether you work through a traditional publisher or self-publish).

But often I hear from early-stage writers that they are reluctant to do this because they don’t like self-promotion; they don’t want to “toot their own horn.”

My answer to this sentiment is two-fold:

1. Whether we are talking about social media or writing a book, the important thing is that it is not about you. It needs to be about your ideas that will help people. Why does someone buy a book? Because they want to learn, because they want to solve a problem, because they’re interested in the topic. Sorry, but you’re not a celebrity, and they really don’t care about you. They care about what is unique and valuable that you have to say.

If you have not already, this is a mindset I suggest you adopt, and it is incredibly freeing and focusing. What you are all about is helping people! What is better than that? It is freeing because it removes the guilt, and it is focusing because it forces you to concentrate on what really matters…

2. If you believe that God is working through you, then let it happen! Let God do the talking! Remember all of this Holy Spirit stuff that we say we believe. Then believe!

10 Tips for Working with an Editor

– by Tony Jones

A while back I was in Chicago, meeting with my editor about my next book. I’ve known him professionally and as a friend for over a decade, but we’ve never worked together before, so I didn’t know quite what to expect. Over the course of a day, sitting at his kitchen table, we talked about everything from what I see as my role in the wider world to what should be my “voice” in this book to how the table of contents should flow.

As a result of our meeting, the table of contents is, in fact, completely different. I had written about 23,000 words of the manuscript prior to our meeting, so we also went over some passages, talking about my voice, my writing style, etc. All in all, it was a great meeting, and I’m fortunate to be working with him.

With a dozen books in print, I’ve worked with almost that many editors. I’ve also worked as an editor, both in my role at sparkhouse, and in a couple book projects. So, from my vantage point, here are my Top Ten Tips for Working with an Editor:

1) Fight for time with your editor. Some authors like working closely with their editors. Others prefer a more hands-off approach. I’m in the former camp. I really like the feeling that a book is a team project. But I’ve found that really happens primarily when I instigate it. Most editors seems to hang back and wait for the author to initiate meetings.

2) Remember that your editor works for you, and for the publisher. The editor is a conduit of sorts. She will work at making your book better, but she’s also got the best interests of the publisher at heart. These two allegiances aren’t contradictory, but they don’t always line up as much as you might want.

3) Remember that your editor isn’t only working on your book. Most editors are responsible for bringing between one and two dozen books to print per year. Be understanding when someone else’s book is ahead of yours in the queue.

4) Remember that your editor has other duties, too. If your book is one of twelve that your editor is working on, that doesn’t mean that your editor will spend a month, holed up in a cabin, editing your manuscript. He is also attending conferences and trade shows, going to meetings, and reading manuscripts that are coming in.

5) Take advantage of your editor’s view of the market. More than you, your editor is paying close attention to what’s selling. MY editor and I have had several conversations about what has made recent books by Rob Bell and Nadia Bolz-Weber successful. He tracks their sales on Bookscan, and he is reading trade publications that I’m not.

6) Decide what you’re going to fight for. Going into our meeting, there were certain things I really wanted. The title, for instance, was important to me. The table of contents was not. Something in between is my voice in this book, which my editor would like to be less professorial. Okay, he wants it to be not at all professorial. That’s going to be a struggle for me, not because I want to sound professorial, but because that’s how I’ve been trained to write.

7) Don’t be afraid to ask for another editor. If you’re writing a book for a publishing house or a magazine, and you just don’t click with the editor who acquired your book or article, as for a second opinion. One editor does not necessarily have the perfect perspective on your writing, and another set of eyes can be very helpful.

8) Thank your editor in the acknowledgments. This is an obvious one, but put it on your to-do list.

9) Use the lag time. After your book is complete, there will be several months before it comes out. And no one is more in touch with your strengths and weaknesses as a writer at that moment-in-time than your editor. She’s been neck deep in your writing for weeks or months. So ask her what she thinks you should write next. Bounce around some ideas. And, if possible, get a contract for your next book before the current book drops.

10) Involve the editor in marketing. The person who’s assigned to market your book has most likely not read it. Maybe he’s skimmed it. Your editor, on the other hand, is intimately acquainted with your book, and he probably works three desks down from the marketer. So encourage your editor to advocate for your book with the marketing team.

Small Events

by Frederick Buechner

Life went on of course because that is what life does. I kept on writing books, which a relatively small but faithful audience kept on reading. It was at this time that I wrote two short autobiographical volumes called The Sacred Journey in 1982 and Now and Then in 1983, and they helped let a little light and air into the dark place where I was imprisoned. They gave me more of a sense than I had ever had before of how as far back as I could remember things had been stirring in my life that I was all but totally unaware of at the time.

If anybody had predicted when I was an undergraduate at Princeton that I was going to be ordained as a minister ten years after graduation, I think I would have been flabbergasted. Yet as I wrote those two autobiographical volumes I found myself remembering small events as far back as early childhood which were even then leading me in something like that direction but so subtly and almost imperceptibly that it wasn’t until decades had passed that I saw them for what they were—or thought I did because you can never be sure whether you are discovering that kind of truth or inventing it. The events were often so small that I was surprised to remember them, yet they turned out to have been road markers on a journey I didn’t even know I was taking. The people involved in them were often people I had never thought of as having played particularly significant roles in my life yet looking back at them I saw that, for me, they had been life-givers, saints.

Have a Checklist

It can be helpful to have a checklist, particularly once you’re in the middle, most engaged stage of work. The middle is often a muddle, and if you have some simple list of things to do or check, that can help you keep moving. For instance, if you’re stuck in the middle stage of a short story, go back to one of your basic guides for short story writing. Go through the aspects of the craft-viewpoint, character, description and so forth. Use the guide to help you step back from the work and run a basic check on it. For me, working on a novel’s timeline can help me get unstuck. I spend an afternoon with a large sketchpad, outlining what happens when. That nearly always opens up the process for me in a fresh way.

 

– from “The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life” by Vinita Hampton Wright Loyola Press

 

 

They Push Me

I turn to these writers and their pages again and again. They are my teachers and my mentors. Though not all of them are poets in the rhyme-and-meter sense of the word, they are certainly poets in the Wordsworth or Coleridge sense of the word. And heaven knows they are better writers than I will ever be.

Grateful is the only word I know for the glimpses they have given me of what it means to attempt the work and live the life of a writer.

I keep these books close at hand because they help me remember the things I tend to forget. The books are inspiring to be sure, but they also teach me very practical things. They remind me to pay attention to the stories of my life so that in the telling of them I might help others recall the stories of their lives, which is where the real truth of their lives is revealed.

They push me to make sentences that people can hear as well as read, to work as hard as I can until the whole of what I am writing becomes as clear as I can make it. To not give up the work even when the work seems clearly impossible to write.

They help me remember, in whatever story I am writing, to look for the light in the midst of the darkness. To pay attention to the larger world around me, not just the world I call my own.

They push me to tell the truth, the hard truth about my life, as someone may be dying to hear it. To tell the old stories when the time comes but make them come alive. To not be so busy being an artiste that I forget to be a person and a friend.

 

from “Dancing on the Head of a Pen” by Robert Benson

 

Get in touch!