Growing Your Craft

shed and chair

This month, I attended an American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) chapter meeting for the first time. In Louisiana, there weren’t any chapters near me, so when I heard that there was a meeting at the Colorado library two minutes from my house and that Victorian author Jen Turano was speaking, I was excited to attend. (Best perk of moving to Colorado for me was the library location and the fact there are a billion bunnies in our neighborhood.)

Jen Turano is a humorous Historical Romance Victorian author with 7 traditionally published novels under her belt with Bethany House. Cringing, Jen encouraged the group by sharing hilarious stories of her first query letters blunders that we could all relate to, 180k word manuscripts that should have been 90k for the genre and how she persevered through 7 manuscripts making the rounds of rejections before she received that beautiful “yes” for her first novel to be published with Bethany, which began her successful writing career.

For her session, she gave valuable insight into the process of growing your writing craft to the point where you can break into the publishing industry with eye-catching book. So, I thought I’d mention a few things I picked up while there.

Growing Your Writing Craft:

You will need to have endurance. Endurance is necessary to even type out that novel. It will take months to write and months to edit, but after it is completed, you have to have endurance for the publishing process. In the writing world, you are going to encounter rejection. It is just part of being a writer and growing a thick skin with a teachable spirit.

A willingness to study writing. No one is born knowing proper grammar, punctuation, sentence structure and plot structure; however, they are essential to growing your craft. Start studying by reading your genre, picking up a grammar book like Strunk and White, subscribing to Writer’s Digest, going to writers’ conferences or attending local writing workshops. For more on the importance of reading your genre, click here.

Open to critique. Sometimes, critiques can be almost as hard to hear as rejections. Jen suggested that instead of having a lot of voices chiming in on your work, narrow it down to a handful of critique partners for a more focused critique. Critiques can be highly subjective and if you have too many partners, it might confuse your own voice by trying to change your story to fit their suggestions. (For me, I have two solid critique partners. If they have advice, I usually take it.)

Large doses of persistence. It took Jen 7 manuscripts before she landed on the right one for her first novel. She told the group how she almost gave up on writing after so many discouraging rejections, but her friend, and I believe critique partner, pushed her to keep going. It’s a testament to how much endurance it takes in the publishing world as well as persistence until you find what works for your story.

The moral of the story for this session: Take courage, hone your craft and keep writing until it sticks!

Happy Writing!

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About Grace Hitchcock

Grace Hitchcock's first novella, The Widow of St. Charles Avenue, released in Barbour Publishing’s The Second Chance Brides Collection August 2017. Her second novella will release in Barbour Publishing’s The Southern Belle Brides Collection in 2018. She has a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace is a Louisiana Southerner living in Colorado with her husband, Dakota, and newborn son.

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