Letter to a Young Writer

I received an invitation to write a letter of encouragement to a grade school student who dreams of writing. Perhaps these thoughts are relevant to writers of any age.

Dear Joslyn,

Your teacher told me you dream of being an author. That is awesome! You have taken the important first step toward achieving your dream. The support of my fifth grade teacher launched my dream long ago and I appreciate her more than words can say. Perhaps you also will correspond with your teacher for the rest of your life.

Do you love to read? When I was your age I did. I still read a lot. I love the way I can escape to different times and places through stories others share.

If you haven’t already started, I encourage you to keep journals of your activities, your experiences, and—most important—your thoughts and feelings about everything. The more you write, the better your writing will become. It’s one of those things where “practice makes perfect.” Our alphabet and the written language derived from it are perhaps the most important invention of humanity. Used with skill, words possess the power to change the world.

Today it is easier than it has ever been to see your work published. No longer do you have to convince agents to represent you and offer your manuscripts to publishers. At the same time, because of the ease of publication through online sources, anything you publish will have A LOT of competition. To attract readers, learn to make your work stand out. Take your writing seriously. Study the intricacies of our language and its rules of grammar. Learn the basics of storytelling.

How do you do this? English classes will get you off to a good start. Beyond school, how-to books on writing are easy to find. I took special creative writing classes as early as high school. And when you finish high school, there are university tracks which offer intensive training in creative writing.

You could join a writing club. These groups bring writers together and they welcome members of all ages.

Enter writing contests. Many contests welcome submissions by students. A couple of contests available in Kansas are Kansas Voices and the annual literary contest sponsored by Kansas Authors Club. Submit your stories and poems as often as you can. After the winning writers are selected, contest judges often offer suggestions about how writers can improve their craft. Don’t resist revising and re-writing your first drafts.

If you are bold, you could attend workshops and conventions to learn more about writing. It is invigorating to surround yourself with others who share your passion.

Seek a variety of activities to understand how other people view life. Pursue adventure. Crave new experiences. Engage in life. Watch people and listen to their speech patterns. Collect friends and get to know them inside and out.

Allow yourself to feel deeply the entire circle of emotions. Learn what it’s like to love intensely, to laugh with abandon, to rage helplessly, to fear powerful adversaries, to feel your heart break with sorrow, and even to despair with little hope. Write it all down, sparing nothing.

Careful observations as you experience life could lead to unique twists in your stories that make them stand out. Use your experiences to feed your imagination. Create new worlds and write them to life.

You have set out on an exciting journey.

Be proud that you have taken the first step toward your dream, but don’t be surprised if life dictates a few detours. Embrace them also. Farm them for scenes, characters, places, and conflicts. And never stop writing. It’s a long road and a lot of hard work to see your dream come true. You may get discouraged, but don’t give up. Every step of the way is worth it. Someday you may touch a needy heart. Someday—maybe soon—you will make a difference and help change the world with your words. There is nothing more important.

Good luck to you and Write On!

Writing a Winner: How I Did It

The published book awards offered each year by Kansas Authors Club attract the best writers from around the state. It’s a big deal when a writer sees their work in print, and an even bigger deal to receive recognition for quality work. The KAC Children’s Book award, “It Looks Like a Million” design award, Martin History book award for books dealing with Kansas History, the Nelson Poetry book award, and the Coffin Memorial book award for books of all other genres are vital to the Kansas Authors Club literary contests each year. (Contest guidelines:  http://www.kansasauthorsclub.weebly.com/adult-literary-contest-guidelines.html )

How do winners of these contests approach the task of crafting quality publications? If you are considering entering your recently published book in one of these contests, KAC District 5 has a class for you. For the first time at Kansas Authors Club’s annual convention this year a panel comprised of recent Coffin Memorial Book Award winners will offer ideas for polishing and perfecting manuscripts. Each panelist will share a couple of ideas which helped in writing their winning prose, followed by time for questions from those in attendance.

Panelists include Jean Grant, Gloria Zachgo, and Ann Fell. In addition, this seminar will be scheduled to allow participation by the 2019 winner. As an added bonus, keynote speaker Paul Bishop will serve as moderator for the panel discussion.

Jean Grant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean Grant, received the Coffin Memorial Book Award 2018, for Flight, a novel set in the chaos of Beirut’s civil war. Finlay Fortin, a professor at the American University, is desperate to take his family to safety. When his wife, a war photographer, insists on staying to document the fighting, Finlay forces his rebellious daughter Anouk to flee with him out of the war-scarred city. As they settle in a remote village in the French countryside, Finlay finds unexpected romance. Fast-paced and suspenseful, Flight reveals how the conflicts between ambition, love, and loyalty affect this family in ways no one could have anticipated.

 

Gloria Zachgo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gloria Zachgo received the Coffin Memorial Book Award 2017, for Hush Girl It’s Only A Dream. Nicki Reed is desperate to find the answers to her past, but someone else is desperate for her to never remember. Shortly after her father died, Nicki’s nightmares started. They were soon followed by panic attacks. Suspecting her haunting dreams were related to her childhood, she sought professional help, but was unable to verbalize any memories she had as a child. When her therapist suggested she write her memories, Nicki started remembering things she had pushed far into the recesses of her mind. She started to doubt her own sanity, and when she began to see a strange woman stalking her, she couldn’t be sure if that woman was real or imagined. Yet, she couldn’t tell anyone, until her own family was threatened.

 

Ann Fell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ann Fell, received the Coffin Memorial Book Award 2016 for Sundrop Sonata. With her passion for helping people, piano tuner Isabel Woods loves her job—but passion can be a dangerous thing. Reluctantly agreeing to harbor a client’s autistic daughter, Izzy’s good intentions unexpectedly expose her own family to a murderous fiend with a chilling agenda. Human trafficking and bio-terrorism are no longer just buzz words from the nightly news. For Izzy, they have become terrifying and real. As the deadly Sundrop Sonata begins to play, Izzy has one chance to save the people and the country she loves armed with nothing more than courage, intelligence, and her esoteric knowledge of pianos.

This October 4-6, come to Wichita and learn tips these award-winning Kansas writers decided were most helpful for the success of their stories.

Hook ‘Em!

http://www.Kansasauthors.org

Like us on Facebook: Kansas Authors Club

Hotel information:

KS Authors Club