Independence Day Poetry Prompts

Holidays often bring with them a wealth of memories and new experiences – perfect material to write about! Amidst your celebrations, try one of these poetry prompts in honor of Independence Day and post your results in the comments below!

-What does independence mean to you?

-Use fireworks as a metaphor for something else.

-Describe an experience when you have gained independence from something or someone.

-Describe a memory of a family gathering in the summer.

-Write a poem about something that happened today.

-What do you think about the USA?

-What have you rebelled against?

-What foods do you love to eat in the summer?

 

Here is a poem to start us off with about a food I love to enjoy in the summer.

Blackberries

 

Blackberries hanging
among the thorns,
awaiting exhilarating
young hands to weave
through the vines,
picking the delectable treats,
wrapping them in pillows of dough,
folded, wrapped up tight
in silvery orbs of awaited delight.
Cast into the flames,
brought into fruition
as the sun runs through the blue.
Eyes watch the flames until at last!
The silvery orbs are removed…
and opened…
Sweet bliss of YUM!

Interview: Cynthia Ruchti

I have the privilege of being on Cynthia Ruchti‘s street team for her latest book, As Waters Gone By. I genuinely enjoyed her book, and have found her writing to get better and better over time. (Not that it was ever bad, it just keeps improving if you ask me.) I think that’s important for a writer.

Cynthia is someone that was very helpful to me a couple years ago when I went to the ACFW conference. She is someone I’m very excited to introduce here at Working Writers.

Enjoy this interview.

Cynthia-Ruchti_green_couch1-1024x819

 

 

I enjoyed your first book, They Almost Always Come Home and I feel that your writing has continued to grow with each new work. How do you personally challenge yourself to become the best writer you can? Are there specific tips you can share with other writers looking to stay fresh with their storytelling skills?

The more books I write, the more important this is. Some assume writing novels gets easier as time goes on, but in many ways the opposite is true, especially for those committed to telling unique stories that don’t sound like a repeat of the past book. As much as I might fall in love with one, I’m conscious of the need and wisdom of making each new book stronger, better, more compelling than the last.

cynthia

We naturally grow as writers from the process of writing. But no matter how tight the deadlines, I never want to slap words on the page. It’s an honor and privilege to have a story published. My readers deserve the best I have to give…and more. So I challenge myself in several ways.

I don’t just settle. If I’m wrestling with a scene or plot problem, with a character’s name or motivation, I don’t settle for “That’s good enough.” If I focus, seek counsel from wise friends, tap into my editor’s experience, brainstorm with brainstorming geniuses, and pray like crazy, an answer will come that far surpasses “good enough.”

I keep reading and appreciating writing and other art forms. It’s amazing how inspired I feel after spending time in an art gallery or reading another author’s well-crafted book. The art itself stirs creativity.

I keep listening to people. Paying attention to people and their needs lays stories in our laps.

I keep learning. Long ago, I noticed highly skilled and nationally recognized authors taking notes during writers’ workshops or talking about the books they were reading on the craft of writing. Ah, that’s the secret! Never stop learning.

I keep trusting the Creator. The tasks I face in creating a fresh story that’s familiar, identifiable, and yet new are impossible. For me. But nothing is impossible with Him. So the closer I stay to Him, the more likely it is I’ll see the fulfillment of the impossible, whether that’s a deadline or a plotline.

 

All your nonfiction and fiction centers around hope. Did you do this consciously as you wrote or did it come about organically through the stories you wanted to tell?

Hope has long been a favorite topic. During the decades when I wrote for Christian radio, the intro for the broadcast said, “In the midst of all the clamor and confusion around us, there is One who offers Hope. He is peace in the midst of pressure, an anchor in the storms of grief, rescue for capsized relationships, and deliverance from despair. As you listen in these moments, you will learn of Him.” The outro included the words, “the Hope that can transform lives.”

Within the scope of hope lies so many other longings of the human heart–grace, forgiveness, peace, resilience, endurance…

I’ve encapsulated my focus on hope this way. Whether fiction or nonfiction, devotions or speaking events, I tell stories hemmed in hope. It’s my prayer that readers or retreat attendees will walk away confidently saying, “I can’t unravel. I’m hemmed in hope.”

 

as waters gone byYou created a street team for your latest book, As Waters Gone By. Do you have any advice for other writers on how to organize or motivate street team members?

Having a Street Team or Launch Team for As Waters Gone By was a new experience for me, and I was tutored well by my marketing manager, Cat Hoort, whose brilliance makes me slip on my sunglasses even when talking with her by phone! I love the sense of community created by the concept of a street team dedicated to and equipped to share ideas and help spread the word about a book. They can go where I can’t, reach people I can’t. And their enthusiasm and dedicated have blessed my neon pink sneakers off!

 

Is there a favorite line or passage from the book you’d like to share?

Many lines weave their fingers through my thoughts. This one may ring true with others:

Cora, a character whose husband was deployed, commented: “Funny how life does that to us. Drags us through something that turns into a story.”

 

Anything else you’d like to add?

Cherie, thank you for challenging me to think more deeply about some of these questions. I’m more aware every day that it is a gift to tell stories that reach off the page and into hearts. I pray I tend that privilege well.

 

ww divider

CythiaRuchti-FINALlogo_teal2-2-300x109Cynthia Ruchti tells stories hemmed in Hope through her novels and novellas, speaking for women’s events and retreats, writers’ events, nonfiction books, and devotionals, drawing from 33 years writing and producing an on-air radio broadcast. Her books have been recognized by RT Reviewers’ Choice, Selah Awards, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, CR’s BEST Awards, Carol Award honors, Family Fiction Readers’ Choice Award, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year honors and others. She has a total of 15 books on the shelves, with more contracted. She and her plot-tweaking husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.

Social Media—Facebook Scheduler

Today, I want to talk about social media and how this can help us as writers. This will actually be a series that I touch on for the next few months, and I hope you’ll come back for each part.

Facebook Pages—Scheduler 

This one can be tricky for those who haven’t used it before, but it doesn’t have to be. Think of it this way. This is a way for you to interact with your readers, which is something like for us to do. It can also be a way to get news and to share with them as well. The more you use it and people interact with you, then the more people will see your post. It can be difficult to figure this out, and I’ll tell you that I’m still learning this part.

facebook-scheduler

Social Media—Facebook Scheduler

I didn’t want to be tied to my computer all day and I’m sure most of you don’t as well. This is why I like a new feature. Schedule. I think it’s been around for a year or so. Personally, I just learned about it a few months back.

 

 

You can now schedule out status messages. I’ve played around with this and really like it. You can do a week out or more if you so wish to. This will free you up to be able to write more, and to also interact with your readers.

Facebookscheduler2

In the above picture you will see the arrow pointing to schedule. If you click that button, it will then have a pop up screen. You can then put it in for when you’d like the post to show. Now, one thing I do want to tell you is if you have your page linked to your Twitter account, any post scheduled won’t post there. I didn’t know that until recently. So, while Facebook is good for getting status done ahead of time. You may want to use a third party like Hootsuite or TweetDeck. Both of these you can use and schedule ahead of time. Another one that I like is Postcron (you can only post 10 messages ahead without needing to pay a monthly fee, but I’ve never not used the free part of it.)

 

How many of you use the Facebook Schedule and do you like it or not?

In Defense of Outlining Your Novel

With two novels and countless articles under my belt, I feel like I can offer some insight to the young, bright-eyed novelists coming of age. Being a novelist is hard work, no matter how skilled you are. Not only do you have to write a book, but you have to create a brand for yourself and market your book. It feels that nowadays, being a novelist is 50 percent being a writer and 50 percent being a marketing guru.

Thanks to this current inconvenience, many writers (myself included) will make mistakes in their writing that will take away from the actual story.  I’m not talking about grammar and spelling, although that is also important. I’m talking about plot holes so big you can drive a semi-truck through them and dialogue that makes people feel like robots.  If you can avoid these mistakes, you’re already one peg higher than most writers starting out.

Most of these mistakes could be avoided if you just TAKE THE TIME TO OUTLINE YOUR NOVEL.

betty and veron

So many writers are so eager just to start writing based off a sudden idea, they tend to forget to actually plan out their idea.

Take me, for example. When I started to write Night of Suburbia, I started writing based off one scene I had thought of. I continued to do this, which led to me – halfway through the novel – with absolutely no idea what to do.

I didn’t know how to make the conflict get resolved, where the ending was going to take place or even who the killer was! With 25,000 words already written, I couldn’t just trash it and start over. I just had to wade through my entire manuscript, editing and adding scenes, until I knew what to do. This problem could easily have been avoided if I just wrote a rough plan for my novel.

A plan can be as simple as a list of scenes in chronological order with little side notes about conflict and climax.  Or it can be as elaborate as writing character profiles, charting out scenes and doing research on topics portrayed in your novel.

Below I’ve listed some links on the more elaborate planning ideas, which can help you cinch your novel before you start:

Character Profiles

Plotting Sheets

Outlining Help

Trust me, although you will want to just start writing without outlining, you will much rather outline than stress out when you have to go back and fix all the plot holes and such in your book. It’s not fun…

Free Classics on Kindle

I don’t read enough of the classics. I’ll admit that. I’ve read quite a few but they don’t remain among my normal “TBR” pile, and really, I think adding one of the classics in with your other reading can really help you with writing. I think it helps you see the strengths that these books have, and even when a story is hundreds of years old it remains strong. [Read more…]

Interview: Steven James

I’ve been obsessed with Steven James’ Patrick Bowers series of books. He’s the critically acclaimed author of more than three dozen books, including the Patrick Bowers and Jevin Banks thriller series, and he has recently released the first book of his teen suspense trilogy, Blur. Steven’s other works span a variety of genres including non fiction, fantasy and drama. He has a master’s degree in storytelling and has taught writing and creative communication around the world. When he’s not writing or speaking, you’ll find him trail running, rock climbing, or drinking a dark roast coffee near his home in eastern Tennessee. [Read more…]