Ideas for Writing
five things you’d like to write about, perhaps something you’re now
going through or have gone through:
Like/don’t like…Relationships…Looking for job (discrimination
because of age or gender)
Marriage (joys, problems)
Children (New baby…Discipline/setting boundaries…School
children…Adoption • Something you’re interested in
Hobby…Favorite subjects at school…Your favorite topic of
children, redecorating, cooking, etc.
are you skilled in?
How-to articles are popular. If someone has asked you how to do
something, you have the makings of an
article or book. Do you type term papers for students, cater
luncheons, run a day-care service,
repair automobiles? Perhaps others would like to know how to start
a similar business, and by sharing
what you’ve learned through trial and error, you can help them
reach their dream.
What upsets you? What can you do about it? Do you really believe
you can change something or help others
see something from a different point of view through your
12 Steps to
Writing a Devotional Assignment
Scripture passage in required version—either in longhand or
computer printout and take it with you when
you leave the house to read while waiting in a
doctor’s office or elsewhere.
this passage each day for your private devotions.
verses in different versions.
in a Bible commentary or dictionary, or a Web site for
background of verses: who’s involved, where
does the story take place, what else is going on at the time?
Select one verse from the Scripture passage to use as a text for
your devotional, not just the easiest
one to illustrate, but one that’s meaningful to you.
a one-sentence theme for your reader’s takeaway.
Choose an illustration—personal, friend, church, neighborhood,
Choose a title (unless editor gives you one).
a rough draft. Don’t worry about length or editing; just get
your thoughts on paper.
Begin to edit, first for length, then for clarity.
Final typing—in publisher’s specific format.
12. Proofread carefully (especially Scripture), then take to
critique group if you belong to one.
Types of Children’s Books
books. 2 to 4 years
old, 12 to 32 pages, up to 350 words but most under 100 words.
Full-color illustrations on every page.
books. 3 to 7 years
old, 24 to 48 pages, 250 to 2500 words, usually full-color
illustrations every page.
5 to 9 years old, 32 to 48 pages, 1500 to 4000 words, usually
full-color illustrations on every other page.
6 to 8 years old, 350 to 2000 words, 32 to 64 pages, full color
illustration every page or two.
books. 7 to 10
years, 56 to 80 pages, black-and-white pictures spaced throughout
grade/’tweens. 8 to
12 years, 112 to 144 pages, black-and-white pictures spaced
throughout, or none at all.
(YA). 12 and up, 144
to 232 pages, no illustrations.
Remember, regardless of the
age of the child, use lots of dialogue in your books. The rule of
“show, don’t tell” is especially important in this genre.
Style Sheet (jot down when you look
up in dictionary)
Affect, as v.,
alter, sway; as n., psychological state
Effect, as v., establish; as n., end result
All right, two words; remember its antonym,
Anoint, use an ointment
Balloon, two l’s as in ball
t’s, one l, as in
as in dome
Capital, city as in an area
Connecticut, first I connect, then
Deductible, i as
Dependent, take dependents
to the dentist.
Descendant, descendants come from ancestors.
February, “Br! It’s cold.”
Friend, a friend to the end.
Grammar, bad grammar will mar your progress.
Gray, a as in America; grey, the English spelling, e
as in England.
Inoculate, one n, one c, as in inject.
Memento, mem as in memory.
Piece, a piece of
Privilege, a privilege
gives you a leg up.
Recommend/recommendation, contain the word commend.
Rhythm, divide six letters into two groups, each with an h in the
Separate, break into parts.
Stationary, stand still.
Stationery, write on it (or remember e stands for envelope).7
And a great way to remember the
names of the Great Lakes: Sailors refer to them as their HOMES—Huron,
Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior.
Manuscript Submission Sheet
Marketing Books and Periodicals
Market Guide (updated
annually). Jerry Jenkins, Christian Writers Guild, 5525 N. Union, Suite 200,
Colorado Springs, CO 80918. (866-495-5177,
(updated annually). F+W
Publications, 4700 East Galbraith, Cincinnati, OH 45236, or at bookstores.
Also publishes market guides for: fiction, poetry, children’s
writers/illustrators, artists, photographers, and songwriters. Same
address, or at bookstores. Web site:
issues/year). American Christian Writers, PO Box 110390, Nashville, TN
37222. Web site:
www.wordprocommunications.com/TCC.htm. (Updates the Christian
Writers’ Market Guide.)
Cross & Quill
Writers Fellowship International, 1624 Jefferson Davis Rd., Clinton, SC
29325-6401. (864) 697-6035. Web site:
(monthly). F+W Publications,
4700 East Galbraith, Cincinnati, OH 45236. Web site:
(monthly). PO Box 394, Perham, MN
56573. Web site:
Operational and Typographical Signs
15 Hints on Using Scripture in Your
1. Give the
version of the Bible you are using. If you quote Scripture in an
article or book, the version is shown in parentheses after the
reference, i.e., “In the beginning God created the heaven and the
earth” (Genesis 1:1 kjv). Note that no punctuation is used between the
reference and the version, which is abbreviated and typed in small
writing a book and using only one version of the Bible, the following
statement may be shown on the copyright page: “Unless otherwise
indicated, all Scripture quotations in this book are taken from the…,”
then give version and credit line, i.e., “New King James Version,
Copyright © 1997 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights
reserved.” If you are using more than one version, double space and
continue to list the others, i.e., “Verses marked niv are taken from
the New International Version,” then include the credit line, and on
down the list. Each publisher allows a certain number of verses to be
quoted before permission is required (see pages 273ff); however, a
credit line still is needed.
the reference after the Scripture verse. Sometimes you see
the reference before the quotation, as in, “We see in Genesis
1:1 that ‘in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,’” but
this may break the train of thought for your reader. It’s more common
to say, “We read that ‘in the beginning God created the heaven and the
earth’” (Genesis 1:1). Some authors put the reference in a footnote or
endnote, directing the reader to the bottom of the page or the end of
the chapter or book. However, this creates a lot of switching back and
forth for the readers and some may not do it.
out the name of the book of the Bible in your reference to avoid
confusion. Phil. could stand for Philippians or Philemon. The
publisher will abbreviate these books according to their style guide.
out numbers at the beginning of a sentence. If you’re saying, “1
Thessalonians 1:1 says…,” spell the number 1, i.e., “First
Thessalonians 1:1 says…”
consistent in using numbers or Roman numerals. Don’t use a Roman
numeral in one place (i.e., II Timothy) and a number in another (i.e.,
2 Timothy). Numbers seem to be more commonly used now than Roman
6. If your
citation includes two consecutive verses, be consistent in the use of
punctuation. Don’t use a comma one time and a hyphen the next;
i.e., John 3:16-17 or John 3:16,17. Either is correct, but be
consistent. Use a hyphen when citing three or more consecutive verses,
i.e., John 3:16-18. If you’re quoting from the same book but different
chapters, use a semicolon, i.e., John 3:16; 4:15. If you’re referring
the reader to a passage consisting of two consecutive chapters, use an
en dash, i.e., John 3–4. (Note: In Word, an en dash is made by
clicking on Ctrl, and then the minus key on the number pad.)
Scripture quotations in the same typeface as the rest of your
manuscript. Typing passages in bold is like shouting at your
reader, and placing them in italics takes away from the smoothness of
your writing and breaks the reader’s train of thought. Some publishers
place Scripture quotations in a smaller font, but let that be their
stress certain words in the Scripture passage, place them in italics,
then show this fact after the reference; i.e., “In the beginning
God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1 kjv,
emphasis added). If you do this consistently throughout the
manuscript, place a note to this effect on the copyright page as
follows: Italics in Scriptures have been added by the author.
9. If you
insert commentary within the Scripture, enclose it in brackets,
i.e., “For God so loved the world [and this means you], that he gave
his only begotten Son…” (John 3:16 kjv).
closing punctuation after the ending parenthesis, i.e., rather
than “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis
1:1), type “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”
(Genesis 1:1). (Note: Some publishers place the closing punctuation
before the reference in a lengthy, indented quotation. Use their style
guide and be consistent.)
passages four lines or less in quotation marks within the paragraph,
but if the quotation is over four lines, begin a new paragraph and
indent on one or both sides. In this format, you will not need
opening or closing quotation marks. Double space these quotations to
allow the editor room for necessary corrections—for example, if they
want to use a different version.
long quotations. Citing a long passage of Scripture may be done in
several ways. 1) As one long indented paragraph, leaving out
individual verse numbers; 2) as a long indented paragraph, including
verse number in parentheses before the verse; or, 3) instead of using
paragraph format, type each verse separately, with or without the
verse number before it. Again, be consistent.
Scripture exactly, word for word, comma for comma, period for
period. Be especially careful in the use of capitalization as some
versions do not capitalize pronouns for God or Christ as “he,” “him,”
“his,” “himself,” “me,” “my,” etc., while other versions do. Go
according to the version you are using, even if it isn’t your personal
preference. Especially be careful of the word “Lord” as the Old
Testament often spells it with an initial cap and small caps, i.e.,
“Lord” which means “Jehovah,” while “Lord” is “Adonai,” which can
refer to either God or a human leader. Always use it as it is found in
14. Do not
overuse Scripture. In writing for the religious market, you may
think that the more Scripture you use, the better; however, this can
turn off and distract your reader; it also lets the Bible do your
writing for you and doesn’t show the editor much of your own writing
15. Most importantly,
follow the style guide of the publisher to whom you are submitting your manuscript.
Do your homework. Send
authors’ guidelines and/or check books that this particular company
Shortcuts for Microsoft Word
Ctrl + B Bold
Ctrl + C Copy selected text
Ctrl + S Save file
Ctrl + X Cut selected text
Ctrl + P Print
Ctrl + F Open find box
Ctrl + I Italicize highlighted section
Ctrl + U Underline highlighted selection
Ctrl + V Paste
Ctrl + Y Redo the last action performed
Ctrl+ Z Undo the last action performed. (This shortcut is great
when you don’t know what you did to cause that strange
screen to pop up. It can also
retrieve documents you’ve accidentally deleted.)
Ctrl + L Aligns selected text to the left of the screen
Ctrl + E Center selected text
Ctrl + R Aligns selected text to the right of the screen
Ctrl + M Indent the paragraph
Ctrl + Home Moves cursor to beginning of document
Ctrl + End Moves cursor to end of document
Ctrl + 1 Single-space lines
Ctrl + 2 Double-space lines
Ctrl + 5 Space-and-a-half lines
F1 Open Help
F7 Spell and grammar check
Shift + F7 Thesaurus check on highlighted word
F12 Save as
Shift + F12 Save
Alt + Shift + D Insert the current date
Alt + Shift + T Insert the current time
F2 Rename a file
More shortcuts can be found at
Tax Deductions for Writers
Advertising (business cards,
Bad debts (if someone has owed you for more than two years, and you can
show proof of trying to collect it.
Car expenses (can take actual expenses prorated [gas, oil, repairs,
insurance, tags, etc., but if you do this you have to keep all receipts)
simpler—and usually better—just to take the
mileage deduction allowed by IRS. Keep track of all your miles—to the post
office, to the office
supply store, to meet a writer for lunch,
writers’ clubs and seminars—anything connected with writing.
Commissions—this would be, for example, if you had an agent.
Depreciation—on office equipment or computer that cost over $100 and was
expected to last over a year. (This can be taken over several years
or there is a way it can all be taken the first
Insurance—if you rented an office and had insurance; if you have an office
in the home, you can take a portion of the insurance; or if you
have separate insurance on your equipment.
Interest—you can no longer take interest as a deduction on your personal
Schedule A; however, if you have a credit card you use solely for
your business, you can deduct the interest, or if
you have a credit card at an office supply store. Also interest on a plane
credit card, if you use
it to fly to seminars.
Legal & professional expenses—if you pay someone to do your income taxes,
your self-employment portion may be deducted; or if you pay
someone to look over a contract or to try to
collect money owed you.
Office expense—this is not office supplies; this is anything you do
to your office in the way of decorating, repairs (carpet, drapes), etc.
Rent or lease—if you rent or lease any business equipment. Be careful
here, however; if you end up buying the equipment then you may have to
go back to the first year and show depreciation
for the time you had it.
Repairs and maintenance—any repairs on your equipment, or if you purchase
a maintenance agreement.
Supplies—here is where you list all your office supplies and don’t forget
little things like staples, paper clips, pens, correction fluid,
Taxes and licenses—any taxes or licenses you need for your business. (For
example, Arizona does have a personal property tax on your
equipment, but they don’t enforce it. I didn’t
even know this until I had an office downtown and registered my name.)
Travel—this is not car expenses shown above; this is such things as plane
tickets, rental cars, cab fares, parking fees, tolls, etc.
Meals and entertainment—if you take a writer to dinner, to a baseball
game, etc. Don’t forget such things as tips, etc. However, only 50%
of this is
deductible. Your own meals are deductible if you
Utilities—for a rented office, or if you have an office in your home, you
can prorate your utilities.
(Deductions on the preceding page are placed line by line on your Schedule
C for a self-employed person. Those listed below are miscellaneous
deductions that go on Part V
Other Expenses. You may have more. These are
just some I deduct every year.)
Telephone (you can deduct monthly telephone bill only if you have a
separate business line. Otherwise, you can deduct such things as Call
Conference Calls, long distance calls, and don’t
forget your Internet fees.)
Books and publications—this is a biggie for writers. Any magazine you buy
can be deducted here as it is a possible market or a newspaper you take
solely for business. Don’t forget sample
magazines you send for.
Printing and copies
Cards and gifts
Camera/tape recorder (these two you may have to prorate if you also use
them for personal use. I bought a separate tape recorder strictly
business. However, any portion you use 100% for
business—i.e., film for a seminar, cassette tapes you bought for an
interview, film developing,
etc—is 100% deductible. And don’t forget repairs
on your camera and tape recorder.)
Subcontracting—I sometimes pay someone to type for me Dues for business
Loss—I sometimes have a loss on books sold
If you have a home office, you
can also prorate deductions on such things as landscaping, repairs (air
conditioning/heating), exterminating, carpet cleaning, real estate taxes,
interest and house insurance, plus depreciation. This gets sticky, so talk
to someone before deducting a home office.