Page 1




Something to Give: Writing Out of a Vibrant Relationship with Christ When asked to prepare a twosentence purpose statement, my newest Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild apprentice (like many before her) mentioned a desire to glorify God and lead others to Him. Worthy goals — similar to my writing purpose statement: “To pursue those writing projects the Lord places before me, writing in His strength and seeking His purposes through each piece.” Sounds pious, doesn't it? But rereading my purpose statement, I am ashamed how often I stray into writing bland words out of a lukewarm commitment to Christ. I keep my quiet time with God. But in some seasons, when my heart isn't in it, what I write is less worthy of the label Christian writing. It isn't authentic, and it isn't empowered by God's Spirit. I can offer readers something of eternal value only when my relationship with Christ is vibrant and growing — when I seek Him ahead of opening a blank Word document. In my reverie, I turned to a familiar Scripture passage. But today I read it with new eyes. The context is Paul's closing words to the Ephesian believers (6:11-19). He begins with the importance of putting on the whole armor of God. I could draw many applications

from the armor to the Spiritempowered writing life. For example, when we have content of eternal value to communicate, the enemy will thwart our efforts unless we use the resources God's Spirit supplies. Or I could note that the Word of God is a mighty sword — using it wisely (in writing and speaking) is our only sure-fire weapon in recapturing hearts and minds for Christ. Each piece of armor can equip us to have something to give. But today I was drawn to Paul's request: “Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel” (v. 19, NIV). Exchange “open my mouth” for “open my word processor,” and we have a prayer for our writing lives. If even the great apostle (after he had donned God's armor) needed others to hold him up in prayer for opportunity, words, and courage to communicate, how much more do we need the same? How can we be sure we have something real and hope-filled to give our readers? By praying — and enlisting friends and colleagues to pray with us — that our Father will equip us to make His kingdom known fearlessly — every time we get down to the work of a Christian writer.

This Joy Media Publication © 2011 by Julie-Allyson Ieron. Direct inquiries or reprint requests to To order products mentioned here, visit

In this issue Something to Give Your Own Best Critic Harnessing Creativity The eBook Gateway

Page 1 Page 2 Page 4 Page 6

Julie recommends or endorses the following sites for writers: The Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Julie was lead writer for the Guild's Apprentice and Writing Essentials curricula. She is a mentor for both programs, and for the articles course. When enrolling, you may request her as your mentor. Write-to-Publish Conference, Wheaton, Ill. On this site, check out the conference recordings order forms from 2006 and 2007 to purchase recordings of eight of Julie's book writing conference presentations. Evangelical Church Libraries Association On this site, check out the ECLA 2009 conference keynote recording by Julie: "How Books Can Carry God's Blessing."



Your Own Best Critic You can refine and polish your own manuscript One of my first paying jobs as a real-live writer was as a contributor to a daily devotional. When I received the assignment, my excitement at being paid to do what I loved was beyond words. Then I began to study the unforgiving parameters of the format. And I do mean unforgiving. I had to count number of lines (23) and number of letters on each line (42-51 including punctuation and spaces). I had to be sure to include a twoline Scripture up top and a two- or three-line prayer at the close. My title needed to be to-the-point. And it all needed a one-line wrap up to offer something uplifting to take the reader through the day. How did I keep this freelancing job for more than five years? Early on, I chose to make the process of editing my friend. Most often, I would write long—much longer than I could cram into the template. Then I would get out the machete. Cut. Cut. Cut. To my amazement, the devotions I clipped and polished were infinitely stronger than those I would attempt to prepare using the lazy shortcut of writing to fit the count exactly on the first pass. Write long-long-long and trim-trim-trim. It’s a lesson I’ve carried with me from that day to this, and it has had a powerful impact on my finished prose.

passes I make with my machete, heartlessly killing whole sentences or paragraphs that don’t fit with the purpose. If I am too in love with my words, I create a computer file where I can cut and paste sections I can’t bear to send to cyber oblivion. I seldom return to this file, but I am more willing to do the best for a manuscript if I’m not obsessing about precious words being gone forever. Next, I get out a pocket knife to trim words and phrases that get in the way. Finally, I get out a chamois to do the final polishing for cadence and grammar. On the Art Side Editing has within it elements of both art and science. The great Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo said that when he looked at a block of marble, he saw an image locked inside. His job was to free the majestic David or the emotive Pieta from all the extraneous stone that was blocking it from sight. This imaginative process is one I’ve taken to heart as a writer. As I look at a blank screen or a blank piece of paper, I see what it can become: what message it can convey to a reader; what life-changing impact it can have. I work to unlock that message—to free it from anything that would block it from a reader’s sight.

Going to School on Storytellers A few years ago, one of my clients asked me to edit a Hone Out Redundancies book by professional storyteller John Walsh. I enjoyed Remove redundancies, phrases that take up more room the experience of helping John turn his rough manuthan they need to. For example, “dog puppies” should script into a polished book that continues to sell well. become simply “puppies,” unless we’re talking about But I didn’t only get to teach John a few things about some animal other than a dog having puppies. “Due to publishing, he taught me valuable lessons about storythe fact that” becomes “because.” “Absolutely sure” telling that I’ve since been able to translate to my own becomes “sure.” “Foresee the future” becomes self-editing. “foresee.” You get the idea. In oral storytelling the teller often Order A Com doesn’t consider a story “ready” until Hone Out Clichés plete Guide to he’s told it 100 times. Yes, 100. Yet, Next, I hunt clichés—phrases that were Writing for Pubas I write, I’m tempted to think I have once clever but now are overused. Clilication with a reached never-to-be-improved-upon chés are the lazy way to tell a story. chapter written perfection on the first pass. John God gave each of us a creative mind by Julie-Allyson taught me a great lesson about telling with a unique point of view. He calls us Ieron $15. stories on paper—refining and editing to use that creativity to find a fresh turn and refining more does nothing but -of-phrase that makes a reader think in Order Writers on strengthen communication. a way she’s never done before. A cliché Writing with a What is editing, after all? Taking can’t do that because it’s expected and chapter written pass after pass through a rough piece ordinary. by Julie-Allyson until it has reached a level of refineIn doing this trimming, often (not “quite Ieron, $15. ment approaching perfection. The first often,” which I was tempted to write)



we’re able to free space to add pertinent points or fresh examples. Add Illustrations So, once I’ve cut redundancies and clichés, I have room to add stories that illustrate my points—stories that take abstract concepts and turn them into concrete scenes that have relevance in the reader’s life. For example, in one of the early lessons in the Christian Writers Guild apprentice curriculum, an assignment asks the student to give his salvation testimony. Invariably, most students will write that they “came to Christ.” But they don’t show what that means. So, I ask for a rewrite by noting in the margin, “Show, don’t tell.” I’ll encourage them to put this abstract concept into words that are so well explained and described that any reader (a seeker or a skeptic) will know exactly how to “come to Christ.” They might come back with an edit that reads, “I realized I was hopeless in my sin (I just cut the words “that” and “really” because neither was carrying its weight). As I read John 3:16, I saw that God sent Jesus to solve my sin problem. He lived and died to offer me forgiveness and to make a way for me to have an ongoing relationship with His Father, God. So, I prayed to acknowledge my sin and ask Jesus to forgive me and save me from its consequences. He did. And now I have the privilege of being a child of God.” Yes, concrete example stories do take up more words than a quick telling of the abstract concept. But they add color and vivid life. More important, they tell the reader what she needs to know. Check for Cadence On my final pass through my manuscripts, I often read them aloud. In this reading I not only see typographical errors I’ve glossed over previously, but I’m also able to listen for cadence. Have I used too many long sentences in a row (these lull the reader into monotony). Or have I used too many short sentences in a row (these put the reader into a fevered pace that will exhaust him). Varying the cadence will provide a more pleasing experience for the reader. On the Science Side Now that we’ve used our machetes and our pocket knives, it’s time for the chamois. I use this polishing tool to undertake a less glamorous, more scientific task in the editing process. On this science side is one dreaded word: “grammar.” For you, it may conjure

fearsome scenes of diagramming sentences and conjugating verbs. But poor grammar is a chunk of that ugly, rough stone that blocks communication. There are facts about the language that we’ll need to know and use to our advantage. How do we punctuate a sentence for maximum clarity? Where will a phrase get the most punch and attention? Which verb and which pronoun is correct in context? Our word processor’s grammar checker can help here, but is insufficient. We need to know the facts ourselves to be able to use them effectively. If you’ve studied a non-English language, you’ll recall that these facts change from language to language. As a child, I had a friend whose first language wasn’t English. I can still remember a sentence she used that sent me into hysterics: “Throw me down the stairs my shoes.” In her language, this was the proper structure. But, as you’ve already recognized, when stated this way in English, it sounds like she is asking her shoes to throw her down the stairs. Keeping that image in mind, take a few moments to go through the quiz in the sidebar to this chapter. If you aren’t able to recognize the errors in each sentence, it might be time to hone your grammar skills. A Final Challenge Remember that unforgiving daily devotional format I described at the beginning of this chapter? I’d challenge you to take one of your own articles, perhaps an inspirational piece, and try to fit it into that format using all of the editing tools you’ve now acquired. You’ll be surprised at how much you can say to a reader using a few precise words. I guarantee it’s an exercise that will pay dividends whether you write brief articles or voluminous tomes.

This article first appeared in Writers on Writing, Wesleyan Publishing, and is © 2005 Julie-Allyson Ieron. Direct reprint requests to Joy, Order the book for $15 from Joy Media.



Harnessing Creativity ... In the writing business A few years ago, I read an editorial titled “Does Creative Mean a Little Crazy?” in National Religious Broadcasters magazine. The title made me want to reply with a resounding YES! We creatives see things differently—imagine amazing possibilities—make society’s advancements possible because of our free thinking. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to work within the same structures as other people. We have to keep records, keep clients satisfied, pay bills, track income, and pay taxes. Because of our creativity, it would be easy to allow our freelance writing records to become a jumble of query letters, rewrites, deadlines, payment stubs, and business receipts. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I’ve learned to approach the business side of my work with a creative flair.

has changed four times in five years. Each new person has her own way of operating, and I note these in the profile. One wants the writing long so she can cut it. Another sets a concrete word limit. One provides background. Another expects me to research background. It’s too much to commit to memory, as it changes too often. So, my log rescues me—keeping my mind from clutter and keeping clients satisfied.

Boosting Productivity The first issue is that to my creative mind, setting matters. I’m inefficient in a bland, gray office cubicle. I need a workplace with creative stimuli—color, texture, light, and the right kind of sound. Ringing phones or blaring TVs or water-cooler conversations lead my mind on rabbit trails that keep me from deadlines. So, seven years ago, I moved my office from the lower level (where the eye-level view out my window consisted of watching grass grow ) to the prime location in my home. I have windows on three sides and overlook a forest. I’ve looked out the window to watch deer hungrily grazing on the evergreens outside our fence. It’s bright, cheery, decorated with my favorite things. I splurged on a plush leather chair that sits behind a desk my father designed and built to my measurements. My reference books surround me. It’s a creative haven—and I’ve been more productive here than in any office I’ve had before.

Scheduling by Computer Assistant Next, I’ve had to acknowledge that because of my creativity, I’m a bit (okay, more than a bit) flighty. Details fly through my ears and leave few traces in the gray matter. So, I’ve enlisted an assistant—a computerized one. I use Microsoft Outlook to schedule projects, track tasks, and maintain mileage logs. I open Outlook when I turn on my computer at 7 every morning. And I don’t shut it down until my work day is over (often at 11 p.m.). This helps enable (rather than rein in) my creativity. For example, an entry in Outlook’s “Tasks” section for a writing project will include the editor’s contact information, notes from conversations about the project, excerpts from emails that give direction, a copy of the proposal or query, deadline, suggested sources, a theme statement, opening line or key quote. I keep similarly relevant details in the calendar section for speaking engagements and travel arrangements. Because I synchronize Outlook with my PDA (personal digital assistant), I have this information wherever I go. I’m freer to do the out-of-the-box creative tasks because I’m not bogged down in worrying I’ll forget key details.

The “Client” Mindset Next, although I’d like to think of myself as a free spirit who answers to no one, I’ve learned to consider editors as clients. I want to please clients, to give them what they’re expecting, to make adjustments as they see necessary. (The client is always right!) So, I have a “Client Profiles” folder on my computer where I keep comments on each client and project. I review these when I begin a contracted project, to be sure I’m moving in the direction we’ve agreed upon. I also review them before I agree to a new project with the same client. I look for special instructions, fee structures (do I have to keep an hourly log, or will the client agree to a flat fee?), or changes in contact info. With one client the contact person

A Word on Accounting While I don’t practice accounting without a license, even my creative mind is able to keep records that are up-to-date and useful come tax time. I keep colorcoded Excel logs, (also synchronized with my PDA) for writing projects. Blue is a project assigned but not yet received (say, an editing project whose manuscript is not yet in); red is in process; green is completed and sent but not paid; gray is completed and paid. I have a second log for unassigned projects (queries, proposals, and out-there ideas) noting their state of development and to whom I’ve pitched them.



I keep similar logs for speaking engagements booked and books sold. This is useful when preparing for my next speaking engagement, as I can observe book sale patterns and pack an apt supply of inventory, so I’m neither under- nor overstocked. These logs duplicate data I keep in QuickBooks accounting, where I log expenses and income, print invoices, keep track of credit card statements, print checks, create balance sheets and income statements, and transfer data into my tax software. As much as I despise numbers in general (I’m a word person!), I find

it rewarding to log into QuickBooks and see the financial results of hours of work. You’d be surprised at how often I find myself in the middle of Home Depot with PDA in one hand and mobile phone in the other, talking with a client (editor) about a new project. Only a crazy, creative mind would do the business of a professional writer in the aisle of her local Home Depot store. But it happens—and it’s remarkably freeing—and it’s possible because I’ve taken the reins and worked hard to harness my creativity into a viable business mindset.

 

Where in the past Bible software was often the domain of professional preachers, its usefulness goes so much farther. This WORDsearch Package is amazing for personal quiet times and digging into God’s Word. It’s unmatched as a tool to help us prepare to teach, write or create Bible Studies.—Julie-Allyson Ieron, author/Bible teacher

VIEW PRODUCT DEMO VIDEO ON YOUTUBE! This uniquely powerful CD-ROM collection, includes 75 reference books that are interconnected, cross-referenced and optimized for PC or MAC: --7 Bible translations including ESV, KJV, + more --8 Bible commentaries --5 Bible dictionaries --Strong’s Greek and Hebrew word studies --maps --photos --sermon helps --study notes --topical studies --devotionals --and updated editions of Julie’s well-loved Bible-based books: Prayer: Praying Like Jesus Devotional: Names of Women of the Bible Christian Living: Staying True in a World of Lies Conquering the Time Factor Pearls to Treasure (a new book for 2010) New! Bible Studies for Groups or Individuals: Praying Like Jesus Names of Women of the Bible Staying True in a World of Lies Conquering the Time Factor

$50 per copy, plus tax and shipping: Purchase now!

Julie, I just downloaded your program and barely started checking it out, and I cannot BELIEVE it! I have never had so many tools at my fingertips, without having to lug around my huge concordances and commentaries! Oh my goodness – I am so impressed! Congrats on “giving birth” to such a great resource! Patty Kennedy Associate Web Content Editor National Women's Department General Council of the Assemblies of God


The eBook Gateway A new venue for the technologically savvy author When Christian publishing followed its ABA cousin into the relentless quest for the next blockbuster, books suffered. Good, solid books that failed to receive the kiss of Pixie dust to levitate them into the mega-star stratosphere flew in and out of print at 4G speed. Leaving authors despondent and sometimes clueless. After all, we’ve been entrusted with these book-children of ours. We carried them in our hearts. A publisher helped us birth them, then all too soon unceremoniously dumped them back on us, to languish and die a bargain -priced death in our closets or basements. But today’s technology offers solutions to this author dilemma: electronic publishing, eBooks, for short. Helping our books—both previously printed and previously unpublished—find their way into the ebook marketplace requires a bit of boning up on our end, but it’s a promising endeavor. My Experience While I wasn’t among the first wave to buy into Amazon’s Kindle a few years back, I was intrigued and listened closely whenever a publishing guru talked about the potential (or forecast lack thereof) of this new technology. It seemed to me that it had the potential to grow whole new markets of folks who previously weren’t purchasing books. My suspicions were confirmed when I noticed that my publisher (Moody) released an electronic edition of my 2009 print book, The Overwhelmed Women’s Guide to … Caring for Aging Parents. I watched its Amazon Kindle rankings move dayby-day, so copies were selling. Finally, when the price of dedicated e-readers came down to around $100, I bought one and loaded it with a couple hundred books. I also loaded Kindle reader, Nook reader, and Adobe Digital Editions onto my desktop and laptop computers so I could read on screen wherever possible. (It saves tons of shelf space in my office!) This got me thinking about the potential for several of my out-of-print (OP) books, for which my former publishers had returned all rights to me (caution: don’t try this with books whose rights haven’t returned to you). Where possible, I requested final edited Word or PDF files from the publishers. Then I Googled “ePUB translator program,” which led me to Calibre—a free download from It calls itself a “one-stop solution for all your e-book needs.” And I was amazed—it lived up to its billing. Here was a program that did a pretty good job of taking my files and translating them into any one of the common ebook formats.


Five of Julie’s books are available on Kindle, Nook, and other e-formats. The top four are updated second editions, that include bonus Bible studies.

Now, the early version I used wasn’t without its quirks. For example, it didn’t know what to do with smart quotes (you know, the curly quotes and apostrophes you see in typeset books). It replaced them with strange and otherworldly characters. So, I went back to the Word files and stripped out the fancy quotes, replacing them with straight quotes. Voila! A clean translation. Within hours, five of my OP products were ready to list on my website’s order catalog as eBooks for sale in ePUB and PDF formats (see sidebar for explanations). With the quick addition of a PayPal merchant account, I could accept payment online and upload the files to paid readers the same day. That took care of the Nook (Barnes & Noble), Kobo, and Sony part of the market that could read files in these two key formats. Then, I wanted to tackle Kindle, since it still represents a major player in the market. Although Calibre has a Kindle translator, I discovered that for no charge, Amazon allows published authors to upload Word files, which Amazon itself translates to Kindle format for us. So, I uploaded my books there and set up an author page where Amazon sells my eBooks alongside its other squillion ebook offerings, for a small commission—and pays me the proceeds. This author page also is handy for promoting my blog and listing my upcoming publicity appearances and speaking engagements. Here’s a link, in case you’d like to see how to set one up for yourself: http:// ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0. Alternate Paths to ePUBs Now, I’m fairly savvy, technologically speaking. I enjoy experimenting on my computer and problem solving. But perhaps that’s not you. Fear not. If you are willing to fork up a few dollars, ebook conversion services are multiplying as the field grows. Author Cheri Cowell recently launched E-Conversions. For a base price of $850, Cheri’s group will translate your book to all the ebook formats (even a few more than are listed in the sidebar). But she won’t market them for you. That you’ll do for yourself. Other services like BookMasters, offer not only translations, but marketing and distribution to 50 or more e-retailers. For a larger fee, of course.



Even if you do your own file preparation, you can list and sell your eBooks through Barnes & Noble’s PubIt! Books (usually for a fee). is entering the ebook marketplace with a limited selection of eBooks for purchase and an e-reader app keyed into Adobe Digital Editions, but I don’t know of a selling option there for Christian self-publishers.

Thus was born my electronic, think-outside-the-box wonder, a 75-volume package titled, The Julie-Allyson Ieron Bible Reference Collection powered by WORDsearch’s hot-off-the-presses version 9.0. The moral of this story, then, is to be ever watching new winds in the market, open to technology’s opportunities, and ready to leave old publishing paradigms to the purveyors of mystic Pixie dust.

You probably shouldn’t expect sales into the tens of thousands at first, but the added income of even a smaller number of ebook sales comes in handy—believe me! One Creative Solution Finally, I’ve discovered that the e-reader route is only part of the equation. Options technology has opened for us include audio books (no longer your grandmother’s alternative to inch-thick bifocals), MP3 files to load onto portable audio players, and the exploding market of tablet PCs (market gurus expect 80 of these devices to come to market in 2011) with easy-to-create specialty apps that can help you build readership and markets for your products. Keep your eye on these options as they open to authors in the days ahead. Then there are the quirky, beyond-yourimagination options. For years I’ve done research for my books and articles using Bible software— which, may represent some of the earliest eBooks created. I’ve even been a software reviewer for several periodicals. So, when at a booksellers convention the makers of WORDsearch approached me with the request to license my books in electronic format to launch as a special women’s Bible study edition of their software, I jumped in. After agreeing to their terms, I decided to put together a package to be proud of. I spent six months updating four of my OP books with fresh material, created a companion Bible study book to go with each of them, and assembled a best-of articles book that I titled Pearls to Treasure: Essays, articles and devotions from 25 years of writing about God’s kingdom. That gave us nine first-time-on-Bible-software books to package with my choice of WORDsearch reference tools that laywomen would find valuable like Bibles, commentaries, dictionaries, devotionals, an atlas, etc.

The eBook gateway comes with unique terminology. Here are a few that you’ll want to recognize right away: eBook: the generic word for all electronic books ePUB: format used by many e-reader devices (like Nook, Kobo, Sony) and by free-download e-reader applications for your desktop, laptop, netbook, or smart phone. ePUB is great for these devices, because it flows and adjusts as the reader changes fonts and sizes. Some editions (including the upcoming ePUB3 format) recognize non-English characters as text rather than as graphics. PDF: portable document format. Many e-readers (especially smart phones) can read this format, as well. For graphics-laden documents like magazines, textbooks or children’s books, this is a preferred format since it does not flow like ePUB, but rather looks exactly like the page of a printed edition. Kindle:’s unique format. Their samenamed dedicated e-reader device works with this format. Amazon offers free downloads of a Kindle-format reader for PCs and smart phones. DRM: digital rights management. This is a locking option you might want to add to your ebook, to protect it from being copied, shared, or resold. It’s a copyright guard. DAISY: digital talking book. This is a format designed for visually impaired users, but it is gaining momentum in the general market. ePUB3 claims it will integrate with the DAISY translator, so books can literally read themselves to you.

Julie-Allyson Ieron is celebrating 25 years as an author, writing coach, editor, and conference speaker. Order her eBooks through Amazon (Kindle) or Joy Media (epub/PDF).



  For booking information, contact Joy at To order Julie’s books, software, audio pages or eBooks, visit JOY MEDIA ONLINE

I can hardly believe it’s been 25 years since I saw my first article published. Now, dozens of books and speaking engagements—and I can’t tell you how many articles—later, so much has changed. Yet, my purpose remains unchanged: to challenge and encourage you to seek a deeper, stronger relationship with Jesus Christ. My work with words in print, eBooks, Bible software, even audio books has but one theme: The Word (John 1:1).


Julie-Allyson Ieron

25 years in publishing

This Joy Media Publication © 2011 by Julie-Allyson Ieron. Direct inquiries or reprint requests to To order products mentioned here, visit

Write for Joy e-Zine, Volume 1, Issue 1  
Write for Joy e-Zine, Volume 1, Issue 1  

An e-zine packed with writing tips from 25-year industry veteran Julie-Allyson Ieron. Page upon page of inspiration, challenge, tips on eBoo...