ProTalk Discussion: - 4/19/05


Log file opened at: 4/19/05 5:55:41 PM
*** Verla has set the topic on channel #Kidlit to ProTalk Discussion - Inspirational/Religious Writing - IN PROGRESS
Verla: Ta da!
Verla: We are ready to start
els: yayyy!
Verla: Okay... What's the most important thing you know (or have learned) about writing for the inspirational/religious markets? And... are they the same thing?
els: I don't think inspirational and religious markets are the same thing
Verla: I know that I discovered very quickly that most of today's market aren't looking for heavy "moral" stories
WriterMel: they are NOT the same thing.
Verla: what would the main difference be to you, els? To me, it's that inspirational is something that is "uplifting" where religious is something that is based on ... well, for a better word... religion. <grin>
els: inspirational can have a very secular worldview, whereas religious has a definite base of beliefs
WriterMel: that's true.
Verla: yay. Sounds like I was right then.
WriterMel: Chicken Soup is inspirational...
els: like, the chicken soup books are inspirational
els: jinx
Verla: where would you send your work if it were inspirational, but not necessarily religious?
Verla: LOL... you two answered my question before I even asked it!
NOTE: LOL = Laughing Out Loud
WriterMel: mainstream publishers are always looking for good books.
els: inspirational can go almost anywhere- news papers, magazines, etc
Verla: ah ha....
els: religious writing would have a more defined focus
Verla: when writing religious stories, is it usually necessary to target one specific religion?
WriterMel: yes and no.
Verla: or can you write "generic" for a wider base?
els: much more defined, making sure you get the particular denominations right for the slant your work would have
WriterMel: (mho)
NOTE: mho = my humble opinion
WriterMel: There are publishers that are considered religious, but aren't necessarily Christian... like the Jewish faith, for example.
els: like, a story for Lutheran kids might not fly in a Mormon publication
Verla: very true, mel
Verla: ah... good point, els
Verla: (do you write for religious markets, pick?)
WriterMel: Researching your markets applies double here, I'd think.
pickles: my first sales were to religious publications, verla
Verla: I thought so, pick!
Verla: Aren't there some special market guidebooks that target religious markets?
pickles: about a dozen credits with Standard publishing
pickles: Sally Somebody
pickles: has a Christian Writers Market Place book
WriterMel: Yes.
pickles: can't remember her name
WriterMel: Sally Stuart's Christian Writer's Guide
pickles: I used to correspond with her ages ago..
pickles: that's it
WriterMel: Extremely well organized.
Verla: Standard is a religious market? For any particular religion?
WriterMel: best writing market book I've ever read.
pickles: I used to co-moderate the Christian Writers Chat on AOL years ago
Verla: oh, thanks, mel. That will be a very big help
els: I need to look for that
WriterMel: primarily Baptist, Verla.
pickles: I don't think for a particular one...
els: is it just for kids writers, or adult too?
pickles: oh okay
pickles: Mel knows
pickles: I wrote for the Children's Take Home Papers
WriterMel: both, and for novels, short stories, articles...
Verla: what's primarily Baptist, mel? The writing book? Or Standard publishing?
pickles: I've been trying to break into Pockets...which is primarily Methodist
Verla: wow... you have gotten around, pickles
pickles: I wroter for RADAR which later became KidzChat
pickles: and LiveWire
WriterMel: Standard Publishing.
Verla: thanks, Mel
pickles: puzzles, articles, poems, and stories
pickles: that's all I've done with Standard Publishing
Verla: Is the pay a lot less than for secular magazines?
pickles: well, typical of a small magazine
pickles: under 10 cents a word
pickles: but this was from 1995-1999
WriterMel: pay for Christian markets are much lower.
pickles: typical of small magazines...3 to 7 cents
pickles: I think I got around 7 cents
WriterMel: Many writers will start in Christian, then go onto the better paying secular markets.
pickles: I made about $50 per story
Verla: okay. So the pay hasn't gotten a whole lot better since I first researched religious markets over ten years ago. Or... wait... maybe it has. Seems like back then it was 1¢ a word!
WriterMel: But I've always written novels, this is just from what I've gathered from the various lists I belong to.
Verla: Oh, that's more than I made selling to Humpty Dumpty and Turtle magazines (way back when)
pickles: it's about on par with WeeOnes or other small publications
pickles: but then they started wanting shorter and shorter stories
pickles: and now those magazines don't take freelance work
pickles: they are recycling
WriterMel: Yes, but Verla, as the cost of living rises, pay rises.
Verla: aren't there some good religious writing listservs out there, too?
WriterMel: Yes!!
els: yes, there are. grin
WriterMel: I know of several.
Verla: can you share them with us? Are they all with YahooGroups?
WriterMel: Yes, Verla.
els: one of them is WritersfortheKing, which Mel and I co-moderate
WriterMel: there is CCWL (Christian Children's Writers List), which I started, but Jennifer, editor of Wee Ones, took over years ago.
els: wftK is a Yahoogroup
Donna: cool. I've never heard of that one
WriterMel: WritersfortheKing is for both children and adult markets.
WriterMel: and there's Faith Writers for Children, but not too sure how that's phrased. It's new.
Donna: will you tell me more about the wftK and CCWL?
Donna: I meant tell US...(Donna, trying not to be selfish!)
els: Writersfor theKing is a listserve for Christian fantasy/scifi writers
WriterMel: WritersfortheKing is for fantasy writers who are Christians.
Agy: Okay, is there anything in fantasy that is a hard sell or no go in the Christian market?
pickles: Do most of you write only for religious markets or do you crossover and do some secular stuff?
Verla: wow... I never thought of fantasty and sci fi as bing christian based!
els: we have writers of both adult and kidlit fantasy
els: hehe- a lot of fantasy is faith based
WriterMel: CCWL is for Christian Writers of Kids material, whether the material be secular or Christian.
pickles: yes, what specifically makes a fantasy Christian
WriterMel: oho - I'd say fantasy is HOT in the Christian market right now.
els: well, the basic tenets of Christianity- Christian themes, makes fantays Christian
els: mine have a thread of redemption
pickles: but those could be in a lot of things
WriterMel: Read: DragonSpell (and it's upcoming sequel) by Donita Tompkins.
pickles: aha! okay that's what I was looking for
ponytailmo: like Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Classic Christian story. right?
WriterMel: Also read: Dragons in Our Midst series, by Bryan Davis.
pickles: yeah, that
els: yes, they could- there is specifically Christian writing, and stuff that might be considered crossover
WriterMel: Yes, PTM, but there's LOTS of new books out there.
pickles: I became disillusioned with the Christian market years ago...because the quality seemed so low
WriterMel: the series and the books above are getting much acclaim right now.
pickles: is it getting better?
WriterMel: pickles - read those books, you won't be disappointed.
Verla: which books do you recommend reading, mel?
els: the quality of Christian books is rising dramatically
pickles: is it better than Perretti?
pickles: that is good
WriterMel: Perritti doesn't write fantasy.
pickles: I was just talking about Christian books in general
WriterMel: unless you consider The Oath fantasy.
Agy: are Christian fantasy pretty much carried in Christian (specialty) stores or is the distribution broader than that?
Donna: thanks..I will definitely try. I will just leave the chat on in case she decides to sleep and I get to come back
els: the distribution is growing, Agy
WriterMel: In my opinion, yes, they're as good.
pickles: oh..well I didn't think Peretti was very good : )
els: more and more people are becoming interested in faith based books, whether they believe it or not
pickles: I was hoping that they would be better
els: most major chains are carrying Christian/crossover novels now
WriterMel: These books are terrific, pickles.
WriterMel: They are better, imo, than Peretti's kids' books.
Agy: That's why they need to publish els, Pickles!
els blushes
Verla: I think els is a great writer!
WriterMel: I really enjoy Peretti's spiritual warfare books.
Agy: Seconded and thirded
els: I loved Peretti, too
ratty: forthed(?)
WriterMel: And, Els, hopefully, will soon be among the published, because she's AWESOME.
Agy: as in go forth, ratty, lol
Verla: :-)
WriterMel: Bryan's third book, Circle of Seven, is the BEST of the three.
JKC: Yay, Els.
Verla: That's a very interesting title
pickles: what's the name of them again Mel
WriterMel: very action packed... I stayed up all night reading it.
Verla: all night? ALL night?
Verla faints
WriterMel: DragonSpell, by Donita K. Tompkins (sequel should be out this month)
pickles: I'lll check for them on cbd
WriterMel: Yes, ALL night (and you know how I LOVE my sleep).
pickles: I thought Bryan somebody wrote them
WriterMel: Bryan Davis's series: Dragons in Our Midst.
Agy: DragonSpell, I love Dragon books
pickles: would someone who doesn't like fanatsy, like them?
els: DragonSpell is lovely, Agy
WriterMel: Bryan wrote a series: Dragons in Our Midst.
Agy: I gotta read more
Agy: lol
WriterMel: the third of his series is Circle of Seven, the BEST of the three (I was privileged to receive an ARC)
NOTE: ARC = Advanced Reader’s Copy - a pre-publication copy of a book
Agy: Is there such a thing as Christian romance? and is romance as hot as it was?
WriterMel: His are "modern" day fantasy, no "magic" if you will. But excellent reading for the younger teens.
Agy: Not that I would know anything about romance, lol
pickles: oh yeah, I remember Christian romance
els: There is Christian Romance, Agy, but I don’t care for it.
pickles: I've read a few
WriterMel: Yes, Agy, there are loads and loads and loads of Christian Romance.
pickles: more of a realistic fantasy
JKC: I've read Christian romance...
WriterMel: very popular.
pickles: Gilbert Morris
els: Janette Oke writes a lot of it
Agy: I've heard her name
els: the Love Comes Softly books
WriterMel: Not sure if I would consider Oke romances, though.
pickles: there was a heart series too, wasn't there?
WriterMel: Gilbert Morris, either.
els: western romances
pickles: I don't much like romance either
Agy: ha, that's what I've been doing wrong, that hogtying and branding hmmm
pickles: hmmm, I read some of his I'd call romance
WriterMel: Gilbert Morris writes good kids' books, too. (better than his adult books)
WriterMel: Ozark Adventure series (triology) is outstanding.
pickles: really, at the time I was reading from the Christian market I thought his was one of the best
WriterMel: and Race Against Time (science fiction)
pickles: I just remember Gilbert Morris adult books were the only ones in the genre I could hmmmm...tolerate
pickles: and the Thoene's
pickles: it's been several years since I read from the genre
Verla: I like romance books, but don't like the ones that are full of sexually explicit scenes. Do the Christian romance have the warm fuzzies in them of love without the graphic love scenes?
Agy: I've not read Christian children's books as opposed to anything else, is there anything different about them besides the underlying tenets of Christianity is the bones?
WriterMel: Some do, Verla... some don't... that market is changing.
WriterMel: Have you read any of the mysteries?
Agy: Maybe I'll pick up a few for next winter's reading, just to see
WriterMel: You're missing some great writing.
pickles: I haven't read adult books in years
WriterMel: Agy, I HIGHLY recommend Bryan Davis & Donita Tomkins, if you like fantasy.
pickles: I'm not into mystery either, who would you recommend
JKC: You mean they write adult books still?
Verla: Okay. I gotta know. Why would a mystery be considered a Christian mystery... and not just a plain old myster? What would be in it that would make it Christian?
Agy: I do, I think I've seen Bryan Davis at Borders
WriterMel: I read lots and lots and lots of books!
pickles: LOL Jayme
pickles: I haven't read adult books in ages
WriterMel: there is basically ONE difference between Christian and secular books.
pickles: I mostly read mg's
WriterMel: the main characters are Christian... and there's really very little "Christianity" in much of what's published today.
Agy: Me neither, pickles. Kids books and how-tos references
pickles: so Mel tell me some good writers...literary ones, preferably from the Christian genre
Agy: the eyeballs are going
WriterMel: Pickles: Alton Gansky.
els: one of my favorite Christian writers is Stephen Lawhead
pickles: i meant preferable literary ones
els: his Arthur cycle is unbelievable
Agy: as in Morte?
els: you betcha
Agy: coolbeans
WriterMel: Also: Gilbert Morris (kids books), the Eric Sterling: Secret Agent series is very good.
WriterMel: Eric Sterling isn't written by Gilbert Morris, btw.
els: starts with Taliesin, then Merlin, then Arthur, and there are a couple more books after that
els: and he is carried in all major chains
WriterMel: I'm trying to think of a mid-grade Christian series you would really like, pickles.
Agy: Would they mind? I'd like to, after August, I should have some reading time
WriterMel: I have all 16 of his books. He's the same guy who wrote the tv show "Grizzly Adams", but I can't think of his name.
els: I could let them know you were coming
Agy: Loved Grizzly Adams
WriterMel: then you'd love his two series, Agy.
Agy: Yah, I should do that. I find myself wanting to drive that way sometimes anyhow boohooo
Agy: Jeremiah Johnson
Agy: same flavor
kimmar: i loved Grizzly Adams too!
WriterMel: There's the "Great American Adventure" series about a young girl who accidentally gets left behind.
WriterMel: and there's another series he wrote, of which I can only think of ONE of the books: Dooger.
WriterMel: Oh!
WriterMel: The Hair Pulling Bear Dog (that's the first book)
Verla: If you had one piece of advice for someone wanting to start writing for the religious and/or inspirational markets, what would it be? (question is to everyone who currently writes for this market)
WriterMel: but there are many, many good Christian books out there, for adults, teens & younger kids.
pickles: study market...especially for kids magazines
pickles: varies by magazine...some what the religion more over than others
Verla: what are the best religious magazines?
pickles: varies by denomination
pickles: as somebody brought up earlier
WriterMel: Put your heart into your story... write for your target audience.
Verla: any that you each feel are best to write for? Easier to break into, better pay, etc.?
pickles: for example don't have them going to church on Sunday for a Seventh Day Adventist magazine
WriterMel: Group Publishing does an outstanding job of reaching many different denominations.
pickles: Pockets is a good children's magazine
pickles: and GP4K
Verla: do those publishers have websites?
WriterMel: and I would read/study the Spiritual Matters articles on Jan Field's website for magazine writing.
pickles: yes
WriterMel: many do nowadays, Verla.
pickles: Pockets has monthly themes
pickles: GP4K is ONLY online now
pickles: the pockets one is sorta hard to's connected to guideposts
Verla: wow... interesting!
pickles: brb and I'll get the URL
Verla: oh, thank you, Pick!
pickles: Pockets also holds an annual contest
pickles: going on NOW
Donna: I am back for a minute...
Verla: ah ha...
pickles: accepting subs for contest from March to August
WriterMel: Jan's site:
joanclr: What type of contest, Pickles?
Verla: we're talking about the best websites/publishers for these markets right now, Donna
Agy: Pockets is LOVELY, I think the interview I did with the art director is still up at kidmagwriters
Verla: pick went to get the URL for the contest, joan
WriterMel: A writer friend of mine is now currently the monthly columnist, and he's got some very good articles planned.
Donna: I have not been accepted by gp4k (yet) but Roseanne Tolin seems to be a very nice editor. Email submissions are answered pretty quickly, usually.
els: Kevin, Mel?
WriterMel: Yes, Els.
ratty: Gotta go... might be back :)
pickles: children's writing contest
pickles: for Pockets
Verla: oh, thanks, pick!
pickles: I just gave the link to Pockets
joanclr: cool, these are some great places to check out
pickles: that's guideposts for kids
Agy: Hey Della!
WriterMel: Sally Stuart is online, too.
Verla: these URL's are wonderful! Thank you!
WriterMel: and also, Sandy's site:
Della: Hi everyone!
WriterMel: gives tons of info on all publishers, secular & religious.
pickles: There's also On the Line, and My little friend
WriterMel: (with links, too, I believe)
pickles: our own AM has a story online with On the Line right now
Verla: There's some good information on the message board on my website, too. It can be found in the Religious board, which if I remember correctly can be seen after you have become a full member of the board (have posted 50+ times and been "upped" by one of the administrators to a full member.)
pickles: the Pockets contest carries a $1000 prize
pickles: if that's incentive for you
Verla: wow... that's an awesome prize!
pickles: the contest has been around for years
Agy: Yah, that's incentive alrightie!
WriterMel: yes, Pockets is a top mag.
pickles: I've come close with them, but no cigar
els: yes, there are some great posts on that board, Kia
pickles: had a few postcards from them
Verla: Erk! Only ten minutes left for this discussion! Does anyone have any questions they need/want to have answered... or anyone have anything they want to share? If so, speak soon or forever hold your piece....
pickles: they do cards kinda like highlights to let you know things are being held
pickles: wow, that was quick
JKC: Time just flys.
Agy: It certainly does
pickles: so when you write for the Christian market..what is your main write material for Christians...or to evangalize or is it a bit of both
Verla: It goes very quickly (time does) when you are having a good discussion with lots of interesting things being shared. :-)
els: it depends, kay
els: on the focus of the magazine
els: or the book
els: mine are a little of both
WriterMel: I'd say to write the BEST story I can write.
els: not a hit them over the head repent message, but...
pickles: are you trying to reach a secular audience also
JKC: Good point, Mel. Well said...well spoken.
els: if they take it that way, cool, lol
Della: I know there are certain publishers that 'specialize' in religious PBs, but do you find that most trade publishers will take on religious PBs?
WriterMel: and like every other writer, to send a message, but primarily one of hope and redemption.
Verla: most of the time, shouldn't your "message" be through the actions and reactions of the characters in the story, though.. rather than "spelled out" in a tacked on moral to the story?
WriterMel: I think right now that many of the "mainstream" publishers are joining with Christian publishers to produce books that can be sold in any market.
els: and yes, Story is most important- even in something as important as the themes you are writing, the story must be excellent, not preachy, etc
WriterMel: Just like any other writing, Verla. (GRIN)
pickles: I agree els, I haven't read many like that, and that's why I gave up on the genre
WriterMel: Show, Don't Tell! (or in the case of Christian - Show, Don't Preach!)
els: because primarily, fiction books are for entertainment
Donna: That is something I am working toward. NOT preaching...but still reaching!
Donna: :)
pickles: LOL Mel...that's good
els: whether Christian or secular
Verla: Oh, neat phrase, mel. I like that
els: yes, Donna!
JKC: Yes, Mel...LOL.
Verla: oooh, another good phrase, donna!
WriterMel: Title of an article I wrote.
pickles: cool
Donna: :)
WriterMel: oho - GOOD one, Donna!
pickles: I'm not much for reading that is overtly evangelical
Verla: Show, don't preach. Not preaching, but still reaching.
Verla: they go great together!
WriterMel: heh- it HAS been awhile since you've read Christian, pickles!
WriterMel: Not much "Christian" content in the current books...
Donna: * (Donna giving Mel a High 5)
pickles: that is a good one
pickles: about ten years, Mel
WriterMel: unless you consider prayer overtly Christian in a book.
pickles: no
pickles: maybe closer to 12
NiMan: I think, when you're trying to send a Christian message in your writing, you should say what you mean, and mean what you say
NiMan: and that in itself can help you say it the right way
Agy: I like that Donna, Reach don't Preach
WriterMel: Oh, most definitely, NiMan! I agree!
WriterMel: Reach, Don't Preach... Show, Don't Preach.
els: another thing, too- if you are going to write about a Christian theme, make sure you are either living it, or trying to live it
WriterMel: Show & reach, don't preach!
WriterMel: I agree, Els.
Donna: YES, Els!
Verla: (or else you better have a vivid imagination for someone who is living that life-style, eh?)
WriterMel: Donna, if you like fantasy, you should join Els & my list: WritersfortheKing.
WriterMel: It's that basic, Verla, "write what you know"
WriterMel: if you don't live it, you can't know it... not truly.
Verla: very true, mel
Donna: I am going to have to check that out. C.S. Lewis is my fave.
els: right, and if you are writing something that you know you ought to be doing, but won't...
WriterMel: Oh, you'd fit right in, Donna... GRIN...
JKC: then you shouldn't be writing it...
Donna: do you have a link for that or did I miss it?
els: exactly
els: its a Yahoo group, Donna- writersfortheking
Verla: yikes. Can you believe our hour is already UP?
Donna: I have enjoyed it so much.
els: thansk for this talk, kia!
els: thanks
pickles: thanks kia
WriterMel weeps and wails
JKC: Thanks, Kia.
pickles: I'm browsing cbd now
WriterMel: amazon has their books, pickles.
Verla: Great workshop, people!
Donna: heehee...
pickles: I prefer cbd
els: wow- we made it to the end of an hour and no one brought up the Left Behind books!
els: oops, I just did
pickles: I try not to order from amazon anymore than I have to
Verla: okay, els. What are the Left Behind books?
Verla: I gotta know.
Della: Why not, Pickles?
els: lol, Kia
els: they are the biggest, hottest selling Christian series out
WriterMel: If you like End Times books.
pickles: okay Mel something totally NOT like Left Behind...what do you ahve to recommend
WriterMel: do you like fantasy?
WriterMel: what do you like to read, pickles?
pickles: No, not heavy fantasy
pickles: not anymore
WriterMel: ok - hmm.
pickles: Like I said I haven't read adult books in ages
WriterMel: Ozark Adventure triology by Gilbert Morris...
pickles: is that for kids or adults
WriterMel: It's very amusing.
WriterMel: kids.
WriterMel: you want kids or adult?
pickles: okay.....
pickles: not's been so long since I've read adult :)
pickles: I mostly read mg's
NOTE: mg = MidGrade book
NiMan: wow, I have to look up some book stuff *just realized*
WriterMel: Then, you'll want:
WriterMel: Ozark Adventures (a triology) by Gilbert Morris.
WriterMel: He also has a mild sci-fi triology called Race Against Time that's pretty good.
Verla: Good workshop!
els: thank you, Verla!
JKC: Thanks for all the input Els and Mel.
pickles: yes thanks els and mel
WriterMel: and you, too, pickles!
Agy: I do have to digress just a moment, because the reason I came, Verla was named to Writer’s Digest's top 100 website list AGAIN
Verla: Yes, I know, agy. Thanks for mentioning it! I'm really thrilled about it.
ponytailmo: YEAH Verla!!!
Verla: and our message board hits per day have gone up from an average of 4000 to 6000 a day to 8000 to 12000 per DAY since WD magazine with the 101 Best Websites for Writers list came out!
WriterMel: If you don't particularly like fantasy, you would enjoy Bryan's books more.
Agy: Wow
JKC: That's impressive, Verla.
Verla puffs up and becomes worried she's getting conceited...
Agy: Not our Verla!
JKC pops her with a pin.
Agy: LOL
Verla: POW! zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzwap! (Thanks for popping me, Jayme)
Agy: LOL
Verla: Thanks for coming, everyone!
*** Verla has set the topic on channel #Kidlit to Writers & Illustrators of Children's Literature Meet Here Nightly - Welcome!

Verla Kay
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