Those Dang Participles!

Hang tight, because this one can get a little convoluted (but it’s important!).

Participles of verbs usually introduce subordinate clauses, and are used as a way to give extra information about the main part of the sentence (or main clause—the “point”). The participle describes an action carried out by the subject of the main clause. Sound confusing? Here’s an example:

“Peter, slowly tiptoeing down the hall, successfully snuck past his parents’ door.”

Here, the present participle (tiptoeing) is referring to the subject in the main clause (the fact that Peter snuck past his parents’ door).

Sometimes, however, we forget this rule and dangle the participle—meaning it doesn’t properly refer to the subject of the sentence. Doing this is grammatically incorrect. Here’s an example:

“Traveling to Morocco, the weather got hotter and hotter.”

If you were to read this literally (and follow participle use rules), this sentence would be saying that the weather is traveling to Morocco. Of course not! If the sentence were reworded to have to the participle referring to the subject, it would make more sense. For example:

“Traveling to Morocco, I found that the weather got hotter and hotter.”

We hope this helps you better understand participles and their use! As always, keep writing–and read, read, read to help improve your grammar skills!

This post was written by Inspira’s Managing Editor, Heather Sipes.

(c) 2018  All Rights Reserved.

New Book Launch: “Am I Loved?”

The Inspira Team is proud to announce the launch of Shawn Petree’s book, Am I Loved? Petree_cover_frontThe Question You Might Not Know You’re Asking.

Shawn is a dynamic writer, speaker, and storyteller—a passionate ministry leader, teacher, husband, and father. In his book, he addresses the question many of us grapple with (and that some of us may not even know we’re asking) internally: am I loved? Shawn shares with readers his deeply personal experience with this question, and his passion for helping others find the answer is abundantly clear.

Shawn wants to help the reader answer other questions as well, such as: Is what the world says about me true? If I can’t love myself, how can others? What do I need to do to be loved? Who am I, anyway? His aim is to help tear down the destructive, self-loathing thoughts that so many of us play on a loop in our head. It’s a warm and provocative invitation to break free of the negative self-talk that tears people down, with detailed instructions on how to do so.

photo-5178553797836800The process in which Shawn’s book came to publication is a perfect example of Inspira’s “idea in head to book in hand” promise. He took advantage of the concept coaching service we offer, where he received coaching from the Inspira team on his book concept, layout and organization, voice, style, and more. From there, we completed a chapter-by-chapter developmental edit, working closely with him to perfect his voice every step of the way.

Since the launch of Am I Loved? on January 9th earlier this month, the book has already been fifth on Amazon’s Hot New Releases list of Spiritual Self-Help books on Kindle! It’s being welcomed with high acclaim by readers of all ages and backgrounds. If you would like to know more about Shawn’s book, his ministry, and his mission, you can ShawnPetree-1visit If you’d like to purchase the book (either paperback or Kindle), you can find it here:

It has been a joy and pleasure to work with Shawn on his project, and we hope you’ll check out his work and read the book.



Becoming Book Launch Party

On October 2nd, the Inspira team had the honor of attending the book launch party for one of our amazing authors—Super Bowl-winning former Seahawk, Clint Gresham. Clint’s first book, Becoming: Loving the Process to Wholeness, was released that same day and is available on

clint-book-launch-1002The venue for the launch party was a 114-foot yacht—Karina Jean—moored on beautiful Lake Washington near Seattle, which was generously provided by a friend to host all 50 guests. The Cascade Mountains silhouetted against the setting sun were a gorgeous backdrop to the catered event, which provided  delicious hors de ’oeuvres as guests sipped on drinks and enjoyed the view.

At the end of the night, Clint spoke to the gathering about his heart for Becoming, his mission, and his hopes and dreams for the future. It was an absolute delight for our team clint-book-launch-1064to be a part of the evening and hear him speak, as he is definitely gifted with words! We closed the night with a moment of prayer for Clint and his wife, Matti, as they embark on a nation-wide book tour for a couple of months. (Clint and Matti live in Dallas, Texas.)

Clint’s book, Becoming, starts a conversation with the reader about identity, and the parts of ourselves in which we find our greatest worth. The book asks really important questions, such as: Do we matter? If so, why? Who are we becoming? Who do we want to become? Becoming is about learning to love yourself and fully embracing the unique destiny you were made for.

Clint uses his experience as a professional football player to highlight the importance of NOT placing your identity in what you do, but rather in who you are. It’s a powerful and transformational message for people of all ages and walks of life.

clint-book-launch-1083It was a joy to partner with Clint in bringing Becoming to print. He is a passionate man of integrity and his words are bound to change thousands of lives—maybe even yours!



Writing a Non-Fiction Book Proposal

aaron-burden-90144Writing a book proposal (and knowing what to do with it) is an incredibly important process that all authors and aspiring authors should have down pat. A literary agent can receive hundreds if not thousands of proposals each year.  Very few of those make it past the slush pile, even fewer actually get their manuscripts read.  That’s why it’s important to nail down the ability to deliver a powerful proposal for your manuscript.

When writing your proposal, there are six things that are paramount:

  1. Develop a one-sentence summary of your book. Not only will you use this to interest and engage potential publishers, but it will become your “elevator pitch” when others ask you about your book.
  2. You’ll need to convince publishers why your book (or idea) is a marketable product. This is the MOST IMPORTANT aim of the proposal. What is your idea/vision/mission? Why is it unique? How will it help or impact others? In this case, the creativity and prose of your writing matters less than the actual business impact (or marketability) or your book.
  3. Be sure to identify your target audience. Avoid blanket statements like “football fans,” or, “Christians in America.” Those are far too broad. Who specifically will read it, and why do they care about your book? You need to make the market clear for the potential publisher.
  4. Share freely about yourself (author bio). Who are you? Why are you an expert on this topic? Why are you credible, and what is your experience (e.g., you’re a blogger with 2,000 hits a day, you have a degree in metaphysics, you’re a mom of three and an ordained minister, you’ve spent the last four years researching search engine optimization, etc. Share facts that are relevant to your book.). Cite any other previously published work.
  5. Create a table of contents (or chapter outline). Even if your manuscript is not complete, it’s important to have a chapter outline, and a brief synopsis of the contents of each chapter. Demonstrate to publishers that your book is organized, has a cohesive theme, and an obvious beginning, middle, and end.
  6. Research existing competition. What other books out there are similar to your work? Are there any title similarities? How is your book different from what’s already on the market? Why will consumers buy your book over the others?

Here are three excellent sites with good information about developing an effective book proposal; we recommend you read all of them:


Start Here: How to Write a Book Proposal


How to Write a Book Proposal


Write a Book Proposal That Leaves Publishers Begging to Publish You


Remember, the BEST way to learn is by doing. Just reading these posts isn’t going to give you the skills you need to write a concise, well-phrased, and persuasive proposal. You will not be convincing of how important your book’s message is unless you PRACTICE. Also consider having other people in your life (friends, spouses, professors, etc.) read your proposal and share their thoughts. Feedback can be an incredibly constructive part of this process!

How to Develop Your Book’s Purpose Statement

Are you thinking about writing a book? If you’re feeling inspired, motivated, or simply have a message you want to share with the world, then maybe checking “author” off on your resume is in your near future. We couldn’t be more excited for you!

One of the most crucial steps in the book-writing process (potentially even THE most important step) is developing your book’s objective. Every book (except for fiction work) needs a clear and defined objective as it provides direction, organization, and gives readers a “take-away.”

In order to determine the objective of your book, ask yourself these questions: What do I hope people will gain by reading it? What do I have to say that is unique? Why is my mission or message important? Who are my readers? How will my book impact their lives?

At Inspira, we’ve developed a simple formula to help our authors create a purpose statement for their book. Once you’re ready, you can use this formula (as well as the questions listed above) to dial in your point and start writing with definitive purpose:

If. . . (Insert here the kind of people who will be reading your book, or your target audience. What is their gender, age, socioeconomic status? What are their interests? )

Read. . . (Insert your working title here. Read here for tips on naming your book.)

They will overcome. . . (Insert what you see as the readers’ main need or obstacle.)

And ultimately achieve/experience/be able to. . .  (Insert the unique benefit or “take-away” you’re providing.)

Example purpose statement:

“If young millennials (age 18-25) read my book, 10 Steps to Getting Your Perfect Job, they will overcome joblessness, boredom, and anxiety, and achieve the skills they need such as determination, charisma, and flexibility to land their dream job in their ultimate career field.”

Your message is important and deserves to be shared with the world. If you’ve been considering writing a book but aren’t sure where to start, this could be the step you need to take. As always, Inspira Literary Solutions is available for consultations, writing coaching, developmental editing, copy editing, design, and even book production.

Happy writing!

Inspira Abroad


Recently we had the incredible opportunity to take our work abroad and we wanted to share the adventure with you all!

In January, (Assistant Editor) Heather and I (Arlyn) traveled to England to work with one of our clients there. Kate Chislett, who owns the Instrumentally Music Studio in Ascot with her husband David, has developed an innovative (and fun!) preschool music curriculum, and we have had the delightful privilege of helping publish it.


Heather and Kate in the Instrumentally Studio in Ascot

For several days we worked with Kate both on and off-site, drawing from the inspiration of the studio (a fabulous place!) and Kate’s passion and creativity for her topic – infusing a love for and foundational knowledge 0f music into young children. Alligator A, Bunny B, Catty C and other characters like Mrs. Crotchet and Miss Minim are springing to life in Carnival Zoo with illustrations by designer Brianna Showalter.


Meet “Froggy F” on the musical scale!

But a trip abroad wouldn’t be complete without taking time to see the sights, would it?!  We took a few days to see London:


Heather meets a Beefeater at the Tower of London


Art appreciation at the National Gallery 

 … and even squeezed in a quick trip to Paris:


The Arc de Triomphe


What’s Paris without the cappuccinos and the croissants…?


… and pastries and macarons!


Shopping on the Champs d’Elysees


And a visit to a bookshop cafe … of course!

I also had the privilege of speaking to a group of parents in Ascot, who invited me to come share some parenting tips from our Parenting for the Launch book:


At All Souls Church in Ascot, UK

We were certainly a little tired when we came back from our whirlwind trip, but more than that, we came back inspired! It was a tremendous opportunity to work with an amazing client with an inspirational and exciting publishing project, be inspired by incredible sights and people, and have the joy of some inspiring mother-daughter time in London and Paris.

It’s no coincidence that our name is Inspira; it is meaningful to us on so many levels. We love our work!

Arlyn Lawrence is the founder and president of Inspira Literary Solutions. She loves books, travel, people, and books.  And books. 

Who Me, Write a Book?

“Why should I write a book? There are so many others out there already. How can I possibly have anything new to say on the topic?”

This is probably one of the most frequent objections I hear from would-be authors, many times leaders in their fields who have been urged to think about writing a book. They ask, What do I have to contribute that someone else hasn’t already?

inspira-10-6-2016To a certain extent, this is true. There probably IS someone somewhere who has already said what you have to say. As they say, there is very little new under that sun. But, that being said, no one else will say it quite like you! And no one else has the unique audience you have.

All of us have a “tribe,” a group of people that looks to us for direction, insight, wisdom, authority, or “how to” on a particular topic. Your tribe may be small (e.g., your family). It may be medium size (say, you are a community leader or you own a small business or pastor a congregation, etc.). Or, your “tribe” may be large (e.g., you are a thought leader in your industry, a well known professional athlete, or a celebrity in one regard or another). Whatever the size and scope of your sphere, these are people for whom you are uniquely positioned with something to offer. This is why your book, no matter what the topic, will have something unique to offer your particular tribe.

What does your tribe want to hear from you? They look to you for:

  • how to/teaching on a particular topic
  • encouragement
  • your perspective
  • direction
  • life wisdom
  • your story (ies) or experience(s)

Having a particular demographic in mind makes writing a book a whole lot more meaningful and compelling. Plus, identifying your own tribe is helpful for a number of reasons:

  1. It helps clarify your target audience (helpful for marketing your book, and/or in submitting it to an agent or publisher if you choose to traditionally publish your book)
  2. It sets you up as a thought leader in your industry or area of expertise
  3. It can be a powerful marketing tool for your business, program, or product
  4. It can be an effective motivator for the discipline of writing since you’re writing with real people in mind

So, if you’re contemplating (or in the process of) writing a book, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is my tribe?
  • For what kind of information, insight, encouragement, or expertise do they look to me?
  • How am I already delivering that to them?
  • How could a book in hand make that process simpler or more satisfying?
  • How could writing a book get my message to more people?
  • How could that impact my business, product, or program?
  • What steps should I take now that I’ve identified my tribe and what they need from me?

Chances are, there is an audience just waiting to hear your message, uniquely from you! And a book is one of the best ways to deliver it.

Arlyn Lawrence is a developmental editor and the founder of Inspira Literary Solutions. She has written and published books of her own, but gets considerably more joy out of helping other people write and publish theirs.

Workshop Wrap Up

You may remember back in June we hosted our first workshop, “So You Have a Story, Now What?” Participants ranging from business leaders to creatives came from all over with a story idea, looking for the tools and inspiration they needed to start writing (or to finish!) a book.

But writing is only half the story. How do you go from getting your ideas onto paper to getting your book into the hands of your readers? What does that process look like? Where to start? We answered these questions in part two of our workshop, “Steps to Publishing Your Manuscript.”


There are many ways to publish, print, distribute, and market a book (probably as many ways as there are books). The trick is to figure out what works for your particular book and audience (or “tribe”). As a boutique book development company, this is what Inspira does best. From whatever stage a book is in when people bring their project to us, we work to find the unique and perfect strategies to bring the project to fruition and make it a success.

We wanted to provide a condensed and more accessible way to offer practical tools, information, and inspiration to authors. Ergo, the workshop! Once again, we met at the Gig Harbor Marina overlooking the water and were blessed with a perfect Indian summer day. In fact, by the time we had lunch, it was a perfect 75 degrees. Nothing beats eating fish and chips by the water on a sunny day!


One thing we think is unique about Inspira is that, while our clients are all authors, they are not all necessarily writers. We believe each client has a unique message to share, and a unique tribe with which to share it. This workshop’s participants included fiction writers, businessmen and women, artists, and community leaders.

Some participants came to the workshop because they have always wanted to write a book and wanted to find out more about the process. Others came with several published books under their belts, seeking how to best market and network. No matter what stage of the process someone was in, we wanted to make sure they left with the action steps and encouragement they needed!


At the end of the workshop, each and every person had a plan of action and said they felt encouraged in the pursuit of their dreams. “What a wealth of knowledge,” one participant told us afterwards, “Arlyn and Kerry had nuggets of pure literary gold and shared with a passion that inspired. I highly recommend any workshop that Inspira offers to current and aspiring authors.”

Our next workshop will be part one again, “Writing and Refining Your Book Manuscript,” on Saturday, January 28th, at the Gig Harbor Marina again. If you are an author (or aspiring author) with a book idea to develop, we hope you’ll join us!

Blog post written by Kerry Wade, Assistant Editor.

What Gets Scheduled Is What Gets Done!


The idea of writing book is a tantalizing one. If you’ve been around Inspira long enough, you will know we believe everyone has a message, story, or memoir to share. Maybe you are currently writing a book or maybe you like the idea of writing a book and you are sure you will write one  . . .  someday.

“Someday” does not exist. While we are at it, the vague “tomorrow” doesn’t exist either. These are words we use to dream and procrastinate. Only when “someday” gets changed into July 28th at 3:00 p.m. does it became a reality.

If you want to write a book, you need to actually schedule time to write it. (I know, this seems obvious, but we all need the reminder.) Don’t rely on inspiration. It is a beautiful gift when it comes, but it is unreliable.

Setting Deadlines

In order to schedule your writing time, you will want to determine the approximate length of your manuscript. Take into consideration that a shorter book may have more impact, as the shorter a book the higher the percentage of people who read it all the way to the end.  Suggested lengths:

Special interest non-fiction (40,000 – 50,000)

Business book (50,000 – 60,000 words)

General non-fiction book (60,000 – 70,000)

Fiction (75,000 – 120,000)

E-book opt-in (2,000 – 10,000)

When setting you deadlines and calculating how long it will take to write your book, consider the following variables:

  • Date you plan to start writing
  • Desired manuscript length
  • Words you can write on average per hour
  • Hours you plan to spend writing per week

Also consider real life situations like vacations, holidays, when the kids are in school, etc. Have a Plan A (finish the book in a year), a Plan B (write four hours a week), and a Plan C (write on Saturday mornings). Be optimistic and realistic. The fact that you are reading this blog means you are already one step closer than you were before!

Action step: 

This blog is all about taking tangible steps to completing your manuscript. Once you have determined your writing plan, write down your goal in a statement form and post it as a reminder. Example: “I will finish a 50,000-word manuscript on organic gardening by 11/30/2016.” Bottom line:

  • Schedule your writing time.
  • Don’t rely on inspiration to strike; appreciate the need for discipline.
  • Remember, what gets scheduled is what gets done!

Time Out for Inspiration: Arlyn

(This is the second in our series, “What Inspires You?” in which Inspira team members share where they find their inspiration and motivation for writing.  Part One was by Assistant Editor Heather Sipes. This week’s post is by Arlyn Lawrence, Inspira’s founder and president. )



For me, motivation to write often comes to me out of an urge to help people. I’m not really the kind of writer who writes just for writing’s sake; I need to have an objective. So, when I have an idea or message I think will equip, encourage, empower, or even inspire someone, I am motivated!

But even though I am legitimately a people person, “alone” is where I do my best thinking, praying, reflecting, producing, and reprogramming. To get myself in the flow, I like to be alone and undistracted by people talking, or by any kind of words at all. (So I can’t write very well in coffee shops, unfortunately!) Generally speaking, an inspirational writing environment for me includes:

  • solitude
  • beauty (if I can be near the water or the mountains, that’s a big plus!)
  • music (no words when I’m writing, so I usually choose classical or piano solo)


I think one of the most helpful things I’ve learned as a writer is that inspiration doesn’t just happen. You have to set up for it, sort of “invite it in.” So besides the inspirational ingredients I just mentioned, I also try to set up with:

  • an orderly environment
  • a regular time and place
  • having a defined purpose for the time
  • a clear mental picture of the “whom” I’m writing to/for

We have access to a timeshare condo at Mt. Hood, Oregon, a three-hour drive from our home. When I really need inspiration and solitude for a writing project or multiple projects, it’s a great go-to place for a personal retreat. There, along with time to write, I can enjoy walks in the woods, or a trip to the snow in season. Then there’s the river—right outside my doorstep.


And sometimes I’ll drive a half-hour to the Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood where I can park myself in a quiet spot to work and look out at the view:


In these settings, I can be incredibly productive and it always amazes me how much I can get done in a shorter amount of time. I am refreshed and re-invigorated by my little “working personal retreats.” I find I actually like spending time with . . . me! When I am home again and back to reality, I feel more on top of things, much refreshed, and definitely more inspired by my “time out.”