New Release: Unshackled: A Story of Redemption

We are excited to announce that author John Swanger recently published his second book, Unshackled: A Story of Redemption. We were honored to be a part of John’s first book, Shackled: Story of a Teenage Bank Robber, and even more so to be a part of the sequel.

The Story of a Teenage Bank Robber.  Now how’s that for a catchy title?

At the age of 19, John Swanger gained the dubious distinction of being one of America’s most prolific armed robbers. Sentenced to serve 30 years in prison, he was set free after only three.

But a prison of the body is not the same as a prison of the heart . . . as Swanger relates in his second book. Continuing the story begun in the first, Swanger tells in gripping detail the account of how he went from inmate to evangelist, from prisoner to minister, called to set the prisoners free.

Here are some words about the book:

“If I could use two words to describe John Swanger, they would be “real deal.” This guy has lived life full throttle both before and after coming to Christ. His authentic, edgy, and often humorous communication style resonates within the hardest of hearts.

Mark Mason – Founder and President, Life on the Verge Ministries, Richmond, Virginia

“The stories of John’s speaking gigs in prisons are often best told by guards who have never seen inmates respond so favorably and enthusiastically. John’s that good of a storyteller (and it’s all true). This sequel, Unshackled: A Story of Redemption, tells the rest of the story. Buckle your seatbelts; this book completes the thrilling ride.”

Mike Sares – Pastor, Scum of the Earth Church; Author, Pure Scum: The Left-Out, the Right-Brained, and the Grace of God

We’ve been delighted to get to know John and he IS the real deal. He is a pastor, ministry leader, author, singer, and songwriter who has dedicated his life to ministering to prison inmates and ex-cons, feeding the homeless, and sharing his powerful testimony to audiences across the U.S. Along with his wife, Raylene, he is the founder of Unshackled Spirit, a ministry dedicated to serving people from all walks of life who are hungry for freedom and transformation in their lives.

John and Raylene reside in Gig Harbor, Washington, where Inspira is located (so we get to see them around once in a while!).  If you would like to order John’s new book, you can find it on Amazon or directly through their ministry website, UnshackledSpirit.com.

 

 

 

Edit Ruthlessly

One mistake many writers make is to write and edit at the same time. Trust me, at that pace, you’ll never finish!  I once heard the quote (and I thoroughly agree with it): “A first draft is simply you telling yourself the story.” Meaning, the first time around, you’re just getting it down on paper.

Next step: edit ruthlessly. That’s right  Kill your darlings. That means those lofty phrases you thought sounded so great when you first wrote them probably aren’t.  Trust me again, being concise is a much higher priority than being eloquent!

When I’m editing, I keep a file for that project on my computer  called “Holding Zone.”  When I “edit ruthlessly,” I put what I’ve cut into the Holding Zone. That way, if I decide I want it back, or want to use it elsewhere, I can retrieve and reuse it. Tracking changes while editing will also accommodate this goal.

Eventually, you’ll get better at slashing your own work. And, you’ll likely find yourself noticing it in other writers’ writing if they don’t catch on to this important principle, too!

Arlyn Lawrence is a developmental editor and writer and the founder of Inspira Literary Solutions. When she’s not cutting words from manuscripts, she’s probably cutting dead-heads off the rosebushes in her garden.  Same principle.  🙂

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 Inspiralit.com.  All Rights Reserved.

10 Tips to Harness the Power of Networking to Promote Your (Non-Fiction) Book

The publishing landscape is, unfortunately, littered with books that never sold more than a few hundred (or even a few dozen copies). What makes the difference between a book that sells and one that doesn’t? There are number of factors, but I’ve found one that makes a tremendous difference, particularly with non-fiction books, is the power of networking.

For example, one self-publishing project I worked on, a leadership and life skills book and course for teens, found its way into educational networks, first in the Family & Consumer Science field, and more recently in the “at-risk” and alternative education realms. The books and its curricular resources are experiencing widespread success in public schools around the country, as well as in mentor organizations, and has been published in Indonesia and most recently in China.

Another author I worked with had his book and accompanying workbooks picked up by an international Christian ministry organization and ultimately translated into a number of languages including French, German, Arabic, Chinese, and more. As a result of the impetus initially gained through that ministry’s networks and international reach, the program is now experiencing widespread success not only in multiple countries, but on multiple continents.

Yet another, a marriage enrichment course developed by a non-profit organization in Seattle, fell into military networks. It eventually became one of only a few such courses approved by the Department of Defense for distribution and use on DOD installations in the U.S. and internationally.

The common denominator in the success of all these self-published projects was undoubtably the power of networking. How can an average author or organization hope to experience similar success through networking? Here are 10 tips:

  1. Identify what networks you want to get into. Who would like to read your book or use your curricular resources? At first, when we were launching the leadership and life skills books, we thought they might be a good fit for public school counselors. So, our first conference was with the NASC (National Association of School Counselors). It was there that multiple visitors to our booth told us, “You should really be at the national CTE (Career & Technical Educators) conference!” We heeded their advice, found our tribe with the FACS (Family & Consumer Science) teachers we met there, and the rest is history.
  2. Start by making a comprehensive list of probable organizations. It’s best to do this with a group of friends or colleagues, to broaden the list of ideas and possibilities.
  3. Brainstorm whom you know in those organizations. Assign various individuals the responsibility of reaching out to their contacts. A personal connection is your best calling card!
  4. Create and rehearse your basic branding:
  • two-sentence summary of your book
  • 30-second elevator pitch
  1. Develop an email list and feed it regularly. Send a weekly or bi-weekly email with useful content (not marketing).
  2. Be intentional with social media. Think Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn; post frequently and strategically. Encourage your tribe to comment and share to help boost your posts’ SEO (Search Engine Optimization), to make you more easily found on the internet by those searching your topic.
  3. Find out about conferences where you can exhibit and speak. For a small extra fee when you book an exhibit table, you can usually register to give a workshop or two and get in front of an audience. Give away books; it will make your booth a magnet!
  4. Contact bloggers and book reviewers in fields associated with your book. Read their guidelines on what and how to submit, and send them your book for reviews and give-aways.
  5. Be an active networker. This means: .
  • Carry business cards at all times with your book and website on them (and give them out freely!)
  • Include social media links on your email signature, as well as links to your book website.
  • Be constantly thinking: whom do I know that might be interested in this book? e.g., reconnect with your university/high school alumni, etc.
  1. Let people know you speak. Don’t be shy! Make yourself available for speaking engagements to anyone you know who has an audience or access to an audience. These generate opportunities to sell your book, just as having a book generates opportunities to speak.

Bottom line: put yourself out there. Don’t be shy. Get the word out to as many people as you can and ask them to pass the word to their friends and colleagues, too. You never know: your best friend’s aunt’s mother-in-law’s next-door neighbor might be the president of an organization that needs hundreds or even thousands of YOUR book. That’s the power of networking!

Arlyn Lawrence is an author and editor, and the founder and president of Inspira. She loves to see great books with important missions and messages find their way into the world and impact the lives they touch.

 

 

 

 

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 www.amiloved.org. If you’d like to purchase the book (either paperback or Kindle), you can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Am-Loved-Question-Might-Asking-ebook/dp/B077W2YCM9

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.

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So You’ve Got a Story, Now What?

 Do you have a skill, a story, a memoir, or message burning inside you —but you’re unsure how to get it into print?

Inspira Literary Solutions provides authors with every service necessary along the way to publication, from book idea to book-in-hand. Our a la carte menu includes:

Concept Coaching – before you even start your non-fiction manuscript, concept coaching with Inspira will help you establish:

  • an overall thesis for your book
  • a clearly-defined targeted reader and a strong benefit for that reader
  • a workable structure and chapter outline
  • a sample chapter that contains all key chapter elements (intro, thesis, cohesive sub-sections, transitions, conclusion) that you will use for a template to rework the other chapters

Manuscript Review and Evaluation – many would-be authors want to know, is my manuscript publishable? Our manuscript review of your fiction or non-fiction manuscript will provide you with concrete feedback on the quality of your writing craft, subject/plot organization, character development (if fiction), and logic and flow of your ideas, and will provide specific recommendations for editing and publishing.

Manuscript Development – we can work with you as you write your book—chapter by chapter, every step of the way providing feedback, accountability, and refining to help you complete your manuscript and grow as a writer along the way.

Editingdevelopmental, copy editing, and line editing

Designcover and interior layout, illustrations, and graphics

Self-publishing – from obtaining your ISBN to registering your copyright to getting your book on Amazon and into the databases of major retailers, and everything in between—we provide a complete menu of services to help you get your book “from idea in head to book in hand”!

Print project management – whether you want to print 10 copies of your book or 10,000, we can direct you to the best value printer for your needs. Breathe easy; we can manage the whole process for you—or, if you prefer, we can help you get set up to easily manage the process yourself.

Traditional publishing – for those seeking traditional publishing, we provide traditional editorial services and assistance with book proposal development.

Check out our portfolio to see the dozens of books we’ve helped develop. Then contact Inspira today for a complimentary consultation—and start the journey of bringing your message or story to the world!

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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

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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.

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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.

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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:

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Heather meets a Beefeater at the Tower of London

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Art appreciation at the National Gallery 

 … and even squeezed in a quick trip to Paris:

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The Arc de Triomphe

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

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… and pastries and macarons!

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Shopping on the Champs d’Elysees

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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:

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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. 

Mapping Your Manuscript

“When most people think of an ‘editor,’ they generally think about someone who weeds out all the bad grammar, misspelled words, and typos from a manuscript.  That is only partially true. This is copy editing. A good copy editor knows the rules of grammar and uses them scrupulously to polish your manuscript.

developmental editor, on the other hand, reads a manuscript and asks good questions. She (or he) gets at the heart of your book to make sure it has all the right components, and that it flows seamlessly and logically from start to finish.” (Excerpted from our blog, “Why Your Book Needs a Developmental Editor”

Editors will often begin by mapping out a book in order to see the whole book at a glance. This simply means going through the book and writing the titles of every chapter, heading, and subheading and how many words are in each section. For example:

Chapter 1: Title
Heading 1

200 words
Heading 2
6000 words
Subheading
300 words
Subheading
287 words
Subheading
350 words
Heading 3
3000 words

Chapter 2: Title
4000 words

Chapter 3: Title
500 words
Heading 1
200 words

This shows the editor at a glance, “Wow, Chapter One has multiple headings and subheadings and Chapter Two has none! Why? Could Chapter One be split into more topics? Why is Chapter One so long?”ams-k-m_road_intersections

These kinds of observations can help you, the author, know where you needs to work on consistency and organization. Chapters should be relatively the same length; an extremely long or short chapter must be a purposeful stylistic choice.

However, mapping out a book is not just about evening out the word count. This at-a-glance technique allows you to look at how your ideas build on one another and ensure your thoughts flow smoothly from chapter to chapter.

Putting away the actual words of the story and looking at the novel in this condensed structure allows you to step back and gain a new perspective. When an artist is working on a painting, he or she will often hold the painting up to a mirror. The reversed image allows the painter to gain a new perspective and look at composition rather than details.

As an author, you can map out your own manuscript. Let yourself experiment. What would happen if you shuffled around some chapters? Take away the emotion connected to your writing and allow your manuscript to be malleable. Is this map the fastest route? Does it build the most suspense? Is this detour unnecessary? Mapping out your book allows you to ask the important developmental questions and easily move things around. You’d be surprised at how helpful this tool is!

While you are writing, make sure you are always pulling back to get the big picture. Whether you use this tool or your own method of organization, it is important to take your reader on the best journey possible. Many books have great ideas and compelling story arcs, but they take meandering roads full of detours. Be open to redrawing the map of your book, it might just be the thing that turns a great idea into a great book!

Post written by Kerry Wade, Assistant Editor

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Why Attend a Writing Workshop?

 

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As a writer, or someone who is interested in writing, you have probably seen advertisements (like our own!) for writing workshops. You may be wondering: What is a writing workshop? What do you get out of it? Why go to a writing workshop?

Writing workshops can be anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, and serve to support authors on their journey toward writing and publishing a book. They provide a variety of information, support, consultation, feedback, encouragement, and networking.

This is usually very different from a writing class. A writing class is prescriptive, teaching writing techniques and styles within one or a variety of genres. Generally, the writing exercises are assigned according to the topic. The beauty of writing workshops are they are tailored to YOUR writing. You get to work on your book, at whatever stage it is in. You will received feedback and input from professionals in the writing and publishing industry that will give you the next steps you need to take to get your book where you want it to go.

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There are a number of components to writing a book and getting it published. Many authors who come to Inspira or attend our workshops assume that the right steps to creating a book are A) write the book, B) get feedback, C) make corrections and work towards publication. However, for most people, step B comes WAY too late.

For example, if a novel writer discovers after completing the first draft that a character is not believable, she may have to go back to square one and rewrite the entire book. Or a business writer comes to a workshop and realizes he should have been marketing his book during the entire year he has been writing it. A writing workshop gives you a recipe for writing, tailored to you, so you can know what’s ahead, and make sure your writing process is the most productive and highest quality it can be.

Writing workshops offer a short and inexpensive (when you consider both the cost of editing and hours spent re-working) boost to your writing. They can be invaluable for new and seasoned writers alike. Here are some more reasons why:

Guidance and Information: There is much you can learn from reading books and online sources, but a good facilitator can direct you to areas you need to focus on and answer your specific questions. At Inspira, we are experienced in the worlds of editing and publishing and so we are able to offer advice directing from the field.

Networking: Workshops are an excellent place to network with fellow writers, editors, publishers, and others. Never underestimate the power of networking.

Motivation and Inspiration: Writing can be a long and lonely progress. And, it’s not only the writing, but the marketing, networking, agent searching, and everything else that comes with it. A good workshop will remind you why you started, encourage you to continues, and give you the know-how to do so. Ideally, you should leave a workshop feeling inspired to finish your book!

If you are a writer, don’t sell yourself short. Get the tools you need (as soon as possible) to make your writing a success. Build community and seek out professionals who can guide you. Workshops are a great way to dip your foot into the water. Perhaps you just have an idea for a book; a workshop is the perfect place to learn how to begin and succeed. Perhaps you are part way through writing and feel in a rut; get encouragement and tips to keep going! Or maybe you have finished a book but want to re-work it yourself before sending it to an editor. We cannot stress this enough: don’t edit in the dark. You don’t want to spend hours and hours reworking your book without knowing the full scope of what the reworking should look like.

If we have convinced you of the importance of writing workshops, and you are in the Seattle/Tacoma area, we hope you’ll sign up for our upcoming one-day workshop on January 28th!  We think this workshop is the perfect place to kickstart your book. After spending years working with authors and finding ourselves repeating the same information over and over, we decided to condense this information and offer it to aspiring authors to help them in their journeys to writing.

We hope to see you there!

You can register for Inspira’s one-day workshop “So You’ve Got a Story, Now What?” by accessing our Facebook Event page or emailing Kerry@inspiralit.com.