Jot down five things you’d like to write about, perhaps something you’re now going through or have gone through:
Like/don’t like…
Looking for job (discrimination because of age or gender)
Marriage (joys, problems)
Children (New baby…
Discipline/setting boundaries…
School problems…
Friend problems…
Adult children…
Foster children…
Something you’re interested in
Favorite subjects at school…
Your favorite topic of conversation—cars, sports, children, redecorating, cooking, etc.
What are you skilled in?
How-to articles are popular. If someone has asked you how to do something, you have the makings of an article or book. Do you type term papers for students, cater luncheons, run a day-care service, repair automobiles? Perhaps others would like to know how to start a similar business, and by sharing what you’ve learned through trial and error, you can help them reach their dream.
Social issues
What upsets you? What can you do about it? Do you really believe you can change something or help others see something from a different point of view through your writing?




12 Steps to Writing a Devotional Assignment
1. Copy Scripture passage in required version—either in longhand or computer printout and take it with  you when you leave the house to read while waiting in a doctor’s office or elsewhere.

2. Use this passage each day for your private devotions.

3. Read verses in different versions.

4. Look in a Bible commentary or dictionary, or a Web site for background of verses: who’s involved, where does the story take place, what else is going on at the time?

5. Select one verse from the Scripture passage to use as a text for your devotional, not just the easiest one to illustrate, but one that’s meaningful to you.

6. Write a one-sentence theme for your reader’s takeaway.

7. Choose an illustration—personal, friend, church, neighborhood, historical, biblical.

8. Choose a title (unless editor gives you one).

9. Write a rough draft. Don’t worry about length or editing; just get your thoughts on paper.

10. Begin to edit, first for length, then for clarity.

11. Final typing—in publisher’s specific format.

12. Proofread carefully (especially Scripture), then take to critique group if you belong to one.

Types of Children’s Books  
Concept books. 2 to 4 years old, 12 to 32 pages, up to 350 words but most under 100 words. Full-color illustrations on every page.

Picture books. 3 to 7 years old, 24 to 48 pages, 250 to 2500 words, usually full-color illustrations every page.Story books. 5 to 9 years old, 32 to 48 pages, 1500 to 4000 words, usually full-color illustrations on every other page.

Easy readers. 6 to 8 years old, 350 to 2000 words, 32 to 64 pages, full color illustration every page or two.

Chapter books. 7 to 10 years, 56 to 80 pages, black-and-white pictures spaced throughout book.

Middle grade/’tweens. 8 to 12 years, 112 to 144 pages, black-and-white pictures spaced throughout, or none at all.

Young adult (YA). 12 and up, 144 to 232 pages, no illustrations.
Remember, regardless of the age of the child, use lots of dialogue in your books. The rule of “show, don’t tell” is especially important in this genre.

Style Sheet (jot down when you look up in dictionary)


Mnemonic Spelling

Affect, as v., alter, sway; as n., psychological state
Effect, as v., establish; as n., end result
All right, two words; remember its antonym, all wrong
Anoint, use an ointment
Balloon, two l’s as in ball
Battaliontwo t’s, one l, as in battle
Capitol, building as in dome
Capital, city as in an area
Connecticut, first I connect, then I cut.
Deductible, as in IRS.
Dependent, take dependents to the dentist.
Descendant, descendants come from ancestors.
February, “Br! It’s cold.”
Friend, a friend to the end.
Grammar, bad grammar will mar your progress.
Gray, as in America; grey, the English spelling, as in England.
Inoculate, one n, one c, as in inject.
Memento, mem as in memory.
Minuscule, contains minus.
Piece, a piece of pie.
Privilege, a privilege gives you a leg up.
Recommend/recommendation, contain the word commend.
Rhythm, divide six letters into two groups, each with an in the middle.
Separate, break into parts.
Stationary, stand still.
Stationery, writon it (or remember stands for envelope).7

And a great way to remember the names of the Great Lakes: Sailors refer to them as their HOMES—Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior.

Marketing Books and Periodicals


Christian Writers’ Market Guide (updated annually). Jerry Jenkins, Christian Writers Guild, 5525 N. Union, Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80918. (866-495-5177,

Writer’s Market (updated annually). F+W Publications, 4700 East Galbraith, Cincinnati, OH 45236, or at bookstores. Also publishes market guides for: fiction, poetry, children’s writers/illustrators, artists, photographers, and songwriters. Same address, or at book­stores. Web site:


The Christian Communicator (11 issues/year). American Christian Writers, PO Box 110390, Nashville, TN 37222. Web site: (Updates the Christian Writers’ Market Guide.)

Cross & Quill (bi-monthly). Christian Writers Fellowship International, 1624 Jefferson Davis Rd., Clinton, SC 29325-6401. (864) 697-6035. Web site:

Writer’s Digest (monthly). F+W Publications, 4700 East Galbraith, Cincinnati, OH 45236. Web site:

WRITERS’ Journal (monthly). PO Box 394, Perham, MN 56573. Web site:

Operational and Typographical Signs

15 Hints on Using Scripture in Your Writing

1. Give the version of the Bible you are using. If you quote Scripture in an article or book, the version is shown in parentheses after the reference, i.e., “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1 kjv). Note that no punctuation is used between the reference and the version, which is abbreviated and typed in small caps.

If you’re writing a book and using only one version of the Bible, the following statement may be shown on the copyright page: “Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations in this book are taken from the…,” then give version and credit line, i.e., “New King James Version, Copyright © 1997 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.” If you are using more than one version, double space and continue to list the others, i.e., “Verses marked niv are taken from the New International Version,” then include the credit line, and on down the list. Each publisher allows a certain number of verses to be quoted before permission is required (see pages 273ff); however, a credit line still is needed.

2. Place the reference after the Scripture verse. Sometimes you see the reference before the quotation, as in, “We see in Genesis 1:1 that ‘in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,’” but this may break the train of thought for your reader. It’s more common to say, “We read that ‘in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth’” (Genesis 1:1). Some authors put the reference in a footnote or endnote, directing the reader to the bottom of the page or the end of the chapter or book. However, this creates a lot of switching back and forth for the readers and some may not do it.

3. Spell out the name of the book of the Bible in your reference to avoid confusion. Phil. could stand for Philippians or Philemon. The publisher will abbreviate these books according to their style guide.

4. Spell out numbers at the beginning of a sentence. If you’re saying, “1 Thessalonians 1:1 says…,” spell the number 1, i.e., “First Thessalonians 1:1 says…”

5. Be consistent in using numbers or Roman numerals. Don’t use a Roman numeral in one place (i.e., II Timothy) and a number in another (i.e., 2 Timothy). Numbers seem to be more commonly used now than Roman numerals.

6. If your citation includes two consecutive verses, be consistent in the use of punctuation. Don’t use a comma one time and a hyphen the next; i.e., John 3:16-17 or John 3:16,17. Either is correct, but be consistent. Use a hyphen when citing three or more consecutive verses, i.e., John 3:16-18. If you’re quoting from the same book but different chapters, use a semicolon, i.e., John 3:16; 4:15. If you’re referring the reader to a passage consisting of two consecutive chapters, use an en dash, i.e., John 3–4. (Note: In Word, an en dash is made by clicking on Ctrl, and then the minus key on the number pad.)

7. Type Scripture quotations in the same typeface as the rest of your manuscript. Typing passages in bold is like shouting at your reader, and placing them in italics takes away from the smoothness of your writing and breaks the reader’s train of thought. Some publishers place Scripture quotations in a smaller font, but let that be their decision.

8. To stress certain words in the Scripture passage, place them in italics, then show this fact after the reference; i.e., “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1 kjv, emphasis added). If you do this consistently throughout the manuscript, place a note to this effect on the copyright page as follows: Italics in Scriptures have been added by the author.

9. If you insert commentary within the Scripture, enclose it in brackets, i.e., “For God so loved the world [and this means you], that he gave his only begotten Son…” (John 3:16 kjv).

10. Place closing punctuation after the ending parenthesis, i.e., rather than “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1), type “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). (Note: Some publishers place the closing punctuation before the reference in a lengthy, indented quotation. Use their style guide and be consistent.)

11. Place passages four lines or less in quotation marks within the paragraph, but if the quotation is over four lines, begin a new paragraph and indent on one or both sides. In this format, you will not need opening or closing quotation marks. Double space these quotations to allow the editor room for necessary corrections—for example, if they want to use a different version.

12. Citing long quotations. Citing a long passage of Scripture may be done in several ways. 1) As one long indented paragraph, leaving out individual verse numbers; 2) as a long indented paragraph, including verse number in parentheses before the verse; or, 3) instead of using paragraph format, type each verse separately, with or without the verse number before it. Again, be consistent.

13. Copy Scripture exactly, word for word, comma for comma, period for period. Be especially careful in the use of capitalization as some versions do not capitalize pronouns for God or Christ as “he,” “him,” “his,” “himself,” “me,” “my,” etc., while other versions do. Go according to the version you are using, even if it isn’t your personal preference. Especially be careful of the word “Lord” as the Old Testament often spells it with an initial cap and small caps, i.e., “Lord” which means “Jehovah,” while “Lord” is “Adonai,” which can refer to either God or a human leader. Always use it as it is found in the Scriptures.

14. Do not overuse Scripture. In writing for the religious market, you may think that the more Scripture you use, the better; however, this can turn off and distract your reader; it also lets the Bible do your writing for you and doesn’t show the editor much of your own writing style.

15. Most importantly, follow the style guide of the publisher to whom you are submitting your manuscript. Do your homework. Send for authors’ guidelines and/or check books that this particular company has published.

Shortcuts for Microsoft Word users:

Ctrl + B Bold highlighted selection
Ctrl + C Copy selected text
Ctrl + S Save file
Ctrl + X Cut selected text
Ctrl + P Print
Ctrl + F Open find box
Ctrl + I Italicize highlighted section
Ctrl + U Underline highlighted selection
Ctrl + V Paste
Ctrl + Y Redo the last action performed
Ctrl+ Z Undo the last action performed. (This shortcut is great when you don’t know what you did to cause that strange screen to pop up. It can also retrieve documents you’ve accidentally deleted.)
Ctrl + L Aligns selected text to the left of the screen
Ctrl + E Center selected text
Ctrl + R Aligns selected text to the right of the screen
Ctrl + M Indent the paragraph
Ctrl + Home Moves cursor to beginning of document
Ctrl + End Moves cursor to end of document
Ctrl + 1 Single-space lines
Ctrl + 2 Double-space lines
Ctrl + 5 Space-and-a-half lines
F1 Open Help
F7 Spell and grammar check
Shift + F7 Thesaurus check on highlighted word
F12 Save as
Shift + F12 Save
Alt + Shift + D Insert the current date
Alt + Shift + T Insert the current time
F2 Rename a file

More shortcuts can be found at

Tax Deductions for Writers

Advertising (business cards, brochures, fliers)
Bad debts (if someone has owed you for more than two years, and you can show proof of trying to collect it.
Car expenses (can take actual expenses prorated [gas, oil, repairs, insurance, tags, etc., but if you do this you have to keep all receipts) or it’s simpler—and usually better—just to take the mileage deduction allowed by IRS. Keep track of all your miles—to the post office, to the office supply store, to meet a writer for lunch, writers’ clubs and seminars—anything connected with writing.
Commissions—this would be, for example, if you had an agent.
Depreciation—on office equipment or computer that cost over $100 and was expected to last over a year. (This can be taken over several years or there is a way it can all be taken the first year.)
Insurance—if you rented an office and had insurance; if you have an office in the home, you can take a portion of the insurance; or if you have separate insurance on your equipment.
Interest—you can no longer take interest as a deduction on your personal Schedule A; however, if you have a credit card you use solely for your business, you can deduct the interest, or if you have a credit card at an office supply store. Also interest on a plane credit card, if you use it to fly to seminars.
Legal & professional expenses—if you pay someone to do your income taxes, your self-employment portion may be deducted; or if you pay someone to look over a contract or to try to collect money owed you.
Office expense—this is not office supplies; this is anything you do to your office in the way of decorating, repairs (carpet, drapes), etc.
Rent or lease—if you rent or lease any business equipment. Be careful here, however; if you end up buying the equipment then you may have to go back to the first year and show depreciation for the time you had it.
Repairs and maintenance—any repairs on your equipment, or if you purchase a maintenance agreement.
Supplies—here is where you list all your office supplies and don’t forget little things  like staples, paper clips, pens, correction fluid, rubber bands, etc.
Taxes and licenses—any taxes or licenses you need for your business. (For example, Arizona does have a personal property tax on your equipment, but they don’t enforce it. I didn’t even know this until I had an office downtown and registered my name.)
Travel—this is not car expenses shown above; this is such things as plane tickets, rental  cars, cab fares, parking fees, tolls, etc.
Meals and entertainment—if you take a writer to dinner, to a baseball game, etc. Don’t forget such things as tips, etc. However, only 50% of this is deductible. Your own meals are deductible if you stay overnight.
Utilities—for a rented office, or if you have an office in your home, you can prorate your utilities.

(Deductions on the preceding page are placed line by line on your Schedule C for a self-employed person. Those listed below are miscellaneous deductions that go on Part V Other Expenses. You may have more. These are just some I deduct every year.)

Telephone (you can deduct monthly telephone bill only if you have a separate business line. Otherwise, you can deduct such things as Call Waiting, Conference Calls, long distance calls, and don’t forget your Internet fees.)
Books and publications—this is a biggie for writers. Any magazine you buy can be deducted here as it is a possible market or a newspaper you take solely for business. Don’t forget sample magazines you send for.
Printing and copies
Cards and gifts
Bank charges
Camera/tape recorder (these two you may have to prorate if you also use them for  personal use. I bought a separate tape recorder strictly for business. However, any portion you use 100% for business—i.e., film for a seminar, cassette tapes you bought for an interview, film developing, etc—is 100% deductible. And don’t forget repairs on your camera and tape recorder.)
Subcontracting—I sometimes pay someone to type for me Dues for business clubs
Loss—I sometimes have a loss on books sold

If you have a home office, you can also prorate deductions on such things as landscaping, repairs (air conditioning/heating), exterminating, carpet cleaning, real estate taxes, interest and house insurance, plus depreciation. This gets sticky, so talk to someone before deducting a home office.