Friday, December 09, 2011

Active vs. Passive Voice

One of my greatest struggles in writing is my bent toward Passive Voice. My husband says it's because I'm a passive person ;D Maybe that's it. Maybe it's because we're Christians, or just naturally polite, we'd rather say "I am loved by God." rather than "God loves me." OR "I was hoping that..." rather than "I hope that...." Just two quickie examples. I'm sure you can come up with many more. 

Here 2 posts from Grammar Girl to help us identify and overcome the Passive monster within. 

Active Voice:

Passive Voice:

Friday, November 25, 2011

December meeting - Note TIME CHANGE

The next meeting of the NJCWG is 
Saturday, Dec. 3rd 
10:00 - 12:00
681 High Mountain Rd., North Haledon, NJ

Our meeting will be a Christmas brunch

Please bring a 250 word Christmas-themed piece to share with the group. 

Food signups:
 - Orange Juice and Fruit Salad: Ann
 - Veggie Salad: Sr. Jane
 - Coffee Cake: Roberta
 - Potatoes: Clare
 - Quiches: Susan
 - Muffins, Bagels or Rolls: Barbara
 - Decorations & Paper Goods: Clare and Barbara

 - Salmon Mousse: Maude
 - Coffee: Debbie

If you weren't at the Nov. meeting to sign up and want to bring something,please just check the list above and fill in with whatever you'd like to bring.

Looking forward to being with you all on the 3rd!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Query Letters

Jody Rein of Author Planet is writing a series about writing effective query letters for nonfiction books. She shares excellent information, and another post in the series is coming tomorrow. Be sure to check her blog at:

Query letters.  Yet again.
Holy smokes there’s a lot of query letter advice out here on the World Wide Web.   
And like everything in information-overload-land, that’s good and bad–it’s terrific for writers to have easy access to models and thoughtful counsel, but at the same time I’m a little concerned about the stressing out I see–the agony over each detail in each query; and the stridency of the dogma.  As in, “All query letters must start with x, end with y, and never, never include Popsicles.” 
Query letters are crucial, don’t get me wrong.  And yes, each book pitch does haveto include some standard elements, like, well, the title of the book. 
But ultimately each letter is as individual as the book that is being pitched and the author who is writing it.  So rather than trying to fit your query into someone else’s mold, I suggest you sit back, take a deep breath, scribble out a quick rough draft, andthen ask yourself if you’ve achieved the following goals.  I’ll elaborate on each in future posts.

To read the rest of the post including Jody's Seven Goals for Query Letters, click here:

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Next Meeting - Saturday, Nov. 5

Next meeting: Saturday, November 5, from 2-4:00 pm

We will continue to discuss blogging with these focus points:

  • Defining your goal
  • Narrowing your focus
  • Writing to be read
  • Connecting to other bloggers
Our exercise will be to write a Thanksgiving blog post appropriate for our real or imagined blog. A children's blog is a viable option.
We will critique our writing and consider its adherance to the parameters defined in our discussion.

You do not need a blog to benefit from this meeting. You only need to be a writer!

Meeting at:
High Mountain Church
681 High Mountain Rd.
North Haledon, NJ 07508

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hands-On Blogging Workshop

Saturday Oct. 22 at 9 a.m 

Here are the particulars:

-your laptop (make sure it's fully charged) 
-your questions (start thinking of them now & if you can - email them to me ahead of time so we can be sure to discuss them) 

Starbucks - in back of Market Basket shopping center
816 High Mountain Rd.
Franklin Lakes ,  NJ   07417  
click on the link here for directions:  

WHAT: This will be a VERY informal, VERY hands-on blogging session. We will go over the basic mechanics of blogging using your own blog. We'll set up Feedburner subscriptions, go over any questions you have, provide resources, and talk about how to promote your blog (not in the cheesy sense of marketing, but in the sense that God has gifted you with words to share and bless others and to NOT promote your blog is to bury the gift He has given His servant - you). 

And to get us started: Here's "65 ways to drive traffic to your blog":
(many of these tips apply to business bloggers - don't let it worry or overwhelm you) 

I am by no means an expert in blogging. I'm just a little ahead of you and (as Paul said) I'm passing along to you what was passed on to me. But as iron sharpens iron, we will all learn from each other. 

Looking forward to gathering together on Saturday!

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Reading List for Writers

For some reason known only to the mysteries of the internet, I received a year-old email from agent Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary. That message contained his suggested reading list for writers which I am passing along to you. Enjoy! Don't try to read it all at once ;D. This list does not contain books about the craft of writing or books about the publishing industry. I will compile and post those in the near future.

The archives of Chip's blog (which is no longer posting) are still online and contain a treasure trove of helpful writer advice. 

I've had a bunch of people ask me, "What would be on your list of great books for writers to read?", so I decided to share my list of suggested books to make yourself well read



ModernsJane Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE; Stendahl’s THE RED AND THE BLACK; Hawthorne’s THE SCARLET LETTER; Thackeray’s VANITY FAIR; Dicken’s THE PICKWICK PAPERS, DAVID COPPERFIELD, HARD TIMES, THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP; Charlotte Bronte’s JANE EYRE; Emily Bronte’s WUTHERING HEIGHTS; Anthony Trollope’s THE WAY WE LIVE NOW and THE WARDEN; Herman Melville’s MOBY DICK; George Elliott’s THE MILL ON THE FLOSS; Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s FAUST; Gustave Flaubert’s MADAME BOVARY; Selected poems of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Ralph Waldo Emerson and Walt Whitman;  Alexis de Tocqueville’s DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA; the short stories of Edgar Allen Poe; Thoreau’s WALDEN.

Moving Toward Contemporaries: Dostoyevsky’s CRIME AND PUNISHMENT and THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV; Tolstoy’s WAR AND PEACE; Mark Twain’s HUCKLEBERRY FINN; Lewis Carroll’s ALICE’S ADVENTURE IN WONDERLAND; Henry Adams’ THE EDUCATION OF HENRY ADAMS; Thomas Hardy’s THE MAYOR OF CASTORBRIDGE; Henry James’ THE AMBASSADORS; Joseph Conrad’s NOSTROMO; Anton Chekhov’s THREE SISTERS and THE CHERRY ORCHARD; George Bernard Shaw’s MAJOR BARBARA; Edith Wharton’s THAT HOUSE OF MIRTH; Marcel Proust’s SWANN’S WAY; Thomas Mann’s THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN; the poetry of Yeats.

ContemporaryThe poetry of Robert Frost and T.S. Eliot, and W.H. Auden; E.M. Forster’s A PASSAGE TO INDIA; James Joyce’s ULYSSES; Virginia Woolf’s TO THE LIGHTHOUSE;  D.H. Lawrence’s SONS AND LOVERS; Eugene O’Neill’s LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT and THE ICEMAN COMETH; Aldous Huxley’s BRAVE NEW WORLD; William Faulkner’s AS I LAY DYING; Ernest Hemingway’s THE SUN ALSO RISES; George Orwell’s 1984; Albert Camus’ THE PLAGUE; Saul Bellow’s THE ADVENTURES OF AUGIE MARSH; Aleksander Solzhenitsy’s CANCER WARD; Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 100 YEARS OF SOLITUDE; Thomas Pynchon’s GRAVITY’S RAINBOW; Samuel Becket’s WAITING FOR GODOT. 

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Writing Opportunity

Do you have an angel story? Cec and I have a contract for a compilation book. Check out for guidelines and submission details.

Do you have an angel story to tell but can't write it yourself? Email the details to If we believe the story has potential for the book, we will contact you for more information and will write it for you.

Deadline for story submissions is November 12.

Thanks to Cecil Murphy & Twila Belk -

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Meeting October 1st - Note special time 3 p.m.

Next meeting of the NJCWG will be on:
October 1st
3:00 - 5:00 pm 

High Mountain Church
681 High Mountain Rd.
North Haledon, NJ

Stay tuned! 
More details to come! 

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Meeting - Saturday Sept. 10

Our meeting this Saturday will discuss:

Stepping stones to publication: 
social media and periodical/anthology opportunities
These are basic opportunities to "get our names out there". We are not setting our sights too high when we aim at publishing a book, but there are steps we can accomplish that will help us along the way. 

As usual, our second hour will be critiquing each other's work. Please email your piece ahead of time to allow us to review your work before the meeting.

And bring us an update on your goals discussed last time. 

Looking forward to seeing you on the 10th at 2:00 pm.
High Mountain Church
681 High Mountain Road
North Haledon, NJ 07508

Monday, August 15, 2011

September Meeting

Meeting of NJCWG:
Saturday, September 10, 2011
2:00 - 4:00 pm
High Mountain Church
681 High Mountain Rd.
No. Haledon, NJ 07508

Barbara Higby and Susan Panzica will share their experiences from the Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference
We will all share updates on our long-term and short-term goals. 

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Meeting - Saturday August 6th

The next meeting of the NJCWG is Saturday, August 6th from 2:00 - 4:00 pm. 

We will continue our discussion on pitches. 
And bring your mitts - we'll practice pitching! 
[Sorry - just a little baseball humor there] 

See you at:
High Mountain Church
681 High Mountain Rd.
North Haledon, NJ 07508

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Meeting Sat. July 16

Our next meeting is scheduled for Saturday July 16th from 2:00 - 4:00 pm. 

Our speaker will be Clare Cartagena who will share a presentation on perfecting your pitch. Whether you're going to a writers' conference or just working on honing your writing to crystallize the main idea, this is sure to be a valuable lesson. Commonly called an "elevator pitch," this short summary quickly, simply, and clearly defines your concept. 

Come join us at:
High Mountain Church
681 High Mountain Road
North Haledon, NJ 07508

Monday, June 06, 2011

Fear in Writing

Tosca Lee, award winning and critically acclaimed author, shares her thoughts on fear in writing. Grab yourself a cup of coffee for a very worthwhile 10 minutes:

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

This Saturday meeting - CHANGE OF TIME + LOCATION!

Hello dear sisters,
There will be a funeral repast at our church on Saturday, so our meeting will be at 3:00 pm in our gym's conference room on the lower level at the back of the church.
You can enter through the rear doors OR if you enter the usual side door, make a LEFT and head down the stairs to the gym. 
We won't have the ability to make coffee, so if you're a coffee-drinker, please bring it with you. 
Looking forward to meeting with you all.

Saturday, June 4th
3:00 pm
Gym Conference Room
High Mountain Church of Nazarene
681 High Mountain Road
North Haledon, NJ 07508

Any questions? 
Call Barbara at 551-804-1014 
Susan at 201-755-5730

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Next Meeting - Saturday, June 4

What is the only way to be a writer?

To write!!

That's the focus of our next meeting, Saturday June 4th from 2:00 - 4:00 pm. 

After a writing exercise, we will critique submitted work. As usual, pieces will be critiqued in the order they were submitted to the group prior to June 4th. Critique guidelines can be found at the bottom of the NJCWG blog

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Congratulations Sr. Jane!

Kudos to NJCWG member Sr. Jane Ablen on being published in Today's Catholic Teacher magazine! Her Audio Drama article (highlighted on the cover) was published in the Apr/May 2011 edition on pp. 73-82. 

Sr. Jane expressed her appreciation to members of the NJCWG who provided both encouragement and critique, which she incorporated into her article. 

Such a blessing for all of us to be a part of this group that rejoices with each other's triumphs and offers honest critique as "iron sharpens iron." 

Next meeting - June 4th at 2:00 pm. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Re: May 7 meeting

Fellow Writers,
In January, we shared specific personal writing goals (submit a magazine article, complete a devotional, edit poems for submission, etc.). We also identified the next three steps it would take to reach those goals. For some, those steps included finding a market, writing a queery, or writing x number of pages.

It's time for a check up. If you were not present for our previous goal setting discussions, I invite you to join in now.

Bring the following to our May meeting:
o       A progress report on the goal you shared in January (or a new one) - be specific
o       The steps you have taken toward that goal and one to three specific next steps, no matter how small they may be.

We will only review goal focused critiques at the May meeting. That is, a “next step” piece, not random writing. Please bring something that is part of your goal. Remember the critique guidelines (posted at the bottom of our blog). You may email the group with an attatchment of your work, but please select only those names that attend meetings. Critiques are handled in the order received.
This should keep you busy this week. Come prepared & expectant!
Writing for Him,

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Next Meeting - Saturday, May 7

The next meeting of the NJCWG is this Saturday, May 7, 2:00-4:00, at High Mountain Church of the Nazarene, 681 High Mountain Road, North Haledon.
We will have a writing exercise for the first hour and do critiques the second hour. If you have any work to submit for critique, please email to the group ahead of time. Thanks! 

Copies of the 2011 Christian Writers Market Guide are available for purchase at a reduced rate. Also available is a lending library of helpful writers books. 
Though not anticipated, please check here at this blog regarding any unexpected  cancellation.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Writing Opportunity - MOPS Devotional

Here's a writing opportunity; all material must be unpublished/never published. Please contact the editor with questions.
2012 MOPS Devotional Seeks Submissions

Never Alone is a devotional for mothers underscoring God's promise of His presence in her life - all the time. Scheduled for publication by Revell for a Summer release in 2012, Never Alone will be a companion to the 2012 theme book for Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) International.

You are invited to audition devotionals for this special book by sharing your own moments and memories of how God's presence -- or your yearning for it -- impacted or is impacting your days of parenting preschoolers. As we know, motherhood can be an isolating exercise. But God is there in the loneliness and most clueless moments, as well as those joyful instances we want to freeze for all eternity. Please consider sharing a part of your faith journey with today's 100,000 MOPS moms and others who can be encouraged by your experiences. Feel free to share this call for submissions with others who might have a heart for this project and a compelling story to impart.

Categories for submissions are:
Dawn: God is with us… in the firsts.
Nourishment: God is with us… and provides.
Monkey Bars and Cardboard Cars: God is with us… in laughter and play.
Holding Hands: God is with us… in our marriages.
Time Out: God is with us…when we feel overwhelmed.
In the Dark: God is with us… and in control.
Matching Socks: God is with us… in the mundane.
Duty Calls: God is with us… in our sacrifice.
Girl Power: God is with us…in our friendships.
On The Move: God is with us… in our work.

Guidelines are as follows:
· Submissions should be approximately 600 words, and if possible include a scripture reference pertinent to what you are sharing. We reserve the right to use a different verse if necessary.
· Devotionals are essentially stories: vivid, conversational, focused pieces that inspire, not preach. We want to help moms reframe their view of motherhood to include God where they might not have. Your honest voice is very important, as is your ability to be clear and purposeful. And where warranted, humorous!
· Your name, address, email address, phone number and devotional category and word count should appear at the top of your submission.
· Email submissions to Deadline is June 1.
· Writers will be paid $50 for each accepted submission. Writers may submit in several categories.
· Please include a 50-word biography at the end of each submission that includes information on your own season of motherhood.
May God bless you and reveal himself to you in your mothering always.
Happy writing,
Susan Besze Wallace, editor

Monday, April 04, 2011

10 Ways To Start Your Story Better

In Writers Digest of March 29, 2011, Jacob M. Appel shared a powerful article on opening lines:
A good opening line is a powerful thing: It can grab an editor’s attention, set the tone for the rest of the piece, and make sure readers stay through The End. Here are 10 ways to steer your story toward success.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

April 2 meeting

Our next meeting is Saturday, April 2, 2:00-4:00 at the High Mountain Church of the Nazarene, North Haledon, NJ.

Are you a poet and don't know it?

Our resident poet, Maude Carolan, has agreed to speak to us about writing poetry. I've given Maude most of our meeting time for teaching & encouraging our poetic inclinations. If time allows we will critique the submitted poems that have been on hold. Part of Maude's tutorial will include time for us to write a poem relevant to the season so you may want to start thinking about that beforehand.

If you have not yet done so, please email Christine your immediate writing goal with up to three specific next steps.

Remember, we write for Him!

Monday, February 28, 2011

March Meeting - The 5 W's of Blogging

Our next meeting is this Saturday, March 5, 2:00-4:00, at High Mountain Church of the Nazarene, 681 High Mountain Road, North Haledon.

Susan Panzica will present "The 5 W's of Blogging."
Active members who maintain a blog will be permitted to have a link on the NJCWG site. If you have a lap top, feel free to bring it.

We will do critiques during the second hour.

Copies of the 2011 Christian Writers Market Guide will be available for purchase at a reduced rate.
Though not expected, please check here at this blog regarding cancellation due to weather.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

February Meeting CANCELLED!

Hi all!
Due to the weather, today's meeting of the NJCWG is cancelled.

Next meeting is Saturday, March 5th from 2:00 - 4:00 pm.

The tutorial on blogging will be presented. Looking forward to seeing you all then. Let's all pray for favorable weather!

Copies of the 2011 Christian Writers Market Guide will be available for purchase at a reduced rate.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

February Meeting

Our next meeting is this Saturday, February 5, 2:00-4:00, at High Mountain Church of the Nazarene, 681 High Mountain Road, N. Haledon. Please check here at this blog regarding cancellation due to weather.

Susan Panzica will present a tutorial on blogging. Active members who maintain a blog will be permitted to have a link on the NJCWG site. If you have a lap top please bring it.

We will do critiques during the second hour.

Copies of the 2011 Christian Writers Market Guide will be available for purchase at a reduced rate.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Here's the Latest!

The North Jersey Christian Writers Group currently meets on the first Saturday of each month from 2:00 to 4:00 pm at:

High Mountain Church of Nazarene
681 High Mountain Road
North Haledon, NJ 07508

The first hour is a short devotion followed by a writing exercise.
The second hour is spent critiquing each other's work.

Any questions?
Barbara Higby at bhighby5(at)optonline(dot)net     
Susan Panzica at susanallenpanzica(at)gmail(dot)com.