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Your first session is “Top Blogging Secrets: How to Build Your Career and Brand.” In what specific way(s) has blogging helped build your career and brand?
The editors of US Airways, the LA Times, and PBS found me through my blog and asked me to freelance for them. Plus, I’ve made an enormous amount of contacts in the world of publishers, publicists, and editors.
What one thing should beginning bloggers avoid?
Thinking short term. Google rankings depend on the age of your site and the amount of content. And nobody in the blogging world trusts you until you’ve been around for at least a year.
Your second session is “The Ultimate Strategy Guide for Literary Journal Submissions.” Would you give us a peek into this talk by sharing one of these strategies?
For a peek, I’ll ask a question. Do you know the four levels of rejection slips? Correct interpretation of your rejections can prove mighty handy in knowing which journals to persevere on and which to forget.
Should writers apply differently to Christian literary journals?
The Christian literary journals are Ruminate, Relief, and the big dog, Image. Rock & Sling died, and so did Mars Hill Review. The most important thing to know about Christian literary journals is that they’re no different. They just want a good story, good characters, and good writing. Also, remember the faith element should not function like a sledgehammer.
As a short story aficionado, what appeals to you about the short story?
As far as writing, it’s much more manageable, and much more friendly to experimentation. As far as reading, I love the punch. A short story can whale on you, and knock you out quick. Also, I love the way a collection amplifies all its individual stories into a resonating whole.
What three qualities must an effective writer for the Kingdom possess?
I call them virtues. Above my desk I’ve taped a paper with three words. The first is courage, because you’ve got to be brave to write what could destroy you or others. The second is perseverance because no writer who said, “I’ll give it a year” has ever succeeded—you have to give it your life. The third is discipline, because if you don’t flog yourself to write, nobody will.
If those three terms sound vague or sentimental, it’s only because you haven’t been on the journey long enough. Eventually you want to sell out your courage and write fluff that gets published. Eventually—meaning that 800th rejection letter—you want to slough off on perseverance and slide into a less demanding form of writing. And every day it’s a struggle to discipline yourself to sit in a chair for hours. Those are the perennial battles.
It’s not about possessing the virtues as much as nurturing them. Possession implies something static, while your reservoir of virtues will rise and ebb. Feed and grow these virtues. It’ll pay off.
Thank you John and many blessings on your writing efforts for Christ!