Kathleen Freeman Writes Her Dreams

By Diana Savage, director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal

It’s not an unusual night when Kathleen Freeman has a vivid dream that sparks an idea for a story.

Then she faces a mystery to solve: Who is the person in the dream? What are the circumstances surrounding the action? What will happen next?

“I start writing and keep writing until all those questions are fleshed out,” she says. This pursuit involves countless hours of research. “Good thing I adore learning,” she adds.

KathleenFreemanPinableOne story that began with just such a dream is her young-adult novel The Broken Feather, which won the 2012 ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Genesis contest in the YA category.

Other stories she’s written have been Genesis Contest semi-finalists in 2013 and 2014, semi-finalists in the 2013 and 2015 Promising Beginnings contests, and one was a finalist in ACFW’s Category 5 contest in 2013.

Her nonfiction articles have been published in Vista Journal for Holy Living, Northwest Christian Author, and Raising Small Souls. Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Magazine regularly publishes her Maddie Science stories, which she calls “quirky interviews in science that point to a great God.”

A universal theme flows through everything she writes. “All my work involves finding hope in hard times,” she says. In fact, she has titled her website, Finding Hope in Hard Times.

At heart, Kathleen is a teacher with a passion for science, history, and people. She believes God wants us to live with abundance, to look for miracles, to lift others up, and to shine light into dark corners. “Talent and potential also thrill me,” she says, “so I very much enjoy helping writers grow through editing and encouragement.”

One way Kathleen encourages writers is by serving as NCWA’s Critique Group Coordinator. In that capacity, Kathleen will lead an interactive WriteCoach Lab at the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.

Start Your Own Critique GroupStart Your Own Critique Group (WriteCoach Lab, Friday, May 15) – Move through the steps of forming and running a critique group. You’ll begin a sample group on site and learn how to critique the work of others with precision and encouragement. You’ll walk away with the tools you need to form your own group anywhere—or online—or you can choose to continue the sample group after the conference.

To benefit from Kathleen’s knowledge and skilled direction in this special WriteCoach Lab, sign up today for the 2015 Northwest Christian Writers Renewal!

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DianaSavageDiana Savage, a graduate of Northwest University and Bakke Graduate University, sold her first article when she was still in college, and she’s been writing ever since. Now the principal at Savage Creative Services, LLC, she is also director of the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal conference. Her latest book is 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times.

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Inventing Story: Writing for the Market

by Kathleen Freeman, pre-published author and Critique Coordinator of NCWA

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Inventing Story                                        (Picture of early bug zapper)

Some wonderful inventions came out of WWI, the facial tissue, the zipper and the tea bag. They found an eager market, and so changed peoples’ lives. Just after that time, other items were invented—soy sausages, which have a smaller market, but have become part of the vegetarian diet around the world, and a blower to push people out of the way as trams arrived. We’ve all experienced the wonders and frustrations of a zipper and the relief of a Kleenex. The simple tea bag has stayed in use for decades.

What happened to the people blowers, safety devices designed to keep folks from being hit by trams? Certainly, Konrad Aidenauer’s invention would have saved many lives. Its problem was market. The tram companies wanted to reduce accidents, but people, those weaving in front of trams in dresses and by bike didn’t want to be blown out of the way, eggs scattering on the ground, bicycles toppling. They wanted warning, a chance to decide for themselves whether to become trolley fodder or move out of the way.

Story is the same.

We can’t have a pushy agenda, and while Aidenauer’s bug zapper, another of his inventions, was a great idea and things like it are now used with gladness, it was ahead of its time.

The market wasn’t ready.

TweetYour story may be an invention before its time and the market isn’t ready.

So, what about us, as writers? Have we invented a cool product, hoping to force it on the market despite its buggy nature or people’s inability to use it without the availability of a good battery ?

There may be a need for your bug zapper in the future. For now, if the market needs a simple thing like a tea bag, or to blow their noses into something soft and non-chafing, so be it. We can have our part in keeping the bits of tea leaves out of mouths, and catching sorrows across the globe. As for that favorite story, be patient, be hopeful, its time may be coming.

TweetWriter, be patient and hopeful, your time may be coming.

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Kathleen Freeman 2Kathleen Freeman is passionate about history, the way it allows people to learn from the past, and the connections it helps form. She writes articles for Vista Journal for Holy Living, Clubhouse Magazine, and is a pre-published writer of Historical and other forms of fiction.

 

 

Pitch and Tell – Avoiding Story Stumbling

By Kathleen Freeman, Critique Coordinator for NCWA and Renewal Volunteer

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They ask about our story—editor, agent, fellow writer, the guy slicing the beef. We freeze. We panic, and what could have been a fun and meaningful conversation, and possibly begun a friendship, turns to disaster.

If someone asks what we love about our spouse, kids, or pet, we don’t panic, don’t get tongue-tied or fearful. Confidence oozes as we tell strangers and friends alike about little Lucy’s first steps carrying Tolkien’s The Hobbit. We confess that our face might be purple because we spent the last two hours helping our son write an essay.

Avoiding Story Stumbling

People don’t ask about our work to measure or judge us. Okay, some do, but they are the exception. Most ask because of burning curiosity. They want to know what fills us with the passion to neglect other things in our lives and write when we know the pitiful publication odds… let alone the chances of writing a NY Times best seller. What is our story about, and why is it so important? If we can articulate the answer in five words, thirty-two words, or 100 words of eye-sparking passion, it’s a powerful jump-start to the most flagging confidence. If we can’t, we’re not ready for a pitch—plain and simple.

TweetWe neglect other things in our lives and passionately write despite pitiful publication odds.

Unfortunately, passion, even articulated well, only goes so far. If asked about Bible verses pertaining to the deity of Christ and we’re not prepared, Bible fumbling and umming will ensue. We have to have pages marked, words highlighted. In the same way, when someone asks about our kids, pictures go a long way toward reminding us why we love them despite struggles.

Whether telling our story to the book table lady, or pitching to an editor or agent, a picture of our “baby” can help break the ice. A One Sheet, writing sample, and story proposal make a great snapshot. A One Sheet is an introduction to us and our story using artistry and character representative of our book. It’s a business card and photo rolled into one page. A transparent, gem-colored, $2.99 Rite Aid plastic folder makes a great showcase and will also hold writing samples and our proposal. Some have a place for a business card, as well.

In addition to making a great conversation starter, a folder looks professional—a step in the right direction beyond one-line zingers, elevator pitches or thirty-two word summaries. If we stumble, trip on our words, or develop rubber lips, we still look like a player.

Organization isn’t always a writer’s greatest gift. Receipts and napkins often carry our inspirations home. But failure in this can undo both preparation and passion. If our artistic, stream-lined folder is shoved in a bag among schedules, a pile of magazines, a semi-melted Hershey’s Kiss, a hairbrush, and receipts from the bookstore, our mind may feel like the chocolate is melting through it. A horror story of great proportion may ensue as we reach in and pull out our Arm and Hammer Essentials deodorant. While such a blunder might lead to a new friendship founded on mutual anti-aluminum beliefs, it’s more likely to make an editor flag down the time-keeper, eyes pleading for Calgon. No. We’re better off leaving anything extraneous in the car if we have an appointment.

Though due respect and admiration, editors and agents seek what anyone does—something excellent to read, and maybe a new friendship or two. To help him or her feel welcome and appreciated, we might do some internet research before the appointment. If we know her company switched from Prairie Romance to Steampunk Murder Mysteries, we can leave And the Bluebells Ring in our bag and dust off It Goes Whir, Thud. If horror terrifies him, we shouldn’t pitch ours. If she just lost her dog, we might be sensitive to that and not tell our story about Fido gifting the new neighbors with our bloomers.

We pitch, tell our story with proud passion, and then we’re done. Whether she wants us to send her something or not, we need to maintain an air of thankfulness. A “thank you for your time” is always appreciated. Beyond that, a no is not by any means the end of the story… unless we spin in angry circles and vanish in a puff of blue smoke.

TweetWhen we pitch, we tell our story with proud passion.

As chairs are stacked and conference attendees stare into space, smiles stiff, brains overflowing with information, we might ask the editor sitting alone if it was a good conference for him. We could ask the agent if she has a place to worship on Sunday, or offer coffee or a cup of water. Grace. Love. A bit of kindness. It may even help her move past our blunders and ask, once again, to hear our story.

It could happen.

 

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(Your next opportunity to pitch!)

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Kathleen Freeman 2Kathleen Freeman serves on the Board of Directors for the Northwest Christian Writers Association as the Critique Coordinator. She’s also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and she’s been writing and critiquing for enough years to be told she’s been around the block a few times. Her work appears in Raising Small Souls, the NCWA Newsletter, Vista Journal for Holy Living, and Clubhouse Magazine. She was the 2012 winner of the Genesis contest in the YA category, 2013 semi-finalist in the Mystery category, and the 2013 3rd place  winner of the Category 5 contest, Contemporary category. You can find her at www.findinghopeinhardtimes.com.