Kathi and Sharon Elliot are with us today discussing Sharon’s best writing advice: how to move from idea to manuscript to masterpiece. All books start with an idea and many people get stuck in the idea phase. Kathi and Sharon discuss how they get lots of ideas but taking an idea through a process is another thing entirely. Join in to learn about taking this idea through a process and:
- Why you need to know where you are going
- Why you haven’t thought of everything (even though you think you have)
- Why your marketing must be as creative as your masterpiece
- Why you must think like a best -selling author
Women want to be blessed by God, but many are experiencing defeat and disillusionment, not at all feeling like they are living in a blessed place. Besides that, we’re living in a time when it seems like almost everything is out of control. Author Sharon Norris Elliott empathizes with her sisters, understanding how easy it is, especially in our present distress, to slide into these debilitating feelings. In A Woman God Can Bless, Elliott uncovers a blueprint for a woman’s release from heaviness. The book supplies readers with a plan of action to put off what is causing them to languish, and to put on that which will launch them forward.
Links and Resources:
Giveaway: For a chance to win Sharon’s new book, A Woman God Can Bless, Answer this question in the comments below: What is the best way you are serving your audience right now?
West Coast Christian Writers Conference. Use the code RedHouse for $120 OFF your ticket price! In addition to the discounted ticket price, when you register with the discount code, you’ll also receive a special bonus: Susy Flory’s Red House Training – Escape the Stuck: Free Your Story at These 5 Places.
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Meet Your Hosts
Author, Speaker, Communicator Academy Creator and CEO
Sharon Norris Elliott wants for you what she wants for herself – that your life will count, so she encourages everyone who will listen to Live Significantly! Sharon is an award-winning author, popular speaker, astute Bible teacher, and founder/CEO of Life That Matters Ministries and AuthorizeMe® A self-proclaimed teaching and conference junkie, Dr. Elliott loves spending her time mining riches from the Word of God, writing books, preparing talks and sermons, designing PowerPoints for her presentations, and assisting others in meeting their publishing goals. Being Nana to Dallas, Jordyn, and Tahj is also an incredible thrill in her life.
Read along with the Podcast!
Writing at The Red House Podcast # 218
Move from Idea to Manuscript to Masterpiece
Kathi – Well, hey friends. Welcome to Writing at The Red House Podcast, where we gather at the table to break bread and tell tales with some of our favorite writers and speakers, who share their wisdom to help us share our story. Today, we are in the middle of a very fun series. I’m so excited about this. My Best Writing Advice. We are asking the experts what is their best writing advice? Some of our friends that are going to be teaching at the West Coast Writers’ Conference February of 2021. It’s going to be an online conference. Super excited about this. It’s going to be a mega conference, is what I’m hearing, because there are going to be over 60 workshops, so you get to pick and choose and figure out who is going to get you to the next level in your writing. I was able to pick some of my favorite authors and bring them on the show and ask them their best writing advice. Everybody else is brand new to me, except for this guest. I have known Sharon Elliot – it’s gotta be twenty years. It has got to be twenty years. You’re one of the first names I ever knew in Christian publishing. I’m so excited to have you on for the first time at the Writing at The Red House podcast. Sharon Elliot, welcome from all of our friends here, who want to be writers just like you.
Sharon – Thank you so much. It’s about time.
Kathi – I know, right? You know what? I’m slow, but I get there.
Sharon – We’ve just been speeding past each other.
Kathi – Okay, so how many books has it been?
Sharon – It’s been twelve, now.
Kathi – Holy cow. Okay. But it’s not just twelve books. It’s twelve books on top of doing other writing, editing, and let’s not forget the side passion you have of teaching fulltime at a high school.
Sharon – Exactly.
Kathi – I love what you did. So many times I’d be at conferences and you would be talking to teenagers about writing, and you’d be bringing teenagers to these conferences to learn about writing for our next generation. It’s very cool. Well, I want to talk to you, because when I saw this title, I said, “I need to know what she’s talking about.” This is the title of your workshop: Move from Idea to Manuscript to Masterpiece. Okay, so I’ve written a fair number of books.
Sharon – Masterpieces, by the way.
Kathi – Okay, they do not start that way, and let’s be honest, Sharon, some do not end that way. I’ve written a number of books that, you know what? No. But here’s the thing: as I’m getting older, I’m getting wiser. I’m not wasting time on the books that don’t need to be written. Okay, so all of these books start with an idea, which I think is great. I think a lot of people get stuck in the idea stage. They may already be good writers. They may have a great idea, but they get stuck. I’m wondering are you just writing because you keep producing masterpieces? Or were you ever in the stuck phase?
Sharon – Oh, absolutely. That’s why I know so much about that phase.
Kathi – You’ve lived there!
Sharon – I love to teach the beginners at conferences, because I’ve been one for so long.
Kathi – I love it.
Sharon – Yeah, I get tons of ideas. That’s the cool part, right? When you are called to write, and you have that relationship with God, He’s going to pour out all kinds of ideas. I like to tell people, “I have none of my own material, okay?” Everything that I write comes from Scripture, anyway. He’s just giving me this other twist on it, or whatever. So, what I help people with is to take their idea and actually go through a process with them. I’m helping them to actually storyboard. Much like Disney, right? I ask them questions about this book. If we’re getting stuck on the early questions, right? Maybe this idea is just an article. Maybe this idea is a sermon. But it’s not a book. So, I’m going to take my workshop attendees through these steps to look at their idea, to see if it can indeed be fleshed out.
Kathi – Thank you, because I have read many a book that should have been an article. It’s like, “Wow. You could have said that a lot faster.” So, I’m going to go off topic here, for a second. Have you seen the movie Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story?
Sharon – Haven’t.
Kathi – Okay, so it’s about a guy who created storyboards for movies you would know all the names of. Godfather. So, Harold and Lillian, and she was – it was fascinating. We just watched it on Friday, so that’s why this is so fresh, and that’s why I love that you’re talking about storyboarding. His wife was the historical researcher on all of these films. Such a fascinating combination. I have used the storyboard process for different books, and I love that you are going to be teaching on this, because there is an art to it. I think most people just try to sit down and just write a book. You have not given yourself enough of a map to be able to do that. A storyboard is the map.
Sharon – Right, and you haven’t thought of everything. You think you’ve thought of everything, but you haven’t thought of everything. So, the storyboarding process, the way I teach it, helps you look at your idea from the perspective of the publisher that is going to be looking at it. You’re starting on that from the very beginning. So, not only is it your vision, and all that God has given you in that, but you’re also looking at all the people who are in the business of selling this to the public. So, there are things you don’t know because you don’t work in the publishing industry. Right? So, that whole “God gave it to me.” Okay, yes. God gave you the seed. Now we’re going to pull in the person who is going to water it. We’re going to pull in the person who is going to fertilize it. We’re going to pull in the sun. All of that has to be added to enrich the soil.
Kathi – Yes! And here’s the thin: I think that we all have this Hollywood vision of what this is going to look like. “I’m going to create this masterpiece. We can skip over the manuscript. I’m going from idea to masterpiece like that.”
Sharon – Which is a problem.
Kathi – Yes, exactly. Which is an illusion that I lived with for a long time. We think, oh, we’re going to get hooked up with this publisher and they’re going to do all that business-y stuff. No. A good author will understand the need for masterpiece and marketing and all those are combined. You’re creating all of that at the same time. It’s a beautiful thing. If you’re doing it right, your marketing is as creative as your masterpiece.
Sharon – Must be. At the conference, at the West Coast Christian Writers’ Conference, I’m also going to have a circle of people. A small group. We’re going to actually get into those particulars. Right? About moving to the excellent level.
Kathi – I love it.
Sharon – So, I have ten ‘p’s in the circle that we’re going to concentrate on. Here are things you actually need. Almost Beatitudes in a way.
Kathi – Okay.
Sharon – Here’s what you need to do, other than the writing, other than putting this proposal together. I think together, the move from idea to manuscript to masterpiece is the workshop that a whole bunch of people can be in. Then, this small group, I think there are going to be eight or ten, something like that.
Kathi – It’s very small.
Sharon – We’re going to bore down farther.
Kathi – Okay, guys. If you want to get in on this, this is a conference like no other. They’re calling it a mega conference. There are going to be over 60 online workshops from agents to editors to best-selling authors like Sharon. It’s going to be February 25-27, 2021. Hang on to the end, because there is a special price just for Writing at the Red House listeners. You’re not going to want to miss it, and you’re going to have the opportunity to sign up for Sharon’s, not just workshop, but maybe her circle. There are so many different fun things that you’re going to be able to do. Okay, so here’s my question. You say that people need to learn to think like a best-selling author. Now, I have had the great privilege of actually, through a very weird set of circumstances, I get to call myself a best-selling author. One of my books was rereleased and did incredibly well. I don’t think I always think like a best-selling author, so what do you mean ‘learn to think like a best-selling author’? What does that mean to you?
Sharon – First of all, what that means to me is, best-selling authors are people who are open learn a lot. All the time. Right? One of the things, I think the key, to my own success, has been that I listen to people who are doing it already, and doing it exactly what they did.
Kathi – Right. You keep learning. I was at a very big writers’ conference one time, and I’m there with my little lunch tray. Standing right in front of me is Patsy Clairmont. I’m like, “Dude! What are you teaching, because I would have signed up for that? That’s where I need to be.” She goes, “Oh no. I’m just attending the conference.” If Patsy Clairmont is still attending conferences, then I need to get my butt to some conferences. So, I try to go just as a student a lot. Things are changing. Things are different. Also, as long as we’re in that place of a humble learner, we can become excellent at our craft. You can’t do that when you stop learning.
Sharon – No, and when you are the top? “I have on the badge that has ‘faculty’ written on it, and oh, no I cannot be bothered unless you have made an appointment.” You cannot be a prima donna as a best-selling author. Thinking like a best-selling author is to understand that this is work. You and I are the same personality type, I believe. We’re sanguine cholerics, right? This pandemic is like, “Are you kidding me right now? I can’t be with people?” That is how I am energized. I have friends on the other side of the spectrum who are just drained by people. I am energized by people. However, to be a best-selling author, I have to be able to put my behind in a seat, in front of the computer, by myself, and actually put in the work. Okay?
Kathi – It’s a discipline, isn’t it?
Sharon – It is.
Kathi – Absolutely.
Sharon – All of those things, and others, are how you start to think.
Kathi – I think it’s interesting, because being an author is a fulltime job, whether you have a fulltime job or not. There is so much that goes into it. I love that what you’re going to do here is really give people a peek into this. Guys, I love that this West Coast Christian Writers’ Conference is now open to everybody. You don’t need a flight. You don’t need a hotel room. You just need a computer and a pair of headphones and you are good to go. I love their theme this year. Cast Your Net: The Deep Awaits You. So, this mega conference, with over 60 online workshops from people like Sharon, and other amazing talented authors and agents and editors. It’s going to be such a deep-dive into learning. Also, connecting. They’re going to have opportunities for you to meet in small groups and do the thing. Get to be with people. Here’s the beautiful thing. They have a flash sale right after Thanksgiving every year, where you can get the lowest price. This conference is normally $249, but they have a quick flash sale, where you can get it for $129. However, for the entire month of November, you use the code REDHOUSE and you can get it for that flash sale price of $129. Plus, we’re going to be offering stuff. I’m so excited about this. Susy Flory did a teleconference at The Red House. We had five hours of her teaching an amazing workshop. It’s called Escape the Stuck: Free Your Story at These Five Stuck Points. If you are feeling stuck, the combination of Susy and Sharon? You’re going to be able to run free with your writing. Sharon, I know that you applied all of these concepts to your latest book. I’m super excited. A Woman God Can Bless. So, first of all, I’m very excited because you have a copy that you are going to be giving away to one of our listeners, here. We’re going to put the link in our show notes, so that you can get it on Amazon, but I want to know, what is the biggest difference between a book you wrote five years ago, and your thinking on writing A Woman God Can Bless? What’s the biggest difference there?
Sharon – Wow. That is a tough question. I think the biggest difference is really not how I write the books, but how I present them.
Kathi – What do you mean by that?
Sharon – To my agent, right, to go on to my publisher. I’ve learned a lot about marketing. A lot about my own placement in the business.
Kathi – It’s so key, right? It is so key to understand. It sounds weird to say, “Your place is over here.” No, you’re creating your place in the market.
Sharon – Exactly. So, building that lovely platform, right? Building that platform, not only to say, “Oh, I sell books!” but what is it that I give to my readers, not just through my books, but through the ministry?
Kathi – This is everything, right here. When you are showing up to serve? People hate platform, because they feel like it’s “Buy my book! Buy my book!” But when you are showing up to serve? It changes everything. It changes how you talk about your book, how you present your book. When you show up to serve, you’re saying, “Hey, this book isn’t for everybody, but I’m going to find the people who it’s for and I’m going to love them hard, and I’m going to serve them hard.” That’s the difference between a smarmy platform and a platform that loves and serves.
Sharon – I like that word. Smarmy.
Kathi – Yeah, ‘cause you can smell smarmy coming from a long distance.
Sharon – Yes, you can.
Kathi – When you’re showing up to serve, there is none of that. When you show up to serve, you’re saying, “Hey, I’m serving these thousands of people, and in those thousands of people, maybe my book is for ten of them, but you know what? I’m going to love hard. I’m going to serve hard, and the ten people who need my book? Their lives are going to be changed by that.” That’s a beautiful, freeing way to market your book.
Sharon – Exactly. I think that’s the biggest change. The understanding who I’m serving, how I’m serving. Christians have this big thing about, “Oh, I don’t want to push myself in the front.” Nuh uh. The Great Commission tells you to push yourself in the front. You are supposed to be talking, ultimately, about Christ, and that is the ultimate I am talking about all the time. The biggest change? Of course, I’m growing in my writing, but my early books are very much the same type of books. It’s just that I’ve understood, now, where I am standing. How I am serving. So, it’s making the books bigger, I guess.
Kathi – Yes! How you’re serving smarm free. I love it. Sharon, thank you so much for being on the Writing at The Red House podcast.
Sharon – Thank you, Kathi. This has been fun.
Kathi – Guys, what I want you to do is go over to the show notes and I want you to comment on there: What is the best way you are serving your audience, right now? We’re going to pick on winner to get Sharon’s latest book, A Woman God Can Bless. I just love it. I love the title. I love the cover. I love everything about it. You guys are going to be blessed by this book. And friends, thank you for blessing us with your presence today. You’ve been listening to the Writing at the Red House podcast. Now, go share your story of God’s extravagant love.
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