Don't do it!Don't quit! (2)

We’ve all been there. At the quitting point. When we decide that our work doesn’t matter. Or our voice isn’t needed. Or we just don’t have what it takes to get published. Author Gina Detwiler (co-author of Priscilla Shirer’s highly-acclaimed Prince Warrior series), can relate. Be encouraged by these tips straight from God’s Word:

If I had to pick the hardest thing to deal with as a writer, it’s rejection.

To any young person who asks me for advice in pursuing a writing career, I tell them: get used to rejection. The most famous authors in the world faced rejection, sometimes for long periods. We have a writer saying: “R.I.P.” Rejection Isn’t Personal. But it sure feels like it is! We writers tend to be sensitive, insecure people whose work becomes our identity. If a publisher or editor or agent rejects our story, it’s like they are rejecting us, even though the two are not the same.

I’ll be honest, here: I have quit writing many times. I’ve thought I should get a “real job,” like a plumber. Plumbers bring true joy to people. Nothing like an unclogged septic tank to make you break into a happy dance.

My resolve has never lasted long. But here’s the question: how do you know, when you are doing a thing, that God wants you to keep doing that thing?

One thing I do know, rejection and discouragement don’t qualify as reasons to quit. Remember Elijah? The Prophet of God who, after the greatest success of his career on Mount Carmel, sank into such a deep depression that he wished he’d never been born? (This is in 1 Kings 18-19, if you are following along in your Bibles.) Why? Because his super-duper miracle hadn’t changed a single heart (though it did stop a few). It only made his enemies madder. So, he thought, what’s the point? Why do I even bother?

I love that God answers his weeping and wailing with: lunch.

So, step # 1 When you want to quit: Have lunch. Then take a nap.

God makes Elijah some food and then tells him to take a nap. Can you relate?

Once Elijah is feeling stronger physically, God’s next direction is to take a walk. To the top of a mountain. I’ve found that “walking it out” is a great way to sort through the stuff of life. (Not running, mind you. Nothing good comes of running, LOL.) It’s also a great way to burn off those lunch calories.

Once he’s had a good nap and a nice walk, God addresses Elijah’s spiritual malaise. He asks, point blank: “Elijah, what are you doing here?” God’s not interested in his physical location, but his spiritual one. Elijah starts right in with more complaining: “I’m doing all this amazing stuff for You, but it was a total failure and I’m all alone, so please kill me now” (Paraphrasing here!)

No matter how sure we are of God’s role for us, there are times when we all think: “All I’ve done has gotten me exactly nowhere, so I must be a failure.”

Step # 2: Vent. This is healthy, for a time.

God’s not a fan of us grumbling and complaining to each other, but He’s okay with taking our laments directly to him. After all, there’s a whole book in the Bible called “Lamentations.” God lets Elijah repeat his complaints two times. But He doesn’t say, “There, there Elijah, I know how you feel. I’ve been there.”


When Elijah is done venting, God gives him a to-do list. It’s like God is saying, “Okay, feel better now? Great. Here’s what you’re going to do.”

Step # 3: Get back to work. Possibly in a new direction.

Keep in mind: God might tell you to do something you never thought you’d be doing. Elijah wasn’t going to be preaching or performing great public miracles for awhile. He wasn’t going to take down the evil King Ahab all by himself. God has something completely different in mind.

The first thing God tells Elijah to do is to anoint a Gentile king (and not a particularly good one) who would eventually attack Israel and Judah and wipe out all those who failed to heed his warnings on Mount Carmel. Then Elijah was to anoint Jehu as king over Israel, who would take care of all those that the other guy missed, including Elijah’s arch-nemesis, the wicked queen Jezebel.

Long story short: “You do your job, Elijah, and I’ll do mine.”

This didn’t happen overnight. In fact, Elijah wasn’t even there to see it happen, but from that moment on, he never doubted God’s word.

The last thing God gave Elijah: a friend. He led him to seek out Elisha who, the Bible says, followed him and “ministered to him.” Now he was not alone anymore. Their friendship is one of the sweetest and most fruitful in the whole Bible.

Step # 4: Find a friend.

When I was at the point of giving up, God gave me a friend. I found her via the internet, when I went looking for an editor who could help me fix up a novel I had decided to self-publish after trying for months to get a traditional publisher. She turned out to be not only a wonderful writer and editor but a great encourager. We eventually formed a writer’s group. We meet once a month to vent, critique each other’s work, and encourage each other. I can’t tell you what a difference it has made. Having a friend who is walking the same journey as you, who can offer encouragement and correction in equal measure, is vital.

So here’s the bottom line: if one of the greatest of God’s prophets can have a major identity crisis, then without a doubt so will we. Yet perhaps this is exactly the sort of thing we need to move us in the direction God wants us to go.

So until I start getting brochures for plumbing schools in the mail, I’m going to keep doing this thing and trust God with all the rest of it. I hope you will too.

If you feel like quitting, we hope that you’ll reach out to us. At Certa Publishing, we are full of resources, strategies and encouragement to keep writers on the path to publishing and beyond! Contact us today.


Don’t do it! Don’t quit!

3 New Years Resolutions for Writers

It’s that time of year. When we make resolutions that are often optimistic, yet too far-reaching and vague. But when it comes to your writing, we’ve compiled three resolutions that you can actually keep!

1. Be more vulnerable

Most writers can research a topic and write intelligently about it. Yet only the best writers can infuse a topic with their personal experience and soul-level ponderings. This year, strive to take your writing to the next level by inviting the reader just a bit deeper into your life and journey.  Does this frighten you? Author and blogger Jeff Goins offers,

There is something powerful about leaning into fear and doing the thing that petrifies you. Nothing stirs the emotions of a reader like writing “from the heart,” as they say. Don’t hold back now. This is the year where you show all your scars, and maybe people will thank you for it. Regardless, you will be sharing your truth and that is enough.

2. Find your voice

If you’re new to writing (or even if you’re not), chances are you are still looking for that ever-elusive “writer’s voice” that everyone says is so important. Well, they are right. It is important. So this is the year to nail it down.

But how, exactly, does one do that? Fortunately, the answer is very simple. You write. Then you write some more. Then you write more than you ever have. Think of a baker who makes multiple versions of chocolate chip cookies, until finally she nails it… or a carpenter who adjusts his tools, tries endless varieties of woods and leans into the sander just so until he achieves the perfect end result. You too can settle into just the right voice for your writing.

Bestselling author, Jon Acuff gives this advice:

The only way to find your voice is to write.

Only fear doesn’t tell you that.

Fear tells you that you shouldn’t write until you have your voice figured out.

Fear tells you that other writers all know their voices perfectly. Other writers have well sculpted points of view that are honed and polished. Then and only then do they sit down to write.

That is nonsense.

Never wait until find your voice to write.

Write until you find your voice.

3. Establish an online presence

If you don’t have social media accounts, a blog and/or author website, there really isn’t a good excuse. These are must-haves for writers today. And no, your personal Facebook page where you argue with Uncle Harry about politics and share dog photos doesn’t count. It’s time to establish a professional presence online.

The WordCounter blog suggests:

Working writers need a website and possibly a Twitter and/or Facebook account to help with promotion to connect with readers and clients. If you’ve already got something, check to make sure it meets your needs and is professional-looking. If you don’t have anything, either figure out how to do it yourself or hire someone. Your website doesn’t have to be huge or technologically advanced, but it should be professional and informative.

But don’t be overwhelmed. This can easily be done one step at a time. We’ve already put together some great resources for you on this blog.

Do you need to create an author website?

Need help with an Amazon author page?

Not sure where to start with social media?

We are excited to see what 2018 brings for our Certa writers. Contact us today to find out how we can partner with you!

3 New Years Resolutions for Writers (that you can actually keep)


How is your blog coming? If you’re like most people, you probably feel like it could use some improvement. Maybe you feel stuck or need inspiration. Well, today we’ve come to the rescue! A few weeks ago we began sharing some tips from Karen Hertzberg of the Grammarly blog, which included focusing on your topic, angle and organization. Today we’re finishing out the list. Enjoy!

4. Open strong

If you tied a worm to the end of a fishing line, how many bluegills do you think you’d catch?

Easy answer: none. Dangling a worm alone may get you a nibble or two, but if you actually want to reel ’em in, you need a hook. Think of your opening paragraph as an advertisement for the rest of your blog post, the thing that keeps your reader on the line.

Weak Hook:

Writing a great opening paragraph is very important. Here are a few tips to get you on the way to hooking your readers.

Yawn. Don’t tell your reader that something’s important, show her. Why should she want “a few tips” from you?

Strong Hook:

I just stopped reading your article. You had about two seconds to hook me, but your yawn-inducing opener made me surf on to something else. Writers (not to mention their websites) thrive on being read, so why do we invest so little time in crafting strong opening hooks?

Consider using a little foreshadowing in your hook. Suggest what you’re going to deliver within the article so we’ll be compelled to read on.

5. Write naturally

The one thing you have that other writers don’t is your voice. Cultivate it! If it works for your article, consider writing in the first person and including some relatable anecdotes. Whenever you can, tell a story, whether it’s your own or someone else’s.

If you don’t have a story to relate to your readers, you can at least infuse your article with your personal style. Instead of writing like you’re churning out a dry research paper, write as though you’re telling a friend about some cool new stuff you’ve learned. Use your own natural, conversational tone. Keep your language simple and direct. In other words, just be you. No one else can.

6. Write emotionally

Our brains are wired to look for danger, and so we’re naturally drawn to warnings and other information that’s skewed toward the negative. (In fact, the media uses the negativity bias to capture our attention because it works so well.) Using negativity is a kind of emotional writing.

But that doesn’t mean you have to be a constant downer in order to keep your readers hooked. You can create interest just by using emotional language to write on topics your readers care about. PRO TIP: How do you know people will care about your topic? Because you care about it!

7. Close strong

You’ve come this far. Now, it’s time to write a killer close that will help cement your post in your reader’s mind, create engagement, and encourage social sharing. Let’s look at a few.

  • Simply end at a natural stopping point. No wrap-ups, no frills—just end when you’re finished. Give it a try if it suits your post and writing style.
  • Wrap it up with a summary paragraph. This is by far the most traditional approach. Summarize your conclusions and add some closing thoughts.
  • Create a TL;DR. For better or worse, we skim when we read online. A TL;DR is usually a simple bulleted list that lets a reader see your conclusions at a glance. You never know—the TL;DR could inspire someone to go back and read the full article.
  • Fish for comments. When you wrap up with a compelling question, you encourage your readers to have a say. This can help you build community around your blog.
  • Ask for a social share. It never hurts to ask people to share your article if it resonated with them.
  • Ask the reader to subscribe. The reader made it to the end of your article—they like you! Ask them to connect with you on social media or subscribe to your blog channel so they can see whenever you post new content.
  • Promote a product. Ask the reader to make a purchase by promoting its value through your own testimonial.

Now that you’ve drafted a memorable post, edit. Clean up the clutter, check the grammar and eliminate wordiness.

At Certa Publishing, our goal is to help our authors promote their work through as many means as possible, including blogs. Contact us today so we can partner with you.

7 Easy Steps to a Killer Blog Post:: Part 2

What's in it for me_

We would love to tell you that all readers are motivated by a pure interest in hearing your story and supporting you as an author. But honestly, those traits likely only apply to one person… your mother. The truth is that readers choose books based on the question “What’s in it for me?” In the same way that people purchase food to satisfy their hunger and hire plumbers to fix their drains, readers buy books that will do something for them: either entertain, inspire or educate.

While the idea of self-interest may seem greedy, it has been proven to be one of the greatest generators of capitalistic societies, such as the one we enjoy in the United States. In his acclaimed work The Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, Scottish philosopher Adam Smith notes that free markets are enabled by the self-interest of its laborers:

It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.

With this information in hand, we must change our approach to marketing, In his book, Sell Your Book Like WildfireRob Eager states:

You will maximize the power of your marketing when you take the focus off yourself and place it on satisfying the self-interests of others. Let go of the idea that the public may be fascinated that you’re an author. Concentrate on answering their internal question: ‘What’s in it for me?’

So what does this look like practically?

1. Offer expert insight

When searching for a recipe, why do we often seek out successful chefs’ cookbooks? Because we want assurance that the recipe is tried and true and will turn out just as expected. In the same way, your reader has a problem they are trying to solve. They need an expert to help them. They don’t want advice from a novice.

I’m not expert, you may be thinking. But wait. Have you experienced something, learned from it and come through the other side with fresh insight and wisdom? Then you are an expert in that  subject.

  • Have you walked through a difficult divorce and found wholeness and healing? You’re an expert.
  • Have you started a business, launched a product or been promoted through your field? You’re an expert.
  • Have you walked through infertility, miscarriage, or extended singleness and still found God to be faithful? You’re an expert.

Leverage these experiences to offer hope, help and tips to those who are at the beginning of a similar journey.

2. Offer value

Tell the reader specifically what value your book offers.

Instead of saying:

This book chronicles my experience with cancer,


I will help you face cancer as an informed and empowered patient.

Which would you be more likely to purchase?

Rob Eager suggests using “value statements” in your marketing. These statements begin with the phrase “I will help you _________,” such as:

  • I will help you live with confidence instead of fear.
  • I will help your company build teams that finish tasks faster with less conflict.
  • I will help you regain the pain-free life you used to enjoy.

3. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes

Who is your reader? Why are they looking for a book on your subject? What problem are they trying to solve? One of the best ways to put yourself in your reader’s shoes is to think back to why you chose to write your book. Rob Eager asks:

What was the big reason that drove you to expend so much mental and emotional effort? consider the central reasons you were motivated to write you book. Had you recently overcome a challenge? Did you see injustice that needed to be addressed? Were you moved by the headlines that laid the foundation for a compelling story? If you experienced a personal result in your own life that led you to write your book, then that same result is probably true for many of you readers…

Thus, examine how the message of your book improved your own life. then use that knowledge to write powerful value statements for others.

At Certa Publishing, we see every day the value that our authors offer. We are passionate about helping you spread your message and attract as many readers as possible. Contact us today to see how we can partner with you.



What’s in it for me?


Let’s be honest. The internet is full of blah blog posts. We’ve all clicked on them, only to know within the first paragraph that we won’t be back. But you are capable of so much more…capable of writing a killer blog post that keeps the reader hooked from start to finish.

Karen Hertzberg, of the Grammarly blog, has compiled a great list of tips to get you started on your next post. Enjoy!

You sit down. You stare at your screen. The cursor blinks. So do you. Anxiety sets in. Where do you begin when you want to create an article that will earn you clicks, comments, and social shares? This simple formula will show you how to write a blog post by guiding you from blank page to finished work.

1. Choose your blog post topic

I know quite a few writers whose abandoned personal blogs are languishing in some dark corner of the Internet. These writers launched their blogs with joy and enthusiasm, but their momentum fizzled because they found it too hard to keep coming up with inspiring topics. Don’t let this happen to you. Here are some great ways to choose a topic that will resonate with your audience.

  • Pick something you’re passionate about. When you care about your topic, you’ll write about it in a more powerful, emotionally expressive way.
  • Pick something your readers are passionate about. What does your audience care about? It’s important to know so you can engage them. And don’t be afraid to go negative (e.g. Ten “Healthy” Foods You Should Always Avoid). The human negativity bias is legit.
  • Get inspired by research. Some of the best articles I’ve written germinated when I grew curious about a subject and decided to explore it.
  • Get inspired by other writers. No, I don’t mean you should plagiarize or blatantly copy ideas. But you can take a look at what your competition is writing about and put your own spin on these subjects. What new information or ideas can you bring to the table?

Keep a log of every topic idea that comes your way. You never know when you’re going to be stumped by the question “What should I write?”

Here’s a tip: Use a bookmarking tool like Pocket or EverNote to store clips and notes. Use your clip file for inspiration whenever your idea well runs dry.

2. Pick one clear angle

You’ve got a topic. Awesome! Now, what’s your angle? Avoid a broad approach—get specific. You’ll get overwhelmed if you pick a huge subject like organic vegetable gardening and try to cover it all. Instead, go with “10 Budget-Friendly Ways to Start an Organic Vegetable Garden.”

Think about the best approach to your topic. If you want to explain how to do something, a step-by-step how-to article could work well. Want to write about your favorite autobiographies or offer your best tips for throwing a memorable dinner party? Consider a listicle. There’s nothing wrong with a straight-up essay, either, as long as it’s well-organized.

Speaking of which . . .

3. Get organized

Whenever my dad had a disagreement with someone, he’d make his case and then storm off, but inevitably come back minutes later, one finger raised in proclamation, saying, “And another thing!” He did this so often that it became a running family joke.

Don’t write like my dad debated. Many bloggers make the mistake of not organizing their thoughts before they begin, which leads to “and another thing” writing. You’ll continue adding thoughts in a random, incoherent fashion. Articles like that don’t get read and shared, they get ignored.

If you’ve ever grown impatient while listening to someone tell a story, wanting them to just get to the point, then you know what it’s like to read an article that lacks organization. My dear content creators, no one wants to try to fish a few salient points out of your stream of consciousness.

Organize your thoughts with an outline to make your message focused and clear for your readers.

Check back soon for Karen’s last four tips to writing a killer blog post!

At Certa Publishing, we aim to offer our authors all the tools they need to get their message from the head to the page. Contact us today to see how we can partner with you.

7 Easy Steps to a Killer Blog Post

The Do's & Don'tsof Writing About Family

It’s coming. That Christmas family dinner at your home. Or the annual family gingerbread house competition. Or your yearly trek across the country to visit mom, Grandma, and cousins. Inevitably these events include some sort of reminiscing…about past practical jokes, hilarious childhood mishaps and even sentimental discussions of family members who are no longer with us. Yet under the surface of these sweet memories runs the undercurrent of less delightful ones…the pain of a divorce, reminders of abuse or unforgiven wounds that you’d rather forget.

As a writer, we promise that this thought will strike you more than once this holiday season. I really should write a book about my (crazy, sweet, dysfunctional) family. But as soon as the thought arrives, common sense will knock it down. I could never dishonor them by opening up our family history for anyone to read. No, those hilarious/ridiculous/turbulent memories belong only to us.

Will you please kindly reconsider? There are few more powerful narratives than those written from the author’s own experience. Yes, there are brilliant fiction writers who can conjure up fantastic stories, yet nothing carries the weight of someone’s actual experience.

In our recent post, Writing from Pain, we noted:

There is one phrase spoken during difficult times that can either draw you in or push you away: I know how you feel. When spoken by someone who has not walked in your shoes, this phrase can be difficult to hear. Yet when spoken by one who has experienced your pain, it can bring great relief. In fact, during periods of suffering, we often seek out those who truly know how we feel because their experiences and advice bring us comfort.

Yes, it will take great courage to tell your family’s story, but the resulting benefit to your readers will be tremendous.

So, once you’ve decided to embark on this journey, it is important to take into consideration these four factors:

1. Find the “why”

Like any book you write, a family memoir needs a purpose. It is important to define why you are writing this book. And here are a few reasons why you should not write it:

  • To tell your side of the story
  • To get revenge on a family member
  • To expose a family member
  • To get the information “off your chest”

Instead, ask the Lord to help you synthesize the work He has done in your life as a result of the family he placed you in. Has He taught you to forgive? To overcome? Has he given you the opportunity to serve the sick, disabled, or lonely? Perhaps you’ve walked through a divorce and found Him faithful to pick up the pieces of your life. These lessons make incredible foundations for books because they offer the reader hope and tools that they can use as they walk on a similar journey.

2. Write about whole people, not stereotypes

As an author, you have immense power over the way your family is portrayed in your writing. By focusing on certain stories, qualities or quirks, you can easily (and unfairly) misrepresent someone to the reader. Be vigilant about writing about them as whole people, not stereotypes. Was your father an abuser? Perhaps. But that’s not all there is to his story. Find a way to write about him in context.

In her post for Reader’s Digest, Kerry Cohen, advises:

Writing about others with compassion means writing about them as whole people. Your parents are not only the people who did those crappy things to you when you were 10 years old. They are also people who were once children themselves, who also had parents who may or may not have done crappy things to them. Maybe one grew up in a Detroit ghetto and had to share a can of beans with three other siblings for dinner every night. Or maybe the other grew up in a time when women were treated like possessions. Or maybe no one ever talked to either of them about sex when they were teens, or they were bullied as children, or they had to learn to speak English in a strange, unforgiving country.

3. Be upfront with your family

Please don’t let your family find out about your book from someone else. If you have the courage to write about your family, then you must first have the courage to tell them you’re going to do it. Approach the discussion with confidence and purpose.

Instead of saying,

Mom and Dad, I’m going to write about what a disaster our family is,


Mom and Dad, you know that we had some tumultuous times in our family, and the Lord taught me so much about how to overcome and forgive. I’d love to share my story so that others can learn from my experience.

I think you’ll find that the second presentation will earn you a great deal more support, even if they still aren’t crazy about the idea.

In her post, How to Write About Your Family… Without Getting DisownedKellie McGann shares her own experience of talking to her parents about her memoir:

To my surprise, after I explained that I wanted to share our story to inspire and encourage others, they were supportive. They joked about the ridiculous things my mother says and how that deserves a book of it’s own.

This step is especially important as you approach the publishing phase. Having a conversation prepares the person, and is a professional way to approach the situation.

To be honest, it will also relieve some of your stress. Whether the conversation goes well or poorly, you know what their reaction will be, and they know the deeper reason you want to share the story.

4. Write from a place of forgiveness

This one is so important that we didn’t know whether we should put it first or last! If you still harbor unforgiveness towards your family members, you simply cannot continue your writing. Otherwise, bitterness will become the undertone of your manuscript, whether you like it or not. And honestly, God cannot bless the work.

Instead of seeing this as an obstacle to your work, we encourage you to thank God for the opportunity to face your unforgiveness head on and to deal with it once and for all. Friend, we promise you that there is no greater freedom than releasing someone else from the bonds of your resentment. As they are freed, so you shall be.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)

At Certa Publishing we believe in helping our authors tell the story God has given them to tell. How can we help you? Contact us today.

The Do’s & Don’ts of Writing About Family



Are you ready to take your writing to the next level? Enjoy this excerpt of 9 Easy Tips that Will Improve Your Writing by Karen Hertzberg of the Grammarly blog:

Just like food, your writing needs spice. Keep these tips in your cupboard to take your writing from bland to scrumptious.

About a year ago, I got interested in cooking. For most of my adult life, I’d been making things like spaghetti with sauce from a jar, macaroni and cheese complete with powdered “cheese,” and the occasional boxed meal (just add ground beef!). Sometimes, I went a little wild and threw some canned tuna into the mac and cheese, or added real frozen broccoli to the boxed meal. My family ate it. They didn’t know any better.

But then, spurred on by a retired chef I befriended, I decided to give cooking a try. Real cooking. I bought fresh veggies and meats. I practiced until I had the knife skills to slice, dice, and julienne. I learned that stovetop burners aren’t meant to be set to high heat unless you’re trying to boil something. (Who knew?) I learned that basic salt and pepper make everything delicious. Throw in some well-chosen herbs and spices, and I can elevate the taste of my food to a whole new level. The kind that makes another friend kiss the backs of his fingertips like a French chef in an old movie and declare my meals delectable.

Writing is a lot like cooking. You can string together bland, canned phrases and hope that readers who don’t know any better won’t mind, or you can pull some spicy new tricks off the shelf and make your content truly delish.

The Basics

Before you can improve your cooking skills, you’ve got to learn a few basics. It’s the same with writing. Keep your text lean, use flavorful language, and express yourself confidently.

1. Begin with lean writing.

Flabby writing is unpalatable. Trim excess adverbs and use strong verbs or adjectives instead. (The comedian wasn’t very funny, she was hilarious.) Learn what a preposition is and how to streamline prepositional phrases. (The car didn’t come over the top of the hill, it crested the hill.) Slash extraneous words and phrases.

2. But don’t make it too lean.

Just as a cut of meat can be so lean that it’s dry and lacking flavor, writing that’s overly sanitized can sound sterile. Using an occasional adverb as a conscious style choice can make your writing sound more natural and conversational. Just don’t overdo it. Every adverb you use should have to justify its existence. If you can’t explain why you think it enhances your text, then out it goes.

3. Write with confidence.

Timid knife skills are dangerous when cooking. Timid language is a danger to writing.

Are you hedging your bets, using language that sounds unsure and wishy-washy? Eliminate phrases like you may want toit’s possible that, and they can try, and weasel words like probably and sometimes.

You don’t have to give your readers an out clause unless you’re truly sure that what you’re suggesting might not work. And, in that case, ask yourself why you’re suggesting it in the first place.

4. Use powerful words and imagery . . .

If you use a lot of “to be” verbs (be, am, is, are, was, were, been, being) or other linking verbs (appear, feel, look, seem, remain, sound), search for opportunities to spice up your writing with livelier verb choices.

Weak Verb

Alex felt anxious when it was time to give his speech.

Rather than telling the reader that Alex felt anxious, paint a word picture. Help the reader see Alex and recognize the feelings Alex is experiencing. The example below uses strong verbs and the time-honored advice given to writers: show, don’t tell.

Strong Verb

Alex’s hand trembled as he adjusted the microphone. His heart hammered in his chest.

5 . . . but keep your language simple.

Yes, use colorful, expressive language. But no, don’t hunt through your thesaurus in search of exotic words no one’s going to recognize. Don’t use fancy words just for the sake of it.

Keep your audience in mind. I had a colleague years back who regularly used SAT words that sent even those of us with stellar vocabularies scrambling for our dictionaries. We wrote for the video game industry. The average gamer is plenty intelligent, but most don’t flock to read articles full of words like cynosureexcogitate, and perspicacious. What a sesquipedalian that guy was!

Once you’ve mastered these basics, it’s time to find your writing style. Tune in next time as we share the remainder of Ms. Hertzberg’s article.

At Certa Publishing, we love partnering with authors who are passionately pursuing quality writing. How can we help you? Contact us today!

From Bland to Breathtaking: How to spice up your writing

Don't Let These Writing Myths Hold You Back

Most writers don’t start out as such. Instead, they are often insurance adjusters, school teachers, associate pastors or immersed in any number of other “ordinary” careers. And then slowly the Lord begins to shine His light upon the gift He’s given them. As the desire to be a writer grows in their hearts and minds, a mental roadblock often appears. But I’m not a writer. Writers are moody… or dysfunctional… or grammar Nazis. I’m just an electrician with 3 kids and a mortgage. I don’t fit the type. I won’t make it in the field of writing.

We are here to dismantle that roadblock and these other myths about writing that may be holding you back.

Myth No. 1: All writers hate their day jobs

Often we assume that writers spend their 9-to-5 hours trapped in a dreary cubicle, counting down the ticks of the clock until they can escape and do what they really love… write. This is a myth. Just like the successful doctor who also runs triathlons or the thriving high school teacher who plays in the community orchestra, many part-time writers are perfectly fulfilled in their primary occupations. In fact, authors frequently attribute part of their success to the inspiration and preparation that their day jobs provided.  So whether you plan to make writing a career or not, we encourage you to give yourself fully to all the work you do!

Myth No. 2: Writers lead dysfunctional lives (and that makes them better)

On the contrary, to be a successful writer, your life needs to be balanced, functional and firing on all cylinders. Meeting deadlines, handling critique and rejection… these all require soundness of mind and a steady composition. Sure, there are famous examples of writers who churned out bestselling work in between bouts in rehab, but this is not the norm and certainly not recommended. Make every effort to be emotionally, physically and spiritually healthy, and there you will do your best work.

Myth No. 3: All writers are ex-English majors

Great writing does not require a complete mastery of the APA Formatting & Style Guide. Still not sure when to use a semi-colon? Occasionally misuse there/their/they’re? You are not disqualified as a writer. Editors exist for a reason. If grammar is not your strength, utilize all the grammar tools you can find and hire a quality editor. Embrace your weakness, do what you can to improve, and don’t be restrained from using your gift of writing.

Myth No. 4: All writers are hermits

The bearded, pipe-smoking writer sits on the front porch of his mountain cabin, surveying the scenery as inspiration floods his mind. Is that the view you have of great writers? Sure, many find solitude helpful in getting work done, but there are plenty of successful authors who write in car lines, buses and noisy Starbucks corners. There are also many writers who are full of personality and don’t exhibit the stereotypical traits of the introverted genius.

In a recent Certa post, we excerpted author Jon Acuff, who wrote:

In our heads we see a small isolated cabin in a quiet patch of woods. There’s a porch with a swing out front. We sit on that when we need a break from all the amazing words we’ve written inside. There’s not much behind that cabin door, just a humble table like Hemingway probably used, a chair our grandfather made by hand and some sort of way to gather our words. For some, it’s a stack of fresh, white paper and a favorite pen. Others see a typewriter that makes real clickity clack sounds with each brilliant word you capture. The days pile up as the pages do too and we emerge from this literary sabbatical with a book and a beard. (Unless you’re a lady, the beard is not nearly as cool in your story.)

I thought that would be my life when I became a full time writer.

He goes on to explain how this is not his reality, nor the reality of most writers he knows. Don’t buy the lie that there is a one-size-fits-all personality type that all authors must fit in to.

At Certa Publishing, we love nothing more than watching someone discover their God-given gift of writing, and then help that gift bloom right there in the midst of their every day lives. Contact us today so we can partner with you!




Don’t Let These Writing Myths Hold You Back


Pro-Tips you can't ignore


If I set a goal to run a marathon a year from now, who should I seek advice from? My co-worker who runs the treadmill twice a week? My neighbor who has been trying to finish a 5K for the past three years? Or my old college roommate who runs (and finishes) 4 marathons a year? That choice is easy.

When it comes to writing advice, we encourage you to seek out the marathon runners… those who have pushed past the initial growing pains, endured more than a few bad reviews (or even books that have bombed), and have managed to establish a successful career.

Today we offer you such an opportunity! We’re excerpting an article written by bestselling author and former publishing executive, Michael Hyatt. In What I’ve Learned About Blogging From Writing More Than 1,000 Posts, Mr. Hyatt lends us the wisdom he has gleaned from many years in the trenches as an author, specifically as a blogger. Enjoy!

I started blogging eight years ago. Since that time, I have written 1,115 posts. At an average of 750 words per post, that is 836,250 total words—the equivalent of about fourteen full-length books.

During that time, I have learned a great deal about blogging:

  • I’ve had times when I felt creative and the posts flowed—and times when I couldn’t string two sentences together.
  • I’ve had times when I loved writing and didn’t want to stop—and times when I hated writing and couldn’t start.
  • I’ve had times when I thought about starting a second or third blog—and times when I wanted to quit the one I have.

I think I have just about experienced it all.

But I keep going, one post at a time. Why? Because blogging has benefited me in seven specific ways:

  1. Blogging has helped clarify my own thinking. This is the single biggest benefit of blogging to me. It’s why I started blogging to begin with. Sometimes I joke that I don’t really know what I think about a subject until I have blogged about it. Writing helps me untangle my thoughts.
  2. Blogging has given me a way to build a platform. When I started, a platform involved having a radio or television show, a bestselling book, or a highly visible speaking career. It took money, fame, or both. It was mostly unavailable to the average person. Since that time, blogging has provided a way for almost anyone to gain visibility and build an audience.
  3. Blogging has led to new opportunities. Probably half my friends today are people I met through my blog or social media. In addition, almost all my income today is derived either directly or indirectly from my blog—advertising, product sales, speaking, consulting etc. It has even provided the raw material for several books.
  4. Blogging has provided a way to engage with my tribe. My commenting system enables my readers to respond to my posts and to engage with one another. This has gone to a whole new level with the addition of my “Community Leaders.” These comments provide near-instant feedback and sharpen my own thinking. They have made me a better, more thoughtful writer.
  5. Blogging has resulted in a treasure trove of content. I am increasingly finding new ways to re-purpose the content in my blog archives. In the last year alone, I have used it to write two books (i.e., Creating Your Personal Life Plan and Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World), launch a new podcast, and record a new audio program.
  6. Blogging has established my authority and expertise. It used to be that you had to get a Ph.D. or write a book to establish your expertise in a subject area. While these are still valid paths, blogging provides a third alternative. For example, I do not have a degree in leadership nor have I written a book on that topic. Yet, I am constantly asked to speak on leadership and am interviewed by the media on this topic. Why? Because I have one of the most popular leadership blogs.
  7. Blogging has provided a way to contribute to others. It is the way I share what I have been given. I love curating information and packaging it up so that it is more easily digested. When I hear or read something stimulating, I want to pass it along. For me, blogging is my art. It is a labor of love.

One of the best parts of blogging is that you can learn as you go. Not every post has to be perfect. You can publish and tweak your way to success. The important thing is to start. And, if you have started, keep going.

At Certa Publishing, we encourage our authors to write, write, write! Perhaps you have a neglected blog that can be dusted off and made fresh. Or maybe you’ve never given blogging a try. We hope Mr. Hyatt’s article inspires you to make full use of this valuable tool!

Contact us today to see how Certa can come alongside you in your publishing process.

Pro-Tips You Can’t Ignore


Have you overlooked this free (but amazing) marketing tool- (1)


The writing world is full of expensive marketing tools. But there is one completely free tool that many authors are either neglecting entirely or failing to use to it’s potential: the Amazon Author Page.

But I already have a website, a Facebook page, and a LinkedIn page… do I really need this too? YES. While your other platforms may be well-done and informational, they are often only found when a reader intentionally seeks you out. However, an Amazon Author Page “lives” where readers live: on Amazon. Once the reader has found one of your books, it only takes one click to send them to this in-depth resource. And did we mention that it is free?

Still not sure what we’re talking about? Head over to author Paul Wilbur’s Amazon Author Page. With the help of Certa, Paul was able to create a dynamic, informative page that is helping him sell books and engage with his readers.

So let’s get started:

  1. Head here and follow the instructions for setting up your page.
  2. Add a biography. That’s the blurb that shows up on the left of the page. Make it brief, yet amazing. (You’re a writer after all!) Don’t forget to mention any awards you’ve won and links to your other platforms (website, social media, etc). Be sure to include your Twitter handle, since Amazon will auto-update your page with your latest tweets (yet another reason to keep those tweets interesting and fresh.)
  3. Add events. Include upcoming speaking events, book tour dates or podcast releases. Be sure to keep this up-to-date and remove any old events. Few things will send readers to that BACK button like seeing a 2-year old event on your page.
  4. Add as many photos as it allows. First, include your headshot, but feel free to get creative with the others. Your photos should reflect your genre and personality. Are you a travel writer? Include photos of your destinations. Does your cat make frequent appearances in your work? Include Fluffy’s picture! Readers love getting to know you better.
  5. Be sure that all of your books are listed. Many readers visit Author Pages to find the writer’s other work.
  6. Customize your URL. Instead of an Amazon-issued URL like, you can have Definitely more attractive.
  7. Add the RSS feed to your blog and new posts will automatically show up on your page. This is another great way to offer your reader a deeper insight into who you are and create meaningful connections.
  8. Use the “Customer Reviews” tab to respond to reader reviews. Readers LOVE to receive a personal comment from an author. This type of one-on-one contact can quickly turn a passive reader into an adoring fan.

In her post, How to Optimize Your Amazon Author Central Page, tech expert Carla King sums it up this way:

Amazon loves to sell books and Author Central gives us the opportunity to make more money, which, of course, helps them make more money.  So take advantage of it. Make it a living page by keeping it current and embedding your RSS feeds so that it’s always fresh and new.  (And make sure you’re updating your blog!)  List your in-person and virtual events. List your custom URL on your website, business card, and your email signatures.  If you’re like most authors, you’ll sell more books via Amazon than any other retailer.  Optimize here, and boost that number even higher.

Perhaps you find this all a bit intimidating. We understand! That’s why at Certa Publishing we specialize in walking with our authors each step of the way. Need help setting up your Amazon Author Page? We’d love to be of service! Contact us today.

Have You Overlooked This Free (but Amazing) Marketing Tool?