Monday, February 19, 2018

The Struggle Is Real

by Alycia W. Morales     @AlyciaMorales

I'm sitting here waiting for the water to boil so I can cook pasta and sauce for dinner. Sometimes, my writing career feels like a pot of water waiting to boil. Like it's taking forever to warm up so I can make something from it.

Have you ever felt that way?

Today isn't helping, either. For the second day in a row, my planner's outlined and detailed plans fell through the cracks of my day like broken pasta falls between the stove and the counter when it misses the pot. Forever lost.

See, I had plans. Good plans. Plans to write and plans to dream and plans to edit my client's work. I thought thoughts and was ready to put them into the Scrivener pages so they could magically, over time, transform into a book.

But after a day filled with dental appointments and fillings and sore teeth and a strained system after stressing in the dental chair all morning, followed by a day of another child's doctor appointment and spending three hours on the road in order to deliver a job site key to my husband, my planner sits without check marks noting the work I finished, because it. never. got. accomplished.

The struggle is real, my friends. {Click to Tweet}

Days come when life gets crazy - hectic - busy - beyond our control.

What's a writer to do? I have learned that just as I am imperfect, I have to learn to roll with life's imperfections.

I may not have gotten more than this blog post on the page. I may not have been able to edit my client's awaiting novel. And I may be frustrated and feel like finding a cabin in the woods to run off to so I can have focused time to get things done without interruptions.

But I did spend some quality time with the Lord - three full hours to think without being interrupted. I did get to focus my thoughts on my novel and discovered I need to develop my secondary characters so I know what roles they play in the plot. I did manage to finish reading Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth before the kids made it to school this morning.

And...

There's always tomorrow.

At least we hope there is.

As Proverbs says, don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today. But when life interrupts today, be still and know that He is still Lord of your day.

Monday, February 12, 2018

How to Keep the Writing Juices Flowing

This week, we welcome DiAnn Mills as our guest blogger. If you haven't heard, she has a new book out this month! High Treason released February 6th. Click here to find it on amazon.

by DiAnn Mills

Every writer has faced the monster called dried-up-prose. We read what we’ve penned from the previous day, and it sounds like the same dull voice from the day before that. Is there an inspiration injection to keep the writing juices flowing?

I don’t have an instant solution to perk creativity, but I do have several ways to help unplug the dam. One of these suggestions just might flood your brain and add momentum to your next word and the next.

Keep your #writing juices flowing with these tips from @DiAnnMills. {Click to Tweet}

Continuing Education
Writers need to navigate the waters of learning. This means study the respected blogs about the craft, publishing, and social media. Get involved in a writer’s group. Research conferences for a good fit.

Physical Checkup
Our thinking takes a hiatus when our bodies aren’t healthy. Make an appointment with a doctor for a complete checkup. If lifestyle modifications are prescribed, do it.

Sound Nutrition
If our diet consists of sugar, grease, and air, we have no fuel to write.

Exercise
Start the day with exercise. Raise the heart rate and the neurons will fire with creativity.

Pray
God has the answers to our problems. He speaks to us through His Word, other people, His creation, circumstances, and meditation. His answer may not be as quick as we’d like, but God promises to answer our prayers.

Read
By reading in our genre, we’re able to see various techniques and find inspiration for our own writing. Losing ourselves in another writer’s work frees our mind to solve the problems in our own work.

Take a Break
Walk away from your writing for a period. Relax in a walk or a hobby. The key is give it a rest.

Confide in a Trusted Friend
Many times our friends see our failings before we do. Take a deep breath and confide in someone you trust.

Mentor a Serious Writer
The best way to get our minds off ourselves is to help another person. The satisfaction of guiding a writer who longs for instruction often changes our thought patterns.

We all need to keep the juices flowing to inspire readers with our work.

What way do you keep yourself inspired?

  DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational ReadersChoice, and Carol award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian Fiction books of 2014.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and The Mountainside Marketing Conference with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.
DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on Facebook: www.facebook.com/diannmills, Twitter: https://twitter.com/diannmills or any of the social media platforms listed at www.diannmills.com.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Make the Most of Your Conference Experience Part One

By Andrea Merrell

With conference season getting underway, it's important for you as a writer to plan ahead. Let’s look at a few pointers to help you make the most of your conference experience. Whether you’re a newbie or seasoned attender, it helps to be well prepared. Here are the basics to get you started.

Check the Website
First and foremost, check the website. You will generally find valuable information on both the conference and venue.

Clothing
Check the weather (extended forecast) and pack accordingly. Take a jacket or sweater. Even in the summer months, classrooms and auditoriums can be chilly. Layering is always a good idea. Most conferences are business casual, and comfortable shoes are a must if you will be doing a lot of walking. If there is to be a banquet or awards night, you might want to take something dressy.

Food
Some conference centers have restaurants, snack bars, and vending machines, but it’s helpful to take your favorite snacks for those in-between or late-night moments when food is not available. You can also pack a few bottles of water or soda. Be sure to keep mints with you at all times. 😊

Materials for the Conference
  • Business Card with your name, e-mail address, website, and photo. Make it a point to exchange business cards throughout the conference. This is how you network.
  • One-Sheet: a single sheet of paper with the title of your project, genre, word count, your photo and bio, and a short synopsis of your story (think back cover blurb).
  • Notebook, extra pens, conference schedule, and driving directions.

Other Important Items
Don’t forget your vitamins, prescription medications, and toiletry items (toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, razor). Many conferences are now fragrance free. Be sure to bring your chargers for phones, tablets, laptops, and extra batteries.

The most important thing to remember is to relax and make the most of your experience. It’s especially hard when you are a newbie, but we were all newbies at one time. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek help when you need it. Christian conferences are a special community of like-minded individuals who are more than ready to help each other.

In my next post (2/26) we'll talk about more ways to have a positive conference experience. In the meantime, happy writing.

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/jannoon028 and Andrea Merrell.)

TWEETABLES



Monday, January 22, 2018

Writer, Don't Despise Small Beginnings

By Andrea Merrell

The writing and publishing industry is a wonderful, exciting, terrifying place. Can I get an amen?

When attending my first writers’ conference, I was overwhelmed … the proverbial fish out of water. What in the world am I doing here? I asked myself for days. I was completely outside my comfort zone, not to mention my element. Observing and speaking with others who had achieved varying levels of success almost convinced me I would never make it. But I hung in there and persevered.

Fast forward ten years. Since that first encounter with the industry, I now have three nonfiction books published (LPC Books), have contributed to numerous anthologies, and even won a few awards. I have written hundreds of devotions, articles, short stories, and blog posts, and am currently working on three novels. For the past few years, it has been my privilege to teach at a variety of writers’ conferences—something I never dreamed possible. But will all these "accomplishments," the greatest blessing of all would have to be the countless number of amazing people that have crossed my path over the years, many of whom have become close friends.

Why do I say all this? Those of you who know me well understand that I’m definitely not one to toot my own horn (that’s why marketing is my Achilles heel). The reason for sharing these achievements is to show you what God can do in your life when you obediently step into your calling and trust Him to lead the way.

And it all happens with small beginnings. Zechariah 4:10 says Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord  rejoices to see the work begin …

Moving toward my God-given destiny began with someone handing me a business card. My connection with that writer and speaker led to a small writer’s retreat, my first conference, and several life-long friendships. As I continued to move forward—one tentative baby step at a time—God opened doors of opportunity I never even knew existed. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has a plan and purpose for our lives. That’s a promise you can take to the bank.

When something small happens to you, especially in your writing career, you may tend to overlook it or think it unimportant. But look at the life and ministry of Jesus. He could have chosen hundreds of disciples, but He carefully selected twelve. He could have called down manna from heaven, but He fed thousands of hungry people on a hillside with a small boy’s lunch. Jesus shows us how a mustard seed—the tiniest of seeds—can grow into a massive tree and how a pinch of yeast raises a lump of dough to be made into bread. These are all kingdom principles that teach us valuable lessons.

What drives you as a writer? Do you have a heart to write for God or simply desire to see your name on the cover of a book? Are you willing to do what it takes to learn the craft and perfect your gift, or are you trying to advance by skipping important—and necessary—steps? Do you want to be bigger or better?

Pastor and author Bob Gass says, “All the prayers in the world won’t pressure Him (God) into giving you what you are not ready to handle.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said, “Most people would succeed in small things if they weren’t troubled with blind ambition.”

Jesus said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much (Luke 16:10 NIV).

Nobody wants to be a flash in the pan—well-known and successful today and gone tomorrow. Bigger may be easier to measure, but gradual success is a solid foundation that is valuable, lasting, and fulfilling.

Writer, if God has called you and given you the gift of words, commit that gift to Him, take one baby step at a time, and watch what He’ll do. Don’t allow yourself to get discouraged, and never compare yourself with others. God has great blessings in store for you, and His timing is always perfect. Don’t ever despise small beginnings. Be thankful for each step forward and believe that God will open amazing doors of opportunity made just for you. With Him, all things are possible.

Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/markuso, nenetus, and Andrea Merrell.)


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Monday, January 8, 2018

Writer, Make 2018 Your Most Productive Year

By Linda Gilden

My favorite Christmas gift this year was a big whiteboard for my office. In some ways it feels old school but in others, it feels like a brand new start. I am going to keep up with my deadlines and writing goals better than ever.

Every year in January I vow this year will be more productive than the last. I will write on a better schedule. I will try a new genre. I will keep all my projects on a calendar and meet my word count for each one every day. I will get endorsements before I am done writing my book. I will query for at least five articles a month. I will do my best not to miss my quiet time each day. The list goes on and on. And, of course, the last one on the list every year—I will exercise more.

All these things are well-intended but rarely come to fruition. This year, I said to myself, is going to be different!

How can I possibly make so many changes in the way I work? How can I be more productive in 2018?

Don’t Overcommit
Why is it so hard to say no? Every year there are many writing opportunities. Figure out which ones best fit the purpose and mission of your writing and stick to them.

Make Use of all the Digital Assistance Available
This year I am going to learn more about how to make my devices work for me.

Keep a Visual Plan in Front of You
Here is where my new whiteboard comes in. I need to be able to see where I am and how each project fits into my schedule with the others. I can post deadlines and submission dates. And if I need to adjust a bit to make it all work, it is easily done.

Plan Times of Rest and Refreshment into Your Days
As a fairly busy writer, I have found if I don’t plan for “play” time, it doesn’t always happen. Schedule time with your family and children to make sure you are making plenty of memories. Unplanned interruptions as well lead to precious family times. Don’t overlook them as bonus opportunities with your family. You can finish your article later.

Whether you use a whiteboard, keep a written calendar, or schedule your goals digitally, won’t you join me in my efforts to make 2018 the most productive and organized writing year yet?

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles.)

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Linda Gilden is an award-winning author, speaker, editor, ghostwriter, and writing coach. Author of twelve books and over a thousand magazine articles, Linda loves helping others discover the joy of writing. Her twelfth book, Articles, Articles, Articles will be released early this year. Linda lives in SC with family and loves every minute spent with her six grandchildren (great writing material). Visit www.lindagilden.com.