Monday, January 25, 2016

Overcoming Your Fears

By Andrea Merrell

What are you afraid of?

This might be a tough question—and a strange way to begin a blog post—but it’s one we need to address in order to overcome those things that hold us back from fulfilling our destiny.

Among a few other things, I personally battle with a fear of public speaking, even though it is something God has called and equipped me to do. I have heard many pastors and speakers admit they fight the same battle.

Maybe you have a fear of rejection. We all do to some degree. That might be the very thing that keeps you from submitting your manuscript to an agent, editor, or publisher. One lady told me she was terrified to let her words “out of the nest.”

Perhaps you’re intimidated by other writing professionals, and this keeps you from attending workshops and conferences where you can network and polish your skills.

The question is this: What has God called YOU to do? Maybe He wants you to create a blog or teach a class. Perhaps He’s nudging you to start a critique group in your area or mentor a new writer. If you’re a novelist, maybe He is calling you to write devotions. If your sweet spot is magazine articles, God might want you to venture out and try historical fiction. The key is to pray over your writing, and allow Him to lead you out of your comfort zone.

When fear rears its ugly head and we don’t feel capable of doing what God is calling us to do, we have the choice to react with fear or respond with faith. He knows us intimately and is well aware of our weaknesses and insecurities. That’s when He works the best—when we admit our need for Him. The Word says His power works best in our weakness (1 Corinthians 12:9). In other words, He does not call the equipped; He equips the called. Don’t base your God-given destiny on personality, education, degrees, connections, talents, and—especially—your past.

If you are battling fear in any area of your life—especially in your writing—let’s look at a few Scriptures that will help you overcome.

  •  And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6 NLT). The plan is God’s. He started it and will complete it. All we have to do is trust and follow His lead.

  •  Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free (Ephesians 6:7-8 NIV). When whatever we do flows from the heart—and not the head—we know He is working in and through us.

  • For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT). Fear is not of God, and we can walk in His power and love when we take His Word to heart.

  • There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love (1 John 4:18 NKJV). When we love God and love what we do, it will be reflected to others and fear will have to go.

God has given us a covenant of peace, and His desire is for us to walk securely and confidently in our calling. Don’t let fear—rational or irrational—steal your destiny. I once heard Joyce Meyer say, “Do it afraid.” In other words, if you are afraid of something you know you are supposed to do, do it anyway. God will honor your faith and obedience and give you the power, strength, and courage to complete the task and come out victorious.

What do you struggle with the most? If you are trying to overcome fear in a certain area, we would love to pray with you.

(Photos courtesy of Morguefile and FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Stuart Miles.)

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Writing a Remembrance

by Alycia W. Morales
@AlyciaMorales

One of the reasons that I write is because I want my stories to resonate with people for generations to come. I think about how books written by J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, and so many others have resonated with me ... and how my children enjoy them now. Hopefully their children will read and enjoy them as well. These stories are generational. They have been passed down from my parents, to me, to my children. 

And these are the types of stories I want to write. I want generations to come to read my stories and find some nugget of remembrance within them. I want them to:
  • Feel like they can conquer the world
  • Feel like they can overcome that obstacle that's been holding them back from victory
  • Laugh until their sides hurt
  • Get away from life as they're sucked into the story world ... a sort of mini vacation
  • Cry as they relate to the characters
  •  Learn something new that changes even one thing in their life
  • Be challenged to look inside themselves and decide it's time to let God be Lord over an area of their life
  • Remember what it's like to love
  • Taste joy
  • Find freedom
  • Dream
But the number one thing I want people to get out of my stories is to remember God and who He is and what He has done for His people. Even if my stories don't overtly proclaim Jesus as Lord, they will be written from a Christian worldview - one that illustrates the character of God.

So as we move forward into the new year, what is the reason you want to write? We'd love for you to share it with us in the comments below!

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Beware of the Dangling Modifier

Today's guest is author, editor, 
and writing mentor Kathy Ide.

By Kathy Ide

When you begin a sentence with a modifying word or phrase, the subject of the sentence is what must be modified by that word or phrase. A "dangling modifier" is a phrase that does not clearly and sensibly modify the appropriate word.

EXAMPLE #1: Changing the oil every 3,000 miles, the Mustang seemed to run better.

The subject of this sentence is "the Mustang." The modifying phrase is "Changing the oil . . ."

A Mustang cannot change its own oil. So you'd want to rewrite that as something like: "Changing the oil every 3,000 miles, Sandra found she got much better gas mileage."

EXAMPLE #2: Walking to work, the eucalyptus trees reminded Lynette of Brandilyn Collins's latest novel.

The subject of this sentence is "the eucalyptus trees." The modifier is "Walking to work . . ."

Eucalyptus trees don't walk to work . . . not even in Brandilyn's novels. So rewrite: "As Lynette walked to work, the eucalyptus trees reminded her of Eyes of Elisha."

EXAMPLE #3: Slamming on the brakes, the car swerved off the road.

Unless you're Stephen King, the car in your story probably didn't slam on its own brakes. So: "Robin slammed on the brakes, and the car swerved off the road." 

Or: "When Robin slammed on the brakes, the car swerved off the road."

EXAMPLE #4: Six months after attending the writers’ conference, Gail's article was accepted by a publisher.

The subject of this sentence is "Gail's article."

"Gail's article" did not attend the writers’ conference. So you'd want to rewrite to something like: "Six months after Gail attended Mount Hermon, her article was accepted by a publisher."

SIMULTANEOUS ACTIONS

Be sure the action in the modifying phrase can be accomplished at the same time as the action in the rest of the sentence.

EXAMPLE: Hugging the postman, Delilah ripped open the box containing her new novel.

Delilah cannot simultaneously hug the postman and rip open a box. Reword to something like: "After hugging the postman, Delilah ripped open the box containing her new novel."

MISPLACED MODIFIERS

The position of a modifier determines what thing or action is being modified.

EXAMPLE #1: Sharon sent out a proposal for her book on living with horses last week.

Sharon's proposal wasn't for a book about "living with horses last week." Reword: "Last week Sharon sent out a proposal for her book on living with horses."

EXAMPLE #2: The editor told me on Thursday I have a book signing.

Did the editor say this on Thursday, or do you have a book signing on Thursday?

"On Thursday, the editor told me I have a book signing." 

Or: "The editor told me I have a book signing on Thursday."

If you have a question or comment for Kathy, please leave it in the comment section below.

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and kibsri.)

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Kathy Ide is a published author/ghostwriter, editor/mentor, and writers’ conference speaker. Her latest book is Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors. To order, visit www.secretsofbestsellingauthors.com. Kathy is the founder and coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network (www.TheChristianPEN.com) and the Christian Editor Connection (www.ChristianEditor.com). To find out more, visit www.KathyIde.com.


Monday, January 4, 2016

Set Your Writing Goals for 2016

By Andrea Merrell

Well, 2015 has come and gone, and we are now facing a brand new year. How many times have you made a list of resolutions that usually end up as unrealistic (and unmet) expectations? We all do it—make promises to ourselves to eat healthier, exercise more, go to the gym, and lose weight. Some of us plan to have lunch with an old friend, clean out the garage, or spend more time in God’s Word.

As a writer, have you made resolutions for 2016? Maybe you’re determined to finish a manuscript and start working on those proposals and query letters. Perhaps you plan to make a schedule and set aside a certain portion of each day to devote to writing. If you’re like most writers, you’re probably trying to decide which conference is the right fit for you. There are countless opportunities for us to grow as writers and polish our skills.

Whatever your goals and desires for this year, try something different. Instead of making the usual resolutions—which fade further and further away with each passing day—make reasonable commitments instead. The key is to establish small, bite-sized goals that can easily be achieved. Setting unrealistic expectations leaves us disappointed, frustrated, and ready to give up completely. In other words, don’t vow to have your book on Amazon by this time next year. Instead, establish some reachable goals and then make a commitment to stick to them.

But stay flexible. Life happens. When it does—and it derails your best efforts—don’t beat yourself up and pronounce yourself a failure. And, whatever you do, don’t quit. Tomorrow is a new day and God’s mercies are new each morning.

The list will be different for each person, but here are a few ideas to get you started. Pick out a couple of items, and then put them on your calendar or to-do list.

This Year I Will:
  • Pray over my writing and commit each project to God.
  • Set a certain amount of time each day/week to write.
  • Clean and organize my desk/workspace.
  • Spend less time on FB, Twitter, and computer games.
  • Attend at least one workshop or writers’ conference.
  • Take an online course.
  • Stop procrastinating and complete one unfinished project (devotion, article, blog post, short story, or novel).
  • Step out of my comfort zone and try a different genre.
  • Start a blog.
  • Blog more often.
  • Update my website.
  • Join a critique group.
  • Enter a contest.
  • Offer to mentor a new writer. 
  • Promote other writers (books, blogs, or services).
  • Write Amazon reviews for books I enjoyed.
  • Send thank-you notes or e-mails to those who have helped and inspired me. 
Do you have other suggestions you would like to share? We would love to hear from you.

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/Stuart Miles and Digitalart.)

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