Monday, May 14, 2018

Writing Regrets


By Henry McLaughlin

After several years on this writing journey and from talking with others on the same path, I’ve found six things I wish I had done differently. Maybe you share some of them.

1) Following trends instead of my heart
We all have stories in our hearts. Stories that we need to write. Sometimes it’s for our own inner healing. Sometimes it’s to share something we’ve learned with others. It’s that story that simply won’t let us go. It’s the story that keeps drawing us even as we write something else.

And there are trends in the marketplace. The temptation to write what’s trending is strong because it seems like a sure pathway to success. One thing about trends is they change. That’s why they’re called trends. Related to this is by the time we finish our novel set in the current trends, we’re out of date. The trend has passed.
If our story is compelling and well written, it will sell no matter what the current trends.

2) Not investing more time in my writing dream
There are times in our writing journey when we can’t invest more time in our dream. Family, health, finances and a slew of other things can plunge us into crisis, and we have to step away from writing to deal with it. These are those times when we must adjust our priorities.

Once it’s resolved, it’s time to reconnect with our writing dream and reconnect with the writing community. This means investing time and sometimes finances. Making time to write is crucial. We also must invest in improving our craft through books, classes, conferences, and writing groups.

One of the benefits of this investing is we build our network. We meet people who instruct us, who become our mentors, who become friends and encouragers, who share this writing journey with us, who are there when this journey is at its loneliest.

3) Letting others define success
Success is unique for each of us. Finishing a book is a success for some. For others, it’s a multi-book contract or a NY Times bestseller or a movie deal. And, in reality, except for finishing the book, we have no control over any of these. In essence, we let others define our success. We need to define success for ourselves and put all our energy into it. If we allow others to define success, we’re sunk. Their standard isn’t ours. We’ve been given a dream and a calling. And a responsibility to fulfill them. Chasing someone else’s definition of success will cause us to lose our way.

4) Not stretching my writing muscles
We have to grow as writers. It’s part of learning our craft and developing our talent. I write in different genres because each challenges me to tell my story in a unique way, using techniques special to that genre. Now I write contemporary and science fiction and fantasy. I’m also writing flash fiction, short stories and novellas. Each provides insights into how I write, insights I can apply to all my writing and to how I mentor and teach others.

5) Listening to negative voices in my own head
I don’t know about you, but negative voices in my head are a fact of life. Voices that tell me I couldn’t write a line of dialogue if my life depended on it. Voices that tell me my plot is crap, my characters are stereotypes and my story world is unbelievable.  Voices that tell me I’ll never be published again.

There are other voices in my head as well. Voices that tell me I’ve been called to this writing journey. Voices that tell me I’ve been gifted with talent and ability to write and to write stories that will impact people for the better. These are the voices I need to ensure I listen to.

6) Letting others derail me
We’ve met these people. And not just in our writing. They could have been the coach or dance teacher who told us we’d never make it. The teacher who treated us as the dumbest kid in the class. It could be a parent who told us we’d never amount to anything. They sowed the seeds of a negative self-image. An image we sometimes reinforce with our own negative self-talk.

On our writing journey, these are the people who never seem to have an encouraging word for anybody. They seem to find some flaw in our writing and pick at it until we bleed. Their motivation is not to help, but to cast themselves as better than us. Jealousy drives them. They have to win, even if it means putting others down.  down.

They’re like the negative voices in our heads.

We decide who we’re going to listen to.

What’s on your list of regrets?

(Photos courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net, Stuart Miles, and Cooldesign.) 

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Tagged as “one to watch” by Publishers Weekly, award-winning author Henry McLaughlin takes his readers on adventures into the hearts and souls of his characters as they battle inner conflicts while seeking to bring restoration and justice in a dark world. His writing explores these themes of restoration, reconciliation, and redemption.

Besides his writing, Henry treasures working with other writers and helping them on their own writing journeys. He is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. He regularly teaches at conferences and workshops, leads writing groups, edits, mentors, and coaches.

Follow him on Facebook.


Monday, May 7, 2018

Writer, Be Yourself


By Andrea Merrell

We all love role models, and everyone needs a good one in his or her life. The danger comes when we spend all our time and energy trying to emulate that person (or persons), forgetting our own unique gift, talents, and abilities.

Pastor and author Bob Gass says, “When you devote your life to being like somebody else, you risk becoming something God doesn’t want you to be.”

The truth is our heroes and role models have their own set of weaknesses, character flaws, and blind spots—just like we do. But we can become so enamored with their notoriety and accomplishments that we fail to see those things. We also forfeit our individuality and miss the personal path God has set out for us.

Besides, there’s a lot to be said for walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. While we’re looking at the end result, we have no idea of the literal blood, sweat, and tears they have put in to make it to where they are today. If we knew the challenges and difficulties they faced and overcame during their journey, we might not be so quick to want to walk in those shoes. It takes hard work and lots of perseverance to get ahead. When we start out as newbies, we have a lot to learn. And that learning curve has no end.

One author says, “Some of the lessons God teaches us may be similar, but another person’s purpose, gifting, journey, and time frame will be different from yours.”

Writer, you are unique. God has called you because you have a story to tell, whether it’s in a devotion, article, blog post, or novel. He uses your personality, your background, your experiences, your training, and even your likes and dislikes to mold and shape the words He wants you to write. 

Be yourself. Find your voice. Step boldly into your calling, and let God open the doors of opportunity for you that only He can open.

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

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Don't Judge Me by My Synopsis


By Andrea Merrell

As writers, most of us shudder at words like proposal, query letter, and synopsis. We just want to write our stories and not be bothered with all the other stuff. Unfortunately, if we desire to be published, all these other elements are an important part of the process.

I can tell you from experience that writing a synopsis is not an easy task. Writing a back-cover blurb comes much easier for me. I can put a book in a nutshell without too much trouble. But my first attempt at a full-blown synopsis was a disaster. Some of it was all over the place, while other parts read like Cliffs Notes. Reading that first draft would not give anyone the desire to read my story. Back to the drawing board.

When you’re writing nonfiction, it’s much easier to do a chapter-by-chapter outline of your book. Each chapter has a title and a theme. You take that theme and break it down into bite-size portions that will whet the reader’s appetite. One short paragraph per chapter, and you have it.

With fiction, it’s much more difficult to break your story down without giving too much detail or leaving so much out the reader can’t follow you. I’ve read dozens of proposals by gifted writers who were unable to master the synopsis process. In other words, a poorly written synopsis is not necessarily a true reflection of your ability as a writer. Generally, when I receive a proposal, I skim through everything else until I get to the first chapter. It’s more important to me to see the quality of the writing—the storytelling and grasp of the craft—than all the preliminaries. If those first few paragraphs hook me, I am excited to read on. Then I'll go back and pay more attention to everything included in the proposal.

Does this mean we should not spend time making our synopsis the best it can be? Absolutely not. As with everything we do, we should always strive to give it our all. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Colossians 3:17 NKJV).

So, what did I do with my first synopsis? I sent it to a friend asking for an honest rip-it-to-shreds opinion. Then I took it to my writers’ group and asked them to do the same. This is how I ended up with a decent synopsis to add to my proposal for my first novel.

As we hear over and over, writing is not a solitary venture. We need a network of people who can help us get over the inevitable hurdles we face along our journey. As I’ve said many times before, the best advice I ever received early on in my writing career was, “Join a critique group, attend writing conferences, and network, network, network” (thank you, Vonda Skelton).

What struggles have you faced with writing a synopsis? How did you overcome them? We would love to hear from you.

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and David Castillo Dominici.)

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Sunday, April 8, 2018

Computer Tips and Tricks for the Tech-Challenged Writer


Our guest this week is computer-savvy author Linda Widrick.  We have asked her to share some of her computer tips with our readers. Be sure to check out her debut novel, Through a Shattered Image.


By Linda Widrick

You’re writing a best seller.  Your characters are driven, your adrenaline is flowing, and your plot twists and turns in ways you hadn’t expected. Yet you struggle when your lack of computer savvy hinders the speed with which you can brain dump into your masterpiece.
     
Here’s a brief look at a couple of computer tips I think you’ll find helpful.



Your New BFF – the CRTL Key
The CTRL (control) key typically sits on the far left of a PC keyboard. It changes the function of another key when both keys are pressed simultaneously. The shortcut list provided isn’t exhaustive, but let’s take a look at a couple of CTRL pairings to get you off to a good start. 

When your cursor is inside a Word document, pressing CTRL+N at the same time generates a NEW, blank document.  This is helpful when you want to move from your current document to a new one, such as when copying discard clips to a new outtake document.  The alternative (selecting the Start Menu>Microsoft Office>Microsoft Word) takes longer, while the simple CTRL+N saves time.  This applies to other Microsoft applications as well.

Pressing CTRL+N when your cursor rests inside your folder tree generates a NEW, identical window. This is helpful when switching between multiple folders.  

Most people are familiar with the copy/paste duo, CTRL+C and CTRL+V.  This pair is critical when creating subfolders in your folder tree. My current novel project, Cup Half Full, is a subfolder within my Writing folder. To create a subfolder inside my titled folder, I right-click the white space, then select New>Folder.   Then, I single left-click on the New Folder that I just created and press CTRL+C.  Back inside the white space, I press CTRL+V multiple times to create multiple empty folders that can then be renamed to better organize my project.  In seconds, I can rename these new folders with titles such as Research, Characters, Images, and Manuscript.  Organizing folder trees are an essential part of the writer’s life. 
  
Take Advantage of Auto Correct Keys
My current work in progress is set in Nicaragua. Unfortunately, I spell Nicaragua differently every time I type it. Rather than simply using Auto Correct, have you tried Auto Correct Options?  Right-click the misspelled, underlined word. Choose>Auto Correct>Auto Correct Options in the drop-down menu. In the center of the popup window, type Nic in the “Replace” box and Nicaragua in the “With” box.  Click “Add”, then “OK”.  Voila!  Each time you now type Nic, the word Nicaragua automatically appears. I use this feature for common words that I misspell frequently. 
            
Use Dual Monitors
You are using dual monitors, right?  If not, stop for a moment and research what you’ll need to purchase in order to set yourself up with two monitors.  You can see what graphics card is installed on your PC by going to the Device Manager, then clicking Display Adapters.  Take note of the information and provide it to your tech person (or your 2nd Grader).  Snap a photo of the back of your computer tower if you have to. Places like Best Buy or Staples can lead you to the right adapter if you need one.  I purchased an adapter for less than thirty dollars.

When working on dual monitors, I’m a stickler for continuity.  My manuscript doc is always on my right, and my discard doc, research materials, etc., remain on my left monitor.  I’m currently using a wallpaper image on my monitors that’s consistent with the setting of my novel. It keeps my head in that fictional place while the words continue to flow.
   
While this is only a taste of computer tips that are available, one thing is certain - there’s no need to fear technology. Understanding how to use computer shortcuts and tricks can streamline your writing process so you can more efficiently do what you love to do—write. 

Do you have any additional tips you would like to share. We would love to hear from you.

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

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Fiction writer, Linda Widrick, desires to be a beacon of light in a dark world, sharing God’s love and grace through her writing. A dreamer at heart, she pulls her inspiration for stories from snippets of everyday life. She and her husband, Keith, live on Florida’s west coast, but enjoy spending time on their farmland in upstate New York, the setting for much of her debut novel, Through a Shattered Image, (Prism Book Group, 2017).  Linda’s novella, To Complicate Matters, is tentatively scheduled for publication in 2019.  Linda is a member of ACFW and Word Weavers International. You might see her at a writer’s conference with a latté in one hand, and a bullet journal in another.  Please stop and say hello, or visit Linda at www.LindaWidrick.com, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.



Monday, March 19, 2018

Are You a Waffle or Spaghetti Writer?


By Andrea Merrell

There have been many books written about the difference in men and women and the way they think and approach life, but my favorite is Men Are Like Waffles—Women Are Like Spaghetti by Bill and Pam Farrel.

The concept is simple. The Farrels explain how a man’s mind is divided into boxes or squares, just like a waffle.

The typical man lives in one box at a time and one box only. When a man is at work, he is at work. When he is in the garage tinkering around, he is in the garage tinkering. When he is watching TV, he is simply watching TV. That is why he looks as though he is in a trance and can ignore everything else going on around him.

Not so with a woman’s mind, which resembles a plate of spaghetti. Just as each piece of pasta touches or intertwines with the others, so does a woman’s thoughts. Because of this, she can jump from one subject to an entirely unrelated one and back, with five rabbit trails in between, and never miss a beat. Men have a hard time keeping up. To women, it’s normal. It’s the way we’re wired. This is why women are such good multitaskers. As the Farrels put it:


If you attempted to follow one noodle around the plate, you would intersect a lot of other noodles, and you might even switch to another noodle seamlessly. That is how women face life. Every thought and issue is connected to every other thought and issue in some way. Life is much more of a process for women than it is for men.

By now you’re probably thinking, what does this have to do with reading and writing? The answer is simple.

The male is a logical thinker. Everything must fit into a category (or one of his boxes) and follow a pattern. For example, let’s take a look at the book he’s reading. Most men feel they are being completely objective when they analyze every part of the book, dissecting it into neat little packages. This is how it makes sense to them. Knowing that most stories follow a certain path, they can tell you what’s going to happen almost as soon as they begin. For example, my husband can usually tell me within the first scene of a Hallmark movie, exactly what’s going to happen. Is he right? Most of the time, yes. But that’s not the point.

For me, and for most women, structure is not the most important element. We get lost in the story. We fall in love with the characters, relate to their weaknesses and problems, and become their personal cheerleader as we wait for the proverbial happy ending.

Here comes the disclaimer. We all know there are always exceptions to every rule. This is especially true when it comes to the plotter and the panster (seat-of-the-pants writer). While it’s true that most guys fall into the plotter category, there are some who sit down to write and let the story take them where it will.

While the majority of female writers (at least the ones I know) are pansters, there are some who take the more painstaking road of charts, graphs, plot points, and story boards. This is what works for them. This is how they process their thoughts and creativity.

So, who’s right? Both. The secret lies in discovering the way God has gifted you, then running with it. Whether you read and write waffle style or spaghetti style, just do it.

What about you? Are you a waffle or spaghetti writer? We would love to hear your comments.


(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net, photostock, Suat Eman, and Aduldej.)


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Monday, March 12, 2018

How Investigative Reporting Can Enhance Your Conference Experience


By Lori Hatcher

I was trained in journalism at the illustrious Airport High School in West Columbia, South Carolina. In 10th grade Newspaper 101 class, I learned the key to investigative reporting: Ask questions. Specifically, Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? 

Although my journalism knowledge has grown since those early days, these questions continue to serve me well. They can serve you well too, if you use them at the next writers’ conference you attend.

For several days, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with fellow Christian writers. What a joy! And if you’re introverted, like most of us, what a fright! With rare exception, we’d much rather “speak” through our fingers in the solitude of our offices than through our mouths in a crowded classroom or dining room. Yet by meeting and getting to know your fellow writers and instructors, you can tap into a force more powerful than the cappuccino machine outside the Cove dining room.

Christian writing friends can give you a dynamic support network. They cheer you on when you’re discouraged, hold you accountable when you’re slack, and help you promote when the day comes to launch your project. They can connect you with resources and people you’d never meet otherwise and help you brainstorm when you get stuck. A knowledgeable sounding board when you’re struggling with POV, storyboarding, or endnotes, fellow writers can offer information to unknot the tightest writing snarl.
So, how do you break the ice and step into the sometimes-chilly waters of conversation? You engage in a bit of covert investigative journalism and start asking questions.

“Hi, my name is Lori Hatcher.”
  •       What genre do you write?
  •       Who have you met already?
  •       When did you begin writing?
  •       Where are you from?
  •       Why did you choose this conference?
  •       How did you hear about the conference?

These simple questions are guaranteed to launch a lively enough conversation that you might not have to speak again until you think of something stunningly brilliant. If the conversation stalls, turn to the person on the other side of you at the dinner table or in class and start over.

As I’ve networked with fellow instructors and conferees over the years, I’ve found kindred writing spirits who have become some of my dearest friends. I’ve met men and women who have graciously helped me fulfill my writing goals, and I’ve connected with up-and-coming writers whom I’ve been able to help reach the next level in their writing journey.

All because of six simple questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

In the weeks leading up to the next conference, I encourage you to practice them on your family and friends. Then, at your next conference, sidle up to a friendly face, ask a few questions, and go where the conversation leads.

What tips can you add? We would love to hear from you.

(Photos courtesy of Lori Hatcher, FreeDigitalPhotos.net, Stuart Miles, and kraifreedom.) 

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Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine and the author of the 2016 Christian Small Publisher Book of the year, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women. A blogger, writing instructor, and inspirational speaker, her goal is to help women connect with God in the craziness of life You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time . Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God).





Tuesday, March 6, 2018

5 Mistakes New Writers Make & How To Fix Them

by Alycia W. Morales      @AlyciaMorales

Editors are like treasure hunters. We work to find the gems in our clients' novels so we can polish around those bits of quality writing and make the entire manuscript shine. When working with first-time writers, I find many issues in craft or grammar and punctuation that are common pretty much across the board.

If you're a new writer who is ready to hand your baby over to an editor for polishing, consider going through your manuscript to find the following ten issues before you do so.

New writer? Here are 5 things to look for & how to fix them before turning your manuscript over to an editor. {Click to Tweet}

1. POV (Point of View)
Writers need to stay in one character's point of view at a time. Many new writers will start in one character's POV and then switch to another's in the same scene, paragraph, or even the same line. It's standard practice to be in one character's point of view for an entire scene. If you need to switch point of view, it's important to use a hard break on the page (designated by a # or * centered on the page).

How can you tell if you've stepped out of point of view? Look for areas where your character is suddenly hearing someone else's thoughts. Or seeing something outside of their immediate surroundings (like on the other side of a wall, in the next room, or outside when they're inside). Another way to tell is to look for paragraphs or scenes where you've switched to someone else without providing a break, as mentioned above.

To fix it, get back into your character's head. Remember, they can't see, smell, taste, touch, or hear something that isn't in their immediate surrounding unless it could happen in the natural (for example, hearing a helicopter approaching) or they have some kind of superpower that allows for it. Again, if you need to change who is seeing or hearing something, use a break and change point of view.

Note: this should NOT be done just to write in one or two sentences and switch back to the original character. Ask yourself if it's imperative to the plot to show that switch in POV or if you could have the main character of the scene observe the same thing.

2. Repetition
Repetition comes in many forms. I'm going to focus on three of them here, as these are common in new writers' manuscripts.

The first is repetition of words. Reading your manuscript out loud will help you identify these. Watch for the same word within a sentence or paragraph on the same page. To fix these, simply delete the repeated word and replace it with a better one. You can also rearrange the sentence structure to avoid having to use the word twice.

Pet words are very similar to the repetition of words. Only you will find them throughout your entire manuscript, and they will show up more than a handful of times. Some examples are: starting sentences with conjunctions (and, but, yet, although, etc.); adjectives (we don't need the person's eye color every time we see them); adverbs (used to describe verbs), and verbs (used over and over again because we can't think of some other thing for our character to do, such as sigh, smile, laugh, etc.). If you think you've discovered a pet word, do a search of the document for it.

The second is repetition of sentences. Now, you won't find the same exact sentence written in a row (hopefully), but you may find you've written three sentences to say the exact same thing. I see this a lot. Pick your favorite of the three and use that one. Delete the other two. Fixed!

The third is repetition of emotions or actions. Your character should not be feeling the same thing in chapter one as she is in chapter ten. If her emotions haven't changed, you haven't given her a character arc. She needs to be growing past the sadness or shock or depression or anxiety, not remaining in it throughout the manuscript. This require a bit of character development in order to fix it. Try going back through and giving her some hope she'll overcome that conflict she's facing. Write it in. Change her mood, and you'll change the reader's mood. Hopefully they'll keep going now instead of throwing your book in the trash. Do the same for actions. Go back and think of ways the character could move or respond that aren't the same every time.

3. Starting with Backstory (or using too much throughout the manuscript)
If you have to tell your character's backstory, maybe you're focusing on the wrong plot line. It's okay to include a little bit of backstory in your novel, but it should come out naturally via a conversation or in a sentence of a character's deep POV. But it shouldn't take up an entire chapter or paragraph. If your character's backstory is that interesting to you, consider writing more than one book. Or use it as a blog post to introduce your reader to a character. But don't start a novel with a chapter of backstory (or flashbacks). Start with the current action happening and move forward from there.

4. Information Dumps
An info dump happens when a writer believes they must explain something (usually in detail) in order for a reader to understand why their character is doing something, what is included in a setting, or some other facet of the story.

To locate info dumps, read through and ask yourself if you've included an explanation of a procedure, the artifacts in a room, why the character is doing a particular thing (like picking a lock), or anything. Info dumps are telling, rather than showing. I've seen these a lot in historical novels. These particular info dumps read like a history text book. Instead of showing the reader by putting the character in the scene and having him or her react to it, the writer will take an almost omniscient point of view and describe the history lesson as the character waits to continue their dialogue or move through the scene. Anywhere you feel the story slow or break as you step out of the character's point of view to provide a lesson, you've discovered an information dump.

To fix these, put the character back into the scene and remove the dump. Show what you're trying to say via the character's dialogue with another, their observations of the room they're in, or something they remember from that era via deep POV moments.

5. Over-description
Many newbie writers use multiple adjectives to describe one thing, whether it's the character's eyes, the object the character is holding or observing, or the room the character is standing in. The sentences look a lot like this: Mary gazed into Tad's deep-blue, sapphire, cold-as-ice eyes.

How to fix this? Pick the adjective that says the most and delete the others. You could even go a step further and show the reader how the eyes affect Mary, like this: When Mary gazed into Tad's sapphire eyes, a chill ran up her spine.

This is only a handful of the things I see first-time writers do in their novels. But these are extremely common. So, if you've been writing and are considering hiring an editor to help polish your manuscript, go through it first and look for these five mistakes and fix them. Your editor will love you for it.

What are some errors you've noticed in your own writing? (We all have them.) We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Make the Most of Your Conference Experience Part Two

By Andrea Merrell

In my last post we talked about how to make the most of your conference experience. This week, let’s look at a few more benefits and opportunities.

Networking
As I said before, be sure to have plenty of business cards (**with a photo**), and exchange them whenever you can. There is no greater place to connect with like-minded folks than a writers’ conference. These are people who get you. Follow up with them after the conference and establish a relationship. God has a way of creating kingdom connections and lifelong friendships ... and you never know how they might come. Sometimes our greatest blessing may come from the last possible place (or person) we expected.

Learning the Craft
Conferences offer a wide variety of classes from social media to how to write a novel. You can learn everything from the basics of writing to marketing. Writing is a lifelong learning process, and this is the best way to sharpen your skills. Always be open and teachable. Take notes and brainstorm with other conferees. If the classes are recorded, purchase the MP3s or digital downloads. This way, you have the entire conference to listen to over and over.

Pitching Your Work
Whether you have a completed manuscript or simply an idea for a project, conferences give you the opportunity to meet with agents, editors, and publishers. Prepare your elevator pitch (your project in 30-60 seconds), and be ready to present it at your appointment, at a meal, or whenever the opportunity arises. (You might even get to share it in an actual elevator.) These industry professionals will give you valuable feedback. Listen to them carefully.

Contests and Critiques
Many conferences will allow you to send in your work ahead of time to be critiqued. This is another way to get feedback on your writing. Don’t hesitate to enter. It’s not important whether you win or lose; it will be good experience for you to submit your words.

Conferences are an important part of your writing career. Think of them as continuing education.Whatever you do, be ready. When you ask God to bless you and open doors of opportunity, He will.

From your experience, what advice can you add? We would love to hear your suggestions.




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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.