Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year ... New Goals

By Andrea Merrell

All too fast, 2016 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 2017? Maybe you’re determined to finish a manuscript and work 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 desires might be for this year, try something different. Instead of making the usual resolutions—which fade further and further away with each passing day—establish small, bite-sized goals that can easily be achieved. When we set unrealistic expectations, we end up 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 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.

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 Commit To:
  • Pray over my writing and commit each project to God.
  • Set aside 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 (or blog more).
  • Update my website.
  • Join a critique group.
  • Offer to mentor another writer or help them promote their book, blog, or services.
  • 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 Miles/satit_srihinm.)


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Twas the Night Before ...

Alycia and I are so honored to bring you informative posts each week that will help you in your writing journey. Thank you for taking the time to read and share our words over this past year. We would both like to wish you 
the merriest Christmas ever.

By Andrea Merrell

As a change of pace from our normal posts, I offer you this silly little poem for writers. (I'm not a poet, so be kind with your edits and critiques.) 🌝

Twas the night before deadline
And all through my mind
No creative thoughts were stirring
Of any shape, form, or kind

Reference books were stacked
By my computer with care
In hopes inspiration
Would quickly be there

My family was snuggled all warm in their beds
While visions of book sales swirled round in their heads
And me with my ratty old robe and hairband
Settled in at my desk with dark chocolate in hand

When out on the porch there arose a loud crash
I sprang from my chair and made a mad dash
Away to the window to see who was there
Hoping new ideas had been delivered with care

I opened the window to get a quick peek
While snowflakes gathered rapidly on both of my cheeks
Then what to my sleep-deprived eyes did appear
But a man dressed in red on a gigantic reindeer

My hands flew to my face as I was turning around
Down the chimney came the big guy without a single sound
A large furry bag was flung over his back
And he looked like my editor opening his pack

He spoke not a word but went straight to his task
I watched him with wonder, not daring to ask
He gave me a package, then touched the side of his nose
He winked and he nodded as up the chimney he rose

I opened the package as he sailed away like the tide
Knowing my muse was tucked safely inside
Scrambling back to my desk, my fingers flew fast and tight
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good-night! 

(Photos courtesy of Miles.)


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

10 Unique Gifts for Writers

by Alycia W. Morales     @AlyciaMorales

As Christmas rapidly approaches and gift exchanges abound, what can you get the writer in your life? Tired of the status quo gifts of blank journals, coffee cups and Starbucks gift cards? Here are a few unique ideas.

1. Write the Story journal. This one isn't just a blank journal. It's one I just discovered at Barnes and Noble this morning. The story topic is at the top of the page, along with a list of words to be used in the story. I found it at my local Barnes and Noble on the Bargain Priced shelf for $9.98. Or you can buy it on amazon via Piccadilly.

2. A gift card to their favorite place to shop for clothes. We always hear about giving money to support their trip to a writers conference. What we don't consider is the dress code. Pre-conference is the time I always go clothes shopping. Sometimes it's because I've eaten too many holiday goodies over the winter and need a new size. Or I want something fresh in my wardrobe. Find out where your author loves to shop and get a gift certificate for there.

3. An iTunes card or amazon card. Writers typically have a soundtrack they put on when they sit down to create a story. Mine varies with what I'm writing. Having a fresh gift card allows the freedom to pick out a new soundtrack listen to as they write their first novel of the year.

4. Board Games. Not every writer enjoys a board game, but I would say quite a few do. Especially if they have children or grands. My family loves to come together to play, and after spending all day looking at a computer screen and interacting electronically, I'm ready for some face time with family. We love Clue, Dominion, Life, Monopoly Empire, Scattergories, Risk, and others. What do you like to play?
Click the photo to link to Etsy.
5. Essential Oils. This may sound crazy, but I recently won a set of essential oils and a diffuser. There's nothing like plugging that in after a long day at a desk and relaxing to the warm scent filling the room while it also helps fight against the dryness of the winter season. I'd much rather have that than candles. Beware that some people have allergies to scents. But if not, this is a great gift.

6. A writing retreat. Maybe you're a husband who wants to bless his writerly wife or vice versa. Every writer loves being alone for a period of time, or they wouldn't have chosen writing books as a career path. What better treat than to send them off on a writing retreat? Maybe you know someone with a time share that would be willing to donate a week to your spouse. Or you know of a cabin tucked away in the woods or a cottage at the beach.

7. A subscription to Artful Blogging. This blogging magazine is perfect for the blogger in your life who loves photography as well. Produced quarterly, it's $14.99 on the shelf. A subscription would be a wonderful gift.

8. An annual gym membership. Let's face it, writer spend the majority of their time on their butt. In a chair. In front of a screen. We really need exercise on a regular basis if we don't want to gain 100 pounds. What better way to get your writer out the door and active than giving them an annual membership to the local gym?
Click the photo to link to Etsy.
9. A standing desk. Ranging from $100 or so up, these desks keep us on our feet and off our backsides. They promote healthy posture and help burn calories that wouldn't be burning if we were sitting still. Personally, I would love one of these. And my own office space in the house. Like a room. By myself. With all my books.

10. Shop Etsy for hundreds of unique gifts for writers. I love Etsy. There are gift ideas in abundance, and they're all handmade or vintage. These Sherlock pencils are a hoot. I, for one, would love a vintage typewriter. I also know a writer who collects them.

11. BONUS: What does your writer collect? Find a piece of their collection they don't already own and go with that. Perfection!

What would you wish for if you could ask for anything a writer would love? Be sure to leave a comment. We'd love to hear from you!


10 Unique Gifts for Writers {Click to Tweet}

What would your writer ask for this Christmas? 10 Giftable Ideas via @AlyciaMorales {Click to Tweet}

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

29 Quick and Easy Social Media Updates to Share

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Sometimes connecting with our readers through social media seems like such a time-consuming chore that we can’t pull together the energy to even try. Truthfully though, by doing a little bit on social media consistently, we can make great strides. Today I’d like to share some easy—quick—ways to make those important connections. My tips are divided into three sections—things we can do now and share later, things we can share on the fly, and things we should avoid sharing.