Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday Survival 101

Whew!

This has been a super busy past week, and the next week is still looming with lots of celebration, days off work (and days off routine for kiddo's!), and way too many leftovers, so I'll make today's post quick and easy.

Holiday Survival 101

1. Don't eat the yellow snow
2. Don't eat any fruitcake, ever
3. Know that stocking gifts don't actually have to FIT in the stocking
4. Rejoice that Target currently has all of their organizational bins and storage on sale
5. Realize that extended family members really do leave after awhile ;)
6. You don't have to eat all of the leftovers in one sitting (same with Christmas candy!) but it's okay if you do ;)
7. Know that it's also okay to have more fun with your kid's new toys than they do
8. Consider the possibility that eggnog isn't that bad
9. New Year's resolutions are just goals, and goals are meant to be broken...oh wait...
10. Rejoice that Christmas is now a year away! ;)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Poem prompt...

T'was the Scribble Chicks night before Christmas,
When all through their homes,
They were scurrying quite wildly
Like little yard gnomes

Their stockings were hung
quite crookedly by the tree
In hopes that Aunt Clara
wouldn't still be OCD.

The toddlers were running
On a sugar high around the room
Sucking on peppermints
And chasing the dog with a broom.

Oh come on, you know you wanna finish it ;)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wishing You Miracles

I had to pinch myself today when I had the sarcastic thought, "My three-month-old is teething? Really? Merry Christmas to me!"

And then I realized -- last year I was begging God for this three-month-old. I never would have guessed then that after years of infertility, I would be holding a precious babe in my arms this Christmas season.


 Makes it all a little more real for me. Jesus came as a baby. A tiny, screaming, teething tot.

May your Christmas and New Year be full of undeniable, unforgettable miracles…

But especially the greatest Miracle of all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

M is for Marketing

Here's a link to the book trailer my peeps at Barbour made for my new YA release, coming January 1st. (in case you haven't seen it yet)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJa7O8je-xM

What do y'all think? :) I'm soooo impressed! And now I wish it was a movie or TV series. LOL!

I wanted to get some feedback today on marketing.

What works for you guys, fellow authors? And what doesn't? Do you still find value in doing blog tours, book giveaways, contests, etc? Sometimes I see contest opportunities for readers to win a chance to stay at an Inn at the hometown of the book's setting, or a free Nook, or something, and I'm like - wow. Who is paying for THAT? I can't! But in my heart, dear reader, you all win a free Nook ;) If the thought still counts, anyway. hehe.

And most importantly when it comes to marketing - readers!! What do YOU respond to? Do you sign up for contest and giveaways? Do you like reading blog posts by the characters in a book? What are you sick of seeing? What could I do to promote my YA that would blow your socks off? Do you attend book signings? Do you like getting freebies such as bookmarks or pens or magnets, or are they annoying?

I have ideas, but I'd love some fresh input straight from where it matters :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Writing A.D.D.

My house is a wreck and my brain is a muddled mess... all because of too much sleep. You heard that right -- my Tiny Human only got up once last night. My poor nervous system doesn't know what to do with rest anymore.

So it's one of those days when I'm having a really hard time focusing. My writing is experiencing a crazy burst of A.D.D. -- but the deadlines aren't going away.

So what happens when you have trouble focusing? Tell us how you get back in your groove. Can't wait -- you might be helping me today!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Joy of Handwritten Christmas Cards

There's a million things to love about the Christmas season—the lovely, pine-y smell of a fresh tree, the gloriously festive music, all the delicious eats and holiday TV specials and of course, the best thing of all, celebrating the birth of our Saviour.

But one of my favorite personal traditions is writing scads of handwritten Christmas cards, even though I'm pretty sure my hand is going to fall off from sheer exhaustion each and every year.

I don't know why, maybe it's the writer in me, but I can't simply sign my name on a card and send it off. Ditto for typing one of those mammoth double-spaced accounts of my entire year in review. On a side note, if you're a fan of either of these scenarios, I forgive you. :)

For whatever reason, I feel compelled to write a personal note in my super-loopy handwriting to each and every person on my card list, and I'll be honest, nothing delights me more than getting one in return. In fact, I tape each and every card, note included or not, on my kitchen cabinets so every card gets its proper due.

Even in the age of iPods, iPads and everything else with a lower-case "i" in front of it, sometimes the simplest of pleasures are the best ones—like a nice handwritten card nestled in the middle of your monthly bills and store catalogs.

A few lessons from Disney World

Whew!

I'm back from a 9 day vacation to Disney World with my parents and my husband and my three year old (we drove, so there was 4 days of travel and 5 days in the parks total) and I can honestly say I've learned several things.

In no particular order...

1. My 3 year old is more patient than I am when it comes to waiting in lines. Ahem.

2. I can read 2 and 1/2 novels in 4 days when stuck in a van that long.

3. I have more of a thing for Pirates than I realized.

4. Older kids (think ages 5-7) can throw way worse tantrums in public than my 3 year old (who was seriously an angel the majority of the trip!)

5. I'm addicted to Pinapple ice cream

6. Eating everything I want + walking around Disney for 5 days = only a 3 lb temporary weight gain (miracle!)

7. My husband rocks.

8. Vans can hold a lot of luggage.

9. My daughter loves toys. (ha)

10. It's not a good idea to watch a belly dancer in Morroco (Epcot countries) while stuffing your own face with couscous...

11. "It's a Small World After All" really does linger in one's head for 9 days.

12. Never pack for a trip assuming the weather will be one thing and not another (I had to buy short sleeve shirts while there!)

13. The staff at Disney World are truly the nicest and most patient people on Earth.

14. My daughter loves the Little Mermaid as much or more than I did at her age, which makes me smile so big...

15. No matter how old you get, you will never stop wanting a Mickey Mouse ice cream bar or outgrow the giant Lego store in Downtown Disney.

16. No matter how old you get, the Spinning Teacups will always be fun.

17. I actually DON'T have to wear high heels every day (though I did miss them!)

18. Vacations are good for the soul!

19. Coming home from vacation is even better! ;)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Setting Reasonable Goals


People ask me all the time -- how do you write a book? A book, my friend, is written one e-mail at a time. At least that's what my friend Annette used to tell me as I sent her my chapters.

I know this probably seems over-simplified, but this is my second complete book and here's the system I find works best for me.

I write a vague outline, then I get started. See my little sticky notes? My goal is ten pages a week. I can increase this as my daughter gets less demanding, but 10 pages a week allows me to finish my book in approximately five months.

The publisher's given me seven months to complete the books, so I'll have two months to edit before I turn in the manuscript.

So since I want to do 10 pages a week, I place the sticky notes on my desk calendar. When I'm done with my goal for the day, the sticky note goes on the memo board and I get a mental release of endorphins. :)

Tell me... what works for you?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Six Essentials For Every Proposal

I know we've talked a little bit about proposals in the past, but considering they are the first step to ever getting published, I think we can talk a little more about them! :) Here's a quick check-off list of six of the most important things your proposal needs.

1. Your name and contact information


This may seem like a no-brainer, but honestly, I have heard several editors talk about how they found the best proposal in the world and weren't able to publish it because they didn't know who wrote it. Make sure all of your contact info is on the first page and then be sure to put the tentative title of your project and your name at the top of each successive page.

2. Your "elevator speech"

The idea behind an elevator speech is that you can tell someone a basic synopsis of your story in two to three sentences, or in the time it takes to ride an elevator. This can be a great way to open your proposal - don't give everything away in this section!

3. Your credentials

What makes you qualified to write this story? Whether you're the same age as the main character in your story, you have the same occupation, you've written something that was published before (even if it has nothing to do with this particular story), put it down right here.

4. Your marketing ideas


Do you have a blog? A website? If your answers to those questions are no, then go start a blog (it's free!) and register a website domain of your name. Publishers love to see authors who are willing to help out the marketing team. Have you ever done any speaking? Better get practicing in front of the mirror because odds are, you'll be doing some now.

5. Your full length synopsis

No holds barred here - spill every bean your story has. We tend to like to keep a few secrets whenever we're telling people about our stories - but editors don't want to find out big surprises when they're contemplating buying a novel.

6. Sample chapters


Typically, you'll want to include the first three chapters of your story. So, polish, polish, polish those chapters! Some publishers will want the entire manuscript if you are a first time author, so be prepared to be asked for it.


I hope this helps! If you want to see a sample proposal, please email me at erynnmangum@gmail.com and I'd be glad to send you a copy of one I used in the past. :)

Stay warm!!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo #Fail

For some reason, I was a little nervous about opening my Inbox today. Now that it's December 1st, and I did not, in fact, write 50,000 words of scintillating novel copy, I half expected the NaNoWriMo folks to chew me out by e-mail.

I imagined something along these lines...

Dear Christa,
Remember the movie Elf and how that big doofus in yellow tights played by Will Ferrell couldn't meet his quota of Etch a Sketches?

Well, I regret to inform you that you and him share something significant in common since you're approximately 46,303 words short of your NaNoWriMo goal of a mere 50,000 words in November.

Basically, unlike your industrious writer peers who lead equally busy lives, you were a ginormous slacker. And for that utter slackdom, we've now nicknamed you, Christa A. Banister, "Epic Fail." We can only hope that next year you'll step up your game in a serious way.

We'd wish you a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays but we're not sure if you deserve that.

Regards,
The Esteemed NaNoWriMo Team

Of course, I didn't get an e-mail scolding from NaNoWriMo at all—even if I probably should've. But even if I wasn't quite as ambitious as I hoped, however, I still feel that signing up was a good idea because I wrote nearly 3,700 words of new copy. And for the first time in a good, long while, I wasn't meticulously editing myself as I was doing so.

I felt like a third grader in Mrs. Goffin's English class again, you know when I wrote just for the fun of it and savored every delicious moment along the way. I never edited myself then, and writing never felt like "work." So if I learned anything from the whole NaNoWriMo experiment, it's that switching things up can really help your game, even if you didn't make it all the way to the proverbial endzone.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Writing prompt time - and a giveaway!

Okay, so in a hat-tip to the holidays, let's do a Christmas-themed writing prompt today :)

You can choose to finish the below sentence in the comment box. Keep it under 100 words, and be creative. Have fun!

He looked so good standing under the mistletoe, she could just....

PS - If you participate, you'll be entered to win a copy of my novel THE GINGERBREAD SEASON, a novella in a two-novella compilation entitled MISTLETOE PRAYERS. (other novella contributed by fellow author Marta Perry) If you already have my novella, then play anyway and encourage others to enter too.

Thanks!

Merry Christmas! (We can say that now, it's after Thanksgiving. hehehe)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Your Dreams

For anyone who needs encouragement to keep following their writing dreams, even ten years into them... read this.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A little holiday comparison...

Did you know there's about 495084504859045840 different ways to make turkey crafts? I do, because my daughter has brought them all home from preschool over the past month. hehehe. Our home has been turkied, and it's not even officially Thanksgiving yet! And, of course, I can't throw ANY of them away. She's a turkey prodigy, and they're all so beautiful!!! :)

Are you ready for Thanksgiving? Apparently preschool has been ready for the entire month. ;)

I'm ready for the food, and the family time, and maybe most of all, the nap! Hehe. Just kidding. Sort of. What I'm definitely ready for is SLEEPING IN FRIDAY instead of going Black Friday shopping. Are you braving the crowds? Or will you be like me, snuggled under the covers and reveling in the fact that your Christmas shopping is already halfway done, and you already got your coveted Old Navy peacoat at 75% off earlier in the week, and you don't really care to risk life and toes in JcPenney or Best Buy?

Sometimes I think our writing is like the holiday season. You have this story. It's fresh and homey and lovely. Makes you feel good, like a big family dinner and a nap on the back porch. It's colorful like Autumn leaves, and typing the end is the pumpkin pie dessert. Its perfect. The perfect day, the perfect story, the perfect writing experience.

Then you sell the novel, and Black Friday hits. You're suddenly in a flurry of revisions and line edits and "OH MY GOSH WHY DID THEY CUT THAT" and red ink and you're wishing for the covers back. Your toes and spirits are crushed and you feel like the worst writer in the world and you're struggling to find that good deal and make the story what you want AND what your publisher wants and the tug of war between you and your editor begins, much like the one going on over at Toyrs R Us between two sleep deprived mommies over a talking Elmo doll. You are bruised and limping and thinking "why did I even leave my bed?" Why did I even try? Is this worth it?

Then Christmas morning comes. And your book is on the shelf. And you're sitting in Barnes & Noble signing books and drinking mochas. And the reviews come in. And just like the joy you get from seeing your kid open that coveted gift you practically risked your life for, you receive emails from readers telling how God used your words to touch their life. How God healed them or touched in some way. And you remember the real meaning of it all.

And you can't wait for "next year" ;)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Writing Prompts


Looking to add spice to your writing? Need excitement for your scenes or characters?

Let these stories spur you on:





When all else fails, truth really is stranger than fiction.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Let the craziness begin!

Is anyone else in a little bit of shock that Thanksgiving is THURSDAY?!

This is always the time of year that I start with such wonderful writing goals and end around New Years with absolutely NONE of those goals accomplished. Somehow between the eating of the pecan pies and the unwrapping of the presents, time just seems to melt away.

But this year, I've got plans. And a list. And I'm dangerous with a list.

Actually, I'm more dangerous without a list. It's why we currently have three unopened bottles of pancake syrup in my cabinet.

What writing goals are you hoping to accomplish? One of the best things anyone ever told me was to set personal deadlines - even if you've got a "real" deadline. I always like to finish my deadlines about a month in advance, just so I have the time to read back through it and make any corrections.

Can I encourage you guys to make a list with me? And while you're eating that third slice of leftover pecan pie, go ahead and lick the fork clean and then hit the laptop with all that happy sugar rush of energy. :)

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Erynn :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Yes, Even Writers Occasionally Loathe the Sight of Their Own Laptops

It's been a particularly crazy week on the freelance writing front, so that's why my normal post is (gasp!) a day late. I don't know why, but there are some weeks were everything is due—all at the same time, naturally.

I'm pretty sure by yesterday my brain texture officially changed from soft and malleable to downright crusty and burnt, and it's because I've been writing and writing and writing and writing—a blessing since that means I'll be getting paid soon, but a little stressful all the same.

To be honest, there was a point when I worried about my backside permanently becoming one with my chair and having to call 911 so someone could separate us. Thankfully, that never happened. But I did feel like I'd aged 10 years before popping an Advil.

And it's in these moments where it's a great reminder that no matter how long we've been writing that it's okay to occasionally loathe the very sight of my beloved Macbook Pro. Like the best things in life, writing is work, and we have to be prepared for the times when it's not all sunshine and lemondrops.

So that's why I'm about to log out for the day, grab a caramel macchiato and see Breaking Dawn Part 1 (yes, it's a guilty pleasure of mine, bad writing and all)...after all, when you love something as much as I love writing, you have to set it free from time to time. :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Jesus Loves Me! No really it's true

Do you ever have moments where something random or really minor but great happens, moments where you find such joy in something so ridiculous or small that you think "It really is the little things in life?"

I do. I call them my "Jesus Loves Me moments"

Like when you're going through a certain tough situation, and right when you get in the car, a song on the radio comes on that applies to you so specifically, a song that hasn't played on the radio in FOREVER. And you think "Jesus loves me".

Or when your husband is about to go buy a motorcycle in New York and drive it all the way from New York to north Louisiana, and in the middle of your panic attack, the seller of the motorcycle gets all shady and refuses a mechanical check, and the deal is off. And you think "Jesus loves me."

I had another moment like that today. I was planning on going to McDonalds and getting a hot caramal mocha. I had counted calories before and planned my day around it (was only 200 calories or so) and was going to get it to help my throat (Fall allergies). But I couldn't get over into the right lane, so I turned into Sonic instead and was just gonna get a boring ol' Diet Coke again. Then I remembered Sonic had coffee, so I ordered a hot caramal mocha from them.

And instead, I somehow was given a cold caramal mocha Java Chiller, which is like a coffee milkshake, and I had no idea how many calories it was, and didn't care, because honestly, it was the best thing I'd eaten/drank in a super long time. It was FABULOUS. And I was free to enjoy it and just relish it because I had no idea how bad it was for me and truly didn't care. It was my little "have a good morning" treat from the Lord. A reminder to quit being so uptight, so strict, so organized and detailed and anal about everything and just enjoy life sometimes.

Jesus loves me!

Some of those examples might be silly to you, but they're real, nontheless, and if we don't take the time to find Jesus in the daily grind, in the everyday hectic moments of life, and appreciate Him, acknowledge Him, thank Him - what do we really have? Abundant life? Not so much.

A ton of people - Christians or not - could experience all of the above (all 3 of those examples happened within the past week FYI) and blow it off. Not even notice. Call it coincidence or destiny or whatever else they wanted to. But I call it Jesus.

What do you call it?

Have you had any moments like that recently? Moments where you felt connected to your Saviour in a way that would sound totally dumb if you tried to explain it out loud, but knew in your heart it was the real deal?

Please share! I'd love to hear about it and praise with you!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Post Where I Confess I'm A Wuss


I’m as fly-by-night as they come. When Ethan and I got engaged, it was kind of like, Sure… why not now? We just met three months ago, but we know this is forever. 

(Yeah, there were raised eyebrows from friends, but when they met him (some five minutes before the ceremony) there was unabashed approval.)

I figured having a baby would be the same way. Since I’m not a planner I decided NOT to take a birth class (insert raised eyebrows from friends again). I preferred the ignorant rout.

I knew it was gonna hurt... what more did I need to know?

In the end I caved and took a 60 minute session just so I would “know how to breathe”. (I didn’t realize labor would take away that ability, but apparently it did. Somehow I did manage to gasp out the word “epidural”, though, and suddenly my world was a much brighter place.)

OK, enough evidence that I don’t like planning. But sometimes, folks, planning is necessary. Especially for writers.

The truth is, writing a book is a lot different than engagement or childbirth. Both of those things are dependent on other people. Ethan popped the question – Zoey popped my butt bone.They were both going to happen no matter how unprepared I was.

But there’s one thing I've learned if you don't work in a newsroom: You have to create your own deadlines.

So join me, fellow fly-by-night artists. Set a real deadline. Something attainable. Ask someone to keep you accountable.

Your book is not going to write itself. SCHEDULE TIME to write, and do it, preferably before the ninth hour like this post. (Which actually proves my point – schedule your time to write BEFORE the day you want it to happen.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Because it's Monday...

Ha! What are you guys working on today?

(P.S. No, toilet paper is not a valid answer.) ;)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Seasonal Bliss Part 2

What's been keeping me company during NaNoWriMo you ask?

Well, my brand of seasonal bliss, the illustrious gingerbread latte, of course.

Since I'm attempting to write 50,000 words in a single month, there will be no special holiday stories for me this year. But I will say that I'm pretty sure that I write soo soo much faster when there's happy Christmas music playing in the background (my favorites of late are She and Him's holiday album and Michael Buble's new one).

For some reason hearing "It's Beginning to Look a Like Christmas" and "Silent Night" gets those words flowing on the page in record time. Maybe I should listen to Christmas music all year long then? Hmmm. But then again, there wouldn't be gingerbread lattes to accompany it. Oh well, a girl can dream, right?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Seasonal Bliss

It's beginning to look a lot like...Peppermint mochas at Starbucks!

I mean, er, Christmas...hehehe.

What is your favorite holiday treat to look forward to? And do you incorporate these goodies into your novels?

I LOVE writing holiday-themed stories. The only problem was one time I was revising a Christmas novella (THE GINGERBREAD SEASON, Love Inspired novella compilation October 2010) in the summer. That was tricky. And hubby is one of these Scrooge types who can't bear holiday music until the day after Thanksgiving at the earliest, and even then, he would rather not hear any at all. LOL. So yeah that was an interesting couple of weeks.

I'm trying to be good this year and not skip Thanksgiving celebrations. I always get ahead of myself and start humming O Holy Night in, like, mid October. I won't forget turkey day this year - especially because right after Thanksgiving we're going to DISNEYWORLD!! WOOHOO!! Talk about a great holiday season. :)

What do you have coming up this holiday season? Are you writing a holiday story? Or are you taking a break from writing to enjoy a seasonal break? What inspires you the most about this time of year? :) (I think we all know my answer to this can be found in the Starbucks drive through line, and well, probably Erynn's too. haha)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Playing pretend

I remember when I was a little kid, I loved playing house.

I loved to dress up in aprons - because, of course, all moms always wore aprons. I loved to set up pretend beds and tuck my baby dolls to sleep. I used to plan activities for them and then scold them when they did something wrong. I'd make their meals, help them with their homework and teach them how to play leapfrog.

I had a very vivid imagination.

And today, I took the first step in introducing the gift of an imagination to my little Nater Tot. We went and bought some plastic fruits and vegetables, an eighty-eight cent set of spoons and spatulas, a set of measuring cups and a bunch of plastic bowls. And he pretended to make soup for the next HOUR.

Considering my boy has about a sixteen-second attention span, this was amazing!

I was thinking about it today though - it's not just fifteen-month-olds who need to learn how to use their imaginations. Writers do too. Maybe not in the same way - I'm not sure I'd get a lot of inspiration from stirring a giant purple plastic eggplant and what looks like a yellow orange around in a bowl. :) Instead, writers have to learn how to "force" their imagination and inspiration - deadlines don't get made by just writing when you feel like it, sad to say.

So, if your well is running a little dry, try out a few of my ideas to get your imagination and inspiration back up and running!

* Read a book you've never read before.

* Read a book you've read before and love and try to figure out why it means so much to you.

* Create a winter wreath (sometimes doing something creative in a different way can get the writing juices flowing!).

* Learn a new card game.

* Check Facebook. (Ok, I can hear all of you now: "WHAT??!!" Just do it. Those status updates will definitely provoke some sort of story idea! Another new favorite - Pinterest. Need setting ideas? Check out the houses/rooms on there. Just be sure to give yourself a time limit or you may never get to your writing.)

* Go for a walk or do a workout. Brains need blood flow and oxygen. Plus, you might make a little progress on counteracting that "writer's booty" that is a matched set to your couch cushion.

* See how you can dress up an ordinary chocolate chip cookie recipe.

* Try changing your location from where you usually write. Do you write at a desk? Move to the kitchen table. Inside? Head outside for a little bit. At night? Try writing in the mornings (assuming you aren't operating off a nap schedule.)

Now, stop reading this and get to cultivating that inspiration!! And come back and let us know how it went!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

God's fingerprints




Do you ever look back on your life and see how God worked all those (at the time) random, confusing or hurtful situations for good? Romans 8:28 in action! I call this God's fingerprints.

I see them today. There's a situation going on in my life where I look back and realize now that all the devotional topics I read during a period of time, all the encouraging songs I kept hearing on repeat on the radio, all the comments from friends, snippets of certain topics in church, articles I read on random Christian blogs, were all leading me to this point in time. To strengthen, encourage, uplift, and comfort. To give direction for my actions today, in the storm. To prove God is there and was there all along, and most importantly, will continue to be. :)

God's fingerprints.

Do you see His hands at work in your life today?

I tell you, there is NOTHING on this earth more comforting than that. It's almost like having an inside joke with the Lord. And that's worth every heartache, every question, every soul-character development going on.

God doesn't wear gloves. He lets His glory shine through, He gives us evidence of Himself if we simply open our eyes and LOOK for it.

Will you look today?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What Are You Reading These Days?

Before I dive in to this week's topic, lemme just say a sarcastic "Thanks a lot!" to Betsy for getting the "Growing Pains" theme song stuck in my head. :)

Yes, my formative years also included many evenings with the Seaver family...

And when I wasn't watching TV (my Mom was great about setting limits, which to be honest, were rather annoying then, but I'm oh-so-thankful now), I could always be found curled up with a good book.

While I've learned many things about writing over the years, reading has really been my greatest tool. In fact, whether you're an aspiring writer or have been published a gazillion times, I can't underscore the importance of reading enough.

Now I know there are seasons where reading inevitably takes a backseat because of, well, life, but I've discovered on more than one occasion (try hundreds) that my writing inevitably suffers when I'm not reading. So I try and schedule time for that like I do for blogging, updating my website and the like because whenever I'm reading, I learn so much.

Right now I'm reading Nicholas Sparks' latest novel, The Best of Me (yes, I have a soft spot for his sappy, North Carolina-based romances), and it's already given me a few insights into plotting that I'm thankful for.

Now it's your turn...what have you been reading and how has it helped you with your own writing? Can you think of a book that changed the way you write? Or at least inspired it?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

As long as we got each other....

"As long as we got eaaaach ottttther..."

So I've been singing the theme song for the old show GROWING PAINS since last Saturday night, after Hubby and I attended a marriage conference taught by Kirk Cameron (Mike Seiver from Growing Pains and star in Fireproof) It was an amazing conference and full of fantastic information. One of those nights where it didn't matter who the speaker was, God was there and teaching through him and Kirk was just a vessel.

Though the vessel did at one point put on a curly wig and start quoting lines from past seasons of Growing Pains ;)

That brings me to our topic today - Do we have each other? Is the Growing Pains theme song true in our lives? Do we have each other's backs in the writing industry, or are we in competition? Are we supportive of our friend's success or are we jealous?

Just like in marriage, unity is key to success. Writers might be solitary when they actually write (despite occasional coffee/writing dates at Barnes & Noble!) but the business will eat us up if we don't have friends who understand, can relate, can cheer us on, etc. Friends who can lift us up when we get those rejections or those sets of revisions where you think the editor probably needed TWO red pens because the first one ran out of ink...Friends who will send flowers for first contracts or notes of encouragement when our creative well feels empty.

Who is that person in your life? If you can't think of anyone, start praying today for God to bring you a special friend, someone who will be your support during this journey we go through as writers for the Kingdom. He has answered that prayer for me in years past and will for you! :)

In the meantime, enjoy that song playing on repeat in your head like it's been doing in mine for almost a week.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Be Gentle with Your Dreams


I think we drove home from the hospital at about five miles per hour.

We put the car seat down in the living room and tip-toed and whispered.

It wasn’t that we hadn’t handled babies before. I grew up bouncing them and pacifying them and changing their diapers.

But this was different.

This was… our baby.

Dreams are like babies. They need to be treated gingerly in the beginning. They’re tiny, fragile, and easily assaulted.

We want them to thrive and to grow -- and in order to do that, they need to be protected.

After some time (okay lots of time) and some late nights at the computer screen – our dreams – our stories – start to take shape.

Our initial response might be to continue to protect those dreams, but we know… eventually they need to be exposed to daylight.

It’s a difficult step… to let others see our dreams. To take risks and pursue being published. But we want to help those dreams find their way in the world.

We need to start exposure carefully. We need to select people who will be gentle with our newborn ideas. As our writing grows we can expand our circle of sharing.

Newborns are seldom beautiful. Our dreams will sprout acne, irritated skin, and intolerable shrieks of neediness. But they are in the process of growing.

One day we won’t even remember anything except the joy…

So go ahead -- bond with your writing dream. And when it’s time… let her take her first baby step.

Try not to freak out when she falls. Know there are many more baby steps to take place until one day…

Your dreams are strong, healthy, and running so fast you can hardly keep up.

Can we be your small circle today? We'd love to hear about your writing dreams. We promise to be gentle.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Promotions and stuff

So, we talk a lot about how it's important for a writer to self-promote, but I'm not sure if we've ever really gone into detail about what that looks like - particularly for a writer still looking to get published.

First things first, you need to go buy your website domain name - right away!! It should preferably be your name dot com (mine is erynnmangum.com). Once you have that, then you can get your site up and running.

I design and manage my site myself using my Mac's iWeb program, but there are LOTS of other great programs out there and also great people out there who make their livings doing these kinds of things.

Next, if you don't already have one, start a blog and get on Facebook and Twitter and promote it. Even if you just get your mom and your best friend to read it at first, at least you've got readers!

Publishers LOVE to see writers who are taking a proactive approach to publicizing themselves even before they are published. So what kinds of things have you done to start the ever-going process? And do you have any questions about how to get started?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What Are You Doing This November?

I'm not quite sure why November was selected as National Novel Writing Month (maybe it was the whole alliteration factor), but whatever the reason, it's not a bad time to start setting some goals now since November is (gasp!) right around the corner.

I don't know about you, but I don't particularly like setting goals, writing and otherwise, for January 1. There's just so much pressure with it being a new year and all that I tend not to accomplish much. And trust me, I write a good, long list every single year.

But this year, I've decided as far as novel writing is concerned, I'm going with the NaNoWriMo flow, even if I'm not exactly following their directions verbatim. Typically, when you're doing the NaNoWriMo thing, you sign up with the intent of writing 50,000 words in a single month—basically, flipping the "it's a marathon, not a sprint" adage on its head, so you can finally make the progress you've been dreaming about in a rather fast-paced fashion.

With so little time to take that epic idea and make it into something, you simply don't have time to censor yourself the way you would if you were working at a more languid pace. And for people who've always had "write a novel" on their life's perpetual to-do list, it's an insane but do-able way to give it a shot.

Since I already have the first part of my WIP just the way I want it, however, I can't technically do NaNoWriMo the traditional way (i.e. starting from scratch). So I'm opting to make November the time for finishing my first draft, which isn't exactly something to shake the proverbial stick at. To be totally, brutally honest, it's going to be a TON of work, but I'm so incredibly excited about it nonetheless and want to make the most of my time, even if I have to get up a little extra early or stay up extra, extra late (that's what caramel macchiatos were invented for, right?).

So now I pose a challenge to you, fellow Scribble Chicks readers. How do you plan to use National Novel Writing Month to make progress on your writing goals? Whether it's outlining an idea you've had for a while now, hammering out that first draft or going all NaNoWriMo and actually committing to 50,000 words, no matter where they take you, what's sounding good for you?

By the way, I plan on keeping you updated on my progress in my November posts! Should be interesting don't ya think?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Overwhelmed doesn't even begin to cover it...

Do you ever get so overwhelmed that the very word just doesn't seem fitting? I think Webster should have written a second dictionary, maybe called The Extreme Dictionary, for use of words in special occasions when others are just waaaaay too understated.

I'm there this week. And was there last week too, actually.

Coming home from the ACFW Conference always brings struggles and trials, it's the whole "mountaintop experience come back down to reality in the valley" type of thing. Sort of what happened after youth camp. You're waaay up here, clear communication to God, eyes wide open, breathing fresh air of purpose and life and inspiration...

And then you're suddenly just trying to pick your feet up out of the muddy swamps of the valley, with mosquitos buzzing your head as you yell "HELLO" repeatedly into a telephone that has apparently lost its connection to Heaven.

This year, post-conference has brought spirtual warfare like never before, in so many areas, and I'm tired. SO tired. But you know what? At the same time, I KNOW what God told me at the conference, and I'm very excited about what He is doing and going to do in my writing ministry. Because this type of war doesn't wage without some pretty high stakes.

And that alone is worth keeping my chin up and plodding (and plotting! ha) forward...

Have you been there? Are you there now? If you're not, and you're an active Christian with a calling to further God's kingdom, chances are you will be if you haven't already. Or will be again. How do you handle the ups and downs of the writing ministry? Or life in general?

For me, it's about prayer. Bible reading. Staying close to my power source. And it's also about making myself move foward. Because if I stop moving, the devil wins. And that's not acceptable.

If you need help sucking your feet out of the mud today, I'm with ya. Let's pull each other out. Prayers going up :) Please feel free to share where you are today in the comments, and I'm happy to pray for you as a fellow sunken sister.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

That haze in my eyes = a trip to NM


I am still navigating the haze some call NM - not New Mexico, but New Motherhood. My posts for the next few weeks may still be slightly on the sporadic side, but I have missed you all and am so ready to reconnect with my Scribble Chick buddies!

So for today, here's a word of encouragement about you and your dreams {soon I will be able to share some really cool news about fulfillment of dreams with you... so stay tuned}.

You can find that encouragement here: Keep hoping.

*Photo by Ken Hale

We miss you BJ!

Just posting in BJ's stead today to give a shout out and tell our new mama how much we miss her over here at Scribblechicks, and hopefully that kid grows up soon so she can come back ;)

Seriously though, we're so excited about the new Scribblechick-let in our midst! I bet BJ's got her going through the Alphabet song already and reading "Plot and Structure" outloud at bed time...hehehe. Never too early to train up a child in the way they should go and such. And of course that applies to shaping future authors...'

Hope to see you back soon BJ! And if you have circles under your eyes, don't worry. We understand, and can offer concealer.

Love ya mama!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Because It's Monday.

And we might need a laugh. :)

Have a great week!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Why Breaking the Rules Works—Sometimes

I'm a natural-born venter, so that's exactly why I loved Betsy's "open forum" post yesterday. I'm guessing at one point or another in my writing career, I've probably complained about all those things.

But like Betsy so wisely observed (there I go with the adverbs), there's a reason why some of these rules exist. It makes for a better final product, and to be honest, it keeps us from getting lazy.

So many writers (myself included) have our pet turns of phrase that we often turn to. And challenging ourselves to tighten things up (including saying goodbye to those aforementioned words often ending in "ly") is a great exercise.

With my own novels, however, there was an instance where I believe breaking the rules made a considerable difference, particularly in setting my story apart. I (gasp) switched tenses between first person and third person.

My protagonist, the illustrious Sydney Alexander, had such a unique voice that I wanted her to speak to the audience in first person. But my secondary characters were vital to the overall story, too, so I often switched to third person, so we had the benefit of varying perspectives. After all, I didn't want readers to experience only one side of the story. If Sydney's sister Samantha just had a hot date, I liked that we got to hear what her guy thought about everything, too.

Now I knew I was breaking the rules, so I wasn't surprised that a few readers and critics found my approach a tad unconventional. But hey, when you're a writer, a thick skin is essential anyway, so what better way to develop one, right?

In fact, I remember my editor even promising it would happen, but what was wonderful is that she had my back anyway. Taking risks is an essential part of life, and sometimes essential to your story, too. So if you can't shake the feeling that it's the right thing to do, don't be afraid to do so. After all, we've all got instincts for a reason, and yours just might be the difference between a good story and one that shines brighter.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Open forum...

Alright fellow chickie-poo's...let's vent today. What are some of the common rules of writing you disagree with but know you have to follow in order to get published? What rules or guidelines really bug you, or make your story harder to write, etc.

Some examples of rules in fiction writing:

1. Show don't tell.
2. No head-hopping (stay in one character's point of view per scene)
3. Staying true to your character in regards to motivation, actions, etc.
4. Not overusing adverbs (ly words) when a stronger verb would do.
5. Formula-ish writing for certain Houses (or atleast what is perceived to be)
6. Not being able to use certain words or content when targeting certain Houses

Which bothers you the most? Why?

Let's talk about it and maybe the other Chicks and I can shed some light on why the industry suggests you follow that particular rule, what the pros and cons are, and such.

Okay, GO! :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Patience really might be a virtue.

I have a confession.

I am about the MOST impatient person on the planet.

Whatever I need/want/think I need/think I want/need to know/think I need to know - or all of the above - I need it right now.

I am SO in the wrong profession.

Writing is a long distance race. You start with a proposal, send it to your agent and wait. You hear back, they send it out to publishers and you wait. This part can last for what seems like FOREVER. Then, you finally hear a big YES from the publishers and the actual writing starts. You work, work, work and you send in the manuscript. And - yup, you guessed it - you wait.

Then there's editing, waiting, another edit, another wait, a final draft, a wait for the release, a big party on release day and then a wait to hear initial numbers.

Waiting. Not my favorite activity. Not at the MVD, not at the post office and not when I'm staring at my empty email box.

God wrote "wait". He wrote it often. As a command to us. "Wait on the Lord", "trust in the Lord", "be still and know that I am God."

Sometimes, I think He meant to put an Erynn after that last one.

"Be still, Erynn."

I heard it often growing up, I still hear it often now - just about different circumstances.

God knows the plans for my life. And His plans are better than mine, whatever the future may or may not hold.

So here I am. Waiting. Praying. And possibly, making myself another iced coffee.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I Knew I Was a Writer When...

Long before my first professional byline (since I'm guessing that writing for my junior high and high school newspapers didn't count), I knew I was a writer when I happily spent hours and hours on my homework for Writing for Publication, an elective I took all four years in high school.

I was feverishly working on a mock-interview-with-a-famous-celebrity assignment (I chose a pro athlete since I was obsessed with sports at the time) when it hit me. It was what Oprah calls an "a-ha moment," and my arrived as I was wrestling with what adjective best encapsulated what I wanted to say.

It was then—and there in my tiny lavender bedroom—when I realized writing was something I would actually enjoy each and every day of my life. And as I continued to nurture my voracious appetite for reading, my love of writing only grew. Basically, if all these people got paid for sharing their thoughts and stories with the world, that's exactly what I wanted to do.

And the rest, as they say, is history. I've been writing (and loving it) ever since.

Now, it's your turn! When did you know you were a writer, and once you figured that out, what were your next steps? And if you've been a writer for a while now, has the experience met your expectations? Why or why not?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Math problems

Congrats! You got published! :)

Now comes the fun - and confusing - part: Advances and Royalties.

With all publishing houses, you will sign a contract. With some, you'll receive an advance - a specific (and often negotiable) amount of money that is the publisher's promise to print your book. You taking the money (and signing that intimidating dotted line!!) is your promise to finish writing the book.

Typically, advances will be split in half - you'll receive one half when you sign the contract and given the other half when you turn in an acceptable manuscript.

Once your manuscript is in, edited and printed, then comes the fun part - royalties! Royalties are a monetary percentage of each book sold that you receive. Say, for example, that you have a $10.00 book and you receive 10% off of it (which, yes, is a very good example for a new or newish author), you'll make $1 per book.

The kicker? You'll have to make back that advance before you start receiving any royalties. If you got a $5,000 advance, you'll have to sell 5,000 copies before you start seeing any royalties adding up in your account.

Gives you a little more incentive to help publicize the book, huh? ;)

You typically will receive "royalty statements" four times a year - so once every three months. There, you'll find a breakdown of how your book sold and how much you have received for it.

And, don't forget your fabulous agent! Agents will usually receive another 10-15% of your profits, which includes both advances and royalties. Come negotiation time, though, it's very worth it. :)

Confused? Ask any questions you might have! Royalties and advances are some of the MOST complicated part of the publishing process - especially for those of us who tend more toward creativity and less toward numbers (like me!). :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Five Ways to Keep Your Writing Engine Running

Ever come across the perfect encouragement exactly when you need it? Well, that's exactly what happened this week when I was in a bit of a writing rut.

So with no further adieu, check out Five Ways to Keep Your Writing Engine Running because there's such good stuff, particularly #2 about setting smaller goals and #5 where is encourages you to "meet your monsters."

Yeah, I've met a few of those along the way, that's for sure! :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Conference Update

I'm back!

And I have one word:

WHEW.

I'm still recovering from the bliss of having Starbucks available every day. ;) Not to mention reeling from all the info I soaked in! I wanted to give you guys an update though before I dive back into reality.

Here are some highlights of the weekend: (in no set order)

1. Learning new elements of craft, especially on Deep POV (point of view) by Kristen Heitzmann
2. Stalking Kristen Heitzmann (a fav author) and getting to hang out and visit. LOVE her!!
3. Stalking Julie Klassen and doing the same!! :)
4. Sitting in on the advanced author continuing education session (have to have 2 books or more published to attend) and learning a ridiculous amount of helpful marketing/insider industry info from Allen Arnold, Publisher at Thomas Nelson, \Julie Guinn, editor and B&H marketing guru, and Jim Rubart, author of "Rooms" and all around great guy.
5. Dressing up for the awards night and rocking my new dress which I hope to wear again soon (was actually comfortable!)
6. Laughing when my roommate accidentally stole her napkin (and found it later in her purse) because of being so nervous during a lunch-time pitch to an editor
7. The Barbour author dinner cruise on the river
8. Happening to see a live proposal under the Arch in St. Louis walking back from the cruise (seriously, was just walking and suddenly saw a man on one knee with ring box posed! Was so romantic! And she apparently said yes! hehe)
9. Hugging Susan May Warren who I only get to see once a year
10. Squealing and greeting old and new friends
11. Forming a new connection with a sweet girl in the prayer room
12. Getting to officially meet my new agent Steve Laube (I'm still represented by Tamela Hancock Murray, but she merged with the Steve Laube Agency so now I'm a part of their joint team)
13. Laughing at Susan Warren and Rachel Hauck making elephant trunks with their arms during the awards banquet
14. Laughing at Susan Warren for not realizing why she had thunder playing during her award win (long story. lol)
15. The amazing food.
16. Joining in the general shock that we had greenbeans at every meal
17. Watching my book FIREMAN DAD sell out of the conference bookstore
18. Coming home with 17 books. Yes, 17.
19. Giggling with my roommates
20. Making new connections in the industry
21. The amazing worship time
22. Receiving a very distinct message from God about my ministry
23. A ton of mochas...mmm...
24. Jamming in the lobby to live music late Friday night with other authors
25. Seeing my sweet agent in person again
26. Taking a ridiculous amount of pictures
27. Comfy hotel pilllows
28. Candy corn in bed
29. Getting excited about new marketing ideas
30. Buying Little Miss three presents
31. Hearing Little Miss tell me on the phone that she earned her AWANA's vest (had to memorize and recite several Bible verses! She worked so hard!)
32. Finally getting to wear boots
33. Listening to Tracie Peterson be keynote speaker
34. Watching dear friends win awards for their novels
35. Anticipating next year in Dallas!

There's more. But I'm still tired. So that's all I can think of now :)

And here is a link to all my conference pics via Facebook! (just a few HA!)

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150298805466701.333634.513656700&l=c9e414a36f&type=1

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Blues

You pour your heart and soul into a story. You spend hours upon days upon weeks upon months writing this book. You think about it when you're going to bed and it's one of the first things you think about waking up. Plot lines come to you in the middle of the night, character details are fleshed out in the shower.

The book is your baby.

So, you take a deep breath and take it to a conference. You meet an agent who amazingly enough wants to represent you. And then he/she begins to send it to publishers.

And then they come.

By the singles, then the doubles, then sometimes by the dozens.

Rejection letters.

If you are really wanting to pursue writing, you're going to HAVE to develop a thick skin. People are going to say mean things about your work - whether it's an editor turning down your book or a reader who didn't like it - you will never make everyone a fan of your writing.

It stinks.

Sometimes, I have to make myself not look on Amazon because I can really get into a mini-depression when I read some of the reviews on my books. I start thinking that no one likes them, why should I bother, it's not worth it, etc., etc. It's so easy to fly right past the great reviews to the ones that are awful.

Not everyone is going to like what you have to say. Not everyone is going to read your book and laugh or smile or feel like they know God better.

But one person might.

Maybe that one person will even come to know Him for the first time.

Would that make it worth the heartache? Worth the sinking feeling deep in your stomach when someone harshly criticizes something you poured yourself into?

Yes.

So keep at it! Write what you feel the need to write. When all is said and done, the only review that matters is the one that God gives. And if you're writing to glorify Him, then I guarantee that you'll get five stars. :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Do You Suffer From Writing Commitment-Phobia?

From the first time I read Judy Blume's hilarious Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing back in third grade, I knew that if Judy actually got paid to make up stories for a living, that's exactly what I wanted to do.

But as much as I dreamed about writing novels, I didn't make any serious progress until 2006. Sure, I had plenty of "valid" excuses (I'm a journalist, so I already write all day long, I'd rather hang out with my friends than glue myself to my computer all weekend, et. al.) not to make any real progress. But when January 1 inevitably rolled around once again, I still was majorly disappointed that I wasn't really any closer to my goal. So I set yet another goal and hoped for change in the new year.

What I eventually realized, however, was that I was rather commitment-phobic about the whole process. The reason that I wasn't making any progress is because I'd failed to get in the proper mindset. See, actually committing to one novel idea (and seeing it through) can be a scary proposition. In fact, you find yourself (or at least, I did) asking the following progress-hindering questions:

*What if I really get going with this idea and end up not liking it 37,563 words down the road?
*What if the market really changes in the midst of writing and my once-phenomenal idea seems dated?
*What if NO ONE on Planet Earth thinks my book is the proverbial best thing since sliced bread?

What if? What if? What if? I guess what I eventually figured out that not putting pen to paper and giving it a real shot would be much, much worse. There will always be a million reasons to convince yourself not to write what's been on your heart, but making a bold attempt to do so will at least give you an opportunity to say "I gave it my best shot."

And for me, my best shot led to the publication of two novels I still adore to pieces. :)

Need further inspiration on how to overcome your writing commitment-phobia? Check out this fantastic article from Huffington Post writer Arielle Ford, and trust me, you'll be inspired.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Leaaaaavin', in a Malibu....

I'm leaving today for the 2011 ACFW Conference in St. Louis (with a local author and her hubby) so I will be out of pocket the rest of the week. (three cheers for NOT flying! YAY!!!)

I hope you guys have a great week and I'd love some extra prayers while I'm gone! Especially for travel safety, health, networking opportunities, and for my family that I will leave behind for 5 days. And I'm really hoping God uses this trip in a way that will let me be a blessing to someone in need, in a way that others have blessed me before.

And guess what?

When I get back, I plan on sharing a BUNCH of the new fabulous writing tips I learned while I was gone! :)

Stay tuned, it'll be great!

Now. Who has a mocha? ::yawn::

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Work It On Out

BJ is undoubtedly staring at her GORGEOUS baby girl right now, so I'm going to fill in for her today. ;) So, stretch those writing muscles and get ready for a few exercises!

Stuck in a story? Here's a few prompts to get the creative juices flowing!

1. Write in a journal or a blog. Sometimes, just writing something totally different can inspire me to keep going!

2. Imagine you were a food or drink. What would you be? Why? What would the members of your family be?

3. Finish the following sentence: "I knew it was bad when I saw Henry stuck inside a..."

4. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Try to describe something in ten words instead - but not just any ten words. All ten words have to begin with the same letter. Example: Teapot. Tiny. Tin...

5. Finally, try to write a short story using only common cliches. Like, "Not to beat around the bush, but Laura was not your average, run-of-the-mill girl."

Have fun! And please, feel free to share your creativity with the rest of us!! :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

When the Tough Get Going

Yes, I realize that today's post title sounds like a deodorant ad. Or maybe a product for athlete's foot. Or maybe something that works for anything involving the fight against not-so-pleasant smells.

ANYWAY.

I have gotten many, many, many emails over the last few years asking me some form of this:

I always start a story and everything is going great and then suddenly I run out of ideas / hit a roadblock / lose interest / get bored with my story - how do I actually finish a book???

There's a few different tricks you can try!

Sometimes, you need to just put the book aside for a couple of days. Go see a movie, take a walk, go the gym, do something creative that isn't writing - like drawing or crafting or painting (if those are things you enjoy). Most of the time, I find that this works the best for me. I'll close my laptop and go do something different. Sometimes, even a change of scenery can help. If I was writing inside, I move outside. If I was writing on the couch, I move to my desk. Anything to change my mood and morale a little bit.

If that doesn't work, read back through your story with a pair of scissors. Cut anything and everything that doesn't move the story forward. Does it add to the story? No? Clip it. Paste it in another Word document and keep going. Sometimes "purging" your story can give you the motivation to keep going - and it can remind you of ideas or plot lines that you might have forgotten along the way.

And if both of those fail, and you aren't on a deadline, put the story away. Maybe for just a few weeks, maybe forever. This is the final straw option, but I have pulled the final straw MANY times in my life. I have countless stories that will never ever see completion, much less the light of day. Casualties will always litter the floor of a writing room. ;)

But sometimes, even those stories can be revived. Almost three years ago, I came up with the idea for a girl who loves to draw and ends up accidentally sketching a Most Wanted criminal. I worked on it for a couple of weeks, changed my mind and put it away for awhile. Then, I kept thinking about it. Pulled it out again. Starting chopping and working. And last month, Sketchy Behavior was released in bookstores.

You never know what God will do with your stories! So keep at it!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Of Toddlers and Gang Signs...

So BJ and Ethan, just remember during the next several months of "Baby Blur" (you know, the indefinable period of time when you're recovering from labor, trying to build hormones back up in your body to become a human again instead of a insatiable crying machine, and wondering what it was like to sleep at night) that you have THIS to look forward to in a few short years...





Haha. My little Gansta miss. She was in the backseat and I was texting and she said "MAMA! Take a picture of this!" And struck the pose. What exactly are they teaching her at preschool????? hehe. ;)


I was so excited to hear BJ had her baby. It's always so fun, especially when you've BEEN a first time parent and know the expecting couple are first time parents. You totally remember the joy, the nerves, the excitement, the naivity (in a good way. trust me, it goes away). It's one of the best times in life. And each stage along the way that your baby grows up, you think that next stage is the best. The snuggly bug, feeding every 3 hours stage was great. Then the sleepping through the night stage was magnificant. Then the starting baby food stage was fun. Then the crawling stage, and the walking stage, and then the blissful stage where they first start actually telling you what they want and you can stop guessing! (angels singing here)


We sort of do that same thing with our writing, don't we? We start a project, and think "this is awesome. I'm on a roll now." We finish a project, and start the second one as we submit the first, and think "Wow, I'm cookin'! This is so fun." Then we get an agent and think we've arrived and can't believe how "young" we used to be in our writing. Then we get our first traditional sale and are over the moon with joy. Then we get that first email from a reader who confesses how the book touched them, and we think it just can't get any better than this. And so on.


Every stage is a treasure, both in raising babies and writing books! (and neither provide much sleep come to think of it.)


What stage are you in right now? Is your book-baby newborn? Or is it toddling along, finding its way? Or has your book-baby already graduated and flown the coop into a bookstore somewhere?


Share with us!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Congrats, BJ!!

Congratulations, BJ and Ethan, on the birth of your beautiful, beautiful little girl!!

Be exalted, Oh God, above the heavens; let Your glory be over all the earth. - Psalm 108:5

Monday, September 12, 2011

Busy Season

I just sent off two proposals, my son is very much into following me everywhere which means he's into EVERYTHING, we just spent the past month completely demolishing our yard and rebuilding it... so basically, I'm running all day long.

It seems like all of us over here at Scribble Chicks have been CRAZY busy, so my question to you is - what do you do with your writing during a season of busyness? Do you push it aside? Do you make mental notes? Make sticky notes? Fight for time even if that means not sleeping? (and if you do that and you're not on deadline, you are a much better writer than me!!)

In seasons of busyness, I think the first thing to do is prioritize. What is it that is causing you to be so busy? Is it more important than your writing? If so, step away from the computer!!

But if it's something silly - like my favorite time-waster, Facebook - or something that could potentially be put off for a few minutes - like maybe doing the dishes or the laundry, then try your best to sit down, even if it's just for a few minutes. Aim for a VERY reasonable word count, even if something as low as 500 words. Every little bit helps the story along and you'll feel better for it. :)

Also, please be praying for BJ and her husband Ethan!! It sounds like sweet baby Zoey has made her long-awaited arrival!! SO very, very happy for them! Please be praying for their health and safety and especially for all the changes that are happening right now. Becoming a parent is the most incredible, wonderful, exhausting, emotional, awe-inspiring thing in the whole world. I'm so excited for them!! Congrats, BJ and Ethan!! :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Yeah, It's Been a Busy Week Here, Too!

Yep, this is about how I've felt this week. Can we say deadlines, deadlines and more deadlines?

My brain is fried.

Yes, working as a full-time writer is the best job ever, but sometimes there are weeks when everything is due at exactly the same time, and there's no amount of Hershey kisses or pumpkin spice lattes that can relieve you from your frazzled state.

So before I pulled my hair out, I took a deep breath, told myself that all I need to do is check off one thing at a time and went to work...

And I'm not going to lie, it definitely helped matters that it was a four-day week. Woo hoo for the upcoming weekend. Can I get an amen?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Short but Still Sincere

We're all having short posts this week, but thanks readers for understanding! Yay for Erynn's yard work, and congrats to BJ for her upcoming arrival! I can't wait! (I can say that, because my three year old sleeps through the night ::wink::)

Today I'm doing a shortie because I'm...

A. at work at my part time job right now and didn't have time yesterday to schedule a post

and more significantly,

B. Today is my daughter's first day of preschool andI'm still crying into my white chocolate mocha. It's ridiculous, you'd think I just dropped her off at college!! She didn't even cry at all. I'm officially "THAT" mom. Sigh.

Refill, anyone?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

One hour before midnight...

I realized my pregnancy head got confused and thought today was Monday. Can you blame me? If you were this fat you'd find it hard to think about anything else:




But don't worry. I'm about to lose quite a bit of weight. All in a day. And it will be the hardest workout of my life.

So here's farewell for the time I'm at fat camp. You'll probably hear from me a few more times before the Big Day, and after that Erynn and Betsy have agreed to post for me until early November when I'm (hopefully) not quite so sleep-deprived.

In the meantime, I'll miss ya. Hopefully I'll be posting pics of the baby here after she arrives. So stop by and say hello anytime!

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day!

We were working in our yard all day today - taking the rocks and turning them into grass. Theoretically, I guess. :)

Hope you all had a safe, happy holiday!

:)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

7 Writing Tips From Stephen King

Now I'll be the first to admit, most of Stephen King's books frighten me beyond repair. I don't know why, but I can never quite remember that scary stories like his are actually fiction.

But his book on writing, appropriately titled, well, On Writing is absolutely brilliant. Basically, if you haven't read it already, I'd make sure you get a copy pronto. Not only does he pass along countless tricks of the trade on plotting, sentence structure, characters and the like, but there's plenty of encouragement packed in there, too.

Like gem #5 listed here on The Positivity Blog about not caring too much about what others may think about our writing. King is the first one to admit that yes, even he, an experienced writer, needs affirmation, especially from his wife. But he goes on to explain how we can't let our need for attention change how and what we write. Sure, we need to be strong enough to accept constructive critiques that will strengthen the quality of whatever we're working on, but we can't let the tiniest objections completely derail our gut instincts all the same.

I also love #6 on this list, too, namely to read A LOT! Not only does it give all writers permission to dig into a juicy new novel, something most of all love for pleasure, anyway, but reading other people's work can't help but inspire our own. Have you ever finished a fantastic novel and been so super energized that you can't wait to get to work? Yeah, that's what the best writing does, so if you're stuck, why not trying reading for a while? I'm pretty sure Stephen would, so why not you? :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lessons from a Mini Ballerina


Yesterday, Little Miss had her first dance class - ballet and tap for 3 & 4 year olds! It was the cutest thing you've ever seen. All those little princesses in leotards and tights and ballet slippers and their hair up in a bun (or in our case, a haphazard ponytail with 3 bobbypins that still wouldn't stay). Absolutely priceless.

Parents weren't allowed to stay inside the studio, understandably, but that didn't stop all us stage moms (and dads! ha) from taking turns peeking inside the little window on the studio door, taking phone pics and filming on iPhones. lol I was a little concerned about the first class, just because this was all so new to us, but Little Miss did great and seemed to really have fun!

They all have a sticker they stand on, on the floor in the studio, so that they know where to stand and not crowd each other. Well apparently one little girl took the sticker Little Miss wanted, so she ended up with an octopus and was NOT happy about it, as we heard later. She didn't protest in class though, just told me afterward, so thank goodness for that. ha!

At some points, when I peeked, I saw Little Miss standing hesitantly, watching the other girls, trying to do what they did, and at other times, I saw her eagerly dancing full out, with a big smile, and doing exactly what she was supposed to. I was so relieved, it seems like she's going to do fine and learn and enjoy it. I already can't wait for the big recital in May! :)

The cutest part was when they put on their tap shoes and all we heard from the hallway was "clack clack clackclackstompshufflestompclackclack"!

At another point, they were lined up in two side-by-side lines, and Little Miss was the first in her line! They had to then do a tap move all the way across the floor to the mirror at the barre. Little Miss, without hesitating, took off across the room and did her move just as she supposed to! So adorable! And this was the first class!

Afterward, once my little ballerina was home and I was looking at the pics from the night and remembering, I thought of the parallel to our lives as writers. It's hard getting out there, being new. We tend to watch the writers around us, and think we have to do it their way. We copy instead of embrace our own style (and I don't mean plagiarism, I mean in regards to writing schedules, the genre we choose, the tense we choose, etc. We fumble around and feel stupid and think we're the worst writer out there. We think we have to do it the way everyone else is instead of the way we feel it inside. We consider quitting because hey, its hard.

Then we realize that somewhere along the way, we started having fun. We branch out a little, maybe realize we can incorporate our own style into the basics. Add some flair. We start smiling while we write, and realize - hey, I CHOSE this. I enjoy this...

Then as more time passes, and as we grow and learn in the craft, we might even get to lead a little. Teach a workshop or speak at a writer's retreat, spread our wings.

Whether we're 3 or 30, whether it's ballet or writing, being good takes practice. It takes time. Commitment. Little Miss will figure that out, just as I've figured it out for myself over the years. Every famous ballerina on a stage in Russia started out like Little Miss. Unsure. Fumbling. Tripping. Complaining over their assigned sticker. :)

And every writer starts out the same. We have to stick with it and keep trying, and above all, HAVE FUN.

Because hey, if you don't even enjoy your story, no one else will...

(this is a blurry pic I took on my phone before we left for the studio, but I'll have better ones on FB soon.)


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Asking for Help




So it turns out I can’t do everything.

I know this comes as a real shocker to you, what with my magic cape and everything, but… it was all just a show.

A show mostly for myself.

But I’m learning something. It can actually be lots of fun when you ask for help.

Not the asking… but the receiving. And the relationships that flourish as a result.

On my left stands my best friend, Ethan. That’s his baby that’s making my stomach bulge. And that’s his sweet heart thumping that helps me think through and plan for all kinds of things when it comes to reaching out to teen guys.

On my right is Halee, the go-to, keep-me-on-task, writer-editor-extraordinare. She came on board with realteenfaith.com without hesitation when I was in a bit of a personal crisis a few years ago.

And on my far right is Abbie, who despite our attempts to scare her out of her wits, has proven that she’s just as crazy as everybody else who’s working on Real Teen Faith. Oh, and she’s darn talented too.

You’d think that I’d have learned from these extraordinary people that God brings just the right people into our lives at just the right time – when we ask. But when it comes to needing help… I’m a slow learner.

Recently Erynn (you know, that Mangum girl – she’s written a few books or something) reminded me that it’s OK to ask for help in the publishing world. That it’s a group effort. That as writers we support each other.

So this is me, passing that on to you. How can we encourage you today? How can we pray for you? What questions can we attempt to answer?

This is a group effort, and trust me… it can be a lot of fun when we bond over the passion God’s placed in our hearts.

Monday, August 29, 2011

So, what's your book about?


It's my LEAST favorite question in the world, honestly. I'll be standing there, minding my own business, and somehow, someone finds out that I'm an author. And then, they inevitably ask the number one question that all authors will field:

"So. What's your book about?"

Want to hear my typical response?

"Well, it's about this girl. Actually, she's more of a younger woman, because, you know, I wanted the age to appeal to both teens and women and so I decided to make her like a twenty-something. And, uh, she's really into artsy stuff. So then, she like, uh..."

Ugh.

If you have ever gone to a writer's conference - and you should know by now that we Scribble Chicks really encourage writing conferences!! - you have heard all about the elevator speech and how you should be able to give a thirty-second rundown of your book, preferably without using the words "uh" or "um".

Confession time, y'all. I am THE WORST at the elevator speech in the whole history of the WORLD.

By the time I finish telling someone about my book, I can see them out of the corner of my eye pulling their library cards out of their wallets and taking scissors to them, swearing that they will never read another book in their life.

It's enough to make me grip the sides of my laptop and promise that I will never leave my desk or home ever again. All of my promotional work on my books will just have to take place behind my computer screen so that I can edit out all of my uhhhs and hmmms. I love to write, but I am the worst at promoting it.

Anyone with me?

Oh, did I mention? I've got an interview tomorrow with a local TV station about my newest novel, Sketchy Behavior.

On TV. Without my laptop. Outside of my house.

Please be praying for me. I get very nervous before ANY type of interview, but at least with radio/phone interviews, I can pace the house and make the people listening believe that I'm just calmly sitting in a chair, drinking a mocha and painting my toenails. Not so with TV interviews. With those, I have to look calm as well as act calm.

No pacing allowed.

The pacing might just detract from what I'm there to talk about.

Because, honestly? The writing is not about me. The book is not about me. When all is said and done, the book is totally for, completely wrapped around, tightly tied up in Christ. All I do for a living is write silly stories to convey the love of Jesus to whomever might be picking up my novel.

And that's what my book is about.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bookmark This: True Confessions of a Living, Breathing Editor

One of the best things about writing a novel (you know, besides the obvious) is the privilege of working with your developmental editor. :)

Sure, at first, it's a bit daunting as he/she (in my case, she) tries to poke holes in your plot, challenges you to rethink the scene that you thought was absolute perfection, asks you to change the name of a character that you got really attached to, etc. But as you go through the process, you notice that somehow, some way, these suggestions helped make your work so much stronger.

I had one of those fantastic editors, and her name is Jamie Chavez. Not only did I feel like she really got my style of writing, but we shared a mutual love of LOST, a sarcastic sense of humor and a previous hometown of mine, namely, the Nashville, Tenn., area.

So naturally, when I saw that she finally started a blog, I was downright thrilled, and I know you will be to. Not only does she have great behind-the-scenes information on how to succeed in writing novels, but she has encouraging posts like the one that's currently on the top of her page. Even though I've been writing for a living for a while now, I was so encouraged by the post about doing what I love (and how they money will come if you're doing just that).

Good stuff, my fellow Scribble Chicks, good stuff indeed...