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:


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!)

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?


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.


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? :)