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 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!). :)