Wednesday, December 26, 2012

From us and ours to you and yours ;)

We hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! We'll be back after the holidays :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas to me!


I got my cover art yesterday for my April 2013 release with Love Inspired! What do y'all think? I totally love it! This might be my favorite cover ever.

Can't wait 'til the spring :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gotta give a little...

Sometimes, we just gotta give a little.

And what better time of year than Christmas?

We talk about writer's block here on Scribble Chicks a lot, and I've found a new solution that we haven't discussed. This works for me, anyway, so I highly recommend trying it.

You know how we say sometimes the best cure is to get up, change scenery, get a new drink or snack, take a walk, exercise, write on something different, etc. ? Well those are great solutions and tend to work, too. However...(especially right now during the Advent season) why not take it a step forward and get your mind off YOU and YOUR STORY and YOUR WIP in an even better way?

Give to someone else. Focus on someone else. Pray for someone else.

Yep. It's that simple.

If you're sitting there stuck, and you think that blinking cursor on the Word document might actually come to life and beat you up, it's time to move forward. ;)  So in that moment, just STOP. And GIVE. Send an email to a writer buddy and ask how THEIR story is going - without mentioning yours. Facebook message someone you know going through a tough time an encouraging word. Email a gift card to a family member or friend who could use a smile or even just because. Ask a critique partner how you can pray for them in their writing journey.

All of those things make God smile. God tells us to give, and God blesses obedience. So whatever that giving looks like to you in that moment, give. Give freely and without expectation. And just see if God doesn't bless you back.

Now remember - it might not come in the form of 4500 words during the next hour. (but it might!)  :)  The return blessing might be something related to a completely different category in your life. But we can't out-give God.

And doing good for others at Christmas and beyond might just shift your perspective, free up your mind and heart, and let your soul breathe. And how could that NOT be good for your own story?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Inspiration



In case you're looking for the perfect gift for the writer in your life, you might find it here.

(No, this isn't a hint for my husband--I already have the book.)

Seriously one of the best compilations ever. And the quotes from the most amazing writers in the world... pushes it over the top of incredible.

Merry Christmas! (I'll give you a break from reading the blog next Tuesday ;).)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Scars

This last Friday, we all witnessed a horribly tragedy. I cannot even begin to comprehend the grief these parents are feeling - my heart has been just breaking for them. It's Christmastime. This is the time of year when joy is supposed to be in full.

This is a blog about writing. Writing, though, is not just putting words on a paper. Writing is putting feelings on paper - sadness, excitement, joy and sorrow.

In light of this, I would ask you to take a few minutes and read this blog that I read this morning. It is not about writing. But the way she writes is full of emotion.

Praying for joy and peace for you and your family this Christmastime.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Calling vs Hobby...

I never wanted to try to tackle this question before, because it's SO subjective. But it plagues so many writers of Christian fiction that I can't ignore it anymore, especially not when I feel God has given me an answer.

I'll share it with you, but remember, this is "my" answer. If it doesn't ring true in your heart, then move on and don't stress. All I can do is share my experience and see if it relates to you or not. Don't let this post hinder you if it's not what's in your heart.

How's that for a lighthearted blog post introduction? haha!

Okay, seriously. You've heard authors say they are called to write Christian fiction. And you might passionately agree.

Or you might be one of those who sit there and think "Well... huh. Am I, too? How do they know they are? Where is my writing on the wall? How can I tell?"

Or you might just stand there and say "You're called? That's cool. I just like to write."

Calling vs. Hobby.

Seems so tough to determine, but its pretty much what you make it.

For me - I'm called to write. I know this for several reasons, one being that writing has been a part of me since I was a little girl. I really don't remember ever NOT being in love with written words and journals and books and notebooks and pens. I started writing short stories on our first home computer when I was seven years old. The passion only grew. It was like God had put that in my DNA.

But there was a distinct moment when I was about 12 years old, when I found a Robin Jones Gunn novel under a pile of laundry in my older sister's room, that stands out to me even today at 28. It was WHISPERS from her Glenbrooke series, and after reading that first venture into Christian fiction, I was done. I knew. I was supposed to write romance like that. Clean, quality novels that inspired women toward romance, that inspired them to not only wait for the right guy but to wait for the Lord. The true lover of our souls. To inspire in readers what that book inspired in me.

There are moments since then, as I pursue that calling, that cement the calling for me. When I get busy and stressed over the details of life, when I get caught up in the endless to-do list and wonder if I'm supposed to be writing now at all, I only have to look at one thing. When I'm closest to God, I want to write. When I'm in a church service, I'm eager to work on my story. When I'm having a quiet time and feel the Spirit, I'm inspired for my novels. The burden is lifted and the path is made clear. When my heart is still before my Creator, He reminds me what I'm supposed to be doing.

That's what I hold to when I doubt the calling on rough days.

Maybe it looks different for you, but that's my story.  :)

Here's another truth - just because you aren't sure you are CALLED to write, or even if you know you're not CALLED to it in a ministry form, doesn't mean you won't be successful and doesn't mean that God won't bless your socks off through your writing and open doors. If writing for you is a hobby or a business or both or neither...who cares?

So what? Does it change anything? Does it make you want to stop writing? NO :)

Don't get caught up in the semantics. Don't get legalistic on your soul. Calling, hobby, ministry, business, whatever - God can use all of that when our hearts are right. How awesome is that???

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Why I Want to be a Bald Baby

The Tiny Human
Recently this bald baby turned one.

The applause, the balloons, the ruckus...

She was oblivious.

She had no idea that it was all about her.

Sometimes I want to go back to that place for myself.

It's easy, when you hear people say, "Wow--you got a book contract in a recession..."

or,

"Wow--you really stuck with it through the rejection..."

or,

"Wow--your writing really touched me..."

to think,

The ruckus... it's all about me.

But then the wake-up comes; the moment where you weep in the church pew. And you realize that your creator--He is your salvation, and the story is about Him.

***


Have you been called to serve where others tried and failed,
And with God’s help and strength your efforts have prevailed?
Touch not the glory
Have you some special gift, some riches you can share,
Or are you called of God to intercessory prayer?
Touch not the glory
Has God appointed you to some great noble cause,
Or put you where you hear the sound of man’s applause?
Touch not the glory
A watching world still waits to see what can be done
Through one who touches not that which is God’s alone.
Touch not the glory, touch not the glory, touch not the glory
It belongs to God.

(Words by Erma Davison)

Monday, December 10, 2012

How to Find the Elusive Agent

There is something of a Catch-22 when it comes to writing and it's all tied up in one word:

Agents.

I remember hating that word a few years ago. Few publishers accept unsolicited manuscripts and yet I couldn't get an agent to represent me if I wasn't already published. This is very frustrating for an unpublished, unknown author.

So how do you break this little circle and get an agent interested in your work?

I know we here at Scribble Chicks harp on this ALL the time, but...

CONFERENCES, friends.

Writing conferences are the KEY to finding an agent who is willing to represent you, finding a publisher who is willing to look at your material, and finding out that you know nothing about the industry or what shoes qualify as "comfortable" while running from meeting to class to Q&A sessions. I learned SO much from these conferences. (I still don't know what shoes to recommend to you, though. Only that you should definitely plan in time for caffeine.)

An agent is so much more willing to look at your work if you are sitting across from them, obviously serious about your writing because you are at a writing conference. You become more than just a name on a piece of paper - you become a person with a story to tell. And if you are nice, that's just even more bonus points for you. ;)

So, here's a list of a few things you can do to make a good impression on a potential agent when you get the chance to meet them at a conference:

1. Be on time to your appointment.

This is huge. Be early if you possibly can. Show them that their time is important to you. If you are meeting them in more of a group setting, say around a table at dinner, then be polite. Don't hog the conversation and don't interrupt someone else. Politeness and punctuality carry a lot of weight in publishing!

2. Be friendly.

This seems obvious, but I have definitely witnessed meetings where the author sits down, doesn't even bother with a "hello" or a "how are you", but just launches into tell the agent why he or she should be represented by them. The standard length of appointments with agents is typically fifteen minutes. You can spare a few to be friendly.

3. Remember that you are not their only appointment.

The agent you are meeting with has likely already had DOZENS of meetings that day or that weekend. I had an agent ask me one time after our meeting if I could stay a few minutes extra and watch her table for her while she ran to the bathroom. Remember that friendliness is the best way to make an impression. Be courteous of the fact that they are likely worn out and are most likely not going to be hauling dozens and dozens of full-length novels home to read. Bring your business card and your proposal, but leave your book in the hotel room. If they want it, they'll ask for it.

4. Slow down and breathe.

Typically, after exchanging greetings and such, the agent will look at you and ask you what your book is about. This is where that "elevator pitch" comes in. Give him or her a two minute, quick synopsis of your book but leave them hanging as to what the end is. Take your time - don't rush. In the beginning of my meetings with agents and publishers, I could barely inhale after telling my story because I was so panicked. Take a deep breath and try to calm down. An agent isn't necessarily evaluating your book - they are checking out your ability to write and what kind of client you would be.

5. Ask lots of questions.

After telling the agent your pitch, ask them if they wouldn't mind glancing through your proposal. What do they think of your idea? Do they think it has a place in the current market? What do they think of your writing style? What do they think of the layout of your proposal? Be prepared to have a thick-skin here, guys. They might not tell you what you want to hear, but they will tell you the truth and that's what you came to the conference for.

6. Be prepared to change.

When I was first coming to these conferences, I was trying to shop a mystery novel. I was in one of these meetings when the person I was talking to set my book down, looked at me and said, "Honestly, Erynn? You are twenty-one years old. I have a huge market right now for books about twentysomethings and I can find no one who has a voice that sounds authentic." That's when I showed them Miss Match, my little for-fun writing I was doing on the side and they were ecstatic. Maybe you won't end up writing suspense or historical fiction or sci-fi or whatever you think you will. Be prepared to stretch a little. If an agent says, "I don't see a market for this, but have you ever thought of writing this instead?", don't just shut them down. Think about it. Pray about it. Practice. You might change your mind.

7. Sometimes it's not your writing.

Not every agent is going to be a good agent for you. And not every author is going to be a good fit for one particular agent. 95% of the time, you may not be talking to your agent, but for that 5% of the time, you want it to be an enjoyable experience and so do they. You can have amazing writing but a horrendous personality and that is going to be a big drawback for whatever poor agent has to work with you.

7. Do your research.

On the flip side of this, you also need to be researching these agents you are meeting with as well. Just like they are going to be mentally evaluating you, you need to be evaluating them. Are they personable? Do they have a good reputation? Do they represent authors who have similar styles to you (this can be a big plus - they know better then what publishing houses are accepting your style of books)? Do they seem hardworking? What is their strategy for selling a book? If you get an offer from an agent who wants to represent you, take a week or so and ask some of their current clients what their thoughts are about this person. If you have contacts in publishing houses, ask them as well to get the other side of that equation. A good agent won't mind in the least.


Above all else, remember that God has a plan for your writing that far exceeds the one you have for it. Maybe nothing will ever happen and He'll use you in ways that you can't even imagine right now. Maybe you'll become the next big bestseller. Maybe you'll never be a bestseller, but you'll still have a small, faithful following. Whatever the case, know that we here at Scribble Chicks are rooting for you - in whatever great adventure God's got for you!

Please let me know if you have any more questions regarding agents! I will do my best to answer them.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Where the Magic Happens

I was so inspired by B.J.'s post about her writing space that I decided to also give you a glimpse of where the magic happens. Or where I want the magic to happen anyway when I'm not at Starbucks. Or Barnes & Noble. Or some random waiting room.

C'mon in...



Here's my desk and trusty laptop. Just ordered a bigger desk and can't wait for a little more room to groove...


I like to be surrounded by things that inspire me. Like Audrey Hepburn, the globe, the ampersand, books!!!!!!


In my line of sight in our reading den (yep, we wanted to bring the Barnes & Noble experience home with us), I have lots more books in my line of vision.



Now how about you? What makes your writing space the perfect place to crank out the copy?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Let me out of the box!

Have you ever heard your characters ask that before?

"LET ME OUT OF THE BOX!"

Guess its more of a demand than a question...

Seriously though, sometimes we put our characters into such stilted, boring, formal conflict that we forget to let them breathe. Let them tell us where to go and what to write. We get so busy complaining about our characters not doing what we want them to, not flowing easily into the plot we stuffed them into, that we don't consider the fact they might be trying to tell us they have a better way.

Can't help but see the spiritual analogy in that (in reverse). We try to force our own plans and our will, always forgetting that God's will and plans are so much better, higher, and greater than our own. Maybe it's time to stop forcing it and let God move us.

And in your writing, if your plot is stuck, maybe it's time to try a different route. Think outside the box. If Plan A is obvious and the best answer logically, think about what Plan B would look like and give it a whirl. You might find an amazing twist that is just what your story needs. Don't be afraid to keep asking what if.

Remember, plans are just plans. Not guarantees.

For us, and for our characters ;)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Take the dare! Post your "office" pics.


I wanted the perfect space to write, so I spent some birthday money putting this nook together.

Every decision was sentimental--my mom's old writing desk (painted black and roughed-up), flowers from loving folks at church, a photo of me with my agent and... and also, my initials... because I'm an egomaniac (actually, my mom bought them for me).

But in reality I have a toddler. When she collapses, so do I. So this is where I write most days:


Do you dare? Post a pic online of your favorite writing space, and leave the link here!

****

Bekah Hamrick Martin writes about What You Missed in Sex Ed on her blog, The Bare Naked Truth. She also writes about how Waiting Is Sexy in her book, The Bare Naked Truth: Dating, Waiting & God's Purity Plan.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday Motivation

I saw this today and SO NEEDED to be reminded of this in regard to my writing:


Sometimes I forget that while writing CAN and IS fun most of the time, it is still work and my job. Let's work hard this week, friends! My writing goal this week is for 8,000 words by the end of Friday night.

Who is ready to climb that word mountain with me? I hear there are cookies on the other side... ;)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Holy Time Warps

Lately, I've had to rediscover my methods of time management.

I started a part time job outside of the home, and while the hours are great in regards to my child (I am still able to drop her off and pick her up at preschool, meaning no one else is inconvenienced to do so) - it's not great for writing. Or for the gym. Or for the other things I WANT or NEED to do. And because I get home with her in the afternoons and we've been apart all day, she wants to spend time with me and I'm staring at my growing list of obligations thinking "wow - and that's not even allowing for time on my novel" (which uh has a deadline).

What's a girl to do?

Are you in this position? Wanting to write, needing to write, wanting to make a deadline that is self imposed or otherwise, and find yourself flat OUT of time? It's tricky, because sometimes we think we have no time and we do, and other times, we really do just have too many obligations and have no time to spare.

I'm sort of in the middle right now. I DO have a lot of responsibilities (2 part time jobs from home, 1 outside the home for 4 hours a day, a critique/editing service on the side, all the housecleaning/cooking, sole care-giving for my kid, book deadlines, maintaining several blogs, book marketing, bill paying, playing taxi and keeping my little girl's schedule of Wed Night church and her once a week ballet class, etc.)

Some of those responsibilities (like house cleaning) is a personal priority and choice - but isn't necessary to top the list. Unfortunately. We CAN survive if the laundry stays piled up or the dishes tower in the sink. My OCD neat freak self just has to get over it. Other responsibilities (like deadlines for the newspaper I freelance for, or working my other from home part time job that pays me monthly) HAVE to go to the top of the list.

And try explaining any of that to the four year old who just wants to snuggle and watch cartoons with Mama.

I've been riding an endless cycle of guilt trips lately - guilt over not being enough to spread around, guilt over not feeling as if I can give anything up - and you know what I've realized?

When you make time for God, you get holy time warps.

Seriously. I don't know if this is a supernatural feat or if it's simply a matter of clearing your heart/head for priorities to shine through, for focus to shift, and for perspective to change but hey - regardless, I'll take it :)

When we make time for devotional reading, for quiet time, for worship, for prayer - we win. The clock fails. Sure, there are still days of stress and feeling overwhelmed, but when I'm consistent in this commitment, everything somehow smooths out and gets done. I feel less stressed, I do more work with a clear head, and I can focus.

Some things simply can't be written in a How To book, because they're just not that complicated. Too busy? Well, here's my How To Make More Time book, in a single sentence:

Seek Jesus.

Why don't you try it this week and see? Report back to me please! Either here or on my personal email, betsystamant@yahoo.com  I'd love to see how God blesses your time in exchange for your obedience :)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

If You Build It--Will They Come?


If you don't have a blog, and you want to write non-fiction books, it's probably time to start getting your name out there so you can get noticed.

"I have a blog, but no one reads it," someone told me recently.

No. They won't. Unless you get the word out that your blog exists.

Here are a few simple ways to do just that:

1) Comment on similar blogs. Compliment people sincerely on their posts. Readers will click over to check out your site.

2) Ask to guest-blog on similar sites. Bloggers are usually looking for someone to share useful information, and again, people will click your bio to see your site.

3) Use Twitter and Facebook to promote your posts. Just don't do it every day, or people will stop clicking. (Join in relevant conversation; don't just promote yourself).

You can do all this in less than thirty minutes a day. It's also great practice with deadlines for your writing.

Do you have a blog? How often do you post?

***
Bekah Hamrick Martin is a blogger at the Bare Naked Truth: What You Missed in Sex Ed (and Other General Blogginess). 

Monday, November 26, 2012

It's the Christmas season...

...which, if you're like me, is usually the time when all of the grand, wonderful writing goals I set for myself fall somewhere by the wayside until all the decorations, stockings and pecan pie have been put away until next year.

So, how can we make sure we are still continuing toward those goals even during this magical, I-should-just-stare-at-the-Christmas-tree-beauty time of year?

1. Set a schedule and stick to it.

It sounds easy, but it's hard to do. My normal writing time is for a little over two hours every weekday during my son's nap time. But you have NO idea how easy it is to find other things to do during that time. Dinner prep, laundry, cleaning up the house, Pinterest, you name it and it's a distraction for me.

2. Set small goals and then reward yourself when you reach them.

Yes, this is also used in puppy obedience school, but it works for me so I figured I'd share it. ;) When I sit down to write, I try to set tiny "mile markers" of sorts. Every thousand words, I get up and stretch or get a snack or spend a few minutes on Facebook or Pinterest or whatever other things I need to do that day. Then I sit down and start writing again until I reach another goal.

3. Keep it reasonable.

No, you most likely are not going to be able to write a complete novel in the month of December. But maybe you can aim for a fraction of what you normally do and if (or when) you complete more, that's just another excuse to celebrate with more pecan pie, right? ;) Don't try to overdo - the idea is to enjoy the season celebrating Christ's birth, not be completely stressed out by adding unrealistic deadlines to yourself.

What are you hoping to accomplish (or not accomplish!) this Christmas season?


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all!

Happy Thanksgiving, fellow writers!

And while we're on the subject of giving thanks, I can't help thinking of those responsible for my writing career...all my clients, editors, publishers, the authors who write the books that inspire me, the people kind enough to read my novels and articles, the lovely folks who've encouraged me along the way...

I'm eternally grateful.

And thank you, Scribble Chicks readers for joining us for the ride. We love your questions, the dialogue and having a place to talk about writing. It totally rocks and so do you! Hope you have an incredible, restful holiday with your family and friends.

So excited for turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie,
:) Christa

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Biggest pet peeve?

What is your biggest pet peeve in novels when you're just reading? What jolts you out of the story, or interrupts the flow, or makes you want to put the book down or even throw it across the room? What red flags raise in your head in regards to amateur writing?

We all have something that bothers us.

For some, it's head hopping (abrupt POV shifts that aren't separated by a chapter or page break, ala Nicholas Sparks - LOVE him, but come on!) For others, it's cliche phrases or predictable plots. For still others, it's a contrived plot, where things happen OH so conveniently (not kidding, I read a romantic suspense not too long ago by a super-famous, best selling, award winning author, and the heroine just happened to find an object she suddenly discovered she needed RIGHT then, in that moment, by chance. There was zero foreshadowing or set up. Uh uh. That's cheating!!! lol)

What is your pet peeve?

Remember, it's always so much easier to find fault in someone else's writing, whether that's a published novel off the shelf or a critique for a friend. Just be careful to search your own work as thoroughly and get trusted friends to do the same for you. He that cast the first stone, and such... ;)


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How to Make it Happen



 Guys. I love this kid. I really do. But I think feeding her FROM MY OWN BODY for nine months was enough.

She disagrees.

She now wants to eat from my plate. Despite the fact she rejected the same food on her plate five minutes ago. So that by the time I’m done “eating”, I’m barely surviving on what I call the Mommy Diet. She’s had 15 bites and I’ve had two.

We’ve had to establish some boundaries. For starters, I try to trick her into eating all my vegetables. Also, if it’s chocolate—she can forget about it.

I tell you this to make a point: You only have so much food on your plate. I only have so much food on my plate. When we give too much away, we end up malnourished. Even when we give it away for a cute cause.

Time is food. If we’re called to this writing thing, we need to monitor how much we’re giving away. Are we obsessing that every closet be clean? Are we still scrubbing the bathrooms every day? Are we working out at the gym for three hours?

What’s your vice? It might be “good” on the outside… but are you feeling malnourished on the inside?

What do you need to scale back on so your writing dream can grow healthy and strong?

***

Bekah Hamrick Martin writes about What You Missed in Sex Ed on her blog, The Bare Naked Truth. She also writes about purity, God's Way, in her book, The Bare Naked Truth: Dating, Waiting & God's Purity Plan.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thankful

 I realize that the whole world is about to collectively pass out over the retirement of the Twinkie, but I was thinking we might focus on other issues today.

Like thankfulness.

And your characters.

And where and how they do and should intersect.

Particularly this week, since it is Thanksgiving week, I'm busy thinking through the characters in my newest WIP. Are THEY thankful? How can I, without getting onto a preaching kick, show a thankful heart in my characters?

Here's a fun little Monday writing exercise for you: Take one of your main characters from your current WIP, convict them of needing to be thankful and put them in a not-so-pleasant situation.

What happens? Do they change, grow? Do they become bitter? Do they remain unchanged or stagnant? How did you allow the scene to unfold by showing and not telling? Read back through it - were you ever preaching (either as the narrator or as another character)?

I'm thankful for so many, many, MANY things this year but one of the things I'm definitely thankful for is YOU, dear reader and the wonderful privilege of writing on this blog with my beloved Scribble Chicks. May God bless you and your family this Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Oh boy! (or girl?)

A reader asked if I'd expound on my advice for writing opposite gender point of view scenes from an earlier comment. So here I go!

First of all, I find it hilarious that my critique partners think my hero scenes flow more naturally than my heroine scenes. Oops. My husband would be equally confused since we are never on the same page ;) haha!

I think, though, the reason is because I always seem to know my hero better than my heroine for some reason. Because of that, his personality and voice flow more naturally into the scene. That is a reminder for me to do more research on my heroine and get to know her before starting the story. Does that ring true for anyone else?

If you struggle with making your hero sound like a guy, just follow these basic tips.

1. Match his inner voice to his profession. This makes it a LOT easier to get guy-sounding inner monologue going. For example, if your hero is an architect, have him notice structures of buildings or use metaphors of building blocks, angles, lines, and materials. This is good character depth regardless of gender. If he's a fireman, have him think in terms of heat and fire (you can easily see the metaphor choices there) If he's a cowboy, have him think like a cowboy. His natural comparisons and thoughts are going to border on what he knows. "She stalked away, faster than a bull out of a chute". (now that's a little cliche but you get my gist!)

2. Don't go overboard on description. Guys notice weather and setting and scenery too, but not in the same way a woman does (typically). Girls might see a field of wildflowers and think it romantic, beautiful, poetic, and would use color choices like fuchsia, turquoise, aqua, amber. The colorful field would make them feel things and contemplate. A guy would probably think (unless he's a master gardener) in color terms of blue and purple and pink. Basic. And he might not even really notice or point out the flowers in the first place. Guys would be more likely to focus on the mountain in the background than the flowers between the mountain and himself.

3. Watch your feeling choices. Guys experience the same emotions women do BUT in different ways. And their natural struggles are different than ours. Women's natural struggles are more along the lines of insecurity and wanting to be beautiful and feel safe and secure. Men's natural struggles are more along the lines of being enough, measuring up and receiving validation. Don't have your hero's struggle be that he thinks he's fat ;)

4. Clothing choice. Guys throw on jeans and a T-shirt and never think of themselves as wearing an outfit. Women, however - well, you know :)  This also applies to how the hero views the heroine's appearance. He would see her and note she was wearing a dress. Or jeans and a button down. Or a skirt and red shirt. He wouldn't think of her (most likely) as wearing a tunic sweater, a paisley sundress, or name brand ANYTHING.

5. Think of your own marriage or dating relationship and how you're different from each other. You see an action movie full of explosions and roll your eyes. But your spouse is like "YEAH!" You see a motorcycle and think "danger", your boyfriend thinks "adventure". Etc.

If all else fails, grab a guy friend, husband, uncle, father, or cousin (try to find someone in the same age bracket as the character, if you can) and ask if the thoughts and word choices you used seem more masculine than feminine.

I hope this helps!

Remember, when you're writing a point of view scene of the hero, he has to sound like a guy or it won't ring true to the reader. Even if some female readers don't notice it sounding off, your guy readers will--and so will your editor or agent ;)  Besides, you want your characters to resonate with your reader, so even if the reader isn't thinking "wow, that was a girly thing for him to think", you still want them to connect with the characters. And that means making them realistic.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Stuck? Need a Nudge?

Looking for a writing topic? Enjoy this random prompt generator. (It comes up with some pretty crazy stuff!)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Inspiration.

Need a breather from your current WIP?? Sometimes taking a break, working on something new or finding a new angle can breathe new life into your story!

Take a look at this picture and get your Sherlock hats on:


Where is she going? Or is she already there? Is she running from something or running to something? Is it a happy trip? Work trip? Sad trip? What did she pack? Will she be meeting someone on this trip or traveling with someone?

The questions are endless... ;)

Now, grab a pen and write a paragraph or two about our mystery traveler! Have fun!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Secrets to Great Dialogue



Ever notice how the art of multi-tasking is absolutely essential when writing fiction?

It's a given that you've got to have a page-turning plot, compelling, well-developed characters and a warm voice that invites readers in, but another element of the story that's absolutely crucial is dialogue.

As I piddle away on my work in progress, I've been re-watching one of my favorite TV shows, "Felicity." Long before "Alias" and "LOST," "Felicity" was J.J. Abrams' first show, and like another one of my guilty pleasures, "Gilmore Girls," the dialogue is seriously one of the best things about it.

Even though it's a guy writing the dialogue for a show starring a girl, he absolutely nails it. All the hopes and fears and uncertainties that come with being a college-aged female are perfectly captured. In fact, there are moments where I'm convinced he stole my diary from my own college years because what he says is that spot-on.

And considering the motley crew of characters he's created, he still managed to give each and every person his/her own voice, too. Julie is vulnerable and artsy. Elena is sure of herself, almost to a fault, and not afraid to be blunt. Noel is the soulful, compassionate soul who wears his heart on his sleeve. Ben is charming but self-serving, yet in the most unexpected moments, there are flashes of humanity that surprise you. Felicity is thoughtful, emotional and contemplative.

The writers give these characters room to breathe and grow, yet they're always consistent in having their voice and reactions to situations fit within the context of their character. And never, ever do they waste a line of dialogue. Without being so clever that it's hard to imagine these people ever existing, the writers make sure every line has a purpose, namely moving the story forward and allowing the viewer to get to know the character in the process.

So now that we're on the subject, what exactly are the secrets to great dialogue?

Sometimes discovering what works is a direct result of finding out what doesn't. For instance, the worst dialogue is where the writer tries dumping a bunch of informative data into a conversation. It never, EVER sounds natural, and worse yet, it's a lazy way of letting you readers know something important.

Writers tend to do this most with flashback-type information like "Remember when my cousin got in that car accident? I couldn't get behind the wheel for weeks, and to this day, it's made me afraid of driving and riding in cars."

You never want your dialogue to sound like that because, let's face it, our conversations would never sound that way. And like Betsy said in her excellent post yesterday, keepin' it real is an absolute must.

Other things to avoid when crafting killer dialogue is addressing characters by their proper name (NO ONE does this in real life), getting too fancy with your dialogue tags ("said" is still your best option most of the time—adding some action to the mix helps break up the monotony) and putting words in the mouth of people that simply don't fit.

For instance, if you're established that a character is generally the quiet, thoughtful type, giving them a long-winded soliloquy (which should be avoided anyway) just isn't consistent. If someone's from the Midwest, having them say "y'all" all the time just won't work.

Finally, the best secret to great dialogue is simply listening. Go to your local coffee shop, the mall, even church and eavesdrop on people's conversations (discreetly, of course). The way they talk to each other is the best way of learning what works as dialogue in a story. While a quirky character with a very unique manner of speaking is certainly welcome and adds plenty of color, it's important to have characters firmly grounded in reality. And when you do that, writing dialogue will be a whole lot easier—and your W.I.P will be far superior as a result.

Now it's your turn...how do you write dialogue? What works and what doesn't?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Keepin' it real...

Hey guys!

So I have this whole "real" theme going right now, probably because of the launch of my new personal blog (http://www.writergetsreal.blogspot.com)  and that's coming into play again today.

Let's talk about Keepin' It Real in our fiction.

What, you say? Real fiction? Isn't that an oxymoron? A contradiction?

Not anymore! I don't know how many times my editor or my friend's editors have said "That would never happen" or "that's too far out there" (even if it might HAVE actually happened in real life!)

These days, the whole "but it's fiction" excuse just doesn't cut it anymore. A "fictional license" almost doesn't exist outside of maybe some historical novels I've seen lately, where author are sometimes allowed to tweak dates or years slightly to fit their story. Editors (and readers!) want real content they can relate to and learn from and experience and pretend is their own REAL life.

No pressure ;)

Here are some ways to keep it real in your writing today:

1. Keep it real geographically. When I was writing ADDISON BLAKELY, CONFESSIONS OF A PK, I had set the book originally in Texas. When the copy editor got to it, she was literally laughing at the absurdity of how cold it was in the story for September and October. I was showing weather more akin to the midwest. So....I moved my story to the midwest. LOL. Keep it real.

2. Keep it real technically. Characters can multi-task, but don't let them carry a purse, a diaper bag, a suitcase, a duffell bag, a tray of cheese crackers, three grocery sacks, a laptop bag and still hold their toddler's hand and also unlock the door. Now I've done about two thirds of that in real life and impressed myself, but still had to make two trips. ;) This seems common sense in our writing but it's actually really easy to forget our character picked up a coffee cup and never put it down. Keep it real.

3. Keep it real emotionally. Emotions are powerful for people and characters - on and off the page. Respect that and try not to make it cliche. Remember characters are people too, and just like your emotions are often raw and ragged, so are theirs. Let them express themselves in a real manner, though. We sometimes feel like throwing the coffee table but we don't actually. We sometimes feel like punching a hole in the front door but we don't actually. We sometimes feel like hitting our spouse with a throw pillow but we don't actually (well....hahaha) We sometimes feel like screaming or bawling in public but we don't actually. Keep it real.

4. Keep it real worderly. (See how I did that? Worderly isn't a word) Sorry, I blame it on the Halloween candy. Anyway, keep it real with your dialogue. Read it out loud as you go and see if it sounds stilted or too formal. We tend to write more formerly than we speak in real life. Make sure your dialogue is tight and not fluffy and filled with wasted words, but at the same time, make sure it flows and sounds real to your ear. Keep it real.

How do you keep it real?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Trick or treat!



I can't resist Snoopy on any holiday, even Halloween. :)  Therefore - may your candy baskets be overflowing!!! (hey, mini candy bars make for fantastic writer's brain food. I'mjustsaying...)

When I hear trick or treat, I can't help but want to call the bluff, and yell "TRICK!" And just see what the poor kid does. hahahaha. I'm terrible. This is why I go to my church carnival on Halloween, where I must play nicely with others and hand out candy whether they win or lose the bean bag toss...

Happy Halloween! Isn't it awesome as Christians to know that regardless of how deeply the world celebrates this holiday, our God is bigger? Our God is stronger? Our God is able? Our God is good? Our God is constant? HE IS. And He always will be.

So trick or treat, or not. Eat candy, or not (though I recommend, yes) Dress up, or not. (again, I vote yes. hehe) But you know one thing you MUST do this Halloween? As a rule? (and eating your weight in candy corn doesn't count though I dearly applaud the effort!)

WRITE!

Yep! An official order from Scribble Chicks. This Halloween, you  must write. Something. Anything. And give us a word count report tomorrow :)

(bet you want candy now, huh???)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Motivation.







And, after all these wonderful images and quotes:


Get to work!! The day is almost over!! :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Author Appearances and other things that go bump in the night...

Sometimes the might frightening thing in the world has nothing to do with Halloween, but rather...

DUM Dun DUMMMMMM......

Author appearances.

The whole dreaded "Ohhhh mylanta I'm going to a book-signing and what if no one shows up?" thing. I saw an author post on FB the other day that she was going to a signing and was bringing her iPad to play Solitaire on. Just in case.

It's good to have a Plan B ;)

However, there are some other things you can do to have successful author appearances, whether that's at a book-signing or a library or an author event or wherever.

1. Bring chocolate. Seriously, this is good for you (endorphins) and good to draw a crowd. Especially kids, which will then automatically bring pocket-book toting parents. Tried and true method! Plus it just makes you seem giving and friendly and people are more likely to buy a book if you're giving something away. This worked really well when I did my first signing for my YA- ADDISON BLAKELY, CONFESSIONS OF A PK- because I had a full fledge cake with the book cover as icing. Was so fun! So have a dish of chocolate or candy (especially right now at the holiday season!)

2. Stand up. Seriously again, standing and engaging with people makes you more approachable than sitting woodenly behind a table/desk and looking all formal and intimidating. Try standing beside your table, leaning against it (check its sturdiness first please). Also, bring people with you who you can talk with and look smiley-friendly and approachable to strangers. People are more likely to come skim read your back cover if they think they can subtly pick it up without being obligated to purchase if they don't like it.

3. Have other freebies/hands out ready. I don't know how many times I've done signings for ADDISON where the person said "Oh, I don't read YA, but my friend does." or "I will definitely pass this bookmark on to this kid in my youth group who was just saying she needed a new read". You really have no idea how far that could reach! :)  So have business cards and bookmarks handy.

4. SMILE. Look friendly and like you don't care if someone buys your book or not. Because really, you're there for networking and to bless readers. Talk to them about THEM when they approach. Don't make it all about you or your book. You'll probably get more sales that way by default AND its the Christian thing to do - not to mention it gets your nerves off yourself.

5. Try to do multi-author signings or events when possible. This takes a ton of pressure off and automatically provides #2 about bringing peeps with you. You are less nervous, therefore more approachable, and people who buy one book might just buy yours too! :)

Hope those tips help!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Awkward.

You known that creepy feeling you get when someone's watching you? That's how I felt that day, standing in church, like someone was ogling a particular part of my body. Only this time was different.

The stranger stood there, unapologetic, mouth agape.

At this point I guess I should explain there is nothing particularly different about me.  No tattoos. No amputations. No birth marks. I looked down, mystified.

Suddenly she broke the silence.

"So... how far along are you?"

My belly.  Darn this shirt. I knew the sales lady was lying when she told me baby-doll style tops were back in. I weighed 108 lbs and somehow this woman thought there was a second human in there.

My face went hot.

"This is awkward," I stuttered, "but I'm not pregnant."

Apparently it was awkward for only one of us. And getting more that way by the minute.

"Oh," she said, "Well, I pray that when you do get pregnant, it will be the blessing of twins."

Now I was the one staring. At her. The blessing of twins? Who prays
that kind of thing for someone? What had I ever done to this woman?

I have never prayed so hard that someone else's prayer would go unanswered.

It's been a couple of years, and I have had one child. Singular. And I'm good with that.

But if being stared at creeped me out once, it does doubly so now. I'm pretty sure next time someone ogles me, even if it's a church-lady, I'm going to hike up my baby-doll skirts and head in the opposite direction. Meanwhile thanking God for the ONE beautiful baby that's mine...

****
Q4U: What awkward experiences can you write about? Tell us in the comments, or write and leave a link so we can read it!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

21 Lies Writers Tell Themselves

I don't know about you, but sometimes it's a whole lot easier talking about writing than actually doing it sometimes. But as we've all discovered a time or two, good intentions alone don't get that manuscript done. Hard work does.

It's funny what little lies we tell ourselves as writers, and as much as I hate to admit it, this author of this article hit proverbial the nail on the head with so many of these. Well, except #1. I'm a freelance writer and while I may sport some flannel pajama bottoms from time to time, I've never mistaken undies for actual pants. Thank goodness for that, right?

Happy writing this week and here's to no more excuses!

:) Christa


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Show, Don't Tell - What does it mean?

Hey guys! I'm going to tackle a question provided by a fellow reader last week, on showing instead of telling. You've probably all heard that before, but what IS it? What does it mean? And why do we do it?

First of all, when you hear someone say in regards to your writing "show, don't tell" it means the editor or critiquer of your work wants you to rewrite that portion in a more appealing, and stronger, way. (PS - that's WHY we do it. It typically makes the writing stronger)

Here are some examples out of my head:

1.
She looked mad. - telling. You're simply saying she looked mad but as a reader we don't really see it.
Her brow furrowed as a slow flush invaded her cheeks - showing - you gave the reader a description to see.

2.
He sounded nervous. - telling
His voice cracked - showing. (this could still be seen as telling to someone really hardcore about this element, but your reader at least in this case can hear the nerves in the character's voice without just being told he was nervous)

3.
The sun rose above the hills. - telling (this isn't BAD, it's just matter of fact and a little boring)
Golden streams of sunlight crested the wheat-coated hill - showing.

Think about the details. We tend to "tell" most in regards to emotion, so think about what that emotion would do to you as a person. Like as in my nervous example - when you are nervous, what happens physically? Your heart rate increases. You feel adrenaline. Your stomach churns. Your voice might pitch. Your palms might sweat. Use those details to show instead of tell, but remember to be careful about whose point of view you're in. If you're in the hero's POV, you can't describe the heroine's nerves accurately because he can't feel what she feels. In that case you'd have to rely on the hearing, like I did with the voice cracking, or the hero could SEE the heroine rub her palms down her jeans, etc. However, if you're in the POV of the character who is experiencing the emotion, you have a lot more room to play around with it. If the POV character is nervous, then a "a herd of butterflies paraded through her stomach" or "her heart thundered in her chest and threatened to leaping across the crowded room" or etc.

Basically, show vs tell means more description and less passive writing. Telling is sometimes what you do in a first draft (for those of you who write them) to just get your story down and keep going while you have momentum - showing is what you should strive to go back and do in the polishing stages or rewriting stages.

Of course there are exceptions and you can't literally show your ENTIRE novel, or a 80k story would take 500k words ;)  You can see just in my examples that usually the showing takes more words - yet it provides a better, stronger, more visual way of writing and providing your reader with what they want to engage in the story.

Master this, and you'll rise above in that dreaded slush pile. Knowing how to show instead of tell in your writing is one of the greatest indicators of a strong writer and not an amateur one.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Doodles

You know what's missing now that all of us are writing on computers now?

Doodling.

Sometimes, that was the fastest way I could get the brain cells moving again in the middle of a long stretch of writing. Nowadays, I have to revert to Facebook or hot tea and chocolate.

It's not ever as fast at revving my brain, so now I'm also slower at writing, know too much about some people online and I'm gaining weight. ;)

Sometimes the best thing we can do for our writing is to take a break from it. Draw a picture, learn to crochet, take a walk or vacuum the house. Or go to a wedding and dance until your feet are numb like I did this last weekend.

The important thing is to make sure you come back to it. Which is why I'm going to pour myself another cup of spiced tea (aka sugar in hot form), grab a box of Trader Joe's dark chocolate mints and start writing.

Unless I can't get "Don't Want to Close My Eyes" out of brain and then I guess I'll have to just forget about it and wait for my son to wake up so we can dance around the living room again. ;)

Happy writing!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

OOPS

Sorry guys, I forgot to post here today! I also was posting at www.girlsgodgoodlife.blogspot.com so I guess I got distracted. Also, my new monthly column for Nicole O'Dell's Choose Now Ministry is also up. Guest blogging everywhere! :)

It's getting late now and I'm wiped, but if you guys have any questions this week for us, please let us know. Until then, I'll be back next week with more marketing advice :)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Exhaustion

I'm not even close to being a blonde like she is, but this is exactly how I've felt this week.

Too many deadlines.

Not enough sleep.

Is it Friday yet?

Yep, we're getting close.

Thank goodness for that.

In fact, I find myself resonating with writer Hunter S. Thompson who was a bit of a wild card to say the least. For the uninitiated, he wrote for Rolling Stone and a slew of other publications, and Johnny Depp recently played him in the movie The Rum Diary.

"If you're going to be crazy, you have to get paid for it or else you're going to be locked up." 

Amen to that.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I have to do WHAT?

Now that Erynn has so efficiently walked you guys through the steps of a proposal, I thought I'd introduce you to a future step in the process. (Partly, to give you hope that you WILL arrive here at this point, and partly, because you truly need this information)

MARKETING!

Yep. That proposal you slaved over and bribed Erynn to proofread for you? (just kidding.) It caught the attention of an agent, who took it to a traditional publisher, who loved the concept, pushed it at their committee meeting, offered you a contract, and after signing on dotted lines and celebrating with obscene amounts of chocolate, you say...NOW WHAT?

Well, now there are probably revisions, line edits and galleys. But it's also time to start MARKETING! Woohoo!

This can be fun or terrifying, depending on your perspective. So let's keep it fun, shall we? The terrifying stuff should be over by now ;)   (ummmm we won't talk about negative book reviews and low sales)

Marketing is done in part by your publisher, and in part by YOU. But you need to think of it as your responsibility, because truly, you care the most and have the most passion for your story. Therefore, the most effect. Affect? I never get that right. I should Google this but am under deadline and need to finish this post, so I won't take the time. How's that for time management for the busy author? haha!

Anyway. Ahem.

There are several ways to market.

First, you have to ditch the overly humble "I can't brag about myself!" attitude because that's not what this is about. If you published in the Christian industry, then the book isn't about you, it's about God. About Jesus. About the reader. Get that in your head NOW and you will save yourself a lot of back and forth mental talk later :)

Secondly, you need to already have in place a website and a blog. Yes, BOTH unless you combine them at a site like wordpress. I like having them separate. www.betsystamant.com and www.betsy-ann.blogspot.com   To each their own, just make a decision and get the website up already! (you really should have done this before you pitched to agents/editors, FYI) Now, on that website is CONTENT. You have to have something there and you have to maintain it / update it regularly. If an editor or marketing department for your publishing house sees your website is deader than a Ghost Town, they won't be encouraged to spend marketing dollars on you. So blog already! :)

Thirdly, start spreading the word about your release on Facebook and Twitter and any other sites you're on. If you JUST contracted the story, that's fine! Go ahead and share the joy and let people know the gist of the story. (wait until paperwork has been completed however) Don't post public excerpts or go into detail since you might have revisions later, but you can start the buzz now! How fun is that?? :)

As you get info on your story, update your fans. Start drawing them in. Keep them in the loop. Such as "Got my revisions today, guys, and wow! Can't wait to make this story stronger" on a FB status. Or once you have permission, share your book cover on your website and twitter account. Offer contests in advance for a free autographed copy. But don't stop there - it's usually a year between contract and shelf, sometimes longer, so you have to stay connected to your readers along the way. So....do giveaways of other people's books! Post articles on content related to your story (a cooking story? share recipes. a dog story? give tips on training your pet.) The options are endless. The main point is finding a way to connect with readers and excite them about your book too. Then keep that up periodically between your good news and your release date. You'll see a big difference :)

More next week :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The End of the Line

There was a day when moms lived at home. Perfectly manicured women wore pearls and high heels while simultaneously ironing socks and underwear.

Wait a second. My bad. That’s just the TV Land reruns.

Here’s the thing, though: We stay-at-home-moms, the ones of the 21st century, don’t live up to the pearl and high-heels standard. Our kids walk in the door to discover us in “easy walkers” and “dungarees”. There is spit-up on the floor, in our hair, and on the Wii that the five-year-old played all day. (Once a month we clean it up and post pictures on Pinterest of our happy homes.)

I don’t mean to portray us stay-at-home moms as lazy. I’m just saying our priorities are different. We’re running businesses while raising kids, cooking dinner while writing books, conference-calling while folding the last darn towel.

We’re a generation of multi-taskers. We’ve gotten really good at it.
But are we too good at it?

There was a day when women lived at home. Not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.

And as a mom, I'm learning there are 2400 ways to be “home” and not really be “home”.

So today, without donning my June Cleaver pearls or high heels, I’m purposing to go back in time.

I may not get the socks ironed or the underwear starched—but I will put down the phone. The computer. The books.

And I will go back, if only for ten minutes at a stretch. When she’s grown I will have plenty of time for conference calls.

Today, I want her to know she’s the only one on the end of my line.

****

Bekah Hamrick Martin is the author of The Bare Naked Truth. She can be reached at
www.facebook.com/bekahhamrickmartin, unless she’s turned off the
computer for a spell.

Monday, October 1, 2012

What's next??

So, after you finish your proposal and the firework show is completed, what do you do next??
I think this - more than almost any other question - is what we get the most: "How do I get published?"

First step = Writing a book and then a proposal. Nothing big or anything. ;)

Second step = Start making contacts in the writing field. Betsy covered some of this in her post last Wednesday about going to conferences. I feel like we harp on this sometimes, but if you can do it, going to a conference is hands down the BEST thing you could ever do for your writing.


I'm pretty certain (correct me if I'm wrong, fellow Scribble Chicks!!) that all of us on here got published for the first time by a contact we created at a conference. They do work!! And even if they don't for you, they are SO fun.

Spoken like a true nerd. ;)

Third step? Prepare yourself for rejection.

Friends, there are very few (if any!) published authors who have never once had something rejected. Keep your chins up. Just because one publisher didn't like your proposal doesn't mean the next one will feel the same way. And just because one publisher asks you to dump the first 20 pages of your novel doesn't mean that you have to or should. Take notes, listen with an open heart and mind, but then go home and think through what seems right to you.

Note that you might be rinsing and repeating steps two and three for a while. Or even step one. My first proposal I wrote and passed around at a conference was for a book that will never seen the light of day. ;)

Fourth step = Hope for someday hearing the words, "This is great! We're taking it to committee!"



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Conference update!!

I just got back from the 2012 ACFW Conference and...I wanna go back!! :)

Next year. And you must join me then too! (www.acfw.com) September 14, in Indianapolis, 2013. WOOHOO!! (keynote speaker will be ROBIN JONES GUNN!!! EEEEK!!!!) I can't wait. I love Robin and was given the honor of having a one on one lunch with her a few years back when she attended ACFW conference and taught classes. It was a highlight of my life :)  She's the vessel God used to inspire me to write Christian Fiction in the first place when I was about 12 years old.

So you have to come.

Anyway, the conference was amazing in so many ways, especially in heart-ways. I learned about the craft of writing and a lot on marketing and web presence and all those helpful things, but God spoke to me and that means so much more. Just...wow.

I also had a blast fellowshipping and spending time in the prayer room with dear friends and enjoying steak and potatoes at every meal (yes even breakfast in some form! haha we were SOOO in Texas), taking a million pictures, watching my client and friend Anne Prado win her category in the prestigious GENESIS CONTEST, dressing up fancy for the banquet night, laughing hysterically in the bar each evening with other authors who were silly from sleep deprivation and too much potato starch, worshipping with Rachel Hauck and the praise team, meeting new friends, passing notes during class like a school girl, meeting with fabulous editors from well respected houses in the industry, drinking a ton of Starbucks, attending the big Love Inspired author dinner at an Italian restaurant, chatting in person with my agent(s) who love me and want the best for me, and on and on and on.

I need a nap.....

But I want to share something I learned in Susan May Warren's marketing class. She was talking about building your readership and your "tribe", which is essentially those close loyal readers who deserve extra perks and attention because they're the ones who support your books and care the most. She had some great tips on how to make your website/blog LOOK like how your books make your readers FEEL. (yeah read that twice, I had to think it twice) But how cool is that? Susie's website represents romance and chocolate and whimsy - like her novels. She used the example of Rachel Hauck's website, which is white and airy and has a pic of a dock and water - perfect for Rachel's southern romance stories.

Jim Rubart (awesome author!!) also said in a class "It's hard to read the label from inside the bottle".  WOW. All of this applies to our writing careers and are lives in general as Christians, guys. What impression are you giving your readers? Your family? Your friends and teachers? Does it match who you are inside? And how can you go about making it genuine/sincere? What needs to change there?

Here's the link to my FB album of pics!

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151049689731701.418394.513656700&type=1&l=13b778bbf0   Anyone have any questions about the conference? :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The M Word

There were days I thought she would never come. Days I watched women exit the grocery store, red faced, sweating, veins throbbing in perfect timing to the song of, "Mom, can I have?" and "he hit me," and "I just wanted oooooooone mooore coooooookieeee..."

No person in her right mind would envy that grocery-store woman. But after years of longing for a child... I was no longer in my right mind.

It only fed my mother-obsession to watch kids trash the waiting room at my infertility appointments. I made silent, ugly promises to myself, like, My Child Will Never Act Like That, and, My Kid Will Never Watch Television Just So I Can Have Some Peace.

There is no punch line here because anyone who is a parent is already snickering.

Now the Tiny Human, the one I waited for, the one I thought would never come... is here. And she's one year old.

And that's really all I need to say about that.

I love her. The one who squeals when she runs out of Cheerios in the checkout line. The one who is pacified by the Sesame Street puppeteers that live in my iPhone and are on-call at a moment's notice.

I wouldn't change a thing. Except maybe giving her a sibling. Because really, in the deepest part of my heart, if I'm honest with myself, I must be... a masochist.

Which is honestly just another word for, "Mother".

****
Q4U: if you have kids, how do you balance parenting with writing?

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Proposal, part five

Great news for those of you out there who hate to plot!

There's more coming up in your proposal. :P

By this point, you are pretty much done with the worst part of the proposal. You've got the synopsis done (BIG SIGH HERE) and things are looking good.

Most publishers like when authors offer to make their books into a series - apparently, it ups the sales when people know they aren't going to be investing in your characters' lives for just one book. So even if you're not into writing series (like I originally was), you might want to at least make it an option for the publisher.

In my proposals, I have a section called "Potential Series Options" and underneath, I write a very BASIC sketch of two more books (one paragraph each) with two more potential titles. For example, in my proposal for Paige Torn, my book releasing in May, I listed two more books - Paige Rewritten and Paige Turned - as potentials for a continuation of the series. NavPress, my wonderful publisher, liked the idea and I've now got two more deadlines. ;)

After you wrap up that section, the only thing left is your sample chapters!! You need to include three and I always, always, ALWAYS recommend that you put the first three chapters in there. They need to be SPOTLESS, particularly if this is your first novel. Read, re-read and re-re-read them. ;) By the time Miss Match was published both my mom and I had memorized almost the entire book. During copyedits, my editor would say, "Oh and that section with this particular scene...where is it...?" and I'd say - without looking - "I think that's on page 132."

Pitiful, but true. ;)

And THEN.... give yourself a big drumroll because you are DONE.

Now what do you do with this pristine proposal??

I'll cover that next week. ;)

Got any questions?? Leave them in the comments!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Importance of Secondary Characters

Ever spend so much time focusing on your protagonist that you forget to put interesting people around him/her?

I don't know about you, but I think secondary characters can be some of the most important—and interesting—people in a story. Take "Seinfeld," for example. While the show may have been named after Jerry, wasn't it the oh-so-crazy Kramer who stole every seen with his epic entrances and one-liners?

Or if the "Seinfeld" reference feels a little dated to you, think of "The Office." You know, back in the era of Michael Scott when the show was still watchable. Again, Steve Carell's character was clearly the person steering the proverbial ship. But without Dwight and Andy and yes, even heinous Angela having their own dynamic characteristics, the show would've just been about an incompetent boss. In a word: B-O-R-I-N-G!

While a secondary character may seem like nothing more than a best friend for the leading lady or a love interest that's around for a couple of dates, it's important to devote your energy to really making them pop, too. While you don't want to devote thousands and thousands of words to someone who may be essentially making a cameo, you want to make sure he/she isn't just there without a purpose. Make them multi-dimensional, witty, interesting because who knows? They may end up being that character that your readers can't get enough of.

Speaking those illustrious secondary characters, I'm going to be participating in "The Girly Book Blog Hop" next Thursday, September 27th. Not only will I, along with a bunch of fabulous female authors be talking about secondary characters in greater depth, but there are prizes involved, too. So be sure to check out my blog for all the details.

Now it's your turn, how do you come up with your secondary characters? Who are some of your favorites from literature, TV, etc.?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Short but sweet

Hey guys, getting ready today to head out to the ACFW Conference tomorrow! I can't wait. Prayers appreciated :)  And I really hope to see you there next year!

I have to go pack now, because, yeah - still haven't. Oops.

I'll be back next week with conference stories and tidbits! :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Elusive Nap

Nap time wasn’t long enough. The Tiny Human gave me time to:

a) Take a half-shower (I’ll leave that to your imagination—did I skip the soap or the shaving cream?)

b) Eat half a grape

c) Write half a column

It’s true. Yesterday I tried to take a shower while the kid was up. I ended up spraying shaving cream in her eyeball while she threw the shower curtain open. Again. And again. And again.

I used to scoff at parents who claimed they didn’t have time to use the bathroom alone. Now I get it. I would rather change my shorts than listen to her whine through the door.

But hello—today’s a new day. I’m resolved to be in charge. This kid’s going to take a nap, and it’s going to be long enough for me to complete a sente

****
Bekah Hamrick Martin  can be reached at www.bekahhamrickmartin.com, unless she’s threatening a Tiny Human...

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Proposal, part four

Today we are going to be discussing the "S" word.

NOT that "S" word.

But this one: Synopsis.

Every good proposal needs to have a good synopsis. Remember that this is likely the first of your writing that anyone will ever read. It needs to be concise, it needs to be catchy and it needs to be interesting.

How's that for pressure? ;)

The most important thing to remember about synopsises (synopsi?) is that you need to tell the whole story. The ending and all. I know as writers we like to hold our cards close, but when it comes to editors, they like to know all. And you have to give them credit for that - they don't want to sign a 70,000 word book and then find out after all is written and signed that the ending is awful or predictable.

That being said, you can keep a few surprises. If you are like me, I don't plot out my books before I write them. I start with a very basic paragraph of what I want to write about and then go from there. So, I try to make my synopsis as basic and detail-free as I can. I don't want to spoil the story for myself either. ;)

Your synopsis should be two to three pages and introduce the main characters and detail the main plot. You can hint to the subplots, but don't feel the need to wrap those up in the synopsis - those are fine to leave hanging.

Any questions? Leave a comment! I'll try my best to post an actual proposal that I've written at the end of this little series!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

File Under: Typos, They Happen to Everyone, Apparently

So I've recently been reading a real page-turner that's currently featured on the New York Times' best-seller list.

And guess what?

I found a TYPO.

Yes, it happens to everyone, even best-selling authors, which makes everything in the universe seem right about now (yes, it's been one of those weeks).

How about you? Ever find a typo in an unexpected place that you never forgot?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

To conference or not to conference (really, there is only one answer here)

Thanks for prayers last week. I ask you keep them up. God is at work and I am very hopeful but still ask for prayer, and for God to continue to move in my family's life! :)  There's been a few new hits of bad news since last week but also a lot of good news and I'm focusing on the positive and trusting God to fill in the rest. His love never fails, His promises never waver. "Lord I believe...help my unbelief."

Amen.

Now back to writing.

The ACFW conference is ONE week and ONE day! I'm so excited :)  Is anyone out there going??? I love conference season. It conveniently always happens in the FALL which I blogged about the other day at www.girlsgodgoodlife.blogspot.com (feel free to come say hi there) which to me, is a God thing. (you'll understand after reading that post there)

For more info on the conference visit www.acfw.com and click the conference link. It's not too late to sign up at the door if you happen to live in Dallas area and have the money. Trust me, it's priceless what you receive from this thing. Not only is this conference an amazing opportunity to network with agents and editors and learn about the craft of writing, it's a time of fellowship with fellow authors, renewing friendships you typically have to maintain online only, drinking a ridiculous amount of coffee, getting a slumber-party type experience with friends in the hotel, eating gourmet food, and encountering Jesus through fellowship with other Christians and amazing worship sessions.

Ahhh.

I mean really.

If you can't make the ACFW conference this year, what conference do you hope to hit up soon? Which ones have you done before? And what is your favorite part?

Do you have any questions about how conferences work?