Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Celebrating Snoopy style

So this Friday is my 28th birthday (and my husband seriously needs to hush at how close to 30 I am. He won't be 27 until July. The stinker)


I'm taking this week off to CELEBRATE, Snoopy style of course. And by taking off I mean still doing almost everything I have to do anyway, but adding cupcakes to the mix. ;)


And if anyone wants to send me a gift, I really need a 30 minute interview with Miranda Lambert for book research. Kthanks :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Where are you today?

Today is Spring cleaning at our house. I'm fully caffeinated and rearranging the kitchen... I'm also in that phase with my WIP -- cutting, cleaning, making it shine.

What phase is your WIP? What's the most difficult one to push through?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ten Things I Wish I Didn't Know About Writing

***Note to say: I thought I finished this yesterday and published it, but apparently that did not happen. So, I'm postdating this. So sorry for the delay!***

We have all these lists of what we need to know, what we need to learn and what we need to start doing when it comes to writing and building a writing career. But there are definitely a few things I wish I hadn't learned along the way:

10. I wish I hadn't discovered writer's butt. Actually, I wish I hadn't discovered writer's butt by looking in the mirror. Too much time sitting in the same chair does not equal pleasant things for my lower half.

9. I wish I'd realized that working from home was a blessing and a curse. Blessing because I get to stay home with my precious son, a curse because I sit there completely distracted by the laundry, toys, etc and can't sit down to write until they are cleaned up.

8. I wish I'd discovered Welch's Fruit Snacks and iced coffee as a writing snack years ago.

7. Same for sitting out on my back porch on nice days. Sometimes the writing comes a lot easier when the background is changed up a bit.

6. I wish I hadn't put so much stock into what other writers' methods were and thought that their way was the only way. I would've saved myself a lot of frustration and hard drive space.

5. I wish Starbucks delivered on days when I need an iced venti caramel macchiato to get the writing going and I can't go get one because my son is napping.

4. I wish venti caramel macchiatos weren't so expensive compared to a writer's budget.

3. I wish I'd paid more attention to the "How to Market Your Novel" classes I took before I got published. So much of that would have been so helpful along the way.

2. I wish I didn't know how awful rewrites are. They are Awful. Capital A.

1. And finally, I wish I didn't know how exhausting writing can be - even though I'm sitting in the exact same position for the whole time.  There is a lot of brainless TV that gets watched in my house after marathon writing stints.

How about you??

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reposting with a purpose

Guys, I'm sorry if this is cheating, but I really want to share this post with you all over here in this corner of BlogWorld, too. Below I'm copying what I posted on my personal blog yesterday (Tuesday).

I feel it applies to us not only spiritually but also to our writing or regarding any struggle we have - personal, financial, physical.

If you're struggling with understanding God's will ina situation in your life today (and we probably all are!) please read the below.


Has your pastor ever preached a sermon that made you pull your feet up onto the pew? Mine did this past Sunday! He preached on snakes. Yeah.

It was from Numbers 21, where God sent a plague of fiery serpents (yes, fiery, because regular snakes apparently weren't punishment enough!) on the whiny, impatient, moody Israelites. (note to self - the Bible coaxes us to give with a joyful heart, and to do everything without complaining. Well, this story definitely encourages such action ::wink::)

The Israelites were griping about their conditions and their wilderness wandering, and their steady diet of manna manna manna, and God finally heard enough. (His patience does/can eventually run out, folks. He's loving and generous but He is also jealous and justice.)

So here come the serpents or snakes, everywhere. People were being bit and dying off one by one, all day every day. Finally, the people realized they'd had it pretty good before. They came to Moses begging him to pray to God on their behalf. They humbled themselves, realized their sin, and repented. They asked for deliverance. Moses prayed as they requested, and God told Moses to fashion a bronze serpent atop a pole. Anyone who was bit and then looked at that serpent in faith would be healed, and wouldn't die.


Our pastor shared an amazing analogy on how that represented the salvation story. Anyone (ANYONE!) who looks on Jesus in faith will not perish but have everlasting life. Amen!

But during that Sunday morning, while I contemplated pulling my knees up under me (even though I was in a dress) and kept one ear open for snake-like scuffling under the pews, God revealed to me a different analogy. God didn't remove the problem from the Israelites. He provided a cure.


I feel this is important for us to see. God didn't blink or snap His holy fingers and remove the problem. The snakes were still there, folks. He could have, but He didn't. He chose to provide the solution instead.

Because you know what? If the snakes vanished as quickly as they appeared, the Israelites (God love them, but they seem to have a habit of doing this) would have ventured back into their sinful ways pretty soon after. (and don't we all!) Instead, God left the problem but gave them a cure. He provided a way for them to live and work through it.

And He does that with us. He did it through sin and Jesus. He didn't remove sin from the world, He gave us a solution to it. Salvation via faith in Jesus and His sacrifice for us on the cross. And sometimes, even in the daily stuff, He doesn't remove the disease or the problem or the troublesome person or the terrible job from our lives. He provides in a different way.

When my husband was laid off the fire station for a solid year, I begged. I cried out. I asked for deliverance from the serpents, aka, the red numbers in my checkbook. God didn't provide a full time, desirable position right away. He didn't miraculously shove 30 grand in our bank account.

But He provided, and in ways so tangible and so clearly from Him, He got a lot more glory from it all and I got a lot more faith.

Sort of like the Israelites. They still had to dodge snakes. They still had to check the bushes before they pottied and check their tents before they went to bed. The threat wasn't gone. But the solution was readily available. They were kept in a position of humility, because they needed it.

And don't we all?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Eggless Chickens

I have been on vacation this whole last week at my relatives' houses in Dallas. And one of them has a ton of acres with a few chickens which my son then chased almost the whole time we were there.

I feel like I need to send my family an apology note just in case their chickens never lay another egg purely from the stress of being under constant attack from a 20-month-old who has not learned even the basics of the idea of being gentle.

Anyway, we are home and we are exhausted. So, all that to say, don't have high expectations of this post! Ha! :)

I did want to give you all just a little bit of hope though. I think ALL of us are in a waiting game of some sort or another - maybe you are in the midst of finishing your novel, maybe you're waiting to hear back from a publisher you talked to at a conference, maybe you're waiting to  get your edits back from your publisher, maybe you're waiting for something that isn't related to writing at all (like me!).

Or, maybe you feel like one of those now-eggless chickens being chased by a hyper active toddler and there is no end in sight. Maybe life has become so busy and overwhelming and stressful - maybe you are waiting to even figure out what to do with the rest of your life (where should I go to school? Who should I marry? What job should I take?).

Whatever you are waiting for, I hope this verse is as encouraging for you as it was for me!

"Lord, be gracious to us! We wait for You. Be our strength every morning..." - Isaiah 33:2

What are you waiting for? And how can we be praying for you? :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Speaking of Quizzes...

Like Betsy, I simply adore quizzes, too.

So for kicks, I took this one which poses the very appropriate question for a Scribble Chick—or Scribble Chick reader...

What kind of writer should you be?

I got "you should be a romance novelist," which fits. As long as they aren't the ones with the Fabio-esque guys on the cover, mind you....

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Which Peanuts Character Are you?

I saw this quiz earlier and couldn't resist. I love ALL things Peanuts, and Snoopy is sort of my hero. He's a writer too!! I posted a comic at the end of this post :)

Which Peanuts Character Are You? TAKE THE QUIZ HERE!

I got LINUS!

You are an optimistic and open minded person. You believe that everything will work out in the end. You are very kind and forgiving. You're always willing to give someone another chance. You are highly creative and innovative. People sometimes just don't get what you're doing. You are brainier and smarter than people realize. You are always thinking, plotting, or dreaming.

Wow, that's pretty dead on. And I had a "security blanket" as a child, too, that was my little Dalmatian puppy from DisneyWorld. I got Woofy when I was 4, and put him down well...a looooooong time later ;)

Who'd you get??

Here's Snoopy as a writer...

Poor Snoopy. We've all been there, huh??

PS - I'm running a contest at (read Monday's post) Enter to win a copy of ADDISON BlAKELY, CONFESSIONS OF A PK! :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

When You're Discouraged...

It was day three of the writers' conference, and guess how many people I'd talked to?


Well, I'd talked to A LOT people, but -- agents? Editors?

Then someone I'd never met told me something profound: She would kick my butt if I didn't go talk to SOMEONE.

My new friend set up a meeting with an agent.

For me.

Guys -- do you know what was making me schlink around like a pimple-faced teenager, hiding behind the cafeteria tables?

Two days before the conference I'd gotten a letter from an agent that sounded like this: "It's not you. It's me. I don't dig your genre."

And I felt like I was being broken up with. For the last time. This would be the end of my five year rejection streak.

I decided I would "just go to the conference as a learning experience."

Forget the fact it was the largest, most expensive, most diverse conference in the industry.

On the morning of my mandatory agent appointment I told God, "I can't do this again. I can't put myself out there."

Then I flipped open my Bible reading plan. You know what was on the agenda? The disciples whining, "We're tired. We've fished all night."

What did Jesus say? Cast your net one more time.

And I felt God whisper, Just one more time.

I went to my appointment, shaking inside. I'd procrastinated so long I had to share dinner pitches with the other attendees.

I recited what I wanted to say all the way through the buffet line. I must have looked like an idiot as I rehearsed my pitch, my lips moving silently.

I got to the table and my eyes connected with the agent's. She told me later she thought I was 17. She didn't want to listen to what I had to say. But then something magical happened.

She liked my pitch.

When I got back to my room, I looked in the mirror.

There was a big booger hanging out my nose.

I'm not lying.

But there was also a contract. With the agency I'd only dreamed of. The agency I'd picked two years prior. The agency who'd returned my first pitch with a polite form letter, "We're not looking for new clients at this time."

Guys, this is a great story. But my point is, my skin still had to get thicker. Even after getting awesome representation (who by the way stuck with me through tons of rejections -- very rare to have an agency that does that in this industry -- they are golden!) I had to keep developing NEW ideas.

It was four years after that first writers' conference when one of my projects sold.

I don't say all this to discourage you, but rather to ENCOURAGE you. Erynn's right -- you have to have thick skin if you want to succeed.

But I want you to know that skin develops over time. If you are where God wants you -- if writing is what He wants you to do -- don't fear if your skin is thin.

Ask Him to help you trust Him as He tells you to cast the net. Again. And again. And again.

And one of those times you're going to see a return for your tired muscles and throbbing head. But most of all, for your faith.

Because He's the only one who can bring to pass the designs He has for your life.


Hi - thanks for reading my mom's post. I hope you're encouraged, because I'm screaming now and my mom needs to use her energy to encourage ME.

Stop by my blog sometime. My mom thinks it's all about her, but whose picture do you see more often on here?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pigskin. And not the football kind.


We get it. Writing is hard work. Not only is the actual writing hard work, but then you have the proposal-writing, the proposal-proposing and the conference-attending.

And then - worse thing of all - you have to listen to editors tell you what's wrong with your story.

It can start with something as generic as a "No, thank you" letter from an editor or be as terrifying as watching a very famous author tear your work to pieces in front of an entire class (Thick-Skinned Critiques at the Christian Writers Guild conference. Gotta love 'em).

Either way, it's a mixture of humiliating, saddening, dream-dashing and depression-inducing. And I won't even mention the inevitable consummation of Oreos, hot fudge sundaes and other deliciousness created purely for eating while soaking in the miry abyss of Rejection Swamp.

But guys.

We are writers. And writers don't just give up.

If you want to be in this career, if you want to be a writer, you need to have great skills and a great story, yes. But you also need to have the skin of a 47-year-old woman who's addicted to tanning beds. Thick, basically.

(Which brings me to another good point - y'all should probably stay away from tanning beds. Just my two cents. ;)

You need to learn how to not internalize criticism of your story. Yes, I hear you out there. "I've poured my heart and soul into this book! It's like my child! I know these characters so well we have conversations in my brain!"

(Mm. Not going to lie - that last one is a little creepy for me.)

Please repeat the following as many times as it takes for you to truly believe it:

My story is not me.

Maybe it's based on your life. Maybe it's a memoir or a personal novel or whatever. It doesn't really matter. Because critics will critique and editors just "won't get it", publishers won't be "excited" by it and if you take every word you ever hear about your story and paste it on your heart, you are going to become a very depressed, very overweight from all the Oreos, very sad person.

And I do not want that for you.

Listen to what the editors say. Maybe change your story, maybe don't. Every person is going to have a different opinion and maybe they just weren't the right person for your manuscript. Do what seems best to you. But don't take it personally.

And know that we Scribble Chicks are rooting for you a million percent. And beyond that, we've all been there. So hold your head up high, friend. You never know what tomorrow might bring.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A new way to brainstorm...

Hey guys! Totally not trying to take over today's post because Christa already gave y'all a fabulous entry! Just realized that I never actually posted yesterday, yet I advertised on my blog about a craft entry. I wanted to put that up real quick.

(but be sure to read Christa's post below mine first!)

Last weekend I attended and taught at a local RWA conference. (Romance Writers of America) and it never ceases to amaze me how much we can ALL learn, at any stage of the game. I learned new things, new authors learned new things, and even authors that have 45 books with Harlequin learned new things. You never stop growing and learning and that, to me, is so encouraging. It takes a lot of pressure off to know that you'll NEVER "arrive". That's impossible. Just like as Christians, its a journey. We're never going to be perfect on this earth. We should still try to do our best, just like in our writing - but we're never going to reach this platform of perfection. Only Jesus did that.

Anyway :)

That said, one of the workshops I loved the most was a workshop on setting as character. It was taught by Cathie Shaffer, and we literally as a class sat down and created an entire novel, by starting with the setting. We said "Does our book take place in a small town, rural, big city, suburbs, etc." Someone said small town so she wrote that down on a giant flip pad. Then she said "Is there a plant or industry in this town or does everyone commute to work?" We decided there was a mill. A lumber mill. It went on and on until we got the hero, the heroine, everyone's motivations and conflicts and romantic interests - ALL related intensely to the setting. The setting was the backbone of the entire plot! Not only was that FUN, it was really neat because it took the pressure off the characters to carry the story by internal conflicts or external conflicts alone. The setting truly became a character! Amazing, fun, and really good for getting the creative juices flowing!!

So next time you get stuck, maybe try brainstorming "backward" like that :)

Karen Witemeyer's class on surviving as an author was also extremely helpful, as was Amy Liz Talley's on the concept of author voice, and Janice Hanna Thompson's class on humor. All good times! :)

Nobody Said It Was Easy

While I was working on my latest writing deadline, namely a review of Lyle Lovett's latest album, a song popped up on my iPod that pretty much summed up the whole novel-writing experience.

It was Coldplay's "The Scientist," and the lyric, served up in frontman Chris Martin's trademark falsetto, was "nobody said it was easy."

As any of the Scribble Chicks can probably attest, writing a novel isn't easy in the least. While the words and characters and scenes may come easily one day, there are others where forming a basic sentence feels a little like trying to get a big ol' wad of gum out of your hair.

But like so many of the best things in life, I always have to remind myself that the greatest challenges are often the most rewarding. So if you love to write and have a story in you, you've got to fight for it— every day if possible, just one word at a time.

Trust me, you won't regret it...

So happy writing to all of you this week,
:) Christa

Monday, March 5, 2012

Of Lemons and Lemonade

I doubt that there is a person in this great country who hasn't been told at one time or another, "If life gives you lemons, just make lemonade!"

This has usually be said to me by sweet, old ladies who then smile a placating smile at me, pat my head like a cocker spaniel and then walk away. Leaving me with two thoughts:

1. Lemons do not equal lemonade. Lemons equal lemon juice. Something that I consistently hear from my dentist and WebMD will cause my tooth enamel to melt away like my makeup in 97% humidity. (Note to my dear relatives who live in the Midwestern states - Come to the desert where breathing doesn't also involve drinking a glass of water.)

2. Why don't we say "If life gives you coffee beans make a multi-million dollar empire with a green, mermaid-looking lady as your logo?"


I did not set out to write a post that bemoans common cliches.

(If I was going to write that post though, I'd start with this one: "Sleeping like a baby". I'm sorry, but if you've ever had a baby, been around a baby or seen a baby you know that Baby does not equal Sleep. Just saying.)

I started out writing this post to tell you a little story.

It was my second writer's conference and the first time I had ever signed up for three meetings with different editors from big publishing houses. And I was terrified.


I don't think I slept the entire night before my meetings. I shook as I walked down the hallway to meet with them. I was eighteen and could only imagine two possible scenarios:

1. The editor would read my work, sneer "well, this is certainly pitiful," and have me escorted out of the room, out of the hotel and possibly out of the city.

2. Read my proposal, begin dancing and singing a wonderful song about how this was the proposal they had been dreaming of forever and always.

And then we would have cake.

Ever so slowly, I opened the door to the first publisher I was going to meet with ever. He was sitting behind a desk and if memory serves me correctly, he was nine feet tall.

"Get inside," he barked and I scurried into the chair in front of the desk.

"What do you have?" he boomed, nodding at my proposal since I hadn't uttered a word.

"It's..." I panted. "A mystery about--"

"Fiction?!" he shouted.

"Um, yes sir, I--"

"I hate fiction."

"Um. Oh."

And then I just sat there. Trying not to cry because the only thing I could have used for tissues would have been one of the proposals I'd painstakingly printed, copied, hole-punched and carefully put into bright pink folders so the editors could easily find mine in their stack of proposals to publish.

(Side note: Do not put your proposal in bright pink folders to give to the editors)

"Well. You still have me for the next thirteen minutes," he said, looking at his watch.

"Oh." What I didn't say was, "Yay!"

Then he looked at me. "Do you like chocolate?"

I just blinked at him. Then I gasped because a Hershey Kiss whacked into my head right as a Snickers bar hit me in the arm.

"Or maybe you prefer Milky Ways?" he said. I managed to catch that one.

And then I relaxed. And the man somehow shrank back down to a still-tall six and a half feet. And we talked. I heard about his wife and grown kids and I told him about my job working with teens at my church. He told me why he hated fiction and I told him why I loved writing it.

And he became one of the nicest friends I ever had on the road to publication. I wrote him when I had a question and he answered it. He showed me the behind-the-scenes at different conferences and told goofy jokes.

My point to this story is that you never know who or what you'll find. Someone that might on first glance be just a blip on the screen might end up becoming a friend who pushes you in the exact direction you needed to go. Something that may not have appealed to you a year ago to write might end up becoming what you get published writing.

Keep your eyes open. Coffee beans and lemons are littering the streets everywhere just waiting to be picked up and turned into fabulous things. ;)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Writing: There's an Ap for That...

Like practically everyone else on the planet, I'm a big fan of my iPhone. It does so many gloriously wonderful things in just a matter of seconds.

What your iPhone will not do, however, is write your novel for you.

But in my various Internet searches, I have found some pretty cool aps for writers nonetheless. So if you find yourself with your phone permanently glued to your side like I do, you might want to check out these links. I particularly like Evernote and Dropbox.

Ok, Smartphone geeks, anything I'm missing on the writing aps front?