Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What is your greatest fear?

When it comes to writing, what is your greatest fear?

Identify it. Label it. Call it out. Acknowledge it.

And then take steps to move through it.

I know it's hard, because naming our fear sometimes seems to give it more power. Makes it bigger in our heads.

Not true. That's actually a lie.

Hiding from our fears, cowering from them, denying them, and not acknowledging them only imprisons us in a cell WITH them. We can scoot away for a bit, sure - out of sight, out of mind - but that only works for so long before they come rattling back over, chains a-clankin'.

No, instead of sharing a metal cot, we need to get out of the cell and leave the fears locked behind.

Whatever your writing related fear is today (or personal fear!) - be it fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of change, fear of the unknown - label it. Give it to God, and ask Him to break the chains for you. There is victory ahead, because He is the ultimate key-keeper :)

He can unlock that cell door in a second. You just have to ask in faith, and move forward when the door swings open.

What's your fear today? Let's name them and starve their power! They're really not so big after all. Watch and see.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Friday, January 25, 2013

Perseverance Pays Off

Hey y’all! I’m so excited to be joining the other ladies on this blog! It’s one I’ve read (and re-read) for a while now and I’m glad I get the opportunity to be part of it.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last almost-decade of pursing publication, it’s that perseverance pays off.

At the last conference I went to, I felt kind of torn about how I should feel. On one hand, I was twenty-three at the time. Definitely not old by any standards, but especially not by I’m-trying-to-get-published standards. At the same time, it was my fourth major conference and it seemed that the only people I was meeting who had been to that conference four times were published. I was starting to see a pattern. One I apparently didn’t fit into. I was starting to feel very always-the-bridesmaid-never-the-bride like.

Finally—hope! An agent I met at the conference seemed very interested in one of my manuscripts. So while I’m trying to play it cool, I’m thinking to myself, this could be it! This could be what finally gets me to that point where I can see my dream of being an author come true. After several long months of waiting and several emails back and forth and more long months of waiting (there’s lots of that involved in writing—everyone deals with it) I learned that she wasn’t going to represent me.

I’d been rejected before, and I knew how to take the flattering points of a rejection and hold onto those and work on anything they mentioned I should work on. But this time it was different. She told me that I had talent (yay!) but that my style wasn’t what the market wanted right now.

I was stuck. I wasn’t sure what to do. And I’m kind of ashamed of this now, but I thought, maybe just a little, about trying to quit. I kind of shoved writing out of my mind and just lived life for a couple of months, thinking about my self-directed threats about quitting and knowing that it was impossible.

The problem is that once you’ve really decided you’re a writer, deep down in your core, you can’t quit. At least not for long.

So I started at square one. I brainstormed a new story and wrote a synopsis (with help from on one of Betsy’s posts on this blog, actually!). I submitted a short summary into Love Inspired’s Speed Dating contest in June, and they asked for the whole story. I was excited beyond all reason and then realization dawned. Now I needed to write the book.

I did so over the summer, setting deadlines for myself and doing the best I could to treat writing like a ‘job’ (that I really enjoyed) instead of just a hobby. I sent it in. And finally, finally, finally in October one of the editors from Love Inspired Suspense called and said they wanted to contract my manuscript.

I’m pretty sure I skipped around for weeks. In fact, I might still be skipping.

Writing is a weird hobby. Let’s just be honest. But everyone, or most everyone, who is a published writer, has gone through what any unpublished writer has gone through. They’ve been there with waiting. Some of them, most of them, may have thought about quitting. But the thing published writers have in common is that none of them quit permanently. All of them decided the crazy dream they had was worth pursuing and they stuck to it. Wherever you are in your writing journey, know that perseverance pays off. You may question your sanity and drink insane amounts of coffee in the process of perseverance, but it will all be worth it in the end.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Introducing the newest Scribble Chick - Sarah Varland!

Hi friends! I have exciting news today!

This is our newest contributor, Sarah Varland! Sarah will be posting on Fridays and I'm so excited to hear what she has to share with us!

Sarah just sold her first novel to the Love Inspired line and I know she will have SO MUCH to tell us as she goes through the publishing process.

We are glad to have you, Sarah!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

When to start the next book?

I've had a lot of people ask me my opinion on when to start their next project.

Is it better to finish your first project first? Or if inspiration for the second one strikes, to jump into it for awhile to carry the momentum, then go back to your first? Forget the first book and focus on the 2nd? Or some other combination?

Here's my opinion, and it's just my opinion (other Scribble Chicks, please chime in!)

I think you should finish your book before starting a new one.

There's an exception to this, such as you no longer like your first book and are willing to throw it away completely and never pick it up again. Clearly, at that point, there's no need in finishing it.  :)

But here's a secret. Anyone can start a book.

Not everyone can finish a book.

And that's the difference that editors and agents are looking for. That's what sets you above, automatically, the majority of the USA filled with aspiring authors.


Now, if inspiration for your new idea has you by the throat and you can't even look at your first one (which you still like and want to finish), then give yourself ONE day. One day to separate from your previous story, and jot down notes and ideas and even brief scenes or character descriptions for the new story. Mark it down because it can be crucial not to let the details that are important slip away or be forgotten. That's understandable, and you're totally allowed!

But then go back to your first project, and get it done. Let the excitement of your next story spur you on to finish your first one even faster. Because here's how the cycle works best and allows you to maximize your time and your influence in the industry. (Again, my opinion, but I speak from experience here, guys)

1. Start a book.

2. Finish a book. (with note jotting for a second story allowed in SHORT TIME SLOTS in between 1 and 2. So, 1A.)

3. Submit a book. (and yes, you should edit and revise and get critiques or whatever before this, but you know what I mean!)

4. Start 2nd book while you're waiting on feedback from your 1st. (This is awesome, because it helps the endless weeks go by productively while you're waiting to hear. It also makes potential rejection of the 1st story easier to swallow, because hey, you're already on a new project which they're SURE to like!)

5. Finish 2nd book.

(sometime in between 4-5 or 5-6, you're going to have heard back on your 1st. If its rejections, consider revising what was wrong and resubmitting, or putting the story aside for a later focus or potential backlist for when you DO get published. If you agree with the comments from the professionals that your story and writing wasn't there yet, then shelve the book for now and keep on with your second project. If the 1st book got requests for full submissions or a contract, celebrate and carry on as directed by that professional! And eat ice cream. But not mine. Steal Erynn's.)

6. Submit 2nd book.

7. Start 3rd book.

See the cycle? This system allows you to continue to grow and learn and challenge yourself with each new project. It also builds you a backlist of books and experience to potentially carry over to a publishing house one day. It teaches you how to stay disciplined and FINISH A BOOK. It carves your perseverence and also, flat out increases your chances of getting published because you never stop. This system also is easier emotionally, as I said earlier, because it gives you new focus while your "baby" is being judged and helps ease the rejection sting.

Any thoughts? Questions? :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Great Prompts

These are some of my favorite prompts right here.
Also, fortune cookies.

Where do you find the best prompts?

Monday, January 21, 2013

How to Submit

Before y'all all start getting antsy about a marriage post showing up in the midst of a writing blog, let me reassure you.

This form of submission has nothing to do with lovingly leaving the last scoop of your dearly beloved's favorite ice cream in the freezer.

Actually, this form of submission might have you reaching for the ice cream regardless of if it's your husband's favorite or not.

I present to you: The Do's and Do Not's of Submitting Your Writing.


* Write a killer proposal. We've done several posts and lots of series on proposals, so be sure to check those out.

* Make a "poor man's copyright" before sending your work out. Print out your entire novel and your entire proposal, put them in a manila envelope and then mail them to yourself. When you get the envelope, do NOT open it. The sealed envelope plus the stamp from the post office is your proof that on this date, you "owned" the book.

* Write your name on EVERY PIECE OF PAPER leaving your desk, digital paper or otherwise. I cannot tell you how many editors and agents have mentioned this to me. If you are emailing something, handing it off at a conference or going with the old-fashioned snail mail, write your name on everything. Add it as a header in the right hand corner of every page of your proposal.

* Try to make some contact with the agent or publisher before sending them your proposal. Whether that's through a friend, at a conference or randomly meeting an editor on a family vacation at a dude ranch. (yes. this happened to me.)

* Research. Research, research, research where you are sending your proposal. If it's an agent, scour their website, read some of their clients' books, get a feeling of what kind of writers they represent. I'm planning on writing a post about exactly what to look for in an agent and a publisher before you send your proposal next week, so if you have any questions on this, leave a comment!


* Send a proposal to just ANYONE. As sad as it is, we don't live in an honest world. Do your research and make sure it is a reputable company.

* Be annoying. If you've sent your proposal to an editor or agent, don't pester or bug them for information on the status of your proposal. Wait for them to contact you.

* Just send your proposal to one person. Agents and publishers know that you aren't going to be just shopping your proposal to one person at a time. If they want it, they will act on it. In the meantime, send it out to as many people as you can find (particularly if you are at a writers conference).

* Give up. For whatever reason, God has given you this desire. See where it leads you. You might get published someday. You might not. I don't know what God has in store for you, but you are in this place for a reason. So figure out what it is. :)

Now. Start getting those proposals out! And pass the ice cream, please.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

No guts, no glory

No guts, no glory.

I've always hated that phrase. It's sort of gross, and not exactly girlie, and I'm, well. Girlie.

But it has some truth to it! Most things in life worth doing are scary. For example, change is scary, even though it's not always bad. It even seems like most of the time, that thing we dreaded changing actually worked out for our good. (God's awesome like that)

Writing takes an infinite amount of courage.

We have to be brave enough to be transparent on paper. We have to have the strength and vulnerability to bleed our hearts onto the page, then send that stained page off for review, critique, criticism, and rejection. Then we have to retain our courage, even in the face of acceptance and a contract, when we go through the cutting lines of edits and revisions and galleys. Then, as if we have anything left, we have to muster enough moxie to withstand negative reviews and the sometimes downright scathing words of readers.

Writing takes an infinite amount of courage.

So how do we get it? How do we find this never ending well of courage inside ourselves to survive all those steps required? How do obtain the "guts" needed for the glory of a positive connection with an agent, the glory of a contract, the glory of a pleasurable review, the glory of knowing we did our best and God did the rest?

First of all, we must ask - where does courage come from?

The Lord.

Think about it. He tells us over and over in the Bible "do not fear". This doesn't just apply to hell, or death, or war or other "big" things.  It applies to you, today, as you hunch over your keyboard and wonder if you have what it takes. The Word says "Fear not, for I am with thee." The psalmist said "What time I am afraid I will trust in You." And "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind." And "Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world" - meaning God wins over the devil. Bam. Victory :)

There it is. God says don't be afraid. So why should we?

I know its easier said than done, but meditate on these verses in regards to your writing journey. Write them on stickies on your computer and BELIEVE their TRUTH and POWER.

He equips us. Just ask God today to equip you and remove the fear. Fear is never, ever from God. And if it's not from God, it's useless.

Start writing. Stop fearing. Find your guts and your courage and your moxie in Jesus. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Even in the weakness of a failing story. Even in the weakness of writer's block. Even in the weakness of sagging middles and flat characters.

His grace is sufficient for us! And for your story :)

So keep writing. Start trusting. And fear not, Writer!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

How Long Will it Take to Get Published?

I had the whole day planned. Where we were going, what we were doing, how I was going to survive this whole teething gig.

The simple answer: keep her busy.

Then the Tiny Human took a 3.5 hour nap--completely unprecedented for my micro-napper.

You probably see the analogy: I've watched people set goals which were completely out of their control (land a publishing contract in the next two years--six months--whatever), and I've watched them get disappointed.

Then I talked with someone a few weeks ago who wrote an e-book and had a traditional publishing offer within three months.

It's just unpredictable, folks. It's like trying to plan with a Tiny Human in the house. You have great intentions, but you are just getting lucky if she conks.

A man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps…

Can I encourage you today? If your'e experiencing frustration that your goals aren't being met--you aren't alone. (It took me four years--four years--after getting an amazing, reputable agent to get a publishing contract.)

So instead of focusing on goals over which you have no control, why not set a few that you can control?

Write twenty minutes more a day. Find a way to reach your target audience. Strengthen your characters. Plot your next project. Polish your current one until it shines.

And know that when you're faithful in the "smaller" things, you'll one day be faithful with the bigger dreams...

Bekah Hamrick Martin is the author of The Bare Naked Truth: Dating, Waiting & God's Purity Plan.

Monday, January 14, 2013

So it is not Tuesday.

Friends, I have been home from vacation for three days and I'm completely losing my mind. I have spent the entire day believing that it was Tuesday. I even made the Tuesday dinner I'd planned.

Oh goodness.

All that to say, I will have to start my series on proposals next week. So sorry to be so lame here. I apparently need to be drinking more caffeine.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Rewrites and edits and revisions, OH MY!

For some writers, the rewrites or the revisions of a story is their favorite part. (yes, those people do exist!) hehe. Best selling award Colleen Coble openly confesses to being downright giddy when she gets her revisions back from her editor on a story! For her, it's akin to Christmas morning and a tree full of presents.

Other authors are completely the opposite. They dread revisions and rewrites with a passion and struggle not to take the suggestions from their agent, editor, crit partner, or whoever, personally.

I think I fall somewhere in the middle.

Writing fresh from scratch is very freeing and fun - there's something about that blinking cursor of Chapter 1, new story possibilities! But at the same time can be a lot of pressure. For me, rewrites or revisions are a little painful, because it's critcism in a sense and represents several more hours, days or weeks of hard work. But it's also exciting because I KNOW the story will be better because of this step. That's why editors get paid to work on our novels, after all :)  I don't know HOW many times my editor came back to me with "I like this, but this part really needs work" or some other suggestion that at first, had me reaching for chocolate - then at second glance (or okay, maybe fourth or fifth) I realized the truth - she was TOTALLY right and I loved the story so much better after I put in that extra work.

BTW - this is the step that readers don't get to see. They don't get to see the pile of coal and the darkness of the mine before the diamond is pulled forth, however grudgingly. They just read the glistening diamond from their fav author and expect another one to add to their charm bracelets in six months ;)

So its important to have the right attitude regarding revisions, regardless of whether they are from an editor, agent or critique partner. When it comes from your agent or editor, however, you don't usually have much of a choice in whether or not you make changes. If there is something they suggest that really strikes the wrong chord with you, speak up. But choose your battles sporadically and carefully! You do not want that rep in the industr yof being high maintenance or a diva author.

If the suggestions come from your crit partner, you're clearly not as obligated to take them. However, if the partner is someone whose opinion you value and whose writing you admire (which both factors should be present, iif you're in a crit partner relationship!) then make sure you give their suggestions a fair chance before dismissing them out of pride or "she totally doesn't get my hero!" ;)  More often than not, our crit buds can spot a problem we're too close to.

Another important thing to remember is to give yourself some time between your final draft and the start of any revisions or critiques. (regardless of who they are from) If you have a deadline from your editor, then by all means, PLEASE make it :)  But try to squeeze in some time away from the manuscript before you do the work, so that you will have a clearer head and are a little more distant from the story (as compared to that moment when you type "The End" and the manuscript is, in your eyes, instant NYT Bestseller material!)  :)

However you feel about revisions, remember, every author goes through it at some point and likely does with every book. I don't think I know anyone who wrote a novel, turned it in, got contracted, and then published on the shelf, with nary a revision. It just doesn't happen. So you're in good company :)

Anyone have any questions on the rewrite/editing/revision process? I've had my share of them so I'm happy to help!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Oh, the holidays...

I don't know about you guys, but I am in complete overload.

Sensory, emotionally, physically and calorie-eatingly.

Yes. I do believe that is a word.

I figured there were probably a few of you out there feeling the same way, so instead of a deep post on writing (which I will get to next week - watch out! We are going to tackle the proposal-proposing process!), we are going to take a few deep breaths and maybe laugh a little bit.

So, stop reading right here, go make yourself or buy yourself a latte (preferably caramel), then sit back and relax.

Have a lovely day!! :)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Creative Writing

I found a website that seems pretty handy!

This is what I gleaned from it today:

What is Creative Writing? - Creative writing is anything where the purpose is to express thoughts, feelings and emotions rather than to simply convey information.

I know we talk about fiction writing a lot here on Scribble Chicks because, well, besides B.J., we all write fiction. (though B.J. writes fantastic non fiction and I can't WAIT for her book to release in April!!)

But this definition is really encouraging for those who maybe find more joy or productivity right now in writing short stories or essays or devotionals or poetry or articles or non fiction or fan fiction or whatever else floats your writing boat. Sort of like permission, huh? :)

Goes back to the whole "Just Write" thing we preach here a lot! There's really something to it.
This also felt worth sharing from the website I linked above. Hopefully it will help you :)

Tips and tricks for beginners

•Do some short exercises to stretch your writing muscles – if you’re short of ideas, read the Daily Writing Tips article on “Writing Bursts”. Many new creative writers find that doing the washing up or weeding the garden suddenly looks appealing, compared to the effort of sitting down and putting words onto the page. Force yourself to get through these early doubts, and it really will get easier. Try to get into the habit of writing every day, even if it’s just for ten minutes.

•If you’re stuck for ideas, carry a notebook everywhere and write down your observations. You’ll get some great lines of dialogue by keeping your ears open on the bus or in cafes, and an unusual phrase may be prompted by something you see or smell.

•Work out the time of day when you’re at your most creative. For many writers, this is first thing in the morning – before all the demands of the day jostle for attention. Others write well late at night, after the rest of the family have gone to bed. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

•Don’t agonize over getting it right. All writers have to revise and edit their work – it’s rare that a story, scene or even a sentence comes out perfectly the first time. Once you’ve completed the initial draft, leave the piece for a few days – then come back to it fresh, with a red pen in hand. If you know there are problems with your story but can’t pinpoint them, ask a fellow writer to read through it and give feedback.

•HAVE FUN! Sometimes, we writers can end up feeling that our writing is a chore, something that “must” be done, or something to procrastinate over for as long as possible. If your plot seems wildly far-fetched, your characters bore you to tears and you’re convinced that a five-year old with a crayon could write better prose … take a break. Start a completely new project, something which is purely for fun. Write a poem or a 60-word “mini saga”. Just completing a small finished piece can help if you’re bogged down in a longer story.