Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Living with Estrogen (writing prompt)

Tonight at my fabulous writing group, one of the prompts was Living with Estrogen.


Available May 7!
Because my husband clearly doesn't get enough exposure to estrogen (despite the fact he's the only male in the house), I've been popping pills containing ungodly amounts of the stuff. 

For the second time in my life, I'm trying to convince my body it's capable of carrying a child. 

(Without flooding myself with artificial hormones, my face grows a 5 o'clock shadow as thick as the dog's. Not pretty or great for snuggling babies, should my body ever decide to produce one.)

I thought it was no big deal, this popping pills thing, but... apparently I'd blocked the memories. About six days into this whole rerun of a fiasco, I became--and I don't know how else to put this--

A woman.

There were... emotions.

When the toddler watched Elmo, I cried.

When the dog peed on the floor, I cried. While simultaneously beating him.

When the microwave sounded, I cried, because there was dark chocolate mug cake with  caramel marshmallow filling waiting to soothe my breaking heart.

I'm still not used to it, this whole crying thing. Deep down I refuse to be a slave to the hormones.

I can't completely stop the sudden onslaught of emotion, but I've learned to cover for myself so it doesn't display itself in public. So if you see me fleeing toward the bathroom, it's no longer to check on my five o'clock shadow. 

Oh my gosh, I no longer have a five o'clock shadow!!! 

Excuse me while I step into the other room...

Bekah Hamrick Martin is a proud member of the Scribble Chicks blog & the author of The Bare Naked Truth: Dating, Waiting & God's Purity Plan. 

So what's your story about Living with Estrogen? Comment!

Monday, April 29, 2013

The infamous "P" word.

And no, it's not the same "P" word that I was awakened to last week in my toddler's hand.

(Yes. Yes. And that's all I'm going to say about it on this blog. I try to keep all the happy and crappy details - pun intended - about my life to my personal blog). ;)

No, the word we are looking at today is "PUBLICIZING".

I do hate that word.

I am the worst person in the world at publicizing myself. But along the way, I've picked up a few tricks of the trade that I would love to share:

Create a Blog.
Do it. Write about nothing. Write about your life every day (I do this and it's wonderful because now I have basically a diary that chronicles every major and un-major event in my son's life!). Write about writing. Write about something that pertains to what you write about (are you a doctor? Write a medical blog. Are you a history buff writing historical fiction? Write about random tidbits you uncover.)

Create a Facebook page.
It's life these days, friends. EVERYONE is on Facebook. And the best way to get your writing out there is to be where everyone is (the Cheers theme song is now running through my head). If you are concerned with personal privacy, there is a way to create just a fan page where you can have just your public persona who interacts with your potential readers without needing to include a lot of personal stuff.

Create a Twitter account.
I'll be the first to admit that I can't stand Twitter. It's like 2,856 thoughts at once and I already have some problems focusing. BUT - I just recently discovered that I could link my Facebook fan page with my Twitter account and I love it so much more now (yes, I am severely behind the times when it comes to Twitter and it's inner workings). Plus, there are a few dashboard widgets you can add to your computer and it also makes it easier to stay connected.

Create a website.
You can even do this through Blogger with your blog. It doesn't have to be extravagant, but it is helpful to have one. Even if you've never published a word, the goal is to be published, right? At the very least, go ahead and purchase the ownership of .com. 

Create a business card.
There are a million places to do this. Try to connect with other writers. Meet potential readers. Go to conferences and be generous with your charming personality and your business cards. Be open and friendly. Email people you've met or heard of or people who are in your same situation on the road to being published. Some of my dearest "friends" in the writing world are people I've never actually met in person or people I've only spent a very few hours talking to at a conference.

The bottom line is that publishers LOVE seeing writers who have already taken some initiative with their publicity because, let's face it, a LOT of publicity after you are published is something that is done by you the author. If nothing else, it's fantastic practice for the future!! :)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Stare

So I've learned that I get a funny stare when I head into my imagination and start to dream up a story. I'll just be sitting there, having coffee and talking to my husband and all the sudden the conversation will lull and I'll catch myself staring into the distance (usually at my bookshelf--inspiration?) and realize that in my mind I'm on the Alaskan tundra, plotting all kinds of mayhem.

Sometimes it's inconvenient to have an overactive imagination. When I was a kid and 'what-ifs' and bad dreams kept me up? It was definitely inconvenient. When I'm trying to talk to someone and get distracted by a new plot angle that pops into my head? That's moderately inconvenient too. But I do like how easy it is to get into my story-world MOST of the time (some days it just doesn't work) so I can multi-task.

Having time to write and having time to live life are both super important. If you chain yourself to your computer for 12 hours a day, you'll eventually run out of inspiration because you won't really be living. Besides that, I know we're all busy. We don't have 12 hours to sit and wait for the ideas to come. So how can you build time to write, or plan your story into your day?

Can you work on character development and ask your characters questions about themselves while you fold laundry and remember to write down what you've learned later?

If you're in school, could you work on your plot while you're walking to your next class? While you're putting on your makeup?

We've all got little bits of time throughout the day when we can find a minute to dream, to get lost in our imagination. Find those times if you can and see if it helps you be more productive when you do get a minute to sit down to write!

Just maybe don't brainstorm while you're driving unless you have really good concentration. That could get dangerous in a hurry. ;)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

It's the most wonderful time of the year...




(click on link called conference)

Guys, if there is ANY way you can get your computer-chair-booties to this conference in Indianapolis in September, PLEASE do it.

I'm talking invaluable stuff here. Editor and agent appointments with the best of the best in the Christian book industry, fabulous workshops by authors like Susan May Warren, Rachel Hauck, Ronie Kendig, Jim Rubart, Jenny B. Jones, etc., networking opportunities, STARBUCKS, a beautiful hotel, a dress up gala night, free time with friends, spirit-healing worship, and hilarious fellowship.


The keynote speaker is Robin Jones Gunn. (swoon)

Hope to see you there :)

Monday, April 22, 2013


Well, I owe all of y'all a HUGE apology for missing my posts for the last many weeks. I've been cramming in a deadline and just general busyness, I've been so forgetful of everything else.

So sorry, friends.

But on Friday morning I typed my two favorite words in the world at that moment (THE END) and other than a few cosmetic edits, I'm officially done!


Today is the day, though, that I would like to hear from you. What are some topics you guys would like us to talk about as we come out of spring and into summer?

So excited to be back here with you guys!!!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The End

Last Wednesday, I finished what had been my wip for several months. If you haven't finished yet, keep going! You will! =) If you have, you probably know the weird mix of feelings I experienced. I was relieved and excited, because I'd been working towards that goal and met it. I was also scared, because what if it wasn't as good as I hoped? What if it was, in fact, the worst thing ever written in the history of language?

I'm still stuck somewhere between the two extremes, waiting for my husband to read it and let me know what he thinks (it's SO HANDY to have someone to read all the way through when you're done and let you know if they liked it, and let you know if you accidentally changed your main character's eye color three or four times...). I love that he does this for me, but it makes me soooo nervous. What if he reads it and then tells me he wants that two hours of his life back? (Haha, hopefully not going to happen, but you just never know......)

I think my point is that we're all in different stages of our writing lives. But from my experience so far, every stage comes with insecurities. I don't think any writer, any artist for that matter, ever just wakes up one day and isn't afraid of criticism. It's something we need to learn to deal with, but it makes us better. Honest.

So y'all are all doing fabulous jobs of putting yourselves out there to one degree or another (like with those writing prompts in response to Betsy's post--awesome job!) but is there anything else you can do that you've been letting fear hold you back from? Is there a critique group you've thought of joining, but you're worried about how you'll handle the feedback? Is it that you've been wanting to read someone a paragraph you've written, just to get their thoughts, but you feel self-conscious? Step outside of your comfort zone sometime this week and do something you've been meaning to do to advance with your writing. The insecurity doesn't ever go away, I don't think, you just learn to get past it and not let it keep you stuck. =)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Writing prompt - with a twist ;)

I thought it'd be fun to do a writing prompt today! :)

Here's the catch, though, since you guys are too good now for this to be a real challenge... (wink) You have to give FOUR responses to the same prompt. One as if you were writing a historical, one as if you were writing a romance, one as if you were writing a YA, and one as if you were writing a suspense/thriller.

Your prompt response can be anywhere from 3 - 5 sentences total. No more, no less. Your challenge is to bring out the essence of the genre in each answer while not copying more than the first line each time. The first line HAS TO REMAIN THE FIRST LINE. You can't mix up the order.

Hehehehe. This will be good :)

Here's your prompt!

The wind had a secret.

And since I'm making you do this, I'll do it first to show you what I mean.

1. The wind had a secret. Ella knew from the way it whistled through the oak branches that it'd seen exactly what had transpired night before last. Under an innocent harvest moon, just two hours after Sara's masquerade ball, it'd watched Bradley ask for her hand and then for a lot more. But the question remained - would the wind keep her secret?

2. The wind had a secret. So did Matthew--and if he didn't tell her the truth soon, she might just take her favorite Miranda Lambert lyrics to heart and throw his luggage in the front yard. Ashley squinted out the window, wishing it would just storm already and get it over with. But the rain never arrived, and neither did Matthew's truck.

3. The wind had a secret. And if the sudden gale didn't stop threatening to blow her dress up, it was going to leave Haley without any secrets left of her own. She wrestled with the fluttering skirt of her favorite sundress, debating on whether her dignity was worth tossing her mocha from Starbucks when there was still a third of it left in the cup. She should have worn jeans, but it was school picture day, and she wasn't about to be caught dead with a replay of last year's embarrassment, framed for all eternity in mom's bedroom.

4. The wind had a secret. And it chilled to the bone. Rachel rubbed both arms as she tried to fully merge her body into the side of the barn wall. A horse nickered, and footsteps sounded from the stall to her left--human footsteps, not of the hooved variety. Another breeze through the open door ruffled her hair, and she bit back a whimper as the footsteps edged closer.

There you go!

Remember - 1 response for each of the 4 genres (historical, romance, YA and suspense/thriller). 3-5 lines total including your starting prompt line. No more, no less, no duplicating besides the prompt line.

GO! :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Career + Family: How Do You Make It Happen?

If you've seen my past posts, you know I'm learning how to balance a family with a career. Every day I learn something new; but most of all, I watch others I respect who are learning too.

I have so much admiration for Sarah, Betsy, Erynn, and my friend Tricia. I know none of us do this writing biz/family biz perfectly, but here's what I'm learning...

1) Take time to disconnect. Every evening after 8:00, the computer goes off, even if there's more to do (unless it's a deadline I absolutely must meet).

My husband and my daughter both deserve my attention, and I come back to work more focused the following day.

2) Focus when it's work time. If I'm not doing marketing via social media, I turn off Twitter, Facebook, and anything else that would distract me from writing. I have only an hour most afternoons during nap time to make it happen, and I can't afford to be on social media (that's what my smart phone is for when my baby's hanging out with me... though I try not to get too sucked in).

3) I ask for help when I need it. If I'm on several deadlines, I've learned to explain this to my family. I might call a babysitter for a morning, or my husband might do the dishes a few extra times that week. He is very supportive like that and often gives me time to write while the baby's still up in the evening.

4) I make time for me. I find weird things therapeutic: a long shower, a walk, my hands in the dish soap... I try to stop for a few moments throughout the day and enjoy using all my senses.

5) I take care of my body. Yes, it's easier to pop in a few handfuls of chips, and there's nothing wrong with that. But it's almost just as easy to pull out a bag of salad and slap some dressing on the top. (Or pop a handful of almonds!)

When I don't eat right, my emotions and my body feel the difference.

Share: What do you do to support your dreams AND your family?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Sticking to It

How do you know when an idea is worth writing an entire story about and actually finishing it?

I think in the first few years of my writing, that was the question I asked the most. I had ideas all over the place and it was pretty much a hobby to start stories, make up characters, and then move on to a new set of each.

My sister deserves part of the credit for my writing today (The funny thing is I'm not sure she knows!) because one day in high school she looked at me when I was talking about writing and said "but you never finish anything."

And maybe she meant to be inspirational (cue cheesy inspirational music here!) and maybe she meant to be an obnoxious little sister (haha, um...the more likely option =D...). But when she said it, I knew she was right. I didn't ever finish anything.

I "finished" (in quotes because I went back a few years and many conferences later and did a major rewrite) my first manuscript within a year of that possibly unintentional challenge she had issued. And suddenly what had seemed impossible (seeing a story through from beginning to end) was something I KNEW I could accomplish.

I don't finish everything I start now. Sometimes inspiration will strike and I'll see a scene, or I'll come up with a character, and I'll open a word document and just jot down whatever ideas exist. Maybe I'll use it later. Maybe I won't. BUT since my sister's words, I have finished everything I've intended to finish.

I think we need to have the freedom to put down ideas that we have. But again, there's that balance, where sometimes you just have to sit down in the chair and finish what you've already started, promising yourself that you'll come back to that distracting new idea later.

How do you sort through ideas and decide which stories you're really passionate about telling?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ode to a writer...

There once was a girl who wanted to write
So she opened up a document and began the fight
Battling doubts and insecurities and fears
She ignored the dripping on the keyboard of her tears.

"I'm not good enough, I'm never gonna make it"
"I'm tired of being  real. I'm just gonna fake it"
Around and around went the onslaught of lies
Attempting to bind her voice in ironclad ties.

'Til she shoved away from the table
Drowning in sorrows, "I'll never be able."
Then a Voice whispered truth from a place deep inside.
"You're forgetting the basics. In me you abide."

The Voice gave her pause, and silenced the rest.
Maybe her writing wasn't to come from her best.
Maybe the ability wasn't in her strength at all
But rather in the One who'd never let her fall.

So she sniffed back her tears
Checked her makeup for smears
Grabbed some chocolate and a Coke
Deleted spam and sent a joke.

Then ready once more, hands posed on the keys,
She offered her heart to the One who sees.
No longer afraid, or anxious, or alone,
She trusted The End to His hands--instead of her own.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Sitting Under Trees

I thought of y'all today while I was in the backyard playing with my toddler.

In talking about writing we talk a lot about things like craft and discipline, both of which are super important. Any kind of advice you can gain about those things will help shape you as a writer and make you better. Writing definitely takes work. But sometimes, I think we need to let go of the work aspect, and just write.

Today I was watching my son, who's two, play in the backyard and he ran to his favorite spot, which is underneath a tree. He sits there and just looks up at the tree branches, with a smile on his face. While I watched him today, I thought about how my own favorite spot when I was little was underneath a tree we had in our yard at my parents' house. I don't know if at two Josh is imagining anything under his tree yet, but I know that by the time I was six and sitting under mine, I was creating whole words and diving deep into the world of make believe.

I think as 'grown-ups', we don't spend enough time sitting under trees and dreaming up stories.

So sometime in the next week, maybe this weekend if you can, that's my challenge for you. Don't try to plan ahead and decide how this writing session will help the writing career you have or want to have one day. Don't force words out that aren't there. Don't make yourself do anything.

Just grab a notebook and a pen, or your computer if you think better that way, sit down and dream up a story. Just write because you love it.

And if you can sit outside and find a tree to sit under, even better.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Grandmas, Single Moms or Workaholics?

Have you ever thought about who you're writing to?

Seems like a silly question in some regard, and there could be a bunch of different answers.

And I don't mean "who are you writing for?" Because in some degree, if you're a Christian writer, then you're writing for the Lord.

No, I mean, who are you writing to?

You likely already have some idea, especially if you've made a proposal and have determined your genre and had to list a target audience. For example, if you're writing a contemporary romance, your target audience is probably something like "Women in the age range of 21-55" or something broad. If you're writing YA, it's probably "Teenagers in the age range of 15-18" or "12-15".

That's good to know. Definitely. You need to identify your target audience not just for proposal/marketing sake, but for you as the reader to think of who you are writing to.

But what I'm asking goes a little deeper.

Think about the Bible and it's authors. Paul, for example, wrote a lot of letters in the New Testament. And a lot of those letters were clearly addressed to believers. Followers of Christ. While other instructions or letters or insight was addresses to non-believers or about non-believers.

It makes a big difference when reading the text to know who the letter is written to.

What if you found a love letter from your boyfriend or husband or spouse? Makes a big difference if it wasn't to you or to someone else, right??

Our writing is the same. We have to know our audience, because it makes a difference. So go deeper for a minute. Who do you picture when you imagine someone picking up a book with your name on it from the shelf in Barnes & Noble? Not just a nameless, faceless, vague age bracket. WHO are they?

Is it a single mom at the end of her rapidly fraying rope, who is in desperate need of some hope and spiritual encouragement? Is it a super-successful business woman who needs to kick off the high heels at the end of her busy workday and find some quality, clean entertainment on the page? Is it a teenager who is sullen and bitter about life and is searching for something he/she doesn't even realize? Is it a widowed grandma who fills her suddenly empty days with church work, house work and novels? Is it a college-aged student who is struggling to figure out life and wondering why she's still single and desires to be desired?

Who are you writing to?

I really believe when you can identify this, it will put a new spark of passion into your writing.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What do you think?