Friday, September 27, 2013

Soak it In

It's the subject of about a billion songs for a reason. As people we are so driven for what's next, for what's coming, for what dreams we can pursue and when we'll (finally!) see them fulfilled.

And that's great. Mostly.

I talked with Becky Wade at the ACFW conference last week, in Starbucks, and the conversation we had really stuck with me and has been kind of resonating in my mind along with my own thoughts. She was saying that she almost misses the days when she'd gotten her first contract but the book wasn't out (which is where I am now), because there was less pressure.

I laughed when she said it. Because I know she's right. Through some miracle, I think God has finally convinced me to appreciate where I am in my writing career.

I was that person who kind of wanted to whack published authors with my nametag, or something equally harmless, when they said at conferences to "enjoy being unpublished!" and "enjoy the time to write for fun!"

Blah. Blah. Blah. Whacks with a nametag for all of them. ;)

It's hard when someone else is where you want to be to hear them say this and resist the urge to resort to at least rolling your eyes. They insisted, at conference after conference (I went to 4 ACFW conferences before I got a contract) that you're never truly done dreaming. As soon as one dream if fulfilled, you want another, so soak in where you are, because every stage has it's unique blessings.

And you know what? They're actually right.

I think I finally started to realize this before I heard back from Love Inspired about my contract. I'd been rejected (haha, AGAIN) by an agent and thought about giving up. But I really, really, really wanted to see my name on a book. It had been one of my first dreams. I couldn't even remember when it started; it was that much a part of me. Then I remembered wisdom I'd gotten from a movie. I think it's "Cool Runnnings." One of the guys tells the others (from experience) that if you're not enough WITH a gold medal, you'll never be enough without it.

The first time I heard that quote I thought it was stupid. Haha. Seriously!

But the longer I thought about it, the more I realized it was true. If we can't be happy, be fulfilled to a degree (even if you have unfulfilled dreams and longings that linger), where we are, we will never reach the place where we're happy.

So. All of that to say, wherever you are, try to enjoy it. If you're topping the bestseller list somewhere, just enjoy that. Don't try to strive for more weeks up there, or dive headfirst into your next project. Enjoy your moment!

If you're getting contracts, but they're not the "big" ones you REALLY dream of. Enjoy it.

If you're waiting to hear back from an agent and you're really, really hoping this will be the thing that finally catapults you headfirst into a writing career, try to find enjoyment in the waiting. You're talking to agents! REAL agents who actually care to even look at your work. How fun is that??? =)

If you're waiting for your chance to go to a conference, for the motivation to finish, for the courage to start, SOAK in this season! It's an exciting time, the beginning of a dream, when the first sparkly bits of hope and excitement start to dance inside of you and you start to wonder if you could really, truly do this. I know you want your dreams fulfilled now, but if there was no struggle, no waiting, your dreams wouldn't be as cool as they are.

So where are you today? Can you find something to appreciate about your season in life or writing, crazy as it may drive you sometimes? Slow down. =) Soak it in. =) That's where I am today. Just trying to slow it down and enjoy it. I've only got one contract for now. For a book that isn't even out. But I don't want to rush by trying to think about my next 89786895 projects and making a detailed career plan to work on every waking moment of the day. I want to enjoy this. I want to be thankful. =)

Thanks for letting me share.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A star is born...

This is a special post featuring one of our Scribble Chick readers, LAURIE TOMLINSON! :)

It was so fun to meet Laurie, loyal Scribble Chick follower and romance writer, at the 2013 ACFW Conference this past week in Indianapolis. 

And guess what? She entered the Contemporary category of the GENESIS CONTEST and....WON! :)

If that doesn't encourage you to enter contests and put your manuscripts out there, guys, I don't know what will! 

Check out these pics I snagged while yelling like crazy for her:)

This one was the projector screen listing the finalists...

Now Laurie accepting her award and giving a thank you speech!

How adorable is she? :)
And her speech was flawless. So smooth. I would have been a mumbling mess. 

Here's Laurie's story blurb from the manuscript that won:

Being jobless and single can seem like the end of the world. But sometimes it’s just the beginning.

Spencer Brooks has always dreamed of how her storybook ending will unfold. Rewarding career. Picket fence. Husband who makes Prince Charming seem like a waste of perfectly good paper and ink.
But when life after college doesn’t turn out as planned, Spencer returns to the small Oklahoma town she promised she’d never call home again to draft a better blueprint for her future. Because so far, her best attempts have landed her back under her parents’ roof with an inbox empty of job leads. And her only relationship is with the mop and broom of the local coffee shop.

As Spencer attempts to stay out of her flawless cousin’s shadow and dodge her newly engaged ex-boyfriend, she must learn to surrender control and discover God’s plan for her life. Even if it looks nothing like her own. 
Can Spencer learn to trust that only God can lead her to the life—and love—she’s always dreamed about?

And here's some facts about Laurie!

Bio: Laurie Tomlinson is a wife and mom from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who enjoys reading and writing stories that uncover God’s grace in the “wait-and-see” seasons. She is a member of My Book Therapy and the American Christian Fiction Writers, and received the 2013 Genesis Award for the Contemporary category.

A self-professed bookworm, Laurie earned a degree in literature but bypassed the traditional teaching route to build a career as a book publicist. For six years, she has enjoyed helping authors identify their niche in the marketplace and draw from their strengths to ensure their messages are conveyed. She now looks forward to sharing the stories of love, grace, and redemption God has placed on her heart.

In addition to writing, Laurie enjoys cooking, singing with her church’s worship band, and going on adventures with her husband, daughter, and yellow Lab. She always has a good novel in her bag, tucked between the diapers. 

Here's me with Laurie! We're so proud of our Chicklet! :)

Monday, September 23, 2013

It is Monday.

And oh my. Is it ever a Monday!!

I'm so tired today and having so much trouble focusing, not to mention the fact that I'm completely blue over missing the ACFW conference.

(And green with envy.)

(I'm teal.)

("The color of gangrene.")

(100 bonus point to whoever can name that movie. I'm pretty sure I've now used up my parentheses quotient for the next six months.)

Anyway. Enough complaining. And wishing I was the one drinking Starbucks with my fave author friends and meeting some of our awesome readers. ;) There is always next year! ;)

Needless to say, not a lot of writing is occurring in my house today. I've been working instead on catching up on emails, writing blogs and doing some of the non-writery stuff of being a writer.

I never in my life thought there would be so much non-writing that goes into being a writer!

What are you up to today?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Conference Catch-up, Congrats, and Craft Notes! (Yay for C's!)

The conference was SO fantastic!! :)  

I hate that we missed so many of you that I know would have wanted to be there. But it was super fun finding loyal ScribbleChick readers LAURIE TOMLINSON and CJOY and getting pics and a bit of time to chat inbetween all the chaos. Try to come next year guys - 2014 will be in St. Louis, Missouri.

Special shout out to Laurie for winning her category in the Genesis! Woohoo!! I had to throw that out there, but here in a few days we're going to do a big feature of her and her award. We're so proud of her! (and guys, this could be YOU next year! Don't give up. Laurie is proof.)

I'm going to share quickly today a few notes from Brandilyn Collin's (suspense author) class I attended on Writing Tight and Sentence Structure. She took first-pages submissions from volunteers before the conference, and well, basically ripped them apart. lol Not a full edit for content or grammar or punctuation or any of those things, but strictly on the basis of going after extra words and rhythm in the writing.

This is something that takes a lot of work to master. But it's so effective and will give your writing a quality that rises high above the others on the editor/agent's desk you are pursuing, so listen up and practice these tips, okay guys?

I wish I could share the examples she gave of her actual edits, but the bottom line to remember, is sentence rhyhtm. We all understand pacing by now, hopefully. Rhythm is the feel of your sentence with the goal being to make the reader FEEL what your character FEELS.

For example, from Brandilyn's class, she used a story from a historical manuscript, where a mom and boy were going on a picnic. The woman is taking in the day as they walk, thinking of all the fun they're going to have, hearing and seeing the details of the woods and beauty around her. Those sentences are longer and flowing and descriptive. Then the mom hears a noise ahead in the woods. After Brandilyn got through with the structure rearrangement, you could FEEL the change the character felt (peace to panic) immediately simply through the sentence structure/order.

The author hadn't changed the structure, and the sentences were still like they were before. A little telling, and rambling (not in a wrong kind of way but not in a way that fit the sudden sense of story mood)

For a change like that, from peace to panic, from serenity to suspense, you have to think short, choppy, fragments like you would in your own head if you were suddenly faced with something scary. You're walking along, la la la, and then hear a noise or a gunshot in a deserted wood, when you're alone with your child, and you're going to stop. Your heart is going to pound and adrenaline will flow and you won't be thinking as clearly and detailed as you were before.

Instead of: (this is me paraphrasing my own version)

Then a noise sounded in the woods in ahead. What was it? They hadn't seen anyone come by, and this was the only trail that led to the picnic area. What could possibly be making that noise? Another noise followed by a groan made Sarah's heart pound in her chest. She moved in front of her son. "Stay back, Toby." Then she felt in her pocket for her gun that she always carried ever since Old Man Peters had that issue with the coyote in his yard.

Try this:

Suddenly, a noise ahead.

Her heart thudded and she grabbed for her son's arm. "Stay back." Where was her gun?

There. Front pocket.

She gripped it in both hands, moving in front of David. The silence roared in her ears, until broken by a gunshot and a groan. She clenched the gun tighter.


Okay, see how the short sentences, the choppiness, the broken up pacing, and the use of strong words like "thudded, grabbed, gripped, clenched" lend a totally different feel than the first example?

(Brandilyn did this sooooo much better but I hope you guys get the gist)

You feel the shift in atmosphere in the second example, don't you? The panic, the "oh no". The first example is too flowing and long and thoughtful. This really goes back to POV (ponit of view) as well because you have to remember to not overexplain to your reader, but rather stay true to what the POV character is actually going through/feeling/experiencing in that scene. You can explain later.  :)

Brandilyn also reminded us as writers to always keep the order of events straight in regards to action/reaction. Never phrase your sentence where the reaction happens in front of the action.

Conference classses are available for purchase at if you'd like, as well. :)

Friday, September 13, 2013


So this is a conference related post, so if you're here, come find me and say hi! (if you haven't already), but if you're NOT here, don't be sad, okay? We're secretly taking notes of everything we're learning and we're going to pass that along to you. ;)

My mind is swirling around today with so many thoughts, something I've come to expect during the few days a conference lasts. There's just so much to absorb, to take in, that sometimes it's almost TOO much.

So I think for today I want to say that I wish I had some insightful bit of writing wisdom to share, but today my brain is pretty much on overload. Here's a short list of the best I have for now.

1. Writing is hard. Even when all your writing dreams come true, it's still hard. Worth it, but hard.

2. Writing isn't as lonely as everyone makes it sound. There are people out there like you and it's fun to get to be with them, whether in person at a conference or online like we do here. =)

3. Writing is a talent that some people have and some people don't.

4. Writing is a skill that can also be learned. (How's that for a nice contradiction to #3?)

5. Writing, in and of itself, IS a calling. God doesn't necessarily call everyone to be a best selling author. But He DOES call us to be obedient and do what we're supposed to (so if writing is it, just doing it is good!)

Anything in particular you want to learn from my experience at this conference? Things I should pay special attention to so I can pass on?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Leaaaavin' on a jet plane...

I'm heading out in the morning to the ACFW Conference in Indianapolis. I hope to see some of you there!! (waving at Cjoy and my roomie Sarah Varland!) I can't wait! The conference is always a highlight of my year for multiple reasons and this year is no exception, also for multiple reasons. Bring on the friendship, the coffee, the networking, the worship, the learning, the fancy dress and new shoes. OH yeah! :)

Don't worry. If you can't come this year, don't beat yourself up, just start saving for next year. Or start tucking dollars away for a difference conference, like Mt. Hermon (Erynn Mangum has been to that one!) There's a bunch of quality conferences to choose from, in different price ranges, I'm just SO partial to the ACFW one because I've been a member for so long and have watched so many amazing God-things happen at that one. It's truly something for your author-bucket-list!

I hope to have lots of good notes on the craft of writing to share with you when I get back. I'll make sure Sarah does the same ;)  Hopefully we'll get something productive done between staying up all night drinking white chocolate mochas.

What goals can you set for yourself to accomplish and share when we get back?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Investing in Your Writing

Sometimes you're stuck. Uninspired. Out. Of. Ideas. Bored. Discouraged. If and when any of those things apply, sometimes you have to shake it up a little. Here are some fun ways to do that!

10 of My Favorite ways to Invest in Your Writing Life for $5 or Less...

1. Go to Starbucks and buy yourself some kind of inspirational coffee drink. Sometimes I get my favorite, sometimes if I'm writing a story where the heroine loves coffee, I'll get her favorite.

2. Wander around Barnes and Noble. Look at the books. Smell the books. Think about yours or don't; either way you'll leave inspired.

3. Buy a new notebook (I like the black and white composition ones!) and some pens (I like the purple papermate pens, but everyone has their own favorite. We writers are picky about our pens, right? ;) ). Sometimes just having a new medium to think on, brainstorm on, helps.

4. Buy a book. Read it. Think about what you loved or what you didn't. This will apply to your writing and help you with it even if you don't intentionally think about it. Personally, I can't analyze "fun" books too much or it becomes work for me. I can analyze the stew out of literature, but I like to let fun books just be for fun, BUT I know I'm absorbing things those writers did well. At least I like to think so. =)

5. Go out for a (cheap) dinner with a friend. Remember, living life is one of the keys to writing about it.

6. Buy some new lip gloss. I don't know why, but it helps with everything. Save this tip for any number of problems in life. ;)

7. Go outside and write. Or go inside and write. Go somewhere you don't usually go and write. (This one is free!)

8. Wander around a clothing store. Pick out clothes your heroine would wear and try them on. Think about why she wears those clothes and you'll learn a lot about who she is.

9. Buy some sticky notes. Seriously, who can stare at a stack of brightly colored sticky notes and not be a little inspired?

10. Save your $5. Save it for a writing conference, for a comfier desk chair, for conference CD recordings, for a book on writing craft that you've been wanting. If you do this enough, you'll have some serious cash to invest in your writing, even if you're not seriously overflowing with cash. $5 at a time doesn't seem like TOO much (at least most weeks).

Any others you'd add?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

When Doubts Overwhelm

Dreams... they go hand-in-hand with doubts. That maybe you weren't made to do this... maybe this isn't your battle... maybe this belongs to someone else; someone more talented, someone more worthy, someone more... salable.

Someone who doesn't look... smell... act... feel like you.

Know something? Doubts come out in full force when you're almost to the finish line. You've got it coming, friend.

But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. {1 Cor. 1:27}

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. {Acts 4:13}

Join Bekah with your own fistful of chocolate chip cookies for her FREE online study of The Bare Naked Truth: Dating, Waiting & God's Purity Plan. (Also, by joining, you register to possibly win a $100 gift card and 12 free books for you and your favorite friends.)

Monday, September 2, 2013

I hate Satan, and I hate ants. The end.

Betsy here.

I know this isn't my day to post. I'm just taking over here because I'm a little nuts at the moment. Was sitting down to schedule a post for Wednesday, and well, I think I'm supposed to post it now instead. Sorry, Erynn and BJ, for cutting in line!

If you are my friend on FB, you've seen my recent struggle these past few weeks with ants.

In my closet.

Then in my daughter's closet. ON HER CLOTHES.

Then in my living room.

And I just sat down to type this blog and they started biting my toes under the computer. I kid you not.

I am still debating if I'm going to laugh, cry, or go ahead and give in and just go insane.

Do you ever feel like it's just too much? TOO MUCH? I'm there. Right now, right here, this moment. At any given time I'm overwhelmed technically, on my wit's end emotionally, overloaded mentally, and bone-aching weary physically. I hate satan, and I hate ants, and right now, they're all one and the same. At least one is clearly being orchestrated by the other.

I almost didn't write this post. Because I just wanted to go to bed and hide under the covers and ignore reality once more. It's not just the ants. The ants are just the straw on my poor camel's back, which is in serious need of a spinal adjustment.

But that would be admitting defeat. And I'm sick of defeat and sick of the enemy winning. So I'm going to write this post and I'm going to make it as in satan's face as I possibly can. I'm standing up and fighting back even if I'm wobbly, even if my armor is chipped, even if I'm bloody and tired and battle weary. And even if my toes now sting from ant bites.

And no, none of this has anything to do with writing or the craft of fiction other than the simple fact that if you are going to write christian fiction and dedicate your writing to God's glory, you better get ready for some ants.

So here we go.

Fighting back with the only thing I have and the only thing that matters.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  (AMEN!)

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (We are more than conquerors!) 

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (Perfect love casts out fear)

And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. 10 The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where[b] the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.  (you reading that one, satan? you getting this?!)

I'm going to make this even better. If any of you out there have no idea what I'm talking about here, and don't have a personal relationship with Jesus, and don't understand spiritual warfare, or don't know where you will go when you die, please message me. 

I am happy to talk to you about how much Jesus loves you, how He died for you on the cross, and how because of His priceless sacrifice, we can accept Him and live eternally with God in heaven. We can have abundant life now on earth. We can have access to the Holy Spirit. We are never alone or forsaken because Jesus chose us. He chose YOU. He loves you, He died for you, and He has a plan for your life and for your future regardless of what you've done in the past. You are valuable to Him. You MATTER. And you can have victory. 

I can have victory. 

See? I still have to preach to the choir now and then. 

I'd love to talk to you more about Jesus if you'd ever like.

Okay, now back to writing.