Tuesday, October 28, 2014

That Thing About Compassion, Dear Writer

We're emotional creatures, we writers. We don't have to have mood swings or drama or crazy (though I probably have all three) to be creative...

But we do have to feel in order to help others feel. And most of us came into the world feeling deeply.

We hurt for the girl with the tracks on her arms at Old Navy. We are physically affected by others' pain. Some of us become emotionally paralyzed when our own grief hits, reflecting rather than doing.

{I would argue that taking a little longer to reflect is actually healthier than what American culture tells us... which is, move on without processing.}

I was twenty-one years old when I finally heard the words, "There is nothing wrong with you. Deep feeling means deep caring."

I'd lived my whole life believing I was too sensitive. That somehow, some way, I would grow thicker skin and become "normal" as I aged. That eventually my compassion level would switch to average.

A gift.

Dear writer friend, your ability to show compassion is a gift. Your pain, your agony, even, is your gift to the world--one that says, I see your pain. I feel your suffering. You are not alone.

Sound familiar?

God with us... Emmanuel.

His Spirit inside of you.

Keep being you. Keep feeling. Keep loving. And keep knowing when it is time to hand it off to Him... the one who comforts us so that we can comfort others with that same comfort.

I love you, and so does the one who never ceases to be with us...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Word crimes

This is such a fun video for us writerly-types that I just had to share it. :)

Now - 'fess up. What's your BIGGEST pet peeve when it comes to word crimes?? Mine has to be the there/their/they're. Their. I said it. ;) ;)

Have a wonderful Monday!!

Friday, October 24, 2014

First Things First

It's started to distress me how very, very fast I write and how very, very few words I get written some days. For awhile I tried not to think about it, then in classic over-analytical fashion I decided to really ponder it. And I think I've finally figured it out, thereby solving every writing word count problem you or I have ever had.


You have to be focused to write your best.

I'm going to give you a minute to soak that in, hold your coffee cup a little tighter, and try to process. Haha.

I know, it sounds obvious. Of course we have to focus to do our best work! But sometimes I think that means forcing myself to sit down at the desk and...stare. And sometimes it does. Inspiration can be forced. But sometimes we're fighting against ourselves.

I know I can't focus on my writing when there's a pile of laundry in my field of vision. I know I can't focus on it when it's 5pm and I have no idea what I'm feeding my family for dinner.

Do the things you need to do first and your writing will actually benefit from it.

So what I've learned this week? Making writing schedules and goals is great. We really are capable of juggling everything God is calling us to do, with His help. But we are responsible for taking care of some details about our lives that have to be handled before we can fully immerse our brains in our stories and say what we need to say.

If you're having trouble with making progress today, get up. You heard me. I'm bucking the "sit down until it comes" trend just this once to tell you to unload your dishwasher. Finish that school assignment. Put away the laundry that's been on your sofa for over a week (oh wait, no one does that? hm...). THEN come back to your computer.

And then, if you're like me, I'm betting the words will flow.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Plot, Schmot.

Every writer has their strengths and weaknesses. Some of us are fantastic at dialogue or description, another is a great plotter, still another might be the royalty of research.

My strength is totally in dialogue and totally NOT in plotting.

And as a result, I sometimes have to go back and cut lots and lots of words after I talk myself into a corner storyline-wise. Those cuts hurt.

So, here are some quick, easy and practical ways to work on your plots - even if you are a plot-as-you-go type like I am. These work best if you brew a pot of coffee or a sweet tea first. Just speaking from experience here.

* Start with a very loose outline of what you want to accomplish. It can even be as loose as something like Girl loses job, Girl gets new one; or, Girl is lonely, Girl meets guy.

* Keep a record of what has happened in the story - at least the major points. That way, you aren't repeating yourself later.

* Figure out the ending early and keep it in mind as you write. You don't need all the details, just a loose ending or a loose understanding of where you want the character development to be by the end of the book.

* Every main character should learn something or grow in some way by the end of their story. How is your character going to change? Keep this in mind as you write.

* Have fun and don't be scared to be spontaneous. If your character is taking the story in a direction that you didn't see coming, don't be afraid to explore the possibility of that direction.

How do you plot your stories?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Writing AND...

Anyone else struggle with where you writing fits in your life?

I'm a stay-at-home-mom, a "job" I never knew I would love so much. Seriously. It cracks me up some days how much I enjoy everything about it. But what this means is that people assume I don't work, and when I do tell them about my writing, or when people who know about it bring it up, what I usually hear is "I don't know how you do it" or "where do you find time?" or "I could never do that!"

I know everyone means for these things to be encouraging. (Haha, so if you've said those things to me, don't get angry! I know what you mean. =) ) But weirdly enough, sometimes they get to me. Sometimes my insecure brain twists things around and instead I hear...

You can't possibly be doing both well.

Good moms don't have time for that.

A good mom would give up writing and take care of her kids.

Life is about balance. And as I recently read somewhere...I think Tricia Goyer's book about being a work-at-home-mom, that kind of balance doesn't mean everything is balanced perfectly. It means our top priorities stay the same:

1. God
2. Family

And the rest of them shift. Friendships will shift around at different seasons. Sometimes the laundry is less critical than others. Sometimes we can justify another trip through the Chick-fil-A drive through and sometimes you just need to cook...

But it's a constant process. Whether you're a mom, or a wife (or both) or a student, or devoted to your day job, it's hard sometimes to think about doing that and being a writer. Do you know what that means? I means it's hard. Haha. That's all it means! It doesn't mean you're wrong to pursue both. Do you know what that doesn't mean, friends?

It means that unless God whispers to your heart that you need to lay your writing down for a season (and I know He sometimes does), then you do not.

Sometimes what God has called us to do doesn't make sense to other people.

Sometimes it doesn't make sense to our calendars. Haha. But I really am learning that if we rely on God's guidance to show us what is important when, then we can write and do real life well too.

Is God telling you to write and something else is telling you that doesn't make sense right now? Listen to Him. And share with us so the rest of us (like me!) who sometimes feel that way know we aren't alone.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Types of typers

Sorry for the cheesy title. It's late. ;)

Tonight, I want to talk for a few minutes about the two different routes you can take as an author - traditional publishing or self-publishing (or independent publishing, e-publishing, print-on-demand - I'll talk more about each of these in a minute).

Traditional publishing is what we typically think of when we think of an author and their publisher. I tends to follow the same steps every time:

* Author writes a proposal.
* Author gives proposal to agent.
* Agent sends proposal to publisher.
* Publishing board meets and decides they like the proposal .
* Publisher signs a contract stating they will publish the book and pay the author a certain amount called an "advance" (typically it comes in two installments - one when the author signs the contract, one when they deliver a complete manuscript or when the manuscript is deemed acceptable by the editor).
* Author submits work.
* Book goes through several edits - an overall edit, a line edit and a copyedit - this takes several months.
* A cover artist hired by the publisher creates a cover for the book.
* After a few more months, the book is printed.
* Publisher hires a publicity manager to get the book into influential people's hands or to arrange book or blog tours.
* As the book sells, you make 'royalties", or a percentage of each book's sales and those are paid back to you after you earn back the advance. Once you have earned enough to cover the advance, you then get royalty checks every few months (typically four times a year).

 If you are looking to be published by a traditional publisher, the absolute, hands down BEST way to get your work into the publisher's hands is to go to a writing conference. I know we say this all the time, but it's true. ;)

Self-publishing is very different. The entire process is a little different but unlike traditional publishing where there is a general framework that most everyone adheres to, self-publishing has a few different forms that are each pretty unique.

Independent publishing is what most people think of when they hear self-publisher. Basically, the steps go like this:

* Author writes the book.
* Author either pays to have the book edited or edits it themselves.
* Author provides cover work or pays for the cover work.
* Author then pays the publisher a lump sum to produce the book (some publishers will provide editing and cover art services as a part of their fee). As a part of the fee, you get an ISBN number and a set amount of copies. Some even provide it on online sellers like Amazon, etc.
* Author can then buy copies of their book at wholesale prices and sell them at retail prices to make money off the book. They also make money off online sales.
* Author is in charge of all of their own publicity.

Print-on-demand publishing follows the same guidelines as the independent publishing, except there may not be a mass production of books - with these publishers you pay as you go - meaning that they will print say a hundred copies and then when you need more, you order more and they print more.

E-publishing is the newest form to hit the market. In e-publishing, there is no hard copy of the book - it is strictly an e-book (Kindle, Nook, etc.). Here are the steps for this:

* Author writes the book.
* Author edits the book or pays someone to edit the book.
* Author creates a cover image or pays someone to create the cover image.
* Author uploads the manuscript onto Kindle publishing or Nook publishing or another online e-book distributor.
* Distributor sells the book and author and distributor earn money from royalty sales.
* Author does all their own publicity.

The biggest difference in independent and print-on-demand books and e-books? Independent and print-on-demand the author pays to have their book published. In e-book publishing, the distributor takes a percentage of the royalties (usually around 30-50%), but the actual publication is free.

So there you have it. A very, very, very quick and basic intro to a few of the different forms publication can take. What are your thoughts on all of this? Is there a form that you respect/prefer more than others? Why do you think you feel that way?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

What You Do or Who You Are?

As I write this, my baby’s tucked quietly in bed; the house is a wreck; I’ve been traveling all weekend.
If you were to ask me who I am, I’d say I’m a mother. A journalist. A wife. A terrible housekeeper. An adventurer.
The reality is, these are my roles; they are not who I am.
Roles can be stripped away in a heartbeat. I learned this years ago when a period of chronic illness took away my ability to do much. I found myself lying in bed, wondering... who was I? What had I become?
I was human.
Sometimes I think roles get in the way of how we evaluate each other (a habit I wish we didn’t have at all). We want to hang out with someone if they’re popular, if they’re gifted, if they’re entertaining or if they make us feel good.
But underneath, when we evaluate, we lose the ability to tell... that everyone is valuable. That you and you and you were born into this world the same way as everyone else. That God planned your life before the beginning of time, and nothing you say, do, or do not do will change the value of who you are.
God loved you before there was time.
And today, as I recover from a crazy weekend and a debilitating migraine... as house filth and deadlines and speaking engagements loom...
I rest.
Because I am who I am. Human. Valuable. And loved beyond my wildest dreams...

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sometimes You Have to get your Desk Messy

For at least a week now, I've been trying to make progress on a story that just wasn't...going. Oh sure, I was getting word count. But I didn't feel the satisfaction that would usually bring because while I love this story and I think it has potential, the words I was typing were going...nowhere.

Or at least, if they were going somewhere, I wasn't sure where that was.

To a non-writer, that probably doesn't make sense. But y'all know what I'm talking about. Every scene should do something, so say "they", and I think they're right. I'm not one of those super organized people who can tell you while I'm writing what exactly each of my scenes does, but there's a general feeling I can get when they are driving the story along like I mean for them too. The writing I did this past week? It might be driving the story forward...but I just wasn't sure.

So yesterday I decided to forget about word count. I decided to remind myself that I love writing for more than the desire to see the happy little progress tracker in Scrivener move closer towards "the end." I love creating characters that seem real, getting so lost in a story that writing seems natural--more like writing a movie in my head--and I had forgotten that in my quest for measurable progress.

So I got my desk messy. I printed a rough synopsis, brought out my blue highlighter, scrap paper, a pencil, caffeine (coke yesterday, coffee today), and I'm having fun. Is the deadline (aka, the ACFW Conference) sneaking up on me a little and making something in the back of my head whisper that I need to quit "working" on the story on actually write it? Yes. Am I ignoring that for now? Yes.

Sometimes you have to get your desk messy. Sometimes that's all that can make all the parts of your story line up neatly and get organized.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Finding Your Wild Side

Courtesy Wikipedia.com

So I bought a mustang and got my nose pierced all in one week. As I stated on social media--I’m pretty sure this constitutes a quarter-life crisis.

I guess you could say life drove me to it. I’ve wanted to get my nose pierced for years--but some crappy situations finally me realize that there will be no “perfect” time.

So I dragged my two-year-old into a tattoo parlor (God bless my pastors’ kid heart) and consoled myself with the fact that I’d read reviews online with the word “sterile” and “clean”... even though the place looked more like “staph” and “ebola”.

The car? I’m infertile. I figure if I bought a sports car... I’ll get pregnant with triplets next week.

So here’s to you, my friend. What have you always wanted to do? Write a novel? Pitch to a publisher? Why are you still doing the “sensible” thing?

Go find your wild side.


Bekah Martin is a small girl living in a small town in North Carolina... who enjoys watching God do big things.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Got time?


THIS WAS SO HELPFUL! :)  Great tips. I hope they help you too!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

You're Not too Broken

Photo by Microsoft

Anyone else would have felt like half a man, but this guy--the one with no legs--was the one who knew beyond a doubt that he’d been called.

Called to a tribe--remote--godless--dying. Called to bring relief, aid, and a fresh word from a God who loved them enough to send the broken.

They said he couldn’t do it. Time and time again this man came before churches, missions boards, relief organizations. “NO. You would never survive. REJECTED.”

He listened at first. But when you feel like you’re called--you’re called. Eventually the amputee and his wife gathered enough resources to go... alone.

It took days for him to literally drag himself through the jungle.

“Hostile. Dangerous. Cannibalistic.”

The mission board hadn’t sent anyone there, much less a man who couldn’t defend himself.

Unlike Jonah, one of the greatest heroes of the Word, this man didn’t shrink back--even knowing the greeting he could receive.

When he dragged in, dehydrated, starving, exhausted... God showed up too. The people fell to their knees and wept.

“You’ve come. He’s come. The wounded one we knew would come has come!”

The tribesmen explained that years before in a vision they’d seen someone--without legs--who would bring them a message. They’d never known anyone to survive such a wound. What the man had to say was surely important.

God used the one thing that had caused every rejection in this man’s life as the hinge to open the door to save thousands.*

The missionary was truly a “wounded healer”.

I don’t know where you are in your life today. Perhaps you’re a wounded healer. And if everyone’s telling you no--you can’t be used; you’re too damaged, too broken, ________... just let those words sink in. They’re right. But they’re oh so wrong.

Because if you’re truly called, nothing on this earth will shake the deep-down in your core knowledge that God uses the despised, the weak, the undesired to shake His world up and turn it on its head. (1 Corinthians 1:27)

So when the time is right, and you’ve gathered all the strength and resources you can find--you will pick yourself up and drag yourself up through that jungle. And when you get to the other side, your pain will be the hinge that will open the door... to change the world.

*This story is a recounting from a missionary friend. I am currently researching it to uncover the details. Corrections welcome.

Bekah Martin is a small girl living in a small town in North Carolina... who enjoys watching God do big things.

Writing advice for Snoopy (and us)

Best-selling authors give writing tips to Snoopy

Published: Friday, November 01, 2002

"Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life," edited by Barnaby Conrad and Monte Schulz, Writer's Digest Books, $19.99
Charles M. Schulz may be gone, but Snoopy is alive and well, and still striving to write the great American novel. But this time, the beloved beagle of the late cartoonist's "Peanuts" comic strip has help. A lot of help.
Barnaby Conrad, a novelist and co-founder of an annual conference of aspiring writers where Schulz used to speak regularly, has asked scores of accomplished authors to give Snoopy some helpful tips from their own experiences. Among the book's 30 responses are tips from such popular authors as Sidney Sheldon, Sue Grafton, Elmore Leonard, Fannie Flagg, Danielle Steel, Elizabeth George and Clive Cussler.
The result is a delightful book, "Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life," with a foreword by Monte Schulz, the cartoonist's son who reminisces about how his father loved literature and had great respect for writers.
The book consists of "Peanuts" panels showing Snoopy in various aspects of the writing life, and the successful writers' reaction to them in essays.
When Snoopy observes, "Good Writing is hard work," Danielle Steel, who seems to turn out enormously popular fiction with such ease, heartily concurs: "I'm glad that Snoopy so early in his career has learned that very important truth — good writing (and even bad writing) — is hard work. Very hard work. This business is fraught with uncertainty. Anyone who tells you how to write best sellers is a sham and a liar."
She confesses that she often types so long, she sees double.
To the beagle struggling to come up with a good title for his new novel, Ed McBain, the crime writer known for his 87th Precinct series, says encouragingly: "You're on the right track, Snoops. I never start a novel until I'm satisfied with the title. Generally, I'll know what the theme's going to be, and I'll know what kind of characters I'll need to keep the plot engine going, but I won't start a book until I have the title firmly in mind."
He then reveals how he goes about constructing a novel.
Seeing Snoopy having trouble with the first sentence, action-adventure novelist Clive Cussler suggests: "Snoopy, try this when you sit down to the typewriter: Just say to yourself, 'What if?' It all begins with 'What if?' What if they let pigs out in a mosque? What if they decide to change the name of Mexico to Shwartz? What if they start referring to whites as European Americans? Then comes, Why would they do that? I have to figure out why. So if I have my beginning I can begin the story."
One author who declined to offer help is John Updike, the author of "Rabbit, Run" and the other Rabbit novels. He is quoted by editor Conrad in the book's introduction as saying: "As Snoopy would tell you, a writer hates to return a check, but I have never been good at giving advice to other writers. If I knew something that would make a crucial difference, I would keep it to myself, since the field is so overcrowded."
Perhaps Updike perceives Snoopy as formidable competition. According to Schulz's 1971 volume, "Snoopy and 'It Was a Dark and Stormy Night,"' the canine author already published his first novel to great acclaim, drawing 2 million people at one of his book signing parties.
The novel, a two-page magnum opus called, what else, "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night," is included in the 1971 volume in its entirety.
Dedicated to Woodstock, it has a colorful jacket designed by Lucy.
But Snoopy isn't one to sit on his laurels. The self-proclaimed "world famous author" keeps pounding on his manual typewriter atop his dog house, aspiring to become a Tolstoy, even a Shakespeare. And who knows? With all these veteran authors falling over each other trying to help him, he may even make it.
And so may some of his human counterparts.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I dare you to open this post.

(sorry for the drama in the subject title. Wasn't sure what else to title it. LOL)

Anyway, I found this link of quotes of writing advice from fiction authors. Pretty good stuff...check it out! :)


Here are some of my favs...

"Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." – Anton Chekhov

"Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet." — Zadie Smith

"Fiction that isn't an author's personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn't worth writing for anything but money." — Jonathan Franzen  

What were your favs?

Were there any tips you actually didn't agree with on this list?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Lessons from Maleficent


The above post is one I put on my personal blog the other day, but it's partially writing related in regards to characterization and the analysis of characters. You might check it out :)  Would love your feedback. Hope it encourages you, as well.

Friday, July 11, 2014

I'm Still Here!

Hey y'all---I'm on vacation in Alaska, so I'm not going to be saying much for the next couple of weeks (that's where I was last week too). But I wanted to let you know that I'm thinking of you and I hope writing is going well for everyone.

Random questions of the day, just for fun.

1. What's your favorite place to write?

2. What's the weirdest place you've ever written? (ex. bathroom floor? a moving vehicle?)

3. What's the strangest thing you ever took notes on? (ex. candy bar wrapper anyone?)

4. Do you have any weird pen preferences? (color, brand, etc)

5. Do you only use your computer, only use paper, or both for different reasons?

I'll try to remember to come back and answer for myself in the comments in a day or two, but I don't want to steal anyone else's creativity by answering first. ;)

Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

When Dreams are Delayed... or Dead.

It's been really hard lately.

Dreams that have nothing to do with writing have seemed so far away.

I've been praying for something very specific and dear to me for almost three years now... something that has been so, so elusive...

So lately I've been soaking up this book {again} by Holley Gerth.

And I'm reminded... sometimes dreams don't look like I imagined them. But the Dream Giver is still good. He is still working it all together for good.

So... how can we pray for you today?

Monday, June 30, 2014

What's YOUR story??

Sometimes as writers I think we get so caught up in writing other people's stories that we forget to draw from our own experiences as well. And I totally and completely believe that God has given us our individual stories to use for His glory - often as writers, that means using what He's done in our lives to minister to others.

Anyone up for a little writing exercise?? :)

Grab your computer, stretch out your fingers and spend a few minutes remembering what has happened to you!

1. Describe your favorite memory with one of your family members. Be sure to mention sights, sounds, tastes, etc. How did it make you feel??

2. Describe the funniest thing that has ever happened to you. Why was it funny? Who was there to witness it? How did it make you feel??

3. Describe the saddest thing that has ever happened to you. Who was there with you? What sights, sounds, colors, words do you remember from that moment? How did it make you feel??

When we learn to describe our own feelings in a way that shows and doesn't tell, we get better at describing our character's feelings in a way that shows and doesn't tell. Do you keep a journal or a blog? If not, I highly challenge you to do so!! The best writers are the ones who feel.

I'd love if you'd share one of your writing exercises in the comments!! Let's encourage each other in this! :)

Have a happy Monday!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Long time coming!!

Hello friends!!

I am so very sorry it has taken me so long to get back into the groove of things over here! Here's what has been happening in the past three months for me:

* We were so excited and blessed to welcome our second son, Parker, into our lives!! He turned three months old on the 16th (WHERE does the time go???!!) and we could not be more in love.

* Both of my brothers got married! Wedding season was such a crazy, wonderful time - and made even crazier with trying to corral a very active ring bearer and a newborn. ;)

* I released my newest e-novella...which was also on my to-do list from before Parker's birth. ;)

Now that we are sleeping through the night again and operating on a little more rest, I'm finally feeling a little less foggy.  I'm so looking forward to getting back into the swing of things on this blog! What have you all been up to?? I have missed you!!

-Erynn :)

Friday, June 20, 2014


Anyone a big multi-tasker?

I multi-task a lot. Sometimes to the point of seeming kind of ADD...Clean a little of this, clean a little of that, write a blog post, think about dinner, finish putting laundry away...

It's a little crazy as far as any kind of cleaning "schedule" goes. But I've discovered after however-many-years of adulthood that order only works for me if it's a little unordered.

Totally clear as mud, right?

It occurred to me just now (as I'm in the middle of one of those ADD cleaning phases--and am now standing at my half-clean kitchen island to write this) that I do this with stories too. I rarely ever have one story going that has 1000% of my focus. If I'm under contract, then it has ALMOST that much of my focus, because that's what fair to my publisher. But if I'm not contracted on a story at the moment, I have to have several projects going at once.

Here's a little peak into my brain right now.

1. Another Love Inspired Suspense story. I'm writing this one currently.

2. A full length Romantic Suspense set in the Alaskan wilderness. I'm writing this one currently.

3. More LIS stories--at least two in the I-have-a-synopsis-done stage.

4. Another full length RS--this one is a list of story "clues" right now. Nothing solid.

5. Several series ideas (or at least story ideas/setting ideas) for the future.

This is how my brain works--while it looks crazy to some, I'm sure (but seriously? I'm a writer. Crazy is normal, yes?), I do better if I can multi-task, if I can have a lot of stories in my brain so that I have options. Ways to get my mind occupied when it's stuck on another story.

What about y'all? Are you one-at-a-time people? Some variation? And if you get a shiny new story idea, do you abandon your old story for a few days? Or are you one of the super-commited who won't even touch the new idea until the old one is done?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

MIA but still good ;)

Hey friends! I'm sorry this blog has faded out a little. I know we've all had major things going on in our lives, but we haven't forgotten you all :)

Congrats to Lauri Tomlinson for being an ACFW Genesis Finalist!  :)  I got that word the other day, and was so excited and proud! We're rootin' for you girl!

Anyone going to conference to see Lauri win? ;)

I actually am not going to be able to go to ACFW this year after all. BOOO. Too much going on right now with finances and with me having just moved last weekend (finally!) and not needing to take time off work. It was a super hard decision! But I think its for the best. Us single mamas have to be wise! Unfortunately. =P

I don't have anything craft wise to post right now but if you guys have any questions you've come across in your WIP's I'd love to help if I can. And hopefully we can all get back in the swing on this fabulous blog. Because all of you guys are fabulous!

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Cool Kids...

 Y'all, having people tell me they're reading my book is the weirdest thing ever. For one thing, while I did write it for someone to hopefully publish it and readers to eventually hopefully read it...mostly I wrote it because I had these people's stories in my head and wanted to get them out. So when people tell me they've read it, it feels a little like they peaked into a private part of my brain. It's good, it's fun, I'm glad they're reading it, but I'm just telling it like it is. Haha.

The other reason it's a little weird when people tell me this is that I'm normal. I'm not like all those real  authors (whatever that means) who expect people to love their books and recognize their names. I'm just a person who is so, so excited that her dream of publication finally came true.

I'm not one of the cool ones.

You know what's funny, though, that I've been learning from meeting people at writer's conferences and getting to know them more on facebook?

Apparently even the cool kids don't know they're cool.

Kristin Billerbeck (fabulous chick-lit writer) blogged this week on how she has so many things to keep her humble and wonders what it's like to be famous. Hello? Creator of the Ashley Stockingdale series, you are famous to the chick-lit loves of the world!

Ronie Kendig (awesome action-packed romantic suspense) was so excited on facebook a few weeks ago because her book was featured with Dee Henderson's and some other people. She felt like she was with the "big names." Um...Ronie? You are one of the big names!

So here are my observations/questions, which are all tangled around in my brain at the moment. When does someone become "famous" as an author and do you think they recognize it? Is it good that so many of these incredible (I would say famous) Christian authors are so humble? Does it make you laugh to know that they just think of themselves as normal?

And what do you prefer?? Promote yourself in your brain to best-selling author status. Do you want people to just treat you like a normal person? Do you secretly want to be so famous that you can't walk into a bookstore without people turning their heads and recognizing you?

Just some thoughts from someone who's okay not being super-famous. =) Happy Friday--have an awesome weekend, y'all!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Can you help a writer out?

If you have a "larger" connection you can share, let me know.

When your book comes out, I'll do the same for you!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Based on a True Story...?

How much of you is in your characters? How many of them have things in common with people you know in real life?

My first published book just  came out this month (which still doesn't seem real, by the way!) and people keep telling me they're reading it. I've been so thankful for the support! But what keeps making me laugh is the way people keep trying to find real life people in the story. I don't deny that a lot of me slipped into this main character, and yeah, now that people mention it, the hero does have one or two things in common with my hubby...

But seriously? They really are made-up people.

I think that's one of the things that scares me most about people actually reading what I've written. I'm worried they'll take everything my heroine thinks, every way she views the world, and think that I do too. And really? It's not true. We may have a lot in common, but we are different people.

(Side note: I even wrote a heroine once who didn't like coffee. Can you imagine the creative thinking that took for me??)

I do draw inspiration from friends and family members to keep characters authentic. But you can't go through my stories and draw direct parallels.

At least none that were intentional on my part. Haha.

What about you? Do you base people in your stories firmly on people you know in real life? Do you take inspiration?

And perhaps the one I'm most curious about--how much of you is in your heroines? (Tell me I'm not the only one who wonders that when I read a book?)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Strengthening your plot

A reader requested one of us tackle the following topic:

How can I make a plot stronger, more enticing, make it stand out from all the rest? It seems my WIP is a bit lackluster and I'd like to make it shine a little brighter...

If there was a solitary answer to this, we'd all be best sellers and rollin' in the dough ;)

But I'll try to help!

First, congrats on even asking this question, because that's HUGE.  :)  It shows you have noticed your story isn't what you want it to be, isn't what you know you are capable of creating, and that's a big step. Knowing something is wrong is the first step to fixing it. Discontent leads to progress, and all that. So kudos on that! :)

I think next you need to dissect what is wrong. Saying you need a stronger plot is pretty vague. What exactly about your existing plot is unsatisfactory? Start there. Is it boring in general? Is it not believable, or feels contrived? Is there simply not enough happening externally?

I believe one way of making a plot stronger is to really tie the external happenings to the internal. For example, if your heroine has a phobia of heights, or water, or enclosed spaces...then by all means, stick her in 'em. Make the plot highlight the character's unique struggle (whether that's fear of falling in love, jadedness over a broken relationship, fears/phobias of external circumstances, fear of failure, mother issues, father issues, etc.)

It's been said before in craft classes to answer the following question - what is the WORST thing that could happen to your heroine? Then do it, and up it a notch. ;)   Seems trite but seriously, there's power there.

Make sense?

As for making your plot enticing and stand out from the rest...that's going to be your unique voice and spin that you put on your story. The plot alone could be on the milder side, but your writing style make it sparkle. Or vice versa - you could have a real adrenaline-pumpin' plot, but if you're not writing with passion and from your heart and really invested in your story, it could come across dull or flat.

Bottom line, there's no simple or all encompassing answers here, but I hope I have helped a little. Feel free to ask more specific questions along these lines and I can try again!  :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

You've Got This


Some people are going to tell you aren’t enough. Not pretty enough. Not intelligent enough. Not talented enough.

Let me tell you a secret. Those people are acting like insecure cowards.

On the day you were born, you were enough. The moment you began to form in the womb, you were enough. The day you were first discovered–whoever you were–you were enough.

From the beginning of eternity, you were enough. You were planned–every detail–every moment–planned to be enough.

Nothing you do or do not do will subtract from or add to your value. Because from the beginning of time, you were enough.

You are enough.

You cannot disappoint God, because disappointment requires surprise and God is never surprised. He knows your actions and your heart from beginning to end. You are enough because HE is enough.

Rest in that today. That you–will always be valuable… always be wanted…always be enough. And when you begin to see yourself as enough, you will begin to see others the same way.

Nothing they do or refrain from doing will add to or detract from their value.

They are enough because He is enough. And because of that you can always see them as valuable… wanted… enough.

We are enough because… He will always be enough.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Research Trip in Reverse

Hey y'all! I'm back from the Florida Keys, rested and tan. =) I paid attention to everything around me when I was there (or at least I tried to!) so I could use the research for future stories. I still need to take the time to make notes and make sure I don't forget anything, but that's in my plan.

This trip was a little bit backwards as far as writing research goes. I'm not currently working on anything set in the Keys, but I love it as a setting so I decided I would just research (by having fun!) and let my imagination play around with whatever ideas came to it while I was relaxing and as a result I have not one, but two new story ideas starting to simmer in the back of my mind. Yay!!!!

Both of these stories started with a setting that inspired me, but the next thing after that for both of these was a character (the heroine) and her occupation. That's not always how inspiration strikes me, so it's interesting that that's how it worked this time.

So...what are y'all working on? Any fun "research" trips in anyone's future? How does a story start for you? Is it always the same?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A little bit of Starbucks, a little bit of learning, and a LOT more starbucks...

I just registered for the 2014 ACFW Conference in St. Louis, Missouri, September 25-28th! Who's coming with me??


Trust me. If you've been debating attending a conference, this one is THE conference to attend in regards to professional quality, networking opportunities, courses to enhance your craft,  etc. Not to mention the FUN and the fellowship and the worship! It's an amazing time every year.

Registration opened last night, so if you sign up soon, you can get a great rate. It's cheaper for members of ACFW, but non members are of course encouraged to come. You can also become an ACFW member (small annual dues is all that's required) in order to get the better rate. Also, hotels are discounted because of the ACFW group, so this super super classy hotel is only like $150 a night. Score! And you divide that by a roommate or two, and voila - Cheap!

This is what the conference looks like, in no particular order:

Heartfelt worship time guaranteed to refresh you!

Delicious gourmet food

STARBUCKS in the hotel (what what!!)

A fancy gala awards night where you get to dress up (come on, who misses Prom just a little!)

Meeting new friends

Reconnecting with old friends

Learning new elements of the writing craft through an amazing line up of courses

Face to face networking with agents/editors in the industry - all the top agencies and houses, all the ones you're so eager to get a foot in the door with! They will be there!!

15 minute appointments with said agents/editors in which you get to pitch yourself and your work in progress. THIS IS CRUCIAL to breaking into the industry. It's not a guarantee and of course people get published without going to conferences and having these appts, but it is a HUGE help. Editors confirm this every year - putting that face and personality to a submission truly makes a big difference.

Late night giggles and fellowship with new and old friends at the bar/lounge/lobby

Inspiring and insightful keynote address

Super nice hotel and rooms for those few hours you actually sleep


The chance to get away from home and family and the everyday and get fired up with likeminded people (fellow crazy writers) who actually GET you ;)

The chance to hug ME!!! Yay!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Research Trips

Anyone ever taken a trip to research your novel? Or just taken a trip for fun and ended up doing novel research while you were there?

My family is planning to head the beach soon (yay!!!!) and I've already got pieces of a story in my head that I think I want to do be doing some unofficial research for while we're there. And I started thinking about that and realized I'm not sure I can remember a trip where I didn't do a little bit of dreaming about a story and pay attention to the details of the setting because of that.

So, two things. First--have you done a research trip? Would you if money wasn't an issue? And where would you go? Historical writers, you might have to get creative. I know you can't go back in time, but there are old places you could visit, right?

Second--remind me what I should pay attention to. What are the details that you'd love to see included in a story that help you get a grasp on the setting? Is it what it looks like? What the characters eat? Something else entirely?

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Nano Wrimo?

So I'm not a fiction writer... obviously.

But I've noticed you NanoWrimo people take this thing pretty seriously.

So with November obviously sneaking up on us (baha), give me the TOP TWO reasons I should think about writing a novel for fun.

In 3...2...1...

Monday, April 21, 2014

So It's Not Friday...

Friday is my official posting day, but y'all, I've missed you enough that I just wanted to pop over and say hi! I'm sorry for being MIA these last few weeks. It's been a rough month, but God has really gotten my family through it and hopefully we're getting some sense of routine back now. Hopefully I'll have a "real" post for your Friday, full of fabulous advice. Or, um, something like that. ;)

But for now I just wanted to check in! How is everyone? What are you struggling most with writing-wise these days? What's going wonderfully?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Assignment or Passion?

I'm a journalist. Sometimes I get socked with projects that aren't my specialty.

Yesterday I actually wrote the words, "If you’re partner’s commented that your headlights are shining a little brighter these days, it might not be imagination. Scientists believe that this hormonal shift, causing some pregnant women to literally go bright purple, is nature’s way of helping newborns find the “target” after birth."

Yup. I wrote that. I, the woman whose body doesn't believe it is capable of carrying babies... am writing about pregnancy. But I busted out the pregnancy humor and voila--found myself having fun.

So what about you? Have you ever written about something that wasn't your passion? How did you make it fun for yourself?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Congrats are in order...

So we've been a little MIA here at Scribble Chicks lately, but that's because there's just so much good news everywhere!

Erynn had her sweet little baby - CONGRATS! So, pray for sleep....(hehe)

I (Betsy) turned 30 - YIKES! So, pray for free anti-wrinkle cream.... (hehe)

Sarah Varland has signed another contract with Love Inspired Suspense - WOOHOO!! So, pray for sanity and chocolate)...  (hehe)

So tell us - what's worth celebrating in your life today?

(And for the record, so far 30 isn't too bad at all!)

Also, if you have any questions or topics you'd like us to address, please comment and let us know!

We're SO proud of you - Scribblechick readers - and your progress and the headway you're making toward your goals. We're always here to help and celebrate and commiserate with you - whatever you need.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sometimes You Just Have to Write for You

There are times in life that short of the world's most impending deadline, you need to put away whatever you feel like you "should" write and pick up something that you're writing only for you. There are a few possible reasons for this--sometimes you're too stressed and need a break. Sometimes you need to be reminded that writing isn't always "work." Sometimes you just need to be creative.

And sometimes you need to write a story that stirs something inside you, so that God can use it to heal the hurting places deep in your heart. That's where I am right now.

What I meant to be working on in March probably won't be done until mid-April. It's still a story I'm passionate about, but I've put it away for now to write...well, I'm not sure what.

Doesn't that sound weird? I have no idea what this story is about.

I have vague story shadows in my mind, pieces of ideas that I think would come together into a wonderful story if only I could coax them to connect to each other in some way that makes sense.

Right now honestly? I'm not sure I can write the story I'm writing. Maybe I can't finish it. Maybe even if I do no one else will want to read it.

Maybe I'm just supposed to write the first few chapters, just for me. Because I have a feeling that my main character, who is running from her own hurts, has places in her heart that feel like mine does sometimes right now. And I think that if nothing else, God is using her to teach me about myself. And using the power of story to heal.

Because He can use things like that.

But you have to step away from your "plan" sometimes long enough to let Him.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A genie, a wish, and a guarantee....

Once upon a time...

An aspiring author found a little golden lamp.

She rubbed the lamp.

And a genie floated out.

"Good news!" The genie dangled a set of silver skeleton keys from his wispy blue fingers as smoke billowed about. "These are the keys to the publishing industry! Your wish is my command. You are guaranteed that one novel that you write will be published and become a best seller."

So, aspiring author - what would you write?

Your project is guaranteed to be published and be a hit, with zero influence from the industry or an editor or an agent - you get free rein to write the story and the genre you choose for instant success....what is it? :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Staying Motivated

It’s been wintery-mixing outside for three days. 

And by wintery-mixing, I mean wow-the-sunlamp’s-been-plugged-in-for-six-hours-and-I-still-can’t-tie-my-shoes-wintery-mixing.

It’s days like today when I have to find my core motivation. I lined up the babysitter; the words need to fall into place. 

What helps YOU find your groove?

Here are a few things that help me:

-Music (no lyrics for me; for some reason words mix up my thought process).

-Sunlamp (you thought I was kidding).

-GIANT mug of coffee/tea. Not both at the same time. But preferably both at some time.

My BIGGEST motivation, however, is people. When I think about the teens I’m writing for, there’s automatically a spark. 

And that’s something no wintery-mix can take away... as long as the sun lamp doesn’t run out of batteries.


Bekah is a national speaker and the author of The Bare Naked Truth: Dating, Waiting & God’s Purity Plan (Zondervan, 2013). Most of all, she’s Ethan’s wife and Zoey’s mom.

Friday, March 14, 2014

What is it You're Avoiding?

Sorry for my absence these last couple weeks, y'all! Somehow Friday always disappears so quickly. I think I'm still getting into the swing of this stay at home/work at home mom thing. Can I claim that even though it's been over a year?

I'm taking a quick break from what I'm working on today, because I'm in the middle of hammering out my "wow-this-is-awful" version of the synopsis for my next story. Thankfully I think my inner editor is still down with the cold that has been bothering my family this week, so she's keeping her mouth shut while I write sentences that would make her cringe usually but that get the point across so I can edit it and make it pretty later. I made this my goal today because I've been procrastinating this synopsis. I don't know why. I LOVE writing. I LOVE my editor asking what I'm sending her next. But this thing has been hard to write.

I feel like I'm in some kind of confession. Hi, my name's Sarah...


And I'm making decent progress so far, which made me smile just now and think "wow, I feel so much more like a writer when I actually get writing done!"

Haha. I know, right?

But I don't think it's just writing, I think it's knowing that THIS is the thing I've been procrastinating, and refusing to let it hang over my head anymore, that's making me feel kind of victorious today.

So I want you to get to share the Friday Victorious Feeling kind of excitement. What is it you've been avoiding? Even if you've worked on something every day this week (yay!) is there another project, a synopsis, edits, that you've been ignoring and hoping they'll just go away? What is it that you feel like you need to work on but you just can't quite convince yourself to do it? Here's my challenge for you today. Five minutes. Give that thing five minutes of your time and even if you quit when five minutes is up, I think you'll still get a sense of accomplishment for tackling it to some degree today.

Okay, ready? Go do it! And if you get a chance, share what it was in the comments. =) Feel free to leave a note with any other questions/topics you want to discuss. You know we always love inspiration!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Fill in the blank

Fill in the blank:

I can't write today because ____________.

"I have to babysit"
"I have to work"
"I'm too tired"
"My house is a hot mess"
"I'M a hot mess"
"I'm scared of failing"
"I'm scared of succeeding"
"I suck at writing"
"My story sucks"
"I'm too busy"

Let's talk about this - because whatever your reason is, it's a legit reason to you, so it matters. And maybe if we converse about them, we can help each other :)

I'll go first.

"I can't write today because I'm so incredibly totally brain dead from the 90895068590 things floating around in my head, that used to have a brain, and now is questionable mush."


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The big psych-out, and how it can help your writing career

I just witnessed my niece and nephew pull off a more secretive operation than the FBI has attempted in years.
The three-year-old was in a horrible mood... so the older two brushed their teeth, put on their pajamas, and crawled in their beds... only to get up three minutes later when she’d fallen asleep due to peer pressure.

At the risk of sounding crass, sometimes we too have to live by the old adage: “Fake it ‘til you make it.”

I’m not telling you to lie about your writing credentials. But if you want to be considered a professional writer, you need to look like one.

In person. On paper. In experience.

Going to a conference for the first time? Please don’t put on the ratty jeans or the butt-cheeky dress for your editor meeting. (This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many times I’ve seen this.)

Turning in a proposal? Please have someone professionally edit it. Not just for grammar, but for content. (If you’re looking for some great names, I know some amazing people in the business who’ve helped me in the past. I do not get any kind of price-cut for recommending them. But they are worth every last dollar. And I did spend my last dollar.)

Building your credentials?

I think Jesus was onto something when He said to be faithful in the small things. Whether it’s a small-town newspaper article or church bulletin announcement, put 100% effort into it. You’ll be amazed at what doors those smaller publications open for you. Eventually you can put in your proposals, “Published over ____ times...”

And pretty soon, you'll find yourself psyched out by your own credentials... while you watch your self-confidence hurtle you into the next amazing step of your career.


So what about you? What advice would you give about faking it ‘til you’re making it?


Bekah Hamrick Martin is a Zondervan author and national speaker, who is honored to still write for the small-town newspaper that first believed in her.

Monday, March 3, 2014

And the winner is..... :)

And the winner from Alicia's giveaway last week is.....



Rebekah, please contact Alicia with your email or contact info so you guys can work out the details of getting you your prize.

Thanks to all who entered! And have a happy Monday!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

An author, a giveaway, and a blast from the past....

Alicia Willis is an author and a loyal Scribble Chicks reader. We're so blessed to have her hanging around and contributing with advice and support and prayers and questions. We love our readers!

SO - to show our appreciation, we're featuring Alicia today and her novel Remember the Alamo, available via Amazon Digital Services, that released February 23. 

Here's the summary of the story!

When Pastor Mark Siegler takes his youth group on a midsummer vacation to San Antonio, he anticipates teaching them about honor and sacrifice at the Alamo. But arrival at the historic landmark brings cutting disillusionment. A troubled teen is determined to make things difficult - and spread his embitterment to the rest of the group. 

Mark has two choices: give up or try again. Midst his own discouragement, he decides to give them the story behind the legendary Alamo. And his perseverance results in the unforgettable.

The sweeping events of the Alamo comes to life through the eyes of an 1800's wheelwright named Silas Edwards. As his tale unfolds, his decision becomes a difficult one. Is defending the Alamo so important? Or are the principles behind opposing General Santa Anna worth sacrificing everything for?

Join Private Silas Edwards, David Crockett, William Travis, and Mark's youth group to discover the gripping events behind America's battlecry: "Remember the Alamo!"

And here's a little more about Alicia:

Alicia Willis is a homeschool graduate and avid historian. When not writing or doing endless historical research, she enjoys being a church pianist, teaching music, sing
ing, and playing volleyball. Her other passions include working in her church and spreading the love of Jesus Christ. She also manages a monthly e-newsletter entitled "Little Corners". Be sure to like her FB page for updates:https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alicia...

To visit her at her website or sign up to receive her newsletter, navigate over towww.thecomradesofhonorseries.weebly.com.(less)

Alicia is awesome and is doing a giveaway today as well of her book! So, if you'd like to enter, simply leave a comment here on this blog post. Then, you can leave a second comment stating that you have fanned Alicia's page on Facebook. Be sure to put what your FB name is so she can double check :) 

And THEN, if you want a third entry to up  your chances even more, add Alicia's novel on Goodreads to your handy dandy to-read shelf and let her know in the comments below. Lots of shots to win! :)

The book is available HERE on Amazon if you can't wait for a giveaway! (Check it out!)

AND you can learn more about Alicia at the below links 

Congrats, Alicia Willis! We are so proud of you!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Carving out the time

So sorry for missing my post last week!

About two weeks ago, I had to be hospitalized for contractions since I was only 34 weeks at the time, which is still a little early for baby boy to come. Thankfully, I was able to go home the next evening but I had to take this awful medicine to keep the contractions away that made my legs swell up anytime I was up for more than 10 minutes at a time.

I've been a little distracted lately. ;) I'm trying to make sure I have everything done that needs to be done, especially now that I've been taken off the medicine (yay!) and cleared for labor ( double yay!). I started with a list about 47 items long that needed to be taken care of before our little guy gets here and we're down to just the last few - thanks in most part to my amazing husband.

Soooo...all that to say, I've gotten little to no writing done in the last couple of weeks because even though "bed rest" sounded to me like "lay around and write all day", I was way too busy trying to get everything else done that I could in the sitting position (like folding laundry and finishing up baby blankets and such).

I'm hoping to get back to working on my WIP this afternoon during my son's rest time because I would really love to finish it before little brother comes!!

Anyone else out there trying to get back into writing after an extended break? Here's a quick list on how to get back into the swing of the story!

1. Read back through the last couple of chapters you wrote.
Nothing gets me back into the voice or mood of the story like reading back through it. Plus, it helps jog my memory on the little details (his eyes are blue, her dad's name is Gene, all those things).

2. Start when you are rested and ready.
Sometimes this isn't as practical as other times (I feel like lately I've been fighting sleep anytime I sit down!). But it really is best if you can start back into it when you have a good amount of time to devote to it. Writing a sentence or two at a time is going to make your writing feel choppy to the reader.

3. Think through where you want the story to go.
I don't outline and so sometimes I can get very forgetful of where I was taking the story before I stopped working on it. There are times when it can be more productive to spend a day or two thinking through where you want the story to go instead of actually writing. That way, when you really sit down to write, you have a plan of action instead of floundering around.

I hope these tips are helpful for you (and for me, since that's what I'm doing today)! What is your advice for getting back into writing after a break?