Wednesday, October 28, 2009
The first time I heard of NaNoWriMo I thought, what in the world is that? So I asked a friend who told me it stood for National November Writing Month. My response was, hmmm…a month dedicated to writing. Sounds like a good idea. Yeah. Real good idea.
Guess my kudos to the program should have ended there, because as I continued to converse with this person I discovered NaNoWriMo wasn’t something just placed on the calendar for writers to look at and get all wishy-washy about; it was something they needed to actively participate in. And when I say “actively,” I mean 50,000 words worth of actively. All in one month.
Blobs of sweat converged under my fingernails and hives erupted inside my mouth as my friend asked, “Are you going to participate?”
Participate? Me? Can’t I just circle it on my calendar or something?
Nope. You gotta go all the way, she said. Persevere. Run the race…and all that jazz. It will be fun!
Fun? Since when did writing a 50,000 word novel in one month sound like fun?
Knowing this was beyond my scope, I sighed and walked away feeling defeated.
50,000 words? In one month? Are these people crazy? I kept mulling that last question over and over in my mind until I could only come to one conclusion: yes, they were.
That was two years ago.
Since then I have discovered these crazy people, who sit in front of their computer and hack out a 50,000 word novel in the month of November, actually like doing it. Not only do they like doing it, but they have discovered writing like a madman every day is actually therapeutic. So, being that I could always use some good therapy, this year I’ve decided to take the plunge and sign up for NaNoWriMo.
Thirty days of abandoning my inner editor. Thirty days to come up with 50,000 words. Thirty days to write a novel.
Am I nuts??? Yeah, probably. But at least this time I’m not alone. This time I’m joining a handful of other nuts who are just...like...me.
For more info on NaNoWriMo, or to sign up to be one of the “nuts,” go to http://www.nanowrimo.org.
Monday, October 26, 2009
It’s been a privilege and honor to serve the Colorado Springs chapter. Though I was one of many to help get the Springs chapter going and have served as head of the chapter, it is not “my” chapter. The chapter belongs to all of us. Just as the Denver chapters do not belong to the officers but the whole membership. These chapters are your chapters.
Being an officer is such a great way to give back to your local chapter, to ACFW, and your writing friends. You may think you’re not qualified to be an officer. None of us are perfect, and we have all done some on-the-job learning. And you are not alone, you will have the support and help of the other officers.
So know this, I am praying for YOU! If God is nudging you to run for an office, OBEY! Please don’t let it stop you if someone else is running for that office. If the Lord says run, then run. I believe the Lord has something to teach you whether or not you are elected. Step out of your comfort zone and run. See what the Lord wants to do in your life.
Last year I felt the Lord pressing upon me to run for president of our local chapter again. And then He has spent the better part of this year persuading me to let go. I whined a lot but in obedience, I am not running for an office this year. And I have peace about it.
Nominations for chapter officers will wrap up Nov. 5th and then elections will follow. E-mail Margie Vawter (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your nominations.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Then I gave each person at the meeting a Bible marker from a lady in Texas who makes these as a ministry. The point was that the most important fruit of our writing ministry is going to be the Word of God that comes through in our writing.
And the most important reference book we can own is our Bible.
Of course, like most reference books, it doesn't do us any good if it sits on the shelf gathering dust. We need to open our reference books, read them, and then apply the information, if we want to get anything out of them.
Our Bible is the same way. If we don't read it, then apply the information found within the covers, we might as well not own one at all.
Reading our Bible should be natural for Christians. And for Christian writers, where for most of us our number one pass-time besides writing is probably reading, the Bible should be our primary source.
However, I am going to confess right now, it's not always where I go for a good read.
As a writer of mysteries and romantic suspense, that's what I like to read.
But, when I consider the Bible, it is full of mysteries and romantic suspense. I mean, the first verse says, "In the beginning God" -- this has been voted one of the Best Opening Lines of any book ever written. I wish I could come up with something that good for one of my mysteries.
And what about all those unanswered questions? Where did God come from? Where did Melchizadekk come from? Where did he go? How about the virgin birth? Not to mention the resurrection. Talk about great plot lines.
And then romantic suspense -- Adam and Eve. What if they hadn't liked each other? Would God find another woman for Adam? Then there was Rahab the harlot. Did she ever get married? How about Solomon. How did he manage all those wives? And Leah -- what was her life really like as the unloved one? The woman at the well -- did she ever get it right.
For those of you who write romances, science fiction, young adult, fantasy, military, westerns -- whatever you write, you can be sure the plot is in the Bible. The characters you wish you'd created are in the Bible.
I encourage you to pick up your Bible this week, just for the love of reading, and ask the Lord to show you a passage you've missed before, or to open your eyes to a new understanding of an old passage.
And then, go forth and bear fruit for our Kind.
Monday, October 19, 2009
For those who aren't aware, we have a unique feature on this web site contained on each of the chapter pages. It's a sidebar on the right made up of nothing but author links to personal web sites, services and blogs. This feature became a reality as a result of discussion last year regarding content on the site. Our local boards decided we wanted a way to connect everyone online who in any way was involved with ACFW Colorado.
So, whether you live in Colorado, reside in the Rocky Mountain Zone, or are a reader of this blog and like to keep up with what's happening with our bunch, we'd love to partner with you in promotion.
Do you have a web site or blog you'd like to advertise? If so, drop by one or all of our chapter pages and follow the instructions to advertise with us. It's only $5.00 per year, a true bargain for the potential exposure and new audience you might reach.
All links and payment must be submitted/received by November 1st. So, come on and link with us!
If you have any questions about this, feel free to leave a comment. I'll be sure to return to respond.
And if you're reading this, leave a comment to let us know what you think of this feature. Would you make use of it? Have you visited the chapter pages in the past and any of the web sites listed in the sidebars? Is there a manner in which they're displayed or featured that you'd like to see done differently to perhaps entice or encourage you to visit the sites or make use of the feature? Let us know. We'd love to hear from you.
Tiffany Amber Stockton is an author, online marketing specialist and freelance web site designer who lives with her husband and fellow author in beautiful Colorado Springs. They celebrated the birth of their first child in April and have a vivacious puppy named Roxie, a Border Collie/Flat-Haired Retriever mix. She has sold eight books so far to Barbour Publishing. Other credits include writing articles for various publications, five short stories with Romancing the Christian Heart, and contributions to the books: 101 Ways to Romance Your Marriage and Grit for the Oyster.
Read more about her at her web site: http://www.amberstockton.com/.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The sun warms my face as I listen to the soft rustle of autumn leaves and the faraway bark of a dog while I sit on my back porch. I sigh in pleasure at the musty smell of leaves and the brightness of the clear blue sky. This moment of peace and tranquility is something new for me. My world has been the scream of an electric guitar playing the same lick over and over as I stifle the urge to knock on my son’s door one more time and ask him to please find some headphones. Or the mindless entertainment of the latest reality TV show that my daughter has on. But for now, all I hear are the sounds of my Creator’s music. This is a good thing, I tell myself.
I am adjusting to a new season in my life. This isn’t something that I can try on like a new pair of pants at the store and discard if I don’t like them. This season is here to stay. I’ve passed the “raising my children” season and am on to the “empty nest” season of life. No more running after a toddler to wipe his runny nose or waking up in the middle of the night to soothe a crying child. No more cleaning out the Big Wheel that someone decided to use as a toilet since he couldn’t be bothered to stop playing and make it to the bathroom. No more listening to a teen complain about the social injustices of high school or even youth group. This is a good thing, I tell myself.
I know that many women might think that I am crazy to not embrace this new season with abandon. Isn’t it the goal of every parent to have finished this stage of the race? I never thought I would feel like I was 18 again struggling with what to do with the rest of my life. I had already answered that question and now I am faced with it once more. Is this a good thing, I wonder? Now I can act on my interests and desires like writing and speaking. Things that have been carefully stuffed in the back of the closet like clothes that don’t fit anymore but are kept because we just know that someday we’ll be able to pull them out again.
So now it is someday. I will dust off my dreams and sit on the porch to spend time reading the Word and hearing from the One who made me and knows the desires of my heart. I will take joy and pleasure in seeking Him as I start this new season that is the next step on life’s journey. And while I grieve for what once was, I look forward to experiencing all that He is setting before me. Obedience will bring fresh awareness of His long-term plan. This is a good thing, I know.
Friday, October 9, 2009
This year the Lord has been busy telling me that it's time for me to start writing again—not just in fits and starts, not just devotionals (several of which I wrote and sold last year and early this year). It took a while for me to take His urgings seriously. But in July I almost literally got smacked upside the head with it.
Within a four-day period, He spoke through my agent, Joyce Hart, His Word, and Marlene Bagnull, my dear friend and mentor. All said essentially the same thing: It's time to stop playing and get serious about this. Now it wasn't that I didn't understand His previous urgings, it was more a matter of what I would have to give up in order to write. It meant that I was going to have to step out on faith, turn down some editing projects, and trust Him to cover the resulting loss of income.
Yes, five years ago the Lord told me it was time to retire from teaching at our Christian school and go full-time with editing and writing. He tremendously blessed the editing, and I got so busy with that, relying on that income, that to write meant going back to no income, or substantially less than the editing brings in. Now He was asking me to trust Him with my writing, too. And I was dragging my feet.
The slap the Lord gave me came through my husband. Just before we left on a trip to San Diego in the middle of July, Marlene sent an e-mail encouraging me to consider taking the next step. In fact, she was insisting I take it. *smile* I shot off a quick response, saying I would pray about it over our long weekend. So in the truck a couple of hours later, I shared it with my husband. Knowing I'd already had a meeting with Joyce and how the Lord had been speaking to me through His Word, Roger looked at me and said, "What's there to pray about? How clear do you want the Lord to make it?"
Ummm . . . ouch! And here I thought I was being all super-spiritual by saying I would pray about the next step. LOL
I wish I could say things changed immediately. They didn't. I'm still trying to find the balance between editing and writing. I know there is one because He hasn't told me to quit editing altogether. In fact, He's sent me new clients and opened up other doors to expand that side of the business. But He has also opened up new opportunities to write, both for immediate income and long-term possibilities.
Now the Lord is showing me how He's been preparing my heart to "write His answer" through the stories He's given me to write. Peter wrote in 1 Peter 3:15 (MSG), "Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy."
Incorporating a spiritual thread into my stories is an area I struggle with. But this week, the Lord has impressed on me that as long as my focus is on Jesus Christ in worship, the spiritual thread He wants in my books will show up. Out of the abundance of the heart, I write, speak, worship.
So is my heart ready? Am I spending time with Him, getting to know Him through the love letter He's written to us? And the more I know Him, the more He is reflected in all I do and say. That is my prayer for me, for all of us.
Marjorie Vawter is the ACFW Colorado Area Coordinator, a freelance editor, and writer.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
His immediate response was "This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!"
My heart lightened, and I soon stood in the kitchen in my nightgown making hash browns and humming to a worship CD. Now before you think I'm spiritual, or a good mom 'cause I made breakfast, or even entertain the thought that I must be a morning person, let me clarify that both of those actions are rare. Mornings and I don't get along, and I have not praised the Lord as I wish I had over this last year of struggles. It is one of my greatest regrets.
Maybe that's why I felt so inadequate as I began preparation to speak at Mile High Scribes on Writing as an Act of Worship. It wasn't a topic I picked, and my recent whining about the writing journey didn't feel at all like worship. But the Good Lord confronts that nonsense--that "I'm not good enough to serve" mentality I slip into way too easily. I'd planned to tell you how He did this, but I just found out I'm speaking again Saturday on this topic, and well . . . if you want to know the whole story, I guess you'd better come to W!W!W! at 11:00.
So instead of giving you any more hints into the content of my presentation, I'd like to challenge you to just slow down for a minute or two. Breathe in and out. Acknowledge the One who is Author of All and Most Creative Being of Eternity.
Notice how your heart worships.
A writer, speaker, and homeschooling mother of four, Paula Moldenhauer is passionate about God’s grace and intimacy with Jesus. Paula’s writing appears in magazines, book compilations, and devotionals. Most recently she’s written curriculum for David C. Cook publishing. Her devotional website, Soul Scents, offers a free weekly devotional. (www.SoulScents.us.) Paula serves as president of HIS Writers, the north Denver chapter of ACFW, and enjoys leading a Bible study group for high school girls. A devoted Pride and Prejudice fan, Paula loves good conversation, peppermint ice cream, and walking barefoot. Her greatest desire is to be close enough to Jesus to live His fragrance.
Monday, October 5, 2009
At that time, we visited all three places where my stories were located. Ashland, Coos Bay, and Shady Cove/Crater Lake. It was fun visiting with my family while working, and claiming that trip on my taxes was the icing on the cake.
I've written the first two of the series. and found that research to be invaluable. The smells in Ashland's Lithia Park, the feel of the air on the coast, the vast beauty of Crater Lake...all accomplished by physically being there.
This year, besides wanting to see my 88 year-old mom, I wanted to take the opportunity to visit Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene. The predatory bird sanctuary is the setting for my third book, but I'm going use my writer's Free Pass card and set it in a picturesque little town (Shady Cove) just miles from Crater Lake. We'll be going there the end of next week, so I won't be blogging about it here, but please watch for updates at kathleenekovach.blogspot.com and Facebook.
If you're able to go to the places you're writing about, it can enhance your story so much. But if not, the internet is such a fabulous resource. I've not only checked out obvious sites, but also blogs of people with the same passions as my character. For the first book, God Gave the Song, I found blogs of people who raise alpacas. Some of my scenes in that book came straight from those blogs, including a game where a cria (baby alpaca) loved to play a game of "let's bounce off mommy." For the second book, Crossroads Bay, I found sites dedicated to clubs focused on historic tall ships since my heroine is related to Sir Frances Drake, and her great-great grandfather was a shipbuilder who lost a ship just off the coast. (Yes, modern day treasure hunts and pirates ensue!) And for Fine Feathered Friend, I became a Facebook "fan" of the raptor center and have gleaned much from the people who post their status.
Look for the different ways to research your novels. Think outside the box. Your stories will come to life if you visit your settings, but if that's impossible try to tap into people with the same passions as your characters.
God Gave The Song should be available soon at www.heartsongpresents.com. Read about two people with abandonment issues and the melodious alpaca who helps them heal.
Kathleen E. Kovach is the Rocky Mountain Zone Director for ACFW. Her Web site is www.KathleenEKovach.com