Monday, November 30, 2009
“I don’t really know how I come up with word pictures,” I told her. “How could I possibly teach someone else what I don’t know myself?”
But in the following weeks the notion kept surfacing. I tried to reel in the flopping idea only to lose it once again to the depths of my murky subconscious.
Finally, when I’d given up fishing for inspiration, it landed in my boat all shiny and slick. The only problem? Well, it was a Minnow of an idea. Not some big, impressive Marlin leaping from the ocean with power and grace.
With a smirk, I told my friend I’d discovered the evolution of my word pictures.
“Great,” she said, “I’ll get on the phone and set up a workshop.”
I snickered. “Don’t you want to hear my brilliant idea first?”
“Okay.” I gave her a classic you-asked-for-it grimace. “You think about the object, emotion, or action you want to describe. You get it squarely in your head.”
“The first thing that comes into your mind is a cliché.”
“Don’t use that.”
At this point I deserved a smack, but my friend—who is Wal-Mart truck loads nicer than me—simply said, “You’re going to have to come up with a little more than that.”
Awhile later, we went out to dinner and she helped me brainstorm my “workshop.” It’s still in progress. It doesn’t even get to wear a “Coming Soon” banner. But, eventually, I hope to have something to share—maybe on the order of a rainbow trout—a teaching model that’s interesting, digestible, and beneficial.
Friday, November 27, 2009
The phrase “Black …” was originally associated with catastrophic events, such as the stock market crash of 1929 (Black Tuesday) and the great financial crisis of 1869 (Black Friday). The first use of “Black Friday” in retail terms occurred in 1966, when the Philadelphia police department dealt with a mad rush of shoppers and traffic in Center City (downtown) the day after Thanksgiving. However, the term didn’t catch on nationwide unit 1975 when retail madness spread throughout the country, causing several well-known newspapers to coin the day “Black Friday;” thus, the tradition began.
So what does all this have to do with NaNoWriMo and my writing? Nothing, really. Except, in order to make my 50,000 November word goal, I would have to type as quickly and madly over the next few days as shoppers shop on Black Friday. And that, my fellow writers, just ain’t gonna happen.
I have given myself grace, however. I made it to approximately 20% of my writing goal. As far as shopping? I’m at 0%. One Black Friday is all I can handle for now.
(If you have a “Black Friday” experience to share—whether it be writing or shopping—I’d love to hear about it.)
Monday, November 23, 2009
So I've been looking at my calendar and reminding myself that I was up to blog on the 23rd. I even thought about it that morning. But my focus was centered on NaNoWriMo and my words count (I was behind and trying to catch up), and so I spaced it.
It can be like that with God too. We get so busy with all the things going on in life that we space God. We are so focused on the task at hand or the current crisis or whatever else is swirling around us that we forget to look to God.
I'm reading a book by Max Lucado called Facing Your Giants. In there he talks about David. How when David focused on God, it didn't matter how big his problem was or how big Goliath was, he knew God was bigger. As long as his gaze was on the Lord, there was no giant too big. But when he took his eyes off of God, even a munchkin was too much to handle.
Often we don't look to God when there is a munchkin standing in front of us because we think it is just a small problem and we can handle it. But God wants to help us handle all our problem, big or small. He also wants to share in our joys and triumphs.
So during this busy season of the year don't forget God.
Friday, November 20, 2009
A few days ago, as I was studying Genesis 3:15a, (NASB) and I realized God decreed there will be and enmity – antagonism and hostility – between me and Satan. He didn’t decree fear. Fear is a product of Satan. This week I started a new project with my writing and I am terrified because it is one that puts me in a position of great vulnerability. It has taken me weeks to start because of my fear, but I was reminded in this verse fear doesn’t come from the Lord. My gift as a writer comes from the Lord and as long as I am writing for Him, I have no reason to fear. It really doesn’t matter who likes or approves of my words, as long as I am writing what He wants me to write. So I challenge you, my fellow writers, to remember for Whom we are writing and not to allow our fear to slow us down.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Jumping on a trampoline looks like a lot of work, a lot of excitement, and a whole bunch of pain.
Face it, you have to climb up there and get the momentum going to get the jumping started. And, as your feet leave the surface and you soar up, up in the air, reports are that you feel like you are being propelled into space. And, of course, if you aren't careful, and you hit those nasty metal springs on the edge, or miss the edge at all and hit the ground, well -- you know that hurts. And, even if you do manage to land on that rubber surface, you still need to pump those legs, flex those muscles, and work to get back up in the air again.
So, what does this have to do with writing and the writing journey?
I have talked to a number of writers these last few weeks, and the general consensus is that this writing life is tough. You have to have faith in the calling God has placed on your life to even consider putting pen to paper, in a literal or figurative manner. You have to be able coordinate everything else that is going on in your life to make time and energy to take on just one more thing like writing.
That's like climbing up on this flimsy rubber surface for the very first time. You don't know for sure you are going to like writing. You don't know you are going to be any good. And, you don't know but that everyone is going to end up laughing at you as you make a fool of yourself.
And, once you do get started with the writing process, oh, the ups and downs. Up, up -- you managed to string together three logical sentences. Down, down, your critique group hates it. Up, up -- you're going to a conference. Down, down -- you have so much to learn. Up, up -- you've finished the book. Down, down -- no one is looking for this genre. Up, up -- you send it off. Down, down -- now what?
You get the idea. Every step of this journey is like a trampoline ride. And, what if you miss the mat on the way back down -- you get a rejection? Rejections hurt. They can crush your spirit. They can undermine your faith in your calling, and cause you to question whether you really heard God or not.
So, what to do? Get back up on the trampoline. Learn from your mistakes. What can you do differently so that doesn't happen again? And, if it does happen, how can you learn to fall so you don't get hurt so badly? How do you get over the fear of getting hurt? How do you get past this down time?
You need to start writing. Immediately. Like, right now. Write right now. Start with plotting the book that's been swimming around your head. Do some goal-motivation-conflict charts of your characters. Do some research. Write with a pen -- it stimulates different areas of your brain.
And, spend some time in prayer, some time with the Lord. Ask Him to confirm His calling in your life. Call a friend who supports your writing. Go back and read a good review of your book, an email from someone who read it and said they couldn't put it down.
Yes, this writing life may be like jumping on the trampoline, but here's the important thing about trampoline jumping -- without the downs, there wouldn't be any ups. You need the downs to build the momentum to carry you up, up, up again.
Monday, November 16, 2009
I am currently participating in a Beth Moore Bible Study on the Fruits of the Spirit, and this past week, the focus was on faith and how it fights for us when we're getting attacked. One of the key points was to get down on our knees and give thanks for everything God has done for us and what He's going to do. He is faithful, has always been there, and He always will be there. We don't have any reason to doubt that...even though we do when times get tough.
Giving thanks is the same as claiming the truth that God is right there with us, fighting when things seem like they're at their worst. And it's amazing when we take the time to give thanks for all that we have, just how easily our current situations seem to fade into the background and become less of hindrance. We take our eyes off the temporary struggle and focus more on the eventual outcome we know will happen.
This week, I'm realizing that in a very personal way. My little daughter is teething again with more than 1 of her top teeth, and she's leaking out of every available hole in her face. :) Poor little tyke also has a sore throat, so coughing and even crying isn't comfortable at all. She's quite the trooper though, despite the lack of sleep and the constant runny nose. It's exhausting both of us, and as much as my husband would love to help, my daughter won't have anyone but me.
How easy it would be to allow the exhaustion to take control, but instead, I'm giving thanks that God has provided for me to be home with my little girl when she needs me, and that we can nap together when she does succumb to the much-needed rest and sleep. I'm thankful this is only temporary, and that it isn't anything worse. And I'm thankful for a supportive husband, who is doing what he can to help when he's home. But most of all, I'm thankful for the blessing of a little girl who is still a bright spot in my life, and whose little smile amidst bleary eyes and red nose makes the lack of sleep pale in comparison to the love I feel for her.
So, remember when you're going through those difficult times, that giving thanks for what you have and for God being right there with you to fight for you and help you through it, well it's usually the best defense you have.
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/.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Join HIS Writers and 15 wonderful ACFW authors on December 4th and 5th at Daz Bog Coffee, 1050 104th Avenue, Northglenn.
Enjoy this double event that is all about the books you love! Shop for the holidays by buying a signed book from one of our authors (schedule below), or stock up on your favorite books or other media for killer prices at our Used Media Sale.
(Profits will be applied toward scholarships for writers!)
9 - 11 am: Women's Fiction
Megan DiMaria and Alison Strobel Morrow
Megan DiMaria is the author of Searching for Spice and Out of Her Hands, both of which are set in the Denver area. An energetic speaker, she enjoys encouraging women to embrace life’s demands and delights. She also serves writers as the assistant director of Words For The Journey Christian Writers Guild Rocky Mountain Region. Before penning her first novel she worked as a radio and television reporter and wrote for newspapers and magazines.
Alison Strobel established herself as a powerful voice in Christian fiction with the release of "Worlds Collide" in 2005. Her second release, "Violette Between" was a Rita Award nominee two years later. Both books have received accolades from reviewers and readers. Alison Strobel combines thought-provoking themes and relatable characters to create un-put-downable contemporary fiction.
When they're little, our kids are on our feet. When they're big, they're on our hearts. How will Linda manage when she realizes it's all out of her hands?
What if you had the chance to relive your life with a loved one you'd lost--but had to give up your future to do it?
11 am - 1 pm: Romance
Kathleen Kovach and Amber Stockton
Kathleen E. Kovach is an award winning author and the Rocky Mountain Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Her first published novella, Merely Players, landed her on Heart Song Presents' list of favorite authors and is included in the anthology, Florida Weddings. Kathy also placed in the Faith, Hope, and Love Inspirational Reader's contest. She has two sons, five grandchildren and one on the way. She loves writing spiritual truth . . . with a giggle.
Romance sings as two people learn to forgive with the help of a melodious alpaca.
1 - 3 pm: Fantasy/Speculative/Supernatural
Donita K. Paul, Stuart Stockton, and Nancy Wentz
Donita K. Paul crafts her award-winning fantasy stories from a Hobbit Hole in the shadow of Pike's Peak. She retired early from teaching school, but soon got bored--and thus was born several romance novels and the popular Dragon Keeper Chronicles. Her books have won the ACFW Book of the Year contest and were nominated for the coveted Christy award.
On an alien world on the verge of war, one young warrior discovers the weapon that can save his Empire, but may also doom his world.
Saturday December 5
9 - 11 am: Nonfiction
Candee Fick, Patrick and Donna Schlachter,
and Kimberly Woodhouse
As the wife of a high school football coach, Candee Fick has climbed metal bleachers in all kinds of weather (with three children in tow) to witness firsthand the battle for field position and points. In addition to discovering the benefits of a comfortable stadium chair, she has seen many lessons about life illustrated on the playing field.
Patrick and Donna Schlachter believe the best way to strengthen your faith is to life it out. As such they are active in various ministries to the community. They've written Quiet Moments Alone with God, 100 Answers to 100 Questions about Loving Your Husband, and Living By Faith.
Kimberly Woodhouse's enthusiasm and positive outlook on difficult circumstances makes her a sought after speaker around the country, and a well-loved author. Her family's story has been on the front pages of newspapers and magazines, but when they were chosen for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, they were catapulted further into the public eye inspiring many with their perseverance and faith. Their story, Welcome Home: Our Family's Journey to Extreme Joy, offers hope and triumph.
Explore what life and football have in common through the eyes of one who has to -- er, gets to -- watch a lot of games. For football lovers and those that love them.
Explore and expand the depths of relationship with God as you step into the peace of His presence
It can be “Pure Joy” to be a parent. But, how does joy evolve out of devastating reality? Journey with the Woodhouse family as they cope with rare medical disorder, mountains of bills, and loss of their home in this poignant, heart-warming story.
Mike Angley is the award-winning author of the Christian mystery/thriller series, The Child Finder Trilogy. When his debut novel, Child Finder, launched in June 2009, the Library Journal placed it on its Summer Reads List and called it, “a compelling debut novel,” and “a real find.” Child Finder also won the 2009 Silver Medal for fiction from Military Writers Society of America. A retired Air Force Colonel and Special Agent, Mike draws upon his 25-year career as inspiration for his writing.
Erin Rainwater is a nurse and author who writes wholesome historical stories that stretch beyond the confines of formula Romance. Her novel True Colors (set in the civil war era) was awarded the 2009 Gold Medal for Historical Fiction by the Military Writers Society of America, and 1st Place in Historical Fiction by Branson Stars & Flags Book Awards. The Arrow That Flieth By Day is set in post-Civil War Colorado. As a former Army nurse, Erin was privileged to care for the bodies and spirits of soldiers and veterans, including repatriated POWs and MIAs. Her military experience has helped in writing her novels.
Stephen E. Wright is a fanatical off-roader and high-power rifle competitor living in Colorado. He has written for both television and film and now enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains with his wife and two daughters. As both a Christian and a political junkie he finds the current divisiveness in the American political landscape fascinating, and it's from this rift he drew the inspiration to write his latest novel, Off Road.
When Air Force Special Agent Patrick S. O’Donnell discovers he has a psychic ability f or finding missing children, he’s drawn into a Top Secret government program that exploits his skills. But this secret community has an even darker underbelly, and when those close to him die mysteriously, his own family gets trapped in a twisted web of government intrigue.
Her war is not with enemy soldiers but with battles of the heart and will. Only truth can conquer this type of foe. And truth is in short supply.
Off-Road is a uniquely American novel about God, guns, big trucks ... and the Archer family, caught in the middle of the new civil war of red state vs. blue state. It's bad enough camping with your"redneck" family, but what's up with the guns?
Award winning author Mary Davis has published over a dozen books, including Newlywed Games (a Crossings Book Club alternate feature selection), The Captain’s Wife (a Readers Favorite 2009), Reckless Rogue (2009 ACFW Book of the Year finalist), and Love Notes (2008 ACFW Book of the Year 1st place historical novella). She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers and enjoys teaching writing at schools and writer's groups. An avid crafter, Mary lives in Colorado with her husband of over 25 years, her three grown children, and a zoo of pets.
After thirty-five years of marriage to her real-life hero, Debra Ullrick still feels like a newlywed. An award winning author of Christian romance, she loves to weave humor, real-life drama, and inspiration into her stories, helping her readers find hope in a chaotic world. Debra, her husband, and their daughter worked on ranches for over twenty-eight years. Her passions include mud bog racing, monster trucks, classic cars, and watching Jane Austen movies.In the mist of Washington's cascading waters, three young women dream of love. Can trust be restored and dreams fulfilled so that love can move into these women's lives?
Friday, November 6, 2009
I did this last year, and hardly anyone I knew was doing it. This year, all but one of my nine-member face-to-face critique group have signed up and are writing away. And many more on the Colorado loop have joined the challenge as well. (I still haven't added everyone to my buddy list; I will!)
Then I started with a premise and a very basic knowledge of my main characters (I knew their names and one characteristic/fact about them), and I knew who the villain (murderer) was and his motive. Other than that, it was total seat-of-the-pants. This year, I have well-developed main characters and villain, thanks to Jeff Gerke's Character Creation for the Plot-First Novelist. And I have a three-page synopsis outlining the plot.
Last year, I wrote every weekday, mostly meeting my goal of 3000 words per day. I took weekends off. This year so far, I've written two days for a grand total of just less than 5000 words. Sigh. Most of it is timing. Before I committed to NaNoWriMo, I took on several editing projects that were supposed to be done earlier this week. For various reasons, I'm still working on two big ones, with extended deadlines. And that has me backed up into other originally well-spaced deadlines. So . . . already I'm struggling.
When I bogged down last year in the middle weeks of writing, I took an entire day just to write. It worked well: hubby was working in Mesa, AZ; our son who lives at home was away that day and evening; and our daughter was living/working in London, England. No distractions. And I wrote myself through the slump and into the final third of the book where it flowed easily to the end. This year, I'm hoping to schedule at least three of those days . . . just not sure when yet.
It can be done. The Lord urged me into this at the last minute last year, and He enabled to meet that seemingly impossible goal. Sensing the Lord's nudging again this year, I signed up a little earlier, got my mind more organized, and had great hopes for accomplishing this goal again. It didn't seem so impossible this year. But guess what? Here I am on November 6, wondering how I'm going to hit 10,000 words, let alone over 50,000!
And this morning in my quiet time, it hit me that once again I've set out to meet a goal in my own strength. But, thankfully, this time I realized it much sooner than I have done in similar situations in the past. I cannot do anything without Christ. But I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. So . . . with God's help, I'm going to relax. My editing schedule changes are not a surprise to Him. He knew when He nudged me into this that I would be facing different challenges. He knows this book is way over my head and abilities to write. That's the way He planned it. And it won't be me who accomplishes the goal to get this rough draft written this month. It will be Christ who does that, through me.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
You should have known she wouldn't care about every minutia in the development of the interior journey of your favorite movie character . . . or of your struggles with plot development, or even your angst about the writing journey. But you went off, talking about your passions, and in that moment your best friend would have preferred Barney to your company (even though he is big, purple, sappy, and sings irritating songs).
It used to really hurt my feelings. I mean I love my friend, she loves me, and I thought we were a happy family. So why doesn't she care about what I care about?
I even got this kind of stuff from my family. I mean why didn't the kids what to hear me read the next chapter of my WIP? And why hasn't my husband read my novels? Sure he prefers football to chick flicks and biographies to romances, but shouldn't he care that my hero and heroine finally found their way past all the obstacles?
And so what if I'm sobbing at the computer? Does it really matter that the kid who got nailed by a speeding car exists only in my imagination? He's in a coma for heavens sake! Shouldn't I get a little sympathy?
Thankfully the writer's journey has taught me a few things about relationship over the last eight years. First, I now know my friends and family really can love me to pieces even if they don't want to read my latest manuscript or have a philosophical discussion about why a character responds to life as he does.
Non-writer types just don't have the capacity for all this. They love me, not my world, and want the bottom line. Am I okay? Did I sell something? Get a good (or bad) review? They care how I'm managing this crazy world called a writer's journey even though they don't want to know many details about what that looks like.
Another thing I've learned is there are strange types who don't hear voices in their heads. They never discover a whole story line in the way the gal scanning their groceries glimpses discreetly over her shoulder at the buff guy moping aisle 4. And it really does take massive amounts of effort for them to relate to those of us who do.
My husband may not read every chapter I write, but he has to put up with my brooding as I'm discovering a new character or waiting for that rejection letter or fighting writer's block. And my kids my not want to hear about what I write, but they believe I'm a writer even when I don't. Maybe all that pounding of the keyboard convinced them something real is going on and they believe it even on the days I don't.
And my friends? They give me wide berth when I'm under a deadline. Despite my neglect they believe that I really do still love them and will come back to the real world when I wrap up the one I'm creating. Until then they wait patiently for me to return to them.
The other really important thing I've learned is I have a great need for people who DO hear voices. Some of my happiest, safest places are wherever writers gather. They get me. They understand my angst. They, too, wonder about interior motivates and strange plot twists. And it's probably 4 a.m. before their eyes start to glaze over when I talk about such things.
See, while we need those weird creatures who live firmly grounded in reality, we also need a place where we make sense to our fellow sojourners.
So, my dear friends who hear voices, be patient with the non-writers in your life. Save most of that word count about the writing world for your writing buddies. Take time to develop healthy relationships in your writing community.
And the next time you go to crit group or your local ACFW chapter meeting, greet those buddies with a great big hug and a kiss from you to them.
And they'll say they love you, too.
A writer, speaker, and homeschooling mother of four, Paula Moldenhauer is passionate about God’s grace and intimacy with Jesus. Her devotional website, Soul Scents, offers a free weekly devotional and you can visit her blog at GraceReign. Paula serves as president of HIS Writers. A devoted Pride and Prejudice fan, she loves good conversation, peppermint ice cream, and walking barefoot. Her greatest desire is to be close enough to Jesus to live His fragrance.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Funny thing about goldfish. They only grow to the size of their bowl. At least, that's what I've heard. I'm not a fish person.
You can feed them Ben & Jerry's Double Chocolate Gummy Worm ice cream, and they still won't outgrow their bowl. Why? I don't know. This isn't an article about fish.
It's an article about writing. And more specifically, your writing, and your place in the writing world.
Are you content to call your writing a hobby? If so, then that's fine. You will be very happy in your bowl with plenty of room to swim. But if you want to bust out of that bowl, there are steps to take, and they don't involve eating Ben & Jerry's ice cream, with or without worms.
First, you must start calling yourself an author. Seems a pretty simple step, but you'd be surprised at how hard that is for some people. Do you write? Anything? For publication, hopefully, someday? Then you're an author.
Second, treat it as a job. No, you can't write only when the muse hits you if you are an author. Set a time and place to do your job. If you can only manage an hour on Saturdays at the local McDonalds while your kids are in McPlayland, that's fine. But stick to it. That's your part-time writing job. I suggest clocking in and out as you would any job. You can do that in a notebook or you can create a spreadsheet. I have directions on how to set up your own on my blog.
Third, network. No, this doesn't mean spending all your time on Facebook. Um. . .don't go looking at my profile. By network, I mean meet people who can further your career. Go to conferences to talk to editors and agents. Join ACFW and other writing organizations. Talk to successful authors to see how they got as far as they did.
Hobbies are fine. And if you're content with writing an article here, a devotion there, playing with your novel, no one is saying that's wrong. But if you feel deep down into your soul that this could be a career for you, start calling yourself an author.
Learn. Grow. Leap out of that bowl!
Kathleen E. Kovach is the ACFW Rocky Mountain Zone Director and has published four books with two more contracted. For tips on organization, go to http://www.kathleenekovach.blogspot.com/ and find "Organize Yourself as a Writer" in the label section.
Picture above is attributed to
http://www.flickr.com/photos/anothersarah/ / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0