I admit it—I am not a normal television watcher. I’ve joined the millennials in this phenomenon of “binge-watching” television shows—where I watch one or two a night, or even for an entire weekend, and saturate my entire mind with the show. I love doing this—I recently binge watched The Crown. I’m about to binge-watch last year’s Dr. Who. I spent all of December, January and February binge-watching Longmire.
Except, there’s a problem with this habit.
When it’s over, I sort of wander the house searching for something to fill the show-hole in my life.
You know what I’m talking about—it’s the same thing that happens when you finish a great book, or series of books. Nothing else compares to the experience you just had.
You’re in a book hole.
But, the thing that makes for a great book or show hole with quality of the product that has ended, right? If we never finish a book or a series, then we don’t miss it.
In other words,
All good things must come to an end.
Like Peyton Mannings excellent football career.
Or the Vikings 2017-2018 run for the superbowl.
Great while they lasted, a bummer to see them go.
I’m so sorry, I’m about to create a blog-hole in your life.
After two fabulous years of running Novel Rocket, and many years under the helm of Gina Holmes, Novel Rocket is shutting down. And it’s not because the quality isn’t fabulous, or that the attention has waned…
We are moving onto other frontiers. With we want to help authors who want to do more than just launch one book. So, we are moving our energies into a new project (we can’t wait to tell you about! But for now, it’s a Novel Rocket/NASA top secret).
But, we don’t want you to lose the excellent daily content from Novel Rocket—authors who help authors launch. So, we’re moving select authors over to the superblog, www.learnhowtowriteanovel.com. Hop over there and you’ll find your favorite authors posting all their great content to help you get published and stay published.
We’ll be leaving this blog up for the next six months. We know it’s been a great resource, so we’ll leave it in reruns for you can re-read your favorite articles.
We’ll be in touch with our new project—until then, blessings on your writing journey!
A tornado has destroyed a small Minnesota community and among the missing are not only a group of students but PEAK Rescue team leader Chet King. Ty Remington will stop at nothing to rescue his mentor, not even when the girl he loved–and lost–walks back into his life. But Brette needs his help more than he knows, despite her stubborn determination to push him away. And when he gets a second chance, loving her just might cost him more than he can imagine.
A blogger for Vortex Storm Chasers, Brette Arnold didn’t expect her adventures to land her in the same place as Ty, the guy who she walked–no, ran–from over a year ago. She had her reasons–good ones. The kind that tell her that falling for him again would only lead to heartache. But Ty isn’t the kind of man to give up–not on the missing students, or on her.
There are times when being an author feels like a dream. I get to pour out the stories of my heart and there are people taking the time to read them. As a homeschooling, writing mama of three, time is precious, and there is perhaps nothing more flattering than knowing someone is spending time with my lovingly and often painfully vetted musings. Whether I’m painting with sweeping sentiment or opening a vein onto the page, my words are live. They’ve reached far off places I’ve never been. They’ve connected with strangers in my own town. They’ve dazzled and provoked and certainly even peeved their reader. My words matter. What a rush!
And yet on the other side of the same coin, there are times when it feels like they matter so very little. Is it worth making myself this vulnerable? Is it worth the limited time and energy I have to spare even on the best of days? Or perhaps, am I making enough money to justify the cost of my blood-pressure medication?
There are very few beautiful things in life that don’t have a down side. And I’m by no means a pessimist, but life has a way of making you dig through the muck to find the hidden gem beneath. Only those who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and keep on digging find them.
If you’re an author or even just a dreamer, you are probably achingly familiar with the pendulum of emotions you’ll experience on the journey. If you’re just starting out, I don’t want to shatter any bliss-filled bubbles about chasing your dreams, but it’s best to go in with you heart cautiously optimistic, eyes open, and tough skin at the ready.
Because while you might be ready for one side of the journey, the flip-side is always ready to rear its ugly head. What are these double-sided coins of fortune, you ask… well, this is by no means an exhaustive list but we’ll hit the big three for writers. First there are…
Reviews—The good, the bad, the few.
Oh, joy! They like me! They really like me! Any author who tells you reviews don’t matter is either superhuman or frontin.’ Authors NEED reviews. They kind of need bad reviews. And even that isn’t the flip side of the coin, necessarily. It’s the need for reviews in number that tips the scales. If you don’t have enough, you’re invisible. If you don’t have bad ones, only your well-meaning friends have read it and you’re discredited. Let’s be honest, you really can’t have too many good ones. I’d love to have that particular problem. But the worst part… is review grubbing. We all do it. Someone sends you a private message gushing about your book that changed their life and made them want to love again and burst out into song and dance down the streets. Yet not one peep of that is where anyone else can see it. And asking to just pop that over into a review is quite possibly the most awkward thing an author has to do to not drown in the masses. It’s the gunk clinging to the gem of those all-important words that let us know we are making a difference. Word of mouth is powerful. We’re sunk without it. And we hate that. Though your words of rebuke may dent our armor, they are a rite of passage. But your words of encouragement are everything.It’s a beautiful, frustrating dichotomy.
Awards and Bestsellers—and the lack.
In the same way a good review can bolster an author’s confidence and even help sell their book, awards and bestseller lists are the next echelon of success. What a beautiful thing, being recognized. We all lament the snowflake generation and their participation trophies, but whether you’re with a big house, indie published, or anywhere in between, it’s hard not to feel that line digging deeper into the sand between the winners and the losers. The overly noticed and the virtually unnoticed. It’s not to say the award winners are always the one’s with the best books or the most talent. As it is completely subjective, like reviews, it should just roll off that tough skin we’ve all claimed to have acquired. Think about it, it’s likely some of your favorite books weren’t penned by the multi-award winning bestseller. Or even that you completely despised that #1 breakout smash hit. Awards are wonderful things. Who would turn one down? But in the grand glamourous world of writing, the winners are few and the rest are sequestered in their place. Two-sides, same beautiful coin of needing a moment to shine. One where too often, you end up face-down in the dirt. Game on and c’est la vie!
Writing itself—the sweet spot and the head-banging wall.
I would imagine some think writing a book is a beautiful release of words and ideas. An endless, lyrical outpouring of dreams and rainbows and seat-of-the-pants genius. I’m not gonna lie, there have been moments when I’ve felt this sort of grace on the page. When the book writes itself and my fingers can scarcely keep up. Is that what my everyday writing looks like? Ha! When those moments come, you thank the good, good Lord and ride out the beautiful wave. Because you know, KNOW with no small certainty and sense of inevitable doom, the days of reckoning are coming. Those days when plying anything but tired, tortured words from your repertoire feels like pulling (or perhaps gnashing of) teeth. Every book is different. Every one riling old doubts and introducing new ones. Every single story has the potential to be the last one I never finish, even while others pile up in the que of my creative store house. It’s a classic writer’s neuroses. So so many are afflicted. We both love this thing we do, and dread the wall, and the deadlines, and the plot pits. Stunning highs and devastating lows.
Oh, but for the love of good books. Heart stories. Getting to speak to thousands of readers or finding even just one.
Makes it all worth it. Every last word. And on behalf of authors everywhere. Thank you for reading. And recommending. And putting hands and feet to our stories. For championing our dreams. We hope our words make a difference. But just know that yours do too.
Named “USA Today’s Happy Ever After – Must Read Romance!”
Sadie Carson is an expert on unfinished business. Five years after the derailment of her dreams she’s just barely existing, using her job as a hospice nurse to give others the one thing she can’t seem to find-closure. So when her elderly neighbor Charlie, a brilliant conspiracy nut known for harassing the FBI, is murdered, Sadie suspects Charlie might’ve been onto something and intends to make sure someone solves the mystery of her friend’s death, even if it’s her.
The feisty little blonde may have found the victim’s body, but FBI Special Agent Archer Hayes has no intention of letting some nosy civilian interfere with his investigation. The guilt he feels is bad enough. The last thing Archer needs is another distraction to haunt him. Especially one as beautiful and beguiling as the girl next door. But throw in a mountain of hoarded evidence and suspiciously coded journals and the case takes a puzzling turn toward a decades old conspiracy cover-up from World War II-one only the victim’s closest confidant can help untangle. Sadie and Archer reluctantly join forces to decode the riddle of secrets Charlie carried to his grave. Or did he? Someone is after a dangerous truth. But to uncover it or bury it is a question that leads the unlikely pair on a quest for redemption that lands Sadie in the crosshairs of a desperate killer.
And when the dangers of the past and present collide Archer must fight to save the life of the woman he’s falling for . . . only to discover he might be the one in need of saving.
Amy Leigh Simpson writes romantic mysteries with honesty and humor, sweetness and spice, and gritty reality covered by grace. When she’s not juggling three tow-headed tots and a bottomless cup of coffee, she’s entertaining a head full of swoony story ideas inspired by her own hero. Her Sports Medicine degree is wasted patching up daily boo boos, but whatever is left usually becomes fodder for fluttering hearts, blood and guts, and scars that lead to happily ever after.
Rejection comes in many different forms. It might be that a critique partner has given you disheartening feedback. Maybe an agent doesn’t like your book idea, or an editor has turned down your project. Perhaps a reader has left a one-star review. Whatever the rejection may be, it can hurt and tempt us to give up on our dreams. As writers, we put our heart and soul on the page and when someone tells us it’s not good enough, it can be devastating.
So how do we persevere? Here are five ways I’ve learned to keep going on my writing journey.
Use Rejection to Fuel Your Writing
When a rejection comes our way, we usually get some kind of feedback with it. Maybe your critique partner pointed out that you need to work on characterization, perhaps an agent said your plot wasn’t fresh enough, or an editor said your book didn’t have a strong enough hook. Maybe your reader said your book lacked believable romance. Whatever the reason for the rejection, you can always learn something. Try to separate your emotion from the feedback (it isn’t easy!) and use it to make your next story even better. If you do, you’ll find that nothing is wasted.
Set Goals and Meet Them
When I’m feeling discouraged by rejection, I start to feel sluggish and tired. It’s hard to want to write during those times, especially when I don’t have assurance that the next story I write will be accepted, either. That’s when it becomes vitally important to set small, attainable goals, and meet them. For me, that might mean writing four thousand words this week, or completing the first three chapters and synopsis to send to my agent. Maybe I want to work on characterization, so I’ll read a craft book on that subject. Whatever it is, be realistic with your goal and then stick with it until it’s done.
Celebrate Your Friends’ Success
One of the hardest things to swallow when you receive rejection is to watch one of your writing friends succeed where you, seemingly, have failed. It’s easy to give in to jealousy, resentment, and even anger. None of this is good for you, your friendship, or the Body of Christ. When we give in to negative emotions, we become powerless. Our energy, creativity, and passion suffer and we cannot focus on our writing. Instead, what we need to do is celebrate with our friends and look for ways to encourage them and be happy for them. As brothers and sisters in Christ, many of us believe that we are writing to further the Kingdom of God. If that is our main focus, we should be excited when that mission is being furthered, regardless of who gets the honor of having their name on a book. I’m convinced that the enemy revels in our jealousy, because it limits our ability. Let’s fight back by being truly excited for our friends when they succeed.
Remember Your Past Victories
It’s easy to focus on the negative, but a lot harder to keep our minds on the positive. We tend to lament and feel sorry for ourselves when we don’t get what we have worked hard to attain. During those times, it’s easy to forget all the good things that have come our way. There are so many things to celebrate on this writing journey. Finishing a novel is one of the biggest! Finaling in a writing contest, meeting online friends in person at a conference, signing with an agent, getting a book contract, holding your book in hand, dedicating your story to a special person,receiving an email from a reader. The list goes on and on. When we’re feeling defeated, it’s important to remember all the good times, trusting that good times will come again.
Write What You Love
I saved the best for last, because I believe it’s one of the most important. When we receive a rejection, one of the first things we think is that maybe we’re writing in the wrong genre, or about the wrong subject. We have a tendency to want to chase after the trends or write a story like so-and-so, thinking that maybe we will have their good fortune, too. If that’s where you’re at, I want to encourage you to write the book you want to write. When you do, you’ll have more energy, passion, and drive to get it finished. Your love for your story will shine through and when you pitch it to an editor or agent, they will catch your enthusiasm, too. If we chase after something that doesn’t come naturally to us, we’ll get easily discouraged and want to give up. The thing we love can quickly become the thing we dread. So, write what you love, and regardless, you will find joy in the process.
Seven Brides for Seven Texas Rangers
No One Is Too Tough to be Loved
Join seven Texas Rangers on the hunt for a menacing gang, who run straight into romances with women who foil their plans for both the job and their futures.
The Ranger’s Reward by Gabrielle Meyer
Texas Ranger, Griffin Sommer stops to check on the young widow, Evelyn Prentis minutes before the Markham gang arrives at her farm needing a place to hide. Griff and Evelyn are forced to pretend they’re married to keep Griff’s identity a secret, but will Evelyn’s young son let the truth out before Griff can bring the gang to justice?
Gabrielle Meyer lives in central Minnesota on the banks of the Mississippi River with her husband and four children. As an employee of the Minnesota Historical Society, she fell in love with the rich history of her state and enjoys writing fictional stories inspired by real people, places and events.
I read about a young man who emailed his seminary professor asking for a good reason why so many trite and meaningless rules in the Bible were of any importance.
A week later, he emailed the professor again, gloating. “I didn’t hear from you, so my question must have stumped you.”
The professor responded, “I replied but didn’t bother to put the dot before com in your email address. After all, it’s only an insignificant period.”
THE CRAFT OF WRITING SHOULD BE LEARNED AND APPLIED.
Rules are important in traffic, life, and yes, in writing, whether it’s the placement of a period or capturing the theme of the entire story.When we need a doctor, employ a mechanic, or send our children to school, we want skilled, able people in those positions. Editors, agents, and readers want the same from authors. We may be called to the profession and visualize publication, but first must come the training.
We are blessed in having access to expert, experienced, and knowledgeable teachers through writers conferences, books, college courses, internet courses, DVDs, critique groups, and email loops.
But it was Albert Einstein who made famous the idea that “imagination is more important than knowledge.”
CREATIVITY MUST BE DEVELOPED AND PRACTICED.
Twenty-one published writers decided to show other writers something about the combination of craft and creativity. Each would write a short story, incorporating the same five elements.
First line: The wind was picking up. Mistaken identity Pursuit at a noted landmark Unusual form of transportation Last line: So that’s exactly what she did.
The book is titled What the Wind Picked Up (iUniverse) and showed that a story can be told many times and include the same elements yet be different because each writer has his own unique style and voice.
When a talent or special ability or inclination is discovered in persons, they’re encouraged to work harder at it, learn more, and practice more.Our imagination (creativity) makes our stories unique and original.
COMMITMENT BRINGS SUCCESS.
Those who succeed are those who don’t give up but continue to study craft, practice creativity, and work through challenges because it leads to the joy of reaching the world, whether that’s one person or many.
But don’t forget: if reaching the world requires an email, it won’t happen if you type com without the period.
Merry Christmas Moments is the tenth book in the Divine Moments series. The cover is a picture of Gigi Graham’s grandchildren looking at her mother’s (Ruth Graham) children’s book, One Wintry Night. Recently, the world has felt sorrow over the death of the famed evangelist, Billy Graham, and delight that America’s Pastor has arrived in what he called his “real home.” If you have a story about a personal encounter with, or impact upon your life as a result of the ministry or influence of Billy Graham, send your article to Yvonne that can be a tribute to him and a recorded memory for you in Moments with Billy Graham.
Four years ago, Katie McKenzie struck a discordant note in Daniel Q. Wentworth’s classroom. To further her education, she left the prairie, after leaving him an anonymous gift. Now, she returns for a visit. She has matured. He has mellowed. Circumstances bring them into close contact, and Katie extends her visit as they try to help sixteen-year-old MaryFrances, Katie’s former classmate and Daniel’s student. Friendship grows among the three. MaryFrances refuses to use her vocal talents because she no longer believes God cares for her. Katie is determined not to renew that schoolgirl crush she had on Mr. Wentworth. Daniel, remembering his former fiancée, resolves not to love another woman whose heart belong to the city. However, is the Author of Love composing a different tune of each of these lives?
Yvonne Lehman is an award-winning, best-selling author of more than 3,000,000 books in print, who founded and directed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for 25 years, is now director of the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat. She earned a Master’s Degree in English from Western Carolina University and has taught English and Creative Writing on the college level. Her latest releases include Have Dress Will Marry (Heart of a Cowboy collection, Mountainbrook Ink), Better Latte Than Never (Winged Publications), Stupid Moments and Additional Christmas Moments in the non-fiction Divine Moments series (Grace Publishing). Her popular 50th novel is Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the TITANIC, which she signs periodically at the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge TN. Yvonnelehman3@gmail.com
Several years ago, a close friend mentioned her book club was reading my first novel, Lakeside Reunion, and she asked if I’d like to come and talk at their November meeting. I agreed and enjoyed the conversation I had with them.
One of the book club attendees works as the business manager at my local library and asked if I’d be interested in speaking at our library. Of course. The library had been a huge part of my life growing up. To talk with readers as a published author…well, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. She passed my name to the adult services librarian who schedules guest authors. The adult services librarian contacted me,and we scheduled the date.
While working out the details of my speaking engagement with the librarian, I learned a few things about speaking at libraries, and I wanted to share five tips with you:
Be Prepared. During our email exchange, I asked questions about the library’s expectations for guest speakers—expected number of participants, any necessary equipment to be needed, time allotted for speaking, selling of books. By the time my speaking date arrived, I felt confident.
Be Yourself. I had asked if I should speak about anything in particular. She said, “Be yourself. Readers love to learn more about the writer behind the stories.”I opened my talk with “Everyone has a story to tell, and mine begins with a promise.” Then I shared about my writing journey and the way God’s promises allowed a small town girl’s dreams to become reality. Judging by their body language and eye contact, I assumed the guests were engaged in my talk. When I finished, several asked questions about different aspects of the story creation process and where my writing path was taking me for future stories.
Be Passionate. I’m a card-carrying member of the Weepy Women’s Club. I cry over happy moments, tissue commercials and sharing my heart.During different moments of my talk, tears flooded my eyes, especially as I shared why Lakeside Reunion was the story of my heart, getting “the call” from my agent and other exciting writing achievements. I made no apologies because that’s a part of who I am. I was able to share my faith and my love for Christian fiction without being preachy. And I saw a tear or two in the eyes of audience members.
Be Generous. At the conclusion of my talk, I gave away two gift baskets containing coffee, tea, cocoa, mugs, chocolate and CBA novels. I donated two large print copies of my first two books—Lakeside Reunion and Lakeside Family—to the library. Also, I made a donation to our Friends of the Library fund to help purchase more books. All of these contributions cost me little, and they can be deducted as business expenses on my taxes. Your contributions to your library are remembered, especially when readers check out your autographed novels and see Local Author stickers on the spines.
Be Thankful.I thanked the librarian for inviting me, and I thanked the guests for coming to join me. I followed up by sending handwritten thank you notes to the library staff who helped make my first speaking engagement at the library a very memorable experience.
If you’re interested in speaking at your library, get in touch with the staff. Many are excited to have guest speakers, especially if they are local authors. Speaking at your local library and sharing your story is a great way to build community relationships and connect with your local readers. And you may be the inspiration future writers needs to take those first steps into making their dreams become reality.
Sarah Sullivan will do whatever it takes to make her summer youth program permanent. But when she’s tasked to teach the teens basic kitchen skills, her hope goes up in flames. Not knowing the first thing about cooking, Sarah needs help. Smelling the delicious aromas coming from her neighbor’s apartment one night, she thinks she’s found her answer. Alec Seaver might know his way around pots and pans, but the lone-wolf widower doesn’t want anything to do with the free-spirited beauty next door. But after he becomes Sarah’s reluctant partner, Alec realizes that she might just be the key ingredient missing from his life.
Heart, home, and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. Represented by Rachelle Gardner, Lisa is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. She is the Operations Manager for Novel.Academy, powered by My Book Therapy. Happily married to her own real-life hero for almost thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, and playing in her craft room with friends. Visit her at lisajordanbooks.com.
Author Confession #306: I pray for imaginary people.
Before you stamp the word “Certifiable” on my forehead, let me explain.
One of the basic rules of fiction writing is: Ensure things go from bad to worse to please-don’t-make-me-do-this disastrous in the lives of your fictional characters.
Manipulating your characters is all about getting them to change. As writers, we use the circumstances we’ve plotted out to help our characters see what they believe about life. About love. About what they value. And then they have to choose to do the right thing. Sometimes they do. Sometimes they don’t.
And this is where God fits in.
As a writer who weaves biblical truth through her novels, I want God to weigh in on what’s happening in my characters’ lives. In writer-speak, this is called the “spiritual thread” of a novel – how a character changes when he or she confronts false beliefs and replaces them with God’s truth.
So, while I have to mull over a lot of things whenever I map out a novel – their Dark Moment Stories, their Wounds, their Lies, their Fears – I don’t have to fabricate the Truth they need to discover.
And that’s where praying for imaginary people comes in.
My prayer goes something like this: God, if Payton Thatcher – the main character in my upcoming release, Things I Never Told You – were a real person, what would you say to her? What does she need to know about you that’s she’s missed all together or forgotten?
Does this praying to God about a made-up heroine sound a bit silly to you? It’s not. Really. Are Payton Thatcher and her sisters, Johanna and Jillian, figments of my writer’s imagination? Yes. Are all characters in any novel I write made up? Absolutely.
But God is oh-so-real.
And that’s one of the reasons I write fiction.
Imaginary characters, meet the very real God.
And, with every turn of the page they read, I hope my very real readers meet Him too.
It’s been ten years since Payton Thatcher’s twin sister died in an accident, leaving the entire family to cope in whatever ways they could. No longer half of a pair, Payton reinvents herself as a partner in a successful party-planning business and is doing just fine—as long as she manages to hold her memories and her family at arm’s length.
But with her middle sister Jillian’s engagement, Payton’s party-planning skills are called into action. Which means working alongside her opinionated oldest sister, Johanna, who always seems ready for a fight. They can only hope that a wedding might be just the occasion to heal the resentment and jealousy that divides them . . . until a frightening diagnosis threatens Jillian’s plans and her future. As old wounds are reopened and the family faces the possibility of another tragedy, the Thatchers must decide if they will pull together or be driven further apart.
Includes discussion questions.
Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force family physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. Now Beth believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” Beth’s first women’s fiction novel for Tyndale House Publishers, Things I Never Told You, releases May 2018. Beth is a 2016 Christy Award winner, a 2016 ACFW Carol Award winner, and a 2015 RITA® finalist. Her 2014 novel, Somebody Like You, was one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2014. A November Bride was part of the Year of Wedding Series by Zondervan. Having authored nine contemporary romance novels or novellas, Beth believes there’s more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us. An established magazine writer and former editor of the leadership magazine for MOPS International, Beth blogs for Novel Rocket and The Write Conversation and also enjoys speaking to writers group and mentoring other writers. She lives in Colorado with her husband Rob, who has adjusted to discussing the lives of imaginary people, and their youngest daughter, Christa, who loves to play volleyball and enjoys writing her own stories. Connect with Beth at bethvogt.com.
“Times, they is hard and they is clampin’ down on a body’s heart like a snake that bites and won’t let go.”
My grandmother was such true woman of the Appalachians whose mountain phrases would stop you in your tracks. Yet she had great wisdom.
Times are growing more difficult. We are seeing the Word of God suppressed. Today political correctness supersedes truth.
What does that mean for us who strive to write for Him? Plain and simple – arm yourselves for battle, for there is a spiritual war raging in the heavenly realms.
Christian writers are called to a higher standard. We are the reflective image of God to the world, so how we write our words is vital. You cannot be afraid to stand your ground in writing truth. You can however, write it appropriately.
Steven James once said, “Don’t be afraid to attack difficult issues, instead approach them from consequence rather than standing on your soapbox pointing your finger.”
His method is spot on. When we approach a difficult subject, for example abortion, but we come at it from the eye of consequence, it softens the heart of the reader. Telling them how wrong they are, only serves to shut down communication. When the consequence is presented in a firm but loving way, it is hard to deny.
Our goal as Christian writers is to 1) have readers READ our work in its entirety and 2) to present a strong Christian worldview without stooping into the world’s armpit. If readers don’t read the words because they’re put off by attitude, then the message is never received.
Here are some suggestions to help you gage your ability to share truth:
Begin with yourself. It all starts in your own heart. If your words are negative, hateful, and argumentative then perhaps you need to rethink your own personal approach. Social media is the perfect example. Facebook became a platform of chaos and anger during our presidential election. How YOU respond to others, directly dictates what you need to work on internally and spiritually. If you are blasting others, then perhaps you need to review your own attitude.God has gifted us with this passion to write,and expects us to represent Him in every holy and perfect way. It doesn’t mean you can’t have an opinion, but it does mean, your representation of God in your words, deeds, and actions, should be a glory to Him.Timothy said it well, Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does NOT NEED to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 NIV. Use this gift of writing as a reflective image of God Himself. Strong words of truth cannot be squelched, but words of anger and hate, destroy.
Study phrasing and inflection – How are your words interpreted? There are always those who misread, or read more into a piece than is written. But you can study and reflect on the words you’ve penned. Harsh sentences can be made truth without preaching. Work hard to phrase things in a way that allows them to speak loud, but not in anger. The lack of inflection is our biggest enemy in writing.It’s imperative you re-read, and rework paragraphs that are easily misunderstood.
Know your facts – It’s easy to speak from opinion, but hard to research and present the accuracy of the fact and write it in love. Our opinions are okay, we simply need to verify it is the right time, place, or venue.
Be prepared to take the heat – Be prepared for attack and respond with love. Our innate desire is to be “right”, defend our work. This happens continually with reviews. If you’ve experienced a mean review, you understand the need to defend yourself. Take the high road. No response or a simple response of thanks. Here’s an example: A reviewer trashed me over subject matter, but then took it a step further,calling me ashameful human. The review went from dislike of the book to a direct stab. It was hard not to respond in anger, instead I wrote:
Thank you for your honest review. I appreciate the investment of your valuable time.
I satisfied the need to respond, and it was done nicely.
Don’t be afraid to write for God. Accept His call and use your gifts. Then pray for the appropriate way to speak, present, and share the story placed in your heart. There’s no need to stoop the to the world’s level. It will press you to comply. Raise the bar. Be “holy and acceptable” in all you do.
Lochiel Ogle was born with a red-wine birthmark—and it put her life in jeopardy from the moment she entered the world. Mountain folks called it “the mark of the devil,” and for all the evil that has plagued her nineteen-year existence, Lochiel is ready to believe that is true. And the evil surely took control of the mind of the boy who stole her as an infant, bringing her home for his mother to raise.Abused and abandoned by the only people she knows as family, Lochiel is rescued by a peddler and given the first glimpse of love she has ever known. The truth of her past is gradually revealed as is the fact that she is still hunted by a brother driven to see her dead. Unsure if there’s anyone she can truly trust, Lochiel is faced with a series of choices: Will she continue to run for escape or will she face her past and accept the heartbreaking secrets it reveals? Which will truly free her?
Cindy K. Sproles is the cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries, a best-selling author, and a speaker. She teaches nationally at writers conferences as well as mentoring new writers. Cindy serves as the managing editor of SonRise Devotionals and Straight Street Books, both imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is a contributing writer to The Write Conversation and Novel Rocket.com. You can visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com.
Writers are bombarded with how to prep for writing an unforgettable character. We want every story to be deeper than the previous one, and that means depth of character.
Over the years of writing, I’ve gathered many valuable resources. While I use an extensive character sketch that fits my method of writing and personality, the following are 7 of my favorite questions I pose to my character. The answers provide additional layers to what motivates my character into action and why the character behaves in a particular way.
What do you want from life so badly that it’s all you can think about?
We are what possesses our hearts and minds. Those things can be exemplary or evil; the ways to obtain them can be valiant or diabolical.
What is your worst fear?
Fears come in all shapes and forms: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. If a character is unable to tame a fear, the trait will stop the character from being his/her best. A writer creates a setting in which the hero or heroine is able to overcome the fear. Readers are thrilled and look for our next book.
What promise(s) will you make your reader?
Promises keep a reader turning pages. Unfilled promises diminish the character. The reader feels betrayed and can no longer trust the writer to deliver a satisfactory story.
How do your family and friends view you? Or do you know?
The insight a character’s family and friends offer when he/she isn’t around is crucial to discovering the character’s inner workings. Is the character wearing a facade? Is the character manipulative? Does the character realize what is being said behind their back, or does he/she even care?
What is your biggest flaw and how do you plan to overcome it?
Every character has flaws, just like we do. A hero/heroine wants to take action and eliminate those unfavorable traits. The character sees value in using a strength to defeat the flaw and is willing to accept the challenge. This can be a tough undertaking and takes courage to acquire tools to be an overcomer.
How did your mother comfort you when you were a child?
A character remembers a mother’s words of comfort or lack of. Basic nurturing from a mother or mother figure helps shape a character’s emotional growth. A character who receives negative emotional feedback has difficulty handling life’s varied experiences. A true hero or heroine takes steps to deal with emotional issues.
How did your father comfort you when you were a child?
Men have reputations of being unemotional, stoic, and unsympathetic. That isn’t necessarily true, but how a father or father figure comforts a child is critical to a character’s understanding of male figures.
Seven questions with critical consequences for a character’s growth and change. What is your favorite question to ask a character?
When Saudi Prince Omar bin Talal visits Houston to seek cancer treatment for his mother, an attempt on his life puts all agencies on high alert. FBI Special Agent Kord Davidson is the lead on the prince’s protective detail because of their long-standing friendship, but he’s surprised – and none too happy – when the CIA brings one of their operatives, Monica Alden, in on the task force after the assassination attempt. Kord and Monica must quickly put aside inter-agency squabbles, however, when they learn the prince has additional motives for his visit – plans to promote stronger ties with the US and encourage economic growth and westernization in his own country. Plans that could easily incite a number of suspects both in the US and in countries hostile to Saudi Arabia. Worse yet, the would-be assassin always seems to be one step ahead of them, implicating someone close to the prince – or the investigation. But who would be willing to commit high treason, and can Kord and Monica stop them in time?
DiAnn Mills is an award winning writer who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She currently has more than fifty-five books published. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won placements through the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards and Inspirational Reader’s Choice awards. DiAnn won the Christy Award in 2010 and 2011. DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a Craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. Find her on the web at www.diannmills.com.
Have you ever looked at another author’s success, new contract, or Amazon ranking and thought, “they’re so lucky?”
But the longer I’m in the writing business, the less I believe in luck. Instead, most often what really happened in the background is the author was at the right place, at the right time, with the right stuff. Luck had nothing to do with it. Hard work and savvy skills did.
Let me explain by using examples from my own life.
When I first started pitching my book, there were hardly any agents interested in Christian fantasy. So after being turned down, I decided I would continue on without an agent. I found a publisher who was looking for both Christian fantasy and I didn’t need an agent. So I submitted my book and a year later, Marcher Lord Press acquired Daughter of Light.
Years went by and I continued to write for Marcher Lord Press, then Enclave Publishing. I had no agent. I briefly thought about pursuing one, but there was still a limited pool of agents who would be interested in representing what I wrote, so I just dismissed the thought and kept on writing.
During my time at Enclave, I developed a relationship with the owner, Steve Laube. One day he approached me and asked if I was looking for an agent, and if so, he would like to submit his name as a prospect. I was floored. I wasn’t looking for one, but if I was, he would definitely be someone I would be interested in. Of course, I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass me by, so after a flurry of emails, I decided to sign on with him.
Luck had nothing to do with me obtaining an agent. Instead, years of hard work and pursuing my writing and being with Enclave brought me to a place where my path crossed with Steve’s, ending with an agent contract.
Right place. Right time. Right stuff.
A year later, I was waiting for the second book in my steampunk series to release and at that point, there was no date in sight. In fact, I was looking at other options, including self-publishing, in order to finish the series. If you don’t already know this, patience is a virtue you will definitely need as a writer!
So as I waited to find out what would happen with my series, I started writing the first book in a whole new fantasy series. There was no contract on it, no deadline. But I didn’t want to sit around twiddling my thumbs while I waited, so writing a new book seemed like a good idea.
Shortly after I finished the rough draft on Mark of the Raven, Steve emailed me and said there was a chance that Bethany House might be looking for a fantasy series and was I interested? I decided to take the chance and sent off my manuscript. At the same time, I now had a release date for my second steampunk book. Then I found out Bethany House wanted my new fantasy series. I was so glad I spent those months writing while I waited instead of sitting back.
So why do I share these two situations? Because it wasn’t about luck. It was about being faithful in the little things.
What does that look like? Write everyday. Make friends with other writers, not to use them, but to just be friends. Place yourself in situations where something can happen, like conferences, writing retreats, and mentoring opportunities. Be a part of social media as a person and enjoying those relationships. Be available.
Don’t sit back and wait for lady luck to hand you that contract or review. Rather, be ready. Have that book written. Hone your craft. Then, when the time comes, you’re ready to take that next step.
Lady Selene is the heir to the Great House of Ravenwood and the secret family gift of dreamwalking. As a dreamwalker, she can enter a person’s dreams and manipulate their greatest fears or desires. For the last hundred years, the Ravenwood women have used their gift of dreaming for hire to gather information or to assassinate.
As she discovers her family’s dark secret, Selene is torn between upholding her family’s legacy–a legacy that supports her people–or seeking the true reason behind her family’s gift.
Her dilemma comes to a head when she is tasked with assassinating the one man who can bring peace to the nations, but who will also bring about the downfall of her own house.
One path holds glory and power, and will solidify her position as Lady of Ravenwood. The other path holds shame and execution. Which will she choose? And is she willing to pay the price for the path chosen?