Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Well, I have three crazy writing partners. None help with plotting. None help with critiquing. But all add a level of surprise to my writing sessions.
This is Cookie. She's my big, Himalayan baby. We've had her for over thirteen years and she's shared moves, new babies, new homes, new yards, and everthing else that we've been through.
She likes to hop on my lap or my laptop, which is extra helpful, while I write.
I can't imagine writing without her!
This is our guinea pig, Domino. He had a brother Snickers who passed on last year. The kids made a special celebration for his third birthday. He used to hang out in the office with me, but he moved to another area of the house. I sometimes miss his chatter, but I stroll down the hall with strawberry tops now and then.
Here's our new addition. Sophie, the mini-dachshund, or Sophilicious as I like to call her. She's a sweet little weenie-dog, but she's added a level of excitement to writing I'm not sure I'd properly prepared myself for. When I'm in the middle of an intense scene, I peek at her only to find she's eating a shoe, or tearing up a towel. I've had to move my laptop to our kitchen because she tends to get in trouble in our office. Still, it's fun to have a warm puppy curled up on my lap when I'm writing.
Cookie and Sophie do not love each other yet. However, Sophie adores Cookie. A little too much. As soon as Sophie sees the big pile of fluff walk by, she jumps on Cookie's head, thrilled to have another animal to play with, but Cookie, well, she's just not into it. They've made progress. Cookie only hisses occasionally, and I haven't heard her gutteral growl in at least a week. Maybe they'll be friends after all?
Notice Cookie's glowing eye and her defensive body language. Everything about her says, I hate my life!
Poor kitty. Something tells me she'll survive this too.
Who are your writing partners? Do you have any furry helpers?
Join me on Friday to set one goal for the upcoming week!
Monday, March 29, 2010
Photo by moondaisy
I didn't enter the Golden Heart this year. I simply had nothing ready. So when I scanned the list of finalists, I clapped in delight for a name I recognized, Keli Gwyn. Keli's been finaling and winning the contest circuit all winter for her book, Violets and Violins, and she also recently landed Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary as her agent. For those of you familiar with Keli's blog Romance Writers on the Journey and her personal blog, Keli Gwyn, you'll understand why I couldn't stop smiling at her exciting news. Keli's just a generous, fantastic person!
When I congratulated her via a direct message on Twitter, she humbly sympathized with all who didn't final. Her response provoked my thoughts all day. I hadn't even considered those who'd entered and didn't final, and here she was aching over their disappointment. Have I mentioned her generosity? Yes?
Well, I'll follow it up with class. She has class.
Contests emotionally open up a thirty-gallon vat of worms. On the one hand, we desperately want to final. Are we being selfish or arrogant? I don't think so. Some of us desire feedback from judges, and others crave validation. A contest final means someone loved our writing. Who doesn't want that? It can also pave the way for an agent to take a chance on us or for our manuscript to get into our dream editor's hands.
But what if we don't final? Oh, the crushing disappointment! It hurts. Feedback from judges on non-winning entries can slice us to the bone. And validation? It's difficult to feel validated when you have no chance of winning, not to mention, the manuscript didn't land in your dream editor's hands.
Here's the final blow. Your friends may have finaled. Your critique partner may have entered the same contest and finaled, while your entry sailed home to you.
Your response may confuse you. Maybe you're genuinely happy for your friends, but you're a bit envious too. Maybe you're slightly bitter, what do they have that I don't? Or maybe an uglier emotion rears its head--spite. You think you deserved it and no one else did.
The best way to deal with contest emotions is with a dose of humility. If you've finaled, take Keli's example and remember the feelings of your competitors, but by all means, celebrate! If you haven't, try to put the experience in perspective and not spiral into the ugly emotions of envy, bitterness, and spite. They'll only make you feel worse.
In a few months, American Christian Fiction Writers will announce the finalists for the Genesis contest, similar to the Golden Heart. I know many of you entered. I submitted an entry to the Genesis contest and my critique partners did too. While it would be fabulous if we all made it to the final round, I'm realistic that it probably won't work out that way.
Handling disappointment becomes easier when we remind ourselves that whatever the outcome, God has a wonderful plan for us. We took a big risk--dreamt big!--and we should congratulate ourselves on taking a chance.
Have you been disappointed by a contest result? Have any of your friends won a
contest you entered? And did you enter any contests this year?
Join me on Wednesday for sickeningly sweet photos of my furry writing partners!
Friday, March 26, 2010
Photo by katmere
Last week, I was blown away by the great goals! Thank you to all of the new commenters for sharing yours. I'm eager to see how everyone did.
Some of you weren't able to meet your previous goals. That's okay. Stop and look at the overall picture. Be proud of any forward momentum.
My goal last week? No writing or writing related activities after 5:00 pm.
How did I do? Umm... I did okay. I skipped out to the library Wednesday evening for an uninterrupted hour of reading blogs. Do I regret it? Nope!
My new goal? Organize the huge pile of old clothes in my closet and drop it off to charity. (Thanks Quiet Spirit for motivating me!)
How did you do?
Last week's goals:
The Alliterative Allomorph: Spend time with fiance!
Joanne: Finish revising that pesky section of memoir
Patrice: Get manicure in anticipation of MVRWA's Spring Book Lover's Event (Anyone in the Toledo, Ohio area Saturday, stop by Sanger Library for this fun event!)
Georgiana: Read another book
Keli: Enjoy time with daughter who is home for spring break
Diane J: Forward progress!
Elana: Stop stressing about things you don't have control over
December: Edit and finish query letter/synopsis class
Katie: Smile and laugh with son each day
K. Harrington: Get back to novel (what does happen at the Greyhound Station??)
Jaime: Find Bible! (And kiss baby's chubby cheeks! Okay, I added that one!)
Erica: Finish critique's of friend's manuscript
Jody: Take walk with daughters (please, let the weather hold up!)
Nancy: Watch a fun movie
Karen L: Organize desk and finish article
Susan J. R.: Re-write eight chapters
Maria: Watch something fun with family
Angie M: Write daily!
Quiet Spirit: Organize clothes to donate to rummage sale
Lynn: Morning pages, comment one blog daily
T. Anne: Cross the 50K mark on WIP!!
Em-Musing: Figure out social networks like Facebook
Sharon Mayhew: Speak kindly to self
Kara: More family & exercising time
Patti: Turn book in to editor
What would enhance your life this week?
Thank you for sharing and best wishes on accomplishing one goal!
Feel free to list one goal in the comment section and update us on how you did with last week's. Don't be intimidated if you're new to this. I love reading everyone's goals and encourage newcomers to participate, but if you aren't comfortable, feel free to lurk!
Have a wonderful weekend!
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Another friend chimed in that she had one too. I'd heard of this concept before but had never taken the time to do it.
"Vision board?" I asked. "No, I don't. Tell me about it."
She explained how making a visual picture board of her aspirations helped make them come true. Inspired to give it a try, the next day I Googled vision boards. If you're interested in creating one of your own, check out the excellent article by Christine Kane, How to Make a Vision Board.
Once I had the basic information, I decided to get really wild and blow a wad of money on various magazines. I'm not shy about my magazine addiction, so spending money on the process didn't bother me at all. In fact, this vision board stuff made it acceptable--admirable even--to purchase more magazines!
I hadn't even created my vision board, and I loved it already.
Before I purchased the glossy beauties, I spent a little time thinking about what I want from life. I've already been blessed with a happy, healthy family. My church and volunteer life satisfy me too. Therefore, my vision board would focus on the two things I yearn for: publication and personal desires such as traveling more.
With my goals in mind, I opened the magazines, and inhaled the aroma of fragrant, colored paper. Ahh... I cut out anything that sparked an emotion and set the pieces in a pile.
A few days later, I retrieved the poster board hiding in my office closet and began arranging the pictures, tossing any that didn't feel relevant, and leaving areas of white space to write on or for future pictures to be pasted.
The end result thrilled me. I can't wait to hang it in my office where I will see it every day. This is what it looks like:
Have you ever made a vision board? Do you need a good excuse to buy a stack of magazines? Try it! It's fun!
Join me on Friday for a recap of our goals!
Monday, March 22, 2010
Photo by dawnzy
I walked around a local park for an hour, keeping my eyes open. A male cardinal perched on a log only twenty feet from me. Two butterflies (in March? In Michigan??) hovered over my head. Later that afternoon, a chubby woodchuck raced before me.
Amazing? Not really. Cute, though.
Later that afternoon, at a park near a river, I happened to glance up. A patch of rainbow misted through the clouds. It hadn't rained, and indeed, no rain had been forecasted. Instead of returning my attention to the rushing water, the park, or the seagulls squawking about, I searched the rest of the sky.
Two rainbow rings converged and circled the sun. I've never seen anything like it. They were bright, intense, unusual. I couldn't glance away.
I knew it as soon as I saw it.
The next day, a mallard duck stood on the roof of my two-story house. I wish it would have stayed long enough for me to take a picture!
Have you ever had a sensation that something different would happen that day? Did you listen? Did you scoff? Did something out of the ordinary happen?
Join me on Wednesday when we'll talk about vision boards!
Friday, March 19, 2010
Photo by hamed
What's your biggest emotional burden right now? What stresses you the most today? Take a few minutes to think of one thing you can do to lessen that stress. Here are a few made-up scenarios:
I haven't met my word count in three days--okay, three weeks. I'll never get published at this rate.
Please, do not set a goal related to word count. It will only stress you out more. Instead, consider setting a "nice for you" goal, such as renting a movie you've wanted to see, asking a friend over for dinner, or even soaking in a long, hot bath. Pressure added to pressure does not make one more productive.
My entire family had the flu all week, and I haven't touched my manuscript because I've been knee-deep in vomit. I can't stand the thought of putting off my revisions another day.
This is a case where giving yourself permission to revise for an hour would be beneficial to you. It's good and right to take care of the family, but take a break, however small, to work on your dreams.
I'm so mad at myself. The diet I promised to stick to on January 2 died a pathetic death on January 6, and now spring is almost here. At this rate, I won't be wearing shorts until September.
Be kind to yourself. A five minute walk or a new lipstick will do wonders for your mood. If you feel good, you'll be more likely to do nice things for yourself. If nothing else, don't allow the nasty thoughts in your head. You wouldn't talk to your best friend like that, so don't talk to yourself like that either.
I LOVE reading all of the goals you set. Enthusiasm is contagious, don't you think?
Here are last week's goals:
Jaime: Study Bible every day
CJ: No obsessing or worrying about eldest child's trip to Rome
Tamika: Get stellar word count in
Karen L: Complete two articles
Susan M: Finish rewrites
Joanne: Finish revising the problem section of memoir
Patrice: Send off taxes
Terri: Finish editing a friend's book
Diane: Submit to new agent
Nancy: Fret not
Patti: Hand ROS to editor by Tuesday
Maria: Pull together 30-day devotional and start shopping it
Susan R: Continue consolidating chapters into one document
Angie: Write daily
T. Anne: Make sense of WIP
Quiet Spirit: Study An Introduction to Christian Writing by Ethel Herr
Empi: Undecided between a. cleaning room, b. laundry, c. pedicure, or d. make corn chowder. Empi, I'd go with c. pedicure--just saying!
As for me, yes, I finished reading James Scott Bell's Revision and Self-Editing. Woo-hoo!
My goal this week? I've been busy, and when I'm busy, I try to fit MORE in. Smart huh? Not so much. This week, I'm re-claiming my habit of avoiding anything writing related after 5:00 PM. (I probably shouldn't rely on the phrase "it's five o'clock somewhere" right now, should I? No? Okay.)
Did you meet your goals? I'm dying to hear the new ones! Any newcomers, feel free to leave your goal in the comments or if you aren't comfortable with sharing, that's okay too!
Have a wonderful weekend!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Rules to Accept the Award:
◦Put the logo on your blog in your post.
◦Pass the award onto 12 bloggers.
◦Link the nominees within your post.
◦Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blogs.
◦Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award.
1. Karen Lange at Write Now
2. Amy de Trempe at Timeless Romance
3. Liz Czukas at Liz Czucas
4. Karen Harrington at Scobberlotch
5. Elana Johnson at Elana Johnson
6. Shannon Messenger at Ramblings of a Wannabe Scribe
(Hey, did you notice I cheated? Shh...I didn't give out 12 awards. Don't tell, okay?)
Sharon over at Random Thoughts gave me the Creative Writer Award. Thanks Sharon!
I am passing on the Creative Writer Award to
Amber J. at Perpetual Ramblings
and Diane Estrella at Diane Estrella
Danyelle over at Myth-Takes, Constance Phillips at Constance Phillips, A Writer's Musings, and Sharon Mayhew at Random Thoughts gave me the "Creative Writer" Blog Award. Thanks Danyelle, Connie, and Sharon!
1. Thank the person who gave this to you.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you.
4. Tell up to six outrageous lies about yourself, and at least one outrageous truth.
5. Nominate up to seven "Creative Writers" who might have fun coming up with outrageous lies.
6. Post links to the seven blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know you nominated them.
Lies and truths. Hmm...
1. I love spiders. We had a black widow on our front porch, and I refused to allow my husband to kill it.
2. I once sang "Strangers in the Night" on a Karoake machine in a mall in Guadalajara, Mexico.
3. This gal was born to play sports. Name the team sport--volleyball, basketball, softball--I'm awesome at them all!
4. I'm terrified of open water and would never swim in the ocean unless it was close to shore.
5. I had a pet snake named "Sammy" when I was very young.
6. Here are a few events I adore--a rodeo, a tractor pull, any re-enactment of early American history, a logger's show, a free concert in the park, and a county fair.
7. If I could choose another career, it would hands-down be a nurse. Blood doesn't make me pass out at all.
(There are two truth statements. Number 2 and number 6. We did have a black widow spider on our porch, and my husband and hero killed it for me. I'm horrible at sports, don't mind open water, would never have a pet snake, and am a giant baby around blood!)
Here are the nominees for the Creative Writer Blogger award:
1. Jo Treggiari at The Curious Misadventures of Jo Treggiari
2. Karin Beery at There Has to be a Beginning
The final award comes from my good friend Tracy Madison, author of A Taste of Magic, A Breath of Magic, and A Stroke of Magic. It's the Circle of Friends Blog award.
I'm passing the Circle of Friends Award to
1. Danyelle Leafty at Danyelle Leafty, formerly Myth-Takes.
2. Sharon Mayhew at Random Thoughts
and my awesome critique partners:
3. Wendy P. Miller at All in a Day's Thought
4. Terri Tiffany at Terri Tiffany: Inspirational Writer
5. Cindy R. Wilson at Cindy R. Wilson
Thank you all for stopping by! Be sure to come back on Friday to check in and set goals for next week!
Monday, March 15, 2010
Photo by justbecause
When we have big dreams, we need to put in big effort.
How would you rate the amount of effort you are putting in to making your dreams come true?
I'm not trying to make you squirm or feel guilty. Most of us lead ridiculously busy lives and simply cannot spend the majority of our hours striving to make one dream come true. But I know many of you routinely give up free time to keep advancing.
So today, take a serious look at how hard you are working to make your dream come true. Here are a few questions to ask.
1. How many days this week did I spend time working toward my dream?
2. Did I have a focused plan beforehand or did I waste time deciding what to do each session?
3. What did I accomplish this week? (Example: How many pages did I write or revise?)
4. How do I feel about this accomplishment? (Frustrated because I expected to get more done? Proud because I exceeded my expectations?)
5. Based on this week's performance, can I honestly say I am actively working to make my dream come true? If the answer is no, why not? What can I do to make next week better?
Big dreams take many steps to become reality. Stay focused.
Join me on Wednesday for more inspiration to make our dreams reality.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Photo by 44603071@N00/1347498861
Here's the round-up:
Katie G: Read a book to son each night
Jennifer S: Run three miles and write 4K
Janna: Eat better
Karen: Watch calories
Beauty: Visit two godchildren
Jody: Walk with daughters and dog on warm days
Wendy: Drink more water
Diane: Date night with hubby
Joanne: Shopping and dinner with daughters
Tamika: Three nights snuggled on the couch with hubby
Tess: Find joy in moments and laugh with kids
Sallyo: Load pictures onto digital frame
Kara: P90X workout and read bedtime story to kids each day
Patti: Give "The Rythym of Secrets" to editor
Erica: Play board game with son
Maria: Pamper daughter for her 18th birthday
Elana: Workout for 30 minutes, four days this week
Nancy: Say "Hello Beautiful" in mirror (love this!!)
Robyn: Stick to diet
Susan J. R: Relax and enjoy sunshine
Quiet Spirit: Continue progress on house work
Sherrinda: Clean out closet and enjoy sunshine
Lisa and Laura: Finish reading current book
Jeanette: Exercise three times
And my snazzy goal: give myself a manicure and pedicure
So... How did you do? I almost put it off. It's so easy to put these things off, isn't it? But I could not let you down. Monday night, I clipped, filed, and painted, and guess what? It felt great and my nails look decent. Best of all, I feel terrific!
This week, feel free to list ANY goal--it can be work, family, health, or just about you.
Here's mine: I will finish studying James Scott Bell's Revision and Self-Editing.
What would make you feel terrific this week? What one goal could you accomplish?
Please list your goal in the comments and check back next Friday for a progress report!
Have a great weekend!
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Photo by pumpkincat210
When an author gets an agent, she often finds herself with a new set of responsibilities. There are contracts to be signed, possible revisions to be made, and the nail-biting waiting period of shopping the book to various publishers. Then, when her book sells, the responsibilities mount. Now she must make necessary revisions on a deadline. She may be contracted for another book, and yep, that means she'll need to write it. Oh, don't forget about creating a website, dealing with line edits, and the myriad of other new tasks. With all these amazing developments, it can be hard to find the time to savor what's happening.
Why not document this exciting period? This is the only time you'll be a debut author. It's the only time the process will be completely new. Don't let the days slip by in a blur. You're going to want to remember this time, and, if you're like me, your memory won't always come through for you.
You could create a scrapbook and label it "My First Book Deal." Take pictures of you holding your contract, your advance check, you name it! Take a photo of your current writing space--every author should have a "before" picture to look back on. Consider taking a few minutes each week to write in a personal journal about your feelings. Maybe you're terrified no publisher will contract your book, or if you have a contract, that you'll miss your deadline. Write this down. Don't forget to write about how thrilling it is to have a deadline, to send out your revisions, to hold the cover of your book in your hands.
Savoring your first foray into publishing isn't self-indulgent, it's what you've dreamed about for a long time. Make it fun!
Join me on Friday for our goal updates.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Photo by fabricio
I've been a subscriber to UsWeekly for years. Stars on the rise to fame often meet their spouse, get big endorsements, and find themselves invited to glitzy events. But a few years later, the same celebrities often get divorced, no longer hold the public's interest, and find themselves locked out of exclusive events.
Getting published is a slow process. Many of us will experience a period of problems during this time. The problems won't all be writing related, but they'll mount and overwhelm our optimism about future publication. It's like the water dripping torture (sorry, I know that's not the technical term, but you know what I'm talking about). Each new problem will wear us down.
Don't get depressed if your problems begin to accumulate. Recognize you're going through a challenging phase. Try not to let it affect your writing. Cut yourself more slack, take a short nap now and then, and give yourself a huge pat on the back for everything you do right.
We can't avoid the rough times in our lives, but we can continue to work toward our goal every day until the hard times are behind us.
Are you going through a rough patch? A happy period? Or somewhere in-between?
Join me on Wednesday when we look at the flip side.
Friday, March 5, 2010
Photo by aunto
One goal. Not career related.
What? Is she losing it? Didn't she just say she enjoyed reading other's writing goals?
Of course I did. I'd love to read your food diary, personal journal, and your text messages too. I'm way too interested in other people's lives!
But sometimes we need more than career goals. Sometimes we need...something different. We need to do something that feeds our soul.
So here's the deal. Every Friday, list ONE thing you can do during the week to feel good about yourself.
One Goal Fridays. It might be fun! And if it isn't, well, One Goal Friday will go bye-bye, I promise!
Your goal must not be work related. It can be anything important, fun, or interesting to you. Maybe it's to try that new exercise DVD you purchased in January. Maybe it's to wear something in your closet you haven't worn since last March. Or to download the song you've been singing every morning on the way to work, to play a board game with your oldest child, or plan a special dinner for your spouse. You know what would make you smile. Go on, make that your goal!
So here's mine. Looking at next week's calendar, I can see it's full. I'm signed up to help with several activities at my childrens' school. With that in mind--brace yourselves for this mind-blowing ambition--my goal is to give myself a manicure and pedicure.
Yes, it sounds silly, but I tend to let personal things slide when I'm busy. By taking care of my nails, I'm making a statement that I'm important too.
What is your goal?
Please write your goal in the comments, and check back next week. I'll post everyone's goals next Friday, and we'll see how we did. If you're the super-busy type, maybe this week would be a good time to let yourself off the hook on an unimportant task. For example: To NOT call the cable company about the bill. Sometimes we all need a breather from minor pressures.
(You do not have to participate! Feel free to lurk or even encourage others to meet their goal.)
Enjoy your weekend!
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Photo by aussiegall
It's easy to let ourselves down. It's much harder to let other people down. That's one reason why celebrities hire personal trainers, personal chefs, hairstylists, publicists, and personal assistants. They need to present a beautiful picture to the world, and they need to present it often. If they have a bad day, their team forces them to buck up and perform.
But I'm a writer. A not-yet-published writer. One without deadlines except those personally imposed. How can I stay motivated without a team of professionals pushing me?
Goals are important. A pre-determined schedule is important. Belief in success is important.
But when you're at your wits end, you need more than goals, a schedule or belief in your abilities.
You need to bribe yourself.
Yeah. Bribe. Yourself.
As in "I'm buying the new Norah Jones cd as soon as I finish this chapter," or "I'm diving into the Dove chocolate bar as soon as I write one page."
Also, gather some happy supplies--you know the guilty pleasures we all indulge in. If your tea is the highlight of your day, break out the gorgeous china and drink it in that. Maybe you have a feel-good outfit? Go put it on. Blast your favorite music, look through old photo albums, write in a pretty journal--whatever makes you feel great. Sometimes we lack motivation because we don't feel very good about life in general.
What makes you happy when you're feeling blah?
Inspiration: The Seven Rules to Staying Motivated. It's a handy list to pin on your bulletin board.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Photo by kkoshy
This time of year can feel like the final leg of a marathon, and that's why we need to hold tightly to our dreams. We cannot quit because we're vitamin D deprived or life isn't going our way. We cannot slow down because we haven't met our goals two months in a row, or because we got another rejection. We cannot push our writing aside to spring clean, watch re-runs, or moan about the fact that it's almost time to don shorts again.
This is the time to dig deep, run hard, and give it everything we have. This is when we must look forward--not at where we are or where we've been--but where we want to be.
I'm excited. I can see my dreams falling into place. Maybe not this month--maybe not even this year--but I can see them. I trust my dreams will come true. I know where I want to be.
Where do you want to be?
Inspiration: Donna MacMeans will be speaking at an upcoming MVRWA chapter meeting. Her story is fascinating. I thought you'd enjoy reading about Donna's journey to publication. More author journey's can be found at http://www.writeattitude.net/.
Have a terrific first day of March!