Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Driving the Final Stake into the Doubt Monster’s Heart

I keep writing, keep submitting, 
and keep getting rejected.
Maybe God wants me 
to being doing something else.

Honest truth? Maybe He does. 

BUT (an I’ve always got a big but) maybe He doesn’t. In a freakish sort of way, this doubt is actually good for you. It keeps you on your knees, seeking God’s will for how you manage the time He’s given you.

I don’t know if God wants you to be a writer, but I do know this. He wants you to put Him first, above writing, above anything. When you obsess over publication, networking, or anything other than Him, it’s called idolatry. And if that’s the case, then yes, you should be doing something else. You should be focusing on Him.

It’s healthy to check your heart motivations now and then to discover where your priorities lie. If this doubt rears it’s ugly head and prods you in that direction, that’s a good thing.

It’s not, however, good to wallow in this doubt. Don’t consort with this beastie and make him your best pal. If you can honestly say you’re putting God first and still the desire to write doesn’t go away, then pull out your silver pen and drive it right into the monster’s heart. 

And don’t forget...

This is your last chance to leave me a comment and have your name entered for tomorrow's drawing of a free signed copy of this Viking tale of honor and sacrifice (with some romance thrown into the mix, of course).

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Slaying Doubt Monster Two

Other writers get published, but not me.
Maybe my writing is stupid.

Let’s face it. Writers are an insecure bunch. Why? Because they pour their heart and soul into a story, revealing inner secrets that they’d never say out loud. When that work gets rejected, it is personal. There’s just no way around it.

BUT (and I’ve always got a big but) there is a stake that can be driven through this ugly monster’s heart. It’s called sharpening your craft.

If you continue to learn and hone your writing skill, this particular doubt will simply turn into a lie. You can always choose to believe the lie if you like, but you won’t have to. Your writing won’t be stupid if you continue your writerly education by attending workshops, going to conferences, and reading craft books.

So go ahead and take that on-line course. Pick up a how-to from Writers Digest. Attend a local writers group and glean some new writing tips. This is one monster you’ll have to slay with your own muscle.

And don’t forget...

You’ve got 3 more days to leave a comment and enter your name into the Nov. 1st drawing for a signed copy of this Viking tale of honor and sacrifice.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Slaying the Doubt Monster

Call it stress. Name it fear. Personally, I prefer to think of the current onslaught of doubt whapping me upside the head as the Doubt Monster. Without mercy, this wicked ugly creature frequently attacks writers, and he’s sure doing a number on me right now.

So for the next few days here at Writer Off the Leash, let’s slay this beast together, shall we? After all, there’s safety in numbers. Today we’ll tackle...

I stink at this writing game, 
as evidenced by my lack of garnering a publisher. 
Maybe I should just give up.

After years and years of trying to land a mainstream publisher, with the accompanying years and years of rejection, this doubt is frog shaped and stealthy. It creeps up on you and smothers you slowly.

For awhile, especially at the beginning of your writing journey, you hope that this time, this manuscript, will be the lucky winner. When that doesn’t happen, you begin to wonder if this sickening rollercoaster ride is worth the price of the ticket.

What’s the silver bullet for this particular beastie? Perseverance. Immersing yourself in a new manuscript is a great way to beat back this doubt because you’ll be too busy thinking about plot twists and character development to consider giving up.

That’s my plan. On Thursday, I’ll start a fresh WIP. Admittedly, that leaves me open for the next few days to take a swipe or two from this doubt monster, but I think I can ward it off if I simply start working on the layout of my first few chapters.

There. That didn’t draw too much blood, did it? Stop back tomorrow with sword and torch in hand, and we’ll slash and burn another creature.

And don’t forget...

You’ve got 3 more days to leave a comment and enter your name into the Nov. 1st drawing for a signed copy of this Viking tale of honor and sacrifice.

Friday, October 26, 2012

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

Snoopy isn't the only one who has trouble starting the Great American Novel. Here are the top 3 issues to consider when beginning a new story...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

That Creepy Time of Year

Houses in my new neighborhood are decked out in spider webs draped on railings and bushes. Yards are full of fake tombstones, and it seems like everyone has the requisite plastic skeleton reclining on an Adirondack chair or hanging from a tree branch.

No, I didn't move into a shmaltzy quasi-evil part of town. It's simply that creepy Halloween time of year, and while I'm against celebrating darkness and evil, I do enjoy a good creepy book now and then, told from a Christian worldview, of course. Where in the world would I find that?

Check out the Solitary Tales by Travis Thrasher. I'll soon have my hot little hands on the fourth and final installment, Hurt, but it's best to start with book 1, Solitary, followed by Gravestone, then Temptation.

Here's a blurb from the most recent:

When Chris Buckley first encountered the mysteries of creepy Solitary, North Carolina, he had little idea how far he would fall into the town's shadows. After losing the love of his life, Chris tried to do things his way. He hunted answers. Then he gave up trying to find them.

But now Christ comes back to Solitary knowing there's a purpose for his being there. As he watches his place in a twisted and evil bloodline become clear, Chris waits for the last battle--and wonders who will be left when he finally makes his stand.

The fourth and final book in the Solitary Tales shines light into deep darkness as Chris's journey to Solitary comes to a dramatic close.

Disclaimer: This series is not for the weak-hearted...hence teenagers will eat it up.

So if you're looking for something creepy to do this Halloween season that isn't inherently evil, grab your own copies of the Solitary Tales.

October is leave-a-comment-and-win-a-free-book time here at Writer Off the Leash. Yes, it's that easy. Just jot down a note for me from now through the end of the month and I'll draw one lucky winner to receive a signed copy of UNDERCURRENT on Nov. 1st.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What Are You Looking At?

"Success is shy--
it won't come out while you're watching."
~ Tennessee Williams

Writers tend to have tunnel vision. Either we're focused on a particular plot we're crafting, or we're so deep into character development that real people fade into the background. But the absolute worst is when a writer fixates on successfully publishing a work-in-progress (WIP).

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying success shouldn't be in your crosshairs. Nor am I saying anything against publication. I'm just saying that when publication becomes your be-all and end-all, your writing is going to suffer.

Why? Great question!

Such a fixation shows in your writing. It becomes either stilted or sloppy or both. Overt pandering to the market can make writing so bland, cold oatmeal is more appealing. Lumpy, cold oatmeal.

So set that desire for success up on the shelf while you're working on a manuscript. It'll be there waiting for you when you're finished, and that's when you'll really need it. It takes a lot of gumption to present your baby to editors and agents.

Don't forget the rest of October is your chance to leave a comment and possibly win a signed copy of UNDERCURRENT

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Say What?

One of my critique buddies, Lisa Ludwig, shared some fan-freaking-tastic news with me yesterday. One of her books (No Safe Harbor) was made into an audio book. How cool is that?

Which got me to thinking, if my stories were put into audio format, what would I want my characters to sound like? Should I really wait until that glorious day when my writing is formatted into sound bits before I start thinking about what my characters sound like?

I think not.

When I begin my new story on Nov. 1st, I'm going to really think about voices and choose carefully. How characters sound can be an extension of their personality, giving them more depth.

Here's my writerly challenge of the day...think about one of your character's voices, really think about it. What will you change or add?

Monday, October 22, 2012

5 Observations About Writers

Writers are one of the most unique mammals in the human zoo. Each one is different, but there are a few common traits I’ve noticed. 

Writers are:

This is an unavoidable part of the creative genetic make-up of an author. It shows in their language and their actions.

All those rejections sometimes make for wicked nervous tics. Try not to stare.

When a new plot twist ripens, the rest of life is forgotten...meaning schedules get forgotten or mid-sentence they just might dash off to scribble down a fantastic new idea.

People Watchers
Writers are always scoping out a room full of people for new characters. Nothing to worry about, unless they're staring at you.

In general, writers are some of the best self-starters in the world. They have to be, or their stories would never get finished.
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