Thursday, January 31, 2013

Worth 1k Words

Whether you're a blogger or not, sometimes you need a great picture. This is tough if you're a less-than-amateur photographer, or don't even happen to know where your camera currently is (as in my case). So...what to do?

Well, there's the ol' photobooth on your laptop, though it does look silly when you lug out your computer to take a photo.

You could use a drawing program and sketch some kind of illustration. I was never really good with an Etch-A-Sketch, though, so it's better for me to just round up a preschooler than to try to use one of those kinds of computer dealios.

The best option, and the one I use most often, is to visit a royalty-free website and swipe someone else's photo (with their permission, of course). Next time you're in the market for a free photo to use for a blog, an invitation, or merely for a cool bit of art to hang on your wall, check out these free image sites.


Free Photos Bank


Photo Rogue

Free Media GOO

Free Digital Photos

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Is There a Masseuse in the House?

Whoever is not experiencing any stress in their lives, please raise your hand. Uh-huh. Exactly as I thought. And it's not just writers who don't have their fingers in the air. But who's got spare cash to go get a massage these days?

So today I'll do us all a favor and brainstorm some ways to take the hiss out of stress (and make sure to tune in on Fun Friday when I'll break the news on why I'm freaking out today).

You may not be able to contort your body into giving yourself a back rub, but most of us can reach our tootsies. Grab some moisturizer and work it into your feet. All over. Press hard. Ahh. Not as great as a pedicure but it'll do in a pinch.

Take a magazine break. Toodle over to the library and check out some periodicals. I'm not talking high-tech intricate reads. Go for the picture-licious copies. Then take your stash home, make a cup of tea, and park your behind on the couch. There's something eerily soothing about mindlessly looking at all the pretty colors.

This time of year (namely frigid in my parts) a long soak in a hot tub is a guaranteed win. As a bonus, make it a detox bath. Here are some recipes.

If the sun is shining, stand in it. Yes, you can stand just inside a window and not out in the frozen tundra. Close your eyes and lift your face to the sun, soaking in the golden rays. This is especially necessary if you are in my neck of the woods. Cloudy days are the norm, so when the sun does finally peek out, I make a run for it.

Shake it off, as in go for a walk. Normally I'm not the athletic type, but sometimes getting outside, alone, even if my nose hairs are freezing, whacks my thinking back into shape.

Kick the dog. Oops. Did my fingers type that? Yeah. More on this on Fun Friday.

So...what are some of your favorite ways to de-stress?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Woo-hoo! I won!

No, not the Pulitzer or even the Publisher's Clearing House, but award's an award and I'll take any that come my way. One of my writerly buddies, Yvonne Anderson (whom I affectionately call Y and sometimes Freak), nominated Writer Off the Leash for the Liebster Award. What the heck is that? Great question, and in fact, the same question I asked her.

“Liebster” is a German word for favorite, and the Liebster Blog Award is given to bloggers deserving wider recognition, and who have less than 200 followers. The purpose of the Liebster Blog Award is to spread the word about these folks and their fine work.

The rules are:
  1. Tell 11 things about yourself.
  2. Answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
  3. Nominate 11 bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
  4. Post 11 questions for those who will be nominated by you.
  5. Get in contact with those 11 bloggers in order to inform them that you nominated them.
Now then, let's roll with the ol' get to know you...

Except for apples, I hate fruit.
If I have to break a sweat, rollerblading is my exercise of choice.
The Count of Monte Cristo is my all-time favorite movie. Ever.
I like my jammies to be matchy-matchy.
If I could live anywhere in the world, it would be England.
My dad's name was Epaphras. Not even kidding.
Boxers are my favorite breed and I don't men of undah-pants.
I've recently started liking brussel sprouts. Go figure.
Hobby Lobby is may all-time favorite store.
While I like all chocolate, I prefer dark over milk.
I like to cook.

And here are The 11 Questions I was asked...

1. Why did you start blogging?
I was told I needed a platform and a tribe. Since I began this adventure a year and a half ago, I haven't attracted any natives dancing the hulu-hulu and I'm still afraid of heights. I suspect Writer Off the Leash isn't working as intended but I'm having a great time at whatever it is that I'm doing.

2. What is your favorite genre to read?
Whoa. Tough. I love a LOT of genres. Currently I love historical fiction but my first love was and still is sci fi.

3. What fictional character do you most wish were real?
At the risk of sounding egocentric, I'm going to go with Ragnar (the hero from my latest release, Undercurrent). Of all the characters I've written, he captured me mind and soul.

4. Describe your dream office for writing.
In the turret of a castle, with a full suit of armor for inspiration, a sweet sound system to play background inspirational music, and of course, a case of chocolate next to my desk. Oh yeah, and don't forget an espresso machine.

5. Name one thing you couldn't live without.
God's amazing grace.

6. If you could keep only one book, what would it be?
The Bible.

7. If you could magically transport yourself into a book, which one would you choose and what character would you be?
I'd pick Jane Eyre and star as Jane.

8. Do you have any phobias?

9. What is your biggest pet peeve?
Someone chewing with their lips open...especially gum.

10. Describe yourself in 5 words.
Quirky, blunt, cheerful, freaky, dependable.

11. Who is your favorite well-known author and your favorite rising star author?
Wow. This is a tough one. Who can name just one? Just off the top of my head, I'd say John Steinbeck and Jill Williamson.

The 11 bloggers I'm passing the award onto (and don't forget to check out their blogs)...

1. Jennifer Major at Tales From the Redhead
2. Terri Thompson at The Christian Naturalist
3. Shannon McNear at Shenandoah's Eclectic Musings
4. Jessie Gunderson at Blog Schmog
5. Mariah Griep at Mariah's World
6. TC Avey at Wisdom of a Fool
7. Ashley Wall at Life in the house of A. Wall
9. Brandi Boddi at Penning Praises
10. Chawna Shroeder at Imagination Investigation
11. Christine Lindsay at Writer of Fiction That Matters

Monday, January 28, 2013

idiosyncrasies of the English Language

Don't panic. I'm not going all-out academic on you. Today's post is simply about the quirks of the American English language (as opposed to British). More to the point: what is said vs. what is meant.

When I say:
Wow, that garbage can is full.
It means:
Get off your butt and lug out that Hefty bag, would ya?

When my husband says:
Can I help with dinner?
It means:
Have you been on Pinterest all day or what? Why isn't the food on the table yet?

When the sales clerk says:
Have a nice day.
It means:
I don't care a rat's behind what kind of day you have as long as you fill out the survey on the bottom of the receipt and make me look good.

When words are spoken face to face, it's easier to decipher because of body language. But when the written word is your medium of choice, it's all the harder to convey what a character actually means. On the up side, this can be used to an author's advantage by choosing words that convey characterization via dialogue.

Or it can leave your reader scratching their head with your book firmly shut on the nightstand beside them.

What to do?

The best way to make each of your character's say what they really mean (and not give the reader a different expectation) is to really know your character well before they even speak. This requires some groundwork before you begin a new manuscript. Yes, this takes time, but in the long run it will pay off.

Know your characters. Know them well. Then use the words that flow out of their mouths to solidify who they are in your reader's mind. Those are the kind of characters that stick with a reader long after they've closed the book...and not just left it to rot on a bedside table but given that book a place of honor on their living room shelves.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Call

It never hurts to practice for a big event.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Will Write For Cash

Tying in to yesterday's post, what if you're one of those writers who decides to ditch the artsy-fartsy aura of writing and instead want to charge ahead with writing for money? I mean, it's not like book contracts are being handed out like candy nowadays. How in the world can you make a little moolah while waiting for Tyndale or Random House to pick up your manuscript?

Never fear. Have I got a site for you.

Check out Writing for DOLLARS! This site focuses on the business side of writing. Translation: making money. You can find out current markets that pay, how to market what you write, and tips for entering high paying markets. There are even interviews with successful writing professionals.

If you want to become a pen for hire, this just might be a great place to start.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Write to the Market or What's on Your Heart?
What if a story is burning inside you, you write it down, and everyone rolls their eyes at it, mocks you, tells you what a piece of garbage that story is...but one single reader is so moved by that tale, it draws them closer to God.

Would you still write it? Should you?

Question: Why is publication by a major publisher the accepted validation badge over one changed soul?

Answer: In a perfect world, it shouldn't be.

Too bad we don't live in a perfect world.

So here we are, with the same old quandary. Should an author write what the market will buy or pen the story that's captured their heart? It's wonderful when those two coincide...and also rare. What to do?

There are the usual options:

  • write what's selling until you get your foot in the door, then write what you want
  • self publish
  • write the book of your heart, and if it doesn't sell, shelve it until that topic/genre is trendy

I don't think you can decide which route to go until you figure out what's at the core of your writing soul. Why do you write? Is it to make money or to make art? There's a difference.

Seth Godin says:
"Do your art. But don't wreck your art if it doesn't lend itself to paying the bills. That would be a tragedy."
I understand that in this economy making money is more important than ever...but that doesn't mean writing must be your sole cash cow, especially if the money-making side of writing is sucking the joy out of the experience.

I'll leave you with two words to mull over, swish around in your mouth, and see what kind of taste they leave. Only you can decide which writing road you should take.

Stay true.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I Stink at Tag

I was the kid on the playground who sat in the corner and read a book. Is it any wonder that I've been tagged for the second time in a month? Yep. Shenandoah's Eclectic Musings named me as one of the tagged blogs. Normally I could blow this off, but when she added a pretty please, well...beneath my crusty shell there is a soft interior.

But don't worry. I won't bore you with the same old answers that you've already read. Shannon McNear requested I cough up some info on my new Bow Street Runners trilogy, so put on your seat belt. Here we go!

Business First
The rules of the blog hop...
Mention who tagged you, and link to their post.
Give the rules.
Answer the ten questions below.
Link to several more people.

What is the title of your next book?
Brentwood's Ward

Where did the idea come from for the book?
While doing research for A HEART DECEIVED (a finished manuscript my agent is currently shopping around) I came across some intriguing information about a fledgling police force in London called the Bow Street Runners.

What genre does your book fall under?
Historical Fiction/Romance

What actors would you choose to play the part in a movie rendition?
Rosamund Pike as EMILY PAYNE
What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
EMILY PAYNE is more treacherous than a city full of miscreants and thugs, for she's a thief of the highest order...she's stolen Officer NICHOLAS BRENTWOOD's heart.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I am represented by WordServe Literary.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
9  months

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
There's a fantastic non-Christian Bow Street Runners series by James McGee. It's not really geared for female readers, though. Blood. Guts. Sex. Violence. Yada, yada.
In the Christian market, I suppose the closest Regency that is suspenseful would be Julie Klassen's The Tutor's Daughter.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
A quirky combination of Sherlock Holmes and Burn Notice that collided in my head. Quite messy, but very interesting, enough so that it jumpstarted me to begin this series.

What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
How would you feel if you came home from a fun day of shopping and met the man who was to be your shadow 24/7? Translation: fun's over!

Fun Fact: did you know that the English were a bit squeamish about having a police force? They felt it would impinge upon their rights and were not at all for it at first.

There you have it. I'm currently working on the second book in the trilogy: MOORE'S MAIDEN.

Now then, on to the tagging of the next authors. Be sure to visit their blogs to find out about more great fiction that will be headed your way!

Y's Words (Yvonne Anderson)
Infinite Characters (Vanessa Riley)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Is Writer's Block Real?
Ernest Hemingway fought bulls in Spain, dodged bullets as a war correspondent, and hunted big game in Africa...but when he was asked to name his scariest experience, he said, "A blank sheet of paper."

Recently I received an email from a buddy of mine who's convinced she's got writer's block. Convincing me, though, is a tough sell. You can quote Hemingway all you like, but I think writer's block is a scam.

Hold on. Before you sharpen your pitchforks and/or chastise me for being a heartless friend, allow me to explain.

Just because you can't pump out 50 words to save your life doesn't mean you've contracted the dreaded 'Writer's Block Virus'. It simply means you're going to have to work. Yes, indeedy, welcome to Realville. More often than not, writing is work. Grunt work. The kind that makes you sweat.

Oftentimes when one thinks they might have writer's block, it's simply a case of having to search deep inside to come up with a sentence or two. Sometimes that's super hard, but it's never impossible...unless of course you're in a coma and/or your fingers are broken.

Granted, you might not have a clue what to write on your current WIP, but writing isn't just about a WIP. You could write a letter to a friend, an encouraging note to your pastor, a measly shopping list for crying out loud. Writing is writing. It all counts.

I hear you, though. You want to make progress on your Work-In-Progress, yet you've all of a sudden skidded to a stop. Instead of throwing your hands in the air and crying, "I've got writer's block!" give one of these ideas a whirl...

  • Write something completely different. A sonnet. A piece of flash fiction. A rebuttal to a letter to the editor.
  • Walk away and refuse to think about your story for a day, a week, or two even.
  • Kill off a character (one of my personal favorites).
  • Add in a new character.
  • Do something creative with your hands. Paint a poster. Bake bread. Color with your kids.
  • Begin work on another scene.
  • Go to a mall and eavesdrop on other conversations.
  • Write the last scene.
  • Think of an event that would make your protagonist weep. Write it.

What do all of these ideas have in common? They put your mind on something other than the spot you were stuck in so that hopefully when you do eventually come back to it, you'll have a new perspective.

But what if you're still stuck?

That's when you need to pull out the big guns. Call a trusted writerly buddy and cry on their shoulder...then brainstorm like nobody's business.

I refuse to believe that writer's block is real. Is that naive? Cold-hearted? Ignorant? Perhaps, but those are the least of my sins. I serve a pretty big God. If He wants me to write, I will, block or no block. Therein lies my confidence.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Question Jar Take #4

Guess what I came across while cleaning out my closet?

As you can see, my question jar is getting empty. Leave me more questions to answer in the comment section here at Writer Off the Leash.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Here a Freebie, There a Freebie

Everywhere a in eBooks and audiobooks, that is. If you're suffering from the after Christmas credit card bill that came in the mail this week, even though you might have to live on Ramen Noodles for the next month, you still will be able to afford some great reads. I came across some sites where the price is right, as in FREE! Check out the following...

This site provides free audiobooks from the public domain. At LibriVox, volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain into digital audio and then make the audio files available to the world, for free.

Here you'll find more than 29,000 eBooks available for Kindle, Nook, iPad and most other eReaders. Most of their eTexts are taken from Project Gutenberg...speaking of which, you should check out...

Project Gutenberg
Choose among free ePub books that you can download or read online. It'll be a hard choice, though, since there are over 40,000 in their collection.

World Public Library
Too cold to toodle over to your nearest library? This place has quite the variety. All eBooks are in PDF format. All Audio eBooks are in Mp3 format. Both are designed to be cross-platform compatible with all PCs, Laptops, Kindle DX, Kindle 3 iPad/iPods, eReaders or Smartphones.

I hear ya. What in the world is a Podiobook? Well, their website says:
The term podiobook was coined by Evo Terra in April 2005 to describe serialized audiobooks which are distributed via RSS, much like a podcast. Whatever...they're free!

Happy reading blogger buddies!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Alphabet Soup

Sometimes coming up with a new character is easy. There are so many real life anomalies out there, you can usually pick and choose quirks to come up with an interesting persona. But for the times you're stuck, have I got some letters for you!

The Myers Briggs test is a classic personality quiz. I'm not saying you need to take it (though it could be insightful and there's a free sample of it here), but simply looking at the possible outcomes provides a wealth of attributes you can use for your next character. Want some examples?

Characteristics: Quiet, cautious, meticulous, responsible, strong and silent type
Good occupations: Administrators, inspectors, researchers

Characteristics: Friendly, realistic, analytical, organized, very driven and enthusiastic
Good occupations: Executives, analysts, managers

Characteristics: Cautious, hard-working, thoughtful, careful, very dedicated to causes and relationships
Good occupations: Health care technicians, accountants, customer service representatives

Characteristics: Talkative, practical, empathetic, decisive, very harmonious
Good occupations: Counselors, coaches, nurses

Characteristics: Independent, practical, realistic, adaptable, very skillful with tools
Good occupations: Programmers, operators, pilots

Characteristics: Gregarious, practical, observant, adaptable, very unpredictable
Good occupations: Stockbrokers, entrepreneurs, private investigators

Characteristics: Approachable, decisive, concerned, adaptable, very generous
Good occupations: Teachers, scientists, public relations specialists

Characteristics: Modest, easy-going, caring, flexible, very artistic
Good occupations: Customer service representatives, nurses, counselors

Characteristics: Energetic, creative, strategic, decisive, very commandeering
Good occupations: Lawyers, marketing consultants, teachers

Characteristics: Autonomous, imaginative, logical, organized, very independent
Good occupations: Engineers, planners, publishers

Characteristics: Energetic, expressive, decisive, easy-going, inventive
Good occupations: Talk show hosts, motivational speakers, marketing consultants

Characteristics: Reserved, creative, intellectual, adaptable, very logical
Good occupations: Mediators, musicians, strategic planners

Characteristics: Outgoing, creative, empathetic, decisive, very persuasive
Good occupations: Therapists, educators, writers

Characteristics: Reserved, creative, decisive, organized, very empathetic
Good occupations: Architects, journalists, counselors

Characteristics: Friendly, imaginative, empathetic, flexible, very optimistic
Good occupations: Acting, graphic design, psychology

Characteristics: Private, creative, empathetic, flexible, very non-directive
Good occupations: Human resource associates, fashion designers, researchers

Peruse the list, pick one that interests you, then google those letters. You'll find more in-depth personality info that ought to kickstart you into creating a memorable character.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Super Freaking Fantabulous God Story

Have you ever had one of those moments when God takes your breath away? I'm talking whoa-baby-I-can't-believe-God-did-that kind of experiences? Well, I had one yesterday.

I was sitting at my desk, preparing for the start of the semester tomorrow (yes, I do have a day job), when a pang of self-pity whapped me upside the head. You see, there's a particular publisher I'm interested in and I knew that in the beginning of January they were about to launch a new e-pub line. However, unless your agent submits, there's no chance in bleepity-bleep that an author can get noticed. I know. I checked. I visited their website and everything.

And my agent happens to be on maternity leave.

So I gave it over to God immediately. I told Him that I knew He was more than able to accomplish His will with my writing, whether my agent was preoccupied with a sweet little baby or not. Then I went about my business.

Lo and behold (cue angelic background music), within a half hour I received an email from the acquisitions editor of that very line with that very publisher. That's not only unheard of, it's a miracle! She'd just happened to stumble across my blog (yep, this one) and I piqued her interest. Would I want to send her a sample of my writing?

Would I?!

Honestly, I know this is a small feat for a God big enough to create the universe, but that He cares enough to do the little things is mind blowing.

Whether I land a contract with this publisher or not suddenly doesn't seem as earth stopping as the fact that the Earth Creator delights in the affairs of man...and little ol' me.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Need A Buddy?

Have I found a crit buddy for you. Thanks to one of my buddies (waving at Terri) I discovered a winner of a website for you to visit...and this one is more than just fun. It's valuable.

Ever wished for some outside feedback about your writing? Something other than nice words from your mom or the usual fare from your crit partners? Then you should visit Flourish Editing.

Every Monday is FREE CRITIQUE MONDAY. You send them 750 words of your writing. They send you back a complete edit of your work. I know, sounds too good to be true, so last Monday I tried it. Lo and behold, later that afternoon, I received back a very nice critique from one of the Flourish staff.

Some info about their editors (taken from their site):
We are a pair of well-established editors, Tim Dedopulos and Salome Jones. Between us, we've edited over 25 million words. We've worked in publishing houses in both the United States and United Kingdom, and served as literary agents, editors, publishers, and writers, with more than 100 published fiction and non-fiction books authored between us.
So what are you waiting for? Be bold and give this a whirl. What have you got to lose?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Meh Factor
Sometimes writing flows. More often it doesn't. Those are the 'Meh' days, when typing each word is a chore akin to washing dishes. What makes the difference?

"Passion is the genesis of genius."
~ Tony Robbins
The surprising thing is, though, that you don't have to necessarily be passionate about your particular manuscript. You just need to have a strong feeling about something. Anything, really. Emotions are timeless and universal. They'll work in any genre and/or setting.

Words flow the fastest from my fingertips when I'm hyper-emotional, either negatively or positively. When strong feelings roil, the human psyche ignites, which usually results in a doggone fantastic word count for the day.

Now I'm not suggesting that if you're experiencing writer's block you go pick a fight to work up some passion. But it wouldn't hurt to whip out your laptop next time you're hyped. Even simply jotting down a few words about your feelings will be a kick-starter next time you get stuck.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Free Contest

Author/Editor Kathy Ide
Want to go to a writer's conference, but when you open the ol' wallet, moths fly out? Have I found a dealio for you!

Kathy Ide is sponsoring a contest (no fee required) that will choose one lucky author wannabe to win a full scholarship to the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. I've never had the privilege of attending this one, but many of my writerly buddies have...and it's highly recommended.

All you need to do is send in the first 5 pages of an unpublished book manuscript, fiction or non-fiction, of any genre here.

But before you submit, definitely read the full details here.

The deadline is January 31st, so why not give it a whirl? You've still got a week or two to polish up your beginning and send it off. Who knows? Maybe you'll be the winner!

And if you are, let me know. I'll seriously put on a cheerleading outfit and rah-rah for you on a Fun Friday vlog.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

So Many Books, So Little Time

I'm often surprised at the writers I know who say they don't have time to read. Granted, there aren't that many, but those few who are too busy writing to read just might regret it one day. It's kind of like living on a diet of junk food. Works for now. Tastes great. But eventually your body is going to crash.

Reading is vital to a writer's soul.

Why? Great question. Here we go...

#1. Reading hones your craft.
Seeing how others structure their sentences, weave their plot lines, or develop characters presents a model (an obviously winning one since you're reading a  published book). Read and study the big name authors that are out there, those who have mastered the craft. 

#2. Reading outside your chosen genre stretches your writing capabilities.
I don't write young adult but I read it because of its snappy dialogue. I don't write horror but sometimes I pick up a tastefully done creeper because of it's shock-and-awe factor. I don't write epic sagas but sometimes I'll page through one to fill up my beautiful prose tank. Then I can use all these elements in my historical fiction to make it a more full-bodied manuscript.

#3. Reading puts your mindset into a different world, allowing you to see your created writerly world with fresh eyes when you come back to it.
Sometimes when you're stuck on a particular scene, it helps to walk away from it for a time and focus on something else.

I like what Jeff Goins had to say recently about reading...
"Read widely. This isn’t just research, it’s practice. Honing your craft. Studying the masters who came before. Pick a book or two that didn’t just pop up on your Amazon referrals list; read a classic or something that has absolutely nothing to do with your chosen field. We base our careers on words, so the best thing you can do is absorb as many of them as possible from as many different sources as you can."
So, go ahead. Toodle over to the library and pick up a few novels, but don't look for me there. I've got enough on my TBR pile right here at home.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Kick in the Pants
Yeah, I admit it. I've been a slacker lately when it comes to writing. Even NANOWRIMO didn't give me the kick in the pants I was hoping for.

Do you have a project you'd really like to accomplish but just don't make the time for it? Sometimes it seems decadent to take time away from what needs to be done (like dishes or laundry) to pursue something you love. I mean, it's more noble to do something you don't like than to spend time doing what you enjoy...right?

Or is that how amateurs think? I came across a great quote this weekend that might do us all well to take to heart.

Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration,
the rest of us just get up and go to work.
~ Stephen King
Yeah. That one hit me between the eyes, ranking right up there with Nike's Just Do It.

Perhaps I'll do something crafty with Stephen King's sage advice, like pulling out threads from a piece of burlap to form each individual letter, then frame it and hang it over my desk. I'm sure someone's already done this on Pinterest, so maybe I'll just pop over there first and take a looksie.

Hmm. Maybe not. I suspect that's where the amateurs hang out.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Top Non-Fiction Pick of 2012

Lest you have a spasm because you know I don't usually read non-fiction, allow me to clear up my choice of blog topic today. Over the New Year's holiday, I interviewed Kelly Klepfer, administrator of Novel Reviews (a fantastic review website you should check out) and asked her for her top pick.

And don't forget to visit Kelly's blog Scrambled Dregs.

Disclaimer: Sorry about the dog bark in the background. Lord Arthur Peabody (my daughter's dachsund) cannot keep quiet for 2 minutes in a row.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

What I Learned in 2012

While some were partying and others were snoring in their beds, I kicked off the New Year with yet another rejection. I am seriously thinking of taking my writerly ball and going home.

Don't panic, though. I'll never quit writing. The idea I toy with now and then is to stop submitting my work to traditional Christian publishers. Hold on a second...this is not a rant against the establishment. We readers owe the big pubs gratitude for putting books into our hot little hands, so I am not dissing the CBA. 

What exactly am I talking about? I don't think I fit into their winning formula. Let's pick it apart piece by piece and you'll see what I mean...

Good Writing + Unique Voice + Story-that-fits-easily-into-marketable-Christian-category = Contract

This part of the formula takes grunt work. You need to learn the trade and learn it well. It takes practice, typing your fingers to the nubs, and a whole lot of butt-in-chair time. I believe anyone can learn this if they are humble enough to take criticism and motivated to do the work.

This second addend is a little trickier. Voice isn't something you learn. It's completely you. It's the words that flow after you stop worrying about what other people think of your writing. This is the stage whereupon you perform as little ol' you in the guise of story and character. I believe everyone has a voice but not everyone is able to let go and give it free rein.

Here's my Achille's heel. There are certain genres that are trendy, and if you want a contract, you need to write in those genres. And even if you write in a genre that is selling, you must keep the story within defined boundaries. At this particular stage in our economy, risk takers who stray from the accepted path will not win the contract.

So what I learned in 2012, besides that I stink at math, is that I need to make a decision. Either I play the publishing game according to the rules, or I quit beating my head against that wall and write for the sheer joy of writing. It's a crossroads every rogue writer eventually comes to.

What road do you think I'll take?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What's on the Tip of Your Tongue?

Ever get a word semi-stuck in your head? I mean, you know the meaning of the elusive word, but doggone if you just can't think of it. It's there, right there, on the tippity-tip of your tongue. 

Don't you hate it when that happens?

Well, never fear. I've found a handy-dandy site for you to visit next time you're tongue-tied. Chirag Mehta is a blogger who created a search engine to help you out. Give it a whirl here.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Keep Calm and Carry On

The story behind the iconic phrase...and a great motto to have for the New Year!
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