Monday, August 31, 2015

5 Tips To Write an Emotional Scene

I can write a fight scene like nobody's business. A slapstick slip-on-the-banana peel piece of humor? No problem. But when it comes to penning an emotional scene, whoa baby. Those are super hard. Why? Because the emotions I feel in relation to what's happening with my characters might not be the same emotions someone else would feel. Everyone reacts differently. The trick is to write the scene so that it appeals to readers across the board.

How can a writer pull this off? Never fear. Take a step back while I whip out a handy dandy list for you (and me) to follow . . .

5 Tips For Writing An Emotional Scene

Skip the Melodrama
Emotional scenes are important, but don't focus too much time and energy on them. Don't overdo it. Instead, play up the action and the consequence because that will allow the reader to experience the situation without spelling out those emotions. Readers are smart. They'll know when a character's goal is thwarted to automatically feel tense, or when a character's loved one is hurt in some way, they'll feel bad vicariously.

Keep it Tight
You don't write pages of small talk or unending descriptions, right? So why write great discourses on your character's emotions? Answer: don't. It's always the goal to keep the story moving forward. Don't slog it down in the mire of an emotional scene.

Word Choice is Everything
Broken and ruined. Light and hope. The first few words are dark, the second set uplifting. Words carry powerful connotations, so don't mix happy words into a sad scene or vice-versa. Keep your scene consistent by using specific words that correlate with the emotion.

Up the Stakes
For powerful emotions you need to have powerful situations. There's got to be something at stake for the character in order to make your scene believably emotional. Give him a bad or worse choice to make.

Use Setting to Your Advantage
Tie your setting into the emotion to ramp up the intensity. Going for fearful? Night's a good time for that. Lonely? How about paint the walls of the room blue. Excited? Perhaps there's music playing in the background.

And last, but not least, always use the five senses to really tie your reader into the moment.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Proverb

When you live for yourself,
demand others meet your expectations,
demand God behave in a way that lines up with your view of Him,
then frustration with grit your teeth
and disappointment rot in your bones.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Type Racer

Most writers I know use a keyboard. Not all are lightning fast typists, but some get their fingers to smoking. I think I'm a pretty snappy typer, so I put my skills to the test on TypeRacer.

TypeRace is a site that's an online typing competition. It pits you against other people by typing quotes from books, movies, and songs.

But it's not only a game. It actually improves your typing speed, some say as much as 50 words-per-minute. So I decided to give it a whirl.

For my first go around, I played against 2 others. The site chooses who and how many you play against. The text was taken from The Thermodynamics of Pizza by Harold J. Morowitz. I came in first place at 92 WPM. Since I was a little champion, I decided to do it one more time.

I should have quit while I was ahead. I came in 3rd with only 80 WPM typing a quote from the movie The Dark Knight.

Go ahead and pop over there. It's super fun and it's free. And if you're brave enough, let me know how you did in the comment section.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ten Writing Words of Wisdom

I've learned a thing or ten over the years. Here are some writerly nuggets of wisdom . . .

1. Rejections. One-star reviews. Rotten sales numbers. The writing gig is filled with negativity. You've got to not simply balance that out with positive influences, but over compensate with the cheerleaders in your life.

2. Time for writing or reading or running a marathon doesn't just happen. You have to make it happen. That means you will probably have to cut something else out of your schedule.

3. Great writing engages all five senses.

4. No writer really knows what he's doing. There are too many factors that go into creating art. Insecurity is blankie all writers curl up with and suck their thumbs.

5. Comparing yourself to other writers makes for an unhappy camper. Don't be that camper.

6. Being a rookie can be an asset because you're fearless . . . mostly because you haven't learned what to fear yet.

7. A reader doesn't have to be reading your book. It's your job as a writer to force them to read it.

8. Too much backstory at the beginning of a story is a big fat no-no.

9. Reveal too much information and your reader will wander away to play pinochle or something even more entertaining like watching the fish in the aquarium. But if you don't reveal enough information, your reader will get frustrated and slam the book against a wall.

10. Timid writers don't take risks, and non-risk takers are frustrated artists. Go for it. Try all kinds of writing just for the creativity of it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ever Wanted to Run a Bookstore?

When I toodle around the country and/or the world, one of my favorite things to do -- besides start international scandals -- is to stay at Airbnb's. I know. Looks like a stupid made-up word, right? Well, it kind of is, actually, but there's nothing stupid about it.

Airbnb was founded in 2008, so it's been around awhile. It's a website where travelers can find overnight accommodations in a collection of other people's homes, villas, castles, campers . . . you name it, they've probably got it. How cool is that? Well, hold on to your hats little cowboys, because things just got real. I recently discovered a booklover's dream for rent.

You can have your very own bookshop by the sea in Scotland for a week or two for only $40 a night. How sweet is that? In their own words:
We'll give you your very own bookshop, and apartment above, supported by a team of friendly volunteers and bookshop sellers to make your trip as lovely as possible. Set up by The Wigtown Festival Company, the bookshop residency's aim is to celebrate bookshops, encourage education in running independent bookshops and welcome people around the world to Scotland's National Book Town. The fee for your stay is low because we are a non-profit. It covers the running costs of the holiday but that is all. A laptop and WiFi are provided, plus bicycles for those who like to explore the bucolic countryside on two wheels!
Yeah. Beam me there, Scotty.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Top Ten Book Pet Peeves

Do you get annoyed by dog-ears or cracked spines? You're not alone if you do. I ran across an interesting survey on Goodreads that listed booklover's top pet peeves . . .

1. Library books that have crumbs left between the pages.
2. When publishers change covers mid-series.
3. Mystery stains found in library books -- like is it spilled coffee? Blood? Nuclear waste?
4. Dog-eared pages.
5. Books defaced with a yellow highlighter.
6. Sandy pages left by someone who obviously took the book to the beach.
7. A dying Kindle or Nook battery.
8. Price tag stickers that tear the cover when you try to remove them.
9. When you lend out a book and the borrower never returns it.
10. Pages that are ripped, or worse . . . completely missing.

How about you? What's one of your pet peeves?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Writers as Magicians

Every writer has a little Houdini in them because a great story is a slight-of-hand magic trick. Here's how it works . . .

The writer grabs the reader's hand and takes them into a story world. Think of this as the pulling out of the black top hat. Exposing the reader to how things are, turning the hat one way and another beneath the spotlight, showing there are no strings attached.

Then the tension of the story ramps up. The writer creates conflict for the characters, just like the magician shoves his hand into the hat, all the way up to his elbow. You know something is going to happen. He's going to pull something out, but what? The reader expects drastic action is about to take place, everything is going to fall apart, but how?

Gah! The magician yanks out his hand. No rabbit. No roses. There's a big, bitey piranha attacking his fingers. He flails, the audience gasps, and in the blink of an eye, the piranha changes into a rainbow glitter unicorn that he hops onto and rides off the stage.

Whoa. Didn't see that one coming.

And that, my friends, is what a great writer does. Sets up a story. Causes a reader to believe the story is headed a particular direction, then shazam! Switches the story into a whole different direction that the reader didn't expect.

This format works because readers like to think they're smart, that they know how everything is going to play out, but they really want to be delighted with something they didn't expect.

Friday, August 21, 2015

One Word Sentences

Can one word make a sentence? Sure. See? Just did. Okay, so that last one was two words. I never said I was great at math. Who needs to balance their checkbooks anyway? That's so twentieth century.

Anyway, I came across a fantastic, short video that explains how this is a perfectly acceptable grammatically correct sentence:
Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo
buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

Yeah, I know. I didn't believe it either until I started watching the 3 minute YouTube. Happy watching!


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Publishing Doesn't Solve Your Problems

Everyone's got problems. A hangnail on your thumb. The doggy-doo-doo stuck in the crevice of your best sneakers even though you took out a dang toothbrush and scrubbed it outside under the hose nozzle, blasting it at neuron-splitting speed. You can't remember your password for Words With Friends even if a Russian gang threatens to mainline borscht into your carotid artery.

Even authors have problems.

Oh, I know. Some people think that authors have it made. That once you've signed a contract, hello Easy Street. Grab me a drink with and umbrella an park my heinie beachside.

Uh . . . nope.

Hate to break it to you, especially any newbie writers out there with starry eyes, but that is one big fat ugly misconception, all snarly and gross like the nastiness you pull out of the bathroom drain. And that's no exaggeration.

Actually, if anything, it's more like Grind Avenue, and the published author is the roadkill on the side. Why? Pressure. The pressure of:
     - meeting a deadline
     - wondering how sales numbers are doing
     - trying to crank out fresh prose at breakneck speed
     - balancing social media and marketing all while coming up with new story ideas
     - not looking like the schlub you really are because that would freak out the readers

Not that I want to scare away any potential authors out there. It's a great gig, losing yourself in Storyworld, getting to hobnob with other authors, receiving a shipment of free bookmarkers from your publisher. Those are all great perks.

I'm just saying take off your rose-colored glasses the next time you meet a published author. They're as insecure as you are.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why Writers Write

"Writing provides a pocket of time in the present moment to reflect, digest, and to think deeply."

Yesterday's post established that writers gotta write. Today we'll tackle the why. For the sweet love of all that's holy, why would a person sit alone in a room, pounding out story after story without the guarantee that any of it will ever be published, admired, or even that the dang computer won't crash and all will be lost? What drives a writer to write?

The reasons are as varied as the writers themselves. Here are a what a few big names have to say about why they write . . . 

Neil Gaiman
" . . . you get to feel like both the creator and the audience. Everything is suddenly both obvious and surprising… and it’s magic and wonderful and strange.”

Lord Byron
“If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad,” he once confessed.

Stephen King
Says that in the end all writing is about “enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.”

Gloria Steinem
“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald
He didn't write because he wanted to say something; he wrote because he had something to say.

So those are the big names. What about the nobodies, the wannabes, the little fish in the big writerly pond? The website Author's Promoter recently did a survey with 100 authors and here is the breakdown:
       30%  To educate, influence and help others
       15%  As a way to express themselves
       13%  Because they have to
       10%  Because it's therapeutic and pleasurable
       8%    Because of their imagination
And then there's a bunch of other assorted reasons that came in at lesser percentages. Again, this shows that there's no one reason why a writer writes. That's horrible news for someone who wants to know THE absolute answer, because there isn't one.

But it's also great news for the varied writers out there who write for myriad reasons, to let them know they're not alone in having a unique reason to write.

So rest assured, little writers. Your drive to write appears to be an inborn desire, like your love for chocolate or hatred of rutabagas. You are completely normal. You are a writer.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Writers Gotta Write

"You can be perfect, 
or you can make art.
You can keep track of what you get in return, 
or you can make art.
You can enjoy the status quo, 
or you can make art."

Writing is an art -- and not one that earns you a bajillion dollars. Unless you're Ted Dekker. And even then I don't suppose he's really got a bajillion in the bank.

Anyway, the thing is that if you're writing to make money, you will likely be sorely disappointed with the compensation. But is money really the only valid reason to write?

I think not. In fact, I know it's not.

Validation for a writer comes in many different packages:
    - signing with an agent
    - having a publisher consider your full manuscript
    - getting contracted with a traditional publisher
    - winning a contest
    - skyrocketing sales numbers
    - great reviews

But those are all external rewards. A person who's got writing in their blood will write no matter what because the drive is internal. It's hard-wired. It's a need.

So if you're feeling the urge to write, don't let the lack of money, or prestige, or even the lack of kudos from your mama get you down. Writers write. It's just what they do.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Podcasts For Writers

Okay, so I might be a little late jumping on the podcast bandwagon, but I've recently discovered these things are great. They're like documentaries for the ear. And you can find them on pretty much any topic in the universe. But the ones that are really useful are the ones on writing. Here are a few . . .

Conversation With a Bookseller
Sara Glassman talks about her perspective as a bookseller, namely the things that make it easy for her to get a book into a customer's hands. She talks about back cover copy, covers, query letters, signings and what booksellers look for on page one.

Q & A on Middles
Marie Brennan discusses the bane of all writers: the sagging middle.

What Makes a Scene?
Want to know what makes a great scene, other than having a slap fight with your mother-in-law in the lingerie aisle at WalMart? Then this is the podcast for you because it dissects the ingredients that go into creating a satisfying scene.

The trend with these 3 sites is that they're all from Writing Excuses, one of the first and longest running podcasts for writers. Their tagline is:

"Fifteen minutes long, because you're in a hurry, and we're not that smart."

They've got tons of other great titles so pop over and check them out.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Expectations

Disappointment rages when we don't get the raise we expect,
don't experience the love that should be returned,
or fall face down in horrified surprise when our bodies fail.
But why do we place our expectations in earthly things?
As if they're our due,
as if we are worthy,
as if we are the everlasting.
What kind of prospect for joy might be ours if we put our expectation in God alone?
Is that not better than the oppressing weight of disappointment?
Today live with no expectation for anyone to do anything and see what kind of unexpected joy comes your way.

Friday, August 14, 2015

How Long Will it Take You to Read a Book?

So many books, so little time is my motto. No, really. I have it printed on my checks, even. Yeah, that dates me. Whatever.

But here's my problem -- and I suspect I'm not the only reading freak out there with the same conundrum -- I have a stack of books I want to read but only "X" amount of time. Will I be able to read them all? And if not, then which ones could I read the fastest so I can read the most possible titles?

And no, this isn't a quirky math question.

All this to say . . . have I found a site for you (and me). How Long to Read is a book search engine which helps you find out how long it will take you to read a given book. Yes, you. It actually tailors it to your reading speed. Here's how it works . . .

1. Search for a book title. I searched for Brentwood's Ward. Hey, don't judge me.

2. When you click on the title, it brings up the statistics for that book. In this case, the average reader would take about 41/2 hours to read Brentwood's Ward.

3. But wait! Who's average? Certainly not me. So on the right side of the page, they put up a paragraph from the book. You click start when you start reading and click it again when you're finished. Here's what it popped up for me:
You read 77 words in 17 seconds and your average speed is 272 words per minutes. You will take 5 hours and 1 minutes to complete this book.
And that's it. That easy. If you want to know how long the next book will take you to read before you read it, give this site a whirl.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Everybody Wants Something . . . Your Characters Better, Too

See that chick over there? She wants a bacon double cheeseburger but she’s worried if she horks one down that she won’t be able to hike up her skinny jeans over her beluga thighs.

Or how about that dude on the corner? He wants to be a lion tamer but he’s allergic to cat dander.

What about you? What do you want? Currently I’d like a stomach pump because I just ate a quart of caramel praline ice cream. Yes, again with the dang ice cream. It’s summer. Cut me some slack.

Even my dog wants something, preferably the leftover tuna hotdish sitting on the back bottom shelf of the frig with a slight green haze growing over the top.

Are you noticing a trend here?

Humans are needy little creatures, all wanty and feed-me feed-me. If you want your readers to feel a strong connection to your characters, here’s a sweet little tip: give your characters a desire for something, anything, and make that clear from the get-go. Sure, those wants can and should change by the end of the story, but don’t ever take their needy nature away or you’ll lose your reader.


Now then, I’m off to snack on some chips. I have a feeling the salt will offset the sugary coma I’m about to collapse in.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What Kind of Reader Are You?

Readers are not created equally. They come in all sizes and shapes, with quirks, warts, and sometimes a hyena-type laugh. Which one of the following readers are you?

Book Abuser
You underline. You dog ear. You lug your book from dining room table to coffee shop to bathtub, folding, spindling, and mutilating the pages. You'll lend books to a three-year-old or a St. Bernard because you love to share your love of reading.

Book Lover
Plastic covers every pristine book that you own, and there's not a cracked spine in the bunch. On the off-chance that someone handles your book without first suiting up in a haz-mat suit, you'll buy a new copy of the book.

Compulsive Bookie
This has nothing to do with gambling, or even with anyone named Vito. This category has to do with the purchasing of books, any time, anywhere, for any reason, whether there's money in your bank account or not. You can't help yourself. If there's a book for sale, you will buy it.

Book Burglar
You borrow books from friends, family, the library, waiting rooms, whatever. It doesn't matter where you get them because you will not ever return them. Ever.

Book Savior
It's a sin for anyone to throw away a book, so you save it. Your garage and basement space suffer for this. Shoot, even your closet space is crammed full of books, making it difficult for you to find a clean shirt to wear.

True confession time: I'm a Book Abuser. Yes, seriously. I need help.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Task of a Writer

“Our perennial spiritual and psychological task 
is to look at things familiar 
until they become unfamiliar again.”
~ G.K. Chesterton

What do you think writers do all day? Play with words? Drink coffee? Lounge around in their jammies? Shmooze with other writers and hobnob with authors of all ilk—all while using fun vocabulary words like ilk?

Yeah, you’d be correct, but that’s not all a writer does. It takes a lot of brain work to write. It takes percolating and wondering and playing the ‘what if’ game.

But there is one central task an author must accomplish in order to be great . . .

Exceptionality.

Here’s what I mean: think about your favorite writers. What’s one thing they all have in common? If you ponder it for awhile, I’d venture to guess that the thread tying great authors together is surprise, either in character development or plot twists.

It is the task of the writer to take what is ordinary, mundane, insignificant and open the reader’s eyes to see that object/emotion/idea in a new way, making it totally unfamiliar.

Sure, plots still need to be logical and heroes must change and grow. But it’s taking the reader by the hand and pointing out everyday sights with fresh language that removes a book from the good category and catapults it into greatness.

Monday, August 10, 2015

5 Stupid Websites

It's Monday. I feel your pain. Here are a few stupid websites to perk up your day . . .

Eel Slap
I have no idea why this is so amusing. Just slide your cursor from right to left and you can slap the man in the face with an eel time and time again.

White Trash
If you can stand the cheesy music while you have fun, just click your mouse on the white dude's hair, nose, chin, or eyes. You'll get different hairdos, mustaches, beards, glasses, yada, yada.

Pollock
Do you have an inner artist screaming to get out? Pop on over to Pollock and create a Jackson Pollock type masterpiece. Click on the cursor when you want to change colors.

The Useless Web
Want to find your own endless string of stupid yet surprisingly sometimes entertaining websites? Then this is the place for you.

Bacon Sizzling
Yeah. 'Nuff said.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Look

In memory of Alex Steddom
"If there are wolves in the woods
expect to see wolves;
and if there is God in this place
expect to see God."
~ Ann Voskamp

Why is it so surprising
when a sunset blazes red across the sky
and my throat closes because of the beauty?
Though it makes me gasp and tingle,
it's easy to see God there.

But when the last breath blows away a loved one's life
and my heart constricts and tears run hot because of grief,
there
right there
God seems a little out of reach.

It's hard to see a loving Father in the midst of the hot ugly messes
but
it's not impossible if you expect to see Him.

Look.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Counting Words

There's a lot of things in life one can obsess over . . .

  - Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey

  - Washing off all the creepy-crawly
     amoeba's that might be infesting
     your skin

  - The Coldplay Turtle vine

  - The threat of violence, famine, disease, yellow-throated booby extinction

But as an author, the one thing I notice lots of people obsess about is word count. I'm asked -- a lot -- how many words I write at a sitting, to which I most often reply, "It doesn't matter." Which, I admit, can sound a little flippant, but here's the deal . . .

It really doesn't matter.

There is no magical word count that makes you a rockstar writer. There's no number to validate you as a for-real author. And anyone who says otherwise is clearing wearing their baloney pants because that's what it is: baloney.

Write as many as you can, you little champion. If that means 200 at a sitting, then a palm-stinging high-five to you. If it's 2,000, then you get the same palm-stinging high-five. It's not how much you write that makes you a writer, it's that you write.

The comparison game is death. You don't need to write as many (or as little) words as me or anyone else on this planet. You are you. You do you. You be you.

You cute little writer.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

One Writer's Journey to Publication

Somebody emailed me yesterday asking about my writing journey, so guess what today's post is about. Yep. It's testimonial time, my writerly congregation. Get all comfy on your pew . . .

I started writing when I first discovered blank walls and Crayolas. My mom wasn't too happy about that. She wasn't too happy when I had imaginary conversations with Daniel Boone under the living room table, either, so she took me to the pediatrician to see what was wrong with me. He said I just have an overactive imagination. Yes! Score one for the fiction writer.

In junior high, while most hooligans were smoking cigarettes under the bleachers, I went to poetry camp and buried my nose in everything science fiction. Ray Bradbury was my best friend. Can anyone say geek?

In high school I finally found a friend . . . one who loved to write. So we wrote stories, back and forth, her writing one chapter to a cliffhanging ending, me writing the next.

Then I got married and had kids. End of writerly story. For years. Kids have a way of sucking the ever-loving life out of your bones. I lived in survival mode until they were older, and then I ran away from home. One night a week, that is. I ran to the library at first and started writing my very first manuscript. I didn't have a clue about writing but it was fun to let my imagination off the leash.

I sent out that manuscript because I didn't know any better. I learned that I needed to distinguish between showing and telling. I also learned that if I sat at Panera instead of the library, I could eat chocolate chunk cookies and drink coffee. Double score!

So that's where I wrote my second manuscript, keeping in mind the ol' showing vs. telling rule that I'd since learned, and that story was called Gallimore. It's still for sale on Amazon and at Black Lyon Publishing. It's a small, independent publisher, but was a great way to dip my toes into the world of publishing because they take unsolicited manuscripts.

I kept up those weekly one night stands for my second book, A Heart Deceived. By then I'd started a blog. Yes, this one. Lo and behold, out of the blue, an editor for David C. Cook read a few posts and liked my style, and oh, by the way, did I have anything to submit? Yeah. We're talking miracle material here, folks. They bought it.

It'd taken me a year and a half to write the dang thing, though. I figured if I were going to make any money at this gig, I needed to up my game. I did, by writing 4 mornings a week. Brentwood's Ward took me 10 months. By then I had an agent. She helped shop it around, but it was really a face-to-face appointment at the ACFW Conference that scored the sale on that one.

And that same editor is the one who offered to buy the book I'm writing now, which will release next fall.

That's the shortened version. I left out all the gory bits because hey, we live in a violent enough world as is, right? The takeaway value from today's post isn't that you need to start talking to dead actors under the table to begin your writing journey. The point is that if I can do it, heck, anyone can. It just takes a LOT of time and the gumption to keep writing when you don't feel like it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Announcing . . .

THE CAPTIVE HEART
What is true freedom?
I hope you didn't pack away your wangdoodlers and floogbuglehorns quite yet. This is a summer to celebrate! Start banging away on your drums and crank up the ol' applause machine because . . .

**steps up to mike**
**blows super hard so that it hurts your ears**
**screechy feedback rips a hole in gramma's hearing aids**

Oops.

Okay, enough horseplay, and seriously, do horses really play? Like what . . . pinochle? I'm a city girl so I've never understood that one. But I digress.

Announcing

A NEW FREAKING BOOK BY YOURS TRULY
YES I AM SHOUTING
I AM FAIRLY EXCITED

Wait a minute . . . I should go change my pants.

Okay, now then, I just signed yet another contract with Barbour for a novel, due out some time next fall (2016). It's called The Captive Heart and here's the blurb:

Proper English governess, ELEANOR MORGAN, contracts to work for a rich Charlestown family, but when the man never arrives to make good on his promise, she must settle for what’s left—an offer of marriage to a man she’s never met. SAMUEL HEATH is a hardened survivor, used to getting his way by brain or by brawn. He will find a mother for his infant child. The trouble is who would marry a murderer? 

If you happen to be more of a visual learner and/or illiterate (though I suppose that's kind of a moot point because you wouldn't have gotten this far now, would you?), HERE's the Pinterest board.

So, I suppose I'd better quit this equine frivolity and get writing, eh?

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Get Used to Fear, Kids

Yeah, I know. Fear is a negative word. A hateful word. And why am I such a hater?

Well, as much as I hate to break it to wannabe writers, the ugly truth is that fear is part of an author's life. It never goes away. Fears such as:

  • What if I what I'm writing is a steaming pile of literary manure?
  • What if I can't even think of anything to write today?
  • What if my sales numbers never pull out of the nosedive they're in?
  • Sweet mercy! Will I ever be able to lose the 10 pounds I just gained from sitting around writing my last manuscript?
  • What if my book simultaneously releases when Suzy Awesome Author's book comes out?
  • What if Ben & Jerry's discontinues Chunky Monkey?

And those are just a few. Here's the deal . . . writers are psychotic little rock badgers, all fidgety and tweaky. Why?

Because art is subjective.

Even to the artist. You may think that what you create on any given day is a masterpiece, then come back to it the next and have a little bit of throw-up in your mouth because you think it's just that awful.

But you know what? A small amount of fear is a good thing. It keeps you on your toes. It keeps your head from swelling. It gives you an edge, preventing complacency. Too much fear will keep you from producing anything, but just a smidge is the sweet spot, spurring you on to bigger and better projects.

So go forth, little writers, and embrace fear. Know that it's just part of the writerly game and that you're not the only one a little shivery at the knees.

Unless, of course, it has to do with Ben & Jerry's going out of business. Then all bets are off.


Monday, August 3, 2015

From Good to Great

Editing.

What's your response to that word?  Did you:
    A.)  Tuck tail and run for your wubby
    B.)  Smile so big your cheeks hurt
    C.)  Give a deer-in-the-headlights stare

If you want to take your manuscript from good to great, the only real answer is B. Editing is the name of the game, folks. Here's a handy-dandy checklist for what to look for . . .

Top 5 Tips For Polishing a Manuscript

Repeat Words or Phrases
Using pet words over and over is like an annoying fly nipping at your reader's tender flesh. Yep. It's that irritating. Read over the manuscript as a whole and highlight the repeat words, then ditch most of them.

Cut the Cliches
Cute as a button. The long and short of it. Ruby red lips. In a reader's mind, when you write these kinds of phrases, it sounds like this: yada, yada, yada. Why? Because they've been there, done that, dude. Insert fresh ways of saying things.

Look for Bugaboos
If you've got a pregnant character who still hasn't had their baby a year and half later, then you've got a serious problem. Watch for bugaboos like this and fix them.

Share It
This is a good time to package up your little darling and send it off to a trusted first-reader, someone other than your mom, someone who will be brutally honest.

Cut the Fat
Zero in on where there are paragraphs of description, then weed them ruthlessly. Delete sentences that say the same thing but in a different way. Saying something once is enough. Your reader isn't stupid.

Editing is the most important step in making your manuscript publishable. Don't skimp on this step. Take the time to go through your novel several times, word by word. That's what will make your writing stand out from the rest.


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Happy

I often feel guilty when God gives me what I want,
like enjoying what is good is somehow decadent,
like laughter is wasting time
when I should be working
or meditating solemn over Scripture.

Where did this broken image of God come from?

True, He is  God of wrath for those who don't bend the knee,
but He's also the wielder of lavish grace and mercy and love.
The one who made lips to smile,
and eyes to leak out happiness.

And if I take the time to listen hard,
I can hear Jesus whisper,
"You being happy in the things God gives
makes me very happy."
 
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