Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Importance of Community

Never underestimate the importance of having people around that will uplift, encourage, and help you. Last night I had the privilege of dining with a couple of new author friends. When I got there I was scared about going to my first conference, worried the pitch I had written was too cheesy, and generally feeling unsure about every step I had taken so far on my writer's journey.

Oh the difference when I left. These two wonderful women gave me a few pointers and few sentences of encouragement and a few moments of camaraderie. What they really and truly gave me though was a renewed sense of purpose and confidence.

It is so important to have people we can turn to that will help, guide, and support. Whenever possible, find someone who's been there and acquired some credibility in your eyes, because then the smallest word of encouragement carries such tremendous weight.

Never, ever underestimate to power of choosing not to go it alone.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Coming Attractions

I started a blog about a month ago because it just seemed like something I should do for several reasons.

1) It gives me an outlet to practice writing
2) It gives me a way to connect with people
3) It prepares me for the wonderful day I get published and need to interact with my amazing fans.

The only problem was that I didn't know what I wanted to do for my blog. If I wanted my blog to actually be something people wanted to read it needed to be something that was actually useful to them. As fascinating as I am (or at least my husband continues to tell me I am) I don't think anyone wants to read weekly posts about the bizarre ramblings I pull out of my head. That's what I had, though, so that's what I started with until I could think of something better.

I am pleased to announce I've thought of something better.

I figure that most readers of my blog (aside from ultra-supportive family and friends) will be other writers or avid readers. They will probably be Christians. History will most likely interest them. In other words, it will be read by people like me. So what would I want? Here is the plan I've come up with. As to how well I'll execute it? Only time will tell. ;)

MONDAYS - Posts about saving/making the most of your time and money. At first glance it may seem weird to put this on a writer's blog, but it is something readers and writers alike have in common - the need for more time and more money. Readers want more time to read more books. This will lead to buying more books. As an aspiring writer I am all for that scenario. Writers want more time to write. They also need cash flow to enter contests, go to conferences, and order promotional materials.

My current plan is to have a series on a single topic every month. October will be about prioritizing your time and figuring out what really needs to be in your schedule. I'm excited!

WEDNESDAYS - Writer days. These posts may be book reviews, insights on writing/how to write better, interesting pieces of history, and possibly eventually hopefully an ongoing story published in installments on my blog. Occasionally I'll even post about where I am in the process of getting published. I will mix in some reviews for new books, but I also plan on hitting my shelf of old favorites. Maybe I can help people find an amazing book they missed the first time around.

FRIDAYS - Fridays are Faith days. They will include a devotional type of post or just something God has taught me recently. I have begun drafting out some devotions inspired by pieces of interesting historic information and I am really excited about sharing those.

So that's what's coming! Hope you'll stick around and check it out!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


As a writer, rejection becomes part of your world very quickly. It starts with you rejecting things you've written until finally, FINALLY, something comes through your keyboard that you are happy enough with to show to someone else. From there, the rejections just keep coming. There are many different types of rejections.

1. The Straight Rejection
For writers this usually comes in one of two forms: the form rejection from an agent or editor and the "I just don't get it." from an early reader. There isn't much you can do about these rejections except suck it up, go back to your computer, and see if you can make it better.

2. The Assumed Rejection
Similar to the straight rejection, this comes from the agent or editor with the policy that essentially says, if we don't call you assume we aren't interested. I always go ahead and enter "no" on my tracking spreadsheet.

There is nothing you can do about these two types of rejections and there is little room for misinterpreting them. They mean no. They mean something about your work wasn't ready, wasn't good, or wasn't what they wanted. You take your blows and either quit or see if you can do better next time.

But there is another type of rejection as well.

3. The Perceived Rejection
This is when you start decided other people have rejected you or your work when they haven't really said any such thing. I am so bad about this. I recently joined an online critique group. It is really difficult to see some submitted chapters getting critique after critique while mine just kind of sits there. There are submittals that get critiques turned in mere hours later, as if people just couldn't wait to get their hands on the next chapter. Mine doesn't get that kind of reaction.

So in my head I have decided everyone on their hates my work. There is NO GROUNDS for this way of thinking. None. There are a million reasons - okay maybe not a million but several - why my chapter isn't getting any action. Maybe I'm posting at a bad time and people aren't seeing it. Maybe they just aren't drawn to that time period or genre. Maybe they are already following so many stories they don't have time to add another to their plate. Or maybe they read it, didn't like it, and closed the document without doing a critique. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

Perceived Rejection happens in all areas of life - not just writing. I constantly find myself living life under the umbrella of perceived rejection. Maybe they don't look interested in what I'm saying because they think I'm boring. (Reality - they're teenagers and they stayed up half the night so they are half asleep.) Maybe they canceled the dinner party because they really don't want to hang out with me. (Reality - He really does have to work all day the next day.) I am tired of beating myself up over a maybe. If maybe is going to be a part of my life, I want it to actually do something for me.

Maybe they read my chapter, thought it was wonderful and they couldn't improve on it, so they didn't critique it. Maybe today will be the day that agent writes me back requesting a full proposal. Maybe today will be the day someone posts a comment on my fledgling little blog. ;)

Is it easy to kick that perceived rejection out of your life? Not at all. But maybe today will be the day you accomplish it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where were you...

I did not originally intend to write anything about the anniversary of 9/11. There were a lot of other people saying things better than I felt I could. To be honest, I didn't want to dwell on it long enough to put something together either. When I think about that day, I remember watching the news coverage and the video of the building. The clearest memory I have is the absolutely sick feeling in my stomach when I realized it wasn't debris falling from the burning building, but people.

One of the things that I have seen a lot of people posting about is "Where were you when you heard?" When life changing events happen, we expect people to remember. I have heard it often. "I still remember where I was... when we landed on the moon... when JFK was shot... when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor."

This morning, I was sitting in the pew and listening to a really amazing sermon (Really, it was one of his best ever.) and I got to thinking. We remember the heroes that worked to pull people out of the doomed buildings. Their stories have been broadcast across the television and internet all weekend. But do we remember the hero that saves our souls from the doom of sin?

If 9/11 teaches us nothing else, it should show us that you just never know. You never know when that normal day at work is going to, well, end. End everything. So do you remember where you were when you learned that Jesus had trudged into the sin of a doomed world and sacrificed himself so that you could get out alive?

If you can't remember a time when you realized there was a saving hand to hold, make that time now. Make the answer to that question "I was sitting in front of my computer, remembering the awful tragedy of 9/11."

I was eight years old in the back seat of my parents' car on the way to Sunday morning church. Where were you?

If you don't know Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, I invite you to do so today. Ensure that you will go to Heaven when this earthly life is over. Link up with your Creator and discover how He meant for your life to be lived. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Value of Time

How much is your time worth? That question means different things to different people. For some people it means calculating the hourly wage they earn from work. For others the answer is defined more abstractly in happiness, fun, and fulfillment. Still others find the worth of their time in the results seen around them: the growth of their children, the success of a business, the effect of a ministry. Even if you use your hourly wage as a guide, there are still a lot of hours in a day not accounted for by your paycheck.

No matter how you define the value of your time, each person is given the same amount of it. "No one's rich, nobody's poor/We get twenty four hours each" Chris Rice, Life Means So Much You can listen to the whole song on You Tube

It is pretty much impossible to equate my time with a dollar amount. Believe it or not, most writers don't make a whole lot of money. Particularly writers trying to get their first book published, like me. We make nothing. :) I was, and really still am, a bit of a reality show junky. I love competition shows like Dancing With the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, American Idol, HGTV Design Star, etc. I have gone through spells watching the dating shows as well. When I started writing, and I mean really writing in the I-want-to-get-this-published kind of way, those shows were the first thing to go. The results of time spent writing/learning the craft meant more to me than the results of time spent watching someone's dreams get crushed.

The question boils down to what means more to you? What enriches your life the most? Maybe you enjoy golf but you love the results of investing time in your kids. In order to get the most time doing what you love (playing with the kids), you may have to give up what you like (playing golf). Is that difficult - Yes, Extremely. Is it worth it - Yes, definitely.

Sleep is awesome, but time spent with God is better. So I have a goal to start avoiding the snooze button and reaching for the Bible instead.

Chocolate rocks, but I think a healthy body in the long run is worth more than the temporary taste of bliss. So I'm planning on working in exercise after Bible reading.

There are even areas of ministry that I love and am good at, but not at the expense of time with my family. (A caveat on this one - these are things God has provided OPTIONAL opportunities for me to do. If He has CALLED me to it, it takes a much higher priority. It gets done.)

Starting in October - hopefully, this is the plan anyway - on Mondays I'll be posting about ways to save/more efficiently spend time and money. Why? Because I think it's important. Because the more time you save the more time you have to read. :) And when I get published, I want you to have some time built in to be able to read it.

What about you? What are some things you would love to spend time on but other things bring more value to your time spent?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Life Lessons from MarioKart

I love MarioKart. It's almost an obsession. I, however, am married to a minister and that means life lessons can be gleaned from anything. ;) If you aren't familiar with the game, you race cars with driven by characters from the Mario Brothers games. Along the racetracks are little blocks with question marks on them. When you hit the blocks you get something that will help you, hinder you, or let you hinder your opponents. You never know what you're going to get when you drive through one of those question mark blocks - it's the luck of the draw.

One thing I have learned in playing the game is that no matter how lucky you are in the items you receive from the boxes, if you don't drive well you're going to lose. I think writing, and just about anything else you set out to do in life, is a lot like that. There are things in life that spur us forward - good luck, blessings, whatever you chose to call them - and there are things that set us back. But life is made up of so much more than all of those things. We have to learn how to "drive well".

1 Corinthians 9:24 says "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." In MarioKart, if you spend your race running into the walls and falling off cliffs, and then depend on getting stars and bullets to help you cross the finish line - you will lose. God calls us to live our lives well. To run in such a way that we can win. Life may offer us some pretty large setbacks. We may get totally squished as people who are bigger or faster than us run us over. And we may not "win" the prize in the world's eyes. But God will know if we ran to win or waited on Him to drop blessings out of the sky.