Monday, June 29, 2009

Summer Schedule Begins

Today officially marks the start of my summer schedule since school is now over. My two oldest daughters have been safely delivered to Kemur Camp (a horse camp for girls) for a week of being a student helper and a full-fledged camper (depending on which daughter I speak of), and so hubby and I have our youngest daughter home alone with us this week. Seems strange to have only one child at home. We haven't experienced that since Alisha (our oldest) was eighteen months old. In two weeks, all three daughters will be off to Kemur Camp for another week of girls fun, while Phil and I have some alone time.

So what does this mean for me and my writing?

It means a summer schedule is in order. And since I don't write while my family is home--or at least not while they are awake at home, early mornings begin today. For the summer my writing will take place in my office haven from 6:00 am to 9:00 am while the girls enjoy their sleep-in summer schedule. I'll arise at 5:30 am for devotion and Bible reading time before delving into my fictional world. I've mixed feeling about this. Anticipation, and yet a tinge of laziness threatens me too.

But in line with writing like a professional, I know these early mornings need to be followed. I managed to do it last summer, so I know I can succeed. Anyone else joining me on this early rising adventure?

My goal is to avoid Internet access during this time, too. These three hours will be strictly writing time. Throughout the day, I'll take mini breaks as the girls are occupied with friends to do my blog hopping and writing, and my email updating.

So, tell me, how will you handle your summer? How do you keep writing a priority when the family is home and in vacation mode?

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, June 26, 2009

Building an Online Presence

I thought I'd share news about an upcoming teleseminar by Sheila Wray Gregoire. The teleseminar will take place this coming Monday, June 29 at 9:00 pm. ET. But even if you can't make it at that time, if you register, you can download it to view at anytime afterward.

The topics covered will be:

How to Find your Online Niche
How to Draw People to Your Blog or Twitter page
How to Host an Online Party!
How to Keep in touch through emails, newsletters, and more!
How to Collect email addresses.

There is a $10.00 US fee for this teleseminar. With that in mind, if you're interested in learning about building an online platform, you can find more information about it here:

I'm going to try it out and hope that I learn some tips. Like how to use and maximize the impact of Twitter, Facebook, and blogging.

Pray we all have a wonderful weekend!

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Are you a Hobbyist or a Professional Writer?

I hope you'll come check out my Writer's Rest post today. Come see what I discovered at the Write! Canada writer's conference last week on this very topic.

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, June 22, 2009

Processing A Writer's Conference

I've had a day to get my thoughts in order, but yet there still seems to be a haze lingering around my brain matter. Ever feel that way? Like you can't quite organize your thoughts and come up with a clear understanding of what transpired?

Writer's conferences have a way of doing that to some of us.

Okay, I'll try my best to divulge what I found to be the highlights of Write! Canada 2009 for me. (By the way, Write! Canada is the largest Christian Writer's Conference in Canada. It attracts over 200 attendees each year. That may seem small to you American's, but remember, our land mass may be close to yours, but our population isn't.)

This was my third year attending this conference, and I must say that each year the Worship time ranks high in my memories. Singing and praising God, and hearing His word spoken aloud before breakfast each morning is truly a gift. Each time I leave a worship service at Write! I tell myself that if this alone was offered, it'd still be more than worth attending.

But, of course, the worship time is not all that is offered. Socializing and learning with fellow writers is both encouraging and inspiring. Hearing newly published authors tell their joyful story in the midst of encouraging you to keep going is truly a blessing. Their sincere interest in wanting to help you succeed comes through their words of encouragement, gracious advice offered, and knowledge shared. This is what a writer's conference is all about. Sharing!

My focus at this conference this year was not so much to expand my knowledge of the craft, but with getting a better idea of what is really involved in publication. Since I will also be attending ACFW's conference in the fall, I figured I'd save the craft-building classes for that one, and learn a little more about what hopefully is to come for me sometime in the next twenty years or so. As a result, I learned many things. Here's a few for starters.

1) How to focus on my writing as a career, not a hobby.
2) What agents really do, and why you need to do your homework before seeking one out. And that there is a reason why it's so difficult to partner with a good agent.
3) Contracts have many similarities to fourth year Algebra and Calculus post-secondary classes. NO FUN!
4) I have so much more to learn...
5) The image you portray does mean something.
6) Some bloggers actually can make money. And somehow do so by simply putting a PAYPAL link on their blog. (Don't worry, I'm not headed in that direction.)
7) I have so much more to learn...
8) Edits don't end until the author puts his/her foot down. Learn when to do it!
9) There will always be someone who writes better than you, but you don't have to write like them to share your words with the world!
10) Published authors are generous people who want to help you succeed.
11) There are many sides to an individual. Don't be blind-sided by a third-party viewing. (This can be used in character development big time. Talk about multi-dimensional character building!)
12) Editors don't all rip your work to shreds.
13) And, since this list needs to end somewhere and a baker's dozen is a good number--once again--I have so much more to learn... BUT, I also discovered, that I know a thing or two, too!!! Now that's progress.

On Wednesday, I'm going to dig a little deeper into the first item listed above over on Writer's Rest.

I pray you all had a wonderful weekend and that your writing is shining brightly these days. Blessings prayed for you all!

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Crazy Week of Preparation

Getting ready for conference is like preparing for a month-long family vacation on a deserted island. Time consuming!

With the extra chauffeuring duties for my oldest in the midst of high school exams, doctor appointments, and a hamster who insists on welcoming infection, I've had a run this past week and a half. But all's good. I think I'm on track.

Two things came to mind during my mad rushes recently:

1) You know you're a writer when you pass the road-side lottery sign that shouts Five Million Dollars and you think, what would I do if I won? Would I quit trying to get this writing thing right? No. Never. But I would hire a house keeper and gardener so that I could write more!

2) Writing is merely a collection of words; given enough permutations, you're bound to get it right. (That's the editor in me screaming for hope!)

So, tell me, what strange and wonderful things come to your mind unexpectedly as you rush to get something done?

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, June 15, 2009

A Soldier's Reunion by Cheryl Wyatt

A Soldier's Reunion by Cheryl Wyatt, June 2009, Steeple Hill, Love Inspired

Back Cover Blurb: A Man From Her Past

Despite a decade apart, this isn't the reunion Mandy Manchester expected! She thought she'd put high school sweetheart Nolan Briggs behind her. Now he's back...and the pararescue jumper literally sweeps her off her feet. He's ready and willing to rekindle what they once shared. Mandy, though, isn't prepared to put her heart at risk. He left her before--she won't trust him again. Can Nolan teach this grounded girl to take a leap of faith?

My Review: True to Cheryl Wyatt's form, her fourth book in the Wings of Refuge series, A Soldier's Reunion, starts out at a fast pace with a bang. Mandy and Nolan are characters you can relate to and would love to have lunch with, and getting a peek into the characters introduced in the previous stories is always delightful.

I've never been a big fan of the many reunion stories driven by the old: the parents forbid the true love so they parted and of course, all promised correspondence was stolen by said parents without the girl ever suspecting. But Wyatt redeems this familiar plot by weaving some original spins into this story. She delivers, once again, an enjoyable fast paced story.

A Soldier's Reunion is in stores now where LI's sell, and you can also order it on Amazon here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Three Chapters Revamped...Finally!

I'm sighing hugely right now. After brain-draining, slow-going days and weeks of revisions, I've finally gotten through edits of my initial story for the umpteenth time.

As a result, I totally revamped the initial three chapters and I need help.

My crit group has endured so many revisions of this book that I can't ask them to look at these chapters again. Besides, they must know my characters as well as I do, so they wouldn't notice if I've stripped too much backstory out or not at this point.

So...I'm looking for two or three writers who love reading inspirational romances, willing to swap 30 double-spaced pages with me for fair, honest critiquing. Any takers?

Update: Got my takers! Thanks everyone!

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

If you had the opportunity...

to ask an editor, agent, or author some writing career-related questions, but weren't specifically wanting to pitch your work to them, what would you ask?

I may just find myself in this predicament next week, as the line I'm wanting to pitch to isn't going to be represented at this conference. But, there are going to be some great agents, editors and authors with invaluable information to share. If only I knew what to ask? What to pick their ingenious brains on?

Any suggestions?

Here's some rolling around in my brain:

For Authors: How do you shut the internal editor off so that the story can just spill out? How do discern which critique suggestions to make, and which to leave alone?

For Agents: What first lines of query letters grab your attention? Are you looking for authors with several novels ready, or is one good one enticing enough to spur your interest?

For Editors: Who are your favorite agents to work with? Do you take un-agented proposals?

What about you? If you had this opportunity what questions would you ask?

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, June 8, 2009

The More Baggage they Have, The More Difficult to Write

I'm discovering this very truth as I struggle through edits.

Backstory so easily wants to invade those initial pages when you have a hero and heroine rich in baggage. Baggage that has molded them to be who they are at the onset of the current story. Baggage that needs a resolution before character growth can take place.

So how do we get a story to lift off with characters whose pasts scream for exposure early on?

Cut, cut, matter how difficult.

Think in terms of morsels. Hints. The reader DOESN'T need to know all!

If a character is becoming unlikeable because of the effects of his/her past, that's when a short nibble of back story put in a dialogue tag or a snippet of exposition is required to hold empathy. But supply just enough to retain the reader's sympathy. Slowly divulge the baggage throughout the whole of the story, so that the current world they live in keeps moving despite how much their past currently drives them.

That's how I'm attempting to fix my back story blunders. How do you go about getting a story firmly moving when the past seems so relevant to everything they do?

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, June 5, 2009

Glorious Sun!

From where I sit, the sun is shining, the sheets are waving their happy dance along my clothes line, and birds are enjoying the fresh mowed grass--nibbling away at it.

It truly is a glorious sunny day. One that makes you take pause to thank the Good Lord for all He has blessed you with.

Like the deep purple irises swaying in my English style garden. Yes, the garden still needs thinning and fertilizing, but even in it's current sad state, flowers still faithfully bloom, making me smile.

Like the children I sent off to school earlier this morning. Now those are three amazing blessings that I don't deserve, but yet God in His infinite grace, saw fit to bless me and hubby with three independent, strong, flourishing individuals who continue to amaze us each and every day.

Like the Canadian health care system that fits us into needed appointments as best they can, and without further cost than the taxes we already pay.

Like blogger buddies. Yes, that's you I'm referring to. God blesses me with you, your willingness to connect online, share, support, pray, listen, and learn together. Thank you for touching my life dear blog buddies.

I pray we all have a beautiful weekend ahead in which we can at some point take pause and listen for Him!

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Conference Preparedness--What's that?

Lovely Georgiana commented in yesterday's post about the one-sheet being the biggest thing for her to create for her conference "package." That made me wonder what exactly is supposed to be in a conference "package"?

Help me out, everyone. I'm going to attempt to list what I think that package should hold, but I'm certain I'll get something wrong or miss something entirely and wish I hadn't have when I get there.

Here's my list so far:

1) Business Cards: Don't need to be fancy, just need to have contact information. Name, Snail mail address, Email address, Website address if you have one, and a stunning picture of yourself would be nice, too, but not a deal breaker. Hand out liberally to fellow writers, etc.

2) Copies of your One-sheet: A One-sheet is an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper with your full name, contact information, bio information with writing credentials/credits, a summary of what you write, branding clause if you have one (mine is Writing Faithful Romances Worth Pondering), and a head shot picture of yourself. This is the sheet that you'll leave with the editors and agents for them to help keep who is who straight in their head once the conference is over. Most say that lots of white space is desirable, or an aesthetic background photo that represents your type of writing. Conciseness is the key, while still presenting enough to sell yourself to the powers that may be.

3) Log line for the story you're intending to pitch. Some print these on sticker labels with the title of your story and then attach them to the back of your business cards. Good for cheating, too. If you get tongue tied around agents and editors in general, just pull your card out and read the back to get grounded. The log line helps you develop your elevator pitch, too.

4) An elevator pitch: Know your story and be able to summarize it in a few short sentences. Memorizing is good here.

5) Longer pitch: What you wish to say while in one-on-one appointments. If you're not pitching a particular story, what about coming up with some good questions to ask instead. Make the most of those appointments.

6) A Proposal Package: This could vary by what the individual agents/editors give as personal guidelines for what they are looking for. But in general, I believe a Proposal Package includes the following if you're pitching a particular story.
  • A cover letter on good quality paper, preferably on letterhead.
  • Author biography
  • Market analysis
  • Story Synopsis
  • Initial 3 chapters of story wishing to pitch
  • A One-sheet
  • Business card

Put all this together in a folder and create one for each of your target agents and editors should you be given an opportunity to present it. They likely won't take it with them, but if they request it be sent to them, then you'll be more than ready.

Okay, I think that's it, besides Bible, clothing and toiletries, etc. to pack. Now it's your turn. What did I miss? Help me be prepared, please!

Surrendering to Him,


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A One-Sheet.

I had planned to submit a critique for the conference I'll be attending in a few weeks, but with my health issues of late and the unexpected upheavel that zapped me of any productivity in my writing arena of life for a while, I just plain missed the deadline. So, yesterday, when the extension news came, I decided quickly to switch which piece I'd intended to submit to make my life slightly easier and take advantage of this valuable service, and then I discovered that they wanted a one-sheet with the ms submission.

"Weird," I thought aloud. Synopsis are often requested, but I've never heard of a one-sheet to go with your ms submission. So, I sent off an email asking what exactly they considered a one-sheet to be, thinking it mustn't be what I think it is. Why on earth does a critiquer need to know my credentials, contact information, etc. to tell me what works and doesn't work in my story. But it appears that they had the same definition as I had on what a One-sheet is, and they like to pass this paper along to the critiquer so that they can get a picture (both literally and figuratively) of the author of the piece they're critiquing.

"Wow," I'm now saying, as some of the critiquers are editors and agents. Now is this not a huge bonus? Think about it, not only do we get to sign up for editor/agent one-on-one appointments at the conference, but we also have the added benefit of possibly getting our work directly in front of those very people with a picture of ourselves and a little information about us as well, even before the conference. And then we also get to reap the benefit of their critiques to help us improve our writing. I'm stunned and so very pleased with whoever came up with this request! Bonus! Bonus! Bonus!


That meant I had to go at a mad rush to create a new One-sheet, as the one I currently have is out of date and I don't have the software to edit it either. (I had it professionally done a couple years ago.) So, I emailed a friend who I knew created her own a while back, and ask if she'd let me have a copy online that I could use as a skeleton. Bless her heart, she sent me three without hesitation, and one of them was done in Word, so that one I could tweak to my heart's content... so I did!

My eldest daughter, Alisha, is great with photography, so she searched through her online album and came up with a picture of me from my niece's recent wedding. She cut and cropped it, to get a head and shoulder shot of me out of it (dear hubby's shoulder keeps me company in the photo, and I love that, because this writing endeavor is really such a team effort with all his support). Then she found a country scene that has my middle daughter riding her pony in an open flowering field toward a wooded patch on the farm and a huge tree to her left. It's the perfect backdrop to my One-sheet that really gives the feel of my stories. Rural settings, country life, and the flowers give a cheerful feel, too, which I strive to end my stories on.

That done, I came up with my writing blocks and had several friends help me edit and revise them. Thank you Jeanette, Jessica and Jody! You guys are so helpful and so quick at it too.

And so now I'm done. All in under a 24 hour span. But I'm not just done for this critique requirement. No. I've got my One-sheet created and ready for printing to take to my next two writer's conferences at least. I'm so excited!

So, if you haven't already, I challenge you to create your own One-sheet. If you're like me, and starting from scratch is too overwhelming, ask a friend to send you one that you could use as a skeleton. It really does help! (FYI: I could be that friend.)

Happy One-sheeting everyone!

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, June 1, 2009

The Laundry Race!

Just like my laundry dilemmas, my writing is a race.

Will I get this ready or that ready for the next conference? Will I ever reach the end of the to-do pile that remarkably grows all the time, just like my laundry pile? The more I learn of the craft, just like the more clothing accumulated in our household, the more work there is to be done it seems.

Unlike laundry, though, we may never see the end of the pile of the writing chores because it's infinitely more important to keep learning and growing in this craft than the simple laundry task will ever pose, even if your laundry machine decides to stump you with a F22 flashing error code for deciphering. This too is conquerable. But I'm convinced that I'll never know it all when it comes to writing and will always have reason to go back and revise once more. It's like a sideways figure eight. You could retrace it forever without ever lifting pen from paper. An infinite number of times you could draw that sign, just like an infinitel number of revisions can take place.

For those who are published out there, I have to ask, do you ever wish you'd just known "this or that" before your book went into print so you could have made it even better? And for those who aren't published, when do you truly finish a manuscript? Let it go? Deem it "the best it's ever going to be"? Ever?

Surrendering to Him,