Friday, April 18, 2014

Try, Try Again by Regina Scott



Regina Scott

Persistence is imperative in the publishing industry, and there’s never a guarantee that once we reach the mountain top we’ll remain there. A tumble may require us to get back on our feet and start the climb all over. Today, author Regina Scott shares her personal journey to publication and how she got back on the road to success. ~ Dawn

Try, Try Again

We all know the pattern. An author struggles for years to polish that first book for publication, collects her fair share of rejections, and then, voila, she sells and goes on to a fulfilling writing career using her God-given talent to enrich the lives of many. Helpful critique partners, doting family, perhaps even publishing partners like an agent assure us that this is the given path trod by countless authors before us and likely trod by countless others after us.

But sometimes, it doesn’t work that way.

My career started out like that story. With encouragement from my husband, I finished one of my many romance manuscripts that were gathering dust after two children and work outside the home had left writing a distant dream. I was stunned and delighted when the story was bought by a New York publisher, with an offer for a second book, sight unseen. More books followed in quick succession, and I was encouraged to write longer stories, meatier plots. I was someone. I was going places.

Fifteen books later, my publisher cancelled my contract. Stories like mine weren’t selling well. I was devastated. I was certain God intended me to be a writer, to share my stories with readers. How could I do that if no reader ever saw them?

Today, we have more choices in these situations, but at that time, e-books were rare, self-publication something only the desperate tried. My agent suggested writing for young adults. I threw myself into the process, reading the best examples and taking courses before penning a book I loved. Again I sent that precious manuscript out into the wild, and again heard those fateful words, “I want to buy your book.”

And again, there was no subsequent contract offered. I was orphaned, a one-book wonder.

But publishing, I have learned, is for the long haul. Publishers come and go. Editors change houses. You and your agent may part ways. What is popular today among the reading public will be unpopular tomorrow. In the end, it is all about you and the words God has given you to share. Be true to that, and never give up.

April marks the publication of my twenty-seventh work of romantic fiction. I currently have an editor I adore and an agent who has been there for me through all the ups and downs. I have acquired the rights to my backlist from those early years and have brought most of them out as e-books. I’m working on an original story to self-publish as well. But if all that went away tomorrow, I would dust myself off and try, try again. Because as long as God wants me to write, the only person who can truly keep me from prospering is myself.



Tweetables:

Dust yourself off and try, try again. Click to tweet.

In the end, it is all about you and the words God has given you to share. Click to tweet.

As long as God wants you to write, the only person who can truly keep you from prospering is yourself. Click to tweet.




The moment John, Lord Hascot, encounters a young woman sheltering in his abandoned stable, his future is sealed. To prevent scandal, and protect Lady Amelia Jacoby from her parents' ire, he must propose. John's ability to trust vanished when his former love married his twin brother. Yet he offers Amelia everything she could want, except affection.

Amelia sees John's true nature shine through when he cares for his horses. But the brooding aristocrat seems determined to keep her at arm's length. Little by little Amelia will turn Hollyoak Farm into a home, but can she turn a marriage of convenience into a joyful union?



Regina Scott has survived the publishing industry for more than 15 years, winning awards, penning more than two dozen stories, and seeing her work translated into many languages. She currently writes for Love Inspired Historical. Reviewers have been raving about her April release, The Husband Campaign, calling it “a stirring inspirational romance” and saying “Regina Scott’s writing style is as graceful as her heroine.”

You can connect with Regina online at her website www.reginascott.com, the blog she shares with author Marissa Doyle at www.nineteenteen.com, and her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/authorreginascott



Thursday, April 17, 2014

Birthing Great Characters by Dora Hiers

Dora here. Over the last few years, I have been blessed with many writer friends whose encouragement and fellowship make this writing journey so much sweeter. One such friend is award-winning inspirational author, Myra Johnson. Shortly after she moved to NC, we began teaming up to offer presentations covering a number of writing topics. One of our most popular workshops is Creating Characters that Come Alive. With her permission, over the next couple of months I will be sharing a few "teasers" from our workshop.


Are you a visual person? Do you see my hand waving high in the air?
How many times have you shelled out good money to watch a movie after reading the book, and then been disappointed that the actor/actress didn’t look anything like the image in your head? Did it spoil the movie for you?
Or, perhaps as a writer, you have no trouble glossing over body parts without a firm picture in your head...
“Kindness glimmered from his rugged, just-woke-up-and-no-time-to-shave face, and his powerful shoulders suggested he was a man who could carry any burden, no matter how heavy.”  ~Rori’s Healing, coming soon with Pelican Book Group
But what about painting the picture of your hero's face? Do you need something concrete? An image you can relate to, eyes for you to glimpse into their soul and to discover who they really are beneath the mask they show the world?

So what's the first step I take to bring my characters to life? 


I give them a face.
Here is a list of my favorite spots to find faces.
Magazines or department store sales fliers. Sometimes you can get several pictures of the same model in different clothes and poses.
Online sites like IMDb (an entertainment site) or Pinterest. Keep in mind copyright infringement laws. I only use these pictures for my reference.

Wikipedia. Not only is Wikipedia loaded with photos, it’s also a great source for character bios, which can be tweaked for your story.

Someone you know in real life. Maybe you know someone with the right look or a certain characteristic, like hair or eye color. Readers will appreciate and relate to your characters more if they’re not perfect or model gorgeous.

I don’t know about you, but my hero and heroine have to look good together or match. Initially in Journey’s Embrace, my love interests weren’t clicking for me, so a few pages into writing, I switched the hero out with another, and whoa! The words literally flowed from my fingertips, and the romantic tension was exactly what the original characters lacked.

Just a note of caution, though, as we’re discussing characters. Do what works to get the words on the page, but don’t become overly attached to the images you’ve formed while writing. Once you get that contract, you’ll submit a description of your characters to your editor, but it’s up to the publisher to find the closest match from their available stock photos. You may or may not have a final say in their choice.

Writers, what is your favorite destination to find faces for your characters?
Readers, chime in with your favorite fictional characters and why they are special to you.

Join us next month when we’ll give our characters a ...
hmmm, you'll just have to stop back by to find out. :)

Journey's Embrace
Purchase Link
After an injury forces Deputy U.S. Marshal Sage Michaelson off duty, he heads to his hometown with two things on his mind: recuperating and reevaluating, but Sage can’t refuse his best friend’s plea to keep a protective eye on his little sister after someone ransacks her house. But Delaney’s not so little anymore—and definitely not the young “Dane” Sage remembers. 

Flight Medic Delaney Hunt has loved Sage forever. But, he’s all about control and order while she embraces life and takes risks. As much as the idea appeals to her, she doesn’t need Sage looking over her shoulder. But when things go wrong and she finds herself hanging by her fingertips, who does she call to rescue her? 

Dora Hiers
Will Delaney ever be the woman Sage wants by his side? Can Sage learn to live by grace, recognizing that God is in control? Can they overcome their fears to embrace life together?


Dora Hiers is a multi-published author of Heart Racing, God-Gracing romances. She’s a member of RWA, ACFW, and the Treasurer for ACFW-Charlotte Chapter. Connect with her here on Seriously Write, her personal blogTwitterFacebook or Pinterest.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Three Ingredients of Creativity in Successful Writing By Rebecca Barlow Jordan





I read a post on creativity written by Rebecca Barlow Jordan. I found it inspiring and asked Becky to share it here. -- Sandy






Rebecca: In our culture of instant gratification and easy publication, creativity in writing may suffer. Here are three ingredients that contribute to successful, creative writing:


  • Patience

Just as in life, creativity in successful writing includes all the seasons: spring, when ideas bloom; editors love your writing; you sign contracts; and readers buy your work. Patience includes waiting (and sometimes wading) through all the seasons of writing.

Then comes fall, a time for change and reflection, “breathing in,” so you can experience the harvesting of ideas and “breathing out” later. Writing also includes winter, a season to let your ideas simmer, and maybe even die, so they can spring up later with “new life.” And then follows summer, a time for resting, or even celebrating the successes God has given.

Then what is the season for actual creative writing? It’s always the season for creativity. Writing is not just pounding out 1000 words a day to reach a goal. Successful creativity involves all of the above “seasons.” Pause. Rest. Reflect. Breathe in. Breathe Out. Write. Rewrite. Celebrate. Pause, Rest…Writers with no patience may try to circumvent a season, but few realize the fruits of their labor without them.

  • Persistence 
Persistence is similar to patience, yet different. Waiting sounds more passive. But persistence infers action. While “waiting,” write something new, or rewrite what you’ve already written. Never give up on a good idea, always editing, reorganizing, changing it in some way until it’s marketable–if possible. But when your creation needs a funeral, bury it and move on.

  • Perspiration 

Some writers wait for inspiration to hit before writing. That’s not the kind of patience I referred to earlier. Every truly good idea is God-inspired. We can do nothing of ourselves. But God usually gives us ideas in their raw form–like a lump of clay waiting to be shaped into something beautiful and usable–along with the skills or the help to accomplish that. Successful writers must work hard at their craft like anyone else. 


When to write? Write now. Write with patience. Write with persistence. And write with perspiration. Notice I didn’t mention passion. That’s because in writing, passion is a given.  I know of few successful writers who lack passion of some kind. It may be the need for expression, the desire for an audience, or the dream for fame. Everyone can express themselves uniquely. Some will gain a hearing. A few will taste fame.

But those who write with “fire in their bones,” like the passion of Jeremiah, are the ones who “can’t not write” no matter how many rejections they receive. Fueled by a cause, a message, the sheer beauty of creating, and the Supreme Author Himself–to these, passion is not an option or a key. It’s their motive. They may not achieve stardom, but they understand that true success is simply hearing God’s “Well Done.”

And after all, isn’t that what really matters?

Do not neglect your gift…Be diligent…give yourself wholly…so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life…closely. Persevere…” 1 Timothy 4:14-16, NIV

*Rebecca adapted and condensed this post from her blog at http://www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com/three-keys-to-success-writing/


What season is your creativity in? Have you employed the patience, persistence, and perspiration needed to be successful with your gift?


~~~



Persistence paid off for Rebecca Barlow Jordan. In her first attempts at writing (greeting cards), she netted over 1000 rejects. She is now the author of 11 books and over 1700 greeting cards, devotions, and other inspirational pieces, including Zondervan’s Day-votions® series for women, as well as a writer for Guideposts’ Mornings with Jesus devotionals for 2013, 2014, and 2015. Rebecca loves to paint encouragement on the hearts of others and does that weekly at her website and blog, www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com/blog. As a minister’s wife, mom, and grandmom living in East Texas, she is also a passionate follower of Jesus. Rebecca enjoys gardening and reading good fiction, and she is currently working on her first novel.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Soul Care for the Christian Writer by Katie Ganshert

Katie Ganshert
Whether a portrayal in media, or an actual thing we’ve encountered, we’re all probably familiar with the tortured writer. The neurotic, anti-social novelist who smokes a pack a day, drinks whiskey for breakfast, and swings between mania and depression.

I get it. I do. Because as exhilarating as this writing journey can be, there have been legit times when I’ve resented it.

Friends, we’re in a tough line of work.

We deal daily in things like rejection, waiting, obscurity, criticism, writer’s block, insecurity, comparison, and being misunderstood by the majority of people around us—who don’t get what in the world we are doing with our time or why we had to say no to a seemingly harmless request (like plant-sitting while they are on vacation. Dude, we will kill your plant. Not out of malice or laziness, but out of complete distraction. Trust us when we say, our no is a good thing).

On top of all this, there are deadlines to be met. Inspiration and motivation are not luxuries we can sit and wait around for. If we’re going to meet the deadline, we need to strong-arm them into submission.

And as we deal with all these things, something is happening to our souls.

Maybe so subtly, we don’t even notice the erosion until we look up from our keyboard one day and realize our well has completely run dry.

Throw in a big life event that has nothing at all to do with writing, and the wearing-out process can be a little more dramatic. A little more sudden.

So I’m here to ask you an important question today: Are you taking care of your soul?

Because if you’re not attending to matters of the soul, your writing career (no matter how hard you try) is not going to last. Maybe you’ll get published. Maybe you’ll even have an excellent go at it. But eventually, you will become the picture painted above—burnt-out, disillusioned. With some really horrible hair days to boot.

For the sake of our hair, for the sake of those people around us who have to look at our hair, let’s take care of our souls.

Some of you might be wondering how we do that.

I’m going to get you started by asking three important questions …

First and foremost, we are Christian writers. Life, sustenance, story is found in Christ, and Christ alone. Apart from Him, we can do no good thing, writing especially.

Are you in the Word daily?

How is your prayer life?

Some of you might be thinking, but Katie! I don’t have time! Trust me when I say this. Make the time. It is the best thing you can do for your writing career.

And then third ...

What inspires you?

Is it music? Nature? A good book in a warm bath? Do you even know? Figure this out, friends. Then make time for whatever that thing is. Don’t wait until your soul is all shriveled-up and raisin-like. Step away from your computer and let yourself be inspired.

It will do wonders for your soul.

Click to Tweet
We look up from our keyboard and our well has run dry.
Step away from your computer & be inspired.
Writer, are you in the Word daily?
Friends, we're in a tough line of work.
About the Author
A Broken Kind of Beautiful
by Katie Ganshert
Carol Award winner and Christy Award finalist, Katie Ganshert graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a degree in education, and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she lives with her husband, their young son, and their goofy black lab, Bubba. When she’s not busy writing or playing or reading or snuggling, she is obsessing over the paperwork and the waiting that comes with adoption. You can visit her on her website at katieganshert.com.

A Broken Kind of Beautiful
Attempting to revive her modeling career, Ivy Clark heads to Greenbrier, South Carolina, to model wedding dresses. Her future rests with mysterious photographer Davis Knight, who gave up his New York studio to work maintenance at a local church. His decision calls into question everything Ivy has ever wanted. Could there be another meaning to the word "beauty"?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Once Upon a Time by Denise Hunter



Hey writers, have you ever sat staring at a blank screen, wondering where to begin with your next project? Denise Hunter is here today with tips on getting started. Read on! ~ Annette

Once Upon A Time
By Denise Hunter

Starting a new writing project can be scary. When you open up that document there’s nothing there but a blank page, and you’re supposed to write words that will hold a reader’s attention for 300 pages. Sound daunting? I agree. Here are a few tips for those staring blindly at the blinking curser:

1. It’s easy to get hung up on the first sentence, on the first paragraph. They’re so important, says every writing book ever written. Yes, they are. My advice, don’t strain yourself on the opening sentences in the first draft. Just get the story started. (My husband advises “Once upon a time” but I know you can do better than that.)

2. Have some idea where you’re going. You don’t need a fleshed out road map, but you should be writing toward something.

3. At the very least, know what your protagonist wants and what’s standing in his/her way. This will drive the conflict.

4. Before you sit down to write, daydream options for the opening and choose where you want to start. I like to begin with a scene, not exposition, and most readers prefer that too.

5. Just get something down. If it’s awful or you chose to start in the wrong place, you can always scrap it later. At least it got you going.

Once you have your first draft finished, go back and look at the beginning. An opening of a story has many jobs. It should connect the reader with the protagonist, establish setting, set the tone of the story, and pique the reader’s curiosity.

Of all those jobs, the one I enjoy most is piquing the reader’s curiosity. When most beginners are starting out, they tend to pour all the information they know into the first chapter—that was me fifteen years ago. This is a sure way to kill your story from the get go.

Instead of dumping out everything you think your readers need to know, dole it out slowly, sprinkling in just enough to make them curious. This is what will keep them reading. If there’s a past event that’s causing your protagonist to behave oddly in the first chapter, your reader doesn’t need to know every detail of that event—yet. Hint at it with a line or two here and there, each time giving another clue. Save the full reveal for later in the book when the reader is invested and dying to know the whole story.

This takes some practice. How much do you hold back? How much do you tell and when? The best way to get a feel for this is to be aware of it when you’re reading others’ books.

When your opening is finished, find a critique partner and see if you got it right or if it needs some tweaking. 

Below is a link to the first chapter of Dancing with Fireflies, which released last month. See if you can spot the lines that pique your curiosity.



~~~~~

Dancing with Fireflies released March, 2014 from Thomas Nelson

Dancing with Fireflies

Jade returns home to Chapel Springs after years of protecting her fragile heart. Then along comes Daniel, making her long to dance again.

Creative and complicated, Jade McKinley felt like a weed in a rose garden growing up in Chapel Springs. When she left, she thought she’d never look back. But now, pregnant, alone, and broke, she has no other choice but to return.
The mayor of Chapel Springs, Daniel Dawson, has been an honorary member of the McKinley family for years. While his own home life was almost non-existent, Daniel fit right into the boisterous McKinley family. He’s loved Jade for years, but she always saw him as a big brother. Now that she’s back, his feelings are stronger than ever.

As Jade attempts to settle in, nothing feels right. God seems far away, she’s hiding secrets from her family, and she’s strangely attracted to the man who’s always called her “squirt." Finding her way home may prove more difficult than she imagined.

~~~~~

DeniseHunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 20 books, including Barefoot Summer and The Convenient Groom. She has won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader’s Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist. When Denise isn’t writing she’s busy raising three heroes-in-the making with her husband.
You can learn more about Denise through her website www.DeniseHunterBooks.com or by visiting her FaceBook page at https://www.facebook.com/authordenisehunter

Friday, April 11, 2014

Turning Your Life Conflicts into Your Story Conflicts by Katy Lee



Katy Lee

So, your day isn’t going very well. Actually, nothing has gone right. How do you handle it? Today on Seriously Write, author Katy Lee offers tips and encouragement on how to use negative experiences to enhance your writing. ~ Dawn






Turning Your Life Conflicts into Your Story Conflicts 
by Katy Lee

Life is full of unexpected experiences that can halt your writing.  A disagreement with a family member, a fender-bender in the grocery store parking lot.  Or perhaps the experience is positive, like a contest win where all you want to do is celebrate.  In these states of mind we may decide to close the computer up and take a break, or decide to vent our anger by cleaning the bathroom.  Our first thought might be that we’re not in the right frame of mind to write, that are focus will be off and so won’t our writing.  But that may not be the case at all.

For example, do you have a villain who is supposed to be angry about something, but his scene is falling flat?  Take advantage of your own anger in the moment to write the scene with that villain using your own deep emotions to make his part more authentic.  Do you write romance?  Things aren’t always sweet as pie for couples, in real life and in your books.  Don’t let a little quarrel with your spouse go unused.  Sit down and write some heart wrenching tension into your stories.  Let your fingers fly while you still have the tension in you.  And what about that contest win you are jumping with glee about?  All feels right in your world at the moment.  Sounds like a great HEA (Happily Ever After) to me.  Get it down on paper while you’re still jubilant.  Imagine your reader feeling that same wondrous feeling as they close your book…and then immediately check out your backlist or mark their calendar for your next release. 

But wait!  There’s more!  All this conflict switching can only help in our personal experiences.  Writing has a way of releasing our first negative reactions—the ones where we want to give a piece of our mind, not bring peace to our minds.  These are the moments where we want to respond with negativity, rather than compassion, mercy, forgiveness, love, peace, goodness…you get the picture.  Writing out the emotion has the power to change our atmospheres for the better.  A win-win for all involved.  When all that passion is poured out on the page rather than on another human being, friendships and marriages can be saved.  Even when you choose to write a happy scene while joy is coursing through you, you’ll be filled with more satisfaction than when you began, because you’ll be writing an emotionally-filled HEA.  And that’s a great reason to celebrate!

Of course, if you would rather use your energy to clean the bathroom, I’m sure that could also save relationships, too. 

Thank you, everyone for joining me today.  I do hope you will check out my latest Love Inspired Suspense, GRAVE DANGER, where my heroine, Forensic Anthropologist, Lydia Muir has her patience tried by the local sheriff, Wesley Grant.  Maybe she should take up writing….



Tweetables:

Have you tried using your own anger to write scenes with more authenticity? Click to tweet. 

Try using your own experiences to write heart wrenching tension into your stories. Click to tweet.

Today on Seriously Write, author Katy Lee offers tips on how to use negative experiences to enhance your writing.  Click to tweet.




BONES OF CONTENTION: When skeletal remains are found on a small Maine island, forensic anthropologist Lydia Muir is sent to investigate. It's Lydia's job to determine whether the homicide happened long ago—or more recently. Island sheriff Wesley Grant seems sure the murder didn't happen on his watch. But when Lydia uncovers the victim's identity, someone goes to great lengths to get Lydia off the island. Wes vows to protect her, but is the handsome lawman holding something back?

4 1/2 Stars! Fantastic...A Keeper! "Multiple false leads will keep the reader guessing. The action is intense in this character-driven suspense. Fans of the TV show “Bones” will enjoy Lydia's character and her knowledge of the field of forensics."    ~Romantic Times Book Reviews Magazine



As an inspirational romantic-suspense author, Katy Lee writes higher-purpose stories in high-speed worlds. Through her writing, ministry work, and teaching, Katy dedicates her life to sharing tales of love-- from the “greatest love story ever told’, to the sweet romantic tales of falling in love.  Katy and her husband are lifelong New Englanders, and have been known to travel far and wide on a whim with their three adventuresome children.  

Connect with Katy anytime at www.KatyLeeBooks.com.  There you will see her Facebook and Twitter links to connect with her further.