Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed . ~ 2 Timothy 2:15

Thursday, December 15, 2011

E-books and publishing

Here's a good blog on the effect of e-books on the publishing industry:

Hmmm . . . I just may offer Before I Die, my first novel, as an e-book in 2012. What do you think?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Whiskey Run update

Whiskey Run update:
Last week's word count: 16,911
This week's word count: 17,277
Words written: 366

No new chapters, though. I went back through chapters 1 through 6 and added and deleted. I need to move forward with this thing . . .

A couple of interesting articles you might want to check out:

"Seven Habits of Serious Writers" 

"How to Get More Done By Pretending You're on an Airplane"

"Kathryn Stockett's 'The Help' Turned Down 60 Times Before Becoming a Best Seller"

That's it. Short and sweet this week.

Until next week . . .

Keep writing!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Finding the spark again

Sixteen thousand-plus words into my novel, I stalled out. I combed through the chapters I'd written, tweaked it, and hoped I could recapture the story, get into my character's mind and heart, and get the flow back. I began an update on this blog, hoping the accountability of reporting weekly word counts to an unseen audience would create a spark.

But it wasn't until I met with my Writing Academy critique group at the WA's writers retreat last weekend that the flame flared. I went back to my room and rewrote the end of chapter 6, knowing--finally--where the next chapter would go. As the words flowed, I was once again in 1916 Whiskey Run, inside my protagonist's mind and heart. The excitement was back. I couldn't wait to write again.

Last year, neither of my online critique groups--both fiction critique groups, although we've critiqued nonfiction, too--was active. And it showed. We feed each other. Online critique groups are especially convenient. We exchange one chapter a week and critique at our leisure, in our jammies if we want. 

So, if you want to recapture the excitement, stir the muse, and get the words flowing again, join a critique group. If you belong to one, keep it active. You'll be glad you did.

Whiskey Run update:
Last week's word count: 16,301
This week's word count: 16,911
Words written:  610  

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fresh wind, rekindled fire

I've been looking forward to the 2011Writing Academy Writers Weekend  ever since I was asked to attend as a mentor. I'll meet with writers and critique their fiction manuscripts at the beautiful Mt. Olivet Conference and Retreat Center near Minneapolis. And, after the year I've had, it'll be a retreat for me, too.

Suffice to say carpal tunnel surgery, seven months of pain from three herniated neck discs, surgery to repair them, a flu-like virus that had me down for a month, and an allergic reaction to wasp stings have made 2011 a challenging year. Not to mention the crushing disappointment when the editor who asked to meet with me at the ACFW conference last September--who liked my book manuscript and my ideas--emailed me to tell me the publishing house committee turned down my book proposal and wasn't interested in any of my ideas.

All this drained me physically, mentally, and spiritually.

So I need this retreat.

And God made sure I got it.

Besides meet with writers, I plan to soak in the peaceful surroundings, rest, read, and write. I've packed the March through August issues of The Writer (which I haven't had the chance to read yet), and my folders for story call outs and my Pathways to God devotional assignment (due Sept. 1). I'll also edit a fiction manuscript from one of my Novel Buds, my online critique group. And I just downloaded a free ebook on my Kindle yesterday for some leisure reading (and analysis of how other fiction writers write).

And, oh yes, work on my own novel-in-progress, Whiskey Run.

How long is the retreat, you ask? Not long enough. (Thursday, July 28-Monday, Aug.1, with Thursday and Monday travel days)

My writing goals for the coming year include finishing Whiskey Run; formatting and uploading my first novel, Before I Die, to Amazon and B&N as an ebook; ditto my second novel, The Heart Remembers; submit book proposals for said novels to a couple of smaller book publishers; putting together and publishing a third book of meditations (compilation of favorites from my column since 2002); and writing and submitting more PE stories and articles.

I probably won't get all that done. But man without vision will perish.

But I plan to come back with fresh wind beneath my wings and rekindled fire in my heart.

Update on Whiskey Run:
Word count: 16,301
Words written since last Thursday (Thursday to Wednesday): -40

No, I didn't go backward. I read and revised what I'd already written in November, adding and deleting text, which left me with 40 less words than I had last week. The reading and revising stage is now done. I'm ready to start writing chapter 7.

BTW, I read that the late Dick Francis, author of the best-selling horse jockey/racing mysteries, did not revise or rewrite. "He labored over each sentence . . . until it was as good as he could make it and then moved on," Readers Digest Select Editions editors wrote. Wrote Francis in his autobiography: "My first draft is IT."

Hmmmm . . . . sounds like what I do--agonize over each sentence until I'm satisfied I got it right. But I still go back and tweak, perfectionist that I am.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Punctuation points

In my editing, I come across writers who use ellipses in place of periods and commas, resulting in overuse.

To illustrate:
"In the beginning was the Word . . . and the Word was with God . . . and the Word was God" (John 1:1).

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1).

Ellipsis points (three spaced dots) are used to indicate an omission of a word, phrase, line, or paragraph from a quoted passage:

"By faith Moses . . .  was hidden by his parents . . . because they saw that the child was beautiful" (Hebrews 11:23).

When used to indicate a break in thought or faltering speech, ellipses are called suspension points:

"I . . . uh . . . I . . . didn't . . . uh . . . see you."

Too often I see suspension points/ellipses used  in place of commas or periods:

"She showered . . . put on her makeup . . . blew her hair dry . . . and ironed her new capris . . . all in the half hour before her blind date arrived."

Commas will do and won't distract the reader:

"She showered, put on her makeup, blew her hair dry, and ironed her new capris all in the half hour before her blind date arrived."

When you find yourself using ellipses or suspension points, ask yourself:
  • Am I omitting a word, phrase, sentence, or paragraph from a quotation? If so, use them.
  • Will a comma or period create the effect I want (which is a pause or break in thought)? If yes, then use the comma or period.
  • Do I want to suggest faltering speech? If you do, then use the suspension points.
Ellipses, or suspension points, are like pepper: Use sparingly. Sprinkle in with care. Too much, and the dish is unpalatable.

Update on Whiskey Run:

Word count: 16,341
Words written since last Thursday (Thursday to Wednesday): 101

It doesn't look like much, but I didn't work on this for 15-10 minutes every day, as I planned to. I didn't make it a priority. Fie! Fie! 

My excuse: It's been since November, and before I can move forward, I have to go back and review what I've written, immerse myself into the story once again. So I combed through the first two chapters, reading and revising.

Not as much as I wanted to do, but more than I'd done in seven months. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Getting back to it

I'm not.

Writing, that is.

And I want to be.

Then why aren't I?

Good question.

I could give the excuse that I don't have time. Too many other things to do, like play Scrabble on Facebook or update my blogs (I maintain three--this one, my inspirational blog, and the Punxsy Christian Women's Conference blog.) or edit a manuscript or review CWG lessons or . . .

I need to be writing. And I need to set it as a priority.

In November, I left my heroine in a one-room schoolhouse wondering how to prove that her fiance didn't murder the miner in Whiskey Run. She'd just found the match to the cufflink found at the murder scene in her desk. After 16K words, I let it go. Too much else going on.

I need to get back to it.

I want to get back to it.

I will get back to it.

I'm the type of person who doesn't like to leave things undone. All the laundry had to be done in one day, even if I did seven or ten loads. The entire house had to be cleaned in one day. It irked me that I couldn't lose 25 pounds in one week. Now I have 50 pounds to lose.

"Yard by yard, the going's hard; but inch by inch, it's a cinch."

So I work at it every day, making sure I eat right and get a walk in. Little by little, those pounds will come off. And, at nearly 60, I can't do the laundry or clean the house in one day anymore. I do one load a day, and keep the house "rid up."

So it is with writing a novel.

I must--I will--make it a priority to set aside 15 to 30 minutes a day to work on it. To write. I'll have to fight to urge to "finish the chapter." Finishing can be a hangup. I don't have time to write an entire chapter, so I don't write anything.

A seventeenth century French writer used the ten minutes waiting for his wife to finish dressing for dinner to good use: to write. And in a year, he'd written a book.

Little things add up. Ten minutes six times a week is an hour, four hours a month. It's not what I want--I want four hours a day. But right now I don't have four hours a day. And so my unfinished novel languishes in "someday-land."

I'm going to do a brave thing--some might call it foolhardy. I'm going to post on this blog, every Thursday, how many words I've written in Whiskey Run since the last Thursday blog post.

I'll start today:

Whiskey Run:
Word count: 16,240
Words written since last Thursday (Thursday to Wednesday): 0.

Are you having trouble finding time to write? Don't despair. Just do it. Toss all those negative thoughts and excuses out of your mind and just write!

Friday, July 8, 2011

In the long run

I had good intentions. I was fired up, inspired about this blog for writers. But that's the way it is when a project is in its idea, design, and launch stages. The true test lies in the long run. Endurance.

On June 6, I had surgery to repair three herniated neck disks--after seven months of sometimes debilitating pain. (For more on this, read my inspirational blog entry, "Selah.") Which is what happened to my endurance. Seven months of pain takes a lot out of you--body, mind, and spirit.

I might have been down, but I wasn't out. I'm slowly getting back in the run, even if I have to walk--plod--at first. Sometimes I'm itching to get back to the novel I started back in November, when my left arm first started going numb. Sometimes I'm too tired to care. I have a list, though, on an electronic sticky note on my computer desktop:
  1. Prepare my third book of meditations for publication and release this fall
  2. Prepare my novel, Before I Die, to upload to Amazon and B&N as an ebook
  3. Complete Pathways to God assignment
Add in bookkeeping (I haven't even started 2011 yet), my radio program and column, mentoring, editing, preparing for speaking engagements, organizing a fall women's conference, writing articles for at least three publications, submitting stories for publication in upcoming Chicken Soup books, planning and implementing the 2011-12 adult Sunday school publicity program, getting ready for the 2011-2011 school year. Gee, I'm tired just writing about it.

It looks like a lot, but the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Endurance begins when you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, ignore the pain, and take that step.

  • I've done away with the weekly schedule for this blog. I'd rather it be spontaneous. I'm an organized person and thrive on lists, but sometimes organization tosses creativity out the window.
  • Literary agent Steve Laube just launched  Publishing News, a e-newspaper with the latest on what's going on in the publishing world. Some interesting stuff. Why not subscribe to it and keep up-to-date? I did.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

110 ways to avoid writing, part 5 (final)

91.    Read a stack of papers your son brought home from school
92.    Call your best friend to see if she wants to order a pie from the school’s PTA
93.    Call your grandmother across the country to catch up
94.    Check all the ink pens, hiliters and markers on your desk and in your purse and pitch the ones that don’t work
95.    Check the counter on your Web site
96.    Re-read your bio
97.    Re-read your publishing credits
98.    Check your Inbox
99.    Smear your hands with hand cream
100.    Wipe off hand cream from your keyboard
101.    Count the number of days left in this month
102.    Brush your teeth
103.    Gargle
104.    Floss your teeth
105.    Separate all your paper clips
106.    Watch the snow melt or the wind blow through the trees
107.    Trim the wicks on all the candles in the house
108.    Read a novel to study how it’s done
109.    Exercise
110.    Take a shower

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

110 ways to avoid writing, part 4

67.    Re-read your New Year’s resolutions
68.    Make up a “Belated Happy Birthday” e-card to send to your niece, whose birthday was last month
69.    Go to the bathroom
70.    Get another can of pop to satisfy your caffeine fix
71.    Untangle your rubber bands
72.    Bring a stack of napkins to keep in your desk drawer
73.    Empty the garbage can by your desk
74.    Go through the house and empty all the garbage cans
75.    Clean out the bathroom closet
76.    Clean your computer monitor screen
77.    Balance the checkbook
78.    Add more paper to the fax machine
79.    Light a scented candle
80.    Sharpen all the pencils in your pencil-holder
81.    Get a dust mop and attack all the cob webs in the house
82.    Drink a glass of water
83.    Read a chapter in How to Write Fast (While Writing Well) by David Fryxell
84.    Read through this month’s Writer’s Digest
85.    Read through last month’s Writer’s Digest
86.    Put three year’s worth of Writer’s Digests in chronological order
87.    Re-organize your book shelves
88.    Go to the bathroom
89.    Put a new roll of toilet paper on the roller
90.    Vacuum the cat hair off the steps

Thursday, May 5, 2011

110 ways to avoid writing, part 3

45.    Read a chapter in your diet book
46.    Go to the bathroom
47.    Eat a Klondike
48.    Wipe the dripped ice cream off your keyboard
49.    Change your T-shirt
50.    Drink another glass of water
51.    Try out  your exercise bike
52.    Clean your tape recorder
53.    Make supper early
54.    Dust the living room
55.    Feed the cat
56.    Go to the bathroom
57.    Make up a writing “do-list”
58.    Read through your schedule book
59.    Check your Inbox
60.    Check the weather forecast on The Weather Channel
61.    Check the weather forecast on
62.    Drink a glass of water
63.    Put more paper in your printer
64.    Make sure you have an extra ink cartridge in your drawer
65.    Check the answering machine for messages
66.    Re-read your writing goals

Thursday, April 28, 2011

110 ways to avoid writing, part 2

23.    Count your postage stamps
24.    Look up “Appomattox”
25.    Drink another 12 ounces of water
26.    Play Solitaire on the computer
27.    Clean out your Inbox
28.    Call your mother
29.    Call your mother-in-law
30.    Change your socks
31.    Take the dog for a walk
32.    Take the cat for a walk
33.    Go to the bathroom
34.    Clean your keyboard
35.    Clean out your purse
36.    Clean out your wallet
37.    Surf the ‘Net
38.    Check your Inbox
39.    Re-read all the messages in your “Sent” box
40.    Drink 12 ounces of water
41.    Vacuum the dead labybugs from the floor
42.    Put more ice in your pop
43.    Put your coupons in order by expiration date
44.    Fix a low-carb, high protein snack
45.    Read a chapter in your diet book

Monday, April 25, 2011

110 ways to avoid writing, part 1

It's been a challenging year, health-wise. From carpal tunnel surgery in December to surgery to replace three herniated disks in my neck on June 6, I've dealt with debilitating pain that prevented me from keeping up with things, like this blog. Throw in a couple months of congestion, a two-week bout with a nasty virus, an allergic reaction to a wasp sting, and teaching half-days at the local Christian school. . .

But I'm feeling better now and went through my old files to find something I came up with in 2006 (while I was trying to avoid writing). As you know, we writers are notorious procrastinators . . . so I give you 110 WAYS TO AVOID WRITING (in five weekly parts):


1. Take a shower
2. Drink a glass of water
3. Soak in a bubble bath
4. Pick the lint out of your belly button
5. Shampoo your hair
6. Take a nap (after all, you were up until 3 a.m. trying to meet your deadline)
7. Trim your fingernails
8. Go to the bathroom
9. Trim your toe nails
10. Clean out the toe jam from between your toes
11. Change the burned out bulbs in your ceiling light
12. Straighten up your desk
13. Drink 12 ounces of water
14. Clean out your desk drawers
15. Dust the knickknacks on your bookshelves
16. Take the garbage out
17. Make the bed
18. Put on a sweatshirt
19. Go to the bathroom
20. Take off the sweatshirt and put on a T-shirt
21. Take a walk to the mailbox
22. Alphabetize this week’s grocery list

Come back Thursday for part 2.