Two Lists to Inspire Writers in the New Year

This year rather than making resolutions I decided to make two goal lists. (Those who know me know I strive on lists. J) I hope they will help me achieve two simple goals. Write more and increase the number of published words I produce this year. In theory the lists should help me pull myself back on track when….

I need to write but dinner needs preparing. I need to edit but I have to help with homework. I need to create a blog but I’m exhausted from work. My chore list grows along with my to-do-writing list. AHHHHHH! I hope instead to take a breath and review my lists. They are inspired by two overused phrases from Disney movies.

let it go

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Let it Go

  • Stop trying to cram too much into every day.
  • Give myself permission to say no. I don’t have to do all things for all people.
  • Resist the fear of rejection.
  • Everyone has an opinion, allow them to express it and move on. My housekeeping prowess does not reflect on my ability to achieve other goals.
  • Not every negative critique or review defines who I am. Shift through them, find the gems and throw the rest away.
  • Reject the Lie that I am not good enough.
  • Forgo time spent on things that don’t advance my goals or hold any eternal value.
  • Ignore comments from friends who don’t understand my goals and insist my time could be better spent.
  • Turn away for a time from the manuscript I’ve been tweaking and move on to the next story stirring in my heart.

Maynard

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Get’er Done

  • Spend time reviving my spirit and exercising my body so my mind is fresh and inspired to write.
  • Achieve my word count goal every day.
  • Set aside time to write.
  • Grab moments every chance I get to put my ideas on paper.
  • Say No to things that rob time I could spend writing.
  • Balance marketing and social media with writing.
  • Take time to read craft books, listen to webinars and learn more about my craft.
  • Plan writing projects and stick to the plan.

 

What would you add to this list? I’d love to know.

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The Best Gift You Can Give The Writer In Your Life

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The perfect gift for the Writer in your life.    Photo from Morgue file.com

I’ve seen a lot of blogs this week with Christmas gift suggestions for writers. Lots of great how-to-books, pens, journals and writing courses. All of them wonderful ideas. Then my mind wandered to more sensitive gifts. Ways families and friends can gift encouragement and support for the writers in their lives. (So, writers if you find my suggestions as things you want to add to your gift wish list, print this off and tape it to the frig or share through social media.)

Here is my encouragement list in no particular order.

Writer’s Hat

If you have children—I almost wrote small children but then I realized even adult children can interrupt a writer’s creative time—present your writer with a hat that is to be worn when they are crafting wonderful words and fabulous fiction. Whenever you see the hat, you know not to show them hilarious FB videos or celebrity tweets. Don’t request help with anything. Tell callers they are indisposed, and don’t let anyone at the door disturb the writer in their special hat. Everyone needs to respect the hat or scarf or cardboard sign. (Doesn’t matter what you use to indicate writer working.)

Food

Fix dinner for the family and invite your writer spouse to join you. This is not the time to ask what’s for dinner, hinting you want her to leave her characters. How can you expect her to close the door on 1840 and come up with a sit down family meal? You will more likely get peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips and soggy carrots for your trouble. Even worse: last week’s twice warmed over meatloaf surprise. There will be times you will find your writer in the kitchen creating lovely meals because writer’s block has shut the characters in a dilemma. Enjoy the meal and say thank you. Once the dilemma is solved you may not see a home cooked meal for a while.

Chores

The lawn may not get mowed or the flowers weeded. Hire the neighbor kid to do it when the writing muse calls your hubby to his keyboard. Don’t expect the house to get painted or the plumbing fixed unless he too is in a writer’s block dilemma. If you’re desperate call a professional.

Respect the Space

Keep your stuff out of their writing space. No using their computer to play games or Skype with friends. Don’t borrow scratch paper from the pile on their desk. It’s a good chance junior may create a snowflake out of the murder scene that didn’t get save after it was printed off. Don’t even think about touching their desk, laptop or tablet—EVER!

coconut balls finished

Chocolate

Providing chocolate and other healthy snacks during the final stretch approaching deadline is a precious gift indeed.

Be a fan

It’s amazing how many writers say their family and friends don’t read their work. Come on! How could you be so rude? Read it, talk about it to others, write a review for Amazon. Carry their books around in your car to sell to your friends and co-workers. Be a supporter and cheerleader.

Did I mention chocolate.

Mini get-away

Because most writers have a day job so their writing time is not always easy to carve out, send your writer to the library, Starbucks or any place he/she loves to write undisturbed. Or take the kids on a day trip so mom or dad can write in peace. They will be revived and excited and oh so grateful. They may even share their chocolate with you.

What gift of encouragement or support would you like to receive? If your family or friends have given you this precious gift, I’d love to hear about it.

 

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Interview with Author and Speaker Shellie Arnold

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I am excited to welcome Shellie Arnold to my blog today. Her debut novel The Spindle Chair captivated me. It’s the kind of book you can give to a friend who is struggling with their past and is more likely to be read than a self-help book. Check out my review on Goodreads.

My hubby loved it too. His words, “This doesn’t read like Chick Lit.” Not that he actually knows what Chick lit is, but if my guy enjoyed it so will other men.

Shellie, welcome to Writer’s Patchwork. Take a seat and help yourself to some Chai Tea. It’s a pleasure to have you here today. I am so excited (I know I already said that) to learn all that went into creating The Spindle Chair. Let’s get started.

Shellie Arnold

  1. Where did the inspiration come for the characters and their stories come from?

Thanks for having me as a guest.

There are two parts to answering that question. First, prior to illness starting in late 2002, my writing interests sat squarely on the non-fiction side of publishing. After God healed me on May 18, 2005, my husband and I prayed for eleven months before I started writing again. I didn’t take for granted I knew exactly what God wanted me to do. During those months I got pictures in my head, snapshots really, and a scene from what became The Spindle Chair. I didn’t know what those images were for, but in conversation with God I felt He wanted me to pursue fiction, even though that’s not what I’d been pursuing before. I started studying craft and attending critique groups working on what became The Spindle Chair.

The second part of my answer is, that I’ve always wanted to help marriages. When I realized what the pictures in my head actually were—scenes from a novel—I knew I could write about marriages using fiction, and actually show people’s struggles and emotions, history and discoveries. That’s the journey I hope to show through my fiction—a real journey through something tough, that ends with a stronger, healthy marriage.

  1. You have a passion to build strong marriages. Tell us about that?

I’m from a broken home. I remember the moment I knew my parents’ marriage would end in divorce. I was devastated, and as I grew older I was frightened of the idea of marriage. I thought “Either there’s no way to be married without hurting each other, or if there is, God isn’t sharing the secret.” When I knew God wanted me to marry, I pretty much told Him I’d only do it if He promised to teach me how to do marriage. I want to share all I’ve learned the hard way, in the hope it will help others who have as much stacked against them as my husband and I did.

  1. Why choose a pastor as your main character?

Great question! As a new author, I really have to prove myself, and one aspect of good fiction is the situations presented must be believable. I knew what I wanted my main character and his wife to go through, but I also knew I wanted God to speak to them through scripture. I felt it would be believable—or maybe more believable—to have a young pastor remembering scriptures he’d memorized as opposed to a new convert or an “inactive” believer.

I really wanted to show how a past hurt or trauma can affect a life and a marriage. And, I wanted to show that although facing that hurt or trauma so God can heal it is a painful process, that process doesn’t have to destroy your marriage.

  1. What would you hope your readers take away from your story?

Another great question, and thanks for the opportunity to answer it, because this is my heart: I really want readers to know that God is always at work in their marriage, even if they can’t see it. He’s always reaching, always trying to grow us, heal us, change us—not only to be conformed to the image of Christ, but to also “become one.” I hope readers will take away hope—both the belief and the knowledge that no storm in marriage is evidence of God’s absence, but rather is proof of His presence and work and purpose in their lives.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1941103871/

  1. Any other writing projects in the works?

Oh, yes. Many. I’m working on edits for book 2 of The Barn Church series. Sticks and Stones will be released in October 2016. I’m also writing book 3, Abide with Me, which is slated to release October 2017. The proposal for my first stand-alone novel is with the publisher right now, and while I’m waiting to hear back I’m writing that book. It’s about one-third complete.

I also write and produce video seminar teachings on various marriage topics, which are available through my web site www.shelliearnold.com. I’m giving away a complete teaching package BREAK THE CONFLICT CYCLE. Just log onto my web site and you’ll see it and other YOUR MARRIAGE resources available there.

Rise to Freedom cover resized

Finally, I’m working on my first non-fiction book. The topic is sexuality in marriage, and I have a much different take on the subject than other materials I’ve seen. I can’t WAIT to for that book to be published. I’m hoping for a 2017 release date for Awakening: Passion, Pleasure, and Sexual Freedom for the Christian Wife and the Husband Who Loves Her.

  1. Now for the question I always ask writers. (After all this is a writer’s blog.) What one tip would you share with up and coming novelists that you wish someone had told you?

Something I wish I’d been told…That waiting for the right agent is a smart choice. I had the opportunity at different times to sign with other agents, but I didn’t feel like I’d found a great match. That was difficult, turning down representation at times it seemed I was “missing” my only opportunity and wondering if I’d ever get another opportunity for representation. Some fellow authors thought I’d lost my mind.

Don’t settle for someone who doesn’t “get” what you’re doing, especially if you’re like me working in two genres (which is kind of taboo for a new author, and not readily accepted). Keep working on your craft, continue improving your work, and work on every project God tells you to work on. Eventually He’ll present you with the right match.

Giveaway

Shellie is giving away a teaching package called RISE TO FREEDOM to one lucky winner. She is also giving away a paperback copy of THE SPINDLE CHAIR to another winner. Just tell me in the comment section of this post on my Facebook page which item you would like to be put in the drawing for. You can be put in both drawings. I’ll draw the winners on Monday, December 14th.

More about Shellie Arnold

Shellie Arnold writes and speaks on marriage and family. She truly believes that despite baggage, neglect, or mistakes, when husbands and wives listen to God, they can live happily even after. Her passion is sharing how God has helped her do exactly that. She maintains a blog at www.shelliearnold.com, and is the founder of YOUR MARRIAGE resources. Shellie is a mother of three and has home-schooled for over twenty years. She lives in Ohio with her husband of twenty-nine years.

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Killing Off Your Lovelies

Dagger in hand held forward pointing to the right

photo from morguefile.com

I’ve been finishing rewrites to my manuscript per my editor’s suggestion. Over the years since the first draft, I’ve had to learn to kill my lovelies. Scenes written from the POV of secondary characters. Scenes evolving around secondary characters and lots and lots of words were deleted from my novel. Reading through this latest draft I recall those scenes and miss them. But you the reader will never know they have been murdered and buried in a deleted scenes file. The secondary characters stories are thinner. But that’s ok. It’s much more enjoyable for the reader to know just enough details to keep reading.

Mark Twain wrote a story about a man who followed every rabbit trail of character relationships before he ever reach the true point of his tale. By then the man had forgotten what he was talking about. It made for a hilarious tale, but done intentionally because you feel your reader needs to know those details is far from humorous. I don’t want my readers to forget key details. Or be confused by waist deep information although useful to know only bogs the reader down in descriptive details.

Some of my lovelies have been reshaped. A secondary character’s scene becomes a brief dialog. He shares his experience after the fact. We don’t get to see him do it but we feel his emotions as he shares.

Some juicy phrases shrink to a few words. But those words pack a big punch. There are juicy phrases that have stood the test of numerous rewrites. Now they are even more memorable due to the edits around them.

I’ve learned to not get too attached to secondary characters just in case they are killed off. As other authors oft state some of those characters beg to tell their story resulting in another book. One of my characters is doing that for me. So, I’m happy to revisit those deleted scenes when it’s time to resurrect her story.

What about you? What lovelies have you killed off in pursuit of a great story?

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Edison’s Reminder to Never Give Up

Edison

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

 

~Thomas A. Edison

 

Thomas Edison knew this truth more than most of us. He had hundreds of failures before he successfully invented the light bulb. What if he’d decided gaslights were doing well and no one would appreciate electric illumination. He believed in himself. Pressing forward until he succeeded. Even without a college degree he managed to create things that changed the world. He surrounded himself with experts in a variety of fields who aided him in achieving his goals.

My Writing Journey

I have discovered on my writing journey it is easy to give up. Easy to naysay to my heart. Easy to find something else to do. I am realizing the need to fight that discouragement. Inspired by this quote success is just around the corner. I’d almost given up on my first novel. I’d gotten side tracked when my youngest sister died of cancer. She had read the very rough first draft, and I hoped to get it published before she passed. A tribute to her faith in me as a writer. As her illness lingered I got this weird idea that the longer it took to get published, the longer she would live. God had given her five years rather than five months before the liver cancer took its toll. She passed and my manuscript remained unpublished.

I had become discouraged with the process and told a few friends at a writer’s conference a few months after my sister died that I needed to either throw this manuscript in the circular file or keep pressing in. I repented of using the unpublished manuscript as a talisman to keep my sister with me a little longer. How lame was I as a woman of faith to hang on to that thought. I’d already had the thing rejected numerous times. I cried and prayed with writer friends at the conference. At the closing banquet my manuscript was chosen to receive the editor’s choice award. Since then, I’ve been working with editors to get it whipped into shape.

Taking Edison’s Advice

I follow Edison’s example, I have surrounded myself with experts through writer’s blog, books, conferences, critique groups and editors. Steps taking me ever closer to publication. At this point failure is not an option. I have no excuses to comfort my soul regarding this unpublished tome. It comes down to me and my manuscript going the distance. And like Edison I’m working on more ideas. My second novel is coming together, and these blog posts keep my keyboard active. Other ideas simmer on the back burner of my writer’s heart.

Many obstacles continue to trip me up and rob my writing time. As I shared in a previous post, my parents are declining and require my time. My grandchildren are an intricate part of my life. Self-doubts never stop plaguing me.

However, I know God has gifted me with the desire to use words to share truths and spin tales of hope. So, buoyed up once again with the reminder that success is just around the corner, I press on. Each new edit and encouraging word brings me another step closer to seeing my story in print.

Are you fighting with self-doubt? What keeps you pressing forward?

 

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