Wishing You Love

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As writers we don’t often get fan mail. Our reviews aren’t always kind, some are even cruel. There is no special day set aside–National Novelist Day or National Children’s Writer Day. Our accolades are often few and far between.

We may hear a condescending tone when they  remark: You’re a writer? Why would you do that? Or I could write a book. Makes us feel unappreciated. Some of us have family members who’ve never read our work. Never attended a book signing or even purchased our book for no other reason than being  kin.

 

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photo from Pexels

 

Today, I send you love.

Good Job!!

 

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phot from Pexels

 

You’re wonderful.

Your words have value.

Even in those times when discouragement grabs you about the throat and chokes out your creativity, know you are loved by a creator who gave you this gift. Who sits with you while you write cheering you on.

 

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Saint Valentine was martyred for secretly marrying soldiers rather than allowing them to live in sin, going against the Roman Emperor’s decreed.  I like to think that each writer is following their heart even when those around them  think their time could be better spent doing something else.

I’m proud of your perseverance. You continue creating words, sharing stories and helping your readers to understand truths and concepts. Without you the world would be a dismal place.

I wish you love today, fellow authors. Without us valentine cards would not exist. (You know I had to add that.)

 

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Sending you lots of love and encouragement.

Happy Valentines Day to all my readers.

 

 

Focusing On my Writing Helps During Stressful Times

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This week has been more than hairy. My father ended up in the hospital in the midst of getting my parent’s house on the market. My Dad is already in a memory care unit and now it’s time to move my mom to assisted living. My father’s hospital stay was a nightmare and now he is in rehab with hopes of restoring function after a hard fall. He’s 87 so it won’t be easy. As POA (power of attorney) for my parents, all the decisions fall on me.  My mom needs extra attention during this time and must be removed from her home every time someone wants to view her house. She has three doctor’s appointments this week as well.

These things on top of other life events make it difficult to function at times. Yet, I find writing to be my lifeline. I’ve had to prepare two guest blogs and work on my WTP while doing other pre-pub prep for my novel’s release. Writing has been unbelievably helpful with the stress I’m under.

Some of you probably think I’m weird. I get that. In the past writing would always take a back seat to whatever else came along. It was something I did when I had time. Something I did during free moments. And certainly not in the middle of the messes of life.

As I’ve gotten older and life has not slowed down around me I have no choice. If I want to make this writing thing work I have to press forward. Maybe I can’t reach all my writing goals for the week. Every week I create a too long to-do list. That’s just my nature. If I can accomplish anything on that list during a stressful time it seems to give me balance.

Balance helps me cope. Coping leads me to pray with more clarity. Increased prayer leads me to peace. And peace helps me manage the extreme stress of my present situation.

Psalms 29:11 The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace.

 

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Musing About Storytelling

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“A fabulous writer is not necessarily a good storyteller.” Victoria Alexander from her article Twenty Things I learned in Twenty Years as an Author.

The Seekerville blog post was full of been-there-done-that moments for me. But the quote above caused me to pause. I have no idea what the author meant by her quote from her own personal experience. But her list was to encourage fellow writers and allow us to draw our own conclusions.

So, here are my thoughts on the difference. I remember as a child listening to various older people tell stories of their childhood. They didn’t just say I walked three miles in the snow. Instead they would captivate my imagination with details. I could imagine their array of friends who accompanied them along the way. The mean boy who ripped her dress whom she then chased down the street and pummeled him much to her parents’ chagrin. The unusual things they would see or find along the way.

Memorable Storytelling

It wasn’t just the incident but the things building up to it. I noticed my friends who grew up in other countries are wonderful story tellers. They build suspense as they give account of something they experienced. I remember one story that in and of itself was amazing but the added details made it more unbelievable. My friend’s family found three precious gems wrapped up in a cloth by the side of the road. Cool—right.

But the story started with her very poor family praying for God to make provision for them. They were Christians. The minority in a country where Buddhism was the recognized religion. Their faith kept their father from having steady work. We can picture in our minds how difficult that would be. Then she shared how much they enjoyed their worship time every morning. Now we know they are happy even in poverty. My friend speaks about how they all worked together to keep their home spotless. Now I can see a clean, happy, very poor family who pray and believe.

As she, her mother and another sibling were walking down the road. (I don’t recall where they were going.) my friend finds a wadded up rag and picks it up. Her mother scolds her. She was concerned about what might be in the dirty pouch. Again another bit of tension. Before she throws it down they open the bag. Inside was a ruby, an emerald and a sapphire. They are excited. Rejoiced in God’s provision all the way home. Their father takes the gems into the city and sells them. God has met their needs. End of story. But the reminder of God’s provision stays with me all these years later.

Fabulous writer????

What is a fabulous writer then if not a storyteller? You might think they write non-fiction. Perhaps. But the story I just related was factual not a fiction. But it was the style of the telling  that made it memorable. A fabulous writer can weave words with grammatical perfection. Facts have been checked, research completed and no stone left unturned. Whether they are writing an exposé or a novel, the point of touching the reader is missing when perfect grammar and strictly adhering to facts loses emotion. The heart of the story doesn’t reach the reader.

This is why a storyteller may sell more books than a fabulous writer. Readers will overlook imperfections in style, grammar even head hopping if the story engages with their heart.

Some people are natural storytellers. And when they share anything at all, people listen. Mark Twain was one of those. He turned ordinary situations into character studies his readers could relate to.

We all want to be fabulous writers who have learned the craft and practice it daily. However, if we can capture the ability to be a storyteller, readers will wait with anticipation for our next book and will carry the lessons set forth in their hearts for years to come.

What author do you love to read who has perfected the art of storytelling?

I’ll be posting another conference tip on Thursday. Here is the link to Conference Tip #1 in case you missed it. If you haven’t signed up to receive Writer’s Patchwork in  your email click on the link to the right so you don’t miss any of the ten tips I am reposting from last  year and other writerly posts.

 

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!

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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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Family: The Writer’s Cheerleader

My sister Carol Ervin and I pose with Thomas Jefferson. The last outing we had together.

My sister Carol Ervin and I pose with Thomas Jefferson. The last outing we had together.

Today would have been my baby sister Carol’s 55th birthday. She died two years ago of liver cancer. Carol was one of my cheerleaders. Writers are always advised to not rely on family to critique our books because their opinion is tainted by their love for us. That’s so true. But as I think about my sister, I know the void in my writing world without her.

She read the first draft of my first novel and gave me an honest opinion. She loved it but knew it still needed work. As I work on my second novel, I wish she were around to read it and give me her thoughts on it, as well.

While we do need honest critiques and real help from our writing community, we still need cheerleaders. Family and friends buoy us up when we are ready to quit this writer’s life madness and go do something more fun.

My mother, Audrey Ervin, has always been a reader and my biggest cheerleader.

My mother, Audrey Ervin, has always been a reader and my biggest cheerleader.

My mother saved every article I wrote when I was a columnist for the Beacon News. She kept them in a scrapbook. Recently, she gave me that scrapbook along with some children’s magazines I had written for. All of these words dated back decades. It felt strange to see my work treasured like an elementary student’s special awards and artwork.

My sisters Linda Ervin and Carol Ervin always an encouragement.

My sisters Linda Ervin and Carol Ervin always an encouragement.

My other sister, Linda, also read my first draft and shared it with a friend at work. They read when they should have been working. She gave me information about horses from her years of experience riding, roping and cleaning stalls. Her praise of my descriptions was priceless.

They keep the fire from dying

Carol would ask how my writing was going, and when I’d quit writing for a decade my mother would always say, “You were really good.” Then she’d joke. “You should write a book about me; it would be a best seller.”

When I finally heard God nudge me back to my calling, it was family that inquired about my progress.

Yes, our family and friends can also be our greatest naysayers when we don’t give them our undivided attention because of deadlines. But they are the first to buy our books and brag to their friends about us. They are our best marketers.

So, as I look back on times gone by with my baby sister—all the fun, fights and frustrations—I’ll always be grateful for her support of me and belief in me as a writer.

Who in your family is your biggest fan? I’d love to hear about them.

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