Tips from My Own Writing journey

My debut novel Secrets & Charades released in 2017, ten years after I wrote the first draft and completed a fiction writing course. I received 21 rejections as I pitched that book to 21 different publishers. Each time I’d rewrite and improve the content based on what I was learning at writer’s conferences and on the suggestions I received from the publishers (if they gave any.)

I entered contests to get more feedback. I won the Editor’s Choice Award in 2014, which earned me coaching and edits to hone my story. That lead to publication. Since then, I’ve published two other novels with two more to release this year. And two more that have yet to find a home.

I learned a few important things during that ten-year journey from rough draft to publication.

  • Never give up on your dream.
  • Stay teachable, so you are approachable.
  • Network with other writers, editors, and publishers, you never know when the door will open for you.
  • Share what you know with novice writers.
  • Humbly receive critiques and advice from other writers.
  • Be thankful for all those willing to share their knowledge of publishing.

I discovered all these valuable tools while sitting in writer’s conference classes and workshops. I listened to the author’s journeys and found inspiration. I paid attention to changing trends and gained the encouragement to go on.

Authoring a book is hard work, getting it published is harder and marketing for good sales is the hardest of all. I went into this novel writing thing very naïve of those facts. I assumed because publishers requested my manuscript after my pitch that they would scoop it up. Had I known these same publishers review hundreds of manuscripts a month and may only choose a handful, I might have been less devastated.

If you are just starting your writing journey, learn all you can. And for the published author, never stop learning.

Hope this bit of encouragement benefits someone today.

Do you have a word of encouragement for other authors? Share in the comments.

Coming soon!!!

Rescuing Her Heart, book #2 of the Healing Heart Series releases July 6, 2021 and is available for pre-order.
https://www.amazon.com/Rescuing-Her-Heart-Healing-Hearts/dp/1645263193

Visual Inspiration for the Writer’s life

 

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The custom framing was worth the price to remind me I need to continue this writing journey.

 

The writer’s life is a rollercoaster of emotions. We are on a high when our book gets published. A low when our sales are down, or we get a one-star review. We worry our next book won’t be as good as our last. We fear rejects and being a one hit wonder. Anxiety overwhelms us with marketing and putting ourselves out there.

Reminders

We all need to wrap ourselves in positive reminders. For me, it was custom framing my Serious Writer 1st place for Fiction Award. It’s not the Selah, Carol or Christy but I’m still pleased with it and it’s reminder, I am a writer. I’ll look at it and be encouraged. I’ve framed other award certificates as reminders. But I need to hang them on the wall.  Yes, I’ll admit it, they aren’t hanging in my office. (Sliding them in a drawer or a folder because they aren’t 1st place or have no trophy or medal connect with them is pointless.)  All of these awards need a place of visual prominence.  As a group they’ll inspire me to go for the gold in the future.

Atta girls

I love seeing 5-star reviews. I don’t read the 1-star reviews because they only instill doubt. Atta girls and compliments on my social media from fans and fellow-writers are so appreciated. Often I see them when my heart is in a dark place and words aren’t coming.

When people respond in the comment section on my blog, it’s encouraging. I need to know the time it takes to write these posts has value to my readers.

It’s human nature

I believe most writers feel the same.  If they say they don’t need accolades and don’t care what other think about their writing then they must do it for a hobby or they are lying. It’s human nature to want praise.

Praise is not a daily thing. Neither are 5-star reviews or awards. But having proof of my accomplishments in a place to view when my heart feels heavy over some aspect of my writing career helps. I’m reminded I can do this.

I lift my heart

For me the reminder causes me to take another step to bring me out of a negative place. I thank God for the gift of words he’s given me. I pray for his peace and confidence and seek his direction for my next project. And I thank him for the lovely encouragement he bestowed on me through these awards.

What visual aid keeps you focused on your goal to complete your next writing project?

 

 

A Visit with Devotional Author Martin Wiles

Devotional writing takes a special gift. Martin Wiles has it. I’m happy to have him as my guest today. Welcome Martin. As always, my interviews start off with my guest sharing their writing journey. martinwilesheadshot1

I played around with writing a little during college when my English professor forced the class to keep a journal. Initially, I hated writing in it every day, but as time progressed, I enjoyed it more and more. For some reason, my first genre of writing entailed poetry. Poetry wasn’t a genre of literature I had read earlier in my life, so I’m not sure why I was pulled in this direction. When my father died in 2009, I became serious about writing. How or why the two connected, I’m not sure. My father never wrote anything except the sermons he preached and the Bible studies he taught. Nor did he ever have anything published. I began writing devotions, and, eventually, began to think about having a number of those devotions put together in a book.

Devotions are not easy to write, and people don’t realize just how long it takes to write an entire book of devotionals. You’ve done more than one. Tell us about your latest published project?

Although I’ve had several articles and devotions published in a variety of publications, my latest published book is Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). This was a follow up to Grits, Grace, and God (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). Since I’ve lived in the South my entire life, these titles were an attempt to put a Southern flare on the devotions. The titles are eye-catching.

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What kind of research goes into writing a devotional?

Since my books are devotional in nature, research normally isn’t required unless I choose to use an opening illustration that isn’t personal. Google is my best friend as I search for facts relating to the illustration.

What inspired you to write your book, and when did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

As mentioned earlier, my father’s death, for me, was the beginning point of my writing journey. My father was always there for me, but then again, he wasn’t there for me. Church consumed his life (He was a preacher.), and my brothers and I felt a little second class to his parishioners. When I lost him, I realized how much I missed the connection I wished we would have had. I suppose writing became cathartic, but then later became an endeavor to comfort those who were also going through difficult times of whatever nature. Eventually, the devotions became so numerous that I began pursuing putting them together in a book. As readers commented on how the words helped them, I became even more determined to pursue the gift of writing that God gave me. I think your experience resonates with readers. Thanks for your honesty.

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Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

Actually, two. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT). During a very difficult time in my life, when life virtually fell apart, I experienced that peace. I couldn’t explain it, but I bathed in it every day.

I love these verses too.

Now, I’m going to ask one of my favorite questions. If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

No matter how young you are, when you know God has gifted you in an area, pursue the gift. I waited until the last quarter of my life to do so. I often think how much further along I might be with my writing skills and career if I had started earlier.

I can say amen to that.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

First and foremost, my wife. She continually supports my efforts and tells me how proud she is of me, even when the rejection letters pour in. Of course, my mom is my biggest fan and brags on me to everyone—even when she sometimes gets the facts wrong. And then one special editor friend who encouraged me and helped me with the first devotion I submitted for publication. Because of her support, I’m now the Managing Editor of that same website.

What a blessing for you.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Though not one of the most popular, Historical Fiction is my favorite genre. I love history and fiction, and this combines the two and makes for a relaxing read for me.

Obviously, it’s one of mine too.

Where is your favorite place to write?

My favorite place to write is a place I don’t often get to write from: any place that overlooks a beautiful mountain view. I feel closer to God while in the mountains, and the ideas for devotions seem to flow freely there. In lieu of that, I rise at 5 each morning and retire to my chair or the kitchen table.

Martin, thanks for sharing bits of your life and your writing journey. You are also doing a give-away that works a little different than we usually do on Jubilee Writer. Can you please give us the details?

Yes, a Kindle version. The winner will receive a code     with which they can download the Kindle version of Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church.

As always, the winner will be chosen on Friday. I’ll send the winner’s name to Martin and he will contact you. If you are not a regular subscriber but want to enter please leave a comment with your email as myemail(at)my server(dot)com. I’ll pass a long the winners name and email to Martin. And as in all my drawing please leave a comment here on the blog not on other social media. So, if you are reading this on Facebook click to come to the blog and enter. Thanks.

More About Martin:

Martin Wiles is an author, English teacher, and freelance editor currently residing in Greenwood, South Carolina. He is the founder and editor of Love Lines from God (www.lovelinesfromgod.com). Wiles also serves as the Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and as an assistant editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolina. Wiles has authored Grits & Grace & God and Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas), Morning By Morning, Morning Serenity, Grace Greater Than Sin (America Star Books), Authentic Christianity (Smashwords) and is a contributing author in Penned from the Heart (Son-Rise Publications), and Rise (Chaplain Publishing). He has served as Regional Correspondent and Sunday school lesson writer for the Baptist Courier and also written for LifeWay’s Bible Studies for Life curriculum. He has also been published in Christian Living in the Mature Years, Mature Living, Open Windows, Proclaim, The Secret Place, The Word in Season, Upper Room, Light from the Word, Reach Out Columbia, Mustard Seed Ministries, Journey Christian Newspaper, Common Ground Herald, The Quiet Hour, Power for Living, Halo Magazine, Joyful Living Magazine, Christian Broadcasting Network, Sharing, Today’s Christian Living, and Plum Tree Tavern. He is a regular contributor to Christian Devotions, PCC Daily Devotions, Theology Mix, Inspire a Fire, and is a regular columnist for the Dorchester County Eagle Record, the Orangeburg County Times and Democrat, and the Greenwood County Index Journal.

Buy links:

https://www.amazon.com/Grits-Gumbo-Going-Church-Martin/dp/1941103847

https://www.shoplpc.com/product/grits-gumbo-and-going-to-church

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/grits-gumbo-and-going-to-church-martin-w-w-wiles/1124477466

Visit Martin:

Website: http://www.lovelinesfromgod.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/martinwilesgreenwoodsc

Twitter: https://twitter.com/linesfromgod

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lovelinesfromgod

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/martin-wiles-5a55b14a

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/martinwiles

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/103365483951277333062

Don’t forget to leave a comment here to enter the give-away.

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Writing Stand-Alone Novels in a Series is not for the Faint-hearted

Today I welcome Gail Kittleson. She writes wonderful depression era and WW II novels. Her series Women of the Heartland is full of suspense and heart. I asked her to come today and share how she wrote a series where each story can stand on it’s own. Whether you start with the first or the third book you will find yourself totally engaged. Thank you so much for coming, Gail and sharing your wisdom with us.

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Since I’ve written only one series, I’m no expert on this topic, but I do value the learning process inherent in trying something new—even something unexpected. When In Times Like These, the first book in the Women of the Heartland series occurred to me, I certainly didn’t envision writing three books.

My focus was the ways Midwesterners contributed to the Allied war effort and faced their own battles on the home front. But because the heroine of this book, Addie, enjoyed a friendship with Kate, In Times Like These also follows Kate as she seeks her downed Royal Air Force pilot husband in London.

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In this volume, readers get a taste of British life during World War II, as well as the changes wrought in life in rural Iowa after the Pearl Harbor attack. Frequent letters between Kate and Addie, in which Kate describes what’s going on around her, encourage Addie in her personal struggles with her volatile husband through a long, bitterly cold winter.

In Times Like These reveals the upbringing of both girls. Plagued by poverty, illness, alcoholism and neglect, Addie’s family barely gets along. When Kate’s parents die in a dubious plane crash somehow related to World War I espionage, Kate moves to Iowa to live with her well-educated aunt. She and Addie are drawn together as classmates at school despite differences in personality and class.

The girls become kindred spirits sharing a love of learning, and their friendship remains strong as they age. Both marry young—Addie for stability, and Kate for adventure.

By the end of book one, Addie becomes able to stand up to her verbally abusive husband and claims her dignity as God’s child. When her husband deploys in preparation for D-Day and with Kate now widowed and expecting her first child, it seems natural for Addie to board a Red Cross ship for London to help her. Book, one ends with Addie’s courageous journey, a significant marker in her character arc.

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Book two, With Each New Dawn, begins with Kate meeting a mysterious Frenchman who will change her life forever. As an orphan with many unanswered questions about her parents, Kate’s great hunger for family and home eventually leads her far deeper into danger. This stranger knew her parents—what an incredible opportunity for her.

 

Researching Kate and her employer’s roles taught me about the horrible London bombings, with such physical destruction and loss of life, produced broken gas lines, incendiary bombs lying about, people wounded and dying after yet another Nazi air raid. Offices were created to oversee the cleanup efforts. Enter Kate and her boss Charles, a recuperating former pilot for the Royal Air Force.

When Kate miscarries, grief envelops her, and she needs more than her former office job to feel purposeful now. Charles realizes this, so he introduces her to the very heartthrob of the Allied forces. In underground tunnels where earth-shattering military decisions are made, she smells the very cigar smoke Winston Churchill exhales.

Then another meeting with the Frenchman who remembers Kate’s mother and father from WWI woos her into far more danger. At this point, my research moved to the French Resistance.

Parachuting into Nazi-held Southern France as an SOE agent led to Kate meeting the hero of book two, a Basque shepherd-turned-Resistance-saboteur. I “met” an online British contact through studying the national commemorations of the Resistance that still take place annually in France. This man has made a lifelong study of the French Resistance and referred me to several historical textbooks.

Online sources and other publications such as magazine articles from the time, including LOOK and LIFE, helped fill in some areas. Even archived advertisements allowed me to embrace the era more fully.

Military records available to the public also provided a wealth of wartime details and perspective about why the Allies made certain decisions. Digging back into the effects of World War I helped me comprehend some choices made by the Allied leaders—and by the Germans.

Thirty years ago, my husband and I hiked the hills surrounding a southern French town when we were studying for missionary work. Those memories invigorated the setting, as did visiting a Basque museum in Idaho, with no idea that many Basque sheepherders had immigrated to the U.S.

Characters come to me first, and the requirements of their emotional growth guide my plots. Authors who outline their entire work before beginning to write amaze me, and I sometimes wish I had that kind of long-range objectivity. I believe it would make several areas of series writing more efficient, but in general, seeing the overall picture is not my gift.

Publishing book two as a stand-alone challenged me, so I sought advice on including only enough backstory to answer questions that might stall the reader. I did umpteen edits through the entire manuscript to check for unnecessary details and took my Beta readers/editor’s advice on this.

The other big challenge was how to end With Each New Dawn. The stopping point changed several times, actually, since by this time I realized Kate’s story was nowhere near over. Again, I sought professional advice, and was very thankful my publisher shared the vision of this book standing alone and supplied an accomplished editor.

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Book three, A Purpose True, challenged my writing skills, because of a subplot from a different time period. As I considered including this, I wondered how to provide enough clarity for readers to follow the flashbacks. I’ve read books that bounced around in time and confused me. I didn’t want that to happen with Kate’s story.

Actual tales of high-level Nazis fleeing to a South American location my husband and I visited motivated me to proceed, even though giving each subplot adequate closure required extra research and time. In the long run, this work aided me in showing Kate’s full growth as a human being through her wartime experiences.

Working with a series offers another unique trial: keeping timelines and details straight. There are surely more effective ways of doing this, but mine was to constantly check back to be sure a certain scene coincided with a battle or the date of a Nazi atrocity.

A Purpose True ties up Addie’s story back in London too, while highlighting Kate’s challenges and Domingo’s struggles as he faces the loss of his family and his ancestral homeland. With Waffen SS tank units committing atrocities as they sweep across his birthplace en route to fight at Normandy, his angst can only increase.

Through all of this, a romantic thread evolved despite strong obstacles. I really didn’t plan this. When they first met, both characters mourned the loss of their first love and needed lots of time to heal. Besides that, Kate grieved the loss of her firstborn and hungered to discover more about her roots.

Kate and Domingo spend a great deal of time separated in this book—romance is an unlikely luxury when you’re racing to blow up bridges and running for your life from the Gestapo. But their mutual respect and commitment still blossomed and developed.

Because I believe strongly that less is more when it comes to romantic scenes, it was a challenge to show the depth of passion Kate and Domingo shared in the scenes where they are reunited. Without the time-lapse aspect of this book, I think this might have been even more difficult—sometimes it’s better to see how characters are led in retrospect than in present time.

Looking at the entire series from start to finish, I marvel at the writing journey it supplied me. The characters learned so much through their struggles, and so did I. That’s the heart of our journey, in my humble opinion—continually learning.

Thank you so much for your insights. I believe you accomplished your goal to deliver excellence in your series Women of the Heartland.

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Buy link:

How to follow Gail:

http://www.gailkittleson.com/
http://www.facebook.com/GailKittlesonAuthor

http://amazon.com/author/gailkittleson

http://www.twitter.com/GailGkittleson @GailGkittleson

 About Gail:

Forever intrigued by the writing process, Gail researches ongoing World War II projects, including a co-written cozy mystery. She enjoys time with grandchildren, walking, and

reading. Winters find her hiking with her husband under Arizona’s Mogollon Rim. She loves hearing from readers, studying the art of writing, and facilitating writing workshops.

Please, don’t forget if you want to see more articles like this subscribe to Jubilee Writer Blog before you leave this page.

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with 2016 Editor’s Choice Award Winner: Jenna Fernandez

 

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Here I am with Jenna Fernandez 2016 Editor’s Choice Award winner, Editor and presenter of the award, Rowena Kuo and past winner Author John Turney.

I’m welcoming Jenna Fernandez to my blog today. She is the 2016 winner of the Editor’s Choice Award. The award is for perseverance and potential. Rowena Kuo of Lighthouse of the Carolinas Publishing presents the award to unpublished authors who show these two character traits in pursuing publication.  The prize is an editor/mentor to help polish your manuscript. I won this award in 2014 and it changed my life. Now it’s going to do the same for Jenna. 

Congratulations my friend. Now that the dust has settled how are you feeling as an award winner?

Grateful. This award is both an honor and an opportunity. I see it as an open door to getting the help I need to become a better writer, and to get my manuscript to where it needs to be for publication.

Jenna, I know you almost didn’t attend Write to Publish. You considered quitting writing altogether. Why quit? And what changed your mind?

I’ve been writing for many years, yet see little fruit from my labors. Sometimes it’s hard to discern whether the lack of fruit means to continue persevering as a farmer, planting seeds until the time of harvest, or whether it means the season is just not right. While I know we often won’t see the impact of our words until the other side of heaven, I wondered if it was time to let go of writing and focus more intently on other things I’ve been called to.

The fact that I couldn’t stop writing assured me this IS what I’ve been called to do. Even if one person is touched by what I write, it’s worth it. I don’t write for the sake of results, but because I love writing, it’s a calling that won’t leave me, and there is at least one person out there who will benefit from what I have to say.

How do you juggle your writing with life?

I’ve learned that the best writing is life-inspired writing. There was a time when I thought that the life of a writer involved only sitting at a desk with an awe-inspiring view and typing away. Instead, the writer’s life involves a lot of living in between writing. Words that most connect with people are words that have been lived out first.

The more I let go of the notion that I’ll spend the bulk of my day writing, the more relevant my writing becomes. I’m able to write from experience, not just theory. As a result, much of my best writing comes after 9pm until well after midnight, when the kids are in bed, I’ve lived a full day, and I have focused time to weave life into words.

How do you feel about winning this award?

More than anything, I see the reality of the journey that lies ahead. I’ve worked hard until this point, and that won’t change. The difference now is I have an editor with an eye for excellence mentoring me along the way, helping me to hone my craft.

The key words related to this award are “perseverance and potential.” I didn’t come to the conference as a complete package—the editor’s dream. My writing is not perfect, but it has potential. My work is not finished, it’s only begun, and it will require much perseverance.

Many writers imagine they’ll hand their work to an editor to the tune of this reply, “This is exactly what I’m looking for! It’s what the world’s been waiting for—the epitome of perfection. I wouldn’t change a thing.” They think the writing life comes without labor. This award is more of a reality check, a humbling reminder that I haven’t arrived as an author. But God knows he’s called me, he’s the one who’s given me the potential, and because of this I’m willing to work hard to bring forth the best result.

What do you hope to gain from the mentoring and editing?

I’m looking forward to gleaning from the wisdom of someone who’s walked before me in this arena. We writers often like to work alone, but the best work requires humbly recognizing our need for help. It’s a relief to know there will be an expert set of eyes reviewing my manuscript, ensuring the story is at it’s best and the message speaks through the characters in an honest way. And I know I’ll apply what I learn from this experience to everything I write in the years to come.

Tell us about your manuscript, City of No Return?

City of No Return is a modern-day exodus story set against the backdrop of human trafficking. It tells the story of Tasha, a teenage girl on death row for a crime she can’t remember committing. Believing death is her only escape from slavery, Tasha is willing to face the punishment regardless of her uncertainty of guilt. But when memories from her past start to surface, she begins to wonder whether her life is worth fighting for.

What prompted you to write it?

I was involved in an inner city ministry for fourteen years, and we worked to help people find freedom from addiction, gang violence, prostitution, and other life-controlling habits by sharing the good news of forgiveness, healing, and redemption in Jesus Christ. Story is among the most powerful means of helping people to see themselves and their circumstances for what they are. City of No Return was originally a musical drama I wrote to communicate the easter story in the language of those we were working with. It’s a parable of our own bondage and the power of Christ to set us free.

My husband encouraged me to turn the script into a novel. I’ve been working on it since, hoping it can be a tool to raise awareness on the reality of modern slavery and speak hope to its victims.

Do you have any words of wisdom for other struggling writers?

Your most important words are those written for one. Don’t get caught up in the idea that fame equals success. You’re most successful when you’re obedient to God, writing the words he has you to write, even if that means only one person will benefit. The best words are those written in obscurity, drawn from the life you’ve lived, not from theory of what life would be if only you’d lived as much as you write. And don’t give up if you don’t see fruit right away. If you can’t stop writing, chances are you’re a writer, even if you don’t see the fruit until the other side of heaven.

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More about Jenna

When I was a kid I asked my dad to build me an airplane. Every day after I woke up fully anticipating my bright orange, red-striped 747 would be waiting for me in the small field outside our house. You can imagine my disappointment when my dad came home with an armload of boxes, certain he’d appease my childhood dreams with a cardboard, duct-taped jet.

My mom thought my imagination would be better suited for authorship than aviation. So I started writing stories, poems, songs, and inspirational articles, and I haven’t stopped since.

I’m older now and, I hope, wiser. Years of working in the inner-city tempered my imagination with a hefty dose of reality. Marriage, parenting, and teaching have given me an overflow of inspiration. And an endless stream of trials and disappointments have added fuel to my writing fire.

Above all, my greatest source of motivation comes from knowing God has given me life and breath, that he’s loved me and saved me for a purpose greater than my own.

Visit her blog at https://thislifeandbeyondblog.wordpress.com/ or friend her on Facebook.

 

Jenna,  I’ve enjoyed learning about your writing journey so far. I’m sure you’ve inspired my readers. I look forward to reading your book. Thanks so much for stopping by to share your story.

 

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