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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

I Wrote Like Snoopy


I cut my authorial teeth on dialogue as a playwright. I was the creative arts director for 11 years at my church. We did everything from the 30-second sermon starter to full-length musicals. When I first wrote my first few scripts, my actors often used different words that I'd written, or they changed the sentences around, and even...gasp...dropped words.

But I liked what I heard, so I dissected the changes and found the common ground. I wrote like Snoopy, trying to be literary. Gag. The lines were too perfect and not realistic.

Have you read a book where the dialogue actually pulls you out of the story because it's so stiff and unbelievable? Or worse, it sounds like an info dump, as if the writer's saying, "You won't understand this unless I explain it to you."

Well, thank you Billy Sunday. That'll make me throw a book across the room faster than a politician can empty your wallet. Unless it’s on my e-reader; then I’d delete it before it contaminated the other e-books.

So what does make good dialogue in a book?

It has to be realistic for starters. And it has to be organic to your character. If you're an Oregonian and writing about a Southern Belle, you'd better have a Cousin Sue Ellen read your manuscript, or it may well be stereotyped. The same goes for Sue Ellen writing about a Yankee.

What if you’re writing a young adult book and don’t have any teens or twenty-somethings living at home, and you aren't sure how the characters would really talk? Go to a local mall and hang out in the food court and eavesdrop. Listen to the half sentences, colloquialisms, and especially to the way people answer questions.

One mistake new writers often make is found in the way characters answer questions.

"Good morning, Bob. Where are you headed this fine morning?"
"Good morning, John. I'm going to the hardware store to get a new float for the toilet."

First of all, we don't really care about Bob's toilet, unless his four-year-old flushed the latest Wiki-leaks state secrets. A bit more realistic might sound like this:

"Morning, Bob. Where you off to?"
"Hardware store."
"Anything I can help with?"
"I got it."
"Okay, holler if you need me."

That's how two neighboring men would have this conversation. If it were women, it still wouldn't be complete sentences, but it might go something like this:

"Morning, Sally. Going shopping?"
"Macy's is having a huge sale, and you know those new slip covers I got for the den sofa? John ruined it with cranberry juice."
"I hear you. Bob got mustard on my bedspread. Why can't they be more careful?"
"I think it's in their genes."
"Yeah, he got mustard on those, too."

Anyway, you can see how their conversation veered off the main track. We women do that. Men, not so much.

In romance, Jenny B, Jones is a master at building conflict into dialogue. A few lines from Save the Date illustrate this point well:

"Do you know anything about football?"
"You toss around a ball and throw people to the ground. What else is there to know?"
"Okay then, what's a birdcage?"
"The name of the bar where you met your last girlfriend?"
"A cut?"
"A fantasy I have involving your throat."

She never answered his questions seriously and he kept asking instead of commenting on what she said. It was brilliant dialogue for building character and a great example of verbal ping-pong.

For realistic dialogue, remember to:
Study they way dialogue is written in books you love
Listen to people engage in conversation and study their responses


Do you have any great examples of dialogue to share with us?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Tail, er, Tale of the Three-Legged Dog.


by Alton Gansky


Lessons come in the strangest places and at the oddest times. I slipped from the office early to get a haircut and buy one of those gooey-frosty-juice-things with names like Melon Madness that are supposed to be good for me. The haircut went fine with no ears injured and the juice was everything I hoped for. As I drove through the parking lot, my mind on the days work and a straw of tasty juice permanently glued to my lips, I had to slow for a dog trotting over the asphalta dog with three legs.

Now, I’ve seen three-legged dogs before. I even tell a joke about a three-legged pig (I’ll spare you), but the image of the dog stuck with me through the day. First, the dog appeared as happy as any I’ve seen. He didn’t mope across the macadam, he moved with brisk motion as if he were late for an appointment (maybe he was out for a haircut too).

Second, he trotted as if he had all four legs, apparently unperturbed by the missing limb. Whatever cost him his leg hadn’t taken away his doggy-zeal for life.

Last, he used what he had and used it well.

“If only . . .” Have you ever heard the phrase? “If only I had more time. If only I were younger. If only I hadn’t wasted my youth. If only I had chosen a better college (or any college). Many people utter this phrase, allowing it to become their mantra of failure. Budding writers say, “If only I had more time.” Hesitant entrepreneurs mumble, “If only I had started sooner.”

“If only . . . if only . . . if only . . .”

What does the three-legged dog do? He keeps moving forward as if nothing was missing.
That is a wise dog. Such a good boy.


Alton Gansky is an author, podcaster, teacher, and a man willing to learn about life from a three-legged dog. www.altongansky.com

Monday, June 27, 2016

#Writers Conferences

I love writer's conferences. I'm addicted to them. Where else can I get my annual fix? No where, that's where. Why? Because "normals" don't get us. When you're at a writer's conference and say, "I'm sorry, I didn't get that. I was listening to my character explain why she won't go to Cucamonga." 

Say that around a "normal" and you'll get looks like this and they quickly turn and walk away.

But not other writers. They can sit for hours talking about writing, plotting, how to get emotions just right.

We were out to dinner with friends. One of them mentioned that I was an author, and immediately Hubs leans over and says, "Don't start talking about books."

Normals just don't get it. So I live for the annual ACFW conference and the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. I'm excited to be teaching a workshop this year. I also got to teach at last year's BRMCWC. I really love to share what I've learned. 

My highlight this year is rooming with my two critique partners, Genghis Griep and Ludwig von Frankenpen. We don't get face time very often since we all live in different states.

So, what's your favorite part about writers' conferences? The learning? The hugs from friends? Late night brainstorming?
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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Out of Order

by Marcia Lee Laycock
I’m what they call a “seat of the pants” writer. That means I don’t sit down and concoct a lengthy outline and figure out my story from beginning to end. I just dive in and write, figuring it out as I go. I find this style invigorating. I never know what might happen in the next paragraph.

The story usually comes to me in scenes - I’ll be happily spinning my tale when, pop, here comes another scene that might not necessarily be next in the plot. I stop and put these “out of the blue” scenes into a separate file and add them in later. That works. Most of the time. But there is a down side to writing this way. Sometimes things get mixed up. Sometimes things are out of order. And sometimes I end up in an editing nightmare.

Like the other day, when I was working on the second book of my fantasy series and had the nagging feeling that something was out of order. So I painstakingly did a chapter by chapter outline and found a couple of things that had to be moved. A character can’t suddenly be talking to someone she meets two chapters later. The villain can’t put his schemes into action until he’s given the information he needs in order to carry them out. Those kinds of mistakes are a little annoying to our readers! That’s why a structural edit is crucial for writers like me. And that pertains not just to my work, but to my life.

Sometimes our lives can be out of order. We start the day in a rush and forget to even breathe a “good morning, Lord,” before diving into our schedule. We’re half way through the day before we realize something isn’t right. Maybe we’re a bit snappy with colleagues or our family members. Maybe we just feel a little ‘off.’ And then there are those days when things just go all wrong, things happen that don’t make any sense at all and often they are difficult or even painful.

That’s when it’s time to do a structural edit of our lives and put things in the right order; that’s when we need to “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). And that’s when we can take great comfort in knowing that there is a Sovereign over it all, an Author, who knows the beginning and the end, and every single detail of the plot of our lives. He has made sure that all is in order, even when it seems in chaos.

Hebrews 12:2, says – “I desire to fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of my faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

That’s the right order – scene number one - focus on Jesus.
****

Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife, mother of three adult daughters and care-giver to two golden retreivers. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. Her second novel, A Tumbled Stone was recently short listed in the contemporary fiction category of The Word Awards. Marcia also has two devotional books in print as well as two ebooks. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. 



Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers is available on Amazon.


Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Writer’s Nemesis - Clichés

By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

Tweet this: The Writer's Nemesis - Clichés 
  
Every writer craves accolades from her readers and the industry. She wants exemplary recognition about her plot, voice, genre, setting, dialogue, narrative, and characters. She treasures 5-star reviews and eager readers who can’t wait for her next book.

Unfortunately when a writer dips into tired clichés, credibility lands with a dull thud. The story lacks:

Originality.
Phrases clothed in character.
Unpredictability.
Excitement.

A cliché is a writer’s nemesis.
Writers, it’s time to become soldiers. Let’s shine our boots and clean our weapons. We must fight the urge o use familiar wording. Carry the banner of creating something fresh and alive.Are you ready to wield the sword and destroy your nemesis? Here are five ways to ensure you’re the victor.
  1. Conduct a line-by-line edit. If a cliché threatens your position as a bestselling writer, delete it!
  2. Explore the scene in which the cliché appeared. Is it necessary? If so, how might your character form a phrase that accomplishes the same purpose? Every detail of characterization plays into a strategic plan to offer a unique way of saying something.
  3. Design three phrases of your own to replace every cliché.
  4. List your original clichés in a file. These can only be used by your character. Ever. An award-winning writer is proud to eliminate all traces of a previous character in a new book.
  5. Re-read your story again and admire your willingness to fight for your own literary voice.
Writers use words as their defense line, a means of reaching the goal of increased leadership.

Have you spent time creating your character clichés? 


Tweet this: The Writer's Nemesis - Clichés



 DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two 
Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association; International Thriller Writers, and the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of Romance Writers of America. She is co-director of The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at www.diannmills.com.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Reduce Blogging Stress with These 12 Tips

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson


12 Tips to Reduce Blogging Stress
Blogging is a valuable tool for writers wanting to grow and connect with an audience. It provides us with the opportunity to go deeper than a quick social media post. It also gives our readers a place to hangout with us in cyber-space.

But anyone who has done much blogging knows that it can also be stressful. These are my tips for reducing that stress.

12 Tips to Reduce Blogging Stress
1. Find a place to keep all your blog post ideas. I’ve discovered that ideas appear at the oddest times. I’ve also found that if I want to keep them, I have to catch them and put them away the moment they occur to me.

Work ahead.
2. Work ahead. I try to schedule my posts as far out as possible. For me, that’s a week or two in advance. I also have a file of posts to use in case I need them.

3. Utilize the practice of cluster blogging. I shared an entire post about this concept in Maximize Your Time with Cluster Blogging. But in a nutshell, it’s writing multiple posts on similar topics.

4. Find some blogging buddies. I have an agreement with several bloggers  who have the same focus as me. We agree that if we’re in a spot and need a last-minute post, we can take one from each other’s sites and give credit.

5. Keep a file of images. I keep all my previous blog images—and images I take specifically for my blog—in a file. That way if I need something quick, I don’t have to find something new.

6. Set goals 24 to 48 hours in advance of the real deadlines. The posts on my site go live at 4:00 am every morning. In addition, certain days have specific topics. Today is Social Media Monday. When I set my goal for when to write today’s post, it’s by 10pm Saturday evening. That way, if life happens, I still have time to readjust and not disappoint my readers.

Keep a checklist
7. Keep a checklist. I have a checklist of things to look at before I hit publish. I shared it here on Increase the Reach of Every Blog Post and Continue to Increase the Reach of Every Blog Post.

8. Break up long posts into two parts. When I see a post is running long, I look for ways to break it into two or more posts. That keeps my audience reading because the post length isn’t too long, and it keeps them coming back to read part two.

9. Pay attention to the comments. The comments section of your blog is a gold mine. Pay attention to questions and what’s said to find topics for future posts.

10. Redo and reuse. I hate to think that all the previous posts I’ve written are only read once. I also don’t want to repost the same thing (because of SEO algorithms that penalize this practice). The way to overcome this is to rework your post and then reuse it.

Don't over stress.
11. Don’t over stress. Life happens, sometimes you have to skimp on certain things. Or you might miss a post altogether. Be consistent while you can and don’t sweat the mistakes.

12. Give yourself some grace. It’s impossible to put up perfect posts. All of us find stupid typos and formatting gaffs. Don’t assume mistakes are unforgiveable.

These are the things that have helped me reduce my blogging stress. What would you add to the list? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below. I always learn so much from you all!

Edie Melson—author, blogger, speaker—has written numerous books, including While My Soldier Serves, Prayers for Those with Loved Ones in the Military. She’s also the military family blogger at Guideposts.org. Her popular blog for writers, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month, and she’s the director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers ConferenceConnections: Social Media & Networking Techniques for Writers is a print expansion of her bestselling ebook on social media. She’s the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect on Twitter and Facebook.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Writing Westerns

Cooking up an antiquated western is easy!

First, grab a mixing bowl—we call it The West. Throw in a trusty horse and a cowboy with a white ten-gallon hat. Next, add spice—a gorgeous female in distress who wants a cowboy to take her to a ranch where she'll have babies and keep the house clean for him. To add a bitter flavor, pour in a thin-lipped villain in black. Mix well. Dollop scenes in sequential order and bake in the Arizona desert until burnt. Serve with a side of angry Indian, a crusty gold miner looking for the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, and beans. 
Used with Permission. Laura Harkins

Gone (we hope) are the days of formula westerns. So why do numbers say westerns are making a comeback? Because new westerns have qualities the enduring American West novels embraced.

High stakes keep readers turning the page. Losing a few head of cattle (the stakes are steaks) won't keep the reader’s interested. If the lives of many are troubled by the fight between the hero and villain, the more interesting. Granted, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry is a cattle drive. But an entire way of life is at stake.

Give the girl a gun, please. Helpless damsels in distress are no longer in fashion, unless it's simply a person rendered defenseless. Historically, women in the west were cast-iron. Charles Portis wrote True Grit’s Mattie Ross as the toughest person in the novel, with more sand than even the meanest marshal she could find. She’s just awesome.
Envio


Embrace Ethnicity. Many of the famous western writers loved the Native American’s way of life and portrayed their point of view. Some included the Chinese, African American, Mexican, and countless others. Movies, however, needed faceless villains. The plot lines wreaked havoc on minorities. I’m thinking of the stagecoach chase scenes with feathered and painted Caucasian stuntmen galloping on horseback, only to be slaughtered by bouncing riders with small Winchesters. In today's westerns, everyone’s point of view matters.

No person is perfect. Even heroes and heroines suffer from limitations. Giving them a fault or a medical condition makes them more believable. Jubal, in Louis L’Amour’s Jubal Sackett, seems to suffer from ADHD and possibly a mild hyperkinetic disorder. But yet, he finds a place where he can be himself and discover love.

These tips and more are played out in my western West for the Black Hills!

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. www.peterleavell.com.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

GIVING BACK

by Yvonne Lehman

My writing career began over thirty years ago after a difficult experience that led to my learning about the Billy Graham School of Christian Writing in Minneapolis, MN. I was “led” into writing, which marked an entirely different world for me that I had not imagined.

Through the years I thought my main purpose was writing novels. However, after founding the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (with the help of the Billy Graham School Dean who volunteered to be my emcee and get faculty for me—knowing how inept I was at that time), I was privileged to direct the conference for 25 years. After turning it over to someone else and starting a smaller, less-demanding Novel Retreat, I realize that God’s mission for my life had been that conference.

Although I’ve been successful in having 57 novels and 8 non-fiction books published, my greatest delight is now looking back and realizing the difference that writers conferences make in a writers life. I could not have realized the extent of it over thirty years ago.

Those realizations prompted me to volunteer some of my Saturday mornings for giving tours in the Chapel at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, Asheville NC. I wanted to show my appreciation for what Billy Graham and his organizations and employees have meant to my life and the lives of others.

On June 1, as a volunteer I was invited to attend the dedication of Ruth’s Prayer Garden, honoring the memory of Ruth Graham and her legacy of prayer. Over 150 people attended, outside the chapel, facing the beautiful garden. Will Graham, her grandson and Franklin Graham’s son, spoke about the three gardens of the Bible: Eden, Gethsemane, and the new in Revelation. We sang her favorite song, “In the Garden.”

This was printed on the program:

Ruth’s Prayer Garden…
Consists of two tiers. The garden is planted in large
sweeps of woodland shrubs and perennials, with large
open areas for ground cover. Almost every plant in
the garden blooms in one way or another.

The garden is meant to provide a place of solitude
and beauty for the purpose of personal reflection,
prayer and worship.

As you stroll through the garden, you will see a mix of
perennials and roses, planted in front of the chapel in
the English style of perennial gardening. The colors and
textures of the plants contrast and soften the stone of the
chapel and are intended to be a small replication of the
great gardens found around churches in England.

The variety of plants also reflects the botanical tastes and
interests of the Bell family as well as the Grahams. Many
of Ruth’s favorite plant species are included in garden
including daylilies, daisies, coneflowers and roses.

Being a part of that occasion, aware of the overwhelming beauty of such a place, all of God’s creation really, thinking of the lives changes through the ministry of Billy Graham, and Ruth Graham’s ministry of prayer, I felt honored to be able to volunteer a few hours. The first time I entered that chapel, gave a tour in that gorgeous place, feeling the spirit of the Lord in a special way, I knew I was receiving more than I could ever give.

I can only thank God for the awesome privilege of being loved by Him. My heart sings the words of a song we sang that day as I walked through that garden:

When through the woods,
And forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,
When I look down, From lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze,
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, To Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

Yvonne Lehman is an award-winning, best-selling author of more than 3,000,000 books in print, who founded and directed the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference for 25 years, is now director of the Blue Ridge “Autumn in the Mountains” Novelist Retreat. She mentors for the Christian Writers Guild. She earned a Master’s Degree in English from Western Carolina University and has taught English and Creative Writing on the college level. Her latest releases include eight ebooks for Barbour’s Truly Yours line and a Harlequin/Heartsong series set in Savannah GA: The Caretaker’s Son, Lessons in Love, Seeking Mr. Perfect, (released in March, August, & November 2013). Her 50th novel is Hearts that Survive – A Novel of the TITANIC

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

It's Not About You (At Least It Shouldn't Be)

by James L. Rubart

I wasn't excited about waking up at 6:30 am late last November. (Not a morning person.)

But I had an interview with a Florida radio station for my novel, The Five Times I Met Myself. 



I figured I'd get up at 6:30, get some wake up juice in me and be ready to go by 7:30 when I would be on. 

Didn't figure I'd be woken up at six from a call from my publicist asking if I could do the interview a half hour earlier. (The person at the station who scheduled the interviews had screwed up.)

But there I was, on hold, waiting to go on. The on air team didn't think I could hear them. I could.

"What's wrong with her?"

"Huh?"

"Why can't she figure out how to schedule our interviews. She's always messing it up."

"I hear you."

"Like this one right now. He's on the west coast, not fun to have to wake up and get pumped up to be on air half an hour earlier than he thought. I mean, he's just an author ... but still."

" ... just an author ..."

I cracked up. Too funny and what a great way to be reminded that this author thing isn't that big a deal. In fact, nothing is that big a deal. Author, actor, musician, restaurant owner, receptionist, waiter, teacher ... 

If we're surrendered to Jesus, it doesn't matter what role we're in. It's not about us, it's about him.

True Confession

If I'd been on that call five years ago? It would have irritated me. Why? Because I was still trying to get my validation from man rather than God. I was basing my worth on how much respect I received for who I was and what I'd accomplished. 

Won't work. 

If we're writing to gain fame, respect, validation, praise ... we're on the wide road.

The narrow road is the only one that leads to life.

Let's take that one, yes?



James L. Rubart is 28 years old, but lives trapped inside an older man's body. He's the bestselling, Christy award winning writer of eight novels and lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington. More at www.jameslrubart.com



Sunday, June 19, 2016

Even Negative Feedback Can Be Good -- It's All in How You Look At It

By Pamela S. Meyers

I’m writing this on Father’s Day and I hope all the dad readers enjoyed a good day yesterday.

A few weeks ago I happened on an article I wrote about dealing with negative feedback from writing contest judges. This past week, the finalists were announced for the ACFW Genesis contest and the semifinalists that aren’t moving on to the final round, will soon receive their judged entries from the first and second rounds. I thought this article would be good to post to encourage anyone who has recently received not-so-favorable comments from a contest judge. I know all too well how such comments can put a writer into a tailspin of emotions.

It was five years ago this summer that I received my first writing contract, so the article had to have been written at least six years ago. Even so, the lesson I learned then is still valuable today. Below is the article.

###


Sometime ago, I began working on a romance manuscript, periodically putting it aside when new writing opportunities appeared. Upon coming back to it for the third or fourth time, I decided to switch things up and began converting my third-person POV into first person. A daunting task, as anyone who has done this knows. But I eagerly rubbed my hands together, anxious to begin. Since most romances are not written in first person that also meant switching the genre to Women's Fiction (at that time a category in the Genesis).

Because my crit partners had seen the story from its inception and I needed fresh eyes for feedback, I entered it in ACFW’s Genesis Contest. I told myself I most likely wouldn’t place, and that was okay. Meanwhile, I continued working on the new format, changing the beginning scene several times.

When the semifinalists were announced and my name wasn’t on the list, I felt a tinge of disappointment. Weeks later, as I was preparing to shut down for the evening, the judges’ score sheets arrived in my email box. I told myself not to not open them until morning. The hour was late and I didn't need to have that kind of thing on my mind. Did I listen? No. Bad mistake.

The scores were much lower than any I’d ever received with other stories. I skimmed the judges’ comments, reading some and ignoring others. They were brutal to say the least. I licked my wounds and shut down the computer. Determined I wouldn’t think about them until the next day, I went right to sleep.

An hour later, my eyes popped open, and my brain shifted into high gear as those judge comments materialized in my mind’s eye. Then the voices started:
  • You can’t write.
  • What were you thinking?
  • Time to give it up.

Ane & me in one of our not so serious moments
I tossed and turned, punched my pillow, and threw the covers off and back on, but the taunting wouldn’t stop. Then a Greater Voice broke through the clamor. It was time to get off my pity pot and focus on someone else. I began praying for a friend’s sister who was gravely ill. A short time later I fell asleep.

The next morning, I spent time in one of my favorite Bible passages—
Hebrews 10: 35-36:

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!  Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. (NLT)

I’ve never doubted my call to write, and God has promised me that at the proper time I will reap a harvest if I don’t give up. (Galatians 6:9). After a time of prayer, I called my writing buddy and one of my dearest friends, Ane Mulligan. She loves me enough to tell it like it is to me and not sugarcoat it.

She helped me realize that by switching genres (from romance to women’s fiction) I also needed to change how I began the story. We brainstormed and fresh ideas for a new opening chapter flew between us, almost faster than we could say them.

Our discussion also helped me to see that many of the judges’ comments were well founded, and some actually pinpointed issues others in my crit group had missed. That alone made entering the contest worthwhile. Grateful for all I had learned in a one-hour phone call, I got to work and outlined several brand new chapters that made the story stronger.

Rarely have I regretted entering a writing contest, even if I didn’t place, and this experience was no different. No matter how low your scores, remember there is always a nugget or two (or more!) in the comments to help point you in the right direction. You just need to keep your eyes open and on the Lord so you don’t miss the prize!

###


So there you have it. Advice given over five years ago and still applicable today. The irony is that the story is still not finished. A short time after I wrote this I received  a request from a publisher to work on a proposal for a story set in my hometown and I totally switched gears. That story became Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

I’d still like to finish the other story, and Lord willing, someday I will.





A native of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, author Pamela S. Meyers lives in suburban Chicago with her two rescue cats. Her novels include Thyme for Love, which has recently been re-released on Amazon and her 1933 historical romance, Love Finds You in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Love is All We Need (the sequel to Thyme for Love) will release in 2016, and Second Chance Love from Bling!, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, will release in January 2017. When she isn’t at her laptop writing her latest novel, she can often be found nosing around Wisconsin and other Midwestern spots for new story ideas.