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Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Joy of Hindsight

By Jennifer AlLee

Here it is, December 31st, the eve of a new year. About this time we usually look back at the year with nostalgia (or with a shudder and a prayer of thanks that it's over). Often, it's a time to make resolutions. Today, I'd like to look back, but way back...all the way to Christmas of 1995 and another time-honored tradition: visiting the mall for a picture with Santa.

A wee bit of context here. My son, Billy (who prefers Bill or William now, but at the time was definitely Billy) generally loved having his picture taken and was quite photogenic. On this particular day, he was not, shall we say, agreeable to sitting on a strange man's lap and looking happy about it. I watched as Santa tried to charm him, bouncing him on his knee and never dropping his jolly facade. I, however, was far from jolly. I was mortified. I wanted to explain to Santa and anyone watching that my son really wasn't a little monster, he was just having a bad day.

When the ordeal of sitting for the picture was over, we moved down the line to pick up the proof sheets, which they printed on the spot. The result wasn't good so I had no desire to purchase a package of pics to share with family and friends. But I wasn't going to leave empty handed, so I bought the proof sheets.



It's fair to say, I considered the day a failure. My son was miserable, we had not brightened Santa's day, and there was nothing jolly about the outing. But a funny thing happened. The following year, I came across the proof sheets. When I looked at them, I felt none of the negative emotions from that day. Instead, I burst out laughing. Not a snicker or a chuckle, but a full out, fall over sideways, tears of joy kind of laughter. To this day, I cannot look at those pictures without laughing. What I saw as a disaster when it was happening has now become a great source of joy.

To wrap this up with a pretty bow and show why this should matter to all you writers, let me say this: There are times during life (in general) and writing (in particular) when it feels like everything is going wrong. Those times stink, no doubt about it. But it's just possible that, somewhere down the road, you'll look back on those times and burst out laughing. At the very least, you may smile knowingly, aware of the growth and strength that came from the perceived failure.

So, as we say, "Later, baby!" to 2016 and greet the new year, I have one simple resolution: To find joy in unlikely places. Care to join me?

TWEETABLES




Jennifer AlLee was born in Hollywood, California, and grew up living above a mortuary one block away from the famous intersection of Hollywood & Vine. Now she lives in the grace-filled city of Las Vegas, which just goes to prove she’s been blessed with a unique life. A multi-published author, she’s worked with four different publishing houses in the genres of Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Romance, and Historical Romance. When she’s not busy spinning tales, she enjoys playing games with friends, attending live theater and movies, and singing at the top of her lungs to whatever music happens to be playing. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Write a Book in 3 months in just 3 Hours a Day

by Susan May Warren

Looking back at 2016, did you finish that you'd planned to write? It may be too late to finish this year, but 2017 is full of possibilities. 2017 is the year you can get your book written, or maybe two, dare I say three? Because you can write a book in just three months!

Write a book in 3 months? In three hours a day? And have a family life, too? Bah!

You laugh, but seriously, it can be done. Now, I’m not saying it’s easy. But the fact is, with a little “nose to the grindstone” as my father used to say, it’s possible.

Here’s how:

First, we talked yesterday about the four keys to a successful writer’s life. If you’ve committed to the task, found your writing space, wheedled out time from your schedule and determined to keep a running game plan, then it’s time to talk strategy.

Let’s assume you have 12 weeks to write a 30 chapter book, with approximately 3000 words per chapter. That’s 1500 words per scene. That’s 6 pages per writing session, 180 minutes per scene. That’s thirty minutes a page.

Calm down. Breathe. Think about it. Can you sit down and write a blog in 30 minutes? If you already had the idea, already had the words brewing inside you? Probably most of you can. Maybe you can even do it faster than that, but we want to leave room for editing, and revisions, and notes.

And I know at least some of you do that NaNoMoWrite (I feel like I’m talking Morkish when I say that and I probably didn’t even get it right!) – that write a book in a month thing. So I think I’m being rather generous at 3 months.

Now, you’re going to pad in on either side with 2 weeks of character development, and 2 weeks for rewriting and editing, synopsis and query letter. So, yes, we’re talking 4 months, but really, the concentrated, “under the thought blanket” time (as my kids call it) is three months.

Pre Week 1: Research of idea and premise, preliminary characterization and rough brainstorming of plot.

Pre Week 2: Further Research, the cementing of characterization and synopsis writing. Sometimes, a chapter by chapter summary of the book helps at this time.

We’re going to spend the month of January talking a lot about what goes into prewriting. There are people who take months in prewriting, so I don’t count that as actual novel writing time. They live with their characters in their minds for a while, having conversations, trying on names and attire until they have them just so…and then they embark. During this time, do enough research to get your story plausible, and outline the major plot twists in the story. I always write a synopsis at this point, also, as a sort of guideline.

Then I write my first chapter. Here’s a hint: Often your first chapter isn’t one you’ll really use. It’s the “finding your character’s voice” chapter and really, it contains WAY too much backstory to use in the book. But it’s helpful as a warm up to the big event.

Week 1: Starting day. First, gather your research material around you (use lots of those big brightly colored paper clips so you can bookmark pages), and a notebook. Open up a new file and call it something terrific like Susie’s Super Suspense Book 1. (Okay, not using my name, of course, or, I suppose if you want to….) Then, open up a new doc and title it: Chapter 1.

At this point, you’re going to turn off your internal nasty editor, the one that tells you things are not grammatically correct, or perhaps you’re using a word no one has heard of before, and you’re just going to write. Splash the words onto the page. Ignore the red and green squigglies – just write. A cup of hot cocoa helps, and I’m a big fan of mood music. If you get to a point where you’ll need to do more research, put in something plausible, and denote it with an * — saying you’ll GET BACK TO IT. Don’t disrupt your writing flow. If you have a word you hate, yet can’t find the right one – Asterik it! If you can’t remember a character’s name, or eye color – Asterik it! When you’re done with your ms, you’ll read through each chapter, do a search for the Asterik’s and change it when you’re mind isn’t cluttered with story.

But what if I come up with a great story thread half way through the scene? Should I stop and go back and fix it?

NO! did you hear me? NO! Make an…what? ASTERIK! Start writing the story from this point on with your new story thread. THEN, make a note in your notebook to go back and add in or tweak that story thread AFTER you’ve finished the book. Seriously. It’s your story. No one will read it until it’s done. It’s in YOUR brain. So you don’t have to have to add everything in until you’re ready.

And right now you want to…just keep writing, just keep writing…

Once you’ve finished your scene, SAVE. And then open a new doc, label it CHAPTER 2 (or maybe Chapter 1, scene 2), and make a few notes about what you’d like to open with next scene, or things you want to accomplish. OR, you can do this in the notebook I talked about yesterday. The strategy is to jump start your mind the next time you sit down.

Now:

Close the computer.
Stand up.
Stretch.
Dance through the house shouting, “I finished Chapter 1! I finished Chapter 1!

Go to bed, and pray for words for Chapter 2.

If you want, you can spend the weekends doing more research, or going back and rereading any points you wanted to refine.

Keep doing this for the next 12 weeks. You’ll be surprised at how disciplined you get, and how fast the words flow out. And how refreshing it feels to say, I’ll get back to all those asterisk later!

When you write the final chapter, take a weekend break. (Take your poor family out for dinner, for Pete’s sake!)

You’ll spend the NEXT two weeks adding in those threads, re-writing, fixing all the green and red squigglies and doing a rough edit, then a thorough edit, and then a polish. Okay, it might take you longer than 2 weeks. But the key is…the story is DONE. It’s out of your brain.

And you can say…hey, I wrote a book in 3 months!

Don't let another year slip through your fingers! Let 2017 be the year you finished that book - maybe even two!

TWEETABLES

Write a Book in 3 months in just 3 Hours a Day by Susan May Warren (Click to Tweet)

Did you get that book written that you'd planned to write?~ Susan May Warren (Click to Tweet)

Just keep writing, just keep writing…Susan May Warren (Click to Tweet)


Susan May Warren is owner of Novel Rocket and the founder of Novel.Academy. A Christy and RITA award-winning author of over fifty novels with Tyndale,Barbour, Steeple Hill, Summerside Press and Revell publishers, she's an eight-time Christy award finalist, a three-time RITA Finalist, and a multi-winner of theInspirational Readers Choice award and the ACFW Carol. A popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation, she's also the author of the popular writing method, The Story Equation. A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found at: www.susanmaywarren.com. Contact her at:susan@mybooktherapy.com.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Advice to New Authors

by Rachel Hauck


In this ever changing world of publishing, e-books on the rise, the popularity of electronically self publishing, it seems the author has to be writer, promoter and marketer. When I was first published seven years ago, there were twitterings of an author spending half of their advance on promotion, but I thought those were just rumors. Heresay. What “one” author had to do.

But it’s true. Then and now. When you get your first contract, plan on setting aside a third or a half for promotion. Consider it seed money for your career. Get it out of your head now that you’re writing to earn income for the family. You’ll be disappointed if you do. You’re writing to tell great stories. You’re writing because it’s your heart and what you love. You’re writing to eventually make some money.

A novelist career is a slow build of readership and dollars. In fact, the two are tightly correlated.

What do you do with those marketing dollars you set aside? Giveaways. Subscribe to a newsletter service. Pay for a good web site design. Hire companies like LitFuse to host a blog tour for your book or run a contest for you. Give away a Nook or a Kindle. Buy business cards. Bookmarks.

You want to start touting your book about two months before the release date. Post on your Facebook and Twitter. FB and Twitter are free and a GREAT way to build relationships with readers. And I do mean relationships. Social media is a conversation not a super cyber market where you only talk about your and your books. Or try to get people to buy something from you.

If you write have a category book that has a shelf life of one month, run a blog tour that month. If you’re book is a trade and has a longer shelf life, you might consider running a blog tour the month of your release and maybe a few months later. I always run my blog tours three months after the release date. Whatever promo or marketing publisher might have done would be fading by then as they moved on to their next quarter releases so I jump in and boost my books with a blog tour.

Spend about fifteen minutes a day on social media. Twitter a few times throughout the day. Look at others tweets and retweet them. Post on your Facebook. Answer comments others might have posted. Don’t stress over it, but try to stay engaged.

Managing your time is key to success. Whether writing a book or not. Your number one job as a writer, besides carrying for your family, is to write a great book. Before promo and social media, write a great book. Don’t get distracted with other things. If your writing suffers it’s hard to pull together again and get focused. Since we all work differently and have different responsibilities, it’s hard for me to say, “This is how YOU must mange your time.”

I have no children. I can write all day. I can goof around all day. I can do pretty much what I want. So if I were to say, “write every day from noon to five,” that might not work for you.

Here’s what I can tell you. Get a hold of your time. Schedule your days. Some people can schedule down to every 15 minutes! Yowza! Not me. I schedule in blocks. Morning. Afternoon. Evening. But I know what needs to be done and about how long it will take me to do it — more or less.

Talk to your husband and kids. Figure a way to involve the family in your success as a writer. Some authors have office days. Those are the days they work on the business, answer interview questions, email, do promo or marketing. I’m not that popular of an author to really need a day to get in touch with all the throngs who want to talk to me, soooo, I answer interview questions and email as they come in.

I have a program called Concentrate that shuts off my internet for whatever time I specify. When I’m on a deadline or need to get focused and finish a project, I launch Concentrate. I have it set for 45 minutes. Every 15 minutes, this computer lady comes on and says, “You are brilliant, keep working.” LOL. It’s great. When I get the twitch to goof off on the internet for a few seconds, I realize I can’t because of Concentrate, and I keep working. Yeah, I could turn it off but somehow that feels like cheating to me.

It’s important for writers to stay involved in life, in our families, in our churches and communities. Don’t say yes to everything that comes your way. No is a good word. But pray and ask the Lord to show you what He’s called you to do.

Cut off the noise like TV. Really. Amuse is the opposite of muse which is what we must do to write. I love movies and a good TV show. I learn from them. But in my house we only watch DVDs or Netflix instant. There is no nightly TV watching or channel surfing. When I had that option, it was a huge distraction. Five o’clock? Rerun of Gilmore Girls and I’ll be if I just didn’t quit working to watch.

Stop the excuses. If you’re a soft, giving personality, learn to toughen up and say no. If you have an addiction to TV, cut the cable for awhile. If you’re doing too much, let go of a few things. Don’t feel guilty or condemned. If God’s called you to be a writer, He’ll give you time to write. He’s not called you to do all and be all to everyone else so you don’t have time to write. Or so you have to sit in a corner of the house at midnight with your laptop on your knees writing while everyone else sleeps so you can get your word count. No, He’ll give you the time. Don’t fill it up with other things.

Writing is a job. Do it with excellence. Manage your time. Pray hard.

And whatever you do, don’t quit.

TWEETABLES

Advice to New Authors by Rachel Hauck (Click to Tweet)

Get a hold of your time~ 
Rachel Hauck (Click to Tweet)



New York Times, USA Today ​and Wall Street Journal best-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a past ACFW mentor of the year. A worship leader and Buckeye football fan, Rachel lives in Florida with her husband and ornery cat, Hepzibah. Read more about Rachel atwww.rachelhauck.com.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Counting The Costs of a Writer's Life

by Rachel Hauck

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!

We spend a lot of time at Novel Rocket, My Book Therapy, and in the writing industry as a whole talking about craft, networking, marketing, promoting, and the general way to write a book. Panster, plotter, planster (plotter and panster combination.)

But what we don’t discuss much is the cost of giving your life to writing. Especially to writing fiction.

There’s a price tag, and while I love what I do, there are days I “feel” the price I’ve paid.

I have no co-workers. I sit in my lovely tower, which I adore, alone every single day. Sometimes the phone never rings for me. I may not get a personal email or friendly phone call for days.

My family lives out of my state. I don’t have children. My life is carved out perfectly to crank out two, maybe three books a year. But I gotta tell ya, it can get lonely.

I’m so grateful for the friends the Lord has given me. Susie Warren, Beth Vogt, Lisa Jordan and others.

I can’t write a book without calling Susie several times a week. Nearer to my deadline, I might call her several times a day. I value her friendship and input! What a gift.

But practically speaking, she lives in Minnesota. I live in Florida.

One of my favorite things from days-gone-by was my corporate job relationships. We had some sure laughs and some grand lunches, and great success on the job. I loved solving a problem and celebrating with my co-workers. The day-job provided immediate feedback.

Sure, there were the tough days, the drag-my-butt-into-the-office days. And I had a very interesting boss. But overall, I enjoyed my office job.

I read about writing being a solitary life. I’m good with solitary. But friends, it is a really solitary life.

Writers have to say, “No,” to extracurricular activities. We can’t be running around town shopping, or lunching, or sadly, volunteering.

We have to shut off the TV, the radio, the internet and just “be” with our stories and characters. We must face the pain of making people that only live in our heads and hearts come to life on the page.

Good writing days are followed by hard writing days. We wrestle with our insecurities and doubt. There might be days or weeks where we hear from no one in our profession: not a reader, an editor or agent.

The only way we go forward with any confidence is by sheer discipline and will. And it’s a fight!

The other day I was driving to morning prayer at church, wrestling with my lack of close, local friendships. No don’t go feeling sorry for me, I do have friends. I do! I’m not a hermit or miser. But, the friendships I used to have at work, or when in college, are gone. At my age, many of my friends are busy with children or even grandchildren!

As I mused over this, I finally thought, “Maybe it’s not that I lack friends but I lack the right perspective.”

I’ve chosen the writer life and with it comes certain handicaps. It’s not 9-5. I’m not surrounded by people all day. To do the job, I have to retreat sometimes.
The challenge for us is to be content exactly where God has us. As I mused over my situation, I heard Jesus say, “I’m your friend.”

I teared up. “Will you come to my house for Christmas dinner?”

“I will.”

See, it’s about perspective. What a true and dear friend we have in Jesus. And the friends I do have in my town, are lovely and always ready for a lunch when I can break free!

But, back to the writer’s life. Are you ready to pay the cost? I’m not the only writer who struggles with friendship time and heart-connections within the local community.
I’ve heard other writers share similar things. It’s why we’ve created the My Book Therapy Community. It’s why there are writing organizations like American Christian Fiction Writers.

Take stock of yourself. Are you too busy being a friend and doing other things to write? Even for writing moms, at some point, you have to close out the hubbub and noise of the family and write. I’m awed by my mom writing friends like Susan Warren, Cara Putman, Kristin Billerbeck and Tracey Bateman.

Are there things in your life cluttering out writing?

Count. The. Cost.

The life of a novelist will cost you precious things. But it is worth it. So very worth it.

Tips
  1. Get with the Lord. Spend time with Him, praying over your schedule, asking Him to release your heart as an author.
  2. Counsel with your spouse or close friends, parents or other family. Is this the time to devote to writing and say no to other things? Or will that season come later. It is RIGHT and PERFECT to wait until the “write” season.
  3. Find a place that’s yours to write. Make sure no one else invades. It’s yours. Even if it’s a table at Panera or Starbucks, make it your writing spot.
  4. Schedule time to be with friends and family. Be purposeful. If you do ministry at your church or volunteer in the community, keep to a schedule. Don’t pick up extra jobs just because you feel bad for someone. Do ONLY what the Lord has called YOU to do.
  5. Write on the hard days. Sometimes those words are better than the ones who come on the good days. If you only have an hour to write on busy days, take it!
Writing is purposeful. So is the writer’s life. Be purposeful. Tune out the noise. Still your heart and mind.


Write, counting the cost.

TWEETABLES





New York Times, USA Today ​and Wall Street Journal best-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a past ACFW mentor of the year.  A worship leader and Buckeye football fan, Rachel lives in Florida with her husband and ornery cat, Hepzibah. Read more about Rachel at www.rachelhauck.com.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals

by Lisa Jordan

I don’t make resolutions. Since 2009, I’ve chosen one word as a way of focusing on my prayers, lists, calendar, and commitments. I’ve found making resolutions causes too much pressure and guilt when I’m unable to achieve them. However, I do set goals that help me to plan ahead.

Fitzhugh Dodson said, “Without goals, and plans to read them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.”

With that in mind, I’ve learned about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

Specific—your goal needs to be specific. Think about what you want to accomplish. Why does your goal matter? What’s at stake? Who is involved in helping you achieve this goal? Where do you need to be for the goal to be achieved? What’s holding you back?

In 2017, I’d like to write a novella collection in addition to my Love Inspired novels. It matters because the additional income helps to meet our household and my writing budgets. If I don’t write, then I have less income for writers conferences, etc. My writing team is involved in the process. And in order to meet this goal, my fingers need to be on the keyboard. So to make my goal more specific, I could say my goal is to write 1500 words a day, six days a week.

So how will I measure my goal?

Measurable—your specific goal needs to be measurable, meaning you need a way to track your progress. If you’re setting a writing goal, you can track word count progress on a spreadsheet, even going as far as showing the number of words written against the number of words still needed for the rough draft. If you achieve your daily word count, you know you’re on track to meeting your goal.

Attainable—your goal needs to be attainable, meaning it needs to fit within your abilities and lifestyle. When setting goals, it’s great to stretch yourself, but know your limits. With my demanding day job and other obligations, I couldn’t commit to writing more than 2 Love Inspired novels a year if I want to write novellas as well. If your overall goal feels intimidating, set mini goals for yourself. If having a completed manuscript by the end of 2017 feels overwhelming, consider something more attainable like two chapters a month.

Realistic—your goal needs to be realistic. Writing a book a month isn’t realistic to me, even though I can dream about having the skills to make it happen. Writing one book in three months is more realistic and manageable for me. As I continue to hone my craft and improve as a writer, I’ll be able to produce stronger fast drafts, which will enable me to complete novels sooner rather than later. Writing 1500 words a day is a realistic goal and doesn’t feel overwhelming for me to achieve. Keep your expectations in check so you’re not setting yourself up for failure.

Timely—your goals need to be timely. Without a commitment to meet your goal, then you could lose focus and motivation. Plus, learning to write with deadlines prepares you for the publishing world. Set a timetable with a start date and an ending date. You can even break your timetable into smaller increments to help you succeed rather than stress.

Life happens. Be flexible. Take stock of your goals periodically throughout the year and see if you need to adjust your goals...and your attitude. Keep expectations in check. Be willing to ask for help and to accept help from others. Delegate tasks in order to give yourself more time to work toward meeting your goals. By maintaining S.M.A.R.T. goals, you can reward yourself when you reach them by your deadline.  


TWEETABLES

Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals by Lisa Jordan (Click to Tweet)


S.M.A.R.T. goals—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely~ Lisa Jordan (Click to Tweet)

You can reward yourself when you reach them by your deadline~ Lisa Jordan (Click to Tweet)




Heart, home and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. She is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. Represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Management, Lisa also serves on the My Book Therapy leadership team. Happily married to her own real-life hero for almost thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn't writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, crafting with friends and binging on Netflix. Learn more about her at lisajordanbooks.com.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Power of One Word

by Beth K. Vogt
I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions.
Oh, sure, I’ve tried to resolve my way into a better me – usually failed before the month of January is over. I lose the list. Or I just lose the want-to, overwhelmed by all those numbered priorities. It’s as if I’m juggling a bunch of have-to's.
Anybody else relate?
Twelve years ago, I discovered the principle of One Word – choosing to focus on one word for an entire year. Consider this quote from the book My One Word by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen:
“ …words encapsulate ideas. They evoke our emotions. They hook into memories. They define our experiences—helping to shape us in the process.
There’s power in words. Beauty in words. Grace in words.
Words create movement. They craft nations. They seal a marriage. They cast vision. They make us laugh. They focus our attention. They expand our horizons. They stimulate our creativity. And they script our possibilities.”
As writers, we can all agree with that statement, can’t we? Words are powerful. Now consider the process of prayerfully choosing one word to focus on in 2017, allowing it to fuel personal and spiritual change in your life. Intrigued?
To further spark your imagination, here’s a recap of my previous One Words:
  • 2006: gratitude - Keeping a gratitude journal revolutionized my “glass-half-empty” attitude.
  • 2007: simplify - A severe illness changed this word to survival as I embraced simpler things in ways I never imagined.
  • 2008: content - as in “be content with such things as you have” (Hebrews 13:5) I bought a lot less that year!
  • 2009 & 2010: forgiveness - I had a lot to learn and unlearn about forgiveness.
  • 2011: hope - There were times I could have asked “Why?” Instead, I asked myself, “Are you going to abandon hope?” My answer: No.
  • 2012: trust - During a year of change, I faced doubting versus trusting -- and chose to trust. 
  • 2013: confidence - I was so much stronger after keeping my heart and mind set on "not throwing away my confidence." (Hebrews 10:35-36) 
  • 2014: think - I anchored my thoughts to truth more and more, rather than letting my thoughts go wandering.
  • 2015: collaborate – This means to work jointly on an activity, especially to produce or create something. Synonyms: co-operate, join forces, team up, band together, work together, participate, combine, ally. As a writer, I focused on collaborating with God.
  • 2016: prosper - to act wisely, as in "And David was acting wisely (prospering) in all his ways for the LORD was with him." (1 Samuel 18 14.) This word helped me make major decisions.
My word for 2017 surprised me: inheritance.
Psalm 16:5-6 (NIV) says: "Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance." 
At times I've talked negatively about my inheritance. Not the eternal one I've received from God, no. But there can be emotional "inheritances" carried from generation to generation within families ... some good, some harmful. One night as I battled insomnia, I read Psalm 16:5-6, and the word "inheritance" seemed to be written in bright, bold letters. I knew it was my One Word for 2017.
If you’re considering focusing on One Word in 2017, here a few things that have helped me:
  1. Read the book My One Word by Mike Ashcraft & Rachel Olsen. It’s not mandatory reading – I chose One Words for several years before I found this resource – but it’s excellent. There’s also a website: http://myoneword.org
  2. Take time to pray about your One Word.
  3. Read through Scripture and see if a particular verse stands out to you. My One Words are always scripturally based.
  4. Look for confirmation. My One Word is often confirmed by a quote, a song, or a visual. I use those as additional ways to focus on my One Word for the year.

So, do you prefer to keep New Year’s Resolutions? Does anyone else choose One Word for the year like me? I’d love for you to share them in the comment section!

TWEETABLES

The Power of One Word by Beth K. Vogt (Click To Tweet)

I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions~ Beth K. Vogt (Click To Tweet)

There’s power in words. Beauty in words. Grace in words(Click To Tweet)


Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force family physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. Now Beth believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” As a contemporary romance novelist, Beth is a 2016 Christy Award winner and 2016 Carol Award winner for her novel Crazy Little Thing Called Love.  She was also a 2015 RITA® Finalist for her novel Somebody Like You, which was one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2014. In 2015, Beth introduced her destination wedding series with both an e-novella, Can’t Buy Me Love, and a novel, Crazy Little Thing Called Love. She continued the series in 2016 with the e-novella You Can’t Hurry Love (May) and the novel Almost Like Being in Love (June). Her novella A November Bride was part of the Year of Wedding Series by Zondervan. Beth enjoys writing contemporary romance because she believes there’s more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us. Find out more about her books at bethvogt.com. An established magazine writer and former editor of Connections, the leadership magazine for MOPS International, Beth is also part of the leadership team for My Book Therapy, the writing community founded by best-selling author Susan May Warren. She lives in Colorado with her husband Rob, who has adjusted to discussing the lives of imaginary people, and their youngest daughter, Christa, who loves to play volleyball and enjoys writing her own stories.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

'Twas The Night Before an Author's Christmas

by Tari Faris

'Twas the night before an author's Christmas, and in a small house
A writer’s fingers were stirring as they flew across her keyboard and mouse.
She had readied for bed and tucked the kids in with care,
In hopes that sweet sleep would soon find her there.

But as soon as the children were all snug in their beds,
Visions of her characters soon danced in her head.
The dark moment, the wound, their zinger-filled chit-chat,
All refused to settle down for her long winter's nap.

When all of the sudden arose such plot,
She sprang from the bed to type what she got.
Across the keys her fingers flew like a flash,
She typed and typed until the fire burned down to ash.

Scene after scene the words poured out,
Until her husband walked in and she gave a small shout.
“Just one more scene – I swear – and then I’ll come to bed.”
“It’s morning.” He said with a wink and a shake of his head.

She dropped next to him on the couch as the kids ran in to see,
The stockings all filled and many gifts beneath the tree.
Her husband whispered in her ear as the kids expressed their delight,
"Happy Christmas, my love, now have a good-night."



We, at NovelRocket, wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

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'Twas The Night Before An Author's Christmas by Tari Faris (Click to Tweet)

Saturday, December 24, 2016

4 Words a Writer Needs to Hear During Christmas

By DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

Attempting to write during the Christmas holidays adds another line in the dictionary’s definition for stress. We’re busier now than at any time during the year. Our planning and preparation is fun, and we feel like kids who’ve eaten way too much sugar. But the joy of the season vanishes when a red-circle on the calendar says, “This writing deadline has priority.”

Looming deadlines are a writer's fact of life—why not embrace them and list each one with Christmas responsibilities? When I want to bake or shop, I take a deep breath and remember the four words my husband said to me in 1996 when he challenged me to write.

I believe in you. 

Something about those words puts my life into perspective. I can successfully separate what needs to be done from what I want to do. Sounds simple, and it is. Here’s how it works for me, and I have confidence these four words can help you ease through deadlines and love every minute of December.

I

The word “I” doesn’t mean life is a solo trip. Neither does it mean I have to do it all.

The idea of store-bought goodies makes me cringe, but not when I order my special treats from a bakery. It also gives me time to write! Thirty minutes here and an hour there adds to a tremendous word count. (Bakery goodies are incredibly good.)

Shop online and eliminate standing in lines. When the mood strikes to feel the spirit of Christmas, enjoy a stroll through a favorite shopping area, listen to the season’s music, and sip on great coffee or hot chocolate without the burden of lines.

Here’s a fun story about Edie Melson and me just prior to Christmas. We had much to discuss about writing and The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, so we went shopping and chatted.


Believe
The word ushers in encouragement and confidence. It also fills my heart knowing my husband believes in my abilities to craft novels, articles, short stories, and blogs while ensuring my family delights in a memorable Christmas. The editors and publishers who issue contracts also believe I can fulfill their assignments. Believe is also how I feel about the God who gave me the gift of writing.

Believe is a word wrapped in blue for love, white for truth, and green for nurturing.

In

Think about this word as within our hearts. That’s where creativity for writing or preparing for Christmas develops. Our hearts are woven with a deep need to give our best to others, but it has to begin within.

You

This is why we write, bake, shop, wrap gifts, and decorate. When we stop giving, then we fail as human beings.

Whisper I believe in you when you’re stressed. You’ll find a wealth of energy and enthusiasm to supply you long after the New Year.

What is your secret when life tosses you a curve during the holidays?



 



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 4 Words a Writer Needs to Hear During Christmas 

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, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and 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, December 23, 2016

Holiday Non-Writing Tips

by Susan May Warren



Let’s be honest—you’re not writing during the Christmas season. Neither am I. With all the glitter, the Christmas-sing-alongs, the baking and the general melee of the season, congealing your thoughts into a coherent, let-alone tension-filled scene is like trying to choose just one cookie to choose from the Christmas buffet table.
Give it up.
Instead, how about using the next two weeks to prep for an amazing 2017 writing year?
Here are a few ideas to keep your brain simmering on story while you enjoy that spiced cider.
1. Give yourself a break! I’m not talking about simplifying (although, that is good—only one kind of cookie on the tray means less agonizing choices!), but rather—actually going to your room, shutting the door and having a moment of quiet. Listen, I know—if you have little children—quiet isn’t easy. I used to require an hour of reading every day during Christmas breaks (and summer, too!). The kids (if they were little) got to choose books from our special “book basket” to read on their bed. Or I might turn on an audio book and give them a few toys to play with. I might even spread out a blanket on the floor (each child gets their own) and declare it “their zone”—to play/read in.
And then go get a book, something lavish that you are reading just for the pure enjoyment of it (I can recommend a few—Rachel Haucks, A Royal Christmas Wedding, Melissa Tagg’s Christmas novella, One Enchanted EveRonie Kendig's, Conspiracy of Silence) and indulge yourself in a chapter. I read a book for fun nearly every weekend of the year—but I read “biz” books—novels for endorsement, or research, or just to challenge my writing—during the week. But for two weeks during Christmas, I allow myself to indulge in decadent fiction—books I might not normally have time for.
And, in quieting my brain, allowing myself this lavish luxury, inevitably, great ideas for my own writing will surface.
Quiet Time Reading—a little gift you give yourself.
2. Gather around the fire! Bring back the old “Christmas read-aloud” tradition. In our family, we do a Christmas puzzle every season. Often, we listen to Christmas music. But occasionally, we have a family read aloud—I read, while people puzzle. When the kids were younger, each child got to choose one book, one per night, leading up to Christmas. Reading aloud is like yoga for the writing brain. We hear delightful dialogue, savor story world, and become the characters we’re reading. And, when we enjoy a story together, we are reminded not only what makes a great story . . . but why we write.
Some of our family favorites: David Barry’s The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog
Back To Christmas, by my author friend Dennis Canfield
3. Turn OFF and let your brain turn ON. About 6 months ago, I decided to go device-free on the weekends. Yes, I post our Saturday football game crew on Facebook, but then I turn my social media off until Monday. I find it de-clutters my brain and allows me to just enjoy my people, the game, and the space of life. One of my favorite things to do is take a walk on a Sunday afternoon, let my thoughts air out and get some perspective.
When I do this, I find room for other thoughts—deeper ones that can influence the themes of my stories, the depth of my writing.
So . . . let’s get crazy this holiday and walk away from social media from the 24th through the 26th. Really. And then, maybe get outside, take a walk. Give your brain a rest. It’ll come back online, restored and ready to go after the holidays.
I’ll miss you, but I’ll see you then.
Have a great Christmas holiday!
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Susan May Warren is owner of Novel Rocket and the founder of Novel.Academy. A Christy and RITA award-winning author of over fifty novels with Tyndale,BarbourSteeple HillSummerside Press and Revell publishers, she's an eight-time Christy award finalist, a three-time RITA Finalist, and a multi-winner of the Inspirational Readers Choice award and the ACFW Carol. A popular writing teacher at conferences around the nation, she's also the author of the popular writing method, The Story Equation. A full listing of her titles, reviews and awards can be found at: www.susanmaywarren.com. Contact her at: susan@mybooktherapy.com.