The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. **Mark Twain

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Rushing to meet a deadline

When a deadline looms, life stops. As authors we are constantly unemployed and often find ourselves working long hours to make deadlines we wish could have been changed but we accepted because we needed the work.

It's not easy telling a friend that you can't talk and lunch simply isn't in the cards until another 10,000 words are written. "But that's not really the case," she fusses. "You just don't want to go."

She may have a demanding job herself, but because we work at home authors suffer the same attacks anyone endures when they don't have a boss who requires a time clock. Our time clock is internal.

That drive to be disciplined in our work also causes too much alone time. Being alone with no one to talk to but the dog can sometimes breed fear. It may not last. It may be gone within moments, but it seems to erupt at the most inconvenient times and it always takes away from creative thinking.

I stopped for a moment today and realized that those fears need to be handled. I need to refuse the negative thoughts and re-claim God's call on my life. I know I'm just tired, but I still need to be strong. Perhaps, you have felt those moments of insecurity. Perhaps you might like to use my remedy.

I took a moment and thought about all the friends and loved ones that care about my writing. Not secondary friends...but the really close friends who check on me from time to time and actually want to know about my success. I prayed for them and was comforted in knowing they are praying for me. I sent the following e-mail:

Writing is one of the hardest things I do. I sit in my office alone facing a sea of papers and research. I click around on the Internet finding bits and pieces. I push back in my chair - stare at the ceiling and wonder if anyone will like what I've written. I walk to the mailbox alone and wonder what God is doing in my life. I check my e-mails several times a day wondering if that article or chapter resonated with the editor.

All that alone time is fodder for Satan's attacks. I KNOW God has called me to this, but there are those moments of weakness when I stare out the window as prickles run through my stomach. I KNOW GOD HAS CALLED ME...."but what if" weak little mind whispers.

It's in those moments that I think of special friends. I'm sure they are praying for me and that I have a bond with their spirits. It's then that I thank God for their prayers and their encouraging words. I AM CALLED TO THIS WRITING THING....I WILL CONTINUE TO WORK....I WILL CARRY ON....

This is one of those moments and I want to stop and say, thank you. Thank you for all you mean to me. Thank you for lifting me higher. Thank you for your love.

Let me know if you have ever felt this way. I would love to be part of your circle of praying friends. Perhaps your friends would appreciate an e-mail too.

God loves you and has called you to write,


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Jerry B. Jenkins

I had a wonderful time at the Mt. Hermon Christian Writer's Conference this year. I know I've said it before, but if you want to save for the most important tool in writing - save for a large conference. There are several around the country.

Meeting other writers, being totally immersed in the study of writing, and meeting editors and speakers - all make for a fantastic experience. While having your manuscript critiqued by an editor will bring out all sorts of emotions, the best ego booster ever is meeting an icon and peeking into his/her career.

What I've found is that successful writers are warm and caring people. They have walked the path of an unpublished author and they know how you feel. They want to help. They want to share their experiences and they want to give you a lift as you make your way along.

Jerry Jenkins is just that type of author. He is best known for the Left Behind series written with Tim LaHaye, has been awarded four honorary doctorates and authored over 170 books.

Former editor of Moody Magazine, Dr. Jenkin's writing has appeared in Time, Reader's Digest, Parade, Guideposts and dozens of Christian periodicals. His non-fiction books include as-told-to-biographies with Hank Aaron, Brett Butler, Bill Gaither, Orel Hershiser, Luis Palau, Walter Payton, Nolan Ryan, and Sammy Tippit, among many others.

He also assisted Dr. Billy Graham with his memoirs, Just As I Am, a New York Times bestseller. He considered the 13 months he spent assisting Dr. Graham the privilege of a lifetime. Jerry owns the Christian Writers Guild, speaks widely, primarily on writing, and is a sought-after humorist. He and his wife Dianna have three grown sons and four grandchildren and live in Colorado.

In talking with him, I found him to be kind and concerned. I purchased his new book and had him sign it for me.

You can order his book Writing for the Soul through the link at the end of this blog.

I love the section titled, Am I a Writer? He discusses what we should call ourselves (I've stumbled over that one many times) when we have yet to be published. After listing different titles he states, "It doesn't matter. You are what you say you are. If you have decided to be a writer, you're a writer, published or not." Later in that section he makes the bold statement..."Your results will mirror your commitment. Put in the necessary time and do the rewrites to make your own success inevitable."

Wow! How true....Now don't you feel good?? Let's get busy!

God loves you and has called you to write,


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Good News! You can do it!

If you feel a little discouraged today...don't be. You can do it! If God has given you the desire and the inspiration to write - you can do it. It may take a while and you may have to work hard - very hard. The good news is that you can do it.

How do I know? How can I sit here at my computer and know what's going through your mind hundreds or thousands of miles away? Because my darling friend - everyone has those thoughts of fear. Everyone wonders if they are good enough, smart enough, inspired enough or just plain do I have enough time?

All through high school and college I loved to write. I loved to construct challenging situations with a surprise ending. I loved watching someone read my story with a ho hum and then laugh or cry at the ending as their eyes danced with surprise. Gotcha.

Unfortunately every paper was returned with A++ for content and D- for grammar. No matter how hard I tried it seemed impossible to receive higher than a C- on grammar. For years I went on with my life sure that I was not meant to be a writer.

The fire still burned. It was only a smouldering ember...but it was there. When my children were all in school I once again picked up the pen convinced that my writing would only be for my family.

You probably know this story well. There's something in your heart or mind that keeps you from writing. Some little thing that you are sure you can't overcome.

I am positive whatever it is that steals your commitment to writing - it can be overcome.

I found out that I'm not an idiot. I can learn grammar. My writing was wrote rotten, but I are learning. (ha ha) The real dragon isn't what we can't do....the dragon that must die is our lack of determination. have no idea how hard it is for me. I'm struggling financially and I have medical issues. It's just too hard. You have no idea.

Would you like to hear about a lady who had to take money from her meager household budget to buy the supplies to write? She knew everytime she used a piece of paper that it was coming at the expense of her family. Add to that a medical problem. She was dyslexic. Writing is hard enough when you don't have problems. Writing and creating understandable text is extremely difficult when every letter is twisted.

I attended two writer's conferences within one week of each other - I survived! Wonderful opportunities opened for me. I haven't written on this blog simply because I have deadlines that must be met. That's a wonderful problem.
The Good News for you is that I talked with a lot of writers and editors. No one said their career just took off. Everyone had a story about how long or hard the struggle was.

The Keynote speaker for Mt. Hermon Christian Writer's Conference was Debbie Macomber. She is a romance fiction author and humorist, has become one of the best-loved authors in America, having written over 100 novels with more than 60 million books in print. She's won the Rita and the first-ever Quill Award (reader's choice) for romance fictions, as well as the "triple crown of publishing" - having a book hit the NY Times, Publisher's weekly and USA Today bestseller lists nine times. In September 2007, Debbie's new book, 74 Seaside Avenue, bumped Harry Potter's newest book out of the #1 NY bestsellers spot! Debbie is a much-loved speaker. Her presentations are filled with humor, and listeners come away with inspiration, encouragement and deep spiritual insight.

She was all that! She was warm, funny and even more gracious in person. Her first talk was entitled, "How to become famous in 20 years or less." She told us how difficult it was to take money slotted for her children and spend it to learn her craft. Imagine our surprise after listening to all her accomplishments to find out that she is dyslexic.

The point of her talk can be summed up in one piece of her story. When she went to her first writer's conference and approached an editor to discuss her submission she was told that her novel was awful. When she fought through the tears and disappointment to ask, "How can I fix it?" She was told that the best thing for her to do was to throw it in the trash. As she relayed her story with love and compassion - I heard sniffing throughout the audience.

We all know what it feels like to be told that your work has failed. Be encouraged....her story didn't stop there. She was wounded but she continued to work at her craft. She continued to study and to write. She continued.....

Wouldn't you love to be a fly on the wall the first time that editor heard that Debbie Macomber was on the NY Times bestseller list? I would.

Guess what? We all have that chance. We all have the right to share our voice, our thoughts, our beliefs. We all have the right to continue to work at our craft and to be heard!

At lunch Debbie and I talked about the voices in our heads that continually tell us that we aren't good enough or inspired enough to write. She smiled and dipped her head slightly to make sure I heard what she said,
"We can't afford to listen to those thoughts. We have to fight through them and realize that God has given us a gift. A gift we must share. Tell your readers to work hard but never, never give up!"

There you have it....straight from Debbie Macomber. Don't give up. Keep trying and someday you'll make it.

Check out Debbie's website at I encourage you to read her books. She's wonderful.

God loves you and has called you to write,