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

Friday, November 20, 2009

Striking the Middle of the Road

In a writer's class a publisher once said, "Be careful what you write...if it's negative you will lose readers.  You don't want to do that."  Another publisher said, "Stay away from either side of an issue.  Try to take the middle ground."

I won't reveal who those editors and publishers are because I like them personally and I enjoy a good relationship with them.  I believe that they are good people who are trying to do their best to lead writers into "full time" status. 

We all want that.  We all want to find our writings in the front pages of a magazine or on the best seller list.  But I'm wondering if that middle road thinking hasn't driven part of the confusion in America today.  More and more we are being polarized on opinions of religion and politics.  That polarization might not have happened during other times in history because it would have been shot down by a majority that held tightly to conservative beliefs. 

Once we began to entertain the idea that a more centralist way was "perferred", that centralist view began to grow until now it's suffocating freedoms and beliefs. 

It's not easy taking a stand.  For the last year I've felt that "something" (I call it Satan) didn't like what I was doing and was fighting to stop all writing efforts.  I've called on friends to pray and collegues to stand with me as I fought to write what I believed was true. 

Talking about a "spiritual" being that might be attacking me to keep me from writing was not popular.  Yet, I felt it.  I knew it with all my heart and I have spent hours in prayer asking for guidance and strength.  I'm now asking for you to stand with me in prayer - not only for my writing, but for all writers of the truth.

I think it comes down to this scripture in Revelations 3:15-16  (NIV)

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth."

I know that it's scary to write what you believe in.  I know what it's like to be attacked.  But....I also know that I can't take the easy road.  I have to write what God has called me to write.  Before you decide to take the centralist view, think about what the Biblical writers went through in order to proclaim the truth of Jesus and of God.  Think about all the writers down through the ages that have continued to distribute the truth no matter what the consequences.  Think about standing before your heavenly father and seeing him smile as he says, "Well done, thy good and faithful servant!" 
 Don't be afraid.  God will be with you.  Trust Him and write His Words.
God has called you to write,

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Building a platform or building a nervous breakdown.

I talked with a young writer today that was completely discouraged. 

"I'm supposed to write, I'm supposed to build a platform and promote myself as a speaker.  I'm supposed to contribute to other blogs so mine will increase in numbers and somewhere in the middle of all this I'm supposed to be centered and take care of my family.  I need finances to keep writing and I may have to take a job.  I'm overwhelmed and heartbroken."

Most people have an image of a writer sitting in a cabin in the woods, listening to nature, sipping a cup of coffee and plunking out a best selling novel.  Of course, he has servants to do the cleaning, his mailbox is stuffed with checks and when he's done with this novel he will return to a life of fun and games with his family.

Actually if we think about it for a moment, we have fantasies about every job position.  It's rare that we look at a job and think it's unappealing unless it's on the cable show Dirty jobs where the star is trying out chimney sweeping or pig farming.  We tend to see every job as one that has beautiful people working effortlessly while making millions.  Rarely do we see positions where the boss looks like a big green monster to his employees. 

Writing is hard work.  It's not a dream job unless you love books and love writing and can't wait to put your ideas on paper.  It's not a dream job if you don't find your soul lifting every time you write a phrase that hangs in the air and tickles your heart like a child watching twinkle lights for the first time.  It's not a dream job unless you can't imagine yourself doing anything else and hate every moment you are away from the computer.

So what can you do to control the chaos and illuminate the feelings of wonder?

Imagine that you a successful executive.  You have all the power to make every decision and you are in total control.  You can make the employee schedule and you can decide how much marketing will be done.  Give yourself permission to take a day off and to be nice to your grandmother. 

I think we get off track when we are so bent on being published - right now....that we put our publisher's in the seat as an imaginary CEO that's always looking negatively at our work.  We let that image drive us to frustration trying to put everything in place all at once.  If we retain the right to make a writing plan and work hard to execute that plan....we will gain respect and one day we will be published.

God loves you and has called you to write,


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Feature This by LouAnn Edwards

The first reason not to write feature stories is you’d rather be doing something else, like having your eyebrows ripped out by the roots. I resisted the idea at first. The roll-your-eyes brat inside me said “I can’t believe I have to do this” like the sixth grader who’s been told for the next five months in PE they’ll be learning the Fox Trot. I simply stomped my middle school foot, crossed my arms and pouted under the basketball hoop muttering, “I don’t wanna!!”

In spite of a disparaging attitude, my first two attempts at interviewing went well. So, when a co-worker approached me about doing a profile for the company newsletter I readily agreed. After all, how hard could it be? Big mistake.

Margaret Johnson the “Fun With Watercolors” instructor was waiting for me at the historic art museum with twelve of her students. All I had to do was grab a few paint class trivia stories, and I’d be free. I hopped up on what looked to be some sort of antique heater apparatus, got out my notebook and fired off my first question.

“ Margaret, what do you like best about teaching art?”

“Well”, she cautiously began, “please call me Marge. Let’s see… I don’t know. “

Great. Now what? “Well, can you tell me what your class has been working on?” I tried again.

“Well, we’re working on mixing colors. You see, the six tertiary colors are made by mixing a primary and a secondary, our neutral achromatic colors are black, white and gray, a triad uses colors at the points of an equilateral triangle, of course a double split compliment, also called tetradic uses two pairs of compliments…”

I was trying to decipher one word of useable quotes when I felt something hot. I jumped down from my perch, where I was sitting on a blaze from what must have been a working steam heater. Yikes! I’m supposed to be getting quotes that burn through the page, not burn through my pants. There had to be an easier way. I had completely flubbed this interview, and didn’t have a clue how to salvage it.

I knew I needed help. But where? I remembered reading about a successful writer who’s talent thrived after taking a graduate level writing class at Harvard. That’s what I needed! It was the thrill of having a professional analyze “your baby.” And if you happen to give birth to an eleven-pound screamer only a mother could love, you just take the course again. Of course, not being sought out by Harvard, I would have to use my imagination and just pretend I was in the class.

Using complex visualization techniques (laying in a hammock with a cold drink) I imagined the somber scene of a graduate school classroom with a stern looking professor at the front of the room clutching my feature story. He was tall, white haired and pointed his finger in my direction.

“Miss Edwards. How did you lose control of this interview?” he said frowning.

“Ah..I dunno.” (I never was good at thinking on my feet in class).

“Well I suggest you figure it out!

I squirmed in my seat, with a furtive glance at the clock.

“You see,” he continued, “You’re writing with action, emotion, feeling…have you been thinking about that, Miss Edwards?”

“Um hum.” Well, actually no. I’ve been thinking about what kind of tan the girl next to me has… it’s so real looking. I wonder if it’s from the sun, a tanning bed, or that new spray on stuff….”

“Well,” I nervously continued, “I think next time I’ll get control, and I won’t sit on any heaters, and…”
“STOP!” He yelled. I think he even slammed a stick on the desk, but I’m not sure-. “ What is your take away here?”
“Ah…don’t sit on antique heaters?”
At this point Professor Picky decides he has a sick headache and he should have listened to his mother and gone into the dry cleaning business with his cousin Earl. Dry cleaners don’t have days like this. He dismisses us all in a fury. Mental note: strike out visualization.
In the meantime my limited expertise is still in demand. My neighbor says she has an “in” with some exciting new subjects for me to interview--Elmer the worm harvester, and a new group at the retirement home called the “Ladies of Seizure.” I can hardly wait.

LouAnn - I love this piece!  I'm still laughing!

God loves you and you are called to write,


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Writing is like a....

Men may not understand this, but writing for me is like "birthing a baby". My latest book seemed to take over my life. For the last month I have been totally consumed. I've spent every waking moment on those last details. Even when I did take time to go out with my family, my mind was on the book.

Now that it's finished, I can finally relax - at least for a few days until another idea grips my mind and I'm off and running again.

For all of you that wonder if you are truly a writer....ask yourself a very important question. "Could I be happy if I put my pen down and never wrote again?"

If you can answer yes to that question, you do not have the soul of a writer. But, if you feel sad even asking the question, if tears fill your eyes thinking about the ideas that will die in your head, if you think you have six fingers and one of them is an ink pen - you are a writer and you need to keep at it!

Writers are a strange breed. We are constantly thinking about our next project and all the wonderful ideas we can bring to others. We worry about mental pictures and sentence structure. We agonize over words and change things like he ran to he bolted - to he galloped - to he shuffled and back to he ran. We sit at the supper table and write notes on the paper napkin. We can't find time to clean the closet but our notes for our next book are filed and catalogued.

With all our eccentricities - the world needs us. They need our imagination, our insight and our light to help them find a way out of their problems.

So....Get busy. Find a little time today to put some ideas on paper. Get out there and change the world with your writing!

God loves you and has called you to write,


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Follow me to a mini writer's conference

Mary Nichelson is an editor with a wonderful blog. This week she published what I would consider a mini writer's conference. She interviewed 8 writers and posted their comments. I've just finished reading it and it's wonderful.

If you need a little encouragement for your writing - check out the following link. And while you are there, be sure and add Mary's World to your favorites list.

God loves you and has called you to write,


Thursday, August 13, 2009

What the world needs now.....

I hope every writer - new or old - understands the emergency we face today!

Your political differences aren't the issue. Your calling to be a Christian writer is the all consuming issue.

Humans crave information. Humans will become anxious and in some cases depressed if they don't have access to "answers" or explanations about their fears.

This country is in turmoil. Millions of people are frightened and frustrated. They need information. They need to hear from you.

The English statesman Robert Bulwer-Lytton said, "The pen is mightier than the sword".

But what about these other quotes?

The pen is the tongue of the mind. Horace

The strokes of the pen need deliberation as much as the sword needs swiftness. Julia Ward Howe

There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write. William Makepeace Thackeray

In a mood of faith and hope my work goes on. A ream of fresh paper lies on my desk waiting for the next book. I am a writer and I take up my pen to write. Pearl S. Buck

Whether or not you agree with the writings of these people is not the issue. The fact that they are writing should be as important to you as your faith.

People need information. If God has given you a talent you must use it. It is your duty and should be your passion to join the ranks of others that are writing. If you are new and not sure about the publishing industry - start a blog. Get involved. We must share the good news and promote the strength of America and her freedoms. Don't sit on the sidelines and watch the news - get involved and WRITE!

Will it be hard? You bet it will. I'm on a deadline for two books. I have three blogs that I've committed to presenting 90% original material. I don't just search the net and comment - I actually write content. I have another blog that I contribute to. It's hard to feel like I have enough time in the day to sit down with my family much less get outdoors.

Your commitment doesn't need to be that involved - but you must commit to some time. If you don't set aside time to write and actually produce copy that can be shared - you will never reach your goals.

The sad side to letting time get away from you, is that the people around you will be struggling without the insight you could provide. I will pray for you and for all Americans, but in the meantime - write!

God loves you and has called you to write,


Friday, July 31, 2009

Wanted Christian Writers

This post will be very small. Please go to my main blog and read today's post.

Washington is attacking our freedoms at an alarming rate. This country is depending on writers with integrity and Christian values to sound the alarm and to be part of the non-violent revolution to take back our Christian nation.

You have thoughts, ideas and plans that can help us all. Please, spend time in prayer, spend time in research and then write, write, write.

I encourage you to read my family tracks blog and use any of the research included there. I know when you see the facts spelled out and you go to the government website, you too will feel the urgency to get involved. Please share this blog and others with as many people as you can.

God loves you and has called you to write,


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Getting Serious with LouAnn Edwards

Lou Ann Edwards is a wonderful writer. She also has a bio that will leave you saying "WOW!" She has agreed to be a contributor to our blog and give all of you a little humorous lift to your work. Check out her bio in the side bar and hold on to your side.

Get Serious!
LouAnn Edwards

Follow your dreams--that’s what new writers are supposed to do. I’ve read all the latest books on the subject and I’m ready to begin my first important assignment —getting serious. No more tinkering around with restaurant napkins or putting brilliant quips on deposit slips at stoplights. According to the million or so writing experts out there, we fledgling artists must take four essential steps on the ladder to byline stardom.

Demand Cooperation: This is the first step in gaining the respect of your family. I wasted no time. I lined up all the offspring in the kitchen to make my announcement.

“All right you guys, from now on I demand respect for my profession as a soon to be published writer. I’m taking my writing seriously and it’s time you did too.”

“Mom, you write on airsick bags.”

“Hey, that was just once, Mr. Smarty pants, and I couldn’t hold the sentence till we landed. From now on, people are going to be paying me lots of money for what I write.”

“I need a note for not doing my homework” the 10 year old offered.

“That will be 10 cents a word” I fired off.

Envision Yourself A Writer: Speak the language of success the experts say. Practice saying “writer like” phrases. I practiced my favorite line over and over in front of the mirror. When the attacks on my time came, I was ready.

Can you chair the committee on the “Fun with Fudge” fundraiser? Nope! I’m on deadline.
Bake Viennese Stuffed Cabbage for the scouts potluck? Sorry…. I’m on deadline.
Unfortunately, I decided to try it out on my dad. At 82, between his lack of hearing and a staticy cell phone, communication is a little bit of a challenge.


“Hello, hello? Is someone there?”

“Dad, I’m calling to tell you that I’m running a little late today. I’m a writer now. I’m on deadline.”

”On what? I wouldn’t trust any of those new drugs.”

Well maybe I’m just not saying it to the right people. Next week will get better.

Get Organized: One author says the key to good organization is owning the right equipment. An absolute must on the list of essentials is a telephone headset. All the published professionals wear them. It makes sense to me. After all, how would I interview important big shots typing with a phone between my teeth?

I’m really excited about this one. I can feel just like the clerks at Old Navy and Burger King drive thrus –only I don’t have to wear low-rise khakis or saddle up to a deep fryer. I wonder if they come in the new spring colors?

Network: Writers are a friendly bunch they tell us. Hobnob with the success stories and learn their secrets. But why stop at other writers? Why not go straight to editors and publishers? I checked the back of some books and magazines and jotted down the e-mail address of someone I’ll call Joan. Joan is the editor of a famous national magazine, and I figured she’d be just tickled to network with a friendly new contact like me.

Dear Joan:

Wow! I’m a writer too. Have you heard of me? Oops, my mistake! I haven’t been published yet.

Any ideas for that yet Joan? No pressure, but I’m sending you my favorite thirty stories I just completed which would be perfect for your magazine. What was the name of it again? Ha ha, just kidding, Joan. I’m a humor writer, can you tell? I’ll bet you’re just splitting your panty hose with laughter about now.

Hey, maybe your people could pay my way to New York, and we could talk about it. Let me know!
Your great new friend,


I never heard back from Joan. So much for networking. But, I have a few hundred more editors to contact. Besides, by the time I get finished at the office supply store loading up on a laptop, printer, headset phone, file cabinet, envelopes, stamps and a “writer at work” sign I’ll bet I have good news waiting in my mailbox.

If nothing else, maybe another kid needs a note.

I Love it, LouAnn!

God loves you and has called you to write,


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Be yourself - no matter what!

Do you get discouraged trying to be what someone else wants you to be?

Like me, you've probably listened to a lot of writing classes where the teacher asks you to step outside of your comfort zone. That's great! We all need to push the limits of our talent.

Be careful however, about trying to take on a role that isn't you.

Barbara Curtis is a wonderful writer and has written over a thousand articles plus 8 or 10 books (I've lost count). She is extremely talented at writing for the general public. She knows how to word issues so that someone with a different opinion can accept her writing.

I've tried to learn from her (she's a wonderful teacher) and hopefully I have changed for the better. But....I doubt that I will be a columnist.

I took a class by her on how to be a columnist and I've thought about it since. I think I would be okay with a column in a monthly or bi-monthly magazine but I'm not sure I could be one in a local paper. I don't know why....but it just doesn't feel right somehow.

I also listened to a lot of teachers who promote magazines. I love writing for magazines and I'm so excited that an article I wrote was published last week by Marriage Partnership on line. It was a fun article titled, Me and a Red Corvette. Looking back several years to that fun event was truly satisfying.

I have at least a hundred magazine articles in process that I should be sending out, but books seem to call to me. I'm happy working on chapters and I get involved in fixing all the little details that need to be mulled over in a book. I love reading books. I love getting into the meat of an issue and chewing on the mix of flavors and textures.

Will I continue to write for magazines and maybe even do a column or two? Yes, of course, but my heart belongs to books.

I have a friend who has a great book sitting on her desk and she won't send it out. She's trying to get some articles published first. That's fine....but it's like watching a child put on daddy's clothes. It just doesn't fit her.

That's why I hope you will study your craft, be the best writer you can be --and when all is said and done, be yourself. If that book is finished and ready for an editors eyes - send it out! If you hate working on books and love devotionals - send them out!

Be true to yourself and your work will show enthusiasm, creativity and excellence.

God loves you and has called you to write,


Friday, July 10, 2009

I write when the "spirit" moves me....

I've met a lot of new writers who think they can rise above the "awful" consequences of the commercial writing world by saying...."I only write when the spirit moves me."
I could probably fill a graveyard with rejected manuscripts that were conceived with this false philosophy.

This comment has a dual purpose. First of all it eliminates the need for self examination and it provides a quick response to rejection. "Well, that editor wasn't in the "spirit" or he would have seen the message that God intended."

The truth of the matter is that God, the Holy Spirit and our Holy Calling demands much more of us than just putting words to paper. If we are truly writing the "words of God" then we are responsible for doing it in such a way that the common man (and that includes an editor) will see heavenly perfection.

Writing the words as the spirit leads demands that we become Masters at our craft.

Robert Louis Stevenson was once asked if he loved to write. He replied, "I hate to write, but I love to have written."

Job cried out, "Oh, that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book!" (Job 19:23)

Epictetus, the Greek philosopher, wrote "If you want to be a writer, write."

Joseph Pulitzer said, "Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light."

In his book, How to write what you love, Dennis Hensley states.."Have you ever wondered why editors often give the majority of their freelance assignments to a select group? The answer is obvious. these writers have the traits those editors look for in writers.....An editor who trusts and respects you becomes your advocate and sponsor."

How can you become a respected writer? Work at your craft. Study the words you put on paper. Study grammar, word position, other writers and read read read. Spend time writing even when your mind feels stale and your body desperately wants to go outside.

Work at your craft even when the "spirit" has left and soon you will find that your writing transcends loftiness and exhibits both spirit and excellence.

God loves you and has called you to write,


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I did it my way

If you have attended any writer's conference, you have probably heard an editor say "You need to write with your audience in mind." You may also have heard them say, "If the audience is too small it's not cost effective for us to print your book or article."

Those types of statements may lead you to believe that you have to change your focus, your beliefs and ultimately who you are in order to be paid for your work.

Don't go there.

Should you take marketing and audience into consideration when you write that query letter - yes! But don't take it into consideration when you are beginning to write.


Creativity is an illusive mist. It comes and goes at will and you need to be prepared to make use of it when it appears and push through the desert when it's gone.

One of the traits of creativity is that it must be free and it must involve your own standards, beliefs and ideas. It must come from you. That's where all the passion and excitement is located - deep within you.

If you try to write another person's thoughts - if you try to be them - you will turn out miserable, unfeeling work. Your plan then, should be to write your passions. Get excited about your ideas and your writing. Don't consider the world or what they will think - be who you are.

Just don't forget the last step! When you are down to the re-writes, apply compassion, consideration and those marketing concerns. Don't betray the core of who you are but learn to "edit" so your reader can accept who you are.

Claire W. in God Help me Create says it this way....

"Only we can set standards that are appropriate and that help us in our work. If we try to adopt the standards of parents, family, or friends, we may lose all joy in the creative process.

We may also be hurt trying to please the recognized authorities or the critics in our field. However dependent upon their approval we may feel, adjusting our work to their standards will probably rob us of both pleasure in and respect for our work.

Essentially, the work we do is aimed at people who are like ourselves. The "audience" we try to reach, the "market" we try to sell to, is made up of people who delight in the things we delight in, who believe in the things we believe in, who are moved by the things that move us.

In setting standards, we must honor our own sense of what is right and good. If we do so, it is likely that others will recognise the integrity of our work and respond to it favorably."

Any man who will look into his heart and honestly write what he sees there will find plenty of readers. Edgar W. Howe

God loves you and has called you to write,


Friday, June 26, 2009

Jerry B. Jenkins, Writing for the Soul

I hope you schedule reading time into your writing day. Good writers are also good readers.

One of the greatest values of reading other writers is the connection we make with their lives. Writers are lonely people. We quietly walk around the library doing research. We quietly look through books on sale at the bookstore. We quietly sit at our computers doing more research or trying to solve the next mystery so we can put it in our new book.

If we don't make connections with other writers we can become stale and lose the fire in our writing that touches the reader. I've been reading Jerry Jenkins book, Writing for the Soul. In the chapter, Keeping the Goal in Sight, he talks about being in New York in 2001 when the Twin Towers were attacked.

"Months later we visited Ground Zero, a hole too big to comprehend until it was brought into perspective by the sight of a cement truck at the bottom that looked like a toy.

I was struck that our job as writers is to provide that kind of perspective, touch points to make clear the enormity of the themes we examine. Though we may be writing fiction, if our focus is clear, we reveal reality in all its pain and joy. And as inspirational writers, we have a duty to do justice to a worldview that may bend but will never be crushed under the weight of hopelessness.

There is a place for the stark reality of the kind of writing that despairs of the seeing hopelessness of man's inhumanity to man. And while we must not flinch in the face of such a bleak worldview, our burden, our task, our privilege is to represent hope. That doesn't mean Pollyanna stories in which everyone lives happily ever after - at least this side of heaven. People still suffer. Innocents still die. But we are believers, and if we cannot crack the door to hope, we dare not call ourselves inspirational writers."

Wow! Jerry - how true. I encourage you to get his book. You can use the link in the sidebar.

God has called you to write,


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Watch out for the beetles!

Many years ago my dad preached a sermon about beetles. Not the kind from Britain, but the kind you find in the garden or boring into a tree. He shared all kinds of information about beetles. Mainly that they hide under the bark or somewhere in a stalk and destroy the plant from the inside out.

He encouraged his congregation, to not let the beetles chip away at our faith. In other words, it's easy to let all the "little" stuff in our lives slowly move us in a different direction. We may not even feel it or know it until we look back and realize that our lives have taken a different path.

Yesterday, I was traveling back from another state and decided to write down everything I do in a day and how much time it takes me to do it. Everything I listed was important. Everything I listed needs to be done. The shocker was that it takes about 7 hours and 30 minutes out of my day!

We all know how much "writing" can be done in that amount of time. I thought about all the articles and books and poems and children's stories I could have written over the last year if only I'd put some of those things on hold.

Friends are important but two hour lunches aren't. Laundry is important but perhaps I could cut the time in half if I used other methods. Good meals are an important time to catch up with family but maybe I should settle for the quick salad rather than using 2 hours of prep time for a family favorite.

In his book, Quit your Day Job, Jim Denny refers to our HOLY CALLING and discusses how we need to protect that calling and work toward our goals.

I encourage you to plan your writing day. Write down everything you do and determine if it's really important or if it's a beetle stripping you of precious writing time. If you and I are going to change the world with our words (and I believe we can) we need to schedule wisely and keep a sharp lookout for all the beetles that can destroy our goals.

God loves you and has called you to write,


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Alienate more friends!

"I've always wanted to be a writer. I know I have a wonderful idea for a novel."

"Can I read it?"

"Oh, I haven't written anything, I just know I could. Maybe someday when I have more time."

"More time?"

"Yes, you know. When my children are grown and I don't have so much to do at church. Maybe when we have more money or my husband retires - yes, I think then I'll write a book."

Does that sound familiar? Haven't we all been tempted to put the computer away and concentrate more on our family and our friends. Why be in such a hurry to be a success? Why should I sit here day after day and work - alone? Especially when everyone is fussing at me because I'm missing out on this special day or that family function.

The fact is that any career means a choice must be made. If you decided to get a simple job at the local Chick-fil-A, choices would have to be made. There would be times when you would have to say...."Sorry, I have to work. I would love to be there but I can't get off."

Unfortunately for the lonely writer and his keyboard - many people don't feel like we have a "real" job. Most of our friends and families believe that fairies fly into our offices at night and correct that 80,000 word manuscript. And if it needs revisions, surely the editors will take care of all that. (Which is like saying the CEO of Wallmart will clean the toilets if the janitor needs a day off.)

I recently sent a "rant" off to a dear friend and writer about someone who just didn't get the fact that I had a real job. He was kidding of course, but I had to laugh at his response.

You ask how I handle extended family and friend's intrusions. I think what it boils down to is that all the people who can't or won't understand my situation as a writer are now so completely alienated that they NEVER call anymore. You just need to alienate more family members and friends and you'll have it made!

He was being funny of course - but what can you do to help others understand your work?

1. You can't convince them you have a real job if you don't feel it yourself. Make sure you have answered this question in your own mind. Do I want to be a full time writer? If the answer is yes then you will have to put in the hours to make it happen.

Just because you may not get a paycheck every week doesn't mean that you aren't investing in your business. Every time you spend the day writing, researching or are building your business just the same as if you put $$$ toward it.

2. Part of your contemplation should be understanding what you want from this new career. If you are in this for the money - Don't quit your day job! Most writers are some of the lowest paid people on the planet. But....if you want to be a writer because you feel "called" to the task and if you can't imagine a life without writing - it will be easier to accept the pitfalls that come along with the job.

3. Do you feel compelled to write? When you are in the mall and you see some event that sparks the creative juices, do you pull out a pen and scratch a few notes on the back of a bag? It may never become an article. You may always have that torn piece of bag stuffed in your drawer, but you knew you had to write it down. That's the first sign of being a "real" author. You have to write. You can't live without it.

4. Gather your immediate family and get them on board with your "calling". Explain what it means to you. Let them in on your goals and dreams. Ask them to help you reject the jabs of others. By doing this not only will you have help explaining to Aunt Martha why you can't attend her luncheon by the fish pond....but you will also have a team of people encouraging you and pushing you forward.

5. No one will ever believe this is a real job unless you do the work and submit it. You must think of this as a "job". Work toward that goal. Each of us has to work at the tempo that fits our own personal circumstances. Some of you can only work pieces here and there. Others may be able to put in part time work. And still others may be able to jump full time into the job. But none of us will be taken seriously until we send those manuscripts out. It's not being accepted that's important. It's being out there. It's being able to say...."I did it!"

Again, I urge anyone that wants to be a writer to get Jim Denney's book, "Quit your day job!" It is one of the most complete writer's guides to getting the job done that I've ever read. You can use the link in the sidebar to purchase this book. It's helped me through many agonizing questions.

So, don't be discouraged when friends criticize the fact that you aren't there. Smile and know that by alienating your friends you are one step closer to your goals.

God loves you and has called you to write,


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

blah! blah! blah!

As a writer I've never had a problem with ideas. I took a class with Angela Hunt and liked the way she expressed her idea process. She said that she was never without ideas. "Instead of wondering what I'll write about next, I feel like all these ideas are circling around my head like planes at an airport. They wait for their chance to land and unload all their potential."

Sounds good to me. I have so many notes for articles and books it's crazy. It's been hard for me to understand when other author friends express writer's block. I think I understand. Writer's block comes in many forms. It may be a lack of ideas or it may be a lack of writing skills. It may be procrastination or it may be just frustration.

For me, writer's block comes more in the form of writer's Blah. Ideas are still plentiful, yet I've sat at my desk for hours without writing two words. I have an idea....I have a plan....but the hands just aren't moving.

There may be reasons for my lethargic behavior. I've been sick and my energy level is still very low. Deadlines are pressing and even though I know I should be busy - like a teen that's overwhelmed during finals week - my head just doesn't want to do the work. I'm forcing myself to get it done - and I know that's what needs to happen - but the "joy" I've experienced before isn't there.

Now what? I don't want to go through this journey feeling like I've lost the enjoyment of the process.

Sometimes when our brain is too tired to participate, it's best to just walk away. What? You've got deadlines and you're going to just walk away?

Yep....I'll just walk away. I looked at the sky and breathed in the fresh spring air. Yesterday, I took a garden tool and made about 25 stabs at the garden. Not enough to get sweaty. Not enough to take up the entire afternoon. Just enough to free up my mind.

Then, I sat on my porch swing and thought about my children. I sipped at a glass of ice water and drug my feet on the porch.

Finally, I prayed and asked God to help me to focus. It was just enough. I took a few more deep breaths before going inside. I settled into my desk chair, said another quick prayer and finished my first deadline.

Whew! That was a close one.

God loves you and has called you to write.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Just let it go!

I was talking to a writer friend last night. She's been working on a novel for 10 years. It's completed and she even has an idea for the cover. It's been completed for about two years. I've read parts of it and it's pretty good.

But....she keeps saying, "I think it needs a little more tweaking."

I think all writers suffer with that type of fear. We want the world to like what we write so we are continually trying to write something of "worth". That's a great philosophy - until - it robs us of a career. There's a lot of things wrong with that type of thinking.

1. When you do finally believe it's perfect and you present it to an editor, they will probably want to know how long you've been working on it. If you say ten years, they will gulp wondering if they will be able to get another book out of you. If the first one is successful, they will want a follow-up book. And they will want you to write it in less time.

2. Think of all the information and stories you could have written in the time you spent re-writing the first one. The world has missed at least 9 books while you were fussing with one.

3. Authors should be willing to speak and get out and meet people. If your book is published, your life will be filled with speaking engagements and book signings. You are going to have to produce other books while all that is going on.

4. After a few re-writes, your writing will suffer. If we used a line graph to represent the first few re-writes of your book, the line would soar to the top. Every writer must do some re-writing. But as you begin to challenge every word, the line will curve and finally drop off the bottom.

So...if you are getting ready for a writer's conference like I am - or if you are sitting at home playing with your book or article - it's time......Just let it go!

I have a huge project that I will present at this conference. I hope it's liked and received with a big - "yes, let's publish!" But even if it isn't, I'll take the criticism and rework it and present it again. For now...I'm just going to Let it GO!

God loves you and has called you to write,


Friday, February 20, 2009

Can you be this bold?

One News source reported on a 12-year old girl who wanted to give a speech presentation for her class.

Lia is a preteen from Canada who decided to speak out against abortion in her school's speech contest, despite teachers and school officials who encouraged her to pick a different topic.

"What if I told you that right now someone was choosing if you were going to live or die? What if I told you that this choice wasn't based on what you could or couldn't do, what you had done in the past, or what you would do in the future? And what if I told you [that] you could do nothing about it? Fellow students and teachers, thousands of children are right now in that very situation," she says in her speech.

You can read the entire article here:

I went to You Tube and listened to her speech. By the end I had tears in my eyes. All I could think about was if that young lady could present the kind of poise and grace in her delivery of "unwanted" truth....then I had better find the courage to speak the truth as well.

As I've said so many times before, this world needs strong, dedicated writers that will "highlight" the truth. I hope you will join me in working to be the "salt and light" that this old world needs.

You can view her speech here:

God loves you and has called you to write,


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Are you Afraid to write?

We all have dreams. There are things we want to accomplish for ourselves and for God. It's exciting when we start the journey of writing. We have a wonderful idea and we know that it will bless or encourage or even teach readers more about God.

As you begin to write you visualize the reader and his current mood. Perhaps you stop to watch the news or read an article in the paper. You realize how militant some people are. You understand that the words you have just put on paper will incite some people to attack you. You try to remove anything negative or offensive to anyone but as you refuse to take a stand, your writing looses it's strength.

In his book, Against the Night, Chuck Colson writes, "I believe that we do face a crisis in Western culture, and that it presents the greatest threat to civilization since the barbarians invaded Rome."

We serve a God who commands us to trust Him. Even when we face the "spirit of the antichrist," we need not fear "because the one who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world." I John 4:3-4

We need to pray all the time (Eph. 6:18) and be strong in the Lord and in his might power (Eph. 6:10) knowing that Jesus has already won the battle.

Pastor Samuel Namitiiti from Uganda stayed with me the last few days on his way to the Mt. Hermon Writer's conference. He was telling us about how his church was surrounded by Idi Amin's soldiers and how they machine gunned the church for over 30 minutes. He told how one young man stood and blew his trumpet during the entire time and how all the people prayed. After the shooting stopped not one person was hurt. Even with glass flying all around and bullets piercing different pieces of furniture no one was hurt.

Horrified, I asked if he was afraid. "No. I was concerned about what might happen to my family or what I was going to face - but I was not really afraid. You see, I realized that I am not a creature of this world. I am an eternal being with an eternal home. What happens in the span of this journey is inconsequential to the thin moment that separates me from my heavenly home. It's but a breath that takes me from here to there. Here is the test....there is the reward."

Wow! I can never say it enough - authors.....we can and MUST change the world.

Acts 18:9-11

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: "Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city." So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.

God loves you and has called you to write,


Friday, February 6, 2009

Inspiration is rampant at Writer's Conference

This blog is dedicated to lifting the spirits of any writer! I believe that we are the hope for the future. Nothing on the planet can inspire and change a nation like a well turned phrase.

I hope you will join my efforts and make comments or be a guest blogger on this site. I can see that the stats for this blog are climbing, but I would like to connect with you personally and I know other readers would like to meet you as well. If you are a guest blogger, I will highlight your book or website.

Many of us are preparing for Writer's Conferences. All year long we do our "thing". We sit in our lonely little offices, struggling for insight while sludging through re-write after re-write. We receive rejection letters and send e-mails to editors that are never answered.

But once a year, after saving all our pennies, we get on planes, trains, buses and cars - making our way to a Writer's conference. There we connect. We eat our lunch with an editor and absorb a how to class with a famous author. We participate in discussions and sit on community benches thanking God for this privilege. We pray with others who are also struggling to be published and we feel renewed when they pray for us. We jump for joy when someone compliments our work.

Attending a Writer's Conference is the most important thing you can do as a writer. If you are serious about being published - you must pick one and go. You will not only get the instruction needed to correct any flaws in your writing, but you can "feel" the acceptance, patience and inspiration in the air.

If you are low on funds, check out the possibility of a scholarship. Many conferences offer some type of help. While conferences without editors can be helpful and cheaper - I've found that connecting with that editor on a personal level is huge! (Picture - Debbie with Ginger Kolbaba of Today's Christian woman)

I will attend the Florida Christian Writer's Conference February 26-March 1. This is a wonderful conference and editors from large publishing companies will be there.

I will also attend the Mt. Hermon Christian Writer's Conference in California April 1 - 7. They offer a mentoring clinic just prior to the main conference. A mentoring clinic will give you personal attention and can point out those little changes that will make a positive difference in your manuscript.

Next time, let's discuss the proper way to approach an editor. Do you have a story about an experience at a writer's conference? Send it to me and I'll post it here.

If you attend one of these conferences - please look me up and say hello!

God loves you and has called you to write,


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Do you need "inspiration" to write?

I remember sitting in a writer's conference and hearing Dennis Hensley announce, "Everyone in America wants to write a book." He went on to say, "Very few people have the drive and determination to follow through."

His comment made a valid point but I was sceptical that it was true. One day I was sitting in an emergency waiting room. I had my pen and paper poised and was scribbling away. I opened a writer's manual and read for a minute and then went back to my writing. A lady next to me asked, "Are you studying for an exam?"

I stopped and smiled at her. "No, I'm a writer."

"Oh, that's great. I have an idea for a wonderful story. I've never read anything like my story. I know it would be a great seller."

"Are you a writer?"

"No, well....I would like to be. I have this great idea, but I just don't have time right now. One of these days though." She looked up at the ceiling and sighed. " of these days."

Over the last three years I've met a lot of those people. They have great ideas but just can't find the time or the will power to put those ideas on paper. I think one of the saddest excuses is the one about "inspiration".

Five years ago a young man told me he was working on a great book. I listened to his idea and it was an exceptional one. Unfortunately, this young man is under the impression that you can only be a "great" writer when you are inspired. Putting words on paper and working through them later won't produce a truly inspired piece - or so he thinks. Recently I asked him how the novel was coming. "Not so good. I've just got so much going on in my life that I can't find the inspiration I need."

"How much have you done?"

"I've almost finished the introduction."

How sad. In five years he's only completed about three pages. Writing is a job that will not wait. If we are going to help people or spread the gospel or give society the information it needs for change....then we can't waste time. I like how Jim Denny deals with inspiration in his book, Quit your Day Job.

Habits are better than Inspiration

Over the dozen or so years that I've been writing full-time, I've discovered something about myself: My creative energies rise and fall. I have learned to become keenly aware of those energy levels. There are days when I feel creatively depleted. I don't feel that inner motivation, intensity, and drive to write. It's not that I feel physically tired. I just feel creatively spent, listless, and uninspired.

Yet there are other days when I wake up full of an inner fire, my mind bursting with ideas, my fingers eager to dance on the keyboard. I think that's the experience some people describe when they say they feel "inspired" to write. I enjoy writing on days when I feel inspired -- but I have found that such days are rare. Most days, writing is work. I enjoy my work, so that's okay, but rarely do I feel "inspired" when I work. I get my work done by simply being there and slogging through it, hour by hour, day after day.

It's my habit. I write everyday. On those rare occasions that I go a whole day without writing (Christmas, family vacations..) I have a vague, nagging sense that I should be writing. Something inside tells me that it's not right to not write.

That's the power of a habit.

If I only wrote when inspired, my output of published books would be a slim fraction of what it is today - and you wouldn't be reading this book right now. Fact is, there are many days I drag my unwilling carcass to the computer, slump in my chair, groan inarticulately, and begin grinding out my day's allotment of words. Occasionally, while I am sitting in that unwilling, uninspired state, I feel something come over me: the magic of inspiration. The words on the screen take on a life of their own. Ideas start flowing like wine. Soon, I find I can't type fast enough to keep up with the magic.

By the time I'm ready to stop, I've racked up two or three thousand words. If I hadn't started writing purely by habit, I would have missed the lightning bolt of inspiration when it finally struck. So, I write daily and diligently, inspired or not. As someone once observed, "The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair."

Habits are constant. Inspiration is variable - it comes and goes. That's why habits are better than inspiration. It is habit, not inspiration, that builds writing careers. Inspiration makes you feel energized while you write, but inspiration isn't writing. Only writing is writing and you can write whether you feel inspired or not.

(Used with permission)

So.....what are you waiting for???? Get busy!

God loves you and has called you to write,


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Do you want to be a published author?

I've always wanted to be a writer. As a teen I found joy writing little stories and poems. My grammar and spelling was horrible so being a published author wasn't something I thought possible. About ten years ago I started writing seriously. At first I didn't believe I would ever publish. I didn't think I was good enough. When people asked if I was working on something the answer was always, YES! I sounded excited and it was a real thrill to share my ideas.

But if someone asked if I was published, my head would turn, my countenance would change and I'd softly reply something like...."It's almost ready" or "It's done but I'm in the process of sending it out." Both of those remarks were code for "nope - not gonna happen anytime soon".

I've told you about meeting Vikie Crumpton of Baker Books and how she encouraged me to "just do it!" She inspired the feeling of urgency. She helped me to feel "challenged" to get my work out there. Still those questions nagged at me. What if I'm not the best? What if I make a mistake? What if it isn't that good? What if....what if....what if...?

Quit your Day Job, by Jim Denney is packed with tons of helpful tips and writing ideas. If you don't have his book - get it! He's also very encouraging. In his last chapter he discusses the enemy of writers. Enemy No. 3 is self-doubt. The following is quoted with permission from Jim Denney's book. Later this month he has promised to do a blog interview with Just Write.

"Self-doubt is the most common to all writers' afflictions - more common than writer's block and carpal tunnel syndrome combined. Self doubt is really a form of fear. We are afraid of what we might find out about ourselves - that we are not as talented or brilliant or creative as we thought we were. We are afraid of rejection - that editors and readers will see our work and condemn it (and us with it). We are afraid of failure - that we will put our work out into the marketplace, and it will be a resounding flop. Most paradoxical of all, we are afraid of success.......

To be a working writer, you must overcome those fears. A working writer willingly accepts the burdens of success and chooses to live courageously. Understand, courage is not the absence of fear. It is doing what you have to do despite your fears. And that means that you persevere, you press ahead, you write, disregarding your fears and self doubt."

As we all look forward into 2009 and all those writing challenges and writer's conferences - let's pray for courage. Courage to get our writing into the hands of editors and publishers. Courage to have passion about what we write and courage to "just do it"!

You are called to write,