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

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tools of the Trade

This blog will always be committed to the mental health of writers and authors.  Finding my way in the demanding world of writing has been one of the hardest things I've ever done.  Becoming an actual "paid" author not only takes discipline and new ideas but it's also drains you emotionally, demands a tough skin, requires lots of research that never ends up on the page and you must have scheduling techniques that rival Nasa.

Many of you have written and asked for my personal techniques for handing all the "extras" that go along with writing.  Since that seems to be a personal journey for each writer, I've been hesitant about going there.  There are days when I flounder and wonder why I'm doing this.  There are days when I'm so excited about a topic it's hard for my fingers to keep up with my brain.  There are days when my head aches from research and other days I moan because I can't meet a friend for lunch.

Debbie Macomber spoke at the Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference.  I was excited to sit by her at lunch.  She is a darling person and one of my favorite fiction writers.  She has sold billions of books and is still going strong.  In her very first talk she explained that no job can be done successfully without purchasing tools of the trade.  Even if you decide to become a dishwasher in a local dive restaurant - you will probably purchase a good set of plastic gloves. 

She went on to insist that many new writers think all they need is a pencil and paper in order to write a best selling novel.  While there is a small amount of truth to the simplistic view - it isn't likely that you'll go on to sell that great novel.  You have to investigate the proper procedure for submitting, who to present to, how to get noticed and ultimately pay postage or invest in technology to get your writing to a likely publisher.

"Never feel guilty about the money you spend to reach for your dreams."  She went on to tell the audience about how hard it was to take $100 a month from her meager family budget in order to purchase supplies, read books, attend conferences and submit her work. was that investment that finally helped her reach her dream. 

After that conference, I began to think of my tools of the trade as "education".  Suppose a "University of Authors" made the claim that enrollment in their school guaranteed publication.  They promised that after two years of study graduates earning a B or higher would publish their novels.  The cost $2,500  Publication of your novel even with a small company would net you $3,000 and the hope to publish other novels.  Sounds like a decent deal.

For those of you that have can visit the websites of your favorite authors and most of them give writing tips.  You can research writing tips on line.  You can purchase tapes and MP3's from many of the best writers conferences.  You can check out writing books for free at the library. 

However, I recommend that while you build your own library of "free" materials, that you also think about building an office of specific tools of the trade.  Good books that you can read over and over - making notes in the margins.  Join writing groups and associations.  Become part of a group of writers that share ideas and an understanding ear.

And....above all....own specific tools that inspire you.  Tools that get your creative juices going.  Perhaps that will include inspirational tapes.  Maybe it's books by genre authors in your field.  Subscriptions to magazines or even technological tools.

Last November I purchased an Apple iPad II.  I received money for my birthday and had a kindle in mind.  My laptop was having issues and I like to write on trips or when I'm stuck waiting for the doctor or a friend.  My son suggested the Apple iPad instead of the Kindle.  The battery runs much longer than most laptops and can be used to write articles.  I can access Facebook and other social groups.  I can read books from Kindle and I can check my e-mail. 

What I've found is that because the Apple is so light and easy to throw in a purse - I'm writing more.  It's a "fun" way for me to complete work even when I can't access my PC.  I'm also reading more (which is a plus).  While Ron listens to music in the car - I pop open the Ipad and read a few pages in a book.  I'm so glad Jamie convinced me to spend a little more and purchase technology that would help my writing as well.

Don't ever feel guilty for purchasing the tools of the Trade.  You need them in order to be considered serious about your writing - and in the long run - it will pay off!

God loves you and wants you to write,


I'm not a fan of selling to my friends and colleagues. However, since the life of a "regular" author isn't filled with paychecks (that's only for best sellers), and since I do a lot of freebie work for hurting families - I have included a link to Amazon on each of my blogs. By using this link your price stays the same but amazon throws a few cents at me for promoting their marketplace.  Check out the following products...they are a must for my writing!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Authors wanted, thin skin need not apply.

Before we become authors, perhaps we should all be required to take a class on rejection.  I thought the more I was published, the more the fear of submitting would go away.  Yet, here I am with several articles and a book under my belt and I still think twice about sending that article. 

I do push the send button more often.  Those fears no longer stop me from trying, but I'm surprised that there's still a little twinge just before the click.  I thought perhaps it was a reflex that would melt away in time until I sat one dinner table away from Jerry Jenkins. 

We were attending an awards banquet and Jerry and his new book Riven was up for Book of the year.  He faced three ladies and a man whose experience and publishing popularity was small compared to him.  The moment before the name was announced I glanced at his face and saw it.  It was a small nervous twitch and an expression that questioned whether or not he had a chance.  His wife took his hand.  When the name was called (and it wasn't his) his head dropped.  He took a deep breath, mustered a little more strength and raised his head and hands to applaud.

If someone whose done so much for our lives and created so many stories can feel that twitch before he knew he was accepted - why wouldn't I feel it?  Why wouldn't you?

To be a good author I think we have to understand that it's enough to be on the stage talking.  It doesn't matter if we are liked or even if we are published.  It does matter that we are doing our best to perfect our craft and that we keep trying.

So I sit....alone in my office...a little nervous....a little intimidated...but ready....yes, I'm ready....push the button.  *Sigh*  It's now out of my hands.

God loves you and has called you to write,