February 26, 2010

Brainless


I feel brainless. Not stupid, mind you. Just without any new and exciting tidbits to impart. Why is it when you have a blog, you feel like you have to share a juicy piece of information that will teach, or inspire, or wow others?


Impressing others was not why I started this blog. I started it to share my journey and have an online "ID" to connect with other writers in the blogosphere. I didn't like the look of that anonymous grey head ID. I wanted to be ME!


So, today I have nothing for you. :)


I will solicit prayers from all you cyber friends of mine. We got an offer on our house and are now waiting for bank approval. I'd LOVE for it to go through and get on with life. I'm ready to downsize and live simply. I'm ready to not have people traipsing through my house all the time and trying to keep the house immaculate. lolololol....hilarious, I know! After 9 months on the market, I'm weary of the invasion of the people parade.


Give me normal. Give me a routine.


Oh, and I'm ready for the Olympics to be over. I've enjoyed it, but I'm tired of staying up late to see all the good stuff. I need my beauty sleep. I pull my cranky pants out more when I'm sleep deprived.


I hope you all have a great weekend. Read alot, write alot, and give lots of smiles.


February 24, 2010

I Am At War & Loving Bell!


I've been thumbing through one of my favorite books on writing, The Art Of War For Writers by James Scott Bell. In a previous post, I mentioned the first of his three sections in the book. If you don't remember...and it's okay if you don't...the first section is about Reconnaissance. The mental game of writing. Writing smart, and writing with discipline.

The second section is all about Tactics. It is all about craft. Bell has so many succinct and jam-packed chapters that cover all kinds of issues on the writing journey. He focuses on getting your work to rise to the next level and out of the slush pile.

One of the quotes Bell uses is by Katherine Neville. It spoke to my heart and really sends home the message that we must WRITE! There is no substitute for it.

Write. Remember, people may keep you (or me) from being a published author but no one can stop you from being a writer. All you have to do is write.And keep writing. While you're working at a career, while you're raising children, while you're trout fishing--keep writing! No one can stop you but you.

Isn't that awesome? Isn't that motivating? Isn't that inspiring? I don't know about you, but I need to be encouraged during every stage of this writing journey. Sure, it is fulfilling, but there is also a lot of doubt and discouragement. We all face it. (If you don't, then don't tell me.)

Definitely go purchase Bell's book. The Art of War. It is a keeper!

Oh yes! I just got a package from Amazon today. (You aren't jealous, are you?) In it was A Novel Idea: Best Advice On Writing Inspirational Fiction. It has chapters written by various authors, such as: Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury, Randy Alcorn, Terri Blackstock, Jerry B. Jenkins, Robin Jones Gunn, Angela Hunt, and more! I'm looking forward to this one and I'm sure I'll share some of the juicy tidbits I find.

What writing books have you read lately that inspire and encourage you as a writer?




February 22, 2010

Reflections & Triumph


My week away from blogging helped me last week. I was refreshed. I was productive. I was victorious!

I wrote my first synopsis!!!!!

And it's not all that great. Believe me, it's not. I had a friend look it over, as well as my dad, and they both had some encouraging and constructive advice to give me. Once I get their feedback in written form, I will tackle the edits on it.
Photo: Tim Toole


This learning process is such an interesting thing. I had looked online at different synopsis and yet I still struggled with how the thing was supposed to be done. Especially the one pager...it is difficult to fit all the plot variables of your story onto one page--even if it is single spaced! lol


I learned how to write the synopsis through the actual act of writing it. And I learned even more by having someone with experience look at it with expert eyes and show me how to make it better.


I am finding that I can read writing craft books until the cows come home; I can soak up the great blogs about writing until I'm saturated and dripping all over the place; I can research and talk to other writers 24/7 and yet I will never learn as much, or as fast, as when I actually put fingers to the keyboard and write, write, write.


Newbies like me need to write. We need to write a lot. Practice may not make perfect, but it hones our skills and makes our stories stronger.


I'm confessing my addiction to blogs and to FB...and to Twitter...and to TV. (I refuse to confess to my book or chocolate addiction!) I am not giving them up, but I am cutting back. Paring down, weeding out, throwing out...I'm going to be strong.

Yay me!

February 21, 2010

Winner of Charles Stanley's Book

Just shoot me! (Not really, please)

I totally forgot to draw for a winner for Charles Stanley's book, How To Reach Your Full Potential For God. So without further ado....the winner is:



Send me your snail mail address and I will get the book to you this week! Congrats!


February 15, 2010

Unplugged

I'm unplugging this week and going to write a synopsis.

Focus, Focus, Focus.

Pray for me! I'm scared.


February 14, 2010

Love At First Sight BlogFest

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today is the day of Courtney's Love At First Sight BlogFest. Jump over to her blog to read scenes of love at first sight.

Alas, my WIP does not have a "love at first sight" scene since my heroine is disguised as a boy for quit awhile. So I found a clip of the new Emma where Mr. Knightly professes his love for Emma. Not really a love at first sight either, but it's a first declaration of love. Very nice. :)



February 10, 2010

Chapter Lengths & Editing


I experienced a glorious day off yesterday. I donned my sweats, lit a yummy smelling candle, poured a Diet DP into a pretty glass, and cuddled with my laptop in my cozy chair. Pure bliss. A little piece of heaven. And oh, I was productive.

I took my 13 page First Chapter and my 4 page Second Chapter and combined them. I took the crits I had received recently and deleted, added, cut, and pasted to my heart's delight. I used that delete button ruthlessly, cutting out the backstory that weighed my chapters down. Well, not all of it, but a lot of it!

I debated combining my first two chapters because I really liked the ending line of the first chapter. It is a real "hook". But with the second chapter only 4 pages long, I felt I needed to combine them. I could have combined the second and third chapter, but I am getting these chapters ready for some contests and thought it'd be good to have the heroine and hero both show up in the first chapter.

What would you do? Combine and mess up your hook? Or let it be and have uneven chapters? Do chapter lengths matter? What is the an average chapter length anyway?

Did I give you enough questions to choose from?


February 08, 2010

The Dump


We've all been to the dump. It's a smelly place, full of stuff nobody wants. Sure it was useful at some point in time, but not any more.


In writing we've all heard about the dreaded backstory dump. It is the place where you unload all the background information you think the reader needs to know in order to understand the story.


Dumping is a huge No-No in the Land of Writing.


I had someone read through my first chapter and I was told there were concerns regarding some of my dumping. The cool thing was this person proceeded to explain how I could make my story better. They sent me an email with examples of "before and after" paragraphs - first with backstory and then inserting snippets of backstory in dialogue.


Ding-A-Ding-Ding! Light-bulb-flash!!!!!


Ahhhh, so THAT's how it's done!


I was so excited about taking this first chapter of mine and seeing if I could delete my dump and intersperse it throughout, usually some dialogue and inner-monologue. I also received another critique that echoed and confirmed my dumping problem. I was ready to use that delete button and get the job done.


Alas, I didn't get to this chapter transformation this weekend like I wanted AND planned. My mom called and was giving us their king-sized bed. (they were upgrading!) Oh my goodness! We drove to the neighboring town of Granbury, an hour away, and picked up our wonderful-ly comfortable and LARGE bed! I spent the rest of the day cleaning and rearranging furniture, scattering the dust far and wide.


But oh, it was nice to fall into that big bed and have some elbow room! I felt like we were staying in a hotel, because the only time we ever sleep in king-size beds is when we travel! lol


So it is with great excitement that I begin to edit and rearrange this backstory problem of mine tonight. Wish me luck!


My question of the day: Have you tackled the problem of backstory dumping? Is it a problem with each and every manuscript? Or have you learned to spread it out in creative and unique ways?


February 05, 2010

When Plans Change


I expected to have such glorious news to share with you about all the editing I got done on my book, but alas...I have no such news.

I took the day off yesterday and was expecting to settle in a chair with my candles lit, coffee by my side, and my laptop in my...lap. Well, I had to leave the house by 9 a.m., because we were going to have a two hour showing of our house. A second look, which is pretty good news in itself. I was going to go to the library with my laptop and edit in the quiet, surrounded by books and the smell of paper.

I grabbed my cell phone on my way out and saw that I had missed a call. From work. Now, one of my best friends works with me, so I immediately called her back, thinking she needed something job related. Well, as it turns out, the other office worker could not come in due to her daughter having complications from her knee surgery. My friend told me not to come in, but in a school office as busy as ours is, I knew I could not leave her all alone.

So I went to work. I DID keep my jeans on though. And I stopped by Starbucks and got me a Skinny Caramel Macchiato. And then I stopped by Sonic and got me and my friend a Route 44 drink. Hey, if I was going to have to work, then I was going in comfy and caffeined up.

I had hoped to share something funny I'd found in my editing. Or at least something I was learning. Or maybe how many times I used the word thus or 'tis. (medieval "speak") But alas, 'twas not to be.

On a happier note, my son shot two 3-point shots in his game yesterday. Those always make me so incredibly nervous. I find myself willing him NOT to shoot, because I think there is no way it is going in the hoop, but my goodness, my little six foot 8th grader swooshed it two times!

I will be editing this weekend, just so you know. I do hope to have some great progress to share with you Monday. I'm just glad I can be flexible and not be too stressed out about it.

Do you find when your plans change at the last minute, you get mad and/or frustrated? Or do you go with the flow? Do you pull out your cranky pants when you planned on writing, but life gets in the way?


February 02, 2010

How To Reach Your Full Potential For God by Charles Stanley


Have you ever felt like you have settled for an ordinary life? Have you ever thought there's got to be more to this life than what you are experiencing? So often we think we are just one insignificant drop in the ocean of humanity. What difference to I really make in the world?

Charles Stanley's newest book, How To Reach Your Full Potential For God, encourages us to not settle for the ordinary life. He teaches that God has designed each of us for an extraordinary purpose that only we can fulfill. We were created with talents, gifts, desires, and dreams that, when yielded to God's plan, enable us to reach our full potential in God.

Stanley's lays out seven hurdles to overcome, including fear of failure, self-imposed limitations, fear of disappointment, and laziness. We cannot leap over these kinds of hurdles in our own strength. We must have God's help to do so. We must line up our lives with His will in order to receive all that God has for us.

Stanley introduces seven areas to examine and work on in order to reach our fullest potential in God. Those are: A Clean Heart, A Clear Mind, Using Your Gifts, A Healthy Body, Right Relationships, A Balanced Schedule, and Taking God-Approved Risks. When these areas fall in line with God's ideal, then we open ourselves up for the extraordinary life.

I don't always enjoy non-fiction books, but the title of Stanley's book drew me in. This book made me think and examine my life more than any book I've read in a long time. I felt my heart stir, heard God whisper His love to me through the pages, and was convicted of how I'd settled for less than what God desired for my life.

You won't be disappointed in this book. You'll be inspired.
Since I feel so strongly about this book, I'm offering up a copy to a commenter today. If you would like a chance to win, please include your email address in a non-spam format. (sherrinda(at)gmail(dot)com) I will use a randomizer to choose a winner on Saturday, February 6. I'm sorry, but this is only available to those who live in the US. Chances of winning are in relation to the number of entries.

** I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

February 01, 2010

In Honor Of Valentines & Love


I'm spreading the word about TWO important events coming up that centers around LOVE, and will definitely get you in the mood for Valentine's Day.


FIRST: Starting TODAY, Pepper Basham at Faith and Fiction On Fire is hosting many Christian Authors who will be sharing some of their favorite kissing scenes that they feel are Novel-Worthy. So what makes a kiss a SCENE to build on? Go find out on Pepper's blog and hear what Deborah Rainey, Melanie Dickerson, Myra Johnson, Robin Lee Hatcher, and Mary Connealy have to say this week!


SECOND: My crit group is hosting a "Love At First Sight Blogfest" on Valentine's Day, February 14. This is a chance for you to post a scene from your WIP...or a scene from your favorite book...of that first awkward encounter...that "oh.my.goodness.he.is.yummy" scene...that "oooo-la-la-I-think-I'm-in-love" scene. Courtney Reese is hosting this Blogfest, so hop on over and sign up on Mr. Linky.




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