Do you suffer from F.A.P. ???

Fear and Procrastination. Two nasty little words that obliterate a writer’s craft before it’s completed.

I’ve written blogs before on inspiration and keeping that perseverance going. But what happens when you just don’t think you have it in you to write one more page, write one more word? Just because we’re writers doesn’t mean the words come easy. It’s not like our pens become magic wands, making all our dreams come true in five seconds. So, what if your “small break” ends up being two months of pure nothingness?

You start having that fear creep inside you. That voice that says, “you’ll never get there. You were so close, all that work, and now its just collecting dust, like all your other projects you never finished. Good job, buddy. Don’t quit your day job.”

And there it starts. After fear catches you, then procrastination keeps you. He’s the little thief in the night that watches your every movement until…BAM…he’s in your house while you’re asleep, grabbing all your precious things.


Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.”  ~ Charles Dickens, David Copperfield


How does a writer move on from that? At times, procrastination can almost be debilitating. It’s similar to how depression is described in some people, the fear of failure but no urge to be productive. Some of the best pieces of work have never left a writer’s mind because of that robber who steals our time and thoughts. We make excuses saying it’s our spouse, our full-time job, friends, or our kids that need our time more. “Life is just busy right now.” We say to ourselves. “I’m moving, changing jobs, my daughter has basketball practice, I’m getting married, I’m getting divorced, the holidays are coming up, etc.”

FAP


The thing all writers do best is find ways to avoid writing.”  ~ Alan Dean Foster


Sometimes, it’s as simple as guilt from a family member. You know the person I’m talking about. The one that says your writing is just a “hobby” and really it should come behind everything else. Before we know it, days, weeks, months, maybe even years have gone by. We feel like we’ve missed our moment.

Other times, it’s the discouragement of comparing ourselves to other writers. “How did Suzy Smith write and edit her 100K word manuscript in six months? She’s going to be published in the Spring!” You gaze at the piles of crumpled paper that surround your desk. The red ink smudged all over your 40K word rough draft that you’ve been working on for nearly two years. “She even has a husband and three kids! She does carpool and works for an attorney! How is that even possible!? I might as well just hang in the towel. If I was meant to be a writer, I’d be where Suzy is at.”

I went through some of this, just recently. Thankfully, I had a fantastic editor who didn’t give up on me. Shout out Katelyn Stark! She showed me that I could do it. I could finish, and that yes, life happens, but not to let it take all the reasons from me that caused me to start writing in the first place. Life is always moving and changing around you. But all you have to do is take that one step. Plug in that USB to your laptop, punch those keys with your fingers, take that paper out of your desk and pick up your pen. You’ll find that when you start again, it’s like an old friend the you thought was gone, but in fact, never left.

This blog is probably the most important one so far that I’ve written. Mostly, because it comes from a very dark place that I’ve been in with my writing. I’ve feared so much of not being able to cut it, never getting published, seeing others around me write faster or better, believing that maybe all the signs I thought I had seen, were just a mistake. Maybe, I really wasn’t a writer. I just got caught up in the moment. Maybe it had been just a lie I had wanted so badly.

I’ve written about patience in the writing industry on my blog. Every part of it is true. Sometimes you must have it with agents, editors, publishers, but more often than you think, we need it for ourselves too. It’s amazing how we start out with this drunk euphoria when we begin a new project. The OOOH’s and AAAH’s of our family and friends. “I can’t believe your writing a book! That’s amazing! This story is fantastic!” How quickly in diminishes once we’ve been at it for a while. The cheerleading that we once were given fades away, and we realize that we need something else to carry us through. Emotions are fleeting. It sound cliché, but still true.

It’s amazing how each one of us have this internal time clock that makes us feel like we need to go faster in our writing. We focus so much on reaching that end mark of success, that we let the joy of writing slip past us. We forget, making it become just another check mark on our list. Just another task we finished for the day. Don’t let it be that!!

I never understood the importance of the question, “Why do you write?” At least not, until recently. What’s the significance of it? I’ll tell you. We need to know and understand what our driving force is to write. This is the key that will deepen ourselves and our writing into breaking free of that dark time of fear and procrastination. We must hold on tight to those reasons of why we write in the first place.


Alice Hoffman “I wrote to find beauty and purpose, to know that love is possible and lasting and real, to see day lilies and swimming pools, loyalty and devotion, even though my eyes were closed and all that surrounded me was a darkened room. I wrote because that was who I was at the core, and if I was too damaged to walk around the block, I was lucky all the same. Once I got to my desk, once I started writing, I still believed anything was possible.” (August 2000)


I write this blog now, in hopes that it will help other writers know that they aren’t alone. If you’re not a writer, you can’t understand the mental battle that takes place every day in a writer’s mind. The fears, the hunger, the courage, and determination that each of us must possess to finish our work.

What separates us from the people who only desire to be a writer isn’t our work or its completion, that it’s published, or that we were asked to be a speaker at a writing conference. Our choice and what we do with it is what divides us. The choice to give in to those dark lies, or the choice to believe that we were created to write something no one else could. No other can write the same words we put on the page. It’s our own distinct and unique fingerprint on the world, whether it get’s published, or simply, that you take a stack of papers from a desk drawer one day and give them to your grandkids to read and cherish. Either way, it’s yours, and yours alone.


I found this great blog article that talks about the daily routines of 12 famous authors. http://jamesclear.com/daily-routines-writers  It’s pretty amazing to see the differences in what each of them do, and how they find their own success in writing.

Last but not least, I leave you with a few quotes that I hope will encourage you in your writing journey.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” Frank Herbert

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” Dale Carnegie

“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.” Japanese Proverb

We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out. ” Ray Bradbury

 

Happy Writing Ya’ll!

 

 

 

 

 

Signs that you just might be…a writer

Do you ever wonder if you were truly meant to be a writer? Deep down you sense that it might just be so. But then doubt creeps in, and you just aren’t sure. You look at your writing. You realize that you aren’t where you want to be. Maybe you just aren’t good enough?

A great writer would be further along by now, right?

Wrong.

If you’re reading this, chances are you were meant to be a writer. You were meant to help change the world and impact people’s lives through your words.

Here are 8 signs that you were meant to be a word wizard:

1. Secret Dreams

You secretly dream about writing. And if you already write, you dream about doing something bigger, like writing a novel, or scoring that big freelancing client. You dream about more, bigger, better. Deep inside you know you can do it, but that pesky little voice stops you.

2. Doubt

Yes, doubt is a sign that you were meant to be a writer. If you didn’t have anything to say, you wouldn’t even think about writing, but you do have something to say, and you know it. But doubt stops you. However, doubt is just a thought popping up. It doesn’t feel great, but you can say hi, and keep taking tiny steps forward.

Why keep moving forward?

Because you were meant to be a writer.

3. Excuses

Your excuse for not hanging out with your friends is, “I have to write”. You aren’t interested in what non-writers are interested in. They live a different life. They sometimes seem like a different species. Embrace this. Don’t give into peer pressure.

If you’re a new writer, you won’t be sure what to do with yourself, but trust your inner calling. Trust your heart. It knows what you need.

If you have to write, you have to write.

4. Inspiration

Inspiration only comes to those who can use it. If you’re a writer, you get inspired, but you also have to take advantage of that inspiration. If you are inspired to write a novel, then start today. Don’t wait for perfection.

Let it be messy. Let it be chaotic. Let your thoughts go crazy and your body shiver with fear.

But start…right now.

5. Perfectionism

When you truly care about something, you want it to be perfect. I care about my writing. I want to help people. I want to help you when you read these very words. And for that reason, I want it to be perfect, because in my head, I believe perfection equals value to you, but that isn’t always true. Good enough can have a huge impact on someone’s life. Perfection is just an idea in my head. It has nothing to do with reality. Wanting your writing to be perfect is a sign that you care, and that’s good, because it means you will put out exceptional work, even when you feel like it’s crap.

But you have to get your writing out there.

6. Admiration

You secretly admire great writers. You want to talk about the elegant ways they craft their prose, but you often don’t have anyone to talk to, because your friends or family may not care about writing as much as you do. This alone shows you how much attention you pay to words. It shows you that you were meant to be a writer. All you have to do is muster the courage to write and step up your game.

You’re ready, even if you don’t feel it. Step up to it and enjoy.

7. Lacking

When you don’t write, you feel like something is missing. You need to write. You need to express yourself through prose. You know you can make a difference, but you’re not sure. We all have doubts. They’re normal, but they don’t have to stop you. Just keep moving forward. Keep putting words out there and let the universe take care of the rest. The fruits of your labor are none of your business. All you can do is your best, so start putting your stuff out there, even if it freaks you out.

8. Yearning

Deep down, you feel this yearning to write. It’s like someone is pulling a string that’s attached to your heart. The string is pulling you toward greatness, but you are resisting. You’re afraid. You’re worried. You’re not sure what people will think. Let that yearning take you to where you need to go. Forget about what everyone else is doing and follow your calling. Embrace your uniqueness, your quirkiness and your style. Results may not come instantly, but all is well when you follow your heart. Listen to that yearning.

Let the string take you on the adventure of your life.

If You’ve Read This Far …

You were meant to be a writer. I’ve been writing ever since I can remember. I’ve scribbled down crazy stories about animals when I was just in elementary school. Even as I grew older, a pen in my hand and a blank page, made my soul stir in incomprehensible ways.

Here I am, even now, spouting out what’s inside of me in this very blog, at this very moment. I just keep following my excitement, letting the doubts fall down around me. I write about what makes my heart sing. And you should do the same, because what excites you is your internal GPS telling you that you need to pay attention to that. I have uncertainty, fears and worries, like everyone else. But I know I was meant to do this, because doing anything else is torture.

So if you’ve read this far, you were meant to be a writer.

All you have to do is embrace it, because deep down you know you want to.

Happy Writing Ya’ll

The Worst Ways to Begin Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents

I always want to have a diversity of information for my blog readers. It’s important to know that everyone is not in the same stage of their writing adventure. It’s always good to keep reading and continue learning how the writing/publishing industry evolves. Some things stay the same for 25 years and other things change over night. Study to be an expert. Study so that you can help other fellow writers. Study so that your writing is always improving. The day you believe your writing is perfect and can never be better is the day you’ve sold your soul to the devil. Don’t do it. Be humble and keep an open mind.

So here’s another article I found while I was doing my own strain my brain research. Chuck Sambuchino writes about the worst ways to start your novel. The advice comes from several literary agents. Who better to give instruction on this, than the very people who see hundreds upon thousands of queries and submissions monthly? So, I hope you enjoy!

And just FYI, Chuck Sambuchino is a super nice guy! Met him at the WD Conference and he is a wealth of knowledge! Shout out Chuck!

The Worst Ways to Begin Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents

No one reads more prospective novel beginnings than literary agents.

They’re the ones on the front lines, sifting through inboxes and slush piles. And they can tell us which Chapter One approaches are overused and cliché, as well as which writing techniques just plain don’t work when you’re writing a book.

Below, find a smattering of feedback from experienced literary agents on what they hate to see in the first pages of a writer’s submission. Consider it a guide on how to start a novel. Avoid these problems and tighten your submission!

False beginnings

“I don’t like it when the main character dies at the end of Chapter One. Why did I just spend all this time with this character? I feel cheated.”
Cricket Freeman, The August Agency

“I dislike opening scenes that you think are real, then the protagonist wakes up. It makes me feel cheated.”
Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary

In science fiction

“A sci-fi novel that spends the first two pages describing the strange landscape.”
Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary

Prologues

“I’m not a fan of prologues, preferring to find myself in the midst of a moving plot on page one rather than being kept outside of it, or eased into it.”
Michelle Andelman, Regal Literary

“Most agents hate prologues. Just make the first chapter relevant and well written.”
Andrea Brown, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

“Prologues are usually a lazy way to give back-story chunks to the reader and can be handled with more finesse throughout the story. Damn the prologue, full speed ahead!”
Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary

Exposition and description

“Perhaps my biggest pet peeve with an opening chapter is when an author features too much exposition – when they go beyond what is necessary for simply ‘setting the scene.’ I want to feel as if I’m in the hands of a master storyteller, and starting a story with long, flowery, overly-descriptive sentences (kind of like this one) makes the writer seem amateurish and the story contrived. Of course, an equally jarring beginning can be nearly as off-putting, and I hesitate to read on if I’m feeling disoriented by the fifth page. I enjoy when writers can find a good balance between exposition and mystery. Too much accounting always ruins the mystery of a novel, and the unknown is what propels us to read further.”
Peter Miller, PMA Literary and Film Management

“The [adjective] [adjective] sun rose in the [adjective] [adjective] sky, shedding its [adjective] light across the [adjective] [adjective] [adjective] land.”
Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary

“I dislike endless ‘laundry list’ character descriptions. For example: ‘She had eyes the color of a summer sky and long blonde hair that fell in ringlets past her shoulders. Her petite nose was the perfect size for her heart-shaped face. Her azure dress — with the empire waist and long, tight sleeves — sported tiny pearl buttons down the bodice. Ivory lace peeked out of the hem in front, blah, blah.’ Who cares! Work it into the story.”
Laurie McLean, Foreword Literary

Starting too slowly

“Characters that are moving around doing little things, but essentially nothing. Washing dishes & thinking, staring out the window & thinking, tying shoes, thinking.”
Dan Lazar, Writers House

“I don’t really like ‘first day of school’ beginnings, ‘from the beginning of time,’ or ‘once upon a time.’ Specifically, I dislike a Chapter One in which nothing happens.”
Jessica Regel, Foundry Literary + Media

In crime fiction

“Someone squinting into the sunlight with a hangover in a crime novel. Good grief — been done a million times.”
Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary

In fantasy

“Cliché openings in fantasy can include an opening scene set in a battle (and my peeve is that I don’t know any of the characters yet so why should I care about this battle) or with a pastoral scene where the protagonist is gathering herbs (I didn’t realize how common this is).”
Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary

Voice

“I know this may sound obvious, but too much ‘telling’ vs. ‘showing’ in the first chapter is a definite warning sign for me. The first chapter should present a compelling scene, not a road map for the rest of the book. The goal is to make the reader curious about your characters, fill their heads with questions that must be answered, not fill them in on exactly where, when, who and how.”
Emily Sylvan Kim, Prospect Agency

“I hate reading purple prose – describing something so beautifully that has nothing to do with the actual story.”
Cherry Weiner, Cherry Weiner Literary

“A cheesy hook drives me nuts. They say ‘Open with a hook!’ to grab the reader. That’s true, but there’s a fine line between an intriguing hook and one that’s just silly. An example of a silly hook would be opening with a line of overtly sexual dialogue.”
Daniel Lazar, Writers House

“I don’t like an opening line that’s ‘My name is…,’ introducing the narrator to the reader so blatantly. There are far better ways in Chapter One to establish an instant connection between narrator and reader.”
Michelle Andelman, Regal Literary

“Sometimes a reasonably good writer will create an interesting character and describe him in a compelling way, but then he’ll turn out to be some unimportant bit player.”
Ellen Pepus, Signature Literary Agency

In romance

“In romance, I can’t stand this scenario: A woman is awakened to find a strange man in her bedroom — and then automatically finds him attractive. I’m sorry, but if I awoke to a strange man in my bedroom, I’d be reaching for a weapon — not admiring the view.”
Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary Agency

In a Christian novel

“A rape scene in a Christian novel in the first chapter.”
Chip MacGregor, MacGregor Literary

Characters and backstory

“I don’t like descriptions of the characters where writers make them too perfect. Heroines (and heroes) who are described physically as being virtually unflawed come across as unrelatable and boring. No ‘flowing, wind-swept golden locks’; no ‘eyes as blue as the sky’; no ‘willowy, perfect figures.’ ”
Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency

“Many writers express the character’s backstory before they get to the plot. Good writers will go back and cut that stuff out and get right to the plot. The character’s backstory stays with them — it’s in their DNA.”
Adam Chromy, Movable Type Management

“I’m turned off when a writer feels the need to fill in all the backstory before starting the story; a story that opens on the protagonist’s mental reflection of their situation is a red flag.”
Stephany Evans, FinePrint Literary Management

“One of the biggest problems is the ‘information dump’ in the first few pages, where the author is trying to tell us everything we supposedly need to know to understand the story. Getting to know characters in a story is like getting to know people in real life. You find out their personality and details of their life over time.”
Rachelle Gardner, Books & Such Literary

 

Pretty good advice and opinions if you ask me. Hope this helps everyone no matter where you’re at in your journey! I would love to hear any comments and advice that might be something you do or don’t do before writing your novel. Thanks for reading and thanks for the comments ahead of time!!

As I always say – Happy Writing Ya’ll!!!

 

 

 

The 100 Best Websites for Writers in 2015! Part 2

website 2

Sadly, I had to take this blog post down. I received an email from the editor of The Write Life asking for me to remove this list from my blog. If you are still interested in this list, please check out their website: http://thewritelife.com/100-best-websites-for-writers-2015/#.crfkog:PJ3M

Happy Website Hunting Ya’ll!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100 Best Websites for Writers in 2015! Part 1

website 1

Sadly, I had to take this blog post down. I received an email from the editor of The Write Life asking for me to remove this list from my blog. If you are still interested in this list, please check out their website: http://thewritelife.com/100-best-websites-for-writers-2015/#.crfkog:PJ3M

Happy Website Hunting Ya’ll!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let the Good Times Roll!!

I’mmmmm back!! Did everyone miss me?!? So yes, to everyone’s question. I took a little break from writing, if that’s what you call it. Funny thing is, when you’re a true writer, I find that even if you’re not holding a pen in your hand or tapping away at a keyboard, your writing still follows you.

Wherever you go it’s still right there in the back of your mind. At your job, the supermarket, the movie theatre, etc. It says, “I’m a part of you. The part that weaves itself within your heart, grows like a tree in your mind. I’m here. I’m ready when you are.”

So, here I am and here I will stay.

It’s easy for a writer to get distracted and even more easy for them to second guess themselves. The process is so long and tedious at moments. You have plenty of time to second guess if you can actually do it. Are you worthy of it? It’s an overwhelming place to be but not an impossible place.

Stay focused, stay steadfast. Let the story inside of you grow and produce fruit. God gave you a gift to share stories that only you can be the author of. Embrace it with no fear!

Tomorrow’s blog will be quite special to me. A deep thank you to my editor, Katelyn Stark of Stark Contrast Editing, who is beyond AMAZING. Because of her, I will be able to introduce my edited 1st complete chapter of my manuscript, Guarded Light, to the world!

Stay tuned…and Let the Good Times Roll!

Happy Writing & Editing!

P.S.Here’s Katelyn’s website if anyone needs a fabulous editor!!

http://starkcontrastediting.com/

Quick Little Info!

I know…I know…its been weeks since I’ve blogged! Crazy life stuff has been keeping me busy as I’m sure everyone has experienced one time or another. Anyway, sadly I won’t be able to attend any of these this year, but I wanted to share a list of upcoming writing conferences in case anyone else might be able to attend. Good luck and happy writing ya’ll!

Agent-Conference Opportunities There are plenty of opportunities for writers to meet agents face to face at writers’ conferences and pitch their work in 2015. Remember: Meeting agents in person is a great way to get past the slush pile. If an agent is interested in your work and requests a sample or book proposal, you can write “Requested Material” on your submission, making sure it gets a fair read and consideration. Know that there are two types of conferences. There are general writers’ conferences, that address a variety of subjects, and then there are specialized conferences, which usually tend to focus on a single genre-such as western, romance, or mystery. You will find both kinds in this list below.

Carolina Writing Conferences, Columbia, SC (April 17) and Charlotte, NC (April 18) Attending agents: Sam Morgan (Jabberwocky Literary); Melissa Jeglinski (The Knight Agency); Diana Flegal (Hartline Literary); Cherry Weiner (Cherry Weiner Literary); and Robin Mizell (Robin Mizell Literary Representation).

Las Vegas Writers Conference, April 23-25, 2015, Las Vegas, NV Attending agents: Pam van Hylckama Vlieg (D4EO Literary); Paul Lucas (Janklow & Nesbit); and Caitlan Rubino Bradway (LKG Agency).

Northeast Texas Writers Conference, April 24-25, 2015, Mt. Pleasant, TX Attending agents: Cherry Weiner (Cherry Weiner Literary).

Milwaukee Writing Conference, May 15, 2015, Milwaukee, WI Attending agents: Jennie Goloboy (Red Sofa Literary); Laura Crockett (Triada US Literary); Abby Saul (Browne & Miller Literary); Elizabeth Evans (Jean V. Naggar Literary); Jodell Sadler (Sadler Children’s Literary); and Dawn Frederick (Red Sofa Literary).

Chicago Writing Workshop, May 16, 2015, Chicago, IL Attending agents: Marcy Posner (Folio Literary); Jen Karsbaek (Fuse Literary); Jennifer Mattson (Andrea Brown Literary); Tina Schwartz (The Purcell Agency); Dan Balow (Steve Laube Literary); Jodell Sadler (The Sadler Agency); and Laura Crockett (Triada US Literary).

Pennwriters Conference, May 15-17, 2015, Pittsburgh, PA Attending agents: Danielle Chiotti (Upstart Crow Literary); Uwe Stender (TriadaUS Literary); and June Clark (FinePrint Literary).

Books-in-Progress Writers Conference, June 5-6, 2015, Lexington, KY Attending agents: Adriann Ranta (Wolf Literary); and Melissa Flashman (Trident Media).

SoCal Mystery Writers of America Conference, June 6-7, 2015, Culver City, CA Attending agents: Joshua Bilmes (JABberwocky Literary); Jessica Faust (BookEnds Literary); and Kimberley Cameron (Kimberley Cameron Literary).

Jackson Hole Writers Conference, June 25-27, 2015, Jackson Hole, WY Attending agents: Sarah Levitt (Zoë Pagnamenta Agency); Elizabeth Winick Rubinstein (McIntosh & Otis); Katherine Fausset (Curtis Brown, Ltd); and Ken Sherman (Ken Sherman Associates).

Writer’s Digest Conference East, July 31 – Aug. 2, 2015, New York, NY The website is live, and we have 47 agents already confirmed to be there. The conference’s Pitch Slam features more than 50 literary agents to pitch.