I knew that C.S. Lewis and I had more in common than our Christianity when he said, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." Welcome to a celebration of faith, tea, and the written word. I'm always engaged in a book, and whether it's one I'm reading or one of the inspirational romances I write, there's always a cup of tea close by. Join me in a cup as we chat about faith, our favorite books and the exciting places our reading and writing adventures take us.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Take Control of Your Writing

When writing fiction, sometimes it seems the author has little to no control: before we're published, it can be a challenge to get noticed, or receive the contest scores we think we might deserve.

Once we're published, a whole new host of issues crops up. We may feel stuck or pressured to write a better book than the last one. We can receive bad reviews. Or our books might not be priced well or carried in major chain stores (or not make it to the shelves on release day). Also, the market can  change so rapidly, an author can struggle to keep up. 

Wherever you are in your writing journey, there can be a sense of helplessness about writing, but the truth is, we do have considerable control . The key is to focus on what you can control.

  • Finishing manuscripts. Some authors work on a single novel for years, striving to get it to the place where it's publishable. While polishing and editing are valuable and admirable, I suggest that we keep trying new things. Editors will sometimes contract books that aren't perfect, knowing they can help shape the story. With each new book, we hone our skills. Which takes me to the next point:
  • Growing and Learning! Attend conferences and workshops. Read books, articles, and blog posts on the craft.  Follow agents, editors, and writing groups on Social Media. Yes, the market does change, sometimes rapidly, so determine how to keep abreast of new preferences. Joining a national chapter can be an invaluable resource in these areas.
  • Choosing Your Why. You alone can answer this question. Why are you writing? What is it you need to say, and how is God calling you to use this gift? How do you see success differing in God's eyes, compared to the world's eyes? When you answer that question, you have a purpose for your goal of writing, and it can help you stay on track.
  • Stop Worrying About Everyone Else! By this, I don't mean to ignore other authors' work--not at all! But stop comparing yourself to others who are more or less successful than you are. You are on your own journey. They are on theirs. Focus on You, Your Writing, Your Why.
  • Reading! Read the genre you want to publish. Read outside of your genre. Reading molds our writing. Keep at it!
These won't guarantee success, of course, but they can help us take control of our journeys and feel as if we do indeed have power. 

And those things over which we have no or little control? One last thing:

  • Talk to your agent or a mentor (don't have a mentor? Try a writing conference and ask someone experienced to share some insight!). Rely on others for advice and support. 
But some things, alas, are totally out of the author's control. Learn from each situation as best you can, handle it with integrity, and let it go...into the Lord's hands.

What other suggestions would you add to the list?

Monday, August 6, 2018

Shaking Things Up!

This has been a season of "shake-ups" in my life, in several ways!

  • In my house, I'm working hard to purge all of the stuff that's accumulated over the years. We've been in our house for a full decade now, longer than anywhere we've lived in our marriage. When we moved in, we were in a rush: we moved in on a Thursday and the kids started school Monday, which meant we shoved a lot of things somewhere...anywhere...fast. Ten years later, some of those things haven't seen daylight! But I've also got extra incentive to clean:
  • We need new flooring! Long story I won't bore you with, but the inexpensive original flooring in most of our house is toast. We've decided to bite the bullet and replace it, which means everything will have to come up off the floor at some point. Which means I have a lot of stuff to get rid of before that day arrives!
  • "Streamlining" might be a theme with me. You may have noticed the blog has changed in appearance: new colors and a simpler look. It reflects a few things: a change in my writing as I'm trying new genres, and a shift in me, too. I don't have a new motto, but if I did, it might be to Choose Simplicity. Hopefully the blog is easier to read now and a little more updated.
  • I'll continue to tweak the blog, and I'm also revamping all of my social media branding, including my website! But first, I really need to...
  • Finish a contracted novella. Currently, it's my only contract! For a few years now, there has not been a day where I didn't have a contract to fill. That's all changed. It's been a good time to re-evaluate, think, and try new things.

How about you? What's new in your life? Do you have clutter to deal with in your house or your life? If so, I encourage you as we walk this path together!