Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Writer's Fear

A few weeks ago, I watched a live Adele concertThe lucky people who filled the venue were an enthusiastic audience. There were cheers, applause, and the occasional sing-a-long when she sang a favorite.

I’m a fan so I enjoyed it immensely, but I couldn’t help but be struck by her vulnerability. She stood on the stage and poured herself into each song, even though she wasn’t sure of the response she would get. At one point, she wiped tears from her eyes and told the crowd how nervous she was and how afraid she’d been that they wouldn’t like her new songs.

As I watched, I kept thinking, “She’s Adele for crying out loud! What does she have to be afraid of? How does she not know that people are going to love it?”

When it was over the cameras followed her off the stage, all the way to a waiting elevator where she threw herself into the arms of her boyfriend . . . and sobbed.

It’s an image I’ve been unable to shake.

Even if you aren’t a fan of her music, it’s impossible to deny Adele’s success. Her voice is instantly recognizable. Her songs debut at number one on the charts and stay there for weeks. Even in this digital age, her albums have shattered sales records.

If Adele is still worried about how her music will be received, what does that say for those of us putting our art into the world for the first, second, or third time?

I'm guest posting today over at The Write Conversation. Pop on over there to read the rest of this story. 

And check back next week. I've got some new and (hopefully) fun posts planned for February. :) 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Read More from Harlequin

You should be reading more books published by Harlequin.

Really.

As I mentioned in my post a few months ago (this one - I Write For Harlequin - you should definitely read it!), the term “Harlequin” has a tendency to raise some eyebrows. Some people assume that if the book has the Harlequin logo on the cover, it’s one of *those* books. 

Many of the women (and men) I know who enjoy a nice Christian romance wouldn’t think of picking up a Harlequin. If that describes you, or if it’s just been a long time since you gave one a shot, let me clear up a few things.

1. They aren’t all like *that* - Yes, some of the lines are, but if you look for the Love Inspired (LI) logo, you won’t find anything in there to make you blush.

2. They are inexpensive - Have you gone shopping for books lately? Paperbacks aren’t cheap. But you can pick up a Love Inspired book at Wal-mart for less than $5. 

3. They are short - If you aren’t a fast reader or don’t think reading is your “thing,” these paperbacks aren’t intimidating. If you do prefer a nice long read, I’m with you, but I don’t always have time for that kind of reading. Sometimes, I need a story that can draw me in but that I can finish in just a few hours so I don’t get so busy reading I forget to deal with real life. (This has more to do with my poor self-control than anything else - you may not have this problem). 



4. They are small - I know I already said they are short, but they are also a smaller size. They’ll fit in your purse, backpack, diaper bag, or that little pocket on the side of your door…ready for your next wait in car line or piano lessons. They are also light enough for you to hold in one hand while you feed a baby, or stir a pot of chili. Yes, I know that in a perfect world you would spend each second that you are feeing your baby staring into their eyes and babbling at them. In the real world, sometimes that fifteen minutes is the only time you get to sit down. I’ve had three kids. I know. I read a lot of books during nursing sessions. They helped me stay sane!

5. They are shareable - You can let your tween read them. Really. While some of the Harlequin lines are, shall we say, spicy? The Love Inspired lines focus on the emotional attraction - not the physical. Yes, there will be kissing (yeah for kissing!), but the physical demonstrations of affection are not the focus of these books. 

6. There’s plenty of variety - I write for Love Inspired Suspense (LIS). My line has the hero and heroine in danger from the first page, and they stay that way (while falling in love) until the end. There’s also Love Inspired Historical (LIH) for all of you (myself included) who occasionally think you would have made an awesome pioneer. And if you love a sweet romance that doesn’t involve bullets and bloodshed, the Love Inspired line is for you. Contemporary characters dealing with real life issues and finding love along the way.

7. There are a LOT to choose from - LIS and LI release 6 new books every single month. That’s 72 books a year. LIH releases 4 a month - 48 a year.

8. They are really good - Ok, I’m biased. I’ll admit it. But it takes skill to develop an interesting story and relatable characters, keep them alive (in LIS) and have them fall in love in 60,000 words. It can be done and it means that the when you pick up one of these books, you won’t find yourself skimming through a bunch of fluff. I’m not anti-fluff, but when time is limited, I’ll pass on the fluff, thank you very much.

9. They stand alone - I personally love a good series, but I have a bad habit of getting sucked in and needing to read EVERY.SINGLE.BOOK in the series. NOW. So it’s nice to read books that don’t trigger that reaction in me.

10. They have some awesome series to choose from - I know I just said they stand alone, and they do. But there are two different types of series with LI. One is similar to what I’m working on now. The secondary characters from the first book get a starring role in the next. You can read any of the books without having read the previous books, but if you fall in love with certain characters (Heidi and Blake, cough, cough) it’s fun to check in with them again later. 
The other type of series is a Continuity Series. They are similar to the other series, with secondary characters becoming the main characters. But in a continuity series, each book is written by a different author. So awesome!

Okay - have I convinced you yet? 

If not, here’s one more bonus reason. Right now - November 10th -November 17th - 10,000 Harlequin titles are on sale. You can purchase the ebook version for $1.99. This is a HUGE deal!  

You have very little to lose and lots of great reads to gain.


Sadly, my book, Covert Justice, is NOT on sale. *Sob* 

But you can find a bunch of books from my friend and mentor, Lynette Eason. Her Family Reunion’s series would be a fun place to start. Each one is $1.99 this week only! 

And there are literally 1000s of others to choose from. So many awesome authors that I can't begin to list them all!

I’d love to hear about your experience with Harlequin. Are you a regular reader? Has it been years since you picked one up? Do you have a favorite LIS, LIH, or LI author? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Strengthen Your Writing Muscles with NaNoWriMo

I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year.

There are a million reasons not to, but I’m doing it anyway.

Are you familiar with NaNoWriMo? NaNo, as it’s often abbreviated, stands for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a new, 50,000 word novel in thirty days. 

That’s 1,667 words every day for thirty days.

I’ve done it before. I’ve “won” NaNo twice. (I’ve written about it here and here).

But that was years ago. This year? Well, it’s not really a good year.

Here are a few of my reasons for NOT doing NaNo. Maybe you can relate?
  • It’s November. No one should attempt anything crazy in November or December. Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away and we will be hosting my husband’s side of the family for the big day. Not only that, but there are only eight Fridays until Christmas (go ahead and start hyperventilation now).

I'm guest posting today over at The Write Conversation. Come on over to read this rest of the story!

    Thursday, October 1, 2015

    On Your Left

    A few weeks ago, my family and I rode the Virginia Creeper Trail. Built on an old railroad bed, the Virginia Creeper Trail offers a unique biking experience.

    17 miles.

    Downhill.

    Really.

    It’s an amazing ride. The scenery is stunning and the trail is open to cyclists of all experience levels. As you head down the mountain, you see professionals wearing their padded bike shorts, wild little boys on their 20” bikes peddling as fast as their legs can go, infants snoozing in their bike seats, and parents cruising along with their toddler behind them on a tagalong.

    For the most part, the cyclists are respectful of the trail and their fellow cyclists. There’s a real sense of camaraderie. After all, we’re all on the same trail, headed in the same direction. We all want to achieve the same thing—to get to the bottom safely and have a great time doing it.

    With such a variety of skill levels, it would be boring if you had to start down the trail and ride in single file. Fortunately, that’s not how it works. There may be a bit of bunching up at the top, but before long everyone finds their own rhythm. The faster riders start calling out the standard warning, “On your left!” as they pass the riders taking the trail at a more leisurely pace.

    Monday, September 14, 2015

    Already There

    Despite the fact that he has never been left and has absolutely no reason to expect me to forget him, one of my children needs constant reassurance that I’m not going to leave him alone.

    This summer, I arrived early to pick him up from Vacation Bible School. I took a seat at the side of the room and waited for the session to end. When it did, I moved in his direction. I knew exactly where he was, but the people milling about blocked his view and he couldn’t see me.

    I saw him a few seconds before he realized I was there. I wrapped my arms around him just as his face crumpled. I caught him the instant before he let out a wail. He held onto me, his body trembling.

    “Where were you?” His tearful voice accused me.
    “Baby, I was already here. You couldn’t see me, but I’ve been watching you. I knew exactly where you were the whole time.”
    “But I couldn’t see you.”
    “Just because you couldn’t see me, doesn’t mean I wasn’t already here.”

    Maybe it was because I was standing in a church (I’m kidding), but the Holy Spirit didn’t even let me get the sentence out before He pointed out the obvious.

    I DO THE SAME THING.


    The Bible is filled with verses exhorting me NOT TO FEAR. Over and over again, He tells me that He will be with me. That He will never leave me. That no matter who betrays me, no matter who bails on me, no matter who breaks me heart, He will be there.

    Not only that, but the Bible tells me that BEFORE I walk into that doctor’s office, or pick up the phone, or open the mail . . . No matter what is on the other side of that door, there is one thing I can know for sure I will find.
    Him.

    Already there.

    No matter what my day holds, He is never surprised.

    I am.
    I get caught flat-footed all the time.
    I get the wind knocked out of me at least once a week.
    I get overwhelmed just thinking about my calendar.
    And even though He’s told me 1000 times that He will never leave me or forsake me, when I don’t see Him right away, I panic.

    As I held my little boy close, and whispered assurances to him—again—I had a glimpse into my Father’s heart.
    I wasn’t angry with my son for his fear. All I wanted was for him to trust me. To be so sure of me, that he wouldn’t doubt for a second that I had kept my word and was waiting for him.

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot ever since.

    Separation from God was never part of His plan and my guess is that He knows we will fight this fear until the day He returns and call us Home. I think that’s why He didn’t say, “Don’t be scared,” once and leave it at that. I don’t think He’s surprised when He’s standing right beside me, even as I’m wailing for Him to show up, and He has to tap me on the shoulder to get my attention.

    Today...know this...
    Whatever you’re afraid of?
    He’s already there.


    Whatever is keeping you up at night?
    He’s already there.

    Whatever has your heart racing, your palms sweating, your tears streaming, your stomach churning?
    HE. IS. ALREADY. THERE.

    If you’re in a pit and you’ve been wondering when He was going to show up, the answer is that He was there BEFORE you got there. He’s with you now and He’s been there the whole time.
    Go ahead.
    Look around.
    And even if you can't see Him, reach for His hand . . . He is already there.

    Deuteronomy 31:8 - It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. (ESV)

    Thursday, September 3, 2015

    Perfection and Vulnerability, A Tough Combination for Writers


    There are a few things I know about myself. I don’t like them, but I know they are true.

    I’m a perfectionist and I don’t like feeling vulnerable.

    But I kept hearing about this author and researcher, Dr. BrenĂ© Brown, who has a couple of insanely popular TED talks where she discusses her research. 

    Guess what she researches?

    Vulnerability, shame, and she throws in some really nice stuff about perfectionism in there as well.

    The TED talks left me wanting to delve deeper into the ideas she presented so I requested her books at my local library. Daring Greatly came in first, so it’s the first one I read, followed by The Gifts of Imperfection.

    I'm over at The Write Conversation today. Come on by to read the rest of this post. 

    Thursday, August 6, 2015

    Thursday Review - The One Thing

    I’m a task-oriented person. It’s how I’m wired.

    You’d think with that kind of wiring, I’d be churning out books by the dozens.

    Not so much.

    In fact, I’ve been struggling to figure out how to get this whole writing thing squeezed into my day.

    I’m a wife, a mom of three, and a published author. And that is how I want my priorities to stay…husband, kids, then books.

    Not the other way around.

    But…this book business? The storytelling and swooning. It’s not just for kicks and giggles. It’s certainly not for the money.

    When life crowds out the creating, my calling goes unfulfilled and my spirit shrivels under the tyranny of the urgent. I do the laundry and cook. I read and clean (not much, but still…) and pay bills.

    But when I don’t write, I’m not right.

    I’m not fully living as the person God intends for me to be.

    But how am I supposed to rightly order my world and priorities (God, family, then fiction) and still get it all done?

    I don’t have a perfect answer, but I’m a lot closer to it than I was a few months ago.

    I'm guest blogging over at The Write Conversation today. Pop over there to read the rest of the story.