Thursday, August 31, 2006

Who Says Writing is Easy?

Yesterday I reached a milestone I've been trying to reach for a couple weeks. (Remember the previous post about distractions?) I finally finished round one of my Murder for Breakfast revision. Now for Step #2. Going through it again using a program called Natural Reader and have it read back to me with a woman's voice. It's amazing what you can catch that way.

Then I'll be done and I can move on to my other project you say? NOT! Then I print it out and read through it again noting if my character arcs are clear, do I have enough of the five senses included, have I missed inserting details here and there that move the plot along, etc. etc. This I'll do while on a five-hour drive Saturday. Don't worry. I won't be driving LOL. But my friend will be subject to a new version of books on tape. If he falls asleep then we'll both be in trouble. Hopefully, he''ll keep saying "Don't stop. I need to know what happens next!" Ahhhh. Music to a writer's ears.

My point this morning is that writing is hard work. Very hard work. There are times I'd like to just close the file on my computer and let these people figure out the mystery by the themselves, and then there are other times I can't wait to get to the story and find out what happens next.

I don't have the luxury of giving the story a rest right now. The ACFW conference gathers three weeks from today and I have to have this ready to pitch to editors and agents along with my other story. Hey, I just came up with a new working title for that novel. "Shiloh Legacy" I like it. It's a story about.... Well, you'll just have to wait and see. Right now I have work to do.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Distractions--What's a Writer to Do?

Distractions are aplenty. Right now as I write, men are outside my window trimming the hedge just below my balcony. Motors revving, slashing away wayward branches. Noise pollution at its finest. What's a writer to do?

I've always been easily distracted by outside noise. Guess that comes from being alone so much. I never had to learn to tune out noisy kids. But could even the mom of half a dozen boisterous youngsters tune out a machine that sounds like a rocket? Do those men wear ear plugs? If they don't, they'll be needing a sign language interpreter soon.

But my distractions aren't always noise when it comes to being pulled away from my writing. The phone rings. It's a friend needing to talk over something burdening her heart. Or my mind wanders to something I'm curious about and the next thing I know, I'm Googling for information. Or new email comes in. Now that's a biggie. I have a feature in my Outlook that causes a mini view of the email to show up for a second in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. That's something I thought would be great. If it was something that could wait, I could keep on writing. But, alas, more emails draw me in than don't. Working at home can also be a distraction. My eyes sweep the room and I see dust on the coffee table, a book left out that needs putting away, dirty windows needing cleaning, etc. A dirty window is probably the one thing that doesn't get me out of my chair. :-)

What keeps me on task with all these distractions? The goals I set for myself. Currently, I have the ACFW conference looming. I need to have MFB ready for pitching, as well as a roughed up synopsis of my women's fiction which is still in mothballs. Not to mention there are responsibilities as an ACFW board member that need to be accomplished. In fact I just thought of one that's due today. The motors have stopped and I have no more excuses--at least not until the phone rings!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Divine Appointments in This Writing Biz

What happens when you sense a call on your life from God, you pursue it with all your heart, then for months on end see no fruit for your labors? You pray for diligence. You ask God did I hear you right? Do you want me doing this? Then God answers in amazing ways.

Last spring some of the ACFW members who live in my area got together at a local Panera Bread to talk about our writing and just jabber a bit over coffee. It was there I finally met face to face a new writing friend, Julie Dearyon. Julie is pursuing her first fiction contract, but she is also editor of a magazine called Victory in Grace, published by Quentin Road Bible Baptist Church. That day I mentioned to her I had written an article about the things I'd learned during my best friend's cancer illness and subsequent death. After I gave her a short synopsis of the article, she said to send it to her. Was that a Divine appointment or what?

Long story short, my article, "How I Overcame Grief," is included in the September edition of Victory in Grace!

Last week I received five author copies of the magazine. As soon as I opened to my article I couldn't hold back the tears. Not so much for seeing my work in print (although there's nothing like it), but because my friend, Mary Ann, meant so much to me. If she were here I know without a doubt she'd be praising God full tilt for being used by Him to give me a story to write for Him. Maybe she does know, and amongst the praises she's singing in the presence of the King are praises for how He used even her death to bring glory to Him through my writing. (Whew, was that a long sentence!)
Mary Ann (on right) and me back in the day when my hair was longer and straighter!

I don't know who my article might help when they read it, but I'm praying God gets it into the hands of whomever needs an encouraging word as they deal with similar circumstances.

If you're interested in reading the article, it should be up at the magazine's website within the next few days. I'll post here when it's up and give you the link. Now it's back to work on Murder For Breakfast. Who knows what God has in store for it!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

An "I Love Lucy" Kind of Day

I missed a week of blogging last week while I kept to the grindstone on my WIP Monday through Wednesday then spent Thursday and Friday preparing for and having a routine medical test that required a short visit to La La Land. That "twilight" stuff is okay.

This week I'm back on track and have been working hard at getting the new and improved version of Murder for Breakfast ready for the ACFW conference next month. That's where I hope to pitch it to editors and agents. I also want to resurrect my women's fiction called Place of Peace and make some changes in the format and plot. That story is truly the "book of my heart," and it won't let me push it aside.

Today started out peaceably enough. I spent time in prayer then took a mile walk where I continued in a prayerful attitude. Perfect way to transition into writing upon my return. Which I did, sitting on my balcony, laptop on my lap, birds singing, sun shining. Came inside to work when the glare was too much to see the screen. Got going on the next chapter then decided to take a short break. That's when my serene day became an I Love Lucy episode.

I love natural peanut butter. Not only is is good for you, it tastes better than the other stuff! The part I don't like about it is that when you open a new jar it needs to be stirred. I started as I always do with a wooden spoon. Then I had the bright idea of using my electric hand mixer. A word to the wise: Never, never, never mix a jar of warm natural peanut butter with an electric mixer!!! The gooey stuff was everywhere: the counter, the walls, the toaster oven, the spice holder, a bowl of fruit. So much for sticking (no pun intended) to my story for the day. Two hours later the mess is cleaned up and I smell like....What else? Wonder if I could sell the new scent.

Moral of the story. Be flexible, don't lose your cool even when the unexpected happens, and be ready for anything. You never know what the day will bring. Besides, you can always use whatever happens in your story.

Oh. And I still love my Smuckers!