Monday, June 17, 2019

Discerning the Voice of God in Writing by Patty Nicholas

Good Monday to you all, my name is Patty Nicholas and I am very excited to join the Seriously Write family of bloggers. In my day job, I work for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as an event planner for the Cove. I've been a guest blogger on the Cove web site. I've written several devotionals that have been picked up in Bible Study compilation projects. I've also written devotionals for my church in some of their projects. My passion in writing is story telling, and I am working on my first novel, as well as a sweet romance novella that will be part of a collection next year.

A couple of months ago my devotional writing cup overflowed. Deadlines fast approached for a blog post at work, as well as two to three submissions for a Bible Study compilation project. Last but not least, my church wanted to put together a resource for women and asked me to write as many articles as possible.

 As a fiction writer, I always pray for God to guide the story He has given me to tell. I love having a time in prayer, and then watch the words flow through the keyboard. I relish my time with my characters and am excited as ideas come to life. I am surprised when the story takes fun and unique turns that I didn’t expect or see coming. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

 As a non-fiction writer, I also seek the Lord before I sit down to a writing session, but I feel a serious obligation when handling God’s word. I don’t want to misinterpret what the Holy Spirit is saying, and I certainly don’t want to relay any incorrect information. If God Himself has not given me the scripture and the specific topic to write on, then nothing will flow, and I am working in my own power. I think every writer out there can agree this is a bad place to be.

 So how does one come up with several topics, on tight deadlines, and not in human strength alone?

How does one come up with several topics, on tight deadlines, and not in human strength? Click to tweet it!

I employ several strategies to keep myself grounded so I can hear from God. These are just a few of them.


  1. Maintain a healthy prayer life. I know this sounds simple, but God loves it when we make the effort to communicate with Him. On days when I have an amazing time of study and worship with the Lord, my words flow. It’s not about me. 
  2. All the opportunities God has provided are to honor Him. When I place my work in His hands, I’m not anxious about deadlines. I know the message is for His glory and not mine and I can relax in the writing. 
  3. Have good accountability. I have been blessed with a critique partner who is a strong woman of God. She doesn’t mince words and keeps me honest.

Multi award winning writer, Patty Nicholas lives in the mountains of North Carolina. She is a busy event planner for the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove, and is a member of the Blue Ridge Writers Group. She is a mother of two grown daughters and grandmother of three. She writes Bible studies and devotionals as well as contemporary romance. 

Devotions are published in compilations by Lighthouse Bible Studies.

https://www.facebook.com/patty.l.nicholas
https://twitter.com/PattyNicholas2



Friday, June 14, 2019

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome by Ralph Nelson Willett

Ralph Nelson Willett
We all feel a little insecure about our writing abilities at one time or another. Right? Who hasn’t almost given in to quitting—if even for a moment? Author Ralph Nelson Willett offers encouragement, as well as tips on how to overcome self-doubt. 
~ Dawn


Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Have you ever felt that your work just wasn’t good enough, or that you didn’t belong in the same room as some of the talented people you see around you? Perhaps you’re an executive, artist or like me, an author, and you feel like you should be in hiding for fear that someone will discover that you are not who or what you say you are. In other words, do you sometimes feel like a fraud or an impostor? This is called “Impostor syndrome” and it may snag many of us during our careers.

Wikipedia defines Impostor Syndrome as “a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts his or her accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’.”

Many very accomplished individuals often feel unworthy. Despite the external evidence of their awards or accolades, they believe that their success is due to luck or some other contributing factor not related to themselves.

The good news is that those individuals who don’t have these feelings are no more intelligent than we are, they just think differently about themselves. How you think about yourself can be changed. Let’s look at what we can do to change our thought process.


  • Take a moment and write down on paper what you were thinking the last time you felt like an impostor. If you wrote something like, “I don’t belong in this job,” then write down why you do belong in that job. Write something like, “I trained for this job,” or “I’m here because I know X, Y, Z.” There are always reasons why you are where you are. Write down what they are.
  • If you’re an author or an artist, make note of what your accomplishments are. For example, just writing a book is an accomplishment. How many people do you know that feel that they have a book inside them just waiting to get out? Almost everyone feels that way. How many of those people have ever sat down to write that book? Very few. Just the fact that you put the time and energy in to write a book puts you in a special category. You can own that.
  • Understand that everyone makes mistakes. Often, when you’re feeling like an impostor, you’re focused on the mistakes you’ve made. Change your view on what mistakes are: they are a stepping stone to perfecting your chosen craft. No one learns anything without making a few mistakes. Understand that any mistakes you may have made are all part of the learning process.
  • As a Christian author, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this for those of you with a similar faith. You are a child of God. (John 1:12) If you believe that, then you understand that no matter what your endeavor, God has gifted you to be able to do it. That’s a pretty powerful thought when you realize you are where you are because you are special in God’s eyes.


Everyone feels inadequate at times. Whether you feel what you’ve created is inadequate or that you’re inadequate for your role, understand that these feelings are normal and can be overcome. Changing how you think about what you do, what you’ve created, or even who you are, can greatly relieve the anxiety you may feel. Accepting that you do belong where you are because you have earned it can be a steppingstone to your next accomplishment.



Follow Ralph Nelson Willett for humor and inspiration tweets. #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @NorthernOvation



The God Whistle
The God Whistle


Mary is a busy young wife and mother whose comfortable life is shattered by one guilty and costly mistake. No one will forgive her for what happened that night and although it changed her life forever, she has no memory of it.

Desperate to save her marriage, she is led into a relationship with God through the help of a mysterious old man. Seeing how her decisions in the past have shaped her life, Mary struggles to know what God wants of her now. If she can find out, will He return her family to her? Will He give her back the life she had before the night her world fell apart?

The God Whistle is a story of faith, love, and forgiveness. With a narrative that is, by turns, emotional, mystical, warm, and dramatic, the story slowly draws the reader into its spiritual themes. It is an emotional ride from beginning to end with surprises that will keep you riveted page after page.



Ralph Nelson Willett is a faith-based fiction author. He grew up in western Michigan and after marrying his High School sweetheart, he and his wife moved too far from the area they loved. When they became empty nesters, they jumped at an opportunity to return to west Michigan. Now he now works from home in technology and writing Christian Fiction books. He swears he would be able to write more books if he wasn’t addicted to telling the best jokes on Twitter.

Connect with Ralph and learn more about his books by visiting these online sites:

www.twitter.com/NorthernOvation
www.facebook.com/RalphNelsonWillett/
www.amazon.com/author/ralphwillett/



Thursday, June 13, 2019

Beauty and the Birdseed By Patti Jo Moore

Our Georgia spring seasons are lovely, and this spring has been no exception. The azaleas in various colors, the lavender Redbud trees, and our Bradford Pear trees are only a few of the beautiful sights to enjoy in the springtime. Even from inside my home, I have a nice view of the nearby blooms, thanks to lots of windows.

My cats also enjoy the windows, but not for the same reason I do. They are entertained by watching the numerous birds and squirrels that visit my deck for their daily feast of sunflower seed. I toss generous amounts of the seed onto the wooden rail on one side of the deck, and my cats sit by the windows to enjoy the view, with twitching tails and the occasional meow. I’m likely in the minority on this, but I love squirrels. Their antics delight not only my cats, but they make me laugh, too.

However, squirrels are messy eaters. A couple of months ago, I glanced out a window and noticed large amounts of chewed sunflower seed the squirrels had knocked off the rail and onto a patch of ground below. It was not a pretty sight. Ugh—I’d probably need to go out and scoop up the remnants before my husband cut the grass again. But since it didn’t seem urgent, I didn’t do it then. In fact, I forgot about it. 😉

In mid-May, I glanced out a window with a view of the ground below my deck, and couldn’t believe it. Two beautiful sunflowers had grown in the middle of the messy area. As I stood looking out at the sunflowers (which happens to be a favorite of mine!), I was struck with the thought of how a few weeks earlier, that patch of ground had been an eyesore, but now was a spot of beauty.

As I continued gazing at the sunflowers, I couldn’t help comparing this to writing. Sometimes we might begin writing a story, but we reach a certain point and stop. We feel our words have reached a dead-end, or what we’d thought was a great story idea just isn’t getting off the ground. We feel that what we’ve written is a mess, and we delete it, or just tuck it away, assuming it will never see the light of day again.

But if we’ll take a break and return to that project later, we’re able to see it with fresh eyes. We might be able to veer in a different direction with the plot, or maybe the main characters need some changes. The setting could even need to be moved, and that could get our ideas flowing. Sometimes, what we’d considered a hopeless mess can end up being a beautiful story. After all, looking out my window at the unsightly mounds of chewed-up seeds, I wouldn’t have thought it possible that beautiful sunflowers would actually grow in that spot. So take heart if you’ve got a story tucked away that you’ve given up on, because you might be able to re-work it and produce a story that you—and your readers—will love. 😊

Amazon Buy Link
Meg Mills is thankful she relocated to Coastal Breeze after becoming widowed two years earlier. As she makes plans to achieve her dream of owning a small bookstore, she begins doubting herself after being harassed by her late husband’s stepmother. She’s also confused at her strong attraction to the shy, lanky piano tuner who arrives for an appointment one day. Todd Davis is grateful for his aunt’s encouragement to move to Coastal Breeze after a painful divorce, and is soon captivated by an outgoing piano tuning client. But he’s an introvert, and feels certain the pretty widow wouldn’t be interested in him. When Todd is hired as the local church’s choir director, he hopes this will help him get to know the attractive widow better—if he can come out of his shell. When the cousin who bullied Todd as a youth unexpectedly arrives in Coastal Breeze, Todd must confront his greatest fear, while getting past the pain of his memories. Meg worries that her exuberant personality has driven Todd away—until she learns the truth about his past. Can two people who are polar opposites help each other and find romance in the process?

Patti Jo Moore writes “Sweet, Southern Stories” and has lived in Georgia all her life. Her very first series, Emerald Coast Romances, is published by Forget-Me-Not Romances and is set on the Florida panhandle. Each book is a stand-alone, and Patti Jo hopes her readers enjoy “visiting” her fictional town of Coastal Breeze. The third book is In Tune With Romance and features Meg, an outgoing widow who wants to start her own business, and Todd, an introverted piano-tuner who must confront his greatest fear. Can two people who are polar opposites help each other and find romance in the process?

Patti Jo loves Jesus, her family, cats, and coffee. She loves connecting with other readers and authors. You can visit her on Facebook at Author Patti Jo Moore, or her personal blog at http://catmomscorner.blogspot.com

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Power of the Right Word by Laurel Blount

Sometimes changing one word makes a big difference.

Writers understand the power of words, and we try to choose them carefully. Maybe sometimes—even a little too carefully. Am I right? Anybody else struggle with a smidgen of perfectionism when it comes to your writing?

Yeah, I didn’t think I was the only one!

It’s tough to be creative while your inner critic perches in the back of your mind, keeping up a running monologue about everything that’s wrong with your writing. But what can you do about it? Selling my first book sure didn’t turn out to be the magic bullet I’d hoped it would be. If anything, my critic got louder—and harsher. She was draining the joy out of my writing process. Not good.

Then a friend suggested a one-word change—and it made all the difference. 

I was wrapping up line edits for my fourth book while simultaneously preparing to celebrate the release of my third. I’d never had two books overlap so much before, and I worried that I wasn’t giving enough attention and time to either of them. I’d also started a monthly author newsletter, and I was trying to finish our homeschooling year while embarking on a (yet another—don’t get me started!) new diet.

I had a lot going on, and my inner critic was freaking out.

“I just don’t feel like I’m doing the best job with any of these things,” I fretted to my friend during our morning phone call.

She thought a minute. “But should you even be trying for the best, though? Or should you be trying for your best? Because those are two different things.”

Wow. I’d been folding towels as we chatted, and I had a mini-epiphany right there in the middle of my clean laundry.

Not the best. My best.

I’d been focused on the wrong target. What I’d been shooting for was “the best.” I wanted every word, lesson and meal absolutely perfect and everybody involved over-the-moon delighted. My concern that I wasn’t measuring up to that standard was right on target. I wasn’t. 

My best? That was a different story. I knew I was bringing everything I had to the table. Maybe it wasn’t the ultimate best. But it was, at least at this busy season in my life, the very best I was capable of doing.

Such a simple change—one little word—but I felt an immediate sense of relief. All I needed to do was my best. That was attainable. That was realistic. That might even be fun!

So, were you nodding when I talked about perfectionism? Do you also have an inner critic waving a list of impossible standards under your nose? Try changing just one word. Don’t try to be the best, just your best at this time and in this season of your life.

I know. It seems almost absurdly simple.

Almost. Because we’re writers, after all. We understand the power of choosing the right word.

Because we’re writers, after all. We understand the power of choosing the right word. #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting

~~~~~~ 


Laurel Blount lives on a small farm in middle Georgia with her husband, their four children,
and an assortment of very spoiled animals. She divides her time between farm chores, homeschooling, and writing. She's busy, but at least she's never bored!

Laurel writes inspirational contemporary romance, and Hometown Hope is her third title for Harlequin’s Love Inspired. A fourth book is scheduled for publication in January 2020. She’s received a Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award for Excellence and has also finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards. She’s represented by Jessica Alvarez of Bookends Literary Agency.

Whenever she's not working, you can find Laurel with a cup of tea at her elbow, a cat in her lap, and a good book in her hand. Stay in touch by signing up for Laurel’s monthly newsletter at www.laurelblountbooks.com.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Love the Scene You’re With By Marie Wells Coutu

You have your story outline--if you’re a plotter--and your plan today is to write scene 23.

Or if you’re a pantser, you intend to pick up where you left off yesterday.

But. Life.

Your kids are home for the summer and need some attention. Or you got a phone call from a friend with bad news and you can’t stop thinking about her. Maybe those nagging chronic conditions have kicked in. Or you’re struggling with regret over some bad choices in your past.

Any one of these—or a myriad of other—situations could keep you from meeting your writing goal for the day, or the week. The scene you planned to work on won’t come to life because your mind and emotions are wrapped up in your current world instead of your story world.

When this happens, don’t let the struggle keep you from writing.

Instead, take a cue from the old song that advises, “Love the one you’re with.” If writer’s block and life are keeping you from writing the scene or the story you want to write, write about what you’re going through.

In other words, embrace your current life, create a fictional version, and “love” this scene.

Use the frustration you feel about your lack of time to write a new scene where your character feels frustrated. Take your worry for your friend or your sorrow and guilt over your past, and pour it onto the page in a short story. Write about your pain from the viewpoint of a character.

These characters and scenes need not be related to your work-in-progress, although they can be. The point is to capture the struggles and conflicts in your own life so you can draw on them to deepen the emotional impact of your fiction.

The actual words you write during these times may never make it into a completed manuscript. But the exercise can help in several ways:

1. You keep writing something, even if it’s not part of your work-in-progress. (Of course, if you’re staring down a deadline, you may want to find a way to incorporate it into that story.)

2. You can build a “library” of your own emotional responses. You might create a file of these ad lib scenes according to the primary emotion. The next time you need to write a scene dealing with anger or guilt or frustration, you can go back and read what you’ve written in that category to help re-create that emotion as you write the new scene.

3. You could wind up with a publishable short story to use as a lead magnet.

4. You might discover something new about your current characters or create a new character whose story needs to be told.

The important thing for a serious writer is to not let Life cause writer’s block. Use the events of the day, and the resulting emotions, to provide depth to your writing. If you can’t work on the scene you want, learn to “love the scene you’re with.”

If Life is keeping you from writing what you want to write, write about what you’re going through & “love the scene you’re with.” @mwcoutu @MaryAFelkins #SeriouslyWrite

                    ✐📖✎✐📖✎✐📖✎✐📖✎✐📖✎✐📖✎

Marie Wells Coutu finds beauty in surprising places, like old houses, gnarly trees, and forgotten treasures. When she’s not writing about finding restoration and healing through God-designed journeys, she enjoys taking broken things and making them useful.

The Secret Heart, her newest release, was named a finalist in both the 2018 National Excellence in Romantic Fiction Awards and the 2018 Royal Palm Literary Awards sponsored by Florida Writers Association. Her debut novel, For Such a Moment, won the Books of Hope Contest. Thirsting for More, the second book in the series was a finalist in the Selah Awards Contest and a semi-finalist in the Royal Palm Literary Awards. An unpublished historical novel set near Golden Pond has been a finalist in five contests.

She grew up in Kentucky, has lived in Kansas, Connecticut, Minnesota, Iowa and South Carolina. With her handyman husband of four decades, she now divides her time between Florida and the Midwest.
You can find more about Marie and her novels on her Facebook author page, her website, MarieWellsCoutu.com or follow her on Twitter @mwcoutu or on Amazon.com

Monday, June 10, 2019

Marketing Burnout: The Freeway, Your Way by Peter Leavell

Marketing is a three-lane, high octane, fear-inducing freeway built of unforgiving concrete that has positioned many an author to crash and burn. Why does this happen and how can you keep from an unhappy accident and damaging your career, all the while maintaining a nuanced and original edge that brings attention to your work?

The Right Lane:

The far right is safe. The speed is sane and faster drivers pass on the left. When moving slowly, mistakes and choices are forgiving. The shoulder is wide in case of an emergency and exiting is freed from the need to change lanes at the last minute.

A right lane marketer is consistent and takes fewer chances, reposting material from other writers with proven ideas. Blogs are experiential—tangible issues from a known past. Signing books usually take place behind a table, and conferences are because they are asked to attend.

The Middle Lane:

The middle lane offers choice at a higher speed. Choices, however, might lead to an accident, and reaching the shoulder or exiting is more difficult than the right lane and far more noticeable.

The middle lane marketer takes chances. Some material is brought in from other authors while original material balances out the body of posts and blogs. A portion of marketing is experiential, while some posts are chancy and experimental. Sometimes it suits the middle laner to drift into one lane or the other, changing tactics as deemed necessary with an eye and energy to success and self-care.

Sitting in the middle lane sees other marketers drifting in and out of the lane as well, all jockeying for space, most working together while others competing for attention. Preemptive phone calls to book signings, applications to speak at conferences, and connecting with writers and readers are the constant priority.

The Left Lane:

Left lane drivers are a wild bunch who don’t care for speed limits, whipping around curves and feeling the thrill of the centrifugal pull. At these speeds, bumps send the vehicle into the air, landing with an agreeable bounce and testing the limits of physics. If someone doesn’t keep up with the pack, everyone is frustrated with the single driver who slows the rest down. Everyone notices when someone from the left lane exits, disrupting the other lanes.

96 MPH in a 55 MPH is the heartbeat of these drivers. One sneeze can result in a mighty crash.

The left lane marketer creates a platform around original ideas, pushing hard agendas and schemes and selling them anyway that comes to mind, at both conferences and online. This daily focus is never-ending, an obsession that pulls them forward day and night. From unplanned Facebook live moments to selling general fiction at a Christian Homeschool Conference, these high energy folks take chances.

Marketing Burnout:

What’s the best lane? The one you’re driving in. The one you’re comfortable with. The one that is manageable. Switching lanes trying to be something you are not leads to marketing burnout. You must market, you cannot exit. But all lanes work. Stay in your lane, change lanes when you must, and you will arrive at your destination.

Driving the marketing freeway in the fastest lane? Yes Please! @peterleavell #seriouslywrite

How do I avoid marketing burnout? @peterleavell #seriouslywrite


Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history and currently enrolled in the University's English Lit Graduate program, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. A novelist, blogger, teacher, ghostwriter, jogger, biker, husband and father, Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at www.peterleavell.com.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Balancing Writer Projects: God’s Smile by Melinda V. Inman


Melinda V. Inman

Balancing Writer Projects: God’s Smile

For the first time in my career as a writer, I’m producing two novels in one year. When I first began writing fiction, no serious author would have considered such a thing. It typically took at least two to five years to produce a well-formed novel, maybe longer. Publishing two in one year was considered impossible. Nowadays, it isn’t.

But, goodness! How in the world? What about quality of content?

First, let me quantify the two projects. The first one is a full-length novel that has taken me over three years from the beginning of the first draft to publication later this calendar year, a respectable span of time. It’s historical fiction and the sequel of another, so it required all the research and other work that goes into producing 300+ pages.

The second is a novella written for a series alongside other experienced multi-published writers. The energy of the group carries the project forward, along with providing feedback and brainstorming. The sense of collaboration is fun and energizing. I was invited into this project, and when I heard all the particulars, I wanted to be a part of it. The timing, the invite, and the opportunity were like a gift from God!

If God opens a door, if his face shines upon you, and you know it’s one you can and should walk through with his help, if he has provided the opportunity, by all means walk through the door. This is especially the case if you once thought it was impossible.

How did this work? Well, first off, the Lord orchestrated it all. My job has been to simply walk into what he has provided.

The group project sought me out as I was editing the full-length novel. This was perfect timing. I wrote the rough draft for the novella during breaks in editing the novel. My Patreon campaign then allowed me to get that novel professionally edited as I was doing major work on the novella manuscript. The projects layered together nicely.

The group project was bite-sized. A novella is one-third the length of a full-length novel, making it feel like a short story in comparison. The setting is contemporary, meaning less research.

The premise was inviting, and the genre is a new model. The characters’ lives embody many Christian principles I firmly believe in and want to advance.

Both stories broach issues I’m thrilled to write about, thus moving me in a God-pleasing direction in both. When we’re working on something fresh and new, something we know will please the Lord and promote his message, it adds vigor to our efforts. It’s like a fresh breeze blowing through, lifting the curtains.

All of this together brought God’s smile into my work. His face shone. Working under the providence of God’s smile on two projects in one year brings an awareness of God’s blessing. When we recognize that God is in any project or undertaking, our steps are lighter, and the work is less burdensome. As a writer with a chronic illness, this is incredibly important, for we often cannot simply power through as we did when we were healthy.

The smile of God, the unique newness of the project, the joy of collaboration, and the sense of God’s delight and blessing in giving the opportunity empower me as a writer.

When has God’s smile given you direction or lightened your load? How did his approval or leading make the work joyful?

How has God’s smile opened doors and made possible projects or plans you never before considered possible?

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace" (Numbers 6:24-26 NIV).


If God opens a door, if his face shines upon you, and you know you can and should walk through with his help, by all means walk through the door.
#seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @MelindaVInman


Melinda V. Inman, Author of Refuge; Fallen; and No Longer Alone


Raised on the Oklahoma plains in a storytelling family, Melinda Viergever Inman now spins tales from her writer’s cave in the Midwest. Her faith-filled fiction illustrates our human story, wrestling with our brokenness and the storms that wreak havoc in our lives. Find her weekly at http://MelindaInman.com/blog/. To find her work and to be notified of future published novels, follow her at http://bit.ly/MelindasBooks/.

Connections:

Facebook Author Page:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Melinda-V-Inman/189731601076470
Website: http://melindainman.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MelindaVInman
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/melindavinman/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MelindaViergeverInman/posts/p/pub