Friday, December 6, 2019

More than Dust in the Wind by Melinda V. Inman

Meme with photo of typewriter and the Bible verse from Ecclesiastes 3:12

More than Dust in the Wind

Change is in the wind. Everywhere around us, my husband and I are experiencing drastic shifts in our lives. I’m sure many of you can relate, no matter what stage of life you’re in.

Two years ago, we uprooted from our home of almost twenty years and relocated across the country. Our new city is peopled by many millions. Before this, we mostly resided in small towns or cities of less than 250,000. This realigned our large family, turning every holiday upside down. There went our family traditions, thus provoking an identity crisis.

At Thanksgiving, my husband retired after being with the same employer for over forty years. This caused all sorts of upheaval, as it’s a major adjustment for him and thus, for me.

During all of this, I finished and then launched my fifth novel, based on my great-grandparents’ early lives during WW1. With the book’s completion, that depressing farewell to their world is now part of the emotional mix.

I’ve been feeling the angst of the 1970s song, “Dust in the Wind,” by Kerry Livgren of “Kansas.”


Now, don’t hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
It slips away
And all your money won’t another minute buy
Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind
Dust in the wind
Everything is dust in the wind

[Dust in the Wind lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC]


If that sounds like something from Ecclesiastes, it’s because the song lyrics reflect what Solomon also experienced. Though he had everything, he realized that no matter what, he would still die, and all his work would amount to dust.

Cheerful, right? All of this has weaseled down into my heart.

As writers, our emotions and the spiritual place from which we process our work, our family, and our circumstances impact what we write and how we write it. I’m glad all this dust is settling during the holiday season, when all eyes are on Jesus.

No matter who we are, each year we discover that these holidays are different than the last. We march through life, and things change. Rather than despair as we reflect on what is altered, how much better to focus on the One who orders all our days. The holidays circle around him.

These changes, this upheaval, these relocations, this volatile publishing industry, these constant marketing challenges, these changes in tradition, our days winding down—all are gifts from God, even if we don’t understand why or how.


I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. (Ecclesiastes 3:10-13 NIV)


Though our bodies will one day be dust in the wind, our souls are eternal, and our life experiences are shaped by God specifically to draw us toward him, to mold us into the image of his Son, and to accomplish his purposes. This is all far more than dust in the wind, for we are blessed by this reality:


“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27 NIV)


With this awaiting us, we need not lament the loss of what once was. But rather, we can attach ever more securely to the One who inspires everything we do.

Fix your eyes on Jesus this holiday season, especially if life has been all sorts of messy. As always, he’s the reason we live and the reason we write. God bless you in your journey, dear writer!


Though our bodies will one day be dust in the wind, our souls are eternal, and our life experiences are shaped by God specifically to draw us toward him. #WritingLife #WriterEncouragement #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @MelindaVInman



The Shadows Come
The Shadows Come


Sequel to No Longer Alone

Germany threatens all of Europe. Millions have died. President Woodrow Wilson makes the declaration that the United States must enter the Great War to rescue our allies. Congress approves. Our story begins.

In America’s heartland, everyone hunkers down to provide food for the world and resources for the war effort. A draft is necessary, and all young men must register. One by one, these are called to war. With this threat looming, Prentis and Avery raise the necessary horsepower, cultivate the needed crops, and contribute their labors to the Red Cross. But crises at home, an insidious busybody, and one after another called up to fight in Europe bring the greatest dangers they’ve ever faced together. Then there’s the influenza pandemic. Will they survive the war abroad and the war being waged at home, threatening their love and their lives? Will their loved ones make it home alive?

Set in 1917-1919, The Shadows Come is based on a true story.

Available in paperback and e-book on Melinda’s Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Melinda-Viergever-Inman/e/B00GFYI0RU/ref


Melinda V. Inman
Raised on the Oklahoma plains in a storytelling family, Melinda now spins tales from her writer’s cave in the South. Her fiction illustrates our human story, wrestling with our brokenness and the storms that wreak havoc in our lives.


Connections:

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/MelindaVInman/
Website: https://melindainman.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MelindaVInman
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/melindavinman/
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00GFYI0RU






Thursday, December 5, 2019

Celebrate! by Sally Shupe

Happy December! The month of celebration. I thought about what I’d set out to accomplish over the year. In some areas, I accomplished everything I set out to do. In other areas, I fell short. But you know what? Overall, I am happy with how this year turned out. My writing has grown, I’ve made new friends, I’ve got some great new ideas for more stories for next year. I’m excited!

Don’t focus on what didn’t get accomplished this year, and why you couldn’t get those items marked off your list. Didn’t get that remodel done? Didn’t find that great new job? Didn’t get that one last box emptied? Or maybe you didn’t get that book written, or finish the outline for your next book. Instead, focus on what you did accomplish. Look at your completed tasks. Did you get an outline typed up, flesh out characters for a book, enter a contest, get feedback? Did you find a critique partner? Celebrate the little things you did get done! Reward yourself for continually working toward your goal.

So. What are you celebrating? Every step forward is a step to be celebrated. Didn’t completely follow that diet plan? Celebrate that you’re more active now than you used to be, or that you’re eating more vegetables than you used to. Don’t focus on the negative, on the things you didn’t get done, the obstacles that you couldn’t control. Did life get in the way of you accomplishing your goals? Look at what you did get done during that time. Sometimes just showing up takes everything you’ve got. Celebrate that! Celebrate all the little things that make life special to you. A sweet smile, an unexpected visitor or card, writing an extra 500 words, a new idea for your next book. A snowstorm-or maybe that’s just me lol.

While you’re celebrating the season, and the reason for the season, pull out all the little and big things you’ve accomplished this year, and celebrate those things. Merry Christmas!

Sally Shupe lives in southwest Virginia with her husband, two grown kids, and a whole bunch of pets: five dogs, three cats, a rabbit, and birds at the birdfeeder (and the mandatory snowman when the snow cooperates). She writes contemporary Christian romance, with two completed manuscripts and others in progress. They are part of a series located in small town Virginia.

When Sally’s not writing or working full-time, she is a freelance editor for several authors who write fiction and nonfiction; students working on dissertation papers; a copy editor for Desert Breeze (now closed); a content editor for Prism (became part of Pelican); performs beta reading for various authors; publishes book reviews on her blog and with Valley Business FRONT’s monthly magazine; is a member of ACFW and ACFW Virginia; and loves genealogy, running, and crocheting.

Sally uses her love of words to write about God’s amazing love.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

I want to be an author. What should I do? by Melissa Ferguson

I want to be an author. What should I do?

It seemed that the second I signed on the dotted line for my book deal last October, I was getting Facebook messages with this question (well this question, plus the odd, “I want to write a book and make a lot of money and can you make me a millionaire?”).

My “#1 tip” answer is two-fold:

For the person thinking about or in process of writing the first book: Get yourself to a writer’s conference. No matter what stage you are in the writing process, get yourself to a writer’s conference—particularly one that is well-respected, includes reputable agents and editors from publishing houses you would want to work with, and includes your genre. It was challenging putting down the money and traveling through several states to meet a bunch of strangers the first time I did one—I was afraid, and in some ways felt like I was a fraud—but now when anyone asks me one tip for becoming an author I immediately respond with this: go to a writer’s conference.

Once going to conference: Make the most of your conference experience. We know these conferences often cost somewhere between $600-1500. If you didn’t get appointments with some of the agents/editors you were hoping to pitch to, then find them outside a session, in the dining area, in an elevator (for the record, I did this once, and had to give a 10-second literal elevator pitch in an elevator). I am terrible at on-the-spot pitches, and have failed miserably trying to share my bit about my books every single time. But you know what? Every single time the agent or editor just smiled and told me to send him/her my manuscript. Which eventually led to a contract. And book deal. So don’t let nerves get to you. Remember they are human. Do the best you can. And make the most of face-to-face conversations with authors, editors, and agents at these conferences, because no email can beat the power of a smile and handshake.

So, what, in my opinion, is the best way to become a traditionally published author? Getting out there to conference, and making the most of it you can.

Have you been to a writer’s conference? Which one is your favorite?


No matter what stage you are in the writing process, get yourself to a writer’s conference... #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting

~~~~~~


Melissa Ferguson lives in Bristol, Tennessee, where she is an assistant professor at King University and pens books that make her laugh and grow. She used to have hobbies like running and backpacking the Appalachian Trail outside her door. Now she and her husband are outnumbered, and her hobbies include diaper changes, chasing toddlers in parking lots, and admiring the Appalachian Trail out her minivan window while singing "Winnie the Pooh." She survives by Jesus, rom coms, and roughly two espresso shots a day.
The Dating Charade debuts with HarperCollins Christian Publishing (Thomas Nelson) on December 3rd, and she’d love you to join her on her journey at www.melissaferguson.com.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Editing Our Thoughts as Carefully as Our Words by Emily Conrad

fountain pen writing

I have a critique partner who rightly gets after me for using “weasel words.”

As she reviewed my latest manuscript, she drew my attention again and again to words like was and it. Reminded to choose my words more carefully, I noticed others she didn’t point out as often—that, just, finally, and now.

Realizing I’d let my attention to varied, vibrant language slip, I used the search function to highlight every one of those six words in the entire manuscript, then reviewed every. Single. Instance. Of each of them.

Some, I left. Many, I rewrote.

The task took considerable time, but the manuscript shines for the effort. (To get a feel for the impact, consider whether that sentence would carry the same punch if I’d written: It was time-consuming, but the manuscript shines because I did it. Now multiply that by an entire novel.)

After I tamed the weasels in my work-in-progress, however, I noticed another kind of weasel posing an even bigger threat to my writing.

Weasel thoughts.

You know the ones:

God isn’t using me.

I’m all on my own.

My manuscripts will never be accepted by an agent or editor.

I could never write like she does.

And on and on.
fountain pen with ink dot

These negative thoughts, like words we so easily overuse, creep in when we’re not vigilant.

If we let the issue go unaddressed, those weasels grow bigger and multiply, fed by each rejection, setback, and disappointment. Soon, they run as rampant in our minds as weasel words can in our manuscripts.

The more we think them, the more we believe them. The more we believe them, the less we’ll write.

So, as we strive to improve in our writing craft, let’s also carefully manage our thoughts.

The trick with editing a manuscript for weasel words is not simply to delete every sentence containing one but, rather, to reword the line for the strongest impact.

With weasel thoughts, instead of rewording to convey the same meaning, we need to replace the negative with a faith-filled positive.

God isn’t using me becomes God has good purposes for me. (Jeremiah 29:11, Ephesians 2:10)

I’m all on my own becomes The Lord goes with me. (Matthew 28:20, Joshua 1:9)

My manuscripts will never get accepted by an agent or editor becomes God will open the right doors for me at the right time. (Psalm 138:8, 1 Peter 5:6)

I could never write like she does becomes I have been gifted in a unique way for a unique purpose. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)
Fountain pen that's written the word love

Weasel words will overrun our writing. Weasel thoughts will prevent us from writing in the first place. Both can prove to be challenging opponents, but you're not in this journey alone.

Friends, both inside and outside the writing world, can help pinpoint weasel thoughts and might be able to point you to Scripture that can combat the problem.

And, of course, prayer should be an important part of the editing process--whether we're talking weasel words or thoughts. God is concerned with every aspect of our lives, and invites us to bring our cares to Him.

Weasels are no match for the One who can do all things.
_____________________

P.S. Want some help finding the weasel words in your manuscript? Kregel editor Janyre Tromp created a list of 75 words to look out for in your work. As she wisely warns us, the key isn’t to delete them all, but to ensure that each instance is necessary. You can snag a copy (and benefit from the wisdom of two professional editors in other areas, too) by joining the Facebook group Editing Insiders with Janyre and Sarah. Once you’re in, search the group’s posts with the word “download” to find the link.


_____________________

Weasel words will overrun our writing. Weasel thoughts will prevent us from writing in the first place. @emilyrconrad shares thoughts on #editing out both as a #Christianwriter #seriouslywrite

Weasel thoughts. The more we think them, the more we believe them. The more we believe them, the less we’ll write. @emilyrconrad #writing #christianfiction #seriouslywrite

Negative thoughts, like words we so easily overuse, creep in when we’re not vigilant. @emilyrconrad #seriouslywrite #writetip #writing


Photo credits
Fountain pen writing photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Pen with ink dot photo by Nicolas Thomas on Unsplash

Love fountain pen photo by John Jennings on Unsplash

Graphics created on Canva.com


Emily Conrad headshotEmily Conrad writes Christian romance and a blog to encourage women of faith. Her debut novel, Justice, released from Pelican Book Group in 2018. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two rescue dogs. She loves Jesus and enjoys road trips to the mountains, crafting stories, and drinking coffee. (It’s no coincidence Justice is set mostly in a coffee shop!) She offers free short stories on her website and loves to connect with readers on social media.

www.emilyconradauthor.com
Facebook.com/emilyconradauthor
Instagram.com/emilyrconrad
Twitter.com/emilyrconrad

https://www.amazon.com/Justice-Emily-Conrad-ebook/dp/B0792HGXQN/JUSTICE

The love of a lifetime, a quest for justice, and redemption that can only be found by faith.

Jake thought he was meant to marry Brooklyn, but now she's pregnant, and he had nothing to do with it.

Brooklyn can’t bring herself to name the father as she wrestles with questions about what her pregnancy means and how it will affect her relationship with Jake.

If Harold Keen, the man who owns the bookstore across from Jake's coffee shop, has anything to do with it, the baby will ruin them both.

Can Jake and Brooklyn overcome the obstacles thrown in their path, and finally find the truth in God's love and in each other?


Amazon
Barnes and Noble



Monday, December 2, 2019

When You Give Up Your Dream By Janalyn Voigt

Janalyn Voigt
Have you ever had to lay down a dream? As soon as you do, you wonder, did I make the right call? What choice did I have? I poured months or years into it; what will become of that project?Janalyn Voigt, fellow Mountain Brook Ink author, is here today with her story of laying down a dream. Read on for encouragement! ~ Annette

I held my breath as I opened the email, but then expelled it in disappointment. Another rejection. I scanned the words on my screen. My agent had run out of publishers to approach with my proposal. She’d hoped that my writing voice was unique enough to land a contract, but the Western historical romance market was crowded.

I’d been so sure that the Montana Gold series was God-led. I’d felt an unction to write books set in Montana while gazing across the Ruby Valley. The title of the first book had dropped into my head out of the blue. Giving up felt wrong. The characters I’d created seemed real to me. How could I bury them?

Fortunately, my agent wasn’t offloading me, but her inference was clear. It was time to switch genres. It was tough to let go of my plans, but I couldn’t ignore that the doors to write Western historical romance were closed. If God had wanted to open one for me, He’d have done it. I could only trust that He had something else in mind for me. I focused on writing a proposal in another genre.

I’d met Miralee Ferrell when we were both featured as Christian authors at the Missoula Festival of the Book. As the author of Tales of Faeraven, a medieval epic fantasy series, I’d been invited to represent Christian speculative fiction. Miralee and I struck up a friendship, and she offered me advice on the Montana Gold series. Miralee hadn’t yet started her publishing house, Mountain Brook Ink. Neither of us guessed that she would one day acquire my series. That happened almost by accident.

Several years later, I learned that Miralee would attend a local writing conference where I was speaking. I invited her to coffee with no thought of pitching the Montana Gold books to her. The sneaking suspicion that I should do so crept up on me. I pushed the notion away, but it wouldn’t leave me alone.

It took another kind of surrender to pitch my series. I’d given my dream to God. Attempting to revive that particular aspiration made me vulnerable to further rejection and heartbreak.

I needn’t have worried. Miralee loved the story idea, asked to see the proposal, and contracted me to write the series. Writing for Mountain Brook Ink is a joy, a blessing I’d have missed if I hadn’t surrendered my writing dreams to God.

The Author of Salvation loves us too much to allow us to slip into idolatry. That is the danger when we love our own will more than we do our Savior’s. It’s not wrong to harbor hopes and dreams, but we must cast them like crowns at Jesus’s feet. Who knows, maybe then God, if He is willing, will restore them to us.

Taking up a dream afresh calls for courage. Life offers no guarantees, but one thing is certain. Doing nothing leads to failure.

Dare to try.

Has God ever turned your surrendered dream around? Come be encouraged! @JanalynVoigt

~~~~~

The Forever Sky
Can a young widow with no faith in love, hope for a future with the man who broke her heart?

Maisey isn’t about to give Rob another chance to reject her love. Why should she believe that the man who left town without a backward glance three years ago cares about her? Life had taught her all about broken dreams, and she didn’t want to hope again. If only her young daughter would stop adopting Rob as a father, ignoring him—and her own emotions—would be a whole lot easier.

Thoughts of the woman he’d left behind haunted Rob for three long years. It wouldn’t have been fair to ask Maisey to wait while he mined a gold claim. After making his fortune, he has returned to his family in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. Rob is ready to settle down, and he’d rather do so with Maisey. But after their first encounter, it is clear that he’s lost her forever.

Circumstances force Maisey and Rob into one another’s company. They learn, through hardship and loss, that the only way to one another is to surrender first to God’s love.

Based on actual historical events during a time of unrest in America, The Forever Sky explores faith, love, and courage in the wild West.

~~~~~

Janalyn Voigt fell in love with literature at an early age when her father read classics to her as bedtime stories. When Janalyn grew older, she put herself to sleep with her own made-up tales. Her sixth-grade teacher noticed her love of storytelling and encouraged her to become a writer. Today Janalyn is a multi-genre author. Janalyn writes the kind of novels she likes to read – epic adventures brimming with romance, mystery, history, and whimsy. She is praised for her unpredictable plots and the lyrical, descriptive prose that transports readers into breathtaking storyworlds. Janalyn Voigt is represented by Wordserve Literary. Learn more about Janalyn and her books at http://janalynvoigt.com.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Plant Your Dreams by Gail Johnson

Gail Johnson
Spending time in nature gives me peace, and it stirs my creativity. It’s where I feel closest to God. So, today’s post by author Gail Johnson deeply inspires me—and gives me hope. Enjoy! ~ Dawn

Plant Your Dreams

When we moved our house to the piece of land we call home, it was nothing but a barren sand ridge. The only trees in our yard were the ones we left standing when we cleared the land. We didn't have money for landscaping, so every spring found me planting tufts of grass taken from our former yard behind my in-loves.

Throughout the coming years, I planted shrubs, trees, and flowers. I enjoyed some plants the moment I stuck them in the dirt, but I had to wait for certain flowers. Like the year I planted gladiolus and daffodil bulbs.

Those bulbs didn't bloom that year or the next, or the year after that. In fact, they remained hidden for so long, I completely forgot about them. When they finally appeared in all their glory, I had to think hard about where they came from and when I had planted them.

Our writing dreams can be like those bulbs. We may spend years cultivating stories without a promise of publication. The longer we write, the more we fight the urge to give up. If you're in a waiting season, remember, burying and planting are the same in action, but not in thought. When we bury something, we don't expect to see it again in this lifetime. But when we plant something, we plant it knowing that it will soon appear and bring pleasure to others.


Photo of daffodils

Don't bury your gift. Cultivate with confidence. Plant your dreams in faith and expect "that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." And one day, when you least expect it, your story will bloom for His glory.

What are you planting this year?


Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

If you're in a waiting season, remember, burying and planting are the same in action, but not in thought. #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @GailJohnson87
Don't bury your gift. Cultivate with confidence. Plant your dreams in faith and with expectation. #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @GailJohnson87



Treasures of Hope
Treasures of Hope


When long-buried memories of abuse resurface, Gail faces a choice: continue ignoring the implications of her nightmares and remain a captive of fear and shame, or dare to remove the painful chains binding her present to her past. Unearthing the sorrows of her past would not be easy and distressing questions would arise along the way to challenge her faith.

Why would a God of both love and justice allow this abuse?
Why does He expect me to forgive my abuser?
If He let this happen, does He truly love me at all?

In her memoir, Treasures of Hope: Discovering the Beautiful Truth Beneath My Painful Past, Gail Johnson shares the truths she uncovered while studying earlier daughters of both harm and hope. As she became better acquainted with women of the Bible like Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, Rahab, Tamar, and Esther, their stories spoke truth into her own, mining the jewels of Identity and Purpose, Intimacy, Incomparability, Courage, Peace, and Victory. With each new discovery, Gail traded a length of chain for a balm of gold . . . and unearthed treasures that would sever the past’s stranglehold on her life, allowing her to live joyously in the present and anticipate the future with emboldened hope.



Gail Johnson enjoys sharing her passion for life and Christ through the power of the written word. Whether it’s through stories, articles, or songs, she invites her reader and listener to “taste and see” the hope she has found in a faithful God and loving Savior. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the author of Treasures of Hope, Discovering the Beautiful Truth Beneath My Painful Past, a memoir.

You can find Gail online—at Inspired Prompt, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Amazon Author Page.




Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
              -Psalm 100

Seriously Write is closed today to allow us to spend the holiday with our family and friends. We wish you a blessed Thanksgiving. We will be back tomorrow and look forward to visiting with you then.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Seriously Write Team