Friday, January 14, 2011

From Start to Finish—Get Organized! by Maggie Brendan

Have you set goals for writing this year? Are you trying to get organized in order to get more accomplished? This Fortifying Friday, Brenda Lott, who writes as Maggie Brendan, is here to help you do just that with encouragement and tips on getting organized from start to finish!

From Start to Finish
Get Organized!
by Maggie Brendan

I tend to be an organized writer, with everything I need at my fingertips or on the bookshelf behind me. Most of the time. Recently, my lateral file cabinet broke because of the weight of the files—which forced me to get organized for 2011!

I usually start out with a small notebook, the three-ring binder kind, for my novels. Once I get further along, I make dividers for history, research, maps, an outline, and a synopsis. Another section holds correspondence from my editor and agent, as well as marketing. Last, but not least, I have a section labeled “support.” This includes my critique partner’s encouragement, fan mail, and good reviews that keep me encouraged.

Part of being organized is having items around me that relate to my craft and inspire me. I keep highlighters, ink pens, note pads, and scissors right on my desk to use while researching. A good printer and fax machine is a must. I have eight or ten versions of the Bible, and a couple of reference books within reach. Naturally, since writing is very isolating, I have a radio so I don’t loose contact with the world. You could also use your I-Pod. I have an I-Touch, but I know some prefer to write in silence, and there are times I do that too. I have a wooden miniature cross and a carved lion with the lamb from Palestine to remind me who my real audience is. The backbone of an inspirational writer is the power of the Word. A good devotional that I just finished this year is Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. I highly recommend it!

I’ve set up real folders in my desk drawer, and some on hard drive that hold my interviews, blogs, and book giveaways. There’s one for marketing, and another for all the reviews or fan letters. I have another folder for speaking, and one for any endorsements I’ve given. Don’t forget to keep receipts for tax deductions. This is very important after you get your first contract and writing becomes a real job!

Some of my favorite resource books are The Writer’s Guide for Everyday Life in the 1800’s, Techniques for the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain, and Writing Novels that Sell by Jack M. Bickham, who incidentally inspired my brother when he met him so much that one of my brother’s westerns was dedicated to Bickham. Two others are Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. Invest in a few good references so that your writing will shine!

My last piece of advice—take care of yourself. Set aside time to exercise for thirty minutes or more a few times a week.

So what’s keeping you from getting organized! Your mind and body will reward you. Hope these tips help you as you write in 2011.

Maggie Brendan is a member of the American Christian Writers (ACW), American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). She was a recipient of the 2004 ACW Persistence Award in Atlanta, GA. Her first book, No Place For a Lady, in the Heart of the West series received a 4.5 star review from Romantic Times. The Jewel of His Heart, received a 4 star review from Romantic Times. A Love of Her Own was released in June. The Jewel of His Heart was in the twenty on the CBA list for July, and No Place for a Lady was listed as one of the Best of 2009 on for Crossings Book Club. She has begun writing another historical series called The Blue Willow Brides. The first book, Deeply Devoted will be released in September. Maggie was quoted in, Word Weavers, The Successful Writer’s Critique Groups. She led a writer’s critique group for six years. A TV film version of No Place for a Lady is currently in development for possible movie production. She spoke at a Regional Church Bookstores and Libraries conference in Marietta about The Value of Christian Fiction. She has participated in three of LifeWay Christian Store’s Annual Fiction Event Day. She recently had a book signing at the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando. Maggie is married with two grown children and four grandchildren. She has a love for the West and all things western. When she is not writing, she enjoys reading, singing, traveling for research, and being with her family. She lives in GA.

Maggie can be found on her website,
her blog,,
and as a resident blogger on

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