Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Tribute to a Mentor by Sandra Robbins

I recently told a friend that writing can be a very lonely profession. An author spends the day alone in an office as he/she struggles to translate the story in the head into words that will catch the interest of readers and keep them turning the pages. Before we know it, we may feel isolated and question if we’re really cut out for this kind of work. That’s why we all need someone—a mentor who understands our doubts, our fears, and our hopes because they’ve walked that path before.

To my way of thinking there are two types of mentors: the professional one and the personal one. The professional mentor is usually a colleague who understands the writing life and what it takes to get a book published. They offer constructive criticism on areas that need improvement and advice on making the right choices that will impact the writer’s professional future.

The personal one may never have had a desire to write one sentence, but they possess characteristics that make a person want to become the best they can be. They are people who are well-respected and who care about those around them. They offer support and are always available to listen. The word that comes to mind is cheerleader. They are the entire cheerleader squad rolled into one individual who stands on the sideline and chants for their mentee to make that goal.

Although I’ve had both types in my life, the most important one was my mother who never stopped being my cheerleader. She encouraged me to step out on faith and write my first book even though I had a full time job as a school principal. When it was published, she rejoiced more than I did and took my characters to her heart. One piece of advice she gave me many times was a quote one of her teachers wrote on her report card when she was a girl: Hitch your wagon to a star, and you’ll go far. She knew that I could achieve my goals if I put my trust in God and let Him lead me. And she was right. God opened doors for me that I could never have done for myself.

July 31st is her birthday, but I won’t be celebrating it with her this year. She passed away on May 9th after a long illness. At her funeral I wasn’t surprised at the stories told to me by friends and family of how she’d helped and encouraged them in their lives. She had written her eulogy in the inspiration and support she’d given others throughout her life.

So I offer this tribute to her today. I pray that I can be an encouragement to someone like she was to so many, because I want the joy she received from giving to others. But what about you? There’s someone out there waiting for you to become their mentor. I pray you find each other soon.

Sandra Robbins and her husband live in the small college town where she grew up. Until a few years ago she was working as an elementary school principal, but God opened the door for her to become a full-time writer. Her books have been finalists in the Daphne du Maurier Contest for excellence in mystery writing, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, the Holt Medallion, and the ACFW Carol Award. Since Sandra is a Southerner by birth, she enjoys setting her historical romance and romantic suspense books in both the past and present-day South. Her latest book Angel of the Cove releases August 1 from Harvest House Publishers. To find out more about Sandra and her books go to http://sandrarobbins.net or send her an email at sandra@sandrarobbins.net

In the first book in the Smoky Mountain Dreams series, Angel of the Cove, acclaimed author Sandra Robbins weaves a tale of love, loss, and God's faithfulness in every circumstance.

Anna Prentiss has never wanted to be anything but a nurse. Before she can start school in New York, however, her brother sends her to Cades Cove, deep in the Smoky Mountains, to spend a summer apprenticing to the local midwife. Anna is determined to prove herself and then head to the big city.

But nothing could have prepared Anna for the beauty of the Cove, or the community and friendships she finds there. And she certainly wasn't prepared for Simon Martin, the handsome young minister, or the feelings he arouses in her. Has God's plan for Anna changed? Or is she just starting to hear Him clearly?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Build it Right Series: Housewarming by Dora Hiers

Housewarming: Celebrate Success, 
Hold a Housewarming Party, 
Consider and Pray about Your Next Project.
Build it Right series 
by Dora Hiers

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.  
(Ps 100:4-5 NIV) 

Celebrate success.

It’s done! After months of waiting, watching, crying, whining, wringing your hands and praying, you can finally move in to your new house. Yay! You offer a thanksgiving prayer, shake the builder’s hand, and then get to work moving in furniture, unpacking boxes, and settling things in place. When it’s presentable, you invite friends and family for a housewarming party.

What do you do when you type "The End" on your story?  

Offer a thanksgiving prayer. Celebrate. Go out for a special dinner. Visit the spa. Meet a friend for coffee. Whatever you do to celebrate victories and accomplishments. 

Hold a housewarming party.
Typing “the end” doesn’t mean the project is finished. In the writing industry, the end is really the beginning. Your next step is to submit your completed and polished work, whether it’s directly to the publisher or to an agent. Show it off! But be warned…just as friends and family will praise and criticize certain elements of your house, expect the same from agents, publishers and readers.

Consider and pray about your next project

Who better than the Creator of the Universe to approach for ideas and inspiration? Chat with God. Praise Him. Worship at His feet. 

God has such an imagination and a sense of humor. Ask Him for a spark, just a speck of sand, from His creative well and open your mind to His possibilities. 

Where can you find ideas?

  •          Scour newspapers, magazines, and books
  •          Soak up your favorite television shows
  •          Browse through news articles and local news sites
  •          Wade through files and notes, research online
  •          Dreams. (OK, I hear you laughing here, but don’t discount the idea. My opening scene for Journey’s Embrace actually came to me in a dream.)
  •          Consider life experiences: weddings, funerals, jobs, family issues, hobbies, etc. 

In My Father's house there are many dwelling places (homes). 
If it were not so, I would have told you; 
for I am going away to prepare a place for you. 
(John 14:2 AMP)

I’m so thankful for the Master Builder and His creative well. What about you? Do you incorporate God’s blueprint in your writing?

Thank you for joining me on this Build it Right! journey. 

Journey's Edge:

A Routine Audit? Hardly. Red flags-including some goon who's following her-raise McKinley Frasier's suspicions that numbers don't add up at the insurance firm. When someone tries to snatch McKinley's daughter from school, she turns to police officer and ex-fiance, Renner Crossman-the cop who walked out on her a month before their wedding. But Renner's not the same guy who broke her heart ten years ago. He calls himself a "new man." She trusts the new Renner with her daughter's safety...but what about her heart?

(print)                          (e-book)


After a successful auditing career, Dora Hiers left the corporate world to be a stay-at-home mom to her two sons. When her youngest son didn’t want her hanging out at school with him anymore, Dora started writing heart racing, God-gracing books. Dora belongs to the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Carolina Christian Writers. Her first inspirational romance, Journey’s End, released with White Rose Publishing in 2011, and her second, Journey’s Edge released in March 2012. White Rose also contracted her third book in the Marshals of Journey Creek series, Journey’s Embrace, and her first short romance, Small Town Treasure. Dora and her husband make their home in Kannapolis, North Carolina. 
Connect with Dora:

Website: www.dorahiers.com
Email: Dora@DoraHiers.com
Facebook: Dora Hiers Author
Twitter: @DoraHiers

Friday, July 27, 2012

Getting Around the Block by Christy Barritt

The positive results we receive after accomplishing daunting tasks can often feel more rewarding than others. Today on Seriously Write, author Christy Barritt shares great tips and encouragement for facing some writing and non-writing challenges. Enjoy! ~ Dawn

Getting Around the Block
by Christy Barritt

I made a New Year’s resolution to walk around the block at least three times a week. Some days, I have a million excuses why I can’t do it. I don’t want to get sick (and it’s cold outside). It’s too hot. I have too much laundry to do.

It’s almost August, so by now I’ve been around the block a few times, and I’ve learned some lessons along the way. Similarly, sometimes it’s also hard to get around writer’s block. You can feel stuck and that blank page can feel like your worst enemy.

Here are some tips to get around the block—both for walking and writing:

1. Do it regardless. Though I don’t always feel like walking, once I’m actually doing it, I feel invigorated. When I’m facing writer’s block, sometimes if I just write, things fall in place. Those first words that I write for my draft aren’t necessarily beautiful. First drafts usually aren’t. But I can always go back and change them.

2. Find a buddy. Finding someone to walk with me and keep me accountable has been a lifesaver—and it makes the journey a little lighter. Find a writing partner to help keep you on track. A writing buddy will keep you on target to reach your word count, to keep going when you want to give up, and to keep your goal in sight. Having someone walk beside you may be just the push you need.

3.  Listen to music. Upbeat music makes my walk go by more quickly. Putting on music while writing can be an inspiration. Give it a shot when nothing else is working. I try to listen to suspenseful music while writing tense scenes, love songs when writing romance, etc. Movie soundtracks can provide great inspiration!

4. Pick a different route. Walking a different path makes life a little more interesting. If I’m really stuck on a WIP, sometimes it helps to work on another writing project for a while. On occasion, I also skip ahead and write a different scene in the same book—maybe a scene at the end that’s vivid in my mind.

5. Pick a different location. Maybe you need more than a new route to freshen things up. Maybe you need an entirely different location. Change your environment. It helps me if I take my laptop and go to a coffee shop. Sometimes I even sit in my van and write! I’m always amazed by how changing my location can create new ideas and renew my energy!

6. Try a different time of day. I’m not a morning person, so walking early doesn’t work for me. But early afternoon is perfect. Mix things up with your writing and try a different time of day also. Wake early or stay up late.

Whether you’re working on getting healthier or trying to reroute after a dead-end in your book, I hope some of these solutions will help you get around the block!

Click to reach Amazon.
Christy Barritt is an author, freelance writer and speaker who lives in Virginia. She's married to her Prince Charming, a man who thinks she's hilarious—but only when she's not trying to be. Christy's a self-proclaimed klutz, an avid music lover who's known for spontaneously bursting into song, and a road trip aficionado. She's only won one contest in her life—and her prize was kissing a pig (okay, okay... she did win the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Suspense and Mystery for her book Suspicious Minds also). When she's not working or spending time with her family, she enjoys singing, playing the guitar, and exploring small, unsuspecting towns where people have no idea how accident prone she is.

For more information, visit her website at: www.christybarritt.com.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Become a Book Reviewer

Hey everyone, Annette here. Last month I talked about reading in your genre. Afterward it occurred to me that a great way to explore a multitude of books in your genre is to read for review. Here are some of the perks:

~ Free copies. Publishers and authors are desperate to get word-of-mouth marketing kicked into gear even before a book releases. They do that by getting their books into book reviewers' hands. Publishers are beginning to send e-book copies for reading on your e-reader (saves bookshelf space). They often send ARCs (advanced reader copies, which are pre-proof) and you'll get to read the book before it's even released, all in exchange for an unbiased review. 

How do I get connected? Sign up with various publishers'  bloggers' networks. These allow you to choose from their collection. They generally do not require a review by a certain time, though often they'll request the review be posted on your blog as well as amazon.com, bn.com, etc. within a month of the book's release.

Another way to get connected is to sign up with various blog tour publicity, like Litfuse or Kathy Carlton Willis Communications, for example. These will require a specific timeline for posting your review. 

~ Research. Reading an abundance of books in your genre can only help you as a writer. You'll find (and honor) your own voice. You'll see what publishers are looking for. You'll watch publishing trends change. See my post from June about reading in your genre: A Key Writing Tip for more on this.

~ Build a Platform. You need to focus your blog on something, right? Why not post book reviews? I started out posting them on my main blog, but then found I was so overwhelmed with books to read for review and reviews to post, that I decided to launch a separate blog. But even if you keep it all to one, you can mix things up and post reviews occasionally. Plus, all the while, you're getting your name out there. 

~ Practice writing. Book review writing is different from book writing. Even if you normally pen non-fiction, you're still in a different mode than book review writing. But, you can let your voice shine through in those reviews. 

~ Making contacts. Long ago, I made a decision to support Christian fiction. I believe in in. (I'm sure you do too, my dear writing friends). So I work to support other writers, their books, Christian publishers, etc. That's my motivation, and through those connections, in the spirit of promotion, I've made some great friends. You never know when your review might be the best part of some struggling writer's day. The Christian publishing world is small. Keep that in mind as you share your opinions and make contacts. And focus on service. Then you can't go wrong. You'll also endear yourself to publisher house's publicists, editors, etc.

Those are just a few benefits of becoming a book reviewer. Can you think of others? Do you read for review? What kind of contacts have you made? How has reading in your genre helped you grow as a writer? 

Read on!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ask O: Manners! Five Hints for Being Critiqued

Happy Wednesday, my writing friends!

“Will you read my manuscript?” Published authors often hear this plea from bright-eyed sapling writers. When it happens to me, two things stir. First, compassion. I remember what it was like to be new and hopeful/terrified. I want to offer a hug and say, “Yes, dear, of course I will.” The other thing is anxiety. I know my schedule. If this person is new, reading the manuscript could take hours of time I don’t have. This part of me wants to run and hide or pretend I didn’t hear the question.

If you’re longing for expert eyes to help your work in progress sparkle, here are a five hints on how to handle it.

1. Offer to Pay the Going Rate
If you know an author, don’t just assume they’d be thrilled to read your magnificent prose. Published writers have worked hard, long, years on very little dough to get where they are. Many edited professionally along the way to make ends meet. Even if it’s your best friend, she/he deserves to be compensated. And don’t expect a discount. She may offer one, and if so—woo hoo!—but don’t act like you’re owed it. If your best friend was a plumber, you wouldn’t expect him/her to fix your pipes for free (would you?).

I don’t need to mention that you should always offer to pay an author you just met at a writers’ conference, right?

2. Have Patience
If the benevolent author you approached grants permission to send something to read, send it and then wait quietly, patiently. Give her time to get to it. And please don’t send another updated one, saying, “Oh, I tweaked chapter one, can you read this one instead?” Maybe you can get away with that once if you are very humble and grateful, but don’t do it repeatedly.

3. Listen and Don’t Argue
If you are a new writer, you may still be in the “Look What I Can Do!” stage. That’s when newbie writers think their work shines like Pride and Prejudice. “My prose sings,” they boast, “My characters rock, and I will be the next Bodie Thoene.” Confession: At my first conference (Oregon Christian Writers—love it!), I thought I should be in the advanced class. I was that good—so I thought. It took one day to realize all the mistakes I made and twelve more years to get my first book published.

So, trust the published author who took time to give you advice. You don’t have to integrate every bit, but honor her years of hard work by truly considering it and not coming back with reasons why her idea won’t work.

4. Don’t Expect the Whole Shebang
It’s doubtful an author could muster the time to critique your whole manuscript, (unless you pay a lot and even then she may not have time). But she might be willing to look at your first chapter. “I’d love for you to look at my first chapter. How much would you charge for that?” Doesn’t that sound nice and reasonable?

5. Think Laterally
When you go to a writers conference or make friends online, you’re sure to find folks at the same stage as you. Start by trading crits with them. There’s nothing like that writer’s bond of struggling along the same path. Plus, you’ll learn together.

Along with this, don’t forget your audience. I like to have folks who delight in historical fiction read my manuscripts. They don’t give the same kind of feedback as other writers, but I always glean perspective I could easily have missed.

Happy writing and God bless!


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Five Ways to Research by Melanie Dobson

My favorite part of “writing” isn’t the actual writing. It’s the research. I love exploring old houses and museums, tracking down experts, and reading diaries as I gather enough information to begin shaping a story. Below are five specific ways that I research in order to develop plotlines and add authenticity in both historical and contemporary novels.

Visit the Location
To research my first historical novel, I spent days exploring hidden places in Indiana homes that had once been stations along the Underground Railroad. In one house, I climbed the secret staircase hidden in a closet and crept over the exposed nails and boards to the room where the Quaker homeowners once hid runaways. I drove through the surrounding forest that night, and when I stepped out into the darkness, the owls hooted and the cloud cover masked the stars. My heart raced as I wondered what a runaway slave might have felt like in that horrible blackness, pursued by a slave hunter and his dogs.

If you can’t visit the place or places where your book is set, the terrain and photo features on mapping websites help tremendously with geographical details. If possible, though, I recommend experiencing the sounds, tastes, and scents in your setting as well.

Interview Experts and Locals
Because I write both historical and contemporary fiction, I’ve interviewed experts about everything from how to sell stolen goods online to the technicalities of delivering mail in the late 1800s. I’ve spent hours interviewing about the inner workings of the Mafia, what it was like to grow up in a religious cult, and the details of rescuing a dilapidated house. The most important interview I ever did was with an Amana woman named Emilie. I asked her a simple question—what were Amana women passionate about in the 19th century? The answer to that question—friendship—shaped my entire novel.

Explore Museums and Landmarks
Living farms, museums, and historical villages like Williamsburg or Old Salem offer a unique and educational window to the past. For my historical novels, I learned how to run a printing press in a tourist village, cook on the open hearth at an old home in Indiana, and drive an Amish buggy at a museum in Walnut Creek. While landmarks and museums are open to the public, many will give private tours to writers. Friendly tour guides are often a seemingly endless source of information.

Invade the Library
One of my novels was inspired by a beautiful mansion in Ohio that had been built before the Civil War. As I tried to find information about this house, the town’s librarian uncovered a research paper written sixty years ago that included pictures of the mansion, historical detail, and folklore about a secret tunnel that ran—and maybe still runs—underneath. This one paper gave me the information I needed for the details of my fictional house and helped form my plot.

Newspapers, magazines, diaries, archived research papers, and of course, books provide basics like how people dressed and what they ate during a specific era as well as more abstract concepts like how they approached life and what world events shaped their thinking.

Surf the Web
How did writers write before the Internet? I ask myself this question almost every day as I search for specific words or facts online. The most effective way I’ve been able to use the Internet is to establish contacts where I can get additional information about a difficult research topic. In one novel, for example, I needed specifics on how a telephone would work in 1890, but I couldn’t seem to find this info anywhere. Then I found someone online who sold phones from this era, and we dialogued via email until I had my answers.

Once I have completed my research, I organize it and input it into Scrivener. Then it’s time for me to stop researching and begin using the research instead to write my next novel.

About Melanie
Melanie Dobson has written eleven contemporary and historical novels including five releases in Summerside’s Love Finds You series. In 2011, two of her releases won Carol Awards: Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa (for historical romance) and The Silent Order (for romantic suspense). Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana won Best Book of Indiana (fiction) in 2010.

She enjoys the research process that comes along with being an author of historical fiction so much that she often has a difficult time stopping the research on the history and locale in order to start the writing. Because Melanie visits each location she writes about, she’s been able to spend time in the beautiful and fascinating towns across the country that bring her stories to life.

Prior to her writing career, Melanie was the corporate publicity manager at Focus on the Family and a publicist for The Family Channel. She met her husband, Jon, in Colorado Springs, but since they've been married, the Dobsons have relocated numerous times including stints in Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Berlin, and Southern California. Along with their two daughters, Karly and Kiki, they now enjoy their home in the Pacific Northwest. The entire Dobson family loves to travel and hike in both the mountains and along the cliffs above the Pacific.

For more about Melanie Dobson and her books, visit www.melaniedobson.com.

About Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan
As the Gilded Age comes to a close, Elena Bissette’s once-wealthy family has nearly lost its fortune. The Bissettes still own a home on fashionable Mackinac Island, where they will spend one last summer in the hope of introducing Elena to a wealthy suitor. But Elena is repulsed by the idea of marrying for money. Quickly tiring of the extravagant balls, she spends most evenings escaping back into Mackinac’s rugged forest. There she meets Chase, a handsome laborer who shares her love for the night sky. The two begin to meet in secret at an abandoned lighthouse, where they work together to solve a mystery buried in the pages of a tattered diary.

As Elena falls in love with Chase, her mother relentlessly contrives to introduce her to Chester Darrington, the island’s most eligible bachelor. Marriage to the elusive millionaire would solve the Bissettes’ financial woes, and Elena is torn between duty and love.

For details about a Kindle Fire giveaway for the Mackinac Island release: http://promoshq.wildfireapp.com/website/6/contests/259699

Monday, July 23, 2012

Build it Right Series: Layer the Finishing Details by Dora Hiers

Layer the Finishing Details: Sensory Details
Build it Right series
by Dora Hiers

How sweet are your words to my taste, 
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
(Psalm 119:103 NIV)

The mason lathers mortar on the last brick and slaps it in place. Your eyes widen. Your heart beats a frantic rhythm. A smile lights up your face. “Wow! Hello house!” 

You’re excited because you know the end is near. But the house isn’t done yet. Other things need to happen on the inside before you can move in. Final tasks like painting, installing cabinets and appliances.

The same goes for our writing. We’ve cemented our foundation and joined cohesive elements, but for our story to light up our readers, we must add some finishing touches.

Layer sensory details.

Think back to the last time you received new prescription lenses. How much clearer, more sharp or vivid, was your vision after putting on the new lenses? Sprinkling sensory details makes our writing crisp, brings it into focus, and makes the story literally dance off the page. 

Let’s have some fun.

How many sensory details can you find in this excerpt from Journey’s Edge?

Her face plowed into an expansive, muscular chest. Strong hands grabbed McKinley’s upper arms. A vague, familiar smell permeated the man’s torso, a citrus and woodsy scent mingled with masculine deodorant. She heard the door close behind her and felt legs wimp out on her. Good thing this guy held her up or she would have sank straight to the floor like a pile of spaghetti. She angled a hand to eject chest hair from her tongue, trying not to make a face.

“Honey, if you’re looking for that kind of action, you’ve got the wrong room.”

Now you try it. In one or two paragraphs, write the following scene with as many sensory details as you can fit in.

After crying herself to sleep, the next morning Delaney follows the scent of coffee and stumbles into her tiny kitchen, frightened to find a man making chocolate chip pancakes. She didn’t know that Sage, a friend she’s secretly been in love with forever, spent the night on the couch. 

Give it a shot. You know you want to try…

Have you added finishing details to make your story shine? 

Join us next week as we celebrate success, hold a Housewarming Party, and consider our next project.

Journey's Edge:

A Routine Audit? Hardly. Red flags-including some goon who's following her-raise McKinley Frasier's suspicions that numbers don't add up at the insurance firm. When someone tries to snatch McKinley's daughter from school, she turns to police officer and ex-fiance, Renner Crossman-the cop who walked out on her a month before their wedding. But Renner's not the same guy who broke her heart ten years ago. He calls himself a "new man." She trusts the new Renner with her daughter's safety...but what about her heart?  

(print)                 (e-book)

After a successful auditing career, Dora Hiers left the corporate world to be a stay-at-home mom to her two sons. When her youngest son didn’t want her hanging out at school with him anymore, Dora started writing heart racing, God-gracing books. Dora belongs to the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Carolina Christian Writers. Her first inspirational romance, Journey’s End, released with White Rose Publishing in 2011, and her second, Journey’s Edge released in March 2012. White Rose also contracted her third book in the Marshals of Journey Creek series, Journey’s Embrace, and her first short romance, Small Town Treasure. Dora and her husband make their home in Kannapolis, North Carolina. 

Connect with Dora:

Website: www.dorahiers.com
Email: Dora@DoraHiers.com
Facebook: Dora Hiers Author
Twitter: @DoraHiers

Friday, July 20, 2012

Writing Toward Excellence: The Ten Thousand Hour Rule By Dorothy Love

How many times has someone mentioned to you that they’d like to write a book—or that they have a great idea for a book? I’ve heard those statements, or similar ones, more than once. Sometimes people come across as thinking it’s not that difficult to write and get published. And if you haven’t succeeded, what’s wrong? Those of us who have been writing for awhile know how much work it actually takes to get even close to being “good” at it. Or do we? Today, author Dorothy Love shares interesting and encouraging information. ~ Dawn

Writing Toward Excellence: 
The Ten Thousand Hour Rule

By Dorothy Love

You’re discouraged. Contest judges, agents and editors are less than enthusiastic about your most recent effort.  Maybe time constraints are weighing you down. A second job eats up most of your productive hours. Kids must be driven to and fro. A parent gets sick and suddenly you’re a caregiver. Off and on for years, you’ve worked on a novel. Or many novels. Or a nonfiction book you’re dying to publish. You despair of ever landing that first contract , or you’re worrying that your first books won’t be good enough to land you a second one. You wonder whether you should give up.

Here’s my question: How many hours, total, have you devoted to your writing?  Five hundred? A thousand? Five thousand?

In his fascinating book, Outliers The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell  describes a study conducted at the Berlin Academy of Music. With the advice of the academy’s professors, a team of psychologists divided the school’s violinists into three groups. In the first group were the excellent musicians, the so-called “stars.” In the second group were those judged to be “good.”  The third group comprised of students with the least potential to ever play professionally.  All of them had begun playing at around five years of age, and for the first few years, all of them practiced for two or three hours a week. But beginning at around age eight, the students who would end up in the “excellent” group began practicing more than anyone else: six hours a week by age 9, eight hours a week by age 12, sixteen hours a week by age 14, until at age 20, they were playing and practicing over 30 hours a week.  By the age of 20, the “stars” had totaled ten thousand hours of practice, in contrast to the “good” players who had amassed eight thousand hours, while those in the bottom group had practiced a total of around four thousand hours. 

Studies of basketball players, chess players, master criminals, and yes, fiction writers yielded similar results.  Neurologist Daniel Levitin: “… ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world class expert—in anything. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.”

What can writers learn from this?

To move from average to good to excellent, you must write with intent, with an inclination of spirit and soul, with an eagerness to work and to improve.  Secondly, be patient. Unless you have a trust fund that allows you to write to the exclusion of all else, it will take a very long time to get to the ten thousand hour mark. But every hour that you are writing or revising counts toward that goal of excellence.  Don’t quit before you get there. 

How many hours have you practiced so far? How many hours did you practice today?

Click to reach Amazon.
Award winning author Dorothy Love is the author of sixteen novels for preteens, young adults and adults. After a long career in the general market, in 2009 she moved to Thomas Nelson to write Southern historical fiction. Her popular Hickory Ridge series winds up this November with publication of EVERY PERFECT GIFT.  Currently she’s working on a new historical novel set in the South Carolina Lowcountry, set for publication in 2013.

To find out more about Dorothy and her books, please visit:

twitter: WriterDorothy