Thursday, May 31, 2018

When Writing Goals Become Idols By Yvonne Weers

Hello, writers! My name is Yvonne Weers and I’m here to talk about what happens when a writing goal becomes an unhealthy obsession.

Have you ever been stuck on a ladder? Let’s just say that I know what it’s like to be frozen in fear. After staring at white knuckles for what seemed like an hour, it took a group of people to guide me down, rung by rung, until I reached solid ground.

This traumatic event sprang to mind recently during my quiet time as I heard God ask me to let go of a writing goal. I was reading the story of Abraham (Genesis 22:9-13), when God asked him to sacrifice his only son Isaac on the alter. I confess, I’ve always struggled with this story. Eventually, God provided a ram for the sacrifice, so it does have a happy ending.

Nonetheless, I wondered why God would ask such a thing? It seems over the top, unfair, and even cruel. Then it struck me that it’s possible Abraham might have put Isaac before God. As I pondered this, I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to let go of a goal that I knew in my heart had become an idol.   

It all began last year when I was determined to sell to a popular women’s magazine. I’d been asked to critique with a group of incredibly talented writers and jumped at the opportunity. Between the five of us, we’d written, critiqued, and submitted more than 50 short stories, but only one of us sold.

I found myself getting frustrated and decided to “make it happen” at all costs. I put it in front of my health, family, and obligations, until tragedy struck our critique group. One of our members passed away after a long battle with cancer. Suddenly, my goal rang hollow in the wake of losing a friend.

After the shock, and much contemplation, I decided I’d had an unhealthy obsession to get published with this magazine. I had to open my clenched fist and allow God to guide me back to solid ground. Does this mean I’ll never pen another short story and submit it? No. It just means that it won’t be the focus of my thoughts like it did before.

As a critique group, we’d decided to move on to other endeavors. But it didn’t seem right to throw in the towel, as Karen wouldn't have wanted it that way. She was our biggest cheerleader and believed in our talents. So, in response to our grief, the four of us decided to self-publish a collection of short romance stories and dedicate it to Karen.

Since that time, I’ve relaxed the grip I had around my writing goal and let God pour His blessing into my open hand. The new project helped me grieve, stay connected to our group, and make new, healthier writing goals. I don’t know where I’d be without God’s patience and the prayers and support of several critique groups in my life.
 
Is God asking you to open your clenched fist today? I’m guessing that at some point we’ve all had to let go of an idol and climb down the ladder of unhealthy obsession. I hope you’ll discover that the sweetest blessings come through obedience.
Today, I’m honored to share Short & Sweet: 10-Minute Romances to Warm Your Heart. A collection of short stories written by Kadee McDonald, Bonny Dahlsrud, Beth Boyden, and myself, which is due for release on June 15th, and available for preorder today by following this link. I hope you enjoy our anthology as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing my journey with you.

 
AVAILABLE NOW FOR PREORDER!  Click here!
 

Short & Sweet: 10-Minute Romances to Warm Your Heart, out June 15, 2018.
 
Do you love reading sweet romance, but can never find the time for a nice long novel or even a shorter novella? This volume of 20 love stories from four talented authors is the answer! Read one (or more!) at lunch, on a coffee break, while riding the bus to work, or even while waiting for an appointment at the doctor's office. a matchmaking grandma hopes to knit two hearts into one. A guy meets his dream girl on a commuter train, but a misunderstanding causes a sticky situation. Mistaken identity at a library leads to a new romance. And a meeting of The Red Hat Society brings two sweethearts back together after time and distance have kept them apart. Settle back and savor these short, sweet romances guaranteed to warm your heart. Enjoy! ♥
 
Yvonne Weers is a California transplant living in rural Nebraska with her husband of 33 years. Together they have two adult children, a daughter-in-law, and three crazy doodle dogs. She spent childhood summers lounging on beaches, riding horses, and has lived in South Africa and Taiwan. Yvonne writes wholesome romance for the cowgirl at heart. Connect with her at: www.yvonneweers.com.  

 
 
 
 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Working Through Dry Times by Jodie Wolfe

Up until a little over a year ago, I'd always heard about the infamous 'writer's block' although I'd never truly experienced it. I was used to sitting down and for the most part, the words flowed freely. But then… I got hit with multiple waves of stress levels coming from several different areas in my life. It was the kind of stress that didn't let up throughout that time period. Each day I could feel the chipping away at my confidence level concerning my writing ability. Doubts flooded in making it difficult to move forward. I felt as dry spiritually, physically, emotionally, and creatively as someone who crossed the Sahara Dessert with only a trickle of water to sustain them each day.

What got me through this difficult time? At first I just squared my shoulders to take the situations head-on, but when I got slammed with continual blasts of stress and criticism I found that wasn't enough. I prayed but didn't seem to be making any headway. I no sooner felt like I was making progress only to get punched again from a different direction. To be honest, I could identify with the man that Jesus mentioned in the story of the Good Samaritan.

A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him, beat him up, and fled, leaving him half dead. - Luke 10:30 (HCSB)

I was bruised and wounded.

What got me out of the slump? Continuing to pray and placing everything in God's hands over and over again. I humbled myself and asked others to pray for me. I didn't always give them details of the situations but simply mentioned my need to be covered in prayer. My husband stood by me throughout the whole ordeal offering encouragement and prayer support. I delved into a Bible study and scheduled time away. I made a specific choice to let go of bitterness and not allow hurt to rob me of God's joy. I determined not to stress about the lack of words but instead trust that when it was time to write again, the Lord would provide.

It's taken a long while, but I'm finally on the 'other' side. I honestly don't know why God had me go through all the stress of this past year. But I rely on the fact that I can trust Him. I choose to walk in His joy, not in bitterness… and the words are beginning to flow again.

What do you do when you're faced with times of writer's block? How do you work through it?


~~~~~~


Jodie Wolfe creates novels where hope and quirky meet. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA) and has been a semi-finalist and finalist in various writing contests. A former columnist for Home School Enrichment magazine, her articles can be found online at: Crosswalk, Christian Devotions, and Heirloom Audio. She's a contributor for Putting on the New and Stitches Thru Time blogs. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her husband in Pennsylvania, reading, walking, and being a Grammie. Learn more at www.jodiewolfe.com.


To Claim Her Heart
 
In 1893, on the eve of the great race for land, Benjamin David prays for God to guide him to his 'Promised Land. Finding property and preaching to the lost are his only ways of honoring his deceased fiancée. He hasn't counted on Elmer (Elsie) Smith claiming the same plot and refusing to leave. Not only is she a burr in his side, but she is full of the homesteading know-how he is sadly lacking.

Obtaining a claim in the Cherokee Strip Land Run is Elsie Smith's only hope for survival, and not just any plot, she has a specific one in mind. The land's not only a way to honor her pa and his life, but also to provide a livelihood for herself. She's willing to put in whatever it takes to get that piece of property, and Elsie's determined to keep it.

Her bitterness is what protects her, and she has no intentions of allowing that preacher to lay claim to her land . . . or her heart.

Links:





Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15220520.Jodie_Wolfe

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Finding a Writer Friend by Angela Arndt

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Writing is a solitary profession. Have you ever seen a writer on deadline who could go for days with minimal contact? It's funny how we spend most of the time in front of a computer, trying to create a fictional world while we shut out the real one.

What is a "Writer Friend" and Why Do We Need One?

My husband is a beekeeper. Every day he works with his honeybees, learning how to raise queens, split hives, treat for mites, etc. Now y'all, I do love my husband, but when he starts talking about any of the above, honestly, my eyes glaze over. And his eyes do the same when I talk about character creation and building story worlds. He and I have a great relationship but our interests differ.

Writers need writer friends. It takes another writer to understand why I'd pour a year of my life into a several hundred pages of story that will be consumed by my readers in a short period of time.



How to Find a Writer Friend

So where do we find an understanding writer friend? Here's an easy way to do it:
  1. Find a group of writers. 
I know Facebook is falling out of favor with the younger crowd, but it’s a great place to start and it's FREE. 

In the Facebook search box, type “Christian Writers,” “Christian writers group,” “Christian Fiction Writers,” or whatever interests you. Hit enter, then click "Groups" near the top of the page.

    If you want to find a local group, use a search engine like Google or Safari to search for a writer's group in the town near you.
  2. Join and participate. That's it. The online method is a little easier for introverts because all communication's done from the comfort of your home. Extroverts may enjoy a local group meeting even if it does take a little extra time, effort, and courage.  

It's all about the Relationship

Writers are observers and recorders: listening in on conversations for dialogue ideas, staring up into the sky to remember the name of the perfect color of a sweater, or reliving a painful event in our minds so that we can put characters through the same trauma. We do all this to connect with our readers.

Work just as hard to make new writer friends. Remember the old adage, "To find a friend, be a friend." Comment in groups, on blogs, and go to physical meetings. Offer to read a chapter or two. And keep writing. You'll soon find a friend.


The Ultimate Friend

Have you ever seen a rose missing a few petals? It’s lopsided. Sad-looking. And it reminds me of a writer trying to do it all alone. 

No one can do that. Not even a spouse or close friend can complete us. But God promised to strengthen us, help us and hold us. Whether you find a writer friend or not, God is always there for us, helping us when we’re missing a few petals. He's our ultimate friend.

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How to find a #Writer Friend by Angela Arndt @aearndt on #SeriouslyWrite https://bit.ly/2sdrTJS #writinglife 

"I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10b @aearndt on #SeriouslyWrite #writinglife https://bit.ly/2sdrTJS 



About the Author

Angela Arndt
Angela Arndt
 is Jesus-follower and God-lover. She loves to write women’s fiction with a thread of romance and tell stories of strong, independent women in difficult situations. Her biggest hope is that she will encourage others to overcome their own “back roads” to find their joy in the Lord.

She and her husband, Charles, live on a bee farm in the middle of a big wood with their three furbabies: Beau, Harley, and Buddy the Wonder Dog.

She'd love for you to join her on her websiteblogTwitterInstagram, or Facebook.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Doin' It Right by Mary Manners

Doin' It Right

by Mary Manners
 
 
“If you’re going to do something, then do it right.”
            Those words, spoken by my father, came to me the winter of my thirteenth year as I delivered newspapers along my route on the streets of Elmwood Park, a suburb of Chicago. It was the winter of 1976 and we were in the clutch of a terrific, trademark Chicago blizzard. The streets were buried in three-foot drifts and my fingers ached with a bone-freezing chill through two pairs of wool gloves as I tossed rolled newspapers from the passenger window of our beat-up Chevy station wagon while my dad navigated the icy terrain. He usually didn’t chauffer me; I rode the six-mile route on my bike with papers nestled neatly into a burlap sack woven across the handlebars. But, today he’d decided the snow was a little more than my bubblegum-pink bike could handle, hence the unsolicited lesson in proper newspaper delivery. I really didn’t care what his thoughts were at the time; all I wanted was to get home to the warmth of our living room. Yet, with each paper that missed its mark Dad made me exit the car, retrieve the paper, and walk it up to the customer’s cleared front porch.
            I was a bit—okay, more than a bit—miffed at him that day, as it took several hours to finish the route and I was sure I’d permanently lost the use of a couple of fingers and toes in the process. But, as the following days passed, Dad’s words stayed with me. If you’re going to do something, then do it right. Little did I understand at the time that they would become a cornerstone of my work ethic over the decades to come, guiding me from a naive teenager to an award-winning teacher and principal, as well as a published author.
            With Dad’s encouragement, in the months and years to come I wrote and read everything I could devour, and then wrote and wrote and read some more. I was blessed to also have wonderful teachers along the way, who took the time to lift me up, to ask about my writing, to talk with me as if both my dreams and I truly mattered.
            Over the years, writing has become a part of me so huge that I cannot imagine life without it. Removing writing from my life would be like attempting to live without breathing—impossible. I have continued to write through moves from Chicago to the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee, through college, marriage, career changes, and the deaths of both my parents.
I have never, ever stopped writing, and I try my best to pay that encouragement forward. Recently, two former students approached me and, with smiles plastered on their radiant faces said, “When we get published, we’re going to dedicate our book to you.” One of those words, above all the others, made my heart sing—they said when, not if. Sweet music to my ears, as I have managed to pass along the confidence that was instilled in me by several sweet souls who cared along the way.
 
Sometimes the best life lesson comes in the form of advice from your dad while delivering newspapers on the icy streets of Chicago during a blizzard—if you’re going to do something, then do it right.
 
~~~~~
 
 
A heartbreaking secret stands between Brianna and Jackson, and she plans to keep it that way...
 
When Brianna Caufield hosts an online auction to raise money for her fledgling youth center, the last thing she expects is to be matched for a date with Jackson Reed. Lured by the fame of an NFL career, the hometown hero and all-star quarterback broke off their engagement without so much as a backward glance. Now, washed-up and wiser, Jack’s come home with renewed faith and a changed heart—and he wants Brianna back.
 
No matter how much she still cares for Jackson, Brianna knows the secret she harbors will destroy any chance of a future together. Can Jack find a way to coax the secret to the surface? And if he does, will forgiveness draw them closer together…or will their love be shattered forever?
 
~~~~~
 
Mary Manners is a country girl at heart who has spent a lifetime sharing her joy of writing. She has two sons, a daughter, and three beautiful grandchildren. She lives in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and their rescue dog Axel, two rescue cats, Colby and Jax, 12 chickens and 13 fish.
Mary writes stories full of faith and hope. Her books have earned multiple accolades including two Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, the Aspen Gold, the Heart of Excellence, and the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award.
 
Mary loves long sunrise runs, Smoky Mountain sunsets, and flavored coffee. She enjoys connecting with reader friends through her website: www.MaryMannersRomance.com.
 

 
 
 
 

 
 


Friday, May 25, 2018

A Heart’s Desire by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson

My wife has been reading Jen Hatmaker’s book, Interrupted. She’s been reading me excerpts that have caused her to pause and examine her life. Generally speaking (because I have not read the book), Hatmaker challenges the reader to examine a life of luxury, comfort, and ministering to the saved only. It asks crucial questions about how we Americans live our lives, especially those of us within the sanctuary walls.

Of course, this “debate” is as old as the church herself. It actually predates the church and can be found in the Old Testament as well. Israel was blessed over and over again, only to wish God away for earthly kings and foreign gods. The Sanhedrin was nothing more than an Israeli form of our Congress in Washington, D.C., with liberals and conservatives, duking it out politically and religiously, all the while making sure their well-to-do lifestyle wasn’t negatively impacted.

It’s a constant trouble for those who live in affluent cultures, isn’t it? Having been born in one myself, like many of you reading this blog, it’s all I’ve even known. Sure, we’ve moved around from state to state. We’ve had very little. We’ve had plenty. But regardless of the situation or the time in our lives, God has always provided. His supply was not relative to our situation.

I remember one Christmas when our oldest daughter was just a toddler. We literally had $20 to spend on Christmas. For the whole family of three. I remember buying my wife a bag of mini-snickers (one her favorite candy bars) and individually wrapping each one before placing them in her stocking. It was about the quantity of the solace that year. Stretching that $20 in ways we’ve never done since. And yet, we remark about how that is one of our most beloved memories. It wasn’t about the gifts. It was about the giving. It wasn’t about the stockings or the stacks of presents. It was about the sacrifice.

So, after having a discussion with Cindy about Jen Hatmaker’s book late into the night not too long ago, I was on my way to work the next morning. The conversation made me wonder about my “heart” when it comes to this writer’s life we blog about here at SW. One of the desires of my heart (cf. Psalm 37:1-4) has always been “to be able to write full-time.” To have this “Plan B,” hobby-sort-of-thing—that has turned into a second job—flourish enough to let me dwell in green pastures with my laptop resting…, well, on my lap….while I sit on a balcony overlooking the ocean…or against an old oak tree in the middle of a forty acre swath of the Smoky Mountains.

But to realize this “dream” (some would call it “the America Dream”), I would have to give up being an assistant principal at a middle school.

A Christian AP at a public middle school.

Some would say the mission field doesn’t get any more fertile than right there.

Jen Hatmaker would probably say that God has me right where He wants me, so why would I want to do anything else? Why would I want to walk away from such a plentiful harvest as this?

Could it be because the affluent trappings of my society have encapsulated (some would probably argue “handcuffed”) my notions of what’s important? In an ever-increasing, darkening world, where more and more homes are broken, where more and more children are classified as homeless, where it seems the world is bent on burning itself to the ground, could it be that my heart’s desire is overriding God’s? And isn’t that usually what happens in affluent societies?

I’m sure I know God and His Word well enough to know this: He’s not in the business of crushing our dreams or our heart’s desire. He just wants them to align with His Will first. To do this is to walk in the footsteps of Christ. Jesus was sent to this groaning creation for the sole purpose of doing the will of God (John 6:35-40). That “Will” was to see to it that whosoever may come could do so.

So, maybe, like Jesus, my heart’s desire must become God’s desire. My will must bend to God’s until it is gloriously broken. And then, and only then, will my heart’s desire be granted.

But that’s the rub, isn’t it? When our will breaks, and God’s will overtakes us, does our “heart’s desire” (e.g., my desire to be a full-time writer on an ocean balcony) truly die? Or does it start to maneuver itself and argue, like it is some kind of hostage negotiation?

If I am truly following Christ, “my will” must be taken up daily, dragged up the hill to Golgotha, and put to death so that I may truly live (Luke 9:23-26).






A Clandestine Mission.
A Cryptic Message.
A Chaste Promise.

Blake Meyer dreamed of a peaceful end to a dutiful career with the FBI. Married now, his life was taking him in a new direction—a desk job. He would be an analyst. Ride it out until retirement. Be safe so he could enjoy his grandchildren some day.

But when a notable member of the IRA is murdered in a London flat, Blake’s secretive past propels him into the middle of a vindictive, international scheme so hellish and horrific, it will take everything Blake possesses—all of it—to save the United States from the most diabolical terrorist attack to date.



C. KEVIN THOMPSON is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a kid at heart. Often referred to as “crazy” by his grandchildren, it’s only because he is. He’s a writer. Need he say more?

The first three books of his Blake Meyer Thriller series are out! Book 1, 30 Days Hath Revenge and Book 2, Triple Time, are available! Book 3, The Tide of Times, just released in October! All three are on sale through New Year’s Eve! Also, the second edition of his award-winning debut novel, The Serpent’s Grasp, is now available!

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too. It’s quite elementary, actually.

Website:                                www.ckevinthompson.com/
Kevin’s Writer’s Blog:         www.ckevinthompson.blogspot.com/
Facebook:                              C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page
Twitter:                                  @CKevinThompson
Goodreads:                            C. Kevin Thompson






Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Villain's Bio by Laurel Thomas


Big and hairy, green teeth dripping with goo. You get the idea. It’s a villain. 
 
No matter what he, she or it looks like, a bad guy’s primary goal is to shut down the good guy. The protagonist needs to make forward motion and for whatever reason, the villain disagrees.
 
In good fiction, the bad guy isn’t obvious or at least has some believable reason for a twisted point of view. People are complicated and it’s no different for an effective antagonist.
 
My laptop is open without interruption – a rare moment. From my perch at the kitchen counter, I notice little piles here and there, bills waiting to be paid and laundry to done. 
 
But I need to write. 
 
Today, I plow through the angst of choosing a career with no concrete list of orders each morning (unless I make one) or time-clock (unless my alarm counts), and where success eludes me if I don’t move myself forward.  
 
A blank screen is intimidating, of course. But something more sinister lurks. As diabolical as a genetically-designed Godzilla in Jurassic World, it’s tailor-made to shut me down. It comes to devour my journey. This villain has studied me, knows my quirks, failures and mistakes. 
 
But unlike some monster creeping in the shadows, this villain is me. At least until I decide to resign that role. 
 
My writing is a journey. It unfolds as I move forward. It evolves through surprises, plot twists and lots of conflict. It won’t end until I decide to stop. 
 
Like the protagonist in my favorite novel, I may be unaware of how formidable that bad guy can be. And what the stakes are if I give in and quit. 
 
Villain-talk goes something like this: 
 
My last query got rejected fifteen times. It must be a sign. Wrong career.
 
I’m staring at a blank screen. It’s a sign. I have no more fresh ideas.
 
I’ve written myself into a corner as a fiction writer. It’s a sign. Toss it out the manuscript. 
 
There are big structure problems in my novel. It’s a sign. The whole story is flawed.
 
Another day without writing? No big deal.
 
A week without writing? Better quit. Too hard to take it up now.
 
My writer friends are multi-published. Where’s my success?
 
(Remember that adding It’s a sign gathers a weight of the ages on already tired shoulders.)
 
The surest way to foil a crafty bad guy is to understand his tactics, to discern his mode of operandum. Does he gather other bad guys to help? Does he undermine confidence, slander reputation or isolate with shame? What tactics do I use against myself on a bad day?
 
Opposition doesn’t have to work against me. It can stir me to persevere, to hone my craft by learning and investing more into my journey. It can make me shine. 
 
Pressure can uncover a well in me that isn’t dry after all. Or prove that I’ve learned good instincts after plowing through all those conferences, critiques and evaluations. 
 
The crux of a great story always has a villain. It just shouldn’t be me. Or you. Because without us, our stories go nowhere.  
 
Resolve to be your own best champion. You’ve got a great story. Keep writing it! 

A former high school English teacher, Laurel Thomas has written for magazines such as Guideposts, Mysterious Ways and others. In addition to her foray into fiction with her first novel, Laurel has ghosted books and edited others. As general administrator of Write Well, Sell Well OKC, she helps facilitate an annual conference and other opportunities to equip writers.  
 
Laurel holds degrees in English and Counseling. She is a chaplain for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations, as well as being a lay pastor at Church on the Rock, Oklahoma City, OK. 
 
Check out her blog at freefreshbread@wordpress.com and her website at www.laurelthomas.org