Thursday, February 28, 2019

5 Tips For Writing Romance Novels By Linda Goodnight

Linda Goodnight offers some practical advice on how to write a better romance.

Tip #1 - A romance novel starts with great characters.

Make them strong, realistic, flawed, sympathetic characters that we can like. Even if he’s a damaged bad boy in need of redemption, the hero should be a man with deep worth, a true hero whose actions
show he respects and admires the heroine even as he’s struggling not to fall in love with her. Create a heroine worthy of that respect and admiration. Whiney, wimpy, helpless heroines without their own goals and dreams turn today’s readers off.

Tip #2 - Create realistic conflicts.
One of the major complaints against romance novels in the past has been silly, contrived conflicts. To avoid this, think of your characters as people. Real people have problems, fears, inner wounds, etc. Notice how these are all internal. While a romance may include an external issue between the main characters to move the story along, their main
conflict is internal.

Tip #3 - Focus on the emotional journey
Go deep inside your characters, figure out their emotional baggage, what hurts them, what are they afraid of, etc., and then show those emotions on the page. The heart of your book is inside your characters. Letting the reader see this internal angst adds to the conflict discussed in #2 and creates motivation for the character’s behavior.

Tip #4 - Keep the romantic relationship front and center.
While it’s great to include interesting subplots, always bring your reader back to the reason for the novel--the developing relationship between the man and woman.

Tip #5 - The Happy Ever After is a must in romance novels.
Consider it the emotional pay–off your reader has been longing for. This union of two hearts, this transformation from alone to committed love, is why she/he has followed the characters through all their trials. Don’t skimp on it. Tie up the plot’s loose ends and finish the story with an “ahhh” moment. If your reader tears up or swoons or smiles as she
closes the book, chances are she’ll be back for another of your stories.

"I could give you dozens of tips for writing a good romance novel..."    Linda Goodnight

NY Times and USA Bestseller, Linda Goodnight writes novels to touch the heart as well as to entertain. Her emotional stories of hope have won the RITA, the Carol, the Reviewer's Choice, and numerous other industry awards. A small town girl, Linda remains close to her roots, making her home in rural Oklahoma. She and husband have a blended family of eight, including two teenagers recently adopted from Ukraine. Many of her books are about family and children and rightly so, as she draws her deeply emotional stories from her surroundings, her great love of family, and from personal experiences as a nurse and teacher. Connect with Linda on Facebook, Twitter, or at

This post originally appeared on the Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writer's Blog in January 2018.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Take a Story Vacation by Karen Barnett

Narnia, Middle Earth, the Hundred Acre wood—those of us who love to read can easily rattle off the favorite places we’ve visited thanks to the pages of a great book. I still think of Catherine Marshall’s Christy whenever someone talks about Appalachia and Huckleberry Finn’s raft when I hear references to the Mississippi.

One of my writing goals has always been to make my novels’ settings so significant that readers fall in love with the place as much as the characters. How do you accomplish this?

Put the setting to work

Rather than just choosing an intriguing location (who doesn’t want to set a novel in Hawaii or Paris?), think of how the setting can create tension for your character. How will they interact with their environment? A city boy might chafe at small town existence, while a rancher might think the same community is overcrowded. A woman who escapes her busy life by cruising the Caribbean might find herself caught in a hurricane. A lonely girl finds solace in a forgotten garden (sound familiar?).

In other words, the setting should be more than a lovely backdrop. It should create rewards and challenges unique to each character.

Breathe life into your location

Readers no longer have the patience for lengthy paragraphs of description. You can avoid the glazed eyes by showing the character interacting with the environment instead.

  • The sun beat down on her bare arms. Another hour and she’d move from glowing to “extra crispy.”
  • How was a man supposed to sleep with the unceasing drone of cicadas?
  • She breathed in the familiar scent of damp moss and pine needles. 

Use sensory detail to bring your setting to life. Smells, sounds, and tastes will solidify the place in readers’ minds.

Real place or fictional?

Many readers dream of visiting the fictional towns of Mitford (Jan Karon), Cedar Cover (Debbie Macomber), and Blessing, North Dakota (Lauraine Snelling). There can be certain advantages to designing your own location. No one will question your accuracy and you can create a community as loving and supportive—or as dark and mysterious—as your plot demands.

If you set your novel in a real location, anyone who has visited will automatically feel a sense of connection with your story. Reading your book might feel like going home, assuming you get it right. Plus, if a community falls in love with the story you’ve written about them, they’ll recommend it far and wide.

I write novels set in the national parks, and I frequently receive notes from readers who are delighted to read about a park they love. A unique setting can intrigue readers, even before they meet the characters. Opening that first page can be a bit like heading off on vacation.

In fact, a story-vacation sounds pretty good right now! I’m in the mood to visit a fascinating location via a great novel. 

Can you suggest a book with an intriguing setting?


KAREN BARNETT, author of the Vintage National Parks novels, worked as a ranger and outdoor educator at Mount Rainier National Park and Oregon’s Silver Falls State Park. When not writing, Karen enjoys photography, hiking, and public speaking. She lives in Oregon with her family.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

When the Ordinary Becomes a Burden

It's my pleasure to introduce Sondra Kraak, another of our Aspiring Tuesday contributors. She's an accomplished indie author who writes historical romance, rich with soul-stirring depth. Prepare to be convicted and inspired in your writing journey.

Sometimes I get hungry. My laundry stinks. My kids need attention (really?!). I have a job to go to, which involves spending time in my car. Dust appears around my house (how rude). My dentist tells me to floss and brush. And the more tea I drink, the more trips to the bathroom I make (inconvenient!).
Life takes time. Time away from my writing, which is more important, right? I don’t want to cook. I don’t want to clean toilets. I don’t want to . . .
Be human? Is that really what I’m thinking when I’m resenting everyday tasks?
To be human is to be embodied, to have needs and limits, to have a routine of the ordinary. When God created humans, he called them very good, and part of that very good includes a body that must be cared for.
Increasingly in our culture, we are finding ways to dis-embody ourselves, to distance ourselves from what it means to live in a physical world. Our obsession with devices means we can interact with others without being with them. We can entertain ourselves on a screen without moving a muscle. We are even designing a car that drives itself—because why should we have to do something physical if a machine can do it for us?
What does this have to do with writing? Simply this: it’s easy as writers to resent the boring, necessary things of life that seem more of a nuisance than a blessing. It’s easy to want to clear off our to-do list anything that gets in the way of our writing time.
But what if these ordinary things that seem like a burden are vital for our task as writers?
When the ordinary becomes a burden, it’s time to reorient our thinking. It’s time to rejoice that we are human and give ourselves fully to the task of being alive. 
Here are some hints for thinking holistically about life:
·     Embrace the ordinary tasks that make you who you are. Your day job. Your role as a parent. Cleaning your house. Exercising. Rejoice that you are a whole creature: body, mind, heart. The healthier you, the stronger you will write. Stewarding your body carries over to stewarding the gifts God has given you.

·     Become a life observer by being fully present in your task. If you are stirring soup, stir that soup with gratitude for the availability of resources, and the joy of eating. The next time your character is stirring soup, you will pour into that scene the authenticity of experience. Everything you do becomes research for the stories you tell.

·      Pair ordinary tasks with writerly tasks. Plot while grocery shopping. Dictate a scene while weeding. Research the nature of forgiveness while eating dinner with your spouse or friends. Ask them about their struggles to forgive and you’ll have a character journey. Don’t compartmentalize life so that writing stays in its own box.

What would you add?

Sondra Kraak, a native of Washington State, grew up playing in the rain, hammering out Chopin at the piano, and running up and down the basketball court. Now settled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children, Instagramming about spiritual truths, and writing historical romance set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She delights in sharing stories that not only entertain but nourish the soul. Her debut novel, One Plus One Equals Trouble, was an ACFW Genesis semi-finalist and the winner of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Unpublished Women's Fiction Award. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook and join her newsletter for a free short story and information about special devotional series.

Connect with Sondra
The one room schoolhouse isn’t big enough to hold thirty-four students, let alone the egos of two teachers. He can’t afford to lose the position, and she refuses to lose her heart. Washington, 1891 Humiliated after her broken engagement, Claire Montgomery flees her comfortable life in San Francisco for a teaching position in Pine Creek, Washington, a dot of a town nestled in the rugged Cascade Mountains. She’s determined to succeed—for once in her life—only to discover, upon her arrival, that success will have to be won. Thanks to a school board error, two teachers have been hired. When scandal forces professor Barrett Clarke from his position, he returns to Pine Creek where his uncle, chairman of the school board, sets forth an irresistible offer: teach one year in return for ranchland. For this would-be rancher, nothing is more tempting than resurrecting his childhood dream, and nothing can deter him from earning that land. Except perhaps Claire Montgomery. Losing the battle for the classroom means losing the ranchland, but winning may mean losing Claire’s heart. With large doses of humor and romantic tension, this Christian historical love story offers a picture of grace, forgiveness, and finding true worth.

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Importance of Alone Time by Mary Manners


The Importance of Alone Time

Mary Manners
I am a creature of habit, and I probably crave routine more than the average person. I think that's why I love my animals so much--they need and enjoy routine, as well. But sometimes things come up and life gets in the way of my nice, cozy self-prescribed organization. If I'm not careful, the distractions of everyday life suck all the creativity right out of me. And even when the creative juices keep flowing, my writing time is usually the first thing that falls to the wayside.
At least that's the way it was until I learned to take some alone time and not feel one bit of remorse for doing so. I like to write in long stretches of time, which I'm able to do now that I'm retired from my day job. For the first year or so after I said goodbye to my nine-to-five (or more like six to six) job as a school principal, I felt a twinge of guilt when I holed up in my home writing office for hours at a time, working on a story. I had accomplished a life-long dream of becoming a full-time writer, but it still felt...odd, especially after a job that had me surrounded by people virtually every moment. 

But a lot of those feelings have fallen away, and I can now say that writing is a job that I love--but it's still a job just like any other job, and it devours time. Because writing is more than simply penning stories (that's the easy part). It's networking and marketing, social media and cover art, workshops and reader events. God must have known that my experience wearing the many hats of an educator would help me conquer the author learning curve a little more easily.
I'm thankful I have an understanding husband who has been supportive since Day One. He gets me, and that's the greatest gift anyone can ever give a writer--to understand the need for alone time. So, thanks allowing me to share with you today, and now it's back to work...back to writing.

Naomi Taylor is putting her life back together following the sudden death of her husband, when eldest son Austin shows up at her doorstep with grandson Max. The troubled teen wants nothing more than to escape the cozy little town of Serenity and get back to his friends in the city. But Naomi’s not giving up on him, and hopes next-door neighbor Ben can help her find a way to reach him and turn things around—before it’s too late.
Ben Miller lost his wife to a long and ruthless battle with Alzheimer’s. Coming to terms with the loss has shown him he still has much to live for. When his needs intertwine with Naomi’s, their long-time friendship blossoms into something more.  
Can the two discover a way to move into the future and love again, without betraying memories of the past?

Mary Manners is a country girl at heart who has spent a lifetime sharing her joy of writing. She lives in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and their rescue dog Axel, mischievous cats Colby and Rascal, 8 rambunctious chickens, and a dozen 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:

Friday, February 22, 2019

May This Blog Haunt You Pleasantly (Part 2) by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson
In last month’s Part 1 of “May This Blog Haunt You Pleasantly,” I stated how important it is for writers to read about other writers. Whether they were trailblazers or path-wideners, each writer has his or her own story. Being as human as we are, those stories paint for us pictures of triumph and tragedy…two things from which we can learn. 

As I read Les Standiford’s The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits over the holidays, there were some things that jumped off the page for me, and I thought I’d share them here at Seriously Write.

Last time, we looked at Gleaning #1, which was:

Authors have always wished to get their works in as many readers’ hands as possible, sometimes at the chagrin of their publishers (if they are traditionally published) or themselves (if they are independently published). And if not handled properly, it can become an all-consuming fire.

One little tidbit I didn’t mention at the end of last month’s post was how all-consuming that fire had become for Dickens. By the 1850s, his relationship with his wife Catherine had become so estranged, they divorced after twenty-two years of marriage and ten children. Rumors tossed about suggested Charles had been involved in “an illicit affair” (is there really any other type when married?) with a younger woman. Dickens took such offense that he used the front page of his then current magazine, Household Words, to argue to the contrary. 1

As much as this writing life can become a soul-wrenching conflagration on a personal level, this passion we often champion at writers conferences can worm its way into the writer’s business relationships as well, which leads us our next point of interest:

Gleaning #2: The constant tension between authors and publishers will always be a constant. So, get used to it.

As many may or may not know, Charles Dickens lived a challenging life growing up. When Charles was a young lad of twelve, his father—who worked as a clerk for the navy and seemed to always struggle to pay the bills—was thrown in prison “alongside smugglers, mutineers, and pirates” for a debt of forty pounds, owed to a baker, which was a considerable sum in those days. (Aren’t you glad things have changed?) As a result, Charles was forced by necessity to take a job at six schillings a week, working in a boot-blacking factory, bottling the polish used to by military personnel and businessmen to make their shoes shiny. In this factory along the Thames, Charles would one day write of his experience:

Its wainscoted rooms and its rotten floors and staircase, and the old grey rats swarming down in the cellars, and the sound of their squeaking and scuffling coming up the stairs at all times, and the dirt and decay of the place, rise up visibly before me, as if I were there again. 2

This time of his life made an ineradicable impression, for it is found in various forms throughout his writings, and in none more famous than the sentiments of Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (“Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons? And the Union workhouses? The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigor then? Those who are badly off must go there. If they would rather die, then they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”)

It was after works like Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby that Dickens would walk around “black streets of London,” formulating the story of his Carol. He was excited about the tale being pieced together in the recesses of his mind. It was a bit of leap on his part, for no Christmas “books” had ever been written before 1843. Some essays by American author Washington Irving, written in January of 1820 and contained in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, had helped to revive the holiday’s traditions we know and love today. However, it is believed that Dickens’s work helped to launch the holiday into another stratosphere.

Celebrating Christmas like we do today, or even how Bob Cratchit and his family did in A Christmas Carol, was not a “thing” in 1843 England. The day itself was not very popular, unlike its Christian counterpart in the spring. Because the day was primarily of Roman Catholic origin with ties to the pagan celebration of Saturnalia, many protestants, both in England and especially in America, actually thought of the holiday as more of a devilish revelry than Godly celebration of Emmanuel, God with us.

These beliefs were amplified by the pagan traditions, such as wassailing, which looked very much like the trick-or-treating we witness today at Halloween. After a song was sung by a group of wassailers—who often came to the door a bit hammered—the home was to offer the singers goodies, like “figgy pudding,” for example. If the homeowners did not comply, they were met with behavior not befitting the holiday. The entire tradition had more of the look and feel of a bully taking the nerd’s lunch money in the middle school cafeteria than “a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time” of giving from “shut-up hearts.”

Nevertheless, Dickens felt the setting of Christmas to be the best for his newest endeavor. With excitement, he took his notes and idea to his publisher, Chapman and Hall. After hearing Dickens explain where his heart had brought him (Have you ever been there as a writer?), the publishers seemed less than enthusiastic (Have you ever been there as a writer?).

His friend and agent, John Forster, who was with him at this very moment, later wrote in his biography of Dickens, “Chuzzlewit had fallen short of all the expectations formed of it in regard to sale.” 3 Even though Forster believed Martin Chuzzlewit to be Dickens’ best work yet, the public felt otherwise as sales testified. Despite all this, Forster felt keeping the relationship with Chapman and Hall open and in good standing would be most beneficial for Dickens, allowing him to trust the process and focus on his part, the writing.

However, Dickens was already at odds with Chapman and Hall before he waltzed into their offices to sing his Carol. They had stated in earlier conversations they might have to draw an extra fifty pounds from his royalties stipulated in the contract for Martin Chuzzlewit. Dickens wrote to Forster after, “I am so irritated, so rubbed in the tenderest part of my eyelids with bay-salt, that I don’t think I can write.” 4

Have you ever felt like that? As if your publisher or agent was pulling your eyelids back and grinding the shards of bay-salt into them until they dissolved with your many tears? I’m sure all writers have felt that way at some point. Some more than others.

Chapman and Hall finally determined they were not interested in a Christmas book written in haste (remember, this is October of 1843, and Dickens had not even started writing it yet). The publishers also believed the story explained to them by Dickens to be a re-writing/re-telling of his former works, and it would have to be done in a cheap form under such time restraints. You could liken it today to having a large publishing house using CreateSpace-like print-on-demand in haste versus taking their time and producing a print run of several thousand hardcover copies.

Instead, Chapman and Hall gave their final ruling. If Dickens wanted to issue the story out to the public, it would have to be in a magazine owned by them and edited by him. This was the only way they would consider funding the project. Otherwise, they were not interested. Translation? Dickens would have to work off the publication of his newest story by writing it in installments, like he had done with his other works, while editing the new magazine for them. In other words, they would pay him—a contract would be written and signed, for sure—but they were going to get some collateral in the bank, namely his name on the cover of the magazine as not only the editor, but as one of the authors contained therein.

In his biography of Dickens, Forster wrote this of Chapman and Hall:

Publishers are bitter bad judges of an author, and are seldom safe persons to consult in regard to the fate or fortunes that may probably await him.” 5

I know every writer reading this believes Forster to be “right on the money” with his comment. Publishers tend to want to play it safe. They like riding the champion thoroughbreds again and again instead of taking a chance on a horse who has never run the big race. We all know this writing life is as much of a business as it is an art or a craft, and it seems it has always been that way.

I believe that if any of us (I’m talking about authors here) started our own publishing house, we may go into it with the war chant of “I’m going to do it differently.” However, we all know there are things within any business which dictate certain ends. There are reasons why things have been done certain ways for so many years. People typically do not continue to make deals that will ruin them financially while remaining in business for decades. Insolvency and longevity never ride the same train.

Yet, this roadblock did not stop Dickens. He instead decided to publish the book “on his own account.” He personally became responsible for all the production costs, as was pointed out in Part 1 of this series.

As a result, he got it done. And the world has been better for it. As we examined last month, he did not make near as much as he had hoped, but such is the life of what amounts to a self-published author. Chapman and Hall, in this instance, became somewhat of an Amazon KDP. They paid the costs up front and offered distribution channels, but Dickens—the author—ended up footing the lion’s share of the bill in the long run.

Do you have a story in you nobody else seems to see or understand with as much clarity? Do you have the wherewithal to power through the obstacles (this is with the understanding that God is in it)? It would seem that if the answer to both of those questions is yes, then you are in good writing company.

As the British say, “On you go!” We’ll see you next month with Part 3.

1 Standiford, Les. The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits. Broadway Books; New York, NY, 2017. pp. 210-211.

2 Ibid., pp. 2-3.

3 Ibid., pp. 73-74.

4 Ibid., p. 75.

5 Ibid., pp. 76-77.

The Tide of Times

(The Blake Meyer Thriller Series, Book 3)

A Perverse Tale. A Precarious Truth. A Personal Tribulation.

Supervisory Special Agent Blake Meyer is at an impasse. Bound and beaten in a dilapidated warehouse halfway around the world, Blake finds himself listening to an unbelievable story. Right and wrong warp into a despicable clash of ideologies. Life quickly becomes neither black nor white. Nor is it red, white, and blue any longer.

Every second brings the contagion's release closer, promising to drag the United States into the Dark Ages. Tens of millions could be dead within months.

Every moment adds miles and hours to the expanding gulf between him and his family. What is he to believe? Who is he to trust?

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, Book 2, Triple Time, and Book 3, The Tide of Times, are now available! Book 4, When the Clock Strikes Fourteen, is coming March 2019! Book 5, A Pulse of Time, is coming November 2019! Book 6, Devil of a Crime, is coming summer 2020! The second edition of his award-winning debut novel, The Serpent’s Grasp, is available wherever books are sold! Also, his standalone mystery, The Letters, is coming in e-book, January 2020! Paperback in February 2020!

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

Kevin’s Writer’s Blog:
Twitter: @CKevinThompson
Goodreads: C. Kevin Thompson

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Do You Ever Feel Like a Fraud by Terri Weldon

Fraud - a person who is not what he or she pretends to be: imposter
I'll let you in on a little secret, sometimes when I tell people I'm a writer, I feel like a fraud. Case in point, when I purchased my new laptop I explained to the salesman I needed the laptop for writing not gaming. Then he asked me what I wrote. I replied, "Christian suspense."
Well, when he asked me if I wrote like Ted Dekker I wanted to sink into the floor. Then to top it off he added Frank Peretti to the mix. By then surely there was a scarlet F for FRAUD emblazoned on my shirt. I believe I mumbled something about wishing I wrote like them.
I didn't want to confess the mobility and freedom the laptop would afford me would help boost my word count.
Lately I've had definite issues with productivity in my writing life. I plan to write, I want to write, but I don't actually write.
Believe me, I wish I knew. I've come up with four possibilities.
1. Maybe writing was my calling for a season and that season is past.
2. Maybe I'm procrastinating because I'm not good enough.
3. Maybe I'm a hobby writer and not a "real" writer.
4. Maybe I just need to focus or set (and keep) office hours.
Those are questions that only I can answer. If you're having any of the same doubts then only you, with God's help, can answer them for you. But I do have a few suggestions to finding the answers. Pray and seek God's will. Tell Him your concerns. He will help you and guide you to the correct answers.
As for me, this is where I currently stand.
1. The fear that my calling to write was over distressed me. I WANT to write. I have story ideas and books in my mind waiting to be written. I don't believe my time as a writer is finished. 
2. If God called me then I'm good enough.
3. I am a "real" writer. As long as the devil can make me feel inadequate than I won't be productive.
4. I definitely need to focus and I definitely need office hours. I've tried setting them and not keeping them - doesn't help a bit. I battle staying on track. Discipline is key to my being successful as an author.  
As for the question the salesman asked me about writing like Ted Dekker or Frank Peretti . . . I'll probably always say I wish. But you know what - I write like Terri Weldon. God created each of us and we are all unique so no two of us should write alike.
Currently I'm working on a project that I'm excited about. Hopefully I'll have it finished by the end of summer at the latest.
And as far as feeling like a fraud, well I doubt those feelings will go away overnight, but with time, prayer, and words on the page I think they'll diminish.
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 3:14 (NIV)
How about you, do you ever feel like a fraud? If so leave a comment on how you overcome. I hope everyone's answer is a resounding no. If you don't let me know that as well. I promise, I'll still like you. 😉 
Terri Weldon feels blessed to be a full time writer. She enjoys traveling, gardening, reading, and shopping for shoes. One of her favorite pastimes is volunteering as the librarian at her church. It allows her to shop for books and spend someone else’s money! Plus, she has the great joy of introducing people to Christian fiction. She lives with her family in the Heartland of the United States. Terri has two adorable Westies – Crosby and Nolly Grace. Terri is a member of ACFW and RWA.
Readers can connect with Terri: Website: or Blog: Seriously Write

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Never Give Up by Kay DiBianca

I’m a runner. But I wasn’t always. I ran my first 5K a couple of decades ago before I knew anything about training or strategy. That race was the beginning of a journey that taught me significant life lessons, many of which apply to writing. Here are a few:
Enjoy the challenge: After that first race, I jumped into running with both Nikes. But there was a lot to learn about the sport that I didn’t know. Doesn’t that sound a lot like those of us who decided to write a book? We may lack the experience, confidence, and tools to succeed, but we have the desire to accomplish the dream. It’s a good place to start.
Train for success: I acquired all the equipment and knowledge I could, but it isn’t enough to have the right shoes and show up on race day. For every 5K I ran, I must have put in a hundred miles of training. It was hard work but I was getting stronger and faster. Isn’t that the same with writing? Few people can sit down and whip out 80,000 words of first-rate fiction. Even experienced writers have to train by forcing themselves to tone their writing muscles every day.
Anticipate Disappointments: My training runs didn’t always go well. Some days I felt tired and didn’t meet my training goals. There were aches and pains and some injuries along the way. But all runners know that improvement isn’t easy, and it doesn’t come all at once. You pay for it one mile at a time. You accept that there will be setbacks, but you don’t give up. The only failure is if you don’t try. Anybody see the similarities to writing?
Work on Endurance: Training eventually leads to racing, and racing requires even more stamina and determination. Good runners learn to pace themselves through a marathon one mile at a time. Negative thoughts, frustration and discouragement are always close at hand, ready to sabotage your efforts, but you know the real reward is in finishing the race. It’s all about slow and steady progress. Sound familiar?
Find a Good Coach: When I began my novel several years ago, I assumed it would be easy. But like my novice runner self, I soon learned that there was a world of information I didn’t know. And a sophisticated skill set I didn’t have. But just like running, there are plenty of resources for novice writers: books, podcasts, online courses, conferences, and blogs. Professional editors can help an author turn a mediocre manuscript into a polished deliverable.
Never Give Up: I learned that writing strength comes slowly and steadily, through consistent practice and attention to the experts. Like a seasoned runner, the writer keeps her eye on the finish line while carefully navigating the next chapter. And she deals with disappointment and rejection as part of the learning process, but hard work and persistence are bound to pay off.
My novel, The Watch on the Fencepost, will be entering its own race when it’s released on February 22, 2019. I don’t know how it will do when matched up against all the other books out there, but I know all the writing, revising, attending conferences, scouring books on the craft, and working with professionals has made it a much stronger product than it was at the beginning. And a strong finish is better than a strong start. Now it’s time to start training for the next one.

let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…”  -- Hebrews 12:1b


Kay DiBianca holds an MS degree in computer science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has worked in the IT departments of several major corporations, including IBM, International Paper, and FedEx.
Kay is an avid runner and can often be found at a nearby track, on the treadmill, or at a large park near her home. She's completed four marathons, fifteen or so half-marathons, and an unknown number of shorter races. She and her husband, Frank, both compete in Senior Olympics track-and-field events.
Kay and Frank are US representatives for Bridges for Peace, an international Christian organization whose mission is to serve the people of Israel.
Kay and Frank are retired and live in Memphis, Tennessee. "The Watch on the Fencepost" is Kay's first novel. 

You can contact Kay at