Thursday, April 25, 2019

Writing Lessons I Learned While Eating Chocolate By Rhonda Herren Starnes

I don’t know about you, but when I write, I get the munchies. My current writing treat of choice is Dove Promises, dark chocolate with almonds. Yummy! I’ll reward myself with one or two pieces when I reach certain writing goals…. daily word count, pages edited, etc. As an added bonus, I get a little note of inspiration and encouragement. Today, I thought I’d share with you four writing lessons I’ve learned while eating chocolate.  

Lesson #1: If you don’t take chances, you’ll never succeed.
I’ve wanted to be a published author since I was twelve-years-old. I would talk about it all the time, constantly saying, “One day…” However, it wasn’t until six years ago when my hubby called me on it, telling me either write a book or stop talking about it, that I finally sat down and wrote. Since then, I’ve written three complete books and started two others. I’m still not published, but I’m writing and entering contests and participating in pitch opportunities. It’s all about getting your work in front of the right person. Take chances!

Lesson #2: Just Write.
I must admit this one is hard for me. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a middle school language arts teacher and I’m used to correcting grammar, or if it’s because I’m a picky person. However, on the rare occasion, when I am successful at silencing my inner editor, I am much more productive. Even if half of the words end up being cut, I end up with more (usable) words in a shorter amount of time than I do when I’m sitting at my keyboard correcting and/or rewriting every sentence trying to make it perfect as I go. So, just write!

Lesson #3: Revise, revise, revise.
The book isn’t finished just because you typed “the end.” That’s when the real work begins. Never submit the first draft of a manuscript to an editor, agent, or contest. Read it. Revise it. Read it, again. Revise some more.

Now, with that said, you don’t want to get caught in a revision cycle that never ends. At some point you need to hit send. Just make sure, you’re submitting a manuscript you put your best effort into. Show your best work!

Lesson #4: Don’t let rejections stop you in your tracks.
Time for full disclosure. Having an editor or an agent reject your manuscript hurts. And it really hurts if you were given a chance to revise a manuscript and resubmit it for consideration only to receive a rejection in the end. I’ve had that happen, more than once. The last time it happened, I let self-doubt take over. How could I get this close and still not get a book contract? Is my writing so bad that I’ll never get a traditional publisher to take a chance on me?
The self-doubt engulfed me for an entire year. During that time, I only wrote one proposal (three chapters and a synopsis). That’s all. Writing was painful.

Fortunately, I have wonderful writing sisters and friends who encouraged me and lifted me from the cloud that surrounded me. I’m focused and ready to succeed, now. I’ll never get my year of writing time back, and that saddens me. However, I can’t dwell on the past. I have books to write. Don’t dwell in the past! The road may be bumpy, keep going!

Rhonda Herren Starnes writes stories of romantic suspense with rugged heroes and feisty heroines. She lives in North Alabama with her husband, who she lovingly refers to as Mountain Man. They have been married for thirty-three years and have two grown children and four grandchildren.

Rhonda is an ELA teacher with twenty-two years of experience. Other than the obvious task of teaching her students how to read, write, and communicate effectively, she sees her number one goal as an educator to be that of a motivator. She wants her students to learn, by her example, to go after their dreams.
• 2014 Love Inspired Suspense Killer Voices, finalist.
• 2015 Love Inspired Suspense Blurb to Book, finalist.
• 2016 Wisconsin Fab Five Silver Quill Award, Inspirational Category Winner.
• 2016 ACFW Genesis, semi-finalist.