Tag Archive | ACFW

Inquiring Minds Want to Know (Part 4 of 4)

This is my fourth post answering questions friends have posted on Facebook. Enjoy!

Steps are really popular these days- for example- 21 steps to becoming a super model. How many steps would you give the process of publishing?

That could be an entire blog post on its own. I think that the journey is unique for every author. But here’s my generic attempt.

1) Write, write and write some more. Whether devotionals, non-fiction, poetry, articles, short stories, flash fiction, novels, and no matter what age group you are writing for. Write.

2) Read. Read other books, read about writing. A writer can’t write well if they are not also a reader.

3) Revise, edit and have others read and critique your writing.

4) Connect with a writer’s group of some kind (I’m with ACFW, American Christian Fiction Writers) for support, resources and networking.

5) Attend writer’s conferences You can network, meet others, learn and ask questions and to pitch your story to editors or agents.

6) Get into social networking even before you have a book written. It takes time to build an audience and people need to like you before they will buy your book. Agent and editors will check this.

7) Don’t quit. And remember that God uses the journey as part of your ministry and impact, not just a published novel. Don’t lose sight of the work he is doing because you are so focused on that one goal.

There are plenty of people out there who think or even say out loud, “I should write a book” and then don’t. What do you think the biggest obstacle to writing is, and how did you overcome it?

Most people will give the excuse of time, but I think the real reason most people don’t do it is fear. That’s why I’m a huge champion of National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org) because it becomes a community endeavour and the encouragement of others it’s easier to take that step. That’s what got me started but I don’t need it now to write fast or complete a novel.

Do you have particular music that you listen to while you write?

Usually I listen to nothing. When I write the Regency time period I sometimes listen to classical. My last three novels the soundtrack was a compilation of songs by Burlap to Cashmere and Steven Delopoulos.

What’s your biggest pet peeve while editing?

Pet words: that, then, have, feel, look . . .I’m always having to reduce and eliminate those in my writing.

If you could only pick one, who would your favorite author be and why?

God. Only he could write a book filled with drama, romance, crime, poetry, imagery, parable, prophecy, history, biography and then combine them in sixty-six separate stories that are unified throughout the whole. I’ve read the Bible more than any other book.

It’s probably safe to say that most writers have goals and dreams. What’s your ultimate goal as a writer? When will you know when you’ve “reached” your goal?

I would sweet to sell a ton of books and have validation as a best-selling author. I would like it if I could support my family with my writing. But knowing that my stories encouraged someone, helped them when they needed it, or encouraged them to hold tight to their faith in difficult circumstances would be the sweetest thing. It’s an ephemeral goal at best, but when I get that kind of feedback it warms my heart.

How do you get your ideas on what to write about?

My God-given imagination and dreams while I sleep. Two stories in my Orchard Hill series sprung out of a real life (but majorly changed) situation I had read about.

That’s it! Any more questions that haven’t been answered – go ahead and ask and I’ll try to get to them again at a later date.

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Who’s Your Sam?

A few weeks back, I did a talk at our local ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) chapter and challenged my fellow writers with this final question: Who is your Sam?

Let me give you some background.

Life is tough. Duh. You already knew that, didn’t you?

Being a Christian can be a challenging road to walk. Oh, you knew that too? Sorry. Just wanting to establish the facts first.

We need to be immersed in God’s truth, studying His Word and listening to the Holy Spirit as He leads and guides us. This communication however, can be disconnected because of sin. The remedy is simple. We repent, accept Christ’s forgiveness purchased for us at the cross and walk forward His power to accomplish the tasks He has given.

You with me so far?

Life is hard. We need God.

But that’s not all. We need others around us. Let me show you an example:

Now, if you are not familiar with J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, let me give you an overview. Frodo has a ring of power that needs to be destroyed in Mordor. He leaves home, the shire, with three other Hobbits. One is Sam. They end up in Rivendale and become a fellowship of nine all bent on completing this task of destroying the ring. Four hobbits, a wizard, two men, an elf and a dwarf. By the end of that first movie, the wizard is presumed killed and another man is dead and the fellowship is broken up. In spite of that, as the trilogy moves on, Sam is Frodo’s constant companion, protector and in many ways, his salvation. While there are many heroes in the story, it is Sam, a secondary character, who truly gives his all to his friend.

In the hard journey of life and the calling that God can place on our lives, we all need a few Sam’s around us. Some might be a little more distant and still helping us fight on toward our goal, with words of encouragement, a listening ear and prayer. And others will walk more closely, willing to tackle us when we are going to venture into sin and challenge us when we are lost in lies.

We also need to endeavor to be this for other people as well.

So . . . in the story God is writing in your life . . . who is your Sam? You really should have more than one. Frodo had eight who supported him on the journey and one died to protect him. The rest risked death time and again to see the goal accomplished and save Middle Earth.

On the flip side. Who are you a Sam for? Whose life are you speaking truth into, praying for, encouraging. For instance, how about our pastors? They are on the forefront of spiritual battle and need a fellowship of warriors behind them as much as we do if not more.

Let us not forget that God is writing a great story in your life and it is the gospel many people may read before they ever pick up the Bible. And we have some input into the journey by our choices, good or bad. Our mistakes, our failures as well as our successes and how we respond say a lot to others about our relationship wtih God. And much of that can depend on the strength and support of the Sam’s around us.

Tell me about a Sam in your life. 

We Do Not Write Alone

I’ve been writing for four years now and it hit me today that God has taught me some cool things on my path to publication.

Photo by Tom Otte Imaging

Photo by Tom Otte Imaging

  1. There is a beautiful group of people out there who love the Lord and are seeking to serve them with their writing. They come in all shapes and sizes and genres. From a worldly perspective they are my competition for the attention and money of the public who would buy my work. But in reality – they are my brothers and sisters in Christ. They have become so dear to me and some I have yet to meet – and hug – face to face.
  2. We all have our own unique voice and if God has gifted us and brought our pen to paper or our fingers to keyboard, our only true audience is Him. I’m not to be anyone else but me as I write.  Other authors are the same. In that sense I do not have to be jealous of them because they are writing as God created them too, with their own unique “voice,” just as I am writing with mine.
  3. Writing is an act of worship to me. Yes, it is hard work and I am constantly learning, but ultimately I want my words to bring honor and glory to Jesus. I write Christian romance. I ultimately want me readers to understand that the greatest romance is between us and Christ.
  4. Writing is a community endeavor. How would I grow without submitting myself and my work to the eyes and wisdom of those who have come before me? I may put my words to paper in solitude but they are honed in community.
  5. Pride is the lure of authors but also hard to hold on to. Let me explain. I can write a book and feel like it’s my best work ever – until I get my line edits and or read it myself a few months later and realize how much it will take to make it better. Whether writing flash-fiction or a novel – the editing process strips away any sense that this is a phenomenal piece of work. I’ve learned to be grateful for the truth-speakers who have helped me grow as a author. I’m not saying that the comments don’t sting at times, after all those words that form a story were given to me by God to put down. It is hard to recognize at times that the failure them to sparkle perfectly lies in my humanness.
  6. Writing cannot be for money. I’m not saying I don’t want to make any. The hours are brutal the work long and hard. I love doing it. But I doubt any amount of money I could earn would truly compensate for the heart and soul and butt in chair time that I put into it. It has to be done because it is what I have been called to do and I cannot imagine doing anything else with as much joy.
  7. I could not be the writer I am without the support and encouragement of special people in my life. Someone said “Don’t forget us little people when you make it big.” Well – that “little person” has been my cheerleader and I hope I never forget the way individuals like him have cheered me on.  See, some people scoff. “Oh, you are a writer. How nice for you.” Or “Enjoy your hobby, you won’t make any money at that.” or this one. “So you publish your novel and you’ll be rich?” That one makes me laugh. Sure I will, after I put you in there. There are many ways to kill off people in my stories but as Arnold Schwarzenegger put it in his character in True Lies, “They were bad, very, very bad.” As another quote on the internet says “If people didn’t want to be put in your books, they should have been nicer to you!”

I feel sorry for authors who do not reach out and engage in the communities of authors that are out there, especially if they are Christians because it is such a delightful group to be a part of! At the conferences, in writing groups and on-line. It’s more than establishing a platform to sell a book – it’s about having people love you when the writing is hard. It’s about people who celebrate with you for even what may seem like the smallest of victories, because they “get you.” They understand. It’s about encouraging each other to follow the calling of God and do it with excellence. It’s about the bigger body of Christ seeking to reach the world and inspire others to faith and wholehearted devotion to our King.

For His Glory Alone – I write.