Tag Archive | writing

The “God Answered my Prayer” Conundrum

Lots of things stew in my crazy brain. Much of it I’m sure you’d not want to read about. Complexities and backstory would bog down the fact that emotionally turmoil is festering underneath what many perceive to be a cheerful exterior.

One recent thing though has been cooking. I have a friend who has a book doing extremely well. She’s breaking all the “rules” for promotion and marketing. I love her to bits and I’m thrilled at her success.

No. Really. I am. She’s a dear sweet friend.

I asked her what she thinks is the secret to her success. Her response: “We’ve been praying.” She does. She prays. She has people who have prayed as she’s worked on her novel for over 10 years. Yes. You heard me. Ten years.

Here’s where the conundrum comes in. I pray too. I’ve had people pray for me as I write and struggle with life. My books haven’t sold as well although they get great reviews and I’ve done so many things to promote them. I’ve had people who I respect as authors, promise to read and promote my books who have failed to do so. I’ve done so for their great novels. Grrr. Frustrating to say the least. But God can take care of them.

God is doing 10000 thingsWhich leads to a variety of thoughts.

  • Does God not love me or my book as much as He loves my friend’s?
  • Success isn’t really about how many books I sell.
  • But I could really use the money sales could net for me due to challenging life circumstances (duh, like we all don’t face those?)

And then I scold myself.

  • It should be enough that I worked hard and my books are well-received and people have found their faith encouraged or challenged by reading them.
  • It should be enough that God has brought people into my life to minister to and encourage because I have written and published my novels.
  • It should be enough that God knows my heart and my needs. All of them. He’s got my future in the palm of His hands.

So why isn’t it enough? Why do I struggle?

The issue isn’t God.

It’s me.

I’m a fallible human who struggles with insecurities on so many levels.

I struggle with depression and anxiety.

I lack support from people who should be there for me but who had sought to sabotage me every step on my journey.

They failed.

Because: God.

God has gotten me to where I am. He has brought me through so many struggles and pain beyond what I could ever dare to share here.

And my writing isn’t a job. It’s a calling. I need to own that and realize that a calling doesn’t come with a windfall. It comes with a cost.

And a blessing.

But sometimes I fail to see that amidst the pain and struggle that sometimes visits my life.

So I’m grateful for my friend, her faith and our beautiful relationship. She is also called and God’s blessing on her work has no bearing on the way He is at work in my life.

Because we are all unique and God’s work in and through us is also unique.

How often I forget that when the “should’s” come knocking on my door.

How about you? Where have you struggled with the “should’s” in your own life?

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Writer Wednesday: Beth Ziarnik

Beth's head shotBeth Ziarnik has been an unexpected blessing early on in my own writing journey and it’s a thrill that after all she’s invested in me and so many others, that I can celebrate with her the fruit of her efforts: her first published novel, Her Deadly Inheritance.

When did you decide that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to… ?

I was in elementary school—maybe nine or ten years old. Standing within our small town library, I gazed at a shelf of fairy tale books—the Green Book, the Red Book, the Blue Book, the Yellow Book, and so many more. That’s when I decided I’d love to write stories that gave readers as much enjoyment as those books gave me. Actually, I’m not far off the mark as I writing romantic suspense. Fairy tales are love stories, right? And each has some huge and frightening obstacle the heroes and heroines must overcome. It wasn’t until my late teens that I fell in love with romantic suspense. About fifteen years later, I began to dream and plan to write my own novels—long before Christian publishers considered releasing the genre. I’ve learned since then that dreams are often planted in our hearts by God who is already guiding us along paths that prepare us to take hold of those dreams.

What’s your pet peeve?

I’m not sure I have one. Twelve years of severe Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome knocked a boatload of impatience out of me. As for the illness, the Lord healed me almost 16 years ago.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?

During the 2013 Write-to-Publish Conference Awards Banquet while relaxing after dinner and enjoying the presentations. When Chris Richards announced the winner of her company’s award, she said something about “Beth” and not wanting to butcher the writer’s last name. I looked around, expecting some other Beth to stand up. I turned back, and Chris smiled at me and nodded. I totally froze! Couldn’t move a muscle. Not until the writer next to me grinned and leaned over to whisper, “Beth, you have to go up and receive the award.”

I quickly joined Chris and turned my back to the microphone to ask her, “Are you sure?” Yes, it was real! And, from the soft, supportive laughter in the room, it seems everyone there knew at the start that I was the Beth Chris had been talking about.

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?

her deadly inheritanceHanging in there down through the years as I was learning the skills to become a published novelist. Especially the last few years before Rowena Kuo at Lighthouse of the Carolinas offered a contract to publish Her Deadly Inheritance. During that time of waiting for breakthrough, I knew I was close but couldn’t quite make it. Editors and agents asked for the full manuscript. No one made an offer—though they all encouraged me to keep seeking the agent who would love and champion my work. That agent turned out to be Jim Hart of Hartline Literary Agency. I signed with him in August 2013. Then in December 2014, Rowena offered a contract and teamed me with editor Chris Richards who, about the time of the contract offer, had joined the LPC family.

How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?

Rejection is difficult, but I’ve learned not to take it personally. Editors and agents want us to succeed, but first, we have to get to the necessary level of skill, and then offer them something they can actually use in their magazine or book line-up.

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?

Making the multitude of wonderful friends in the industry—writers (published or unpublished), mentors, editors, agents, conference directors and staff. All with beautiful hearts determined to serve the Lord and honor him with their growing talents. I am blessed and so thankful to God for them. I feel the same about readers, whether or not they have responded to my articles and columns to let me know what those writings have meant to them.

What would be your top three pieces of advice to newer, up and coming authors?

  • Be patient and keep working on your craft. It will happen! You will get published, if you don’t quit. Keep learning and practicing.
  • Go to writer’s conferences and seminars. You will learn more than you ever dreamed. You’ll be encouraged, make lasting friendships, and have the blessed chance to encourage others. You will also speed up your journey to the land of published works and learn how to continue to grow in skill and be published.
  • Pray! God alone knows your path to published works. Lay your ideas and manuscripts at his feet. Ask him for wisdom and guidance to both write and market. He’ll be happy to help you, if only you ask and obey.

As a Christian author, what would you like your legacy to be?

That, through my writings, I have encouraged others to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7) and to love in the beautiful, unselfish way the Lord describes in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

What is your current work in process?

I’m writing a continuation of Jill’s and Clay’s story as they face another life-threatening situation and new challenges to their growing love. It’s Christmas time as they arrive at her birth father’s Milwaukee mansion to spend a few days getting to know him. There they find him gravely ill and his life in danger from some unknown source—a danger that spreads to include Jill. Add to the mix, Jill’s former fiancé who decides to give Clay serious competition.

Links to social media:  Facebook   Twitter   Blog

 

Inquiring Minds Want to Know (Part 3 of 4)

This is the third installment of answers to questions from Facebook friends. Enjoy!

What is your relationship with your characters and how do you hope your readers will relate to them?

I adore my characters. I never write “the end,” because I love these imaginary people and I miss them when the story ends. Writing the last sentence of a book is bittersweet. Happy that I finished the story but sad to let them go. I’m happy people are loving Renate and Tony so much.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write, write, write. Write short, write long. Flash Fiction. Short Stories. Novellas. Write long. Read a lot.

Learn what you can about writing. Attend a writer’s conference! I also recommend On Writing by Stephen King and The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell. There are so many more wonderful books out there on the craft. Connect with the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) or some other writing group to find other writers who can help you grow.

Some people live a hundred years, and some people write novels. Is there a particular food that keeps you going strong? lol…

Right now, Wild Cherry Pepsi is the beverage of choice but food changes. Occasionally chocolate. Right now my fave is Lindt Strawberry Cheesecake chocolate stick but sometimes I only need one small square to satisfy me. It’s good stuff!  Having said all that, my great-grandmothers lived to be over 100 and my grandmothers are in their 90’s so there’s hope for me yet, regardless of diet and sedentary occupation.

How many books do you have in the works?

Thirteen, if you include the one published and those already contracted.

In the Orchard Hill (contemporary romance) series there are five written and one in my head waiting: Pesto and Potholes, Salsa and Speedbumps (Dec 2015), Feta and Freeways (2016), Root Beer and Road Blocks, Bratwurst and Bridges and Donuts and Ditches. 

In my Rose Hill (Regency romantic suspense series) there are five novels: The Virtuous Viscount, Lord Phillip’s Folly, Sir Michael’s Mayhem, Lord Harrow’s Heart and The Captain’s Conquest. My agent has this series.

In my Lady Warriors (contemporary romantic suspense) there are two: Madi’s Secret and Whitney’s Redemption (incomplete).

I also have a Christmas novella (historical) releasing out as part of an anthology this December.

Besides explicit sexual content, is there anything you wouldn’t write about?

As for content? Beyond swearing or romanticizing sin, I don’t know that anything is off limits.

As for genre? I refuse to write Amish fiction. I won’t contract them either. That’s more for theological reasons as I think there are some cultish aspects to that faith and I don’t want to romanticize that. I also don’t write Biblical Fiction. I don’t want to mess with Scripture. I don’t despise anyone who does choose to write or read those genre’s but they are not for me.

What/who has been your biggest support?

My Grandmother, Doris. My first content editor and dear friend, Elisabeth. My pastors David and Ken. Other writers and mentors especially Lisa and Beth.

If you could describe yourself using only three words, what would they be?

Silly, encouraging, weird.

What percentage of your books reflect your own personal story?

I’ve never been very good at math. My heart bleeds all over the pages but I’m not going to share what parts are right out of my own personal life.

What kinds of subjects/topics have you researched while writing your stories?

Football schedules,restraining orders,  medical issues, how to disarm a bomb, oil carriers, geographical data, weather reports, cancer types and treatment, rape laws, human trafficking, FBI, fetal sizes, burn injury and recovery, medications, foreign and/or cultural foods, car repair, and maps, among other things I can’t think of right now.

Any other questions you have? Leave them in them in the comments below!

Inquiring Minds Want to Know (Part 2 of 4)

This is the second installment of answering questions from Facebook.

How is your writing different from others? What is it similar to?

I’m not trying to write like anyone else no matter how much I admire other writer’s style.

I’m a bit more honest in my writing about sexual tension while keeping my stories clean. I think in our culture the reality of sexual promiscuity and the fall-out of that is very real so trying to encourage purity in the midst of a culture that doesn’t value that, is a core part of my character’s struggle. I love romance, but I don’t want to downplay the very real physical attraction and desire that can be part of a relationship. I push the envelope while keeping it clean. My characters struggle with the temptation of desire but not always acting on it because of a higher principle of seeking to honor God.

When you have spare time (just kidding) who do you enjoy reading? Who’s your favorite author? What type of books do you like to read other than your own?

Sometimes I go back to previous books I’ve loved and enjoyed. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade, Healing Grace by Lisa Lickel, The O’Malley Series & Uncommon Heroes series by Dee Henderson. The Discarded Heroes Series by Ronie Kendig. And then there are always new books coming out by authors I contract that I have the privilege to read first.

I have so many authors I enjoy for a variety of reasons, so it rather depends on my mood at the time, the reason I need to escape.

Where do you get your ideas for characters? 

Tough question. They are not usually based on specific people although sometimes a composite although not intentionally. I’m not really sure I know where they come from except for my God-given imagination.

Do you already know what the ending of your book will be when you start it or does it develop as you write?

I write “happily-ever-after” endings so that’s all I know when I begin. My guy and gal will be together, married, and happy by the end of the book. Some books they marry earlier on but that doesn’t mean they’ve hit the “happy” part until the end. It’s all about the journey to that destination, that happy moment in time.

What is a typical day like for you?

I have no “typical day” except that it starts early with a cup of chai, and often time with God, then at my computer, checking social media, writing or editing. When the Hobbits are in school, I have to stop to get them out the door and pick them up later. Right now it’s summer so they get up when they want to and harass me for food when they are hungry even though they are old enough to get their own food.

If you could spend a day with a character from your favorite novel, who would it be, and what would you do?

I spend weeks at a time with my characters. A writer friend told me that my relationship with my characters is unusual because to me there are so real. They are! I enjoy being with them.

Now if you were asking about another author’s work? Ponyboy Curtis (The Outsiders), possibly Darcy Fitzwilliam (Pride and Prejudice) or Fanny (Mansfield Park). They would be fascinating to spend time with. I’m sure if I thought long enough I could come up with soooo many more!

Any other questions you have for me? Or do you have your own answer to any of the questions above? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below!

Interview with Author DiAn Gates

diane gatesToday I welcome author DiAn Gates to my blog!

When did you decide that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to?

I won a church sponsored writing contest at age thirteen, with an article entitled The Basis of a Great Nation is the Christian Home. The original copy is sequestered in my cedar chest and I cringe at the grammar and punctuation each time I come across this tattered piece of paper.

As a young mother I was horrified at children’s color books, so I created my own. And sold copies of my color book babies as I freelanced art shows in the deep south and at Sea World Orlando.

Those color book characters became part of a four book devotional series, The Master’s Plan, I wrote and illustrated to help parents teach their kiddos the Bible. You can’t teach what you don’t know and many parents have a limited knowledge of the Bible and the task seems overwhelming. So it’s easier to ignore and pretend, rather than face questions from a child you can’t answer.

What’s your pet peeve?

I belong to an edit group known as the Literati in North Texas Christian Writers circles. We’ve been together five or six years and I’m the ing, it, was, that, then, and ly Policewoman. We concentrate on writing tight. Our group of seven serious writers spare no feelings when editing one another’s work. And I am grateful for this group who’s become like family.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?

Without a doubt, late last year when I received my first contract from Prism Book Group. My computer skills rank toward the low end of the techie scale, so when I had to email Jacqui Hopper and tell her “The computer ate my contract,”  embarrassed would have been a spot-on assessment. Yep, clicked back to print the contract to sign and return, and the sucker had vanished. Vacated. Vaporized. Humiliated would have been another good description, but thank the good Lord, Jacqui has a sense of humor, together with a large portion of the gift of mercy.

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?

Technology. This old gal learned to type on a manual typewriter. You know where the words zipped from your brain to your finger tips and magically appeared on the page. No programs. No delete buttons. No crashes. I detest machines that are smarter than me.

How do  you process rejections and/or negative reviews?

Doing better in that department. The first time the Master’s Plan was rejected I cried for a week, knowing they hated my kids, my husband, and the dog too. Now a small cellophane pack of Kleenex will see me through the current recovery process.

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?

Two or three years ago The PageMasters, a group of homeschooled teens, held their first meeting. Since that time all have become award winning writers within North Texas Christian Writers, and two have won national awards within the home school  scholastic organization. These committed teens meet twice a month to edit, encourage and inspire each other. And one of my teens has just contracted for his third article to be published by Encounter Magazine. Can you tell I’m very proud of these talented kiddos?

What would be your top three pieces of advice to newer, up and coming authors?

Just three? Oh my!

  • Find and become part of an active, inspiring edit group. Bring your Kleenex and hang in there—there is no perfect manuscript. You will have edits. Lots of them. In red. And they will hurt. Get over it and write some more.
  • Do not let the evil one shame you into a funk of discouragement where you throw your manuscripts in a drawer and let them languish there for years.
  • Never, never, never give up. Writers don’t get published because they quit too soon. If God has called you to write—you must write. Leave the consequences to Him. I’m living proof of the validity of this counsel.

As a Christian author, what would you like your legacy to be?

An encourager. That first draft is such fun. Ideas swirl and fingers fly over the keyboard and fill the pages. Then the work begins—shaping, slicing, and molding creative stories into a marketable book. And many writers are lost in the crevices of despair and disappointment. If I can encourage one person to use the gifts God has picked especially for them, I’ll have served my purpose as a tool in His hands.

What is your current work in progress?

My first YA novel will be released in August. Roped is the first book in this Texas Rodeo series. Two teens are trapped in a generational tug-a-war that explodes into a desperate scandal which will change both girls and their families forever. Crissy Crosby and her family have a heritage of faith in God for generations past. Jodie Lea Fairgate and her family’s heritage is spelled M-O-N-E-Y. And lots of it.

With Rodeo as the branding iron stoking the fire of competition between the girls, Rodeo also snatches the lid of secrecy off the generational sins of the fathers.

I’m half-way through the sequel Twisted, as this boiling gene pool reveals twisted secrets, hidden for generations, secrets threatening lives and destroying dreams of all herded into this canyon of  lies. Who will survive? And what will become of those caught in the sins of the fathers? I don’t know…the girls haven’t told me yet.

But, we’ve agreed it will take a third book to complete their stories.

BIOGRAPHY

Texas writer, DiAne Gates, illustrates and writes fiction for children, YA, and serious non-fiction for the folks. Her passion is calling the Church’s attention to how far we’ve catapulted from God’s order as evidenced by her blog Moving the Ancient Boundaries, http://dianegates.wordpress.com

Under contract with Prism Book Group for her YA novel Roped, DiAne reported and worked as a photographer for the East Texas Youth Rodeo Association. She had the opportunity to be in the rodeo arena, feel the sting of Texas turf in her face and across her camera lens, which gave birth to this western rodeo adventure series. The sequel Twisted is almost finished, and the third story still spins in her head.

DiAne leads two edit groups for North Texas Christian Writers—LifeSavers for adults, and the award winning teen group, The PageMasters. She facilitates GriefShare, an international support ministry for those who’ve lost loved ones.

Wife, mother, and grandmother, whose passion is to share those hard life lessons God taught her. Lessons that will leap from the page into your heart and play out in family relationships.

DiAne Gates, FB Author page

http://dianegates.wordpress.com/ Moving the Ancient Boundaries

 

 

The Rocky Journey to Publication

gazebo with titleI was thinking about the journey for my novel Pesto and Potholes. I wrote it on a whim and in under a month. The ninjas appeared because a friend on Facebook challenged me to put ninjas in. I took up the gauntlet and they provided a wonderful comic relief as well as a way to highlight my female protagonist’s character.

A few years ago I attended my first ever writer’s conference. I had the first chapter critiqued as well as my synopsis. Ann Tatlock was so gracious to me with her time and feedback.

As a result I pretty much rewrote the entire first chapter.

I met with an agent at that conference. My first ever pitch session. She prayed with me and was so encouraging. She liked my novel but didn’t want to take me on as a client and referred me to another agent at organization they both worked for because she thought it was more in line with what that agent preferred. Wrong. That agent thought my dialogue was stilted. Hmmm. That is so vague I’m still not sure what it means.

So I revised my novel, again, and sat on it and tried to work on some of my other projects. It probably would have sat there forever except my friend, Cherie Burbach kept telling me how much she loved the title and that I should pursue it. And a mentor, Lisa Lickel kept reminding me that an author can’t sit on a novel forever, waiting for it to be perfect. At some point it has to be submitted. Again.

It takes a village.

I finally obtained a literary agent, but she didn’t want contemporary romance. She’s working to sell my historicals.

I began working for a small press, Prism Book Group and helping other authors make their dreams come true. I submitted my story to another editor with our publishing house. Because I was her editor for her novels she didn’t feel comfortable editing mine. I get that. But my Editor-in-chief decided to take a look, because like me, she likes to make dreams come true. She loved the story.

Pesto 3D-Book-TemplateShe wanted to know if Antonio was real so she could perhaps introduce him to someone she knows. I wish!

There were many rounds of edits with my editor, Carolyn Boyles who made me laugh every time.. We reworked a book cover. There were copy edits, line edits, and proofreading. Ups and downs until voila! I have a novel thrust into the world.

Some liken writing a book to giving birth. A five year pregnancy? Ouch! And a novel is born. No need for it to learn to walk, only for me to encourage others to pick it up and read it and write a review and tell their friends about it.

My brother asked me last year what success would look like for my book.

The materialistic answer would be to sell a minimum of 5,000 copies. More if it’s a “best-seller.” And maybe the financial windfall that could accompany that.

But I want to impact hearts and change lives. Encourage those struggling in their faith.

I can’t measure that.

It’s really not much different than my hopes and prayers for my children as they grow. Sure I would love them to be financially secure and professionally successful. More than that I would hope they would honor God with their lives and He would be able to use them for His glory and purpose in this hurting world.

So as a child, Pesto and Potholes is already doing that and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  I’m grateful to the rejections that helped me get there. And that whatever I make on this book I don’t have to share with my agent…

Writer Wednesday with Julie Cosgrove

2nd_prof_portrait_crop_267x405I’d like to welcome author and speaker, Julie Cosgrove to Writer Wednesday.
When did you decided that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to… ? 
I fell into it, I guess. It brewed in the back of my brain ever since I excelled in creative writing in high school,  but God’s timing played a big part. I began writing devotionals and Bible studies, as well as freelance writing for websites. But slowly, the desire to be a novelist bubbled up and became an itch that needed scratching… a lot.
What’s your pet peeve? 
Rude, self-orientated people. But then, they would never know that because they are too self absorbed.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer? 
The time I didn’t have enough books for a vendor booth at a conference because I’d almost sold out the week before at another one, and didn’t have enough time to order any more. Now I always maintain 5 of each in inventory.
What has been your most difficult challenge as an author? 
The initial editing process, but in a good way. It stretches my brain and teaches me to be a better writer.
How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews? 
I am getting thicker skinned about it. SO far, none of my works have rated below a 3 star. I know someday the 1 star will happen, it is almost a right of passage. But ever since I let God be my P.R. manager, since I write for Him, it has been easier. I write to the best of my ability, and He decides whose lives it should touch.
What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career? 
Being contracted multiple times with a traditional, ACFW recognized publisher. I am excited to see where God leads beyond that because He’s already given me my heart’s desire.
What would be your top three pieces of advice to newer, up and coming authors? 
1. Write! Get it out of your head. You can always go back and edit later.
2. Seek out a supportive critique group which has published authors in it. It can be on line or one that meets in person.
3. Take their advice seriously and pray about it. It may hurt at first to see your writing critiqued, but we only grow through our mistakes, not our successes and every writer has room for improvement.
As a Christian author, what would you like your legacy to be?
That I brought people closer to seeing God work in their everyday lives.
What is your current work in process?
Well…I have several.  A novel which will launch in October called Free to Forgive, which is the story of a preteen’s rescue and redemption from trafficking, two novellas which are based on 1 Corinthians 13 called Navy Blues and Greener Grasses which will be out late 2015- early 2016, and a cozy mystery series.
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