Thursday, August 21, 2014

Just an Ordinary Pot

   We’ve all heard the term, “Winning is everything.” While it might not be everything the thrill of reaching that finish line, selling that first novel or achieving that first goal, is so exhilarating, we immediately crave that feeling again. That’s when the drive for ‘more’ takes over. We want to win more races, sell more books, achieve more recognition, and win awards. There’s nothing wrong with striving for success, but the truth is, not everyone is destined for greatness.
   This is when the nasty bug called comparison can kick in. It can strike any of us in any line of work. Competition in publishing is fierce. To succeed we’re urged to participate in social media to promote ourselves. Be on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Have a blog, a web page, do give-a-ways and newsletters, enter contests so you can add Award Winning to your resume. And of course write books.
   So for insecure writers, it’s easy to look at what other successful authors are doing and feel like you’re not measuring up. Sometimes, as I scroll through all the good news posted on Facebook by other authors I begin to feel like I’m not doing enough. There are authors who seem to be super heroes – they work full time, homeschool their five kids, write a daily blog, a monthly newsletter, serve as president of their local writers group and in their spare time teach100 other authors how to write a best seller. It’s enough to make me want to go throw a great big pity party. Woe is me. I’m not promoting enough. I’m not writing fast enough. I should write bigger books, issue oriented books, suspense books.
   It’s awards season in the publishing world – the time when the hundreds of contests held each year announce their winners. Winning an award can boost your career up several notches, especially if it’s a prestigious one. Some authors seem to win them by the truck loads. Nearly every book they write wins some kind of award.
   As Christians we know we’re not supposed to compare ourselves to others, but it’s difficult not to at times. The truth is, not all writers are created equal. God has given us each a gift to use for his glory. Some of us will write big, epic novels. Others will pen gritty suspense, coming of age, or high adventure stories. And some simply want to write romance.
   I’ve been asked; don’t you want to write bigger books someday? Something significant? I always answer no. I love writing romance. It’s all I ever wanted to do. I don’t have the call to write women’s fiction, or delve into political issues or even to write a frenetically paced suspense.
   I confess to twinges of envy when I see others gathering awards like bunches of grapes and when I hear of authors who write six books a years as if it’s nothing. I’m a one at a time writer. It takes a great deal of thought, and hard work to get one plotted and written. If I allowed myself to get too caught up in what others are doing I’d quit right now.
   So what do I do? I keep a couple of Bible verses in the forefront of my mind. One is
Philippians 4:11  I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
   I am content with my productivity. I’m working at a pace that is comfortable for my abilities, and my stage in life. More significant is the other verse I like. Romans 9:21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?
   My task may be to provide sweet romances for common use. And I’m good with that. As long as I do it for his glory, and make my stories reflect his heart I’m content. If any of my little stories are destined for a more special purpose then I’ll leave that in His hands.
   In the meantime, I’ll keep following the path he has laid out for me, and be extremely grateful and content. Not everyone gets to travel the way of publication.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Three Questions to Ensure Conflict

Ask any editor the main reason submissions are rejected and they will tell you - lack of conflict. My editors at Love Inspired tweet about it frequently, speakers expound on it. Books delve into it and seminars go on for hours about its importance. So how do you build in conflict from the start? Make sure you can answer these three questions before you start writing your book.

Why are Hero and Heroine the worst for each other?
These two aren’t supposed to be soul mates from the moment they meet. Even if there’s an attraction or a history, they should have reasons why falling in love is the last thing they want.
Example: A woman who lost her husband to violence would resist falling in love with a man who was a cop. A man would resist falling for the woman who broke his heart years ago especially if he has his children’s hearts to protect now.

Why is this the worst possible time?
Falling in love has to be the very last thing on the hero and heroine’s agenda when the book opens. Something more important is going on. Loss of job, loved one, being stranded, forced to assume care of child or relative. The growing attraction should complicate their situations, and add to their conflicted emotions.

What is the urgency?
Set a timer on your story. Force the hero and heroine into making a decision. Example: His leave is up at the end of the month. Her dream job in another city starts soon. Once her mother is better she’ll return home. If there’s nothing pushing them forward, then they’re simply dating and dating equals no conflict.

If you’re like me the word conflict always made me envision a hero and heroine bickering, and fighting each other at every turn. It helped when I changed the word “conflict” to “obstacles”.  The goal of any romance is to keep the couple resisting falling in love until the very end. They have issues they need to confront internally, realizations to come to about themselves and their choices, and they have outward problems to overcome before they can have that happy ending.
Make it hard for them to fall in love. Make it cost them something they want. Then the ending will be much sweeter for the author and the reader.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Another Dover Romance On the Way

Time to schedule a trip down south. You’re invited back to Dover, Mississippi this March for another story about the Durrant family. This romance is for the middle brother, Tyler, a Dallas police officer wounded in the line of duty, and Ginger Sloan a widow who longs for a safe place to raise her son.
            You’ll meet Ty’s mentor, Dover Police Chief Brady Reynolds, and many other Dover residents as the church comes together to help a needy family. The Durrants are back too. Parents, Angie and Tom, Matt and Shelby and the kids, Cassidy and Kenny, (Rekindled Romance), and Laura and Adam Holbrook (Restoring His Heart)play a part in the story too.
           Ty and Ginger must overcome many obstacles before declaring their feelings. Dover in January can change from hot to cold in a moment, just like the up and down relationship between Ty and Ginger. Make your plans to stop by Dover in March and let Ginger and Ty share their journey to happiness with you.

Protecting the Widow’s Heart – Love Inspired March 2014

                           To Love and Protect
Ginger Sloan’s had enough of heartache. She just wants a peaceful place where she and her son can start over and feel safe. Getting stranded in a Lakeside cabin outside Dover, Mississippi, isn’t part of her plan. Then again, neither is falling for the cabin’s handsome owner. Injured on the job, detective Tyler Durrant retreats to his cabin to heal. He’s shocked to find the single mom  and her son there. And surprised at the way Ginger affects his heart. For the first time in years, he has hope for the future, but can he convince Ginger that she can find a safe haven in his arms.

            Book #3 - Home to Dover series - A small town with a big heart

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

You Won't Believe What I did at the ACFW Conference!

I spent fifteen minutes talking with agent Mary Sue Seymour as we waited for the doors to open for the Gala. I tried to steal the chair from Chip MacGregor’s appointment area the first day because I was tired of standing. He said no. I chatted with Emily Rodmell about her helpful twitter posts. I exchanged greetings with Robin Jones Gunn as we waited for the elevator. I was scolded by Lena Nelson Dooley for not asking to be interviewed on her blog. I made a dozen new writer friends. I ate meals with authors and writers from all over the world. I met two young people ages fifteen and sixteen who were there to learn how to improve their writing. I sat with, and cheered on a Genesis award winner (Hi Suzanne).
            I raised my voice in praise and song with 500 other believers every morning. I sat at the feet of gifted teachers who helped me understand the middle of a book, the dangers of e-pub contracts, and ways to market my book most effectively. I encouraged several writers who were wondering if it would ever happen for them, and shared my story of the bad conference that turned out so well. I was encouraged by those a few steps higher on the ladder that me.  
            I laughed. I cried. I was lifted up by the keynote speaker who reminded us what our gifts and our journeys are all about. I was served by hotel staff that always smiled, always helped, and worked overtime to make sure our stay was perfection.
            I collected business cards from scores of writers with varied skills and talents that I can contact when I need research information. I spent time with Love Inspired authors and editors who have my best interests at heart. I stepped out of my comfort zone and looked to assist first timers and not worry about me.
            I was blessed beyond words.
And you say you can’t afford to go to conference? You can’t afford NOT to.

*(I understand the financial burden of conference, but please remember that there are scholarships available to help. Attendees are always looking for roommates to share the cost. Try and attend a conference near you to cut costs. If you are serious about your writing career you need to step out of your comfort zone and step into the publishing arena. Editors, agents, mentors and ACFW staff are all devoted to helping you learn and grow and work to put you in touch with people who can help. Meeting editors and agents in person can make all the difference. I met my agent when she sat down next to me at dinner. That wouldn’t have happened if I’d stayed home. So pray about it, plan for it and I hope to meet you next year in St Louis.)