Obedience vs. Pride

This is a blog post I’ve been sitting on for a while. It’s a lesson that I feel God has been teaching me over and over and over again in 2015. As I look to 2016, I wonder what new lesson(s) God will show me. Or if it will just be this same one over again. (‘Cause, that’s a very real possibility! I just don’t know that I have this one down, yet!)

I gained even further clarity with the whole Obedience Vs. Pride thing during the Advent season. Ya know, Mary and Joseph and that little guy, baby Jesus? Yeah, them. Because really, this lesson can be applied to any area of my life, not just the big things. 

It started almost a year ago. It was in February 2015 that Tim and I felt like the Lord had made it clear that we were to move to Hawaii. “Come again, God? Are you serious?” was our first reaction, followed by “Woo-hoo!! We’re moving to Hawaii!”, then a, “Ummm… wait. We have to sell all our stuff to move? Whaaa…?” Needless to say, it’s been extremely emotional for the whole family. The excitement of moving to paradise, the mourning of leaving family and friends. It’s all there.

So, it would stand to reason, that as I talked more and more and more about it, I realized not everyone was on board with this mighty plan that God had come up with. I was feeling slightly Noah-ish, honestly. Like I had just announced to the world that I was building an ark for a world-wide flood that was on it’s way. And honestly? I sort of hated that ick feeling inside I’d get, every time someone gave me that look, the one that said, “Sure. God told you to move to paradise. Right.”

So then my insecurities would kick in and I’d question myself. “Was that really you, God? Had we really heard you right? What if God changed His mind?” *panic sets in* “What if God totally pulled an Abraham/Isaac thing and He waited until we sold everything to tell us not to go? OH MY WORD, WHAT IF GOD DECIDED TO MAKE US STAY AFTER ALL WE HAD SAID AND DONE AND WE LOOKED LIKE FOOLS IN FRONT OF EVERYONE?!” 

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And then this little tiny voice whispered in my ear, “So what? Do it anyway.”  Continue reading

The New and the Old

So apparently when you have a blog, you’re supposed to update it. Yes, yes, I get that I’ve slacked lately, and I can’t wait to tell you why! Here’s the skinny on all that’s going on both past and present!

My writing:

The biggest news is, I’m so close to finishing my newest novel, Orphan Princess – a middle grade medieval fantasy adventure! I’ve been writing this since July – which is kill.ing me!, since it normally only takes a couple months for me to kick out a rough draft. This is the first full length novel I’ve written in the ‘Pantsing‘ mode, so I’ve had a few detours happen – specifically with plotting. (It’s hard to plot when you’re pantsing!) The good news is, I think I’ve found my rhythm and I ended up doing my first major revision before the manuscript was even finished! I expect to be done with the rough draft in the next week – at which time my first revision will be done, too! Backwards, but it works somehow. I will do a separate blog post about this book at a later date. Stay tuned!

As for the other scripts I have noted as ‘In revision’, I plan to get those done in early 2016, so I can move on to other projects. Yay!

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Just Write.

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Greater Philly Conference. It was my first ever writer’s conference that lasted more than a single day. I skipped the ‘Early Bird Wednesday’ but had three very full days of classes, appointments and worship. It was exhausting. It was costly. And it was absolutely worth it! 

The big difference between this writer’s conference compared to others, would be that it is faith based. We did lots of praying, had worship multiple times and talked about how we can incorporate the message of Jesus into our writing – whether fiction or non-fiction. I received counsel regarding the technical part of my writing, as well as encouragement in branching out and writing things other than fiction. It was fantastic and I loved every minute of it.

But these things weren’t what changed me. 

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Confessions of a closet Pantser

I have a confession to make.

I am a Pantser. 

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I didn’t know I was a Pantser. I’ve never been a Pantser. But lo and behold, I found out this week that I’ve had a forty-year-old Pantser living inside me, waiting to come out!

Ask anyone who knows me, and they will be able to tell you without hesitation, that I most certainly must be a Plotter novelist. I’m slightly OCD (ok, maybe a lot OCD) about a whole lot of things, and organization makes me feel good. It makes me feel safe.

The current novel I’m revising began with a 30-page backstory. Thirty pages, people! And that was just the beginning! I have dozens (hundreds?) of pages with character backstories, timelines, revised plot lines (and even more revised plot lines). And I’ve got sticky notes all over my dining room wall, ready to be moved around at a moments notice. After my most recent writer’s conference, I even have pages defining the Myer’s Briggs personality types for each of my characters. And that’s just for one book. Holy schmoly, I. am. a. Plotter.  Continue reading

Passion, writing, and a little bit of Shrek

This morning my four-year-old daughter and I were in the car alone, and I decided to put on the soundtrack to Shrek Jr. the Musical. My two older daughters are currently in the production, so we’ve been singing the songs a lot, lately. During one particularly upbeat song, the music swelled and Fiona belted a high note. Naturally, Scarlett and I sang right along with just as much passion, holding our jazz hands in proper theatrical performance style. Then the song ended and she bounced in her seat, eager to sing the next one with just as much gusto as the last.

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It occurred to me that there are times my writing lacks this type of passion.

Just a few weeks ago, I attended a writer’s conference and had the opportunity to sit down with one of the faculty members to discuss the query letter I’m currently sending out for a manuscript. I’d already received a number of rejections – totally expected, but still stunk– and I wanted to pick her brain to find out if there was anything more I could be doing to make some headway in finding an agent.  Continue reading

Snapchats and piles of laundry

I can totally handle any and all distractions today and will do nothing but write. 

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This is a lie I tell myself every day. Not that I expect to do nothing but write all day, but the fact that I believe I can dodge distraction is just laughable. I’m a distractible person.

I am distractor. I am distractee. I distract. It’s just my life. (No, I don’t know if I have ADD and I don’t wish to find out.)

So, I sit and plan. I make lists and goal sheets, reminders and accountability partners. I try and try and try to get my butt off Facebook, close out my email, turn off the TV and write.

And guess what? It totally doesn’t work. I’m so distracted. Why, for the love, why?

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2015 Goal Check-In

I was appalled and dismayed to see that today is the last day of the month. This could have something to do with the fact that I lost about half the month to illness, dental emergencies and ER visits, but whatev, right? The fact of the matter is, March. Is. Over. Which means 2015 is one quarter over. 

I can’t even. *blinks slowly* 

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When did that happen? And why does this keep happening faster and faster the older I get? (Not that I’m old, cause I’m not. I am merely a twenty year old trapped in a body twice it’s age. Stop laughing.) 

So I woke up today and thought, ‘Wow, I should really review how I’ve been doing with those goals I set a few months back.’ Yeah. That’s something I’ve been avoiding, actually, since I’m a perfectionist and will never feel that I’m living up to the standard I’ve set. But writing is about being real, and being real is the only way I’m going to get better at writing, so here goes! Continue reading

Diving into the unknown

The time has come. I am finally ready to stop talking about getting (traditionally) published and ready to go for it.

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It’s not something I saw in my life twenty years ago, or even fifteen, for that matter. I’ve always liked to write, but never considered that it might turn into something more. Even when I was first married, I would disappear into a hole for a month or two until I finished a manuscript, my husband would ask what I was going to do with it, and my reply was always, ‘nothing’. It wasn’t too long after that that I began to entertain the idea that I might one day actually see my name in print.

But there’s a big difference between writing a book and actually setting about finding an agent and publisher. It takes four times as long to revise and edit the manuscript as it did in creating the first draft, and that time doesn’t include being sure the query letter is properly written and the right amount of research for each agent to be queried, has been done. Which, of course, is one reason why I never followed through with the traditional route.

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The benefits of stepping back…

So, it never ceases to amaze me how a little time away from my writing, can make a world of difference.

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Each time I step away from a manuscript, I always – always – come back with better ideas, and insight I just didn’t have before. Time and again, I grow frustrated with a work, accepting defeat, admitting that I just can’t be objective any longer.

Then I step away for a month. 

Once I return to it, I am always amazed at the fresh perspective I suddenly have, at my renewed ability to see ragged holes within the storyline, spots within the script that are slow enough that I will certainly lose my readers.

What I’ve come to understand is that time away is a gift to writers.

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In the modern world of writing, it seems that every author is in a race against the next, hoping to get their story out first, striving to be the next great writer before someone else nabs the coveted spot.

But times like these remind me that I need to choose to take my time, to space out my edits, not to rush ahead before my work is complete. Even if no one else ever reads the words I’ve penned, knowing that I’ve given my best is what aids the patience I need when awaiting my next revision.

What about you – do you find time away between your edits helps or hinders your work in progress? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section!

Happy reading – and writing – friends!

What are your writing New Year’s Resolutions?

New Year’s Resolutions. We all make them. We all break them. 

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But, with a little forethought and proper planning, it is possible to aspire to a resolution that you can embrace.

Let’s be honest, the main reason people give up on their New Years Resolutions is because they’ve made their goals too grand – unattainable even for those with the most sincere heart. But it is possible to create goals for successful writing in 2015 – ones that you will not be tempted to break.

First, you need to know the difference between goals and desires.

desire: to wish or long for; crave; want.

goal: the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.

Here’s the skinny on the two: Desires require control that you just don’t have, because others are involved. Goals rely only on you. Period. 

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