Showing posts with label encouragement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label encouragement. Show all posts

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Brown Shoes VS Black Shoes

Aspiring writer friends, I know we want people to love our writing, and subsequently buy our books—hopefully more than a few people—but what about those who don’t? How much does that matter to you?

If you’re writing a psychological thriller, and a friend only reads western romance novels with hunky cowboys, chances are, she won’t like your book. Understandable, right?  I won’t bother purchasing your cowboy romance, nor will I buy your newly published book about aliens invading San Francisco. Okay, if we know each other well, I will buy them. I’ve read many books out of my normal interests because I know the author, but I will never buy a book like “Fifty Shades of Grey”—even if my daughter writes it!  I will wish you the best of luck, but don’t expect me to read it. And that should be okay. It doesn’t reflect on your ability to write a good book. It only says my interests are different.

 I recently pinned some photos of plants that I hope to add to the landscape of our soon-to-be home. A friend commented that a couple of the plants I liked would "grow ugly". I knew what she meant, but that feature was one of the things that I liked about the plant. She conceded that people have different tastes with a comment something like, "That's why we have brown shoes and black shoes." 

No matter where your talent lies, there will be someone who doesn’t appreciate it. I don’t think many would say Barbra Streisand can’t sing, but there are many who would not pay to own her albums.

I say all this to encourage you. And as writers, we all need encouragement. There are enough stumbling blocks in this process without raising our expectations beyond realistic heights—that everyone in the world would fall in love with our book and give it raving five-star reviews. Not. Gonna. Happen.

This afternoon, I finished reading TheNight Bird by Brian Freeman.I LOVED this book! Psychological thriller is one of my favorite genres. However, I find many authors can’t tell a tale without excessive foul language and sex. I’d rather not read it. This author had enough talent that he could fill a book without the need for graphic sex and bad talk. I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end. 

I went on Amazon to post a review, and as always, there were numerous one-star reviews. I read through them to see what it was that people disliked about this book. One reviewer wrote that it would desensitize people to violence. Well, that is debatable for sure. But wouldn’t that hold true for all psychological thrillers? Is it fair to rate a book so low because you don’t like the genre? More than one said the plot wasn’t believable. I often read reviews criticizing an author for writing exactly the way the genre should be written!

Okay, it wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read. The author had a habit of using the “grocery list” method of describing characters. In a couple of places, it harshly interrupted the flow of the story. (If I were his editor, this is an area I would have asked him to chop.) And although the storyline was crazy, it’s supposed to be! It’s a psychological thriller. That means it’s also fiction. I don’t think the events in this book could really happen. I don’t care. It was entertaining and had me turning pages on the edge of my seat!

I’m glad Mr. Freeman isn’t going to stop writing because a few people don’t like his books. I plan on reading many more from this author. I’m sure that the bestselling authors have had more than their share of bad reviews. So when you finish that manuscript and throw it out there to the world, don’t dwell on that reader who says your book bored him, or she didn’t care for your style, or your story isn’t feasible. Dwell on the fact that you did it! Dwell on all the times people told you it was good. Dwell on the enjoyment you got when you typed The End. Dwell on being called a published author.

By the way, I prefer brown shoes...but I often wear black.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Get 'er done!

If I recorded in a journal each night how I spent my day, it would not look 
anything like what I claim to prioritize.  (You all know what I'm talking about. 
Do you prioritize Facebook? Twitter? Television?)

Maybe we just need daily reminders of our priorities. 

I decided I needed to make dates with my writer self. 

And keep them.

This month I had two appointments on my calendar for updating
my blogs. It worked! Although, I didn't get the task finished, I made major progress.

My mouth dropped open when I really dug in and saw how outdated my pages were. Some of my sidebar links were no longer pointing to anything. A few were still working but quite dated, and better off gone. (Don't investigate yet--I'm not done.)

I spent the most time on my farm blog. A little voice asked me why I would waste time there if my
book was a priority. I thought about it...

Writing a blog is good exercise. Not for the body, but for the writer's brain.
Besides, I have things to write about that don't belong in a novel.
And I enjoy writing.

You know the old saying: If you don't use it, you lose it! So I'm using it.

Are you stuck in a rut? Does writer's block have you avoiding your WIP?
Write something else. Write a poem.
Write an essay. Write a blog.

I have a date with my book.

It's on my calendar in April. 

I have given myself advance notice.

Whatever it is you've been putting off, why not mark you calendar?
Do it now.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Struck by the Proverbial Lightning Bolt!

It's been almost a year since I wrote this post about the dilemma I face with my WIP. Since then, God has been busy with me. Funny thing is, I didn't even realize how much He was doing!

Does this verse from Psalm 25 hit home for any of you?
 Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by our truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.

I prayed continuously for God to show me what He wanted me to do with my book. But I didn't just pray about my writing...

God has led me into working in children's and teen ministry. I enjoy it tremendously, and love watching the seeds grow! But He put on my heart that there was another purpose for which He was calling me, and I just couldn't put my finger on it. I prayed and prayed for wisdom and enlightenment. I had lots of ideas, but no clear direction...

Seek God's will in all you do, and He will show you the path to take. Proverbs 3:6

In His Word, He promises to show us the path...right? 
I was constantly looking for the illuminated road sign. 
When I found my path, I would know it...right?

I've been taught that God will give you affirmation.
He will make sure you know that you know...
So I waited for clarity.
And I waited.
Until...clarity knocked me over.

Forgive me for all the back-story I'm about to share, but it's important.

 If you follow my blog, you know that I'm a fan of Jody Hedlund. You also know (if your 
memory is better than mine, or if you clicked the above link for a past post) that I avoided reading Christian fiction for a long while. I don't know if I shared how I came to read Jody's books...

I won her debut novel in a contest I don't remember entering.

Let's switch gears from Jody to Terri. 

Through blogger, I became friends with Terri Tiffany, another inspirational writer. Terri had been published many times in the Chicken Soup books, along with various publications including Sunday school papers, but had yet to have a novel published. Somehow, I ended up teaching her how to do a little something with images and text on her blog, and from there I ended up being a beta reader for a book she wrote titled The Mulligan. (I think my next post might be a review. Hint: 5-stars. Buy it!)

I have also read her next-to-be-published book that landed her an agent! So let's just go ahead and call her a profession author. A real honest-to-goodness author.

More than once, she offered to read my WIP, so I nervously sent her some chapters. The feedback I received brought me to tears!

No, it wasn't that bad. Though, she did offer some constructive advice for which I am thankful, she said she saw talent. She asked me why I wasn't writing. I remember how I felt when I read her reply. This real author liked my writing! She encouraged me so much! 


Switching gears again...

On Tuesday mornings, I attend a ladies' Bible study. I can't even begin to tell you how much our in-depth studying has sculpted my life. God has revealed so much to me through my homework...

We are currently doing a Beth Moore study titled Children of the Day on 1 & 2 Thessalonians. In our homework this past week, the focus for one day was on how to figure out what God has created you to do. Hmm...I need this. I leaned forward in my chair. After reading that God made us with our own unique DNA for a purpose, and that we just need surrender to Him, her very next paragraph said:
"If you're a writer..."

I honestly cried.

I'm sitting there, ready for this illumination--'Beth, tell me what to do!' She could have started this section with any other example... If you're a teacher; if you're a prayer warrior; if you're a singer--but she didn't. She wrote, "If you're a writer..." Why? Why would she choose those specific words to start this point? This is a Bible study--not a writer's conference. She had just been talking about missionaries and foster parents--people really doing godly work--not creative thinkers.

"If you're a writer..." I just can't type it enough!

And if that's not a bright enough light for the trail, two pages later, Beth instructs us:
"OK! It's your turn! Testify in this space to ways God has used others to encourage, train, or direct you in your works or your calling. Get specific, using names..." 
I didn't have to think about it. My instantaneous answer started with:
'Terri Tiffany asked me why I'm not writing.'

 If you randomly asked me, "Who does God use to encourage you?" my answer might list some of the mature ladies at church or a best friend. But in that moment--when the proverbial lightning bolt came right through the ceiling of my dining room--I thought of Terri. And Jody. And Beth Moore. And the many other Christian authors to whom I have made connections online and through books.

Let's do a super-condensed time-line of events...
  1. I won a Christian novel in a contest I don't remember entering. (And I didn't mention that I rarely--almost never--enter contests.)
  2. I became good friends with a contemporary author who lives over a thousand miles away.
  3. Beth Moore wrote, "If you're a writer..."

Tell me why I was looking for confirmation. All this time I have questioned whether my book should be secular or inspirational. All this time I have wondered what special ministry God has planned for me since before I was conceived. Anybody have any idea what I'm supposed to do?

The answer was right there all along.

Some of us just need a two-by-four to the side of the head.

Or a lightning bolt.