Friday, January 15, 2010

Crafting Unforgettable Characters--Free E-book

My friend and fellow author K. M. Weiland has graciously allowed me to bring this info and offer to you.

As those of you follow me on Facebook and Twitter may already know, I’ve been hard at work for the last month, putting together an e-book as a gift to my readers. Today, I’m excited to announce that you can now claim your copy of Crafting Unforgettable Characters: A Hands-On Introduction to Bringing Your Characters to Life.

Featuring some of my most popular tips on character crafting, this pdf offers a good starting place for understanding the basics of character building, as well as some tips for troubleshooting. You’ll also discover inspiring quotes from successful authors, writing prompts, and creativity exercises. Of course, the discussion of character is far too vast a subject to be covered in a 50-page e-book, but this information will give you the tools you need to tackle your latest batch of characters.

Click here to follow the link.

Thanks, K.M. for letting me share.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Respect Your Novel---Just Write

I don't know about you, but my day is full of distractions. Since I am able to stay home and focus on writing fulltime, it seems there are even more distractions that take me away from my desk.

Whatever your situation you might have a hard time focusing on writing once you are able to put everything else aside and hit it hard. While preparing my presentation for a writers workshop in the Dayton, Ohio area next month, I came across this list I had compiled of What Not To Do's when you should be writing. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Even better, you might just find some inspiration.

Do not check your email. Do not log in to your favorite writers’ group to see what everyone’s up to. Do not turn on the TV and tell yourself its research. Do not wash the dishes. Do not reorganize your computer files. Do not take out the trash. Do not Google your exes. Do not Google yourself. Do not take a nap—I fight this temptation every afternoon. Do not change the cat litter. Do not hang out the laundry. Do not file your nails. Do not answer the phone. Do not pay your bills. Do not balance your checkbook. Do not yell at your husband because he didn’t record the last five transactions. Do not start to think you don’t actually have what it takes to write a book. Do not edit your ideas before you even write them down. Do not start a to-do list. Do not start wondering if that mole is bigger than the last time you looked at it. Do not start thinking of all the loose ends you need to fix before you finish your book. Do not start perusing your own bookshelves for inspiration. Do not organize all the magazines you subscribe to but never read. Do not start thinking about what to fix for dinner. Do not look up the number for the local delivery place because you probably won’t have time to cook dinner since you’re having such an awesome writing day. Do not start worrying about all the time you’ve already wasted. Do not come up with 20 more Do-Not’s to add to this list.

Enough lolly-gagging. Get back to work!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Do your habits hold you back?

They say old habits die hard. For me that is especially true. Have you ever moved a clock from one wall to another? How many times did you look at the blank wall to check the time only to remember the clock had been moved?

This week on American Christian Fiction Writers, they are discussing habits, both good and bad, that either rob us of our time or make us more productive. I examined my writing habits to see which ones should be eradicated and which ones I need to adopt?

One habit that I start every day with is logging into Spark People—an online community for those looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle—and logging my fitness minutes. You get Spark Points for time spent working out. Once I’m there, I check out the challenges for the day, see how my Spark Buddies are doing on my teams, and posting encouragement to newcomers.

Nothing wrong with that, but if I’m not careful, in no time at all an entire hour has slipped away. I do the same thing when looking for blog ideas. Other blogs are so darn interesting I have to stop and read. I convince myself it’s for research. After all, I need to see what they’re doing to attract so many visitors. The same goes for Facebook and Twitter. Before I know it, it’s almost eleven and I haven’t written a word.

The afternoon brings its own challenges. I usually eat my lunch around one. I look forward to that hour all day. I nuke something and plop down in front of the TV for some downtime. One episode of The King of Queens turns into two and then I watch an episode of The Office that I recorded last night. Or worse I doze off on the couch and don’t accomplish a thing.

What about my good habits? Hmmm. There has to be something. First thing every morning I watch Joyce Meyer, work out, and then watch another preacher from Singapore while I cool down before taking a shower. It’s after I get out of the shower that my routine breaks down.

I need to learn to apply the same dedication to writing as I do my workout routine. I worked out on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day because I didn’t want to gain over the holidays. Achieving my writing goals should be more important, or at least as much as keeping off the weight I had lost. While my health is important, my career should have the same priority.

Habits I need to incorporate:
1. Keep the TV off, especially during the day when I am home alone. What better time is there to write?
2. Prioritize. Each day is a gift. Don’t waste a moment of it.
3. Don’t answer the phone every time it rings. Not every call needs to be taken when it is convenient for the caller.
4. Write at the same time every day. Begin early and finish early so if something comes up I’m not behind in my work.

What about your writing habits? Are they productive or ineffective? What do you need to incorporate into your routine and what should you eradicate? It’s a new year—an opportunity to begin anew. Don’t lament the time wasted or what didn’t work last year. Move on, and move up.

Happy Writing

Monday, January 4, 2010

Taking Inventory

Two years ago my friend joined a group called Celebrate Recovery created by The Purpose Driven Life’s Rick Warren. She has grown immeasurably since joining. One thing she told me about the other day was taking inventory of her life, especially of how she has grown from last year to this.

Unlike resolutions, an inventory is simply a way of making sure you are on track to reach your goals you have already set and evaluating where you are on your journey, whether spiritually, physically, in relationships, career, or any other goal a person might have made.

Unfortunately my inventory was so depressing I cannot bear to post it here. Suffice it to say, I did not get a book contract. That goal makes all others pale in comparison. The factors that determine whether a book is picked up by a publisher or not are not completely within the author’s control, especially in such tough economic times. But that doesn’t take the sting out of the rejection or the amount of time I am further behind in seeing an actual book on a shelf. I did procure an agent. I wrote the first draft of a new book. After focusing my energies in building a web presence and trying to publish the books already finished, that one is still in a rough, hideous state.

I will continue in 2010 to hone my skills and grow in the craft. If something doesn’t change soon, I will be forced out of the house and back to the nine-to-five grind. Since I would rather eat barbed wire, I trust this sense of urgency will propel me to take drastic measures, like actually fastening my rear to the chair and focusing on my writing.

What about you? Are you on the right path to end up where you want to go? What resistance do you regularly face? What can you do today that will put you on the fast track to your goals?

Here’s to a blessed, beautiful and healthy 2010.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010--A year of REVOLUTION, not resolution

Every year as we bid adieu to one year and welcome another, we do so with such enthusiasm and expectations. We wipe our slates clean and start the New Year with a fresh outlook. We are sure this is the year we’ll make permanent, positive changes, whether in our finances, relationships, careers, health, whatever.

It’s a great way to start off a New Year, but most often our resolve doesn't last long enough to produce any real results. The initial enthusiasm wears off and all too soon we find ourselves right back where we started.

A "resolution" is a statement of action. Thus, to be resolved, means to be committed and dedicated to an act. That’s where our trouble starts. We want to make changes, we are just not committed enough to take the necessary steps to see our resolutions through to the end.

Just how determined are you to make changes in 2010? Changes that will endure?

The only obstacle between you and making this a year of Revolution is you. Do you want to quit smoking? Lose weight? Get out of debt? Spend more time with your family? Read through the Bible? Finish that novel you've been talking about? Get a book contract?

What's the resolution you'd rather turn into a REVOLUTION?

First and foremost you must believe your goals are worth working for. Secondly, free your mind of the negative images that keep you from taking the proper steps to reach those goals. Banish from your life whatever is holding you back. Move forward with resolve and determination. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Nothing worth having comes easy. It's time to declare 2010 a year of revolution. A year we become free of our old patterns and set our lives in a direction we want. A year of real change!