Saturday, January 30, 2010

Learning to Write from the Internet

Almost every day for the past five years I have made it a point to learn something about writing, and most often it has been done using my favorite tool - the Internet.  When I became serious about learning the craft of writing, pretty much my only resource for learning how to write Christian fiction  was the internet. I couldn't afford to purchase all those great writing books I had heard of, but I already was online because of my small business.   I set out to discover everything I could by gleaning from the expertise that experienced writers were willing to share about how to write well. Here are some of my writing "teachers" and a few other great sites for learning the craft.

Kaye Dacus - Writing Series

Gail Gaymer Martin's Writing Right - Author of Writing the Christian Romance

Story Sensei, Camy Tang - Camy also teaches writing at Suite 101

Susan May Warren's, My Book Therapy

Lee Masterson at The Fiction Factor

Leigh Michaels

Mary DeMuth - So You Wanna Be Published

Randy Ingermanson - Advanced Fiction Writing

Brandilyn Collins - Forensics and Faith

Cecil Murphy's Writer to Writer -  (new blog)

What resources have helped you learn to write (any genre) and where did you get the materials?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Is God Waiting For You?

Today I'd like to share with you a reading from my favorite devotional, Streams in the Dessert by Lettie B. Cowman (1870-1960).  She and her husband, Charles E. Cowman were missionaries in Japan and China from 1901 to 1917, during which time  they helped found the Oriental Missionary Society. After her husband's death Mrs. Cowman wrote and/or compiled nine books.

Countless times this book has ministered to me through the years.  The wisdom I find there is like a great treasure.  What follows speaks of times when the Lord waits to bless us. I'm quite certain that I have fallen into that category since my fears, reluctance, procrastination, perfectionsim, inexperience, lack of confidence, you name it, has kept me from taking steps forward to realizing some of my dreams.  More than that, my purpose.  I am sure that I have been called to write, but sometimes I have lacked the faith to take the steps in that direction. Now that I have finally begun, I have become encouraged as I see the path opening up for me along the way to that Promised Land. Yet, even when I delay, somehow, someway, God's timing always seems right on time!  I hope I become more faithful in my willingness to let him do his work in and through me.
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love,
O LORD, endures forever--do not abandon the works of your hands.
Psalm 138:8

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Write What You Know or What You Want to Know

Thank you again, so much for all your thoughts and prayers.  I've missed you so much while I've been taking a little time away.  Since I've been doing research for my novel in progress I thought I'd take a little time and talk about how I go about it.  They say write what you know which I don't think means writing always from personal experiences, although given some of my life events I can write from an emotional and an intellectual standpoint on many topics. This is a given that all writers bring to their work.  I think it makes our writing so much more authentic, be it a song, story, or non-fiction when we can write from our own hearts and understanding.  When we can empathize and not just sympathize, though there is merit there, as well.  Many painful experiences have taken me to place I never wish I had the opportunity to go, but such is life. I have learned that God doesn't waste our sorrows when we trust in Him. 

Now, about those physical places that I'd like to travel to do research for my writing. I love hearing about the on location research that authors conduct:  M. L. Tyndall as she visits Tall Ships From Coast to Coast, Geraldine Brooks' investigating the dark history of Eyam, England's Year of Wonders, Lori Smith's Walk With Jane Austen, or Liz Curtis Higgs travels in Scottland. How I long to travel to the locations of my stories in reality. As my imagination soars I am there already, but it requires knowlege the ground the stories. Mainers have a little saying, "Cahn't get theyah from heah.", which is often true for me. But thanks to the Internet I can travel anywhere I want to go. One the same token, I can "meet" people who I would never have had the opportunity to know.  My one little caveat is that not everything on the internet is true, so if "facts" are learned you will need to verify them.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Prayers needed

Hi blogging friends, We had a family tragedy so I'm taking a few days off from my internet activities. My step-cousin was murdered along with 2 others and an unborn child, 3 others were injured.  My family is obviously hurting very much from this so I would appreciate your prayers.  Thank you so much and I'll see you again soon.

Love & Blessings,

You all are so amazing!  I so appreciate your love and prayers and kind thoughts.  Thank you so very much.  I've missed you all and will be back at blogging again this week.

You are a true blessing to me!



Saturday, January 16, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again!

Hey there! I've been out on the range rounding up research for my southwest historical.  Most of my research to this point takes place in southwestern Colorado and northeast New Mexico.  I've been having a blast getting to know old ghost towns, early settlements, mining communities, historic ruins, etc.  And I've managed to rope in 9,000 words since the onset of this grand adventure.

So if you wondered where I've been in blogging land, here I am. I've also had a rough migraine week.  Could it have anything to do with the amount of time I spend on the computer? Don't even think it! My brain is in overdrive so that could be it, too.

Since I'm in horsey mode, I thought I might share with you a few horse photos I took when I lived next to a small horse farm (4 horses and a plethora of other creatures).  I used to do horse sit when our neighbors were away for days and weeks at a time, once I had them for 6 weeks.  I grew up with horses so it was lots of fun getting to spend so much time with them again. Some of my favorite memories are when I was a teen and I'd take my horse, Ginger, out on the trails (tromping ground of the Wampanoag Indians). I used to take lots of pictures of her, too, with my Kodak 110mm Instamatic Camera!  My Mom was a champion horsewoman, and we cheered her on weekly at horseshows during the season, as she showed Bar T Sentinel.  She also had a horse named Firefly. I'm using his name for one of the horses in my story. It's kind of fun getting to use a little of my horse knowledge in my writing.  Enjoy the photos!

See the deer in the left hand corner of the coral?
The heard of deer came into the coral with the
horses at the same time every day.

I just happened to catch Chief playfully jumping in the air!

Dinner time.  Beau (right) is an adopted wild Mustang from the west.
  In front is Buster, a Maine Coon Cat - very friendly with the horses.

Here's Indigo, each eye a different color. There's the blue one!

Do you have any favorite childhood recollections that you can use in your writing?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Shadow Catcher's Daughter

I'd like to introduce you to my newest work in progress for the new proposal I'm writing for. In the last week I've written 5,000 words and done a ton of research.  I'm having such a great time with it. And since I'm such a visual person, I created a graphic montage of my characters and setting.

The Shadow Catcher's Daughter (formerly titled Sunlight and Shadows) my contribution to a 3 book set about romance in the Four Corners (CO,UT,AZ,NM). This historical romance is set in 1875 in Colorado Territory during the surveying expedition of the four corners, which will mark the quadripoint where all four states/territories meet.

Eliana Van Horn has assisted her renowned father with his photography for years. When he is asked by the U.S. Land Grant Office to be the official Photographer for a government survey of Four Corners, he insists that his assistant be allowed to accompany him. Eliana's own heritage shines a light on her own self discovery on this grand adventure.

Yiaska Wilcox, is hired on as the Guide for the Four Corners survey expedition. Son of a mountaineer and a Navajo woman, he lives and breathes the freedom of the great southwest. When he meets Eliana he soon discovers that his heart is not as free as he thought, he has been living in the shadows of his past and longs to understand who he really is. (Yaska is Navajo for "after the night has passed")

Are Eliana and Yiska are worlds apart, but do they have more in common than they might ever realize?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Why I Write

Have you ever contemplated why you write?  I've mentioned before that I've pondered this very thing.
American naturalist author Terry Tempest Williams wrote an essay in 2001 about why she writes in Northern Lights Magazine of her thoughts on why she writes (see below).  When I came across this "manifesto" it resonated with me. The last line particularly caught my attention, "I write as though I am whispering in the ear of the one I love." What a lovely thought - whispering into the ear of the One I Iove -  with my writing.   I pray that my writing will be an sweet offering to the One, my First Love, the Author and Finisher of my faith.

Why I Write by Terry Tempest Williams
"I write to make peace with the things I cannot control. I write to create red in a world that often appears black and white. I write to discover. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts. I write to begin dialogue. I write to imagine things differently and in imagining things differently perhaps the world will change. I write to honor beauty. I write to correspond with my friends. I write as a daily act of improvisation. I write because it creates my composure. I write against power and for democracy. I write in a solitude born out of community. I write to the questions that shatter my sleep. I write to the answers that keep me complacent.

I write to remember. I write to forget. I write to the music that opens my heart. I write to quell the pain. I write to migrating birds with the hubris of language. I write to a form of translation. I write with the patience of melancholy in winter. I write because it allows me to confront that which I do not know. I write as an act of faith. I write as an act of slowness. I write to record what I love in the face of loss. I write because it makes me less fearful of death. I write as an exercise in pure joy. I write as one who walks on the surface of a frozen river beginning to melt. I write out of my anger and into my passion. I write from the stillness of night anticipating–always anticipating.

I write to listen. I write out of silence. I write to soothe the voices shouting inside me, outside me, all around. I write because of the humor of our condition as humans. I write because I believe in words. I write because it is a dance with paradox. I write because you can play on the page like a child left alone in the sand. I write because it belongs to the force of the moon: high tide, low tide. I write because it is the way I take long walks. I write as a bow to wilderness. I write because I believe it can create a path in darkness. I write because as a child I spoke a different language. I write with a knife carving each word through the generosity of trees.

I write as ritual. I write because I am not employable. I write out of my inconsistencies. I write because then I do not have to speak. I write with the colors of memory. I write as a witness to what I have seen. I write as a witness to what I imagine. I write by grace and grit. I write out of indigestion. I write because I am starving. I write because I am full. I write to the dead. I write out of the body. I write to put food on the table. I write to the other side of procrastination. I write for the children we never had. I write for the love of ideas. I write for the surprise of a beautiful sentence. I write with the belief of alchemists. I write knowing I will always fail. I write knowing words always fall short. I write knowing I can be killed by my own words, stabbed by syntax, crucified by both understanding and misunderstanding. I write out of ignorance. I write by accident. I write past the embarrassment of exposure.

I keep writing and suddenly, I am overcome by the sheer indulgence, the madness, the meaninglessness, the ridiculousness of this list. I trust nothing, especially myself, and slide headfirst into the familiar abyss of doubt and humiliation and threaten to push the delete button on my way down, or madly erase each line, pick up the paper and rip it to shreds–and then I realize, it doesn’t matter, words are always a gamble, words are the splinters of cut glass. I write because it is dangerous, a bloody risk, like love, to form the words, to say the words, to touch the source, to be touched, to reveal how vulnerable we are, how transient we are.
I write as though I am whispering in the ear of the one I love."

Why do you write?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sticky Notes: Consecrate Your Work

"Remember, my child, that you have a gift of weaving fancies into verse and a gift with the pencil of producing visions that come to your heart; consecrate these to Me as thoroughly as you do your inmost spirit."

Mary Artemesia Lathbury (1841-1913)

Friday, January 8, 2010

My Must Read Historical Fiction Book List

I'm not sure if I'll be able to manage to keep up the pace with my reading level this year since I'm getting down to business with my writing.  I've already begun to see a change in my reading habits since I've been doing critques.  Yet, there a quite a few novels on my list that I've been looking forward to reading for some time. Sometimes readers have to be very patient awaiting the next book in a beloved series to come out, such has been the case for me. The 2 year wait has been agonizing.  I love the series. but I love the author more so I must forgive as she and her husband have gone into the mission field.  I'm so happy she is still writing.

So to keep me motivated I decided to join the Christian Historical Fiction Challenge.   The goal is to read at least 24 CHF novels in 2010.  Here are 8 of the 24 on my list that I plan to read.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Call for Writers

Thank you everyone for sharing my excitement! I'm busy working on the new book which will be a historical romance.  I'm in the brainstorming and research stage right now, and I think I've settled on an idea.  Sorry, it's still in the secret stage. I'm a very shy writer.  I think that comes with the territory.

Are you looking for some writing opportunities in the coming year to build your publishing credentials?  Here are a few you might want to try.  Didn't I hear you say that you always wanted to submit a story to one of these? 

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Into the Day

I interupt my previously scheduled blog post to announce that I have some spectacular news!  I've been invited to join two multi-published authors to submit a 3 book set proposal with them.  We will each write a book, and I'll have to stand on my own merit, but will have support along the way.  Not that I'm blabbing this all over the Internet or anything (LOL!), but I just am so amazed by what has been happening lately.  It is a proposal not a book contract, so I'm trying to contain myself.  And who knows how it will pan out.  Just to be is a situation like this is nothing short of miraculous to me.  Every day I'm taking a step closer to my dream of becoming published.  I'm somewhere between jumping for joy and taking a leap of faith.   This has been a long time coming.  My ship hasn't yet come in, but at least my toes are at the water's edge.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Room for Writing

Just after the first of the year two years ago, I had learned of a writing grant available through the A Room of Her Own Foundation.  The premise of the grant is from Virginia Woolf's thought that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write.”  Although I didn't believe that necessarily true, as I always find a way to write regardless of my circumstances, the $50,000 two year grant was great incentive to provide much that could contribute to the resources I desired for  writing.  This included the creation of a room of my own and the freedom that accompanies the financial provision for me during that period.

So, with only a few weeks before the deadline I set forth on the monumental task of a writing the grant.  I had never written a grant before, mind you, and this included many detailed sections with essays, samples of my work, and other required documents.   I would now recommend that one take not less than six months to try to acheive writing this grant.   This was a great lesson in "striving" for me as I spent many hours, almost sleepless nights, until I had almost completed the task.  Yet, when I knew I was not going to be able to make the deadline I had to relinquish my goal.  It was painful, but I prayed my way through it and finally found peace in the decision.  I really hadn't the room for this in my life at the time anyway. 

The entire process was an amazing experience which I am glad to have gone through.  I gained more experience in writing succinctly and more importantly it taught me an important lesson about striving.  I now realize that I must be diligent and hard working if I want to meet my writing goals someday, but I do not believe that requires me to make an emergency out of it.  It is better to keep pace than burn out.

One of the essays was about what my writing means to me.  That is an essay I think would be a good exercise for every writer.  When I reflected on that essay just a few weeks ago it made me so grateful that now I can, two years later, see what the Lord has been doing in my life to help me reach those goals.  He has been taking me step by step and it is so much better when He is in charge instead of me.  I've begun to journal this year the things that are happening in my writing life.  Yes, I know, we are only in the first week, but I have already sent in a submission, critiqued a book, and have been asked to join a new critque group.  I hope this time next year to be able to look back at my writing journey over the year and see what he did to fill up the journal, rather than what I did to fill up my calendar.

And just over the past few months, I now, also, have a room of my own - my writing and web design studio.   It's filled with lots of butterflies, books, and things to inspire me! It's a great place to write, but not having my own space never stopped me from writing.  God's resources make the best "room" for writing.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Worth 1,000 Words Writing Prompt & Giveaway - January/February

Worth a 1,000 Words Writing Prompt!

Each month through November 2010 I'll be featuring a writing prompt here at Writing to Distraction.  The prompt will be based on a photograph.  You know, a picture is worth a thousand words.

I invite you all to submit an entry of up to 1,000 words.  This is just for fun to stimulate your creativity and to give others a sampling of your writing.  All those who participate will be eligible for a prize. It's not a contest, I'm just having a prize as a little added incentive and appreciation for your work.  Although, in December I will choose my favorite entry of the year for a special grand prize. 

On the 1st Monday of the month you'll find an new writing promt and have the entire month to participate before the next round begins.  You can writing in any genre, any style all I ask is that you keep it clean.  You can write 1,000 words, more or less, but try to write at least 500 words.  This is a no stress prompt.  I repeat, this is a no stress prompt.

When you have completed your entry, come back and post it here with Mr. Linky any time during the month.  If you are not posting it at your blog you may leave it in the comments section of this post.   Please submit your entry no later than the last day of this month.

I hope you'll help me out by spreading the word by taking a badge, blogging, tweeting, or posting on facebook.  Thank you so much for participating!!!

And now for the prompt:

Writing Prompt Picture:  (Photo taken by me.)   Is it morbid?  Is it memorable?  Is it in the past, present, or future?  You decide.  Make it worth a thousand words if you can.

Please take a badge and include it on your blog post with your entry.

Please be sure to add your entry using Mr. Linky or submit in the comment area.  Check back throughout the month to visit the entries that have been listed.  Have fun!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Monthly Writing Prompt & Bonus Giveaway!

I'm excited to let you know that I will be featuring a monthly writing prompt and giveaway here at Writing to Distraction! 

On the first Monday of each month, through November 2010, I will post a writing prompt for you to write in any genre up to 1,000 words. 

Share your entry on your blog along with the badge (grab image from left or code below).  If you don't have a blog simply post your entry in the comments section of that month's writing prompt.  You may post at any time up until the last day of the month (30th or 31st).  The new prompt will be posted again on the first Monday of that month.

This is entirely for fun, to encourage your creativity, and present a chance to sample each others writing.  Every one who participates will be eligible to win the monthly giveaway (prizes shipped within US only, but anyone can enter).  The participants will not be judged for the monthly giveaway; the winner will be selected by random drawing (ie. my husband pulls a name out of a basket). You can only win the giveaway once during a 6 month period, but don't let that hinder you from participating as a grand prize will be awarded at the end of the year for the favorite entry of the year.

Now let me tell you about some of the prizes!  I'll be giving away a decorative gift box filled with writing and book lover goodies, some which have been donated to Writing to Distraction! Here are a couple of the great items that will be included.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Year has Begun

I spent New Year's Eve writing.  Our family just hung out at home eating homemade hot wings and other yummy food and played with our new geeky Christmas toys.

I had a December 31st deadline to make for the Love is a Flame book coming out this year.  My procrastinating self had to wait until the last minute of the last day of the year to do this.   Well, I did it, my friends.  But not before I had stomach upset, headache, and a full fledged panic attack.  I told my husband it wasn't worth the $100.  But in my heart, I knew that was not why I was writing it at all. The Lord had restored our marriage and it has been an amazing blessing.  So I sat down and prayed.  I mean, I prayed.  Again, I gave him the painful and complex memories it dredged up and told the Lord it was His story and if He wanted me to get it done He'd have to help me tell it because I was not equipped.