Monday, October 20, 2014

What to do when you're not feeling the NaNo | NaNoWriMo Prep (part 3)

Burn out. Tiredness. Writers block. (gasp!)

It happens to all of us, but when you're in the midst of Nano you do not want to deal with any of these things - or a multitude of other issues you could face. No writer likes to be almost feels as if your creativity is betraying you. Laughing at your lack of ability to write.

Well, I'm here to tell you today that there is no such thing as writers block...

Oh wait, no. Oops. I'm not here to tell you that. That's a real thing. *Cringes* But I am here to tell you that it's okay.

Maybe that's not what you wanted to hear? But it's true. Yes - there will likely come a time when  you are "blocked". Maybe you're not sure how your character will get out of a certain situation? Or maybe your main character suddenly has a heart attack and dies (not preferable at all).

The beauty of NaNoWriMo is that those things are perfectly all right! You know what you do then? You write on.

But it's terrible writing. 
But I no longer have a main character. 
But I can't figure out her motivation. 

You get the point. And what do you do? Write on. Just like Dr. Who is recommending here >>>

You may wonder what I'm getting at. There are plenty of times when published authors are not inspired. What do they do? Sit in a corner an sulk? Probably not. Though mabye they do...?

I'm basically trying to point out that, if they can overcome not being inspired, then so can you!
What you do with lack of inspiration is the important thing.
Here are 5 things that I recommend you attempt when you're at the burn out stage or even the writers block stage. They aren't guaranteed to "fix" everything, but they may help you gain back some of your inspiration, and if not - they can give you strength to keep on writing, despite the dry creative desert you may be in.

5 Ways To Gain Inspiration

1. Take a walk
I don't know about you, but I love being outdoors. The feel of wind on my face, the sun shining or clouds...clouding? Yeah. But, being outside is so invigorating. When I'm feeling stuck, I often like to take a walk and look around me. People watching is a great way to gain inspiration, but also looking at nature reminds us that God is creative too. Pair this with # 5 and  you've got a great combination for inspiration. (Did that sound cheesy or what?)

2. Read a book
No. I'm not saying "steal ideas" but I am saying be inspired by good writing. Often, I will subconsciously learn through the books that I'm reading (another reason it's so important to read authors in your genre and authors who's writing you love). Let their words encourage you - and remember, they had off days (weeks, months, years) too!

3. Plan, plot, proceed
When I say "write on" I really do mean it. But, Emilie, you protest, I'm uninspired!  I hear you, and I sympathize, but I will play the unaffected drill sergeant and say, "I don't care if you're uninspired, I want you to WRITE!" Plan out where you're going - even if it's not thrilling to you at the moment. Plot your hero/heroin's next moves. And proceed! Yes, it maybe awful writing but I have a feeling sooner rather than later you'll be on a roll again. Inspiration is funny like that. Fleeting for a few moments but quickly found when you least expect it.

4. Talk it out
This is where those writing buddies I mentioned before come in. Complain to them. Do a little whining. Maybe even bash your characters to them, but then talk it out. Have them help you gain back that inspiration or burst through that writers block. Even if you don't like their ideas, you may find yourself back on track due to their influence.

5. Pray
We write for more than just ourselves. Bearing the burden of ideas and the words to carry them out is a gift. You may feel like you're "just writing a novel" for NaNoWriMo, but it's so much more than that. When all else fails, take time to refocus your heart. Even a silly little novel written for Nano can become something amazing.

Are you encouraged my friends? Make sure to come back to this post if you find yourself drowning in the midst of November. We'll all probably hit a wall here and there, but these things can help when you feel like your creative well has momentarily dried up.

What do you do to gain inspiration?

***Check out last week's post here. And part 1 here.

Friday, October 17, 2014

2014 NaNoWriMo Support

As writers, we face our glowing screens more than we see human faces sometimes. Our fingers get accustomed to the clicking of keys, and our bodies to occupying chairs.

It's not a bad life, really. Especially if you're like me - and introverted extrovert ;-)

BUT - relying solely on ourselves for all things writing related gets difficult. No matter how introverted you are, you still need people. Say it with me: People are friends, not food. Oh wait--that's something different....

Anyway, back to my point. We need friends to make it in this world of writing. Especially if we're going to put ourselves through the torture fun of writing a 50,000 word novel in a month.

Enter...Exhibit A: A Facebook NaNoWriMo Support group! Come know you want to cheer right now! 

Exhibit B: Yep, that's the digitized you.

Exhibit C: A cheesy graphic representing all the fun people you'll meet in this group! Don't worry, we won't be holding hands...

So, what more do I need to do to convince you to join the group? Probably not much, right? It was the photos, wasn't it?

If I have indeed convinced you to hop on the Nano train, then let me convince you to join the Nano support group. Right now we're in the brainstorming stage and I'm posting some helpful things to inspire, encourage, and insight enthusiasm about Nov 1.

Once we hit "go time", we'll be doing things like word count checks, word sprints, communal complaining, and maybe even some fun video sharing of "writers in real time". The possibilities are endless as is the encouragement you'll find among a community of writers all facing the same thing - lack of sleep, over use of caffeine, and the voices in our heads telling us what to do.

Request to join the group today:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cari Schaeffer {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Cari...

Cari has worn numerous hats in life. She proudly wore the uniform of the US Air Force. After serving, she worked as a critical care RN for almost a decade. She also owned her own Personal Chef and Catering company for six years. Finally, she chose to turn her attention back to her family.
Closing her business hasn’t made her a couch potato. She cooks at the weekly Wednesday night dinners for her church, and volunteers at the Cross Talk Café in support of the Celebrate Recovery church ministry on Friday nights. She has volunteered her time as a Mentor Mom for two MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) groups. When she’s not busy in the church doors, she’s happily entertaining people in her home.

She not only has a passion for writing, but also for serving. She views writing as a form of service for people from all walks of life. Jesus used story-telling to convey life principles, why can’t we do the same?

She lives in southern Illinois with her ridiculously patient husband of twenty four years, three children, and her two Chihuahua guard dogs, Snoopy and Stanley. Faith, Hope, Love, and Chocolate is her first novel.

How to connect with Cari...

Facebook: Cari Schaeffer 
Goodreads: Cari Schaeffer
Purchase: Faith, Hope, Love, and Chocolate

Author Interview | Cari Schaeffer

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...Writing this, my first novel, has been such an incredible journey. It started with my love of great books. My family can attest to the fact that I have been known to read a great novel in a day. I’ve read many wonderful books and a few not so great books. In fact, after finishing one particular book that in my opinion was terrible, I slammed it shut and determined to write a novel better than that. I love a great, engaging plot but really don’t like reading explicit material or foul language. I accomplished that goal.

If published, what was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...There are three ways to become published: Traditional, Indie, or Vanity. Indie and Vanity are under the umbrella of “Self-Publishing”, but they are not the same thing. I immediately dismissed the Vanity option – it requires the author to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket. 

...I am an Indie author, so for me the hardest part was learning the process. Now that I’ve learned it, it is no longer difficult. Initially in my research, I intended to go traditional, but after discovering the narrowness of the funnel and the years involved, I prayed and felt led to go the Indie route. If I had continued on the traditional publishing trajectory, I would most likely be receiving a dribble of the torrent of rejections that would continue on for years. I’m too impatient for that - I have work to do and people to reach. Gatekeepers are no longer necessary.

...The easiest thing about publishing, honestly, is going Indie. It’s an incredibly satisfying and simple route to take that has given me great rewards, both financially and through reader feedback. I couldn’t imagine this journey any other way.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book. Why did you write it?
...My first novel, Faith, Hope, Love, and Chocolate is the story of a woman who has allowed one horrific experience to warp not only her view of God, but of herself and her worth. I have yet to meet one woman that isn’t somehow injured or broken because of life. I wrote this book with the hope that it will minister to broken women. It deals with death, infertility, infidelity, parenting, marriage, and friendships. I want women to know how incredibly unique and truly priceless we all are, as defined by God, not by others or by life.

...My next work is going to be a trilogy that covers a little more than two decades in military life. There are so many things that those who have not experienced military life don’t really know. I have collected a number of real life stories from those who’ve worn the uniform themselves and those that have supported them. They’re encouraging, heart-breaking, horrifying, and gratifying all at the same time. I hope I can do it justice.

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...I find my inspiration from my interactions with people and my experiences in life. In this first novel, the experiences are not based on any one person and none of the experiences are taken straight from anyone’s life. Rather, they are snapshots and stories that I have heard over the years and that have touched me deeply. I took some of those snapshots and stories and, through prayer and much thought, allowed my imagination to weave a fictitious life that a lot of women can relate to.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I want to follow the example Jesus set for us – teach life principles through telling stories. I hope that I can reach my readers through feeling the pain, suffering, laughter, tears, and joy that my characters feel. I write complete resumes for my characters. In some cases, even down to their favorite colors – I want them to be REAL.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?

...GO FOR IT! If you are led to walk this path, don’t let anyone tell you no. Pray, learn the craft (never stop that, ever) and just jump into the deep end with eyes wide open. There are numerous paths to being published now that allow the author to connect directly with the reader. I look at writing as a written conversation and speaking for myself, I don’t want an interpreter between me and my audience. It’s also important to accept feedback with discernment. Criticism, when offered constructively, is a GOOD thing.


In honor of the fall, what’s your favorite fall treat?
...Oh, boy – I love a really good s’more made with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (Lord have mercy on me…). I actually included some recipes in the back of my novel that the characters enjoy throughout the story and S’Mores Bars is one of them. I love the crimson, gold, and burnt orange colors on the trees and that little nip in the air that allows me to still wear shorts, but requires a sweatshirt, too. Fall is a beautiful time of the year! It means Thanksgiving and Christmas are on the way! How could anyone not love THAT?

Great hearing from you Cari! I love all of the different experiences you've had in life - I'm sure they add a richness to your characters and writing! Your advice to "go for it" is so awesome - I've got a post coming up in a few weeks talking about dreaming and this applies there too :) And oh my--you have me waning Reese's Peanut Butter Cup S'Mores now...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Where Treetops Glisten WINNER

Had a great turnout last week for my interview with Cara Putman! If you missed it you can read it here. She was gracious to offer a copy of Where Treetops Glisten featuring Cara and two other wonderful authors, Sarah Sundin and Tricia Goyer!

And now, on to this weeks winner...

Sharon Bryant

Congrats Sharon. Email me using the contact form to the left and we'll get your book to you!

And thanks for you all who stopped by to hear more about Cara and to enter the contest! I love doing book giveaways and get the chance often! Aaaannnddd if you stop by tomorrow, you'll get the chance to enter for another book. But mums the word on who my lovely guest is tomorrow ;)

Monday, October 13, 2014

The 7 Snacks of NaNo | NaNoWriMo Prep (part 2)

Forget about writing, I want to talk about FOOD! Specifically, my favorite NaNoWriMo snacks.

They say Rome wasn't built in a day...well I say, my novel wasn't written without amazing snacks. Hum, maybe that doesn't really translate, but oh well.

There are a few key things to think through when choosing the perfect Nano snacks.

1. Accessibility
What can you readily grab from the cupboard or fridge without losing your train of thought?

2. Cleanliness
What can you snack on that won't leave your fingers sticky or require you to wash your hands?

3. Health 
What's relatively healthy but still tastes good?

Here are my top 7 favorite snacks for NaNoWriMo
*P.S. For the sake of this post I shall deem liquids comparable to snacks...don't ask.

1.  Coffee
All day. Every day. All the time :)

2. Pretzels
Love these little guys. Tasty and yet not messy.

3. Carrots & Celery
Meets all the criteria and gives you a satisfying crunch!

4. Tea
Favorites include: Peppermint, Moroccan Mint, Lemon, English or Irish Breakfast (with cream, thank you), and Sugar Plum Spice Tea (bring on the holiday's).

5. Chocolate
You've got to be careful with this one, but M&M's work great - the whole "melt in your mouth not in your hand" thing works very well for writers.

6. Popcorn
Blurs the line slightly here, but I use an air popper machine so there's no butter. Just takes a while to eat so there's a time factor to consider. 

7. Coffee
Oh, er- did I already say that? I guess I could put apples in here too, but coffee just seemed to fit so nicely...

There you have it. Some of my favorite snacks! Did any of mine make your list?

What about you? What are your favorite snack foods? What, in particular, will you be stocking up on for NaNoWriMo?

***See part 1 here.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Writing Life

From Pinterest
A chill in the air. The smell of pumpkin spice and woodsmoke. Burnt orange and golden leaves.


All of these things inspire me to be creative. I'm naturally a creative person, but something about fall brings out another side of me. All I find myself wanting to do is write or read, drink coffee or tea, and listen to Christmas music. (I may have started already...)

I've been dreaming recently about how much I'd love to just "get away" to a cabin in the woods somewhere. To be surrounded by nature and rely on a wood fire for warmth.

Yes, that does sound amazing. Instead, I live in the city (haha). Not to mention we don't have a fireplace :(

Sometimes we don't get the luxury of doing what we want. I'll talk about this in regard to NaNoWriMo on Monday the 20th, but I wanted to touch on it briefly here.

The writers life isn't always like Jessica Feltcher's from Murder She Wrote (yes, those of you who know me know I love that show).
The writer's life is messy. It's filled with distractions. It's filled with life. 
I used to think that was the absolute worst. Wouldn't it be better if I could be secluded from everyone and just write? (Ooo my introvert is showing). In theory that sounds great, but in reality that would make for a boring novelist.

The things that make your story unique and interesting are likely straight from your life. Whether that's a plot idea or a character trait. Your life is what makes your writing vibrant and alive.

Not that a quiet vacation to a cabin in the woods in the middle of fall wouldn't be absolutely perfect (if someone want's to gift this vacation to me) but realize that type of writing retreat is only profitable when you've been living your life right where you are.

What inspires you? Do you take characters or ideas from your everyday life? Where's your ideal writing vacation spot?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cara Putman {Writer Wednesday} + GIVEAWAY

First off, did you like the start to my "NaNoWriMo Prep" series on Monday? [Click here if you missed it]. I'm *so* excited to hear from authors and want-to-be writers who are taking the plunge and starting their Nano prep now. I myself have been vacillating between a few ideas. Make sure you come back next Monday for part 2. I'll be talking about the best part of NaNoWriMo. What's that, you ask? Come back Monday and see >insert evil laugh<.


And now, on to more fun stuff! I'm so excited to introduce you to the lovely and ambitious Cara Putman. I had the pleasure of meeting her at last year's ACFW conference when I took her headshots, and then I got to catch up with her a bit at this year's conference. She has such a sweet heart and a "go get 'em" attitude.

Enter to win a copy of Where Treetops Glisten  with Cara Putman, Tricia Goyer, and Sarah Sundin by leaving a comment below!

A little bit about Cara...

Cara C. Putman, the award-winning author of 19 books, graduated high school at 16, college at 20, and completed her law degree at 27. FIRST for Women magazine called Shadowed by Grace “captivating” and a “novel with ‘the works.’” Cara is active at her church and a lecturer on business and employment law to graduate students at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. Putman also practices law and is a second-generation homeschooling mom. Putman is currently pursuing her Master’s in Business Administration at Krannert. She serves on the executive board of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), an organization she has served in various roles since 2007. She lives with her husband and four children in Indiana. 
How to connect with Cara...


Author Interview | Cara Putman

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I’ve known I wanted to write since I was a young teen. Because I was homeschooled, one of my English assignments as a 14 year old was to write a bunch of my favorite authors and ask them for advice. It was so fun to get letters from authors like Madeline L’Engle, Janette Oke, Michael Phillips and Sandy Dengler. Then I started college at 16, a career at 20, and got married at 21. Life sped up, but every couple years the desire to write would rise within me. In 2005 God opened the door, I received my first contract in 2006, and in 2007 that first book released. Just a few weeks ago, my 19th book released. It’s been an amazing journey.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...It’s so hard to pick a favorite book. I love my first book, Canteen Dreams, because it combines my grandparents’ story with what my hometown did during WWII. I love Stars in the Night because it allowed me to write a full length WWII novel that combined Hollywood with a body count. And Shadowed by Grace will always be special because it was a journey to writing a story about the Monuments Men but really a story about a woman’s journey to find her earthly and heavenly fathers.

If published, what was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...The hardest thing about publishing is learning to trust God in the process. I can’t control where my next contract comes from. So I have to lean into Him, and leave this journey to Him while doing what I’m called to do.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book. Why did you write it?
...The book that released a few weeks ago is Where Treetops Glisten. It was such fun to write because it’s a novella collaboration with my good friends Sarah Sundin and Tricia Goyer. We had such fun developing and writing this collection of stories that follow the Turner siblings through WWII and in their stories of finding healing and love.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...I love Abigail because she has a heart to help others. She doesn't always know how to do it, but she sees needs and wants to help meet them. She also becomes willing to open her heart over the course of the story…an endeavor which is really hard for her after all the loss she’s experienced.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...That God is there in our darkest moments, and He wants us to reach a place of full healing. Not that we’ll ever forget those we have lost, but that we don't have to live mired in the past.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...With my historicals, I often find the inspiration in real life events. Or I’ll pick a setting and work backward to a story. That’s what happened in A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island. In Shadowed by Grace I really struggled with the heroine, because I needed her to have a job that would put American women right behind the line. Once I landed on war photojournalist, the rest of her came easily.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I want to encourage people to trust God in new ways.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Join ACFW. It is an organization that will help you learn the craft and meet people who can help you on your writing journey.


In honor of the fall, what’s your favorite fall treat?
...Apple cider. It just tastes like fall to me.

When you were a child, what did you dream of growing up to be?
...An author, journalists, or elected official. I had lots of dreams :-)

Will you participate in National Novel Writing Month? If so, what’s your plan to keep your writing on track?
...Probably not this year. I have many years, but this year, I’m working on my MBA classes primarily.


Thanks again for stopping by, Cara. I'm so happy to be offering a giveaway of this lovely book - what better way to bring in the holiday's? I love ambitious you are as well, working on your MBA and being a teacher and lawyer and author...whew. It's amazing!

Thinking Thoughts readers - make sure you leave a comment to enter the giveaway and check back next Tuesday to see who wins!