Friday, October 31, 2014

If I Could Be Anything...A Guide to Dreaming Big

Source
A princess. A warrior. A flying trapeze artist. An....author?

The beauty of asking a child what they want to be is in their reply. When you're 5 years old it's perfectly acceptable to want to grow up to be a princess or a super hero. Why wouldn't that be okay?

Then life happens and we start to realize that some dreams aren't possible. Isn't that a horrible thing? To realize that you can't just decide to be a princess or Superman?

When I was younger, I went through stages (as all kids do). I asked my mom and she said in Kindergarten I wanted to be a "rock star". Um, all right then.  But apparently I also wanted to be a horse trainer. Now that's a good solid career for you.

Source
But then something happened in Jr. High. I started reading more and suddenly the idea of creating my own world and characters sounded more appealing than any other profession. I actually could be a princess if I wanted to--because I would be living through my characters. My best friend and I started creating stories. I'm talking volumes of hand written notebooks filled with horrible spelling and messy letters, but they were our stories.

Into high school the dream lived on. Sure, I loved music, but there was always something about writing. An appeal nothing else could match. Well, I'll say "the rest is history" for now (that's for you, dear readers, because I'm already pushing the "attention span" limit).

Seeing as how today is Halloween, I wanted to take a different route. To think about dreams. I've come up with 6 ways for us not to lose that childlike wonder. Don't let rejection or life circumstances bring you down. Dream big.

6 Ways To Dream Big 

1. Suspend belief
The best way to dream big is to forget that things aren't possible. Now...take this with a grain of reality here. You may want to become the captain of an inter-space armada but, at this point, no one is going to make that one. (Shout out to my Star Trek nerd friends!)

2. Don't be too serious
Second rule of dreaming is to dream. Yes, the realist in you may want to drag down your hopes into the depths of what is possible, but allow your creative child to run free--for a time.

Source
3. Take rejection well
Nothing shatters dreams better than a well timed rejection. But it doesn't have to end there! Figure out why you were rejected and use that to....(move ahead to #4)

4. Learn from your mistakes
Also hard, but I really think that rejection and messing up helps to shape your dream. It's like the clay on a wheel - you need hands to mold it or else it just stays a lump. Don't be the lump, be the hands.

5. Make good friends 
Can't say it enough - your friends will determine your success. Yeah, that's a bold statement, but I really believe that those around us will either encourage our dreams or smash them to bits. Don't get me wrong, a healthy dose of reality is good now and then, but you need friends who can dream with you.

6. Set goals
This is what separates the children from the adults. It's fine to dream big, but then you need to take it to the next step. Set realistic goals to accomplish your dream and then work hard toward those goals.

What about you? What do are you dreaming of?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Elizabeth Maddrey {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Elizabeth...

Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace.

Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website www.ElizabethMaddrey.com or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ElizabethMaddrey

How to connect with Elizabeth...


-->Website: http://www.ElizabethMaddrey.com Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/ElizabethMaddrey
Twitter:
@elizabethmaddre
Pinterest:
http://www.pinterest.com/emaddrey/
Google+:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ElizabethMaddrey/posts
--> Author RE:Interview | Getting to know Elizabeth Maddrey…again
--> You and Writing

Who is one of your favorite authors and why?
...I have so many favorites for various reasons, but Anne McCaffrey is a definite standout. She was able to blend so many different genres into her science fiction that they really have universal appeal. Plus, her characters are so amazing, it’s hard to remember that they’re not my real friends who just live far away.

What is one book or resource you would recommend to other writers? Why? 
...A good editor is a resource you really can’t do without. As a writer, we get so attached to our books that it’s hard to see the places where they’re ugly. Even when we’re looking for those ugly bits, we gloss over some of them. Having someone who will be honest (brutally so, if necessary) about the things that need fixing is critical. And then you just have to remember that you asked for their help, swallow the innate desire to be defensive, and implement the changes.

Share a writing-related milestone with us?
...This month I released my first indie project. I love the small press that has published the rest of my books (and has contracted another series for next year), but I’m pleased to have also taken the deep breaths necessary to dip my toe into the world of self-publishing.

How do you balance your time between writing and other actives? Any helpful tips, tricks, or suggestions? 
...Sometimes I’m not sure I do very well at this! The most helpful thing I try to keep in mind is actually something my husband reminded me of when I was expressing some mommy guilt because I was coming down to the wire with my deadline and I felt like everything else was slipping out of control: life has seasons. I try to keep things balanced and work a little writing into every day while keeping my priorities on the kids, homeschooling, and keeping the house tidy, but sometimes one has to take precedence over the others for a day or longer…and that’s okay. After the major hurdle is past, you rearrange and get back to the more balanced schedule. So it’s a matter of constantly evaluating and adjusting.


-->Your Writing
Tell us a little bit about your book.
...Kinsale Kisses is a contemporary romance that primarily takes place in Cork County, Ireland, though the hero and heroine are both Americans on travel.

Here’s the back cover:
She wants stability. He wants spontaneity. What they need is each other.

Colin O’Bryan cashed out of the software company he founded and started a new life in Ireland. Content to wander from town to town as a traveling musician, he had no goals beyond healing from the betrayals that led to his career change, and finding his next gig.

After the death of her parents, Rachel Sullivan hoped her aunt’s B&B on the Southern coast of Ireland would be a place for her to settle and start a new life. Though she can’t deny the sparks in Colin’s touch, his lack of concern for hearth and home leave her torn. Can this free-spirited minstrel win her heart or will Rachel choose roots and stability over love?
What was one trail you faced when writing it? One success?
...I initially wrote Kinsale Kisses for Pelican Book Group’s Passport to Romance line, but in the time it took for me to write, Ireland went from available to having a novella already contracted. I was bummed. Since it was so specific, there didn’t seem to be much point in trying to submit it elsewhere, but I’d fallen in love with the story and wanted it to have a chance for others to enjoy it as well. So for a success, I guess you could say it finally pushed me to give self-pubbing a try. I’d been kicking it around in the back of my head and this made me do more than that.

Who is your favorite character and why?
...As much as I love Rachel and Colin, I think Rachel’s Aunt Siobhan might be my favorite character. She’s a 70-something, feisty B&B proprietor who’s still willing to reach out and grab life by the horns.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...That God’s plans are bigger and better than ours, and when we fail, we need not be afraid to wait on Him.

You

Favorite writing snack: I try so hard not to snack while I write – if I start, it’s tough to stop. But if I absolutely have to munch, I aim for mixed nuts or a cheese stick.

Book you’re reading right now: Right now I’m beta-reading the second in a fantastic indie Christian fantasy series titled The Dragon’s Tongue. The first in the series is Things Unseen. Both are fantastic!

If you could go anywhere in the world for one month (for free) where would it be and why?
...This is hard. My knee-jerk response is Ireland – I adore Ireland. We’ve been twice and I’m dying to go back again. But there’s so much more of the world to see! My hubby and I are tentatively planning a trip to Scotland for our 20th anniversary next year, so that definitely makes the list but I also desperately want to see New Zealand before too long.

Enter to win a copy of Kinsale Kisses by leaving a comment below! I'll announce the winner next Tuesday.
                                                          _________________________

Thanks for sharing with us Elizabeth! Your advice about swallowing the desire to defend your work to an editor (I'd add critique partner too) is so true and timely for me! I always think I want to hear critique...and yet when it comes it's always hard but good to take. Also love hearing about your next book - I love that its set in Ireland! So great that you've gone there two times already. I'm also extremely jealous of your tentative trip planned to Scotland. That is on the very top of my list :D

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I Pressed SEND

So...those of you who are friends with me on Facebook or who have *liked* my page (you can do that now if you haven't) may have seen my BIG news. But, on the chance that you didn't, I thought I'd share here.

I sent off my manuscript yesterday! 

A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into revising it, but now I've set it free. I think the hardest part is waiting...but at the same time, knowing that (no matter what happens) I'm proud of where the story is at now. Sure, it may will need more revision and I'll likely have to go nights without sleep while pulling out my hair, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

 I'll keep you all posted as time goes on about what the next step looks like :D

* * *

Lastly, June from last week offered up a copy of her novel Ryan's Father. We've got a winner...

Jennette

Congrats, Jenette! I'll be emailing you today and we'll get you your book! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Nanoing To Success | NaNoWriMo Prep (part 4)

I'll admit that this post isn't necessarily about NaNoWriMo Prep, as much as it is about what to do after National Novel Writing Month.

So there you are. Sitting in a word coma. Shocked you made it to November 30th and your 50k deadline.

Reflected in the whites of your eyes is the bulk of your 30 days of blood, sweat, and tears. Your wonderful, amazing, award winning...okay, more like messy and haphazard, manuscript.

Now what?

First, go take a shower and eat some real food. Then, take at least a month off. Yes, you heard me right. Your hard earned work needs a little bit of alone time before you start ripping it to shreds, because I'm going to give it to you strait.

It probalby sinks.

Now, I won't speak for everyone because maybe you're just really great at writing on the spot for 30 days and not doing any editing, but for the rest of us in the real world, we'll need to spend some time--maybe lots of time--on our book to get it into shape. So, here's my advice for taking the next step with your novel.

 7 NaNoWriMo Novel Boot Camp Tips 

**I'm writing on the assumption you've finished the book. 50k isn't really 'finished' for most novels so you may want to kick in a few extra days/weeks at the end of NaNoWriMo to get to the end before starting in on these steps. 

1. Rest
Maybe you don't have the luxury of stopping all writing completely, but I would highly recommend giving yourself a break from your NaNo novel. Why? Because you've just spent way too many waking hours agonizing over this thing of beauty. It needs time to recede from the shores of your mind so that you can accurately pull it back togehter.

2. Read
Take this glorious off-time to refresh not only your body, but your mind. Pick up a book (not your book) and read, read, read. Enjoy a story that doesn't need to be created! Be inspired.

3. Prepare
As a month (or whatever time period you need) comes to completion, start preparing yourself for edits. Ugh, dreaded edits and revisions! But, as I've come to realize, a book is not written in a first draft, but in multiple drafts.

4. Start
This is possibly the hardest part. Starting the revision and editing process. Take your time, but be diligent.

5. Finish
Push through to the end. You'll be tempted to keep editing the first chapter (or first three in my case) but don't let that keep you from getting to the end.

6. Repeat
Yep, you heard me. Make it to the end, then start again. Revision is a beautiful, delicate process--haha who am I kidding? It can be painful and frustrating! But it's just what your book needs.

7. Release
What do I mean? Let the book go... and I mean it. Really let it go. Have someone you trust read it! I'd recommend someone who has experience critiquing, but get it away from your own eyes and into those of another. They'll be able to see plot or character flaws, and their helpful criticisms will help you grow as a writer, even if you don't like what they say at first ;)

So...are you ready? We've got 4 days and a few odd hours before we get to DIVE IN! I can't wait and hope that I can interact with you all here on the blog.

I'll be doing updates when possible and would love to keep up with your progress here on Thinking Thoughts and on my Facebook page

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

June Foster {Writer Wednesday} + GIVEAWAY

Leave a comment for June at the bottom to enter for a chance to win a copy of her novel, Ryan's Father!

A little bit about June...

An award-winning author, June Foster is also a retired teacher with a BA in Education and a MA in counseling. In 2013, June's book Give Us This Day was a finalist in EPIC's eBook awards and in 2014 a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards for best first book. Ryan's Father won The Clash of the Titles book of the month for 2014 and is one of three finalists in the published contemporary fiction category of the 2014 Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest and Awards. June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The Bellewood Series, Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, and Deliver Us, as well as Hometown Fourth of July. Ryan's Father is available from WhiteFire Publishing. Red and the Wolf, a modern day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, is available from Amazon.com. June loves to write stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. June uses her training in counseling and her Christian beliefs in creating characters who find freedom to live godly lives.

How to connect with June...

Blog: http://junefoster.blogspot.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5755395.June_Foster
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjunefoster
Twitter: https://twitter.com/vjifoster
Infinite Characters: http://infinitecharacters.com
Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/author/junefoster
Purchase: Ryan's Father

Author Interview | June Foster 

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?

...I am a retired school teacher with two children and ten grandchildren. Oh, and yes, one great grandchild. The unique thing about me is I didn't start writing until four and a half years ago. God set me on the road to becoming an author and has kept me there.
...Here's how it began. My husband and I were enjoying our retired life and traveling in our RV. For a while I noticed a story lurking in my head, which had never happened before. When I told it to my daughter and she commented that I should write it, that was the spark the Lord used. I started writing Christian romance and haven't stopped. I've got too many more stories to tell.


Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...Ryan's Father is probably my favorite because it took courage for me to write and WhiteFire to publish. The story is one that has stepped out of the "Christian box," yet needed to be told. I pray God is changing lives with Ryan's story.

If published, what was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...The hardest thing about being published is the continual responsibility for marketing. These days, authors are expected to do their own advertising and I am not good at it. I thank God I have a wonderful publicist who helps me. The easiest thing, I think, if celebrating when I hold that book in my hand and see the author's name, June Foster.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book. Why did you write it?
...Ryan's Father is the story of a young Christian man who loves the Lord and wants to remain obedient to him yet struggles with homosexuality. To make things more difficult, a beautiful young nurse falls in love with him. Though he leads her to faith in Christ, the attraction most guys feel for a woman aren't there. I wrote this story because I'd like to see Christians who struggle with this issue set free.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...Of course it has to be Ryan. Ryan was the most difficult character I've ever written, especially since I'm a heterosexual female and he was a homosexual male. What I love the most about Ryan is his faith in God and how he allows the Lord to work in his life.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...A person struggling with homosexuality can be set free if they truly desire freedom and completely abandon themselves to the Lord.

Writing

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...My characters are based on real life people I know but are a composite of several rather than just one person. I have to admit, I don't know anyone like my heroine in Misty Hollow, Molly Cambridge, so I struggled with her character.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...One of these days, I'd like to write a novel that provides an imaginary place to get lost. But so far, my goal with my books is to write about characters who struggle with problems common to many Christians. My prayer is many will find hope and freedom through their stories.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Keep on writing and perfecting your skills through critique groups and "how to" books. Toughen up your feelings. You will get many rejections. Don't take any of them personally but learn from them. This has been one of my hardest obstacles to hurtle.

You

In honor of the fall, what’s your favorite fall treat?
...Hot apple cider and spice cake. 

When you were a child, what did you dream of growing up to be?
...I wanted to be a teacher like my mother and aunt. But now, in retrospect, I think I would've enjoyed being an interior designer or psychologist.

Will you participate in National Novel Writing Month? If so, what’s your plan to keep your writing on track?
...Not sure right now. I never have before, but I might think about it.

_________________________
 
Thanks for being my guest today June! I'm amazed at your boldness in writing such a potentially controversial book. I love how God places stories in our hearts for a reason and purpose. We never know what He will do through what we write. And, speaking of spice cake...now I want to go make one ;)

Don't forget to leave a comment, readers. I'll announce the winner next Tuesday!

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 uninspired...it 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. 
But...

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 on...you 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: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1512704232311934/