Monday, August 3, 2015

HALT!

It's a command associated with someone in authority wanting a person to stop running. HALT is also used as an acronym to warn us of danger.

H - Watch out when you're hungry. Jacob knew Esau would be hungry after a day of   hunting, and used a savory stew to exchange his birthright for a hearty meal. It was a bad deal that caused their entire family much grief over the course of a lifetime.

A - Watch out when you're angry. David almost killed a bunch of people because they refused to help him and his men. The wise intervention of Abigail prevented a disaster and helped him calm down.

L - Watch out when you're lonely. It's easy to seek comfort in all the wrong places when you're gripped by loneliness.

T - Watch out when you're tired. Sleep deprivation can weaken your resolve to stay the course and make right decisions.

As writers, each one of these situations can present temptations:

H - Are we hungry for recognition? Watch out! Scripture tells us to let another praise us and not our own mouth. This doesn't mean we shouldn't make others aware of our work or accomplishments, but rather do so with a humble spirit.

A - A bad review, a Frankenstein edit (lots of red ink), or any number of situations can make us angry. During those times, stepping back and allowing the dust to settle will give us perspective and an opportunity to deal with them in a reasonable manner.

L - The writing life is a lonely one. In our desire to connect with other writers, we may entrust our articles, poems, or manuscripts to anyone who comes along. That's a good way to end up bruised and bleeding from non-constructive criticism.

T - With all the demands of life and writing, it's easy to get tired. During those times, avoid making drastic decisions that will affect the course of your writing career. Get the rest you need, so you can evaluate your choices with a clear head and a prayerful heart.

Writers and Readers:  What are some of the warning signs that set off alarms in your head?

Friday, July 31, 2015

Research/Location/Freedom



1.  Research can present some tricky problems. ShannonVannatter guest posts at Seriously Write, on the subject. What happens when all your normal research avenues fail?

2.  I read a fascinating article by Michael Hyatt on why the place you live can determine your success. Since I moved from an area where Christian writers were rare to a Pennsylvania location that provided support and training, I can testify to the validity of his findings.

3.  The recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex "marriage" will have far-reaching effects on both freedom of religion and freedom of speech. We're already seeing newspapers saying they won't print op-ed pieces against this. Check out the Family Research Council's full article. It's sobering.

One of the items mentioned was how an outcry would result from Americans. But will that materialize or will we sit back the way we did when prayer and the Ten Commandments were ripped from public schools? The heat is turning up on the proverbial frog in the frying pan. If we wait any longer to both act and pray, it will be too late for freedom.

Writers:  How do you get the information you need for your writing when your normal channels dry up?

Readers:  Do you need super intense details when you're reading a book that includes something like technology or careers? I once read a book that had so many techy elements that it resembled a textbook. I finally skipped over all those parts because I couldn't make sense out of them.

Photo Credit:  tijmen

Monday, July 27, 2015

It's Not a Bargain If...




It's no surprise to many of you that I'm a bargain hunter. In my quest to save a buck, I've learned some valuable lessons:

1.  It's not a bargain if I don't use it.

What's the point of picking up cabbage on sale if the smell of it cooking makes me nauseous?

On the writing front, why pick up that plotting book when I'm a SOTP writer? It may be in the bargain bin, but no matter how I've tried in the past I'm not wired for plotting. Oh, and don't forget the lap desk I purchased, which sits and gathers dust in my closet.

2.  It's not a bargain if I'm not sure the product is something I'll use long term.

Buying 5 of an item when I haven't tried it before can turn into a wasteful purchase. I did this with a skin product one time only to discover it made me break out in a rash.

As a writer, I'm always looking for items to make my workload more manageable. While purchasing file folders in multiple colors may seem like a good idea, my track record for staying with various maintenance systems is shaky at best.

3.  It's not a bargain if I end up busting the budget every week.

While getting coupons in the mail can save major George Washingtons, I have to ask myself several questions:

A.  Is there a requirement to spend a certain amount over and above the coupon? For example, get $10.00 off a $25.00 purchase. Our grocery store is famous for giving $4.00 off a $50.00 purchase. Their latest coupon package raised the amount to $80.00.

B.  Do I NEED another pair of shoes, pants, dress, etc.?

C.  Is there a birthday gift I'll have to purchase or other occasion coming up?

As a writer, I'm a sucker for coupons from office supply stores. I apply the same questions to these purchases.

Writers and Readers:  What are some bargains that test your will power?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Dialogue/Conferences/ISIS/Devotional/Home Decor




1.  Okay, I admit it. I'm a total dialogue nerd. Zoe McCarthy delighted me with this post. I hope you have as much fun with it as I did.

2.  Ah, Conference Season - you have to love it. Agent Linda Glaz interviews author Jodie Wolfe about how she prepares for a writers conference. Even though I've gone to many of these events, I could use a refresher course.

3.  WND reports that the Pentagon has confirmed ISIS has enough radioactive materials to produce dirty bombs.

4.  Devotional thoughts from MaryAnn Diorio on Why Worry?

5.  Does your heart go pitter patter when you see decorating blogs? You might enjoy My Romantic Home. I've linked to her Show and Tell Friday post, but take a few moments to explore the site.

Writers: One of the reasons I enjoy dialogue is that I can talk like real people talk and toss the grammar rules. Please share your thoughts on creating natural interactions between characters.

Readers:  What type of blog links would you like to see here on Christian Writer/Reader Connection? I try to give a variety of topics, but your input would help me a great deal.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Great Grocery Bag Caper



Sweetie Mom and I go grocery shopping together every week. When we check out, I always ask the person bagging to keep them on the light side.

Funny thing - when I'd pick up the bags expecting them to be a manageable weight, I'd want to call for a crane. The person would take a few items out, which would make them easier to handle.

After one such incident, it dawned on me why this was such a problem. The young football player types were judging the weight by how light it was for them and not for us. From that point on, I'd jokingly tell them to bag the groceries so it would be light for two older people (even though it pinched my brain to consider myself as older).

Someone once told me that my futuristic stories of America weren't scary enough. They had been in third-world countries and observed all kinds of horrors. Most people born and raised here have not been exposed to this type of experience. When reviews began coming in for The Moses Conspiracy, one recurring theme was how much it seemed like where we were headed.

There's some advice I take to heart with my writing, but I examine it all with care. The wrong advice can set your story, not to mention your readers, on its ear. Also, I take into consideration whether the people critiquing my work have a worldview similar to mine.

Who would have thought that bagging groceries and writing would have anything in common? It's all about perspective.

Writers:  How do you evaluate the writing advice you get from critique partners or beta readers?

Readers:  We all filter what we read through the lens of our own experience. How does your personal experience impact your book choices?

Photo Credit:  spekulator

Friday, July 17, 2015

Editing/SCOTUS/Blogging/Thesaurus/Recipe




1.  Wendy Paine Miller, at Thoughts That Move, gives some excellent editing tips. Since my first draft on the WIP is almost done, it's a timely post for me.

2.  The Family Research Council responded to a recent Supreme Court decision. If people think Christians are cowering in a corner, they are sadly mistaken.

3.  Chad R. Allen guest posts at Michael Hyatt's blog. Do you know the five reasons publishers love bloggers?

4.  DiAnn Mills guest posts at The Write Conversation about the use and misuse of the Thesaurus - A Treasure Box for Writers.

5.  With scorching summer days upon us, I thought you might like a recipe for a refreshing Cucumber Salad.

Writers:  Do you blog or have you abandoned the practice? What do you find valuable about blogging?

Readers:  What are your favorite topics for blog posts? Interviews? Book reviews?

Photo Credit:  svilen001

Monday, July 13, 2015

My Upside Down Day




Everywhere I go I hear the same refrain: How do I find time to write?

When I'm on a book project, every moment I can squeak in counts. At times, I rebel and take a mental health day or work on my neglected chores. My latest WIP is coming down the home stretch. It will need editing and the keen eyes of my critique partners and early readers. From there, it gets shipped off to my agent.

Do I get to rest after that? Umm, no. Out of the Mist, the third book of The Moses Trilogy, needs another read through and some tweaking. My other books are being prepared for re-issue, and the launch will require a great deal of work.

The second book in the new series is hopping up and down in my head as we speak. So, another novel is on the horizon and ready to gallop into my life.

Most of the current book was written in the evening. 1,000 words takes about two hours to produce. That time of day is not my optimum writing time, but I couldn't figure out a way to fit it in during the morning. 

To complicate matters, the Lord's been on my case to spend more time with Him when I get up. Although I talk with him during the day, those uninterrupted moments were too short. He definitely has first dibs on my mornings.

Guess what? I turned my day upside down. My average pre-craziness time now looks like this:

5:00 A.M. - 5:30 A.M. - Bible reading and prayer
5:30 A.M. -  7:00 A.M. - Getting ready for work, breakfast, morning chores, and online time. (This might seem like a lot of time, but it goes SO fast.)
7:00 A.M. - 7:30 A.M. - Write!

Bedtime comes earlier - 9:30 P.M. - or I can't get up at 5:00 A.M.

Being able to write when I'm the most refreshed and alert has increased my productivity and quality. I can knock out 300-400 words in a half hour. The remaining word count is finished in the evening. It's such a boost to have that much completed before my day officially begins. I can even get a few things done and maybe relax.

Writers:  When is your best time to write? Please share how you manage to get your word count in for the day?

Readers: What does your daily schedule look like? Do you get up extra early to accomplish something before the daily race begins?

Photo Credit:  Duchessa
 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Bookstore/Stuck/Character Names/Quotes/Re-Purpose



Bookstore/Stuck/Character Names/Quotes/Re-Purpose



1.  Cindy Sproles tells a heartwarming story of an independent bookstore owner, who promoted her debut novel. Check in out on The Write Conversation.

2.  Have you been working on a writing project and feel stuck? For me, it's a lot like trying to get something sticky off my hands.  Mary Denman shares her experience and how it kept her from moving forward with her writing.

3.  Naming characters can be a challenge. Laurel Garver, at Laurel's Leaves, gives Five Things to Consider When Naming Characters.

4.  Do you enjoy motivational quotes? Jennifer Brown Banks, at Pen and Prosper, gives several I've never heard before.

5.  Susan, at Writing Straight from the Heart, talks about making do with what you've got. This post shows how her husband created an herb garden out of old kitty litter cans and plastic tubs.

Writers:  How do you choose names for your characters? I've often looked at baby name sites.

Readers:  Have you ever re-purposed something most people throw away? Please share.

Photo Credit:  deziner02

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Bathroom Saga



For the last eight years, I've been meaning to paint my bathroom. Before my husband died, we'd started updating it. A new vanity, medicine cabinet, and lighting were installed. We ripped off the old wallpaper and then...

Life happened.

After I semi-recovered from his death, I thought about painting the room. Notice I said, "thought" not "decided." There's a vast difference between those two words. Every spring since then, the project surfaces in my mind like a drowning man looking to be rescued. Each year, he sinks under the waves again.

The same process began this year, but with a difference. I stopped telling myself I was going to paint and admitted it wasn't going to happen. My stepson and I struck a deal, and in one weekend the poor drowning man (namely, my bathroom) got rescued from my procrastination.

Writing projects float in my head with a tag that says, "someday." I've had to step back and re-evaluate my priorities:

1.  With novels and blogging consuming so much of my time, am I being realistic taking on non-fiction as well?

2.  Do I have the physical energy and endurance for a major non-fiction project?

3.  Am I trying to hold onto a season that has passed?

I'm no longer obsessing about all the non-fiction ideas I want to pursue. Many of them can be incorporated into my stories if they are that important to me.

Writers: What projects are you hanging onto that need to be left to others, re-purposed, or outright abandoned?

Readers:  What projects occupy your thoughts that you never seem to start?

Photo Credit:  zeraphim
 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Dialogue/Guest Posts/Sovereignty/Blog Titles/Twitter



1.  Art Holcomb guest posts on Storyfix about writing dialogue. This is an excellent article and a key element in novels.

2.  Have you tried doing guest posts for other blogs? It can be a rewarding experience. Shanan, at The Procrastiwriter, gives tips on how to pitch a guest post. Once you have a book on the market, guest posting is a great way to promote your work.

3.  WND reports on a trade deal now being considered by Congress that would put the sovereignty of the United States in grave jeopardy.

4.  Attention Bloggers! Zoe M. McCarthy gives us four resources to help us become awesome at creating blog titles.

5.  Brian Collins guest posts on Positive Writer. He hands out some secrets about Twitter that will help you navigate that social media platform.

Writers:  What's your biggest challenge when writing: dialogue, setting, or story tension? If it's something else, feel free to comment on that as well.

Readers/Bloggers:  How do you come up with your blog titles?

Photo Credit:  ilco

Monday, June 29, 2015

How Tight is Your Writing? - Guest Post by Karen Lange



I'm happy to welcome Karen Lange, author, teacher, and former homeschool mom, to my blog. Karen agreed to do a guest post on writing tight. Enjoy!

“The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”

Thomas Jefferson

This is one of my favorite writing quotes. I think of it as the bumper sticker for word economy.

If, as Jefferson suggests, we examine our writing, looking for places where one word will replace two, can we sharpen our prose?

I think so, and I've long believed that crisp writing makes a great statement. It is also necessary to meet word counts. Weeding out unnecessary words and phrases helps communicate without clutter and fluff.

Here are a few ways I eliminate that dreaded "clutter and fluff":

1) Ditch excess modifiers and hedging words. Words like very, really, quite, fairly, kind of, and truly don't add as much emphasis as we think. When removed, the result is cleaner and nothing is compromised.

2) Remove empty phrases. Trim out phrases like there seems to be, in order to, needless to say, on account of, and what I mean is for clear, crisp statements. 

3) Don't be redundant. When phrases like free gift, past history, honest truth, and end result are pared down to gift, history, truth, and result we've heeded Mr. Jefferson's advice, haven't we?

Does Jefferson's quote strike any chords with you? What methods do you employ to tighten your writing? 



Karen Lange is a freelance writer and editor, an online writing instructor, and the author of Write for Life and Homeschool Co-ops 101. She is a fan of dark chocolate, ice hockey, and hanging out with her 7-year-old grandson. Connect with Karen on her blog, Twitter – KLELange, and on her Facebook author page.

Friday, June 26, 2015

We Interrupt our Regularly Scheduled Program...



I'm thrilled to announce The Christmas Wish is once again available for sale on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback formats. How do you like the new cover?

A few months ago, I told everyone I was changing publishers. My agent, Joyce Hart, of Hartline Literary Agency, told me about the Amazon White Glove program for authors with agents. My three books: The Moses Conspiracy, The Scent of Fear, and The Christmas Wish will all be re-issued through them. Out of the Mist will be published soon using this platform.

The covers are almost done for The Moses Conspiracy and The Scent of Fear. They should be released by the end of next week.

Will you help me spread the word? Here are a few suggestions:

1.  If you've read this book, I hope you'll review it on Amazon. It will help other readers make a decision.

2.  Sharing this post using the Social Media buttons will help inform people that The Christmas Wish is now available.

3.  Commenting on this post and sharing on Social Media groups will also raise awareness.

Thanks so much for your support and encouragement over the last couple of years.

Question for writers:  What are some of the ways you get the word out about your books/articles?

Question for readers:  How do you find out about authors and their books? Is Social Media an important part of the process for you?


Hyperlinks/Facebook/Euthanasia/Weasel Words/Stuffed Peppers



1.  The Blogging Bistro gives us a tutorial on 6 Easy Steps to Creating the Perfect Hyperlink. Whether you're a writer or blogger or both, you'll find this guide helpful.

2.  Lisa Hall-Wilson guest posts at Writers in the Storm, asking "Are you sharing too much of the wrong thing on Facebook?"

3.  WND reports on European Court's ruling that approved the killing of an injured patient. Years ago, many warned about the slippery slope we were heading down when abortion was approved. When one life is treated as unimportant, no one is safe.

4.  Zoe M. McCarthy talks about "weasel words" that can suck the life out of your writing.

5.  Sweetie Mom is a fan of Stuffed Italian Peppers. I found a version for the crockpot that I'd like to try one of these days. Check it out on the Kraft Recipes website.

Writers:  What weasel words appear in your writing? "Just" is the one that keeps me on my toes.

Readers:  Have you tried any recipes from the Internet? Please share.

Photo Credit:  salazar78

Monday, June 22, 2015

Pineapple Stuffing and Other Odd Combos



Recently, I posted a picture and a recipe for Pineapple Stuffing on my Facebook Timeline. While some people thought it sounded yummy, others couldn't quite put those two words together.

Anyone who knows me will tell you cooking isn't my favorite thing. When I tasted this recipe at a friend's house, I loved it. What a perfect side dish this would be for our church covered dish dinners. Someone told me it was easy to make, which sealed the deal for me.

It worked.

When I wrote The Moses Conspiracy, I set it in Washington, D.C. and Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania. A lot of people scratched their heads at a futuristic novel in those two settings. What? No outer space? No aliens?

Why Washington, D.C., you ask? Two major characters meet in that location, impacting  the rest of the story. Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania? Since the book takes place in the year 2025 and freedoms are restricted, the popular Amish community experiences less overall control because it's a Tourist Zone.

It worked.

I would be remiss if I left you wondering about the deliciousness of Pineapple Stuffing and neglected to give you the recipe. Here it is for your eating pleasure:

8 eggs
2 sticks of butter
2 cups sugar
2 20-oz. cans of crushed pineapple, well drained
10 slices of white bread, cubed

Cream the softened butter and sugar together with a mixer. Add one egg at a time. Gradually incorporate the pineapple into the mixture. Fold in the bread cubes with a spoon.

Pour the mixture into an oblong pan. (I use a Pyrex dish.) Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes until golden brown on top. With some ovens, you might have to leave it a little longer. Enjoy!

Writers:  Have you ever tried combining settings, characters, or other aspects of a story that could be described as unusual? Please share.

Readers:  Do you have a favorite recipe that involved ingredients you wouldn't normally combine? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Susan J. Reinhardt

Friday, June 19, 2015

Protecting Computer/Write/Sweden/You Know You're.../Collections



1.  The Blogging Bistro gives important tips and links on how to protect your computer during a disaster. This is a post you'll want to mark as a Favorite.

2.  Henry McLaughlin guest posts at The Write Conversation. Have you ever heard the term, "Write what you know?" He turns the saying around to, "Know what you write." This article has some good storytelling basics.

3.  WND reports on a mandate in Sweden that could spread to other countries. Doctors and midwives would be required to perform abortions with no allowance for their conscience.

I've been around awhile and noticed something. When we compromise in one area, it emboldens those determined to promote evil to push for more.

4.  Jean Fischer, at Something To Write Home About, did a fun post, "You Know You're a Writer When..." Check it out and add your two cents in the comments.

5.  One of the delights of blogging is I can enjoy other people's collections. Martha, at Martha's Favorites, shares some her teacups. Would you believe she's on #273???

Writers:  Complete this sentence: "You know you're a writer..."

Readers:  What kind of collectibles do you enjoying looking at on the Internet? Do they ever inspire you to become a collector?

Photo Credit:  Susan J. Reinhardt

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