Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Saturday, October 31, 2009

November Story Feature: Fidelity

"Fidelity" was a top ten finisher in the Science Fiction Writers of Earth short story contest in 2000, and first appeared in the anthology Unparalleled Journeys, from the writers of Amazing Journeys magazine, in 2005. Readers had this to say:

A truly enjoyable story mixing the feel of a fairy tale with a futuristic world, rolled up in a serious drama. I'm not sure how to get into any of the details without giving anything away! The story opens with a bang and Angie's handling of action is excellent. No sooner has the action subsided than the real problem begins to rear its ugly head. The main character struggled valiantly with feelings of duty and honor against feelings of friendship. All of this happens with some great scientific twists going on that help build a rich, believable world.

The theme of "Fidelity" is, "to thine own self be true." Do our genes control our fates? It started with a particularly vivid dream about a body guard and a prince, and took off from there. I hope you enjoy "Fidelity." Stop by and leave a comment here to let me know what you think.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Nothing to Sneeze At

That's an odd phrase, isn't it? Am I the only one who uses it? Anyway, I did not make it to page 300 by the end of last week. I came close, though. I got to 297, and that's nothing to sneeze at. I wanted to blame my lack on dentist appointments, band concerts, and family parties, but the real reason I didn't quite make it was that I came to a scene that kicked my butt for 2 days. I always thought I was more of a seat of the pants writer, but here I learned for certain that I cannot write a scene that has not been adequately planned. Most of the planning takes place in my head, but still, I have to plan it before I can write it. I finally made it through the scene, though I still think it needs some work. All together, I wrote fifteen pages, and decided instead of feeling depressed by the lack of three pages, I will be happy that I wrote that many. That's 50% more than usual! And I intend to make 15 my new weekly goal. I should be to page 300 by tonight (or whenever I get to sit down and write), so that's not bad at all.

Other things not to sneeze at: My dear friend Suzette has an agent! Read all about it on her blog, Shooting Stars. I am so happy for her. She is a fantastic writer. I can't wait until her book is a huge bestseller! Go, Suzy!

My cousin-in-law, Derek Westra, published a childrens story in Knowonder! magazine. His story, "Trains" is on page 12. Go grab your little ones and read it to them. It's darling. Way to go, Derek!

Friday, October 23, 2009


Thank you! Diana over at Writing Roller Coasters has given me the Heartfelt Award. I really appreciate that. Her blog is great if you haven't checked it out yet.

Here are some blogs that I think deserve a Heartfelt Award:

Nisa for both Wordplay, Swordplay and Daily Journeys of an American Gypsy
Michelle H. The Surly Writer
Rosslyn Elliot's Inkhorn Blue
L.T. Elliot's Dreams of Quill and Ink 

Thanks again, Diana!

Writing update: I have written nine pages. That leaves only two days to write nine more. I didn't write anything yesterday. Oh, dear. Can I do it? Crazily enough, I still think I can, even though my parents are coming into town and we have a big family Halloween party on Saturday. I'd better get off the computer and into the notebook.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

One of Those Rare WIP Updates

First off, I'm awesome! Elana said so. Go check out her awesomeness post. She's awesome in my book! Anyway, it's been a while since I updated you on my writing projects. Or at least it feels like it has been. I've been working on The Ransomed Returning for seven months. As of last night, I have written 18 chapters and 285 pages or approximately 60,500 words.

Combine that with "Consecrated," my novella, and I've written 84,000 words over the past year.

That's a record for me, at least in the past decade or so. Last year at this time, I increased my weekly writing goal from 5 pages per week to 10 pages per week. Now, I'm going to increase it to 15 pages per week. That didn't work out so well last week, but at least I got 10. My official goal for this week is 13 pages, but secretly I'd like to write 18 pages, and reach page 300 by the end of the week. Go me. I am awesome, after all.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

First Paragraph Contest

You've probably heard about Nathan Bransford's First Paragraph Contest going on this week. I decided, what the heck? Might as well enter. Here's my paragraph:

No tree grew in the Black City; no bushes, no flowers, no blade of grass. Not even a single scraggly weed penetrated the endless stretch of bevakm. Ripping the bevakm out was back-breaking work, especially without an overskin, but Peter didn't mind. He would have torn it out with his bare hands if he had to.

That's from the novel I'm working on now, called The Ransomed Returning. Any good? I guess time will tell...

Monday, October 12, 2009

MindflightsRe-opens to Subs Today!

I am so excited that Mindflights is at last open to submissions again. I have really missed reading them! Really. Okay, it was nice to have the summer off, but I do love reading the subs. I love giving out acceptances almost as much as receiving them. I have to say that reading the slush pile has done my own writing and self-editing skills a world of good. At Mindflights, we always give feedback to all of the submissions.

If you're interested in submitting to Mindflights, we are looking for short fiction and poetry that is speculative (sci-fi, fantasy,etc) and also family-friendly/Christian-friendly. We like works that entertain, enlighten, and uplift us. Have a look at our guidelines, then send us your best! I can't wait to read it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Creativity Killers

Here are some of mine:

Lack of Sleep: This one is a catch-22, because often if I want to get any writing done, I have to stay up late to do it. I have to find a balance, though, because I can't be creative when I am dead tired.

Strong Emotion: I'm talking about the kind that takes me by the throat and doesn't let go. The kind that overwhelms all rational thought, and leaves me hung over the next day. Emotional drunkenness. Anger, indignation, anxiety, despair. Believe me, no writing happens when I'm in the grip of one of these. 

Fear, doubt, and envy: These don't come with overwhelming passion. These are much more subtle and insidious. It's the nasty voice inside saying, "That's the dumbest idea ever." "No one will want to read that." "You're just a fraud." "You're not good enough." "You'll never make it." Can't create if that voice is too loud.

Disorder: I can hear my husband laughing at this one. Just for the record, I am not an organized person. I don't spend a great deal of time on housework. I feel I have better things to do than scrub the walls. But I try to maintain a certain level of cleanliness. If the house is so strewn with toys, books, school papers, dirty clothes, etc, that I can barely walk from room to room, it's really hard to get in a creative frame of mind.

Yikes! I hate the creativity killers. I have to counter them with some creativity nourishers: 

Beautiful music
The view from the writing chair
Good books
Family and friends
Prayer and worship
Kind words

I could go on. Luckily, that is a much longer list than the other. So, tell me. What are your creativity killers? What are your creativity nourishers?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Thinkin' About the Future

In which I ponder what I learned at The Book Academy, do some soul-searching, and give out an award.

I am realizing now that my notes for the other classes I attended at the writing conference are woefully inadequate for blog posts. I did want to talk about James Dashner's presentation entitled, "Things I Learned from Springville to New York." Side note: I was sitting in the right place at the right time, and James Dashner invited me to sit with him and some friends for lunch. That was cool. He had a great list covering topics from good writing to finding an agent to marketing your work. What impressed me the most was the story he told of being at a writing conference listening to a famous author go on and on about how great she was, and feeling really depressed because all he had was one small press novel with a bad cover. He said he dealt with that depression by setting a goal. A totally ridiculous goal, in his words, that he would quit his job and write full time within five years. You know what? He did it. Five years later, he quit his job and is writing full time. His book, The Maze Runner will be released this week. I was inspired by that story! I wanted to set a ridiculous goal of my own and make it happen.

Then I hit a snag. I couldn't come up with a goal. Dashner's goal was perfect because it was specific and concrete and measurable. I didn't know what goal to set. "Become a successful author in X amount of years," seemed a little too nebulous to me. How do I define "successful" anyway? I can't set a goal to quit my job, because I can't, in fact quit my job. I don't want to anyway (except sometimes). I'm a stay-at-home mom. I've always wanted to be a stay-home mom. I love being a stay-home mom. I wouldn't trade it for anything. Which got me thinking: Do I have to give up being a stay-home mom to be a successful writer? I mean, obviously this is a job that can be done at home, I'm doing it right now, right? But, really, what if I had to go on a book tour? It seems silly to even think about since no book tour is even remotely on the horizon. It worries me, though. Does being a good writer mean giving up being a good mother? Maybe I should have gone to the class on being a writer and a good parent. There were just too darn many good classes to choose from. I have a hard time defining myself as a working mom. That's just not me. But, obviously becoming a published author would qualify me as working. Sigh. Should I just give it all up to take care of my family? I sure don't want to.

I've been doing some serious soul searching over this. I don't know if I have the answers, but I have come to this conclusion. Writing is too important to me to give up. My family is even more important to me than that. Here's the thing. I think my family is better off for my writing. I am setting an awesome example of perseverance, determination, and following your dreams. My kids are smart, independent and creative. I have to think that comes in part from watching me write and develop my own talents. Most of them are old enough now to read my stuff and enjoy it. I totally love that. Who knows what the future might bring? Stay-home mom is not a job that lasts forever anyway. I'm going to keep chasing this dream, because it makes me happy to do so, and because I believe that it is part of God's plan for me. Even though I often doubt and sometimes despair, I really do believe that in my heart.

So, without further ado, my very own ridiculous goal:

Within two years, I will have a novel published or at least have a contract. Also, I will be presenting at The Book Academy or some other conference of similar size.

Do I have what it takes to make it happen like James Dashner did? He worked hard to achieve his goal. I will too! Woah, it's really kind of scary to put it out there like that.

This post has probably gone on too long already, but I have one more thing to do. Give out an award! Diana at Writing Roller Coasters was kind enough to give me the Super Comments award. Thanks! Since it's a comments award, I'm going nuts and passing on this award to everyone who commented on my Keynote Address post, my most commented post to date. If you commented on that post, the award is yours. Furthermore, everyone who comments on this post gets the award too!

Phew! The post is finished. Hope I didn't ramble you all to death.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October Story Feature: Getting Colder

"Getting Colder" first appeared in Amazing Journeys magazine in the June 2004 issue.

Baron would do anything to save his wife from an incurable illness, but the answer he finds will tests the limits of his strength, his faith , and his understanding.

I got the idea for the illness in this story from reading about an angelfish plague. The symptoms were normal for fish, I'm sure, but when my imagination jumped to people it struck me as really creepy. The title comes from a song by Gordon Lightfoot. Readers had this to say:

"The twist in Getting Colder can't be seen coming; and for the life of me, though I tried to guess what would happen, I too was caught off-guard. Great chars, nice plot line and a back story that told itself!"

I hope you enjoy "Getting Colder." Be sure to leave a comment here and let me know what you think.