“Cookie Cutter” Authors or Writers for the King: Breaking the Mold as Christian Writers #ChristianWriters #ChristianAuthors

Am I a “Cookie Cutter” Author?

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Image by Fathromi Ramdlon from Pixabay
“Cookie Cutter Authors?” You ask. What on earth do you mean by that? Well, let me try to explain. I will admit first off, that my first two books didn’t quite measure up to NYTBS list material. As a matter of fact, there probably aren’t many of us authors whose first books will make that highly coveted list. That doesn’t mean we give up of course. We simply learn from those experiences and become better writers. If yours haven’t done well either, don’t feel bad. Hey, we cut our “writers’ teeth” on those first books, and if we had never written them in the first place, we might never have come to be writers. We have to crawl before we can walk, right? That said, even though we may come from small beginnings, I have now been in this business long enough to know a few things. So, grab some coffee, sit down, and let’s talk about this.

Genre Expectations: Are Readers getting bored?

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Image by Pexels from Pixabay

I have well learned, at least at this point, that there are certain expectations for each genre that readers expect to see. (By the way, for any of you fellow authors still struggling to pin down a genre for your book, or just needing a brush up on the whole genre thing, check this handy Book Genre Finder site out.) Put a book in a wrong genre that’s not the right fit for it, and it will likely result in negative reviews. Thus, my coining the term “Cookie Cutter Authors”, if someone hasn’t already beat me to it. Hey, we can do that, we’re writers. 😉 Too often, this has caused increased pressure on us as authors to put out what our readers want to read. But more and more lately, I am seeing articles and posts with comments from readers saying they have begun to tire of what seems like the same story repeated in numerous books within a given genre, and the same, typical, even stereotyped characters, only the names, places, and scenes have changed. While many readers may continue to expect books they read to fit into those expectations, there are also a good number of them out there who have become bored with the same old scenarios repeated in books by authors trying to fit the old cookie cutter molds. It’s time for us to break the molds of pleasing the world, and write to please Him.

So, What’s Your Point?

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Image by Elien Smid from Pixabay

So, what’s my point, you ask? My point is this: There are too many Christian authors these days who have failed to “stand out” as Christ called us to do, for fear of “offending” their readers, and losing sales. They fall for the deception of writing what readers expect, to the point of settling for compromising, even sacrificing what our Lord expects of us as the writers He has called us to be. They have chosen to “blend in” rather than stand out for Him. I am at the point, I can no longer settle for just being one of these cookie cutter authors, just spitting out generic stories that “fit” into what the world wants to read. As a Christian author, I must answer the call to stand out and make a difference, to write that one unique story that’s not a “cookie cutter” copy of 800 others, but one that might just inspire its readers to change their lives for the better. We as Christian authors will not do that by “blending in”. There will never be a time that the money, riches, and fame this world has to offer will be worth more to me than what my precious Savior has called me to write.

A Choice to Make: Pleasing the World or Reaching Readers for Christ

So, for most of us who are Christian writers, it looks like we’ve come to a “fork in the road”. Every one of us has a choice to make. I know that for those of us who choose to represent the King, Jesus, our Lord and Savior, in our writing, it will likely mean that we may never see our books rise to popularity by the world’s standards. But then, I am no longer writing to please the world, but my Lord. If even one of my books somehow touches someone’s heart and inspires them to change their life for the better, maybe even accept Him as Lord and Savior, then it will all have been well worth it.

Avoiding the Idolatry of Selfish Ambition

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Up until now, I have mainly worked on fiction, and, until now, like many other authors, I had aspirations of making that “NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR” list. That is, until God began to continually lead me to Philippians, chapter 2, verses 3-4, which says (NKJV): “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” The more that began to sink in, the more I have come to realize, through the intense spiritual awakening that has followed, that it is no longer important for me to make that “list”. I no longer subscribe to the covetous, selfish ambitions of worldly fame and recognition, or even the desire to maybe see my books made into movies. Coveting all those things more than the work God wants to do through my writing, and the people He wants to reach through my work falls under something the word of God explicitly warns us against: idolatryAm I saying that’s a bad thing (Making the NYTBS List)? No, of course not! And if I ever do make it, wonderful! And if you are an author or know one with at least one book on that list, let me be the first to congratulate you, or even the 59th person to do so. Please understand here, that I am not saying that in itself is a bad thing. Not at all. I am just saying that I will no longer covet this above the difference God has called me to make and the plan and purpose that He has for me with the books He has given me to write (see Colossians 3:2 and and 2 Corinthians 4:18).

God has really begun to drive this important truth home to me more than ever before. He recently spoke to me and said, “ANYTHING you put before ME becomes an idol!” He also warned us that idolaters will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and 1 Timothy 6:10-12). For too long, we have put on the “masks” of tolerance, political correctness, etc, and chosen to “blend in” to society, rather than stand out for Christ. I will no longer blend in, but I choose to stand out for Him, and help people see that what He has done for me, He will do for them. I choose to believe He is faithful and is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (see Hebrews 11:6), and my work from this point onward will reflect that.

Oh sure, it would be easy to tailor my stories around “what the world wants to see”, and what will guarantee me a spot on that coveted list, but when I think of the price tag that is attached to that deceptive “selfish ambition”, no thank you! What my Lord and Savior did for me on Calvary is deserving of no less than my all for Him, and the complete surrender of those things I once considered important, for His will for me instead, and the lives He wants to touch through me. In Philippians 3:7-8, Paul says, “ But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” His will, and what He wants to do through it all, and my testimony reaching more readers through my work for Him is much more important now than the selfish ambition I held on to in the past. All of that other stuff is no longer important.

Mark 8:36 says, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Indeed, the lure of worldly fame and recognition is the greatest illusion ever perpetrated on humanity by the deceiver we all know as the devil. Even my fiction work is now undergoing a huge “face lift”, as I re-evaluate my projects and seriously seek Him to show me how to write works that line up with the message He wants me to project to my readers. I will still, of course, do all I can to maintain the professional standards expected of any of us as writers, but at the same time, I will not compromise to the world’s standards (see 1 Corinthians 10:21 and Matthew 6:24). I want to be that one that’s different from the others.

God’s Version of Success: Choosing the Hidden Rewards of Writing for Christ

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Image by rawpixel from Pixabay
I know that conflict and tension have to be there in order for readers to appreciate the big, powerful, “Wow-I-didn’t-see-that-one-coming” conclusion when it ends. But we as Christian writers can do this without sacrificing our God-given purpose and perspective. There may even be “pre-Christian” characters in my stories, or characters representing the hurting, lonely, and struggling. My soon coming book, “LOGAN – Chain of Grace”, is a good example of this. I feel that most readers will be able to identify with at least one of the characters, especially once they see how their lives are transformed by what happens in the story. Thus, it is my goal that as a result, readers will see how their own lives can be transformed if they are willing to surrender their all to Christ. (It is mainly for this reason that a couple of my current fiction works in progress have been delayed, but they are coming soon, promise!) But if we continue to settle for being “cookie cutter” authors, just writing the same tired old scenarios others have written, we may never see others’ lives touched like this. It is only in breaking free from the “fit-in-to-what-everyone-else-is-doing” mold that we will ever reach this hidden pinnacle of success in God’s eyes, as He sees it. He has gifted each of us with unique talents and insights, and we will never see these gifts come to fruition as long as we are busy trying to please the world instead of Him. But if we are willing to break free of that limited thinking and rise to His definition of “success”, who knows, we might just pen that best seller anyway. After all, you may never know the lives He wants to touch through you until you hand Him the quill, the pen, or these days, the keyboard/typewriter, and let Him write through you…
So, why don’t we stop being so afraid of losing sales, or missing out on the “big ticket”, or offending someone, and start being more concerned with reaching the world with the special, unique, encouraging, faith-building, life-renewing message that He has chosen you, out of all the other writers in the world, to write. Pray and ask Him to show you the bigger picture of what He has for you, and He will. And throw out the old cookie cutter image of yourself, break the mold, and get out there and get your message into the hands of the readers the Great Author Himself has already chosen for you to reach…

...That, you see, is how it works when you write for the King!

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Besides, He makes BIGGER “cookies”… and no two are the same. We are all unique, just as He meant it to be. Now, wouldn’t it be a shame if you let the world miss out on that?   

A Trusting Heart, Willing Hands…& a FREE eBook Download! #FaithBuilders #KingdomBuilders

“Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; To shew that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” – Psalm 92:13-15

In November of 2018, the Eastern North Carolina Church of God Senior Adults (50 and older) gathered at the ENCCOG  Campground/gathering center in Kenly, NC for their annual Young at Heart/Senior Talent Convention (<– Click here for info on this year’s event). I entered in the Woodwinds Division, with a solo I played on my clarinet, and in the Creative Writing/Short Story Division. I started not to even bother with the writing part. But then, at the “last minute” I decided, “why not?” So, that evening, with the deadline approaching as of the next morning for the entries to be sent, or emailed in, I started thinking of what to write. Sitting here at the computer, I prayed about it, still thinking of just giving it up and going to bed.

The great, white, blank screen loomed before me…

“Okay, God, You’re writing this, so please just take over. Help me write what you would have me to write,” I prayed.

Before I knew what was happening, the words started to flow onto the page, the keys clacking into the night, as I worked to get it done and send it in to our Pastor’s wife, so she could email it to them.

Even now, as I look back and read it, I can only say that God wrote this, not me. I am only the hands that typed it. Seriously, there is no way I could have ever come up with this on my own. It has all the elements of good fiction I have worked to have in my books, especially the newer projects I am working on, you know, depth, character development, conflict, and tension, and believable dialogue with the characters, all building up to the powerful resolution at the end…an ending that makes us think, makes us take a closer look at ourselves. All of this has to be balanced with not giving too much away early in the story.

When I started writing a few years back, I will admit now, even laughing at myself, that I did not really know what I was doing. I didn’t know then, what all experience has taught me. Things like having the necessary conflict and tension in the story in order for that powerful climax, or resolution at the end to be fully appreciated. I will also admit that even now, at my age, I have often thought of giving up. (Can anybody out there relate? Anybody out there over 50 still writing, or whatever it is you do, shout out to you! 🙂 )

For all my fellow “writing seniors” out there, you may have felt that way yourself at times. So, after much prayer about this, as well as what to do with this thing now, other than let it sit here on my hard drive, collecting “computer dust”, I have felt led to share it with you. You can click this link to download it. I hope you enjoy it and find it encouraging…

The Preacher and the Fiddle – FREE eBook Download

Not bragging or anything like that, but I feel led to share it with you, just to show you, what any of us, every single one of us, can achieve if we surrender our all to the Master. All of us have talents, everyone.  Some of us are terrible at things others are good at, and vice versa. But that is not a bad thing. That’s just God showing His creative variety. When we put it all together, all of us working together, doing the best we can with whatever He’s given us, it all comes together like a big, beautiful quilt (by the way, we had some nice quilting and needlework entries, including our “first lady”, our Pastor’s wife’s awesome entry of a crochet rendering she did of the missionary couple who were pastoring at the church where she got saved and accepted Christ).

For all those my age and older, it can be too easy at times, to just give up or think that we are too old, tired, sick, or (insert whatever comes to your mind here) or that we’re not really as good at doing things as we “used to be”. It’s easy to get tired, stressed, and overwhelmed with all that is going on in the world around us. I am no exception, thus, my putting this whole idea off till that last night before the Creative Writing entries were due in to the ones who would be judging them. But maybe that is why God gives us our creative gifts, not only for building His Kingdom together, but to encourage others through whatever it is our talent is.

Whether it’s a drawing, painting, an uplifting song written, sang, or played, every little thing we accomplish through Him can encourage and influence someone. Maybe it was just that last little bit of encouragement the Holy Spirit was trying to give me, that last little nudge that made me change my mind. Who knows how many of our greatest inventions might not have come to be if it hadn’t been for that little last minute nudge. And so, on I typed into the night…

Fast forward to this past April 30th – May 2nd, 2019, in Gatlinburg, TN, with my husband, our Pastor, and his wife. (We drove separately of course)…that’s right. My little short story won Runner Up at the Senior Talent Competition/Young at Heart Convention, and several others in our church won in their categories as well. The one who won over me in the Creative Writing Division would not be able to make it, so I was able to go and compete at the Nationals. That adorable little crocheted couple our “first lady” did, and our Pastor, who competed in Percussion, Indefinite Pitch, and my short story, made it to the Nationals Competition in Gatlinburg, at the convention center there. There were others in our church who also won who were unable to make it to the Gatlinburg competition, but we still shared our pictures and everything, and they were still cheering us on. The thing is, all of us in the group of those who entered the 2018 Senior Talent Competition were the ones who listened to that last little nudge…that one more little prompting in our spirits that said, “Aww, come on, you can do it!”

And that’s right. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me.”

We are all in Christ, and together, with all of our talents and gifts He has given us, we make up the Body of Christ as a whole. We can do anything He calls us to do. Whether it’s crocheting, knitting, woodwork and building things, quilting, writing, singing, or playing a musical instrument, we all have something we are good at. But we are not gifted in these areas in and of our own accord, but it is through Him, working in us, that we do these things. We try and fail once, we learn from it, we get up and try it again. Besides, as Seniors, (or soon to be seniors), especially those of us who are grandparents now, or even great grandparents, we have to remember that those precious eyes of our grandchildren, and even our adult children, are still watching us. Like that lighthouse beacon guides the ships at sea, we are that shining light to them.

The greatest inventions would have never come to be if their inventors had given up.

Just the same, we will never know what we are capable of if we don’t try. It doesn’t matter how many times we may have failed before. What matters is that we had the courage to get in there and try again. Perhaps the best thing about it all is, as my husband and I walked through the room where all the entries were displayed on the tables in the various categories, admiring the paintings, drawings, crochet and knitting projects, quilts, etc., we knew it was the same wonderful hands of our Creator who had done it all. Just as He had gifted each of these creators with their talents, He had also gifted all the musicians, singers and instrument players. Together, it is the awesome God we serve, showing His creative variety, knowing that when it all comes together, it completes the greater masterpiece He is painting, a grand design only He can see. We are only the various hands that He has gifted for each of the colors, musical notes, and stories that He chooses as He works to create the legacy we will leave for our children and grandchildren…

So, what about you?

Whether you are young or older, like us, there is something you can do, and little eyes will be looking up at you for their own encouragement. After all, that is what our Master Painter does. We are just the hands He uses to do His work.

So paint that painting. Build that little cabin or church woodwork project. Make the quilt. Write the story (or song). Play the music. Sing the song, because all of it glorifies our wonderful Master, and there is no limit to what we can do if we only yield it all to Him. All He needs is a trusting heart and a set of willing hands.

My short story did not win at the Nationals in Gatlinburg, but then, we weren’t there to “win”, but rather to enjoy the blessing of meeting and shaking hands with other “movers and shakers” who are working, as we all are, to build the Kingdom for our Jesus as we work toward His soon return. That in itself was an encouraging experience for me. “Faith Builders” encouraging one another, knowing that what He has done through one of us, He can do through another. And in that respect, we are all winners from the start, because it is the same great Master hands working through us all. It was an honor and a blessing to me, to have just made it that far, to have had the chance to go. And by the way, our Pastor, Bishop Allen Gupton, won in the Percussion Division, so we did not return home empty handed! In fact, as I told him before we left to return home, I was already shifting gears for what is next. On that note, I have to give a shout out to our graduates in our church family who have just graduated high school, as well as our own graduates, my youngest daughter, who just received her Master’s in Social Work (her B.A. is in Psychology), and my husband’s son, who just received his Bachelor’s in Psychology. His wife and my eldest daughter will finish in their respective degrees in December (2019). We are proud of each and every one of you, and our prayers and best wishes are with you as you each look toward the future. We look forward to seeing what God is going to do through each of you! Congratulations to you all, and all Class of 2019 graduates everywhere!

Nevertheless, we all give Him the glory, not only for what He has done, but for what He is about to do, what He can do, through you, me, and any of us who yield to Him what He needs most to complete His masterpiece…a trusting heart, and willing hands.

I’m glad now that I said yes to that little nudge in my spirit. As the sun rose and began streaming through the windows, I finished my humble little short story entry, including the “tightening” and editing I had to do to get it to be within the allowed word count. Was it worth it? Of course it was! A big, resounding YES on that one! I hope you will say yes too, to whatever it is He is calling you to do. I promise you, it will be more than worth it.

Need some more encouragement? Okay, I promised to share it with you, and here it is. FREE for you to download and read, my short story I entered in our Senior Talent Competition. I hope you enjoy it, and that it gives you encouragement in some way, because what He has done through me, He can do through you. Whatever He has gifted you to do, just remember, it is often just when we feel like giving up, like we are just too tired and worn, or discouraged to go on, that He does His greatest work through us. And even though it did not win in the Nationals, I know that there is no limit to what He can and will do with it, so I have yielded it to Him. After all, it’s His story. Again, I am only the trusting heart and willing hands that He used to write it. You can click the link below to download it and read it…and yes, again, it’s FREE 🙂 .

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Photo licensed through Pixabay. Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

The Preacher and the Fiddle – FREE eBook Download

So, for any of you out there who are in the Eastern North Carolina Church of God region, if you can paint, draw, sing, play, drum, knit, crochet, or you are awesome at woodwork, (or even cook & clean!) why not try and join us this year? Many seniors just do it for the fun (and food!) and fellowship, and worshiping God together, even if they don’t feel they will win. After all, you’ll never know what God can do through you if you don’t try. Remember, it’s all through His hands, not ours! We only have to have a trusting heart and a willing set of hands. And just as the people of the little church in the story, you will never know what beautiful music our Grand Maestro could play through you…

…until you hand Him the fiddle and the bow. 

Romance, Time Travel, and a River of Secrets…and an Idea for a Romantic Getaway! #greatvalentinesdayreads #loveisintheair

“They say there is a path that winds through the forest, that exists deep within our imaginations, in that childlike part of our minds…that gate is only open once. After this, the adult mind somehow closes it.” – “Anna” – “Summer of the Rose”

SOMEWHERE DEEP IN THE FOREST LIES A SECRET…

A rose is thrown onto the water, as its surface sparkles like diamonds in the sunlight, beckoning you to go just a little further…

Come with me on a path that winds through the forest, and even back in time… 

Romance, Time Travel, and a River of Secrets…

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A RIVER OF SECRETS…Anna Brownfield is 12 the summer of 1877, when she and her twin brothers, Jed and Josiah, 15, set out to find the secret place in the river, hidden in the forest near their little dirt road southern town, where folks say that if you touch the water there, you will look around and realize you have traveled forward or even backward in time. Little do they know what the “Enchanted Lady” winding her way through the forest, which Anna refers to as “Lady River”, has in store for them. 
ROMANCE…Did she find her true love because of a secret place in the river, like others claim they did? Anna is now 87 years old, and she has some stories to tell, but none quite like the “Summer of the Rose”. There are others who have stories to tell, and Anna knows who they are. She also knows that there are few who have ever been able to resist the River’s call.
TIME TRAVEL…Pull up a chair and sit for a while with Anna. She might just tell you a story you just wouldn’t believe…

Although my second book, “Summer of the Rose” is not classified as a “Romance”, (it has romantic “threads”, but that’s not the main theme), I feel it will truly take you on a journey you won’t soon forget. As you follow Anna’s journey as she tells of that magical summer of 1877, when she comes of age, and eventually finds her true love, you might be surprised at the lines she is willing to cross to find him. The Kindle version is only $2.99, and with a simple click, you could be reading it in just a few minutes! The book is also in the Kindle Matchbook Program, which means…”If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $0.99″.

I am currently working on other projects I hope to have available soon, but since it is Valentine’s Day, I just wanted to put this out there for you. It is a truly captivating tale that would make a great addition to your Kindle list, especially since summer is just around the corner. It is the first in a series, and I have started on the 2nd book, although I did kind of put this project on the back burner in order to focus on other projects, one of which I have been working on a bit longer (it’s gonna be good, I promise! More on this later…wink, wink!) so I really want to get that finished. That one ended up being a 2 book set, and I just recently got book 1 back from my editor, so I am in the dreaded re-write stage, but it’s all going to be worth it! So, if you don’t want to miss out on this and my other upcoming books, be sure to hit the subscribe button so you will be among the first to know!

Meanwhile, click here to read my “Interview with Anna” and I’ll just let her tell you a little about the story. But now, I’ll have to warn you, she’s 87 now and she says what’s on her mind! Also, for those who might be looking for a nice, cozy, rustic cabin for a romantic getaway with your sweetheart, the link is on the page (the “Interview…”, above). Be sure and tell Arizona Jane Keith and Flossie sent ya! The cabin is in Cherokee, NC, and we’re pretty sure you will enjoy it! For other things to do in Cherokee, click here. 

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Dancing Stones Cabin in Cherokee, NC

So, from Keith and me, HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! 

Enjoy your evening with your sweetie, and be sure to check back later or subscribe for more of my exciting books coming soon! Visit my home page to learn more.

Meanwhile, what’s your story? Click here to read my post on getting your story out there and making it happen! Well?

Now, go get ready for that romantic date with your sweetheart! As for my sweet hubby and me, we’re having ours right here at home, with candle light and the works! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go put my roses in a vase and some water and get ready for my own dinner date to celebrate our love, married 3 years and counting, although we actually went to the prom in 1983! We may have walked away from each other, but we are thankful every day that God brought us back together and gave us another chance!  And don’t forget parents, grandparents, and others who are special to you too. They need to hear those three little words too! Oh, and if you two do decide to try the cabin, be sure to bookmark the page and check the calendar early, as special dates do get booked way in advance! You can thank me later!

 

Stumbling Stones or Stepping Stones: Is There a Book Stuck Inside You? #writeyourbook #whatsyourstory?

Write that book
What’s YOUR story? What’s holding you back?

Could God be calling YOU to write a book and tell your story? The truth is, God is no respecter of persons (see Acts 10:34 & Romans 2:11), and what He has done for one, He will do for another. If you have a testimony of a traumatic event or trying situation God has delivered you from, then it is now your testimony! What have you learned from it? How could the wisdom and strength you’ve gained from it help others? Here are some Bible verses about letting God use our testimony to help others.

Is writing a book one of your goals? If not, maybe it should be. Maybe like a lot of folks, you have been walking around with a book stuck inside of you, you just haven’t known how to go about writing it. Or if you are like many I’ve talked to, you may not even realize you have a story that needs to be told. In truth, I think a lot of people are in that last category. I know I was for a long time.

In too many cases, I think it is too easy for us to allow the devil to convince us that we are useless, that whatever it is that happened to us has destroyed us to the point that there is no way possible that we can ever be any good to others. So, the reality is, there are a lot of people walking around feeling lost, defeated, and useless, but this could not be farther from the truth, when in fact, their stories could help others. All we have to do is surrender it all to Jesus, the “Author and finisher of our faith” (See Hebrews 12:1-2, this of course, is put in better context if you read the 11th chapter, what has been referred to as the faith chapter.)

He is able to take what the devil meant to use to destroy us, and make it into our testimony. This is something I get into more in my upcoming book, “CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door”, which will have my testimony of my Near Death Experience in a very traumatic automobile accident in November 1985. Click here for more on this. Be sure to subscribe if you want to know when it comes out!

Stumbling Stone or Stepping Stone?

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Pic taken on a trip to Cherokee, NC in 2012. Are you going to be a “rock” in your own path, or the water that goes around it?

So, what about you? Have you been through a traumatic experience? Do you want to learn more about how God can use your story to help others? Are you ready to learn how you can surrender it all to Christ and let Him turn it into a dynamic and powerful testimony to be used for His glory? Whatever it is that happened to you, you can either let it continue to be a stumbling stone, or give it to Him and let Him turn it into a stepping stone, one that will lead to greater paths as you pursue your destiny. The above picture was taken on a trip I took to Cherokee, NC in, I believe it was May, 2012. I was at a very low point in my life. I stayed at the Dancing Stones Cabin. I needed to just get away from it all, and desperately needed some “Me and God” time. When I first saw it online, it was like I felt the place was calling me.

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On the back porch of the Dancing Stones Cabin, where I “had coffee with God”.

That last morning, as I sat out there on the porch, sipping my coffee and just being in His presence, one of the things He said to me was, “The water in the river, when it comes to a rock, does not stop and wait for the rock to move. It simply goes around the rock and continues on its merry way. Are you going to be a rock in your own path, or are you going to be the water that goes around the rock?” I sat there and thought about what He had said, and later went down to spend a few moments by the river. Now, when I look at the above picture, I think about those words He said to me that morning, and how long I was a “rock in my own path”, allowing the devil to use all that had happened to me to “cripple” me spiritually. I had allowed it all to be a stumbling stone, but now, through God’s grace, it has now been turned into a stepping stone.

Perhaps you are more the type to write fiction. In truth, I think it is possible to write life-changing, thought provoking fictional stories that will truly inspire others. The important thing to remember here is, don’t just get caught up in writing what the world wants to read, what will get you a place on the New York Times Best Seller List. Okay, yes, that would be nice. But Paul reminds us in Philippians 2:3 to “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit”. Trust me. I was that person for too long, and that is where my main motive with my writing was. Now, I understand more, why God led me to that verse again and again, until it finally started to sink in, just what He was trying to tell me. It is no longer enough for me to just write what I think will hit the best seller lists, but to write what He gives me, the message, or the stories that He has put in my heart, as He has guided me through the experiences of my life, the wisdom I have gained in my walk with Him. The truth is, it is far too easy these days, to go with what the rest of the world is doing, and too easy to allow that “selfish ambition” to take over and be our main motivation. For me, the rewards of serving Him will be far greater than any best seller status could ever offer, and much greater than anything the world has to offer.

For more on how to write a book, here is a simple guide from bestselling author, Jerry Jenkins. Here is another helpful post by Joanna Penn on her website/blog for writers, The Creative Penn. She also has a course she is offering, scroll down toward the bottom of the page to see it, along with tons of helpful articles she’s posted, and resources to help you get started. A simple Google search will reveal other courses on how to write your novel, many of them free, and by bestselling authors.

As I have said earlier, I have mainly taken the self publishing route up until now, but I have my reasons for it, as my first two books aren’t in popular genres, but my husband and I are very excited about what God is going to do with my latest projects. Here are a couple of earlier posts I did recently, in a little “mini series,” Book Writing for Procrastinators, Part 1 and Part 2, which are loaded with tips and links to more helpful resources from a few of my friends in the writing field who have helped to pave the way for others.

Book Writing for Procrastinators… 8 Ways to Learn from the Pros, Get Started, and Write that Best Seller! #writingtipsfornewbies

Book Writing for Procrastinators, Part 2: Overcoming Distractions & Mind Blocks #WhatsYourStory #WritersHelpingWriters

I think you will find these exciting to get into and explore. After all, I am only one writer helping others, shining my light for Him in whatever way I can to help others, and do all I can to make sure that no one I may pass by goes through their life with a story trapped inside of them.

I have learned from my mistakes. I chose to surrender it all to Jesus, and let Him take my “stumbling stones” and turn them into “stepping stones” that will lead to the greater path of being the best I can be, through Him (Philippians 4:13), and helping others along the way, to be the best they can be too. I hope you will be one of them!

So, what’s YOUR story? The world is waiting!

 

Great Summer Reading: “Summer of the Rose” – now in hard cover! #TimeTravel #Southernhistoricalfantasy

“Is ‘The Wind in the Willows’ a children’s book? Is ‘Alice in Wonderland?’ Is ‘Treasure Island?’ these are masterpieces which we read with pleasure as children, but with how much more pleasure when we are grown-up.” – A. A. Milne 

2014-01-15_14-05-07_194 - Copy (3) - CopyGreat news for all you summer book readers! Book 1 in the “Secrets of Rose River” Time Travel Trilogy, is now in hard cover edition on B&N.comIf you liked “Tuck Everlasting”, you will love this one! A Southern Historical Time Travel Fantasy, with just the right amount of romance, and even a bit of mischief, this is a “coming of age” story being told by “Anna” who’s now 87, that will be enjoyed by young and old alike! Pull up a chair, Anna’s just getting started! The River has secrets she will never tell, but Anna just might know a few of them…

Summer’s just around the corner, and “Summer of the Rose” will make a great addition to your list!

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A RIVER OF SECRETS…Anna Brownfield is 12 the summer of 1877, when she and her twin brothers, Jed and Josiah, 15, set out to find the secret place in the river, hidden in the forest near their little dirt road southern town, where folks say that if you touch the water there, you will look around and realize you have traveled forward or even backward in time. Little do they know what the “Enchanted Lady” winding her way through the forest, which Anna refers to as “Lady River”, has in store for them.

ROMANCE…Did she find her true love because of a secret place in the river, like others claim they did? Anna is now 87 years old, and she has some stories to tell, but none quite like the “Summer of the Rose”. There are others who have stories to tell, and Anna knows who they are. She also knows that there are few who have ever been able to resist the River’s call…

TALES OF TIME TRAVEL…So pull up a chair and sit for a while with Anna, Sam “Tater” Jenson, Mattie Turner, and the others, along with “Flapjack”, the town hound dog as they take you back to a time of early southern America, when the town storytellers sat out in rocking chairs in front of the old stores and told stories of days gone by. Go back to a time when you saw the world through the eyes of a child and dared to imagine the impossible. You might hear a story you just wouldn’t believe…

A truly heartwarming, yet daring romantic adventure you won’t soon forget! Get it now on Amazon in Print (Paperback) and Kindle, and now on B&N.com in Hard Cover, as well as Paperback and Nook! If you liked the movie, “Tuck Everlasting”, <— (Click here for my “Interview” with “Anna” and a special treat at the end!), you will love this book!

Be sure to subscribe to my email so you won’t miss Book 2, “Scent of the Rose”, and my other future releases! If you know someone who would enjoy this book, please share to your Facebook or Tweet, via the buttons below! Get yours today, and I hope you enjoy it! Be sure to stop back by the Amazon or B&N pages and leave a review!

 

 

 

FREE Kindle Download, Mystery at Windy Mountain, 12/13 – 12/17! #freekindlebooks

 

FREE to download 12/13 through 12/17! 5 days only! Mark your calendars now! 

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Click to download!

View the book trailer!

Download and start reading!

First in the “Windy Mountain Mystery Series”, this is a powerful and emotionally gripping Native American Mystery/Time Travel Adventure with a twist of the paranormal that will take you on a journey you won’t soon forget!

THE WIND SEEMS TO BLOW IN WHISPERS…

STRANGE DREAMS FROM THE PAST… Suddenly Joe “Dreaming Hawk” Thomason has become one with the eagle, flying back in time, into the past…Ten winters have passed since Soaring Eagle’s people were taken to serve as slaves for the white men. Now, he is a strong, proud, Lakota Sioux warrior who will stop at nothing to find his people and return them to their sacred lands.

ALMOST LIKE…

A MYSTERIOUS STORY TELLER… Dreaming Hawk has always tried to provide a memorable experience for the guests at Windy Mountain Campground and resort. Yet, he has no answers for the dreams he’s been having. Nor can he explain the strange sense of closeness he feels to the Native American elder who tells the stories by the fire at night for the guests. The elusive story teller has given little information about himself, leaving Al and Naomi Edgewood to wonder about the future of the campground. Yet, it is this air of mystery about him that continues to draw the guests each year. Enter the Wilkerson family. It is approaching summer, and as teachers, Corey and Karen have decided to give their children an educational yet fun vacation. But who is the mysterious Native American mentor Corey meets who advises him to create a path for learning for their children? Indeed, the paths of our lives have strange ways of crossing. The Native Americans have long believed that the ancestors guide us. At night, as the guests gather around the fire, the wind seems to blow in whispers, almost like voices in the wind.

BUT WHO IS HE?… The mystery only deepens as strange things begin to happen around the Campground. The Wilkerson family is in for a summer vacation they will never forget…

VOICES IN THE WIND…

Know someone who would enjoy this book? Click the buttons below and share, or email it via the link above! Don’t forget to stop back by the Amazon page and leave a review! Thanks, and hope you enjoy the journey!

 

All Writers: Hats off to the Late, Great Natalie Babbitt! #childrensauthor #tuckeverlasting

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In memory of Natalie Babbitt, 1932 – 2016

I write for children because I am interested in fantasy and the possibilities for experience of all kinds before the time of compromise. I believe that children are far more perceptive and wise than American books give them credit for being.  ~ Natalie Babbitt

You may remember from my past posts that my 2nd book, “A River of Secrets, Summer of the Rose”, was in part, inspired by the movie, “Tuck Everlasting”, which was actually adapted from a children’s book by Natalie Babbitt. To be honest, it was also inspired largely by a walk I took one day. I came back in and sat down and felt it coming to me. It has been more than a few times that the ideas for the projects I have been working on so far have come to me from the Great Author Himself, and such was the case this time. It has seemed that this has happened right at the times I was about to just give up and “throw in the towel” on it all. But, I also know that I wouldn’t be the author and writer I am now if it weren’t for the inspiration I have received from other authors.

As writers, they are our teachers, and we can learn much just from reading their work. Natalie said as much in an interview I was able to find. You can read it here. Indeed, she has been one of my greatest teachers. I was doing an internet search for something pertaining to what I was working on and happened to see the news headlines that she left our world on October 31, 2016. She was 84. Read it here.

Although she did not start out wanting to be a writer, but rather, an illustrator, she wrote several books in the span of her writing career and illustrated many others. Here is a listing of her books as well as a bio about her.  You may have seen this movie that was adapted from her book, “Tuck Everlasting”. Here is the movie trailer:

I think I can speak for all writers, who aspire to be great authors one of these days, that we can say, “hats off”, to one who has truly been a great teacher and inspiration to us all. Thank you, Mrs. Babbitt, for all you have taught me as a writer myself, and for the great works you have left us. May they continue to inspire future generations of young readers, as you have inspired us! In one of her quotes from the story, I believe it was the father in the “Tuck” family who says, to “Winnie Foster”, “Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.”

I choose to live, live my life to the fullest and to celebrate the gifts I have been given, and what all I can accomplish with the time I have left on this earth. After all, there are plenty of teachers who have paved the way before me, and the Great Author Himself, to guide my way.

I also took advantage of the anniversary edition of her book, “Tuck Everlasting”. I may not be a child reader, but then, there is still a little bit of our childhood left in all of us, I think. Besides, to all of us as authors, reading the works of those who came before us is how we learn. To quote my character, “Anna”, who also narrates the story in “A River of Secrets, Summer of the Rose”, I think this is probably one of my favorite lines in the whole book:

“They say there is a path that winds through the forest that exists deep within our imaginations, in that childlike part of our minds…but that gate is only open once. After this, the adult mind somehow closes it.” – “Anna” 

Why not take a journey back down that path, if but for a little while…

Click here to read a sample of the 40th Anniversary Edition of “Tuck Everlasting”. 

1 Day Left! FREE Kindle: A Southern Historical Time Travel Fantasy

cropped-cropped-kimg15561.jpgHi all, hope you had a good weekend! Just a reminder, only 1 day left, that’s today, Monday, August 22nd, to get your FREE download of “A River of Secrets, Summer of the Rose”! The FREE Kindle download promotion ends today! But the good news is, if you buy the print version of either of my books, both of which are in the Kindle Matchbook Promotion, OR if you have in the past, the Kindle version of that book is free for you to download. That way, you can read it on the go. (Just don’t try to read while driving, lol)

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Click to download on Amazon

I also have some sneak previews of other projects I am working on, which you can check out via the ‘Books Coming Soon’ tab. Meanwhile, if you know anyone who would like to read, please share!

I also have a couple of major projects I have been working on, which I am very excited about, so subscribe if you haven’t so you won’t miss out! Lots going on, so, I am getting ready to roll up my sleeves, quit procrastinating (see my last post on that here, for any of you writers out there), and make it happen!

Have you ever heard of a writer interviewing their characters? Well, this author did! Somewhere in the forest lies a secret…not many in Anna’s little dirt road town somewhere in the South (she won’t tell us where) know about it. Folks say there’s a secret place in the river out there in the forest somewhere where if you touch the water there, you will look around and realize you have traveled forward, or even backward, in time! Of course, not many of the folks in town will admit it, but then, there are those who have a story to tell, and Anna knows who they are…

Click here to read my interview with her!

Just a fair warning, it’s been a while since Anna and her twin brothers set out to try and  find the secret place back in the summer of 1877, when she was 12 and they were 15, so let’s just say she says what’s on her mind. She may be 87 years old now, but she knows how to tell a story! She has some stories to tell, but none quite like the “Summer of the Rose”!

Well, that’s it for now, more to come in the very near future, I will be sure to keep you posted! If you happen to be reading this after Monday, Aug. 22nd, which was the last day of the FREE Kindle promotion, both of my current 2 books are regularly $2.99, and they are also in the Kindle Unlimited program, so if you are a member of that, they’re free to you anyway! Head on over to Amazon for more details on that. Also, remember, you don’t have to own a “Kindle” device now to be able to download books, most smart phones have the app already loaded onto them, or you can download the app right from the Amazon page. Oh, and if you happen to be a writer, or if you have thought of writing a book but don’t really know where to start, be sure to see my last 2 posts, loaded with tips and resources for writers, and a little advice on what has worked for me, ways to learn from the pros, quit procrastinating, and get started on writing that best seller!

And be sure to link back to me when you’re book comes out so I can celebrate with you! Until next time, hope everyone has a great week!!!

 

 

FREE Kindle Download! Aug 18-22!A Romantic Southern Historical Time Travel Story You Just Might Not Believe…#historicalfantasy #timetravel #greatreads

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

Hi everyone!


thickpaperbackfront_604x964I just wanted to post this little update letting you know about a FREE Kindle Promotion I’m having for my book, “A River of Secrets, Summer of the Rose”, the 1st book in the “River of Love’s Rose” Time Travel Trilogy. Now through Monday, August 22nd, you can download the Kindle version FREE! Also, both of my current books are in the Kindle Matchbook Promotion, so if you purchase the print version of either of them, or have in the past, the Kindle version is FREE for you to download. This is a truly enchanting and romantic Southern Historical Time Travel Fantasy that will take you back in time, to a charming little dirt road town “somewhere in the South” as “Anna” puts it, in the summer of 1877, where she’ll tell you a story you just might not believe…about a secret place in the river somewhere in the forest, where folks say if you touch the water there, you will look around and see that you have traveled forward or backward in time! There are others around town who have stories to tell and Anna knows who they are…

So mark your calendars so you won’t forget to download your copy, starting this Thursday, August 18th and running through Monday, August 22nd! Be sure to get yours, and share this post with anyone you know who would enjoy this wonderful little story that will take you on a truly heartwarming and romantic journey you won’t soon forget!

Here is the book trailer for it…

Click here to download it on Amazon.

The story was inspired by the movie, “Tuck Everlasting”, which was adapted from a children’s book by Natalie Babbit. It’s a long running favorite of mine, which my son introduced me to. Want to meet “Anna”? You can! Click here to read my “interview” with her!  But I’ll have to warn you, she’s 87 now and she’s something else! She says what’s on her mind; I’ll put it that way.  A lot has happened since that summer of 1877, when Anna was just 12, and she and her twin brothers set out to find the secret place in the river. A coming of age story in a sense, I feel it will appeal to young and old alike!

And one more time, just for you, here’s the movie trailer for the movie that inspired the series! If you have kids, this is a rather enjoyable movie they will enjoy watching with you. Here you go, enjoy!

It is my sincere hope that this book will take you on an enchanting and inspirational journey you won’t soon forget! Meanwhile, whether you are an author or a reader or both, I also want to tell you about a great club I am a member of, called Author Marketing Club. If you are an avid reader, you can subscribe with your email and receive daily emails of free books that are currently in free promotions to download. If you are an author, they provide some pretty awesome tools and resources to promote your books. Some of the resources are available to (free) members, others are only available to premium subscribers. I am a member, and definitely planning to become a premium member soon! Just thought I’d share! Click here if you’re interested…

Book Marketing & Selling Tips for Authors

For now, like many of you, I am an Indie Author working my way to the top, although like most of us authors, I am working towards finding a literary agent for some of my upcoming works, which I feel really excited about. Hey, we all know it’s hard work trying to make it as an author, especially with all of the competition we have out there. Click here to read my last post which featured links to some very helpful resources for authors, along with tips from learning from the pros, which I am sharing from my own experience. Now, if you’ve been procrastinating, like many of us have done at times (hey, I’ve had times I could be the queen of procrastinators, I explain more in the post linked above) check out that post and some of the tips I’ve shared, and get to writing that best seller. If you’ve ever dreamed of writing a book, you can! See you at the top! Believe it, dream it, and you can do it!

Know anyone who would love this book or find this information helpful? Please share! And if you enjoy the book, don’t forget to stop back by my Amazon page and leave me a nice review! Be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss out on any of my upcoming books! Remember, the free download dates are Thursday, August 18th through Monday, August 22nd! I hope you enjoy it! Thanks for stopping by!

 

Book Writing for Procrastinators… 8 Ways to Learn from the Pros, Get Started, and Write that Best Seller! #writingtipsfornewbies

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. — Maya Angelou

I think of myself… as a troubadour, a village storyteller, the guy in the shadows of the campfire. – Louis L’Amour

Do you have a story to tell? Is there a future best seller trapped inside you? Do you want to write it, but have problems with procrastination? If so, you have come to the right place! I have had times I could be the queen of procrastinators! So, let’s help each other!  Even if you don’t have a problem with procrastinating, do you have an idea for a book, but just don’t know how to go about it? Then read on. Here are some tips from my experience that might help you. But first…

A Little More About Me…

If you’re anything like me, I went for years never even imagining myself writing a book. Maybe you’ve thought about it, but just been putting it off. Or maybe you’ve wanted to, but just don’t know how to go about it. For starters, let me just say, for the record, I certainly don’t claim to know everything there is to know about writing books. As a matter of fact, I am somewhat of a procrastinator. That said, I also had to put everything on the back burner for a while when my husband had his second kidney transplant a couple of years ago, plus I am a grandma to 3 very active little boys I like to see when I can. Then too, life can be just plain hectic these days. So, at this point, I am still playing catch up, but I am finally making progress, and my husband and I are very excited about the projects I have in the works right now. I currently have two books available on Amazon, you can check them out here. Although I have taken the self publishing route thus far, hubby and I are very optimistic toward pursuing the traditional route for my current projects, which are in the proofreading/polishing stages now. One is a book on faith, which will have my testimony of my near death experience in a horrific automobile accident in November of ’85, you can read more on that here. Be sure to subscribe to my email so you don’t miss out! Also in the works is my “Sadie’s Love” Duology (so far 😉 ). Next up is rolling up my sleeves to write those query letters! But enough about me already! Today, we’re going to talk about you! So what’s your story?

So What’s Your Story?

So, what’s your story? I will admit, writing comes to me naturally, as my mother was also a writer, and she has been one of my greatest teachers, as well as my dad, who inspired in me a love for reading. I can be watching a movie or listening to a conversation and get an idea for a story. But it didn’t always come to me that easily. For years, my tendencies to procrastinate alone kept me from feeling that I could ever sit down and write a book. I simply didn’t have the self discipline. But now, with two books down and more to come, I want to share with you some of what has worked for me, what I’ve learned from “the pros”, and even a few links to resources I have found helpful along my journey. I’ll share with you what I have found helpful, and in turn, if anyone knows anything I haven’t listed here that has helped you, feel free to comment and share. After all, we’re all writers helping writers, right? …

1. Traditional or Self Publish? Learning From Rejection… 

Let’s face it. Most of us as writers start out with dreams of hitting that coveted New York Times Best Seller List, and maybe even eventually having our books made into movies. But we quickly find it isn’t that easy. So do we just give up? Certainly not! Quite the opposite. The best way to get started on that path to becoming a NYTBS Author is to do just that, get started. Write that book. Carve out some quiet time to sit down and write. Then, do your online search for literary agencies, midsize publishers (some of which do not require an agent), and follow their instructions to send in a query letter and/or a synopsis of your work. But if your first book is rejected, don’t get discouraged. My first book was more or less a story I had “trapped in me” as Maya Angelou said, and wasn’t really in a popular genre, so after multiple rejections, I finally decided to self publish it through Amazon Createspace. That being said, although sales for it and even my second book have not been quite what I would like them to have been, I look back on the experience and learn from it, and keep writing. After all, that future best seller isn’t going to write itself! A good example of a pro we can learn from here is Jack Canfield, Co Author/Creator of the now ever popular Chicken Soup for the Soul Series, who went through something like 144 rejections before he found a publisher. Did that stop him? No! And just look where he is now! But don’t just take my word for it. Click here for some of Jack’s tips and author training on writing a book and making it a success!  So write that book and send those query letters. If it gets rejected 10 or 20 times, don’t just give up. Use the experience to learn ways you can improve, and study the examples of success stories, like Jack Canfield and others. Your story might just be that diamond in the rough!

2. Read! Other Authors Are Our Best Teachers…

The best way to learn the art of writing is to read. Reading the works of other authors not only gives you plenty of exposure to different writing styles, but it also provides a good way to learn about character development, irony, symbolism, dialogue, personification, as well as the flow of the story itself. The best place to start is with some of those favorite best selling authors you like. As you’re reading, notice how the story is set up. For fiction, what literary agents want to see is: hook, conflict, and resolution. Here, Rachelle Gardner explains more of what literary agents are looking for in a query letter. In a good, best selling fiction novel, you should be able to see how well the author has set this up. There is usually an exciting, romantic, or heart-pounding beginning that “hooks” you as the reader, the ensuing “conflict” between the characters or with one character and their situation, and then how the conflict is resolved, the “resolution”. Another benefit of reading the work of other authors is that it gives you insight into sentence structure, setting up dialogue, punctuation and so forth. I got started early as far as reading, since my dad has always been an avid reader. Being one who especially loves Westerns, he has read every book Louis L’Amour ever wrote. As early as first grade, I found myself reading them from time to time. I especially love the way he writes so as to make you feel you are actually there. I also got my son started on reading at an early age. He is a dedicated fan of the Lord of the Rings Series, ever since my dad gave him his old copy of “The Lord of the Rings”. I have learned a lot just from reading those best sellers by my favorite authors, taking a little something from each of them, combining it all over time as I develop my own style. Best of all, you can set your own “class” hours!

3. Meet Other Authors! Inspiration is the Best Medicine for Encouragement…

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Me, (L) and my daughter and grandson at Nicholas Sparks’ book signing for “The Last Song” at Barnes & Noble in Cary, NC. Yes, that’s been a few years, that cute little baby’s 8 years old now!

Another of my greatest teachers and one who has been a big inspiration to me is Nicholas Sparks. I have learned a lot from reading several of his books and have seen most of the movies. The turning point in my deciding to pursue a career in writing came the day I met him at one of his book signings at a Barnes & Noble in our area. It was for his book, “The Last Song”, although at the time, I had just finished reading “A Bend in the Road”. I found it to be a very inspiring experience and walked out of that B&N store that day thinking to myself, if he can do it, I can! I haven’t stopped since. I may not have gotten there yet, but then, the turtle won the race with the rabbit, simply because he refused to give up (or waste time and procrastinate, ha ha)! As a matter of fact, Nicholas Sparks also has a page on his website dedicated to those who want to be writers. One of the tips he gives? Just as I said above, read!

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Me with Mary at her book signing for “Lessons…” at the Barnes & Noble in Lynchburg, VA

I have also had the great honor of meeting actress, author, producer, and life coach, Mary McDonough, whom most of us older folks may remember as “Erin” from “The Waltons”, which ran for 9 seasons (and in my opinion, is only one of the best family shows of all time, hands down). In addition to her book, “Lessons From the Mountain, What I Learned From Erin Walton (read my review here), she also has two fiction books now available. Click here to visit her website and check them out! I can honestly say, both of these experiences were greatly inspirational and exciting experiences for me. After all, they have been some of my greatest teachers. So who’s the next best selling author coming to a book store near you? Go! Meet them! For anyone who wants to be a writer, there is nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of getting to meet a best selling author! A learning experience in and of itself!

4. Watch a Good Movie

Hey, you never know when you’re going to get another idea for a great story. That’s what happened when I got the inspiration for my 2nd book, “A River of Secrets, Summer of the Rose”, which is the first book in the “River of Love’s Rose” Time Travel Trilogy. It is a Historical  Fantasy with a Southern flair, as well as just the right touch of romance and some Time Travel. I got the idea after a walk one day, and part of my inspiration for it was a movie called “Tuck Everlasting”, which my son introduced me to. It was adapted from a children’s book by Natalie Babbit. I actually did an “interview” with my main character, “Anna”, who is actually telling the story. Here is my previous post featuring the “interview” with “Anna”, along with the movie trailer for the movie that inspired my book. As for the series, of which I have begun work on the 2nd book, the story and characters are all my own, and, as it is also a bit of a coming of age story, it is one that I feel will be enjoyed by young and old alike. As for Anna and her sisters, there is a little of my late maternal grandmother and her sisters in it as well. If you have a “writer’s imagination” like I do, you have probably found it’s not hard to get ideas. Just make sure that if you do, your ideas and story are all your own! Of course, it helps if you happen to be writing in the more popular genres, but for me, it has to come from the heart and be something I enjoy writing about. Then too, it has to be something that will sell. So there are already a gazillion werewolf stories or Time Travel Romances. What is it that will make yours unique, and better than the rest? Again, as I have learned from my first experiences, I like to think each successive book I publish will be an improvement from my previous ones. That is how we develop into experienced and seasoned writers. Next stop, best selling author! (Hopefully, lol)

5. Join a Writer’s Group – Writer’s Groups and Best Selling Author Fan Pages as Learning Tools

With the convenience of social media these days (and hey, for us old dinosaurs, we are still learning how all of that works, but then again, we all did all of our stupid stuff before the internet, hee hee), more and more authors, especially best selling ones, can be found on Facebook,  Twitter, and other places. Joining a writer’s group or “Liking” or Subscribing to a best selling author’s fan page can be especially helpful. As you watch what works for them as far as their posts and how they advertise, you will gain insight as to how this whole thing works and that in itself can be a big confidence builder.  I am in a writer’s group on Facebook started by Beverly Nault, who worked with Mary McDonough on her book, “Lessons…”, called Fresh Starts Writing Room – Advice for Emerging Writers. As a seasoned traditional as well as self published author, Bev shares a lot of helpful advice and interesting posts/articles, plus we all just kind of help each other. Writers helping Writers, right? Oh, and Mary McDonough is also on Facebook, as well as Debbie Macomber and others. So go find them, watch, and learn!

6. Learn from the Pros – Informative Websites, Webinars, Blogs, & Training Programs

Many authors who have been successful are now doing a lot of webinars, podcasts, and training programs to help other writers by providing active hands on demonstrations of what has worked for them. Here are a few who have helped me:

  1. Another Author who has a wonderful blog filled with articles and helpful resources for writers is Joanna Penn, whose blog, The Creative Penn, has been a big help to me.
  2. Shelley Hitz also has a lot of helpful resources, podcasts, webinars, and training resources.
  3. Derek Murphy, who has a PhD in Literature, has tons of helpful resources, including this page, with info on designing your own book covers, and book cover design templates.
  4. Joel Friedlander offers a training course on successful self publishing as well as professionally designed templates for you to use, among other valuable resources.
  5. Jane Friedman also has a lot of helpful resources for writers and self publishers. You can check out her blog here.
  6. Kary Oberbrunner is an author, coach, and speaker who offers some very helpful resources. I have listened to one of his webinars.

Those are just a few suggestions as to resources that have helped me in one way or another. As I said before, if you know of other resources I haven’t listed here, please share!

7. Take a Class

Hey, when it comes to writing, no amount of education is too much. With the increasing ease of self publishing now, more people than ever are turning to self publishing to tell their stories. But you do want your readers to know you made it past the eighth grade, right? So, if it’s been a while, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to enroll in a class or two, whether it’s a writing class or just to brush up on punctuation, grammar, sentence structure, subject-verb agreement, etc. Although as for the writing itself, my “teachers” have mostly been other authors, like Mr. Sparks, Louis L’Amour, Debbie Macomber, and others, I actually lucked out as for the rest, as I have an Associate’s Degree in Office Systems Technology, which involved a lot of Text Editing and Formatting, Keyboarding (okay, the “dinosaur” term is, “typing”), and the like. However, I have also found that you can find all kinds of instructional pages online written by literary agents and other professionals on subject-verb agreement, commonly misused words that sound alike, setting up dialogue with your characters, etc. So educate yourself. Yes, it is incredibly easy to self publish, if that’s the route you want to take. But if you want it to ever have a chance of achieving best seller status, it needs to look like an adult wrote it. Still, we are all human, and if possible, that future best seller will need a professional editing job. But for those just starting out, who haven’t quite raked in enough money from all those awesome sales to afford that option, we need to at least educate ourselves. I still find myself searching the internet at times for one of those “five minute” brush up sessions on something. It’s an ongoing process as we work to hone our skills and become best selling authors. But then, when you finally get a literary agent to represent you, if they are legitimate and do things the way they are supposed to, unlike those vanity publishers, then you won’t have to worry about it. Until then…educate yourself. And keep writing.

8. So Stop Procrastinating, Sit Down, and Write that Best Seller! 

So, what’s your story? Are you tired of walking around with that best seller trapped inside of you, yet? If you’re anything like me, well, life just kind of gets in the way sometimes. As for me, I suffer from PTSD from a horrible car accident, as I mentioned above, and my journey to healing and telling my story hasn’t been an easy one. It’s an ongoing process. But, like that turtle, I am not stopping. We will fall sometimes. But then, we get up and keep trying, and keep helping each other until we get to where we’re going. So, sit down and just start writing. In addition to MS Word, there are also programs more suited to writers that you can check out, like Adobe InDesign and Scrivener, among others. Whatever you use, just sit down and start writing. As for that procrastinating thing, I have found that working to put myself on a schedule, like I do my grandsons when I keep them, has helped me. Work to eliminate the time wasters or other projects that can wait until later, assign yourself a schedule, and stick to it! Reward yourself for doing well! One of the main reasons I think I have tended to procrastinate stems from a lack of confidence, which I suffered for a long time, due to issues surrounding my PTSD. But thankfully, with my faith in God that has brought me through the hard times, and the love and encouragement of my sweet husband, who is also my biggest fan, I’m getting there. So, if you tend to have problems with procrastinating, talk it over with God, your spouse, or a family member who can help you get to the root of the problem. Then, instead of letting the problem continue to be a road block, He will take those “lemons” life has handed you and turn them into the best “lemonade” you have ever tasted. That is when you can finally stop procrastinating, sit down, and start writing that story. Whether it’s your life’s story or the next best selling fiction novel, it isn’t going to write itself!

As for that story of the Rabbit and the Tortoise, in the end, it wasn’t about who ran the fastest. It was who kept on going, despite his limitations, and won the race. As for us writers, it’s not about who writes the fastest, or the most books. It’s just writers helping writers. It’s you, finally sitting down to write that story that no one is ever going to read unless you write it! And, it’s getting up again when you fall and pressing on, with the help and encouragement of those who believe in you, and believing in those who will be touched by your story, even though you haven’t met them…yet.

So, what’s your story?

Click here to read the 2nd post on this: Book Writing for Procrastinators, Part 2: Overcoming Distractions & Mind Blocks