Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What Today's Writer's Are Thankful They've Missed Out On

From the wheel to modern technology, 
inventors have made our life easier.

Way easier!

Enjoy this walk through time from someone who has been there.

Photo Courtesy

Typing use to be a class offered in the junior year of high school (ish). Those heading for a secretary career learned the home row key. jkj jkj fgf fgf. Over and over. 

The first office clerk job arrived in time for the electric typewriter. The noise sounded nano seconds after the key was pressed, startling the typist until she grew use it. 

Photo Courtesy
The promotion arrived as the electric typewriters with memory hit the market. Wow! The secretary's speed increased exponentially. She rattled off a series of text with nothing happening on the paper. Then, like a machine gun, the words fired across the page. This was amusing.

The next promotion came in time to meet the computer. Secretaries had to adapt to not using the "carriage return." Adapting quickly, Word Perfect became a good friend. 

Let's freeze time for a moment. Writers had to submit all of their work on "clean" pages (no errors). Sheets of text were sealed in an envelope along with an SASE (self addressed stamped envelope). Without the SASE, publishers would not respond. Frequently, writers included postcards with text preprinted: ____ I have received (person's name) (manuscript title). The receiving person at the publishing house would hopefully put a checkmark in the blank and slip the pre stamped postcard back in the mail.


The next promotion, office manager, started with the arrival of Windows. A miracle! No longer did secretaries have to completely close out of Word Perfect to open Excel or other needed programs. More than one program could be open at one time! Could life get any better?

Not long after, the computer techs installed email. I leaped on this one, learning every component. My boss asked me to teach classes. It took months to sell the idea to everyone in my building. "You could leave messages for the person even when they're in a meeting. You can have conversations and not have to worry about coming up with an instant response. It gives you time to think!" I tried everything. Sheesh!

Since then we've had Internet, Google, IPads, iPods, Skype, FaceTime, Pinterest, Instagram, and so much more! The list could fill pages. 

Writers can key their manuscript in many formats (my favorite is Scrivener). We edit what auto correct has messed up, and a few of our own mistakes. Attach the manuscript to an email, and voilà the agent or editor has the materials.

BUT this is old news!

Today writers can self publish their books in easy formats. Within days the book can be listed on Amazon. Marketing with social media. The advances are amazing.

Are we spoiled...or what?

I say this now. 

But be prepared to laugh at these minuscule advances ten years down the road. Someone like you will ask..."How did you survive?" ROTFL

God has blessed us by gifting inventors with ideas and the means to see the thought through to product. 

What current writing tool do you appreciate the most and why? 
Climb on board. Let's praise God for His blessings.

I can't wait to read your comment(s)

Photo courtesy for caveman: pixaby 

If you found any typos in today's post...sorry about that. 

Mary writes young adult mystery/suspense Christian fiction, is honing marketing and writing skills, and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids. She has finaled in several writing contests.

Visit Mary at her websiteblog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter

All subscribers to Mary's newsletter will receive a Christmas gift - her new short story 14 Mornings ’Till Christmas, an intriguing Christmas suspense/mystery. Based on real events in Denmark, Brice recognizes he has a memory issue and has to work around this problem while solving the mystery: who broke into his home and stole Christmas. Sign up at Mary's website.  Come enjoy a good story.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What I'm Thankful For {Laurie Edition}

Tonight I was thinking about how thankful 
I am that my shopping cart looks like this. 

One Cubby Bear who joined our wild adventure in March
+ his wild-hair-don't-care sweetheart sister.

As a result, much of my writing year was spent on the proverbial sidelines, wordcount scarce due to increasing workload and stolen bits of sleep. 

But I'm thankful that didn't mean I was missing out. 

I had the chance to celebrate with a community of friends who have gotten big news this year. Writing sisters signing contracts with publishing houses and agents and launching stellar books into the world. Word-Warriors battling through hard life things to write The End. My very first writing partner moving to LA and getting her hands dirty to make her dreams come true in the film industry. 

People have taught me that grit and determination are the stuff of true fairy tales. 

I could write an entire post about what I learned and experienced as a cheerleader. Even though these victories had little to do with me -- if anything at all -- for some reason, they felt like my own. And to have a writing community that lends itself to this kind of thing, I am spectacularly thankful.


Laurie Tomlinson is a wife and mom from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who is passionate about intentional living, all things color-coded, and stories of grace in the beautiful mess. Previously a full-time book publicist, she owns a freelance copywriting, editing, and PR consulting business called 1624 Communications

She's a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a two-time Genesis Award winner, and the runner-up in the 2015 Lone Star Contest's Inspirational category. 
Her work is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary.

You can connect with Laurie here:
Twitter - @LaurieTomlinson

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thankful for Inspiring Authors

Last week and this one, on the Alley, we're taking the time to share our thanksgiving for those who've influenced, shared, or encouraged us in this writing journey.

Today, I'm going to share my gratitude for those authors who have inspired me!

It would take a novel to fit, on one blog post, all the authors who have inspired me and touched my life.  So instead I decided to write a "thank you" post for those who've inspired me the most in very different ways. I was going to limit my list to three… Then I expanded it to five… I think I've finally gotten it to nine? and I'm not going any further, though there are plenty other names I can add .

And that's not even including the AlleyCats. Ashley posted a great blog about the sisterhood of this group and the blessing they are in the last Tuesday's post,(to which I greatly agree).

So today, I'm sharing my thankfulness for Inspiring Authors.

About eight years ago I was introduced to two different authors of two different genres at about the same time. If you guys know my typical ADHD writing pattern you'll understand how special that was!! Within the same month I picked up Mary Connealy's novel, Petticoat Ranch, and Siri Mitchell's book, Kissing Adrien.

For the first time in this crazy journey I realized there were stories out there like mine. Stories with adventure, drama, humor, and… Jesus. Its was the 'aha' moment in my writing journey where I realized..."Oh, there are other people out there like me." (Not too sure how Mary or Siri would feel about being compared to me ;-)

Thankfully neither one of those authors minded being stalked by me, and they even helped guide me into making some connections that I might not have made otherwise. Siri Mitchell met me at my first ACFW conference and took me out for coffee. She prayed God would help guide my writing future and gave me such warm encouragement as a kickstart to the journey. Mary Connealy introduced me to the lovely ladies of Seekerville, where I garnered knowledge and support in my early learning phases of writing.

Seekerville led to a trio of more inspiration in the forms of Ruth Logan Herne, Tina Radcliffe, and Audra Harders. These ladies came alongside me and gave fantastic advice. Mama Ruthy even became something of a mentor for a while, urging me to pull up my big girl panties and take the punches with the praises. And, to this day, I'm known to Tina as the elevator stalker. At least I can provide her with a good story to share ;-)

Then I read Julie Lessman and KNEW I'd found a kindred drama queen and borderline overwriter :-)! Not only did Julie's writing inspire my tremulous attempts to write 'on the edge' but Julie's heart of encouragement continued to help me dream that this writing gig might actually happen one day. (In case you didn't know, I'd been writing novels for 20 years and actually pursuing publication for 11 years before I got 'the call', so encouragement was vital. The writing journey is not for the faint of heart or will)

And, of course, there is Beth Vogt, who has continued to be a sweet, calming sounding board and prayer warrior in my life. Her gentleness has mentored me through many trials on this journey. I can't imagine this path without her consisitent support...(and she gives great hugs)

Janice Thompson came next (notice my continued genre confusion ;-). Her generous nature, humor, and compassion are amazing. After reading one of my manuscripts, she said "This is better than anything I've ever written". Needless to say, I hung that quote up on my computer screen for weeks!! I'll never forget spending an evening with her in Houston and gleaning from her kindness and wisdom! (and she didn't mind my genre confusion, because I think she has it too).

Last, and certainly not least, I'm inspired by Laura Frantz. Her writing, almost poetic in its beauty, makes me study the craft to become better and better. And her heart is just as beautiful as her stories. The fact that she endorsed my debut novel still leaves me in a complete stupor of gratitude and awe!! It was a fantastic culmination of a long journey.

There are so many other inspirational people in my life (Julie Gwinn, my granny, my parents, my cousin, Ashley, my friends Jessica, Teresa, Lindsay, and Marie, my brainstorming team....and the list goes ON) who have all contributed in large or small quantities to inspiring me in this writing journey, but today I devoted my attention to the authors!

And there are many other authors who have touched my life. These 9 ladies, though, made a lasting impression on my writing, and my heart.

So....which authors have inspired you? Either through their writing or their lives?

Friday, November 20, 2015

I'm Thankful for YOU!

It's a time of thanksgiving... and more than just turkey hangovers and elastic waistbands, it's a time to take a moment in the everyday hectic pace of long, slow days and lightning fast years (if you have kids you know what I'm saying here) to think about how blessed we truly are.

Blessed on a grand scale. To be free to live and be and believe. To DREAM this dream we have of words on a page and the magic of creating a world in story.

Blessed on a personal level to have those we hold most dear, our families, friends, mentors, and teachers who enrich our days and our lives as we press on toward the goal.

And blessed down to the core of our hearts where the truth reigns and grace saves the undeserving in all of us.

This year, I'm exceptionally grateful for you, readers who have given me my first glimpse into this dream from the other side. Who have read or are reading my lovingly-crafted words and have gifted me with a beautiful moment in the sun. We've all done it for others. And some glorious day I'll likely be reading your dream on paper, but for today, thank you. For being a part of my dream.

In tradition, each member of my family shares the things they are most thankful for around the table at our Thanksgiving feast. It means so much more now that my kids can see where our hearts are and can witness the depth of gratitude for the things we often take for granted. So as this weekend turns around and the Thanksgiving marathon begins, don't forget to take that moment and reflect on those things you are most thankful for. Maybe even share them. If you need practice, you can start right here.

I'd love to hear... What are you most grateful for this year?

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

Amy Leigh Simpson writes romantic mysteries with honesty and humor, sweetness and spice, and gritty reality covered by grace. When she’s not stealing moments at naptime to squeeze out a few more adventures in storyland, she’s chasing around two tow-headed miscreants (Ahem)—boys, playing dress up with one sweet princess baby, and being the very blessed wife to the coolest, most swoon-worthy man alive. Amy is a Midwestern-girl, a singer, blogger, runner, coffee-addict, and foodie. Her Sports Medicine degree is wasted patching up daily boo boo’s, but whatever is left usually finds its way onto the page with fluttering hearts, blood and guts, and scars that lead to happily ever after.

Check out her debut romantic mystery novel WHEN FALL FADES available now for $3.99!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Partners in the Journey

Ashley here, with another post on three people I am SO thankful for on this writing journey: my critique partner, and my mentors.

When I was first starting to write Christian fiction, I kept hearing how I needed a critique partner... But how in the world was I going to find someone whose style meshed with mine? I spent a while praying God would bring the right person along and give me direction to find her, and then I decided to join ACFW's Scribes. Pretty soon, Angie Dicken and I were choosing all of each other's chapters to critique! We decided to both leave the big group and become partners. I knew God had given me the critique partner I'd prayed for. What I didn't know is that He'd also given me a best friend who would be there for me through the ups and downs in the writing journey, to cheer me on and hold me up, to laugh at my stories when they're funny and to admit when they still need work, and who would soon become one of my dearest friends even apart from writing.

Next, I prayed for a wiring mentor because I knew how much I needed one ! I felt lost in the vastness of the industry. When I took Cara Putman's first time attendee session prior to my first ACFW, I knew I'd found a hero among the industry. Cara has put everything aside to call me whenever I needed advice, she has read countless proposals, answered emergency texts, introduced me to my agent, and has been such a source of wisdom, friendship, and encouragement to me!

And about my other mentor, Allen Arnold. The one I sort of adopted as a mentor whether he wanted to be or not. ;) I've always loved Thomas Nelson books, and have the utmost of respect for their team.  My second ACFW conference, Cara asked me to be in a video, so I gladly agreed, and who walks in the door to also help out but Allen Arnold (who was then the VP of Thomas Nelson.) We started talking  while we waited for our turns to be on video, and before I knew it, he was asking me what I write! That conference, he spoke a lot of validation an encouragement into my writing dream, and I still remember how my head spun with the reality of one of my writing heros believing in me. Soon after, Allen left Thomas Nelson to take a job at Ransomed Heart, and he started doing story crafting, which proved to be an incredible opportunity for me to learn from his expertise. If you're looking for help on a macro level with your story, I'd highly recommend his freelancing! (And by the way, Pepper has started doing this too, and she is AMAZING at it. For real. Boggles my mind.) My relationship with a would-be publisher turned into a friendship with the person I respect most out of all of CBA, and I still can't believe how cool God is to bring us just who we need in our particular journey!

So if you are without a critique partner or mentor, pray and trust God to lea your way in this writing ministry. It might not happen overnight, but He will be faithful to bring the right people at the right time. Today, I'm counting my blessings for these three!


Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Reasons this Writer is Grateful!

Thanksgiving is next week, and that means our thoughts turn to all of the reasons we have to be thankful.

There is so much I have to be thankful for. A wonderful husband. Four amazing kids. A house that more than meets our needs. A fulfilling job and the same for my husband. This year I signed a contract with my dream editor at my dream publisher...a long process, but another reason to be thankful. I've had the opportunity to write two books for another great publisher with a good friend of mine. I've also seen a story of my heart, Shadowed by Grace, final and win some prestigious awards. Oh, and let's not forget that crazy MBA!

It has been an amazing year! Here are a few writerly reasons I'm thankful.

  • I'm thankful for the writing community God has placed me in. Writing can be a lonely job. It's me and my computer. This writer needs people. God has met that need through so many folks, including the Alley Cats!
  • I'm grateful for all the readers who read my books and let me know when they enjoy them. A book is never really a story until others interact with the plot and characters. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my books. It's in your hands that all my hours alone at a computer gain meaning.
  • I'm grateful that I get to live this dream and for each book that finds a home. Signing that contract on Friday was the culmination of ten years... yes, you read that right. I met this editor at my very first ACFW conference, and we clicked. We've been looking for the right project for a long time. I am so excited that this is it. There's a whole story in the journey, but that will wait for another post!
  • I'm so grateful for computers and technology. Yes, it can absolutely drive me batty, but the thought of long-hand writing a manuscript is enough to make me break out in hives. Now, mind you, that can be an excellent way to break writer's block. But on a day to day basis, I want to type as fast as my fingers can keep up with -- my thoughts go so fast!
  • Finally, I'm grateful for each of you reading this post. You know who you are. Thanks for being part of my journey. It's an incredible ride!
What are you grateful for this year?


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

So Much to Be Thankful For

It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and here at the Alley, we're celebrating early! Some of us will be doing thanks-themed posts the next couple weeks, and I hope you'll join with us in being intentional about thankfulness.

I know it may seem like the obvious thing to say, but I get the first thanksgiving-related post, so I'm going to say it anyway! I can't put into words how much I appreciate each of my fellow Alley Cats, each of you reader friends, and in particular, my critique partner Angie Dicken, who was a literal answer to prayer and has become one of my dearest friends.

This writing journey is unlike anything I'd ever expected. When I started writing Christian fiction, I was almost done with my master's degree in creative writing, and yet, I soon realized I had noooooooo idea what I was doing. There have been times of joy and times of deep disappointment. These girls have gone from being fellow bloggers and friends to sisters to me, and I can't imagine my life without them.

I still remember the day Angie first told me they wanted me to be an Alley Cat. I literally jumped and screamed. I thought they were the coolest group of women in the world.

Turns out, I was right.

In the years since I said, "ARE YOU KIDDING! OF COURSE I'll BE AN ALLEY CAT!" I have come to appreciate all this blog means, both in the relationships I've built with these women as well as the relationships I've discovered with all of you. Thank you, truly-- thank you, for letting us be part of your journey.

And thank you, Angie, Pepper, Amy, Julia, Mary, Karen, Krista, Casey, Laurie, and Cara.

I can't imagine this writing journey without you all. I don't know who would've picked me up in all those moments of discouragement, who would've listened to my late-night rambling at ACFW, who would've brainstormed with me, and who would've reminded me of God's purpose in these stories.

But I do know this. I wouldn't be the writer I am today if it weren't for you all.


Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.