Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The Post-Conference Slump


Ashley here! I don't know about all of you, but I am still battling the after-conference slump as I try to return to my normal routine after ACFW. I'm still so tired, I miss my friends, and I'm behind on everything! Sound familiar?

Mary recently blogged about the importance of sending those requested manuscripts to their intended agents/editors, to which I say a resounding YES! Make that happen.

But in the meantime, if you too are wrangling to make your day-to-day more writing friendly, let's talk about some tips that may be helpful. And let the record state, I am very much preaching to myself here!


  • Start small. I have this bad habit of feeling like every little thing I do has to be perfect, and often, the desire for perfection prevents me from taking little and necessary steps toward a goal. I feel like it has to be done masterfully, and if I can't do it masterfully, I'll wait until I can. And then... I never get anything done. Sound familiar? Consider Zechariah 4:10 which tells us do not despise small beginnings. Starting small will help you build steady momentum.
  • Rest. I know, I know. Easier said than done. But try to catch any rest you can, be it physical rest, mental rest, or emotional rest. If you're pushing hard to get a proposal done, give yourself a little breathing room before sending it off. Your subconscious may be working harder than you realize. Try to squeeze in a nap this weekend. Visit a coffee shop or a bookstore or spend an extra five minutes snuggling a dog. You have to give back to your heart if you want to create from a healthy place.
  • Dream big. You'll have plenty of time to be emotionally paralyzed by the fear of rejection. Purposely remind yourself of the highs and excitement you felt during the conference, whether they were professional, or God-moments, or moments with friends. Let your heart dwell among those places a little while, and let your hope be fed.
  • When all else fails, watch a Hallmark movie. You only think I'm kidding.


Let's hear from you! What do you have to add to the list?




###



Ashley Clark's debut novel releases next fall with Bethany House. 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 website, Facebook, and PinterestShe is represented by Karen Solem.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Resolve to Send the Requested Proposal




#TipfulTuesday

And yet another writing conference has ended. We scribbled reams of notes, made new friends, and hopefully had invitations to send documents to an agent or editor.

Most of us have had a day to rest.

Let's resolve to work on those requested documents this week. Write. Edit. Polish. AND set a reasonable date to send the information to those who asked for them.

Perhaps you heard an agent or editor say, "I have requested proposals for wonderful stories at conferences. Many are never sent to me."

We find the courage to make the appointment, present our work to the agent or editor, then go home and listen to the one who wants to ruin the gift given by God. Don't listen.

Let's start right away. Make a plan to complete the work to the best of our ability. Then, and this is the big one, pray and press the send button.

I am working on two proposals. I would like to send them to the two individuals who requested the documents within one month, two at the most.

How about you? How can we pray for you? We are cheering for you!

~Mary Vee


#TipfulTuesday #ACFW #Conference #MaryVeeWriter #resolve #WritersAlley #writingcommunity

Mary Vee's newsletters take readers on virtual trips to various places. No umbrella. No packing. No passport. Explore something new in each letter! Sign up today at http://eepurl.com/dITkz5 The next newsletter hits email boxes on November 15.

Sylvia's Secret. A Christmas Story. I have a new book release! 

Fifteen days before Christmas, the staff at Sylvia Duvet's mansion discover she is missing. Her daughter arrives at Detective Carhill's office in a panic, concerned the gossipers and media will create their own story, embarrassing the family name. After all, a wealthy widow only disappears if...she simply can't bear to think of the possibilities.  

Click on the link below to read more.


Link to Mary's books: https://amzn.to/2Fq4Jbm

Christmas is Mary Vee's favorite holiday. She loves to travel to places like New York City and Paris. Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her king.  

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

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Hope for a Writerly Existential Crisis



If you've reached a point in your writing life where you dread sitting down at your laptop, you're not alone. 

If you've found yourself questioning if you're writing the right thing or wasting your time and resources, we've been there. 

If you're wondering if you can even call yourself Writer anymore if Procrastinator, Second-Guesser, and Impostor seem like more appropriate titles, even the New York Times bestsellers have felt that way.

Let's do a little heart work today. In your favorite journal, the comments of this post, or even a clear corner of your mind, let's start with this question:

What does low maintenance, joyful, sustainable writing look like for you? 
What do you need to do to get there?

I wish we had a blog post with the perfect answer for you, the secret formula to clear, productive writing regardless of inspiration, mood, or energy levels. 

If we told you that, you might focus more on the doing than the being.

But we do have some reminders as you work through this question:
  • A little bit of progress in regular intervals really adds up.
  • Writing is like a muscle that needs exercise and gets easier with repetition.
  • If you're called to be a writer, it may look different in different seasons. Sometimes it might even be just for your own eyes, but every. single. word serves a purpose.
  • When trying to redefine your writing life, *WHY* you write is more important than *WHAT* you write.
  • If you wait for the energy burst, the whiff of inspiration, or the right mood to start writing, it may never come. You create the energy, the inspiration, and the mood by writing scared, writing often, and writing anyway. 
---

Laurie Tomlinson is the award-winning contemporary romance author of That’s When I KnewWith No Reservations, and The Long Game, currently featured in the Once Upon a Laugh novella collection. She believes that God’s love is unfailing, anything can be accomplished with a good to-do list, and that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles.

You can connect with her on her WebsiteFacebook, and Instagram.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

7 Conference Countdown Tips-It's Two Weeks Away!




I am an unusual mix. I make lists, organizing my day, yet when a conference approaches, I come down with a terrible case of procrastination. 

This can be a deadly disease...for the story we hope to pitch, the classes we think we might be taking, the individuals we might get appointments with, and the crucial networking we can do.

This alone is a good reason for me to start preparing TODAY for the conference.

1. Let's start with the easy task. What outfit should I wear to the awards ceremony? 
I had this taken care of two months ago. Note the word had. Last night, I tried on my dress and looked in the mirror. Sigh. I rummaged through other dresses back in my closet and chose one. Tried it on. Added accessories and checked the mirror. Yes, I could check this off my list. 

If there will be a character costume night, try this outfit on as well. Put all the pieces in one place.

2. For networking, check your business card stash. If you have bookmarks or any other related items get them out. Blow off the dust. It may be too late to order more. Perhaps a local vendor can make up a few for you. Yes. You should bring business cards.

3. Prepare or review your one sheet. At the first conference I attended, I had no clue what this was. A one sheet is an organized flyer providing information about one, or one of the manuscript/s you will pitch at the conference. Editors and agents will say, "Do you have a one sheet?" in your meetings. Search our blog's topics for past posts addressing one sheets.

4. Practice your pitch ten times every day. Know it as well as your name.

5. As conference time draws near, I will look over the scheduled classes. The houses and agencies represented at the panels. I reread the information provided for the agents, editors, and mentors. The more prepared I am, the less nervous I will be, and the better chance I will have to well represent my manuscript.

6. Gather all flight, shuttle, hotel, and conference reservation information. Have you asked someone to take you to the airport? Will there be someone there to pick you up when you fly home?

7. The conference has an app. The best feature is the updates. You will know classroom changes, additions, cancellations. Download the app ahead of time.

These are a few of my favorite reminders. What did I forget? Take a sec and comment below something to remember for the upcoming conference.

The Alley Cats are excited to see you there. Nearly the entire group is able to attend this year. Look for us. Say hi!



~Mary Vee

Photo by Mary Vee
#TipfulTuesday #ACFW #Conference #MaryVeeWriter #procrastination #WritersAlley 


In Mary Vee's newsletter, readers take a virtual trip to various places. No bug spray. No packing. No passport. Explore something new in each letter! Sign up today at http://eepurl.com/dITkz5 The next newsletter hits email boxes September 15.


Link to Mary's books: https://amzn.to/2Fq4Jbm


Mary Vee -Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, was a teacher, a missionary, and married an Air Force vet. Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.
Visit Mary at her WebsiteBlog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter






Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Next Right Thing + A GIVEAWAY


Laurie here with a book recommendation! If you've been reading my posts for any length of time, you know my love language is goals and dreams. This book, The Next Right Thing, and the podcast that it sprang from, have been so instrumental in my life. (And it's on super Kindle sale!)

To put it figuratively, I tend to sprint toward my goals at full speed until I get to a brick wall. And the author, Emily P. Freeman, is a gentle voice that not only encourages me to slow my pace and find some peace, but shows that in most cases, that brick wall of a dream is totally doable. I might not be able to plow through it, but I can climb it, brick-by-brick -- one "Next Right Thing" at a time.

The story of how and why I went back to school is a long and complicated one, but the right one. Despite the fact that my favorite shows growing up were Rescue 911, Trauma: Life in the ER, and Dr. G: Medical Examiner, I didn't think I had what it took to be in the medical field, but I always felt drawn toward it. After graduating with an English degree, I worked in PR, started a family, and the bricks in that wall started getting taller. The programs I'd looked into would all required 8+ prerequisite classes, losing my income for a little while, upending my family's routine, missing my kids' formative years, derailing my writing career. That was if I even remembered how to balance an equation or study for an exam.

So finding Emily P. Freeman's podcast and then reading her book helped show me that I didn't have to have all the answers and ducks lined up ahead of time. I didn't even have to quit writing and my family wasn't going to suffer if I was working hard for a season. All I had to focus on was the Next Right Thing, the closest brick I could reach on the wall.

It somehow feels like ages have passed and *yesterday* that I enrolled in that first chemistry class almost 2 years ago. I'm now beginning my 8th prerequisite, waiting on my last transcript to clear on my nursing school application. And I've found all of the doubts I had were unfounded because, when the Lord calls you to do something, he gives you the strength and the tools and the favor to do it, even if it doesn't look exactly how you envisioned it.

What's the dream that feels insurmountable in your life? What brick walls have you scaled with the Lord's help? Since it's Laurie and Sherrinda's birthday week, we're giving away Kindle copies of The Next Right Thing to a few lucky commenters! Good luck!


---

Laurie Tomlinson is the award-winning contemporary romance author of That’s When I KnewWith No Reservations, and The Long Game, currently featured in the Once Upon a Laugh novella collection. She believes that God’s love is unfailing, anything can be accomplished with a good to-do list, and that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles.
You can connect with her on her WebsiteFacebook, and Instagram.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Five Peaceful Writing Time Tips



Every morning, no matter when I wake, my family sweetly sleeps. They sleep while I shower. They snore while I run the hair dryer. They snooze when the microwave beeps: the coffee is hot. They peacefully slumber while my computer loudly strums the start-up cord. This is the big difference between the only morning person in a house of night owls.

BUT 

When I walk to my workspace and raise my fingers to key the FIRST word of the day, they suddenly awake, bubbling with great stories that must be heard at that very moment. How do they do that? Shhhh...I am sneaking in this post before they notice.

Let's talk about ways to have some peaceful writing time. Here are some tips I found:

1. Bob Hostetler gave a great tip for this very issue at a recent conference. Ah, the stories of writing at home that he shared. We laughed. Bob said he used a signal that communicated, "I am writing, do not disturb." 

The idea is simple. He wears a special sports coat when writing. The family knows, do not disturb Dad when he wears the sports coat. The advantage to this signal over...say...a closed door, is he can pace about the house maintaining his writerly mode. I like that. 

2. If the household is quiet, but your spirit is not in the mood to write, Pepper Basham plays themed music that matches her story. A great way to kindle the words. Pirates of the Caribbean sound track is great for adventures. Italian dinner jazz is great for romances. You know best what would work for your story. Hop over to Pandora, You Tube, or others and play a tune to set the mood.

3. Angie Dicken and Krista Phillips suggested a trip to a favored coffee shop. Choose a comfy place to sit, perhaps by the fake fireplace, and cue your characters to take the stage. Angie and Krista make an appointment for the trip once or more a week so the family knows mommy is going to work. When the money is tight, the same appointment can be at the library...or even at home when they are at school/events.

4. Ashley Clark says she writes for an hour or two after the family falls asleep.

5. We all have a lot that happens in our day. Somedays we simply hurt. Oddly enough this too is a good time to write. Our passions are stirred and we can better understand what our characters are experiencing. In moments of rejoicing write. Your characters have moods too! As writers, we are putting them through a whole heap of trouble...yet...as we know...they survive in the end.

And so will we. So good friend...go...write...and be peacefully blessed.

~Mary Vee
Photo by Mary Vee
#TipfulTuesday #Peace #Writing #Time #TimeManagement #WritersAlley 

In Mary Vee's newsletter, readers take a virtual trip to various places. No bug spray. No packing. No passport. Explore something new in each letter! Sign up today at http://eepurl.com/dITkz5 The next newsletter hits email boxes September 15.


Link to Mary's books: https://amzn.to/2Fq4Jbm

Mary Vee -Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, was a teacher, a missionary, and married an Air Force vet. Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.
Visit Mary at her WebsiteBlog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter







Tuesday, August 13, 2019

4 Ways to Go Beyond Prepared



Last Saturday I attended my state chapter's ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) meeting. I learned a lot and met new writers. What I want to share with you today is the golden nugget I came home with at the after meeting chat time. 

Caveat-I knew this--thought I had this--but didn't.
A woman picked up my book from the book table, gazed for a brief moment at the cover, turned the book over and began to read the back copy WHEN a second woman--one who had already read the book--shared what she enjoyed about the story. The second woman set her hand on my shoulder and said, "Here is the author, I'll let her tell you."

Gasp!

At that very second, Miss Introvert shoved her way to the forefront of my being, turning me into a mute. Did I have the answers? Only about a thousand. Did I know the story as well as my name? Definitely. Was I ecstatic that a reader became interested in the book and another became a cheerleader for the story? Absolutely. 

Then why did I not seem prepared or enthusiastic over this wonderful story?

Sigh. Because the introvert shoved her way to the forefront of my being. And I let her.

The key here is: that I let her.

We have a calling. Last week, Ashley talked about our Holy Calling. Scroll down to read her enlighting post. 

There are many tasks/people/events/life that squelch our work both around us and in us. There is one who works 24/7 to throw these things in our path, preventing the stories from reaching readers.

Our job: go beyond prepared. There is no MI6 "should we choose to accept it". We must go beyond prepared and fulfill our calling.

How?

Here are four steps to help us put Miss Introvert in her place.

Practice pitches you plan to use at conferences, answers about your books/manuscripts, why you write in your genre, etc. Take them to the point where they become conversational instead of rote memorization. Story form is great when sharing your work with Jane and Joe America. 

I know. We have done this. A thousand times and yet Miss Introvert still pushes her way to the front of our being. SO. Here are some tips:

*Practice them with your family (This is so difficult!  They may tease, but it is done in love. When--not if--you master this skill, you will benefit so very much. They will invite you to practice again with them. Bring popcorn).

*Practice them with your friends (They are more compassionate. Sometimes too much--even when we ask them to give constructive criticism. But it is a great practice.)

*Practice them with your neighbor (This is a challenge. She/he may not know you are an author yet. But they will, right?)

*Practice them with a stranger. (Oddly enough this is obtainable. One day on Instagram someone wrote a post about a family member. The girl had a beautiful, yet uncommon name. The post struck me because the main character's name in one of my stories had the same spelling. In my comment, I mentioned my character. That I chose her name because of its beautiful sound and unique, yet simple spelling. The person replied with great joy and interest, wanting the link to my book to purchase it. I never expected that response. 

I must admit, practicing with a stranger was easier to do on social media than when sitting next to one on an airplane. I'll have a chance to practice that in September when I fly to the ACFW national conference. If you see me there, ask me how well I did. Hold me accountable. :)

How about you? How have you kept Miss Introvert from taking charge?

~Mary Vee
Photo Credit: Canva
#TipfulTuesday #Introverts #Promotions #Promoting #Writing #Marketing #TheWriters Alley @MaryVeeWriter #Pitches #Networking

In my newsletter, readers take a virtual trip to various places. No bug spray. No packing. No passport. Explore something new in each letter! Sign up today at http://eepurl.com/dITkz5


Link to Mary's books: https://amzn.to/2Fq4Jbm

Mary Vee -Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, was a teacher, a missionary, and married an Air Force vet. Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.
Visit Mary at her WebsiteBlog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter