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."


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.


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

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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 8, 2019

A Holy Calling

"You are... God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you--from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted." (1 Peter 2:10 The Message)

Dear friends,

You may've seen my posts about this on Facebook. Several weeks ago, I was able to attend the Northwestern Writers Conference with Angie and learn from one of my all-time favorites, Robin Jones Gunn. I am always enchanted by her speaking/storytelling, but during her keynote, something in particular struck me. She reminded the audience our calling to write is that: a calling. Which means we ought to be treating it like a profession, a ministry, a holy thing.

I've been writing for a very long time. I've come to a place here I truly love writing for the opportunity to create alongside God, and while I really really really want to be published, I catch myself sometimes seeing writing as a personal, spiritual thing. Maybe that's how I've survived the whims of what sells in the industry? I don't know--but I for one have gone inward to cope with rejection. Whether you're unpublished or an award-winning author, this propensity never fully goes away because rejection never fully goes away. Threat never goes away. Writing is a very courageous thing. So long as you're writing, you are risking loss in all the traditional ways, from a manuscript without a home to a poorly-selling book.

And so, I believe that over time, we begin to cozy into a writing comfort zone. Maybe for you that means not writing at all, and dedicating all your time to social media instead. Maybe it means "researching" but never actually putting the story on the page. Maybe it means distractions around your house or other commitments you see as more important.

Friends, if God has called you, your writing is important. It's important enough to carve out a dedicated time for, even if that's two hours before everyone in your family wakes in the morning (I recently read in a tribute to Toni Morrison that's how she wrote her first book as a single mom in her late 30s) or two hours after everyone goes to sleep.

Everyone is asking questions like how to write books that sell in both markets, how much is too much, how CBA can maintain its audience with the closing of Lifeway, you name it. But is it possible we are asking the wrong questions? Is it possible we're taking the long way around because we don't want to do the work climbing up the mountain, and we already know the path we are supposed to take? Maybe the better question is how can I better discipline myself to follow the calling God has already given me?

You and I are the future of the industry. Think about the books that have influenced you in the last decade. You have the opportunity to be that voice for someone else. So stand up and take it seriously! Who cares if you win that contest or if your first five books sell. If God has called you, is that not enough to make it holy?

We often think what if I never have readers? or maybe what if I my books never find an audience beyond a few hundred people? But the thing is--and maybe this should stagger us a little. What if they do? Will you be ready?

Let's be careful we don't forsake our confidence in God and call it "humility." It's never prideful to take your calling seriously, nor is it a virtue to grow wishy-washy in your dedication to pursuing your gifting.

I'd love to hear from you! What practical ways do you (or can you) prioritize your writing despite your busy schedule?


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 also an active member of ACFW. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her website - and while you're there, be sure to sign up for her newsletter!