In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Thursday, June 30, 2011

In My Words: Where are You Along the Writing Road?

I often refer to the writing life as a journey along the writing road. I mention the bumps and the roadblocks, the bends and the unexpected detours. I've even asked other writers what road signs would they post along the writing road. (That's another blog post. If you have a suggestion, email me at

When I first set out along the writing road, I knew where  I was headed. My destination? Establishing myself as a nonfiction writer. My market: magazines. And, with the tried and true method of submissions + rejections + acceptances = real writer status, I "arrived."

Then the road took one of those unexpected turns and I wrote a book. Before that, I had no intention of writing a book--ever. But there was a felt-need for a book on late-in-life motherhood. And I knew that topic, up-close and personal, thanks to an unexpected pregnancy at 41. So I wrote Baby Changes Everything.

And then there was another surprise waiting for me around the bend: I landed a two-book contract for my novels. Me, an avowed I-don't-write-fiction writer.The writing road had taken me somewhere I'd never imagined--and I was thrilled. Flabbergasted, but thrilled.

Enough about me. Let's talk about you.

In Your Words: Imagine with me that your writing life is a journey along  a road.  Are you where you want to be? Have you encountered some bumps along the way? Any detours? Discovered something surprising around the bend? If we were looking at a map together and I asked, "So, where are you headed?" what would you tell me? What's your ultimate destination, i.e. dream or goal, as a writer?

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

In Others' Words: Honesty

"No legacy is so rich as honesty." ~ William Shakespeare

Legacy. Inheritance. Something passed down from generation to generation. A legacy is created day by day--but how often do we think about our legacy as we  grocery shop, do the laundry, work at our jobs,discipline our children?

An inheritance can be something concrete like your great-grandmother's china or your mother's pearl necklace or maybe a wedding gown that's been stored in a trunk for decades.

But what about the intangible legacy we are leaving behind? Faith. Honesty. Forgiveness. Love. Compassion. How often do we purposely weave a legacy of character?

In Your Words: What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?  

Photo by tutu55/

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

In My Words: Pitch Sheet -- An Essential Tool for Every Writer

Pitch Sheet designed by Martin Graphics

Writers like to talk about book proposals. Well, "like" might not be the correct word. Let's just say writers talk about book proposals a lot. They discuss the key elements of a proposal, the best way to craft their proposal, and when a proposal is ready to be sent off to a publisher or editor.

I've found one thing that writers--especially beginning writers--often overlook: a pitch sheet (also called a one-sheet.)

I'm an advocate for pitch sheets. Why? I pitched my first book, Baby Changes Everything, with nothing more than a bare bones, black and white pitch sheet and my elevator speech. Those two things -- my pitch sheet and my passion for my book-- landed a request for a book proposal and, ultimately, a book contract.

Let's consider the "why" of a pitch sheet and then we'll look at the "how."

When you pitch your book idea to an editor at a writers conference, remember you are not the only writer in the room. Most editors will not ask for your proposal. I've seen it happen--but rarely. Editors don't bring an extra suitcase to lug home a mass of manuscripts. And they certainly don't want to pay the extra baggage fee.

A pitch sheet or one-sheet is just that: one sheet of paper. Most editors have no problem accepting one sheet of paper that contains the basic details of your book idea.

Another advantage of a pitch sheet? It helps you connect with an editor. Do you really want to lose face-to-face time while an editor skims over the first chapter of your manuscript? Correct answer: No. It takes only a few minutes for an editor to glance at your pitch sheet. The rest of your appointment is spent talking with the editor about your novel. You're making eye contact, using your enthusiasm to sell your novel.

So, what belongs on a pitch sheet? Since it's only one piece of paper--and one side of that paper--you stick to the basics:

  1. An author bio (Include a photo.)
  2. A brief synopsis of your novel (Don't forget to hook the editor!)
  3. Information about your agent (And you really need to be agented nowadays.) 
  4. Contact info (Address, phone number, email, website)
Consider adding graphics to your pitch sheet, especially if they reflect the plot of your novel. My debut novel, Wish You Were Here (Howard Books, May 2012), has a postcard theme. That's why my pitch sheet has postcards on it. 

In Your Words: Have you ever used a pitch sheet during an appointment with an editor? How did that go for you? What do you include in your pitch sheet?

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Monday, June 27, 2011

In Others' Words: Everything or Something?

"Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something." ~Author Unknown

Sometimes I get so overwhelmed with everything I have to do, I end up accomplishing nothing. I find myself starting a project and then I think of something else that needs to be done . . . and something else . . . and oh, yeah, that other thing . . .  and I run around in circles, surrounded by half-completed projects.

Maybe I need to stop trying to do everything and figure out the something I'm supposed to do. Like someone once said, maybe I should realize I'm not in charge of everyone and everything and resign as general manager of the universe.

It's okay to say no. It's okay to say I can't. It's even okay to say I won't--so long as you say it nicely. If you realize what you can do--and don't try to do more than that--you'll have more success and less frustration. 

Sounds like a worthwhile goal to me.

In Your Words: Are you doing everything or something? If you're caught up in an "everything" mindset, what can you say no to so that you can give the needed time and attention to the something you're overlooking?

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Friday, June 24, 2011

In Others' Words: Interruptions

"The great thing is, if one can, to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions in one's "own" or "real" life. The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one's life." ~ C. S. Lewis, author

Interruptions. Don't you just hate them? 

After all, there are only so many hours in a day. You're trying to get all the important things done and--without even an "Excuse me"--something or someone disrupts your oh-so-carefully planned out schedule.

Then the quote by C.S. Lewis turns my thoughts about interruptions upside down and inside out. Interruptions are good things? Interruptions aren't inconveniences that mess up my schedule? Interruptions are what my life is all about?

Lewis' definition certainly alters my perspective. Instead of reacting to a disruption of my To Do list with frustration, I can welcome it knowing this is what I'm supposed to be doing. Instead of only half-heartedly listening to a friend who called in the midst of my so-called important task, I can give her focused attention.

In Your Words: What about you? Do you go with the flow when it comes to interruptions? Or do they mess up your plans and raise your blood pressure? Want to try an experiment with me? Just for today, let's welcome interruptions.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

In My Words: Editing the Editor

I just finished working through the fine line edits and other changes to my novel for what my editor called "clarity and consistency." Since I'm used to being the one wielding the red pen--hence my nickname The Evil Editor (TEE)--it was odd to be on the receiving end of edits. The experience wasn't bad--it was just different.

My editor started off by encouraging me and telling me what she liked about my manuscript. How could I not be willing to at least consider her suggestions for improving my story? And, truth be told, she had some great insights that strengthened my book.

How did I approach making the changes? I broke the job down into phases:

  1. Read through the entire manuscript: I wanted an overview of the suggested changes so that I could mull over potential rewrites while I worked on other things.
  2. Deal with the line edits first: Why not start with the simple changes first? It was easy to correct things like a missing period or removing an unnecessary comma or italicizing a sentence. After making the corrections, I read through the manuscript again to make certain I hadn't overlooked anything. (I had.)
  3. Concentrate on improving clarity and consistency: This phase took more time and mental energy because it involved rewriting small segments of the book or writing some new scenes. I'm not talking pages and pages of rewrites, but I wanted to make certain that what I wrote fit into the book without a hiccup.
  4. Check formatting: This felt like I was going behind the scenes of my manuscript. I hit the little paragraph symbol on my toolbar and voila! I could see all the extra spaces and unneeded tabs. With my husband's help, I spent two, maybe three hours cleaning up my formatting. 
So what's next? It's time to push the Send button and return my manuscript to my editor. Then it's fun and games with a photographer while I update my professional photo. (Oh, yes, there will be a blog post about this!) And I know I'll be seeing my manuscript again--with more edits. 

In Your Words: Have you had the chance to work with an editor? How did you approach working through any suggestions or needed changes? 

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In Others' Words: Risk

"You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen." ~Paulo Coehlo, Brazilian novelist

Can I really stop the unexpected from happening? 

Yes. If I cling so tightly to my plans, to the mindset of "this is how today must go" then, yes, I can overlook the unexpected. Ignore it. Miss it completely. And, in a very real sense, stop it from happening. At least as far as I know, the unexpected never occurred because I didn't acknowledge it.

What a shame. 

Yesterday went nothing like I'd planned. My daughter Katie Beth, aka The bride to be, fell and hurt her ankle. Badly. I am thankful that she didn't break it, but we spent a good part of the day determining that. 

I couldn't stop yesterday from spinning out of control. Looking back, I realize that life was fuller because of the mishap. Friends and family surrounded us with prayer and encouraging words and positive comments on Facebook. 

Would I prefer that Katie Beth not be injured? Of course! But in those unexpected moments there was good to be found. But to see the good, I needed to let go of the expected and embrace the unexpected.

In Your Words: Are you a risk-taker? How do you react when your plans for the day get upended by the unexpected? Have you discovered good in the unexpected?

photo by jscreationzs/

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

In My Words: It's Not All About Books

The story I'm about to tell you is true. I didn't change anyone's name because I can't remember the name of the guy who ... well, basically he insulted me.

A few years ago I attended a writers conference. If you've ever attended a writers conference, you know the most frequent question attendees ask each other is, "What do you write?"

I was chatting with a man I'd met during the conference, and, yes, I asked him the typical "What do you write?" question. Then it was his turn to ask me.

Man whose name I can't remember: "What do you write?"
Me: "I write nonfiction--mainly magazine articles or newspaper articles."
Man whose name I can't remember: "Oh, so you're not a real writer then."
Me: Stunned silence.

I don't remember how I answered him. I do, however, remember the thoughts that ran through my mind:

Excuse me? I'm not a real writer? I write query letters. I  get assignments. I meet deadlines. I deal with rejections. I get paid. I get bylines. Feels like real writing to me.

Even in my state of shock, I understood why the guy said this. He believed--erroneously--that the only real writer was someone who wrote books.

I've seen this mindset play out over and over again, although I'm happy to report that no one else has ever attacked my credibility as a writer. I'll be talking with a new writer, and then I toss out the "What do you write?" question. The answer all-too-often is "I'm writing a book."

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for writing books. I've written one and have a contract for two more. But there's a  misguided belief that books are the end-all-be-all for writers. Often I find myself trying to slow writers down, reminding them that writing a book doesn't have to be the first thing they accomplish as a writer. So if not a book, then what?

A new writer needs to build her reputation so that when she sits down and pitches her book idea to an editor or agent she can impress them with her writing experience. This is where writing for magazines--online or traditional--is invaluable. When you show a publisher or agent examples of your work, you're also telling them that you know how to work with an editor, that you know how to meet deadlines, and that you write well enough to earn an assignment or byline (or both).

It's not a matter of abandoning all thoughts of writing that book of your dreams. It's about building your career, wise step by wise step, positioning yourself to land an agent or a contract--or both.

In Your Words: What do you write? Do you believe the only real writers are those that write books? Have you ever run into this mindset? If so, how did you handle it? 

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Monday, June 20, 2011

In Others' Words: Friendship

My friend, Barbara, my newly-married friend, Roxanne, and me.

A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are." ~Source Unknown

I almost used a generic "friends" photo for this blog post. And then I thought of all the a-ma-zing friends God has blessed me with and I decided to go with real-life friends, not some strangers in a stock photo. Then my dilemma was deciding what photo to choose ... which friends to feature?

I just came back from my friend, Roxanne's, wedding. Roxanne and I have known each other for at least 20 years. (We met in kindergarten. Yeah, right.) Another forever-friend, Barbara, came to the celebration too.

Friends like Barbara and Roxanne have made such a difference in my life. They've encouraged me through tough times, rejoiced with me, prayed for me when I couldn't, listened, said what needed to be said ... Their complete acceptance of me enables me to be real. No masks. No pretenses. Their friendships are truly gifts that I treasure.

In Your Words: When you stop and think about friends, how have they made a difference in your life? What qualities do you value the most in a friend?

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Friday, June 17, 2011

In Others' Words: Stuff

"All that stuff—it’s not yours. And you know something else about all that stuff? It’s not you." ~Max Lucado

“Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.”
(Luke 12:15 The msg)

Have I ever defined myself by the stuff I own? Probably. (And I'm not proud when I admit that.)

It's that whole "Keeping up with the Joneses" dilemma. Surely the stuff we own proves something about us, right? At least, we think it does. Or else we wouldn't care what the Joneses had. We wouldn't care so much about what we had--or didn't have. 

Stuff. I have too much of it. And that's a problem. But letting my stuff--clothes or shoes or books or the kind of car I drive--define me, that's narrowing the definition of who I am down to inanimate objects that break or rust or go out of style or depreciate the minute you drive them off the lot. 

In Your Words: Have you got a handle on your stuff--or does it have an unhealthy hold on you? Treasuring a family heirloom is one thing, but purchasing something because it supposedly gives you a boost in status . . . that's something else all together. 

photo by nuttakit/

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

In My Words: You Know You're a Writer if . . .

You know you're a writer if a mandatory appointment with a magnetic resonance imagine (MRI) machine becomes an opportunity to play the writer's "what if?" game.

After my first bout with vertigo back in January, I determined that the hero in my current work-in-progress (WIP) would also experience vertigo. Why waste my experience? I know how vertigo feels (akin to Dorothy's house-tumbling trip to the Land of Oz). I've even talked about a possible spiritual truth my hero can glean from his time off-kilter, thanks to a conversation with author Susan May Warren.

Vertigo decided to pay me another visit--uninvited, I assure you. This time, the dizziness has lasted three weeks and counting. An Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doc recommended an MRI to rule out certain reasons for vertigo, such as a tumor.

As the technician talked me through the procedure--Was I wearing anything metal?(No.) Did I want to listen to music? (Yes.)--I wondered if I could insert this experience into my WIP.

What if Seth had vertigo so badly he needed an MRI? Would he be claustrophobic and need to be sedated? (I didn't, but there were a few seconds there when the idea of sedation appealed to me.) Would he want someone to come along with him--or would he tough it out alone? What if he tried to tough it out and then found he couldn't, and needed to call someone to drive him home. Who would he call?

I tried to pay attention to the sounds--and there are some loud sounds during an MRI, believe me. At times it sounded like someone was standing outside the machine and banging on it with a sledge hammer. And then one time the noise sounded oddly like church bells. I dubbed that scan the "Quasimodo" MRI, in honor of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. 

Enough about my MRI. That's not what this post is about.

It amazed me how being a writer didn't stop just because someone told me to remove my jewelry and shoes and get comfortable on an oversized piece of medical equipment. You can play the "what if?" game anytime, anywhere. Why waste your life experiences? Plug 'em into whatever story you're working on. Of course, I realize if you're working on a novel set in the 1800s, an MRI isn't going to fit in your plot.

In Your Words: Have you ever played "what if?" with a real life experience and used it in your WIP? I'd love to hear about it!

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

In Others' Words: Who?

I like this quote. It makes me pause. It makes me think. Am I striving to be something: a most-excellent writer and editor, perhaps? Or am I trying to be someone? The woman God intended me to be, using the gifts and talents that were entrusted to me.
Is my focus on the labels attached to me because of what I do? Labels like: writer, author, speaker, editor (The Evil Editor, to be exact), wife, mom, daughter, sister. . .
The list goes on and on. Truth is, that list can change too.
But do I want to be the sum total of those labels? Or do I want to be known as someone, not a something? Can people see past the labels and get to know me as a person? Yes--but only if I allow it to happen. 

In Your Words: Are you focusing all your efforts on being something--or someone? How's that working for you? Satisfied? Or is time to make a change and allow yourself to be ... just be you?

Photo by Bessarro/stockxchng/com

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

In My Words: When Real Life Trumps Your Writing Life

Last week was anything but a writing week for me.

Oh, sure, I had plenty of writing and editing that needed my time and attention. I just had no time to give to writing last week. And I certainly had no real focused attention either.

Last week was all about my 10-year-old's once-a-year dance recital. It's quite the production, I assure you. Hundreds of dancers of all ages descend upon the Pikes Peak Center in Colorado Springs to prepare for the Friday night extravaganza.

No, I was not a dancer. I was a room mom. Think security. Or border patrol. Or prison warden. Only with a smile. And a duffel bag full of snacks. And water. And a portable DVD player.

Instead of worrying about all the writing I wasn't getting done, I reminded myself of this truth: Sometimes real life trumps writing life.

I confess that there are times I resist this truth. I want to shove my real life into a closet and slam the door. I find myself thinking, "If only these people (my family) would leave me alone I could get so much accomplished!"

Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. That is no way to think about my family.

I've been a writer long enough to know that there are going to be seasons when my life--family, friends--shoves writing and editing to the bottom of my To Do list. But there are times when deadlines loom that I can't completely ignore writing while I spend time with people living in the real world. I've learned a few tricks along the way to manage the competing time demands:

  1. Remember: Mulling over a scene or article idea is a legitimate stage of writing. My friend, Roxanne, had a great blog post on this topic. One of the things she wrote that stuck with me was this: Thinking is a huge part of the writing process.
  2. Find some time--even the smallest amount of time--to write. I like to write when I have a decent block of time set aside--at least two hours. I knew that wasn't going to happen last week. So, instead of focusing on major projects, like the line edits for my novel or working on my second novel, I worked on my blog posts. Short pieces like that were easier to write while I was surrounded by tapping, twirling and leaping dancers who were tapping and twirling.
  3. Don't fight reality. I've learned this the hard way: Reality wins every time. I had to concede that last week was not a writing week. It was time to be there for my daughter--and the other girls in her dance class. I'd volunteered to be a room mom, so I chose to be a happy, non-complaining room mom.
  4. Make up for lost time. Real life won't always trump writing life. If you're behind on rewrites or edits thanks to family obligations, then once you're done, get back at it. And stay focused. Turn off your phone. Turn off Twitter. And Facebook. Practice saying, "No, I can't ___________ (fill in the blank) this week because I'm busy with my writing." Some people will understand--thank them. Some people won't understand. Don't waste valuable time trying to explain it all to them. This is your time to write!

In Your Words: Has your real life trumped your writing life? How do you handle it so you can still accomplish your goals?

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Monday, June 13, 2011

In Others' Words: Childhood

"All grown-ups were once children. (But few of them remember it.)" ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Ah, childhood.
I think back to summer nights, staying out late with my siblings and the other neighborhood kids. Playing hide-n-go-seek under the glow of the street lights until our moms called us inside. Watching with fascination the on-off-on-off glow of lightning bugs that we'd captured in a glass jar. The toasted sugary goodness of marshmallows cooked over the still-hot coals in the BBQ grill in the backyard.

In Your Words: Favorite childhood memories, anyone?
Is there anything you miss from your when-you-were-younger years?

Photo by blue boy/

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Friday, June 10, 2011

In Others' Word: Dance

"Dancing with the feet is one thing, but dancing with the heart is another." ~Author Unknown

So this has been a week of dance rehearsals for my 10-year-old daughter. Tonight is the big night: the long awaited performance! Most of the family will be in the audience, ready to applaud and cheer as if Christa's the only one on stage. I'll be backstage, ready to help with costume changes and re-applying makeup.

Christa's been dancing for four or five years now. (I really need to figure out how long it's been.) This year she's so relaxed on stage. She's having fun--looking more and more like a "real" dancer. It's no longer about "Am I doing the steps right?" and all about "I love doing this!" Dancing has moved from her feet to her heart.

That's a lesson all of us can learn, whether or not we're dancers. Looking for me? You'll never find me up on stage twirling, tapping or leaping. Best place to find me: in my office, writing or editing.As a beginning writer, I focused on following the rules--getting it right. But now it's more about loving what I'm doing--and yes, still getting it right. But my passion is woven through all my efforts: writing, rewriting, editing. Even after the most challenging days, I wake up ready to write.

In Your Words: Where's your focus when you dance or write or do whatever you're passionate about? Are you thinking about the rules? Or are you listening to your heart?

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Thursday, June 09, 2011

In My Words: Networking: It's Not All About You

I am an introvert.

Most people who know me don't believe me when I say that. Why? Because I don't mind leading out in a group, being the first one to say hello, the one to get the conversation started. I am, on occasion, the one standing in front of a group as the speaker of the day--and I enjoy myself while I'm front and center.

But when all is said and done, I'm quite content to exit stage right (or left) and retire to the back of the room.

If there's one thing I've learned since stepping into the writing world, it's that you have to find some way to get comfortable interacting with other people.

You have to learn to network.

Networking. Does the thought of mingling with others make you want to walk into your office and close the door--but only after you've hung a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the handle?

You're not alone in your angst--but you've got to realize that developing relationships with other writers--and yes, editors and publishers--is not optional. Who you know truly does make a difference as you pursue your writing dreams. Someone you meet may be the very person that opens the door to a valuable critique of your work in progress (WIP). Or maybe they connect you with an agent who'll consider you for representation. Or maybe . . . just maybe they'll be that editor who says, "Send me your manuscript. I can't wait to read it!"

Yes, networking will benefit you in ways you never imagined.

But let me ask you a question: As you meet new people and develop friendships, who are you thinking about? You? Or them? Have you ever considered how you could encourage someone else--rather than thinking about what's in it for you when you do the whole "Hello, my name is" routine?

Networking is a two-way relationship--whether it be face to face at a conference or via Twitter and Facebook and blogs. Networking isn't a monologue. It's a dialogue between you and someone else. There should be equal parts talking and listening going on--equal parts give and take.

Networking is a lot more fun when I don't worry about what's in it for me. Instead, I like to stop and pray about who I might meet, who I might encourage. There's less stress when I'm talking with others about themselves and talking less about me. Besides, I know me. I want to find out other people's stories!

In Your Words: Do you enjoy networking? Have any tried and true methods for connecting with others? If I met you at a conference and asked, "How'd you become a writer?" how would you answer? 

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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

In Others' Words: Smile

"Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing." ~Mother Teresa

Doesn't that guy in the photo have a great smile? You just can't help smiling back!
Okay, I confess I'm just a bit biased. That guy is my son Josh--and today's his birthday! So, I'm interrupting my regularly scheduled musings to give a "Happy Birthday" shout out to my son!
Photo or no photo, there's a lot of truth in what Mother Teresa says about smiles. Except for when a photographer has a camera pointed right at you and demands that you say, "Cheese!" no one can force you to smile. Your smile is a gift to another person--a truly beautiful, one of a kind gift. 

In Your Words: Have you shared your smile with anyone lately? Or has someone's smile made a difference in your day? 

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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

In My Words: Bring on the Trouble

Photo by Danilo Rizzuti/

Writers know the fundamental rule about trouble: We're supposed to make trouble for our characters--wreak havoc and keep it coming. Make sure things go from bad to badder to baddest, as author Susan May Warren likes to say.
I can't say I have such an easygoing attitude about trouble when it comes to real life. Throw a little bit of stress in my life? I'll manage. Pile it on? I'll start looking for the exit. I request to please be excused from all this bad-going-to-worse.
And yet . . . are trials only good for imaginary heroes and heroines? Isn't there some truth that can carry over from the fictional world to real life?
Some of you are already nodding your heads. Maybe you're even smirking a bit, thinking I know where she's going with this.
When writers create stress for our imaginary people, we're pushing them up against the wall for a reason. We're developing their personalities--testing their strengths and their weaknesses.
And the same is true in real life.
Case in point: I've been dealing with vertigo for two weeks now. My world is literally off-balance. If I turn my head the wrong way, i.e. any way, the room spins out of control. I was ready for this to be over days ago, but it's clear to me I don't get to decide when this ride on the Tilt-A-Whirl ends.
I can either whine and waste this stressful experience--and there's no denying two weeks of vertigo is stressful--or I can glean something from it.
If I was a heroine in a novel, I would make sure that I was learning something through all this.
Why should real life be exempt?
What have I learned?

  • It's wonderful to have friends who pray for you when you don't have the strength to pray for yourself.
  • God is still God--and he still loves me--even when prayers don't get an instant "Yes!"
  • It's okay to admit I'm weary. I'm just being honest.
  • Sometimes all you can do is hang on to hope and wait. (I think that's called "trust.")  
In Your Words: The next time you're wondering how to create some trouble for your fictional characters, take a look at your life. Or your friends' lives. What truths have you or they embraced during a tough time that can be translated over into your story?

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Monday, June 06, 2011

In Others' Words: Success

"Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it."~Maya Angelou, author

I read this quote and found myself smiling. Why? I like Maya Angelou's take on success. It's not all about striving to achieve some magical mark that declares to the world, "I am successful!"
No. Her definition of success is all about embracing who I am. Liking myself--imperfections included. Liking what I do and how I do it--knowing that I'll make mistakes.
Maya Angelou's perspective grants me breathing space to be real. I don't have to pretend to be someone I'm not (perfect). I don't have to invest my time in doing something that I'm not good at to please someone else. I don't have to strive for an unattainable goal (perfection).

In Your Words: When do you feel successful? Are you living up to someone else's definition of success--or your own? 

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Friday, June 03, 2011

In Others' Words: Doors

"When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us."
 ~ Alexander Graham Bell, inventor

One thing is certain, you can't look forward and backward at the same time. It's physically impossible.
I confess, there have been times when my life was in forward motion and I wasted precious emotional energy looking back at what was, instead of focusing on what lay ahead.
Don't get me wrong--reminiscing is a wonderful thing. I treasure the times when my kiddos sit around the table and share "Remember when" stories.
But when I won't let go of what was to embrace the here and now, I'm trading the possibilities of the future for the can't-go-back-and-change-it past. 

I like the reminder in these verses from Isaiah 43: 18-19:

 Forget the former things; 
   do not dwell on the past. 
 See, I am doing a new thing! 
   Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 
I am making a way in the wilderness 
   and streams in the wasteland. 

In Your Words: Have you ever found yourself looking back over your shoulder at what was? How did you fix your focus on the future--on what could be?

photo by pipp/

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Thursday, June 02, 2011

In My Words: Time Flies When You're Trying to Write

Where did Wednesday go?
And while I'm asking the question, can someone tell me how the rest of the week disappeared?
I won't say I have nothing to show for this week. It's just that what I have accomplished wasn't on my Writing To Do list.
Did I achieve significant forward motion in my work-in-progress? Um, no. Did I achieve any progress? Not enough to feel good about it.
I've dealt with the usual interruptions: phone calls and laundry and visiting with my kiddos and editing other writers' stuff for my "real" job and commenting on others' blogs and tweeting (social marketing, don'tcha know?) and battling vertigo. For the record, I don't want vertigo to become part of the usual interruptions.
I'm not much of a clock watcher, so I'm always surprised to realize it's 9 o'clock in the evening--time to start wrapping up today and to think about tomorrow. If I was a clock watcher, I'm not so sure the clock in my office would help me keep a handle on the hours in my day.

What do you think?
Does that Writer's Clock aptly depict days in your writing life? Is your day a cycle of Write, Write, Toss, Retrieve, Start Over, Writer's Block, Adult Beverage (just give me a large cherry Coke from Sonic), Write, Submit, Revise, Revise, Publish?
Some days it seems like I'm stuck on Write, Write, Toss. I don't even bother to Retrieve what I've thrown away. I've celebrated the clock hands hitting the Publish mark, but I know enough to realize I'll soon be in the writing cycle again.

In Your Words: How do you handle the hours in your day so that you're satisfied with what you've accomplished when you crawl into bed at night? Any tricks for controlling time so that writing--and revising--doesn't get shoved down to the last thing on your To Do list?

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Wednesday, June 01, 2011

In Others' Words: Laughter

"A laugh is a smile that bursts." ~Mary H. Waldrip

Laughter is my favorite sound.
When my entire family is home and the house is full of laughter, I'm content. 
One of my favorite things to do with my kiddos is to play a card game like UNO with them. I don't know what it is about card games, but my daughters are overcome by uncontrollable giggles. 
Another sure-fire way to create laughter in the Vogt family? Watching the reruns of the original Dick Van Dyke  television show. I can still see my then 10-year-old son laughing so hard that tears ran down his face. I just found DVD sets of the TV series at Costco and I'm now savoring laughter with my youngest daughter as she watches the series.

What about you? What causes your smile to burst wide open into laughter? What's the last thing you laughed about?

photo by edtheball/

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