Monday, July 30, 2012

My Imagine "Nation"

Once upon a time there was a little boy who lived on a farm surrounded by cows and horses and pigs and chickens. The little boy had no playmates and no one to play with. So, the little boy set out one day on an adventure. He made a bologna sandwich with Miracle Whip and mustard and poured some sweet tea into a thermos. He put them all in a canvas bag and slung the bag over his back.
His first obstacle was Babe, the one horned heifer. Babe was the meanest of the cows and had broken one of her horns in a tussle with another cow. She had incredible hearing and at the first sound of a little boy climbing through the barbed wire fence around the pasture, she would come running on cow’s hooves so swift, the little boy often called her Babe the Flash! Babe wanted an apple or an ear of corn before she would let the little boy pass.
The little boy stood just inside the barbed wire fence as Babe huffed and snorted and pawed the earth, wiggling her one horned head in menace. But, the little boy was clever. He had taken not one, but three apples from his mother’s table. Now, he held one out with trembling hands, pressing down his fear into the deep, dark corners of his stomach. Babe stopped snorting and pawing and moved toward him, her dark eyes glistening and her nostrils flaring and just before she could snatch the apple from the little boy’s hand, he threw it over her deep into the pasture. Babe glanced over her shoulder and then looked back at the little boy with a gleam in her eye. But, the little boy was brave and he drew forth another apple and threw it. And, then another. Now, Babe had a choice to make. Stay and terrorize the little boy or go after THREE apples. She bolted off into the pasture on her swift, swift hooves and the little boy ran deep into the woods along the barbed wire fence.
Here, the sunlight was like dappled yellow pools of warmth through the high arching trees. And, a red cardinal flew from branch to branch as the little boy stood at the beginning of the Path. The Path was ever tantalizing him with its secrets and its temptations. He had seen the Path many times in his life as his father drove down the rutted dirt road that led deep into the pasture to the pond. Always, his heart yearned to know what lay down that Path. What secrets were hidden at the end of that Path? Why was it there? Who had made the Path? But, his father had always warned the little boy about the deep, dark dangers of the woods that surrounded the Path.
Now, the little boy was ten. He had passed through his first decade and was on the cusp of manhood. He had to KNOW! He had to face the dangers of these woods on the PATH! He took one step onto the Path in his dusty, dirty Converse high rise shoes and then another and then another. Deep in the woods, he heard the howling cries of the wild dogs that roamed the woods. The little boy’s brother was a taxidermist and he would take the bones and flesh of the animals he had mounted and dump them somewhere in the depths of the woods. Had he used the Path?
The wild dogs lived in the woods, bounding from one pile of pithy bones and rotting sinew to another. Maybe some of the dogs were more than animals! Maybe they were werewolves like the Wolfman the little boy had seen on the 3:30 Dialing For Dollars Movie just the afternoon before. Or, maybe the dogs were the “children of the night” whose chilling howls and yodels had pleased the ears of Dracula, the movie of the afternoon before last.
All of these thoughts chilled the little boy’s heart. It raced with fear and almost, almost he stepped off the Path. But, the cardinal whistled and landed on a bush not two feet away. It’s bright red chest fluffed with bravery and it regarded the little boy with its tiny eyes. It flew off down the Path. It was brave. Could the little boy be any less brave?
He swallowed his fear and set off down the Path. The afternoon wore on and the Path led deeper and deeper into the woods and suddenly took a turn through a tunnel of tightly woven blackberry brambles. He swallowed and once again sought for bravery. What lived inside that dark tunnel of thorny vines? What would he face on the other side? The little boy drew a deep breath and plunged into the tunnel. Briars and brambles snatched at his shirt and his hair and scratched his skin leaving little trails of blood. But, he did not faint. He did not retreat. He was determined to see what was at the end of the Path.
He emerged from the blackberry bramble covered in leaves and trailing vines and thorns and he stood on the downslope of a great creek filled with rushing, clear water. A huge tree whose trunk was as big as a car had fallen across the creek and led into a vast expanse of towering hardwoods. The ground was covered with a carpet of dead leaves and bright green moss. The fragrance of honeysuckle filled the still air. It was magical! Here was a land he had never imagined could exist. He hopped upon the huge tree and made his way across the creek into the depths of this land. Vines as thick as his wrist hung down from the canopy. It was like some primeval jungle filled with promise, with threats, with hope, with a blank page for the little boy’s imagination. He sat down on that huge tree trunk and pulled out his bologna sandwich and his thermos and smiled.
“I will call you the Jungle.”
And so, it all began!

Where did you first experience the awesome possibility of your own imagination? Was it a place? A person? A book? A movie? What prompted you to sit down and let the story in your mind begin to unfold? Where did it all begin for you?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Five Things I Learned From My Personal Writing Retreat

I posted this on my personal blog several weeks ago. Since then I've talked to several people I know in the writing world and in the work world that are so burnt out and looking for more margin, more time with family. Even Michael Hyatt blogged this week about How I Unplugged and Lived to Tell About It. Loved the picture in his post too. So I wanted to share this again here at Just The Write Charisma and hopefully catch the eye some blog followers who haven't seen this yet.

I also organize the column, The Well Writer, for the Christian Fiction Online Magazine. The month of July Pepper Basham covered the topics of fear and overload. I hope you'll visit this column every month as part of a writer wellness program of your own making. I encourage all of you to evaluate your current situations and decide where something has to give. We can't do everything all the time. Take stock and decide what you need to do to live smarter, healthier, happy lives.

I took my very first personal writing retreat near the end of May to finish the third book in my current series. I wasn't sure what to expect since I'd never been to this retreat center. I've never been to any retreat center to stay more than one day. A trusted friend suggested I try it. I stayed an entire week at Potter's Ranch.

The picture to your left is a road I walked up and down every evening thinking about very little after spending most of the day writing and knowing the evening would be spent writing as well. There were horses everywhere. I could actually stop and listen and hear nothing but crickets, geese, and birds.

My cabin was awesome and had two bedrooms and two baths, a full kitchen, and lovely living room. I brought snacks and breakfast food with me and joined the staff and other guests for lunch and dinner every day at the lodge. There was no television channels but I could watch DVDs. The only thing I brought with me was season one of Downton Abbey. I watched the entire season again but only after I'd met my necessary quota of words for the day. :)

Five things I learned from this experience.
  • FOCUS is a powerful tool. When I write at home it's so easy to be distracted. But when I scheduled my time to run away from home I didn't have to worry about the dishes or dinner, laundry or running to the store. I was able to stay in my story and that helped me get more done faster.
  • ACCOMPLISHMENT fuels me to want to accomplish more. After all, I was by myself. I didn't have anything else to concern myself with.I accomplished more than I thought myself capable of doing.
  • SELF MANAGEMENT is more than managing my time. I took breaks to keep my back from aching and keep my head clear. I used the timer on my cell phone to see how many words I could write in 15 minutes, in 30 minutes, and in an hour. 
  • PEACE is essential. I knew that, but I rarely experience it. To walk and not see anyone, to spend time with God and just let all my worries pour out. Great therapy by the way. To read my Bible looking out over fields and trees, was like living on another planet for me.
  • CONTENTMENT blooms from within when I allow it to happen. Life can be crazy, can't it? The days fly by me so fast and until I took this opportunity to go away, even though I had the specific purpose of finishing a book, I received so much more.
 I hope you will treat yourself well and think of doing something similar for yourself down the road. We can't always run away from home, but with some good planning you can find a way. Maybe you can't get away for a week but even a couple of days will bless you.

Now that I've had my retreat I'm looking for ways to keep retreat alive in my daily life. What about you? Have you enjoyed a personal retreat of some kind? What did you learn?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It's the Small Things

Funny how seemingly small things can make such a big difference in the end.

I had spent several years writing a novel and had contacted dozens upon dozens of agents regarding representation. To no avail. Rejection slips piled up in quantities sufficient to wallpaper our living room. I decided to shelve the manuscript and chalk it up to the fact that it just wasn’t meant to be.

Shortly after this decision, my wife and I visited our son and his family, who live in in Salt Lake City, Utah. He mentioned that he had recorded a Glen Beck interview with Richard Paul Evans. My son knew I had read all of Mr. Evans’s books and would be interested in the interview.

I was.

During the interview, I was impressed by Mr. Evans’s account of the adversities he had faced in his own life and how he was working through them. No one is free from challenges, he explained. As the interview continued, a determination came over me not to give up. Not to shelve the manuscript and chalk it up to a “learning experience.” I decided right then and there to rework the manuscript once more and try again.

When I returned to our home in Alberta, Canada, I did just that. I spent six months rewriting the manuscript and trying to instill in my characters the courage and determination that inspired me that day as I watched the interview.

After completing the manuscript, I sent out another batch of letters of inquiry to agents. Within two hours, an agent contacted me to say she loved the story and wanted to sign me to a contract.
It would be nice at this point to say, “And the writer lived happily ever after.”

Turns out there was still a long way to go, however. My agent did ultimately find a publisher, but I had to do more work on the manuscript, especially once I began fine-tuning it with a skilled editor. But I was able to sustain the momentum—started when I watched the Richard Paul Evans interview—and see the project through to completion. After a journey of years, The Anniversary Waltz was finally published in May of 2012 and is receiving encouraging reviews. My second novel is scheduled to come out in the spring of 2013, and I am negotiating another two-novel contract at this time.

And to think it almost didn’t come about.

Thank you, Richard Paul Evans. If not for your interview, my manuscripts would be sitting on the shelf, collecting dust—a shelf labeled “What Might Have Been.”

Monday, July 23, 2012

Why Do I Bother?

“Don’t do it.”

Sometimes, that’s the best advice I can give someone who has stars in their eyes asking about becoming a writer.

“Don’t do it.”

It’s easy to believe in the dream. I was there only a couple years ago. You think, “Oh, if I could just get picked up by a publisher!” You see your cover for the first time or, better yet, you hold a real physical copy of your book in your hands! Or that first moment that you walk into a bookstore—in another town—and see your book sitting on the shelf. Your literary baby has come home from the hospital and it’s a beautiful feeling.

But it won’t last.

Once the euphoria settles, then people start bringing up the ugly “M” word—marketing. Now you’ve got to convince 7 billion people that your baby is as beautiful as you believe she is. Some people are going to agree with you. They’ll love your book. Others will hate it. Think it’s trash.

I don’t mind those latter people though.

Because, the cold hard truth that writers rarely tell you is that most people—about 99% of the world—will never read your book. Moreover, they just won’t care. You could spend an entire day walking around the library or your local Barnes and Noble and hold every book in your hand. Imagine that, at one point in time, someone felt like you did—holding their book for the first time, thinking they were going to change the world. Some accomplished that dream. Most never will. You probably never will.

Blog tours won’t pick you up, or if they do, nobody will come and check it out. You may get a couple book signings and have fifteen people show up. You’ll send out review copies to reputable places, and they won’t read it for whatever reason. They’re busy or they forgot or their cat had kittens, it doesn’t matter. They don’t make time for you. It’s nothing personal, it’s just the way of things. Others might read your book and love it, but they won’t take a second to leave a review on Amazon or tell their friend. Publishers lose heart when you can’t bring the money in and they make hard decisions, no matter how much they supported you in the beginning.

This is happening to all of us writers. I talk to many writers on a daily basis, and they’re losing contracts, dealing with apathetic readers, struggling to just announce to the world that they’re even alive. But it seems that no matter what we do, the hard truth is that most people don’t care.

So why bother with writing at all?

If you want to be a writer, I’ll tell you that, if you can choose something else to do with your life, do that instead. Be a plumber. There’s got to be more job security there, more return for your hard work. As a writer you’ll spend countless nights at the computer, away from your family, bleeding on the page. You’ll break your heart and pour your soul into every word…and then people won’t read it. Or they’ll shrug, toss your book to the side, and find something else to do. That’s reality.

So why do I bother? I’m working on seven books as we speak! Why? I’m just another faceless name on the spine of a book in an aisle of the bookstore that you’ll never go down. You’d love my book, but you won’t read it. You may never have even heard of it. And I have no idea how to get it to you.

Why do I bother?

Sure, I could “get lucky” and write some crazy mega-selling hit. But then what? What comes after that? Obscurity again? What if I never achieve fame? What if only two thousand people read my book in my entire life? Am I a failure?

Man…why do I bother?

I’ll tell you. I bother because, one night at four in the morning, I woke up with an idea that made me dance with excitement, and I couldn’t go back to sleep. I bother because, while driving on my way to work after my lunch break, I saw a scene in my head of two estranged characters reuniting and it literally brought tears to my eyes. I bother because these are not isolated incidents, but weekly occurrences. I bother because writing is not a choice. It is who you are. Who God made you to be. I bother for the same reasons you do: Because to stop telling your stories is to stop breathing. I try to stop all the time. I make declarations to my wife that “After this story, that’s it. I’m done. It’s just not worth it anymore.” And she smiles and nods and says “Sure.” And you know what? She’s right to mock me. Because next week I’ll have a new idea and I can’t sit still. I HAVE to write it. I have to take that journey, go on that adventure—just one more time.

I would love it if you read my books. I would love it if you posted reviews—hey, even negative ones!—on Amazon or wherever you post such things. I would love it if you moved me to the top of your reading pile.

But even if you didn’t, it’s okay. I can’t write for those things.

I write because I love it.

To the readers out there, when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, why do you bother?

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Future? -- A Report from the 2012 ICRS

If you are reading this blog you are either a published author or want to be a published author. In either case, we should all be concerned about the future of the publishing industry and the fate of “brick and mortar” book stores. What is going on out there in the world of the average book buyer?
I recently attended the International Christian Retail Show, a fancy name for the biggest Christian publishing/music/gift show of the the year. I went as an “industry professional”, the category reserved for authors. Most of the attendees are book store owners or book store buyers in the retail industry. The vendors present want to showcase their upcoming releases in all types of media. But, the author can get a lot out of the show. My goal was to measure the pulse of the publishing/book store industry. What do I as an author have to look forward to? Where should I concentrate my marketing focus? Do book stores still value personal author visits?
  1. The Emerging Technology of “Instant Meeting” type software allows stores to have authors on site in a virtual visit. These simple tools were demonstrated by the Christian Author Network. An author can appear at one or several stores using current versions of “virtual meeting” type software. The author can answer live questions, give a powerpoint presentation, or give a live demonstration of how to use the book. The potential for this is wide open. An author doesn’t necessarily have to travel around the country to make appearances. BUT, the key is to get this technology, much of which is free, into the hands of the book stores.
  2. E Books have NOT killed the Christian book store. “he brick-and-mortar store is still the best option for book discovery and sales, according to Curtis Riskey, CBA executive director. He said physical stores increasingly are offering a sense of place and engagement that online stores are unable to fully provide.” according to a release by the CBA. In the opening ceremony presentations, the CBA had this to say about the future of ebooks in the hands of Christian book store buyes. “he Barna Group, summarized findings from CBA-commissioned research that revealed Christians are embracing computer tablets and e-readers at a faster pace than most consumers. Some 44% of pastors, 30% of Christian-store shoppers, and 25% of practicing Catholics reported they own a mobile tablet device or e-reader, compared to 18% of non Christian-store shoppers. The most-owned device reported was the iPad (44% among Christian-store shoppers). Additionally, nearly 70% of Christian-store shoppers said they would definitely or probably buy an e-book or digital download from a Christian store.” And, more than 800 stores can now sell ebooks through their own software.
  3. “New research presented at the show also showed that while Christians are shifting to new e-reader technologies, they also continue to be very supportive of Christian stores.” At the member luncheon the emphasis was on moving Christian retail outlets to become more engaged in their community. “People care about stores that care about what people think is important.” was one statement made. To this end, the last week of September, first week of October will be designated “Christian Store Month” and the emphasis will be on collecting funds for hungry children. By engaging the community in these type of projects, the store will bring in people for these events and enhance sells.
  4. This statement I think summarizes the current thinking: “The brick-and-mortar store is still the best option for book discovery and sales, according to Curtis Riskey, CBA executive director. He said physical stores increasingly are offering a sense of place and engagement that online stores are unable to fully provide.
I had many close encounters with other authors far more famous than I. I met Charles Martin, Ted Dekker, Tosca Lee, Os Guiness, just to name a few. One day, I hope I can be a part of a book signing at ICRS. Our own Martha Rogers was there signing books and bouncing around the show floor like the Energizer Bunny.
My next book mock up on the shelf at the Charisma Booth:

All in all, it was an exhaustive, overwhelming, but ultimately encouraging show. I am less worried about the future of Christian brick and mortar book stores and the fate of publishing (sorry, they now preferred to be called “content providers”) in the era of upheaval and change. Now, if the secular book stores would just follow suit!
My picture with Os Guiness:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Why I Don't Share My Faith Through My Fiction

I’m a Christian author. There, I said it. And I’m not ashamed of it. I know it’s semantics and to some it doesn’t mean much (and to others it means a lot and they’ll vehemently disagree with me) but I’m not an author who is a Christian. For me, the Christian part comes first . . . and should in everything I do. A Christian father; a Christian husband; a Christian therapist. Not that I have to state it in such a way every time I mention one of the roles I play but for clarification it needs to be said once in a while. And I need to be reminded once in a while.

For me, my identity as a Christian, a follower of Christ, comes first. It’s my foundation, my starting point and my ending point. The worldview through which I view and interpret the world around me.

So when I write fiction that worldview, that Christian belief system, finds its way into the story. It has to because it’s who I am as a person, as a writer. If it didn’t I wouldn’t be true to myself and my art.

And as a Christian we are called to share our faith, not to jam it down any listener’s throat, not to burden people with it, not to use it as a battering ram, but simply to share it. So the challenge is before me:

How do I share my faith without being preachy or heavy-handed?

The answer, for me, is simple: I just don’t. That’s right, read it again. I don’t share my faith. I let the characters share their faith. Readers don’t want an author preaching at them, that’s not why they pick up a novel. What they want in fiction is to be entertained, to be moved, to learn something about mankind and maybe themselves, to see the world through different eyes, but not to be heckled with preachiness from the author.

So I share the faith–a faith that carries such hope and love and peace–through the lives and struggles and questions and triumphs of the characters I create. And if I do my job effectively readers will accept that because it’ll be some of the same questions they have, the same struggles and trials and valleys, the same quest for meaning and hope, the same desire for unconditional love and belonging. And it’ll hit home and reach into the readers’ heart and touch that cord that will send a deep, meaningful, lasting thrum through their soul.

And really, for me, that’s what it’s all about. That’s what motivates me to keep pressing on, keep writing, keep creating characters who will share their story, their faith.

Question: At what point does faith in fiction turn you off? How much is too much?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Annie's Truth Book Signing!

I’m always thankful to everyone who comes and purchases a book or just to say hello. It's great to meet people who have read my books. Because writing is a private occupation it's wonderful to meet readers, and get to know them better.

I never know what to expect as I sit facing the front doors of B&N watching people look over with interest, look away, or do what I call the side-swipe, which is when they might be interested but not enough to come directly over. I am so grateful to have friends come and buy a few, their unconditional support never fails me, but I have to admit, when those readers come who aren’t a familiar face I know I’ve made an honest sale. I get a kick out of the entire dynamics of an author at a book signing, it’s both a humbling and exhilarating experience.

It's hard to believe that my next book, Grace Given, is almost through the editing phase and will be released in January. As I go through the edits with my editor I love going over the story all over again. I need that because when I think back to my stories, I can be really hard on myself as to how it turned out. But once I read through it and see it bloom in the editing process, I feel much better. Any one who has been harassed or knows someone who has been will appreciate this next story about turning the other cheek, which is a humbling gesture to make when there is obvious mistreatment. To see how the Amish deal with such matters is always an amazing experience for me and I appreciate them more with each book I write.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Three Keys to Successful Promotion

By Andrea Boeshaar

Although I’ve been a published author for almost 20 years, promotion is not my strong point and never has been. Therefore, I work extremely hard at it. In my earlier career I wrote for a mass-market romance line. The publisher promoted its line, not the authors. But in general the books did well. Then I published in the general Christian market (trade paperback). I didn’t do much in the way of promotion and felt horrified when my sales numbers were considerably less than my previous books. So when my latest series was purchased, I knew I had to hop on that proverbial band wagon and let all the world know I had a new book releasing.

But how to do that – promote?

It’s the million dollar question. Literally! Certainly writers can hire publicists and leave all the dirty work to them. The plan might work well for the author getting paid a large advance and/or one who receives large royalty payments. But for the rest of us -- *smile* -- it’s boots-on-the-ground publicizing and that means digging in our heels and building a platform (a collection of readers who follow you and will buy your book). I’m a hard-worker so no problem there, but I’m also a simple person. I need the basics before my creative juices start to flow. So, after brain-storming with several trusted friends and reading oodles of articles on promotion, I’ve boiled the whole process down to three basic, but successful, principles (or “keys”).

1)     Web Promo
A)   Get yourself a website. I’m always amazed when I hear about published authors who don’t have websites. In today’s techno-world, a website is crucial. I would suggest not creating one yourself, either, unless you’re a professional web-designer. I created mine on Network Solutions. It was as easy as creating a blog.
B)    Establish yourself on social networking sites like Facebook & Google +. Get your name out there!
C)    Invest in a Facebook Ad. This is a reasonably-priced option, as you’re charged per click and you can decide how much to spend and how long to run your ad.
D)   Create a blog – and keep up with your posts. There’s nothing worse than clicking onto an author’s blog and seeing his or her latest post is from six months ago. (Which reminds me…)
E)    Guest blog on other authors’ web sites. This is great way to introduce yourself to new readers.
F)    Peruse online radio programs, like those on Blog Talk Radio Hosts are always looking for interesting guests (like authors!).
G)   Write an e-newsletter. If you choose not to blog, a monthly or seasonal newsletter might be an option to keep in touch with readers. Even if you’re not currently contracted, it’s important to remind readers that you have novels available for purchase. I’ve learned that readers aren’t always current on our current projects. One sweet lady stopped me in church a few weeks ago and said a friend just gave her my book Wisconsin Weddings (the 3-in-1 story collection was released in 2007).

2)     Hardcopy promo
A)   Write a press release, announcing your new book and fax, mail (or email) it to local magazines and newspapers. Local media enjoys write-ups about hometown talent.
B)    Magazine and Newspaper Ads. These are sometimes costly, but an ad in such magazines as Romantic Times or the Romance Writers Report (if you’re an RWA member) can be advantageous.
C)    Send out postcards. I like to use The printing is fast and affordable. What’s more, it’s user-friendly. Even I managed to upload all four book covers in my series. Then I mailed them to bookstores and readers across the country.

3)     Personal Appearances
A)   Contact book clubs and writers groups. Schedule times when you can speak to these organizations in your area to encourage books sales.
B)    Contact the producers of local morning shows. Again, the hometown talent thing goes a long way.
C)    Book signings. Contact book stores and let them know you’re available to sign copies of your novel. Sometimes bookstore owners will ask you to do a short talk about yourself and how you began your writing career.
D)   Attend writers conferences. This is an important piece, as there’s nothing like face-to-face contact with other writers. Remember, writers are readers too – and they do things like write book reviews.

So there you have ‘em – three basic keys to promotion. They are as simple as building blocks. However, these keys are vital to opening the way to top-dollar book sales. In this day and age, publishers demand and expect authors to do more than their fair share of marketing.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Writing Journey

I celebrated my 76th birthday in June, and that marked three years since my first stand alone novel contract that led to an additional three books in a second contract. It has been an amazing journey with nine books and two novellas released in that time and six more novels in the works. It's beyond my wildest imaginations.

I started actively seeking publication in the early 1990's just after I retired from teaching high school and began teaching at the college level. Looking back, I can see my books were not anywhere near what they needed to be to attract an editor.

No matter what age we are, if we are serious about publication, we have certain steps or things we must do to accomplish that feat. The road to publication may be long as mine has been or it may be just a few years.

The first step on that road is to write, write, write. From there progress to reading books about writing, learn all you can about the craft of writing, learn to edit, learn the guidelines from the publishers, and finish that first novel.

Step two is to get a critique partner or join a critique group or writing group that offers critiques. This will help get an outsider's view of the work. Also begin entering contests at this point to get additional feedback.

The next step is intertwined with the others. Attend as many writing conferences as can be afforded. There authors learn from other authors, make contact with editors, agents, and other writers. Those contacts are invaluable.

Once the work is ready, submit to agents or make contact with editors at conferences. Most houses do not accept unsolicted manuscripts without an agent or coming through an editor's request at a conference.

Submitting that manuscript is the only way to get it noticed whether the submission is through an agent or sent directly to an editor. After the first one is submitted, get to work on the second one.

Through all of this, a writer needs patience and preseverence. Getting a response from an editor may take a while, but don't waste that time. Keep writing.

Rejections will come, but remember that rejections are not failure but a step towad a better manuscript. Revise, edit, and polish then submit again.

The hardest part is waiting, but whether it takes one year or fifteen years, the wait will be worth it when that first book arrives and it has your name on it.

Websites about writing are in abundance. Check them out as well as take a few courses in writing and attend writing workshops. Join professional organizations like ACFW and have contact with more writers that you could ever dream of meeting.

Writing a novel is more than simply putting words on paper and selling them. Writing involves time, effort, patience, perseverence, and dedication as well as lots of prayer. Disappointments will come, but if it is God's will for your writing, acceptance and a contract will come.

I know other more experienced writers can add to these suggestions. Even with twelve books written and either published or in the final stages before publication, I find that going back over the steps and applying them to my own writing life encourages me to keep going.

No matter where you are in your writing journey, remember to seek God first and all these other things will be added for you.