December, 2010

Tip Thursday: Tips and Tricks for Beginning Writers


When I was first beginning to write, I honestly had no clue what I was doing.  I figured, since I loved reading, writing would come naturally.  Which, for the most part it did, but not all of it, and when I hit a block, I didn’t know how to fix it.  So, here’s a few tips I found that have been beneficial to me, so I’m passing them along.  The original and full post can be found here.  

Tips and tricks for beginners

  • Do some short exercises to stretch your writing muscles – if you’re short of ideas, read the Daily Writing Tips article on “Writing Bursts”. Many new creative writers find that doing the washing up or weeding the garden suddenly looks appealing, compared to the effort of sitting down and putting words onto the page. Force yourself to get through these early doubts, and it really will get easier. Try to get into the habit of writing every day, even if it’s just for ten minutes.

  • If you’re stuck for ideas, carry a notebook everywhere and write down your observations. You’ll get some great lines of dialogue by keeping your ears open on the bus or in cafes, and an unusual phrase may be prompted by something you see or smell.

  • Work out the time of day when you’re at your most creative. For many writers, this is first thing in the morning – before all the demands of the day jostle for attention. Others write well late at night, after the rest of the family have gone to bed. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

  • Don’t agonize over getting it right. All writers have to revise and edit their work – it’s rare that a story, scene or even a sentence comes out perfectly the first time. Once you’ve completed the initial draft, leave the piece for a few days – then come back to it fresh, with a red pen in hand. If you know there are problems with your story but can’t pinpoint them, ask a fellow writer to read through it and give feedback.

  • HAVE FUN! Sometimes, we writers can end up feeling that our writing is a chore, something that “must” be done, or something to procrastinate over for as long as possible. If your plot seems wildly far-fetched, your characters bore you to tears and you’re convinced that a five-year old with a crayon could write better prose … take a break. Start a completely new project, something which is purely for fun. Write a poem or a 60-word “mini saga”. Just completing a small finished piece can help if you’re bogged down in a longer story.

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Writer’s Wednesday: Book Review Preacher’s Bride


The Preacher’s Bride by Jody Hedlund
Publisher: Bethany House (October 1, 2010)
Paperback: 379 pages
Reading Level: Adult
Rating: 5 of 5 feathers
Source: Publisher

In 1650s England, a young Puritan maiden is on a mission to save the baby of her newly widowed preacher—whether her assistance is wanted or not.
Always ready to help those in need, Elizabeth ignores John’s protests of her aid. She’s even willing to risk her lone marriage prospect to help the little family.
Yet Elizabeth’s new role as housekeeper takes a dangerous turn when John’s boldness from the pulpit makes him a target of political and religious leaders. As the preacher’s enemies become desperate to silence him, they draw Elizabeth into a deadly web of deception. Finding herself in more danger than she ever bargained for, she’s more determined than ever to save the child—and man—she’s come to love.

REVIEW: I’m a little late on getting this review out. Unfortunately. I originally read it when it first came out, but never got around to reviewing it.

I feel like I’m repeating myself over and over again. This was another book that I loved. I read it for 4 hours straight today. I’m not generally a reader of Christian fiction, but this blew away every thought I had about the genre and I really can’t wait to own my next Jody Hedlund. And to find out that the story was based on a true one, made it even better.

It starts with the main character, Elizabeth, hearing a baby cry as the town, including the child’s father, tried to help the mother of the babe as she died. It bothers Elizabeth and she tries repeadetly to care for it, but an elder woman (an important figure head of the town) refuses to let her. Elizabeth decides to take things into her own hands and goes to the poor section to go get a nursemaid for him, even though she knows she’ll get in trouble for it, which of course makes the other woman incredibly angry and will come back to haunt Elizabeth later.

Because of this she ends up becoming the housekeeper for the now widowed, John—a radical but highly regarded preacher in this town–and cares for his house and his three other children, including the eldest, a blind child named Mary.

Almost right away we’re tossed into a political and religious war when an enemy of John’s threatens to spread lies about John and Elizabeth, which quickly escalates into brutal beatings and vicious murders.

CHARACTERS: Ms. Hedlund’s characterizations were superb and I truly felt I was apart of the story and felt for the characters, especially for poor Elizabeth and everything she endures during the course of this story. Elizabeth is an extremely likeable character with her quiet strength, confidence, and ability to adapt to any situation. Even when she made choices I wouldn’t have, I couldn’t help but see why she chose that path. John, was another good character. Even if there were times he wasn’t very likeable, it was always very obvious why he made those choices.

COVER: I think it’s perfect for this book. It gives the perfect hint that it’s historical and shows that quiet strength that Elizabeth embodies for the entire story.

This is truly a book you can’t put down once you start reading it and I will be suggesting this book to every one I know.

Find Jody Hedlund
Blog / Twitter / Facebook

Purchase Preacher’s Bride
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / The Book Depository

Since this is Christmas Week, I’m giving away a copy of The Preacher’s Bride.  What do you have to do?  Just fill out the form below and then comment (not necessarily required, but helpful.  🙂 )and tell me your Christmas Wish (well, your wish for what you want to see more of on my blog in the next year.  🙂  )  Open Internationally.

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Agents: Gatekeepers or Champions?


Agents always get a bad rap when it comes to writers, especially those of us who’ve suffered through a butt load of rejections. Agents are too picky…They only want bestsellers…they’re only out for money…

And, well, it’s more than likely true. It IS their JOB after all. They only make money when their author’s make money, so it pays to be picky who they pick up, and if the author turns out to be a bestseller, even better! But there’s no guarantee that the book an agent signs will sell, let only become a bestseller, so…yeah…not really a valid argument to not have an agent…

Anyway, that’s not really why I decided to write a post.

It’s actually because of this. I’m not going to go into details, but if you read the post, you’ll get an eyeful.

The reason I’m writing, is that this is a classic example why getting an agent or having a literary attorney look over your contract before you sign it is a good idea.

Agents are more than gatekeepers. They’re your champion. They’ll make sure your book finds the perfect home. Which publishers are looking for your kind of book, which editors you’ll work well with, and what publishers to avoid. They’ll negotiate a contract that’s in YOUR best interest and if the worst happens and something happens with your publisher, they’ll help you figure a way out of the mess. They’ve “got your back” so to speak. Because they want you, generally, for your entire career. Again that whole if-you-don’t-make-money-neither-do-they thing.

If you absolutely don’t want an agent, you absolutely NEED to hire a literary attorney to look over those contracts. Just because a “publisher” claims their contract is author friendly, doesn’t mean it is. In fact, it may be downright predatory. And a literary attorney is going to be able to spot the nuances that a normal contracts attorney isn’t going to be able to see.

Now, I’m not saying the most commercial publishers are bad. If you’ve done your research, then chances are you’re not going to run into a vanity press in disguise, but there are enough scam publishers out there, that you really need to be careful.

So, in my opinion, it’s just easier to find an agent who will walk with you through every step of the process. Who will listen to your gripes, help you brainstorm new book ideas and generally help guide your career down the path you want to take.

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Music Monday: Can’t believe It’s Christmas

>Okay here’s where I share how strange I really am.  I’m completely in love with the Veggie Tales.  I started watching them with my son when he was 2 and even when he outgrew them, I kept the DVDs so I could watch them in secret.  Now I watch them with my daughter.  My favorite part of Veggie Tales is their songs and they’ve even spread out to making Christmas Songs. 

Here’s one of my favorites:

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New comments program launched

>Hi all!  I just launched a new comments program so I can reply to each of your comments.  I love getting comments, but I found that bloggers native comment function wasn’t all that conducive to actually having a “conversation.”  Therefore, I found this program and I’m hoping it works.  So, if you all would be so kind as to leave a comment (just a simple hi will do.  🙂 ) I would be grateful! 

Thanks soo much!  And have a great weekend!

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