Friday, May 31, 2013

Who is Your Champion?

Since we have been talking so much about friendship and finding community as writers, I thought I’d touch on a similar topic.

(Cue- “Eye of the Tiger”)

Let me start by posing a question: Who is lifting you up, praying you through, reinforcing your worth?

When we write we don’t just slap some words in a blank document and hope they form a nice little story. We pour our hearts out onto the page, we bond with our characters, feel their pain as if our own. We walk in their broken path along side them in hopes of sending them off like proud mamas and papas, spurring them on to fulfilling their dreams.

I don’t know about you, but when I let someone read my story, I feel that old 6th grade insecurity rise up. “Do they like me? Do they think it’s stupid? Is there toilet paper stuck to that struggling leg of my story?”

No matter where you are at in your journey, we all have room for improvement. Receiving a critique is not always a palatable experience. Sometimes you have to muscle down those words that sit like stones on your heart. But like river rocks, we have to face a lot of rough waters until we can be smooth and polished.

In order to face those doubts and those tumultuous insecurities without breaking we need a champion.

 Maybe it’s your spouse, someone that gives you time to write even when the kids are literally tearing your house down.

Maybe it’s your mom, who harasses you for the next few pages of your rough draft and boasts of never reading anything better. (Thanks mom, you’re sweet, but delusional. I love you for it!)

Or maybe it’s your writing partner, who cheers you on, soaks up your story, falls in love with your characters. You might even be lucky enough to have an agent or an editor who believes in you by standing behind your words and working to give your dream wings.

Perhaps, it’s God. The one pouring those words through your fingertips. They could be just for you, or for millions of hearts around the world, but He is the author of your dreams, and the most faithful friend.

No matter who you have on your team, prepping you for the ring, wiping up the sweat and tears after a hard blow, please know that you can’t walk this seemingly solitary dream alone. Put yourself out there. Let someone in. Share your story with your closest friend or join a writers group.

Be a champion for someone else.

So let me encourage you to step outside your writer bubble.

Find someone who will help you when you stumble, because you will.

Find someone who will encourage you when you doubt, because you will.

And find someone who will rejoice in your success, when you do!

Let’s take a moment to appreciate those who lift us up! Who is your champion? And how do they make you feel invincible?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Join Our Retreat!

Most of you faithful readers know that a couple weeks ago, seven of the Alley Cats gathered at Angie's house for fun, chocolate, and writing shindigs. 

I can't tell you how much this retreat meant to me. While there, I had such an overwhelming sense of thankfulness for each one of these women and for what they mean to me. We are all so different, and yet there are no divisions in the group--definitely a God thing!

But I got to thinking, if only there were a way to share the fun with all of you readers and friends. We learned so much about each other over the couple days we shared together, it seemed a shame to keep all this fun to ourselves.

That's when this idea hit me. What if there was a way to include all of you after all?

So, I've compiled a list of random facts about the women on the Alley, many of which I learned over the weekend. 

I want you to guess who you think each Alley Cat is, and leave your answers in a comment. The first person to get all 10 correct will WIN a copy of Becky Wade's newest book, UNDENIABLY YOURS!

(Side note: I'm going to list the answers at the bottom of the blog so you can learn who is who. Everyone's on the honor system for the contest!)

Without further ado...

  1. This Alley Cat used to be an art and drama teacher and does her grocery shopping online. 
  2. This Alley Cat loves cheesecake almost as much as she loves Iowa.
  3. This Alley Cat married her high school sweetheart when she was 18 and was crowned Homecoming Queen twice.
  4. This Alley Cat has a beautiful singing voice and writes gripping suspense even though she doesn't like scary movies.
  5. This Alley Cat stays awake by drinking Dr. Pepper, and she married her online sweetheart.
  6. This Alley Cat got engaged in Italy and loves Jane Eyre.
  7. This Alley Cat wrote letters to her boyfriend when he was stationed in Germany for five years. He bought her an engagement ring in Belgium, and when he returned for good, they got married.
  8. This Alley Cat writes with a signed picture of Longfellow looking down on her and is an avid fan of Duck Dynasty (though she is no fan of hunting or shooting).
  9. This Alley Cat once wanted to be a dragonfly in Disney's Spectromagic parade, and had "Happy Birthday" sung to her by Jars of Clay. 
  10. This Alley Cat is a master at DIY projects like refinishing furniture, and has a daughter who is getting married.

If you're in a situation where you feel alone in this writing journey, I want to encourage you to pray for a writing mentor and critique partner. God knows how our hearts crave understanding and companionship, and He will lead you to the right group. It can be SO hard to chip away at a novel day by day all by your lonesome self while you sip tea at your kitchen table. Consider joining groups like ACFW or RWA if you haven't already, and get plugged in with a group you can really trust. I can remember feeling like the publishing industry was so very vast and overwhelming whenever I first started writing, and some of you may feel that way even now. You would be amazed how much smaller and easier to navigate the writing world becomes with the help of the friend.

Love you, Alley Cats, and you too, faithful readers! :)

Answers: 1) Karen 2) Casey 3) Pepper 4) Amy 5) Krista 6) Angie 7) Mary 8) Julia 9) Ashley  10) Sherrinda 

Ashley Clark writes romantic comedy 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 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 personal blogFacebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Put on Your Combat Boots: Fighting the Lies We Listen to in Our Writing Lives

I recently started a new story. I’ve been loving the plotting with My Book Buddy, the new characters became “friends” before I even began the writing stage. Even though I was editing a different story, this is the one that has been in my thoughts for months now. So it was time to start it, past time really.  

Then came those distractions: a massive sinus infection, a gum infection, a root canal. Schoolwork, housework, writing…I fell behind in all these areas.

When does discouragement hit the hardest? Oftentimes right after (or right before) we head through the starting gate AND right before we break the ribbon at the finishing line.

I was in both places. I was just starting my story AND I was just at the finishing gate for another school year.

Are you starting a new project or about to finish something significant. Your first completed rough draft? Your first work in a particular genre? Are you about to start editing on a challenging story?

Listen to what a wise Alley Cat said to me this week:

I've always, always found that whenever I try to implement change or new goals, I hit resistance straight away. I really think the devil likes to discourage us at the start, before we have any momentum going.

Highly frustrating, but you know, I'm trying to see it as an encouragement. Why would Satan go to such lengths unless he felt threatened by what we're trying to accomplish? Be encouraged. What you're doing matters, it's worthwhile, and you will overcome. Tomorrow's a new week! Cheering you on, sis! We can do this!”

Another Alley Cat had this to say about fighting the enemy:

 the closer we get to our God-sized calling, the closer fear perches to our hearts because it is an enemy that gets stronger as we get closer to our purpose.

If you are in a place of doubt or discouragement, God wants to remind you of his promises to you. His word is what will counter the lies we listen to, so instead of my own I want to provide you with a few verses. I hope at the end you’ll stop by and add a favorite that God has spoken to you. We can increase each other’s arsenal for fighting this battle.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:13) Jesus, you are working in me through my writing life to teach me and grow me into who you want me to be. You are sanctifying me and you are not finished with me. Thank you that in spite of my sin, my daily failures to follow you and be obedient you are faithful to forgive, as I come to you for cleansing you transform me day-by-day. Thank you for your continuing work with me.

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; (Romans 12:6) Jesus, thank you for the gifts you have given us. Humble us to always remember that these gifts are from you and you alone and give glory to you alone, not being puffed up in any gifts or abilities. Lord, thank you that you have gifted us each uniquely. Help us not to covet another’s gift but to exercise our  own gifts. Help us to not let fear hold us back from ministering our gifts in the ways you desire us to. Lord grow our faith in you.

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10) Lord, you have given us so much. Your atonement for us, the grace that you give us daily. It is overwhelming. Lord, help us to use all you have given us and all you have done in us to serve the others you have placed into our lives. I pray that our writing may be a vessel used by you to bless others. Help us to serve you in every aspect of our lives moment by moment Jesus.

And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:4) Lord, thank you the things you allow into our lives in order to grow us and help us to be more dependent on you. Lord, help us to endure not only in our writing but in every aspect of our lives. Help us to continue in obedience in the things you have for us. Lord help us to be content in all circumstances and open up our eyes to realize all we have in you. Thank you that you are on the throne daily interceding for us that we may stand firm in God’s will. Mature us and help us to live in the full assurance of faith.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7) Lord, teach us to be obedient to you in our writing lives, in every aspect of our lives. Show us areas where we are failing to submit ourselves completely to your authority. Forgive us for our disobedience. Thank you for your Spirit that allows us to stand firm in you. Show us how to resist the lies we are believing. In Your Name, Jesus. Amen.

What Scriptures have helped you in the battles you’ve faced in your writing life? 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Equall-Yoked POVs

I have about three or four books half-read at any time. I usually read the first few chapters, then get distracted by my crazy life or the inspiration to continue on my wip. Usually, I have at least read enough of each novel to know whose pov will be used. And since I read mostly romance novels, the typical povs used in one novel are the hero's and the heroine's.

One of the recent books in my reading list began in the perspective of the hero. It was intriguing, mysterious, unusual, and top-notch.

And then enters the heroine.

While she had some significant issues, the craft that shone in the hero's perspective was lacking in her's. I couldn't believe that the two povs were even written by the same person. Perhaps, I should read further and get comfortable with the heroine, but once I got back to the hero's pov, I sighed relief because it was interesting again!

So, after talking with my fellow Alley Cats, I think I have a grip on what makes alternating povs successful.

At first, I thought, well, maybe the reason I had such a hard time reading the above book was because the author went from “showing” the hero's situation, feelings, stakes, to using a LOT of telling with the heroine. But the Alley Cats talked about books they have read where the author was successful in this way, and come to think of it, I have read a few that use telling as part of the “voice” of a character.

So then, I thought about the stakes. Perhaps, each character should have the same intensity of what's at stake. If life is on the edge for one character, then it should be on the edge for the other. But that doesn't really work in real life or fiction.

Maybe it was voice. Maybe the voices of each character were too different, too simplistic for one and too complex for the other. But just the thought of that stirred my creative juices and I want to tackle that idea at some point in my own writing!

I kept trying to put my finger on it, wondering why I had such an issue with these unequally yolked povs. Every point I thought about, had some sort of exception. And as I sat down to write this post, it finally hit me...Whether you “show” with one character, and “tell” with the other, whether one character is in a “life” threatening situation, and the other is sitting by enjoying life, whether one character is a man and the other a woman, there is something very important needed when writing two different point-of-views:


Each pov in a book must be as well-written as the other. It's as simple as that. If you don't have it in you to write a character well, if you feel like you are much more inspired by one character over the other, then seriously think about nixing that pov...or spicing up that character so that you care to write him/her!

Search for a distinct voice for each character, but make sure you mold and shape each person to be unique, endearing, entertaining, and well-written!

Consistent Craft vs. Inconsistent Craft would be:
  • Fine-tuning voice in each character vs. giving a generic voice to the character you're not as thrilled to write about.
  • Ramping the tension in one pov, then flat-lining with the next character. Even if a character isn't going through tragedy, use power words, make even the every day situation intriguing to bridge the gap between the characters until they are woven together in the plot.
  • Language differences: Using power words, tight writing, good dialogue with one pov, then sprinkling adverbs, boring sentence structure, simplistic dialogue in your next pov. This is particularly tricky in historical and dialect of certain countries...for some reason we want to use adverbs for historical just seems...more proper, doesn't it? Something I am working on!

Final tips on Point Of Views:

Write each character's pov as if they are their own story, not as if one is assisting the other. Use the different perspectives to move toward the main plot-line of the book, to ramp up the tension toward the point of character collision or the characters' a-ha moment together.

Finally, two POVs are only powerful when they are both consistent in moving the story forward.
Thanks, Alley Cats, for helping me sort through these thoughts on POV. I am by no means an expert, so I would love to open the discussion to our readers and see if anyone else has tips or insight also!

Angie Dicken first began writing fiction as a creative outlet during the monotonous days of diapers and temper tantrums. She is passionate to impress God's love on women regardless of their background or belief. This desire serves as a catalyst for Angie's fiction, which weaves salvation and grace themes across cultures. She is an ACFW member and CEO of a family of six.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

What's Up the Street Next Week - Retreat Edition

There are times in life when words are not enough.

When our hearts are so filled with wonder and amazement, our brains haven’t the capacity of forming the experience into human sounds and meaning.

It’s beyond our mortal abilities to grasp the vastness of it – so we sit back or kneel down in complete awe and marvel at God’s great goodness. It's one way the Spirit intercedes for us - when words are not enough, He takes those feelings and spills them out into prayer and praise to the Father in a

language He understands.

From the heart.

Another thing? God loves relationships! The Father, Son, and Spirit are in continual relationship. And the first 'not good' of the Bible is when Adam is alone - so God made Eve.
When God builds the relationships it's not just good - it's VERY GOOD!

And we gals at The Alley say - 'It's AMAZING!!!!"

Last weekend, 7 of our 10 AlleyCats had opportunity to spend time with each other at Angie’s house. 2 other AlleyCats were able to join us via Skype (praise God for cybermiracles).  Several things glowed from this meeting-of-the-minds.

1.       Seeing each other was a natural extension of our deep friendship. There was no awkwardness.

2.       God has forged this bond between us in a way that is fairly mind-boggling.

3.       We all REALLY like each other, but more than that we trust in each other’s unconditional positive regard. It’s a great example of how Believers ought to be with each other. Authentic, transparent, and founded in a beautifully divine love.

4.       God blessed our weekend by deepening bonds, rerouting tragedies and beginning new relationships.

5.       We like to talk – and eat – and talk some more.

6.       We have some great visual changes in store for the Alley

7.       We love bringing God’s truth to light through story.

So as we embark on what God has in store for The Writers Alley in the coming months and years – we want to give a hearty and ecstatic shout of pure joy and gratitude. He is the author of this blog in the inspiration of each of these crazy Cats – and we are a proud group of thankful heroines in His story!!!

We hope that you will benefit from The Alley and continue to glean from our tips, trials, and treasures along the writing journey,
because the road to a story is paved with possibilities.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Tips to Treasure with Jody Hedlund

Well, after gushing about the hero in Jody Hedlund's newest release, A Noble Groom, I thought it might be worthwhile to ask her some hero questions. Without a doubt, Jody's most recent historical romance goes on my keeper shelf for repeat-reading-purposes.

Let's see what Jody has to say about heroes.

Who has been one of your favorite heroes to read?
Recently, one of my favorite heroes was Bo from Becky Wade's Undeniably Yours. Not only was Bo a strong, handsome, Texan cowboy, but he's sweet, considerate, and protective of Meg (the heroine). More than that, I really liked his integrity, his desire to do the right thing even though that meant he had to sacrifice his personal desires.
Sacrifice keeps coming up at a hero trait! Hmm, there's a reason why we call rescue workers 'heroes'. They are willing to make sacrifices. The ultimate hero is willing to sacrifice (Jesus is our ultimate example)
Who has been your favorite hero to write?
I think that I fall in love with each of my heroes every time that I write a book! But I'd have to say that one of my all time favorites has been Carl from A Noble Groom.
I'd DEFINITELY agree with you here, Jody!
And WHY was he your favorite to write?
I love heroes who are slightly humorous (or at least can laugh at themselves). And even though I was continually throwing Carl into difficult situations, he was the kind of hero who didn't take things too seriously. He could bumble through learning how to work on the farm, make mistakes, and still keep smiling.
I also love heroes who are tender with children–that makes them even more heroic in my mind. And Carl stood out from the other men in his culture in that he wasn't too manly to hold a baby or give pony-rides to toddlers.
Finally, I love heroes who are self-sacrificial. Carl was willing to give up his own plans to teach in order to stay and help Annalisa. He was even willing to give up all of his money to help pay off the loan on her farm. And in the end, he was still thinking about her when he bought her a new crock and filled it with his invention money.
Oh my! YES! You just listed my top THREE hero qualities.
1. Self-sacrificial
2. Tender/Gentle
3. Funny
No wonder I liked Carl so much! :-)
So AlleyPals, lets hear from you. Have you made the hero in your WIP self- sacrificing? What is something he sacrifices? How does this influence your story? (You guys go ahead and discuss this while I continue to stare at the cover of Jody's book)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tips to Treasure with Melanie Dickerson

Melanie Dickerson has made a name for herself in YA as well as with many adult readers. Her fantastic retellings of fairytales bring realistic heartwarming details to our childhood imaginations. (Not to mention her bookcovers are phenomenal!!!! Absolutely stellar)

So lets hear from Melanie.

Who has been one of your favorite heroines to read?
I would have to go with Elizabeth Bennet. She was fun and confident and Mr. Darcy’s perfect match. I also love India Opal from Because of Winn-Dixie. She was delightfully quirky, and she made me cry and wasn’t even trying.
Who has been one of your favorite heroines to write?
You sure know how to ask a hard question. But I do believe my favorite heroines to write are the two I’m writing now. One is Leorah
Gilchrist, the heroine in my second Regency, because she’s so confident and doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, and she’s really sweet. The second one is Lady Margaretha from my Frog Prince story, my 5th Medieval fairy tale retelling, because she’s funny and doesn’t know it. She talks too much, and she misunderstands a lot of things. She’s just fun to write.
Sounds to me like the day is full of humor - so let's hear your take on it.
What is one humorous character you've enjoyed reading and what made them so funny or likeable? 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tips to Treasure - Verses of Inspiration

Today I'm going to draw from the archives with a specific purpose in mind. Bible verses. As writers who are Christians, our worldview and inspiration is shaped by our faith.

I hope these verses and comments will bring inspiration and encouragement to you.

Janet Dean
Matthew 7:7–Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

When I’m doing what I believe is God’s will for me, this verse tells me to ask for what I need to accomplish that purpose. That God will give those things to me and will open doors. The promises of this verse are conditional. I must ask, seek and knock first. The verse doesn’t say how long I must ask, seek and knock, but when I do, he will answer in his perfect timing. I’ve seen the promises of this verse fulfilled in my life and specifically with my writing. Now that I’m published, I claim that promise when the words aren’t coming but my deadline is. I ask God for strength, wisdom and peace to create stories that will bring him glory. He’s never failed to answer. When I ask, seek and knock.

Erica Vetsch

The Bible verse that helps me when I’m stymied? The same one that helps me in so many ways. Often when I’m blocked or stuck or procrastinating, it’s because I’m afraid. Afraid I won’t be able to give life to the vision in my head, that I won’t live up to my and readers’ expectations.
That’s when I need to remind myself of a profound truth.
Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Mary Connealy
The one that comes to mind right now is Psalms 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation–whom shall I fear?
To me, in many ways, the whole Bible is almost summed up in this one sentence (I know it’s not…but there is so much in this one sentence). If we could just remember that God will be with us, even in death, we could face everything. Fear nothing. I think the whole world would change and our whole outlook would change if we could just feel the depth of God’s protection–the beauty of His salvation. It’s a part of His love, and key to remembering He’s always with us.
Audra Harders
Frustrations lay around every corner of the writing process. If I gave in to them, I’d probably still be writing “See Spot run” or something like that. My favorite verses for not only frustration and slumps, but for all the mysteries of life is from Proverbs:
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

If it’s important to me, I’ve got to let it go. Easy to say; difficult to do.

Rachel Hauck

When writing Diva Nashvegas I was struggling so much and while at prayer one day, the Lord lead me to Isaiah 41:13, “… do not fear, I will help you.”

I knew He was with me. I pray that verse from time to time. Reminding the Lord, reminding myself.

Did you catch the theme of these verses? As writers we FEAR? But GOD has arrived to OVERCOME our fear!
1 John 4:18 - There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear

Remember that as you write - and as you live, and may His perfect love encourage you to find peace in the storm of writing.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tips to Treasure with Laura Frantz

If you've never had opportunity to delve into the lyrical beauty of Laura Frantz's historical romances, you MUST try to get your hands on one ASAP. Laura's novels carry with them a poetic and descriptive elegance which draws the readers into the throes of history and a passion of intertwined lives.
Laura's heroines are written with three dimensional depth, each growing through the stories and with the powerful heroes she writes.
So - with that in mind, let's see what Laura has to say about heroines.
Who has been one of your favorite heroines to read?
Oh, this is like asking me to choose between Reese’s Cups and Hershey’s Almond Bars! Can I name two favorite heroines? Christy in Catherine Marshall’s Christy is a fav because she went into the wild woods and fell for a handsome if cantankerous Scottish doctor and carved out a meaningful, if often uncomfortable, life for herself in Tennessee. And then there is Valancy Stirling of L. M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle and her handsome Barney Snaith aka John Foster and their little cabin in the woods. Barney is not a Scotsman (not that I remember) but he’ll doWinking smile. Lots of wooing and angst in that one...
Oh Laura, I LOVE Christy!! what a great choice. (and how can you go wrong with a Scot, right?)
Who has been one of your favorite heroines to write?
I have to say Roxanna Rowan – or Roxie as I think of her.
And WHY was she your favorite to write?
Because she was brave enough to take on Colonel McLinn despite his being a tormented, intimidating soul.And also because she was a blend of gentleness and strength despite having T.S.T.L. moments. Of all my heroes, I think the colonel would have been the most tempting to kiss, cribbage game or no! So Roxie wins, hands down.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Tips to Treasure with Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter captured readers with her novels, Surrender Bay and A Convenient Groom. She's been wooing them to the coast with her tender love stories since last year - when she introduced cowboys and Moose Creek.

She's going to chat with us today about heroes. ( a 'hot' topic)

Who has been one of your favorite heroes to read? So many great heroes out there! But if pressed, I think I'd have to go with Michael Hosea from Redeeming Love. Francine Rivers knows how to write a Godly man with all the yummy characteristics women love.
Oh my, yes! There is a reason why Michael Hosea turns our hearts as readers. I think it's a healthy mixture of strength and tenderness.

Who has been one of your favorite heroes to write? They're all so fun to write and so different. I'd say it was probably Dylan Taylor from The Trouble with Cowboys.

And WHY was he your favorite to write?

Hmmm. Texas drawl, blue eyes, dimples. All that and a cowboy too. :) I love his flirty, playful ways and the way he's so much deeper than first meets the eye-which Annie eventually discovered. There's something about a wounded cowboy . . .
There definitely is! Whew...
Leave a comment about 2 characteristics you think are a MUST for a good hero and have your name placed into a drawing for Denise's book, The Trouble with Cowboys.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

What's Up the Street Next Week?

It's a fabulous weekend in Iowa as the AlleyCats have their FIRST annual Alley Cat retreat!!

In celebration of our fun, we're offering another fabulous week of giveaways and guests for you.

Monday - Denise Hunter chats about Writing Heroes.

Tuesday - Laura Frantz gives us some tips on writing spell-binding heroines

Wednesday - Verses to encourage your writing - from various authors

Thursday - Melanie Dickerson brings us tips on how to write heroines.

Friday - We end with more Hero Talk from Jody Hedlund

Make sure to stop by for chances to win fabulous books and enjoy some healthy encouragement along the way!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Alley Cat RETREAT!!

So, Case just traveled across the NATION to Iowa! Needless to say the excitement and exhaustion of traveling caused a bump in the blogosphere.

Here's some fun pics as we start our retreat and plan for The Writers Alley!

Please leave a comment about some things you'd like to see on The Alley in the future and how we can serve you more.

The tagline we're proposing is:

The journey of a story is paved wtih possibilities -

Where will the words take you?

Check out weekend post for pics from our retreat!!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Publication Prep Part 1 - BELIEVING

Don't think dreaming big is wise?
Well... it worked for me...
as shown above!
I'm a big believer in dreaming big.

When my daughter is "on deck" at softball, I always ask her, "Lacy, are you going to hit the ball?"

At the beginning of the season, it never fails. She ALWAYS responds with a shrug of her shoulder and says, "I might."

And Mommy responds with a classic hands-on-hips lecture.

You aren't going to "might" hit the ball! You go out there and hit that dad gum ball. I wanna hear you yell, "YES, I WILL HIT THAT BALL!!!!!" Be CONFIDENT. You CAN do this.

Because my sweetie CAN hit that ball. She's actually REALLY good at it.

And then, after she smiles and says, "Yeah, I'm gonna hit the ball, Momma" she stands in the "on deck" spot (not sure what that is really called) and practices hitting the ball while the player in front of her does so.

She swings to warm up her arm. She psychs herself up, determined to hit that ball.

And about 50% of the time, she does.

Publication is the same way. We can't go into this expecting to fail. We can't get up to bat with our manuscripts and be like, "No one is going to like it. No one will publish this."

Because if we don't believe in our writing... why should a publisher? And even more, why should a reader?

We use our heart when we're writing. Writing can be very emotional. So if your heart isn't convinced that you can write a sellable book...then there's a good possibility that your heart won't be 100% in it. You do NOT want your heart giving a half-hearted effort:-)

Now for you pessimists out there...

I know there is a lot of importance in managing expectations and making sure we don't get too cocky in our writing. Sometimes that can bring forth a bit of disillusionment and things like people sending agents crazy queries like, "God told me you'd be my agent and that my book will be published" or "This is the BEST manuscript you will read this year."

Yeah, don't be uppity. It doesn't look good on you. Kinda like bell-bottoms or super poofy bangs.

But there is also a lot of value in believing in our dream, in shooting for the stars, in trusting that God has GOOD things in store for us.

The worse thing that can happen is that you fail.

And honestly, whether you believe or not, that is always in the cards as a possibility.

If you don't try... you've failed before you start.

Discuss: Are you a half-full or half-empty writer? How much do YOU believe in your writing? When you start thinking negative thoughts, what do you do to combat them?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Successful Writers Need a Gathering Time

Successful writers need a time to gather and refresh their thoughts.

A time to share their book ideas and listen to other's suggestions.

A time to worship, to praise the God who has given the gift of writing, and to ask His blessings.

A time to breathe the fresh air.

A time to laugh

I suppose the entire post could be filled with this list. 

The point is we all have made so many friends through the Internet. We haven't heard their voices, but we've seen their pics and read their words. 

We're not sure if these treasured friends are tall, short, cackle or snort when they laugh, wear high heals and fashion wear or prefer the grunge look. Do we really know what makes them laugh, cry, smile?

And who could tell if this person might have the perfect idea to fill in a gap of your story until you discover all the above?

The Internet has brought men and women in contact with each other from around the world, yet we sometimes walk on eggshells as we pen an email for fear the tone is misunderstood.

What would happen if you discovered another writer, with similar interests lived in reasonable range to your home? Imagine how this friendship could spark something in your writing.

I've mentioned in a past post the amazing friendship between C.S. Lewis and J.R. R.Tolkien. They met nearly every night in a pub in the UK to crit each other's manuscripts. If you've read both of their works have you found the similarities? They both use a horn, they both used the same name of a city: Lewis for his giants and Tolkien for his rock city. They also sharpened each other's words.

Organizations like ACFW have formed local chapters. In Montana mini groups within those chapters meet weekly at coffee houses to brainstorm and crit.

So....the Writers Alley gals, affectionately called Alley Cats, decided to use this same idea to push our writing and friendships to a deeper level. 

Our common goal is to take another step forward on the writing journey, to deepen our relationship with Christ, to hold each other up as life rains and shines, to minister to others on the journey, and to share our stories with a world in need.

This coming Friday, the Alley Cats will gather at Angie's. Three via Skype. The time will be too short. The minutes precious. The memories strengthening, as  gathering time should be.

Is there a way you could meet with someone or a small group? Spend a portion or a whole day with them? Ask around. There is a bulletin board at my local coffee shop and one at my library. Notes are attached for meetings, concerts, etc. Perhaps you could find someone there. Bring an agenda, notepad, scenes from your manuscript, camera, and chocolate and prepare to become a successful writer. 

Go ahead. Give it a whirl. You just might like it:)

photos above courtesy of Renee Smith

This blog post is by Mary Vee

Mary has moved to Michigan with her husband, closer to her three college kids. She misses the mountains of Montana, but loves seeing family more often. She writes contemporary and romance Christian fiction with a focus on the homeless population and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids.

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