Friday, October 30, 2015

3 Tips For Writing Moms To NaNoWriMo With Success:

Today I'm welcoming special guest and brainstormer extraordinaire, Michelle Lim to The Writer's Alley. Wanting to NaNoWriMo with success? Check out her latest tips (AND) enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post!

National Novel Writing Month is almost here and with it comes the challenge to write a novel in a month. That’s a big enough challenge all by itself, but as a Mom, it is even more difficult.

It’s hard to write 2,000-3,000 words a day while you’re chasing toddlers across the playground, shuttling kids to ball games, and attending band concerts. Then there is the whole hour after everyone goes to bed for you to reconnect with your brain cells.

How can I possibly know what it’s like to be at your house? Because I’ve been at my own with three boys and one girl. No matter how great my kids are it is still difficult to get to everything.

My first year doing NaNoWriMoI chased my own schedule at least two hours behind and a load of guilt on my back. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Show your children that you chase your dreams and let them be part of the adventure.

3 Tips For Writing Moms To NaNoWriMo With Success:

This first tip is age universal:

*Enlist the help of family and friends to schedule a writing session for Saturday and possibly Sunday. Make these fun outings to celebrate a month we chase dreams.

Moms realize that the age of children vastly changes what strategies will work, so the following ideas will be age specific.

Ages Birth - 4 years

*Schedule your writing around naptime. Have everything ready to go before you lay your little one down. Do your brain warm-ups and think about what you will write during that last play time before you put your child to bed.

*Plan sensory activities that are highly stimulating for your child while you bullet point some of the basics for your next scenes. Some sensory activities like whipped cream from their high chair, rice and trucks in a bin, or even pudding and wax paper can be fun.

Age: 5 - 11 years

*Card Making or Postcard Creation to send encouraging mail. Either use the postcards for purchase on Amazon (You can even get them in watercolor painting paper). They can do this activity while you write with soft music playing. When the music is finished they can talk to you again.

*Discovery bin with favorites inside. Either get some new things that your child might delight in playing with, or gather toys plenty before so they feel like new. They can only play in this toy bin during your writing time.

Ages: 12-18

*Quiet activity- reading, writing, or other nonelectronic idea that is quiet. Make it 30min-1 hour a day. On the weekend reward its success with a fun activity with Dad (movies, laser tag, etc.).

*Enlist their friends. Rotate an activity to your house another weekend and then enlist your teenagers friends’ parents to take a rotation during NaNoWriMo.

What NaNoWriMo tips do you have?

Looking for More Idea Sparking Tips? My New Release is just $0.99 on Amazon.

Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month accompanies an author on a thirty-day novel journey. Daily idea prompts assist authors in finding the inspiration to write. With personal experience insights and goal setting reflections, this book is the perfect resource for the writer who wants to write a novel in a month, or the author looking for a resource for their everyday writing journey. What you will find in this incredible resource:

*A weekly inspirational focus to get you ready to write
*Daily Idea Sparks to spark your creativity and get you writing
*Mini writing craft tips that enhance your writing
*Daily Mid-day Milestones with thought-provoking questions to improve writing habits
*Weekly Check-Ups to retune your process to set you up for success


Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s Genesis winning romantic suspense is represented with Books & Such Literary Agency. Michelle’s New Release - Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month releases October 27th. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories. Connect with Michelle as , @MichelleLim24 on Twitter, and Facebook.
Midwest Zone Director for

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

An "Indie" Publishing Glossary

Last year when I first embarked on this indie journey, I was green as could be. I joined groups and heard all these terms and places bantered about, but I had NO clue what any of it meant.

I thought I'd do a bit of a "indie cheat sheet" today to give you a leg up if you ever want to stick your toe into the fast growing indie-publishing sector!

Although, as in all things publishing -- keep in mind that everything is constantly changing and morphing. This list could very well be out-of-date and obsolete in a year or two! But for now, I hope it's helpful!

Indie Author - What IS an indie anyway? It is short for independently published author, basically. It means an author who is their own publisher. They may outsource bits of the process (such as cover design, formatting, editing) but they are the publisher who handles the whole process.

Self-pub Author - Indie authors used to go by this term as well, but most are distinguishing themselves as Indie authors rather than self-pubbed. MOST (not all) people who say they self publish now mean that they went to a publishing company and hired them (and paid a tidy sum) to publish their books. For that fee, the publisher usually handles the cover, sometimes the editing, and coordinates getting the book into the various markets (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc) as well as prints the book. Some authors still use "self pub" and "indie pub" synonymously, though, so it can get confusing!

Hybrid Author - ME! This is what I am -- or aim to be anyway. This is an author who indie (or self) publishes, but also is or intends to publish in the traditional publishing world as well. 

KDP - Kindle Digital Publishing - Amazon's ebook publishing arm. What many indie-published authors use to list their books for sale on Amazon.

KDP Select - NOT to be confused with the above. Select is a extra service you can elect when you publish with KDP. It lists your book in the Kindle Unlimited program, which is to books what Netflix is to movies/shows. The BIG caveot is -- to enroll in KDP select, you must not have your book for sale anywhere besides Amazon, and you must commit to being in the program for 90 days. There are a ton of pluses and minuses to be discussed about the program, but that's for another blog post!

Smashwords - Similar to KDP, but it is a site that will publish your ebook to multiple venues such as Barnes and Noble, ibooks, etc.

D2D or Draft 2 Digital - Smashwords competitor

Nook Press - Barnes and Noble ebook publishing arm similar to KDP

Kobo - ebook/epub site that sells most in nonUS areas, especially Canada and I believe Europe.

POD - Print On Demand - a book printing publisher who prints book as they are ordered instead of large batches. (costs more per book but saves on warehousing/inventory concerns)

Createspace - Amazon's company you can utilize to print/sell paperbacks - a POD printer

Lightning Source - Ingram's POD printer (Createspace's competitor basically)

ENT - Ereader News Today - a fairly economical site (~$30-$50) to advertise your on-sale ebooks that (currently) seems to get fairly decent results.

BookBub - A fairly EXPENSIVE site to advertise your on-sale ebooks that (currently) gets very GOOD results -- but the price is very high ($300-$500+) and it's hard to get excepted. (EDIT: The $300-$500 was an approximate and NOT exact. Some genres are as little as $55 to list a free book -- but most genres are much higher. Christian fiction starts at $210 for a free listing)

Permafree - Listing your book for free on a long-term basis. Not as easy as it sounds! (Amazon doesn't allow you to list for free long-term, but they DO price match, so you basically have to list for free everywhere else and hound Amazon -- and get your friends to hound them -- to price match.) Authors use freebies to gain new readers to help sell their rest of their books. Lots of mixed opinions on this method.

This is by NO means an all inclusive list, but I thought it would be a good start!

Any other "terms" you've heard that you aren't exactly sure what they mean? Or any indie/hybrid questions I can answer? I don't know it all -- but I'm publishing my third indie book NEXT WEEK so I feel like I'm finally starting to get a hang of this publishing thing!

That said -- look for A (kinda) Country Christmas next week on Amazon, ebook or paperback! OR get it now in the Christmas collection, Love's Gift. (Had to add the plug!!)

Krista is a follower of Jesus, a wife, a mother, and author of Sandwich, With a Side of Romance, A Side of Faith and A Side of Hope. She blogs about finding JOY in the journey of LIFE at She is represented by Sarah Freese of Wordserve Literary.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Radar O'Reilly Writes Again

Last week I read the perfect story to stimulate today's post. I won't give names. No titles. Not a clue about the story. Those details aren't important, because we can all see a bit of ourselves in this topic.

C'mon this is a time to laugh at the writing you used to do...and maybe still slip into every once in a while.

In fact, I'll bring in Radar O'Reilly, company clerk for MASH 4077 (TV show) as our guest to help us enjoy today's ride.

In Episode 15 of season 5, Radar signs up for a writing course to improve himself. He says, "Writers gain respect from those around them."

The first day of his course Radar dives into his new role as a writer with this:

The friendly old sun showed his friendly hot face over the mountains of purple majesty as though he was salutating, "Good morning to all."

When his commanding officer calls him under for toying with the military form, Radar says he was adding self-expression to the duty log.

Aha. The key. Adding self-expression. The old author intrusion with a heavy dash of purple prose issue. 

Author intrusion: When we Alice-In-Wonderland ourselves into the story to explain components the reader might miss. After all, readers like to see behind the Wizard of Oz's curtain, right? They might miss the hidden point if we don't. 

Purple prose: The reader may not picture the scene clearly without the added adjectives and adverbs. We're only trying to make the story easier for the reader to see with these clarifying words.

Best rule: strong words/sentences/paragraphs do not need the help of clarifiers to paint a 3D story.

CHALLENGE # 1 How would you help Radar rewrite his sunrise sentence?

Before heading off to bed, Radar finishes the daily log this way:

The sun in its crimson radiance bids a crepuscular adieu to another day.

He asks his commanding officer what he thought of the writing. 
The colonel says he doesn't like it because it sounds like Radar "swallowed a dictionary."

Radar replies,"I'm adding muscle to my vocabulary."

Aha. Another key. Trying to impress with fancy words. 

The perfect word choice: is the word most commonly used in the situation. A reader wants to sit back with a cup of his favorite beverage and enjoy a great read. There are no dictionary apps open on his phone, neither is there a hard copy sitting on his night stand. He wants to be engaged in the story, running with the MC, and yelling at them when they makes the wrong turn. There isn't time to look up a word.

To help a reader deep sea dive into a good story use only the natural word choice. No additives.

CHALLENGE # 2 How would you help Radar rewrite his sunset sentence using natural words?

As a newbie writer I became frustrated after reading a judges crit. She felt I should focus on writing tight. I remember thinking...this judge is so picky. Every word was necessary. How can anyone write a story longer than 40 words if they trim all the words critique partners and judges say. They just don't understand my story.

Um. No. 

I didn't understand my story.

Photo Courtesy

Radar would like to leave you with one more challenge. Care to help him with this one?

The Chinese were giving up in hordes. The vainglorious corporal ran like a bird and sped off in quest of Chinese giver-uppers.

Simplistically yours, 
Walter "Radar" O'Reilly

Points to remember:
1. Use only words that move the story along.
2. Use natural words.
3. Put adjectives and adverbs on a diet. 
4. Be yourself. Fancy words do not impress.

Caveat - There are times when a pompous character is giving a glorious speech, when this over the top writing is not only expected--but required. (nose high in the air)
Care to take a peek at your last written scene? How did you do?

What questions do you have?

How can we help you?

I can't wait to read your comment(s)
and see how you would help Radar!

 Opening photo by Mary Vee

If you found any typos in today's post...sorry about that. 

Mary writes young adult mystery/suspense Christian fiction, is honing marketing and writing skills, and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids. She has finaled in several writing contests.

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

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

How I'm "Cheating" at #NaNoWriMo But Really Winning

National Novel Writing Month begins in a few days! Are you ready? I have been reading alllll the articles and resources to prepare, and I made a pretty neat little outline of scenes and designed a planner to increase my chances for success. 

New work schedule and kids on sleep strike or not, this NaNo flunkie was going to win this time. 


I had an opportunity come up for the beginning of November that deserves my full creative energy. So my NaNoWriMo aspirations will look a little different this year. Even if it means cheating. 

The rules of NaNoWriMo are finite. 50,000 words on one new project between November 1-30. No intentionally padding words by doing things like naming your character John Jacob Jingelheimer Schmidt or spelling out every contraction. I'm sure there are more, but those are the main ones.

Even though the title of this post was a major spoiler alert, here is my confession: I'm going to be breaking almost every single one of those rules.
  • My primary project isn't new. It's a story that I started writing last year and had to put on hold.
  • Yep. I said "primary." As in, there are two projects I'll be dividing the 50,000 words between.
  • My 30 days won't take place between November 1-30. And this is okay. All of this is okay.
I think the true heart of the official NaNoWriMo rules are getting 50,000 words on the page and not padding them. No one is doing herself any favors by writing an extra 2,000 or 15,000 words that will eventually be deleted. I can give up before I start, knowing I could never win by their standards. That I'm a historically slow writer who's never been able to turn off her internal editor anyway. That no one in her right mind would step into rush-hour traffic at the corner of New Work Projects and Kids on Nap Strike.

Or I can give life to new words at a time when it would be great for me to re-establish a consistent writing habit. To fight for my work and art when there are lots of real-life distractions that make it easy to save it for tomorrow...every day. To learn more about myself and my stories through what will probably be a trying experience. 

I'm hoping that, somewhere in the middle of these 50,000 words, I can finish the first draft of a manuscript that's on my heart and get in some good work on a new one. But whether it's one word or 50,000 words at the end of November, I encourage you to join me in setting aside time to write every day. Let's end the year strong with glorious new habits and beautiful new words and see what we can do! 

Well? Are you up for it? You're welcome to click here to download my free 30-day NaNoWriMo planner!

Laurie Tomlinson is a wife and mom from Tulsa, Oklahoma, who is passionate about intentional living, all things color-coded, and stories of grace in the beautiful mess. Previously a full-time book publicist, she owns a freelance copywriting, editing, and PR consulting business called 1624 Communications

She's a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a two-time Genesis Award winner, and the runner-up in the 2015 Lone Star Contest's Inspirational category. 
Her work is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary.

You can connect with Laurie here:
Twitter - @LaurieTomlinson

Monday, October 26, 2015

Surviving Writing Contests

I started entering writing contests in April 2009 and within the past (almost) 6 years, I’ve filled out about twenty-five different contest forms. Some responses were good. Some were not. And some just hurt me like  a kick to the gut.

But like a masochist, I sent out more.

What have a learned through this process?

Becoming a published author is not for the faint of heart!

These critiques built my endurance, toughened my hide, and helped prepare me for the tougher critiques, edits, and reviews ahead. It was kind of like those Braxton Hicks contractions before labor. Either they help your body prepare for the massive pain of childbirth, or they give you a false sense of security about how little pain you are going to have :-)

Critiques are a bit of a litmus test to your writing readiness – and the more I expose myself to the instructive critique of others, the more I prepare my heart for the publishing world.

Ciphering out truth is a wonderful teaching tool.

After the initial shock and near-trauma, digging through those critiques for truthful nuggets of insight can make you a better writer. I saw patterns of bad writing habits, I’d never seen before. One critique said my heroine wasn’t likeable (gasp) – so I broke apart the character to figure out what might bring her more to ‘life’.

Those comments made me reevaulate my story – and make it STRONGER!!

Fact and Opinion are NOT the same thing

Judges are people too. They have a favorite genre they write or read, varying perspectives, and personal opinions. All of those things play a part in the critiques they give. Weeding through the comments to find what areas you might need to work on is a big deal – especially if you want to grow as a writer.

I’ve found that if more than one judge mentions the same thing, then maybe I should take a honest look at that particular piece of my story. But if only one judge makes a comment, which seems more renegade to me, then I’ll read what they have to say – measure it against the other comments and my own understandings, check with a crit partner, then make a decision from there. Some things are fact, but some things are opinion. I am the one (or my editor) who has the final say.

Purpose matters

Why do we enter contests? The answer to that question really  makes a difference on what you’ll get out of them. If it’s to win that cute little pendant…well, that’s certainly something.
If it’s to be published –  that’s a BIG goal, but in all actuality publication through contest entry is not in high percentages. But…
entering contest to get your manuscript in front of editor is still a FABULOUS idea – and gives your name exposure.

 If it’s to learn and grow as a writer- you’ll almost always achieve this goal from contests.
I want to become a better writer. Contests have helped do that in so many ways. I’ve won a few along the way, but the best part has been the process of improvement from my first comments to the ones I’m expecting at the end of this month.

Laughing at myself, or not taking myself too seriously is an important goal

Yes, we send our precious little stories out into a cruel world – but no one forces us to. My granny used to say “Advice not asked for is advice not wanted.” – but when we enter a contest, we’re basically ASKING for advice. It may not always come in the form we expect, but we can learn from many of the comments we receive (not all).

And having a good attitude about it, PLUS placing the whole situation into perspective helps. I had to do this so I wouldn’t keep getting upset about the comments. This is one small piece of your writing in one very small part of your life.  Laughing, learning, and looking ahead help manage the disappointment that negative comments can bring (plus LOADS of good chocolate – NEVER underestimate the power of very good chocolate)

What have you learned from entering contests? How have you grown as a writer?

Pepper Basham is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she is the mom of 5 great kids, speech-pathologist to about fifty more, lover of chocolate, jazz, and Jesus, and proud AlleyCat over at a group writing blog, The Writer’s Alley. Her debut historical romance novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in May 2015, with the second arriving in February 2016. Her first contemporary romance debuts in spring 2016. You can connect with Pepper on her website at, Facebook- or Twitter at

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

It's Not Too Late

This week, I was thinking about Sarah, and how she wanted to have a baby so badly. We see God's promise to her in Genesis 18:10-15:

"Then one of them said, 'I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.

Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, 'After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?'

Then the Lord said to Abraham, 'Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Will I really have a child, now that I am old?' Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.'

Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, 'I did not laugh.'

But he said, 'Yes, you did laugh.'"

Sometimes when I read this passage, I want to have a little heart-to-heart and say, "Sarah, what were you thinking? God himself appeared before you, spoke to you, and gave you this promise. Why didn't you believe Him? Why did you think it was too good to be true? Why did you laugh, trying to protect yourself from the promises of God?

And yet, I look to myself as I say these words, and I have to repeat them. "Ashley, what are you thinking? God has appeared to you, spoken to you, and given you a promise. Why don't you believe Him? Why do you think it is too good to be true? Why do you laugh, trying to protect yourself from the promises of God?"

Can I get an "amen?" :)

Three chapters later, we see this beautiful verse:

"Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him."

I believe that someone reading this post today needs to hear that God has not forgotten His promise to you in this writing journey, and He will fulfill what He has called you to. Like Sarah, maybe you feel like it's taking too long. Maybe you've grown disheartened. Maybe you feel like the wait has been a cruel joke.

Honey, I understand. I've been at this a long time, and I honestly thought publication would happen by now. Can we just get real about that? When we get our expectations high, and then, like Sarah, the years go ticking by, and eventually, we're no longer even of "childbearing age"... well, the doubts begin to stir.

Doubts like, "Did I even hear you, God? Or did I make up this calling?" "Have I done something wrong to keep my dreams at bay?" "Did you forget your promises to me, God?" and, like a child on a road trip... "How. Much. Longer."

But amazingly, God is not late in fulfilling His promise. Did you catch that in Isaac's story? The Bible says that the child came at the very time God had promised. Wow. I'm reminded of the verse in Ruth that says, "Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?"

Friends, God has not forgotten you. He has not taken a break from your life. He is at work even now, establishing your "royal position" for the time He has prepared for you. Do not despise the day of small beginnings. Do not forget that before a baby may be born, a pregnancy must be endured. A woman must labor with the pain and fatigue of impending, life-altering joy.

In other words, before the promise may be fulfilled, it must be fed. It must grow, and grow strong within our hearts. And on that sweet birthing day, we will look back at all the ways God has been preparing us all along.

You may feel like Sarah today. Old. Forgotten. Weary of the waiting. Doubtful.

That's okay.

Because God is in the business of life-giving when our dreams run stagnant. Trust His promises to you, and pray for His breath in your writing dreams.

It's never too late.


Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's 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 blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.

A Writer's Survival Guide. 5 Tips

Writing is a dream job, but it's not an easy job. We've all read the quote about how writing it like opening a vein and bleeding onto the page. Easy peasy, right?

Not in the back and forth of real life.

Real life with its interruptions, challenges, and just plain work. So what's a writer to do when life is just plain making you live in a frazzled daze? I don't have it all figured out. But as I write book 22 and edit book 21 while plotting book 23, I have a few suggestions and tips that I hope will help you on your writing journey.

  1. Join a circus. No, seriously, learn how to juggle. One of the things I do is cart my laptop around with me when I think I can grab even 30 minutes to work. I've learned that sometimes the quick bursts can be more productive because I understand just how precious the time is. And if there's no internet? Even better! That means fewer online distractions.
  2. Look for ways to delegate. Are there things that someone else can help with? At one point in our family that was getting my kids to start helping with chores each week. We've slid away from that, and life feels more chaotic. Hmm, maybe it's time to reemphasize the help around the house. Hate doing the email newsletter all the publishers want to see? Then see about hiring a virtual assistant to help take the ouch out of creating it. It doesn't have to cost a lot, but just removing a couple things from your mental to-do list can be very helpful and create space for writing.
  3. Take a Break. Yes, I actually typed "take a break." Sometimes the well has simply run dry, and we're forcing words that we know are terrible. Worse yet, we're staring at a blank screen and beating ourselves up for not being able to force words onto the screen. So go grab a movie, read a book, take a walk. Do something other than writing and take care of yourself. I'm learning this is a critical piece of surviving the process of writing.
  4. Fall in love with your story and characters. Some books are a job. They simply are. But if you can rediscover the reason you decided to write the book in the first place, it can help reignite the joy in the writing process. Reread what you've written. Write a page of journaling for your character. Rehear his or her voice and passion. Before long, you'll be itching to get back to the keyboard and their story.
  5. Invite God back into the process of writing. Sometimes in the stress of writing and deadlines (even the self-imposed ones) it's so easy to lose sight of the Giver of the gift and call. I have truly felt God's joy as I've partnered with Him in writing a story. And when that piece is missing? I want to quit. So if the stress and strain is draining you, turn the whole process, story, and characters back over to Him. If He's called you to write, He will equip you!
As I've been dealing with the stress of lingering boxes and distractions, I uncovered a box of writing books. In the box was one I enjoyed, but need to pass on to someone wondering how to have a career as a novelist. All you have to do is use the rafflecopter form below to be entered to receive the copy of Don Maas' book. Good luck!

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Influence is to be Stewarded

Influence and impact. Two words that should be on our radar.

As Christian writers, we long to influence others for Christ.

The Bible speaks to the power others have in our lives and we have in theirs.

Our writing is one way we can allow God to use us to bring hope to a hurting world, to spur others on in their walk of faith, and witness to the power of the transformation of the Gospel.

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.-Proverbs 27:17

I find that God uses my own writing process and progress as a vital part of my own teach me, humble me, and show what's in my heart.

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. -Proverbs 9:9

I believe God desires us to grow in all facets of our lives. Since we want God to be able to use us, knowing he CHOOSES to even though we have nothing of merit to give Him.

He wants us to make an impact in a world that is full. Stuffed with self. Overflowing with pleasures that don't satisfy. Because he is living water and because we have dipped our tin cup into the well

So I was intrigued by the premise of Michael Hyatt's online webinar series, The Influence and Impact Summit. If you head here you can get a free teaching on Five Stages of Platform Growth.

If you don't know about Michael Hyatt, you certainly should. The former CEO of Thomas Nelson, he is a sought after speaker and writes a highly trafficked blog about growing your platform and using it for good. Platform is a fantastic read!

I didn't have time to listen to all the sessions from Michael Hyatt's Summit but LOVED the advice I found from so much of it. Here are a few highlights for me.

JEN HATMAKER is the author of For the Love and several other Christian nonfiction bestsellers. She will be taking over the Women of Faith organization in 2016 and her family stars on a reality TV show on the Home Garden network.

Hatmaker says, "Influence is not even simply to be enjoyed. Its to be stewarded.”

Love it. We should be making His name famous. Let us not get haughty about numbers, but remember to take seriously our calling.

“You have to care about the audience you’re trying to reach.”

Who is your audience? God has uniquely positioned you to serve a specific group of people. Ask Him to give you a heart for them. I love writing for moms because our struggles and needs are common. Who has God given you a special love for?

Jen wrote her first book in 2004. Why? Because she had something to say. Sometimes, that's enough. She always loved writing but her vision wasn't big enough to think she could make a career of it.

It took Jen one month to figure out what a book proposal was...I'll bet some of us can relate. Then she left her first conference with offers for her book. It was a tiny foothold, but a slip of a door opening nonetheless.

Jen said she wrote a lot of books that no one read. Yet, she claims, it helped her find her voice and practice in a low-stakes environment.

Are we forgetting the power of small? Just as God often grows us in small steps as we walk forth in obedience, a small publishing company or indie publishing could be the way God intends for our writing growth.

Some of my favorite words were: "Humility is the bedrock of the inflection points. Years of humility built through hard work develop a capacity for rejection and instruction."

Hard work. Not the glory moments built her career but the thousands of hours of practice built up over time to write books few people read. To grow her craft word by word, page by page.

Sometimes I think we put in the hard work and then we are shocked when a critique partner might find our pages less than stellar. I love her words about letting humility through the years of hard work helping us to be more receptive.

Receptive to rejection, knowing it is a tool for God's glory to produce growth in us that often doesn't come through the praise of man. Listening to instruction, believing we don't know it all. Ready to learn at the feet of others.

Learning to listen to criticism developed Jen's character.

"Don’t forget readers are real people with real problems, thoughts, passions, etc. Lead with honesty and integrity, humor and goodness."

What do you struggle with? Most likely your readers do, too. If we lead out in a way that is real, we don't have to worry about appealing to readers. We are simply being who God created us as.

Jen also shares that we need to get help. We all have weaknesses. Find those who can help with what you aren't good at. For you that might be writing a synopsis, or managing your social media. You can find help in all of these areas. Perhaps it is worth investing money in an area that is particularly troublesome to you.

She discusses putting a lower priority on our self-preservation. I think we often spend too much time worrying about our reputation, whether its writing our opinion on a controversial subject on social media or giving a less-than-stellar review to another author's book.

I'm not saying there isn't a place for tact, kindness, and love. Some things are best left unsaid, especially in the online world, but we can also err in the other direction. We spend more time on what our mythical audience might think, losing our own authenticity in the process.

Part of leadership Jen shares is letting our skin grow thicker. Being almost embarrassingly transparent. I know in my own life the more open I am with those I love the closer I grow to the Lord and to those he's placed in my path.

We're not in control of the outcome, we can't control what people will say about us. I have seen in my own writing life, even with something as simple as a blog post, the more transparent I am the greater my ability to minister. It takes being honest about the mess my own soul can get in. Knowing that we are not alone and pointing others to the only One who can transform us.

Lastly, for those who feel discouraged by the writing environment you find yourselves in: "There is always room for another one at the table. If you have something to say and excel in your niche, there is room for you. Others will cheer you! Don’t let scarcity rule your mindset."

Don't be afraid. There's room for you and me at the table. Say the words God has put into your heart. Work hard at your craft and grow. Don't worry about others or what the market might think. Write your words as only you can say them.

Julia Reffner lives in central Virginia where she enjoys freelance writing and reviewing. As a reviewer and writer for LIBRARY JOURNAL she enjoys chronicling the trends in Christian fiction. She also blogs for Wonderfully Woven.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Ghosts of Rejections Past: Guest Post by Patricia Beal

**Please welcome back Patricia Beal to the Alley. I had the pleasure of meeting her in person at this year's conference! She is an amazing person and shares some powerful encouragement with us today!-- Angie**
It’s been a month since the ACFW 2015 conference. I spent the first week post conference editing, and by the end of September my agent and I had submitted all we were asked to submit.
Now we wait.
And wait.
I’m horrible at waiting. I can manage to stay positive for about two weeks, but after that the ghosts or rejections past tend to take over, and I start expecting the worst. I take my eyes off Jesus, look at the waves, and sink fast.
Victim of Grace by Robin Jones Gunn
In her book Victim of Grace, author Robin Jones Gunn writes about her journey to publication and her life as an author. She says that the consistent rejection from publishers was demoralizing—an exercise in defeat. She almost quit. Psalm 102:18 kept her going: “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD.” She was pregnant with her second child when that verse spoke to her heart.  
Here’s the bottom line: Rejection is painful, but God will get you through it if you’ll let Him.
Put your writing out there.
Submit even if rejection hurts.
In the movie “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” famous photographer and womanizer Connor Mead is a Scrooge-like character in dire need of transformation. After ruining his little brother’s wedding weekend, he tries to keep the bride-to-be from running away: “It doesn't mean that you're never going to get hurt, but the pain you feel will never compare to the regret that comes from walking away from love. And from someone who's felt a lot of both, trust me, pain beats regret every day of the week and twice on Sunday. Don't run away. Don't do it.”
Don’t walk away from love. Don’t walk away from writing. Don’t walk away from trusting God’s calling. Pain beats regret. Submit.
And I’ll suggest something even better…
Have a healthier relationship with the pain of rejection.
Remember the story of Jacob wrestling with God in Genesis 32?
What does God do before blessing Jacob (self-reliant, self-seeking) and naming him Israel (prince, powerful with God)? God touches the hollow of Jacob’s thigh. The hollow of Jacob’s thigh was now out of joint. Jacob would be forever weakened by that injury. God saps strength out of Jacob. He breaks Jacob of Jacob.
God grew him by making him weak. He grew Peter by making him weak (let the devil sift him as wheat). He grew Paul by making him weak (didn’t remove the thorn in the flesh).
What does God tell Paul about the thorn in the flesh? “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” How does Paul respond? “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Our trials are making us weak and loosening us from the shackles of self-reliance that are holding us back.
We don’t have to despair. Cast yourself at His feet and acknowledge that you can’t do this on your own. He already knows. He wants you to know.
Let’s look at rejections in the proper light.
In light of Jacob’s story (and Peter’s and Paul’s), we can conclude that being weakened is good, so the next time we receive an email from an agent or editor, no matter what it says, it's good news. Either our dream is about to come true, or God is about to make us weaker, thereby freeing us from self-reliance more and taking us closer to a yes through His power.
One is more Facebookable than the other (sigh), but it’s all good news.
Here’s what I’m going to do. Before opening the next agent or editor email, I’ll walk away from the computer and get my mind wrapped around God’s truths and methods first. Then I’ll open the email.
Do you want to do the same thing? If yes, commit to it right now.
If you would like to worship with Sara Evans and “Just a Closer Walk with Thee” click here:
Do you have a different healthy way of dealing with rejection? What is it? Did you quit at some point? Are you there now? Let us encourage you today.
Patricia Beal is a Christian author, Army wife, and ballerina. She writes contemporary fiction and is represented by Leslie Stobbe of the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency. She’s a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati in 1998 with a B.A. in English Literature and then worked as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army for seven years. She and her husband live in El Paso, Texas, with their two children.
Patricia is very active online and would love to connect with readers.
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