Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Tipful Tuesday: C.S. Lewis

Besides the quote featured, C.S. Lewis has another quote that talks about like-minded friendship, how, you know the beginning of friendship when you suddenly realize common ground. What better common ground than "I write", and what bonus my friendships seemed to be when I started looking for a contract. But, oh, they are so much more than a bonus. This quote resonated with me today:
"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which gave value to survival." C.S. Lewis
I just spent a writing weekend with some of my fellow Alley Cats. There is something about spending a writing weekend with ladies who I only see once a year, or maybe even less than that, and connecting within the first five minutes of reunion.Thankfully, we have the internet these days, because I know them and they know me, even if we never cross paths in everyday life.
On this writing journey of triumphs, failures, rejections, and doubts, I would have hardly survived without my friendships. I'd say this first and foremost--the value of my survival is only as great as the friendships that have seen me through. I don't "need" them to write a good story or send in a proposal, but to survive the road without them? Not even sure if it would be worth it. They make the survival tolerable...more than that...valuable. 
If you are just starting out on this journey toward publication, be sure to connect to a writing group. And don't just go to be known and get your edge on that next step, go to find friendship and community. Your survival will be a valuable one. 
Angie Dicken credits her love of story to reading British literature during life as a military kid in Cambridgeshire, England. Now living in the U.S., she's an ACFW member, a blog contributor to the Writer's Alley, a baseball mom, and a self-proclaimed foodie. Two of her historical romance novels comprise her Fall 2017 debut: The Outlaws Second Chance, Love Inspired Historical, and My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah, Barbour. 

Connect with Angie at www.angiedicken.com

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Writerly Links of Late

Here are my open tabs to read/do/make/listen to this week. 

  • Our friend Mary Weber is doing something AMAZING with her latest book's presale. Read more here

What's helped or inspired you lately? Please share with us in the comments!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Tipful Tuesday-Francine Rivers

Days are booked by the second it seems. We rush here and rush there. We barely have time to work out questions we wrestle with, important questions that are unique to us. Only God's word and meditation can help us through this time. 

The same principle is used when writing solid stories. One of the reasons why Francine Rivers' stories are so compelling is because they dig deep into thee heart wrenching issues. She pours every dimension of feeling into every word and directs characters the way she herself was. Readers can't help but feel impacted by her stories. 

Why is this?

Because she starts her work by spending time in personal Bible study. In addition to her own need to be fed by God, she sets her writing projects to center on a question she wrestles with. Studying the Bible is essential to her writing. "And God gives me the scriptures, daily that speak to the question with which I am struggling." Rivers.

What questions are you struggling with today? Pray and ask God for the Scriptures that will guide you to His wisdom. Then, use this in your story. Better yet, center the story around this issue like Francine. THIS is how to become a successful writer/author.

Photo by Mary Vee

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The Author's Most Important Job

What is an author's most important job? To sit down every day and put words on the page? To pen beautiful prose that makes the heart sing? Or how about to edit and rewrite until your story bursts with life?

Those are all great jobs of a writer, true, but there is one job that surpasses in its importance.

I attended the Dallas/Fort Worth chapter of ACFW this past weekend and we were asked a couple of questions that really made me think.

Who is your reader? - and - Do you love your reader?

This gave me pause. Do I even know who my reader is? I write historical romance so I assume my reader is middle age to older women. Okay, so then what?

How do you love your reader? If my readers are mid-to-older women, then many of them will be married or have been married. Many will have children or grand-children. They probably value you family. Since they are older, they may long for romance or and the spark of first love that they have experienced in the past.

Do I love these women? Does my heart ache to give them stories that can bring hope and joy in the midst of daily life? Do I want to share the truths of God's kingdom with these women who might need to be encouraged in their faith? Does my heart yearn to give them a story that was co-written by God?

This is something I haven't thought about before...loving the reader.

I've read The Story of With by Allen Arnold and it is a book that encourages the reader to come to a place where you co-write with God. This is a place where you have become so intimate with Him that He speaks into your creativity and emboldens you to write the story He has for you to write. It's the journey with Him that matters, not the final outcome  -  though if you are co-writing with Him, then it is sure to be a great story!

I understand this idea of partnering with God, but loving the reader and pouring your heart out for them? It's a new concept for me and one that is rather hard for me to grasp. But what a beautiful thing it would be to love God enough to co-write a story with Him, and then love the reader enough to write what they need.

Love God and love others...the greatest job of a writer.

You can see how tapestry woven by threads of love - for God and for your readers - would create a masterpiece of beauty, goodness, and love.

What about you? Have you ever thought about loving the reader being something of importance to your writing? 

*Photo credit: StockSnap at Pixabay

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tipful Tuesday: Charlotte Bronte

Life is bulldozing its way across my timeline and I am clutching my knees trying to gather some breath. What in the world am I thinking--trying to squeeze writing time into my real time of pouring into a family? How can I be so selfish?

What I have come to find though, is that it's not a selfish act at all. It's a sure way to sort out myself. It's an outpour of my heart, mangled as it might be with hammered-in expectations, missteps, and questions, and doubts. Especially because of my life's craze, writing is inevitable. When my shoulders are heavy with the stuff of living, my words just pour out as a sure way of peace to my soul. I don't write because I always want to. I write because I need to. I write because I cannot help it. Thank you to my favorite author, Ms. Bronte, for giving me words for my word lifestyle.

Have you ever felt like writing was the only sure next step, even amidst the busyness?

Join us every Tuesday at www.facebook.com/thewritersalleyblog for #TipfulTuesday

Angie Dicken credits her love of story to reading British literature during life as a military kid in Cambridgeshire, England. Now living in the U.S., she's an ACFW member, a blog contributor to the Writer's Alley, a baseball mom, and a self-proclaimed foodie. Two of her historical romance novels comprise her Fall 2017 debut: The Outlaws Second Chance, Love Inspired Historical, and My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah, Barbour. 

Connect with Angie at www.angiedicken.com

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Should You Write Time-slip?

Hi, friends! Ashley here. So, a couple years ago now, I got this crazy nudge to try writing my WIP at the time from two different points in history— modern, and Preservation Era Charleston. Now, let me just say, I never in a million years planned to write split-time novels. I just felt like two time periods were the only way to do justice to the story. So I gave it a shot, and low and behold, I found a whole new dynamic in my writing. I STINKING LOVE writing time-slip. So while I’m by no means an expert, today I thought I’d chat with you about a few key things I’ve noticed in successful time-slip stories.

Ever since split-time sort of took off as a trend in CBA, I’ve seen sooooo many people describe their WIP that way. And can I be honest? I love this structure so much that it makes me a little nervous some people are hoping to cash in on it as a trend versus as a framework that really suits their writing style. Meanwhile, others may be sitting back, a little nervous about the idea of writing a storyline outside their comfort zone (whether you’re typical a historical writer or a contemporary one). I know I was in the latter position for a while. What if I couldn’t find my voice in both time periods?

So, how do you know if your story may be suited for time-slip?

Here are a few questions to ask.

1) Does the plot contain complex secrets that span decades? If so, your story maybe suited for time-slip. The structure tends to work very, very well when a big event or secret in the past can become a catalyst for the modern storyline. Think The Butterfly and The Violin, for example. If the story itself doesn’t organically span those periods of time, you may not need the secondary time period.

2) Does the story NEED two time periods to be told well? Think This Is Us— but try to do it without crying 😂 — for the story to be effective, we must see the then-and-now growth of the characters. If the story was completely set when the family on the show is still young, think of all we would miss. If, on the other hand, the bulk of your story all happens in one time period, then split-time may not be for you. Write the story when and where the STORY needs to happen, rather than worrying over forcing it into a particular framework.

3) Do my characters in the two periods learn something from each other? The beauty of split-time novels is the coming-together-ness of persons across time (and perhaps even across cultures). Readers crave growth in your modern characters— ideally, a growth that comes from the lessons of the past. And isn’t it beautiful when a past we thought gone rises up to tell its story? Can you tell how much I love this? 😂 There’s something so redemptive at stake in the process.

4) Is my portrayal of one time period stronger than the other? On the one hand, the obvious answer is WELL YEAH because we all have a natural bend and passion that comes through in our writing voice. But if your critique partners/reader friends/gut instincts are all telling you that one portion of the story is by far stronger, consider whether or not that’s where the REAL story is happening, and whether you should stick to that timeframe. Do consider that it’s important to hear from other people... I was absolutely convinced my historical threads were lacking because I’m such a fish out of water when it comes to historical, but to my shock, everyone who’s read my WIP has told me the historical part was their favorite! So, an insecurity on your part does not necessarily equal an inadequacy.

I hope these questions help you work through whether split-time is write for your novel! It’s such a really cool structure to read and to write when used effectively, and I hope to see a lot more of it in CBA. If you’ve never read split-time before, I’d recommend you start with Kristy Cambron, Rachel Hauck, Susan Meissner, and Heidi Chiavaroli — all of whom are amazing.

Tell me in the comments— what are some of your favorite split time novels?

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.

The Edit Letter: A Writer's Perspective

 This may sound crazy, but I got the best email last month. It was my edit letter on my next book. Delayed Justice will release later in 2018, and I've been on pins and needles since I sent the book in to my publisher and new editor in November. The holidays and life has the edit coming back to me now.

An edit letter.

Opening them can be nerve-wrecking.

Has my editor decided she should never have wanted to work with me? Has she discovered I can't write after all? Does the plot stink? Are the characters weak? Is there anything we can salvage in this story?

It's so easy to let my internal worrier take off and leave me with knots in my stomach. I've learned though to take a deep breath and try to adopt my friend Colleen Coble's approach.

Edits are great. They are a chance to make my story stronger. To put the characters and plot in the strongest position possible before I turn them over to you, my readers. It's a time to pull out deeper themes and threads. To dig deep for the gold that's lying hidden in the pages and words.

And isn't Delayed Justice's cover amazing? I think it's the best I've had yet with the Hidden Justice series. They've all been good, but this one pops!

Do you have questions about the writing life? If so, let me know! I'd love to answer your questions in future posts!