Thursday, February 21, 2019

Reading Critically: Grow as a Writer

I am blessed to attend a critique group twice a month with two multi-published, award-winning authors. They take turns sharing words of wisdom about the craft of writing at the beginning of our sessions. This week the topic was on reading to improve your craft, given by the incredible Lynne Gentry. While I knew it was important to read, the tips given opened my eyes to how I can grow as a critical reader. I thought I'd share a few with you.

  1. Read outside of your genre. When you always read the same genre, it is easy to gloss over that unique turn of phrase, the pacing of story, etc. Reading something new makes it easier to see new things that can up your own writing.
  2. Read to find out what you DON'T want to do in your writing. Let's face it. Not everything in a book grabs our attention. Pay attention to what you skim over and make sure you don't do that particular thing in your own story.
  3. When you start to "feel" something, take notice. When your heart races, when you heave a sigh, when you get angry...these are the things that should make you sit up and take notes. What did the author do to inspire such feeling? Whatever it was, incorporate that type of writing in your own story. 
These are just a few ways to grow in reading critically. Can you think of anything to add to the list? What things do you look for while reading to learn?

Sherrinda Ketchersid is a born and bred Texan, preacher’s wife, mother of 4 children, and works part-time as a bookseller at Amazon. With the children grown and out of the house, she weaves tales of fierce knights and their ladies in a time where men were warriors and women had to be strong enough to keep them in check.

After taking time off from writing, she has returned with a new motto in place to spur her on. “Writers write. Everyone else makes excuses.” ~Jack Bickham.  No excuses this time. She is weaving her love of romance with history to bring joy and the hope of love to those who may one day read her stories. Her first book, Lord of Her Heart, releases May 2019.

You can connect with her through:
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Twitter: @sherrinda

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Why Writing Isn't Your Side Hustle

Hi, friends! Before I start today's blog, I have to share that I'm just tickled pink to share a book birthday today with Pepper Basham! Our collection Finding Ever After released about an hour ago, and you can find it here on Amazon. It's so special to me to be sharing my debut novella with three very, very dear friends. I feel like my little story is being hugged between all of theirs! :) Also, PSA - I just started my own newsletter that you can sign up for on my new website if  you want to keep up with me there too.

Happy Valentine's Day to everyone! I hope you all have an extra-sweet holiday this year.

This past week, I've been thinking a lot about what fuels our writing. The Alley Cats chat pretty regularly, and we got on the topic this week. Maybe you ask yourself these questions too - why am I writing? Who am I writing for? What if I'm not making the income I expected? What if I'm making the income, but the rest of it doesn't look how I expected? And so on and so forth. If there's one thing that's for certain about the publishing industry, it's that nothing is for certain.

I have been writing for a long while, and writing has seen me through various stages of life - from newlywed to new mom and everything in between. The constant in it all has been the writing itself and what it offers me as the author. For me, this means fellowship with God. Now, don't misunderstand. I desperately dream of my stories being published. I can't wait to be in conversation and prayer for my own readership. But the hope of readers is not what has sustained me.

In response to faith, God brought life to the barren Sarah. In response to faith, God shielded the fire and silenced the lions. In response to faith, God parted the Red Sea. God's economy is not limited by the proportions and priorities that limit you and me.

We have a tendency to look for validation from 1) the amount of time we give a project, or 2) the financial benefit it offers. But when we do that, we miss out on what I've been calling "manna moments" - those hours or half-hours or maybe even five minute breaks that make our heart sing. In these moments of worshiping God through our gifts, we find what we need to keep going on all other parts of the journey. We become better people, better mothers, better students, better friends. We find direction, purpose, joy, and an outlet. Through the expression of our hearts, we find healing, and it is from this place we can minister more effectively.

So stop thinking of writing as your side hustle. I don't care if you aren't published. I don't care if you have a small advance, or if you've got a three book deal you're only chipping away at during nap time. Your calling matters. Immensely. You've got this.


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 also an active member of ACFW. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her website - and while you're there, be sure to sign up for her newsletter!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

#TipfulTuesday Pen The Words

There are times when a writer's life is oh so difficult, like when we don't have control over our circumstances and the accompanying issues whittle away at our time. 

For me, life in the north during the last week's ice and wind storm stole my focus.
Tree branches snapped under the weight of ice, falling 60' in my yard. In our community, entire trees snapped at the trunk blocking roads and crashing onto homes. We will have to say goodbye to our beautiful tall Elm this summer when the thaw enables us to clean it up.

At the end of our road, a power line broke and started the road on fire. The road was impassible except through dirt backroads barely wide enough for a small vehicle.

I'm thankful for our generator, but is it okay to say the constant, loud grinding sound hurt my ears? Moment by moment, God helped me remember to be thankful for our furnace powered by the generator for the five days. Then, when the generator suddenly broke, God stayed with us. Ice had clogged the system. Thirty minutes after the furnace stopped, our power was restored. I am so very thankful. 

One extreme benefit of story is that it allows writers to place characters in difficult situations. Readers who have endured similar circumstances see the joy in our characters when at last triumph rules over tragedy. Stories build hope and reassurance deep within that is so strong readers say: I can and will experience joy someday. Don't you love hearing the testimonials? 

The story that God has impressed upon your heart is destined to help a reader. 

No matter your circumstances, don't give up. Find a way to pen the words.

~Mary Vee Writer
Photo by Mary Vee
Link to Mary's books:

#TipfulTuesdayMary Vee Mystery/Suspense Writer#hope #amwriting #TheWritersAlley #Story

Mary Vee -  Mary Vee - Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, earned her MA in Counseling, and married an Air Force vet.  Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.
Visit Mary at her websiteblog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter