• Writerly Wednesdays

    Fuel the Writer: Confidence from a Conference

    I know someone who finished a manuscript and shared the premise with me. “Isn’t that the best book you’ve ever heard about?” I read the Optimist’s first chapter and, well…not so much. I know someone who finished a manuscript and shared the premise with me. “I know it’s not very good, but I wrote it and decided it would be a shame if no one read it, so could you maybe take a peek at the first chapter? You will probably loathe it, though. Detest it. Abhor it.” I read the walking Thesaurus’s entire manuscript and couldn’t put it down. Both kinds of people were looking for feedback, and both…

  • Writerly Wednesdays

    Build the Heart of a Writer

    On my property is a miniature barn. In the darkest corner, an old chest sits. If someone found the chest, the hinges would creak as they opened the lid. Inside are stacks of papers. Each document is covered in secret codes. Except they’re not codes. That’s my handwriting.  Those pages record the secret paths to publication and writing success, all the information I gathered from writing conferences. In hindsight, the research wasn’t a hidden path, and the information didn’t give me writing success. I needed the information for context and scope. Through the conferences, I learned the language of the publishers. So, what is the secret to publication? What is your journey…

  • Writerly Wednesdays

    The Truth About Authors’ Characters

    We’re writers, so, characters are important. In fact, our characters are so real that our spouses are jealous, parents are confused, children are impatient, and siblings avoid us in the hallway. Characters hold immense significance. However, it’s crucial not to overlook the absurdity of our situation. Our imaginary friends, while captivating, should not overshadow our real relationships, which are equally, if not more, important.  Here are a few practical tips for managing the coexistence of the real and imaginary worlds within your mind. Stay calm, especially when you’ve had a eureka moment for your character. Jumping up in a church missions meeting and yelling, “So that’s why your promiscuous behavior…

  • Writerly Wednesdays

    Real Cowboys Don’t Share

    In the early days of ICW, my first novel attempt included a scene where two cowboys met in a café. They each ordered coffee but decided they didn’t need a whole cinnamon roll, so they split one. Peter Leavell’s pithy reaction? Real cowboys don’t share cinnamon rolls!!! Years later, that line still makes me laugh. But there you have it—six words that explain why we writers need critique groups. Thanks to my husband’s job transfers, I’ve participated in several critique groups around the West. I’ve reviewed all kinds of raw writing and submitted my share. In the midst of the good, the bad and the ugly—my submissions included—I have learned…

  • Writerly Wednesdays

    Envy: Destroyer of Worlds

    The writer’s journey is an individual path. Comparing your career to other writers is dangerous because envy creeps into your heart and threatens to hold you back. Here are three warnings and three points of encouragement as you travel your writing path. Don’t:1.  Compare careers. Writing journeys vary. Your unique experience is yours alone, and your trials and circumstances show in your work, creating a work of passion that only one person could write—you. Comparisons are entirely fruitless, for if the experience is different, then the outcomes must be distinct. Of course, you will have different characters and stories, a unique book cover that doesn’t look like theirs, and various fans.…

  • Writerly Wednesdays

    Show and Tell in Your Novel

    In our novels, we share forbidden secrets and mists of the heart. How? My best friend from high school, Brandon, lived five miles from my house. He was considered a bit of a loose cannon, and his exploits are legendary in my family. His car, The Blue Beast, was as famous as he is. When he opened his car door (the lock didn’t need a key) and turned the ignition (which also didn’t need a key), we could hear the engine roar from our house. One night, I hosted a sleepover, and as young men are wont to do, we craved food at 2:00 AM. Brandon and my brother decided…

  • Writerly Wednesdays

    Grammar Police: You are Under a Rest

    What if there were grammar police? Imagine having a bench warrant for your arrest based on the syntax you murdered in your Facebook post. Perhaps you robbed the preposition store because you couldn’t afford a direct object? Or worse, you played Hallmark cards and cheated using a split infinitive. The rules are in place for a reason. There is a minimum expectation that you will understand what I write. The entire enterprise is pounded into our brains, starting with some must-watch viewing: Sesame Street. This blog is brought to you by the letter W and the number 6. When we follow the rules, our idea or story is clear. Stephen…

  • Writerly Wednesdays

    Historical Novels: You Can Write One!

    Epic historical fiction comes in many shapes and is usually the same size—long. They are challenging to write, and many readers find the genre an acquired taste. But what sets aside these tomes of sagacity from other categories? And can you find them in the Christian market? Let’s take a moment and define epic historical fiction. The novel is about crises. Society cannot tolerate disorder, so we give power to specific groups of people so that order can be reached and maintained. In other words, in the United States, we vote for a president and give the person the power to send off our armies or write a check to…

  • Monday Meditations

    Move On, Dear Writer

    Recently, I listened to a masterclass from author Dan Brown. He mentioned you can get to a point in the editing process where you edit out the “magic” from the first few drafts. The excitement, and the fire—the thing that made the story special. Similarly, I once heard in a class from Robin Lee Hatcher (February 2024 Monthly Meeting Speaker!) that there comes a point when you need to stop researching your historical and write it. Because you can research forever… especially if, like her, you enjoy research. Participants in critique groups can polish the first 30% of their story for years, even a decade, but never finish a manuscript.…