Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Beth and I are signing off until the new year. When we return in 2008, another writer will be joining us. We are confident you'll enjoy her voice and insight. Together we plan to create a blog that is most beneficial to you as a writer.

We look forward to developing more friendships with fellow writers. And we anticipate hearing about your writing success along the way.

Check back with us for our third giveaway in January.

God bless you all!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Word Play and Free Rice

As writers, we love words.

Here's a chance to play a word game and help end world hunger.

The game is simple:

Go to FreeRice and start testing your knowledge of word defintions. For every word you get right, 20 grains of rice are donated through the United Nations World Food Program. Five words equals 100 grains of rice. As of December 19th, 10,238,535,870 grains of rice had been donated.

The game is addicting. If you answer correctly, the words get harder. If you answer incorrectly, you get an easier word. It's fun to see your little bowl fill up over and over again with virtual grains of rice!

(With thanks to my writing friend, Linda, who first pointed this site out to me. And for my son Josh, who is also a writer, for reminding me about it!)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Winding Down the Writing Year

There are 13 days left in 2007.

I'm figuring that, unless you are on a deadline like I was last week, you are not thinking about writing.

Writing has been pushed to the backburner, thanks to the holidays and celebrating with friends and family and traveling and shopping and writing Christmas letters and baking cookies ... whatever it is you do that makes this time of year special.

Sometimes life isn't about writing.

And that's okay.

All too soon it will be January and you'll be looking at a new list of Writing To Dos or Want Tos.

Don't miss out on the reason to celebrate the Christmas season. Don't feel guilty if you're ignoring your novel or magazine article. It will still be there in 13 days.

Let writing be the one thing you let go of--just for a little bit--so you can embrace now.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Pick One Goal for 2008

If you're like me, as the new year approaches, you start thinking of what you want to accomplish over the next twelve months.

I'm a member of The Writers View, a Yahoo group of professional writers, and this week we are discussing goals. I thought it would be fun to throw the question out to you.

What one writing goal do you have for 2008?

(There is another group of Christian writers for beginner and intermediate writers called The Writers View 2. Consider joining one of these groups.)

And since we are all busy this time of year, we may ask this question again in January. It's a question worth repeating.

Monday, December 17, 2007

What's the Word? W00t!

Merriam-Webster word of the year for 2007: w00t.

That's w-zero-zero-t.

The hybrid of letters and numbers is used by online gamers as an exclamation of happiness or triumph.

John Morse, Merriam-Webster's president, called "w00t" an ideal choice because it blends whimsy and new technology.

"It shows a really interesting thing that's going on in language. It's a term that's arrived only because we're now communicating electronically with each other," Morse said.

Other words in the running for word of the year: The use of "facebook" as a verb to signify using the Web site by that name; nuanced terms such as "quixotic," "hypocrite" and "conundrum"; and "blamestorm," a meeting in which mistakes are aired, fingers are pointed and much discomfort is had by all.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

An Agent's Blog Worth Visiting

Thought I would recommend another blog today again. Rachelle Gardner is a new literary agent for WordServe Literary and a friend of mine. She's been in the publishing industry for 13 years and her experience and wisdom is helpful.

Please stop by Rachelle's blog, Rants and Ramblings, and let us know what you think. I also enjoy the links she has for writers. More sites that encourage and inform.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's the Most-Busiest Time of the Year

Writing gets squeezed out this time of year--unless you have a lingering deadline or two.
And if you are wrapping up an assignment--Congratulations!!
But writing is trumped by other things right now: hosting my husband's office party, which was postponed because I got the flu; shopping for presents; trying to craft the annual Christmas letter; attending a few other celebrations ... and so it goes.
Connections, the magazine I edit for MOPS, goes to print tomorrow. One more thing to cross off the To Do list.
I'm sure I'm not the only writer who's finding real life is dictating how much time is spent in the alternate universe of the writing world.
I encourage you to go with the flow. Put writing on the backburner--unless you too hold fast to the annual Christmas letter tradition--and enjoy the season of celebrating a reason to sing Joy to the World.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Praying for the Victims of the Colorado Shootings

I live 8 minutes from New Life Church, the site of one of the shootings yesterday in Colorado.
Sometimes life is ... unexplainable. Painfully unexplainable.

I don't know why I tend to watch the news over and over. Maybe it's the journalist/reporter in me. I know what it's like to be on deadline and to need a story--the details, the quotes. And I remember the dance between the media and the police: How much information will they give out? (Answer: not much.)

I think sometimes I'm waiting for a bit of good news to come out of something so, so horribly tragic ... and I keep praying for the victims who've been injured, and for the security guard who saved so many lives by confronting the shooter at New Life Church.

And, yes, I know this post has nothing to do with writing--and yet, in an odd way it does. We write from our hearts, don't we? And all that is in my heart at this moment feels like unshed tears for all those who were killed yesterday--and their family and friends.

I pray for God to comfort them.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Where Have All The Writers Gone?

I'm at a conference all day today, so this will be short and sweet. Plus I'm under a deadline for an article due Monday and I've had my daughter home from school for almost three weeks now. Her school discovered they had a mold issue. Anyway, I'm juggling like most mom writers. And I haven't even started my Christmas shopping. I try to tell myself I work better under pressure. But actually I feel like a bag of microwave popcorn popping all over the place. Someone let me out. Okay, enough of me.

One quick question: Where are you, writers? Are you busy with Christmas baking and shopping? I've noticed no one is commenting on our blog the past couple of days. Beth and I miss hearing from you.

Do you have any burning questions we can discuss? Chime in anytime. No rules. Feel free to write on or off topic. Remember we are in the beginning phase of this blog. We'd love to know what you want to talk about.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words # 5

What would you write for this photo?

We started this blog feature during NaBloPoMo, consigning it to Sundays. We decided to bring it out during the week, hoping to get some more involvement. (Things get quiet in the blogosphere during the weekends. )

So, post some comments--fiction or non-fiction.

You could always start by humming "Walking in a winter wonderland ..."

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Find Your Voice

The first time I heard about my writing voice I had no clue what it was or why it mattered. The term sounded almost mystical. The word "voice" made me think of audible sounds. High and low pitched tones. Obviously my writing voice is silent and yet readers can hear it.
So how can you discover yours?

I recommend writing from your heart. Your writing voice stems from within deep you. How you think and express yourself will eventually come out through words and phrases. If you focus on trying to have a certain voice you will get stumped. I think the best way to find your writing voice is to write daily. Even if you write in a journal. And don't worry about the fact you have fragments. Put them in. And keep writing. Writing rules can be broken when it comes to incomplete sentences. I love using them. So do others like Max Lucado. Obviously too many fragments is annoying to any reader. Balance is key.

Here's a quote worth pondering from On Writing Well:

My commodity as a writer, whatever I'm writing about, is me. And your commodity is you. Don't alter your voice to fit your subject. Develop one voice that readers will recognize when they hear it on the page, a voice that is enjoyable not only in its musical line but in its avoidance of sounds that would cheapen its tone: breeziness and condescension and cliches.

Monday, December 3, 2007

And Our Second Winner Is:

Anna J!

Congrats, Anna, for entering our second giveaway. You won. Beth and I are happy to send you Jerry Jenkins newest book on writing. Please visit the link on the side called Contact Beth and give us your address. We'll ship out your book right away.

Thank you to all of you who commented during the last couple of weeks. We're glad to have new writing friends.

Be sure to post your thoughts to Beth's post earlier today. We want to know where you are.

God bless!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Okay, You Tell Me ...

X marks the spot, right?

So, where are you along the writing road?

Is it where you want to be?

If so, how did you get there? Did somebody help you? Did a particular book or workshop at writers conference help you?

If you're not where you want to be, what are your plans to get moving in the right direction?

Just curious.

Where are you?

We'll post the contest winner later today!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

NaBloPoMo is Over!

All done with National Blog Posting Month!
Now, why do I still hear the sound of my fingers typing on my computer keyboard?!?!

Tiffany and I will announce the winner of our Let's Get This Blog Started Part 2 contest on Monday!

Friday, November 30, 2007

So, What Did You Do This Year?

It's early, early Friday morning and I'm getting a headstart on my day.
And then I'm going to bed and I'll start over in a few hours.
I was wracking my brains, trying to come up with something to blog about--and then I realized that we're almost at the end of 2007. Before we start our What I'm Going to Accomplish in 2008 List, we should look back and applaud ourselves for what we accomplished in 2007!
So, what did you do in 2007?
Stop right there! Don't think about any of those things you didn't do! That's not what I asked you.
Think of what you did do. Maybe it was something you planned on doing, like sending that query letter off to an editor. Or writing a rough draft of your novel. Or attending a writers conference.
Maybe it was something unexpected, like abandoning non-fiction because you heard voices and were lured to fiction. Or maybe you started a blog. (Really? Tell us about it!) Or maybe you had something published. (Tell us about that too!)
I'll tell you mine if you tell me yours.
I can't wait to hear about it!

**Today's the last day to be entered in our second giveaway to win Jerry Jenkins' book, Writing for the Soul.**

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Highlighting a New Writers Blog

One of my favorite resources as a Christian writer is Sally Stuart's Christian Writers' Market Guide. I buy one every couple years. Recently Sally started a blog, Christian Writers' Marketplace. I've found it very informative. She highlights changes within the publishing market, announces upcoming contests and new writing opportunities.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

**Remember, all comments until November 30th are still entered into our second giveaway. Jerry Jenkins' book, Writing for the Soul.**

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Punting This Post

What do you do when your writing life collides with your real life? Or, in my case, my mommy life?
I'm on deck today with a sick kiddo, which is no fun for her or for me. And I am going to punt this post. In other words, I am going to keep it brief.
And all I can say is Thank you, God, for people who compile lists.

5 Reasons to be Persistent and Patient
  1. You have to be. It is a necessary part of being a writer.
  2. Being patient and persistent works. The people who make it as writers are those who have practiced patience and persistence for years.
  3. It's saner, more comfortable, and less stressful than being impatient and giving up.
  4. Decisions, pieces of writing, and careers all need time to grow, mature and ripen.
  5. Editors, agents, and other publishing people are often overwhelmingly busy, and thus slow to respond to writers.

Excerpt from 1,818 Ways to Write Better & Get Published by Scott Edelstein

**Post Comments to be entered in our Let's Get This Blog Started Contest Part 2. You have a chance to win Writing for the Soul by Jerry B. Jenkins.**

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Networking Matters

Writing involves so much more than transferring your brilliant idea from the back of your grocery receipt to your keyboard. Networking is necessary for every professional writer. For the introvert, it's more like the necessary evil.

My first published articles were born from meeting editors face-to-face. Since then my circle of connections continues to grow. I enjoy meeting new faces and learning what publishers are looking for. I can think I have a great topic, but often times it requires a tweak--or two or three--to fit into a magazine.

So how do you start networking? I suggest attending a writer's conference or workshop in your area or joining Shoutlife.com or another online writers group. Put yourself out there and let people know you write. Have business cards made. I like Vistaprint.com for reasonable prices and template choices. Don't be like me and show up to your first conference with scissors and paper. I cut out my own cards. I'm sure I made a strong first impression. A funny, unprofessional one.

Thoughts on other networking options?

**Post Comments to be entered in our Let's Get This Blog Started Contest Part 2. You have a chance to win Writing for the Soul by Jerry B. Jenkins.**

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Book Just For the Fun of It

It's Monday.

Time to roll my chair over to my bookshelf and peruse my assortment of books. And, thanks to my addiction to bookstores and my dad's willingness to support my book habit, I've got quite a stash!

Here's a fun one for today:

In Other Words: A Language Lover's Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World by Christopher J. Moore. Here's a few lines of explanation from the inside cover:

"Take a trip around the world of words and unlock the meaning of some of the most insightful, intriguing, and satisfying espressions on the planet, for which there are no English equivalents."

Here are a couple of entries to whet your word appetite:

  • craic (Irish) "Where's the craic?" is the cry of any Irish person arriving in a new city. With an original meaning close to something like "chat" . . . the term now means the combination of elements all adding up to a good time--fun, laughter, music, and warm company.
  • dast u del baz budan (Persian) [dast oo del baz boo-dan](idiom) This phrase literally means "the opening of hand and heart." It describes the idea of being free with your money, not being stingy, and having a generosity toward others.
  • uitwaaien (Dutch) (verb) A most useful and attractive verb meaning "to walk in the wind for fun." It conjures up a charming image of Dutch people outdoors knowing just how to enjoy their landscape.

And, just for the record: it is not easy to type the word i-n-t-r-i-g-u-i-n-g, which I've had to do twice in this post, with many mistakes.

Post Comments to be entered in our Let's Get This Blog Started Contest Part 2. You have a chance to win Writing for the Soul by Jerry B. Jenkins.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words #4

What would you write about this photo?

Looking forward to reading your comments.

Post Comments to be entered in our Let's Get This Blog Started Contest Part 2. You have a chance to win Writing for the Soul by Jerry B. Jenkins.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Trends Change

As writers, we see trends come and go. Historical fiction. Forty-day books. Chick-lit series. Testimonials. If we look to follow the current trend, we're too late. There's a new book fade stepping up to take center stage. So how can we stay above the latest happenings in publishing?

I'll be honest: I don't know. I've heard try to think ahead of the market. I've heard stick with your passion and eventually it'll be back in style. Any random thoughts out there?

I think regardless of trends our best work is done with our whole heart. Time, talent, work, and sacrifice. Nothing less will do.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Reasons to be a Writer--the Short List

Good and Bad Reasons to be a Writer--the abridged version
by Scott Edelstein

Good Reasons
  1. To communicate to others your ideas, emotions, experiences, cares, needs, concerns, questions, and obsessions.
  2. To grow emotionally, intellectually, psychologically, artistically, and/or spiritually; to help others to do the same.
  3. To entertain yourself and/or others.
  4. To leave your mark on the world.
  5. To play with words, concepts, images, and meanings.
  6. To provide catharsis--to enable what's inside of you
    to come out.

Bad Reasons

  1. To hurt other people or take revenge on them.
  2. To make, or attempt to make, other people miserable, envious, or unhappy.
  3. To impress others with the fact that you're a writer.
  4. To make yourself miserable. (If writing makes you miserable, don't be a writer!)

Post Comments to be entered in our Let's Get This Blog Started Contest Part 2. You have a chance to win Writing for the Soul by Jerry B. Jenkins.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Thanksgiving Wish

I'm not going to write a wordy post today. I'm cooking the turkey this year, so I need to get busy rinsing my turkey. I hate that job. I'm not thrilled to stick my hand inside a gooey, slimy bird to retrieve a long neck and some bagged, body parts.

At any rate, I wanted to wish you all a memorable, fun, and joyful Thanksgiving! Eat too much, laugh too much, and relax too much! Think of ways to write about your experience. In your journal. For an article. For your fiction novel. Or just because. I love recording memories.

God bless you all!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Writer Montage

With thanks to my writing friend, Beth, who sent me this fun video clip after I'd told her I wanted to quit writing and find another job. (She recommended Starbucks.)
And also to my daughter, Amy, who helped me figure out how to make this video clip happen. And to my son Josh who told me how to post a video clip on Blogger.
Yep, I am tech-challenged!


Post Comments to be entered in our Let's Get This Blog Started Contest Part 2. You have a chance to win Writing for the Soul by Jerry B. Jenkins.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

One Thing Every Writer Must Have

Do you ever find the writing process draining? Or do you enjoy every rewrite and rejection?

If you're like me, you mumble, "It's not worth it," certain days. So what can you do to get over the hump of discouragement? For me, it's been one thing. And that is having a cheerleader. Someone who believes in my writing, someone who encourages me, someone who challenges me to grow in the craft. Dare I credit Beth on our blog? Sorry I must.

Because of Beth, I'm a published writer. I've finished the Christian Writers Guild course. She comforted me when I wanted to quit. We've attended four writing conferences together now. Beth came along early in my writing journey. She was farther along the writing road than me. I felt intimidated, yet Beth took time to meet with me and train me. She was my mentor. And her support has made all the difference.

I still go through my doubts about once a year. Beth patiently listens and then speaks words of motivation to me. I ponder her words, shed a tear, and start again. Writing, rewriting, submitting and waiting.

It's a writer's life.

Who's your cheerleader? Do you have one?

***Don't forget to post a comment to enter our giveaway. See Monday's post for details.***

Monday, November 19, 2007

Let's Get This Blog Started Contest-Part 2

Tiffany and I had so much fun with our first contest, we decided to have another one.

Let's Get This Blog Started Part 2! (There's always a sequel, right?)

So, what's the prize?

Tiffany and I connected at a Writing for the Soul conference, so it seems appropriate to offer Jenkins' book as a prize.
Since this is Part 2 of a contest, we'll give you two ways to try and win:

  1. Post a comment through the end of November

  2. Tell someone about The Writing Road blog and have them post a comment--just have them tell us how they found out about the blog.

Easy, right?

Tiffany and I are enjoying meeting all of you. We try and drop by all of your blogs too. Is there anybody out there we've missed?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words # 3

What would you write about this one?
Fiction writers and non-fiction writers, jump on in! We're looking forward to your posts.
And, yes, they count towards our Let's Get This Blog Started Contest Part 2.
We'll announce the prize for the contest for the second half of November tomorrow.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

And The Winner Is:

Thanks to all who've posted a comment during our first giveaway. We've picked a winner. Congratulations, Elizabeth. You've won the Writers Digest CD. Please click on the "Contact Beth" link and give us your address so we can send you the CD.

Check back in Monday for another giveaway.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Here's a Thought

Never throw up on an editor.
~Ellen Datlow

I read this quote and laughed. The admonition: Never throw up on an editor reminded me of my article "I Think I'm Gonna' Be Sick."
It's okay to write a lousy first draft. It's obligatory. Really.
Just don't send that oh-so-wretched first draft to an editor. That's why you re-write. And re-write again. So that an editor receives the final copy that sings.
Thoughts, anyone?

****Tiffany and I are searching for a randomizer to help us choose our winner of the Let's Get This Blog Started Giveaway, which ended yesterday. Everyone who posted comments from Nov. 1st-Nov. 15th is entered in the drawing.
Keep posting, because we are starting another giveaway today!!! Maybe we'll call it: Let's Get This Blog Started Giveaway Part 2--or maybe we'll think of something snazzier by Monday. Keep commenting. And check back to find out who our first winner is and what the next prize is!****

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thinking Out Loud

As I've thought about what to post today, I keep coming up with the same thoughts. No tips today. I'm out of fresh ideas. Just thinking out loud.

As writers, we are full of ideas and creativity. Well, some days we are anyway. I have probably 100 documents started. Devotions. Outlines. Articles. Queries and rough drafts. My question is what can I do with all of this chaos?

I've heard pick the "one" topic you are passionate about right now and start there. Okay, what if I'm not sure? What if I like all of them? Then what? Can a writer be effective with more than one project going at once? If so, how?

What are your strategies with your WIP(work-in-progress)? I'm hoping I'm not the only writer overloaded with Word docs. Maybe I have a devotional book in the making.

I'd love to hear your take on this topic. I'd love to know I'm not alone.

***Drawing winner will be announced tomorrow. ***

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A List Worth Keeping: Top 55 Reference Websites

The editorial board over at eBizMBA (tagline: Everything You Need to Know About Ebusiness) compiled an amazing list of the Top 55 Reference Websites. My writing comrade, Scoti, aka The Research Guru, could spend weeks trolling through this list.

Writing=Research. And research often means wondering, "Where do I find the answer to this question?"

Well, here's 55 good places to start!

Here's a sneak peek at some of the sites:

Howstuffworks explains hundreds of subjects, from car engines to lock-picking to ESP, using clear language and tons of illustrations.

Learn how to do just about everything at ehow, the world's most popular place to find How To instructions.

Your source for famous quotes and quotations from thousands of famous people.

Listed as The World's Biggest Show and Tell, Instructables and Real Simple are giving you a chance to share your most delicious holiday recipe shortcuts and win great prizes. A quick glance at how-tos included: how to make your own medicine ball and how to make a safety pin from a straight pin. Okay, then.

Check out eBizMBA's Top 55 references. Find any new favorites? Got any favorites they forgot to mention?

***Today's the last day to be part of our Let's Give This Blog Started Giveaway. All comments until the 15th will be part of our drawing.***

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


"Write what you know."

As writers we've all heard this. Or this one: "Write your passion." And if your passion is books, your first step is creating a book proposal. I've walked through the process with Beth's book, but haven't actually tried to write one yet. Article and devotional writing seem easier. Like most writers, I have book ideas. I even own proposal writing books. But intimidation stops me from starting. Can't I just write my book and skip that process? Nope. Every published book started with a proposal or a query.

So where do you start? I recommend checking online with the publishers you are considering. Often times they have sample fiction and non-fiction proposals. Or purchase a book or read articles about proposals. Try "googling" this topic.

You know the phrase, "You never have a second chance to make a first impression" Well, your proposal is your first impression. Make it your best work. Do the necessary prep work. And you may just get a reply, "Send me more."

**Two more days until our drawing! Post a comment to enter. Read previous post for link and details.**

Monday, November 12, 2007

Recommended Reading

For a non-fiction writer, I read a lot of books on fiction writing.

One of my favorites is Stein on Writing by Sol Stein. Stein has written novels, poetry, screenplays, and tv dramas. He also created the computer software WritePro, FirstAid for Writers and FictionMaster.

Often when I'm reading a book, I'll underline favorite quotes. And if I really like something, I'll make note of it on the inside cover of the book. What's scribbled on the inside of Stein on Writing?
  • pg. 36 -- list for drafting a first paragraph

When I turn to page 36, I find these questions:

  1. Does your first sentence trigger curiosity to make the reader want to continue?
  2. What will the reader see in that first sentence?
  3. Have you focused on an individual?
  4. Have you given us a visible characteristic of that individual?
  5. Have you portrayed the individual doing or saying something?
  6. Is there a startling or odd fact that will trap attention?

When you think about it, those are good questions to ask whether you're writing fiction or non-fiction. Shouldn't every writer trigger curiosity and make a reader want to continue? Shouldn't every writer paint some sort of picture for the reader?

I had another notation for page 56. You might want to go buy Stein on Writing and find out what Stein had to say that was worth taking notes on.

***Don't forget about our Let's Give This Blog Started Giveaway. All comments until the 15th will be part of our drawing. ***

Sunday, November 11, 2007

If a Picture's Worth a Thousand Words 2

What would you write about this photo?

Consider this your writing prompt for the week. Be sure to post what you write as a comment. Looking forward to seeing what y'all come up with!

***Don't forget about our Let's Give This Blog Started Giveaway. All comments until the 15th will be part of our drawing. ***

Saturday, November 10, 2007

How Can I Get Noticed?

After attending a writers conference, I feel both encouraged and discouraged. Encouraged because I met other writers, learned a few things, and heard positive feedback from editors. Discouraged because of the fierce competition. I remember one editor saying she needs 365 devotions each year and she receives about 2500 submissions. Sounds like tough odds to me.

So, how can I stand out among the crowd? How can I make sure my article or book proposal gets a second read through?

Here's some basics I try to remember when I write:

*Prefer the simple word to the fancy.

*Avoid adverbs. Use adjectives sparingly.Oops, there's an adverb.

*Use strong action verbs and nouns.

*Research what I'm writing about, if needed. An author loses credibility if he is writing about a person with Parkinson's Disease if he doesn't know about the current treatment options or how the disease affects the body.

*Submit only my best work. The most frequent complaint I've heard at conferences from publishers is writers send in sloppy work.

***Don't forget about our Let's Give This Blog Started Giveaway. All comments until the 15th will be part of our drawing. ***

Friday, November 9, 2007

Who is a Writer?

A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for
other people. ~Thomas Mann

I just have to comment on this quote. I read it and thought: Only another writer would understand and appreciate this quote!

People who say, "Oh, I think I'll write a book," like they're going to clip their toenails or dust a bookshelf annoy me. They make it sound like writing a book is E-A-S-Y. That all you do is sit down, la-de-da, and write a book.

They know nothing of rough drafts and rewrites and writer's block and rewrites and writers conferences and rewrites and critiques and rewrites and query letters and rewrites and REJECTION LETTERS and rewrites and learning the craft while living in this alternate universe of the writing world.

Ahem. I feel better now that I got that off my chest.

Remember: Join in the Let's Get This Blog Started Giveaway! Comment on blog posts through November 15th and you may win The Writer's Ultimate Resource Guide 2008

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Inner Critic Battle

Ever hear yourself say, "Who do I think I am to call myself a writer?" If so, that's your inner critic. I've heard phrases like this in my mind more times than I care to count.

So how can you and I fight off the inner critic and write? Here are some ways to deal with the voice of doubt and defeat:

Remember all the people who have said, "You are a writer."

Reflect back on your previously published articles or books. Even rejection letters prove you write. Okay, maybe I am a writer.

Read comments on your blog, if you have one. Mine reminds me that I am making a difference. Even if I'm not getting paid for it, I love knowing I encourage others.

Renew your commitment to grow in your writing ability. Read, read, read. Read books or magazines on writing, read the newspaper, read fiction, read biographies. Read what you love to write. If you write devotions, you should be reading them.

Research possible new markets for your writing. Challenge the current angle you're taking on an idea. If you've received repeated rejections, consider tweaking your approach.

Recognize these thoughts are normal. May I repeat that? Normal.

Return to your computer and write. If you cannot not write, then you are a writer, regardless of the voices you hear.

Writing takes commitment and peseverance. The road is long, but the journey is full of wonder and adventure. Ready to join me? There's room on the road for you.

I know Beth would agree.

***Don't forget about our Let's Give This Blog Started Giveaway. All comments until the 15th will be part of our drawing. ***

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Blog of the Week: The Answer Man

It's not what you know but who you know.

That adage is true along the writing road too. Soon after I stepped back into the writing world, I met Chip MacGregor. I could say a lot about Chip. Things like:

  • He's been all over the writing world: writer, editor, agent
  • He's proud of his Scottish heritage
  • He's written books on magic (card tricks, to be exact)
  • He does not suffer fools gladly--and I mean that in the best possible way

If you want to learn about the alternate universe we writers reside in, check out Chip's blog at ChipMacGregor.com. His tagline says it all: Publishing tips, insights, and wisdom from a seasoned pro in the book business.

Recent posts include:

  • Authors, Markets, and What to Read Next
  • What a Fiction Publisher is Thinking
  • Approaching Agents

I could say a lot about Chip. I'll say one thing: I trust him. Okay, make it two: I respect him.

Back when I was brainstorming my idea for a book about late-in-life motherhood, Chip steered me clear of my original idea. He knew what publishers were looking for--and my format (a compilation book) wasn't it. I joked that he'd torpedoed my book. He said, "It's a good idea. You just need to figure out a different way to write the book."

Get thee hence to ChipMacGregor.com.

****Don't forget to join in our Let's Get This Blog Started Giveaway. You're entered just by posting comments during through November 15th.****

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tips on Working With Editors

Patricia wrote, I'd like to hear about common mistakes writers make that cause editors to cringe so that I can avoid them from the beginning.

Okay, here's a list of what to do and not to do when working with editors.

1. Be professional. No cute photos, perfumed paper or presents with your query or manuscript. White or ivory paper is perfect. Good writing will get you noticed without all the fluff.

2. Research the publishing house before you submit your idea. Read their magazine, know the audience and style. Know what type of books they publish. Make sure your idea fits.

3. Never send a manuscript in without reading the writer's guidelines. Most publishers want a query first. Most guidelines are found online. You will be noticed if you send in your article instead of a query. Not in a positive way.

4. No phone calls. Respect an editor's time. Be patient. Wait until after the response time is over to ask about your submission.

5. When mailing a manuscript, always include as SASE(self-addressed stamped envelope). If not, you may never hear back from them. And be sure you have the right amount of postage.

6. Meet your deadline. No excuses. Submit on time. Obviously on rare occasions, circumstances prevent this from happening. But if you know you have a wedding to attend on the due date, submit early.

7. Work with the editor as your partner. They are there to help you. So when they recommend changes, do them. Don't argue. Be willing to rework your piece.

8. Send in a clean copy. Editors expect writers to self edit. Always submit your best work. Have at least one person read what you've written. Read it out loud.

9. Write to the word count or below. If you get an assignment to write 800 words, write 800 words or less. Never more. There's a reason for the word count. They have page layouts that require a certain number of words. If you are over, they will have to edit out the extra words or you will have to.

There's my two cents for this Tuesday. Maybe Beth can weigh in and add a few more tips.

Hope this helps, Patricia.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Talking About Books

Monday got away from me! I know it's only midday, but I usually like to post earlier than this. Oh, well. The blogosphere is a fairly forgiving world. And I'll offer myself some grace today and be flexible with my "book" post.

If you're like me, you have a teetering, tottering To Be Read Pile. I'll tell you what's in my pile, if you tell me what's in yours. Of course, this means I have to check out the pile on my desk and the pile by my chair and the pile by my bed and the pile in the bathroom . . .

Without further ado: Beth's To Be Read Pile
  • Splitting Harriet by Tamara Leigh (Actually, I finished reading this, but now I need to review it for this blog. I guess I need to start a To Be Reviewed Pile! Spoiler: I loved it!)
  • Speak Through the Wind by Allison Pittman
  • God is in the Small Stuff at Christmas by Bruce and Stan
  • Blacktop Cowboys by Ty Phillips
  • Wisdom of Our Fathers by Tim Russert
  • You're Only Young Twice: 10 Do-Overs to Reawakan Your Spirit by Ronda Beaman (I just may move this up to the top of my pile!)
  • Heard for the First Time by Susan D. Miller
  • A Walk with Jane Austen by Lori Smith
  • Alone in Marriage by Susie Larson (This is really the next book I am reading! Not because I need to, but because I know Susie and because this book is doing well right now.)
  • 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper

There's one more book on fatherhood, but I left it in my car, which is now at the mechanics. Ugh. I will tell you that I love the cover of the book. That saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover?" You know it's not true! We all do just that! We look at the cover, then we flip the book over and scan the back cover copy real quick to see if it catches our interest. If it does, then we open the book and skim the first couple of pages. And, if we like what we see--cover, back cover, first couple of pages--we buy the book.

So, what's in your To Be Read Pile?

Remember: Join in the Let's Get This Blog Started Giveaway! Comment on blog posts through November 15th and you may win The Writer's Ultimate Resource Guide 2008

Sunday, November 4, 2007

If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words . . .

What would you write about this one?

Consider this a writing prompt. Don't panic, just write. See where the photo and your words lead you. And if you're willing, share a bit of what you write as a "Comment."

See you along The Writing Road.

****Don't forget to join us in our Let's Get This Blog Started Giveaway. You're entered just by posting comments during the first two weeks of November.****

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Why Blah, Blah, Blog?

Many writers have started blogging over the past few years. Obviously Beth and I are no exception. And if you haven't started, you may be wondering if blogging is something you need to do. Our answer is maybe.

Here are some reasons to consider starting your own blog:

Blogging helps you write regularly. And writing regularly helps you develop your voice.

Blogging is free.

Blogging is a place where you can promote or host a giveaway of your book.

Blogging can serve as a photo album for your family and friends.

Blogging expands your readership to the world. Most blogs are open to public viewing.

Blogging connects you with other writers. There are writing blog groups you can join.

Blogging gives you opportunities to be interviewed by other bloggers.

Blogging allows you the freedom to express your passions. We've seen people with three, four, or five blogs to their name; each one showcasing a different interest.

And lastly, blogging is fun!

Let us know if you start a blog because of this post. Or what your thoughts are on blogging.

***Don't forget about our Let's Give This Blog Started Giveaway. All comments until the 15th will be part of our drawing. ***

Friday, November 2, 2007

Quote for the Week of November 2, 2007

To me the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the music the words make. - Truman Capote

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Let's Get This Blog Started GIVEAWAY

I'm thrilled to partner with Beth for our new writing blog. And to kick this off, we are offering a Writer's Digest CD titled The Writer's Ultimate Resource Guide 2008 .

Here's a quick list about the CD.

1. Hundreds of active links to the best writers' resources on the Web
2. Completely text-searchable
3. 65 pages filled with info every writer must know, including 101 best websites, the top 100 magazine and book markets, a state-by-state guide to more than 400 writing organizations and 22 literary agents who want your work.
4. A detailed guide to today's hottest writing software
5. The best of Brian A. Klems' Questions & Quandaries column
6. 32 annual writing contests to submit your work
7. All content is in .pdf format without any advertisements. The CD works on any computer, PC or Mac, with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

For complete details, click the link above.

All we ask is that you post a comment or suggestion. We will randomly pick a winner on November 15th. Then, during the second half of November, we'll giveaway another writing resource. So keep in touch for further details.

We'd love to know what topics you'd like to read about. We are open to suggestions. Our desire is to encourage you, the writer!


Last week, I blogged about NaNoWriMo. This week, its NaBloPoMo. Do I just have a thing for acronyms?

Nope. The month of November plays hosts to not one, but two writing challenges: NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month and NaBloPoMo: National Blog Posting Month.

Bloggers from all over the world are signing up for NaBloPoMo and committing to posting every day in November. Different groups are forming. So far, I'm in the Journalists and Writers group, the Thirty Days of Thanks group, the Colorado Bloggers group, and the Christian Writers Group, just to name a few. There's even a prize giveaway and a blog randomizer that highlights random blogs. You can post at the NaBloPoMo Web site or on your regular blog. I'll be posting over at my mom blog http://www.mommycomelately.com/. Come on by--and if you do, say hi!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Tuesday's Tip On Critiquing

Here are ten basic tips for critiquing a manuscript in random order:

1. Start with something positive. Point out your favorite sentence or mention what you liked about the article or chapter.

2. Ask the writer if they want a “big picture edit” or a “fine-line edit.” Big picture offers your perspective on the overall flow, points out any questions that arise or areas that need to be expanded or eliminated. Fine-line is more detailed and points out missing commas, misspellings, or problems with sentence structure.

3. Decide whether you will e-mail or meet in person. I recommend meeting face-to-face whenever possible because it’s more personal and it eliminates confusion that e-mailing can bring.

4. Pick a color system. Highlighting words, sentences, or paragraphs helps the writer easily identify her problem or strong areas. For example, my critique group uses green to indicate a great sentence. Grey means delete. Blue shows sentences that need to be reworked for a better flow. Purple shouts out repeated word.

5. Point out passive verbs. Offer your suggestions to make a sentence active.

6. Look for repeated words or concepts.

7. Avoid changing the writer’s voice. It’s common when critiquing line-by-line to want to rework sentences in the way you would say them. Avoid this temptation. Offer suggestions only when a sentence reads awkward.

8. Watch for point of view changes. Writers have a tendency to head hop. If it bugs you to read the constant change, it will bug another reader too. It’s better to stick to one or two POVs whenever possible.

9. Learn all you can about basic editing. The more you know about grammar the more help you will be to another writer. I recommend the book The Elements of Style by Strunk and White.

10. Flag long sentences. Sometimes they work, but often they can be tightened or split into two.

Above all, have fun! Remember critiquing strengthens your writing. I've noticed when I point out repeated words on a manuscript, the next time I write I'm more aware of my own repetition.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Book of the Week for October 29, 2007

Every writer I know has a favorite writing book. Some are obscure titles, some are bestsellers. I came across my favorite long, long ago, so it has a treasured place on my bookshelves. I loaned it out once--and was a nervous wreck until my brother returned it.

Sweet Agony: A Writing Manual of Sorts is written by Gene Olson. While we're told not to judge a book by its cover (and we do) I judge a book by its chapter titles. Olson's got some fun chapter titles:
  • Blood on the Walls
  • Don't Just Sit There; Write
  • Rules and Rubbish
  • The Sound of Smog

Olson doesn't so much write about writing. He talks to you about writing. Reading Sweet Agony is like having a conversation with a friend who understands the alternate universe of the writing world. He knows somethings you probably don't know--and is willing to share them with you.

Here's a favorite quote from Sweet Agony:
The first word appears on paper, struggles for survival,then is joined by a second. Then comes the population explosion--numbers Three and Four.
The writing job has begun; for the writer, the battle is half won. Getting started is that important. Any trick a writer can play on his balky mind, no matter how sneaky, is legitimate. All is fair in love, war and getting started writing.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Weekly Quote on Writing #1

"You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club."

~Jack London

Thursday, October 25, 2007

What Authors Would You Like Profiled?

Beth and I are still coming up with our list of author connections. And we plan to interview them on our blog soon. This week we are brainstorming and we'd love to include you.

What authors interest you? Fiction? Non-fiction?

Do you have a burning question you would like asked?

Authors offer writers a perspective on the book writing process that maybe article writers do not have. We plan to ask them questions that help you grow as a writer. Also we'd love to share their book with you.

All comments are welcome.

We are here to serve you as fellow writers.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Up First: NaNoWriMo Blog

If it's Wednesday, I must be writing about blogs. (I checked the list just to make sure! Yep, Wednesdays=blogs!)

I wondered which blog to highlight first. I have my favorite blogs. A number of my writing buddies blog. I could just google "writing blogs" and come up with a great list and go through it alphabetically. But I decided to go with NaNoWriMo Blog because right now NaNoWriMo is a hot topic in the writing world.

NaNoWriMo is writer-speak for National Novel Writing Month. What is that, you ask? Here's what the Web site powers that be say:

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

So, are you up to the challenge? Check out the Web site and the blog. Let your inner fiction writer run free during November with the help of NaNoWriMo. I'll let you know if I decide to dabble in the world of antagonists and protagonists and plots and settings and dialogue!

And I did the math for you (with my husband's help): There are 30 days in November. If you're aiming for the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words, you need to write approximately 1,666 words per day.

Tuesday's Tips

"You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what's burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke." ~Arthur Polotnik

Who helps your fire show? Do you have a critique partner or group? If not, I urge you to find one. This one step can take your writing from good to great. Research online critique groups and find one that suits your needs. Consider starting your own writers group. Check with your local bookstore or library for possible groups. Inquire at your church; sometimes there are small groups for writers. Ask a trusted friend or family member for honest feedback.

Writing is done alone but writing for publication is done together. Ruthlessly pursue another set of eyes to read and evaluate your work. And watch the smoke from your words vanish and the fire blaze.

**Next Tuesday, I'll talk about how to critique someone's work.**

Monday, October 22, 2007

Book of the Week

Tiffany and I've been brainstorming about this blog. We think it will look something like this:
Monday: Books
Tuesday: Writing Tips
Wednesday: Blogs
Thursday: Authors
Fridays: Quotes

We're keeping things pretty flexible at first. We plan to offer views on favorite books, fiction and nonfiction. Dispense some writing advice--things we've learned along the writing road. Highlighting writing blogs and interview authors, maybe give away some books. And, since Tiffany and I are wordsmiths, we love quotes, so on Fridays we'll have fun sharing some of our favorite ones.

If it's Monday, that means we're talking books. And if you're a writer, you should have a copy of William Zinsser's On Writing Well on your bookshelves. I'm on my second copy of Zinsser's book--the 30th anniversary edition. Topics covered include simplicity, audience, leads and endings, different types of articles, and a writer's voice. Zinsser is a writer, editor and teacher--and he just knows his stuff when it comes to writing.

Here's one of my favorite Zinsser quotes:

Look for the clutter in your writing and prune it ruthlessly. Be grateful
for everything you can throw away. Reexamine each sentence you put on
paper. Is every word doing new work? Can any thought be expressed with more
economy? Is anything pompous or pretentious or faddish? Are you hanging on
to something useless just because you think it's beautiful?

Think how your writing would sing if you rose to this one challenge and simplified your writing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The First Step for the Writing Road Blog

Why another blog?

Why another blog about writing?

My Website The Writing Road has been up and around for a couple of years now. Most writers have a Website--what I call an "online business card." Nowadays it's pretty much expected that a writer have a Web presence.

The Writing Road is geared to beginning and intermediate writers--a way to help them make progress along the writing road. It's also a way to say, "Hi, this is me--Beth K. Vogt. I'm a writer and here's what I write about."

Now the time feels right to add a blog to the Website. It adds a new dimension to the site--an immediacy to the information available at The Writing Road.

My writing comrade, Tiffany Stuart, is my blogging buddy. We're already brainstorming the "what-ifs" of the blog. What if we do this? What if we do that? Quotes on writing? Book reviews? Author interviews? Personal insights on living in the alternate universe of the writing world?

Check back and see what we come up with.

Keep writing!

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