Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Setting Goals -- Reach for the Stars

The victory of success is half won when one gains the habit of setting goals and achieving them. Even the most tedious chore will become endurable as you parade through each day convinced that every task, no matter how menial or boring, brings you closer to fulfilling your dreams. ~ Og Mandino (1923 - 1996)

It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it. ~ Arnold Toynbee (1889 - 1975)

Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity. ~ Louis Pasteur (1822 - 1895)

To will is to select a goal, determine a course of action that will bring one to that goal, and then hold to that action till the goal is reached. The key is action.
~ Michael Hanson

The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don't define them, or ever seriously consider them as believable or achievable. Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them. ~ Denis Watley

Reach high, for the stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.
~ Pamela Vaull Starr

Debbie Macomber, keynote speaker at the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Conference and author with more than 100 million copies of books in print, shared her story as a dyslexic child who barely graduated from high school and later as the mother of four young children who wrote her stories on a rented typewriter. Though she struggled for five years to get published, she never lost sight of her dream.

Today, demand for her books have exceeded her wildest dreams . . . but not her wildest goals. 74 SEASIDE AVENUE, the latest in her Cedar Cove series, scored #1 on the NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, and Publishers Weekly, and her books are translated into twenty-three languages.

Through the years, Debbie has recorded her goals in her many journals. As she achieved each goal, she quickly penned another one. At the ACFW conference, she challenged the writers to list their wildest goals imaginable. Isn't it time you made your own list?

A goal without a plan is just a wish. ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

~ Roxanne Sherwood

Monday, September 28, 2009

FREE Novel Writing Software

FREE Novel Writing Software
“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are."—William Somerset Maugham

Even if you don’t know the three rules for writing a great novel, yWriter, a FREE downloadable word processor, helps you organize your novel writing. Developed by an experienced programmer and published author, yWriter breaks your novel into chapters and scenes.

The word count target feature allows you to set a word count goal, plus the date you’d like to reach your word count objective. It tracks your progress, showing how much you’ve written, plus how many words you still need to write.

yWriter’s Features
  • Organizes your novel using a 'project'
  • Stores all scenes in RTF files, which can be edited with a regular word processor
  • Sets font style and size, plus bold, italics and underline
  • Adds chapters to the project
  • Adds scenes, characters, items, and locations
  • Displays the word count for every file in the project, along with a total
  • Tracks your progress
  • Saves a log file every day, showing words per file and the total
  • Saves automatic backups at user-specified intervals
  • Allows multiple scenes within chapters
  • Viewpoints character, goal, conflict, and outcome fields for each scene
  • Storyboard view shows a visual layout of your work
  • Re-orders scenes within chapters
  • Drags and drops chapters, scenes, characters, items, and locations
  • Renumbers chapters automatically.
View a video showing how to use yWriter.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The writing life is a solitary life--Not!

My lifelong friend, Roxanne, and my new friend, Lisa J., at author Susan May Warren's pizza party at the American Christian Fiction Writer's (ACFW)Conference last weekend.

The friendly faces in all these photos are just some of the reasons I disagree with the statement: The writing life is a solitary life.

Oh, sure. I spend lots of time at my computer, alone. As a matter of fact, I'm typing this post at 12:09 AM and I'm the only one up in my house. Yeah, kind of lonely. But it's a productive kind of lonely.

Susie having fun--and her having so much fun with about 75 of her closest friends made me have a lot of fun too! I'm already planning on next year!

Sometimes writing can be so...so serious. It's a business. A calling. A ministry. The weight of the writing world is on your shoulders. Sometimes we just need to get out from underneath the deadlines and have f-u-n!

Gotta' get me a hat!

Me and my friend-who-will-one-day-be-a-bestselling-author, Evangeline, aka "E" or "Da Corruptor." (Don't ask.)

Evangeline likes to give people names. I am "The Evil Editor," which she assures me is a compliment. Yesterday at critique group, that name morphed to Picky Evil Editor, which we realized equaled "PEE." I asked her to go back to "TEE."

Me and Rocky--we had't seen each other in three years. She's the first person I told when I wandered over to the "Dark Side"--meaning, I started writing fiction. I know I would never have lingered this long if it hadn't been for her encouraging me to stay a while.

Me and Paula M. We became friends at a writers conference years ago. Paula and I were "blind date roommates," meaning we were randomly assigned to room together. And Paula brought china tea cups. And a tea pot. And beautiful encouraging Scriptures to place around the room. And I just knew I wanted to be her friend, forever.

The photos and this post will never capture all the fun I had, all the laughter that was shared, in the less than 24 hour period I was at ACFW. But let me leave you with this thought: Along the Writing Road, don't forget to make friends. Lots and lots of friends. It will make the journey all the richer.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

National Punctuation Day®

Today, September 24, is the 6th Annual National Punctuation Day®!

Who knew?

I didn't, until I was up way-too late, thanks to an unexpected shot of expresso in my Starbucks pumpkin spice latte. Being a Starbucks novice--I drink ice tea when I go to Starbucks--I did not realize latte = expresso. My more experienced daughters broke the news as I pinged around the kitchen, talking rapidly in an overly-loud voice.

But that is totally beside the point of this blog post.

National Punctuation Day® is, and I quote, "A celebration of the lowly comma, correctly used quotes, and other proper uses of periods, semicolons, and the ever-mysterious ellipsis."

So just how do you celebrate National Punctuation Day®? The Web site gives plenty of suggestions, including:

*Participate in the first National Punctuation Day® Baking Contest. (Bake something in the shape of a question mark or a comma or an exclamation point!)
*Share punctuation peeves with NPD founder Jeff Rubin at Jeff@NationalPunctuationDay.com.
*Send photos of incorrectly punctuated signage to Jeff Rubin at Jeff@NationalPunctuationDay.com.

The Web site also has links to punctuation products, a "Punctuation Playtime Progam," and punctuation resources.

Note: If there are any punctuation errors in this post, I blame them on the expresso!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Blog Tour: Morning Coffee with James

Morning Coffee with James by Renae Brumbaugh

Need more time to study God's Word? Morning Coffee with James is the perfect solution. With humor and conversational style, this book offers meaty insights that will satisfy the spirit and quench the soul.

Each Morning Coffee devotional includes a verse or two from the book of James, a few paragraphs of study and application, a prayer, and more. Fun coffee facts and recipes are interspersed throughout.

About the Author

Renae Brumbaugh has done it all. She is an author, former English teacher, public speaker, singer/songwriter, pastor's wife, and mother of two. Some of her articles have been printed by In Touch, Brio, Listen, and Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Product Details

Title: Morning Coffee with James

Paperback: 113 pages

Publisher: Chalice Press (September 15, 2009)

ISBN-10: 0827223366

ISBN-13: 978-0827223363

Friday, September 18, 2009

Author Interview with Jean Blackmer

Jean Blackmer's newest book is Boy-sterous Living: Celebrating Your Loud and Rowdy Life with Sons .

As the only female in a house with three sons, a husband, and two male dogs, Jean has learned a lot about living with boys. She knows that as a mom it isn't always easy to communicate and connect with these creatures of noise and energy. Everyday, they force you to live in a world where bugs are cool, safety is an afterthought, and "talking is torture."

Read on to learn about Jean's journey along The Writing Road:

How did you get started on the Writing Road?

I received my undergrad and master’s degrees in Journalism and worked in that field for awhile. Then I started free-lance writing after my first son was born. I love writing and felt this was a good time in my life to pursue that and to be able to do something from home while I had little kids. Now I work for MOPS International as the publishing manager and actually work in an office 20 hours a week with lots of women! I love it!

Who has helped you along the Writing Road?

Carol Kuykendall has been a writing mentor for me and I can’t thank her enough. I’ve done some Guideposts writer’s workshops and the input from those editors and other writers has been invaluable. Also, my husband, Zane and my three boys, have helped me tremendously as they have endured me during my writing deadlines and have provided great material for me to write about.

What obstacles have you had along the Writing Road?

With limited time to write, I’ve had to learn to get into the writing mode quickly. Also dealing with rejections is always hard. I’ve had to not give up and that attitude of perseverance has paid off. One of my editors quoted Winston Churchill in regards to writing and said, “Never, never, never, give up!” It’s good advice.

What's next for you on the Writing Road?

Definitely a book for moms. It will probably be similar to Boy-sterous Living, in that it will have loads of humor but will also touch a chord on a topic all moms can relate to in life. Can’t tell you yet what it is, (top secret :O)) but I’m really excited about it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Roxanne's off to ACFW!

Roxanne was blessed with an unexpected trip to the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) annual conference in Denver starting tomorrow (September 17).

I am so excited for her--she's even going to the special session with Donald Maass.

I know she'll have lots to share with us when she gets back.

Until then, I'll leave you with this thought:

"The author who benefits you the most is not the one who tells you something you did not know before, but the one who gives expression to the truth that has been dumbly struggling in you for utterance." ~ Oswald Chambers, minister

Friday, September 11, 2009

Christa hanging with me at a booksigning for Baby Changes Everything

I am still haunted by a conversation I had one day with my daughter, Christa:

Me: So, what does mom do?
Christa: You sit in front of your computer.
Me: No--what do I for work?
Christa: You sit in front of your computer a lot?

Somehow, Christa had never understood that her mom is a writer--despite the fact that I'm hugging her in my author photo on the back of Baby Changes Everything!

I also edit Connections, the leadership magazine for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International. Last night, as I edited a draft of the magazine, Christa walked into my office.

Here was my chance for my own version of Take Your Child to Work Day!

Christa stood by my desk while I showed her all the wonder and magic of being an editor. Somebody needed to be playing appropriate background music. The only sound I heard was my husband stifling his chuckles.

I showed her what an article looked like in it's rough, pre-edit phase. Then I explained how I put all the articles together and sent them to the graphic designer, Heather. She's the one who really got Christa's attention with her magic skills. Christa was amazed to see my basic black and white text turned into a full-color, photos-included draft of a magazine.

Then I showed Christa the fun of ADOBE ACROBAT and editing tools like highlighting, comment boxes! I won't say she was speechless, but she did pay attention.

All in all, our little at-home Take Your Child to Work Day lasted less than 10 minutes. I think Christa has a better understanding of what I do.

Of course, she immediately walked over to her dad, who was looking at a medical journal, and said, "Cool pictures, Dad! What is all that?"

Ah, well. Maybe her future lies in the medical field, not journalism.

Monday, September 7, 2009

One Click (Re)Searching

"If Edison had a needle to find in a haystack, he would proceed at once with the diligence of the bee to examine straw after straw until he found the object of his search... I was a sorry witness of such doings, knowing that a little theory and calculation would have saved him ninety per cent of his labor." —Nikola Tesla

By Scoti Springfield Domeij

Narrow Your Search Quicker

Do you feel like conducting research like finding a needle in a haystack? Not sure where to look? Overwhelmed by the mound of research available on the web? My default (re)search engine is Google.com. What's yours? Yahoo? Live Search? Ask?

Sperse, a meta search engine, might save you 90% of your labor. Sperse searches multiple search engines with one click.

Sperse's Features:

  • Searches across multiple sites including Google, Yahoo!, Live Search, and Ask
  • Filters out duplicate results for improved accuracy and relevancy
  • Searches the web, images, videos, news, music, video, and local listings
  • Provides a real-time thumbnail preview of the webpage directly from the search results
  • Answers a question by typing the question and receiving the answer from Yahoo! Answers
  • Narrows your search by location using zip codes

Friday, September 4, 2009

Book Review: Coming Attractions by Robin Jones Gunn

I love a good romance, but I almost passed Coming Attractions off to my daughter, Amy, and asked her to do this blog post.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a long-time fan of Robin Jones Gunn. But when I realized Coming Attractions was about Katie Weldon, a fun and funny twenty-something, I thought: Really? What can a mom of four get out of a book like this? I mean, three of my children are twenty-somethings ... topped off with my rambunctious 8-year-old. But that's another blog post.

Reading Robin's book was all about learning the lesson "Don't judge a book by it's cover." I needed to ignore the cute college girl adorning the cover, dive in--and discover the truths waiting for me hidden in the guise of all things Katie Weldon. Truths about choosing to be a victim of grace instead of a victim of evil. And the reality that loving God with abandon means coming to love myself and my life -- loving my story at a heart level.

When I finished the book at 12:30 AM, I sent Robin an e-mail, ending with this thought:
Thank you for writing Coming Attractions. I'm a writer too--and sometimes when I write, I try to imagine the face of just one person who I am writing to. You may not have imagined the face of a mom four when you wrote Coming Attractions ... but God works in funny ways, doesn't he?

Find a list of other bloggers who are talking about Coming Attractions here.

Robin Jones Gunn Facebook Page

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Young Writer Sticks to Facts . . . and More

I urge young writers to capture their (mis)adventures on paper (or computer). After experiencing pain and/or embarrassment, they might as well get something for their trouble. A writer never knows when today's mishap will creatively turn into a character's misfortune. Initially, don't worry about perfection. Just record as many details as possible. The piece can be edited later.

My daughter, Suzanne Sherwood, a college student and sometime fiction writer, finds it easiest to record her mishaps on Facebook. Looks like she's forgotten I'm a Friend. Read about her latest sticky situation--before she un-friends me. ~Roxanne Sherwood


It was a Comedy of Errors.

So, as some of you know, I managed to break my sunglasses in my microbiology class. First, I sliced my finger open on a piece of metal hanging off one of the lab desks. Blood went everywhere. It was great. But I ended up stumbling onto my backpack and breaking my own glasses. Lame, or what?

Yes, the fun blue ones (Kara thinks they are ugly, but I think they're great!) Anyway, these sunglasses are still wearable, but then I got the bright idea to super glue them.

(Other people suggested that I attempt to repair them--I should have slapped them and run the opposite direction. I didn't.)

It started with a Super glue bottle. One that was glued shut. I came to this very scientific conclusion after spending several minutes trying to force the thing open. And, while normally my determination is able to open even the most stubborn of pickle jars, it was no match for a tiny super glue bottle. I gave up on it and tossed it in the trash and resigned myself to a quick trip to Wal-Mart.

Lo and behold, my mother came downstairs bearing a minuscule package of cute one-time-use tubes of Krazy glue! She saved me the annoyance of Wal-Mart lines! I should have burned the glue (briefly inhaling the fumes, of course--if only to feel woozy) and run for the hills. I did not.

The first tube ended up being used, and after I spent several minutes trying to engineer the glue out of it (remember that determination? It tends to rear its ugly head more than once), but I gave up after cutting the tube in half and finding a solid lump of glue. If I remember correctly, the correct and usable form of glue is viscous, isn't it? I moved onto the next tube. It had not been opened, so I figured I had scored.

If you've never seen one of these cute and tiny tubes of evil incarnate, let me illustrate a picture for you. They are about 3/4 of an inch long and highly pressurized. Or maybe I was inadvertently squeezing too hard--I don't know. But when I poked a hole in the top, it spilled out and down the sides, almost coming into direct contact with my finger. It was a close call, a little too close.

Next, I tried squirting some of the glue on the glasses, between the frame and the plastic lens. Then, just to be on the safe side, I spread some all around the frame and lens, hopefully, binding the two together in holy matrimony. It didn't really work, even after I said the vows and blessing.

Then, while I was holding the partially mended frame and lens together, I realized that some of the glue had gotten on me.

I'll admit, I panicked. I might have even squealed.

You see, when I was twelve or so, I got Super glue all over my hands and had to use steel wool to get it off. I'm the type of person that can't handle sensory deprivation. Anything blocking my sense of touch (Or sight. Or hearing, etc.) drives me absolutely crazy! I can't even wear Band-aids on my hands or fingers because of it. So having glue on me is a nightmare.

But this time, there was a blob on my index finger. Then, there was another on my other hand, on my ring finger and middle finger! It was multiplying! I tried to switch the glasses around in my hands to keep the glue on my fingers from touching anything--when I realized, I had glued my finger to my glasses.

Now I was really in trouble. Securely and painfully, I had attached my own tissue right to the blue frames! At least I would never lose them, right?

While I was wailing and moaning about joining the circus as a freak, my mother calmly came up and yanked the glasses off of my finger. A large hunk of skin was left on the glasses, which was kind of gross, but there was no blood this time.

Why yes, I'm nineteen-years-old, I've gone through several black-belt tests, and yes, I still need my mommy from time to time.

But don't tell her I said that. She might get the wrong idea about me being independent.

~Suzanne Sherwood

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Writer Mama Back to School Giveaway

Writers, you don't want to miss the month-long fun over at Writer Mama's blog.

For the third year in a row, The Writer Mama, author Christina Katz, is giving away thirty books in thirty days. All you have to do to participate is answer the question that Christina will pose daily. One lucky winner will win each day. There is no limit to how many times you can enter. The drawing is for U.S. residents. You don’t have to be a mom, but of course, the event is created with moms in mind, so please tell all the writer mamas you know!

Here's a list of the prizes:

Day one:
The Beginning Writer’s Answer Book edited by Jane Friedman

Day two: Page After Page by Heather Sellers

Day three: Write-Brain Workbook by Bonnie Neubauer

Day four:
A one-year subscription to Writer’s Digest

Day five: Writer Mama by Christina Katz

Day six:
Writing the Life Poetic by Sage Cohen

Day seven: The Last Will of Moira Leahy by Therese Walsh

Day eight: Take Ten for Writers by Bonnie Neubauer

Day nine:
The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters by Wendy Burt Thomas

Day ten: A one-year subscription to WritersMarket.com

Day eleven: On Writing Romance by Leigh Michaels

Day twelve: The Possibility of Everything by Hope Edelman

Day thirteen:
Get Known Before the Book Deal by Christina Katz

Day fourteen: Book By Book by Cindy Hudson

Day fifteen: Thirsty by Kristin Bair O’Keeffe

Day sixteen: Formatting and Submitting Your Manuscript 2009 by Chuck Sambuchino

Day seventeen: Chapter After Chapter by Heather Sellers

Day eighteen: How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen

Day nineteen:
The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maas

Day twenty: Trust Agents by Chris Brogan

Day twenty-one: Time of My Life in paperback by Allison Winn Scotch

Day twenty-two: Plug Your Book and e-Publish by Steve Weber

Day twenty-three: Novel Shortcuts by Laura Whitcomb

Day twenty-four: Publicize Your Book by Jacqueline Deval

Day twenty-five: Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined edited by Andrea Buchanan and Amy Hudock, Mama, PhD: Women Write About Motherhood and Academic Life edited by Elrena Evans and Caroline Grant & The Maternal Is Political: Women Writers at the Intersection of Motherhood and Social Change edited by Shari MacDonald Strong.

Day twenty-six: Poet’s Market by Robert Lee Brewer

Day twenty-seven: Children’s Writer & Illustrator’s Market by Alice Pope

Day twenty-eight:
2010 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market by Alice Pope

Day twenty-nine: 2010 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino

Day thirty: The Deluxe 2010 Writer’s Market by Robert Lee Brewer

This year, Christina is also sponsoring a fundraiser during the Giveaway.