Meet Teresa Tysinger: Someplace Familiar Blog Tour

 

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Welcome to the Blog Tour for Someplace Familiar by Teresa Tysinger. Teresa stopped by today for a little Q&A about this debut novel, a contemporary southern romance with themes of faith, hope in new love, and grace. It’s the first in a series of books set in Laurel Cove, a fictional town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I’m joining other bloggers this week to tell you a little about the book and spread the news about the giveaway Teresa is hosting! Be sure to enter to win a signed book and more from Teresa at the end of this post. And leave your comments and questions below—Teresa will be stopping by to visit with us!

Q&A with Teresa!

1.       Where did you get the inspiration for Someplace Familiar?
The inspiration for the book came from two places. First, my memories of my own great-grandmother’s charming home and gardens inspired Livy’s Gram’s cottage. It gave me the chance to catalog my memories into a living story. Also, I am completely enamored with the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Having grown up in Florida, when I attended college in the mountains, I fell in love with the area and knew writing a story with it as the setting was meant to be!

2.       What is it about the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina that made such an impression on you as the setting for this book?

Oh goodness, the list is so long! I love the four distinct seasons—each offering something uniquely beautiful and enchanting. The culture is rich, eclectic, and full of whimsy. And don’t forget the slow pace of easy rocking chairs, bubbling brooks, rustling trees, and the gentle roll of both the mountains and the southern drawls. I love it all!

3.       Christian romance is a popular genre. What defines the genre for you as a writer?

The story of Christ’s love for us is the truest, most pure romance. So, when a book of fiction can combine the love story between two humans with the transforming, powerful love of God it’s the best of both worlds. I personally enjoy romances that show readers that real life and relationships are messy and the “happily ever after” isn’t necessarily riding off into the sunset, but rather comes with sacrifice and compromise. So, that’s what I aim to write, too!

4.       What is your favorite part of the writing process?
My favorite part of writing a book comes at the earliest stages. I love naming characters and being creative putting the plot together. At that stage, anything is possible and it’s okay to be a little messy with it!

5.       What was the biggest challenge about the decision to self-publish Someplace Familiar?
Oh boy! Self-publishing has taught me so much about the business of being a writer. The most challenging part is keeping all of the spinning plates moving and not crashing to the floor. Editing, design, marketing, networking, etc. These days, however, even traditional publishing requires authors to be major players in every step of the process. So, I think all authors must learn to multitask—and, for me, that’s a challenge.

 

About Someplace Familiar

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Artist Livy Johnson needs a fresh start. That’s what a broken heart and forgotten dreams can do to a person. On little more than a whim, she reclaims her grandmother’s old home in quaint Laurel Cove, North Carolina and vows to restore its original charm. When she literally collides with childhood friend, Jack Bowdon, Livy wonders if she’s back for an entirely different reason.

Jack can’t believe his childhood crush is back. As the owner of Bowdon’s Supplies, and once again the town’s most eligible bachelor, he offers to help Livy with repairs. Together they embark on the project—and an undeniable whirlwind romance.

But it’s not all smooth sailing. Can they survive the destructive pain of their pasts to discover God’s grace waiting to renovate their hearts?

Someplace Familiar is available on Amazon. You can also add it on Goodreads!

 

About Teresa Tysinger

TeresaTysinger

Teresa Tysinger is a wife and mother transplanted from North Carolina to North Texas. When not working as the Director of Communications for a large downtown church, she writes charming southern romances inspired by grace. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Religious Communicators’ Council, and the Association for Women in Communications, Teresa has spent over a decade committed to telling stories of faith through written word. She loves coffee, caramel, and stories with happy endings.

Connect with Teresa on the Web,  Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or her Amazon author page!

 

Someplace Familiar Giveaway

ENTER HERE to win a signed paperback copy of Someplace Familiar, a custom 8×8” canvas painting by artist Cyndi Browning (in honor of the book’s heroine, Livy, who is an artist), and $10 Amazon Gift Card. Winner will be announced on Teresa’s website on June 18 once the tour wraps up. (Open to continental US residents only; sorry international readers!)

Thanks for stopping by, Teresa! Can’t wait to read Someplace Familiar!

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Bash Writer’s Block in a Flash

WritersBlock

Writer’s block. Ugh. The dreaded phrase. I’m pretty sure we all know what that is, so no need to define the term here. What’s important to know is how to get rid of it, am I right? Well, the first step would always be to admit it even exists in your reality. None of this denial business.

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The next step is to write Flash Fiction.

Yep, totally serious.

Flash fiction has numerous definitions floating around the internet. Basically, it’s an extra-short, short story. Most sites classify flash fiction as anything less than 1000 words, some less than 700, and a few even define the genre as less than 300 all the way down to a nano story of 100 words.

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Seems easy enough, right?

Haha…Ha. Ha. Not so much.

Though trying to cram a compelling story that makes sense into a piece shorter than most blog articles can be daunting, the process can also be incredibly rewarding…and in ways that surprised me. I had been stuck on a chapter in my current WIP, tentatively titled-A Temporary Home, for some time when I decided to take a break and work on a piece of flash fiction.

Deep in the throes writer’s block, I hadn’t been serious about the story at the time and was really just looking for a good distraction. What I found was so much more. Here are just a few of the ways flash fiction helped me out of a writing rut.

1. Practice

I was working. Most of us have heard the famous Picasso quote, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”

A week had gone by without any progress on A Temporary Home. For me, that’s a long time. I mulled over the scenes that bothered me…and then mulled them over again. I thought, I daydreamed, I read, and still, nothing. As a writer, I like to think of imagination as a part of the job, but when that’s all you’ve done for a week, it doesn’t feel like you’ve done much of anything. I needed work to do and flash fiction provided that work.

2. Creativity

This sort of goes along with the work, but working on a new project allowed me to free my mind from present troubles and focus on something fresh. I also didn’t have any writerly guilt about it because I knew the story wouldn’t interfere with the work on my book. Flash fiction is a small enough project to be easily managed with any writing schedule.

3.  Audition

Audition? In the world of writing? Sure!

I took the opportunity to try on a new genre for size. All of my work so far has been contemporary fiction, but I’ve always held a fascination with historical novels. Why not use this chance to test those waters? Writing a short historical story allowed me to see if I liked writing in the genre, enjoyed the research, and really, if I was any good at it.

Guess what? I loved it! Doing the research sparked a new interest in a time period I knew little about (other than biblical aspects I’d learned throughout the years). I safely assumed the story was fairly well done since Splickety was awesome enough to publish it on their Lightening Blog. So, big score! I found out I liked the process, enjoyed the research, and might want to explore that genre for a book in the future.

4.  Accomplishment

Yeah, yeah. We’re writers- we write for the process.

But really, don’t you just love typing ‘The End’? I know I do. Feeling stuck was really getting me down, but once I finished my flash fiction piece, A Golden Promise, I was ready to jump back into work on A Temporary Home with fresh inspiration because I felt capable again. I had set a writing goal, accomplished it, and reminded myself once again- I can do this.

All in all, writing flash fiction has been an overwhelmingly positive experience and I really can’t wait to do it again.

Have you written flash fiction before? What was your experience like? Did the process help you with writer’s block? Tell me in the comments and leave a link to your story!

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Writer’s Block

Welcome to Tick-Tock, Writer’s Block. We hope you will find this 10-week series informative as we dive into time management and that little annoyance that seems to plague all writers from time to time, writer’s block.

10 writers have teamed up to offer you tips, tricks, and general information about these issues. We hope this series provides insight and useful tools you can put into practice with your own writing habits!

Don’t miss our giveaway and your chance to win the awesome prize pack we’ve put together!

Writer’s Block

Even writing those words freezes me, makes me want to sit and stare at this blank page and not even attempt to tackle the topic. There are a million opinions on it; if you’ve been writing for any period of time, you’ve likely heard at least a few (thousand). Everyone experiences it at some point and everyone experiences it a little differently, but I think we all agree on the feeling it causes: alksdjfkaljrgklefjalkf!!!!! (That’s angry gibberish. Ha! *bangs head on keyboard just to get letters on the screen*)

I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve found a few things that help me. If they help you too, great! If not, well, I tried. 😉

1. SET A TIMER

This was one of those rules – rules? suggestions? thingies? – that I read somewhere and scoffed at. Until one dark, stormy winter night – erm, not really, but it was Nano, so it might’ve been cold – I was desperate to hit some sort of word count, and I was like, “Okay, seriously, what would it hurt to try this timer thing? Worst case scenario, you waste a half hour. Like you’ve never done that by getting on facebook instead of writing…” *gives Angie the evil eye while Angie looks away and whistles innocently*

So, grudgingly, not feeling it at all, and not expecting much, I set a timer for thirty-five minutes and forced myself to stay off facebook and look at my story. And lo and behold, when the timer chimed, I had written a whopping – wait for it! – zero words. Yeeep. But I was determined (or crazy?) and reset it. And that time, I wrote. Was it good? Don’t remember. Was it coherent? Probably not. Was it redundant? Um, duh. But it was also words. And by the time that second one went off, guess what? I was lost in my world.

Nearly every time I do this, if I push through my feelings, I end up resetting the timer at least once…and then usually not after that because I get so into the story that I forget. (Also: it is okay if your timer scares you when it goes off. You are not alone. #solidarity)

2. WHERE DID YOU GO WRONG?

This requires caution. Don’t assume this is the case and keep changing things at the beginning of your story. It may not be the issue, so think carefully before you start hacking (and save the discarded material somewhere!). That said, sometimes when I’m blocked, it’s because something earlier in the story went wrong.

I restarted book two (Quelling) several times because of this. I had what I felt was a solid beginning. Once, I even had about fifteen chapters. But I’d get to the end of that “solid” part and sit there, unsure how to proceed. Since I had the help of book one’s (Sowing) events, I looked at the end of it again to see if I missed something.

And there, I found my issue. I hadn’t quite started Quelling correctly given how Sowing ended, and what I had managed to write, while solid-ish, led to a dead end. So, yet again, I restarted (literally calling it “Fixing Quelling YET AGAIN.” Fifth time’s a charm, right?). While it still needs edited and revised, it’s written.

3. STOP TRYING TO EDIT

This was my vice early on. I never wanted to move on until a part was “perfect.” A few things cured me of this:

a.) having someone else read it and point out all the places it wasn’t even close to perfect (*cringes*),

b.) having something I wrote later in the story require a change to the earlier part that I just spent five hundred hours perfecting (how dare the story take a life of its own!), and finally…

c.) completing a 215k+ story that I slaved over editing and revising and now can’t use a single word directly from (because the plot changed massively, haha! evil little story…evil little characters who were dead for two years and decided they wanted to be alive and change everything… *grumbles*)

All that to say this: STOP trying to perfect it! Stooooopppp ittttt. Just write it, get it down, and go back. I revise a bit as I go, but I don’t agonize over it because I know I’ll tweak it when I edit. The goal is to get the story down where you can see how it all connects (or doesn’t). If you keep “fixing” the beginning, you’ll never reach the end…and you’ll never actually do anything with the story. Make it clean, sure – and move forward

4. TAKE A BREAK ALREADY

I get it. I do. It’s hard to step away from your world(s), your characters. For many, writing is an escape, therapeutic, or a way to relax. We pour our hearts and souls into this art and often get so little in return, feel like we fight for every single word (and then go back and delete them later anyway because they’re so awful and we’re horrible writers and horrible people and what business do we have calling ourselves authors and…)

Yet we can get so caught up in the work that we forget why we fell in love with stories in the first place. We forget the joys of discovering a new world, meeting new characters, losing ourselves in the beauty of words. Everything we write feels dry, life loses its color, and I, for one, get snappy in my regular life. If I’m not writing, I’m not right. (I even have a tattoo that says “write to live.”) So what do you do when the thing that is meant to relax you stresses you out?

Sometimes, you need to step away. Let yourself breathe. Read. Give yourself permission to rest. Find inspiration in someone else’s creation.

And once you’ve done that, come back and try again (with the timer!).

Above all else, know that you’re normal.

And never, ever quit.

Angie Grigaliunas

agtickAngie Grigaliunas (grig-ah-LOO-nahs) is a fantasy writer and blogger. She’s a country girl at heart, in the sense that she wants to be in nature and away from civilization. She loves Jesus, the woods, and the stars, and has always wanted to be a superhero with a secret identity. Seriously.

She has completed four books: one about elves that needs a massive revision before it ever sees the light of day, one that is part of her current story but also needs a massive revision to fit a new storyline, and the actual first and second books (Sowing and Quelling) in her dystopian fantasy series (The Purification Era). When she’s not writing, she’s usually Facebooking – ack! – or thinking about story stuff. Despite several of her writing friends claiming she’s Canadian, she is not; she lives in Ohio with her dear husband, their goofy dog, and their crazy cats.

Sowing

sowing AG“They can take your house, your daughter, whatever they want.”

For Ariliah, life under the militarized Hulcondans is one of order and safety. Despite the soldiers’ ruthless policies, she trusts their judgment. Beyond the city wall, enemies lurk – a vicious race bent on devouring humanity. And if anything ever happened to the protectors, nothing would keep them out.

For her older sister, Rabreah, every glance from a Hulcondan is a threat. When even a whisper against them is treason and treason is death, Rabreah can’t risk one seeing through her as she sees through them. Joining an underground resistance to end their corruption seems like her only hope – until she meets the group’s enigmatic leader and realizes she doesn’t know the people she’s aligned herself with at all.

But when rebellious posters appear throughout the city and people start dying, their world begins to crumble.

And as the line between friend and enemy blurs, both girls must face the truth: everything is about to change.

Sowing is available on Amazon.

 

You learn more about Angie by visiting her Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook page !

*GIVEAWAY*

Click the image below for your chance to win an amazing prize pack!

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Check out last week’s post,  Writing Tips for Busy Authors by Lisa Prysock.

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Writing Tips for Busy Authors

Welcome to Tick-Tock, Writer’s Block. We hope you will find this 10-week series informative as we dive into time management and that little annoyance that seems to plague all writers from time to time, writer’s block.

10 writers have teamed up to offer you tips, tricks, and general information about these issues. We hope this series provides insight and useful tools you can put into practice with your own writing habits!

Don’t miss our giveaway and your chance to win the awesome prize pack we’ve put together! You can enter every Wednesday!

Writing Tips for Busy Authors from The Old-Fashioned Everything Girl

1. Walk, don’t run!

Having just come through a busy season in my life as an author, I believe it is so important to simply keep moving forward at a pace that is sustainable.  As Indie Authors, we take on the work of an entire publishing house made of many departments.  In other words, the workload is huge; the budget is small; stakes are high; the mission is lofty; and ideas and possibilities, endless!   The tendency I fight is to run when most of the time, I really need to just walk and allow the Lord to lead me according to John 14:27!  (Peace, not as the world gives!)

I find myself in busy periods when everything is clicking.  Doors for exposure and marketing opportunities often open in bursts and spurts during seasons which sometimes leave me drained. This can be particularly challenging when writing at the same time– and so often on deadlines.  I have found that it helps to be choosy, to take time to prayerfully consider which opportunities are best, and to keep an organized calendar.  My zeal has at times led me into dangerous territory where I am not able to do anything well.   I try to remember to pull back and put things in perspective through prayer and wisdom.  I believe authors must work smarter, not harder.  Realistic planning and goal setting, re-evaluating, and taking time to refresh are critical elements for me as a writer.  I find it imperative to clear the slate often…  step back, refresh in God’s presence, apply wisdom, adjust my focus accordingly, and work at doing what is the most important.  That can include saying no to some things, postponing some ideas until the time is right, and trying not to bite off more than I can chew.

2. Enjoy the journey!

I think this is one of the most significant tips about being an author.  If we are enjoying what we do, we are doing something right.  Our readers will sense this, our friends will, and so will our family members.   If there is anything that is destroying this particular aspect of being a writer for me, I try to identify it quickly and find solutions that keep the journey fun and rewarding.

3. Pablo is your friend!

Planning some of my marketing posts for social sites ahead of time and scheduling them to post automatically with Hootsuite or Pablo by buffer have been invaluable time saver tools for me since I wear many hats as a busy mother, wife, and writer.  My husband laughs with me when I tell him “Pablo” is my writing friend.  The Lord is my number one, and my family are next, but it doesn’t hurt to have some software genius on my side!   These tools have allowed me to continue writing, homeschooling, and keeping up with my daily to do list while maintaining/building a platform and an online presence.  I recommend planning no more than about one week of posts to keep relevant, but these tools are wonderful for the busy writer who cannot be everywhere at one time.

4. Take care of yourself!

I believe it is so important to live balanced.  This is the hardest thing for me to actually make happen, but I find it vital.  My goals include taking time to get plenty of rest, being in church weekly whenever possible, exercising 3 or 4 times a week, eating healthy foods, refreshing through daily devotional time, doing some things for myself, and spending adequate time with family and friends.  I try to take time to read books, go shopping with my mom and daughter, take walks at the park, jump on the treadmill, have lunch or dinner with a writer friend or family member from time to time, watch a great movie with my husband once a week, etc.  It’s really hard for me to keep these things balanced, but establishing a routine helps… and getting back on track when I feel writing world wreaking havoc.

5. Invest in learning the writing trade!

I have found there are a tremendous number of free online seminars that provide great content, wisdom, advice, tips, and a plethora of help for writers.  These were total game changers for me and have helped me blossom from “brand new and don’t have a clue” to professional, growing, seasoned, and goal oriented.  These have never been a waste of my time.  I take notes, learn a lot, and really enjoy each one.  I’ve also joined two Christian writing organizations and regularly attend meetings whenever I can.  I’ve made writing/author friends who have helped me with questions and strengthened my writing mission.

6. Stay organized and plan!

It has really helped me to purchase a great calendar each year and to create an annual marketing plan based on my broader marketing plan.  I take time to re-evaluate these often.  I have a list of goals and some idea of how to accomplish these goals.  I plan marketing sales and promotions; which types of organizations I’m going to contact; how many books I’m planning to write each year; and many other goals.  My marketing plan and goals are broad and make sense for me.  This has helped me develop my platform and grow in many areas.  Some of my goals include growing my email reader list, getting my books into more libraries, and translating my books into other languages.

Conclusion:  Keep it fun and manageable!

Happy writing to all fellow writers out there with the writing bug!  I hope you find my tips helpful! – Lisa

Lisa Prysock

 

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Lisa M. Prysock lives in the countryside of beautiful, rolling Kentucky just outside of the greater Louisville area near horse farms and four board fences with her husband of 19 years.  She homeschools the two youngest of their five children (three grown).  She and her husband live in an average, two story, Colonial style home they are continually updating– with a funny looking Heinz 57 dog; an adorably dainty lady cat; two teenagers; a vegetable garden; numerous flower beds; and a tree house undergoing a remodel.  When not in teaching or writing mode, she is teaching herself to play the piano and violin.  In regards to that, she laughs:  “It’s a pretty painful process, but I’m truly enjoying it!”

Lisa loves all things old-fashioned and has adopted a slogan of “The Old-Fashioned Everything Girl.”  A few of her interests and passions include doll houses, long dresses and hats, gardening, reading the Classics, butterflies, swimming, walking, working out, cooking, sewing, crochet, cross stitching, arts and crafts, scrapbooking, decorating, and drawing.  Recently, her husband remodeled a room in their home with a picture window overlooking a valley which contains a creek and wooded area, transforming the space into a serene and sublime writing office/sewing room.  “It’s a great source of peace and inspiration for me… and pure joy not to be writing from the busy kitchen amidst the household chaos on a laptop.  Growing teenagers eating every five minutes makes for a constant stream of happenings!”

The Shoemaker

booklisaprysockThe delightfully entertaining story of an impoverished vicar’s daughter, born the youngest of four daughters and one son… Miss Catherine Edwina Lyndon finds she has no other choice than to accept hand-me-down dresses and one delayed, broken dream after another; all whilst her parents make every possible effort to attract husbands for her three older sisters. They spend every extra shilling with this in mind. Her three sisters are now “out” in fashionable society, but Vicar Lyndon is old-fashioned and won’t permit Catherine the same opportunities until at least one or two of her sisters are wed.

Catherine has grown so accustomed to being overlooked, she doesn’t realize her hopes lay on a pile of wasted dreams when she sacrifices the desire for a marriage and family of her own. She is barely holding onto the idea of championing the cause of education reform for women across England after being denied a bold request for entry to a leading university. Aggravated by a contentious new sister-in-law, she escapes the confines of a sheltered life at home in the countryside of Essex by journeying to Northampton. There, she accepts the position of companion to the daughters of an aristocratic family.

Amidst a household full of silly young ladies visiting the daughters of the peerage recently out of mourning, many sent for the holiday by their mothers with their eyes on the handsome older brother now in possession of the Duke’s title, will mercy look down and make a miracle for her this year at Christmas? If so, what situations and who will be the catalysts and antagonists mercy chooses to use?

This novel includes a Regency Glossary and illustrations, shines a brief spotlight on William Law (Church of England priest, writer, and theologian who inspired the evangelical Wesley brothers), Charles Wesley (a leading voice in the founding of the Methodist church and writer of over 6,000 hymns), and Richard Baxter (Puritan leader, theologian, and writer of the 1600’s).

You can contact Lisa and learn more about her by visiting her website, Twitter, and Facebook page !

*GIVEAWAY*

Click the image below for your chance to win an amazing prize pack!

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Check out last week’s post,  Is Doubt Delaying Your Writing? by Stephanie Jones.

Take a look at this awesome line up!

Tick-Tockauthors

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Is Doubt Delaying Your Writing?

Welcome to Tick-Tock, Writer’s Block. We hope you will find this 10-week series informative as we dive into time management and that little annoyance that seems to plague all writers from time to time, writer’s block.

10 writers have teamed up to offer you tips, tricks, and general information about these issues. We hope this series provides insight and useful tools you can put into practice with your own writing habits!

Don’t miss our giveaway and your chance to win the awesome prize pack we’ve put together! You can enter every Wednesday!

Is Doubt Delaying Your Writing?

Over the past month, stress has weighed me down. So much so that anxiety reared its ugly head causing me to doubt my capabilities and expertise.  Have you ever felt this way?  Like there are not enough hours in a day.  Within a three week span, I have four keynotes, all different talks varying from 20-60 minutes.  I kept wondering, how am I going to get this all done?  Should I give up?  Should I just lay on the ground, curl up in a ball and cry?  I didn’t do that, but I have found myself taking a nap or two on my office floor.

One day when I was at my wit’s end and couldn’t think, I hopped in my car and headed to the Indiana Dunes to clear my mind. I had no time for this, but I made time.  My goal was to do seven repeats up the dune.  After completing six, I challenged myself to run all the way to the top.  The picture is me standing at the top, having run up the entire dune!  It was a proud moment.  After jogging down the dune, I crawled into my car, grabbed a pen and paper and developed a plan to squash the doubt that had been holding me back from moving forward.

As I was writing, I thought back to the years, yes years that I was writing my book The Giving Challenge. Do you know why my first book took four years to write?  Doubt.  I think of how much time I wasted questioning my abilities or what I was writing.  How much time I wasted wondering if people were going to like what I was writing.  As a doubter, I’d fill my time with everything, but writing.  Have you been there?

Here are Five Ways You Can Squash Doubt and Save you Time

1. Pray– My mom reminded me, “God has brought you this far, He isn’t going to let you down now.”  She is right.  If something is bothering me, worrying does no good. Take your troubles to Him in prayer.

2. Find a Cheerleader– I have lots of friends, who over the course of the years have been amazing encouragers.  Let your friends know you are going through a rough time and tell them what you need.  Get your writing friends to rally behind you. Don’t hide in your office, crying with the door closed.  Been there done that!  It doesn’t solve anything and it waste time.

3. Accomplishments– When we doubt ourselves we focus on where we are lacking.  Grab a sheet of paper and write down all of your writing accomplishments. Remind yourself you are a qualified writer, and you have something important to say.

4.  One Step at a Time– Writing can be overwhelming. Break down everything you have to do into small steps.  After delaying my writing and wasting precious time, I set myself up for failure because I haven’t given myself enough time to complete a blog or another writing assignment.   When I break the project into smaller, manageable tasks, I’m able to get back on track.

5.  Take Action– Doubt can paralyze us and time moves on but our writing stalls. I know when I was writing my book, I’d go weeks or months without writing because I didn’t have confidence. Once I broke my big goals into small tasks, I focused on taking action. Even if it was writing a paragraph that was more than I’d done the day or week before.  Taking action builds confidence.  Day after day, the compound effect of all the small actions resulted in momentum and a finished book.  As I started to move forward I felt relief that I could, in fact, accomplish what I’d set out to do and squash doubt in its tracks.

Is doubt holding you back and stealing hours from your writing life? If so, take a moment to test out the five steps above, and within a week, I’d love to hear if you are back on track with your writing.

Blessings,

Stephanie

Stephanie Jones

 

Squash doubt

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is the author of The Giving Challenge-40 Days to a More Generous Life (on sale NOW!), a speaker, life success coach, and a daily giver. She challenges people to live their dream, discover their gifts, and do amazing things!

 

 

You can contact Stephanie by email at Stephanie@GivingGal.com and learn more about her by visiting her website, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook page !

*GIVEAWAY*

Click the image below for your chance to win an amazing prize pack!

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Check out last week’s post,  Time to Create by Erin Kincaid. Don’t miss our next post, published every Wednesday!

Take a look at this awesome line up!

Tick-Tockauthors

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Time to Create

Welcome to Tick-Tock, Writer’s Block. We hope you will find this 10-week series informative as we dive into time management and that little annoyance that seems to plague all writers from time to time, writer’s block.

10 writers have teamed up to offer you tips, tricks, and general information about these issues. We hope this series provides insight and useful tools you can put into practice with your own writing habits!

Don’t miss our giveaway and your chance to win the awesome prize pack we’ve put together! You can enter every Wednesday!

Time to Create

Writing, like anything you want in this world, is very hard to make work in your life when you are not being paid to do it full time. I envy those writers that have made it big for one reason only– that someone else thinks their words and thoughts are so valuable that they pay them to make sure that is all they must worry about. How wonderful it would be to write and not have to figure out what is for dinner, wash the laundry, pay the bills or to stop and I don’t know, go to work, maybe?

But alas, many of us are still seeking our big hit in the writing world and so the creation of our masterpieces must find a way into our daily schedules somehow. I am a homeschool mom so my day is full of other people’s education requirements by 8 am. We go strong until about 2:30 pm and then I am magically transformed into an Uber driver. As I rush to libraries, drum lessons, and dental appointments I am thinking about what I need to make for the next meal and calling back clients.  Lucky me, I also get to don the chef’s hat when I get home and so, after a quick jaunt into the supermarket to grab food and toilet paper, which is always in depletion when you are 2/3 boys in your home, I become Martha Stewart in the kitchen with dinner on the table very evening.

Then it is an evening of dishes, more laundry, prep-work for the next day and time with my husband.

Did you see any writing time slotted in there? Nope, because I get to sneak that in to my day at 6 am. In the quiet stillness of each cool morning, I am up at 5:45 am and writing through my process. After months of making this my time to create, it finally worked and I started to find my muse and brain cells around 6:30. Every writer, that must still do other things to sustain their livelihoods, must find their own perfect time of the day or week to create, but this is what worked for me. Maybe it is on your lunch hour or after the dishes are up and the kids are down. For me, 6 am has morphed into my creative space  time slot.

That is not my only trick, though. After attending a Writers Intensive Workshop, led by Mary Demuth, I learned an invaluable skill. The workshop was so valuable and amongst the trove of writing tools Mary bestowed upon us, she taught about the Kan Ban Board. I won’t bore you with the long history of the Kan Ban as you can Google it to your heart’s delight, if you are a research kind of person.

Simply put, Kan Ban is a systematic way to move your tasks from needs-to-be-done to done. For someone who juggles as much as I do, it has been a manna gift from heaven.

The great thing about the Kan Ban is that you can custom design your own, to make sure you are working towards your writing goals, no matter how bad your writer’s block or late night head fatigue is.

kanboardThere are versions online–interactive systems and digital apps you can use if you are more tech-friendly and like to Kan Ban on the go. I am a Post-It kind of gal and so my Kan Ban is on a huge dry erase board near my desk. The board has 3 fundamental columns from which you work: tasks, doing, done. That was too blah for me so my columns are: planted, growing and bloomed. I also have another section called floaters for all the tasks I want to visit but are not mandates to my success. I have those further categorized into: need to read, things to research, writing prompts and random stuff.

There are rules around the process, too. You are not allowed to have more than 3 things in your “growing” category. If you get stumped and cannot move a task through the process in a decent amount of time then what ever task is holding you up, you must put it back to the start position. And, if an emergency happens and you are forced to work on something else, then you must have regulations around that process too. If you don’t, then you end up drifting off course when life gets in the way. I set up my own regulations around these concepts as well. The entire board is completely customizable for you and your needs.

This Kan Ban Board has revolutionized my writing world. Sometimes I cannot get my head around all the other things my day holds and this process helps me to hyper-focus even when I am not feeling it. It also pushes me to flex that writing muscle when inspiration is not doing its part.

We like to glamourize the writing process. The idea that published, and fully paid, writers sit down at their vintage cherry-wood desks in their dimly lit ancient libraries filled with nothing but works of literary art and spend hours dreaming up a world into which we will travel with them is nothing but fiction. Writers need plans and processes and task boards and to-do lists. My to-do list is already full of everything the rest of the world needs me to handle, so the Kan Ban is reserved for my writing. It is holy ground and nothing but tasks for the written word goes on it. And thank God for it, it gets me to my goals and I have visual proof that even though I may not get enough of a paycheck for this job yet, I am still creating like I do.

Excuse me while I go move my “write guest blog post for Tick-Tock/Andy Carmichael” to the bloomed category.

Success!

Erin Kincaid

 

EKPicErin Kincaid, Biblical Counselor, speaker & blogger at ErinKincaid.com and TheTravellingWriterBlog.com. Erin presently writes for Suburban Style Magazine. Past writing endeavors: relationship columnist for D Magazine/D Weddings, author of Expect Respect Teen Dating Violence Prevention Curriculum and Musical Chairs Pre-Marital Curriculum. Erin is presently working on a children’s book called Rock Me Right and a book of essays on life, wit and wisdom for women entitled Dogs for Sale – Life Lessons for Rest of Us.

 

 

You can learn more about Erin Kincaid by visiting

her website and Facebook page !

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Check out last week’s post,  God’s Plans by Virginia Vaughan. Don’t miss our next post, published every Wednesday!

Take a look at this awesome line up!

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God’s Plans

Welcome to Tick-Tock, Writer’s Block. We hope you will find this 10-week series informative as we dive into time management and that little annoyance that seems to plague all writers from time to time, writer’s block.

10 writers have teamed up to offer you tips, tricks, and general information about these issues. We hope this series provides insight and useful tools you can put into practice with your own writing habits!

Don’t miss our giveaway and your chance to win the awesome prize pack we’ve put together! You can enter every Wednesday!

God’s Plans

“You need to stop working,” said the six-year-old little boy with the big brown eyes and a woeful tone. “You have more important things to do…like taking care of me.”

Ouch! Talk about your arrow to the heart.

This time a year ago, my life was very different. I’d finally achieved my dream of becoming a published author and was under contract for more books. Both my sons had finally reached that magical age where they could care for themselves and not occupy my every waking moment. The oldest was twenty-seven and married and the younger, while still at home, was of self-sufficient college aged. I’d arranged my day job to where I went in early, got off early, and had the rest of the day to write. Yet, even with all that time on my hands, I managed to get very little done and complain all the while that I needed more time if I ever wanted to fulfill my dream of being a full-time writer.

*sigh*

I was so naïve.

Then, on an ordinary day in July, I received the phone call that turned my life upside down.  It was my niece calling to say the police and case workers were at her home. “I need you to come get the boys,” she said.

The state of Mississippi Child Protective Services had stepped in and removed these two little ones from their ultra-dysfunctional family situation and if someone didn’t step up to take them in, they would end up in foster care. This wasn’t an out-of-the-blue situation. The issues in this home had been going on for a while and I, along with other family members, had been researching the legal steps needed to intervene. These kids were in a bad situation and bringing them home with me was a simple choice.

I’d already raised two kids on my own, but as I’d mentioned before, they were now grown and it had been nearly twenty years since I’d cared for children so young. I wasn’t as young as I used to be either and I confess I had no idea how my life would change with this decision.  Now, I had not only a job that I had to go to, but kids that had to be fed and bathed and looked after. School meetings, doctor appointments, homework, court hearings, field trips, and a host of other things I hadn’t accounted for that come with raising two very troubled little boys were now my responsibility.

I laugh now at how I bemoaned not having time to write back then because now it has become a mission that must be accomplished (I am still under contract and have to get it done.) My life went through big changes that day and it’s taken me a long time to figure out how to work these changes into my life. My writing life took a hit, suddenly dropping to last on the list. I was flailing, reacting to issues and problems as they came up, waiting until the last possible moment to write proposals and marathon sessions to finish my already contracted manuscripts and dealing with kids who, when I need take time to write, gave me major guilt for not spending time with them. Something had to change.

Then a friend reminded me that life is all about priorities. I had to figure out what my priorities were and put them first no matter the cost. Figuring them out was easy. I knew in my heart that God had called me to write and, for this time anyway, he had called me to care for these children. Those were my priorities. Putting them first was much more difficult.

The main thing for me was that with every issue that arose, I had to make a decision – is this a priority for me? I always thought it seemed cliché to say the laundry could wait and the kitchen didn’t always need to be spotless. However, I’m not a neat freak and housekeeping has never been my big consumer of time. For me, it’s always been about my favorite TV shows, reading, movies, and spending time with friends and family. The DVR has become my best friend, recording all my favorite shows and I usually reward myself after meeting a deadline with a marathon session of catching up on them. An extra bonus is being able to fast-forward through the commercials! That is a huge time saver. I also love audio books because I’m able to read my favorite books while I working, driving, or even grocery shopping. While I miss holding a book in my hands, it’s much more satisfactory than simply cutting reading from my life. And spending time with family and friends has had to become much more intentional. My son and I make a date every couple of weeks to catch up on our favorite show, and I make sure my writing schedule allows for time off during holidays to spend with family. But most of my “free” time these days is spent coloring, pushing kids on the swings, or listening to every tidbit about Minecraft the eight-year-old wants to share. It’s not the plans I had for myself even one year ago, but I wouldn’t change one minute of it.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

 

Virginia Vaughan

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Virginia Vaughan was born and raised in Mississippi and has never strayed far beyond those borders. Blessed to come from a large, Southern family, her fondest memories include listening to stories recounted by family and friends around the large dinner table. She was a lover of books even from a young age and soon started writing them herself. Her current release Mistletoe Reunion Threat, is Book 4 in her Rangers Under Fire series. Look for Book 5, Mission Undercover, releasing August, 2017 and Book 6, Mission: Memory Recall in January, 2018.

 

Mistletoe Reunion Threat

MRT-VV

MISSING CHILD

Someone wants Mississippi prosecutor Ashlynn Morris dead…and they’ve taken her son to get to her. The only person she can trust to get him back is his father, a man who doesn’t even know about their secret child. When grief and survivor guilt pushed army ranger Garrett Lewis to run out on their wedding five years ago, he knew he was leaving behind the love of his life. But a son? Finding out he’s a father has him reeling, especially since his little boy is missing. But now the tormented ex-soldier has a new mission, one that can’t fail. Protect the woman he’s never stopped loving…and bring her son—their son—home for Christmas.

 

 

You can learn more about Virginia Vaughan by visiting

her website, Facebook page , and Twitter!

*GIVEAWAY*

Click the image below for your chance to win an amazing prize pack!

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Check out last week’s post,  Fighting Words by Liz Johnson. Don’t miss our next post, published every Wednesday!

Take a look at this awesome line up!

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Thomas Jefferson, Christianity, and Things that are None of Our Business

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Thomas Jefferson accomplished a great many things in his lifetime. He drafted the Declaration of Independence, was an integral part in the shaping of the United States of America, and served as our third president, but was he actually a Christian?

With the anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birthday rolling around again on April 13th last week, I thought it might be prudent to explore this topic. Time and time again, I’ve heard people say that Thomas Jefferson was an atheist…or at the very least, an agnostic. Meaning he either didn’t believe in God at all, or he believed in some sort of god, but didn’t think it possible for mankind to possess knowledge of the divine. I was taught this in high school and again at college, my professors adamant that though he may have leaned toward Christian principles, he didn’t exactly identify himself as a Christian.

This argument dates back to 1790 when his political opponents were the first to make the accusation. An accusation which, at the time, carried much more weight politically than it does today. Back then, Christianity was the status quo, to accuse one in a leadership position of being anything but was to call them unqualified and phony. Though today’s evangelical right wing certainly cares whether or not a politician is a Christian, this type of mudslinging wouldn’t have the same dramatic effect across the political spectrum as it did in the 18th century.

After reading though many of his letters and quotes, I can say with certainty that I believe Jefferson was indeed a true Christian. The quote below serves as evidence enough, but also led me to an entirely different thought process on the topic (which you’ll see if you read further). In response to Charles Thomson, Thomas Jefferson wrote in regard to a small book he carried, outlining Jesus’ teachings:

“…it is a document in proof that I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus, very different from the Platonists, who call me infidel, and themselves Christian and preachers of the gospel, while they draw all their characteristic dogmas from what it’s Author never said nor saw…”

 

Whoa. Just whoa.

Ok, let’s forget about the issue at hand and investigate that simple statement. Do we not still see this today? There are a great many pastors, leaders, and online personalities who twist the Word to suite their purpose. What about churches who issue sets of their own made-up rules and practices rather than simply following the gospel itself?

If one is simply following Jesus, is that not the epitome of being Christian?

Even still, after having stated his beliefs, it seems to yet remain a mystery to what tenants Jefferson truly subscribed. Why? Because it wasn’t enough for people back then to simply hear someone state they were a Christian. No, he had to prove it. Show it. Live it out loud so that his actions (and good works) would be good enough for all to believe.

Sound familiar?

See, in his time, regular church attendance evidenced faith. It wasn’t sufficient that he simply followed Jesus- I’m taking a bit of liberty here in assuming that he followed Jesus’s teachings because he believed Jesus was indeed the Messiah and history may prove me wrong, or it might not. Jefferson was a very private man when it came to faith, but that’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it. He was also an intelligent, deep thinker. It is my opinion that when he openly spoke against Christianity, it wasn’t the belief system, but rather the man-made religion formed by humans from the belief system. Think about all that he’d seen in his life as a result of man’s misinterpretation of God’s Word. It’s not hard to understand why he considered himself a disciple of Jesus and nothing else.

So, why all the outrage? Why would history show that many of his peers doubted him? Well, for starters, people didn’t like the fact that he was so private about his beliefs.

Again, sound familiar?

At the end of the day, I have to wonder, does any of it even matter?

Sure it does for him and his eternal soul, but for us present-day Americans, what can be learned by exploring this question? If we found definitive proof tomorrow that Jefferson was a stone-cold atheist, would that change the wonderful contributions he made to our developing nation? I don’t think so. He was one of the first proponents for freedom of religion, and for that we owe him and his fellow founders great gratitude.

I think if anything can really be learned from the question at hand, it isn’t whether Thomas Jefferson was actually a Bible-reading, Savior-believing Christian, but more so, why did Thomas Jefferson have to prove it?

What does that say about people back then?

And when you come up with that answer, ask yourself, have Christians changed much over the past 200 years?

A while back, when volunteering at my daughter’s school, I overheard a fellow volunteer discussing her brother with a friend. She said she was worried about his salvation.

The friend asked her, “Why, isn’t he a Christian?”

She responded with an all-knowing smirk, “Well, he says he is, but his language and attitude tell me differently.”

Oh, ok then. Apparently, it is completely our place to judge other people’s hearts. Kind of like Jefferson’s political opponents did to him, though it seems they did so for political gain while we do so to stroke our own identity of self-righteousness.

And yet, his reaction to such accusations only spoke more of his integrity. Jefferson remained steadfast in his beliefs and consistent in his public persona. He didn’t divulge every detail of his religious life, he didn’t jump to attention when called on the carpet, and he surely didn’t change who he was in an effort to impress or be accepted by others. Thomas Jefferson simply remained himself and history would thank him for it hundreds of years later.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for outspoken evangelism that screams ‘Jesus’ to the world every chance we get, when that’s what one is called to do. However, I think it’s worthwhile to remember that everyone isn’t the same. Some people are not comfortable with putting themselves out there like that, and that’s ok. Perhaps they are better suited spreading the gospel through their actions or close relationships. I can appreciate the notion of one being private in their faith. That doesn’t make them a better or worse Christian in my eyes, and it shouldn’t in yours either. Besides, last I knew there is only One qualified to judge.

Just some thoughts for today’s Spark of History. And if you couldn’t tell, Thomas Jefferson is my favorite president. Who’s your favorite American founder or historical hero? Tell me in the comments, I’m always up for an American history discussion!

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Fighting Words

Welcome to Tick-Tock, Writer’s Block. We hope you will find this 10-week series informative as we dive into time management and that little annoyance that seems to plague all writers from time to time, writer’s block.

10 writers have teamed up to offer you tips, tricks, and general information about these issues. We hope this series provides insight and useful tools you can put into practice with your own writing habits!

Don’t miss our giveaway and your chance to win the awesome prize pack we’ve put together! You can enter every Wednesday!

Fighting Words

I used to think that writer’s block was a myth. At least it was for me. It wasn’t that the words always flowed perfectly or that I loved everything I wrote. But when I sat down to write, there were always words to be found. Perhaps not great ones, but definitely fixable ones.

But somewhere around book four or five, I began struggling to find the words. Every letter, line, and page became a battle. I wasn’t looking for perfect, but I couldn’t even find passable.

And every struggle was accompanied by a little voice in my head that said, “You’re doing this wrong.” Every session at my computer included a reminder, “You’re not good enough. Someone is going to point out that you’re a fraud, and they’ll be right.”  And when I heard, “You’re never going to be as good as so-and-so,” I quit even trying to find the words.

And that’s when I knew the truth—writer’s block is real.

But acknowledging it and beating it are two very different things. To fight it I had to get to the root. And—for me, anyway—it always begins with fear. Fear of not measuring up. Fear of letting my editor, agent, or family down. Fear of bad reviews and terrible sales.

Fear of not being enough.

And that usually begins with comparison. Because if it’s just me, doing the best that I can, writing the best book I’m capable of, then I can’t lose. But if I’m comparing my methods, I generally come up short. I have friends who can and do regularly write 7500 words in a day. On my very, very best days, I’ve only hit 6000. I know of writers who get up at 4am to write before the rest of their day starts. I’d be comatose if I tried to do that.

When I compare outcomes, the results aren’t much better. There will always be someone with higher sales, better reviews, and more awards. There will always be writers with more contracts, more releases, and more education.

It’s a simple formula.

Comparison = Fear of Not Measuring Up = Writer’s Block

I was on a writing retreat a few years ago, when I hit a wall. I’d taken a quick Facebook detour and seen that a friend of mine had written 9000 words in one day. I hadn’t even written half that many, and I’d been at it all day. And that’s when the familiar voice returned. “You’re doing this wrong.”

For just a moment, I was tempted to believe it. After all, my methods sure didn’t look like my friend’s. My results from a long weekend of writing were barely better than her one day efforts. Clearly if I plotted better or gave up plotting altogether or learned to turn off my inner-editor, I would be doing it right. And I would write just as fast. Maybe it wasn’t worth it to keep writing if I wasn’t even doing it the right way.

And then came a still small voice I had missed before. “That voice you hear is lying to you. Ignore it. Here’s the truth: I’ve given you a love of writing and a talent that is uniquely yours. I didn’t give you what I gave others. Your stories are your own. Write them to the best of your ability. And leave the rest up to Me.”

Immediately I thought about the parable of the talents in the New Testament. In that story, the master, who represents God, gives his servants each a portion. One receives ten talents, another five, and a third only one. The master goes away for a while, and when he comes back, he discovers that the first two servants invested their talents wisely, but the third buried his money because he was afraid. Upon the master’s return, he had nothing to show.

That realization was a bit of smack in the face for me. I don’t want to be like the third servant, who got a stern talking to from the master. Even worse, his talent was taken from him and given to first servant.

I don’t know if God is in the habit of taking away gifts that His children don’t use, but I don’t want to find out. If I’ve been given a talent—a love and passion for the written word—then I’m going to use it. And I’m not going to listen to the lies the devil whispers in my ear. After all, he’s the original liar.

When I recognized that the whispers I’d been listening to for so long were lies, I had to fight them. And what do you use to fight a lie? The truth.

A few months ago, I discovered a song that I wish I’d had in that hotel room all those years ago. Ellie Holcomb’s “Fighting Words” has become my mantra and my reminder when I hear those lies. If you haven’t heard it, here are the opening lines:

Fear is like a broken record, same old songs of accusation play

Like, “who are you to speak the truth, just look at all your failures and mistakes”

And “If they really knew you, there’s no way they could love you anyway”

Oh-oh-ohh, but I will…

Fight the lies with the truth, oh-ohh

Keep my eyes fixed on You

Check out the video –> here.

 My fighting words are:

·         I’m a daughter of the King.

·         I am loved and valued.

·         My gifts are unique.

·         My goals are original.

·         I honor God when I use the gifts He’s given me.

·         No book I write or award I win will make God love me more. Or less.

·         He is always enough, so I don’t have to be.

What are your fighting words?

 

Liz Johnson

LJohnson_002_sm

Liz Johnson fell in love with Prince Edward Island the first time she set foot on it. When she’s not plotting her next trip to the island, she works as director of marketing for a Christian radio network. She is the author of more than a dozen novels, including The Red Door Inn, Where Two Hearts Meet, and the forthcoming On Love’s Gentle Shore, a New York Times bestselling novella, and a handful of short stories. She makes her home in Tucson, Arizona.

 

 

Where Two Hearts Meet

Where Two Hearts Meet cover - finalIn her kitchen at the Red Door Inn, executive chef Caden Holt is calm, collected, and competent. But when her boss asks her to show off their beautiful island to impress a visiting travel writer and save the inn, Caden is forced to face a world much bigger than her kitchen–and a man who makes her wish she was beautiful.

Journalist Adam Jacobs is on a forced sabbatical on Prince Edward Island. He’s also on assignment to uncover a story. Instead he’s falling in love with the island’s red shores and Caden’s sweets.

When Caden discovers Adam isn’t who she thought he was, she realizes that the article he’s writing could do more than ruin the inn’s chances for survival–it might also break her heart.

Readers will discover hope for the hurting, joy for the broken, and romance for the lonely at the enchanting Red Door Inn.

 

You can learn more about Liz Johnson by visiting

her website, Facebook page , and Twitter!

*GIVEAWAY*

Click the image below for your chance to win an amazing prize pack!

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Check out last week’s post, There’s No Such Thing as a Wasted Word by Rachel McMillan. Don’t miss our next post, published every Wednesday!

Take a look at this awesome line up!

Tick-Tockauthors

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There’s No Such Thing as a Wasted Word

Welcome to Tick-Tock, Writer’s Block. We hope you will find this 10-week series informative as we dive into time management and that little annoyance that seems to plague all writers from time to time, writer’s block.

10 writers have teamed up to offer you tips, tricks, and general information about these issues. We hope this series provides insight and useful tools you can put into practice with your own writing habits!

Don’t miss our giveaway and your chance to win the awesome prize pack we’ve put together! You can enter every Wednesday!

There’s No Such Thing as a Wasted Word

As a writer who also has a full time job, working on tight deadlines has become a part of my life. Many publishers are trying new ways to release books to appeal to a Netflix culture where the demand to read the next in a series is becoming more and more prominent. They need the books in the reader’s hands faster and, subsequently, the writer has to be able to speed up and meet those demands at a flurrying pace.

Writers now in a very tumultuous climate with few coveted traditional publishing spots on offer, you have to be willing to rise to the challenge. And, like any job, prove that you are willing to work within the rubrics of your publisher’s demands—including tight deadlines.

I speak to traditional publishing above, but I believe deadlines inform all manner of writing. The most successful writers set personal deadlines for their independent releases and for those pre-published authors, for submitting queries to agents or presenting a manuscript to their agent for submission into the great big publishing world.

The moment you decide to pursue traditional publishing as a full-time worker, the moment you realize that the days of the luxury of writer’s block are over. You no longer have the privilege to wait for inspiration. Every single moment of free time becomes precious. At one point last year I was writing the first draft of a novel, finishing content edits on a novella and doing the line edits on another novella: all while marketing my book and making sure I was making the deadlines of guest posts and interviews. My output needed to be fast and I needed to make sure I was balancing my writing commitments without letting my day job (the one that pays the bills ) suffer. For a writer who wrote for 20+ years before daring to find an agent, I was used to languid and slow work, tapping away as a hobby. I needed to up my game and write around the block.

I quickly learned thereafter that there is NO such thing as a wasted word. I would use my lunch breaks to finish all marketing, I would use my subway commute to revisit galley edits and I would use my time at the gym to read over my content edits on my kindle. My life was a cornucopia of words.

When every word counts, you learn how to be more efficient about them. For example, if I am stuck on a scene, I move ahead making a note to loop back later. If I have a great idea for a sequence that won’t take place until the end action of the book, I open a new word document and write and write and write it down ready to be spliced into the manuscript at a needed time. If I am having an off day and the words I am typing seem to be a jumble of nonsense, I keep going. Because, sure enough, you can find a snippet or two to highlight from your jumbled nonsense to later transpose into your story.

As long as you are writing, you are creating valuable output. A paragraph you cut in an early draft of one novel might just be the descriptive you need for a later scene in a different novel. Every word counts.

If your novel is on submission to editors or agents, immediately start writing something else. While my first novel was making the rounds with editors, I immediately started a completely different project in the name of having something in my back pocket. When my agent suggested I abandon that for the moment in hopes of finding a home with a fresh idea that seemed to align with industry needs, I abandoned it as well to start something new. It was the third attempt that was the charm for my foot in the traditional publishing door. And since it was less than two years since I signed with my agent, it meant that my word count output during that time in the name of having several options to try and land a publishing spot was kind of insane. I basically wrote 3 novels in 2 years even BEFORE I was contracted. But what about all the hours of research and writing for my first novel? Since it was a straight historical set during the Great War, I transplanted some of it into The White Feather Murders: my upcoming release that is set at the cusp of WWI. What about all the research and writing I did over a summer for my second abandoned project: a straight historical set during the American Revolution? Those research trips to Boston? I am currently infusing my new project with its cadence and tone — even though it looks different than what I originally envisioned… and its action is set in 1930s Boston and the research trips haven’t stopped, I have just jumped forward a few hundred years.

Being an author means being malleable. It means being willing to set aside the darlings of your heart to take your words in new directions. Abandoned projects see the light of day in different forms and painstaking research and archival digging find new life in original stories. But at the core of all the headaches and frustration and ticking clocks and lack of sleep and over-caffeinated stimulation that buzzes through your veins and trembles your fingertips is one certainty: you have nothing to work with if you have no words.

So play! Keep a notebook in your pocket at all times! Record a great descriptive sentence on your iPhone. Make sure you have a repository of words to work from: they may end up being transformed into something amazing and new and unexpected. But, it is awfully hard to have a finished novel without them.

Rachel McMillan

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Rachel McMillan works in Educational publishing by day and scribbles at night.  She is the author of the Herringford and Watts series culminating in  The White Feather Murders  which releases on May 1. Rachel lives in Toronto, Canada and enjoys traveling near and far, spending far too much time at the theatre seeing Broadway shows and reading and re-reading her favourite books.

THE WHITE FEATHER MURDERS

Coming May 1, 2017

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Uncommon Heroes…or Unsuspecting Victims?

Toronto, 1914. Merinda Herringford and Jem Watts never could have imagined their crime-solving skills would set them up as emblems of female empowerment in a city preparing to enter World War I at the behest of Great Britain. Yet, despite their popularity, the lady detectives can’t avoid the unrest infiltrating every level of society.

A war measure adopted by Mayor Montague puts a target on Jem and her Italian husband, Ray DeLuca. Meanwhile, deep-rooted corruption in the police force causes their friend, Constable Jasper Forth, to wonder if his thirst for upholding the law would be best quenched elsewhere.

In spite of these distractions, Merinda, Ray, and Jasper join with other honorable and courageous city leaders in the Cartier Club, which exists to provide newly arrived residents of Toronto with a seamless integration in the city.

When a club member turns up dead, bearing a slanderous white feather, will Merinda, Jem, and those they hold dear be able to solve the high-stakes mystery before they’re all picked off, one by one?

You can learn more about Rachel McMillan by visiting her website, Facebook page , Instagram, and Twitter!

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Check out last week’s post, How Embracing Your Inner Procrastinator Can Make You a Better Writer by Teresa Tysinger. Don’t miss our next post, published every Wednesday! Take a look at this awesome line up!

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