Follow my journey toward publication. Laugh, cry, point and stare-- it's all good. I'll leave a trail so that you, my fellow author, may have a straighter path to finding your own elusive publishing contract. Adventure awaits. Let's travel together...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Okay, so ysterday it was in the mid-80's.  But around my house we are prepping for Christmas productions with choir and the Women's Luncheon, and the house has been filled with carols.  In the morning, before that sun had gotten very far in it's path, we actually did need to turn on the heater.  And ya know, I love these little things that make me feel like the seasons are changing.  Sometimes it's not the temperature but the angle of the sun that tells me it's Autumn.  In my mind's eye (if nowhere else), I can picture the vivid colors of falling leaves, the wind with a bit of a nip that turns your nose pink, the smoke rising from the chimney of a cozy cottage with a white-picket fence, corduroy and turtlenecks and pumpkins on every doorstep. It's something like the autumn Kohl's catalog meets It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  So forget the thermometer, we're simmering potpourri and listening to Vivaldi's Autumn and insisting on living this day as if it is 68 degrees instead of 86.

Which brings me to my question for all of you... What is your favorite kind of weather?  Are you a sun-and-surf person, or a rainy-day kind of gal (or guy!)?  What role does the weather, or nature, play in your imagined "perfect day"?

And, for you authors, what is your best writing weather?  What is the worst?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Good Hook?

With Clash of the Titles focusing on Opening Pages these first two weeks, I'd like to find out from you- what makes a good opening or "hook"?  What baits you? What do you personally look for in a book's first pages that make you want to take it with you and read it cover to cover?

For me, it's emotion.  I want to become the character and feel what they feel.  A good book's opening pages will immediately place me in the world of the main character- thinking like them, feeling like them.  If I can feel the character I will want to follow the journey to its conclusion.  It doesn't matter to me if that journey is grand or small-scale; past, present, or future; on a farm or on the moon. If I can step into the character's psyche, and it's "real", you've got me.

What about you?  Please share what you love to find in the first couple pages of a good book!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Work of a Writer-When Not Writing

Good morning!  I hope you all have been enjoying the beautiful change of weather we've been having.  I know I sure have.  I was starting to think Fall would never arrive!  And there's something about the season that really invites a good read, isn't there?  A cozy blanket, a hot mug of coffee/cider/cocoa, a crackling fire, and a gripping novel... doesn't that sound grand?

Then I realized... someone judging with Operation First Novel has probably finished MY book by now.  I pray they found it gripping!  I am still waiting patiently to hear word whether or not I am a semi-finalist in the OFN contest.  I have another month to wait!  What am I working on now? Well, I've begun outlining my next novel and there's nothing I'd like more than to dig in and throw myself 100% into the process, but LIFE has been keeping me pretty busy away from writing. Today, however, is one of my daughters' last day of school for a month and maybe that means more time for me to write.

There's plenty of non-writing work for a writer to do though, and a big part of that is making connections. Relationships. Entwining your circle with those of other authors and people involved with the business of making books. And what a blessing it is! I am making some amazing friends through COTT. Friends I admire and am happy to glean wisdom from.  Friends who have gone before me out into the world of publishing and whose journeys I can learn from.  It's so exciting!  If you are an aspiring author trying to write the next Great American Novel in the solitude of your closet, expecting to one day burst onto the scene and be adored by millions... don't.  Don't isolate yourself, don't keep company only with your characters (though I know how tempting that can be sometimes!) Get out and meet people, help people, learn from people.

Well, I have a day filled with preparation for a Bingo tonight, and I can't wait!  I am looking forward to laughing and visiting, to giving away lots of goodies to brighten people's days, and I'm feeling blessed by all those coming out to support me and my book.  Thank you!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The First Clash

The first-ever Clash of the Titles starts today!  I hope you will enjoy this sparring adventure.  Be sure to visit, read the excerpts and vote for your favorite.  Then enter to win a free novel!  With the weather finally changing around here, it's perfect for lighting a fire in the fireplace and reading a good book.

Have fun!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Not A Dress Rehearsal

My pastor on Sunday used this phrase, "It's not a dress rehearsal", referring to life.  Whatever it is we want to do for Christ, we have one life to do it.

I really held onto that.  There's no do-overs, there's no practice.  This is it.  My husband, my children, my ministries, my role in these relationships- it's all a now-or-never/ do-or-die kind of thing. And time is ever slipping away.  So I've been pondering this the last few days...

The difference between a dress rehearsal and the real show is that the real show brings a sense of urgency; a sense of intensity, concentration, and focus. THIS IS IT, DON'T BLOW IT.  So these words bring with them the call to action- to not put off those things you talk about wanting to do, like daily devotions, weekly family times, volunteering, studying the Bible more deeply, or having a heart-to-heart talk with your kids/spouse/loved one about Christ.  Don't say "some day I'd like to do this".  Do it now.  The heat is on.

But you know what else is different between the show and the rehearsal?  Yes, there is more pressure during the show.  But there's another awesome difference.  During the live performance, the show must go on!  If you flub a line, hit a wrong note, or miss a cue, you don't cry or walk off the stage or even break character- you keep going.  You don't have the option of wallowing in self-pity over your mistakes- you're in the middle of a show!  Someone is watching!  In rehearsals you might stop and examine the mistakes and even berate yourself or others to getting it right next time, but when Opening Night arrives there is no time for that.  It's part of the rush of excitement that is experienced by performers.  There's urgency, focus, on what is coming, and freedom in forgetting, what is past.  It's the only way to make it through a show.  It's the only way to live for Christ. What a freeing concept!  Yes, I only have one shot to live this life the way I aspire to.  But sweating my mistakes along the way will only hinder me.  Focus.  Then forget.  Focus.  Then forget.  Repeat as necessary!

"Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things wich are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
~Philipians 3:13

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Decompressing, Clash of the Titles and My First Interview

I've been MIA for the past week, busy doing what I set out to do after mailing in my manuscript, which is shore up the non-writing areas of my life like family, church, and homeschooling my daughter.  So I hope you will forgive me for my absence. 

It's funny how so often when a challenging situation is upon us we are able to roll up our sleeves, step up to the plate, and get to work.  Tasks we might consider near impossible get done when we rise to the occassion and eat that elephant one bite at a time.  But as soon as we take that last bite or fulfill the last responsibility, the stress we shrugged off along the way seems to finally come crashing down, doesn't it?  That's what I felt like after the thrill of mailing off my manuscript.  I had been laser-focused for months on getting my edits done and psyching myself up for entering the contest, and a day or two after it was in the mail I found myself battling a mini-depression.  Luckily I knew the source, and I knew how to handle it (prayer and support of family).  I wonder though if other writers experience something similar whenever they send a final draft to their editors/agents.  Is this a cycle I should expect regularly?  So I've allowed myself the time to re-center and just slow down the pace and decompress. 

However, as the first official "Clash of the Titles" week approaches, the excitement is building!  I hope all of you, my followers and lurkers, will check out COTT and participate in our voting process- you won't be disappointed!  And with that in mind, I am also so excited to share my first interview.  Today I visited over at Lynda Schab's blog and answered some questions regarding COTT.  So stop by and say hello!  I'll be sure to smile and wave to you from my spot in the blogosphere. =)

~ Michelle