Category Archives: Writing

Living Up to Subtitles

The subtitle of my blog is “A Writer’s Journey.” Yet when I read through my entries over the last few years, other than chronicling the occasional writers conference, I’ve talked of anything but.

I’ve been writing (obviously), but as far as sharing my pursuit of publication, not so much. How can I write about something I’m not doing?

Yep, I’ve been lazy. Procrastination is a real thing—if largely self-inflicted.

I managed to fight off the lazy/procrastination bug this time. Yesterday I sent off the two requests for proposals that I mentioned in a previous entry.

So now I get to wait. Always my strong suit (not). I have to force myself not to check my email 156 times a day.

Although, much to my surprise and delight, one of the editors emailed me back saying my proposal was received and will be delivered to the appropriate team to read through. Normally a publisher/agent won’t send a response unless it’s an acceptance, rejection, or request for more information. This is the first time I received an acknowledgment that it was received.

The best part is I now don’t have to worry about my submission getting lost in email limbo (the other was submitted through an online submission form).

This publisher prefers series over stand-alone novels. The one I sent is currently just one book, but as I do with all my novels, I leave a door or two open for more. That means I should probably start the second… Even if they don’t take it, I should probably write it anyway. Most publishers prefer series over stand alone novels, especially for sci-fi and fantasy.

At the very least doing so will keep me off social media. I’m a bit frustrated with it all at the moment. It seems people can only talk about the one thing-that-shall-not-be-named, and I’m not inclined to participate. It’s not beating a dead horse at this point, it’s pounding the poor horse’s sun-bleached bones into dust.

Realm Makers – Day 2

The problem with writers conferences is so much happens. Boiling it all down into a manageable chunk can be… challenging. After all the classes and workshops, the brain gets full. Mine’s so full, I think it’s leaking out my ears. Or at least should be. Or maybe I just need to clean out the wax…

My favorite part of the day had nothing to do with the classes or on my appointments (more on that in a bit).

The Havok Magazine team met for lunch at a Greek sandwich shop called Dino’s (yummy. I love me some Greek Gyros). I was good today and ordered a Greek salad instead of a gyro, though. I ate myself stupid yesterday and knew I would be eating myself stupid again for supper. They cancel each other out, right?

Anyway, at lunch, one of the Havok volunteers thanked me for publishing one of her short stories, and later one of the authors for whom we accepted just last week also thanked me. I didn’t expect such sincere gratitude, because even though I sent the acceptance letters, the choosing and editing is a team effort. I can take some, but certainly not all the credit.

One of the sessions I’m attending is on finding readers and being irresistible to them. Not so much about marketing, per se, but about looking at marketing in a different way. Because most readers despise the idea. Instead, he said, reframe it into building relationships instead of making a sale. That’s the one thing that always drove me away from the idea. I’m not a salesman (or woman). I see it as trying to take advantage, or seeing my readers, not as people, but as walking wallets. I never want to even appear that way. So what I need to do is soul search a bit to find what about me and my writing will attract readers, and what can I do to build a relationship with them? It’s a tough question that may take a while to answer.

Which segues me into my first appointment. I presented my fantasy which the editor was intrigued enough to ask for a proposal. Not the complete manuscript, but no matter. It’s a step in the right direction (plus it gives me time to tweak it in a few areas I know need tweaking). I also asked for advice on where to find potential readers, which for fantasy and sci-fi is mostly Instagram and TikTok. She also gave me some people to follow to see how they use Instagram that I can emulate.

As for my second appointment, I presented my mainstream sci-fi story, because her publishing house leans more mainstream/secular audiences. I stumbled a bit when she asked what my main character’s arc was. For some reason I drew a blank, because, at least in the first book, it’s a bit multitudinous, and continues on into the trilogy (the second of which is complete). Once she asked if it was more than one, then I was able to tell her the overall arc. Whew! Bullet dodged! She also asked me submit a proposal as well as gave me some great advice on how to fix my first chapter (which had fairly important, but easily fixed issue). The best compliment she gave me was, “Your voice is sci-fi. I can see that right away.” I always question my voice and if it’s a fit for whatever genre I’m writing in. That it fit with this book is a big relief.

But it’s getting late, so I will say good night now.

“Good night now!”

Gotta ‘nother full day of classes tomorrow. No appointments, though, which takes away some of the stress.

For the Love of…

I can’t say I truly love language. If I did, I would have spent a lifetime studying more than my native tongue and digging deeper into its intricacies. If anything, when I write, I do so largely by instinct. I can define few of its rules such as “dangling participle” without having to look it up first.

I can, however, say I love the idea of it. I love how it can be used as a weapon as easily as it can heal. It brings people together, encourages creativity. It also causes wars and strife.

God loves language. He created the universe by speaking it into existence (Genesis 1:1-31 & Ps. 33:6). One of Jesus’ names is the Word of God (John 1). Scripture warns us of its power to destroy as well as create (see Proverbs 11:9, 15:4, 16:24 & 18:21).

Yesterday while perusing Netflix, I saw the description of the movie (based on the book by the same name), “The Professor and the Madman” (2019): “Completing the first dictionary will take a bit of smarts and a bit of madness. The words will come eventually,” I was of course intrigued. It’s about how the Oxford Dictionary was first written, the challenges of such a massive endeavor, and how it nearly failed without the help of a criminally insane murderer who alone submitted over 10,000 words.

Mel Gibson plays the professor and Sean Penn plays the madman. Incredibly acted by both, and the dialog alone is fantastic. One quote in particular stuck with me:

“… for every word in action becomes beautiful in the light of its own meaning.”

Words matter; their definitions equally so. Because without their definitions including their etymology (origin), they become flat if not ultimately meaningless—a bunch of letters strung together and nothing else.

Which is why I get particularly grumpy when people (especially our government and other powers that be—including the current Oxford Dictionary publisher, ironically enough) try to erase or ban words, or change their meaning to either make them meaningless or the direct opposite of their origin.

We must protect words and their definition/origins as we would anything else we hold dear, because without language, we can no longer call ourselves human.

A Smorgasbord

I can’t believe it’s been a month since I posted an entry. Where did the time go?

My mind has been kinda… full, I guess you’d say. From editing short stories for “Havok Magazine” and chapters submitted by two writers groups, taking some online courses on writing and focusing on God as I write, beginning a bible study on the book of Daniel, working full time, and all other typical daily routines, I don’t suppose I should be surprised I haven’t been keeping up here.

Yet I have been trying to write a daily paper journal. That’s been fun. A change of pace. I still have good handwriting, too!

The nice thing about keeping a paper journal is I don’t have to worry about self-censoring, because I know no one will read it. At least not until I purposefully show someone. Or after I’m dead.

I don’t do that much, here, either, but that’s because I know you, my readers aren’t going to call me names for voicing an opinion you don’t like. I appreciate that, so thank you!

Quite a few years ago, I kicked myself off social media for an entire year. I ended up writing over 250,000 words. Talk about productive! With all the current upheaval of social media, I’m thinking it’s time to do it again. Taking every Sunday off has helped my peace of mind, but I think it’s not enough anymore. It’s a terrible place at times, and I too often feel depressed or at least anxious after spending a few minutes there. God’s way of telling me to walk away, perhaps?

One thing I won’t quit is this blog, though. I like it here, and I still long to put my words out there. I just need to be smarter about it. More focused.

I’m also reading more. For fiction I’m reading Brandon Sanderson’s “The Stormlight Archive, Books 1-3.” I’m 450 words into the over 3400 word story. It’s a good thing I read fairly fast!

For non-fiction, I go back and forth with Matt Walsh’s, “Church of Cowards” and Dennis Prager’s, “Rational Bible: Genesis.” Both are meaty books, so I take those in small doses.

What books are you reading?

100!

I just received a notification that my humble blog has reached 100 followers. In today’s online world, that number may seem anemic, perhaps even something to avoid bragging about.

Considering I write more than market this blog, 100 followers is more than I expected.

So now I have to find a way to thank each one of you… perhaps share one of my short stories? A series of devotionals I wrote for my church? Reader’s choice?

I’ll let you decide.

Spiritual Blockage

Last week I once again signed up to write a few devotions for my church during Advent. While normally greedy by picking between four and six, I chose two (mostly because we were asked to pick only one or two).

As I read through the suggested passages of the first day I chose, I noticed what I can only describe as a spiritual blockage. I couldn’t care about the passages, had no desire to prayerfully seek out wisdom and discernment, and allow God to use his voice through me.

It was a bit startling, and… sad. I honestly had no idea how much I’ve been struggling of late until that moment. I’ve kept it quiet, putting on a brave face—for myself as much as for everyone else.

I could attempt to convince myself that pretending to be strong and “together” was for the benefit of those around me, because they need me to be strong. That may be partially true, but I must also be honest if I am to learn and grow.

Pride is once again my main motivation.

Anyone who’s read my blog for a while knows I don’t enjoy admitting I’m weak. In fact, I hate it.

Yet it must be done. If I continue to allow pride determine my thoughts and actions, it becomes an idol and leaves no more room for God.

My apathy toward the passages mentioned above was God’s way of slamming a door in my face and saying, “You’re neither prepared nor equipped to uplift others until you let me uplift you.”

I like to think God uses the words I write to speak to others, but (again, I must be honest) most often the words that spill from my fingers end up speaking to me. That last statement above in quotes is one of them. I had to stop typing for a few minutes, because I could no longer see through the sudden tears. Just thinking about them now makes me want to cry all over again.

Because that’s who God is. Always aware, always standing by, ready to give us whatever we need—as long as we remain open to receive and accept what he offers with gratitude, praise, and thanksgiving.

And humility.

“Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless… But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-29, 31 (NLT)

The Mighty Pen

A few days ago, my hubby and I met with some friends at a restaurant. Most of the conversation circled around firearms, but then it turned toward other subjects such as the riots, and other issues and controversies of the day.

Soon the conversation turned toward social media.

One mentioned how he doesn’t always agree with what I write on Facebook. He considers responding, but ends up leaving no comment. He said my posts are so well written, anything he adds would look stupid by comparison. “I simply don’t know how to write with as good of grammar as you do.”

Aside and disclaimer: this is not meant as a braggadocios post, but something else, which I will explain further.

I quirked by head at him and said, “Huh. I never thought of using good grammar as a weapon before.”

“That’s exactly what it is,” he said. “A weapon.”

Another piped up with, “The pen is mightier than the sword after all.”

The problem with some cliches is they often become so common, they take on a certain abstraction with no real-world value people can use in their daily life. I’ve used the pen versus sword phrase before in previous posts, usually to say that we need to ever be aware of every word we speak or write. They can tear people down as easily as they can uplift.

Yet I still never considered writing well (having good grammar) as a weapon to the point people wouldn’t want to engage—feeling inadequate to the task.

in some ways I was gratified by the comment, but it also made me sad. I never want to intimidate anyone with my skills. I want them to be inviting and informative so people will engage, even if they disagree. Sometimes especially if they disagree. I would rather look like a fool for a moment than a fool forever because I didn’t take the time to listen and learn something new.

I get it though.

I like to sing, and love to belt out tunes while in my car or alone in the house. I may even be fairly good at it. I also don’t know how to read a single note of music. I couldn’t distinguish a B from an A to save my life.

If a professional singer asked me to do a duet, however, I would have to politely decline. I’m simply not skilled enough—feeling inadequate to the task. ‘Tis better to sit in the corner and not engage.

At the same time, by not taking up the invitation, I deny myself the benefit of the singer’s skills to possibly improve my own.

Sure, in some instances I like the idea of wielding my grammar skills as a weapon, but I prefer to wield them to teach and edify, but mostly as an invitation to discuss ideas and learn from others.

No Bad News

I think we can all agree social media and much of the Internet can be a toxic place. It’s where we vent, argue and too often call each other nasty names—all without having to accept any consequences thereof.

We also have the choice to either not participate, or offer something better.

Starting tomorrow, I’m going to offer something better.

Over the last few years, I’ve written short devotions for my church (about 300 words or one page each). Some are pretty good—if I say so myself—and there’s nothing stopping me from sharing them with the rest of you.

The surest cure for emotional and mental toxicity is emotional and mental positivity. While some of you may not share my faith, I promise nothing of what I share from now on is an attempt to preach at or convert you. My only desire is that you find a little joy and hope in my words.

Consider my page from now on a no bad news area.

Motivational Asides

Some like to create controversy. It boosts their readership–clickbait if you will. While I like to see as many readers and comments as anyone else, since I don’t receive any funds from the number of clicks/reads I get, I can’t really claim clickbait status.

When people click on my Twitter profile, this is the first tweet they see:

“I use Twitter to comment on politics, culture, and religion. I’m opinionated, but I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I like hearing differing points of view on varied subjects because I want to learn.

“I always appreciate civil discourse even if we disagree in the end.”

I also like to give my point of view on subjects with the hope it’s different enough that people will stop and think about it, maybe even do their own research to discover whether I’m right or full of [censored] (believe it or not, it’s been known to happen. Occasionally).

Do I hope to change minds? Absolutely! Do I expect it? Nope–as frustrating as that can be at times.

In talking to a friend recently, I mentioned how I may have lost a few friends online due to all my bloviating of late. I don’t know for sure, because I don’t keep track, and there’s nothing I can do about it anyway.

That was a lesson hard learned, honestly. We all want to be loved, respected and heard. When I was a wee youngin’, friends were difficult to come by. While I have some guesses as to why, only when I reached my twenties did I figure out that love, respect and a listening ear can’t (or should) be forced. I have to freedom to choose whom I will love, respect and listen to, so how could I ever believe everyone else didn’t have that same freedom?

So while I like to share my opinions–however controversial–and be heard, I also want to give as many people as possible the same opportunity–even if I disagree.

Part of being heard is to listen, so if you’ve waded through all my rants of late relatively unscathed (or scathed, but waded through anyway), you have my undying love and respect. And, if you walk away from this entry with anything, I want you to know that you have also been heard.