Saturday, June 7, 2014

Where on Earth Have You Been?

I know. It's been a looooooooong time since I posted. Like, half a year.

So where did I go?

Well, I moved. To Upstate South Carolina, the place I've wanted to live for three years. God is so good.

And my blogging efforts have moved. I've reevaluated all of the things I've been doing and had to prioritize. At the advice of my writing mentor and my agent, I've decided to shift my blogging to places where I am not the only person providing content.

What does that mean to you, my dedicated readers that I appreciate more than I could ever tell you?

If you have followed me for my encouraging and inspirational posts, please subscribe to Inspire A Fire. I am the Senior Editor of that site and will be taking up posting on a regular basis alongside the many talented writers I have on staff and contributing. I would love to continue encouraging and inspiring you from there.

If you have followed me for my writing posts, please subscribe to The Write Editing. I am co-writing with Andrea Merrell, and we are providing professional information about writing and editing on our new blog. I am currently writing a 5-part series called "Boredom Busters." Join me at The Write Editing to find out how to keep your readers turning pages. PS - We also run contests and have a guest blogger each month. Last month Ann Tatlock joined us. This month, Social Media Queen Edie Melson will share "You Might Be an Editor If..."

Once again, I thank you from the depths of my heart for sticking with me these past six years at The Thoughtful Spot. You're the best! I hope I'll see you at one or both of my new writing "spots."

Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday {in focus} ~ I'm Awesome and I Know It

Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth;
A stranger, and not your own lips.
{Proverbs 27:2}

One of the most difficult things we have to do as writers is create our bio.
Why is this so difficult?
Because we have to talk about ourselves. And we hate talking about ourselves.
We don't want to appear egocentric.
After all, the Scripture tells us that we should not boast about ourselves, right?

Let me relieve you from the guilt.
Think of it this way:
You're a professional, and you need a resume just like everyone else who is a professional.
What do you do in a resume? You talk about yourself and all that you have accomplished.
Because you want to be hired for the job.
So think of your bio in the same way. It's your resume. It tells people that you know what you are writing about. Or speaking about. Or teaching at a conference.

A second way to look at your bio is as if someone is meeting you for the first time. 
What do people talk about when they meet one another? Themselves. They ask each other questions and then talk about themselves in response to those questions. It's how they get to know each other. If we never talked about ourselves, no one would ever have a clue who we really are.

So go ahead. Write that bio or that blurb in your proposal. Talk about yourself. Show the reader who you really are and what you have to offer them.

And don't worry about what others are thinking of you. You're awesome, and you know it! (And so does God.)

*Special Note: Yes, I did draw my name while playing that game of Scrabble with my mom and my sister. Of course, my last initial is not D. It's M. So the D was just a 2-point bonus.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Quit Asking Your Editor to Work for Free

You've written your book. It took months of bleeding over your keyboard and countless nights wrestling with your characters in your dreams. You've created a masterpiece. You know it in your gut.

But people keep telling you they see flaws in your material. It isn't good enough for publication. Rejection letters are flowing in. The agent at the conference turned you down.

They've told you to hire an editor.

And "every excuse in the book" forms in your mind. You can't hire an editor because:
  • They'll tell you to change things.
  • They'll rewrite your story.
  • They'll criticize you.
  • They'll change your voice.
  • They'll ... they'll charge you money you don't have. After all, nobody's knocking on your door to hand you an advance.
Too often, authors think that editors should work for free. Or at least at a discounted rate.

Which leads me to ask you this:
Do you want an editor to do less than their best work on your manuscript?

If you answered no, then consider why you would ask them to work for a discount or free.

Corporations pay big dollars to contractors so that they can build on strong foundations. They want their offices and factories to stand against the storms that will likely blow their way.

Women pay plastic surgeons large amounts of money to fix their blemishes because they want someone who is going to make them look good. Not screw up their face.

Students pay colleges very costly tuition fees to teach them what they need to learn in order to go on to a successful career in their field of study. They want to find a rewarding career, not flip burgers for the rest of their lives.

Authors should be willing to pay their editors top dollar to make their work salable, as well.

Quit asking your editor to work for free. Don't expect your friend to edit your book for you just because they're your best friend and they happen to work as an editor. Don't expect the freelance editor you just met at conference to fix your errors for you out of the kindness of her heart. The workman is worthy of his wages. Jesus said so.

If you want your work to be the best that it can be, then sacrifice your mocha for a few months and pay your editor instead.

Or buy yourself a bunch of books on craft and editing and learn how to do it yourself.

Because you'll need to do what it takes if you want to get your book published.

Monday, January 27, 2014

{Minute Meditation} Water Balloons at Work?

She has done what she could (Mark 14:8). A friend of mine pointed out this verse a few months ago, and I have embraced it as my own ever since. I tend to get busy with life and then find myself disappointed because my to-do list sits half checked off. I pine over the things I wanted to do but couldn't squeeze in as life threw water balloons at my work party. I wish time could extend or I could warp back in time and do things differently.

What on your to-do list has been pushed aside or left undone this winter? Have things slowed down for you, too? Do you find yourself moving through this season at a turtle's pace?

Here are some water balloons that have come my way:

My good intention of starting a new blog in 2014. God redirected my attentions and reminded me I already have a platform for that particular ministry. It's called Inspire a Fire. So now I have to refocus my thoughts and schedule myself to post on a site I already run.

Moving. Yes, you heard me. Moving. Again. This will be the third time within a twelve-month period. Which has put a wrench in a lot of things. Not stopping them. Just slowing them down a bit. Because now I have to pack again. And take a few days off to make the move again. And then unpack again. Thankfully I've mastered the art of spacial concepts. I am now a super packer. (And a super thrower awayer.)

Sickness. That nasty flu bug fell in love with me this week. Although I want to break up with the flu, it's nasty mucus is clinging for dear life. All but one of my children has had at least a mild amount of symptoms. Some more than others. Thankfully, it's on its way out.

Plans change all the time. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The question remains: how do we handle the water balloons? Do we dive for cover and pray they don't drench us? Do we stand firm and allow them to water us? Do we fall to our knees as they break against us? Or do we allow God to guide us to safety?

Maybe the water balloon of an interruption to life is actually God trying to get through. Like with my website plans. Maybe it's a road that will bring us closer to a dream fulfilled, like this next move (which is bringing me closer to my writing core of friends). Maybe it's a call to rest and soak in His Word, like an illness.

Whatever your water balloon is today, take a moment to stop and consider if God could be in the midst of it.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday {in focus} ~ In Someone Else's Words

Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.
And we have such trust through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
{2 Corinthians 3:1-6}

This Friday in Focus is a little different than usual. The above is one of my favorite verses to turn on myself as a mirror. Is my epistle one of Christ or one of myself? Does it minister to others? Or is it bitter and selfish, keeping the glory of God buried or hidden beneath my own dingy exterior wall? Will my friends and family and those who I work for receive encouragement or love or a glint of faith and hope when they look upon this epistle? Or will they read a horror story of how lousy my day has gone or review the creases of an argument that occurred before I walked out the door that morning?

It's one thing to be transparent and hang your dirty laundry out for all to see so you can receive others' commendations for how horrible you should be allowed to feel in any given circumstance. It's another to be transparent with the love of Jesus, sharing your testimony of how His blood overcame your worst nightmare in this earthly life to bring you into a place of His grace and glory.

There are a few books on my desk right now that I am savoring every word of. Why? Because I've gotten to know the authors, and every one of them is an epistle of the heart of Jesus Christ. I love every one of them. You know you're close to an author when you can hear their voice reading their written word to you. The Pastor you've listened to for twenty-plus years, who has lead you and challenged you to grow in your walk of faith. The woman whose voice resonates in your heart because she thinks like you when you always thought you might be weird. The woman who takes those things you've hated about yourself but realized there was a purpose for them and exposes the weirdness for what it really is - the image and likeness of God. The woman who tells you its okay to find your voice and use it; others will listen. You have something to say. And the women who continue to encourage you onward in your own writing dreams. These are the hearts I love to read, who I perk up in my seat and listen to as they spill their hearts across the written page.

The Word of God is most important. His truth comes first. But He's also blessed us with fellow epistles to glean from. Others who understand our deep desires and heart needs. Today I celebrate them. Who do you enjoy fellowship with and the opportunity to glean from? What living epistles do you enjoy reading? Who has turned your life upside down for the kingdom of God?

Here are a few of mine mentioned above and where to find their writings:
Pastor Robert Engelhardt - Speaking in Tongues (Heaven's Language)
Edie Melson - The Write Conversation