An Inspirational Pep Talk from Author Rachel Muller!

OK… shoot me. I was supposed to post this on Monday but anyone who is doing NaNoWriMo this year knows just how crazy things get!

Rachel Muller has been through an intense couple of years and she has a unique outlook on how writing and publishing works…

Every obstacle in her path, she has found a way around, under or through it – so I thought it would be a great idea to have her write a little pep talk for us too!

 

So here it is…

 

Rachel Muller_Headshot

Wow! If any of you feel like I do, I’m sure you’re saying right now, “Where did November go?” Thanksgiving is very swiftly coming upon us. Soon we will find ourselves scooped into the arms of loved ones and counting our blessings from the last 12 months.

As the air around us turns colder and daylight lessens, I not only find joy in family gatherings, but I also find this time of year most inspirational in my writing. While I have never participated in NanoWriMo, I know plenty of authors who have. I know the personal deadlines and quotas can become grueling as Thanksgiving approaches and the end of the Nano draws near.

You’ve passed the 50% mark in your novel, now you’re whizzing by 85% and probably about 90% through your rough draft. Way to go! Grab your favorite chocolate bar and reward yourself for sticking to it and getting this far! Your novel is nearly complete!

But maybe you’re exhausted. All this seasonal planning, and Autumn cleaning, and housing in-laws is distracting you from typing out those 1500 words or sitting down for one hour intervals of writing time. I know. I feel it too. My book due out in January is still under content edit and still needs to go through final edits before January 1st! Now we’ve hit a slump.

How do find strength and inspiration to finish that last 10%? I have a few ideas and encouraging thoughts that may help:

  • The end of Hebrews 12:1 and beginning of v. 2 tells us, “…let us run the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…”

If the burden to write has been placed on your heart, it wasn’t by mistake. Divine appointing has gifted you with the talent to write. Use it for God’s glory and don’t ignore the calling placed on your life. Somewhere down the road, someone will receive a blessing from your story. You’ve started the “race” for November, cross that finish line and look back on what you are capable of handling.

  • You may be hitting that slow spot in your novel and you’re ready to speed things up a bit. You’re ready to have everyone kiss and make up, and your fingers are itching to write “The End.”

Whoa! Hold the reins! Slow down just a tad. Remember, this is YOUR story. These are the lives of YOUR characters. Allow them to develop. Allow the plot to untangle itself. Take one chapter at a time and let those characters and scenes have the spot light.

  • Maybe you’re feeling uninspired. If you’ve written faithfully every night this month and dried up all those creative juices, you’re probably sitting at that white screen in front and…

          STARING.

What does character X say now? What should happen to Mrs. Y?

Well, there are a few different avenues to help get those creative juices flowing once again.

  1. Walk away from the screen. Give yourself a little break. Find your happy place. It may be a nice walk in the woods. A drive in the mountains. A trip to the local zoo. Maybe even that book with the great cover that’s on your To-Be-Read pile. (and here’s where I put that plug in for my WWII novel, Letters from Grace) 😉

Wherever that happy place is, embrace it. Allow your mind to settle and relax. Some of my greatest lines comes to mind when I lay down for the night. I keep a handy notepad and pen at my bedside at all times for moments like those.

  1. Bounce your ideas off someone you trust and whom you feel comfortable taking advice from. Sometimes outside situations and friend-to-friend conversations will help you think outside the box.
  1. Pray.

John 14:14 says, “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”

As a new and emerging author, I have committed to start each writing session with prayer. I pray that the words flowing from my imagination and onto the screen in front of me will find that someone who will find strength encouragement through not just the words I’ve written, but the words God has given me to write.

I want to thank Rachel Miller for inviting me to guest post today. I wish every participant of NanoWriMo the best in your writing endeavor. It is an exciting, frustrating, mind-boggling, and fulfilling accomplishment to come this far. Never give up.

For those first-timers out there: Find the strength to write those last few chapters. In just 6 days you will be able to look at your computer screens and say, “I just wrote my first novel!” Be proud of yourself. You have accomplished what few people have in life.

For those who may not be able to finish by November 30th: It’s okay! Don’t stop there. You’ve come this far already. Get right back to it on December 1st and pen that next chapter. Give yourself a new deadline. We’ll all be cheering you on!

Blessing to everyone and have a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

Yeah… shoot me! We all could have used that a week ago. Oh well… These WONDERFUL words will help me get to the end. And for those who are not participating in NaNoWriMo… or those of us who will continue writing when November is over and no one is counting our words anymore – Rachel’s words will help us keep going when we really want to quit!

I know when I read them the first time, I felt so inspired and just in awe of what a wonderful message Rachel wrote out for us! God has truly blessed her!

THANK YOU Rachel! You are such an encouragement to me!

 

Rachel writes beneath the belly of B-29 Superfortress, one of the many inspirations radiating from her World War II-themed office. Her debut novel, Letters from Grace, released September, 2014, and became an Amazon Top 100 Best Seller. She resides in Central Maryland with her husband and four children. Readers can learn more about Rachel at www.racheldmuller.com or find her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Amazon, and Goodreads. She also write for the Modern Belles of History Blog!

You can purchase her most recent release: Letters From GraceHERE!

An Inspirational Pep Talk from Author Jennifer Beckstrand!

Any of you who are doing NaNoWriMo this year will have seen the Pep Talks. And as much as I appreciate them, there’s just not a lot there for those of us who write Inspirational Fiction…

Let’s face it, Inspirational Fiction authors rarely end up on the same level as J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. Oh every once in a while we have one – Karen Kingsbury comes to mind but it’s much rarer for those of us who infuse our work with God’s Love than for those who write pure fiction.

So I figured we could use a little extra encouragement! And Jennifer Beckstrand has written a wonderful Pep Talk for us!

 

So here it is…

 

How to Get Through NANO by Jennifer Beckstrand

I love it when people ask for my advice, because 1) no one ever asks for my advice, and 2) it means they think I actually have something to say that’s worth hearing—either that or they are just humoring me to make me feel good about myself. This is why I love helping my kids with math. They think I’m smart by the time we’re finished.

My delightful online friend and faithful street team member Rachel Miller asked me to pen some advice for inspirational authors during NANO.

My first disclaimer is that I have never personally tried Nano. November tends to be one of the worst months in my life to try to write a book. January would be much better.

My second disclaimer is that I’m not an expert—like Stephen King who wrote a book about writing or J.K Rowling who wrote a book on a napkin—but I have completed 11 books, and I spend several hours a week pursuing a writing career. For what it’s worth, I am happy to pass on what I’ve learned.

First, some general pieces of advice to help make your writing better

  1. Read. Good writers are good readers. When I get in a rut with my word choices or characterizations, there is nothing like a good Orson Scott Card or Jane Austen to inspire me.
  2. Read about writing. Story by Robert McKee is one of my favorite books. Self-editing for Fiction Writers changed my life. There are dozens of blogs out there about everything from grammar usage to plot development. These can be extremely helpful.
  3. Get an education. Attend writer’s conferences and writing workshops. This is a great way to meet other writers and learn about the craft.
  4. Enter writing contests and/or get a critique partner. These can be scary because people actually read your stuff and give their opinions about your writing. It’s always a risk to put yourself out there. Unflattering comments about your writing can be painful, but they are also very helpful. How do you get better if nobody ever points out what you’re doing wrong?

Now on to Nano specific advice

  1. Most importantly, remember from the outset that YOU WILL ALWAYS BE ENOUGH. You don’t have to write one more word EVER. To God, you will always be enough, just the way you are. Sometimes the anxiety about plotlines or word choice or character development can overwhelm you. Take a deep breath and remember why you are writing a book. Did God call you to do it? Do you enjoy the satisfaction of sharing your talents? Do you love to write? Remember the why. It will help you conquer the how. But God will always love you. You don’t have to prove anything to Him. As long as you remember that, you’ll be okay.
  2. God loves you just the way you are, but I think one of the reasons He gives us His grace is because He wants us to stretch and grow. Jesus’s sacrifice was not only a gift He gave to us, but an investment He made in us. Use that enabling power of grace in every aspect of your life.
  3. If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. Just like lifting weights makes us stronger, struggling to write thousands of words a day makes us better. We wouldn’t improve if it wasn’t hard. Nobody wants to stagnate. You have to push through the hard times. Write junk on the page if you must, but WRITE.
  4. Remember that writing is work. HARD WORK. I had hoped after I wrote my first book that writing would get easier, that I could sit down at the computer and jot off three thousand words in a matter of minutes. This is not the case.
  5. Writing isn’t like cleaning toilets. Cleaning toilets isn’t fun, but at least you know exactly what you have to do to get the job done. With writing, I might put in three hours and have a paragraph to show for it. That’s the nature of the creative process. Ideas don’t flow all the time or even most of the time.
  6. So, even though it can be painful, it is important to sit in that chair and write, even if you can’t think of anything to write. Even if you know that most of what you write is going to get deleted. No writer has a book handed to her on a silver platter by the Muses or by God.

 

I don’t know about you but WOW! Just WOW! That was great! I know it gave me such a boost of confidence. THANK YOU Jennifer! You are such an encouragement to me!

 

For more information about Jennifer and her writing, You can click the links below.

WEBSITE   FACEBOOK   TWITTER   GOODREADS   KENSINGTON

Conference Countdown | Tips and Advice | Only 2 Days to go

Clean…

I don’t know about you…

But I really enjoy returning from a long trip to a nice, clean house.

 

There’s just nothing quite so wonderful as coming in from spending all day in the car… or hours on a plane and in an airport, to a clean house, fresh sheets and no dirty dishes anywhere.

 

Plus, it always helps to do up the laundry because you’re going to come home with a pile of it.

 

Now I know this advice doesn’t work for those of you who are leaving loved ones at home while you travel over land and through air to hang out with dear friends and make new ones…

But, you can certainly enjoy having someone else clean up after you for three or four days.

And you can always hope that your family will surprise you when you return with a nice, clean house.

We can dream right…

I know that’s true for me because if I don’t do it myself or help the kiddos do it, it does not get done. LOL!

 

 

God Bless!

Only a couple of posts left before we start the 2014 ACFW Conference!

Conference Countdown | Tips and Advice | 3 Days to go

PACK!

Trust me…

YOU DO NOT WANT TO WAIT UNTIL THE LAST SECOND!

 

So you’ve purchased new luggage, a new outfit or three, notebooks, paper, business cards, those all-important bathroom supplies and at least one new pair of shoes…

 

MAKE A LIST! – And I know I’ve said it before but I’m gonna say it again – check it TWICE!

Plan on packing at least one extra outfit. I always do! You NEVER know what’s gonna happen – spills, accidents, it looked like it matched when you were packing but looking in the mirror you think… “nope!”

Murphy’s law states that anything that can happen, WILL happen, when you are NOT prepared for it!

I have learned this the hard way SOOOOO many times!

So I always over-pack but at least I have a good reason for it!

And those few times that something weird HAS happened, I WAS prepared!

 

 

God Bless!

And watch for more posts to come as we count down to the 2014 ACFW Conference!

Conference Countdown | Tips and Advice | 8 Days to go

GO SHOPPING!

Not that anyone really NEEDS an excuse to go shopping…

I’ve even learned to enjoy shopping…now that I have a cute little girl who LOVES it

and I never really enjoyed shopping – like so many women out there… before now.

 

So far, we have purchased new luggage, swanky new notebooks, a calendar/planner for 2015 and fancy new business card holders for our trip to St. Louis but there are still things that we need to go buy.

Why the luggage?

If you read my last POST, you’ll remember why. Another reason was because we want to look professional and the pink camo bag I shared with my daughter on our last trip just doesn’t strike me as professional…

For those who may be flying, airlines change their rules constantly and you may find that the bag you’ve always used… won’t work anymore so you’ll need to update.

 

Why the new notebooks?

If you subscribe to the ACFW loops, you know one of the suggestions that came through was to have a three-ring binder to organize everything in for the conference; notes, handouts, all those one-sheets and proposals you will want to have with you, etc…

We have quite a few three-ring binders in our house but all of them are spoken for (some are even full to bulging) so we had to go find new ones. I know… I know… you feel for us. How terrible that we had to go to a store and buy a new notebook… Oh well, we’ll live. 😉

 

Why the calendar/planner?

In my capacity as co-creater of the Inspirational Authors of Nashville Writer’s group, book reviewer, writer, mom, teacher, general go-for… I have A LOT of things to do in a day and my mother has discovered that her schedule has begun filling up into January already so we figured it would be smart to have a planner for next year handy… just in case.

 

I hope the business card holders are pretty self-explanatory… 

 

And as far as some of the other stuff goes…

The thing about packing works here too:

MAKE A LIST! – And it sounds trite but check it TWICE!

Plan on packing at least one extra outfit. Shopping here is probably a lot easier than it would be to find time to shop there.

Don’t forget to check the levels of your travel shampoo, conditioner, soap, body lotion, toothpaste and the ever important toothbrush! You may need to buy more!

 

Do you need to refill medication, renew a driver’s license, pay a bill before you go… These things are important to get done now, before you’re in a rush to get ready next week!

 

God Bless!

And watch for more posts to come as we count down to the 2014 ACFW Conference!

Conference Countdown | Tips and Advice | 10 Days to go

START PACKING!

Not that my luggage is quite this classy or anything…

Maybe someday…

 

In the past, our luggage actually looked a lot more like this:

Which is one reason we purchased a new set of suitcases for this conference – that and… all of the ones we have are a bit battle-scarred.

 

You may want to consider buying some new luggage yourself… especially if you fly – unless what you already have will fit what the airline allows. In that case, don’t spend the $$$ because it will probably get thrown all over the place in transit anyway.

If you are flying, make sure you check the rules for the specific airline you are flying with.

They ALL seem to have different rules and you don’t want to get to the airport only to find out that you can’t board the plane.

To be safe, stick with the travel sizes for any bottle! They can be sticklers about that.

 

If you are driving, make sure you account for the fact that in St. Louis, you will most likely have to pay for parking – if you stay at the Hyatt where the conference is being held, or another Hotel nearby. You don’t want to have to make six trips back to your vehicle.

 

Pack smart – if you have odds and ends, put them in an extra suitcase (preferably one that’s stackable or that can be attached to your main case) instead of having two or three bags or boxes on top of your regular luggage.

 

Consider bringing snacks and/or sandwiches.

You never know when you’re going to hit a stretch of road where there are NO exits for miles and miles and miles.

And speaking of a stretch of road that goes for miles with no exits… STOP for restroom breaks before it becomes an emergency – same with fuel!
Stop to fill up when your tank hits the halfway mark.

Play it safe! You’ll have a more enjoyable trip that way!

 

And as far as the packing goes…

MAKE A LIST! – And it sounds trite but check it TWICE!

Pack at least one extra outfit. Things happen and you may not have time or $$$ to shop for something new!

Don’t forget your travel shampoo, conditioner, soap, body lotion, toothpaste and the ever important toothbrush!

I can’t tell you how many times I failed to bring mine, thinking that the hotel would have it and had to go buy some when we got there because they didn’t… or the type they have gives me a rash… or it doesn’t stretch the whole visit and they want to charge an arm and a leg for another (in that case, go to a local wal-mart – trust me, it WILL be cheaper).

 

God Bless!

And watch for more posts to come as we count down to the 2014 ACFW Conference!

Conference Countdown | Tips and Advice | 12 Days to go

DO NOT PANIC!

 

I know it’s coming up fast now but you have to calm down, take some deep breaths and relax!

 

1) IF YOU PANIC… You’ll miss things!

I have learned that lesson over and over and over. If I get in a panic and rush around trying to get out the door, I forget things.

 

2) IF YOU PANIC… You won’t be ready!

This is the same lesson. Whenever I get in a panic, I rush around and for some reason it takes me at least three times as long to do things… and I don’t usually get everything done.

 

3) IF YOU PANIC… You won’t have as much fun as you would like!

If you panic now, you won’t be able to enjoy the days leading up to conference. And you just might wear yourself out so much that you can’t enjoy the conference either.

 

Remember that. RELAX! And have a great conference!

 

God Bless!

And watch for more posts to come as we count down to the 2014 ACFW Conference!

SPECIAL POST – REMEMBER | Conference Countdown | Tips and Advice | 14 Days to go

Remember…

 

 

 

In honor of the tragedy that took place thirteen years ago today, I am doing this post a little differently.

 

Today I want you to take a moment to REMEMBER with me.

Remember why we write Christian fiction.

I don’t know about you but I write Christian fiction to help shine God’s light into a hurting and lost world. It’s not just about showing lost people the way to God, it’s about lifting up His children and helping them to hold onto Him as we make our way through this world.

 

Remember Who is inspiring our writing.

One of our favorite pastors has a motto that I just love. “Our number one job in life is to make Jesus look good.” – David Gibbs Jr.

In this life, we have a job as followers of Christ. We are to show the world the light of Jesus that shines through us. For writers, that means that our words should reflect that light. They should show the world how wonderful God is and not dwell in the darkness of the world.

And it is possible to write about that darkness while still showing the light of God through it!

It’s not easy but it is possible. If it were easy, every writer would do it.

 

Remember what our message is!

Our message ultimately, whether you write Amish fiction or speculative is LOVE – God’s love.

Remember that and you will be just fine.

 

And lastly…

 

REMEMBER the sacrifice!

Remember the sacrifice that so many men and women made willingly on that fateful day thirteen years ago in the effort to save as many as they could and remember the sacrifice that so many men and women make every day on the battlefields, fighting for our freedom.

 

But most of all, remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for you and for me on that day more than two-thousand years ago on a cross! Remember that sacrifice when you write, when you promote, when you are on social media, when you attend conferences and when you speak to people in everyday life.

Remember that Jesus wants to shine through your life and do everything you can to make Him look good, every day, in every thing!

 

 

Good Day and GOD Bless!

~ Rachel

Conference Countdown | Tips and Advice | 16 Days to go

What NOT to bring?

 

 

We briefly touched on this in the original post about what to bring to conference HERE but this really needs it’s own post!

 

Remember when we pointed out that many editors and agents are going paperless and even those that aren’t… might not want to drag home reams and reams of paper. That is still very true.

Even if you have an agent who has been looking over your work, they may not want to lug 300 pages home with them.

And it’s just possible that YOU don’t want to lug it around either… so don’t go running over to Kinkos and run off three copies of the MS to bring with you. Most hotels have a copy center…and if they don’t, the conference is in a Hyatt and they do have a copy center.

 

I learned the hard way for the last conference I attended…

DO NOT BRING BOOKMARKS unless you have a book to go with them. If you have a contract or you are already in the process of self-publishing, bring bookmarks…scads of them, buckets of them and hand them out like crazy.

But if you don’t have a book that is in the process of  being published, a bookmark is just a long business card and it’s not worth the extra money you will have to spend when you have to order a second run with all of the info about who and when… and the name may change… and the cover may change…

So be safe and thrifty and wait for the bookmarks.

 

 

I know the post says we’re talking about what NOT to bring but while I’m here…

 

I PLAN to bring a few favorite books that I want signed. Don’t go crazy and bring your whole library with you but a few favorites would not be a bad idea…

You never know who you might sit next to at breakfast or lunch or bump into on your way to a session. And if you happen to have their book with you… well you get the drift.

I have not yet discovered a way to find out exactly who IS attending but I’m betting you can figure out most of them by watching Facebook, Twitter and Websites. A lot of authors talk about events coming up and ACFW is a big one for most of us.

 

I still say it’s still a good idea to at least bring your laptop with you. It’s no big deal to leave it in your hotel room. And they have so many great rolling bags now that you can use if you don’t want to carry a bag or a briefcase or a backpack.

You never know when someone will ask you to e-mail your first three chapter or a proposal or even the whole book to them.

 

 

OK. SO we’ve already talked about what to wear. Now we’ve talked a bit about what to bring…and what NOT to bring.

And while we are talking about what to bring… YES! You still have time to order business cards! GO find some you like and order them. They’ll usually get to you within a week or ten days. Vistaprint still has some REALLY great deals going on!

 

Good Day and GOD Bless!

~ Rachel

Conference Countdown | Tips and Advice | 18 Days to go

DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO ANYONE ELSE!

 

I was painfully reminded only a few minutes ago of why we should NEVER do this. I won’t go into details except to say this: It is very true! When you take on too much and spread yourself too thin, you miss important things. When you have too many blogs, you don’t post often enough on any of them and you end up having a smaller number of “likes” on each one.

At any rate, the point is this: No one can do a better job of being YOU! You are unique, one-of-a-kind, fearfully and wonderfully made and NO ONE else can be YOU!

Remember that while you are preparing for conference in the next two and a half weeks.

 

1) NO ONE ELSE CAN WRITE YOUR STORY!

Even if two authors took the exact same story line, characters and plot to write – you would end up with two VERY DIFFERENT stories at the end!

 

2) NO ONE IS DEALING WITH EXACTLY THE SAME THINGS YOU ARE!

God knows what you can handle and what you can’t and He knows what challenges you need to encourage you to be the best you can be!

 

3) NO ONE ELSE LOOKS AT THE WORLD THE WAY YOU DO!

You are the only person who sees the world the way you do and no one else can understand exactly how that outlook is.  

 

4) NO TWO PEOPLE GET TO THE SAME PLACE AT THE SAME TIME ALONG THE SAME ROUTE!

Every author I talk to has a different story to tell about how they went from Chapter 1 to Contract. We can read all the books about “How to Write”, follow all the rules about queries, send material to the same agents and attend all the same conferences but no two authors are going to go from Chapter 1 to contract along the same route.

Each author finds an agent differently. Each author gets a contract differently. Each journey is different and we really should not try to judge ours by anyone else’s.

Remember that. And have a great conference!

 

God Bless!

And watch for more posts to come as we count down to the 2014 ACFW Conference!