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Inspiration for Writers Writing craft

Writing is Like Fighting…

Happy Friday! Today CAN member Carla Hoch inspires us with writing perspectives told from a fighter’s point of view.

Mohammed Ali estimated that over the course of his career he had been hit about 29,000 times. Twenty-nine thousand! Now, I don’t know how many of you have been punched in the face, but it ain’t fun. A solid punch can rock you to your core. And, after the fact, you are sore in places you never thought you’d be. Including your spirit.

Writing is a lot like fighting. You pour your heart into it and sometimes the “win” doesn’t come.   The agent isn’t interested, the editor isn’t impressed. And, it hurts. Literally. Rejection and physical pain ride the same pathways in the brain. Biologically speaking, a solid rejection can rock you to your core just like a punch and hurt you in places you never thought you would. Including your spirit.

Ask a boxer if they ever get hit when they train and they’ll probably laugh. Of course they do. They get hit a lot. And it’s not because aren’t trying or aren’t good at what they do. For boxers, taking punches is part of the process, essential to the product and integral to their profession. Achievement comes with ache. Ali wasn’t the greatest of all time despite those 29,000 hits. He was the greatest of all time, in part, because of them.

The rejections we as writers get are not signs that we should give up. They are proof that we’re doing something right, that we are still in the fight. You know what kind of writer doesn’t get rejected? The kind who won’t step in the ring, who won’t send in their MS. Folks, what if after a hundred punches Ali had called it quits? What if Seuss, Golding, Joyce, Faulkner, Potter, Plath, L’Engle, Kipling, and countless others, had taken their rejections as proof that they weren’t any good, that they should just hang it up?

Writers, achievement comes with ache, punches are part of the process, pain is essential to the product. And all are proof that you are still writing, still fighting. Take the hits. Get ok with them. Expect them. Welcome them. Make them a sandwich and sit on the couch with them. Because you won’t be a success despite them. You’ll be a success, in part, because of them.

Carla HochCarla Hoch is the author of the Writer’s Digest book Fight Write: How to Write Believable Fight Scenes and proprietor of the award winning FightWrite™ blog. She is a Writer’s Digest author and instructor and regularly teaches workshops on the mechanics of fighting for writers as well as the craft of writing fight scenes. Carla is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter with training in nearly a dozen fighting styles. She lives just outside Houston, Texas with her family and host of mammals.

 

Categories
Humor Inspiration for Writers

Tech Talk

I have a confession to make: I may have a slight tech addiction. And I’m not just talking about killing zombies or expanding my online Township empire. I’m talking about the rabbit holes I jump down on a regular basis that more often than not find their way into my writing. My current novel features a sixty-year-old protagonist living in the year 2060 with a limited vision for life after retirement.

In an effort to illustrate what addiction looks and feels like, I have her growing overly dependent on her A.I. companion, Carver. As the story opens, she prefers his company and their private world to “real” people. What will it take to lure her out of her head and into the real world?

Meaningful relationships, the beauty of nature as represented in my awesome mare Clara, my fabulous canine companion Christie, and the beauty of the Wisconsin world around me—all lure me into living robustly on a daily basis. Weaving these basic concepts into a future fictional world are forming the basic structure of my newest story world.

A tech addiction in the year 2061 may not look all that different from a tech addiction in the year 2021—sure, the toys will be cooler, but the basic human drives remain the same. Our need for connection, intimacy, safety and knowing and being known by others can help us build more satisfying relationships and communities in real life—or online.

What if the relationships we build in the future are with artificial intelligence (A.I.) entities? Will they still count? More to the point, will our minds, hearts and souls make distinctions between humans and A.I. entities in our online relationships? And if you build relationships online—what unique factors exist to differentiate between an A.I. friend and a human friend?

Integrating these concepts into my writing has led to a story world that keeps me coming back to the keyboard.

Catherine Finger

Catherine Finger loves to dream, write, and tell stories. Her newest novel, Capsized by Death, is the fourth book in her award-winning Jo Oliver thriller series. She lives in the Midwest with a warm and wonderful combination of family and friends. Catherine loves to interact with her readers at www.CatherineFinger.com

 

Categories
Humor Inspiration for Writers

The Story Behind the Story of. . . A Pink Lady Thanksgiving

It’s 1879, and the Oregon Trail is still ferrying emigrants west to California, Oregon, and Washington. Hundreds of covered wagon trains with thousands of people every year, all searching for something better than they left behind.

The first book, Kate, is a tale of adventure and love filled with secrets, threats, and narrow escapes as Kate and Tom head for Oregon City.

Now, they’ve safely put their past behind them. Or have they? Kate realizes her dream of working for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, and her first assignment is to find a local missing woman. When she begins investigating, however, she is threatened and their house is set ablaze, then her son is kidnapped.

The basis for this book came from an article I read about an unsolved stagecoach robbery in 1878 in Deadwood, South Dakota. The robbers were all caught and hung, and all the gold dust, gold nuggets, and the gold ingots from the Homestake Mine were recovered, except for a gigantic five-pound gold brick. I started asking those pesky what if questions, and. . .

Then I read about Kate Warne, the first Pink Lady detective.  As a young widow in the 1850s, she marched into the Pinkterton office and said she wanted a job. Alan Pinkerton thought she meant a clerical job, but no. Kate wanted to be a detective. And she turned out to be one of his best “men”, paving the way for many more female detectives in the coming years.

Kate Warne was a feisty woman with definite ideas of how she wanted her life to go, and so is my Kate. While Kate Warne never remarried, I wanted my Kate to balance family and a professional career, a relatively new concept in the 1870s.

Watch for more books featuring Kate and Tom in the future, but for now, check out the first two adventures and my other books at https://www.amazon.com/s?k=donna+schlachter&ref=nb_sb_noss 

Donna Schlachter:aka Leeann Betts
Donna Schlachter

Donna writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts, and has been published more than 30 times in novellas, full-length novels, and non-fiction books. She is a member of ACFW, Writers on the Rock, SinC, Pikes Peak Writers, and CAN; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests.

www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/DonnaschlachterAuthor

Twitter: www.Twitter.com/DonnaSchlachter

Books: Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ci5Xqq and Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2gZATjm

 

Categories
Inspiration for Writers

Inspiration in Everyday Things

Most writers find inspiration in things they notice or read about—I’ve certainly read a news article and thought, “Hmm, that would make a good plot for a romantic suspense book.” For two of my romantic suspense stories, the general plotline has its roots in real life.

I based Dangerous Christmas Memories on a short news item about two celebrities who tied the knot in Las Vegas but didn’t realize it was a “real” marriage until years later. In my story, the heroine literally forgot she had said “I do,” in Vegas, then disappeared while the hero spent years looking for her.

And those two celebrities? They only found out they really were married when one was preparing for his own wedding and an attorney uncovered the previous marriage license record.

Illusion of Love-coverFor Illusion of Love, the genesis was the real-life story of a friend, who had experienced a heartbreaking—and rather horrible—online relationship. When I heard her story, I knew I wanted to write about it but with my own twists and turns. In fact, anyone who knows her story wouldn’t find many similarities with mine at all. But the basic idea, the seed that grew into Illusion of Love, was based on a true story.

But what makes using “true” stories as the foundation for a fiction story so much fun is that we can write our own endings—and our own beginnings and middles too. We don’t want fiction to mirror real life too closely!

 

Sarah Hamaker has been spinning stories since she was a child. Her romantic suspense books include Dangerous Christmas Memories (Love Inspired Suspense), Mistletoe & Murder (Seshva Press) and Illusion of Love (Seshva Press). Sarah lives in Virginia with her husband, four children, one foster child and three cats. Connect with her at sarahhamakerfiction.com.

Categories
Humor

The Write to Expire

The first day of the writer’s conference, my daughters and I crowded onto the elevator with several other conferees making their way to the morning keynote session. Fifteen-year-old Holly and 17-year-old Leilani were the only teen attendees that year.

“I just love to see expiring new writers,” spoke up an elderly lady. She nodded and smiled at my daughters. Of course, she meant to say aspiring. Not expiring. I think.

Quick-witted Holly didn’t miss a beat. “You must mean my mom.”

During the process of writing 29 of my own books and many titles for clients in addition to countless articles, some of the funniest moments revolve around what I meant to say compared to what I wrote. When those two elements align, writer and reader communicate. More like writer, editor, and reader communicate. Then there are the occasions when what I intended to write is different from the words on the manuscript.

“The plane began its decent” is more accurate as “The plane its descent.” Sigh.

“Her eyes rolled around the room” was supposed to be “She glanced around the room.”

“His face flew down the stairs” is better described as “I watched him come quickly downstairs.”

“The fallen woman lay at the bottom of the trail” or “The woman fell at trail’s end.” There is a world of difference between a fallen woman and a woman that fell.

Leilani went on to become a full-time writer and Holly’s writing skills keep communication clear and flowing in her career. And, okay, while half of my kids are writers, the others are allergic to reading and writing. But we all enjoy a good misplaced word or clever turn of a phrase. Leilani and Holly still occasionally refer to me as the expired writer.

 

PeggySue Wells
PeggySue Wells

History buff and tropical island votary, PeggySue Wells parasails, skydives, snorkels, scuba dives, and has taken (but not passed) pilot training. Writing from the 100-Acre wood in Indiana, PeggySue is the bestselling author of 29 books, translated into eight languages, including The What To Do series, The Slave Across the Street, Slavery in the Land of the Free, Bonding With Your Child Through Boundaries, Homeless for the Holidays, Chasing Sunrise, and The Ten Best Decisions A Single Mom Can Make. Radio talk show host, author, and speaker, she interviews industry experts, entrepreneurs, and exceptional voices to help people live better, together. Connect with PeggySue on Facebook, Linked In, and at  www.PeggySueWells.com

Categories
Humor Inspiration for Writers

A Frightening Proposition

What is your greatest fear? What would it take to face that fear, and make the shift from from fear to love?

Halloween, El Dia de Los Meurtos, All Hallows Eve—these traditions offer a great opportunity to reflect on our faith walk and the extent to which we are allowing the Holy Spirit to move us away from fear into His perfect love. The journey itself could spark a great story.

Anytime I notice myself living a little smaller, a little less joyfully, a little less confidently—I know it is time for me to stop, pray, and reflect. I ask God to show me His truth and to lead me back into His light—and to allow His perfect love to cast out all fear. And then I take the time to backtrack and acknowledge the crooked thinking, or soul woundedness that made me vulnerable to breathing in fear or lies, instead of basking in His love and peace.

This process of uncovering distortions and moving away from fear toward love is embedded in the lives of the characters in the novel I’m currently working on. Asking myself how fear shows up and holds my protagonist back strengthens my writing and creates space for growth and personal renewal as a result of my characters’ struggles. Tonight, as I set up individually bagged candy offerings for my neighborhood goblins, I’ll be thinking about how the Word of God can lift off the mask of our distortions and bring us into the clarifying light of His love.

Catherine Finger
Catherine Finger www.CatherineFinger.com

And tomorrow morning, I’ll be back at my computer, weaving suspenseful tales as my characters move away from fear and back onto the path of His glorious love.

Catherine Finger loves to dream, write, and tell stories. Retired from a wonderful career in public education, she celebrates the ability to write books, ride horses, and serve others through her emerging coaching practice. She lives in the Midwest with a warm and wonderful combination of family and friends.

 

 

 

 

Categories
Humor Inspiration for Writers

The Writer Who Almost Wasn’t

Linore Rose Burkard
Linore Rose Burkard

Proof of God’s power and sense of humor are both evident in my story of getting published.    Readers would probably be surprised to learn that despite majoring in English Literature and graduating magna cum laude, I was too afraid to take a Creative Writing class. It wasn’t that I didn’t have story ideas—I just lacked the confidence and, I believed, the time, to write them.  (I worked full time and was convinced it would take an enormous amount of time to do it well, if I could indeed even do it.)

But story ideas wouldn’t go away. And after waiting years for someone to write a Christian Regency romance, I realized it wasn’t going to happen.  So I wrote the book I wanted to read. Knowing nothing about the publishing industry, I only queried two publishers. One was interested (a major house), but then passed. With my usual ultra-confidence, I accepted that I wasn’t good enough to be published.

But God wouldn’t let it go! He kept nudging me. But I kept procrastinating. And here’s the humorous part. He used a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet to do it. Whenever I thought about it, he would remind me of “thine almost blunted purpose.”   Finally, I self-published the book—I thought I had no other choice—which led to  Nick Harrison, then a Senior Editor with Harvest House Publishers, contacting me, which led to HHP publishing it (Before the Season Ends), and then two more regencies.

Why that line? Why from Hamlet? I often wondered. It took years for me to understand. Like the troubled prince in the play, I was being a great procrastinator! God nudged me to action in time for Nick to find the book and ask to see it.  And thus began my career.

Forever, Lately by Linore Rose Burkard
Forever, Lately by Linore Rose Burkard

Bio: Linore Rose Burkard is a serious watcher of period films, a Janeite and hopeless romantic.  She writes heartwarming historical romance and YA/Suspense (as L.R. Burkard). Raised in NY, she now lives with her husband and five children in southwestern Ohio.

Categories
Humor

Dreamy Ideas

Catherine Finger
Catherine Finger

Where do you get your ideas?

We writers know, love, and sometimes hate this age-old question.

My Jo Oliver thriller series started with a desire to write compelling stories of triumph, choice, and the power of emergent faith and community. Each story was fueled by a strong character, a plot idea, or an idea of what justice might look like via a twisty series of events. And while I am playing around with my next installment, I find myself distracted by new dreams.

For the past year or so, I’ve been toying with a new story that I finally had to start writing. This idea came to me in my sleep. Literally. I dreamt of my protagonist and how she meets her man— a paunchy insurance salesman with a deep alternative history steeped in international espionage. I loved the scene that first appeared to me in that memorable dream and ignored it soundly for about a year.

Yet the dreams returned. At night. While napping on planes. And once, while driving, an idea presented itself so strongly, I had to pull off the road into a highway oasis and furiously stab it all down on fast-food restaurant napkins. That chapter involved a kitchen island sex scene, with my 60-something arthritic protagonist secretly desiring to be ravished by her man on her granite counter—while fearing the possibility of breaking a hip with equal ferocity.

I’m thoroughly enjoying creating a life of unexpected purpose and adventure for two recently retired individuals who find themselves at the same banquet table at a hotel facing the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Stuff happens—and it is stirring my writer’s heart to share their story, giving me that excited I can’t wait to get to my keyboard to see what happens next kind of feeling.

Rest assured, as the story reveals itself, I’ll share more with you!

Enjoy today,

Catherine

Categories
Writing craft

There’s an App for That

by Judith Couchman

Recently I ate lunch with Heather, a former coaching client who became a friend. She talked about an app that helps her learn to write better, catching mistakes and suggesting ways to improve. I recognized Heather’s sincere desire to write well, and that impressed me. Many writers new to the craft want to skip over writing principles and dart straight to publishing and social networking.

Heather felt so excited about this method for improving her manuscript, I couldn’t help but absorb her enthusiasm. Later at home, online I researched writing apps. After typing “Writing Apps” into my browser, the results surprised me. Although apps exist for brainstorming, collaborating, planning, organizing, outlining, reading, and timing writing, not many help an aspiring author actually write well.

As a result, below I’ve listed some apps that help with writing and editing your work. Most likely, more apps exist because I didn’t research deeply. Consider this a “starter list” for apps that might meet your needs. I’ve provided website links so you can learn more. Most are free. Check whether an app operates on your phone, tablet, or desktop.

  • EditMinion. Edits a manuscript a few pages at a time, checking for mistakes, including clichés. Free. http://editminion.com
  • Grammarly. This app does what the name implies: it checks a manuscript for grammar, suggesting the correct wording. Free. grammarly.com
  • Hemingway App. Heather enthused about this app. It aims to simplify, tighten, and strengthen prose in the tradition of the famous writer. $19.99 hemingwayapp.com/desktop
  • Merriam-Webster. Every writer needs a dictionary. This one includes voice searches. Free. https://www.merriam-webster.com/apps
  • ProWriting Aid. ProWriting Aid not only identifies and corrects problems, but it also explains, in detail, why you need to change something. And how to do it. Free for basic; $40 for premium. prowritingaid.com
  • Scrivener. A versatile writing app that helps with many formats: articles, books, blogs, podcasts, speeches and more. $40-45. writersstore.com/scrivener

If you’ve found another app that improves writing, please inform us in the comments section below. Thanks!

Judith Couchman is an author, speaker, university professor, and occasional writing coach. Learn more about her at www.judithcouchman.com

 

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Categories
Writing craft

Cut, Snip, Tighten by Gail Gaymer Martin for CAN

Historical Post by Gail Gaymer Martin

Cut, Snip, Tighten

I have been blessed to have been given an amazing career as a writer of Christian fiction, and in my days of creating stories that I hope will touch your hearts, I have learned so much about writing stories readers can enjoy. Most people do not understand the amount of detail and craft that goes into being a writer, and most people do not sell their first novel. I did, but not before it went through “refining fire.”

I knew nothing about writing fiction when I began to write. My first romance novel began with the death of the heroine’s husband, traveled through months of her grief, and on page 102 she met the hero. The book was rejected numerous times until I realized that a romance begins with the meeting of the hero and heroine within the first couple of pages. I also learned a story starts at the point of change—not the husband’s death, but the heroine’s new beginning. With the advice of a few kind writers who knew about writing fiction, I had to cut one-hundred glorious pages from my novel. That made all the difference, but by then the book had been rejected a number of times.

I courageously continued to submit books, and most of those were sitting on editors’ desks, waiting for rejection. In 1998, I submitted a new book to Barbour Publishing. Within a few months, I heard from them. Though the editors felt that particular book would not work for their readership, they liked my voice and writing style. They asked if I had anything else. I thought of my first novel…just sitting there. I said, “Sure I do and I’ll get it in the mail right away.”

But “right away” meant doing some serious edits. At that time the completed book was seventy-five thousand words. Barbour accepts only forty-five to fifty-five thousand words, so I had some serious cutting to do. I had learned so much more about writing by then, and I went through the manuscript tightening the story by removing useless dialogue and scenes that did not move the story forward. I cut a sub-plot and tightened my language. When I’d reached the right page count, I mailed the book in. Within eleven days, SEASONS sold to Barbour Publishing and I became a published author.

I have learned to cut, snip and tighten. I continue to improve my writing skills by honing the craft, listen to those who know the business, and understand that tightening a novel can only make it better. Those lessons have reaped great rewards and blessings for me. Now with 76 published novels and over 4 million books sold, I conclude that I finally know how to write a good book. It takes time, patience and tons of perseverance. Improving the craft never ends! I continue to read and study writing techniques and find new ideas for ways to improve my work.

In my next post, I will cover what I have done when I’ve received the reversion of rights and can now republish my older books for readers who hadn’t read them years ago when they were published. My goal is to use what I have learned to this day and to make my old novels new and improved. I hope you look for this blog on Reversion of Rights.