Have You Found Your Way to the Writing Zone?

Have You Found Your Way to the Writing Zone?

by Edie Melson

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call THE WRITING ZONE.
Okay, I confess. I borrowed the intro from a television cult classic. But truthfully, have you ever read a better explanation of what it means to be a writer?
Today I’m offering some tips to help you find your way to the writing zone.
1. Be Willing to Call Yourself a Writer: Yes, this one is controversial. There are many who argue that we must do much more than just call ourselves a writer to become a writer. I would only say this, I believe that calling yourself a writer is the first step on becoming a writer. Without that step, it’s hard to move forward.
2. Spend Time Writing: This may seem like a no-brainer, but spending time talking about writing—as opposed to actually writing–is fairly common. Don’t be one of those who only dream; be ready to walk through to The Writing Zone by spending time writing.
3. Invest Financially in Your Writing: Take classes, attend conferences, buy books, join organizations. Do your homework first, but be ready to put your money where your pen is. Here’s a series of posts I wrote about Dollars & Sense for Writers.
4. Develop the Art of Patience & Enjoy the Journey: Finding success in publishing rarely happens overnight. Realize that you’re in it for the long haul and do the next thing. Relax and enjoy the journey, but keep moving forward.
5. Make Writing a Priority: In the beginning, it’s hard for some friends and family to understand the commitment it takes to become a writer. Beginning writers don’t often get paid for writing and it’s easy to assume it’s a hobby. For some writing is a hobby, and that’s fine. But if you’re serious, then act like it. If you don’t take writing seriously, then no one else will.
6. Realize that Failure is an Option—a Good One: We often learn more when we fail. If we never experience failure, it’s a sign that we’ve never tried anything difficult.
7. Talent is a Very Small Part of the Equation: Talent won’t take you far. Diligence and perseverance are where you find the strength for The Writing Zone.
8. Don’t Try to Go It Alone: While writing is a mainly solitary pursuit, we still need others to help us. We need to be a part of a writing community so we can give and receive encouragement and get perspective on what we write.
9. Don’t Kill Your Creativity with Negative Self-Talk: We all do it. But talking down to ourselves will have a negative impact.
10. Comparison is a Death Trap for Writers: It’s easy to look at others and think we’re gaining perspective. The truth is, we aren’t. Everyone’s writing journey looks different. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor.

11. Keep the Faith: There is a reason you started on this journey. Write it down and put it where you can see it. I believe God made me as a person who processes life through words. If I tried to give up writing, I truly think I’d die.
These are the things that have helped me find my way to The Writing Zone. What would you add to the list? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
photo-1 copyEdie Melson—author, editor, and blogger—is a leading professional within the writing industry, as well as a popular inspirational speaker and mentor. She’s the author of While My Soldier Serves: Prayers for Those with Loved Ones in the Military (Worthy Inspired). She’s also the military family blogger for Guideposts at While They Serve. In addition, as a respected expert in social media, Edie has the proven expertise to teach others how to plug in without sacrificing valuable writing time. Her bestselling eBook on this subject has recently been updated, expanded and re-released as Connections: Social Media & Networking Techniques for Writers. Connect with her on her popular blog for writers, The Write Conversation, which reaches thousands each month, and through Twitter and Facebook.
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Introducing Jules Clark – Xulon Raffle Winner

Julie “Jules” Clark has been writing poetry for over 30 years, and has  been a FaithWriters member for quite a while – and she will soon have a new book on the market – thanks to Xulon Press. Read on to learn more about our Xulon raffle winner!

JOANNE: First of all, congratulations on winning the Xulon raffle! What was your reaction when you found out you had won?

JULES: I was rather shocked. I haven’t really won a lot of prizes. Actually, a little bit of me doubted it was true,  but when it sunk in I was absolutely thrilled. I’m looking forward to getting started.

JOANNE: Do you have a book ready to be published? What do you plan to do with your prize?

JULES: I write poetry and have been since I was 17 (I am now 49). I’m thinking about doing a series about the I ams of God which I have been planning. Another possibility is about the way I see Jesus being a gentle gardener; that would be a devotional.

 JOANNE: You’ve been at FaithWriters for quite a while. Can you tell us what brought you there? What is your favorite part of it?

JULES: I enjoyed sharing my writing with people who are also Christians. I also enjoy the comments I get. I am looking to do the Writing Challenge more, as this would improve my poetry. I have started looking at the many types of poems but I find them very confusing sometimes.

JOANNE: Why do you write?

JULES: In the earlier days, I used writing to get feelings out: fear,  anxiety,  frustration and trying to think things through. Now it’s my way of serving the Lord and ministering into people’s lives the awesomeness of God.

I am just a mouthpiece for the Holy Spirit.

JOANNE: Tell us a bit about yourself and your family.

JULES: I have known Jesus all my life and was baptized when I was 16. I am very thankful to God for all His love, grace and mercy through times when life got rather bumpy. God was always there with me.

I am married and have two teenaged boys at the moment; my eldest will be twenty in September. We go to a local church which is just a five minutes’ walk. and my older son writes songs and loves the choir. My youngest is doing computer programing and my husband has his own business. I find poetry such a comfort and God my inspiration.

JOANNE: Is there anything else you would like to add?

JULES: I  already have a book on your site called I am Your Peace.  I am very thankful for your support and hope to put the new one up there too.

JOANNE: Thanks for letting us get to know you, Jules! Congratulations again!

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Congratulations to the winners of the Xulon Raffle!

After four months, we now have winners for the FaithWriters Xulon Raffle. Congratulations to the following members:

1st Place – Julia Clark wins a Xulon Best Seller Publishing Package courtesy of Xulon Press Publishing.

2nd place – Cinda Carter wins a Platinum membership upgrade courtesy of http://www.tblfaithnews.com/.

3rd place – Geraldine Arbuckle wins a Gold membership upgrade courtesy of http://www.tblfaithnews.com/.

Watch for an interview with Julia Clark on the blog soon!

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As God Whispers

DON’T FORGET – The deadline to enter the Xulon raffle is TOMORROW, August 1, at noon ET. Enter!

As God Whispers

By louis gander

Don’t give me a brand new computer
to type all the words on my mind -
just give me an old scrap of paper
and maybe some words I can find -
to write with my old, stubby pencil,
a poem or two I think of,
to soften the hardest of hardened hearts -
and write a few words of God’s love.

And no, I do not have erasures.
I used them up long, long ago -
for mine was the worst of all wicked hearts -
and lowest of all of the low…
I tried to erase every one of my sins,
that I scribbled for years on my heart -
but only a cross where Jesus shed blood
could give me a “born-again” start.

Though I am not better than anyone else
no matter how I have been livin’…
There’s only one thing that has set us apart -
and that is, through faith, I’m forgiven.
So please give an old scrap of paper,
to someone contented to be -
writing, as God whispers breezes,
in shade of this old willow tree.

Copyright 2004-2015 louis gander ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
***READ OTHER GREAT SHORT STORY POEMS AT:  www.ganderpoems.org/
Written 7-27-15 by louis gander.   FREE to print  but only with copyright information included – NOT for resale.  Thank You!

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com <a href=”http://www.faithwriters.com”>CHRISTIAN WRITER</a>

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Market Yourself BEFORE the Contract: Social Networking

Market Yourself BEFORE the Contract:

Social Networking

By Suzanne Hartmann

The quickest way to start building name recognition and let people know you are an author is to use social networking. It’s easy to join and to find friends, family, and other writers.

The first thing you need to do (after you set up your account and profile) is to get past the term “friend.” In the world of social networking, “friend” simply means a connection to someone. So to build your network of “friends,” you need to think beyond the people you actually know.

Start building your network by finding and sending friend invitations to:
1) personal friends
2) family members
3) neighbors
4) fellow church members
5) fellow members of organizations you belong to
6) critique partners
7) co-workers

Next, dig a little deeper. Look for the following
1) friends from churches you used to attend
2) friends and neighbors from communities where you used to live
3) former co-workers.
4) people you’ve lost touch with
5) former classmates (yes, even go back to grade school

Now you can move into networking mode
Find and join groups set up on each social media. Then start sending friend invitations to the other members of the group. Send a message with the invitation that tells the person how you are connected (e.g. Hi, NAME. We are both members of GROUP, so I thought we might want to be Facebook friends.) Don’t join groups willy-nilly just to say you’re a member. Look for groups that match your interest.

Here are some examples:
1) Writing groups (Christian writers, genre writing groups)
2) Hobbies (collecting something, quilting, scrapbooking)
3) Sports (your favorite team or the sport in general)
4) Favorite activities (camping, hunting, fishing, barbecuing, cooking, etc.)
5) Religious affiliations
6) Favorite charities
7) Political groups
8) Work related (associations for accountants, computer programmers, teachers, etc.)
9) Any other major activity or interest in your life (homeschooling, MOPS, etc.)

Before you know it, your number of networking friends burgeon and you will have a ready made way to easily reach out to hundreds of people.


Suzanne HartmanSuzanne Hartmann is the author of the novels Peril and Conspiracy, Christian suspense she calls fiction with a twist of the unexpected. For the last several years, she has also stepped into the editorial side of writing, with her work at Port Yonder Press and now Castle Gate Press. She offers a plethora of easy-to-understand writing advice on her blog, Write This Way, which she has compiled into a book of the same name (available at her blog). When not writing, editing, or homeschooling, she enjoys scrapbooking, Bible study, and scouring local library sales for good deals. She loves to encourage fellow authors, so stop by her Facebook Page and drop her a note.

LINK for Write This Way: Write This Way Blog: http://suzanne-hartmann2.blogspot.com/2007/01/write-this-way-take-your-writing-to-new.html

LINKS for Suzanne:

Facebook – Suzanne Hartmann – Author

Twitter – @SuzInIL

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Just One Week To Enter Xulon Raffle

August is just over a week away – which means you only have a few more days to enter to win a Xulon Press Bestseller Package (over $4,000 value). The deadline to get your name “in the hat” is August 1, 2015 at noon ET. And how do you enter this old fashioned raffle with a high tech twist?

The only requirement is that you must be a FaithWriters member – anything from a free silver member up to platinum. (You can join FaithWriters here if you haven’t already) Once that is taken care of, pop over to the FaithWriters Publishing package page and scroll down to the raffle widget. To enter, click on ENTER TO WIN on the widget and enter your name and email address for tracking purposes (or log in using Facebook).

Once you have checked off that you are a FaithWriters member, it will unlock a long list of  all of the things you can do to earn entry credits. Make sure to always use the same email address so all of your entry credits go to the proper account. Each task has the number of entry credits you will earn clearly posted. Every entry credit you gain will improve your chances to win. There is no limit to the number of entry credits you can build up. When this contest closes, winners will be drawn randomly from all of the entries.

You can stick with your one entry for being a FaithWriters member – or do one of dozens of other things to up your chances. Platinum members get an extra five entries, while taking one of Jan’s free writing lessons on the FaithWriters forums earns you two. Like FaithWriters on Facebook for another entry, or download the Xulon publishing guide for five more. Entering the FaithWriters Writing Challenge  will also give you five additional entries. Check out the widget at the bottom of the publishing package page for more details and other ways to enter.

But remember – you only have next Saturday to enter. So get busy :)

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Meet Best of the Best Runner-Up Cori Smelker!

Cori Smelker has been a member, moderator, supporter, and presenter for FaithWriters for many years – and this year, her writing talents have made her runner up for FaithWriters’ Writing Challenge Best of the Best. Join me (Joanne Sher) as I chat a bit with this delightful lady and learn more about her, her writing, her family, her winning piece, and more!

CoriJOANNE: First of all, congratulation on your second place win! What was your reaction when you found out you took second place in this year’s Best of the Best?

CORI: Honestly I was shocked! I had not entered the writing contest in quite a long time, and then I think I only entered three times in the quarter that I placed. Of course I was honored that my piece was so highly regarded, but it was still a shock.

JOANNE: You were a regular challenge contributor for many years a while back, but until quite recently, you hadn’t submitted a piece to the writing challenge for more than five years.  What took you away, and what brought you back?

CORI: You’re right – I was gone for a long time. In that time I started my own business (not related to writing) that took a lot of my time, and I also started working full time as the executive assistant to our pastor. He oversees over 300 churches around the world, and over 20 Bible Schools. When I took over the position he decided to start writing books which took much of my time; plus I was tasked with overseeing the rewriting of the Bible School manuals (there are 46 of those), so although I was not writing for pleasure, I was writing for the ministry.

JOANNE: Your winning piece, Assegais and Shields, is based on an actual experience you had while on a mission’s trip. Can you talk a little more about it? Had you ever written about it before? What kind of impact did the experience have on you and those who were with you?

CORI: Yes, this was based on a true experience, and although I have talked about it before (even then I had not talked about it often), I had never written about that specific experience. I had written one other piece several years back about an incident that happened on that same missions trip (Third Quarter 2007, ‘And the Prez Said’) because that week was quite honestly, life changing for me. I think in some ways it has made me fearless. I stared death in the face and was protected. I do not worry about my life in the way that some do, because I have seen God protect me.

It also reinforced to me that I am God’s child. I have made many mistakes since that day 27 almost 28 years ago, but if He was willing to protect me then, I know He loves me. I learnt to trust Him in a way I never had before. As for those who were with me – many of them still serve full time in the ministry, and Isaac, the man who crept back to the tent, actually became my interpreter!

JOANNE: What an amazing example of God’s work! What is the hardest part of writing for you? How do you overcome it?

CORI: It depends if I am writing for work or for pleasure. If I am writing for work the hardest part is wanting to write something that the person who is paying me likes! I want to know that I have hit the mark and am aptly representing them.

For pleasure I think sometimes the hardest part is actually sitting down and writing something. I will mull an idea in my head (for example, this week’s challenge topic is churning in my mind) but sitting down and putting the words on paper is not a high priority for me, so I will get to my computer and realize I missed the deadline!

JOANNE: What advice do you have for writers? What is the best writing advice anyone has given YOU?

CORI: What kind of writer do you see yourself as? I am a writer who makes a living writing. As a result I have written and edited a wide variety of work. I have worked on novels and non-fiction books; I have written more web site copy than I think any one person should!; I have written bore-me-to-the-bones technical manuals for automotive companies, banks and credit unions; and if you go into a CVS or Walgreens and use their photo booths I wrote all the software you see on the screens, and the code that runs it. When it comes to that kind of writing – take what you can to pay the bills. For 11 years, from 2002 until 2013, my husband Terry, who is a graphic designer, was also freelance. If we didn’t work, we didn’t eat. That doesn’t give one much chance to examine one’s navel or stare deeply off into the horizon.

If writing is something you do to express your faith, or where you submit to magazines or publications (like Chicken Soup, or even to the Writing Challenge), then write to the topic! And hone your skills. Use the challenge as an opportunity to vary your style. I have submitted Screwtape type letters (a la C. S. Lewis) and I have submitted serious pieces, I have submitted bad poetry; not with an eye to placing in the challenge, but in order to expand my writing styles.

The best advice I ever received from another writer (Alan Paton, author of the renowned “Cry, the Beloved Country”; I had a great privilege of meeting him before he passed away in 1988) was, “read — a lot!” I can expand on that by adding, and read a variety of authors. Don’t limit yourself to authors from just your country either. Read internationally! If you have an e-reader, take advantage of the free books you can download; sometimes you’ll find a real treasure among the duds. I learnt so much about Thailand through some free e-novels I downloaded to my Kindle. Not only was the writing fantastic, I learnt about their culture through the eyes of the author.

JOANNE: Tell us a bit about your family.

CORI: Do you have a gazillion seconds? I LOVE my family – they are funny, talented, crazy, zany, and smart. I have been married for 22 years to Terry; he is a graphic designer and a video editor. He works as marketing manager and media guru for a bio-medical company. He gets to draw and play on video editing software all day long — and they pay him for it!

We have five kids. Warrick now lives in Bloomington Indiana. He moved up there in March and by May was already recognized by their Chamber of Commerce as Young Professional of the Month and ‘30 professionals under 30 to watch’.

Our daughter Teagan just completed high school and next month will start an intensive 6-month make up course, before attending the Tom Savini School of Special Effects Make Up. If you’ve ever watched the show ‘Face Off’, you will have seen the work of some of their graduates, as many of the contestants come from that school. Teagan is also the mother of our 5-month old grandson Roman – the best-looking grandchild, hands down!

Hayley is our third child and is a senior this year. Like me, she loves to write and has already gained national attention for her writing and was selected as one of the top 100 students in the country for writing through a national writing contest that pitted her against 500,000 of her peers.

Garrick is my husband’s clone and loves digital media and video editing. He plans on attending a university right outside of Disney World when he completes high school. He is a junior this year.

Our youngest son, Carson, is a sophomore this year and flip-flops between wanting to be an attorne, or a gamer. Listening to him arguing with his siblings, I’d say attorney might be a good choice!

JOANNE: Where can folks connect with you?

CORI: Facebook is a great place to find me.

JOANNE: Thanks so much, Cori, for sharing. Your dedication – and SMILE – are an inspiration to me (and many others, I’m sure). And, of course, congratulations once again!

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The First Deadly Sin of Writers

The First Deadly Sin of Writers

By Randy Ingermanson

If there’s anything that can wreck your writing career, I’d say it’s envy.

What do I mean by “envy?”

Envy is not merely wanting what somebody else has.  Envy is the feeling of resentment you get when wanting something somebody else has.  The problem is that the publishing world naturally breeds envy. Here’s why.

It’s just a fact that different writers get very different results from their writing. Most writers earn hundreds of dollars per year or less. Some earn thousands. A few earn tens of thousands. A small minority earn hundreds of thousands. A very few earn millions. A tiny handful earn tens of millions.

This tells us that rewards aren’t proportional to talent. Those writers earning millions aren’t 1000 times more talented than those earning thousands.  In fact, it’s possible for one writer to do far better than another with quite a bit more talent. Talent is part of it, but there are other factors that matter a lot.

When you see somebody earning a lot more than you, it’s all too easy for the “that’s not fair” mentality to kick in.

And that’s not smart.

What goes wrong when you envy other writers? Isn’t that just another name for good healthy competition?

No, it isn’t.

Continue Reading…

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Meet Best of the Best Winner Ann Grover!

It is my honor to introduce to you one of the most talented and dedicated members of the FaithWriters family: Ann Grover. Her decade at this site has blessed everyone who has read her writings, and her willingness to help others has also been a blessing. Arguably one of the strongest writers here (in my opinion, and that of the Challenge judges), she has been rewarded not once, but TWICE, for her body of work for the FaithWriters Writing Challenge this year. Not only was Ann’s piece B’rikh Hu chosen as the Best of the Best for 2015, her In The Secret Place came in third place. In fact, if Cori Smelker hadn’t entered with her second place BoB piece, Ann would have had a “clean sweep” of Best of the Best, taking all three spots.

But enough from me. Let’s hear from Ann herself. :)

JOANNE: First of all, congratulation on your first AND third place wins! What was your reaction when you found out you took TWO places in this year’s Best of the Best?

ANN: I was the only one awake, visiting my son, when I checked the Writing Challenge page. My reaction was a little subdued, I think, as I reflected on the story B’rikh Hu, its meaning and phrases. I thought I should check to see who was sharing the honour with me. Ah, Cori, awesome! I was so intent on seeing someone else’s name in 3rd place that I honestly didn’t recognize my own name as my name. (I wonder if 57 year-old brains aren’t prone to momentary lapses in logic.)AnnGrover

JOANNE: Unless I miscounted, you entered the Challenge every week but one this challenge year, and placed in the editor’s choice almost every week. In fact, a whopping FOURTEEN of the forty Best of the Best contenders were your pieces. Why are you so dedicated to entering the Writing Challenge?

ANN: I had surgery in July 2014, so I timed my re-entry into Faithwriters to be part of my recovery time, (along with watching the entire Doc Martin series). I had a goal as part of my re-entry: to place 10 times in one quarter, which I managed in the fourth quarter. Once I started, missing a week was out of the question; that would defy my sense of order, a little OCD maybe. I’d tell myself, “Leave it for a week or two. You’re busy and no ideas are forming.” But I just couldn’t leave it alone.

It’s also a matter of self-discipline, that I do something every day that is creative and productive, whether it’s writing, painting, or quilting.

JOANNE: We can all use that kind of self-discipline! Can you share a bit about your writing process for a typical challenge entry (if there is such a thing)? Where do your ideas come from? How long does it take for you to put a piece together? What steps do you go through? How do you choose your titles (which are ALWAYS as brilliant as your pieces, in my opinion)? Do you generally have to cut your first draft to fit the word count?

ANN: Most of my ideas come from my love of history. I try to imagine, “Where in history would the topic fit?” Often, I would describe my process as the “Bunny Trail Method.” I look up a historical event, which may mention another event that sounds interesting, and in perusing that, I clamp down on a “story” in unexplored territory, far removed from my original idea. I enjoy the research as much as I do the actual writing process.

I brain-storm with Dan often, and he gives me insight, fodder, if you will, especially for the cowboy poetry. If I don’t have a plan by Sunday night, I panic a bit. I usually start writing no later than Monday, getting it all down, then let it “simmer” until Wednesday, when I do a final edit. I usually don’t have to cut very much from the first draft, word-count-wise; streamlining flow and clarity consumes most of my editing process.

As far as the title goes, I ask myself, “What is the story really about? In one word, what is the essence?” I make a “short list” of possibilities and choose from those.

JOANNE: You have more than two hundred writing challenge entries since you started entering ten years ago (yup! Your first was in August of 2005!). I’m not going to ask you to pick your favorite entry of all time – unless you want to share it – but what would you say is your favorite challenge piece from this past year? Why?

ANN: You are asking me which of my children I love the most! Actually, I am partial to the poetry I attempted this past year, written partly as a tribute to our dear Kenn Allen, who was an inspiration and friend to me, but also as a tribute to the cowboys I know and love, and the life I live.

(My favourite of all time is And God Breathes, which still gives me the sense of its having been written by another Hand.)

JOANNE: Both of your winning pieces this year are just beautiful and poignant and moving. Can you tell us about them: both B’rikh Hu and In The Secret Place? How did the ideas come to you? How did the pieces come together? Any particular struggles?

ANN: B’rikh Hu is a tale of being Jewish in a terrible time. I asked myself, “What would be a difficult thing to surrender to God?” Obviously, our children, whether to the circumstances of life or poor choices, theirs or ours. From there, “In what way would a Jewish parent surrender a child?”  I researched “Jewish children,” “World War II,” and on to news stories of the era. By the story’s completion, I had researched “Jewish blessing for children,” and finally the Kaddish, the prayer of mourning.

In the Secret Place is a product of the “Bunny Trail Method.” I started by researching castles and fortresses in Scotland, another of my favourite themes. Since a fortress or castle was definitely too “in the box,” I considered landforms that might provide a refuge. I found a reference to a cleft in a gorge near Lesmahagow, where slots had been hewn for crossbeams, which may have formed a roof, creating a refuge for cattle or even “Covenanters,” though the article said there was no historical proof Covenanters had hidden there. What are Covenanters, I asked myself, and the story was born.

JOANNE: What is the hardest part of writing (for the challenge or anything else) for you? How do you overcome it?

ANN: Truly? Clicking the “Submit” button. I second guess myself and am still fearful every time. I question whether the story is on-topic, fresh, and well-executed. To overcome the hesitation, I “just do it,” and click, but alway with trepidation.

JOANNE: What advice do you have for writers? What is the best writing advice anyone has given YOU?

ANN: Several bits of advice.



READ a variety of genres, styles, and voices. I have several favourite authors, and the list evolves with almost every book I read. I liken reading their works to wallowing in a meadow of sweet clover and eating ripe peaches. I covet their word-smithing abilities, the fluidity of their prose.

Advice to me? Don’t wait for inspiration. Sit down and write. Carve out a slice, however slim, of every day and commit to it. Cut and edit later, but right now, WRITE. Another thing I’ve taught myself is that no idea is too far “out there.” Chances are, even, it’s already been told or happened in real life somewhere, but it’s the spin you  put on it, the magic you weave around an old theme, that makes a story. I’m not speaking of stealing someone else’s story, but taking ordinary events and making them sparkle, or taking something you think “couldn’t really happen” and fearlessly make it real.

JOANNE: What other writing do you do? I know you were a Page Turner Runner Up a few years ago. Any progress on that project or any other?

ANN: I have written about 30,000 words on my 2011 Page Turner story, Prairie. However, I find my MCs speak to me most loudly when I am at our retirement home, near the actual setting of the story, so I may need to wait until we have retired to finish the story. I should tell you that I’ve changed the title, as I discovered several other novels called Prairie. The title is now The Waking Land, from a poem by Bliss Carman, a Canadian poet from the era of my novel. I hope to use other snippets of his poetry, as well as from other Canadian prairie poets, sprinkled throughout the finished novel.

I also write for a Canadian beef cattle magazine, which is about as exciting as painting rocks, but it’s all experience, right? The only thing is, I can’t make anything up when writing for Beef in BC. I have a few more ideas for novels and am considering entering the Page Turner again.

JOANNE: Tell us a bit about your family and your life outside FaithWriters.

ANN: I live and work on a 26,000 acre cattle ranch in northeastern British Columbia, Canada. I help with working cattle — there are 3000 cows, 2400 calves, 130 bulls — so there’s always plenty to do all year round. I also do the lawn mowing, an activity that gives me hours and hours (acres of lawn!) of mindless, repetitive back-and-forth-ing, giving me time to develop story lines or pray. I have three grown children (34, 31, and 25), three granddaughters (7, 6, and 2) and  a grandchild on the way. In my spare time, I quilt, bake, garden, paint, and I am hopelessly addicted to rodeos, or maybe just hopelessly in love with my cowboy, who also loves rodeo. We met at a rodeo, after all.

JOANNE: Where can folks connect with you?

ANN: Here at Faithwriters, of course. I also have a (much neglected) blog at http://a-thousandhills.blogspot.ca/  I hope to get that updated soon and be a little more consistent with it.

Right now, we live at Mile 26 of the Alaska Highway (Highway 97 in British Columbia) if any one is travelling to Alaska. The coffee is always on.

JOANNE: Anything else you would like to add?

ANN: Thank you to Mike Edwards and especially to Deb Porter, Jan Ackerson, yourself, and the many, many other Faithwriters who have inspired and encouraged me for the last ten years.

JOANNE: Ann, YOU have been an inspiration and encouragement to each of those people as well, I guarantee you – and this interview, I am certain, will do the same. Thanks for sharing your passion with us, and once again, congratulations on your wins!

Watch for an interview with Cori Smelker, who took second place in Best of the Best, on the blog soon.

Congratulations, Ann!

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Tough Love For Writers

Tough Love for Writers

by Linda Yezak

Author C. Hope Clark wrote a tough-love piece for writers who are afraid of taking the step to becoming published authors. In her blog post, “On Being Tentative,” Hope writes:

This is all on you. We all like the pat on the back and the positive reinforcement. That’s human nature. But if you need someone petting you on the head every day to keep going, maybe this isn’t the job for you. There are too many others out there who show up everyday to make their dream happen. And they left their mommas in the other room.

Hope’s piece is the kick-in-the-butt kind of a pep talk that falls in line with the “pee or get off of the pot” mentality. Toughen up! Dig deep!

She’s right.

I don’t know too many authors who think this job is a cake walk. It’s hard. It fosters fear and insecurity. For many–if not most of us–it keeps us humble.

Those of us who make it a point to sit down to the keyboard every day are putting into words things we think are funny, sad, scary, exciting, touching, inspirational–then we put them out there with our fingers crossed and our eyes screwed tight in prayer that someone else will find them funny, sad, scary . . .

But that’s not all of it. Many writers have to overcome the idea that they have no family support. None. But they squeeze out time to write anyway and get their few words down one day, only to rip them up in disgust the next.

Then, finally, one day a miracle happens, and they have a completed manuscript. They manage somehow to go to a writers conference, they sit in on agent/editor panels and listen to what’s expected of them–and true terror sets in, because here is where they learn that it doesn’t matter whether you have a great story. You have to have a great story that will compete with hundreds of thousands of other great stories. And you have to have a platform of people who are willing to buy your great story. In fact, if you have a fabulous platform, you don’t necessarily need a great story.

Everything falls on the shoulders of the author these days. Networking and marketing are as much the author’s responsibility as writing, editing, meeting deadlines. So when–miracle of miracles–our manuscript is accepted, we have to step out of our little shells and toot our own horns. This is when we discover that we’re playing a kazoo at a high amp heavy metal concert.

But–yet another miracle–people start buying our books and the reviews start pouring in. Many of them are good, but there are always those who simply didn’t like it, and low ratings appear and raggedly rip at our hearts with a dull blade. Meantime, we watch someone else skyrocket to the top, someone who found the key to the spaceship, while we’re still searching for the launch pad.

For many, if not all, writers, this is it. This is a way of life, our chosen career. We swallow the fears, the insecurities, the anger at injustices, the lack of family understanding and support. And, masochists that we are, we sit down to do it all over again.


lindayLinda W. Yezak lives with her husband and three cats in a forest in east Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She holds a BA in English and a graduate certificate in Paralegal Studies. Thirty years later, she’s finally putting her degree in English to good use, combining it with her natural inclination toward story-telling to create fun, unique novels, which include Give the Lady a Ride, The Cat Lady’s Secret, and The Simulacrum. Her major non-fiction title is Writing in Obedience, cowritten with Hartline literary agent, Terry Burns.