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    I Finished My First Draft. Now What? {6 things you can do with your book}+I’M BACK!

    So…you’ve typed those last words of your first draft. You’ve done it. After months of outlining, plotting, researching, and head-desking writing, you’ve finally finished that first draft.

    Some may wonder what all the options are regarding what they should do with that book. Here are six different things you can do with your first draft.

    Read more…

    A Little Hiatus Notice {I’M REDESIGNING MY WEBSITE!}

    Well…

    I guess the title of this post is pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll say it anyway…

    I’M REDESIGNING THIS WEBSITE!

    No, in case you’re wondering, I don’t hate the way this website looks. When I first designed it, I liked it. But it doesn’t look exactly how I’d like it to be long-term. So this blog is going to have a totally new look, and I’m super excited for you all to see it.

    Read more…

    What Does Being a Successful Writer Look Like to You?

    We all want to be successful. In some way, somehow, we want to make a difference in this world. We want one (or all) of our ventures to turn out right.

    But what do we mean by success? What does it mean to be a successful writer to you?

    Take a look at both of these stories, and decide which view of success you’d prefer…

    *****

    Jamie clamped her hands over her mouth to muffle her squeal. I can’t believe it! I just can’t believe it! She launched out of her office chair, trying to be as quiet as she could as she jumped around the room. Her computer screen glowed into the dark room, casting an eerie light. Definitely contrary to what she was feeling.

    Jamie plunked back down in her chair. She felt like she could go running, even though she’d just come back from one. She was sweaty, smelly, but beaming.

    She was a best-selling author.

    She’d made it. After years of writing, editing, pitching, and more editing, she’d finally got published. And that book just reached best-seller status. She’d dreamed of it since she was little. It was hard road, but she’d hoped, no, knew, that this would all come true.

    And all before she turned 20. She was a teen best-selling author. Impressive.

    Jamie couldn’t contain herself. She flopped on her bed and screamed into her pillow, hoping it muffled it enough for her still-sleeping family.

    She sat back up and realized she’d just left her running sweat on the bed. Oh. That was a mistake. But who cares? She could use her book-selling money to get a whole new set of bedding, right?

    She rushed to her closet to pick out her outfit for the day. Something nice; she had a book signing at the library today. Her friends and family were planning on coming. Not that it was her first signing, they were just being supportive, bless ’em.

    Jamie grabbed her favorite pair of black jeans, ankle boots, a nice white blouse, and headed toward the bathroom. She shut the door behind her and hung the clothes on the hook on the door.

    She planted her hands on the sink and stared at her reflection in the mirror. She couldn’t stop the smile. It threatened to split her face in two. Wait until Mom and Dad find out. They’re gonna flip! 

    She began yanking off her socks. This feels like a dream. It’s a dream come true, really! People actually love my book and it’s a best-seller now. People are paying their hard-earned money to buy my book. 

    She let out one last squeal, this time unmuffled. A groan sounded from her parents’ bedroom on the other side of the wall. She felt like doing back flips. I’ve done it! I’ve really done it!

    Later that morning, her mom drove her and her books to their library and helped her set up her table. Jamie couldn’t stop smiling the whole time. People came to buy her book and get it signed. Some came with copies they’d already bought to get her autograph on them. All of them singing praises about how much they’d enjoyed her book.

    Jamie signed a lot of books, shook a lot of hands (gave a few hugs too), and gave lots of smiles. A dream come true.

    *****

    The second story…

    *****

    Amy’s hand shook as she tried for the third time to tame her curly hair into a ponytail. With a groan, she dropped her arms and let her hair flop to her shoulders. “Nothing’s going right today.”

    Her mom knocked on the doorframe. “Everything okay?”

    Amy shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe this isn’t such a great idea.”

    Her mom came over and rubbed her back. “Oh, don’t say that, sweetie. You’ll do fine. You’re just nervous, that’s all. Here, let me help you.” She swept up Amy’s hair into a neat ponytail with one try.

    “Thanks, Mom.”

    She planted a kiss on her daughter’s forehead. “You better hurry. You don’t want to be late for your first book signing.”

    Amy’s stomach clenched in a nervous knot again. A book signing at a local bookstore didn’t sound like a daunting task. But if you were Amy, and it was your first time, it would be. She wished she wasn’t so socially awkward. She wished she could just be herself and relax.

    She looked over at the cardboard boxes squishing down her bed. Boxes full of copies of her book, which she’d self-published only a few months ago. It wasn’t exactly flying off the shelves, but she’d had some sales. I’ll just be grateful for anything I can get. 

    At 22, she’d been dreaming of publishing since she was little. She’d heard all these stories about successful teens who had landed a book deal with great publishing houses. She thought it’d be cool to be a teen author. That impressed people, made them buy more books.

    Well, she didn’t make it as a teen. After pitching to agents for years and not getting anything, Amy decided to self-publish. Because there was a message she wanted to give with her book, and it didn’t matter which publishing route she took.

    Amy stared at her reflection in the mirror above her dresser. Turns out, she’d forgotten to put eye shadow on her right eye. She closed her eyes with a sigh. Nothing’s going right. Who would forget to put eye shadow on one eye? Me, that’s who. The forgetful klutz who can’t concentrate on any–…

    She stopped herself. No sense in beating herself up over little things. She was just nervous, like her mom said, and that made everybody do things they wouldn’t normally do. She pulled out her eye shadows again. It’s okay. Just get through today. Smile, Amy.

    And she did. She felt silly smiling at herself in the mirror all alone, but it made her feel better. Just think, I’m a published author. I’ve spent years on this book and it’s actually out there. People are reading it. And enjoying it too, I hope.

    Soon Amy had her boxes of books loaded into the family car. Her dad drove her to her book signing location and dropped her off after unloading the boxes, with a promise to return soon with the rest of the family.

    Amy set up her signing station at a table in the bookstore. She set up her book display, hid the other boxes under the tablecloth, set out her favorite pen, and a clipboard with a form for email sign-ups for her website. Once it was all done, she surveyed with a satisfied grin. All set! Now all I have to do is wait.

    Amy sat at her table and waited. And waited. Her family came by, with her siblings pretending to be strangers who just loved her book and just had to meet the author in person. A few of Amy’s friends came by too, who brought their copies with them to get them signed. Amy appreciated all of their effort to support her, but wouldn’t somebody come that she didn’t already know?

    Her parents left to run a quick errand, leaving Amy to keep an eye on her younger siblings as they flipped through children’s books nearby. She sighed. Maybe nobody was going to–

    “Excuse me.” A girl a couple years younger stood in front of Amy’s table. She clutched a copy of Amy’s book.

    Amy put on her best smile. “Hi.”

    The girl smiled back. “Hi, my name is Hannah. And I just…” Tears began to well up in the girl’s eyes. Amy frowned. Did I do something wrong? Hannah swallowed and continued. She held out her book. “I just wanted to get this signed. By you. It means a lot.”

    Amy smiled again, eyeing the girl. “Sure thing. I’ll address it to you then?”

    “Please, do.”

    Amy signed the book, being extra careful about her neatness. “There.” She stood and handed the book back. “Thanks so much for coming!”

    Hannah bit her lip, her eyes moistening again. Amy reached across the table to touch her arm. “Are you okay? Is something wrong?”

    Hannah shook her head. “No. No, everything’s right. Thanks to you. Thanks to this.” She held up Amy’s book. Amy just blinked. Hannah went on. “Your book changed my life. The message, it’s…it’s beautiful. I needed it, more than I knew. Thank you.” She slipped around the table and threw her arms around Amy, squeezing hard.

    Amy squeezed back, her own eyes stinging with hot tears. To think that my book could change someone like this…

    Hannah pulled away, offered one last smile and a “thank you,” and left.

    The rest of the day, Amy got no more people at her table. But she was happy, she’d accomplished what she’d wanted to accomplish, even if it was just in one person.

    *****

    Sorry the second one turned out a bit long. 😉

    So, which story is your dream story? Which goals would you like to meet? Become a best-seller? Change someone’s life for the better? Get published while you’re a teenager?

    We need to look at the why. Why are you writing that story? What’s it’s message? Why are you passionate about it? If someone bought your book and began reading it, what would you want them to come away with? How would you want them to be changed?

    Sometimes it sounds nice to be a super famous author, with people wanting your autograph or picture, with your books flying off the shelves. It sounds glamorous. Fun, maybe.

    But what’s the point?

    What if you’d sold millions of copies of your book, but didn’t know how it was effecting people, effecting them on a deep level? You knew so many people were reading it, but didn’t know how they’d changed because of it?

    What if after selling a million of those copies, one person told you, “You’re book changed my life.” Would it be worth it? Would it be satisfying?

    God is going to care more about how your story is effecting the hearts of people, not how famous we are or wealthy. How are you going to change the world for Him? Does your picture of success look like something God would be proud of? Something that would glorify Him instead of ourselves?

    And that’s the point. To point everything we do to God. To use that message you want to give to bring people closer to Him, to reveal more about Him, change people’s lives for Him. Not us. Never us. Him. 

    Our picture of success as Christian writers, should just be to accomplish His will in whatever way He guides us. That’s a hard thing to do; to just let go of our own dreams and keep our eyes on Him. Because we’re unsure of where He’s taking us, and we like to know what we’re doing. But that’s the thing: If we knew exactly what God was doing, we wouldn’t really have to trust Him, would we? We would already know what was going on.

    But we don’t know. Maybe God will make you a famous author. Maybe he won’t. Your story might end up being like Jamie’s, or maybe like Amy’s.

    It’s hard to completely entrust something we love as much as writing to God. But the amazing thing is, God can take you places that you would never have dreamed possible. He goes beyond our dreams. We just have to wait on Him…

    Write down your idea of a successful writer. Keep that somewhere where you can see it all the time. Remind yourself that being a success as a Christian writer, is accomplishing God’s will in this world. Impacting, changing, reaching out to people for Him.

    But be prepared: He might just be preparing to take you on the ride of your life. 😉

     

    Write on,

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    What does being a successful writer look like to you? Chat with me about your writing dreams in the comments. 🙂

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    Hello, 2019!

    Whoah…

    2019 is…here? Already? 2018 seemed to pass by in a blur, leaving my in a daze that we’re already in the year 2019.

    I’m posting this at midnight, right smack at the beginning of the new year (though the time may be different for you, if you’re in a different time zone 😉 ). But I thought I’d write a quick post about my New Years goals and resolutions. I might do an end-of-the-year-look-at-what-I-actually-accomplished-from-this-post-of-goals thingy at the end of this year, but we’ll see. 🙂

    Here are some of my goals and resolutions for 2019:

    • Eat healthier. I feel like I’ve been putting too much sugar into my body. And I need to be drinking more water. Healthier dessert and snack option are on my list to search for, and making better decisions as to what I’m eating. *sighs* Less chocolate…how am I going to live?
    • Exercise more. Isn’t this almost everyone’s goal every new year? Well, we shall see if I actually stick to this one.
    • Read more books. Typical booknerd. 😛 My 2018 Goodreads goal was 32. I thought I could read at least that many. But, alas, I did not (after all, it’s my senior year of high-school and my reading was just a lot of reading for school). So I’m lowering my goal a bit, but I’m still hoping to read more books this year. I want to read more non-fiction this year too.
    • Redesign this blog. Yup, this website might be in for a whole new look some time soon. 🙂
    • Begin my monthly newsletter. I wanted to start this right when I launched my blog, but I didn’t. I’m glad I didn’t too; I was just figuring things out with blogging, and adding a monthly newsletter to the mix might’ve been a bit much.
    • Um, graduate from high-school. Yeah, so there’s that. 🙂
    • Begin some sort of photography business??? Not sure about this one yet, but I really want to do something with photography. This probably won’t happen until later in the year, after I’ve finished high-school.
    • Finish Danni’s Dilemma. I want to rewrite this novella and edit it by the time spring rolls around.
    • Keep track of all words written. At the end of the year, I want to see how many words I’ve written. 🙂
    • Practice guitar and ukulele more. I’ve played piano for 9 years, discovering my love of music. I picked up guitar a bit a couple years back. I really enjoyed it, but never really put much time into it. Then in 2018, I bought my first ukulele. I love how music sounds on both of those instruments, so I want to put more time into learning how to play them (fun fact: I own three ukuleles now 😛 ).
    • Get more in-tune with God, strive to be more Christ-like, and put more of my focus on Him. Sometime I feel with all the life happenings and busyness and all that, I can forget that God is my first priority. I want to spend more time in His presence and grow my relationship with Him.

    And there it is. It’s quite a list (to me at least). 2019 already looks like it’s going to be a busy (but epic) year. Tell me in the comments, what are some of your 2019 resolutions and goals? What are you most looking forward to? I can’t wait to hear about what you have planned for 2019! 😀

     

    Write on and happy New Year 🙂 ,

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    Self-Care for Writers {stay inspired, creative, & feeling great}

    2019 is only a few days away, so let’s kick-off the year feelin’ good! 😉

    The new year is the perfect time to make resolutions and goals, so why not add another to the list: self-care. 

    It’s so. easy. for writers to forget about self-care. Especially if writing is just a hobby (not a career), we don’t always take the self-care part seriously.

    But I for one, plan on writing the rest of my life. I’m sure you’d like to too. 😉

    That’s a long time. A lot of hours at a desk, on your bed, or wherever else. Writing, writing, writing. Doing anything with this much consistency is bound to wear on your body, one way or another.

    But we can avoid the stinging-from-screen eyes, aching back, and low energy from desk jobs. Taking these few simple steps can keep you feeling healthier, not only for your body, but for that wonderful creative mind of yours. 😉

    Tip #1: Drink water

    Yup, you’ve heard this before (probably a million times).

    But water is so good for us. Not only does it keep you hydrated, it provides brain power and energy, flushes out toxins, boosts the immune system, and prevents sprains and cramps.

    I recently starting drinking water in the morning as I get started on my school work. Something that I’ve noticed is that I feel more energized and ready to go when I do this. I like to add essential oils to my water too, like lemon, lime or grapefruit. I think this makes it easier to drink more water, when it has a little flavor to it. 😉

    Tip #2: Take care of your eyes

    Not sure if you deal with this too, but if I stare at my laptop screen for too long without a break, I’ll get a headache or my eyes will starting burning (not fun). I kinda have to see to write. 😛

    I mentioned the 20-20-20 rule in my post about surviving nano. Every 20 minutes, look 20 feet away, for 20 seconds. Make sure your screen brightness isn’t up too high either (or too low for that matter). Your eyes will thank you. 😉

    Tip #3: Exercise

    I’m sure you’ve heard this plenty before too. When you have long hours of sitting, exercise is essential to keep you healthy and get your blood pumping. Have some fun researching workouts for your chosen area (I like to do ab and leg workouts) or just pick an all-around exercise.

    Or just go for a walk and enjoy the outside. 🙂

    Tip #4: Posture

    I don’t often hear advice for this, but it’s so important. I can speak from experience that sitting slouched for hours at a time typing hurts the back. A lot, sometimes. It can leave you with sore muscles and an aching spine, and no one wants that. Practice sitting straight in your chair. Better yet, try and find an office chair back support, kind of like this one.

    Also, make sure your chair level isn’t too high or low for the positioning of your laptop/computer. Position yourself so it’s not straining your back or neck in any way.

     

     

    Writers are creative beings. And as such, we are very susceptible to burnout. If we don’t take time to refill our creative ‘tank,’ burnout is the result.

    That’s why staying inspired and feeling creative is another big step to self-care for writers. So here’s some tips on staying inspired, recharging, and refill your tank.

    Tip #1: Take time to just live

    Go outside during the sunset. Don’t bring a book or your notebook. Just there and breathe. Think. Contemplate. Pray. Experience the sounds and smells of nature. Maybe even do some gentle stretches to release tension. Anything that makes you slow down and just enjoy living.

    Tip #2: Don’t worry about what others think

    Write that first draft like no one will read it. Don’t worry about what readers, agents, friends, or editors might say. You have a message, so write it. Write it for you. Maybe when second drafting comes around, you can focus more on the audience you want to reach. But the first draft is a delicate stage, and you have to be careful.

    Don’t focus on what others think. What do you think about your book? What does God think?

    Tip #3: Put some time into other creative hobbies

    Your mind needs breaks, even from things you love. A creative brain loves to toy with new things.

    Pick up a hobby you haven’t enjoyed in many years, or better yet, start learning something new.

    Tip #4: Maybe we really don’t have to write every day

    I hear this bit of writing advice a lot. And frankly, I disagree with it. Not everyone’s writing thrives off of writing every day. For me personally, I write more just when inspiration hits. Some writers write a certain amount of days during the week and does something else the other days. And some do write every day.

    The thing is, you have to find out what works best for you. Finding your perfect groove will be very beneficial to your creativity and inspiration.

    Tip #5: Journal

    Don’t type it on your computer. Write in a notebook. Write down your feelings, thoughts, what happened that day. Don’t worry about if anyone will read it, just be real with yourself and write your heart onto those pages.

    Tip #6: Take a break before burnout hits

    You know that feeling when you feel The Burnout Monster creeping up, but hasn’t fully consumed you yet?

    There. That’s when you take a break. Recharge. Refill your tank. Before burnout has taken you over and who knows how long it will be until it leaves. Just take a few days to step away from writing or some other activity you’ve been doing a lot. Refill your tank.

    Tip #7: Look for inspiration everywhere. Expect it.

    As writers, all of life is a source for inspiration and ideas. By enjoying simple things in life, you find more inspiration. The way dead vines crawl over a broken window, the sun’s glint off of a puddle on a street, a lone flower poking through the snow. Look for inspiration, and you will find it. Ask the “what if?” question about everything to uncover the stories in every day life.

     

    I hope these tips will help you lead a happier, healthier, and more inspiring writer life! 😉

     

    Write on,

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    What are some ways you take care of yourself as a writer? I’d love to hear some of your own tips, so chat with me in the comments!


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