How to Write Like a Professional

How to Write Like a Professional
6 Surprising Mistakes That Make Writers Look Like Amateurs... and How to Avoid Them

Monday, October 16, 2017

Spelling and Grammar Errors

You Know You're a Writer... [2 of 10]


Training for a marathon does something to your brain. Once you reach 15 miles, you think anything less than that is EASY. Yes, it's all relative, but it's true. Imagine going on a trip several hours away. You're getting closer to home. The sign on the highway says, "Your town. Next exit. 7 miles." You cheer! Seven miles! I just ran that distance a couple weeks ago! Woo-hoo, we're almost home!

You know you're a runner when... || grammar errors, christiewrightwild.com

You know you're a writer when... || spelling and grammar errors, writing humor, christiewrightwild.com

Spelling Errors


I won 1st place in my school-wide spelling bee when I was in the 4th grade. Spelling came easily to me. My sisters called me a walking dictionary. But guess who struck out the very next year? Yep. Me! First person, first word: awful. I swear I watched this movie one time about a blind artist with a pet dog named Offel. So that's how I spelled it. Crazy, right? It's pretty funny now, but in the moment, I was upset, to say the least.

Creative spelling might have it's place in character names, or even in real life human names, but when you're submitting a manuscript, it needs to be error-free.

  • Use spell check.
  • Have someone else look at it.
  • If you're unsure of any word, look it up in a dictionary.

Grammar Errors


I'm a writer. My husband is not. Yet he continually finds errors in news headlines, newspaper articles, online magazine articles, and yes, even signs. While signs with grammar errors can be hilarious, a manuscript with grammar errors is not. Well, maybe it is for the editor - upon occasion. But not for the writer when they get a rejection.

Again, use spell check and have others read your work. The three things to focus on when learning grammar is:

  1. parts of speech
  2. punctuation
  3. know the difference between a phrase and a clause
  4. how to write a good sentence

Submission Ready


Once you have a manuscript without spelling and grammar errors (and you feel like the story is truly solid), then you can submit it to publishers! Just don't plaster your stuff all over the highway for writers and runners to make fun of (when they see grammar errors).

Read the first comparison in the "You Know You're a Writer/Runner..." series: [1 of 10] How to Deal with Rejection.

What's the funniest grammar mistake you have seen, whether in real life, or online? Share in the comments!

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Monday, October 9, 2017

How Writers Deal With Rejection

You Know You're a Writer When... [1 of 10]


As a writer and a runner, I couldn't help but discover these 10 similarities between writing and running. Over the next 10 weeks, I'll be sharing one "You know you're a runner when..." and one "You know you're a writer when..." quotes to make you chuckle and think a bit. I'll also share a little extra wisdom and inspiration for you.





Celebrate Each Milestone


It takes a lot of courage to write a manuscript. Even more to submit it somewhere. It hurts to receive that first rejection letter. But when you have a drawer (or email folder) full of rejections, you can wear the writer badge with honor. You'll be able to console others when they get rejections. Come up with a rejection celebration ritual. Buy a special candy bar reserved for rejections. And a different candy bar for each manuscript you finish. Not everything we write will get published, no matter how much we may want it.

Writers Aren't the Only Ones Getting Rejections


It's important to remember that literary agents and editors also get rejected. Agents get rejected a LOT. No matter how much an editor may love every piece that comes across their desk (they don't), they simply can't accept everything. So agents feel the brunt of those industry rejections. Editors also get rejected. When they connect with a piece they love, someone else on the acquisitions team (usually from the marketing department) can't quite fall in love with it the same way. So the editor gets rejected. They didn't want it to go down like that. It's a group effort and it's a business. It's just a part of being a writer. If agents and editors aren't taking rejections personally, then we shouldn't either.

It Only Takes One, "YES!"


Persevere! Be patient with the process. Yes, it's easy to doubt yourself. Yes, it's easy to let fear settle in and hijack your writing. Yes, it may seem like we'll never be published, but don't give in. Don't give up. Continue to hone your craft. Continue to work on your writing. Continue to work on you writing projects. Learn from the rejections. Celebrate each rejection. (Do I smell Hershey's kisses?) Remember, it only takes ONE yes. Keep running your writing race and you'll pass the publication finish line soon enough.

What do YOU do when you get a rejection? How many have you collected so far? Share in the comments!

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Monday, October 2, 2017

How to Overcome Writer's Block

...and solve your plot problems


You may be wondering if writer's block is even real? What is writer's block anyway? How do you deal with writer's block? The answer is yes, writer's block is real. Some would argue otherwise, but if you've ever experienced it, then read on!

How to Overcome Writer's Block || is writer's block real, how do you deal with writer's block, what is writer's block, christiewrightwild.com

What is Writer's Block?


According to Wikipedia, the definition of writer's block is...
Writer's block is a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work, or experiences a creative slowdown. The condition ranges in difficulty from coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce a work for years.
But I'd like to pose another definition:
Writer's block is the effect of a creative slowdown that causes a person to have a temporary lapse in the ability to solve problems.
Think about it. We all hit roadblocks from time to time. It doesn't matter if you're a mechanic, a doctor, a musician, or a parent. We encounter things that stop us in our tracks because we simply don't know how to move forward.

So why did writers get a special name for it? Probably because we write stories and encounter plot problems more than the average Joe. We don't know how to make the character get from point A to point B. That kind of creative slowdown is just as difficult to overcome for a writer as it is for a parent to figure out how to get their kids to go to bed on time, or maybe even at all.

What causes writer's block, anyway? In a nutshell, fear and timing. Perhaps you aren't quite ready to write the masterpiece you had in mind. When that happens, you'll hit a block for sure. And the other cause? Well, fear is what paralyzes most people from taking action. Fear of dying - no freefall jumping out of a plane for me! For writers though, it's the fear of rejection. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of not being perfect. The fear of failure. The fear of success. The fear of feeling like a fraud.

All kinds of fear can cause writer's block. The fear creeps up and inserts itself smack dab in the middle of your story. Usually at a critical point where a character needs to make some kind of decision. It's like time has frozen and the clock keeps ticking, but nobody sees any way out. It's a stone cold block of ice. But somehow, you've got to chisel your way out.

Is Writer's Block Real?


For anyone who has experienced the inability to solve a plot problem as quickly as they would have liked, yes, writer's block is real. Perhaps you struggle with coming up with new ideas. Or maybe you're stuck in your writing because you don't have all the research, or you haven't figured out transitions or point-of-view yet. All of these are examples of how writer's block can affect you.

Being stuck because you don't have any ideas is definitely hard, but writer's block isn't really about not having any ideas. It's really about not have any idea how to solve a specific problem. More specifically, a plot problem. And that's a real problem. One that takes guts, knowledge, ingenuity, and determination to find out how to overcome.

There is more than one way to overcome writer's block. You can change your environment, eliminate distractions, read a book, listen to music, or do something to get your blood flowing (my personal favorite, specifically running).

How do You Deal with Writer's Block?


Learning how to overcome writer's block is a skill you can learn. While there are lots of things you can do, the simplest thing is to "Just Do It." Yes, write through the pain. Sometimes during a run, I feel a slight kink in my neck, or a strange click in my hip, but usually when I run through the "pain" it works itself out and I feel a lot better afterward. The run loosens me up. Makes me more flexible. Works out the stiffness.

When you are feeling that stubborn stiffness in your writing, it's time to take action! You can't simply not write and expect the Muse to show up and help you with your writer's block problem. Creativity is the antidote to writer's block. So how do you boost creativity when you feel paralyzed by the fear of not knowing where to take your story next? PLAY!!!

Think of the most wild and wacky thing your character could do to get out of the trouble they're in. Just write. Write no matter how crazy it sounds. Write anything. Even if you think it's the stupidest thing you ever thought of, heard of, or wrote about. You don't even have to write on your current project. You can free write or journal to help get the wheels turning. You could even play a word game.

The point is to keep moving (whether literally or figuratively) and keep your writing head in the game. Forward momentum will help you bust out of that writer's block and finally get your characters from point A to point B.

What do YOU do to combat writer's block? Share in the comments!

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Monday, September 25, 2017

50+ Best Motivational Race Signs

Funny and Inspirational Spectator Signs


If you have ever run a marathon, then you know the power of the motivational spectator sign. Many are quite humorous, just enough to keep you going. But several are also very motivational, just the emotional pickup you need to keep going. Either way, funny or inspiring, these are some of the best race signs out there.

If you're not a runner, consider creating a couple of these race signs the next time you have the opportunity to be a spectator in a race. Many of them are famous Disney quotes, quotes from famous runners, or inspirational literary quotes.

These 52 motivational race signs are ALL a part of the Writers Who Run 10k Race in North Carolina every June. What makes it so unique is that they are staked into the ground along the race several days before the race takes place. They are printed on waterproof plastic corrugated cardboard on both sides so that the runners can be inspired both coming and going, even if no spectators show up.

Without further ado, here are the best quotes for writers who run.

1. "Just Do It." ~ Nike

"Just Do It." - Nike || 50+ motivational race signs, best marathon spectator signs

2. "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." ~ 2 Timothy 4:7


3. "I am not fast." ~ Baymax, Big Hero 6

"I am not fast." ~ Baymax, Big Hero 6 || funny Disney running signs, great marathon spectator signs

4. "Whether a mile or a marathon, you get there the same way... a step at a time. Such is life."
~ Baylor Barbee

"Whether a mile or a marathon, you get there the same way... a step at a time. Such is life." ~ Baylor Barbee || motivational race signs, best race signs

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

STOP RESEARCHING AND START WRITING

How to Know When to Stop Preparing and Just Do It


I recently quit my job. Just last month. I was the marketing assistant for a one-woman office. The job was okay, but the boss was NOT. Five weeks was all I could handle.

You want me to write a blog post for you? Sure! Not so fast, Christie. Little did I know she would be worse than a flock of mosquitos at the Bayou in summer, waiting to pounce on the first sight of human flesh at the break of day. She definitely wins the "Worst Boss Ever" award.

"No, you can't use the word cleanse! That's a gypsy word. You have to use the word clear. Never cleanse." My, oh, my. And that was seriously just the beginning.

STOP Researching & START Writing || How to know when to stop preparing and just do it, when to start writing, when to stop writing, when to begin research, how to know when you're finished researching

Stop Learning and Start Doing


But today, we're talking about a different kind of beginning. How to know when to stop researching and when to start writing. Or in my case, how to stop taking a hit and learn when to duck!

I have to admit that part of this analogy actually comes from the business/education world(s). They say, "Stop learning and start doing." People who want to start their own business are "all in" when it comes to the learning aspect. They (myself included) can become caught up in the learning mode and keep learning and learning and learning. It's easy to let research become your crutch to not face the fear of action. Research can become a form of procrastination.

Modes of Research


While you might not be conducting formal research for a term paper, both fiction and nonfiction require a certain amount of research. Every project is different. There's research for how to write, research for how other writers accomplish the craft, and research for the minute details you'll include.

Maybe you're researching setting, a time period, types of characters, a particular career, details of a certain person (biographies), or anything else you need to know. Here are some popular modes of research.

  • Reading. Perhaps you are studying the nuances of your favorite authors. Reading is a great way to do this. 
  • Travel. Maybe you need to travel to learn more about a setting, or to research a particular document held in a certain locale. Travel is a great way to feel more connected to those details.
  • Interviews. Interviewing the experts in the topic you need help with is an easy way to get inside the mind of a certain character, or simply to learn information in a more accessible way.
  • Studying. This likely involves reading, but it's more intense than a pleasurable novel. This includes books about how to write, in all the different varieties. It also includes blog articles about anything you need to know to get the job done.

Start Writing

So, how do you know that you have enough material for your book? What if you miss an important detail? Here's the thing. Once you have enough information to fill in the gap for why you're researching, you can go ahead and write that part, whether it be a character, the setting, a few details about a trip to the zoo, or something else. But if it's overall research you're doing, you'll probably be in research mode for a bit longer. Like if you're writing a biography. Either way, when you're able to explain what you're researching without your notes, then you're ready to start writing.

Sometimes quitting is a bad thing. Like when you're running a race and you're tired. Your lungs are burning and your legs and feet ache, but you want to cross the finish line, so you refuse to quit. But sometimes quitting is a good thing. Like when your boss is a Voodoo Lady. Or like when you want to give up binge-watching TV. Or when you have enough research to start your business or write your book. It's time to stop learning and start doing.

What project are you working on right now? What did you need to research? Share in the comments!

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Monday, September 4, 2017

12 BEST WORD GAMES FOR WRITERS

The Best Non-Digital Games for Writers


If you want to keep your word prowess sharp, whether you're a writer, a teacher, a parent, or a child, this list is for you. Games engage the mind and when the game is FUN, you're likely to remember new knowledge. So choose a game from this list, grab some friends, and have a wonderful WORDY time!

12 Best Word Games for Writers || writing games, word games, popular games for writers, board games for writers, verbal word games, word games to play with writers

Board Games


While their are dozens of games to choose from, these games are likely to be your best bet when it comes to gaming with words. Some are classics, but the rest should be.

  1. Scrabble. This is the epitome of the classic board game for writers. Of course, millions of non-writers play this game too. Build words and win points. The most clever wordster will win.
  2. Boggle. A noisy option for a word game. Shake the plastic container and let the letters fall in place. Race against others - and the egg timer - to see who can make the most words from the letters you're dealt.
  3. Upwords. Similar to Scrabble, but you can build on top of previous words. And the scoring is different. Growing up, I played this game with my mom all the time. So, this is one of my personal classic favorites.
  4. Bananagrams. If you haven't heard of this game, you're missing out. A little yellow pouch shaped like a banana holds all the letter tiles. Each person shouts SPLIT, PEEL, and DUMP in a race to build words crossword puzzle style. The winner gets to shout BANANAGRAMS.  
  5. Balderdash. This game is a trivia and bluffing game. Be prepared to laugh out loud with this one. The trivia categories are weird words, movies, notable people, incredible initials, and laughable laws. You are using your "storytelling" skills to convince others of the right definition, especially when you don't have a clue. With categories that have to do with words and initials, a writer could really fall in love with this game.
  6. Apples to Apples. Even teachers use the Apples to Apples for Kids version in classrooms to help children learn the value of comparisons. You have to stretch your mind to find the best description from a handful of cards to match a different - perhaps seemingly unrelated - item on a another card. This word game is sure to make you laugh!

Paper Games


While there may be many more word games out there that only use paper and pencil, these seem to be among the most popular, even iconic.

  1. Crossword Puzzles. This is the iconic symbol of writers everywhere. What writer has never worked a crossword puzzle? If you're a writer and you've never done a crossword puzzle, I'd LOVE to know in the comments. When I was a kid, I got a giant wall crossword puzzle for my birthday one year. I spent many, many hours working on that puzzle, with my nose stuck in a dictionary. Unfortunately, I never did finish it. I got pretty close, but honestly, I think there were lots and lots of errors (and no solution available). At least I couldn't "cheat" right?
  2. Word Search Puzzles. Another favorite among wordsters. You can buy books with a theme. Cats. Dogs. Animals. You name it. Not as rewarding to some as the classic crossword, but it still passes the time and your brain learns to look for patterns.
  3. The Daily Jumble and Cryptoquips. These two games are typically found in the comics section of your local newspaper (along with crosswords and word searches). They are both forms of unscrambling. The Daily Jumble scrambles up common words and there's a puzzle at the end to describe an illustration. Cryptoquips are coded messages that you must figure out what each letter stands for. For example: P XT X SLPBOL would decode and read "I AM A WRITER."
  4. Word Lists. Another fun one, especially in classrooms, is when a long word or a short phrase, such as HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY is used as a "letter bank" for children to create as many words as possible. It's a fun little challenge and usually the one who writes the most words wins a prize.

Verbal Games


Finally, here are two simple games you can play, even if you don't own one of the board games above or if you don't have pencil or paper handy.

  1. Alphabet Trip. Remember the looooong "list" game? "I'm going on a trip to _______ and I'm going to take with me an A_______ (apple)." Then the next person repeats from A, B, C, etc. and fills in with the next letter on their turn. "I'm going on a trip to _______ and I'm going to take with me an Apple, a Bear, a Candy bar, and a Dinosaur." You can even make it more challenging by limiting it to only food, or fruit, or animals, or office supplies!
  2. License Plates. This is a game if you really ARE going a trip, even if it's just to the office supply store down the street. There is no winner in this game. It's just to see who can come up with the funniest phrases the fastest. License plate: WHB. Of course you can use any words you like, but to challenge yourself, try for adjective, noun, then verb. For example, Watery Horses Blubber. 

Sooooo... the next time you're trying to think of a word game to play, choose one off this list. They're some of the best games for writers out there!

Got another favorite word game? Share in the comments!

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

CLOVER ME GREEN

Well, I'll Be! Clover Me Green! I Really AM a Good-Luck Machine!


Did you know that one of my super powers is finding 4-leaf clovers? I LOVE 4-leaf clovers! I collect them in little decorative boxes. Once, I found 17 4-leaf clovers in an hour! That averages to a mere 3.5 minutes per genetic mutation!



Plants I Love


I love 4-leaf clovers, the purple-bearded Iris, dandelions, sunflowers, wild roses, gardenias, daisies, and buttercups. But I hate the smell of a Lily. They give me a headache. What's your favorite and/or least favorite flower?

Clovers and Shells


When I was in 3rd grade at Candler Elementary School, my teacher was Mrs. Comer and her assistant was Ms. Allen. Ms. Allen collected 4-leaf clovers in a barrel of water on her front porch. Anytime someone found a 4-leaf clover, she'd trade a seashell for it. That's how I began my collection of seashells. Though I had never been to the beach before, I had collected dozens of shells. I was the best 4-leaf clover finder in the 3rd grade! And I finally got to visit the ocean when I was in high school.

Clover Me Green


Of course, there's a book I'm writing about 4-leaf clovers. It's called Clover Me Green. Maybe one day you can see it in print and read all about Molly and her clover hunting adventures.

What's your 4-leaf clover finding record? Share in the comments!

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

DO YOUR CHILDREN KNOW WHAT A COPPERHEAD SNAKE LOOKS LIKE?

Did You Know Copperheads Are Pit Vipers?


I'm writing a book about a boy who loves snakes. So, I have to become an expert too. My husband found this video in an article on USA Today, so I thought I'd share it with you. Even though most people would kill a copperhead in an instant (and I'm no different), they are also "good" snakes because they eat mice and voles.



Art Schaeffer's Nickname is Gleek


Did you know that "gleek" is a verb? It means: to use one's saliva glands to shoot saliva a credible distance, with the intention of hitting someone or something. Also known as "snake spitting." He learned to gleek at a young age, by accident.

Growing up, my brother could always gleek on demand. I never could get it right. Occasionally, I'll accidentally gleek when yawning. What about you? Can you gleek?

Gleek's Pet Snake


In my book, Gleek has a pet snake. I'm thinking of letting it be a common grass snake, either a rough green snake or a smooth green snake. They are smaller, 2-3 feet, and a more shy species that may not like to be handled as much as some other species. But Art likes to hold his snake a lot. Do you have a favorite species? A species suggestion you'd like to see Gleek own?

10 Snake Species That Make Good Pets


Of course, some of the following snakes make better pets than others. If you want a pet snake, do your research. Here's a great site to help you.
  1. Ball Python
  2. Boa Constrictor
  3. Common King Snake
  4. Corn Snake
  5. Garter Snake
  6. Gopher/Bull Snake
  7. Grey-banded King
  8. Hognose Snake
  9. Milk Snake
  10. Mountain King

Have you (or your children) ever owned a pet snake? How long did it live? What did you name it? What kind of snake was it? Share in the comments!

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

WRITERS WHO RUN 10K TRAIL RACE - 2018

Who Won the Wireless SoundWhiz Headphones?


One of this year's sponsor's, SoundWhiz, donated three pairs of wireless headphones. The top 3 winners overall were super excited to win them!!!

Writers Who Run 10k Trail Race || Top 3 Winners Overall Won Free Wireless SoundWhiz Headphones

Top Three


The top three winners of the race, overall, completed the 10k trail race in under an hour!

  1. Dave Essinger (57:58)
  2. Dave Harlow (58:19)
  3. Dylan Astrom (59:20)

And did you notice that they all have a name that begins with the letter "D"?

SoundWhiz


One of the racers, who sadly didn't win one of the SoundWhiz headphones, was ACHING to win one. It was what kept him going - the hope for such an awesome prize. He still won 3rd place in his age group, though. Thanks, SoundWhiz, for being the carrot to dangle in front of our racers!

Next Year


Next year's race will see a slight (or a not-so-slight) change. In order to more easily accommodate more runners of differing levels, there will be a 5k option added. And the course will change. It will be a flatter course, on the road, with a grand view at the base of the famous Fontana Dam, the second largest dam this side of the Mississippi. The name is changing too. Instead of the Writers Who Run 10k Trail Race, it will be called the Writers Who Run 10k and 5k Race for Literacy. Hope to see you there!

Question goes here? Share in the comments!

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Sunday, July 9, 2017

TOTAL ECLIPSE OF [MY] HEART

Are You an Astronomy Geek, Too?


This August 21, 2017 will the first time the United States will see a total solar eclipse across the contiguous states since 1918. I'm within 2 hours of the 100% band! I'm so excited! I even found a video about five ways to safely view a solar eclipse.



Making Memories


I don't know why I love celestial bodies so much, be it the sun, the moon, or the stars, but I do. I love the constellations and special occurrences such as solar (and lunar) eclipses. If you can, get with your children and make some memories with them. Maybe they'll turn into an astronomy geek too!

5 Ways to Safely View the Eclipse


In the video above, they list:

  1. solar shield
  2. eclipse glasses
  3. pinhole method
  4. pegboard
  5. lens solar filter

What have you used in the past? What's your favorite? It seems as though children most often use the pinhole method. It's probably the safest because it has the lowest risk of accidental exposure.

Storytelling


Lastly, I once wrote a picture book manuscript that will never see the light of day. It was about the constellations and the tooth fairy. Apparently, it was two different stories overlapping, much like the moon overlapping the sun. Can you write a story about the moon, the sun, or the stars? Who will be the star of your story?

Are you planning on watching the eclipse this August 21? If you had a chance to see it, what was it like? How will you (or did you) celebrate? Share in the comments!

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

HOW TO PERSONALIZE A QUERY LETTER:

3 Ways to Gain the Attention of an Editor or Agent


Before you send a query letter, hopefully you know how to look up the submission guidelines and that you need to actually follow them. Every editor is different, and every publisher is different. Sending Editor A a query letter according to Editor B's guidelines may get your query letter tossed in the trash. So, FOLLOW SUBMISSION GUIDELINES!!!

Once you have a list of editors to whom you'd like to submit your work, and you know their submission policy, you're ready to personalize your query letter. Whether you are polishing off your query by finally adding that personal touch, or you are just now beginning to write your query letter, it doesn't matter. Either way, it's the personal touch that may help the editor decide to actually read your query letter.

You want to make it clear that you're querying that person for a reason. If you follow one of these three ways to personalize a query letter, you'll definitely have a higher percentage of gaining the attention of an agent or an editor.

HOW TO PERSONALIZE A QUERY LETTER: 3 Ways to Gain the Attention of an Editor or Agent || writing, authors, submission process, submissions, how to submit a manuscript

Be Familiar With Their Interests


Yes, editors and agents are busy, but they have a personal life too. If you do any level of research at all, you're likely to find a few of their interests online. Whether it's their passion for all things elephant, or their interest in haunted houses, if you have a similar interest, you can use it to your advantage, especially if you've written something about that interest.

Query Example: I am writing to you because we share a similar fondness for elephants. I happen to have a manuscript about elephants that I think you might be interested in reading.

Follow Your Potential Agent or Editor to Conferences


Most editors and agents are always looking to grow their list. One way they do this is by speaking at writing conferences or retreats. If you follow your dream agent to a conference, you'll have an instant "in" to querying him or her. Often, you'll get an invitation to submit your work for a limited time. So if you want your book published with a certain publisher, follow where their editors go to speak and be sure to introduce yourself.

Query Example: I met you at the Writers Who Run Retreat last June and really enjoyed your workshop on great beginnings. I think you might enjoy reading my middle grade novel about magicians and love.

Know What Authors They Associate With


Every editor and agent has a list. They work with authors, both new and established. Be familiar with that list of authors. Know which authors you're fond of. When you mention an author or two in your query from their list specifically, they will know that you have done your research. They will be impressed with the fact that you like their work and the authors they associate with. So, do your research.

Query Example: I am querying you because you represent Author A, B, and C, all of whose work I greatly admire, especially Book 1, 2, and 3. I have a book with a similar feel to their work, though still uniquely mine. I think you might enjoy taking a look at it.

What's another way you can personalize your query letter? Share in the comments!

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Monday, June 5, 2017

THE PROS AND CONS OF DIFFERENT TYPES OF WEBINARS

The Internet is exploding with webinars these days. In almost every industry, you'll find webinars being offered. Knowing the different types of webinars out there will help you face them head on when you encounter them. If you want to host your own webinar, it will be helpful to know all the different types of webinars you can choose from.

Pros and Cons: Different Types of Webinars || writing, entrepreneur, writerpreneur, what to look for in a webinar

Webinars are one way in which we consume information. It's not the only thing out there. There are blog posts, podcasts, infographics, links within social media to other articles, videos, white papers, transcripts, and more. Webinars can be categorized in four basic ways, but the combination possibilities are many.

  1. long or short webinars
  2. paid or free webinars
  3. informational or sales webinars
  4. live or recorded webinars
  5. interactive or boring (just kidding, but nobody wants to listen to a boring presentation)

Different Types of Webinars


The Long vs. Short Webinar


The Long Webinar

This type of webinar is typically an hour or longer. There is generally a vast amount of information to convey, or a specific list of steps to cover. People who attend longer webinars are obviously

Monday, May 29, 2017

GETTING YOUR MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUED IS LIKE BUYING A NEW PAIR OF RUNNING SHOES

As a writer, you know it's important to revise your work until it shines. That's why you joined a critique group. That's why you look forward to your manuscript critiques. It's just like buying a new pair of running shoes. Let me explain.

How to Get Your Manuscript Critiqued || buying a new pair of running shoes, similarities between writing and running

An Outside Perspective


For big races, there's an expo. The race expo is where you go to pick up your swag bag, which includes your shirt and your bib. Then you get to walk around and look at all the vendors. There's food, drinks, coupons, shirts, hats, shorts, socks, headbands, jewelry, info about other races, massaging tools, insoles, and of course shoes.

At one such expo, the Brooks team was there with a big prize wheel, a little bus, and lots of shoes. "Step on a treadmill! Get a Brooks assessment. We'll find the right shoe for you." So you strip down to your tootsies and step on the treadmill. There's a camera aimed right at your naked feet, recording the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Within minutes, you have an outside perspective telling you where your strengths, and your weaknesses lie. Are you a supernator? An overpronator? Are your ankles in alignment with your legs and your feet? Sometimes, a look from the outside is what we need to tell us which pair of shoes to buy.

And with your writing? The person providing you with a critique is another outside perspective? Do you tend to be passive? Do you tend to tell more than show? Sometimes it's harder to know your own weaknesses, so invite someone to gently point them out to you!

Trying on the Recommendations


So now you know your running weaknesses. It's time to try on the recommended pair of shoes. Hop back on the treadmill and take them for a spin. You'll either go with pair A or pair B. Run a little here and run a little there. Recommendations are great, but you've still got to try them on and see which your feet like better.

Your story has been cut up with a microscopic razor. Things you never saw before. Things you never even thought of. But you can't wait to try out all the great advice. Well, minus killing off your main character's love interest. It doesn't matter; you're keeping it in. You might change the name though. But the rest of the critique seems to have some great recommendations! So far, so good.

Hope for Improvement


You chose pair A. They're bright and colorful, even though you'd prefer navy and grey. The good thing is that they are super comfortable. You're excited to have a new pair of running shoes. You were 200 miles overdue. Now all you can do is hope for improvement. Improved feel, comfort, and breathability. Improved times. Improved muscles. Less soreness. Fewer injuries. Yes, pair A will certainly improve your running. Now get out and run!

You sit at your computer and implement several of the changes suggested by your critique partners. You hope it makes your story better, that you've improved upon the last version. A few tweaks and you're ready for round two. "Hey, can you take a look at my story? Let me know if you like it, and what I can do to make it better. Let me know if any of it doesn't make sense." At this point, all we can do is hope for improvement. So run with it and keep writing!

How often do you buy new running shoes? Could you live without your critique group? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...

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Monday, March 20, 2017

FICTION BOOKS FOR RUNNERS ABOUT RUNNING

If you like to read and run, or you know someone who likes to run and read, then this list of books is definitely for you! Even if you hate running, but you love to read, you might find one of these books intriguing.

Books About Running || runners | runner characters | books runners will love

Running Books For Adults


This list is quite long, so I only list the image and summary for a couple. The other running books listed for adults are quite popular and well-known in the world of runners.

Resolve by JJ Hensley


In the Pittsburgh Marathon, 18,000 people from all over the world will participate. Over 9,500 will run the half marathon, 4,000 will run in relays while others plan to run brief stretches. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn't their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment and one man is going to be murdered.

Running Out by Dave Essinger


After a plane crash in a remote Canadian wilderness, the athlete-hero faces the race of his life—to save his wife, his daughter, and himself. Dan’s past is fraught with sinuous turns and compelling complexity, but his present path is straight and clear: survival. We follow his every stride, sometimes as breathless as he is, as he runs toward rescue—or disaster.


MOSTLY FICTION


What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami
Once A Runner by John L. Parker, Jr.
Again to Carthage by John L. Parker, Jr.
Running by Jean Echenoz
Marathon Man by William Goldman
Run by Ann Patchett
I Want to Show You More by Jamie Quatro
Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish
Running The Rift by Naomi Benaron
The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
A Gift of Dragons by Anne McCaffrey
Two Hours by Ed Caesar
The Runner by Cynthia Voigt
Flanagan's Run by Tom McNab
Run With the Champions by Marc Bloom
The Purple Runner by Paul Christman
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner by Alan Sillitoe

MOSTLY NONFICTION


Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
PRE: The Story of America's Greatest Running Legend by Tom Jordan
Swoosh: The Unauthorized Story of Nike and the Men Who Played There by Julie B. Strasser and Laurie Becklund
Out of Nowhere: The Inside Story of How Nike Marketed the Culture of Running by Geoff Hollister
Bowerman and the Men of Oregon by Kenny Moore
A Race Like No Other: 26.2 Miles Through the Streets of New York by Liz Robbins
Why We Run: A Natural History by Bernd Heinrich
Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek
The Accidental Athlete: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Middle Age by John "The Penguin" Bingham
Feet in the Clouds: The Classic Tale of Fell-Running and Obsession by Richard Askwith
The Perfect Mile: Three Athletes, One Goal and Less Than Four Minutes to Achieve It by Neal Bascomb
Running and Being: The Total Experience by Dr. George Sheehan
Running With the Buffaloes by Chris Lear
Running Through the Ages by Edward S. Sears

I'm sure there are more, but this will get you started.

Running Books For Teens

Run by Jolyn Brown


When Supermom joins Dad on his latest project, Morgan is left with her aunt. Instead of dating the cute boy from her high school track team, Morgan will spend the summer in a small town near Kanab, Utah, five hours from home and all of her friends. Her plan is to keep a sane distance between herself and her aunt's six boys. What Morgan does not expect is being attracted to the neighbor kid who hangs out with her cousins. How can she like two guys at the same time? Just when her life could not get more messed up, Morgan stumbles across an abandoned house and learns she lived there when she was small. The house and its secrets haunt her . . . it turns out she has been dreaming about the place for years. All she wants is to hold onto what she loves. But as the summer passes, she wonders if she is going to lose everything.

The Inside Track by Richard Tice


A college student who has started weight lifting and running to improve his love life meets a fascinating girl on the track who introduces him to the Mormon Church.

Running Books for Children


The Pumpkin Runner by Marsha Diane Arnold


"Nearly all the sheep ranchers in Blue Gum Valley rode horses or drove jeeps to check on their sheep. But Joshua Summer Hayes liked to run...with Yellow Dog trailing behind him." So it's no surprise when Joshua decides to enter a race from Melbourne to Sydney. People laugh when old Joshua shows up in his overalls and gumboots, calmly nibbling a slice of pumpkin for energy. But then he pulls into the lead, and folks are forced to sit up and take notice.


Marathon Mouse by Amy Dixon



The mice of New York City dread the day of the New York City Marathon more than any other—the crowds, the large shoes, the noise. All of them, that is, except for Preston. He and his family live underneath the starting line on the Verrazano Bridge and every year Preston has dreamed of joining all the other runners in the marathon. This year, Preston is determined to make his dream come true, even though his family tells him that mice are not fit to run marathons. He trains hard leading up to the big day and when the race starts, he successfully dodges sneakers and crosses the finish line, showing his family that mice can do much more than just scurry.


The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller



It's the day before the big parade. Alta can only think about one thing: Wilma Rudolph, three-time Olympic gold medalist. She'll be riding on a float tomorrow. See, Alta is the quickest kid in Clarksville, Tennessee, just like Wilma once was. It doesn't matter that Alta's shoes have holes because Wilma came from hard times, too. But what happens when a new girl with shiny new shoes comes along and challenges Alta to a race? Will she still be the quickest kid? The Quickest Kid in Clarksville is a timeless story of dreams, determination, and the power of friendship.


Wilma Unlimited by Kathleen Krull



Before Wilma Rudolph was five years old, polio had paralyzed her left leg. Everyone said she would never walk again. But Wilma refused to believe it. Not only would she walk again, she vowed, she'd run. And she did run--all the way to the Olympics, where she became the first American woman to earn three gold medals in a single olympiad.


Have you read any of these? Which one will you add to your reading list? Share in the comments!

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

14 DAYS OF LIT LOVE

This Valentine's Day, I invite you to join the 2-week writing challenge, 14 Days of Lit Love. Celebrate all things literary! #14DaysofLitLove

14 Days of Lit Love || Join the 2-week writing challenge to strengthen your creativity
Join the challenge!

Celebrate literature


The best way to celebrate literature is to buy books and read books. But another way is to write! By practicing the writing craft, you can create more awareness for all things literary.

Write more often


Most people say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. New research says the average is closer to 67 days. If you made a New Year's Resolution this year to write more often, or to write every day, or to be more consistent with your writing, this challenge is the perfect way to help you implement that!

For two weeks, you'll receive a fun and fast writing challenge in your inbox that will inspire you to keep going. Receive even more motivation by sharing your musings on social media (Twitter and/or Facebook).

Amp up your creativity


The 14 writing exercises can act like little warmups for a longer writing stint, if you like. They're meant to challenge your creative thinking and help you have fun with your writing. They are exercises that you can repeat over and over again. Join the challenge today!

Are you game? Type, "YES!" in the comments if you joined the challenge!

Keep on keepin' on...

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

HOW I GOT MY AGENT

Writers always want to know how other writers got their agents. In fact, someone recently asked me how I got my agent and I realized I hadn't yet shared it on my blog. So today, you're in for a treat!

How I Got My Agent || how to connect with an agent | literary agents | resources for agents for picture book writers

I Wasn't Looking for an Agent


I started writing seriously way back in 2009. I had two ideas. I wrote and wrote and wrote. In 2010, I continued to write and finished multiple manuscripts. I even joined a critique group. In 2011, I went to my first SCBWI writing conference. I had been to two other conferences during college, and a writing workshop several years later. But an SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) conference is in a league all its own.

But I was never really looking for an agent. It felt too scary. It was late 2012 before I ever sent a manuscript to an agent, and that's only because I heard him speak at the annual SCBWI conference. I decided I didn't feel like researching who would be the "perfect agent" for me and my work. I'd just submit to agents I've heard speak and had an "in" to submit to them, or to agents I'd actually met. In 2013, I submitted to 6 agents, one of which asked to see more of my work. Exciting! Yes. But ultimately, a no-go.

Even though I wasn't actively looking for a literary agent, I did happen to collect several possibilities along the way. I saved it for you, too! If you write for children, you might want to check out this list of 60 Agents Who Represent Children's Books. If you write for adults, my list won't help you, but my story can still inspire you!

My First Agent


Yes, I'm on my second agent. It happens. It's actually very common in the industry. In 2014, I went to a writing conference/retreat (it was kind of a hybrid) and I met a few agents. I even submitted to one of them earlier that year through the Gold level membership of 12x12 (it's for picture book writers), but never heard back. Yep. Crickets.

At this retreat, one particular agent's workshop resonated with me... a LOT! Because of the insight I received and the connection I felt, I revised my manuscript and several weeks later, I submitted to this agent. Less than a week later, I got a phone call about 9:00 PM. I had so many questions! We chatted about my book and some other manuscripts I had ready to go. A week later, I signed the contract. I had an agent!!! Woo-hoo.

But somehow, subconsciously, I got a little lazy as a writer. I was still active in my critique group and still attended conferences, but something was "off" with my mindset. About a year after I got my agent, we broke up. It just wasn't working for either of us. There were lots of factors. I was depressed for a bit, but my writing community helped me get through it.

After the Breakup


I still didn't feel like doing hard-core research to find "Mister Perfect." Yes, I was on the rebound, so I selectively submitted to two agents. We didn't court. In early 2016, I submitted to a handful of agents. Meanwhile, I participated in a Pitch War on Twitter. I didn't find my agent through a Twitter Pitch session, but I did become more aware of the hashtag #mswishlist. Yes, there's a whole website dedicated to what agents and editors are actually looking for!

I thought about my strongest manuscript, the one that got me my first agent. The story that had been submitted to only a few choice editors at this point. A manuscript I started in December 2011 and finished the first rough draft in January 2012, a manuscript that I continued to revise for 2 to 3 years. My agent-hunting manuscript. I went to MSwishlist.com and looked for a good fit. I saw a few posts of agents looking for a manuscript about the history of a thing. Perfect!!! I connected through Twitter and was invited to submit through the guidelines on the agency website. So I did.

Although I had never heard of this agent before, or met her, let alone heard her speak anywhere, I followed through. She emailed me and set up a date and time for a phone call. I had my questions ready. She patiently and happily answered every single one of them. She asked me about my other projects. I told her about 5 or 6 of my other polished mss. And she loved the idea for all of them! We hit it off right away. She offered representation at the end of the call, but specifically told me not to answer her right away, and to take my time and get back to her in a couple weeks.

So I contacted the other agents I had submissions out to, and in March, I signed with Stacey Graham of Red Sofa Literary. She's a perfect fit: professional, dedicated, conscientious, thoughtful, and my personal cheerleader. Thank you, Stacey! If you want to see what my books are about via some fun similarities, visit my Pinterest board: MY BOOKS.

Do you have a dream agent? Not necessarily a contract with your dream agent, but one you'd love to have? What's one question you asked your current agent or WILL ASK an agent, given the opportunity? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...

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Monday, January 30, 2017

HOW TO LISTEN FOR INSPIRATION

Writers have "The Muse." Runners have "endorphins." Call it inspiration, motivation, or habit. It's all the same thing really. Today's inspirational thought or motivational message has nothing to do with habit (more on that in a future post), and everything to do with this quote.

"Words make you think thoughts, music makes you feel a feeling, but a song makes you feel a thought." - Rob Kapilow || famous quotes | inspirational writing quote | somewhere over the rainbow

Somewhere Over the Rainbow


Somewhere over the pages of your books or the pavement under your feet, you have no doubt felt the endorphin-filled Muse enter your soul. "Words make you think thoughts, music makes you feel a feeling, but a song makes you feel a thought." I just love this quote by Rob Kapilow, composer of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

Writing, when in you're in the zone, takes on a music of it's own. In the middle of a good run, you feel the lightness of your feet, the rhythm of your breath, and endorphins conducting a symphony all their own. I don't know about you, but inspiration (not necessarily for new story ideas) comes to me most often through songs.

Choose a Theme Song, or Two...


I have a lots of favorite songs and I love to dance. Mostly in the privacy of my own living room. So when someone suggested to find a theme song for certain tasks, I took notice.

So, have a song for jazzing me up when I do live webinars. I have a song for hunkering down and getting to work, whether that be writing or more business-y marketing type stuff. I have a whole playlist for running. And another playlist for Quittin' Time, songs that make me want to stop working and get up and dance.

If you're having trouble creating productive habits, perhaps you should try grounding the action with a theme song. Or if you struggle with motivation to get something done, like go for a run? Theme song! Try it!

Finding Inspiration Through Other Means


Okay, so maybe music just ain't your thang. That's okay. Here are a few other ways people receive inspiration.

Ways to Get Inspired

  • Nature
  • Exercise
  • Journaling
  • Music
  • Reading
  • Prayer
  • Meditation
  • Dreams
  • Brainstorming
  • Friends

What inspirational method speaks to your heart the most? Gardening? Traveling? Share in the comments!

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Friday, January 27, 2017

EPISODE 11: DO IT ANYWAY, EVEN IF YOU ONLY HAVE 20 MINUTES

This writing tip will help you be more consistent in your writing. Fight procrastination by setting aside 20 minutes a day. Over time, you'll be amazed at what you've been able to accomplish.

How to Be More Consistent in Your Writing: Do It Anyway || writing tips | author advice | running | how to be a writer | writer inspiration


How to Be More Consistent

The trick to fight procrastination when you'd really rather only have 30-40 minutes or 2+ hours to write or go for a long run, is to "Just Do It." You only have 15-20 minutes? Do it anyway!!! Little steps more often add up to more growth over time. Do it anyway.

Set a kitchen timer for 20 minutes. How much did you write? Share in the comments!

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

WRITING EXERCISE: IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE AND OTHER FANTASTIC TALES

Looking for a fun writing activity, prompt, or exercise? If you've ever read one of Laura Numeroff's books from her famous "mouse series," then you'll know exactly how to do this exercise. I love the entire series by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond:
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
  • If You Give a Moose a Muffin
  • If You Give a Cat a Cupcake
  • If You Give a Pig a Pancake
  • If You Take a Mouse to School
  • If You Give a Dog a Donut
  • If You Give a Mouse a Brownie
  • If You Give a Pig a Party
But today, I give you a list of *new* potential titles for a fun writing exercise.

Writing Exercise: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie || writing exercises | writing prompts | activities for writers | writing humor

Circular Tales


The idea behind a circular tale is that the story ends where it began. In If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, the boy gives a cookie to a mouse. The mouse asks for a glass of milk. He then requests a straw (to drink the milk), a mirror (to avoid a milk mustache), nail scissors (to trim his hair in the mirror), and a broom (to sweep up his hair trimmings). Next he wants to take a nap, have a story read to him, draw a picture, and hang the drawing on the refrigerator. Looking at the refrigerator makes him thirsty, so the mouse asks for a glass of milk. The circle is complete when he wants a cookie to go with it. Now let's see if you can do it too!

Writing Prompts


My daughter and I were being silly one day and inadvertently stumbled upon creating this list for the universe to enjoy. Even if you write YA fantasy, or adult romance novels, you can still benefit creatively from this exercise of creating a circular tale. Try it! You just might like it, Sam-I-Am.

Choose a "title" to prompt your writing for the day. Have fun!

  1. If you give a bear a biscuit, he'll want some honey to go with it. (My personal favorite!)
  2. If you give a frog a fritter, he'll want some fruit to go with it.
  3. If you give a dog a donut, he'll want a belly rub to go with it.
  4. If you give a zebra zucchini, he'll want some salt to go with it.
  5. If you give a cow some candy, he'll want a costume to go with it.
  6. If you give an octopus an orange, he'll want to juice it.
  7. If you give a snake a sucker, he'll want another one to go with it.
  8. If you give a fox a flapjack, he'll want molasses to go with it.
  9. If you give a fish a funnel cake, he'll want strawberries to go with it.
  10. If you give a toad some taffy, he'll want to a friend to go with it.
  11. If you give a lobster a lollipop, he'll want a song to go with it.
  12. If you give a chick some cheesecake, she'll want some cherries to go with it.
  13. If you give an ape an apple, he'll want some peanut butter to go with it.
  14. If you give a horse a hamburger, he'll want some cheese to go with it.
  15. If you give a shark some sherbet, he'll want a bowl to go with it.
  16. If you give a sheep some sugar, she'll want some kisses to go with it.
  17. If you give a wolf a waffle, he'll want some berries to go with it.
  18. If you give a yak some yogurt, she'll want some granola to go with it.
  19. If you give a pelican some pie, she'll want some pecans to go with it.
  20. If you give a pet a pickle, she'll want some ice cream to go with it.
  21. If you give a goat a grapefruit, he'll want some sugar to go with it.
  22. If you give a spider some spaghetti, she'll want some sauce to go with it.
  23. If you give a bug some bubble gum, he'll want some music to go with it.
  24. If you give a mole a milkshake, he'll want some whipped cream to go with it.
  25. If you give a rat some Root Beer, he'll want some ice cream to go with it.
  26. If you give a jellyfish some Jell-O, he'll want a jellybean to go with it.
  27. If you give a sloth some salsa, he'll want some chips to go with it.
  28. If you give a slug a smoothie, he'll want a straw to go with it.
  29. If you give a skunk a sweet potato, he'll want some cinnamon to with it.
  30. If you give a squid some sushi, he'll want some chopsticks to go with it.
  31. If you give a seal some strudel, he'll want some icing to go with it.
  32. If you give a hummingbird some hummus, she'll want some veggies to go with it.
  33. If you give a bunny some veggies, she'll want some hummus to go with it.
  34. If you give an elephant a peanut, he'll want the circus to go with it.
  35. If you give an elf a hat, he'll want Christmas to go with it.
Got another prompt? Even if it has nothing to do with animals... Share in the comments!

If you give a teacher some chalk... 
If you give a runner some shoes... 
If you give a writer a pencil...

Keep on keepin' on...

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Monday, January 23, 2017

HOW TO CREATE A GRATITUDE JOURNAL

Inspirational quotes are so... well, inspiring! That's why I love sharing them with you! Today's quote comes from the famous actress, Roma Downey. "A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles." Let's take it a step further, shall we?

"A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles." - Roma Downey || gratitude quotes | gratitude journal | tips for writers

Start a Gratitude Journal


It doesn't have to be Thanksgiving, or even November, to have a heart full of gratitude and thanksgiving. What's the difference anyway? Gratitude is more about the feeling in your heart. Thanksgiving is about expressing those feelings outwardly. One way to do both simultaneously is to keep a gratitude journal. When you feel grateful for something, you'll want to write it down. When you write it down, you're expressing thanks for it. To create your own miracle magnet, start and keep a gratitude journal. It's easy!

All you have to do is get a notebook of some kind. It can be small or decorated; it doesn't really matter. But let it be especially for your thoughts of thanksgiving and gratitude. What I do is simply list 10 things for each day's entry. I try to let those 10 things be specific to that particular day. I usually don't include generic things that I'm always grateful for. Important things such as family, food, my home, friends, etc. I try to be specific.

For example, on 1-11-17, I wrote...
  1. it being Wednesday so I could serve on the line
  2. finding the paperwork and password for online login info for 401k
  3. Samantha being in a good mood
  4. taco salad for dinner
  5. my husband's sense of humor
  6. my new money mantra: "I can afford that. I can buy that. I have more than enough."
  7. Samantha filling out her own School Mall booklet so that I don't have to
  8. my banker
  9. 52 degree weather
  10. warm slippers to keep my feet cozy

What are you grateful for TODAY? Share in the comments!

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Friday, January 20, 2017

EPISODE 10: HELP SOMEONE ELSE

One way to help you get want you want is to help others get what they want. The legendary sales trainer Zig Ziglar once said “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want." While helping someone else may not be the fastest way to get what you want (ask, stop apologizing, persistence), it just might be the most fun.


How to Reach Your Writing Goals: Help Someone Else | author advice | writing tips | goals for writers


Help Someone Else


Sometimes the best way to help yourself is to help someone else. It's not really about getting what you want.

But if you're stuck and you don't know what you should be doing...
Or if you have too many problems to know what to focus on...
Or if you can't find your daily dose of joy...

THEN help someone else. If you help someone else up the hill, you'll get closer yourself. Helping someone should be about the other person.

Who has helped you on YOUR journey? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

ANNE LAMOTT ON PRODUCTIVITY

If you've never heard of Anne Lamott, she's a National Bestselling American novelist and non-fiction writer. Her books include New York Times bestsellers Grace (Eventually), Plan B, Traveling Mercies, and Operating Instructions, as well as seven novels, including Rosie, and Crooked Little Heart.

Among writers, probably her most well-known book is Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (1995). She is widely quoted, including the quote as depicted below, "Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes... including YOU."

"Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes... including YOU." - Anne Lamott | inspirational writing quotes | productivity | famous author quotes


Rest Days


Often times, we think of rest days being counterproductive. Or counter intuitive to our productivity. But really, they're not. In the fitness world, rest days are all the rage right now. Scientists have proven that a single day of a 20-minute foam rolling routine actually produces better results the next day. Most athletes know that rest days are essential to recuperate and repair sore muscles, and synthesize proteins. If you don't schedule in rest days, your body would always be in a state of breaking down.

For athletes, that shouldn’t involve merely sitting around doing nothing. The point is to help your body recover for your next workout. You can do this by getting a massage, stretching, or doing self-massage with a foam roller or "The Stick," a special type of massager that runners adore. Massage and stretches help to increase blood flow, range of motion, and eliminate toxins. By decreasing muscular tension, you can increase your ability for greater output in the days to follow.

Rejuvenation


For writers, you have to take rest days too. Children's book author, Jane Yolen, suggests doing character sketches, journal entries, title lists, or other such types of writing. Not every day has to be spent working on your novel. Remember to take rest days! Other types of rest for writers that can help increase productivity include physical rest and mental rest, not just writing rest, meaning that you DO something physical to take a mental break from writing. Or you do something you love to give yourself a mental break.

Physical Rest

  • Go for a walk or a run.
  • Garden.
  • Do chores.
  • Take a fitness class.
  • Go hiking.
  • Yoga or swimming.
  • Sex

Mental Rest

  • Go shopping.
  • Read a book.
  • Watch a movie.
  • Bake cookies.
  • Spend time with family.
  • Cook a new food/meal.
  • Take a trip.
  • Pray and/or meditate.

Productivity


The point is to take a writing, or fitness, break. Repair the damage. Get unplugged. Rejuvenate. So that you can return to your work feeling refreshed and ready to put out more work. So that you can take that stubborn chapter to the next level. So that you can feel more productive. So take time every day, every week, every month to unplug for a few minutes. And when you get back to the work at hand, you'll be glad you did.

What do you like to do to unplug? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...

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Monday, January 16, 2017

HOW TO WRITE A REVERSE NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION

Whether you believe in New Year's Resolutions or not, whether you make them or not, you should consider reverse engineering. Buddha said, "No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again." This is true. But you can also look past the beginning to make it happen.

HOW TO WRITE A REVERSE NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION | "No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again." - Buddha | quotes about resolutions

In One Year and Out the Other


Yes, in one YEAR and out the other. Funny, I know (I didn't come up with it), but hopefully your years are filled with much, much more than empty promises and unfulfilled goals. THIS year, put your goals IN and let them continue going right into all the other years to follow.

Reviewing the Past


The first step is to learn how to review the past. Not so much in comparison to what goals you set and whether or not you reached them. Just review the past year. See how you did. Look at all the GOOD that happened. No downfalls allowed. No BUTs allowed. You wrote two new manuscripts? Awesome! Include it. Don't let yourself say, "But my goal was ten." That's not allowed.

What DID you accomplish? Did you land an agent? Did you revise a manuscript 20 times to near perfection? Awesome! Include that too. Did you attend a writing event? Did you run a new race? Did you take a fun family vacation? Did you overcome impossible odds? Overcome a bad habit you once had? In what ways did you grow, and learn, and achieve? Lay it all out there. You know you're awesome. Get it on paper. Or at least out in the open. Say it aloud.

Back to the Future


When you review the past, it is helpful to write it all down, but not necessary. But now we're getting to the nuts and bolts of how to write a reverse New Year's Resolution. And this part, my friend, you must write down. It has to do with dreams, goals, faith, love, happiness, feelings. It's like a vision board in words. Words make it even more real. Write a journal entry for December 31, 2017, as though it has already happened. That's the secret. As though it has already happened.

"Don't worry about the HOW, worry about the WOW," says Mike Dooley of TUT.com. Start your journal entry off like this, "This past year, 2017 (or whatever year you're doing this for) was the best year ever. I accomplished so much! It was amazing! I sold two books. It felt like I was on top of the world. Like I just finished a 2-mile run, but could have kept going for 10 more."

You get the idea. Have fun with it! Whatever your ideal life looks like, include that in your reverse New Year's Resolutions, as though it has already transpired. Whatever you want to have happen in your life, write it down. Don't write that certain things happened in certain months, just that it happened. Everything you write may not happen this year. But you'll be surprised at the end of the year at how much you did accomplish. Focus on the feelings of love and happiness and joy. How will each event, each accomplishment, each hurdle you overcome, make you feel? And that, my friend, is how you write a New's Year's resolution that won't leave you feeling like you gave up before the first day of Spring.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! What is one thing you would LOVE to have happen this year? Share in the comments!

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

EPISODE 09: YEARLY WRITING AND RUNNING RITUALS

What I really meant to say in the video is explained with more accuracy below. After all, they are completely unscripted and off the cuff.

Yearly Writing and Running Rituals | Do you know why you write? | writing habits | rituals for writers


Running Rituals


Every year, I look forward to going to at least two races that I plan a year in advance. My races of choice are:
  1. The Cooper River Bridge Run, a 10k in Charleston, SC at the end of March or beginning of April each year
  2. The Writers Who Run 10k Trail Race, in Fontana Dam, NC each June
Having this race ritual gives me something to look forward to - and train for - all year long. Not that I'm training all year, mind you. But the dates are scheduled into my calendar. It's an experience I can't re-create on my weekly solo runs. These races are the highlight of my year, in terms of running. "So cool."

Writing Rituals


Just like the Canadian geese I mention in the video, when we have annual events we return to year after year, it's a way to return to our roots. My annual writing events are:
  1. The Writers Who Run Retreat in June
  2. The Carolinas SCBWI annual conference in September
These events are how I keep the ritual of writing and running alive all year long. The anticipation and excitement of creating your own writing or running rituals can help you stay close to the "why" of what you love to do.

What annual rituals do have in place? Share in the comments! #SOCOOL

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