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!

Keep on keepin' on...

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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!

Keep on keepin' on...

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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!

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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!

Keep on keepin' on...

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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

Keep on keepin' on...

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

WIN FREE TUITION TO A WRITER'S RETREAT

Let me ask you a question. If someone gave you a free writing retreat, would you take it? If so, now's your chance to win a trip to NC! Of course, you'd be responsible for your own airfare.

Win a FREE Writing Retreat in NC | writer resources | conferences | retreats | trips | working vacations | contests

Rural North Carolina


Imagine being with 47 other writers... and making friends that you'll cherish forever. You'll explore the mountains and trails. You'll eat S'mores. Visit the Fontana Dam and take a tour of Fontana Lake. This place is magical. Who cares that it's 3 and a half hours from the nearest major airport?


Rejuvenating, Educational, Productive, Social


With 8 faculty members to meet and learn from, you'll be able to revise your manuscript with renewed vigor. Two roundtable critique groups will give you direct and specific feedback on your first two chapters. Each evening, we'll be social... with journal making, swimming, boat tours, and a book signing party and book character costume contest.


Adventurous, Thematic, Charitable, Braggable


Two-mile trail runs each morning. A themed race: dress up like a book character! Great views! And get a medal. BLING!


Who will you invite to come with you? Instead of sharing in the comments below, share the emails of three close friends when you sign up for the contest and get 10 extra chances to win!

Keep on keepin' on...

Monday, January 9, 2017

WHAT TOP 3 CHALLENGES DO YOU FACE AS A WRITER?

This is an ongoing writing survey I began in 2016. I've gotten some excellent feedback so far, but would love to grow my reach to include more input. I'll update the data as we go along.

Top 3 Challenges Writers Face | writing tips | author advice | how to grow as a writer

Success Means Different Things to a Writer


I love the feeling of completing a first draft. It's like the Muse is your best friend. Unfortunately for writers, there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle of success, and writing a great book is just one of those pieces. What are your biggest writing challenges? I'd love to know your challenges, dreams, and goals!

Sign Up For My "Go, Writer, Go!" Newsletter


When you sign up for my newsletter, I'll share the results of the survey thus far. I'll start you off with an instant download of my most popular tip sheet: Six Surprising NON-grammar Writer Mistakes That Make You Look Like an Amateur Author AND HOW TO AVOID THEM.

During the first few weeks, I'll send you a "Go, Writer, Go!" message every few days. After the first few weeks, I'll send you an email about every 20 days. Not too much, but not just a few times a year, either. Write Wild!!!

What's your #1 writing challenge that you currently struggle with right now? Share in the comments!

Keep on keepin' on...

Friday, January 6, 2017

EPISODE 08: PREPARE FOR PROGRESS IN YOUR WRITING AND RUNNING

So far in 2017, my goal of blogging two times a week has been successful for week #1. This week's insight focuses on preparing for progress. Enjoy the short video. As always, run safe and write wild.

YouTube video | writing and running | how to prepare for daily progress | careers for writers


What ONE thing can you do to prepare for your goals? 
Wear a long-sleeve shirt, a short-sleeve shirt, check the forecast? 
Have a list of questions ready to ask your dream agent?

Keep on keepin' on...

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

ROUND UP: BEST BLOG POSTS OF 2016 (TOP 5)

If you saw my last post about my New Year's resolution, you'll know that I only posted a measly 21 times in 2016. I had wanted to do a Top 10 Posts of the year, but I don't have that many to choose from, so here's my 2016 Round Up: the top 5 best blog posts I shared with you last year.

5 Best Blog Posts of 2016 | writer tips | author advice | new year's resolutions | blogging for writers

This year, my goal is 2x a week. And one of those will be a video. Easy peasy, right? Hopefully!

  1. Types of Nonfiction in Children's Books
  2. What's the Difference Between Writing Workshops, Conferences, and Retreats?
  3. Classic Toys for Summer - 40 toys that don't require batteries
  4. The Top 10 Writer Myths of All Time
  5. 44 Reasons to Be a Writer

What is one of your goals this year? Share in the comments below!

Keep on keepin' on...