A Writerly Blog
I had come to the point of exhaustion. I'd worked diligently to write, submit and connect. But nothing was moving. Was I truly meant to be a writer, or did I imagine it? I needed to get my head together — a clear vision for the road ahead. Was I only spinning my wheels?
Then, the opportunity to join the team for the first ever writer’s retreat at Mount Hermon Conference Center near San Jose, CA, presented itself. For years a stellar writing conference was held at that lovely wooded venue, but it was time to forge another path. Writers attend conferences often. It's a place to learn new skills, be inspired, practice the craft, create new connections and meet with publishers and agents. But a retreat is none of that. No busyness. No running to the next workshop, feverishly writing down notes that will be sure to translate into a published book. No feeling of panic as we meet with an industry professional.
A Retreat means Rest and Refreshment
So what is a retreat? It's rest, refreshment, and time alone with God, finding your next right step in this sometimes frustrating journey towards authorship. And yes, it can be about connections—with fellow writers on the same path. But the main focus is to listen. What is God telling me about my next step? Your life? My relationship with Him? The great thing about the Mount Hermon Retreat was the freedom to choose where my focus would be. No pressure to attend any of the soul-care and craft sessions or gather with other like-minded writers. I could spend the entire weekend communing with my Creator on the many paths through the towering redwoods or pray along the labyrinth.
Listening to God’s Voice
So, I listened. In the labyrinth. In the chapel. On the forest path among the towering redwoods, feeling quite small. And I found answers to three questions:
In the mix was an Instagram Makover class, Author Accelerator Book Coaching Certification course, and my newly joined Hope*Writers community. I assumed, since I purchase them, I needed to continue with the instruction and connection.
These are the answers I received:
I also had a pull (not totally surprising, since this is why I entered the writing field) towards memoir. I have lived an adventurous life, with ups and downs, challenges and disappointments. But God used those times to draw me to Himself.
He also made it clear as I contemplated my career in the chapel, that my words are like seeds sown in the world. Someday, they will grow to touch hearts with the truths of God's Word and eventually change lives. I can't do it, but He can—through me!
Have you taken time away for any reason to get your priorities in order? Or maybe you just needed a rest. Either way, we all need the opportunity to pull away from the busyness and listen. You'll be surprised what God will whisper in your ear.
I don't know about you, but as a writer, I look forward to a new writing guide when it comes along. Today I get to share the news that The Conflict Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Obstacles, Adversaries, and Inner Struggles (Vol. 1) has arrived!
The Conflict Thesaurus is their newest writing tool. . .
This guide is about that absolutely necessary ingredient our stories need: Conflict. It shows you exactly how to use conflict to raise tension, create a fresh story premise, and pull readers in. The guide also dives into over 100 conflict scenarios and how each can be endlessly adapted to challenge a character inside and out. Problems, Moral Dilemmas, Ticking Clocks, Obstacles, No-Win Scenarios. . . this book is plot brainstorming in overdrive!
I'm part of Angela & Becca's Street Team for this release, and we have an important question to ask you:
Can You Survive Danger as Well as Your Favorite Protagonist?
Sure, it's easy for you (or is it?) to use conflict to wound your characters and make them struggle, but what if it's you in the hot seat instead? Will you make good decisions, or bad ones?
Are you game for The Conflict Challenge?
It's time to find out by taking the Conflict Challenge! I dare you to become the protagonist in a special story Angela & Becca have created. And heads up, if you survive, you win some pretty cool stuff!
While you're at Writers Helping Writers taking the Conflict Challenge, make sure to enter The Conflict Thesaurus celebratory giveaway, too. But hurry - it's only on for a few days.
So, take the challenge. . . if you dare. I did, and it's super fun. And don't forget to come back and let me know how you did against Camp Deadwood!
While your at it, check out Becca and Angela’s other stellar tools:
Have you used any of the above thesauri? If so, which is your favorite? If you're looking for an incredible online tool that helps you craft your story, check out One Stop for Writers.
Are you a writer stuck in a genre that's tired? Do you want to branch out into something new? How about travel writing? If you love words, adventure and a desire to share your discoveries, with a possibility of free food, lodging and activities, travel writing is for you!
The How-tos of Travel Writing
Believe it or not, travel writing is much like creating a novel or magazine article. All good writing needs a hook, which is usually sentence or paragraph that draws you in, then follows with points or scenes that bring you though the piece in an orderly and engaging way, keeping the promises the title and hook offered.
But where do you begin? Your hometown, of course! There are numerous things to see and do where you live. Restaurants, shops, nature hikes, and museums are just the beginning. Ask your local chamber of commerce, library or historical society for ideas. And read this short article, 5 Tips for Travel Writing Success in Your Hometown.
Have a focus. “Three top places to enjoy the fall leaves in (your hometown)” "10 top restaurants that offer hygge atmosphere in (your hometown) this winter” are some suggestions. Everyone googles ‘best’ or ‘top 10’ when they are looking for places to go, so add yours!
Then pitch your idea to a local newspaper or magazine. Much advice for these steps and beyond are found at Great Escape Publishing If they agree to publish your article, that's when the fun begins.
Looking for more possibilities for publication? Try Midwest Living, GoNomad, Rovology, or Play, Stay, Eat. But here's the catch: before writing an article, reading well-written ones is a must. Subscribe to Afar's newsletter, check out Travel&Leisure from your local library, and any other popular travel magazine. Read voraciously, to get a feel for the voice and content of a great travel piece.
If you are looking for constant inspiration and mentorship, join ITWPA which offers classes, travel ideas, examples of travel writing, great photography and more. It's an organization which will give you guidance and credibility, along with a jounalist's pass all your own!
I've given you a quick introduction to travel writing, but it takes study and perseverance, Consider joining the groups above for support. One successful travel writer, Abi King, has a stellar website, Inside the Travel Lab and offers a newsletter that will give you a feel for the travel journalist's lifestyle. Be inspired!
Are you a travel journalist? If so, tell us your favorite location to write about. Have you considered travel writing? Let me know your thoughts below!
Where do you go when you have a hankering for New England, but need to remain in the Midwest? The Third Coast, of course! Oh, you've never heard of it? Well, neither had I until a friend pointed out that factoid. The travel industry also calls the Great Lakes the “Inland Seas.” Who knew?
I often interview authors who have published books similar to my genre—historical/Biblical fiction. But today, I'm not only interviewing a debut author whose novel is soon-to-be-published, but she writes YA Fantasy. It is probably the fastest growing and sought after genre, by readers and publishers alike!
Visiting the home of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of The Girl Scouts in Savannah (1912) was truly an inspiration. Although this woman never achieved her dreams of a loving marriage and a house full of children, she found her passion in helping girls around the globe to realize their own dreams.
There is always a feeling of reverence and wonder when one visits a well-known author's home and gravesite. Especially if it has been the inspiration for a popular series in the past. I had that opportunity last month to visit St. Simons Island, GA, home of prolific author, Eugenia Price. And although I could only see her home from afar, walking on the property of the church she dearly loved, and paying my respects at her grave, I had a new appreciation for the term 'author'.
Has it been two years? Wow. Tempus Fugit!
As long as I'm celebrating The Heart Changer’s 2nd birthday, I might as well share some of the marketing images I've created on Canva. If you don't know about that site (no matter what your profession) you are missing out on an incredible resource! There are many tutorials to help you create an image. And best of all, it's free at a basic level.
There is nothing more delightful to a historical fiction author's heart, than a visit to an old city. It's intriguing and enlightening, and sometimes hilarious! People are people no matter which century they lived in.
Experiencing a bit of cabin fever lately? Maybe you live in a tropical climate and are able to get out any day at any time. Well, I'm honestly jealous. But if you live in the mid to far north hemisphere, winter is showing it's true colors. White and not-so-white.
Coupled with the coronacrisis lockdowns, it can be spirit-zapping!
Well, I decided I was going to get out for a quick morning walk Monday through Friday, and keep my eyes focused on my environment, no matter how bleak it seemed. Come along with me (leave behind your coats, boots and other winter accessories) and I will share my discoveries!
My MG Biblical fiction "The Heart Changer" debuted in 2019 with Ambassador International.