Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Diligence Report

January is on it's way out, so I thought I should report how I've done with my goal of having diligence in my life.

Last week I told you I was going to be more diligent in finishing some projects. Well look at this . . .

I made not just one warming pad, but two. They are great. I filled them with wheat, and when I warm them in the microwave there's an odd smell, but it's not that bad. Have you made warming pads? If so, what did you fill them with?

Now the photo album I told you about, well . . . I'm happy to report I finished it. I can't wait to show my grandson. He's going to be thrilled with his grandma.

As for diligence in reading non-fiction books, my goal is 12 for the year. I've already read one. And I'll have you know I finished another. I read Being George Washington by Glenn Beck

I loved this book. I learned so much about the Founding Father of our nation. He was such a wise and noble man. I felt as though I was actually living some of the scenes. I liked how Beck would occasionally have chapters that summarized what you've read by telling more interesting tidbits. You may think you've read all the stories written about Washington, but this book has a new take on the man and his time in history.

I'm in the middle of reading Seven Tipping Points that Saved the World by Chris Stewart and Ted Stewart.

I'll let you know when I finish it. What I've read so far has been great. I've learned about the Assyrians and their quest to destroy Judah and about the Greeks who fought the Persians at Thermopylae and Salamis.

Remember the goal that kicked off my month of diligence--that of not losing my purse again. I'm happy to report that I have not lost my purse once since my experience in Park City. I think that's a lesson I'll long remember.

Diligence is a virtue that needs to be constantly worked on each and every day of the year. It might be interesting when 2012 draws to a close to look back over the year and see how we've done. (Notice I included you in my plans. We're in this together.)

How has your month of working on diligence gone? I hope you've had a lot of success.

Thursday we'll be two days into a new month, which means another virtue to work on. Stop by and see if it is one you'd like to work on as well.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Exciting News and Finishing Your Novel

As you may know, most authors aren't able to keep the working titles of their books. Publishers usually title them. Well, this week my publisher let me know the title of my new book that is coming out in June. The title is . . . Cold Justice! I love it! The title fits perfectly. As the release date nears, I'll tell you more about my new romantic suspense.

Now to get back to today's blog.

What is stopping you from finishing your novel?

Could it be writer's block?

No time?

Or could it be something else, something you haven't identified nor do you want to? Could it be that you don't want to finish?

Don't look so astonished. I've had it happen to me. But before we delve into this weighty subject let's look at the excuses of writer's block and no time.

Writer's block . . .
The dictionary says writer's block is a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece. Wow. That tugs on the I-don't-want-to-finish thread, doesn't it.? Hang on to that thought. We're going to talk about it, but not now.

Most people think they have writer's block when what has really happened is they have written themselves into a corner, and they don't know what do to next. A good way to avoid this pitfall is to know how your story needs to end. And a good way to do that is to write an outline.

This outline can be as detailed as you need it to be to keep you on course. Some people write a synopsis of their story and that's enough to keep them on track. Is a synopsis or an outline a cure? No. I had outlined one book, and as I started writing, I came across some wonderful information about a secondary character that was an actual person in history. It was fascinating, and I just knew my readers would want to know about this character. But pretty soon I had written my story into a corner. That's when I realized the secondary character had hijacked my novel. I had to delete several chapters. Once I did that and stayed close to my main character and the outline, all was well.

Another reason you may have writer's block is you need to do more research. Research can open your mind to more possibilities for your character. So if you think you're suffering from writers block . . .
  1. write an outline,  
  2. check to see if a secondary character has hijacked your story, 
  3. or roll up your sleeves and do more research.

No time . . .
There are many ways to write around a busy schedule. I have a good friend who is writing a terrific story. She has four little children and is expecting her fifth. She's on the go every day, but she loves to write and has her laptop with her most of the time, writing whenever she can. I also have a friend who works a full-time job, has a family, and also does charity work, but late at night she sneaks off to her computer and writes her stories. Now, I know there is a time and season for everything and maybe the time isn't right for you to work on a novel, but for the most part if you really want to you can find the time to write. The "no-time" excuse is just that . . . an excuse. If you're serious about your writing you'll make the time.

You don't want to finish . . .
So you've been working on this story for say . . . five, ten, twenty years. You keep revising, you even start over several times but you can't seem to close the deal. Your problem could be that you're a perfectionist, you're afraid, or you don't want to say good-bye to the story and characters you've grown to love. In short, you don't want to finish. The thing you need to remember is . . . you can't sell, you can't progress, you can't grow as a writer until you realize that no book is perfect, everyone is scared, and you can write another story peopled with characters that you love. You can't really cure this ailment until you make up your mind to do it. Face the problem and then get on with it.

With each book you write, you learn. I had written over eight novels before I sold my first. And guess what? I have sold four other books and my publisher is interested in almost all of the novels I've written. I have to go back and fix those first ones, but I'm very hopeful that most of my stories will find their way to book stores. I know other authors who have had the same experience. Once they sold they were able to sale their other stories. So, keep writing, keep working, and don't give up because some day you'll be able to sell your books. 

Be diligent and finish that novel. You deserve to grow, to learn, and to succeed.

I know that I've posted other blogs about this subject, but I know many writers who struggle with this issue. I find it very sad. I couldn't possibly list all the reasons why people can't seem to finish their novels. Please share reasons you know that stop writers from finishing a novel. If we work together we might help other writers leap over this hurdle.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Diligence: Finishing Projects

Do you have projects that are half finished?

I have a couple of unfinished projects and every time I walk past them, they call to me, wanting my attention, but I don't have time to finish them, so I turn my back and walk away.

The two projects on my desk in my library/sewing room are

a photo album for my grandson and a warming pad.

The photo album I started way back in 2008. How do I know the date? Silly me, I put the year on it. Do I feel guilty and like a slacker Grandma? Yes!

The warming pad is a recent project. All I need to do is sew it, fill it with rice or wheat, and it's good to go.

Now I bring up unfinished projects because my goal this month is to have more diligence in my life. If I'm going to become more diligent I need to get the lead out and finish projects I've started or get rid of them.

This week I plan to finish that photo album and get that warming pad sewed. Now that you know about my intentions, I'm pretty much stuck and have to get these two projects done.

I started this post by asking you if you have unfinished projects. Come on, fess up. If I'm committing so can you. Take the challenge with me and finish those projects this week unless they are enormous and need more than a week. In that case commit to working on that enormo project until it's finished. Give yourself a deadline of when you want to have it completed and then get busy.

Because I'm in the finishing mode, Thursday's blog will be tips on how you can push through and finish that book you've been writing for years.

Our goal is to have more diligence and finish things!!!

In case you're interested . . .
The other day I was watching Glenn Beck. This year he has challenged people to work on one value a month. He's using values that George Washington tried to live by. Yes, that George Washington. If you want to learn more about Glenn's challenge check out Being George Washington. Glenn has a free monthly tracker you can download and keep track of your progress. Plus, he has baseline items that you can work on to help you achieve your goals. Pretty nifty.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Diligence in Research

When I wrote the synopsis and outline for my new romantic suspense due to come out in June, I first thought of what peril I could throw my characters in, how they would react to it, and where I could set parts of the story. But I didn't realize in making an exciting and adventurous novel that I would have to do a TON of research.

Holy cow! I've done research for all of my books, but this one was intensive. I had to research

flying planes,

boats that are ocean worthy,

and Alaska.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg. I had to research the ins and outs of border crossings, Native Alaskan tribes, and local law enforcement. I could keep going, but I think you get my drift. This novel was research intensive.

A writer needs to be diligent in doing research and seeking out the best available information that will strengthen your novel. Reliable sources are a must and there are several ways you can get them.

Internet . . .
The Internet is an author's best friend when researching key elements in a novel. When using the Internet, I try to get at least two reliable sources for whatever I'm researching. And here's a handy tip: always cut and paste your information into a Word document (or whatever word processor you use) with the url. This is key. That url will be your best friend if you ever have to back up what you've written.

Library . . . 
There have been times when I've had over fifty books checked out as I'm writing a novel. I remember when I wrote a book that took place in Rome 1 A.D. I constantly checked out one book for over two years. It was a pain, but I couldn't afford to buy such a book and it was a gold mine of information. I had to diligently mark my calendar when the book was due and even then sometimes I'd forget and have to pay a fine, but that library book strengthened the novel with rich detail I couldn't find anywhere else.

People . . .
Even with all the reading I'd done on piloting, boating and Alaska, some of my best research came from actually talking with a pilot, a boat enthusiast, and someone who actually lived in Alaska. They were able to give me human touches that I just couldn't get from books or the Internet. They were able to tell me what real people do, not just what is in textbooks.

Diligence in research can really payoff because it makes your book real.

How about you? What are some of the sources you use that helps you with research? 


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Reading Diligence

Diligence is something we're working hard to develop this month. Notice I wrote "we're" not "I'm." I hope we're in this together.

Last week I told you about leaving my purse in Park City, and that I was going to be more diligent about keeping track of it. So to report on how I'm doing . . . I'm always checking where my purse is, and even during the movies Friday night, I kept the strap wrapped around my knee. They say if you do something for a month it becomes a habit. Keeping track of my purse should be a given, but one slip can be disaster. Nothing like fear to make me diligent in this regard. How about you? Did you have a good week of working on diligence? I'm rooting for you.

Let's add another layer to our goal of working on diligence.

How about flexing the "diligent" muscle in reading more books and finishing them? I have a ton of books that I've read part of and I plan to read the rest of it . . . some day. Well, some day is now. If I like a book I'm going to push to finish it. It's another matter if you can't stand the book. There's no sense in being miserable. Put it aside and find one that you do like. Then set the goal to have it read by a certain time.

I know reading books should be a no-brainer for a writer, but I tend to read a lot of fiction, and I want to read more non-fiction to make my reading more balanced. Some of my non-fiction reading may be part of researching my next book, but that still counts. So my goal this year is to read at least one non-fiction book per month. That means I need to read 12 non-fiction books this year. I may be biting off waaaay to much, but I hope not. How about you? Do you read non-fiction?

To prove I'm working on my goal let me tell you about a book I just finished. I was given Killing Lincoln for Christmas.

It's quite an amazing book that gives details of the ending of the Civil War (Did you know that Colonial Custer fought for the Union Army and helped end the war?), details of what Lincoln did leading up to his death (Did you know Lincoln told several people he had a dream that he would be assassinated?), and also details of what John Wilkes Booth thought and did prior to killing Lincoln (Did you know that Booth and Robert Lincoln, the President's son, dated the same woman, Lucy Hale?). I found the book fascinating and very informative with tidbits I've never heard before.

Killing Lincoln was written by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard. They make a wonderful team because the book was gripping. The hooks at the end of each chapter made it difficult to set down.

If all the non-fiction books I want to read are as full of information and well written as this one my goal will be a snap.

What books do you plan to diligently read this year? You can list fiction as well. My shelf of TBR fiction is very full, and I can't seem to stop from adding to it.

(I was given Killing Lincoln as a gift and have no vested interest in it's success. I told you about it because I enjoyed it.)


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fit Writing into Your Daily Schedule

Do you have a daily schedule?  Do you get up, exercise, shower, eat breakfast, and then go to work? It's important if you're a writer to include in your schedule time to write. To some that might sound silly because, of course, serious writers set time aside to write every day, but you might be surprised by how many would-be writers let everything else come first in their lives.

It's true. And sometimes things in life demand attention over your writing, like paying attention to your children, earning a living, or cooking dinner.

But like the old saying "there's always room for Jell-O" you need to start thinking "there's always time to write" because if you don't set the time aside pretty soon days will turn to weeks which will turn to months and then years where you haven't had time to write.

I've been caught in that trap myself. It's easy to get comfortable there and want to stay, but if you do you're never going to finish your book, you're never going to send that book out in the publishing world, and you're never going to see that wonderful book in print.

Scheduling time to write is something you need to do for yourself if you're going to see your dreams come true. Be diligent and set writing as a goal.

Here's a few suggestions you might try to help you fit writing into your daily schedule.

Keep a notepad or laptop handy.
    Maybe you'll be inspired while cooking dinner and if your laptop is on the counter all you have to do is go over and type out your thoughts while you're waiting for water to boil. You'll be amazed how much you can write in just a few minutes. Keep a little tablet in your purse or hip pocket so when you're running kids to karate class you can write down things you see and experience. You never know when you might need to add something to a scene or character and the notes that you've taken will come in handy.

    Invest in a recorder.
      I had a friend who kept a recorder in her car and she would dictate parts of her story on her drive to work. She was able to write two books that way and both books were published.

      Take pictures.
        You've heard the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words," well maybe not a thousand, but a picture can help you remember something that you want to write about. Taking pictures while on vacation or being with your children can help you remember details that you can use in your work. Even great artists use pictures to paint portraits, so why not writers?

        These are just a few suggestions that might help you become more diligent in adding writing to your daily schedule. What are some things you have done to keep writing as your goal?


        Tuesday, January 10, 2012

        New Year, New Goals, and Diligence

        Because of my book deadline last week I missed all the blog posts about New Year resolutions/goals/dreams on the other blogs for 2012.

        But that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking of you or my blog and what I could do to make 2012 more engaging and productive.

        Every New Year I feel as though I've been given a "do-over" and can start fresh.

        There's so much I want to do:

        read more books,

        write more books,

        and think up more stories.

        But I also want to have more focus and direction in my personal life. I want to go beyond the "lose weight" goal this year. I want to do things that will help me become a better person. And I thought why not include you on my quest.

        Soooo this year I'd like to try something on my blog. I thought I might devote each month to a theme that would help us "be all that we can be" not only in our personal lives but with our writing as well. Toward the end of 2011 I started posting on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'm still going to do that, but I'm going to focus both postings on a theme for the month. Tuesdays are still going to be up close and personal but I'm going to also write about concerns I have or goals I'm trying to achieve in regards to the theme. Thursdays are still about writing, or a book I've read, but focused on the theme.

        We're already a week into January. Yikes!

        The theme for January will be "Diligence".

        To kick this off, let me tell you something that happened to me during the Christmas holiday . . .

        Every year after Christmas, Hubby and I usually drive up to Park City and spend the day.

        This year our daughter went with us. It's nice to get out of the city and walk around in the crisp mountain air. We had lunch and then drove home. Later that night as Hubby and I were getting in bed the phone rang. Hubby answered and was quiet for a while. I was thinking someone in the family had an accident or something. Pretty soon, Hubby put his hand over the phone's mouthpiece and said that it was the manager of the Wendy's in Park City where we'd had lunch. He was wondering if I'd lost my purse.

        My purse?!

        I leaped out of bed and searched the house. I couldn't find it. When we'd stopped for lunch, I remembered putting the strap of my purse on the back of my chair. I don't usually do that because I don't want someone slipping it off without my notice, but since my back was to the wall, I had done it. I didn't miss my purse because I had my cell phone in my coat pocket.

        Needless to say after Hubby hung up the phone, we got dressed, jumped in the car, and drove back up the mountain to Park City to get my purse. On the way I was plagued with thoughts of having to close our credit card and bank accounts along with having to get a new driver's license. I was right on the edge of freaking out, but still holding it together. (I hate it when that happens.) We arrived at Wendy's about 1:00 a.m.. When the manager gave me my purse, I was relieved to find everything was still there. NOTHING had been taken. He told me that as soon as they had found the purse, he'd put it in his safe.

        I'm so grateful to the manager at Wendy's and his thoughtfulness. Three cheers for Wendy's!!! You'd better believe I'm a loyal customer from now on.

        I'm bound and determined to be more diligent in keeping track of my purse.

        Diligence in the dictionary says: persevering application: assiduity, speed, haste, the attention and care legally expected or required of a person.

        Are you like me and need to work on diligence? There are so many areas in life where becoming more diligent can help us.

        Hey, and might I add, if you're going out to eat, you might want to check out your friendly, neighborhood Wendy's. :)


        Sunday, January 8, 2012

        I'll Be Back . . .

        See this well-organized desk?
        It's not mine.
        Mine has been piled with books and research. See I had a book deadline at the end of last week so I've devoted every spare minute finishing my next book.

        The book is done and off to my editor, so now I'm jumping for joy.

        I'll be back on Tuesday and Thursday with my regularly scheduled blog posts.



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