Sunday, November 15, 2015

The 6 Biggest Revision Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

1. Images – Nonfiction books often include graphics and images, so make sure they are greater than 300 PPI. Check your publisher’s guidelines to be sure.

2.      Formatting – Issues such as hard returns can cause a tremendous amount of work for your publisher. If the problems continue, they might not be so willing to work with you.

3.      Overused adverbs – These are easily replaced with stronger words. I like to use the search and find feature for the letters “ly,” which locates adverbs instantly.

4.      Pet words – Every writers has pet words, very often a sign of culture or location, these can also be located using the search and find feature.

5.      Lack of Deep POV – The days of saying, “He was sad,” are over. Deep POV is the new industry standard. Think about how an emotion can be expressed physically. If your character slumps his shoulders, readers will know he’s sad. Show it, don’t tell it.

6.      Poor grammar – Creativity vs. Craft. Strong on creativity but weak on craft? Never fear. There is a wonderful website where you can copy and paste your writing, and it will check all the grammar for you…..and tell you how to correct it! Check out

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Next 6 Things You Should Do with a Writing Partner

Having a writing partner means more than sitting in the same room together and writing. It means more than sharing completed pages for critiquing purposes. I’ve put together a list of the next 6 things you start doing with your writing partner.

1.      Start a brag board for your writing partner. Be the cheerleader you want to have.

2.      Challenge your writing partner. Do you know why office workers are so effective and efficient? They have co-workers to socialize with and to encourage each other. There’s also a certain level of healthy competition between co-workers. Be the coach you want to have.

3.      Start a list of ideas for your partner to comment on or research, and your partner will do the same for you. This can include anything from an opinion on a character name to thoughts on plot twist or even major changes. Be the advocate you want to have.

4.      Brainstorm your next books. Work together as you go through the brainstorming and plotting processes on your respective books. Be the boss you want to have.

5.      Share your goals and timelines. Keep each other on track and motivated as you achieve your goals. Be the change you want to see.

6.      Send a daily motivator to your writing partner. This could be in the form of a picture, quote, scripture, or your own sweet words. Be the friend you want to have.

Friday, November 13, 2015

My Life, My Writing, My Career: How Praying for Direction Helped Me Succeed

 When my oldest daughter was a baby, I found myself unemployed and looking for work. My work history was in the banking industry as a retail teller, but with a baby, the retail hours weren’t a good fit anymore. While I was in college, working evenings and weekends worked out perfectly. I was in a new stage of life and desiring a career that aligned with motherhood. I envisioned a lobby position at a regular bank with the stereotypical “banker’s hours.”

Of course, EVERYONE wants those hours…

But I had faith. As I was offered one retail or motor bank position after another, I stood firm on the belief that God would provide. One day, He did! He blessed me with an office manager position at a brokerage firm. No weekends, holidays, and I was off by 5pm. It gets even better! The office was located less than 2 miles from my home and the daycare. And it gets even BETTER!! The small brokerage firm was a quiet, relatively slow-paced place (especially after the market closed at 3pm), which left me with oodles of time to go back to college and finish getting my teaching certification. And write. I think I wrote 2 or 3 books in the years I worked there.

I stepped out on faith again once I finished my teaching certification. I targeted a particular school, a small, country school with a family-type environment. I had driven past that school every day for a couple of years before moving from a previous home. I remember thinking then how lovely it would be to teach there. And God provided. My first year as an elementary school teacher was spent in a Pre-K classroom with my own daughter in my class. The next year, I moved up to Kindergarten. In all, I spent 7 glorious years at that elementary, the last of which I had the pleasure of teaching my youngest daughter.

Then I spent two stressful years in a school I didn’t pray for. I learned my lesson and stepped out on faith once again, telling my husband that I’d go to work at a fast food restaurant before going back, so get ready if end up jobless. Then I started praying and that was that.
I’m sublimely happy teaching 3rd grade at the sweetest, little country school there ever was. Many people would love to teach at the school, so the fact that I got the job was a miracle straight from God. I believe with all my heart that God put me where I am today. Divine intervention…

God is so very wise and provides exactly what we need.

Proverbs 2:6, “For the LORD gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

He will gladly share that wisdom with you.

James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
I will end this post with a prayer for you in your career:

Dear Lord,
Bless those reading this. You have a career plan for them, a vision for the future that leads to success. Whatever job assignment they receive, may they recognize and remember it comes from You. Help them prioritize and execute their duties, so that they might glorify your kingdom in all that they do. Show them that any trials they encounter are really treasures from You to teach them. And when they make mistakes or fall short of expectations, may they cry out to You and ask for help. You are their partner and their strength. May they bear fruit in their lives and in their work. May they find comfort in You when pressure rises. Help them persevere and know that You will provide. Your word is good. Most importantly, Lord, let them be a witness wherever they go. In Your precious son’s name, I pray.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

3 Amazing Writing Hacks for Improvement



Copy and paste your prose into the program. Not only will it show you what needs to be corrected, but it will show you how to fix it. I use the free membership, but they offer a more comprehensive version for a fee.

2.      Charts, posters, and checklists, oh my!

If you find yourself referencing the same materials over and over again, or looking up the same information repeatedly, then setting up an efficient system will help you out tremendously. Save yourself the time of searching and jumping from here to there.

3.      FREE Writing Course

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Take Time for Writing with These Top 3 Tips

1.       Start using the Pomodoro Technique.
It’s pretty simple, write for 25 minutes and get a short 5 minute break. Every 4th pomodoro, you get a longer break. While there is no app for android users, I totally recommend In fact, I’m using the pomodoro technique to write this blog post and many others today.  Here’s what it looks like in action:

25 minute writing session
5 minutes to wipe down and freshen up bathroom 1
25 minute writing session
5 minutes to strip the bed, start a load of laundry, dust of surfaces, and sweep master bedroom
25 minute writing session
5 minutes to sweep hallway and gather all dirty laundry from around the house
25 minute writing session
5 minutes to change out laundry, wipe down and freshen up bathroom 2
25 minute writing session
5 minutes to load the dishwasher and wipe counters in kitchen
25 minute writing session
5 minutes to sweep kitchen and dining room floors and straighten up
25 minute writing session
5 minutes to change out laundry and fold and organize

I could keep going, but you get the idea. You could substitute house cleaning for any activities: social media, exercise, cooking, research, or reading. For me, I need the motivation to clean house.

2.      Create a schedule and stick to it

You know all those things that keep you from writing? Schedule them, too. You wouldn’t believe how much time is wasted just by not having a plan in place. It’s helpful to lay out all your obligations in a visual manner. Work, friends, family, school, sports, training, meetings – you gotta do it! I understand. Put it on the calendar in blocks of time, not just days. Then you can see what hours you have free each day. Schedule writing in those slots. Combine those time slots with the Pomodoro technique, and you will be able to accomplish a lot.

3.      Become a master of multitasking

Technology or no technology, start looking at each of your obligations as a two-sided coin. While you may not be able to write while you work or in meetings, there are most likely plenty of activities where you could be multitasking. I recently presented at the annual NETWO (Northeast Texas Writers Organization) conference and talked with another presenter on blogging and social media – Renee Groeskreutz. She gave me a pep talk on multitasking. While I’m at sporting events, I could be sending out tweets every 15 minutes. Driving to work, I could brainstorm and jot down notes each time I stop. During lunch, I could Pomodoro a blog post or outline a chapter in fiction WIP. While watching tv at night, I could be researching blog posts or promoting a book or product. Sitting in doctor’s offices, waiting in line at the grocery store, a few minutes here and there can make a huge difference. The trick is having a plan in place. In the time it takes you to think of something you could be doing, your time may be up. Go ahead right now and examine all your obligations. Make notes of possible writing tasks you could be doing and keep that list handy until it becomes second nature.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Knowing These 3 Meditation Secrets Will Make Your Writing Sessions Amazing

Meditation is a new technique for me. It started as a way to decompress and destress, but the benefits surpassed my expectations and I knew it would work for my writing, too.

1.      It all started with a simple app on my Android phone: Take a Break. The app guided me through a meditation session that provided clarity and quieted my mind. What I wasn’t expecting was the creativity that flowed afterward. The 7 minute work break feature was perfect at the beginning of each writing session.

2.      Later, I added a different form of meditation – active meditation. While passive meditation focuses on clearing the mind, deep breathing, and relaxing the muscles, active meditation is the process of giving your mind over to a task in a mindful manner. Sorry pantsers, sitting down for a free-for-all writing session does not qualify. In fact, many of the tasks don’t involve working on your current WIP at all. My writers group invited a handwriting specialist to speak, and I was introduced to the concept of graphotherapy. I bought the book “Change Your Handwriting, Change Your Life” by Vimala Rodgers and embarked on daily cursive handwriting sessions to change the wa my mind thinks.

3.      Finally, I added a third form of meditation – Bible journaling. Even though I’m creative, painting and drawing are not natural talents I possess. However, I’ve always enjoyed both activities. I started a board on Pinterest, got a special journaling Bible, and set to work.

I used to think meditation involved a yoga mat, water sounds, and a lot of humming. That has all changed. Let’s look at the dictionary definition of the word meditation:
Meditation (noun) – contemplation, thought, thinking, musing, pondering, consideration, reflection, concentration

When you examine the meaning of the word meditation, you can see that it involves controlling the mind to a task in a mindful way. To break that down: you clear the mind, eliminate distraction, and focus the mind on a certain task.

As a Christian, my meditation sessions include time with the Lord. You may want to substitute this part with another creative activity.

Start out with a short session on breathing and relaxation, follow that with time for reflection or fellowship with God, and end with handwriting practice to transform your mind. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Refining Your Writing Talent Doesn’t Have to be Hard. Read These 4 Tips

1.      Write what you know

Readers have a sixth sense to sniff out phonies who don’t really know what they’re talking about. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, the more you know about your genre and topic, the better.

2.      Value your voice

When you really think about writing…’s all been said before. The most successful writers are ones who can say it again in a unique way. My husband watches The Voice, and I’ve learned that it’s not the best singers who win but the most original voices. The same is true for writing. Don’t be afraid to let your voice shine through.

3.      Never stop learning

There are endless online courses (many FREE) you can take to improve your writing. Let’s face it, the competition is fierce….and editors, agents, etc. want skilled writers who submit nearly flawless manuscripts.

4.      Get visual

Charts, reference pages, calendars, bulletin boards, timelines, goal sheets, spreadsheets, hanging files, and a good old-fashioned tickler file. These are a handful of the many ways to make your thinking visible and keep yourself on track and motivated.