Thursday, August 30, 2012

Top 10 Fantastic Writer Resources

Writing Resources
Welcome to Writers’ Corner. If you’re new to this weekly feature, please feel free to browse the archives for writing topics I’ve already covered. 
Regular followers know I promote research and education to be an effective writer. I’m not referring to college degrees. As a contemporary writer trying to break into Christian publishing, it’s imperative to be educated in the current market. This includes knowing current acceptable grammar usage, how to write queries, and subject trends. Over the past several months, I’ve shared various books and websites useful in developing writing skills, network, and platform. So you will recognize some of my Top 10 from other posts. I thought it might be helpful to have them all in one place. 
Disclaimer: I’m not guaranteeing your success if you purchase any products listed below. Only you can decide what’s best for your career, including expending financial resources for services offered on any website. 
Top 10
The Write Conversation Are query letters confusing? Difficult? Make you want to pull your hair out or throw something against a wall? You’re not alone. Most published writers have been in your shoes. Here’s a great article (and writer’s website) written by Edie Melson, editor and writer with hundreds of articles and books to her credit.  
Characteristics Of A Hero Most fiction storylines involve a hero and/or heroine. They should possess characteristics like bravery and courage but also quiet characteristics like humility and selflessness.
Open Submissions List of 200+ Christian magazines and book publishers with open submissions. 
Editorial Freelancers Association Are you considering hiring an editor or ghostwriter to assist you in a project? This is a great website to aid your research.
American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) I can't begin to list all the resources available by signing up for a membership. First year is $65, and it drops to $45 for subsequent years. Members have access to critique groups, networking, contests, conferences, a bi-monthly magazine, and more. This is one resource I’ve utilized that has paid huge dividends in my writing career. 
Story Sensei Acclaimed Christian writer Camy Tang’s website offers an extensive list of articles on every writing subject imaginable. She also offers an array of paid services including worksheets and coaching.
Self-Editing For Fiction Writers: How To Edit Yourself Into Print If you can only afford a couple of writing books, this should be at the top of your list. Many fundamental writing errors can be eliminated by utilizing the concepts outlined in this book.  
Writer's Digest This is the first writing resource I used, even before I had Internet! It is chocked-full of writing market information, current trends, and writing lessons for all genres. In addition, if you can’t afford $20 for a yearly magazine subscription, the website archives is filled with educational articles.
2013 Writer's Market Hot off the presses with the latest writing market information available! It’s worth the investment because you can utilize it several years by going to the website for each listing and checking their updated writer’s guidelines. In addition to current writing markets are contest listings. Contests are a great way to get feedback and get your work noticed.

The Christian Writer's Market Guide 2012 Like the regular Writer’s Market above, you can utilize this information for a few years by going to the websites for the individual listings to find current submission guidelines.
Do you have a favorite writing resource that’s not on this list? I’d love to hear about it.
God bless,
 © Laura Hodges Poole

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Savior, Like A Shepherd Lead Us

Sunset in the Carolinas
Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus! Thou has bought us, thine we are. (from hymn "Savior, Like A Shepherd Lead Us")

The sun is setting here in the beautiful upstate of South Carolina as I'm writing our weekly prayer post. The sky is a palette of colors: Pink wisps blend with the fading crimson and brush across the pale blue and white cloud-laced sky. During this peaceful time, hymns often flow through my mind. Have you ever thought of hymns as prayers? 
The song running through my mind this evening encompasses petition and praise and recognizes Jesus’ sovereignty in our lives:
Savior, like a shepherd lead us,
much we need thy tender care;
in thy pleasant pastures feed us,
for our use thy folds prepare.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus!
Thou hast bought us, thine we are. 
Jesus bought us with His blood. We are His! What a powerful thought. We have the assurance He’ll lead us and provide for our needs. 
If you’re feeling discouraged today and have a copy of a hymnal, flip through it and read (or sing) a hymn aloud. The cathartic moments of worship will lead you to praising the God who is Holy and worthy, despite the storm you’re traveling through. 
And the neat thing is God wired us in such a way that when we hear or sing a song, it plays over and over in our minds, sometimes all day. What an incredible way to worship Him and be reassured of His provisions!
If you have a prayer need, I’d love to hear from you. Share your request in the comments section or email me confidentially. Please take a moment to pray for others’ requests while you’re here. So many people are suffering with diseases, housing, employment, and mental health issues. 
Our prayer list for today includes several battling cancer. Please pray for comfort, healing, and strength. While you’re at it, pray for their families, as well.
·       Courtney, young mother with cancerous brain tumor
·       Emily, 12-year-old with bone cancer. Her body has responded well to the initial phase of treatment.  She still has a long road ahead.
·       Sally, who continues a 12-year battle against breast cancer
·       Lori, my cousin’s wife, with metastatic cancer
·       TC’s father-in-law, not doing well
·       Barbara Stack, my nephew’s mother, has been diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. Pray for wisdom for her and her doctors as they make treatment decisions.
Other requests:
·       Prayers go out to those in the path of Hurricane Isaac.
·       Tony is battling depression after the death of his father and other stressors this year.
·       Also, lift up our military returning home injured and facing challenges. One soldier in particular, Sgt. Jesse McCart, is rehabbing in a Texas hospital but will be released to outpatient status within the next couple of weeks. His updates, photos, and contact info are listed on a separate page above. Mail and encouragement is so important to our servicemen and women who are rehabbing. Other soldiers in the same hospital are listed who could use encouragement, as well. Pre-paid stamped postcards obtained at the post office are a great way to do this regularly.
Sing to the LORD, praise his name;
Proclaim his salvation day after day,
Declare his glory among the nations,
His marvelous deeds among all peoples.
For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise.
Psalm 96:2-4a
Our worship song is "How Great Thou Art!" sung by Carrie Underwood with Vince Gill. 

God bless,
 © Laura Hodges Poole

Thursday, August 23, 2012

How To Create Heroes and Villains

When we think of a hero or villain, stereotypical images may arise in our minds. After all, we’re surrounded by media images of firefighters, soldiers, Superman, Batman, and others who model heroic greatness. Similarly, serial killers, mass murderers, and terrorists round out the picture for villains.
Although the above examples are fitting, many people with heroic and villainous qualities reside around us. Literature is no exception. Successful stories mirror real life. In believable plots, characters possess some of both personas. To explore this, let's dig deeper into the qualities of heroes and villains. 
What is a Hero? describes a hero as “a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities,” as well as “the principal male character in a story, play, film, etc.”
In addition to the main character being brave and noble, perhaps he will also be selfless and display his courage in a humble way. 
Click here for a detailed list of hero characteristics. 
As I alluded to, believable heroes also have flaws. No one is perfect, even in a fictitious world. A hero probably won't possess all ten qualities on the above list. For example, he could be impatient, which could lead to compromise and sidetracks his goals, at least temporarily. Despite a heroic personality, characters must have opportunity to grow from the first page to the last.  
What is a Villain? describes a villain as “a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel,” as well as “a character in a play, novel, or the like, who constitutes an important evil agency in the plot.”
As with heroes, villains are not entirely one character trait. In fact, to keep the reader guessing and perhaps make the plot more intricate, especially in suspense where the villain’s identity may not be revealed, an admirable quality the villain possesses will deepen the plot. 
During an interview, Ann Rule, author of “The Stranger Beside Me,” which retells her relationship with serial killer Ted Bundy, illustrates this beautifully. She discussed the difficulty of reconciling the Ted she knew—her co-worker on a suicide crisis hotline, kind, considerate, always available with a shoulder to lean on—with the Ted who brutally murdered women. His good qualities enabled him to fly under the radar of law enforcement and challenged the prosecution during trial. 
So whether you’re creating heroes or villains, believability is the most important quality a character can possess. 
Now, it’s your turn. Who is your favorite hero or villain in literature and why?
© Laura Hodges Poole

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Facing Death

“Here is the test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: if you're alive, it isn't.” Richard Bach, author
We’re often confronted with the reality that life is short for some folks. God’s plans are not ordered by our human thoughts, and so, while early death is a reality, it remains a mystery to humans.

The Psalmist said, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Ps. 139:16. So whether or not you embrace Richard Bach’s philosophy, we have to trust God’s plan for our life. 
No one knows this better than my friend, guest blogger, and cancer survivor Venita McCart. Today, she shares the moment when she confronted the reality of death.
Thoughts We Remember To Forget
By Venita McCart
“He has set eternity in the hearts of men.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT
Here’s the thought: I want to live forever. Here’s the other thought: That’s not going to happen. Here’s the other-other thought…
I’m a writer; a thought-keeper. I journal, make lists, scribble on sticky notes, and paper scraps. I shall not forget anything profound. (Or more likely, slightly sensible.) I may need these thoughts for an article, devotion, or best seller. Okay, so I’m an optimist, too.
Do I want all my thoughts? No. When I changed doctors recently the little girl in scrubs said, “Be sure to list your medical history on these forms, especially details about your cancer.” I would rather just forget all the cancer stuff and I never really want to write it down. But I must.
I would rather forget other things too, like death. I once was an expert at forgetting it. Then the diagnosis came and death was in my face, but I ached so to live. My conflict within brought other thoughts I didn’t want: Aren’t you supposed to be a Christian? Shouldn’t you be okay with this? I am a Christian. But I had never been a dying Christian before. I was afraid. 
I called out to God, the best prayer ever: “Help me!”
Then I remembered Jesus spent much time and many tears in a garden praying, facing death he knew was coming. His soul was crushed with grief, like mine. He pleaded for life, like me. He anguished for release, like I did.
In prayer, with eternity in his heart, He found peace about dying…and the keys to peace for me. Jesus Christ went to the dreaded cross to give me the eternal life I crave.
Here’s the thought: I want to live forever. Here’s the other thought: That’s not going to happen. Here’s the other-other thought: Oh, yes it is!
Jesus knows your dilemma. If you are struggling with the fear of death because of cancer, remember the Creator and Saver of your eternity. Ask Him for His thoughts, for they are eternal, and they are for you. If you call, He will answer.

Venita McCart and the group she founded, Faith Force Cancer Support Ministries, has ministered to hundreds of patients since 2005 through group meetings, personal contacts, writing, and speaking. She is currently working on materials to comfort and encourage cancer patients, their loved ones, and to help others create support ministries. She and her husband live in central Illinois. Venita may be reached at

If you have a prayer need, please share in the comments section or email me with confidential requests. Would you also take a moment to pray for other requests? 
Our prayer list for today includes several battling cancer. Please pray for comfort, healing, and strength. While you’re at it, pray for their families, as well.
·       Courtney, young mother with brain tumor
·       Emily, 12-year-old with bone cancer. Her body has responded well to the initial phase of treatment.  She still has a long road ahead.
·       Sally, who continues a 12-year battle against breast cancer
·       Lori, my cousin’s wife, with metastatic cancer
·       TC’s father-in-law, not doing well
Please lift up Karen Redding’s husband and children as they are grieving her death.
U.S. soldier Jesse McCart whose information is on a separate page above. Please visit that page for updates including contact info for him and other GIs recovering and rehabbing in the same military hospital in Texas. It would mean a great deal to these servicemen to receive encouragement. Pre-stamped postcards from the post office are a great method to do so on a regular basis.
Jesse McCart and men from his unit

I selected our worship song today as a tribute to our armed forces who have paid the ultimate sacrifice so we may enjoy the freedoms we have. "Finally Home," by MercyMe.
 God bless,

© Laura Hodges Poole

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Get On With The Show

“You fail only if you stop writing.” Ray Bradbury

One challenge I faced as a new writer was fleshing out my characters so they weren’t one dimensional. I’ve blogged previously about how to create characters 
Aside from poorly developed physical, emotional, or spiritual traits, a sluggish plot is another reason characters fall flat. The story might open with a bang then quickly fizzle into everyday routine. This is understandable since routine depicts real life. After all, it would be weird if characters didn’t do some mundane activities like eat, drink, and walk. But remember, you’re creating a world your reader wants to escape to, not from.

Instead of being like the stick man on the left carrying boxes, characters should be engrossed in activities that give the reader insight into their goals, conflicts, and relationships.

Write each scene and chapter to ensure characters strive toward their goals while conflict mounts. Through this, your characters will shine, and the reader will learn their inner workings, fall in love with them, and cheer them on. 
Whether you’re a seat-of-the-pants writer “pantser” or a plotter, it’s a good idea to construct character sketches before starting the manuscript. This will spur your creativity into figuring out what situations characters might get involved in to give natural pace to the plot. Otherwise, your characters are vulnerable to performing everyday tasks just like we do, when you’d rather show their vulnerability.

Now, I want to hear from you. Look at the photo on the right. Tell me something about one of the characters or what could be happening in the plot at this moment, if they were part of your book.
© Laura Hodges Poole

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Just A Closer Walk With Thee

Daily walking close to Thee
“I am weak, but Thou art strong; Jesus, keep me from all wrong; I’ll be satisfied as long; As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.”
Recognize the words to this old hymn? I love hymns because of their encouragement and theology.
I’m not a person who freely shares my struggles with others. Since I’ve started this weekly prayer post, a few followers have emailed me and asked, “How can I pray for you?” I appreciate this and those who silently pray because I feel it. I’m so humbled by the support. So perhaps you’ll indulge me for a few minutes while I share. 
I’ve never been what you’d consider athletic, though I try to stay physically active. I believe in taking responsibility for your own health as far as you’re able. Some people are blessed with better health than others, and this changes as we go through different seasons in life. 
For years I’ve dealt with sciatic nerve problems. Exercise helps, though finding the right balance can be a challenge, especially as I grow older. Sitting at a computer for long stretches doesn’t help and sometimes causes back and hip pain. I’m sure those of you who sit at a desk for long periods can relate. I’m fortunate to work from home, so I’m able to move around often, and this helps. 
However, within the last six months, the discomfort has started to disrupt my sleep, which in turn increases the problems during the day. So far it hasn’t slowed my productivity. I’ve learned to work around the unpleasant nature of the situation. 
Instead of going to the YMCA to work out, I’ve started walking in the mornings. After adjusting to the outdoor climate, especially in this South Carolina heat, I discovered something really neat. 
While the Y is bustling and noisy—outdoors it’s just God and me dwelling in nature! Genesis 3:8 describes God walking in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day. I find it remarkable that Eve chose to jeopardize this relationship. If only she’d taken God at His word instead of learning the hard way, but that’s a topic for another post. J
I return from my morning walk hot and sweaty, but also refreshed physically and spiritually. Since my change in exercise, finding a comfortable sleep position has improved, and I don’t wake up as hobbled in the mornings. 
Through this and other trials, I’ve learned to appreciate Paul’s testimony of his “thorn.”
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9a
I praise God for the pain that drove me into the comfort of His solitude each morning. I know He will sustain me through anything. 
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.
I’d love to hear your praise reports about how God has worked in your life to remedy a difficult situation or walk with you through it.
Please share your prayer requests in the comment section or email me confidentially. I’ve created a separate page above to give updates on the U.S. soldier we’ve been praying for, Sgt. Jesse McCart. As I get news and photos of his progress, I’ll share on that page. Take a moment to check out the photos and his status, as well as a mailing address for him and other GIs in the same hospital who could use encouragement during their long recoveries. 
We’ve been praying for Karen Redding who was in hospice care with leukemia. She passed away this week. Praise God she’s no longer in pain, but pray for her husband and children as they deal with their grief and loss. 
Remember these folks battling cancer:
Courtney, young mother with brain tumor
TC’s father-in-law
Emily, 12-year-old with bone cancer
Lori, my cousin’s wife with terminal cancer
Sally continues to fight a 12-year battle with breast cancer
Would you also lift up the folks who visit this blog—that they would be ministered to at their point of need? God knows what this is.
Are you seeking a closer walk with God? Or perhaps a revelation about where to go or what to do in your life? Take a moment to worship with Third Day’s “Revelation” before we go to the Lord in prayer. 

Thank you for your faithful prayer support.
God bless,
 © Laura Hodges Poole

Monday, August 13, 2012

Parkour, Anyone?

Beating summer doldrums
“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” Sam Keen, American author
For parents, the summer doldrums start setting in around the beginning of August. Kids complain they’re “bored” because there’s “nothing” to do. My son Josh, a high school senior this year, manages to stay fairly busy between his friends and firefighting activities. He’s helped a neighbor landscape to earn extra money and recently got a job at Bi-Lo. 
Still, inevitably, the dog days of summer can’t be escaped. Josh is fairly resourceful, but to my dismay, he discovered a new extreme sport called Parkour. The only way to describe it is a cross between gymnastics and skateboarding (without a skateboard). It’s propelling oneself from one obstacle to another. defines it as “the physical discipline of training to overcome any obstacle within one's path by adapting one's movements to the environment.” Clear as mud, right? Here’s a video demonstrating it:

(Disclaimer: Josh and I made a pact. No bridges, buildings, or vehicles involved in performing this sport.)

For several days, Josh had obstacles set up in the yard he hurdled, swung from, leapt against, or ran around. I have to admit, he got a pretty intense workout. As I worked at my computer one evening, I heard a loud crash against the side of the house. Images of various injuries raced through my mind. When I flung open the door and ran around the corner of the house, Josh stood gasping for breath, sweat pouring down his face, and grinning. 
“I’m okay, Mom.”
“You’re killing me, son, you know that?”
“I know. I’m sorry.” 
Then we laughed as he explained how he’d misjudged a particular obstacle and crashed into the house. Thankfully, kids’ extreme interests are usually short-lived. When he discovered Parkour isn’t an Olympic sport, he said, “Maybe I should take up BMX bike racing.” 
More gray hairs for me!
Meanwhile, I’ll return tomorrow with our weekly prayer post and discuss the changes I’ve had to make in my own personal exercise routine. Parkour’s not included, I assure you.
If you’re looking for a way to beat the summer doldrums or just enjoy the last lazy days of summer, consider reading one of the books I’ve reviewed listed under the “Reviews” tab above. Also listed are upcoming reviews. If you’ve written a book and would like me to review it, my contact info is above, as well. 
Join me tomorrow for “a closer walk with God.” 
© Laura Hodges Poole

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A New Normal

Sgt. Jesse McCart
“O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.” Psalm 30:2
Normally in this spot each week, I post Writers’ Corner—encouragement and tips for aspiring writers. We all have days where life doesn’t cooperate, and this was one of those days for me. God works everything for our good and His glory, so I felt led to set aside what I had started writing and instead share an update on the U.S. soldier we’ve been praying for.
In a span of a few seconds, Sgt. Jesse McCart’s life and that of his family changed forever. 
Jesse and two other U.S. soldiers stepped on an IED in Afghanistan on July 30, and were seriously injured. Jesse lost part of both legs. He arrived in the United States on a ventilator and in critical condition. He has made remarkable progress in the last week and a half. 
His family has graciously shared these photos of him.
According to the latest family update today, Jesse will be moved into a private room from ICU as soon as the room is ready. He slept last night the whole night which they rejoice for since he has had difficulty sleeping. Sleep is so important for his recovery. His pain is still an issue and the doctors are trying different medications to see what will be effective. He has continued physical therapy and is able to get in and out of a wheelchair. To quote his wife, “We definitely have a long road in front of us, but we have gotten a great start!”

We all face uncertainty in our lives, and none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Hug someone you love. Forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it. Ask God to help you love that person you feel is unlovable.
Thank you to all the prayer warriors who’ve joined in prayer for Jesse and his family. I will keep you posted as I get updates. If you have a prayer request, please leave it in the comment section or email me. My contact info is above. I’ve love to pray for your needs. 
God bless,
© Laura Hodges Poole

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What Is Your Legacy?

Life's Sunset
“I look back on my life like a good day's work, it was done and I am satisfied with it.” Grandma Moses (American folk artist)
If you were given paper and pen to write a final statement about your life before your death, what would you write? The Apostle Paul wrote this passage in the shadow of impending execution. 
“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8
Paul had committed egregious sins prior to becoming a Christian. Formerly a Jewish zealot who persecuted Christians, he was equally fervent in leading people to the Christ he knew intimately. He instructed the early Christians, not only in behavior but in their life’s purpose.
One might say this final recorded statement reflected Paul’s legacy. Yet nothing in his closing remarks mentions punishment for past sins. 
Because he’d been forgiven. And once we’re forgiven, the only direction to go is forward. Paul’s ministry was the best example we have of the Christian faith manifested through works—bringing action to his testimony.
So, back to the piece of paper in front of you—the one that will hold your legacy. Can you write that you’ve fought the good fight? Finished the race? Kept the faith? 
Very few Christians can measure up to Paul’s accomplishments, but do we earnestly try? Regardless of man’s assessment, when we stand before God, will we hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant?”
Our legacy before God and man is created by living a life worthy of being remembered. 
Father God, as we lift up the requests from many burdened hearts, we ask you to shine a light into our ministries, our lives, and our fellowship. Show us where we need more sacrificial living and dying to self. May your priorities be our priorities. Strengthen us for this service through your Son Jesus. 
Please access last week’s post for a list of prior requests. For a comprehensive update on Sgt. Jesse McCart since being severely injured in Afghanistan, click here. Add your prayer needs in the comments section below so others can pray for you, as well. If you have a confidential request, leave it anonymously or email me. My contact info is above. 
Please pray for healing, comfort, and strength for the people listed below:
·       Latest from U.S. soldier Sgt. Jesse’s McCart’s family: Prayers, prayers and prayers on top of prayers are being answered for Jesse. His ventilator is out. He’s eating regular food and started physical therapy. He was up today in what his wife Cassie refers to as a 'wheelchair bed' doing some of the work of getting into it himself, doing exercises on his own to keep his body in shape, and received his Purple Heart.
·       TC’s father-in-law is battling cancer and isn’t doing well. He has lost more weight and is in a great deal of pain.
·       Sally Manning from Lexington as she continues to fight a 12-year battle with breast cancer.
·       Karen Redding with leukemia in hospice care, not doing well.
As we bring our petitions and praise to God, join me in worship with Matthew West’s “My Own Little World.”

"Start breaking my heart for what breaks Yours
Give me open hands and open doors"
God bless,

© Laura Hodges Poole

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Update on Injured Soldier

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9(NIV)
For those of you who follow this blog, you’re familiar with my weekly prayer post. Last week, soldier Jesse McCart’s aunt requested prayer for him. Since a few of you have asked for updates and due to the length of updates, I decided to share the news I’ve received and not wait until Wednesday. This is a timeline as it transpired since last Monday paraphrased from his family updates.
July 30: U.S. soldier Jesse McCart, age 26, was severely wounded in Afghanistan. He lost both legs (amputation of right leg at knee and left leg below knee) and part of an arm. Stabilized in a base hospital in Afghanistan with plans to move him to Germany. He has a wife Cassie, twin babies, and a toddler.
August 3: Jesse is on his way stateside tonight! He is in the air right now. He is responsive and following commands. They are telling us his hearing and motor skills are good. Another injured soldier sent a message that he talked to Jesse on the plane: Jesse knows where he is and what is going on, but can't respond verbally because of ventilator, but blinks his answers. He can hear and see and follow commands.
August 5: Jesse arrived in Texas safely in the middle of the night, last night. Cassie, his wife, his mom, and dad all arrived there safely today and are with him. He is still on life support and is sedated but knows everyone. Smiled once today when his oldest niece told him he is still good-looking.
Two other G.I.'s were injured by the IED at the same time. We are asking for prayer for them also.
August 5: Jesse is OFF THE VENTILATOR, is talking, and knows what's going on—is even cutting up a little bit (like Jesse does).
Folks, God hears our prayers and cares about our needs. Please continue to pray for Jesse’s recovery, and his wife, children, and parents during this long, difficult healing process. Pray for strength, comfort, and wisdom for all involved, including the medical staff. I will share any more updates received on the regular weekly prayer post on Wednesday. 
Praise to our Father whose grace is sufficient to meet all our needs!
God bless,

Thursday, August 2, 2012

How To Develop Effective Writing Habits

“I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.” Ernest Hemingway 
Sounds like a good habit. In order to have a successful writing career, one must purposely develop habits to make this happen. In talking with aspiring writers, a common thread emerges in their comments as to why they don’t. 
Of these, two consistent obstacles derail their efforts for a writing career—and I’ve experienced these in my own life.
Ø  I can’t find the time to write.
Believe me, I feel your angst. I used to say this, too, until I realized it was a ridiculous lie I told myself for various reasons. Lack of confidence, lack of support, overcommitted to other things, working, and being a mother and wife. The list was endless. Some were legitimate excuses at times, but most of the time that’s exactly what they were—excuses.
Even for published writers, distractions like platform building, mentoring, or writer’s block can devour your time. This is when it’s most important to be deliberate in setting daily goals, whether it’s word count, blocking time, or finishing a chapter for your latest book manuscript. 
While platform building is vital for a writer’s success, how much time do you waste on social media? What begins as a way to connect with readers can also become a bad habit and hinder a writer’s discipline to accomplish goals. It becomes an excuse when we don’t feel like writing.
It usually goes something like this for me. My characters won’t cooperate or my mind is not clear on how to proceed, so I decide to check my Twitter account. After all, maybe my followers list needs tweaking. I have to keep an eye on that. Wonder what’s happening on Facebook? Maybe I should check that while I’m taking a break. It wouldn’t hurt to respond to a few emails, as well. 
The problem is when we’re playing on Twitter or Facebook, our characters are, too. Our readers aren’t ever going to discover if Lassie rescues Timmy from the well or Harry escapes the clutches of Lord Voldemort or whatever our characters are supposed to be doing, if we don’t get on with the writing. 
I guard against this during creative droughts by forcing myself to put words on the screen and create scenes and dialogue, not worrying about how it sounds or reads. Later, I re-read and tweak, and usually to my surprise, it’s not as awful as I first believed. But even if most of what I wrote gets cut or revised, the discipline of forcing words onto the page develops the habit. 
Becoming a successful writer takes consistent work. This only comes through diligence in time management.      
Ø  I don’t have my own space to be creative.
We used to have one computer in our home. Given the fact that I also run a medical transcription service, it seemed someone was always standing in line to use the computer. Kind of hard to be creative under those circumstances. J Still, I snatched a few minutes here and there to work on short stories and articles. I also went to the library where quiet space is plentiful. 
Consider this for a moment. Writing can be done away from the computer. Sometimes I do my best plotting when I’m exercising, taking a shower, or enjoying a long walk. 
During the time my family of four shared a computer, I also used a notebook to write down ideas or plot points. I’d craft opening paragraphs or queries for non-fiction articles. A designated “physical space” is not necessary to do this, as much as finding a place to consistently be alone and write.  
Now I write on a laptop at my kitchen table. From my vantage point, I can look through my sunroom windows to the outdoors. I’ve found this to be more creative than sitting at my desk in the office/guest room where I transcribe medical reports. The kitchen table is not an ideal situation for some families, but it works for us. 
I found another Stephen King video to share this week. J He and author of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Audrey Niffenegger, discuss the habits they’ve developed in regards to writing space and setting in order to be creative.

 Now, I want to hear from you. How do you find time and create space to write?
© Laura Hodges Poole