Categories
Marriage

I’m writing a marriage devotional!

My husband and I appreciate all the love and support we’ve received on our Marriage Monday posts. They will continue as long as we continue to have adventures to share!

I’m excited to announce that I’m working on a marriage devotional! Crazy how it happened. My novel is done (praying about publishing it – ANY advice is welcome!), and I was ready to enjoy the weekend on that Friday. Lenny and I pray every night before bed, so when he prayed that night, he prayed that I would finish my book over the weekend.

When he said, “Amen,” I said, “Lenny … I finished my book already.”

He said, “Oh.”

But when my head hit the pillow, God nudged me to work on another book, a book He had stirred in my heart on our honeymoon! Over the weekend, I took out my study Bible and started doing some research. The fun has already begun!

So, my marriage content energy will be spent on writing this new book, but as more exciting adventures happen on my writing journey, I will keep you in the loop.

Other than that news, we have nothing new to report. Even if we did, you know how we like to keep our lives private! We’ve been spending more time together and talking more. As we mature, we grow closer together, and that’s the way it should be.

Categories
Book Update

The “Fun” Part of Writing a Novel

When I went on the ReNEW writers retreat two weekends ago, I received some great feedback from friends that share my passion and can help me sharpen my vision. It was a pleasure to hear what everyone was working on, and the triumphs they’ve made this past year. Though, I wondered when it would be my turn to release my book and celebrate my accomplishments.

At lunch one day, I caught up with one of my friends from last year, who encouraged me to start my novel.

“How’s your book going?” she asked.

“It’s a train wreck,” I said.

“Oh, really? What’s wrong with it?”

I explained how I met with a literary agent and he gave me some good pointers, but I feel like my book is total trash.

“Okay, so, what’s wrong with it?”

I shrugged. “The setting doesn’t make sense.”

“So, basically the setting is your problem?”

With those words, it clicked. That was the only problem with my book! The characters were solid, the writing was legit, and the theme was evident. I just didn’t know where to put my little cherubs. What location, what time period, would serve them best, and help me get the message across?

Well, the literary agent I met with suggested Christian fantasy, because the island of Verdaria, where my characters are currently meeting, is a fictional country. I might have made it more complicated than it is. That’s a good story in and of itself. I wanted my main character to travel to Spain and found out some dark secrets from her past, but why does she have to leave Verdaria? Verdaria has some nasty secrets too! Tori can find out all she needs to know through this fantasy world, while encouraging the reader to explore a new land that has never been discovered by us in “reality.”

As you know, the temptation for me is to write a completely new book. I already have the idea for a new book, and I’m super excited about it, but I have to finish my current book first. My current book is not a train wreck. It’s not trash. I just have to be the master of my own world and mold a world for the theme to shine and the characters to thrive. Or not. Muahaha!

I told Lenny yesterday the plot for my new book. When he heard that the characters had the same name as my current manuscript, he stopped me mid-sentence. “What? You’re rewriting your book again? Stop it! It’s fine. Just finish it and make this book another one.”

My husband is an IT professional, not a writing professional, but God used his blatant honesty to open my eyes and see that I need to edit this thing! Did I mention that the literary agent I met with told me my book was good enough to be published? I don’t think that translates to “total trash.” That means I actually have a shot at having my book traditionally published! Hallelujah!

It is so much easier to write a whole new book than to fix the pieces of my current book. Freewriting is my favorite. I love telling stories, and stringing words together, even if they don’t make total sense. But editing is the fun part of writing. It’s using the mind that God has given me to figure out the best way to communicate a message, to use these words I love to bring out a compelling story, and to use my perseverance to grow my faith and increase my endurance. By self-editing, I have the privilege of reading my book before anyone else! It’s a free pre-release copy that I don’t have to order.

As I improve my self-editing ability, my writing ability will also improve. I’ll be making less mistakes as I learn what my common mistakes are. So, overall, self-editing is a win-win!


Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Categories
Book Update

The Soothing Pain of Rejection

This past weekend on the reNEW writer’s retreat, I had hoped to tell everyone that my novel was finished and it was in the hands of a literary agent. However, two weeks before the retreat, I read a book called Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell that made me reconsider my whole plot. After talking with some friends, I realized that the only change that really needs to take place is the setting, but I still had a bend in my pride when I had to tell a literary agent I met that I wasn’t ready to send it in yet.

I’ve submitted my book to six literary agents. I know that the Christian fiction market is not doing too well, but I have a passion to help people see a relatable character through fiction to help them overcome their anxiety, find their purpose in life, and walk in their identity with Christ. I actually have three novel ideas that each branch from these topics. However, each time I receive a rejection from a literary agent, I wonder if God’s plan for me is to write this novel, or if it’s just my own dream.

Each time I submitted my book to another literary agent through e-mail, I prayed that God would lead me to the right literary agent, and that even if it didn’t work out, that the agent would have just enough spare time to tell me why he/she did not accept my proposal. Literary agents are typically very busy, so to expect a response from an agent is a tall order. However, as a writer trying to publish her first book, I need all the advice I can get. Of the six times I submitted my book, I heard back from two. The first one that rejected my manuscript has a blog that I follow, which has helped me tremendously as a writer.

The second agent who rejected my manuscript decided to give me some advice, which I greatly appreciated. He told me that the Christian fiction market wasn’t doing too well, so a lot of agents are steering clear of that. He also gave me advice about how to make my book better, and he encouraged me to keep attending conferences. Finally, he told me to keep pressing on, and God will lead me where He wants me to go. I am incredibly honored that this man who has very little time to spare took the time out to impart wisdom to a woman beginning her humble journey as a writer. It even looks like I got a word of blessing from him!

I share my personally journey of writing a book because, when I am a bestselling author of something, I want to look back and remember where I started. I want to encourage writers who aren’t there yet to keep going. Rejection is not the end of your story. God has given you a voice; use it to glorify Him.

Success is not defined by the end product. You may look at a book and think, “Well anyone can write a book.” However, you don’t realize the blood, sweat, and tears that went into writing it. Not everyone can write a book. It takes vulnerability, dedication, and insight.

I never want to be so famous/busy that I forget about the people that I met along the way. My why is to encourage women and the stories that God has given them. I don’t care how much money I make or what places I’m able to travel to; I never want to get to a place where I ignore or automate any experience I have with a woman who is desperate to share her story with me. I want each and every person I encounter to feel encouraged and to feel loved. If I’m making millions of dollars and I live in a fancy home with beautiful flowers and I have a social media team writing my tweets for me, I’ve lost my why, and I’ve failed at my goal.

Rejection hurts, but it’s not the end of my story. Even as I was writing this blog post, I had to remind myself that the rejection was not of me, but of my book. And as my friend encouraged me last week, the book may be great, but it might not be marketable at the time. It’s literally in God’s hands.

I say to myself what I say to you if you are struggling to fulfill your dreams: Don’t give up!


Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

Categories
Books

“Plot & Structure”: A Game Changer and Life Saver

I have been working on my book for four years now, and it pains me to say that I have begun my FOURTH rewrite. A book by me will be published eventually, I promise. I’d rather have a well-polished book published in five years than a thrown-together book published in five months.

Every time I think I’m done with writing this novel, I find out new information that changes everything. For some reason, I can’t just make little changes here and there. If something is wrong with my book, the whole book needs to be changed.

James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure was what inspired this fourth round of edits. I’d love to show you all a time lapse of how my book has changed. It started as a bunch of random ideas in my journal, and then became edited random ideas from my journal typed into a Google Docs file, and then became edited random ideas that now had a plot in a Google Docs file, and is now finally (hopefully) a story put together by random ideas that now make sense because the book has, you guessed it, plot and structure.

I’ve learned through this book that I am not a structure type when it comes to writing. With everything else, I’m a type A personality, from being ten minutes early to everything, to organizing my work space every day. When I’m writing, all I want to do is start a timer and let the words fly from my brain to my fingers. I’ll often meet writers who have their characters’ back stories on post-it notes, stuck together on vision boards with strings connecting each character with each idea, setting, theme, symbol, and scene. That kind of planning makes my brain hurt, and makes writing (for me) incredibly painful.

I prefer to meet my characters midway through the book, after I’ve created a preliminary personality about them. After all, we don’t ever know everything about people when we first meet them, right? It takes time to grow a relationship and learn details about them as time progresses. That’s how my characters are formed, and that’s how I develop a story. You meet them the same time that I do, because I love to be surprised while I’m writing!

Although I learned a lot more than this simple point from the book, my one takeaway is that I can be both the outline person and the non-outline person. I can be the free spirit writer and the structured writer. A little bit of structure may help me save time on rewriting my book a million times (guilty as charged!) but a little bit of spontaneity can help the structured people be more creative in their writing.

During this fourth rewrite, I have brainstormed how I want my book to go through bullet points, rough ideas. Then, as those points come up in the story, I cross them off my list. Usually, the bullet point works for each part of the story, but if it doesn’t, I don’t use it! I’m free to create, while also free to provide structure for my book. It’s like I’m cruising on the highway, but there are guardrails on the road so I don’t drive off a cliff.

I believe this point is most helpful for those who are writing academic papers as well. You might not know where to start, but you can create an outline to give you a general idea of the direction of your paper. When you have that guideline, you can cruise through the rest of the paper; by that point, you’ll know enough about the rules to write freely!

By the time you read this, I’ll be at a writer’s conference, getting feedback for my book from wise people who have blazed the trail before me. Please keep me in your prayers as my beautiful work of art is being perfected piece by piece. I am confident that God is forming this story into one that will heal, transform, and bring hope to those who need it. Thank you for your continued support!