As a self-published author, I’m involved in every aspect of my books from start to finish. That includes not only the written word, but the marketing, cover design, layout, etc. It can be time-consuming but also very rewarding.
But writing isn’t my only passion. First and foremost, I am the pastor of a small church in rural Central Pennsylvania, and it is my joy to share the story of Jesus with anyone who will listen.
I’ve found over the years that these two (writing and pastoring) can often go together. Whether it’s the spoken word or the written word, God’s Word can and does go out the same. So, I have something special for you at the beginning of the new year and decade. You just need to grab it and go.
Because I so strongly believe in what I write, I’m making available to anyone a free copy of my book, Storming Heaven’s Gates, a book on Christian revival. This is not a fiction book, but I do believe it will be helpful to anyone that desires a closer walk with God. Just send me a name and delivery address and it’s on its way. Please don’t order from the Books and Resources page as this will charge you at checkout. Send the information to me at email@example.com. I do not share email addresses and your information is safe. You can also use this address to communicate with me about anything.
No doubt, there will be other freebies throughout the year, so stay tuned. I hope you’re enjoying the start of 2020. It will be what we make it. Until next week.
On this Monday morning, early in this new decade, I’ve been thinking about what holds me back – not just in writing although that’s certainly included, but in life in its entirety. Coming in at Number One is a lack of time. But wait a minute! We all have 24 hours each day to deal with, right? So the problem must not be time. It must be me. How do I spend the time that’s been graciously given to me?
I guess it comes down to organization. Is my time organized? As I always do, in the beginning of each year, I bought myself an organizer where I can track my work, set my goals, and it even has a section where I can write in rewards for myself once the tasks are completed.
That’s all fine, but there is one problem. I don’t have time to keep it up. Also as I do every year, I end up trashing the organizer because it’s never up to date. My intentioins are good, but my commitment, not so much. I suppose it goes against every rule. I suppose it makes even less sense, but I really do accomplish more without a plan.
Another thing about time – I’ve reached the point in my life when I can look back and realize I’ve spent 75% of my life. If my lfe were divided into seasons, I would definintely be in winter. More days are behind me than are ahead for me.
So the next question is, am I satisfied with the spring, summer, and fall of my life? It doesn’t really matter. The question that is important is, whay will I do with my winter?
Maybe the better question is what are you doing with your season of life? What is your worst enemy? Perhaps it is also time. Maybe haunting memories of a failed past? Could it be fear? A fear so strong it actually stops you from moving forward. Is laziness your enemy? It could likely be something else, but deep inside you know what it is. It’s time to bring it to the surface and deal with it. Add that to your Day-timer.
Well, I’ll leave it there for this week, and see you in seven. Have a great one!!!
There is only one January 6, 2020. This is it! Go for it!
Time continues to travel on. And so do we. The new question is up. Give me your thoughts. The featured excerpt is up as well. We’ll begin the year with a taste of Nikki Khan’s writing in her piece, Life Is Blessing – a short Story. She’ll give you much to think about.
Now, let’s move on. Ever have a problem getting your writing into gear? If not, you’re a rare breed. Most of us have, but did you know that neuroscience can aid you in your quest for words? Here are some things that might help.
Learn to make writing fun. Visualize the future.
Often, we think of writing as something we should do. Unfortunately, should can lead to negative feelings. Most likely, should will cause you to feel less like writing. By applying neuroscience we can retrain the brain to look forward to our time at the keyboard.
How does this work? Quickly make a list of as many positive things as you can that will take place when you’re done writing. Maybe consider these:
How will you feel when you see your book published or hold it your hands?
What opportunities might it open up for you?
Will you win prizes? Get a contract? Think BIG!
I’m told that envisioning future success releases dopamine into the brain that gives us a sense of happiness, thus we are more motivated.
Create a trigger to form new writing habits.
To develop good writing habits, we can use triggers to our advantage. Think about the things you do without thinking. Here are some examples and how to implement them.
When I get home from the school run, then I’ll do 30 minutes of writing.
When I have my first coffee of the day, then I’ll write 500 words of my article.
When I get home from work, then I’ll spend 45 mins on my book.
The neuroscience behind this – when you fuse together an action, you do regularly with an action that you want to do more of, you strengthen the neural pathways in your brain.
Break your writing into small steps
Have you ever failed at a new habit? Maybe a new fitness routine at the gym? Maybe a new study habit?
Why did you fail? You may be surprised to learn that fear can be at the center of failing. The new habit may be too ambitious or even too complicated. Such feelings can trigger the amygdala – the fear portion of the brain. The result likely could be putting off or delaying the exercise. You might even be overwhlemed by it. So what can you do?
Show up at your desk once a day at a set time and even if you don’t do any writing – reserve that time solely for writing and nothing else.
Write for 10-15 minutes each day and slowly increase the time the over the course of two weeks.
Produce a piece of freewriting every day (an unblocking technique where you splurge your thoughts without judging or editing).
Write in a journal every morning or evening.
Get a timer and find somewhere you can’t be interrupted, set it for 25 minutes. Write. Then, take a five-minute break. Set the timer for another 25 minutes.
So you’ve turned off the fear factor. Now, turn on the pleasure center of your brain. Reward yurself for a job well done. Small rewards will trigger the pleasure center of your brain, and by doing so, will strengthen the writing habit even more.
Ask yourself, what small reward could you give yourself after your next writing session?
Don’t make your reward too big or too tiny, make it something small that you would look forward to receiving (or eating!) after a writing session.
Be sure to reward the effort you put in, not the quantity. There is a big difference.
Well, there you have it. Go into 2020 flying, but don’t burn out. Pace yourself. Set reasonable goals, and keep plugging away. 2020 looks to be promising year. Have a happy one.
On October 22, 1966, Simon and Garfunkel released the song, A Hazy Shade of Winter. It was first released as a single and later added to the duo’s fourth studio album, Bookends. The song lamented the passage of time. Paul Simon writes,
Time, time time, see what’s become of me While I looked around for my possibilities I was so hard to please
There can be no doubt, time moves on turning minutes into hours and hours into untold years, never minding what we say or do. You can mourn the loss of time, or you can capitalize on the present. I vote for the latter.
We’ve each been given a certain amount of days to accomplish all that we were created to accomplish. The new year is upon us. Rather than dwell on the failures of the past (and we all have them), focus on what’s ahead. What lies before you in the coming year? You may not know, but take one step at a time and fulfill your calling.
The wisest of wise men, King Solomon wrote, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven , , ,” Everything in living has its time and place. Organize it and make it all count. You have only one shot at this thing called Life. Do it right in the coming year.
Don’t come to the end (and no one knows when that will be) with the attitude,
Time where have you gone to? You left me far behind And though it seems I’ve missed you, You never crossed my mind.
That’s it for this week. Again with the holiday looming over us, I didn’t add an excerpt or question for this week. We’ll get back to it next week. Have a happy and healthy 2020, and I’ll see you next Monday.
There are no updates this week because . . . It’s the most wonderful time of the year – or so they say. Christmas should be everyday, don’t you think? The prophets foretold it. The rabbis taught it. The angels declared it. The shepherds witnessed it. Today, we celebrate it. But how? And why?
Satan has no originality. He can only imitate and copy what’s already taken place, what’s already been done. Still, he would like to destroy the true meaning and purpose of Christmas. So along came Santa Claus. Has he replaced Jesus as the reason for the season? Think of the likenesses and consider the following list. You may want to check it twice.
1. Both have hair like wool (Revelation 1:14; Daniel 7:9)
2. Both have beards (Isaiah 50:6; Revelation 1:14)
3. Both come from the north (Ezekiel 1:4; Psalm 48:2)
4. Both are omniscient–all knowing (Revelation 19:6)
5. Both are ageless and eternal (Revelation 1:8; 21:6; Hebrews 13:8)
6. Both make a list of judgments (Revelation 14:7; 20:12; II Corinthians 5:10)
7. Both check their list (Matthew 10:26; II Corinthians 5:10)
8. Both give gifts on the basis of the list (Matthew 25:21; Revelation 21:27; 22:14)
9. Both involve rewards once yearly–Day of Atonement
10. Both receive our confession of sins (I John 2:1; I Timothy 2:5)
11. Both ask children to obey parents (Proverbs 6:20; Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20)
12. Both deal with Christ’s “supposed” birthday
13. The hour of their coming is a mystery (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:33; Luke 12:40)
14. Both use a light for guidance–Rudolph’s nose (Matthew 2:2, 7, 9, 10; Numbers 24:17)
15. Both call all children to their knee (Matthew 19:14; Luke 18:16)
16. Both have a twinkle in their eye (Revelation 1:14; 2:18)
17. Both will make a swift visit to the whole world in one day (Isaiah 47:9; Revelation 18:8)
18. Both are omnispresent–Santa is found in every mall at the same time (Psalm 139:7-10)
19. If I may use just one verse out of context–both say “ho, ho”. (Zecheriah 2:6).
Merry Christmas to all and to all a very blessed holiday season!
This week’s updates are complete. I chose an excerpt from Lori Colbo’s piece, Mary’s Song: The First Christmas Carol, for this week’s excerpt. It’s a very powerful write. Be sure to check it out in its entirity by following the link on the Excerpt page.
The new question has also been posted as well.
Now on to something to think about – perfection. Years ago, I was a guitarist in a rock-n-roll band. I loved music (and still do), but as a musician, every note had to be right on. If I made one mistake during a show, it would haunt me over and over again. Let me tell you, I made many more than one mistake during a night’s performance. Perfection drove me crazy. I was never satisfied, and I lived as if there was an egg shell under each foot.
We, in the creative arts, of which writing is, have a natural tendency toward perfectionism. You may think that’s a good thing, but it is not good for creativity. It may have a constructive use when it comes to the final edit, but it crushes creativity.
Perfectionism will not help you: – come up with ideas – bring the story to life – develop your imagination
These things may help when dealing with perfection. Although we long for it, realize we’ll never achieve it. Try setting a regular writing schedule for yourself. Consistency goes a long way. Just write. Be sloppy. You can always go back later and fix it. But don’t go back too soon. I have heard it said that even six months later may not be too long to wait.
But the most imporatant thing is to have fun. One of the things I learned from my band days is, I’ll never get it right all the time, and neither will you. Just write and savor the moment. Another thing I learned was, I may not do it perfectly, but satisfaction comes from doing the best job I possibly can. To sum it up, don’t strive for perfection. Stirve to be the best you can be.
Well, that’s it for another Monday. See you next week!
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know some of you don’t like snow, but on a gloomy, rainy, Pennsylvania Monday, I’m looking forward to the mountains turning a shimmering white on December 25. As little J. P. would say in Angels in the Outfield, “It could happen!” Even if you don’t care for snow, you have to admit, there’s a certain beauty about it that you don’t find in spring, summer, or fall. Anyway . . .
Be sure to check out the updated Featured Excerpt. This week it’s from Lawrence Hebb’s series, Spaceship Earth. He has some good thoughts, and as always, good writing. The new question is up, and I’m witing for answers, too.
How about some thoughts on overused words. These ideas were expressed on ProWritingAid.com, and I found them very useful. There are so many bad habits we can fall into. Or maybe, at times, we don’t even realize they’re bad. So here’s my two cents for this week –
#1: Words with indefinite meanings can be overused with no real purpose.
Words like “could”, “might” and “maybe” are indefinite in their meaning. If your writing contains a lot of these indecisive words, it will feel flimsy.
#2: If you’ve been writing for more than six months, then you know toshow, not tell, but often we overuse words that only tell, not show.
Words like “knew”, “felt” and “saw” are examples of “telling” rather than “showing.” Writing should be evocative, so if you’re using too many “telling” words your work will be less strong.
#3: Depending On Intensifiers can cause an overuse of words. And they add little to your writing.
Intensifiers like “very”, “so” and “really” add little to your reader’s understanding. Instead, replace your weak words with a word strong enough that you don’t need an intensifier.
#4: Nonspecific Words
If someone tells you a book is “interesting”, that tells you almost nothing about the content of the book. When possible, choose words that have precise meanings and talk about specifics.
I think your writing will be cleaner and more consise. The problem is being aware of what makes good writing good when you’re writing – try that three times fast. As we grow, eventually these things will become habit and you can move on to another step to improve your writing – just some things to think about.
Well, here’s hoping you all get a ton of snow for Christmas! See you next week.
Well, Cadeyrn’s Tale is finally complete. For a shorter book, it seemed as if it would never be finished. You can get it here on the website or from Amazon. Of course, by ordering it here, you get free shipping.
That being said, Central PA is once again coated with white. The storm that hit the nation left us pretty much alone, but there is a sprinkling of snow over the countryside – very pretty!
Now, for something practical. Let’s talk about those nasty adverbs that we tend to overuse. We certainly want our writing to be descriptive. We want it to be expressive. Adverbs are most often used to strengthen or prop up weak verbs. If we choose to use strong, descriptive verbs, the need for adverbs will be lessened.
All things considered, there will be times when an adverb will be your best choice of words. But adverbs can cause us to be lazy writers. To be honest, I’m an adverb abuser, but we live and learn.
Take the above sentence from the third paragraph, We certainly want our writing to be descriptive. The adverb certainly adds strength to the sentence. It emphasizes our desire for good writing. But could the sentence be stronger if we used a little thought and creativity? What if we chose a stronger word for the verb want? What if we eliminated the adverb and replaced the weak verb with the word crave? We crave for our writing to be descriptive. Is there a difference?
Take the next sentence – We want it to be expressive. We have removed the the adverb, but a weak verb (want) still exists. We don’t care to repeat the verb crave, especially in back-to-back sentences. Maybe we could substitute desire or long for. We desire it to be expressive. We long for it to be expressive.
Okay. So I think you get the idea, and that’s my two cents for another Monday. See you next week!
So Central PA got its first blanket of the white stuff. What’s the big deal? I hear a lot of complaining about the weather this time of year – usually from the same people that say it’s too hot in July. I hope you’re not one of them. Life is too short to grumble.
I hope you get a chance to think about this week’s question and check out the updated Featurd Excerpt, but right now we have more important things to discuss.
How many words does it take to create a novel? I hear so many different numbers floating around. I don’t know if there really is a correct answer. I’ve heard everything from 50,000 to 100,000 words. Take your pick.
But how do you develop a small idea into a full-fledged novel? It’s no easy trick. These ideas are not all-inclusive, but hopefully, it will give you some things to think about.
Once you get that idea that just won’t stay out of your head, write down every possible idea you can think of that relates to it. A thought may come to you while at the mall. Or maybe while you’re out for a Sunday drive. Use some real-life situations that have impacted your life. Whatever it is, write it down. If you’re like me, you won’t remember these things ten minutes later. You’re probably not like me, but it’s still a good idea to write them down.
Some people like to have the whole story planned out complete with outline and notations. I do believe it’s good to have a plan and at least a direction and goal in mind for your protagonist, but I still like to see where my story goes. In other words, I’ve found that often a story takes an unexpected turn, even for me, the author. If I plan too much, that option is taken away.
As I mentioned before, I’ve been using Freewriter. It allows me to fully develop my thoughts into organized ideas which eventually become organized words on a page. There are character blocks where I can develop my characters as much as I choose. There are scene blocks that allow me to go deep into description of the scenes I’m writing. But the ultimate question is – will it be a novel?
Remember, I’m looking for a minimum of 50,000 words (80,000 is even better). Once I have a pretty good idea where I’m going with the story, I need to come up with a word count for each chapter. If I have 20 chapters with 2,000 words each, I’m going to fall short of novel length. I have a choice. I can either add more chapters, or make the chapters longers. If I add an extra 1,000 words to each chapter (making a total of 3,000 words per chapter), I now have 60,000 words. You can decide if you want to call that a novel.
If I need 3,000 words for a chapter, and I have three scenes in the chapter, I need to spend roughly 1,000 words on each scene. That makes for more crafting to fit the word count.
Now, after saying all of that, I just write. The story itself will determine the word count. I’d rather have a good, short story than a bland novel. Writing a novel is a challenge, though. Stay at it. Let the creative juices flow. The end is in sight.
It’s raining in Central PA, and it’s Monday. But let’s not let that get us down. Rain can be beautiful. It gives moisture to the land and water to drink. It feeds the streams and rivers. Monday gives us a fresh start to a new week, a place we’ve never been before. So let’s embrace it. Let’s live it to its fullest.
Don’t forget to add your thoughts to this week’s question, too.
Someone had asked a question about revising our work before it is submitted for publication. Revision can be difficult and time consuming, but it must be done. As important as revision is, editing is also important, and in many ways it overlaps revision. I want to give you six steps to help with your editing and revision. Here goes.
Give it some time. Before you begin your revisions, just walk away for a bit. Give it a few days, maybe a few weeks. Then go back and read it with fresh eyes. While you’re waiting, work on developing a summary of the finished story. You can use this to guide you as you do your editing and revisions.
Get rid of the excess. Think about your summary. Think about the overall big picture of what you want to accomplish. Look for inconsistencies and anything that doesn’t advance the plot. Get rid of it.
Read your manuscript in a new format. Print it out using a different font, maybe a different size. Make it bold. You might be surprised how many mistakes you might catch.
This may sound trite, but read your work out loud. Use the changed font you printed out for this. When reading silently, it’s too easy for our brain to gloss over words and wording. Reading out loud will help you pick up awkward wording and inconsistencies that may remain.
See it from a different perspective. Be hard on yourself. Consider every line. Are you saying what you want to communicate? Read the manuscript as if you are reading it through someone else’s eyes. It may not be easy to do, but look at your work as your worst enemy might see it. He’s probably not going to say anything good. Consider your words. Don’t just read them. Are your words clear? Are they concise? Do they flow? You’re the author. You can write anything you want, but your writing will be judged by the reader – maybe your worst enemy.
Use editing tools. I’ll list three here, and you can do your own research to see what works best for you. Grammarly,Hemingway Editor, and FreeWriter. All are user friendly, and all have a free download.
That does it for this rainy Monday. Keep on writing!!!