Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How to Deal with Falling Rocks Landing on the Writer's Road to Publication

I recently read an interesting article by Jack Canfield on Positively Positives’s blog about overcoming obstacles, and right away I thought about how this applies to the writer’s journey.

Are there obstacles standing between you and your finished published manuscript
Lack of time to write? 
Lack of money for conferences, workshops, babysitters? 
Not enough support from your family? 

The obstacles to getting published can seem so numerous, so obvious, and so tough to get past. And the way we deal with obstacles can take a lot of time, and energy away from our creative writing selves. Often the way we deal can keep the focus on the obstacle and not on our forward journey. Two of the most common negative responses to a rock thrown in our path is to explain the rock or to resist the rock.

Here’s Jack Canfield’s analogy of obstacles we may come across.

Imagine you’re driving down a scenic highway. Suddenly, you come to a huge rock in the middle of the road. You have the usual two options. Explain away how the rock ended up there, it must have come loose in a recent earthquake tremor. Or you might resist and complain about the carelessness of highway construction and the lack of government funding for rock removal. 

Or you could bypass all this negativity and just drive around the rock. 

                                                                                  Photo by Chris Marin - Hawaii

Which simply means... instead of asking WHY did this happen, ask WHAT can I do. It seems obvious, but it’s easy to get bogged down when rock, after rock, after rock seems to be dropped on your road to publication.

But look what this woman does with rocks: 

Photos by Jessica Purvis Vancouver, British Columbia June 2012

So instead of seeing the rocks thrown on your road as a STOP sign, which could derail all your efforts, maybe even cause you to give up for awhile, see the rock as a YIELD sign.  Slow down, ask what can I do, but keep moving forward on your writerly path.

And when I need to remind myself that the obstacles are part of being a writer, I think of this Thomas Mann quote:

            “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult   
                                                   than it is for other people.”

Feel free to comment on your obstacles, your ways to deal with them, or anything else.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Walk in the Golden Slippers of a Golden Heart Finalist!

Please welcome to my blog newly published author Carol Post.  Her debut novel Midnight Shadows recently released with Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense. She’s here to inspire and encourage all of us on the winding, twisting road that is a writer’s journey with some tidbits from her journey to publication.

Walk us through your actual process of conceiving of a story through writing your book. The short version. LOL

I am very much a plotter. I come up with my main plot points, then start filling in the scenes in between. When I get everything pretty well mapped out, then I'm ready to start writing. I hear a lot of writers talk about how characters will come to them and just demand their stories. Not me. I get a plot idea, develop it, then decide what kind of characters belong in that story. And I don't dream my story ideas, either. Nope, I have to work for every one of them! 

You were a finalist in the Golden Heart, tell us about that experience and how you decided to enter? 

I started doing the contest circuit at the end of 2009, shortly after I joined RWA, and since the Golden Heart is such a prestigious contest, I knew I had to enter. I didn't final the first time, but I did the second, in 2012. About two months before finding out I was a finalist, I got the call that Harlequin's Love Inspired Suspense was going to publish the manuscript. Although I had already realized my dream of getting published, being a 2012 GH finalist has been very rewarding. The fifty-some finalists have formed a tightly-knit group where we share good news and bad (both writing and non-writing related) and encourage and support each other. We call ourselves the Firebirds, after the mythical creature that rises from the ashes to fly again. You can check out our blog at www.ghfirebirds.com. Every week we do Fiction Friday, where we post serial stories in four or five parts. One segment (except for the conclusion) ends with a cliffhanger and three choices for what happens next that the readers get to vote on. Then whichever choice wins, the next writer has to make that happen. It's a lot of fun.

Do you have a critique group, partner, etc?  How does that work for you? 

I belong to an awesome 4-person critique group. I write inspirational romantic suspense, one critique partner writes inspirational romance, one writes women's fiction and one writes fantasy. I like having CP's from several different genres. They each bring something different to the table. We all belong to the same writer's group, but all of our critiquing is handled online.

Have you been to any conventions?  Which ones?  Would you recommend any, some, all? 

I always go to the Romance Writers of America conference. The speakers are great, the workshops are informative, and it's an excellent opportunity to meet with editors and agents. The energy there is incredible - it's so invigorating being with hundreds of other writers. I always come away inspired. This year I'm planning to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers conference also.

Did you have to pitch? 

Yes, I've pitched a few times. And there's nothing more nerve-wracking! I wrote my last pitch on the plane on the way to RWA Nationals. I figured I'd get it memorized in pieces over the next two days. (Please don't take that as advice on how to do a successful pitch!) Well, I somehow got the appointment date confused and that night realized my pitch was actually the next morning. Fortunately, I memorize well under pressure! Surprisingly enough, that pitch actually ended up being the easiest. I arrived about 15 minutes early, and when I walked in, a writer I had met at Nationals the prior year remembered me and asked if I wanted to practice my pitch with her. After going through it once, one of the volunteers working the pitch sessions asked if I wanted to go early, that the appointment scheduled before mine didn't show up. They always line you up two minutes before your pitch time, and I spend that two minutes getting more and more nervous. This time I got to skip all that, followed the volunteer back and sat right down with Love Inspired's Melissa Endlich without ever having a chance to get nervous.

And here's what happened as a result of that pitch.  Amazon link here.

What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring authors? 

Join a writer's group. Writing is such a solitary activity, and it's so easy to get discouraged and want to quit. (At least it was for me. I quit more times than I can count before I found out about RWA.) I belong to the Tampa chapter of RWA, Tampa Area Romance Authors, and I know that if it weren't for the encouragement and support I've received from my fellow chapter mates, I wouldn't be published today.  Besides all the moral support that writing groups offer, the workshops and conferences give you the opportunity to constantly improve your craft.

What's next for you?  

For the immediate future, I plan to continue writing for Love Inspired Suspense. I just signed a contract for my next two books, one of which is completed. The other I sold on proposal and have until June 15 to finish it. Then I'll start plotting my next series, which will take place in a fictional Florida island community. I'll start the process with a weekend at Cedar Key with my critique partners. (Research is tough, but we've all got to do it!) 

Wow, I’m so jealous of your writer’s retreat in Cedar Key.  I can’t thank you enough for thoughtful answers. Good luck with your new release and the upcoming ones too.

As always feel free to comment.