Monday, October 20, 2014

Close the Window

It's funny how a deadline can reveal weaknesses in one's self discipline.

It makes you a little more conscious of how many times you raid the kitchen for a snack or walk out to the mailbox.

Then there's the desk straightening, and the sudden need to vacuum the dust bunnies underfoot. And the refrigerator. Just look at how dirty it is! It needs to be cleaned out. Right now, of course. 

What does one do when faced with so many distractions?

Here are a few things that have helped me: 

1) Ignore the phone. If nothing else, I screen calls. (That way, if someone calls to say I won a big writing award, I won't miss it.) I also mentally set aside "working time" and don't answer the phone.  Too many calls can hijack the day.

2) Dismiss the chores. I'm not saying that we should ditch housework, but sometimes things can wait. The sun will still rise tomorrow if the carpet doesn't get vacuumed today. But we won't get paid for the article if we miss a deadline because we got sidetracked chasing cobwebs. 

3) Reschedule the must-do-now distractions. The bookshelves that scream to be alphabetized? Tell them to hush. The overflowing file cabinet that's mocking you from the corner of the room? Don't stress over it. They will be there tomorrow.

4) Close the window.  The internet is by far my biggest distraction, like a tangent waiting to happen. I get WAY more done if I close it. 

These simple actions help me better manage my time. With a good balance of determination, self discipline, and flexibility, my writing stays on track.

What keeps you from your writing or other projects? Do you close the window? What helps you stay focused and get things done?

Happy writing,

Monday, October 13, 2014

Chatting with Maria Morgan

Maria Morgan and I met through blogging a number of years ago, so I was excited to hear that her book Louie's BIG day! was released last month. I'm looking forward to sharing the story with my grandson. :)

What was your inspiration for writing a children’s book? Why did you choose to self publish?

A couple years ago when General Mills sponsored their Spoonfuls of Stories contest, I wrote Louie’s BIG day! and sent in my submission. My story wasn’t chosen, so I set it aside. A year later, I shared it with my writer’s critique group. They loved it. So while I was waiting for a different manuscript to be reviewed, I went back and added a few things to Louie’s story and decided to pursue publication. I’m glad the Lord slowed me down so I would pay attention to His leading.

Slowing down can be a good thing. :) Can you give us an overview of Louie’s BIG day!

Louie is a bright red lawnmower who used to live at the hardware store with his friends: Ruthie Rake, Eddie Edger, Bobbie Blower, Terri Trowel, and Henri Hose. Recently he was purchased by a man and his wife and now he’s on his own.

Louie misses his friends, but it’s time to find out if he can do the job he was made to do. Join Louie for his BIG adventure and discover the surprise that awaits him at the end of the day!

I had the privilege of reading Louie's story. It's cute! Will we be seeing more of Louie in the future? 

Yes, you will. Louie’s adventures are just getting started and will be chronicled in the Louie the Lawnmower series. He and his pals have a second book, Louie & the Leaf Pile, coming out early next year.

That sounds like another fun story. I'm sure that before long, Louie will have his own fan club! What do you hope to accomplish with the series? 

It’s SO important to take advantage of every opportunity to teach our children biblical truths. I’ve designed the Louie the Lawnmower series to do just that: teach concepts from the Bible in a kid-friendly way, and conclude each book with questions to foster parent/child discussion.

I agree. Where can we find Louie’s BIG day!

It’s available in both print and Kindle versions. You can order a print version here and order the Kindle version here.

Thank you Maria, for stopping by. Wishing you all the best with your book!

Thanks for hosting me! 

Maria's Bio 

Maria I. Morgan was born with an active imagination. Originally an inspirational author and speaker for adults, Maria has widened her circle to include kids. She lives in the muggy South with her husband, two retrievers, and two Maine coon kitties – the perfect mix to fuel her creativity for years to come!

Connect with Maria

Connect with Louie

Do you have any questions for Maria? What book was your favorite when you were a child?

Happy writing,


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Write for Life Blog Tour

I am hosting a mini blog tour this coming week to kick off the release of Write for Life Volume One, complete with a little giveaway and blog hopping. Be sure and check out the Rafflecopter Entry Form below for giveaway details.

Thanks to all my writer friends who are helping me to spread the word. Here is the list of writers who are participating:

Monday 10/13 - Robyn Campbell at Robyn Campbell 
                                  - Yvie at Gypsy Road 
                                  - Gena Mayo at I Choose Joy
Tuesday 10/14 - Susan Sundwall at Sundwall Says
                                  - Gena Mayo at I Choose Joy
Wednesday 10/15 - Sandy Sieber at PA History
Thursday 10/16 - Carol J. Alexander at Everything Home with Carol
Friday 10/17 - Susan J. Reinhardt at Christian Writer/Reader Connection
Saturday 10/18 - Jeanette Levellie at On Wings of Mirth and Worth: Soaring, Never Boring

An Overview of Write for Life 

Write for Life: Volume One: Writing the Research Paper

This book offers ready to use lessons for grades 7-12 that guide students through the process of writing the research paper. Suitable for homeschool families, co-ops, or other student groups, these eight lessons break down the process from start to finish with helpful instruction, encouragement, and practice.
Lesson topics include:  

  • MLA style research paper basics, topics, and sources
  • Thesis statements
  • Outlines
  • Developing content
  • Rough and final drafts
  • Citing sources

No matter what we do in life, good communication skills are an important ingredient for success.  Strengthening students’ writing enhances verbal and other interpersonal skills and helps prepare them for a lifetime of good communication.

Since 2005, Karen Lange has used these lessons to teach homeschool teens at the Homeschool Online Creative Writing Co-op. She believes that everyone can improve their writing skills with a good balance of instruction, encouragement, and practice. 

Purchase Write for Life on Amazon

If you have a moment, I invite you to leave a comment, enter the giveaway, and stop by the participating blogs. (The Giveaway begins tomorrow.) I appreciate your support and encouragement. You are a blessing to me! :)

I also invite you to join me tomorrow (10/13) when Maria Morgan stops here to discuss her new children's book.

Happy reading and writing,

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 6, 2014

Watch Your Tone

One issue I have with email and texting is that you can't always interpret the sender's tone. It's usually difficult to judge inflection and emotion unless the sender adds emoticons or a longer explanation. Have you ever received an email or text that seemed aloof or impatient? While email and texts serve their purpose, they aren't always the best way to communicate. 

Writing on the other hand, can provide a better avenue for us to employ an appropriate, reader friendly tone. One definition for tone is how our writing feels, sounds, and is interpreted. It may form through word choice, sentence structure, and a writer's attitude and style. The writer’s tone can be sarcastic, serious, humorous, sad, or a combination of these and other qualities. I believe that tone factors into a writer’s voice.

When discussing tone with my teen writing students, I have them consider an exercise where they imagine two actors trying out for a part. Each actor’s only line is to say the other actor’s name two times. 





Then I have them repeat the exercise and ask what it would sound like if Patrick and Clarabelle were afraid or surprised, angry, confused, or happy. I ask students then to consider how the characters communicated each emotion.  

We may not always directly consider tone during the process, but it does factor into the mix. The revision process can help us assume the correct tone for our writing.

When in doubt regarding tone (and other details) before I submit, I rely on:
  • Considering the audience and publication
  • A second opinion from critique partners
  • Reading my work aloud to better hear how it is "heard"

Do you consider tone as you write? How do you think others view your writing tone?

Happy writing,

Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, September 29, 2014

Autumn and Writing, Perfect Together

"...I cannot endure to waste anything so precious 
as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house. 
So I have spent almost all the daylight 
hours in the open air."

~Nathaniel Hawthorne

What's your favorite season? I am partial to autumn. For some reason fall inspires me to write. Maybe it's the cooler temperatures and cozy evenings at home, or the inspiration I find from being outdoors and enjoying the fresh air and colorful foliage. I think Mr. Hawthorne is on to something.

Discovered these items recently - thought they might inspire some autumnal writing. :) 

How I Found the Write Path is a collection assembled by Carrie Butler and P.K. Hrezo featuring authors such as Robyn Campbell, Alex J. Cavanaugh,  Medeia Sharif, C. Lee McKenzie, and Tyrean Martinson. As I compose this post, it is free for Kindle (99 cents otherwise). Check it out hereThis is the Amazon description: 

"In this endearing compilation, over sixty authors share letters written to their past selves, candidly sharing what they might not always discuss in public. The hope is that those of you who haven’t published will learn from their experiences. And those of you who have published? Well, you just might realize you’re not alone."

Do you write for children? How to Sell Your Picture Books by Agent Lara Perkins highlights four crucial elements for success.

Historical fiction writers take note - C.S. Lakin's post, 5 How-to Tips for Writing Historical Fiction offers wonderful tips and insight.

Hop over to Rhonda Schrock's blog  for her thoughts about television remotes and mirrors. I'm pretty sure it will make you smile.

In other news...

Sandy Sieber interviewed yours truly over at PA History.

Write for Life, my latest book, is now available for 99 cents on Kindle. This is Volume One, Writing the Research Paper and it includes lessons for grades 7-12.

Congratulations to Cecelia Lester, the winner of Sarah Sundin's book. Thanks to everyone who stopped by for her interview last week.

Does one season inspire your writing more than another? What do you have going on this week?

Happy writing,


Monday, September 22, 2014

A Visit from Sarah Sundin

Exciting news - Sarah Sundin has two new books out! She is here this week to share about her latest release, Where Treetops Glisten. Please join me in welcoming her. :)  Sarah's offered a copy of Where Treetops Glisten for a giveaway, so check out the details below.

Welcome, Sarah! Congratulations on your latest books! You have been super busy this year with the release of In Perfect Time and Where Treetops Glisten. How did the collaboration with Cara Putman and Tricia Goyer for Where Treetops Glisten come about? 

That was a lot of fun. In 2011, Cara came up with the idea of the three of us writing a WWII Christmas novella collection. Tricia and I loved the idea, tossed around a few ideas, and then we let it rest. That Christmas, on a road trip to visit family, I was blindsided by a Christmas novella idea. It flew together so quickly it’s hard to trace how the story came together. In a few days I essentially had the entire novella outlined with major scenes sketched. I loved this story so much, I knew I had to write it even if Cara and Tricia weren’t interested in a collection. Well, I emailed Cara, and it turned out she had an idea for a novella…and so did Tricia. We had a few brainstorming emails and a conference call or two, and the concept for Where Treetops Glisten came together.

Can you give us a peek into the stories? 

The three stories follow the Turner family from Lafayette, Indiana throughout World War II.

Cara Putman’s story, White Christmas, happens in 1942. Abigail Turner is a student at Purdue who enjoys her job at Glatz Candies. Then she meets Jackson Lucas, a man carrying a heavy burden for his widowed mother he’s supporting. Abigail is determined to help him save the family farm, but will she be able to overcome her fears of falling in love again?

In my novella, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Lt. Pete Turner comes home for furlough in December 1943 after completing a combat tour as a fighter pilot based in England. His tank is on empty, but his pastor’s advice to give baffles him. How can he give something out of nothingness? But then he meets little Linnie Kessler and her lovely widowed mother Grace. Can he convince Grace he’s no longer the bully she knew as a child? And will his gift to them fill the empty places in their lives?

In Tricia Goyer’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Merry Turner is serving as an Army nurse in the Netherlands in December 1944. Still reeling from betrayal and a broken heart, she’s confused and concerned by the anonymous gifts that turn up for her Christmas birthday—personal gifts that point to the very man who betrayed her.

Is this the first collaborative project/book you've done? Has it been any different from when you write a novel by yourself? 

This is my first collaborative project, but Cara and Tricia had done collections before. It required some coordination, particularly with timelines and character histories and traits. I made up several charts to keep us on track, so Cara and Tricia dubbed me the “spreadsheet queen.” But then I benefited from their energy and fountains of ideas. Really, these women don’t shut down. Another thing that was interesting to me was using characters who didn’t “belong” to me. Both Abigail and Merry appear as side characters in my story, and we all used the parents and grandma, so we needed to keep the personalities consistent. We had lots of emails asking “What would Abigail be doing here?” “Would Pete say that?” or “What’s Merry feeling at this time?”

It would be a lot to keep track of, that's for sure. How do you keep yourself on track with your writing deadlines? Have any tips to share? 

Spreadsheets and charts. He he he. Really, I do. My monthly goal chart is crucial to me—that’s where I list all the tasks that have to be done each month. I work back from my deadline and divide up how many chapters I need to write each month, leaving time for editing afterward and lots of pre-writing beforehand. I also include publicity activities, when I need to update my website and social media sites, etc. I keep a separate spreadsheet for interviews and articles with due dates and post dates so nothing falls between the cracks.

Sounds like a great system. Successful too, since you have seven books to your credit! Are there any new books in the works? 

Yes, there are! My new Waves of Freedom series follows three American naval officers based in Boston during World War II. The first novel, Through Waters Deep, comes out August 2015. In 1941, as America teeters on the brink of World War II, Mary Stirling works at the Boston Navy Yard and renews an old friendship with naval officer Ens. Jim Avery. Jim’s destroyer escorts British convoys across the North Atlantic, but problems on his ship point to a saboteur at the shipyard. As Mary works to find the culprit and Jim battles U-boats, their friendship promises to blossom into something more. But could a deeper friendship rip them apart?

Wishing you all the best with your current books and the new series too. Looking forward to reading them. :)

Thank you Karen, and thanks for inviting me to stop by!

Giveaway Details

  • You must be a Google Friend Connect (GFC) follower of Write Now. (See sidebar to sign up if you don't already follow.)
  • Please leave your email address so I can contact you if you win.
  • Giveaway ends Thursday, September 25 at midnight EDT. Open to US residents only.
  • Winner will be chosen by and will have 36 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.

Find Sarah and her books on her website. Stop by her blog as well, she'd love to see you!  

Do you have any questions for Sarah? How do you keep your writing tasks organized?

Happy writing,