Writing “The End”

Nearly every week I see other writers on Facebook or Twitter post that they have just typed, “The End.”

I have never done that.

The question clangs around in my brain, “What am I missing?” And the internal argument ensues.

The First Me: “You don’t type ‘The End’ because you don’t know how to pause for a minute and celebrate an accomplishment.”

The Other Me: “Who are they kidding? Next comes umpteen rounds of self-editing, or multiple rounds of publisher editing. The project is nowhere near the end.”

The First Me: “It’s not about the end of the project. It’s about reaching the end of the story and feeling good about it.”

The Other Me: “But is the story over if the project’s not?”

The First Me: “Seriously. Can’t you just take a breath and admit you did well to get to this point?”

The Other Me usually wins out, but The First Me has a point.

When I think about the health of life as a whole, I believe that each person’s starting point is different, and each person’s goals are different. Health isn’t eating certain foods or accomplishing certain actions or doing everything the way everyone else does. Whole-life health comes from finding meaning and purpose in all the dimensions of our lives and the ways they interact.

Health in the writing life is not so different. We all have our starting points, our next-step goals, our writing processes, our visions of where we’d like to be in five years or ten years.

And all writers, no matter how many manuscripts they’ve written or published, have lessons to learn about how to sustain writing as purposeful, meaningful, and healthy.

I doubt I’m going to start typing “The End” on the last page of my manuscripts. But if I listen to my own advice, I’ll get better about allowing myself to smile and feel satisfaction about reaching the markers that move me forward as a writer.

 

Member Monday: Spunk and Spirit Christian Writers Group

By Kathy Brasby, President Spunk and Spirit Christian Writers Group

spunkandspiritwriterslogo1Author Bonnie Doran will be presenting “Cultivating Contacts from Conferences” at the next Spunk and Spirit Christian Writers Group meeting on Monday, April 21, from 6:30-8 pm at Life Fellowship in Fort Morgan.

Bonnie’s debut novel, Dark Biology, released September 2013 from Harbourlight, an imprint of Pelican Book Group.

She lives in Denver with her husband of 30 years. They’re owned by two Siamese cats. Bonnie DoranJohn is an electrical engineer who works with lasers for a living. He’s also a Mad Scientist who owns a 2,300-pound electromagnet.

Spunk and Spirit meets on the third Monday of each month from 6:30-8 pm at Life Fellowship in Fort Morgan.

Dues (only $10 a year) can be sent to our treasurer: Becky Brasby, 21267 Co. Rd. 20.5, Fort Morgan, CO 80701.  We welcome associate memberships at $5 a year, too.

You can connect with us at our website  http://spunkandspirit.acfwcolorado.com/ or  on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/spunkandspirit

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ACFW Colorado Author Spotlight – Robin Densmore Fuson

Join us today as we meet children’s author, Robin Densmore Fuson.

 

Robin_hand_under_chin_taken_by_Jamie Robin Densmore Fuson lives in Rifle, Colorado and is a full time storyteller, blogger, and writer. She writes children and Christian romance and is multi-published in magazines and blogs. Robin is the recipient of runner up award for her flash fiction, Boarding Pass, published by Harpstring and first place award in the Everyone’s a Reader contest for her romance, The Dress Shop. Singing in two community choirs occupies her time along with her 15 grandchildren she and her husband share.

 

1.     What has inspired you to write children’s fiction?

 

My inspiration behind children’s fiction is my love for storytelling.  My book and children’s blog is an outflow of my passion. I have been telling stories or teaching for over 30 years. One night, while praying for more direction in my life, my story about Rosita came to me. I had her name and basic outline of the story. I truly believe the story was a gift from the Lord, an answer to prayer.

 

2.     As a children’s writer, what are some of your favorite books from childhood?

 

My favorite books from my childhood are: The Secret Garden, Charlotte’s Web, The Shy Stegosaurus, PippiLongstockings, and Little Women.

 

3.     Writers are storytellers. What do you feel are the most important elements of a great story?

The most important elements of great story include: strong characters, a hook, excitement throughout to keep the pages turning, and a fun ending.

 

4. If you had to choose one place in Colorado as your favorite, where would that be and why?

My favorite place in Colorado is the place of my birth, Durango. It’s in the South-West part of the state. I love the surrounding San Juan Mountains.

 

5. We writers have our own quirks that help encourage us to stay at the task of getting words on pages. What are some of your tricks for motivating yourself?

Deadlines are the key to motivate me to stay on task of getting the words on paper. When I’m under a deadline I work until it’s finished, but if I don’t have one from an outside source, I have to “make up” deadlines. Mentally I make up a day coming up or a date in the future when something needs to be completed. I calculate how much I need to do in a given day and do that much until it is finished. This is true for my blog stories, articles, or my books.

 

6. If you could meet anyone from the Bible other than Jesus Christ, who would you meet?

The woman would be Esther. I love the way her faith comes to life in a real life and death situation.

The man would be James. He was Jesus’ half-brother and it would be interesting to know how it was to grow up with Jesus and I would love to hear how he finally understood who Jesus was.

 

7. Naming our characters like naming our children is important. How do you choose the names of your characters?

I enjoy finding a name for my characters. I look for a name that belongs in the region and date the character lives in. If at all possible, I choose a name which means what the character is learning or what the character exemplifies. The most important thing to me is to like the name.

 

8. Tell us about Rosita Valdez and the Giant Sea Turtle.

The main character is an imaginative, personable eight year old girl named Rosita who comes from a large, close family. Living on an Island in the Pacific Ocean, she encounters a giant sea turtle. This opens up her young life to the wonders of the ocean. These wonders are not limited to sea turtles, but also other sea life, including whales. Her adventures are not restricted to the ocean. Rosie’s inquisitive nature creates opportunities for adventure wherever she goes. Character building themes underline the story. Rosita insists the sea turtle is real. This takes her to a decision of whether to tell the truth or to tell a lie. The first book, Rosita Valdez and the Giant Sea Turtle, is a wonderful tool to teach truthfulness and trust.

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You can find out more about Robin at any of these social media sites.

 

Twitter: @RobinLFuson
                 www.facebook.com/AuthorRobinDensmoreFuson
Google+: Robin Densmore Fuson

 

 

News from the Colorado Springs Chapter

Talent and table salt Stephen King 11.25.13

This year is a time of transition for the Colorado Springs ACFW chapter. The leadership board is now finalized:

  • Beth Vogt – president
  • Mary Agius – vice president
  • Suzanne Norquist – treasurer
  • Casey Herringshaw – secretary

As president, I appreciate Amy Drown helping us through the early months of 2014 and I’m excited to work with Mary, Suzanne, and Casey for the rest of the year. Casey joined the board even as she coordinated hundreds of entries for the 2014 ACFW Carol Awards!

Upcoming Meetings

May: Blythe Daniel, the president of the Blythe Daniel Agency, a marketing and literary agency here in the Springs, will present a workshop on Blogging Basics: What Makes the Most Successful Blogs and How Yours Can Be One of Them.

June: Author Evangeline Denmark will present a workshop Help! I’m addicted to YA!

July: Author Olivia Newport will present a workshop Serializations: The New Fiction Landscapes?

Member News

  • Congratulations to Brandy Vallance! Her novel, The Covered Deep, won the Christian Writers Guild’s 2013 Operation First Novel contest. She receives $20,000 and publication by contest co-sponsor, Worthy Publishing.
  • John W. Tucker will be holding book signings on April 19th at Barnes and Noble and on April 26th at Family Christian Bookstore. His first book is Dragon Riders of the Realm.  
  • Mary Davis has a three-book Heartsong contract for first release in December. Also Beaches and Brides and The Farmer’s Daughter compilations will release a title that Mary previously published.
  • Good luck! Mary Agius entered the My Book Therapy Frasier contest. Susan G. Mathis and Greg Austin entered the ACFW Genesis contest.

 

Join us at the upcoming meetings — and stay tuned for what’s happening later in the year! Our goal is to provide opportunities for you to grow as a writer!

Never, Never Quit!

There are always those writers out there who have never experienced one rejection after another. You sent out the first thing you ever wrote, along with one of those ‘send me $200 and maybe I’ll send you some more to publish’ letters, and got it accepted by some small unknown publisher like Reader’s Digest, or Time. Or you pounded out your first hundred thousand word novel, went to a conference, got a six-figure advance and an agent at that conference, and retired on a white sand beach. Right.

Well, for the rest, take heart. One week I got fourteen rejections by Wednesday, an average of five rejections each and every day. I was at the end of my Rejection Tolerance Quotient. Walking to the post office with my husband, contemplating those rejections became too much. I wailed, “I can’t handle one more rejection letter.”

My husband turned and looked me in the eye. “If I told you right now that you’d never get published, would you quit writing?”

I considered for about a millisecond. “I can’t. The stories are in there, and they’ve got to come out.”

He smiled at me. He already knew the answer. Gently taking my hand, he continued. “In that case, it doesn’t matter, does it? Just think how many writers would like to say they’ve got enough submissions to get fourteen rejections in one week.”

There are writers who wouldn’t have enough projects in the mail to get five rejections in a year, let alone fourteen. There are writers who are still working on the same project, ten years later, sure that if they revise enough, send it to enough publishers or agents, someone will love the story as much as they do.

If we want to be writers, we have to write. If we want to get published, we have to submit. And submit. And submit again.

We must be willing to take advice and criticism in equal doses. A teachable heart, the willingness to invest in our career, and the ability to listen to voices in our head will also propel us along.

Oh, yes. We also need a sense of humor. Without that, we’ll cry when we’re rejected, or when a critique partner gets published before we do, or a friend gets a three-book contract. We need to be able to laugh at ourselves and not take ourselves too seriously. And we need to be able to laugh at the rejections, toss them aside, and carry on.

Since I started down this writing road, I’ve submitted to more than a hundred publishers, some several times. I’ve gotten more than two hundred rejections, and I’ve rejoiced over a few acceptances. My motto echoes Sir Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never quit!”

I treat this journey as a road, not as a career path, not as a publishing path. I focus on the stories that are bursting to come out, because to do otherwise would be to admit failure. I give back to those coming along behind me, and I grit my teeth and smile every time I open an envelope that contains a form letter beginning with: Dear Sir or Madam.

Letters that start that way are never good news.

But it doesn’t matter, because the story is in there, and it must come out.


Author bio: Donna is hard at work not quitting, in Denver, CO. She is married to Patrick, and together they enjoy traveling, research, and their two daughters and eight grandchildren. Donna writes historical suspense, which you can check out at www.HiStoryThruTheAges.com or www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com, and her alter ego, Leeann Betts, writes contemporary suspense, which you can check out at www.LeeannBetts.com or www.AllBettsAreOff.wordpress.com. Donna is represented by Terrie Wolf at AKA Literary, LLC (www.AKALiteraryLLC.com). Check out Donna’s story at www.livebytheword.com.

Monday Member News

Here’s the news from Mile High Scribes (ACFW South Denver Chapter) for March and April, 2014:

Our April meeting will be Monday, April 7th at 7 pm at Tattered Cover Bookstore in Highlands Ranch, CO.

The speaker will be Renada Arens, Digital Marketing Specialist with David C. Cook. Her topic: It’s a Jungle Out There: Ebooks, Amazon and Digital Publishing Opportunities in the CBA.

Speaking of opportunities, Renada will be accepting proposals at the April meeting for consideration. Only Mile High Scribes paid members may bring a proposal. The proposals will be collected at the meeting and given to Renada afterwards.

5th Annual One-Sheet Contest
Our One-Sheet Contest kicked off on March 1st and ends April 15th. This contest is open to all fiction writers. The entry fee is $15.
Five finalists will be sent to Sue Brower of Natasha Kern Literary Agency. She will choose the winner.
The prize is a choice of $50 or a paid registration to Novel Crafter’s Seminar of the Rockies featuring Jeff Gerke on November 15, 2014.
For more information visit the ACFW Colorado website.

News from members through March:

  • Lisa Schuster’s first novel, Service Station Angel, was published in November, 2013. It is available at Tattered Cover and Amazon.
  • Carla Laureano’s first novel, Five Days in Skye, was published (David C. Cook) in June, 2013, and is now coming out in trade paperback. She recently signed for two more books with David C. Cook.
  • Sara Richardson signed with an agent and received a three-book print contract from Grand Central Publishing. Her first book will release in 2015.
  • Sandy Nadeau’s first novel, Red Gold, was released this month by Harborlight (Pelican Book Group) and is available through her website or on Amazon.
  • Danica Favorite-McDonald’s first Love Inspired Historical will release in November, and her second LIH in spring, 2015.
  • Krystal Marusin published a daily advent blog in December 2013 and has continued to blog regularly.
  • Carol Eaton was a Semi-finalist in the 2013 Genesis contest.
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10 Lessons From a Writing Cave

I just came out of a four-month stretch of an intense writing pace prodded by weekly deadlines, turning in to the publisher thirteen installments of 15,000 words. Now that I’m on the other side, here are some reflections I’ll take with me into the next project.

1. A book deal is not the key to happiness. I was working on a contract that excited me, but there were also moments I hated it. Finding balance in my life was up to me.

2. There’s always a next learning curve. By the time this project began, I’d written and turned in seven full-length novels. But the new project was a serialization, which was a whole new ball game. I had to find my legs all over again.

3. Intimidation is a constant companion. At least for me. The task always feels daunting, and a certain level of energy comes from recognizing that. I can leverage the challenge to energize me.

4. Leave room for flexibility. I had four colds in three months. Feeling crummy in spurts, I was constantly recalculating my writing schedule. I’m glad I left myself some wiggle room in the original schedule.

5. You could do more. You can nearly always push yourself harder, make more sacrifices, work longer days. And there’s a time these efforts are needful.

6. But don’t lose balance. See #1. It’s up to you to manage your life so that the things that bring you joy continue to bring you joy—including writing.

7. Take time to laugh. In the middle of all this stress, a friend sent me two hilarious books. When I needed to blow off a little steam, all I had to do was open one of them to a random page and I’d be laughing within thirty seconds. It felt good.

8. Scrivener rocks. ‘Nuf said.

9. A whiteboard is your friend. This project was massive enough to require constant visual support. I now have a 4 x 6-foot whiteboard on one wall of my office. I used it to create an ever-growing map of the small-town setting for my story, and now I can think of a dozen other uses. It’s staying up.

10. You don’t know if you don’t try. I could have given you ten reasons it made sense to turn down this project, but I’m glad I didn’t. Now I know. I grew as a writer.

Whatever’s going on in your writing life, what lessons are you learning that will carry you forward?

Olivia Newport is the author of The Pursuit of Lucy Banning, The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow, The Invention of Sarah Cummings, Accidentally Amish, In Plain View, Taken for English, Hidden Falls and the forthcoming Wonderful Lonesome.

ACFW Author Spotlight – Sandy Nadeau

Sandy Nadeau headshot

Sandy Nadeau loves to go on adventures, photograph them and equally loves to write about them. She and her husband do a lot of four-wheeling in the back country of Colorado and share those experiences with others by taking them up in the mountains. With a background in writing a column about her community for a local newspaper, she also has had several magazine articles published. She loves to write novels about adventure, mystery, romance, but most importantly sharing God’s love. She is currently a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and Vice President of the ACFW South Denver Chapter. Married for 37 years, she and her husband are loving life as grandparents to their nine month old grandson. Travel is their favorite thing to do and they don’t get to do it as often as they’d like. Adventure awaits around every corner, over every hill and mountain.

Visit Sandy’s website for more information about her.


1. Writing is such a solitary activity. How do you balance the solitude with not becoming a hermit?

I actually like being a hermit sometimes. I still meet with writer friends regularly, monthly ACFW Chapter meetings, I have many church activities. Then there’s so many other things in life to distract. Where can I sign up for more hermit time?

 

2. The age-old question amongst writers: Mac or PC? Why do you think your choice is best?

I don’t know if mine is best, but it’s all I know. I’ve always worked on a PC. I’m comfortable with it and (sort of) understand it. It works for me so it’s no discussion on my part.

 

3. You have several family writing influences in your life. What have you learned from your mom and grandmother that has helped your own writer journey?

Write from the heart! Grandma shared what was in her heart up into her final years, my mom shares stories of her life that mean a lot to her. If it comes from my heart, then hopefully that will touch the reader’s heart. That’s my goal. When I read a great story, it leaves me so satisfied and happy. I love to close a book the final time with a smile on my face. If I can do that for one other person, I’ve accomplished much.

 

4. What writer’s conference or conferences would you recommend to newbie writers?

By far, the ACFW National Conference. You can’t beat the teaching, the networking, the opportunities and especially meeting new friends. At the Denver conference I met a gal there that we’ve now become very close friends and we so enjoy working on our writing together. Locally, I did the Colorado Christian Writer’s Conference about 9 times over the years, so obviously that one is good too. I’ve not made it to the many other wonderful conferences nationwide. I try to catch any day long ones that I can like the Pike’s Peak Annual conference held by the Worship, Write, Witness Colorado Springs Chapter of ACFW. That is always terrific!

 

5. What is the most interesting writing related story you have?

I would have to say, it was when I was writing a newspaper column about our community, Hollywood came to our small foothills town. Back then I was known for the cowgirl hat I wore in my byline photo. I headed down the hill to the main part of town. We have a very old motel along the main road going through our town. Today it holds shops. But back then, it was the perfect setting for a scene being shot for Perry Mason’s The Lady in the Lake. Not a long scene. Something about a chase leaving the motel. So anyway, I joined the town folks that were sitting on a rock wall across the two lane highway. The motel parking area was packed with movie personnel, cameras, equipment, lights, and excitement. The town was a buzz! I watched for a short time while I mustered up the nerve to walk over. After all, I “represented” the media. Locally anyway. I asked the first person I saw if I could interview someone about the taping. They took me over to one of the production assistants. He took me into the motel office area and we did the interview. It was fun. He was very nice and helpful. I saw the “stars” fairly close up. One extremely popular actor came into the office looking for his sunglasses. I felt that little flutter that comes up from excitement as he walked in. A real movie star. But I was quickly unimpressed when he glared at me assuming I must have stolen his glasses and made a snide remark about ridiculous fans wanting souvenirs. I was pretty shocked at his accusation. So I looked around on the desk, saw a pair partially under some papers and said, “You mean these?” I handed them to him. Funny how he didn’t have anything to say after that, he donned the shades and walked back out to the filming. I continued without missing a beat with my interview. The production guy’s eyes reflected an apology but I’m certain he must have dealt with that attitude a lot.

 

6. If you could co-author a book with any author, living or dead, who would you choose?

ACK, how do I choose? Tracie Peterson (I should have listened to her years ago when she encouraged me to join ACFW in the early days of the organization. She’s one of my writing heroes.), Dani Pettrey (I’ve fallen in love with her books. Adventures in Alaska. Gotta love that.), Colleen Coble, Janice Hanna Thompson, Sandie Bricker…And Stephen Bly. He’s gone now, but he was one of my most favorite Christian authors. Oh I bet you only wanted one. Can’t. Just can’t choose one. There’s so many terrific Christian authors out there.

 

7. What would you write about with the author in question 6?

Something wonderfully adventurous! With lots of mystery and romance and fun.

 

8. You have a book coming out on the 21st of this month. Tell us what Red Gold is about.

I’m so excited that this story doesn’t have to spend eternity in a drawer like another one (or two) I’ve written. I spent many years trying to get it published. I just love it. It’s a vicarious way to live out a dream my husband and I have had. We love Colorado, we adore the mountains, we go four-wheeling as often as we can, and we love to take visitors around to explore all this state has to offer. I put the dream into a story and it just kept developing. The story shows how God is with you in every situation to help you make it through. Mandy and her husband run an adventure ranch in the Colorado mountains. They want it to grow and expand to offer more for their guests, but they run into a lot of opposition from an old grouch of a neighbor, Mr. Shonee. When a lot of mysterious things begin to happen at the ranch, they don’t know if it’s him causing the trouble, or if something more sinister is going on. Somebody is sabotaging their efforts. Then a teenage guest ends up being flung into one dangerous situation after another. Mandy has to completely rely on her faith in God to save the girl, solve the mysteries surrounding their ranch, save Mr. Shonee from himself, and discover the secret to the Red Gold. What on earth is red gold you say? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Red Gold is due out on March 21, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

Member Monday: Spunk and Spirit Christian Writers Group

Kathy Brasby, President, Spunk and Spirit Christian Writers Group

spunkandspiritwriterslogo1Our next Spunk and Spirit Christian Writers Group meeting will feature something new for us: a write-in. We’ll have a time for brainstorming, which is often a great catalyst to jumpstart stalled writing, and also will have time to write.

Spunk and Spirit meets on Monday, March 17, from 6:30-8 pm at Life Fellowship in Fort Morgan.

Write-ins have proven to be creative and productive sessions for many writers and we’re going to see how this works for us as well.

Writers should bring your favorite writing device plus any resources, snacks, drinks you’d like to have for your own writing time.

In April, we have author Bonnie Doran with us to discuss writing conferences. She’ll have some practical and helpful ideas so hope you’ll plan to join us then, too.

Dues (only $10 a year) can be sent to our treasurer: Becky Brasby, 21267 Co. Rd. 20.5, Fort Morgan, CO 80701.  We welcome associate memberships at $5 a year, too.

You can connect with us at our website  http://spunkandspirit.acfwcolorado.com/ or  on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/spunkandspirit

Doing What You Hate to Do

Writing is such a love-hate relationship.

No matter who you talk to, you’ll find someone who loves to do what you dislike, and who hate what you love. And not loving every aspect of the writing journey is okay. I give you permission to dislike something. But that doesn’t mean you are now free to make your own rules, or to break the established rules, or to produce an inferior product. Perhaps the insight and information below will ease you through the ‘dislikes’ into the The End.

For example, some people hate plotting. They say it stifles the creativity, puts them in a  box where they don’t feel free to write. For me, I love plotting. And I’m not going to say you must plot or you absolutely don’t need to plot. The truth is, even those who say they don’t plot really do – in some dark part of their brain, they know where their story is going and how they’re going to get to the end. Plus, just about every publisher wants a synopsis, so even if you don’t plot in advance, you’ll do a plot outline at some point.

I do up a simple chart with however many chapters I think will be in the book, and I write a few words about each scene. Here’s a sample from a novel I wrote, “No Accounting for Murder”, book 1 in a mystery series:

1 – Introduction 2 3 4 5 – 1st inciting incident
Carly Turnquist; Town of Bear Cove; mention past mystery Solve past mystery; introduce nudist colony Introduce mayor’s mystery; introduce secondary characters Numbered company; missing money and time constraint Receives fax job offer; mayor won’t talk to her
6 7 8 9 10 – 2nd inciting incident:
Receive fax threat in response to turning down job; drive to Denise’s; accident Find out brake lines cut; meet police officer Examine bank statements; see mayor;Nearly pushed in harbor Continue investigating; call to bank about numbered company Introduce principal; meeting; get go-ahead to keep on looking for missing money; mayor dead
11 – Point of no return 12 13 14 15
Family threatened Mike agrees to help; talk to police officer; look at bank statements; was mayor’s death suicide/accident/murder? Return to Bear Cove; talk to Susan; introduce mayor’s gambling problem? Set up plant at post office; pull together notes; talk to mechanic; introduce development and dislike of mayor Coroner says mayor’s death murder; evidence mayor being blackmailed; get another threat
16 17 18 – Crisis 19 – Climax 20 – Resolution
Talk to mechanic about mayor’s car; Mike called away to client Carly calls police officer to check mileage on mayor’s car; Carly talks to real estate agent/friend Carly talks to suspects; she falls unconscious in house while Mike is gone Climax Carly taken to hospital; sets up news story for killer to try again Killer tries again and is caught; mayor’s wife returns stolen money; set up for next book.

As you can see, this outline is fairly open, not much detail, and leaves lots of room for the characters and my imagination to weave a story, while still resolving all the plot lines and keeping the action moving forward.

Another thing I often hear from writers is that they hate to revise. Okay. I confess. Me too. I would like to just sit and write the stories and let someone else do the revising. But the truth is, if I didn’t revise, I wouldn’t learn what works and what doesn’t. I wouldn’t understand the rules, which ones to break, and which ones to follow even if I don’t agree with them. I’d keep writing in the same style, and I’d probably find my voice wouldn’t change with the story. So how do I overcome this dislike? I make lists and tackle one thing at a time. I write down my characters’ physical traits and check that I’ve carried those through the book so my heroine doesn’t start out with blue eyes and end up with green ones. I do the same with my setting, treating it like a character so I don’t have Main Street crossing Water Street in one place and running parallel in another.

I have a list of ‘weasel words’, and I do a search one by one until I’ve eliminated most of them. Sometimes that requires simply taking the word out, or changing it. And sometimes I have to – gulp – rewrite a sentence. But the writing is always better for the investment of time. My list of weasel words has changed over time, as I’ve come to recognize that when I’m lazy, I fall into bad writing patterns, but here are a few of them:

It – describe what it is instead of saying it
Almost
Just
Just about
Nearly
Suddenly
Well
Wow
It goes without saying
It was obvious
Obviously
And – at the beginning of a sentence
All –ly adverbs

Anywhere there are two adjectives together – choose the better one, or choose another one.

The third complaint I’ve heard is about critique groups. Seems some writers have gotten into groups that just didn’t work for them. Or, most often, it’s a difference of opinion between the writer and one particular person in the group. That’s okay. As believers, we’re called to love everybody – we don’t have to like them or even do what they tell us.

How do I overcome differences of opinion from my critique group? I take each submission, consider who it’s from, and make changes according to the purpose of my story and my voice. If I have one person who says they don’t understand something, but the rest seem fine, I don’t make the change. But, if more than one person says they don’t understand, or the sentence is clunky, or the word is unfamiliar, I look at making a change. With an uncommon or foreign word, perhaps I can describe the object. For example, in another novel, “My Surrendered Heart”, I’m saying the rider threw the mochila over the saddle. Then I go on to describe: “The rider mounted his horse, effectively anchoring the two sets of saddlebags joined by a single sheet of leather beneath him.” Anybody who knows Pony Express history knows what a mochila is, and anybody who doesn’t, now has a picture of what it looks like. And the fact is, even if they don’t have a completely accurate picture, it doesn’t matter, so long as they understand the rider sits on it and it carries the mail.

Writing can be a lonely prospect, an intimidating process, and a questionable pursuit. But if you are called to write, if you are prepared to persevere, then you can become a writer who, while you may not enjoy every aspect of the process, will at least do what you need to make the story the best it can be.


Donna Schlachter writes historical romance, mysteries, and suspense. You can follow her on Facebook, and check out her blog at www.HiStoryThruTheAges.blogspot.com.