Tuesday, June 28, 2016

My Publishing Journey - Part Two. By Deanna Fugett

Publishing Journey - Part Two

The waiting game is hard.

While waiting on edits, my wonderful publisher was sweet enough to get the cover started, and completely surprised me with it. I had a minor freak out moment, to say the least.

I mean, a cover is a BIG deal.

This is the moment all authors dream about, and wait for. The moment where it feels like their book is REALLY a REAL book.

It hit me like a tidal wave of emotions. It became more real to me. Then my fears started rolling in.
“My book won’t be good enough. Everyone will hate it. I won’t make any sales. My friends will shun me when they see what a sham I am.” Suddenly, with a cover image in my hands, I was a ball of nerves.

“This is really happening. I’m really going to be an author. I’m really going to have my work out there for people to see it, and criticize it, and give me one star reviews, and tell me I’m stupid on Amazon for the whole world to see and judge me. Am I ready for this crazy ride? Am I tough enough, strong enough? Can I really pull this off?”

All these fears that MOST writers have before signing the contract, I was suddenly having after the fact. I guess I’m a bit slow. I never understood all the writers’ fears up until now. And it’s hitting me like a bag full of rusty nails.

Ok, maybe not quite that painful.

As you can imagine, this negative mind frame was probably not what my publisher was expecting. It sure wasn’t what I was expecting following a cover design for my baby (my book). But I guess I hadn’t gone through all the proper emotions and phases that authors/writers typically do.

I needed to go through the scared phase.

Heck, I’m still in it.

I hadn’t been scared before. I had been overly confident and cocky. Maybe God needed to slap me down a few pegs. Maybe I needed the humbling experience before the review wolves come out to ravage my tender soul. Maybe God’s trying to toughen me up. Prepare me.

Maybe God knew I needed to be in a weak place to fully accept his guiding hands during this whole experience.

When we are weak then He is strong.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV) 

Well, guess what God? You got my attention. And I humbly grasp your hand as I prepare to walk this journey of publication with you.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you. Let me use these moments of weakness for Your Glory, Lord. Thank you for being my strength.  

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14 (NIV)

If you are in the middle of your own publishing journey, please tell us in the comments below how God has used your own personal journey to shape and mold you. 

Click on the video above. A beautiful message and song that touched my heart today. God is so good to give you just the right words and songs when you need them. Thank you Jesus! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

ACFW Genesis Finalist - Jebraun Clifford

Jebraun Clifford has made it to the ACFW Genesis FINALISTS! 

We celebrated with her a bit ago when she hit the semi-finalist list, and now we continue to celebrate her next success as a finalist in this year's 2016 writing competition. 
Way to go Jebraun! We wish you all the best, and sincerely hope you will place in first at the ACFW conference this year. 


Monday, June 13, 2016

Sarah Monzon's Finders Keepers ~ GIVEAWAY

I had the opportunity to interview Sarah Monzon, bestselling author of The Isaac Project. She recently released her second novel, Finders Keepers (A Carrington Family Novel, Book 1) Trent Carrington and Summer Arnet stopped by too! =)

Sarah, we are delighted to have you, and congratulations on your second novel, Finders Keepers. Let's get started on those questions, shall we?

Lucy:     This is your second novel, would you mind telling us if publishing Finders Keepers was any different from publishing The Isaac Project? Was it easier? Any nerve-wrecking, nail biting experiences?
Sarah:            It was definitely different. Some aspects were harder and some were easier. The nausea induced from releasing the books into the big, wide world was the same for both, however. Worrying about how my baby was going to be received. Worrying if readers will love and relate to the characters, if they will be gripped by the story. I’m one hot mess of vulnerability.
Lucy:         We all need a hero! Tell us about Trent? Was there a real-life inspiration behind him?
Sarah:           Oh, Trent. Where do I even begin? He’s a heart stopper, that one. He has a laid-back, devil-may-care air about him with a hint of danger and adventure. His too-long hair, tattoo, leather jacket, and Harley encompasses his bad-boy, ladies’-man persona. Although he was raised in a Christian home, tragedy from his childhood has rocked his faith.
            Was there a real-life inspiration for Trent? No, not really. Although when I was writing a lot of the scenes between him and Summer, especially his flirtatious bantering, I would ask myself, “What would Jose have said?” (Jose is my husband and he was a HUGE flirt/ladies’-man when I first met him).

Lucy:        We love a heroine we can relate to! Any real-life inspiration behind Summer?
Sarah:           I think every character has a bit of me in them. Summer has a bit more than most. I don’t outline or have a complete story in mind as I write, it just comes as the story develops, so I was surprised when Summer was telling me her story (yes, my characters speak to me…don’t call the crazy house!).  I was surprised because Summer’s story is so similar to my own. Summer was conceived from a one-night stand and raised by an amazing single mom. She was grew-up with a daddy-sized whole in her life and that shaped a lot of decisions she made. For me, I was conceived from an affair my mom had when she was separated from a bad marriage (God’s grace from a mistake is what my mama calls me), and then raised me and my older brother by herself. While I at times yearned for that father-figure, I always knew I had a Heavenly Father who loved me and could literally feel his arms wrap around me in times of need and pain.

Lucy:         What was your favorite part to write and why?
Sarah:            Can I say all of it? Is that a cop-out? It’s true though. I had so much fun with Summer and Trent and their bantering. On the flip side, Isabella’s story is full of adventure and fast-paced and action-packed.

Lucy:         You obviously did a lot of research, anything interesting you want to share?
Sarah:           Google and YouTube are life savers. Seriously. I can’t imagine writing a book without those resources at my fingertips.

Lucy:        Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?
Sarah:            God is your father. He has adopted you into His family. He loves you and He wants to call you son/daughter.

Lucy:         What are your future projects?
Sarah:            Finders Keepers is the first in a four book series. Each book in the series will feature on of the Carrington siblings. The next story, All of You, will feature Michael Carrington.

Hi Trent, so happy to have you here on our blog.

You’re a modern treasure hunter, any misconceptions you
want to clear about your career?

First and foremost, I am not a pirate. No matter how many times Summer says otherwise. No one benefits from artifacts that are hidden away. I find the treasure and people can learn more about past cultures and history. It doesn’t hurt if the finds line my pockets.

2.    Why did you choose your career?

I’ve always been interested in history and inspired by men like Ponce de Leon. Men who weren’t afraid to push boundaries, have adventures, and discover new worlds. Plus, it helps that I have won every scavenger hunt I’ve ever participated in. Drove my sibling crazy growing up.

3.    What’s been your favorite travel destination?
      I have a keen fondness for the Bahamas. I don’t kiss and tell.. oh, who am I kidding? The tropical moon is part particularly magic to steal a few kisses under.

4.    Are you an adrenaline junkie / daredevil?

I like to live life to the fullest. I work hard, play hard, and love hard. I don’t think that makes me a daredevil, do you?

5.    What do you like to do in your spare time? With whom? Trent your Harley doesn’t count ;)
I’ve been doing a whole lot more scuba diving than I ever have in the past. And I think you can guess with whom. ;)
6.   Are you in love with Summer Arnet?
      Does the sun rise in the east and set in the west? Does the moon control the tides?

7.    What does God mean to you?
Summer has come to show me that God is my heavenly Father. I’ve heard that phrase my whole life, and I used to roll my eyes whenever I heard my parents say it, but it’s true. I still have a long way to go, but instead of blaming God for some unfortunate events, I’m learning to trust Him.

And now, Summer's turn! (You look a little worried, Trent? Hehehe)

Summer, I’m so glad you agreed to this interview!

What are you most proud of about your life, personal and professional.

I must say I was fairly bursting with excitement to finally see my name with the photo credit in Our World. Years of hard work and dreaming finally paid off. Of course Trent’s sunken ship didn’t hurt either. Tabitha Michael’s really loved those pictures.

When you wake up in the morning, what’s the first thing you do?

Coffee. Must. Have. Coffee. I cannot function without it. Seriously. Don’t even try to talk to me before that first cup.

You’re taking a road trip – what music do you listen to?

Summer: I love some Adele and Michael Buble. Don’t judge.

What makes you angry?

Injustice. Human trafficking. Racism. Political corruption. Bullying. Child hunger. Oh, was I only supposed to pick one thing? I could go on and on.

Do you have any physical insecurities?

I never liked all my freckles. It’s a common companion to the red hair, but I always wished I had a less speckled complexion.

What was the first thing you noticed (physically) of Trent? (Heheheheheh)

Ugh. Is Trent around here anywhere? His ego is big enough as it is without hearing us dish about him. I can already picture his self-confident smirk. Oh well, he already knows when I first saw him I thought he resembled a Norse god. Let that one slip one time and he never lets me forget it.

What does God mean to you?

Because of my personal history, growing up without a dad in my life, the role of God as my father really resonates with me. After yearning all my life for that father figure, to finally have found one in the Creator…I’m sorry, can I have a tissue? *sniff*

 About the book:

​"1698, Spain
The same evil that stole her mother’s life stalks Isabella Castellano. Afraid for her safety and with no one to help her, Isabella disguises herself as a cabin boy and hires on to one of His Majesty’s treasure fleet vessels. But has her flight from a known threat only led her to be ensnared in a sea of dangers?
Present Day, Florida
Summer Arnet will go anywhere to capture the perfect shot that will get her marine photography noticed by the prestigious natural magazine, Our World—even diving in waters haunted by Great White sharks. When a treasure hunter with a ladies’ man reputation approaches her about a sunken ship at one of her past dive locations, it might be the chance she’s been looking for to launch her career…if his charming smile doesn’t derail her first. 

A past tragedy has left a hole in Trent Carrington’s life—a hole he’s tried to fill with women, money, and adventure. Could the feisty marine photographer be the missing piece or will Trent finally accept that the treasure he seeks can’t be found where rust and moths destroy? Three lives. Three hundred years. One ship that ties them together." 

Author Bio:

Sarah Monzon is a pastor’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world.  Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters.  When she isn’t in the world of make believe, she can be found in a small desert town in central Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.

Want to win a Kindle version of Sarah's novel? Of course you do!
All you have to do is leave a comment, with your email address to stand a chance.
Winner will be notified via email on June 18th.

Be blessed

To avoid spam, please leave your email in the following format : Name(at)gmail(dot)com

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Five Reasons Why Writers Should Keep a Journal

By Robin

Blogging last week about the value of keeping a journal has me thinking this week about how important journaling is to the writer. 

It can take lots of forms. It need not be expensive or romantic. You don't need a leather bound volume and a fountain pen, or copious hours to devote to it. Unless you like that sort of thing. Then, by all means, go for it. But a 50 cent spiral notebook from Walmart and a Bic pen work too. Or the envelope of a piece of junk mail, and a broken crayon you found on the floorboard of the car is just as good.

Whatever form it takes, it's a good practice for many reasons.

Here are my top 5.

1. Preservation. If you played video games in the 90's, you saw these words on the screen when you tried to power off the Nintendo: "Everything not saved will be lost." It's true, and don't think for a second that you will remember that perfect line of dialogue that came to you while you were driving, or showering, or grocery shopping. It will be gone, like a dandelion puff, blown away to who-knows-where. You won't even remember that you wanted to remember. Use your smartphone, or keep a pad of paper in your purse, or even a napkin in your glove box. I've been known to utilize them all as makeshift journals. 

Don't let those wonderful bursts of creativity go to waste because you didn't have a way to preserve them until you could sit down at the computer and work them into your MS. You'll thank yourself when you open your journal later and find all sorts of crazy things sticking out of it, on which your creative gems have been saved.

2. Practice. Practice. Practice. Every May my kids bring home a writing journal they've kept since the beginning of the school year, and they always cringe to see their work from last August. "I can't believe I used to write like that!" they cry, embarrassed. And for a while, it will be embarrassing to see the misspellings, the crooked, ill-formed letters, and the terrible grammar, given what they know now. But after some time passes, they will look back on that old, simplistic work, and be fond of it. They will understand more clearly the growth that occurred, and they will appreciate having this artifact from their youth. It's proof of how far they've come, and how hard they worked even before they knew everything there was for a 2nd grader to know. It's proof of their mind, their hand, and their imagination. It becomes a treasure. The same is true for us who write.

3. Precision. Sometimes I don't know what I think until I see my own words on a page in front of me. Last year I decided my MS was ready to query (it wasn't, but that's a topic for another blog post). Nevertheless, I had to do something I'd been dreading: write the blurb. Every writer hates writing blurbs. It's universally painful to condense your 80,000 word baby into a 75 word summary. Staring at that blinking cursor on a blank white page, I panicked. I didn't know what my story was really about. I was so consumed with minute details, character arcs, and plot twists, I couldn't pull my head out of it long enough to say: This is who my MC is, this is what happens to her, and this is what's at stake. So, I did what I do. I clicked the computer off, sat down in my comfy chair, and opened my journal. I wrote about stories I liked, and what I liked about them; political things that had been on my mind; I copied down a bit of commentary I'd read recently which sounded like something my MC's father would say. Basic rambling stuff. Then something amazing happened about 3/4 of the way down the second page. I wrote this:
The church and state had united as a colossal tyrant over [my characters]. Failure to yield meant persecution, imprisonment, and death. Yet they resisted. They endured. This is what my story is about. It's about the child of a people who will not conform, a girl who wonders, "Why not conform? Life is better, easier, more pleasant for those who conform." The reader must ache for her to join her family on the Mayflower, to resist the urge to be a mindless, state-approving, acquiescing drone. The reader must learn, not only about history, but about herself, her place in time. She must come to the conclusion: I will not be coerced into believing what "they" (secular society) say is true. Even if they accuse me of "thoughtcrime." Even if they persecute me. I will rise up in defense of my conscience, my freedom.
Boom. A blurb was born in the pages of my writing journal.

4. Posterity. Most people think what they say today will never matter to anyone years from now. But anyone who's unearthed an old sack of letters, or read a crumbling, fading diary knows that's a lie. My grandmother-in-law, knowing my love of old things, gave me one of my greatest treasures. It's a tiny "Five Year Diary" kept by her grandmother-in-law, a woman named Rose. She wrote in it nearly every day from 1944-1948, mostly in pencil, and mostly about waxing the floors, ironing, attending funerals, and going to town. I love to see her handwriting, the places where she erased or crossed out words, the math problem she did on the corner of one page, and the list on the back page of enlisted Scobee men, and where they were stationed. It's a glimpse into another time, and a look inside this woman's life, but it's only a partial view which sends my imagination screaming down the path of story after story. 

Perhaps my own journals will eventually decompose in a box unread, but perhaps, seventy years from now, a great-great granddaughter will discover the words of this faithful woman who was passionate about story-telling. Perhaps she will read my thoughts as I walked this writing journey, my ups and downs, my frustrations, my prayers, my perseverance, my despondency, and my hope. Perhaps she will love them as much as I love Rose's words. Perhaps it's reason enough to keep a writing journal.

5. Purity. Nothing written for an audience is truly pure. The words we write for others tend to be biased, pompous, and pretentious. They're written to impress, beguile, entertain, and show off. Journaling is different. It's private. Truthful. Raw. It's our guts dumped out and splayed across the page, messy, sloppy, dirty, offensive, maybe even bloody. These are the kinds of pages you want to take out back and burn after you write them (please don't--they won't appear quite so bloody after some time has passed, I promise). It's therapeutic to write this way. It's like setting down a heavy bag you've been carrying a long time. You can stand up a little straighter after the weight of the words is out of you. You can look ahead and see more clearly where you're going, and why you're still following the same thread. 

Writing this way has preserved in me the ability to write the other way, you know, with the pre-planned chapters breaks, contrived obstacles, and lessons learned. That's the writing you edit and revise until your head is about to explode. That writing is for others. It's writing that entertains. For me, one kind of writing begets the other, enables the other, feeds off the other, and that's reason enough to keep a writing journal.

There are a thousand more reasons for writers to keep a writing journal! What are yours? Tell us in the comments.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

How to Keep on Writing!

I've been enjoying a creative flow recently. It's been wonderful to sit down at my computer and have scenes and conversations come out of my fingertips effortlessly. It's been a long, dry season of over a year for me where I found it hard to be inspired. Everything I wrote felt flat and forced. I had bursts of happy, busy moments but nothing as sustained as the latest jag I've experienced. It did get me thinking though: how did I get over my writer's block? Is there anything I could've done to snap out of it quicker? What takeaway points do I have from this experience? Is there anything I could do to promote longevity as a writer?
Here's the number one discovery I stumbled upon about the writing process and my own struggle with writer's block: 
Writers need refreshment
And we need it from positive sources! Unfortunately, there's a persistent stereotype out there of the suffering artist who can only create in the midst of angst. I don't believe that is true. Instead, writers (like all artists) need to be restored into wholeness. We need inspiration from positive sources. We need to be constantly filled with good stuff, so that we can pour out good stuff. Being filled with suffering and angst--and wallowing in it--is not going to bring about art that will encourage others. And that's what I want to do. I want whatever I write to be enjoyable, uplifting, encouraging. Sure, I want to make people think, I want to write about deep themes, but most of all, I want people to walk away from whatever I've written and believe themselves to be better for reading it.
How do we get refreshed?
First of all, get outside! 
Go for a walk, go to the beach or forest. Look at the stars, roll in autumn leaves or revel in spring flowers (depending what hemisphere you're in!) There's something about getting out in the middle of creation that soothes our soul and takes us higher. I've rarely come away from some time outside and not felt richer from the experience
Another strategy I discovered was to immerse myself in great literature. 
Not just the classics, mind you, but some of the popular and well-written novels of today that are in my genre. I even read some that were completely opposite from what I write! I rolled sentences around in my head, admired a perfect description, laughed over witty conversations (was possibly green with author-envy of some particular jewels!), and came out of the many books I read as a more confident writer. To be a great writer, we've got to be great readers! So head to your local library, stock up your Kindle, buy out a bookstore. Well, maybe not that last one ;-) I also watched a few TV shows and movies that really helped me see story structure, and how to leave an audience begging for more. I may or may not have binge-watched certain shows because I could not stop wanting to know what happened next! Now, that's great writing!
Finally, we can turn to our writing community. 
I've found such support and encouragement from fellow writers, especially the women I blog with (here's a big shout-out to Robin, Deanna, and Lucy--you gals ROCK!) Critique groups are great to keep you motivated as well. And I seriously can't wait to go to my first writers' conference in August. Something about being around the people who 'get you' makes us feel good, doesn't it? We realise we're not alone, there are other crazies who stay up way past midnight because they've got to get this piece of dialogue just right or have to rewrite this scene because there's too much 'tell' and not enough 'show.' If you're not part of a group or guild, I'd encourage you to get involved. Even one person who writes and can be there to support you will make a huge difference!
So that's me. I've put down 25,000 words in 2 1/2 weeks which is a personal best, and I credit much of this to the advice I've put down. It's been a hard slog to get to this point, but I'm thankful for the lessons I've learned. 
Be blessed,

What about you? What do you do when you hit the writing wall? And what are your hints for longevity?