beginning, challenge, contests, discipline, encouragement, fiction, time management, writing, writing fun

Speedbo and Me

I am embarking on a new adventure this month and it is called SPEEDBO, hosted by the incredible ladies at Seekerville. If you have heard of NaNoWriMo or Book-in-A-Month, then you know what kind of adventure I am talking about.

SPEEDBO stand for Speed Book…I think. It is all about writing a book in a month, or at least write as much of a book in a month as you can. You set your daily word count. You don’t have to share if you met your daily goal. You just write the most you can, every day. Simple as that. I’ve even added a word count meter in the side bar…look to your right…to keep track of my progress for the month.

Stop by Seekerville’s blog HERE for instructions to sign up. Did I mention they have tons of prizes to dish out for those participating and commenting on the blog? Hmmmm, yeah…they are awesome like that.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up and be my accountability partner! 

contests, writing

Affirmation Station

I got a phone call Friday. I was away from my desk at the elementary school office where I work when I heard my cell phone ring. I ran to my desk and looked at the number. Long distance with no name. Since I only had one bar of “signal”, I ran out of the office and out the front doors, praying I’d get to answer before it quit ringing. Success! It was the Genesis Historical Romance Contest Coordinator calling to let me know I was a semi-finalist.

I squealed before she got finished. Kinda embarrassing. I even jumped into the air, which would have been really embarrassing if a parent had showed up and seen my display. But that would have been okay. Celebrating is a good thing. But the best thing about a contest win is the affirmation.

Affirmation: The assertion that something exists or is true.

So often we question our calling to write. Are we real writers? Do we have what it takes? Is what we put on paper drivel? Are we like those American Idol contestants who think they can sing, but really can’t? 

But really, we don’t need a contest win to tell us we are on the right track. God is our Affirmation Station. He is the one we get our worth from. He is the one whose opinion really matters. If He has called you, He will send you little affirmations along the way…

You get a note in the mail from an online friend, encouraging you in your writing. Someone leaves a comment on your blog, thanking you for what you had to say that day. You finish a chapter and feel God’s pleasure in it–you know it is good. 

While a contest win is great affirmation, it’s not the ultimate affirmation. Judging is subjective and the next round of judges may hate my writing. You just never know.  Many go on to make the SALE without finaling in a contest. Katie Ganshert’s post today speaks of this very thing.  

For those of you who didn’t final, check out The Writer’s Alley for some  Post-Contest Blues C.H.O.C.O.L.A.T.E.

And for those of you who did final, check out tomorrow’s post at The Writer’s Alley for a tongue-in-cheek checklist for celebrating your semi-final.

How have you been affirmed lately? It doesn’t have to be writing related!   

contests, God

When God Whispers…

 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” 
 Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  1 Kings 19:11-12

He whispered. God whispered and I heard.

There is something beautiful about the Creator of the heavens and Earth connecting with you. Interacting with you. Giving you affirmation. It is a humbling thing. 

I have been plagued with doubts and paralyzed with fear in regards to my writing. I had convinced myself that my manuscript was rubbish. It’s my first. Of course it is the stink of the world. It is riddled with beginner mistakes: passive beyond belief, little description, POV issues. You name it, it’s there. I was so frozen with fear that I quit editing it. I gave up.

And then God whispered. 

He allowed me to have the humbling privilege of winning first place in the historical category of the Touch By Love Contest, put on by the Faith, Hope, & Love Chapter of RWA. I admit to being completely blown away. I was just so honored to have finaled. I know that sounds so trite, but it is completely true.

I felt as if God pushed back the hair from my face, leaned in close, and whispered, “I believe in you.”

What greater motivation do I need to put fingers to the keyboard, my behind in the chair, and just write the stories He’s placed in my heart?

Thank you, Father, for your sweet whispers of love. May I be mindful of your whispers in the wind and be willing to step out in faith to do what you have encouraged me to do. I love you so.

contests, scores

Digesting Genesis Scores

I received my scoresheets from the second contest I entered, The Genesis, which was sponsored by the American Christian Fiction Writers Association. Overall I was happy with the scores. It was the equivalent of an A and two C’s. Two C’s, you might ask? Well, yes. For someone not expecting to final, for someone entering their very first manuscript into a contest, I would say those are pretty good scores!

It was so interesting to go through and read the comments made by the three judges. Some had some very detailed and helpful critiques that will definitely make my story stronger and more alive. It seems I struggle with backstory and info dumping. It’s funny, because I had people read my story and say they were confused at the beginning and needed more background. Hhhmmmm. There’s got to be a balance, don’t you think?

There were a few comments that I thought were subjective. I know there is a wide variety of thought regarding what is appropriate for CBA. What is acceptable is changing fast and really, it all depends on the publisher you choose to target.

What I thought most interesting is the difference in the scoring between the Genesis and the Touch By Love contest, in which I finaled. The Genesis only accepts the first 15 pages of manuscript, while the TBL accepted 30 pages. I wondered if I would have done better in the Genesis if judges could have kept reading. One judge in the TBL told me my first chapter needed work, so most likely it really does! (I believe this is where the backstory and info dumping factors in.)

So as I begin to continue editing this book of mine, I will take the judges comments and sift through them, implementing the suggestions that seem to come from more than one judge. I will make the changes that make sense and make my story tighter and I will ignore the ones that seem to be more opinion than helpful facts.

I’ve decided I really like contests. They are a good way to get feedback and in some cases, get validation on this writing venture. I’m not going to enter any more this year, but will focus on making this story shine and hopefully begin a new and fresh stroy this summer.

What is the one thing you love about contests? The thing you dislike?