Music Monday: Back to Reality

Hey everyone! I just spent the better part of last week at ACFW. American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. It was jam-packed with old and new friends, appointments, classes, food, fellowship, worship, and so much more.

Days of someone cleaning my room and washing my towels. Food being placed in front of me. Now that I’m home it’s back to reality. Yes, my sweet husband had the house spotless, sheets, towels, and my kids’ clothes washed. So all I had to do is come home and relax. But this week it’s back to routine. I’m washing clothes, towels, and cleaning…and my inbox is huge.

It’s time to focus and get back to writing after being off-kilter. In order to do that I have a time of prayer and worship to relax and get my mind in a place of submissive posture to the Lord. This song has really  touched my heart and recharged me for routine.

 

I write for the Great I AM. I am because of the Great I AM. Need to get back to reality and refocus after a busy week? Doesn’t matter if it was a conference, a crisis, unexpected financial burden, or the kids just went sideways a few days. Remember, this life isn’t about us but Him. Rest in the words of this song and recharge!

What songs do you listen to that seem to refocus and recharge you?

 

photocredit: freedigitalphotos(dot)net/aechan

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How To Have Olympic Writing Motivation – Tips from Bronze Medalist Dana Vollmer’s Story

Photo by lotus head

Photo by lotus head

The writing journey can be a roller coaster of ups and downs. It is hard to stay motivated at different times along the way, but we are not alone in chasing a dream.

Bronze Medalist Dana Vollmer is a dreamer just like us. Her story of coming back to win a Bronze medal in the 100 Butterfly after having a baby inspires me. Looking at her story, made me think of what takeaway I can learn from her experience.

More than anything I wanted to figure out How To Have Olympic Writing Motivation on my journey. Here are a few tips from her story.

How To Have Olympic Writing Motivation – Tips from Bronze Medalist Dana Vollmer’s Story:

Vollmer spent two months on bedrest in the final trimester of her pregnancy. Her son Arlen was born in March 2015. Six weeks later she showed up at the University of California, Berkeley pool with baby and nanny in tow to start swimming again.

*After being sidelined on the journey SHOW UP. Vollmer got back into the pool to work on her dream. Whether it is planting yourself in your writing chair and setting a timer, or going to a writing workshop, get back to work. Even if you only write one thousand words a day it becomes five thousand by the end of the week.

“I’ve always had to set extremely lofty goals,” she said. “So to come back and say that I wanted to race Sarah Sjöström, that’s setting it at the absolute top bar. Just having each of the little steps, I felt like I really appreciated every day, not knowing if I was going to be able to get there.”

*Set the bar high when setting long term goals. Dana Vollmer recognized the importance of reaching for a long term goal that was sure to be a challenge. Reach for big goals that are measurable in some way. You cannot control winning a Christy, but you can control finishing your novel or several.

*Set small steps in between. The big goal is something we aim for, but the everyday small steps are what get us there. Be sure you have the short term goals in place for success. Weekly and daily goals are helpful.

*Celebrate each day of the journey with its own challenges. Part of the beauty of the writing journey is the process of getting to the big goal. Let yourself celebrate and enjoy each milestone.

Which Olympian inspires you?

 

 

3 Tips To Showcase A Likable Character From Finding Dory

Photo by talktofrank

Photo by talktofrank

When I was in middle school, one of the boys had a shaggy green mohawk that flopped over the sides of his shaved head. To this day I remember him. He stood out in my mind.

The characters in our novels should stand out from other characters if we are to leave an impression on readers. Dory from Finding Nemo was so beloved they decided to make another movie based on this character.

What can we learn from Dory? Let’s take a peak:

Isn’t the tiny Dory adorable, too?

3 Tips To Showcase A Likable Character From Finding Dory:

  1. Make the character’s flaw endearing. Notice how Dory’s inability to remember things in this early clip makes her look cute, not annoying. It is important to show flaws in a positive light for readers to love a character in spite of, or even because of their flaws.
  2. Make the character’s flaw something we can relate to. In the case of Dory, she struggles with short term memory loss. This is a common problem for many elderly and also those who have been through a traumatic brain injury. It is something that we can relate to as we see it happen to those around us and we are empathetic because of the difficulty it can cause in their lives.
  3. Show the character trying to overcome their flaws. Dory is trying to practice what to do in order to overcome her struggle with short term memory. For her, making friends might be difficult because she just can’t remember who they are and that can have a crushing impact on her relationships. To overcome this, she is practicing how to play with other children.

Characters who stick out in our memories leave lasting impressions. Try these 3 Tips To Showcase A Likable Character From Finding Dory in your novel.

What are some of your favorite flawed Characters?

Music Monday: Summer is Over

“Summer lovin’ happened so fast…Summer heat boy and girl meet…” You’re singing it now aren’t you? That famous song from the musical GREASE. “Summer Nights.”

Something about summer love gets the romantic juices in my heart flowing. Growing up, I loved to watch movies and read books about love that happened in the summer. Summer camps. Summer jobs.

Watching sunsets at the lake. Picnicing and stealing kisses under a shady tree. Wiping, ever so slowly, the dot of ice cream from her nose. Gazing at stars from a blanket.

But summer ends.

That’s why I love romances. It’s not about what will happen in the end. In a true romance we know that come fall…or winter…their love will become lasting. They’ll find their way back to one another. Like Danny and Sandy. Like Ronald Miller and Cindy Mancini (Can’t Buy Me Love). Like Johnny Castle and Baby Houseman (Dirty Dancing). Like Noah Calhoun and Allie Hamilton (The Notebook). And many more couples who fell in love in summer and the end of summer (and other factors) ended their love affair.

I happen to love this song about summer ending. Tragic. Romantic. All the feels. It gives me ideas galore on a story premise of summer love…ending…but of course happily ever after at the end!

Have you read a book about summer love that has stuck with you? Or what about a movie? A favorite summer love one you care to share? PS My kids go back to school this Wednesda! Ack. Summer is OVER. I’m crying in my milk here.

photocredit: freedigitalphotos/Suriya Kankliang

How To Create Believable Character Change

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Picture by Bensik lmeri

Have you ever met Supermom? You know, the mom who knows everything about being mom of the year and makes you look like you belong at amateur week?

Yeah. I’ve met her too. She is the one who I sweat bullets over becoming like, only to fall miserably on my face.

Face plant. That’s me.

If I were to take apart her journey, she probably didn’t get her Supermom status over night. There had to be some smaller steps along the way. No one can be that amazing instantly.

In fact, I bet she even failed at some time or another. Whew, that makes me feel a bit better.

Real life teaches us that talent and experience blend together to create change or growth in our lives. Our characters should grow the same way if their change is to be believable.

How To Create Believable Character Change:

*Define the clear start and end points. To show our character’s change we must identify where they are starting and ending. Then the midpoints are more easily defined.

*Identify small growth steps between the beginning and end points. People change in baby steps. The person who is terrified of water, won’t all of the sudden be an expert swimmer without first getting in the water and practicing.

*Identify small failures and obstacles that they overcome before complete transformation. If a character is not challenged as they reach for the end result, the reader does not value the change and it will make no impact on their lives as they read.

Example:

Lily struggles to trust anyone to do some of the homework in their group assignments. She can’t afford to get anything less than an “A”.

Here is what I might do to plot the change:

Start point– Lily will not let anyone else take home project work.

Midpoint– Lily lets someone take home project work, but checks it and makes changes before turning it in.

End Point– Lily lets someone else take home project work and trusts them enough to turn it in without checking their work.

Failures/Obstacles- Lily loses points because she did all of the work herself on the first project, Lily discovers she doesn’t know everything- changes something incorrectly on the project, and another one could be that her team mates resent her for taking control.

This is a simple example of how this might work. Think through the progression of how a character changes in your story. Make sure it is a logical progression and has baby steps.

Marlin in Finding Nemo is one of my favorite character change examples.

What is one of your favorite character changes in a book or movie?

How To Create A Character Readers Will Love – Adorably Flawed

photo by Sue Byford

photo by Sue Byford

Best friends are never perfect. If they were, we wouldn’t consider them a best friend. Who wants to sit across the table from a friend who reminds us of all of the things we fail at?

Characters are much like a best friend for the reader. They spend hours with them while they read our novels. They want the hero/heroine to be someone they like.

How to create a character readers will love is not easy, but completely attainable. Authors must strike a balance between someone our readers would like to be similar to and yet who is flawed enough for us to love.

There is also that twist of uniqueness that readers enjoy.

Mix it all together in the right blend and you will create a character that readers will love. Not simple, but here are some tips that will help.

How To Create A Character Readers Will Love:

*Make them do admirable things. The whole James Scott Bell‘s save the dog, pet the cat strategy comes in to play here. Early in the story the hero/heroine should do things that make them admirable, but also remember to continue this going forward. If readers start to get annoyed at all of the things the hero/heroine does, readers will give up on them.

*Make them do and say things readers might want to do or say. I learned this strategy from Susan May Warren through My Book Therapy. Readers love it when characters say something they’ve always wanted to say, or do something they’ve always wanted to do. It is in effect living vicariously through the character.

*Create similarities between the reader and the character. Best friends usually have something in common, or they would have nothing to connect about. The same is true of reader and hero/heroine. A love of chocolate, pets, coffee, or other hobbies can draw a reader and character together. Likewise a dislike of similar things can draw a reader and character together.

*Create flaws in the character that readers will relate to. The flaws seen in the character should be flaws that readers recognize in themselves or those around them. The flaws should not outweigh the good qualities in the character. If the flaw focused on is particularly annoying, limit the number of flaws you give them. Using the flaws to create humor often makes them adorable.

*Create Uniqueness that stands out. Build some unique skills, experiences, or qualities in your character to create greater interest in your reader. This uniqueness may also add surprises and fun learning for readers.

Who is your favorite character in a book or movie?

 

Music Monday:All About the Heartbreak

Well, after seven years, my debut novel (I have 4 novellas out through indie publishing) with Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense has released. Fatal Reunion is out in stores and at any online retailer. It’s been a wild ride, one I’m so grateful for. God is faithful. If you’re a writer and waiting for the call to come, hold on, hang in. Trust God. If it’s a God-given dream, He’ll bring it to pass.

So celebrate with me today! Cyber chocolate for everyone!

Piper Kennedy and Luke Ranson (my hero/heroine) were once a couple but torn apart by betrayal. When writing one of the most emotional scenes in the book, this song really touched and tugged my heart. I felt the knot. Their pain ballooning in my chest. They were supposed to have forever. But forever didn’t happen for them. A lot of things got in the way. In one moment. One naive choice. One misunderstanding bathed in copious amounts of pride, forever was ripped from them.

But God.

Doesn’t it always come down to that? God. Giving second chances, mercy, grace. Offering forgiveness and love beyond anything we could ever measure.

Man, I love this song. His voice. The melody. The lyrics. It was instrumental (pardon the pun or don’t) in helping me write that heartbreaking scene. The one where it looks like forever is once again gone.

What’s a song you consider heartbreaking? Share in the comments and if you want, leave a YouTube link! 

Fatal reunion front cover no large print icon

WRONGLY ACCUSED

When her beloved grandmother is almost killed during a home invasion, Piper Kennedy isn’t surprised that she’s a suspect—especially since Luke Ransom is on the case. The handsome detective she once loved thinks she knows more than she’s telling about the attack. And given her crooked past and the heartbreaking way she’d been forced to betray Luke years ago, Piper understands why he doesn’t trust her. But when attempts are made on her life, Luke insists on keeping her safe and finding out who wants her dead. And Piper and Luke soon realize a remorseless criminal will do anything to keep them from the truth…or an unexpected second shot at a future.

Buy Fatal Reunion: 

Amazon

Harlequin

B&N