Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Beginnings and Endings by Diana Flegal

Tomorrow a New Year begins. I, being a true optimist, always look forward to the turning of December’s calendar page to January. Fresh starts, new opportunities to balance work and pleasure, and improve valued relationships await me.

Ecclesiastics tells us, ‘to every thing there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven’.

Nick Honerkamp, lead Pastor of New Covenant Church in Clyde, N.C. believes the turning of the calendar to a New Year has great significance and can change everything. “In order to have the energy you will need in 2015; we must make a withdrawal from 2014.”

What small thing can you bring from 2014 into the New Year, or what small adjustments can we make that will improve the new year’s outcome? 

Some writers chose a word for the New Year. I’ve had hope, and another year, courage.

You might consider adopting a quote you can apply to your 2015 writing journey. One that addresses an area you are weak in perhaps, or something inspiring you’ve pulled from a favorite writing resource. Here are a few for your consideration.

“Contrary to what many of you may imagine, a career in letters is not without its drawbacks- chief among them the unpleasant fact that one is frequently called upon to sit down and write.”                                                                                                             Fran Lebowitz

“Technique alone is never enough. You have to have passion. Technique alone is just an embroidered pot holder.”                                                               Raymond Chandler

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”                                       E. L. Doctorow

“The only important thing in a book is the meaning it has for you.”                                                                                                   W. Somerset Maugham

 “Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down.”                                    John Steinbeck                                                                                                                       

“The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first.”

  Blaise Pascal 

 “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”           
                                                                                                              Jack London

Good novels are not written, they are rewritten. Great novels are diamonds mined from layered rewrites.”                                                                              Andre Jute

We are not old until our regrets replace our dreams.
                                                                                               Yiddish Proverb

“One thing that helps is to give myself permission to write badly.”  

                                                                                                              Lawrence Block

"Nothing is too big for my God to accomplish, and nothing is too little for Him to use in accomplishing it!"                                                                               Unknown

"God is so good to get the right book, into the right hands, at the right time." 
                                                                                                             Diana Flegal

May this New Year be one of adventure, fulfilled goals, and great accomplishments for each of us :-).

            Happy New Year!


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Getting Ready for a New Year by Andy Scheer

I have a checklist for some tasks I need to accomplish by tomorrow – the year's final day. Some items have financial incentives; others come from a desire to start the new year right:

__ Update spreadsheet of writing income and expenses
__ Order tax preparation software
__ Prepare new project file folders
__ Inquire with publishers about decisions still pending
__ Sort stacks of old paperwork: file or recycle
__ Back up computer documents
__ Scan computer files

One late addition to my list resists categorization. I'd like to prepare a list for books to read next year. Besides again reading though the Bible, I hope to delve into the works of some classic and contemporary writers I've either never read or haven't visited in some time.

Besides the books I received as Christmas presents, there are two Agatha Christie short story collections I want to finish. And having recently read a mystery involving a lost Shakespeare manuscript, I'd like to explore the works of the bard.

Then there's that thriller writer whose book signing I attended this past fall. Before I tackle his latest novel, I want to get through the previous books in his series.

But I know not to schedule my reading too tightly. There are always those great books I've never considered – until I get a “you've got to read this” recommendation from a friend. I'm waiting for what you'll suggest.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Cats and Authors by Linda S. Glaz

Open your facebook. What do you see?
Cats, cats, and more cats.
Visit friends’ blogs. What do you see?
Cats, cats, and more cats.
Open your home page and what do you see?
Stories about???
Cats, cats, and more cats.
Cats dancing, cats sneaking up on dogs, cats hiding in unusual places, and cats doing any and all sorts of things.
What on earth does this have to do with you…the writer?
Cats are obviously quite popular. Does this mean they might have a place in your stories? If not cats, then what? Are you in touch with what is important to folks? With what touches their hearts, their minds, their souls? Are you locked away with your head in the sand, or are you in touch with what is touching people directly at their cores?
Yes, you need to write the perfect story, the story you are called to write, but do you take the time to be current/contemporary with what is important in today’s society? Are you writing to an “old” group of readers or are you writing with contemporary standards in mind?
Do your readers want to read a Jane Austen style or have you updated the Austen style to meet the needs of today’s readers? You can still write the same type of story, but have you decided to run from the 1800s to 201---yikes---2015?
With a story still in early eras, have you made the move to write with updated, current styles?
Cats, cats, cats! What are YOU writing about?

Friday, December 26, 2014

 New Things by Jim Hart

We like new things. Mostly. As a musician there's a certain fascination with certain vintage instruments. I buy a new computer to digitally record my songs, and then try various tricks and software to obtain a vintage sound. It's a shifting paradigm. We like new, but still maintain a connection to the old.

Many of us see the New Year as a mark in time to start over again. New resolutions vs. old habits. New goals that are not that dissimilar to the goals of the previous year. Most of our new goals and resolutions for 2015 contain pieces of the things that we didn't complete in 2014.

As an introvert, according to Myers-Briggs, I get excited about starting a new project. But sometimes that excitement begins to fade, and a new idea presents itself and the old project, even if it's nearing completion, is paused. And the new thing is begun with new fervor! Even though I know that's not always the most productive way to get things done. The incomplete pile grows and grows. And now the old things of 2014 are about to make way for the new stuff of 2015.

Part of my personal goal setting process includes keeping several small notebooks that are titled with specific project ideas. When new inspiration bursts onto my horizon while I'm working on another project, I stop long enough to write down the new idea in the appropriate notebook. And I use a simple note taking app on my tablet for the same purpose. I can revisit those ideas at a later date.

In 2015 let's take out something old and make it new. Open up that file and bring out that unfinished project - a poem, a novel, an outline, a blog - and finish it. If the squirrel of a new notion should scamper into view, jot it down, and return to work on finishing what you've begun.

When I sign a new author client I ask them "what else you got?" For one of my clients a previous manuscript that they hadn't done anything with is the manuscript that got them their first publishing contract.

Our Father in heaven excels in making old things new. Most of us are familiar with the promise in 2 Corinthians 5:17. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." He is able to take our old unfinished life, and make it new.

In Jeremiah 18 the prophet writes "I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do." This is a wonderful picture of God's sovereign prerogative to recreate the old into something new. Jesus has promised that He will finish the work that He started in your life. (Philippians 1:6)

In 2015 keep your life - all of your goals and dreams - in the hands of the Potter. Remember that the Faithful One is still forming us into the vessel that best suites His wonderful purpose. And then, as He works on you, reach deep into your drawer of incomplete projects and ask Him to help breathe new life into one of them.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Greetings from Joyce Hart and Jim Hart

Merry Christmas!  Are you taking it easy until January or are you writing like crazy to meet a deadline?  Or do those characters in your head demand that you write their story?  I’m always amazed at novelists when they tell me things like “my character wouldn’t let me go this direction with the story.” 

I marvel when an author tells me they couldn’t sleep because they had a story that had to be written.  All of you writers are amazing and it’s such a great joy to work with every one of you who are our clients.

I hope you got your cookies baked, the house decorated, groceries bought and packages wrapped.  Such a busy time.  If you are like me it’s hard to get away from the computer, but I must forget it for a few days, especially on Christmas day.  I have other important things to do, like cook for my family & friends and get those packages wrapped, hoping that I didn’t forget anything.

I love to go to church on Christmas Eve, such a special time to gather with friends and Worship the King of Kings and thank Him for being willing to come to this Earth as a babe and then 33 years later to die a horrible death on the cross for my sins.  What a Savior!  I love Christmas carols – singing about “Christ the King, the newborn King.”   It is so amazing to me to look at all the Old Testament scriptures that clearly portrayed His coming and yet His Disciples didn’t fully understand.  And some people today do not fully understand that he is indeed the King of Kings, Prince of Peace.

Thank you precious Savior for being our King of Kings. Lord of Glory.  My husband always reads Luke 2 with our family before we open our presents and gather for dinner.

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a happy & prosperous New Year serving our Lord Jesus Christ.  I pray your dreams and goals become a reality. 

In His service,

Joyce Hart, Hartline Literary Agency. 

One of my favorite Christmas hymns is “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing”.  These four simple lines from Charles Wesley masterfully capture the significance and purpose of Christ’s birth:

            Mild He lays His glory by,
            Born that man no more may die.
            Born to raise the sons of earth,
            Born to give them second birth.

I hope that you’ve had time this Christmas season to pause and reflect on the significance of Christ’s birth. Jesus came to be born at the exact moment in history that God the Father had planned. Jesus grew from a boy to a man, and He also grew close relationships with those that He loved. And that’s still His plan today – to be in relationship with those that He loves – and that’s you, me and every person who ever walked this earth.

Merry Christmas!

Jim Hart