Monday, January 29, 2007

10. His email has changed to

9. His psychiatrist calls to ask if you’ve seen or heard from him.

8. You see him in the post office, but it’s on a wanted poster.

7. He can only stay on the phone for 30 thirty seconds because he’s afraid “they” are listening.

6. His only other client is Martha Futzenheimer. Who, you ask? Exactly.

5. He refers to himself as Mr. Giggles. This is really bad if your agent is a woman.

4. The only time you saw him face to face you couldn’t get a word in because he kept repeating, “I’m a very good driver.”

3. A commercial for COPS comes on and your agent is the featured story. (Bad boys, bad boys…)

2. You go to a writer’s conference and all the other authors laugh and point when they find out who your agent is.

1. You read this list and eight out of the ten things listed fit your agent.

Monday, January 22, 2007

I never imagined when I started on this writing journey, how much would be involved outside of writing. Things like marketing, promoting, and. . .blogging. It can be a bit overwhelming.

Or it can be exhilarating.

Just this weekend, I spoke to a group of authors about committing themselves to their work. One of the ladies approached me afterward to tell me how inspired she felt. It was then that I realized that while speaking engagements are an important part of marketing my books, they can also be a way of encouraging and witnessing to other writers—a task that I can see God was preparing me for even in high school.

I had a teacher named Barbara Burmeister my freshman year. A very creative woman, Mrs. B, as we called her, loved teaching drama and theater arts. She encouraged me to try out for a school play, from which commenced a four year relationship that often involved her signing me up to speak to women’s clubs and community groups. I did more veteran’s programs and rotary dinners than I can remember. Every time I passed her in the hall she told me about another event she’d enlisted for me. But it wasn’t until this weekend that I appreciated her for it.

“You’re such a confident speaker,” one woman told me. “Thank you so much for sharing your time with us.”

And I thought of Mrs. B.

Right then, I whispered a prayer of thanks for this energetic woman who never let me pass up a chance to speak in front of people. In so doing, she helped the Lord prepare me for what lay ahead.

“If God has called you to write,” I told the ladies this weekend, “then He will equip you to write.” I didn’t add that He would also equip us to market, promote, and speak. I smiled as I drove home from Louisiana, realizing that He even spoke to me through this little class.

I’m no longer afraid of branching out because I know that God has been preparing me for everything He has in store. I may still have an attack of nerves now and again, but what a great blessing to realize I serve an awesome God, one Who has seen and planned all of my days.

And maybe, just maybe, He’ll be able to use me to prepare someone else.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Ever have one of those days—the kind that starts out at full throttle and doesn’t slow down until the next morning? So what do you do when you’ve got proposals to write, speeches to prepare, marketing tools to make and no time to do it?

Plot. Plan. Schedule.

Whatever you call it, the key is to get organized. . .and not to panic. I started out yesterday with several items on my calendar, all of them screaming for my attention. I worked feverishly, trying to get them all done at once. Since I’m posting this today, you know how well that went.

So I tried a different tactic. I tackled every thing the way I would if they were piled up on my desk at work—one at a time. Rather than worry about what wasn’t done, I complimented myself on the three Max’isms I was able to finish, the blog article I completed, the marketing items I prepared for Saturday’s class, and the three pages I added to my wip. Added to that, I worked on a review I’d been putting off since Christmas. While there is still plenty on my plate to keep me busy, I’m not feeling the pressure the way I did yesterday. Must be because I got so much done. Or maybe…

Did I forget to mention prayer? There I sat with my blank computer screen staring at me and no words flowing from my fingertips. Just when I thought I was ready to give up and pitch the whole thing into the trash, an encouraging thought came to me. Pray.

“Lord,” I said, “I’ve got four articles to write and not a single idea for any of them. Help?”

And just like that, I felt myself relax. Suddenly the ideas started flying. The words appeared as if by magic, and all of the stress I’d been feeling about not having anything done vanished.

Call it a light bulb moment.

All of a sudden I remembered what God said about equipping us to do the tasks He has called us to do. No more Manic Mondays for me. From now on, I’m starting with prayer.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

As far back as elementary school, I’ve always had at least one teacher whose standard answer to every question was, ‘look it up.’

If I asked how to spell something, they said, ‘look it up.’ Now wait a minute. How in the heck am I going to look up a word I don’t know how to spell?

If I asked who the 13th president of the United States was, they said, ‘look it up.’ Does that mean that they didn’t KNOW who the 13th president was?

Irritating as it was at the time, that ‘look it up’ philosophy has proven to be very beneficial. Now that I’m writing full time, I find myself ‘looking it up’ more than ever. Here are three of my favorite sites, places I go time and again whenever I find myself having to research.

1. Wikipedia Who’d thunk it? After all those years of looking it up in World Book, my favorite source for online research would be another encyclopedia! But this is so much more than your average fact book. Besides pages and pages of helpful information, this nifty site includes more than your local library with its Help Desk, Reference Desk, multiple language capability and Community Portal. Got a question? Post it on Wikipedia’s bulletin board. Also, be sure to check out all of Wikipedia’s sister sites, including Wiktionary and Wikiversity.

2. DEA – Official site of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. What better place to research illegal drugs, law enforcement, or drug policy, than from the pros themselves? Referred to me by an actual police officer, this site has proven to be a valuable tool, full of beneficial information. Best of all, I know it’s accurate.

3. The Writer’s Medical and Forensics Lab Okay, so unless you’re a medical examiner, you probably don’t know how long it takes for rigor mortis to set in, or what the effects of monkshood are on a person’s nervous system. But this guy does, and let me tell you, he’s good. Post your question, wait anywhere from a few hours to a few days, and voila! He’ll email you back with a detailed answer to your question, as well as offer suggestions for tricky scenarios and twisted plots. Not to mention he has several books available for purchase. I’m adding two of them to my wish list!

And that’s it, the short list. I’ve got lots of places bookmarked, but these are by far my top three ‘go to’ places on the web. How about you? Care to share your favorites?

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