I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thankful for Computers, Bibles and Ponderers

The October miraculous rescue of the Chilean miners inspired us all. Besides many miners kneeling and pointed heavenward as they exited the mines, all 33 emerged from the rescue capsule wearing shirts saying, "Thank you, Lord" on front, and "To Him be glory and honor" on the back, and "Jesus" written on one sleeve.

During their 69 days underground, these 33 individuals were forged into one strong band. A 19-year-old miner sent a letter to the surface saying, "There are actually 34 of us because God has never left of down here." Once the trapped men were known to be alive, their first request was for "Toothpaste and Bibles."

In October 2009, 14 writers met for the first time to attend Susan May Warren's first Storycrafters retreat. We shared a heart's cry for "Computers and Bibles." Who would know that those attendees would become precious friends as God forged us into "The Ponderers."

God has joined in friendship and writing encouragement through emails, phone calls, blog posts, brainstorming, critiques and continuous prayers. We cheer each others' progress and look for times to gather again, whether at the February Deep Thinkers retreat or the annual ACFW conference. At this year's MBT pizza party, Susie taught us "happy dancing." At the closing banquet, when she received her well-deserved 2010 Mentor of the Year Award, The Ponderers clapped, cheered and danced--inside and out.

Our close association strengthens us personally and professionally through open communication and loving supporting during deadlines, writing blocks, health or family crises and losses, jobs, a doctoral dissertation, travels, moves . . . God took 14 individuals and forged us into one strong, fun, connected group.

During the Chilean miner crisis, the Chilean president visibly inspired the world by supporting recovery operations and cheering the rescue of every man. That's a dim reflection of God faithfully directing our lives and answering our cries for computers and Bibles. When possible, our Mentor of the Year, Susie, is involved in with us on a daily basis--sometimes performing writing "rescue" missions.

The best part? The committed bonding of the Ponderers is now being replicated in other groups that God births through Susie's seminars. Check the My Book Therapy website and follow Word Warriors, Screaming Italics--and other future groups--who knows what their names will be?--as committed writers join hearts and skills to "write breathtaking stories to the glory of His name."

~Delores Topliff

The MBT Ponderers have put together a Thankful Basket. If you’d like to have a chance to win our basket of goodies, leave a comment during the month of November. Share a thought about a blog post or tell us what you’re thankful for!

Friday, November 26, 2010

All Roads Lead to Prose

Late last summer I took a road trip. I had absolutely no agenda or destination in mind. I packed a bag, pointed my car north and drove. I saw seven states in three days. It was magnificent. I drank sweet tea from a mason jar on a front porch with mountain folks in Tennessee, picked apples right off the tree in North Carolina, and visited a coal mine in Kentucky.

I finally began my southern trek back to central Florida. As the sun set over the marshes of southern coastal Georgia, the steam from a paper mill caught my eye. A stark contrast, or even an eye sore, compared to the beauty of the natural marshland.

I'd seen the mill hundreds of times. I'd driven that stretch of interstate more times than I care to remember. But suddenly, with no warning whatsoever, I was hit right smack between the eyes. Not with a floating pine log--with an idea. My mind began to race and play the "what if" game.

By the time I looked away from the mill--and back onto the road--I'd conjured up a great suspense novel idea. I pondered a paper mill that contracted with the military to conduct a top secret research project. Subliminal messages were being placed in the paper and sent to millions of people. For seemingly no reason, people were jumping off roofs and killing total strangers.

A great suspense novel, right? Well, perhaps not. But the point is, I was hit with an idea just by glancing at a paper mill. Right in the middle of my life. I didn't go to some think tank or attend a brainstorming workshop. I just lived my life and let my mind take me where it wanted.

So can you. Every road you take leads somewhere. Every person you meet and everything your eye beholds leads to a story, to a potential blockbuster novel. Take that road and allow it to lead you wherever it will. The story you create will be as unique and exciting as you are!

Taking time to be thankful:
When all is said and done, I'm grateful that I don't have to wait until Thanksgiving Day to give thanks for my many blessings since, after all, that's 364 days away from today. May the Lord grant you all the many blessings He has for you during the holiday season!

Reba J. Hoffman

The MBT Ponderers have put together a Thankful Basket. If you’d like to have a chance to win our basket of goodies, leave a comment during the month of November. Share a thought about a blog post or tell us what you’re thankful for!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful In Every Situation

My pastor, Jeff Hackleman at Family Faith Church, preached last Sunday. He’s an exceptional pastor. Last Sunday’s message was about thankfulness. No surprise, given the season. He said something and I dutifully wrote it down. I’m sure you have heard it preached before as well. He talked about being thankful “in” every situation, not necessarily “for” every situation.

I pondered that sermon this week. You see, I miss my mom. Cancer took her when I was 18 months old. I miss her more during milestones of life, like the birth of my children.

Now I’m a mom. I wonder if I would appreciate my children so much if I hadn’t lost my own mother. My perspective as a mom is so different because I lost a parent. I appreciate every day with them. I look at my sons and daughters and I couldn’t imagine their lives without me. I give out tons of hugs and kisses--even if my teenage sons don’t necessarily want them. Words cannot express the love I have for them. (Just don’t ask them about their loving mom on house-cleaning day.)

My dad did remarry and he had two more children, Cliff and Andrea. They are amazing. So today I have five siblings, and all of them are precious to me. If my mother had lived, would I have Cliff and Andrea? More time passed and my eldest brother met his wonderful wife through my step-mom. Now my brother and his wife have two children. If my mother had lived, would I have had any of these wonderful people in my life?

So whatever situation may arise in your life, meditate on being thankful. I’m thankful for my mom, who loved me with all her heart while she was alive. I’m thankful to be alive to cherish every moment I have with the ones I love.

I hope you too can be thankful in every situation, even when it's a struggle to be thankful for whatever situation you're facing.

In His Service,

Alena Tauriainen

Prov 3:5&6

Monday, November 22, 2010

Reaching Our Prize

As a writer with a website as well as a blog, twitter, facebook and several forum accounts, I admit to one thing...I am a cyber-stalker.

I weave in and out of other authors’ and writers’ websites and blogs, sneak into forum discussions and visit facebook pages and read tweets. All this in a "lurking" sort of way. While doing this, I often ask myself, "what are you looking for?" and most of the time I haven't a clue.

One day my answered changed. I had just returned to work full-time and as I began my usual ritual of web-stalking I asked myself the usual "what are you looking for" kind of question, this time, my answer surprised me. "I'm looking for an easier way to do this... to get published."

An easier way?

I've watched the movies of true-life dramas where men beat the odds to gain the prize. I can't tell you how many times I walked away feeling like "Of course they won, what else could they do." Completely taking for granted that what they did truly was against the odds. Taking for granted the work and pain they went through to get there.

The life of a writer is hard, but when you think of what it took your neighbor to become an engineer or a doctor or lawyer or perhaps a teacher, carpenter or electrician, you'll realize that nothing worth doing is easy.

We have been called to write. There are struggles in everything we do. We learn and grow along with those struggles. We work on our craft, hone our skills and wear out our shoe leather, voices and fingers. We are running a race as it were, pressing toward the mark. God has set the pace for us. He has placed our feet upon the path of our journey and commanded us to "walk and not faint." He is there to pick us up when we fall and guide us when we cannot see. All for this purpose...to bring Him glory.

I am reminded of what He says about us:

"...For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future..." Jeremiah 29:11

"Plans to give you hope and a future." He called you to write and it is He who has the plan and because of this, you have hope.

What kind of struggles have you been going through lately?

ginger r. takamiya

During this season the Ponderers wanted to share the things they are most thankful for. Of course we are all thankful for each other, for our families, health, loved ones and most of all Jesus. Those aside, my mind struggles to go beyond the ordinary. So here it is:

My 4th son struggles in school most of the time, trying to understand Math, Language Arts and even Social Studies. I watch that boy well up in tears at times just trying to understand. I see how he fights against the voices that tell him he's stupid. But he doesn't give up. He never quits. He works hard for every average grade he gets and I'm thankful that God has given him perserverance and a love for Him. I don't know what my son will be when he grows up and right now, I don't really care. I'm just glad Gods helps us meet each new school day with the same trust and fervor as the day before. Thank you Jesus for that.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Novel Design?

I watched the flakes of our first snow fall quietly outside my bedroom window this morning and once again stood in awe of the intricate and unique design of each one. I love snow, especially the way it exemplifies our Creator and His attention to detail in His creation. Snow inspires me in my own creations, so when I heard about a “Snowflake Method” of novel design, I had to check it out.

The “Snowflake Method” is the brain child of Randy Ingermanson, award-winning novelist and frequent conference teacher/speaker. Mr. Ingermanson spent years as a software designer, and he writes his novels the same way he writes software, using something called “the snowflake metaphor.” There is no way I could describe it better or more concisely than Mr. Ingermanson himself, so I encourage you to check out his explanation at his website, AdvancedFictionWriting.com where you will also find his blog, an e-zine, and a ton of helpful articles.

After 1,500,000+ views of his website article, Mr. Ingermanson decided to write a software program to customize Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel for fiction and automate his 10-step writing process. I bought this software, and I like it, but keep in mind, it just one tool. If you are the kind of writer who thrives on organization and pre-write planning, you will also like it. If you feel stifled by organizational tools and prefer to write by the seat of your pants, you will hate it. To learn more about it and see some screen shots, check out the Snowflake Pro website.

The Snowflake Pro program is available as a download and costs $100. When you buy it, you get free upgrades for life. But here’s the cool thing: if you own or purchase Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy, you can get Snowflake Pro at a 50% discount. And here’s the coolest thing: today and tomorrow, you can get the Kindle version (the Kindle reader can be downloaded free on any pc) of Writing Fiction for Dummies for FREE! I purchased the actual book awhile back, but I took advantage of the free Kindle offer to have a copy handy on my iPod.

You must decide for yourself if spending the money for the Snowflake Pro software is worthwhile for your writing style. I can’t tell you if it will work for you, but I can, without a doubt, recommend Writing Fiction for Dummies as a worthy addition to any writer’s library. And as a free download, it is a no-brainer! You don’t want to miss this deal!

~Heidi Larson Geis

Taking time to be thankful:

November is National Adoption Month, and I am so thankful that in October of 1968, a woman in Nevada I've never met chose life and made the most difficult decision a woman can make: to put her newborn up for adoption. I am equally thankful that God put that newborn in the arms of Ken and Pam Larson, the most amazing parents a girl could ask for. We celebrate 42 years together on November 23! I am thankful for all those choosing LIFE and for all those choosing adoption.

The MBT Ponderers have put together a Thankful Basket. If you’d like to have a chance to win our basket of goodies, leave a comment during the month of November. Share a thought about a blog post or tell us what you’re thankful for!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Who are You Thankful For?

You won't get very far along the writing road without the help of others you meet along the way.

As I pondered this truth, I thought about all the different people who've pointed me in the right direction as I've walked this road. I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for the kindness of others. Writers. Editors. Agents. Mentors. Critique partners.

I could mention the elementary and high school and college teachers who influenced me. But for the sake of brevity--what do you expect from a journalist?--I'll focus on the past 10 years when I've pursued writing, after having veered off the writing road for a variety of reasons.

I took the Christian Writers Guild's Apprentice Course to scrape the rust off my journalism degree. My mentor, Kathy Tyers, gave me pats on the back when I earned them. But she didn't hesitate to tell me when my writing was trite--challenging me to rewrite and improve my writing.

Scoti Domeij became my "joined at the hip/got your back" critique partner. We had to learn to trust one another before we could give each other worthwhile critiques. But trust each other we do. We know each others' voices--and we respect them.

Beth Jusino published my first article in MomSense magazine. (I'm now the editor of MOPS International's leadership magazine, Connections.) She brainstormed my first book idea with me--and believed in me when I didn't believe in myself. But, more importantly, she is my friend.

My dear friend and fellow writer Roxanne Sherwood didn't laugh when I confessed I was trying to write a novel--and she never hung up when I called and asked, "Will you read this scene before I go to critique group?" Bestselling author Donita K. Paul invited me to join her critique group--and encouraged this fledgling member of the "Dark Side," while introducing me to new critique partners Evangeline Denmark and Mary Agius.

The amazing award winning author Susan May Warren could never know I came to the 2010 Storycrafters Retreat asking God one question: Should I seriously pursue writing fiction? He used her to answer that question when she looked at me across the room on Saturday night and said, "You can so write fiction, Beth!" I continue to follow her into the wild adventure of writing breathtaking fiction.

And then there are the Ponderers--friends and prayer partners extraordinaire. I could devote an entire column to these amazing women, my treasured companions along the writing road. I would not want to be on this journey without them.

So, what about you? Who are you thankful for? Who has helped you along the writing road?

The MBT Ponderers have put together a Thankful Basket. If you’d like to have a chance to win our basket of goodies, leave a comment during the month of November. Share a thought about a blog post or tell us what you’re thankful for!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Writing Letters of Thanks

Photo by chappy14

Like many of you, I want to be a published novelist. November is National Novel Writing Month, otherwise affectionately known as NaNoWriMo. Skimming the website’s history doesn’t reveal exactly why this month was chosen. Whoever heard of expecting anyone to write a complete, 50,000-word novel during November? Don’t they know how busy people are? Of course, it’s hard to say, in the twenty-first century, when we’d ever slow down with nothing left to do with our time except write a novel. None of the other months during the year seem to be lazy and carefree, either.

But November is also the time when our hearts turn to thanking those people we are grateful for every month of the year.

When my husband was alive, I’d periodically remind him about the “just-in-case” letters to our children (and one to my husband) that were stashed in my sock drawer. Every few years, I update the letters, mentioning current interests or skills and spiritual gifts I’d see in their lives. I hope to encourage them and remind them of my love if there is ever a time when I’m not here to do that.

One trying school day, a math teacher, Franciscan Nun Sister Helen Mrosla, departed from the curriculum and asked students to list the nicest thing they could think about each classmate. She compiled the comments and gave a personal list to each student. Years later, after one of the students, Mark Eklund, died in Vietnam, the list was found, taped and re-taped, in his wallet. At the funeral, many of the other students also revealed they’d saved the list as one of their prized possessions. The inspirational tale of Sister Helen Mrosla, “the teacher who made a difference,” has been widely circulated all over the internet and featured in numerous books, like Chicken Soup for the Soul. You can read about it here.

Instead of worrying about reaching a self-imposed NaNo word count, I propose taking time to write a letter to at least one special person in your life telling how much he or she means to you. Who knows? Maybe your letter will be more meaningful to someone, more used by God, than the words in any novel you ever write.

Roxanne Sherwood

Taking time to be thankful: There are so many people who love and encourage me: seven wonderful children; a mother; siblings & their spouses; precious friends like the Ponderers; and a new man in my life. I love, appreciate and thank God for each of you!

The MBT Ponderers have put together a Thankful Basket. If you’d like to have a chance to win our basket of goodies, leave a comment during the month of November. Share a thought about a blog post or tell us what you’re thankful for!

Second photo by photo by lusi

Friday, November 12, 2010

Veterans Day, Characters, and remembering

One day while shopping, a middle-aged man stood behind me in line wearing a T-shirt with the word "Army" emblazoned on the front in large white letters. I asked him if he was in the service and he said he had just recently retired. I stuck out my hand and thanked him for his service to our country. He looked slightly bewildered, maybe even shocked at my boldness. He thanked me and said he wished more people were as appreciative.

Having two sons in the military, I am personally acquainted with the strain their duty puts on the family and home when they are fighting overseas for our freedom. So I often stop in restaurants or stores to thank individuals in uniform for their sacrifice.

So what has this got to do with writing you ask? Because this is surely not about me – it’s about our characters! It’s about giving our characters some unexpected trait, job, or personality quirk. Stay away from predictability or canned stereotypes.

Put a woman in a man’s job. Did you know my daughter is a Boilermaker? She is! She works in power plants across the U.S. with her husband welding tubes and rods so we can have electricity. Who would have thunk it? How neat would it be to have your heroine do something out of the ordinary like my daughter?

Give a villain a “good” side. Maybe the only thing likable about him is his devotion to his grandmother or the elderly. Make us see some good quality in him, some saving grace in his personality.

Make your hero do the unexpected like buy a bouquet of flowers – of which he is allergic to – for the heroine. It's like when my girlfriend was describing the “automatic starter” for her car. I told her I have one of those at home – my husband. In the worst of weather, he gets out of bed, cleans the snow and frost from my windows, and starts my car for me. No big deal? It is when he worked every night until midnight and wouldn't get into bed until 2 a.m.

These are layers, neat little things that make even your worst character likable, memorable and interesting. Throw away the cookie cutter! Give them something that impresses the reader. In turn, this will do the same for your book.

Jennie Atkins

Taking time to be thankful:

Yesterday was Veteran’s Day and I am thankful for all the young men and women serving our country now and in the past. If it wasn't for them, their devotion to our country, even to the point of sacrifice, we wouldn’t have the freedom we have today.

So to them I say THANK YOU and God Bless!

The MBT Ponderers have put together a Thankful Basket. If you’d like to have a chance to win our basket of goodies, leave a comment during the month of November. Share a thought about a blog post or tell us what you’re thankful for!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name

A rose might smell as sweet even if your neighbor thinks they’re called baked beans and your husband thinks they rhyme with jello, but you’re going to have a hard time calling in an order to the florist around Valentine’s Day. In your journey to publication, building name recognition is important, too. (That was an illustration stretch, but hey. I got to use a pretty picture.)

These days you hear a lot about platforms, and they’re not talking about shoes. So you aren’t Oprah’s long-lost cousin and don’t sit on the platform at women’s conferences alongside Joyce Meyer. You can still work on building your readership.

Get your name out there. Here are some ways you can do that:

~ Enter contests. The Genesis, for example. The finalist lists are posted on the ACFW website and various blogs. The winners are listed on CBD online. Google will pull up those lists when someone searches for your name. And, of course, you get the cute ribbon to attach to your nametag at the conference. :-)

~ Volunteer at conferences and/or within writing organizations. Lisa Jordan is amazing at this. Among other things, she helps Susan May Warren with a lot of her My Book Therapy stuff and she’s currently running for a position with ACFW. Even though she goes into these things with a heart to serve, her efforts will bring her into contact with people who may help boost her career through mentorship or other contacts, etc.

~ Write articles. Free or otherwise. Of course we prefer otherwise, but even the freebies can help grow our future readership. I know names from writers for the ACFW ezine that I wouldn’t otherwise. If I see their name on the spine of a book someday, it’s going to catch my attention. And if I loved what they wrote in the ezine, I’m probably going to buy the book. (Or, more likely, put it on my Christmas list. I love this time of year, don’t you? :-))

~ Blog. You can create a blog for free, making it cute by choosing one of the many free templates out there. Try to keep a regular posting schedule, but don’t stress if you don’t. Tosca Lee doesn’t—I don’t think it’s hurt her much. :-) If you hate blogging or just don’t have time, something to consider is joining a group blog like this one. I only write for The Ponderers once a month—that’s totally doable.

~ Social Networking. Does this really make a difference? Well, I did buy a Jenny B. Jones’s novel solely based on the fact that her Facebook updates crack me up. Put links to your blog posts up on Facebook and Twitter to drive more traffic to your blog. Update regularly, but be careful what you say. You are creating a reputation. Don’t be whiny or gossipy or angry or write long letters to friends in your status update, because I will hide or unfriend or unfollow or unwhatever you. Know what should go on walls and what should be messaged privately.

This goes for everything, of course. Your responses to the editors or agents who reject you. Your rants on the writers’ loops you belong to. You want your name to be memorable for the right reasons when your manuscript makes its way to an editor’s desk or to a shelf the bookstore. No baked beans allowed here. Only roses.

~ Jenness Walker

Taking time to be thankful:

At this very moment, I'm very grateful for a laptop that is actually charging! :-) But on a more serious note, I have been blessed incredibly with a wonderful husband. One who supports my writing, puts up with my (many) quirks, loves me, is committed to our marriage, and looks to God for guidance in every aspect of our lives. It's kind of handy that he's a website designer, too. :-)

The MBT Ponderers have put together a Thankful Basket. If you’d like to have a chance to win our basket of goodies, leave a comment during the month of November. Share a thought about a blog post or tell us what you’re thankful for!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Science, stick figures, scenes and, well, life

This is how much I liked (i.e. hated) science classes in school: I would rather read Thackeray's 912-page Vanity Fair cover to cover five times over than take another biology course. (Sorry, Thack, not a fan.) I would rather spend 48 hours straight on a treadmill – blindfolded – than endure a chemistry class. Which is saying a lot 'cause I trip enough on treadmills with my eyes open. I would rather...

Well, enough with the dramatics. You've got the point, right? Melissa + science = mind-numbing boredom if not outright disaster. (Please don't ask me about the Bunsen burner incident of 1999.)

So, perhaps you can imagine my discomfort when, during a My Book Therapy retreat earlier this year, author Susan May Warren told us to draw a stick figure in our notebooks. Melissa's thought at the time: Uh, anatomy? Quick, identify nearest exit! 
Thankfully, our stick figures basically stopped at a head and spine. I think some people drew arms and legs, but I was too busy thinking up an excuse should discussion veer into the difference between muscles and ligaments. Susie then told us to write the words “Story Question” by the spine. And she talked to us about how everything in our book – every scene, the conflicts (or in MBT language, the D's), our characters' choices when they're faced with a “y in the road,” all of it must connect to the spine.

In other words, every scene in our story needs to contribute to the overall story question. The POV character's goal, motivation and conflict within the individual scene should connect to the main story.

Every scene must matter. 

In the following months, I took that lesson to heart. And frankly, it meant hacking away at a lot of fluff – cute little scenes I really enjoyed but ones that didn't contribute to the story as a whole. Felt like swallowing thumb tacks at times – no writer likes to can her creation. But in the end, putting every scene through a workout resulted in a tighter, stronger story.

Funny thing is, while I may have completed revisions on my manuscript, this whole “every scene matters” thing isn't letting go of me. It's spilling over into my everyday life. I'm finding myself thinking about the “story question” of my life. What's the purpose of my life's “story?” And just like scenes in a book, am I allowing each individual day to contribute to my overall purpose? Do I know what my motivations are? My goals? And do I respond to conflicts in ways which push me closer to the person I'm meant to be?

I don't have it down to a science – that word again, eek! – probably never will. But knowing every day contributes to our bigger life stories, well, it makes a difference, doesn't it? Makes what might have seemed hum-drum significant. Sorta turns each day into an experiment. 

Each day – and the way I choose to live it – matters. So the only question is, how am I going to live today? 

Melissa Tagg

Taking time to be thankful:
I’m thankful that tonight I get to travel down to Kansas City to visit my adorable nephew Ollie. He has been in the hospital since he was born this summer with two heart defects. But he may actually get to go home in a few weeks! He needs to have another heart surgery - probably next spring. I can't wait to hold him tonight!

The MBT Ponderers have put together a Thankful Basket. If you’d like to have a chance to win our basket of goodies, leave a comment during the month of November. Share a thought about a blog post or tell us what you’re thankful for!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Save Your Sanity--Back up Your Files

Photo credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1160562
In February 2008, during the month of love and romance, my heart was broken. One of the most beloved in my life contracted a terrible virus and died. With tears in my eyes, I said goodbye and mourned the loss of my beloved Sid—my Dell laptop.

Hubby bought Sid after I completed my first NaNoWriMo manuscript, and he realized I was serious about this writing business. I think the rest of the family wanted a turn with the family computer. After Sid,  I crossed to the dark side and bought a MacBook that I named Belle.

Computer crashes can cause the users to grieve the loss of their files, including documents, music, and once-in-a-lifetime photos.

A few months prior to Sid’s virus, Camy Tang posted about Mozy online backup service on the ACFW e-mail loop. I checked it out, and then signed up for a monthly subscription. I'm so glad I did. When my Dell crashed, I would've been distraught if I had lost my files.

Backing up my computer is vital for my career. My in-home business files are on it, plus my music, ebooks, and 13,000+ (no exaggeration) photos.

Just as you should scan your computer daily for viruses, backing up your system on a daily basis is vital because you don’t know what could happen. If your computer is stolen, damaged, or crashes, your files are gone unless you have saved them in an alternate format. 

Writers should consider an online storage system for backup because imagine losing finished manuscripts during a power surge or computer crash? Flash drives, CDs, and external hard drives are fine for short-term, but I would recommend something off-site like an online back up service in case of a fire, theft or other tragedy. 

I use Mozy, but there are other online backup services. Check them out and see which one works best for you. And don't forget to back up on a daily basis. After all, aren't your time and career worth the investment?

Taking time to be thankful:
I’m thankful for my hubby, who has worked hard for the past 18 months to earn his business degree. He will graduate with high honors on November 19. We just celebrated 21 years of marriage at the end of October. I am so blessed to be his wife.

The MBT Ponderers have put together a Thankful Basket. If you’d like to have a chance to win our basket of goodies, leave a comment during the month of November. Share a thought about a blog post or tell us what you’re thankful for!

Lisa Jordan

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


November is always a time of reflection for me. A time when I look back over the past year and see where I am as a writer. A time to be thankful.

This past year something happened that changed my writing life. When I attended the Georgia Romance Writers’ Moonlight and Magnolias conference in October of 2009, I ran into Debby Guisti, a Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense author. She’d presented me with the 2008 Maggie in the unpublished Inspirational category, and she asked about my writing.

I’m not sure she’ll ever ask anyone else that question. As I bent her ear, telling her my frustration at trying to figure out what was wrong with my book, she patted my arm and told me to get in touch with Susan May Warren. That Susan could help me understand what I needed to do. I came home with a mission.

I checked out Susan’s website, mybooktherapy.com, and the first thing I saw were the words: So, you’re writing a book. Would you like some help? I fired off an email to Susan and subsequently met her and the great community of writers at My Book Therapy. My writing life hasn’t been the same. My regular life, either.

Susan, aka Susie, recently won Mentor of the Year at the ACFW conference in Indianapolis. She has a heart for teaching writers how to be better writers. Most Monday nights will find her on line at MBT Chats, sharing her knowledge with the My Book Therapy Voices. Monday Night Chats are open to all members of the Voices, so if you’re not a member, you might want to think about joining. Click here to learn more. You’ll find dedicated writers, sweet spirits, and a group eager to help others learn.

A few topics Susie’s covered in Monday night chats:
• How create characters that readers will care about
• How to create their story world
• Word painting
• Discovering the push/pull in a scene
• How to write the dreaded synopsis

So, if you’re struggling in your writing or you simply want to be around other writers, come on over to the Voices; join us on Monday nights or take part in the discussion forums. I’m thankful I did.

Pat Trainum
I asked God to teach me patience and He gave me a book to write

Taking time to be thankful:

I am so thankful that God gave me this wonderful gift of writing, and then put me into the community of writers at MBT. Their prayers and encouragement have made all the difference.

The MBT Ponderers have put together a Thankful Basket. If you'd like to have a chance to win our basket of goodies, leave a comment during the month of November. Share a thought about a blog post or tell us what you're thankful for!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

MBT Ponderers Contest for November 2010

What are you thankful for?

'Tis the season to stop and be grateful for our many blessings: family, friends . . . even for finding the perfect pumpkin!

The Ponderers decided November is also a great month to throw another contest. We're putting together a Thankful Basket full of goodies including books on writing, a journal, an "AquaNotes" pad--a waterproof notepad, perfect for recording those brilliant ideas that pop into your head while you're showering--and more!

To have your name put in the drawing, post comments during the month of November. We'll be sharing why we're thankful and we'd love to hear what you're thankful for too.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Above All Else--Voice

My friend, Scoti, is an opera singer.

She doesn't star in productions of La traviata or Carmen. Rather, Scoti's writing voice rings out like a strong, passionate opera singer who takes center stage, commanding the audience's attention.

There was a time when I tried to tone Scoti down.

She turned an article in for critique--and critique it, I did. I tightened sentences, deleted adjectives, shut the gate on rabbit trails, switched the order of paragraphs, changed her introduction and her conclusion--whew! By the time I was done, her article was the best I could make it.

That was the problem.

Because we'd built up enough trust, Scoti could be completely honest with me. She told me that I'd stripped any sound of her voice out of her article and made it my own.

I wanted to argue, to defend my critique. To insist that I was right and she was oh, so wrong.

But then I realized I committed an editor's worse sin: I rewrote an author's article so that it sounded like me.

When you are given the responsibility--the privilege, really--of critiquing another person's words, ask yourself: Am I undermining this writer's voice? Am I changing this article or this chapter so it sounds like my voice?

If you are, then put your red pen down. Back away from the critique until you can respect the writer's voice.

So, back to my opera-writer friend, Scoti. What did I do when I realized my editorial faux pas?

First, I apologized. Then I promised to always respect her voice--to let her be true to herself, adjectives, emotions and all. We started over on that article and by the time we were done, her words sang and her voice shone through.

We're able to joke about her opera-writing ways now. I remind her that rabbit trails still aren't allowed. Opera singers have to find their mark and are only allowed to sing one aria at a time. That translates into the writing world as meaning she can only have one main thought per article.

Taking time to be thankful:
I'm thankful for our fellow Ponderer, Teri, being released from the hospital! Although she can't travel back to the States yet, I'm thankful she and her daughter are now staying with friends in England. I am also thankful for each and every person who prayed for Teri when she suffered a stroke from an aneurysm.

The MBT Ponderers have put together a Thankful Basket. If you'd like to have a chance to win our basket of goodies, leave a comment during the month of November. Share a thought about a blog post or tell us what you're thankful for!