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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hard Work: Being Grateful for the Chance to Grow as a Writer

 Two years ago God put me in the right place at the right time to attend the first My Book Therapy (MBT) StoryCrafters Retreat and become an original MBT Ponderers. God also aligned circumstances so I could attend this year’s retreat, where I gained even healthier respect for Susan May Warren's, aka Susie, writing craft books:  Inside ...Out, Book Buddy, Deep and Wide, Kiss and Tell, and all the future books whose pages I hear rustling even now. Working hard and moving forward, this is my new favorite song variation: “I love to go a-pondering, along the story track, and as I go, I love to sing, my Book Buddy in my pack . . .”

You know how we think we know subjects until we’re tested? This most recent Storycrafters tested me as I attempted an opening scene for my first ever historical fiction. I had focused more on historical accuracy than on being a novelist. I produced a literary-flavored historical lecture and got caught red-penned. You know, like when you bite into something expecting one flavor and totally get another? Like when my accomplished baker friend confused her sugar and salt containers and her beautiful cinnamon buns tasted like debris from the Dead Sea?

Good historical writing balances fact and fiction—like that needed to stay upright on a unicycle. And good instruction helps us master rides to spin gracefully around any writing ring.

What’s your challenge? What balance do you need? Susie Warren, Rachel Hauck, and the My Book Therapy team offer more inspiration, encouragement, prayer and mentoring per square inch toward writing goals than any group I know of—and I’m a college English prof who’s attended beaucoup writing seminars and workshops.

Joining My Book Therapy’s team gives full access to constantly increasing tools from the best writing community out there. These sharpen our skills, point us to the Lord for inspiration and purpose, sending us toward goals with the whole team cheering to produce polished results for the record books—not to mention the great friendships, prayers, and stay-in-touch caring of other member/players along the way.

Remember, writers, life without God is like an unsharpened pencil...it has no point! 

What are you doing to make sure you're the best writer you can be?

~Delores Topliff

Monday, November 28, 2011

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time, there lived a fair writer who dreamed of reigning over the Writer’s Kingdom. She toiled night and day to perfect her craft. Her charges read and admired her words. They bowed and lavished her with compliments when she waltzed through the immaculately sculpted gardens or in the village bookstore.

On the day the princess was to take the throne, the ceremony was interrupted by an ugly ogre who forced his way into the palace. In his hand he held the parchment containing the very words the princess had written by candlelight in the watch tower. Tears of love and passion had smeared circular blotches on the parchment.

“Rubbish.” The ogre shouted. “These are the worst words I’ve ever had the misfortune of reading! You have butchered the King’s language and defiled this parchment. You are unfit to rule the Writer’s Kingdom.”

“But, but I worked all my life for this moment.” The princess meekly offered. “I deserve to wear the crown.”

The ogre took the pages in his hand and flung them at the princess. “With these words, you only deserve to be strung up by your toes and stoned until dead.”

Fiery red bubbled up her neck and onto her cheeks as the Princess tried to understand why she was so close, and yet so far away from ruling the Writer’s Kingdom. At long last she asked, “Who are you ogre?”

The evil wretched being approached her, laughing and taunting her. “I am YOU!”

“But, but I don’t understand.”

“I am every fear you ever had. Every doubt you had in your ability to write. The words I speak are those that trampled through your heart all those nights you sat with a quill. I am only repeating the words you so eloquently spoke.”

The princess covered her face with her hands as the crowd gasped and shrieked in horror. She knew the ogre was right. She did not believe in herself. She had doubts about being able to rule over words. While she should be thinking of how she was going to rule the Writer’s Kingdom, she allowed herself to believe she would fail. Her ugly thoughts prevented her from taking her rightful place in the kingdom.

The moral of the story? The thoughts you entertain will affect your career as a writer. If you want to rule, make sure you think good ones!

Reba J. Hoffman

Friday, November 25, 2011

36 More Days!

That’s how many days are left in 2011.
Are you asking yourself the same question, I am?
Where did the year go?
I set goals in the beginning of 2011. Have I accomplished all of them? Um. No. Definitely not. In fact there are some I haven’t even touched.
There are thirty-six more days in this year though, so I’m going to press in and see which one of the goals I can finish.
Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t accomplished it all.
Stop. God loves you as you are. He is your biggest cheerleader. And because he’s God, he’s also right beside you as you take each step in your journey. He’s the encourager that never sleeps. He’s the friend you can call 24-7. You never get his voice mail or a busy signal when you call him.
So my friends, what steps can you take towards accomplishing some of your goals for this year? Are you ready to start planning for next year?
What concrete steps can you take towards your goals?
Did you want to finish your rough draft this year?
How many chapters can you realistically finish? Take a look at your schedule and see what you can fit in.
Record those shows you normally watch, get up earlier an hour earlier, go to bed later and fit in an hour of writing? or use your lunch break to write?
Did you want to lose some extra pounds?
Try to fit a few more work-outs in. Take the stairs when you can. Join a friend and go walking or jogging. Get a couple of audio books on writing craft and listen while working ou.
Remember, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us! Let’s do this!
Alena Tauriainen

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What Happened to Thanksgiving?

A week before Halloween I dashed into Walmart for candy. I had to walk through the Christmas candy to get to the tiny section of Halloween candy. Just a few days prior, the entire aisle had been filled with Halloween candy, but now, it was reduced to a few shelves. What happened to Thanksgiving?

At the beginning of November, my mom went to the dollar store to pick up harvest-themed paper plates for a get together. The harvest stuff had been replaced by Christmas. What happened to Thanksgiving?

Yesterday I stopped at a store to check out the yarn selection and found all of the harvest/Thanksgiving things put in a 50% off clearance bin. Christmas music serenaded customers as they shopped. What happened to Thanksgiving?

I understand retailers like to get a jump on the holidays, but Christmas decorations in July? Seriously?

I love Christmas. It's one of my favorite holidays, but I think we need to pause and reflect on the holiday that comes at the end of November that seems to get a passing nod between Halloween and commercialized Christmas--Thanksgiving.

With Thanksgiving approaching, we have so much to be thankful for. Not just one day out of the year where we gather around the table, but every day God's table is laden with an abundance of blessings.

Among cooking, welcoming family, and scanning those Black Friday ads, take time to say thanks for all God has provided. But don't limit your thanks to just one day. Be thankful every day, and find the joy in all circumstances.  

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! 
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
~Psalm 100:4

Your Turn: What are you thankful for? How are you spending your Thanksgiving holiday?

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Biggest Loser

I’m a loser.

With just nine days left before the end of November (and a big holiday weekend between now and then) it has become painfully clear I will not be a winner in the 2011 NaNoWriMo. And I was so optimistic back in October!

So here I am, 70% through the 30 days of November, with a mere 5% of the 50,000 words necessary to succeed. So, if 59% is an F, what letter do I get for 5%?  It feels suspiciously like failure.

Failure. I don’t like it. What happened?

Well, I spent one weekend of November with my husband at Fusion, a children’s ministry conference. I spent three days learning new ways to help the children in our community better understand how much they are loved by their Heavenly Father.

In addition, I celebrated my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, and attended my son’s first football banquet. I spent some quality time with the three beautiful redheads (Allison, Jeshua, and Kaylin) who call me Grandi and love my spaghetti. I spent Friday nights with good friends, sharing dinner and watching Fringe.  

I baked chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin bars, and snickerdoodles for my boys. I made dinner for my family almost every night. I read my friend Lisa’s first book, Lakeside Reunion.  I helped my husband with his Algebra homework. I even made my first pie.

But I didn’t write.

In thinking about today’s blog, I ponderered success and failure and writing. I thought about a few of the writers in the Bible and realized they were also some of the Bible's biggest failures. 

Moses. He killed a man, and he disobeyed God in the desert. Then he wrote the first five books of the Bible.

David. He committed adultery and had his lover’s husband killed. But he was a man after God’s heart, and he wrote some of the most beautiful poems of praise and thanksgiving.

Paul. He persecuted the early Christians and kicked against the goads. And then spent the rest of his life preaching the gospel to the gentiles and writing most of the New Testament.

As Amy wrote in her Friday blog, we’re all in different seasons. I really wanted November to be my “win NaNoWriMo by writing 50K words” season, but God wanted it to be my “focus on the people I love” season. And no matter how I kick against the goads, God’s way is always the best way.

If I look at November through God’s eyes and His plan for me, it was a success. I am thankful that He is in control, and I'm thankful for the opportunities He gave me this month to love my family. In fact, I wouldn’t trade a million best sellers for the experiences I shared in November with the people I love.   

Now, bring on JanNoWriMo!

I realize my last three blog posts have contained a recipe. I thought I'd make it four!   =)

Pumpkin Bars
3 eggs
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 29-ounce can pumpkin (NOT Pumpkin Pie Mix)
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup butter, melted
2 cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
 ¾ tsp baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp clove
1/8 tsp cardamom

For Frosting:
4 ½ ounces cheese cheese (not light), softened
¾  cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
Pecans halves, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl whisk together eggs, sugar, brown sugar, pumpkin, oil and butter. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, and cardamom. Stir into batter until well combined, and mostly smooth. (Don’t over mix.) Pour batter into an ungreased 15x10x1-inch baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool before frosting.

For frosting, in a medium bowl, combine softened butter and cream cheese using a mixer. Work in the powdered sugar with the mixer. Finish by blending in the vanilla. Frost and cut into bars. Garnish  each with a pecan.

~Heidi Larson Geis

Friday, November 18, 2011


I’m thinking that most of you are probably 28,000 words into your NaNo novel by now.

I’m not.

Sometimes I feel like this forlorn little leaf. Like I’ve fallen off the tree prematurely, while the rest of you are NaNo-ing for the glory of God from the heights of a massive oak.

The first day of November at least I took the time to log my word count. (Never mind it was zero.) The second day I had good intentions of logging my word count. (Never mind it was still zero.) However, I forgot. Honestly. By the third day, let’s just say, I’d given up all together. (And yes, word count was still zero.)

Am I lazy? Uncommitted? If I want to trudge down guilt trip lane, I’d say, definitely, yes. But, at the same time, I have a new appreciation for the seasons of life.

Currently we are remodeling our house to make room for the little bundle of joy we have arriving in February. This means I get home from work, change into grubby clothes, and log another 4-5 hours drywalling and painting. Dinner typically consists of Taco Bell (don’t judge, at least I’m taking prenatal vitamins regularly…) after which I try to play with the puppy for twenty minutes before hubby and I do devotions together. Then he and I unwind and get ready for bed (meaning my head meets the pillow and I’m already halfway through a REM cycle.)

I’m not complaining. I’ve just determined now is not my season to NaNo. Now I know there are Super Women out there raising six kids, homeschooling the oldest five, baking cookies each week, and still carving out time to write. I respect you. Seriously. How do you do it? (No really, I’m about to have one kid, I need to know.)

But, for those of us normal women, it may just not be our season. And that’s okay. (If this is an excuse, please tell me and I will stand corrected. I know you will be honest with me).

Instead, I’ve been asking myself, how can I use November to encourage another writer? Can I drop them a note? Offer to read a chapter and give some quality feedback? What can I do to bless someone else this month?

What about you? How do you carve out time to write? How can you encourage another writer this month?

Enjoy the season (from the ground...or from the skies),


Image from freefoto.com

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

One Thousand Gifts--A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

It started as a dare.

Could Ann Voskamp--an author, farmer's wife, homeschooling mom to six children, who was dissatisfied, even ungrateful, with her life--count her blessings all the way to 1,000?

She took the challenge, recording blessings each day in a journal she kept on hand.

Not only did she discover thanksgiving--Eucharisteo--but she got a New York Times bestseller along the way.

Pretty nice.

But the thing is, Voskamp would probably say that discovering joy in the moments at hand was by far the more valuable.

Voskamp laments never getting to accomplish her Bucket List like seeing "black-haired boys under straw-brimmed hats fishing" on China's jade-green Li River. Then, she realizes the beauty and wonder all around her. She learns to be content in every circumstance. (Phil. 4:11-12) She begins counting her blessings.

Items from Ann's list:

#1. Morning shadows across old floors
#16. Leafy life scent of the florist shop
#54. Moonlight on pillows
#119. Still warm cookies
#343. Clean sheets smelling like the wind
#362. Suds . . . all color in sun

In her lyrical, fragmented writing style, Voskamp's book isn't a quick read. Her words are meant to be savored, peeled back onion-style, layer by layer, though others may find her choppy style difficult to digest.

Some readers may find the last chapter of the book disturbing as Voskamp describes a love relationship with God using sexual language. Though poetic and metaphorical, it's a bit over the top. Still, Voskamp has inspired me to write my own list and to become more intentional, living fully in this moment.

What blessings will you count today?

~Roxanne Sherwood

Monday, November 14, 2011

The 5 Senses - Do you use them all?

I read in a devotional by Robert Schuller the following:
Thank You, Father, for the beautiful surprises you are planning for me today. So often in my life an unexpected burst of golden sunshine exploded through a black cloud, sending inspiring shafts of warm, beautiful sunshine into my life.

After reading his devotion, I stepped out into the cool night air and turned on my senses, letting God pour his universe into me. The night sky, a blanket of stars, too numerous for me to count sparked down on me. The scent of sage drifted on the night breeze kissing my cheek. The coyotes yipped in the distance as they made their nightly rounds. The taste of peace touched my tongue as I sang out a song to our Lord.

This is the season of Thanksgiving. And if there is one thing I’m thankful for it is the gift of our senses that God has given us. It surprises me daily.

When I use to walk through my gardens in Ohio the scents I inhaled amazed me. The smell of damp loam, the sweet fragrance of a rose, or the spicy aroma of Monarda, tantalized my senses. Now in Nevada, the scent of sage is all around me.

Equally stunning and surprising are the variety of colors I see—the bright red of Pointsettias, the azure blue of a cloudless summer day, or the bright green of new leaves in the spring.

I’m sure you don’t want me to continue my litany. But as writers it is something that pulls in a reaction from our readers. What do you think of when you smell homemade bread? Is it comforting to you? Do you cringe when you hear the screech of tires on asphalt? What do you feel when your fingers caress the softness of babies skin? Is it longing or do you drift into memories of when your children were young?

I thought when I started writing this blog a couple of weeks ago that it would be foolish. Don’t all writers do this? I looked.

They don’t.

Even some of the bestsellers forget to use all of the five senses. So I challenge you to picture yourself in a scene, close your eyes and ask yourself: What do I smell? What can I touch and how does feel? Is it smooth, cold, or soft? Don’t forget sounds you may hear in the scene or in the distance. What little detail can you surprise the reader with? Or create a sense of dejavu? How does it taste? That one is almost always missing.

When you look at your writing style, do you use all of them in a scene? If not, what sense do you usually forget?

Jennie Atkins

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hi, My Name Is Jenness And I'm...

...a reject.

Yes. I totally just admitted that on the internet.

It started as early as first grade, when a story I wrote and illustrated for a class contest didn't win first. In fact, it didn't even get a gold star for effort. And I'd been thoroughly convinced I was top dog in the writing world already!

It continued through high school and college, where short story after short story came back with a "No, thank you" or just a box marked with an x to tell me what I'd done wrong. I received so many, I used to post my rejection letters on a corkboard I jokingly called my Wall of Shame.

Next came the emails and letters from agents after I finished my first novel. Oh, and the bad contest scores. The things we could say about them!

But Beth suggested writing about something I'm thankful for as a writer, and that bulletin board I used to keep of rejection letters is somewhere near the top of that list. Here's why:

1. The rejections were proof that I was writing something! I was actively working toward my dream of being published. I was paying my dues.

2. I needed it! Some of those rejections kept stories from seeing the light of day that would have eventually embarrassed me. Severely. Some saved a good storyline from being wasted in a slush of prose that needed oh so much improvement.

3. I could see evidence of growth in my writing through many of the responses. I could learn from what wasn't working for the editor/agent, or I could take heart when they indicated they were interested but just didn't have a slot for me at that point. (I don't know if he still does it, but Steve Laube used to include letter grades in many of his rejection letters. Quite handy!)  

4. They helped me to learn to trust God's plan and His timing. One of the very few times I allowed a rejection letter to discourage me was when it looked possible that an agent might sign me on. I wasn't sure we were the right fit, but it would have been just in time for Christmas. And wouldn't that be an incredible present? An agent? But God had someone else in mind, and His plan is perfect. Isn't it so much easier to not stress about rejections when you know He loves you and knows what is best for you?

5. Rejections give you a great excuse to eat chocolate, and who isn't thankful for that?

Are there any particular rejections you've received that you're especially grateful for?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Revisions of the written, spiritual, and, well, closet sort.

<--See that? It’s a photo of my newly cleaned out walk-in closet.

Let’s take a moment to admire my Martha Stewart-like abilities. I’m not sure the photo does it justice. Trust me, this closet is like something from Real Simple or one of those other home organization type magazines. In fact, they should probably feature me in a cover piece. That is, as long as they don’t look in my coat closet…or office closet…or kitchen cupboards.

Okay, boasting over. Cue the confessions: Yes, this closet looks beautiful. Yes, I was so proud of my organizational efforts, I literally sat on the floor of the closet at 1 a.m. admiring my handiwork.

Yes…this late-night project was the result of a writer’s breakdown.

It’s true: I freaked out over the weekend. I decided my current WIP is a joke, the plot’s a mess and the characters as shallow as any one of the High School Musical movies. (Sorry, Zac.) Things just weren’t clicking for Writer Melissa that night. I got frustrated. I didn’t handle it well. And while outwardly I vented by cleaning – admittedly better than snack-binging or head-bashing, sure –  inwardly I thought all the wrong thoughts.

I’ll never write as good as So-and-So.

Mr./Ms. Editor/Agent is going to laugh at the fact that they ever requested my proposal.

I. Stink. At. This.

The thing is, as my mental merry-go-round whirled in a blur of negativity, I knew my thoughts were wrong. I knew I was allowing Satan to lie to me. And I knew what I needed to do to set things right: Pray. Spend time in God’s Word. Take my thoughts captive.

But I didn’t. Instead, I muttered my way through a closet cleaning. (What’s extra sad here is usually, nerdy as it sounds, I love cleaning out my closet. This time? Not so much.)

When I woke up the next day, discouragement still tugged at my heart, but worse was the regret at my mindset of the night before…my failure to take the mature mental path. But God – like He always does when our hearts are open even a crack – reminded me that I always have the opportunity to begin again.

Just like I’ll be revising my way through my WIP in the next month, I have the opportunity to revise my behavior, my thought life, my actions on a daily basis. Just like my closet makeover, God is willing and able to make over me. He is the ultimate Revision-ist, more than able to take what’s rough and sand it smooth.

So that’s what I’ll be thanking God for this Thanksgiving – second and third and bazillionth chances on this road to becoming not only the writer, but the woman, He means for me to be. I pray you’ll find encouragement in God’s faithfulness during the revision process, too.

Let’s chat: How does God encourage you during the revision process – either in your writing or life in general?                                                                                                                   

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Guest Blogger: Tina James Talks Love Inspired Historical

Hi everyone! I’m Tina James, Senior Editor of Love Inspired Historical and Love Inspired Suspense.  I’m here today to chat with you about writing for Love Inspired Historical.

The Love Inspired Historical line offers captivating stories of romance and adventure set in earlier eras, when faith played a major role in everyday lives. From rugged handsome cowboys of the West to proper English gentlemen in Regency England, Love Inspired Historical books sweep readers away to a place where love is timeless. 

If you’re interested in writing a historical romance, now is a wonderful time to submit to Love Inspired Historical.   Since expanding our offerings from two books to four books a month, we have some great opportunities for both new, unpublished authors, and previously published authors.

We are seeking manuscripts approximately 70,000-75,000 words in length, rich in historical details and set in various countries and time periods, ranging from biblical times through World War II.   Our most popular period is westerns, set mostly in the 1800’s.   After all, who can resist reading about rugged handsome cowboys of the West?   But we are also looking for a variety of settings including Regency, Scottish, Amish, and exotic locales.

Some innovative story ideas that I would be interested in seeing include--stories about women pioneers who become doctors, nurses, social workers, journalists, suffragettes, or teachers; stories about bounty hunters; stories about immigrants coming to America; or stories set in Africa or Asia about missionaries.

We are looking for writers who can craft a compelling, highly emotional and historically accurate romance. We want to see unique, engaging writing styles, with likeable and believable characters whose actions are appropriate to their time periods.  We want to see opening chapters that grab the reader’s attention from the first line of the story.

Please see our writing guidelines at www.Harlequin.com to learn more about Love Inspired Historical.

If your author voice, characters and plot fit Love Inspired Historical, I hope I’ve encouraged you to try to write a Love Inspired Historical and submit it to me.  If you’re a published author, we only require a synopsis and three sample chapters.  For unpublished authors, we ask that you submit a synopsis and complete manuscript. You can mail your submission to my attention at 233 Broadway, Suite 1001, New York, NY 10279 or have your agent get in touch with me.

Happy writing!
Tina James

Monday, November 7, 2011

Book Review (and Contest): Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist

Author Deaanne Gist's latest novel, Love on the Line, sets an independent heroine and a just-as-strong Texas Ranger hero against one another. The plot involves train robbers, the early days of telephones -- and animals' rights.

Yep, that's right.

Switchboard operator Georgia Gail is also a bird-lover. With a backyard that's a natural refuge for all kind of birds, she detests how women's clothes -- particularly women's bonnets -- are decorated with bird feathers, bird heads and sometimes with entire birds.

I've got to tell you, that was one story line I've never read before.

So while Ranger Luke Palmer pretends to be a telephone lineman while trying to find a gang of train robbers, Georgie rallies the women to boycott the local store selling bird-decorated bonnets.

And, of course, there's romance. And mystery. And to make it fun for her readers, Deeanne's hosting a contest!


Deeanne is thrilled to introduce Georgie and Luke to the world in her latest novel, Love on the Line. To celebrate Deeanne's publisher, Bethany House, is hosting the Love on the Line iPad2 giveaway an Author Chat on Facebook! Enter today and follow the link below to RSVP for Deeanne's rip-roarin' Facebook Party!

One fortunate winner will receive: 

  • A Brand New iPad2 
  • An Autographed Hardback Copy of Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist 

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 7th. The winner will be announced at Deeanne's Author Chat Facebook Party. Deeanne will be wrapping up the Love on the Line celebration by chatting with friends new and old! So grab your copy of Love on the Line (it's okay if you don't have one yet - you might could win one!) and join Deeanne on the evening of November 8th for a rip-roaring book chat, a little trivia and lots of giveaways (books, Amazon, iTunes & Starbucks gift certificates)!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter
Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends. Hope to see you on the 8th!

*I received a copy of the book Love on the Line for review. But my opinion is my own. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

PSSST...Wanna Take A Shortcut?

NaNoWriMo is upon us, and while I'm not taking part this year, I am going to use the premise of NaNo to set an almost impossible goal for myself for November.

By the end of the month I will have my 85,000 word manuscript revised to 60,000 words. Much of the revision entails new writing, because ...anytime you change something at the beginning of a novel, it has a ripple effect, much like dominoes falling.

It also means I'll be sitting at a computer for hours, just as the NaNoers, but I'll be cutting and pasting and rewriting. I thought I would share a few of the computer shortcuts I use to eliminate having to use a mouse every time I want to change something.

I was astonished to learn lately that many writers know nothing of these shortcuts. If they want to cut, copy or paste, they use the mouse to highlight, then they go up to the little scissors or the double pages and click. Doing it this way, not only wastes time, it adds to stress on your wrist, fingers, and shoulder. Word (I am assuming most people use Word) has a list of shortcuts posted on their website. The site includes shortcuts for all Microsoft products. Mac users can find shortcuts at the Apple site.

Here are a few of the shortcuts I use all the time: (Capitals aren't necessary, and you'll find the CTRL buttons on either end of your keyboard. They have an asterisk on them)
  • CTRL X = CUT
  • CTRL G = GO TO
These aren't all the shortcuts available; the rest you can find at the websites listed above. I hope this will help as you work on your projects, and one more thing--be sure to sit straight, to take breaks and...but that's another blog. Oh, and the photo at the top? It has nothing to do with the post, but the tree is down the street from me and I thought I'd share it.

Pat Trainum
Follow me @PTBradley1

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

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Benefits of Plagiarism

I endorse plagiarism.

At one time, I was an unabashed plagiarist. I stole my favorite authors' plots and characters with the proverbial gleeful abandon.

Given the chance -- and the ability to go back in time -- I'd do it again.

All that copy-catting occurred when I was a much younger writer, say about 11 or 12 years old. Putting Bic pen to wide-ruled paper, I wrote wonderful stories that mimicked my then must-read author: Georgette Heyer.

Yes, I was a Regency Romance reader. All things m'lady and m'lord. Balls and morning calls. Dances and "diamonds of the first water."

Copying Georgette drove home the fundamentals of story: dialogue and setting and tension and, of course, the all important happily ever after. Echoing her voice was my first feeble attempt to find mine.

My almost-11-year-old daughter is a wanna-be writer. I smile and say nothing as she blissfully plagiarizes her favorite author, Donita K. Paul. (No, not me.) My daughter's stories are filled with dragons and wizards and quests.

By following in Donita K. Paul's literary footsteps, my daughter is finding her voice.

Plagiarism, while an understandable childish misstep along the writing road, is no way to achieve lasting success. At some point, every writer must step out and claim their unique voice.Georgette Heyer books line my books shelves and fill my Kindle. But Wish You Were Here, my novel that debuts in May 2012, is set in this century. Not a dandy or a fop to be seen -- but I did throw in a trio of bad-boy llamas!

Plagiarism, anyone? Were your first attempts at writing shadows of your favorite authors' novels? What did you learn from them?