Michele Zumwalt: Bringing Hope and Healing through Testimony

IMG_2928In Ruby Shoes, Michele Zumwalt invites readers into her struggle to overcome prescription drug addiction. Michele gives readers hope that they too can overcome the stronghold of addiction. Her story is a powerful testimony of what God can do with a surrendered life.

Maybe you have a very personal story you need to share with the world, too. Maybe your testimony can help pull others from despair and defeat. I hope this interview with Michele will nudge you to get your story written and published so it can bring hope and healing to readers.

Addiction to prescription medications is all over the media lately. How big is the problem?

Let me start by saying how much I appreciate the chance to talk with my friends at Inspire Writers.  I have so much respect for what you do and I’m truly honored to talk with you.

Prescription drug addiction has recently been called an epidemic in America by the Department of Health & Human Services. Americans are only 4% of the world’s population and yet we take 80% of all narcotic prescription medications. More people die every year from prescription drug overdoses than from car accidents. Every 19 minutes, someone dies from a prescription drug overdose and as a Law Enforcement Chaplain in Sacramento County, I know. I’ve done far too many death notifications and witnessed too many preventable deaths just in our county alone.  Since 1999, the number of narcotic prescriptions in the US has quadrupled.  That’s why I wrote the book, Ruby Shoes: Surviving Prescription Drug Addiction, to bring hope to a hopeless situation.

 

How did you become addicted to prescription drugs? How long were you addicted?

Like almost everyone who becomes addicted to prescription drugs, I was caught off guard by the addiction. Most people become addicted because of an injury or some type of chronic pain problem. I developed headaches in college and started on opiates to treat the pain.

There’s nothing social about prescription addiction. No one goes to a bar to take some prescriptions. It’s all very benign and clinical. The doctors prescribed it, and so it’s safe, right? The problem is that prescriptions are taken at home alone and when we get in trouble with these powerful drugs, we are alone with the problem. I became addicted very quickly and struggled with this addiction for years. It almost killed me.

 

At what point did you know there was a problem with your prescription drug use?

There were several ominous warnings, but I can remember one time in the hospital when they were preparing to run an MRI. I had developed a fever, which I later learned was drug fever from chronic use of opiate medications. That day in the hospital, they gave me a heavy dose of Demerol on top of what they had already given me. I overdosed and had a grand mal seizure.  When I awoke, the doctor said they would do the MRI the next day, but if there was nothing on the scan, they would have to consider that perhaps all these medications were the problem. At that point I said a prayer. I asked God to let them find something, anything, on the brain scan. As absurd as it sounds, I would rather have had six months to live with the drugs than to consider a life without them. By that point in the addiction, it was as if they were going to ask me to live in a world without oxygen. That day, deep in my heart I knew that I was in real trouble.

 

How did you finally break free from the addiction?Ruby Shoes

My family intervened and put me in a treatment facility in Orange County; but honestly, it took years for me to come to terms with this problem. I didn’t feel like I fit anywhere. I was angry and resentful. I spent many years in and out of recovery. In Ruby Shoes I tried to provide the reader details about this life-and-death struggle. I believe every prescription addict faces it before they finally surrender. My final surrender came when I almost died in the ICU at Mercy Folsom Hospital. God saved me, even from myself. Chapter Eight, “What a Gift – Those Ruby Shoes” describes the turning point for me. I needed to know how much God really loved me. In my most broken and sinful place, He loved me completely. Just like Dorothy from Oz, no one could save me. My family couldn’t do it for me. I had to surrender this problem myself. I had to find and wave my white flag.

 

What advice do you have for someone reading this interview who realizes their use of prescription drugs is out of control? What can they do to escape the tornado of addiction?

The first word in the First Step is “We.” We can’t make it alone. Alone, is how we die. Together, is how we get better. Reach out and get help. Call any 12-Step support group, church, or hospital. You can even call me. My number is 916-439-7775 and my email is michele@zumwaltinc.com

 

How will reading Ruby Shoes: Surviving Prescription Drug Addiction help readers who struggle with addiction?

The Wizard of Oz is used as a metaphor to help readers relate to being lost in the strange world of addiction. That feeling of being trapped in another world with no way to get back home is the very essence of addiction. Ruby Shoes is my story about a devastating prescription addiction tornado, being lost in a foreign world, chasing brooms for fake saviors like Oz, and finally remembering the precious Gift that takes us HOME.

This book offers a personal account of the horrors of prescription addiction and a biblical, 12-Step, life application solution to the problem. Ruby Shoes takes the reader on a discovery journey that leads them to a much better place than where they began. My prayer is that those tormented by prescription drug addiction would discover they do not have to suffer alone any longer. They don’t have to die and become another sad statistic of prescription drug addiction. After reading Ruby Shoes they will know, if I can get better, anyone can.

Since my book launched a few months ago, I’ve been talking with people all across the country with similar stories of desperation.  We don’t have to continue to die in record numbers from this problem. Together, we can find our way HOME to Him.

 

Was this a hard book for you to write?

Yes, but two things made all the difference in keeping me strong, motivated, and what I’d call “writing with a purpose.” First, I had so much love and encouragement from my family.  And second, I knew that this was what God was calling me to do. My mother, Dr. Donna Perry wrote the foreword. You would love my mom. She has helped a great deal in the editing process, but more importantly she encouraged me to share my story and inspired me to do it for the Glory of God. My entire family, my husband, father, mother, and children have all been involved in everything from proof-reading to book signings. We all see this book as a ministry to help people and God has a role for each of us to play.

 

In a 12-step program, you had anonymity. No one outside your recovery group needed to know what you were battling. Was your decision to go public difficult? Were you ever concerned about “coming out” about the topic?

No. After so many years of working as a Law Enforcement Chaplain and seeing so many senseless deaths from prescription addiction, each year more than the last, I knew this story of hope needed to be told. The loss and devastation of so many lives gave me the courage I needed to trust God completely and not worry so much about what my husband calls, “the look good.” We just decided to use this book to speak the truth, trust Him, and love and serve all His children.

 

Tell me about your writing process.

Writing begins and ends for me with prayer. So, I started by asking God about the idea of telling my story. There’s a short story in Chapter One about how He, very directly, answered those prayers for me one day. Then, I began a process of intentionally praying for the audience. This was years before the book was finally published, but God already knew who would read it someday. It’s comforting to know that long ago, I spent so much time praying for each person reading my book today. God has a plan and a purpose for each life.

Next, I prayed for an approach to tell the story in a way that people, some of whom have never been addicted, could relate to the struggle. The idea of using The Wizard of Oz as a metaphor came to me during one of those prayers.  The actual writing of the book was done in much the same way. I would pray about a story or an idea and then write it. Usually, I didn’t even know where it would go in the book. At some point, God began to help me see the chapters and how the stories fit into the chapters. There was great deal of writing, perhaps a whole second book, which didn’t make the final cut.  All of those stories, I collected into a folder I called, “Cut from Ruby Shoes.” I don’t know what God wants to do with all that writing, but I know He is the Master of taking our messes and making them messages. So, don’t ever throw your writing away.  You never know what He’s up to next. J

 

How long did it take to write this book?

The whole process from the beginning prayers to final publication took about six years.  It’s a small book, only about 40,000 words, but it’s my first book and, as you know, it is a very personal story. This was my journey with Jesus and He didn’t rush me.

 

What obstacles did you overcome while writing Ruby Shoes?

Mostly, I just had to get myself out of the way. I keep trying to make the story more general in nature, trying to be inclusive. For example, talking in general terms about my higher power. But in the end, my mom reminded me that I needed to tell my story, even if it’s not for everyone. So, I wrote it true and now I know, that it is for everyone.  We all get lost sometimes, lost in food, spending, shopping, even Netflix or Facebook. We all wander away from God.  Sometimes we feel trapped or so lost that we know we might never get back home. But, we’ve all been given a free gift–Jesus. He died for all of us. No matter what happens, He has given us a precious gift which takes us Home.

 

Were there any surprises along the publication journey?

If you feel that your book is God-Inspired, never take no for an answer. For months after my manuscript was complete, I approached many agents and publishers. I heard nothing at all. So, we took the self-publishing leap of faith and I’m so glad we did! I was surprised that Ruby Shoes launched as the #1 Hot New Release on Amazon in all three categories. As I write these words, four months since the launch, Ruby Shoes is the #3 book on Amazon’s Best Seller list in the Christian Recovery and Counseling category and in the top 10 Best Seller books for Substance Abuse Recovery. The self-publishing world has opened the doors for every writer to reach his or her audience.

If you have a passion for what you are doing and you love marketing, which I do, (it was my major in college) then you have the opportunity to write a best-selling book! I’ve also been amazed at how, when you are called to write, God puts all these other people who are called to write around you. I’m pretty sure He does that because He wants us to love and encourage each other as we seek to do His will through writing. (See 1 Thessalonians 5:11) It’s the we thing again.

 

What advice do you have for an aspiring author who has a deeply personal story to share?

Pray. Seek His will in this and in everything. If you have a deeply personal story to share, it is very important to have people in your life who keep you honest and who support and encourage your writing. Surround yourself with other Christian writers who are trying to do the same thing. Finally, remember that our broken world NEEDS your story. We need more Christian writers to demonstrate how it’s done…not perfectly, but with perfect forgiveness and love. I’m praying for my fellow Inspire Writers as we seek to demonstrate God’s love and mercy for this broken world. May our works inspire others to seek and do His will and may we always remember to give God the glory. (see Matthew 6:33)

Ruby Shoes is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble

What questions do you have for Michele? Join the conversation in the comments section below.

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beth_thompson brightElizabeth M. Thompson hosts weekly Open Studio writing times in her home because she loves to write in a quiet house filled with other creatives creating. When she’s not reading, writing, or serving the Inspire writers, she can be found along the American River, pedaling her bike, paddling a kayak or walking hand-in-hand with her husband Mike. Elizabeth blogs about overcoming on her website and can be found on Facebook and Twitter if you’d like to connect with her.

Why Should Authors Invest in School Visits?

An Author Interview with Marci Seither, Kathy Boyd Fellure, and Jeanette Hanscome

Authors are encouraged to know their target audience and connect with the readers who will be buying their books. These tasks become a little more complicated for the writers of children’s books. Their readers may not be able to buy their books, or attend the industry standard book launches or signings.

Marci Seither, Kathy Boyd Fellure, and Jeanette Hanscome are three authors who understand the need to reach their young audiences in creative ways.

This year, they’ll be putting their books right into the little hands of their readers by participating in an Author Day at a local elementary school.

Marci Seither, the organizer of this fun event, has written hundreds of articles for local and national publications, including Guideposts magazine. She is also the author of The Adventures of Pearly Monroe (2014), Empty Nest: Strategies to Help Your Kids Take Flight (2014) and Pumper John

.Marci Seither - Author Photo by Ocean - June 2014     Marci Seither - Book Cover - Pearley Monroe

 

Kathy Boyd Fellure is the author of Nana’s Tin of Buttons, When the Birdies Came to Tea, Bear Cub Adventure, and Mr. Snowman Ate Our Picnic Lunch. She’s celebrating the upcoming 2016 summer release of The Misadventures of Jake and Missy, illustrated by Donna Plant. Her novels include a Tahoe Trilogy, and her current work in progress, Across the Pond.

Kathy Boyd Fellure Author Photo RESIZED 2 Jan 2016    Kathy Boyd Fellure - Casewrap Snowman Book Cover RESIZED

Jeanette Hanscome is the author of six books, including titles published through Focus on the Family and Running with Roselle, the story of Michael Hingson and the guide dog who led him to safety down 78 flights of stairs at the World Trade Center. Her devotional Suddenly Single Mom: 52 Messages of Hope, Grace, and Promise will be published by Worthy Inspired in March 2016.

Jeanette Hanscome Author Photo 2015     Jeanette Hanscome - Running with Roselle - Book Cover

The week before their Author Day in Sacramento, Marci, Kathy, and Jeanette blessed me with an interview and shared the valuable purposes and rewards of school visits.

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Why should children’s book authors consider investing their time in school visits?

Marci: Going into schools allows us to connect directly with our readers. It is also important to encourage the next generation of storytellers. Who knows? Maybe one day I will read a book written by one of the kids I encouraged. After seeing the impact that a handful of authors had on one school, I wondered how it would affect the next generation of storytellers if 100 Christian writers visited 100 classrooms filled with students who need to know their own stories are worth sharing.

Kathy:  During school visits, bridges are built that not only reignite the students’ desire to read, but offer the tools to help a younger generation make personal contact with someone to show them they also can write and/or illustrate books.

Jeanette: School visits show students that everyday people can write books. In this technology-driven, fast-faced society, it benefits them to learn that writing a book is a process−that it takes a lot of time and thought and planning and hard work. These visits also create readers. Something about personal connection makes a book more attractive and fun.

 

Kathy Boyd Fellure - School Visit Photo - RESIZEDHow do you feel during or after a school visit?

Marci: I feel so humbled as I look into their eager and excited faces. Last year was our first year to set up an Author Day. The school held a few assemblies and then the authors rotated classrooms the rest of the day. This year we have a bigger team and are really focusing in on the different aspects of the writing craft. It is going to be interactive and a BLAST!

Kathy: I spend time in prayer before and after school visits. I learn so much from students when I listen to their stories. I am always grateful and touched by the depth of their interest and respect. Afterward, I am overflowing with hope for a new generation of future writers and illustrators!

Jeanette: School visits always encourage and energize me. Is it okay to admit that it’s fun to be treated like a rock star? It’s just sweet! But more than that, I enjoy inspiring children to love reading and great stories. I love hearing their stories and questions, and sensing their interest. Afterward I try to predict which kids will probably become writers themselves.

 

Please share one priceless moment from a school visit.

Marci: I surprised a class that had just finished reading my book, The Adventures of Pearley Monroe. The class had done art projects depicting their favorite scenes from my book. The wall was covered with a timeline of the events of the story. Students wrote reports based on the historical facts I had put in the book. It was my goal to help kids fall in love with history, and I was seeing the result in a way I could never have imagined. I shared that sometimes it takes a long time to work toward your dream. I LOVED seeing their faces when I told them that everyone has a story worth sharing, including them.

Kathy: On a school visit, a student asked me to marry him. He proposed after I read When the Birdies Came to Tea to his class. He took my hand in his when he very sincerely and politely asked me, then waited for my answer. It was sweet beyond measure, but I explained I was already married. Though he was disappointed, he told me his dreams of being an author one day too. That I could encourage!

Jeanette Hanscome Book Signing with Student 2015Jeanette: During my last school visit, every child who’d paid for a book in advance got to come to the library after lunch for a book signing. At the end of the day a little boy came in and asked, “Is it too late to buy a book?” He held out a crumpled wad of cash. The vice-principal reminded him that he was supposed to order the books ahead of time. In a rare moment of boldness, I asked, “Which book were you hoping for?” He looked up at me and said, “The one about the dog.” I told him I had an extra copy in my tote bag. The vice-principal patted the boy on the shoulder. “Well, it looks like this is your lucky day.” Signing my spare copy of Running with Roselle for this young man felt special–like God knew he needed to be able to buy a book on Authors Day. I sold 60 books that day, but signing his book meant the most to me.

 

Marci, how can other children’s book authors join you in reaching out to their very special target audience by investing their time in school visits?

If you’re interested in inspiring students in your area, email me at marci_seither@yahoo.com so we can build a team of 100 Christian writers dedicated to encouraging students in 100 schools in 2017.

 

Thank you for sharing your experiences with our readers, Marci, Kathy, and Jeanette. I look forward to hearing what God does through your team during next year’s Author Day.

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Author Photo 2011 - Use for BIOSXochi (so-she) E. Dixon encourages and equips women to embrace grace and deepen their relationships with God and others. Her work has been published in The Upper Room, ENCOUNTER—The Magazine, Devo ‘Zine, in three Inspire anthologies, and at www.xedixon.com.

 

 

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FREE Workshop for Children’s Book Writers

7 Steps to Publishing Your Children’s Book

Have you ever dreamed of publishing your children’s book?

Marci Seither - Author Photo by Ocean - June 2014Whether you’re seeking traditional publishing or self-publishing your book, you won’t want to miss this FREE workshop, 7 Steps to Publishing Your Children’s Book, hosted by Marci Seither.

Marci has written hundreds of articles for local and national publications, including Guideposts magazine.

She is also the author of The Adventures of Pearly Monroe (2014), Empty Nest: Strategies to Help Your Kids Take Flight (2014) and Pumper John.

She’ll be joined by several local authors, dedicated to equipping and encouraging writers, as they share seven steps to publishing your own children’s book. 

 

DATE:            Saturday, January 23, 2016

TIME:             2-4pm

PLACE:          El Dorado County Library

7455 Silva Valley Parkway

El Dorado Hills, CA 95762

 

Be prepared to learn and be inspired!

 

Why Every Writer Needs a Writing Coach

An Interview with Sandra Byrd

PR PhotoDuring my writing journey, I’ve been blessed by several professional writers who have invested in me and challenged me to hone my craft with excellence. One of my writing mentors, Sandra Byrd, is a bestselling and award-winning author of over four dozen books. She’s currently celebrating the release of her historical novel Mist of Midnight and The One Year Home and Garden Devotions.

Sandra has gleaned a wealth of experience from years as a successful writer of contemporary and historical adult fiction, teen and tween novels, and devotionals for adults and tweens. She’s mentored, edited, and coached hundreds of aspiring writers toward fulfilling their dreams of traditional or independent publication.

During our interview, Sandra Byrd offered valuable insight and encouragement to writers who may be considering teaming up with a writing coach.

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Would you please describe the role of a professional writing coach?

To me, a coach is someone who comes alongside at any stage of the work to plot, strategize, teach or correct technique, read and then brainstorm content solutions, point out what is working well and where a writer’s strengths lie. Finally, coaches encourage authors through the finish line!

 

What’s included in a typical coaching program?

Every coach works differently, but my coaching program includes two hours together every week – one reading and editing, one personal coaching via online meeting or phone.

mist-of-midnight-201x300

 

Are there any steps a writer should take before investing in a coach?

I partner with writers at any stage of their careers. All that’s required is the dedication to see things through, which is one reason my initial coaching package requires a three-month commitment. After 13 weeks, you’ll have made so much progress you’ll be in love with your book!

 

How can a writer get the most out of their coaching experience?

Commitment to the craft and passion for their calling propels writers through the, “I can’t do this” and “my work is no good” periods we all go through.

Carefully consider feedback. You won’t always agree with the comments, but be willing to find out why a character, incidence, or plot thread was flagged. I encourage writers to be willing to listen to critique – but also, to be confident in their ability to discern what editorial guidance works for them and which does not.

 

What can a professional writing coach or mentor offer that an average critique group can’t provide?

I love my critique partners. But early in a career, writers’ critique buddies are likely to have little or no publishing experience. A professional coach is like a surgeon who has successfully performed a particular operation hundreds of times.  A coach can dedicate hours to your work each week. Our critique partners have books, and lives, of their own which may preclude that.

 

What can a coaching relationship offer that writing conferences or workshops can’t provide?

When you walk away from a conference, you usually can’t send your ideas, chapters, or the full manuscript back to the teacher for feedback. A professional coach works with you to build your confidence and strengthen your skills and story within your individual, unique book.  If something’s not working, you’ll figure it out together.

 

What makes a good writing coach?

A good coach cannot and should not promise a best-seller, representation by an agent, publication, or a book that will never receive a critical review.  No editor or author can promise this.

Rather, a good coach should help you develop your book a full grade or two stronger than it is when you bring it to her.  She should also work herself out of her job with you. You’ll improve your skills through this one-one-one teaching and be ready for your next book, and she’ll move on to the next writer, though each and every book will need an editor.

Devo Cover

 

What can a coach offer a writer who has a completed, or partially completed, manuscript?

I offer developmental editing. I’m here to help you “novel remodel” into a solid, unforgettable story.  I will carefully read your manuscript, marking it with many track changes and also summing things up in a ten or so page editorial letter. I have refined fiction editing to twelve to twenty elements that I think need to be carefully addressed before publication.

Our main goal is to make your book shine.

 

How have you been blessed by serving as writing coach and mentor?

I’m not the first to say it, but I consider myself a manuscript midwife. It’s your baby, but I get to help you deliver it safely, strongly, into the world, and encourage you while you do!  It’s such a pleasure for me when I see clients offer their amazing books, proudly, to a new and then growing readership.

 

What would you say to a writer who is hesitant about committing to the investment of working with a writing coach or mentor?

It is a commitment, there is no doubt, of   time, emotions, intellect, and resources.  It’s not right for everyone, and there is a right time in your life when you can whole-heartedly commit.

The Lord encourages us to count the costs (Luke 14:28), and I think that is good advice here, too.  But, also, I’m often reminded of the biblical admonition that I shall not offer my lord anything that costs me nothing (2 Samuel 24:24). I want to offer my best. I keep that in mind when I’m struggling with a book and need to set time aside for work or commit resources toward my research and editorial expenses.

There’s never going to be a time for any of us when we have lots of extra time, energy and money and nothing to do with them.  You have to leap!

 

Thanks for your faithfulness in encouraging and equipping aspiring writers to inspire the world through the written word.

Thank you for inviting me to share.

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Sandra Byrd has a few slots open in her 2016 coaching calendar and is offering a one-time special offer for Inspire blog readers.

Mention the Inspire blog special, and sign a contract before April 1, 2016, to receive 10% off any three-month coaching or editing program. (Click HERE to read what past clients are saying about the benefits of teaming up with Sandra.)

You can connect with Sandra through the comments section on the day of this post and through her author website, her coaching website, on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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Xochi DixonXochi (so-she) E. Dixon encourages and equips women to embrace grace, as they deepen their relationships with God and others. Her work has been published in The Upper Room, ENCOUNTER—The Magazine, Devo ‘Zine, in three Inspire anthologies, and at www.xedixon.com.

 

 

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Inspire Forgiveness to Launch Saturday, December 12

Join us for a celebration!

We’re excited to announce the arrival of Inspire’s 2015 anthology, Inspire Forgiveness.

Join us for a book signing and launch party!InspireForgivenessFrontCover_96ppi

Saturday, December 12th

10am to 1pm

Origin Coffee & Tea

2168 Sunset Blvd.  105  Rocklin, CA 95765

Authors will be available to sign copies! Coffee, tea and pastries are available for purchase at Origin, where all proceeds go toward ending human trafficking.

Get Serious! The Business of Writing

plan
We creatives write for a number of reasons. A true writer writes because he or she has to. At times, our desire to create overrides our desire for food, drink, even human contact. Other reasons writers write:

  • I have a personal story to tell
  • I have a sermon I want to broadcast
  • I like to imagine fantasy worlds
  • I like making up stories
  • (Insert your own reason here)

I’d like to focus on the not-so-fun part of writing: the business side. Moving from unpublished writer to published author has given me a glimpse into how much work there is to do in addition to actually writing.

We want to cover our ears every time we hear blogs, newsletters, and workshops scream the words we love to hate: Build Your Platform! Use Social Media! Tweet! Blog! Go on Goodreads! Make Sure Your Website Is SEO’d!

Right?

If you’re writing to get published, you must think of your writing as a business, and you and your book are a product. The first step is to create a business plan. I like five-year goals, so I thought about where I’d like to be in five years. Then I created a year-by-year plan on how to get there. It looked like this:

Year one:

  • Finish MS #1
  • Increase Twitter followers to 500
  • Start outline for MS #2
  • Write 2 articles and submit to magazines
  • Attend 2 writer’s conferences

Year two:

  • Query agents/editors for MS #1
  • Increase Twitter followers to 1,000
  • Finish MS #2
  • Publish MS #1
  • Query agents/editors for MS #2
  • Blog weekly

You get the picture. I didn’t reach every goal in the first two years, so I adjusted the following years’ goals to reflect the changes.

The second step is to break your goal into small steps. Do you want to be published in two years? How will you get there? Maybe it’s as simple as finishing an article and submitting it to a magazine. You’ll get a tremendous thrill when you receive your first check as payment for a well-written article or story.

Next, focus on your plan. Don’t be distracted by the publishing industry’s latest shiny object. If blogging isn’t your thing, don’t blog. If you hate social media, find one outlet where you can connect with others. Post your plan on a bulletin board or somewhere you can review it often.

Finally, pray. Remember, the God of the universe is your ultimate audience. If you are diligent, He will bring it to pass. “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 (NIV)

Jane

Jane Daly’s first book, Because of Grace released in January 2015. In it, Jane shares her inspirational journey through her son’s cancer diagnosis and eventual death. It is a hope-filled look at how God helps us through our darkest hour — through his grace.  Her current project, The Caregiving Season: Finding Grace to Parent Your Elderly Parent, will be released in 2016 by Focus on the Family.

You can connect with Jane on Facebook, Twitter (@queenjanedaly) or on www.JaneSdaly.com

 

Supercharge Your Writing Using Cinematic Techniques

It’s time to Get Inspired!

susanne lakin

Our guest speaker for this month’s Get Inspired workshop is award-winning author, Susanne Lakin. Susanne will teach fiction and nonfiction writers how to use cinematic techniques to enhance our writing. Join us for this informative and fun workshop! Free for Inspire members. Non-members pay only $15 at the door.
shoot your novel

Join us for the Get Inspired Workshop

Saturday, October 17th

9:30am to Noon

Oasis Christian Mission Center

10255 Old Placerville Rd #1, Sacramento, CA 95827

Step Away from the Vacuum

35702215_s“It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.” — Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Do you have days when you can’t make yourself sit in your chair to write? I sure do. The solitude of writing at home can be productive, but some days, household chores and an endless to-do list distract me.

Shortly after a cross-country move last December, I connected with Inspire Christian Writers and met founder Beth Thompson through email. She invited me to her home for Friday morning writing sessions. Different than a critique group, this weekly gathering offered a sanctuary for writing with others.

Friday morning writing is now one of my most important calendar items. About the time each week, Dee Aspin says, “I like having writing time set aside on my calendar. It brings a sense of ‘going to work.’ By leaving my house to write, I see writing as work rather than a hobby.”

Knowing I have the writing appointment forces me to prepare ahead of time. I put my notebook and favorite pen on the kitchen counter Thursday evenings, but even before that, there’s work I must do. What resource materials will I need? Will I need my Bible? My iPad?

More important than the prep work is the knowledge that even if I fail to sit down to write earlier in the week, I will get words on paper Friday morning. Writer Joanne Butterfield says, “During the week, whether I have written as much as I could have, I know that I can spend the two hours doing what I might have avoided all week: writing.”

Butterfield and I are both new to the area and have enjoyed getting to know other writers through the writing group. Plus, working together on our own projects creates a companionable quiet time that fuels and energizes us.

The silence may be unsettling at first. Chrissy Drzewiecki says, “We all went about our business of writing. No talking. Just writing. This was hard for me at first. I like to talk about writing. But soon I realized what an awesome time it was just to write.”

Want to form your own writing group? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Reach out to writing friends in your community to form a group. Not sure where to look? Facebook, the Inspire site, and Twitter are all great resources for finding your local writing community. Sacramento Meet Up also has writing groups. You may also put up flyers at coffee shops.
  • Pick a time, day, and location to meet. My group meets Friday morning, usually at one of the member’s homes. If you don’t feel comfortable hosting each other at home, try a coffee shop or library where you can write together without too many outside distractions.
  • Decide whether you will have food. Will there be coffee? Snacks? A meal? Who will provide these? Our hostess usually prepares coffee, tea, and light snacks to get us going. After two hours of writing, we share a light lunch together.
  • Build in time for socializing. Decide whether to chat first and then write or catch up after your writing session. Dedicating a time to talk with one another will make the quiet time easier to maintain. My group usually opens with prayer, gets straight to writing, and then talks nonstop during lunch.
  • Enforce expectations, but also be flexible. If you have trouble focusing and staying quiet, be prepared with a gentle reminder (to yourself or others). Aspin says, “If we have too much fun talking, it distracts from the writing time. Everyone in the group has to be intentional, or it becomes something other than what it is intended for.”

Also decide whether you will share any of what you’ve written for feedback. I’m in a separate critique group, and having the two unique groups removes any anxiety I might otherwise feel on my writing days. Not that your critique group shouldn’t feel safe, but a writing-only group can be the safest of places to get words on paper or screen without worrying about what readers may think.

Nothing feels better after battling a vacuum of solitary days or the lure of the vacuum cleaner and a dirty carpet than to sit down with friends and accomplish God-ordained work. The promise is true in writing groups, too: “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” (Matthew 18:20, NASB).

Do you have tips for a writing group or other ideas for escaping the vacuum? Please share them in the comments below.

 

Hope SquiresHope Squires is the author of The Flourishing Tree (Lulu, 2014). She and her husband are adjusting to life in California after living in the Southeast their entire lives. They and their exuberant dog are learning to deal with skunks, rattlesnakes, and “a dry heat.” Hope blogs about nature, faith, and the flourishing life at theflourishingtree.com.

Becoming Known Part 4: Guest Blogging

by Carol Peterson

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If Jesus is your Senior Editor, He expects you to get your writing to the people who need to hear the message He’s leading you to share. Becoming known is one part of reaching those people.

Writers are often advised to blog as part of their process of becoming known. But not everyone has the inclination or the time or technical ability to set up a blog and keep it going. The blogosphere, however is still open to you. Even if you already have a blog, you should still consider expanding beyond the cyber boundaries of your own little URL.

One way to expand your world is to guest post on other folks’ blogs. Unless you’re a New York Times bestseller, you might not snag a spot at the hottest blog on the web. But chances are, you will still be able to find guest posting opportunities that will allow you to get your message (and your name) in front of others.

  1. Look at blogs you read. Would a message you have to share be a fit with that site? Check to see if the author has submission guidelines for guest postings. If not, she might still welcome them. Send an email or leave a comment with an idea for a post you might contribute.
  1. Look at sites in the genre you write. If you write Christian novels for women, find sites that have blogs for those readers. If your novel is set in a particular locale, is there a blogger who focuses on that location? If your protagonist rides horses, are there Christian cowboy church blogs that might like to hear from you? Brainstorm and Google ideas where what you have to say might be welcomed.
  1. Look at your personal associations and memberships. Does your church online newsletter post articles from its members? Does your writing association have a blog or newsletter that is looking for articles from its members? (Hint: for Inspire Christian Writers, the answer is “yes” for both the blog and newsletter).

When you find a blog where you would like to guest post, write up a one or two sentence summary of your message; indicate a word count and when you would be able to submit your piece. Make sure you follow the blogs guidelines for guest posts. Then…ask.

Managing a blog is time-consuming. Many bloggers welcome a guest post that will give them a break in their blogging schedule. The key from your end is to think how you can be helpful to others in a way that not only provides something of value to them and their readers but also helps you practice your craft and inches you out into the world.

Work to become known in your own little sphere and then make your sphere bigger.

This series on becoming known has looked at:

Why becoming known as an author follows the example of Jesus.

How to tackle the technical aspects of creating an Amazon book review.

How doing book reviews for other writers can help you become known, too.

 

Carol Pecarol_petersonterson is a Christian woman who can’t stop writing about God, His great big, beautiful world and our place in it. Carol writes for women and children and blogs at: http://carolpetersonauthor.com

She writes to educate, entertain and inspire–children, their teachers and parents, other writers, and readers of all genres.