Sunday, January 30, 2011

Writing on Sunday

As most of the readers of this blog are LDS, most of us have faced the question of whether or not to write on Sunday. Sundays are often more relaxed, with more free time than other days of the week. This allows our minds to be more creative, which makes it a good day for writing.

However, some of us don't feel that writing on Sunday would be keeping the Sabbath day holy. So, what to do?

The short answer is: that's between you and the Lord. Get your own answer to that question. And, it may be different for different people. We should not judge one another.

For the sake of having something to blog about today, I'll tell you my approach to writing on Sunday. To me, anything I do with the intent to make money constitutes work. And, I personally don't work on Sunday. It follows then, that I don't work on any writing projects which I intend to make money on. Does that mean I don't write on Sundays at all? If this blog is any indication, obviously not.

There are plenty of writing projects which are ideal for Sunday, but which are "not for profit" projects. I would submit the following: write to missionaries; write your life history; write your family's history; write an ancestor's biography; write in your journal; write (or email) a friend; write thank you notes; write on your blog; write in scrapbooks; write your thoughts about a talk or scripture at church that touched you.

While these "not for profit" projects may not be your current front-burner work in progress, all writing helps you increase your ability to put thoughts into written words. It will help you with your other projects, and I personally believe that God blesses us when we do our best to obey his commandments as we understand them.

Good Sabbath.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Details, Again

By Keith N Fisher

Last week I mentioned putting details in your story. I don’t think I did justice to the subject, so here’s another.

In the world of drafting and design, instructions must be communicated in a clear and concise manner. If a builder or manufacturer doesn’t understand the intention of the designer, walls can be built in the wrong places, parts might not fit, and thousands of dollars could be wasted.

In an interview with the manager of a steel fabrication firm, he told me about a drafting mistake made in the bolt hole placement on some wide flange beams. It cost thousands of dollars to make, and ship the oversize beams, only to find they didn’t fit. Man-hours were

As a builder, I learned the value of good drawings. There were many times when we had to use a tape measure and extrapolate real world dimensions, because the draftsman didn’t provide clear details. Other times, the plans called for a special feature, Like a dumbwaiter shaft. The designer would draw details giving a clear picture of the intention.

I saw a moveable basketball standard put together wrong, once. The base was sideways at an angle to the backboard. It caught my attention, because I’d just put together exactly the same standard for my daughter’s Christmas present.

As it turned out the person who assembled the other one, didn’t pay attention to the detail that showed hole alignment and once the pieces went together, they couldn’t be pulled apart, which was another feature the details warned about.

As writers we create whole worlds. Our design lies complete, in our head, but if we don’t communicate the nuances, our readers won’t see the world the way we see it.

I’m not advocating flowery descriptions, but if the protagonist can see a second moon in his world, I need to know there is one.

Try to imagine you’re designing a house. Think of what features you want it to have. Then explain it. Put yourself in the builder’s shoes. What kind of information do you need to know in order to build that design? Now examine your novel. Is there some detail you’re leaving out? Is there a valuable piece of information that will help your reader love your story?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to go back and add details to a story because my character changed something in later chapters. Worse, is having, to go back and add details to a character description or a character’s feelings because I left them out.

If you want your reader to see what you see, or know what you know, then tell them. Give them the details. Of course you know more about characters and places in your story than anyone, and some details don’t need to be shared. Dumbledore is not gay, by the way.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Take a Breath

by G.Parker

Sometimes we have days that leave us exhausted.  We're so busy running from one thing to another that we can barely squeeze a paragraph of writing in.  

This week was full of those kind of days for me.  My husband commented that life was supposedly more relaxed when your children got older.  Right.  Hasn't for us, anyway, and I know it's the same for many parents.  Especially those that have kids that are active in drama or band or any of that.

So, for those of us who have days we can have about 20 minutes to sit in front of a computer to write, take advantage of that.  Sit for a moment, take a deep breath and let it out slowly.  Turn off the outside world (if you can) and focus on what it is you're trying to write.  I feel like the wizard in Sorcerers Apprentice - "Did you clear your mind?" and the response..."Clear my mind?  Are you crazy?"

We are all just a little bit crazy, I think, to live in today's world and not run screaming into the night.  So, writing is our greatest therapy.  Just think of all the things you can put down on paper that release your inner tension and frustrations.  The average person that doesn't write doesn't have that help. 

So while our time to actually compose and write may be short, it will have far reaching benefits to both mind and soul.  It is in us to create, so create we will.  And save our sanity at the same time.  Good luck!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bumpy Landings

A book review by Keith N Fisher

I was thrilled to be asked to be part of the blog tour for the release of, Bumpy landings by Donald J Carey. The author and I have become friends through writer’s conferences and gatherings, so I cheer with him, but I’m thrilled because he’s a successful, male author in a female dominated market.

Those of us testosterone laden writers who write romance and women’s fiction need all the club members we can get, and Don has proven his ability to write a great love story.

The book, Bumpy Landings, will surprise and delight you. Don has done a wonderful job of drawing characters. Beth, the mother character is a perfectly drawn controlling mother. You really love to hate the woman at the same time as you are telling Jordan to “Man Up”. He does, and beautifully.

The story, set in an exotic place with an unusual plot, will make you feel good. Read it, you will like it. Kudo’s to Don for writing a good story.

You can find your copy of the book at the usual places of the publisher. And go to Don’s place for more info about him.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Making More Time to Write - Part 2

by Karen Dupaix

This is the continuation from last week of my notes from a very good ANWA meeting lesson on making time to write, given by Connie Sokol.

4. Built-in Boundaries. Connie said to go back to exercise number three (finding free time that we often don't see as free time) and choose activities that you already attend, but don't necessarily need to be focused on. She gave the example of a game or swim meet/track meet. You're going to want to be fully focused when your kid is in the forefront, but often there are times when you're just waiting for something to happen and you don't need to be fully focused. She also said that when we use predictable, repeat events, our brain gets into the writing groove more easily. I found this to be true when I wrote in the car while waiting for my son to finish his summer school class. We were asked to write three activities during the month where we could possibly write instead of just sitting or vegetating or looking through magazines, etc.

5. Writing Center. Connie suggested creating a mobile way to write anytime, anywhere. She told us of finding a lap desk that works very well for her. It even had a cup holder. I purchased a Dana on Ebay for about $35. I love the light portability of it and the long battery life. Now I need to find a lap desk.

6. Balance. Connie said that as we live a more balanced life, our writing will be more colorful and lively, with more detail. She suggested that every day we choose five daily absolutes that will keep us happy, fulfilled and sane. They would be different for each person. Assign each of the five to one of your fingers on one hand. Make sure you do them every day, and enjoy the results.

7. Deep Stuff/Surface Stuff.  Not every day is conducive to deep writing, yet it is important to write every day. Remember that some days it's okay to choose to write surface stuff--research, re-type, revise. She suggests using tabs in a binder or some kind of computer program to keep track of To Dos. When you have a To Do list of things you need to research or rewrite, you can take advantage of unexpected writing time by writing in the notes section of your cell phone, iphone or ipad. Nobody says you have to write chronologically from start to finish. You can write scene starters on a blank document on the computer or on 3x5 note cards and write in whatever order you want. Pick a card and start to write. It all counts.

8. Reward Yourself. I like this part. Connie said to reward yourself daily. Make a list of your favorite things and reward yourself with them. Try paying yourself Five dollars every time you write (see, you're a working writer already). Put that towards a writing conference, laptop, iphone, book, or Barnes and Noble time. Or, reward yourself with writing time--for each housework chunk or family project, give yourself an hour to read or write. Consider what rewards motivate you to earn more reading and writing time.

So, that was her presentation. It was great and I'm excited to try some of her ideas. Let me know what works for you!

Saturday, January 22, 2011


By Keith N Fisher

How many of you, when describing the scene in the picture, would mention the temperature of the water?

Several years ago, when my daughter was learning to talk, We went camping like we always do, on the fourth of July. It’s a family tradition. Some of us stay in tents others bring campers and trailers. We end up scattered all over the campground, but we get together for breakfast and lunch in whichever place we’ve reserved.

That year, I hauled my trailer up to the top parking lot and rose early to set up my camp kitchen half way down the mountain, in our picnic site. My wife and I were heavily into Dutch oven competition then, and we had a ton of recipes we wanted to try.

I cooked all day and my family ate well. When the truck was packed I started the engine to drive up and get the trailer. A strange man approached my wife and daughter, so I pressed down on the emergency brake pedal and left the truck in neutral on the hill to see what he wanted.

The man asked directions and I explained where he needed to go. Suddenly, as if I were sitting in my truck, I knew what had happened by the popping sound my emergency brake made as it released itself.

The truck rolled backward and I ran around it. I flung the door open and tried to push on the brake from a standing position. Leverage is a funny thing, and I learned there is none, from outside of a vehicle. The truck didn’t stop. It didn’t even slow down as the door knocked me to the ground.

There I lay, straddling the length of the truck, watching the wheels roll toward my head. I remember hearing my daughter scream, “Daddy!” In that second I knew I had to get out from under the truck or it would roll on top of me. I also mused about my daughter calling out to me.

In retrospect, I wonder if my body would’ve stopped the wheels and kept the truck from continuing. The sounds I heard next, made me wish it had. I heard a crash, then another, and another. When it stopped, my truck had hit a parked car and pushed it into the next in line, and so on until there were five wrecked cars. I had contusions, and a nasty bruise that covered my whole arm.

On another occasion we went fishing and camping in a campground. In those days my father towed a camp trailer with a boat trailer behind it. We were packing to leave and Dad began to back the trailer up to the boat to hook on. The macho part of me decided to save time. I picked up the tongue in order to meet Dad at the bottom of the hill.

Gravity took over. The next thing I knew I was hanging onto the tongue, my feet were sliding toward the camp trailer and I still thought I could stop it somehow. In the next brief second I concluded the tongue was about to put a wicked hole into the back of the trailer. My plan was to put me between it and the boat.

Now, something told me if I used my hand it would crush the bones so I used my wrist. I know I know where was my brain, right? There’s still a funny shaped dent that resembles my wrist, in the back of that trailer.

I stood there, cradling my hand like a wounded animal. When I finally looked, there was very little blood, but there was a gash about six inches long. I could gaze into it and see my veins and tendons. It was fascinating, but it hurt too much for me to care.

After a wonderful blessing given by my father, my wife drove our truck and trailer, and me, to the hospital.

I’m not really sure why, but I recalled these incidents during that twilight time just before sleep comes, the other day. Since they happened, I’ve developed logical solutions that would’ve saved me all the trouble. I should’ve just dropped the tongue, and I practiced jumping into my truck to see if I could’ve done it. I know the truck would’ve stopped if I had.

Besides, my walk down memory lane, I’m sharing these images with you to illustrate a point. These events still make me wince, even after all these years and I remember the details. You see, while the correct solution didn’t occur to me at the time, My mind noticed the details. When I saw my front wheels rolling toward me I noticed the tire tread and marveled at how good my new tires looked. I also saw the danger.

The point is our minds notice the details even in split second timing. As writers, we need to remember them too. The stories above wouldn’t be the same without them. The fact of my wrist making a dent in Dad’s trailer adds something to the story. We need to be careful, however, and pay attention to point of view. Don’t have someone else notice the tire tread. It has to come from the point of view character. Also, don’t make him/her notice something they couldn’t possibly see.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Write What You Feel

by G.Parker

This week has been kind of one of extremes.  Extreme highs and lows.  Monday and Tuesday we were preparing and having parties and celebrating my son's Eagle and his leaving for a mission.  Wednesday was dropping him off and dealing with the empty spot in my home.  A dog wandering around like she'd lost her best friend.  My two youngest sons moving into his empty room with amazing speed.  

When you are writing and trying to convey a feeling, are you able to call upon reserves?  

I will forever be able to call upon feelings of an empty home now, despite the fact I still have three children living here.  I know the empty spot in my heart that wasn't there before.  Never mind that the child is doing something wonderful and I wouldn't have it be any other way.  He's still gone.  And when he comes back, he won't be the same -- he'll be a man and his own person.  I remember him as a small child, scooting around the floor on his knees because he didn't want to walk yet, crying because he wasn't getting picked up.  His earnest expression only last year when he tried to talk to his brother and resolve some of the conflict in our home due to his older brother's choices.  I ache for the son I miss.  I'm happy that he's making good choices, but things are never going to be the same.

This is feeling that I wish to convey in my writing.  If I were writing a documentary, I wouldn't want it to be dry, I'd want the emotion to come through.  I'd want the moments to be marked and the empathy to be felt from those reading it.  I want the written word to have meaning in the heart of those reading it.

What is your desire with your writing?  I hope it's a sincere and great one.  Just like each of you.  Keep writing, and putting your emotions on paper.  You'll touch the heart of many people, and you'll never really know.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Making More Time to Write - Part 1

We had our monthly ANWA meeting on Thursday and our lesson was given by Connie Sokol. Connie is the mother of six children. She has spoken at BYU Education Week and other public venues, and ran her own life coaching business. She is the author of several non-fiction books and has recently been granted a contract for another book. She gave a wonderful lesson about finding--really making--more time for writing. I wanted to share with you some notes from her lesson. I will share notes from half of her presentation this week and the last half next week.

1. Your 10,000 Hours
She talked about research done by Malcolm Caldwell on successful people--legends like Michael Jordan. Caldwell found that what made them successful was spending 10,000 hours of focused effort. Connie went on to say that as writers, everything we do can count towards that 10,000 hours, if we are thinking. She encouraged us to think of things we do each day that are mindless activities, such as vacuuming the carpet. She said we could use that time to think about our story and solve plot problems or any other puzzle we need to work through with our book.

2. Get a Clear Concept
Connie pointed out that often what causes writers block is a fuzzy idea about what the story is about; what needs to happen next. She recommended writing a query, pitch or just a friendly letter to a friend, talking about the novel, describing the plot.

3. Chewable Chunks
Often we have free time that we don't see as free time. To organize your time better, write down what's essential to your daily schedule, then dig for chunks of free time. She does this in table form with the days of the week across the top and the hours of the day down the right side. Label main daily activies as Vital, Helpful, or Fluff. Next, use ADE (Abbreviate, Delegate, Eliminate) She gave an example of someone she helped. The woman discovered that she spent much more time surfing the internet; answer emails, looking at blogs, etc. than she realized.

The Other Wrecking Crew

By Keith N Fisher

A while back, I read Thomas Frank’s book, The Wrecking Crew. He has a marvelous way of putting politics into perspective and I thrilled to have someone express the facts as I’ve seen them in forty years of political observation and involvement.

I know there’s more than one side to the question, and everyone has their favorite issue, but the book spoke volumes to me. Frank refers to a particular portion of a political party as The Wrecking Crew, because of the way they’ve systematically disassembled our federal government. They raised hate and stratagem to an art form in forcing their beliefs onto the American people.

Recently, I’ve discovered another wrecking crew in our lives. CS Lewis may have hit the mark when his character, Screwtape, tells his nephew that it takes a hundred tempters to turn one good man, but it only takes one to keep a good man down.

Like the political wrecking crew, the other one uses hate, and deception to tear down the beliefs of an individual, and every time a person tries to rise above it all, the wrecking crew steps in with the most effective weapons they have. Things like discouragement, doubt, time restraints and regret.

The wrecking crew brings havoc into every life, but particularly that of a writer. Have you ever noticed just when your prose seems perfect, something comes up and shuts the process down? You begin to wonder if it’s worth the trouble, and why do you bother trying anyway?

In our personal lives, the wrecking crew steps in and convinces us to toss it all away. They debilitate us with thoughts of self-doubt and selfish desires. Faith is left by the wayside.

Just like our federal government, there is much good you can do, or have done, in the lives of those you come into contact with. Yes, there are system abusers, just like the activities we engage in, taking away from the important things of life, but the overall good, most often, outweighs the bad.

If you persist in your righteous endeavors, you will be successful. If you give in to the wrecking crew, they will destroy you. Like CS Lewis’ Screwtape, the wrecking crew uses every stratagem to work a wedge between you and your faith. Don’t let the wrecking crew win.

I read many books written by first time authors. Some have writing mistakes, some are works of art, but all have the capacity to touch a life in one way or another. I probably abuse the example of Harry Potter too much, but can you imagine what the literary world would be like, if JK Rowling had given in to the wrecking crew? She kept the faith and you can too.

Obviously, though, there are other forces at work, and many responsibilities we must fulfill. Don’t neglect your family. Try to find peace in the other activities of life. Many artisans over the years achieved great things at the exclusion of their personal joy. They gave in to the wrecking crew. Look at Vincent Van Gogh, and Ernest Hemmingway. Find the balance in your life and stop listening to the forces who are out to destroy you.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fresh Blood

by G.Parker

I think with titles like that, I could have been a horror writer...what do you think?  However, I just can't think that gory, so it's just an attention getter.  What I'm talking about is my critique group.

We got a couple of new members this past couple of months, including a brand new one this week.  It's fun to get new people and add their perspectives to the mix.  I think we seriously need another male person of ours has gone on hiatus and the two that are left are probably feeling picked on.  They truly bring a unique view of writing to the mix, and we love it.  They also bring a lot of humor! 

It's been interesting to see our little critique group grow.  We have struggled to remain strong for the past three years.  We've had members come and then drop out, one that's currently on hiatus and another that has expressed interest.  I like knowing that there are those seeking fellow writers and help.  This group has been great for me, I have four boxes of stories that I've received critique for, and still need to work on.  Sigh.  It's never ending...

But anyway, it's a new year.  A new you, right?  Have you found yourself a critique group to join?  Or are you already part of one?  If you are, good on ya, mate!  If not, get your butt moving!  If you are trying to find something to get your writing going from hobby to serious, a critique group is a must.  It has definitely made me a better writer.  

It's the whole voices in the head thing...I can hear them, even now -- I must go write...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thoughts on Networking

By Cheri Chesley

And I’m not talking social networking, though that does have it’s place. 

Last night, I signed on for my very first Twitter chat. One of my author friends had requested a handful of us have a chat about romance writing—specifically what sort of things need to be, but are missing, from LDS romance novels. She has a new project, and it’s something of a departure from her normal work so she wanted input.

We had a blast. There’s something about late nights, friends, and suddenly thinking you’re really funny that makes for a good time.

I know I’ve talked about this before—the importance of networking with fellow authors to help one another and to stave off that lonely author feeling. But this is the first time in a long time I’ve participated in a brainstorming session of this magnitude. I’ve forgotten how much fun they are.

Sure, we were focusing on Sheralyn’s characters, and setting, and conflicts—but I can already see how it will help my writing just by sharing ideas and thoughts. Sometimes, I surprised myself. I found a lot of comments triggered the, “Hey, this would happen in real life” response.

What’s your favorite brainstorming group? Your crit group? Your local LUW chapter? A close group of friends?

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Smile About Similes

So, how 'bout them similes?

Seriously, though. Similes are a great literary device that can add color and humor to your work.

I remember the first time I was introduced to similes. My 4th grade teacher carefully explained that they were comparisons and usually had the words "as" or "like" in them. She gave some examples: "As quick as a fox;" "as smooth as silk," "as wise as an owl." Then we were instructed to come up with our own similes. I wrote mine down and turned it in. It made the teacher laugh. I had written, "as shiny as a bald man's head." Her husband happened to be bald. Who knew?

I enjoy looking for similes in writing. I recently found one in a local magazine, it went something like, "as quickly as Lady Gaga changes outfits." I recently finished reading Matched, by Allie Condie. I enjoyed the book very much. Allie peppers her very good writing with similes. I won't quote any here because my daughter has the commandeered book and refuses to let it go.

Your challenge for today, should you decide to accept it, is to start noticing similes and start inserting them into your writing. Heck, we could even have a contest here. Let's see who can come up with the best simile in the comments below!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Keeping Up

By Keith N Fisher

I have three blogs half written on my laptop. It has been a catch up, kind of week and I haven't.

I got off work this morning, exhausted, with every intention of finishing one of the blogs to post it, but fell asleep instead. WIth other commitments popping up I didn't get them finished.

So here I sit, on the verge of missing a deadline, trying to post somethng so you won't think I've gone missing.

I've never missed a blog since I began to post here in 2006. There have been a few late ones, but I've never missed. I didn't want to start now. I hope your writing endeavors are coming to fruition. Keep going. You will be successful.

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Remember to Read

by G.Parker

There have been so many good posts on our blog about courses and staying on task that something else occurred to me.

Remember to read.

Reading is another source of fuel for the writer.  Many times, we are inspired by what we read -- either because we know we can write way better than what we have in our hands, or because we want to write as well as what we'd just read.

There are several novels that hit me both ways.  I'm afraid I'm not a fan of mindless romances, even though I write romance.  I like books that have heart and sould to them.  One of my favorite authors is Anne McCaffrey.  There are a couple of LDS authors that I love to read too, but I don't want to start any trouble by listing them...grin.  

When I was at Barnes and Noble before Christmas, there was an older couple shopping.  I was helping with gift wrap and they had two bags of books.  They were telling us how the husband went through several each month.  They buy them (usually on sale), read them, and then pass them down to their children.  They never read the same book twice. 

I want my books to be different.  I have several books that are stacked by my bed, and when I want something I know is a comfortable read, I'll grab one of them.  I usually read them at least once a year, sometimes two.  I remember reading one book over and over in elementary school until the librarian said I couldn't check it out anymore.  It broke my heart.  

I want my books to be that kind of story.  I want the reader to like it so much they come back to it again and again, enjoying the characters and situations and feeling a great peace at the end.

I find, though, that I have little time to read anymore.  I used to see contests on blogs that encouraged reading, and I thought - who needs that?  Now I can see the point.  I got several books this year for Christmas, but I only started on one and still haven't been able to finish it.  It's really frustrating.  I didn't even get to the stack of Christmas books I usually read every year, either.

So in your goals and desires for the new year, remember reading is important to the fuel of writing.  What books do you plan on reading this year?

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Moving Forward

by Cheri Chesley

The last week or so I've wrestled with my time and money issues, and how they affect my writing. I had pretty much settled on a path, but it's a painful choice, so I asked my husband for a blessing. I needed guidance--or, as we say thanks to my son--guidness.

Heavenly Father loves me. And I know He has a sense of humor. He left it up to me. I sort of suspected He would.

Monday, I fine tuned the first chapter of The Tyrant King and sent it out to three friends for a test read. The responses I got back were overwhelmingly positive (yes, I know I sent it to friends) with very few suggestions as to how to improve it. Mind you, before I sent it to them I read it a few times and I really like it. We're not going to go through this process for every chapter, but I like to know my first chapter accomplishes all those things a first chapter should.

Then, late last night, I received an email from a girl who had gotten The Peasant Queen as a gift from her grandfather for Christmas. She brought tears to my eyes with the sweetness, humor and encouragement she gave me in that short email. It's a humbling experience to get your first piece of fan mail from someone who doesn't know you, or know someone who knows you.

I've renewed my promise to Heavenly Father to write good things, to keep on the path He has set before me, and to always remember Him in my words and deeds. I know I can't go wrong with that plan.

And neither can you. :)

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A Ship Without Sails

By Darvell Hunt

A writer without goals is like a ship without sails. It’s hard to gain the momentum needed or maintain the direction required to succeed in today’s publishing world without having rigorous goals—and what better time to set writing goals than the beginning of a new year?

Yes, New Year Resolutions are a bit of a cliché and you may argue that nobody keeps them. I personally committed to eight resolutions last year, but only accomplished three of them—but they were big ones and required significant work, so I consider my 2010 resolutions to be a success.

But how do you set useful, productive writing resolutions? I start with just ONE thing I want to accomplish for the year. It shouldn’t be a wish or a desire, but a real goal that you believe you can accomplish. And, even more important than the goal itself, you have to believe you can achieve it.

For me, I’m setting just one major goal: to get representation for my middle-grade science-fiction/fantasy novel. This novel is written and polished and ready to be sent out, but the hard work now is getting an agent for it. My goal is NOT to get it picked up by a publisher, because that’s the agent’s work. My goal is to land the agent. This goal is realistic, though challenging, and I believe I can do it.

So, what does this goal involve? First, polishing the query letter and the pitch, then doing the footwork—submitting and following up with queries to agents. It’s silly to have such a great novel—and I think I have such—just to let it sit because I haven’t done enough agent querying.

So, what’s YOUR writing goal? How are you going to craft your sails so that the wind will catch your ship and sail you onto publishing success? Don’t treat this lightly and don’t just wish for it—make it happen. Decide upon one success that you want to achieve and put your time and energy into it. If you reach your goal and still have time left in the year, you can create other goals, but it’s best not to cloud your point of view with too many tasks in the beginning.

Sure, you can have other non-writing resolutions—and I recommend that you do—but I suggest you focus your writing toward a single goal and work toward finishing it before setting other goals. (That doesn’t mean you can’t work on other things, though—just remember what’s most important.)

Now. I have one more suggestion—tell everybody you know about it. Tell your friends, blog about it, tell your family and the people at work. Create an expectation in others that you will succeed. This gives you somebody to report back to. If you have somebody with whom to share your success, you will be more motivated to work toward it.

And, while you’re telling others, shoot me off a quick message to let me know what you’re doing. I’ll join your cheer squad!

And, lastly, DO IT NOW. Don’t wait. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing NOW!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Be Gentle With Yourself in 2011

Whether you are one who hates New Year's resolutions or weaken their stress by calling them goals, the advent of a brand new year causes most of us to review the past year and consider how we have handled our challenges and in what ways we are different today than we were a year ago.

This introspection can be educational and sometimes depressing. It can also be motivating. We often decide that this year, we will conquer those weaknesses and complete that elusive goal we've been chasing down for the past 5 years. And, this is a good thing. We should be constantly trying to improve ourselves, become better and reach our goals.

When we don't reach our goals, however, sometimes we beat ourselves up. Mercilessly. This becomes a self-defeating cycle. This is why so many people refuse to make New Year's resolutions.

So, be gentle with yourself when you decide to change. Be realistic. Remember you are human. Make your goals small and simple. Set some that are no-brainers; that you are guaranteed to accomplish, like: I resolve to brush my teeth every day in 2011. Instead of saying, "I will lose 10 pounds this year," it might be more realistic to say, "I will eat more fruit and vegetables this year."

It is not wrong to be human and have weaknesses. It is what helps us turn to God for His help. So, when you sit yourself down and decide what changes you want to make in 2011, be sure to include Him in the equation.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A New Year-A New Tack

By Keith N Fisher

On New Years Eve, 1979-80, I set the four digit point counters on a pool table to match the dates. It was, perhaps, a foolish gesture, but I was in a melancholy mood. I sank the last ball in the game I was playing with myself and sat down to analyze my life.

It seems we, as humans tend to use events like birthdays and the first day of the year to make goals to become better than we are. On that evening, I made plans that eventually changed my life. This year, I will, again be rehashing my values and making course corrections with the end result in mind.

Several years ago, I learned how to navigate a sailboat. The fascination of being part of nature, part of the wind, still clings to my spirit and makes me smile. I found you can’t just point the bow toward the harbor and expect to reach it. Well there are times when the wind is blowing just right, but while under sail, you have to use wind direction and plot a course. This usually means employing a process called tacking.

Simply put, tacking is a zigzag pattern that brings you ever closer to shore. You must fill your sail with the available wind and use it to travel toward a point down the shoreline from your goal. Then turn about, point the bow the other way, catch what wind you can, and tack the other way.

The secret is in keeping exactly the best angle to the wind. Really good sailors can catch the maximum amount of wind while keeping the boat moving in just the right direction. They also learn how to split the sails and adjust them for maximum trim. Yes, there is a science to it, or maybe art and I don’t pretend to be a master, but I’ve seen people who are.

This zigzagging course makes for a longer trip than if you were in a motor boat, but if you’re part of nature, who cares about distance and time.

Many of us in our New Years self-evaluation realize the winds have changed. We sit there with our sails fluttering in the wind or we find we’ve changed course and we’re moving away from the harbor. At those times we must find a new harbor, or turn the bow to catch the wind, take a new tack.

Writing, for me, is a lot like sailing. I know where the harbor is but tacking to get there is hard and most times I find myself with floppy sails, not going anywhere or in a lull with no wind at all. During good times, though, I find the wind at my back. I’m able to set a course directly toward the harbor.

On the boat, having the wind at your back is almost like being wind. The sensation is awesome. Sometimes when I’m writing, and I’m in the zone, words and sentences flow from my fingertips almost as if I’m part of the story. Then, there are the other times when I need to plot a course. I need to work hard to arrive at the harbor. Through it all, writing brings me peace. Not unlike the peace I felt while sailing.

I hope your life tack will bring you where you want to be. May your writing go well, and bring you the joy you seek.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.