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And the New Year Means…?

2016 is a big year for my family. My oldest graduates from high school and heads to college. My youngest just got her driver’s license and is off to parts unknown. My husband and I spend our time planning our “empty nester” stage in ways that both excite and frighten me to no end.fireworks

And the writing? Well, I’ve hit a snag. Last year, after finishing The Power of Faith When Tragedy Strikes by Chris and Terry Norton, my head was a mess–my creative head. Toward the end of the project, I couldn’t wait to get back to fiction where I could just make stuff up. I thought I was ready to dive head first back into my abandoned series, but after reading the first two books and a novella, I couldn’t find my mojo.

So I did what I always did whenever I got stuck. I read craft books–the ones that inspired me and guided me through every book I wrote.

Nada.

I reread my favorite authors.

Nope.

I decided to take the holidays off and not think about it for awhile. Enjoy the family, eat lots of food, and worry about it in 2016.

Now 2016 is here, and I’m starting to feel the fire again. I read some fantastic stuff out of my genre and signed up for an online class that begins today. When my laptop recently died, and along with it my floundering work in progress, I could have taken it as a sign to quit or take a little longer time off. Instead, I took it as a sign to email my files to my home computer and get back to finding the joy.

I’ll let you know how how it turns out, but things are looking up. What does the New Year mean to you?

photo credit: Happy New Year !!! via photopin (license)

Remember the Joy

It’s finally out. The Power of Faith When Tragedy Strikes, A Father-Son Memoir by Chris & Terry Norton has been published and is out in the world! Power of Faith for stand 2

Feel that breeze? That’s my sigh of…Relief? Satisfaction? Accomplishment?

All of the above.

When I was done, I published a novella I managed to write during my ghostwriting days, and…
I cleaned out the garage, all our closets, and my office. I’m re-reading my old favorite writing books–Stein on Writing, Techniques of the Selling Writer, The Fire in Fiction–in preparation for the next book in my Kiss & Tell series. But I still felt a little aimless and a whole lot conflicted. What did I really want to tackle next?

The answer came while catching up on my favorite blog, Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s kriswrites.com, and her Business Musings series. The post titled, “Obsession, Delusion, and Writing,” is worth the read. One of her long ago blog posts provided the nudChristyHayes_Kiss&MakeUp_200ge I needed to self publish, and this one–right when I was floundering–got me back on track. I enjoy writing, I enjoy learning the craft, and I want to grow as an author, and that means I have to keep writing and learning, and remember the joy. I determine my own success.

So, I’m getting
back at it now that I’ve cleaned my house and cleared the fog from my brain. I’m not in a hurry because I’m going to remember the joy. And the holidays are right around the corner. And my boy’s a senior. And a thousand other reasons. I’m going to remember the joy in all of it. And you should to.

Give It To Me Straight

When writing The Power of Faith When Tragedy Strikes for Chris and Terry Norton, I’d lined up an editor who was instrumental in getting the book off the ground. She offered advice, made professional connections that were invaluable, and even prayed for me and the book. When she had to back out of the project for personal reasons, I panicked. Where on earth was I going to find another editor who would understand and be as passionate about the project as the original editor?ThePowerofFaith_coverfinal

After much searching (and again thanks to my former editor) I submitted the project to a service that connects authors with editors by having the editors bid on and do sample edits of the project. And, boy, was that an illuminating exercise!

As the bids came in and I received the sample edits, two things became very clear: editors and editing styles are very different, and I didn’t want a cursory glance at the manuscript, but a critical analysis.

It would have been very easy to select the cheapest bid where every couple of pages I’d get a grammar correction or two and feel really good about myself and my ability. But I knew better. I’d never written in this genre before, the story needed tightening, and I generally stink at grammar.

In the long run, my choice was easy. Of all the bids I received, one had so many track changes comments, deletions, suggestions, and explanations, that I knew I’d found my editor. The story is stronger for her time and talents, and she led me to a final proofreader who went over the manuscript with a fine tooth comb and made the story that much better.

My point in telling you this is that sometimes the easy way isn’t always the best. If I want to pay someone to tell me how great I am, I can give money to my kids and at least expect something in return (a smile, a hug, and generally good behavior for a few days). When my name is on the cover, I want what’s inside to be the best it can be. Getting from finished draft to polished manuscript requires the expertise of others and the humility to do what’s best for the project.

What about you writers out there? Do you enjoy a thorough edit like I do? Let me know your thoughts.

When Lightning Strikes

On Friday’s blog, Tracy segued perfectly into today’s post about Chris Norton, who, along with his dad, Terry, are the subject of the upcoming release, The Power of Faith When Tragedy Strikes. I’ve spent the last year + working on this book with Chris and Terry, and let me tell you, it’s been one of the greatest joys of my life. Background on my involvement with this story can be found here.

Chris graduated from college last weekend, walking across the stage to accept his diploma with the help of his fiaThePowerofFaith_coverfinalncé, Emily Summers. Word of his accomplishment grew quickly from local coverage to national and international news. The highlight of the week was a whirlwind trip to New York City for a morning appearance on Good Morning America.

The book is nearing completion and will be available around the time college football stadiums come alive with fans. The coverage was so unbelievable, so unexpected, and so deserved, I couldn’t wait to share.

Take it from me, the next time God taps you on the shoulder and sends you in a direction you never expected to take, do yourself a favor and follow along. You won’t believe the ride!

Batter Up!

As some of you may remember from a previous post, I’ve taken a break from romance writing and I’m working on a very special non-fiction project that is near and dear to my heart. In early June, I traveled to Iowa to interview Terry and Chris Norton, the father and son team behind the SCI CAN Foundation. Chris injured his spinal cord playing football for Luther College in 2010 and has gone on to do wonderful and inspiring things with his life. Chris Norton

My trip to Iowa was life-changing. Not only did I see a part of the country I’d never seen before, but I met an ordinary family who, because of an accident, have gone on to do extraordinary things for others. I met business owners who routinely go out of their way to help Chris and his foundation, young men whose lives have been immeasurably changed by their daily interaction with a friend in a wheelchair, and two communities that banded together and rallied around one of their own.

Let’s face it, heroes are not caped men and women as portrayed in movies and cartoons, they are flesh and blood humans who take life’s lemons and turn them into lemonade. The really special heroes share that lemonade with others. I’ve been blessed to write Chris’ story–blessed in so many ways. The editor I found to help with the book routinely prayed for me. She and her husband prayed for my trip! How awesome is that?

When I wasn’t looking, life threw me a curve ball. Instead of ducking out of the way, I decided to swing for the bleachers–and I’m so glad I did. If you have time, click on the link to the foundation and then check out Chris’ blog. You’ll be glad you did!

 

 

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