The Joy of Hindsight

By Jennifer AlLee

Here it is, December 31st, the eve of a new year. About this time we usually look back at the year with nostalgia (or with a shudder and a prayer of thanks that it’s over). Often, it’s a time to make resolutions. Today, I’d like to look back, but way back…all the way to Christmas of 1995 and another time-honored tradition: visiting the mall for a picture with Santa.

A wee bit of context here. My son, Billy (who prefers Bill or William now, but at the time was definitely Billy) generally loved having his picture taken and was quite photogenic. On this particular day, he was not, shall we say, agreeable to sitting on a strange man’s lap and looking happy about it. I watched as Santa tried to charm him, bouncing him on his knee and never dropping his jolly facade. I, however, was far from jolly. I was mortified. I wanted to explain to Santa and anyone watching that my son really wasn’t a little monster, he was just having a bad day.

When the ordeal of sitting for the picture was over, we moved down the line to pick up the proof sheets, which they printed on the spot. The result wasn’t good so I had no desire to purchase a package of pics to share with family and friends. But I wasn’t going to leave empty handed, so I bought the proof sheets.

It’s fair to say, I considered the day a failure. My son was miserable, we had not brightened Santa’s day, and there was nothing jolly about the outing. But a funny thing happened. The following year, I came across the proof sheets. When I looked at them, I felt none of the negative emotions from that day. Instead, I burst out laughing. Not a snicker or a chuckle, but a full out, fall over sideways, tears of joy kind of laughter. To this day, I cannot look at those pictures without laughing. What I saw as a disaster when it was happening has now become a great source of joy.

To wrap this up with a pretty bow and show why this should matter to all you writers, let me say this: There are times during life (in general) and writing (in particular) when it feels like everything is going wrong. Those times stink, no doubt about it. But it’s just possible that, somewhere down the road, you’ll look back on those times and burst out laughing. At the very least, you may smile knowingly, aware of the growth and strength that came from the perceived failure.

So, as we say, “Later, baby!” to 2016 and greet the new year, I have one simple resolution: To find joy in unlikely places. Care to join me?

TWEETABLES
Jennifer AlLee was born in Hollywood, California, and grew up living above a mortuary one block away from the famous intersection of Hollywood & Vine. Now she lives in the grace-filled city of Las Vegas, which just goes to prove she’s been blessed with a unique life. A multi-published author, she’s worked with four different publishing houses in the genres of Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Romance, and Historical Romance. When she’s not busy spinning tales, she enjoys playing games with friends, attending live theater and movies, and singing at the top of her lungs to whatever music happens to be playing. 

10 Things I Learned About Writing From Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson


I always struggle with blogging balance around the holidays. I want to join in the fun, but I get a little tired of all the non-writing posts I read everywhere. Today I want to share my version of a compromise—Top 10 Things I Learned About being a Writer From Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
I love all the Christmas specials that come around every year during the holidays, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has always been one of my favorites. I identify with his lack of self-confidence, his heart for his friends and especially his gumption when Santa called on him to step up and guide the sleigh that night. 
And it occurs to me that, as writers, there are a lot of valuable lessons in this holiday tale. 
What I learned about being a writer from Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer:
1. We’re all born with a special gift. 
2. At some point we all feel like that special gift is a curse.
3. Hiding who we really are are brings out the bullies and naysayers.
4. We all need time to mature into our gift.
5. Trying to live up to the image of who others think we should be won’t bring anything but trouble and heartache.
6. True friends will see beyond our differences and embrace the essence of who we are.
7. We’re given that special gift for a reason and a purpose.
8. Running away from who we are doesn’t ever solve anything.
9. There will come a time when you have to decide to work within your gift, not around it.
And the best lesson of all . . . 
10. Being who God meant you to be will bless others as much as you.
How about you? Care to share something you’ve learned from an unlikely source? Be sure to share your thoughts below in the comments section.
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10 things I learned about #writing from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer -@EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Edie Melson—author, blogger, speaker—has written numerous books, including her most recent, fiction, Alone, and nonfiction, While My Child is Away. She’s also the military family blogger at Guideposts.org. Her popular blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and a member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She’s the the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com.

Write Your Own Happy Ending

by Heather FitzGerald @WriteFitz
They say to, “Write
what you know.” Yes, that elusive group of insider-experts (aka they)
are always quick to dispense wisdom and point out where we fall short. Alas,
they are unparalleled in their counsel and we must strive to meet their
exacting standards.
But aren’t they
also the ones that said ‘rules are made to be broken’? I think they might be
confused.  
For this post,
let’s focus on the first platitude. Writing what we know is sage advice with
which we would all agree, rule-breakers or not. And if there’s a necessary
subject that we don’t know? Well, that’s why God made Google (on the eighth day of
creation, I believe).
So, what do you
know?
Probably not the
same things that I know. Our differences as writers are what fill library
shelves with a plethora of choices for readers. One person’s life experience
can speak truth or give clarity to someone else. It’s a beautiful thing. And if
our own odyssey is still a work in progress, or a tale that ended in tragedy,
we can use our writing as a therapeutic tool to process those things that we
don’t always understand. A type of living journal, storying allows us to work
through issues and wrestle with problems in a way that we may not have the
opportunity to do in the here-and-now.
In writing my
fantasy novels, The Tethered World and The Flaming Sword, I did a
lot of this ‘write what you know’ stuff. And most of those ideas came from
positive aspects of my life. From restaurants, to hometowns, to character
names, I borrowed from my childhood and friendships to craft my tales.
But there’s one
particular issue that is dear to my heart. It’s been the biggest test of my
life. Although dealing with it day to day runs the gambit from easy-peasy to
hospital visits, I wove it into my story so that it gave a sense of
satisfaction and joy that my family doesn’t normally encounter in dealing with
it.
It is the issue
of my son’s autism.
Not to say that
he doesn’t bring us great joy. Or that we haven’t been blessed beyond measure
in many ways thanks to the gift of his autism. However, the world in which we
live is shattered. There are heartaches and hurts associated with the
challenges of a disability that this mother’s touch cannot fix. But I can write
a different journey for him in the pages of my books. And so I did.
I didn’t take
away his autism in the character of Brock Larcen, but I decided to make it a
qualification for something most of us wouldn’t expect: kingship. Brock’s
unique quirks and abilities make him tailored to the task of ruling a realm of
Gnomes entrusted with protecting a powerful sword that harkens back to the
Garden of Eden.
The Gnomes of
Vituvia are the friends my son has never had. They love him, understand him,
and look up to him. Although the Gnomes protect him, they also need him. These
powerful little friends and Brock’s kingship are a gift I have given my son
because I cannot fix the brokenness of the world around him any more than I can
fix the brokenness within him.
There will be a
day when all of our questions are answered. When the imperfect will become
perfect (1st Corinthians 13:10). A day that will complete all that we lack and
make each of our stories into a happily-ever-after. Like C.S. Lewis wrote in The
Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:
“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring
again.”
Until that day,
I’m thankful we have stories to read and to write. It’s not that I don’t accept
things as they are, it’s that I know where our destiny lies. I know what
happens in the end of The Book. Looking at the future gives me a better
perspective of the present.

What life
experiences have you had that would make a great story? Have you written it
yet? We need to learn from each other.
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Sadie Larcen
and her family are slowly recovering from their life-altering trek to the
Tethered World. That is until their aunt arrives clutching a mysterious letter
and sporting a black eye. The letter that Aunt Jules shares with the family
writhes with sinister implications. A new and menacing enemy has slunk from the
shadows and is conspiring to seize the most powerful piece of weaponry in the
land: The Flaming Sword of Cherubythe. The sword must—at all costs—be kept from
the enemies who lust for its power.


The threat
extends to Sadie’s autistic brother Brock. As High King in training, he now
resides in the Tethered World, within close proximity to the sword. It’s
apparent that drastic measures will be required by all in order to protect what’s
most important. Can Sadie once again confront her disabling fear, stare evil in
the face, and walk away whole—let alone alive? How can one teenage girl and her
family save a sword with the potential to start a world war? Will lines be
crossed even as Sadie’s faith is tested? Sadie knows it’s going to take a lot
more than strength, grit, and courage to survive.
Heather L.L.
FitzGerald
lives in Texas with
four someones that call her mom and one special someone that calls her his
wife. Her YA Fantasy The Flaming Sword releases November 1st on Amazon
and other online retailers. Heather is a member of ACFW,  North Texas Christian Writers, and helps to
facilitate the Manet writer’s group. She loves drinking ice lattes, cloud
watching, and getting lost in a good book.
You can connect
with Heather on her website/blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and  Goodreads.

When You Don’t Feel Like Writing

by Lynette Eason @LynetteEason 


What do you do when you
don’t feel like writing? Gasp! Not feel like writing? Is that even a real
feeling?
Um…yes. Unfortunately, it
happens. At least to me. Don’t get me wrong. I love what I do. I adore my job
and the flexibility it affords me. Believe me, I don’t take it for granted. But
I don’t wake up EVERY SINGLE day thinking, “Oh boy! I’m just so excited, I
can’t wait to hit the keyboard!”
For those of you who do
this, we are not friends and you can go away.
Just kidding.
Sort of.

Anyway, for those of you who
are occasionally afflicted with this “I don’t want to write today” thing, I
have a few helpful tips on how to get past that.
  • Sit down in front of your
    manuscript and edit. Sometimes when I edit, I’ll get a new idea to flesh out.
    That will generate some excitement about moving forward with the story.
  • Get your voice recorder out
    and start brainstorming the next part of the story. Just start talking. It’s
    okay if you sound like an idiot, you’re the only one who will hear it.
  • Do something physical. But
    read the last part of your manuscript before you go. Then while you’re working
    out or walking around the block, you can be thinking about the next scene,
    fleshing it out in your mind, getting it ready to be put on the screen.
  • Email a brainstorming buddy
    and cry on his or her shoulder tell her the story in a stream of
    consciousness telling. Don’t stop to breathe, just talk. When you’re finished,
    say, “Now what happens?”
  • Sit down in front of your
    manuscript and tell yourself you can’t get up until you write at 10 words. Yes.
    10. Then you’re allowed to go do something fun. Because I can’t write just 10
    words. I always write more. Granted, sometimes it’s 20, but at least I met my
    goal! Ha. Seriously, I’m willing to bet that would happen to you too.
  • And last but not least,
    adopt the Nike slogan. “Just do it.” (Most necessary when deadlines loom.)
Yes, I know you think that
that last one is not really the most helpful suggestion, but actually it is. I
look at it this way. Everyone who has a job has days where he/she doesn’t want
to go in to work. Writing is the same thing. It’s your job.  Unless you’re sick or otherwise
incapacitated, you go to work. Although I will say this, like some dedicated
people (who are unappreciated in the office environment) sometimes you go to
work when you’re sick. The good thing is that, at least if you’re a writer and
you work from home, you won’t spread the yuck.
Honestly, I really do love
writing. I’m very excited about each project God lets me work on. Like I said
earlier, I don’t take it for granted that I get to do what I get to do. I’m not
whining or complaining. I’m just being honest. Some days it’s just plain hard
work and some days I’m just not in the mood to go to work.  And that’s okay.
And I would like to also point
out that these suggestions are great for pre-pubbed writers as well. You may
not have publisher deadlines, but if you don’t get a manuscript finished…you
won’t have publisher deadlines.

So, what are some other
suggestions you could add to the list? What do you do when you MUST write and
you just don’t want to? I can ALWAYS use more ideas!

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When You Don’t Feel Like Writing by  Lynette Eason (Click to Tweet)

Lynette Eason is the award-winning, bestselling author of over thirty books. Lynette writes for Revell and Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line. Her books have finaled or won awards in contests such as The Maggies, Inspirational Readers Choice Award, The Carol, ECPA Book of the Year, The Selah, and others. Her most recent wins are the Carol Award in 2013 and the Inspirational Readers Choice Award in 2014. She began her teaching career in the public school classroom and has since moved to teaching at conferences all over the country. Lynette often speaks at women’s conference and retreats, but finds her first love is teaching writing. In her spare time she can be found hanging out with her family, loving on her nieces and nephews, traveling, and…um…writing. Lynette and her husband Jack live in South Carolina with their two teenagers. Life is never boring, that’s for sure! Lynette can often be found online at www.facebook.com/lynette.eason @lynetteeason on Twitter, and www.lynetteeason.com.