How to be a Courageous Author

by Beth K. Vogt, @bethvogt

It appears that one of my favorite songs in The Sound of Music is the song actress Julie Andrews liked least of all.

The Sound of Music. What a story, with Julie Andrews as Maria, the spunky postulant – almost a nun – who falls in love with Captain von Trapp, the stern widower with seven children.

I love the scene where Maria sings “I Have Confidence,” as she strides down the street in those awful cast-off convent clothes, trying to convince herself that she’s not afraid of her future. If acting brave equals courage, Maria is one of the most daring woman you’ll ever meet, fictional or true to life.

Here’s what Julie Andrews said in an interview about “I Have Confidence”:
“The lyrics were a bit inane. Actually, what I did, because I couldn’t make sense of it and I have to have lyrics that make sense, I decided the best way to sing ‘I Have Confidence’ was to go completely nuts with panic and fear and busy work.”

The way Julie Andrews played Maria also teaches writers a valuable lesson. Take a closer look at courage and you discover that oh-so-brave person just might be faking it.
Don’t believe me? Well, maybe you’ll believe what some other, more notable people have said courage:

  • “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear – not absence of fear. Except a creature be part coward it is not a compliment to say it is brave.”~Mark Twain (1835-1910), American author & humoris

  • “Courage is being scared to death — and saddling up anyway.” ~John Wayne (1907-1979), American actor
  • “Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.” ~Edward Vernon Rickenbacker (1890-1973), American World War 1 fighter ace

For all our talk about having confidence as a writer, let’s give ourselves the freedom to admit that all confidence has a thread fear woven through it. We struggle against the belief that we can’t do the thing we want to do most. Write. Sign with an agent. Land a contract. Succeed at indie publishing.

But we start there – afraid. We don’t stay there.

Fear only rules the day – and our lives – if we focus on everything that could go wrong along the writing road: rejections, rewrites and all the waiting while others walk through open doors.

My challenge to you today? Choose to live the life of a courageous writer. Go ahead, admit that pursuing your dream is scary and go after your dream anyhow. Admit that you might hear a “No, thank you” from an editor or an agent – and go ahead and pitch your novel at the next conference you attend. Accept you may come back home without anyone asking for your proposal– and go ahead and polish that work-in-progress.

Do what you’re afraid to do.

It’s all part of courageously living your dream.

TWEETABLES


How to be a Courageous Author by @bethvogt on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2vdgDAW (Click to Tweet)

Take a closer look at courage and you discover that brave person just might be faking it @bethvogt @NovelRocket http://bit.ly/2vdgDAW  (Click to Tweet)

Admit that pursuing your dream is scary and go after your dream anyhow.~ @bethvogt on @NovelRocket #writing http://bit.ly/2vdgDAW (Click to Tweet)

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Almost Like Being in Love
She’s won a luxurious dream wedding—now all she needs is the groom!

Winning an all-expenses paid Colorado destination wedding might seem like a dream come true for some people—but Caron Hollister and her boyfriend Alex Madison aren’t even engaged. How is she supposed to tell him that she’s won their wedding and honeymoon when he hasn’t asked her to marry him? And while everyone says they’re perfect for each other, how strong is a relationship when it’s built around protecting secrets?

Realtor Kade Webster’s business savvy just secured his company’s participation in the Springs Tour of Homes. He never imagined he would run into Caron Hollister—the woman who broke his heart—right when Webster Select Realty is taking off. When Kade learns his home stager won’t be able to help with the Tour of Homes, he vaults past all the reasons he should avoid Caron, and offers her a temporary job helping him on the project. This time, their relationship is purely business—Realtor to Realtor.

Spending time with Kade again has Caron questioning who she is and what she wants. The man intrigues her—at times infuriates her—and reminds her of what she walked away from. Has she been settling for what everyone expects of her? How can Caron say “I do” to one man when she’s wondering “what if?” about another?



Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force family physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. Now Beth believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” Beth’s first women’s fiction novel for Tyndale House Publishers, Things I Never Told You, releases May 2018. Beth is a 2016 Christy Award winner, a 2016 ACFW Carol Award winner, and a 2015 RITA® finalist. Her 2014 novel, Somebody Like You, was one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2014. A November Bride was part of the Year of Wedding Series by Zondervan. Having authored nine contemporary romance novels or novellas, Beth believes there’s more to happily-ever-after than the fairy tales tell us. An established magazine writer and former editor of the leadership magazine for MOPS International, Beth blogs for Novel Rocket and The Write Conversation and also enjoys speaking to writers group and mentoring other writers. She lives in Colorado with her husband Rob, who has adjusted to discussing the lives of imaginary people, and their youngest daughter, Christa, who loves to play volleyball and enjoys writing her own stories. Connect with Beth at bethvogt.com.

Six of the Worst Things About Being a Writer

by James L. Rubart

This is far from a comprehensive list, but don’t you think six is enough for one serving?

1. Comparing Yourself to Others/Doubt/Insecurity– I combined these three into one since they’re brothers, or at least close cousins. We compare because we doubt which comes out of our insecurity.

“Why did I think I should do this?”

“I’ll never make it.”

“How can I call myself a writer when everyone else is so much better?”
This tri-fecta (Comparison, Doubt, Insecurity) is one of the worst of the worst things, but it’s also one you can do something about.

Change your script:

“I can do this.”

“I have the desire and my desire reveals the way I’m designed, and my design reveals my destiny.”

“This is my journey, no one else’s, so I’m not going to compare my path to anybody else.”

2. Lots of Sacrifices- no painter, poet, musician, chef, athlete, etc., etc., ever achieved anything of note without making sacrifices.

Yeah, that means forgoing overpriced coffee for a year so you can go to that writing conference, it means cutting our TV time back, it means getting up an hour early or going to bed an hour later, it means getting together with friends less often.

When people tell me they don’t have time to work on their craft, I say there is always time, what they really mean is too many other things are a higher priority.

That’s okay, but it’s not that the time isn’t there, it’s that they’re not willing to make the sacrifices to excel at the craft.

3. Rejection- This has been written about often on Novel Rocket so I won’t comment except to remind you that EVERYONE faces rejection—including bestselling, award winning novelists. You are not alone. You are not alone. You are not alone.

4. Expectations/reactions from family, friends, and acquaintances- When I first dove into novel writing, I was excited to tell people about how I felt God had invited me into the journey.

They’d smile and say, “That’s so cool! When is your novel coming out?”

“Uh, well … I just started writing it, that takes a while and it’s not that easy to get a contract and …”

“So will that take about a year then?”

“Hmmm, probably bit longer …”

Our friends and family mean well, but as with any industry, if you don’t know how it works it’s easy to make assumptions. Be patient with them, they are on your side.

5. The Pay- Overheard at a recent writing conference:

“Let’s see, it took 10 years before I got my first contract, and I spent $5,500 on conferences and books and retreats and travel and got a $6,500 advance and if you factor in all the hours I’ve spent learning the craft and writing my book, I guess I’m making about .03 cents an hour.”

But we’re not doing this for money, right? We’re doing it because we can’t NOT do it.

6. The self-appointed critic-
At a book signing a few years ago, I had a gentleman announce that he’d bought my novel and was going to, “Take it home and go through it page by page and write in the margins all the things you did wrong, then send it back to you.”

No, he wasn’t kidding.

No matter where we’re at on our writing journey, there are people ready to pull us back down to earth. Ignore them. Cut the rope they’re hanging onto and launch yourself into the sky.

Those on the ground struggle when they see those of us who want to fly because they’ve often never found the fortitude to take the risk. You did. We did. Let’s continue to fly together.


TWEETABLES

Some never found the fortitude to take the risk. You did. We did.~ James L. Rubart (Click to Tweet)



James L. Rubart
is 28 years old, but lives trapped inside an older man’s body. He thinks he’s still young enough to water ski like a madman and dirt bike with his two grown sons, and loves to send readers on journeys they’ll remember months after they finish one of his stories. He’s the best-selling, Christy BOOK of the YEAR, INSPY, and RT Book Reviews award winning author of eight novels as well as a professional speaker and the co-host of the Novel Marketing podcast. During the day he runs his branding and marketing company which helps businesses, authors, and publishers make more coin of the realm. He lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington. More at www.jameslrubart.com

It’s Normal to Feel Like a Loser

by Michelle Griep

So you’re writing a novel, la-de-dah. Typing away like a rock star. Day after day after day.

After day.

And then, out of nowhere, whap! A horrific thought slaps you upside the head, yanking you out of the story and paralyzing you so that your daily word count takes a serious nosedive. Suddenly you wonder if you’re an author, that maybe all the things you write are just slobbery bits of drivel bubbling out of you. Panic sets in. Perhaps you’re not a for-real writer. Maybe you’re an impostor. A poser. An orangutan mimicking kissy noises in front of a mirror. Or worse — maybe the zombie apocalypse really did happen and you’re nothing but a body operating on rote memory because shoot, if you read what you’ve written, those words certainly look like a person with no brain wrote them.

Or maybe you’re just a loser.

Never fear, little writer. I’m here to tell you that you’re not a loser. You’re normal. Every writer hits this point at some time in every single manuscript they write — and sometimes more than once. Hating your writing and feeling like pond scum is par for the course. Why?

Because creation is the process of making something out of nothing, and that something takes blood, sweat, and tears to mold into a beautiful masterpiece.

Think about this . . . Babies don’t pop out of their mothers all smiley faced and swaddled in fluffy rubber ducky blankies. They come out screaming and howling, all mucked up with oobie-goobies and require a good cleaning and lots of love. You don’t think that mom had second doubts during the heat of labor? She’d have packed up and gone home at that point if she could.

That’s how it works for your story, too. Don’t pack it up. Press on through the birth pains. Push out that ugly story so that it can be cleaned off and wrapped up into a beautiful book cover.

The only way out is through, folks, no matter how you feel. Take your hand off your forehead (yes, I see that big “L” you’re making with your forefinger and thumb) and get those fingers on your keyboard instead.


Author Michelle Griep

ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~ MICHELLE GRIEP

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.

Title Photo Copyright: sifotography / 123RF Stock Photo

Pitching Pointers

by Michelle Griep @MichelleGriep

It’s that time of year to start registering for writers conferences. That means there will be a whole lot of angst-filled author wannabes out there, biting their fingernails down to stubs . . . which makes it super hard to type anything.

Not that it’s scary to go to a conference, mind you. The real terror sets in when it’s story-pitching time. Sitting across from a god-like agent or editor who can crush you faster than the bat of an eyelash—or fast-track you to stardom. I’m not going to lie. It is a bit daunting. 


But never fear, little writers. I’m here for you, and today we’re going to talk a bit about your pitch, your one-line, your grabber . . . whatever you want to label it. Here’s the deal: you need to be able to tell your story in one sentence, and that sentence needs a few elements to reel in that editor.

3 Pitch Perfect Pointers

1. Snarky
Not as in sarcastic, but as in ironic. The best pitches are those that incorporate the opposites attract theory because whammo! Imminent conflict instantly grabs a person’s attention. See if you can find the irony/snark in the following:

A 17th century tale of adventure on the Caribbean Sea where a roguish yet charming pirate captain teams up with a young blacksmith in a gallant attempt to rescue the Governor of England’s daughter to reclaim his ship.

The irony here is a pirate is going to save a proper lady, and yes, it’s Pirates of the Caribbean.

2. Succinct
Every word counts in a pitch, so make the most of them. Yeah, you’ll sweat buckets of blood while working this out, but in the end, it’s worth it because you’ll be able to state the soul of your story in one sentence while other wannabes will babble themselves into oblivion. Example:

A young man and woman from different social classes fall in love aboard an ill-fated voyage at sea.

There you have Titanic in 18 words.

3. Cinematic

Paint a picture in the listener’s mind so they can visualize your novel, and I guarantee you, you’ll make an impression. Keep it simple and use common words that everyone’s had experience with. Example:

A cop comes to L.A. to visit his estranged wife when her office building is taken over by terrorists.

Can’t you just see the tough-guy cop taking on the masked, heavily armed bad guys? Shoot, I can even see the wife hiding underneath a mahogany desk, and I’ve never even watched Die Hard.

If you incorporate these three tips next time you write a pitch, you’ll be a step ahead of the rest of the writerly bunch. Sure, you’ll still have nails gnawed down to the quick, but even so, you just might land yourself a contract.

TWEETABLES

Pitching Pointers by Michelle Griep (Click to Tweet)

You need to be able to tell your story in one sentence~ Michelle Griep (Click to Tweet)

3 Pitch Perfect Pointers by Michelle Griep (Click to Tweet)

Author Michelle Griep

ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~ MICHELLE GRIEP

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.