Monthly Archives: July 2012

David, Goliath and Michael Phelps

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This is a guest post from Elizabeth Elliott. In the wake of recuperating from an amazing conference She Speaks, put on by Proverbs 31 Ministries, I thought this post speaks to the all of the hard work and effort you have put into your writing, whether you attended he conference or not. Although no one saw the endless hours of preparation you put into honing your craft, God saw everything. May you be encouraged and inspired by this post.  

Elizabeth B. Elliott lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and three
mostly adorable children. She loves to read, write and tap dance, but spends
most of her time looking for her keys. You can follow her on Twitter
@ElizaBElliott

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David, Goliath and Michael Phelps

I don’t know who came up with the saying “practice makes perfect,” but I am
pretty sure it was the parent of a child who had grown weary of doing the
same thing over and over, day after day. With the 2012 Olympics set to start
in a few short days, I am going to guess that even an athlete like Michael
Phelps had his days when he just wanted to roll over and go back to sleep,
instead of jumping in a cold pool to swim a bunch of laps.

As spectators, we are not privy to the hours and hours and hours these
athletes have spent practicing their individual sports. We haven’t seen the
determination, the grit, or the discipline of both athlete and family. From
the comfort of our sofas, we are only witnesses to the main event. We only
watch when it counts. 

Though you and I may not be training for a specific competition we are
practicing something every day, whether it’s physically, mentally or
spiritually. But many of us may feel we are running on the treadmill of
oblivion until one day, quite unexpectedly, we experience our own Olympic
moment. Like David.

A young King David spent many unwatched hours practicing, just like Phelps.
But he wasn’t in the water – he was practicing with a sling shot. As he
played and later worked in his father’s fields, he used his sling shot to
kill animals for dinner, protect his family’s sheep from becoming prey, and
probably annoy his older brothers.

While Phelps trains with a specific event in mind, David’s chance to shine
came without warning. For 40 days, the Israelite army had cowered in fear as
they were taunted by the Philistines and the giant, Goliath. David’s father
sent him to the scene to bring supplies to his older brothers fighting in
the army. When he saw what was happening, he could not believe the audacity
of the enemy. David knew that with God’s help he could take down Goliath
with only his well used sling shot and one smooth stone. Though no one had
ever seen him practice, it was David’s Olympic moment. 

It is always tempting to give up and take the easy way out. We are easily
bored with the monotony of life. We would rather do anything other than what
we ought to be doing. But Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in
doing good, for at the proper time we WILL reap a harvest IF we do not give
up.” (emphasis mine)

What good thing have you become weary of doing? Are you tempted to quit
because you aren’t seeing the results you feel you deserve? We don’t know
when our turn will come, but rest assured it will never come if we throw in
the towel. Listen to this encouragement from your heavenly Father: “Keep at
it. Don’t quit. It will get better, if you do not give up.”

The 2012 Olympics will not be Michael Phelps’s first time in the pool. It
wasn’t David’s first time with a slingshot, either. What will you continue
to practice today, so that you will be prepared for your Olympic moment
tomorrow?

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Preparing for my Conference

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I wrote my last post Wading through the Shark Tank because I am struggling with putting together a concise and thorough presentation for a writer’s conference , She Speaks, that is coming up in a few days. This conference allows me to meet with publishers and pitch my idea to them. As I focus my efforts on this, I will stop blogging for a short time. I plan to write my next post and share with you my experience with this. I hope I have some good news to share with you!

In my absence, please feel free to read and comment on any of my archived posts. This helps me take my own advice and build my platform for publishers. Your support means so much to me and I hope I provide for you quality information that is as helpful to you as it has been to me.

Happy writing!

Wading through the Shark Tank

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One of my favorite television shows is Shark Tank which features eager entrepreneurs who reach out to self-made billionaires (called sharks)in the hopes of receiving money to take their businesses to the next level. In exchange for the money,  the entrepreneurs offer the billionaires equity in their fledgling companies. If they are really interested in an idea, the sharks will begin a bidding war so they can be the winning investor.

The billionaires are interested in ideas and companies that can prove they will make a return on their investment. Sometimes they like an idea so much they care very little about the sales. Other times they are interested in an idea, but are not sure they can sell it to their potential investors. They want to know there are people who want to buy the product these business owners want to sell.

I like the show because it offers hope that an average person with a great idea can receive the money and publicity they need to get their companies off the ground.  However, it also reminds me a lot of the publishing industry. As an author, you need to be prepared to wade through the shark tank and partner with a publisher that will best connect you with the publicity and resources you need to sell your books to buyers. There are two main questions you need to ask yourself when getting ready to pitch an idea to a publisher:

1) Platform- Do you have an audience for your message? Authors write to be read. If no one wants to read it, no publishing company will take a chance on risking their dollars on it. Do your best to get yourself noticed. Blogging and recruiting followers, guest blogging, speaking engagements and social media are all useful tools in this area.

2) Niche- How unique is your idea to their company? Does  your target audience want or need a book like yours? Is this a book they are looking to acquire at this time? Be wise in finding a publisher that is looking for a book like yours.

When you think you have a viable idea and audience for your message, you are well on your way towards publication!

 

5 Great Writing Resources

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With so many  books, blogs, articles and websites about how to become a better writer, it can be overwhelming, time-consuming and expensive to go through each one. I wanted to compose a list of five resources  that I have found beneficial for my writing:

1) Michael Hyatt’s book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World provides clear, concise chapters on how to build a platform. A platform is the place where you communicate your message and where your audience becomes (and stays) interested in your message.

2)The Christian Writer’s Guild’s Christian Writer’s Market Guide– This is an essential tool for any writer. This contains a comprehensive list of the most current publishers, periodicals and agents. If you are looking for a place to submit your writing, this is a must have for any writer’s bookshelf.

3) The Elements of Style by William Strunk- Any writer needs this book to answer   questions regarding grammar or style of writing. If you want to give your writing the professional polish it needs to shine, this book will help you get it.

4) Mary Demuth’s Nonfiction Proposal Template found on her site http://www.marydemuth.com. It used to be included in a seventy-five page tutorial, but now you can purchase only the template. Have a great writing idea that you want to pitch to publishers, but don’t know where to start? Mary’s template helps you create a professional, thorough proposal that turn heads in the publishing world.

5) How To Write a Book Proposal by Writer’s Digest. Once you have a template, you now need to know what to put in it. This book covers everything from comparing your book to your competition to establishing your  book’s unique  mission.

Have a resource you would like to share? Leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

5 Tips for Publication

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For those of you who have been faithful readers of this blog, you know that my publishing dream became a reality last month when one of my articles was published  in a Christian magazine. I’m happy to report that another article is being published by a different magazine, and those two articles are being reprinted on yet another website! I’m excited!

One of the reasons I started this blog is to encourage others in their writing journey and offer any tips, advice, or resources I have stumbled upon on mine. Although nothing I offer you today is revolutionary, I’ll share a little of what I have been doing to get myself to this point.

Some people have asked ” What’s my secret?”  The short answer: there is none. I don’t know why some articles get published and others do not. Assigning a formula to such an arbitrary process is like trying to understand the great mysteries of life. No formula will get me any closer to the truth of either of these things, so I would rather simply rejoice when an article gets chosen and press on when others do not.

However, I do have a certain routine when I write articles and submit them for publication. Here are five tips when writing for publication:

Maximize your Time– With two kids at home, my time is limited. I make the most of the time I have to write or edit. I treat my writing as if it were my part-time job, and rarely deviate from my schedule. Since I left my job, I now have my mornings to do a little work and since that is my most productive time, I maximize my use of it.  I begin my day exercising and time in the Word, which leaves from 9:00 until 1:00 to write. Find a schedule that works best for you.

Set Realistic Goals– I have been practicing the craft of writing query letters. I have set a goal to write one query letter a week. I write a generic template with basic information any publisher would want to know. I then insert the information according to the publisher’s guidelines where applicable. This saves me time that I could spend in the creative process.

Use your critique group– Nothing goal is achieved in isolation. We need each other to “Spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24, NIV). I am a part of two groups: one I meet with once a month and one online group. Other perspectives are vital in this process because they can look at my work objectively. They point out things to me I never thought of before. One word of caution: the more pairs of eyes that analyze my work, the more opinions are offered. Some of those opinions contradict each other. As a writer, you need to discern which opinions will help you best communicate your message.

Develop a thick skin– I rejoiced when I received two acceptance e-mails from those editors, but I received three rejection e-mails two weeks before that. Rejection has nothing to do with my ability to be a writer! A publisher may reject my work for 100 different reasons, 95 of which may have nothing to do with the quality of my writing. Sometimes it doesn’t fit their needs, they assigned most of their work to other contributors, or it doesn’t jive with their editorial vision for the publication. If I don’t believe in my ability or calling, no one else will either. Anyone who has been published was first rejected. It comes with the territory.

Submit, submit, Submit– I make a goal for each finished piece to send it out to at least five places I believe it would fit the best. if you only do one at a time, you are wasting precious time that could be spent elsewhere. The likelihood that the one publication you choose to submit it to will accept it is slim. There are hundreds of places that accept submissions. Eventually you’ll hit the right one.

Do you have a tip you can share with us? Please leave a comment and share with me your tips for publication. Happy writing!

My Own Worst Enemy

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In my last post, “The Art of Play”, I retold some of my adventures on our vacation at a water park. One of the reasons why I had so much fun there was because I had never played in a water park before. Hard to believe, but true.

The reason why I never played in a water park before was because I only learned to swim about two years ago. An embarrassing confession, but there you have it.

As a kid, I never liked the feeling of the water on my face or ears. I felt like I struggled to breathe when I put my face in the water, and that fear prevented me from enjoying the water and learning such an important skill. I always focused on what I couldn’t do (breathing) as opposed to focusing on what I could do (enjoying the water).

I became my own worst enemy. I allowed the enemy of fear to cripple me and prevent me from doing the things that caused me the most joy and happiness.

However, at the age of 31, I conquered my fear. I took a class at the local YMCA, sucked it up, and learned how to swim.

You know what I realized?

Swimming is fun, and so are water parks.

I especially enjoyed the water park not just  because it cooled me off on that hot day, or because I got to spend some quality time with my kids. I enjoyed it  because I wasn’t afraid anymore. I confidently entered that water park, when in previous years, I would have shunned it. When I conquered my fear,  I allowed myself  to participate in activities that cause me great joy.

It’s the same in writing. The fear of rejection prevents me from the experiencing the joy of publication. The only way I combat that is if I don’t take rejection personally, suck it up and submit my work.

What about you? Does your fear prevent you from experiencing things that cause you joy? Are you your own worst enemy when it comes to fear?

I used to be my own worst enemy.

Not anymore.