New directions

I've found things are now a little different. In the time I left and came back to this blogosphere, things changed and went into different directions. Maybe it's because the people I followed are in different stages of their lives now (as am I), maybe it's because we've finally learned that lurking on here only does so much before our writing is ultimately what suffers, maybe it's because I stayed away so long that no one cares that I am back again.

Regardless of the reasons, I too feel as though my blog needs to go in a different direction. The odd thing is, I almost want to take it back to where it once was. I had this fancy for writing about the every day, for sharing what made me laugh and made cry and made me cringe, and then one day I got in my head that writing for the reader and writing about writing and writing to be the writer out there showing their writing was more important than anything else.

I've come to the realization that I'm never going to be the writer who knows everyone or teaches people things they didn't already know. I do much better hiding and well, writing.

So back to the direction. It's one that is new and yet, is the same one of old. It's the way of sharing what's on my heart (without necessarily giving advice), it's the one that talks about whatever I'm dealing with because us readers and writers are just ordinary persons. It's the one that shares the love of words on the page, the one that eggs people on to read what I've fallen in love with, to explain to me when I don't understand the big deal about something, the one that brags about those I love.

The next few weeks are going to be different--I'm in the process of preparing for the release of Pity Isn't An Option. This won't be an annoying beginning to an even more annoying blog kick that throws PIAO in your face every other day, yet I will be talking about it, because I'm excited. I figure not many people come around these here parts any more anyway, so that shouldn't be a problem.

Enjoy the last few days of 2012. Embrace the ones you love, share in the beauty of memories that is those you have lost, jot down a few things that come to your mind simply to take note of them before this year is over and gone.

Have a wondrous ringing in of the new year, in the way you love to enjoy it. I'm off to research yet another something about self-publishing that I know nothing about, then probably brew some coffee and stay up way later than I should.

His peace to you always,


The gift of giving... in (awesome) recycled book form

December is upon us!  Giving gifts is by far more exciting than receiving them, in my book. I love seeing people's faces as they realize how much thought (or effort, or both) was put into making their gift!

I've been pinning things on Pinterest for a while now, and thought I'd share a few of my favorite cheap and simple, yet neat and crafty gift ideas for the special writers and/or readers in your life. Enjoy, and feel free to share any of your ideas in the comments!

1) Candle in a jar at I Love This... -- a jar covered with a beautiful page of beautiful words!

book page/mason jar candle holder

So simple and yet, so beautiful! You can go to a used book store and purchase a book for hardly anything at all, or keep your eyes peeled for book sales at your local library (sometimes they hold used book sales for fundraisers). Another idea, believe it or not, is They sell very inexpensive classics for under $2. Most people have at least one jar sitting around... and you can buy tealights at your local dollar store!

2) An envelope made of book pages at Vintage with Laces (could be turned into a sachet, decoration, a small gift bag, totally your choice).

sew an envelope from old book pages

Again, it's easy to find used, older books that would look perfectly vintage for this! A little sewing and any kind of beautiful stamp and you're done! (Or, if you prefer not to sew, you can always get two sided tape at your local 99 cent store and use it, instead!)

3) Book business card holder at Morning Creativity.

DIY Book Business Card Holder

This is totally good for both ladies and gents! I can see this on a desk, or at a coffee shop... it would be a neat conversation piece anywhere!

4) DIY makeup bag at Love, Design + Sunshine.

Make this cute make-up bag and how to print on canvas!

This. Is. Awesome. As soon as I saw it, I began to come up with ideas. You can make this for someone who loves to write (with writerly words or quotes from their own book/s); use quotes from a reader's favorite book/s; or, you could even do quotes from favorite movie/s. And if sewing isn't your thing, you can always look around and find a solid-colored, nice-textured plain makeup bag, and write on it!

5) Repurposed book spine bookmarks  at Green Paper:

Bookmarks Out of Old Book Spines

Aren't they awesome? And so easy to make! This is another one I think would work fine for guys or gals!

6) A heart shaped corner bookmark tutorial on youtube by

DIY: heart shaped corner bookmark


7) Rustic book for that special someone from

Rustic Book For Dad {Easy Crafts}

This could be made for anyone-- it could be a journal, you could notate everything you like about that special someone inside, copy down favorite quotes from books they love, and so on! It is definitely a gift that anyone would cherish. (Kids could even compile pictures drawn for that special someone, or write a book for a parent!)

8) Last (but definitely not least), I found a page on Renee's website (Rustic Crafts and Chic Decor) that is chalk-full of a compilation of awesome book craft ideas and where to find them. Here are a few...

So... do you see anything you'd like to give as a gift? How about something you're aching to make for yourself now?

Gifts don't have to cost a lot. As you can see, all of the above items were done with little money, and a lot of TLC. And that's what makes them so special! :)


Never interrupt me while I'm reading a book...

I saw this video a long time ago and forgot all about it until the song popped into my head the other day. Had to share with all my reader friends. So true! And look how simply saying "Don't you ever interrupt me while I'm reading a book" can make you look like a pop star!  :)

***Warning... this and other Julian Smith clips are hard not to watch over and over (I made this for YOU!) See video below:

Identifying with Characters: For the love of covers

Before we delve into this blog post any further, let's highlight the point of this post:

1) Identifying with characters as a reader


2) Placing yourself into that character's situation AS the character


3) The cover enabling either 1 or 2 to happen with the reader

4) Figuring out which cover readers like more, depending on 1 and 2

I'm going to be upfront about this--there will not be an answer at the end. I'm simply posting this because I'm curious: Do most readers prefer to get into the MC's head and know everything about them as a best friend? Or do they prefer to step into the character's shoes as the character themselves? And how much of a part do covers have to do with this?

Let's go over a couple of examples (some more overused as others--keep in mind we are not reviewing the books; I chose these examples based only on the covers):

Example #1 

Twilight (Twilight, #1)

This book series is insanely popular because the reader can very easily step into the MC's shoes. Bella does not say much about her appearance throughout the series, and in staying vague about it, the reader can share those experiences in a more personal way if they choose. Being as the series is romantical and angst-y and all, what better way to ensure that the readers feel Bella's feelings on a more personal level than to keep from sticking everyone with a specifically described MC on the cover (or in the books as well)?

Example #2

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Logline: Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

From a reader's point of view, I'd say it's not too hard to get into the MC's head and feel she could be you. It's also pretty easy to imagine you could be the girl from the cover view... the picture of the couple is small enough that you notice the word LOVE more than you see the MC. (So if the picture were a close-up, and a dark, straight-haired reader saw a blonde with long, curly hair, would that keep her from wanting to read it?)

Example #3

Stolen: A Letter to My Captor

Logline: It happened like this. I was stolen from an airport. Taken from everything I knew, everything I was used to. Taken to sand and heat, dirt and danger. And he expected me to love him.

This is my story.

A letter from nowhere.

In Stolen, the MC's thoughts take precedence over everything else. You have an idea how she looks, but it doesn't get too technical. Description and thought processes are what make everything in this book matter--therefore, feeling that you personally could be the one "stolen" makes the book (in my opinion). If a girl's face had been put on the cover, some readers wouldn't be able to identify with the situation as much.

Example #4

I Heart You, You Haunt Me

Logline: Girl Meets boy. Girl loses boy. Girl gets boy back... sort of.

You can see the guy holding the girl's hand... again, that hand on the left could be the reader's. If two faces were on the cover, the reader might be separated from the MC's emotional state a bit--they'd associate all the feelings with the face they saw, instead of how they would feel themselves in the same situation.

Example #5

Girl, Stolen

Logline: Please let me go, I won't tell.

Knowing the MC is blind and can't see anything as the events become more and more perilous is much more serious when you feel as though you've stepped into her shoes. You see what she sees (if you have read this, you'll know what I mean), vs. what could have been if an entire MC photo was on the cover and you simply read her thought process.

There are so many examples of full-on character covers, that I won't even bother trying to use my own example. Just go to this article called Uncovering YA Covers: How Dark Are They? (a post from back in 2010 regarding YA covers--it's actually a pretty interesting read) and you'll see how often a thin, (usually white) MC is wrapped around the book for all to see.

So, here's the question. In which books can you relate to the protagonist on a more personal level? I would guess the top five, not the hundreds shown in the examples on that blog post I shared. Here's my thinking on this: In seeing the person on the cover and knowing it is obviously not you, you feel distanced a bit.

Am I right? Does this even matter to people?

You tell me.

Would you, as a reader, prefer to get into the MC's head and know everything about them as a best friend would? 

Or would you prefer to step into the character's shoes as them? 

And how much of a part, if any, do covers have to do with this?

Writers and genre pigeonholes

Considering the fact that a few short days ago I'd stated we were going to go over dealing with being stuck in specific genres as writers, I was excited when a rather timely article appeared yesterday on Flavorwire titled, 10 Great Authors We Should All Stop Pigeonholing. In the article, Ms. Temple highlights ten authors whom most readers and writers alike are very familiar with (including Ray Bradberry, Jack London, and C.S. Lewis).  She points out that though we have labeled them in our minds and in the marketplace (some for many decades), all ten writers could have (and did/do) write/sell work in other genres.

I looked up the word "pigeonhole", just to see what kind of definition would come up. Oxford's online  dictionary actually uses a writer as one of its examples:


[with object]
  • 1assign to a particular category, typically an overly restrictive one:I was pigeonholed as a ‘youth writer’
  • 2put (a document) in a pigeonhole:he pigeonholed his charts and notes
  • put aside for future consideration:she pigeonholed her worry about him

Notice how the category is described? ...typically an overly restrictive one. I guess in a way, it's nice to know that this problem isn't new--writers have been dealing with the lack of categorical freedom for a long time. (Because in the long run--and the short run, too--it's all about the way to make the most profit. And not necessarily for the author.) That doesn't exactly make it any easier, however. Does it? I came across a few articles while going over this, and thought I'd share two.

First, quite a while back I watched a documentary on type-casting. The director featured famous actors--some who had been stuck in the same stereotypical role for a long time, and others who'd been able to step over that "pigeonhole labeling" category and move on to something different (and many times, even better). Now, I can't remember many of the actors anymore (it really has a been a while since I watched it), but I'll never forget this guy:
Stephen Tobolowsky Picture

(picture courtesy of Todd Wilson/ IMDB)

Recognize him? His name is Stephen Tobolowsky. More often than not, he's played quirky, awkward characters who never had a chance at much of a social life.

The documentary pointed out that though Mr. Tobolowsky was a great actor, he had definitely been type-cast, and that action wasn't an easy thing for him to reverse. Some of you may not know Mr. Tobolowsky's face, but he has a very distinct voice. And things have obviously changed over the past few years, because he is now the voice of the Discover Card's 5% cashback commercials. Doesn't sound awkward at all in those commercials to me! You go, Mr. Tobolowsky!

So see, no one is doomed to be type-cast forever! Same goes for writing. The problem is, we writers usually don't get to make that choice.

Back in September, author Dan Thompson posted a blog titled "Avoiding the Genre Trap"  on his blog, Making It Up As I Go. He specifically talks "the literary equivalent of type-casting". The part that really stood out to me is below:

One author described how his advances became something of a trap, because he felt he could no longer afford to branch out and try a different genre or experiment with some of his stranger ideas. While it might make a fabulous novel, even a commercially successful one, he knew he could never sell something that different on a proposal. So he stuck with what he knew, living from one advance to the next.
Most of all that, of course, is second or third hand information, but I confess that this is one of the things that pushed me towards self-publishing. I did not want to find myself in the position of writing a particular book simply because it was a lot like the last one. That’s hardly the only reason I went that way, but it did enter into my thinking.

This is exactly what so many authors are stuck with, worrying about, or trying to determine whether or not they want to push through on their own without the help of a traditional publisher. It's kind of the same problem I am having--PITY ISN'T AN OPTION is dystopian, technically, and yet agents have specifically told me that it is "not dystopian enough". Here's the deal, though. I do not want to make it any more dystopian. Therefore, we're at an impasse... because unless the entire storyline changes (taking away from the whole point of it in the first place), PITY has to stay like it is. (Am I holding anything against these agents for their comments? No. It's not their fault the market is labeled so black and white, nor is it their fault that I'm just another anonymous person out in the writerly world trying to get my book into people's hearts.)

So it looks as though more and more writers are going to go self-pub. To think that writing one way actually inhibits you to write another later on is strange. To think that writing what you love makes it difficult to share is just plain sad.

Funny how, even five years ago, this was more faux pas than it is now. Funny how, in a few short weeks, you can go from editing the last draft of your manuscript to publishing it on a website, and boom.... There it is for all to digitally purchase and read. Funny how agents and (famous) writers alike like to say, don't worry about a specific genre or if it's insanely marketable, "write what you love!" (There are articles all over the internet but one example is here.*)  Then, they immediately tell you "Hey, yeah... I can't market this."

Okay, so it's really not that funny.

Way back when, people thought self-publishing was a curse. Interesting how now, writers all over the world consider it a blessing. (As do readers lately, it seems). Things are a-changing, my friends.

Consider what agent Sara Megibow, from Nelson Literary Agency, tweeted yesterday: If publishing becomes more like music (possible) then there will be a few HUGELY commercially successful authors (both trad and self pub)...

See, now, I'm fine with that. I think *most* writers who are struggling to get their work under readers' noses would be fine with that, too! The whole point of getting through the drafts and the words and the love and the angst of writing isn't to stuff it under a box and walk away, it's to allow others the gift of seeing the end of your journey!

So, friends, what is your take on all this? Would you 

a) write FOR the market, and in doing so, label your work a specific genre in order to have a higher chance of getting it to go somewhere (and/or even completely revise your work to have more of a chance at traditional publishing), 

b) write for your HEART, and then after all is said and edited, go about trying to squeeze it into one genre


c) try to do a little bit of both?

And if the genre label/type-cast/pigeonhole wasn't working for you, would you rewrite it all, or lean toward self-publishing in order to keep your story true?

I would love to see your responses (along with examples of genres people have used/bent themselves that aren't particularly traditional) below!


*I am in no way dogging this agent or her response to the question or her opinion on the matter... just showing one quick example of advice offered all over the interwebs from the literary world. 

Catching up

It's been over a year since my last post. There's no way to get everyone caught up as to what's gone on since then without writing a book, so for now I think the best thing to do is simply state where I'm at, and move on.

1) Lovemuffin was healed, totally and completely, from Evans Syndrome and ITP--the last time he took any meds whatsoever was July of 2011.

2) This was not a medical healing, done by doctors. We went that route. He even had his spleen removed. It failed.

3) We began to lean on and claim the truths in the Word that Jesus had already taken Andy's disease on the cross. We received communion every day ("as often as you think of me...") and claimed that by our Savior's stripes, he was healed.

4) Lovemuffin has not been to the doctor since. The Lord has held his blood; and he has not had any symptoms. In fact, he's healthier now than he was the first 14 years that we were married. We rejoice daily in the love of our Heavenly Father--an unconditional love (thanks to Jesus' finished work on the cross) that is there for all who believe in Him to hold onto and soak up.

5) A lot of writerly things have happened in that amount of time.

6) And yet, when I say a lot has happened, I don't really have much to tell.

So, there you go. Caught up on over a year's worth of news in a matter of a few bullet points. As I said, the amount of time that has passed is too much to cover on a more in-depth level. And truly, that's not why I'm back. I'm back on here because I am finally at the point where I can blog again. (Not consistently, because, to be honest, that drains way too much away from other things that need to be done.)

As Lovemuffin was going through his things with health, I was accepting horrible accusations and thoughts regarding my writing skills. I had gotten so low that (and this something I've never told anyone) I thought I completely sucked. Some time before that, a writer friend of mine sent me a mug with some absolutely wonderful writerly words (quite inspirational--you know who you are, my friend!) and I could not even look at the thing. At all. I kept it hidden, in my closet, for a YEAR, so I wouldn't have to look at the lies of what I knew that I was not. Because I really had begun to believe that I was THAT terrible. I was done. I was ready to give up.

Lovemuffin's sickness was a blessing to our family. Through the entire process of him being healed and us being spiritually restored, I came to see that, even when you don't think the Lord is doing anything in your life, He is. Sometimes, you just aren't paying attention. There's a bigger story in that, and I intend on covering it soon. It has to do with life and writing and the way, so many times, they become intertwined.

For any of you who actually remember me (it has been quite a while since I last blogged), over the next few weeks I'm going to peruse posts and see how things have been going for you all. I can't wait to rejoice with those who've leapt over the previous part of your writing journey, and are now at the next step. And for those of you still clicking away, I totally get where you're at, as well. If I learned anything this whole time about writing, I learned that those who are here, helping everyone along the way with encouraging words, are also the ones who need it themselves. :)

My first post will probably be next week--but I thought I'd bring the subject up now, so everyone could think about their answer and/or share their own experiences. Regarding genres, sometimes the story put on your heart to share isn't a story that fits perfectly between the lines. Sometimes, it overlaps a few categories. And we all know how often our stories take on a mine of their own. So here's my question to think about:

When your MS/WIP isn't one specific genre, what do you do? (Say you need a specific label for queries, for instance.) Do you take the one more obvious, and not mention the other elements? OR do you combine two or three together, and own it when you're explaining the plot?

I can't wait to hear what others have done (or seen other authors do) -- make sure to also share when it has and hasn't worked for you!

Until then, keep on writing, my friends! Be blessed!