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Reflecting & Redirecting

“Resolutions” are not a strong suit of mine. The longest one I’ve kept lasted two years and five days. The second longest was two weeks. So with that starling track record in mind, today I’m reflecting on 2012 to see which goals I need to redirect in 2013 concerning all things novel.

Last year I ventured out professionally for the first time: entering my novel in a contest, and a short story in another; attending a writing conference and pitching my manuscript to an agent; and making connections with other writers. All those experiences both inspired and challenged me to keep pursuing publication. If you’re working on a novel and you haven’t done any of these things yet, I encourage you to do so. The time and money are well worth the venture.

Yet laced throughout those moments of positives were months of struggle and doubt. Is fiction the right career path for me? Is this the avenue the Lord is calling me to serve Him? Are people really going to be interested in my work? Is this particular manuscript even worth the effort?

The last question has been one of the hardest to answer. After a number of ladies from my writers’ group read through the novel and gave their feedback, it became evident that were some areas that simply didn‘t work. And while I’ve torn the story apart and tried what seems to be a hundred different ideas, something still isn’t quite right. The story is good, but not yet worthy. So now what?

Instead of losing sleep over an issue that could take me another year to iron out, the manuscript is going in the proverbial ‘bottom drawer‘. A different manuscript, which I wrote during the summer when I was struggling and doubting, is now center stage. This new year is a time of redirecting, because as much as I love my characters and the heart of the story of the first manuscript, I’ll never grow if I keep working in circles.

Do you make resolutions and goals during the new year? What moves professionally are you wanting/planning to make in 2013?

God bless,
Melinda

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

The Stretch

Ever come across a situation so ideal that it was impossible to pass up? That’s what happened to me a few weeks ago when I randomly checked out Family Fiction Magazine’s website. They are holding a contest entitled Create Romance, and the list of prizes are pretty amazing. The grand prize winner gets a trip to a writer’s conference, among other things, and I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. So I took up the challenge and wrote a short-short romance story.

It was a stretch.

I haven’t written many stories with a thousand-word limit. Shoot, I haven’t written many romance stories. But what’s a writer worth if they don’t stretch out of their comfort zone and attempt something new? The product of this endeavor is titled “The Plan”, and it can be found here.

I’m really happy with the end result. If you’ve got some time, and you’re willing to stretch your reading to encompass Christian romance, click the link and vote for me. Public voting is open until October 1, 2012.

Hope you enjoy!

-Melinda

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Denver Part Two!

Sammy Tippit. Barbara Nicolosi. Dennis E. Hensley. Michelle Cox. McNair Wilson. Richard Lederer. Davis Bunn. Todd Starnes. Jerry Jenkins. Anne Graham Lotz.  

I was only familiar with two of those names before I left for the conference, and I’ll let you assume which two. :)  I had completed some introductory research for the others, but a thumbnail picture and a paragraph was the extent of any knowledge I could claim.  Four short days later, each person on that list managed to touch my life in a way I’m not sure I can articulate fully.  I’m going to give it a whirl, anyway.

Michelle Cox and Todd Starnes were the only two that I actually met, though I took Barbara Nicolosi’s class on Friday and Saturday morning.  But as each of them took their turns as a speaker, something in their stories and messages managed to wiggle deep into my brain and take root.  

They challenged my expectations of myself; to strive for stronger writing through more powerful storytelling.  

They opened up my heart further to the call to glorify the Lord through the written word.  

They sharpened my vision for that call and left me with the desire to follow this path as long as the Lord gives me strength.  They also reminded me of just how good our God and Savior really are.  

There’s another list of people that impacted me during my time in Denver. Ann. Melissa. Carol. Lyndie. Leah. Diane. Deborah. Natalie. Jayme. Julia. These, and others who aren’t listed, were the women I met whom I got to share the joy and trials of storytelling with.  Women who encouraged me not just by speaking in to my life, but sharing from their own lives.  Women I laughed and reflected with, and who reminded me that some of the coolest people on earth are writers.  The conversation with these women was worth the trip in itself.  To God I am thankful for their friendship.  

So in short, the trip to Denver was amazing.  I have definition to my calling, I have encouragement to keep pushing forward in my endeavors, and I have an amazing God that makes it all possible.  It is all for His glory, after all.

If you’re a writer like me, I want to encourage you to get hooked up with a critique/writing group, a writing mentor, and/or the Christian Writer’s Guild.  And whether your talent is in writing or something else, I urge you to seek God’s face for how you are to use that talent, and then to develop it accordingly.  If the Lord has placed it on your heart to serve him with a certain talent, do more than just use it: perfect it.  Don’t settle for good enough; go for excellent.  That may be one of the biggest lessons I learned this weekend, and I’m excited to try.

Any questions, comments, etc. about the weekend, or writing, or the really amazing people I got to hang around, feel free to send me an email.  Oh, did I mention that I pitched my novel to an agent and she said to send her an email when I was done with the project?  :)

God Bless,
Melinda

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Colorado Recap Part One

Tomorrow morning marks the one week since I left for Denver, CO, which is a weird statement to type since I was still there on Sunday. I had a great time, though, and in the next couple of blog posts I plan to share with you some specifics of my weekend, and what I took away from it. 

As we were preparing to descend on Thursday, I found out that the people I had been talking to on and off during the three hour trip were parents of a guy I’ve known for over two years.  That moment was my first clue that this trip was meant to be.

I settled into the Grand Hyatt by 9:30 that morning and then walked a block to the 16th Street Mall.  It is a closed street that has a wide variety of shops and restaurants, and you can get from one end to the other and everywhere in between by a free mall shuttle.  The day was almost warm and the sun bright, so I chose to walk.  A friend had told me I needed to find a bookstore called the Tattered Cover, and that was my sole mission for the morning. 

The Tattered Cover is in a building that is at least 80-years-old, and inside are towering, wooden bookshelves, plush green carpet, and a wide, grand staircase.  There was a cafe, a used book section, and a pretty sweet kids selection on top of their normal books. The refined woodsy feel makes me smile while remembering it. 

After I satisfied my curiosity, I opted for the free shuttle back up to the intersection I needed, then hung out in the hotel until my roommate showed up.  Her name is Ann and she is from Canada.  She is a very sweet woman that I really enjoyed getting to know. 

Registration was followed by an Orientation session, in which we were told to drink plenty of water because there was 50% less oxygen, that we needed to network, and that there were some forbidden words for the course of the conference: Romney, Gingrich, Paul, and Obama.   Michelle Cox and McNair Wilson led that session, and they were both a hoot. 

The official opening session was at 7:00p.m., and the keynote address that night was from none other than Anne Graham Lotz.  She was a very lovely woman who gave a very powerful message.  God left a mark inside of me, not because of whose daughter she is or because of how long she’s been sharing the Word of God, but because of the Truth she was speaking. I can’t even remember everything she said, but I know that God was starting to move me out of the funk I’ve been in lately.

Having been up since 3:00a.m. EST, I went straight to bed after the opening session.  God was wrestling with my heart over some issues throughout that day, and I’m not proud to say that I resisted Him more than once.  But His grace really is sufficient, and as the weekend unfolded, I realized that His time really is perfect.  But more on that later.  :)

- Melinda

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

When the Story Changes Your Mind

Everything was mapped out. From book one to book four, I knew which characters were going to live and which ones weren’t, I had the basic story plot of each book and the overall plot of the series down pat, and each couple that was going to emerge during the events of the story were cemented in my mind. Then today, like a shot in the dark, I realized that the intended hero of book three was all wrong for the intended heroine of the same story. Something had to change.

Truth is, I could have fought it. I am the author after all. My fingers control the pen/keyboard. My imagination is the one that stirred the plot up in the first place. I don’t have to change a thing if I don’t want to. But, when it comes right down to it, the change was needed.

So I ditched my intended male protag and started with a clean slate. I tried to fit some of my other male characters into the vacant spot, but that wasn’t happening either. I was left with no choice but to come up with a new character, which in turn threw the storyline/plot of book three into utter chaos. My story changed my mind, but failed to give me any input on the new direction it wanted to go!

I didn’t panic because I was at work and didn’t have time to panic. All I could do was keep working and keep pondering. It was a slow process, but by the end of my morning shift not only did I have a brand new character that is perfect for the role, but I had a much improved storyline/plot that is a much better fit for the overall series.

A good story has a voice all it’s own, and it will let you know loud and clear when a relationships/plot point/twist is going to work and when it’s not. Make sure to listen!

- Melinda

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Another Step

Somewhere in the madness that was my summer, I thought to myself, “Self, you must get published. What else are you going to do with your life? Nothing. Get published.”

Then God spoke Truth that has altered that perspective entirely. “It’s just a stepping stone. Every milestone in life is actually a stepping stone on your journey to Me.”

The urgency of being published faded. It was replaced by a much stronger vision; follow Him.

I’m not perfect at this, mind you. I shudder at the idea that one day I’ll look at someone and say, “I’ve pretty much got this whole thing figured out.” Unfortunately that thought has crossed my mind in the past, but God’s done some good clean-up work in the department. So I’ll only confess that I’m trying.

Now the thought is, “Must be faithful to Him and His call.” So I’m learning what I can and trying to grow as a writer. And I submitted the novel for consideration via the Operation First Novel contest over at the Christian Writers Guild.

Just another step.

-Melinda

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2011 in Writing

 

On Dreams

Writing has been a hobby I have long enjoyed. Since the 8th grade, to be somewhat exact. The desire to be a published author is one that hasn’t co-existed with my ‘hobby’ for quite that length of time. The start date of that dream, or start year for that matter, is a little more difficult to pin-point. Senior year of high school? After I stopped attending college half way through my sophomore year? I’m unsure, but the reality of that dream coming true in the not-so-distant future is cementing itself inside of me with each passing day. No, there is no agent or book deal yet, but as I grow the belief grows. And there is a very good reason for that. People.

There are not countless hordes of friends and family telling me that I’ll be a publishing phenomena, garnering so much praise and accolades that I’m sure to be independently wealthy and co-producer on at least three book-to-movie projects. No, the people I’m referring to are two handfuls of people who have, over the span of years, spoken into this dream and supported it with patient humility. People who do not jump up and down and get crazy with excitement when I share with them, but who smile and encourage me and tell me that they think good things are coming. Perhaps this reads like ordinary responses to a person who has a dream, but to me it is an indicator that these dreams are going more places than just a pipe.

I had an encounter with a stranger nearly three years ago that lead me to believe that my dream was not crazy or misplaced. That, in fact, it was something I needed to pursue. A year later another stranger, one who works for a rather well known publishing house, said some very simple words that, coupled with the situation, left me with the impression that God really was trying to tell me something. And even now, in the midst of rapid changes in the publication world and an interesting economy, that belief is only growing. People have helped to keep the ember of this dream not simply glowing, but burning steadily. The most important of them being the Author of all life. He, after all, is what each and every single one of dreams should powered by and centered on.

-Melinda

Melinda Michaels

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Posted by on January 31, 2011 in Writing

 
 
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