"Landing a book deal with a major publisher is every author's dream. . . For Deborah Vogts, that dream was fulfilled after years of knocking on publishers' doors . . ."
~ Topeka Capitol Journal
When I first began writing, I had an office in our kitchen, which consisted of a desktop computer with a shelf of trade books overhead. Now that I have a laptop, I moved my office to a corner of our bedroom, where I can shut out "life" when needed.
As you can see, I have lots of pictures--of my characters, where they live, their animals, etc. Besides the normal tools that every writer has, I surround myself with motivators such as candles, lotion, herbal tea, movie soundtracks, even a favorite chambray shirt I deem my official writing shirt. One Christmas my family gave me a Precious Moments figurine of a girl hiking up a hill. On the bottom it reads "A Journey of Hope." I thought it fitting for this writing journey I'm on and decided to add that to my setting.
Original Movie Soundtracks
I recently discovered the wonders of listening to music while I write. One Christmas I received a movie soundtrack of Dances with Wolves, one of my favorite movies. So, taking the advice of many fellow writers, I turned up the volumn to my CD player while I brainstormed ideas for my newest manuscript. I liked it so much, I decided to order two more original scores--Legends of the Fall, and The Horse Whisperer. Let me tell you, I am completely sold on this idea to help put you into your story. I simply pop the CD in and suddenly I'm transported to another time and place. I've since discovered the amazing ability of an MP3 player. Now I can listen to my music or writing workshops while I walk or drive in the car!
Top Ten Writing Books
If you're serious about writing, read as much as you can. Next, you need to write as much as you can, then push yourself and write even more. If you don't read, you'll never be a good judge of excellence, and you'll never know what you like. Write what you enjoy reading. Don't write what you think will sell--write what you love and what is on your heart. Here is my Top Ten list of writing books:
Stein on Writing, by Sol Stein
Plot and Structure, by James Scott Bell
Word Painting, by Rebecca McClanahan
Revision and Self-Editing, by James Scott Bell
Writing the Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by R. Brown and D. King
GMC - Goal, Motivation and Conflict, by Debra Dixon
Getting into Character, by Brandilyn Collins
The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
The Complete Guide to Writing and Selling the Christian Novel, by Penelope J. Stokes
Reading is so important if you want to aspire to be an author. Another key ingredient to the writer's world is to belong to a writer's group--either local or online. A writer leads a solitary life, and it helps to interact with other authors who understand your unique terminologies and who may share your problems, joys, or advice.
Another way to do this is to attend writer's conferences. These will usually occur on a weekend and may last from 2-7 days, depending on where you go. There are many to choose from, but here are a few that have been recommended to me:
- Colorado Christian Writers Conference in May,
- American Christian Fiction Writers Conference in September,
- Glorieta Christian Writers' Conference in October,
- and Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in March or April.
A good place to find writer's groups and conferences is in Sally Stuart's Christian Writers' Market Guide. At the back of the book, you'll find listings of writer's conferences, and regional groups as well as national organizations.
Ten Things I've Learned About Writing:
10 things I've learned since I began writing the Great American Novel, way back in high school:
- I've always heard to "write what you know," but I'll add to that, "write what is on your heart."
- Join writer's groups and critique groups to hone your knowledge of the craft.
- Networking with writers, agents, and editors is important. Plan to attend at least one conference a year.
- Not only do you need a good handle on basic grammar and style, but your ideas and plotlines must be fresh and interesting to break into today's market.
- Learning never stops--always study the craft. Read books and magazines, take an online writing course or one from a local college, and attend writer's workshops.
- You can't give up. The only writer who succeeds is the writer who doesn't give up.
- 90% of the battle is completing the book.
- Your work doesn't end once the book is written. Marketing is a huge word in today's publishing world.
- Not everyone needs an agent, but having one may help you get published.
- Let God be your guide. Request his help and guidance as you write, each and every day.
There is much to be said on the craft of writing, and the little bit I've offered is only a sprinkling. Here are a few links that might help you learn more:
"My heart is stirred by a noble theme as
I recite my verses for the king: my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer."