Jul 2, 2014

Phoenix Rattler Writing Contest

Does your story have bite?

Christian Writers of the West (the Phoenix chapter of ACFW that I belong to) is holding their annual Rattler writing contest.  It's open to all unpublished fiction writers or those who have not published in the last five years. 

Enter the FIRST FIFTEEN PAGES of your novel. (completed manuscript is not required for entry).  We have lined up 90 preliminary judges and the following final judges, so you will be getting some really good feedback on your writing.

ContemporaryMichelle GrawkowskiAgent, 3 Seas Literary Agency
Mystery/ThrillerElizabeth MazurEditor, Harlequin Love Inspired
Fantasy/SciFi/SpeculativeSteve LaubePresident, The Steve Laube Literary Agency & Editor, Enclave Publishing
Young AdultRachel KentAgent, Books & Such Literary Management
HistoricalSusan BrowerNatasha Kern Literary Agency

Contest is open for entries from
August 1, 2014 to August 29, 2014
(5:00pm Arizona Time)

For more information, pop over to the CWOW website @ http://www.christianwritersofthewest.com , where you can download Submission Guidelines, Contest Rules, Entry Forms and a Sample Score Sheet.

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May 7, 2014

Knee Deep in Dirty Laundry - Writing Prompt

My friend, Joy and I used to have fun speed writing from prompts, then sharing our stories with each other. We hadn't done that in a long time, so today, we picked a prompt from my book, Wake Up Your Muse - 1001 Story Starters for Fiction Writers (JUST .99 CENTS FOR THE KINDLE VERSION TODAY) and wrote for about 15 minutes.

The Prompt - "Knee deep in dirty laundry, she wondered why _______________."

Here's my story... (Joy's story follows mine.)
Dirty Laundry Mission Field

I was knee deep in dirty laundry, wondering why or when or how my  life had been reduced to sorting, washing, drying, ironing and putting away twenty loads of laundry a week.  This was not my dream life, but I’m sure I am Tide’s dream customer.

Once, so very long ago, I’d dreamed of being a missionary. Of going to far off lands to teach children about the love of Jesus. To tell them about the heroes of the Bible. To make a difference.

The ringing phone snapped me out of my daydreaming. I jumped over a pile of whites sorted on the floor, then hurdled a load of darks to reach the phone by the third ring so it wouldn’t go to voice mail.


“Oh, good. I caught you at home. This is Sue.”

“Hi Sue, I was just doing laundry. What’s up?”

“I was wondering if you can teach the 3rd grade Sunday School class for the next 4 weeks. Wanda is on vacation.”

I rolled my eyes.  Why would Sue call me? Doesn’t she realize I have 5 kids at home to take care of? “Sure, I’ll teach the class.”

We hung up and tears filled my eyes. I was tired, worn out. I dropped to my knees. “Lord, what happened to my life. You know the dreams I had to be a missionary. My life has turned out so much different than I’d imagined. I really thought that was your calling for me. Why would you call me and then not open the doors for me to be a missionary?

And then I heard that still small voice within me. “I did call you, I did open the door and you have been on the mission field since the birth of your first child. You’ve done such a good job, I’m expanding your mission field with a group of 3rd graders. Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

I went back to my laundry with renewed vigor…still knee deep in dirty clothes, but seeing it as a ministry, not a drudgery.

 And here's Joy's story...

She was knee deep in dirty laundry and she wondered “why” ….. Caroline looked around. It was grey outside, no sound of the birds singing. The dishes were piled high in BOTH sinks and there were dirty clothes strewn from the entryway to the bedroom. She was tired, just plain tired. Why … ? She wondered why?

Why had she thought that marriage consisted of a white knight carrying her off to his castle? Why had she imagined she would be the “Martha Stewart” of White Creek? Why was there more to do than there was day to do it in?

She sank onto the overstuffed sofa and dropped the bowl of leftover popcorn to the floor. Why … she mused as she settled back to a place of refuge, into her own thoughts. Why was she here? Why wasn’t she out with her girlfriends? Why not going shopping or out to lunch or over to Wonder Nails for a manicure well deserved? Why did her life seem so useless? Why did each dreary day dissolve into night and then repeat itself with utter abandon? Why … as she drifted off to sleep?

She must have been dreaming when the doorbell rang. She woke with a start to hear pounding on the front door. She jumped up and tried to “quick arrange” her disheveled hair and walked to the door with the best composure she could come up with. When she opened the door, the delivery driver had left, but on the front porch table she saw the biggest bouquet of roses she had ever seen in her life in a beautiful crystal vase.

She walked slowly over and plucked out the card. As she read it her eyes started to sparkle with thankful tears. The card read, “Sweet Caroline! I love you soooo……!!! Words can’t always convey what flowers can, so I hope these roses say to you what my heart knows to be true. I love you! I love the way you are so patient with me. I love the way you greet me with a smile every day when I come home from work. I love the way you take care of me, feeding me with delicious, healthy meals, washing my filthy work clothes, cleaning my dirty tub and making my life beautiful with your presence. I know it’s not always easy to love me, but I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate all you do in love, just like the Bible says to do “Do everything in love”. Thank you! Your soiled “Knight” Jeremy

Okay, then she started crying. Why had she lost sight of what she was there for? Why had the doubts and disappointments taken over her very life, dragging her down to the pits.

Up went her hands praising the Lord! Thank you Lord for dirty dishes. You provide so much for us! Thank you Lord for a husband who loves me and works hard to take such good care of us! Thank you Lord for loving me in the middle of the puddle of my self-pity. Thank you Lord for being God! Thank you Lord!!!

So, what do you think? What would you write from that prompt? Feel free to share your story or story idea in the comments.

If you like to write fiction, pick up a copy of my book - just .99 cents for the Kindle version TODAY!

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Feb 17, 2014

Jumping to Conclusions - Flash Fiction

A couple of my friends and I met at a local coffee shop today for a little writing. We picked a prompt from my book, Wake Up Your Muse and gave ourselves 15-20 minutes to come up with a story, inspired by the prompt. Here's what I came up with...

Jumping to Conclusions

Susan stared at the receipt in her hand. Blue Moon Motel  $57.50. Why would David have a receipt from a motel in his jacket pocket? It was dated last night. They’d gone to dinner last night to celebrate her birthday a day early. Shrimp. It had made her sick and David had taken her home early, tucked her in bed, then said he was going home to get a little work done.

He’d called this morning to check on her. He’d been so loving, seemed so concerned.

She wadded the receipt and threw it across the room. Sneaking into his apartment to clean it for him had sounded like a good idea this morning.  Her mind whirled, wondering what other clues she might find if she just poked around a bit.

She checked his other coat pockets. Nothing.  Rummaged through his desk, but found no incriminating evidence. A quick check of his dresser drawers was more productive, agonizingly so. The top 2 drawers were filled with women’s clothing!  She pulled open the closet door and found several dresses and other women’s garments.

Her mind was swirling! She felt like she’d just eaten a double portion of the shrimp that had made her so sick. David, trustworthy, honest-as-the-day-is-long, David.  Seeing someone else?  She didn’t want to believe it, but the slippers that peeked out from under his bed told a different story.

She heard a key turn in the door and turned to see a woman letting herself into the apartment. Well, not just any women – it was her mother.

They stood there, mouths agape staring at each other.

It took just a few minutes to sort things out. Mother had snuck into town to surprise Susan for her birthday. She’d called David to let him know she was staying at the Blue Moon Motel, but David being the sweetheart that he was had picked her up, paid for her night at the motel and insisted she stay at his apartment until her surprise party – which they had planned for tonight.

“Be sure to act surprised,” mother said.

“Don’t worry, Mom. I’m more surprised than you can possibly know.”

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Jan 15, 2014

CWOW Annual Writer's Workshop with C.S. Lakin

Have I told you about the great writer's group I belong to? It's Christian Writers of the West (CWOW), a local branch of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW)

In just one year, I've made some life-long friends and received tons of encouragement as a writer. I've been privileged to hear published authors share their experience and writing tips at our meetings.  I've  been inspired by the tenacity and generosity of this group and their commitment to use their writing talents for God.  If you're in the greater Phoenix area, like to write and are looking for a Christian writing group, I invite you to visit a CWOW meeting.

We have an upcoming event that would be the perfect time to check us out. We're holding our

Annual Writer's Workshop - an all day mini-conference with special speaker, author and editor, C.S. Lakin.

For detailed information on the workshop, you  can visit our website and/or blog at...


Hope to see you at the Workshop!

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Jan 6, 2014

2014 - The Year of Healthy Living

Okay, I've recovered from NaNoWriMo, enjoyed the Christmas holidays and hit into the New Year running. There's something about the beginning of a new year that gets me going. I love fresh starts and leaving the past behind.

Each year I spend the week between Christmas and New Years to spend extra time with the Lord, reviewing the previous year and seeking Him for direction for the New Year. This year, I didn't have to spend as much time discerning what He wanted me to focus on for 2014. That's because He started speaking to my heart back in mid-November about my health. I'm a diabetic and have a few other healthy issues that could be managed (or obliterated entirely) by eating right, exercising and getting adequate rest.

I started watching documentaries like...

Hungry For Change
Forks Over Knives
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
Food Matters

...on Netflix. The result was losing weight during the holidays instead gaining, and better still, my sugar levels dropped by 60-70 points!  It's amazing embarrassing how many times I prayed for God to help me with my weight and sugar levels, when all the time, He was waiting for me to cooperate with Him in making that happen.  Once I began to educate myself and apply what I was learning, God made it easy for me to make wise choices with my health.

So, for me, 2014 is The Year of Healthy Living - not just physically, but spiritually, emotionally, mentally, financially and relationally. My goal is to add things to my life that will make me healthy in all these areas and eliminate anything that hinders healthy living.

As for writing, I'm getting back to the joy of writing. I've been so focused on writing for publication that I've lost the pleasure that comes with weaving a story, writing a devotional or poem.  So in the coming year, I'll be posting more fun writing, both here on She Fancied Herself a Writer and on my blogs...

2014 is going to be fun!

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Nov 26, 2013

NaNoWriMo No Mo

I first heard of NaNoWriMo way back in 2009. My daughter, Carol and I had been writing together via Skype and she encouraged me to give it a try. Up until then I had written mostly non-fiction, but we had been writing 5 minute flash fiction from writing prompts and it was fun, so I thought, why not give it a try.

I had no plot going into NaNo, but wrote furiously. Throwing my characters into one situation after another, loving the twists and turns that the story was taking. I squeaked across the finish line on November 30th with just a little over 50,000 words. I had done it! I'd written a rough draft of my first novel. I was a novelist!

I let it sit for about a month and then went back to start revisions. I started reading through the manuscript and cringed about every five minutes. The writing was bad...really bad. The characters were fun, but acted inconsistently. The plot...what there was of it...was badly in need of a plot doctor.

In short, I was so overwhelmed by what it would take to fix the novel, that I put it back in a drawer and gave up.  Then I started reading book after book about writing fiction. By the next time NaNo rolled around I thought I was ready to write a real novel.

In 2010, I got to about the 10,000 word mark and fizzled out. Same with 2011 and 2012. This year thought I was ready. 2013 would be the year that I finished a NaNoWriMo novel. It didn't happen.  This year I got to 11,587 words and fizzled. I didn't know where to go next with my story. I got uptight. I liked the story so far, but I didn't want to just push through for the sake of a winning word count only to have to go back and fix the whole thing. I gave up. Not on the book, but on NaNoWriMo.

I was feeling like an utter failure until I read a post on Chip MacGregor's blog by Amanda Luedeke titled "Why I Hate NaNoWriMo" and suddenly a huge weight was lifted from my writerly shoulders.

excerpt from Amanda's post...

This is why I hate NaNoWriMo. It sets writers up to fail.
As if writers need yet another reason to question their craft. To doubt whether they’re cut out for this author gig. As if they need another reminder that they can’t do it. They’re failures. They should quit while they’re ahead.
NaNo does this to tens of thousands if not HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of writers each and every year. There are over 300,000 signed up for the program this year. Let’s say a two-thirds achieve the 50k in one month goal. That’s 100,000 WRITERS WHO HAVE FAILED.
I hate this. I hate this, I hate this, I hate this.
(read the entire article HERE)

Thank you, Amanda, for setting helping me see that failure to finish NaNoWriMo is not failure as a writer!

I'll finish my book, but I'll take my time and do it at a pace that won't make me crazy. I'll spend more time on character development and plotting and when I'm finished, I'll have a revisable book, not a heap of hopelessly confused words.

How about you? Did you start NaNoWriMo, but not finish? Did it make you feel like a failure? Are you going to finish your novel or did you give up? 

PS - for those of you who did NaNo and will finish - CONGRATULATIONS! I know it works for so many people and I'm glad. I'm just not one of them and that's OK.

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Nov 12, 2013

Book Review - A Marriage in Middlebury by Anita Higman

 Just finished reading Anita Higman's newest release, A Marriage in Middlebury.

Imagine being deeply in love yet having to refuse the proposal of the man you love because accepting would mean shame and embarrassment for both of your families. To make matters worse, you can't tell him why you can't marry him.

Ten years later, that man walks back into your life with a fiancee in tow. Your feelings haven't changed, and from the look in his eyes, he's still carrying a torch of his own.

Author, Anita Higman
I thoroughly enjoyed this story about Sam & Charlotte's second chance at love. Were it not for Sam's conniving father's unimaginable cruelty, this couple would have been married years ago. On the other hand, were it not for a slightly quirky, well-meaning friend, who took matters into her own hands, Sam & Charlotte may have missed their second chance at love.

Aside from a good story, I fell in love with the little town of Middlebury. I'd love to visit Charlotte's garden behind the Tea House. Would also love to tour the Wilder home and grounds. The author brought the setting to life, drawing me right into the story.  Hoping there are Middlebury stories to come.

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