Writing Communities

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For a writer, deciding to belong to a community of other writers will be one of the best choices you make. Writers understand other writers and the struggles we all go through like no one else can. It’s similar, I suppose, to any group of people with like interests.

Cops can understand each other’s black humor and often use it as a healing method, when the rest of society might think they’re crazy and a sandwich short of a picnic.

Alcoholics draw strength and support from one another that they can’t get from anyone else, hence the huge success of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Christians find peace, joy, and acceptance from brothers and sisters in Christ among other Christians, as they come to know there is strength in numbers.

Victims of crime find comfort in the presence of those who have gone through a like experience. Other human beings who understand the pain, the shame, the healing, and the rising from the ashes.

And on and on. You get the picture.

Paulo Coelho

For writers, the benefits of belonging to a community are endless. There are groups on Goodreads for just about everything writers experience; there are online critique groups as well as in-person critique groups; there are local writers groups as well as online writers groups, some with local chapters; there’s the blogging community to connect with those who have similar interests as you or to broaden your knowledge base; and let’s not forget the magazine community (think Writer’s Digest, Poets and Writers, and The Writer.) And these are just a few of the groups out there.

It’s in these groups that you will get ideas on how to manuever through the publishing process, whether you’re aiming for traditional publishing or going the indie route; it’s in these groups that you will get ideas for and help with:

Marketing and Promotion – One of the most difficult aspect of being an author is how to market and promote your book after it’s published. It’s here an author learns that writing the piece was actually the easy part. But it doesn’t have to be as hard as we sometimes make it. Building from one another’s successes and learning from each other’s failures make the load a whole lot lighter to bear.

Formatting and Editing – For indie authors, formatting a manuscript for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or the old-fashioned paper format, can be a daunting task. Especially for those technologically challenged. Like yours truly. The knowledge from others in the group that are technologically savvy is priceless. And giving back in an area that is your strength is beyond satisfying.

Support and Encouragement – When a writer gets a bad review, isn’t selling any books, is having a serious case of self-doubt or writer’s block, who better to get support from than the very people who have gone through the same exact thing. Over. And over. And over.

Reviews and the Chance to Review – The truth of the matter is, as much as we would like them to, our books don’t sell themselves. Many readers depend on the sum of a book’s reviews to determine if they want to read it. Swapping reviews gives you a chance to get your book reviewed by someone who’s well-read and offers the chance to review another’s, which in turn only strengthens your own writing.

Critiques – What a better way to perfect your writing than by having other writer’s critique your work and having the opportunity to critique theirs. It’s a win-win.

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I have my blogging community where I share, learn, connect and make friends. I belong to local writer’s groups, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Northern Colorado Writers, where I learn by listening to other writers, taking classes and attending writer’s conferences. I’m a member of Sisters in Crime, of which we’re starting a local chapter, and Guppies, an online chapter of Sisters in Crime. I belong to several groups on Goodreads, and participate in NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo, both of which take writing communities to a whole new level. 🙂 It’s in these communities I find myself improving and growing as an author. And it’s in these places that takes the joy of writing and turns it into a thrilling adventure.

What groups/communities do you belong to? How has it benefitted your growth?

Happy Easter!

Easter

Happy Easter to all! I hope everyone has a most blessed day!

I sat on my deck for most of yesterday afternoon finishing the book Twenty Eight and a Half Wishes (which I would highly recommend as it’s a most entertaining read), but, therefore, got behind on my Camp NaNo word count. So after a prayer run this morning before going to church to thank My Father for the Risen Christ, dinner with family and a nice long walk until I can breathe again from eating too much 🙂 I’ll be working on my word count.

Enjoy your day whatever you plan to do! 🙂

Easter Lily

God Bless You and Yours.

The Rainbow After the Rain

This morning as I was doing my “prayer and meditation time,” finally feeling better after having a flu bug that knocked me down harder than I can ever remember, I thought about something my sweet grandma said I told her numerous times years ago.

“Grandma, I like getting tummy aches ’cause it feels so good when they go away.”

She said she thought it was so funny when I said that.

However, maybe I was on to something at that young age, with that sentiment that was difficult for grandma to understand.

It’s not by avoiding the difficulties that we get to see the joy, but by going through them. By embracing them even.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. (James 1:2)

Going through the pain of losing loved ones has led me to a greater appreciation for the people who are still in my life.

Going through the devastation of suicide with a boyfriend years ago and with my stepdaughter later has led me to an empathy for others experiencing that devastation, enabling me to shine a light so they, too, can get through that very black space of so many questions and so much guilt.

Going through the process of healing after being sexually assaulted by a stranger at the young age of 18, working my way through the fear and turmoil that followed me for years, the PTSD, has given me the aptitude to help other victims of crime along that dark, lonely path. The path that only a survivor can possibly understand and give hope to the still suffering that there is light at the end of that tunnel.

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At the risk of sounding cliché, it’s not until after the rain and the cracks of thunder, frightening bolts of lightning, that we can see the incredible rainbow that brings peace and awe.

While I wouldn’t count it joy while in the midst of those dark times, the fact that there was joy in my life afterward is nothing short of miraculous. Those trials have led me to a closer relationship with my God. My Savior–literally. Left to my own, I would not have survived, but He carried me through those troubling times. Like the footprints in the sand poem.

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I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

And today? I’m so thankful I’m feeling better and embrace this day with renewed energy and passion for health.

Peace, my friends. Have a beautiful day.

“A” is for…

Attitude in Adversity

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.   Galatians 5:22-23

When someone cuts me off in traffic I can allow a flash of anger to take root and explode into road rage or give the culprit the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe s/he didn’t see me, especially if I was in that darn blind spot.  Or maybe s/he had an emergency of some sort that it’s of utmost importance that s/he get there quickly.

When I smile at someone and they scowl in return, I can allow it to change my attitude and feel resentment or I can, again, give her/him the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe s/he was so burdened by something heavy that s/he didn’t notice the smile from a stranger.  Maybe her/his world doesn’t revolve around the smile from this woman.  Really? Someone’s world not revolving around me?  🙂 And how many times have I been in that situation where the roles were reversed.

When someone says something unflattering about me in the office, do I get spiteful and begin to form that nasty grudge, or do I brave to look inward. Were my behavior or words harsh and unloving? Did I act in an ungodly manner?  If yes, then I need to take responsibility for my poor judgment and make amends.  If not, then there’s nothing I can do except be sure and act in a loving, godly manner, lifting that person up in prayer.

Attitude in adversity, or when our back is against the wall, reveals our true character.  Impossible to shine in tarnished situations? No. Difficult? Yes! But with practice comes improvement.  Today, I will practice that my character reflect Christ’s light within me.

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Peace to you.

Weekend Quote

“It may take place in a foreign land or it may take place in your backyard, but I believe that we were each created to change the world for someone. To serve someone. To love someone the way Christ first loved us, to spread His light. This is the dream, and it is possible.”
― Katie J. Davis

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Two for the Price of One

Two quotes struck me as so profound today that I couldn’t choose between them…therefore, both follow:

Benjamin Franklin

“How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, His precepts!”
― Benjamin Franklin

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (mu...

 

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!  What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

―     Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

 

 

 

 

All is Grace.

Thankful Thursday – Freedom to Express my Faith

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My faith plays a significant role in my day-to-day thoughts and actions. It’s who I am. Having the freedom to outwardly express my faith, in essence being free to be me, is a freedom I cherish, allowing me to live by faith rather than fear.

I’m so thankful I am able to:

1.     Attend the church of my choice and that I don’t have to follow a religion that has been chosen for me, or follow a set of religious  guidelines set out for me. I can go where and when I choose, allowing me to worship my God rather than live in fear of persecution.

2.    Pray, whether sitting at my desk at work, riding in my car, on a park bench in a public park, or on public transportation .

3.    Wear jewelry as an outward sign of my faith, as well as a visible reminder to myself to whom I belong and serve.

Blue Crystal Cross Necklace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.    Write spiritual pieces, whether on this blog, or a faith-based work of fiction, which my work-in-progress is, The Inheritance. I’m in the final stages of editing and am looking forward to sharing it through publication.

5.    Speak of my faith to others without fear, state expressions of faith, and to observe Christian holidays that are important to my spiritual life. (ie: Christmas as Christ’s birth and Easter as the death and resurrection of Christ–the true foundation of my life.)

6.    Display actions that show my faith, whether it be kneeling in reverence to God and in prayer, making the sign of the cross, raising my hands in worship and folding my hands in prayer, or even a loving hug or touch.

I don’t make a practice of screaming my faith for the world to hear, but I am free to express it and live it quietly and gently. And that freedom is priceless.

All is Grace.

Forgiveness and Consequences

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forgiveness (Photo credit: cheerfulmonk)

When her child is hurting, why does a mom take it upon herself to want to strip away the pain, rescuing her child, his immediate happiness trumping an opportunity to pray he use that moment of adversity and trial to grow closer to God.

At least that’s what this mom tends to do.

When my child, even my adult child, chooses to live life separate and apart from his mom, breaking my heart wide open, exposing the rawness, the very nerve endings throbbing red with pain as when a hammer hits a thumb, why does it cause this mom to feel overwhelming guilt for something I may not have done? 

Or perhaps even worse, something I may have done very wrong.

Why must I reduce it to be the result of something I did or didn’t do, rather than a sign of his growing independence as he grows a family of his own? 

It was once told to me that the best gift we can give our children is to teach them how to live without us.  So why must I look at it as a weakness on my part rather than a strength?

Could it be the fact that I still hold myself guilty for something that happened long ago? And why is it so much easier to  grant others forgiveness and grace that we oftentimes cannot extend to ourselves?

Could it be one can’t actually forgive oneself, but only simply give it to God, to be rid of it once and for all? Could something I’ve been making so hard really be that simple? 

Christ has forgiven me for something that happened over a decade ago as many times as I have sought His forgiveness. And that has been a million times. Or so it seems.  

How many times must I ask His forgiveness before it becomes a lack of faith on my part? An unbelief that He forgave me the very first time I fell on my knees, tear-stained, heart broken, still breaking, asking Him to forgive my selfishness and waywardness.  

What if He’s teaching me lessons in forgiveness, trust and consequences?

What if He is teaching me that when my child does something that may cause me heart-wrenching, raw pain, such as turning a back, spouting hurtful words, that that is how my own behavior, as His child,  pains Him?

Asking For Forgiveness

Asking For Forgiveness (Photo credit: hang_in_there)

A pain that is wild beyond description or comprehension.What if He is teaching me the depth of His love and forgiveness? That just because there is forgiveness, does not mean there are no consequences.

Teaching me that even though He has truly forgiven me, unpleasant and painful results from sin long ago can still appear in my life. Like a volcano a decade old, the gray ashes still falling, spiraling down ever so faintly around shoulders who long ago caused the eruption. A reminder.

Teaching me that not only does forgiveness not mean there are no consequences, but that consequences may be part of the forgiveness? In order to teach me a lesson that will last, to prevent further pain. That the price we pay is something to consider a gift.

What if He is teaching me that because He has forgiven, I can rest in Him while I pay that price? That He is with me on the journey, rather than facing the bare, cold bones of that reality alone.

In my child’s worst moments, even my adult child, I would never withhold forgiveness from him, but extend even more love. More grace. More compassion. Walking with him, holding him every step of the way, no matter how rocky or how long the journey. 

What if He is teaching me the reality and depth of His love and forgiveness, knowing that what I am capable of feeling is only a fraction of His love for us. For my son.

That is something to be eternally grateful for. A lesson worth the pain to learn. To remember always.

That I can walk the road of my life,  rocky with debris from my choices and sinfulness, God’s outstretched hand helping me up each and every time I trip because I looked away from Him.  That He watches over my children, His children, better than this mom could ever imagine.

Consequences. Forgiveness. Intertwined to perfection.

Grace to You.