The Legacy of Anne Dutton

Anne Dutton lived from 1692-1765, a time when women were discouraged from being authors, something I find curious, as a female author. Amidst this tension, Anne wrote, “not for fame but for only the glory of God, and the good of souls.”[1] She published 50 plus books over her lifetime, all the while wrestling with whether it was biblical for a woman to be an author. She argued that since her books were intended for private reading of believers, she was not in violation 1 Timothy 2:12.[2]

Anne’s life and ministry are chronicled in chapter three of the book, 8 Women of Faith, by Michael A.G. Haykin. Her story is a warm hug from a kindred spirit because I know this struggle. I’ve wondered if I grappled alone or if other women in ministry, other authors, have wrestled with when and where to speak and when and where to remain quiet. I’ve spent much time these past few months studying the Word, praying, and examining my heart. What motivates me to write? Am I teachable when corrected? Do I truly desire to lift the name of Christ higher than the name on the cover of my books?

I’ve learned from Anne that speaking up might be necessary no matter how uncomfortable it may make me feel. She boldly critiqued theological positions of her day that threatened the integrity of the gospel. She corresponded with many leaders, gently challenging them while remaining respectful. Her final days on earth have been said to illustrate Ps 92:12-14 and Gal 5:22. Anne flourished like the palm tree, bringing forth fruit in her old age of seventy-four, exhibiting love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.[3]

O Lord, I pray it may it be said of me that when my days are done and all that remains is the legacy of my words that every written word and every spoken word has been for the glory and fame of Jesus Christ. May I be remembered for a teachable spirit, for speaking in gentleness, correcting in love, and always respectful of the authority placed over me. When I quiver on the precipice of eternity, may there still be much fruit, much evidence that anything good that came from my life was and is the work of the Spirit in me. 


[1] Michael A. G. Haykin, 8 Women of Faith, (Wheaton, Il: Crossway 2016), 58.

[2] Haykin, 8 Women, chapter 3.

[3] Haykin, 8 Women, 65.

Define Success for 2019

What does success in 2019 look like for you? I’ve been thinking about the word, and how I wouldn’t define it as an author.

  • Is it making the best-seller list?
  • Is it becoming an in-demand speaker?
  • Is it increasing the traffic on my website, the number of likes on my author page, or my amount of Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest followers?

Before I wrestled with this word, I would have defaulted to defining it in those measurable ways. But success as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ has to be more than popularity and numbers.

The better question to ask is how does God define success?

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Pastor Crawford Loritts referenced this verse in a conference session I was privileged to attend. He broke it into three applicable parts, which I have applied to my career to create a New Year’s Resolution of sorts.

I will consider 2019 successful if:

  1. God’s Word marks my writing ministry. My ministry is not a platform to share my words or ideas; it is first and foremost about sharing the truth of God. I cannot yank verses from their context to support my point of view. If I am going to quote Scripture, I better do the work of understanding the meaning of the passage, what it meant for the original audience, and how the cross of Jesus affects the application of it today. That involves work, but it is the work that matters.
  2. I know Truth. If I am going to share the Word of God, I must know it. To understand the Word, I must be in it. I must love it and live it faithfully. It is not enough to listen to gifted preachers exposit the Word, although that is a good thing. I must also learn to handle it responsibly and with integrity for myself.
  3. I obey the Word. It’s not enough to know the Word. Faith without works is dead. I must obey what I learn and put it into practice.

If I do these things, I am – by God’s definition – successful. The freeing reality of this definition is that my success does not hinge on an Amazon rank, bestseller list, or social media followers. I am to represent God and His Word accurately and let the sales fall where they may. I will seek the Lord and leave the path of my career to Him.

What does success look like for you in 2019?

For Writers: Post Publication

I am traditionally published. For some, that is the dream. It was my dream for a variety of reasons. I felt quite certain that I was not objective enough to know when my manuscript was ready, and I feared I might prematurely hit the indie-publish button. On some unspoken level, I also thought that if a publishing company picked me up, they would do all the post publishing heavy lifting to market my book.

Enter reality.

Both traditional publishers I work with are wonderful. They are personal, they work hard, and they answer every email every single time. But I’ve learned that I still have a significant amount of post publishing work to do to sell my books – just like an indie author. Unless you are a huge name with a huge publisher, this will likely be your experience as well.

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Small traditional publishers do not have the budget to launch your book with a huge splash, so authors must suit up and jump into the pool.

I’ve already launched two novels and one non-fiction book, and I am just starting to learn what it means to launch well. I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I thought that if I released the book to the public, then things would happen organically.

I am a huge believer in leaving my career in the hands of God and resisting the urge to go crazy on self-promotion. But I am also a huge believer in doing all things to the best of my ability and using my talents to glorify the Lord. It is not enough to simply write a message I believe the world needs to hear. I also need to let the world know where to find that message.

How does an author promote the message?

It took me a long time to learn that I am not promoting ME; I’m promoting the MESSAGE.

My next two novels release December 2018 (Mistletoe Melody) and February 2019 (Fatal Homecoming). They have detailed launch plans. I plan to launch them to the best of my ability and let the Lord do what He desires with my efforts.

You’ll notice if you stick around, that my blog posts during launch time will focus on the themes of those novels. I’ll host guest writers sharing about the prominent themes in those novels, and I will be a guest on various social media sites speaking about the themes of those books. It’s far easier to promote a theme or a message that I believe will bless others than it is to promote myself.

I’ve also found several helpful websites and podcasts, and I’m happy to share them with you.

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Misty Beller, The Ambitious Author – I’ve just found this blog, and it has already proven helpful! Traditional or Indie, her tips are great

Novel Marketing – This has been THE MOST HELPFUL podcast I’ve ever listened to regarding marketing books. Don’t have time to listen to podcasts, you say? Listen while you drive, run, walk, do the dishes, etc. Ditch the music and learn while you multi-task. I found the following two links on the Novel Marketing podcast.

Chris Fox Writers – If you sign up for his newsletter you will receive a copy of How to Write 5000 words an hour for FREE.

James Scott Bell Blog – I loved his teaching on how to write short stories and use them to market your novels. FYU: The short story I plan to GIVE AWAY this November to my newsletter subscribers is the result of this teaching.

Positive writer –  another place filled with tips for platform building when you have a $0 budget.

Let’s Share

What about you? What are your best resources? Let’s share them and help each other!

How to write an anniversary speech

My parents recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Not too many people hit that milestone anymore, and we wanted to acknowledge their perseverance and commitment to one another through the difficult and easy times of 50 years of marriage.

50 years

Together with my siblings, we hosted a party. My job was to welcome those in attendance and segue from the introduction to the vow renewal ceremony.

I struggled to come up with an appropriate way to kick-start the festivities. I wanted something personal that might strike a sentimental chord, perhaps cause those in attendance to smile or laugh, and yet still be meaningful to my parents.

I crafted this list of questions, then used my parents’ answers to write my welcome. Download your free copy the Anniversary printable

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I used their answers to write the tribute below. You can use it as a template to craft your own personal and heartfelt speech to honor your parents.

A long time ago Bev set sail across the ocean carrying a China doll and a panda bear. She left behind England, her round flower garden, and a bird aviary (this was before she was afraid of birds). She couldn’t even imagine what lay ahead.

About that same time, Dave was chasing freedom and catching grass stains in Highgate, Ontario. In the winter months, he scraped the ice from the inside of his bedroom window and then off the windshield of his rusty 1951 Ford pick-up truck.

The truck he loved drove him to the job he despised where Bev’s mother spotted him. Her mother said, “He seems like a decent guy.” Bev, now grown, agreed.

On their first date, Dave brought Bev to the movie theatre thankful that his job at Zellers had finally paid off. She was the one.

After months of laughing and kissing, learning to Polka and waltz, the lover of boiled eggs and soldiers (that’s toast cut into strips – not men) married the lover of ice cream and pie.

They established their home in a tiny upstairs apartment with only a bed and a $30 refrigerator that fell down the staircase. Bev cooked their dinner in an electric frying pan and heated a tin of vegetables over a candle. Life was good.

The babies soon came, bringing with them the years of Tupperware, paper bag lunches, bike rides, Star Trek reruns, big Sunday dinners, mashed potatoes, and words of wisdom:

“Your word is your bond,” Dad would say, along with, “Life isn’t fair.”

Mom would tell us, “Everyone must choose for themselves if they will serve Jesus.”

They built a home and a life together. They welcomed grandbabies and great grandbabies and made family memories fishing, baking, and being together.

We celebrate their 50 years of marriage this summer with joy, so thankful that mom got on that boat all those years ago and that Dad went to the job he despised – otherwise none of us would be here now.

 

Why I Write Christian Romance

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Christian Romance books do not involve sexual love. The romance is based on an emotional connection between the characters and growing respect. The story is told as an allegory of God’s love for His children.

In my novels, the plot moves the story forward—not shocking or steamy scenes. I take Ephesians 5:4 seriously, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”

God has placed each of us in the middle of a love story.

You are, right now, in a love story.

Some love stories are dramas. They’re full of heart-wrenching moments and climatic events. Some love stories are like a feel-good-girls-night-out, everything falls into place at the right moment and clicks. Some love stories are suspenseful; they have us biting our nails and wondering if good will ever prevail. And some of you are thinking – love story? – yeah right!

I don’t know your circumstances or life, but what I hope all my readers understand is that there is Someone who does. He is greater than any fictional prince, and He left his kingdom to pursue your heart. Not only is He pursuing you, but He is writing your story as a part of His story. He has promised that the stories of all His children end in victory for His glory.

Broken Love Stories

Our culture often depicts love in steamy images, as if love is solely based on sexual feelings. Our culture manipulates hearts and stirs up inappropriate passions. I believe this world needs clean, wholesome, and God-honouring stories. It needs authors bold enough to call cheap, broken, and worldly lust what it is—sin. It needs stories of purity, characters that honour God first, and illustrations of how true satisfaction comes from a right relationship with God not from a human relationship.

Ephesians 4:29 refers to speech, but it applies to authors as well, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Christian romance stories thrive within the boundaries God has created for love, and that gives hope to those who have only known broken love. Not hope in the right man, but hope in the Lord.

Happily Ever After

In this genre, you can count on your happy ending—and I like that. But more importantly than finding her one-true-love is my heroine’s growth in her walk with the Lord. More important than saving the day, winning the girl, and defeating the villain is my hero’s surrender to God.

So yes, I write romance. But the real story is exposing the lie my characters believe about themselves, the world, or God and proving that lie to be untrue. The real story is that God is the Hero, the pursuer of our hearts, and the lover of our souls.

The Rejected Princess – author Katie Clark

Today, author Katie Clark visits to give some writing advice and tell us about her new novel, The Rejected Princess. 

Katie: Writing—or writing well—usually takes time, just like growing a garden. As an early writer, I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I pounded out a complete novel in 30 days! I thought it was perfect, but a few honest critique partners quickly let me know that is wasn’t. Frustration set in and I just didn’t understand why my story wasn’t any good.

After three years of learning, rewriting, and learning some more, I finally realized my issue was editing. There had been no plot revisions, no cutting or adding, no polishing my sentences or rearranging scenes to make everything flow more smoothly. I had cut out the editing stage completely.

Okay, so how does all of this relate to growing a garden? Let me tell you!

One of the first things you do when planting a garden is taking a seed and putting it into the ground. You find the right spot, prepare the dirt, lovingly place your seed inside, then cover it with soil. Writing your first draft is like planting a seed. You pick the right setting, do a little pre-plotting to figure out what your story is about, then put words to paper.

Now, this is where I made my mistake. I felt that once the seed went into the ground, I was finished! But we all know putting a seed into the ground isn’t the end of growing a garden. There is watering, weeding, and pruning to be done. This is when the real work begins! In the writing world, we call it editing.

It took several manuscripts before I got into my editing groove, but now I’ve streamlined my process to a place of comfort. Editing is my favorite part—the part where I can prune my plants into masterpieces (ahem, masterpieces might be a stretch, but we’ll go with that)!

Drafting

I don’t edit as I draft, but I do often realize I’m on the wrong track with something, and so I make myself notes in the manuscript as I go.

Big Plot Problems

Once I’ve finished the entire draft, my next step is to go through these notes and make all the necessary changes. This might include plot holes I’ve noticed or places where I can tie certain subplots together. When this is complete, I read through the entire manuscript again to check for other big changes that need to be made, and I make them.

Pruning and Shaping

After I get the plot worked out, I do another complete read-through. This is usually the stage where I do a lot of pruning—cutting, shaping, and filling out. I check to make sure scenes or paragraphs are in the best possible order. Sometimes I realize that what makes sense to me won’t necessarily make sense to others, so I need to rearrange my descriptions and actions.

Voice

My last step is to read through the manuscript for voice. I want to make sure I’ve used the words my characters would use. In one manuscript, my main character was a baker. I went through the manuscript and changed a few expressions to reflect this. For instance, instead of saying Kayla was going to have a nervous breakdown, I wrote that Kayla was about to invade the baker’s chocolate. I love raking through my manuscript, looking for little changes like this that can bring the story to life!

Unlike a garden, unfortunately, there is no Miracle-Gro for your manuscript. Editing takes time and hard work, but in the end, you will have yummy fruits and veggies to share. And the best part? People will be glad you shared—unlike if you tried to saddle them with a first draft, because really, who wants to eat a seed?

 

DSC_8889KATIE CLARK started reading fantastical stories in grade school and her love for books never died. Today she reads in all genres; her only requirement is an awesome story! She writes inspirational romance for adults as well as young adult speculative fiction, including her YA supernatural novel, Shadowed Eden, and The Enslaved Series. You can connect with her at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

 

 

Katie’s Book: 

TheRejectedPrincess_ws12465_680When Princess Roanna Hamilton’s parents arrange a marriage with a prince of Dawson’s Edge—the mysterious and backward kingdom to the south—Roanna reluctantly agrees, accepting that peace must be put ahead of her lifelong relationship with Prince Benjamin of Lox.

But when Roanna is introduced to Dawson’s royal family, strange mind-bending anomalies are awakened within her, and she discovers the Dawsonian royal family holds secrets of their own.

Roanna becomes locked in a battle between kingdoms. Rebels wish to eliminate people who possess powerful anomalies. With threats growing daily, Roanna comes to realize the danger she is in—not to mention how her own family, and Benjamin’s, would react if her anomaly was revealed.

Tensions rise when Lox is attacked. If Roanna is to save herself and her future, she must stall her marriage and squelch the growing rebellion—all while discovering how deeply her power runs. But will Prince Benjamin and her family accept her when the truth of her heritage is finally revealed?

You can buy The Rejected Princess on Amazon

 

How a Writer Writes a Bio

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Every writer needs a short bio for introductions and a longer bio for that dreaded “about me” tab on the website. At the bottom of this post is a link that will help you create a personal and easy-to-read bio. I had LOADS of fun creating mine.

About Stacey

I am from the play-until-the-streetlights-turn-on and come-when-your-father-whistles generation. I’m a cool-off-in-the-sprinkler, drink-straight-from-the-hose, and fish-off-the-pier kind of girl. I’m loyal even when others are not.

I’ve wrestled with brothers, played Barbie with neighbors, and stayed up too late reading just one more chapter. I’m from BIG Sunday dinners, steaming hot tea, and Saturday morning coin-sized pancakes. I grew up with Tupperware, paper bag lunches, Yorkshire pudding, and mashed potatoes.

Lots of mashed potatoes.

My family is a finish-what-you-start, bargain shopping, home cooking, and respect-your-elders kind of family. I am one of four children framed in memories on a wall. I jumped off docks, endured eight-hour trips that took twelve, and sat in the middle bench seat of the family sedan.

I am a wait until you enter the house before driving away kind of mom. I boil the kettle in a crisis, and I know that a job worth doing is worth doing right.

I am a fixer of old things, painter of everything, cleansed and forgiven child of God. I believe that nothing matters more than the Lord Jesus Christ and who I believe He is.

Who are you?

Visit this link and use the template to write your own bio. Every writer needs an ‘about me’ page on their website. http://www.swva.net/fred1st/wif.htm

3 Fantastic Tools for Writers

UNLOCKING THE MYSTERIES OF PRODUCTIVITY. HOW ONE MAN MADE THE MOST OUT OF HIS 24 HOURS.-2

Writers need to do more than write to succeed. Today, writing involves maintaining an online presence which can include updating blog posts, websites, and social media accounts. The problem is that most writers want to write, not spend hours online marketing their work.

Good News

Fortunately, there are several available resources online that can aid the writer in crafting professional, quick, and EASY graphics and videos. Below are three of my go-to tools in my writing toolkit.

Three Must-haves for Marketing

Grammarly: Before you publish any graphic or video, you must ensure the grammar is correct. When I first tried Grammarly, I began with the free program. I was so impressed that I immediately downloaded it to my daughter’s computer for school use.

I upgraded to their paid services, and I LOVE it. Grammarly not only highlights my mistakes, but it also explains why the error is wrong. Like any program that checks for spelling and grammar, you are still required to engage your brain. Occasionally, like many other proof-reading programs, Grammarly has suggested an incorrect change. Visit: http://www.grammarly.com

Canva: I am relatively new to Canva, and I already love it. In fact, I made the graphic at the top of this page in less than five minutes. It offers several templates for marketing, social media, book, and magazine covers. Visit: http://www.canva.com

Lumen5: I’ve used Lumen5 to create a few videos, and I love how easy it is. After you create an account, you have the option to upload your own images or search their database for free photos and graphics. I used this blog post to create the short promotional video below. I copied and pasted the text, arranged the wording, uploaded images and/or chose images from Lumen5’s selection, and added music from their free options. DONE.

It doesn’t get much easier than this, which gives this writer more time to write.

Can a Writer Over Plan?

Writing coach Brian Henry once said that it takes three things to publish a book traditionally.

  1. A well-written manuscript.
  2. Perseverance.
  3. Dumb luck.

And you only need two out of three to succeed.

The only two items on that list that an author can control are numbers one and two. So how do you craft that stellar manuscript?

Many people look for the solution in worksheets, how-to books, and writers’ manuals. These are great things. I use many and have benefitted from the instruction of more experienced and successful authors. But, as I procrastinate starting my fourth novel, I can’t help but wonder if it is possible to over plan and if all those charts and worksheets can morph into a hindrance instead of help?

A Writer has Options

I am a firm believer in the fact that there is more than one way to write a book. There are probably as many ways to write a novel as there are writers, and the way that is right is the way that works for you.

I happen to blend a few methods, and I am a planner. The more books I write, the more detailed I plan. For me, plotting results in a cleaner first draft that requires fewer edits later.

But I had to question my motive when I downloaded a guide over 100 pages long on developing characters when I already had copious notes on said characters. It turns out that I had begun using charts and planning to avoid the hard work of writing that first draft.

You may think it gets easier with every published book, but for me, the reality is that the first draft is agony NO MATTER WHAT. It requires hours and hours of butt-in-chair writing that cannot be avoided by filling in the blanks on a chart.

NaNoWriMo

The right method to write is the method that works for you. But whatever you do, don’t use planning as a way to avoid writing. You eventually have to get the words on the page, and there is no better time than NaNoWriMo!

National Novel Writing Month begins November 1st. It might be the motivation you need to jump over the hurdle of planning and get that story on paper. Hop on over the website and check it out. If you sign up, let me know! Maybe we can cheer on one another.