snow, email and my hiding extrovert

Here on the east coast we are preparing for snow. As long as we don’t get ice instead, we hope to have a weekend filled with lots of this:

snow

In random news, you can now subscribe to Chatting at the Sky through email, which means you will receive new posts in your inbox. Simply click subscribe at the top of the page and it will give you this screen:subscribe

For all this time, I’ve had that option turned off and didn’t realize it. Ooops. (Thanks, Dawn, for letting me know that!)

Speaking of BlissDom (weren’t we?), I’m going. As I’m busy not packing, I’m thinking about how I keep my clothes for 37 years and I still have shoes from college and I don’t know how to shop for the right stuff and I’m a terrible accesorizer. So I’m just gonna go with it. Sound good?

I look forward to helping lead two sessions, one on photography and one on writing –  my two favorite subjects. Mostly, I look forward to finally meeting some of my favorite writer girls. I’m going to try to make a concerted effort to lean to the left of my Meyers Briggs results and embody the part of me that is an extrovert. She doesn’t come out often, but she really is in there.

resources for writing a book proposal

Writing a book proposal is not for the faint of heart. Since I did this without an agent or insider knowledge as to what it’s all about, I felt a lot like this:

baby

I knew about writing, but trying to converge my passion into a document that would convice someone my idea was marketable? I was a baby. I knew nothing. At least not enough. I spent a lot of time reading, hoping I would know the difference between valuable information and junk. Here are some resources that were most helpful to me and will hopefully propel you from baby knowledge to at least pre-teen.

A First Time Author’s Perspective: Author, Jody Hedlund writes about her journey from loving the art of writing to receiving representation from an agent and signing a three book contract. Jody shares lots of interesting details about the publishing process from the perspective of a fiction writer.

A Writing Mentor and Veteran Author Perspective: Mary DeMuth is passionate about mentoring writers and regulary allows readers to pitch their ideas to her (or another member of her Writing Spa mentor team) on her blog, So You Wanna Be Published.

An Agent’s Perspective: Rachelle Gardner’s blog, Rants and Ramblings: On Life as a Literary Agent,  is packed full of information about the publishing process; from how to write a query letter to what agents and editors are looking for in an author. I spent lots of hours combing through her archives and checking out the recommended links in her sidebar. I also follow her on twitter @RachelleGardner.

A Publisher Prospective: Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, writes a fantastic blog filled with tons of useful information. I’m so vague. Just read him, if you don’t already. And follow him on twitter, too @MichaelHyatt.

An Editor’s Perspective: I was blessed to have the beautiful and gifted Bonita Lillie of Encouraging Words for Writers read my proposal before I pitched it. Bonita is also a writer and a teacher, so her experience, knowledge of the publishing world and appreciation of the writing craft offered vision and continuity to my work, ultimately inspiring enough courage in me to pitch with confidence.

books

If you’re planning to write a non-fiction book, buy Mary DeMuth’s ebook: Non-fiction Book Proposals that Grab an Editor or Agent by the Throat (in a good way!) I bought it for $10 last summer and it lifted the veil of mystery off the book proposal writing process for me. It was so helpful that when I met Mary at She Speaks, the first thing I told her was she needed to charge more for her ebook. Not saying she took my advice necessarily, but the cost is now $25 and worth. every. penny.

Michael Hyatt has also written two e-books entitled Writing a Winning Book Proposal, one for fiction and one for non-fiction. I haven’t read these, but almost every site I’ve been on recommends them.

I did read a few hold-in-your-hand books too, like Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird and How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen. I’m still slowly working through Anne Lamott, as her book is about the craft of writing and I like to breathe in those types slowly. But I read Michael Larsen’s book methodically, from start to finish. I didn’t do everything he suggested, but I really appreciated his practical voice.

Since I have no agent, I brought my book proposal to a writing conference (She Speaks) and met with a publisher rep there. A lot of publishers won’t take unsolicited manuscripts or proposals from authors without agents. You can, however, submit through websites like Writers Edge or Christian Manuscript Submissions.

Check out Sally Stuart’s book, Christian Writer’s Market Guide to learn everything you would ever need to know about the Christian market, from greeting cards to traditional publishing, including how they accept submissions.

I know any one of these resources will be helpful to any of you who may be thinking about writing a book but don’t know where to begin. Do you have any other favorite resources I haven’t mentioned here? Feel free to share in the comments.

with both hands on a tuesday

someday

How many todays will go by before we realize that ‘someday’ passed us by sometime last week? I long to know what it is to hold this day with both hands, to receive today’s bread rather than trying to live off stale crumbs from yesterday or the hope of a big meal tomorrow.

This day, the one I hold right now, the one with the feverish six year old girl, the floors that desperately need a vacuum, and the fridge that demands a trip to the grocery if I ever hope to have cream in my coffee; I want to hold this day with thankful, peace-filled hands. I am living my someday and I don’t want to miss it.

Are you embracing all this day has to offer? Tell us about it by linking up below to a post, a photo, either new or old. As always, use the permalink so your post will not be deleted and be sure to link back here. If you read in a reader, come on over and browse the links. My co-celebrators always have such beautiful things to say.

thoughts on writing a book proposal

Since so many of you asked about the nuts and bolts of the publishing process last week, I thought it would be worth a post or two. I am in no way any type of expert, which is why I can only offer a post or two. There is tons of fantastic information available about the publishing process from all kinds of professionals. Perhaps my newbie perspective will be somewhat of an encouragement to those of you who have a message in your heart but don’t know where to begin.

stories

Let me just tell you that I get it. I get that you have this message or a partial fuzzy dream of a message and the idea of taking that message and trying to make some sense of it by drawing lines around it with bullet points and paragraphs is terrifying. And thrilling. And everything in between.

Let me also tell you what a very wise friend told me when I considered hiding from my message.

It’s not going to go away. It will linger over you like a dark cloud, follow you everywhere you go, invade every peaceful moment of thought that you have, stalking your every move. Action cures fear. Get out of the boat and walk on the water to your very bright, very beautiful future in writing.

It doesn’t mean you have to write a book or anything like that. But if you know you have something to say but you aren’t saying it because you don’t have time or money or energy or whatever, I get it. Just know that it isn’t selfish to examine or explore that thing you’ve been thinking about for years. It is part of who you are, how you’re made, what you were made to do. To ignore that thing is to ignore a part of yourself. I know that sounds dramatic, but I still think it’s true.

After I finally decided to tackle this book proposal thing a year ago, it took me a few months to call it a book proposal even to my closest friends. I have a tendency to hunker down and hide out. In my mind, the more people who knew I was working on writing a book, the more people I would have to potentially tell if things didn’t work out.

It’s sort of a personal preference, I suppose; like waiting until the first trimester is over before you announce your pregnancy. If you are like me and tend to keep the big stuff to yourself, I would encourage you to at least have a few, core people who know you well to begin to pray for and with you. I can’t tell you the difference it makes.

It is worth mentioning that I am writing Christian non-fiction. So if you are writing a fiction book about monsters on Mars then perhaps none of my information will help you. I know nothing about writing a proposal for a fiction book. From what I hear, the proposal process for fiction is a little less intense. However, I’ve also heard that a lot of times fiction writers write the entire manuscript before they submit, whereas with non-fiction that isn’t always the case. I only had three chapters finished when I signed the contract for my non-fiction books.

Speaking of book, this post is beginning to look like one. I will post a few of my favorite resources on Wednesday after Tuesdays Unwrapped. For those of you thinking about attending She Speaks this year, I will be leading a session called From Blog to Book Deal: How I Got Published Without Being Famous, where I will share more about this crazy journey. Registration opens soon.

Are you on your own book-writing journey?

things to chat about

You have all made me cry in a good way this week. Thank you for your overwhelming support and enthusiasm about this book thing. I have indeed started to actually write and I am beginning to realize how much fun this is going to be! Many of you asked about the publishing process and I’m working on a post to tell you what I’ve learned. I am not an expert by any definition, but I can certainly direct you to those who are.

In brainless news, this girl here? Love her voice. You should give her a listen.

And just as fun but completely unrelated, my friend Amy has been doing a tour of her house on her blog and you simply have to go nose around over there. And? She and her husband basically did all the work themselves.  Here is the first post.

mosaic94d5e2cb2b66385fdf19049f18b38f590fa9c99b

image from Playing Sublimey

Finally, Amber wrote a lovely post that she calls a non-post (but we know better) on writing and such. She asks a question at the end and since I’m on a panel with her at BlissDom in a few weeks, I would love to hear what you have to say. I always love to hear what you have to say.

the book(s)

This post has been written nearly ten times now. I write, and then I delete. I write, and then I tear up. I write, and then I watch the second half of Bring It On on TBS.

And when it ends and comes on again, I watch the first half that I missed. And then I google “Bring It On” because I can’t remember what’s-her-name’s name who plays the captain. Then I write some more. Cry. Delete. Google.

Why this crazed, insecure, distracted grasping for words?

Because two weeks ago, I signed a contract to write two books for Baker Revell. Apparently there is nothing like a two-book deal to make me overwhelmingly unproductive.

revell

And now you know.

It isn’t a memoir, but I can’t write this book without telling my story. And maybe yours, too, if you’re willing to share it. The proposal I pitched was for a book for high school girls, as many of you already know. Turns out they wanted that one and they asked if I would be open to writing one for grown up girls as well. Both are about living life from a place of freedom and rest rather than from behind that worn-out paper face we have convinced ourselves is really us.

There’s more, of course, but for now, I just wanted to share the news with you. My first manuscript is due in August and the book will be released in the summer of 2011. The second book will come out in 2012. I’m really excited. And humbled. And terrified. It is also surprising to me how the elation I thought would come with a book deal has completely alluded me. Instead, I sit between signing a contract and a manuscript deadline with a shiny new set of fears and insecurities that I never knew would exist this side of the dotted line.

I hear vague Jesus-whispers in the background: Live the truth you say you believe. My girl heart freaks out and wants to hide. His voice is kind and inviting, and I consider it a great privilege that He loves me enough to let me be a part of what He is doing. Because it isn’t about a book or a deal or a publisher. It is about truth. In the midst of my fears that perhaps I’m not smart enough or poetic enough or brave enough to write non-fiction that matters, I know that He is present and active. And I know this isn’t about me.

It has felt like a long process, but in the world of book publishing it’s actually happened unusually fast. If you are interested in knowing more of the nuts and bolts of proposal writing or the publishing process, I would be happy to direct you to the resources that helped me so far. Thank you for being such an encouraging, safe group of people with whom I can share this journey.

a choice on a tuesday

butterfly

What if, just for one day, we decided to act from a place of settled acceptance? For one day, what if we dared not bring to mind the rejection of the past, the insecurity of our present, the anxiety over our future? I have been wondering lately what that day would look like; to live as if I were free and whole and satisfied. I think I would be able to hear more clearly, to love more fully, to give more abundantly, to laugh with a snort. I also think I would long for that day to roll into the next day. And the next. Today, I’m unwrapping the sweet gift of choice. Because I have a Redeemer, it is possible to have that day.

“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.” Galatians 5:1, The Message

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the writing chair

the writing seat

That black chair right there is where I write. It is my seat at our kitchen table. I have a built-in desk in our laundry room that I thought, when we moved into this house, would be where I would write. But I always end up here, at the kitchen table. It has gotten to the point now that my mind and body know what to do when they sit in that seat. I have trained myself to work in that chair.

Do you have a writing chair? Tell us. And then come back tomorrow and unwrap your Tuesday.

the magical world of Disney

the magic kingdom

We just got back from Disney World. I didn’t tell you how soon we were going because of all the robbers and arsonists out there who read my blog and may have targeted my house while we were gone. So thanks, faithful-reader-thief, for not stealing my laptop while my house was empty.

We had a great time with only two or three minor pull-out-my-hair moments. Ariel was just as fabulous as you all said she would be, with her tail and her rock and her long red hair. It took a day or so to get accustomed to feeling as though we had stepped into a parallel universe of happiness and cheer.

For me, there was always a vague sense that we were oblivious partakers in a sparkly dream-show orchestrated by an earily up-beat director who was watching our every move from the top of Cinderella’s castle saying “Here they come! Cue the Fairy Godmother!” And out she walks in front of us, greeting my kids with a sappy Hello, Princess! and welcoming outstretched arms. It was a little Truman Show-ish weird, not gonna lie. But seeing it through my kids eyes, it was pretty fantastic.