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Writing a Good Book Doesn’t Happen Overnight

One of the more daunting tasks in the writer’s life is revising a rough draft. It’s not that I don’t like revising–I actually enjoy it–but it’s a lot of work.

Anyway, I got to thinking about my very first manuscripts. I laugh now, but back then I honestly didn’t have a clue what revising meant. I thought my it meant you go in, make sure everything is spelled correctly and the commas are where they need to be. Done!

How wrong I was…

I didn’t know that what I’d written was the basic story pouring out of my head. It wasn’t fully formed. Dialogue took over. Introspection suffered. Scenes felt choppy. Key story elements arrived too soon or too late or not at all. The voice was there, but a book isn’t just voice.

Writing a good book doesn’t happen overnight.

It’s easy to assume talent is all you need. The problem with that kind of thinking is that it’s just as easy to assume you have NO talent when your first book gets rejected. Studying, writing book after book, revising over and over, getting rejected on your fifth, seventh, thirteenth book–that must mean you don’t have talent, right?

Wrong.

It takes time, practice, studying, analyzing, and revising to write a good book. Talent is developed by these habits. Just as elite pianists practice day after day, writers must too. Don’t assume talent is all you need.

I spent three and a half hours revising two chapters today. Yes, it’s a slow pace, but I don’t take shortcuts anymore. I want my books to be the best I can possibly make them. It’s okay to learn the hard way like I did. But to grow as a writer, you need to accept that writing is a process. When I accepted it, I felt so free. The weight of “talent” lifted, and I embraced myself as the writer I really was–raw, eager and ready.

What did you learn the hard way?

There’s still time to enter the Valentine’s Giveaway! Entry form is below!!

Valentine's Giveaway

 

Have a terrific weekend!!

The Love Behind Valentine’s Day: Guest Jessica Snell

The Love Behind Valentine’s Day: Guest Jessica Snell

The story behind Valentine’s Day, like many good old stories, is shrouded in the fogs of myth and legend. Some sources say that St. Valentine was a rogue priest who performed Christian marriage ceremonies for young soldiers and their sweethearts, breaking ancient Roman law. There are other hagiographies that say that he healed the blind and defied the emperor.

Even though there are many stories about Valentine (and even many stories about many different Valentines!), the oldest and most reliable account is clear about the important details: there once was a man named Valentine, and he loved the Lord Jesus, and he died for that love.

It’s a strange story to focus on in the midst of all the chocolates and roses and hearts that decorate our stores and our schools and our news sources during February.

Or is it?

At first glance, the sweet little crayon’d Valentines that my kids give me and the bloody story of the first Valentine feel like they don’t exist in the same world. The first belongs to my clean, easy, first-world life and the second to a life more primal, more real.

But the stories of our saints and martyrs aren’t disconnected from our day-to-day life.

The truth is that Valentine loved the same Lord Jesus that I do.

And the truth is that it is that great love, the Lord Jesus’ own love (because we only love him because he first loved us), that is behind all lesser loves – yes, even my love for my own children, for my own husband, and their love for me.

And so, when we look back through the mists of time at that first Valentine, the man who died for the Lord he loved, we shouldn’t dismiss the little, lovely trappings of his holiday, like declaring our love with cards and flowers and chocolates. Loving one another, after all, is what the Lord who Valentine served commanded us to do: Love one another. As I have loved you, so ought you to love one another.

Romantic love, in all its delight, is the good gift of God. So is the warmth of maternal love and so is the joy of true friendship. And love cannot keep quiet. It overflows in our actions and speeches and our smiles – and sometimes it also overflows in crayon-marked construction paper hearts made by seven-year-olds.

So the true story of St. Valentine doesn’t mean our paper hearts and pretty flowers are inappropriate. Instead, the story of St. Valentine can just remind us that those little signs of love have a far deeper source: in the love of God himself.

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Jessica Snell

Jessica Snell is the General Editor of Kalos Press and she blogs about books, faith, and family at Homemaking Through the Church Year.  She and her husband live in sunny Southern California with their four children.

Her book, “Let Us Keep the Feast: Living the Church Year at Home”, takes the reader through all the seasons of the Christian calendar, from Advent to Ordinary Time. Broken down into specific sections like History, Traditions, In the Kitchen, Ideas, and Resources, “Let Us Keep the Feast” is an easy, interesting read full of simple traditions and the rich meanings behind them.

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Thank you so much for being my guest today, Jessica! I tend to live in a clean, happy, hearts & paper world, so this was a good reminder of how much people sacrificed over the centuries for their faith. Thank you!

Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? What makes it meaningful for you?

You may have noticed I have a new blog home. Please take a minute to subscribe. You can enter your email in the form at the top of the sidebar or type jillkemerer.com in your preferred reader to never miss a post! Thank you!

 

Valentine's Giveaway

 

 

 

 

Have a fantastic day!

Start a Fire

Start A Fire

Guess what? A few friends and I are offering a Valentine’s giveaway! Just enter your email below for the entry options!

 

 

 

I’m blogging today at Thoughts On Plot about the song “Start a Fire” by Unspoken. If you’ve been on autopilot, discouraged or just plain tired, stop by! See yourself through God’s eyes!

Here’s the link: “Start a Fire: Music Monday.”

And here’s the video:

 

 

Have a wonderful day!!

Are You in a Time Management Rut?

Are You In A Time Management Rut?

Nothing throws me into a tizzy faster than a big project gone wrong. Who has time for that? No one!

Most of January was like that for me. A big project consumed all my time and frustrated me in the process. Then the project ended (it turned out terrific!), but the backlog of items on my to-do list overwhelmed me.

I was terribly embarrassed to realize I missed my scheduled day on the group blog I contribute to. And I’d dropped the ball on a few emails I’d promised. Enough was enough. I had to get my workday under control. I promptly ordered a time management book I’d seen reviewed in a magazine.

Work Simply by Carson Tate came into my life at just the right moment.

Every year brings different challenges. And, unfortunately, my old time management system wasn’t working for me.

I was in a time management rut.

I’ve only read half of Work Simply, but I’ve already incorporated several suggestions with good results.

1. Approach email in a new way.

I had a bad habit of reading an email and telling myself I’d take care of it later. This resulted in me not writing down important dates, forgetting to respond to two people, and leaving me in a constant state of feeling that I was missing something (which I was!).

New approach? Deal with email as I read it. Write down any important dates. If a response is necessary, respond promptly. Move important emails to a special folder for safe keeping. I also created folders for key emails to automatically be delivered to. This way I know if my editor, agent, or group blog administrator emailed me. No more wading through dozens of emails!

2. Identify themes in my daily tasks.

As soon as I read this concept, it grabbed me. The bulk of my day is always spent on a writing project, whether I’m plotting, writing, revising or whatever. But I also spend a lot of time on promotion via social media and administrative details like emails and planning. I also write short stories to submit to publications, but I struggle to find time to do this. I value keeping my creative-well filled, yet too many weeks go by without me taking much-needed restorative time.

So I brainstormed my typical week and saw that several themes stood out.

1. Books

2. Promo

3. Administrative

4. Other Writing

5. Family (chores, sports, errands, homework, etc…)

6. Creative Time

My schedule NEVER lacks 1, 2, 3, or 5! But 4 and 6 slip by all the time. I’m designating a few hours a week to them, and I’m writing them on my calendar!

3. Always make the commute to my office.

I’ve been doing this for months, but it’s worth repeating. If you work from home, find the place where you feel most professional and do your work there. My commute is up a flight of stairs. Not hard! But it makes all the difference in my attitude.

Now that I’ve made these adjustments, I’m back in control of my day. I’m still overwhelmed at times. I still have a to-do list way too long, but it no longer makes me nauseous. Important things aren’t slipping through the cracks anymore, and I’m spending my time where I should.

Have you ever been in a time management rut? Do you have any tips on how to make your work life smoother? I’d love to hear them!

I’ve switched blog homes and will no longer be posting on my Blogger site after March 1, 2015. Please take a moment to subscribe to this blog. You can either subscribe via email (form is near the top of the sidebar) or type my URL http://jillkemerer.com into your preferred reader such as Feedly. Thank you!!

Chatting with the Jills: Coffee Commercials

I’m SO excited to have Jill Lynn on the blog today! I met Jill at an ACFW conference two years ago. Someone referred to us as “the Jills,” and I loved it! Jill Lynn is hilarious, super cute, nice AND a fantastic writer. Her debut novel, Falling for Texas, is available now! It’s delightful! Jill is giving away a copy to one blessed reader, so be sure to enter the contest below!

Instead of a guest post or interview, Jill and I are imagining what it would be like if we were the stars in the International Coffee commercials from the eighties. If you haven’t had the pleasure of viewing these masterpieces, I’ve embedded a few below. You’re welcome!

Chatting with the Jills:

 

Jill K: Thanks for coming over and chatting with me today, Jill. Let’s go out to my jungle of a backyard. Go ahead and have a seat on my wicker loveseat. I just love these oversize shirts! My orange sweatshirt is approximately four sizes too large for me, but it still looks good. My husband said so.

Jill L: (Insert fake laughter) Oh, Jill, I do love the feel of wicker. They just don’t make a more comfortable seat, do they? And your orange sweatshirt is stunning, though I’m partial to my… (am I wearing a one piece outfit under this blue monstrosity? I think I am.) It doesn’t compare to my flowered full-body ensemble and blue tent sweater. I really prefer my clothing in one large piece so that it doesn’t complement my body whatsoever.

Jill K: Good tip! Whew, it’s muggy out here. Why am I wearing so many layers? *fanning myself* What does the coffee remind you of?

Jill L: Gas station cappuccino. You?

Jill K: Watered down instant coffee. Hey, scooch over! I always sit two inches away from my friends. Hope you don’t mind me leaning in and giggling. Do you ever wonder what Jean Luc is doing now?

Jill L: I don’t mind you leaning in and giggling! Let’s sit as close as possible! And as for Jean Luc… we still keep in touch. What? You don’t?

Jill K: *bites lower lip” No. He got mad when I called sixty-three times in one day. He didn’t need to threaten me with a restraining order. But I’m sure he’s over his tiff by now. Men! Hey, Jill, since we’re reminiscing and I’m having a midlife crisis, why don’t we go to your house and find your old prom dresses?

Jill L: *Squeal* Yes, let’s! Maybe we’ll get lucky and it will smell like it’s been stuffed in a trunk all of these years!

 

 

Jill K: Like my new wig? I Googled “Mrs. Garrett’s hairstyle on The Facts of Life.” She’s my style icon! Anyhow, I found your hot pink prom dress! Pour me a cup of that Suisse Mocha and try that bad boy on!

Jill L: I’m sorry my voice sounds so much like a man. Before I try to squeeze into that old dress, let’s consume some fake sugar together that our body has no idea how to process!

Jill K: Yes! Although the last time I drank fake sugar, let’s just say I was in the bathroom A LOT. Remember Steve? Didn’t he wear a white tuxedo with matching hot pink vest and tie? And the hair…how did he wear his hair?

Jill L: I think it was similar to mine. In fact, we might have the same haircut! Maybe I can get some pointers from him on handling these curls.

Jill K: Just spray a can of Aqua Net on it. It’s like glue. Look, your dress still fits! I’m calling Steve! I’m sure he still has that sky blue Chevette he picked you up in!

Jill L: Call him! I can’t right now because I’m too busy twirling in circles while you smile, laugh, and break into dance with me. Oops! Sorry about that invasion of your personal space! I’ve seriously got to learn to keep my distance from people!

Jill K: I love twirling and dancing and twirling…

***

Falling for Texas

Chatting with Jills

Buy Falling for Texas NOW!

 

Educating the Cowboy

Raising his orphaned teenage sister isn’t easy for Texas rancher Cash Maddox. The girl tests his parenting—and patience—at every turn! But when he asks new teacher Olivia Grayson for help with his sister’s grades and attitude, Cash realizes he’s facing the toughest trial of all. He made a promise that he wouldn’t date and get distracted from his mission of being a good father figure. Yet Olivia’s quick wit is drawing him unexpectedly closer to the caring beauty every day. Could it be time to make a new vow…one that’ll last a lifetime?

***

 About Jill ~

Jill Lynn

Jill Lynn lives near the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her husband and two children who make her laugh on a daily basis. She writes the kind of stories she likes to read—ones filled with humor, grace, and happily ever after. Jill does far more dancing in the kitchen with her family than she does cooking, and she has a thing for coffee, books, boots, and thrift stores. Connect with her at Jill-Lynn.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!

 ***

My Review ~ 5 Stars!!

Falling for Texas had me falling for Texas. Cash’s morals, work ethic and the dedication he shows to his sister had me swooning, and did I mention he’s a cowboy? And Olivia was so relatable. She truly cared about her students and friends, and I found her inner dilemma to be compelling. This is such a fun read, but it will have you reaching for the tissues too. A wonderful debut! I’m adding Jill Lynn to my must-read list!

**I received an advanced reader’s copy with no obligation to review it. All opinions are my own.**

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Enter to win a copy of Falling for Texas!

 

Click Here to Enter to Win!!

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Thank you so much, Jill, for being a great sport and for making me laugh until I cried!! And congratulations on your terrific debut!!

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What commercials make you groan or giggle?

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You may have noticed a new look to my blog. Yes, my blog moved! It’s now part of my brand new website. Please take a moment to subscribe (via email or in a reader such as Feedly.com: the sidebar has these options) so you  won’t miss a post! I’ll be cross-posting to this blog and my old blog all of February, but starting in March, my old blog will no longer be active. Thank you!!

Puppy Bowl!

Puppy Bowl!

It’s Sunday and snowing, and I’m really excited about watching the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet! I’ve been enjoying this delightful program for years. Seeing puppies romp around a tiny indoor room set up to look like a football stadium makes me smile.

I think my Sophie would make a good Puppy Bowl receiver, even though she’s way past the puppy years. Just look at that face!

 

Sophie, Things I Love

 

 

She spends a lot of time napping, too. 🙂

 

Sleepy Sophie

 

This year Animal Planet is featuring goat cheerleaders (how cute is that??) and Catty Purry for the halftime show. I’m melting!

I just love cats! We’re without a kitty while we have our dog, but someday I expect to have another feline furball. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy pictures of kittens. 😉

 

Kittens

 

 

Do you have any pets? Is there a pet you’ve always wanted to have?

Have a fun day and enjoy the Superbowl!

Welcome to My New Website and Blog

Welcome! My website and blog are in an in-between stage right now. I’ve moved platforms, and it takes a few days for everything to switch over.

When everything is in place, I’ll be redirecting my Blogger blog (http://jillkemerer.blogspot.com) to point here, so please subscribe to my new feed to receive future posts. If you scroll down the sidebar, you’ll see “Subscribe via Email.” Simply enter your email address and all my new posts will come directly to your mailbox.

If you prefer to read blogs in a reader, open your reader (I used Feedly) and follow their instructions for adding a feed. If the reader service requests an “RSS Feed,” simply scroll down my sidebar until you see “Subscribe via Feed,” click on the link marked “Posts” and copy/paste the URL into your reader. Many readers only need the actual blog’s URL now, and if that’s the case, all you have to do is copy the URL of this blog into their Add Content box. Easy!

Feel free to email me if you’re having any trouble subscribing to my site. My email address is jill(at)jillkemerer(dot)com.

Thank you very much for your patience, and I look forward to seeing you all here!

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