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Increasing Productivity

Increasing Productivity

by Mindy Obenhaus

Lately I’ve been working on increasing my productivity as a writer. I’d come to a crossroads in my writing that called for a change. What I’ve been doing, the pace at which I’d been working just wasn’t sufficient anymore. So I was faced with a dilemma. Settle for the status quo or strive for something more?

I wanted more.

The big question, though, was “How?” I mean, I was already at my computer for hours each day. Granted, a good bit of that might have been spent staring at the ceiling as I struggled to write an entire scene each day. At least, a scene a day was the goal, though I rarely achieved it. Inevitably, I’d get bogged down in details. Setting, what is she wearing—

Of course, that led to an internet search and down a big old rabbit hole. And by the end of many a day, I hadn’t made much progress at all. At least, until it got down to crunch time. As that deadline approached, I buckled down and sailed through those scenes. I began to wonder why I wasn’t that disciplined all the time.

Obviously, it was time to change my approach to writing. It was right around that time Mary Connealy shared that she wrote a thousand words a day. Period. And if you’re familiar with Mary’s books, then you know just how quickly those thousand words can add up.

Hmph. “A thousand words a day,” I thought. That’s doable. So you know what I did? I tucked that little nugget into my memory and continued along the path I was on. Until I came to the afore mentioned crossroads. I did a little math. If I did a thousand words only five days a week that would be five thousand words a week. Twenty thousand words in a month.

So, I decided to make the change. I committed to those thousand words a day, five days a week. There were a couple of days I fell short, but I made them up the next day. And you know what? It worked. By the end of the month I’d written almost 24,000 words. Not only that, I found I was much more disciplined. I felt less pressure, too.

So if you’re looking to increase your productivity—

Set an achievable goal – Something that will work with your schedule. For me, a thousand words a day is maybe two-thirds to half a scene. Yet I often found that once I got going, I was more eager to finish it.

It doesn’t have to be perfect – The goal was to simply get the story out of my head. Part of my problem before, why I’d labor over each scene, was that I wanted it to be perfect. By giving myself the freedom to simply get the bones of the scene down, along with a good chunk of dialog, I was able to move on instead of getting bogged down in the details. Though often times, they still made it in there. Particularly if I had a good visual in my head.

Stick with it – This was not difficult once I saw how much progress I was making. It felt good to see that word count climb. Honestly, I’ve never really tracked my daily word count before, so that might have played a role. I’m goal oriented, so knowing I was aiming for a specific number was good for me. It was a more tangible goal than simply saying I wanted to write a scene.

Now, I’m sure many of you may be looking at this and thinking this is no big deal, that it’s what you do this all the time. In which case, I applaud you. But April 2022 was a pivotal month for this writer. And to think, I owe it all to Mary Connealy. Go figure.

Mary, I owe you a dinner. For the rest of you, give me your thoughts. Have you ever made one small change in your life that suddenly made a world of difference?

Oh, and before I go, I’ve got a brand-new cover to share with you. The Cowgirl’s Redemption is the first book in my new Hope Crossing series and releases on August 23rd. Here’s a bit about the story.

Increasing Productivity

She came home to make things right. Will she be given a second chance?

Gloriana Prescott has returned to her Texas hometown to make amends—even if the townsfolk she left behind aren’t ready to forgive. But when her mother’s ranch manager, Justin Broussard, is tasked with saving the struggling rodeo so his teen daughter can compete, Gloriana sees a chance to prove she’s really changed. But can she prove to Justin, and the town, that she’s trustworthy? 


Increasing Productivity

Award-winning author Mindy Obenhaus is passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, two sassy pups, countless cattle, deer and the occasional coyote, mountain lion or snake. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, cooking and watching copious amounts of the Hallmark Channel. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com

Growing Pains

 

Growing Pains

by Mindy Obenhaus

Did you ever get growing pains when you were a child? My youngest son sure did. He’d have a hard time getting to sleep because his legs always hurt. He’s now 6’2”, so that could explain things.

What about spiritual growing pains? You know, when God decides He wants to grow us.

That’s where I find myself right now.

While I’m walking the path, I believe, God has set before me, He’s recently suggested a slight deviation from the course I had planned. Not verbally, mind you, but through a series of events. This amended route I feel He’s pointing me to is going to be more challenging than what I’m used to. It’s going to require some adjustments in the routine I’ve grown comfortable with. I’m going to have to work at it.

Kind of like weight training. I enjoy weight training. But when I become accustomed to a certain weight and start thinking it’s easy, that’s when it’s time for me step things up a notch. Which means increasing the amount of weight I’m lifting. And it’s not easy. Matter of fact, it’s downright hard. For a while. Then, as I build more muscle, it gets easier.

And so it is with our spiritual life. God doesn’t want us to be comfortable. On the contrary, He wants to push us out of our comfort zones.

How we respond is up to us.

We can…

Fight it – Been there, done that. When I was writing my fourth book, there was something God wanted in that story, but I knew it was going to be very emotional to write. So I ignored it. Bottom line, I had to rewrite that book three times. The third time, I did what God had been telling me to do all along. Not only did my editor love it, I had no revisions. If I would have listened and done it God’s way the first time, I could’ve saved myself a whole lot of time and stress.

Carefully consider – This is my modus operandi. I want to be certain that what I’m sensing truly is from God and not my own foolish desires. And having an honest discussion with Him is the only way I’m going to know. Expressing my concerns and fears. He already knows them anyway. Then I have to be willing to listen and remain watchful for those little signposts He puts in my path, pointing me in the way I should go.

Jump right in – I rarely do this unless I know beyond a shadow of a doubt. Which, most often, doesn’t come until I’ve carefully considered. But occasionally, I just know God is saying, “Go!.”  For some with more faith, though, this may be right where they start. They’re so in tune with God, they don’t even stop to think about self, they just do. I don’t know about you, but that’s what I aspire to.

After nearly colliding with more than one signpost, I know where God is leading me. And while I know it’s not going to be easy, He’s already confirming my decision. Letting me know that He’s got me right where He wants me. And that’s always a good place to be.

 How do you approach things when you feel as though God is trying to stretch you? 


Growing Pains

Award-winning author Mindy Obenhaus is passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, two sassy pups, countless cattle, deer and the occasional coyote, mountain lion or snake. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, cooking and watching copious amounts of the Hallmark Channel. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com

Revisiting Conflict

Revisiting Conflict 
by Mindy Obenhaus

Once again, as I contemplate what to post, I'm asking myself where I'm at in my writing right now. What am I struggling with? Well, as I close in on the end of my WIP I'm wondering if I have enough conflict. Then I recalled a post I'd done on conflict a couple of years ago. So rather than retelling, I thought I'd simply share that post again. So here we go.

Conflict. The word alone is enough to make us squirm. Most of us avoid conflict at all costs. Then you become a writer and they say you must have conflict.

Noooo…

The reality is that a story without conflict is, well, boring. If Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters had helped her with her chores so she could get ready for the ball, we would’ve had no reason to cheer Cinderella on to victory. If the yellow-brick road hadn’t been plagued with flying monkeys and the wizard hadn’t told Dorothy to bring him the broom of the wicked witch, Dorothy would have kept moping, never realizing that home was a pretty special place after all.

Of course, conflict doesn’t always come in the form of a villain. Conflict is anything that stands in the way of a character achieving their goal. Have you ever been late for an appointment because you were stuck in traffic? And how many horrible scenarios ran through your head before you got to said appointment? Only to find out that the person you were meeting with was stuck in the same traffic.
Revisiting Conflict
Conflict is a part of growth. It teaches us to leave extra early for those important appointments. It forces one to look within themself to realize that maybe they can love again. And conflict encourages us to turn to God and allow Him to give us the strength we need to overcome something we think is impossible. Such as adding conflict.

So how do we how do we create conflict?

Since we're still warming up to conflict, let's keep things simple.
  • Know your character’s goal – While characters have an overarching goal in a story, each and every scene also needs a goal, motivation and conflict. Start by asking yourself what the character’s goal is in any given scene.
  • Keep them from reaching that goal – Say their goal is to make it to the bank before it closes. What will happen if they don’t? Will a check bounce? Will their house be foreclosed on? And what if there’s a traffic accident along the way that prevents them from getting there? See how those small things can all work together to create conflict for your character?
    Revisiting Conflict
  • Take things from bad to worse – In his book Writing the Breakout Novel, Donald Maass says to ask yourself, "What is the worst thing that can happen to your character at that moment?" Then he says to find a way to make it happen. I’ll admit, I kind of blew that one off for a while. But then I tried it and not only did it work, it's now my go-to weapon for adding conflict. Here's an example from the story I'm currently working on. When the heroine deserts the hero, leaving him to tackle a two-person job by himself, he jumps in her stuff, accusing her of taking advantage of him. Naturally, she's indignant. He didn't even give her chance to explain. Yet as she's stewing about his behavior, she finds herself acknowledging that even though she thought they were finished, she really just wanted to get away from him because she's attracted to him and doesn't want to be. So, what's the worst thing that can happen? She realizes she was in the wrong and that she needs to apologize. Yet just when she's about to do just that, her parents arrive, trying to talk her into selling the Christmas tree farm she's inherited. But she loves the place and wants to convince her parents she's doing the right thing. But while she's showing them the farm, hoping to overcome their objections and impress them with her extensive plans, the hero comes back. Is he still angry? Will he make her look bad in front of her parents, confirming their opinion that she's being foolish? Okay, that was a very rough scenario, but I hope you were able to see how each of those little things--realizing she was the one in the wrong, her folks arriving, preventing her from apologizing, and then the hero coming back before she's had a chance to apologize--only add to the heroine's conflict.
Conflict helps refine our characters which then enriches the story. Conflict can bring out the best or the worst in people. It shows them and the reader what they’re really made of. What's important to them. Conflict can humble a person. And it is an essential part of every story.

Writers, do you struggle with conflict or look forward to it? Readers, how do you feel about the push and pull of conflict in stories? Often, it’s what keeps you reading. Which is a good thing, unless you have to get up early and you just can’t put the book down. Then you have a conflict. 

Revisiting Conflict

Award-winning author Mindy Obenhaus is passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, two sassy pups, countless cattle, deer and the occasional coyote, mountain lion or snake. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, cooking and watching copious amounts of the Hallmark Channel. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com

The Many Hats of an Author

The Many Hats of an Author

by Mindy Obenhaus

When you think of your favorite author, what do you envision them doing? Probably sitting at a computer, writing, right? That’s exactly what I thought before I received my first contract. Then I got my first dose of reality in the form of edits. There was so much red on the page I wondered why they’d even bought the book. Now here I am, nine years later, fully aware that there are many more aspects to being an author than just writing. So, I thought I’d pull back the curtain so you can see some of the many hats authors wear. Some you may be very familiar with, while others may seem intimidating. But each has a purpose. Please note that I'm only talking about traditionally published authors. Indie published authors don many more hats. 

The Writer Hat – If you’ve been writing for any length of time, you’re familiar with this hat. It’s the one we often have a love/hate relationship with. We love the writing process when the words flow. But when those words get stuck, we’re ready to toss that hat across the room. Or avoid it all together. This is our working hat. The one an author wears most often, though it can be quickly replaced by…

The Editor Hat – The story is finally out of your head and on the page. Now it’s time to fix it. Some writers edit as they go, while others finish the manuscript then go back and make changes. This is a matter of personal preference, whatever works best for you. I tend to edit as I go, but I still have to go back and change some things. Are my verbs strong enough? Did I describe a setting in a way readers will be able to visualize? And why did I use this one word so many times? Yes, published authors have editors that help make their stories shine, but you still want to present them with the best product possible.

The Marketing Hat – This hat covers a broad range of things. Everything from social media and blogs to newsletters to giveaways and publicity campaigns. You’ve got a book coming out. Now you have to let the whole world know. Some publishers have publicists that will help you with this, but many don’t. Whatever avenues you decide to explore, your goal is the same—to connect with readers. When they feel a connection with you, they’re more apt to buy your book. If you’re not an outgoing person or aren’t adept on social media, this can be a challenge. That’s where companies like JustRead Publicity Tours come in handy. Carrie, Beth and the rest of their crew are great at helping us get our books into the hands of others who might not have picked them up otherwise.

The Mail Clerk Hat – While some publishers will mail out books for you, this isn’t the case with all of them. This means you need to have mailing supplies—padded mailing envelopes, tape, labels—on hand. Some people have scales to weigh the packages and print their postage at home, while others (raising my hand) schlep to the post office with their packages.

The Mentor Hat – Very few, if any, published authors got there by themselves. There were people every step of the way that helped them via critiques, workshops, contest judges, etc. Now it’s time to give back by helping others the way you were helped.

The Teacher Hat – This is different from the mentor hat and one not everyone is comfortable wearing. But if God has called you to share your knowledge, your forte, with others, then you might consider speaking or blogging about the craft. Local and national writer groups are always looking for speakers.

As you can see, being an author entails much more than just writing. Sometimes another hat is a necessity, other times it’s a procrastination tool. But they’re all part and parcel of the job.

Which hat is/would be your least favorite? Is there another hat you’d add to the list? Leave a comment for a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card.

The Many Hats of an Author

Award-winning author Mindy Obenhaus is passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, two sassy pups, countless cattle, deer and the occasional coyote, mountain lion or snake. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, cooking and watching copious amounts of the Hallmark Channel. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com

Revisit, Reflect, Revamp, Restart.

 

Revisit, Reflect, Revamp, Restart.
by Mindy Obenhaus

Here we are again at the start of a brand-new year. An empty calendar/planner lays before us just waiting to be filled. There’s something about those empty spaces that excites me. Perhaps it’s the thought of all the potential that lies ahead. The what-could-be instead of the what-might-have-been.

In case you can’t tell, I’m an optimist. However, I’m also a realist, which means I’m not about to dive into a new year simply hoping for the best. No, I need some sort of a plan, no matter how loose it might be. Like a map that points me in the right direction while giving me the freedom to enjoy the scenery along the way.

Instead of New Year’s resolutions, I prefer to set goals for the coming year. Things I’d like to accomplish or improve upon. I’ve found the best place for me to keep track of those goals is in my very simple weekly/monthly planner. There are pages at the back for notes and that very last page is the perfect place to write out those goals, so I always know where to find them. And I will want to find them because they’ll be an integral part of planning for the next year. Come on, I’ll show you what I mean.

Revisit – Before I get started with my goals for the coming year, I need to look back at those from last year to see how I did. Armed with a pen and my new calendar/planner, I sit down with my previous one and look back at what I set out to achieve the year prior. The things I accomplished, I cross off the list and give myself a little high-five. It’s a rare occasion when I’m able to checkoff everything, though. Sometimes I even find myself wondering what I was thinking when I wrote something down. That’s when it’s time to…

Reflect – Why didn’t I achieve those goals? Were they too lofty? Maybe I didn’t put forth enough effort. If not, why? Perhaps I wasn’t all that set on them to begin with. We have to be honest with ourselves. If there’s something that’s still important to me, it gets added to the new list with hopes that I’ll do better in the coming year. Other times the realist in me says, “Nope, not happening.”
Revisit, Reflect, Revamp, Restart.
Revamp – My list for the year ahead starts with those things that have carried over from the previous year. Then ponder things I’d like to see happen in the coming year. They don’t have to be grand. Last year, I wanted to go deeper into God’s word. A few years ago, one of my goals was to learn how to create a meme. Once I did a little research, I discovered some websites where I can waste countless hours trying to decide on a design. But I had to take those first steps to make my goal a reality.

Of course, there are some things that are out of our control, so be realistic. Your goal may be to get a book contract, but that’s not something you have control over. However, there are things you can do to improve your writing/storytelling so that you have a better chance of receiving that elusive contract.

Restart – Once you have your list, no matter how short or long it might be, you’re ready to embark on your journey. Your map is set out before you, though you can always add or delete a few stops along the way because as we all know, life happens. Just don’t give up. Because even if you only achieve one goal, it’s an accomplishment that should be celebrated.

What are your goals for 2022? Perhaps you want to finally clean out that closet that’s been a catchall for too many years. Maybe you want to finish the manuscript for that story that’s been floating around your brain forever. Is there a bad habit you’d like to break? Or maybe you’d like to learn how to make a meme. Whatever it is, write it down and revisit it often. Reflect on why you wanted to do that. Revamp things as needed. And remember, it’s never too late to restart and set yourself on the path to a better you. The you God has called you to be.

Revisit, Reflect, Revamp, Restart.

Award-winning author Mindy Obenhaus is passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, two sassy pups, countless cattle, deer and the occasional coyote, mountain lion or snake. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, cooking and watching copious amounts of the Hallmark Channel. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com

New Release!


by Mindy Obenhaus

Happy December! Yes, the holidays are upon us and there's only one thing that could make me happier. The release of a new Christmas book! 

Yesterday was release day for the fourth and final book in my Bliss, Texas series. Their Yuletide Healing is a sweet story about overcoming the wounds of the past to embrace the future God has called you to.

Rae, our heroine, always wanted a whole passel of kids, but her ex-husband was too focused his dreams to consider a family--until he left Rae for another woman. But Rae doesn't need a husband to have a family. Instead, she becomes a foster mom to six-year-old Maggie and her five-year-old brother, Max. Rae is determined to give them the perfect Christmas. One they will always remember, even if her dream of adopting them falls through. But her holiday plans are threatened when she's suddenly put in charge of the town's biggest holiday event.

Cole, our reclusive, anti-Christmas hero, grew up in an environment that has kept him emotionally shutdown for most of his life. That is, until his aunt coerces him into helping Rae with the town's Mistletoe Ball and he finds himself drawn to her foster son. Little Max has seen the worst life has to offer. Something Cole recognizes and has him longing to help the boy. But first, he’ll have to earn Max’s trust and that will entail spending time with the boy’s pretty foster mom. 

Yeah, you know where this story is headed.


To celebrate the release of Their Yuletide Healing, I'm giving away a copy of the book AND a $20 Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter (US mailing addresses only, please).

As her plans unravel, can she give her children what they truly need?

Foster mom Rae Girard’s determined to make her children’s first Christmas with her the best they’ve ever had—and she’s shocked when the town scrooge, attorney Cole Heinsohn, offers to pitch in. Rae’s young charges have melted Cole’s heart, and he wants them to experience the special day he never had. But when disaster strikes, an imperfect holiday might bring them something better: a family…


Award-winning author Mindy Obenhaus is passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, two sassy pups, countless cattle, deer and the occasional coyote, mountain lion or snake. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, cooking and watching copious amounts of the Hallmark Channel. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com

Polishing Your Manuscript

Polishing Your Manuscript

by Mindy Obenhaus

Congratulations! You’ve labored for months (maybe years) and, finally, your manuscript is complete. It’s out of your head and on the page. You can’t wait for your editor to read it. But, slow down. Before you hit Send, have you made sure your shiny new manuscript truly shines? Or could it use a little polishing?

This is where I currently find myself in the writing process. I’m almost ready to send off another manuscript, but not until it undergoes a little polishing. This means I have to read the story in its entirety with a few specific things in mind.

Flow. Does the story move smoothly, or does it feel disjointed? Sometimes I’ve got the right stuff, it’s just in the wrong order. By shifting around a couple of scenes or even approaching the scene from a different POV, things feel more organic, like they were meant to be that way. Sometimes I have to delete things. Flow is important. If something trips you up or doesn’t feel right, then some tweaking might be in order.

Continuity. Things sometimes change as I’m writing.

  • Character names. Like when my heroine’s mother’s boyfriend was named Jerry and I soon discovered that reading “Mom and Jerry” in a sentence had my mind conjuring up images of a certain cat and mouse. So, Jerry became Bill. However, the Replace function doesn’t always catch everything, so it’s good to double check.
  • Descriptions. Everything from hair color to eye color needs to be consistent. Unless, of course, your character colors their hair midway through the story or is wearing colored contact lens. This also applies to…
  • Setting. If I don’t have a clear vision of a setting in my head from the onset of the story, it’s apt to change. As someone who’s used both real and fictitious settings in my books, I can honestly say this is where a real setting is an advantage. Still, the places in which your scenes take place can evolve during the writing process. What I thought I wanted at the beginning isn’t necessarily how they remain, so I need to make sure I’m consistent throughout the story.

Tightening. Do I have repeated words? Can sentences be rephrased to be more succinct? Do I really need all that description of something in chapter six after I’ve already talked about it in chapter two?

Hooks and chapter endings.This is important. We don’t want a reader to sigh with contentment as they close the book at the end of chapter seven, set the book aside and go to sleep. No, we want to leave them hanging so they can’t wait to move onto chapter eight. Some of the greatest compliments a writer can hear are things like, “I couldn’t put it down,” or “You kept me up late because I couldn’t stop reading.” Save the satisfying ending for the end of the book. But hook the reader at the end of each scene so they want to keep reading.

Completing your manuscript is always something to be celebrated. But don’t be so eager to send it off that you overlook that all important polishing process. Remember, the hard work is already done. So you may as well take just a little more time to make sure it shines.

Writers, what tips do you have for polishing your manuscripts? Readers, what makes a book one you can’t put down? Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of my upcoming release, Their Yuletide Healing (print US only, digital for international). And check out the book trailer HERE!

Polishing Your Manuscript

As her plans unravel, can she give her children what they truly need?

Foster mom Rae Girard’s determined to make her children’s first Christmas with her the best they’ve ever had—and she’s shocked when the town scrooge, attorney Cole Heinsohn, offers to pitch in. Rae’s young charges have melted Cole’s heart, and he wants them to experience the special day he never had. But when disaster strikes, an imperfect holiday might bring them something better: a family…


Polishing Your Manuscript

Award-winning author Mindy Obenhaus is passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, two sassy pups, countless cattle, deer and the occasional coyote, mountain lion or snake. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, cooking and watching copious amounts of the Hallmark Channel. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com

While We’re Waiting – Encouragement for the Pre-published Author

 

While We’re Waiting – Encouragement for the Pre-published Author

by Mindy Obenhaus

The road to publication can be daunting, to say the least. There’s so much to learn. I wrote my first manuscript before I ever attended any sort of writers’ group. When I finally did, I promptly learned what I had written was a really bad first draft.

I knew nothing about writing. Not even proper formatting. And POV? What was that all about? Deep POV? Ay, ay, ay.

I started buying books on writing, attended every meeting and conference I could. I wrote and rewrote. Joined a critique group and rewrote some more until, finally, after years of learning and implementing, I had something worthy of submitting.

[Insert weird, Psycho-like music]

Yep, sending our babies out into the world is always scary, whether it’s to kindergarten or an agent or editor. Yet while kindergarteners are usually home by mid-afternoon, it could be months before you hear anything about your manuscript. What’s a writer to do?

Well, if your goal is to build a career as a writer, you only have one option. Keep writing.

“But, but,” I hear you say. “What if…?”

Don’t allow fear to stifle you

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but somewhere along the way an agent or editor might tell you your work isn’t quite there yet. An editor might respond that your project isn’t right for their house. Or they love the concept but want you to rewrite two thirds of the book. You crumble and whine. How could they possibly think your baby is anything but perfect? They don’t know what they’re talking about. You drown yourself in chocolate or something else that’s normally off limits. Then, once the Seekerville allotted 24-hour mourning period is over, you go back and reread the agent/editor’s comments again.

While We’re Waiting – Encouragement for the Pre-published Author

Rejection vs Redirection

If their response states that your project isn’t right for them and they’re going to pass, that’s a rejection. But things like, “your work isn’t quite there yet,” or “I love the story concept, but I’d like the hero to learn he has a child in chapter one instead of chapter nine,” puts the ball back in your court. That’s not a rejection, my friend, that’s redirection and you can do one of two things with it. You can choose to dig your heels in and lament about how the story will have to change and that’s not how you envisioned it, or you can make changes and resubmit. If your work isn’t quite there, keep working. And above all…

Never stop learning

In my years of attending writer’s conferences there’s one thing I’ve observed. Bestselling, multi-published authors are always learning. The first time I saw Terri Blackstock sitting in the same workshop I was attending, I was flabbergasted. She was even taking notes! What an example that was for an aspiring author. Of course, the simple fact that you’re here at Seekerville tells me you’re eager to learn. And now with so many online classes, it’s easier than ever to learn right at home.

Publication may be a writer’s goal, but it’s not the finish line. Fear will still try to ensnare us. Rejection and/or redirection still lurks around the corner. But as it says in Hebrews 12, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”

If you’re a published author, what words of wisdom do you have for those still chasing that dream? If you’re still waiting on that seemingly elusive contract, what keeps you pressing on? And readers, what do you think when you hear how much is involved in the writing process?

While We’re Waiting – Encouragement for the Pre-published Author

Award-winning author Mindy Obenhaus is passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, two sassy pups, countless cattle, deer and the occasional coyote, mountain lion or snake. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, cooking and watching copious amounts of the Hallmark Channel. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com

Make Them Care

 

Make Them Care

by Mindy Obenhaus

A novel is an invitation to embark on the journey that lies within its pages. As the author, our job is to capture the reader’s attention on page one and make them want to keep reading.

How do we do that?

By crafting multidimensional characters readers care enough about to be willing to invest themselves in.

We all know that each character needs a goal, motivation and conflict. In my latest release, A Future to Fight For, my heroine’s goal is to purchase an abandoned castle. Her motivation is that she wants to get back into the wedding planning business, but she lives in a small Texas town so she needs something special to draw interest and a castle will do just that. The problem (conflict) is that someone else (the hero) also wants to purchase the castle.

Those are the basics. But let’s dig a little deeper so we can really get to know our heroine. Because the better we know our characters the more our readers will know them. And the more they know, the more they care what happens to those characters and that will keep them reading.

So if our heroine wants to get back into the wedding planning business, that means she was once a wedding planner. So what happened?

Her husband and son were suddenly taken away in a tragic accident, robbing her of her passion and causing her to walk away from the successful business she’d worked hard to build.

Okay, so why does she want to return to it now?

After running a bed and breakfast and catering weddings and other events for the past five years, her love for creating fairytale weddings has reignited, filling her with a purpose she’d been lacking. However, our heroine isn’t just thinking about herself and her desires. No, no, no. She knows that hosting weddings and other events will also boost the revenue of the tiny town she’s grown to love, which shows that she cares for others. 

Make Them Care

As an author, asking “why” forces us to dig deeper. There has to be a reason our characters think/act the way they do. The more we know about them, the more real they become to the reader who, in turn, becomes so invested in the characters they have to keep reading.

Yet while there’s a lot of stuff to make the reader cheer for my heroine, my hero isn’t quite so likeable. He’s a prickly sort and, when the story opens, there’s no love lost between him and the heroine. So how do you make someone likeable when they’re behaving like a jerk?

Give the reader glimpses of their heart. Something that’s easier to do when we’re in their POV. Unfortunately, the first time we meet the hero, we’re in the heroine’s point of view and we know right away that she’s not particularly fond of him and why. So, I had to show him doing something endearing like helping the heroine when she’s about to topple a load of baked goods and buying some lemon cookies because they’re his daughter’s favorite. Little hints that let us know our cranky fellow might have a heart, after all.

Of course, as the story unfolds, we learn that our hero has some deep wounds, too. Throw in a couple of kids he’ll do anything for, and you’ve got a recipe for plenty of push and pull between the hero and heroine.

“Why” can be a writer’s greatest tool to help dig beyond our character’s superficial GMC’s to unearth a treasure trove of details that will not only help you the author know your characters better, but will transcend to the story to capture the reader’s attention and make them care about the characters they often come to think of as friends. 

What tricks or tools do you employ to get to know your characters better?

Make Them Care

Award-winning author Mindy Obenhaus is passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, two sassy pups, countless cattle, deer and the occasional coyote, mountain lion or snake. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, cooking and watching copious amounts of the Hallmark Channel. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com

New Release and a Giveaway!

 

New Release and a Giveaway!

by Mindy Obenhaus

It’s here! It’s finally here! The third installment of my Bliss, Texas series, A Future to Fight For, released last week and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I love this story. It’s a tale of love, loss and overcoming tragedy to discover new dreams.

You know, life is full of ups and downs but there’s one thing—one person—that remains faithful. God. Whether we’re in the valley or on the highest mountain top, He is there, willing to walk with us, even carry us.

Paisley, the heroine in A Future to Fight For, woke up one morning to a horrific tragedy. One that would have done many of us in. And threatened to do so with her. But God. His mercies are new every day.

Here’s a snippet from the story:

“Cute kid.” Crockett pointed to the photograph as Paisley lifted her head. “His hair’s the same color as yours.”

Her movements stilled as she looked away. “That’s my son. Logan.”

Son? He wasn’t aware she had a son.

She reached for a towel, wiping her hands as she approached him. “He died in the same car accident that took my husband.” Stopping beside him, she continued. “He was ten.”

Speechless, Crockett simply stood there, feeling as though he’d been punched in the gut. How does one overcome something like that? Losing a spouse to death would be hard enough, but to lose a child at the same time? He couldn’t even begin to fathom the amount of strength it must take for her to get up every morning knowing that they weren’t there.

Looking down at her, he could see the sorrow in her eyes. Yet, there were no tears.

He felt like a heel. “I—I’m sorry, Paisley. I had no idea.”

“I know you didn’t.” She tilted her head to meet his gaze, her smile tremulous. “That’s why I told you.”

Could that be why she’d needed a change of scenery? “How long ago?”

“It’ll be five years next month.” Making her son a few years older than Mackenzie, had he lived.

Reminding himself to give his kids extra big hugs this morning, he searched Paisley’s face, her peaceful expression, realizing just how wrong he’d been about her. She had an inner strength and determination he wasn’t even sure he possessed.

“I’m sorry you had to go through that.”

She nodded. “Me, too. But God is good, and I firmly believe that He has a plan and a purpose for everything, good or bad.” Her tone left no room for argument.

How was that possible? She’d lost her entire family, not to mention all of the hopes and dreams that went along with it. Something he could relate to, though on a different level. Yet, there wasn’t a hint of anger or self-pity in Paisley’s words.

New Release and a Giveaway!

I don’t know about you, but I need to be a little more like Paisley. It’s easy to trust God when things are going good, but when life deals us a hard blow…

Now don’t let this excerpt leave you thinking this is a sad story. I mean, it has a castle. In Texas, no less! How cool is that? There are also a couple of cute kids and lots of banter between the hero and heroine who are anything but friends when the story opens.

How has God proven Himself faithful in your life? Leave a comment—you don’t have to go into detail—to be entered to win a copy of A Future to Fight For (US mailing addresses will receive a print or digital copy, digital only for international).

New Release and a Giveaway!

Award-winning author Mindy Obenhaus is passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. She lives on a ranch in Texas with her husband, two sassy pups, countless cattle, deer and the occasional coyote, mountain lion or snake. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, cooking and watching copious amounts of the Hallmark Channel. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com
Increasing ProductivityGrowing PainsRevisiting ConflictThe Many Hats of an AuthorRevisit, Reflect, Revamp, Restart.New Release!Polishing Your ManuscriptWhile We’re Waiting – Encouragement for the Pre-published AuthorMake Them CareNew Release and a Giveaway!

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