Blog Tour – Why I Write

July 29th, 2014

When Jessica Schaub invited me to be a part of Blog Tour — Why I Write, I jumped at the chance. It’s only three questions, questions authors are asked again and again, but they are three questions that reveal a lot about the person behind the words. So here are my answers to those three important questions:

What am I working on?

I just finished my second Bible study, Trust God! No Matter What…, and have returned to finish final edits on Master Cat (the third in Toby the cat’s tale). If you haven’t had the opportunity to read Apprentice Cat or Journeyman Cat, be sure to check them out. Master Cat picks up where Journeyman Cat left off and finishes up the story arc. Not to worry, though, there are plenty more Toby and Lorn stories to come.

Here is the description of Master Cat:

Toby, a magical talking cat, has cut ties with the Office of Kingdom Guardianship, intent on finding his long-lost father and avenging his mother’s murder. He thought he left everyone behind, but someone from his past is stalking him. Now he must avoid this strange new menace while he seeks the truth about his family’s dark history, a history that threatens to unravel his sanity and cause the rest of the world to descend into madness. Can Toby reconcile himself with the past or will his inner turmoil allow his enemy to plunge humanity into chaos once and for all?

Check back next month to cast your vote for the Master Cat cover and be sure to sign up for my monthly newsletter to be first to find out when Master Cat is available.

Why I Write what I do?

That’s a good question. I’ve been a story-teller since I was a child. When I learned to write, I couldn’t get enough of stringing words together to create stories from the wild imaginings going on in my head. I even self-published two short stories when I was nine  (basically I used brads to hold the sheets together between two pieces of construction paper with a pasted on cover I drew myself). I begged my English teachers to read them and they seemed to like them. I wish I could say I got an A on every story I ever wrote in school, but that’s not true. Still, it was the enjoyment of writing that was the pull, not the grade.

For a short time, I put writing on a shelf and worked in ministry, even working on a Masters of Divinity. It was during that stressful time in grad school that I discovered I wasn’t meant to be a minister in a church setting. My ministry was writing. Through that medium, I can be a tool for God to reach people, to share God’s love and caring. I left school one semester shy of graduating to pursue my career as an independent author and haven’t looked back since.

Today, my mission is to aid others in developing a closer relationship with God, to see that God is more than a wrath-filled judge or a magic genie. That is why I write.

What is my writing process?

At first I tried to cram everything into whatever free time I could carve out for myself. That’s a recipe for frustration and procrastination. After my eldest was born, I tried squeezing it all in a scheduled hour or two before spending time with my husband just before we went to bed. That led to being over-tired and cranky.

After my daughter started half-day’s in preschool, I was able to get four solid hours of work done before I had to go to my day job. This, so far, has worked best, especially since I pretend that I’m going to a regular 9 to 5 job as soon as I walk in my front door after dropping her at school. On my days off from my day job, I spend the mornings doing the highest priority work, like drafting or editing the next book, and the afternoons on more business tasks, like marketing and administrative tasks, and research.

The next step I took was purchasing a Galaxy Tab 10.2 in 2012 with a bluetooth keyboard. That has been the best business purchase I’ve made to date. I can now extend my writing time to the afternoons at my day job and kill the down time between customers with some massive productivity. In fact that’s what helped me win the 2012 and 2013 NaNoWriMo. Combined with my smartphone, I can work on both writing and business anywhere, anytime.

As for the actual drafting of any of my books, it wasn’t until I read James Scott Bell Plot & Structure and Conflict & Suspense that I really got the hang of it and the process got faster. I’m a plotter by nature, so Bell’s various ways of plotting made getting my ideas down so much quicker and efficient. And while the old adage “chase your character up a tree and throw rocks at him” might be one way of creating suspense and conflict, it just didn’t make sense to me. It wasn’t logical. When I read Bell’s Conflict & Suspense the “ah-ha” moment arrived with a giant Acme lightbulb. It’s not just throwing your character into challenging situations; it’s about finding the tension point — the “what’s the worst that could happen” moment — and then building the next scenes from that. I highly recommend both these books to anyone wanting to stuff some more tools in their writer’s toolbox.

Who is up next on the tour?

Call me an overachiever, but I found three terrific ladies you’ll want to meet. They are: Kathy Jones, Jansina Grossman and Beckie Laux Carlson. Be sure to stop by their web sites to find out more.

Making God Your Partner

March 3rd, 2012

If you’ve been reading this blog lately, you know I’m in the process of re-visioning what it should be. I’m still not entirely sure what that’s going to look like, but I have a better idea how to go about it.

As part of my job as a writer, I do a lot of reading, including various blogs. Recently I came across You’ve Got “Connections” by Cheryl Ricker on Wordserve Water Cooler in which Cheryl speaks of connecting through prayer with God to reach our dreams as writers.

Although this post specifically addresses writers, I think what Cheryl says can apply to anyone with a dream. She gives 5 ways one should connect in order to fulfill their vision:

        • Connect with God
        • Connect with prayer partners
        • Connect with God for those we’re in mission for (for a writer that’s the reader)
        • Connect with God for those who will be helping you with your task (beta readers, cover designers, editors, etc.)
        • Connect with God for those who are working in the same mission field (other writers)

Prayer is an important part of our spiritual lives. Through our connection with God things that before didn’t make sense become clear and things that seemed impossible become easily accomplished.

Cheryl gives the example of a friend who posted a status update about his writing on Facebook:

One of my friends posted this on Facebook:  “I struggled with my writing for three hours, but after praying, I couldn’t stop the flow.  Why did I wait so long?”

What her friend experienced is so true. When we fully turn our challenges over to God they suddenly disappear. Is it easy to give them over? Not always.

We humans have a tendency to believe we can solve all our own problems. Sometimes we can. Other times we need a big helping hand. When we keep taking our problems back, though, it slows everything down because, just like a helpful child, we get in the way.

God loves us and wants the best for us, guide us in achieving our dream. To do that God asks that we make a connection through prayer and then let God take control.

When have you been stuck with a problem getting to your dream and prayed about it? What were the results?

 

If Cats Could Talk…

February 27th, 2012

I’m so excited this week because Natalie Hartford of Life Out Loud is spotlighting me on her blog. Natalie calls herself an urban redneck who loves all things pink and she’s a real firecracker. Take a moment to hop on over to her blog and enter her contest for a special edition signed Simply Prayer ebook (open internationally) or a signed copy of the paperback version (open to US/Canada).

In the meantime, I’m getting ready to re-vision my blog. By that I mean I’m going to take a short break to brainstorm some great ideas for future posts. I want to make this a place you can stop by to pick up handy tips and inspirational messages to help you in your day-to-day life, as well as catch a weekly laugh.

That being said, I don’t want to just leave you high and dry while I work up a new plan, so I’ll be re-posting some of the best from the last year. Enjoy!

If Cats Could Talk…

I’ve started editing and revising my work in progress, Apprentice Cat. It’s been tough, but rewarding. In the spirit of my main character’s nemesis, I’ve chosen a video about what cats really talk about.

What do you think your pets are really saying?

7 Links To Help Every Writer With Taxes

December 3rd, 2011

 Maybe it seems a little early to start thinking about doing your taxes, but it’s been my experience that the sooner you get on it, the less stressful it can be. Thankfully there are people and web sites out there to help us slot all those numbers in the correct places on the correct forms and keep us from having to visit with a friendly IRS agent because we’ve gotten “creative” with the numbers. Here are 7 links to help you understand how to do your taxes:

  1. The IRS — this one seems rather obvious. It’s their forms, their rules, so it makes sense to check out their site for answers to our questions.
  2. Tax Advice for Writers by Bonnie Lee — simple to read and easy to understand with a great section on hobby-loss information
  3. A Fool And Her Money — depending on when you’ve started getting your tax-related material together, The Money Book may be more helpful for next year’s tax season, but it’s a resource worth investing in
  4. Tax Tips for Writers a guest post by Jessica Monday — more information on what can be used as a deduction including what can happen when you sell your house
  5. Writers by Peter Jason Riley, CPA — a break down of basic deductions and free downloadable checklists specifically for writers
  6. Tax Tips for Freelancers by Julian Block — a short, but excellent article on bad-debts that can’t be deducted
  7. What Every Self-Published Author Needs to Know About Taxes by Helen Sedwick — information on treating your writing like a business and what that entails

Doing taxes can be frightening and overwhelming, not to mention disappointing if you have to pay instead of getting a nice refund, but it’s unavoidable.

I’d love to hear from all of you. Besides checking with a good tax accountant, what other tips do you have for doing taxes?

***

Catch up on the adventure with other books in the Malkin series.

Apprentice Cat CoverApprentice Cat available in paperback and for KindleNookKoboScribd and iTunes.

Buy the .pdf now 

Also available as an audiobook on AudibleAmazon and iTunes.

 

 

Journeyman-Cat15percentJourneyman Cat available in paperback and KindleNookScribdiTunes and Kobo.

Buy the .pdf now 

Audiobook coming soon.

 

 

Secrets-of-the-Malkin-sidebar-newsletterSecrets of the Malkin ebook version available for KindleNookiTunes and Kobo.

Buy the .pdf now 

 

 

 

Huntress of the MalkinHuntress of the Malkin ebook version available for KindleNookKobo and iTunes.

Buy the .pdf now 

Related Posts

  • 43
    Celebrate with me! It was 21 plus years ago this week (I'm not telling how many plus years. ;) ) that I let the world know I was here. Because I'm thankful for all the blessings in my life since that day, I'm giving away a signed paperback edition of…
    Tags: malkin, cat, journeyman, apprentice, free, check, paperback, book

NaNoWriMo: When Writers Disappear

November 2nd, 2011

desk photoIt’s that time of year again. It’s the month when writers disappear into their caves only to be glimpsed during brief moments of foraging and a quick run for a caffeinated beverage.

What’s the deal?

That’s right, folks, it’s time for NaNoWriMo and yours truly will be joining the hibernation this time. While I’m not actually participating in the event, I will be using this time to make a big push toward finishing my WIP.

What that means…

For the rest of November I’ll only be posting on Toolbox Saturday. Come December, I’ll get back to our regularly scheduled program.

Important upcoming giveaway…

I believe prayer is an important part of life, especially during Advent and Lent. I also know that sometimes we get stuck in the details and make having a conversation with our loving Creator more difficult than it needs to be. That’s why I wrote Simply Prayer, to give you some tools to break through what’s holding you back.

With that in mind, I’m giving away a free copy of the Simply Prayer ebook during Advent (Nov. 27-Dec. 26) and during Lent (Feb. 22-Apr. 9).

Watch here for more details or follow me on twitter (@virginiaripple)

Photo by gudmd.haralds

Toilet Kitty

August 22nd, 2011

Welcome to Laugh Out Loud Monday (aka LOL Monday): because, like my favorite fat cat, I hate Mondays, I thought, “What better way to start the week than with a laugh?”

I almost felt bad laughing, but this toilet kitty video was just too funny not to. Here’s hoping your week gets off to a better start than this poor feline’s.

Beating the Clock With Time Management

August 20th, 2011

Welcome to Toolbox Saturday where you’ll find tools for various things from writing to whatever.

Use a timer to make time to write.

One of the biggest obstacles I have to overcome on a daily basis is time management.  There are times I wish I could magically create time a to write where Tiny Tot didn’t need my attention for a couple of hours and I could work in peace and quiet.  As of this moment, however, that magic ability has yet to appear. The best I can manage on a daily basis is to wait until she goes to bed and hope I’m still alert enough to create comprehensible sentences.

Thankfully Grandma likes to play with Tiny Tot, so I also have about four hours every Friday and every other Monday to write like a madwoman. Even so, that’s not a lot of solid writing time.

Reaching for the dream…

Because Tiny Tot is one of my reasons for pushing on, I know finding the time to write is essential. You see, it’s my dream to stay at home with her, so I absolutely must write (and publish) to make enough money to attain my goal.  That can feel impossible at times, especially when just starting my career.

I have no doubt there are a lot of writers like me, searching for ways to make more time for their craft.  While I don’t have the answer to how to do this, I know of a few resources to help us.

2 ways to make time…

Perhaps the best resource is Flylady.  Marla Cilley (aka Flylady) advocates a system of 15 minutes at a time.  This system is designed to work in all aspects of home life and can be adapted for writing also.  The best part is that children can begin to understand that Mommy or Daddy will be able to play with them as soon as the timer goes off.  (Flylady’s way of keeping things moving is to use a timer.)

Another writer once said her husband  helped her fix a way for her to sit on top of the fridge to work while her son played safely on the floor below her.  Being creative is what writers do.  Putting that creativity to work finding a way to snatch a few minutes to write is a logical step.  I’ve personally discovered I can work on a project during lulls at my day job.  It may not be as satisfying as sitting at my computer for a couple of hours, but it keeps me going in the right (write? 🙂 ) direction.

Trial and error…

I am positive there are other resources available that actually help (and many that don’t) with time management.  My suggestion is to try several.  Keep doing those that work for you and discard those that don’t.

Time is a commodity everyone must decide how best to use and writers are no different.  However, when you use your creative impulses, you may discover some unique ways to create time to write.

What works for you? What tips and tricks do you use to make time to write?

Life Lessons From Potty Training

August 17th, 2011

Welcome to Spirit Wednesday where we take a look at all things spiritual from meditation to prayer to cleaning the house. Yes, even house work can be a spiritual experience… if you choose to see it that way.

potty chair photoTiny Tot began potty training today. To say it’s been a challenge would be an understatement. I’m not sure who wanted to give up more, her or me. Still we persevered. Or, rather, I pushed her to keep training and forced myself to stay calm and think of ways to help her succeed.

As with any new skill we find ourselves faced at least once with wanting to quit. We can choose to shelve it all or to keep trying.

If we quit…

We may never know if we had it in us to become great. Regrets can follow us around, whispering in our minds that we’ll never amount to anything because we never finish what we start.

In short, our dreams end and our reality becomes an endless stream of diapers.

If we persevere…

We face pain. We face frustration and confusion. We face sweet success when we finally understand, when we finally get it.

Our dreams flourish and we stand taller in our big girl/boy panties.

To quit or not to quit…

Quitting a dream is something we can do ourselves. We need no help.

Persevering, however, sometimes means asking for suggestions, guidance, whatever we need to make it happen. If not for one of my co-workers’ recommendations I wouldn’t have thought to keep treats and books on hand to help Tiny Tot make the transition. Thanks to that, by bedtime she was having more successes and fewer accidents.

Regardless, no one else can make that decision for us. The choice is always ours.

When have you faced the decision to quit or persevere? What did you do? What would you do differently?

Photo by jessicafm

Discovering Passion And Purpose In Writing

August 13th, 2011

fountain pen photoWelcome to Toolbox Saturday where you’ll find tools for various things from writing to whatever.

I’ve often heard it said that everyone dreams of writing the next great novel. That may be, but few get beyond “trunk writing” and fewer still actually publish something of quality. Why is that? Perhaps it’s because, while people may dream of being a “writer,” only those with a true passion for writing can find the energy to do it.

As I continue work on Apprentice Cat, I am amazed at how much passion it takes to keep plugging along at something I often feel unqualified to write.  I sometimes ponder what exactly is my purpose, not just in writing this book about prayer, but also about my purpose in life in general. It’s given me yet another subject for research and I would like to share what I’ve found.

First, there is the need for passion. If you’re like me, determining your passion can be difficult. I’ve always thought of it as something you eat-sleep-breath (much like my husband’s obsession with Star Wars action figures). That may not be the case for you, as it hasn’t been for me. A passion can be something that you naturally gravitate to, but don’t necessarily obsess over.

In her article Determine Your Passion, Amber Keinath poses several questions such as the obvious “What are you good at?” to the less obvious “What were you doing the last time you really had a lot of fun and found the time flying?” that can guide each of us to determining our own passion. For a writer, those questions can lead to a long list of possible books, essays, posts and even workshop notes on a particular topic.

After passion comes purpose. That is possibly the most difficult question to answer: What is my purpose in life? Some people, called nihilists (see #6 on Dictionary.com), believe we have no purpose. Others, like myself, want to believe we have a purpose (or more than one), but just don’t know how to discover it.

Many a book has been written on the subject of discovering one’s purpose in life and some have become very popular for whatever reason, like Purpose Driven Life. Unlike Rick Warren, however, I like to think that each of us has our own purpose separate from each other. As Albert from UrbanMonk.net said in a guest post to ZenHabits:

Are Your Goals Yours? This statement is everywhere, and yet it is ignored so often that it bears repeating: Your purpose is your own. No one can cramp themselves into another person’s definition of happiness and success and, well, expect to be happy and successful.

That was why I particularly enjoyed Steve Pavlina’s article “How to Discover Your Life Purpose in About 20 Minutes.” Steve’s solution is simple: title your blank page with “What is my true purpose in life?”, then write down any answer that pops into your head. According to Steve, the answer that makes you cry is your life’s purpose. Again, as an Independent Author, I can see where finding this purpose can lead to so many new avenues of income from book sales to speaking events.

It’s not always about making money. The money, in my opinion, is a byproduct of doing what we’re meant to do. For this Independent Author, discovering a passion and a life purpose is just part of the journey.

What defines passion and purpose in your life?

Photo by ChrisL_AK

Is Speech Recognition Software The Next Step In Writing

August 8th, 2011

headphones photoI think any writer can tell you that, when you stop writing, life becomes nothing but shades of grey. That’s what my last few weeks have been — nothing but shades of grey. In short I’ve been miserable. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to write. It’s just that I’ve been very busy. I usually have just enough time to juggle all my responsibilities, including working on my current project, but I’ve recently picked up a few hours at work and its severely limited my time.

And so I am once again faced with trying to find a creative work around to my lack of time. I’ve heard that voice recognition software can really speed up the process of writing. However, as I test this new software today, I’m finding it more than challenging. Why? Because I’m used to letting the words flow through my fingers and talking in my head, not out loud. I’ve found staring at a blank screen to be daunting as I try to decide what words to say. I usually close my eyes and “let my fingers do the walking,” but with speech recognition software you have to keep track of what the machine is doing. (Of course, that could just be the perfectionist in me. :P)

I have to wonder if this software is more for people like my husband who likes to talk things out rather than write. He’s a very auditory person. I’m very visual. In fact when I talk in my head I actually see the words as they float by. Strange, I know, but then I wouldn’t be a writer if I weren’t a little strange.

So far I’ve spent more time trying to get this software to do what I want than getting any work done. It would’ve been faster to type this than use voice recognition. Still, I don’t like to give up on something new, so I’ll go through some training with my computer and give it a little more time before I decide to chuck it all.

I’m curious to know, is there any writer out there who thinks voice recognition software is the greatest thing since sliced bread? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Is this the next step from pen to typewriter to computer to speech?