Tag Archives: Encouragement

Inspiration is a beautiful thing!

We love to inspire and motivate our staff and our readers which is why we share uplifting quotes on our social media, and we have a board dedicated to inspiration on Pinterest.

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We understand that everyone is going through something in this life, and we want to encourage you to never give up, to keep pushing on, and to be everything you can be, everything you’re meant to be.

So follow our Pinterest board and our Instagram page to be inspired!

Interview with Children’s Author, Olivia Jordan

1.       Introduce yourselves to us, please. Who is Olivia Jordan, the gal next door?

I am the mother of one grown daughter. I have spent over twenty years working in the early childhood education field. During my career I worked in the capacity of child educator, family community partner, and also as an administrator.

I have always had a great love for children and learning. When you can put both together and do something you love that affects so many people, it’s truly  blessing.

2.       Having been involved in child care and education, you must see lots of little things that spark ideas for stories. Can you give us an example of such an experience?

Absolutely. If you have ever been around small children you’ve no doubt noticed that they’re fascinated by everything. Even the smallest thing that we as adults take no notice of will spark their interest. When you work with children long enough, this amazement soon becomes second nature to you, and you find yourself seeing ordinary objects through new eyes.

An example could be something as simple watching an ant hill during the summer. How many times have we stepped over or even on the ant hill as we’re hurrying off to a meeting or to work? But when you stop long enough, you can watch all the tiny ants moving along, busy with their own individual tasks. If you’re really lucky, you can break things down even more and watch that one tiny ant carrying something much bigger than he is on his back along the trail leading to the ant hill. From there your imagination can break things down further still, and before you know it, you can have a whole kingdom of tiny ants and the adventures they have.

The key is seeing the ordinary and creating something extraordinary.

3.       In what other ways does being a child care specialist enhance your writing career?

Young children generally have a short attention span. You have to capture their attention and hold it tight from beginning to end. As an author, you have to do the same thing.

I always try to keep my audience in mind when I’m writing. I want to tell the story and make it animated enough that the children want to see what happens. I’ve read hundreds of books over the years. Many times early in my career I would find a wonderful book I just knew the children would love, only to find out I was mistaken. I quickly learned that while as an adult I thought the book was awesome and had a message I wanted the children to hear, the book just wasn’t in tune with the way young children learn.

If you don’t engage your reader, your story goes unheard.

4.       Rainy Day Friends is based around such a unique idea…the raindrop friend is quite original. What inspired this story?

Necessity is always the mother of invention. I’ve always been a huge fan of using thematic units when teaching. A thematic unit takes a central theme and then adds reinforcements by using games, stories, puzzles, etc to teach basic cognitive, physical, emotional, and social skills.

The unit I was trying to teach at the time was about rain and rainy weather. After searching through my very extensive library of children’s books, I realized I didn’t have much to build on so I came up with a little story to work as a flannelboard story. And I always wanted to cram in as many learning opportunities as possible.

So Stella was born as a way to discuss rain and weather. She needed a friend to play with so along came Ricky the raccoon, and all my children that year loved playing Hide and Seek. The story worked for my weather unit, it worked as a social activity, and it could be used for color recognition, or with slight adjustments, any type of guessing game I needed it to be.

Like most educators know, budgets are usually tight and getting the most bang for your buck really goes a long way.

5.       Are you working on a new project? Can you share a bit about it?

My newest project is set up to be a series of books geared for children aged three to eight years old. At present I have three nearly complete. All books focus on a behavior that is common for children of this age and how they can learn a better way to control their situations.

The series centers around a precocious little girl and the ditzy, yet loveable fairy that’s been sent to watch over her while she learns that life doesn’t always let us have our way.

6.     Share with us a bit about your journey into the world of children’s literature. How difficult was it to get that first book in print?

I’ve been writing and telling my own stories for years. I’m a very animated storyteller and have been blessed with the gift of gab. But it’s quite a bit different rattling something off to a room of three to five year olds that think you’re super duper amazing to begin with and attempting to get everything typed and set up for submission and possible publication. Especially when over the years parts of the stories were subject to change along with the storyteller’s memory. lol

I had so many doubts that my little stories were anything that would be publishable. Luckily I had lots of friends who encouraged me and urged me down that path.

7.       Many people are under the mistaken impression that writing for children is easier than writing for adults. What do you find most difficult about writing in this genre? Most rewarding?

Writing for children is just as hard, if not harder, than writing for adults. There are many similarities between the two genres. Children are hands down in my opinion the toughest audience. Not only does the writing have to be good, it has to be engaging. You have to captivate them.

I would say the most rewarding is when you see that little face light up with joy when the story has not only entertained them, but they remember parts of it. They’ve learned something from it, and they love you for reading it to them.

8.       What would your readers be surprised to know about you?

I think my readers would be most surprised to know I am a massive pack rat. Left over habits from my years as a preschool educator. That empty oatmeal box can be turned into so many really cool things. LOL

9.       Do you have a “preferred” writing environment?

I’m one of those ‘odd ducks’. I need quiet when I write. I’m too easily distracted by television noise or music. I tend to drift off to other places in my mind. I also prefer the crazy madness that is my desk. To the untrained eye it looks like a paper explosion along with random bottles of nail polish, paper clips, scissors, sticky notes, etc. But it works for me, and that’s what counts.

10.     What one piece of writing advice has been most beneficial to you?

The most beneficial piece of advice I’ve ever received is in order to be a writer, you have to write. That’s key. To get anywhere as an author, you have to write and write and write. Even bad writing is better than a blank page.

 

Interview Questions Provided by Delia Latham

 

 

 

 

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Interview with Suzanne Woods Fisher

1.     Please tell us a little about yourself. Who is Suzanne Woods Fisher?

Hmmm…wife and mom, brand new grandmother (bliss!), gardener, amateur chef, and…a writer. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and raise puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind when I’m not at the computer. And I’m at the computer a LOT.

2.     Your career started with World War II romances, but your recent work centers around the Amish. What brought about this turnaround?

Let’s go back even further. While my children were growing up, I was a free lance magazine writer. My husband is a corporate guy and we were transferred all over the U.S. Even to Hong Kong for four years! I just kept writing—mostly articles about parenting. My first few books were published with Vinspire (still so grateful!) and received some nice awards. I signed with a literary agent, Joyce Hart of The Hartline Literary Agency, and she was the one who remembered a conversation we’d had about my relatives. My grandfather had been raised Plain—a member of the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church. Joyce connected me to an editor at Revell, who was looking for a writer who could write credibly about the Old Order Amish. Since then…I have five published books with Revell and five under contract!

3.       How do you research your Amish material? Have you spent time in an Amish community?

I travel back to Ohio and Pennsylvania a couple of times a year, stay in Old Order Amish homes, visit people (both friends I’ve made and also cold-calling), I’ve read every scholarly book I can find about the Old Order Amish, interviewed many scholars, read “The Budget” each week (an Amish-Mennonite newspaper), and host a weekly internet radio show called “Amish Wisdom.” I work very hard to write fiction and non-fiction books that truly reflect the Amish people and culture.

3.     Tell us a bit about your publishing journey. (How long have you been writing? How difficult was it to get that first book in print?)

Even with my magazine background, it was hard work to get in the door to a publishing house. I’ll never forget receiving that contract from Vinspire (formerly Vintage Romance Publishing)—a door had opened!

I strongly recommend that aspiring writers to not overlook the benefits of   small press publishers. The learning curve is very steep in this industry. You can’t get enough book experience—the writing side, plus the business side of publishing.

5.       In hindsight, is there anything you would do differently in developing your career?

Self-confidence. I wish I had tried to foray into books a little sooner—but I kept limiting myself with a lack of confidence! I encourage other writers to keep at it, to keep trying. There are many wonderful books still to be written!

6.       What can we expect from you next?

I have a number of contracts with Revell still to fulfill—and conversations in progress for more! For now, I will continue to write for the Amish sub-genre. I love it—I love the message such books provides about finding what’s truly important in life and focusing on that.

7.       What authors most influenced your own writing style?

It’s difficult to single out any one author—often, I’ll love one book by an author but not his next one. I read and read and read—yet I read as a writer, not as a reader. I take notes as I read (spend a fortune on Post-it note page markers!) I soak up vocabulary, descriptions of weather, chapter introductions, on and on. I can’t read enough.

8.       Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so, how do you conquer it?

Lately it seems as if I get to a point where I think a novel I’m working on is a mess—a complete disaster. But I keep at it. Then comes a moment when the manuscript shifts into focus, like a camera lens. So it seems as if pushing through a frustrating or discouraging stretch is critical. Don’t give up! Often, it seems worse right before a break through. Can’t explain it, but that’s been my experience.

9.       Do you have any writing idiosyncrasies?

Usually, there’s a dog or two curled around my computer chair so I can’t move! But I try to keep the phone in the other room so I force myself to get up and go get it. Sitting a lot can’t be good for you! So I walk my dogs each day and play tennis a couple of times a week—even if my mind is still writing a book, at least my body is moving!

10.     What one piece of writing advice has been the most beneficial to you on your writing journey?

My niece, Hilary, gave me a book called “If You Want to Write.” It was written by Brenda Ueland and published in 1938. There’s a quote inside: “Everybody is talented, original and has something important to say.” I loved that! What great words for aspiring writers to live by.

Writing for Vinspire Publishing, Suzanne Woods Fisher is the author of Copper Star, Copper Fire, For the Love of Dogs, and a co-author of Grit for the Oyster: 250 Pearls of Wisdom for Aspiring Authors.

Interview questions provided by Delia Latham


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Quick Writing Tip—Believe in Yourself

Always believe in yourself and your talent. There was a reason you started writing in the first place. If you give up, you give the naysayers a reason to say they were right about you all along.

 

 


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Finding New Content for Your Website

How many times have you visited a website only to discover it had not been updated in six months or even a year? How is a reader supposed to know you’re still writing if you don’t refresh your pages now and again? You think, by the mere existence of a website itself, they should be able to tell?

Let us politely say…this is not going to happen. If we visit a site and scroll down to the bottom of the welcome page, we want to see a recent day, preferably within a week of our visit. Why? Because you wouldn’t go to a grocery store week after week if you thought for one instant their stock had not been upgraded or they ran the same sales week in and week out.

It’s all about creativity. Constantly changing your content will bring visitors back to your site and the article, 10 Website Essentials to Increase Your Sales which you can read here http://www.web-source.net/website_essentials.htm provides a list of excellent pointers, one of which is providing your visitors with fresh content on a continual basis. Ms. Lowery even lists several websites which provide free articles for publication on your website. So if you want to sell books, but you just don’t have time to pen articles as well, these places might be an excellent source for new content.

Here are some other helpful ideas to keep your website fresh:

Add polls. Ask your readers what they think about something that’s important to you, or just ask them to vote for their favorite cover of yours. Post the winning cover on the front page of your website as a Reader Favorite. It’s a great way to keep visitors involved.

Make sure your Twitter is integrated on your website so your updates are visible. Even if all you have time to do is update your Twitter, at least, you’ve made a minimal change to your website.

Make sure you have a blog. Even if you only post two or three times a week, you can always update the front page of your website to let visitors know you’ve just recently updated your blog.

What is going on in your life that you could append to your website? Are you taking a cooking class or a foreign language  class? Give your readers some recipes or teach them how to say hello in French.

Set up a separate Twitter account wherein you can include tips for something you’re interested in such as gardening. Integrate that account separate from your other account. If you constantly keep the tips flowing, there will always be something new for visitors to read.

Even if you haven’t had a new release within the last six months, you can still find ways to keep your backlist current by adding reviews as they come in. (Every website should have a What’s New section.) Add author testimonials. If you don’t have any, what’s stopping you from sending that book out for some?

Spend some time on Amazon to set up your profile there. Create lists and So You Want to guides. You can then link those to your website to let people know what you’re reading and watching.

If you’ve had articles published, consider adding them to your website as a separate page.

Keep a contest going at least once every other month.

Add new things to your website every so often like Word of the Day or This Day in History. The Free Dictionary.com also provides other free items you can include such as The Spelling Bee.

The best thing to do when seeking to keep your website current is to make sure it’s interesting and will make someone want to return for another look!

Good luck!

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Who or What Inspires You?

We’ve all had people who’ve come into our lives, maybe for even a short period of time, who have inspired us. It might be someone we’ve not even actually met like an astronaut we’ve seen on TV or a great singer. We can all find inspiration in someone.

But what inspires you to do your best, be your best, write your best? Do you have an inner desire? Are you your own inspiration?

I’ve heard many people say they felt inspired to do something so how do you find that inspiration? Where do you find it? Is it something that lies dormant within you until it’s sparked by a question, a thought, or a song?

As you ask yourself these questions, consider writing down the answers, and maybe, one day when you’re just not feeling inspired, you can review those things that once did inspire you.

Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labour in freedom.  ~ Albert Einstein

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Rejection Builds Character by Venita Louise

A fellow writer once told me, “When you have enough rejections to wallpaper your living room and half way down the hall, you can consider yourself a professional.”

So you have your novel completed. You are so excited. You have put so much energy into the project, Aunt Gert loves the plot, your mom brags to all her friends that her child, the writer, has finished a best-selling novel, and all your friends agree that you will soon be rubbing elbows with John Grisham, Michael Creighton, and JK Rowling.

Waiting to hear about your submission is next to the worst part. I had no idea that it took so long to hear back from a publisher, sometimes months. When I began this process, I was so anxious for a response, I would chase down the mailman in my car well before he got to my address. If you plan to do this, be sure to wear jewelry intended to ward off the evil-eye because there is nothing that the mailman hates more than sorting through his deliveries to pull something out of order.

Whether it is snail mail or e-mail, the almost worst part is when you receive the rejection letter. The absolute worst is the most dreaded form rejection letter. What do you do? No, let go of the cat’s tail. Fluffy isn’t there as an anger conductor and has no idea that your soul has just been cast into literary hell. Try to resist responding that the publisher wouldn’t know good writing if it bit them on the butt or that obviously your manuscript was reviewed by the town idiot. Don’t threaten to write to their superiors.  Arguing the rejection may blacklist you from that source and give you a bad reputation.

What did I do? Well, once I was finished with the supersonic, ear-shattering, teeth-jarring screams and holding my breath, I threw six raw eggs in the shower.  Thank God my cat was the only witness to this tantrum. Once I calmed down, I called another writer in the writing club that I belong to. He had the audacity to laugh about it. It only made me angrier to hear him say that I shouldn’t take it personally. “Think of it as someone who declines one of your homemade brownies because they are on a diet or when your child refuses your helping hand. That doesn’t crush you, does it?” It didn’t help for him to remind me that publishers are inundated by thousands of manuscripts every month. He told me to look over my manuscript with ‘new eyes’ and submit it to another publisher.

I am happy to say that I have been published. I don’t rub elbows with any of the famous authors, and I’m not on New York’s best seller list, and that’s okay.  I had to ask myself, why am I writing? Is it for publication? The money? Heh. Prestige? No. The reason I began writing in the first place was to get the voices in my head to shut up. Stories whirled around relentlessly, and the only relief I got was when I set them on paper. If I didn’t write, I think my head would explode. I realized it is all a process, a healing, and another form of learning who I am. I have attracted people who cheer me on and those who wish me ill. If anything, I will leave something for family and friends to remember me by.

Don’t forget;  you’re somebody’s hero.

Venita Louise is a published author and an accomplished singer. You can learn more about Venita and follow her magnetic sense of humor at www.venitalouise.net.

 

 

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