Is it Discipline or Discouragement?

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When used correctly, crates and exercise pens are very handy tools for dog training. Like a child’s playpen, they can be overused, or used for the wrong reasons, but they are invaluable when it comes to having a safe place to contain a puppy and avoid the havoc he could wreak when left untended.

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Yes, he’d rather be outside romping with the children, tromping unfettered through the gardens, or chasing birds through the meadow and scampering down the driveway to the road, but for his safety and my sanity he can’t be allowed that kind of freedom.

As wistful as he may look in these photos, he doesn’t spend all of his confinement grumbling about it.

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He snoozes, plays, and observes what’s going on — and dances with anticipation when one of us approaches with his leash. That means there’s a training time coming, complete with praise and snacks, and followed by a walk with opportunities for lots of exploration. It’s all part of the discipline associated with a puppy’s education (and in the early stages, of housebreaking).

I was writing a short story the afternoon I stopped to take these inside photos of our new puppy. When I later reviewed one of the shots, his expression seemed like one of reprimand. “How come you won’t take me outside if you’re not really working?”

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Why was I so easily distracted? Was it lack of discipline or something else? I have to admit it was more a matter of discouragement. I have three pieces to write this summer, each with a deadline. The one with the closest deadline is for a contest I enter every year, and it’s giving me the most trouble.

I’ve had a breakthrough, though. I recalled the definition of insanity attributed to Albert Einstein — that it’s doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. While my early entries in this particular contest were shortlisted a few times, they never won, and more recently they haven’t caught anyone’s attention. The same two people have been judging the fiction category every year for more than a decade, and I’ve realized that if they haven’t rewarded my writing before, it’s probably ‘insane’ to think they ever will. The contest is sponsored by a very reputable group and there’s great prize money, but no feedback is provided, no critique. You either win, or you don’t. I don’t, and I’ve finally concluded I’m wasting my time, energy and entry fees!

The revelation is freeing. I finished a different article and submitted it today, well ahead of when I’d planned. The remaining one is drafted and I have a month to work on its edits. I have time to go romp with the dog! Woo hoo! So much for my self-discipline. 🙂

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How do you view writing contests? Do you enter many? Have you ever won?

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Book Giveaway and Author Interview: Jody Hedlund

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I’m in two places at once today. You’ll also find me posting about sources of power on The Pastor’s Wife Speaks blog. After enjoying today’s interview with Jody Hedlund (and leaving a comment to be eligible for a free copy of her new book) perhaps you’ll click over and join me there.

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Jody Hedlund

I’m honoured to welcome author Jody Hedlund to my blog. I’ve been sold on Jody’s writing since before she published her first book. Her blog caught my attention back somewhere in mid-2009 as she shared her writing journey with great transparency and wisdom. Her faith also shone through each post, and I remember thinking that she was destined to have a ministry through her words.

Her debut novel, The Preacher’s Bride, was published last year by Bethany House, and her second book, The Doctor’s Lady, has just been released.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Preacher’s Bride, so was surprised to discover I liked The Doctor’s Lady much more. Its writing is tighter, the story line is smoother, credible conflict immediately captures attention and builds throughout.  It’s quite an adventure! Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop, and believe me, that isn’t usual for me with an inspy historical romance.

The blurb about The Doctor’s Lady says, “Priscilla White knew God wanted her to be a missionary, not a wife. Then, the missionary board declares the only way she can serve is to be married. Now, married in name only [to Dr. Eli Ernest], her epic journey west will test her spirit… and the new longings of her heart.”

INTERVIEW

Jody, what was the inspiration behind The Doctor’s Lady?  

This book is inspired by the true life story of Narcissa Whitman, the first white woman to brave the dangers of overland trail and travel west. In 1836, she married Dr. Whitman, and then the next day left her childhood home and would never return for the purpose of starting a mission among the Nez Perce natives.

It was my hope in this story to bring Narcissa Whitman to life. This heroic woman has often been ignored and at times even disparaged. In reality, she exuded incredible courage to attempt a trip many proclaimed foolishly dangerous. It was called an “unheard-of-journey for females.” Because of her willingness to brave the unknown, she led the way for the many women who would follow in her footsteps in what would later become known as the Oregon Trail.

What message do you hope readers take away from TDL?

I hope readers are inspired to try new things and brave dangerous prospects in the pursuit of their dreams. When we go after the things that matter, we’ll have to take risks and we’ll experience setbacks and obstacles. But if we persevere, we can reach our destination and do great things along the way.

I know you’re busy working on another book. What’s coming next? 

In 2012, my next historical romance releases. I’m really excited about this story because it’s set in my home state of Michigan. It takes place during the 1880’s at a time in history when the lumber era was at its height. The heroine of the story is a young woman, Lily Young, who is looking for her sister who’s caught up into the degradation of lumber camp life. While Lily searches for her missing sister, she fights against the evil that runs rampant around her, and she fights not to lose her heart to the lumber baron who turns a blind eye to the lawlessness of the lumber business.

People always seem curious about the life of a writer, so I have to ask, what do you like most (and least) about writing and being a published author?

As a writer, I love telling stories. I especially like the feeling that comes as I near the end of the book when everything looks hopeless, the characters are in big trouble, and somehow I’m able to wrap up the book in a satisfying way. I call it the first-draft love affair! I fall absolutely and madly in love with the story and think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.

As a published author, I love hearing from readers. I’m always thrilled to get emails or hand-written notes from readers telling me how much my story touched them.

I struggle the most during the editing phase of each of my books. The love affair that started during the first draft comes to an end. I fall out of love with my books. By the last edit—called the Galley Review—I finally reach a point where I loathe the book, think it’s the worst thing I’ve ever written, and wish I could just throw it away. During the Galley stage, I’m fraught with insecurity and fear. My agent did a great job of talking me off the cliff during my fears with The Doctor’s Lady. She encouraged and inspired me to keep going no matter what happens.

Now for a more personal question… one that our family always seems to toss around during summer picnics and BBQ’s: “If you knew you were going to be stranded on a deserted island for a month and could only take multiples of one meal with you, what would it be?” Our children always choose something very different from the adults. What would you take? 

If I were going to be completely honest, I’d have to say I’d bring nachos–the kind piled high with cheese, taco meat, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, lettuce, and tomato.

However, my motherly responsible answer would be to say that I’d bring a big taco salad–with lots of lettuce, tomato, taco meat, cheese, and chips. I think this would be a bit healthier than the nachos, and of course it would be one that included most of the food groups.

Could I sneak in a pan of gooey brownies too? =)

Of course! I think all writers depend upon chocolate to fuel their inspiration, don’t they? I like your food choice; nachos with cheese is my absolutely favourite snack!

Many of my readers are aspiring authors. Do you have any advice to share? 

Write a couple of books first and unleash your creativity. Then start reading books that explain how to write. Study techniques, practice them, and keep writing. When you begin reaching a level in your writing where you think you’re ready to start querying, get a critique partner to read your work, vamp up your online presence, and immerse yourself in the writing industry.

Thanks, Jody. I’ve loved having you here today. If readers would like to connect more with you, where can they find you? 

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GIVEAWAY!

I received a copy of The Doctor’s Lady from the publisher to review for this post, and I’m going to give it away to one lucky reader who leaves a comment here between now and midnight next Tuesday — that’s 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, September 21. Be sure to leave your e-mail when prompted so you can be reached. I’ll announce the winner Wednesday morning. The draw is limited to addresses in Canada and the USA.

UPDATE!

The draw has been done (see here) and Susan J. Reinhardt is the winner. Congratulations, Susan!

(The Doctor’s Lady can also be purchased at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Borders, and ChristianBook.com, as well as at most of your local bookstores.)

CONTEST!

Jody has an incredible contest running on her website. The Be a Trailblazer Contest has a pioneer prize package valued at $300! The contest is limited to residents of the USA, age 18 and older, but visit her contest page for all the details.

AUTHOR BIO

Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling book, The Preacher’s Bride. She is represented by Rachelle Gardner of the WordServe Literary Group. Jody received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children. Her second book, The Doctor’s Lady, was released earlier this month by Bethany House Publishers.

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“Witchdoctor” Winner!

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The winner of a copy of OUR WITCHDOCTORS ARE TOO WEAK is Carol Ann Hoel. It took two tries with the random number generator because the first try resulted in someone who already has a copy. I see by your comment, Carol Ann, that you’ve been thinking of buying it, so now you won’t have to. I’m sure you’re going to enjoy it.  🙂

Congratulations, Carol Ann. Please e-mail me at caroljgarvin [at] gmail [dot] com with your snail mail address so I can send it to you.

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Giveaway Winner!

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It’s Friday and as promised I’m announcing the winner of Wednesday’s writing book giveaway.

The note stuck to my monitor is proof of my intent to select the last person to comment before the midnight deadline. So, Sandra Heska King, you’re the winner of the book of your choice from the five listed in Wednesday’s post. Congratulations! Please e-mail me with the title of the one you’d like and provide a mailing address: caroljgarvin [at] gmail [dot] com.

New beginnings… or, please not another revision!

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Bridal Wreath Spirea in bud

Now that spring is officially underway, I think most of us are wishing for signs that winter is giving in and retreating. We all realize that where we live has a bearing on how soon we can expect to see buds bursting, but we’re more than ready for the return of springtime with its cycle of new beginnings. Then again, there are some beginnings I’d rather avoid.

Monday’s post was about a blogfest where we were to offer up the start of our novel for a critique that focused on showing voice. We posted the first 250 words and waited for our fellow bloggers to tear into them and pass judgment on the quality of the opening and its voice.

Brenda Drake is hosting this “Show Me the Voice” blogfest-cum-contest, and her instructions were to post it for critiques, then polish the excerpt until it shines, and submit it to be judged.

Have you any idea how many times I’ve revised that novel? I’d challenge you to throw out a number, but in truth I don’t think I remember exactly how many. Nevertheless, I tweaked those 250 words and, of course, found myself reading on to the end of the chapter. And, just like every other time I looked at it, I could see more possible changes. Oh, please… not another revision!

I’ve asked the question before, but still, there is that niggling uncertainty. When do you know it’s time to stop revising a manuscript?

I have a different novel in revision, and another new one in the works. I don’t want to begin revising this one again. In fact, I’ve sent the excerpt to Brenda, and I’m closing the file. I just can’t face it. So, unless someone can convince me otherwise, I’m off to work on my new story. ‘Bye now!

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