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Don’t Despise Small Beginnings

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Don’t despise small beginnings,” said a woman named Mildred in a recent meeting I attended. Mildred’s words resonated with me. In fact, they stuck with me for several weeks. The reason being, as I’m pursuing what I believe to be my God-given purpose of writing fiction, my beginnings appear to be quite small.

You see, while my writing goals are huge, being a multi-published, best-selling author, I’ve barely scratched the surface. When I look back to when I started writing my first manuscript in 2010, I had no idea where or how far this path would take me. In fact, I didn’t know it was a path at all.

I had an idea — I believed a great story idea! And I felt compelled to write it. When I finished, I went through the editing process. Then I began pursuing traditional publication. That’s when the wheels slowed down. No, actually the wheels came to a screeching halt! I sent out numerous query letters, but the responses came back, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Discouraged, but not defeated, I began trying to figure out why my queries didn’t generate the interest I thought they should. At the same time, I started writing my second manuscript.

I was also president of the Dallas Area Writers Group (DAWG). We held a short story contest during the summer of 2017. I decided to write a story to enter into the contest as a challenge to myself to see if I could win.

Well, I didn’t win, but my story did well in the ranking. Because we had several new writers to enter the contest, I recommended publishing an anthology of the best short stories to the DAWG board of directors, as this would give the writers publishing credit.

The board agreed and in October 2018, we published our first anthology of short stories, Texas Shorts, Volume I. My short story, “The Top Hat and the Feather Boa” is included in the anthology. This is my first published work.

small beginnings2While this is a major milestone, it seems small in comparison to my ultimate goal of being a published novelist. And as a result, I’ve found myself struggling with being truly proud of this accomplishment.

Earlier this week during my morning devotion, “Don’t despise small beginnings,” entered my thoughts again, and I wondered about the origin of the phrase. When I Googled it, I found it’s from the Bible, Zechariah 4:10Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin…”

After reading that passage of scripture, I had a renewed sense of accomplishment, knowing that God is pleased with my small beginnings. He’s pleased because I have begun the work. It reminded me that God has the perfect timing for everything I will accomplish in my writing life. And even with the setbacks and disappointments — and my small beginnings — all of it is preparation for the “great” things He has planned for me.

So rather than feeling as though I haven’t accomplished anything significant, my new attitude is one of thankfulness for what God has allowed me to accomplish. And I rejoice in the knowledge that a foundation and a platform are being created for me which I cannot create for myself. My job is simply to continue on the path placed before me, continue to do the work, and continue to be grateful for every success — great and small — because each is part of God’s perfect plan.

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Fierce Women Who Happen to be Authors – A Conversation with Sue Latham

Just in time for Halloween, I’d like to introduce to you the fourth author in my Fierce Women series Fierce Woman Paranormal author Sue Latham. Sue is the author of two novels The Haunted House Symphony and The Science Professor’s Ghost. In our conversation, Sue talks about the ghosts in her stories and ghosts in real life. She shares an interesting story of paranormal activities she observed on a particular ghost hunting expedition with her Ghost Hunting Group.

fierce-women Sue also talks about her experience as a writer and shares great writing advice for aspiring writers perfectly timed for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

Sue has traveled extensively. And in Europe, she walked in the footsteps of Beethoven, Mozart, Einstein and Van Gogh and was once blessed by the Pope.

Join me for a “spooky” yet fascinating conversation with Sue Latham!

Sue’s books can be found on Amazon.com.

The song featured in this post is called “Neo Soul Day” by Texas Radio Fish.

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Fierce Women Who Happen to Be Authors – A Conversation with Author Arianne “Tex” Thompson

In today’s segment of Fierce Women Who Happen to Be Authors, I’m talking with multi-talented, multifaceted author Arianne “Tex” Thompson. A home-grown success story, Tex is the author of Children of the Drought, an internationally published epic fantasy Western series. Tex talks candidly about her writing journey, her successes and some of the unexpected pitfalls of writing and publishing. I have to tell you, I had a blast talking with Tex! Join us now for a fun and engaging conversation!

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Tex’s novels One Night in Sixes, Medicine for the Dead, and Dreams of the Eaten can be found on Amazon.com.

The song featured in this post is called “Neo Soul Day” by Texas Radio Fish.

Dr. Kat Smith

Fierce Women Who Happen to be Authors – A Conversation with Dr. Kat Smith

“Fierce Women Who Happen to be Authors” is my new audio series. In this series I’m chatting with Fierce Woman – female authors who are successful in their careers, who’ve overcome adversity or personal challenges, and who are making a difference in the lives of other people.

In my conversation with Dr. Kat Smith, an Intimalogist or Intimacy Expert, she shares from her vast knowledge on the topics of intimacy and love and how those important aspects of our lives are impacted by gender, social media, cultural norms, and other factors. We also talk about her career, her writing, and a few life lessons.

Listen to our conversation.

Fierce Women


Dr. Kat
can be found online at: https://drkatsmith.com./ Get her latest book, The ABCs of Intimacy at Amazon.com.

So what are your thoughts on love and intimacy? Drop me a line and let me know what you think.

Fierce Women
Dr. Kat and Me

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Catherine

The song featured in this post is called “Imagine Me” by Kirk Franklin.

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Jealousy – How to Deal with the Green-Eyed Monster

Oh, beware, my lord, of jealousy!
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.

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In Shakespeare’s Othello, the character Iago warns Othello to beware of jealousy, as he says it’s the green-eyed monster that makes fun of the victims it devours.

Where does jealousy come from?

I believe it’s easy to get distracted from what’s really important in your journey when things aren’t going quite the way you want them to, or when it’s taking success a lot longer to show up than you expected her to.

It’s easy to start looking around at what other people are doing, primarily successful people, and you become dismayed or even jealous of them.

How does jealousy get started and how does it take root?

It might start with questioning another’s success. You ask, how did that person get so far in his career? Or, you may start to question whether he is really all that good.

And you might start to speculate whether the person would be where she is if she wasn’t as well-connected.

You might say these are just questions. You might call them simple musings. But the truth is these are examples of how envy and jealousy reveal themselves.

This is how they take root in our psyche. I know this to be true because I’ve experienced it personally in my writing journey.

So be vigilant, and be on your guard. Because if you haven’t yet experienced jealousy of someone else’s success, it doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen.

Jealousy is as old as time.

Jealousy’s evil twin envy is considered one of the seven deadly sins, and it’s as old as the beginning of time. It is said to be the motivation behind Cain murdering his brother, Abel.

Cain became jealous of Abel because God favored Abel’s sacrifice over Cain’s.

And since there’s nothing new under the sun, it should come as no surprise that jealousy is still raising her head today trying to side track you from fulfilling your God-given purpose.

What I know to be true:

• When you’re busy looking at what someone else is doing, you take your eyes off your own goals and desires.

• When you’re busy focusing on your own goals, you don’t have time to be envious of anyone else’s success.

• It’s easy to think that because someone is successful they have it all together or that somehow their path has been less difficult.

The truth is, that person’s life may be falling apart all around them. And their journey might have been more difficult than yours, but their time for success has finally arrived, and that’s all you see.

How to stop jealousy in her tracks!

• Be confident in your own gifts and talents. However if you know you have a weakness in an area that’s hampering your success, read a book or take a course to improve in that area.

• Know that you don’t have to be jealous or envious of anyone because what is destined for you no one can take away.

• Count your blessings. When you’re looking at someone else’s success you’re counting their blessings. When you count your own it refocuses you on what’s really important in your life.

• Celebrate other’s success. When it’s your turn to celebrate your success, you’ll want others to rally around you.

• And if you can learn from another’s success, do so. It may prove to be a short cut to your own success.

So have you experienced jealousy when you’ve looked at the success of another? What was your strategy for dealing with it? Drop me a line.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Catherine

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Traditional Publishing – Staying the Course When You Want to Throw in The Towel

Have you ever experienced a situation when you felt as though you were completely out of your league, or the scales were somehow unbalanced — and not in your favor?

I was sitting at my computer the other day scrolling through literary agency websites deciding which ones I would query for traditional publishing. As I looked at the faces of the agents and the client lists of those agencies, I was suddenly filled with an overwhelming sense of doom and gloom, and utter defeat. I felt like throwing in the towel.

You see, none of the literary agents I considered querying looked like me. Correction, one of them looked like me. The others looked to be in their early twenties or thirties, most of them female, and all but one of them Caucasian. Undoubtedly, there could be other minority literary agents out there, I just haven’t run across them yet. And I’ve queried close to 60 or 70 by now.

So I asked myself, how in the world will either of these young people who don’t look like me identify with my story? Sigh!

Well, I stepped away from my computer to clear my head and get a glass of iced tea. After I had a moment to think, I came back with a new resolve. I reminded myself that there were a few facts that I must keep in mind in order to be successful in any given vocation and particularly in traditional publishing. I resolved these three things. And this may be helpful to you as well.

1. Deal With It.

This is the reality of the publishing industry, so deal with it. If I want to be a traditionally published author, I have to put on my big girl panties and stay in the fight. Maya Angelou once said, “If you can’t change a situation, change your attitude.”

2. Write Good Stories.

If I write good stories, they will appeal to the right agent at the right time regardless of age, race, gender, or ethnicity. Good stories transcend everything.

3. Don’t Worry.

Our fate and our future are in the hands of the Father above. He controls everything, including time. And He works through people. He knows how to make the right connections at the right time.

So, I decided not to be discouraged but to persevere in doing what is necessary to appeal to literary agents i.e., write the best stories I can in my genre, edit to near-perfection, be as professional as I can be in the pursuit of publishing, and not worry about factors beyond my control.

What about you? Have you encountered situations in your writing career when you wanted to throw in the towel? What did you do?

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Catherine

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5 Success Strategies to Implement While You Wait for the Fifth Season

You knew there were four seasons — Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. But did you know there was a fifth season?

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It’s called Due Season. Due Season is that nebulous period of time when you’re waiting for something of great importance to happen, and it seems like it never will.

Due season is not on the calendar. But it can last longer than any Texas Summer and be harsher than most New York winters. The waiting period for Due Season can be frustrating and challenging because she has no regard for your timeline or mine.

I think if you ask most people, they will tell you they are waiting for Due Season to bring them something.

So, what are you waiting for Due Season to bring you? A completed novel? Publication? A promotion? Marriage? Restoration of your marriage? A baby? Healing?

How do you handle the waiting? Suffer in silence? Gripe and complain? Do you give up altogether on your hope or your dream?

I certainly hope you don’t give up because Due Season doesn’t last forever. It just seems like it.

Below I’ve identified 5 success strategies to help you maintain your sanity and peace of mind while you wait.

1. Be patient. I know, easier said than done, right? Being patient while you’re waiting for Due Season is not easy. But what you must understand is that she doesn’t operate on your timeline, she’s on God’s timeline.

And you want Him to work everything for your good, so give Him the time He needs to do it. If you don’t have patience, pray for it. He’ll give you that too!

2. Perfect a current project. While you’re waiting for Due Season to bring a situation or project to fruition, perfect the project you’re currently working on.

If it’s relational, the project might be you. Are you the best “You” you can be? If you’re not sure, ask the Father to reveal areas where you could improve. Now, don’t be shocked when He does!

3. Learn something new. What can you do to take your writing, business, education or even spirituality to the next level? Use this waiting period to learn something new.

Take a class, attend a workshop, or a spiritual growth seminar.

How about a DIY project around the house? If you’re busy doing something interesting or fun, it will take your mind off Due Season.

4. Start your next project. If you’ve completed a manuscript or a memoire and you’re waiting for publication, start on your next writing project. The more completed writing projects you have, the more valuable you will be as a client.

If you’ve completed a big project at work, move on to the next thing. Don’t rest on your laurels. You never know who’s watching, and you always want to be seen in the best possible light.

5. Be open to new opportunities.
While you wait for Due Season to end, be open to new opportunities. New opportunities can bring growth and lead you to unexpected places. New opportunities can be fulfilling and bring great joy.

Even if you’re scared, push beyond the fear and take a risk. Great risks bring great rewards. You never know, that very opportunity may be the key that opens the door to complete your Due Season.

How about you? What are you waiting for Due Season to bring? What is your best strategy for waiting? Drop me a line, I’d love to hear from you!

Blessings,

Catherine

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How “The Dream Giver” Inspired My Writing Journey

the-dream-giver-writing-journeyThe Dream Giver” is a parable by the great pastor and theologian, Bruce Wilkinson. Mr. Wilkinson is also the New York Times Bestselling author of “The Prayer of Jabez.”

In “The Dream Giver,” the main character is a Nobody named Ordinary. Ordinary becomes bored with his life in the Land of Familiar.

Ordinary realized something was missing in his life, and the feeling continued to grow. One day a Big Dream began to resonate in Ordinary’s heart, and he found a long white feather and concluded it must have been left by the Dream Giver.

Even though Ordinary was excited about his Big Dream, he was embarrassed to tell anyone, even his best friend, for fear he’d be laughed at because of the size of his dream. You see, he thought it would seem too big for a Nobody like him.

But Ordinary began to pursue his Big Dream, and in doing so he had to leave the Land of Familiar and all of the Nobodies who lived there.

Once Ordinary left Familiar, he was met with a number of challenges, including Border Bullies who tried to discourage and intimidate him into giving up his Big Dream. Some of the Border Bullies were family members!

Ordinary entered the WasteLand, and the challenges he faced made him begin to doubt that he could ever accomplish his Big Dream. He also met Giants that he had to fight to get to the Land of Promise.

As a relatively new fiction writer, I can identify so closely with Ordinary. Being a small-town girl, from a family with no wealth or prominence, I’ve often felt that I was “ordinary.”

When God gave me my Big Dream of becoming a fiction writer, like Ordinary I was excited! But also like Ordinary I was fearful because achieving my Big Dream of becoming a published author sometimes seems TOO BIG!

My writing journey parallels so closely with Ordinary’s. After working in the federal government for 33 years, I was comfortable in the “Land of Familiar.”

Stepping into the world of writing fiction required entering the BorderLand, unfamiliar territory, i.e., learning how to write creatively, learning about marketing and social media, creating a blog, learning about the publishing industry, and seeking publication. At times, the BorderLand has been both challenging and exhausting.

Passing through Borderland, I entered the WasteLand. There I often felt discouraged and disappointed, wondering why I’ve had to go through such challenging times, and wondering if my efforts have been in vain.

But as I look at Ordinary’s journey I can see that my efforts have not wasted at all, rather I’m being equipped, developed and prepared to enter the Land of Promise to attain my Big Dream.

Like Ordinary, facing the Giants has been my toughest challenge. My Giants…literary agents. In order to become published by a traditional publishing house you must have a literary agent representing you.

I’ve had no success attracting a literary agent through the querying process thus far and limited success with face-to-face pitching.

But like Ordinary, I know that I cannot reach the Land of Promise until I slay the Giants. So, I will use the principles found in “The Dream Giver” that Ordinary used as encouragement and motivation to reach the Land of Promise, that of published author!

And I will maintain the confidence that if the Dream Giver has given me a Big Dream, He is faithful to allow me to achieve it as He did with Ordinary.

PS – Drop me a line and let me know about your Big Dream and what challenged you the most in attaining it.

Thanks!

Catherine

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On Writing: Man Your Own Battleship

When I started writing my first manuscript in September 2010, I had no idea what I was getting into. I didn’t know the type of battle I was in for. I had a wonderful story idea so I started writing, and writing, and writing, until it was finished two years later. Then I was faced with the BIG question: What do I do next?

That was when I first realized I was on my own, and I had to take ownership of my writing journey which I’m dubbing “my battleship.”
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When I embarked on my journey, uh, climbed aboard my battleship, I didn’t think it would require so much work. I didn’t think it would be easy either. The fact of the matter is, I really didn’t give it a whole lot of thought one way or the other. I just wrote and surmised I’d figure things out as I went along.

Well, I learned pretty quickly that in order to be successful in the wonderfully fascinating world of writing fiction, just like going into battle, you must have a strategy to be successful. Initially, I didn’t have a strategy. So I had to prepare and equip myself for battle along the way. As I ventured forward, my battle plan emerged. Below is what my strategy eventually looked like:

1) Identify the Enemy

“We have met the enemy and he is us.” – Pogo

It didn’t take long for me to realize that the enemy I was facing was me: my lack of knowledge about writing creatively, my lack of knowledge about publication, my lack of knowledge regarding social media, overcoming the feeling of inadequacy, and learning how to deal with rejection.

These are the main challenges I faced as a new writer. Either one of them could have crippled me and forced me wave the white flag of surrender. But I was determined. I’d accomplished one important feat, completing a manuscript. That gave me the courage to press forward in battle.

2) Choose the Right Weapons

According to my battle plan I needed to equip myself. So the question was, what weapons do I need to face the enemy? My first step after finishing my manuscript was to Google for what to do next. Several responses suggested finding a local writers’ group. Which is what I did.

By joining the Dallas Area Writer Group (DAWG), I was able to hear published authors and literary agents give excellent guidance on writing dialogue, scene-building, creating believable 3-dimensional characters, plot development, creating conflict, and so much more.

I received recommendations on the top writing books to read. I also learned about writing conferences which provide additional learning opportunities on craft, as well as, how to get a literary agent and how to get published.

Another valuable service DAWG offered is holding critique sessions. In the critique sessions, writers are given an opportunity to read a portion their work and the panel provides constructive feedback within a positive framework. The feedback I received was helpful by letting me know what I was doing right and what I was doing wrong.

And last but certainly not least, I found a professional editor through my writers group.

3) Engage in Battle (Face, Fight and Conquer)

Once I had my manuscript professionally edited, I felt ready to find a literary agent to represent me in the traditional publishing process. This has been the toughest battle yet!

I did the research on how to write a query letter and synopsis, and I crafted those to the best of my ability to meet the specification of each literary agency.

Then, I started querying. Just as fast as I could send out one query letter, I’d received a rejection letter back with matching speed. That’s when anxiety set in, and I started to doubt myself and my abilities as a writer.

It helped to know that even great writers received rejection letters initially. Here are a few examples:

• After 5 years of continual rejection, Agatha Christie finally landed a publishing deal. Her book sales are now in excess of $2 billion. Only William Shakespeare has sold more.

• John Grisham’s A Time to Kill was rejected by 16 agencies and then 12 publishers.

Carrie by Stephen King was rejected 30 times before it was published.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was rejected 12 times and J. K. Rowling was told “not to quit her day job.”

So, hope springs eternal!

Next, I started attending writing conferences and began pitching my story to literary agents face-to-face. This process is very unnerving because you only have 10 to 12 minutes to sell your story idea to a literary agent.

During the pitch, you have to succinctly convey your story in a way that will intrigue the agent enough to want to see more in the form of sample chapters or if you’re really successful, the entire manuscript. Boom! You’ve won the battle — but not the war!

4) Achieve Victory!

Victory is not achieved in the world of traditional publishing until you sign a contract (book deal) and your work is published. I have not achieved victory yet, but I persevere!

Publication can be accomplished through self-publishing or traditional publishing. I have not attempted to self-publish my manuscript. I’m still pursuing the traditional route, which as you can see can be a real tough battle.

The choice is yours to make. Either path you take will require time, effort, determination, and learning. So, suit up, choose your weapons, and man your battleship!

PS – Drop me a line and let me know what you are doing to man your battleship.

Thanks!

Catherine