Writing

Time Flies When You Are Writing!

writers journey blog

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last posted on this blog.  Of course I haven’t been stagnant.  Life keeps moving, or as the phrase suggests…time flies when you’re having fun.  And I have been having fun. Both in my personal and professional life.

I’m still writing…

Slice of Orange Blog

…I’m now writing a monthly blog over at www.sliceoforange.net.   You can see my posts on the 12th of every month.  If you are interested you can sign up to receive the daily posts from a large group of authors.  Here’s my September post: http://www.asliceoforange.net/face-your-fear/

Writers conference southern california…I attended the SoCal Christian Writers Conference in June and met some wonderful people within the industry.  I also picked up new tips and information to help me on my journey, including some blogging lessons.

…I’ve taken two online classes over the past few months, both on editing and revisions, since that is what I am currently working on.  I’ve learned a lot and am now applying those lessons to my manuscript.

…I rewrote the entire beginning of my book.  I’ve learned so much since when I started that it was easier to rewrite it with new words and phrasing rather then continue to change what I had originally.

…I have a title for my first book that I’m completely happy with.  I had been going round and round with a handful of them, but one stuck out I really liked and after asking a few publishers and agents, I’ve decided it’s the one (I’ll have to reveal it in another post).

…I have met a wonderful new author friend who is now my critique partner and together we’ve exchanged a few scenes and gotten to know each other.  I’m really looking forward to working with her.  I’ll have to introduce her in a future post.

…I’ve been revising and editing my first book and adding words to book number two.  I can see my writing has improved tremendously, but it’s not quite where it needs to be.  So I keep working at it.

…I have a logo my middle son designed and created for me.  I need to finalize the last bit of detail before I put it on my website, but it’s been great working on it with him.  I’m super excited to share it with you.

Wow….I really haven’t been stagnant.  It feels good to write out what I’ve been doing.  I can see the progress.  Daily I don’t feel like I’ve done much because sometimes the progress is itty bitty, but all in all I can see the progression in my writing journey.

Looking ahead…

…I’m considering renaming this blog ‘my journal’ since that’s the style I have chosen to write in.  I guess an official “blog” post is more instructive and has a call to action.  Here I share my thoughts, feelings and encouragement as if I’m writing a diary entry. 

Do you like this approach?  I would love to hear your opinion.

…I hope to have revisions done by the end of the year for my first book.  The process is slow, but as I apply things from my new tool box, I can see it taking shape.

And My Family Keeps Me Busy…

With three teenage boys in my house, there is never a dull moment.  This year we have celebrated a high school graduation, an Eagle Scout, lead roles in musicals and plays, choir performances, track meets, dances, backpacking trips, college classes and lots of pizza movie nights (our weekly tradition) and so much more (including my 22nd Anniversary to my amazing hubby).  It seems daily I’m running somewhere, but I wouldn’t change any of it.  I love my family dearly and enjoy watching them get to do what they love and cheering them on.

So there’s the fun I’ve had while my time has flown by.  I encourage you to write out some of the things you’ve accomplished this year so far.  I bet it’s more than you think.

And hopefully I won’t take as long before I post something again.

Blessings,

Denise

Writing

Celebrating Progress

Denise M. Colby's Orange County Chapter of RWA Badge with Pins and Rose

It might be slow, but I’m making progress.

A great part of being involved in writing organizations are the opportunities to get your material in front of published authors, agents and publishers through contests. The feedback they provide are valuable and instructional.

My local chapter of RWA – the OCCRWA – hosts the Orange Rose Contest every year for unpublished authors. You send in the first 35 pages and a synopsis of your story.

The first time I entered was in 2015. I took all the feedback and made several changes and decided to enter again in 2016 to see if those changes made a difference.

First Place Certificate from Orange Rose Contest for Unpublished Writers
I Won!

What a shock to find out I won 1st place in the inspirational category!

I received this really pretty certificate and got to stand in front of my peers who all cheered me on.

Then a month later I found out that those who placed first receive an engraved award at our Annual Birthday Bash.

Here’s a picture of me Denise M. Colby receiving her awardgiddy with excitement after being presented with my award (yes I had to give a little speech).

OCCRWA Orange Rose Contest for Unpublished Writers' award

And then I found out,

my name was listed in the Romance Writers Report Magazine

Denise M. Colby's name in print for winning awardSeeing my name in print made it even more real.

I still feel as if I’m on cloud nine.

And, it gave me the confidence boost I needed to continue moving forward with my goal of publishing.

And what was the next step?  Turning Pro!

For an RWA member to turn Pro, you need to submit your complete manuscript to show proof of your work. In January of this year, I uploaded my document and held my breath. I received word they accepted it and voila! My status was updated to Pro.

What I didn’t know at the time – and I was jumping up and down when I found out – I would receive a rose from my Orange County Chapter for going Pro.

Denise M. Colby receiving her Rose for turning PRO with RWA
Receiving my rose

What’s the big deal about the rose?

Every month at our meetings, authors receive roses for selling books, novellas, and other stories. Each color rose means something – Red=Novel, Pink=Novella Length, Purple=Self-Published, Yellow=Non-Fiction, White=Articles, Peach=Turning Pro.

I’ve been watching everyone receive roses for a few years and couldn’t wait to receive one. I even purchased a vase a while back to hold my roses in. So when I found out I would be receiving one for going Pro, it was difficult to contain my excitement (just ask my husband!).

Not only that, I received a PRO pin to wear on my badge with pride AND I got my name printed in the RWA National Magazine on the PRO page.

It feels like all of this happened quickly, but I’ve been working up to this point for a while. It’s nice to be able to see progress in my work. I’ve included pics – I have to document it all – it helps encourage me when I have those days I don’t like my writing.

Now with these goals met – I have my eyes set on new ones for the rest of the year; Find a critique partner, edit Book #1 and finish writing Book #2.

As a writer, there is never an “I’ve arrived” moment in our career.

It’s not about the end result. It’s all about the journey!

Thank you for letting me share mine with you.

Blessings, Denise

Writing

So Long 2016, Hello 2017

Another year, another beginning.  I love to be able to reflect on the previous year and see all that occurred over the last 12 months.  Parts were bumpy and other parts inspiring.  In my writing I had many ups and dowsign with the words faith, dream, believe - words that encourage me on my writing journeyns, wondering if the fruit of all my labor would really be anything worthwhile.  When I chose the word BELIEVE for my word of the year in 2016, I had no idea how applicable it would be. 

I found the word everywhere.  At the gym.  In a quote on the wall at the doctors.  On a t-shirt.  On a charm holder which I had to buy and now holds my keys within my purse.  Every time I saw it, I was reminded of two things.  I believe in God and His Word.  To keep believing in my writing.

This was my second year to enter the Orange Rose Contest from my local chaptefirst place certificate for Denise M. Colby from Orange Rose Contest for unpublished authorsr of RWA.  The first year I received such valuable feedback that I wanted to enter again to see if the changes I made would be received any better.  I was so surprised when it was announced that I won 1st place in my category!  First place!  Me!  And it was then that my word took on a completely different meaning – someone else believed in my writing too. 

That gave me the shot in the arm I needed to keep editing, keep rewriting and moving to the next step. 

As 2016 turned into 2017, I had some new goals for the year.  Never thought I would accomplish them all in January, but I did. 

In the RWA world, turning PRO is one of the steps in getting closer to being a published author.  You have to upload your entire manuscript for proof of your writing and then they review it and approve it.  When I completed my first round of full edits, I sent it in and was so excited when I got the email telling me ‘it passed’.  I also decided to enter the national contest for unpublished authors – the Golden Heart.  Even if I do not final, actually sending it in was a huge milestone for me and already helps me push ahead for more this year.

I have a new word for 2017 and I will write about that in a different blog post.  But let’s just say I am super on fire for what can happen in 2017.  Stay tuned as I will hopefully have more news to share throughout the year.

Blessings, Denise

Writing

Taking Time to Reflect…

black and white photo of clock face showing time to represent it's important to take time to reflect

Sometimes I look at my manuscript and feel I have so much to learn still, so much to do, before my work is print worthy, and this awful feeling of hopelessness overcomes me.  What am I really doing?  Will I ever get it right?  And then I start telling myself other authors don’t run into this same problem, do they?  Maybe I’m not cut out for this.

And then I go to one of my writing groups and realize I’m not the only one to feel this way.  Writing is such a solitary experience, yet when you get together with other writers you share all the same questions, concerns, and thoughts.  I love the writing groups I’m a part of. In person and online, I’ve met so many wonderful people and have learned so much. When I think about the meetings, online classes, and notes I’ve taken over the last two years, it makes me realize how important it is to take time to reflect back from where I started and see just how far I’ve come.

I knew nothing of the writing world terminology, yet I now can have a conversation and understand most of the lingo, spouting off terms such as ms, dialogue tags and gmc. I know now, authors don’t get it perfect the first time, sometimes writing through three to four edits after the rough draft.

I’ve learned about understanding your characters more, figuring out what the hero/heroine goals, conflicts and motivations are. I can throw stuff at them to see how they will respond. I’ve seen a character take a life of their own and get themselves into a whole heap of trouble. And how fun it is to watch it evolve on the page.

I’ve learned how to set up my website, social media accounts and write my author profile.  I’ve figured out my author brand, audience and the genre I prefer to write.  I’ve read several new authors, expanding my knowledge both as a reader and a writer.

I’ve entered contests and learned what “on the nose” dialogue is, that passive voice does not mean the same thing as past tense, and to be really careful not to tell but show action and how hard it is to do. I’ve learned my initial writing is full of data dumps and I now can delete words without panicking. I’ve survived receiving constructive feedback and now know, it’s not the end of the world.

As I reflect back, I realize, even though I have so much still to learn, I have come so far and that is something to be really proud of.  It’s nice to know I have made many new friends who are rooting for me each step of the way. 

I am so thankful for these writing groups and all the wonderful writers who have opened their hearts and minds to share what they’ve learned to us newbies.  I look forward to someday being able to do the same in return.

Personal

God-Sized Dreams Are A Lot of Work!

Have you every realized the God-sized dreams are a lot of work?

I’ve got this great DaySpring calendar I’m using called “You’re Made for a God Sized Dream” by Holley Gerth.  Every day there are inspiring words to encourage me to pursue my God sized dream. 

That dream is being a writer/author. 

I’m not sure where it came from.  I always enjoyed creative writing when I was a kid and I love to read.  But somehow over the last few years, this nudging that has been going on, is telling me to do something. 

But it was really easy for me to find reasons not to pursue it – time, energy, cost, how hard it would be.

So with the blessing from my wonderful husband and family, I’m on this journey of following God’s nudge.  And this God-Sized Dream calendar fits in perfectly with that.  So some of the messages make me want to shout out my thoughts to the world that affect me so much.

Take for instance this one:

God-sized dreams are a lot of work.  It can seem because we have this grand vision that it will all just fall into place.  But that never happens.  Ever.  You have to be prepared to do the work.  Over and over again. 

And so I’m trying to do just that.  It’s encouraging when I just got a critique that made me feel like I would never “get it”.  That what I think is okay for my writing isn’t.  But then I read this and I realize that is what I am doing. 

I’m doing work and not giving up. 

Because now that I’ve started this journey, I don’t want to give up.

Which leads right into the next day’s message:

In order to get a lot out of a God-sized dream, you’ll have to put a lot into it. 

Here’s to putting all I have into this dream.  God, it’s all in your hands.

Blessings,

Denise