Word of the Year

Finding Strength

Life is hard, crazy and stressful and in those moments when we search for answers, sometimes God connects things in a way that makes me stop in awe.

The last two years I have chosen a word to focus on.  Hope was my first word in 2015 and Believe was my word in 2016. 

For this year I have chosen – STRENGTH – and in searching up verses I am amazed to see how many fit where I am.

In my walk with God.  My daily struggles of life.  My writing career.  Everything.

Philippians 4:13 is all about strength in the Lord

I know I need strength as I begin showing my work to agents, publishers, critique partners, you name it. 

I need to be able to take criticism and suggestions and have strength to really hear the recommendations to make me a better writer.  I also want to lean on God’s strength in all aspects of my life.  As I get older, I realize that I can’t do life without him.

There are so many I want to highlight so for me to pick just one is really challenging.  So throughout the year, I will share different ones on my Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Here’s one though, I want to share:

Psalm 119:28 My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.

I love this last one personally.  Many days I feel weary dealing with everyday life.  And I know I’m not alone. I hope that these verses can offer you some comfort as they do to me.

So now that I firmly have my word set for the year, I look forward to seeing how God will use this word to encourage me, bolster me, show me things. 

And He will.  Not even a week after I selected STRENGTH, imagine my surprise when my Bible Study book I ordered – Priscella Shearer’s Gideon – came in and the cover had these words: your weakness. Gods strength. Oh how God knows things before we do.  The fact that I’ll be spending six weeks studying God’s strength?  I’m so excited.

I would encourage you to consider selecting a word to focus on.  Write down 3 or 4 that pop in your mind and then look up verses to them.  As you ponder each one, God will let you know what the right one would be.  And I hope that it gives you infinite encouragement in all aspects of your life, just as mine have done for me.

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

When It All Clicks

laptop keyboard represents the writing and editing process

Being new at all this writing stuff, I admit I had no idea what I was doing when I started my book, so I wrote individual scenes mostly, almost as if they were mini individual stories.  Some scenes connected into others, while others were an idea I wasn’t too sure about, but wrote anyway to try different dialogue, character arcs or action sequences.

I think I was afraid of defining how my characters would act since I didn’t know what I wanted them to do yet. I found creating characters a scary responsibility, but I will dig into that part of my writing journey in another post.  All in all, let’s just say, with my first draft complete, I know my characters more and what they are doing.

And so, with my first draft complete, I’m on to a completely new skill called editing.

This is when I read the mumble, jumble of what I originally wrote and remove unnecessary words and find better words to communicate the story.  It also means I now need to connect all those individual scenes to tell a cohesive tale, turning it into something someone else would want to read.

Some of it is challenging as I have to really figure out particulars.  However, the parts us writers constantly search for is when it all clicks together.  When everything falls into place and connects scenes in a way the scenes wouldn’t mean anything on their own.

And I’m finding this part to be a lot of fun.  It seems when the details fall into place, when everything clicks, it becomes a real story.

So now, I write for those aha moments, no matter how much work it is.  Doesn’t mean it’s easy.  I still have to make myself stay seated in the chair at times with my fingers on the keyboard to work through it.  Sometimes I’m a pushover to get up and find something else to do because I’m not sure what to write next.

All in all, I’m thankful for these moments when I’m able to connect the dots and the writing clicks.  It’s one more step in my journey, helping me get another step closer to my goal of publishing my book.

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.

Word of the Year

What Word Represents 2016?

What WORD would you choose to represent this year?

Over the last several years I’ve read articles about people selecting a specific word or phrase that represents the year for them. It could be an area to focus on or something God has put on their heart to study and live out daily throughout the year.

Last year was the first year I selected a word and after several days of listing out different words, I selected the word Hope.

It summarized for me where I was in my life – both writing and personal. I had hope for my writing and where it was leading me, that I wanted to write about hope to offer hope to others, hope for how God would provide for my family, hope for the future and so much more.

Several times throughout the year I found myself leaning on that word knowing God wanted me to never lose Hope, making sure it was in the words I wrote and in my actions.  It really did sum up my year when I reflect back. 

So this year I was excited to see what new word would fit me and my life.  I prayed about it and wrote down several words that I felt my heart leaning towards, but one kept coming up more than the others, so…

for 2016 I selected…..

BELIEVE

First and foremost I need to BELIEVE in God, believe he will meet my needs, and so on.  I also need to believe I can become a published author, believe I have something worthy to say, believe in this journey God is taking me on, believe in my family and their support, and so much more.

I looked up the word Believe in the bible and there are too many verses to count with the word believe in it, but as I read different ones it became even more clear that this was the right word for me this year.  So many of them spoke to me, specifically: 

Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”  Mark 5:36

“If you can’t?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”  Mark 9:23

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!  Luke 1:45

Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.  John 7:38

I know without a doubt that this is the word for me this year. The year I’m going to believe in myself to show my work to agents, editors and hopefully become a published author.

I just need to believe

I encourage you to take some time to reflect and pray about a word for you for 2016. When we take time to listen to what God wants for us it is amazing how he can encourage and strengthen us in our journey through his Word. 

Let me know what word or words you choose for your focus word this year. 

Blessings to you throughout 2016. 

Denise

Personal

When Obstacles Hold You Back

image of a stop sign to represent obstacles stopping you from what you want to do Blog Post by Denise M. Colby
Don’t let obstacles stop you from doing what you were meant to do

There are always obstacles that seem to get in the way of what our real intentions are.  Interruptions such as phone calls, a computer that keeps freezing, kids who must find something right now or else,  or the dog who barks at you because he wants to go out again for the 12th time.

Sometimes while I’m driving across town, I hit every red light sequence making myself even later than before.  It’s at that moment, I feel God is trying to get my attention – that it’s time to slow down.

Of course I don’t realize it until I feel like I want to scream.

Whatever it is, obstacles can take a day that looks promising and make it very frustrating, so we have to find a way to refocus and get back on track so we don’t lose the entire day.

Anything can distract us – like the phone that’s now ringing (I’m laughing as the phone keeps ringing while I’m writing this).  So what if we took those distractions and saw them as God’s way of rerouting us?

That’s when I can take a step back and see that some obstacles are a blessing in disguise. 

A chance to evaluate what’s most important to spend my time on.  An interruption that makes you pause and refocus, especially when you have less time and you need to pick the one thing that needs to get done first.

I can feel it even now.  I’ve had this idea for this blog topic all day and due to a variety of things, it’s now 5pm and I’m finally writing it.  But I didn’t want to not do it.  So many times I have an idea and I don’t go for it and then later I can’t remember what it was I wanted to write down. In a way, the frustration forced me to say if there is one thing I do before I start dinner, what is it?

So when you feel obstacles getting the best of you – do not give up. 

Walk away and focus on something else for a bit. 

Write a list of what’s on your mind. 

Go drink a glass of water. 

Whatever it is, you need some sort of momentum and progress in order to help overcome the moment. 

Don’t stop.  Keep pushing forward.  Don’t give up!  Even 15 minutes on task is 15 minutes more than before.  And the determination that comes from refocusing can help you gain greater progress.

Take a deep breath, say a prayer and ask God to help you. That’s what I did and I really think this message is more from him than me because of it.

Blessings,

Denise

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

Personal

Journey with me…..Faith, Hope and Love

Welcome to my author blog.  I’m so excited about this journey God has taken me on.  I’m also very nervous and unsure.  But mostly I’m excited as I feel his presence and know that his hand is leading me every step of the way.

I love to read.  I enjoy a story that inspires me to be a better person.  I love the journey that characters go on from looking at themselves as unlovable to finding someone who loves them for who they are.  And they become a better person because they are loved.  The more I have read the more I have been interested in writing my own stories.  The idea has been burning inside of me for a long time.

As I have taken steps to move this what seems to me impossible dream forward, several times I’ve come across roadblocks that I have since realized I have put up myself.  I consider myself a positive person, however it’s amazing how negative my thoughts can be about how much work it is, I am not good enough and so on.  What’s even more amazing is the people God has put in my path to encourage me and help me push past these roadblocks.  It’s then that I truly see God’s hand in this.  I still don’t know where He is taking me on this journey, but I’m focusing on trusting Him with the whole thing.  And for that I am truly excited.

I’m not sure yet where exactly this journey is going or how long it will take, but I would love for you to come along with me on it if you are interested.  We can learn and grow in this journey of faith, hope and love together.

Blessings,  Denise

Writing

I did it!

I created my website.  I’m so excited to be working on this next step in the journey.  I’ve thought about it for a long time.  The conversations in my head went something like this:

I need to create my author blog – but what would I write about? and who would want to read it?

I know, I know.  Being an author I should want people to read everything I write.  But I find myself completely guarded.  I don’t want to make a mistake.  Offend someone.  What if what I write about isn’t any good.

And as I wrote a few sample posts from my heart, I found that I wasn’t writing opinion or an article.  I was writing what was in my heart.  And the light bulb went on.  So even if nobody wants to read it, I have a place to write what God is placing on my heart.  My feelings, fears, thoughts.  So here I am.

Of course now I have a new question?  Now what do I do?

Blessings, Denise