The Writer and The Waiting Room

Today I’d like to invite you to join me somewhere most, if not all, writers are familiar with.

Where’s that, you ask?

The Waiting Room.

I know some of you are groaning right now. Some of you are saying, “I’ve been sitting in the waiting room for months now. I’m not interested in your invitation to another one.”

Just follow my lead and keep reading this post. Please? Yes, the Waiting Room is crowded. And the magazines are out-of-date. But we’re here to talk, not peruse the 2010 issue of Bowhunter magazine.

If you’re a writer, the Waiting Room is unavoidable. Truth is, if you stay the course, you’ll make repeated trips to the Waiting Room where the hands on the clock never seem to move and you wait forever for someone to call your name and say, “We’ll see you now.”

Aren’t I just the messenger of all things light and breezy today?

Why, you ask, why the Waiting Room? It’s such a waste of time.

Is it really?

What can you learn while you wait? Yes, I know you’d rather just get seen and get out of there. But stick with me. I’ve got a few suggestions for surviving all the waiting:

  1. Remember attitude is key. If I expect to wait then there are no woe is mes—or at least fewer attacks of self-pity. If I get into my appointment on time or—gasp!—early, then I celebrate. Translation: No one is an overnight success. If some author tells you that they are, they are lying. (You can tell them I said so.)
  2. Be prepared to wait. Do I want to waste time thumbing through magazines I’d never read even if I was stranded on a desert island? Translation: What are you doing while you wait for “the call”? Are you counting time or making time count by revising your manuscript, participating in the MBT Peptalks, attending conferences, connecting with other writers—maybe even encouraging other writers?
  3. Realize everyone hates waiting. Did you know that medical professionals hate being behind schedule as much as you hate waiting? And sometimes they’re running late because they’re waiting on someone else — lab results or an x-ray.  Translation: Writers aren’t the only ones who wait in the publishing world. Editors wait too. And agents. And publishers. Whether you’re pre-published or published, you’re going to wait for something because you should always be striving for the next thing. You might enter a contest and wait to hear if you finaled. Or you might decide to go to a conference, and now you’re counting down the days until you’re there — and you’ll get the chance to pitch your book.


So now’s your chance to chime in: What helps you when you find yourself in the Waiting Room?




Too Busy to Write by Nick Kording

The oldest is graduating from high school in a few weeks. Prom is even sooner. I need a list.

  1. Send out announcements.
  2. Pay for grad night.
  3. Clean house before family comes in.
  4. Pick up dress from the tailor.
  5. Make hair and makeup appointments.
  6. Flowers!
  7. Work on WIP (Work in Progress).
  8. Gym.

The younger one heads off to two weeks of camp just three days after the older graduates.

  1. Pack for camp.
  2. Get new hiking shoes.
  3. Make a packing list.
  4. WIP. Just outline the second act.
  5. GET to GYM!

The teen has a play festival in L.A.

  1. Get the car tuned up.
  2. See about a hotel for the final two shows.
  3. Gifts for director, cast, and ??
  4. New dress for opening night.
  5. Flowers!!

Then she’s off to another playwriting workshop and festival the next week in Denver. Her first flight alone. Great. Life experience before she has to fly home from college alone.

  1. GYM now!!!
  2. WIP!!!
  3. Get Benadryl.
  4. Does she have a small roller bag?
  5. Flowers for the show!

Then college is right around the corner. It might just be a girl thing, but there’s a lot of planning and shopping and packing involved.

  1. Make reservations for hotel/flight for orientation.
  2. List for college.
  3. Take old clothes to Goodwill.
  4. Shop: what doesn’t she need??
  5. Pay tuition.
  6. Transfer food, laundry, entertainment and emergency money to her account.
  7. WIP!!! Really!!! Few scenes! 
  8. Gym!!!! Work out longer.

It doesn’t help that she’s going across the country and I can’t just drop something by if she forgot it. Then there’s life.

  1. Get to gym. Stay at gym.
  2. Drop off. Late start.
  3. Character awards.
  4. Golf team practice.
  5. Flag football playoffs
  6. Oranges for half time. Granola bars. Chocolate.

Then there’s laundry and everything else. And, oh yeah, the freelance projects are due in no time.

  1. Finish project.
  2. Send email with invoice.
  3. WIP! One scene.
  4. Gym.

Then I need to get a job again. A real job because college now costs the same as a house; only it’s a four-year payment instead of a 30-year one. And that’s a whole other list. Mother’s day. Argh, don’t forget Mother’s day.

42. Flowers!!!!

I’m busy. I really am. I bet you are too. Maybe not as crazy as me. Maybe more so. But I realized what gets crossed off the list when life is busy is writing. For many of us, we don’t have a book deal with hard deadlines. That’s bad. It’s bad not only because who doesn’t want a book deal, right? It’s also bad because we can put everything in front of writing. Sometimes, we have to. Sometimes, family, work and health take precedence. Before you know it, months can go by and you’ve written less than two scenes.

That’s fine. Sometimes. Then you have to stop. Look at your list and figure out why you aren’t writing and whether it’s a priority at this time in your life. If it is, then make time. I’ve found these things work:

  1. Schedule it. Don’t just write it on a list. Set apart a specific period of time for writing – even if it means getting up an hour earlier.
  1. Ask God to give you time and focus.
  1. Eliminate wasted time. I realized I spent six hours one week watching the back episodes of a television show.
  1. Leave your home to write if you will do laundry, scrub the floor or anything else instead of writing. I’m not suggesting you get a hotel and leave your family. Rather, go to the library (yes, they still exist), coffee shop or anywhere you won’t be distracted for an hour or two and write.

These may not all work for you. That’s okay. Try things and you’ll find what works for you. As for me, I’m off to get flowers. Then write.


Nick Kording writes contemporary and Biblical fiction with a touch of romance, as well as Christian living, Bible studies and devotionals. She writes for His glory because salvation is a matter of life and death.

5 Quick Tips for Improving the Pacing of Your Novel

The issue of pacing in a novel — whether your story is moving ahead smoothly — came up in my writing group this past week. The question was phrased this way: It feels like the pacing is off in my manuscript. What can I do to make sure it’s right?

 Thanks to that question, the group brainstormed together and came up with five tips to help improve a manuscript’s pacing:

  1. Wait to evaluate your novel’s pacing until after you’ve finished your fast draft. Fast drafting is an act of discovery and falling in love with your characters. It’s all about writing forward – not going backward and fine tuning anything: characters, plot, spiritual thread, or pacing.
  2. Read your story chronologically. This may seem like a “duh,” but sometimes as writers we jump back and forth between scenes as we rewrite. We realize we need to add a new chapter in between chapters 7 and 8 and then we decide to add a third scene after the two scenes in chapter 20. While we’re doing this kind of rewriting is not the time to evaluate our story’s pacing.
  3. Allow your character’s emotions to drive your scenes. Specifically, look for deep emotions for your characters to react to and push your chapters forward.
  4. Ensure that you have Action, Reaction, and Action/Reaction scenes. If you write only Action scenes, your pacing is all go, go, go – and you’ll exhaust your readers’ emotions. All Reaction scenes? Your pacing is too slow. You don’t want to put your readers to sleep, do you? HINT: Sometimes I label my scenes when I’m rewriting with an “A” for Action, an “R” for Reaction, and an “AR” for Action/Reaction to give me a quick visual of my pacing. If I’m too heavy with one kind of scene, I know my pacing is off and I need to adjust.
  5. Hand your manuscript off to someone else. You can be too close to your story to tell if the pacing is off. This is where a craft group comes in to give you needed feedback. Or preferred readers. Or an editor. They can tell you if your scenes are dragging because you’ve taken too long to get to the action at the beginning of a scene or if you’ve left a scene too early.

Remember: Pacing isn’t something you evaluate in the early stages of writing a manuscript and sometimes you need other people to help you evaluate if your pacing. Do you have any other tips for checking whether your novel is moving ahead smoothly?


[Tweet “5 Quick Tips for Improving the Pacing of Your Novel by @bethvogt #amwriting #tips”]



5 Tips for Ultimate Blog-nobbing by Ron Estrada

I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve managed to attend three writer’s conferences over the last five years. Despite all the advice that I attend as many as possible in order to mingle with fellow writers, agents, and publishers, my bank account and day job don’t seem to cooperate.

But despair not. For I give you…the blog.

No! Wait! Keep reading. This is not another post telling you why you need to blog three times a week or die a lonely unpublished Starbucks barista. No, I’ll leave that to Edie.

I’m here to tell you that following blogs is your path to rubbing electronic elbows with those who may launch your career. Yes, agents and publishers happen to love blogs about writing. And they take note of the frequent responders.

How do I know this? Because I’ve been contacted by agents who share a love of the same blogs I frequent. Maybe even this one… ; )

So here are my top 5 tips for blog-nobbing:

  1. Don’t try to keep up with every popular blog. You don’t have the time or energy. Pick one or two that you enjoy and stay with them.
  2. Comment! I know, this should be obvious. But you’d be surprised how many lurkers there are out there. This is your chance to stand out. And don’t slap something into the comment box. Write it. Read it. Edit it. You’re a writer. Show it.
  3. Comment on comments. Frequent commenters form a bit of a community. Like a micro-Facebook. These are the people who are likely to succeed as writers. Befriend them. There’s a good chance you’ll gain valuable friends and allies.
  4. Social share. Share your favorite blogs on Facebook and Twitter. The blog owners will likely know that you’re promoting their blog and will show their appreciation by promoting you as well. And they have a lot of followers.
  5. Get a blog reader like Feedly. Feedly loads all your favorite blogs into one web page or app on your all your mobile devices. Your blogs are always with you.

Remember, this is much like a conference. Be yourself. Be interesting. Don’t push yourself onto those agents on publishers. Stick to these few rules and good things will start to come your way!

So which blogs (besides this one, of course) do you like to frequent?


Ron Estrada is the author of YA and Middle-Grade novels. His first release, Now I Knew You, is available on Amazon. He also writes for several blogs and has a regular column in a print magazine, Women2Women Michigan. He can be reached at or you can visit his website at