Dreams—Tips From The Greatest Showman

by Jeanne Takenaka, @jeannetakenaka

Who has seen The Greatest Showman? Can I just say it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while? One of my favorite aspects of this movie is how Phineas Taylor (P.T.) Barnum dreams. He kept an optimistic spirit, even when “bleak” defined his life. He infused light into the dark times.

Barnum needed to earn money to support his family, but got fired from his job. His daughter’s words kindled the dream for what would one day become his circus. He worked for his dream. He didn’t know exactly what he needed to do, so he started somewhere. He tried things. Some plans failed. Others succeeded.

P. T. Barnum kept dreaming. In the process of bringing the “misfits” of life together, he created a safe place. A place of acceptance.

His dream was not without opposition. Protestors shouted outside his building, becoming increasingly dangerous.

The thing is, Barnum persevered. He kept working toward his dream to bring smiles to peoples’ faces. He purchased an amazing home for his family.

He chose to see the possible, rather than the impossible in his situation. Even when things were at their worst, he held tightly to what he hoped to achieve.

He worked hard. He didn’t give up after a mistake or a setback. He figured out how to make it better.

He discovered what was most important. The dream was amazing. But the people who came together as a result of the dream being realized? They were what made his dream worthwhile.

How does all of this apply to us? As writers, most of us have dreams. We want our words to touch hearts. Our books to be published.

But, this road? It ain’t easy. We can take a few notes from The Greatest Showman to help us walk our paths toward fulfilling our dreams.

1. Determine to keep a positive outlook. Even when the rejections come. The contest scores tank. Remember why we write.

2. We all make mistakes. Figure out what’s not working with our writing and learn how to make it better. Talk with a mentor. Research online. Read books. We never have to stay stuck where we are.

3. Don’t fear opposition. We have an enemy who wants to defeat us. People who want to discourage us. We need to remember that God gives us our dreams. He will enable us to fulfill them in His way and time.

4. Remember there’s more to a dream being fulfilled than our words being published. Choose gratitude for those who help us along the way.

God is the Dream-Giver. His vision for our dreams may look different from our vision. We need to seek Him first. Ask Him to guide us as we work on our stories. And then walk on the path He leads us to.

What about you? If you’ve seen this movie, what did you like best about it? How do you keep your dreams alive?

Tweet: How do you keep your #dreams alive? Dreams–Tips From The Greatest Showman by @JeanneTakenaka via @NovelAcademy #writing #encouragement https://ctt.ec/i67yo+

~*~

Jeanne Takenaka writes contemporary fiction that touches the heart. She won My Book Therapy’s Frasier award in 2014 after finaling in the contest in 2013. She was a Genesis 2015 finalist in the romance category, and she finaled in the Launching a Star Contest and the Phoenix Rattler in 2012. An active member of ACFW and My Book Therapy, Jeanne blogs about life and relationships at http://jeannetakenaka.wordpress.com. A graduate with an M.A. in education, she resides in Colorado with her husband and two exuberant boys who hope to one day have a dog of their own.

Write Like an Olympian

by Kariss Lynch, @Kariss_Lynch

It’s time for the 2018 Olympics, and with the opening ceremonies, I will be retreating to my living room as I watch a few weeks of athletes chasing their dreams amidst massive adrenaline rushes. I literally count down to the Olympics every year. I’m drawn to the stories of these individuals, and I love watching our flag raised high and the national anthem play after each of their victories. But I think what I love most about the Olympics is that on some level I relate to these athletes, maybe not in skill set but I do in drive, and I think there is something we as writers can learn from them.

  1. Discipline

It is no small feat to stand on an international stage. Before these athletes get their one or two shots to compete, they are training tirelessly, often for years leading up to the big event. That training often entails injury, early mornings, long hours, lots of pain and sweat, and maybe even discouragement. But I imagine when they stand at the top of the mountain about to ski down or grip their partner’s hand before they glide onto the ice, all the time spent is worth it. We will never see our publishing dreams come to life without hours of discipline. These are the hours no one else will ever see, and these are the hours that will shape us the most.

  1. Dreaming

I am a dreamer by nature, and I imagine many of these athletes are, as well. Making our dreams a reality requires intentionality, something these athletes do not lack. It is clear to me that many of them don’t just show up to these games to compete. They show up because they love their sport. Likewise, I will need taste victory if I fail to dream with intention and get so caught up in the discipline and task that I forget why I started this journey in the first place – because I love story.

  1. Daring

It takes daring to lead in innovation, scores, and skill in a sport. It takes a willingness to try the things others won’t, to know your body and its possibilities and limitations and push until you see victory. It takes character that races forward in spite of fear, obstacles, and insecurity. Daring embraces the challenge and perseveres. I want to be like that with my writing. I want to be the innovator, the creator, the encourager, and the challenger of the status quo. I want to know the stories God has given me and write them without fear, and I want to encourage my readers to live boldly.

I am constantly inspired by these athletes, and I want to be that source of inspiration to readers. I want to watch these games, cheer for Team USA, and then grab my computer and write like an Olympian. Who’s with me? USA! USA!

Tweet: Write like an Olympian by @Kariss_Lynch via @NovelAcademy https://ctt.ec/6jaIH+ #writing

Tweet: 3 Tips For Writers to Write Like Olympians by @Kariss_Lynch via @NovelAcademy https://ctt.ec/P203z+ #writing

~*~

Kariss Lynch writes contemporary romance about characters with big dreams, adventurous hearts, and enduring hope. She is the author of the Heart of a Warrior series and loves to encourage her readers to have courage. In her free time, she hangs out with her family and friends, explores the great outdoors, and tries not to plot five stories at once. Connect with her at karisslynch.com, or on Facebook, Instagram, or Goodreads.

 

Oh, you got a book deal? Awesome. Really. (What to do with envy!)

You know what I’m talking about, right?

You work your tail off on a great story, your fourth amazing story, still unpublished, and while you’re piling up rejections, your friend, who’s written one (or even more) book lands a three-book deal from a major publisher.

You’ve critiqued her work. And yes, it’s good.

You’re just as good.

Your story is just as powerful.

And frankly, it’s not fair.

You’re trying to cheer her on; trying to smile and be patient but frankly, it hurts. And you think…what’s wrong with me? What did I do wrong?

That’s a little how to feels to be a Minnesota Viking fan right now. Because the Super Bowl is coming to town and we’re all supposed to put on our big girl pants and be nice to the opposition. Who are coming to cheer on their team.  And frankly, deserve to celebrate their team’s success.

Image result for minneapolis super bowl preparations

So I thought I’d talk today about envy. What do to with that dark little voice inside you that says, it’s not fair, and…what about Smead? (You get extra points if you get that reference)

Five ways to deal with envy in publishing:

  1. Acknowledge that the envy exists. You don’t have to be nasty about it—just…wow. I’m happy for you, but I’m envious. Take a breath, cheer them on, but allow for the fact you want it, too. Let it motivate you, and even encourage you. If it can happen for them, then it can happen for you too.
  2. Don’t compare (and drag the other person down in that comparison.) Whether they are as good as you as a writer doesn’t matter. You both have skill, clearly. But their time is now…and your writing journey will be different.
  3. Look at the big picture. If you’re a person of faith, it helps to consider that God has a timeline for you, too. For Christians, envy takes us out of the paradigm of trusting God for our future, and with our dreams. Regardless, publishing isn’t magic, it’s about hard work. Do the work, and your story will find a home. (and you might consider whether your personality/voice and stories are a good fit for indie publishing)
  4. What can you learn? If you’re getting rejections and your friend isn’t, maybe it’s time to take a good look at why. Unpack your proposal—is the concept relatable, timely, and a good fit for that publishing house? Is your story fresh, with solid structure and compelling characters? Does your voice draw in the reader?
  5. Turn your emotions to your story. Do you have a moment in your story where your character is defeated? (you should, by the way). Even a moment when others have succeeded, and he hasn’t? You have some emotional fuel now to add to that moment. (And by the way, these moments, for your character, create powerful character revelation and motivation, so seek ways to incorporate them into your story!)

It’s not easy to watch Eagle (or Patriot) fans come to town when you feel like you should be the one in the game. But when you remember that everyone’s dream is valuable, and that life is NOT a competition (although football is), and frankly, in the economy of God, there is room for the wild success of everyone, it’s time to say…

Congratulations.

I’m cheering for you.

And I trust God for my own Superbowl, someday.

Your story matters. Go, write something Brilliant!

 

Susie May

P.S. So…we are seriously considering making this year’s Deep Thinker’s Retreat the last one. I know—it’s a really hard decision. But with our staff’s publishing careers taking off, and expenses going up, it feels like we are at that place. So, if you want to join us for this epic, final year, there are just a couple spaces left. Your story matters—we’d love to help you reach the finish line. Check it out here: http://learnhowtowriteanovel.com/product/deep-thinkers-retreat-2018/

​Four ways to recover from a devastating loss (or rejection from a publisher!)

Last week I was going to write an inspiring email about how you just have to keep trying. That you don’t know when one of your stories is going to hit with a publisher. Something about how it takes the right person, the right story, the right voice, and the right moment to get the novel published, and how you just have to keep throwing the ball, hoping for a completion until you get it right.

Yes, I was going to use the Minneapolis Miracle as a metaphor.

Image result for minneapolis miracle

Today, well…today is a different story. A different metaphor. But maybe one that is just as important because big losses come more frequently than miraculous touchdowns and we’d better figure out how to handle rejection as writers if we want to be successful.

Image result for sad minnesota viking

EVERY author gets rejected. EVERY idea can use improvement. EVERY novel has revisions.

The key is to know what to do after the rejection/painful editorial letter/bad review. Here are four thoughts to upping your game if you want to push yourself off the icy turf and keep playing.

  1. Go back to the fundamentals. The most common rejection from a publisher is because YOUR STORY ISN’T DEVELOPED ENOUGH. You’ve written a very good rough draft, with a solid plot and interesting characters but there aren’t enough layers, metaphors, character nuances and change and you just don’t nail the ending. This is a great rejection because it means you just need to go deeper. Start with your character and figure out what he wants, and why—and when I say WHY, I mean go back to that Dark Moment Story in the past and examine who your character is at his core. Then look at your character’s journey. Can he do something at the end that he can’t at the beginning? What is the theme of your story? Are there any metaphors embedded in your story? Going back to the core and putting the story back together helps you see the holes you might have missed. (BTW, if you need help on how to do that, check out The Story Equation)
  2. Show, don’t tell. Another reason your story might not catch is because your voice isn’t grabbing the reader. Voice is personality on the page, but it also involves the way you wordsmith, the way you describe the world, add in dialogue and most importantly, show versus tell your story. Do you “tell the story between the quotes,” meaning more dialogue, less narrative? (here’s a rule of thumb—if you can say it, do! Nothing moves the story faster, or causes more tension than dialogue!) Do you show the emotions through action, storyworld and metaphor? Don’t tell us that someone is smart, strong and brave. Show us.
  3. Add in an original twist. Have you ever heard from a publishing house, “oh, we just published a story like that?” You need something in your author’s hat of tricks that make your story unique. I have traveled extensively, as well as have lived some exciting adventures, and I often use those experiences in my novels. And since I write epic romantic adventure, it works. What unique element do you bring to your stories?
  4. Write a fresh novel, not book two! It’s common for authors to finish a novel and think—I can write an excellent follow up story. So they spend the next year creating book #2. Sadly, they’ve just (potentially) wasted their time. No one will read book #2 if book #1 hasn’t been published. Find a fresh new idea and go to work on THAT story. Your first story might still be contracted, someday, but don’t continue down the path of the same defeated story line. *Note: If your publisher suggests that you REWORK your current novel, then do THAT. But if you’ve exhausted the opportunities for that story…move on!

And, just for the record, if you need to take a day off and binge watch The Crown, or Travelers, or even Stranger Things, that’s okay too.

Just don’t stay down. Because that icy grass can turn your writing joints stiff and achy. Get back up.

You’re still in this game.

SKOL forever! Oops, I mean Your Story Matters.

Go write something brilliant!

 

Susie May

P.S. If you feel like you’re stuck on a story that’s been rejected, or your writing has stalled, or even, you don’t know how to develop a new game plan, then our annual Deep Thinker’s retreat will get you up and going again! We have 3 spaces left—and it’s one glorious month away, in WARM and SUNNY Destin, Florida. Check out the details and join us here!