A New Year/A New Beginning

by Betty Thomason Owens

sylvester-1097596_1920Happy New Year!

Last night, as the clocks rolled past midnight into a fresh, new day, the numbers on our calendars also changed. Welcome to the first day of a brand new year–a fresh, clean slate–abounding with possibilities! Do you have a New Year’s resolution to fulfill? A date with a treadmill? Are you starting a juice fast, or the twenty-one-day spending fast? Looking for that svelte figure you lost? Aiming to add cash to the savings account? I hope you’re successful in everything you set out to do this year.

It is my privilege to greet you on behalf of the entire Crew at Writing Prompts. We have a special year planned with some exciting topics. As I glanced over the calendar Jennifer has worked so hard to complete, ideas popped into my writerly mind. I jotted them down, so I wouldn’t forget. Will I remember where I wrote them down? Well, considering the number of things I’ve had to go on the hunt for these past few days, possibly not. That pink sticky note will be covered up by more pink sticky notes.

What awaits us in 2016? The news media strives to paint a dark picture. But here on the Writing Prompts blog, we’re looking to focus your thoughts on fun and intriguing topics to spark new writing ideas. New beginnings. We’ll prompt you with interesting thoughts, posts, and photos. For instance, are you aware of the vast array of genres and subgenres in literature? Which genres do you prefer in your reading and/or writing? That’s February’s topic.

The Pacific Coast

What is your favorite season? Our writers will share theirs in March. In April, we’ll shower you with our favorite historical time periods. We’ll go to Australia in May, come back home to weddings in June, and remember a favorite vacation in July. And just in time for conference season (August), we’ll ferret out everything you want to know about writing conferences.

Pack your suitcases and get your passport up-to-date. Let’s go exploring! World Travel is September’s quest. We’ll seek out Natural Wonders in October, explore Art in November then finish out the year with Christmas Around the World.

A whirlwind tour awaits you this year on the Writing Prompts blog. Month after month of interesting subjects! And don’t forget about Wednesday’s 3 Questions. We’re serving up three fresh questions, and some exciting names on the list of interviewees. If you’re a writer with a book releasing in 2016, please feel free to contact us for a spot on our 3 Questions Wednesday calendar. Note: We encourage the 3 Questions authors to include a book giveaway, if possible.

We also do more in-depth interviews on Saturdays throughout the year. As well as prompting you with thoughts and ideas, we’re here to help you market your new release and introduce our readers to some fresh, new talent.

And who will bring you all these wonderful blog posts throughout the year? Just in case you missed our Roundup post in December, you can read it here. Or, simply click on the “CREW” tab above for additional information about each of our writers.

Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My! Yes, it’s in our title–we finish most of our posts with a writing prompt and encourage you to finish it and submit your efforts as a comment. In the past, we’ve offered bimonthly gift cards to our commenters, giving extra entries for those who complete a prompt. In 2016, we’re suspending the bimonthly gift cards and offering more valuable gifts twice a year. In June, we celebrate our blog’s anniversary (we’re calling it blogaversary). If you answer a prompt on the blog during the first half of the year, you will be eligible to win the blogaversary prize (we’re still planning that prize!). The more prompts you answer, the more entries you’ll get. Don’t miss the announcement of our grand prize winners in the Once Upon a Christmas Giveaway — TBA later tonight! ⇒see sidebar meme

My prayer for you in 2016 is this:  May you write inspired, reaching the hearts of many hurting souls through your fiction and nonfiction. May the rewards of your work be lasting treasures in heaven. And may God crown your year with His bounty…(Psalm 65:11). Not a writer? Most of that prayer is relevant to you as well.

Writing Prompt: Write an interesting caption for this photograph. Submit via comments.

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betty owensBetty Thomason Owens writes romantic comedy, historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. To find out more about her books, her writing, and other interests, click here. Thanks for visiting the Writing Prompts blog!

Monsters Under The Bed – Facing Your Writing Fears

by Holly Michael

Hit the light switch. Quick! Run! Dive into bed. Not safe yet! Tuck in your appendages. Whatever didn’t catch you hides under the bed and eats toes and fingers. Oh no! Closet door is open. Close your eyes!

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courtesy of morgue file

Does that scene prompt a childhood memory? Or was that only my childhood bedtime ritual? Confession: I was still in my teens the last time I hotfooted in fear across those creaky wooden floors in our old Wisconsin farmhouse.

As a grown up–or trying to be–now, at bedtime I hit the light switch and tip-toe cautiously across the room in fear of what hides under the bed–dust bunnies that might induce a sneezing fit or…gasp…need to be vacuumed up.

Photo by Holly Michael, her children.

Photo by Holly Michael, her children.

Fear. Do we ever outgrow it?

My grown-up writing career didn’t happen without a barrage of fears making me question why I started this venture. Writing is scary. Fears can cripple a writer.

What can we do? The only way to conquer fears is to face them. Let’s take a look at a few writing fears and ways to overcome.

Fear of Rejection: If you don’t send your writing to agents, editors, critique groups, you are no better off than if you get a rejection. Face that fear. You will get rejections. You may even shed a few tears over them. It’s okay. You will grow stronger.

And rejections don’t necessarily mean you are a bad writer. It’s more likely that the market is so hard to break in to. Recently, an editor of a major publishing house told me that proposals that they would be excited to offer contracts on years ago are now rejected. It’s the nature of the publishing industry now.

I got hundreds of rejections before getting published. Stephen King in “ON WRITING,” wrote, “The nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and kept on writing.” Rejections prove you are a serious writer and you are not giving up.

Fear of Not Being Good Enough: In the words of my mother, “Get over it!” Who is “good enough?” We all write garbage, especially when we start writing. Writing is craft. You keep at it. You learn to write well. Practice. Practice. Practice. Read the kind of books you want to write. Read books on writing. A few good ones are: On Writing Well by William Zinsser, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, Write Tight by William Brohaugh. If you have a desire, a talent, a calling to write. Write! Then, write some more.

Fear of Success: Believe it or not, I have heard writers admit this fear. Weird, isn’t it? I suffer from the opposite fear. Bring on the success. All I can say for you strange people is…don’t look at the big picture. Take it one step at a time. Think of writing the first draft, not the movie deal. Nothing has to change, even if you strike it rich with your bestseller and your kinfolk say, “Hey Big-Time Author, move away from there!” Who says Californy is the place you oughtta be? Even hitting it big, you won’t have to load up the truck and moved to Beverly. Unless you want to, of course.

Fear of Exposing too Much of You: This is a common fear. Writers bleed their hearts on the page. They draw from personal experiences. Pouring out emotions can be healing, though. Your emotional experiences can also help others. Think of it as therapy, ministry. Write on! Cry on! Your words are powerful, friend.

Fear of Exposing Relatives: I was shaking in my boots, worried that my relatives would hate me when I published my first novel. For years, I’d threatened my sisters, warned that I was writing them as characters in the book. I was not kidding. I was. And they were not nice characters. When the first phone call came from one of my sisters after my novel was published, I cringed.

“I’m Heather, right?” my sister asked.

Silence on the phone line. I exhaled, waiting for the tongue-lashing. “Well….”

“I know that I am and just called to say…(dramatic pause)…that I’m sorry for how I treated you when we were growing up and I love you.”

Heather will be redeemed in the sequel.

morgue file

morgue file

My best advice for whatever fear holds you back? Quit running. Quit hiding. The monsters only exist in your head. Think about it. Did you ever wake up with no toes, or fingers? If there were monsters under the bed or in the closet, wouldn’t they have eaten you while you slept? That would have been the perfect opportunity.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 

“Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments.”

What is your biggest fear in writing? Life? How did you overcome it?