Stories that Shape the Soul-The Wood’s Edge

Stories that Shape the Soul

I’ve been making room in my schedule for more reading.  I read Lori Benton’s book Burning Sky back in the fall. It was so good that I planned to purchase The Wood’s Edge in April to read when I finished my beta-copy of Instruments of Intervention.  God has a sense of humor, because He gave me the opportunity to read an ARC (advanced reader copy), two months before it officially comes out. I couldn’t say no.

As with her first two books, Lori’s attention to historical detail brings the reader right into the 1700’s frontier life. She has mastered giving a solid historical backdrop by weaving it through the characters’ personal stories. The complicated relationships between the different groups of settlers and Native American tribes all feel authentic. From the encounters with soldiers to missionaries, you can’t help but step away from the book with a deeper understanding our history.

The course of two families’ lives are forever changed by Major Reginald Aubrey’s decision to switch his dead newborn son for one of the twins born the same night to a woman from the nearby Oneida community.  The repercussions of his decision are foreshadowed in the ensuing escape as the French take the fort and the natives with them attack the fleeing English. The rest of the book reveals the domino effect of that decision over twenty years as the twin boys grow up in two very different households and cultures.

To tell you anymore would spoil the story, but I will mention the pacing is different from Lori’s last two books.  As a writer, I can tell you trying to cover 20 years of one character’s life is difficult, but Lori manages to weave the life events of a whole cast of characters so well that while you are aware of the passing time, you don’t feel lapses in their stories.  It also allows for a slower more enjoyable read.  You can set the book down in between the year breaks feeling satisfied. Yet the next time you see The Wood’s Edge, you just as eagerly want to pick it up again.

As you approach the end you suddenly feel there aren’t enough chapters to wrap up all the questions going through your mind, but Lori’s ending doesn’t disappoint.  There is redemption, forgiveness, and healing in the characters’ lives and hope for the future. Being the first in a series, the few unanswered questions leave the reader with an anticipation, but not a dissatisfaction.  You walk away confident God has everything in hand and yet uncertain what the future holds for characters that have become dear friends.

The Wood’s Edge will stay with you and give you plenty to talk to the Lord about. I wrestled with God over all the times Reginald had the opportunity to confess his sin and to make it right. I reflected on some of my own life decisions and their impacts. I walked away with an awareness that our sin has ripples of consequences, and we never know the whole story behind someone’s sin (even in fiction). I also realized God’s forgiveness is only half of the healing process of repentance. There is also a need for honesty and restitution to those we’ve hurt in the process.

The care and time Lori puts into each book is relished in every bite like a soup that has all day to simmer.  While 2016 feels far off for the sequel, The Flight of Arrows, I know it will be worth the wait.  In the meantime, when I find myself missing my beloved friends, I know they are simply a bookshelf away and will reminisce with them as I hear their story again.

The Wood’s Edge is set to release April 21st.  It is available for pre-order at Amazon and CBD.

You can find more about Lori Benton and her books at her website.

You can also follow Lori on Facebook .

*While I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review, this review is completely my own opinions and complies with ethical author standards.

10 Creative Ways to Let Go of Old Dreams

10 Creative Ways to Let Go of Old Dreams

We all have those “projects” that have sat too long in the back of our lives, but we just can’t bring ourselves to let go of.  We dream of the day we’ll finish that quilt made out of baby clothes, scrapbook those paper mementos from college, or learn to knit. Today as I’m packing up my house, I realize there are dozens of projects that I haven’t gotten around to finishing much less starting.  So I’m challenging myself and you to find creative ways to let go of old dreams so we can focus on the 2-3 that we do want to invest our time in.  So here are 10 ways I’ve come up with to let go.

10. Donate to a Cause

10 Creative Ways to Let Go of Old DreamsI wish there were more hours in the day so I could learn skills liking knitting/crocheting. But if I get honest with myself, all my learning energy is going into becoming a better writer.  So every project I come to that requires me to learn a new skill, I’m looking for a charity to donate the supplies to.  My friends at Homeless in Dallas make beanies for the homeless, so when I come across another bag of stashed yarn that’s where it is going.  Get creative. Art supplies are in high demand for after-school programs. Cooking supplies and cookbooks can go to a women’s shelter. Even if you have a quirky interest and say collected a 1000 soda tabs in hopes of making something awesome, if you google “charity” or “non-profit” looking for “soda tabs”, you’ll get a dozen groups you can send them to.

9. Make Someone Else’s Dream Come True

10 Creative Ways to Let Go of Old DreamsLikely you are not the only one who dreamed of learning how to tap-dance, study the stars or taking up gardening.  Those unused tap shoes and gardening tools are just taking up space.  With a little networking, it isn’t hard to equip someone else to pursue their dreams.  Ask around.  Call a local dance studio and ask if they know someone in need of size 9 tap shoes. Find a boy scout troop to give  your telescope to.  Maybe you can even live a bit vicariously and watch them achieve their dreams.

8. Make Room and Time for Future Dreams

10 Creative Ways to Let Go of Old DreamsIf you have children, somewhere in the back of your mind you’ve thought, ‘Maybe one day my kids will want to learn to….’ It’s that twenty year old car that you took apart in the garage that you have dreams of putting together with your kids.  The problem is that it will be another 10 years before that dream is even a possibility.  If you aren’t going to do it on your own, don’t save it for your children.  Why?  Because children come with their own purpose and dreams.  If you clutter your life with “future projects”, then you won’t make room or time for the “now”.  You’ll miss getting to help your kids make their dreams come to fruition.

7. Memorialize the Dream

10 Creative Ways to Let Go of Old DreamsSometimes a dream is something we’ve done for a season of our life.  Sports, dance, art, music.  We hold on to the idea that we’ll get to do it again someday.  But our bodies age, our lives fill up and we realize we’re never going to be a basketball champion.  But we have these trophies, awards, and fond memories.  So create a small display and take a photograph or two. Make a simple two page spread in a scrapbook for that dream with pictures of those trophies and handwritten memories.  Maybe throw in the ticket stubs and ribbons.  They’ll be great for your children and grandchildren to get to know you better and much more valuable than the trophies will ever be.

6. Make a Shadow Box or Memory Jar

This one requires a bit of a visual, but many of us bought into the idea we’d have time to scrapbook all those bits and pieces of our childhood.  Better and quicker than scrapbooks is creating a memory jar or shadow box.  Pinterest is full of them.  Take all those tiny broken toys and put them in a jar to display.  If you are a movie lover put all the ticket stubs in a shadow box in your TV room.  I love the vacation ones and I bet they’d inspire me to take more vacations and not get caught up in the tourism industry sales pitch.

5. Let it Burn

10 Creative Ways to Let Go of Old DreamsI know it seems drastic, but sometimes drastic is what is necessary. This is useful not for sentimental projects but those projects that accumulate more stuff than we’ll ever use. Sometimes the only way to walk away is to completely destroy something.  It cements it in your mind that this is the end.  So put the card collection through the shredder, take all the metal projects to the scrapyard, or find another way to annihilate any ability to resurrect that project.

4. Upcycle the Idea

10 Creative Ways to Let Go of Old DreamsA few years back I had this idea for a calendar.  It would be filled with black and white pictures of idioms like “At the drop of a hat”. It’s a great idea.  I’d love to see it someday, but I’m not going to be the one to take the pictures or make the calendar and market it.  HOWEVER, I have characters who can.  I’ve found a way to incorporate that idea into another project.  All that yarn you bought to learn to knit, might create really awesome little dolls for your daughter’s playgroup. This doesn’t mean you can hold onto everything.  It means you can take an afternoon to use it differently.  I have baby food jars that I had saved to make into something became great containers for emergency candles.  Ask yourself if I had one afternoon to live and use X up what could I do with it/them?

3. Start a Co-op

10 Creative Ways to Let Go of Old DreamsThis is great for those projects that we do on a rare occasion that require lots of tools-woodworking, gardening, tinkering. Find or start a makers group for that project.  Meetup.com is a great place to start.  Then as a group pass around the items needed.  Often you can pass along tools for a season and let someone else enjoy using them.  Because everyone contributes it is easy enough to lend and let go if you find you truly don’t have time to commit to the project.

2. Give the Dream Away

10 Creative Ways to Let Go of Old DreamsSometimes a dream is too good to let die or throw in the garbage.  Sometimes it is simply not meant for you to finish.  Just as God gave David a heart to build a permanent place for Him to dwell, but gave the work to David’s son, Solomon, sometimes the passion we have is to lay the groundwork for something another person is to finish.  Let someone else finish that quilt you started twenty years ago.  Give that novel idea to a writer who shares a passion for the subject. This doesn’t mean go dump it on a relative, but let someone else pick up the baton and continue the legacy. Help them by providing the means and supporting their efforts to finish it.

1. Let the Dream Go And Wait

uploads%2F141151205310 Creative Ways to Let Go of Old Dreams8776712c565%2Fa699942a_q=75&fm=jpg&auto=format&s=431cb21c922b020c12b88828e440c959It happened in 2009 that my computer hard drive failed. I’d lost all the work on the novel that became Surviving the Stillness.  I mourned it for a few months and then I surrendered the loss to the Lord.  If He wanted me to write it, He would inspire me anew.  In 2012, while cleaning out a box of old computer parts we found a hard drive from the laptop I’d had prior to the one that crashed.  On it was 13,000 words of the original book.  Three years had given me time to mature and when I set my hand to the work again it flowed.  What I didn’t mention is that on that failed hard drive were lots of other projects. The entire 12 year plan for my daughter’s homeschool education, worship songs I had written, all the emails back and forth between my husband and I while he was underway.  I had to let them all go.  But the one God wanted me to have, He returned to me when the time was right.

Do You Love Me

Do You Love Me

Jesus asks three things of us, self-denial, sacrifice, and obedience.  When put together you get the perfect display of what true love is…a totally surrendered heart.  This isn’t white flag surrender, begging for His mercy. This is come before the good King and asking Him to bring you into His service.  It is an allegiance to Him that flows out of love for Him.

When we come before His throne He asks us…Do you love Me?

How do we love God? Do we love Him like a friend, someone we admire? Do we love him like a sibling, a parent, someone who is family?  Or does the love go deeper like the love we have for a spouse, willing to give of our time, energy, and resources to show we love Him?  Scripture is clear, we really don’t understand love until we understand His love for us.  “We love Him because He first loved us.” The love that flows from knowing how much He loves us, stirs our hearts to desire to love Him in return. Still it is hard to love God the way He loves us.

If you love Me deny yourself.

To deny ourselves, is to look at others and see what they need.  Sometimes it is something physical that we have to pull from our own provision to provide. If we act out of self-interest we will only give of our surplus, the old coat we don’t wear anymore, the couple of dollars in our purse, a few minutes of our time. David wisely said that he would offer nothing to the Lord that cost him nothing.  True love gives not just out of abundance but sacrificially.  Children know this.  Nothing makes a child happier than when a parent takes time out of their day to be present with them, sharing a meal or playing together.  That sacrifice of time is an expression of love.

Likewise, when we give the widow’s mite, all that we have, to someone who has need, or a missionary, or ministry that does the Lord’s work, we stop thinking of our own needs and start putting love first. To deny ourselves, reaches down to the heart of our will. We must stop looking out for our own interests.  We must stop weighing how much it is going to cost us to act out of love.  Nothing causes us more discomfort than loving beyond what is comfortable for us, but the more we deny ourselves and give from our hearts the more we become like God who gave to us sacrificially, His very life. Which leads us to the next thing Jesus asks of us…

If you love Me take up your cross daily.

DAILY, is the word that most people find hard. It is easy to selflessly give one day and then go back to focusing on your own needs and desires for a while.  But Jesus asks us to daily take up the will of God.  Our cross is always a sacrifice or burden of some kind.  But while it is sometimes heavy laden and hard, it is not overwhelming in the light of love.  What makes the way of the cross beautiful instead of burdensome is Jesus’ love for us.   Jesus knew that His death would bring us eternal life so He offered Himself up as an act of unconditional love toward us.

Rarely are we called to give up our life for someone else, but that is how we are to live.  There is a reason we admire “heroes” who risk their lives for others.  It is because it is done out of sacrificial love for the life of another.  It is what we all really want someone to be for us. We don’t realize that we are all called to be that way for others.  Whatever burdens we bare by reaching out in love are worth the cost because then others can see God’s definition of love through us.  And the more we pour ourselves out, the more He fills us with His love. Which leads to the third thing Jesus asks of us…

If you love Me follow Me.

There is no greater love story than God’s.  It is woven throughout scripture and history.  When Jesus came down and lived among us, He set the example of how to live out love.  He calls out to us follow Him.  Like the disciples, we are to stop slaving away to try and secure the world’s ideals and put our time, energy, and resources, into what He calls us to do. For some it will only be a change of heart for the work they are already doing.  For instance, the Lord has called some to be parents, but there is a huge difference between a parent who tries to raise a child worthy of being loved and a parent who loves a child unconditionally and teaches the child how to love.

Satan twists truths around lies. When it comes to surrendering to God, one of the lies Satan feeds us is that we can never be worthy of being loved by God.  He is right. We can’t earn God’s love, but we don’t have to.  He loves us unconditionally.  Yet the world tells us we have to “do” and “be” worthy of love.  We have to gain people’s approval.  It is an impossible standard that sets us on the treadmill of doing things to please people instead of God. Then we carry that over to the church earning God’s love.  But the truth is that only when we acknowledge His love for us and follow Him in sharing the love He gives us with others do we truly become lovable.  Not everyone will love us, just as they didn’t love Him, but they won’t be able to deny that we love them.

So I encourage you all to read the gospels this Lent and count the ways surrendered love is shown, from Mary’s sweet abandon of her life to God’s will to the resurrection of our Lord-the love that conquered death. Sweet abandon allows us to see Him in everyone.  And when we deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Him every word and act towards another becomes a direct ministering to the Lord.  We show our love to Him by devoting ourselves to taking care of the people He came to save.

How has God shown His love to you recently?  Have you tried to love someone else that way? Leave a comment below.

My Favorite Name of God

Who is the God of JacobOne of my favorite names for God is “the God of Jacob.”

Jacob was the second born twin of Rebecca and Isaac. From the moment he was born, he wasn’t satisfied with being second or accepting second best. Even though he was his mother’s favorite, he wasn’t satisfied. He took his brother’s birthright and stole his father’s blessing. Even when he fled to his mother’s family he wasn’t happy with second best. He ended up working for fourteen years for his uncle Laban and marrying both his daughters to get the one he really loved. With two wives, a few children, and a prospering business, life should have been good.

If he were a man of this century we’d probably call him a shrewd business man. He knew what he wanted and he went after it. His methods weren’t godly. He certainly lacked contentment, but God had plans for him. He’d be the one whose name God’s people would choose. They may be the sons and daughters of Abraham but they were the people ‘Israel’. And I always wondered why him? Why the one who just couldn’t accept his lot in life? Why would he be the one to be renamed ‘Israel’ and bear the sons that became the fathers of the twelve tribes?

I believe God chose Jacob precisely because we wouldn’t. If you read carefully through scripture you will find God calls men out, not in their most devoted moments, but in His own timing. You see, Jacob was in the midst of running from his brother when exhausted he fell asleep. And in his dream, God gave him a vision of heaven. When Jacob woke it wasn’t his brother that was first on his mind but God. He named the place Bethel and set up a memorial stone and poured oil over it to signify its holiness.

God intervened, but it didn’t change the man Jacob was. He didn’t become some devout man of God, but Jacob couldn’t deny God’s hand in his prosperity either. He matured over the next two decades, but he was still a business man. Finally he became too successful for the likes of his wives’ kinsmen and once again he ran away. This time he was stuck between the fear of his brothers-in-law and the fear of his brother.

He had nowhere to run and God came down and wrestled with him. It seems that moment comes in every life where we have to wrestle with God. It is Peniel, the place where we see God face to face. It is where we stop living for ourselves and start living for Him. And He changes our name. Jacob became Israel. But we don’t sing ‘Oh God of Israel’, We sing ‘Oh God of Jacob’ and rightly so. Because we have to acknowledge our need for Him. We have to wrestle with Him until He breaks the strongest part of us.

Then our lives become vessels for Him. Then we start to do His will. We stop running and start reconciling. We stop fearing men and fear God. We don’t become perfect, but we become willing to be molded and shaped and used by God. Sometimes it costs us what we love the most. Jacob loses Rachel in childbirth at the gates of Bethlehem. He loses his favorite son Joseph, because of the jealousy of his brothers. He loses his country to famine. But in the end God uses it all to create the nation of Israel.

So next time you hear ‘the God of Jacob’ remember you are calling upon the God who calls us not because we earned His affection but because He loves us and has a plan for us.

What is your favorite name of God? 

The Transforming Power of Love

With only two days until Ash Wednesday when the journey of Lent begins, I’m meditating on the theme the Lord has put on my heart for this year- Love’s Journey Through the Wilderness. Today, I meditated on 1 John 4:7-8.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 

If God is love and Jesus is love manifested, then all the names given to God are attributes of love.  Love provides. Love heals.  Love saves. Love is with us. Love is our hope, our ever-present help in times of trouble. But God cannot be those things unless we have need of them.   He cannot be our shield if there is no enemy attacking.  He cannot be our peace if there is no storm, nor our comfort if there is no grief.  Love is found wherever His beloved are being tested and tried.

That is why the Lenten season is so important to our Christian walk.  It is a voluntary step into the wilderness to be tested and tried with Him. It is an opportunity to be transformed by Love. Love took the journey first, fasting and praying for forty days and then facing the devil at his most vulnerable time.  Out of that wilderness experience, came almost three years of constant ministry.  Three years of proving Love had come to seek and save the lost, before laying down His life for ours.

The Transforming Power of Love

In a world, desperate to be loved, we can be vessels of God’s love to one another. Love transforms deserts into blooming valleys.  For every hole formed to stumble and ensnare us, becomes a place for a seed of love to take root. Do you want to learn to be loving? If so I invite you to journey with me this Lent through a series of short posts I’ll be making daily during Lent and Easter.

Is there a time in your life where you’ve encountered God’s love?  Is there an area of God’s love you’d like to grow in?

 

Trigger Warnings

As part of Author Ethics Week, this post is about what our responsibility, as authors, is to the reader. 

It wasn’t until very recently I’d heard the term “trigger warning”.  It was fellow writer, Rachel Thompson, who used the term and I took the time to stop and explore what it meant.

Trigger warning- a label that warns the audience of any potential material that will invoke memories of a traumatic experience. 

Trigger Warnings-helping readers make

It wasn’t something I considered when I wrote and published Surviving the Stillness.  I knew I needed something psychologically impacting to change the course of my main characters’ future.  Something more traumatic than losing her mother and her home, but I didn’t want to go down the road of a sexual assault or rape. It was through developing the antagonists that I came to decide on the events that I wrote into the book.

Abuse, no matter what form it takes, can trigger our minds to recall times that we’ve been hurt. I realized a few weeks ago when the new movie American Sniper started showing its trailers that I have a sensitivity to knowing the psychological wounds of war. Every time the trailer comes on I turn it off or leave the room, because it forces me to remember too many lives taken.  The movie was made to be sobering, but it doesn’t have a nice little warning label that gives me that moment to turn off the television.

Instead, I find myself watching those split seconds of decision that cause a man to be psychologically and emotionally scarred for life, and it’s too much for me.  It hurts because I know veterans on street corners begging because they’ve never been able to heal from war enough to hold a job.  It hurts because I’ve known good men to take their lives because they couldn’t integrate back into a life where we hyper-focus on things that don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

All it takes is two seconds to remind me of all the wounds of war I’ve seen in men’s souls. It got me thinking maybe I should have put a trigger warning on my book.  I take Abigail through the whole journey of PTSD through the series.  Obviously in Surviving the Stillness she has to first accept what has happened to her. Her survival mode of protecting her brother from finding out the truth begins to unravel as her mind finds stability inside the daily routine of orphanage life. As happens in many people with PTSD, her body is the first to make others aware something is wrong.  In the next three books, she has to reconstruct her life and move forward dealing with the layers of implications that a traumatic event leaves.

Many have asked me if any of Abigail’s experiences are my own, and I can honestly say no. I’ve never lost a parent or been through the experiences she’s been through, but I have dealt with Christians who used scripture out of context to justify their hurtful actions. I’ve worked with women who survived domestic violence and manipulation by narcissists, so I know the mind games they play.  And I have had experiences in my life that have left their psychological imprint, like watching friends lose their husbands to war.  Wounds that no matter how much they’ve healed still leave scars to remind me, at one time I was hurt.

So when I update the book, I will be adding a trigger warning to the back cover.  I will also be updating the blurbs on my website, Amazon, and Goodreads soon.  Because I care deeply about my readers.

Would you like to see more authors give warnings about the content of their books?  Do you think that it is ethical for an author not to advise the reader of content that might trigger psychological, emotional, or physical reactions?

10 Ways to Get in the Writing Mood

Writing scenes often requires setting one’s mind in the right mood.  Some scenes are intense, some somber, some hysterical. As a writer, I can’t allow myself to travel the emotional roller coaster all the time.  I can’t meditate on being angry or scared for the amount of time it takes to write a scene.  But there are a few tricks I keep in my pocket to get me into the zone quickly.

10 Ways to Capture the Right Mood to

1. Find the Right Song

Nothing can put me in the right frame of mind quicker than music.  I usually pick a soundtrack of songs that fit the pacing and mood I need for certain scenes, then I can come back to the same songs next time I sit down to write.  For Surviving the Stillness, my go to songs were Tenth Avenue North’s Worn, Shane and Shane’s Though You Slay Me, and Jars of Clay’s The Valley Song.

2. Pinterest Boards

I’m a visual person.  I have to set the scene in my head before I can find the words to describe the scene in words.  Pinterest is both a friend and a foe to scene writing.  I can lose precious hours trying to find that one picture that does it for me.  On the other hand I follow boards that fit my time period and subjects and have boards for each of my works in progress.  The picture of the right quote, face, object, place can make writing a scene so much easier and allow you to come back to it later.

3. Read Short Stories or Poetry

There are so many great pieces out there, both modern and classic, that capture both the technical aspects of writing, like pacing and tone, and the creative aspects, like setting the scene or describing body language.  I’ve started reading more short stories and poetry lately and making notes of what they invoke in me as a reader and what they masterfully do as writers.  Now when I get stuck on writing a scene, I can either recall from memory or open my writing journal and scan until I pinpoint something that might help me capture a character or a specific tone I want for the scene.

4. Quote Journals

Great quotes can inspire a character or bring a theme to life. When I read a book, I write down great quotes.  While I have to admit, most of the quotes that inspire my books come from Pinterest now, those hand written ones often invoke more emotional response.  I save each quote to my story board and when I get stuck, I’ll read through them.  If I can’t find something I like, I’ll go to one of the quote websites and search by keyword (stillness and running were two words I spent hours finding great quotes for Surviving the Stillness).

5. Get Out into Nature

The brightness of natural light, the layers of sound, the smells, even the colors are more vibrant when we can get out into nature.  When I get outside, it feels like I’m throwing open the windows of my brain and a fresh spring breeze is airing out all the musty, staleness.  The words begin to flow more freely, too, and descriptions become more crisp.

6. Talk with Someone

Preferably someone you don’t normally talk too. Everyone has a story to tell, even if it is just what they did last weekend. Listen to the words they use, the pace of their voice, the pitches of their tone.  Watch how they move their bodies, their facial expressions, their posture, their hand gestures.  People watching is good but its the interactions that really capture the person.

7. Try Doing Something Differently

We all have those scenes where someone is eating, washing dishes or some other benign dull task.  Most of the time we try and skip adding detail, but then we miss the opportunity to make the scene pop. My favorite example is eating soup.  Next time you eat soup, slurp it.  I know it is the most annoying sound in the world, but do it.  Then write down how it sounded, how it felt sliding between your lips, how annoyed you felt.  Then try eating quickly. Pick up your bowl and take a big gulp. Try different size spoons, let the spoon clang against the bowl, or dry up the bottom of the bowl with a piece of crusty bread. Now you have a dozen different ways to describe eating soup.  Mix that with a specific character in a specific situation and you have a recipe for a great scene.

8. Buy a New Pen

There is something about a new pen that makes you want to write.  Especially if it is a cool color or one that flows seamlessly. Color also invokes certain emotions.  Red can invoke passion (both positive and negative).  Black can invoke a sense of loss or emptiness. Yellow-joy. If you write exclusively on the computer change the color of your text, the font, even the background color. Changing it up helps your brain create a new relationship with the screen.  Use that to help you find the right mood.

9. Buy A Reward

This one requires a bit of self-control, but buy the reward and set a goal.  If you write 1000 words, eat that Hershey’s kiss.  If you finish the first draft, wear that new pair of shoes (or in my case read that book). Having the reward right there will make you work a little harder.  It can also make you a better writer. Waiting for the reward has a psychological effect of releasing the chemicals of desire. This is important in any book.  If we want the reader to keep wanting more, we have to want more too.

NOTE: If you find yourself eating the chocolate, put it in the freezer.  It will take about 10 minutes to thaw enough to eat or 30 if you want it room temperature, still enough time to keep you from snacking on it.

10. Make a Writing Buddy

I cannot tell you the value of a writing partner.  Having someone to bounce ideas off of and to work through trouble spots with is the #1 way to get in the writing mood.  Set a time to talk and be specific about what you want to work through.  You can do more in a 15 minute conversation than you can doing any of the above for 15 minutes.  It’s active creative or problem solving time with someone who is as excited about our work as you are.  Make sure to take notes and come back to your ideas when you lose the mood to write.  You’ll recall the excitement with which you talked about that character or scene and find it easier to jump back in.