Wednesday, October 22, 2014

3 Sisters on Writing: 7 Simple Strategies for Making the Dream a Reality

with guests Shirlee McCoy, Sara K. Parker and Mary Ellen Porter

Thanks so much for inviting us to help celebrate Seekerville’s seventh year!

In case you’re wondering—yes, we are actual, honest to goodness, raised together in the same home sisters!  Sisters who, coincidentally, all shared a common dream: to see our stories in print.

And now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, you’re probably wondering – How did you do it?  Has your family discovered a magic pill for writing success? A secret recipe to getting published?


If only there were magic pills or secret family recipes! Like all writers, we have hectic lives with demands outside of our writing careers. Each of us has had to carve out time from very full schedules to make our dream a reality. But time is only part of the equation. We’ve each adopted a few simple strategies that have helped us achieve our writing dreams, and today we’d like to share some of those with you.

SHIRLEE MCCOY
Shirlee celebrating with Mom at RWA 2014.

Upcoming Release:  

Her Christmas Guardian, December 2014, Love Inspired Suspense 

1. Learn to Say Yes. 

It may seem that if we want to have vibrant writing careers, we should be willing say no to things that pull us away from our stories. While that is true, I’ve discovered that ‘yes’ is also a powerful tool for success. A hermit by nature, I would happily spend every minute of my time at home. If given a choice of dinner out or a night in front of my computer, I’d take the computer every time.  It’s relationships, though, that build the kind of stories we write, and it’s strong characterization that makes those stories come to life. The key to developing those strong characters? For me, that lies in understanding the people around me, hearing their life stories, learning their heartaches and their joys. Over the years, I’ve discovered that my stories become stagnant, my characters dull if I don’t say yes to the little things that build healthy relationships. Whether it’s saying yes to a cup of coffee or a walk through a field at dusk, time away from the computer clears the mind and allows the words to flow. So, practice your ‘no’ but practice ‘yes,’ too, and use those moments, those sweet minutes of time that you look into another person’s eyes and see her heart, to write something beautiful. 

2. Adapt to Your Circumstances. 

As a busy homeschool mom, I’ve found that a rigid writing schedule doesn’t always work for me. Creativity, after all, doesn’t wait for a scheduled time. I’m driven by a daily word count goal, rather than a daily designated time and place in which to write. I almost always meet my word count because my laptop is my nearly constant companion. Several of my friends joke that they have difficulty recognizing me when I suddenly appear in their midst without my trusty computer! I’ve written while on planes, in hotel lobbies, on the bus, in the basement of a creepy old building. I wrote while in China adopting our youngest daughter. Circumstances of our lives will not change to suit our writing schedules. We must adapt our thought processes, allow ourselves to embrace the circumstances and seasons we’re in, and write wherever and whenever we have a few moments to do so. 

SARA K. PARKER 
Sara hiking at Inks Lake with her kids and dogs. 
Hubby's taking the pic!

Debut: Undercurrent, January 2015, Love Inspired Suspense

3. Toughen Up.

If I’d learned this lesson sooner, it may have saved me, oh, about twelve years of lost writing time. Being a writer is exciting, but it’s also tough, and truthfully, you need pretty thick skin. I received my first rejection on a manuscript in 2003. I really hope the editor burned that manuscript, but at the time, I was crushed and decided that perhaps I wasn’t cut out for fiction writing after all. For a while, I enjoyed writing for a couple of local newspapers and a few magazines, but six years later, I tried fiction again. An editor with Love Inspired Suspense requested my manuscript, and again – rejection. Another five years passed before my sister Shirlee was able to convince me to try again, and this time, instead of a rejection letter, I got an offer! Every rejection brings you closer to your dream, but only if you learn from it and move on. Take a day, a week even, to regroup. Then, sit yourself down, open up that dauntingly empty first page, and try again.

4. Simplify Your Routine.

I love to cook. I especially love to try new recipes. But cooking creative meals for the family takes a lot of time that I don’t seem to have lately. At my husband’s suggestion, I have built a couple easy-meal days into our weekly menu. My kids’ favorite is Mystery Night.  It’s fun for them because they get to choose and make their own meals, and it’s a mystery for me, because I’m never sure what strange concoction will end up on their plates. But mealtime isn’t the only part of my life I’ve simplified. Several months ago, my husband and I took a hard look at extracurricular activities, volunteer positions, and recurring obligations, and we prayerfully made some big changes. I’ve always loved to have my hands in many pots, so to step back from several activities was a humbling experience for me. I had to admit I could not possibly continue to do it all and still give this writing thing a solid shot. If you can’t find anything to cut from your schedule, I suggest asking someone you trust to look at your life on paper and offer some suggestions. Then, consider their points, pray about your decision, and be brave! 

MARY ELLEN PORTER
Mary Ellen with Tank. 
He's no longer a puppy and now weighs 120 pounds.

Debut: Into Thin Air, May 2015, Love Inspired Suspense

5. Make Your Dream Your Priority.

Over the past decade I’ve had numerous ‘great ideas’ that have never come to fruition. Characters that sit silent in my filing cabinet because I never made the time to give them a voice. Why is that? The answer is simple: Because I never made writing a top priority. In fact, I never made it a priority at all. Writing was always the “dream,” the thing I would do for fun, in my spare time. But who really has spare time? I personally work full time, have two very active teenagers, and spend numerous hours each week training with a volunteer search and rescue team. My sister Shirlee told me on numerous occasions that if I just wrote a little every day, eventually my book would be written. Her incessant ‘encouragement’ finally paid off; I established a weekly word-count goal, and then I made that goal my top priority. Sometimes that meant the house was a little messy, the dog got a shorter walk, or we ate leftovers a little more than I’d like. But surprisingly the family survived—even the dog. And the first book got written. Make your dream a reality by making your dream your priority. Nothing less will bring your stories to life.

6. Forget Perfection.

I have a problem. I am a perfectionist. While this trait has helped me gain a measure of success in several areas of my life, writing wasn’t one of them. In fact, there is no doubt in my mind that my propensity toward perfection held me back. The first sentence, the first page, the first chapter were never quite good enough for me. My stories were destined to languish, unfinished because I just knew each attempt was not my best work. For my own good, I had to accept that perfection is not attainable. To finish my book I had to train myself not to re-read and re-work what I had written the previous day or week. Instead, I allowed myself to read only the last three or four sentences before delving into a new day of writing. I finally accepted that there are many ways to write the same story, and write it well. A story can always be improved, but it can’t be submitted to a publisher—or sold¬—if it hasn’t been written.  

3Sisters

7. Build a Strong Support System. 

Some people say that the genes for writing must run through our family. We say it is the support and love we’ve received from one another, from our parents, our two other siblings, from our spouses, our kids and our friends that has allowed us the freedom to achieve our dreams. If you’re struggling to find your place in this crazy writing world, seek out people who share your goals and who are as excited and happy for your successes as they are for their own. Don’t look for the most successful, the most prolific, or the most talented. Look for those who are like-minded and who care about you deeply. People who support your dreams and will hound you incessantly until the word count is met, the characters are well-written and the story flows. Plug into a local writer’s group, meet up with other aspiring writers over tea, and start building your support system—it will be invaluable as you navigate your writing career.


We’d love to hear from you. What do you struggle with most when it comes to achieving your writing goals?

Comment below to win a box of writer’s goodies, including: a Starbucks gift card ($15), a Barnes & Noble gift card ($25), a dry-erase calendar with markers, a crockpot cookbook, and the most important of all—chocolate. The winner will also receive a signed copy of Shirlee’s December release, Her Christmas Guardian, and IOUs for Sara’s January release, Undercurrent, and Mary Ellen’s May release, Into Thin Air. Winner announced in the weekend edition!

www.3sisterswrite.blogspot.com
Follow us on Twitter: @3SistersWrite
www.shirleemccoy.com
www.sarakparker.com




 Her Christmas Guardian


 TO SAVE HER DAUGHTER

Former army ranger Boone Anderson immediately senses danger when he spots Scout Cramer and her precious little girl while holiday shopping. Then two cars suddenly give chase in the parking lot—kidnapping the child. His worst suspicions are confirmed, and professional instincts propel him into action. Having lost his own infant daughter years before, Boone is determined to reunite the beautiful single mother and her missing child. But when a secret from Scout's past finally catches up to her, she must work with her self-appointed guardian to save her daughter. Before the kidnappers cancel Christmas for all of them…permanently.

Mission: Rescue—No job is too dangerous for these fearless heroes



 
Undercurrent


 TRAPPED AT SEA

In an instant Kathryn Brooks's idyllic transatlantic cruise turns to terror. It's hard to believe someone has it out for her, yet chandeliers don't explode on their own—and her best friend has gone missing. But Secret Service agent Sam West vows to protect her as every corridor poses a threat and any stranger may be an assailant. With the ship's security providing little assistance, Kathryn puts her trust in Sam. Yet losing her own life is no longer her only fear. As she and Sam strive to stay a step ahead of the enemy, Kathryn worries that by caring for Sam…she's put a target on his back, as well.



 



134 comments:

Crystal @ Serving Joyfully said...

Great tips! Thanks so much for sharing, and how fun you're all writers! Love that.

Julie Hilton Steele said...

Love this post especially since I am one of three sisters. The comment about "rejection brings you closer to your dreams but only if you learn from it and move on" really resonated. Once I learned that lesson, it was freeing as all get out. No perfectionist likes the R but once you know it won't kill you, the fear of rejection (at least for me) is gone! Put me in for the drawing!

Cindy W. said...

Wow! I just typed and posted and nothing happened so I will try again. I loved this post and learning that you are all sisters! How cool is that!?!

I have a problem with #6. I always reread what I have written the day before and end up spending my writing time editing instead of writing. It's a habit I really need to break myself from doing. So thank you Mary Ellen for sharing that point.

This is a post that struck home with me so I will be putting in my keeper book. Thank you to all of you.

Have a blessed day!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

karenk said...

great posting...I always learn so much...from a 'readers' standpoint ;)

karenk
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Jackie said...

I love how you all encourage each other. I have a brother who doesn't read fiction. Enough said. But I love him anyway. :)

My husband and sons encourage me, and they kinda get it. So I'm blessed.

I fixed enough food in the crock pot last night to get us through two suppers. I love leftovers. I need to try more crock pot recipes though.

Thanks for all of the great tips!

Sara said...

Hi Julie - Yes, rejection is such a sore subject, I hesitated to write about it. After all, my sisters both sold on their first try, the stinkers! :) Since I have only sold my first book, I have not yet gotten over the fear of rejection, but at least I know I won't be waiting another 5 years to submit my next MS. :) Have a blessed day!

Sara said...

YAY for having two dinners' worth of food sitting in your crockpot! I always feel lighter after getting the food in and turning it on. Monday we had chicken tacos - popped in the chicken frozen and added salsa and taco seasoning. I'd heard of it done, but never tried it. What a hit. So glad your husband and sons encourage you. I used to edit my older brother's papers when he was in college. He was never a reader, and I tried super hard not to hurt his feelings when working with him on his writing. :) He is an Army chaplain now and writes really great sermons, so there's still hope for your brother. ha!

Piper Huguley said...

Hmm. Thank you for that chicken tacos recipe idea...there are a lot of good crockpot recipe ideas on Seekerville! How wonderful that you support one another in your goals--some sisters would be at each other's throats! Congrats to all!

Mary Hicks said...

Something seems to be wrong with 'comments'. I've been trying to leave a comment. This one will probably go. :-)

Mary Hicks said...

Yep, I knew it would!:-)

I enjoyed your post girls! What fun for sisters to have the same interest in writing! I have five sisters, wish just one of them shared the interest.
Mine all encourage and support me though.:-)

Audra Harders said...

Shirlee, Sara, Mary, welcome to Seekerville. What a wonderful story you each have to tell...and then wrap it up collectively!!

I love the support network you have for each other. Encouragement and love...with the occasional kick in the pants is key to getting the words down on paper instead of waiting until later.

Mary, what kind of dog is that? I love the big, fluffy, lovable piles of fur.

Thanks for joining us and offering such incredible encouragement!

Rose said...

How neat that all of you 'sisters' are published! Congratulations.

Great tips. I use my crockpot a lot when I'm under deadline. I work full time away from home so I have to shave time off any where I can to get to my writing.

I usually allow myself four 'social' outings a month so I have time for my writing. These social gathering can only be an hour or two because I live in a rural area so there is always drive time involved.

Audra Harders said...

Jackie, I don't know where I'd be without my crockpot. I've created all sorts of dinners recipes, but rumor has it that Pam Hillman makes incredible desserts in hers, too!!

Laney4 said...

Thanks for another great post! As always, lessons learned here often work in "everyday life" too, and not just for writers.
When I need to buckle down and get to work, I find myself torn. If I "eat the frog" and do the most important thing first, my head seems to be full of guilt for all the other things I should be doing, especially if my desk is cluttered. (You know what they say about a cluttered desk!) If, however, I get all the "cluttered desk" items off the plate first, I don't leave myself much time for eating that frog. I try staying up late to get the desk ready for a new day, but oftentimes "real life" gets in the way, especially these days with so much on my plate (mother-in-law has Alzheimer's and falls a great deal, daughter is getting married, husband wants to retire soon, and then there are our/my new medical issues). Inevitably, medical issues take priority, but the guilt remains. (Why is it that women feel guilt?) I think I need to eliminate things from my cluttered desk permanently....

Audra Harders said...

I'm a computer hermit, too. I'd be content to just hole up in my office all day. But God has other plans and sends me off to a day job. I have to admit, the people I work with are amazing and give me LOTS of fodder for character traits!!

Victoria said...

I think it's so neat that all three of you write! You are your own brainstorming and support team :) Although none of us have reached the stage of publication yet, my sisters and I all share the love of writing too. It's fun!

Jackie Smith said...

How neat that you three sisters are authors!! I read Missing Persons & Deadly Vows by Shirlee and loved them!
Please count me in your drawing!

Cindy Regnier said...

That you are all there to encourage each other is what I like most about your story. Kind of like all my sisters here in Seekerville that support and encourage daily. Thank you Shirley, Sara and Mary Ellen. I'm off to find some of your books. And that writer's basket sounds great - love my crock pot!

Shirlee McCoy said...

It did!

Shirlee McCoy said...

I was a teacher before I had children, so I know exactly what you're talking about. Hermits have to live out in the real work. We'd just often prefer not to. I find that God is often pushing me out of my comfort zone. There can be no growth without challenge. Although, I do often find myself whining and asking, "why?'. Thankfully, He is always patient.

Shirlee McCoy said...

Thanks so much, Jackie! Those are both continuity books. I had the pleasure of working with five other authors to make the series work. Don't tell, but I'll be slipping more than one book into the winner's prize. Both of the books from my new Mission:Rescue Series!

Shirlee McCoy said...

Just FYI, people, it is 6:11 am on my side of the country. Pitch black outside with just a hint of dawn on the horizon. I wish I were a coffee drinker. I am settling or tea. Ginger tea, to be exact!

Shirlee McCoy said...

I'll answer for MEL, since she's at work. Tank is a King Shepherd.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I'm in Phoenix and just waking up myself. Pacific Coast Time. Coffee in hand. YAWN! Welcome to the Seekerville, Suspense Sistahs!

Jill Weatherholt said...

How awesome that the three of you are all published authors! What a wonderful support system you must be to each other.
I can definitely relate to the struggle with perfectionism, it's a constant battle for me.
Thank you for these helpful tips and continued success with your writing. I'm curious, have you ever thought of writing a book together?

Tina Radcliffe said...

Oops, we need to change the comment field back to normal.

Darby Karchut said...

What a delightful way to begin the day by reading about you three! Loved your tips. My biggest challenge when writing is to turn off the internal editor. Do they ever stop nagging! LOL!

Shirlee McCoy said...

I beat you to your own party. ;0) I'm in a little town in eastern Washington, listening to the train roll by. Is there anything more hauntingly beautiful? My husband calls it annoying. Ha!

Tina Radcliffe said...

BTW, my sister is a writer as well. She writes children's books for Baker Publishing.

It's fun to have someone who really GETS it.

DOES YOUR MOMMA WRITE?

I wonder too if you all have the same plotting and editing styles?

Have you considered writing a collection of novella's together??

And gosh, it's like being triplets. You're never alone at conference.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Washington State. My husband is from Kirkland.

Yes. You did beat me. But I did read it the post when it went up last night. LOL.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I love Birthday Month. All the lurkers come out to play.

ATTENTION LURKERS. Please check the Weekend Editions to see if you won a prize.

Shirlee McCoy said...

Darby, I am constantly trying to kill that beast! If I let myself, I can listen to the internal editor so much that I can't hear what the story is trying to say to me. I've had to teach myself to only read back over the last three or four pages of writing and move forward. Otherwise, I'd never finish a manuscript. MY biggest challenge is allowing myself to let the manuscript go once it's finished. I'd hang on to every single baby for years if I didn't have deadlines!

Tracey Hagwood said...

Hi Shirlee, Sara, and Mary,
Having a sister(s) is one of the best things in life! You three are blessed to have each other. I have a sister who is my "life support" through all the ups and downs, I couldn't do it without her. Some of us have a sister by birth and others sisters of the heart like here at Seekerville, both kinds are so important for that support all women need.

When I find an author whose writing style I like, I tend to read my way through all they've written. That's why I've read 18 books of Shirlee's(at last count). I like your style! I especially like suspense and Christmas together, so I can't wait to read Her Christmas Guardian.

I'm looking forward to Undercurrent and Into Thin Air too, so please enter me in the SERIOUSLY GENEROUS book/gift giveaway!

Congrats to 3sisterswrite for achieving your goals and dreams, I love reading about inspiring success stories! Way to encourage us all!

Shirlee McCoy said...

Tina, I haven't been to Kirkland but know of it. Does that count? Mom writes beautifully! She has dozens of fantastic story ideas, but refuses to listen to my nagging insistence that she try her hand at writing a book. I have brainstormed with her on more than one occasion, and she's had her hand in helping me plot several books.

Becky Avella said...

It is early here, too. In fact, I should be making my son's breakfast instead of reading blogs. :)
Thank you for all of these great tips. I especially needed to hear Mary Ellen's advice on beating perfectionism. I'm working on my second book, and I have been struggling with the "it's not good enough" blues. I'm finally gaining some momentum by sticking to my word count goal even if it isn't "great" writing and limiting the amount of editing I'm allowed to do each day. It's still hard but I think I'm finallt getting there. :)
Thanks again. I hope you are enjoying your tea, Shirlee.

Rachel Stark said...

That's so cool that y'all are sisters and you all write! The support of sisters is important. I have three myself! :) Shirlee McCoy is a favorite of mine so I look forward to reading the other two sisters books. Thanks for the giveaway! :)

Tracey Hagwood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Becky Avella said...

I think it's ironic that I made a spelling error in my comment on perfectionism. ;)

*finally

Shirlee McCoy said...

Tracy, what a lovely compliment. Thank you so much! I have two sisters of the heart. One is Love Inspired Romance author. Brenda Minton and I go way back to the days when neither of us were published. The other has stepped into my life now that I am miles and miles (and miles) away from any family. God truly gifted me when He sent her into my life. Blood does not create family ties. Love does. My daughters are not biologically related, but they are true sisters. There are no boundaries where love is concerned. :0)

Sara said...

Mary Hicks, I had some trouble with comments, too! Wow, FIVE sisters! I don't know what I'd do without mine. :)

Shirlee McCoy said...

Dear Becky, this is my dirty little secret. I can't spell to save my life. When I was in second grade, I took a standardized test. I scored in the 20% for spelling and grammar. When I first began writing toward publication, Sara edited everything for me. She will tell you (if she ever comes back) all about how I nearly did her in with my constant confusion of it's and its, then and than. Hopefully none of my LIS editors will poke their heads in and reveal that I still mess those up. I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm not the perfect sister of the trio. Ha!

Sara said...

Becky, that cracked me up. I didn't notice the typo, but it does just figure. ;)

Shirlee McCoy said...

@Rachel....Thank you. I'm really enjoying working on my new series. The December book features Daniel Boone Anderson. He's a tall red-head who loves to eat. I told my kids about him, and they all knew I'd based his character off my sixteen-year-old son. Seth is 6'3" and never stops eating! He is also quite the charmer, my kid. Although, he doesn't have the cool southern twang. :0)

Sara said...

At RWA this year, we harped on our mom endlessly about writing a book. She says no. We think she just doesn't want to show us up--and she surely would! However, she did provide lots of amazing ideas when we were all brainstorming in the hotel room... So, to answer the question a few of you asked--yes, we are considering working on a project together. ;)

Sara said...

FYI, Shir, I beat you to the party, but it was only 6 a.m. here at the time - 4 a.m. in Washington. :)

Alison Stone said...

I love that you are all authors. :) Congrats!

Of all the suggestions, the "Forget Perfection" hit home the most. I am far from perfect, but my pursuit of it in my writing can really slow things down.

Shirlee McCoy said...

I was awake at 4, but I sort of kind of forgot I was supposed to be here. I was working on the LIS novella. My heroine is hysterical. And, I don't mean funny. Anyhow, I have her in this really terrible situation and I don't know how to write her out of it. She is getting more hysterical by the minute.

Myra Johnson said...

What a fun post! Welcome to Shirlee, Sara, and Mary Ellen! Thanks for collaborating on these seven strategies--and it's wonderful that the three of you share the writing dream AND have all found success!

Mary Ellen wrote: "Her incessant ‘encouragement’ finally paid off." Love that you put "encouragement" in quotes--LOL! Sometimes it does take, um, interesting forms!

Tina Radcliffe said...

On the floor laughing...good to know you guys aren't competitive. I am waiting for sister three to tell us NO! SHE REALLY BEAT US ALL HER THIS AM.

Shirlee McCoy said...

Speaking to perfection. Mary Ellen and Sara are both perfectionists. Mary Ellen more so than Sara. I'm telling tales here, but I'm sure Mary Ellen won't mind. It took her nearly 13 years to finish a manuscript. In the end, she managed it because she entered a contest and had a deadlines for that. She never misses deadlines. However, before the contest entry, she was very worried about getting it right. It messed with her head. She'll tell you how many times I lectured her on letting go of the need to make it perfect. Actually, I think I lectured her just a week or so ago about it. :0)

Sara said...

Shir, just call Mary Ellen. She will help you get your heroine out of the jam she's in. :)

Audra, we do all need "the occasional kick in the pants," don't we? Shirlee is an expert in the art of pants-kicking, but I'm a pretty good nag myself. ;)

Shirlee McCoy said...

Tina...I will never let them win. Ha!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

The Sisterhood is here! And I forgot to change our settings last night, but TEEEEEEEENA rescued me again!

Hello, Sisters!

(I'm Catholic, so that form of greeting comes naturally!) :)

Welcome to Seekerville, I love that this has worked out so beautifully!

Shirlee, this is so cool to have all of you writing for LIS!!!!! Yay, youse guys!!!

Becky Avella said...

Typing with my thumbs on my phone this early isn't easy. ;)

Becky Avella said...

I'll keep your secret. ;)

Shirlee McCoy said...

Thank you, Becky. It would be terribly embarrassing for it to get out.
@Ruth...It is very very cool!
By the way, the sun is now up. The tea was great. I need food!

Sara said...

Laney, I definitely understand where you're coming from. Illness adds a whole new level of stress to every day life. So sorry to hear about your MIL and about your own medical issues you're facing. My husband has a chronic illness that ebbs and flows in its severity, so I really do get how sickness can cast a shadow over everything. Prayers for you today -- for an extra boost of inspiration and sense of peace.

Oh, and you know what I do when my nightstand gets packed with things I need to deal with? I put it all in a box and close the lid until I have time to deal with it. ha! Just make sure the box is in a visible location, or you may forget all about the electric bill. ;)

Mary Connealy said...

#7 Build a Strong Support System.

THAT IS WHAT SEEKERVILLE IS ALL ABOUT!

Welcome ladies...sisters who all write. I love that.

Sara K. Parker said...

Off to Bible study - Beth Moore's Children of the Day. See you all around lunch time! Shirlee, hold down the fort!

Tracey Hagwood said...

Shirlee,
I'm glad God has provided you a "sister" close by, He's good like that, giving us what we need, where and when we need it.

Just thought I'd throw in, we were talking about books with an amnesia theme here at Seekerville last week as possible storylines and one of yours came to mind, Private Eye Protector. A good read for anyone looking for an amnesia story!

Janet Dean said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Shirlee, Sara and Mary Ellen! Of course I knew of Shirlee, but was blown away when you three sisters introduced yourselves at the Love Inspired meeting at RWA! Huge congrats to all of you!! No wonder your mom looks so proud of her girls!

I related to the need for most of your strategies. Actually to all but one. Saying Yes has always been easy for me, Shirlee. Too easy.

So Sara, your simplify your routine suggestion spoke to me.

Mary Ellen, my biggest failing is perfectionism.

Yet you've found ways to overcome and make your dream come true, a wonderful example to all of us. Thanks for sharing!

Janet

Wilani Wahl said...

My biggest obstacle with writing has been knowing what to do to get published. Then I discovered Seekerville! Now I am getting great tips and encouragement and trying to soak in all the vast knowledge. Then putting it into action as I write. The Seekerville Night Classes has been tremendous help. Next year I hope to have something ready to enter in a contest.

Thank you for these great tips today! I would love to be entered for the giveaway.

Thank you to all of you in Seekerville. You have been such an encouragement in this writing journey!

Shirlee McCoy said...

That was so much fun to write!

Meghan Carver said...

How wonderful it must be to have sisters, and especially writing sisters! Congratulations on all your novels coming out in the next few months! My difficulty is number seven. My mother has told me that fiction is a waste of time. My brother reads mostly trade journals. When he picks up a novel, it's stuff like Dune. (Remember that sci-fi TV mini-series from the 70s?) I have IRL friends who like to read, but they don't necessarily understand the writing passion. So, I'm thankful for writing conferences and social media to connect with like-minded friends as well as story-loving children who like to dream and plot and proofread. :-)

Shirlee McCoy said...

Balance is my struggle. I have been published for ten years. It is a huge part of my life. If I allow it to, writing can fill all the moments and become all the memories. I say yes to many things but realized a few years ago that I was saying yes to things that weren't building my relationships.

Shirlee McCoy said...

It is invaluable to have people in life who understand your passion! Seekerville provides a wonderful opportunity for writers to connect. I also love attending RWA each year and have several friends who attend ACFW. Maybe you can plug into a local writing group?

Tina Radcliffe said...

Totally agree. Hang with us Meghan we speak writing passion fluently.

Donna said...

I love reading about how people overcame everyday obstacles to realize their dream! Because it is almost always something I'm struggling with on a daily basis. Your points are spot on!

I wish my sister was interested in writing. A built in writing companion would be wonderful. And I love that you all write for Love Inspired Suspense. Is there something from your childhood that gave all three of you a knack for suspense?

Does Mary Ellen's search & rescue involve search dogs? I have been fascinated with that subject since I read Sent of the Missing by Susannah Charleson.

Thanks for sharing. Please enter me for the very generous prize basket!

Tina Radcliffe said...

When you have time check out the sistah's new blog.

http://3sisterswrite.blogspot.com/

Have they got some VINTAGE HAIR PHOTOS that will give you a smile or what???

Courtney Phillips said...

Hey y'all! Shirlee, your book Still Waters got me hooked on Love Inspired. I read it more than once.
How fun for all of y'all to be sisters AND write. I have three sisters (and a brother), but none of them write.
My biggest struggle with writing right now is self doubt. I'm waiting to hear from my agent since she shopped my novel to publishers. It's soooo hard to wait and not imagine the publishing dream isn't going to happen.

The Lord knows what He's doing though. Must remember that.
Thanks for the awesome giveaway. :)

Mary Ellen Porter said...

Donna, I am an Operational Flanker with Chesapeake Search Dogs. We are a team that uses dogs to find the lost and missing. Tank, my King Shepherd, is on the prep team and will hopefully be my operational partner in about 6 months. It takes a year or two to certify the dog--he has been training since he was 9 months old and he will be 2 in November.

Mary Ellen Porter said...

I can not seem to reply to individuals, but this is for Audra Harders: Tank is a King Shepherd. You are welcome to take a look at my twitter account to see pictures of him now--he will be two in November and is a really smart and special dog.

Rebecca said...

Wow! Congratulations on your debut novels. That is wonderful that you sister's have such a great support system.
I am looking forward to reading your books- thanks for being here this morning.

CatMom said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Sisters!! Being one of 3 sisters myself, I LOVED your post (not to mention the wonderful words of wisdom). :)

I also enjoyed the cute photos (kids and pets!) and wish all 3 of you continued success.

Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

Jan Drexler said...

What a blessing it is for all of you to have each other in this writing journey!

Sisters are really something special, aren't they? I try to understand that relationship - but my mom had no sisters, I have no sisters, and my daughter has no sisters. I watch my dad's sisters and my husband's sisters with something close to covetousness. (And I am so thankful for my sisters in Christ!)

And you are all so busy! Congrats to all of you on your writing journey :)

Mary Ellen Porter said...

To Becky Avella -- perfectionism can be your friend at times, but it will never help you finish a manuscript. Truthfully, I still struggle with , but just understanding my issue and forcing myself to "ignore" what is already on the page in favor of getting more done each day, has made a huge impact on my productivity.

Shirlee McCoy said...

Courtney, that is one of my personal struggles. Even after so many sales, I doubt that I am goid enough. My sisters struggle with perfection. For me, I just doubt that I can measure up. I have to constantly remind myself that God's opinion is all that matters. He will do His work in His time.

Mary Ellen Porter said...

Sorry that I have been quiet up until now--believe me, that's not indicative of my personality! As Shirlee mentioned, I work a full time job as a speech writer and communications strategist for the Government.

Now that I have been able to log in on my lunch break, and read all these wonderful and encouraging comments, I can see that Shirlee is dishing out some dirt on us! I have to say that she is the QUEEN of not-so-gentle nagging, but Sara follows her at a close second. I finished by book because they made me enter the Killer Voice contest--I really am blessed to have them in my corner.

I will say that, while Shirlee is the Queen of "reminding" you what you need to do, Sara is like a dog with a bone...give something to Sara and it will get done early--I envy her the ability to make self-imposed deadlines and keep them--something I am really working on in my own writing.

DebH said...

this is SO COOL!!!! Sister Suspense Writers.

Mary Ellen I would be so stoked to win your book since I am a fellow Killer Voice participant. I didn't get The Call, but rather a "would love to see this again if you're willing to revise" note. It took me a while to realize that this was my first rejection. Because really, I never expected to get to the "give us the manuscript" stage of the contest.

Now if I can just discipline myself to bite off small chunks of revision. I'm like you: I need deadlines to get my butt in gear. My creative brain was fried by the end of Killer Voices.(I only had the first page written on the ms on the first page deadline day)

Anyhoo, I really like the post you all have compiled for us. Great stuff!!! And put my name in the draw for the uber generous offerings for today... please.

I'm still just tickled about how all THREE of you are pubbed authors. Wowzers!!!

Anna Weaver Hurtt said...

Great post, ladies! I'm the only writer in my sibling group, but my husband is one of my staunchest supporters, so I'm very blessed to have him. :)

Natalie Monk said...

Aww! I love this post! My sister and I are very close, and she helps me brainstorm.

I'm trying to memorize all these tips. Time management, support systems, saying "yes" to the little things, weekly writing goals. Great stuff.

Thank you ladies for sharing!

Shirlee McCoy said...

I think support has been key in helping me achieve my writing goals. Aside from Mary Ellen and Sara, I have an entire family who has supported and encouraged me. Even when you're published, you face rejections and disappointments. It is good to have a thick skin and a lot of people who know how to give good hugs (and cupcakes...cupcakes help a lot!).

Mary Ellen Porter said...

Deb H,That is awesome that you received a revision letter from the contest! I have heard from many that the editors mean it when they say they'd like to see revisions. I challenge you to make a deadline and stick to it so you can get that manuscript revised and back into the editor's hands before the first KV manuscript is released!! I have given myself a deadline for my second manuscript and I am sure my "sweet, understanding, and supportive" sisters will hold me to it!

By the way. I was behind the curve the at the KV stage one announcement because I did not think they would select me to move on in the contest-- for stage two, I got a little smarter and tried to finish things "just in case"--I knew Shirlee and Sara would never live it down if I missed out on the opportunity of getting a completed manuscript in front of an editor for comment :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Tank is gorgeous!

I love me some dogs!!!! :)

Mary Ellen, I love that you were behind that first stage... and had to make sure it didn't happen again because of SISTERS!!! Oh, ain't it the truth.

But how smart of you to "finish" because that's a mantra we push here in Seekerville a lot. Finish the book... And dare to put your stuff out there!

This is awesome!

Terri said...

I love the fact that you're sisters! I'm one of five sisters. I've been trying to convince my one sis to write. No luck so far.

My biggest problems are time and making it a reality, not a dream. I'm Hoping when I leave the day job, in 3 years and 10 months, that I'll have more time.

Meanwhile I need to work on the word goal. Continued luck to each of you!

Anita Mae Draper said...

Shirlee, Sara, and Mary Ellen... so nice to see you in the village. The way you encourage each other remind me of Unpubbed Island - and then there were none! :)

I think it's intriguing that you all chose to write romantic suspense and wonder if there's some commonality in your backgrounds that triggered this... like your parents watching certain TV shows?

Jackie Smith said...

Shirlee, re your comment that your books I have read are in a continuity series....yep, I read them all.....our church library ladies would not have it any other way! And I am more anxious to be a winner today since you will include books of your MR series!! Love series.

Lol at your saying the train sounded "hauntingly beautiful"...I've been trying to define that since we moved to country in GA 5 yrs. ago and hear that sound often!!

Terri said...

Update on Jana Vanderslice. She is doing well and if they get her temp down she will get to go home today. She said it never gets better this fast and her doctor was smiling. She knows it is because of prayer. So please keep praying for Jana.

Debby Giusti said...

Shirlee, Sara and Mary Ellen...

Welcome to Seekerville!

Loved seeing all of you at RWA this summer! It's always fun when Shirlee's around! Glad she encouraged both of you--Sara and Mary Ellen--to join the LI family!

I enjoyed learning a bit more about your writing styles from the blog today. Great tips on perfection and saying "yes" to life!

Shirlee, love seeing pics of your sweet family on FB! Great kids! Super mom!

Debby Giusti said...

Terri,
Such good news about Jana! Continuing to pray...

Give her our love!

Shirlee McCoy said...

I love the sound of the train. it always makes me feel like writing. So many stories that could be told about places people have been and things they have seen. I've never written a book set on a train. Maybe I should!

Sara said...

Donna and Anita, I wish we had a really cool family back story that could explain our collective interest in writing romantic suspense! :) I'm the youngest, so maybe something happened long ago that I don't recall. Shirlee? Mary Ellen?

On my part, romantic suspense is what I prefer to read, so I guess that's why I'm drawn to writing it. Shirlee's badgering helped, too. :) But what Harlequin has done with its writing contests was a real draw and a huge motivator--a great opportunity for aspiring writers to get their work in front of editors and get feedback.

Marion Faith Laird said...

Wonderful information! I'm just delighted that Sara & Mary Ellen have joined Shirlee in the ranks of the published! I'm really looking forward to your books, too! Shirlee's already one of our favorite writers! :)

I love the idea of just setting a word goal instead of a time goal. That will work a lot better for me, too. I know NaNoWriMo always concentrates me on a word goal, and it's helped me much more than saying "at 3 PM daily I will write." Sometimes that just isn't possible! So thanks again for reminding us that word goals work! :)

God bless y'all & keep up the good work!

Valri said...

I LOVE Shirlee! I got to meet her last year and she's a sweetheart! Her books are terrific too. I look forward to trying these new authors also! I would love to win these books & the giveaway! Fantastic post!

Sara said...

Becky, I forgot to say - I'm working on my second manuscript, too. It's almost scarier the second time around, I think, because the first time I didn't want to get my hopes up and I tried REALLY hard not to. Of course, now I'm terribly nervous about sending in the second one. Fear of failure--ugh.

I am, however, encouraged with a memory from YEARS ago, when Shirlee was writing her second book and she worried incessantly that she would be a "one-book wonder." SNORT. Of course, we know how off-base that concern was. :) I did get permission to post that, btw, but figured it was fair game since she wrote on our blog about changing my diapers.

I also keep reminding myself, like Courtney said in her comment - The Lord knows what He's doing! It's hard, though, when you really want to succeed!

Jeanne T said...

I was by here this morning and I left a comment, but somehow, it must have gotten lost. Sigh. :)

I loved reading this post by three actual sisters! I have two and we're each creative in a different way. One does amazing work as a manicurist. One draws beautifully and has quite the eye for photography. I stamp, but lately my creative energies have gone toward writing. :)

I loved what you ladies shared about rejection and perseverance. The optimistic attitude is so important in this journey.

The other things I loved that you shared were simplifying my routine and making my dream a priority. I've stepped back from a lot of activities. My friends don't really understand, but if/when they hold my book in their hands some day, I hope they will. I've also been compiling easy supper recipes so I an maximize writing time during the days. :)

I hope you continue to find great success!

Eileen Barnes said...

I am so impressed by these sisters! I have 6 sisters, but all of them look at me as the oddball for writing and so I envy the relationship you guys have in writing. I found the weekly word count a potential assist in my endless search for spare time. Thanks again for the inspiration and I would love to be a part of the contest.

Sherida Stewart said...

Three Sisters, your SEVEN strategies are excellent! It is great that you share the writing journey. Thank you for the ideas!

Good to know Jana is doing better. Thanks for the update, Terri.

Shirlee McCoy said...

Thanks, Valri!

Shirlee McCoy said...

2k words a day has been my goal for five years. At times, I up it to meet specific deadlines. It really does help me stay on track.

Rena' said...

Actually, that was my biggest issue. I hadn't set any goals and was floundering all over the place. Once I decided to create a mission statement, vision, and a set of goals for myself as it pertained to writing I found that I became more productive. I wrote everything down and keep it were it is readily assessable. It also helps with motivation and focus.

Shirlee McCoy said...

Six sisters! How fun! Even if they can't appreciate your writing, sisters make the world a brighter place.☺

Kelly Bridgewater said...

I struggle with Deep POV. my stories are not that deep. I can't figure out how to accomplish this. No matter how many times I rewrite and striggle. Thanks for the advice from three sisters.

LaShaunda said...

Being perfect has stopped me in my tracks for years. The book will never be perfect. It will never be published either if you keep trying to make it perfect.

Excellent tips ladies.

Tina Radcliffe said...

I brought reinforcements! FOOD! Pizza. The breakfast, lunch and dinner of writers on deadline!!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Welcome girls to Seekerville. What fun to have sisters to write with. I think that is why we became "sisters" in Seekerville. It is really important to have that support that you three have.

Sara, is that Linx Lake in Prescott area? Sure looks like it. smile

Thanks for sharing with us today and what a load of goodies you are giving so generously. Have fun today.

Sandy Smith said...

I loved this post. I believe the three of you pretty much covered what keeps me back. I think right now the biggest one is not making it a priority. I am pretty busy these days and if I only have a couple free hours, I just want to unwind. I am continuing to work on that. That is so awesome that the three of you are in this together. Your books look really good. Please enter me into the drawing for this wonderful prize package.

Jamie Adams said...

How nice to have each others support. I can't imagine my sister writing a book. I need to get her to read one first :)

Great strategies too, thanks for sharing.

Sara said...

Tina, I have 3 pizzas in the oven right now. Dinner, kids' breakfast, and school lunches for 4!

Sandra, we were at Inks Lake (SOUNDS like Linx Lake - ha!) in Burnet, TX. So much fun, though I still miss the real mountains and thick tall forests in and around Maryland/Virginia.

Sandy, soooo hard to make it a priority, and I know what you mean about just wanting to unwind after a long day. Today I had 2.5 empty hours where I could have gotten a lot of writing done, but I got very little accomplished. When my four kiddos got home from school, I was kicking myself, because from about 3 to 8:30 p.m., I just can't do any writing.

Mary Curry said...

Hi Mary Ellen, Shirlee and Sara. I'm sorry I couldn't drop by before now, but I'm so thrilled to read your post. It was such fun to meet you all in San Antonio (right about when that picture was taken :)). Plus it's been really great getting to know my fellow Killer Voice, Mary Ellen. What a fun journey to share.

I have 3 sisters. One has written some children's books, but the others are happy just to read mine.

Chill N said...

So, practice your ‘no’ but practice ‘yes,’ too, and use those moments, those sweet minutes of time that you look into another person’s eyes and see her heart, to write something beautiful.

I had trouble saying 'no' and was the perpetual volunteer/go-to person. Then I became good at saying 'no' ... to the detriment of many of the things that I now realize helped my writing.

So now I'm much better at saying 'yes' again.

For me, balancing is a work in progress :-)

Wonderful post!

Nancy C

Tina Radcliffe said...

SISTAH'S, I know several of you must leave us for the day. Thanks so much for being such attentive hostesses!

We wish you continued success and invite you back to visit anytime!

Mary Ellen Porter said...

Tina, thanks for having us, we really enjoyed it!

Mary Ellen Porter said...

Mary, thanks for stopping by to say hello-- I'm looking forward to reading your book when it is released!

Lyndee H said...

Love that you are sisters who've reached your writing dreams! Great tips. A lot that applies to things I've encountered. Thanks!

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, WOW ... as a gal who had nine sisters, I just LOVE the idea of writing SISTERS!!! You guys -- Shirlee, Sara, and Mary Ellen -- are AWESOME, and I am thrilled to see you all published!

SHIRLEE SAID: "A hermit by nature, I would happily spend every minute of my time at home. If given a choice of dinner out or a night in front of my computer, I’d take the computer every time. It’s relationships, though, that build the kind of stories we write, and it’s strong."

Oh, girl, I SOOO relate!! My hubby accuses me of my butt growing roots into my chair outside on my lower deck and has to drag me out of the house most of the time. But relationships are what good fiction is all about, and hermits and recluses (like I tend to be) NEED interaction to write interaction.

MARY ELLEN AND SARA ... WOW, SUPER CONGRATS on your debuts coming out in 2015 and MEGA APPLAUSE for Shirlee for spurring you both on! What a beautiful example of Mary Ellen's 7th point of a strong support system.

You ladies ROCK!!

Hugs,
Julie

Sara said...

Yes, thank you, Seekerville Sisters for having us! What a blast. Really enjoyed hearing from so many sweet writers and readers.

Julie, you really topped it off--NINE sisters!! WOW! Curious if you have any brothers! :)

Tanya Agler said...

Thank you so much for the strategy about building a support team. While you're starting out and learning how to be a writer, your support team can be a tremendous encouragement.

Congratulations on all of you pursuing and living your dreams. Your show of support for each other resonates through the whole post.

Julie Lessman said...

SARA ... as a matter of fact, I also had three brothers for a grand total of 13 kids. But with eleven women in the house (ten sisters and a mother), we're talking PMS heaven!! ;)

Hugs,
Julie

The Artist Librarian said...

That's so awesome that you all are (or will be) published! I can't think of any other sisters in the writing biz ... Though the Bronte sisters come to mind. =)

Kara Isaac said...

Thanks for the great tips and congratulations on your amazing success!

Shirlee McCoy said...

This had been so much fun! Thanks for having us!

bonton said...

Hello, Sara, Mary Ellen, and Shirlee!!

I loved your wonderful post - I'm not a writer but thought the tips could be applied to fields other than writing.

I'd like to commend each of you on following through with your writing dreams. Congrats on the 3 book releases and thanks for the opportunity to win copies of them!!

bonnieroof60(at)yahoo(dot)com

Mary Preston said...

I'm not a writer, but I find it's the procrastination that gets in the way. Just do it already!!!

Deanna Stevens said...

Finding the quiet time to just sit down & do it. great giveaway by the way :)

Jessica Johnson said...

Thanks for this post! Personally, I struggle with #3 and #4! In order to simplified my schedule, some of the kids' sports would have to go. That doesn't sound so bad to me :) And the temptation to give up and walk away when I get bad feedback is so strong sometimes. Thanks for the encouragement to toughen up and keep at it! We all need that sometimes.

Suzanne Baginskie said...

Love the different tips touched on in this article. I am one of three sisters. One other writes like me and one teaches art therapy to group patients. So creativity runs in our family too. My sister and I have had a couple of short stories appear in the same anthologies, something we are both proud of. Please enter me in your drawing.

Shirlee McCoy said...

@Mary Preston Amen and amen!!

Janet Kerr said...

Great reminders that we easily forget about! And thank you for the fantastic giveaway.
Jan

Mary Ellen Porter said...

To this is really awesome! I find that being part if a creative family is a huge motivator-- plus it's really helpful when you've written your characters into a corner!

Rhonda Starnes said...

I don't know how I missed this post earlier. Okay, so I'm sure it had to do with trying to juggle too much and not logging on to Seekerville that day. Anyway, thanks for a wonderful post full of excellent advice. I have been a fan of Shirlee's for years, and I look forward to Sara's and Mary Ellen's debut novels.

Shirlee McCoy said...

Thank you, Rhonda!

Edwina said...

What great tips and how awesome to be a family of sisters who write. Built-in support system!

Blessings to each of you!

Becky Porter said...

Sara if you don't mind me asking what is the chronic illness you and your husband have to deal with? Does it have a cure?