Thursday, November 30, 2006

Write with your eyes closed...

“WRITE WITH YOUR EYES CLOSED. It's not as crazy as it sounds. By looking at the ‘movie in your mind’ you'll often come up with more telling details and fresher images as you type. If you still write in long hand, just spend a few minutes ‘watching’ the scene unfold, then record what you saw.”
--James Scott Bell

For more great writing tips from James Scott Bell, check out:

Tricia’s Thoughts:
I’m going to try this today. Won’t you join me?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Librophiliacs unite...

“Books! They keep me up late. They sometimes wake me up, summoning me from my bed in the middle of the night. My best friends. My worst enemies…Because every book I see says ‘come hither and I will make you wise.’ I have now read so many of them they cannot live up to their allurements. Yet all librophiliacs (book lovers, and I did not make this one up) are on the make for that one scintillating paragraph that hides in the deep interior of some book yet to be read. To put it more simply, I’m a sucker for a great read! I always feel the next book I pick up will be the one great book I dare not miss.
–Calvin Miller

Tricia’s Thoughts:
How many of you hear that same call, “Come hither and I will make you wise”? I’m sure if you glanced at my bookshelf, you’d know I’ve been seduced time and time again. Ten feet wide, eight feet tall. The books are sometimes stacked two deep on the wide shelves. Of course, that’s not counting the other nooks around my home. Like my son’s hamster who hides his seeds and nuts around his habitrail—in my home books are never more than ten paces in any direction. Librophiliacs unite!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Writing Fairy...

"You are a writer. Right now. With only what you have in your head as it is. You don't need anything else. You are a writer. You just need to keep writing. Don't let the Writing Fairy tell you that you aren't. That you need something more, that you're pretending to be something you're not. Hemmingway wasn't Hemmingway when he started. He was just a guy named Ernest who sat down at his typewriter."

Joseph Devon, "The Myth of the Writing Fairy"

Monday, November 27, 2006

Health and the Writer by Camy Tang

Whether you’re a writer who also works a full-time job or are a busy stay-at-home-mom, it’s hard to stay healthy. I researched and figured out a bunch of tips and tricks to help me stay in shape without carving out of my precious writing time. I also found some tips to help me have just general better health. Pick and choose which of these will work for you.

Eat breakfast

Eating a small breakfast actually increases your metabolism so that you burn more fat while just sitting on your bum during the day.

If you skip breakfast, your body’s metabolism is still low from your waking up, and it takes longer for your system to rev up.

You also have a tendency to have a larger lunch if you skip breakfast, which can negate the point of skipping a meal in the first place.

Breakfast is a good place to intake fiber with a high-fiber cereal, high-fiber toast or bagel, or a piece of fresh fruit.

Try to keep your fat count down, though. Have one piece of bacon instead of two. Or three. Use one egg white and one whole egg when you scramble. Use a little less oil when you fry those eggs, too. Take a little less cream cheese on your bagel—or use the low-fat version. Try low-fat milk instead of whole milk.

Camy Tang is a novelist also fighting the battle of the bulge. Find out more about her and her books at, or enjoy the read on her blog at


Thursday, November 23, 2006

“Let the whole earth sing to the LORD! Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish His glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things He does.”
Psalm 96:3 (NLT) –King David

Tricia’s Thoughts:
As Thanksgiving arrives, I can’t help but consider what my Lord has done for me. I’m so thankful for how He transformed my life, thankful for His daily strength and love.

The amazing thing about writers is that we get to share the wonderful things the Lord does. We are privileged as King David once said, to “publish His glorious deeds among the nations.”

Today, take time to ponder where the Lord has brought you. And if you feel led, find a way to share or publish this good news with others. Together, we can tell everyone about the amazing things He does!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


This quote was sent in from my writer-friend June Varnum:

“Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now.”

Annie Dillard, The Writing Life, pg 78

Tricia’s Thoughts:
At a writer’s conference a few years ago, I heard this quote by Annie Dillard and it’s often on the forefront of my mind as I write. Hoarding great pieces of research or snippets of detailed description is tempting, but Dillard is right—give your best at the place where you’re at. I can also add a personal note to the end of that—give your best now, trusting that God has something perfect for a later place in the book!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Good fiction...

Good fiction sets off a vivid and continuous dream in the readers’ mind. It is “generous” in the sense that it is complete and self-contained: it answers, either explicitly or by implication, ever reasonable question that reader can ask. It does not leave us hanging, unless the narrative itself justifies its inconclusiveness. It does not play pointless subtle games in which storytelling is confused with puzzle-making. It does not “test” the reader by demanding that he bring with him some special knowledge without which the events make no sense. In short, it seeks, without pandering, to satisfy and please. It is intellectually and emotionally significant. It is elegant and efficient, that is, it does not use more scenes, characters, physical details, and technical devices than it needs to do its job. It has design. It gives that special pleasure we get from watching, with appreciative an impressed eyes, a performance. In other words, noticing what it is that the writer has brought off, we feel well served: “How easy he makes it look!” we say, conscious of difficulties splendidly overcome. And finally, an aesthetically successful story will contain a sense of life’s strangeness, however humdrum its makings.

--John Gardner, On Becoming a Novelist, p. 40

When I first ventured into fiction writing I was warned, “You’ll never read books the same again.” That person was right. When I read, I find myself critiquing sentences, studying dialogue, taking note of language and theme. Yet every once in a while I discover a book so vivid and alive that I forget I’m reading. This is indeed a joy for a writer! The important thing is that when you find a book such as that, study it. (After you read it once for enjoyment of course!) While the author makes it look easy, you’ll most likely note that “less is more”—only what is vital to the story makes it’s way into those pages. Gardner says that stories like these are “elegant and efficient.” I like that.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Health and the Writer by Camy Tang

Whether you’re a writer who also works a full-time job or are a busy stay-at-home-mom, it’s hard to stay healthy. I researched and figured out a bunch of tips and tricks to help me stay in shape without carving out of my precious writing time. I also found some tips to help me have just general better health. Pick and choose which of these will work for you.

Make a small change

Often it’s best to make small changes in your diet and exercise rather than a whole lot at once. Try taking up just one of the following little changes this week:

* Get a notepad and record what you eat. Don’t attempt to change your eating habits, just write it down. Seeing it in black and white can help you to make small changes in your eating that have long-lasting effects.

* Go with the more natural stuff. Rather than the fake fat or artificial sweeteners, try for natural low-calorie stuff like fruit, vegetables, whole grains, etc. Artificial sweeteners can actually stimulate you to eat more, however don’t go hog-wild over refined sugars, either. Try natural sugars in fruit.

* Put a few low-calorie snacks around your house or office. Tuck them in every room so you have something on hand. Also try to pre-portion it so you don’t gorge yourself—snack bags of popcorn, fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, whole-grain crackers, etc.

* Get rid of one of your weekly television shows. If that’s too hard, then set the recorder for one night and do something else that one night a week instead of watching TV—do creative projects, or family night, or puzzles and games, or reading.

* Take a low-calorie frozen meal for lunch one day a week.

* Cut one soda a week.

Camy Tang is a novelist also fighting the battle of the bulge. Find out more about her and her books at, or enjoy the read on her blog at


Friday, November 17, 2006


What is certainly true of all great characters is that they are larger-than-life. I do not mean that they are unrealistic. Quite the contrary. What I mean is they act, speak and think in ways you or I most of the time cannot, or at any rate do not. They say the things we wished we had said. They do things we dream about doing. They grow and change in ways we wish that we could. They feel feelings authentically and without turning away. That is as true of Judy Blume’s sixth grader Margaret Simon who talks to God while waiting to get her period as it is of Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt while he is raising the Titanic . . . they express for us our greatest purposes and our deepest desires. They are us. That is the reason we identify with them.

Tricia’s Thoughts:

I can’t count the number of times I’ve come up with the perfect comeback . . . about two hours after the conversation was over. And while I’d like to think I’m a confident person, I often sit on the sidelines instead of being in the middle of the action. Not so with the characters I write. They face danger, stand up for their beliefs, and strive to make a difference in mankind. They also worry about the future, question why bad things happen to good people, and wonder if things truly will turn out better in the end. They are so similar to me in their frailties, yet act in heroic ways that are so different from my everyday life. These characters teach me about life through the course of my writing. Similar characters also speak to me as I read the books of others. How can they be so much like me, yet so different too? How can they be so larger-than-life and so yet identifiable? It’s something I’m still trying to figure out.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

God's Help for God's Assignment

Today’s quote was provided by my writer-friend Suzan Robertson. Thanks Suzan!

Sometimes a task we have begun takes on seemingly crushing size, and we wonder whatever gave us the notion that we could accomplish it. There is no way out, no way around it, and yet we cannot contemplate actually carrying it through. The rearing of children or the writing of a book are illustrations that come to mind. Let us recall that the task is a divinely appointed one, and divine aid is therefore to be expected. Expect it! Ask for it, wait for it, believe that God gives it. Offer to Him the job itself, along with your fears and misgivings about it. He will not fail or be discouraged. Let His courage encourage you. The day will come when the task will be finished. Trust Him for it.

-Elizabeth Elliot

Tricia’s Thoughts:

I thought about attaching a photo of my desk to show you what a writer’s life is really like. Research books for my next novel are piled high. There are writing receipts to file and eight mesh baskets that separate my article assignments, from my non-fiction book projects, from my schedules and my contact sheets for my volunteer work. If I were to sit here and scan the piles I’d soon be overwhelmed. “Are you sure God? Is this what you’re asking from me?”

But I don’t get overwhelmed (at least not too often.) That’s because of an important lesson I’ve learned from my writer-friend Anne de Graaf: Focus on one thing.

After their exodus, the idea that the Israelites could survive in the desert was impossible. How could so many souls find adequate food and water? Yet God provided. When His children sought Him, God took care of every need. He does the same thing today with our writing. The thought of thriving (or even surviving) in this fast-paced world of publishing seems daunting. Yet like daily manna, God provides exactly what we need for the day: the strength, the words, the vision. Trust Him for it. Seek Him. God will provide exactly what you need for this moment. No more. No less.

You can visit Anne de Graaf’s website at:

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Birth Giver...

The artist is a servant who is willing to be a birth giver. In a very real sense the artist (male or female) should be like Mary who when the angel told her that she was to bear the Messiah, was obedient to the command.

Obedience is an unpopular word nowadays, but the artist must be obedient to work, whether it be a symphony, a painting, or a story for a small child. I believe that each work of art, whether it a work of great genius, or something very small, comes to the artist and says, “Here I am. Enflesh me. Give birth to me.” And the artist either says, “My soul doth magnify the Lord,” and willingly becomes the bearer of the work, or refuses, but the obedient response is not necessarily a conscious one, and not everyone has the humble, courageous obedience of Mary.

--Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water, p. 18

Tricia’s Thoughts:
My friend Suzan and I have been talking about obedience in writing lately. There is a time when we may feel God asking us to put words on paper, to write a message that causes our hearts to burn, the question is will we obey? It takes hard work. It takes seeking God. But remember, God sees the finished work. Trust Him for it.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Writing is digestion...

My friend thinks of writing as digestion. For me, it is that and more. For me, writing is food itself. I need a certain amount of writing to stay healthy. Some people like to write in binges, but I like to write three times a day. I quite literally write the way I eat, with appetite and delight at the things I savor.

--Julia Cameron, The Right to Write, p. 28

I’ve been running around for the last few days. We went on a mini-vacation over the weekend. A dozen errands around town followed. My mind feels foggy today. I feel cranky too. I read Julia Cameron’s words and it hits me. I . . . I need to write. Just like my stomach growls when it needs food, my mind sends warning signals when it’s low of fuel. Let’s see. I have a few hours until the birthday party tonight. How about I put some words on paper. What about you?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Health and the Writer by Camy Tang

Whether you’re a writer who also works a full-time job or are a busy stay-at-home-mom, it’s hard to stay healthy. I researched and figured out a bunch of tips and tricks to help me stay in shape without carving out of my precious writing time. I also found some tips to help me have just general better health. Pick and choose which of these will work for you.

Exercising if you’re sick

If you have a runny nose, sneezing, sore throat—basically symptoms involving your head and neck—it’s fine to exercise moderately. NOT at your usual effort level. Clinical studies have shown that light exercise while sick doesn’t make you stay sick for longer or intensify your symptoms.

When your symptoms go, you can resume your normal exercise intensity.


Don't exercise with a fever. You might become dehydrated and put stress on your heart and body.

Don’t exercise if you have other types of symptoms. eDiets says, “If you have below the neck signs, such as extreme tiredness, muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, swollen lymph glands, or a hacking cough, allow at least two weeks before returning to intense training.”

Also, WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY. Don’t give your germs to anybody else!

Camy Tang is a novelist also fighting the battle of the bulge. Find out more about her and her books at, or enjoy the read on her blog at


Friday, November 10, 2006

Fiction: Our Objective

Our objective is to change people by putting our stories in their memory; to make the world better by bringing other people face to face with reality, or giving them a vision of hope, or whatever other form our truthtelling might take. You want the widest possible audience to receive this message; when you use your best skills to open up your story to other readers, you aren’t “pandering to the masses,” you’re freely giving your best gifts.

Orson Scott Card, Characters and Viewpoint, p. 17

Tricia’s Thoughts:

One of my favorite movies of all time is “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Every time I watch that movie I think, “One person does make a difference.” I think the same thing when I watch “The Sound of Music,” or read books such as Francine Rivers’ “An Echo in the Darkness.” These stories sink into my mind and give me a vision of hope. They also help me discover sweet truth through their weavings. Yet these stories also appeal to the masses. Why? Because everyone needs to know that THEY matter.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Theme is like the floors and structural supports in a fine old mansion, indispensable but not, as a general rule, what takes the reader’s breath away. More often than not, theme, or meaning, is the statement the architecture and décor make about the inhabitants.

John Gardner, On Becoming a Novelist, p. 41

Tricia’s Thoughts

My novels are unique, as they have their theme posted on the front cover. “From Dust and Ashes: A Story of Liberation” or “Night Song: A Story of Sacrifice.” While these are hints of the content to follow, there is no preaching in these stories. There are no places where the story ends and the lessons of liberation or sacrifice begin. Instead, like Gardner said, they are the floors and structural support. Readers are so concerned with my inhabitants, they don’t even realize the structure is there.
When I receive letters, readers write about the inhabitants—my characters who have become as real to them as they are to me. One woman was determined that the characters in From Dust and Ashes were related to me. I had a hard time convincing her otherwise. It’s then I knew my story worked . . . and so did the unseen structure, experience by not recognized.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Your advocate...

This quote was sent from my writer-friend Jenn S:

“ . . . It is not whether a publisher likes your book that matters, it's whether YOU like it! When you believe in your story, you're not looking for a whole company to publish it, you're looking for one editor, one [person] from your true family, the same tastes as yours, same loves, same excitements, and that [person] happens to work at a publishing house, determined to fight if she must to see your book in print!"

Richard Bach, Writer Ferrets: Chasing the Muse, p. 67

Tricia’s Thoughts:

The spark for your story must begin with you and ignite an editor. From there who knows what can happen. The wildfire can spread through the publishing house, the sales reps, the bookstore owners, and blaze within your readers. But it first must start with you and your advocate.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


My writing is plagiarized, but not from books. I hear speeches, conversations, and single sentences I want, and often in one pass they remain in my mind, to be transcribed at relative leisure.

--Kim Stafford, The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer’s Craft, p. 9

Tricia’s Thoughts:

I believe I love researching nearly as much as writing. For my fiction, I interview veterans, read memoirs, and spend endless hours searching on the Internet for minor things such as the look of a classroom where U.S. Army medics trained in 1942. Then comes the time when the words saturate my mind and spill out through my fingers onto the keyboard. I can relate to this idea that all writing is plagiarism. My novels are experiences shared by others, recycled to tell a story of my own making.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Health and the Writer by Camy Tang

Whether you’re a writer who also works a full-time job or are a busy stay-at-home-mom, it’s hard to stay healthy. I researched and figured out a bunch of tips and tricks to help me stay in shape without carving out of my precious writing time. I also found some tips to help me have just general better health. Pick and choose which of these will work for you.

Curbing cravings

It’s 4:00 p.m. and I’m staring at the candy vending machine with longing.

Or else I’m opening the refrigerator to look what’s there.

Sound familiar?

It’s actually good to eat smaller, more frequent meals. You’ll eliminate those four or five o’clock munchies if you had a healthy snack at three, when you weren’t starving.

Remember portions! Don’t scarf down a 1,000 calorie burger. Try to aim for 100-300 calories.

Try to choose something high-fiber. It’ll make you feel full for longer.

Fresh fruit (go for variety, not the same apple you buy all the time)
Dried fruit (although again, watch portions because they’re high in sugar and calories)
Cereal (it’s not just for breakfast)
Multi-grain crackers (watch your fat content)
Veggies (keep an eye on any dressings you use for dipping)
Yogurt or cottage cheese
Part-skim mozzarella cheese

As a disclaimer, small frequent meals don’t work for everyone. But it’s worth a shot to see if it helps with your cravings.

And if you’re still looking for something at five, try drinking water instead. It’s documented that often people mistake thirst for hunger.

Camy Tang is a novelist also fighting the battle of the bulge. Find out more about her and her books at, or enjoy the read on her blog at


Friday, November 03, 2006

Goal: Tell a story...

My writing friend Suzan Robertson sent in this quote:

“What I am trying to achieve is a voice sitting by a fireplace, telling you a story on a winter's evening.” -Truman Capote

Tricia’s Thoughts:

Characterization, theme, plot, dialogue, symbolism . . . crafting fiction can be daunting. Where do I start? How do I develop my scenes? How much dialogue should I include? While all these are important, and study of these tools will improve your writing, never forget what it’s all about—sharing a story. Like Truman Capote said, making a voice telling a story the goal.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Asking for advice about what you should write is a little like asking for help getting dressed. I can tell you what I think looks good, but you have to wear it. And as every fashion victim knows, very few people look good in everything. Chances are that you have been writing or trying to write in one particular form all your life. There are very few writers who, by switching genres, say from novels to plays, suddenly achieve great results and conclude that they have been working in the wrong mode all along. But in my experience, a writer gravitates toward a certain form or genre because, like a well-made jacket, it suits him.

--Betsy Lerner, The Forest for the Trees, p. 15

Tricia’s Thoughts:

I’m peculiar in the writing world. I write both fiction and non-fiction books, also throwing in articles and children’s books for fun. As I ponder this, I consider how all these various projects tie together. Whether a fictional story or a parenting book for young mothers, there is one theme that runs throughout: realizing who we can be in Christ.

My own life was transformed when, seventeen and pregnant, I gave my life over to God. Though life was still difficult, inside God was showing me what I could be through Him. It’s a message that somehow weaves its way into every word I write. So, while on the outside it may seem that my writing has no connection, on the inside I know that I’m sharing a message that God indeed transforms lives, taking us to a higher place in Him that we’ve never dreamed existed.

What about you? What message, what medium, do you gravitate toward?