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It’s that time of year again. Time to get those fingers limbered up, pencils sharpened, and all of our writing tools in order. I hope you have your brain muscles ready to start creating your paintings with words!

I’ve been really busy setting up a new website that is all about reading and writing. And I’ve created a interactive project open to everyone. This project is set up to create a novel, with guidance for the writers by the audience. If you or someone you know is interested in participating as a reader or writer, just follow this link: amberlealeggette.com

Membership is free, and is required to join the forum where the writing work will be drafted. Readers may participate with reviews and suggestions in the comment section of the homepage. Make sure to sign up for the weekly newsletter to receive important updates and news.

And as always, please share!

Happy Writing! – Amber Lea

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A friend recently shared a question they had been asked about what is considered “good writing”. As I’ve come to learn, it is related to the old saying, “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”. There is no such thing as a book that every single person in the world is going to like. And the criteria for what constitutes a good book as just as varied as the people that read.

Yes, there are certain key points to remember when writing. Things such as spelling mistakes, poor grammar and vocabulary, can all ruin a good story. Editing and proofreading are necessary tools of the trade. But since people’s preferences in their reading choices are so varied, how does an author know how to write a “good book”?

The best answer I’ve come up with is this: an author usually writes for one of two reasons. They have a particular message they wish to share, or they have a creative imagination that likes to make up stories. Sometimes they combine both.

In either case, the author wants to connect in some way with their readers. I think perhaps the best way to do that is to simply write from the heart, as if writing for yourself. Write something that you would enjoy reading. At least that is what works for me.

Since there are so many curious minds out there seeking advice on writing, for this week’s #FridayForwards post, I decided to do things a little differently. Instead of listing books, I decided to share a few links to a few blogs of other authors. These authors share tips and advice about writing on occasion that are well worth looking into for those considering taking on the journey of becoming an author, as well as those already on that journey.

I hope you’ll take a moment and check out these blogs. And make sure to leave a comment. We all love to hear from our readers, and the feedback helps us to improve in our work.

Keep on writing, and have a great weekend! – Amber

Blogs:

Timothy Pike of “Dream, Play, Write” http://theimportanceofbeingedited.wordpress.com/

Lisette Brodey, author http://lisettebrodey.com/category/blog/

Melissa Foster, author http://www.melissafoster.com/resources-for-writers/

#FridayForwards #authors #writing #TBSU

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When asked in a casual conversation what I did for a living, I replied, “I am an author”. I had just published my first book, and I admit that I felt a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in hearing myself say the words. The reply however, was not what I expected. The words, “Oh, living the easy life. It must nice to just work when you feel like it, ” rang out in my ears like a jack-hammer. I thought to myself, “Are you serious”? I thought about a quote I once read: “It is only when you open your veins and bleed onto the page a little that you establish contact with your reader…” (from “Confessions of a Story Writer” by Paul Gallico, author of “The Poseidon Adventure” and  “Lou Gehrig: Pride of the Yankees”)

When an author writes, they are exposing a part of themselves to the world. One never knows what kind of reviews (if any at all) their work will receive. What if people hate it? Or even worse, what if no one ever reads it at all? There is an endless list of fears (both real and imagined) that can fill an authors head.

I will fear no evil

So what does an author do to overcome those fears and put the pen to the paper? Some do nothing, and those words stay locked up inside forever.  I chose to “do it afraid”. I felt like if I tried to keep those words inside, my head would explode. So I just started writing. To change Mr. Gallico’s words slightly, I opened my heart and let it bleed onto the pages.

Most of the authors I know work in that way. They write because they love it. They write the words that are in their hearts and minds. It is not an easy way to make a living. In fact, most authors work at other jobs to pay their bills, at least in the beginning. But it is a great reward to see the fruit of your labors in print, especially if others are sharing it by spreading the word about it.

Which brings me to this week’s #FridayForwards, and a message to all the authors out there: Keep writing, FEARLESSLY! And when you find something you enjoy, PLEASE SHARE IT!

The Wolf of Tebron by C.S. LakinThe Wolf of Tebron by C.S. Laskin. C.S. Lakin’s first novel in The Gates of Heaven series is about the journey of Joran in his quest to find his wife. Along the way, he is joined by a huge wolf, Ruyah, who soon becomes Joran’s companion, friend and teacher. It’s written in classic fairytale style, where magic, fantasy, and the forces of good and evil abound. Rich in vibrant language, adventure, personification, and more, this allegory offers the reader more than just a thrilling story. As Lakin says, “Joran’s journey inspires and encourages readers to focus on our deep purpose and meaning in life.”

 

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. LewisThe Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. A classic masterpiece of religious satire that entertains readers with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to “Our Father Below.” At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging account of temptation—and triumph over it—ever written.

 

 

1 book coverFaith, Hope & Miracles by Amber Leggette-Aldrich. A tragic snowmobile accident that resulted in the death of 8 year old Christian Aldrich is just the beginning. Miraculously revived over 40 minutes later, there was still little reason to believe that this child would survive, let alone fully recover. What Christian describes about his experience with death and heaven has had a profound impact on many. Faith, Hope & Miracles is a true story about a family’s 18 month journey through tragedy and blessings. It is a story of hope and encouragement. Anyone who has lost a loved one, suffered in agonizing pain, or felt desperate and alone will appreciate this straightforward account which describes in detail what Christian and his family went through, and the true miracles they witnessed.

Have a great weekend and God bless! – Amber

#FridayForwards #TBSU #Authors #Books

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Help 4 authors

It’s Friday again, already? Seems like time just flies on by these days. At least there were a few things crossed off the “to do” list. At this time of year, for me, there are usually more things added to the list than accomplished.

A few things that I did accomplish was to complete a few reviews, finished the outline for my upcoming book, along with the first two chapters, and the #FridayForwards list for this week.

As stated in the post last week, being an author involves a lot of hard work and diligence. One of the hardest and most time consuming aspects is the promotions and marketing. On the other hand, one of the most rewarding aspects is engagement with our readers.

Our readers mean a great deal to us. After all, if it wasn’t for the readers, there would be no reason for writing. And we absolutely love to hear from you! Whether it’s in the form of an honest review on Amazon, or comments left on our blogs, or meeting you in person at a book signing event, it is a great encouragement and reward for an author to make those connections.

It is also very much appreciated when our work is shared with others. That is the main reason that this #FridayForwards was started, to share. So I’m asking for your help in spreading the word about these authors, and helping to share their work. It only takes a few minutes, and it means so much!

Also, if you have any suggestions or comments you’d like to share, I would love to hear from you!

Thanks, and have an awesome weekend! – Amber

Stage Wars by Mary E HanksStage Wars by Mary E. Hanks. During an onstage sword fight, rivals, Shem Michaels and TJ Fortine, crash through the trap door straight into Professor Plunkmeyer’s whirling time machine. Thrown into medieval battles, they must either find a way to help each other or die. Can they survive? Perhaps, even become friends? (Ages 10+)

 

 

Beyond My Control by Stuart Ross McCallumBeyond My Control: One Man’s Struggle With Epilepsy, Seizure Surgery & Beyond by Stuart Ross McCallum. Stuart Ross McCallum shares a true account of his battle with epilepsy-beginning with the peculiar sensations he experienced as a teenager that led to his diagnosis and concluding with his eventual recovery from a temporal lobe lobectomy.McCallum vividly describes his twenty-year journey of living with epilepsy and how this unpredictable disease has not only impacted his life but the lives of everyone around him.

 

The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David ManuelThe Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall. Peter Marshall and David Manuel explore the Christian foundations of American history, considering God’s special role in America’s creation and its implications for today.

 

 

 

#FridayForwards #TBSU #Authors

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As an author, I know all too well the struggles of promoting and marketing our work. It can be grueling work, and sometimes down right frustrating. But the joy and rewards of sharing what we do as an artist is well worth the effort!

I came across this on Facebook this morning, and I think it explains things quite well. Remember, artists of all kinds do what they do because they are sharing a piece of their heart. You can show appreciation for what they do by helping to spread the word about their work, give reviews, and of course, buying their creations.

The Heart of an Artist

In honor of a few author friends, I’m beginning a “Fridays Forwards”, to help them share their work. And so, for this week: (Click on the images for the links to purchase on Amazon.)

Butterfly Fields

Butterfly Fields by Twylla Carlson

Set in the foothills of a thriving cattle ranch, this story begins the journey of a naïve young woman dealing with a family tragedy that will change her life forever. Through the unexpected struggles of others she finds healing and a new awareness of the evil in her world while discovering that divine intervention surrounds her daily.

 

 

 

 

 

Out from the Shadows

Out from the Shadows by Pamela Thorson

Caregivers live in the daily shadows of death, countless duties, and shattered dreams. But they don’t have to exist in the shadows of their faith.

Nurse and veteran caregiver Pam Thorson offers weary families hope and insights gained from her own struggles. Out from the Shadows is a collection of thirty-one stories that pull back the veil on the unique joys and challenges of caregiving. Each devotion draws from the author’s own experiences to reveal a fresh understanding of Jesus’ call upon our lives as we care for others.

 

 

Seumas book cover 1

Self-Publishing Steps to Successful Sales by Seumas Gallacher

A self-publisher with over 75,000 sales/downloads explains in simple steps how he uses the social networks and ePublishing to enhance sales of his books on the Web and in hard copy.
As always, if you see something you like, please feel free to share away. And if you have any recommendations you’d like to share, you may do that also by leaving a link in the comments section.
Blessings to all, and have a great weekend! – Amber
#FridayForward #TBSU #Authors #amwriting

 

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What an author does

Writing is like giving birth, but the labor lasts much longer.

I have realized that the experience of becoming an author has been similar to giving birth. First, I was pregnant with the thoughts, feelings and ideas. They grew inside me like a new baby. I shared some of this with family and friends, the way a pregnant woman would let people rub her tummy to feel the baby kick.

I nourished my writing by reading and learning, and forming friendships with other authors. I began researching the writing industry and learning everything I could on the subject, along with information about publishing, marketing and promotion. In this way, it was similar to what is referred to as “nesting”, when a woman “prepares” for the coming arrival; cleaning and setting up the nursery, and getting all the necessary supplies on hand.

Then it was time to give birth.

The actual writing part came naturally enough, though there were some minor complications. I got stuck with my words several times. During the process, I ended up erasing entire pages, at times on purpose, and accidentally at times. There were times when I felt so frustrated and began to think that I might never finish my book. But just like being pregnant, you know the baby can’t stay in there forever.

Finally, my book was completed. Victory! And I felt very proud of this accomplishment. It took a lot of hard work, dedication and determination, but it had become a reality. I could hold it in my hands, my “baby”.

Then came the job of raising the baby, getting the word out and promoting it to the world. That was even harder than the giving birth! Naturally my new “baby” was eagerly accepted by my family and friends. But if that is the only audience to buy your book, you are going to need another job to support yourself.

Of course, several people in my inner circle spread the word about my new book to their family and friends. But let’s face it, I am no super-star with thousands of followers.

I needed some serious help in getting the word out, to promote myself and my book. As I had been reading and learning about the marketing industry, I learned about using social media and networking. It is much more than just posting a few ads on Facebook and Twitter and such. (I’ll be covering more on that later.)

Through social media I began to make new friendships, many of which were with seasoned authors. And to my surprise, quite a few were very willing to share tips of the trade and some much needed guidance on what to do next. Many of these fine and generous people even bought my book and promoted it to their own fans! And while my book may not be on the best-seller list in New York yet, I was quite honored to receive the mentions and lovely reviews.

One aspect I learned from all of this is about the concepts of “pay back” and “pay it forward”. The “pay back” is kind of a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back” sort of thing, where authors cross-promote each other’s works. The “pay it forward” is where someone helps out a new author, without any expectations of returning the favor. It is simply a way of giving a new author or new book some support, and perhaps opening a door to new avenues for them.

This brings me to the point of my post today.

It has been my privilege to make friends with a few Christian authors that are about to release their new books. As my way of saying “thank you for your friendship”, I will be doing a few guest posts, interviews and reviews with these authors over the next few weeks.

I am really excited about these new books and the adventures the authors are about to begin! As I said at the beginning of this post, “writing is like giving birth, but the labor lasts much longer”, and I am happy to be a small part of these new births.

I realize that my work alone will not make these books successful bestsellers, so I will be asking for the help of all of my readers to spread the word. It’s not easy being a new parent. And neither is becoming a best-selling author. But with a little help and determination, it can be achieved.

So please join me in welcoming these wonderful upcoming authors and help us in sharing their work, their babies, with the world!

And if you know of any new authors or works that you would like to see promoted, I would be happy to take a look and see what I can do. Just send me a link or a note.

Thank you in advance for your help and support. I look forward to hearing from you, and God bless! – Amber

 

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I began writing many years ago, without having any college training or professional background. I just put down on paper what was in my heart and in my head. Several family members and close friends told me that my writing was very good and that I should consider becoming a writer. But that’s what family and friends always say. So I didn’t take it too seriously.

Then I joined a chat room and began joining in a few of the forums there. It was during a time of political debates and elections, and there was quite a bit of tension and heated arguments in many of the forums. So I began a discussion based on sharing humorous stories about my children and animals, as an attempt to cool things down.

Soon there were several hundred people joining in, leaving comments regarding my writing a book of these stories. Several of the comments were from professional writers, and they were encouraging me to become a writer. Me! A real writer?

I had no knowledge of the writing industry, but I asked questions. And to their credit, I found that these writers were more than willing to educate me. Through their kindness, I found some confidence and encouragement, and I began pondering the idea of becoming a writer.

Of course, the picture I painted in my mind was one of me, sitting at my computer, furiously typing out a best seller in a couple of days, while the phone was ringing with offers and pleas from several publishers. I pictured crowds surrounding me in public, asking for my autograph. And I pictured financial success. (Yes, I know that’s funny, but it’s MY picture, so don’t rain on my parade.)

I bought several books on writing, publishing, agents, and marketing guides. After I finished reading them, I think I was more confused than before I started. And I felt a sense of fear, realizing that I had no idea of what I was doing.

I lost contact with the writers I had met in the chat room when the site was suddenly closed for unknown reasons. And things were changing in my life circumstances that were beyond my control. So for a time, I didn’t give much more thought to writing for a living.

But I kept writing, and sharing stories with friends and family. And my biggest fan was always my mom.

Then a few years ago there was an incident which hospitalized my youngest son. There were many people wanting updates and to share loving prayers, but even texting was difficult. So one of the hospital volunteers arranged for me to get access to a computer and set up a webpage where I could post updates and people could leave messages for us. The site was similar to a blog, and I began posting once or twice a day.

The posts were similar to a journal style of writing, and I included my own thoughts and feelings about what was going on with my son. I was writing to share with our family and friends. But by the end of the first week, there were several hundred people that were following this journal, leaving messages of hope and prayers, and requesting that I continue the posts. There were hundreds of people that I didn’t know, I didn’t even know how they found the site. But it was being spread by word of mouth (or computer links) and it continued to grow.

I was a little overwhelmed when I realized that in a short time, there were almost 4,000 people following this journal. And many of them were thanking me for sharing our story, and repeatedly asking me to consider writing a book about our ordeal. My mom was among them.

Over the next year and a half, I wrote the book, “Faith, Hope & Miracles”. And while I was writing it, I was also learning everything I could about the publishing industry. Without knowing any writers or having any contacts in the industry, I knew that it was not going to be an easy endeavor.

When I finished writing the manuscript, I sent it to my mother and asked her to review it and give an honest critique, along with editing. I knew she had taken a few English and writing courses in college, so I felt confident that she would spot any grammar mistakes and such.

When she called after reading the manuscript, her voice was soft and shaky as she said, “Hon, you are a very gifted writer, and you did an excellent job”. At first I thought her emotions were very strong because of the subject of the book surrounding her own grandson. But it was more than that. She told me of how proud she was of me for completing this work, and that she believed in my ability as a writer.

Even when I confided in her that I had no idea of how to go about getting the book published, she said she had faith in me and that she knew it would happen. And she told me to never give up.

After careful consideration, I had decided to self-publish that book. To accomplish that required learning even more about the publishing and marketing industry than I ever really wanted to know, but I was determined to do it. It was a bit overwhelming and even frightening in some ways, but when the book was finally available for sale, I felt a great sense of satisfaction. And I finally realized that writing was what I wanted to do with my life.

I must say that going about it the way I did to become a writer was probably the hardest way. I highly recommend that anyone wanting to pursue a career in writing start by taking writing and publishing courses, and earning some credentials. It is hard enough for a first book to be a success when you know what you’re doing. But when you are learning as you go, and no one knows anything about you, it’s even harder.

I sent a signed copy to my parents and several other family members and friends. But I’m pretty sure that no one was more proud than my mother. It was a little over 6 months later when I finally was able to go visit, and she had my book proudly on display on her living room coffee table, next to her bible.

On that visit, I shared a few ideas I had for a Christian fiction series, and my mother liked the ideas. She said she looked forward to reading the books, and I knew she would always be my biggest fan.

My mother passed away the day after I came home from that trip, one year ago today.

In this past year, I’ve written a few articles and worked on a couple of different blogs. But when it came to working on the series I had started, I seemed to have developed writer’s block.

I managed to scratch out a few paragraphs now and then, but I just couldn’t find the time to really go after it.

It wasn’t until this morning that I finally realized that I have been feeling an underlying depression. I know it’s perfectly normal to grieve after losing someone you love. And in this past year, I have often missed my mother very much, and I’ve cried. But what I didn’t realize was that somewhere in my mind, my writing was, in a way, connected to her.

It’s funny how our brains work, making associations and connections that we don’t even realize are there.

But I also realized something else this morning. I remembered back to when my son was in the hospital and I began keeping that online journal. I knew as events unfolded in that hospital that there was a miracle that needed to be told. I could feel it in my heart that God wanted for me to share it with others, and I felt compelled to do so. I also felt a sense of pride with my mother’s encouragement to continue writing. But in this past year, I have not been doing what I was led to do. I was not honoring my mother, or God, with my procrastination and lack of commitment.

This day has been hard, and I know there will still be more hard days ahead. I also know that my mother would never have wanted grieving for her to stop me from doing something that is dear to my heart, and something that she was so proud of.

In realizing the connection I feel between my mother and my writing, I know now that I can turn that into a strength. It can be the inspiration to keep writing, even when I can’t think of what to write about. It can be the motivation I need to stay committed to my work, even when I’m too tired. And it can be the strength I need, to pour out my heart on paper, the words of my stories. And it can be a way for me to continue to say, “I love you Mom. Thanks for believing in me”.

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