Facebook party Wednesday! Filling the creative well.
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January 2018: In This Issue

  • Happy NEW year! 
  • ACFW Fiction Finder interview
  • Events/classes
  • Another Facebook party invitation
  • Playing by Heart price increase coming soon
  • Filling the creative well
  • Review thank yous

Happy NEW year!

     Hope the new year has gotten off to a great start for you. I don't make resolutions, but the last few years I've chosen a "word of the year"--a word to be my theme or focus. I was having trouble picking one when I saw a post about an online word of the year generator. The program picked the word "NEW" for me, which felt perfect. I've been tinkering with a NEW approach to goal setting and task planning. My new process is still evolving. We'll see how it goes. 

ACFW Ficton Finder interview

     I was honored to be interviewed by the talented Teresa Haugh for the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Fiction Finder website. Unlike the other interviews I've done so far for Playing by Heart, Teresa interviewed me by phone. (The others were all via email.) I love that she asked some atypical questions, too, such as how my faith/spiritual life affect my storytelling. The interview, which was posted on January 8, accurately describes me as a "research fiend." You can read it here.  

     Speaking of ACFW, the Chicago chapter now has an official website. The site includes a page highlighting local authors and you can find a link to my website there. If you're a writer, check out their 2018 Writing Competition and their upcoming meeting schedule. I'll be presenting to the group in April. 


    On Wednesday, January 10, I gave my first talk of the year at the Windy City Romance Writers of America (RWA) chapter meeting. We had some terrific discussion on the topic of "Coping with Your Inner Critic." I'd like to extend a special welcome to the new subscribers who signed up for this newsletter at the meeting. Hope you find it helpful. And thank you to Cathy Velasco for snapping the following photo:

    On Saturday, February 24, I'll be one of the local authors participating in Anderson's 16th Annual Children's Literature Breakfast, and both my novels will be available for purchase that day. See this page for details and registration information.

     Since March is women's history month, I'm currently scheduling presentations about the two amazing 18th-century sisters who inspired Playing by Heart, composer Maria Teresa Agnesi and mathematician Maria Gaetana Agnesi. If you know anyone who may be interested in a personal or Skype talk on the topic, please let me know.

     I also have events and classes scheduled in April and May that I'll talk about in future newsletters. If you like to plan ahead, you can find links to info about them on my website on the Blog & Events page or the Classes/For Writers page.

Another Facebook party invitation

     This Wednesday, January 31, I'll be co-hosting the Facebook Launch Party celebrating Susan Miura's new young-adult contemporary Christian novel, Healer. The party takes place online 5:30-7:00 pm Central Time. There will be lots of great prizes, including a copy of my novel, Playing by Heart, and fellow Vinspire Publishing author Amy Cattapan's Angelhood. You can read Amy's review of Healer here. And you can RSVP to the party here. I hope you'll join us.

Playing by Heart price increase coming soon

    As I type this, the paperback price for Playing by Heart is still $15.99, but my publisher is working on raising it to $16.99. If you've been planning to buy the book for yourself, or as a gift, you may want to save $1 and order it now, wherever books are sold. 

     If you'd like an autographed bookplate to place in your book, let me know. I'll be happy to mail one to you, along with a bookmark.

Filling the creative well

     Last month, I shared three of my creativity-nurturing goals for the new year. (If you missed that newsletter, you can read it online here.)  My #1 goal was to make more time for uninterrupted writing. By "uninterrupted writing" I mean writing without stopping to check emails, answer phone calls, do laundry, etc. Since it's really hard for me to resist temptations, this  usually requires getting out of the house. Last week, I did just that. I spent the day at the Tau Center, where I had a quiet room all to myself plus access to a small kitchen that contained a microwave, coffeemaker, hot water dispenser, and refrigerator. I brought my own lunch, snacks, and tea bags so I didn't have to leave all day. It was marvelous! By the end of the day I finally had a finished draft of the short story I've mentioned in this newsletter before. Yay! The story still needs work, but now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

     I snapped the photo below in my retreat room because I really liked the quote from Tolkien. It wasn't until I went to post the picture on Instagram that I noticed I'd also captured the reflection of a print that hung on the opposite wall.    

     One of the lovely things about going to the Tau Center for my uninterrupted writing was that it also allowed me to work on my second creativity-nurturing goal: filling the well. The center has an abundance of artwork and displays meant to make you pause, notice, and reflect. (I share another photo taken there at the end of this newsletter.)

     Although most people tend to think of January as a "quiet" month, it hasn't been one for me. I've been busy planning speaking engagements, pitching freelance writing assignments, coordinating the TeachingAuthors blog, and working with a team organizing a multi-author anthology. As a result, I've been a bit distracted. I was appalled to think I didn't notice the reflection in the above picture until much later. What's happened to my powers of observation? 

     I asked myself the same question again a few days later, when my husband and I were at Oakbrook Center Mall. He stopped and commented on how unusual it was to see a fountain running in the dead of winter, especially one filled with ice. I could hardly believe it--I'd noticed the fountain, but not the ice!

     Being an excellent observer is key to creativity. I wrote a bit last month about how important it is to explore new sights, sounds, and experiences in order to have material to draw from for our characters, settings, and plots. If we don't do that, our work becomes stale. But sometimes, even when I do go out, I seem to have blinders on, as I did when I missed seeing the ice in the fountain. I'm keeping the above photo as a reminder to take my blinders off and really be present to the world around me. I hope the photo can do the same for you. 

     Here's my creativity tip for this month: ask yourself what specific, actionable, step can you take to boost your creativity in the coming month? Is it setting aside a specific time and place to work uninterrupted? Or maybe it's to do something that fills your creative well?

Then make plans to take that step! 

Review thank yous

     I'm no longer sharing review excerpts in this newsletter, but I do want to say a big THANK YOU to anyone who took time to review Playing by Heart this month. I have several new Goodreads reviews and I'm now up to
32 Amazon reviews. (Still short of my publisher's goal of 50, though.)       


    To close, I'd like to leave you with one last photo from the Tau Center. Seeing this display in the hall right outside my room felt like Synchronicity, as it depicts another theme I'm trying to focus on lately: to create with JOY.
I hope all our creative endeavors will be truly joy-filled this year!

Happy creating!


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