Monthly Archives: August 2017

Southern Tides Newsletter

This week’s post will be a little different because there is an extra Tuesday and Wednesday in September. It is a sort of newsletter. Next week, we will be back on schedule with flash fiction story.

I want to start by telling you what has been happening on my writing journey. The other day someone said to me. “Everything is going so well for you.” Of course, this made me laugh. I had to confess that was because I only post about the good stuff, but don’t worry I’m not planning on dwelling on the bumps. Let’s just say, there have been lots of disappointments, but as my writing coach told me, “He is the God of the hills and the valleys.” Here are a few highlights from the last couple of months, I got a new agent, Bob Hostetler, and he is amazing. He has written dozens of books and served as a pastor.  His newest book, The Bard and the Bible, won book of the year at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. We are working on proposals for my book and series to send to acquisition’s editors. My flash fiction piece, Croquet Kiss, was published in the August edition of Spark. If you would like to read it, there is a link to Amazon on the right column on my website. Lastly, I have become a blogger which is much harder than I thought it would be. Please bear with me as I learn this new art form.

People are always asking me for book recommendations, so I would love for y’all to check out some of the book reviews on the website. I just added two more. I love to read and my children love to read, so we will all be posting book reviews on Christian fiction books. If you want to learn more about Christian fiction, please check out my post from July. Here is the link: http://lesliedevooght.com/2017/07/christian-fiction/

Lastly, I don’t like to be too serious on here, but I felt called to share this message. Last Sunday I attended the memorial service for a friend who was murdered last week. Yes, you read that correctly, and he didn’t have a dangerous job. He was a chef in an upscale restaurant. He was thirty-seven years old and had two precious children, four and ten. Please pray for this family. Obviously, this shook my perspective on life—what’s important and what’s not. (Probably not soccer. Although, here I sit at the fields for practice two of five for the week.) Friday morning, as my family left for work and school, I wondered would they come home, but God doesn’t want us to live in fear. He wants us walk with him in faith, knowing we will have eternal life. We need to show love to those around us, not just our family and friends, all those around us. We never know when we are planting a seed that will lead someone to Jesus. At the service, my friend’s widow spoke. I wish I could tell you what she said, but I was too emotional to remember the words. All I can say is that she found her strength in Jesus. He lifted her up to speak and seeds were planted.

Seriously, our most important role in this world is serving the Lord and bringing people to Jesus. If you don’t have a relationship with Him, if you don’t know the power He holds for those of us who love him, please reach out to me. Jesus wants to know you. I know my friend is with Him, but I want to be sure you will be there my sweet friends. I will pray with you and love you. For Jesus lovers, how can you show love to someone today? How can we plant seeds?

How to Write Flash Fiction by Kimberly Duffy, editor of Spark

Life is busy. There’s kids, cooking, work, grocery shopping, and all-too-often trips to the ER. Sometimes opening up a good book feels like a vacation—which is probably the only time you have to read.

And then you’re a writer, so you must write. But what do you do when all of those kids and chores and stitches interfere, the clock has struck midnight, and you’re still scraping burnt chicken Cacciatore from the bottom of your frying pan?

Enter Flash fiction.

A story fewer than 1,000 words—complete with a beginning, middle, and end, dialogue, character development, and conflict. All of that in less than an hour.

Flash fiction is my go to when I’ve just finished a big project and need to write without pressure. It’s what I write when I want to experiment with a new genre. It’s what I read when I’m sitting in the preschool drop-off line. It’s where beginning writers go when they need to practice, increase publishing credits, and build a platform. It’s where experienced writers get their book in front of a new audience and refine their craft.

Flash fiction isn’t easy. Have you ever written a synopsis? Did you have to cut that synopsis down by half because telling an entire 85,000 word book in three, double-spaced pages seems impossible? Try telling an entire story in 700 words.

You’ve got to be ruthless with extraneous words, picky with description, and clever with dialogue. Everything must do double duty. Can two characters be combined into one? Do we really need to know the hero has a smoldering gaze and killer biceps? Can you wrap up the story three paragraphs early and leave the reader with only the tantalization of what’s to come?

Here are six tips for writing great flash fiction:

Don’t rely on telling. It’s tempting because it’s so much faster, but the same rules for writing a good novel apply to good flash fiction.

Pick a moment or scene. You can’t tell an entire story, from the meet cute to the HEA, in one or two pages.

Stick to one POV and only a few characters. Less is more with flash fiction. Let us get to know one character well, instead of just barely understanding three.

Eliminate backstory. A line or two sprinkled throughout is enough to tell us what we need, and if it’s not, maybe the backstory is the real story.

Conflict is important. Make sure the character doesn’t get what he wants until the end. It’s just as easy to put down a boring flash fiction piece as a boring novel.

Remove anything nonessential—modifiers, descriptions, adverbs, redundancies, explanations, and boring bits. If it’s not pushing the plot forward, get rid of it.

Everyone wants things that are fast—cars, phones, food, entertainment, and fashion. Most people will not read War and Peace because of the length. Many ignore novels altogether. Flash fiction is a way to capture new readers and it’s a virtually untapped—yet growing—market. So, hurry up and write something short. Something powerful. Something sweet. Something marvelous.

Something written in an hour and read in five minutes can stay with you long after you’ve finished five loads of laundry and brought your child to the hospital for another cast.

You can get e-subscriptions of all three Splickety imprints for free by signing up for our newsletter at www.splickety.com.

Bio: Kimberly Duffy writes historical women’s fiction and romance when she’s not homeschooling her four children. She’s lead editor for Spark Magazine, an imprint of Splickety Publishing Group, and a Genesis semifinalist. In her free time, she scours Goodwill for cute outfits to feature on Instagram and wishes she could drink coffee.

Social media:

http://kimberlyduffy.com/

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKimberlyDuffy/

https://www.instagram.com/welldressedwriter/

https://twitter.com/kimduffyauthor

The Writing Marathon

Writing a book is like running a half-marathon, or at least it was for me. It takes months of daily work, but once you complete either, you know you can do it again. Confidence comes with crossing the finish line. But you can’t finish if you never start. Since I made my writing career public, people tell me all the time that they want to write. I used to be one of those people, so how did I get to be the kind of person who has completed three books? A lot of work—a lot of prayer—some laughs—a few goosebumps—and more tears than you can imagine.

When I was in high school, college, and law school, I would start writing a book, complete about three pages, and then find something easier to do with my spare time, but I never stopped reading novels. Besides saving me from dreams about res ipsa loquitor, it helped me discover the kind of books I would want to write and learn from successful authors. I think that reading is essential to writing, so even if you don’t think you’re ready to write today, be sure you keep reading—maybe jot down your favorite plots or great lines. (See you’re writing already.)

My first story came to me on a run, it poured out of some place in the back of my brain. I dashed home, and stood, dripping sweat onto the first spiral notebook I could find as I wrote the outline. It took me another year to write my first draft because I was working two part-time jobs as a lawyer and a judge, raising three kids, and serving as PTA president. I only say that because most people say they can’t write because they are too busy.

Friends, you will always be too busy unless you decide to carve out the time. But give yourself grace, you don’t have to write the whole book in one month. I heard one author say, he wrote his first book, only writing on Saturdays for a year. Another author suggests writing one page a day, and by the end of the year, you will have written 365 pages. (By the way, that’s longer than any book I’ve written.) One of my favorite suggestions is from author Allie Pleiter in her book, The Chunky Method Handbook. She says to write one index card a day.

Here are some of my suggestions. Write an outline or a synopsis that you can work from but don’t be surprised when your characters take you on a different journey. Try to write one scene a day. I also like to keep a scene idea file on my computer if I know I’m going to write a story about something specific. Recently, I printed my scene file for a Christmas book and realized, all I needed to do was throw the scenes together into order to write the book. (Sounds easy, right? I’m still on the first chapter.)

Always, always, always have a notebook with you to jot down ideas. You never know when inspiration is going to hit, and if you’re like me, I’ll forget that brilliant line about five minutes later. Sometimes I have my children or husband write down lines, while I’m driving. (Don’t ask what I do when I’m driving alone.) On that note, put a recording app on your phone, so you can “write” and drive safely. Schedule a time to write—it could be fifteen minutes or two hours, but schedule it like you would an important meeting.

Remember you are merely writing a rough draft. You don’t have to show it to anyone, and I don’t really recommend that. (Remember my first book—well it is still on the shelf, waiting for a major edit, and this week I will be doing the fifth or sixth edit on my current novel.) You will need some major editing. It is all part of the process, but more about that next month. I plan to post writing tips once a month, so get your index cards, schedule some time, and come back for more tips. After two years of reading craft books, I am overflowing with knowledge I would love to share with you.

In the meantime, here are five of my favorite writing craft books:

  • The Emotion Thesaurus – Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
  • Writing the Breakout Novel – Donald Maass
  • Goal, Motivation, and Conflict – Debra Dixon
  • Deep Point of View – Marcy Kennedy
  • Write a Novel in a Month – Jeff Gerke

© Leslie DeVooght 2017

Don’t Push Me

My two-year old niece proclaims, “patience is waiting with a happy heart.” Apparently, I gave her mother the book In This House, We Will Giggle by Courtney DeFeo. (DeFeo, Courtney. “Chapter 5,” In this House, We Will Giggle: Making Virtues, Love, and Laughter a Daily Part of Your Family Life, WaterBrook Press, 2014, p. 97) My family studied one virtue a month from this book, but I’m pretty sure we need a remedial course.

We all need what we want and we need it now, and I’m left thanking God for Amazon Prime and two-day shipping. But it’s not just things—we want answers, results instantaneously. The world is interested in instant results—the faster the better, but as Christians aren’t we supposed to be content with God’s timing?

I recently began studying John’s Gospel to prepare to teach Middle School Sunday School. (My students would probably prefer that I spend my time purchasing more candy to encourage participation.) By the way, if you want to practice patience, work with middle schoolers. I’m reading each chapter in the Message and the New International Version.

In the second chapter of the Message version, Jesus says to his mother, “This is not my time. Don’t push me.” (John 2:4)

Something about Jesus telling his mother to be patient struck me. Isn’t Jesus all the time telling me to wait? “This isn’t your time. When it happens in My time, My way, it will be so much better than you ever imagined, and you will give God the glory.”

But, fellow tiger moms don’t you know Mary wanted to respond: “Are you serious? I know who you are and where you came from. People have been gossiping about me for years. Show them what you can do.” And Jesus did give her a miracle, turning water into wine, but only the servants knew about it. Amazing, I think if I performed a miracle, it’d be all over Facebook and Twitter in about a minute, but not our Lord. He knew that God planned everything with perfect timing for maximum impact.

And in chapter seven, Jesus’ brothers prod him to “show himself to the world.” (NIV John 7:4)

But Jesus responds, “The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil. You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast because for me the right time has yet to come.” (NIV John 7:6-8) Jesus stood strong, waiting for His time. Having faith in God’s perfect plan.

I don’t know about you, but I can be patient for a while, but then I’m ready to make things happen. Surely, God needs me to move things along—maybe that’s His plan. Probably not, but oh, the waiting. Friends we can’t do it on our own.

When I get to this place, I know the only answer is prayer. I need God’s strength to fight my impatience. And if I’m honest with myself, which I loathe, I know that my impatience is just a manifestation of my lack of faith. But I know “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (NIV Hebrews 11:1). God is refining me and making me into the writer, mother, teacher, wife that can best serve His kingdom, and with Jesus’ help, I can be patient. (Even right this second, when my boys are screaming at each other in the other room over a game of Risk. Ahhhh. Breathe.)

God’s timing brings the best for His kingdom. I find this perspective freeing because it isn’t about me, it’s about Him. Who are you serving God or the world? For whose glory are you living? Friends, go to God, ask for discernment, and then yes, “wait with a happy heart.”

 

© 2017 Leslie DeVooght

Flash Fiction: The Superhero of Short Stories

 As many of you know, my first Flash Fiction piece will be published this month in Spark magazine, an imprint of Splickety Publications. But you may have wondered: What’s Leslie up to? I thought she was writing a novel, and what’s this flash fiction business? I am currently editing my book, but flash fiction is a way to write something short and get published. I think you will enjoy reading these stories.

With my story coming out soon, I wanted to take a minute to explain what flash fiction is and why you should read it. (Later this month, I will be posting a blog by one of my friends about writing flash fiction, so this is for the readers.) Flash fiction is defined as a complete story written in between 700-1000 words, so no more excuses about not having time to read. It is quick and fulfilling—escape for a few minutes. If I know some of you, your favorite part of English class was studying short stories. Well, these are even shorter—saved by Flash Fiction! They can be in any genre from speculative to romance, so you can find something that interests you. Like my full-length books, my story is a romance set in the Golden Isles of Georgia, but it takes place on Jekyll Island and is historic so a slight departure for me.

There are websites and magazines filled with these very short stories. Splickety offers a free online subscription and a blog that posts more stories. Now, who doesn’t love getting something for free. For all you folks who like to hold it in your hands, you can order a hard copy of the magazine. Here’s the link: http://splickety.com/ . This month’s issue will be out soon, so hop on over and sign up. You won’t be disappointed. What do you have to lose? It’s free and easy.

I will be posting a new flash fiction story the first week of each month on this website, so I hope you’ll come back next month and check it out or sign up for my blog. (also, free! Yay!) Of course, this will require story ideas, and I would love some help. They will be romances because that’s what I do. What characters would you like to see tossed together? Interesting setting ideas or scenarios—leave a comment. I can’t wait to hear your ideas.

© 2017 LeslieDevooght