When I’m working on a story, I like to have pictures of my characters out where I can see them. I have a sandwich board sign that I use for book signings, but the rest of the time, it’s covered with the characters from my recent work in progress.
Here is my character inspiration for Captives, the dystopian novel I’m writing for Zonderkidz. I sometimes have the tendency to pick famous people who pop into my head and are easy to find pictures for. Sometimes I spend a lot of time on iStockPhoto or Shutterstock looking for characters. FYI, you don’t have to pay for images you print out and look at in your home. You only have to pay for images you are going to put on a product and sell. You also have to be careful putting images on your blog.
So what do you think of my character board? You can click on it to see a larger image and zoom in.
I try to find a few pictures of each main character with different expressions. Have you ever made a character board?
It’s been a wild few months for this writer girl!
Here’s what’s been happening.
Book Tour: If you live near Austin, TX; Atlanta, GA; Jacksonville, FL; or Nashville, TN, please plan to come and visit me on Zondervan’s Warmer Days, Darker Nights book tour! I’m not going alone, either. My very good company will be authors Bill Myers and Heather Burch. For more information on the dates and locations, click here.
That got me thinking about giving autographs to people. I can be really forgetful, so I’ll have to make note of the verses I like to write in each book so I can avoid something like this: I want to avoid something like this:
Writing: I turned in the first book in a 4-book YA spy kid series I’m going to publish with Jeff Gerke and Marcher Lord Press. The first book, The New Recruit, is the very first book I ever wrote, so I’m pretty excited to see it in print. I just found out Kirk DouPonce will be designing the covers for the series. Kirk designed the Blood of Kings covers, so I’m pumped to work with him again. The New Recruit will come out sometime this fall.
The To Darkness Fled podcast: I’m doing good on this. I’ve just finished recording chapter 19 last night. Almost halfway done! If you haven’t been listening, you have start with the first book here.
What Readers are Saying about Replication:
“Replication is a great story, full of exciting and dramatic twists. If you like suspenseful, meaningful stories, you will love this one. I highly recommend it for both adults and teens.” –Melanie Dickerson, author of Merchant’s Daughter and Healer’s Apprentice
“The mesmerizing depth of character Williamson’s readers have come to expect is woven deftly into Replication, with extra layers of gripping suspense and twisting mystery. I did not intend to stay up reading this book until the early morning hours, but that was the result.” –J.R. Parker, author of Kestrel’s Midnight Song
I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while now. Clones, a secret facility, nefarious purposes, and a very good lesson about faith, one that actually snuck up on me when I wasn’t looking. The plot has a lot of great twists and turns to it, plus a lot of excitement to keep you turning the pages. In short, if you’re looking for a great read, you can’t go wrong with Replication. –John Otte, author of Failstate
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVED Replication! Excellent job. It’s not a genre I read, and I thoroughly enjoyed every word. –Ann
Just finished and it was GREAT!!!! Wow!!! It had me from the first page. I was instantly worried about “Marty” and it really made me think about how some can even think of doing research on humans and how they can think even cloning is right or testing on them is right. A powerful book. –Terri
This book just might have turned me into a sci-fi fan. The story definitely turned me into a Jill Williamson fan. I had no idea where the next page, paragraph, word might take me. Replication is masterfully done, with enough suspense to keep me up past bedtime and enough sweetness to make me smile and laugh along with the characters. –Rachelle
This book has action, romance, suspense and …clones. Lots of them! I loved this book. I was afraid I’d be let down after reading the amazing “Blood of Kings” trilogy but Williamson did not disappoint. She took an outlandish story and made it totally believable. 5 stars! I think I have a new favorite author. –Tattie
I loved this book!! I have been following Jill Williamson’s writing since I found her Blood of King’s trilogy and read through it, and I have to say I now enjoy her writing even more! I truly enjoyed the excitement and adventure that this book has to offer and would recommend this book as a good read for them. –Anthony Crafton
I have to admit, I’m not a sci-fi fan, but a friend recommended this and all I can say is WOW!! I was awed by the creativity of the plot line, and the clone’s reaction to the real world made for wonderful laugh-out-loud humor. This is a book teens will love, and adults will steal from them to read. –Dyan
Edge of the seat thriller! Non-stop action, a No. 1 YA (young adult) treat. –Bill Tillman
It can be so easy to get caught up in wanting more. Every now and then I need to remind myself that God gives me exactly what I need. This video is one of my favorite reminders of that promise.
Heather Burch is a wonderful person and writer. I became friends with her online when she partnered with Novel Teen for a while, and then I got to be her roommate at the 2011 ACFW conference in St. Louis. It was such a fun time with both of us having new books coming out from Zonderkidz. And we got to meet our editor Jacque Alberta and other authors like Melanie Dickerson!
Yesterday, Today Team Novel Teen, toured Heather’s first book, Halflings. Click here to see that post and look for the links at the bottom to see what the other reviewers had to say about Halflings.
Keep in mind, Heather is giving away a copy of her book! So be sure and enter at the bottom of this post to try and win a copy.
Heather, thanks so much for agreeing to do an interview on my blog. I’m so excited to talk with you today and to congratulate you on your success with Halflings! I’d like to dig into your story a bit and see where all this talent was hiding. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to write. My first story was when I was about six or so. My mom thought it was cute and sent it to our local paper. They actually published it. (Um, did I mention we lived in a small town?) The story was about going to the beach in Florida… which is actually kinda funny cuz I live in Florida now. I don’t remember what it was called. But I bet its still in my mom’s house somewhere.
Though I always wanted to write, the idea of novels seemed so far beyond my reach. But I married into a family who wrote novels and I realized normal people could do that. I started my first book right away!
Was it hard work?
In the beginning it wasn’t hard because I didn’t have a commitment level. If I got bored, I set it aside. Once I decided to treat writing like a full time job (putting in forty hours a week) it became harder in some ways. But I’d waited so long to be able to do that, it kept me fueled and in the chair.
What was your biggest obstacle as you learned to become a writer?
Myself. I’m constantly thinking something isn’t good enough. But I have an amazing support team around me that keep me moving forward.
What do you consider one of your biggest life adventures?
Going to Germany was an amazing adventure. I traveled there alone then met up with other women who were part of my group. But getting off the plane in busy Frankfurt and nothing being in English was crazy. It was one amazing trip and the reason the Halflings ancestral home is near Baden, Baden Germany! I can’t wait to return. I hope I get to one day soon.
Halflings is a great story. Heather book is X-men meets Cinderella, which is so much fun! Here’s a blurb about Halflings:
After being inexplicably targeted by an evil intent on harming her at any cost, seventeen-year-old Nikki finds herself under the watchful guardianship of three mysterious young men who call themselves halflings. Sworn to defend her, misfits Mace, Raven, and Vine battle to keep Nikki safe while hiding their deepest secret—and the wings that come with. A growing attraction between Nikki and two of her protectors presents a whole other danger. While she risks a broken heart, Mace and Raven could lose everything, including their souls. As the mysteries behind the boys’ powers, as well as her role in a scientist’s dark plan, unfold, Nikki is faced with choices that will affect the future of an entire race of heavenly beings, as well as the precarious equilibrium of the earthly world.
Heather, in your book, Mace really likes Nikki, but it’s against the law for him to consider a relationship with her. Lots of parents have the “no dating until you’re ___ years old” rule. What advice would you give teens that like someone but aren’t allowed to date?
It’s hard to be in that position, but allow yourself to enjoy your time learning about you. You are a complicated, ever-changing being. You’re the most interesting person you’ll ever meet! Learn about yourself. Explore what you like/dislike and loathe. As you become the woman/man you’re destined to be, you’ve already got an advantage over others. So many young people become a mirror of their boyfriend/girlfriend. And that’s sad because no one else on the planet can be you! If there’s a guy you’re especially drawn to, go the friends route. The very strongest relationships begin as friends.
That’s great advice, Heather. Any real-life adventures planned for the near future?
Going on book tour is just a huge adventure. I can’t wait to be traveling to other cities and meeting readers. It can’t get here quick enough!
I know! I’m so excited too. I wonder if we’ll be roommates again? What new fictional adventure are you working on now?
Book Two in the Halflings Series is titled Guardian. It releases in September. It was a blast to write and I think Halfling fans are going to enjoy the journey. I’m working on book three right now, and it’s coming along. Book three ties up all the loose ends, so I’m spending my time making sure I don’t miss any little thread.
Eeek! I can’t wait, Heather! The whole thing is so exciting. Thanks for coming on my blog to talk about it. And, readers, this is your chance to win a free copy of Halflings, book one! You can enter below. And if you have any questions for Heather, feel free to ask them in the comment section. And be sure to check out her Halflings Network and become a member.
To enter, leave a comment or “like” one of the three Facebook pages: Heather Burch Books, GoodTeenReads, or Jill Williamson.
This is where I spend most of my days. Got any questions about something you see?
Click on the image to see a bigger version that you can zoom in on.
How about you? Post a picture of your desk and tag me in the comments.
4. Choose a life verse and/or write a mission statement for my life and career.
Coming up with a life verse seemed like a daunting task. I mean, the bible is thick! And it’s all good stuff. How could I narrow that whole book down to one or two verses and claim them as my mantra for life?
But choosing a life verse doesn’t mean I couldn’t read the rest of the bible! (Duh, Jill.) Nor would it mean that I couldn’t change my life verse if I wanted to. And I love the idea of having a verse that encourages me continually and reminds me who I am. With those thoughts in mind, I decided to give this a go.
I’m glad I decided to do this after having written out my mission statement because it gave me some insight to my character and life goals. I wanted to choose a verse that complimented my mission statement. So I started by looking up verses that contained keywords from my mission statement. But I also listed some of my favorite verses. And here’s the thing. At first, I couldn’t just keep it to one verse. I wanted to choose a life passage instead! But after thinking on it for a week, I realized I was doing the Jill thing of making everything more complicated than necessary.
So I went back to looking for one verse. The verse for my job was easier because I wanted it to say something about my calling as a writer. I chose Psalm 96:3. (Another thing that’s cool about this verse is that the address is in multiples of three, so it will always be easy to remember: 9, 6, 3!)
Psalm 96:3 “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.”
The King James version says, “Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people.” The word “heathen” gives the perspective that when the NIV says “nations” it’s talking about non believers. I try to write for believers and non believers, which doesn’t always work.
But this verse really sums up why I started writing and why I still write today. I want to created books for teens that don’t ignore God’s existence. So, even though my books aren’t always loved–especially by those who don’t believe in God–they are true to my new mission statement and life verse. That gives me comfort and affirms what I’m doing. Nice!
For my life verse, I really wanted a verse that reminded me of who God is and what he desires from me at all times. “Love” was my answer, but I wanted something that I could read or recite in times of trouble (anger, jealousy, hurt) that would remind me instantly of God’s desires for my actions (or reactions).
My overall life verse: Romans 12:10 “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
I also really liked Galatians 5:6, Nehemiah 9:17, 1 John 4:16, Romans 5:5, and 1 John 2:6.
How about you? Do you have a life verse or passage? If so, what is it?
“The purpose of LIFE is a LIFE of purpose.” –Robert Byrne
“LIFE is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it.” –Chuck Swindoll
“Every man dies. Not every man really LIVES.” –William Wallace
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal LIFE.” –John 3:16 (NIV)
“Breathe on me, breathe oh Breath of LIFE.” –Newsboys
“LIFE is a long lesson in humility.” –James M. Barrie
“The Christian LIFE is not a constant high. I have my moments of deep discouragement. I have to go to God in prayer with tears in my eyes, and say, ‘O God, forgive me,’ or ‘Help me.’” –Billy Graham
“This is your LIFE. Are you who you want to be?” –Switchfoot
4. Choose a life verse and/or write a mission statement for my life and career.
At the beginning of the year, I wrote a post called Ten Adventures to Try in 2012. As I attempt each adventure throughout the year, I’ll blog about them to let you know how it went. Number four turned out to be more complicated than expected. So I’m talking about mission statements today and will cover life verses next week.
I heard about mission statements while participating in an online seminar from Thomas Umstattd. Thomas is a wordpress developer, social media coach, and a fun and smart fellow. He helps authors and small business sell more books and make more money online using tools like Twitter, Blogging and Facebook, and his company did my new website! (How’s it look, btw?)
Thomas keeps his mission statement at the top of his To Do list so he can see it daily. It not only reminds him of his goal at work, it’s helped him say no to worthwhile opportunities that are outside his mission.
Here is Thomas’ mission statement: To help the Church use technology to advance the Kingdom, until the seasons change.
Dictionary.com defines mission statement as an official statement of the aims and objectives of a business of other organization.
So all I needed to do was write a plan that stated my goals for my life and career. It would be my road map through life. My compass.
But I got thinking, in today’s busy world, it’s important to keep work and personal life separate. This is especially difficult for me since I work at home. I don’t want my kids to grow up with a mom who never got up out of her office chair. My kids need their mom. My husband needs his wife. And so I chose to write two mission statements: one for work and one for my personal life.
There are dozens of websites out there that talk about how to write a mission statement. Stephen R. Covey wrote a book called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and created a website to help people write a mission statement at the Franklin Covey site. I tried it. It was kind of fun. But the end result was a page of text. I’m a girl. I have emotional days. And I already have a massive To Do list. All I really wanted was a simple statement to remind me—when I need motivation—of my plan on earth. A full page of text overwhelmed me.
Here are some questions I answered in coming up with mine. I answered each question twice: once for my personal life and once for my career.
1. What legacy do I want to leave behind (for my family, for my readers)?
2. What are my long range goals (for my family, for my readers)?
3. My roles in (my family, my career) are…
4. What is my purpose (in life, in my career)?
5. What are the values that I stand for? (And this answer should be the same at work and in your personal life.)
I spent some time putting it together. Your mission statement isn’t supposed to make you feel guilty, so be positive. Then set it aside for a few days. The best mission statements are short. One to five sentences are all you need, so take some time to write, rewrite, and edit your statement down until it’s perfect.
Family Mission Statement: To devote myself to my family, to honor and love them with my actions and words, and to abide with Christ so that I can become more like him.
Work Mission Statement: To create fiction for teen readers that entertains and shares the love of Christ.
And I’d like to note that I used my mission statement to say no (before I even had it!) when I was asked to write for a spec fiction anthology project for adults. I wanted to. The project sounded awesome. But I knew that I was supposed to be writing for teens. Cool how your mission statement can keep you focused, huh?
Once you get your mission statement, print it out and post it in places that will be helpful to you. And you might want to revise your mission statement every few years, depending on how your life changes.
After having gone through this process, I thought it might also be fun to write a family mission statement together with my family. Maybe someday…
How about you? Do you have a mission statement? Do you think it would be helpful? Why or why not?
If you live near Austin, TX; Atlanta, GA; Jacksonville, FL; or Nashville, TN, please plan to come and visit me! I’m not going alone, either. My very good company will be authors Bill Myers and Heather Burch.
Get a little scare this spring. From the occult to clones, it would be a frightful thing to miss this tour! Three of Zondervan’s most chilling authors will embark on a multi-city Warmer Days, Darker Nights YA Book Tour, set to launch at multiple locations. Events are free and open to the public.
Friday, March 30th
LifeWay Christian Store Austin – Shops at Arborwalk
10515 North Mopac Expressway, C320
Saturday, March 31st
10000 Research Blvd #158
Friday, April 13th
The Lamb’s Well Bookstore
115 Margie Dr Ste E, Warner Robbins, GA 31093-7583
Saturday, April 14th
Buford LifeWay Christian Store Mall of Georgia Crossing
3125 Woodward Crossing Boulevard, Suite 2000, Buford, GA 30519
Saturday, April 21st
B&N St Johns Town Center
10280 Midtown Parkway, Jacksonville, FL 32246
Jacksonville West LifeWay Christian Store
9515 Crosshill Blvd, Suite 101, Jacksonville, FL 32222
Friday, April 27th
B&N Cool Springs
1701 Mallory Lane, Brentwood, TN 37027
Saturday, April 28th
Murfreesboro LifeWay Christian Store Market Place Center
1906 A Old Fort Parkway, Murfreesboro, TN 37129
Saturday, April 28th
3900 Hillsboro Pike, Suite 14, Nashville, TN 37215
Bill Myers (www.BillMyers.com) is a bestselling author and award-winning writer/director whose work has won forty national and international awards. His books and videos have sold eight million copies and include The Seeing, Eli, The Voice, My Life as, Forbidden Doors, and McGee and Me. Learn more about Bill at: http://www.billmyers.com/
Or listen to my podcast interview with Bill by clicking here.
Heather Burch grew up in Branson, Missouri, where she learned to love fiction. She then married into a family of published novelists and quickly learned writing was her heart’s desire. When she’s not working on her latest book, Heather can be found watching a sunset at a beach near her home in Southern Florida, along with her sons Jake and Isaac, and husband, John—who is her hero in every way. Learn more about Heather at http://www.heatherburchbooks.com/
I’ve been writing since 2004–full time since 2009. And I’m already starting to have problems with my arms.
I’ve read a few blog posts about how unhealthy it is to sit all day, one of which was Michael Hyatt’s Why Sitting is Killing You.
Talk about depressing!
So I’m trying to take some proactive steps to keep my body moving throughout the day. Here are two things I’ve done to try and keep healthy.
1. I downloaded a program called WorkRave. It’s a program for people who sit at the computer for long hours. It reminds you to move. It gives alerts to take a break and even has exercises for your eyes, neck, and arms. This program runs on GNU/Linux and Microsoft Windows. Click here to learn more about it. It’s a LOT annoying at first, but give it a chance. You can alter the settings so that it reminds you at the times you want to be reminded. And the stretches feel really nice. Now that I’m used to it, I really appreciate having its help.
2. I built a treadmill desk! This was pretty fun. And granted, if you don’t have a treadmill, this isn’t going to be very helpful. But here is how I did it.
I measured the length from one hand rest to the other at the widest point. It was 34 1/2″ across.
I went down to the hardware store. Since my hand rests are flat on the top, I bought some sticky-back velcro to keep the surface from bouncing around while I walked on the treadmill and to hold my laptop in place. I also bought a shelf board to lay across the top. See the yellow circles in the picture below to see exactly what I bought.
***NOTE: I had a roll of white 3/4″ sticky-back velcro at home already. So I didn’t need to buy more. So you will need to purchase a package of 3/4″ wide sticky-back velcro as well. You only need about five inches of this.
When I got home, I laid the board across the two hand rests. Then I got down underneath the hand rests and used a pencil to trace the shape where the board lay on each hand rest.
I put two lengths of the scratchy side of the 3.5″ X 1.5″ velcro on each end of the board inside my pencil tracings, starting at the end of the board.
Then I put two lengths of the soft side of the 3.5″ X 1.5″ velcro on each hand rest, starting at the very end. This way, if I wanted to run and needed to use the hand rest, it wouldn’t be prickly.
I set the shelf board on the hand rests, lining up the velcro, then tipped it down until the velcro stuck.
I didn’t push very hard because I didn’t want the sticky part of the velcro to come loose. The velcro is strong enough that it will stick if you just set the board on top.
Next, I cut a five inch strip of the 3/4″ sticky-back velcro. I put the soft side on the bottom of my laptop in a place that didn’t cover any vents. I put the prickly side of the velcro in the upper center of the board.
I set the laptop on the board so that it stuck to the velcro. Again, the velcro was strong enough that I didn’t need to push very hard to make the laptop stick.
And that’s it! I can put the speed really low and walk for hours. The only thing that bothers me is how low the screen is. But I figure the change in neck position from looking down at the treadmill desk and looking straight at my desktop monitor is probably a good thing.
What do you think? Do you have a treadmill desk? If you work on the computer a lot, what have you tried to help your posture and overall health? Leave a comment and let me know.