Get In The Game

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You can’t outsmart the game of life by standing on the sidelines and avoiding the tenuous, the difficult, even the panic-inducing moments that come at you when you least expect them. That’s not how you play the game. Either you set your face to the wind and charge ahead, relying on all the tools God gave you or you don’t play at all.

For to play is to live. And to live is to win.
But you’ll never win if you never play, nor will you ever truly live the way God intended. So get off the sidelines and get in the game.

The Myths of Failure

myth vs truth

“Fear of failure.” We’ve all heard the expression at some point in our lives. And, if we’re completely honest, we’re guilty of taking the expression to heart all too often. It can be used as a motivation – that fear of failing drives us to double our efforts in order to avoid failing and guaranteeing our success.

But therein lies the problem. We’re spurring ourselves onward based solely on the myth that failure is something to be feared. In actuality, we should embrace failure.

For if we are candid, we must confess that we are far more likely to learn valuable lessons when we fail than when we succeed. In fact, anyone who has ever accomplished anything worthwhile did it only after a period of experiencing setbacks and adversity. For nothing separates ordinary and extraordinary people more than their perception of and response to failure.

Here are five myths of failure that successful people have come to realize:

1. Failure is Avoidable
2. Failure is an Event
3. Failure is the Enemy
4. Failure is a Stigma
5. Failure is Final

Failure is NONE of these things. It is NOT avoidable – even the best and the brightest, the most successful people in the world have failed at some point. It is NOT an event – failure is not a cataclysmic moment that brings the world to an end. It is NOT the enemy – failure is not a fire-breathing dragon to be slayed; rather, it is to be learned from. It is NOT a stigma – failure does not leave a stain that cannot come out. It is NOT final – failure is never permanent.

Learn to fail forward by recognizing that you will spend the majority of your life making mistakes, but as long you don’t give in to the myths of failure you’ll be just fine. Remember, the more you do, the more you fail. The more you fail, the more you learn. The more you learn, the better you get.

I’m Going To Be A Published Author!

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Hey Everyone!

I’m excited to share the news that I’ve just been offered a publishing contract for my young adult, paranormal romance/supernatural suspense novel, Sunrise. Lycaon Press, the Young Adult imprint for Breathless Press, contacted me Monday evening and said their acquisitions team loved the manuscript and wanted to make me an offer.

I just signed the contract, so look for Sunrise to be released next Spring!

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Be Like An Eagle!

Bald Eagle in mid-air flight over Homer Spit Kenai Peninsula Alaska Winter

For centuries now, we’ve come to identify our national ethos with the image of the eagle. We’ve regarded the large bird of prey as a living symbol of freedom, power, bravery, grace, and determination. The symbolism is so ingrained into our culture that we often associate it with some of our proudest achievements. Think about it. The highest rank one can achieve in the Boy Scouts is Eagle Scout. When man first landed on the moon, what did Neil Armstrong say? “The Eagle has landed.”

But what truly emphasizes the uniqueness of this majestic animal is its characteristics. In fact, three traits of the eagle serve as great examples for us in life:

#1: Eagles Have Vision

If you’ve ever seen an eagle, it’s usually high above the tree tops or gliding over mountain peaks. Eagles can actually soar to an altitude of 10,000 feet – the only bird on the planet that can attain such a lofty height. From lofty altitudes, eagles see life from above. This allows them to not only get a clear picture of their surroundings, but also to observe what lies ahead, which positions them to see and seize opportunities.

We need vision to chart a course and successfully navigate the environment and changing circumstances of life to achieve our goals. Specifically, we need to see:
 Within – What do I feel?
 Behind – What have I learned?
 Around – What is happening to others?
 Ahead – What do I anticipate?
 Above – What part does God play?
 Beside – What resources are available?

#2: Eagles Are Fearless

Often times an eagle will hunt prey that are much larger than itself, pose a degree of danger, or are very elusive. Whether the target is small deer, goats, snakes, or fish, the eagle never surrenders to the size, strength, or difficulty of its prey. They possess a remarkable, relentless amount of courage to take on risks.

We need to be fearless in order to face problems head on. Fearless, courageous people are never dismayed in the face of the odds, for they are never afraid of failure. They maintain a fierce, tenacious persistence when taking on big endeavors that may seem unachievable.

#3: Eagles Welcome and Take Advantage of Adversity

Almost all animals seek shelter when a storm approaches. They take cover and hide until the bad weather passes. Not so with eagles. When a storm rolls in, and eagle says, “Let’s go!” Instead of hiding from the blasting winds, an eagle flies into them. The strong currents of air allow the eagle to soar faster and farther than in normal flying conditions. The eagle eagerly takes advantage of the very storm that lesser birds and animals avoid.

Everyone faces storms, but we need to welcome them as opportunities to rise up and soar faster and farther than before. We must realize that adversity can provide the following advantages:

 Adversity creates resilience
 Adversity develops maturity
 Adversity pushes the envelope of future performance
 Adversity provides greater opportunities
 Adversity prompts innovation
 Adversity brings unexpected benefits
 Adversity motivates

Don’t be a parrot, content to sit on the same perch, mulling over the same stale seeds and repeating the same words day after day. Be an eagle! Fly the coop, spread your wings, and dare to soar to the best of your ability. You never know where the winds might take you.

Writer’s World Blog Tour

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Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, step right up and take part on a global whirlwind tour of writers’ blogs from some of the freshest, most innovative voices in Christian fiction today.

I’m pleased to introduce my friend, Sara Ella. Sara Ella

Sara writes outstanding Christian Young Adult fiction, has a passion for all things coffee and literary, and is a 2014 Genesis contest finalist for unpublished authors. Yay, Sara!

I met Sara through a call for other YA authors on her blog, and needless to say I’ve been impressed with her writing and passion for the Lord ever since. She’s held a plethora of job titles from Barista to Disney Character. Her favorite stories are about young adult heroines who have some sort of flaw, whether it be external, internal, or both. She loves redeemed villains and fairy tales with a twist. When not working on her novel, you can find her catching up on Once Upon a Time or reading books checked out from the YA section of her local library.

Sara’s writing has been published in Shine Brightly magazine and Thriving Family magazine, as well as online by Drama Queen Ministries. It’s her dream and desire to reach teens (and anyone who enjoys YA) through writing stories about true love and inner beauty.

For more information about Sara, you can follow her blog at http://saraella.com/2014/06/writers-world-blog-tour.html

For this blog tour I was asked to answer four questions:

1. What are you working on?

After three years, I’ve finally got my YA supernatural suspense manuscript Sunrise positioned for publication. It has received award recognition in writing contests, and has had several close calls with agents and publishers alike – but it’s still looking for a home. Wink! Wink!

In the meantime, I’ve begun work on its sequel, False Light, and am in the early stages of another novel, The Promise Keeper. Unlike the other two YA novels, The Promise Keeper is an adult, commercial fiction-type manuscript.

2. How does your work differ from others in its genre?

I prefer to write my Christian YA material with a bit of an “edge”. That is, I infuse my stories with authenticity and a bit of realism. Not profane mind you (my mother reads my material), but I prefer to present inspirational messages through the readers’ lenses that are consistent with the world in which we live. If you’re looking for G-rated, Pollyanna-ish stories then go watch re-runs of The Brady Bunch.

Therefore, my Christian YA material is not for the Amish-and-bonnet crowd. It walks the line between secular and inspiration, and has cross-over appeal. Although the whole angel/fallen angel genre of paranormal romance and supernatural suspense has been well established in recent years, my manuscript actually contains Christian themes and messages like faith, forgiveness, redemption, and the sanctifying grace of sacrificial love.

3. Why do you write what you do?

I write the stories that I myself would love to read. I don’t write according to trends, what’s popular, or what dominates markets and scores well in focus groups. I don’t write stories that “play it safe.” I write what I write because that’s what speaks to me. These are the stories that move me and inspire me.

4. How does your writing process work?

Since I’m a working husband and father of two kids, there’s little time left over during the week for writing, so I have to sneak it in as best I can – during swim or dance lessons, late at night when everyone’s asleep, etc. However, my favorite time of day is early in the morning when the sun hasn’t even made a dent in the pre-dawn darkness, with nothing but the soft glow of my laptop at the kitchen table and a steaming cup of coffee by my side.

But, when time or circumstance doesn’t allow me to write, I’m always thinking about my manuscripts and story lines. If a random thought occurs to me – like a cool new scene or a great piece of dialogue – I’ll quickly grab a pen and paper and scribble it down for later. This has garnered me some quizzical looks from co-workers sometimes.

Generally, I don’t outline and establish the entire story-arc before I start writing. With Sunrise I just wrote and wrote, never really knowing where the story would take me. The same is true right now for its sequel, False Light. I’m currently writing chapter two and have no definite ideas where or how it will end. That has generally been my MO. However, I had the opposite experience with my other work in progress, The Promise Keeper. This story was thoroughly outlined and plotted before a single word was typed. I truly hadn’t planned it that way either. In fact, the entire story just struck me out of the blue one day at work while I was listening to the song Let Me Sign by Rob Pattinson. I started jotting it down and didn’t stop until I was done – which was literally about five minutes. Kinda weird. I’ve never experienced anything like that before. It was as if this magnificent story was just thrust into both my head and my heart lock, stock, and barrel. And I can’t let it go until I write it.

I’ve “tagged” some great friends, who will answer these questions on their blogs next week on the 30th. Be sure and check them out!

Katie Clark

Katie is the author of the upcoming young adult dystopian “Enslaved” series with Watershed, an imprint of Pelican Book Group, as well as picture books and over 50 short stories and articles for children and adults. Read more about Katie at http://www.katieclarkwrites.com/apps/blog/

Sarah Grimm

Sarah is the author of the upcoming fantasy novel “Children of the Blood Moon” with Splashdown Books. In addition to being a Michigan native, wife, and mother of two kids, Sarah is also a contributing editor for Splickety Magazine and Pelican Book Group. Read more about Sarah at http://sdgrimm.com/index.html

When You Feel Like Throwing In The Towel

throw-in-the-towel

Life is a master at creating and dishing out adversity. We set out chasing a dream, fulfilling a vision that has set us afire with passion, but all too often we encounter roadblock after roadblock, obstacle after obstacle, setback after setback. The course we’ve embarked upon becomes littered with disappointment. And, despite the increase in intensity and frequency of our paddling, the shore seems to shrink along the horizon instead of looming larger in the foreground. Invariably, we all reach that critical juncture – that breaking point – when we must choose to either forge ahead or admit that the dream was too big for us to achieve.

But, as Mac Davis said, “There ain’t nothing left to do but bury a man when his dreams are gone.” So, in order to avoid a premature burial, how do we continue in pursuit of our dreams when we’re depleted, can’t stand the hammering any longer, and we’ve got nothing left in us?

A helpful tool is to adopt The Code of Persistence:
1. I will never give up as long as I know I’m right
2. I will always believe things will work out for me as long as
I hang on to the end
3. I will be courageous and undismayed in the face of the odds
4. I will never permit anyone to intimidate or deter me from my
goals
5. I will fight to overcome all physical handicaps and setbacks
6. I will try again and again and again to accomplish what I
desire
7. I will take comfort in the knowledge that all successful
people have had to overcome defeat and adversity
8. I will never surrender to my defeat or despair

Adversity will always test our commitment and passion. There will always be someone to tell us we’re wrong. Difficulties will always arise that tempt us with self-doubt. So, when we get to the end of our rope, we need to “tie a knot and hang on,” as FDR once said. We can do this by reminding ourselves to remain persistent in the chasing of our dreams.

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up,” said Thomas Edison. He’s right. We need to hang on to our passion and persist – even when it feels like there’s nothing left to do but throw in the towel.