Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Grace in the Storm

I'm sitting inside a warm, dry house. We never lost power, but thanks to Hurricane Irma, yesterday was the windiest day I have ever experienced. As far as I can tell, the worst thing that has happened to us is that we lost one tree in the backyard . . . and the stray cat that adopted us a year or so ago might think she is an indoor/outdoor cat now after we brought her inside to protect her from falling debris. 

But all you have to do is turn the TV on and you can see that there is so much devastation all around us. Storms of different kinds are all over the place. Harvey in Texas. Irma all over the Caribbean and the Southeast. Western states are on fire and have been for months but it isn't making national news. They are losing homes and acres and acres of precious natural lands. Earthquakes in Mexico. And that's just some of what's happening in North America. There's a whole big world out there, and we aren't the only ones being hit and hit hard.

Your storm may not have anything to do with the weather or natural disasters. It may be the illness of a loved one, a marriage in crisis. A child on a devastating path. Financial woes that never let up. 

If you feel like you have nothing left, I want to share something with you that God showed me this week as I watched the hurricane coverage.

Have you seen the videos/images of the water being sucked out of the bays and away from islands? The first one I saw was video from the Bahamas and when it first popped up on my Facebook feed, I couldn't figure out what I was seeing. But then it happened again and again as Irma made her way to the US. The Tampa Bay event received quite a bit of news coverage. 

In case you didn't see it, it turns out that as the storm comes by, it literally sucks the ocean away from the shore. People can walk around on ground that used to be the bay because the water is g-o-n-e. It's absolutely fascinating and awe-inspiring to think of the natural phenomenon that is taking place.

As the storm passes, the water will return and things will return to “normal” - but during the storm Tampa Bay was empty. Dry. The reporters and people they interviewed kept going on about how they’d never seen anything like it. I certainly hadn't. 

It turns out that it takes a very big and powerful storm to do this.

I watched, completely fascinated, but then as He so often does, I felt that stirring in my spirit and God showed me something.

He isn't surprised by this at all. He knows this happens in nature and He knows this happens in our lives. 

We all have a certain tolerance for a “reasonable” amount of storm activity. We all get up and go about our day with various small storms - maybe even tropical force or Category 1 storms - brewing around us.

But the BIG storms quite literally suck us dry. We have nothing left to give because all our energy has been taken up by this powerful storm. 

And yet we beat ourselves up over it. We say horrible things to ourselves and feel extraordinary amounts of guilt because we’re so tired and so empty, but God is not seeing it that way. 

He sees our dry bays. He sees the empty shorelines. He knows the category 5 level storms we are facing and He is not sitting there wondering why we can’t get our act together and deal with it because *HE KNOWS* what has happened.

Others may not see it. They may not understand it. 

But God knows. God sees. He is still 100% in control. 

If you're walking around every day like those crazy reporters, hunched over in the wind just trying not to get blown away, my prayer for you (and for me) is that we will relax in the grace God has shown us. That we will rest in the knowledge that He is not expecting more of us that we can give. 

In his time, the water will return to the bay. The waves will again lap along the shore. The storm will pass. 

Be kind to yourselves friends. Give yourself and those going through huge storms around you the same grace He gives. 

Grace and peace,

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Every Writer Needs a Team

Last month, I shared what I learned from the book Grit—The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Dr. Angela Duckworth and how it applies to the writing life. If you haven’t read that one, you might want to pop over there first and read the post, A Book to Help Writers Persevere. I’ll wait.

Done? Good. Glad you’re back. :)

That post was already way too long, so I saved something to share with you this month.

In Grit, there are multiple anecdotes about elite swimmers—what makes them so good, what separates the champions from the talented, that kind of thing.

Near the end of the book the author shares an interview with a man who has studied elite swimmers for three decades. After affirming the author’s thoughts on how important grit is he said, “But I left out the most important thing. The real way to become a great swimmer is to join a great team.”


When I read that line I stopped and took a picture of the paragraph so I’d have it in my phone. Because while I don’t doubt it’s true for elite swimmers, I know from first-hand experience—it’s true for writers, too.


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It's the first Thursday of the month so I'm over at The Write Conversation. I'd love for you to pop over and read the rest of the post. :) 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

What I Learned in August



It’s been too long since I did a “What I Learned” post, so this month it’s really more of a “What I’ve Learned in 2017” rather than just in August. :) 

1. I need to be in a Bible study, even if it means doing it on my own. When I started homeschooling both boys I had to give up my Bible study group at church and I’ve missed it. I did a study on the book of Jonah this summer and it rocked my world. I didn’t make it to a single meeting of the group that was doing it, but it was still life changing and I need to do that kind of thing more often. I haven’t nailed down what I’m doing this fall because my FB feed was full of suggestions! But I’ll be choosing something soon. 

2. Apple watches are A.MAZ.ING. I was the biggest skeptic when they came out. Why on earth does anyone need to check their email on their wrist? But then I discovered how handy it is to be able to glance at it and decide if a text or call is worth stopping what I’m doing. Now, I can leave my phone on the kitchen counter all day and not be worried about missing an important call from Emma’s school. I’ve worn it every day since I got it. It actually helps me NOT have my phone in my hands all the time, and that’s a big deal to me.

3. Teaching is fun. It’s exhausting, too. This applies to homeschooling, but I’m talking about teaching adults about writing. :) I’ve had the opportunity to teach at a couple of conferences this year, as well as an all-day Scrivener workshop. I’m surprised by how much I enjoy it. I get to co-teach a workshop at the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference later this month and then another Scrivener class later in the fall. I’m really looking forward to both. 

4. “Out with the old, in with the new” is something I should try more often. After fifteen years of looking at the same bedding, we bit the bullet and got a new bed, furniture, and bedding for our bedroom. I know for some of you this is something that happens every few years and you cannot imagine looking at the same stuff for a decade and a half, but I naturally resist change of any kind and it shows up in weird places—like re-doing rooms. My husband resists spending money, which also shows up in weird places like re-doing rooms. Between the two of us, we can shut down a room makeover in a hurry. :) 

We still need to paint and get curtains, a few pictures, etc. But the difference is amazing. It reflects our style and our sensibilities and is a restful place to be. Which is what bedrooms are supposed to be like, right? 

It was a lot of work—a lot of hours spent shopping, re-organizing, and using Allen wrenches on furniture that came in boxes. And there were a few times when I wondered if it would be worth it. But it totally was. 

5. Early morning exercise is awesome. I claim I hate it. Because I do. Except I don’t. I’m coming to terms with the fact that the 5:30 a.m. class is the best one for me. My entire day goes better when I get it knocked out first thing. Also, I workout at a CrossFit box with no A/C. It’s summertime in the south so it’s already hot and muggy at 5:30 a.m. By 4 p.m. no one in their right mind should be doing burpees and box jumps. I have lots of friends who do, but for me it’s worth the 5 a.m. wakeup call to get it over with before the sun comes up. 

I’d love to know what you’ve learned lately. Are there any fun “life hacks” you’ve recently discovered? Let’s talk about them in the comments.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

#Authorlife


Every so often I want to give you a little "peek behind the curtain" of my #authorlife. 

Here are just a few things that are going on right now. 

  • Last Saturday I taught an all-day class on Scrivener - a writing software that I love. But wow - all day. It's a lot of talking, even for someone who talks as much as I do! I've made a mental note to be sure to plan to eat out after teaching this class in the future! And maybe to plan to sleep in the next day, too!


  • Even though Beneath the Surface - Book 1 of the Dive Team Investigations series - doesn't release until March 2018, this week started with some emails about promotional materials for the book  - things like postcards, bookmarks, and social media images. I'm super excited to see what sorts of things the team at Revell comes up with! 



  • Then the edits for Beneath the Surface hit my inbox (Yes, the Darth Vader theme music is appropriate here - you're humming it now, aren't you? Excellent). The edits are due back to the editor on the 29th. Yikes!


  • At the end of the edits there's this lovely little spot for me to provide the "teaser" for Book 2 in the Dive Team Investigations series.  This would be the same Book 2 I am currently writing and that is due to my editor in early December. :) 


  • Now, my brain can't decide if it wants to work on the revisions for Beneath the Surface, or rework the first chapter of Book 2, or just ignore all that and work on a proposal for a completely different book that is half-written and just needs to be finished and turned in! (Yes, for those of you wondering, this is Max and Sara's story).


  • This week I also got invitations to attend two different publisher dinners - at the same time - while at the ACFW conference in September and I had to choose which one I would go to (because sadly - no clone). And yes, getting invited to a dinner with a publisher makes me want to pinch myself!


  • I also had the privilege of sitting down with a White Collar Crimes investigator who is going to help me bring my hero for Book 2 to life (the fictional hero's name is Adam Campbell and he looks like Ryan Reynolds). He answered a ton of questions, showed me a real credit card skimmer they'd taken out of a gas pump, and was super patient. This kind of research is one of my very favorite things about being an author. 

  • I'm in the process of developing a new website so I'm making decisions on that stuff, too. And by developing, I mean I've hired an A.MAZ.ING website developer and she sends me ideas and I try to make decisions without hurting her feelings and she tells me not to worry about her feelings because she is awesome (but I still worry).


  • If you've been following along on social media (and if you haven't - why not?) you already know that this week was also the big "Lynn gets an office" week around here. So instead of writing, I've been painting and sanding sheetrock and cutting boards and loving the fact that my kids get to work with my Dad (who can build anything - really). More pictures and a big "reveal" will happen eventually. For now, I'm still dusting. Everything. It's everywhere. Dust is evil. (And before anyone comments - No, I did not have on safety goggles. No, my hands were not actually anywhere near that blade despite what the picture might look like. Yes, I was being careful. For the cut I needed to make, that actually was the safest way to do it. I try to take good care of my fingers. They are rather important for writers! And yes, I do like power tools.) 



  • Oh, and did I mention we've already started back to school with my homeschoolers and my precious Emma is d-y-i-n-g for school to start which won't happen until next week? 


Whew! I'm tired just reading all that. And believe it or not, I left stuff off the list. All sorts of things that are part of life and don't have anything even remotely to do with writing, but are still super important. 

If you're so inclined, I would appreciate your prayers. Especially over the next few weeks as I juggle multiple projects and a lot of life craziness. 

And if you have any burning questions about writing and publication, share them in the comments and I'll try to answer them soon. 

Grace & peace,
Lynn

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Budget War

Hi Everyone!

I have a treat for you today. Andrea Merrell is an incredibly talented author and editor. Her new book, Marriage: Make It or Break It released this summer.
Andrea Merrell

Some say marriage is a dying institution. Others say, “Stop the bus and let me get off.” But Andrea Merrell—after forty-plus years of marriage—believes this God-ordained institution is one of His greatest gifts to men and women. Marriage: Make It or Break It is a result of keen observation, years of studying God's Word, and a lifetime of trial and error. With her signature dash of humor, she takes a candid look at attitudes and behavior that can make or break a relationship, the difference in how men and women think and approach life, and the importance of honest communication. You’ll find danger signs, roadblocks to bypass, and Scriptures to personalize and pray on a daily basis. 

This journey won’t be perfect, and the road is guaranteed to be full of potholes. But if you’re ready to learn a few truths that will make marriage strong—and a lot of things that will destroy it—buckle your seat belt and let’s get this bus moving.


I'm thrilled to welcome Andrea to Out of the Boat today!


***************************



Who then is that faithful and wise steward?
Luke 12:42 NKJV


“You want us to do what? You’ve got to be kidding!”

That was my response when my husband first suggested we live on a budget. We were barely getting by, our paychecks spent before we ever saw them. The thought of taking our meager income and slicing and dicing it into categories seemed ridiculous.

After many discussions about this new financial strategy, I finally relented. I was willing to give it a try, if only to prove it wouldn’t work. When I sat down with my checkbook, calculator, and notebook—stretching a few dollars into categories such as tithe, housing, utilities, food, insurance, car, and miscellaneous—the numbers were comical.

“This is crazy,” I said. “We’re in worse shape than ever.”

My husband just smiled that knowing smile of his. “Be patient. It may take a few weeks to get us on track, but we’ll be better off.”

Better off? Right. Be patient? Easy for him to say. How was I supposed to pad those pages and pay our bills at the same time? I balked. I complained. I wrung my hands. Then I did what I should have done in the first place—I prayed. Lord, if this is the right thing for us, please show me what to do.

It’s amazing what God will do when we invite Him to get involved in our stuff. In less than a month, the balance in our checkbook went from less than $100 to over $1,000. Our bills were all paid on time, our other needs met, and there was even money left over toward the next month’s expenses. We could also see exactly where our money was going, eliminating a lot of waste.
 
What appeared to be financial bondage actually turned out to be financial freedom. For the first time in our lives, we didn’t have to wonder where the money would come from. In a very short time, my categories were full, and I even added savings and vacation. My years of worry over having enough money to survive had come to an end—thanks to God and my wise husband.

It’s been over thirty years since I created that notebook, and I still use it to this day. In fact, I can’t imagine not being on a budget, especially in this crazy economy.  It has provided tremendous peace of mind.

If you’re in a hard place financially, living paycheck to paycheck, give budgeting a try. It might be difficult in the beginning, but the benefits will be well worth the effort.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Unglamorous Life of a Writer

If you’ve hung around the writing world for long, you’ve heard it before . . . 
  • Being a published author does not magically fix all your problems.
  • Being a published author does not mean you’ll spend your days fending off random fans when you’re buying groceries.
  • Being a published author does not mean you’ll spend your days in a lovely office overlooking a serene pastoral setting as you churn out novel after novel. 

But . . . come on. It has to help. Right? It has to be more good than bad. At least when you get “The Call” or reach new writing milestones, there will be parties and well-wishes and celebratory balloons falling from the ceiling. Right?

Well . . .

I did hear one story where an author went to check in for a flight and the ticket clerk looked at her license, and then looked at her, and then promptly bumped her to First Class after telling her that she reads everything she writes. 

So, it happens! But my highly (un)scientific research has revealed that these kinds of events happen about as often as a total solar eclipse traverses the entire country

In the interest of bringing you the true side of the publishing life, here are a few representative samples of the real, (un)glamorous lives of published authors.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The First Blank Page

I'm starting a new book today. 

Oh, I've been working on it for weeks, but today is the first time I'm taking the ideas and brainstorming and plots and characters and putting them on the page.

Today, I'm turning these characters loose and letting them come alive - and hanging on for the ride they will take me on. 

Everyone approaches their writing a little bit differently. No writer has exactly the same method as another. For me, staring at the very first blank page is humbling. And terrifying. 

So before I put a word on the screen, I offered all of it up to the One I write for. I recommitted myself, my words, my stories, and my characters to Him. I asked Him to use all of it - every word - for His Glory and to fulfill His purposes. 

I prayed for my readers, my publisher, my editors, my brainstorming buddies, and my sources. I prayed for endurance and focus and I asked for an outpouring of creativity from the Creator. 

And now, I ask you, to join me. Every stage of a book has it's own issues, but for a recovering perfectionist like me, the beginning is fraught with challenges. Would you pray specifically over the next couple of weeks that a solid foundation will be laid for this story? 

In addition, there is a very difficult topic at the heart of this book. The research I've done and continue to do is hard. I covet your prayers as I dig deep into a very real and present evil in our communities. There are things you can't "un-know" and whether this story changes anyone else, writing it absolutely will change me. I pray it does. 

This book is due in early December which means I want to finish it by the end of September so I have a couple of months to do the revisions before it goes to my editor. So when I'm not running kids to camps and swimming pools and football fields, I'll be working on this story. What are your plans for this summer? How can I pray for you? I'd love to hear about it in the comments. 

Grace & peace,
Lynn

Monday, June 5, 2017

Hidden Legacy Fun!

There's a lot going on in the Hidden Legacy world this week! Paperback copies have been flying off the shelf in my local Walmart. If you spot it in a store, I'd LOVE for you to take a picture and send it to me! 

Tuesday (paperback release day!) I'll be participating in a Facebook party with fifteen Love Inspired authors. 





I'll be chatting from 5:30-5:45 p.m. and we'll be talking about my hometown, the wonder that is Hot Dog World (yes, it is a real place and it's fabulous!) and what it was like to bring the secondary characters from Covert Justice to life in Hidden Legacy

If you've never participated in one of these parties, you've really should stop by! It's a great way to meet authors and have a chance to win free books! 

Over on Goodreads I'm having a giveaway! I'd love for you to enter to win one of two copies of Hidden Legacy!


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Hidden Legacy by Lynn Huggins Blackburn

Hidden Legacy

by Lynn Huggins Blackburn

Giveaway ends June 12, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway
I've been overwhelmed by the positive response to Hidden Legacy! Thank you all!!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Hidden Legacy is here!


The e-book versions of Hidden Legacy released today! The paperback version doesn't officially release until June 6th, but it has been spotted in my local Walmart. Maybe it's in a store near you! 

If you haven't read Covert Justice, then I can't wait for you to meet Caroline Harrison and Detective Jason Drake.

If you *have* read Covert Justice, then you'll enjoy getting to know Caroline better :) . . . and yes, you'll get to spend a little bit more time with Heidi, Blake, Max, and Sara. 

If you spot Hidden Legacy in the store, I'd love for you to share a photo with me on social media and be sure to tag me!

And did you know the best way to show an author some love is to leave a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBook.com, Goodreads, or anywhere books are reviewed? Well, it is. :) 


First-Timer to Faculty

When I started writing for The Write Conversation in 2010, I had just attended my very first conference—the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. 

In the years since, I’ve gone from conference newbie to conference regular to published author to . . . conference faculty. This year I’ll be serving on the faculty of three different conferences ranging from small and intimate to huge.

I consider myself to be a faculty newbie so I thought it might be fun to pull back the curtain on the faculty experience.

Here are a few things you should know about the faculty of many of the conferences you’re attending . . .

As always, I'm guest posting over at The Write Conversation today. Click on over to read the rest of the post!


Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Write Conversation




The Write Conversation has been recognized by Writer's Digest as one of the top 101 Best Writing Websites!!!  It is an absolute privilege to a be a monthly contributor to The Write Conversation. I've been posting on the first Thursday of the month since 2010 and the posts I share there are some of my favorite things I write each month.

Crazy congratulations to the writing genius behind The Write Conversation, Edie Melson. And a huge THANK YOU to Edie for allowing me to be a small part of this amazing online community!

Here's a snippet of this month's post!

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Don't Overlook Valuable Writing Connections

Last month I wrote about some of the things I wish I’d known when my writing journey began. Today, I want to share something else that may be beneficial, whether you’ve only dipped your toes in the writing waters or have been swimming along for a while now.

Here it is . . .


In my humble opinion, your fellow writers are at least as important and in many cases are more important to your success than any agent or editor.

Now hear me out on this. I have the BEST agent. BEST. There is no way I would be where I am today without her. I have been privileged to work with AMAZING editors. The kind of editors who tell you half the story works and half of it doesn’t and you wind up being so glad you listened to them. There are a couple of awards on my mantle that would NOT be there without my editor.

So don’t anyone read this and think I’m saying that editors and agents aren’t important. They are. In fact, they are often referred to as the gatekeepers of the industry. Which is true. And that’s why it makes sense that writers often feel the opportunity to pitch to a particular agent or editor is the holy grail. The key to their publishing success.

And, in some cases, it is. But . . . not always.

*****

I'd love for you to come over to The Write Conversation to read the rest of the story!



Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Exciting Book News

I know things have been pretty quiet over here on the blog. But I promise, I haven't been being lazy. I've been writing every spare minute of the day because....I have just signed a 3-Book Contract with Revell! The first book, Beneath the Surface, is due to my editor on April 30 and will release Spring 2018. 

I've known about this for a couple of months and keeping it a secret has been killing me! I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this amazing opportunity and I covet your prayers as I jump into this new adventure!

There will be much more news in the days and weeks ahead, so stay tuned.

And if you want to get all the news FIRST, be sure to sign up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers get first dibs on everything, from the latest publishing news to book giveaways. 


The contract!



Saturday, March 4, 2017

9 Things I Wish I'd Known at the Beginning of My Writing Journey

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about my early years as a writer. I had no idea what I was doing and I was so eager to learn. I took courses and went to critique groups and attended conferences, all in an effort to figure out how to do this writing thing right. And do you know what I remember most about that time?


Being confused.

There are so many different books, different authors, different opinions.
Here are a few…
  • Outlines are a must. Outlines are evil.
  • Read everything. Don’t read much at all.
  • Write in the morning. Write at night.
  • Write every day. Write 1000 words a day. Write 2 hours a day. Write at the same time every day.
  • Edit as you go. Finish your first draft before you revise a word.
  • Use Scrivener. Only use Word.
  • Critique groups are a must. Critique groups are a waste of time.
  • Join ten different professional organizations. Don’t join any.
  • Get an agent. Don’t get an agent.
  • Traditional! Indie!

Are you confused yet? I know I certainly was. As a card carrying member of the Perfectionistic People Pleasers Club, all the different opinions made it very hard for me to figure out what *my* writing process was. I was terribly afraid that someone was going to find out how I was doing it and they were going to tell me that I was doing it ALL wrong.

You can read the rest of this post over at The Write Conversation. I hope you'll click over and join the conversation!