Celebrate With Me — Book Giveaway

I was delighted recently to learn that my first (as yet unpublished) novel was the winner for the women's fiction category of the Phoenix Rattler fiction contest. The contest, sponsored by the Christian Writers of the West, is a great opportunity for unpublished writers to get their work evaluated by experienced writers. The feedback is invaluable, and I was grateful for that alone. To find out that the judges had selected my story as the winner in the women's fiction category–well, that was just above and beyond what I had imagined when I entered.

Then, to add to the fun, a few days ago I received notice that my story is a finalist in The Olympia, another fiction contest, this one sponsored by Clash of the Titles. Again, a wonderful bit of encouragement received just at the right time! They'll announce the winner of that one on March 1, but I received the judges' score sheets and comments yesterday, and am thrilled to have that input to use as I finish editing my manuscript in anticipation of sending it off to an agent very soon.

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To celebrate this good news, I'm giving books away! Since my own novel isn't yet published, I can't give that away. But I do have copies of a number of really outstanding novels I've read in the past few months, and I'd like to give one (or more) away to someone who loves fiction as much as I do. So . . . if you want to win, here's all you need to do:

  1. If you haven't already done so, subscribe to my blog by going to the box at the upper right corner of the blog itself and submitting your email address. (You'll receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Be sure to watch for that and click on the link it provides to confirm.)
  2. Leave a comment below letting me know you've subscribed and telling me what's your favorite genre of fiction (women's fiction? romance? historical? Amish?) or who are some of your favorite authors.

I will draw two to three names (depending on the number of entries) later this month to win a copy of the novel of their choice from the following list:

  • Out of Control by Mary Connealy
  • Love Amid the Ashes by Mesu Andrews
  • Desert Gift by Sally John
  • Bandit's Hope by Marcia Gruver
  • Who Is My Shelter? by Neta Jackson
  • Love Finds You in Nazareth Pennsylvania by Melanie Dobson
  • Necessary Deception by Laurie Alice Eakes

I would love it if you would also go to the home page of my website and sign up for my mailing list through the box there–on the lower half of the page, next to the links to recent blog posts. Don't worry–I won't share your email address with anyone, and I won't inundate you with emails. But the people on that list will be the first to hear news of any new developments in my writing career, such as if/when the day comes that my first novel is to be published.

Celebrate with me! Don't miss your chance to win a free book!

Laura
Greenville, Texas
Category Winner, 2012 Phoenix Rattler, courtesy of Christian Writers of the West, ACFW-Arizona, Do No Harm, Women's Fiction
Finalist, 2012 Olympia, courtesy of Clash of the Titles

I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
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Taking a Leap of Faith

 dreamstime_xl_27975289 garden staircase 2013-01-13

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

I don't have any statistics to back this up, but based on personal experience, lots of reading, and many conversations with other women, I think many women have a hard time believing in themselves. Some of the women I've found most inspiring because of their accomplishments or apparent confidence have confided to me their own struggles with self-doubt. So often, it seems, women hesitate to pursue their dreams because they lack the confidence that they can achieve them or, worse, question whether they deserve the right to try. Many times we keep our dreams secret, afraid of how other people might react if we admit that we dream of accomplishing great things.

Or maybe it's just me.

Since I was a little girl, I've wanted to write–to write lots of things, but especially to write novels. As a girl I spent hours at the public library, poring over back issues of Writer's Digest and The Writer, studying the craft. Over the course of my adult life I've spent hundreds of dollars to amass what I'm sure my husband believes is the world's largest private library of writing books. I collected notebooks full of ideas for characters and plots. But I didn't write a novel. And I seldom spoke to anyone about my dream of being a novelist.

Why?

Good question.

A year or so ago I finally admitted the answer to myself: fear.

Fear that I didn't have the talent or skill or creativity required to do this thing I've dreamed of since I was a little girl. I was paralyzed by it. It was safer not to write. Because as long as I didn't try, I could continue to hope that maybe I could do it. But if I tried and failed, that dream would die forever.

Last year, though, I decided I'd let the fear paralyze me long enough, and I finally started writing my first novel. As I write this blog post, the first draft is nearly complete. Is it any good? I don't know. I can't let myself think about that until I've finished it. The goal this time around wasn't to write a masterpiece, or even to get it published. It was just to finish.

Here's the funny thing, though–even after I started writing the novel, I still didn't talk about it to anyone. I was embarrassed to tell anyone I was trying to write a novel. Afraid, I guess, that they'd secretly laugh at me. Who is she, to write a book?

But you know, if you don't believe in yourself, who will? (My husband does, God bless him.) If you can't call yourself a writer (or whatever it is you want to be), why should anybody else?

So recently I took a step that, for me, was a huge leap of faith. I launched a website, which is now the home of this blog. It's part of my decision to allow myself to say out loud that, along with the other things I am (wife, mother, lawyer, . . .), I also am a writer.

So welcome to LauraMcClellan.me. It just launched last week (as of the date I'm writing this). I hope you'll take time to click on the link and explore the site, and then maybe come back here and leave a comment telling me what you think.

Even as I launched the website, I found myself feeling embarrassed to tell anyone I'd done so. (Old habits die hard.) Who in the world does she think she is, to have a website?! She's not an author. She hasn't published a single book yet. Maybe she can't even write!

Yes, I worry about things like that. What am I going to do with a website? But I felt like it was time to take that step, so even though I have no idea where this staircase will lead, I've climbed up onto the first step. And we'll just see where it all comes out, hmm?

In the meantime, what dream have you been hiding in your heart? Are you ready to give yourself permission to pursue it, or at least to admit it's there? I'd love to encourage you. Leave a comment below, or if you want to share it with me without making it public, send me a note through the contact form on my website. I'd be happy to cheer you on or hold your hand as you start the climb on your own staircase of dreams.

I would love to hear from you.

A couple of notes for you to consider:

  • If you like the design of my website, all the credit and thanks go to Tekeme Studios. If you're a writer who's considering launching (or redesigning) your own author website, I highly recommend them. Check out their website for the various services they offer. If you decide to work with them, use the code LAURAMC20 for a 20% discount on their services.
  • Special thanks to Jodie Westfall Photography for the photos of me that appear on my site. I don't like being photographed, but Jodie made it fun.

Laura
Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

Grammar Grouch Moment

IMPORTANT PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:

© Jyn Meyer | Dreamstime.com

It's (with an apostrophe) is an abbreviation for “it is” (e.g., Baby, it's cold outside.)

Its (without an apostrophe) indicates possession (e.g., The dog chased its tail.)

Every time you write a sentence with it's in it, please do the following:

    1. Read the sentence aloud, replacing the it's with “it is”
    2. If the sentence doesn't make sense with “it is” in it, TAKE THE APOSTROPHE OUT OF “IT'S”

Thank you. Have a nice day. 🙂

 

Laura
Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

Eight Questions (a blog hop!)

Today, I'm participating in my first-ever blog hop, invited by Jordyn Redwood, author of medical suspense novels. If you're an author (published or not) and would like to participate, leave me a comment with your e-mail address and I'll link to you here. Your post must be set for Jan 10, 2013.

It's simple: answer these questions about your current WIP.

1. What is the working title of your book?


Do No Harm

 

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?


I made a commitment to myself early in 2012 to to finally do something I've dreamed about since childhood: write a novel. Since I have a fulltime day job that takes up way too much of my time, I decided to use things I had some personal experience with, while purposefully making it not be a book about me. So I started from some church conflicts that I experienced when we first moved to Texas from up north, and built from there.

 

3. What genre does your book fall under?


Women's fiction–I suppose it would be inspirational women's fiction.

 

4. What's the synopsis of your book?


Do No Harm is the story of a disgraced Seattle obstetrician whose efforts to fit into her new Texas home are stymied by family conflicts, cultural differences, church politics, and ghosts from her past.

 

5. Will our book be self-published or represented by an agency?


I hope to have it traditionally published, but I'm a first-time novelist and have no agent yet. I do have dreams of someday signing with a particular agent who I've admired for about 25 years. At the 2012 ACFW conference in Dallas I was fortunate to meet her briefly, and after reading my opening pages she asked me to send her the manuscript when it's completed. So I'm working hard to get it in shape to send to her, hopefully by the end of January. 

 

6. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?


I wrote the first words back in February 2012, although the idea's been floating around in the back of my mind for several years.

 

7. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

This one's tough for me. Perhaps Need You Now by Beth Wiseman, or maybe The Church Ladies by Lisa Samson.

 

8. What else about your book might pique a reader's interest?


If you've ever been hurt by “church people,” you might find this book interesting.  

Jordyn– thanks so much for allowing me to participate in this parade.

Check back to see who else will be participating in the blog hop next week.
 
Laura
Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

Changes Coming – Will You Follow Me?

Image 179256 courtesy Dreamstime.com

I've been mostly absent for the last few weeks from social media. Insanely busy at work, desperately trying to fulfill my goal/dream of finishing the first draft of my first novel by the end of the year, dealing with family “stuff.” But changes are coming in 2013, and I hope and intend to be more present, contributing more to the lives of the people in my life, including you. More about all that in the days/weeks to come.

In the meantime, I wanted to let those of you who read this blog in on one exciting bit of news. I'm taking a huge (well, huge for me) leap and launching my own website very soon. I've seen the first “draft” of the design and . . . well . . . I love it. I hope others will, too. The new site should launch the first week of January.

Why should you care? Well, my blog will be moving to the new site when it launches. As I understand it, people who currently follow my blog (whether via email or via RSS feed or through the Blogger “follow” feature) will not automatically become followers of the blog at its new home. So if you want to stay in the conversation, when the time comes, you'll have to actually take a small step to follow me there. I'll provide more information about exactly how to do that in the very near future. I understand it's a very simple process.

I hope you will stick with me. The reason I write is to connect with you.

In the meantime, merry Christmas!

Laura
Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . . 
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me