Category Archives: Work Hard

Book Reviewing: I Face the Same Daunting Obstacles That You Do

Woodward’s History of Wales is shown open to t...
Image via Wikipedia

Book reviews are reader and peer evaluations of a work. I can only imagine the dry-mouths of writers who now wait to hear if their work has passed muster. Will the readers get it? Each reader takes away something different. I can’t tell you how many moments where a reader has read my blog and took it a totally different way. I have either done my job, or the reader has discovered a weak point in my story; or I have touched that reader in a way I couldn’t imagine. Either way a writer braves not just rejections from agents and editors, and endless corrections, they bear one more test—that of the book reviewers combing through their work.

Recently, I reviewed two books. Both of which received a poor review. One was a friend; the other a stranger. The agony I experienced felt the same, but far more poignant for the friend. I don’t enjoy doing bad book reviews. I imagine each writer the same. Maybe some are more arrogant or maybe humble, but they are human beings. I take into consideration the author’s heart, but I do not hold back because to do so would compromise my integrity. I need to tell the truth in love.

Writer’s love to help out other writers, but hiding the truth from them does not allow growth of both thick skin and of learning new techniques. If the people in my critique groups told me everything I wanted to hear then I would never grow and my writing would lack depth. I need people to tell me the truth, even if that truth stings. I never consider rejections as failure or a personal attack against me. It’s a learning process. What did I do wrong? Can I rewrite and resend? What, in the letter, can I cling to and remember that was encouraging? Book Reviews are like that; what can we find in the review that was a strength and what was a weakness? You can use that information to improve your next book.

My conclusion to today’s post is this: If you want me to review your book, remember that I will review it honestly and with love. A determined writer knows his strengths and weaknesses. If you love to write, learn; and if you’re in it for the glory, find a new vocation. Remember that I, too, am a writer working to get my manuscripts published and I face the same daunting mountains that you do—the rejections, the editors, the agents, my weaknesses, my procrastination, the sharks, the scams, and ultimately the book reviewers and readers.

Are you a book reviewer? Have you ever given a bad review? And if you haven’t, what does that say about the reliability of your reviews?

Advertisements

Dear Glory-Seekers

Cover of "Johnny Tremain"
Cover of Johnny Tremain

Dear Glory-Seekers,

It was about the tenth grade when my English teacher accused me of plagiarism. Back then, I read books and wrote stories when I should have studied. It began the day before when my English teacher yelled at me for reading Johnny Tremaine. She said, “Stop reading that romance story.” Then, she gave me a stereotypical story assignment most often given by teachers at the beginning of the year: Write about your summer vacation.

Yawn.

For a creative writing person who loved good fiction and loved to write stories on her spare time, this assignment squelched any creative flair. I chose instead to invent a summer vacation story. My imagination went wild and several pages later I had an admittedly unrealistic summer romance story. I turned it in and the teacher said I failed because it was plagiarized from the romance book that I was reading.

Johnny Tremaine? Really?

I protested the grade, took the fake hall pass my friends had forged, and went directly to the assistant principal. The assistant principal knew me. He knew that I could write. He was there when I won first-place in the city-wide essay contest for Torrance, California and was awarded $100 by the Mayor of Torrance. He knew I rode in the Armed Forces Day Parade because of my talent. He pulled the English teacher into the office.

And we were both soundly chastised; me, for not knowing the rules to break them correctly (i.e. making up a story and not making it realistic); and the English teacher, for falsely accusing me. The worst possible insult to a writer is to accuse them of plagiarizing. However, there are widely spread reports that plagiarism is on the rise, especially where it concerns fan fiction.

20,000 Fans of author, Cynthia Eden, notified her that her novel had been plagiarized by someone named “Misconception.” Her entire novel was posted as Misconception’s own work on FanFiction, and the plagiarizer notably remarked how much work it took to write Cynthia’s novel. Eventually, the scandal found resolution. The plagiarizer took down the novel and left an apology, but never apologized to Cynthia. You can read that article here.

plagiarism means you have stolen someone’s work or life story and claimed it as your own. Any plagiarizer should understand that writing is a lot of work and not for glory-seekers wanting only their name on the front cover of a book and the accolades that come with it; they don’t want the work associated with writing. Someone plagiarized my story once, and there were many ways I could have handled it; because I knew this person I chose instead to let it go. However, that’s not to say I wouldn’t hesitate to fight for my writing. As the story above has shown, I did and still will protect my work. Everything is protected on this blog and on my website. Some people have ongoing permissions to use my work on their blogs. But if you’re not one of them, please ask first before you repost my blog. I will also do the same for you, extending that respect and love required of a Christian.

With Love, Nikki

Don’t Commit Suicide With…

 

Origin Unknown

“Don’t jump!”

My feet are on the edge, toes wiggling, and heels anchoring me to the earth.

“Please don’t jump!”  It’s my own voice begging for life.

But I’m not standing on the edge of some skyscraper considering suicide. I’m about to jump into another project.  It’s another volunteer project.  It’s a committee.  It’s something I’m about to do without first consulting God or my day planner.  If I don’t say ‘no,’ I become overburdened and stressed.

“Doesn’t urgency over everything imply that God’s in control of nothing? Or do we secretly like blustering about perpetually stressed — because I suppose its evidence of the pressing importance of the work I am doing? And yet — if I’m on edge, doesn’t that mean I’m not centered in Him?” (Ann Voskamp, from here)

I step away.  There will always be something important to do in the church for God and unlimited vacancies of positions that go unfilled. The urgency in the voices of those needing help will always fill the hallways of my mind.  But I have to take care of me.  An unhealthy me becomes like an arm on a body damaged by stroke.  People can’t understand how I find the time to write, to blog, to volunteer, and yet still manage to find some down time with my husband.  So here are some of my secrets:

  • Work-Out Every Morning: Working out every morning before I rush to meet the day burns fat all day, warms my cold body, and is better than a Starbucks.  The energy output all day is worth dragging me out of bed early in the morning.
  • Eat Nutritionally: A car can’t run on water.  You must give it gas.  Likewise, a body must have whole grains, veggies, fruits, and good protein to keep going and operating smoothly.  The occasional chocolate is just a treat.
  • Read the Bible: Everyone has different times when they meet God.  I like to read His Word in the middle of the day or in the morning.
  • Pray: Always pray when you reach that fork in the road. ALWAYS PRAY.
  • Keep A Notebook: Keep a notebook where you are most often found and spend a lot of time to write down ideas for blogs or stories.  You’d be surprised at how much you forget when you sit down to blog or write.  Also, keep a notebook or a small pad of paper in your bag or purse.
  • Get A Day Planner: And stick to it!  Schedule your down time, family time, reading time, online time, writing time, etc.  Don’t get distracted!
  • Sleep: Get enough sleep per day.  Creativity needs rest.

Don’t let your time commit suicide.  Consult God before you decide to jump into a project.  Right now my time is well planned and full.  I have no more room for more ministries.  It’s just the right amount of ministry, writing, and rest.

Time is running out.  Yesterday is in the past.  You cannot make it up or do it differently.  What can you do to make sure you don’t burn out?

It’s Not Just A Christmas Thing

A Danish Christmas tree illuminated with burni...
Image via Wikipedia

At one point, he had this thought, and this was the one that deeply struck me. He said, “If I were a Christian baker, would I have to put a cross on every cupcake to make my work pleasing to God?” He then realized that it was what he put “into” the cupcakes that made them pleasing to God, not what he stuck on the top. It was “how” he did his work and “why” he did his work that fulfilled his purpose before his Creator.

– Del Tacket, The Truth Project

A new friend agonized over her job. Her boss didn’t appreciate her work. People didn’t act ethically. “Why should I work hard when everyone else gets away with doing nothing?”

In my state job, everyone got the same reviews and the same pay. Obama’s share the wealth idea is all ready happening in many jobs. One person works hard making the business thrive while another gripes about the pay and fails to work. He allows others to carry his load while he continues to collect a pay check every week. Some allow how much they are getting paid to determine how hard they work.

Your boss doesn’t sit behind the desk. He watches you from heaven. He knows the motivations of your heart and knows how much you do or do not put into your job. You can glorify God by working as hard as someone making double your pay, or you can prove to the wavering Christian or stout atheist how little you really care about God by doing as little as possible. Or you can carry the Christmas spirit in your heart all year long.

I choose to work hard every day. I choose to smile. I choose to laugh. I choose to only call in sick when I am truly sick. I choose not to think that I am better than someone else. I choose not to think the worst. I choose to try and better my position by reinventing it everyday. I choose to support my other coworkers. Worshiping God happens every day. It’s not just a Christmas thing. It’s not just a Sunday thing. God is my boss. I am His employee. He pays the bills, gives us a roof over our heads, and provides the food on our table. He gives us extra spending money. He gives us Grace. It is how we do our work and why we do our work that fulfills our purpose before our Creator.