Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Life As I Know It

...will never be the same.

Tonight is the last night my daughter sleeps under my roof before leaving for college. I recall the first night we brought her home from the hospital. The baby monitor was on full blast. I heard every sigh, snuffle and sneeze. I heard her uneven newborn breaths as her lungs were still adjusting to life in this new world. Just when I thought she wasn't breathing, then the hiccoughing sounds of rapid succession of air into her tiny lungs gave me a sense of relief. I dozed fitfully through the night, hypervigilant for any irregularity or problem.There was so much we didn't know, so much we could never foresee. No baby book can tell you all you need to know.

At a certain point it's just time to jump in. To take a step forward. To jump off the cliff of tight control. Sure there is the security of a good routine, but usually it's false because life can change at any moment. A sudden fever, vomit in the van, yellow poo all up the behind just as you're ready to walk into church. A tearful re-teaching of the math lesson she didn't get. An unexpected diagnosis. Tearful sobs brought on by the stinging words of a friend. The uncertainty in her eyes as she wonders if she's captivating enough to capture the heart of a wonderful man some day.

All the little moments you wonder if she's going to be okay.

What a confidence I am privileged to have to know that Christ works all things together for His good. What a joy to know we can take all the complexities of parenting to the Father. What a deep and abiding blessing to know His love covers a multitude of sins and mistakes.

That night we brought her home, there was of course a sense of knowing that life as I knew it would never be the same. And tonight, that sense returns once again. And though I know she'll come home again and have many more nights under my roof, it still won't be quite the same.

And isn't that a good thing after all? There is so much fullness of life to live, I'd never want to hold her back and keep life the same forever.

It's just two ends of the parenting spectrum I'm feeling today. And what a blessing it's been. What a privilege--to be a parent.

I humbly thank you my God and Father. And I praise you for the confidence in knowing she's in your care.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Branding for Writers

Branding....no not with a  hot iron on the ranch!  (although that would be a great setting for a great story--but I digress--need more coffee!)

I'm talking about what brand an author or writer has. It's a certain voice, or genre. It's an appeal to a particular audience. It's what the readers know they will get every time they pick up a book from that author. It's something dependable, predictable, and most importantly--sellable!

Publishers, I'd imagine--since I don't have one yet, want an author they don't have to work unreasonably hard to sell their work. Although I personally thought vampires fell into that category, there apparently is an audience out there who thought differently. There needs to be an established or establish-able audience for a debut writer to be worthy of a risk to the publisher.

Chip MacGregor's blog today got me thinking. Visit his blog to get your juices and thoughts pondering,
http://www.chipmacgregor.com/blog/marketing-and-platforms/do-i-need-to-have-a-writing-brand/, or follow the link at the sidebar on my blog-page.

So, what's your brand? 
What's my brand?
Hmmmm.

Well, that's easy--at first glance anyway. Historical Romance right?

I'm only on my second book, so perhaps one can't have a brand yet with only two books. As they say, one or two plot points on a graph don't make a trend. But let's look at what I have so far: both are historical romances set in 1890's. Both are in rural settings that depict country life in a small town--it's what I know. And after all, we are told to write what we know, right?

My themes are rural, historical, simple living, and faith. Ugh, sounds so boring...how is that different than a thousand other wannabe writers hoping to catch the eye of a publisher or agent? There seems to be a fine balance to be struck between not being too different, or too much the same to what is already on the shelves.

So what makes it stand out as sellable--without selling my soul to make it so?  
Hmmmmm.

I'm Mennonite, ahem, not Amish. No bonnet. Yes, we have electricity (laptop, hello). My tagline on my blog, Twitter page, and Pinterest is--Mennonite girl without a bonnet. Its sort of like the saying "you can take the girl out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the girl." There's no bonnet, but you can't take the bonnet out of my worldview.

My husband is a beekeeper. Our honey jar labels have an Amish buggy on them. The honey is made in northern Indiana Amishland, but any Amish or Mennonite here would smirk if we heard someone say the honey is Amish honey--sort of makes you think of honey bees with bonnets and suspenders! LOL.

My husband thinks that if I'd just put a bonnet on my characters, my work would sell faster. But I just can't do it. Why? I think it's something sort of opposite of "I can pick on my little brother, but you can't." It feels more like "You can write about Amish or Mennonite (while we sort of snicker), but I can't write about my own." (and kudos BTW to any author who can write it, I'm only taking an inward inventory here!) And yet strangely, several of my characters are based on real Amish people I know--God rest their souls. But in my book they don't wear bonnets, they aren't Amish. It's the essence of who they were that influenced my writing--not their bonnets. But is that enough? And for who? To put a bonnet on them seems to betray them in my mind somehow.

So, is "Mennonite girl without a bonnet who writes historical fiction" really a brand?
Hmmmm--no answer here.

Perhaps I just haven't written enough yet to know my brand. I mean I am regularly tempted by Colonial Quills writers to jump the fence to a different century! Would that mess up one's brand? It would still be historical romance right?
Hmmmm.

What have you learned about brand? How has your brand changed? 

Have you compromised to establish a brand?