When Writers Really Need The Right Words...

Writing conferences...we LOVE them!! Truly! It's in this environment where a writer can feel all the creative energy and hopefulness that budding authors share. Professional editors, literary agents, and publishing folks, gift us their insights, experiences, and nitty-gritty. They give honest feedback on ideas and map out the various paths to publication. Writing conferences are FULL of good stuff.

Now, I have to be honest because that's just the way it works here, writing conferences are also very stressful. For the authors who have spent years working and dreaming and re-working their projects, it's just another opportunity for someone to imply that they aren't good enough. That their idea is overdone or too obscure, either way, unsaleable. (That's a real word...a nasty one in my opinion.)

But if you really want to be a published author, as in any profession, you have to take the good with the bad. And with a little preparation and grit, you can learn how to make the most of the not-so-fun parts of any job, right?

Writing conferences can build and tear down. They can inform and overwhelm, inspire and discourage. It's really up to you.

So this is the trick. Writers, aspiring authors, dreamers: we have to learn how to be game-players, in the most authentic, humble sense of the term. Here are some tips:

  1. Prepare for a conference like you do a job interview. Present yourself in every setting as someone who's serious about their writing career, even if you're just starting out. Practice your pitch with your family and friends, perhaps strangers. Get feedback and refine it. Arrive early, engage with the conference faculty and attendees, build relationships and take notes. Smile. :-)
  2. Create a list of talking points, the three most important things about your book, and make sure the information is relevant to the industry professionals you plan to talk with. Comparable books/authors, the audience and genre, and why the world needs your book. Start there.
  3. Do your research. Each literary agent has a web page with details on what they like and who they represent. Follow them on Twitter. Look up #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) to learn about trends. Maybe your book doesn't fall into a trendy box...that's ok. New is great!! Just know how/why it's great and practice selling it.
  4. Set your expectations in line with where you are in your writing journey. If you haven't let anyone see any of your words on page, or if you are stuck on chapter one, you're not quite ready to fully pitch your book yet. Still go to the conference. Attend the workshops that will answer the questions you have at the beginning stage of your project. Still talk to people, you can pitch your idea and state honestly where you are in the process. Every author started at the beginning once. And feedback at every stage is essential.
  5. Prepare your work. If you have a complete book and plan to pitch to agents or editors, make sure your work is the best it can be. Have you received feedback yet? It doesn't have to be a professional editor (though they are amazing and if you can invest in yourself, you won't be sorry), but at least someone who reads a lot and loves you enough to be honest. Even better, find a critique group. Send your words out in the world and see how they fare before you pass them over to the pros.  
  6. Believe in yourself. This may sound obvious but humble self-confidence is REQUIRED if you want to be a published author. And if you spend time doing the first five steps above, you'll find that goes a long way to helping you believe.
Anyone else heading off to San Diego Writing Workshop tomorrow? We're looking forward to some great workshop sessions, and pitching to four awesome agents. 

Wish us luck and all the right words. 

Love you all,

{J & H}

Photo credit: Debby Hudson: Unsplash

Holly and Jenn


Growing into momhood with friends that are trustworthy, authentic and ever-available, is quite a gift! In honor of Sue-Marie's birthday, this gang went to happy hour at Tannin's (YUM) and then visited our mobile recording studio...That's where the magic happened. Check out episode 6 here

#wefriendsohard #mftweekendinjuly #onepieceswerediscussed #laughingismyfavorite #wearesowhite

Love to ALL our amazing friends who've grown up with us through all the Mommy-years!

Holly and Jenn

And Then They Were Teens

Teenagers. Between us, we have five, although Ella is close. Perhaps pre-teen girls get a couple years added to their age. Because it really feeeeels like we have six. And man, they are all complicated.

Here's the disclaimer: we love our children. Like the feel it in your bones, aching in your heart, keep you up at night, kind of love. We do not regret them or wish to turn them in for a different batch or yearn to go back and do it differently. KIDS, WE LOVE YOU!!! YOU HEAR US? LOOOOVVVVEEEE!!!

And now, parents of teens? We have some possibly-shocking information to share. Spoiler alert: parents of young ones, perhaps you want to stop here. You have the benefit of littles who make everything magical, even when they make you crazy. Teens take things to an all new level. Your blissful ignorance is at stake here. You have been warned.

Ok, so parents of teens, these are some of the things that we, and other friends who will remain unnamed to protect the innocent, are learning about:

  • Teen drivers use their phones and drive fast. Most of them. Maybe all of them. They also drive with people in their cars, regardless of your rules or the policeman's rules. Nothing bad can happen. They are immune to the four million possibilities that flash across our minds, inducing unparalleled fear. Even though we know nothing. Still, talk about the rules and possibilities. 
  • Teens in relationships are heavily motivated by their hormones. And sex is not a big deal. Even though we tell them all the physical, emotional, and holy repercussions. Again, we don't know what we're talking about. But keep talking anyway. 
  • Teens know the name of the local drug dealer at their high school. Whether they're experimenting or not. They can "hook you up." Just ask them. Drugs are everywhere. If your teen has gone outside, to a hang-out, a party, a dance, one of the various centers in Ladera, your teen has likely seen a drug or a druggy. Talk to them often about what to do in those scenarios. "Just Say No" is just so 80's. 
  • Teens don't buy kegs and fill red solo cups. They buy hard liquor and fill red solo cups. This is a problem. Speak loud and regularly about alcohol. A side note, if you feel compelled to be the "cool safe house," please don't serve teens-that-aren't-your-own unless you've personally spoken with their parents about it first. This is one of those instances when "Every Child is Our Child" doesn't apply. 
  • Teens with social media...there are a million articles out there about the effects on mental health, access to all-bad-things, changes to attitude, go read those. But know this, social media is here to stay. Best to help the less mature ones in our charge navigate and self-limit it. Abstinence is probably not the answer. Awareness probably is.
  • Teens listen to terrible music with horrifying lyrics. Don't react like our parents did when "Like a Virgin" hit the scene. (I think it's fine.) Because teens also LOVE the great music of the olden days, also know as, the 70's/80's. In this one area, they actually wish they were us. Capitalize on that as much as possible. Music has huge power. And if you haven't seen Bohemian Rhapsody yet, family movie night for sure!! Everyone will love it!
  • Teens love food. You wield great influence when you use food to attract the masses. And you can learn so much watching your kids and their friends. But don't be obvious. Use teeny-tiny chip bowls that need constant refilling. Make cookies or pizzas or sushi, WHATEVER, in batches. Keep them close and turn on your ears. It's equal parts entertaining and frightening.
I think I've covered the basics: sex, drugs, rock n' roll. The take-aways: communication and presence! Our teens want us up in their business in their lives, even if they won't admit to it. 

And it isn't easy. They are moody, erratic, lazy and loud. They smell, curse and make bad decisions. But they are also passionate, innovative, loyal and bright. They give the best hugs, make us laugh, and remind us that we were once just like them. We turned out alright, right? We need to love them through all of the hard, messy parts. And that means we need to know about those things, even though ALL OF IT keeps us up at night.

So go forth and parent, shepherds of teens. If it's hard, you're showing up. And you are not alone.  

Love and strength be with you. 

Holly and Jenn

Sometimes It's OK to Run Away From Your Children

Self-care sometimes means you need too clock out of your parenting job. We tell our children to use their voices, set boundaries, don't be pushed around. Well, guess what? Those life skills apply to parents too.

In Episode 5, we talk about writing conferences, school drop-off, and other parenting wins.


Holly and Jenn

What Happens When You Go Two Weeks Without Your Person...The Minisodo

So last Friday, Holly and I hadn’t seen each other in two weeks. Sure, we’d talked on the phone but we hadn’t had any face-to-face time since before I went on retreat. And nothing quite satisfies the need for writing/girl time than a Friday night creating-planning-podcasting session that begins at BLK Burgerz.

I should mention, I was a little hesitant about going to BLK that night. It is a regular spot for our week-end recaps (and recovery, if you know what I’m referring to), but last Friday was different. Because that day, my 16-yo son was working at our favorite watering hole. 

Yep, Logan is a new bus boy at BLK and for about 16 seconds, I wondered if going to BLK would somehow encroach on his space, interrupt his work mojo, or God forbid, embarrass him.

And then I thought, “Wait, BLK was ours before it was his!” And Holly and I agreed we’d just pretend we didn’t know him. Unless he wanted us to know him?!? (When did parenting become so complicated?)

Anyway, we proudly walked into our favorite local spot, completely refrained from any eye contact, (even though we saw him, confused look and all), and proceeded to our regular booth. 

There we planned TWO summer writing conferences, sent a couple emails to writerly folks, downloaded all the details from our two retreats - we went to Forest Home separate weekends with our separate churches but guess what? Jesus was there for both!

We also  discussed LOTS of other stuff, and enjoyed a delish meal. Logan even checked in on us a few times. Maybe he wasn’t too embarrassed after all. 

Afterwards, we podcasted on our way to pick up her son Josh/drop me at home. We didn’t mean to. We were just going to record a memo for another episode. Ooops.

So, if you haven't heard already, we’d like to introduce...

Our first accidental MINISODO!! (Yes. That’s what we’re calling it. We renamed minosode cuz we’re unique. And big thumbs.) Thanks to all our friends and family for listening along and sharing. Our podcast is now available on SEVEN platforms...WOOHOO!

We hope you enjoy! And stop by BLK soon and say "HI" to our favorite new employed teen!

Happy Friday!!


Jenn and Holly

Holly and Jenn

Dream Boarding and Prayer

Hi everyone! In my last post I mentioned washi-taping my dream board. It was really fun...it brought back so many memories of creating boards like these in junior high. Did any of you do this? Sitting around with Seventeen, Tiger Beat, and probably some of my mom's Good Housekeeping magazines. Cutting out all the things that I loved or wanted or dreamed of becoming. It was scrapbooking onto a bulletin board.

I would add pictures of my friends that I had taken to my local Kodak developing place (Gesslar's Drug Store in Wichita, Kansas) and then WAIT A WHOLE WEEK or more to get them back! Slumber party pictures, riding our bikes to the park, or just taking candid photos at school. I'd sit in my room with all of them spread out on the floor, picking out the ones that weren't blurry or where we all weren't blinking or making a weird face. Whew! Our kids HAVE NO IDEA how good they have it. Everything now is instant. In some ways that's probably not good, but that is another post.

Anyway, this time was a little different. It wasn't about that cute guy in Tiger Beat (Rob Lowe anyone?) or the latest makeup or fashion in Seventeen, but it sparked something in me that I hadn't felt it years. I almost felt twelve again. It was FREEDOM. The space to create whatever I wanted and write down whatever words and thoughts and scripture that came into my head. With no limits of what NEEDED to happen or obligations or thought of what other people needed FROM me. It was all about being in that moment and letting myself JUST BE

It started with a Holy Yoga class taught by my wonderfully awesome friend Brooke. She is amazing and doing exactly what God has called her to do. She led us in a prayer starting with Ephesians 3:20.

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us." Eph 3:20

She encouraged us to write down any thoughts or ideas that crept into our minds as we relaxed and  meditated on those words. Of course since writing is my jam I probably spent more time writing down words and ideas than I actually did meditating on the verse. My paper was completely full after the 45 minutes and I was anxious to put everything on the board in black and white. She provided paper, pens, lots of washi tape (washi tape would have been AMAZING back in 1982), and then gave us the space and time we needed to create whatever our hearts were calling us to. She led us in prayer before we dove in and a room of fifteen women became quiet with contemplation. It was marvelous.

Prayers for my husband and kids came to me first. Then each Fruit of the Spirit. Then my ultimate dream of 2019...to write and publish the book that we have been working on. I saw it so clearly and wrote it in big bold letters right next to the scripture that promises that He can provide more than we can possibly imagine. Wow. Cuz I can imagine A LOT.

I am here to encourage you to take the step and get a board and take the time to sit with it and think about what is ahead for you? Where do you want to go? Where do you see yourself in the next year? Another great thing is the board can morph and change as you do. Goals get bigger, ideas go wider, prayers change as kids and marriages grow. As you grow.

Also made available to us were books about prayers and quotes and stories. Listen to this...

"She designs a life full of dreams only one can fulfill. She finds value in being His instead of being busy. Her passion is contagious. She measures herself in strength, not pounds. She trusts the struggle and breathes in the joy of the journey. Her story is one to be heard. She runs from comparison into the arms of confidence. She turns her back on perfection and she chooses grace." 

-Jenn Sprinkle, Thirty one days of Prayer for the Dreamer and the Doer.

I think I've taken a picture of this saying ten times in the last week to send to friends to encourage them and build them up. It's so RAD!

So, now it's time to encourage you, our faithful readers! I say these things to you: Your story is one to be heard! Choose GRACE. Move into this season with a place where you can record your ideas, write down your thoughts, hopes and dreams and spend time thinking about them and bringing them into reality. It's powerful stuff and sometimes we all need a little boost of motivation to chase after those things our heart longs for. It will take some work, but we are here to support and cheer each other on!

Love, {H}

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Holly and Jenn

Netflix, La Croix and Forgetting All the Words

Hi friends,

In episode 3, we discuss our La Croix addiction, binge-worthy shows, parenting techniques (some even work), and forget a word or two. But what do you expect after 7 p.m.

Thanks for listening along. Please keep sending us messages letting us know what you'd like to hear about. #keepitmessy #teen-parenting #amwriting #createit

See you soon!

Holly and Jenn