Friday, August 26, 2011


My guest this week is debut author  Liz Tolsma. I met Liz for the first time at the 2010 ACFW Conference. Warm, sweet, and sincere, Liz is the type of woman you want as a friend that lives around the corner so you can easily drive off together to the nearest cafe for lattes and good chatting. She and her husband have adopted three children from three different countries. And this September Liz will have another dream come true with the Barbour Publishing release of her novella in A LOG CABIN CHRISTMAS COLLECTION. 

First, three questions for Liz:

You and your husband adopted 3 children from different counties. Do you have a particularly interesting story you'd like to share? Any encouraging words for those considering adoption?

Our oldest is from Vietnam and we were among the first Americans back into the country after the war. We were warned to be aware that, because we would be in the North, the people may be cold and distant toward us. That was definitely not the case. We were celebrities. Everywhere we went, people waved to us – even from across the street – and gave us the victory sign and the thumbs up. We loved the country and were touched by how excited the people were to talk to us and to encourage us in our adoption. I’m sad that Vietnam is now closed to American adoptions. Pray that will change as there are many children there waiting for families.

For anyone considering adoption, I would ask that you would prayerfully consider this option. It’s a beautiful way to build a family. There are 163 million orphans worldwide. That’s more than all the children in the US put together! Ask the Lord if there might be a child (or children!) out there who need you as their parents. Yes, it may be a long, long journey that will test and try your patience, but the rewards are worth it.

Did you write your novella UNDER HIS WINGS during the Christmas season? If not, did you do anything special to get you in the holiday/snowy mood to give your writing a boost? 

I wrote it in the fall, while I was preparing for Christmas, but I didn’t have to do anything to put myself in a holiday mood. Christmas is my favorite time of the year, so I’m ready to think about it any time!

Are you planning any publicity for your novella? Any advice to others in marketing first novels/novellas?

I don’t have anything set in stone, but I’m working on a couple of book signings and I’ll have something special on my blog as Christmas gets closer, so stay tuned for that. I’m blessed to know other published authors and I have been picking their brains to help with publicity. I’m also on Facebook and on Twitter, so you can follow me there, too.

Wednesday, I sent 2/3 of my kids back to school. Then I proceeded to have one of the most productive days of the entire summer. Between various therapy sessions for my youngest, lessons, volunteering and work, all along with multiple vacations, I have to admit to not getting many words written in the last two months.

But Wednesday, that glorious day, I got back into my routine and wrote 2235 words in less than three hours. If you’re counting, by writing an average of 2000 words a day, five days a week, you can write an 80,000 word book in eight weeks. Eight short weeks. Of course, there will be edits to come, but it can be done. I wrote two books – one 82,000 words and the other 17,000 words – in the space of four months. Hey, I had Christmas in there! Just three hours a day, still giving me time for cleaning my house, grocery shopping, laundry, and carting the kids around town.

  1. 1. Rid yourself of all distractions. For me, my biggest distraction is the internet. I’m so tempted to play around on there. We have our wireless router hooked up to one of those Christmas light remote things and turn it off at 10:00 every night. I don’t allow myself to turn it back on the next day until I’ve written my 2000 words. Discover whatever your distraction is and then find a way to defeat it. 
  1. 2. Locate a comfortable place to write. For me, strangely enough, it is my bed. I prop pillows against our tall headboard and sit there. Because I have fibromyalgia, sitting on a chair for long periods of time is uncomfortable and I don’t have the room to spread out on the couch like I need. It works for me. Whether it’s at a desk or on the floor, wherever you’re comfortable, write there.
  1. 3. Establish a routine. This includes a time you write each day. I write between 8:30 and 11:30 in the morning. That’s when I’m most productive. Some do their best work in the evening. Whatever works for you.

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  1. 4. Reward yourself for a job well done. Rewards can be small, like a break for a cup of tea or coffee because you’re halfway to your goal. Or they can be bigger. I like to go out to lunch with my friends – but that doesn’t happen until I’ve met my quota. And when you’re finished with your book, plan a night out with your family or buy a new piece of clothing, or celebrate your accomplishment in some way.

  1. 5. Make others respect your writing time. This is your time and you shouldn’t be interrupted unless someone is tossing up their cookies or dying or the house is on fire. I now have caller ID on my phone, so that makes it easy for me to choose which calls might be important (my kids’ schools, for example) and which I’ll ignore. I know a homeschooling mom who treats her kids with candy if they leave her alone and allow her to make her daily word count. 
  1. 6. Have some kind of warm-up time. I like to do my critique work before I write. It gets my juices flowing. Maybe you’ll want to do a blog post or some other small writing project. Sometimes getting into the flow can be hard, but I find once I get my fingers flying, it’s hard to stop them. I often lose track of time because I’m so focused on my story. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

  1. 7. If you’re someone who outlines before they write, it’s probably easy for you to pick up and start writing at the beginning of the day. I’m a SOTP (seat of the pants) writer who never knows what’s going to happen. In order for me to get going the next morning, I write a sentence or two so I can find my place and remember what I was going to write next. That helps me to get going with my writing. I don’t spend much time sitting and thinking. I do that when I exercise or drive in the car or do the dishes. 

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  1. 8. To borrow those famous words, just do it. In the end, if you don’t put your butt in the chair, it ain’t going to happen. Whether you feel like it or not, write. Even if it’s drivel you’re going to delete later, put those words on paper. That’s what editing is for. The sense of accomplishment when you type The End is worth it!

What other tips do you have that help you be a productive writer? Leave a comment for Liz--she'd love to hear from you!

Author Bio:
Liz Tolsma has lived in Wisconsin most of her life, and she now resides next to a farm field with her husband, their son, and their two daughters. Add a dog and a cat to that mix and there’s always something going on at their house. She’s spent time teaching second grade, writing advertising for a real estate company, and working as a church secretary, but she always dreamed of becoming an author. When not busy putting words to paper, she enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping with her family. She’d love to have you visit her at or at!/LizTolsma

"Under His Wings" coming September 2011 in "A Log Cabin Christmas" from Barbour Publishing
"Simply His Mother" and "As American As They Come" available now in "Cup of Comfort for Adoptive Families"

Soli Deo Gloria


  1. Excellent tips, Liz. One of the things that I miss is my 'talking phone' that identified the caller. Now I have to leave my chair to see the caller id.

    I'm privileged to be one of Liz's critique partners and I can tell you that Under His Wings is really good!

  2. Looking forward to reading your novella, Liz.

  3. Oh, my goodness, I loved this post. Anything to do w/adoption catches my attention. I have an adopted niece and nephew, plus friends who've adopted. Special blessings on you for loving children who need love and caring parents.

    Thanks, Elaine,for having Liz on here.

  4. Having had the blessing of meeting Liz, I can echo your thoughts of what a nice neighbor she would be! So giving, helpful, warm, and everything you said! I have pre-ordered the book bc her story is in it. Looking forward to that and her WWII book!! Susan Karsten

  5. Thank you so much for your kind words, Diana. Andreas & Susan, I hope you enjoy it. I'm very excited about it! Anonymous - I believe I have been blessed far more than my children have. God has been so good to my family and me. Thanks for taking the time to leave such a nice comment. Enjoy the book!

  6. Liz, thank you so much for guest blogging on Everyone's Story this past week. Your insights to time management were quite constructive--and I marvel how you do so well with being a devoted mom and wife. You're a true inspiration.

    I wish you well in your blossoming career.

    ♥ Elaine


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