Thursday, September 30, 2010

Haphazard Fridays: Funny Status Updates

As you can see, I’ve changed my blogging format. Fridays are going to be devoted to whatever I want to write. Today I’m going to share some status updates and comments from Facebook I’ve seen this past week.

  • I posted this picture of my son’s dog, Satchel, on Facebook.

One comment I received was: Now, if THAT isn't a look that just screams ... Yes, I KNOW I’m all that and a bag of doggie biscuits too! I've never seen one! Gorgeous! (Kathryn Kirland)


  • And here’s a status update that’s going around:

I wish I could be more like a pencil in 5 ways. 1. Everything I do will always leave a mark. 2. I could always correct the mistakes I make. 3. What is important is on the inside of me. 4. In life, I will go through painful sharpening, which will only make me better. 5. To be the best pencil, I must allow myself to be held and guided by the hands that hold me.... The Lord’s.

I Googled it but could not find where this quote originated from. If anyone knows, please tell me so I can give the correct attribution!

  • And here’s another one, that’s not quite so sweet:

Too often, we lose sight of life’s simple pleasures, remember,when someone annoys you it takes 42 muscles in your face to frown, but, it only takes 4 muscles to extend your arm and slap that person upside the head.

I’m using twelve muscles to smile!

  • And this one I saw posted by Max Metcalf.

Recently I was asked to play in a golf tournament. At first I said, "Naaahhh!" Then they said to me, "Come on, it's for handicapped and blind kids." Then I thought... “ I could WIN this!"

One good thing about Facebook is that someone will post something that will brighten your day!


Random Thoughts

On Thursdays, I write in this blog whatever pops into my head. I don’t preplan—simply sit down and begin typing. I don’t know if anyone else finds these posts of interest, but I do. It’s interesting to me to see what pops out; sorta like being there to see Athena pop out of the skull of Zeus. So here goes today’s thoughts:

  • Our hummingbird population dwindles. At one point six or seven attacked each other for a chance to drink the sugared water. We placed the hummingbird feederimage right outside our bedroom window. Every morning we watch the feeding frenzy. I’ve found hummingbirds are vicious in their quest. I’m glad they’re small. Imagine one skydiving at your head!
  • The honey bees are now gone. The hummingbirds not only attacked each other, they also attacked the bees and vice-versa.
  • Finally cooler temperatures have arrived. Highs in the low 80s. Actually, for me I prefer the highs in the low 70s. But this is much better than our summer of endless days above 100 degrees.
  • I’ve had my nose to the grindstone and have been able to crank out @ 5000 words in two days. I’ve typed so much that my arm is aching. I had to prop my right arm on a pillow to continue typing.
  • That was irritating. Right in the middle of typing the above point, the computer decided to install new updates. Normally a warning is issued. This time the computer took it upon itself to configure updates and shut down in the middle of my typing. Who’s in control here?
  • Something I find of interest. I believe it was January of 1995 that I started writing the first draft of Thundersnow. We had gotten a Chihuahua puppy for Christmas who sat in my lap as I typed. Today as I’m typing out my final draft, we have a Chihuahua puppy (actually half Chihuahua). So it begins and ends with Chihuahua puppies. If it’s ever published, I’ll have to dedicate the book to T.C. and Shay.
  • Back to the grindstone. I’m planning to finish two chapters today, with God’s help!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Writing Life Wednesday (1)

When I look at pictures on Facebook, I always study the background--the furniture, the house, the pets--whatever is lurking back there. Perhaps I have an abnormal interest in things like that, or maybe it’s a normal thing for writers. So, if anyone else is interested in such things, here’s my work space.

036When I first really committed to writing, my husband, Carl, gave me this. One day it may be true. I have it on my desk, of course!



My desk. On the right is the manuscript for Thundersnow, the original I wrote back in 1995.039

And this is the continuation of the desk. I have my sons’ senior pictures on the shelves.040

The picture below is my bookcase that holds mainly religious books. I do have The Annotated Sherlock Holmes, yearbooks and The Complete Garden Guide on the top shelf. I had to empty the bottom shelf because my puppy, Shay, kept chewing on the books. 


This is the bulletin board behind my desk. I did have it filled with timelines, characters, etc. for Moonbow, but, after my grandson,Trace, was born, I took down everything I thought he could reach. Because . . .


. . .his crib he uses when he visits is next to it. He’s sixteen months old now.  042 I made these when my sons were toddlers. Kind of falling apart now, but I like to look at them.043 My father died in 1979 and this reminds me of him. Fishing was his passion and he said this looked like the perfect fishing hole.

044And this says it all.             045 If we never begin, we will never be able to say:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

And now to work!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Old Sayings

When my mother was growing up, language in the south was much more colorful than it is on average today. There are still some folks around who come up with unique phrases (or steal ones they hear). For example, my husband.

These are his responses to some typical questions:

How are you? Finer than frog hair split three ways.

Can you get that for me? Does a cat have a climbing gear?

Taste this to see if it’s done. That would gag a maggot.

Here are some more that I’ve heard from other people over the years:

  • I’ll tan your hide.
  • Pretty as a speckled pup.
  • He’s jumping around like a chicken with his head chopped off.
  • He would make a preacher cuss.
  • She made him ill as a hornet.
  • He’s as slow as the moon arising.
  • Money is as scarce as hen’s teeth.
  • They’re as alike as two peas in a pod.
  • He’s as limber as a dishrag.

I remember my grandmother would never say, “The cat had kittens.” Instead she said, “The cat found kittens.” And a woman would be “in the family way” instead of pregnant.

Because of the advent of television, our language in getting more generic. You occasionally hear people come up with unusual similes or metaphors. And when they do, don’t that beat a goose a gobbling!

Anyone have any favorites?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Wasted Days

I’ve been contemplating my life as of late. Wasted days and wasted nights. That’s how I feel and I wonder, why did I do that? Why did I waste all of the opportunities God has given me?

One of the saddest times of my life was when my husband started working the night shift. At the time, he worked as an Avionic Technician at Ft. Rucker. Also around the same time, one of my sons  married and my other son left for college. I was so lonely! (Words of songs keep popping into my mind, but I’ll refrain from singing them.) Loneliness is something we can all relate to.

But what I am thinking about now—now that my life is constantly filled with interruptions—is why didn’t I take that time to write? Why did I fritter it away watching TV shows or playing video games? Perhaps I was too depressed to write at the time.

Now, I want to write, yet I’m having difficulty finding the time.

It’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché because it is true. One morning you awake to find you are old(er), and those dreams you had have passed you by. I’m by no means too old to write. But I know I will not have the time to write all of the books I want to.

Enough with the pity party! I can write the book now that God wants me to. Get thee behind me, Satan!

(Okay—just as I was getting ready to post this, my cat threw up and my mother came down to ask me to cook something for lunch, although she knows I’m trying to work. Anyone know a secluded place I can escape to for awhile? By the way, I will cook my mother’s lunch. I would just like to have more than fifteen minutes of uninterrupted time! But God knows that and he will give me what I need.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

RANDOM THOUGHTS on the ACFW Conference Part 2

  • Okay—Part 1 made it sound like I’m a hypochondriac. But I actually took all the medicine because I’ve gotten sick on the last couple of trips I’ve taken. Honestly, I’m not a hypochondriac—well, most of the time.
  • I hit the ground running when we arrived at the hotel. Carl checked us in and I left him with the bags and took just the essentials with me. I was to meet with Jill Williamson and had to call to verify where we were to meet. I searched for my cell phone and could not find it. I sat down and pulled everything from the bag, pawing through it. When I looked up, I saw Jill sitting two chairs away. Whew! I walked over to her and she had her cell phone in hand trying to contact me. I felt so unorganized. I’m usually better organized—well, most of the time.
  • I had planned to go to the room and change clothes, maybe take a shower. We arrived too late for that. I usually look better than I did that day—well, most of the time. (I hope!)
  • Chip MacGregor gave the devotional Sunday morning at breakfast. He said he knew what we were all thinking—“Asparagus?” So at my lunch with James Scott Bell we had broccoli instead of the usual asparagus we had been having at every meal. I tried to make a joke—“This doesn’t look like asparagus.” He looked at me and said, “No, that’s broccoli.” I didn’t get a chance to explain my feeble attempt at a joke. I do know the difference between broccoli and asparagus—well, most of the time.
  • The plane ride home was exciting. We had a connecting flight to catch in Memphis and our first flight was delayed in Indianapolis. By the time the plane flew into Memphis, we had little time to spare. Impatiently, we waited for our checked carry-on bag. The strap was caught against the wall and precious minutes ticked by waiting for maintenance to release it. Finally, my husband broke the strap off and we sprinted for our connecting flight. We ran and ran and ran. The muscles in my legs burned and my heart pounded. “Save yourself,” I said to my husband. “This is as far as I can go.” “You can make it. I’m not leaving you,” he vowed with tears in his eyes that evoked images of Lost when Jin vowed to Sun they would always be together. Perhaps not quite as dramatic as that. I did tell Carl to run ahead, hoping he could get them to delay the flight until I limped aboard. But Carl wouldn’t leave me. Fortunately, we made it with seconds to spare. I usually can run faster than that—ha!--well, none of the time. I pushed myself to the limit that day. And now to push myself to the limit in my writing!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

RANDOM THOUGHTS on the ACFW Conference Part 1

  • I met in person several people I had met online. A weird thing—or maybe not so weird—their personalities were the same in person as online. Their voices shine through in their writing. I wonder if mine does?
  • Another weird thing—most did not look like I imagined. They sounded like I imagined but did not look like I imagined. Hmm…
  • The world is full of nice people. That’s a good thing. Just as you need ten compliments to cancel out one negative comment, you probably need ten nice people to cancel out that one rude person.
  • Carl’s mom had a lot of small angel pins. I took one with me and the attendant on the first flight was named Angel!
  • I haven’t flown in a long time and wondered if I would be nervous. Didn’t bother me at all. I slept through most of it. Hope I didn’t snore or drool. (I asked Carl and he said I didn’t.)
  • Dennis Hensley’s class (Mastering Structure . . . .) covered everything. I loved his class. He was hilarious and so informative. I had an agent conference the first day and an editor conference the second day during his class. I hated I had to miss even one second.
  • I was exhausted the whole weekend and in quite a bit of pain, but I did better than I anticipated. I took a whole slew of medicine with me. Medicine for migraines, nausea, heartburn, nasal congestion, etc., etc. Thank goodness I didn’t have to use any of them.
  • I’m guessing I had so few problems since the conference was fragrance free. Thanks to those who made it so. I can get a whiff of certain perfumes and have a pounding headache in seconds.
  • Tim Downs was absolutely wonderful! So entertaining and yet so much of what he said touched me deeply.
  • I met a couple of unpublished people I know are going to be big names very soon. Stay tuned.
  • I found it funny that some people I met once and never saw again. Others I kept running into over and over. I think God kept thrusting them in my face to say, remember him/her. They will be in your future. I sure hope some of them are. Such wonderful, encouraging people!
  • Thanks to my husband for going with me. He helped keep me focused and partially organized. And he made some good contacts for me. I probably met a lot of men that I would not have met if Carl had not tagged along.
  • I loved meeting the men who write. It is a crying shame more Christian men are not published. Christian publishers, take a chance. Please publish more books for men!
  • Personally, I don’t think of books in genres. To me, a good book is a good book.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Just One Thing I Learned at the ACFW Conference

The one thing I learned from the ACFW Conference: God works in mysterious ways. We know his ways are not our ways. Sometimes he hammers this home to us.

Sunday morning I opened my Bible at random. I read Psalm 37 and drew comfort from many of its verses, especially the last verse that says:

The Lord helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him. v 40
Two things came to mind when I read this. First, I felt as if God were saying, “You’re on the right track. Stay the course.” In my one sheet, I wrote that my character “seeks refuge in the Lord.”  Coincidence? Or God’s reassurance?
The second thing I thought: I need a refuge. A refuge from the stress of dealing with agents and editors. (Not that I think they are wicked . . . .) And then I left my room to meet with an editor. Meeting with agents and editors is extremely stressful, and I was thankful this was my last one of the conference.
After my appointment, my husband and I went to lunch. Agents and editors were holding court and people crowded their tables. I wanted to get far away from the “maddening crowd,” so I searched for a place of refuge. An almost empty table stood against the wall, and I made a beeline for it with my husband following. Two men were already seated, and I asked if we could join them. I only sought the emptiness of the table and scarcely glanced at the men. After I was seated, a little awkward pause occurred. Normally I would have said, “Is this your first time at a conference?” God had a firm hand over my mouth and, fortunately, I didn’t say anything. “Jim,” as I read on the name tag, gestured to the other man and said, “This is Tim Downs.” I don’t know what I said. I probably looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Not that I didn’t want to meet Mr. Downs. I just wasn’t expecting it. And then a group of people joined us. In an aside to me, “Jim,” knowing I was out of my element, said,  “From Bethany House.” 
He didn’t say who the woman was from Bethany House. And I didn’t know until Sunday night when I saw her walk  onto the stage to receive her Lifetime Achievement Award. I had eaten lunch that day with Carol Johnson.
God definitely has a sense of humor. I sought refuge from stress and found myself seated with a group of people that included Tim Downs, James Scott Bell, Dan Walsh and Carol Johnson. He is also compassionate and did not allow me to know more than I could handle at the time.
Why did I seek out that table? Just as I turn the pages of a mystery, searching the pages for clues, until that aha moment, I will search each new “page” of my life to find the answer. Perhaps I will never have that aha moment. At least not until I reach heaven and God says with a laugh, “Remember that day you sought refuge and I sent you to that particular table? It was for you to learn . . . .” And then I will know.
For now I’m guessing humility.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Favorite Vehicle

Front view of a 1949 Dodge pickup.

              This is a Dodge 1949 pickup truck.

This one is a 1953. I like it, but it’s not red!

I said the other day that I didn’t have a favorite car. Actually not true. I love antique trucks. I looked through hundreds of pictures and found that I specifically like Dodge trucks from the late 1940s or early 1950s. More specifically red trucks, bleeding rust, with a black running board and black tires. While researching, I saw some with white-rim tires and those I rejected. And, I don’t want the truck restored to shiny perfection. I want a farm truck that looks like a farm truck. Why so specific? I was born in 1953. I’m thinking one of my relatives must have had a similar truck and that memory is imbedded in my mind.

What does this preference for old trucks say about me? One thing it says is that I’m very detail oriented. I don’t like any type of antique truck but a very specific one. And I looked at hundreds of trucks online before finding the “right” one. I have a desire to be accurate (some call me a perfectionist).

Also I think this shows I’m nostalgic, longing for those early years of childhood when we visited my aunt and uncle on their farm. I’m a simple person and actually long for more simplicity. I would love to live in an old log house with original wide-planked wooden floors. Dark floors with worm-holes and scruff marks. And my living room would have log walls and a stone fireplace with two comfy chairs flanking it. My cat would be curled up on the hearth and my dogs on the braided rag rug between the chairs. I would have an ottoman to prop my feet on. The perfect season would be fall, cool enough for a fire, but not too cold. A basket of pinecones and stacked firewood would sit near the fireplace. The smell of burning leaves would seep through the windows, mingling with the rich pine scent of the burning wood. And, of course, I would have a book in my hands and a cup of coffee by my side.


So, what is the Sheila Hollinghead brand as a writer?

Simple, comforting, nostalgic, but also detail-oriented and a stickler for accuracy.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Random Thoughts

  • I see in the news Sarah Palin came out with a new word—refudiate. It looks as if she combined two words—refute and repudiate. The article mentions a few words that have recently been added to our vocabulary by fusing two words like Sarah Palin obviously did. One of those was guesstimation. I don’t know why, but I don’t like “guesstimation.” Why can’t someone say, “My best guess is that the world will end in 2012” instead of “I guesstimate the world will end in 2012”? My spell check likes guesstimate but not guesstimation. Ha!
  • Two asteroids flew by the earth Wednesday. Two in one day. I wonder how many times that happens?
  • I also see in the headlines, “Snooki Arrested.” Are you like me, wondering who in the world is Snooki?
  • Yeah, I’m getting old(er) and don’t keep up with all of these things. As most of us get older, we tend to relive our past. Carl and I watched John Wayne’s last movie the other night. I watched so many cowboy movies growing up that I tired of them. But I suppose I’m changing in my old(er) age and starting to like them again. In “The Shootist” John Wayne’s character finds out he has cancer and only a few weeks to live. When he made the movie, Wayne had already had a cancerous lung removed, but the doctors had declared him cancer free. image But after the movie, the cancer returned and he died a few years later. I read the Wikipedia entry and it said John Wayne changed the last scene of the movie. The original ending implied the young man (played by Ron Howard) became a gunslinger. The final film’s version has Howard’s character throwing the gun away and Wayne’s character giving a nod of approval. A much more satisfying ending, don’t you think?
  • Snooki or John Wayne? I think I’ll stick with The Duke. I guesstimate most of my friends will agree. Anyone care to refudiate that?