Monday, December 31, 2012

The Next Big Thing

Today, I'm participating in Dale Eldon's "The Next Big Thing" blog hop. If you're an author and would like to participate, please let me know!Thanks to Jordyn Redwood for inviting me! Check out her "Next Big Thing" here: Redwood's Medical Edge
1. What is the working title of your book?  Conception, Moonbow, Book One

2. Where did the idea come from for the book? I dreamed the story about fifteen years ago. The dream was so vivid that I felt I needed to write the story.

3. What genre does your book fall under? Suspense/thriller, perhaps even sci-fi

4. What's the synopsis of your book?

Rayden Brooks, a fertility doctor, kidnaps Gisa, a young widow, pregnant after being inseminated with her dead husband’s sperm. Or, so she believes. Rayden informs her she carries an embryonic clone, and Die Auserwahlten, the Chosen Ones, want the unborn baby. Gisa flees and clashes with the doctor, whom she does not trust, and with her pursuers. She must make choices that will alter her life and the lives of others forever.
Are some men born evil? What if they got a second chance?
5. Will you book be self-published or represented by an agency? self published

6. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? I've worked on it, off and on, for about a year.

7. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Boys from Brazil. However, I approach the book from a totally different angle.

8. What else about your book might pique a reader's interest? One of the pivotal scenes is based on a real-life event (one of my family member's).
Here are some more blogs for you perusal: 
http://elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/another-next-big-thing-shout-outs-to-fine-bloggers-and-author-services/

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thundersnow Free on Amazon

Eternal Springs and Thundersnow, In the Shadow of the Cedar, Book 1, are free on Amazon today through Saturday. Click on the books in the sidebar if you would like a free ebook. If you do not have a Kindle, you can download an app for your computer. You are welcome to share! Thanks!



The eReader Cafe

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pinion and Pride

eagleAs often happens, and as I have mentioned before, certain topics and images enter my mind and then I will read articles and posts about the very thing I have been thinking of.

I have just finished Clothed in Thunder, and I’ve been going from depths of despair to periods of giddiness. How can it be that authors and other artists can be both self confident and so full of fear? That ecstasy can follow so quickly on the heels of agony?

Nathan Bransford's blog addresses this very issue. You can read his words for yourself by clicking the link.

On his blog, he had a picture with the words to The Progress of Poesy by Thomas Gray. I read these words in that poem: Two coursers of ethereal race,
With necks in thunder clothed, and long-resounding pace.

Whoa! What a coincidence that I read a blog post dealing with the very things I have been dealing with that included the words “thunder clothed.” (Probably would have been a better title for my book, but it’s too late now.)

Here are the last two verses of The Progress of Poesy (poesy means poetry, by the way)

Nor second he, that rode sublime
Upon the seraph-wings of Ecstasy,
The secrets of th' abyss to spy.
  He pass'd the flaming bounds of place and time:
The living Throne, the sapphire-blaze,
Where Angels tremble while they gaze,
He saw; but blasted with excess of light,
Closed his eyes in endless night.
Behold, where Dryden's less presumptuous car,
Wide o'er the fields of glory bear
Two coursers of ethereal race,
With necks in thunder clothed, and long-resounding pace.

Hark, his hands the lyre explore!
Bright-eyed Fancy hovering o'er
Scatters from her pictured urn
  Thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.
But ah! 'tis heard no more——
  O Lyre divine! what daring Spirit
  Wakes thee now? Tho' he inherit
Nor the pride, nor ample pinion,
  That the Theban eagle bear
Sailing with supreme dominion
  Thro' the azure deep of air:
Yet oft before his infant eyes would run
  Such forms as glitter in the Muse's ray,
With orient hues, unborrow'd of the Sun:
   Yet shall he mount, and keep his distant way
Beyond the limits of a vulgar fate,
Beneath the Good how far—but far above the Great.

So, what do these verses mean? I didn’t have a clue, but I’m always ready to explore. I googled to find analysis of this poem. I found that most people are as clueless as I am.

Yet, these words seem to reflect the feelings I have. Therefore, I decided to summon up my courage and take a stab at analyzing these last two stanzas.

Nor second he, that rode sublime
Upon the seraph-wings of Ecstasy,
The secrets of th' abyss to spy.

To write this in simpler language, “Nor second he, that rode upon the angel wings of joy, the secrets of the deeps to see.” Now I am beginning to glimpse the meaning. When in the throes of creation, the artist, and I will equate this to a writer, sees deeper.

He pass'd the flaming bounds of place and time:
The living Throne, the sapphire-blaze,
Where Angels tremble while they gaze,
He saw; but blasted with excess of light,
Closed his eyes in endless night.

When we write, we are submerged into a different place, a different time. Sometimes the images are so vivid and elicit such strong emotion that we must close our eyes.

Behold, where Dryden's less presumptuous car,
Wide o'er the fields of glory bear
Two coursers of ethereal race,
With necks in thunder clothed, and long-resounding pace.

Dryden, of course, was a famous poet. Gray is giving his opinion—what exactly that is I don’t know. To reword it, “Behold, Dryden’s less true chariot, wide over the fields of glory bear two horses of heavenly race, that have necks clothed in thunder, and an impressive bearing.” It seems to me that Gray is saying that Dryden was popular and seemed impressive but was lacking in truth.

Hark, his hands the lyre explore!
Bright-eyed Fancy hovering o'er
Scatters from her pictured urn
Thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.

Ooohhhh, I like this part. “Fancy” refers to the artist’s imagination. Notice that while he is exploring (his hands the lyre explore), that “Fancy” visits. I have seen this again and again. It’s when I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard that my imagination takes flight. If we are lucky we can actually create “thoughts that breathe” and “words that burn.”

But ah! 'tis heard no more——
O Lyre divine! what daring Spirit
Wakes thee now? Tho' he inherit
Nor the pride, nor ample pinion,
That the Theban eagle bear
Sailing with supreme dominion
Thro' the azure deep of air:

Ha! Sounds like writer’s block to me. The “Theban eagle” refers to the famous poet Pindar of Thebes who died in 438 B.C. “Pinion” refers to the primary feathers of a bird. Pindar had the self respect (pride) and the talent (feathers) needed to rise to great heights. What of those of us lacking in those two things?

Yet oft before his infant eyes would run
Such forms as glitter in the Muse's ray,
With orient hues, unborrow'd of the Sun:
Yet shall he mount, and keep his distant way
Beyond the limits of a vulgar fate,
Beneath the Good how far—but far above the Great.

In other words, those of us with “infant eyes”? Although infants, we have images given to us by the “Muse”—whatever or whoever the “Muse” may be. I think most writers are aware of the muse in their writing lives. I believe in this context that “orient” refers to “radiant or glowing.” Therefore, I believe this is saying that even those of us who are not mature writers can still write beyond our skill, catching glimpses of beauty. Although we may not be “the eagle” (as Pindar was the eagle), we can still mount upon the eagle (our muse) and rise above our mediocrity.

Hmmmm…I can still catch the feeling in the last part about feeling inferior, unfit for the work we are doing, yet somehow still managing to surpass that and be able to sail, as Pindar did, upon the “azure deep of air.”

This reminds me of the verses:

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint
.

Yes, this is the way I feel. I am the “faint,” the one who “has no might.” And, I become anxious because I forget the “the Lord shall renew” my “strength.” He will allow me to “mount up with wings like eagles,” to “run and not be weary,” to write “and not faint.”

Praise be to God we do not have to rely on our own puny efforts—for that surely would be pure agony. Instead we can experience the ecstasy provided to us by God. Praise be!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Before the Screams Die Down...

Some friends and I were having a discussion the other night. A couple of them said that they couldn't sing. But that's not true. We can all sing. The problem is that our singing may be so horrific that people cannot listen.

The same with dancing. We can all dance. However, sometimes it's painful to watch those with no sense of rhythm.

The same with writing. Some may tolerate our writing, even if we're writing "off key," even if we have no "rhythm." Some may even find it interesting. Much like William Hung who tried out for American Idol and became a media celebrity. But that type of celebrity is short lived.

Someone gave a stat the other day. Ten percent of people we come in contact with will dislike us. I'm sure that varies depending on the person. The point is that we will put our work out and at least ten percent of the population will dislike it. For no reason.

And it shouldn't matter to us. Especially Christian writers. We obey God and put our work out, not caring if 10, 20, or 50% dislike it. It's none of our business. It is only our business to put out quality work that glorifies our creator.

Yet, it's hard to beat down those feelings when we first publish a book. A lot of people have likened publishing a book with giving birth. Yes, it is a lot like that, but a lot more painful. At least for me.

I've said this before. When I write a book, I become immersed in the story. I am living the story. Most stories have a degree of conflict (otherwise how boring that would be!). So, I wrestle with the same problems as my characters. And, then, I publish the book. (Some people sit on their books for years before seeking publication. The following does not apply to them.)

With a baby, we are given years to "polish" the child. However, our books are pushed out into the world before our screams completely die down. Thus, our emotions are raw. We are vulnerable to the slightest slight. We are in the midst of postpartum depression. It doesn't take much to reduce us to tears.

Or, maybe that's just me.

We want people to revel with us in our joy of producing our work. We want people to wipe the sweat from our brow. We want people to support us on our wobbly legs.

I'm beginning to think that upon publishing a book a writer needs to completely distance themselves from it. Go on vacation. Take a cruise.

Yeah, I'll do that one day. Today, however, I have to stand upon my legs that wobble. I have to wipe my own sweat from my brow. I have to stuff my feelings down and repeat the mantra...I did my best. It's none of my business now who likes it. It's none of my business...it's none of my business...it's none of my business...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Book Signing for Clothed in Thunder

Whew! I think I'm going to make it! Got the cleaned up version of Clothed in Thunder, In the Shadow of the Cedar, Book 2 uploaded and ordered the books for my book signing.

This whole process of publishing a book is nerve wracking! Have I said that before? I'm learning, though, and I hope my next book signing will be less stressful.

If you are in the area and would like to purchase a book, drop by the Opp Public Library on Saturday, December 22nd at 2 p.m. Hope to see you there!
 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Brain Broke My Body

Yep, my brain has broken my body. My brain has been in overdrive--not allowing my body to rest. Now, I have a sore throat and fever. But that's just minor. I finally slept last night after living on 3 or 4 hours of sleep for the past three or four weeks. No wonder I feel sick!

So, where did that revved up brain get me? In regards to Clothed In Thunder, I am finally through with revising the book. I do have a hard time letting go. I continue to tweak, tweak, tweak. But I think I'm finally through.

I hope!

I have received the first proof, and my copy editor is now going through it. I'll fix the typos and then order another proof. If, by some miracle, the second proof is fairly "clean," I'll order the books for my book signing.

I do not have a time frame on when that will be, since a lot of factors come into play. Still, I'm holding out hope that I'll have the books before Christmas.

I have been bouncing off the walls!  It's exciting to have this 2nd book almost in hand.

In addition, I've also had ideas for book 3. I had always planned for In the Shadow of the Cedar to be a three book series. Now, I have a bit of a problem. I have more ideas than can be contained in book 3.

I've decided to do a spin off of the series. Ideas are still rambling around in my head, so I'm not sure what direction I will go in. And, I know, it will be 2014 before I'm able to write that spin-off series. I'm pretty sure at this point that the spin-off series will end with a book I've entitled Dying Thunder. It will take place when the guys come home from war, and I pretty much know the story line for it, including the ending. Told you my mind was in overdrive!

This then is what I plan to do in 2013--
1. Publish Conception, Moonbow, Book One (rough draft is complete)
2. Write and publish In the Shadow of the Cedar, Book 3 (working title is Thunder in the Shadows)
3. Publish Rise, Write, Shine, a book for Christian writers
4. Write the rough draft for Misconception, Moonbow, Book Two (with plans to publish it in 2014)

Tentative plans for 2014--
1. Publish Misconception, Moonbow, Book Two
2. Write and publish the first book of the spin-off series that I have not named yet. The series name will be In the Shadow of the Pines.
3. Write the rough draft for Reconception, Moonbow, Book Three
4. Write the rough draft for the second book of In the Shadow of the Pines.

If my brain continues working and my body doesn't fail me, it should be doable. We shall see.

If all goes well, by this time next year I'll have two nonfiction books and four fiction books published. Lord willing!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

One Step Closer

Writing of my writing may not be a good idea.

I'm afraid to say too much because I don't want people to have certain expectations when they read Clothed In Thunder. I also do not want to inadvertently "spoil" the book for others.

So, I want to tell my readers something, yet, I'm not sure how to say it. This is the best I can do:

Thundersnow was an emotionally difficult book to write. I was glad when I finished. This book, Clothed In Thunder, has been even more difficult. Much more difficult. Perhaps it's because I'm functioning on very little sleep.

However, I had an aha moment last night. One of my friends told me that I was probably processing some things that I had never processed before. And, then I knew why I was so emotional over this book.  But I can't tell you! All I can say is that some of the emotion felt by Sarah Jane came from the pain within me.

So, I'm now wondering how others will view the book? Since they did not travel my path, their assessment may be totally different than my own. We shall see!

Anyway, I am a day or so from ordering the proofs. After I get my "copy editor" to read the proof, and I make the changes, reupload, order another proof, go through the same stages again, then I will be ready to release Clothed In Thunder. How long will that take? I'm hoping only three weeks. If we're lucky, perhaps less!

KEEP WATCHING THIS SPACE FOR UPDATES!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Writing and Crying

 Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed. ~Red Smith (although this quote has been attributed to several others)

I am an emotional wreck. Writing is not for the faint of heart. I'm hesitant to write these words, because what holds true for me may not for another.

I may have failed as a writer to convey the emotions I felt when writing Clothed In Thunder.

My words are prosaic. As I've mentioned before, I suffer from some type of illness that has addled my poor brain. (I believe it came about because of a medication I was on for about twenty years--but that's just a theory.)

Writing is difficult for me. I flounder for the right word. Sometimes I actually drown in an avalanche of words. Yes, that's mixing metaphors. My normally addled brain is more addled because I have been up all night, trying to get my words to make sense.

And add to that the typing on an antique laptop. I lost maybe 1000 words or so--perhaps more when Word crashed. I had to rewrite a very emotional scene. So, I lived through that scene three times. And I opened a vein and bled.

And cried from the pain.

Of course, I cry easily. What makes me cry may not affect you. For example, this commercial always brings tears:



Thundersnow was gutwrenching for me. Clothed In Thunder is more of an exquisite pain.

I hope I have done the story justice. It is a love story. A painful love story, but a love story, nonetheless. A love story that even now causes tears to roll down my cheeks.

I hope you enjoy it.

(It may be available in three weeks or so. WATCH THIS SPACE! for updates.)

Monday, November 5, 2012

“Ruined” and Enduring

We have a mission. God has given each of us a ministry. We must allow God to accomplish his will through us if we are to please him.

Last week I used these verses in my post: As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.~2 Corinthians 6:4-10

As God’s servant, I must commend myself in every way—beginning with endurance. Writing is my mission. To fulfill my mission, I have to endure. I have to work and continue to work and work some more, resisting the calls of the world. I don’t know how other writers feel or how they go about their writing. With me, I must focus. I have to block out all but my writing. I have to write with blinders on.

And, sometimes, I’m made to feel guilty for that. There are many good things I could be doing and yet I forgo them to write. My house could be cleaner, my meals could be tastier, my mind could be happier, but I have to decide—which is more important? Will my legacy be a clean house? a great cook? the best Tetris player? Or, will my legacy be words that touch hearts—not only touch, but heal as my byline above says.

Perhaps I could have more pets, horses, cows, a boat for the lake. Yet, with those things come an investment of time—not to mention money. Even with caretakers, decisions have to be made that pull me away from my mission. I prefer to keep my life simple, to focus on God’s will for my life, to use me and all that I have to serve God and then endure to the end. At the end of my life, find myself, and all that I possess, used up to serve God.

I choose to streamline my possessions, my activities, my entire life so that I may narrow my focus to please the only one who matters, my Savior and Lord.

I choose to live with blinders on.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ruined Also

I have been following Scribing the Journey, Duane Scott’s blog. He recently made a trip to Haiti. And, yes, his words are heart breaking.

Often we wonder, “What can we do?” And I’m not sure. But the other day I had an awakening—a moment that stopped me in my tracks.

We were watching a Christian movie that dealt with some serious issues, and I was bemoaning the fact that the plotline was full of holes. My son said, “Why don’t you write a better one?”

I answered my son that it would destroy me. Destroy the coldness

As I was writing in my journal the other day about my work in progress, I started to say “as I watched the scene” instead of “as I wrote the scene.” You see, when I write, I am living the scene. I am feeling the pain. I am an emotional wreck.

Can I write stories that delve into the darkest recesses of people’s minds, feeling the horror, the pain, the distress? I don’t know. I don’t know if I have the emotional strength or the talent or the clarity of mind to do so.

Duane Scott went to Haiti. He came back ruined.  Am I a true servant of God, willing to go through all to serve other? Listen to Paul: As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.~2 Corinthians 6:4-10

Perhaps I can say with Paul, Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.~2 Corinthians 4:1, even though I am simply a jar of clay, fragile, breakable. Perhaps it is my ministry to write the hard things. Perhaps I will be ruined also, but that may well be a good thing.

For it is only when we’re ruined in this life that we’re fit for the next.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Trailer for Clothed In Thunder

I had to reupload the trailer since the first version would not play to the end. Sorry!

Hopefully, this one will play correctly. Cool thing is that most of the pictures are of my family--my mother, aunts, brother, and my son. Of course, Sarah Jane is still a picture of my granddaughter!

Here it is:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dull Jack?



I'm learning a little about my writing style. I think I'm a little like Jack, becoming a little manic as I write.

Hopefully I'm accomplishing more than typing  "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" thousands of times.

Bipolar may describe me. Right now I'm in the manic stage, trying so desperately to get this book written. I yelled at my grandsons. (Note to self: Do not try to work when grandkids are visiting.) I've always wondered how people with children were able to write. Do they remain serene when others disturb them? Not me, I turn into Jack.

Okay--so, probably the best thing to do would be hole up in a hotel room for a few weeks until I get my book done.

Wait--isn't that what Jack did? On second thought, if anyone decides to give me a nice, quiet place to stay, please keep family and friends away. And small animals.

Otherwise, things may get ugly!

*Of course I'm trying to be funny. Just wanted to make that clear. It has nothing to do with the fact that Carl hid all the sharp things in the house...

**That too was an attempt at humor. I'll let you know if I start seeing twin girls.... 


Monday, October 8, 2012

Courage Angers Others

MP900438847Yes, it is sad, but true. When we are courageous, it makes others feel uncomfortable. Perhaps they see their own inadequacies. An example of this can be found in the story of David and Goliath.

Even young children are familiar with the story. As soon as David saw Goliath, he was ready to fight. He could not understand the reluctance of others and cajoled them.

His brother turns on him in anger. Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.”        ~1 Samuel 17:28

People do not like to be told, whether directly or indirectly, that they are not trusting God.

Many times we let the naysayers win. We let our own fears manifest—and often it is simply the fear of ridicule. We turn our backs on our Goliaths, thinking  we are foolish to believe we can prevail.

Yet, who would ever have thought David would prevail? His brothers? The other soldiers? The Philistines? Goliath? Saul?

Picture Saul. He is desperate. He puts armor on David to prepare him for battle. David shrugs it off. Saul had to be thinking, “We’re sunk.”

However, David did not need the armor of Saul, just as we do not need the trappings of this world to succeed. We do not need beauty, or wealth, or education. God uses the weak, the common--in this case, a young teen who used a common stone in his common slingshot. Through our weaknesses, God shines all the brighter.

And what happens next? When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron. ~1 Samuel 17:51-52

David’s courage routed the enemy and rallied the troops. Just as our courage can do. We must rely on God and know that it is God who gives us the victory. If we stand firm against the naysayers, if we trust God’s power, if we are unafraid to use the common, we can prevail. The courage to stand up for right gives others courage.

No matter who we anger, let’s be courageous. After all, if God is for us, who can be against us!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Live Without Fear

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God...for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.~2 Timothy 1:6-7

I read an interesting quote from Neil Gaiman. He said: The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.)

Have you wondered how it is that some people get away or even applauded for outrageous fashion trends while others are ridiculed? Could Gaiman have pinpointed the reason? “Do it with enough assurance and confidence.” We, and especially teens, worry so much over what others think. They want to be accepted--sometimes to the point of squelching their own unique personalities.

I also recently read, and I don’t remember where, that school children were lined up and forced to conform as if they were prisoners. I can understand why since I taught for nineteen years. Some children would be so disruptive that you could not manage such a large group unless you forced them into conformity (or had the disruptive students removed).

As many know, I quit teaching because of health problems. What some may not know is that I taught for eighteen of those years in constant pain and also with fatigue as a companion. I could have continued teaching if I had “imprisoned” my students--not allowing so much as a peep from them. But that’s not what I wanted nor was it what they deserved. Each student deserved to be heard and acknowledged. I know I did not do that as well as I should have (and may I apologize to any of my former students).

Each child deserves to be the person God created them to be, without the stifling effects of peer pressure, parental pressure, or any authoritative pressure.

A quote I’m sure you’ve heard before:

“Dance as though no one is watching you,

Love as though you have never been hurt before,

Sing as though no one can hear you,

Live as though heaven is on earth.” 
~Alfred D. Souza

In other words, live without fear! May all children be allowed to do so!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Gifts

..that  I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10-11

On occasion, people have told me God has given me the "gift" of writing. While I agree God has given me great and wondrous gifts, I don't think God gave me the gift of writing. Instead, these are the gifts I believe I've been given.

1. God gave me the gift of the love for reading. Most of us love "stories," and I am no exception to that.

2. God gave me the opportunity to develop my reading ability. When we moved into a house in Toul, France, isolated from other Americans and with a basement full of books, I spent over a year immersed in (almost) nonstop reading.

3. God gave me the gift of parents who instilled a work ethic in me. Both were raised on farms and knew the value of hard work.

4. God gave me the gift of people who have encouraged and helped me on my journey.

5. God gave me the gift of curiosity, a desire to learn. Sometimes my progress could have been measured in inches and, yet, I have progressed.

If you do not step forward, you will always be in the same place. ~Nora Roberts

Going forward is the only way to succeed. By using God's gifts, surrendering to his will, he transforms us into what he wants us to be. I pray he continues to form me as I rely on his power and strength.
I want to know Christ
I want to know Christ and the power of His rising
Share in His suffering, conform to His death
When I pour out my life to be filled with His spirit,
Joy follows suffering and life follows death.

 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A Change of Focus

As many know, I am working on the second book of In the Shadow of the Cedar series. There will be a third. When I finished this series, I planned to move to adult fiction with a thriller/suspense novel. I’ve been rethinking that. I’ve decided to stay Young Adult with the Moonbow series. The need for uplifting, yet realistic, young adult fiction (which I hope I can provide) led to this decision. I’ve recently read two dismal novels for older teens. By dismal, I mean that there is an air of hopelessness permeating the books.

I am especially excited about turning the Moonbow series into young adult. The first book will be geared to the older end of young adult. I’m slightly apprehensive about the second book of the series because I change protagonists. I’m not sure how readers will respond to that. We’ll see.

sturdyshoesBut back to In the Shadow of the Cedar. The second book is entitled Clothed in Thunder. Sarah Jane deals with what the majority of children deal with at some point in their lives—bullying. She is a country girl going into a city school. After wearing shoes with worn-out soles, she’s happy to have sturdy, laced-up boots. The problem is that the city girls sneer at her new shoes.

How does Sarah Jane cope? Much better than I did! This scene is based on one of my real-life experiences. After we lived in France for three years, we returned to Ft. Hood, Texas. After attending schools on base for seven years, I entered the city school system of Killeen, Texas.

For three years, I had been relatively isolated. I did not know all the latest trends and fashions. Guess who got laughed at and teased? One of the other girls “accidentally” tripped me in P.E. I became so distraught, I literally became sick to my stomach. Having to face the laughter was too much. I stayed home (not faking illness because I was actually sick!).

Eventually, the principal insisted I come back to school. I did and I survived. I learned that bullies are after one thing—attention. Well, maybe two things. They are also trying to build their low self esteem.

So, what would I tell my younger self if I had the chance? What people think of you is not any of your business. Live for God. Focus on others. Forget self. Still things I have to remind myself from time to time.

J.K. Rowling said something interesting: Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than I was and began diverting all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.

Essentially when we are teased and bullied, we feel like failures. When we focus on things that matter—God, our families, our education—and quit worrying whether we are succeeding at getting others to like us (and I know of no one who is universally liked), we can travel the true road to success!

*And I know that often bullying escalates into physical abuse. This should never be tolerated. Adults need to stay informed!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Reunions

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. ~1 Thessalonians  4:17-18

We had a busy weekend with the Hudson Reunion on Saturday. It brought to mind this song we sometimes sing:

Blest Be the Tie by  John Fawcett

Blest be the tie that binds Our hearts in Christian love; The fellowship of kindred minds 
Is like to that above.
Before our Father's throne We pour our ardent prayers; Our fears, our hopes, our aims, are one, Our comforts and our cares.
We share each other's woes, Our mutual burdens bear; And often for each other flows 
The sympathizing tear.
When we asunder part, It gives us inward pain; But we shall still be joined in heart, 
And hope to meet again.
This glorious hope revives Our courage by the way; While each in expectation lives, 
And longs to see the day.
From sorrow, toil and pain, And sin, we shall be free, And perfect love and friendship reign Through all eternity.

And Sunday was the day our new minister, Trey Poole, began his full-time work at our congregation. He used the scripture above and I thought of our reunion. I received so many encouraging words about my writing that I left with a smile on my face. Yet, such earthly reunions pale in comparison to the reunion that awaits in Heaven with our Christian brothers and sisters. 

On that day From sorrow, toil and pain, And sin, we shall be free, And perfect love and friendship reign Through all eternity. Amen!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Living Our Stories

Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. ~Matthew 23:24

When we study the Bible, what do we find?  We find stories, heroic stories of both men and women. In the Old Testament we find people,, flawed people,  like Abraham, Sarah, David, Rahab, and Ruth who show us what it looks like to live in accordance with God's will.

And then Jesus comes along. Does he give us a more detailed Ten Commandments? No, he, too, gives us stories--story after story showing us how he expects us to live.

The Bible shows us, again and again, that humans are flawed, incapable of keeping law perfectly, no matter how diligently we try. And what of those who did try, to the exclusion of all else? Jesus said Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (Matthew 23:22-24, KJV)

Notice that we do not "leave the other undone." Yet, our focus should be "judgment, mercy, and faith," using the heroic people of the Bible as our examples.

As Douglas Horton said: "Be your own hero, it’s cheaper than a movie ticket.” 
Living for Jesus, a life that is true,
Striving to please Him in all that I do;
Yielding allegiance, glad-hearted and free,
This is the pathway of blessing for me.
~Living for Jesus by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1917

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I Am Not iRobot--ing

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~Isaiah 41:10 NIV

As often happens, at least to me, life becomes overwhelming—or it seems that way. A series of small things have happened that have left me upset and irritated. And then some big things have happened also.

roombaOne of the small things is that my Roomba has died. Roombas, for those who may not know, are the robotic vacuum cleaners. Simply turn it on and it keeps your floors clean. Of course, you have to empty it and keep the filter clean. We thought it might be the battery and ordered a new one. Nope, it still doesn’t work. Do you know it’s been years since I’ve actually vacuumed with an upright vacuum cleaner—one I have to push myself?

Do you know the story (I’m sure it has probably occurred more than once!) when a young lady finishes her shopping and goes to the grocery parking lot? She can’t get her car door unlocked, and a kind gentleman asks if he can help. He inserts the key into the locked door and turns it. Of course, she had been trying to unlock it remotely and the battery in her key was dead.

We’ve become so used to gadgets that do our work for us that we often forget how to do things ourselves. Just like I’ve forgotten how to vacuum. (Not really, but I don’t want to vacuum.) I want my Roomba to do the hard work for me.

And so it is with many things in life. We want to be spoon fed. We don’t want the struggles and trials of life. We don’t want to pull out our Bibles and study for ourselves. We don’t want to think. Thinking is too much like work.

When we put God first, it involves work. It involves thinking and studying. When we do that, the little things will fall into place, into their proper perspective.

(But I still miss my Roomba!)

Monday, April 30, 2012

Editor/Encourager/Promoter/Organizer—Where Are You?

multitaskI’ve been thinking about the whole left/right brain thing. The left side is our logical side while the right is our creative side.

Needless to say, writers as a whole seem to be more right brain oriented. On the other hand, editors seem to be left brained.

This is a problem for many who self publish. Some are so right brained that they do not have the ooomph to organize all their tasks properly.

I’m probably different than many writers because I am equally right and left brained. I often think that makes me good at many tasks, yet master of none. Even though I have that left brain side working to a certain extent, I still long for someone more left-brained than me to help me out.

I know many free-lance editors who might fit the bill. However, I think self publishers need more than that. They need someone to partner with them in many areas. Time usage, writing process, editing, promoting are all areas we need help with. 

I wonder if there is anyone out there, besides some traditional publishers and editors, who will help in all of these areas?

I suppose that’s why we all need a support group made up of people who will hold our noses to the grindstones, who will encourage us to hire editors, who will point us in the right direction to promote our books.

For right now, this task seems  overwhelming at times. I just need to remember that saying: How do you eat an elephant?

Answer: One bite at a time.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Instant Success? The Myth of the Rowlings, Konraths, and Hockings

This is my article that was posted at Readers’ Realm last week.

Many people today are afraid of hard work. I have an aversion to some types myself—like scrubbing toilets. However, I get to scrub the toilet because I have a toilet. In many areas of the world, people are not so lucky. When my mother was growing up, she used an outhouse.

With a slight attitude change, I may not enjoy scrubbing the toilet, but at least I understand it’s all part and parcel of having a clean bathroom!

Many writers today have the same aversion to hard work as I do to scrubbing toilets. Some writers, believe it or not, do not even like to read. I think these people just want to throw a bunch of words onto their computers and pray for instant success. Kind of like the instant soup I have in my pantry. Throw it in a bowl, add water, and you have soup. abcsoup

Yes, you have soup. But do you know what instant soup tastes like? The soup would be much tastier if I weren’t so doggone lazy. I could cut up tomatoes, potatoes and carrots.

Or, better yet, I could grow fresh vegetables and harvest them to make the soup. And, I could search for the very best soup recipes.

Making a truly gourmet soup takes time and effort and sweat.  soup

When you are not a reader, when you have not read the very best books, when you have not learned your craft, you really have no idea what gourmet soup a good book tastes like. Perhaps you are satisfied with instant book because that is all you have ever tasted, but will your readers be?

On my personal website, my most popular post to date has been What's J.K. Rowling's Secret to Success? I believe its popularity is due to writers searching for the easy way to success. That’s not what they find when they read the article. To quote myself: J.K. Rowling worked hard to learn story, theme, and character development and implemented what she learned. We forget that she studied French and Classics at the “Ivy League” University of Exeter and was a Hemione-like student, according to her own words.

Yet, Rowling is not the only one some people believe achieved instant success. Many point to successful self-published authors and believe it can be achieved sans work.

One blogger had this to say about that notion:

We live in a world of instant gratification, where you can upload a video to Youtube on a Monday and be on the Today show discussing it by Friday. We don’t want to work for things anymore. We are not interested in staying the course, building character or perfecting our craft. We are just interested in money and a fan base. Even people, who do work hard and struggle for years end up being called an overnight success. Take two very successful self-published authors, J. A Konrath and Amanda Hocking as examples. Both have been ridiculed for writing a crappy book, slapping it up on Amazon and just “Getting Lucky”. What people don’t know is that J. A Konrath has been submitting his work to publishers since the early eighties. That’s longer than a lot of his naysayers have been alive, but we never hear about that. People put down Amanda Hocking for being a young girl in her early twenties who “Got Lucky” writing a book while working a fulltime job as a caretaker. No one ever mentions that she has written books her whole life and completed 17 novels before she ever started self-publishing. How many people can say that? Plus, everyone likes to breeze over the fact that while most of us sit on the couch channel surfing after work, she was up all hours of the night writing books and going after her dreams. Never mind that the so-called “Crap” they write has been loved around the world by millions of adoring fans. Let’s just put them and their work down to stroke our own egos, while we stair longingly at J.K. Rowlings picture on our wall. ~ Why Are We So Afraid of Hard Work?

There is no easy way to make a great soup write a great book. There is no secret to success—except that of hard work.

Are we willing to settle for instant book that readers may spit out when they get a taste? Or, are we willing to work hard to garner success?

The choice is ours. We still may not like scrubbing toilets the hard work of learning our craft, reading, reading, reading, and buckling down to write, but we can learn to be thankful for the opportunities we have.

Writing is hard work, but I still prefer it to scrubbing toilets.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

My Writing Epiphany

I’ll have a post over at Readers' Realm tomorrow. It’s about how writing involves hard work. And, writing that article brought me to a realization—an epiphany.

I am fifty-eight years old. No, that’s not the epiphany.

However, before I continue, let me give some background. Those of you who are regular readers probably already know this about me—I love to learn.

I said many times, if someone would pay me, I would attend college forever. No one would take me up on that deal.

So, although not a full-time college student for the past 40 years, I have still studied. A lot.

I’ve decided—and here comes the epiphany—that it’s time to graduate. UntitledNo, that doesn’t mean I will quit learning. I hope that as long as I’m breathing that I continue to learn.

But now it’s time to turn my focus from sitting at the feet of mentors to actually getting my work out there. I have learned the craft of writing. Now I need to put into practice the things I have learned.

Even though I have published two books, I feared I had not quite gone from apprentice to craftsman.

Am I perfect? No. But I do believe I’m proficient. Proficient enough to be confident in my work. Proficient enough to think people actually can learn and/or be entertained by the things I write.

Up until now, I have been needy. I needed encouragement, pats on the back, critiques, and prodding from family and friends. But, now, and this is part of the epiphany, I am ready to see writing as my job—a job I may not be perfect at, but a job I can do.