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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

Monday, December 17, 2012

Love

People hurt. People need people. People need a support system. friendship
Teen suicides are climbing. According to NY Daily News, 1 in 6 teens have seriously contemplated suicide. 1 in 6. In an average size class of 30 students, that would be 5 students who have thoughts of suicide running through their heads. Probably many others, while not thinking of suicide, are clinically depressed. Would it be too strong to say that perhaps half of the class, 15 out of the 30, are unhappy? I think not.
In our country we kick away the pegs and wonder why the tents collapse.
What are the pegs? To begin with, close-knit families, close Christian families, and close friendships.
I have noticed a disturbing trend. Many memes I see on Facebook have sentiments that basically say—act crazy, act needy, and I will walk away. Of course, they are not always so blunt. Read carefully, though, and you will see that’s the message. For example, these words I have seen—Some people are not capable of love. Let them go.
Is that true? Did God make some people incapable of love? Did God tell us to give up on the unlovable? No, I think just the opposite.
We no longer know what commitment means. Let someone disturb us, and we shut them out. Go figure out your problems on your own. I have my own problems to deal with. I don’t need your craziness. This is the message we send to others.
What is the message we need to send? Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.~I Corinthians 13:7
Autism is on the rise. Autistics have problems with socialization. In America we prize people who are social butterflies. The socially awkward are ostracized. Autism runs in my family. Autistics often have difficulty controlling anger. So, do we throw up our hands? Do we give up?
It does not mean they cannot become Christians. It means we have to work harder at showing them God’s love and sharing with them God’s message. It means having a heart of forgiveness. It means surrounding others, covering others, raining down our love on others.
Even love that extends to those who might be thinking the unthinkable.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;  and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. ~Eph 6:10-18
Our weapons against evil are these—truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, Spirit, the word of God, and prayer. Let us speak boldly to all and do not allow our fear to keep us from showing love to all—including those we may be fearful of. God sent his Son to die for all. Even those we fear!
The world will know we are Christians by our love.

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!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

In All....

I am thankful for:

dirty clothes. It means God has clothed me.

 a dirty house. It means God has sheltered me.

dirty dishes. It means God has fed me.

friends who make mistakes. It means God is teaching me to forgive.

uncooperative family members. It means God is teaching me patience

pain. It means God has given me life.

suffering. It means God is teaching me to rely on him.

illness. It means God has forced me to be still and hear his voice.

loss. It means God is teaching me to appreciate all that I have.

In all things give thanks.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Never Doubt

I have never experienced a day like I did yesterday. Never, ever, ever, ever ...oops, too much Taylor Swift.

I've been listening a lot to Taylor, trying to stay in the mind of a teenage girl. Glad that's over with since book 2 is almost ready to release!

Back to my day, yesterday. My ideas popped like firecrackers. I jumped around the house like...like...well, like a teenage girl.

Since I'm nearing the end of Clothed In Thunder, In the shadow of the Cedar, Book 2, I started thinking about a storyline for the third book. My mind was blank. Since Jay wants to be a veterinarian and World War II is beginning, I did have a vague idea about war dogs, yet no story line. It seemed a hopeless, daunting task to come up with a story.

But, then, I talked to my husband, and he had some suggestions. And things just began popping. Suddenly, my story was born. Within a few minutes.

It was a moment of "wow." And, some things, that I can't share at this time because it will give away the plot, dovetail so completely with the other two books that it humbles me.

Make fun but it was a God thing. Humbling, awesome. Beyond anything I could ever have planned on my own.

Ain't God good?

One thing I haven't completely decided on is the POV character. The first two books are from Sarah Jane's viewpoint. I'm thinking now of using Zeke as the protagonist.

The popping ideas were not just about book 3. I also had ideas for my Moonbow series and more ideas for Clothed In Thunder--that I know I need to kick out of the nest

I'm reminding myself to never doubt God from whom all flows. Today I'm seeking quiet contemplation and rest.

Popping can be quite exhausting!

**Update: I've decided that book 3 will be from Sarah Jane's POV and will begin immediately after book 2. Then, there will be a spin-off series, In the Shadow of the Pines. I'll use the ideas I had on this day for that series. So, this has turned into a bigger project than I ever imagined! 

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.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Michael's Song

In Clothed In Thunder, we learn a little more about Michael whom we met in Thundersnow. And, by we, I mean me. I learn more about Michael as I wrote about him. Michelangelo said "Every block of stone has a statue inside of it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it."

In my writing world, the stories are there, waiting to be unearthed. The characters inhabit the very air around me and are waiting to be plucked out of the ether.

How does this work? I have no clue. All I know is that I plucked Michael, and he sits beside me as I write and reveals to me his thoughts and desires. And I would like my  readers to see him as I see him, to know him as I know him.

Maybe some will get him as I do. The ability to "discover" the "statue" hidden inside the "stone" depends on the skill of the one doing the "discovery." I'm unsure of my skillfulness. I see myself as all thumbs, tapping with my hammer at the wrong point, messing up, trying again.

So, I've tried to reveal him based on my limited skill. Hopefully, I've done enough for my readers to "get him" as I have.

The song I have chosen to represent Michael is my favorite song at this point in my life. This is not his favorite song, but it does describe some of the feelings he is trying to sort through.


And here's one he would probably like to sing to Jay:

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sarah Jane's Favorite Song

I created a sound track to listen to while I'm working on Clothed In Thunder.

Jay, the main character, has issues with abandonment (as we saw in Thundersnow). The song I chose for her, and it's not one of my favorite songs, but it fits her situation, is "Glory of Love."  The guy of the song is the kind of guy she is looking for. The first stanza ends "I will never leave you alone." She longs for someone who will be with her through thick and thin. Unfortunately, it's not that easy for Jay. Or, fortunately, since we now have a story!

She wants a "hero," someone who will "fight" for her. Like most teen girls, she longs for "a knight in shining armor" who will "save the day." However, she wants more than that from her life. She has her own dreams to fulfill.

So, while longing for someone to rescue her, she also wants someone to support her in her dreams. Yeah, like most teen girls, she's not sure what she wants!

The other songs I play for her character are from Taylor Swift, the quintessential teenage girl. I won't inflict those on you. Although some are easier to take than others, I have to limit the number of times I listen to them. (Sorry, Taylor.)

So, here's what I imagine would be Jay's favorite song if she lived in the 80s.




Tomorrow I'll share the song I picked for Michael.

Monday, November 12, 2012

I decided the music for my book trailer was too sad. I found something more upbeat. See what you think--



Saturday, November 10, 2012

How to Kill 30 Million People

As Christians we are to emulate Christ. He offers total forgiveness to those who sin IF we repent of our sins.

We as his followers should also offer total forgiveness and treat others as if they never have sinned. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God.

I did things in the past that I am sorry for today. Here's just one example--a teacher I didn't like was disciplining a student in my high school sophomore English class. The young man slapped her. (To those who have rosy views of schools from 40 or 50 years ago, I hate to disillusion you. Schools had problems then also.)

I laughed along with the rest of the class. You see, I went along with the crowd. Of course, that's minor. I did many much worse things.

I never had an abortion, but I could have. When the court ruled in 1973 on Roe v. Wade, I was twenty. Before that time I remember friends who tried to abort babies themselves. Roe v Wade was heralded as a way to protect women--to stop them from getting botched abortions. And I understand that. I don't agree with abortion, but I understand why some would choose that route. When you are alone and scared and society disapproves of pregnancy outside of marriage (which seems to no longer be the case), I can understand why some would want the relatively easy way out.

Understanding, however, is not condoning.

To the millions of women who received abortions, how do we as Christians respond? We forgive. If you are one of the women who opted for an abortion, how do you respond? You forgive yourself.

And, then, we, as Christians, do more. We offer help and assistance to those who find themselves pregnant with no place to turn. We open our homes to the unwanted babies.

And, we let our voices be heard. As I've said before, very few people are actually pro-abortion.  
The vast majority of people are pro life.
Don't believe me? If you don't, answer this question--Do you wish your mother had aborted you? What? No? Then you are pro life.

Think what the over 30 million babies who have been aborted would say IF we could ask them this: Are you glad your mother chose to abort you? 
What do you think the answer would be?

So-called Christians have been wrong in the past by attacking women seeking abortions (and continue to be wrong today if they are still doing this). Instead, we should offer support, money, care, time, whatever we have to help them make it through a pregnancy they do not want. We are called to be ministers, servants, slaves to God.

What do you think he wants you to do for the mothers and their unwanted babies? What do you think he wants you to do to stop our pro-abortion president?




Over thirty million voices silenced forever. Do you choose silence?

Let's be the voice for those whose voices have been silenced forever.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

New Cover

I've been working on the book cover for Clothed In Thunder. I'm happy with this one. I think! I hope!


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.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

And Still Working


Still Working on Book Cover

I said I didn't have time to work on the cover but I'm thinking over some of my revisions and decided to work it. I'm not sure if I'm 100% satisfied but this is better, I think. I'll probably shrink the horse and make Sarah Jane's picture bigger. 

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:

Friday, October 26, 2012

I've been working on the book cover on the left. The book will be published on November 15th, Lord willing!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Being Wowed

It is so exciting to be writing something, and something pops into your head, seemingly out of nowhere. And it's not new with me--that's where this idea of a muse came from. Not sure what a muse is, but when you write something so...so different than your normal writing, that makes you step back and say, "Wow, where did that come from?",that is what makes writing exciting and interesting. Now, this is not to say that my writing is exciting or great. I'm only saying that sometimes it "wows" me because I know it is more than me. It may not wow you, and that's okay. As I've said before, I'm not sure how this Christian writing thing works. Just as we do not know how the Holy Spirit works. I do know I have to do my best and, somehow, these things happen that make me somehow write better than me. And that earns a wow even if "better than me" is not all that great.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Our Educational System Is a Festering Wound

apple1Our educational system is badly in need of an overhaul. The “fixes” now being implemented are like putting a bandage on a festering wound.

Many wonder why intelligent people are not attracted to the educational field. We’ve all heard the saying, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” That, of course, is not entirely true. Some are called to teach by a desire to help others. And it is not by increasing teacher salaries that is the answer. I have a quote somewhere that says professions are not worth pursuing if money is the object. Higher salaries will not attract the best into teaching. Listen to this report (emphasis mine):

A professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota today buttressed previous findings that the most important determinant of job satisfaction is ''work autonomy,'' or the degree to which employees feel they can make their own decisions and influence what happens on the job.

But the researcher, Dr. Jeylan T. Mortimer, speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said she had also found, in sharp contrast to most previous research, that income had no significant independent effect on job satisfaction. People earning high incomes typically enjoy the most autonomy on the job, she said, which tends to make them happy. But if one looks at individuals who have equally autonomous jobs, she said, then they appear equally happy with those jobs, regardless of any income disparities among them. ~Satisfaction on the Job

A higher purpose must pull people into teaching.

Unfortunately, the higher purpose or purposes have been, or, are being destroyed. The ability for teachers to make their own decisions, to be autonomous, has been taken away from them. This is going to lead to “burned out” teachers who will leave the profession in droves.

Teachers are now being forced to teach exactly the same. Yes, that saddens me and I see a future with creativity stomped into the ground.

Sadly, our schools have placed knowledge first, teaching so that students do well on standardized tests. And it is to our detriment. The wound continues to fester and the infection grows until one day it can no longer be ignored. By that time, will it be too late? Or, is it already too late?

Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Let’s fight to give teachers back the ability to use their imaginations. For it is only through imagination that teachers will be able to soar to new heights, and, in the process, allow students to soar also.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Here's a video I did for Readers' Realm November's Contest--Best Book Blurb. If you have 30 seconds, please check it out!




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!