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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Plantser and Planter

Today is Thursday. As usual, life changes. I change. I have been a little under the weather this week, but that’s not the only reason I haven’t gotten around to blogging until now.

I’ve taken on other responsibilities and also have to care for my mother. I’m thinking that I’m just not going to have time to devote to an inspirational blog. I have to think when I do a devotional-type post. Not always easy for me to do.

I’ve decided to change the direction—at least for now. I’m not going to preplan—not that I ever preplanned much anyway. Instead, I’ll become a SOMP blogger. (That stands for Seat-of-my-pants;)

I’m not a pantser. I would say I’m a plantser—half planner and half pantser.
So, we’ll see how that goes.

Did y’all watch American Idol last night? I’m upset about the obvious manipulation—at least it seems that way to me. Most reality shows are not reality shows at all. The producers choose which clips to show us and, if they wish to eliminate a contestant, they show a clip to portray the contestant in the worst possible light. Of course, how much reality can there be when a camera is focused on your every move?

Still, I enjoy the singing—even if the judges are not judges but manipulators.

On another note, we planted a “garden” the other day. I’ve been wanting to try raised gardening beds for a while. We had a doghouse my husband built a few years ago. We flipped it over (Since the dog does not sleep in the doghouse but has commandeered the chair on my front porch, no dog was hurt in the process.)

With a little manipulation, voila! We created a raised garden. It’s just the right height so that we can work the “garden” without hurting our backs. Some of the things we planted were squash, cucumbers, eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, turnips, and collards. I’m not sure if this is going to work, but so far the plants are growing and look healthy.

Here’s a picture:

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I hope it works. If it does, we’ll add more raised planters next year.

A funny thing happened this morning. Two grown rabbits hopped into our back yard and stood looking at our “garden.”

I know what they were thinking. “Well played, lazy gardeners. Well played.”

Thursday, March 22, 2012

In the Pines

When my boys were babies, my mother and I would sit on the front porch and sing this song. Who knew we were singing a future Nirvana song?

I had forgotten about it but was looking for a song for Clothed in Thunder. I searched for a couple of hours and rediscovered this. I can see Michael singing this to Sarah Jane and, being me, I cried.

Here are three versions.

 

Leadbelly Version

Bill Monroe Version

Nirvana Version

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Out of the Recliner . . .

I'm back at work in the study. Since last October, I have worked in the recliner in the living room. Actually, I worked first in bed after having sinus surgery. I migrated into the recliner. Sitting in the recliner relieves my neck and back pain.

Hemingway did a lot of his writing from bed. Hmm . . . I don't like Hemingway's style of writing, so I suppose it's a good thing I got up and into the recliner.

So, if I love the recliner so much, why am I back in the study? The laptop is back in the shop. I don't know if a virus hit it or not. Some of my programs quit working, and I shut it down and took it straight to the shop.

So . . . now, I'm here in the study. This is day two. Yesterday, my neck started hurting after only a hour or two. I think I just need to get the monitor in the correct position. Hopefully, that will help the neck pain. I dragged another chair to the desk that has a higher back.

My back didn't hurt me until this morning when I woke up. Maybe it was from dragging the chair. Who knows? Anyway, I have a good place to work here in the study. Things are quieter. The little dog has a bed under the desk where he is now asleep instead of in my lap. In the recliner, he snuggled down to sleep under the lapdesk my laptop sat on. Now, he's not in my way when I need to shift positions. He's happier about that and so am I.

I ordered a desk chair with extra padding and lumbar support. It might turn out to be better than the recliner. Nah, I doubt it. Maybe, just maybe, it will be comfortable enough to keep me in the study.

In here I can see my calendar and see how far behind I am. And, I have a large bulletin board where I can stick up notes to tell myself how far behind I am.

I think I just talked myself into going back to the recliner! Just missing one thing--the laptop!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Social Networks? Or, Nothing but Hype?

Life is a series of stripping away.

What do I mean by that? An article I recently read dealt with the things people say on their death beds.

Does it surprise us that people speak of family and friends? Does it surprise us that regrets always deal with people?

God allows events to strip away all  of the outer layers to get to the core of the essential.

If we allow him to do so. Hopefully, we allow it before we are lying on our death beds.

God is first in our lives, of course. Next are the people.

Strip away pride, hurt, humiliation, anger, self consciousness, and, especially, an unforgiving spirit. In other words, get self out of the way. Concentrate on others. Talk to others. Socialize with others.

So, your dad forgot your birthday? So, your best friend hasn’t responded to your emails? So, your child tracked mud into the kitchen?

Strip away all the inessentials and let’s tell our parents, our friends, our children, and anyone else in our lives how much they mean to us.

Our lives are so crowded with stuff that it’s hard to see the people. I just spent a frustrating fifteen minutes on Twitter this morning.

You see, I wanted to have a conversation with someone, anyone. I scrolled and scrolled, searching for something, anything, someone said that I could reply to. Nope, it was all about BUY MY BOOK or READ MY BLOG.

Let me tell you, I would be more likely to buy your book if I knew a little more about you. And, if I thought you cared a little about me.

This has occurred on Facebook also. Once upon a time, it was a way to keep updated on friends and families. Now, it’s a barrage of cat pictures or other posters and, again, the hype—BUY MY BOOK; READ MY BLOG. computerscreen

Are Facebook and Twitter social networks? Social means pertaining to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/social

Let me ask a question—Can we just talk, people? Just talk? At least three out of four status updates or tweets. Just talk to one another.

If you do that, when you do throw out the occasionally pitch for your book, it will make me more likely to buy your book .

And, one day, you will not say on your deathbed—if only I had spent more time with my friends.

Friday, March 16, 2012

LOL and Playing Games

I’ve begun playing Words with Friends on Facebook. Less time consuming than Jeopardy—unless you play with twenty friends.

Why do I play games? Is it a waste of time? I don’t think so or else I wouldn’t be doing it. After I write or edit for a few hours, I’m ready for a break. Not a long break—just five or ten minutes. So, focusing on a game for a few minutes allows me to take a mini-vacation.

Jeopardy on Facebook limits you to three games a day unless you pay for episodes. I used to play the game as soon as I turned on my computer and logged into Facebook. After playing for a while, I kept scoring around the same amount each week. Unless I brush up on geography, sports, opera, and presidents, I think I’m never going to improve. Well, I just ain’t going to do it. Those are areas I choose to remain ignorant in.

The Facebook Jeopardy sent me five hundred coins to entice me to come back. Good try, and it almost work. I think I’ll hold out and see if they send me a thousand next time. lol

People are strange. They are quick to like a humorous or unusual status update. Otherwise, things are ignored.

Speaking of humorous things, this video was hilarious: Waste of Taxpayers' Money? 

And here’s a status update I found funny: I went to buy my grandson, Lucas, a where's Waldo book and couldn't find one anywhere. Well played, Waldo. Well played.

Humor is difficult to do. Not everyone finds the same things funny. And, some are quick to find offense in even the least offensive humor.

I remember before I became a Christian but was searching for God. I was reading the Bible in my college dorm with the door open. I don’t remember the passage I read, but I laughed out loud. Someone walking in the hallway stopped and looked in.

“What are you reading?” she asked.

I held up the Bible.

She looked at me in surprise. “There’s nothing funny in there!” She marched away.

Well, I’m here to tell you, there are humorous passages in the Bible. Some folks need to lighten up!

We were created in God’s image. If we have a sense of humor, don’t you reckon he does?

An oldie but a good one!

Laughing out loud is good for the soul! (As is playing games. Right? Winking smile)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Readers’ Realm

Busy, busy week!

There’s a new website, Readers' Realm, that I’ve been helping out with. Many great articles are already posted there although it only went live February 29th.

Tommie Lyn has a new book out, Windows of the Soul, that is being featured all week. Today there’s an article on the research Tommie did when writing the book. Who knew over 10,000 earthquakes occurred in the 1800s? I didn’t. Like they say, you learn something new every day.

In my case, I learn and then relearn since I’m so forgetful.

To celebrate the release of Tommie’s book, Readers’ Realm is running an E-book Extravaganza that ends tomorrow. The Kindle version of my two books are on sale for $.99. It’s a buy three books, get the fourth one free deal.

You can read more about it here: E-reader Extravaganza.

The website looks great! Readers’ Realm twitter handle is readers_realm and their Facebook fan page is here: http://www.facebook.com/ReadersRealm

Looking forward to seeing more from them!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Money

I’ve changed my view of money over the years. As a young adult, I rebelled against the materialism I observed growing up. I was a child of the 60s, rebellious and idealistic.

I was not a Christian and was searching for God. Sometimes I was pretty hard on Christians I spoke to. I remember one young man who said his church was taking up donations to buy his preacher a new car.

“Why?” I asked.

He was taken aback and just stared at me.

“Does his old car still work?” I persisted.

“Yes, but it’s old!”

“Why buy him a new car if his old car works fine?”

The young man couldn’t answer me. I’m not as hardnosed now (I don’t think).

Actually, it’s all a matter of perspective. Many of the world live without running water or electricity. They live in shacks and have few clothes to wear. They walk or ride bicycles. Should we adopt their way of living so that we’ll have more money to help others?

Not many people today would say we need to go that far.

Each Christian has to decide how to use his/her money most effectively. But no matter how we decide to use our money, God comes first. money

We give to God our best—not our leftovers. It is wrong to fritter away things God gives us—time, ability, or money.

It is wrong to become so busy that we have no time left to work for God. Just as it is wrong to refuse to learn, to develop the ability God gives each of us. Just as it is wrong to become so immersed in debt that we have no money left to use in God’s service.

For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” ~2 Thessalonians 3:7-10

We are to work hard and “not be a burden to any”—as much as it is in our power. Remember these words:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. ~2 Corinthians 5:10

And, those things done include the way we handle money. Let’s choose wisely!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Life’s a Great Balancing Act~Dr. Seuss

Yes, this has been a Dr. Seuss week. I have one more quote to share:

So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great
tact and remember that...

...Life’s A Great
Balancing Act. ~Dr. SeussMM900172639

Life is a great balancing act and that includes our online virtual lives. We need to be careful with our online presence. Of course, this applies to everyone, but especially to writers. I’m reading James Scott Bell’s book, Writing Fiction for All You’re Worth, and he speaks of being a professional. One thing he says is: A professional doesn’t follow up frustrations with nasty notes, diatribes, or slanderous blog posts.

We all get frustrated, but the internet is not the place to air our frustrations. Is it ever okay to rant online? Perhaps. But it should be a controlled, carefully thought-out rant, perhaps with humor thrown in to soften it. And it should never be aimed at a particular person or institution.

Editors and publishers often peruse blogs, and we do not want to shoot ourselves in the foot. Professionals are confident yet not arrogant.

To be honest, I lacked confidence in my writing ability. Sure, there have been times I thought my writing was good. Yet I didn’t know if anyone else in the world would think so. A couple of months ago I decided I would just accept that I am proficient in writing and quit being so needy. Validation is great, but true validation comes from God and from within ourselves.

As a professional, I need to be disciplined enough to work hard, praise or no praise. I just need to rise every morning and crank out the words or edit the chapters or network.

And, that, too, requires balance. We need to schedule our time for writing, for promoting, and for building our platform. Not to mention our “real” lives—family, friends, and God.

Balancing is not always going to be easy. Sometimes we will teeter on the edge, perhaps even fall. True professionals simply brush themselves off and begin anew.

And not yell or cry because they fell off the teeter-totter. Just remember the words of Jesus: Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. ~Matthew 10:29

Falling just might be God’s will. Growing up, I fell off a see-saw, and it taught me a lesson. Not to ever see-saw with my brother! Yes, that, too. But it also taught me to be careful how I balance, and that lesson I can apply to my life today.

Life is a great balancing act!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Learning, Learning, Learning . . .

learningSince publishing Thundersnow and Eternal Springs, to say I’ve been overwhelmed doesn’t do it justice. I have been on a roller coaster ride of euphoria.

One thing I have heard over the past few weeks is that I have a gift or a talent for writing. Well, I’m sure it’s a matter of opinion whether the books I have published are good or not.

However, for those who do think I have written a good book, I don’t know that I agree with them as to what the gift actually is. See, I believe many think God gifted me with the ability to write. And, he did. Just not in the way some believe.

Instead, God chose to gift me with a love for reading. At the age of four, I looked with longing at my brother’s school books and couldn’t wait until I could carry around those beloved books.

For years I read at least four or five books a week, some fiction and some nonfiction.

I was gifted with a desire to learn. I had a thirst for knowledge and a curiosity that often got me into trouble.

God gifted me with parents who instilled a work ethic within me.

God gifted me with opportunities to learn. Since the age of twelve, I have been learning the “how-tos” of writing. I asked my English teacher at the time to teach me creative writing. I gave her a few of my stories and she gave me pointers.

Also, I paid attention in my English classes and strove to learn symbolism and how authors wove such beautiful images with their words.

For many, many years, perhaps twenty, perhaps longer, I subscribed to Writer’s Digest and read it from cover to cover.

For many, many years I read books on the craft of writing.

While my parents never read to me when I was growing up, they did tell stories of their own childhood. Certainly a gift. I listened and learned.

So, I think some people believe the talent or gift of writing arrived full blown. No, it started as a seed. Yes, God gave me that seed, and he provided the circumstances for it to grow.

As Dr. Seuss said, You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room. (“On Becoming a Writer," The New York Times, May 21, 1986)

Yes, I praise God from whom all blessings flow. And I praise him for giving me the desire to sit alone in a room and pound out words.

And, I praise him for all the wonderful people who have been so generous with words of encouragement! Now that, indeed, is a gift!

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Quote from Dr. Seuss

When I was around ten, I discovered Dr. Seuss. Yes, the other kids laughed when the teacher took us to the library and I pulled the “little kids” books off the shelf. No matter, I read anyway.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

51q8qHZ0fGL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So. . . get on your way. ~Dr. Seuss from Oh, the Places You’ll Go

I noticed as I looked back through old blog posts that this is a recurring theme. Time has been wasted in my life, swirling down the drain like old bathwater.

However, what’s past is past. Today, this day, this moment, no matter my age, no matter how tired I feel, no matter minor aches and pains, I can redeem the time. I can climb the mountain one step at a time.

A friend told me about visiting The Walls of Jericho in Tennessee. This is a description:

The “Walls” is an impressive geological feature that forms a large bowl shaped amphitheater. Embedded in the limestone are bowling ball size holes from which water drips and spouts, creating a unique water feature. This amphitheater gives rise to steep 200-foot sheer rock walls that creates the natural feature defining the amphitheater. Turkey Creek drains through the “Walls” and has been an active geological force in creating the amphitheater. The natural area forest is comprised of maples, oaks, hickories, tulip tree, American beech, eastern red cedar, and many other plants commonly associated with limestone. The forestland beyond the “Walls” feature is noteworthy with its many bluffs, large rock outcroppings, caves, and sinkholes.

My friend said it was an arduous seven-mile hike, and that she almost didn’t make it back. Yet, she had no choice. She had to keep plodding forward until she made it through the “Walls of Jericho.”

We can often do more than we believe we are capable of simply by placing one foot in front of another and leaning on others for support.

And Paul gives us an example of this when he says:

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 3:12-14

Today is my day! My mountain is waiting. I don’t know where it leads, but I’ll get on my way!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I have a dream.

My dream is to help new writers get noticed. 

 To fulfill this dream, I am involved in a new website: Readers' Realm  One of the things we are offering is a place for writers to showcase their writing skills.

On Fridays we will be featuring flash fiction. The deadline for this month is March 15th.

This is the prompt: Think about someone who needs a good pinch. Now write a story in his/her point of view (i.e., from the pov of the person who needs the pinch!). Every story must contain these five words: green, lion, lamb, march, and three.


 
(Make your own slide show at Animoto.)

If you're up to the challenge, send your story to: readersrealm@yahoo.com. If your story is featured, we will include a short bio of you plus links to one book and your blog if applicable.

This website is all about helping new writers get exposure. I'm proud to be part of it!