Friday, December 29, 2006

Do You Resolution?



One thing that always seems to come with New Year's Day is resolutions—or at least the talk of them. Do you make them? As a rule I don’t make an iron-clad list of resolutions such as exercise more, eat less—stuff like that. But there are goals I should be making with my writing.

A couple months ago, an author friend challenged me to set a goal for Murder for Breakfast to have my revision completed by year end. Then my goal for January would be to write up a proposal and get it out to the editor who had asked for it at the ACFW conference last fall. If the publisher rejects the proposal, then I’d move along to another editor who had asked for the full and send the completed manuscript to her. Two different publishing houses with two different requests.

I spent Christmas with another author friend, and we went over my story’s first chapter. She pointed out some flaws in the first paragraph that sent me into defense mode. You’d have thought I’d been placed on the front lines of World War III, facing the worst of all enemies. Well, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but I did put on quite a hissy fit. No writer likes to let go of her “darlings.” I’d been told by others that my opener was great, intriguing, wonderful. How could she dare to tell me my darling of an opening paragraph needed fixing? Once I settled down and really listened, I realized she made sense. It wasn’t that big of a blooper. Really, all it needed was a tweak here and there.

I also ran a word count check on the full manuscript and found I was only 15,000 to 18,000 words over limit. Gulp!! The range depends on which publisher I’m talking about. The first one I intend to send the proposal to has a higher word count limit than the second publisher. So I’m back at the computer now, interspersing edits with some household chores I can no longer ignore. Already I’ve taken out 2,000 words.

Tightening a manuscript always makes it look better. My goal is to reduce this manuscript to 65,000 words by year’s end. That may sound ambitious, but if I don’t set my bar high enough, I’ll slack off. Just like going on a diet to tighten my belt always calls for stringent measures, tightening the belt on my story does the same.

That reminds me. I need to sign up for the neighborhood gym. Guess I do have a New Year’s resolution after all!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

What is a Family?

The email read: “There will be no more posting on this list until January 2nd, so our members can spend time with their families.”

When I read the posting made to an email list I regularly receive, I immediately wanted to write the moderator back and say:


“But, some of us don’t have families. You are making a presumption that everyone who receives this has a family.”


I didn’t send the message, of course. I knew that the woman had made the statement without giving thought to the minority of us who are a family of one. (Unless bossy cats are counted as family!)

Before everyone starts feeling sorry for me, please don’t. I’m quite adjusted to the fact that I am an unmarried woman with no children who grew up an only child. Since my father passed away in December 1997, my immediate earthly family as been me. And, I do have an large extended family of cousins whom I love dearly. People I’d probably be spending at least part of the holiday with if we weren’t so scattered around the country.

Even before Dad passed away, I’d already forged my own way through the Christmas holidays, by creating my own traditions. For years I had other singles into my home on Christmas Eve. Even so, this time of year can sometimes rub even the most well-adjusted single the wrong way. Everything is so family oriented.

When I read the email I mentioned earlier, I momentarily lost sight of the one thing I’d realized years ago. I do have a family. A family that is bound tighter than any earthly family can ever be. The family of Christ! Earthly families aren’t perfect. Some are split because of disagreements, or different views on life. Many are dysfunctional.

As I sit here this morning looking at a little manger scene ornament a friend gave me the other night, I realize something anew. Joseph, Mary and Jesus made up a family of three when he was born two thousand years ago. Same as how my dad, mom and I made up a family of three when I came into the world. Even today, I’m still a part of my parents. Their DNA fills my cells and will until I die. But, Jesus gives me something even better—His blood shed on my behalf in payment for my sins. That blood won’t die when my body does. In fact, at that very moment, I’ll begin the life He died to give me. Eternal life with Him in the family of God!

That's me on the right at about five years old. Just wanted to share the picture.


I wish all of you who read this a very Merry Christmas and the best of New Years.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Life in a Snow Globe



The latest Christmas yard decoration these days is a blow-up snow globe. One has been sitting in front of some new townhouses on the next block since mid-November.

I got to thinking last night as I drove past the colorful display how life might be in a snow globe. The figures inside are always smiling, enjoying the snow instead of complaining because it is messing up the roads, always posed just right.

If I lived in a snow globe and always smiling it would probably mean I’d just sold my 20th bestseller to the most prestigious CBA publisher in the world, I’d be in perfect health, always about 40 years old without a gray hair on my head, and never have a worry in the world. I’d sit down at my computer and never have writer’s block. My life would lack conflict, worries, financial concerns, etc.

But, of course, life isn’t lived in a snow globe. Life in this imperfect world is, well, imperfect. I’m always wondering if I’ll ever sell my first fiction manuscript, let alone a bestseller. I cover my gray hair with Clairol. I have concerns about my health, as well as the health of my loved ones. And when it snows, although I think it’s pretty, I hate driving in it.

Nope, the world isn’t perfect by a long shot. That’s why we need the Perfect One whose coming to this imperfect world we celebrate this month. One day Jesus will return and bring with him a perfect world. Then, and only then, will life be perfect. We won’t need to live in a snow globe either. We’ll be living in His world. His perfect world.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Lessons from Three Wise Men






Have you ever woke up out of a sound sleep and thought it was a different day than what it really was? It happened to me this morning, and it has to be the weirdest feeling.

My cat meowed in her usual bossy way about a dozen times, and I came out of a dream I can’t even remember. I looked at the clock and flew out of bed. I needed to be up for church and I hadn’t even prepared for interpreting. How had I forgotten I was to sign a song I hadn’t practiced yet? I hadn’t even reviewed the scripture reading. I raced into the bathroom, and then it hit me. Today is Saturday. Whew!

The reason I was so certain it was Sunday is because my church held the first of it’s three Christmas concerts last night. (click on the picture above to link to my church's website). Another woman and I interpreted the music in sign, and we usually do the interpreted concert on Saturday night. This year we didn’t. Funny how programmed we can become.

One of the songs I interpreted is a Point of Grace song called, “One King.” It’s a beautiful song about the three kings bringing the baby Jesus their gifts. Valuable gifts the world at that time saw as nearly priceless. The lyrics tell it all…one king held the frankincense, one king held the myrrh, one king held the purest gold, one King held the hope of the world.

Isn't that so true of our world today. We tend to put the hugest price on what the world sees as most valuable. We don’t see much frankincense and myrrh around these days, but we still hold gold at a high value. What else have we placed a high price on? Prestige, fame, work achievements, romantic relationships, success, acquisition of things, the size of our homes, and….I hate to say this, writing achievements. Another year is about to go by without that elusive fiction contract. Sometimes I feel like I’m spinning my wheels, still stuck in the same rut I’ve been in for the past six or so years.

Yet, I remind myself, God is in control--always has been. I need to keep my focus on Him, on Jesus Christ. He holds the hope of the world in his hands. I’m not to stop working to hone my craft, pitch my stories, develop new ones that pop into my head, but I am to have the right priorities.

He who holds the hope of the world in His grasp has to be number one, above all else in my life. I keep to that frame of mind and I will always be a winner no matter what!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

What Kind of Accent Do You Have?

Just for fun today! Mine is shown below but if you go to: Accent Test, you can take the test.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Midland
The Northeast
Philadelphia
The South
The West
Boston
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Monday, December 04, 2006

Snow Days or Snow Daze -- It Didn't Keep Me on Goal

You’ve probably heard about the wicked winter storm that marched across the United States last Thursday and Friday. Early Friday morning it hit the Chicago area. Happy to not have to be out driving to work on such a horrible morning, I looked forward to a cozy day in front of my computer writing! Some people have fire places and some have computers. Either way, this did not happen.

Oh, I got a bit of writing done but most of the day was taken up with other more demanding issues. Issues I knew were there, but never dreamed they would grow to such proportions. In the middle of that I had to dig my car out. My evening dinner plans were canceled but the wake for a friend's mom was not.

It wasn't just the snow day that got in my way, but all of last week. Too many balls to juggle and one had to go. The bright red one with the word "WIP" written all over it!

Today I start a new week with new determination to stay the course. I must finish this revsion of MFB this week. That’s my goal. Even as I say that, I’m still not happy with my characterizations. Do I show April’s deepest feelings for Marc enough? Her confusion and conflicting thoughts? It’s easier to show her side because the story is her POV. With the hero, Marc, all of his characterization has to be shown through his actions and words. No inner thoughts going on with this guy. THAT is hard. And in the midst of all this romantic angst there’s a mystery to solve.

Yikes, even as I am writing this, I received an email giving me another ACFW duty that requires immediate attention. Guess I’d better get cracking on my manuscript before the information I need for the other project comes in.

I’m posting more pictures below from our first winter snow. For those of you in warmer climes, eat your hearts out!






A nice neighbor came along shortly after this picture was taken and finished cleaning off my car for me. Note the shovel. That's part of my winter tools that stays in the back of the car along with a scraper and brush. If I didn't have the shovel the other day I'd have never gotten a trail made for my wheels. I'd already dug one for the left wheel when I stopped to snap the picture.






The snow is really beautiful when you don't have to drive in it! Cars along I-80 from just west of Chicago to the Iowa border were in gridlock for over 10 hours! All I had to do was drive a few blocks later in the day after the plows had been out. I won't complain!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Book Signing IS Fun!


Did you really think I'd think otherwise?

Okay, the other day I said it felt weird to sign a book. At the time it did seem weird. But, like I also said, I’d get over it. And I did! I wish I’d remembered to take my camera with me to capture the moment.

I first signed a book I gave to my tutoring student. Yoshie is from Japan and is in the States for three years while her husband’s job is here. I’m helping her learn how to read English. I didn’t know how she would feel about my giving her something with my story in it, but she was very excited about it.

Next, were the two books the program supervisor wanted me to sign. She even had Post-It notes on them with the names of the people who would receive the books. I felt like a full-fledged author.

I wasn’t at a special table surrounded by copies of my book with a long line of expectant readers clutching a copy of their book for me to sign, but that didn’t matter. It was a moment of blessing in my day and that’s all that counts!

Now on to Part 2 of this Post!

Do you have kids on your Christmas list who love to read? Want to give them something that they will love to devour in the same genre as Harry Potter, but with a Christian message?


R.K. Mortenson has a great series out that fills the bill in every way with his Landon Snow books. His latest is the Christian Blog Alliance’s Blog Tour for the week.

R.K.Mortenson is an ordained minister with the Church of the Lutheran Brethren. He has been writing devotional and inspirational articles since 1995. He currently serves as a navy chaplain in Florida and lives with his wife, daughter and son in Jacksonville.

This page at Barbour's site provides a few good links, two as recent as last week: http://www.barbourbooks.com/author/detail/r-k-mortenson/. The top link there goes to a story about Randy's adoption experiences, the second link goes to the Landon Snow short at Clubhouse magazine.

Randy got the idea for this series one late night, when flute music woke him from a sound sleep. As he stood at his window, trying to locate the source of the sound, he spied a library across the lawn. Suddenly, he envisioned an eleven-year-old sneaking out of his bed and stealing to the library in the dead of night...And thus Landon Snow was born.


The BOOK:


In the latest adventure of
Landon Snow And the Island of Arcanum, Landon, once again visits his grandparents in Button Up, Minnesota. If your familiar with the first two books, Landon Snow and the Auctor's Riddle, and Landon Snow and The Shadows of Malus Quidam, you'll know that Landon's adventures always start at the Library in Button Up.

This time, Landon's most dangerous journey yet, begins in a rowboat-shaped tombstone that floats. And it's lucky for him that it floats because a few drips from the library ceiling turns into a powerful waterfall.

The stone turns into wood. The stone book propped up in the prow of the boat turns to paper. The left page says "ANCHOR". The right page says "AWEIGH".

"Anchor aweigh?" said Landon.

Holly whispered, "Did you hear that?"

No one has time to respond, however. The next instant saw the water before them dropping away as the water behind them grew into a giant swell, pitching them headlong into the abyss.
Landon will have to protect his two younger sisters, Holly and Bridget, who wind up in the boat with him headed towards The Island of Arcanum. On the Island, the animals of Wonderwood are imprisoned and the evil shadows of Landon's nemesis, Malus Quidam lurk!

With the help of some old friends, a horse named Melech, an odd fellow named Hardy, a girl named Ditty, and the poet/prophet Vates--Landon seeks to unlock the island's dark secrets and escape with the animals intact.

But first, he must navigate his way through unchartered waters and battle the villainous Archans...Can Landon and his friends rescue the animals from deep within the island's stronghold?

To order the book: Click on this link to Amazon

Check out the Author's Website: http://www.landonsnow.com/




Sunday, November 26, 2006

Signing a Book Feels Weird, But I'll Get Over It!

I’ve been to book signings where I’ve met Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye of the Left Behind Series and Sue Grafton, writer of the popular alphabet mystery series on another occasion. Over the years, many ACFW authors have become friends, and I get excited at every conference to have them sign their books for me. The picture here is of Kristin Billerbeck signing her book at the 2005 ACFW conference in Nashville.

Since His Forever came out last month, I’ve purchased a number of copies to give to friends. I gave one to a friend a few weeks ago and thought about signing it for him, but I didn’t. It felt weird to me.


Last week at my volunteer tutoring, the director of the program said she was going to order a couple copies of His Forever to give as presents and said to me, “Have your pen ready for a book signing.” I just laughed. But, I suppose Tuesday morning when we have tutoring again, she’ll have the books there for me to sign. It feels weird to me.

I intend to give copies of the book as Christmas gifts, and I’m thinking maybe I should sign them. But, what do I sign besides my name? Some authors include a Bible verse. Others use a catchy little saying. I’d better hurry and think of something. It’ll be Tuesday before I know it.

Signing a book will be fun, but it still seems weird to me. I’ll let you know how weird it really feels.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Whatever Happened to Thanksgiving?



It must be almost Thanksgiving because I’m seeing Christmas lights everywhere! In my own life it seems like I’ve rushed Christmas in faster than usual. I’ve already been practicing sign language interpreting for my church’s Christmas concert for the past two weeks. Then last Thursday night I exchanged Christmas gifts with my special friend Ed because he left yesterday for Texas and won’t be back until after New Year’s.

Aside from my own life, it seems that the commercial side of Christmas is threatening to squeeze out Thanksgiving. The stores no sooner have the Halloween decorations down before the Christmas ones come out. A local radio station here in the Chicago area has already been playing Christmas music nonstop for two weeks! If it weren’t for the spate of food ads in today’s paper, it would be hard to tell Thanksgiving will be here in four more days. We need to bring Thanksgiving back to the forefront and give the day the attention it deserves.

For me, the past year has been fraught with a lot of losses. I lost my job when asked to take early retirement a year ago this past November 1st. After that, a succession of events occured: I had to put one of my cats down, parted ways with my agent, practically destroyed my computer by dribbling Diet Coke all over it, then fell and aggravated an old fracture in my foot, just to name a few of the struggles I’ve faced the past twelve months. Yet, now as I look back, I can say that God was faithful through it all and remains so today.

He has blessed me with more time to write, and I’ve sold a couple things. I have had time to serve my church and my community as a volunteer. I’ve learned to budget, not because I want to so much as because I have to. And, most of all, I’ve learned how much I need to depend on God each and every day of my life.

As I look forward to the next year, I can honestly say I’m excited to see what God has in store for me. As for writing, I have my goals in place: Finish my rewrite of Murder for Breakfast by January 1 and have a proposal good to go for Shiloh Legacy by February 1.

Job 19:23 says, “Oh that my words were written. Oh that they were inscribed in a book!” (NASV) I have claimed that verse for a couple years now. It occurred to me the other day that God did grant me that desire when His Forever came out. My words are inscribed in a book already! Maybe this coming year will be the year I see them inscribed on all the pages of a book. If God wills it, it will happen. For that I’m eternally thankful! He can be trusted!

Happy Thanksgiving!




Check Out Kristin Billerbeck's Latest -- Good Holiday Reading!

Kristin has a knack for writing chick-lit. In fact, she was one of the pioneers in getting Christian lit books into the marketplace! I've not had a chance to read this one, but knowing Kristin and having read some of her other books, I don't think you'll be disappointed! This book is from her Spa Girls series.

Here's a blurb about the book:

The third novel in the Spa Girls Series focuses on Silicon Valley chiropractor Poppy Clayton, who is as calm, cool and adjusted as they come. Or is she? Known for her bad fashion sense, a love for all things natural and the inability to get a second date, Poppy is beginning to wonder if she might be misaligned herself. Her route to self discovery will be an unnatural one - a plastic surgeon, a dilapidated house in Santa Cruz, a flirtatious client, and a blind date from the dark side.
It's all enough to send a girl - and her gal pals - running for the comfort zone of their spa.


So, if you want something to read that's fun with Truth woven in, head out and get yourself a copy of Calm, Cool & Adjusted.

Here's a link for ordering it: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1591453305

You can read more about Kristin at her website:
http://www.kristinbillerbeck.com/

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Don't Miss Reading Rene Gutteridge's Scoop!

I recently joined the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and am very excited to be a part of this network of Christian authors. You may have noticed the links related to this group in my blog’s sidebar the past few days. Weekly, members of the alliance feature a new book and its author on their blogs. Eventually I’ll be receiving books to read and personally review, but until then I’ll be posting blurbs about the week’s feature book.

I haven’t yet read Scoop, but I am looking forward to reading it soon. I’ve read other books by Rene Gutteridge and they have kept me glued to my seat, not wanting to put the book down. Rene was a workshop presenter at the ACFW Conference in Dallas. I missed attending her workshop because of an editor appointment, but listened to her class on CD after returning home. She is both an excellent writer and teacher. I feel very good about recommending this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rene Gutteridge is the author of several novels, including Ghost Writer (Bethany House Publishers) The Boo Series (WaterBrook Press) and the Storm Series, (Tyndale House Publishers. She will release three novels in 2006: Storm Surge (Tyndale) My Life as a Doormat (WestBow Press, Women of Faith)Occupational Hazards Book #1:
Scoop (WaterbrookPress).
She has also been published over thirty times as a playwright, best known for her Christian comedy sketches. She studied screenwriting under a Mass Communications degree, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Oklahoma City University, and earned the "Excellence in Mass Communication" award. She served as the full-time Director of Drama for First United Methodist Church for five years before leaving to stay home and write. She enjoys instructing at writer's conferences and in college classrooms. She lives with her husband, Sean, a musician, and their children in Oklahoma City.


ABOUT THE BOOK:
The Occupational Hazards Books are a series of books about seven homeschooled siblings whose last name is Hazard. The parents died in a freak accident leaving the kids ages 16-26 with a lucrative clown business but the kids realize that God has other plans which doesn't include being a family of clowns for the rest of their lives.
Scoop is the first of the series and centers around Hayden, who was age 20 when her parents died. If you haven't yet guessed by the series title, this book is packed with many laugh out loud moments and great one liners.


Hayden is a strong Christian who, having been homeschooled, lacks some of the politically correct social norms...like not praying in front of everyone during a crisis. She finds herself in an internship at a television news station with a boss that takes stress pills, an aging news anchor that everyone wishes Botox on, a weatherman who wants to predict love for himself and Hayden, and a reporter struggling with his own politically correctness of being a good reporter and being a Christian.
Old School meets New School meets Homeschool. A smart and funny read.


The book link for Scoop:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1400071577

The author's website:
http://www.renegutteridge.com/splash.html

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Funeral Homes to Borders--What a Week!

This not-so-typical week held a little drama, a little fun and, of course, a lot of writing.

The most untypical thing I did was spend election day in a funeral home. I was there for a most untypical reason--to work as an election judge. That's the title used here in Illinois for those people who give you your ballot when you go to vote. The polling place I was assigned to was a funeral home! When I first heard about it, visions of sitting next to a coffin while handing out ballots popped into my mind. Those fanciful thoughts were quickly dashed when I spoke with someone who'd worked that polling place in the past. She told me we'd be in a room ordinarily used for wakes, but we wouldn't have contact with any other events happening in the building. In fact, there weren't any wakes or coffins in sight the whole 16 hours I was there!

It soon became apparent that the special pens we gave people to mark their ballots were disappearing as people walked out the door with them. Inadvertently I'm sure. I began telling every person I gave a pen to what would happen to them if they walked out the door with with our pen. Some would turn into a pumpkin, others would have the pen blow up in their face, while another would have his tires punctured by giant nails that would pop up out of the parking lot blacktop. One of the other judges laughed saying he liked how I had a new story for each person. I told him that was the fiction writer in me. It was a long day but I'm glad I did it and will probably do it again.

Yesterday I stopped in my local Borders and headed to the back where the "religious" books are housed. My mission was to see if they had His Forever on the shelf. It wasn’t. As I stood there, a man came up to see if he could help me. I told him I was looking for a new compilation book I’d contributed to. He got all excited and asked me about it. I made sure to point out that my as-told-to story was about a man who lives one suburb over. Book stores love local authors. He agreed they needed to have the book. While I was there he ordered three copies for the shelf. This was my first time pitching my own writing. It’s something all authors need to do for their publications. Next time I’ll take chocolate. Maybe he’ll order six books!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Widows and Orphans--Another Great Read to Talk About


When I agreed to read Susan Meissner's book, Widows and Orphans, I wasn't sure what to expect from a story carrying such an unusual title. It was billed as a mystery and since that's one of my favorite genres, and one I'm aspiring to be published in, I seized the opportunity to be an influencer. An influencer is one who agrees to read a copy of the author's book (complimentary copy is provided) as it's being released and then write reviews on websites like Amazon and Christianbook.Com. There's been an occasion when I've done this and wished I hadn't because the book didn't meet my expectations. Can you imagine how hard it is to say something good about something bad (in my opinion) and still be honest?


I didn't have to worry in this case. The story is wonderful.


Rather than repeat myself, here is what I just posted at the www.amazon.com and www.christianbook.com websites:


Widows and Orphans is the first book written by Susan Meissner I’ve read, but it won’t be the last.

From the first chapter to the last I was drawn into the story. I was only sorry that my life got in the way too many times, causing me to take way too long to read through to the end. Meissner has a way of connecting the reader with her characters so much so they become real. Even Fig was likable. First described in Rachael’s (the heroine) inner thoughts as a friend of her husband Trace’s from his art school days who irritated her to no end, I was prepared to not like this unique guy. But, as Meissner developed his character through the story, I came to like him as even Rachael seemed to do as well. In fact, none of the characters remain static in who they are, especially Rachel and her brother.

The mystery surrounds Rachel’s brother and his commitment to fulfilling his calling from God—providing for and protecting widows and orphans. He’s gotten himself into a real jam. One Rachael, a defense attorney, can’t seem to help him with, nor does he seek her help. The tension of the mystery builds as Rachael seeks the ever-elusive truth. Throughout the story, the darkness surrounding her brother’s predicament is delightfully balanced by periodic scenes with Rachel’s three-month old daughter McKenna. Interaction between mother and baby provide sweet release. Something all babies do, real or fictionalized. A wonderful countering technique.

This is a great read. The second in this new series is due out in early ’07 and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Writing Lessons from Beth Moore

God teaches us many lessons in many ways. This week has been no exception for me. I'm participating in a Beth Moore study at my church called "The Patriarchs." God has gifted Beth so much, and I thank Him for using her in my life the way that He has. God has used His Word through Beth to help me mature as a Christian.

In the Patriarchs study we've been studying Abraham's life. Last night during the
video, Beth taught about the testing of Abraham when Abraham was called by God to sacrifice his son Isaac instead of the usual lamb. For those of you who know the story, an angel stopped Abraham just before he was about to plunge a dagger into his son's heart as the boy lay on the sacrificial altar. It was then that Abraham noticed a ram in the thicket. God provided the lamb, just as He would centuries later when He provided Jesus, the Lamb of God for our sacrifice!

I not only learned a lesson about God's testing in our lives, but also about writing and how I need to let my inhibitions go. What Beth does so well is to take one or two sentences that describe a biblical situation and prompt her readers to place themselves in the situation. She got us thinking about Abraham and what he must have been going through. How they had walked for three days to the mountain. Three very long days for a father about to sacrifice the son he'd waited so long to have; the son he loved more than life itself. It's so easy to read biblical accounts of situations without stopping to think about how these are real people just like you and me. They had real emotions and thoughts and feelings just like you and me.

Beth also did this so well with Hagar, when she was sent away with Ishmael, her son by Abraham. After wandering in the desert for a while, both she and her son became dehydrated, and Ishmael was dying. She placed him under a bush and she and Ismael began to cry . Beth reminds the reader how much pain Hagar was going through. How Hagar's tears were likely not silent tears, but wails. She prompts the reader to think about how it would feel as a Mom to be willing to do anything possible to help her child and be so helpless.

What Beth does is like the "what if" practice many of us writers use. But, she takes it a step further. What if you were in Hagar's sandals or Abraham's, how would you feel? Humanize these people and you can appreciate even more how you can apply their situation to your own life.

I've always been an analytical person. My practical, tell-it-like-it-is way of thinking often works well when writing non-fiction, but not so well in fiction. My creative side bubbles with story ideas that I get down on the first draft, but so often I fail to take the reader deep inside the character's heart and soul. Beth has shown me what I need to do to make my characters more three dimensional. What she did with Hagar and Abraham, I need to do with April and Marc, my heroine/sleuth and hero in Murder for Breakfast. I need to turn off the analytical and let my heart feel what they feel, expressing it in words. Words that will transport the reader into my characters' hearts and care about them.

God uses just about anything and everything to teach us. My Bible study lesson this week was no exception!



Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Blessed Week in My Writing World

It's been a blessed week in my writing world. Of course it all began a week ago today when I found out that the compilation book, His Forever, which includes my story "Like Son, Like Father," was out. I blogged about that in my last post. I immediately ordered copies. Then began the wait to finally hold the book in my hand. That finally happened on Thursday.


The cover is even more beautiful in person than it is in the picture! What a thrill to see something I wrote in a book. And having this particular story published this way is even more thrilling. Who else can get the glory other than God! Here's a picture of me holding the book. I took it with my web cam so it's not as clear as it could be.


On about the same day that I received copies of the book, the editor of His Forever emailed me asking if I would contribute a devotional piece to a new Cup of Comfort book on prayer he's editing. He assigned me a specific prayer that has already been written. It's my job to write about a personal experience that fits into the theme of the prayer. Of course I said yes. Since I have to submit this devotional by next Friday, I began working on it right away. I've written about the biggest lesson I've learned over my past year of setbacks is that everything happens in God's due time--the setbacks and trials, as well as the blessings. I've titled it "In God's Due Time." I don't know if I'm definitely to be included in the book provided my submission is good, or if I'm competing with others like in the last one. We'll see. Either way I'm so blessed to have been asked.


A couple days ago an author friend read the first chapter of Murder for Breakfast and said she liked it. I feel like that old Life cereal commercial saying, "She likes it, she likes it!" Her input was very encouraging to me because she has written several published books, and she can recognize good writing or bad. She also mentored me on setting up writing goals. I have two projects going. The MFB tweaking so I can get the full sent off to HP-Mystery, and the proposal on Shiloh Legacy. Since SLrequires major rewrites, I need time to get that in order before I can do the proposal for an editor at Tyndale who has asked for.


So it's finish MFB by Christmas, spend January researching for my SL rewrite, and start the SL rewrite in February. Then once I have it plotted and the first three chapters complete, send the proposal and keep working on the rewrite. Whew! I'm gonna be busy, but it's a good kind of busy.


Last night ACFW members in the Chicago Northwest Suburbs met at a local Panera Bread. It was great to see those I'd enjoyed being with in Dallas last month and to catch up with others who weren't able to make the conference. We're in the process of officially becoming an ACFW chapter. Something we're very excited about. I'm excited because the number of ACFW members in my area is growing. In spite of being in a major metropolitan area like Chicago, surprisingly there haven't been a large number of ACFW people to connect with here. Here are the eight of us who attended last night: Front row is Maureen Lang and me. Second row is Greg Williamson, Corky Richardson, Julie Dearyon, Allie Pleiter, Kris Brown, and Sally Bradley.

It's been a blessed week.

Monday, October 23, 2006

One Story's Journey & A Writer's Take Away







It's out! His Forever: Stories of Real People Finding Jesus is on the shelves and it contains my piece "Like Son, Like Father." Well, at least it's on the virtual shelves of Amazon, Overstock.com, and the like. I haven't yet found it in a bricks and mortar store. But then it's only been out a few days.


I am so humbled, so amazed at how God has used me to get my friend Frank's story out there for everyone to read and know about. Years ago, I heard Frank tell how he prayed for God to open his dad's mind when Alzheimer's had caused the elderly man to be able to do nothing more than breathe and sit chin to chest for hours on end. The family hadn't had a lucid conversation with him in months. For a few moments Frank's prayer was answered, and Frank was able to lead his father to Christ!


From the day I heard about this God Miracle, I knew it had to be written. I wrote the story, thinking in my ignorance it would be snapped up without question. I envisioned it on the pages of Guideposts, or maybe The Beacon, my church denomination's magazine. All the editors would have to do was read it and they'd be begging me to print it. Boy was I wrong! I received so many rejections I'm sure their weight alone threatened to give my mailman a hernia.


One of the magazines I queried was Decision, the Billy Graham Association's magazine. Like all the others, they sent one of those form rejections. You know the drill:
"Thank you for submitting to our magazine. We're sorry we cannot use your story at this time. We either have already purchased a similar story or, perhaps in your case, the writing is lousy and the topic stinks. Please don't ever write to us again!"

Ha! Not exactly, but isn't that what so many of us writers tend to see when we get a form letter instead of a personal note explaining exactly why the piece is being rejected.


A few months after the Decision rejection letter was papered to my wall along with all the others, I attended the Write to Publish conference. I was excited to see that Decision's editor , the very man whose name was on that rejection letter I received a few months earlier, was on the faculty. What was even more amazing was that he had appointment slots open since I arrived at the conference two days after it had begun. A God thing?? Seemed that way to me. Since I was commuting, I was able to print out the story that evening and bring it to the conference the next day for my appointment.


That editor appointment was an eye-opener for me. I handed him a copy of my story, gulped, and asked him why it had been rejected. He read the first paragraph and said, "I remember this. A wonderful miracle of God." Of course, the second question out of my mouth was, "If that's so, why did you turn it down?" His answer? "There's no take away."


Take away? Huh? For years I'd been leading Bible studies, always making sure everyone learned to make application in their lives for what we'd just discussed. I never realized that in article writing we had to do the same thing. Telling the story wasn't enough. The closing should draw the reader to making application in his own life. It doesn't have to be in-your-face, but it has to be there. Well, duh! Since then I've heard that little "jargon" phrase many times. Everything we write needs a take away. In articles, it can be the summary paragraph restating the lessons already expressed in the story. In fiction it's the story goal. What do I want my story to achieve?; what will my characters learn in the story?; how will my character's growth help the reader at the same time he or she is being entertained by a page-turning story they can't put down? (A girl can dream!)

Long story short, I'd queried so many magazines for Frank's story already, I let it languish in my computer files for, um, five years maybe? During those years I focused on fiction--learning the craft, practicing the craft, and seeking publication. To this day I've not yet sold a fiction story, but I have learned a lot about writing.


Last November I heard about the His Forever Project and Frank's story came to mind. I pulled it out of the file and dusted it off. One read through showed me more reasons why it probably didn't sell other than the needed take away. I went to work, applying the fiction writing techniques I'd been learning over the years. Not changing the story, but enhancing it. And...of course, I made sure to add a "take away."


The rest is history as the saying goes. In a few days I'll be holding the book in my hand. I don't know if the byline will say "by Frank Coppaletta as told to Pam Meyers," or just "By Frank Coppaletta," or maybe there's no byline at all. It doesn't matter. It's God's story, not Frank's and not mine.


What has been my take away in this experience? Last month when I presented the ACFW Mentor of the Year Award to Lena Nelson Dooley, one of the quotes attributed to her says, "God is never early or never late. He's always on time." This was God's time for Frank's story to be told and for me to have the honor of seeing something I wrote in a book. God wasn't going to let it be printed until I'd learned my craft enough to write it well. That is my take away from this experience. That is what keeps me going to writers conferences, attending writing workshops, reading books about how to write well, and reading well-written books to learn how published authors write. God can use all of that. There's a song I learned way back when I first became a Christian that says, "He makes all things beautiful in His time." I can't ask for anything better than that!


By the way, as you can see, I've been messing with the design of my blog. It's not finished yet. Chances are by the time you check back again, it will have been tweaked a bit more. Change is always good. Today I have a new look and a new book, along with a new attitude about being useful to God through the words I write.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Did You Ever Wish On Dandelions?

I'm thinking a lot about wishing this morning. We've all heard the saying, "If wishing could make it so..." And then there's "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight." Of course, who can forget about making a wish before blowing out the candles on your birthday cake?


Kids do a lot of wishing, but then so do adults, although we may have a somewhat more reasonable view of it. We can wish, but we know it doesn't always come to pass. But, what if you wished on a fuzzy dandelion that Jesus would make Himself known to you before blowing it to smithereens ?

That's what Maranatha Winningham does in Mary DeMuth's novel, "Wishing on Dandelions." I recently spent several days on Maranatha's journey to the arms of Jesus after making her wish. It is a fantastic read and I encourage you to pick a copy up at your local bookstore or toddle on over to Amazon and order one! "Dandelions" is the second in a two-book series that chronicles the life of a young girl from childhood to young womanhood. In the first book, "Watching the Tree Limbs," we meet ten-year-old Mara (which means bitter), a child searching for belonging, living with an aunt who views her as more of an inconvenience than a blessing. Mara has her already troubled life twisted even more when she is sexually abused by an older boy. "Dandelions" picks up the story when Mara, now known by her full name of Maranatha (which means "come Lord Jesus) is seventeen years old. She is still haunted by memories of what happened to her, but is now living with her Uncle Zane. Her life has changed for the better in many ways, but yet she struggles to believe that God really cares for her.


Mary DeMuth has a way with words that makes me say I want to write like Mary when I grow up (and I'm years older than Mary!). She treats the abuse scenes with care, never graphically describing them, yet you know exactly what is happening. Her beautiful word pictures takes the reader deep into Marantha's heart and causes you to think. I found myself being ministered to in many positive ways through reading this story. Although "Dandelions" can be read as a stand alone book, I highly recommend you read "Tree Limbs" first. Both stories are full of quirky secondary characters that keep you chuckling as well as thinking when so many spiritual truths and words of wisdom come from their mouths. Who can forget Camilla with her penchant to rhyme, or Zady, Uncle Zane's housekeeper with her wise counsel? I could go on and on, but it would only spoil your enjoyment. You really need to meet these people for yourself!


I'm certain kids still wish on stars and before blowing out the candles. Quite possibly they still wish on dandelions. But, I'm certain of one thing. When we ask Jesus to make Himself known, to Him that wish becomes a prayer. A prayer He always responds to. We just need to keep our hearts open to realize His presence. Maranatha did, and she wasn't disappointed. Go get this book!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The View from My Back

Proverbs 16:9 says, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." This past week I was reminded of this truth in a huge way.

My course for the past week was planned, but none of it turned out as I expected. I should have known something was up when the Monday night Bible study prayer night was cut short by severe thunderstorms hitting the area. Then, Tuesday morning my ESL tutoring volunteer work was cancelled for the day because the building where it’s held had no power. Seizing the "extra" time, I hurried home to finally get busy on my WIP so I could send in the requested full manuscript. By that afternoon I was flat on my back. The culprit? The common cold.

Five days later my manuscript notes are still sitting where I left them when I finally succumbed Tuesday afternoon with not one new word written or one revision made. My "to-do list" for ACFW is there too. My plans were cut short, but God taught me lessons I never could have learned otherwise.

A friend will soon be going through a surgical procedure which will keep him flat on his back for a length of time. Although I've been sympathetic, I never until this week considered how difficult that is going to be for him. By the end of day two I was bored of TV and bored of not being able to do anything but lay there. My friend will have many more days than the few I spent, unable to do a lot less. I'm seeing his ordeal through new eyes.


Yesterday I received a phone call from a friend I hadn't spoken with in a while. I was shocked to hear that she's been diagnosed with breast cancer. At that moment she was driving herself to a radiation treatment. She'd had other plans for her life over the past year which have already be altared by unexpected turns. This newest wrinkle only added another layer.

I just began reading 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper. This is a true-life account of a pastor who was declared dead for an hour and a half after a horrific car accident. In the book he shares his after-life experience of actually going to heaven and seeing loved ones who had passed on before him, only to be pulled back to his mangled earthly body after another pastor started praying for him. That alone is amazing to read. But that wasn't the rest of the story. He spent years recuperating while living in deep pain, and enduring difficult physical therapy to be able to live a normal life again. Day after day and night after night all he could do was lay there and do nothing. A young, energetic pastor and dad whose life had taken a huge detour. One minute he was thinking about next Sunday's sermon, and then the next he was facing the most trying and painful experience of his life. Yet God has used him in a powerful way that wouldn't have been possible had the accident never happened.

My short-lived cold was only a small nuisance, but God has used it for more than that. The Westminister Catechism says that the chief end of man is to know God and glorify Him forever. We can plan our days, our weeks, our months, and even our years as much as we want, but it all boils down to God's determination. That includes writing for those of us called to that task.

God has to work in us first before we can do our best work for Him.

Sometimes he does His best work when we're flat on our backs.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Meeting God in Texas


The 2006 ACFW conference is over. I went there to work because I'm on the board. I also went there to see friends and meet editors and agents. But, I got so much more than that! I met with God and that just about tops any to-do list!

I learned just before leaving for Dallas that my appointment with an agent was in jeopardy because the agent had to cancel due to a health issue. It was too late to reschedule as all the other agents' slots were taken. Because I've been without an agent since last winter, connecting with agents was my top priority. So there I was with no agent appointment and most of the agents there had little time to squeeze another appointment in. Discouragement is not a nice feeling, but that's what I felt.

It wasn't until Saturday morning when, with my mind in a fog, I skipped a continuing class and went to the prayer room. There, I opened my Bible and had the first "real" quiet time I'd had in several days. I spent my time once again at the feeding trough feeding on God's faithfulness (Psalm 37). I was reminded of how in so many ways already He'd been faithful to me. Immediately, I sensed without a doubt I was to let go of the agent thing and concentrate on getting my ducks in a row first. So I gave it over to God and was at peace. After all, I'd already had a request for the full manuscript for Murder for Breakfast, a request for a proposal for that story from two other editors, and a request for a proposal from two editors for Shiloh Legacy. Is that God's faithfulness or what????

More about the conference. Our keynoter was Liz Curtis Higgs. What a delightful lady. A great sense of humor with a deep spiritual message interwoven with the laughs. She was such a blessing. Here I am with Liz at the book signing event.

Saturday night we had our award banquet. In addition to Book of the Year and the Genesis Writing Contest awards, we had the Mentor of the Year for 2006 named. I had the honor of making that presentation. I'll never forget the look on Lena Nelson Dooley's face when I said her name. It was so priceless.

In addition, Texas is a great big state with a great big heart so I've learned. The one morning I had a few minutes to escape to do a little shopping I had a little God thing happen that let me know He's full of surprises. That will be another story on another day

I sure did meet God in Texas. But then as Psalm 139 says, we're never away from His presence. Meeting Him in Texas shouldn't have come as a surprise. He was with me all along!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

God's Money Well Spent

Is it really 12 days and counting? Did I get to the writing yesterday afternoon like I planned? The answers are yes and no. Yeah, you read that right. But wait! I have a good excuse.

For the past number of months my laptop (my only computer) has been giving me fits. One fit, as you may recall, was my own fault when I spilled Diet Coke on the keyboard. Yeah, that'll really muck up the works. I paid Dell to replace the keyboard and motherboard. All seemed well for a while, but then soon after the 90-day warranty on the work was over (of course) it started doing really quirky things.

Quirk #1: The cursor would jump up to the next paragraph or two right in the middle of my typing. I'd have to stop and delete what I'd just typed then move the cursor down to the where it should be. This got so bad I stopped using the keyboard altogether and went to the axillary keyboard which plugged into the USB port.

Quirk #2: When I put the computer to "sleep" or on standby I couldn't wake it up. I don't usually turn off the computer completely at the end of the day, instead putting it on standby by closing the lid. One day, I couldn't get it to wake up and ended up having to hit the on and off button and starting it up again. I tried all sorts of things like going to shutdown and clicking on standby. That seemed to work for a while, but lately that didn't even work. I was afraid one day I wouldn't be able to wake it up at all.

So yesterday after much prayer, I decided to look into an HP laptop on sale at Office Depot. The special price included a combination printer/scanner/copier, a wireless mouse, an extra battery, and a few more bells and whistles than I'm used to, like a built-in web cam.


View from my Web Cam

All for less than I would have spent on a less souped-up laptop elsewhere! Even at the good price, I hate spending the money. After all, it's God's money--not mine. I prayed very hard about this and I know I'll recoup some of the cost through rebates and tax deductions, even so it's harder than ever to part with my money when I'm on retirement status.

So the quirks are gone, only to be replaced by new ones. I can't get the file transfer program to work right between the two computers. I finally gave up late last night and went to bed. Today is another day.

So, you know what's coming next, don't you? I gotta get busy and get to that writing so I can sell something! Make this new laptop pay for itself! Haven't heard of getting paid for blogs, so I'm off to you know where!

Friday, September 08, 2006

13 Days and Counting

Thirteen days and counting. That's how many days left until the ACFW national conference begins, and I feel so behind on things!

This time my pitches need to be on target because I'm not only shopping my stories, but also shopping me. I need to find an agent and, God willing, the ACFW conference will point me toward doing that.

Since getting back on Monday afternoon from the three-day weekend, I've been bogged down with other responsibilities, including ACFW board stuff. Every day I've determined I would start working on Shiloh. Didn't happen until yesterday.

Okay, I have to admit the fault is partially mine. I've found myself easily drawn to doing something other than pulling out a story I haven't looked at in a year and a half. What's with that? As much as I'm excited about the new ideas for punching this story up a notch or two, I dread the process. It means getting reacquainted with the characters, thinking once more about the plot, trying to decide what stays and goes. I find it much easier to write a brand new story from scratch. But this is a story that won't let me go.

My story has a new name, and I've already jotted down new plot points. All I need to do is put rubber to the road as the saying goes.

Today is the day...but wait! This morning is booked. This afternoon is the afternoon. I'll let you know what happens.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Who Says Writing is Easy?

Yesterday I reached a milestone I've been trying to reach for a couple weeks. (Remember the previous post about distractions?) I finally finished round one of my Murder for Breakfast revision. Now for Step #2. Going through it again using a program called Natural Reader and have it read back to me with a woman's voice. It's amazing what you can catch that way.

Then I'll be done and I can move on to my other project you say? NOT! Then I print it out and read through it again noting if my character arcs are clear, do I have enough of the five senses included, have I missed inserting details here and there that move the plot along, etc. etc. This I'll do while on a five-hour drive Saturday. Don't worry. I won't be driving LOL. But my friend will be subject to a new version of books on tape. If he falls asleep then we'll both be in trouble. Hopefully, he''ll keep saying "Don't stop. I need to know what happens next!" Ahhhh. Music to a writer's ears.

My point this morning is that writing is hard work. Very hard work. There are times I'd like to just close the file on my computer and let these people figure out the mystery by the themselves, and then there are other times I can't wait to get to the story and find out what happens next.

I don't have the luxury of giving the story a rest right now. The ACFW conference gathers three weeks from today and I have to have this ready to pitch to editors and agents along with my other story. Hey, I just came up with a new working title for that novel. "Shiloh Legacy" I like it. It's a story about.... Well, you'll just have to wait and see. Right now I have work to do.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Distractions--What's a Writer to Do?

Distractions are aplenty. Right now as I write, men are outside my window trimming the hedge just below my balcony. Motors revving, slashing away wayward branches. Noise pollution at its finest. What's a writer to do?

I've always been easily distracted by outside noise. Guess that comes from being alone so much. I never had to learn to tune out noisy kids. But could even the mom of half a dozen boisterous youngsters tune out a machine that sounds like a rocket? Do those men wear ear plugs? If they don't, they'll be needing a sign language interpreter soon.

But my distractions aren't always noise when it comes to being pulled away from my writing. The phone rings. It's a friend needing to talk over something burdening her heart. Or my mind wanders to something I'm curious about and the next thing I know, I'm Googling for information. Or new email comes in. Now that's a biggie. I have a feature in my Outlook that causes a mini view of the email to show up for a second in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. That's something I thought would be great. If it was something that could wait, I could keep on writing. But, alas, more emails draw me in than don't. Working at home can also be a distraction. My eyes sweep the room and I see dust on the coffee table, a book left out that needs putting away, dirty windows needing cleaning, etc. A dirty window is probably the one thing that doesn't get me out of my chair. :-)

What keeps me on task with all these distractions? The goals I set for myself. Currently, I have the ACFW conference looming. I need to have MFB ready for pitching, as well as a roughed up synopsis of my women's fiction which is still in mothballs. Not to mention there are responsibilities as an ACFW board member that need to be accomplished. In fact I just thought of one that's due today. The motors have stopped and I have no more excuses--at least not until the phone rings!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Divine Appointments in This Writing Biz


What happens when you sense a call on your life from God, you pursue it with all your heart, then for months on end see no fruit for your labors? You pray for diligence. You ask God did I hear you right? Do you want me doing this? Then God answers in amazing ways.

Last spring some of the ACFW members who live in my area got together at a local Panera Bread to talk about our writing and just jabber a bit over coffee. It was there I finally met face to face a new writing friend, Julie Dearyon. Julie is pursuing her first fiction contract, but she is also editor of a magazine called Victory in Grace, published by Quentin Road Bible Baptist Church. That day I mentioned to her I had written an article about the things I'd learned during my best friend's cancer illness and subsequent death. After I gave her a short synopsis of the article, she said to send it to her. Was that a Divine appointment or what?

Long story short, my article, "How I Overcame Grief," is included in the September edition of Victory in Grace!

Last week I received five author copies of the magazine. As soon as I opened to my article I couldn't hold back the tears. Not so much for seeing my work in print (although there's nothing like it), but because my friend, Mary Ann, meant so much to me. If she were here I know without a doubt she'd be praising God full tilt for being used by Him to give me a story to write for Him. Maybe she does know, and amongst the praises she's singing in the presence of the King are praises for how He used even her death to bring glory to Him through my writing. (Whew, was that a long sentence!)
Mary Ann (on right) and me back in the day when my hair was longer and straighter!

I don't know who my article might help when they read it, but I'm praying God gets it into the hands of whomever needs an encouraging word as they deal with similar circumstances.

If you're interested in reading the article, it should be up at the magazine's website within the next few days. I'll post here when it's up and give you the link. Now it's back to work on Murder For Breakfast. Who knows what God has in store for it!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

An "I Love Lucy" Kind of Day



I missed a week of blogging last week while I kept to the grindstone on my WIP Monday through Wednesday then spent Thursday and Friday preparing for and having a routine medical test that required a short visit to La La Land. That "twilight" stuff is okay.

This week I'm back on track and have been working hard at getting the new and improved version of Murder for Breakfast ready for the ACFW conference next month. That's where I hope to pitch it to editors and agents. I also want to resurrect my women's fiction called Place of Peace and make some changes in the format and plot. That story is truly the "book of my heart," and it won't let me push it aside.

Today started out peaceably enough. I spent time in prayer then took a mile walk where I continued in a prayerful attitude. Perfect way to transition into writing upon my return. Which I did, sitting on my balcony, laptop on my lap, birds singing, sun shining. Came inside to work when the glare was too much to see the screen. Got going on the next chapter then decided to take a short break. That's when my serene day became an I Love Lucy episode.

I love natural peanut butter. Not only is is good for you, it tastes better than the other stuff! The part I don't like about it is that when you open a new jar it needs to be stirred. I started as I always do with a wooden spoon. Then I had the bright idea of using my electric hand mixer. A word to the wise: Never, never, never mix a jar of warm natural peanut butter with an electric mixer!!! The gooey stuff was everywhere: the counter, the walls, the toaster oven, the spice holder, a bowl of fruit. So much for sticking (no pun intended) to my story for the day. Two hours later the mess is cleaned up and I smell like....What else? Wonder if I could sell the new scent.

Moral of the story. Be flexible, don't lose your cool even when the unexpected happens, and be ready for anything. You never know what the day will bring. Besides, you can always use whatever happens in your story.


Oh. And I still love my Smuckers!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Great is Thy Faithfulness Again and Again

I am sitting here laughing hysterically. This morning when I tried to post to the blog, blogger seemed to hiccup every time. I finally gave up until now. I went in and clicked on "Post" and it went successfully. Then I checked the blog. There was my post four times! I felt like Phil in Groundhog Day.

But isn't it so true. Just like the hymn says. Morning by morning, new mercies we see. Only in this case it was more like minute by minute.

Enjoy the day readers. God is sure to bless before it's over.

Great is Thy Faithfulness


Last week God showed His faithfulness to me...sort of an atta girl thing to say "You're on the right track. Don't give up now!" I received notice that a story I submitted to a compilation book called. "His Forever: Real People Coming to Jesus," was accepted for publication! It's a retelling of a wonderful story told me by a member of my church. One that when I heard it years ago, I knew it had to be published so others would read it and know we serve a God of Wonders. I wrote it up and submitted it to places like Guideposts and Decision Magazine. I was soundly rejected. Needless to say I was stunned. I had believed that the recounted event would sell the story on its own merits. It didn't because the writing was lacking. I eventually saved the file to my computer and all but forgot about it.

Last November when I read a call for submissions to "His Forever," I remembered the story and pulled it up on my computer screen. Several years and many writing workshops later, I saw what needed fixing and went to work. This time I didn't get a rejection. **SMILE**. The book will be out at Christmas time. You can guess what my Christmas gift will be to my friends.

Although I'm excited about this, I'm even more excited for Frank, whose story it really is. I'm not going to tell you anymore about this wonderful witness of God's almighty power in Frank's life. You'll have to read it for yourself.

Lamentations 3:22-23 says that God's compassions for us never fail and that they are new every morning. His faithfulness is great! Amen!

Monday, July 17, 2006

At the Feeding Trough

Delight yourself also in the LORD,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
Ps. 37:4-5
The words of this psalm mean so much to me today. For the past several weeks, and last week in particular, I have been unable to focus on much. My church has been experiencing a crisis that ultimately came to a head last night. Without going into details I can say that this circumstance drove most of us to our knees in humbleness. Ultimately, God heard our prayers and the situation was resolved. There are still many fences that need mending, and I doubt most of us will be the same. But, as Joseph said to his brothers, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done..."
What this situation has taught me far exceeds the pain of the difficulty. I've learned I don't pray enough; that I'm not humble enough; that I'm too proud; and that God requires much of me if I am to be blessed with writing success. This isn't about me. It's all about Him.
I thought this morning with the crisis behind me, I would wake up and, after time in prayer and thanksgiving, I would bound to my writing desk (which doubles as my dining room table) and the words would poor forth from my fingertips. So far that hasn't happened. It's taking a while to get my writing legs (or fingers) back. I've needed to sit here and resonate, enjoy the sweet blessing of answered prayer, and work myself toward the effort of getting back in the story again. I know what I need to do to make this story start the right way and I've worked up new plot twists that need to be added, but still I can't seem to get myself in gear toward that end.
Ps. 37 says just before the words written above, "Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness." That's where I am right now. Feeding on His faithfulness. Ps. 81:10 says, "I am the LORD your God....Open your mouth wide and I will fill it." Once filled I will be able to spew forth words once more. For now I'm sitting right here at the feeding trough of God's faithfulness.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Don't Miss the Unexpected!

What's that saying about the best laid plans? Well, my best laid plans for this week, other than the holiday on Tuesday, were to write, write, write. God seems to have been saying not, not, not. Each and every day I've been walloped with interruptions and other things that took precedent over the writing. Yet, in spite of this, God has blessed me with ideas for characterization and plot changes that will only make Murder for Breakfast better for pitching in September at the ACFW conference. Will these changes require more work? You bet. But in the end I will be able to present a better and more complete project.

That's what I find so awesome about God. At the most unexpected times He gives me an idea. For example, I spent last weekend at a family get together in Indiana. During a conversation with one of my cousins, I said it was time to fold my tent and go to bed. My cousin tossed me a curious look then nicely pointed out that I'd used the idiom in the wrong context. I cracked up once I realized if I were going to bed, the last thing I'd want to do is fold my tent. Then it hit me. Misquoting idioms, or using them in the wrong context would be a great way to add a little quirkiness to my heroine's aunt, whom I want to be a little off beat. The trick will be to not make her out to be a buffoon, but have her even laugh at herself when she does this. Much like I did. Hmmmm. Maybe Aunt Kitty is my alter-ego. I'll have to think on that one.

So it's off to drop in those idioms and make those plot changes. After all, the early worm gets the bird.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Waiting Room Revisited

God has been talking to me a lot these days about commitment. I want Him to be in control of things, but have I fully given Him everything? Am I too quick to give everything to Him and then take it back? I just finished reading a Love Inspired Suspense story called Mistaken For the Mob by Ginny Aiken. It's a fun, fast-paced story where through a series of goofy events and a single-focused FBI agent, the heroine is mistakenly thought to be a hit lady for the mob. It's an entertaining read, but the thing that impressed me the most was how the heroine never lost sight of how she was always within the grasp of her Heavenly Father. There were times when for a while she'd try to take control, but always she was brought back to realizing what she had done and asking God to forgive her. That story ministered to me in a lot of ways.

Over the past eight or nine months my life has been filled with a lot of losses. Many of the things that either represented security to me or were precious to me have been taken away or altered. And it doesn't appear that this season of my life is yet over. Yet God has been teaching me about how I need to trust Him with everything, and that includes my writing. Most particularly my writing. As far as my stories go, I'm still in God's waiting room--the same one I wrote about here over a year ago. Back then I talked about the waiting room as a place to wait while the manuscript is out being considered. But now I realize it's more than that. It's what I do in between proposals to make me a better writer. I think this is even more important than being at the place where you are waiting for the all-important word for an editor who likes your work and actually wants to pay you for it. During this in-between time I need to listen for God's voice, listen to the wisdom of other writers in learning the craft, and apply what I learn. The bottom line is I need to commit it all to Him, each and every day.

Now to get back to the waiting room so I can get to work!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A Cool Way to Read My Blog

I've discovered a very cool way to keep up with the blogs I enjoy reading. By subscribing to Feed Blitz I have the new entries to the blogs sent right to my email box. If I want, I can read the entry right there in my email...or I can click on the link and go right to the actual blog web site.

I like this service so much that I've added a subscription form to Feed Blitz to my blog. I have no idea how many people read my prose. Maybe it's just one or two of you. Or none LOL. Once in a while someone sends me email and mentions reading it and I'm always pleased to find out they've read it.

I'll be back later to really write a real entry. I promise!!!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Encouraging Nudges

This past week has had its share of difficulties, some of which I cannot go into here. What I can share is that my proposal for Murder for Breakfast was rejected. When I first read the words of the email I was devastated. I'd been pouring most of my writing time into this story--massaging it, reworking it, developing it more. The day I received the email, I'd already been sitting at the computer reworking the final chapters of the story for at least three hours. It felt like a fatal blow. I reacted by going to the shower and letting my tears mix with the water while I prayed.

Then I went back and reread the rejection note which was, by the way, very gracious. Unlike other rejection notes I've received, this one told me what pushed the story to the bottom of the pile where only two could be chosen. And, not only that, the door was left open for talking to the publisher about more projects. The editor is also open to reviewing MFB again after it's been retooled. **smile**.

So I wasn't given a fatal blow after all, or even a glancing blow. In fact, I look at it as an encouraging nudge. I now know something valuable to make this story zing from the first paragraph. And the door remains open. Someone once said to me that rejection is really redirection. How true that is.

I'll let it rest a couple days then get back on it again. Like I said in my last entry here, "When the time comes, God will allow my work to be published, but only in His time and not mine." And God is faithful.