Sunday, December 30, 2007

Do We Really Want to Know the Future Before It Becomes the Present?

As we come to the last day of 2007, I find myself spending this Sunday afternoon thinking about 2007 and looking forward to 2008.

It's hard to believe it's already been eight years since we went into this new millennium. It seems like yesterday we were thinking about Y2K and some people were stockpiling hard cash and water. I was not one of them, but I knew people who were. I remember opening a friend's pantry and seeing gallon upon gallon of water filling the bottom shelf. She insisted I would be sorry when she had water and I didn't. Funny, I never heard a word of what happened to all that water. She probably spent all of 2000 drinking it. :-)

Back then I was just starting to learn the rudiments of fiction writing, ACFW was not yet formed, and my writing was mostly relegated to articles and stories required by the writing classes I was taking.

Eight years later I've sold a few articles, but am still looking for that elusive fiction contract. Will 2008 be my year? A year from now will I be looking back on the past 12 months and rejoicing that God has finally blessed me in such a way. Only He knows, and I'd rather keep it that way. If I knew for sure I was going to sell my story this coming year, I might slack off on learning to write better and making the story better. And, if I knew already that I wouldn't gain a fiction contract or an agent in 2008, I may be tempted to slack off, stop querying agents, and maybe even shelve the story.

Isn't that true about most things in our life? Do we really want to know the future before it becomes the present? I don't.

As I end 2007, my hopefully-final revision is just about done. On New Year's Day I hope to send a copy of the full manuscript out to several volunteer readers for them to read. Now, that's really laying it on the line! They've never read my work or critiqued anything I've done. My crit partner loves the story, but will they? Difficult as it is, I'd rather have them read it first than an editor or agent who holds the key to my story's future by the decisions they make. If my readers come back loving it, I will rejoice and send it out. If they suggest weaknesses and confusion, then I have time to fix it before I send. Either way I'm a winner.

What better way to begin the new year? I can't think of a one.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

God's Gift

This Christmas season I've participated in a Christmas Concert that focused on Jesus as Light to a dark world, attended a wonderful program at Willow Creek, our local mega-church, that showed through drama and music how God our Creator promised a Savior to a broken world and that Savior is Jesus, and sung countless carols that tell this great news that is for all men.

Yet, all you have to do is open the local newspaper and read the countless ads to see that for many people the holiday isn't about God's gift to us but about our gifts to others, or what others will give to us. Every time a news program features children, an adult asks the kids what they want for Christmas. It starts early.

Don't get me wrong. I love giving gifts, and I love getting them too! But over the Christmas holidays, even for believers, it's not difficult to get caught up in the mindset of the commercialism that goes along with the holiday. How could we not? The stores have been decorated for months, Christmas music has been filling the airwaves since Halloween, and Santa is sitting on his throne in every mall in America asking little boys and girls what they want him to bring.

Today at church, 11 members of one family lit the last of the Advent candles. They are part of a larger extended family who will board a bus tomorrow for Greensburg, Kansas, the small town that was totally devastated by a tornado earlier this year. They will spend the week helping to rebuild the town, doing whatever needs doing, and funding it all with money they would have spent on gifts for each other. The family received a round of applause when they explained what they are about to do.

That family has taken the complaint that many often express about the over-commercialization of Christmas and put rubber to the road. The road that leads to Kansas. I know that God will use this time to not only help the people of Greensburg, but He will also use it to change each family member's heart forever.

I just wonder if next year my church will have more people doing their part to show the real meaning of Christmas by being Jesus with skin on to others rather than focusing on material gifts?

God gave the world His most precious gift of all, His only Son, Jesus, so that we can be reconciled with Him forever. The gift is priceless. Yet, no matter how large or small our bank account, after we've received the gift ourselves, we can turn around and give it to others. God provides the gift, but He involves us to share the Good News about it to others.

And what makes it even more wonderful is that it's a gift that can be given any day of the year. Not just on Christmas. Who will you give God's precious gift to this year?

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

CFBA Book Tour: Distant Heart by Tracey Bateman

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance book tour features Distant Heart by Tracey Bateman. I got to know Tracey when we served on the ACFW board together and found her to be a fun lady who loves the Lord and can write in more than one genre. And what's more, her stories sing, no matter the genre!

I can say without a doubt that any book Tracey has written is worth taking the time to write!


Tracey Bateman is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five books, including Defiant Heart, the First in the Westeard Hearts series. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and recently served on the board as President. She loves in Lebanon, Missouri, with her husband and their four children.


In the second book in the Westward Hearts trilogy, will the promise of a new life out west heal the scars of Toni's past?

This series tells the stories of three strong women as they struggle to survive on the rough wagon train and lose their hearts to unlikely heroes along the way/ Thin Little House on the Prairie meets Francine river's Redeeming Love and you begin to get a sense of the riveting historical series that Tracey Bateman has created.

In this second installment, we follow Toni Rodden, a former prostitute who sought to escape her past and build a new life, and a new reputation, when she joined the wagon train. Despite much resentment and distrust from the other women, Toni has finally earned a place on the wagon train and found a surrogate family in Fannie Caldwell and her two siblings. For the first time in her life, Toni actually feels free.

But while Toni once harbored dreams that her new life might include a husband and family, she soon realizes the stigma that comes with her past is difficult to see beyond and that she'll never be truly loved or seen as worthy. As the trip out west begins to teach her to survive on her own, she resolves to make her own living as a seamstress when the train finally reaches Oregon.

But despite Toni's conviction that no man will be able to see beyond her marred past, Sam Two-feathers, the wagon scout and acting preacher for the train seems to know of a love that forgives sins and values much more than outward appearances. Will Sam have the confidence to declare his love? Will Toni be able to trust in a God that can forgive even the darkest past? Faith, love, and courage will be put to the test in Distant Heart.

Buy it at Amazon!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Snow, Christmas, Snow, Dashboard Warning Lights, Snow and Dying Remotes

The title describes exactly what my life has been the past several days. The frustrating part is that in that list there isn't one word - writing.

It's been one of those times.

The Chicago area received a bunch of snow last week and then again all day Saturday into Sunday. During that time, I celebrated an early Christmas on Friday with my friend, Ed, because he was leaving town Saturday. That same day, the engine warning light on my dashboard went on and my handbook said "Do not stop. Do not pass "Go." Go directly to (not jail) the dealer." Well, not an exact quote, but you get the idea.

So, Ed left in the snow on Saturday, and being that the day was snowy and my engine warning light glowing, I didn't drive up to Wisconsin to attend the book signing of a fellow ACFW member as I planned. I stayed close to home, but was so exhausted from a late night and early morning wake-up I couldn't put two words together. So I spent the day watching shows I'd recorded on the DVR, including the movie, "The Note," an adaptation of Angie Hunt's book by the same title. It had been so long since I'd read the story I'd forgotten a good bit of the storyline, but much of it came back as I watched the movie. It was a nice, enjoyable movie to watch on a snowy afternoon. Sunday was an easy-going day. Church then just hanging out at home. But Sunday is the Lord's Day and I try not to write on Sundays, so I worked on my Christmas cards. Before the day was over I discovered that the remote control for the TV/DVR cable had died.

Today I was off to the car dealer and had a new charcoal filter thingy changed out on the catalytic converter. Then from there I went to Comcast to exchange my dead remote control for a new one--only to find after returning home that the new one doesn't work either!

Tomorrow I plan to write, write and write again. I have to get this read-through done this week so I can get it sent to the agent. That is if it doesn't snow or something else doesn't break.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

CFBA Tour of the Week: What Lies Within by Karen Ball

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

What Lies Within

Multnomah Fiction (November 20, 2007)


Karen Ball


Karen Ball , bestselling novelist, is also the editor behind several of today's bestselling Christian novels. Her love for words was passed down through her father and grandfather - both pastors who shared God's truth through sermons and storytelling. Blending humor, poignancy, and honesty, Karen's writing style is a powerful force for revealing God's truth. She lives in Oregon with her husband, Don, and their "kids," Bodhan, a mischief-making Siberian husky, and Dakota, an Aussie-terrier mix who should have been named "Destructo."


Nothing’s going to stop Kyla…

until the ground crumbles beneath her feet.

Kyla Justice has arrived. Her company, Justice Construction, is one of the most critically acclaimed, commercially successful companies in the Pacific Northwest. And yet, something is missing. Not until she’s called on to build a center for inner-city kids does she realize what it is: her sense of purpose. Now nothing can stop her, not the low budget, not supply problems, not gang opposition, not her boyfriend’s suggestion that she sell her business and marry him–and most especially not that disagreeable Rafael Murphy.

Rafe Murphy understands battle. Wounded in action, this Force Recon Marine carries the scars–and the nightmares–to prove it. Though he can’t fight overseas any longer, he’s found his place as a warrior in the civilian world. So he soldiers on, trusting that one of these days, God will reveal to him why Rafe survived the ambush in Iraq. That day has arrived.
Kyla and Rafe both discover that determination alone won’t carry them through danger and challenges. When gang violence threatens their very foundations, there’s only one way to survive: rely on each other, be real–and surrender to God. In other words, risk everything…

Buy it at Amazon!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Ice Man Cometh

Well, maybe not the Ice Man, but ice (and lots of it) sure has been with us a lot for the past several days. Saturday night we had an ice storm, then Sunday evening another system went through. It skipped Monday, and today I woke up to trees that looked much like this photo. Schools have been closed and people were cautioned to stay off the roads, if possible.

For once I'm glad to stay in and I've been busy working on my read-through along with other things that need doing before Christmas.

What happened with my friend, Kristy's, radiation yesterday? Nothing. They got to the center at the appointed time and were told the machine just broke. It had been working fine right up until her appointment. Her husband, Milton, started laughing because so many of us were praying right at that moment. Of course, God, does have a sense of humor and we all believe the machine broke because it wasn't yet time for Kristy to have that radiation treatment. We may not know why just yet, but I trust that she was able to get the treatment today. We are believing God for a miracle, no matter what day of the week He decides.

There are so many other things going on that need prayer, some I am not at liberty to discuss. Some I can, like what kind of senseless stuff is going on with all these shootings? First the mall in Nebraska, and then Sunday with the two shootings at a Youth With a Mission training center and a large church, both in Colorado and both caused by the same person--a disgruntled young man with a vendetta against Christianity. Since when is shooting and killing the way to settle such anger? It's all part of the downward spiral this world is on. I praise God that He has given me a chance to know Him and to have the assurance that He will prevail in the end. There is more to life than what we see right here and now.

So, I keep on doing what God has called me to do. Put my words to story and sprinkle the prose liberally with salt.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Call for a Miracle

Scripture says that two are better than one, and that we are to be persistent in our prayers.

About a month ago fellow ACFW member, Kristy Dykes, was stunned to learn that she had a malignant brain tumor. All she did was go to her regular eye doctor for a routine eye exam. Seeing that she was losing peripheral vision in both eyes the doctor told her she needed an MRI immediately. About a week later she was in surgery to remove the tumor. A very deadly tumor. Doctors have told her that unless the Lord intervenes her chance at living more than a few more months is nil. Yet Kristy is a fighter.

Already God has answered prayer in restoring her capacity to read and write even a little bit. For a couple weeks after the surgery she could do neither. Now she can do some of that.

Her family and friends have all been praying around the clock for her, each taking an assigned time of the day or night, but now we are putting out a plea for a very special prayer to be made on her behalf this coming Monday, December 10th. At 3:30 Eastern time she will have her first radiation treatment. They have asked that everyone pray at that very time for the radiation to wipe every cell of that cancer from her head. That God would do a miraculous healing for Kristy. I have witnessed healings of such nature in the past and God can do this.

You can read more of Kristy and her husband Milton's journey through this trial by going to Kristy's blog. Milton has taken over the daily updates on Kristy since the surgery where he not only keeps us informed of her condition but also shares about their wonderful love for God and for each other.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

CFBA Tour of the Week: Bluegrass Peril by Virginia Smith

I am currently reading this book and am thoroughly enjoying it! I'd hoped to finish the book by the time CFBA spotlighted it, but the busy monthly activities and working on my WIP's revision threw a curve in my plans. If you like mystery, romance, and horses, you will love this story.

I'll post below the author notes and story description. From what I've read so far, this story is a winner, as are the other stories I've read by fellow ACFW member, Virginia Smith. I recommend it.

Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker in the summer of 2005. Since then she has contracted eight novels and numerous articles and short stories.

She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including her debut, Just As I Am (Kregel Publications, March 2006) and her new release, Murder by Mushroom (Steeple Hill, August 2007). Her short fiction has been anthologized, and her articles have been published in a variety of Christian magazines.

An energetic speaker, Virginia loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, “Biblical Truths in Star Trek.”



Local police had tagged single mom Becky Dennison as their prime suspect. But she'd only been in the wrong place at the wrong time...admittedly, with her boss's lifeless body. Sure it looked bad, but Becky had no motive for killing...even if she had opportunity.

When the director of the retirement farm for thoroughbred champions is murdered, Becky Dennison teams up with the handsome manager of a neighboring horse farm, Scott Lewis, to find her boss's killer. Soon the amateur detective are hot on the trail of the murderer...even as their feelings for each other deepen.

The amateur sleuths uncover a trail of clues that lead them into the intricate society of Kentucky's elite thoroughbred breeding industry. They soon find themselves surrounded by the mint julep set - jealous southern belles and intensely competitive horse breeders - in a high-stakes game of danger, money, and that famous southern pride.

And for Becky and Scott, this race on the Kentucky tracks has the greatest stakes of all: life or death!
Romantic Times awarded Bluegrass Peril
* * * * FOUR STARS! * * * *
Buy it at Amazon!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Winner of The Other Daughter Is . . .

Stamped with Grace. I just sent her an email and as soon as she sends me her mailing address, the book will go out to her.

Watch this blog for another giveaway to happen soon!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Yahoo! The Goal Has Been Met :-)

Yes, I've been noticeably absent this week from Writer's Journey. Other than the announcement of a drawing for my friend Miralee's book this coming Monday I've been AWOL!

But I haven't been idle!

I set December 1st as my goal to finish the task of revising my manuscript from 60,000 words to 90,000 words (approximately), and at about 5 p.m. yesterday, mission was accomplished. Woo Hoo! Did that feel good.

It still needs a go-around for fine-tuning and I'll be doing that fairly quick here, but the major work has been done.

An agent has requested the full ms. and I want her to have a look at it before I send it to anyone, including the editor who requested it at the conference last September. My dilemma is do I hold off sending the full to the agent AFTER the holidays or send it when it's done, no matter when it's done?

It's a nice dilemma.