Tuesday, December 24, 2013
For as long as I can remember, my mother put this reproduction antique post card on the table next to our nativity set each Christmas season. The nativity set was passed on to me several years ago. In the box was the post card with a sentiment written by Phillips Brooks, a man known as the greatest American preacher of the 19th century and author of the Christmas hymn, O Little Town of Bethlehem.
Each year when I read the post card, a thrill of joy bubbles up from my heart. At this beautiful time of year, I wish you a similar thrill of joy. . .
“Lift up your eyes to the great meaning of the day, and dare to think of your humanity as something so divinely precious that it is worthy of being made an offering to God.
Count it as a privilege to make that offering as complete as possible, keeping nothing back; and then go out to the pleasures and duties of your life, having been truly born anew into His divinity, as he was born into our humanity on Christmas Day.”
Have a blessed Christmas!
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
I'm delighted to host my friend Robbie Iobst today. I met Robbie about six or seven years ago when she joined one of the local writers groups I was involved with. That's a photo of Robbie at her book launch party a few weeks ago. It was a thrill to celebrate with her. I also had the pleasure of reading this novel and the honor of endorsing it:
Cecilia Jackson thought so and made it her final wish to have three women come home to Boots, Texas and make her top-secret, award-winning, sought-after tuna fish recipe for her funeral fixins.
Belinda Kite, Donna Dougans and Maggie Shanks haven’t been back to Boots since the incident that destroyed their friendship twenty-five years ago. Belinda is running from the law, Donna is desperate to find love, and Maggie holds a secret that could take her life.
Amidst tensions from the past, they begrudgingly make the sandwiches, and find themselves fighting not only each other, but the people around them.
Imogene and Lola Bee, cohorts of Cecilia, are frantic to get their hands on that recipe and not let citified young’uns high tail it out of Boots with the town’s coveted covert document.
Will the recipe bring reconciliation and redemption or all-out war to the West Texas desert?
Thursday, November 21, 2013
I'm a polite, middle-aged lady who lets other people participate in public disagreements. Truly.
The last time I felt compelled to stand up and make my voice heard was about in 1990 when my school district was forcing a propaganda program on early elementary students. My point was that if there was extra time in the school day, let's teach more math or science, and stay out of personal family decisions. I started by discussing my concerns with the volunteers who presented the program. Then I went to the teacher. Then I went to the principal. Then I ended up presenting to the school board. They changed the district-wide program to eliminate the inappropriate content.
But that was then, and this is now. For nearly seven years I've been distressed by the so-called war on women that has been manufactured by politicians and talking heads. The recent "war on women" was nothing more than a distraction from real issues.
I'm old enough to remember the actual war on women in the 60s and 70s, so when all that talk was thrown around for the past six years or so, I was annoyed. I wanted to stand up and scream, "Wake up, little sisters! The war on women was fought decades ago, and we won!" The issues of free birth control, etc. that were a part of the so-called war on women were manufactured to elicit a knee-jerk response. Imposing upon others the obligation for buying your birth control is handing over your own welfare and responsibilities to bureaucrats. Any mature, intelligent woman can see that's a disastrous road to start down.
But now I'm wondering if there truly is a war on women--that perhaps it's acceptable to say any vile or disgusting things about women you disagree with. Or perhaps it's simply a war on decency.
What's pushed me to speak out are the disgusting comments made by an MSNBC personality. And I am outraged that MSNBC and their owner Comcast support this type of discourse. I'm referring to the repulsive comments made by Martin Bashir toward Sarah Palin. I can't bring myself to describe what was said. It's too disgusting. If you curious, google it.
I'm not one to publicly get involved in political conversations, and my concern is outside of that realm. My concern is that a "professional" would use such reprehensible language in a public setting without incurring disciplinary action. The entire team that was complicit in preparing that broadcast should be disciplined as well.
Where are the people standing up for decency in public discourse? I know folks on both sides of the issues can stoop to vile name calling, but I'VE HAD IT!!
Isn't it time to say, "ENOUGH!"
Can't we reign in our language to reflect a certain level of civility? For the love of all that's decent, please join me in no longer remaining silent as our culture slides into the garbage pit of indecency.
*If any disrespectful or potty-mouth comments are made to this post, they will be deleted. Don't waste your time if you can't speak respectfully, please.
Thursday, October 03, 2013
I've been thinking about the dream I was having as I awoke the other morning. I was walking down a wide hallway on an upper floor. To my right was a turned staircase, leading down. As I walked down the hallway, beautiful sculptures of flowers bloomed on the walls. It was incredible. The walls were ordinary and flat, then as I passed, art burst from them in gorgeous 3D colors and metallic tones.
While I was eating my lunch it struck me that the colors and tones of the sculptures in my dream were like the art that hangs on a parking garage I drive past when I'm heading north. It's at the Lincoln Station Light Rail. Have you seen it? It's called Sun Stream. Check it out here.
Back to my dream. Before I walked down that hallway I encountered an unpleasant person who was trying to bully me. But I refused to be moved by that brute, left the room we were in, and found my way to that magical hallway.
And of course, me being me, that scene may very well end up in a novel one day.
The photo is of one of my favorite spots. Another spot that moves me as I write or read or spend time with loved ones. My lavender Adirondack chair sits beneath my aspen trees among the hollyhocks. It's early autumn, and my poor flowers are too tired to stand on their own. This will soon be a precious memory as snow is in our forecast for the first time this week.
Be blessed, and sweet dreams, friends!
Tuesday, October 01, 2013
I'm fortunate to be a contributor to the Novel Rocket blog where all things literary are discussed, and the contributors I rub shoulders with are all an inspiration to me. I write the monthly column on industry news. I hope you hop over there and take a look.
Thursday, September 05, 2013
I met Wendy about a year ago. The first thing I noticed about her was her warm smile, and then she hugged me. Wendy's a hugger. I was thrilled to hear about her new release, The Disappearing Key. The premise captivated me.
I'm delighted she stopped by my blog for a visit.Here's some info about The Disappearing Key:
The secret must be kept.
Tuesday, September 03, 2013
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Until we chat again, read a good book, splash in a pool, go for a walk with loved ones, say "goodnight" to the moon, dance for the fun of it, hold hands and run across the grass, stand under a tall maple tree and look up at the leaves, rest in a hammock, play at the park, and eat drippy ice cream.
That's what I'll be doing.
Have a blessed end to your summer.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
The lesson learned? --> Never chase love, affection, or attention. If it isn’t given freely by another person, it isn’t worth having.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Being left handed has never seemed much of a problem to me because I truly have mixed dominance and use my right hand for certain tasks. I iron with my right hand, and I use right-handed scissors.
Being a writer I've played with the idea of writing some mysterious scene that someone figures out something that happened could only be done by a left-handed person. I've never fully fleshed it out, but it's fun to play what if.
Anyway, I ran across a fun website for left handers where you can "celebrate your right to be left handed."
Whether your right- or left-handed, have a blessed day, friends.
Tuesday, August 06, 2013
Hop over to Novel Rocket. I'm posting my monthly article on publishing industry news.
Also, if you run across any industry news, please pass the info along. I'm always grateful for any help I get.
Thursday, August 01, 2013
But aside from those wonderful benefits, reading had helped to shape my personality and outlook.
I've identified with some amazing and courageous characters who have nudged me to be try to be more courageous.
I've found that some of my rough edges have been softened by seeing a situation through another set of eyes.
I've found escape during difficult times in fiction that has helped me walk through some valleys. My fictional "friends" have kept me company on days when I'm not fit for polite society.
How about you? Have books rescued you when you needed it?
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Thursday, July 25, 2013
I once went to a new hairdresser, and within twenty minutes of meeting her I heard a most interesting story. After she told me, she stepped back, blinked and said, "I can't believe you got me to spill my beans." The memory still makes me smile.
I think the reason I got her to spill her beans is simply because she knew I was interested in her story.
See the photo on the left? My mom's in the center. I think she was about 17 at the time. She's with her sister and an aunt, walking on a NYC street. I've got plenty of stories about those ladies.
I stumbled across a fascinating website called Humans of New York. It's full of amazing portraits with small captions that give a taste of the subject's story.
I know I'll be checking back to see more photos and read more captions. My writer's mind loves that I can go there and find "characters" that I can put into novels. :)
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Millie's story got under my skin. I grieved for her small, desperate world, and loved (most of) the characters in it. Told through the eyes of a young girl and set in Depression-era Mississippi, Into the Free takes you on a journey of discovery. I yearned for peace and purpose for dear little Millie. Through it all, there was an underlying glimmer of hope that this girl would eventually find her way out of her life and into the free. Ms. Cantrell's prose was lovely and heartbreaking at the same time. She spun scenes with a delicate hand that painted vivid images in your mind. This is one of those novels that lingers in your thoughts long after you close the book.
I was delighted to learn the sequel to When Mountains Move, will release in September!
Thursday, July 18, 2013
I have several variety in my yard, but each year I most look forward to these beauties blooming. They're my only lilies with ruffled edges, and their color soothes me.
They grow beneath a stand of Aspens surrounded by yet-to-bloom hollyhocks just to the left of my outdoor reading nook where my Adirondack chair sits.
During the depths of winter when my chair's tucked into the basement and snow
covers the remains of summer's flowers, I daydream about my little piece of paradise where I sit and plot (novels) and dream and read.
Do you have a special place that revives your spirit?
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
In 2000 I attended my first writers conference and was surprised to hear a list of words that are out and considered archaic. I can't recall them all, but one was burnt. The (current) proper word is burned. Regardless, I've heard people say burnt again and again. Apparently they didn't get the memo.
I ran across an article that discusses obsolete words that shouldn't have gone out of style. It's an interesting list, and I wish some of those words were still in use. They're so expressive.
This list is a treasure of possibilities--words authors could bring back into use.
Take a look at a few:
Snoutfair: A person with a handsome countenance — “The Word Museum: The Most Remarkable English Words Ever Forgotten” by Jeffrey Kacirk
California widow: A married woman whose husband is away from her for any extended period — John Farmer’s “Americanisms Old and New”, 1889
Groak: To silently watch someone while they are eating, hoping to be invited to join them –www.ObsoleteWord.Blogspot.com
Wouldn't some of those words make intriguing titles?
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Yes, I'm a novel geek.
The book that popped into my memory was one that was on my 1969 summer reading list of novels I had to consume before starting high school. (Let me save you the time it would take to figure it out--I'm 58 years old.)
That book is Winter Wheat by Mildred Walker. Did you ever read it? Here's the funny thing, I don't recall the plot of the book as much as how I recall how the book made me feel -- how desperate I was to continue reading, to find out about Ellen Webb and how her future would unfold.
I just peeked at the first page, and I fell in love with words again. Look at this opening paragraph:
September is like a quiet day after a whole week of wind. I mean that wind that blows dirt into your eyes and hair and between your teeth and roars in your ears after you've gone inside. The harvesting is done and the wheat stored away and you're through worrying about hail or drought or grasshoppers. The fields have a tired peaceful look, the way I imagine a mother feels when she's had her baby and is just lying there thinking about it and feeling pleased.
Do you recall a novel that enticed you to get lost within its pages when you were a child? What was it?
In an aside, that article about the summer reading list will make you crazy. The list was filled with errors. Check it out.
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
I like to hear the "rules" explained by different sources because sometimes a new way of saying the same old thing will spark my imagination and help me to learn a new point of craft.
I'm delighted to share this article, 16 Fancy Literary Techniques Explained by Disney, in hopes it hits the mark and helps your writing.
Tuesday, July 02, 2013
I've followed this blog for years. It's a website for writers and features great articles and interviews as well as several resources for writers.
I'm very honored to be accepted into the group of novelists who maintain Novel Rocket. I will post a monthly article on publishing industry news. My first article posted today. I hope you'll check it out.
Also, if you run across any industry news, please pass the info along. I'm always grateful for any help I get.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
My favorite is what Sylvia Plath said: "I love my rejection slips. They show me I try."
Writers, we need to learn what we can from rejection and then move f-o-r-w-a-r-d!
Thursday, June 13, 2013
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What a charming and entertaining tale! I really enjoyed this book. The characters were well defined and the plot took enough twists to keep me turning pages. YES, read this one! It kept me up past my bedtime, but that's okay. :)
View all my reviews
Tuesday, June 04, 2013
Thursday, May 30, 2013
I was at writer's group lately, and the speaker had short assignments for us to do. One question was to finish this sentence, "I elementary school, I liked _______."
Of course the first response to come to mind was reading. And then I recalled a spot where I spent many hours reading during my childhood. It was the staircase of my parents little Cape Cod house. There were six of us living there, and hardly anyplace quiet enough or private enough for uninterrupted ready. The "cozy" home had an eat-in kitchen, living room, (ONE!) bathroom and some bedrooms.
I figured out the place where I'd least be disturbed, other than having someone pass by occasionally, was the staircase. I have fond memories of sitting on a step, leaning against the wall and reading and reading and reading.
What about you? Where did you steal off to read when you were a child?
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Rejection is an ugly word, especially to a writer. But we need to keep it in perspective. To help you put rejection into perspective, I’d like to discuss my shoes.
I have a pair of lovely leather shoes. I really like my shoes. They are stylish, look good with many types of clothing, and are comfortable to wear for many hours. I love, love, love my shoes.
A few months ago, I noticed my shoes were beginning to look worn out and were no longer attractive to wear with dress pants. I thought about purchasing another pair of shoes, and then I had the bright idea to bring them to a shoe repairman. The repairman put new heels on my shoes, polished the leather, and blackened the soles. After some effort and work, my leather shoes are spiffed up and look as good as new.
Now, if I offered my shoes to someone and they don’t love them like I do, should I be heartbroken? Does their rejection of my shoes make me less of a person? Does it make my shoes less attractive? Does it make me less worthy?
Think about it, I bet my shoes wouldn’t fit just anyone. They wouldn’t be right for a number of people with different tastes and different needs. But that doesn’t make my shoes less valuable or less worthy.
That’s the way I look at rejection. My manuscript (shoes) is polished and ready to go out into the world. But perhaps the agent/editor (consumer) needs a different size or is looking for a different style. It’s easy to look at the situation from this perspective and see that it’s not always personal when your manuscript (shoes) is rejected!
Rejection is an ugly word, especially to a writer. But we need to keep it in perspective. If we’ve been gifted/called to write, then we should keep writing and polishing our manuscript in obedience to our Lord. Perhaps the work we put into our manuscripts will never yield the results we desire, but if we work in obedience, I believe it will always yield the results the Lord has intended for us. Perhaps our work will lead us in a direction we never expected. I don’t believe the time and effort spent polishing our manuscripts will ever be rendered wasted. We are a work in progress, and only God knows where that will lead.
Thursday, May 09, 2013
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
I was honored to read Catch a Falling Star and offer my endorsement. (Yes, it's so cool that you can open my friend's book and see my review!) I love Beth's writing style!
Here's what I had to say about this delightful novel:
"Catch a Falling Star, Beth Vogt's sophomore novel, delights with an intriguing cast of characters, a page-turning plot, unexpected twists, and sharp writing. I loved this tender story framed in second chances and heartfelt dreams that proves fairy-tale lives come in all shapes and sizes."
I'm so happy for Beth. She's a generous woman and a fine writer. Treat yourself, and buy this book today.
I'm happy to spread the good news about my friends' books. It makes me think of Romans 12:15 because I'm that kind of gal.
"Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep."
Thursday, May 02, 2013
The contest showcases the best and worst in romance book covers released in 2012.
I love looking at covers, don't you? Take a hop over to their site and vote, it's fun!
But let me warn you -- the "worst" covers are so bad you'll want to wash your eyes out after viewing them. Blech. What were those people thinking?
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Consider attending the Glen Eyrie Writer's Workshop in Colorado Springs.
I've been to this workshop a few times, and I can vouch for its value. Led by authors Nancy Rue, Angela Hunt, Kathy Mackel, and Bill Myers, the event offers excellent instruction in a small group atmosphere.
Oh, and it's held in a castle. That's not too shabby.
The workshop will be held June 16th - 19th. For the attention you'll get, the price is an amazing bargain. Only $288 (plus lodging) for four days that could very well take your writing career to a new level. The brochure promises you'll, "Grow professionally, spiritually and personally. Leave better prepared to write your masterpiece!"
If you have the time and the money, consider going to this fine seminar. You won't regret it.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
"Do you know who I am?"
Apparently that question opens doors, gives them discounts, offers a way out of legal situations, etc.
But sometimes it doesn't work (see linked article).
Unfortunately it must work occasionally because these people have learned how to get what they want by throwing the weight of their fame in the faces of anyone opposing their desire. That's too bad.
I've always been an Acts 10:34 gal, treating everyone equally. After all, if it's good enough for God, it's good enough for me. If you're wondering, here's the verse: Then Peter replied, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism."
I've never dropped the do-you-know-who-I-am line, but I did have an awkward moment once when someone was trying to figure out who I was. I had been invited to a private study group that meets in Denver. The event that day was a field trip to some local cultural site. After the presentation, refreshments were served. I knew practically no one there.
A middle-aged woman came up to me, and we introduced ourselves.
"Now who are you?" she asked.
The question caught me off guard since I'd just introduced myself. Not knowing what to say, I smiled and repeated my name.
"We've never met, have we?" she asked.
"Well, who are you?"
I explained that I was invited to the event as a guest of the group's coordinator.
The lady nodded. "Still . . ." She looked me up and down. "You must be someone's daughter, right?"
At this point I was growing uncomfortable with the scrutiny. She obviously didn't think I had the qualifications to be among that revered group. She cocked her head, and I could see the wheels turning as she tried to figure out how I landed in her world.
Then I found my voice. "Yes." I shrugged. "I am someone's daughter." I took a sip of my lemonade, put down my glass, and left the gathering.
Clearly, she thought I didn't belong in that gathering. That happened nearly 19 years ago, and I still recall the feeling of being pushed out by the cool/mean girl.
I wish I'd had a snappy retort. But more importantly I remember how it felt to have someone scrutinize me and finds me lacking. I vowed I'd never treat a stranger that way.
So in the long run, that moment of discomfort was a good thing. It helped me to grow and understand how important it is to treat everyone respectfully. I've become that person who welcomes new people into a group or saves a seat for someone who's coming to a writers' event for the first time.
Oh, and by the way -- yes, I am someone's daughter!
So, do you know who you are?
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Usually, before too much time passes, I'm able to realize I'm captive to my own emotions. I take the initiative and step off that bus back onto Reality Blvd.
That happened to me the other day. I was feeling blue and weary, feeling not particularly productive, and not really sure what my purpose was. I met a friend for coffee, and while listening to her, I realized I'm not alone. Other people feel blue and weary, not really sure what their purpose is.
Thank God for friends. If they're close enough to us, they often serve as a mirror--reflecting our doubts and insecurities, but also assuring us we're not really crazy. It's a relief to know I'm not the only one with insecurities and doubts. I'm not the only one who feels like the odd one out at times.
We talked, and I ended up praying with my friend. The amazing thing is that I had hoped to make her feel a little better, but as I drove home I realized that I also felt better. Part of my problem was that while I was riding my little crazy bus I didn't look around and realize that there were other passengers. We're not alone, friends.
The bottom line? Reach out to friends with love and prayers and assurances. Also, learn to give yourself a break -- treat yourself with the kindness you give to your friends.
That's a good plan. Don't you think?
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Senseless tragedies sweep into being and change lives. Forever.
Why? Why me? Why him? Why her? Questions survivors and victims' loved ones ask will never get a satisfactory answer. In a moment the rest of their days have changed. Their memories will divide time into "before" and "after."
Tears have come easily since I heard the awful news yesterday because I know what it's like to get a call and have someone tell you something you never imagined your family would have to deal with. An unexpected tragedy sweeps the rug out from beneath and leaves you stepping forward into a future without a loved one. I know the pain of grieving someone who was taken violently and unexpectedly.
It's hard. I've been praying for the broken survivors and the families that have been forever changed. I know that every step for a long while will feel like walking uphill on a rocky path.
But a truth I live with and cling to is this, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed." ~Psalm 34:18
Last night I was reading Lucille Zimmerman's new book Renewed, and she quoted a poem that I'm happy to share.
What death can touch.
To love, to hope, to dream,
And oh, to lose.
A thing for fools, this,
But a holy thing,
To love what death can touch.
For your life has lived in me;
Your laugh once lifted me;
Your word was a gift to me;
To remember this brings painful joy.
'Tis a human thing, love,
A holy thing,
What death can touch.
~Judah Halevi, 12th Cent.
Tuesday, April 09, 2013
When I read, either fiction or non-fiction, I need to feel as if I'm dropped into the scene and can experience what the character can experience.
The photo on the left is taken from the window of a luxury resort in Beaver Creek, Colorado. (I cashed in lots and lots of loyalty points to enjoy a few days in the Rockies.)
If I were reading a scene that takes place in that resort I'd like to know what the room looked like. How did the luxurious bedding feel to a weary body? How big were the windows, and what kind of shadows fell across the floor? How did the wind sing as it wove its way through the pines? Can you hear the whinny of horses as they cart vacationers through the mountain trails? Did the breeze carry the fragrance of pine boughs? What color blue was the sky? How plush was the carpet? What speciality was the hotel's chef known for?
All those little details woven into the story help to transport the reader. If I take the time to read your book, please transport me.
Conversely, if I'm writing a novel my goal is to pull the reading into the story by using sensory details in the narrative. Here's a tiny bit from one of my wips: Scott stepped forward, and together they strolled over crisp snow. A breeze threaded down the basin through the spindly aspens and pine trees wearing winter’s glitter. The wind stirred up fresh powder, swirling it around them in an icy spray.
I want my reader to feel the chill of the air, the sting of snow on their cheeks, and see the magical beauty of fresh snow on mountain trees.
How about you? What do you hope to experience when you read or write?