Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Consider the Glen Eyrie Writer's Workshop

Looking for a great writer's seminar to hone your skills and fire your enthusiasm?

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

And you are?

I read an article about famous Hollywood types who feel compelled throw around their celebrity to get their way.

"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

Sometimes I take a trip on the crazy bus. How about you?

Okay, I'm going to put this out there: I'm an emotional woman.

Morguefile.com photo
Sometimes I let my emotions get the best of me and hop on the crazy bus. And then once I'm on that crazy bus I tend to stay aboard, holding tightly to the seat in front of me and swaying to the rises and dips and twists and turns as it carries me away.

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

Post-Boston Marathon: Pain, confusion, questions without answers

Like most Americans the news of the terrible bombing at the Boston Marathon left me stunned and saddened.

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.

'Tis a fearful thing
To love
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,
To love
What death can touch.
                ~Judah Halevi, 12th Cent.

Isn't that wonderful? 

Lord, bless the people affected by this awful act. Be close to them and their loved ones. Let them be comforted by Your love, send helpers to them to ease their burden.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

See it, smell it, feel it, taste it, hear it . . .

I recently read a story that left me wholly unsatisfied. The author skimped on writing in the sensory details. I felt disoriented while reading and found myself eager to be finished.

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?

Thursday, April 04, 2013

What famous author do you write like?

A couple years ago, I posted a link to an online quiz about what type of writer you should be.It's a fun short quiz. My answer was screenwriter.That tickled me because I think novels should run through your mind like a movie and also because I'm going to turn Searching for Spice into a screenplay. Well, I'm going to make a good try at doing it.

Anyway, here's another fun quiz that tells you which famous writer you write like. I took the quiz a few times with different excerpts, but you can also use a blog post, journal entry, or comment.

Here are the results when I used my current wip:
  • Margaret Mitchell
  • James Joyce
  • Anne Rice
  • Kirk Vonnegut
Here's the results with my completed Lady in the Locket:
  • James Joyce (again!)
  • K.J. Rowling
  • Douglas Adams
According the quiz, my text from Searching for Spice resembled the work of:
  • David Foster Wallace
  • Chuck Palahniuk
  • Charles Dickens (go figure!)
Have fun, and tell me what famous author you write like!

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Loving Words during National Poetry Month

 Did you know April is National Poetry Month?

I'm not a poet, but I am in love with words and occasionally read poems. I love to read a poem and either be transported to a different world, see my world in a different way, or have someone from another time nail a thought or impression I've had. 

I was paging through an old poetry book and found a poem I don't remember seeing before. It's a poem by Emily Dickinson, and I love it because it's relatable to me. Written in the 19th Century, it's an acknowledgement of the existence of God. 

I Never Saw a Moor

I never saw a moor,
I never saw the sea;
Yet know I how the heather looks,
And what a wave must be. 

I never spoke with God, 
Nor visited in heaven,
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the chart were given. 

Another poem I like, and one that's been residing in my brain, is a poem I'd memorized many, many years ago. If thou must love me, let it be for nought is one of the poems found in Sonnets from the Portuguese. It's quite lovely.Sonnets from the Portuguese is a collection of poems that Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote for her husband, Robert Browning. I think she nails the desire of women to be loved simply for who they are. That's the kind of love that lasts--one not built on image or convenience.

If thou must love me, let it be for nought...

If thou must love me, let it be for nought 
Except for love's sake only. Do not say 
"I love her for her smile—her look—her way 
Of speaking gently,—for a trick of thought 
That falls in well with mine, and certes brought 
A sense of pleasant ease on such a day"— 
For these things in themselves, Beloved, may 
Be changed, or change for thee,—and love, so wrought, 
May be unwrought so. Neither love me for 
Thine own dear pity's wiping my cheeks dry,— 
A creature might forget to weep, who bore 
Thy comfort long, and lose thy love thereby! 
But love me for love's sake, that evermore 
Thou may'st love on, through love's eternity.

Do you have a particular poem that resounds in your head or your heart?

That lovely photo is one I took in Columbia, SC at the capitol last January. Isn't it lovely?