Thursday, November 29, 2007
JW: How did you get into writing?
CB: Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved stories. I’ve always had a great imagination and I spent a lot of time spinning tales. I remember writing my first “book” when I was in elementary school. It was about a turtle named Myrtle. In high school, I wrote my first complete novel! I continued pursuing my passion to write when I went to college and studied communications. After graduation, I got a job at a Christian publishing house. After working there three years, I left and began to work on my own writing again. I’ve been doing that ever since.
JW: A turtle named Myrtle? Now that sounds like a great read. Do you have a specific purpose for writing?
CB: Lately, it’s been impressed on me that I need to write in order to express truths. I’ve got a big heart for Christians who have been hurt by the church and I think my writing reflects that. I want to portray Christians honestly, so we can look at ourselves and realize the areas that need improvement. I also write to bring a sense of adventure and humor to those who read. Most of all, I write because I know that’s what God’s called me to do.
JW: Tell me about your writing space and routine. And how has having a child changed that routine?
CB: I wish I had some great and inspiring stories to tell you about my awesome writing space and routine. HOWEVER—my routine right now is mostly that I write on Tuesdays and Thursdays while my mother watches my 16-month-old, Eli. He’s banned from my cluttered little office, you see. At first, he just went through my drawers and disorganized them, pulled books off my shelf and gleeful poured dirt from my potted plant onto the carpet. The other day, however, he turned off my computer. The hard drive is on the floor and someone brilliantly designed it so that the “on” button lights up.
JW: Oh, no. Please say no…
CB: Well, little Eli just couldn’t resist. He pressed it. In doing so, I lost pages of work. Now, HE’S BANNED! I’m still trying to figure out how to balance writing with having a child. It’s challenging.
JW: I hear ya. It’s hard enough babysitting a dog who likes to poke his head in front of my screen and press mmmmmmmmmm. Okay, got a little carried away there. Challenging or not, you do a great job! Now, you do a lot of articles, novels, and non-fiction books. Do you have a favorite?
CB: Fiction is definitely my first love. I love the whole story world and creative process. Non-fiction helps to pay my bills, though!
JW: So how do you get the ideas for your stories?
CB: Everywhere! And honestly, one of the reasons I love writing for the newspaper is that I get so many “ideas” from the people I’ve interviewed (not directly, mind you). For instance, my next book (The Grim Sweeper) deals with an Elvis Tribute Artist. I got the idea after interviewing an Elvis impersonator for a story. When I saw how ga-ga some women were going over this man, I knew I had to use a fake Elvis in one of my stories. Usually, I have so many ideas that I don’t know what to do with them all. It’s hard to narrow them down. But somehow, I do. I usually pick the one that I can’t get out of my mind!
JW: I definitely hear you on that. So, Christy, you are one busy woman, but when you’re not writing, what are some of your favorite things? To do, to eat, whatever.
CB: My favorite things…I love singing and playing the guitar. I love musicals and dogs (I even have two!). I also love watching people and being a student of human behavior. My favorite thing in the whole world lately is just watching my son learn. It’s amazing! Really!
JW: My dad tried to teach me how to play the guitar. Those lessons went about as well as the stick shift lessons. I could give advice from that, but I’d rather hear some from you. Two bits of random advice—one writing-related and one not.
CB: Writing advice: Keep at it! Writing requires a lot of determination and perseverance. Use your setbacks to make you stronger. Rejection letters can often offer good advice to make you a better writer. Pushing ahead in seasons of dryness will strengthen your character. Learning the basics of the craft will make you more knowledgeable. One bit of non-writing related advice would be to enjoy the journey and not get distracted by whatever your end goal is. Life is short and we have to make the most of each day. I recently found myself in a situation where I’d taken on too much, and I was just miserable. All of the things I was doing would led me steps closer to where I wanted to be professionally, but it wasn’t worth it to feel so tired, lonely and overwhelmed.
JW: Thanks so much, Christy, for sharing with us. Folks, check out Hazardous Duty, a chick lit mystery that will keep you guessing…and laughing. And be watching for the sequel to be released from Kregel. I had a sneak peek at The Grim Sweeper, and it’s even better than its title. To learn more about Christy, check out her website at http://www.christybarritt.com/.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I adore first drafts. The whole wonder (there we go; it fits under the heading now) of creating new characters, seeing how they'll interact, watching new words and new worlds appear on your computer screen...I love, love, love it. So many possibilities, then there's the rush as you finish, and typing The End feels so great.
I dread extensive revisions. I'll do them. I know they're necessary sometimes. But the temptation is strong to either put it off or scrap it altogether and start something new.
So what do you do to find the discipline and right mind-set to chop your baby to pieces and sew it back together, confident that the stitches won't show and it'll be more beautiful than ever when you're done? Do you have a certain method you follow? Or a quote you tattoo on the back of your hands so you can see it when you type? A prayer you chant? Do you not allow yourself to eat chocolate until the whole things over and sent far away?
Please share your thoughts. And if you're one of those who love the revisions stage...well, I can send you my baby, okay? :-) Maybe we could start an assembly line...
Monday, November 26, 2007
I can't stop thinking about the sweet and desperate hope we have fixed on heaven, about our status here on earth as pilgrims and strangers. Stuff suddenly seems much more like... stuff. And I suddenly seem like I'm holding on to it all much too tightly.
Please pray for this family to our God who is great, and good, and infinitely wise. Beg His comfort and grace for them, and the abundant meeting of their physical needs. Pray for the restoration of their family pictures and keepsakes. Pray that we would all see eternally, with eyes of faith.
"For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen."
Sunday, November 25, 2007
One of my favorite things to do for a moment of rest is to have a cup of tea. Every now and then, it helps to make it a special one.
The little glass teapot above has a special hand-sewn flowering tea. It's made with white tea leaves, chrysanthemums, and silk. As hot water is poured over the tea ball, the leaves slowly blossom into this beautiful floral arrangement.
I love to share this with someone because they always enjoy the tiny show. Then we always enjoy a really good pot of tea. I think it's important to find moments like this to savor. What better way than over a special flowering tea? It's a small miraculous moment of unexpected joy.
If I could offer you anything today, I would offer you moments of unexpected joy.
You can visit Angie's daily blog over at:
God Uses Broken Vessels
Friday, November 23, 2007
and all through the house
not a child was stirring.
Not even my spouse.
I sat at the counter
and scanned through the ads
Hmmm. Did I dare?
Or was I raving mad?
I poured me some coffee
then wrote a quick list
the sales were too good--
I just couldn't resist!
I turned out the light
and slipped out the door
if I hurried, I'd make it
to Penneys by four.
When I got there, the lot
was already packed.
I was faced with the truth...
I really was quacked.
The people were pressed
at the entrance like rats
they pushed and they shoved,
There was nowhere to park
except miles away.
What on earth possessed me
to come shopping today?
Inside, no one greeted me
or gave me a smile,
clothes were strewn over
every visible aisle.
Employees were wide-eyed
and red-faced with stress
while shoppers grabbed items
like mad-men, obsessed.
I got stepped on and poked
as I pushed my way through
if I stayed in this lunacy
I'd leave black-and-blue!
I searched for the items
marked down on my list
NOT ONE was available?
I began to get pis--
But wait! One latte maker
sat alone on display.
YES! Maybe it would
be my lucky day!
I lunged and reached forward
took it right off the stand
and then someone snatched it
right out of my hand.
"OW!" A sharp elbow
jabbed the side of my head.
That's it! I turned on my heel
and I fled.
Well, as fast as I could
through that lunatic throng
I fought tears and pressed on.
I had to stay strong.
One hour later,
I burst through the doors
with nothing to show for my efforts
As I slowly limped back through the lot
to my van,
I came up with another,
much safer, plan.
Back home, my family
still snoozed in their beds,
while visions of elbows
still danced through my head.
After popping some asprin,
I sat down in my chair
and fired up the computer
to do my shopping from there.
The morn after Thanksgiving
was supposed to be fun
but instead it turned out
to be a dangerous one.
So what about you?
Did you dare to go out?
Or did you opt for computer,
the much SAFER route?
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
Already, I'm in awe of what God is doing inside me. There are moments of fear, of course, and moments of "oh my goodness, how in the world am I going to carry this baby to term and then raise it for the rest of its life?!?" but everyone assures me that's normal!
The most amazing and awe-inspiring part so far has been feeling the presence of Jesus stronger than I've felt in a long time. In the moments of stress, or pain, or fear, He is there. In the moments of peace, confidence, and trust, He is there. In the moments of sickness, of sleeplessness, of frustration, He is there. Anytime I allow worry to gain a foothold, I hear the voice of my Saviour clearly saying "It's okay. I've got this." And He does!
Even typing this I can't help but cry! Its been quite a journey already, and geez, I have 7+ months to go! =)
This holiday season, what brings you in awe of our Saviour? What is He doing in your life that makes your knees tremble and your spirit soar and your heart practically want to burst with praise and thanksgiving? What is He doing in your writing? For me, its been an adventure already, because my concentration is just GONE! I'm learning discipline with my writing and my word count goals, but I'm also learning grace and learning how to ease up on myself! What is He teaching you today?
This Thanksgiving, don't just focus on the turkey and the pumpkin pie and all those tasty treats (oh but by all means, dig in!) but also take the time to FEEL. To PRAISE. To WORSHIP.
To be in awe.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Mrs. Ranch is the winner! Congratulations!
Email us here at Writers' Rest: awritersrest (at) gmail (dot) com with your email address and we'll pass your information on to Mary DeMuth.
Please contact us by Monday to claim your prize, or we'll have to draw another winner. Thank you.
Thank you to everyone who participated. If you are interested in the 50 page tutorial, you can find it on Mary DeMuth's website. It's a great price for what's bound to be an excellent resource.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Top ten things I'm thankful for right now, in random order:
1) The kissable curve of my son's cheek. I'm addicted.
2) Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, cloves- they are the color, flavor and scent of fall. (Have you ever gotten the dust of spices on your hands and rubbed it between your fingers? They feel luxuriant - heavier than their weight. I can see why past civilizations traded spice as currency.)
3) God's favor- given without regard to desert, given wholly. I am the woman reaching out to touch the hem of his garment, desperate for mercy.
4) Nat King Cole- the Christmas Song album- audible chocolate.
5) The shape of trees when all the leaves fall off.
6) Imagination- the incubator of compassion and wonder. The furnace of curiosity. (Thank you, Father, for sharing Your imagination!)
7) The sparkle in my daughter's dark eyes when we make up stories together.
8) Thanksgiving leftovers.
9) God's gentle intervention in my short-sighted plans. He reminds me that He is wise and good, and He has eternal ends in mind.
10) Books, of course. Books, books, books. We are lavishly rich with them!
What about you??
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Today is the day for rest. Yes, there are things to do all day, every day. But did you carve out a little time to rest today? Rest your mind, your body, your emotions?
I made myself a latte with sugar-free peppermint/chocolate syrups. Sat down and finished a really cute book called, Hollywood Nobody. I'm reviewing it. (Loved it.)
What I loved? Sitting down to thoroughly enjoy a hot drink on a cold day with a good book. I think you should try it too sometimes. When it's all cloudy and wet or snowing out, it's the perfect day for a hot drink and a good book! (That photo above is my hometown on a rainy day.)
What other ideas would you like to share about resting your mind, body, and emotions?
Visit me daily over at God Uses Broken Vessels
or you can always contact me through www.angelabreidenbach.com
Friday, November 16, 2007
It may be time to recharge the creative battery. Step back from your work and give yourself permission to seek out a different outlet. Paint a picture. Make a card. Bead a necklace. Bake a pie. Color in a coloring book.
What you create doesn't matter and neither does the final project. Give yourself permission to experiment and play. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Touch your senses with colors, textures, smells, tastes and sounds.
When you come back to your work, you will have a fresh perspective and your sensory feast will reflect in your writing.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
On that note, let me introduce Donna Fleisher.
JW: Before we get into your whole writing career and life story, I have a question of utmost important to ask you. Who is your favorite—Hoops or Yoyo?
DF: I don’t even know which is which, but I don’t think they one would be near as funny without the other. They seem to feed off each other. Actually, I think Hoops is the more dominant one. Which probably means I like Yoyo better.
JW: Rooting for the underdog, eh? That sounds like you. (Side note: If you don’t know who Hoops and Yoyo are, you are very deprived. Contact me, and I’ll send you an e-card.)
JW: Next question is the standard one. How did you get into writing? Did you always want to be a writer, or did it just kind of come like a little light bulb on that brilliant head of yours?
DF: I didn’t always want to be a writer. I never even considered writing until 1996. Suddenly I realized a few things: First, I need to read. Second, no novel out there will satisfy my unbelievably picky, pathetically narrow, absurdly demanding taste. Third, if I want to read a novel that will satisfy my taste, I need to write it. Fourth, if I don't write it, I'll burst. Fifth, what bad thing would happen if I gave it a try? I mean, would the sky fall? Would the ocean dry up and blow away? Would life as the world knew it grind to a halt just because this bored aired-out little Christian girl living by the beach wanted to write a novel? This was my main thought: It'll be fun!!!! Oh, man, I had no idea.
JW: And for the rest of her amazing writing story, check out The Entire Adventure on her blog at http://www.donnafleisher.com/. Because this woman’s long-winded and I ain’t gonna post the entire 500 or so pages here. Instead, why don’t you tell me about the latest project you’re working on.
DF: The latest project I've completed is a six-hour course on either CD or cassette on "Bringing Fiction to Life: On writing powerful Christian fiction." I'm so jazzed about it, cuz it'll make my job as freelance editor soooo much easier. And I can (hopefully) sell it on-line and at conferences and such.
JW: Speaking of editing…I heard you're taking down your writing shingle for now and replacing it with a bigger one for your editing business. Any comments?
DW: Yep, you've heard right. For now the writing shingle is tucked away in my attic. Well, actually, it isn't, cuz I don't have an attic. Let's just say it's safely in storage. When (probably not if) that time comes when another story idea starts to work inside me (sorta like a bean burrito would ... no, actually, not like that at all), I'll be ready to pull that shingle back out of storage and let it fly once more. (Do shingles fly?) Until then, I'm totally excited about the opportunity to work with new novelists. There seems to be oodles of them out there.
JW: Well, if I could, I’d send them all your way. Everyone, she does a fantastic job. There. I put a plug in for ya. Maybe that means you’ll send me your newest book. LOL. Speaking of Standing Strong, this is the last book in the Homeland Heroes. You couldn’t decide which character was your favorite. Do you have a favorite book in the series?
DW: Ouch! Do I really have to choose? Well, okay...Warrior's Heart. That one was my problem child. So to speak. But it came together and I think it worked. No, actually, I'd have to say Wounded Healer,cuz that's the one that I brooded over for so long. (Thanks to Nick Harrison for the b-word.) Well, no, probably not Wounded Healer, cuz Valiant Hope was a special book to write, especially when Margaret Becker allowed me to use her amazing song "Who Am I?" at the end. But, then again, Standing Strong does wrap everything up, and I am fond of the epilogue at the end. So I'd have to say...I can't decide. Sorry, lady.
JW: Well, we tried. How about some easier favorites? Food, hobby, book, verse…whatever.
DF: Ahh, let's see. Food? Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Skippers. And whatever my brother is grilling at the time. Hobby? Beachcombing, especially for sand dollars. Author? Camy Tang. Susie Larson. Book? Okay, I'm helpless. I don't read enough to have a favorite. If I could be totally honest without coming across as pious ... I'd say the book of Hebrews. That's one book I could read over and over. Growing up, my favorite book was the Sears Christmas Wishbook.
JW: Ha! Me, too. Here’s my last question: Give us some random advice. Writing-related and otherwise.
DF: Bits of random advice. Hmm. Writing related: As you're typing, make sure the Insert button hasn't been pushed. In other words, try not to delete what you've previously written with every keystroke of new material you're typing in. Hey, been there, done that. And it ain't pretty. Not writing related: Take time for a walk on the beach. Let the sand squish up between your toes. Breathe deep of the lush, fresh, ocean breezes.
JW: Thanks, Donna, for sharing. And thank you for all you’ve taught me, for your encouragement and humor and example. And most of all, for your friendship. I am so thankful that our paths have crossed. Hopefully someday they’ll cross in person.
To learn more about Donna or to contact her (for her editing services!!), check out her website at http://www.donnafleisher.com/. She is the author of the Homeland Heroes series: Wounded Healer, Warrior’s Heart, Valiant Hope, and just released, Standing Strong.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
W - WORDS - Duh, right? Words are definitely a huge part of my writing world. Without them, I would be out of this world...groan... But, you know? We writers LOVE words. Play on words, word phrasing, definition, crossword puzzles, word searches, Text Twist, Letter Linker, Book Worm (yes, I am a Gamehouse.com junkie!). But I suppose that because words are so much a part of my life, I'd better love them.
More importantly, I love to dig into THE WORD, which gives me strength, encouragement and hope every day - particularly on those difficult days when I wonder if I should banish words altogether from my world.
O - ORIGINALITY - This basically translates into creativity. Is my writing fresh and original? Or does it feel stale and blah? Story formulas may have the same components but am I adding them to the mix in a way that's not been done before? Or does my story sound a little too much like the author's I read last week? Creative ideas are everywhere. This is my absolute favorite part of my writing world.
N - NETWORKING - Let's face it; in today's world, writers need to network. Personally, I think it's fun! Introducing myself to other authors, commenting on agent's and editor's blogs, joining groups and loops, getting my name out there so when my book does come out, people will say, "I've heard that name before!" And guess what? You may not realize it, but I'm networking right now. hee hee...sometimes you've got to be sneaky about these things...
D - DISCIPLINE - I may love words, but this is my least favorite one. Probably because I am so NOT. Forcing myself to sit in a chair and just write is painful for me. Once I'm there, I'm fine. Time slips away and I crank out those pages. But getting there...that's the biggie. Especially when I'm taunted by laundry, emails, blogs, computer games and reality TV. So I may have to work extra hard to keep discipline a part of my writing world, but it'll be worth the effort.
E - EDITS - Sigh. What would my writing life be without edits? Um...one big mess of grammatical errors and plot holes? Pretty much. Not to mention my published writing life would be non-existent. Yes, editing is a part of the writing life, like it or not. But what a feeling when you see the results of those changes. It's like taking a wrinkled shirt from the dryer and running a hot iron over it. Presto! The haphazardness has been transformed into sleek and put-together. I wouldn't wear a wrinkled shirt any more than I would send out a non-edited piece of work.
Okay...I better stop here. All this talk about ironing is bringing on thoughts of attacking that huge pile in my laundry room. And we all know about my battle with discipline...
R - RESEARCH - My second least favorite word. Some authors love research but I'm not one of them. I'd rather stick with the creative part of writing. But that isn't realistic. Even in the most fluffy of fiction, there is bound to be some research required. In my current WIP, I have done research on South Haven, Michigan, music of the eighties, civil suits, day spas, and much more. If I want my readers to believe what I'm telling them, I'll need to do the research. There's no way around it. Bleh.
S - SLEEP - Sleeping on the job? I see those fingers wagging. But it's true! I find I do my best writing when I'm well-rested and refreshed. I get up very early (before 4:00 this morning) and do my best writing then. If I try to come up with something when I'm tired and irritable, frankly, my work stinks. And then I have to go back to the edit part of my world a little more frequently. The more polished my work is up front, the less time I'll need to spend on editing, and the faster my book will be on its way to that agent.
Sometimes my manuscript could also use some sleep. Setting it aside for a few days is often the wisest thing to do. Or sometimes putting it to sleep is even better. Some things I've written were born for the shredder or a dark and lonely file drawer. Shudder.
So what about you? What words would you use to describe your writing life?
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Our friend Mary DeMuth has some great advice on writing that non-fiction book proposal, and you can even get it free! Just leave your name in a comment on this post from today until next Monday. Then we'll draw the names and announce the winner on Tuesday!
Nonfiction Book Proposals that Grab an Editor or an Agent by the throat (in a good way)! Have you been languishing in the frustrating land of nonfiction proposals? Don't know where to go next? In this fifty-page tutorial, Mary walks you through two proposals and empowers you to write one that sells. Terry Glaspey, Director of Acquisitions and Development for Harvest House Publishers says this about Mary's proposals: "Mary knows how to write a proposal that gets an editor's attention: well-organized, persuasive, and with the information I need to make a decision." Interested? Cost is $10 bucks.
Are you ready to write a nonfiction proposal
that grabs attention?
First things first: You need to know a few things before you start.
1. Know your passion. I’ve alluded to this earlier. A good book proposal emerges from a passionate idea. Examine yourself. Think about the topics you get passionate about when you talk to folks. Talk to others who know you well. Share your book idea and see if they catch your passion for it. It’s a huge undertaking to write a proposal, so be sure you have the passion to carry an entire book.
2. Know your book. What genre is your book? Where it would be shelved in a bookstore? How well do you know what the book will be about? Do you have access to good research, great interviews? How unique is your book? Will a pub board find it unique?
3. Know your immediate audience. The first audience of your proposal is actually the agent or publisher you’re querying. Find out everything you can about the agent or publisher. Do they specialize in the genre you’re writing? Do they take new authors? How many? Have you attended a writer’s conference and spoken directly to the editor or agent? What kinds of books are they looking for? Purchasing a market guide is a great first step. Analyzing books already represented or published is another great step. (If an agent already represents three mom authors, chances are he/she won’t want to take on another mom author.)
4. Know the bookselling industry. Do you know what is selling in the industry? What has oversold? What trends are up and coming? Go to bookstores and walk the aisles, sign up for newsletters and updates from the publishing industry, go to conferences, talk to booksellers. It’s absolutely imperative that you know what you’re getting into before you embark on this journey.
5. Know yourself. Writing a proposal is the first step in a very long journey. Do you have what it takes to count the cost of bringing a book to fruition? Can you take constructive criticism? Do you have the time it takes to not only write the book, but to edit it in a timely manner and promote it when it releases? Do you have a critique group to support and help you through the process? Author Jan Winebrenner says publishing a book “is like giving birth to an elephant—only more painful.” Are you ready for that?
Excerpted from Nonfiction Book Proposals that Grab and Editor or an Agent by the Throat (in a good way!) by Mary E. DeMuth. You can purchase the download here: http://www.maryedemuth.com/store.php
Mary E. DeMuth helps people to turn their trials into triumphs. An expert in Pioneer Parenting, Mary enables Christian parents to navigate our changing culture when their families left no good faith examples to follow. Her parenting books include Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (Harvest House, 2007), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), and Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005). Mary also inspires people to face their trials through her real-to-life novels, including Watching the Tree Limbs (nominated for a Christy Award) and Wishing on Dandelions (NavPress, 2006). A pioneer parent herself, Mary and her husband, Patrick, reside in Texas with their three children. They recently returned from breaking new spiritual ground in Southern France, where they planted a church. You can find her on the web here:
COMMENTS ARE CLOSED. WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED TOMORROW (TUESDAY)
Monday, November 12, 2007
Moses did as he was told, and God took the plan from there. Pharaoh sent all his horses, horsemen and troops to overtake the Israelites. The Israelites were stuck between Pharaoh’s army and the sea – and neither option looked good. They immediately began to whine at Moses, demanding to know why he’d brought them out into the desert to die and claiming they had wanted to stay in Egypt as slaves. “It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” they cried (Exodus 14:12b).
Then Moses gave an incredible answer: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:13-14).
What happened next? God told Moses to hold his staff out over the sea, so Moses did. The Lord drove the sea back with a mighty wind and dried the ground so the Israelites could cross in safety.
Not exactly the answer the people had expected, but it sure did work! And God definitely showed everyone exactly Who He was and what kind of power He had.
I wonder how hard it was for the Israelites to stand there, watching Pharaoh’s army bear down upon them and wondering what in the world was going to happen next. Did they have enough trust in Moses yet to believe the message he passed on, or did they still tremble in their sandals? Then when the wind came and the sea parted, did they nearly collapse in shock, or did they jump for joy? And how did it feel to walk through two tremendous walls of water that you knew were only being held in place because of God’s hand?
Lots of questions, and lots of lessons to be learned. But how does it all relate to writing? In quite a few ways, when I’m honest with myself.
I write because I believe God has called me to, just as He called the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. It looks like a grand thing and I’m excited about doing it, but sometimes my excitement can get in the way. I want to plot and plan and whip out things to submit. I love an idea and can hardly wait to put in on paper and share it with someone. I hope and pray for acceptance instead of rejection, and do whatever I can to “help” the process along.
But maybe that’s not my job sometimes. Maybe my job is to listen for God’s voice and just stand still. Stop worrying about plot points or character bios or how to write for a particular publisher. Stop wondering if I’ll ever need an agent and who that person might be. Stop trying to plan it all myself. Wait for God to take over.
Of course, sometimes I fall to the other extreme, and want to stop when God wants me to go on. I get discouraged when someone rejects an article or query, or when a reader gives me comments that aren’t what I’d hoped for. I let writer’s block get the best of me or let other things take away my writing time.
For whatever reason I find myself there, I need to turn away from the army that’s bearing down and look at the open, dry ground instead. I need to remember that if God has called me to this, then it is my job to follow His direction and do the best I can with the gifts He has given me. No matter how many rejections or disappointments I might face, God has laid out a path for me to follow – straight through the seemingly impossible obstacles and on to the version of the Promised Land He has for me.
I don’t know exactly what’s there or when I’ll arrive, other than it will be just the way God wants it. The God who has the power to move heaven and earth is the same God who will see me through. I just have to be still – and then follow.
What kinds of writing obstacles are in your way this week? Are you stuck between the army and the sea, wondering what to do or which way God wants you to go? We’re here to encourage and uplift each other, and consider it a privilege to pray for each other. Share your requests with us in the comments section, and know you’ll be in our prayers this week.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
I went to Virginia City, MT this summer several times to see my son perform with the Virginia City Players. I found myself completely fascinated with the town and all the restoration happening.
All the buildings have been "rescued" from other spots around Montana in order to preserve the Old West history of the state.
Walking around the picturesque area spurred idea after idea for books, stories, and fun mental meanderings.
I realized that I'd walked miles and miles over the weekend and never once felt tired. I lost track of time and place. It was rest based on fascination of the old buildings, the people who'd once lived in them, and the laughter at the shows.
I thoroughly enjoyed exploring this little corner of Montana.
What fascinates you so much that you don't feel the passage of time or effort?
May God bless you with curiousity and fascination,
PS Please come visit my personal blog over at:
Saturday, November 10, 2007
On Fridays I volunteer down at Bermuda Riding for the Disabled. Yesterday, one of our little girls had a seizure. We had to call 911 and it was pretty scary for a moment. She was okay, but as her mom pulled up and raced out of the car, I caught her look of sheer terror. I can't imagine what that feels like.
I've been so blessed to have healthy children. The struggles we've faced have been minor compared to what the parents of this little girl and others like her have to cope with on a daily basis.
And I know this is a writing blog, but many of us writers have children, so it's all related, right?
Anyway, on to my children... I have two. My daughter is almost eighteen and she's in college, and I miss her terribly! My son is fourteen and is here at home.
I've truly been blessed. Raising children is NOT easy. Those of you who are parents know what I'm talking about. Those of you thinking about becoming parents...trust me, you have no idea what you're in for.
Looking back, I can now remember the sleepless nights, temper tantrums, shouting matches and enforced time outs with a smile.
We're not done yet - fourteen year-olds are still a handful! But we've come a long way from the day we brought our babies home from the hospital.
Oh, I thought I was going to be the best mother in the world. Really, I did. It was going to be a piece of cake!
However, with eighteen years of experience under my belt here's what I've learned:
There is no such thing as a diaper that does not smell.
There is actually NOT a written rule that says Husbands are not allowed to change diapers.
Sleep is overrated.
Children really do have a variety of cries. A tired cry, a hungry cry, a sick cry, a HELP! cry, and the cry that means absolutely nothing - they're doing it just to annoy you. (This usually happens in church, the grocery store and the mall. Oh, and at your in-laws house).
The world will not stop revolving if I say NO.
My child will not die if I say NO.
Never utter a threat you cannot or do not intend to follow through with, such as - "You're grounded forever!"
Grandparents have it way too easy and enjoy watching you suffer.
Washable markers are not washable.
Vomit stinks. I don't care who it comes from. It stinks. Always has, always will.
The best feeling in the world is my child's hug.
The best sound in the world - "I love you, Mommy."
If someone hurts my child, all reason and manner of rational thinking cease to exist.
My children are not perfect.
My parenting skills are not perfect.
Teenagers are your parents revenge.
I cannot protect my children from the world, but I can teach them how to live in it.
Prayer is the most powerful weapon I have to protect my children with.
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
So can my children.
Lord Jesus, I'm so thankful for the precious gift of healthy and happy children. I pray for all the moms and dads out
there who struggle, and I rejoice with them because they are not alone. You are there, Father, helping us every step of
the way. After all, our children are not really ours, they're Yours.
Protect them from evil, bless them with joy, and reveal Yourself to them in Your time.
Amen. Happy Saturday. Go give your kids a hug and tell them how much you love them.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Do you have any idea how many different notebooks I have to jot down ideas in? A little one for my handbag, one for my backpack, one (or six) by the bed, one under the couch, and a journal in the car. Keep in mind most of these are half-empty, randomly jotted with . . .whatever. The notebook are populated with mental riffraff, all trying to bring down the "Establishment"through sheer disorganization. If these notebooks are any indication of what's going on inside my brain, we're all in trouble. I have to go back through them and drag in for questioning all the rebels that may have info on my current WIP. So far they have tried to confuse me with conflicting plot points, character motivations and bits of scene that have no home. (I'd love to hear your composting stories. What do you all do in the pre-writing stage?)
I'm having fun, though. I'm turning into quite the interrogator.
The surprising thing was, interspersed throughout my recalcitrant ramblings, I found these little gems gathered from people I really need to be listening to. So here it is, the point of my post:
It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, but why he does it. -A.W. Tozer
What makes one story more "finished"--more "real" and "alive"-- than another is not a matter of adjectives per sentence, it is the accuracy and relevance of whatever description you do use. -Monica Wood (Description)
The stories that astonish us, the characters that live forever in our memories--those are the result of rich imagination, perceptive observation, rigorous interrogation, and careful decision-making. When it comes to storytelling, invention is the mother of astonishment, delight and truth. -Orson Scott Card (Characters & Viewpoint)
When we see a natural style, we are quite amazed and delighted, because we expected to see an author and find a man. -Blaise Pascal
...What (we remember) would turn out itself to be a remembering. The books or the music in which we though the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things--the beauty, the memory of our own past--are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself, they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshipers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. -C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)
Feel free to share more wisdom in the comments section. I have plenty of room in my notebooks. :)
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Readers have come to love the eccentric characters from Skary, Indiana, in Rene Gutteridge’s popular Boo! series. Now, in Boo, Humbug! they’re back – and they’re stirring up a large amount of holiday havoc!It’s Christmastime in Skary, and the town is planning an original production of A Christmas Carol with a horror spin.
As showtime approaches, things go very awry for director Lois Stepaphanopolis. She panics when she discovers that her marketing director loathes Christmas and that the audience has been promised not Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but the real Christmas story. Can the actors pull off the improv of all improvs and convince their community to embrace the true meaning of the Christmas season? Boo, Humbug! offers readers a delightful glimpse into small town, community life with heartwarming humor and winsome characters. And in the end, the true meaning of Christmas shines out bright and clear, in a decidedly un-Skary way.
My review: When I first saw that Boo, Humbug! was coming out, I screamed. Literally. Rene's BOO series are one of my favorite series of all time. Not only is Rene a talented author, she's hilarious! Rene brings romantic comedy to an entirely new level of fun. The townsmembers of Skary will live in your heart long after you close the book. They're fresh, real, vibrant...I feel honored to have been a short part of their lives! =)
Boo, Humbug! was charmingly witty and the perfect wrap-up to a delightful series. I read this book in one evening while curled up on the couch with a blanket, a Diet Coke, and a whole warm case of Christmas fuzzies. If you haven't met Wolfe, Ainsley, Melb, Oliver, Marty, and the whole gang - what in Skary are you waiting for??? =)
Even better - take it a step further, and grace someone's Christmas tree with a whole pile of BOO books...Boo, Boo Who, Boo Hiss, and now, finally - Boo, Humbug!
Rene Gutteridge is the author of 10 novels, including the Boo series, the Storm series, The Occupational Hazards series and My Life as a Doormat, a Women of Faith selection for 2006. She has been published over 30 times as a playwright, and holds a degree in screenwriting, graduating magna cum laude from Oklahoma State University . Rene is married to Sean, a musician, and they have two young children. They make their home in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma .
To purchase your own copy of holiday fun, click here!
Or better yet, I'm doing a giveaway of THREE copies of this fantastic story! To enter the drawing, simply leave a comment on this blog or on the same review blog on http://www.betsy-ann.blogspot.com/ with your favorite Christmas tradition!
*Drawing will be held Friday, November 9th.*
Genesis chapter 28 tells of Jacob leaving his family to travel to Paddan Aram in search of a wife. One night during that journey, he dreamed of a staircase resting on earth and stretching up to heaven, with angels ascending and descending on it. The Lord stood above the staircase, and spoke to Jacob: He confirmed that He was the God of Abraham and Isaac and that He would go with Jacob and watch over him. “I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you,” God said (Genesis 28:15b).
The next verse says that when Jacob awoke, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”
How many times are we the same way? I’m often guilty of zooming through my days without paying as close attention to things as I should. I’m too worried about getting the kids on the bus ... running all my errands ... figuring out a way past writer’s block ... knocking out a deadline.
So today, for Wednesday Wonders, let’s look beneath the surface. In what ways is God around you, even when you’re not aware of it?
Here are a few from my corner of the world:
-- The leaves on the maple trees in our neighborhood as they change from green to goldish to flaming red
-- When my children wake up on their own in happy moods instead of grumpy because I’ve had to pull them from sweet dreams
-- The breeze that whispers against my face
-- The increase in my productivity when I ask Him to guide my writing
-- That extra ounce of patience that miraculously surfaces when I’m at the end of my rope
-- The song on the radio that has exactly the message I need to hear
God is all around us every day, in big and small ways. Take time to look for Him in places you might not ordinarily think of Him being – and you’ll find Him there.
Thank you, Lord, for blessing us with your presence even when we don’t realize it. Open our eyes and hearts in new ways to see you all around us – wherever we are and whatever we’re doing. Help us be aware of your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
But wait a minute.
What about those who don't win? Or don't final? Are they receiving confirmation too? Confirmation from God that they should throw in the towel, send their WIP's to the recycle bin and sell their ninety-four writing reference books on eBay?
I don't think so.
And I'm not just saying that because I just found out I placed fourth out of four finalists in a recent chick lit contest. Trust me - for about an hour after I got the news, I seriously considered the aforementioned options. I honestly thought I had a chance at taking first place. And when I learned I didn't, I was devastated.
But, as a few beloved friends reminded me, contests are subjective. And judges are human too (which I was really relieved to hear because if a four-legged animal scored my entry dead last, it may just have pushed me over the edge).
After entertaining thoughts of quitting for good, I have decided to keep plugging away at my manuscript. For two reasons.
One: I like the story. Yes, it needs work. It needs revision. But I like my style and my voice. I really think it has a place...somewhere...in Christian publishing. In fact, the judging agent requested the full manuscript (which brings me to a whole other topic of WAY differing opinions from two judges reading the same manuscript. That's for another day). But I am trying to keep reminding myself that there are other people besides my mom and me who really do like my story.
Two: God wants me to. And I don't say that glibly. I truly believe writing is one of my callings in life and I am determined to follow it. Regardless of how my manuscript placed in this contest. (And in case you're wondering, yes, I really am thankful I finalled at all, even though it doesn't seem like it at the moment).
The thing I'm taking away from this experience is not only a tougher skin - which is mandatory in this business. I'm also developing a more tender heart. Tender to what God is trying to teach me. Maybe it's something technical about my writing itself. Maybe it's just to simply trust that He knows what's best for me. And winning wouldn't be it this time.
There is a time to win and a time to be humbled. And neither affects our God-given purpose.
Yes, winning would have been nice. But God has a purpose for my writing, regardless. And my heart confirms it.
So what about you? Has winning (or not winning) a contest changed your perspective? If you came in dead last, would you still believe God has a purpose for your writing or would you be tempted to give up on your dream?
Monday, November 5, 2007
What day is it, again? J/k. =P
At first, I found it difficult to find the balance needed between disciplining myself to work and meeting my goals, and at the same time keeping myself distant enough from it to enjoy life in the meantime! For example, one Saturday I couldn't decide if I would attend my friend's family fall party as I had the past several years in a row because of these revisions. I hemmed and hawwed and finally decided to keep my commitment to my friend. I worked on the revisions that morning, and went with her in the afternoon. The time away from my computer was very refreshing and the time with my friend priceless. The next day I was fresh and ready to start again!
So it was a bit of a struggle, and a seemingly endless project. Incorporating one idea inspired another, which brought to mind a NEW motivation and a NEW conflict and a NEW layer...and on and on it went until I was afraid this MS would be 1,000,000 words!
But this past week, as I continued to make change after change, and "played dominos with my WIP" (you know, because one scene-change affects another which affects another, like a domino effect?) I realized that I was making it much harder than it needed to be. Yes, discipline was necessary and without it, I would have never met my goals as I did. But instead of locking myself in my office and denying all forms of Diet Coke until I reached a certain word count, I branched out a little.
For instance, one recent afternoon I went with my husband, sister, and my parents to the zoo in a Texas town about 2 hours away. My sweet father brought along his lap top, so guess who revised during the drive there and back? =) I found I was able participate in the family fun and jokes in the car, as well as make progress on my chapters.
Better yet, the change of scenery really inspired my creativity!
So don't make your mission more impossible than it needs to be! If you find yourself facing a huge project or deadline (from yourself or from someone else!) set goals, but don't forget to also set time to play. Reward yourself, but don't deny yourself. Try something new if you get stuck and see if that unlocks the gate of creativity!
And just remember, NOTHING is impossible with our Lord. No deadline, no revision, no story that seems to never end is too difficult for our God to help us with. He's there, waiting to guide us and give us the right words if we simply remember to ask.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
I watch funny movies, go hiking, play games with my family. I'll also go to live theater, read a book, or do synchronized swimming. Okay, I have to admit that blogging is play for me too, lol. Recently, my kids taught me how to folf. (Up in Montana, there are several mountain frisbie golf courses. We call it folfing.)
Have you tried archery? It's amazing for creating a single-minded focus. It's me and the bullseye. I can't think of anything else. I kid you not, after archery, I feel like I've had a good night's sleep. Like my son says when he rock climbs, "All my worries fall away because it is me and the rock." (As long as it's his worries and not him falling.)
Some play is active and some is passive. There's purpose in both.
How do you play? What refreshes you? (Sometime I'll post about the benefits of getting a therapeutic massage.)
If you don't play regularly (not talking about being lazy here) what could you do today to experience rest through joyful release of tension? How will you let your cares fall away?
Wishing you a wonderful playday,
Friday, November 2, 2007
What kind of writing-related gift would you like someone to give you this year? A laptop? Alphasmart? Stock in Mead because of all those little notebooks you carry everywhere? Some people – like my mom – are industrious enough to already be asking for wish-list ideas. What are you going to tell them?
My answer will have to be the same as last year: a weekend away to write. Now I’m not talking about any ordinary weekend when I also pack for my husband and kids. I’m talking about a weekend when I go away by myself to write. The “by myself” part is the key for me – time alone, away from the everyday distractions of laundry, cooking, chauffeuring, phone calls, “real” work, and everything else that fills my days. No matter how well-intentioned my family might be when I set aside time to write, something always comes up that needs Mama’s attention. That would be why so much of my writing happens in the middle of the night, when everyone else is asleep and I can finally have some uninterrupted time … until my daughter begins sleepwalking. Sigh.
So last Christmas I asked for a weekend away. I didn’t get it until February, but that was OK – I knew it was coming, and I planned for and prayed about it for weeks! I left on Friday after taking our daughter from preschool to my parents’ house. Then I headed to a bed and breakfast about an hour away. I worked on my WIP, wrote copy for a new website I wanted to launch for girls, planned out talks for a half-day women’s retreat I was leading later that month. I spent time on Bible study homework, I prayed, I relaxed, I talked to and listened for God. It was one of the most rewarding and refreshing times I’ve ever had. I returned home Sunday afternoon with a real sense of accomplishment and with joy.
Now it’s your turn. Whether you want to share something realistic or shoot beyond the stars, what would you love to find at Christmas that would help your writing? Dream on, and enjoy this beautiful day God has blessed you with!
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Anyway. Since I was so busy making soup and trying to figure out my blogger password, there's no interview for the day. But we do have several authors lined up that we're excited about--Deb Raney, Tosca Lee, Susan May Warren, Sharon Hinck, Christy Barritt... As we get this blog up and running, is there anyone YOU want to hear from, or any books you'd like for us to review? Let us know, and we'll see what we can arrange. Meanwhile, have a blest day!