Sunday, July 26, 2009

Recovery-how long does it take?

In the beginning...I unpacked in the first hotel room getting ready to compete for Mrs. International. Little did I know how much energy it would take to get through the week!

We had early mornings and some late nights. Lots of rehearsing a dance number and meeting new people. We had personal appearances, interviews and a constant sense of stretching. I had a wonderful week in Chicago even though, no, I didn't win.

Behind the scenes: my feet hurt like crazy! Living on someone else's schedule is hard. I had to switch rooms mid-week when my hubby came. Learning new things outside of my experience kept me in constant fascination but also in constant awareness. That in itself draws on energy supplies.

Back at home, I thought it would take a day or two to reacclimatize to my regular schedule. Oh was I wrong!

Although playing with my grandson brought my head and heart right back to reality and how much my family means to me! His smile is so sunny, his joy chasing my exercise ball and just hugging him infuses me with energy.

Today, almost a week later, I'm feeling a bit more back to normal. I started thinking about why it took almost as long to recover as it did to compete. It was the lack of private recovery time. I'm a huge people-person. But one thing I do back at home is take private time to recharge. So home is a very quiet, peaceful place.

Ah, the energy. One week of constant, non-stop "up" energy. It's totally me, no problem, to visit and enjoy all the people I love meeting. The normal daily life allows time away, time to think, time to sleep! But it also allows down time away from people. No matter how much we love others, we still need our time to refuel and refresh. One week of solid drawing on those reserves depletes them completely. Not because it isn't fun or exciting, but because anytime you deal in non-stop people-it takes a different kind of mental energy.

When you are feeling drained, I'd like to suggest getting away by yourself and refilling your energy reserves with quiet, private time.

PS Please come visit and see the jewelry that helps support the Sanctuary of Hope orphan homes in Kenya.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tamela Hancock Murray, author of Love Finds You In Maiden North Carolina

By Molly Noble Bull

Today I am interviewing Tamela Hancock Murray—a fellow author and friend and a literary agent. In fact, she is my literary agent. Tamela, tell us about all your published novels as well as your upcoming novels and please include your web address.

Thank you, Molly. I am very appreciative of the chance to be here with you today, and am honored to represent you!
As for my novels, I love to write romance. One of my latest books is LOVE FINDS YOU IN MAIDEN, NORTH CAROLINA, released by Summerside Press. Set in the 1920s, this is the story of a maiden with a secret. I love the fact that this story has a happy ending for everyone. To research, my family and I visited Maiden. We enjoyed our time in such a lovely town.
I am also excited about my current release from Heartsong Presents, THE MASTER’S MATCH. This rags-to-riches historical was a lot of fun to write. I enjoyed watching my heroine grow from a little match girl into a fine lady.
I have many other releases, including a few Bible trivia books. Find out more about them at

Great. Now tell us who Tamela Hancock Murray is when she isn’t writing and promoting books. What are your hobbies? Likes? Dislikes? And tells us as much about your family as you feel comfortable telling.

As you can imagine, I’m an avid reader. I often read books I know I’ll disagree with just to challenge myself. However, I enjoy uplifting fiction.
I love coffee, but for some reason I can’t eat – or even smell – beets. If you love beets, please don’t write us letters of protest! (laughing)
As for family life, I am blessed that my husband doesn’t need to travel much for his job so we enjoy our evenings together. We try to hit the gym a couple of times a week, although I don’t work out as hard as I should! We still have a teenager at home. She’s a lot of fun. Our eldest daughter just graduated cum laude from my alma mater in Virginia, Lynchburg College, and she plans to go to South Korea to teach.

How do your religious beliefs affect your writing?

My religious beliefs permeate my writing because they affect my life. My faith in God and His Son, Jesus Christ, is so much a part of me that my worldview is evident in my prose even when I’m not writing about my faith.

Will your future books be historical novels? If not, what other kinds of books can we expect from you?

My next story, Courage of the Heart, takes place during the War Between the States. It will appear in a collection titled A BLUE AND GRAY CHRISTMAS from Barbour Publishing.

Thanks for sharing with us this month, Tamela. Come back soon. To find Tamela’s books at online bookstores, write Tamela Hancock Murray in the search slot.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

God has perfectly qualified you

It is worth remembering-You are perfectly created to be the person God created you to be. Notice what I did not say there, you are not fully equipped but you are perfectly created.

If you look in Ephesians 4, Paul starts by giving a charge to believers:

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” [Eph 4:1, NIV]

This is a verse we’ve read often enough for it to have very little meaning to most people. Okay, I’ll live a life worthy of my call. What does that mean exactly?

Here is how the Amplified says it.

“1I THEREFORE, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to and beg you to walk (lead a life) worthy of the [divine] calling to which you have been called [with behavior that is a credit to the summons to God's service,…” [Ephesians 4:1, AMP]

This is a little deeper. We are urged to have behavior that makes God look good. We need to practice what we preach. We shouldn’t be judgmental hypocrites going about judging people and living by grace.

I think the Message Bible really gets to the heart of what God is saying to us through the Apostle Paul:

“1-3In light of all this, here's what I want you to do. While I'm locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.” [Ephesians 4:1-3, Message Bible]

Look at that urging. We are told to walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called us to travel. What road is that? Well, we are told to spend time in God’s presence, not in a religious way but talking to a friend. God loves us just as our spouse or best friend loves us. He wants to know about what is on our mind. He want us to take the time to hear what is on His mind.

But—and this is where many writers miss it—once we know what He has to say about it we are to RUN! Most writers I know are barely walking. They read a novel then spend 2 hours a week REALLY writing and wonder why they aren’t published in a year. That is not the road God called us to.

The other thing we do is constantly question our call. It is good and right to pursue God’s will for our life, but many writers are simply stalling. When I prayed and asked God if I should go to college I didn’t wake up every day and ask if I should go to class. I didn’t say “God, would you rather me pray for 3 hours instead of do my homework?” No, I did all that was necessary to become an excellent student. God honored that with many awards, scholarships and honors.

Likewise, when I became pregnant with our first child I didn’t ask Him every day “God, do you still want me to be a mom today?”

It would seem ridiculous to most people for me to feel I needed to ask God if he wanted me to feed and nurture my kids. It is clear in scripture that God calls me to be a loving mom and to set a good example for my kids. Furthermore, it is clear that I am to teach them and care for them. There are specific issues I ask Him for guidance on, but I know I am called to be a mom. I know how to do it because God laid it out in His word.

The same is true of your call to be a writer. Once you know that is a calling you need to pursue it with all gusto. You shouldn’t turn in substandard work and say “But God gave me this story. You MUST publish it.” You wouldn’t allow a doctor to cut in to you simply because “God called them to be a doctor.” [Having had surgery last week that has a DOUBLE Amen coming from me today!!]

Why am I beating up on you today? Truly, I’m not. What has inspired me is the amount of reading I’ve done recently on highly successful people. The people who excel do it because they become obsessed. That is where we need to get. We are taking God’s call to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you” as an excuse to do sloppy work. We say “I was too busy seeking God. I didn’t have time to do a good job.”

If we are seeking God first in all we do it means He is the first one we seek. Once we’ve sought Him we honor Him by doing Ephesians 4. Or we honor Him by doing Habakkuk 2:2 “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.” God calls us to make it plain.

God calls us to honor Him with our work. God calls us to seek Him for our call, then work by the sweat of our brow and He’ll “give us all these things besides”.

The Christian life is one of activity. Even in the land of perfection [Eden] God gave Adam and Eve jobs. Each of us has a call on our lives and in those calls are God’s provision and fulfillment.

This week let’s all make progress rather than excuses. That includes me.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fun with Dialogue

Posted by Eileen Astels

One of the reasons I love writing dialogue is because I as the writer have time to ponder great one-liners for my characters. In real life, there are many times I walk away from a conversation and stomp my foot thinking, oh, why didn't I think to say such'n'such instead? What a lost opportunity. Then I sigh and mope for a little longer wishing time could be reversed for just a little bit.

Well, fellow writers, our characters never need mess up their words again, unless of course we want them to [wink wink-- we can be so devious, can't we.] Revisions are on our character's side, so next time you're in edit mode with your story, take a good look at your dialogue and ask yourself these four questions about each line. (Yes, I said each line. There are no shortcuts to good writing.)

These questions come courtesy of James N. Frey via How to Write A Damn Good Novel.

  1. Is it in conflict?
  2. Is it trite?
  3. Can it be said better indirectly?
  4. Is the line as clever and colorful as it can be?

But remember, as you answer these four questions you must stay true to who your character is. Make sure that the dialogue, as clever and colorful as it may be, reveals who the character is, and isn't something just dropped in to liven the exchange.

I leave you with one more quote by James N. Frey, "Direct dialogue expresses exactly what is on the character's mind with no attempt on the part of the character to demur, use subterfuge, lie, be witty, and so on. Fine dialogue expresses the will of the character indirectly."

And it is much more fun to "express the will of a character indirectly", and your readers will thank you for the extra effort too. But like everything in life, the punch comes in moderation. Not all dialogue lends itself to indirect dialogue, but you can still work on the conflict, triteness, cleverness, and colourfulness for those lines too. The point of these questions is to check that each line is exactly what you want it to be, and to know why.

Any great indirect exchanges out there you'd like to share? We could learn from each other.

Surrendering to Him,


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Battle Your Inner Pirates--And Win!

Today I sent the class introduction for Battle Your Inner Pirates and win! to the members of the American Christian Fiction Writers free online class.

ACFW offers free courses 10 of the 12 months to its members. We have about 1900 members now and many love to take advantage of this free benefit. If you are not a member, you can join by going to and then after signing up, you can find the course links on the member home page to join the classes.

I'll be teaching a one week course starting tomorrow so you have time to join ACFW if you want to take it :-)

As a life coach, I help people battle their internal pirates--all those negative attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that hold you back from reaching your goals and dreams.

Our topics this week will be:
Monday - Friday instruction days. Tuesday/Thursday discussion. I teach this in 17 chapters or in life coaching at your personal pace. It's obvious we can't do it all, so we will do our best to do justice to what we can. We'll try for 3 of the topics and a quick wrap up on Saturday.

Consider this as a way to find what is blocking you, yes, but also consider it a study in characterization. If your main character were going through some of these mental/spiritual issues, how would they respond?

Be sure to make notes on a different sheet than your personal journal for your character's responses. By doing this, you allow your character to answer differently and grow or become more complicated.

As you work through those pirates that hold you back from your goals, you will be battling for a gem of wisdom. Our goal this week is to win 3 for your treasure chest!

We will deal with these battles on M-W-F:
1. Reframing-- Our Pirates: Rumination, Destructive Scripts, & Assumptions -- Awarded Gemstone: Garnet
2. Ownership vs. Empathy-- Our Pirates: Ownership-- Awarded Gemstone: Opal
3. Courage-- Our Pirates: Fear & Short term thinking -- Awarded Gemstone: Obsidian

Here's a glimpse our treasure hunt together. You may find some of these landmarks mapping the journey in our class this week. It's based on life coaching from, Insanity Rules: Gems of Wisdom, while we battle those internal pirates that hold us back from reaching our goals:

Pique Points: Thought-provoking questions to discuss.

Ponder Points: Tidbits to entice an open mind.

Personal Places: I may share a tender and true story, from the heart of a research volunteer, shared to help others.

Pirates: Those cutthroat negative attitudes, situations and feelings that get in the way of healthy living and healthy writing presented through fictional allegory. In this one week class, we won't be able to deal with all of them, so we will give our attention to the three listed.

Putting It All Together: Tying all the loose ends together in each lesson so it’s easy to understand and easy to then put into practice.

Polishing Point: Real life options to solve real life dilemmas and suggestions on how to put them into practice.

Gems: Gems of wisdom awarded as new concepts are learned along the treasure hunt route.

Definitions: A little more perspective on some words and ideas.

Tips: Tried and true, these are little gem chips that have worked for others. AND these may very well come from you or your classmates!

Ahoy there, Matey. Welcome aboard.

If you are more interested in personal life coaching rather than the spin towards writers, you can contact me here or go to the site for more information.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Setting aside one goal for a season...

Sometimes we get on the train heading in one direction only to realize that it takes several changes in station to achieve the destination.

My writing has had to take back seat this summer as I build the platform to support it into the future.

Although writing is my first choice, no one person can do it all. I decided mid-May to wait until after mid-July to continue my projects. I have to put a lot of energy into building the business side.

Now my new website is up, the jewelry is online and beginning to sell and I am off to compete for Mrs. International.

The energy. I keep coming back to that word. I've loved every bit of it. But energy is something we need to be good stewards of also. I think it's often missed.

Yes, I'll be getting back to writing in just a few weeks. I have a companion journal to finish with my non-fiction book and the second book in the Gems of Wisdom series to write. Then I need to reintroduce myself to a contest winning fiction manuscript that I put away when my mom passed. I put it away for a season. The season is ending.

Are you feeling drained?

In what way can you be a better steward of your energy?

Are you at the beginning or the ending of a season?

PS Please come visit and see all the new stuff!