Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Solemn Season

C.S. Lewis alludes to it in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Always winter, never Christmas.

Have you ever felt that way? I had my own solemn season. Grief sprung to life in a deeply personal and painful way after someone close to me died. For about two months I walked through life in a daze, feeling the weight of both the wintery weather and the bleakness of the loss.

I had my husband, a caring church community, two sweet little daughters, thoughtful family members and a belief in an intimately loving God at the time, but I’d lie to you if I didn’t write that I felt utterly alone. Opening my eyelids in the morning took effort. The saying “face the day” took on a whole new meaning. Yet, I functioned. As many of you moms know, we serve through everything: sinus infections, vomiting and great sadness…our job doesn’t have a pause button.

Did I believe in the core of my being that hope still existed? Yes, but I couldn’t feel it, sense it, or remember what it smelled like. I had to trust it would survive, that I’d survive through a time that I even now, years later, find difficult to write about.

I bet you want to know what pulled me out of the darkness. Guess. I’m kidding. I’ll tell you.

A bundle of daffodils.

Certainly meals friends provided, meaningful phone calls, my husband’s hand squeezes and hugs from my girls lifted me daily, but I attest to this day it was the daffodils that flicked the lights back on. After one of our MOMS meetings, a friend from the group I led parked her car outside my home and had her young daughter come to my door clasping a handful of bright yellow daffodils. Wordless, she held them up for me to take as dimples appeared on her cheeks. I waved as my friend drove off with her daughter and brought the flowers into my home.

I’d survived the winter. I’d survived the loss and it took a bundle of daffodils to remind me that God was doing a new thing.

If you are currently in a solemn season I pray somehow and in some way you are shown the LIGHT of Christ.

It is also my hope that reading this serves as a powerful reminder that you never really know how God is using your small gestures and words.

*photos by flickr

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Slow Burn by Mary E. DeMuth

Mary E. DeMuth renders a powerful tale of transformation and the ongoing ache of working through forgiveness in A Slow Burn. Emory Chance struggles with a grappling addiction and fights to let go of her murdered daughter and the events surrounding her death. DeMuth is unafraid to depict heart-wrenching portrayals of drug abuse, suicidal thinking, bitterness, and a threatening murderer scaring up the town of Defiance, as well as delve into other controversial topics. Her writing blooms on the page with a distinct and wonderfully authentic voice.

In this second book of the Defiance Texas Trilogy, DeMuth brings the reader through a journey, introducing the concept of hope and the impact of truth revealed throughout each and every exploration of tragedy. Key characters, including ever-forgiving Hixon Jones and loyal Ouisie Pepper infuse the story with resolve and rich personality.

DeMuth succeeds at creating memorable characters in A Slow Burn. The redemptive message weaved throughout the book, as well as periods of suspense, culminate in a fascinating and well-written story, leaving me to wonder how it will end.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Whether You Weather

How much does the weather impact you? Do months without sun cause you to blanch into the all popular vampire? Does your attitude follow suit?

I read a book not long ago where one of the characters was obsessed with The Weather Channel. Weather is the old fallback where conversation is concerned. Is it your fallback? My dad and I discuss the weather often. He monitors it for us, from a two day drive away. It’s how he shows love. You should hear his giddy anxiety when a major storm is approaching or when his weather station shows the swirling white cloud headed for anywhere in a three hundred mile radius of where we live.

If you’re a writer, how do your characters react to weather? Is one of them just hunky dory about torrential downpours? Does another character avoid humidity because she lives in fear her hair will transform into a clown wig? Do you enjoy describing seasons and unique weather patterns? Even more, have you thought about how your characters respond to weather?

Without going overboard, I delight in coming up with ways to depict the sun, leaves in the fall, and the snow. In my current novel I wrote, “Lindsay awoke to a window fractured with a spider web of icy frost.” I enjoyed this way of indicating the weather had turned rather than mentioning snowflakes or chilly air.

And don’t even get me started on clouds. Though I could create a list of hundreds of impressions clouds give off, I try to incorporate only one or two of these into each novel. Clouds truly are magnificent though and the colors in the sky…

Are you able to cleverly use nature in order to foreshadow or suggest a tone shift in your work? I’m obviously not talking about looming clouds and rain to signify something depressing or a bright cheery sun rising in the sky when you want to convey a happy ending on the horizon. But, a gust of wind, a well-timed leaf crunch and striations of plum and gold in the sky can be added into your WIP with additional details to flavor your scene.

So three questions to choose from today…How much does the weather impact you? And your characters? Do you enjoy writing about changing seasons and particular aspects of weather?

*photos by flickr
*I'm over at Live Beautiful later today

Friday, September 25, 2009

One Question Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It is my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

And now for the question:

OLD or NEW homes?

*photos by flickr

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What I’m Writing

Do you ever think about the different things you’re working on? Today I did and I’m now in serious prayer about my writing overload.

I’ve been busy. As have you, I’m guessing. I thought I’d share with you what I’ve been busy writing.

  • My goal is to blog here at All in a Day’s Thought four to five times per week. Heads up, if you are new to my blog, I’m usually MIA on the weekends.

  • Every Monday I write for Live Beautiful.

  • Every other Tuesday, I blog for Exemplify Online.

  • Every other Friday, I write devotionals for 5 Minutes for Faith.

  • Mid-month I write a how-to article for Exemplify Online Magazine as a contributor.

  • I’m constructing a polished outline for an upcoming talk with M&W Ministries.

  • I also occasionally submit short stories or articles to online sites, magazines, contests, etc. Several works are awaiting publication.

  • I’ve been asked by the Music Director from our church if I could help write the Night of Joy Christmas skit montage.

  • I’m reading three books carefully to write three thoughtful book reviews.

  • Today was my first day of Bible study where we are working through, Living the Gospel in Relationships and I’m hacking through homework.

  • Currently, I’m also tackling Donald Maass’ workbook, Writing the Breakout Novel.

  • And the one that probably demands most of my attention, I’m writing my third women’s fiction, Noble Efforts to Engulf the Moon (28,000 words in.)

  • I haven’t even mentioned the journal I keep, marking down sweet and funny moments with my children.
So, with all this writing going on, I have to admit I beamed when I overheard my husband telling my children the other day that mommy’s job is to write.

Now, I just need to reevaluate some things so that I’m able to write and write well.

Tell me what you’re working on…

*photo by flickr

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Barking Up The Wrong Tree

I’ve gone to the dogs. And what a cute, hopeful dog that is there, eh? A word about our words today…
Sometimes things we experiment with as writers just don’t work. We can do all the reading in the world about our craft, but certain things won’t ever work. For example, just as dogs aren’t meant to talk (or read for that matter) we aren’t meant to write in a voice that’s not our own.

Here are some other examples of things writers do that don’t work:
  • Forcing descriptions, long and lengthy ones that begin to bunch around each other like stockings around an old lady’s ankles.

  • Inserting flowery language. Playing dress up with words. This especially falls flat when we’re not even sure of the meaning of the word, but we use it anyway because it “sounds so nice.”

“Remember the basic rule of vocabulary is use the first word that comes to your mind, if it is appropriate and colorful.” ~ Stephen King

  • Writing about something we know nothing about without conducting research.

  • Trying too hard to emulate a well-known author. I’ll stay and UBU sit on this one for a bit. The dog in the picture is studying the art of talking, clearly unable to read or talk. Can he give it his best bark? Sure. Will it ever sound like anything other than a dog’s bark? Not likely. So what does the dog need to do? The pup needs to bark like he’s never barked before. He needs to take ownership of his own vocal cords and give it his strongest bark.

We need to play with our own voice, bat it around a little, and risk things that don’t work in order to find pure sentences that shine. Our voice is one of the deciding factors whether someone will purchase our second, third and fourth book. As you can tell, I’m big on voice, but I’m particularly big on authors discovering and developing their own voice.

Hope you enjoyed the list. Can you think of other things writers do that essentially equates to barking up the wrong tree?

*photo by flickr

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Phone Me Vs: Blog Me

I’ve had the pleasure of talking with some of you. Just last night I was speaking with a critique partner, who is also a fellow blogger and after I hung up I drowned in a flood of thoughts. Am I consistent? Does how I act in my blog posts align with how I act on the phone and in person, for that matter? That is my goal…alignment. I understand there is a time and place for everything, for splices of humor, for me to crank my professionalism up a notch, etc. But I’m talking about impressions. Do I evoke the same confidence, love of laughter, trust in God and openness verbally and through my writing? Same question, flipped, do I leak my insecurities through both means? I’ve always been more comfortable with writing, but I love all forms of interaction/communication. I’m curious if this is apparent.

Why does this even matter? I believe we don’t just exude our “voice” in our writing. Our voice is part of us. We sleep with it, grieve with it and worship with it. If we are in relationship with God, our voice is an extension of His Spirit.

Here’s my example of the day: Take an old phone (you know, one with a cord still attached.) I’m the receiver, able to talk and listen. The Holy Spirit is everything else on the phone, the digits, the wires inside that I couldn’t even begin to assemble, and most importantly for this example, He’s the cord and the connecting wire to the outlet (God). I can’t do anything worth anything without being connected. My voice has little impact. No one will hear it and what I hear will count for nothing. That connection is imperative.

So why do I care if I’m consistent whether on the phone with you, standing in front of you or while I’m commenting on your blog? Because this voice is the only one I have and I feel compelled to keep it connected to the source that makes it work. Also, one of my favorite aspects of writing is experimenting with voice, celebrating and smiling in the discovery that every single one of my characters reveals a part of me. Finally, I care because authenticity and transparency are things I feel called to. I’m a weak, broken individual, who by the grace of God is empowered to live a merciful, passionate and compassionate life. There are few things you take with you everywhere. Voice matters.

Have you given much thought to the impression you leave and if it’s consistent? How would you define “voice”?

*photos by flickr
**I’m over at
Exemplify today sharing about God’s Voice.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Concert

Went to a concert last night.
Quivering chairs.
Body immune or stubbornly ignoring the chill in the air.
Voice weak from yelling my applause.
Lightshow flashing in the confines of my mind.
Registering music.
Absorbing sound.
Came home, checked on kids, and crawled in bed with words floating, mysterious melodious lyrics tunneling through memory and time.

“God saw all that he had made and it was very good.”
Genesis 1:31a

What's the best concert you've been to?

*photos by flickr
**I'm over at Live Beautiful later today.

Friday, September 18, 2009

One Question Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It is my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

Ready for your question?

Pioneer or Viking?

*photos by flickr
**I wrote something revealing over at 5 Minutes for Faith today.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Art Fantasy

Which of these famous pieces of artwork would you hang in your home? Not which piece would go with your current d├ęcor, not which one would fit on the wall somewhere, not which one would be the least likely you’d mind getting trashed by your children.

We’re living in an art fantasy today. You get to choose based on preference, your preference. Ah, refreshing, isn’t it? Select one and then tell me why you chose the one you did.

It killed me not to pick one with water in it because I have a mad love affair with water. But the one I’d hang would be the lady reading. My reason: Her expression tells me she’s more than lost in that book. A close second would be the folks chilling beneath the pink blossoming trees. My reason: I honestly don’t have a good reason. I just like it. That’s allowed here too. And of course anything with water in it would be next.

So have at it. What artwork are you going to have delivered to your house?

*photos by flickr

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My Mama Sayings

Today’s post is inspired by Lysa Terkeurst’s new book, Becoming More. On page 58, she describes a list of typical “mama statements” you might overhear her saying before company visits.

I thought I’d draft my own list of mama sayings you could overhear me saying any ole time throughout the day.

“It’s not even 8:00 o’clock. What’s there to fight about this early?”
“Did you remember to put on underwear?” If I’m feeling extra overwhelmed and I forgot to bathe my kids the night before the saying might go more like this, “Did you change your underwear from yesterday?”
“Why is my spatula in the dog food bag?”
While changing a diaper, “You don’t really need to see your poop.”
“Yes, my bottom is supposed to move like that.”

“Don’t let the dog lick your toes.
Don’t lick the dog’s toes.”
“What’s that ring around your mouth?
Is that chocolate or dirt?”
“This wrapper {fill in the blank with about 100 other items} does not belong here.”
“I don’t think using Resolve carpet cleaner this many times a day is healthy for me.”
“Because normal people wear clothes.”
While potty training, “Everybody poops. Daddy poops. Mommy poops. Your sisters poop. Even the dog poops. Outside, the dog poops outside.”

“Don’t bang on the computer like that
or it will crash.”
“Sit down while we eat. What are you, a monkey?”
“We don’t talk about toots at the table.”
“Make room for your sister in the tub.
Stop kicking her in the face.”
“It’s time for bed.
Big Kiki is not coming to get you.”

Do you have any mama sayings you could be overheard saying any ole time? If you’re not a mom, did your mom have any memorable ones?

*dog photo by flickr. Monkey = mine

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Bridge--Lest We Forget

Heavy. Too deep. Controversial. Jarring. Powerful. Meaningful. Describe it as you may, but this video sends a clear message. One I received and receive every day. Lest we forget.

I’m curious what you thought after you watched it?

*Thanks to tangle for the video

Monday, September 14, 2009

Broken Places

I did not expect to write this. But I decided to because I’m guessing you’ve been here too. God is binding up the broken places in me. He’s mending so close to my heart I’m having difficulty writing about it. Deep wounds, gashed and still vulnerable, apparently. God, the wonderful Counselor is hard at work fully healing me, not performing a botched job where half my heart remains hanging out. He doesn’t want these pains to be scabbed over or His stitches to show forever. He is a God of healing, so I look at that same area of hurt and see nothing, no scar or jagged reminder that I once was hurt there.

I’ve been busy lately (likely excuse for not getting into “God surgery” before) but I’m cognizant that God is always working. His spiritual counseling has the potential to look and sometimes feel a little bit like surgery, tweezing out where sharp splinters of bitterness have impaled and pumping life-giving blood back into what’s been trampled by loss or betrayal. Unlike me, God takes His time. He wants it done right. Nothing is worse to God than a slipshod job of healing.

God and I bantered a little before I wrote this post and here’s how that talk went:

Me: “I don’t want to write that. I like funny. I’m comfortable with funny. Or questions. I love asking questions. How ‘bout that?”

God: (I don’t hear God’s voice audibly, but I know the impression of His Spirit and His voice) “It’s not time to be funny. You’re not there to be comfortable. And about the questions...we’ll get to that later.”

Me: “Okay, but it’s a risk.”

God: “Exactly.”

Me: “That’s part of the healing, isn’t it?”

God: “It’s part of your healing.”

My life is richly blessed. I’m still grateful for my role as wife and mother. I’m still developing strong friendships, still laughing with family members, and I’m still reading and writing during chunks of my day. But I’m also doing something else, invisible, yet more powerful than I’ll ever understand. I’m healing.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He determines the number of stars and calls them each by name. Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.” Psalm 147:3-5

“Then your light will break forth from the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say; Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will becomes like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.” Isaiah 58: 8-12

*photos by flickr
**I'm over at Live Beautiful later today

Friday, September 11, 2009

One Question Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It is my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

Kentuckians have been known to shout out, “I bleed blue!” in support of their sports teams. We lived in Kentucky for a total of four years and witnessed this devotion first hand.
Environmentalists might rally the cry, “I bleed green.”

Americans, especially on days like today, Patriot Day, have been known to espouse, “I bleed red, white and blue.”

And so now the question bounces your way…

Finish the sentence:
I bleed _______. (and PLEASE, as always give a reason for your answer.)

*photos by flickr
*received a funny email from an agent yesterday. I so enjoy laughing!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Doing Flips for Keli Gwyn

Keli Gwyn, paging Keli Gwyn…YOU won the color contest.
~~My friend read through the responses and decided Keli to be the winner. She found her response to be compelling and said, “Had I not seen the picture I still would have been able to visualize this girl.” I’ll mention that I loved how Keli described the girl’s eyes as the “color of forget-me-nots” and the “dusting of freckles.”

Terri Tiffany comes in a close second. I couldn’t stop thinking about that marble description all day. Thanks to all who participated!

Congratulations, Keli! I’ll send you new Southern Living Christmas book soon. Please email me your address.

One of my favorite parts about games, watching and playing them, is seeing how excited people get when they win.

And just a tidbit to stay with the color theme of the week, my favorite board game growing up was Trivial Pursuit. We kept a box of questions behind our toilet so I memorized more than my share of answers. I also liked (and here’s where the color aspect is fulfilled in my post) the wheels with their multicolored wedges (my sisters and I used to call them wedgies. It was one of the few times I wanted more wedgies.)

Anyway, way to go Keli. Have fun the next time you witness how a winner reacts. I bet Keli’s doing flips. :D

I’d love to have feedback about this contest. Do you want me to host more in the future or not so much?
*photos by flickr/yeah! I can upload normally again.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Color Contest #3

See color contest #1 for details

*Just a note: I've had major difficulties with Blogger today. My posts aren't showing up on blog lists and getting these pictures posted (albeit in three posts!) was painful. I found an alternative way to post them and had to go with different pictures than I originally intended (though I'm pleased with these.)

If for some reason you don't learn about this contest and I get wind of that, I'm willing to hold it open longer.

Color Contest #2

See color contest #1 for details

Color Contest, Picture #1

Bright Blue eyes
Originally uploaded by pinkpompom

What an unbelievable chance for you to showcase your writing skills! Today I’m holding a color contest. Here’s how to be in the running for a FREE Southern Living Christmas book:

  1. Follow my blog. If you don’t follow already (and why the heck not?) go ahead and click to follow under Inspirational and Curious People Who Read this Blog.
  2. I’ve provided three unique pictures. In TWO sentences or less, describe ONE picture to the best of your ability (make sure to indicate which one you’re describing.)
  3. I hate rules, so I’m keeping them to just three. The one key and why I’m calling it a color contest, your imaginative description MUST include one or more colors.

My close friend, an avid reader and writer (initials E.B., though she didn’t write Charlotte’s Web) will judge your answers based on creativity and clever usage of color. Remember, don’t force it. If something inspires you, go with it. It’s worth risking it here on this blog. I’ll announce the results tomorrow and send the winner a new book (still in plastic wrapping) within weeks. Give it your all and color me happy!

*photos by flickr

Taking Time

college applications                 homecoming                            flag football                basketball             SATs   ...