Monday, November 30, 2009

Another Land

My husband just returned from a foreign country. A strange land. Unusual food. A day spent in a magical place where everyone calls you princess or prince. A land of curious social mores. Language barriers and opened floodgates. Shifts in schedule and time. He endured wild animals (aka the new puppy my parents recently bought). He survived the drama stirred up by me and my sisters, drama as predictable as Santa’s need to go on The Biggest Loser. He drove a dizzying two days straight and five days later made the return drive. My husband, he absorbed it all. For me.

This weekend we returned from visiting my family. Someone really needs to write a book about how spending time with the in-laws is the equivalent of visiting an unfamiliar country (maybe someone already has?). We had a meaningful visit. Though, I am glad to be back. Home again. There really is nothing like wallowing in your own bed and waking to sip tea you always drink. When we got home we found time to go to church, paint some of our kitchen and put up and decorate our Christmas tree. Two days in the car must have put us in a feverish mood to accomplish physical tasks.

To mention a little more about the foreign land…It’s a study in human behavior to observe how other families operate. Once you’re married into a family you assume the role of family member while it could take years to learn how to function within that family unit. We’ve been married ten years and I still discover new traditions and ways of communicating within my husband’s family. Keep me in mind as I gear up to do a little “traveling” myself later next month.
~~~It’s great to be blogging again. I missed it. But the break proved refreshing.

Here’s what I’m curious about…Have you mastered the language of the in-laws? Do you know the appropriate social codes? Are you in a whole new world when you visit family (Sorry, we went to Disney World. Can’t shake all the references.)?
*photos by flickr
**I'm over at Live Beautiful later today

Thursday, November 19, 2009

One Question Friday (on Thursday)

I’m going to be spotty posting over the next week and a half.

A mini blog hiatus for me.

Every Friday (Thursday, in this case) 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 your Question:

Mercurial Release or Stolid Grasp?

*photos by flickr

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

What Happens When

I haven’t been shy about admitting that characters are one of key influencers for why I write. While other girls my age fussed with hair bows and those impossibly hard to fit on miniskirts with their Barbie dolls, I fussed over storylines. I knew I was different from most fourteen-year-olds (did I write fourteen? No. No. I meant eleven. Nine, maybe. Certainly not fourteen) playing with Barbie dolls. I needed drama. I needed my sock clad Suzy Barbie to undergo conflict and tension with Betsy Barbie. Although, I’d named mine Alexandria and Violet, names I found to hold more “depth”.

My point: I’m a grown up still finding a way to invent stories. The only difference is I play out the stories on the page and I’m hoping my stories have a little more maturity to them now.

That being said, I’m throwing the fun your way today. Tell me what happens when these two characters meet. I want dialogue. I want to care about what happens next. I want it to lead to story.

I’ll go first.
Juliette crouches down next to Bill on the rocks. “I heard you had a bright green bird on your shoulder last night,” Bill says.

Water laps at their feet. Bill scans his squinting eyes over the cove, searching, as if the water holds the power to erase all the ugly years between them. “What of it?”

“Were you out late again?” Bill casts the line in a beautiful arc, sky bound and then they both watch it sink gracefully into the water.

“Papa, when will your worry end?” Juliette ties her cascading black hair in a cinched knot behind her back. “How long have you been at this?” Juliette motions toward the fishing line.

Bill scratches his free hand under his gray cap and huffs out an agitated breath. “All morning. Somebody needs to feed my bird.”

If you don’t feel like writing about an interaction between the two, feel free to come up with a title to the scene I wrote.

*photos by flickr

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cheating To Post Link

I know. I know. I’m not supposed to be here on Tuesdays. Technically it’s my thoughts that are here, not me. And I didn’t do any work. Mary DeMuth did on her blog, So You Wanna Be Published. Many of you know I’m an avid fan of U2. I had the opportunity to go see them in concert in September. I waited twenty years for that. I parallel that to my writing. I’m so okay with waiting 20+ years to see this writing thing through.

As a side, I think you all might be interested in a dream I had several nights ago. It complements the link well. In the dream Steve (my husband) was seated right next to me, so don’t jump to romantic thoughts here. Bono came to sit near me at some point during an intimate private party. He leaned over and informed me that he loved me. Following that I could think of nothing better to tell him than, “I’ll see you in heaven.” Dreams are fantastic, aren’t they?!

Make my cheating and my boundary-busting away from my blog schedule worth it. Go read Writing Advice from U2 over at So You Wanna Be Published.

Printable stuff, eh?

*photo by flickr

Monday, November 16, 2009

When Writing & Driving Collide

Here’s a list of what driving has taught me about my life as a writer…

  1. When it begins to get dark, turn your lights on and stay focused on the road in front of you. If you allow your eyes to wander to other streetlights, or car lights on the opposite side of the road, you’re more apt to swerve off the road. Focus on the road in front of YOU.
  2. Remember to check the rearview mirror from time to time. You can learn a lot from where you’ve been.
  3. You can’t drive on empty. I’ve you’re feeling depleted go ahead and write, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to do whatever needs to be done to fill up (eat, rest, have an engaging conversation with your spouse).
  4. When it’s raining slow down by at least 5 MPH. When you’re bombarded with millions of daily interruptions and a handful of writing deadlines, it is okay to slow down and prioritize your life, including all writing projects.
  5. Don’t talk on your cell phone while driving. This reminds me of editing one manuscript while writing another. I prefer tackling one project at a time. Distractions do nothing for focused intentions.
  6. Stop at railroad crossings. It’s worth it to evaluate things from time to time. Forced stops can teach you to notice things you hadn’t before. It’s a great time to allow your imagination to go wild.
  7. Watch your speed. Remember to pace yourself.
  8. Use your turn signal. It’s nice to use subtle clues to alert readers that a change is coming.
  9. Driving instructors have great idiosyncrasies to use for your characters. Material is everywhere. Every single person you meet has the potential to be flattened and put on the page.
  10. Pump breaks while driving downhill. Drive fast over hills. Raise your hands up. Feel your stomach move into your chest. Enjoy the ride.
How have driving and writing collided for you and what have you learned?

*I’m over at Live Beautiful later today.
**I completed the first draft of my WIP.
Woo. Hoo.

Friday, November 13, 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.

Here it comes:

Just starting out or
Reaching the destination?

*photos by flickr
**I’m over at
5 Minutes for Faith today

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Blogging Update

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My schedule is on a torture rack. And I’m the one guilty of putting it there. Remember my post last week about my old friend Boundaries? Well, I’ve invited him to the salt mine with me. I’ve invited him to read books to my children with me (you should hear his accent). And he wants me to go public with some news. It’s time for me to cinch the waistband of my blogging schedule. That’s right, perfect timing as we approach the Thanksgiving meal. Boundaries has kindly asked that I cut my posts back to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. After a knockdown drag out, I agreed.

Because we are roaming in my thoughts on this blog, I assure you I will continue to think on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Please do not worry about that. There is no shortage of thoughts for this gal (We once had a pastor who called females of all ages gals. It cracked me up every time. I felt like I needed to be wearing a hoop skirt or listening to Jimmy Stewart talk about wanting to lasso the moon.)

On Mondays and Wednesdays we’ll walk around in the confines of my mind and if you’ve been reading/following All in a Day’s Thought for awhile, you know that means you’re in for some surprises. I’ll keep going with One Question Fridays. I’ve been highly fascinated reading your comments. I’m certain I learn by watching others grow.

Thanks for understanding as I begin to make concerted efforts to hoist my schedule off that antiquated smelly rack. I’m all for a good stretch, but honestly!

See you tomorrow for your question.

*photos by flickr
**Obviously I spoof when I mention my friend, “Boundaries”. The real inspiration and authority behind my decision is of course, my God.
***A special nod to friends and fellow bloggers who have been firm with boundaries, setting an example for me and who’ve encouraged me in this decision

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Two Reasons

Picture this: Editor turned agent and author of The Forest for the Trees, Betsy Lerner staring out at a sea of writers. Positioned carefully in her hands she holds a telescope, causing her vision to focus right at the core, the muse-igniters of the writing soul. I’m there. No, not there. I’m on the other side of the ocean. Do you see me with the jeans and the wool sweater? I’m holding something too. It’s shaped like a telescope, but it’s not a telescope. As I squint my eye to peer inside my handheld device I see twirling colors, spinning pinwheels and shapes and sheer mystery. My kaleidoscope is aimed back at the agents/editors conversing on the other side. I don’t have a clear view of what their lives entail—yet. Yet.

But in Betsy’s book her description of why a writer writes hits upon a proverbial goldmine.

Check this out:

“As far as I can tell people write for exactly two reasons: 1) They are compelled to, and 2) they want to be loved.”

Now if that ain’t some King Tutankhamen I don’t know what is?

She goes on to write later in the chapter, “Writers want love, and they hope that through their work, they will be recognized as special. And that is why most writers are so crazy. When a writer gives his editor the pages of his manuscript, he is, in essence, handing over his heart on a plate. And until he gets a response, his entire sense of himself is in limbo. It’s like waiting for the results of a biopsy.”

We know how accurately Betsy described the two reasons. Here’s your chance. Give me two reasons why you write.

*photos by flickr
**Blogging friend, Katie Ganshert got the call from her "dream" agent! Praise God.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Simple As 123

How Simplified Are You?

I’ve compiled a list of ten ways to discern how simplified you are. After listening to a sermon last weekend, reading on the topic and being a strong proponent of simple living, I decided it might be challenging/interesting to come up with ways to gauge just how much I adhere to this kind of living.

Rhetorical questions. Not expecting answers unless you’d like to expound on one or more of the following.

How Simplified are you?

  1. How long does it take you to get ready before going out in public?

  2. Would praying about whether or not to purchase something seem like an absurd thing to do?

  3. Are you able to spend chunks of time alone or in solitude without an overwhelming desire to be around people, in conversation, or around noise and/or distraction?

  4. Can you readily find joy in the small things in life like a loved one’s smile, a falling leaf or a special song?

  5. Are you entertained by, amused by or in awe of nature?

  6. Is it difficult for you to find pleasure in things that are free?

  7. How much of a struggle is it for you to give things away?

  8. How enticed are you by advertising?

  9. Do you get easily annoyed by interruptions in your day?

  10. Do you find you’re often misunderstood because you overstate your point, you talk around things, you “pretty up” certain topics or you hide behind flowery language?

After evaluating my answers I’m convinced it might do me some good to let God do a little long division on my complicated fractioned life. You know, break it on down. (I think God’s been waiting for someone to set Him up for a dance routine for a very long time!)

*photos by flickr

Monday, November 9, 2009

Map Quest

I’ve been thinking. Uh oh, you know what that means—I’m going to throw some questions at you. You’re exactly right. I’ve been thinking about maps and how as writers our work can represent a certain type of map. I thought we could have a little fun today. Read the following and tell me which one best describes your writing style (if you’re more of a reader than a writer, try to pick the one that describes why you read a book, as appropriate).

The Maps:

X Marks the Spot: You constantly write toward resolve. You have a goal in mind, whether that goal is word count, a certain character growing in a specific way, or for your work to come across startling on every page, that X meets you on every page, reminding you of where you’re headed and what you need to do to get there.

Treasure Chest: You work hard for the money. It’s about being paid. Sure, there’s thrill and mystery along the path, but you’re on the hunt primarily to earn some bucks at the end. Dollar signs are found around every corner and at the start of every new chapter.

Climate Map: Writing is like an experiment in sensory details for you. Discovering a new way to express a feeling or to write about an experience through sight, sound, touch, taste or feel is what it’s all about for you. You go beyond that to describe undefined senses as well, periphery, sixth senses and ways to absorb the world. Description and details reveal the exact temperature of your work. The moisture in the air, the rainfall and the barometric pressure all combine to create a palpable, descriptive work.

Where’s Waldo: There’s only one Waldo, just as there’s only one you. You write to project your voice out into the world, aware some may not find it, some may simply skim over who you are and all you’ve written, but you write anyway. There’s no mistaking your work. Your voice is resilient, clear and wonderfully identifiable. It’s the reason people read your writing. They read it to find you.

Topographic: You pay close attention to how everything flows in your writing. You also lean into conflict at just the right times and pace the work out beautifully. There are peaks and valleys, moments of high and low tension, rocky terrains of conflict, but overall when you take a step back, holding the map from a distance you notice how well designed the landscape of your work is.

The Hundred-Acre Wood: You’re known for creating believable characters with rich personalities. Once someone has read your work they feel as though they personally know those they’ve read about. You also are keenly aware of setting and timing. Just as a “Hoo-hoo-hoo” is distinguishable from an “Oh, bother,” you have a way of making even your Eeyores unique and lovable.

Road Map: Things may get crowded, layers and conversations running every which way in your writing, but there is notably a movement of getting from point A to point B. You are all about driving your work along with an adventure to destination attitude. You can have several stories and subplots going on at once, but ultimately your piece will end up exactly where you intended.

Right about now I bet you’re scratching your head trying to establish which map you are. I’ll provide a nice distraction by telling you which one(s) I am.

Without further ado:

I’m of course a combo. Where’s Waldo meets the Hundred-Acre Wood. That would make a good book actually!

Which map best represents you as a writer (or reader)? Feel free to invent your own map to describe your style.

*photos by flickr

Friday, November 6, 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.

The question:

Is faith hard or easy?

*photos by flickr
**I’m over at the
Exemplify Devotional Channel today

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fresh Start By Doug Fields

Fresh Start by Doug Fields asks the question, do we really believe all things are possible with God? Fields espouses that the key to getting unstuck in life is cooperation with God.

I read this book like a sunbather. I read a chapter and then put it down. You know how sunbathers ease into the water slowly and eventually decide to dive in, immersing their bodies fully? That about sums up how I read this book. My start/stop/start reading did not reflect the witty and intelligent way the book was written. Fields offers practical wisdom about how to power through those inevitable times in life where getting out of bed doesn’t garner much appeal (for whatever reason). I think my jerky reading commitment had much more to do with the meaty chapters. Each chapter hits upon a takeaway lesson and I didn’t want to miss anything.

I’d heard a lot of the insight, carefully categorized in the book, during sermons or in Bible studies before, but reading it all in one comprehensive place added to the book’s value for me. I found myself drawn to the authenticity and humor Fields evoked. Even though some of his points have the potential to be hard to swallow, points encouraging conviction, accountability and a desire to grow, I never felt as though I was being beaten over the head or preached at. Instead, Fields provides comical examples from his own life experience to shed light on what growth and becoming unstuck can look like.

I enjoyed the book. I wish I’d been more concerted in my effort to read it in a shorter time span. However, because I took time to read it, I’ve discovered that certain aspects have truly stayed with me months later. In the last chapter, Fields asks, “If you knew the clock was ticking rapidly for you, what would become most important in your life?” A solid overall question to convey the kind of thinking the book inspires.

Finally, Fields writes that Psalm 90:12, “summarizes the theme of this book.” I’ll leave you with the verse. “Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom (NLT).”

Thanks to Thomas Nelson for sending along another solid book.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Salt Mine Writing

Growing up, if Boundaries had showed up on our doorstep, barged through the door, ransacked our fridge, settled on Doritos from the pantry and plopped down on our couch flashing a peace sign I think I’d have said, “Who on earth do you think you are?” (I think it would be pretty funny if Boundaries did that--quite contradictory of his name.)

Boundaries and I had never met.

Today, I see how imperative it is that I invite the Doritos loving friend in my home once in awhile, so I get a good look whether or not I’m well enough acquainted with Boundaries.

The writing life is like salt mining. We unearth salt every time we slap words on a page. We use our gifts. But in this, we can bury ourselves into deep and dark caverns, potentially cutting ourselves off from those who love us and from needed sunlight. We can tunnel so far into our novels, our essays, and/or our non-fiction inspirational that we lose sight of those waiting for us above ground. Put simply, we risk getting addicted to salt and forgetting our roles in relationships.

Here’s where my old friend comes in. We need to make sure to invite him to work with us. Boundaries needs an open invitation to descend into the damp, wet, musing earth with us. We must be willing to mine salt with Boundaries as a co-miner. We need to remember that writing, though it pulses within our being, makes us lift the covers off our goosepimply legs in the morning, and haunts us as we are driving, showering and sleeping and every other inconvenient time to jot down a note, writing is not life.

Writing is not life.

We don’t live in salt mines, we live above ground where social skills are a necessity and many of us have kids with sticky fingers that need wiping and small little torsos that crave a fat hug. Some of us also have spouses that would like us to get a little more “salty” with them, if you catch my drift.

We are called to mine. Salt mine writing is a calling. We don’t need to dismiss that or skip about the earth avoiding the deep. We can own it. But in owning it, let’s not lose sight of the surface, of those wanting us to ascend back up from the depths from time to time, back up and into their arms.

I have a great deal of respect for how Nathan Bransford addressed a similar topic in a post titled, Ten Commandments of a Happy Writer. A must read.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp a put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16

*photos by flickr
**I got to go in a salt mine as a wee one in Austria
“Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well!” Psalm 90:12 (Message)

Taking Time

college applications                 homecoming                            flag football                basketball             SATs   ...