Friday, May 29, 2009

Heroes and Villains

We all have a little bit of hero in us and I happen to believe we also have villainous aspects to us as well. In our last day ~ At the Movies ~ we will explore the topic of heroes and villains.
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it is to select at least one hero you are like and if you select a hero, you are then obligated to also choose one villain (trickier, huh?) No major worries--read my answers below to see how I squirmed out of identifying with a horribly dark character (it’s all in the why.)

When I look in the mirror I see:

The Villains:

~ Cameron Diaz as Kimberly Wallace in My Best Friend’s Wedding. Ever the optimist and primed to confess her devout love, Kimberly is seen as “the enemy” to main character, Julianne Potter played by Julia Roberts. Now how mild of an enemy can you get?




~ “Verbal” Kint played by Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects. I see him in the mirror because like “Verbal” did, I constantly weave and create stories out of everything around me. I could be sitting in a doctor’s office and every person around me becomes suspect to my writing it all down, every sound, every conversation I overhear, every minute thing is vulnerable to my pen.



The Heroes:

I see or hope to see in the mirror (note how I chose more for this one. :D) ~

~ Esther played by Tiffany Dupont in One Night with the King. We all have times of bravery and moments of “for such a time as this.”

~ Joan of Arc played by Mila Jovovich in The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. Intense movie. She is one powerful force because of God.

~ “O Captain! My Captain!” Why, that would be Robin Williams as John Keating, the mind-stretching, status quo-challenging teacher in Dead Poets Society.

~ Liv Tyler as Arwen in The Lord of the Rings trilogy…come on, what woman wouldn’t want to reflect all that she represented? I love the scene where she has Frodo on her horse and she parts the waters with her mystical elfin language.

Who do you see when you look in the mirror?

Now, that’s a wrap! Thanks for making this week at the movies so entertaining!



Make note: early next week I’ll be passing on what Jaime began by holding a contest to win Mary DeMuth’s Daisy Chain.




*photos by flickr

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Playing Director—Cut!


Now is your chance. Have you ever imagined a movie would be better if the ending was cut or a scene was added? Certainly you’ve thought a movie would have been more believable if a different actor played the role, but we won’t go there today.

Today it’s our turn to play director. We get to cut scenes, add them and change up some of the most memorable movies (and even not so memorable ones) all to our liking.

Some of my examples:

~ We have a running joke in our family: Seven Years in Tibet. The Brad Pitt movie seemed to drag and drag when my husband and I watched it years ago. So now when anything is taking too long we comment by saying, “It’s like Seven Years in Tibet.” As director, I would have cut some scenes out.

~ I’d make the dinner scene in Notting Hill longer. What a fabulous character-revealing scene!

~ I might tone down Ursula’s treacherous octopus scene in The Little Mermaid, but maybe that was the point. (On that same note, Snow White is just too scary for little kids.)

~ And Citizen Kane. I don’t get it—best movie of all time? Rosebud? I would change…? I don’t know what I’d change…I just didn’t get it.

~ The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. Excellent movie, but I must confess the glimpses at the end seemed to go on and on. This too has turned into somewhat of a joke my husband and I share.

~ Godfather – the horse head – too cruel (again though, maybe that was the point).

Ah, that was fun. Now I can leave directing to the professionals.

How about you? Try your hand at directing for awhile. What changes would you make to a movie?


* photo by flickr

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Gets You Right Here









I don’t have a single joke memorized, but I have dozens of movie lines filed away in my gray matter. There is just something about powerful visual imagery, a moving story and a well delivered line…


Remember These?

“You make me want to be a better man.” As Good as It Gets

“Yo, Adrian.” Rocky

“May the Force be with you.” Star Wars

“Carpe diem. Seize the day boys, Make your lives extraordinary.” Dead Poets Society

“We’ll always have Paris.” Casablanca


And now for my favorite line(s):

Juba (Djimon Hounsou) telling Maximus (Russell Crow) in Gladiator, “Not yet.”

The symbolism and meaning behind his words moves me to tears every time.

A close second:


Jenny (Robin Wright Penn) in Forrest Gump crouched low to the ground hidden in a cornfield saying, “Dear God, make me a bird so I can fly, far far away from here. Dear God…”





I think every single person has felt this feeling at one point or another. Need I say more?

Which line from a movie “gets you right here”?



*photos by flickr

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Week At The Movies - Which Title Describes You?


I’m salivating thinking about what I’ve got planned for us this week. It’s movie week. As you know I love to read but did you also know I thoroughly enjoy watching movies too? Because of this you and I are going to go on a little adventure this week, our own Yellow Brick Road…


Call it movie mania, rich as cinnamon cinema; call it what you will but we are bound to have fun while we spend the next week


~ AT THE MOVIES ~


Today’s Question:


Which movie title best describes your writing style (or living style if you aren’t a writer)? Why?
I’ll provide you with some examples and then my answer.


Too Fast Too Furious: Are you at the computer racing through pages and words in attempt to get your thoughts on paper as fast as possible? Are you known for not being able to slow down?


You’ve Got Mail: Are you easily distracted? You have every intention to get 1000 words written by the end of the day but there’s blogging and email and Facebook and well, there just wasn’t enough time.


Love Story: Are you in love with your characters? Do you live life feeling a deep and impacting love for those you come across? Is LOVE really all you need? I imagine some of you romance writers out there will answer with this one.


Gone with the Wind: A fantastic and original thought knocks on the door of your brain and just as quickly as you hear it and try to get it all on paper, it disappears like a next-door-neighbor playing a cruel game of ding dong ditch. Do you think of great plot lines and characters only to have them leave you pining after them?


Big: You are an epic writer. You dream big. You talk big. To quote a line from Madagascar 2, “Girl, you HUGE.” This can also be a writer who uses big words; the ones no one understands because of a great desire to prove you are brilliant.


Lord of the Rings: No matter how hard you try, you end up writing characters that represent you and your spouse. They have the same spats, kiss the same way and they even have the same idiosyncratic quirks. Art imitates life for you.


Star Wars: You are in sci-fi land all the way. Your head is in the stars. You dream of distant planets. This so isn’t me so I’m not even sure how to describe this one much more.


Braveheart: You have a mission. You see clearly what it is and you know you are a “William Wallace” of words. Your writing is both inspirational and life-changing. You live to lead others to where they need to be. It takes bravery; it takes courage and just a wee bit of blue Smurf-colored face paint.


The Sting: You just aren’t feeling it. You’ve wanted to write since you were a kid. You love the idea of writing. You love the idea of making someone specific in your life happy or proud of you. But a sting is a sting and you know what you know…you write more as a job. You live more for others.


One Flew over the Coo-coo’s Nest: You risk all. You could care less about what others think. Willing to bare all, be all and lose all (including your mind) you throw it all into your writing and in the meantime you sometimes lose your readers along the way because you are so engrossed in your own brain matter.


Miss Congeniality: You are polite. You follow ALL of the rules. You want praise. You long to win awards and your greatest desire is publication. You have goals in life and you will meet them, doing so in a dignified manner.


Terms of Endearment: It’s all about the words and the emotion for you, baby. You choose your words with the care of a mother monkey removing flees from its newborn’s head (sometimes I get a little carried away, forgive me). Really though, words mean everything to you and if you are making someone feel something at the end of the day, well then, you’ve done your job.

My answer:


It’s a Wonderful Life: Every day I sit in front of the computer I end up talking to God, thanking Him that I get to do this writing thing. I’m intent not to let a day go by without thanking Him for the privilege it is to express myself through my words. If a life changes because of it, then I’m all the more blessed knowing I’m living in His will. After all: It IS a Wonderful Life!

Which title describes you?



photo by flickr


Monday, May 25, 2009

Stonehenge Friends


I’ve been thinking on something lately. It’s mysterious. It’s beautiful. It’s uplifting and inspiring and I’m equally confused by it as I am grateful for it. I’ve been thinking of the recent development of online friends in my life. I hesitate to even write about this because I know there are varying opinions about just how close you can get with someone you’ve never met in person.

To that I’d reply, “But something is going on here.”

My blogging friends remind me of Stonehenge. Why Stonehenge? First I’ll provide you with some details about the stones, and then I’ll hopefully make the connection for you as it occurred to me. Stonehenge is prehistoric monument—a grouping of thirty-some larger than human-sized stones erected between 3,000 BC and 1,600 BC. They form a circular pattern, with the single tallest stone in the middle. They are believed to be a plot of land where people came to worship or find sanctuary. Some stones rest in horizontal layers above two vertical stones. I love the mystery of the monument.

The parallel I find between Stonehenge and my blogging friends is one of deep connection and understanding. Many of these friends are as passionate about writing as I am and therefore pour their hearts into it knowing full well they may or may not be published. I’m inspired by so many posts I read daily. I find myself clicking on blogs like Anne’s to be reminded as I get caught up in the writing and marketing process, who and what is really important. One of her posts recently had me in tears and I felt overwhelmingly close to God after reading it. She mentors me through her writing more than she’ll ever know.

Recently, I’ve felt such a bond with some fellow bloggers it baffles me. I wish I could name every single one of them, but I am sure I will in time (you know who you are). I rejoice with friends who’ve gotten “the call” from an agent. I bond with those who are going to be featured in the same publications as me. I empathize with those who are caring for an elderly parent or who have lost someone close to them recently. I'm delighted I've found a critique group of blogging friends. Some blog posts from these friends have me cracking up, while I tear up after reading others. Somehow I’ve let these people in and I’m oddly comforted by that. They’ve changed my life, uplifted me and left me inexplicably grateful and filled with a deeper sense of connection.

Finally, the similarity between Stonehenge and my newfound blogging friends that stands out most to me is that one single tallest stone in the middle. I’m most drawn to people who are willing to be honest, those who risk enough to be vulnerable and authentic and I’m attracted to those who know what the stone in the middle represents.
~~Why don’t you have a go at it—what does that single stone in the middle represent in your life? What is it about that stone that attracts me and what do you think that stone represents for me and many of my blogging friends?


May you have a peaceful and reflective Memorial Day! Feel free to hop over to this blog to see what I wrote about the beauty of sacrifice.


*photo by Flickr

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Extra, Extra...Some Life Updates

I wanted to take a moment to update you on some key things going on in my life:

  • My daughter graduated from preschool this week.
  • My dad seems to be doing well. He was diagnosed with lung cancer in October and my heart and mind are with my folks.
  • I'm going to plant some Impatiens this weekend.
  • Unfortunately the bird was still flapping at our window as of yesterday (sadly, the peanut butter pine cone didn't distract him).
  • I'm working on my website. I plan to do a grand unveiling here soon. :D
  • Writing Updates: My women's fiction MS is in the hands of a respected agent, new doors continue to open and I'm walking right on through, my current WIP is up to 23,000 words and I'm pleased to announce I've just joined a solid critique group. More on this to come.

That's the latest. I'll be back with you on Monday.

~ Wendy

Friday, May 22, 2009

Stuck On Ourselves


It's glue. Yes, that would be glue all over my youngest child.

Why then is she smiling you'd like to know. To that I'd respond--doesn't it feel good to be stuck on ourselves sometimes? We puff up with pride, pat ourselves on the back and for a lapse of time easily forget where any good thing in our lives comes from.

This picture speaks volumes to me about when I get stuck on myself. Why? Because I was the one who had to extract all the glue. It took time. It took effort. I had to hold wee one still as I washed off every last bit of coagulated icky sticky thread of glue.

Isn't that just what God does with us when we insist on being prideful? It takes him time. It takes him effort. He has to convince us to be still so he can remove all that we've stuck on ourselves.

I'm just so thankful our God cares enough to lovingly remove the glue we've adhered to us, a God who loves us too much to let us stay stuck on ourselves.


Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tongue Treasures




Today I'm going to provide you with a brief list of words that tantalize my tongue. It might be nice to see these words strung in a row on a laundry line blowing in the breeze or I could just say them often...



The Words:

Alliteration (very fitting, right?)
Superfluous
Fluctuate
Eloquence
Recidivism
Palpitations
Petunia
Chinchilla
Melancholy
Mellifluous
Constellation
Ramifications


What words do you enjoy saying for the sheer pleasure of how they make your tongue feel?




*photos by flickr

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Mother-In-Law Is Me


Before you think I’m going to trip you up on some convoluted riddle (you know, my brother’s uncle’s sister’s aunt’s mom is the relative of my monkey’s uncle – what?) I’ll tell you what the title of this post is all about. I’ve included a mother-in-law in my women’s fiction novel (under agent review). She’s pernickety and particular. I thoroughly enjoyed writing about her obsession with having to close all drawers and cabinets before she’s able to fall asleep.


Get this: the other night I’m in my bed and something is niggling at me. I get up and go over to my cherry stained dresser. Some t-shirts were peeking out of a few drawers. I tucked them back in and closed the drawers, feeling satisfied I could go to sleep. Yikes: The Mother-In-Law Was ME! As you’re reading this, you can probably guess that wasn’t as dramatic of a surprise to me as I just made it out to be. However, isn’t that one of the best parts about writing—drawing out bits and pieces of yourself and adapting them into your characters appropriately?


One of my favorite quotes on writing is from Stephen King’s, On Writing. He writes, “I think you will find that, if you continue to write fiction, every character you create is partly you.” I’d love to learn your thoughts on this – do you agree? Disagree?


As a side, my mother tells me all the time she thinks I’d make a good counselor because of my fascination in people, my empathy and my longing to help others. I try to explain to her that there is so much psychology in writing. Sometimes, instead of calling myself a writer, I wish I could say, “I’m a student of people. I study people. I’m a connoisseur of humans.” Okay, I had a little too much fun with that. Anyway, I believe to write well you need to have a firm grasp on people. You need to know typical behavioral responses, psychological reasoning, defense mechanisms, etc. These things aren’t difficult to discover or learn about. In my case, with the mother-in-law, I just looked inward.


But isn’t studying people fun? Isn’t it part of the enigmatic lure and seduction of writing?


Writers: Do you believe every character you create is partly you?


Readers: Are you able to find some way to identify with every character you read about?

*photo by flickr

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Questions For Any Given Moment


I've been both blessed and cursed with a questioning mind. I loved reading this blog yesterday, questioning how I am planning and hoping for the future. Jill's blogs are filled with insight!


I only have to be asked one question to launch into a myriad of others in my spinning brain. Today I'm going to give you the basics...you know WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHY, WHEN & HOW.


In 5th grade I learned the above W's (& 1 H) are the essential questions to ask when you want to get to the root of a situation, when you want to get the details.


Good Questions for Any of Us to Ask at Any Given Moment:


WHO am I trying to please/impress?

WHAT am I doing with my life?

WHERE am I headed?

WHY do I care?

WHEN am I at my best/worst?

HOW important is it?


Can you think of a GOOD QUESTION to ask at Any Given Moment?


*photo from flickr


Monday, May 18, 2009

Achilles’ Heel & The Flapping Bird




The mythological Achilles had a weakness. Paris shot a poisonous arrow into his heel, the one place where, despite his strength he was vulnerable. Achilles isn’t the only one with an area of weakness. You have one. I have one (one, HA). In parenting my weakness is operating on little sleep. It’s being tired. With writing my weakness is the temptation to write just for me. I’ve learned to work at making sure my works are received the way I’m intending, that they are understood by the reader.

I think its imperative we know what our Achilles Heel is. With this knowledge we can do more to protect it. It would be tragic to be taken down because of one small area when the rest of us is thriving and filled with strength.

And now…The Flapping Bird

For the past two days a bird has been smacking its rust-colored belly into the bay window in our playroom. Again and again and again. Yesterday I knocked at the window as an attempt to shoo the bird away. This morning when I came downstairs, I noticed my husband had taped a picture of a Ford Hybrid to the window AND propped up a Build-A-Bear black bear (I’m guessing to scare it). I had a good laugh, but then realized that we can be like that bird.
~~We can get caught up in destructive or ineffective patterns of behavior. Someone once stated that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. ~~

Here’s where it all comes together—where Achilles meets the Bird: I believe our greatest weakness could be the lack of knowing what our weaknesses are (or where to turn to for help, but that’s another story for another time). We fly into windows trying to get somewhere. A metaphorical arrow shoots us down to render us incapable of carrying out our role with integrity and power. If we want to grow, we must change. We must be honest about where our “heel” is. We need to stop flapping into glass and instead learn to fly on.

Any tips to help us stop the bird?


Come read what I write about language over at this blog later today.




*photos from flickr

Friday, May 15, 2009

Five Truths & A Dare


Remember sitting cross-legged with a pillow in your lap, the smell of nail polish punctuating the air, your new favorite pajamas draped across your prepubescent body as you felt stirred and anxious anytime someone from the sleep-over would mention the game Truth or Dare?


I remember the above scenario and remember it well. I always chose Dare. The idea of being asked a question and knowing how lying for me was as unnatural as getting a bikini wax, I preferred to do the crazy and wacky stunts that preteen girls could invent with a surprising amount of creativity seasoned with cruelty.


Today I’m going to play TRUTH with you.


I’m going to tell you Five Truths (given, I still feel somewhat in control because no one is asking me anything specific and I can pick which things I decide to share…anyway…)


My Five Truths:



  1. I am highly skilled at catching bullfrogs.

  2. The nicest gift I ever received from someone I hardly knew was a box of spices when we first moved into our home about a year ago.

  3. The most spontaneous thing I’ve ever done is climb an abandoned building with some friends while in college (not recommended--not safe).

  4. I quite like myself after I treat myself to coffee. After hours of grocery shopping and downing a large iced hazelnut latte, I found myself throwing my toddler up in the air and covering her in kisses as we reached the car earlier this morning. Boy, coffee sure makes me nice.

  5. When I was fifteen everything about my life changed. I’ll leave you in suspense on this one because I’ll probably write about it in detail someday soon. Feel free to make guesses if you comment.

And now time for the DARE.
I DARE you to reveal one of your TRUTHS!


*photo from flickr

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Writer's Block & The Stuck Drawer


Yank
Slam
Smack
Ouch
Urrghh
Ugh
Slam
Tug
Yank
Rrrrr

These are the sounds I make while trying to open a stuck drawer. The frustrating attempt of prying a drawer open reminds me of what I do when I encounter writer’s block. Writer’s block for me doesn’t entail not knowing what to write about or not having anything to write about, but it’s more HOW do I write about this or that thing. Angles, perspective, setting, flow, etc.—these are the things that stump me at times.


Think about the last time you tried to yank a stuck drawer open. Don’t our minds behave this way at times…jammed, stuck, lodged full of things both necessary and unnecessary?


I find the most effective way to dislodge the drawer is to locate a spatula. A spatula is good for freeing drawers. I shimmy the flat spatula into any slice, space or crack I can find to readjust the items in the drawer. And unbelievably this tends to work much quicker, creating much less frustration than my yanking and pulling as though my life depends on it.


Back to writing. I’ve read several blogs about what people do to free themselves of writer’s block. Responses included things like reading a book, watching a good movie, taking a walk (getting out in nature), putting the piece away for awhile…etc. I’m going to ask a different question.


What is your mental spatula? When you’ve tugged and jerked and have reached a sticking point in your writing, what mentally helps to ease the words back onto the page, to create character flow, to remedy that staggered scene?


Two of my mental spatulas:


Reading the dictionary


Knowing where my confidence comes from (after a rejection it’s not unusual for me to go through a brief time period of “beating myself up” (my own mental Fight Club). If I remember how I’m intimately aligned with God I’m able to get back to the craft)


What works best for getting your mental drawer open so you can access the rest of your tools once again?

*photo from flickr

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My Unusual Childhood Hero


I was recently inspired by a blog I follow to write the following:

When I was in grade school I had an unusual hero. While other girls my age were mimicking Madonna or Cyndi Lauper or faithfully watching every episode of Punky Brewster, I was entrenched in the book, Cheaper by the Dozen about the Gilbreth family with twelve children. I thought the dad in the story was a miracle worker. What I remember most is how he seemed to always find inventive ways to accomplish multiple things at once. He also tackled the finances with wit and a frugality like none I’ve witnessed since. He was silly, but brilliant in my eyes.

And now as I partner with my husband to raise three girls while writing daily, I find that I’m constantly participating in my own balancing act. I’m trying to balance the budget, balance my time and balance my sense of humor with practical wisdom. I thrive on creative ways to squish ten to-do’s on my list into a five minute time span. This is coming from a woman who learned to talk on the phone and pluck my eyebrows while breastfeeding. I considered that quite a feat.
~~I think I’m hitting upon the art of multi-tasking. Have you seen the commercial where Kelly Ripa zooms around her house doing laundry, making cookies as she completes approximately 400 other tasks? That’s what I’m getting at. I stand in awe of people who accomplish numerous things in a matter of minutes on a regular basis.

When I think of Mr. Gilbreth from Cheaper by the Dozen (or hysterical Steve Martin from the movie version) or even Kelly Ripa in that commercial (or let’s be honest even her real life), or my eyebrow-plucking, phone-talking, breastfeeding self, I think of the creativity, dexterity and mind power that goes into completing many things at once. Yet, I’m overly aware that some things get dropped. Some things are compromised and not all things can be done with excellence.

As I reflect on my unusual childhood hero, Mr. Gilbreth I conclude that I’ve always longed to make the most of every minute of my life. I think I’m learning how to maximize my time, while also letting some things drop. Because after all, some things in life just gotta give.

What about you—can you let some things drop? Is it exciting for you to think of ways of getting more done in less time? Finally, did you have an unusual childhood hero?

Do Tell!



*photo by flickr

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Principle Of The Path by Andy Stanley


There’s a question you should be asking yourself right now. Andy Stanley helps to dissect that question in his latest book, The Principle of the Path. The question: Where are you headed? Stanley describes how “direction—not intention – determines our destination.” Stanley writes about some of his life decisions and highlights stories from the line of David, depicting many real life examples that show if you desire to get to where you want to be, you need to be walking in that direction. Distractions, listening to your heart, and refusing to accept that your decisions now have ramifications for later, all influence why you sometimes stray from the once desired path. Stanley writes, “My hope is that by becoming aware of this powerful principle, you will have the wisdom to know which path to choose and the courage to stay the course.”


I found myself quoting this book to my husband and friends in multiple conversations. With straightforward, honest language Stanley succeeds at challenging comfort with status quo. By means of probing questions, personal confessions, humorous accounts and Biblical wisdom, Stanley proves that where you will end up is directly influenced by the direction you are moving. I’d be quick to give this book to a loved one. The impact The Principle of the Path has upon your life is dependent upon how willing you are to be challenged, how open you are to recognizing your direction and potentially changing your direction when you are off track or even lost.


Why does the direction you are headed in matter? Andy Stanley answers that with, “God cares about the direction of your life.”


I’m thankful to be reviewing books such as this for Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Just One More




Oscar Schindler stands before a handful of Jewish people he’s become endeared to, lives he helped to save. With agony, he proclaims his frustration and regret. He outwardly confesses how he could have done more for the Jews, helped more, and saved more. Once he “gets” the impact he’s had he doesn’t bloat with pride. Instead, he’s plagued with wanting to do more. He looks down at his watch and then over at his car. He sees the lives he could have saved if he’d only given more, if he’d only done more.


This scene towards the end of Schindler’s List is one of the most memorable scenes from any movie for me.


Here’s why: I want to think like this. Let me explain. I want to have the “one more” mentality. I desire to absorb that visionary way of thinking. Given, I don’t want to lean into the regret or self-doubt expressions Schindler couldn’t help but have, but instead I want to have these thoughts as a motivator.


Every morning I wake up I want to remember that there is a reason I am here. That, in part, is why I write. This morning I read on a friend’s blog how very many people there are out there trying to get published. It forced me to consider, why do I do it, why do I pour so much of myself into my writing? I believe I’d write even if I were the only one to read my works. However, I do want to leave an impact. I may not be saving lives through my writing, but I’ll also never know the extent of my influence through the written word.


Seldom do we realize just how much we are influencing those around us.


I don’t know about you, but I want to be a “just one more” kind of woman.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Let's Make A Pact


I don’t know if it will happen to me. I’m guessing it may happen to some of you. Here’s the deal--I want you to think about, I mean really think about what you’ll say if you get your fifteen minutes of fame. I want you to think about it, not so you’ll sound canned or rehearsed, but so you won’t say the following, “Everything just feels so surreal.”


Surreal: Having an oddly dreamlike quality. (Definition from Dictionary.com)


I can’t tell you how many times I hear that word and cringe. It’s catch-all. It’s overused and its meaning has been rubbed out of it and worn down as much as a river rock.


I’ve heard it from American Idol finalists, Miss America winners (I don’t make a habit of watching these contests now, but used to in my “younger” years), Oscar winners, and the recent Kentucky Derby jockey who won. Several weeks ago I even heard it from a witness who watched the Cowboys Training Facility unexpectedly fall to the ground.


This is what I’m asking of you, (knowing full well that some of you are aspiring novelists who will shine in the limelight at one point or another) I’m asking you to do your creative field justice and come up with something new. Don’t, oh, please don’t look straight into the camera or the eyes of the interviewer and say, “It’s all just so surreal.”


It may be. I know it may feel that way. But I trust you to come up with a new statement to describe your feelings. Let’s make a pact on this, eh?


What are your thoughts? Has this word ever seemed overused to you?

Friday, May 8, 2009

I Have The Blank Of A Blank


I’m not about to tell you a dirty joke. Instead, we are going to use are noggins as we come up with some fun phrases to get better acquainted.

The following are fabricated, but they’ll give you a sense of what I’m looking for:

I have the voice of James Earl Jones having inhaled one too many helium balloons.

I have the patience of a sloth fetching its next meal.

I have a beard with the texture of a muskrat that’s crawled up on my face and died. (I’m really hoping no one comes up with one like this, seeing as most readers of my blog are female.)

I have the tenacity of a woodchuck who’s chucked one too many pieces of wood.
(Not sure why my brain is stuck on rodent-like creatures, but anyway, you get the idea).

Now, for my real and telling example:

I have the patience of a mosquito repeatedly ramming its body against a porch screen. (God is still chiseling away at me.)

Happy Friday!
And now....You have the blank of a blank?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Found in Translation


You've heard the expression lost in translation. I'm about to share a story with you that represents something found in translation.

Yesterday we received word from one of our sponsor children through Compassion International. When I read the letter I was deeply moved. I must admit I'm not sure of the language the letter was originally written in; Haitian, French or Creole. But it's the translation I plan to tell you about today.

These lines jumped out at me, "She would like to ask you some little questions," and then, "She asks God to throw his blessing upon you and asks you to take that verse as a souvenir."

Do you see it? The impact, the endearing impact of the translation! As I thought about this, sifting it through my mind, I realized that this could just be the way our sponsor child's words were translated, but then it hit me. Even if it is just a translation, something is found in it.

She must be imagining her questions for us as little, when to me they are enormous. The mere fact she is demonstrating curiosity and interest in others in her current living situation is beyond encouraging for me.

Then, my favorite...her asking God to throw his blessing upon us! I think of a woman making a bed watching the quilt fall over the bed, checking to make sure it covers the whole bed. I think of how before I leave the house I "throw" on some perfume, which leads me to think of how we are to be fragrant offerings for the Lord. I love the idea of God throwing his blessing on me.

Finally, she wrote a verse that she asked we keep as as souvenir. Why do we buy souvenirs? To remember something special to us, a time shared we don't want to forget. By her writing that verse she struck a cord in me and now I will forever remember her letter and that verse!

If you'd like to learn more about Compassion International, check out they're blog.


**Katie got the most correct answers on my impromptu quiz the other day. Please visit her blog. I've loved getting to know her through blogging. She's a dedicated writer and mom.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Can of Worms


I don’t know if you had a chance to check out Nathan Bransford’s blog yesterday, but if so…Yowzer! Nathan has a tendency to be straightforward and informal on his blog, at the same time as being wonderfully informative and educational. Did he have good intentions? I believe he did. Very few other agents spend the time and attention providing insight to unpublished authors. He has a strong track record of trying to help. So what of it?


~~Yesterday he broached a sensitive subject for writers. He asked if perhaps too many of us have our identity tied into the title, “WRITER”. Given, he’s a smart guy. He knows that a good many of his followers are aspiring novelists. As I read his words and over 350 comments, I was utterly fascinated. Someone once told me I should be a lawyer because of my ability to see the black, see the white and somehow understand it as gray. Because they said that, should I call myself a lawyer (just joking on this one)?
~~Here’s the deal, if your identity is entirely dependent on being called a writer, I think there’s a problem. Don’t get me wrong, I am deeply impassioned about writing. I do call myself a writer and I know that without writing I would not be filled with this fire and this call in my life.
~~What Nathan had to realize is that he threw that question to the wind before thousands of people probably already fighting insecurities about the craft, whether they’ve been published or paid for their writing or not. He reneged his original challenge that maybe writers are more like hobbyists. Boy, did that word have people stirred.
~~I’ve been both published and paid for my writing, but writing is not who I am. Is it an integral part of who I am? Absolutely. Would I feel shorted in some way if I were unable to ever write again? Absolutely. But because my identity is in Christ I can handle rejection. I can handle it if I’m never published again and I can handle it if someone wants to question whether writing is a hobby or a craft. Why can I handle it? Because I KNOW. That’s what makes a writer from a non-writer. You don’t need someone else to define it for you. If you go through life waiting for others to throw labels on you, get ready to be called a whole lot of things other than writer. Read this book about Punchinello if you want more insight on this.
~~One way to look at this question, as big as the Hindenburg, is for me to admit about my writing, “It’s not who I am, it’s what I love to do.” For me this doesn’t steal away the mystery, passion or impressions of the muse when I write it. When I think of things I’m passionate about, I think of what I want to be said about me at my funeral. I know, morbid…but stick with me (I know I’m not alone in thinking things like this). I want someone to stand up and share what I stood for, what I was about and what I loved and if writing weren’t mentioned in that mix would I be sad? No, I’d be dead and I wouldn’t know any better. My point is that it should mean something to you, to me, to us if we call ourselves a writer. Who cares what it means to anyone else?
~~However, if you’re a wannabe writer and you haven’t fallen in love with the craft you probably feel weird calling yourself that, but hey, it’s your own conscience you need to wrestle with. What’s it to me? But if you’re like me and you dream of putting words on the page, you dream of characters and great plot lines and tense interactions…well, then calling yourself a writer should feel natural. And again, who cares? People will judge us no matter what. WE need to know who we are. I thank my God I know who I am and continue to learn more about who that is every time I write.
~~And about the can of worms Nathan opened up, some people like to eat worms. I know I sure ate it up, reading his blog and the abundance of comments. I liked the challenge. If we don’t want to be challenged, then how can we be sure of what we stand for, who we are and even what we believe?
~~Know who you are and know it well.

~~What defines you?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Things We Lose

~~ A Glimpse at the Cornucopia of
Things We Lose Around Our House ~~








































Can you name all seven
things we temporarily lose?


Monday, May 4, 2009

Goldilocks Age

Goldilocks Age
My father fell and bumped his head today.
My toddler fell and bumped her head today.
Swine flu is swirling in the air, infectious, contagious…in the news.
So much frenzy going on out there.
So much going on in here.
All the leaves popped on the trees in three days time.
Spring is trying on summer like a pair of ballroom gloves.
I am in the middle place, between too young and too old
--A Goldilocks age, ideal for caring, able and strong.
I reach for my toddler’s hand.
I grab for the phone when it rings.
Have you been here, at this place of letting go and letting go?
Toddler cradles in my lap. I tickle under her chin to inspire a laugh.
Father’s speech is fading, deflecting the hope cancer has conspired.
Outside the air hangs still, holding all possibility, transferring anything.
I wait.
One will grow. One will not.
I am in this middle place, too far from young, not aged enough to be old.
Meet me here and see how I hold my hands out, spread them eagle-like,
As I wait for the wind to move me to let go.
~~~~
I wrote Goldilocks Age this weekend. Go check out Live Beautiful to see what I wrote about laughter and laugh a little! I know I need it.
~ Wendy

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Expired Thoughts


When is the last time you checked the expiration date on the medicine in your medicine cabinet?

How about the dates on some of your salad dressings and food in your fridge?

I have a point here (and it involves something more than spring cleaning)...


Just as consuming either one of the expired items from above could cause potential harm, I also believe holding onto expired thoughts have the same damaging effect.

Think:

Hurtful Words

Rejection

Betrayal

Revenge

Jealousy

Anger

Greed

Lust

Self condemnation

Pride

Painful Memories

God wants us to extinguish these thoughts, finish them, throw them in the trash. When I first started this blog several months ago I hoped it would be an impetus for me to change and grow. I'm reminded even as I write this today, my source and means for change comes from God. He can renew our minds. Through his spirit we can learn to think differently, fight or not. It's worth it.

Because hanging onto some of those old thoughts, entertaining them and stewing in them is the equivalent of feeding your body outdated salad dressing or medicine that has far exceeded its expiration date. Nothing good can come of it. The result, a bad stomachache...or worse.

And now if you're anything like I've been at different times of my life you're thinking, "Great, Wendy. That's all well and good, but how do I even start to think differently?"

My answer is simple, something a child might even profess: God Loves You and You Are His.

If you really think on that and delve into what he shares in the Bible it's enough to change anything. In fact, he already changed everything. Now, it's up to us to believe it and THINK IT.

Now, go check that medicine cabinet (and a Bible).

Friday, May 1, 2009

Best Thinking


Where do you do your best thinking?

I was in the shower when I came up with the hook that transformed my query letter into something worth reading.

At night, just before my mind floats off into dreamland I’m agitated with delicious thoughts, character details, compilations of intriguing life dilemmas, believable dialogue, and perhaps one carefully crafted sentence.

When I’m staring out over a body of water I’m also usually bombarded by beautiful sentences, inventive plot lines or creative inspirations.
Interesting how each of these places is not really conducive for writing. I’ve learned to have pen and paper on “my person” (I love that saying) just about anywhere I go. Okay, I don’t bring any writing utensils in the shower. I will admit though, I burst out of the shower once done (toweled or clothed, of course) and race to the computer to get it all down before I forget anything.

I once read whenever you have an important decision to make you should go to a cemetery. Walk around. Sit on one of the benches for awhile. It has a way of putting everything into perspective.

So, where do you do some of your best thinking?

Bonus: Name two cartoons characters that go somewhere specific to think, then name that place.