Thursday, December 31, 2009

Stumps


Yesterday we returned from our long trek following a visit with my husband’s family. On the way home we were able to stop for the night to spend time with my husband’s grandmother. As we pulled into her driveway she pointed to her neighbor’s lawn. “See all his trees are gone?” She explained how the owner had his trees chopped down in order to sell them. He needed the money for mortgage and cutting down his trees allotted him the funds to be able to stay put. He had at least forty trees cut down.



That night as I slept, preparing for another long drive the next day I kept thinking of Grandma’s neighbor. I tossed and turned. I weighed his decision. Their neighborhood has been dubbed “the forest.” The lots are shrouded with towering pines, maples and plenty of other trees. As I thought about his bare land I felt a heavy weight press in on me. In the morning I sipped tea and stared out the window where frost would allow. My eyes glazed over when I noticed the snowy land bulleted with polka dots.





I saw stumps.

Dozens of stumps poked up from his backyard. I blew out a grieving breath for him. Why I felt such sadness over the trees confounds me. The feelings probably stirred as a result of a left over holiday thing (or a Lorax thing…but who’s to say for sure why…I just felt it).

Then, just as the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes on that one particular day, my thoughts bubbled over themselves. Ideas ballooned inside me. I understood the events of treeless neighbor man in a whole new light.

We sacrifice. We give. We make decisions moment by moment. And we do all of this to fight for what we love. We choose our priorities. Second by second we demonstrate what we value. Maybe instead of waking up with his cup of joe strolling to his windows teary-eyed and simmering with regret, maybe treeless guy next to Grandma feels something entirely opposite. He might appraise his yard freckled with brown spots like the one found on the inside pages of The Giving Tree and instead of remorse or bitterness about selling his trees, maybe the man experiences an entirely different sensation.

Gratitude.

He may no longer have his trees to shade him, to hear the birds chirp overhead in, or to watch the canopy of leaves sway and rustle in the breeze. But he still has a window to go to when he wants to take in the outdoors. He’s still warm when night temperatures drop to frigid degrees in the twenties and below. He still has a home.

Every single second we make a choice about how we receive life. We can take in our circumstances and feel them push in on us to the point of sorrow and stress or…OR…we can be thankful we are still living and go from there. There is always somewhere to go from there.

Besides, stumps make a fine place to sit and think.

What is it for you today, are you seeing life house full or stump empty?
*photos by flickr
**next week I'll share about getting to meet my critique partner and blogging friend
***this is a special Thursday post b/c I missed blogging

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas


*I, Wendy promise never to start up a new career as an artist. (Artwork all mine—including the chicken pox decorated Christmas tree.)
**I’ll be away from blogging on and off for the next week.
***photo by Silver Essence Photography
****In case you didn't see...artwork by Wendy Paine Miller. :D Merry Christmas, people!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Beautiful Dust


There is a rich dichotomy in faith.

We are beautiful.

We are dust.
~~We ought never to think too highly of ourselves. We ought never to forget the price Jesus paid to define us beautiful.




Does this make your head spin? My head is whirling at the equal truths. I am no one without my Savior. Dust. Here today, gone tomorrow. I am also a vessel of immeasurable worth, one who is to let my light shine before men (and women). Any and all my worth is because of Jesus. I’m shimmery dust.

I’m telling you, this one baffles. It keeps me exactly where I need to be--humble before the throne. Any glory I receive I aim to direct it back to the Lord. To shine my light heavenward.

Ascension of illuminating, radiant dust in the sky.

Many of us are on the path to publication. We want our books and/or our writing to be successful. By navigating the slippery rocks in Pride Waters we need to evaluate our motives, our insecurities and our trust in God. We all fall prey to puffing ourselves up while promoting our work. We are vulnerable to forgetting who gave us the mind, passion and giftedness to write. There’s a shifty bridge between selfish ambition and writing for God’s glory. We have to choose a side. We are misguided to remain confused wobbling in the middle of that bridge.

I found the insight in this Novel Journey post to be invaluable, honest, and fascinating. It spurred the thoughts for my post today.




What do you think about being beautiful dust?



*photos by flickr
**My music is still there. No worries. I decided to take it off autoplayer. But it’s still there waiting for you to click play.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Armadillo Writer


Armadillos are unique creatures. Recently I decided I share a lot in common with the armadillo (leave it to me to make a connection like this). Water is to them what writing is to me. I’ll explain. Like I could leave you hangin’ on that one.

Armadillos can hold their breath for four to six minutes at a time.
I can write four to six hours at a time while in a distraction free environment.

Armadillos have a strong dog paddle.
I appreciate writing in the zone when words spill effortlessly and seamlessly on the page. I love the dog paddle because the arms do most of the work. I probably don’t need to mention that I write with my hands not my feet.

Armadillos can swim across larger bodies of water. They are good swimmers.
I’ve written three novels (and a slew of other works) and I’m not planning on stopping any time soon. I consider writing a gift from God. I work to honor Him with this gift.

Their heavy shells make floating difficult so they gulp air into their intestines to make them more buoyant.
Writing is a personal craft for me. I inhale ideas for my characters. My heavy shell is how I view life, layered and complex. Gulping air into my intestines translates as my learning all I can to communicate through the written word in a buoyant (and fluid) way. Gulping air is another way to convey that I educate myself on the craft in order to go forth secure and confident so I can successfully traverse the daunting waters ahead.

Though they thoroughly enjoy it, armadillos aren’t normally associated with water.
My loved ones and friends don’t view me as a writer first. I’m a wife, a mom, and someone who enjoys laughing and reflecting. I don’t elevate my writing so it preoccupies conversations with those I love (especially those who show little interest). I have a rare handful of people I discuss my writing ideas with. This is the reason I’m so thankful for the online networks I’ve found. You all are my swimming armadillos. The water has become even more enjoyable with you around.

Armadillos walk along the bottom of streams or ponds.
I’ve never been entirely comfortable on the surface. I avoid forced small talk. I enjoy trying new things with my writing by testing my voice. The armadillo is the only creature I’ve heard of that walks along the bottom of a body of water. Like the armadillo, I thrive on doing my own thing.

A non-water example of how I’m like an armadillo is revealed when you look at their shells. Baby armadillos have soft shells (like a human fingernail) that get harder and more solid with ossification.
As a writer I’ve learned to toughen up. I’ve learned to take criticism and rejection. I’ve acquired a knowledgeable understanding of the craft by building upon all I’ve learned. I also trust in God’s plan. That’s enough to solidify anyone.

And now I’m going to throw my oddball connection your way...are you an armadillo writer? Or fill in the blank...
I am a ___________ writer
(and of course tell me why).

*I have no idea what armadillos and kissing have in common. Anyway, make sure to check out the kissing blogfest. I believe it began with A Wannabe Writer. Have fun reading and dreaming of mistletoe moments.
**photos by flickr

Friday, December 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.




























Your question:












Morning bird or Night owl?
























*photos by flickr
**I’m also over at
5 Minutes for Faith today
***Follow me on Twitter

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Twitter Surprise

Sh. I know I’m not supposed to be here on a Thursday. But really it’s just my thoughts. I think they want you to know I’m on Twitter now.


So what are you waiting for…come fly with me!

Check out that little blue bird on the right or click here for the direct link.

Chirp you later (yeah, I did. I'm still not awake yet and again...just my thoughts).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tagged

Remember 2nd grade when you ran around the playground at recess until you fought to regain your breath? Remember tag? I was fast in 2nd grade. I’m talking baby in The Incredibles fast. Age must have slowed my zippy legs down. I got tagged.

Katie Ganshert tagged me to answer the following questions:

What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?
The last thing: Notes for my fourth novel.
The first thing that I still have: A recipe for Snow Ice Cream that includes “shuger and venila.” I also have a journal from when I was eleven. I have a story in there about a talking Teddy Bear.

Write poetry?
I dabble.

Angsty poetry?
Sure, emotions are good writing tools. Read it more than write it.

Favorite genre of writing?
To write? Women’s fiction. To read? Literary works. Women’s fiction. I enjoy character-driven novels. Really, I’ll read anything. Lately I’ve been a little obsessed with the dictionary.

Most annoying character you've ever created?
Annoying..interesting word. I’d say the grandfather in the novel I’m currently editing. He’s a sick man and I believe he will annoy readers.

Best Plot you've ever created?
I like the way the story I’m editing unravels with twists and interwoven themes. The story idea for my second novel is very original (one of those where I actually debate whether it has ever been done before). I also have a compelling outline for novel #4 and a strong premise/POV for #5.
Coolest Plot twist you've ever created?
It’s happening in Noble Efforts to Engulf the Moon. Two characters end up switching roles in a satisfying way. It’s so fun to reread as it happens.

How often do you get writer's block?
I had writer’s block the entire time I breastfed. Since getting back in the game I’ve yet to experience this. Sometimes I’m bombarded with so many ideas I have trouble choosing the best ones to put on the page.
~~~Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I don’t feel like writing. But since I don’t live based on feelings…I write and I’m not blocked by that. Writing is one of the best ways I know how to feel fully present, awake and engaged in life so I don’t tolerate blockage.

Write fan fiction?
Nope.

Do you type or write by hand?
Both. I take a lot of notes by hand. I have sticky notes littered all over my house and car. But the meat goes on the computer.

Do you save everything you write?
Pretty much. Even the sticky notes when a novel is finished.

Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?.
Yes, if it’s haunting me or if something about it feels unfinished.
What's your favorite thing you've ever written?
I like the characters most in Noble Efforts to Engulf the Moon. And I’m fired up to write the next novel. There are lines that I’m editing where I know I’ve nailed it.
~~~I feel like I’m choosing among my kids. They’re all my babies and it’s hard to pick. My goal is to improve every time I sit to write.
What's everyone else's favorite story that you've written?
I received great feedback about my first novel. People really got into the characters. My writing group has enjoyed some of my short stories. I’ve never had one person read all of my novels/short stories so I don’t think I can answer this one.

Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
Not really. My second novel involves a married couple. Their romance is based on enduring a horrific situation together. Not so much kissy kissy stuff as long haul compatibility.

What's your favorite setting for your characters?
I’ve spent most of my life in New England. It’s where my writing came to life again. Perhaps I feel I owe it to my novels to have them based in the Northeast.

How many writing projects are you working on right now?
Editing my third novel. Furiously taking notes for my fourth novel. I write devotionals for several websites, articles, short stories and book reviews. On any given day I could be drafting or working on any of the aforementioned.

Have you ever won an award for your writing?
Depends on whether you count Honor of Distinction on my transcript an award. I earned it by writing exceptional essays in college. I also won a title contest in 9th grade English. It was an impetus to get me thinking about the writing life.

What are your five favorite words?
Palpitations. Accentuate. Radiance. Hilarity. Ethereal. (Because of my dictionary addiction this list was hard to truncate.)

What character have you created that is most like yourself?
I can easily identify with all of my MC’s. I’m probably most like Lily from my first novel and I believe I’ll be most like my MC from #4.

Where do you get ideas for your characters?
Sermons, dramatic events, articles, the endless tunnel in my brain, past experiences, people I know and observe, empathy…
Do you ever write based on your dreams?
Not so much my dreams, but my thoughts are extremely active just before I fall asleep. I find myself go through the mental debate…If you are a writer you need to write them down. You are not a writer if you don’t write them down. I often submit and…write them down.
Do you favor happy endings?
I like realistic endings, endings that complement the story as a whole. I cringe when an author tries to tie it all up with a prissy bow and it doesn’t match my sense of reality. Life isn’t about being happy. I like endings with some form of resolution.

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
At times. I told Comma to meet me out back after school. I’m pretty sure he’ll show, but I don’t know if I’ll know the right time to clock him.

Does music help you write?
Absolutely, though oddly I don’t always opt for having it on when I write. With the chirps from my little girls I find I fight off enough distraction. Also, I’m picky about songs. A song could screw up a mood I’m going for and throw me off course entirely. I might just be too influenced by it.

Quote something you've written. Whatever pops into your head.
Writers and photographers share a lot in common. While the photographer views life in a panoramic way to capture the best detailed shot, the writer absorbs the story behind the visuals. The writer is forever experiencing multisensory glimpses of story in the picture and beyond.
and/or
From Noble Efforts to Engulf the Moon:
“In moments of darkness and despair Lindsay attempted to picture her dad like the dwarfed Wizard of Oz hiding behind a curtain, but whenever she tried this she could only conjure up the bulbous octopus head yelling at Dorothy and her friends.”
and/or
All my socks have holes in them. (I write this not to show off my excellent writing skills, but to let you know all my socks really do have holes in them. Christmas is coming. I’m just sayin’.)
:D


Time for tagging…
Jessica from
BookingIt
Tamika from
The Write Worship
Jennifer Shirk from Me, My Muse and I
Danyelle from
Myth-Takes:
Christina Davis from
Change of Plans

And to the above five, give yourself that panda award while you’re at it. I appreciate your clever comments. I was supposed to select three. Just goes to show I’m not good at math or rules.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

25 Days, 26 Ways...By Ace Collins

*Special Tuesday Book Review Post*


In 25 Days, 26 Ways to Make This Your Best Christmas Ever Ace Collins provides illustrious reasons to celebrate Christmas with heightened exuberance. I’ll be honest when I first saw the book I thought it might be another feel good, pump up your faith, cheerleading book about the holiday of all holidays. Instead, this book is transforming the way I’m encountering the Christmas season. It has helped me reevaluate how I plan to engage in the festivities with newfound understanding and appreciation.

Collins does encourage throughout 25 Days, but it isn’t sappy or overly Pollyannaish. There are several chapters that address the overwhelming stress that accompanies this time of year. Collins gives practical advice about how to create a momentous Christmas season. By explaining the meaning of advent and favored song lyrics, the symbolism behind the candy cane and history of the Christmas tree, Collins touches upon aspects of Christmas that shed a new light on old traditions. He details specific ways to make attitude adjustments by smiling, putting away anger, looking for opportunities to witness and handling shopping with patience.

It is in this book that I first encountered the original intention behind the lyrics of the song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas." At each chapter’s end Collins writes a short suggested assignment. He wants readers to be involved in the celebration and giving of the holiday, not just passersby. Throughout the book it is obvious Collins is rooting for this to be the best Christmas ever. It’s a simple book, but one I highly recommend. I was uniquely refreshed and inspired by every single chapter. I thought maybe 25 Days was going to be a pump up your faith type of book. I was right. It pumped up my faith and I realize that’s exactly what should be happening this time of year.

Go buy it. There’s still time.


*I’m honored to review books like this for Zondervan.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Countdown & Awards

I’m not a mathematical person. This post will prove it. I’m a day off. The countdown to Christmas has begun. In 25 Days, 26 Ways to Make This Your Best Christmas Ever, Ace Collins reminds us of the wonderful message in the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas. (Check back tomorrow for a special book review of this excellent book.) I’m going to highlight the meaning behind the lyrics to The Twelve Days of Christmas today. Also, I’m throwing awards out there in cyberspace. No rules come with these awards. Only celebration.

On the first day of Christmas…a partridge = Jesus
On the second day of Christmas…two turtledoves = the Old Testament and the New Testament
On the third day of Christmas…three French hens = Faith, Hope & Love
On the fourth day of Christmas…four calling birds = the Gospels
On the fifth day of Christmas…five gold rings = the first five books of the Old Testament
On the sixth day of Christmas…six geese a-laying = Days of creation
On the seventh day of Christmas…seven swimming swans = gifts of the Holy Spirit
On the eighth day of Christmas…eight maids a-milking = the blessed ones from the Beatitudes
On the ninth day of Christmas…nine ladies dancing = gifts of the Holy Spirit (and my dear friend, Anne L.B. I visit her blog, Building His Body every weekday for spiritual wisdom)
On the tenth day of Christmas…ten leaping lords = the Ten Commandments
On the eleventh day of Christmas…eleven pipers piping = the faithful apostles
On the twelfth day of Christmas…twelve drummers drumming = those who BELIEVE

Today I’m excited to present 12 Drum Awards to those bloggers who have moved me by the music of their lives…
Susan Mills at A Walk in My Shoes
Jeanette Levellie at
Audience of One
Heather Sunseri at
Balance With Purpose
Gwen Stewart at Singer-Scribe
Ellie Kings at Matters of the Heart
Rosslyn Elliott at Inkhorn Blue
Janna Qualman at Something She Wrote
T. Anne at White Platonic Dreams
Kristen Torres-Toro at Write in the Way
Beth at This Mommy’s Life
Natalie Bahm
Rachel Held Evans


I’ll be sending more awards out in cyberspace soon because there are so many influential blogs out there. I thank each of the bloggers listed above for the ways they continue to move me.

*photos by flickr
**I’ll be over at
To Live Beautiful later today

Friday, December 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.






There’s a commercial out now that is unsettling to me. A man sniffs a pair of gloves and looks at them as an unfavorable gift. He rolls his eyes and says, “They smell like church.” I don’t know about you, but when I think of the fragrance of church and all the connotations that phrase stirs up, the last thing I envision is something unfavorable.











Your question this week comes on the heels of my description of the eBay commercial.


What does church “smell like” to you?

*photos by flickr

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wouldn't Be Caught Dead

You can learn a lot about a person by knowing what they wouldn’t do. Let’s crack the window on this. First I’m going to invite you to learn a bit about my MC from the novel I’m currently editing.

Here’s a list of things Lindsay wouldn’t be caught dead…

Saying: I’m game for anything. I’ll go anywhere.

Thinking: The world is my oyster.

Watching: Reality TV (a show like The Hills)

Acting: Flagrantly uninhibited

Eating: Restaurant food

Playing: A rowdy game of Charades

Reading: Cosmo

And now a window into me—here’s a list of what I wouldn’t be caught dead…

Saying: I quit.

Thinking: I don’t need God.

Watching: Boxing or ultimate fighting (the deal with the cages)

Acting: Uppity or above others
Eating: Anything from Fear Factor

Playing: Heavy metal music

Reading: Derogatory, racist blather/rants or statistic reports

Do you agree that you can learn a lot by knowing what a person wouldn’t do? Go for it. Write answers to the list (or partially answer) for either yourself or one of your MC’s.




*photos by flickr


Monday, December 7, 2009

Mental Limbo

The other day I was shoving clothes upon clothes into the washer, stuffing it fuller than a Christmas turkey when I received a clear message from God.

Lower your expectations.

What?

I stepped back. Then I pressed the power button to send the packed machine into a wet whirl and thought on it. And thought on it. And thought on it. Until finally I made sense out of God’s wisdom.

God was instructing me to play mental limbo, specifically with those in my life who don’t share a vested interest in writing or reading. Get them down from the pedestal by getting down. Bend. Shimmy. Do what needs to be done to see things in perspective.

People, even those who love you most, cannot meet your expectations.

Recently I’ve held this idea that those in my family and certain loved ones would celebrate my story ideas and revel in the writing process as much as I do at any given second…at every given second. (A mere sentence can incite a childlike frenzy in me.) I likened my awaiting hope and excitement from these people by comparing my passion to one who styles hair. A hairstylist might create an unbelievably arduous and stunning French twist and then turn to me eager for my response. I might offer a quick nod, a subtle show of acceptance, but because styling hair isn’t my thing…it’s not my passion, I wouldn’t go on and on about the details. Doubtfully would I want to learn how to reconstruct the style or ask about the details of how she learned how to accomplish the difficult hold. I simply wouldn’t have that much vested interest.

Such is the case with my loved ones and friends who don’t share my passion for writing and reading.

Lower your expectations.

This is to say nothing against those who don’t appreciate such literary things. It is my positioning that needs to change. My perspective.

Mental Limbo.

As I’ve been putting this mental lowering into practice over the last several days I’ve noticed that the lower I get in what I expect of others, God remains in his rightful place—seated as the MOST HIGH GOD.

People = fallible.

Even loved ones don’t always express a vested interest.

But God is always interested. Always invested…and always lifted up.

How about you? How low can you go? And have you found the same to be true about your passions in life—that God is the one most interested?




*photos by flickr