Wednesday, September 29, 2010

8 Things I’m Learning

Keeping it simple on this I 8 Wednesday. If you’re not learning, you’re not livin’. There’s my new quote. Need a T-shirt brandishing those exact words.

Here’s what I’m learning:

  1. What life looks like in the waiting room. My manuscript generated interest. Exceptionally cool. So now I wait. God has been teaching me a lot about trust in this time. Love that I have a new novel brewing.

  2. Read this post by Courtney Fassler Walsh for my #2. Blew me away.

  3. How insanely in love I am with dogs. Already planning how we’ll afford number two next summer.

  4. How insanely masochistic it is to be part of the publishing industry. Did I mention the wait? (Sara Richardson writes about waiting on her cool blog, Hope to Life today.) And mine has been a puny wait so far. Laughable. A wee little wait. God laughs. I laugh. I hear you laughing. You can stop now.

  5. What it feels like to have a gay sister whom I love deeply.

  6. How much God desires my attention when about 100,000 things compete for it at any given moment.

  7. How to intentionally secure time with my husband and to exert heaping amounts of energy lovin’ into my children.

  8. What it’s like to live without a dad. How to break from the sadness this inspires and live joyfully because I’m alive and here for a reason. For a time.

    What are you learning?

*photo by flickr
**Check out my article in Exemplify this month,
When It Is Time to Heal from a Broken Relationship

Monday, September 27, 2010

Writing a Chubby Checker Novel

C’mon baby, do the twist. An absolute essential in guaranteeing your work comes across fresh and appealing requires you to throw in a twist. And not just one. If you can keep the reader guessing and scratching their head every chapter, you are accomplishing the key goal of gripping them.
The ultimate feeling you want to leave your reader with is one of satisfaction.
Picture a bag of bread. As you write, you’ll want each scene to cause readers to move on to the next one. You are spinning the bag of bread, tightening it, ceasing the air flow. You’re producing tension—causing your reader to gasp for breath. Then when the bag is raveled with the perfect amount of tension what do you do? You let the bag unravel and guarantee satisfaction for the reader. You let ’em eat their bread.
I’ve begun (reading and writing) novels and ditched them because the twist factor isn’t strong enough. Not every novel must be peppered with spine tingling suspense, but there are creative ways to incorporate surprises. Readers love to say I never knew that was coming.
I’m thrilled because I landed on the twist for my next novel. I had to wait for it. Months. I had to wait months for it, but I’m thankful I did. I’m hoping it will be well worth the wait. Don’t just throw any twist at a character. You’ll know when you’ve come across a winner because it will feel like a bone has snapped back in its joint. It will slide into the story seamlessly.
Most of you know I’m a fan of dancing. Fresh baked bread also happens to be another of my favorite things. And somehow I’ve incorporated both analogies into this post. C’mon baby, do the twist with a bag of bread in your hands!
How good are you at doing the twist? Do you love a Chubby Checker novel?
*photos by flickr

Friday, September 24, 2010

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

Is what you see what you get?

*photos by flickr

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


This past weekend I was surrounded by the loving, the motivated and the crazy. I reveled in learning and making connections at the ACFW conference every waking moment. A glimpse of heaven.


I was so grateful to be surrounded by…

women with the the same taste as me and the same vision for the industry

women who love to laugh like I do

stellar literary agents

women of like mind

peeps encouraging me to get my dance on in the hotel room

(yes folks, I got to dance!)


women who have been through what I've been through


wise and uplifting women

new friends

Praise God for a time like that. Praise God.

*If I took a photo w/ you and you’re not posted here, no worries. There’s always Facebook and I’ll be slapping some up there within the next few days.

**And if you weren't able to make it but would have loved to have been there, you can count on the fact I would have loved for you to have made it too. There's always next year!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

8 Thinks Not to Think While Writing

What fancy words can I add to make this sound important?

(If you’re trying to make it sound important there’s a good chance it’s not really all that important. Even if it really is important, fancy words won’t help)
Who can I impress with this work?

(Why do you write? Writing to impress greatly increases the chances you’ll water down your work)
How famous will this make me?

(If you want fame, go to Hollywood. Screw your priorities on straight and write for the love of the craft)
How can I make this character sound authentic?

(Ordinarily not a horrible question, but the fact you’re asking it makes me wonder how authentic the character is)
I need to make this perfect (especially if you are working on a rough draft)

(Human perfection is a fallacy. God is the only perfection)
How would so and so word this?

(You aren’t so and so. You’re you. So sound like it)
I need to make some money on this one.

(If you’re focus is on the green, your work may come off green as well)
I don’t care who is reading this.

(Might as well be writing it in a journal then)

Have any thinks not to think while writing you want to share?

*Thanks to Dr. Seuss for the inspiration for the title of this post
**photos by flickr
***I probably won’t post anything this Friday or on Monday. I’ll be at the ACFW conference.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Catching Moondrops by Jennifer Erin Valent

I walked down a dusty lane in Calloway, Virginia in the late 1930’s as soon as I picked up Catching Moondrops. I was there. And this is Jennifer Valent’s third book in the Fireflies in December trilogy. Immediately impressed with the gripping characters and tension-building story, I found this book difficult to put down.

Jessilyn Lassiter’s fiery personality lights up the pages as she falls deeper in love with long time friend, Luke Talley. The town erupts in disturbing controversy when a young, black doctor, Tal Pritchett comes to Calloway to practice medicine. Tensions flare. The Klan incites incident upon incident of cruelty.

My attention swayed between the pleasantness of Jessilyn and Luke’s love story and the hatred the Klan spread around town. Valent incorporates ideas of faith in a tender and appealing way. Catching Moondrops made me think about how I’d react in a similar situation.

Valent uses clever descriptions and moves the story along at a rapid speed. I was swept up and I’d recommend this read. (As a side, this isn’t the type of book I’m usually drawn to, but I’m thankful I read it because I enjoyed it.)

Tyndale provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Not a Balloon but a River

I used to think my dreams were balloons. To be held high, admired by looking up. Things that could pop at any given moment.

I’m beginning to see my dreams much more as rivers. To bathe in. Things to respect because they move through. Dreams take me.

A balloon is made of flimsy material. Blow enough air in, it pops and shrivels.

A river surges onward, navigating through its course with life-giving water.

A balloon always floats up, aimlessly up. It’s easily influenced by the wind.

A river knows there are times for placidity and other times to roar.

A balloon in its prime provides temporal enjoyment, fleeting.

A river also has the potential to dry out or even overflow. It relies on a great source to pour into it.

Balloons attract the eyes of little children.

Rivers attract everyone in need of water.

Balloons are easily lost or tangled in branches or wires.

Rivers careen and form estuaries, creating their own path.

Balloons are harsh sounding when they pop.

Rivers flow, instilling a delirious calm as they smooth rocks and push toward greater bodies of water.

My dreams aren’t balloons. They are rivers.

What are your dreams?

*photos by flickr

Friday, September 10, 2010

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

What are you waiting for?

*photos by flickr

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

8 Reasons I’m Pumped for ACFW

In a little over one week I’ll be at the ACFW conference. I’m excited to say the least. And here are eight reasons why:
  • Adult Conversations.

  • Finally, I’ll get to meet friends I’ve been blogging with for years. I’ll meet other writing contacts as well, new people I can get to know, laugh with, and even dance with. Surely there’ll be dancing. (At least in our room there will be—perhaps it will be me alone dancing, but I’ll dance like I’ve never danced before.)

  • My meals will be without interruptions. And even if I am interrupted, it will be by another adult. Ah, surrounded by grownups. (Rumor has it there’s a chocolate party one night…need I say more.)

  • I’ll be able to close the door when I go to the bathroom without expecting incessant knocks or a little someone to bust in on me. And in return for having this wonderful privacy, I promise not to bust in on any agents with my proposal in hand. Yeah for privacy!

  • I can get dressed without children commenting on my body and I’ll change out of my pajamas before noon.

  • There’s a chance I’ll meet my future agent, editor, or friends.

  • I’ll have plenty of opportunities to uplift and encourage other writers and I’ll get to celebrate the winners of the Genesis contest at the banquet.

  • I’m pitching two novels at the conference and as I write this I have most of my ducks in a row. Some of them keep trying to make a break for the waves, but I’ll get ’em in line on time. All they really want to do is dance.

What excites you most about attending conferences?

*I’m also excited because I’d planned on attending the Festival of Faith & Writing last April and had to cancel due to a sad family event. Although not going crushed me, I see now how God continues to orchestrate all things for good.

**photo by flickr

Monday, September 6, 2010

Who Works You to the Bone?

Labor Day. I know exactly the topic you want me to dive into today—work!
Lately I’ve been thinking about why I spend hours upon hours sharpening my craft. Who’s behind my back cracking the whip? Handing me deadlines. Putting the pressure on, squeezing words out of me as though I’m a literary tube of toothpaste.
Who’s working me to the bone?
My answer might surprise you.
It’s not an agent. I don’t have one yet. The search will begin soon.
It’s not an editor (see above).
It’s not my critique partners. While they’ve been nothing but encouraging, they don’t order me to write. There’s no quota I’m expected to meet.
It’s not my family or friends. While my closest loved ones know I’m slaving away writing books, and all of them are eager to receive free copies someday, my fingers don’t fly over the keyboard because of them.
It’s not me. I’m disciplined, there’s no question there, but to write and edit with such determination, I rely on an inhuman strength.
What, you say. Then, who? Who turns your dreams into nightmare editing sessions? Who makes you pull the car over so you can jot a quick note about a character description? Who forces 1,000 words out of you every day or coaxes you to edit until your brain feels like soggy oatmeal? Who, then?
It’s a tag team effort.
God. I love to learn and grow. God knows this so He wired me with a thirst for creativity. My faith is such an influencing factor on why I write—why I put the hours in. It’s a form of service, pleasing God, a response to a given responsibility. God lovingly works me to the bone, until I write from that core place, the exposed place where honesty meets imagination.
As God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life, so He breathes a vision into each of us.
(Am loving Walking on Water: Reflections of Faith and Art, by Madeleine L’Engle. She addresses the above topic with such finesse)
My characters. As I’ve pondered why I pour in the work that I do, guess whose faces surface the most? Yep. Those of my characters. They crack that whip. They’re intent on my getting their stories written with integrity. Polished to a shine. Even if that means reading through a manuscript for the twentieth time. Even if that means revisiting a manuscript I’d thrown in a dusty pile. Even if that means typing until I can’t feel my fingers because circulation has left the body.
I’m a huge advocate of knowing why we do the things we do.
It’s important to remind ourselves who we do it for.
I’ll continue to write. With an agent. With an editor. With critique partners, sharing my work with family and friends. And I’ll write a wee bit for me (okay maybe a lot for me, but that’s another post for another time). But mostly…mostly I write for God and my characters. That’s who I’m working for.
Who are you working for?
*click over to Exemplify to read my article, The Beauty of No.
**photos by flickr

Friday, September 3, 2010

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

Twilight, Harry Potter or The Hunger Games?

*photos by flickr

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

8 Communication Skills to Commit to Memory

I’m a huge proponent of communication. Strong communication skills come in handy in every aspect of life. The following is my list of must-know tips.

Maintain Eye Contact and/or Avoid Multitasking while on Phone

No brainer on this one. If someone is looking at you, you’re more likely to trust they’re listening to you. Also, it’s tempting to do dozens of things while talking on the phone (this coming from the woman who found a way to breastfeed, pluck my eyebrows, talk on the phone and flip through a magazine all at once), but one surefire way to listen effectively is to limit distracting activities.

Mirror or Repeat What You Heard

How validating it is when someone reiterates what you were trying to say. It shows they listened and they understood.

Ask Questions

This takes proving you’ve listened one step further. Once you throw a question out there, you’re communicating you’re intrigued. You want to know more. The conversation immediately opens up to involve more than your own interests.

Don’t Interrupt

I sometimes feel like a grade-schooler when I’m desperately trying to think of what I want to say in a conversation. At times my patience fails and I rush to get the words out before I forget them. It’s an obvious irritating habit, but one worth breaking. Interrupting is one of the best ways to demonstrate you don’t care to hear the other person out until they’re finished. It’s really a lack of respect.


If someone trusts you with confidential information or they open their heart up, it’s wise to remember what they’ve divulged. Commit certain things to memory. I know certain dates mean a lot to my mother so I record them in my calendar.

Watch Tone of Voice & Body Language

This is one of those sneaky ones. You may think you’re speaking calmly or that you’ve avoided the infamous eye roll, but this is a good one to keep in check. These are probably two of the quickest ways to slip up when it comes to communicating. A huff. Crossed arms. A whiny pitch can all sink a conversation within a matter of seconds.

Be Open-minded—Don’t Shoot Down Ideas

Sometimes it takes time for someone to figure out what they’re trying to say. Resist filling in the words for them. Also, allow people to express their feelings, as hard as they may be to hear. When brainstorming a solution, look for creative and unexpected thoughts. In the past you might have shot them down, but try to find value in all that’s expressed.

Learn How to Disagree Effectively

Steer clear of insults and harsh language. Constantly look for ways to uplift others in dialogue. This especially works during a confrontation or a disagreement. Believe most people have good intentions. Formulate your thoughts before you approach someone with anger. Pray about it. Be honest. Maintain respect and boundaries.

What communication skill(s) have you found invaluable?

*photo by flickr

Taking Time

college applications                 homecoming                            flag football                basketball             SATs   ...