Friday, July 27, 2012

Moving Thoughts 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.
I saw the following on a recent show highlighting great Olympic moments. Reached in and grabbed me. Hasn’t let go.


Ever lose something, but somehow are better for it?
*I’m going to be offline on Monday. You know, pretending I’m competing in the Olympics & such.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Which Oz Reader Are You?

In honor of two of my children acting in The Wiz in a few weeks, I thought it might be fun to play with the better known, Wizard of Oz by asking which Oz reader you most identify with:

Scarecrow
You’ll read anything. You don’t care. You’re easy. Might not remember it tomorrow. Might not get the story. No biggie. It’s a book and that’ll do. It feels nice in your hands and there’s nothing like that book smell…unless of course you’re reading a Kindle.  :D

Cowardly Lion
You’re a closet reader. You have a hard time admitting that you’ve read Gone with the Wind seven times. What would others think? So you stick to one genre, afraid to branch out. Sadly, you’re also unwilling to discuss your real thoughts at book club. Tentative about even attending your book club meetings.

Dorothy
Bring it home. That’s what you’re wanting every time you open a book. You hunt for a theme, though find yourself readily confused by the startling set of characters you come across. Can you trust the story arc? The tension? The characters to guide you? Please, bring it home. Because after all…

Tin Man
Encyclopedias will do just fine for you, thank you. Well, that and every other written thing. Reading for you is all about the details. The experience includes learning new vocabulary, digging in to check the accuracy of research novels, and dissecting every facet the book offers.

Glinda
You’re a thoughtful reader through and through, applying character growth to your own life. And look at how kind you are loaning out books to your friends and family. You might as well establish a library with how readily you give and ask for nothing in return. “Follow the fellow’s Nook upload.” (Yeah, I tried. You try rhyming that bad boy.)

Wicked Witch
You want revenge. For the character in the novels you read, of course. You plot. Seethe. And wait until the climactic moment when alas the price is paid for killing your sister. No, no! The antagonist is melting…melting.

Wizard
You want a different ending. You discuss the book you’re reading with all your friends, insisting you could write a better version. Careful now, your head is so big and green someday you just might be called out for the charlatan you really are.

Munchkin
You’re content just to have a book in your hands. Joyful. And you’ll sing the praises of anything that entertains you. Ding-dong. Conscious she says is the name of the start. (Okay, so not born to rhyme. Good thing becoming a rap artist is not on my bucket list.)

Do tell, which Oz reader are you most like?

*photo by stock.XCHNG

Monday, July 23, 2012

Some Ugly That I Used to Know

No, I’m not talking about that meanie from my 5th grade lunchroom. Nope, not going there. I’m plunging in somewhere else—to my heart.

It’s disconcerting sometimes to reflect back to times in my life when I acted ugly.
And if I’m honest, I usually don’t have to reflect back that far.

Here’s the kicker—the real pulsing point I want you to take away today: At any given moment we have a choice to step out of the ugly. To repent and leave it in the past.
For animals this process is called molting. It represents a time of shedding. Hair. Skin. Horns. Shells. Feathers. All of it—off. Left.

Why does this occur?
It allows the animal to grow and mature in a healthy way. Often molting takes place in order to discard old or damaged hair, feathers, etc.

I also read that for many species there’s an initial resting and preparation stage the animal lives through before the discarding begins.
All of the above details remind me of spiritual molting.
Whole shells get cracked and split down the middle. (You know what else was split down the middle? The curtain in the temple as Jesus died for us.) Here’s another tidbit worth paying attention to? The animal doesn’t take the sloughed off part with them. They don’t gather it, and tuck it in a pouch, or carry it on their head. They don’t collect a rack of horns so they’ll have more to fight with next time. They leave it.

And this is exactly what God calls us to do as we allow Him to sanctify us.
Some ugly that I used to know is not still with me now. It’s not me now.  Even if the ugly was part of me yesterday, it doesn’t define me today. It no longer has the grip on me it used to.

Old is gone.
Why does this matter?

Because I witness so many people torturing themselves as they go through the cycle. What cycle, you might be wondering. The cycle of hurt, anger, and lashing out. The cycle of clinging to the ugly. It’s familiar. Living as a victim garners attention. If I massage this hurt it will remind me to keep my guard up, never trust again—it will make me feel some sense of power. It will give me a right to feel angry. Forever angry.
Unforgiveness and unresolved feelings are like carrying around skin that we were supposed to shed. Eventually, the skin will discolor and likely cause some sort of infection. And most certainly, if we’re clinging to the old we won’t be able to grow new.

Okay, I must stop here to exalt God. How cool that He created everyday lessons for us in nature.
One last detail…In this article about birds molting their feathers, I read: “Since feathers cannot heal themselves when damaged, they have to be completely replaced.”

So the question of the hour is… do you want to get well? Do you trust God in the spiritual molting of your life?


*I love it when God really starts stirring. I had most of this post written before church service on Sunday. And what did our guest pastor speak on? You guessed it—John 5 “When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’” Amen & Amen.

*photo by stock.XCHNG

Friday, July 20, 2012

Moving Thoughts 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.

I want to have an Olympian attitude in ___________________.

*photos by stock.XCHNG

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

8 Helpful Questions to Ask Before You Begin Writing a Novel

Even if you’re not a plotter, I implore you (implore you, ha, you like that?) to consider the following questions before you pen your first word.

Where should I begin?
Who is this story being told to? (Thanks Susan Meissner for writing an excellent post on this. Wish I could find it.)

How can I use setting to help tell this story?

What will be the main source of tension for my main character?
Why will readers care about my protagonist or care what happens in this book? (Thanks to Rosslyn Elliott for this question.)

What length of time do I want to span in my novel?
Who will have the greatest influence on my protagonist?

Seems like the most obvious one, but it’s worth it to take time brainstorming...What will happen in the novel?

Bonus question: What excites me about this work & does it have staying power?

Any questions you think are imperative to consider before writing the first word?
*photos by stock.XCHNG



Monday, July 16, 2012

Somebody Has Been Writing in My Spot



Just wanted to show you what one of my wee ones propped up in my writing chair. Now that’s gotta to be one elephant tale that blue guy is cranking out. Ba dum dum.

Do you have a fun I found ___________ in my ______________ story to share?

*I find it a little ironic the WIP I’m entrenched in has a lot to do with memory & my wee one chose an elephant to hop up in my spot. Hmmm.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Moving Thoughts Friday--Surprise, Surprise

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 still surprises you?

*photos by stock.XCHNG

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mama Say Knock You Out & Other Ways of Maintaining Stamina in the Publishing Industry

“Don’t call it a comeback. I’ve been here for years.” Why do I have the feeling I might be saying that someday? And yes, I really remember the lyrics to an LL Cool J song.

Any of us who’ve been at this social networking & writing gig for awhile understand how pivotal it is to stay in the game. To keep on keepin’ on. This doesn’t mean we engage in the same ol’, same ol’. (See point about bringing the new below.) What it does mean is that we’re already creative folks. It’s worth it to pour some creative energy in how we go about this business. It’s about more than survival. I’m talkin’ eye of the tiger talk today.
I’m a fighter. I’m not sure I’ve learned to be this way because of some rough bumps along the road of life or whether I’ve just been blessed with a go get ‘em mentality. But when I feel called to something you betcha I’m going to float like a butterfly, and sting like a bee.
Here are eight ways I put up my dukes to fight off discouragement and maintain stamina in the publishing industry:
Adopt a Leader Mindset
I’m not referring to ‘I will lead you and you will follow’ so much on this one, but rather ‘I will lead my thoughts.’ I will choose to keep a positive, hopeful outlook about the future. I will not let rejection defeat me. I will move forward one (hear Bob) baby step at a time if need be.

Regularly Assess Who You Are Writing For
This one should have flashing neon arrows pointing at it. I’ll never be able to speak to this enough. It matters. Who you write for matters. And your answer has the potential to motivate you, convict you, or deflate you. This stamina-builder in the form of a reflective question is swollen with potential for character growth. Your answer—who you write for—could chameleon-ize itself based on what’s going on with your career. Truth: You have the ability to reassign and reassess who holds the reins at any given moment.
Give Yourself a Break
People with ravenous cravings for Kit Kat bars aren’t the only ones who need a break. To rejuvenate, recharge, and reprioritize, there are times it’s imperative to slow down, unplug, live a little, and release.
Develop a Strong Support Network
Learn from the masters while laughing with your network—discerning what to let sink in and what to blow off.
Bridge May Ice in Cold Weather
In other words, keep cool. Don’t burn bridges—with anyone over anything. Gold baby: If you don’t have anything nice to say, then shut your pie hole.
Find Your Own Niche
Your voice.
Your schedule.
Your genre.
Your path.
Constantly Look for Ways to Bring the New
My family recently spent time on an Eastern shore spotted with jellyfish (also interestingly enough called stinging nettles). As my kids flopped and hopped around in the waves I stood guard, searching for the intriguing creatures. Like editors and agents, I had a set focus to locate jellyfish. We want to be like jellyfish without the sting factor. Our goal is to have professionals scanning the oftentimes murky waters of this industry, exhilarated with a rush of excitement when we come floating by. We need to swim with purposeful intentions, unafraid, while leaving the stingers of discouragement behind.
All You Need is Love
Love your work.
Love your readers.
Love your gift of creating.
Most of all stay cool! Any other tried and true methods of keeping your stamina in this industry?

*A few more lyrics for ya: “I’m gonna take this itty bitty world by storm & I’m just gettin’ warm.”

Monday, July 9, 2012

I Went to an Island

I channeled Hemingway and culled up Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea from recesses long ignored.

I went to an island. That’s where I’ve been. All last week I was surprised to discover I had absolutely no ability to connect to the outside world.
No internet access. No texting. No phone.

It took me a few days to settle into the skin of this understanding—this new non-social networking me.
Like a crab slipping from its hard outer shell, I gradually began to feel an unburdening. I unhinged from the world of blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I reconnected with something else. Me.

Morning birds trilled with more clarity. I sank into sleep at night without the flitting busyness that computer life can bring.
By observing and listening and quieting in the early dawn, I stirred the sand in my soul. Even though the hard to breathe briny air reached humid highs, my body sighed out anyway. In response to the slowing of my schedule, the slowing of my split inattention that so readily disguises itself as attention.

At the beach, waves spooled and unspooled in ribbons of frothy white, near invincible threads sewn into the shore. God weaving. Tugging back. Weaving. Tugging back. I watched the sewing tide.
My time on the island swept up an ancient dust from the corners of my conscience, dust I’d forgotten about; dust I didn’t even know was there.

I went to an island that spoke respite into me.
And while I missed connecting, in all the broad and narrow stroke ways I’ve found to do so, it became alarmingly obvious to me I needed a break.

I’m back now. Rested.

Ever been treated to a break you didn’t know you so desperately needed? Any guesses where I was? (Hint: population = approximately 709, the crustacean I mentioned in this post is a big fat clue.)