“W” is for…

Writing on the Wall

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After reading a blog post some time back asking how far back our love of writing went, I began thinking about when my love of words began, and discovered it was the writing on the wall.  Literally.

Much to my mother and father’s dismay, I began experimenting with writing on our living room walls when I was about four years old.  In crayon.  And despite getting into trouble, that was the beginning of freedom as I knew it. 🙂  (The second time words got me into serious trouble was in elementary school when a boy kept getting me out in four-square and an obscenity I didn’t realize I knew flew out of my mouth before I even knew what happened. Right in front of the playground aid.  I’m not sure who was more shocked, me or the aid. 🙂

I never wrote on the walls again, but I practiced my writing and my penmanship endlessly–on paper and chalkboards, taking great pride when my teachers would compliment my near-perfect handwriting.

As I grew into my teens, I spent endless hours and evenings in my room, walls decorated with all things writing, and immersed myself in writing in my journal and writing heartfelt poetry about the life of an adolescent.  When I wasn’t writing, I was reading.

As I grew into my late teens I still enjoyed writing but it fell to a lower rung on my list of priorities, until I got married.  It was then I decided to try my hand at a novel.  Although, truth be told, I hadn’t even thought about it that deeply to realize that’s what I wanted to write, I just knew I had a story I wanted to tell and sat down to write every evening until I realized I had finished the first draft of a novel.  A whopping 90,000 words before I even realized what I had done.  That manuscript, along with another completed first draft, still sit in a box in the bottom of a filing drawer.  Someday maybe they will see the light of day, but for now they’re tucked cozily in place.

For several years I took a break from writing to raise my boys, and have found my way back to it about two years ago. And what joy! It was like finding a long lost love after being separated for far too long.  And now that its been rediscovered, I can say I will never separate from that love again.  I found my way home.

When did you have that “Aha!” moment that you knew you wanted to be a writer?

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“Q” is for…

Quotes

I love quotes! They contain so much wisdom, motivation and inspiration in so few words.  They prove that less is often better when it comes to words, and that those few words can pack a powerful punch.

My ten favorite are:

10.)  “The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.”  -Norman Vincent Peale

9.)  “It may take place in a foreign land or it may take place in your backyard, but I believe that we were each created to change the world for someone. To serve someone. To love someone the way Christ first loved us, to spread His light. This is the dream, and it is possible.”
― Katie J. Davis

8.)  “You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” -Dr. Seuss

7.)  “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” – Richard Bach

6.)   “When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.”  – Stephen King

5.)  “The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it.”  – Thomas S. Monson

4.)  “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”   – Norman Vincent Peale

3.) “What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”  – Mother Teresa

2.)  The perfect description of a mom:  “…because “Mommy” is forever. It’s such a powerful name. Mommy means “I trust you.” Mommy means “you will protect me.” Mommy is for shouting when you need someone dependable and for laughing with when you are excited. Mommy is for crying on and cuddling with when you are sad, or giggling and hiding behind when you are embarrassed. Mommy is the fixer of boo-boos and the mender of broken hearts. Mommy is a comfort place – a safe place. Mommy means “you are mine and I am yours and we are family.”  – Katie Davis

1.) “Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.  Life is beauty, admire it.  Life is a dream, realize it.  Life is a challenge, meet it.  Life is a duty,  complete it.  Life is a game, play it.  Life is a promise, fulfill it.  Life is sorrow, overcome it.  Life is a song, sing it.  Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.  Life is an adventure, dare it.  Life is luck, make it.  Life is too precious, do not destroy it.  Life is life, fight for it.”
― Mother Teresa

As we write our stories and what’s in our hearts, may we always remember the importance of the words we write, the impact they have on another, and the joy they bring to many.

Write On.

 

“H” is for…

Home

It’s my favorite place in the entire world.  But more than a place, I think of it as a state of being.

Home is where I am when I have my kids and grandkids with me, whether it’s at my house or elsewhere.

Home is where I am when I’m on a nature walk, feeling complete serenity and peace, at one with mother nature, drinking in the sights and fragrance of the woodsy fullness around me.

Home is where I am when I’m having my quiet time with God every morning in the silence of my study, lamplight and candlelight, before the rest of the house is stirring, and when I’m lying in the stillness at night, just before I drift off to sleep, giving Him thanks for the day He gave me.

Home is where I’m going to be with my Savior one day.

Home is where I am when I’m snuggled next to my husband watching a movie or each in our own chair, yet together, enjoying a good book.

Home is where I am when I’m outdoors, the sun’s warmth on my shoulders warming through and through, or snuggled under a blanket with a cup of hot tea and a good book listening to the raindrops pepper the roof.

Home is where I am when I’m alone in the quiet of the evening, knowing everyone is tucked in their beds, and believing God has each in the palm of His hand.

Home is where I am when I’m curled up with a good book, a bowl of popcorn and an A & W 10 cracked open beside me. Mmmmm… 🙂

And Home is where I am when I’m writing, whether the words are flowing or whether I’m simply sitting and pondering a thought, story idea, character sketch…writing is where I find solace, comfort, and sense of security, as insecure as I can be in my writing.  The words themselves, are balm to the scrapes and bruised accumulated throughout the day.

Home is where the heart is

Write on.

Peace.

 

Reading Like a Writer

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I realize this is  a topic that has been addressed numerous times, but it’s become such a huge part of how I read, that I wanted to share things I look for.  It provides for reading entertainment as well as learning from people who have gotten to where I’m journeying toward with my first novel, The Inheritance–published.  Ten things I look for in a book are:

1.) POV–Does the writer use first person, placing themselves as the main character, third person, seeing through the viewpoint of the main character, omniscient, which is a God-like presence who seems to know what everyone in the novel is thinking, or multiple viewpoint characters.  If there are multiple viewpoint characters, how does the author transition between the characters whose eyes I’m seeing from?  How would the novel read if it were written from a different POV?

2.)  How the characters relate to each other.  Is there enough tension?  Is the tension resolved in a way that leaves me satisfied, but not too soon?  Do the characters suffer and hurt so that I feel for them and they become real?

3.)  Sentence structure in non-fiction vs. fiction–Does the author use complete sentences, fragments, long or short sentences, and when is each used successfully?

4.)  Does the book leave me wanting more, or am I flipping through several pages at a time, eager to be done so I can start something else?

5.)  Does it grab my attention immediately and disperse enough action to hold my attention, or are there dead areas where I find myself planning what to make for dinner as I’m reading?

6.)  Does it flow easily or do I find myself having to re-read the same paragraph a few times to figure out where I got lost?

7.)  Are the characters believable?  And what about the protagonist–is s/he likable?

8.)  Does it appeal to the social, intellectual, emotional aspects of life or does the author relay any strong values?

9.)  Do the scene descriptions create a clear visual in my mind?

10.)  And last but not least, does the author use boring cliché’s or fresh word combinations?

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Happy Reading! 🙂

Silence – Part II

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In Part I, I announced My One Word, Silence, for 2014, and the benefits I have found through my conversion to one word rather than a list of resolutions.  Following is a list of how one word can help shape my character and draw me nearer to God if practiced diligently, keeping in mind it’s about progress, not perfection.  And to think this list can happen from just one word. 🙂

1.)  When I feel anger toward someone for their words or actions, whether they were intentional or not, remaining silent until I’ve had time to process and bring it before God will prevent me from spouting off with a comment I will likely regret later.  And staying silent, not even so much as to comment under my breath to myself in the name of venting, will keep my thoughts clear. I believe that our thoughts become words, so if I say something unkind in a moment of emotion, whether to someone else or to myself, I’m allowing my thoughts to travel that path.  Stopping a negative thought with a positive one before it flows into words, prevents those thoughts from germinated and growing wildly out of control, weeds choking out anything beautiful that has the potential to grow.  And it’s impossible to feel anger when I’m being grateful to God for something He’s blessed me with.

2.)  Taking a moment of silence before responding to a question that holds any weight gives enough time to invite God into the conversation.  If I follow His lead, I can’t go wrong.  In the presence of impulsivity and many spoken words, there is greater chance for sin.

3.)  It’s in silence and stillness that God breathes answers to my questions, even those that are often unasked.  If every waking moment is absorbed in sound, whether it be the television, radio, others or myself talking, there is no room for listening to His still, small voice.  I enjoy listening to the K-LOVE radio station in my car, or WAY-FM, songs and spiritual words lifting me high.  However, I have found that when I listen for it coming from Him, in silence, rather than through noise on the radio, it blankets my heart in peace that is incomparable to anything else.  That being said, unless I think about the word “silence,” in a world that’s accustomed and conditioned to noise, I often run on auto pilot and turn my radio on without thinking.  My one word reminds me to invite the silence into my day.

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4.)  Keeping my one word consciously and  subconsciously close, invites my thoughts to be still, bringing them back to Him, riding that wave of peace.  It’s a peace that is unmatched and one I discovered cannot be found anywhere except in close communion with God.  Silence reminds me to take deep, slow, cleansing breathes throughout the day, keeping the chaos and noise to a tolerable minimum.

5.)  Mindfulness of silence keeps me from reliving yesterday or jumping ahead to tomorrow, and keeps me living, fully experiencing, the here and now.

As I now prepare to sit quietly and enjoy a moment of silence before proceeding with my day, I wish you all a beautiful, peaceful year, journeying on your path to growth toward whatever it is you’re striving for.

Peace to you.

When I Just Don’t Feel Like Writing

Words

Words (Photo credit: sirwiseowl)

Whether it’s revising my novel, journaling, blogging, or writing letters to the children I sponsor through Compassion International, I try to do some sort of writing every day. But truth be told, some days I just simply don’t feel like writing. And from reading what other writers have to say, I’m not alone in that area. It extends well beyond the perimeter of my own limited space. What I can say from reflecting on my experience, however, is that it usually comes from complacency.

I’ve compiled some ideas on how I can forge beyond that barrier of resistance.

Visualize the End Result

If I visualize the final product of what it is I’m about to write, it usually can motivate me enough to at least get me to the keyboard, which can be the hardest part. And from there, it gets much easier. If it’s revising my novel, I visualize being that much closer to being done and what that will feel like. I imagine what it will look like when I’ve completed the revision, or better yet, the entire process of writing the book, reminding myself that getting my bottom in that chair and my fingers on the keyboard are the only things that can make that happen. If it’s writing to my sponsor children, I visualize their smiles when they receive the letters, the joy it brings to their precious hearts, and suddenly my not wanting to write seems so small in comparison.

A Reward for Reaching the Agreed Upon Goal

I’m not above bribing, and that includes myself. Whether it’s dark chocolate, a computer game, surfing the Internet, napping–whatever it takes to get me to my computer. Once I’m there, I’m usually home free.

Write Something Fun

Create a scene in my novel that I’ve been looking forward to writing, even though it may not be what happens next. it still counts as words written and has, on occasion, motivated me to write more from there.

 Enjoy Other Forms of Media

Read, read, read. Read work by an author I aspire to emulate, motivational writing articles in magazines or on-line. Personally, I try to keep the Internet as a last resort, because my lack of self-discipline can sometimes lead to surfing, and that does nothing but rob me of time rather than inspire creativity. Watch movies while thinking of plot–or subplot–ideas. Movies such as The Jane Austen Book Club and The Words particularly inspired me.

Please share with us what works for you.

New Month, New Life

July 3rd Fireworks

July 3rd Fireworks (Photo credit: zappowbang)

July is just around the corner, a month that used to be a childhood favorite with 4th of July celebrations of parades lined with colorful floats and marching high school bands, the oohs and ahs while watching amazing firework displays explode and cascade into the brightest colors high in the ink sky, baseball games, watermelon, family fun…everything that is summer.    The past several years, however,  have made me a bit apprehensive as it nears.

Experiences will do that.  Alter the way one sees things.  Kind of the same way an opinion forms around a name because of someone you once knew with that name.

Or the way I can get squeamish in a hospital because of something that is reminiscent of an unpleasant memory.

Too many painful  events began happening each July several years ago, and I realized the approach of the last couple found me holding my breath in fear.

Wishing an entire month quickly away.  Waiting…waiting…until the last day arrived and I could breathe a little bit easier.  Walk a little bit lighter.

This year it occurred to me, whether it was a God moment or spiritual experience is up for interpretation.  Either one is God speaking to me through life experiences.  Using what He knows will get my undivided attention.

That deeply embedded fear is nothing but lack of faith in a God who can orchestrate all aspects from those too small to see to those that can seem larger than life itself.

Rather than wait for the bad to happen, allowing fear and anxiety to entwine its tentacles into every area of my life,  I can give thanks for what I have, placing my focus on good and God.

A Good God.  All powerful God.

If something happens that is unpleasant, I can know and be secure in the knowledge that God can, and will, take me through it if I allow Him.  I can be grateful for the opportunity to practice leaning on Him.  An opportunity to practice perseverance.

When good things happen, which He makes sure does for His children, free of self-involved fear, I can be fully present to be aware of and enjoy it, rather than miss it while in the throes of wishing the month away.

And what an amazing opportunity to get some good quality writing done.  When emotions are raw, whether joy or pain, is when the most poignant writing is created.  The most memorable stories.  Words that flow from a heart that is beating and feeling the pulse of life.

Pen and Paper       This July I will honor the memory, feel the pain, but also celebrate the life of a lost step-child, while hugging my other step-daughter and my sons a little bit closer.

I will likely remember the near-death accident involving my child, but I will celebrate the fact that he is still with me. Whole and healthy.  Because of a loving God who rescued him, knowing his mom had a whole lot of love to lavish on him.

Rather than feel pain at the sight of a dragonfly, a symbol so important to a lost loved one, I can look at it as a sign from a loving God that my loved one is still around me.  Free.

I will strive to help victims of crime, giving them empathy and compassion as only one who has experienced it can.  And I will celebrate the fact that I am a blessed survivor.  Because of a loving God who cares about me so much He saved me from what could have been.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly (Photo credit: Tom Soper Photography)

I will remember a lost family pet, loved as no other pet ever was, and be grateful we found such a wonderful shelter dog to rescue and love.

This July, rather than wait for it to close, the curtains down, I will truly live, love, and experience every moment, every day as a new story to be told and lived.

Grace to You.