Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #25

I hope all of you enjoyed Thanksgiving. Mom and I traveled to New England and spent the day with friends. Do you have any special Thanksgiving traditions?

The retail community looks forward to the day after Thanksgiving as the kick-off to the Christmas spending season. With the troubled economy, have you cut back this year? My friends and I decided not to exchange gifts. Instead, the focus is more on sharing the love of family and the true meaning of Christmas. Mom and I are exchanging, but are purchasing practical gifts.

I'm reading four books at the moment. The only problem is deciding which one to pick up at any given time, especially when they're all page-turners. LOL!

Woohoo! Watch for Monday's post. I've decided to do a, "No-Strings-Attached Book Drawing." It's my Christmas gift to you, my loyal readers. I will not be advertising this contest on other blogs, so you have a better chance of winning.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Give Thanks

Here in the U.S., we celebrate Thanksgiving Day tomorrow. The first Thanksgiving was a day for the early settlers to share a bountiful harvest with the Native Americans. The Puritans thanked God for food, which would get them through the long winter months. I thought it would be appropriate to share some of God's blessings and how He's taken care of me over the years. As we celebrate, I hope you'll take some time from the usual feasting on turkey and stuffing to express your gratitude.

I'm thankful I learned about Jesus at a young age. Even so, hearing about Him wasn't enough. Only when I invited Him into my life did I experience the reality of His presence. Knowing Him is far more than a religious belief or a set of rituals. As much as I love all those mentioned in this post, He is the only unchangeable, stable, and constant one in my life. He will never leave me nor forsake me.

Today is a bittersweet day for me. My beloved and I got married on November 26th, the day before Thanksgiving. I'm thankful to the Lord we met and married. David supported and encouraged me to spread my wings in many areas. I doubt I'd be published at all if it had not been for his gentle prodding.

I'm also thankful for my Mom. She's a woman of prayer and a faithful friend. There aren't enough words in the English language to express how precious she is to me. She and my Dad raised me in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

During the time of my husband's illness and my own physical challenges, the support of my family, The Body of Christ, and acquaintances left an indelible impression on my soul. They surrounded us with prayer, love, and practical assistance. It's only by the grace of God and their care that I'm still here and thriving.

Last, but not least, I'm grateful for all my dear writer friends. Some of you I've met, and others I'll meet when we get to Heaven. Thank you for your generous hearts and willingness to teach newbie writers. You have enriched my life more than you know.

May the Lord bless you as you share this special day with your family and friends.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

Jessica over at BookingIt tagged me. Below are the rules. Since all of you already know a ton of weird or interesting facts about me, I'm a bit hard pressed to come up with seven. I'll give it a shot.

1. Some of the first Christian novels I read were by authors Eugenia Price and Catherine Marshall. I loved the book, "Christy," and still have a copy on my bookshelf.

2. Don't throw anything at me, but I can't stand Jane Austen's books. They're not my taste at all.

3. I enjoyed Gone With the Wind, but found the end disappointing.

4. If I go into a Christian bookstore, 9 times out of 10, I'll purchase a book. Most times I'll buy more than 1 if I have a coupon. So, I try to avoid entering unless I'm prepared to make a purchase. Sigh. What can I tell you? I love to read.

5. My dream Christmas gift? A gift card to

6. I love taking pictures of special occasions. My only problem is it takes me forever to get the film developed. By the time I see the pictures, it's a huge surprise. Since Costco's processing is fairly inexpensive, I always get a double set of prints. This allows me to share them with the subjects.

7. Travel is another delight, especially in the U.S. This country is so beautiful. My late husband and I took a trip to Colorado back in 2004. The sites defy description. My favorite part of the trip was visiting Garden of the Gods. It's a park with stunning rock formations.

I won't tag anyone in particular. Feel free to jump on the bandwagon and have a little fun.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #24

My Internet travels over the past couple of weeks have yielded some helpful finds. Michael Hyatt, at Thomas Nelson blogged on, "Four Surprising Conclusions About Author Websites."

The Seekers had a stellar blogpost on how to add emotion to your writing. This is an article you'll want to save and refer to again and again.

It's rare that I find articles on devotional writing, which is something I enjoy. Larry Wilson guest posted on Mary DeMuth's, "Wanna Be Published," blog on the subject. For all of you interested in devotional writing, I think you'll find it worth your time.

Happy surfing!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Adventures in Time Management and Other Horror Stories - Part II

I'm one of those people, who likes to write in the morning. In fact, I like to do almost everything in the morning. The energy levels are high, nothing (usually) aches, and my brain is fairly high functioning. All this is well and good except for one thing. I work. If I'm not at my part-time job taking on extra hours, I'm dealing with my own small business.

When I arrive home, I can do email and read blogs, but it's hard to concentrate on writing The Great American Novel or anything else for that matter. How do I re-wire my energy/brain/body clock, so I can write something coherent after 7:00 P.M.? Is it impossible, or can I adapt?

What are my options? Get up at 4:00 A.M. and write for two hours. Possible, but my inner clock throws a total tantrum. It would also wipe out my Bible reading/prayer time, which happens between 6:30 A.M. and 8:00 A.M. If I want to really mess up my day, that's the way to do it. So, where do I cut and paste? What gets moved to a different timeframe or priority level?

The first adjustment I made was getting to sleep no later than 9:00 P.M. - 10:00 P.M. This lengthens my daytime, productive hours. If I'm sleep deprived, almost everything goes out the window. The second thing I'm tackling is the Procrastination Monster. Writing isn't even a possibility if I've put off other necessary tasks until the last minute. I'm still working on this one, folks. It's tough.

Like my devotions, I try to schedule my writing time. When I began spending a set time in the Word each day, it was hard. It takes 21 days to set a good habit (and about a second and a half to break it). The key is to get up when you give in to the, "I-just-want-to-veg-out-I'll-do-it-tomorrow syndrome," and start over. I'm applying the lessons I've learned in setting a devotional time to my writing endeavors.

I'm finding that once I sit down and begin writing, the time passes in a blink. It's that initial sitting down at the computer, turning it on, and starting the process that trips me up. My body is learning that whether or not I'm tired, I'm going to do this, and it may as well get with the program.

How about you? Do you have any experience with needing to re-adjust your normal, "I'm a morning - I'm a night person," preferences? How did you re-train yourself to function at a decent level?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Adventures in Time Management and Other Horror Stories - Part I

When I first started blogging, I'd write each post the night before it was due to publish. Although someone mentioned scheduling posts, yours truly had no clue how to accomplish this task. Net result: stress-out time.

A fellow-blogger put me out of my misery by teaching me the mysterious process of scheduling a post. For all of you scratching your heads, it's easy. When you're creating a post, there's a button on the bottom, left-hand side of the page that says, "Post Options." Click on it. Put in the date and time you want to publish, and hit the save draft button. Once you're satisfied with the post, hit the publish button. Don't worry, it won't publish until the date and time you've specified.

Another blogger mentioned she creates posts for two weeks at a time, schedules them, and she's done. This inspired me to block out a couple of hours each week. So, if I'm sick, I no longer have to drag myself to the computer or skip a post. If I'm on vacation, at a conference, or life gets crazy, no problem. My posts will publish automatically.

There is something satisfying about completing one or two weeks' worth of posts at a sitting. It's one less thing on my to-do list for the upcoming week. Then I can sit back and enjoy responding to reader comments. Ah, I can skip the chocolate tonight. Maybe I'll lose some of those pounds I put on and can't seem to shed.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #23

A hat-tip to C. J. Darlington for a post on Thomas Nelson's call for book reviewers. I visited the website, and signed up. I'm waiting for the review copy of a book called, "Billy." As you may have guessed, it's about a little-known incident in Billy Graham's life.

I finished Karen Kingsbury's last book in the Baxter Family Series, "Sunset." Without realizing it, I started the series late. (By the way, this is a fabulous series. I only missed the Redemption phase.) This has happened to me several times. Awhile back, I picked up a book by Beverly Lewis, only to discover it was the last book of a series. You'd think I'd learn, but I did the same thing with a B. J. Hoff series. Sigh. It's necessary to pay attention to those little numbers on the cover. A friend recently gave me a book, but I won't read it until I purchase the previous books in the series. Has this happened to you?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

On My Nightstand - Hidden Places by Lynn Austin

This Christy Award winning novel raises story questions from the get-go. Eliza Wyatt faces life as a widow with three youngsters. How will she handle Wyatt Orchards by herself? How will she pay off the mortgage? The depression era is in full swing. Even the orchard's fancy machinery won't bring in enough money. The odds against her are overwhelming.

Her husband's Aunt Betty and a filthy hobo become her unlikely support system. Jake shows his appreciation for a meal and shelter by helping her run the orchard. Yet, questions nag at her. Who is this stranger, and how did he learn the skills needed to run the farm?

Eliza's desire for family and home motivate her actions. Her past threatens to unravel the fabric of her life. Will she ever be able to trust anyone with her heart? Are Jake's motives pure or is he looking to take advantage of a woman in distress?

Through a series of difficulties, Eliza sees how God provides for every need. She learns to trust him rather than her own resourcefulness or those around her.

Lynn Austin's skillful storytelling had me glued to this book. The unusual plot, complex characters, and rich description blend into a satisfying story you won't want to miss.

Monday, November 10, 2008

An Ounce of Prevention

What's the quickest way to stress yourself out? In a word, "procrastinate." A long deadline, an unavoidable chore, bills needing payment can all trigger the, "I'll do it tomorrow," syndrome.

When I attended school, many classmates waited until the last possible minute to work on homework assignments. They were running a marathon as if it were a sprint. They begged faculty members for extensions and mercy.

My own habit of using the cramming study method resulted in end-of-semester panic. It finally dawned on me that starting the study process sooner might be good for my mental health. Staying on top of homework, assigned papers, and reading left me free to enjoy leisure activities. Higher grades were an added bonus. With more time and less last-minute rushing, I could formulate my thoughts and do a better job.

As writers, we're given deadlines. Missed deadlines means inconveniencing an editor and possibly an entire company. It could mean that story or book will never get published and reach someone going through a difficult time.

I don't think there's a person who hasn't put off a chore only to find themselves in a tight spot. Someone I know put off tasks on a regular basis, thinking they had plenty of time. The diagnosis of an illness left the person unable to get some critical things finished.

Not all procrastination has such dire consequences. Yet, it exposes an attitude of counting on tomorrow. We have today. There are no guarantees for the future. Being faithful, diligent, and trustworthy today honors God, honors our fellow man, and gives us peace in our daily lives.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #22

While doing research for our local writers' group, I discovered a grammar website. This subject usually illicits groans from those of us, who turn green at the mere mention of passive verbs. While the site informed, it also provided a measure of enjoyment.

Instead of scanning the website for valuable information, I soon found myself taking all kinds of quizzes. Mulitple choice, crossword games, spelling tests complete with audio, and re-writing passive sentences turned into a fun session. On the spelling tests, a correct answer brought up an animated happy face. A wrong answer, showed a person rolling a stone up a hill.

Another grammar website for kids or for those who need a better grasp of the fundamentals, is Fun Brain. The animated characters were cute and encouraging.

So, if your prose is littered with misspelled words, adverbs, and too many adjectives, and your eyes glaze over when someone talks about verb tenses, maybe it's time for a refresher course. I'd be interested in your experiences with grammar faux pas.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On My Nightstand - Love Letters to God: Deeper Intimacy Through Written Prayer by Lynn D. Morrissey

Crystal Laine Miller, over at the Chat & Chew Cafe, held a drawing for this book, and I won!

I half expected a pretty gift book with some poetic ramblings on the subject of journaling. Instead, I found the other side of the coin to my devotional Bible reading. Inspired by Lynn's experiences with prayer journaling, I put my own prayers in written form during my morning devotions. The results have been startling, exciting, and made me long for more prayer time.

The artwork by Katia Andreeva is soft and appealing, while Lynn chronicles her journey toward a deeper relationship with the Lord. Writing her prayers enabled her to see patterns, helped her sort out her emotions, and recognize God's hand in her life.

This is a beautiful gift book, especially for those struggling with their prayer life or yearning to bring their relationship with the Lord to a new level. This is another keeper for my bookshelf.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

It's here. Election Day. I've heard so many folks say they can't wait until it's over. They're tired of the debates, the issues, and the pressure.

As I journaled this morning, the thought came to me that this isn't the end, but rather the beginning. Just as the wedding day is not the culmination of a relationship, neither is an election. We're making a choice today that will affect us for generations to come. We're giving our stamp of approval on a course of action for the country. That's a heavy responsibility, folks.

As in all areas of life, God will hold us accountable for our decisions. Yes, He forgives when we repent, but those consequences have a nasty bite.

Please set aside the passions, the rhetoric, and look at the issues. Pray. And then, please vote.

Our Father, which art in Heaven

Hallowed be Thy name

Thy kingdom come

Thy will be done

In earth, as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread

And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil

For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.


God can speak to our hearts, but we have a choice to obey or disobey. It is our hands that will cast the ballot.

Monday, November 3, 2008


A few weeks ago, InSpire awarded me the, I love this blog award. A big thank-you to her for this honor.

The rules for this award are as follows:

1) Add the logo of the award to your blog.

2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you.

3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs.

4) Add links to those blogs on your blog.

5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs!

Since I love so many blogs, if you're not on this list, it's only because: A) You've already received this award or B) I wanted to leave a few for others to nominate.

Mary DeMuth at So You Want To Be Published

Rachelle Gardner at CBA Rants & Ramblings

Writers Rest

Gina Conroy at Writer...Interrupted

Christina Berry at Posting With Purpose

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio at The Write Power

Jessica Nelson at BookingIt

Sarah at Saraccino Blogiato

Whew! What tough decisions! I could have added at least ten more to this list. I hope you'll have fun passing this award along to your favorite blogs.