Monday, May 31, 2010

365 Days of Blessings - Day 2

365 Days of Blessings, Day Two
1. God's infinite wisdom.
2. My husband's love of church softball.
3. My youngest daughter's fervent sense of right and wrong.
4. My oldest daughter's gentleness with children smaller than herself.
5. My mom's weight loss - she's been between 130 and 140 for two years now, which is way better than being between 180-210 pds like she was for nearly ten years.
6. My dad's grin.
7. The ability to give praise with words.
8. The sweetness of dried fruit and coconut mixed with hot quinoa cereal. (I'm eating breakfast while blogging)
9. Living in a house with central heating. (one of the many blessings of living in technologically up-to-date country)
10. The men and women who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom in the U.S.A. - may the flags fly high for them today.

"Hear the word of the Lord, O nations;
proclaim it in distant coastlands:
'He who scattered Israel will gather them
and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.'
For the Lord will ransom Jacob
and redeem them from the hand of
those stronger than they.
They will come and shout for joy on the
heights of Zion;
they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord -
the grain, the new wine and oil
the young of the flocks and herds.
They will be like a well-watered garden,
and they will sorrow no more.
Then maidens will dance and be glad,
young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into
I will give them comfort and joy
instead of sorrow."
Jeremiah 31:10-13

and from the Lutheran Book of Worship, Canticle 14
"Refrain: "Listen! You nations of the world; listen to the Word of the Lord. Announce it from coast to coast; declare it to distant islands.'
Verse 1: 'The Lord who scattered Israel will gather his people again; and he will keep watch over them as a shepherd watches his flock.' (refrain)
Verse 2: 'With shouts of joy they will come, their faces radiantly happy, for the Lord is so generous to them; he showers his people with gifts.'
Verse 3: 'Young women will dance for joy, and men young and old will make merry. Like a garden refreshed by the rain, they will never be in want again. Break into shouts of great joy: Jacob is free again! Teach nations to sing the song: The Lord has saved his people.'"
(oddly enough the LBW never gave scripture references for the music, so as a kid I didn't even know that the words we sang came directly from the Bible.)

Welcome to my 365 Days of Blessings project that I just started yesterday. If you would like to know more, just go to yesterday's post, and see the rules/goals I've set for myself. Feel free to join in with thankfulness for blessings that you experience today!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

365 Days of Blessings - Day 1

Called through circumstance, prayer, the words of a wise Pastor, and by the Word of God, I am starting a new project here at my blog.

365 Days of Blessings is an answer to a call to count my blessings, and to encourage others to do the same.

I thought of starting a whole new blog for it, but the reality is, I don't keep up with my other blogs as well, and I want this to keep to the forefront of my blog-time. If there is another topic (like writing life) that's pressing in on me, I'll add a few paragraphs about it after the main post about blessings.

I hope that you'll join me in this endeavor, to give thanks and praise, everyday for all of the blessings we have been gifted with in our lives.

Here are the rules that I'm going to follow for this project.

1. Post 10 New Blessings each day for one calendar year.
They might fall into some similar categories, but they won't be any that are exactly the same. This means I'm going to count up 3,650 blessings.

2. Invite others to post their blessing in the comment section.

3. Allow myself on grace for rule #1 if I go camping by either posting "advance" blessing counts, or posting "make-up" blessing counts. On an occasional, extremely rare basis, we actually camp in areas where no cell/internet coverage is available.

4. Post a Scripture quote each day that either speaks directly about counting blessings or giving thanks, or that is a blessing to me on that day.

365 Days of Blessings, Day One
1. God's Amazing Love that stretches infinitely before and beyond time.
2. The way my husband smiles.
3. My youngest daughter's excitement for life.
4. My oldest daughter's affectionate snuggle.
5. My mom's daily determination to walk, in any weather.
6. My dad's happy fidgeting, turning his cup this way and that while he talks.
7. The green branches of pines, cedars, and evergreens that reach up against the gray clouds.
8. The sound of music.
9. The joy of dance.
10. The anticipation of church softball season.

Psalm 9:1-2 "I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of your wonders.
I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing praise to your name,
O Most High."

In Writing Life
I'll be working on having fun with my fiction, and focusing some serious attention to my devotional writing.

Have a Blessed Day!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Blessed by good Quotes

My post from earlier today lists the books we have been into lately as a family, and I thought I would share some quotes with everyone from some of those.

Jeremiah 29:11-14 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the Lord, "and I will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the Lord, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."

"God's words are not mere words. They are promises that lead to fulfillments. God performs what he announces. God does what he says." from RUN WITH THE HORSES by Eugene H. Peterson

"'Art, Jared,' Mr. Toppan said then, 'is to do just enough to satisfy, just enough to intrigue. The spacing of your stencil reveals yoru skills more than anything else you do. Crowd your designs, and you have bound the wings of fantasy; space them well, and you give it full flight.'" from THE JOURNEYMAN by Elizabeth Yates

Blessed by Books

Yesterday I found myself in a bit of a downer over the oil spill disaster, feeling as if this amazing world that God gave us is just being ruined by us in our selfishness. With God's Spirit nudging me, I prayed, and then prayed, and prayed some more. My whole day filled up with prayers, prayers of frustration, prayers of sadness, prayers of hope, and prayers of thankfulness. Then I found myself praying thanks and praise over and over again as my day continued, and woke this morning with the same kind of prayers of praise and thanks running through my mind, coursing through me with joy. I have been so amazingly blessed, even tough moments in my life.
Thank you God!

I am so thankful for many things, but I find myself really thankful for books this morning. Books? Well, books, and joy, and peace, and family, and much more. However, I thought I would focus on books at this moment.

Books open to amazing places, and when they are good books they can inspire the mind, heal the soul, and satisfy a hungry heart. I am just thankful that I can read. There are many people who can't, and I'm praying about what I can do to change that.

Teaching my kids to read when they were first learning was one of the most challenging, and most exciting part of home schooling for me. My oldest daughter struggled to read the simplest of books in early second grade and informed me that she hated reading, and she never wanted to learn. My youngest daughter picked up reading easily, wanting to me to read to her at every available moment and wanting to read every word she could aloud. Thankfully, my oldest daughter loved being read aloud to, and with the encouragement of friends her age, she decided she wanted to read herself, and read well. So she started reading more and more each day, and now she goes everywhere with a book in hand, and reads some books that are well above her grade level.

You can imagine my happiness on our weekly trips to the library now, when we come home with bags full of books and both my daughters happily ensconce themselves on the couch with books in hand, and take their books everywhere with them, to stores and on car trips, to friend's houses, and on vacations.

We love reading in our house. We love reading God's Word. We love reading picture books. We love reading historical fiction books, non-fiction books, fantasy books, and sometimes mysteries. We love discovering new cultures and countries through our reading. We read at every age level of reading, from favorite picture books to YA and adult books, and I find myself scouring bookshelves for "good" books.

I would love to share that love with others who haven't found it yet. I would love to write books worthy of being called "good" books.

For now, this morning, I am just thankful that I can read, that God has blessed us with a rich life in reality, full bookshelves, a large library just a few miles away, and a few bookstores that we love to frequent (although we have to watch our spending habits there).

Books that we have read in the last few weeks include:
WILLIAM CAREY: OBLIGED TO GO by Janet and Geoff Benge (home school book about missionaries)
TERESEA OF CALCUTTA: SERVING THE POOREST OF THE POOR by Dr. Jeanene Watson, Louis H. Rock and Robert Lawson (home school book about Mother Teresa)
SHADOW SPINNER by Susan Fletcher (home school fiction book set in the same time period of the legend of Shahrazad, teller of 1001 Arabian Nights)
SEVEN DAUGHTERS AND SEVEN SONS by Barbara Cohen and Bahija Lovejoy (a MS/YA level fictional novel for home school that is retelling of an Arab legend - parents need to read with kids due to some content matter)
ROBERT FULTON BOY CRAFTSMAN by Marguerite Henry (home school book about the American inventor of the steam boat)
CALICO BUSH by Rachel Field and Allen Lewis (a MS level home school historical fiction book set in early America with a strong heroine)
SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL by Patricia MacLachlan (home school historical fiction book set in early America - easy, but great read)
THE JOURNEYMAN by Elizabeth Yates (home school historical fiction book about a journeyman painter in early America)

Just for fun books for me:
CAPTAIN'S BRIDE by Lisa Tawn Bergren (Christian Historical Romance with lots of high seas adventure and a current favorite of mine)
DEEP HARBOR by Lisa Tawn Bergren (second in the series, and even better than the first)
MIDNIGHT SUN by Lisa Tawn Bergren (conclusion to the trilogy that wraps it up well)
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING by William Shakespeare (reading for fun, and with plans for a home school co-op Shakespeare class I'm teaching next year)

On the kids fun bookshelf the last few weeks:
DOLPHIN SONG and THE LAST LEOPARD by Lauren St. John (magical realism, fantasy about a girl with a magical gift with animals set in the modern day world and in very real places in Africa - there are spiritual issues that get discussed in our house with these books, so I recommend them, and yet I caution parents to read them with their kids)
CALLING ON DRAGONS and SEARCHING FOR DRAGONS by Patricia C. Wrede (fun fantasy books - I've read them, and think they are ok)
THE HATCHLING by Kathryn Lasky (one of her Guardians of Ga'Hoole series, fantasy books about owls)
FLYING FREE: COREY'S UNDERGROUND RAILROAD DIARY by Sharon Dennis Wyeth (historical fiction)
AFTER THE RAIN: Virginia's Civil War Diary by Mary Pope Osborne (historical fiction)

And on writing:
KIDS WRITE by Rebecca Olien and Michael Kline

On faith:
RUN WITH HORSES by Eugene H. Peterson
EVERYDAY DEVOTIONS by Stephen Arterburn and Jesse Florea
THE BIBLE(NIV for me and my hubby, NLT for my daughters)

So, I've been reading a lot lately . . . some of it with a purpose, and some of it just for fun, but I am thankful for all of it. And now, back to the writing board . . .

Friday, May 28, 2010

Characters and Prophets

Have you ever struggled with characters, and prophets?

I know that may seem like a strange combination, but that describes a little of where I'm at in my writing and faith life. I'm in the midst of struggling with some of my characters, trying to liven them with real characteristics, and at the same time in my daily Bible study, I'm struggling with the prophets.

In dealing with my characters, I've been diving into some character building exercises, some of which might actually make it into the WIP, and some which will just be part of a character file. Currently, the WIP I'm working on is something I dug out of my closet, a dusty three-ring binder and some memory on my hard drive that hadn't been accessed in quite a while. I can't get the characters out of my head, so they must have some life in them, right?

Well, it turns out that my main character is more lively than I remembered, and my secondary characters are shallow, like cardboard cut outs propped up on a stage. I'm re-writing the whole thing, changing the time-line, the setting, and even some of the basic plot-line, and I'm loving it and hating it in turns. In other words, I'm getting drawn into it, and I'm hoping that my characters are becoming more real on the page and not just more real to me.

In my daily Bible study, I've been reading Jeremiah. Not that long ago, I was reading Isaiah. The first time I read through the prophets, I saw only gloom and doom, and I was re-reading the Psalms and Proverbs "just one more time" earlier this year to put off reading them again.

However, I think they're beginning to grow on me. I'm seeing that God keeps his promises. He continually offers hope and redemption, pleading with his people to turn to him and turn away from their sinful ways. The destruction, plagues, and war that God promises through his prophets always comes with a promise to save a remnant of his people, even if they keep turning their back on him.

That last part amazes me. Even though God's people are worshipping false gods, sacrificing their children in fires and other sacrificial rites, disobeying God in every way and listening to false prophets, God still loves them enough to save a remnant of his people. The New Testament's promises are built on the promises of the Old Testament. Jesus' death on the cross is the fulfillment of God's saving love for us - the same love he has had for us through all time and beyond time.

At this point, I'm still mulling over how my faith and fiction are intermingling on a daily basis. This old story I've dusted off wasn't written with any overt signs of faith originally in it, but in this re-write, I'm hoping for more. I'm hoping that the things that God is showing me through my Bible study will come through in my fiction.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Travel of the Imagination

Knee deep in a literature based curriclum for my two daughters, with one studying United States History from pre-colonial days through the early 1800's and the other studying world cultures, I find myself inundated with the spirit of adventure, and the desire to travel.

However, our curriculum came without detailed maps. Well, I admit I didn't buy the one they offered because I already one just like it. I mean the kind of detailed maps that show the map of the 13 colonies, and then a map highlighting the battle fronts of the revolutionary war, followed by a map of the Louisiana purchase, and a map of Lewis and Clark's journey across the continent.

Thankfully, for my eldest daughter's curriclum of world cultures, I have been able to find some great maps over the internet . . .and then I dug through an old bookshelf and found, a World Atlas. Somehow, being able to hold the maps in a book form helps me put myself there.

Today, we traveled from Baghdad through Allepo and Damascus to Tyre while reading a historical fiction book called Seven Daughters and Seven Sons by Barabar Cohen and Bahija Lovejoy.

There is a part of me that wants to really be there, to feel the sand under my feet, and the salty breeze from the Mediterranean Sea in my face.

However, on a limited budget and a busy, blessed, wonderful life, I think I will have to content myself with armchair travel for now, the travel of the imagination.

Travel of the imagination is a wonderful type of travel, I've found, and very useful to base in the real world. Even when I am created fantastical landscapese, I find they ring more true when I study a real place first. Besides, it's fun to do the research.

Have you heard of Andorra? It's a small country in southwestern Europe that I don't ever remember learning about at school.

Did you know you could buy your own
private island, if you have the means to do so?

Have you ever drawn your own map for your characters? Whether they live in a real or imagined place, I think this is a great exercise to get the feel for their travels, even if they stick to one city area.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sharing the Sweetness!

During a rough writing spot, with life busily swirling around me, I really appreciated receiving the Sweet Blog award from Laurel at Laurel's Leaves just last week. Thanks Laurel!

All of my "Awesome People" deserve the Sweet Blog award, but I just wanted to name a few specifically who have buoyed me up lately.

Jody Hedlund at Author, Jody Hedlund
B.J. Anderson at B.J. Anderson
Emily Ann Benedict at
Julie Dao at Silver Lining
Karen Lange at Write Now
Angie at Notes from a Writing Chair
Jill Kemerer at Jill Kemerer
Jessica Nelson at
Booking It
And everyone on my Awesome People List! Thank you for your sweet, wonderful blogs and posts.

And in awesome news, I finally figured out how to receive my paypal payment for a story that was published a few months ago . . . somehow I ended up with two paypal accounts, and ended up feeling extremely tech-less, but I have earned a total of $4.43 for my writing this year! Woohoo! Pennies from heaven! Pennies for a rainy day!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Filling up the Bucket One Drop at a Time

Have you ever filled up a bucket one drop at a time?

I remember doing something like that when I was a kid, except I think I was filling a glass. It was fun for a while. Then it became work, then I got bored.

I have struggled with my writing for almost a month now. However, I keep writing. I keep blogging, and reading blogs that inspire me with hope, confidence, and great ideas.

Each of these is like a drop, or sometimes several that keep filling my bucket of writing with hope. However, some days it feels like work, and some days I get bored.

Then I receive an awesome award! Or get a paypal payment for my writing! Those moments are like gushes of water that give my bucket a extra filler.

And then it's back to one drop at a time, one day at a time.

My faith life works the same way. There are days when I feel an outpouring of God's love in my life, and days when I feel like there is just a trickle, or a drop.

Is a drop enough?


Today, my church is going out into our community, serving in 40 different areas, with 300+ volunteers for Go. Do. Likewise., an event meant to celebrate what it means to be a drop of hope in the bucket of suffering around us.

We can't solve all the problems. Only God can do that.

But we can be like the Good Samaritan, and help one person.

We can be a drop in the bucket.

Thankfully, with God working in us and through us, there is a chance that He will fill the bucket to overflowing, so that His love will pour out over many people's hearts today.

So, what does this have to do with my writing?

I keep trying to put it in God's hands. One day at a time. One word at a time.

One drop in the bucket towards publishable writing.

It may not be much, but I know my bucket will fill eventually.

You have all been a drop in my bucket of hope, and I hope I have been one in yours.

Romans 5:5 "And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Freedom of Silly Super Shorts

Aaah, the freedom of super silly shorts, or is that silly super shorts, or silly super sagas . . . hmm, have to nail that name someday.

Anyway, on a day when writing seems to be painfully hard for one of my daughters, I try everything I can to make it fun, possible, and full of laughter. Today, after reading a story that I wrote in sixth grade, "The Pencil's Adventure," I challenged my daughters to write a silly story of their own. It could include an inanimate object, animals that talked, a silly super power, or a silly super star.

Then, to be the kind of writing teacher I want to be, I did the exercise too.

So, if you are stuck like my daughters were this morning, try writing a super silly short. There's nothing to worry about, no audience to please other than yourself, and the point is to get laughter, or at least a knee slap or a smirk.

Here's mine for today (written in less than 10 minutes):

Cluck Gable’s Secret Identity Revealed!
By Tyrean Martinson

SuperChicken, A.K.A. Cluck Gable, liked to fly with his special powers, soaring above the clouds. Normal chickens, like his alter ego Cluck Gable, were grounded by their fatty feathery bodies and stubby wings.
One day as SuperChicken swooped toward his favorite pecking ground, Sally, a young farm girl, looked up and caught him in the act.
“Flying Chickens,” Sally screeched, and then asked, “Will pigs be next?”
SuperChicken knew his secret identity had been revealed. He had to act fast. Lowering himself to hover at eye level with Sally, he leveled his super-psychic-powered gaze at her. Twin beams of purple hypnotic light flashed between them, and then he quickly landed at her feet, and started pecking at the ground.
Sally shook her head, and looked down at where he clucked plaintively at the grass.
“Oh, there you are, Cluck Gable,” she said, “I’ll get some extra feed for you.”
As she ran for the barn, a pig in the pen nearby snorted, and then spoke.
“You almost blew our cover, featherhead,” he said.
“Calm down, Pork Star,” said SuperChicken, “I saved our cover, and we can save the world again tomorrow. Sally will never know.”

The End.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Imperfect Pencils, and Rejection Letters

"We all have our shortcomings, but the marvelous thing is that God uses us for His work, even with our weaknesses. God writes through us, and however imperfect pencils we may be, he writes beautifully." - Mother Teresa

Have you ever had one of those days when you feel that your writing is imperfect? Maybe not just imperfect, but not perfect enough?

Lately, I have been a bit manic in my writing. One day is great. The next day is way less than perfect . . . somewhere down in garbage dump type imperfect.

Sometimes those feelings are just something that I have to work out from the inside with confidence and soul building.

Sometimes those feelings come from receiving three rejection letters in two weeks.

The first rejection letter wasn't too bad: "This is a perfectly good story, but it doesn't quite have the feel I want for____. Try it on another market." In fact, I felt kind of honored and hopeful.

The second rejection letter was similar, but I felt disheartened by it: "Thank you for the opportunity to read _________. Unfortunately, your story isn't quite what we're looking for right now."

The third, well, it was even worse: "While the sentiment is nice, it's not working for me," from two of the editors, with "it was sweet" by a third.

I haven't worked on my writing in two days. Bad, bad, bad writer. (shake finger at self)

Not writing anything actually just makes me feel worse about it.

So with some prayer, and some help from a book about Mother Teresa (my oldest daughter is studying world cultures, and missionaries and is currently studying India), I decided that I'm going to write anyway.

I'm an imperfect pencil. I know that through and through, but I feel that God has pointed me towards writing. I don't mean by saying that, that I think have beaucoup talent, but more that I feel directed by God's providence, and a love for stories and words.

So here I am, Lord, write with me. Please.

In the words of Mercy Me in their song, "3:42 A.M. (Writer's Block):
"3:41 AM, make that 3:42
Time just keeps rolling on while I'm here stuck like glue
So many things cross my mind
But nothing stays awhile, so frustrating
I just wanna say something worth while, speak through me

Say, say what You wanna say, and say it loudly
Say, say what You wanna say

6:45 AM, man that just can't be right
3 hours have gone by and this is all I've got
My common sense tells me I should get out the way, so You can speak
O Lord, show up or I'll be here all day, speak through me"

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Awards, and the Rewards of Blogging

I have to admit, I love getting awards! Emily Ann Benedict at Benedictions gave me the Soul Mates award yesterday, just because we happened to read the same book and love it. Thank you Emily! I love her blog, and I highly recommend stopping by to check it out. She is always thinking of others, and sharing heartfelt moments about her writing journey.

I would like to pass this award on to:
Karen Lange at Write Now because she always gives encouragement, and because she writes these wonderful posts like the one titled "Are you a Writer?"

Tamika at Write Worship because she was my first fan, and because her posts inspire me to be a better writer.

Julie Dao at Silver Lining because her posts are so awesome, and she is so encouraging that I feel renewed to write every time I read her posts and comments.

Jill Kemerer for her wisdom in creating One Goal Fridays. I need those kinds of goals with accountability attached.

Angie at Notes From The Writing Chair for her awesome look at how real life infuses writing with strength.

and Jody Hedlund because of her posts that show how real life and writing mix to make something amazing.

I am so thankful to be blogging. The rewards are even bigger than the awesome awards I've received. The rewards are: getting to know amazing writers and bloggers who make my day with their posts, keeping my writing habits daily, expanding my writing into other venues like devotionals, personal essays and articles which I never wrote before I started blogging, as well as improving my fiction writing with the techniques and advice I find online each day.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Plans don't always turn out like I think they should.

We planned to be in Portland for three nights and four days this week.
We stayed one night and one very full day.

We planned meals for our Portland trip, because of our food allergies.
In haste I didn't put ice in the cooler, forgot, and the bread I made went moldy overnight in a warm parking lot.

We planned to take our niece with us to Powell's City of Books aka the Largest Bookstore in the World.
We went first thing in the morning, and through miscommunication, misdirection, and foolishness, didn't see her until we had dinner with her last night.

Our plans changed. So we made more.

I planned to be sitting in a medical office this morning.
Now I'm sitting in a wonderful little coffee shop.

I planned to write fiction for an hour.
I found free Wi-Fi, fiddled around on facebook, and now I'm writing a blog.

I planned to read my Bible this morning first.
I read a section of Run With The Horses by Eugene H. Peterson, and then Jeremiah 17 in my Bible.

At the coffee shop, I planned to sit by myself.
I found a spot at a table across from a college student.

I planned to mind my own business.
I soaked up the atmosphered, the smells, the taste of my tea, the title of my table-mate's portfolio, and snippets of joyful conversation instead.

I planned to concentrate.
Instead, I drifted.

So why? Why do my plans go awry?
Because I didn't give them to God first, and ask for His blessing?
According to some Biblical wisdom offered up at a daily calendar at the coffee shop, that would be the right answer, and I think it has some merit.

"Have you ever considered that the Lord can cause any storm in your life to blow you to the place where He intends for you to arrive?" - God's Way Day by Day by George F. Stanley - found at the coffee shop.

"We enter a world we didn't create. We grow into life already provided for us. We must be aware that we are living in the middle of a story that was begun and concluded by another. And this other is God." - Eugene H. Peterson, Run With The Horses

"If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." James 4:15

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Character of our Lives

A few days ago I attended a memorial service for a man at my church. He passed away from a particular form of cancer that affected his heart, after living years longer than his doctors expected him to live. His story could have been tragic, but it was not. Why? Because he lived life fully, loved unconditionally, laughed often at himself and at life, and because he put all his hope in Christ.

This morning at Benedictions I came across this question: "What are you going to do today?" Maybe that doesn't sound profound, but it is when you read the answer: "I'm going to change the world." And then the next question: "How are you going to do that?"

I'll let you follow the link before I quote the entire post, but just to keep this train of seemingly random events going, about twenty minutes ago I read this in Eugene H. Peterson's Run With The Horses:

"Our lives cannot be read as newspaper reports on current events; they are unabridged novels with character and plot development, each paragraph essential for mature appreciation."

So, I feel as I'm in a place right now, a place that God has set up for me, like a table prepared with love, and my cup is running over with these thoughts that seem to come down to one: living life with the fullest joy, the fullest hope, the fullest love possible because the time is now.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Beating Writer's Block Blues

Happy Mother's Day Everyone!

Planning on not blogging today, I just happened across Confident Writing's post on distractions and writer's block. Writing out some ways that I deal with those moment for the comment section made me realize that I actually had some juice for a blog post of my own.

So, since I've recently just gotten through a case of writer's block blues, I thought I would share with you just how I deal with those moments. When I say writer's block blues, I mean those times when I am just too down on my writing to see straight, and writing each word seems like an uphill battle.

When that happens, I find these methods to be my best:

1. Writing poetry when I can't seem to write prose.

2. Getting a piece of junk mail type paper, and jotting down random thoughts. Basically, I'm telling myself, "see it's ok if these words are life-changing, I just am going to get a few down anyway."

3. Writing in a tiny notebook, or writing about a tiny subject - a fingernail, the petal on a flower, the grain of wood on my old table, the shape of a spoon, my cat's mustache, etc.

4. Taking a little notebook with me wherever I am, and just jotting down random words, thoughts, feelings in short phrases.

5. Drawing a treasure map, even though my drawing is atrocious, and thinking about what the treasure could be.

6. Writing a four to five sentence exercise. Trying to write the basis of a scene or conflict within four sentences, or trying to write just dialogue that somehow tells which character is speaking without any "Joe said, Sandra said" type tags.

7. Taking a short walk, or cuddling my husband, kids, dogs or cat. Basically giving myself a breath of real life to infuse my writing with something real.

8. Freewriting for a five minutes, or ten, or fifteen, or whatever works. Freewriting is just writing as fast as I can about whatever pops into my head while the keys are typing, or my pen is scribbling. I literally do not stop the motion until the timer goes off. Sometimes I actually have a subject in mind first, but many of my freewrites start with: "I can't seem to write lately" and go on for a full pity party from there. Sometimes it helps just to get that off my chest.

9. Pulling an idea from a hat, or a writing book and just running with it even it has nothing to do with my current projects.

10. Hmm. Ran out of my favorite ideas, so here's your chance to help me out. What do you do to beat the writer's block blues?

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Paradise is a meadow filled
with wildflowers in Mt. Rainier
National Park with the sun shining.

Paradise is a beach with golden
sand, kids laughing, and sunlight
glinting off the waves.

Paradise is a morning snuggle with my
head on my husband's strong shoulder,
listening to his heartbeat.

Paradise is a moment with his arms
draped around me, and my fingers
resting in the curve of his collarbone.

Paradise is anywhere that my heart belongs.

And then the cat meows, the dogs whine, and I'm up and moving on with a new day, ideas running through my head, and furry friends to pet, and a laptop waiting. Then there is that cup (gigantic mug) of Red Rose Tea with honey to drink. All part of the paradise of real life, in an old house that needs some fixing, with an awesome view of green trees reaching into a blue sky tinged with peach on the horizon. I know the water isn't far away, although the sand isn't golden and we don't have a "waterfront view". I still know it's there, and that is good. Sometimes I miss being able to see Mt. Rainier every day, and I miss the foothills, and even the cowtown type smells from the town where I grew up. However, I love my home, and I am thankful for this little bit of paradise, including the blackberry thorns and the bathroom that's torn apart and waiting for a fix. It's all part of a full, blessed life.

Where is your paradise?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Characters that never die . . .

I wake with them in my head,
stirring up trouble and pushing
all my other ideas aside so
I get up and find my laptop
left with all those open windows,
and all those word documents
lined up and ready for me.

But I open a new, blank page
and an hour later I have a live
story, one that has me on the edge.
The old characters have been given
new birth in a fresh storyline,
just a few changed place names,
and a new timeline for the action,
and they are racing
through the keyboard
to find their finish.

But I'm not sure I want them to
cross that finish line, because
these characters have lived in my
head for so long that I would miss
them if they left, and then I wonder
just how crazy that makes me as a person,
and if all writers are like that.
I do want to finish their story,
but leave it open-ended enough
so that they can live on, and
never die.

So here I am, trying to put my manic writer moments into something poetic. I'm not sure it's working this morning. However, I'm excited to have written 1,039 words on a story that has me on the edge of my seat. I'm excited to be working with old characters that are like old friends, whom I'm still getting to know.

However, it wasn't the story I was planning to write. Yesterday I came across a submission site at an agency, and they had a "what we're looking for this month" section. Science Fiction. Hmm. My mind immediately popped back to an old story of mine, one that got to novel length, but never seemed to work. I loved/still love those characters. The call for submissions didn't really fit the story I have, but with a few tweaks, with a few changes in time, circumstance, etc, it just might work.

I kept thinking about it all evening, and woke with those old characters having new adventures in my head. I had to write them down. Compelled. 1,039 words and an hour later, I'm still having a hard time thinking of anything else.

Whether I can rewrite enough of that old story in a month for submissions or not, I have to write it.

Do you ever feel that way? Compelled to write by characters that demand a life?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dancing, Writing, and Living

Half asleep I stumbled
slowly into the kitchen
and then looked up and out
of the huge picture window,
startled by the impression of eyes
watching me with wariness.
Two deer standing still
with their ears cupped towards
me, and their soft eyes
waiting for me to make the first
move, so I waited too.
Then I whispered, knowing
my husband already half awake
would hear me, and come rubbing
his eyes to stop stock still in the
hallway and watch them, watching us.
Finally, deciding we were harmless,
they twitched their ears, and went
on eating the rose buds.
The cat meowed, and our reverie
broken, we moved as they did,
slowly going about our breakfast.

I'm not sure this is really poetry, but I wanted to write it out quickly, and try to capture the stillness and the watchfulness, the peace in the midst of preparation for the day.

"Writing is a dance of language." Ivan Doig said it first, and I often play with that idea, and what it means for me. Some days it is about the rush of excitement, the keys pounding furiously to an upbeat rhythm. Some days it is about the moment of stillness in the midst of a blessedly full life.

Dancing flows, pounds, leaps, stomps, and embraces the music of life. Writing flows, pounds, leaps, stomps, and embraces the nuances of life. Both dancing and writing reflect and encourage living. My hope is that someday, my writing will have that kind of spark, that rhythm that draws us closer in relationship to God, and each other. I've seen dance, and read writing that does that.

So, on the days when I sigh, and think, I would just like to finish a novel and get it published, I know that I have big dreams that maybe aren't big enough. I hope someday to have a novel published, but I also hope that my writing truly becomes a dance of language.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Answer Key, and other thoughts

The Answer Key.
I write those words, and a part of me thinks, "I need one of those." Just for general life, an answer keys seems like a good idea, like knowing the plot-line of a story that's taking shape.

After mulling over that phrase a few more times, "the answer key, THE ANSWER KEY, The Answer Key," I finally think of the answer key I do have. The Bible. All the answers and the basic plot-line of faith that's taking place in my life are right there.

However, having an answer key in the form of a well-written plot-line for my fiction is an area I struggle with daily. I either want to sail away from the shore with no maps and enjoy the adventure of story writing, or I want to have my course plotted moment by moment. Today I'm trying for a middle ground, getting the basic plot points written out, and starting over.

There, I said it. I'm back on the dock, with a manuscript in hand, and re-starting the journey on a new ship with a map, compass, and logbook in hand. My old ship sank, and the rowboat was springing a leak as I made my way back to shore. The Crystal Sword is being re-fitted on a new voyage with new sails, new rigging, and a few old boards from the old boat just to keep the basic storyline I had in mind.

On a less serious note, when I started this post, I was thinking mainly of the answer key for yesterday's questions about where I've found specific examples of rhyme and rhythm, poetic prose in "real" life.

"Coffee Toffee Twisted Frosty" is from Wendy's.

From the Clash of the Titans movie trailer:
"One day somebody's gonna have to take a stand,
One day somebody's gonna have to say enough."

From The Last Airbender movie trailer:
"The last of his kind
will risk everything to save mankind."

From Francesca Battistelli:
"Cause I got a couple dents in my fender
Got a couple rips in my jeans
Try to fit the pieces together
But perfection is my enemy"

And for today's try at poetry, I started feeling a bit empty, then wrote something I liked so well that I decided to submit it to Every Day Poets . . . and part of the submission agreement is that it is not to be published anywhere else first so I had it on my blog for two minutes and then took it off. Hopefully I haven't gotten myself into a legalistic conundrum. If it doesn't get published there, I'll post it. Sorry about that.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Poetry, Challenges, and Contests

In search of poetry
I find myself
delighted with words
sorrowful and sweet,
words of anguish and defeat,
of glory and majesty.

"The world is at my feet"
and all around me vibrant
rich, full, and even "in 3D"
without the glasses or the
booming sound system, I am
completely immersed in life.

So, I'm challenging myself to write poetry this week, even if it isn't perfectly poetic.

In the midst of searching for soul deep words rich with meaning, instead of the flat, overused ones that dull my senses, I've stumbled across poetic prose all around me.

There is poetry in advertising, movies, music, and the books I just happen to be reading right now.

For example:
"Coffee Toffee Twisted Frosty" is one of the specialty drinks that I've seen advertised recently. I discovered it while my youngest daughter was looking for tongue twisters. Try to say it five times fast. Or just listen to the rhyme and rhythm of the words.

From two different movie trailers:
"One day somebody's gonna have to take a stand,
One day somebody's gonna have to say enough."

"The last of his kind
will risk everything to save mankind."

-You may notice that the movie trailers are a bit cliched, but they do seem to work to draw movie-goers into theatres. Is it the pull of rhyme and rhythm?

From music, there are so many options that I'm just going to go with one of my favorites:
"Cause I got a couple dents in my fender
Got a couple rips in my jeans
Try to fit the pieces together
But perfection is my enemy"

I'm currently reading: Jeremiah in an NIV Bible, Run With Horses by Eugene H. Peterson (a study of Jeremiah), Dolphin Song by Lauren St. John, Dealing With Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede, Write Now! edited by Sherry Ellis, and a number of home school related books. Poetric phrasing seems to be leaping off the pages.

So, here's my challenge for you, if you would like to take it: Can you figure out where the advertisement, two movie trailers, and music quotes are from?

I wish I had a really cool signed book to give away, but I don't have those pieces together yet. So this is all just for fun.

If you would like a really cool signed book, then check out the Spread the Awesome Day at Benedictions and Jen Wilks and many others . . .those two will get you started.

Have a blessed day! Enjoy the dance of language!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Challenge for the week: A poem a day

I don't have any amazing prizes to give away, but I would like to invite you to join me in writing a poem a day this week.

Maybe poetry isn't your "thing," but I have to say that isn't always mine either. I started writing it on a regular basis to break those dry spells in my writing. I mean, if I'm having a hard time getting in a 1,000 words a day, I should be able to write nine lines of verse, or twelve, or maybe a haiku.

So, after writing poetry mainly on days when I was having a "bad" writing day, feeling down on my ability to express myself, or just needing to boost the thoughtfulness going into my word choices, I decided to write it more regularly. I write about 20 poems a month now, and most of them are terrible.

So, good or not, I'm writing at least a poem a day this week and posting them. If you would like to join me, just go ahead and post yours in the comment section. Good, bad, ugly, strange, go for it! Try dancing with the language. You never know, you might come up with something wonderful!

Here's my day's attempts:

apple blossoms cast
white petals in green grass
-spring's bridal veil

wind roars through the trees
gusts crashing branches like
- waves breaking at the ocean

And now, back to those 1,000 words for the day . . .

Just a few more minutes . . .

Have you ever wanted just a few more minutes?

To sleep?

To read?

To write?

To cook?

To laugh?

To play?

To clean your house?

Filled with those kinds of moments, this weekend kept reminding me of how quickly time passes. I wonder if I will ever re-capture the feeling that it moves slowly, like I remember from when I was young(er).

I have this glorious picture in my head of a summer day, laying in unmown grass, staring up at the blue sky through leafy branches, sweaty from running but enjoying the cool tickle of the grass beneath me, glad to have a friend next to me who I could laugh with . . . that moment seemed golden and eternal, and yet it was just a moment.

I hold it inside like a snapshot of perfection. Thankfully I have many snapshots like that stored up in my memory so when I feel like I just want a few more minutes, I know to take a breath and be thankful, take another snapshot in my head and live in the next moment that comes.

Today I finished my Readers' Challenge a few days late at my blog about home school life Keeping Track, and I am preparing to substitute teach a group of kids under 10 at my co-op. We'll be singing scripture songs, and fun Bible songs for an hour. They are such a joy! More moments to capture, and hopefully write about soon.

So, how about you? Are there moments when you want just a few more minutes? And when do they happen?