Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NaNo No-No

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) seems to be the question of the week. Of course, it would be since NaNo starts next Monday. A month dedicated to writing 50,000 words on a new writing project. Why they chose the month that begins the holiday season, I have no idea, but still it continues to grow in popularity.

I’ve participated twice in the past. Both times, something major came up that kept me from completing the novel—or even the 50,000. I was planning on giving it another go this year, but in light of a big move in December, the absence of my husband for 18 days, and not having completed the edits on Dividing Spirits, it’s just not going to happen (again).

I do, however, plan to devote as much time as I can to editing. I want the first round of edits, and possibly another once over, done by the time the movers come to pack up my house.

My pom-poms are out though. I’m ready to cheer on my friends. I know that this coming month will be full of pressure and fun, rough spots and excitement—and for those who survive, a sense of accomplishment and a neat little certificate.

Write on!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dancing before the Lord

David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might…” -2 Samuel 6:14

It’s Monday morning—the start of a brand new week!

Last week is gone—in the past, old news—we’ve been there, done that. Next week is so far off and never guaranteed. But this week, today, is here and now. A gift from the Lord.

Monday is especially special—the day after Sunday. The day after we join with others to worship the Lord along with other believers. Our cups have been refilled and we’re ready to tackle another week with renewed vigor.

How often do we worship the Lord during the week? I’m not just talking prayer…but uninhibited worship?

In 2 Samuel 6, David brings the Ark to Jerusalem. As the Ark came up the street, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. Then he danced.

I love to dance. It is freeing to use all of my body in expression. I turn up the praise and worship music…and just let go. (Of course, sometimes my husband catches me and looks at me weird, my girls just join in. lol…)

Dance is not the only way to worship the Lord, of course. Music of any kind, prayer, thanksgiving, work…anything can be worship when done to the glory of the Lord. Obedience is a big one…but that is a whole other post in itself.

Today, though—today I am going to dance.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Let's Share! -- Excerpts

I know you all are ready for another teaser. This comes from the end of my most recently edited chapter. I'm open to any advice or comments. And feel free to post your own short excerpt--I'm anxious to see what my friends are writing as well. :)

In this scene, Graham and Ninevah are caught in a fire at a factory. All normal escape routes are either blocked, or they don't know how to get there, forcing them to the one window without bars on the second floor. Here ya go:

Her balance wavered, but she pulled herself onto the window ledge. She stood there, motionless.

“What are you doing?”

She didn’t answer.

“Ninevah, are you okay?”

“It’s too high.”

He groaned. Why did she have to be afraid of heights? He wiped a hand across the sweat on his forehead. It was hot. “Ninevah, I know you’re scared. But you have to jump.”

“I can’t.”

“Yes, you can. I know you can. It’s not as far as it looks.”

“Graham, I can’t.”

So much for easing into it. “Ninevah, do you want to die? Because that’s what’s going to happen if you don’t jump.”

She whimpered, but didn’t move.

He reined his voice in. “Ninevah, look at me.”

She turned her head to peer down at him.

“Ninevah, I know this is scary. I’m scared for you. But you have to do this.”

She nodded ever so slightly.

“On the count of three, okay?”

She turned back to the outside.


Her fingers turned white against the dark frame of the window.


Her knees bent.


A piercing scream rang out above the din of the fire as her body disappeared from his view. The sound faded until he couldn’t hear anything. He waited. Nothing. Did she make it?

He raced to the window and hoisted himself up in a second. He balanced his boots on the window sill and searched for Ninevah. He found her on the rooftop in a crumpled heap. He watched, but she didn’t move.

Taking a deep breath, he jumped—arms spread, lungs frozen. The world rushed beneath him. The rooftop approached at lightning speed. He bent his knees to brace for impact. His feet hit, and he bent forward into a rolling tuck. The jolt took his breath away. No time to relax. He turned to his side.

Your turn--let's share!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fun with Writing Quotes


That’s right, that’s what today is about.

Writer’s write. That’s what we do when we cut to the basics—when we ignore the pesky guidelines, when we push aside the outlines and the character sheets, when we manage to BICHOK—Writers write.

But sometimes, we reach a point where we get discouraged. Or we suffer from a bout of writer’s block. Or life keeps getting in the way.

How about a little inspiration? Let’s explore some fun quotes on writing.

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ~Ray Bradbury

Well, if that isn’t a call to write every day, I don’t know what is. Writing is like any talent, I’m sure. It fades a bit if you don’t use it. Don’t use it long enough, and it has to be redeveloped—if it’s even still there.

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia. ~E.L. Doctorow

Yes! The voices in my head are normal. I just tell people I’m a writer, and suddenly it’s okay that I talk to myself, answer myself, carry on whole conversations with myself. And it’s only mildly amusing when I start dancing around the living room as I act out scenes.

I try to leave out the parts that people skip. ~Elmore Leonard
Noble advice—good habit. DO NOT write the parts people skip. ‘Nuff said.

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. ~Vladimir Nabakov

I included this quote because one thing I love about the blank page is the infinite possibilities. As writers, we have the power to make anything happen. Anything. If we want a hero to rescue a damsel-in-distress, we can. If we want the damsel to save the hero, hey, more power to our uniqueness. If we want aliens to come down from outer space and zap the hero and damsel to their spaceship and do experiments on them—well, we may need a little help—but it’s still entertainment!

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. ~Anton Chekhov

This quote just makes me want to go back through my manuscript and find as many “moons” as I can to improvise a more elegant way of showing. A challenge issued—I will prevail!

Ink and paper are sometimes passionate lovers, oftentimes brother and sister, and occasionally mortal enemies. ~Terri Guillemets

A wonderful quote of the overall writing experience. I know that there are many days where I fight to get words on the page; it’s like dragging a cat to the bathtub. But there are quite a few days where I don’t struggle so hard and manage some decent headway. Then there are those rare days when it all just clicks. The characters, the plot, action, dialogue—it’s all working and I write with such fervor until I am completely spent.

What’s your experience?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Be Strong and Take Heart

“Wait for the Lord, be strong and have heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

Over the past couple of months, I’ve realized that the Lord is preparing me for a season of change. Little by little, bit by bit, He is revealing His plan. It’s kind of hard, though, to know only part of the plan.

I have the type of personality that when big changes are coming, I need all the information. I need to be able to formulate my plan of “attack”—lists, schedules, you know the deal. A good example is this looming Hawaii trip. I know we’re moving. Yet, other than going through my household to get rid of trash and other items we no longer need. I can’t plan much else. My husband has all this stuff that has to be completed before he can get his orders cut and we can start making plans. It’s driving me nuts!

God works the same way as the Army sometimes.

We know from the Bible that, like the Army, we are on a need to know basis with God. He has a plan, and if we’re willing, He will use us. When He has something for us to do, He may disclose a small part of what’s in store, in order that we can start making the appropriate changes in our life.

In the Old Testament, God told Abraham that He would bless him with a son—yet that didn’t happen until twenty-five years later. In the New Testament, God had a plan for Saul (who later became Paul), and incited a change in him, even though it was years later before He sent Paul to the Gentiles.

In this verse, we are not only told to wait on the Lord, but to be strong and have heart while we do so. This is the part most of us struggle with. It can be frustrating and discouraging to wait—but it really shouldn’t be. God wants us to be strong and have heart because He has something in store for us—something better than we can imagine.

I know something big awaits me in Hawaii, and I know God has used the past couple of months, and will use the next couple of months, to prepare me. I’m not fretting over what that “big thing” is, instead, I’m using this time to deepen my relations ship with the Lord, letting Him shape my life to fit His plan so that when my time comes, I’ll be ready.

Are you waiting? What have you done to stay strong and take heart?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Let's Share! -- When I Grow Up...

Happy Friday!

No one quite has the imagination of a child. Also, no one can change their minds on a whim as much as a child. Yet, we should approach our dreams with child-like imagination. The stars are the limit...well, these days, even those aren't the limit.

When I was younger, I wanted to be a teacher, a dancer, and a newspaper reporter. When I got oldereeeee (high school), I bounced back and forth between a teacher and a drug & alcohol abuse counselor. These are all in addition to being a writer, of course, which I've loved since I could pick up a pencil.

Those dreams changed, of course, except for being a writer. Although they still manifest in my life in different ways. I don't want to be a teacher in a public school, but instead, I desire to train my children up in the way of the Lord and give them a solid education myself. I don't want to be a drug & alcohol counselor, but I still am an open ear to whoever needs to talk. And when the Lord leads, I can bring them a bit of peace, a word of advice. And, oddly, I hate the news. I never watch it. However, I am finding a love for article writing that I never thought I'd have (preferring fiction).

What about you? What did you want to be when you grow up? Anything influence what you did become?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dare to Dream

It occurs to me this morning that there are only 79 days left in 2010. 79! That’s crazy. Remember those goals we made almost 10 months ago? Yeah…only 79 days left to fulfill those goals. Oy!

Possibly more important than those goals, what have you done to reach your dreams?

Do you know what your dreams are?

Over the next several weeks (until the day after Thanksgiving), I’m going to be focusing on achieving our dreams, no matter how big or small, in most of my Monday/Wednesday/Friday posts. (Tuesdays will still be Get To Know interviews, and Thursday will still be writing related!)

We’re going to prepare to make 2011 the year of dreams come true—Cinderella-style! Okay, maybe not Cinderella-style, but I’m sure she’ll make an appearance.

In the meantime, be thinking on those questions: Do you know what your dreams are? What have you done to reach them? Let your mind wander…

Sunday, October 10, 2010

10 Top 10 in 2010

10 Top 10 in 2010

Welcome to my opportunity to throw out some link love to friends and websites that have made a difference in my life. As well as give you a few other lists that I want to share. Most of these lists are in no particular order.

Top 10 Favorite Websites

1. Facebook – Yes, I’m addicted.
2. Writing.Com – If you didn’t catch my post on it, read it here.
3. Wives of Faith – One of my new favs, this website is a support and encouragement for military wives.
4. Twitter – Yes, I’m addicted.
5. Cafemom – a great place to meet other mothers. I use it when I find out I’m PCSing to make some friends ahead of time.
6. Swagbucks – a new place for me, I’m trying to earn Amazon gift cards!
7. ACFW – a wealth of information for the Christian fiction writer
8. GA Peach Homeschool – a great resource for homeschoolers on a budget!
9. Brightly Beaming Resources – A homeschool website for tots to Kindergarten, we are using their Letter of the Week curriculum this year.
10. Faith Writers – Kind of like Writing.Com but specifically for Christian writers.

Top 10 Websites I Visit Almost Every Day (not including blogs)

1. Yahoo Mail
2. Facebook
3. Twitter
5. Wives of Faith
7. My bank website
8. Swagbucks
9. Amazon – I have a very long wish list.
10. Cafemom

Top 10 Favorite Blogs

1. Word Vessel – blog of my ACFW critique partner. She’s a darling and does fab reviews/giveaways.
2. Confessions of a Homeschooler (homeschool)
3. The Writers Alley (writing)
4. Tuckers Take Tennessee (homeschool)
5. The Kill Zone (writing)
6. Building His Body (Christian)
7. Jill Kimerer (writing)
8. The New Author Fellowship (writing--but a good mix of other stuff too)
9. SM Blooding and Crew (mostly writing)
10. Chasing Dreams (one woman's tale of her writing journey)

Top 10 Favorite Authors

1. Frank Peretti
2. John B. Olson
3. Karen Kingsbury
4. Ted Dekker
5. C.S. Lewis
6. Luanne Rice
7. Mary Higgins Clark
8. Mary Connealy
9. Cathy Bryant
10. Alex Lidell

Top 10 Childhood Authors

1. Shel Silverstein (Children’s Poetry)
2. Lois Duncan
3. Beverly Cleary (Ramona and others)
4. Lurlene McDaniels (Six Months to Live Series and others)
5. Carolyn Keene (Nancy Drew)
6. Lois Lowery (The Giver and Number the Stars)
7. Scott O’Dell (Island of the Blue Dolphins, Black Star Bright Dawn)
8. Francine Pascal (Sweet Valley Series)
9. Carolyn Cooney (Face on the Milk Carton Series and others)
10. Gertrude Chandler Warner (The Box Car Children)

Top 10 Places I Want to Visit

1. Italy
2. Australia
3. Israel
4. Disney World (ok, I’ve already been, but am so excited to take the kids)
5. Niagra Falls
6. San Francisco
7. Hawaii (oh, wait, I’m going to be doing that soon!)
8. Aspen
9. Caribbean
10. Egypt

Top 10 People Who Influenced Who I am Today

1. Mom – She was a wonderful mother and I can only hope to be half the woman she is.
2. Dad – He did his part to serve our country and taught me about standing up for what I believe in.
3. Ms. Melodie Pooler and Mrs. Kirby – English teachers I had growing up that encouraged me to write.
4. Shel Silverstein – He is who inspired me to write at such a young age.
5. Beth Moore – Helped me evolve in my relationship with God.
6. My husband – Taught me to follow my heart and not give up.
7. My kids – Taught me to ease up and enjoy life.
8. My aunt – She got me to go back to church after several years.
9. Helen Keller – has been a role model for me since childhood.
10. A certain Sunday School teacher who tried to teach me that it was okay to be a Christian and be different from the rest of the world—although that wouldn’t stick for years to come.

10 Things about Me

1. I had surgery to remove a tumor in my neck when I was two days old.
2. I was a military brat growing up, and then I married back into the military. Sheesh—you think I’d try to get out of it.
3. I was published in a city-wide literary magazine when I was in the third grade for a paragraph on Martin Luther King. Hehehe… Go me! Does that count as a publishing credit?
4. I was in 4-H for several years, and was bummed to have to drop it when we moved to KY and they didn’t have the program for high school students.
5. My favorite movie is Enchanted, followed closely by the LotR and Star Wars trilogies. Yes, I am very eclectic in my tastes.
6. Right now, my family all live in different states. My parents in VA, one sister in KY, one in NV, and me in KS (soon to be HI). I know, that was random.
7. I have always had series health issues.
8. I just recently started blogging for Wives of Faith.
9. All my kids’ names are Celtic in origin b/c my husband is part Irish.
10. I graduated in the Top 10 in my class—and I don’t think I remember anything outside of English.

10 Things I Love

1. My family
2. My friends
3. Rainy days when I can curl up with a good book/movie
4. Snow (I’m an oddball)
5. Disney movies
6. Pizza and Lasagna
7. The color purple
8. Teaching my children
10. Social Media (horrible, I know)

10 Things I Despise

1. Beans and Fish
2. Diabetes
3. Crude humor
4. Politics
5. People who are fake
6. People who disrespect the military
7. Spiders and small, dark places
8. Doing the dishes
9. Gratuitous sex/violence/cursing in books and movies
10. Speed Limits—hehehe…

Friday, October 8, 2010


(The girls were flower girls in my good friend and college roommates wedding last weekend.)

Happy Friday!

I apologize that this month's update is coming about kind of late. It slipped my mind that I hadn't posted one yet. That's ok, just more to tell, right?

Well, if you don't already know, my husband received orders last month. We're moving to Hawaii! We are very excited. I am a little sad to be leaving my friends and fellow writers here in Kansas, but military life is a transiate one, and I'm used to it. It's how I end up with friends all over the country.

The move is a quick one. We'll be leaving here the beginning of December, taking about thirty days to visit family, and then arrive in Hawaii either the end of Dec/beginning Jan. You all may think I'm crazy, but I'm going to miss the snow. Yes, I love snow.

The kids are doing fabulous. We started homeschooling in September. If you saw my post the other day, you know that so far it is going pretty well. It's taking me some time to figure out how to get organized for each week and each day, but it hasn't been discouraging. The girls love it though. And they are so smart!

Connor is getting huge! He's in 6-9 month clothing. He's not big by any means, he's just long for his age. A little wiggler, too. He is squealing, cooing, smiling--so entertaining. I think he might be starting to teeth, too. Not sure I'm ready for that. He's starting to grasp toys and play with them. It's fun to watch and interact with him. He has his four month appointment on th 17th. I can hardly believe he's already four months.

Due to life in general, not much writing has taken place over the last month. I don't have time during the day to focus, so editing is kind of out of the question. But, by the time the kids are all in bed, I'm too exhausted to do much of anything. I don't know, though, if I'm going to call myself a writer, I need to start kicking myself in the pants.

My goal for this month is to edit another ten chapters. I know that's not a lot, but it's more than nothing.

What are your goals for October? Oh, and who's going to participate in NaNoWriMo?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hooks and Endings

We all know that we have mere pages to hook our reader’s interest in our story. There are certain things that need to be in the first paragraph, first page, first chapter that will engage the reader and keep them reading.

But what about after the first chapter? What keeps them from putting the book back on the shelf? Or cleaning the kitchen? Or, worse yet--*gulp*--turning on the TV?

Hooks are a continuous part of our novels. Each chapter beginning should start with something to grab the reader’s attention, just like the first chapter. It doesn’t have to drop you into the middle of a big action scene, but it should spark the reader’s curiosity.

Just opposite of the beginning, of course, is the end of the chapter. The end of a section is a good opportunity for the reader to put the book down for a bit or even so they can go to bed. A writer’s job is to make that as hard as possible. Yes, we can torture our readers as well as our characters.

The end of chapter should end propelling the reader into the next chapter (where they will be hooked by the beginning…see the endless, vicious cycle?) to find out something. Great places to stop our called cliffhangers. Some will be stronger than others, some are emotional and others are physical situations. Either way, they should leave the reader with a question in their mind? Will the heroine escape the fire? Will Bob cave to his fear and not ask Miss Marilynn to marry him? Where’s the baby? Got milk?

So, how do we accomplish these tasks over and over again? Here’s some tips and tricks:

*Create conflict/tension at the beginning of the chapter, stop at the height of it in the end.

*Drop the reader into the middle of an action scene, stop before an action scene is completely resolved.

*Avoid pleasantries to open/close a chapter. I’ve read in different places that most of the time, a writer can cut the first few lines, or the last few lines from a chapter, and the reader will still have all the information they need, but the pacing will be better (and possibly the tension/conflict stronger).

*Before you answer a story question, propose another one. Also, put off resolutions until the next chapter, but don’t forget to raise the stakes.

*Unless you’re writing a suspense/thriller/horror novel, not every chapter can be filled with non-stop action. Even in those novels, writers have to give the readers a break. Work on finding emotional hooks/cliffhangers to keep the tension high without resorting to someone getting killed or landing in the middle of some precarious situation.

*Never take the easy way out.

Here’s an example from my WIP:

End of Chapter 11:

She stood and brushed the loose grass from her pants. “Did you come back to harass the crazy lady?

“Do you really think you can help?”

She drew her lips into a line and shook her head. “I don’t know. I have no idea what God intends for me to do with this gift. The fact is I witnessed the murder for a reason and now I need to see it through.”

He stared off into the distance. His jaw muscles twitched.

She didn’t care if he believed her—it wasn’t like he needed to—but she needed to solve this puzzle. Her whole body ached for answers.

At last, he jerked his head toward the car. “Get in,” he growled. “But not a word to anyone as to why you are with me. Understood?”

Beginning of Chapter 12:

Axriel approached Rochester’s new office with his blood boiling. The human body’s reaction to anger aggravated him even more. The racing of his heart, the drumming in his temples, the way his skin turned an ugly shade of scarlet never ceased to irritate him. Sure, he got angry. In fact, he got angry quite a bit, but his demon form showed no physical signs. He was free to act on that emotion as well. He didn’t have to cower behind human confines and relegate his anger to a small corner of his mind.

What do you think?

When we keep our hooks/endings strong, that’s when we hear of readers who stayed up til 3 a.m. to finish our novels. We get to be the blame for tired moms, zombie employees, and children who fall asleep in class. That’s quite the accomplishment, isn’t it?

What other tips and tricks do you have to offer? Also, I would love to read your favorite chapter endings/beginnings from your own WIP.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

They Get It!

Wow! They really get it.

By "they" I mean my daughters. As you all know, we began homeschooling this year with a laid back pre-k curriculum. We've been at it officially for a couple of weeks.

It has been such a blessing to be able to watch them learn in a purposeful environment. We are learning our letters (well, they already know most of them) and their sounds through the Letter of the Week curriculum. It incorporates all basic subjects under the focus of that weeks letter.

For instance, this week we are on the letter "B". In addition to learning the sound and how to write, we are also studying bears, butterflies, ballerinas, and bananas. We're lacing butterflies, matching bears, dancing like ballerinas...just having a ball. Reading is becoming a favorite activity--finally.

They love it (most of the time). And I get a thrill when I ask them a question in a review and they KNOW the answer. It's also great to see the differences in the girls--in their learning styles (which are still developing) and in their strengths subject wise.

You know...maybe with God's help, I can do this.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

VOTW - Whose Approval?

I ran into some friends the other day that I hadn’t seen in years. In fact, I hadn’t seen them since I had kids—over four years ago. It’s always nice to get together with people after an extensive time apart and catch up, especially if it feels just like old times, don’t you think?

I love catching up with old friends, except for one thing, I’m not who I was back then. As I’ve matured and grown closer in my relationship with Christ, I’ve become a different person on a different path then the girl these people knew. I’m not afraid to be different, not worried about following the crowd. Yet, when questioned about some lifestyle choices (in a curious fashion, not a judgmental one), like homeschooling, I found out I still want to be accepted. I felt the need to qualify my decisions, even though my friends weren’t questioning my choices. My defenses went up automatically.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Gal 1:10

This verse comes in the beginning of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, who were falling prey to false gospels. They were compromising their beliefs to fit in, much like the old me.

This is an area of weakness I know I have to fight. As believers, we are not here to win the hearts of those around us. In fact, the Bible says that the world will not understand us, nor will they like us. Instead, we seek to please God. We cannot serve two masters—the world and God. Their moralities don’t mix.

So, as we go into the first full week of October, let’s reflect on whose approval it is we seek!