Welcome Aboard

Welcome to my first blog.
I'm excited you've come along for the ride with me, as I blog my thoughts and adventures on the way to being a published writer. Take a look around, post a comment or two, and enjoy!

31 July, 2010

Out with the old

I've been doing a major cleaning project in my home. Something God's been prodding me to do for three years, I'm now doing it.
It's been a cleansing process and a reminder of my past life: what was important to me, how much stuff I've accumulated. Yesterday I took five boxes of books to Goodwill and a bag of clothing. I've worn out my poor paper shredder, and I'm going through boxes from my move two years ago.
It feels good to purge all this unnecessary junk. And it's been rewarding. I was going through some papers and I found a bank envelope. The kind they give you at the drive thru teller. I thought to myself as I prepared to throw it away: " wouldn't it be funny if there was money in it?" I open it out of curiosity and shrieked. There was money in it. $40.00.
I said Praise the Lord I can put gas in my car next month.
Due to changing schools I find myself short a week's pay next month. Ouch you say. God just showed me how He blesses obedience.
So right now I'm going back in and finishing my cleaning goal for the day.
He truly is faithful.

30 July, 2010

Too much

I woke up this morning at 10 am. Two and a half hours later than my usual summer wake up time.
As a result I've been behind the eight ball all day. I know I'm exhausted from being out in the 100 degree weather all week and it caught up with me, but I needed those hours in waking mode not sleeping mode.
I did get my morning quiet time in. More treasures from Mark chapter 1.
I got the first draft of my novel printed out and ready for the first revision.
I had errands I've put off doing all week that I had to do. So now it's 5pm and I have to pick up my daughter and her friend, go to my youngest nephew's karate tournament, and still squeeze in four hours of editing.
Phew.
Yeah that verse is appropriate: I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13.

29 July, 2010

Temptation

I'm doing a slow reread of Mark during my evening quiet time, but today I decided to switch it to the morning.
Mark 1:13 talks about Jesus being in the wilderness 40 days being tempted by satan. My original impression was satan bothered Jesus 3 times (see Matt 4), but then I looked up Hebrews 4:15 "...but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." Thinking about all the temptations I've gone through, Jesus endured alot of temptation during those 40 days. Jesus in Matthew ch4, quoted out of the book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy is a book Moses wrote to remind the Israelites of God's covenant. Reminder of their past, and a charge to be faithful.
In my life, and ours as believers, Deuteronomy reminds us of who we were, who we are, who God is and His promises to us. Once you have that ingrained in your mind and solidified in your heart, the lusts of this world will have no teeth.
I challenge you and myself to read Deuteronomy with a fresh pair of eyes

28 July, 2010

Reading Esther

Reading
I've started reading a book during my morning quiet time called "Living by the book". By Howard Hendricks
It teaches you how to study the bible. It's great for those of us who want to learn more about God's word without getting a seminary degree.
Today I learned about the value of rereading.
The homework is to read the book of Esther daily for the next 7 days. And not only that but to try reading it in different translations. I am blessed to have a bible app on my iPhone that has the bible in every translation and in every language dating back to the Luther bible of the 1500s.
Today I read Esther in the Message translation.
It does make a difference. I've read it in the New King James before but I never caught that Esther was queen 5 years before her time of testing. Or that King Xerxes allowed Haman to order the mass genocide of the Jews without a second thought.
I'm looking forward to seeing what else I discover as I read it again tomorrow.

27 July, 2010

What's the point?

I read an interesting e-article this morning about Christian Fiction.
The author made a valid point about his disappointment in Inspirational Christian Fiction which I will refer to as ICF.
To me the genre is similar to cotton candy. It's enjoyable for a time but there is no real substance to it.
There are some authors I feel inspired to make a change in my life after reading their work, but no one gets me on that deep gut-wrenching level.
As a writer who would like to get published, I have read all the "requirements" for getting a manuscript published by a Christian publisher. Long list of dont's.
But if you look at the real issues facing us today, and you look at what is being published there is a huge disparity.
To grow in your walk with Christ you have to read God's word- the bible. But God also gifted some of us with the gifts of discernment, prophecy, teaching; as well as creating us with the talent of writing. For us to use it for His glory.
So what's a person who feels strongly about writing a novel on sexual abuse to do? They have to find a non-Christian publisher.
One of the greatest problems facing Christians today is their fear of going deep. Content to float on the surface, they miss the abundant life Jesus promised. Why? Fear of the unknown? Unwillingness to let go of detrimental behaviors? Lots of things.
Let's say you have struggled all your life with lack of self esteem, no self-worth. What if you were browsing in the bookstore and found a novel about a woman who was so poor in self esteem she had been through marriage after marriage. Suffered mistreatment at the hands of some of her husbands, and finally decided to sleep around. Matter of fact she's living with a guy right now who she's not married to. You see similarities with you so you get it, hoping her life turns out better than yours.
Does it? If you've read John 4 you know the answer.
It's in the bible but it's considered too controversial for ICF.
My writing is Christ focused but it is not targeted to the ICF market. Primarily for non-believers though believers that want to go deep will find some that resonate with them, I won't be holding back.
May of this year I wrote a children's book dealing with sexual abuse. It breaks the ICF rules and that's fine. The important thing is that the reader knows he or she is not alone, that it's not their fault, that they can talk to someone about it; and that most importantly, God loves them.
To me the I in ICF should inspire you to change, to make a leap of faith, to grow more in your relationship with Jesus, to dive deep, to read God's word with new eyes.

26 July, 2010

Be Faithful, God Restores

From my journal dated May 1,2010.
Still sick so here goes...
I was reading in my journal during my morning bible time and I came across this note to myself.
I wonder if I was thinking about the verse in Joel 2:25...and He shall restore the years the locust have eaten.
Do you feel like it's too late to live the life God has asked you to? Do you think you don't deserve His blessing?
All I can say is be faithful, God restores.
Take the first step of obedience and watch what happens. 

25 July, 2010

Under the weather

Today's blog will be short as I am under the weather. Apparently I picked up a bug from one of my drama students last week. 
I hate being sick, but it does force me to slow down which is a good thing.
I have spent 11 days away from my novel. Time enough to go back and start my first revision. But before I change anything I need to plan it out. I have always been a seat of my pants writer. The closest I've ever come to planning was in college, working on a paper for class, I would jot down the important quotes I was going to use on index cards and then number them. As I wrote my paper I would grab an index card, insert the note and continue.
God had me sit down and outline this novel I just completed. There were times I would get stuck and then I would remember: hey, look at the outline, see what comes next.
So as I prepare to revise my novel, the first step is to plan what to do. In teaching you know that when you plan your lesson you start with the end in mind: what do you want the students to learn: i.e. the test, and  build your instruction around it.
For my novel the end result is to have a manuscript ready to submit to agents.
I need plan how I'm going to make improvements to it: Do I need to read up on how to revise a novel? Yes. Do I need to correct the grammatical errors? Yes. Do I need to check for description, dialogue, add scenes, shorten chapters, make sure there is conflict in every chapter? Yes. How about my ending? Is the cliffhanger big enough for me to write two more books in this series as I plan?
All of this cannot be done seat of my pants style.
Each of these has to be planned out.
Time for some more cold Medicine. 
Let the fun begin.

23 July, 2010

I can do all things

I love movies. Ever since watching Star Wars at the drive in as a child, movies have enthralled me.
I tried my hand at writing my first screenplay in 2004. It was about a coffee shop owner. Wasn't very good. Since then I've written two complete screenplays. One is science fiction. The other is set in medieval times.
I've had this idea for a movie. It is about a pregnant teen.
When I think about writing it, I get the feeling that I should not only write it, but direct it. That I should make this movie, not just sell the screenplay and see who buys it.
This is way out of my comfort zone, but after having spent the past week teaching drama: stage direction, voice, tone, characterization. etc.
I realized that I spent the week as a director. I turned 29 kids into actors and actresses. God showed me it is possible.
So when God gives me the green light to start writing the screenplay, securing financing, etc., I have this experience to look back upon and know
"I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

22 July, 2010

Why are people so afraid of change?

In my YA novel the main characters go through change. Change for the better. In the process of this change, they go through challenges, perils, tragedy. Whatever I think they need to make them the person I want them to be in the end.
They don't understand the why of it, but I do.
God is like that in our lives. He sees the person He wants us to become and sets in motion events and circumstances to guide us into that change.
It isn't easy and at times it can be painful. Plus we don't know what we are changing into.
Fear knocks on the door and we let it in. Fear is a strong emotion. We grab hold of it, not realizing that strong emotion is not there to help us but to pin us down.
Under the weight of fear we cry out to God.
You don't have to be afraid, but you do have to trust.
Trust and fear are polar opposites. Both vying to be your north pole, but there can be only one.
If you truly trust God then He is your north pole.
Do you trust Him to change you into the person He wants even though you won't know what that is until He is finished?
Hmmm.

21 July, 2010

Sometimes you have to let go

I was reading my daily devotional when I noticed a similarity between what that author wrote and my life.
She felt God calling her to let go of her previous way of writing and embrace a new form of writing. She prayed about it, obeyed, and was blessed by it. 
I have enjoyed, for several years now, my non- fiction writing about God and Christian living. I wrote weekly emails, I've written articles. I even completed writing a discipleship workbook for new believers. I knew God had called me to be a writer, He confirmed it for me on a trip to Greece in October of 2007. So I was pursuing the type of writing I thought would be pleasing to God.
April of this year I felt God trying to get my attention about my writing. I felt Him calling me to write fiction. Now in the past I've  written short stories, screenplays, and even some children's picture books, but I thought that couldn't be what God wanted me to do. He wants me to write bestselling nonfiction books to help hurting women, to help new believers. I determined to focus on the writing I thought God called me to.
But this feeling would not leave me. So I prayed and put aside my own desires and opened myself up to hear Him.
He told me to finish my novel. What fiction? Yes. Finish that novel. But Lord, what about all these great faith articles I've written? I need to get them published. You know reach the world...
God told me: your articles will go on your blog. I want you to focus on finishing the novel. Don't worry. My glory will be revealed in it.
My path is not to be the next Beth Moore, but to reach the hurting and lost through my fiction writing.
When I set my foot on His path for my writing I felt and still do at peace.
I love writing fiction. It is the desire of God's heart and mine as well.
I have a list of story ideas to turn into novels once I have completed the revisions on my first one.
3 weeks until I return to work as a teacher. Three weeks to finish all revisions, submit to an agent, and begin the next novel.
It's going to be an exciting three weeks.

20 July, 2010

Self Defense

Self defense
As if my day wasn't full enough yesterday with teaching drama, and reading fiction, I spent two hours last night at a self defense course.
I highly recommend a basic self defense course for everyone, but today I'm talking to a specific group of women.
I know someone who has suffered the devastating tragedy of rape. Victims of sexual assault have their very identity stolen. They become a completely different person. A person full of fear, and self doubts, and self hate. It may take them years to go out after dark. You may notice them triple checking the locks on the doors, looking under the beds, in closets, in showers, etc. Every night before they can go to bed. They may even get up in the middle of the night and do it all over again.
If this describes you then I encourage you to take a self defense class. It helps in a number of ways.
It helps you to know how to avoid looking like a target. It helps you preplan how to get out of certain holds, like being grabbed from behind, hands around your throat, etc. It also allows you to practice.
Last night our two instructors showed us several techniques. We then practiced each technique until they felt we had it down.
One of the biggest fears he said women have is they are afraid to hit another person. It's contrary to our mothering nature, but someone who is trying to hurt you is not looking for you to be their mother.
The class helped me feel less vulnerable and less afraid.
2Timothy 1:7 God did not give us a spirit of fear.
Conquering a deep fear requires faith in God. Faith is action.
I believe God wants me to write, and so in faith I have begun my writing career. Action
I took the class to feel less vulnerable, to help me conquer fear so I can backpack the Appalachian Trail. So I can go out at night alone without being afraid.
Put your faith in God into action. Get training to help you exercise your faith, and get out there.

19 July, 2010

Something different

The writer is a drama teacher, at least for this week. I am teaching Introductory drama to 2-5th graders. I'm on a short break between classes while I write this.
As a school teacher my students are usually 8th graders I teach science to. So this is definitely a different experience for me. I'm loving every minute of it. It's stretching me, a normally quiet person, out of my comfort zone. Especially since I spent the past month burrowed away in my writing cave finishing my first novel.
The kids are excited to be here. The adults are too. It's also a chance to connect with fellow orchestra members, during lunch, who are teaching this week, and a chance to spend extended time in God's house.
"Count your blessings name them one by one. Count your many blessings see what God has done..." A great song. Reminds me of Psalm 139:17-18.
Yes I am truly blessed.

17 July, 2010

What Now?

So what does a writer who has just finished writing her first YA (young adult) novel do?
She puts it on "the shelf", and works on other writing.
She also submits her first children's story to another agent, knowing that eventually she will find one who likes her writing and will pursue publication.
What does on "the shelf" mean?
Basically the writer steps away from the first draft for two to four weeks and lets her mind wander on to other things. Then she comes back and does a revision, usually two or three, before submitting it to an agent.
Why?
Well let's look at an example. My novel centers around a teen in a world different from our own. Food looks and tastes the same, but it all has different names. There are holy men and evil wizards; mythical creatures, and sword fights. I literally had to create another world. So caught up in this other world was I, that I would dream about it at night, skip breakfast and sometimes lunch because my mind was in their world. I was in my writing zone. Which is where you want to be, but it also means you're in so deep, that it can hinder the Second part of writing: revision.
I have to be able to pick apart the 189 typewritten pages: cut out what is unnecessary, add descriptions, or dialogue, or even whole scenes where needed; delete characters that don't drive the story forward, add conflict where it's missing.
Like we are the clay and God is the potter refining us.
My plan while my novel is on "the shelf" is to revise my second children's story, read some good fiction books to analyze their writing, and finish a screenplay I started about a year ago. Poor girl has been clinging to that rock all this time.
I'm glad God asked me to put that screenplay aside and write this novel. I wasn't when I started, I really like the third screenplay I'm writing.
Now when I'm working on the other screenplays and novels, I can look at this novel and see that "everything is possible to the one who believes"
That would be Jesus in Mark 9:23.

13 July, 2010

Novel number one, completed

On this day July 13, 2010 at 11:09 am, I finished writing my first novel.
I really didn't think I could do it, but Jesus did. He helped me along the whole way.  I am so happy. I feel like a writer. I've already lined up two publishers and three agents I want to submit it to once it goes through a revision.
Basically it has to sit for a couple of weeks. Then I go back and reread and revise it. But while it's sitting I'll be working on a screenplay and possibly a novella. Whatever God wants me to write.
All things really are possible to those who have faith enough to believe, and ask for help with their unbelief when they don't.

12 July, 2010

5,000 words

5,000 words.
Today I wrote almost five thousands words on my novel. Four hours worth of writing. I’m not finished for today. I will probably write another five hundred before I go to bed. But I am pumped and excited. And a little hungry. The Snickers candy bar a distant memory in my now empty stomach.

When God told me to write this novel. I didn’t believe it was possible. Now as I look back at the 40,000 words I’ve written and another 15 to 25,000 to go. I see He was write (right).

I get so energized by writing. I love living in this world I’ve created, seeing the characters come alive. As they make decision that are for their benefit, or in the case of my lead character results in the near death of someone dear to her.

I know if I wanted to push myself I could sit here another four hours and crank out the climax of the scene that leads to a huge battle, but my eyes are getting blurry, my bums going to sleep and I have a 16 year old that needs to get out of the house and enjoy some sunshine. Plus the empty stomach thing. I have to be good to my body.

It’s nice to be getting close to completing something worth doing in my life. I am grateful to God for this free time. I have a strong feeling my novel will be finished this week. The very thought amazes me. Power of God. It’s real.

10 July, 2010

Scotland

I have reached the halfway point in writing my first novel. I'm so excited to be on target to complete it on time.
I have two other novels I am raring to go on once I've completed this one. I looked at the premise for both and realize it is going to require a trip to Scotland to do in person research.
Now you could argue that I can check out some books and DVDs from the library. I thought about that, and realized I need that authenticity that can only be had from a first person experience. It's also the chance to do research on two, possibly three novels.
On my walk today I prayed about it and got the "green light" from God.
First step is planning.
Knowing what time of year to go, how long to go, and the cost involved is crucial.
Cost. Money. Unfortunately flying to Great Britain (then a train to Scotland), is not cheap. Going airfare is around $800.00.
But I belong to the creator of the universe. What's a measly $1,200.00 to $1,500.00 dollars to Him?
God wants me to go ahead and plan the trip, so I know He will provide a way.
Heb11.1 Faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the certainty of things not seen.
Amen!

07 July, 2010

24 Hours

I went on a fast for 24 hours. The last time I attempted it I didn't make it past lunch. I did it to clear my head and focus on the power of Jesus.
I know not everyone can fast that long because of health reasons, and God knows that. I also know people that fast for days or weeks. I think fasting is individual, and should be based on what you seek to accomplish.
So my hunger pains started around 10 am. They increased in magnitude until around 2pm.
I was able to push them aside when I focused on my goal: clearing my head and Jesus.
Around 4pm such a feeling of peace came over me. I felt like my head was clearer and I was more focused.
Around 9pm something funny was going on with me. I felt like I was doing something different. Then it dawned on me, I was deep breathing.
Stress and anxiety can cause you to breathe shallow. I hadn't breathed deeply in so long (except for a checkup), I had forgotten how it feels.
I have to tell you, it felt wonderful.
Right now the lead character in the novel I'm writing is going through a time of stress. Two choices will be set before her. Both look good on the outside, but one way leads to her ruin.
Can't give away her decision. I know what I wrote down in the outline that she would do, but she may decide differently.
I have about five weeks left before I resume teaching duties. Five weeks to finish my novel. I didn't think it was possible at first. Just like I didn't think I could go 24 hours without food, but God has been showing me that by stretching myself alittle further, by committing my free time to writing and not mindless pursuits, it can be done.

03 July, 2010

What are you waiting for?

I'm watching the funeral procession of the two officers that were killed and it makes me think of two things: eternity and love.
I'm sure those men thought they had tomorrow to make a lot of decisions. I'm sure they thought they'd be home after their shift, but that's not what happened. Their lives were taken in a senseless act. All the plans they had for their future and their family's future-gone.
You can't make a decision for eternity after your gone. The time for that decision is now. Choose Christ. It's the one decision you won't regret making.
I also thought about love. The bible says- We love because He first loved us.
Do you love someone? Tell them, while it is still called today, because you may not get another chance.
Are you afraid to say the words? God will search your heart and give you strength.
1Corinthians 13 says "the greatest of these is love." Don't know how to love? Read that chapter.
Have you wanted to spend more time with your family but let others things get in the way? Stop, go online and book a vacation away for you and your family-while it is still called today.
Someone God has put on your heart to ask to marry? What are you waiting for? A better day? Unh unh. -while it is still called today.
Family member you haven't spoken to in months or years? Pick up the phone and call-today.
Procrastination looks back and says what happened.
Faith looks back and counts their blessings
Whatever it is, do it, while it is still called today.

02 July, 2010

Golf Lessons

I started my first golf lesson last night. No it wasn't dark but it was suppertimeish (new word).
I'd had a dear friend show me some basics years ago, but I really wanted to learn how to play so I signed up on my church's website for the women's golf instruction.
It started raining about halfway through. A nice fine rain that cooled us down.
We rotated through four stations: chipping, putting, and two I can't remember the name of but I got to use my seven iron on them.
I learned alot, not just in golf instruction, but in application to my own life.
I had this idea in my head that I have to have this deathgrip on my club. Now I know each station I went to with my group (we rotated every 20 minutes), the instructor would tell us how to stand, how to swing, AND how to hold the club. But in my mind it made no sense to hold the club loosely. I figured the tightest grip humanely possible would do it. (Note loose grip is not the same as loose wrists!)
Throughout the night I would get corrected on my distance from the ball, my open vs. closed stance and my left foot that refuses to stay in line with my right foot, but my grip on the club was not noticed until I came to the putting green. Then it dawned on me. My deathgrip on the club was actually causing me to lose not gain control. I had to "let go."
So I bent over the ball on the putting green, closed my eyes, breathed in, opened my eyes and breathed out. I relaxed myself, and hit the ball. The ball rolled exactly how it was suppose to. I actually got it in twice.
I then thought back to the other stations I had done that evening. How much of an improvement would I have seen if I had just let go and loosened my grip.
LET GO: God started speaking those words to my heart three years ago. In order for true lasting change to happen in your life you have to let go and trust God.
The past six months have been teaching me what happens when you let go. This past week I lost a job and gained another one.
Choosing to let go and watch God work His wonders in my life was a new experience for me. I know God has more change in store for me,
but I now have the reminder of the golf club whenever I think I need to have a deathgrip on my life.