06 November 2014

of fact and fiction

Once upon a time, somewhere along the third or fourth grade, there were signs of my overactive imagination that should have warned me I’d one day be a writer. And today, many (many) years later, it almost bit me in the butt. Well, if it had teeth, it could have….

It started when I heard a story from who-knows-where about a snake in a toilet (and yes, as much as I tell myself it's impossible, I know I'm lying, and I loathe lying). See, my father has a severe phobia of snakes, and fear is contagious. The sheer terror that there was even a remote chance a snake could be in my toilet, and have the freedom to bite me...well, my mind warped all of that into a twisted, fictional possibility: think warlock rather than a snake. I did know fiction from fact. I’m positive. But the imagination is a powerful tool.

I found myself in a flush and rush—when leaving the bathroom, I would wash, then I had to flush and slam the lid and rush out of the bathroom before a warlock could rise up from its depths. 

You can take a moment to reread that.
Let it soak in.
Laugh into your hankie, spew out your coffee…

Okay, ready to move on?

So, that lasted months, probably the better part of a school year. (Go ahead, you can snicker a little more.) Let's face it, a warlock coudln't rush the use of the potty as a snake scare would have...just prevent lingering in the room afterward. My fiction was logical, friends.

I eventually managed to talk myself out of it, remind myself that fiction and fantasy were not reality. Warlocks really would not come out of the commode if I slowed my pace a little. 

This morning, however, my toilet had a visitor. 
May I introduce *Slimy, otherwise known as a warlock-in-hiding?


And so fact and fiction have begun to blur once more...

*the frog was named Slimy by my animal loving child who very bravely and kindly removed the war-- uh, frog from the toilet while I stood out of hop's reach

PS --do not look closely at the state of the toilet...and if you already have, I blame the warlock.

16 July 2014

of hiding

This past week I found myself feeling betrayed. Angry. Hurt. Stressed. Anxious.

My stomach ached with tension, my body wanted to flee the house and pound the earth with a high speed walk (my knees don't like it when I run, so I walk super fast instead). But you may recall I've been in a cast. And now a walking boot. I've only begun consistently walking without crutches in the past few days--and at the end of a long day, I still use one for support. Driving is still forbidden. Going anywhere, even down the street, was out of the question.

At least the house was quiet, the kids finally asleep (see, I couldn't even catch a ride someplace--though riding with five other people wouldn't have helped me any right then). So I tucked my bleeding heart into the dark dining room. Injured leg on a chair.

And I talked to my God. I'd done that already as the day wore on, but then life was too busy to lick my wounds in private. I told Him how much I wanted to be alone for a while. To run and hide.

So He invited me to hide in His arms.
It was so much better than hiding alone.
I found comfort and healing. I found peace.

To be fair, I still wanted to escape the confines of my house for a while. Outings are far from solo these days. But He met me where I was, and filled me up.

It was enough. Because He is enough.

04 July 2014

independence day


Happy 4th of July!!

Celebrating the birth of our country,
the wonders of our freedom,
those who have sacrificed for it,
and
the God who graciously put us here.
I pray I never take it for granted.

May he keep us in the palm of his hand whatever the future holds.

02 July 2014

who i am

Last week I watched a seminar by Michael Hauge on DVD. One of the (many) great things he said was that when writing we must force our characters to fill in the blank to this statement:

"I will do whatever it takes to accomplish my goal, just don't ask me to ___________, because that's just not me."

It kinda tugged at me in a personal way, but I was bent on what I could learn to improve my craft and glossed over that part. Then, at the very end of his talk, he said something that tattooed the challenge to my forehead. Everything he'd been talking about also applies to real life. And to succeed in what we want to do, we must fill in that above blank for ourselves. It only took me a moment or two to know what my answer would be.

Until now, I've believed that I'll do anything for my writing.
And yet...there is actually something I have not been willing to do.

See, I'm adamant about being real. I tell life like it is. I don't know how to keep a facade going, or how to play mind games, or be coy (my husband says he's always liked that about me, at least!).

On the other hand, I've created a persona to write under. No regrets there; I love my pen name, and have every intention of keeping it. I decided to use a pen name twenty years ago when I was still scribbling poetry and just dreaming of prose. But it was to keep my writing life private. A secret. Because, well, I just...had to. I wasn't ready to share. And what if I don't succeed? Then what? For one, I'd have to explain that it wasn't amounting to anything. And if someone didn't like what I wrote...well, how awful. Right? (Wrong. Not everyone can be my audience and that is okay.)

I dislike being the center of attention. A LOT. But I've watched myself grow bolder by the month as I open up about to strangers and friends alike. I found recently I was no longer attaching the "...but it's a secret...be sure you don't tell anyone..." disclaimer to my confession of being a writer.

It helps that I've found so much support. Friends, family, general population. Excited, interested peers. I have so many amazing cheerleaders on the side lines. A fabulous writing group and critique partners that believe in me.

It's time to stop hiding. And I'm okay with that. It's personal growth, which is rewarding.

"I will do whatever it takes to accomplish my goal. Whether I publish someday or just keep writing for the sheer love of it, I can and will tell others what I do. Because it's who I am. A writer."

23 June 2014

Blog Hop - My Writing Life

I've been asked to participate in a blog hop. The assignment is to answer four questions about my writing, then select three other authors to answer the same questions on their blogs within the next couple of weeks. Be sure to see the links to their blogs at the end of this post and find out more about these wonderful writers. A special thanks to Tanara McCauley for inviting me to join in. You can find Tanara's answers to these same questions at her blog, Fiction for Real Life Living.

What are you working on?
At the moment, I confess I'm still finalizing revisions on my first story, Finding Grace. Oh, how far it's come. How much I've grown and learned since the inception of that story. It began with a Post Secret I saw many years ago: someone admitted to having survived 9/11, and nobody knew they were alive. I wondered what would make someone do that. So when I was ready to start my writing life, that's the story that came out first. There is a sequel tucked in my heart for this one, and quite possibly more--but for now, those stories need to wait.

However, I am a chunk of the way into two unrelated stories. They take turns being the focus of what I want to work on. One of them recently finaled in the COTT Olympia contest, so I'm fairly certain that will be my writing choice this summer. It's about an online dating service throwing together two people who already know each other--and cannot stand to be together.

How does your work differ from others in its genre?
Well. Um. Hmm...
That's a good question. First, I just let words fall from my fingers onto the page. My voice is truly my own. Beyond that, I dig into the stories from a slightly different perspective than some may. For instance, most stories about 9/11 tell the story about the impact that event had on the character's life. In my story, 9/11 was simply a springboard for changes my character decided to make in her life. It's very real, and very tragic to her. And it definitely impacts her. But that's not the focus of the story.

How does your writing process work?
Man, a sucker-punch question, isn't it? I have to admit that my life as a homeschool mom of four is absolutely crazy. And often my days are unpredictable. So my writing process evolves as necessary. When the story is ready to be written, I can be found with my laptop in a thousand different places (waiting rooms, restaurants, desks, bed, karate) at any hour. Recently, though, I find I like my bedtime the older I get (ahem...not that old...yet). I'd rather wake early and work while I have my coffee and the sun comes up. Especially when editing my work. (Of course, caffeine late in the day reverses that effect.) I'm also good at plugging in some earbuds and either popping in a movie for the kids or making the most of their hard-earned computer time in the afternoon. Funny how I can really get in a groove right about the time I need to make dinner...

Then there are the past six months. Oh. My. I've done large chunks of work, no doubt. But real life has interfered a few times (I really do like my fictional worlds). So, my imaginary friends took a back seat for several weeks at a time, leaving me forlorn. I've been so happy to pick them back up and soak into their lives again. As usual, I can't wait to see where they take me next!

Why do you write what you do?
It's funny, really. I always thought I'd be a light-hearted chick-lit kinda writer. I love an easy read to escape the stresses of my life. 

But I also enjoy a book that makes me think, just not too hard--deep is good, but I don't want to be exhausted at the end. That's where my writing life seems to have landed. I believe it's because I learn from real life, then turned around and put it on paper.


Tag, You’re It!
Here are some great writers who agreed to follow me on this blog hop. Stop by their sites in the next couple weeks to see what they write and how they go about it...

Connie Cossette
Connilyn lives near Dallas, Texas, but grew up in the Pacific Northwest. She and her husband of seventeen years have two precious kids, and a cross-eyed cat who thinks she's an Egyptian Goddess. Connilyn is a homeschooling mama and piano teacher by day and a Biblical Fiction writer by night. She has a passion for drawing readers into a deep, personal encounter with the rich ancient world of the Bible through fiction. She is an active member of the ACFW and My Book Therapy. She also blogs at joycomesinthemorning.net and mybooktherapy.com
~2013 My Book Therapy Frasier Award Winner
~2013 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Historical Semi-Finalist
~Represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. Be sure to read her answers to the blog hop questions at her website, Connilyncossette.com.

Brandy Heineman
Brandy Heineman is a Christian novelist infusing her stories with family history and faith. She's a graduate of Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia with a degree in Business Administration and Communication. She is also a first-generation Southerner who occasionally gets caught saying things like, "Y'all want some pop?"
Brandy is a member of ACFW and a Finalist in the 2014 Genesis contest. She's represented by Jim Hart of Hartline Literary Agency, and her first novel is contracted with Elk Lake Publishing. You can find her on Twitter as @brandyhei or like her on Facebook. You'll find her answers to the blog hop at http://brandyheineman.com/.

Sarah Varland
Sarah Varland is a Christian, author, musician, kayaker, reader, and artist. Yoga is her favorite way to exercise. She’s also a pastor’s wife and mom. Sarah’s first novel, Treasure Point Secrets, was released in May. 
One of her favorite places to think, to relax, and to dream is outside, preferably underneath a tree so she can look up through the branches at the sky and let her imagination go. You can visit her “online thinking tree” at http://espressoinalatteworld.blogspot.com/, her place to think through her thoughts on life, books, and what she’s learning. (That's also where you'll find her blog hop responses.)

Thanks ladies for your willingness to participate in the blog hop! Can't wait to see what you post.

18 June 2014

cast-worthy

For the fun of it, I promised to add to my list of uses for a cast...today seemed appropriate because I got the first cast off and a fresh one on. Two more weeks of crutches and knee-scooters, then I can walk once more. (Can. Not. Wait.)

random uses for a cast

(first post:)
 1. scratching post for a cat
 2. canvas for crayon artwork
 3. exfoliation for the other foot
 4. emergency nail file
 5. shield of protection for falling knives
 6. door stop
 7. part of a Halloween costume
 8. prop for little toys to play on
 9. display mannequin for scarves
(today's add-ons, first three thanks to Kim:)
10. book stand
11. tv tray table
12. leg insulator when the laptop gets hot
13. cash stash
14. pen holder
15. self-defense
16. flower vase
17. sword sheath
18. pocket to carry things from room to room
19. showcase for polished toes that stick out
20. an excuse to put your feet up


I'll be back in just a few days with some insights into my writing life and a chance to meet some other writers! See you then...

30 May 2014

random uses for a cast

I recently (as in this week) found myself the...host? owner? wearer? recipient?...of my very first cast. On my leg. My right leg, that is.

Yep.
My driving foot is enclosed in fiberglass for the next 4-6 weeks. (Cabin fever anyone?)

I had surgery (last week) on a torn tendon and other weirdness, and this was the result. Seriously, when my doctor said "surgery," I was surprised. When she said I'd wear a cast for a month at least, then a walking boot again (remember that from months ago? Yes...same issues, only we've finally found the source of the problems), plus have physical therapy for a while--well, I nearly fell off the chair with its footstool covered in cute feet-imprinted paper.

So now I'm in the throes of adjusting to helplessness and cumbersome, limited movement around my house. And in my sleep. With sparks of pain to keep it interesting (thankfully the pain is limited). I'll get it worked out, though. Never fear.

In the meantime, I needed a little humor. So I am working on a list of, uh, uses for a cast. Stay tuned, because I hope to add to this list in the weeks ahead. And please, by all means, add some suggestions of your own! Let's see how many we can come up with.

random uses for a cast
 1. scratching post for a cat
 2. canvas for crayon artwork
 3. exfoliation for the other foot
 4. emergency nail file
 5. shield of protection for falling knives
 6. door stop
 7. part of a Halloween costume
 8. prop for little toys to play on
 9. display mannequin for scarves
10.

Leave a comment with some fun suggestions of your own!
I'll be sure to post again with any new additions.

11 April 2014

appointment

I had two appointments today, and I double booked them:
One was an appointment for an MRI, the other was with Jesus.

(Yep, I double booked on purpose.)

See, I'd never had an MRI done, and had no idea what to expect other than what I've seen on TV (think metal trying to pop out of someone's chest...haha!). My reason for going was not a big deal. But I did imagine being inside a long tunnel for half an hour--have I mentioned I'm claustrophobic?

I didn't ask for meds to survive that thirty minute stretch because someone suggested using the time to pray. I was delighted at the idea of uninterrupted prayer time. Seriously. Praying with four kids in the house--at any hour--is much like going to the bathroom with four kids in the house. You're likely to be interrupted by someone. Even if it's a cat who thinks it's time for a social visit or breakfast at 4am. Yes, really.

So, I braced myself for closed eyes in a tunnel for half an hour with Jesus. Instead I got a lots of noise and half of a tunnel with Jesus. (I did come away with a headache, but that was strictly the jack-hammering of the machine.)

And what I found was a sweet, intimate conversation with my Lord. We've been doing that a lot recently. Talking. Conversing, Covering the things on my heart and His. If it matters to Him, it should matter to me. And I know already that He cares about what concerns my heart.

Instead of purring in my ear, I really did have a monumental blasting sound. But it didn't want to fed or belly-rubbed and it didn't try to crawl into bed with me, so it was blessedly uninterrupted time.

I need more of that. Not MRI's, but the time with the Lord. That time to simply be in His presence. I treasure it. And so did He. I'm ready to schedule that time, make it an appointment. Preferably someplace alone. But even at home, it's worth the effort.


(ps...I do not have results from the MRI yet)

28 March 2014

on diapers

As a mom, these things matter to me. So I'll just go ahead and post about it.

My youngest child, Bitsy, is three. And no, she is not potty trained yet--she and I discuss it daily, and she will get there. I'm not afraid. My efforts to that end have been tainted the past few months as I readied for and then recovered from major surgery. For now--I seriously don't care. (True Confessions of a Mom #219.) I learned long ago to pick my battles.

A few years ago, I had to let go of my cloth diapering passion when I couldn't keep up anymore. Budget-friendly disposables with a purple box and little monkeys on front met the need instead. Other than her typical avoidance of  being changed, I've had no issue. And I've been steadily using that brand unless the store doesn't have her size in stock. Which is what happened the other day when I forgot the diaper bag while rushing out the door to my parent's.

I had to buy another brand. One with famous characters like big yellow birds, monsters who love cookies, and furry orange...um, not sure what that puppet is. But that orange dude? He's playing soccer on every single diaper. She adores that. Not sure why. (And while she may have seen that show, it's not a regular one around here--so she had to ask who all the cool colored creatures were.)

All of a sudden, Bitsy wants to get her diaper changed regularly. And I'm not allowed to pull out those purple monkey ones from the nearly-full super-sized box. Those guys don't play soccer. And aren't orange, is my guess.

I have mixed feelings--the bigger name brand costs more. But, the need to change regularly is a great awareness of the need to go (she's shown plenty of other signs, too). Maybe she'll potty train sooner if I switch over? Honestly, it's the end of the diaper line in our house, so it's hardly worth the argument either way. It's probably not a battle worth picking. Even if the purple ones do fit her body better.

Now, if you'll excuse me--we need to go put a much fresher diaper on her...

26 March 2014

article

My goal is to forget the contest I finaled in so I won't stress over it. Instead, I just forgot that today was Wednesday, the day the COTT article went up, about all three finalists. You know, the one I promised I'd post. Thank goodness for a friendly reminder!

Here you go:

http://www.clashofthetitles.com/2014/03/olympia-finalists.html


Enjoy!

23 March 2014

finalist

Back in December I entered one of my stories into a contest, at the last minute--Clash of the Titles: The Olympia. I frantically made sure my edits were in place and sent it off. Frenzy over, I promptly forgot all about it.

This past Friday I was reminded when I checked my email and discovered I had finaled! WHAT? Utter shock, my friends. It took re-reading some things to realize that finaling meant I was in the top three entrants. Deeper shock set in. I secretly wondered how it was possible--maybe there had been a mistake? But no email to correct that news was forthcoming, so it must have been right.

I was trying to make a birthday cake at the time. I merged two recipes, had to double the original dry ingredients, then make even halves of all that powdery stuff. The first round of measuring was wrong--I was so distracted. Focus on baking a cake? I really needed to buy one. But that wasn't an option. And my kids pick their favorite meal for their birthday dinner. That meal wasn't on a take out menu.

Thankfully, the birthday meal and dessert came out fine in the end. Now I'm just hopeful my entry comes out all right, too. But really, wherever I place, I'm thrilled to have reached this point. It's come out just fine already.

There will be an article on the COTT website Wednesday, featuring all three finalists. I'll be sure to post a link when it goes up!

09 January 2014

something new...

I know it's my day for "thankful thursday"--and I do feel thankful, but I'm just...something. Not sure how to pin point it. Perhaps it's just time for something new. I simply don't know what that is.

I've got a lot on my mind. I'm learning and considering doTerra oils right now--and loving what I see. I've spent no small amount of time this week watching videos, perusing the catalog, digging into their site, asking questions of those "in the know"--and that's just the oils. I haven't even looked at the rest too much.

For years I've wanted to know more, and used a few basic oils for things. I've made my own astringent for my face for some time now and love it. Just witch hazel and a few specific oils. I won't use anything else.

But now I'm fascinated to hear so much beyond my limited knowledge. I love discovering new, natural, healthy ways to care for myself and my family.

So that's what is occupying me this week. Oh, and revisions and cold-infested kids (oils from my neighbor have made a huge impact on the colds...thus the digging into it deeper).

As for the revisions, they are not simple little things. They're rearranging levels of the plot, taking out chunks of chapters and chunks of years between past and present. It's been fun. Work. But fun.

Now...off to take care of some real life.

How has your new year begun?

01 January 2014

where the sidewalk ends

When I think of time, I see little squares...like a sidewalk stretching out before me, one square per day. I'm fairly certain this is from looking at calendars all my life: those are seven-square-sidewalks. I can't help it. That's my visual of what time looks like. Not hours, but days, weeks, months...you get the idea. (Hours go around. Yeah, hush now.)

Sometimes those sidewalk squares have grass alongside them, a curb nearby, weeds growing in the cracks, chalk, or ants. Yes. Really. But that part is typically vague. What isn't vague is that they stretch out endlessly. Almost monotonously. Which is odd, if I stop to consider, because my life is a far cry from boring.

As one sidewalk ends and we step across to a new block of sidewalk squares, I want to look at each one as an unopened box of possibility. Every day has something to offer. And we can choose to let those offerings grow us into God-lovers or let them make us arrogant or bitter. Because as surely as we wake up each day, trials will come. And opportunities. It's about what we do with those offerings, and what we let them do to us.

I don't really pick a word or set goals or define resolutions for the new year. But I do consider aspects I'd like to improve in my life. Sometimes specific, sometimes general. And I keep them attainable. Simple. Mostly, I just want to walk down that long sidewalk ahead of me and become stronger. A better me. A more godly woman.

Here's to 365 possibilities!
Happy New Year my friends!