Monday, March 30, 2009

Works In Progress, part 1

I thought maybe someone out there might like to know what I’m working on in my writing. At the moment I have a three-fold approach. Historical, nonfiction, and fantasy.

My agent has recently sent out a proposal for a full-length historical novel that we are hoping sells. The working title is Untamed Angels. Five sisters—in a town of men. Love and fireworks fly in every direction, while one man walks a thin line to keep the peace.

I also have a historical series at Heartsong that I’m waiting to hear about. The Knight brothers are all struggling to find their place in the world. Book 1: Knight Refuge: A stubborn ranch owner meets a tenacious healer and together they must fight social injustice to save a papoose and themselves. Book 2: The Gambler: A young farmer struggles to hold on to her land when her brother loses the farm and her in a senseless wager. Book 3: Courtship of Katie MacGregor: Barely a teen, a young girl fights against her father’s wishes that she marry a young doctor in training.

I also have a contemporary story with historical elements that is sitting on an editor’s desk waiting to hear. It’s a seventy-year-old treasure hunt mystery dealing with Confederate gold. The working title is One Came Back. A feisty female guide and a determined stranger clash in search of the truth and treasure in the desert.

My nonfiction is a craft book on making new things out of worn out jeans. I call it Do It Again Denim. Go Green with blue jeans. Recycle. Reuse. Repurpose. Jeans are an American icon. But don’t throw out your old, worn-out jeans. Give them a second life.

On Wednesday I’ll describe my flying fantasy series.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spring Break

I always have good intentions to get a bunch of stuff done over the school breaks. Take time off from my regular writing and regular schedule and get something different accomplished that I’ve been wanting to get done.

Then my daughter sits across from me in the living room texting, talking, and laughing. We play with the cats and act silly. She’s a junior in HS, a great kid, and a blast to be around. We have fun whether we are shopping for groceries or clothes.

My two sons have grown and moved out. How much longer am I going to have with her? Not much.

So, I’m going to take advantage of one of the few remaining school breaks and laugh with my daughter.

:-D

Monday, March 23, 2009

Confessions of a Blogaphobic

Almost a year ago I stepped into this blogging arena determined to blog 2-3 times a week. Not because I wanted to, but because I was supposed to . . . I had to. :-P

I made exactly six posts in about two months. I didn’t see the point. No one was reading it, so why bother? Every week I’d tell myself that I’d start posting again . . . next week. Next week.

The year came to a close and next week never came.

The guilt piled up. I would shyly tell people I had a blog. A few people told me that it didn’t count if I never posted. (You know who you are.)

But . . . but . . . but . . . I have a blog.

So with a new year, I had new determination to blog three times a week. What was I going to write about three times a week?! I didn’t wait until next week, I just wrote something and posted it.

Why was I doing this? I was supposed to, I guessed.

I got some needed inspiration and motivation from a friend. I still didn’t know what to write about but at least I was motivated now.

Then I came up with a brilliant idea. At least I thought it was a brilliant idea at the time. I had a novella I wrote years ago. Every Friday I post an edited scene/chapter. This meant I only had to think of new things to write two days a week and my readers would get a free story. Brilliant, right?

What happens when I run out of chapters? Do I start a new story that I write from scratch? What have I gotten myself into?

So I’m posting nonsense two days a week and a chapter on Fridays. I’m inspired and motivated. And I’m having fun.

Yes, I’m actually enjoying blogging. (Shh. Don’t tell anyone.)

I have ten library books on blogging, including the Idiot’s Guide, No One Cares What You Had For Lunch: 100 Ideas For Your Blog, as well as others, trying to figure this whole thing out.

I even started another blog! Can you believe that? I thought I needed a Web site for this other project I’m working on, but a blog is perfect. I have tips, fun facts, and instructions for projects.

I’m even telling other people to start blogs. Me, a blogaphobic!

It’s mind-bloggling.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Take a Deep Breath

Sit up straight. Take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it five seconds, and slowly release it through your mouth. Do this ten times.

Some times in our busy lives we forget to breathe. Oh yes, air goes in and out of our lungs, but we don’t really fill our lungs to capacity and get the side benefits of breathing.

Taking a couple of minutes out of each hour to take ten deep breaths can help us to slow down, relax, and can revive us. When we don’t take the time to breath deeply, we don’t get enough oxygen and that can make us lethargic.

In my efforts to slow down, I’m going to try to take a few deep breaths every hour. Because I know I am full of good intentions but forget to keep up with good habits, I have put a sticky note on the corner of my computer screen that says “Breathe.” Hopefully this will remind me.

Don’t’ forget to breath.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Slow Down You Move Too Fast

Currently, my pastor is preaching a series on Slow. He’s basing it off of Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God!” He says that in our fast paced society to go from speedy fast to stop is too much for most of us. So let’s start with slowing down.

It’s a lot harder to slow down than you would think. It seems like the moment you determine to slow down, all these things come up to whisk you faster and faster. All you can do is hold on.

I like the idea of slowing down. It is not just doing less, but how you think about what you are doing and going to be doing. While working on project A are you thinking about event B, project C, and errand D, not really getting the most out of project A?

Not only do we go-go-go and do-do-do, but our mind is racing a hundred miles ahead of us. We get up in the morning, start thinking about what we are going to do, and get exhausted before we begin. No wonder we burn out.

I am struggling with this slowing down. I am one who likes to do-do-do. I have half a dozen things on my plate at anyone time that I’m trying to do all at once. As humans, we tend to draw our worth from our accomplishments. But because we are humans we have worth just for existing. God loves us not our accomplishments.

I am trying to slow down and eliminate some things, finish other things, so I can enjoy what I’m doing at the moment. And to learn more about God and who He wants me to be.

To be still and really know who God is.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Book Review
I recently finished A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. It’s our book of the month for the book club I’m in.

It’s a story about a girl growing up in Brooklyn after the turn of the century. Her family is quite poor, often not having enough to eat for days. The book describes in detail life of the struggling, immigrant poor at this time in a city. How they bought bread and meat. How they scraped together money. How the children spent their time.

The book mostly follows around Francie Nolan from birth until she is seventeen. Her mother works hard and usually has a steady cleaning job that doesn’t pay much. She is centered on providing for her family. Her father is more of a dreamer and has little concern for having a steady job to take care of his family. When he does get sporadic work and money, he drinks half of it away. He is a likable fellow though and truly loves his wife and children. He just doesn’t really know how to take care of them. The mother knew this when she married him but also knew she would do most anything to have him.

Francie is a smart girl who develops her own opinions. Like her mother she has an inner strength to be a survivor. She loves to read and loves to learn. She has nothing monetarily but she and her brother are quite happy and seem to have a good childhood in spite of their circumstances. I think that because they have the love of both parents, their childhood is good.

Fittingly, the story wraps up with the family moving away from Brooklyn and their circumstances improved.

For me the book seemed to start out slow and without a clear purpose. I had a hard time connecting with the characters. If it were not for needing to read it for book club, I would have set it down and not picked it up again until it was time to return it to the library. But because I was forced to continue to read, I did eventually connect with the characters and care about their well being.

Even though it’s a classic, it’s not a book I’m excited about, but I’m glad I finished it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Daylight Savings Time (DST)

I prefer to refer to it as Daylight Silly Time. We change the time on our clocks so we are doing everything one hour earlier. Then in the fall we change them all back and do everything one hour later. Why?

What I mostly hear from people is how hard it is for at least a week after either change. I have not every heard one person say that they like this time changing thing we do every year, twice a year. It takes people a week or so to get mostly adjusted.

I’m not adjusting well. I’m slow and sluggish today. The older I get the harder it is to make the change.

Daylight Savings Time

What are we saving anyway?

I heard that we have DST because it saves so much money in energy costs each year. Well, the electricity I may be saving in the evening because I don’t have to turn on lights until an hour later, I use in the morning because it’s dark for an hour longer after I get up.

I’ve also heard that insurance claims for car and workplace accidents goes up the week or two after both time changes. So what we might be saving on one side of the ledger, we are paying out on the other side of the ledger.

So, what are we saving anyway?

Why don’t we pick a time and stick to it? If it is such a good idea to save all this daylight in the spring and summer, why not in the winter too when we have less daylight?

If the American people were given all, and I do mean ALL, the fact, both negative and positive about the time changes, would they vote to keep them? Or would they vote to abolish such nonsense?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Some Days Are Just Like That

So I was thinking (I know, thinking can be dangerous.) What am I going to blog on today?

My brain said, “Nothing.”

“What? I have to blog on something,” I replied.

“Not today. I don’t feel like it,” my brain said.

“But I promised my readers and myself I would. I told Heather I was blogging 3 times a week. I can’t just not blog.”

My brain shrugged. (Okay use your imagination on that one.) “It’s too much work.”

“Well, Brain,” I said, “some times we have to do things we don’t want to do.”

“Then you do it without me.”

“Hmm. That’s a thought.” Then I realized that without my brain’s cooperation, I wasn’t going to think of anything.

“Okay, Brain. You win.”

Some days are just like that. No matter how much you want to do something, it just doesn’t work.

Have a happy day! ☺

Monday, March 2, 2009

Called to Anxiety

On Saturday, I ran a one-day writing conference called Peak Writing Conference. I have never ran a conference before, but I have an awesome board. Everyone worked well together and the Lord made it all run smoothly.

I have talked little about my anxiety issues before. The pressure of running a conference and anxiety don’t exactly mix well.

So why would a relatively sane person with anxiety take something on that she knows will cause more anxiety?

I felt called by God to run a small conference like this for years.

God is not content to leave me hiding in my closet, which is where my anxiety can send me. He wants me to grow and tell others about Him and the wonderful things He is doing in my life. I can’t do that from closet very well. Not much exciting happens there. ☺

When God calls, you have to answer. Sometimes the answer is an immediate “yes,” other times a “no way,” and other times it is a “maybe, can I think about it?” But we do answer whether we realize it or not.

If we say yes, God smiles.

If we say no, God waits to ask again. And sometimes He even smiles because He knew we would say no, but He had to ask anyway.

If we say can we think about it?, God waits and gives us the time we need to think. He also smiles as he watches us figure it out.

God has been working on me for years and setting everything up to put me in a position to run this conference, and He rewarded my obedience. He did not have me run this conference and have it go well to make me look good, but to glorify Himself and help me grow in Him.

Do I still have anxiety? Yes. Do I like it? No. But with the Lord, I’m learning to deal with it and to live with it. I don’t mean “live with it” as in tolerate it. I mean live life in spite of it and not hide in my closet.