I don’t know about you, but I have too much stuff — on the inside and outside. In my house. On my schedule. Swirling about in my head. I'm a Minimalist wanna be.
When I stopped in World Market the other day, I was bombarded with colors, shapes, scents and clutter. A good kind of clutter, but clutter none the less. Materialism at its best.
Since my debut MG historical fiction, "The Heart Changer" releases in Spring of 2019, I'm capturing photos of hearts. This one above from the Market is an example.
In 2012, I was inspired to write, “Christmas Musings” as I pondered the reason for this season. Each cast of characters, each scene of the account tells a story of its own. So, since Christmas is traditionally about gifts, who were the first gift givers? Here’s a peek into their journey. . .
Revisionist History is troubling for an author like me. How so? My passion is to make Scripture and history come alive for my readers. And I truly believe those who don’t learn from the past, are bound to make the same mistakes in the future. And I am a truth teller. And a lover of history. And most frustrating of all . . .
As leaves fall and autumn turns towards winter, we are reminded to give thanks. To have a heart of gratitude. It’s so easy to complain rather than say thank you. Why is that?
Grumbling comes more naturally to us. Sometimes it even brings a sense of satisfaction. But then, after a while, discontent seeps in. The only way I have found to turn those dark complaining thoughts around is to be grateful. There is always someone who is less fortunate than us. When we bring them to mind, our situation doesn’t seem as hopeless.
The Four Types of Facebook Friends . . .
After being on Facebook for a number of years, I’ve realized there are four types of ‘friends’. Do you see yourself among them?
Did you know that there are over 130 million orphans in the world or that November is National Adoption month? Adoption is a beautiful reflection of God’s love, and for this very reason we want to celebrate it. Join us November 4 through the 10th in our online Facebook party as we celebrate adoption! Each of the featured authors has a connection to adoption somehow—whether it’s through personal adoption or it’s a topic in their book, and each is making it their goal for there to be one less orphan in this world.
Leading up to the party, we will be posting introductions of each author and some fun activities. Join in, and invite your friends! And to thank you all for celebrating with us, we’re offering a $50 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner that will be awarded at the end of the party. Participate and have a chance to win!
Join us, and let’s celebrate adoption together November 4th through the 10th as we prepare our hearts for Orphan Sunday on November 11th. RSVP HERE.
These are the crazy dreams on my own bucket list. And they are all legit. Meaning, in the future, they are doable.
For years, I’ve heard the term, but never really knew where it originated from. I imagined it was a place to keep all your hopes and dreams safe— in a bucket.
Then I heard a few months back that such a checklist was to be accomplished before you, well— kicked the bucket.
I think I prefer my own definition.
So, I got to pondering (which I do quite often): why even have a bucket list? I thought of four reasons, but I’m sure there’s at least one more.
Last year I read The Brontë Sisters: the Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily and Anne by Catherine Reef. It was recommended by a fellow children's picture book writer, but, for the life of me, I can't remember whom. But, thank you. It was a good read. So, I thought I would share my writer's POV on this classic, along with quotes from Reef's book.
Although it is a YA book, the content is meaty enough to get a glimpse of the cloistered and dark lives of these three authors, and sense the similarity of their environment to their best-selling books as follows: "Jane Eyre", "Wuthering Heights" and "Agnes Grey" respectively.
I could feel the wind blowing across the moors, and sense the weight of their depressing lives. Since writing was not the proper vocation for women in those days, these girls took on pen names. Charlotte was Currier, Emily chose Ellis, and Anne, Acton. . . and all with the surname of Bell. Escaping their mundane existence, the three invented and imagined a host of characters and kingdoms. They lived and breathed life into them as they put pen to paper.
A couple of years back, like many, I was glued to my TV screen with a cuppa and a scone. As the credits rolled, so did the tears. I was a fairly new writer, and understood the power the written word posessed. I had just finished watching the last episode of Season Three in the saga of "Downton Abbey", the wildly popular BBC series focusing on the privileged and not-so-privileged.
What we learned throughout the ongoing story was this: when it comes to disasters, it doesn't matter who you are or how much money you make — they happen to everyone, regardless of status.
Even though we were reminded of that truth during each episode, it wasn't until I viewed the final scene that it hit me like a monsoon. It was almost too much to bear. Just when I was reveling in the "happily ever after" scene, it happened. I couldn't believe it! I felt cheated. And slightly depressed.
Those of you who have seen it know what I mean. Did the writer want to add a wicked twist to the plot? Did the actor want out? If so, could I have obliged? For whatever reason, the results did not sit well with me.
Then, almost immediately, I began to think of myself and my role as a writer. I, too, have that power. The power to write in or write out characters at will. I realized I would have found difficulty in writing a scene so tragic. So unpredictable. So unwanted.
But that is the beauty of being a writer. I don't have to write scenes that lead to despair. And if I did, one thing is for sure — they would lead eventually to good. There would be a reason. All would work out in the end. It would give my readers hope. Because we all need hope in these days of uncertainty. And I know that my hope is in God, who does work all things together for good.
Those of you who are avid fans, what do you think? Did all things work out for good in the final season of "Downton Abbey"? That was Julian Fellowes prerogative. He held the pen.
How would you have written the ending?
I've been struggling these past few months. Struggling to put words on paper. Is that you, too? Funny thing is, I have no problems with posts on Facebook. They flow like water. So, what's the deal? What I thought was writer's block is probably better named as procrastination. I know I need to write, but what do I do instead?
- The laundry (I have nothing to wear. . .)
- Dishes (really?)
- Bake (it's an escape)
- Mend clothes (I hate looking at the growing pile)
- Purchase mentor texts on Amazon
- Continue one of my writer's courses
- Submit a manuscript.
I tell myself that these things really do need to get done. And, c'mon, the last three apply to writing. Am I not correct?
Correct, but wrong. Huh?
The point is, I'm NOT WRITING.
I sure do. Challenges ALWAYS get me going. I wouldn't have much written if I didn't accept the challenges:
And the list could go on. Some months, I go from one challenge to another. My first drafts are nothing to write home about, but hey, I have something on paper to edit when the time comes. But, as I push ahead, I have found a few other resources to entice and inspire me. Even when I am not writing. Even when it's true writer's block, and not procrastination. Maybe these will help you, too:
A Writer's Guide to Persistence by Jordan Rosenfeld (good help with focus for the writing life)
Second Sight: An Editor's Talks on Writing, Revising & Publishing Books for Children and Young Adults by Cheryl B. Klein (she's given me super editing and revising hints when I’m stuck with character and plot)
Children's Book-A-Day Almanac by Anita Silvey (helpful for story ideas)
The Sound of Paper by Julia Cameron (great for motivation)
Award-winning author Candace Fleming (I consider her a friend) has advice for getting 'unstuck':
- Write one to three pages of anything on your mind. It could be thoughts on your manuscript, or just fleshing out the events of the day. Julia Cameron calls them "morning pages" because they are written first thing in the morning to get you writing.
- Any time you get stuck as you are writing a story, whether it's with a name, location, descriptive word, etc, just fill the space with a "—", and decide what to use later. Then your writing will not come to a halt, as it has for me many times!
Here’s help from Writer’s Digest: A 12 Day Plan of Simple Writing Exercises
The Character Traits Thesaurus is a helpful tool when you are stuck with ideas. Check it out HERE.
Don’t know how to begin a story? This blogpost gives you some ideas.
Ever thought of writing a Fractured Fairytale? Tara Lazar shows you how. Her how-to video is a riot!
THE ANTI-PROCRASTINATION PLAN
Now that I'm an empty nester, I find I have more time to write, but less self-control. As I've mentioned above, I find tons of things to do instead of writing. So, I schedule myself. I carve out a piece of the day that is totally free, and I concentrate on writing or revising. I also take time to read books on writing, look for agents or publishers to submit to, or take a class online. At one point, I thought of choosing one writing 'task' each day. For instance, Monday would be my submission day, Tuesday, revision day, Wednesday . . .well, you get my meaning. But so far, that hasn't worked.
A good app that reminds me of my tasks for the day/week/month is Any.do. They have updated it, and I highly recommend it for reminding yourself of the contest or pitchfest you are going to take part in, or any other writerly tasks you need to accomplish. Make sure you include the name and location of the event as well, so you can find the details when you need them. The app is available for laptops, iPhones and iPads.
Julie Cameron also suggested 'Walks' and 'Artist's Dates' with yourself. Go for a walk in the neighborhood. Or choose a safe forest preserve or park on your way to the shopping mall. And take yourself out on a date to a museum, unexplored neighborhood, or bookshop that is new to you. You'd be amazed at how refreshed and more creative you feel!
SOMETIMES ALL YOU NEED IS A PROMPT: NO EXCUSE FOR WRITER’S BLOCK
If all of the above fails, just sit yourself down in a quiet, distraction free place, open your notebook or computer program/app of your choice and WRITE!
- Your favorite childhood experience
- Your worst childhood experience
- A day in the life of your dog/cat or other pet
- Your life on a deserted island: what would you take?
- If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be, and why?
- If you could make up any world, what would it be like?
- Pick a color and write about what it means to you. What word pictures does it bring to mind?
- If you have a list of titles/ideas for a picture/chapter book, pick one and just start writing.
- Get your thinking cap on and write a pitch or jacket flap text for a WIP (that’s a Work In Progress). It's amazing how that assignment will clarify the plot and characters of your story.
Well, I hope I have given you some ideas to jump start your writing and get the creative juices flowing. So. . .WRITE ON!!
What excuses do you use for procrastinating?? Share your comments below. . . I’d love to hear from you!
My MG Biblical fiction "The Heart Changer" debuts Spring of 2019 with Ambassador International. Follow my journey by signing up above. I'll be looking for a book launch team soon, and you may be just the person to help out.