Friday, September 30, 2011

Are You Working Hard?

I'm piggy backing on Jody Hedlund's blog post today. Jody says that there's no secret to gaining success as an author or on building a web presence.

It takes hard work to gain success.

And if anyone I know is the epitome of hard work, Jody sure is.

But saying it's hard work to me, is like reading a book with absolutely no setting, or vise versa, only setting, no dialogue, no internal monologue, no interaction between characters. It's too vague for me. It doesn't offer advice on what to do. I want to know what constitutes working hard?

This made me pause to consider if I'm working hard. But more importantly to me, if I'm working hard and smart. Let's face it, time is of the essence this day and age. It's hard to come by, and yet it still does exist. We still have twenty-four hours in a day, and we don't have to plow our own fields, hunt for our food, travel up hill to the outhouse, chop wood for the stove, or pump water from the well in that same time span today, but yet it just seems to disappear in a fog regardless. If we use our time wisely in this age of amenities though, God can do wonders with it . . . in His timing, I'm certain!

So, okay, I'm going to do a little analysis of how I believe a writer should use their time.

1) Write daily. Whether you're working on a first draft or editing, or creating a query or proposal, be sure to write with respect to your writing career daily. Am I not working hard if I take weekends off for my family's sake? That's debatable, as most things are. But for me, if I've destroyed my relationships with my loved ones in order to build my writing career, then I'm not okay in God's eyes or my own. But if I can etch out a half hour or more on those "family" days when my working isn't taking away from family, then I better make use of that time wisely, or I'm not working hard. Do you have a TBD (to be done) list? Make sure there are things on it writing related that can be done in small increments of time for when the family unexpectedly disappears during "family" time.

2) Never stop learning and apply that new knowledge every chance you get. If you don't have a novel you're "studying", you most definitely should have a how-to book on the craft of writing, or on social networking and marketing on the go. Life is a journey of learning and growing and there are all kinds of ways to nurture this. Find what works for you, and make sure it's available for a daily dose of L&L (Live and Learn). If you're creative, you can even do this while enjoying "family" time on occasion. Hint: Movies as homework --have a pad of paper at hand to jot down the structure, find the MOG (moment of grace), discover the moral premise (if there is one), or whatever else aids in your current study.

3) If you're a blogger, be consistent with posting. I'm failing in this lately. Good thing I'm doing this analysis after all!

4) FIGURE OUT the social networking sites you SHOULD be on, and learn how to use them wisely. I'm still working on this. How do we do this smart so that it doesn't eat up precious hours of our writing time? This is one journey that's a huge struggle for me. I've read Kristen Lamb's books and I'm still in a fog. Guess it's time to reread and find other sources of how-to's regarding this topic.

and to do all of the above leaves me with one more glaring analysis.

5) Divide the household chores. My kids would hate me if they read this. But it's true, somewhere along the way I've made the upkeep of our home my responsibility. And I'm sacrificing sanity/health for writing. Yes, you read that correctly. Since I can't do all those things "writerly" and keep up with the daily chores, I settle for dust and fur motes surrounding me as I write, which increases my blood pressure and has me mentally fighting with myself. Why am I not super woman? Why can't I keep up our house AND build a successful writing career? I just can't. At least not alone, I can't. So, girls, a new ship's about to sail (no, I would never use that cliche in a book, but since I need to get back to editing, I will here), and you're not a guest on it, you're a fully fledged member of the crew! (Check back with me in a week to see if I stuck to my plan. Lifting prayers now that I do.)

So what did I miss? What more do we have to do to work hard and smart as novelists?

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Recap in Pictures

Welcome to St. Louis.

We stayed downtown within walking distance of restaurants, Busch Stadium, a park, and this historical courthouse which happens to be a museum. On Sunday, Sandra Orchard and I were able to tour inside the courthouse. Beautiful. It was absolutely beautiful, but I discovered I can't handle heights as we climbed up winding staircase after winding staircase.

If you know me at all, you'll know why I just had to take a picture of this horse drawn carriage. Such gentle animals, and so great to see them every time we stepped outside.

Here I am with my fabulous roomie, Susan Mason, and my wonderful flight buddy, Sandra Orchard.

Some blogging buddies and a surprise trespasser!

I wasn't that great at pulling out my camera this time, so I didn't get near as many pictures as I should have. But between the courses and the socializing, 2011's ACFW's conference delivered big time. I'm always amazed at how positive and encouraging every one is at an ACFW conference. Competition doesn't exist there. It's replaced with the wonder of prayer. Such a blessing indeed.

If you were in attendance this year, what was the highlight of the conference for you? Or were you like me, everything about it fed your soul?

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, September 26, 2011

The Aftermath

Hi, All:

I'm back home from conference, but woke with a terribly itchy, achy throat. Been sucking on Zinc lozenges and Fisherman Friends all day. And I'm plum worn out. Frustrated too, because my USB cord is missing for my camera so I can't get my pictures downloaded to share with you all. Hoping to rectify that by Wednesday's post.

But, if you haven't heard yet, the 2011 ACFW Conference in St. Louis was wonderful. I send a huge thank you to all who worked so hard to put on such a positive conference. We are truly blessed by the dedication and selflessness that so many offer to make this such a successful conference every year!

This year's conference, once again, was full of great learning experiences and awesome friend finding and making. I have discovered though, that as I gain more knowledge in the craft of writing, each conference seems to refresh and build on previously learned writing tools. Which is very cool because I'm finally starting to believe that I've got the basics down. Yay for me!! Seriously, I never thought I'd be able say that. Now I have a whole lot of learning still to go (learning should never end in my opinion), but to finally have the foundation of the craft down to build on feels awesome. The skies the limit now.

If you weren't at conference, did you watch the live feed of the Gala Saturday night? If you were at conference and I didn't get to chat with you, where were you hiding? I'm so sorry I missed you!

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, September 19, 2011

Au Revoir . . .

for now. It's ACFW's conference week!
And things are a little nuts around the household so I'm signing off blogging for the week.

I hope to see many of you in St. Louis! For those who can't make it there, I lift a prayer for your needs to be met this week.

Blessings and safe journeying prayed for everyone.

See you again Monday, Sept. 26th.

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Newest: NetBooks?

You know, like Netflix. Only with books. That's what they're suggesting for the future of e-books. Pay a monthly fee and get access to a wide range of e-books.

I'm not sure what I think of this concept. If they stick with how Netflix only offers older releases, then this might be an interesting offer for forgotten previously released e-books. But if they're considering putting newly released e-books into the lineup for a monthly fee, then I have issues.

I just heard about this concept yesterday, so still mulling through the ramifications of it. What do you think? Yay, or nay for a book version of Netflix?

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, September 12, 2011

Remembering 911

Most days I don't remember one day from the next. But I distinctly remember ten years ago yesterday. I suspect I'm not alone.

The girls were off to their new school of all of one week and hubby was preparing for a flight out west. We received a call from his office saying that all travel had been banned by the president due to the attacks on U.S. soil.


We'd been rushing around getting hubby organized and packed for his trip and hadn't had radio or T.V. on so we were oblivious to what the world was seeing. We immediately turned on the news channel. As soon as we saw what was happening we both had this NEED to have our family near. I can't describe it any other way than that a longing to gather our girls into our arms struck us full force. I called our girls' new school, where no one knew me yet, because in our system they don't get volunteers in during the first couple weeks until the students are well settled, and informed that we were coming to pick our girls up.

The secretary sounded shocked on the phone, so I proceeded to give an explanation. It was obvious she had been sheltered from the world's events that morning, too. Granted it was still relatively early in the morning in this part of the world. We gathered our flock and spent the day playing games while praying for all who were injured, all who had lost their lives, and all who were left with a gaping hole from losing loved ones in this senseless hatred-induced catastrophe.

God never said that life would be easy or fair, but He did promise to be with us. When I think of 911 I question how God could let such evil happen, but then that's why I'm not God . . .

Our understanding is minuscule compared to God's, and quite frankly, I don't think we'd be able to handle even a little of what He knows.

May we find our strength through Him who knows all, and Who can draw good from even the worst of evils!

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, September 9, 2011

Seize those Opportunities

On the inside of my daughter's Ariat riding belt, the following is engraved: "Opportunities multiply as they are seized."

Sabrina's eyes lit up when she noticed those words. It was like whipped cream on top of a delicious piece of cake for her. You see, the leather belt is embossed with flowers on the front and has blingy silver eyelets running across the top and bottom, so it's quite beautiful for all to see. To discover such encouragement hidden inside, for just the wearer to know, made her day. Imagine if the maker of this never seized the opportunity to engrave such encouragement inside, would my daughter still have purchased the belt? Probably, because she loved the look of it, but she'd not be near as optomistic as she is now when she wears it.

Let us seize opportunities to write, so that we may seize opportunities to edit, so that we may seize opportunities to seek agents, so that agents may seize opportunities to seek publishers for our books, so that publishers may seize opportunities to share our stories with the world.

See, it really does work.

"Opportunities multiply as they are seized."

May your weekend be enlightening and may angels guide opportunities your way!

P.S. I'm trying to reach that golden number of 25 "likes" on my Facebook Writer's Page. If you wouldn't mind popping over, please "like" it and I'll go searching for yours to "like" too.

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lululemon Makes You Think

After church on Sunday, I took a drive to London for my girls to get their Lululemon fix for the start of school. My girls have enjoyed the quality and look of Lululemon fitness wear for several years, but because we don't have one near by, it's a real treat to go there. One can only afford an item or two at a time, even that often breaks the bank, but the quality is what keeps us coming back.

Guess what mom loves the most about Lululemon?

Yes, it's the bag! Not only is it free with purchase, reusable, and even attractive, but also . . .


Have you ever taken the time to really ponder all that is written on their bags?

"Life is full of setbacks. Success is determined by how you handle setbacks." If my editing goes at a snail's pace when I'm rushing for conference, do I just give up on it? Do I keep trudging along, knowing that I'm not going to have this piece fully polished by then? Yes, but I also work on one-sheets, elevator pitches, etc. to discuss the story's merits with editors and agents, in hopes of sending off a proposal in a month or so when it is ready, and by then it will also have any suggested changes incorporated in it too.

"The world is changing at such a rapid rate that waiting to implement changes will leave you 2 steps behind. DO IT NOW, DO IT NOW, DO IT NOW!" Just write already--create that new mythical adventure that seems way too out there and write it. It may be the beginning of a new craze like vampires and warlocks. You'll never know unless you do it now!

"Do one thing a day that scares YOU." Imagine if we had our characters do this? When my youngest remarked on this one, I commented that I think the word "scares" should be replaced with "challenges". Totally less scary to me! Heehee.

What about you, are you a Lululemon fan? For the bag, or the attire?

P.S. I have a Facebook Writer's fan page up now, but having trouble getting people to "Like" me. Does anyone know how to install that tiny "like" button on your blog? I'm embarrassed that I can't figure this out on my own.

Have a blessed week, everyone!

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, September 2, 2011

It's moving day...

not for me, but for our eldest daughter, Alisha. Hubby and I are moving our all of seventeen-year-old girl into her dorm room today on the University of Guelph's campus. She begins studying within the Animal Sciences program next week. Sometimes I just have to blink myself through acknowledging that. Where have the years gone?

I've been asked so many times from friends and family if she' ready for this. They're not asking from Alisha's perspective, they're asking from a mother's over-protective nature if I think this is a good thing, or if it's doomed for failure. Is she mature enough to handle the rigors of post-secondary education while gaining all that independence in one fell swoop?

I honestly think Alisha is ready.

She's spent the last two summers as a councilor at an overnight horse camp for girls, so she knows what it's like to be away from home, and she knows what responsibility is. In fact, she's always been the responsible type. Sadly for her, she also inherited her mother's more serious, quiet, dependable nature. I'm thinking she's not going to be the party girl type at all. I'm hoping I'm wrong on this and that she does allow herself to have a bit of fun (not the kind that will get her into trouble mind you).

As far as separating from us? Well, let's just say she's been doing that for several years now. Hence why my own needed mental leap from writer to publication has taken so long to come. I'm finally breathing in non-pins-and-needles air around here. Hallelujah!

Oh, I'll worry as all mothers do, but I'm at peace with this transition. I've lifted my little girl into the Lord's hands, and I'm ready to see her soar. If she should ever take a bit of a nose dive, we'll be right here for her to perch on. She can rest a while, regain her strength and direction, then take off again. I know we're only meant to have our babes under our wings for a short time, then it's their turn to fly free.

I also know how children hate to hear words of wisdom from their parents, especially teen children, but as I put together a laundry basket of care filled with all things odd and wonderful to make her dorm room uniquely hers, I just had to tuck a card inside. Leaving all praise and encouragement within didn't seem quite enough, though. I just had to add: Success is often altered in hind site, and changing direction doesn't imply failure.

If there is one thing I want my daughters to know, it's that the roads we travel won't always be straight or how we initially planned them to be. And that's okay. Life is a journey, not of successes and failures, but rather, of discovering our purpose. We might get lucky and discover a fairly straight path, but then again, that might not be the path for us.

As my daughter begins her venture in discovering her purpose in this world, let us all be reminded that our journey's are ongoing, too. We, too, have more life to live and may our Good Lord continue to guide and protect us all on our journey.

Have you ever experienced a twist that felt like a failure, only to discover its great purpose later? And what about your leaving home experience? What things did your parents do that made the transition more fun or easier?

I pray we all have a wonderful weekend filled with much love and fellowship!

Surrendering to Him,