Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Writing an Experience

Don't you just love it when you read a scene and it feels like you're actually living it real-time as each word unfolds before your eyes? It's like you get to be a little fly on the wall that has access to the characters' thoughts as well.

Now that's experiencing the read!

Sadly, I discovered that far too many of my scenes don't play out like an experience. Why? Because I make the mistake of including passive writing. Even if I only slip a line or two in the whole scene that alerts the reader that what's happening isn't in the here and now, but rather a recollection, then I've taken them out of experiencing the scene for themselves. It's a form of author intrusion, in my mind, and it diminishes a scene that could otherwise provide an amazing experience for the reader.

Considering this, my writing tip for the day is: Wherever possible, stay in the present tense consistently for scenes that you want the reader to experience!



16 days left in this year until the main celebration our Saviour's birth.
Merry Christmas to all!!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Seeing the True Christmas Story in the Traditions of Today

A few weeks ago I asked how you brought the true meaning of Christmas into your celebrations. I received some great feedback. If you didn't happen to read that post or the great comments left, click here for a peek.

My family participates in many of the same ways that were offered in those comments. We donate to the food bank, not just at Christmas, but year round. We've participated in local Angel Tree programs throughout the years, and/or contributed shoe boxes to the Samaritan's Purse ministry each year. We also donate more generously to various charities during this time of year. A nativity scene is displayed in our home on a coffee table in our living room each year, as well as a set of individual pieces hung on one of our Christmas trees that we proudly decorate in celebration of this season. I also make a point of praying for the true meaning of Christmas to be revealed more clearly and broadly.

But even in doing these things, I felt guilty that I found so much pleasure in the Christmas traditions of today. Traditions that so many people feel take away from the true meaning of Christmas--Love, Peace, Hope, and Joy that is given to us so faithfully through the birth of Jesus Christ. So I decided that if I wanted to surround myself with all this beauty--the traditions of today--I had better find a way to make these things remind me of Jesus and all that He is to those who believe. So here is the piece that I formulated, putting my thoughts into words, for our latest Church newsletter.

In my heart…

The festive season is a celebration of Jesus’ birth.

Twinkle lights of all shapes, sizes, and colours emulate the star of Bethlehem .

Modern day cinnamon and pine are reminiscent of the Magi’s gifts of incense and myrrh.

Trees, garland, candy canes and Angels convey the shepherds’ glorious story from long ago.

Baked goods and presents remind me of the sweetest gift of all—our Lord Jesus Christ.

In my heart, I offer all this up as a birthday celebration fit for the King of kings, Jesus Christ, our Heavenly Saviour, for He is truly the one and only reason for celebrating with such magnificence.

May the spirit of Christmas, no matter how we celebrate, bless us all and glorify His name.

I pray this week brings you much joy in celebrating Christmas!



17 days left in this year until the main celebration our Saviour's birth.
Merry Christmas to all!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas Break from Writing?

My own little critique group, The Pearl Girls, are entering into discussion of when we should start and end our annual Christmas break from the submission rounds.

Other writers, do you do the same?

You hear over and over again that you should write every single day if you want to succeed in this craft. Do you REALLY write every single day? And I'm not talking, making a grocery list, typing in a letter, writing cheques for the latest bill that's due, etc.

Do you write something "writerly" or "crafty" every single day? That's what I'm talking about.

When you take breaks from rounds of critiquing, do you still work on your own stories every day?

I confess, I don't. Though I love to work on my stories, family takes precedence, and Christmas is one time of year that consistently calls me from my stories. Oh, I dabble here and there when a quiet moment presents itself, but I keep no writing timetable, schedule, or agenda during the few weeks before Christmas and the week and a bit after New Years. Once the girls are back at the grind, in school, then my scheduling begins once more.

How do you balance writing and Christmas?



23 days left in this year until the main celebration our Saviour's birth.
Merry Christmas to all!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

First Snow Day

In our little part of the world, today, December 1st, marks the first snow day of the school year for our three girls. School buses are cancelled in our Township, so our eldest daughter's school is closed, and for the first time since moving out to our little Village, the girls' elementary school will remain open for those who can safely travel to the their school, but the buses won't be running for all the rural kids.

To me, this is a sign of how the urban lifestyle encroaches on the rural. So sad. I certainly understand the reasoning for the fight to keep the school open during "snow days" that don't effect all schools in our school board's region. I, too, was in the fast paced, defined family and sick days work force for many years, but I cherished the days that called me to take pause, and combine quality and quantity family time. That's what used to be great about rural living. You didn't have to feel guilty about staying home with your kids on designated snow days because the choice was not yours to make. The school board did it for you.

Do you get "snow days" in your area of residence? What do you do with your student-aged children on those special days? Bake? Play in the snow and possibly shovel yourselves out of the snow? Shop once the roads are cleared? Visit family and friends? Play board games?

I've done a mixture of these over the years, but unfortunately this snow day's family-time will have to be cut short for me and my girls. I have an appointment in a city about a half hour away, and since the highways are reported to be fairly clear, I can't cancel, so our official quality and quantity family time will have to begin around noon today when I return. I so look forward to our afternoon together!



24 days left in this year until the main celebration our Saviour's birth.
Merry Christmas to all!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Benefit of Archiving

You've probably heard it over and over again that one should set their masterpiece aside for a patch, then come back to it after a break for editing. The thing you don't hear, though, is that beginner writers will probably have to repeat this process over and over again.


Because, unless you've educated yourself abundantly on the craft of fiction writing before you typed in that initial draft, there will likely be way too much to fix in a single pass through. It's scary, really. And unless you can come back to it each time with renewed optimism and the needed drive to improve, those passes may do more harm than good. So...it's time, and for many of us, lots of it, that is needed between editing rounds to truly improve your prose without editing passion right out of it.

How do I know this?

Because I've lived it. In the first two to three years that I took up writing, I did exactly that. I took short breaks between editing rounds of my initial story that was written before I ever read one single writerly self-help book, and in so doing, I edited all the passion I had for the story right out of it. It got to the point that I couldn't stand opening the ANB (the story titled A New Beginning) document, let alone picking up a printed sheet containing any clumping of words from any portion of the story that I had initially poured my heart and soul into. How sad is that?

But there is hope.

I went on to write two more stories through another couple of years. Every once in awhile I'd take a break on them and click on the ANB file, tinker a little, till I felt it was no use once more. Feel defeated. Pine over what should have been a wonderful story that I just knew meant something, but that I still didn't have the strength to fix. Concede that I needed more time, and headed back into the current story I was working on.

Now, this past week, after the loooongest break ever from ANB, months in fact, that included a lot of turmoil in my personal life, I finally overcame my roadblock with ANB. And to my surprise, the story wasn't near as bad as I had believed it to be. Through those little tinkering sessions, I actually did improve much of my prose, at least to me I did.

This past week I've re-edited ANB from start to finish. I modified wording, beefed up the external and internal conflict, quickened the pace, delved deeper into my characters, laughed, cringed, cried with my characters all over again, and managed to strip 2,338 flabby words and phrases from it, so that it now sits at 58,077 words, in target for the publishing house and line I've always been aiming it toward since I started dreaming of publication. Wow, what a mouthful of a sentence. Eh? Yes, I am Canadian, but you'll only find the word once in my manuscript, and I won't tell you who speaks it. In fact, if I ever get this book published, and the "eh" remains, I think it might make for a great book give-away contest. Writers never stop dreaming.

Anywho. I'm just so relieved to have gotten through ANB fully once more, and feeling positive about it, that in my heart, even if this baby still isn't of publishing standards, I know the passion is back in it for me! And that's just the greatest feeling.

So, if you're like me and struggling with a story you know deep down you love, but can't stand looking at anymore, try archiving it. Write something else, study the craft, dabble back at it when you feel called, then slip back into the new story when you're fed up again, live your REAL life, experience the ups and downs of reality, grow in the relationships with your loved ones, then when that still small voice calls you back to it with a vengeance. Be ready. It's exhilarating to feel the passion once more!



28 days left in this year to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy American Thanksgiving!

I wish you all a wonderful start to your Thanksgiving Weekend!

May you find time to reflect on the Blessings you've received in the past year, and the Blessings you've been an instrument in delivering to others.

May God Continue To Bless Us All!!


29 days left this year to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fitting it all in.

I'm Canadian, so I'm not in the mad frenzy of preparing for the American Thanksgiving weekend that fast approaches. However, I realize that many of my blog readers are living that frenzied lifestyle now, and will be for several weeks more as the Christmas rush gets underway both here and abroad. I think the American way has seeped over the boarder some to our advantage, though. Since our Thanksgiving is celebrated mid October, we have several extra weeks to spread the Christmas to-do list over, and thus maybe we aren't quite as rushed as our American friends.

So, my question today, is how do you fit it all in? The Thanksgiving celebration, Christmas shopping, celebrating, sharing, giving, and work, be it writing or otherwise. What method of fulfilling this madness do you live by to discover the New Year with satisfaction and joy, not guilt, despair, and exhaustion?

Praying for a Peace to fall on us all,


32 days left this year to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Friday, November 21, 2008

NaNo -- Oh, no-no!!

Time to confess. My attempt at the NaNo challenge this year is awash. I've done precious little, as my attention and time has been called elsewhere. Life as a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend had other ideas for me this month. That's okay, though, I am still working through The Unlikely One, but at the moment it is cluttering up my brain instead of occupying bits and bytes on my computer. It will fill those memory stores soon, though, just not in time to log progress in NaNo land. Perhaps next year will work more like last year did for me.

Anyone else out there who attempted NaNoWriMo this year? How are you all doing with the 2008 challenge?



35 days left this year to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Seven Random Bookish Things--My first meme tag

I was tagged by Kalea to come up with Seven Random Bookish Things, so here it goes:

1. My all time favourite book and movie (the four-hour edition) is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin.

2. I always have at least two, but usually three books on the go. A novel (usually a Christian romance), a book on the craft of writing, and/or a self-help, motivational type of book.

3. In high school I plotted stories, what at the time I had envisioned as movie scripts, in shorthand. They're stored in my hope chest on steno pads, but I can't read any of them now. Talk about encryption!

4. I can only write in silence. No radio, no background noise from kids. Nadda. Funny, considering I'm generally a multi-tasker.

5. I'm a very slow reader. I generally don't skim, but read every single word. I retain a lot this way, but it's certainly costly time wise.

6. I'm horrible at remembering to return books to libraries, and as a result I don't often utilize those facilities anymore.

7. I have a difficult time letting go of a book I like. Whether it has repeat read value or not, I tend to hold on to it. Imagine how cluttered my bookshelves are, and how many we have in our home. No, I'm not telling.

Okay, that's my seven random bookish things, now for the rules and to tag another seven blogs.

Who shall I tag to hopefully discover seven bookish things from them?

Jillian @ Sleep Is Not Required (I think I know what kind of books Jillian's going to be referring to.)
Emma @ Emma Eldon Blogspot
Becky @ Becky Melby's Blogspot
Wendy @ Wendalyn Loves to Write
Bonnie @ Fiction Matters
Sue @ Sue Mason's Blog
Jessica @ BookingIt

I look forward to reading all the wonderful bookish things divulged through this meme.



42 days left this year to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Book Giveaway today!

As I wait to make the draw at noon, I wanted to direct any Steeple Hill lovers over to Seekerville's post today. An informative, warm interview with Senior editor, Melissa Endlich, is posted, along with some great pictures.

This is a great opportunity to learn more of what Steeple Hill lines are looking for in an author and story. And Melissa is interacting within the comment section, too. So, if you have questions, you may just be lucky enough to get them answered.

WINNER DRAWN: Congratulations, Carrie T., you won a copy of Patti Lacy's An Irishwoman's Tale.



43 days left this year to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Visiting Writer's Rest Today

Hey, All:

I'm posting on Writer's Rest today. Come visit me for Writer's Wisdom Wednesday.

Comments over there in today's Writer's Rest post will also count toward the book giveaway I'm hosting here. But only if you let me know you're interested in it in your comment, and leave a way of my getting hold of you if you should win. (See side bar for book giveawy information if needed.)



44 days left this year to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Omit Redundancy and You'll Liven the Prose

It's true.

In my humble opinion, you can turn a bland piece of writing into one of interest by taking the time to come up with alternate words for those that tend to become repetitive. Varying the length of your sentences, adding detail, and presenting your ideas in a closer POV and active way will also improve your writing.

The only reasons authors should be repetitive with words is 1) to create pieces for early readers as a teaching tool, and 2) to make something stand out. And it will only stand out if it's an oddity, right?

Consider the following sample:

This morning I woke up and started the coffee pot brewing. Then I set to work on the girls' lunches and started breakfast. I started a pot of cream of wheat simmering on the stove. Nothing better than a good hot cereal on a cold morning to start the day. Right? (Consider all the "started" and derivative of it in that passage and the similarity in sentence lengths.)

Now, lets read the same basic info arranged a little differently.

This morning I woke up and started the coffee pot brewing. I set to work on the girls' lunches and thought about what to prepare for breakfast while still half asleep. The chill in the air led me to look out the window. Pellet-like snow crashed onto my already snow-covered porch. Hugging myself, I decided a pot of hot cereal seemed an appropriate choice. Cream of wheat would warm them from the inside out. Right?

This isn't stellar in the least, but I think you can see that just by reworking the words, varying the sentence lengths, and adding in a little more detail with a closer POV, the read seems less bland. At least to me it does.

If you find a piece of your writing feels stagnant, consider narrowing in on what's the same in it. Sentence structure? Repetitive words? POV Distance? Passive? Try to shake things up, vary it, and see if it comes to life that way.



45 days left to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Life's Detours and Blessings & Book Giveaway is back!

It's been a week since I last posted. In that week I finally completed the wallpaper stripping and painting of our living room, celebrated our youngest daughter's eleventh birthday with a slumber party, wrote a short piece that clarifies what I see in festive trimmings, and discovered that getting up in front of a group of adults to lead adult education isn't near as nerve-racking as the anticipation of doing so felt. Wow, I guess I did accomplish a few things, after all.

And here I was worried that I wasn't doing enough to keep up with my NaNoWriMo responsibilities, and my blogging. It's true as they say, you can't do it all, but I'm blessed to have accomplished all that I did. It's good to be back blogging and writing The Unlikely One, though. So here is a picture of my newly painted living room. Yahoo, it's finished. Well, not totally. I still have to cut, stain and varnish the new oak window trim. But I'll do that over a bit of time as well.

Other Blessings for me:

I received the warmest compliment today when I opened my e-mail after the girls headed off to school. One might view the question "Did you write this piece?" as negative or positive feedback. But considering what followed in that e-mail I take it as a positive, and it gave me a real confidence boost and eagerness to get back to work on my next story, The Unlikely One.

Never before have I submitted anything to our Church Newsletter. I know, that seems really bad when I consider myself a writer-in-training. But the truth is that a few people at our church know what I've been studying for several years now, and so I continually worry that what I submit will dissapoint them greatly. It's that old "I'm not good enough yet, never will be" syndrom that's buried deep inside of me.

If you've studied the craft of fiction writing for as long as I have, or even half as long, I think it's natural that the writer assumes that there's certain expectations from those who have knowledge of what they've been doing. A real fear develops that we may not meet our friends' expectations in our attempts at writing and so we instead hoard our writing to protect our own self-esteem.

Many who know that I write, though, also know a few other things about me. Two of which are that I'm addicted to "stuff", seasonal trimmings included in over-abundance, and also that I seriously get riled when I smell injustice or misunderstanding prevailing. [I feel my heart pounding just thinking about a few of those sticky topics right now.] Anyway, our dear newsletter editor hit on one of my sticky points with her request for the November/December church newsletter submissions, and my need to explain my actions won out over my fear of not writing well enough. It would seem that she actually liked my piece, and what's even better is that in her response, she revealed what I aimed to show in that short compilation of words that I submitted.

There is no better feeling to a writer at any level than realizing that someone "got" what you were trying to creatively paint with your words. So, if you're reading this dear editor, Rebecca, I thank you. You made my day!!

On another note, I was tagged last week by Kalea to post seven random bookish things about me. I will follow through with this sometime this week. It should be a fun post, I hope.

For today, I offer to you readers, a similar question to what Rebecca posed to our congregation. [I'd offer the actual questions, but they went out in the recycle bin which in turn was dumped into the waste collector's bin this morning, unfortunately.] I'd love to hear your responses, and some day after the newsletter is released I'll post what I sent for submission in response to this topic. So you'll get my view on this, too, I promise!

How do you bring Christ into your way of celebrating Christmas?

BOOK GIVEAWAY Information:

In honour of my dear critique partner's book being next months ACFWBOOKCLUB selection, I will be drawing a name from the comments left this week until Thursday at noon to win a copy of Patti Lacy's An Irishwoman's Tale. Since the above question is especially interesting to me, I'll put two ballots in for each response given to it. I hope to hear lots of ways that we can bring Christ into the way we celebrate the Christmas season.



46 days left to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Gift Unused is ...

God's grace denied.

A profound thought. At least for me it is.

Consider the following verse:

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various form..." 1 Peter 4:10

I've always thought of God's grace as an amazing gift that I don't deserve, but so thankful to have. But never before did I really consider that I could be used as a vessel to deliver His grace to another person. According to Peter, though, we are to be faithful in administering God's grace through the gifts we are given.

We are instruments through which God extends His grace to others. Doesn't that make our responsibility to discover our gifts all the more important? It does to me.




The Word of the Week: Grace (definitions brought to you from http://www.dictionary.com/

1. elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action.
2. a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment.
3. favor or good will.
4. a manifestation of favor, esp. by a superior: It was only through the dean's grace that I wasn't expelled from school.
5. mercy; clemency; pardon: an act of grace.
6. favor shown in granting a delay or temporary immunity.
7. an allowance of time after a debt or bill has become payable granted to the debtor before suit can be brought against him or her or a penalty applied: The life insurance premium is due today, but we have 31 days' grace before the policy lapses. Compare grace period.
8. Theology.
a. the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God.
b. the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.
c. a virtue or excellence of divine origin: the Christian graces.
d. Also called state of grace. the condition of being in God's favor or one of the elect.
9. moral strength: the grace to perform a duty.
10. a short prayer before or after a meal, in which a blessing is asked and thanks are given.
11. (usually initial capital letter) a formal title used in addressing or mentioning a duke, duchess, or archbishop, and formerly also a sovereign (usually prec. by your, his, etc.).
12. Graces, Classical Mythology. the goddesses of beauty, daughters of Zeus and Eurynome, worshiped in Greece as the Charities and in Rome as the Gratiae.
13. Music. grace note. –verb (used with object)
14. to lend or add grace to; adorn: Many fine paintings graced the rooms of the house.
15. to favor or honor: to grace an occasion with one's presence. —Idioms
16. fall from grace,
a. Theology. to relapse into sin or disfavor.
b. to lose favor; be discredited: He fell from grace when the boss found out he had lied.
17. have the grace to, to be so kind as to: Would you have the grace to help, please?
18. in someone's good (or bad) graces, regarded with favor (or disfavor) by someone: It is a wonder that I have managed to stay in her good graces this long.
19. with bad grace, reluctantly; grudgingly: He apologized, but did so with bad grace. Also, with a bad grace.
20. with good grace, willingly; ungrudgingly: She took on the extra work with good grace.

Origin: 1125–75; ME < class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_6">grātia favor, kindness, esteem, deriv. of grātus pleasing

Wow, that's a lot of uses for one compact, beautiful word.

May grace guide my every deed.

55 days left to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

It's in the Details

It's details that bring a novel to life...or kills it, as the case may be.

Not only can a writer use specific details to show, rather than tell, but it's the well chosen details that can set a mood, sketch a picture, and thus bring a scene to life for the reader.

Be careful, though, there is a need for brevity when dealing with details. It's important to discern which details to include, and which to let the reader discover within their own imagination. If you provide too much detail, you risk boring the reader. Too little, and you haven't given enough to spark the reader's imagination so that they can complete the canvass to their own satisfaction.

A good exercise to educate yourself on details in writing is to pick a scene in a novel that stood out particularly well to you. A scene that you'd consider shone. Pick that scene apart word by word, paying attention specifically to the details that the author provided. Then consider what other details you added through your own imagination that completed the picture for you. Can you see how the details the author provided aided in your completing the picture? Were they specific, maybe unique, conducive to a specific style/mood, of particular interest?

The first example that popped into my mind for me to do this exercise with is actually from one of my critique partner's work. Becky Melby, with Cathy Wienke, painted a marvelous tour of a Victorian House so vividly for me in the following two paragraphs from their novel Treasuring Kate.

"Built in 1897, Heathercrest was the largest of the Victorian homes in Woodbridge, Wisconsin. It was painted in its original colors, a soft sage green with gingerbread trim the color of butter. Thirteen wooded acres protected it from being engulfed as the little lakeside town expanded.

Setting his camera back on the dresser before heading down to breakfast, Grant scooped up a pile of change and looked around the curved-walled turret room. It was this house, this room in particular, that had birthed his career in historic renovations. The thought of being able to see it only on a guided tour, the doorway cordoned off by a velvet rope, twisted something deep inside. No more treasure hunts in the gardens, no more sliding down banisters, no more stockings hung from the cherubs on the fireplace mantle, no more laughter, no more tradition. He couldn’t imagine raising children of his own without the backdrop of Heathercrest.
(From Chapter 1 of Becky Melby's and Cathy Wienke's novel Treasuring Kate. This story has yet to find a publisher. I really hope it does some day soon.)

I just love this excerpt. Okay, let's look at the actual details provided in the first short paragraph.

Built in 1897
Largest Victorian home in the area
The home itself is called Heathercrest (These three facts alone paint a grandiose picture in my mind. I'm immediately drawn to think of Castle Kilbride, a local Victorian home. Facts or details like this provide the reader with data that they can associate with something concrete they are familiar with. I already have a pretty good picture of what I want Heathercrest to look like now.)
Colors of the house provided (Now I know specific details that set this house apart from the one I'm comparing it to, further making Heathercrest its own. I'm really liking it!)
Gingerbread (I love gingerbread trim, all its swirls and curves inviting me to come visit. When I picture gingerbread trim, I think of peaked roofs, attic rooms, covered veranda's, welcoming front entries,...I could go on and on, and that's just from one small detail of the house.)
Thirteen wooded acres. (What a picturesque, elite, backdrop for such a grand house. I'm thinking there might even be trails in those wooded acres. And all the critters that must live and play on such a property. Surely the yard has a birdbath and feeders situated near the home. Maybe the owner keeps binoculars in a basket sitting on a deep wooden windowsill inside the parlour.)

So in four lines of writing, I have a pretty good picture of this home in my mind's eye, and the property that surrounds it, and I've even started thinking about how the owner might live (binoculars and all). All this came from six specific, concise details provided by the author.

This post would go on forever if I attempted to go inside the house with the second paragraph's details. It's just so vivid to me, I feel like I'm actually pocketing that change from a high bureau chest of drawers, passing the wide wood-trimmed doors upstairs and descending the wooden staircase with heavy, shapely spindles guiding the way into a hallway that opens into a room with a grand fireplace. I can even envision the type of furniture this house holds, solid, sturdy, lasting.

Go ahead, pick that second paragraph apart, and enjoy the picture it provides for you. I bet it's different than mine, because you'll use your own storehouse of Victorian House memories along with the details provided to complete your canvass, and what a perfect picture yours will be for you, as mine is for me. Details, chosen wisely, can appeal to all your readers.

I challenge you to discover the details that lend themselves to a bigger picture. Include those details in your writing and let the reader's imagination paint the rest of the canvass subconsciously.



56 days left to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Imperfect and Candid Characters are In...

...so I'm told.

By allowing your protagonist to be candid, whether he's of the likable nature or not, and by revealing at least one of his vulnerabilities, a writer essentially has the ability to create a character that readers can relate to and will want to learn more about.

So go ahead and reveal the flaws within your characters early on, but consider doing so within that particular character's own POV. Let the reader experience your character's flaws through his or her own perception.

Create real time empathy and your reader will be drawn in. Well, at least the readers with an ounce of compassion will be, even if your character is ugly inside and out. As long as the reader receives a hint of "why" the character is the way he/she is, or that they're disturbed by their own faults, then empathy can be conceived.

How do you make the unlikeable tolerable in your writing?



57 days left to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Raising Questions

Yesterday we talked about using a surprise to hook your reader. Another way to grab your reader's attention is to invoke questions through your writing early on. Be sure to leave the question(s) unanswered for a while, too. At least until you've raised another one or two to keep the story moving forward at a steady pace.

The goal is to get the reader contemplating about what's going to happen, or what has happened to put the character in his/her present state, or raise a why this or why that type of question. You want your reader to want to know more, and to do that you need to get them wondering about this or that. Any type of question that you can spark will go a long way in keeping your audience reading to find out the answer.

Curiosity draws readers in, so be sure to give them something to be curious about in your opening paragraphs.



58 days left to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Surprise Factor

Does your story include a surprise?

You might want to consider including one in your opening paragraphs if you haven't all ready. An unexpected incident or character reaction is a great way to grab the reader's attention pronto and keep them hooked on your writing. So, if you find your opening isn't catchy enough, think of what the average reader wouldn't be expecting, and utilize it to your advantage.

One of the biggest surprise openings I've read lately was in the opening of Cheryl Wyatt's A Soldier's Family, a Steeple Hill, Love Inspired novel. She opened with a crash landing. Not your typical start to a romance. Thriller/Suspense, yes, but not in a romance. She immediately surprised me, and thus caught my attention to keep reading and get to know her characters.

What ways have you found, or can think of, to surprise your reader? Feel free to share.



59 days left to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Critiquers, what's the worse comment you ever received?

Over on the ACFW course loop, we're learning a lot about critique groups/partners. It reminded me of my very first lesson of what NOT to comment on with respect to a beginner's work.

As a rule, I believe I give constructive criticism with a dose of praise in each of the critiques I do. I view my job as a critiquer to be fair and honest within the confines of my own subjectivity. That end part is the key, I believe, to helping those new to critiquing. If you go into the rounds of critiquing with nothing else than the knowledge that subjectivity is everywhere in this craft, you'll be so much more emotionally equipped to handle the comments coming your way. If your critique partner(s) are truly invested in helping you, then take their comments seriously, mull over even the ones you disagree with immediately to see if you can discover its merit on further thought, then alter your work according to your decisions.

Now, I don't know what the most hurtful comment that I've given has been because no one has scolded me for being malicious with their work yet. But I certainly know which one and only comment I received that stung bad, so bad that I sobbed over it (this happened very early on in my writing, I've developed a much thicker skin since then). For all you critiquers out there, do you have a comment to share to add to the "DO NOT INCLUDE (DNI)" list for new critiquers? I really think there should be such a listing, it would alleviate a whole lot of heartache for beginner writers.

I'll go first.

#1 DNI item: "You have no voice, or at best it's generic enough that I can't hear it."

You tell me, how does that help a writer develop their writerly voice? A writer's voice is something that develops over time, and is so complex, that commenting on the non-existence of it is futile, and seriously hurtful to a beginner. My suggestion, wait until you start 'hearing' his/her voice, and then comment on how lovely or unique it sounds. Save the voice thing for a praise since there isn't much a writer can do other than to keep writing and honing their craft to develop their voice anyway. Always think constructive when making comments on other's work.

Okay, it's your turn all you seasoned critiquers reading this. What would you add to the DNI (Do Not Include) list for critique etiquette? And for those who aren't yet involved a critique group, feel free to comment on what you would hope to get out of a critique partner(s) relationship.



63 days left to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Monday, October 20, 2008

National Novel Writing Month Is Just Around The Corner

Ever heard of NaNoWriMo?

November is National Novel Writing Month. A month where writers all over the world work to create a novel in one month.

In the words of the official organization : "National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30."

Last year I wrote the first draft of For Better or For Worse? (one of my Olive Series stories) during November. This year, I have a slight head start, I'm up to 2,500 words of The Unlikely One, but discovering that I really need to do some character sketching and GMC charting for it before I continue writing. So, although, I won't be writing this year as a die-hard seat-of-your-pantster, I will be participating in NaNoWriMo, and hope to see The Unlikely One grow to a good size during the month of November. Due to time restraints, I may not make the 50,000-word organization goal, but I'll do my best, that's for sure.

What about you? Have you ever dreamed of writing a novel? If so, please join me during November, sign up at NaNoWriMo, and let the writing begin on November 1, 2008.



66 days left to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Creativity--Where does it come from?

This is a picture of my eldest daughter's recent art project. Though it's difficult to see in the photo, it's a three-dimensional depiction of the front of an old church. To build it up, she cut small paper tubes for the pillars, made use of broken glass, rolled paper for the framing, a cement type compound for the doors, and tinted DecoArt Snow for the steps and crown-molding of the pillars. It just fascinates me to look at it, and to feel the different textures she's incorporated into it.

Alisha has always been a well-rounded student, but I always thought she tended more toward the maths and sciences, like both her parents, but I have to wonder now. Seeing how engrossed she was while working on this project, and how quickly she decided which medium to use for the next portion, I now wonder if we have an architect or artsy of some kind budding within our home.

Children have a way of making the future seem so exciting? Seriously, if I'm bored with my life, or just simply procrastinating while waiting for the next big scene to present itself for my wip (that's work in progress), all I have to do is think of my three daughters, and wonder what vocation they'll choose, or if it will be several for each of them. What a great way to brainstorm for your characters, too. Perhaps I just have to think of them as my babies, and let my imagination run wild like I do for my girls' future.

One big problem with that, I refuse to dream up nasty conflict for my daughters. A sure sign of a dud story, but makes for a happy dream life for my girls.

Children can be an inspiration for so many things. So I say, let's celebrate them, and all they accomplish while discovering themselves. A blessing like no other!


The word of the week is back, and today it's brought to you by Dictionary.com :

expeditious \ek-spuh-DISH-uhs\, adjective:Characterized by or acting with speed and efficiency.

His problem was to get from Lookout Valley to Chattanooga Valley in the most expeditious way possible.-- Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs

The criminal may of course use some short-term act of violence to 'terrorize' his victim, such as waving a gun in the face of a bank clerk during a robbery in order to ensure the clerk's expeditious compliance.-- Bruce Hoffman, Inside Terrorism

Expeditious is derived from Latin expeditus, "unshackled, unimpeded, ready for action," from expedire, "to free (one's feet) from a snare; hence, to get out, to set free, to get ready for action," from ex-, "out of" + pes, ped-, "foot."


May the weekend bring you a surprise or two!


69 days left to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Book Review of A Matter of the Heart by Patricia Davids

A Matter of the Heart,
Love Inspired Oct 08
By Patricia Davids
ISBN-13: 978-0-373-87500-9

Back Cover Blurb: A Child's Life Is in Her Hands

Operating on a sick little boy is Dr. Nora Blake's responsibility. Answering a determined reporter's questions about the surgery is not. Especially because Robert Dale is delving into her life, too. Nora has her share of secrets. She won't allow a newspaper to profit from the child's story--or her own. Granted, the handsome reporter truly seems to care. About young, orphaned Ali. About her. And thanks to Rob's skills at digging deep, there is one question she just might answer with a joyful yes...

Patricia Davids stories have always presented good reads for me. As a fairly new author (A Matter of the Heart is Davids sixth published Love Inspired novel) I appreciate her attention to detail and steady writing style. She always presents three-dimensional characters and her stories move.

Dr. Nora Blake comes across as a very real physician, struggles and all, in A Matter of the Heart. And although I found some of reporter Robert Dale's early dialogue bordering on backstory dump, I can't fault Davids for doing so, as it offers authenticity to the hero's vocation. The underlying mystery in the plot adds intrigue to the story, and also livens the pace.

All round good read with a message of hope and understanding. Praise to Patricia Davids for another wonderful novel!

70 days to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A New Story, Therefore, New Goals!

Nothing seems to be going right for my Olive Series, at least not in my head, so I've started a new stand-alone story.

It's a little scary as I am writing in my usual seat-of-the-pants style and depending on my characters (with God's guidance, of course) to tell me what their story is as I work the keys on my laptop. I, of course, know the hero and heroine, the main conflict (And it's a good one I think. Something realistic, but not often used in an Inspirational Romance.), and the spiritual growth thread I want to incorporate is clear to me. So I'm off to a good start.

With a romance, the beginning and end are for the most part a given. Beginning: Have the hero and heroine meet in some interesting scene. End: Always a Happily Ever After, or it wouldn't be a true romance story. It's the middle that can cause romance writers to wish they had never started the piece to begin with. Thankfully, I'm still in the beginning phase, so I shouldn't have too much trouble clicking in a thousand words a day for a week or so yet.

I've decided that after years of studying this craft, and writing stories in what I call my Olive Series, that it's time I set a goal of submitting a manuscript to agents and editors. I haven't done that since the first year I took on this writing endeavor, and that was in my great naivety when I didn't realize how very much I still needed to learn. Actually, I'll always have oodles to learn when it comes to writing, but if I never submit, will I ever find out if I'm getting closer to creating publishable stories?

Not likely.

So, here is my goal, set in print. Since it often takes several months to hear back from agents and editors (for those houses that accept unagented work) I intend to submit one of my stories (likely this new one, since I can't seem to do right by any of my Olive Stories) by June 30, 2009 at the latest. That should give me enough time to write the story, run it through my critique group, and create a proposal to go with it. I'm cloaking this goal in prayer starting now.

At some point I'll find a widget that tracks word count and add it to this blog so that my writing progress for The Unlikely One is visible for all to see. It'll help me stay accountable, too, I hope.

What do you think? Am I making a wise goal? If you think not, please don't burst my bubble. I need this goal to jump start a more positive writing experience, and I need it now. Really, I do!

Blessings to all, and may your writing experiences be joyous ones, too.


71 days to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Today is the kick-off for Oktoberfest in Kitchener/Waterloo. It always kicks off on the Thanksgiving weekend. The big thing they're talking about this year is the fact that the weather looks as though it will cooperate for the big parade, and the pancake breakfast coming up tomorrow. Which means that the weather will also cooperate for all the fun family events everyone is planning for their Thanksgiving celebration.

This year will be a little odd for my family, as my mother left for Israel last night, and thus she won't be celebrating Thanksgiving in body with us. Though I know she will be in spirit. With Mom away touring the Holy Land with a group of lady friends, we daughters got to thinking that Dad may need some extra attention. And what better way to do that than enlist him to teach us how to juice.

You see, Dad makes the absolute best grape juice, and for years he's been so kind as to juice extra for all five of his daughters to enjoy. But this year, it just makes sense to participate in the whole juicing extravaganza, which will also have us each going home with more than a precious few bottles that we must ration throughout the year. I'm looking forward to learning and sharing this time with Dad and which ever sisters happen to stop by during my shift with the juicer and Dad.

As a bonus, this year I won't feel guilty about using some of the limited juice for my Christmas fruitcake recipe. My girls have always scowled at me in the past for "wasting" Papa's good juice on a cake they haven't yet acquire a taste for. One day they too will understand that Papa's juice makes all the difference in how my fruitcake turns out. (I'm thinking their weddings here. I believe that's around the time I finally came to enjoy a good piece of fruitcake, myself.)

Hmmm, where was I hoping to go with this post, anyway?

Oh, yes, for all you fellow Canadians reading this post, as you celebrate Thanksgiving this weekend, no matter what you do, whether it be juicing with your Dad, or playing football with the gang, or a game of monopoly between pie baking and potato peeling, etc., may you take a moment to pause and recognize what you have to be thankful for, and may praise be lifted to Him, our Heavenly Father, for providing so graciously for us!

To my non-Canadian visitors, I wish you a wonderful 'everyday' weekend, and may you feel the urge to warm-up your Thanks-lifting, for your Thanksgiving is coming up just around the corner.

What follows is an Uncle Ben's Stuff'n Such recipe for Meatloaf. I thought I'd share it for all those looking for a non-turkey easy meal to have before the big Turkey feast arrives, whether it be this weekend or a few away.


1 box Uncle Ben's Stuff'n Such Country Style
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Egg lightly beaten
1/2 cup Milk
1-1/2 lb. Extra Lean Ground beef
1/4 cup Ketchup
1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Prepared mustard

1. Combine contents of crumb pouch and milk.
2. Add egg, worcestershire sauce and contents of seasoning pouch to crumb/milk mixture. Mix well.
3. Add ground beef and mix until combined.
4. Press into a 9" pie plate.
5. Blend Ketchup, sugar and mustard. Brush sauce over meatloaf.
6. Bake at 350 F for 35 minutes.
Serves 4 - 6. Enjoy! It's the moistest meatloaf I've ever made, and the girls love it, especially when I double the topping sauce.

(We'll be having this on Saturday with my Dad while juicing, as Turkey dinners are anticipated for the remaining weekend. I just finished pre-cooking it. The aroma in the house is making me hungry!)

Blessings and Happy Thanksgiving Everyone,


76 days to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Head-Hopping Saga Continues

I'm blogging on Writers' Rest today. Click here if you're interested in what I dug up on head-hopping.



78 days to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Dehorning Cattle Verses Writing Inspirational Romance?

That's a no-brainer for me. I definitely pick writing Inspirational romance. What about you?

My second daughter was at a friend's barn a couple weeks ago. She went to ride a pony, Sonny, who she has been training for quite some time, but instead got caught up in the 'fascinating' veterinary job of dehorning a couple young cattle that share the barn with Sonny. I was horrified to hear that she'd spent her time helping with and observing the procedure.

"How could you watch that?" After seeing the aftermath a few months ago of blood-soaked hides on the older cattle, all I could visualize was gore and horror. I looked at my daughter for the first time in her life like she was some weird, heartless child.

"Mom, it's interesting stuff. Besides, there was no blood this time. I got to fill the syringes. They were put to sleep, they didn't feel a thing."

"No blood?" Wasn't possible in my mind. Not from what I'd seen before. "How can that be?"

"If they're dehorned early enough, they can just melt the horns. No blood. Really cool. But even if there were blood, it wouldn't bother me. They don't feel it happening."

"You actually find that kind of stuff interesting." What happened to my dear sweet little girl who played with dolls and barbies, dressing and undressing, and poofing their golden hair?

"Yeah, maybe I'll become a vet."

$$$ start flashing before my eyes. I know veterinarians make healthy incomes. After all, our household has helped support a few of their lifestyles for many years, not the least of which is this past one with Tucker's broken leg, and Columbo's thyroid problems. I have a thyroid issue too, but man, neither the drugs or the blood testing costs me near as much it does for our sixteen-year-old tabby cat. This ability, or open-mindedness my daughter has toward medical procedures may just be a good thing after all, I'm thinking.

We are all blessed with individual gifts. And I'm thinking those gifts may sprout from how we perceive individual situations or conditions. To me, working on a living creature, human or otherwise, gives me the willies. I can't get beyond that feeling, so clearly my strength is not in the medical profession. But thankfully there are those who can see beyond the oozing blood, past the open flesh, anticipate healing from short-term pain, and truly be fascinated and awed by carrying out procedures that are far less than beautiful in my eyes.

Whether my daughter heads to veterinary school in five years or not, I have no idea, but for now, she has opened my eyes a little bit wider. Perception is a powerful tool, a character building one at that. As a writer, this experience with my daughter taught me a very important lesson. If we can get into the heads of our characters, and understand how they perceive what is around them, then we are one step closer to authentically writing their stories.



80 days to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Fellow Writers, Check Out this Amazing Opportunity!

Agent Kelly Mortimer of Mortimer Literary Agency is offering a wonderful opportunity for all us writers. Check out this link explaining her Mentorship Award ( http://kellymortimer.com/category/mentorship-rules/), then do some serious praying, and follow His answer.



83 days to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Why Do Many Die-hard Writers Seek Anonymity?

I suspect there are as many answers to this as there are writers. An e-mail note from a special person brought this topic to mind, and got me thinking. I'm one of the die-hard writers that truly does prefer anonymity regarding my chosen path to write, but why is that? And to whom do I wish to keep my writing a secret? Considering I keep this blog, and have a website that clearly tells of my writing, I mustn't be trying to hide my love of writing from everyone. Right?

It's true, I'm not. Letting people in cyber space and other writers know that I'm attempting to be a published author is much safer and far more comfortable than having to deal with people of close proximity asking "How's the writing going?" every time you happen to cross paths. After a while they, too, learn to stop asking, and discover vicariously through you that this business is slow going. Either that, or they come to think that you're just an awful writer and living in a dreamworld to waste such precious time trying to get a story down worthy of publication. Either way, it's the writer who has to live with the feeling of incompetence every time they hear that question. A huge reminder of how difficult this business is. Do we really need this added frustration? I think not.

The truth is, few people who haven't attempted to learn the craft of fiction writing understand that the average author has sweat and toiled over learning this art for a good number of years before the glory day of publication arrives. Even more writers never see that glory day despite years and years dedicated to honing the craft. Nevertheless, I believe time spent writing is never a waste. Not if you write with a desire to please your Heavenly Father. For God can use our training-years in so many wonderful ways. I know, because I've experienced a few eye-openers already as a direct result of my writing.

If you are called to write, write for the immense gifts that writing can bring to your life. And if someone asks just one too many times, "How's the writing going?", invite them to join you on this writing journey. Worst case scenario is that they'll take you up on it and they'll get published tout de suite, but hey, then you'll always know that your encouragement had a place in his/her success. And that's the next best thing to being published yourself.

Blessings to all!


84 days to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

October's Love Inspired Releases

I arrived in Guelph a half hour early yesterday to pick my little Tucker up from the Ontario Veterinary Clinic. He had "the hardware" removed from his right elbow on Monday. Another successful surgery for our little ten-month old yorkie-poo. Praise God.

In my excitement to go pick him up though, I forgot to grab my nightstand book, and since I was early without something to read, I decided I'd stop at the nearby Zellers and see if the new October Love Inspired releases were shelved a day early. They were. And to my great surprise, two of the four stories depict a beautiful Christmas/winter scene on their cover. I guess I'm not too early to start the countdown after all. There are others like me out there. Yahoo!

Aren't the covers of this months releases gorgeous? I can't wait to devour the stories. Usually I restrain myself and choose two or three of the four available titles each month, but as I read the back cover blurbs, I decided I needed to enjoy all of these stories this month.

Happy reading, everyone.



85 days to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Messy Jobs

This isn't a picture of my living room, the one I'm currently stripping wallpaper from, but it might as well be. The job depicted in this google picture seems every bit as tedious as the one that's keeping me too busy to snap my own telling photo.

A piece of advice to all you writers procrastinating from editing, don't turn to wallpaper stripping. The tasks are far too similar. Tedious, messy, and apparently never-ending. Definitely not the break I was looking for.

"Think optomistically", you say as you jab me in the ribs .

Okay, if you want to be like that, then, yes, let's consider how this inconvenient project might turn out.

Once I strip away the outer "decorative" layer of the paper (reduce pet words and phrases, replace weak adverbs and adjectives with stronger verbs and adjectives, trim and strip redundancies, convert telling into showing where it is best suited), then I'm left with the really gooey layer to be soaked, then scraped ever so carefully to not damage the underlying drywall or plaster (smooth your wording into a rhythm that hums, drums, beats, or sings, modify scenes to make them shine, or remove the weaker ones if necessary and work the required nuggets into a stronger existing scene, be sure your transitions are seamless). Now the final TSP scrub is performed (one more read through to catch those sneaky unwanted left-behinds), and then we are ready for painting, because only a punishment-seeker would dare to re-wallpaper. Right?

I'll leave the painting phase for another day, as the stripping one is taxing enough for me. So, tell me, how do you go about taking a break from your manuscript so that you can dive in with a clear mind, eyes-wide-open approach to the editing phase?



86 days to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Welcoming a New Pearl Girl

We affectionately call our critique group The Pearl Girls. Up until yesterday we had four shiny pearls on our strand, Patti Lacy, Becky Melby, Lee Franklin, and me. Now, we add a fifth sparkling pearl, Patty Hall. Welcome, Patty, and Congratulations on your Genesis win in the Historical Fiction category!! Way to go Patty with a 'y'! I look forward to critiquing with you for years to come.

Since I haven't bragged about all my crit partners yet on this blog, I thought I'd take a moment to do that.

Patti Lacy writes Contemporary Christian Women's Lit. Patti's first book, An Irishwoman's Tale, published by Kregel was released last month. She has since contracted her second story, What the Bayou Saw, and is currently working on a third stunning story that reveals one woman's challenge to come to terms with her secret past, and seek to right a future wrong. (At least that's what I'm getting from where we are at in the rotations so far.) Patti writes with such clarity that you can smell, see, and hear her story unfolding.

Becky Melby is a multi-published Contemporary Christian Romance author, who often co-authors with Cathy Wienke. Becky's stories brighten your days long after the cover has collected dust. There is a quaintness to her stories that makes you feel all cozy while reading and reminiscing about her scenes. And she is amazingly fast at pumping out her novels and novellas. I wish I had her snappy fingers, and awesome scene structure.

Lee Franklin is our poignant Suspense writer. The story she is running through the crit group now has made my insides curdle, my skin clam up, gives me an ache for justice to prevail, and brings my most annoying impatience out. Unlike the rest of us, Lee likes to dole out her story in very small increments, leaving us hanging by a very fine thread each rotation. I know once this story is done, it's going to be the type that you just can't put down to digest a bit here and a bit there. It's going to be a thrill ride of reading, one straight fast and furious run to the final page, just the way thriller/suspense novels ought to be.

And so you see, the Lord is very good to me. I am counseled by amazing writers/authors, and blessed with having a first look at each of their works. Patti, Becky, and Lee not only provide me with wonderful stories to enjoy and pull apart, but they are all great teachers of the craft by example.

Patty with a 'y', welcome to our diverse, supportive, and amazingly gifted critique group. And thank you for entrusting your precious works of labour with each of us. I pray God will continue to guide each of us in how best to support and encourage continual growth in our calling to write for Him.



90 days to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Three-Month Count Down Begins

I recently created a fall display, complete with various varieties of mums, pumpkins, including a fairytale one, and scarecrows out front, but my thoughts are wandering to the most precious season of all. Christmas. Did you know that the day we dedicate to celebrating Jesus's birth is only ninety-one days away?

The months and days leading to Christmas Day have always been my favorite season. Though I imagine when I was little the spark came more from anticipation of what brightly wrapped surprises I'd discover tucked under our glittering Christmas tree on that special morning. Now, however, the spark that Christmas ignites in me is far less selfish. It's not about the gifts, or even so much about the giving, anymore. It's difficult to explain, but the Christmas season brings history to life for me. At least one particular time in history, that of Jesus's time on earth.

My mother leaves with a Church group for a tour of Jerusalem in a couple of weeks. I'm so excited for her, and so looking forward to the day that I can walk the Holy land where Mary and Joseph raised their son, where Jesus later ministered, and ultimately sacrificed His life for everyone. I've cloaked my Mom in prayer for this amazing adventure she's about to experience. Due to the unrest in the Holy land, I welcome all prayers of safety and clarity for my Mom and those she is traveling with.

I know that if I were on this trip with Mom at this time of year, I'd be thinking of Mary and Joseph as I toured. Particularly about Mary's mindset as the birth of Jesus approached. She was such a young girl, not yet even known her new husband. She'd be rounding, and feeling Jesus's kicks within by now. No doubt anxious about the birth experience, worried about safety for them all, concerned about how she and Joseph would raise God's child to His glory. I imagine Mary as a very quiet young woman. She must have been to allow herself to hear God's guidance with how she was to rear His Son, and conduct her own life. I suspect she talked often with God. Poured her fears and concerns out to Him, and found her strength through Him. I think I'll take that thought with me today, won't you join me? Allow yourself to be quiet, listening for God's peace and direction for the hours ahead.

Blessings to us all,


91 days to reflect and celebrate our Saviour's birth.