Friday, April 3, 2015

It is finished!

It's been far too long since I checked in, friends. Life has kept me busy, but that's no excuse to stop communicating. I'm writing this on Good Friday at a little past 2:30 p.m. While I know I'm not in the right time zone and I may be a bit off on the timeline, I'm counting down the minutes until our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ cries, "It is finished!" and takes our sin and the punishment for that sin (death) upon His holy shoulders. It's more than I can comprehend, but God knows I'm struggling to understand the depth of His sacrifice for His children.

Perhaps I will never understand completely how horrible His death really was. I can imagine, of course; I can try to put myself in His place, but that's laughable in its impossibility. How a man, righteous or not, could tolerate the pain and degradation He endured before He was nailed to the cross is beyond belief. But to endure all that knowing that once He reached Golgotha, He would be nailed--not positioned with soft fabric, not even tied with ropes, but nailed--to the cross and left to hang in the sun for however long it took Him to die--well, that defies comprehension. And He was God. He was the Creator of all that was, is, and ever will be. He is the Alpha and the Omega. And yet, he died such a lowly death for us.

It is now just after 3:00 p.m. My Lord has died upon the cross for me. He has taken my sin with Him and offered me His forgiveness and love and guidance and friendship and salvation and everlasting life with Him after my own death, which no matter how gruesome it may be, could never be as bad as His.

I often wonder how we humans would react if we were told we could have everlasting life in Heaven for only one million dollars per soul? You can bet there'd be a lot of panic, murder, thievery, embezzlement and other cutthroat activities in our scramble to secure a spot for our everlasting soul and those of our loved ones. What if God required His children to be crucified on the cross, just as His Son was, for the privilege of living with Him for all eternity? How many takers would there be to die in such a gruesome manner to secure your soul's forgiveness and an eternity with our Heavenly Father?

Luckily, none of us have to endure either of those scenarios, because in His divine love for us, God has offered salvation (forgiveness of our sins and an eternity with Him) to all of us for... absolutely nothing. He doesn't want us to equate money or other earthly goods with the Best of the best. He doesn't want us to die in our sins, so he offered His Son to die in our stead. Could you do that? Could you watch your son die so horribly for the sins of others? I don't know about you, but I couldn't. No way. But God did. And I'm sure it hurt Him immeasurably more than it would hurt us to see our sons hanging on that cross, bleeding, scourged, thirsty, broken, mocked. Can you imagine a hurt that great?

So if we admit our sins, recognize Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and ask for forgiveness, He writes our names in the Book of Life! No strings attached. I don't know about you, but that's one book I want my name in! I could reach the top of the bestseller list everyday for the rest of my life and it wouldn't mean one iota as much as having my name among the other saved souls in this world.

Rejoice, for on the third day, He will rise! He has defeated death. He has taken our sin. He has invited us into His family. He has offered us an eternity in His Presence. Are you one of His children?

Until the next time...



Monday, September 15, 2014

It's About Time!

     Okay, readers, take out a clean sheet of paper and a pencil. It's pop quiz time. (Has your stomach sunk to your ankles yet?)

     All right then, can you tell me which of the following is the hardest part of being a writer?


     1.  Coming up with story ideas
     2.  Plotting the book
     3.  Researching the book
     4.  Writing the book
     5.  Editing the book
     6.  Writing and editing the proposal
     7.  All of the above


     Time's up. Pencils down. And the answer is..... ready? None of the above! Yep, the hardest part of being a writer is the waiting. (I know I cheated by not giving you that option, but hey, it's my blog and I get to do what I want.) Back to my thoughts.


     Waiting, as any writer will tell you, is without a doubt the hardest part of our profession, and it doesn't matter if the wait is twenty seconds or two years. Time slows down when you wait. (That's a scientific fact I just made up.) It also speeds up at the most inopportune times, but that's a topic for another day.


     Time crawls like traffic on the Beltway on Monday morning after two semis tangle when you're waiting for your agent to tell you if your proposal and manuscript are ready (and worthy) to send out to prospective publishers. It might be seven seconds since you sent that email to him, but it feels like seven months. He might get back with you in ten minutes, but to you, it might as well be ten years because that's how much you've aged.


     Time flows like frozen yogurt in Antarctica when you're waiting to hear if This Is the One Publishing House wants the full manuscript, or if it made it to this or that committee, or if they think it would make a great series.

     Perhaps worse, though, is that time screeches to a whiplash-inducing halt when you're waiting for the contract to arrive before someone at the publishing house decides they really don't like your plot/characters/ writing style/pacing/humor/hair color/or homemade tomato soup after all and yells "stop the presses" (if anyone ever says that anymore) and the whole thing goes down the drain.
   
     But all that zips by at warp speed compared to waiting for your book to be... published. Yes, when that happens, when we finally have a contract signed, and we know for certain our baby will see the light of day, somehow time is altered so that a day is like a thousand years.


     Sound familiar? I don't think that's what Peter meant when he wrote, "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." (2 Peter 3:8), and he almost certainly wasn't talking about writers. Still, we can take comfort in knowing that even in Biblical times, folks didn't like to wait.


     It's nobody's fault and no one is prolonging the wait just to make us writhe in agony while we wait for that one special email with our edits or cover art. No, they're working just as hard to get our books published as we did to get them written. (And I know this is hard to swallow--I know it is for me--but there are other authors out there whose books deserve the attention of the staff at This Is the One Publishing House just as much as ours do. Yes, that's right. Odd, I know. You mean the publishing world didn't come to a screeching halt when my manuscript arrived? No, Deb, it didn't.)


     For them, however, time flows much more quickly than they desire. There aren't enough hours in the day for the emails, phone calls, meetings, decisions, conferences, reading, and whatever else editors and their staff members do to make our dreams come true. They want to see our book in print with its pretty cover with our name splashed across it and glorious back cover copy smelling all booksy and inky paper-like and those glorious words that we wrote inside those covers just as much as we do. After all, their salaries (and the future of the publishing house) depend on how much that book and hundreds and thousands like them can bring in. They are every bit as invested in our books as we are.


     But as with all good things, they do happen eventually. (Thought I was going to say "come to an end," didn't you?) They happen and we're thrilled and the editor and staff are thrilled and our agent's thrilled and the hard work of marketing gets kicked up yet another notch and we're so darned excited and yes, thrilled, and happy and so are all the others and then... it dawns on us that we need to write another one (which we should've been doing all along in-between checking our email seventeen times an hour). Because there's no reason why we can't writhe in agony and write the next best seller at the same time. It's what we do, folks.


     When you really think about it, no matter how long it seems to take to see our book in print, it takes only as long as God allows. It's all in His timing, His perfect timing. We can writhe and wring our hands and moan and groan and second-guess ourselves and our value as writers and check our email all we want, but if it's not in God's perfect timing that our book be published at that particular day or week or month in time, then it's just... not... time.


     Until the next time...











Thursday, August 7, 2014

A fairy tale come true...

Finding time to be a writer--just a writer, not a mother, daughter, grandmother, friend, neighbor--is tough. That's not news to anyone who writes, or paints, or does any other creative endeavor, because being creative seems to be put on the back burner when it comes to our life's "to do" lists.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to attend a two-week residency at the Golden Apple Art Residency on Ripley's Neck in Harrington, Maine. This glorious place, comprised of nine and a half acres of the piney woods of Maine and bordered on one side by the rocky shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean, is devoted to the advancement of the arts in an environment that encourages and celebrates creativity. Each artist (there were four of us, all women) has his/her own private cottage and individual studio (in the bottom floor of the main house). Our meals were all included. Delicious breakfasts and lunches were delivered to the studio commons area and our evening meals were held in the main house. Together, the four artists and our hosts, Shelley and Greg Stevens, ate luscious, regional fare prepared by Shelley, talked, laughed, and formed bonds for life. 

There was one other writer there, Yvonne Navarro of Arizona, who has 22 published books to her credit! The others were artists were Erin Overmeyer, an art teacher from Michigan, who painted beautiful pictures in acrylic of abandoned schools to showcase the downward spiral of neighborhoods and communities when schools close, and Anne Gochenour, Central Michigan University Art Gallery Director, who did gorgeous work in mixed media.

Part of the beautiful landscaping
at Golden Apple Art Residency
The scenery was gorgeous, the environment natural and inspiring, the food delicious, and the company wonderful. While our lifestyles, spiritual and political views, and backgrounds all differed, we respected the opinions of others. At the end of the two weeks, you'd have thought we'd known one another for years. Besides all the pampering I enjoyed, I worked hard. And I mean hard. Our studios were available to us 24 hours a day, and although I wore out long before I even approached the all-nighter stage, I accomplished everything I set out to do. I took over 1500 pictures, added several thousand words to my WIP (and edited the rest of it), and commuted with God--the three goals I set for myself.

But in addition to all the pampering and beautiful surroundings, I also experienced another advantage to getting away from it all. The encouragement and inspiration other like-minded individuals, artists of one kind or another who value creativity, was a shot in the arm. While I know, logically and through social and professional networking, there are others out there who share my passion to write for God, sometimes I feel alone. Apart. Rudderless.

And now I feel refreshed, part of something greater than myself, and anchored. Doesn't get much better than that! Many thanks to my hosts, Shelley and Greg Stevens of Mt. Pleasant, Michigan (when they're not in Harrington, Maine). If anyone is interested in applying to the residency, you can find out more at www.goldenapplestudio.com/residency. Believe me, you won't be sorry.
The town landing just down the
shoreline from the residency, where the
lobster boats chug out every morning (early, early morning)
and return every afternoon with their fresh catch. 

View from the shoreline just a few steps
away from my cottage...

Monday, June 9, 2014

Blog Relay Day!



Today I'm participating in a blog tour via my friend, Donn Taylor (http://donntaylor.blogspot.com and www.donntaylor.com), via Preslaysa Williams at www.preslaysa.com. I hope the questions below and my answers to them will give you a clearer idea of who I am as a writer, what I'm working on now, and how and why I do it. Here goes:

What am I working on now?

At the moment, I'm working on the first book of what I hope will become a series. I won't reveal much more than that, except that it's darker than my Road's End series and deals with the eternal consequences of sin and how the devil and his demons work day and night to keep us from being the Christians God wants us to be and to keep non-believers from coming to Christ. It's a departure from my other series, but I feel led by God to write this particular book.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Although my work is inspirational and Christian in scope and context, I also use a lot of humor in my stories. I think God gave us a sense of humor to help us deal with one another and with life, as well as to forgive our own foibles. Being able to laugh at ourselves and see the absurdity of our actions (as well as in the actions of others) helps us to realize we are bur mere humans and as such, are going to mess up on occasion. My characters, although larger than life in some instances, will remind readers of a neighbor, friend, relative, classmate, co-worker, or maybe even themselves. Sometimes it's good to just sit back and laugh at the human condition.

That said, the series I'm working on now flies in the face of what I just told you about humor in my writing. Although there is a lighthearted aspect of this series in some parts, it's of such a serious nature, and I believe so strongly in its intended message, that too much humor would water down the eternal consequences of ignoring God (and the devil, for that matter).

Why do I write what I do?

I believe my assignment while I’m on this earth is to use my God-given skills (and every last one of us has our own set of skills) to write novels and hopefully bring others to Him. One of those skills is my sense of humor. Mixing laughter with the Good News of Jesus Christ might bring a reader to salvation who would otherwise turn his or her back on the message an author is trying to get across. It comes naturally to me to write what I do (and to write it the way I do), and fortunately, I love doing it.

How does my writing process work?

Pretty much hit and miss, to be honest. I’d like to say I sit down at 8:00 a.m. and write until I’ve completed 10,000 words, but that would be a big, fat lie. Yes, I’ve been known to write through the night when a deadline looms after I’ve let it creep up on me, always thinking “I’ll tackle it tomorrow,” but that’s rare. I’d also like to say I’m continually energized, inspired, and feeling particularly creative. That, too, would be a lie. What I can say (without lying) is that the more I write, the more energized, inspired, and creative I become. Energy begets energy, being inspired begets more inspiration... you get the picture. It’s a matter of sitting down and hitting the keys no matter how drained or uninspired I feel.

The fact is, writing is the hardest work I’ve ever done. Nothing has messed with my self-esteem more than writing, yet nothing has made me feel closer to God than using the skills He gave me to glorify Him. God has given me the time, ability, equipment, and desire to write, and I can’t ignore those blessings. The fact is, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Until the next time...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

In His Hands

Aside from glorifying God with our work, a Christian writer's greatest dream is to finally hold that hard-earned, slaved-over, finally-published book in his or her hands.

Sadly, one of our fellow authors from Hartline Literary Agency, Dianne Price, never had that chance. She died just one week before Broken Wings, the first book of her World War II series, was published by Ashberry Lane.

I never met Dianne and knew her only briefly through the writer's loop of our mutual agent, Terry W. Burns. But one look at her smiling face told me everything I needed to know. She was joyous, hopeful, and God-fearing. She worked hard to finish her books and longed to hold that first one before she died. But God had other plans and I'm sure His were far better than any that mere humans could conjure up! Dianne (and her book) are now in God's Hands.

The first of Dianne's books is now available for sale. Please take a look at the following links to learn more about Dianne and find out how you and anyone else you know can hold Dianne's book for her. 

http://ashberrylane.com/dianneprice/ 
http://www.ashberrylane.com

Until the next time....

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Two down; one to go!

Another milestone reached! I've now completed and submitted the second book in my Road's End series, titled Faux Pas, to my publisher. Faux Pas continues with the (mis)adventures of Pastor Hugh Foster and his wife, Melanie, and the rest of the residents of Road's End, Virginia, as they battle the worst nature can throw at them and juggle a wedding, an atheist for a future son-in-law, a new grandson, and the arrival of a very important guest.

I love writing about Road's End and can't imagine ever abandoning these folks forever. It's my deepest hope that readers, once these books are published, will feel the same way. I'll let you know when the first one, Misstep, is published!

Now it's on to number three. Wish me luck.

Until the next time...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

It's on!

Things are getting exciting around here. I've received the signed copy of my contract from OakTara and last night, I sent in my edited version of Misstep, along with my author picture and bio, dedication, and acknowledgments. I'm assuming they'll be in touch with lots of edits and changes (which I'll be happy to do!) and then ask for other things like cover ideas, endorsements, etc.

In the meantime, I need to continue with my marketing and promotion (which might be a little easier once I get a cover to use in those communications), as well as finishing up Faux Pas, the second book in The Road's End Series. While I've waited all my life for this opportunity, I'm afraid I feel like that poor, overused deer in the headlights. Where do I turn? What do I do first? Can I multitask to be more efficient, or are multitask and efficient an oxymoron? Do I schedule my time and stick to it or should I do things as they feel right or when I'm in the mood to do them?

This is as much a time for learning as it is a time for joy. I'm in unfamiliar territory, but thankfully I have the good team at OakTara, my agent, Terry Burns, my Burns siblings, and our Heavenly Father to guide me through this season of joy and confusion.

Until the next time...