Thursday, October 16, 2014

Choose hope. Don't wear your grief on your sleeve . . .

It was a rare gray afternoon in Denver. The sky was moody, clouds pressing down, rain soaking the world. I sat at a traffic light, wipers moaning across the windshield when I looked ahead and to the right. 


Why would someone put a license plate like that on their car? 

Had their heart been so wounded by loss that they were compelled to shout it to the world?

Had they given up on hope? Claimed a new identity?

I've grieved mightily in my life—for relationships that fractured and for well-loved people that slipped into eternity much too soon for my liking. 

But I never quit moving forward. I never quit believing life would again be joyful. Honestly, at times I had to force myself to believe. I had to remind myself that I was, indeed, a prisoner of hope. I trusted that the good and the sad in my life was a condition of being human, and that God would redeem the pain and sorrow. 

To overcome my grief at failed relationships, I had to learn the practice of forgiveness. To overcome my grief at the loss of life, I had to accept that pain would be a part of my life for a season. After all, grief is hard work. But I believed grief would not last forever.

And in the end, I passed through that veil of grief. In the end, there's always hope. Always. For me, because of Whom I place my hope in. 

Friends, don't lose heart. Don't allow circumstances to ensnare you with grief. Don't cling to sting of the loss of a loved one. Don't give up hope. 

When I was trudging through some of the darkest days of my life, I chose to give myself a new label. I chose to become a prisoner of hope. I believe that choice helped to propel me forward. It caused me to think of myself in a new way. 

I hope "the griever" has a legitimate reason for that license plate. I hope whoever it is doesn't stay locked in that place, claiming that label.

Choose hope. Choose life. Choose to keep pressing forward.   

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Book Recommendations with a dose of encouragement

I've been a bit remiss lately in sharing some titles that I've loved. 

Today I want to tell you about two non-fiction books that have moved me. Yes, occasionally I read books other than novels. I don't read much non-fiction books, so when I pick one up, finish it, and recommend it, you know it's good. 

Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World by Lucille Zimmerman has the distinction of being the only book that I've ever bought multiple (lots!) copies of and handed out to women in my life.  

This book is a wake-up call to women to remind them to carve out space for themselves. Renewed encourages you to care for yourself. It's a how-to on how to live happily amid the stresses of everyday life. READ IT. It's like a spring breeze after a frosty winter. It will wake you up and help you to appreciate the little things in life that contribute to your peace and satisfaction. 

Another book that blessed me is Secrets to a Happy Life by Bill Giovannetti. This book illustrates how God is working in your favor, how to move past negative emotions that ensnare your thoughts, and how to choose to be happy. Secrets to a Happy Life uses examples from the life of the OT Joseph, and boy did he have some difficult circumstances to live through. 

I found the stories told and lessons explained in this book to be so relatable. Bill's writing made me stop, think, and pray about thoughts concerning past events that floated on the periphery of my consciousness, often dragging me down when I least expected it. 

Over a decade ago, I endured a huge ache in my life that I'm still recovering from. Reading this book was another piece in the puzzle to refining my response to that life-changing event. 

The chapters are divided into 11 secrets to happiness--all issues that impact everyone. The secrets contain beautiful, profound, and affirming words. We aren't promised a perfect life, but this book shows us that we can choose a happy life. 

Both of these books are keepers. They'll live on my bookshelf for those days when I need a bit of wisdom to pick me up and keep me going.  

Thursday, October 09, 2014

13 Pieces Advice From Famous Authors photo
Writers and would-be writers are always looking for wisdom from those who’ve gone before us.

I’ve assembled some thoughtful comments and put them in a Q&A format for you to enjoy.

Question: When is the best time to begin a writing career?
Answer: "Today is your day, your mountain is waiting, so get on your way." ~Dr. Seuss

Question: From where does our writing ability come? Is it inborn? Learned?
Answer: As Mother Teresa said, "We are all pencils in the hand of God."

Question: Is it difficult to learn the craft of writing?
Answer: "Yes, it's hard to write, but it's harder not to."
~Carl Van Doren

And here's more advice on writing from other authors:
"Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go."
~ E.L. Doctorow

"Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer."
~Barbara Kingsolver

Question: How much time should a writer commit to his/her craft?
Answer: "The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn't behave that way you would never do anything."
~John Irving

And as author Ray Bradbury said, "Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you're doomed."
Another thought to ponder is, "Either marry your work - take it seriously and do it every day - or date it - write only when you feel like it - but know which you are doing and the repercussions of both."

Question: Is writing all about sitting at a computer and pounding out a story?
Answer: Not necessarily so. As Victor Hugo said, “A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is visible labour and there is invisible labour.”

Question: What about word count? Is there any advice on pacing yourself?
Answer: "The faster I write, the better my output. If I'm going slow, I'm in trouble. It means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them."
~Raymond Chandler

Also, "If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I'd type a little faster."
~Isaac Asimov

Question: Must you have all the answers when you sit down to write your story?
Answer: "Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."
~E. L. Doctorow

Question: How do you know you've reached a level of success?
Answer: "Success comes to a writer, as a rule, so gradually that it is always something of a shock to him to look back and realize the heights to which he has climbed."
~P.G. Wodehouse

Question: Is there a secret to becoming a successful author?
Answer: "The secret of becoming a writer is to write, write, and keep on writing."
~Ken MacLeod

And I leave you with a final thought: " May I never grow too old to treasure 'once upon a time.'"

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Publishing Industry News

It's that time again! Hop over to the Novel Rocket blog and check out this month's industry news column (written by yours truly).

There's an added bonus this month, an exclusive interview with Sandie Bricker. Sandie is the Managing Editor of BLING!, the new romance imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Defining Moments

I’ve been thinking about defining moments lately. As an author, they populate my books. As a human being, they have shaped my character and my choices.

I’ve often heard good fiction characterized as real life without the boring parts. That’s very true, and both fiction and real life have defining moments.

 Defining moments can be good as well as bad. The good -- the day you know you've found "the one," or the birth of a child. Some defining moments are obvious, like the death of a parent or when a loved one gets in a car accident. But there are some defining moments that come to you quietly in a crystallized realization while you're simply taking a walk, or else they can seep into your bones when you overhear a conversation not intended for your ears.

The funny thing about defining moments is that they may not be honest interpretations. What if someone perceives a situation differently than it is? What if a misunderstanding causes someone to have a defining moment? It’s easy to see that happening in a child’s life: I didn’t pick up my room, so mommy and daddy are divorcing. That kind of thing.

A friend told me of a defining moment that occurred at the birth of her first child: “Oh, my goodness. I can’t die for at least 20 years.” The realization that flooded her brain shocked her, but then she knew it was because her dad died while she was a very young woman.

Margaret, my character in my current wip (work in progress), is slowly experiencing some defining moments that will eventually shape the rest of her life. I’m having fun playing with the way she comes to discover herself. After all, fiction is real life without the boring parts.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Is there psychology involved in buying books? photo
I bought some peaches the other day. Not headline-making news, but consider this, I knew that I had peaches at home in my fridge. 

The reason for my impulse purchase was because the clerk at the store stopped me to tell me how delicious the peaches were. She said that she really looks forward to eating one when they’re this fresh and ripe. She made those peaches sound like the most delicious fruit on earth. I bought them because she hand sold them to me.

Having someone talk up a product adds perceived value to that product. Seeing the clerk’s eyes light up while she talked about the sweet, juicy fruit made me want to experience the same pleasure.

If you’re wondering, yes—this is writing related. Anyone who is concerned that the book market is down can do something about it. You can talk up some great titles that you loved to your friends and family. We can all influence the purchase of books by influencing those in our circle to purchase good books (or even borrow them from the library).

Often when a new book comes out the author and publisher will find influencers to talk up the book. Word-of-mouth advertising is a powerful tool. I’ve been an influencer and have had influencers. It’s fun to put a book into someone’s hands and say, “This is a great book. I loved it, and I bet you will too.” I’m not bashful, and when I’m browsing in a bookstore and see someone looking for a book, I’ll strike up a conversation and recommend some books. It’s as easy as selling ripe, juicy peaches.

Oh, and those peaches? D-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Refreshing Your Creativity

Beautiful Castlewood Canyon where I love to hike.
As a creative person, do you ever feel the need to refresh your creativity? I sure do.

Writers can get overwhelmed trying to find a new way to communicate the ordinary and everyday moments that make up life. As Solomon said in the book of Ecclesiastes, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” (verse 1:9)

Aargh! What’s a writer to do?

First, don’t panic. True there is nothing new under the sun, but you can make a concept feel new with your particular way of communicating an idea.

Sometimes it just takes a (brief) break from writing to get your creativity sparking. Here are a few ways to get the creative urge back:
• Read. Often after reading a good book I get the urge to sit down and write. Enjoying the way another author turns a phrase or characterizes the people who populate a fictional world can get you thinking about how you would write a scene or breathe life into a character.
• Listen. Music can evoke a mood or take you to a different world. Sometimes when you listen to music you can hear it from the point of view of one of your characters or you can create a character who would be moved by the composition you’re listening to. 
• See. Taking a field trip to a museum can open your mind to many art forms. I enjoy renting the audio commentary available with some art exhibits. You get information on a new culture or a different period of time. You learn what the artist was experiencing when that piece was created or what the artist was trying to express. 
• Inhale. Take a walk and concentrate on the fragrances you encounter. Whether it’s a city street or a prairie trail the scent of your environment can trigger a memory or a wish that set your imagination and creativity in motion. 
• Taste. Go out to eat. Imagine how your character would feel about the restaurant, the food, and the company. Listen to the sounds around you. Design a scene for the reasons some of the other diners are eating there. Let your imagination fly. 
• Be. Sometimes giving yourself permission to sit and relax in a hammock or a chair in a busy shopping mall and just think and observe can unlock creative ideas.

What about you? Do you have any suggestions for unlocking creativity?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Debut novelist Ane Mulligan & Chapel Springs Revival

I'm happy to host my friend Ane Mulligan today. I met Ane several years ago at the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference, and we hit it right off. Chapel Springs Revival is Ane's debut novel. I'll let her tell you about it. 

Ane Mulligan:
I want to introduce you to Claire and Patsy. They're not quite Lucy and Ethel, but they tend to stumble into trouble and catastrophe. Bighearted and loyal friends, these two will lead readers on a romp through miscommunication in marriage.

Years ago, I overheard a gal say she married before learning God had a husband chosen for her, so she was going to divorce hers and find the perfect one. I pulled her aside for a "Titus 2:4" moment, then logged that incident in my mind for further exploration.

A few years later, God reminded me of that conversation. I thought what if a woman in her late forties found her marriage is ho-hum? When she became a Christian, she thought life and her marriage would be included in the new creation part. But her thighs are just as big, her husband just as ornery, and he still won't go to church with her. Toss in a BFF whose husband had grown non-communicative and was never home, and I had the foundation for a story.

I ran with it.

From God's nudge and that first "what-if," Claire Bennett, Patsy Kowalski, and the small village of Chapel Springs were born.

Claire is tired of being nothing more than a sheet-changer, a towel-folder, a pancake-flipper. She resolves to emulate her Great Aunt Lola, who refused to be slighted by any man. Why, the first morning Aunt Lola's husband forgot to kiss her goodbye, she packed her bags, went off to Hollywood, and became a big star in silent films. Would Claire really do what Great Aunt Lola did?

When Patsy's nest became empty, she thought her husband would retire and they could finally do some travelling, but he hasn't mentioned slowing down. In fact, he's not talking much at all. When he starts coming home well after she's in bed, she becomes convinced he's having an affair. With Claire's help, Patsy's determined to catch him with the trollop who's trying to break up their once happy home.

As I worked on the plotting and backstory for Claire and Patsy, I saw the same things I'd heard the young women say at church: Patsy focusing on what her husband did wrong, and Claire is trying to find Mr. God-Ordained-Right.

Now, Claire has a tendency to be judgmental. She blurts out exactly what she thinks. She also moves before she thinks, which leads to a number of catastrophes. Patsy tries to hide her troubles; pretend they don't exist and they'll go away. Only it never works.

While Claire is eyeballing and discarding every man she sees, she and Patsy are determined to revive their marriages. At the same time, Chapel Springs could do with some reviving. The town has grown shabby and the tourist trade has declined. Complicating matters are a pair of curmudgeons, the mayor and his cohort, who would prefer to see the town stuck in the fifties and closed to outsiders.

I had so much fun with these characters. Claire is funny, a loyal friend, and someone I love spending time with. Besides, every time she turns around, she's in some kind of trouble. It's a blast just following her. And everyone needs a friend like Patsy, someone who has your back.

I’ve completed the sequel called Chapel Springs Survival. Can Claire and Patsy, and the town, survive their revival? That story grew out of something our son did. While it turned out to be wonderful in his life, the manner in which he revealed it called for Mama's retaliation. It went into a book (insert evil laughter).

It's my hope that through humor, readers will see God's hand in their choice of a husband. God is a faithful keeper of little girls' dreams for a knight in shining armor.

Chapel Springs Revival

With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.

Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy. It's impossible not to, what with Claire's zany antics and Patsy's self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds. Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is their marriages.

With their personal lives in as much disarray as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs —and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in the fifties and closed to traffic.


While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, Ane has worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that's a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for her Southern-fried fiction (try saying that three times fast). She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. President of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, Ane resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband, her chef son, and two dogs of Biblical proportion.

You can find Ane on her Southern-friedFiction website, Google+, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Publishing Industry News

It's time to hop over to the Novel Rocket blog to check out this month's industry news column (written by yours truly).

There's a lot going on, check it out!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Grace and Second Chances, part two

*Continued from 6/ 24

Second chances. There comes a time when we all need one. After all, who’s perfect?

Lately I’ve been thinking about second chances in regards to many things—relationships, dreams, challenges. Too often we just give up. We don’t extend grace to others or to ourselves. Earlier in the week, I posted about a disastrous lunch I had with a new friend. Go here to read about it.

A few years ago, I experienced another similar lunch. The only difference was that I was the awkward one. I was “going through something,” and truly wasn’t myself. When I got into my car after lunch, I wept. I realized that in my state of mind—I was deeply hurt and upset by a situation that had nothing to do with my lunch date—I was uncomfortable meeting someone new.

Unfortunately to mask that, I was chatty. Too chatty. Ridiculously chatty. When the lunch was over I realized I hardly had gotten to know her. That regret still weighs my heart. I reached out with an email apology and followed that a while later with a FB message, but she never addressed the lunch or apology.

We’re still FB friends, and we occasionally interact and see one another socially, but I grieve the loss of what could have been a pleasant friendship. 

The pain I feel is because grace was not extended to me. Ouch. 

Grace is extending favor, good will, kindness, love—a second chance. 

But sometimes second chances can be about your personal goals and dreams. Have you abandoned a dream? 

I'm a writer, yet I haven't published since 2008. Yeah. Since then I've written two more novels. But they just weren't ready to go out into the world. I worried. I fretted. I rewrote. I more or less quit writing. 

I thought I'd be okay with that, but ultimately it saddened me to think my author days were over. So I decided to focus on one of those books, and I rewrote it. Again. 

I extended grace—a second chance, to myself and my writing. Nothing may come of it other than the satisfaction of knowing I'm not a quitter. 

So last week I started writing (REwriting) my novel again. For the sixth time. And you know what? I've slashed pages and cut characters, and I think it's better than ever.

I still don't know what the outcome (publication) will be, but I was kind to my dreams and, as always, I placed them in the Lord's care. What will be, will be.

So when it comes to grace, please err on the side of kindness—to other and also to yourself.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Grace and Second Chances, part one

Second chances are like a fork in the road. They can lead us in a wonderful new direction. 
Second chances. There comes a time when we all need one. After all, who’s perfect?

Lately I’ve been thinking about second chances in regards to many things—relationships, dreams, challenges. 

Too often we just give up. We don’t extend grace to others or to ourselves.

Many years ago I hosted a play date for my son with a boy from his preschool class. The mom came also and brought her two younger children who were the same age as my younger kids. When we’d rub shoulders picking up our kids from school, she seemed lovely. I anticipated a nice lunch and a pleasant afternoon.

My expectations were not met.

The afternoon was a disaster. Try as I did, I couldn’t engage that lady in any kind of pleasant conversation. She seemed self absorbed and shallow. The kids had a dandy time, but the few hours she sat in my living room felt like an eternity. 

About two months later she started asking me to bring my kids to her house for a play date. My first thought was that she must be nuts. We had nothing in common. She had NO desire to find out anything about my interests, or me, yet she claimed she was looking for friends for her kids and herself. I was able to make excuses a few times, but then her continual invitations became awkward. What she wanted was a second chance. So, reluctantly, I accepted.

I try to err on the side of kindness, but I expected the afternoon to be a disaster, a repeat of our first get together.

I was wrong.

I had a wonderful time! She was fun and engaging. The afternoon flew by. I would have never had such an enjoyable luncheon if I had not given her a second chance. I would have never known the truth about our first meeting if I had not extended grace towards her.

Turns out, the first play date occurred on the day her husband left the family. She didn’t want to disappoint her children who were looking forward to the fun. Her husband decided he no longer wanted to be married, and told her that when she was half-way through her third pregnancy. He stayed eight weeks after the baby was born to give her time to regain her strength. In hindsight, I see that she was as gracious as could be, under those circumstances.

That happened nearly 30 years ago, and I think about it often. I’m grateful I was moved to give her a second chance. Sometimes people aren’t as they first seem.

A few years ago, I experienced another similar lunch. The only difference was that I was the awkward one. . . 

*To be continued 6/26.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

I entered a one-sheet contest

A one sheet is a marketing document that communicate the heart of your story. Here's my entry.

And as for the story, I'm writing it. Again. For the 5th time. But that's okay. I want to produce the best story I can, and each rewrite is getting me closer to that goal.

And that, my friends, is what you call perseverance.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

Divine Humanity!

For as long as I can remember, my mother put this reproduction antique post card on the table next to our nativity set each Christmas season. The nativity set was passed on to me several years ago. In the box was the post card with a sentiment written by Phillips Brooks, a man known as the greatest American preacher of the 19th century and author of the Christmas hymn, O Little Town of Bethlehem.

Each year when I read the post card, a thrill of joy bubbles up from my heart. At this beautiful time of year, I wish you a similar thrill of joy. . .

     “Lift up your eyes to the great meaning of the day, and dare to think of your humanity as something so divinely precious that it is worthy of being made an offering to God.
     Count it as a privilege to make that offering as complete as possible, keeping nothing back; and then go out to the pleasures and duties of your life, having been truly born anew into His divinity, as he was born into our humanity on Christmas Day.”

Since I was a very young woman, I have given myself, heart and soul, to my Lord. I offer each of my days to Him. And in a most humble way, I think of my writing as something so divinely precious that it is worthy of being made an offering to God as well.

Have a blessed Christmas!

*This is my annual Christmas re-post. I love it so much I trot it out every holiday season.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you're surrounded by loved ones today, bless you. If you're lonely and without those dear to you today, bless you.

May your heart be full of goodness, joy, compassion, and generosity. May God bless you with riches that can't be stored in a bank, and may your prayers be answered in delightful ways.

The illustration is part of a trade card collection from the Rensselaer County Historical Society.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A good read! --> Cecelia Jackson's Last Chance

*Interested in winning a copy of Cecilia Jackson’s Last Chance? Leave a comment about friendship, and we'll draw a winner.

 I'm delighted to host my friend Robbie Iobst today. I met Robbie about six or seven years ago when she joined one of the local writers groups I was involved with. That's a photo of Robbie at her book launch party a few weeks ago. It was a thrill to celebrate with her. I also had the pleasure of reading this novel and the honor of endorsing it:

I laughed, I cried. Cecilia Jackson’s Last Chance is a new take on the traditional buddy story—in this case, the three “inseparable” friends haven’t been in touch for 20 years. Laced with southern flavor, Iobst’s debut novel takes you on a journey punctuated with grief, grudges, and a dose of hope. I fell in love with the characters, their world, and the themes of forgiveness. Beautifully crafted, this is a novel not to be missed!

Here's what the story's about:
Can tuna fish sandwiches bring reconciliation and redemption?

Cecilia Jackson thought so and made it her final wish to have three women come home to Boots, Texas and make her top-secret, award-winning, sought-after tuna fish recipe for her funeral fixins.

Belinda Kite, Donna Dougans and Maggie Shanks haven’t been back to Boots since the incident that destroyed their friendship twenty-five years ago. Belinda is running from the law, Donna is desperate to find love, and Maggie holds a secret that could take her life.

Amidst tensions from the past, they begrudgingly make the sandwiches, and find themselves fighting not only each other, but the people around them.

Imogene and Lola Bee, cohorts of Cecilia, are frantic to get their hands on that recipe and not let citified young’uns high tail it out of Boots with the town’s coveted covert document.

Will the recipe bring reconciliation and redemption or all-out war to the West Texas desert?

Robbie, what would you like to tell readers about Cecelia Jackson's Last Chance?
RI: Cecelia Jackson’s Last Chance is a story about three broken women who head to their hometown of Boots, Texas for Cecelia’s funeral. After an incident on their high school graduation night destroyed their friendship, they reluctantly reunite after 25 years.

I want this novel to tell women that it is never too late to reconnect with Jesus or old friends. Redemption is always available and sometimes God uses the surprising situations and people to love us and bring us back to Him.

What’s your favorite turn of phrase or word picture, in literature or movie?
RI:Without a doubt, I love it when Mr. Darcy says to Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, “You have bewitched me body and soul and I love you.”
I’d pay money for my husband to say that spontaneously. It will never happen. 

What makes you feel alive?
RI: I love speaking in front of a group of people. It’s in my blood and bones and God nudged me to become a speaker when I was a little girl.

What's your greatest roadblock in writing, and how did you overcome it?
RI: Comparison. I often get in my own way in writing because I feel my writing will not be as good as “So and So.” I have to pray and allow God to give me the courage to just be myself and let His Spirit flow through me when I write. So many times I don’t and I write very little on a day when I thought I would right quite a bit. I think the way I am overcoming it is to pray and remember I cannot be anyone but me, so I need to be the best me I can be. Period. Most days it works.

How can readers find your book on the Internet?
RI: Cecilia Jackson’s Last Chance is available on Amazon

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Does MSNBC & Comcast have a war on women or a war on decency?

I'm not a confrontational person. I don't force my opinions and beliefs on others.

I'm a polite, middle-aged lady who lets other people participate in public disagreements. Truly.

The last time I felt compelled to stand up and make my voice heard was about in 1990 when my school district was forcing a propaganda program on early elementary students. My point was that if there was extra time in the school day, let's teach more math or science, and stay out of personal family decisions. I started by discussing my concerns with the volunteers who presented the program. Then I went to the teacher. Then I went to the principal. Then I ended up presenting to the school board. They changed the  district-wide program to eliminate the inappropriate content.

But that was then, and this is now. For nearly seven years I've been distressed by the so-called war on women that has been manufactured by politicians and talking heads. The recent "war on women" was nothing more than a distraction from real issues.

I'm old enough to remember the actual war on women in the 60s and 70s, so when all that talk was thrown around for the past six years or so, I was annoyed. I wanted to stand up and scream, "Wake up, little sisters! The war on women was fought decades ago, and we won!" The issues of free birth control, etc. that were a part of the so-called war on women were manufactured to elicit a knee-jerk response. Imposing upon others the obligation for buying your birth control is handing over your own welfare and responsibilities to bureaucrats. Any mature, intelligent woman can see that's a disastrous road to start down.

But now I'm wondering if there truly is a war on women--that perhaps it's acceptable to say any vile or disgusting things about women you disagree with. Or perhaps it's simply a war on decency.

What's pushed me to speak out are the disgusting comments made by an MSNBC personality. And I am outraged that MSNBC and their owner Comcast support this type of discourse. I'm referring to the repulsive comments made by Martin Bashir toward Sarah Palin. I can't bring myself to describe what was said. It's too disgusting. If you curious, google it.

I'm not one to publicly get involved in political conversations, and my concern is outside of that realm. My concern is that a "professional" would use such reprehensible language in a public setting without incurring disciplinary action. The entire team that was complicit in preparing that broadcast should be disciplined as well.

Where are the people standing up for decency in public discourse? I know folks on both sides of the issues can stoop to vile name calling, but I'VE HAD IT!!

Isn't it time to say, "ENOUGH!"

Can't we reign in our language to reflect a certain level of civility? For the love of all that's decent, please join me in no longer remaining silent as our culture slides into the garbage pit of indecency.

*If any disrespectful or potty-mouth comments are made to this post, they will be deleted. Don't waste your time if you can't speak respectfully, please.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Stirred, not shaken . . .

I'm stirred by beautiful words and beautiful images and beautiful dreams.

I've been thinking about the dream I was having as I awoke the other morning. I was walking down a wide hallway on an upper floor. To my right was a turned staircase, leading down. As I walked down the hallway, beautiful sculptures of flowers bloomed on the walls. It was incredible. The walls were ordinary and flat, then as I passed, art burst from them in gorgeous 3D colors and metallic tones.

While I was eating my lunch it struck me that the colors and tones of the sculptures in my dream were like the art that hangs on a parking garage I drive past when I'm heading north. It's at the Lincoln Station Light Rail. Have you seen it? It's called Sun Stream. Check it out here.

Back to my dream. Before I walked down that hallway I encountered an unpleasant person who was trying to bully me. But I refused to be moved by that brute, left the room we were in, and found my way to that magical hallway.

And of course, me being me, that scene may very well end up in a novel one day.

The photo is of one of my favorite spots. Another spot that moves me as I write or read or spend time with loved ones. My lavender Adirondack chair sits beneath my aspen trees among the hollyhocks. It's early autumn, and my poor flowers are too tired to stand on their own. This will soon be a precious memory as snow is in our forecast for the first time this week.

Be blessed, and sweet dreams, friends!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Industry News

Sorry I've been AWOL from my blog the past few weeks. Life's been happening, and I've been participating.

I'm fortunate to be a contributor to the Novel Rocket blog where all things literary are discussed, and the contributors I rub shoulders with are all an inspiration to me. I write the monthly column on industry news. I hope you hop over there and take a look.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

The Disappearing Key by Wendy Paine Miller

I met Wendy about a year ago. The first thing I noticed about her was her warm smile, and then she hugged me. Wendy's a hugger. I was thrilled to hear about her new release, The Disappearing Key. The premise captivated me. 

I'm delighted she stopped by my blog for a visit. Here's some info about The Disappearing Key:

Gabrielle Bivane never expected parenting a teenager would be this hard, but she never expected stillborn Oriana to live to see fourteen, either. The night of Oriana's birth, Gabrielle and her husband Roy fused their genetic and engineering geniuses to bring back all that was lost to them—at a cost.

The secret must be kept.

Oriana Bivane senses she’s not like the other girls her age, but the time has come for her to change all that. She’s tired of secrets, but does she confide in the wrong person?

The life-giving key, suddenly missing, must be found.

Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
This is the organic aspect of writing that has a tendency to surprise me most.  I’ve gone back and read some of my novels entirely amused when I recognize myself in the characters. I’ve found empathy to be one of my best resources as a writer. Culling experiences from my own life, I adapt them to my characters and their circumstances.
However, this is also one of the most mysterious aspects of writing. Because it occurs on such a subconscious level. And because as much as I’m constantly pouring myself into my characters, they act on their own volition and have minds of their own.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Love this question. I am so not Mrs. Jones. It’s tempting to think I should be doing what so many moms in my community are doing, enrolling my kids in dozens of activities and well, running myself ragged in the process. But I just don’t play that. I’ve learned to protect the things I care about most in life and one of those things is my time.
So how do I keep my sanity? I’m intentional about carving out time to take care of myself. I paint and refurbish furniture. I run. I read far more often than I clean. I get together with friends. And I love being a member of several local book clubs.

What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
I remember receiving excellent advice regarding marriage. My friend said, “Whenever things get tough and you are at odds with your spouse, maybe you’re even struggling to love him, work hard to remember why you married him.”
This same advice translates to writing. The publishing industry sometimes feels like the wild west. When things get discouraging or disheartening, it’s essential to revisit why you fell in love with writing in the first place. Because if you love the writing and focus on the writing, all else won’t matter all the much.

What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
I hope it leads to a lot of great conversations. If you’re wondering what to choose for your book club pick this year, please consider THE DISAPPEARING KEY.

 How can readers find your book on the Internet?
My novella will be available on Kindle and Nook to start. Plans are in the works for other reading options.

Wendy lives with her husband, their three girls, and a skunk-dodging Samoyed. She feels most alive when she’s laughing, speeding on a boat, reading, writing, refurbishing furniture or taking risks. She’s authored ten novels and is currently writing what she hopes will be your future book club pick.

Her work has been published in numerous anthologies and online sites. Wendy graduated with a BA in English from Wittenberg University, where she earned an Honor of Distinction for her accrued knowledge of literature.

She’s represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Agency.

Visit  or connect with Wendy on Facebook or Twitter @wendypmiller