What’s Stopping You????

I am sitting at my small desk, quite a departure from my previous “office” of my last house. I now live on the second floor of a three story condo. Two bedrooms, two and a half baths. Small in comparison to the four bedroom, two car garage home I left behind. This past year, life has changed once more and it gave me an excuse to put down my pen for awhile. Too busy with the move and the changes that have come hurling at me as fast as a wayward hockey puck. have two big windows in front of me that face the road to the community garage. Cars come and go quite routinely. Being hyper-sensitive to distractions, my head bobs as though on a spring every time a car drives by or a neighbor decides to go for a stroll.

Before, in my large office, my windows faced a sprawling, peaceful field of gold. Rarely did I notice anything more than a fleeting butterfly or bird. Now, I have two big windows in front of me that face the road to the community garage. Cars come and go quite routinely. Being hyper-sensitive to distractions, my head bobs as though on a tightly coiled spring every time a car drives by or a neighbor decides to go for a stroll. To say I am distracted would be an understatement. Another excuse.

I close my eyes and say a little prayer for the wisdom and guidance I need to push myself   into the world I love. Suddenly, the words and thoughts start to flow! My fingers rattle over my keyboard and my words begin to come to life!

So it goes as a writer. One moment we are empty and giving ourselves a thousand reasons why we “can’t” write today. Then the next moment our minds are so full of stories, characters, and endings that we cannot be dragged from our desk for hours.

It is then I realize that the biggest enemy to my writing is ME! I am the one making excuses! I am the one putting my work out there! I am the one scared of rejection!

And so I pull down the shades on my windows and plod on. How about

How about you? What’s stopping you?

 

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One Good Thing…

It has been awhile since I have posted. Life got away with me. A move. Health. Time. Family. Growth. Lack of commitment to writing. Lots of excuses. But, I’m back! Fully refreshed and ready to rededicate myself to the craft I love.

For all of the excuses I gave myself, I found I received a benefit that was unexpected. As a writer, I vacillate between writing what I feel I should be writing and writing what others around me expect me to write. My inner voice is silenced by the roar of outside expectations. It squashed my ability to see what I needed to write, so I just sort of stopped writing altogether.

Today, because of my “time off” I sat at my desk and pounded out a story, something lost to me over the past several months. Thanks to the people who gently nudged and encouraged me to “just write.”

I am happy I have found my way to paper again and know that whatever direction I head from here in my writing, it will be where I need to be. The lesson of stepping back for a short time is the one good thing I needed!

 

 

A Gift of Time…A Residency

I did something out of the ordinary for me today. I stretched myself. I just completed my first suspense manuscript about stolen Syrian art, a new genre for me. Although typing THE END is, for any writer, exciting, but we also understand that once the work is “completed,” doesn’t mean we don’t have more to do.

We read. We revise. We edit. We send the manuscript to beta readers or other writers to tear it apart, so that we can put it back together again. We usually don’t include close friends or family members as readers, because they love us and would never want to hurt our feelings. Then, when we have the work back in our hands, we go back it again to be sure it is the best it can be before we “shop” it around to editors and publishers. This all takes uninterrupted time, time that we usually cannot find in the midst of our busy lives.

So, because of Hope Clark’s wonderful website, Funds for Writers, I decided, on a whim, to apply for a residency. Now don’t get all excited, as I just completed the application. If you do not understand what a residency is, here is a quick run-down.

Residencies are available all over the world. Most include a free or low-cost place to stay. Some have all meals paid for in addition to a studio. Some include transportation. Very competitive residencies may offer a stipend.

Timing is year-round, though most residencies have set times with set dates of submission. Residencies can be from a few days to a year or more. Many are four to six weeks of interrupted time. Most are for single people and families are left behind. As a writer’s life is lonely, that kind of solitude is exactly what is necessary when completing a project.

Days at the residencies are self-directed. Usually there is a group of various artists, including painters, sculptors, dancers, musicians, as well as writers. Most groups are small, from four to twelve people, each usually having a separate space in which to live and work. What is great about residencies is that the artist gets to work in uninterrupted space and engage with others only as they need a break. Everyone is there to focus on their work. It is challenging and expectations of each artists is high. Competition is also fierce, and filled with necessary documentation that takes days and days to get just right.

But today, I threw it all to the wind and pressed the “submit” button for my first attempt at winning a residency. My expectations are high because I am committed to writing and the difficult learning process I know I must go through to make my writing better. I am lucky to have the support to even think about this, as it was not always so.

I will never win if I never try. You might want to think about that, too!

Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but never thought you’d ever have the time, the money or support to do it? It doesn’t have to be writing. Maybe it is helping someone else fulfill there dream. Maybe it is giving to a cause that supports something you love. Maybe it is as simple as stopping to make a phone call to an old friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile.

Whatever your dream might be, is now your time to try?

 

 

 

Theft in the Middle East

Back in 2013, the National Museum of Jakarta, Indonesia, reported the theft of some ancient treasures just weeks after beefing up the museum’s security.

Knowing that art is a link between present and past, I was amazed at how little some countries ignore it’s value. For instance, in this situation and according to the Jakarta Post newspaper, this was the third such a loss for the museum with the other two thefts found to have involved employees. All four of the items were enshrined in the same glass case. After the theft, it was found that the security system had not been working at the time of the theft.

Listed below are the items as reported by the news outlet.

1. Item: Crouching dragon-shaped golden plaque
Characteristics: Found in the ruins of Jalatunda royal kingdom bath at Mojokerto, East Java, in 10 B.C. The dragon is still in good condition with a clear shape to its mouth, teeth and tongue.

2. Item: Scripted crescent-shaped golden plaque
Characteristics: Found in the ruins of Jalatunda royal kingdom bath at Mojokerto, East Java, in 10 B.C. The crescent has triangles on the tip of both sides, which look like claws.

3. Item: Small round golden box
Characteristics: Found in the ruins of Jalatunda royal kingdom bath at Mojokerto, East Java, in 10 B.C. The box is small with an uneven surface and is made of a thin gold piece.

4. Item: Harihara golden plaque
Characteristics: Found in Penanggungan temple at Mojokerto, East Java, in 10 B.C. The plaque has a Harihara god relief and a blossoming flower decoration.

More than likely these pieces were immediately sold off to private collectors through the black market. It is just as likely that either an employee or the government had something to do with the loss of the precious works. How sad that this continues to happen as it robs all people of our world’s rich treasures.

Might make a good story, don’t you think?

For Valentine’s Day, show a writer “a little love!”

Valentine’s Day is rapidly descending upon us. A plague of sorts brought on by greed. Millions of crazy-eyed men will rush, last minute, into florists, jewelers and grocery stores to pick up some costly trinket, fattening treats, expensive flowers and balloons to appease their starry-eyed wives and girlfriends. The women will expect a fancy dinner and a card that should aptly express the undying love of their partner in words only Shakespeare could possibly write. No matter what the man comes up with, the lovey-dovey moment will probably last a nano-second, replaced  by a snarky remark as quickly as the flowers fade.

Sound a little caddy?  It’s not. It’s the reality of a writer’s life, only you replace the man with the writer and the woman with everyone else.

As writer’s, we often are crazy-eyed, rushing to and fro, trying to please everyone with our work. We edit things out, add things in, and move things around as we work to please the reader. Just when we think we have given our best, BAM, someone gives more advice and makes us realize how much more work must be done. It is a never ending battle. Poor writer’s. They need a little love!

So…..I thought of a great idea! This Valentine’s Day, why not take a moment to write a review for your favorite author or artist. They work their tails off to give you enjoyable reads that entertain, encourage and motivate their readers.  It’s time to show them you appreciate it! What a great way to show an author you love them! It won’t cost you a dime and takes just a little bit of effort! Think about that as you are rustling up a last minute present for your sweetie!

And as a reward, just for today, you can download The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance FOR FREE!!!!

Now, get out there and show a writer “a little love,” won’t you?

 

 

REJECTIONS

Sometimes as writers, we expect that everyone will like everything we write. We have such a strong desire to be published that we are angered when the plain white post card with a stamped, “We can’t use your work at this time. Thank you.” drops into our mailbox, (email or post), and announces that yes, you are a crappy writer and this rejection note proves it.

Then we might pout, or call a fellow writer to try and suck some sympathy from them. We just know that there is a cad on the other end of that rejection letter, some jerk who probably didn’t even read the wonderful piece of prose we wrote!

But what I’ve found, already, in my short career is that as a writer, we must listen, absord and understand what the rejection letter really means. It’s not a personal attack. It is a rejection of the work. Maybe it was not aptly suited for the place to which it was sent. Maybe it was not written in a format that best displays the work. Maybe it’s been done. Maybe the poor publisher is so overwhelmed that they just can’t read one more work!

I had such was a rejection just a couple of weeks ago. At first, my disappointment was palpable. I say that, because I was alone and I swear I could feel the blood thumping through my veins as I read it. I was hurt, as a rejection of any writer’s work cuts to the bone, (even though we won’t admit it). Then I read the rejection again. I was the lucky writer who had an editor tell me what they didn’t like about my story. They gave me helpful insights of what was expected for their publication. They were brutally honest! But they gave me something more. They gave me a second chance to write it!

Guess what? I did. I rewote the article. I received a reply that it was accepted! So, I guess the moral to this story is, save all the rejection postcards as you’ll need them to remind you that as a writer, you will be disappointed. Not everyone will like everything you write, but write anyway, or maybe it’s better said, rewrite anyway!

Have a good week!Family Buttons

American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference

What a joy to be a part of the ACFW family! The conference here in St. Louis is filled with aspiring writers and encouraging editors, agents and publishers all here to glorify God! I’m finding myself encouraging others more than anything else, which makes for a great time! Happening at the same time is the Joyce Meyers Convention, so the entire downtown area is filled with people who love the Lord! I even had the chance to give one of her staff a copy of Run, River Currents, as Joyce ministers about her abusive life.

From the moment I arrived it was as though God had a plan for everything. I have been a part of a giving attitude in every restaurant, every store and every coffee shop within a 10 block radius. I hear workers saying to each other that they have never been treated so kindly, tipped so graciously or listened to so intently as these few days. My own maid cried when I handed her a few extra dollars and a book of faith I picked up here. I hadn’t seen her need until then. I was just reacting to the gratefulness I was feeling.

Writers do make a difference, but more than that, people of faith make a difference when we allow God to shine through our actions. I know I am learning techniques and craft here, but the real lessons are coming from the heart.

Go on out today and be a blessing to someone in any little way you can. You never know where God will take your kindness.

P.S. Don’t forget you have until October 12 to sign up for my Goodreads Giveaway of The Button Legacy: Emily’s Inheritance! A “button” bracelet will be included for one lucky winner!