"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

5/31/09

Upping That Word Count!

I'm getting there!

Can you BELIEVE it's the last day of May already? And for my regular blog readers, you know what that means.

Time for an update on my book progress from May and some info on my goals for June.

For you new folks, I'm working on a non-fiction book, tentatively titled Ailing Body, Nourished Soul, about God's work in our lives through my husband's serious health issues. I finished my rough draft a couple months ago, and have been working on fixing it up ever since (this was a VERY rough draft!).

Anyhow, I thought I'd just post my May goals directly from my last update post, then address how I did on each.

ANYhow - my goals for May are

  1. Soaking in as much information from my Shirley Jump class as humanly possible, and APPLYING IT.
  2. Finish up the verse/question/prayer stuff on my remaining eight chapters
  3. Work on "noveling/"adding descriptions and such to the book, starting from the first chapter and working my way through the book.
Well, as far as #1, I'd have to call myself pretty much a FAILURE. Once I started getting ready for Orlando just a day or two into the month, I stopped reading the stuff in Shirley's class (but I DID save the handouts and much of the instruction posts!). I still have all the stuff I have yet to read, though, so I can still work on this.

#2 I DID accomplish - in fact, I got a fair amount of this done while I was in Orlando. (Didn't work EVERY day when I was there, but most days, at least for a little bit!)

And for my biggest project - the showing throughout the book - I'd say I'm making pretty good progress. I just finished the eighth chapter of my book (out of 34!), and I'm sure I'm beefing it up and making it more engaging and novel-like. I'm guessing that, once I'm through (WHO knows when, of course LOL), I will have added at least 10k to my current 50k+ manuscript. THEN I can go in and chop it back down to size LOL.

So, if that's what I accomplished in May, what are my goals for June, you may ask? Well, I'll tell ya!

For June I will strive to:
  1. Work on my book every day of the month, if only for ten minutes (missed a few days in May - but that's okay!)
  2. Continue to work on beefing up/showing better in my manuscript, working from where I left off and continuing through the chapters in order
  3. Work through at least a few of the Shirley Jump worksheets
Another thing I've done is put up another ticker on my site here(those who have been here a while know I had one for several month regarding the writing of my rough draft) regarding my "beefing up word count." It's too complicated to give you a total word count, with changes in every chapter requiring me to recalculate. What I will do instead, however, is to give you a word count of the chapters I have finished beefing up (so, my ticker to the right shows how many words I have in the first eight chapters after adding my showing, etc.). I will update the count every time I finish a chapter. Hopefully that will get me motivated to plug along (and maybe you too!).

Thanks again for reading along - and for supporting me in my process. If you only knew how much you helped!

Blessings! And keep plugging on!

5/29/09

Friday Fiction: "Reflection"

I'm hosting Friday Fiction this week! :) (AND it's my 15th anniversary! Would marry you ALL over again, dear Marc!)

Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted RIGHT HERE at An Open Book. Make sure you pop down to the bottom of this post and click on "Mr. Linky" to read some of the other wonderful fiction! And don't be afraid to share your own - just link up to your own fiction in the gadget at the bottom!
I wrote this entry for the angry topic at the Faithwriters Writing Challenge. This was a VERY tough write for me. It is based on the truth - a truth I am still embarrassed to admit to. And I still haven't followed through with the "end." BUT I know it is very powerful. Thanks for reading.

Reflection

Janet blinked, trying to clear up the fog from her eyes. Glancing about, she saw absolutely nothing familiar.

The room was completely bare other than a full-length mirror against one wall. She didn't even see a door. She walked toward the mirror and looked, finding not her own reflection, but that of her great-aunt Beatrice, who had died two years previous. Flames surrounded the reflection. Looking into Beatrice's eyes, Janet had never seen her aunt look so enraged or in such agony.

"How could you do this to me, Janet? I thought you loved me. I thought I was your favorite aunt."

Janet lowered her head. "I figured you were too old, too set in your ways. And I thought the news would break your heart."

"No." Beatrice's eyes were afire, like her surroundings in the mirror. "You were being selfish and self-centered. You were afraid of confrontation - so afraid of my being mad at you that you condemned me to this awful place. And now it's too late."

"But, I couldn't have been the only Christian you knew."

Beatrice shook her head. "No, you weren't, but you were the one I loved the most, the one I would have listened to most closely. And you didn't even tell me you were a Christian, much less how I could avoid this place. For four years, you kept it from me."

Janet's expression was pained. She reached out to touch the mirror, but its surface scalded her fingers. She breathed in deeply and stared into the reflection before her.

"Oh, Aunt Bea, I am so sorry. I love you so much, and you have every right to be mad. My selfishness and insecurities have cost you heaven."

"You bet I'm angry. I've got an eternity of suffering ahead of me and you are a big reason for it. How am I supposed to feel?"

Tears cascaded down Janet's face. "I know this is a silly question, but is there anything I can do to make this up to you? I know I can't get you out of hell, but is there anything at all I can do?"

There was a pause, and Bea's tone and volume moderated some. "Actually, there is."

Janet stopped frowning for the first time since the encounter began. A small glimmer of hope peeked into her eyes and the corners of her mouth turned up into an almost smile.

"What is it, Aunt Bea? Anything. Just tell me, and it's done."

Bea's anguished eyes pierced Janet's soul. "Don't be responsible for sending my nieces or nephews, or anyone else I love, to this God-forsaken place. Tell them, before it's too late."

Janet dropped her eyes in shame, and when she glanced up again, the only reflection in the mirror was her own. Her head rang with an incessant beeping noise.

**

Janet reached over and slammed her hand on her alarm clock's snooze button. Rising slowly, she knelt beside her bed and prayed silently, intensity overtaking her countenance.

Janet rose and noted the time. She grabbed the telephone on her nightstand, dialing a number she clearly knew by heart.

"Hi, Uncle Larry. I need to talk to you about something important. Are you free?"

**

Thanks for reading. Be sure to link up below, and read the other contributors. I know it will be a blessing to you!



5/28/09

Monday Manna for June 1


Monday Manna

The purpose of Monday Manna is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word.

For those of you unfamiliar, on the first and third Mondays of each month, anyone who wants to participate can post their thoughts on a specific verse. The verse is posted here at my blog on the Thursday before, to allow you to chew on it over the weekend. It doesn't have to be a long post -- just a few thoughts, a picture you feel helps express it, a poem, a short story, a devotional. Just post it on your blog on Mondayish (early OR late is fine, by the way!), then come back here and link up in the Mr. Linky gadget that will be at the bottom of MY post at o'dark thirty that morning.

This Monday, our verse is from the book of Colossians, and is quite thought-provoking.
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. Colossians 3:2-3
Looking forward to hearing what you have to say. See you back here on Monday!

5/25/09

Lest We Forget

May we remember that today is more than a day for picnics, the "first official weekend of summer," and a day off.



Freedom isn't free.

Thank You, Father, for those who paid the ultimate temporal price for our temporal freedom, and for Your Son, who paid the ultimate eternal price for our eternal freedom.


God bless the USA (for it is the only way we will be blessed!).

5/23/09

More Orlando Pix

Sooo - my dear sister-in-law Chrissi uploaded her Orlando pix so I could get my hot little hands on them, so I figured I'd share some of THOSE with ya too. (And for those of you who wanted pictures of ME -here they are!

First, a couple of "the girls" (Annika and Ava) buddying around.

A bit of goofing off in the pool. (Marc's in the red shirt - and Artie has the red hair!)
Some fun "group/family" shots: 1) me and Ava, 2)Ava, Annika, Andrew 3)Artie and Andrew

More group shots! 1) Andrew, Ava, Annika, me, and Artie 2) Annika and me 3)Marc and Annika

And, last but CERTAINLY not least - two of my very favorites from "Chrissi's bunch." 1)Benjamin having "a moment" (hehe) 2)Me and Ava.

Gonna post these, some from the old set, and maybe a few more, over at facebook too I think.

It really was LOADS of fun!

5/22/09

Friday Fiction: "New"

Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted this week by Rick at Pod Tales and Ponderings. Be sure to stop by his blog for links to some wonderful fiction. And don't be afraid to post your own - just link up in the gadget at the bottom of her post!
I wrote this particular entry during the geography quarter - topic was the USA. This character absolutely, positively captured my imagination - along with the plethora of facts I dug up that didn't even make it into this short piece. One of these days, this will likely be a novel I write. Hope you enjoy it!

NEW

Anticipation wasn't helping her mood in the least. Phillip and Anthony were getting fidgety and restless, and she didn't blame them. The scenery, the accommodations, the company--nothing had changed in over a week. Even the meals, though filling enough, were bland and without embellishment.

"Are we almost there, Annie?" Phillip had asked her that very question at least a dozen times a day since they left Cork on December 20. And, just as she had countless times before, she tousled her youngest brother's red hair and looked into his eyes.

"Closer than we were the last time you asked, you silly boy. God willing, we will see Mama and Papa very soon."

Phillip looked up and smiled, and was quickly engaged by the gentle movement of the expansive Atlantic. So easily distracted, the little scamp.

"He doesn't remember Mama and Papa, does he?" Anthony's eyes looked troubled.

Annie shook her head. "I don't think he does. It's been four years, and he was only three."

Anthony put his hands on his hips. "Well, I remember them."

Annie giggled. "Of course you do. You're eleven years old. It's easier to remember what happened when you were seven or eleven than when you were three."

Anthony bit his lip. "Do you think they still remember us?"

Annie put her brother's chin in her hand. "Now Anthony Moore, whatever would make you ask a question like that? Of course they will remember us! We would still be in Ireland with Aunt and Uncle if they had forgotten us. Don't you remember the letters?"

Anthony smiled and nodded. "Of course you're right, Annie. I just wish we were there now."

"It must be soon. We've been at sea for days. Perhaps in a day or two."

"Oh, Annie! Annie! I just had a wonderful thought." Phillip hadn't spoken with such enthusiasm since he boarded this vessel.

"Do share, Phillip. I would love a wonderful thought." Anthony, along with his sister, sat on the deck beside their younger brother.

"Your birthday is in two days, isn't it? Wouldn't seeing Mama and Papa be a wonderful birthday present?"

Annie pulled her brother into an embrace. "It would, Phillip. And a wonderful start to a new year."

**

Their twelfth night at sea completed, Annie wriggled in her bed. They'd been told they could arrive any day. She sincerely hoped the ship's crew was right.

Something didn't feel quite right. She went through a list in her head, until she realized what was so odd.

The ship wasn't moving.

She rose quietly from her berth with an anticipation she hadn't felt in a week. Glancing through the peephole, she discovered that the boat was, in fact, tethered to a dock. On my birthday. She shook both her brothers gently.

"Huh? What?" Anthony glanced at his sister groggily.

"We're here. In America. Care to go up on deck and see?"

The boys both popped out of bed. Within two minutes, they were bursting out the stateroom door.

The sun was just rising as they appeared on deck. All three stood, mouths open, staring into New York Harbor.

"Annie. Anthony. Look!" Phillip had turned his head slightly.

Before the three of them was an enormous statue of a woman wearing a crown, holding a torch in one hand and a book in the other.

"It's Lady Liberty," Annie muttered. "Remember, Phillip? Mama wrote about her."

The children huddled together admiring the massive monument until they heard a man's gruff voice behind them.

"Get packed up, children. We'll be boarding a transfer boat and going to the new immigration center in an hour or two."

The three scuttled off to their stateroom.

**

"Our last boat ride for a while," Anthony declared.

He and his siblings glanced out the side, staying close to the gangplank of the decorated barge.

"Happy Birthday, Annie." Phillip smiled.

Annie glowed. "The best birthday present I'll ever receive, I'd wager."

Anthony watched as they pulled up to the dock. He grabbed his younger brother's hand and pushed his sister toward the gangplank.

"C'mon."

They made their way off the boat first and approached the clean, huge, nearly empty building.

They trotted toward the registry desk. Annie stepped forward and placed her papers on the counter.

"Congratulations, young lady. You are the very first immigrant to be registered at the Ellis Island Immigration Station." The gentleman shook her hand, and handed her a $10 gold coin. "Welcome to the United States of America."

Over 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island Immigration Station between 1892 and 1954 on their way to the USA. Annie Moore, age 15, of Cork County, Ireland, was the first.

www.ellisisland.org


Thanks for reading! Be sure to stop by Rick's blog for more great fiction!

5/21/09

Orlando and Baby Brothers

I'm at Exemplify today, writing about what Miriam and I (and Moses and my baby brother Artie!) may have in common. It's part of my Ponderings on the Pentateuch series. Please stop by!

Many of you know that my family spent almost a full week in Orlando earlier this month. It was me, my husband, and both kids (Andrew is 8 and Annika 5). We also met my parents there, as well as my baby brother Artie (see - these two topics ARE related!), his wife Chrissi, and their two kids: Ava is 4, and Benjamin 15 months. I hadn't seen my parents in a year and a half (we're in Michigan, they live in Vegas) and hadn't seen Artie and his family in about three years (which, of course, meant I hadn't met little Benjamin). They live in Oregon.

Anyhow - it's about time I posted some of the pictures I took on our trip. (Two of them, actually, have already been posted. My Word-Filled-Wednesday from yesterday was a picture of the two girls, and today's Exemplify post includes a picture of my baby brother, Andrew, and..um...a welcome guest. :)

Anyhow - enjoy!


We spent LOTS of time sitting in the shade. Temps were in the mid-90's the whole time. In this picture are my dad, my mom, and Annika. This was our first day there, at Disney Animal Kingdom.





We went to Epcot the next day. Left to right - Annika and Ava in Bruce the shark's mouth. The second picture is Andrew, Annika, and Ava playing at one of those water things that squirts up. They all (but especially Andrew) got SOAKED!


That night, we attended one of those character dinners at Epcot. All ten of us had a wonderful meal and got to spend time with Disney magic. Chip, Dale, Mickey and Pluto each came to our table at least twice. First picture is Andrew and Annika with Chip (he has the brown nose). Next are the girls (Annika's on the left) with Mickey Mouse. Then there's my baby brother's family: Ava, Aunt Chrissi, and Benjamin. Then, of course, my baby brother Artie, and my son Andrew.


We did Magic Kingdom the next day. Annika rode with Aunt Chrissi on the teacups (she wanted to go slow, unlike most everyone else besides Chrissi LOL). Most all of us went on Dumbo, of course, and we took this little picture to commemorate it (back row - my dad, Uncle Artie. Front row - Ava, Annika)

Probably the highlight of the trip for Annika was getting to meet Disney princesses. She was positively glowing during each visit. I'll let you see for yourself. :D


Magic Kingdom was definitely my (and my kids') favorite day. The girls had a wonderful time, and were THRILLED when Uncle Artie bought them matching hats. Aren't they cute??
The last day, we went to Sea World. I won't bore you with the tons of pictures I took of sea animals, but I will show a few of my exhausted, roasting hot family. (We didn't stay long. I think we were back in our rooms by 2 or so, and in the pool for SEVERAL hours fairly soon after that!) First is my dad and Andrew, and second is Ava and her mom Chrissi.


Thanks for stopping by, and checking out my pictures, and wonderful family. Have a great day - and see ya back here tomorrow for Friday Fiction :) (hopefully! LOL)

5/20/09

Word-Filled Wednesday: Friend

Welcome to Word-Filled Wednesday, hosted THIS week (for the first time!) by Lisa at Extravagant Grace. Be sure to stop by there for more wonderful visual inspiration from scripture.

My daughter Annika made a new friend on our vacation in Orlando. It was her cousin Ava. Ava is a bit more than a year younger than my girl, and they had a MARVELOUS time together. They don't remember the last time they met (Ava was just a few months old), and we really don't know when they'll see each other again (She lives in Oregon, and we're in Michigan), but they really bonded, and were a delight to watch. Thought I'd share a picture of the two with a nice "friend scripture."

Photobucket

If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Ecclesiastes 4:10

(Oh - and Annika's on the left, and Ava on the right)

By the way, I am PLANNING to post more of my vacation pictures on my blog tomorrow (there will be at least ONE at my Exemplify Thursday post, at minimum.). Stay tuned!

Be sure to stop by Extravagant Grace for more



5/18/09

Monday Manna - The World

Welcome to Monday Manna. The purpose of this meme is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word. On the first and third Monday of each month, anyone who wishes can post their thoughts on a verse I introduced at my blog the Thursday before. It doesn't have to be a long post -- just a few thoughts, a picture you feel helps express it, a poem, a short story, a devotional.

Anyone is welcome to participate. Just post to your blog and link up at the bottom of this post in the Mr. Linky gadget.

This Monday's verse is found in the New Testament book of 1 John, which I have found just FULL of pearls of wisdom and deep thought. And here's one of them :)
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15
My thoughts are below. (excuse my ramblings--not thinking terribly straight today)

**

Boy, is this ever a tough one. And convicting.

Sure, there are plenty of things in this world that make my stomach turn, my skin crawl, or even just don't get me very excited. Things I'd gladly do without.
war
strife
pollution
soap operas
slavery
lies
immorality
prejudice
Dr. Pepper
Photobucket
These thing I do NOT love. If John had just said "do not love the icky things of the world," I woulda been on easy street. Pleasing the Lord in this way would have been no problem. I probably could have done it on my own.

And that, in itself, is a clue to the faultiness of this logic. For we can do NOTHING for God on our own. It is only with the power of His Spirit that we can please the Lord.

Anyhow, the world as expressed in this verse is exactly what it says: everything on this planet. And some of these things are easy to love.
Nature
A great book
A heartwarming/exciting/fill-in-the-blank movie
Good food
Money in the bank
A nice car
A shiny laptop
Smiles
Laughter
Thin Mints
Photobucket
So, I'm not allowed to love these things? Yikes. These can be good things, can't they? What is wrong with them?

Actually, not much--as long as we don't put too much of a focus on them. If I love, say, my car, enough that it changes my focus, it's a problem. If I see it as something "I" have, it's a problem. But, if I look at all these things I love through God's eyes, and His sovereignty and provision, I am loving the Provider, and not the objects themselves.

For anything I put ahead of God (even thin mints) is an idol - a false God. And God doesn't allow split loyalties. Our love for Him must be supreme.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Couldn't have said it better myself.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to link up below with your own thoughts on this verse, and read the other folks' contributions as well. I guarantee you will be blessed!



5/15/09

Friday Fiction: "Halfway To Heaven"

Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted this week by Shelley at The Veil Thins. Be sure to stop by her blog for links to some wonderful fiction. And don't be afraid to post your own - just link up in the gadget at the bottom of her post!

Wrote this one a while back for the Writing Challenge - the topic was confused. I think this was one of my best topic fits ever - and I truly loved writing it. Hope it blesses you to - and sends you to a particular book of which I am very fond. :)

HALFWAY TO HEAVEN


Voices seemed to ring out discordantly from every direction.

"Wiederholen, bitte."

"Que?"

"Haud agnosco."

"I don't understand."

What had just happened? Uz had no idea, and there wasn't a person in hearing distance, it seemed, who could fill him in. He wasn't confident there was a soul on Earth who could explain the change that had just taken place.

Uz looked about, finding the physical surroundings unaffected. The sun still shone. The flowers still bloomed. The ziggurat, not yet fully constructed, was still in view; with the sun reflecting off the tar binding its bricks together. The people were physically unchanged since the last time he'd looked -- not ten minutes earlier. Yet, at the same time, everything had undergone such a metamorphosis, such a radical change. Uz wondered if anything would ever be the same again.

At first, he thought it might be a dream or a hallucination. Yet, it seemed so real. One moment he'd been chatting with his wife Sera about the weather and its effects on the building project, and the next minute every sound coming from her mouth was incomprehensible.

He asked her to repeat herself, but she seemed as baffled by Uz's words as he had been with hers.

"Ich verstehe nicht," Sera had said.

Uz could say with complete confidence that he had never heard words even remotely similar to those come from anyone's mouth, much less his wife's.

He'd then turned to his friend Jovan, a foreman for the ziggurat.

"What's going on here?"

Uz would never forget the look of sheer perplexity on Javan's face. It was as if his friend had no idea who Uz was, much less what he was saying.

"Quod? Quod?" Javan's hopelessness was evident on his face and in his tone. "Revolvo, commodo."

Uz glanced at his wife, but found her as baffled at Javan's proclamation as he was. It appeared that not a soul could understand the words of any other human being anymore.

How would they be able to get anything done? How could anyone meet the most basic needs if no one could communicate with anyone else? Body language could only go so far. Of one thing Uz was certain: there was no way they'd ever finish the tower.

Sighing, Uz gestured for his wife to follow him. The pair walked dejectedly from Shinar, leaving their dreams, and a tower halfway to heaven, behind.


Based on Genesis 11:1-9


Thanks for reading! Don't forget to stop by Shelley's blog for more great fiction!

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