"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

10/29/10

Finds for Fridays: October 29, 2010

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Finds for Fridays is my way of sharing some of the wonderful blogs posts I read each week. I am currently following about 100 blogs and at least scan them as much as I can. Each week, I'll note and "set aside" some posts that especially speak to me for whatever reason. And each Friday that I am able, I'll share them with you. I hope you'll stop by and read the posts, and maybe even follow the blogs if you aren't already. A win-win, right?

And now...here they are!



Prophet Without Honor by Terry Burns at Cowboy Musing (about those closest to us recognizing our writing success)

Which POV am I Using? by Yvonne Blake at My Back Door (about writing--and living--points of view)

Should You Keep Your Goals to Yourself? By Michael Hyatt at Michael Hyatt's blog (about the psychology of sharing vs. keeping quiet your goals)

Cleaning Up Our Messes by Katdish at Katdish dot net (about messy bedrooms and mama's help)

Godly Gals - LauraLee Shaw by Melissa Mashburn/LauraLee Shaw at Mel's World (about raindrops, mudpies, and my dear friend LauraLee)

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you check out these posts, and maybe even become a follower of the blogs. Some great reading out there.

Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

10/28/10

Yet I Will...Monday Manna for November 1

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

On the first and third Mondays of each month, anyone who wants to participate can post their thoughts on a specific verse--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 long -- 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 Linky Tools gadget that will be at the bottom of MY post at o'dark thirty that morning.

 It hasn't been a particularly icky week or anything, but little things have messed up my plans here and there. Sometimes, I let that affect my mood, but I know I shouldn't. This is a passage I will turn to sometimes when I let my emotions or circumstances get the best of me.
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Habakkuk 3:17-18
 Looking forward to your thoughts! See you here on Monday (November 1 - can you believe it??)


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

10/26/10

So, Joanne..what do you REALLY think of Plot and Structure?

Photobucket
For those of you who have been reading my blog over the past month or so, you have no doubt heard me refer to a certain writing craft book that I'm reading (actually, now it's was reading, as I finished Thursday). I've done it on at least one other occasion, though it seems like I have mentioned it a plethora of times. (to me, anyway!)

The book? Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. I had been told several times, by several people, to read this book. And it was on my list of books to buy "some day." Then I bought it, and it graduated to my list of books to read "some day." And then some day came, and I wish I'd bought and read it the VERY FIRST time I was told.
It covers exactly what makes a good plot, ways to get plot ideas, beginnings, middles, and ends, character arcs in plot, different plotting systems (both for the planners AND the pantsers!), and much, much more.

I can honestly say that I learned something new, and VALUABLE, in every one of its fourteen chapters. For instance, I realized that I'm much less of a pantser than I thought I was. I also know what it takes to write a good back cover blurb (and that it is often advisable to do it BEFORE you write your book). And some better ways to include backstory in your novel without doing a flashback scene.

If you are a writer, I can't recommend more strongly getting your hands on this book, and reading it! Click here for a way to find the cheapest price on it (and just about any other book!)

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to work on plotting my latest WIP!


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

10/25/10

Cuddle Up

My daughter has been more affectionate and "cuddly" lately. She seems to need more snuggling and attention than usual. In all honesty, it has cut into some of my computer/work time and that sometimes frustrates me, but most of the time, it is a complete pleasure to get cozy on the couch or on the bed with my sweet almost-seven-year-old.

As I was pondering this the other day, I began to wonder if it was a "phase" she was going through - something fairly common to kids(or at least girls) around her age. I wondered if I went through the same "phase" around that same time of my life. And if I did, how did I possibly handle it?

You see, when I was almost seven, my mother was in the hospital. Before I was seven and a half, she was dead.
Who did I cuddle with? My father? Sure. That I remember. We lay on his bed and held each other for a long time (at least it seemed long to a seven-year-old) that day in November when I came home from school and found out. There were aunts and uncles, and grandmas and grandpas too. Those cuddles I don't remember specifically, but I'm sure they were there.

But no mama. Yet, I made it through those years. In hindsight, I can only say it HAD to have been God who pulled me through all the emotions, struggles, and turmoil of losing a mother, and all the consequences of that (which I'm not going into here - just suffice it to say there were plenty).  And at that point, I wasn't His child as I am now.
He loved me enough to help me through before I even acknowledged him.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19

PhotobucketSomehow, I can imagine those cuddles with my Heavenly Father when things were tough. I still have them with Him. And as much as I love snuggling with my daughter, there's nothing better than time in the arms of God. He never gets frustrated with my need for them, or regrets the time it takes.

I hope my daughter never tires of cuddling up to me. But if she does, I know I always have my Heavenly Father to cozy up to--and so does she.


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

10/21/10

She Returns - and Examines Her Blogginess

Yes - I'm BBBAAACCCCKKKK!! (finally!) I've had my new computer (my motherboard died - remember?) since Monday, but I am just now feeling like I'm back in the swing (and even that may be an exaggeration!). I really like my new laptop (I've named it Irving - my last one was Clyde), and am becoming quite fond of Windows 7, and Open Office (especially the price tag on the latter!).

Anyhow, my dear friend Lynn Deiner did a post on HER blog about what a bad blogger does as compared to what SHE does, based on "Lose Blog Traffic and Alienate Readers" By Monica Bhide in the Nov/Dec 2010 Writer's Digest Magazine. (click on Lynn's name to check out her blog. She's pretty awesome) Soooo, I thought, to get back in the blogging spirit, I'd do the same.

Sooo, according to Ms. Bhide, here are the things that will help you "lose blog traffic and alienate readers," and how I think I stack up.

1. Post too infrequently. For the past two weeks, definitely - but for the most part, this is NOT one of my weaknesses. They say three times a week is good, and I generally make that, with one or two extra.


2. Post too often. Well....sometimes. I have this problem with finding a silly topic or quiz or whatever and putting it up right away, even if I already have a post up for that same day. I TRY to avoid putting more than one post up a day, but it doesn't always work out (and maybe that's just my arbitrary thing. Who knows?)

3. Turn off comments. Why would ANYONE do this?

4. Be overly snarky.I am not naturally snarky as far as I know, so if I do this, it is completely without my knowledge.

5. Choose poor photos. Sometimes - I'm more likely to skip the photo and give you boring type as the only thing to look at.


6. Wax poetic about just anything. I don't like this one. No I don't. I think it should be removed from the list. ;)

7. Neglect to read other blogs. I do NOT do this. I LOVE reading and commenting on others' blogs. I've even created my own little weekly post of blog post favorites called Finds for Fridays (which will resume NEXT Friday, by the way). And just FYI - Google reader is MY FRIEND in this respect.

8. Refrain from comment. See above. BUT I should also note that it is great to interact with your own commenters through the comment section, and I am absolutely, positively LOUSY about doing that.

9. Get carried away. You mean like I did in this post? Umm...does that answer your question?

10. Be self-centered. I HOPE I'm becoming less this way. I know my blog started out as a whole lot of "me," but I'm trying to focus more on my "brand" and giving information that will HELP others (besides the amazingly wonderful benefits you get from KNOWING me hehe).

Soooo - there you go. Did I teach you anything? How do YOU stack up?

Ahhhh. It's good to be back!


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

10/11/10

Boy, Look At Her!

I've spent a good deal of the past several days doing little constructive.

It's been a hard week or two. First, my husband got pretty sick - with bronchitis. Listening to him cough, and struggle for breath, just tore my heart out every time. (He IS on the mend, by the way, but still has inflamed bronchial tubes. According to the doc, he should get better with time)

Then, my motherboard stopped working Wednesday - the day before I was planning to enter the first 7k of my Biblical fiction WIP, Handmaiden to a Princess in The Emily. I KNOW God had a different reason for me to work as hard as I did to get that part of my manuscript polished and pretty, but it was still a bit of a letdown.

And now, I'm waiting (not so patiently, if you're wondering) for my new puter, which should arrive NO LATER THAN October 21. I'm using the hubby's laptop here and there, but that's about it. And I try not to take advantage of his generosity.

So, as I sit computerless and internetless, for the most part, I've been feeling blah (Boy, Look At Her: get it??). And totally unmotivated to write. And it's not like I have nothing to work on. I'm still working on (theoretically) a back cover blurb for another contest with a deadline later this month, and I have a post due at the Internet Cafe no later than the 20th of this month. But my brain has no desire to cooperate.

MAYBE all this is God telling me to take a break (as much as I can, anyway) until I have my own computer. Perhaps I should focus my time on other things, like cleaning my house (did I just hear an "Amen" from the hubby's chair?), reading, spending time with my family, or who knows what else.

Or maybe I should embrace my blahs. Or work through them anyway. (We all know we can't wait for inspiration to do what we need to do - we do it and hope it comes)

Or, like every good 21st century writer, I could do what I just did - WRITE a blog about why I can't WRITE.

Makes perfect sense to me!

What do you do to fight off the blahs? How do you handle the lack of motivation to write?


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

10/8/10

Finds for Fridays - October 8 (abridged)

Yes - this week's list is shorter than usual - that's because my motherboard has gone to that computer in the sky. Yup - as of Wednesday night, I am computerless. Ordered a new one, but it won't be here for a bit (they say no more than two weeks - we'll see). NO idea how much I'll be online (using hubby's laptop at the moment) until I've got my new one. But I didn't want to let these awesome posts go by unnoticed!

Finds for Fridays is my way of sharing some of the wonderful blogs posts I read each week. I am currently following about 100 blogs and at least scan them as much as I can. Each week, I'll note and "set aside" some posts that especially speak to me for whatever reason. And each Friday that I am able, I'll share them with you. I hope you'll stop by and read the posts, and maybe even follow the blogs if you aren't already. A win-win, right?

Introducing...my finds!

Gimme a break! by Andrea Mitchell at (in)courage (about taking time for rest)

What Good is the Church...Really? by Dee Yoder at My Heart's Dee-Light (about the Church - the good and the bad)

When You're In Between by Holley Gerth at Heart to Heart with Holley (about "the middle")

The World is Too Big by Carol Hatcher at Internet Cafe Devotions (about walking by needs)

Be sure to stop by these AWESOME posts, and maybe even follow the blogs. See ya when I see ya! :)


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

10/6/10

My Heavenly Hubby (Word-Filled Wednesday)

Welcome to Word-Filled Wednesday, hosted at The Internet Cafe. Be sure to click above for more visual inspiration from scripture.

My "Bible in a year" schedule has me in the book of Isaiah right now. I LOVE that book - not only was I saved in it, but there is SO much wonderful imagery of our Savior. This one, in particular, has been in my mind for the past few months.



For your Maker is your husband—the LORD Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. Isaiah 54:5

What a thought, eh?

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to visit The Internet Cafe for more



Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

10/5/10

Inspiration...and Perspiration

 I'm at the Internet Cafe' this week, serving up some thoughts at the Family Counter. Learn a bit about the punch in the stomach (figuratively, I promise) my son gave me the other day when I chose to finish reading my Bible chapter instead of buttering his English muffin. Check out Are Your Kids More Than A Distraction? I think it's a message we all need to hear. I know I needed it!


 By the way, my cafe' article was written ON its due date (which is something I try to avoid - I'm not a procrastinator most of the time). I'd been fiddling with a certain idea for my post over there, but it was NOT coming together very well. Then, the VERY MORNING the piece was due, I had the incident happen that I described in my barista post - and boom. There was my post. And it flowed from my fingertips.

Love it when writing happens like that. Don't you? But it's rare...for me anyway. Most of the time, I get an idea, and I start writing, but it doesn't exactly slide from my head to the paper (or computer screen) fully formed. Writing can be, and often is, a lot of work. Like they say, it's generally a lot more perspiration than inspiration.

But you know, if it was always easy, anyone could do it. And I like to think that God has gifted me with a handful (or more) of stories to tell in my own way. Sometimes, he almost writes them for me. Most of the time, however, he lets me work through them so I can improve my craft, learn perseverance, and maybe become a bit more like Him in some way. And that's fine with me.

I'm willing to perspire a bit to put out a quality piece--as long as it inspires my reader to look to the One who directed me.

Do you find writing to be more inspiration or perspiration? How do you feel about these two aspects of your craft?





Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

10/4/10

The Family I've Never Met (Monday Manna)

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

On the first and third Mondays of each month, anyone who wants to participate can post their thoughts on a specific verse--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 long -- 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 Linky Tools gadget that will be at the bottom of MY post at o'dark thirty that morning.

I selected this Monday's verse in a rather nontraditional way, but I'm SO glad I came across it. I never would have chosen it otherwise, I'm sure.
Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers, even though they are strangers to you. 3 John 5
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Mine are below.

**

I grew up with a large extended family--especially on my maternal grandmother's side. She had several siblings, all of whom had several kids, who had several kids, and so on. It was hard for me to keep track of who was related to who, and how. Several were only names, and MAYBE photos in a scrapbook.

But still, they were family. According to grandma, no matter how far back the connection, or how many "removeds" there might be, we're all cousins. (So, when I tell you that Evan Cohen - who played the neighbors' little boy on the VERY short-lived TV series "The Ropers" - is my cousin, you should take it with maybe even LESS than a grain of salt)

Wanna guess how much help and/or encouragement I've given these members of my family, especially the "cousins" I've either never or rarely met? Not much. And I'd guess you are the same about those relatives you may never have met, or perhaps don't even know exist.

But, since I came to Christ over a decade ago, my family has grown exponentially. I, along with every other Christian on this planet, are members of the family of God. We are ALL brothers and sisters (and that's even closer than "cousins").

And the folks the apostle John wrote to in his third letter have taught me a bit about how I'm supposed to be  treating my family--even the ones I don't know.
I should be faithful to do things for them.
Gaius, a friend of the apostle John, was doing just this for people he scarcely knew. Yes, they were his brothers. All in the same family - parts of the same Body, in fact. And we must be at least as concerned with our siblings in Christ as we are for our biological family.
In my case, MORE concerned.
**

Thanks for reading my thoughts. Hope you'll share your own on these verses and link up below, or just read what others have contributed. You will be blessed :)



Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

10/1/10

October? Already? (A goals/progress update)

Am I the only one who thought September went by super-quick? I sure flew by here in the Sher household. But I didn't let the time go by to waste (for the most part).

So today, on the first of October (also my baby brother's birthday - Happy Bday, Artie!), it's time for me to review my writing goals for September and set some new ones for the new month.

So to start...here are my September goals, straight from my last goals/progress post:
  1. Type in as many of the 96 handwritten pages of Handmaiden to a Princess as I can, tweaking and polishing as I go. (remember my former mentionings of writing in the "in between times?" It adds up. Trust me.)
  2. Once I get Ailing Body Nourished Soul back from its edit, make the necessary fixes and get it off to to the agent assistant as soon as possible.
  3. Post a minimum of three times a week to my blog.
  4. READ! (books - not just blog posts) For PLEASURE! 
  5. Enter the FaithWriters' Writing Challenge in September 
So, how'd I do? Not bad, I'd say. I got all 95 pages typed in (yeah - I counted wrong LOL) - by the 20th :D. I've also been a blog-posting MACHINE (you may have noticed). I posted a total of 22 times this month. Guess I can check that one off. And I have been reading a book - and I am enjoying it (that's the definition of reading for pleasure, right?). The fact that it's a "craft book" (Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell) is irrelevant...right??

However, I did NOT enter the writing challenge, and I haven't worked on fixing Ailing Body Nourished Soul -- my wonderful editor hasn't gotten it back to me yet (I'd rather a thorough job anyway :D). But still, not bad, eh?

One other thing I HAVE been working on, however, is getting the first part of Handmaiden To A Princess ready for a couple of contests I'm planning on entering it in. Been keeping me busy :)

And on that note--my goals for October:
  1. Get the first 7,000 words of Handmaiden to a Princess ready for West Houston RWA's Emily contest- and submit it in the "Novel with Romantic Elements" category before the October 7 deadline.
  2. Get the first 1,000 words and back cover blurb of Handmaiden to a Princess ready for ACFW Ohio's Hook Me contest and submit before the October 31 deadline.
  3. Once I get Ailing Body Nourished Soul back from its edit, make the necessary fixes and get it off to to the agent assistant as soon as possible.
  4.  Write another 5k or more in Handmaiden to a Princess. (after the contest stuff is dealt with)
  5. Finish Plot and Structure, and read at least one NON-CRAFT book for pleasure (or at least start it)
  6. Post a minumum of three times a week to my blog (if I keep doing well, this will be understood, and OFF my goal list.)
  7. Enter the FaithWriters' Writing Challenge in October.
    So, there you have it! And off I go :) Thanks for stopping by, and for your encouragement!


    Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

    Finds for Fridays - October 1



    Finds for Fridays is my way of sharing some of the wonderful blogs posts I read each week. I am currently following about 100 blogs and at least scan them as much as I can. Each week, I'll note and "set aside" some posts that especially speak to me for whatever reason. And each Friday that I am able, I'll share them with you. I hope you'll stop by and read the posts, and maybe even follow the blogs if you aren't already. A win-win, right?

    And now...here they are!

    To Those Four Girls Out There by Amy Bayliss at AmyBayliss.com (about praying for your kids' future spouses)

    Celebrating Purpose by Terri Tiffany at Terri Tiffany, Inspirational Writer (about celebrating in difficulties)

    Roger's Questions by Billy Coffey at Katdish.net (about questions and answers and faith)

    Rainy Day Rambles by Sara Harricharan at In Shades of Scarlet (about appreciating the rain)

    In The Presence of Holiness by Karlene Jacobsen at Homespun Expressions (about a divine appointment)

    Thanks for stopping by. Hope you check out these posts, and maybe even become a follower of the blogs. Some great reading out there.

    Have a great weekend.

    Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

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