"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

11/29/10

Ancient Words

There are a lot of excellent books out there to help you grow in your Christian walk. I'm a big fan of Max Lucado, for instance, and we were just talking in Sunday School yesterday about Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages, and the incredible devotional My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers (which I'm actually working my way through this year). And I'm even trying to write a couple books that I pray will help bring someone to, or closer to, Christ.

But there's only one Book we really need to grow in Christ. And the words in that Book are old - ancient, to be exact. They were written thousands of years ago. But they aren't outdated, trite, or boring.

We sang a song in church yesterday that I had never heard before, and it absolutely blessed me. The words to this song are NOT ancient, but they did bring me to a Book that is.

Ancient Words
Words and Music by Lynn DeShazzo



© 2001 Integrity's Hosanna! Music, c/o Integrity Media, Inc., 1000 Cody Road, Mobile, AL 36695

Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us Your Words, the ancient words that speak to us today. Help us to remember that there is no book like Yours, and to heed it. In the name of Your precious Son I pray. Amen.


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

11/26/10

Finds for Fridays: November 26


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!

One Talent and Proud! By Alisa Hope Wagner at Faith Imagined (about using each type of talent the best you can)

Seven Tips on How To Build a Following Online By Nathan Bransford at Nathan Bransford, Author (about increasing your blog traffic)


Correcting the Bible by Terry Burns at From The Heart (about writing in your Bible)

Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Diane Loew at The Barn Door (just read it - trust me!)

The Wild Animal by Billy Coffey at What I Learned Today (about wild animals in the wilderness)

Photos To Make You Smile By  Diane at Southhamsdarling (cute and funny stuff :D)

Hope you stop by and check these out!


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

11/25/10

In Joy and Thanksgiving...

Cornucopia Pictures, Images and Photos
Praying your day is full of friends, family, food, and a heartfelt, palpable and imitatable gratitude for all that God has given you and will give you.

The Barn DoorI'm over at the Barn Door today, talking about my favorite Midwestern Thanksgiving so far. Hope you can take a bit of time to stop over. Have a blessed day.

Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

11/24/10

It's Not Just Turkey Day: Word-Filled Wednesday

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

I love Thanksgiving. It's one of the few holidays that hasn't been commercialized (well, other than that day after, of course :::roll:::). It's a wonderful time to get together and eat turkey and stuffing and pumpkin pie, and watch football games (hehe - tricked ya, eh???).

No - the reason I REALLY love Thanksgiving is because it is the perfect opportunity to sit around a table with family and friends and publicly thank God for the many blessings He has given us. And sometimes, I need the reminder, cuz I get caught up in the food and stuff as well. So I thought maybe if the dude below reminded me (and us?), it would be at the forefront of my mind.


Give thanks to the God of Heaven. His love endures forever. Psalm 136.26

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


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

11/22/10

Watch For the Camouflage

This time of year, it's a good idea to watch yourself when you're out in the woods--especially if you're Bambi.

You see, Michigan is right smack in the middle of Firearm Deer Hunting Season (it runs from November 15-30, if you're curious), and those hunters could be anywhere.

I'm not a hunter, as much as that may (or may not) surprise you. Nobody in my or my husband's immediate family is either (that I know of, anyway). I don't know that I quite get the fascination that folks have with heading out with their gun and shooting animals.

But camouflage I get (and if you're curious, I JUST learned how to spell that word!). If you're gonna be out among wildlife, you definitely do NOT want to be noticed. I'm not sure how smart deer are, but if I'd seen some strange two-legged creature walking through the forest with a stick and my deer friend suddenly fell to the ground beside me, I'd want to avoid those "two-legged creatures" from then on.

But if you are camouflaged (like this... um... handsome guy to the left, for example), the prey have no reason to fear--or at least they don't think they do. The deer will put their guard down, and before they know it: bang bang, fall down, venison jerky.

This reminds me of the sin in our lives. Sometimes, it's pretty obvious, and all we have to do is run the other way to avoid it.

But that isn't always the case.
Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.  It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. 2 Corinthians 11:14-15
Satan, and sin, is often difficult to distinguish from the day-to-day stuff we do, and even the things that are glorifying to God. Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is still wrong. Doing too much of a good thing can also be sin.

So, when things look fine, don't let your guard down. Sin is out there, disguised as fun or "not so bad" or something else equally harmless-looking. Watch for the camouflage.

Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

11/19/10

Finds for Fridays: November 19



If you're looking, Friday Fiction is right below this post, or click here.

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!

Feeling More Like my Turtle-y Self by Lynn Diener at The Blog of D.L. Diener (about slow and steady)

Marriage Lessons from the Chilean Mine Rescue By Julie Arduini at the Marriage Counter at the Internet Cafe (about what we can learn from this experience)

You're Going to Make It Over That Wall by Holley Gerth at Heart to Heart With Holley (about obstacles, and overcoming them)

Be sure to stop by and read these posts, and maybe follow the blogs. You won't be disappointed!

Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

New: Friday Fiction

Yeah, I know. It's been a WHILE! But I'm hosting, so here I am!


Fiction Friday,button,karlene

Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted this week by ME! Make sure that you  link up with your own fiction below. Or, if you just want to read some great fiction (ALWAYS great in my opinion!),  check out the links below.
This is an old challenge entry (in all seriousness, pretty much ALL of them are old, considering how infrequently I'm entering these days!) from the geography quarter. Topic was USA. And, if you're interested, this story will eventually become a novel. The research was absolutely, positively fascinating. I wish I had time to do a bit of tweaking, but it's a crazy day, so take it as I sent it! (I did get an EC with this one, so it can't be all bad.)

NEW
By Joanne Sher
 
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 check the links below for more great fiction!


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

11/16/10

How I Get Feedback

I wrote a synopsis this past week. Of a book I am not done writing. I entered it, and 4,000 words of said book, in a contest I am fairly certain I will not place in. And I paid $40 (and spent agonizing hours on a that synopsis - which I do NOT enjoy writing, by the way) for the ability to do so.

I've also written a back cover blurb for the same book, and entered it and 1,000 words, in another contest. Paid some money for that too.

Why, you ask? For the feedback. You see, both of these contests provide feedback to entrants from the judges. And I need the feedback.

I have no illusions that I can write this book and have it come out perfectly. I have tons of doubts about whether it's any good, if this story that has captured me would capture anybody else. I know I have tons to learn, and having judges, who generally know much more about writing than I do, comment on my words (and synopsis, and back cover blurb) can only make me a better writer.

I've only been deliberate about entering contests like this for a few months, but I'm already seeing the benefits. I have a feeling this is a habit I'll be continuing.

Even if I have to write another synopsis.


Have you entered writing contests? Why or why not? What other things do you do to improve your craft?


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

11/15/10

Free? (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.

Today's verse is one that I struggle with living out - and I'm guessing I'm not the only one.
Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 1 Peter 2:16 NIV
Looking forward to your thoughts. Mine are below.

**

There are so many things that I love to do. Read. Write (most of the time, anyway). Play on the computer. Play with my kids. Eat chocolate. Nap. The list goes on.

And, according to God's Word, I am free to do these things. I am living under grace now, and "all things are lawful for me." (ICor 10:23a) I am saved by God's favor and will. And that salvation cannot be lost. I am free.

But just because I can, doesn't mean I should. If I trip up an unbeliever, God is not pleased. If I choose my "better" instead of His "best," God is not pleased. And my primary job on this earth is to be pleasing to my Heavenly Father.

If reading that book, no matter the subject, is causing me to avoid something God has told me to do, I am using it to cover up evil. If playing with my children is my way of avoiding disciplining them, I am sinning in that play. If I am writing an incredible devotional instead of LIVING it, I am out of God's will, and He is not pleased.

Yes, I have freedom - but the most liberating, most powerful freedom of all is the freedom to follow God and avoid all that displeases Him.

And only then are you free indeed.

**

Thanks for reading! Be sure you link up below, and read the contributions of the other folks. You won't be sorry.



Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

11/12/10

Finds for Fridays: November 12, 2010



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!

Still Holding... By Billy Coffey at What I Learned Today (about the long wait)

From the Margin of my Bible By Christina Banks at With Pen In Hand (about what we do - I LOVE this little series she does! Short but POWERFUL)

How to Use Google Reader to Keep Up With Your Favorite Blogs by Michael Hyatt at Michael Hyatt's Blog (about a GREAT, and efficient way to get through blog posts - I used it for this!)

Kids Are Better Than Adults by Matt Appling at The Church of No People (about what we can learn from kids)

Dear Self... by Kim Rempel at From The Heart Online (about our books as our babies - or not!)

Hope you give some of these posts a look - and maybe even become followers of the blogs. You won't be disappointed!

Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

11/11/10

Freedom: Monday Manna for November 15

I'm over at the Barn Door today (my first post over there - check it out!) talking a bit about the difference in weather where I grew up and here. I'd love for you to check out "I Never Appreciated..." and let me know what you think!

And now, back to the business at hand :)



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'm reading in 1 Peter during my "Bible In A Year" Plan this week. So many gems in there - but this one in particular made me think. Hope it does the same for you!
Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 1 Peter 2:16 NIV
 Looking forward to your thoughts on this. Hope to see you right here on Monday!

Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

11/9/10

What I Should Be Doing Right Now

  • Cleaning my house (I got the kitchen counters done today, but the rest of the house is generally pitiful)
  • Writing a synopsis of my Biblical fiction WIP Handmaiden to a Princess, which I'm planning to enter, along with the first 4,000 words of this work, in the Pike's Peek Writers Fiction Contest. Deadline is a week from today. I have one sentence of the synopsis done.
  • Working on a rewrite of Chapter 18 of my nonfiction WIP Ailing Body Nourished Soul, to make it more "showy," so the lovely Deb Porter can have something worthy of her editing genius. I think I have a page and a half of this done - maybe 1/3 of the way through. I've been" working on it" for a week.
  • Editing a 50k manuscript. This is a PAYING job. I've been plugging away at this, but I'm sure not as fast as I should be. 
I'm sure there are other things, but they're not coming to mind.

Those of you who know me, know I am a hard worker, and generally do quite well with keeping myself on task. But the past couple days, I've been distracted. By what? I haven't a clue.
But I do know I'm never gonna get anywhere if I don't stop this procrastination.

Sooo now, when I think about other things, I have a nice list here to tell me what I should be doing with my time. And you guys can see it too. So ask me what I'm working on.

Maybe - just maybe - it'll get me back on task.

(and yes, if you're wondering, I DO realize writing this post was just more procrastination, but...well...shrug)



Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

11/8/10

"Oh, Mercy!" - and Barn Door grand opening!

The Barn Door
Today's the day! The launch of The Barn Door, a new group blog which I'm a part of. It's full of writers, though it's not really a writing site. What it is is a blog that shows the world from Midwestern eyes.

Contributors range from Midwest natives living in tiny towns to suburbanites born in West Coast big cities (I'd be the latter (: ). It will also feature author spotlights and interviews, with book giveaways too. The first post is up as we speak - a bit of an introduction to the blog and its contributors. We'd love to have you stop by and check us out: the (Barn) Door is always open!

 Those of you who have been at FaithWriters for years, and who have been reading my challenge entries for just as long, may recognize this devo. I submitted it to the challenge during the "genre quarter," in the inspirational/devo category. That, by the way, was 3 1/2 years ago. With my puter issues recently, I remembered it, and felt led to share again.

OH, MERCY

"The computer's not recognizing it." I took a deep breath and looked down at the laptop in front of me on the kitchen table, fighting the urge to scream.

"Not recognizing what?" my husband asked from the living room, where he'd been reading a magazine.

"The flash drive." My voice began to rise and my speech quicken. "The computer's not recognizing the flash drive. I tried unplugging it and plugging it in again, but nothing."

My husband entered the kitchen and stood beside me. "Did you try a different USB port?"

I nodded, a lump forming in my throat. "That was the only place I had the file saved."

"That wasn't very smart." He looked down at me seriously. "You should always have a backup."

I nodded. "But I didn't. That's hours of work lost, and only a couple of days until my deadline. I was only an hour or two away from being finished, too!"

**

The information was, for all intents and purposes, unrecoverable. The flash drive was damaged; the only way to get my work off of the drive was to send it away for days or weeks and pay thousands of dollars for data recovery. It was time, and money, I didn't have.

I suppose I could have started over, but it likely would have driven me, along with my entire family, crazy. This had been an intense, extensive weeklong project, and even the thought of trying to redo it in two days was enough to make me want to cry.

And to make matters worse (in my mind anyway), it was completely my fault. I was the one who hadn't made the backup on my computer's hard drive. I was also the one who had carelessly placed the flash drive on top of my clipboard. When I picked the clipboard up, the flash drive fell onto the wood floor, undoubtedly causing the damage that lost all the data.

There was really only one thing I could do. I shot off an email to the project's coordinator, explaining the situation and asking what my next step should be.

I was quite thankful that my boss was the understanding, sweet Christian woman that she was - and that she wasn't counting on me alone to complete the project. Some other bosses I have had in the past likely would have jumped down my throat for my carelessness and required me to get it done, perfectly, on time, no matter the circumstances.

My project coordinator, on the other hand, extended both mercy and sympathy. She would allow the others to complete the job without me, and didn't begrudge me my errors. I was off the hook.

Our "Heavenly Boss" is like that too, isn't he? Often, he will give us a job to do, and we will mess it up - probably more often than we'd like to admit. We're often afraid to confess our errors or sins to the Lord, frightened, perhaps, of His reaction.

Yet, like my project coordinator, God is compassionate and merciful. He knows we are only human, and that "things happen." If we ask, He will forgive us, and often give us a chance to try again.

I will soon have another chance to work under this project coordinator. I have a feeling that, just like my Heavenly Boss, she will give me another opportunity to serve. That's what mercy is all about, isn't it?

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 NIV


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

11/5/10

Finds for Fridays: November 5, 2010



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!

What Does Salvation Look Like? By Lynda Schultz at Grains of Sand (about what makes salvation true!)


Top Five Mistakes Authors Make In Proposals by Alicia Rasley at Seekerville (about...well...what the title says)

Flip Flops Under the Table by Beth LaBuff at FaithWriters' Blog (about reminders)

When You Want Life to the Full By Holley Gerth at Heart to Heart with Holley ( about how God wants us to live)

Please make a point of stopping by and reading these posts - and maybe even following the blogs they're from. You won't be sorry!


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

11/3/10

Barn Doors and the End of Election Season

No - these two things are NOT related, other than the fact that both of them have taken up some of my time lately.

I don't know about you, but I am SO glad the election season is over. Didn't this one seem more bitter and juvenile and full of attacks than the others? (Maybe I just have a short memory) I am sick of it. But I also realize that there is a LESSON here for us - that we can pass down to our children. Would love it if you'd stop by the Internet Cafe this week. I've got a post at the Family Counter. Find out How Politicians Can Help Your Kids Learn The Golden Rule (really!), and take something good out of this election - whether the folks you voted for got into office or not!


The Barn Door
And now, the barn door. I know many, though not all, of you, know that I live in the Midwest. I love it here. A bunch of Midwestern writers have gotten together and decided to launch a group blog. Several of my dear friends are among the participants, and we're getting ready to launch in just a few days! Be sure to stop by The Barn Door - we're launching Monday, November 8 - and see the world through Midwestern eyes. Of course, my eyes were born in California, but that's always an interesting perspective too, isn't it? And, of course, my eyes are becoming more and more Midwestern each day. :)

Thanks for stopping by, folks! Now back to work for me :D



Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

11/2/10

A Peculiar Person and an Orphan Plane (interview)

Well, today is writing day here at An Open Book, and I thought, for a change of pace, I'd introduce (or possibly re-introduce) you to a unique writing project I've been involved in (and am involved in!), and the amazing woman in charge of it. And you can join us too!
Introducing: Peculiar People Books (creating unique Christian fiction through group writing projects), and its founder, the lovely Amy Michelle Wiley!

Joanne: Tell us a little bit about yourself, Amy.
Amy: I am a lover of words and people, and God blessed me with a lot of creativity. I am a freelance writer and editor, and though I dabble in all genres, my favorite is fiction short stories. I especially like to take a true story (anything from Biblical fiction to "ripped from the headlines") and fictionalize it in a way that brings it alive and makes it real to the readers, the way Jesus often did with parables.

I also use my passions to work in the Deaf Community as a sign language interpreter, getting to use words in two different languages. Other things I enjoy are spending time with my family, reading, singing, and crafts. I also am learning to live with the limitations of a chronic illness.

Joanne: What motivated you to start Peculiar People Books?
 Amy: One of the marks of strong fiction is having a cast of characters who each have unique voices and personalities. It occured to me that one way to accomplish that would be to have a different writer focusing on each character. I've always loved doing things with other people, so the camraderie was definitely a big part of it as well.

I find it such an honor to be able to find new writers and publish their work for the first time, and to encourage and further the careers of the more experienced authors who are involved. (Though on the other hand it's very difficult to say no to the writers whose stories don't make the cut.)

Joanne: Where do you come up with the ideas for the individual projects?
Amy: Each of them has come out of ordinary things in my everyday life. I try to think of a topic that would lend itself well to being written with lots of characters and from lots of perspectives. For example, the first project which is yet to be published, Secrets of the Ice, was partially inspired by my own jury duty. I wondered what kind of "duties" citizens would get called on to do many generations from now when there might be colonies on various planets or space stations. Another one, Delivered, was inspired by the real-life postcard project that asks people to send in a secret about themselves. I came up with a Christian spin on it, and had the postcards ask for prayer requests.
I'm open to getting ideas from other people, too, as happened with Struggle Creek, whose storyline was created by brainstorming with all the authors. And of course the joy of working with so many writers is that each person brings their own additions to the original idea.

Joanne: What is the benefit to an author getting involved in these projects?
Amy: There is something special and fun about being able to collaborate with other Christian writers to create something unique and different from what you could do alone. For new writers it's a chance to get published, and in doing so, get your name out to the world and be able to add to your publishing credits. For experienced writers, it's fun to expand your skills by trying something new.

Joanne: Tell me about your newest project: Operation Orphan Plane.
Amy: This one was inspired by another real-life event: the orphan trains. In the United States from 1854 through 1929, a few hundred thousand orphan children were sent by train from crowded eastern cities to farms and small towns further west. The hope was that the children would have a chance at a better life living with honest, hardworking families away from the crime of the big cities. I've read many historical fiction books about the orphan trains, so I didn't want just another book to join all the others, yet the idea of so many kids with so many stories seemed ideal for a PeP project.

So, as seems to be my norm, I put a twist on it. I set the idea in the future, so the children are being sent to live on a space station. Since the characters will be in relatively close quarters for much of the book, I decided this one needed to be written consecutively. Rather than everyone sending in completed stories for the PeP team to consider, I'm asking writers to send in story ideas, so we can pick ones that go together and then begin writing the book in stages. I can't wait to see how it turns out, and to see what extra twists the authors bring to the storyline. This one is open for submissions until January 9th, so be sure to check it out if you're interested in being a contributor.

Joanne: What is your vision for Peculiar People?
Amy: I'd like the books to get successful and well-known enough to have sales bring in enough money for me to pay the contributing authors upfront for their stories. We're headed in the right direction--I've already made back what I put into Delivered--but are not quite there yet since I'll need to put that money into publishing the next book.

I forsee PeP continuing to put out books every year or two, and I'm playing around with ways to make the flow and quality of the content improve with each book. This kind of collaboration is unique, and I hope we gain a lot of people who are as excited about reading our novel ideas as we are about writing them. As that happens, then we are also reaching out to people with the love and truth of God, as well as providing clean entertainment.

Joanne: Anything you'd like to add?
Amy: Please check out our website, www.peculiarpeoplebooks.com, to see the two books we have already published (they make great holiday gifts!) and to get information on submitting to our current work in progress. (I'm sure you can check with Joanne on how to buy an autographed copy of Delivered from her, as well.) Thanks for listening, readers, and thanks for the interview, Joanne. You've been such an important part of PeP.

Joanne: Thank YOU, Amy, for sharing your passion, and this incredible project, with my readers!

So, is your interest piqued? As she mentioned, story ideas are being accepted until January 9, 2011. Stop by the website for more information and how to submit! 


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

11/1/10

The Month That Was (sorta): A Goals/Progress Update

(In case you're looking for it, today's Monday Manna post is right below this one, here)

October was, by far, the least "normal" month I've had in a while. I had no computer for 10 plus days. I received a pleasant (but quite unexpected) surprise. Not to mention the other things I'm not remembering.

But just because things didn't end up the way I expected doesn't mean I don't check out how I did on my goals for the month. So...here I go.

My October goals - direct from my October goals/progress post:
  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 minimum 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, how'd I do? NOT so great. My motherboard died the evening of October 6 - which was EXACTLY when I was about to give my Emily entry its last read-through and send it off to the contest. By the time I had access to the file, the deadline had passed. Oh well. I DID, however, enter the Hook Me contest - almost a full week before the deadline (I learned my lesson - at least in the short-term!). I didn't enter the challenge this month, and though I did fairly well blogging the two weeks of the month that I WAS around, I had a full week and a half with no posts, so I'm counting that as a "uh-uh."

I haven't written another word of Handmaiden to A Princess, but I have done a bit of preliminary outlining (found out I need more structure than I thought I did!). And I DID finish Plot and Structure (see my opinion of it here) and have started my "book for pleasure:" Blue Like Play Dough by Tricia Goyer (LOVING it!). I think I'm halfway through.

But my big, exciting news is on item #3. The edit of Ailing Body, Nourished Soul has begun! We're about 1/4 of the way through, and I can SEE it getting better and better with each suggestion. SO glad I'm having it done.

And that, unsurprisingly, leads me to my new list of goals for November (the second-to-last month of the year. Can you believe it?)
  1. Keep up with fixes on my Ailing Body, Nourished Soul edit, with the hope of having it ready to submit to the agent's assistant as soon as humanly possible (can I dream of before December??)
  2. Finish outlining Handmaiden to a Princess and get, say, at least 5k words written
  3. Continue my reading habit (i.e. finish Blue Like Play Dough and at least start another book)
  4. Three blog posts minimum a week
  5. Enter the FaithWriters' Writing Challenge in November
So, there I go! Forward I move. Thanks so much for the prayers and support. It helps me more than you can possibly know.

 
Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

Though...Yet (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.

Our passage for today are in a little-known, little-read book that packs quite a punch.  These two verses I chose do the very same thing. Much to ponder here - and I hope each of you can think of your very own examples that prove this true.
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 hearing your thoughts. Mine are below.

**
Sometimes the Lord is hard to trust.
When life is hard, when circumstances are pushing you down, when it seems like everything, and everyone, is against you, trusting God doesn't always feel like second nature. When you sit in dust and ashes and wonder when the next tragedy is going to hit, when your life seems hopeless, useless, and pointless, it's difficult to see your way out of the chasm you feel you've fallen into. You feel alone. Abandoned. Forsaken. Out of luck.
But remember: no matter how you feel, He is there.
If you're seven years old and your mother dies, He's there. And He loves you.

If you're in middle school and you're the butt of every joke, He's there. And He is protecting you.

If you're in high school and you hate your family enough to move out, He's there. And He is watching out for you.

If you're six months pregnant and your husband is diagnosed with a brain tumor, He's there. And He is strengthening, blessing, and growing you. And He is worthy to be praised.

My friend - no matter your situation, no matter your struggles, God is in control. And He can be trusted. Though things feel and look bad, yet the Lord knows what is going on, and is working it out for good (Romans 8:28). Though you are certain there is nothing worthy in the suffering you are experiencing, yet God is using it in a masterful way we will never understand this side of Heaven.

No matter your circumstances, my friend, no matter what your "though" is, God's love and care for you and the world is all the "yet" we need.
yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

**
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

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