Category Archives: The Writing Life

Don’t Give Up

Never count me out . . .

I am famously stubborn. My family and friends (and a few frenemies) will attest to that fact. However, the past year was so difficult that I couldn’t think well enough to write. It took all my concentration just to do the things which were required by my jobs.

During the past couple of weeks, I have received encouragement from an unexpected source: my neglected plants.

Last November, I put most of my plants in the garage, but I watered them hardly at all until a week ago. This poor arrowhead philodendron seemed completely lifeless, but look at it now. I cut away all that had died, put it on the back porch, watered it often, and voilà!

The same is true of this poor pothos plant.

20170511_100330_resized
The spider plants are recovering as well.

The fact that I returned the plants to the back and front porches shows that I had not completely given up on them. I hoped there was a spark of life there, so I nurtured it. I gave it what it needed: sunlight and water.

God does that with us. My life verse is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.”

When I am ready to quit, God gives me what I need. He gives me strength. He nurtures me.

II Corinthians 5:7 says, “We live by faith, not by sight.” What a breath-taking statement! Had I gone by the appearance of the plants, I would have thrown them out, thinking they were dead. They weren’t. When I treated them as if they were alive, they revived.

I was like those plants. I was depressed, and I had to fight to plaster a smile on my face, but God is always good. He did not give up on me. He did not let me quit. He’s still working on me.

Another applicable principle is that pruning often helps a plant that looks dead. I cut the dead growth away so that it would not take energy from the plant. John 15:2 says, “”Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”

God pruned me during the past year. I still have things He wants me to do. I have fruit to bear, books to write, music to play, and children to teach.

He isn’t finished with me yet, and He isn’t finished with you either.

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#Goals

I always have a goal in mind when I write. Since I have never been wealthy, there are things that I want (and even need), and writing is an enjoyable means to acquiring those extras.

Writing The Guardian Trilogy was a steep learning curve. My main goal was to publish. At that time, it didn’t occur to me that I could make a profit.

The Yours by Design series paid for new floors in my house, as well as expenses associated with my younger daughter’s wedding and a trip to Japan to see my older daughter and her family.

By that time, I had caught on that having a set goal in mind helped to push me to write. When I started working on Understanding Elizabeth, I knew exactly what I wanted (and badly needed), and Saturday, my husband and I went and bought it. (Happy dance!)

I traded in my 2005 Honda Accord for a 2015 Nissan Sentra (with only 4,000 miles on it)! Coincidentally, my sixty-third birthday is this Sunday, so the car is a two-fer.

Happy birthday!

Thank you, readers and writing friends. Looking at the tangible evidence of my work and knowing you helped me realize my dreams gives me great joy.

Every time I drive my car, I smile and think of you.

With a little help from my friends

From friend to friend Image: Eliza C3 (Creative Commons Flickr)

This is how we discover the best stuff. Friend to friend.
Image: Eliza C3 (Creative Commons Flickr)

Isn’t this how we discover the best restaurants and movies and reads?

From our friends.

Around here we’re smiling at the success of Robin Helm’s new Pride and Prejudice romance. Understanding Elizabeth has really taken off.

My Kindle Select numbers are smiling too.

All because of Cross Promotion.

See, now that I’m an indie author, I can participate in that. Placing a link or two at the back of my e-book that says I think you would enjoy …

Mr Darcy recommends

“Mr. Darcy Recommends”

It’s a simple concept. Robin has placed an image link to Darcy By Any Other Name at the end of her book, and I have done the same. And readers must be having a look at Darcy, because my Kindle Select numbers are way up.

While Robin and I share a blog, it appears that we don’t always share the same readers.  Who knew?

Hey, Robin has a two-book giveaway going on this week at Of Pens and Pages. Stop by, read Nissa’s review of Understanding Elizabeth, and post a comment.

logo-4-1The USA winner has the option to choose a print book prize. Love that!

Really proud of Robin. Elizabeth has held on to her #4 spot against two best-sellers (with over a hundred Amazon reviews apiece), and has even won out against a 99 cent erotica.

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A Happy Vote? This time, yes.

Photo: Ze've Barkan (Creative Commons Flickr)

Photo: Ze’ve Barkan (Creative Commons Flickr)

For there are two really wonderful choices. How’s that for great?

Our own Robin Helm is about to release a new novel, and she’d like your help deciding.

She has two beautiful covers for her book Understanding Elizabeth. Which one do you like best?

jj1813-logoCome over to Just Jane 1813 and cast your vote. I won’t steal Claudine’s thunder by posting the images here. Nor will I tell you about the “cover girl” who is Robin’s Elizabeth Bennet. So exciting!

What are you waiting for? Click the link and vote!

Come along inside!

“Now, the very next time this happens,” said a gruff and suspicious voice, “I shall be exceedingly angry. Who is it this time, disturbing people on such a night? Speak up!”

Poor Rat! Poor Mole! To be freezing in the snow, having to encounter the grouchy, fearsome Badger. Would he give them a scold? Bar the door against their need?
mrbadger“O Badger,” cried the Rat, “let us in, please. It’s me, Rat, and my friend Mole, and we’ve lost our way in the snow.”

“Why, Ratty, my dear little man!” exclaimed the Badger, in quite a different voice. “Come along in, both of you, at once. Why, you must be perished. Well I never! Lost in the snow! And in the Wild Wood, too, and at this time of night! But come in with you.”

wind-in-the-willows-1As you probably have realized, this is from Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. I love Ratty and Mole and Badger, and the first five chapters are my favorites. (Mr. Toad does not deserve rescuing, but our three heroes are true friends to try.) How I’d love to “mess about in boats” as they do, and then hole up, warm and snug, during the stormy winter months.

A bookworm’s paradise, their gentle woodland world. To be sure, dangers are present, but their friendships are hearty and patient. Even Mr. Badger’s gruff manner conceals a warm and loyal heart.

wind-in-the-willows-3And truly, is there anything better than a welcome, especially one that is unlooked-for? How wonderful is that friendly open door, offering shelter from the howling wilderness. Within is warmth and cheer and (of course) plenty of food.

Badger agrees. “This is not the sort of night for small animals to be out,” he said paternally. “I’m afraid you’ve been up to your pranks again, Ratty. But come along; come into the kitchen. There’s a first-rate fire there, and supper and everything.”

wind-in-the-willows-5I love the theme of finding shelter among kindly folk, whether I’m turning pages to follow Bilbo, as he makes a hurried descent into Rivendell (that Last Homely House east of the sea), or I’m with Lucy Pevensie, taking tea with Mr. Tumnus in Narnia.

Maybe it’s because this is how I work out my struggles and conflicts. “Come and have coffee,” I say, “and let’s talk things over.” (Bonus points if there’s a fire on the hearth and if wind howls and dashes rain against the windows.)

wind-in-the-willows-4A good beginning, but Badger is the true master. “He sat in his arm-chair at the head of the table, and nodded gravely as the animals told their story; and he did not seem surprised or shocked at anything, and he never said, ‘I told you so,’ or ‘Just what I always said,’ or remarked that they ought to have done so-and-so, or not to have done something else. The Mole began to feel very friendly towards him.”

It’s the quiet part of autumn now, the lull just before the Thanksgiving – Christmas rush. And you know what? We can pretend to be Mole! “Once well underground,” he said, “you know exactly where you are. Nothing can happen to you, and nothing can get at you. You’re entirely your own master, and you don’t have to consult anybody or mind what they say. Things go on all the same overhead, and you let ’em, and don’t bother about ’em. When you want to, up you go, and there the things are, waiting for you.”

Wisdom from woodland animals. Who knew?
 
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Wisdom from Winnie The Pooh

pooh-gratitudeTimeless stories, like the best songs, are about more than just one thing. They are about what it means to be human, and because of this, they resonate.

A skilled storyteller (or lyricist) knows how to embed gems for us to mine out. That’s the wonder of the reread, the unexpected treasures.

This weekend I am reminded of wisdom hidden in an unlikely place: The Hundred Acre Wood.  A. A. Milne had much to say about life, but he allowed his imaginary friends to do the talking.

pooh-freezingHere are some of my Poohish favorites:

“If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”

~ o ~

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.pooh-braver

~ o ~

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

~ o ~

“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”pooh-consideration

~ o ~

“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?”

~ o ~

“I do remember, and then when I try to remember, I forget.”


See what I mean? Profound, powerful stuff.
Perhaps I ought to hang out in The Hundred Acre Wood more often!

pooh-shadowsIf you’d like to read more about the transformative power of fiction, check out  S. D. Smith’s excellent article 5 Reasons You Need Fiction.

 

 


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Autumn leaves and leaves of books

A stroll in my neighborhood

Liquid Amber trees in our neighborhood park

The glories of autumn bring with them dark mornings and early sunsets. At winter I get up at night and dress by yellow candle-light…

Sort of.

I much prefer Robert Louis Stevenson’s lyrical description to my own. “I hurry along the sidewalk using a flashlight, hoping I don’t slide on wet leaves or trip on acorns. And why did I forget to wear gloves?”

With Stevenson in mind, I found this gem. Because autumn and winter are the season for books. And for bonfires, although city ordinances won’t allow them here.

Picture-Books in Winter
Robert Louis Stevenson

Summer fading, winter comes—
Frosty mornings, tingling thumbs,
Window robins, winter rooks,
And the picture story-books.

Another autumn lovely, a plant that just keeps blooming: "Hot Lips"

Another autumn wonder, a plant that has bloomed continually since August: “Hot Lips” (seriously!)

Water now is turned to stone
Nurse and I can walk upon;
Still we find the flowing brooks
In the picture story-books.

All the pretty things put by,
Wait upon the children’s eye,
Sheep and shepherds, trees and crooks,
In the picture story-books.

We may see how all things are
Seas and cities, near and far,
And the flying fairies’ looks,
In the picture story-books.

How am I to sing your praise,
Happy chimney-corner days,
Sitting safe in nursery nooks,
Reading picture story-books?


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