Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Story Hop


Grand Prize: $100 Amazon Gift Certificate!

Please join us in the celebration of our Lord and Savior, and rejoice with us our favorite Christmas movies and join us on a progressive Christmas story hop.

Here’s how it works:
  1. Go to each blog in the order that is listed below.
  2. Read the first section of the story. Then follow the link to the next section of the story.
  3. At each blog, comment to get entered in both the Grand Prize drawing ($100 Amazon Gift Card) and to be entered in each author’s individual drawing. Your comments can be about the story. Or you can tell us your favorite Christmas songs or movies or books. You can also tweet and like us on Facebook to be entered multiple times.
Feel free to browse each author’s bookshelf.

Comment on this blog and you will receive a FREE autographed, paperback copy of "Beyond Hope" or a FREE e-book download of "Beyond Hope" from Smashwords, whichever you prefer! I love Smashwords because readers can download novels in multiple formats. 

Blogs to visit for the Progressive Christmas Story, "A Christmas to Remember", should be visited in the order listed below:
  1.    Gloria Harchar
  2.    Emerald Barnes
  3.    Bonnie Blythe
  4.    Anita Green
  5.    Marian Merritt
  6.    Rich Bullock
  7.    Dawn Turner

My Favorite Christmas Songs

It's that time of year again. No matter where you go, there it is. Christmas music. If you're like me, by the time Christmas rolls around, you're so sick of most of it, you could puke. But I'll bet you're like me and have your favorites, too. Those songs you can listen to all year long and never get sick of them. (If only they were all so palatable over the long haul, eh? he he)

Two of my favorites are relatively new. The third is very traditional and has multiple renditions in several languages.

The traditional one that hits me deep is O Holy Night. I don't think anyone sings it as well as Nat King Cole did. What strikes me about this song is how beautifully it reveals what Christ came to do for us as well as how we should respond to His precious gift (fall on our knees and raise our voices in joyful praise).


The two songs I absolutely adore that aren't traditional Christmas songs but exemplify the meaning of the season are "Mary, Did You Know" and "Joseph's Song".


People have spent centuries speculating and talking about the kind of young woman Mary was that God chose her to be the mother of the Christ child. The Bible reveals her humble servant heart. The type of heart every single last one of us is supposed to have. Just think for a moment about the faith and obedience she showed.

But she wasn't the only one. And she isn't the only one I've often wondered about.

Have you ever thought about what kind of man God chose to raise His Son? Joseph was just as important in Jesus' life in many ways as Mary was. Think about the faith and obedience he exhibited, not to mention the love he must have had for Mary.


God worked through two humble, obedient people with incredible faith. It's amazing when you read scripture how often God chose the lowly of society to do incredible things. He chose a young virgin with a servant's heart to be mother to Jesus. He chose a humble carpenter to be Jesus' father. He chose a shepherd named David to be the king of His nation Israel. Jesus chose fishermen and tax collectors to share His message with a lost world.

As we think about the incredible gift God gave us by coming in the flesh to sacrifice Himself for our sins, how joyful and obedient is your heart? And who would He have you reach out to and share His love with?

So, what's your favorite song and why?

If you haven't yet read "A Christmas to Remember", check it out!

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Saturday, December 8, 2012

I SO Wanted to Scream...

Yep. Just like that. I SO understand.
Photo courtesy of slowpoke on morguefile.com
But I restrained myself. Barely. Doesn't mean I wasn't doing a lot of grumbling, not to mention outright declaring MS Word an idiot though.  *G*

Took me nearly 24 hours of working, re-working and re-working yet again, but I finally got "Beyond Hope" properly formatted so it uploaded to Smashwords and worked properly. So, as of Wednesday, December 5th, "Beyond Hope" is now available in all e-book formats as well as paperback.

What took so long, you might ask?

Well, I'll tell you.

Smashwords has a very long, very detailed document ("Style Guide" I believe is what they call it) that explains all the things you need to do to make sure the document format for your book is correct for uploading so it converts to the various e-book formats properly. The step that ended up trying to hang me was the "Normal" versus other paragraph formats.

Smashwords warns that if the "Normal" paragraph style is different from what you overwrite it with (such as highlighting text and changing it to TNR-13), the hidden "Normal" settings may rear their ugly little heads when the file is converted for e-book purposes.

Ain't it the truth!

I was at a loss to understand why I had text popping back and forth between Times New Roman and Arial fonts, as well as appearing in different sizes. I checked everything I could think of, but nada. I finally gave up and went to bed that night.

I woke up the next morning with the answer. Sort of. I tried reformatting the entire document in case I'd missed something before. (Which incidentally is how I started this whole fiasco anyway, so I couldn't have missed anything. But you never know.) Tried uploading again and checked the format of the EPUB file. Doh! Still not fixed. In fact, not a single thing had changed. Argh!

Just as I was ready to give up and call in more knowledgeable reinforcements, it hit me. Of course! Check the base format of the "Normal" paragraph style. Ha ha! Got you!

Unbeknownst to me, and Lord alone knows when or how it happened, the "Normal" paragraph style had gotten changed in my version of MS Word. It was no longer Times New Roman, 12 point. It had shifted to Arial, 12 point.

I fixed that then highlighted the affected text in chapter 1 and selected "Normal" style. Viola! Once I knew for sure chapter 1 was fixed, I fixed the remaining chapters scene by scene (so I didn't have to redo the formats for chapter headings and scene breaks). Now, I was coasting.

Uploaded the new file and checked the EPUB. Doh! Then the entire text of chapter 1 was a smaller font than the entire rest of the book!  How in the world did that happen? I have no clue. So I highlighted the text of chapter 1, hit "Normal" again, and prayed it worked.

And it did! Yes! So, "Beyond Hope" is now available online in ALL e-book formats. Woohoo! (UPDATE 02/06/2015 - e-books for Beyond Hope has been removed from Smashwords and Barnes & Noble. It is currently only available for Kindle.)

Amazing what happens when those hidden things are revealed.

And you know what? It occurred to me there's a spiritual lesson in that. How often do we have "hidden things" in our lives that don't appear in one context (such as a paperback novel) but are revealed in a HUGE way in another (such as an EPUB file)? We try to deal with the outward signs (like those wonky font and text size changes) without actually getting to the root of the problem (like the base format of the "Normal" paragraph style). Until we deal with the root cause of the problem, we end up getting annoyed and frustrated like I did. I've been there, and I'm not just talking about writing.

Hm. God really can use anything to teach us, can't He?

So what kind of frustrations have you faced lately that God has used to teach you something? It could be something new or something He just revealed in a different light. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Where's Your "Wall"?

Photo courtesy of ccmackay
@ morguefile.com
No, I'm not talking about your Facebook wall.  *G*

We writers all have a "wall". I was talking recently to another writer about it. She compared writing to running a long distance marathon. At some point, when running (or even walking), you hit a wall, that point where you just KNOW you can't go any further. You need to quit.

Photo courtesy of click
@ morguefile.com

The "wall" in writing is, as I've discovered, that certain word count or range we have to reach before we can finally get our minds into the writing groove and things flow the way they should. And it's seldom child's play. Sometimes the story helps. Sometimes it gets stubborn and pushes back.

My "wall" is right around 1,500 words. Sometimes I'll get a few hundred words in, or even 1,200 or 1,300 words in, and think "That's it. I'm done. I can't go any further. I just don't have what it takes." Just like a marathon runner. BUT, just like a marathon runner, if I can keep going, push past that wall of "I'm done", I get a second wind, get into the rhythm and flow of the story, and I can generally go for hundreds or even thousands of words without stopping.

Sometimes, getting TO that 1,500 word point is a special form of torture. I eke them out a half dozen words at a time, maybe one or two hundred at a time if I'm lucky. But they come slow. If I quit before I reach that 1,500, it can be hours or even days or weeks before I pick up my writing again due to discouragement or simple lack of "inspiration." If I discipline myself to plant my butt in my chair and push the words until I reach that point, the flow suddenly breaks free and the story generally writes itself.

"But pushing makes for stilted writing," you may say? Well, yes, it often does. But who publishes their first draft anyway? All of us writers edit what we write. We all have to refine and deepen our stories beyond what we get with the first draft. So anything that's stilted can be remedied then. So the problem with the first draft having stilted sections is what exactly? (Take a hike, perfectionism.)

The benefit to pushing through the wall?  I have 1,500 words I wouldn't have had before, plus whatever comes afterwards that flows so nice and easy. And I don't allow the fact I'm sick, tired or simply not inspired to stop my writing in it's tracks. This is how I can have a good day with over 7,500 words written. If I let the wall win, I'm lucky to have 1,000.

There's one fact to writing. Writers write. We write when we're well, sick, happy, sad, wide awake, tired, inspired or totally uninspired. We write. Period.

(By the way, for those who are curious after my post from last week - I did finish my NaNovel on the morning of the 24th with just over 80K words written in November. I decided not to stop there since I'd set aside November to write and started a new novel the evening of the 24th. I certainly didn't have time in November to finish it, but I made some wonderful progress on it.)

So where's your "wall"? And how often do you let it win? Have you found any tactics, like many marathon runners seem to, that help you push past it? (Thanks again, Terri, for the perfect analogy!)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Down to the Wire

Well, we're moving into the last week of November, and for many like myself, that means the final week of NaNoWriMo. One thing this past month has shown me is just how much I can accomplish even when my life goes totally topsy-turfy for a week or so in the middle of something like this.

A good chunk of the second full week resulted in very little being written. Thankfully, I anticipated that those days would be hectic with little, if any, time to write, so I powered ahead during the first 12 days to get as far ahead as possible. I managed to hit 50K on the 13th. Woohoo! But I wasn't done there.

My actual goal for November is to write the entire book, not just 50K of it. As of last night, I had reached nearly 80,000 words and counting for the month. I've got just the epilogue left to write and this project is done. Then I have the next project ready to start.

I knew from past experience than I can, indeed, write an entire novel in a month.  I've done it twice (and one of those months, I wrote a novel AND a novella and really shocked myself).  I just need the hours to sit in front of the computer and make myself do it!

Photo courtesy of wax115
@ morguefile.com


I'm closing in on my goal. How are you doing with yours?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful for God's Provision

The things I’m thankful for are numerous. My cup truly runneth over. But the top 5?
  1. For God’s love and faithfulness, even when I fail at both. He never gives up, even when I’m a total screw-up. And He loves me enough to offer correction and not leave me floundering on the wrong path.
  2. My husband of 19.5 years. We’ve been through a great deal together over the years, and our relationship grows in strength and love each year. It doesn’t get any better than that.
  3. For a small but faithful group of true friends and a wonderful family who love me enough to help me walk the narrow path. They’ll even give me a good strong nudge if I wander off it rather than “spare her feelings” and not be honest with me. Thank you for them, Lord.
  4. For the gift of writing. With my physical issues, it not only saves my sanity and provides wonderful therapy, it has given me a ministry I probably never would have chosen for myself had I been fit and physically active.
  5. For answers to so many prayers over the years, and God’s faithfulness in answering prayers, even when I ask the wrong questions.
 Lord, I thank you for the many blessings You continue to bestow.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I Miss Writing

This past week has been completely nuts! I haven't been able to sit down for long, much less had the time and energy to write like I normally do. My word counts for Monday through Saturday of this past week certainly reflect that, as does the fact I completely spaced my blog for the first time in a while.

I've been amazed by just how much I've missed it. (My body isn't real happy about the lack of down time either.)  I hadn't realized just how much I thrive on my ability to spend two or more hours a day at the keyboard if I want and pour out the ideas that seem to constantly stream through my head. I've been so tired that ideas have been in rather short supply though, so even if I had time to write as much as I usually do, the mental energy hasn't been there.

Thankfully, I made my 50K goal for NaNoWriMo earlier in the week, thanks to a tremendous push to get it done since I knew life was about to get like this.  However, I'd really like to get that book completely written this month.  Probably not going to happen unless I really get moving once I have the hours and mental energy again.  We'll see how that goes.

I know what comes next in my book, but the words just aren't there right now even if the hours were. HOPEFULLY that will change in a couple more days.  I really want to get back to writing.

What about you?  Do you miss writing when life pulls you in different directions?
Photo courtesy of pdell @ morguefile.com

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Push... Push... Push...

Photo courtesy of Melodi2
@ morguefile.com
No, I'm not giving birth. Though in some ways, it feels similar. The creative process can be a matter of push, push, push to get the words out, to meet those deadlines or goals. (Thankfully without the pain of childbirth.)

We're now the second weekend into NaNoWriMo. I'm thrilled with how I'm doing so far. I've bypassed my early self-set goal, and I'm rapidly closing in on the 50K win. After that comes the push toward my REAL goal for the month - finish the entire book. If I go true to form, that means a total this month of 80-90K. Will I make it? Only the Lord knows! But I'm sure gonna shoot for it.

And when all else fails, I'm gonna
Pray
Until
Something
Happens

How are you doing with reaching your goal for November, whether self-set or for NaNoWriMo? Are you happy with the progress you're making? If not, and you haven't given up, what are you doing to try to fix that?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

My Favorite NaNoWriMo "Game"

Photo courtesy of JessicaCooper1321 on morguefile.com
Word Prompts. I only this year discovered them, but man, are they ever fun! Many WriMos know exactly what I'm talking about. But for those of you who don't, let me explain.

Each day someone posts a "Word Prompt" in the NaNo forums - i.e. they post a word you're to use in writing that day. You write a scene, or a piece of a scene, using that word then share on the forums how many words you wrote and how long it took. You can also share what you wrote if you feel so inclined. Many of us do.

This generally starts at the beginning of October. Since NaNoWriMo doesn't officially start until November 1st, I decided to try the October WPs and use them to write parts of other unfinished projects. (I don't start working on my November project until November 1st.)

I wrote nearly 9,800 words in the month of October. And that's just writing 21 bits and pieces (okay, some of them are more like CHUNKS) of 8 different projects. 4 fantasy and 4 inspirational contemporary romance. The smallest bit was only 59 words long, written in 2 minutes. The biggest chunk was 1,002 words, written in 30 minutes. Progress is progress, so I couldn't be more happy.

Here's a sample of what I did in October. This was for the Oct. 14th Word Prompt. The word to use was "collapse". 463 words written in 18 minutes. This scene is from a fantasy project I have in the works called "The Curse of the Kalamar". The excerpt below is exactly how it's shared on the NaNo forum, unedited and a bit rough. I've since edited it.
         “Psst.”
        Alaina turned over and reached for Jarn, but the other side of the bed was vacant and cold. She pushed up onto her elbows and looked around. He stood at the foot of the bed with a secretive smile on his face barely revealed by the fire’s light.
        “Come on. I want to show you something,” he whispered. “But be quiet. We don’t want to wake the others.”
        She pulled her shift over her head then reached for her cloak.
        He stilled her hand. “You won’t need that. It’s warm outside.”
        “But I thought it was snowing.”
        “It’s passed. That’s what I want to show you.” He gave a light tug on her fingers. “Come on.”
        Alaina smiled and followed him on bare feet, her hand tucked in his. She glanced back at the others as Jarn opened the cabin door. They slept on undisturbed. She smiled then followed Jarn outside. She drew up short in surprise as he closed the door behind them.
        Not only had the snow stopped, it had melted away. Green grass stood almost knee high around the cabin. The leaves had already returned to the trees, green, rich, rustling faintly in a warm breeze that delicately touched her face. She closed her eyes and relished the feel of it.
        “Come on.”
        “There’s more?”
        “You’ll see.” He grinned boyishly. Something she’d never seen him do.
        A shiver of trepidation rippled to the surface. She hesitated as he stepped into the grass. He glanced back, freezing mid-stride.
        “What is it?”
        “I’m not sure.” She shook her head. “Maybe nothing.”
        “Well, come on then.” His grip tightened around her hand, but he didn’t pull. His smile remained warm.
        She nodded and stepped off the small porch. The grass felt warm and soft under her feet.
        He led her through the trees to a clearing before stepping to one side to unblock her view of the meadow. Her breath caught. Flowers of every color imaginable pointed their blooms toward the sun. The breeze created gentle waves like gentle ripples on a pond.
        “It’s beautiful,” she whispered.
        He smiled, looked pleased with her response.
        Biting cold worked outward from her bones. The sun fell dark. Warmth faded. Colors disappeared, becoming various shades of gray. Alaina watched flowers give way to a floor of deep snow. Grass became snow drifts.
        “Jarn?”
        He had vanished like a puff of smoke. She turned in place, shivering. No trace. Only one set of footprints led through the snow to the point where she stood. Hers.
        “Jarn?” She cried out and started back the way they had come. She couldn’t feel her feet. In fact, she realized with alarm that she couldn’t feel any of her extremities.
        She stumbled over something buried under the snow and collapsed.
I ended up writing the scene that immediately follows this one for the next day's prompt - 15th, word "prostrate". It worked perfectly. Both scenes have been edited and added to the book's file. What could be better than a game that's actually constructive?!?!  ;-)

Then there's this excerpt from one of my inspirational contemporary romances, with a working title of "Marrying Mr. Wright". 518 words in 12 minutes, written in response to the Word Prompt for Oct. 3rd - word was "art". Again, this is unedited and in rough draft form:

Ben watched Amber’s blue gaze travel the room. He mentally stepped back and looked at it, trying to see it through her eyes. It looked downright shabby actually. Paint had faded and was even peeling off the wall and trim in places. The furnishings were scarred and worn. Wood surfaces needed stripping, sanding and re-staining. Upholstery was unsalvageable, and he wasn’t even sure the furniture itself was worth keeping. Dust coated every surface. Dirt streaked the floors from doorway to doorway, marring carpet older than him.
He winced. Why hadn’t he noticed how bad the place looked? He wasn’t sure he even wanted to take a look at the outside of the house come morning light. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d even paid attention to the condition of things out there.
“I’m sorry about the house,” he said after a long silence.
“Why?” She stepped further into the room, her gaze on the mantle with peeling paint. Then she turned to him with a warm smile. “You said it needed work. This place looks to have great bones. All it needs is some TLC, and it could be a really nice place.”
Really? He looked around then shook his head. He had no idea what she was talking about. “You’re serious.”
“Of course, I am.”
Carrie and Heather came through the front door then stopped dead in their tracks, their gazes widening as they took in the room. He waited for the horror to manifest. Instead, they both grinned.
“Oh, boy, project!” A gleeful smile accompanied Carrie’s declaration.
“This place sure has a lot of potential,” Heather said, her gaze reflecting the same eagerness as those of her friends.
What was with these women? Any normal woman would take one look and run so far, so fast, she’d be at the Lodge in Yellowstone before a car could drive her there.
“Ben, there’s something you should know.” Amber crossed the room to stand in front of him. She waved a hand toward her friends with a grin. “What you see before you is a three-woman remodeling crew. We love to take rooms and buildings with good bones and bring out the potential in them. That’s how we’ve kept a roof over our heads all the way through college. I can’t tell you how many places we’ve remodeled over the last four years.”
“The last one made ten,” Carrie supplied.
“Really?” Ben’s eyebrows shot up.
“Yep. I do the art-related stuff such as paint choices, tile colors, carpet and the like. Carrie is our carpenter and tile worker. Heather is gifted with furnishings and spatial planning. And all three of us make one unbelievable demolition squad.” Her grin turned mischievous.
He wasn’t sure that was something to brag about, but he’d have to trust them on it. He couldn’t exactly rescind the offer to remodel his house. He’d have to back out of the engagement to do that. And he most definitely couldn’t do that. He wasn’t sure what consequences God would allow for such an act of disobedience, but he’d just as soon not find out.
There's no time limit on Word Prompts. You can take as little or as much time as you want. You can write as little or as much as you want, as long as you use the prompt in question. I haven't written them in order either. I didn't finally decide to try the Word Prompt games until the 16th of October. I've kept a running list of them and just mark them off as I do them.

So, WriMos, have you checked out the NaNo games? If so, what's YOUR favorite NaNo game?  If not, what's holding you back from giving them a shot?

-----------------------------------
BTW, as an unrelated aside, for those of you who liked my Introvert-related post, check out this video - The Value of Introverts and Extroverts.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Confessions of a Deranged Writer

Photo courtesy of irkengirdib
@ morguefile.com
Okay, admit it. I'm not the only writer that title suits. he he

For those of you who know me, you can admit how weird and more than a little crazy I tend to be. It's okay. I've often thought the same thing myself ABOUT myself.

For those of you who don't know me, hang around. Get to know me. I'm sure you'll soon agree with those who've known me for years.

As I tell people - "My brain is a scary place to live." ;-)

Which brings us to - confession time.

Confession #1 - I am a "pantser". Some prefer to call writers such as myself "intuitive" or "organic" because they aren't too keen on the "pantser" title. Call it whatever you will, I don't particularly care. None of the titles bother me in the least. For me, the title is one of those "A rose by any other name" situations. The title doesn't change how I work. I write by the seat of my pants, totally on the fly and with very little preparation beforehand.

I have no use for outlining prior to starting a project. I find the very act stifling to my creativity. I know "plotters" thrive on having a properly developed and fleshed out outline (though how developed and fleshed out seems to vary greatly from one writer to the next). More power to them, and I'll cheer for them and offer encouragement as they work on their outlines. It just ain't for me. I'd rather have a root canal than try to write that way again, and I'm only being partially facetious. Yeah, I hated it that bad.

As far as a synopsis? Yep. Familiar with those. That's the summary you write AFTER the book is written. (I can hear some "plotters" disagreeing with that statement. he he)

Oh, and just for the record - me and summaries? Not the best of friends. Summarizing an entire book in a single page doesn't come easy to me. So I'm still working on wrapping my head around that process.

Confession #2 - As a result of Confession #1, I rarely know how a story will end before I reach that final chapter. In fact, I rarely know what will happen in chapter 2 while I'm writing chapter 1. I find out when I get there, and it's not unusual for me to start writing a chapter, thinking it's going to go one way only to have it suddenly shift and go a completely unexpected direction (usually related to Confession #5).

Confession #3 - I research as I write. Research before I start a fiction project is rather pointless from my point of view, not to mention generally a waste of time. I don't know what exact details I'll need until I write that story. In the past, I've been a good little writer (at least in some people's opinion) and done an inordinate amount of research before I started a project, only to get a short way into the project and realize I needed details my previous research didn't provide. Which meant, of course, more research. So I research on the fly and seek the details I actually need at the time I need them. Works out beautifully and saves me countless hours researching information I end up not needing.

Confession #4 - The one thing I know when I start writing is my characters, and I continue to learn more about them as I write. I let them drive the story, and sometimes they take me on an incredibly wild, exciting ride. Who needs roller-coasters or other nausea-inducing adrenaline pumpers? All I need is a good cast of characters and ideas for a few situations to throw at them to keep their lives interesting. They do the rest.

Confession #5 - I sometimes argue with my characters. Yes, I know how that sounds. But when I want them to do one thing and they balk and want to do something else, we argue. They usually win. The last time that happened, I argued with my heroine for a full 2 hours. She won. Nothing more humbling than losing an argument with a fictional character. he he

Confession #6 - I lose sleep over the life of fictional characters. Seriously! It is common (and in fact, frequently occurs) that I go to bed exhausted, thinking my muse has gotten impatient with my late night writing and gone to bed without me, only to have a scene suddenly start running through my head the moment it hits the pillow. grrrr So I have to get up, power up the laptop or grab a pen and paper, and write that scene. I've done upwards of 1K in a half hour or so in the middle of the night, knowing if I don't get up and do it then, it'll have eluded me by morning.

Confession #7 - I LOVE NaNoWriMo! The challenge of meeting that one-month deadline in writing 50K spurs me to push myself, stretch those writing and thinking mental muscles, and I get to interact with other writers around the world and find out I'm not really so weird after all. What's not to like? I know there are those out there who would poo-poo and even flat out devalue and denigrate NaNoWriMo, but I ignore them. Just because they see no value in NaNoWriMo for them personally doesn't mean there's no value in it for others. For some of us, tremendous value in fact. The enjoyment of interacting with other writers alone is worth having! Throw in the writing itself, and WOOHOO!

For the same reason, I enjoy ACFW's Novel Tracks (Writing and Editing). Though I set my own goals for those, setting a goal spurs me to work harder than I would otherwise. And in the process, I get to interact with other Christian authors.

So, do I feel bad about any of these? Not on your life. My way of writing may not work for others, but it works great for me.

So be you "pantser", "plotter" or something in between, what confessions do you have to make? Have you figured out where you fit on that spectrum yet? If not, what are you doing to figure out what kind of writer you are and how best you work?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Ready or Not, Here It Comes!

Photo courtesy of taliesin on morgueFile.com
It's said only two things are certain in this life - death and taxes. That's not exactly true. There's a third absolute certainty no one escapes.

Change.

Change comes. Like it or not. Ready or not. It comes. Every single person on the planet faces it.

Life is not stagnant. It's ever-changing, ever-shifting, which means we're ever-changing and ever-adjusting, whether we realize it or not. Even the slow creep of age hits us all and brings its own changes and challenges.

Sometimes, change is good. The birth of a child. A new job. A squirming, playful new puppy. Marriage to your beloved. The arrival of spring after a long, cold winter. The start of the summer rains. Or, as an author, one of your books being published.

Sometimes, it's not so good. Loss of a loved one. Losing a job to downsizing. Foreclosure of your home. A very dear friend moving away. Loss of health or ability. Having to walk away from a well-loved hobby. A publisher you've worked closely with closing their doors and leaving you floundering.

If you notice, all of those involve loss in some way or another.

We don't tend to lament change when it's good, even if it causes stress. Like the adjustments to life that a new child or bringing a new puppy home requires. Or the mega-huge adjustments getting married brings. Although, most aren't too keen on "spring cleaning". he he

When the circumstances of the change aren't so good, we tend to have a very different response. We whine, groan, cry, grieve, rage and/or go into depression. Or just try to pretend nothing is going on - go about our day putting one foot in front of the other and keep ourselves too busy to stop long enough to face whatever the change is. And no two people deal with change exactly the same way.

The key to remember when facing change, no matter how difficult?

GOD IS IN CONTROL.

Even when we know a change is in God's control and He won't allow anything without a purpose and a reason, it's still hard. As human beings, we go through the emotional process even if we're trusting the Lord. Trusting God with a loss doesn't make that loss magically go away. It just makes it more bearable and assures us that it's not random happenstance.

It's hard sometimes to keep focused on God's will and God's work when we don't like the changes He's allowing in our lives. I'm going through this right now - struggling to stay focused and do what's right in God's eyes even as I grieve. It ain't easy. The human part of me wants very much to be angry, hurt and rail against God and a few folks along the way. But I know that's not how He wants me to deal with it.

Change isn't easy. Neither is the grief that so often comes with it. But at least we don't have to walk that journey alone. We may not see Him, but the Lord is always there.

... and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. 
Matt. 28:20 (NASB)

His unwavering presence is certainly what's getting me through these days. I've had some major changes thrown into my life of late, and I hate them! I'll be flat-out, dead honest about that.

But I decided I have three choices:
  1. I can sit around feeling sorry for myself (yeah, I want to do that).
  2. I can rage about how unfair it is (um, yeah, kinda want to do that, too, some days).
  3. Or I can put on my big girl pants and accept God's will and plan in these matters (did I mention I actually DON'T want to do that?).

The former two won't change matters. The change has come and will come regardless of how grown-up (or not) I act about it. So, I figure it's less stressful to be a grown-up and go with the flow. Even if I don't like it. At least I'm not facing any of it alone, and I'm not grieving alone. Others grieve with me, and the Lord is always there.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 
Matt. 5:4 (NASB)

So what changes are you currently facing? Are they good or bad? Are you dealing with them the way you'd like? Are you letting the One who loves you most see you through?

And for you writers - is it affecting your ability to write? Affecting the writing itself if you ARE writing your way through it?

Photo courtesy of hotblack on morgueFile.com

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tools of the Trade

I get asked fairly frequently about what software I use when writing. I used to write using MS Word. Exclusively. Until I found something WAY better.

I participated in NaNoWriMo in 2011 and heard about one of their sponsors - Write Way Pro. I chose to try out their free 30-day demo then bought it 2 weeks into the trial. LOVE IT! I don't miss writing in Word at all. WWP was designed specifically for writers and has all kinds of really cool tools built into it. And the price was great!

Don't get me wrong. I still use Word from time to time. But it's more of a weigh station now. I no longer use it for writing.

Along with using WWP, I also heard on the ACFW Loop about a handy-dandy freebie edit helper called Smart Edit.  You can't ask for better than free, right? I've got it customized to help me edit manuscripts. It flags things I want flagged, ignores things I want ignored, and in general helps me deal with some of my writing weaknesses (like overuse of the words "briefly" and "quickly" for some unknown reason). - UPDATE, this program is no longer available for FREE. It's been upgraded and now carries a cost.

Write Way Pro and Smart Edit are my choices. There are other options out there as well. Scrivener and YWriter come to mind. YWriter is a free software download available in a variety of places online. For those on a really tight budget, it may be right up your alley.

I've heard very positive things about Scrivener. Like WWP, Scrivener offers a free trial so you can check out the software and see if it's to your liking. Apparently there are some great tutorials for Scrivener on YouTube, so it should be very easy to learn for most people.

If you're a writer looking for writing software, I highly recommend downloading the free trial versions of these softwares. Try them out, see which one suits you the best. Then get writing!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Almost That Time Again!

November 1st is coming fast. And with it comes NaNoWriMo! Woohoo!!!

For those of you who don't know what that is, or what all the excitement is about, NaNoWriMo is short for "National Novel Writer's Month".  It's an annual event that takes place in November.  Over the course of the 30 days of November, writers from all over the world get together, virtually speaking, to write their hearts out to reach the 50,000 word goal.

50,000 words in 30 days may sound unreasonable or out of reach, but it's do-able for many people with some dedication and self-discipline.  That actually comes to 1,667 words per day.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who writes more than that in emails each day.  he he

I'm hoping to add a widget to my blog as we get closer to the 1st so others can watch my progress if they feel so inclined.  (Just waiting for the widgets to be updated to 2012.)  If you're a fellow WriMo, find me on the NaNo site as userID "xandert" and we can be writing buddies.

So, are YOU up to the challenge of NaNoWriMo?  If so, join in the fun!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

God Made Me An Introvert

Photo courtesy of jkt_de.
Have you ever been made to feel defective because God made you an introvert in an extroverted world? I sure have. I've been told I need to "get out more", be more "sociable", stop being so quiet in a public setting. You say it, I've probably heard it.

And just for the record, being introverted doesn't have anything to do with being AFRAID of people or social situations. Yeah, I've heard that one, too. Fear/phobia is a whole different ball of wax from being an introvert. Fear is SO totally fixable. I'm not talking about that.

For a while, I actually listened to such ignorant advice, thought they were right about there being something wrong with me. In the process, I didn't honor the way God made ME. It cost me dearly in terms of health, though I really didn't understand why at the time. Recently, the answer to that "why" has come to light.

Science is showing that the brains of introverts and extroverts are actually hard-wired differently. There are differences in the way our brains handle acetylcholine and dopamine (two important neurotransmitters) as well as the workings of the blood supply. Don't fret or fear. I won't go into a full-blown science lesson about it, though I am tempted since science was my first love and probably will remain so for the rest of my life.

Introversion isn't about temperament, personality, or fear as some like to accuse. God actually made introverts PHYSICALLY different from extroverts. He made us unique. Imagine that!

Being an introvert affects every area of my life, including writing.

Normally, social settings with large numbers of people make me a nervous wreck. The longer I have to be in them, the worse my nervous system reacts. Needless to say, being a true introvert on top of having neurological issues, I don't like crowds. I end up jittery for hours. NOW I understand it's because of the dopamine overload crowds cause in the brain. (Something extroverts thrive on, but introverts suffer under.) Worst I ever had, I couldn't sleep for three days because my nervous system got so overcharged. Sounds like fun, right? Not! Because of the accompanying jitters, I couldn't even use the time constructively. Talk about annoying. If I can't sleep, I at least want to get something accomplished.

In small groups, and one-on-one, I'm perfectly fine. In fact, I thrive in those environments, particularly with people I actually have things in common with. I don't have many close friends, but the real friendships I establish run very deep. I'm definitely a quality over quantity type of mentality when it comes to relationships.

A couple of interesting sources of information are:

So I've learned to work with the way God designed me. Instead of going against the flow, I work WITH my body and the hard-wiring of my brain. I no longer try to force myself to fit a social mold made by others who simply don't "get it" that God doesn't intend for all of us to be social butterflies and people-people (couldn't help myself). Society most definitely needs its share of those, but I'm not one of them. And that's okay.

As an introvert, I spend a lot of time in my own head. I think a LOT. About myself, the world around me, my faith, "what if" scenarios, you name it. I'm also an absolute research nut (not something common to all introverts). I'm a deep thinker and couldn't stop myself from doing it even if my life depended on it. I also have a very active imagination. All of that translates into an avid love of reading and writing.

Interestingly, writing in some social settings can actually be good for me (I know other introverts who can't do what I do). I have learned to channel the energy it creates in my brain in a constructive way. Being creative and in my own head, so to speak, buffers the dopamine-producing effect of being in a crowd if I write. I can control the effect crowds have on me to some degree plus use it constructively. If I have the opportunity, that is. It's not feasible in every situation.

So, is there anything wrong with me being an introvert? Not on your life. And I no longer let people make me feel defective or broken because I'm not an extrovert like them. Society needs us introverts as much as it needs extroverts. The church does as well. We are merely different, neither better nor worse than the other.

God made me this way for a reason, and a purpose. I consider introversion to be one of the gifts, just like the talents and spiritual gifts God has given me, that make me a unique creation.

Are you an introvert? Do others make comments or ignorant judgments that make you feel damaged? Don't listen. Find peace in who you are in Christ, in the incredible creation God has made you to be. Let go of your fears, insecurities and brokenness, including the ones that come from people judging you for being born an introvert. And remember. They don't know any better.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:10)

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, embrace the freedom He promises, including the freedom to appreciate your God-given talents and gifts, including those inborn ones like introversion/extroversion. Be who God has created and gifted you to be, serve the purpose He had in mind for your life before you were ever born. Don't let the ignorance of the world keep you in bondage.

Are YOU honoring God by being the person He created you to be?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Writing Lessons of 2012 - Pt 2

Photo courtesy of Jade on morguefile.com
Last time, I shared what I've been up to over the course of about the last year as far as writing and editing. So what has all this writing, editing and tracking madness taught me, you may wonder. Well, here it is in a nutshell:

1 - I'm capable of far more than I ever dreamed possible. I've spent years selling myself short, doubting myself and my abilities. The Lord has used the last year to show me He's gifted me far above what I ever imagined. But, I have to choose to utilize those gifts. He won't make me do it. But you know what? I'm much happier, content and at peace when I go with His flow instead of my own.

2 - Stretching is a good thing, regardless of the outcome. Being stretched isn't all that comfortable, particularly when we aren't sure about the outcome. Will we succeed? Or will we fail? If you're anything like me, going into something without knowing you can have victory over it can be a very scary thing. But if we don't try, and risk failure in the process, we go nowhere. If we stretch and fail, did we make progress? I bet we did, and we probably learned some stuff in the process. So stretch for that goal even if it feels just out of reach.

3 - I need to be kinder to myself. I tend to set way more reasonable goals for others than I do for myself. In fact, the goals I've often set for myself weren't just unreasonable, they were often unattainable. Funny contradiction to what I wrote above, isn't it? Not really. At least, those of you who are perfectionists probably recognize the dichotomy of ideas there. (See my posting about Flylady and writing if you're curious about more on this.) It's okay to set a goal and give myself permission to not meet it. If I don't make my writing or editing goal for any given month, the world won't end.

Come to think of it, if the world does end because I don't make my goal, YAY!!! I'd certainly trade this life for eternity with the Lord. Wouldn't you?

4 - I put this last, but it's hardly the least important. In fact, it's a doozy.

I work best if I work WITH my body and brain instead of against it. Not exactly a startling revelation, I know. But maybe not as obvious as you would expect. Sure, I have to make sure I get up and move around when I write a lot, or my back and shoulders get REALLY unhappy about too many hours in front of the computer. And I have to make sure I don't get so involved with my writing that I forget to eat, go the bathroom, get things to drink, etc. You know. All those mundane things life requires. But I'm talking about more than that.

With all the writing I've done in the last year as a result of ACFW's Novel Track, NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo, I've noticed definite patterns and trends to the way I work. Not just to writing or editing, but when I do best with both. I have struggled with Seasonal Affective Disorder (aka S.A.D.) for a good portion of my life. (Contrary to popular belief, yes, you can struggle with this even in sunny Arizona, depending on the severity of the case. I don't even want to think about living with it in less sunny climates. It's bad enough as it is in Arizona, thank you very much.) As a result, I've spent many years dreading the onset of winter with the shorter days of sunlight. As I tell people, "Winter and I are not friends."

But I think this winter will be different because the last year has taught me something valuable. I do my best, and most productive, writing during the winter months. Who knew!?!? I've realized with all the tracking I've done this past year that my creativity flows much stronger and clearer during the winter. Summer? Bah! Oh, I can write during the summer, as proved by two successful Camp NaNo adventures. But it's not the same. In winter, the ideas flow fast, easy and feel like a flood at times like opening a faucet fully. In summer, it more resembles pulling teeth. With a spoon and no anesthesia. June, I struggled. July, I took a break (sort of anyway). August, I struggled.

Here's the interesting thing. Only writing is a struggle in summer. Editing is no problem. The opposite is true in winter. Editing in winter feels like trudging through half-frozen mud.

Which brings me back around to the S.A.D.

S.A.D. affects brain function and the brain's use of neurotransmitters and such. It's not there just in winter, as is commonly believed. It's there all year-round, affecting different parts of the brain at different times of the year. My brain shifts gears with changes in the seasons. When it does so, things that are easy part of the year became hard in another part. So writing in winter? Easy. Writing in summer? Hard. Editing in winter? Hard. Editing in summer? Easy. I'm not saying it doesn't require work when something is "easy". Anyone who has ever written knows even when the ideas really flow, it's work. But it's nowhere near as difficult to get it done when they're flowing as it is when you have to drag them out the rooms of your mind kicking and screaming.

This is what the last year has taught me, above and beyond everything else. My brain is hard-wired a certain way. And I need to learn to go with the flow, work WITH the cycles of my body instead of against it. God created me this way. Though at times I'm baffled by this and wonder what He was thinking, He knows best. I just have to accept it and learn to roll with it.

So what have I learned this year? To recognize the gifted woman God has made me to be and appreciate His wisdom in making me the way He has, even if it doesn't make much sense to me at times. To be more patient with myself when I'm unable to make goals or meet my own expectations (particularly if they're unreasonable), but to keep setting goals and stretching for them, even if the outcome isn't what I hoped for.

But more than all of that, for the first time in my life, I'm looking forward to winter. I can hardly wait to see what this coming winter holds as far as writing.

Another photo courtesy of Jade on morguefile.com

So what about you? What have you learned about yourself this past year?

Monday, September 17, 2012

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Program . . .

Sorry. Couldn't help it.  he he

I wanted to share this interview with Eleanor Clark regarding the release of her ebook "Sarah Jane: Liberty Torch". Oh, and just so you know, this book is available for FREE today. Check it out if you can.

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I’m excited to welcome author Eleanor Clark. She is celebrating the release of her e-book, Sarah Jane: Liberty’s Torch. The resounding theme in this book is, “Let Your Light Shine.” Young readers learn to be a good witness in this exciting story, which focuses on the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty. Through the character of Sarah Jane, readers learn to shine brightly.

With that in mind, author Eleanor Clark offers her top five tips for how children can be great witnesses for the Lord.

Let Your Light Shine Tips:

1). Obey your parents. There’s truly no greater way to be a good witness than to be obedient. Letting your light shine begins at home.  When you disobey, it hurts God’s heart and also sets a really bad example for your brothers and sisters. It also sets a really bad example for your friends.

2). Care for others. When your light is shining bright, you will care even more about others than you do yourself. That means you will care when they get sick, when they have a need, when they’re hurting. You will go out of your way to show them how much you care by praying for them and offering to help.

3). Develop a friendship with those who are unfriendly. It’s not always easy, especially when people treat you rudely. Make a decision to be a good witness to them. Go out of your way to be kind, no matter how difficult it might be.

4). When you’re in a tough situation, ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?” If you follow His example, you will always be a good witness.

5). Don’t hide your light under a bushel. In other words, don’t be afraid to let people know that you have a relationship with the Lord. They might make fun of you when they find out you’re a Christian, but if you stand your ground, they will learn to respect you. And who knows. . .you might just lead them to the Lord by setting a good example.

Shine bright for Jesus!

Set in 1886 when the Statue of Liberty was dedicated. Ten-year-old Kimberly Dawn is trying to figure out what it means to "be a good witness," but is quickly discovering it's not as easy as she'd hoped. Her grandmother shares the story of Sara Jane, a youngster from their family who traveled from Pennsylvania to New York to see the Statue of Liberty in the late 1800's. Through the life of this remarkable little girl, Kimberly learns what it means to "let your light shine."

Sarah Jane, Liberty’s Torch is the fourth book in The Eleanor Series. You can find the other three books by following these links:

Here’s how you can stay in touch with Eleanor and learn about her upcoming releases:
Eleanor Series facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheEleanorSeries

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Writing Lessons of 2012 - Pt 1

Photo courtesy of Jade on morguefile.com
That heading makes this sound like I'm going to talk about all the "rules" of writing I've learned about (many of which I've learned to take with a grain of salt), but nope. I've learned some much more valuable lessons in the last year than the "rules" of writing.

First, I'll start with some background. This week and next week, I'll share what all of it has taught me.

It actually started in November 2010. Yes, I said 2010. Two years ago. I found out about the madness of NaNoWriMo. For those of you who don't know about this writing "competition", check it out. It'll either make you nuts or spur you onward in ways you never imagined. Being a WriMo writing a NaNovel is an entirely new adventure, and the forums provide some incredible encouragement, support and contact with other WriMos. But I digress.

I unofficially joined the madness of NaNoWriMo for November 2010. I say "unofficially" because I didn't bother to sign up and actually track my daily counts on the site. I kept track of it unofficially on my own computer. I doubted I'd be able to meet the 50K goal, but I made it with 1K to spare. Imagine my shock. I could actually do it!

So I officially joined the site and eagerly waited for November 2011 to roll around. I had no idea what I would write for the event, but I knew I could do it, and I wanted to participate. As November 1st drew closer, I realized two things:

(1) I knew what I wanted to write. The story had been in my head for a couple of years, and it was time to write it.

(2) My parents were coming for a visit over Thanksgiving, so I'd have to be very careful to meet my daily goals or I'd likely fall behind and not make goal. As a result, I determined to meet my 50K goal, if at all possible, before their arrival the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

I wrote over 75K that month. Started AND finished that book! I had no idea I could do that.... My brain resembled mush at the end of the month, but it was so worth it.

Then came December. I joined ACFW at the recommendation of a couple of writer friends (thank you, Carol and Janice!). And I discovered Novel Track. Not only did they have a Writing track that happened on a regular basis, they had an Editing track as well. For those, you set your own goals rather than have it set for you like with NaNoWriMo.  (# of words written for NTW. # of pages edited for NTE.) Since I knew what I was capable of writing, I jumped in starting that first week of January, and with the exception of July, I've participated in one of those tracks every month this year.

In January, I wrote an entire novel PLUS a novella (~40K), and worked on another project besides. My most productive month ever. In the months to follow, I finished some incomplete projects.

Then came June - Camp NaNoWriMo - related to NaNoWriMo but set up differently. Instead of November's free-for-all, I found myself sharing a virtual cabin with 5 other writers. I was able to keep 2 of those cabinmates for August's Camp as well. Again, 50K goal for the month. I started a new series in June and continued it in August. I began with the intention of a 4-book series. But an idea for book #5 hit me yesterday morning. So 5 it is. I made goal both months. By-passed it actually.

August is winding down. September is just around the corner. I plan to use September and October to edit a couple of those completed projects, assuming plans don't get changed, as sometimes happens.

November rapidly approaches as well, with another NaNoWriMo. I already know what I'm writing for that month.

So what has all this writing, editing and tracking madness taught me? Tune in next time for the answer to that question.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Bane of My Existence...

Photo courtesy of Clarita at morgueFile.com


We all have pet peeves, things that get on our nerves. Some of them REALLY get on our nerves and make us walk that line that says we want to hurt someone if they don't knock off whatever they're doing.

But those aren't what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about the thing that has done more to hold me back, stifle me, discourage me, and just royally kick me in the teeth when I'm already down and out. What is that one thing?

Perfectionism.

That need to do everything absolutely PERFECT the first time. To have everything perfectly laid out, perfectly in line, perfectly organized, perfectly done the moment we walk away.

For those who haven't struggled with it, you may think "What's the big deal? It just makes you want to do your best." If only it were so simple. And so innocuous.

If I believed I could succeed, I'd jump in with both feet, generally with unreasonably high goals and expectations (i.e. perfection). Sometimes I'd actually succeed, despite myself. Often, however, I'd end up flat on my face in failure, and wondering why. Of course, this self-defeating cycle only fed the flip side of the coin. If I didn't believe wholeheartedly that I would be absolutely perfect at something, I wouldn't even try. Why bother? It'd be better to spend my time and energy on something I at least believed I could succeed at.

The more I set myself up and failed, the more I learned what I COULDN'T do. Rather counterproductive and self-destructive.

Then I met Flylady. Other clutter-bugs likely know who I'm talking about. She taught me something very valuable. Whatever I do, it doesn't have to be perfect.

I know, amazingly simple concept, but that was mind-blowing for me. You mean, I don't have to do everything perfectly? Wow.... That opened the door to changing the way I look at my whole life. I don't have to be the perfect housekeeper, wife, daughter, friend. None of us is capable of perfection anyway.  (I can hear some inner perfectionists screaming in protest, but they're wrong.) We can only do the best we can in keeping the house clean and ready for company.

And our "best" changes daily depending on schedules, responsibilities, health issues, unexpected issues, and a host of other things. My best today may not be my best tomorrow. I may be able to do even better tomorrow, but then again maybe not. And that's okay.

You may wonder what in the world a housekeeping aid like Flylady has to do with writing. Well, I'll tell you. She teaches us to do something every day and not worry about perfection. That translates right into my writing. So what if what I write today is total garbage? I can come back and fix it later. That's called editing, and all writers have to do it to some degree or another. It's extremely rare that a first draft of anything gets published. So, write, write, write. It doesn't have to be perfect. Just write, and do it consistently, whether in small amounts or big ones. And I no longer worry about whether it's publish ready in the first draft (which it never was anyway). Wrapping my head around this simple perfectionism-busting concept has freed my writing in ways you can only imagine and I never dreamed.

So what about you? Are you allowing perfectionism to hold you back? If so, take a lesson from Flylady! Send perfectionism packing!

Perfectionism is not your friend or ally. It's your worst critic, your worst enemy, and a great deceiver. Put it in its place!

Or is there a different bane on your existence other than perfectionism that's holding you back, lying to you about yourself, and keeping you down? Or worse, kicking you when you're already down?

Oh, and by the way, my house still isn't perfect and never will be, but you know what? That's okay.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Katie Sue, Heading Home - by Eleanor Clark


Today's blog is an interview with Eleanor Clark about her new release!  Check it out!  Please note, this book is available on Kindle for free from August 15th-19th.

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Katie Sue, Heading West
(Helping Your Child Through Change)

Thoughts from author Eleanor Clark on the release of her new book, Katie Sue, Heading West.

Eleanor, can you tell us a little about your new book, Katie Sue, Heading West?
Sure! Thanks for asking. I love this story. It is (mostly) Set in the mid 1800's when Americans were heading west, and (like the other stories in The Eleanor Series) loosely based on my family’s real story. In this sweet tale, seven-year-old Chelsea Marie isn't happy about the fact that her family is getting ready to move all the way across the country. Why does she have to start all over again, making new Friends? When Grand Doll shares the story of Katie Sue – a young relative who traveled by wagon train with her family from Tennessee to Texas in 1850 – Chelsea learns that she can truly trust the Lord with all of the changes in her life, even the really big ones. (NOTE: From August 15th – 19th this book will be free on kindle!)

So, this story is a story about the changes that children go through? Can you elaborate?
Yes, sometimes we get so comfortable in our own little world. It’s hard to move from that comfortable place into something new. Transitioning to a new home (and a new school) is especially difficult on children. I dealt with that issue in this story. Katie Sue moves (by wagon train) from Tennessee to Texas. Along the way, she learns to trust God with the changes she’s going through. That is the resounding message of the story: trusting God as you go through changes. What a great message for girls, but what a great message for grown-ups, too!

What advice would you give parents as their children transition from one home (or school) to another?
Always assure them that they will make new friends and that they are not alone. This is the key thing. Kids need to know that God is right there beside them, even when everything else is changing. In Katie Sue, Heading West, the primary character is given a locket with her best friend’s picture in it. In a way, this locket was a reminder that her “best friend” (Jesus) was always with her, no matter where she went.

You mentioned the locket that Katie Sue wore. Can you tell us more about that?
I’m partial to this story because of the locket that Katie Sue wears. You see, that locket is very real! When my mother was a little girl she was given the locket that Katie Sue wore on her neck from Tennessee to Texas. I always loved it as a child. I wanted to wear it! However, I lost my mama’s locket! Talk about devastated. I cried and prayed but never found it. After my mother passed away, we went to close out her house. While going through her things, I found the locket and rushed home to put it on!

Eleanor, congratulations on the release of this book. It’s the third in the series, is that right?
Yes. The Eleanor Series is comprised of seven books that all released in print form a few years back. They are being released in e-book form (one per month) between now and Christmas. I’m tickled to share that the first two books in the series are already on kindle. Click the links to discover more!

What are you offering my readers today?
One lucky person will have an opportunity to win a hardback copy of Victoria Grace, Courageous Patriot when they leave a comment at the end of this blog!

You’ve been a delight to interview, Eleanor! How can we stay in touch with you?
Thank you so much for having me! Readers can reach me at:
My website: www.eleanorseries.com
My Eleanor Series facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheEleanorSeries

Friends, please check out Eleanor’s series. I think you’ll love it. The Eleanor Series will be a wonderful addition to any library. It will also inspire parents and grandparents to research their family’s history. So, as you’re setting your sites to the school year ahead. . .take a moment to look back at where you’ve come from. No matter what changes you’re going through, God will be right there beside you. You can trust Him.