Saturday, November 16, 2013

Through the Valley

I wrote the following post almost a week ago, and let me tell you, folks, it's been a less than stellar week for a lot of people. So many are struggling right now - to varying degrees and as a result of a wide array of circumstances - marriages falling apart; illness, acute and chronic, ranging from just annoying to potentially life-threatening; financial issues due to the state of the economy; hits to medical insurance due to new government regulations; career-impacting computer issues; and so much more. 

Please, folks, pray for each other. Pray for our fellow Christians going through trials you may or may not know about. Lift up family and friends. Pray for the countless lost souls that surround us. Satan and his nasties seem to be working overtime lately to wreck lives and discourage hearts. Support, encourage, and PRAY FOR EACH OTHER through the valleys.

For those of you going through various trials, no matter how big or small, remember the Lord cares about it all. Don't be afraid to ask Him to reveal His unfailing love and presence to you and to give you the strength and grace to endure the trials.

=====================================

Photo courtesy of Red at Morguefile.com
I told our pastor it's just WRONG to give a writing assignment to a congregation when he knows there are writers present. We often can't resist such a challenge (even when we want to). A couple of weeks ago, he gave us "homework" - write a Psalm. Come to God where you are, and write a Psalm.

I've been going through a dark valley, interminable in many ways. Still there. So I thought about some of the Psalms that David wrote - written from a place of pain, struggle, and despair. I got up the following morning knowing what I needed to write. I decided I should go ahead and share it.
A CRY FOR JUSTICE
By Dawn M. Turner

Lord, have You forgotten me?
The smoke clears.
Quiet descends.
I lie broken and bleeding on the field of battle,
Cut down by those who should have been allies.

The wicked prosper and gain strength and numbers.
Their evil deeds go unpunished.
They count themselves righteous
And remain unrepentant.

When will there be justice?
When will the lies be stripped away
And truth revealed?

You promise that evil will be repaid,
That they will reap what they have sown,
That their deeds will not go without reprisal.
When is that time?
When will You say “enough”?

Still, I wait, broken and bleeding.
Still, I cling to You,
Knowing the alternative is darkness,
Loneliness.
I grasp Your promises in my hands,
Praying for the day I fully grasp them in my wounded heart.
I believe, Lord.
Help me in my unbelief.
I allow God to lead my Bible reading (I'm still not back to doing it daily, but I'm working on it). I pray and ask Him what I should read that day. One of the passages He has led me to was one I'd read many times over the years, but it never struck me as it did this time. 

"But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me. Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy. Though I fall I will rise; though I dwell in darkness, the LORD is a light for me." - Micah 7:7-8

How's that for a loving reminder from the Father? I love the Old Testament prophets, and it never ceases to amaze me how much encouragement is tucked into those incredible books that so many see only as "doom and gloom".


Now, you may read this and wonder what it has to do with writing (other than the most obvious). This dark valley has dramatically affected my ability to write. I don't mean my DESIRE but my actual ability. Concentration, ideas, all of it have been so far out of whack as to be just about worthless. August, September, and October, I worked on editing and filling in details for the fantasy world I had created for a series of books I'm now back to working on (i.e. pure logic work). Through those three months, I had days where ideas flowed and my brain actually managed to focus, but all-told, I wrote in those three months combined what I generally write in about a week.


November came with ideas flowing again. My concentration still hasn't been on par with where it normally is when I write, but it's way better. I managed to write in 10 days more than I had written through the previous three months. So color me happy. Interesting, the pastor's writing assignment was an answer to prayer. I had been praying about the direction of my NaNovel, a fantasy novel, asking for the Lord's guidance on an element of it that had me a bit stalled. Through the pastor's writing assignment, the answer came. A book Alaina carries is full of "poetry". I'm writing out parts of it that have the most meaning to her. I hadn't written poetry in over 20 years until the pastor's homework assignment.


I continue to learn and grow through the valley, reminded often that God truly hasn't forgotten me. Justice will come. In the meantime, He continues to answer prayer, sometimes in odd and unexpected ways. I continue to try to walk in obedience, despite the darkness.


Have you had prayers answered in unexpected ways of late?


Have you ever tried writing a psalm to the Lord? If not, give it a try. Write from where you are - be it a place of pain and struggle, or joy and praise, or both! David certainly did all three. If you're willing to share what you write, please do so below.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

November!

It's nearly November. Two more days.... That means just one thing. NaNoWriMo is right around the corner!

If you haven't experienced the madness of NaNo, you've been missing out. Writing 50,000 words in a month may seem like an insurmountable goal, but I've done it multiple times - and not just during NaNo. Whether it'll work for you or not? How will you know unless you try? ;-)

I'm not as ready mentally as I have been in the past, but I'm hoping my brain will cooperate come November 1st. This year, I'll be working on a fantasy novel. That's a sizable shift for me, but all my background materials are ready. Mostly. The fantasy world creation is pretty well done - what I need for this novel anyway - with the exception of the map I need to complete. Knowing me and my extreme pantser style, I'll probably do that map as I go. Hey, it's what I do. he he

The most fun little piece I created for this novel? An insect that chirps through parts of winter - the snow doesn't put them off a bit. In fact, it's part of their life cycle. Of course, most of the details I put into it won't be used in the book, but it sure has been fun to create those little guys.

Anyway, now's the time to set your eyes on that 50K goal for November. Get those fingers limbered up and your writing software booted up (I use WriteWayPro). No time for procrastination!

Are you doing NaNo this year? If so, what are you planning to work on? Are you ready to hit the ground running on the 1st? Or are you in panic mode like so many, scrambling to get ready?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Answers Come....

Photo courtesy of taliesin of morguefile.com
I often have people ask me (or see/hear them ask others) what they're supposed to do with their writing, or some aspect of it, or some other task. My answer is always the same - PRAY ABOUT IT.

God knows exactly what HE desires for you, your life, and your work, and He won't hide His will from you. SO ASK HIM! And don't be afraid to ask others to be praying with and for you as you seek guidance and direction from the Lord.

Sometimes an answer comes right away, within minutes or hours. Other times, a response is much longer in coming - days, weeks, months, and even years. Needless to say, that takes patience and perseverance, or we risk jumping ahead of God and His timing.

I just had one such instance in my own life - something I've prayed about for the past couple of years. I had shelved an entire part of my writing when I started praying, not wanting anything I put out into the world to be contrary to God's will for my writing. My gifts, talents, and such are His, not mine, and I didn't want to get ahead of God and do things in a way that might "seem right" to me. I don't need that kind of disaster in my life, thank you very much. (Prov. 14:12 & 16:25 are warning enough for me.)

A few weeks ago, He finally gave me the answer I've been asking for for so long. And the ideas THAT has generated have been wild and numerous. More inspiration than I ever imagined possible, and it all fits so beautifully.

God not only answers our questions, He does so in HIS time, not ours. So we must be patient and wait for His time for providing the answer we seek. BUT, we first must ask them. Too often, we don't even think to ask.

So ask! And be prepared to take a step or two or more in obedience when the answer comes. It may not be what you expect, or possibly even the path you believe you WANT, but be obedient. What the Lord provides is WAY better than anything you might imagine.

Is there some decision or need for direction that you've struggled with that you need to lay at the Lord's feet?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Inspiration

Photo courtesty of
dhester of morgufile.com
I often run across the question - in books/articles, during online interactions, and when talking to people face-to-face - "Where do you get your inspiration?" Loaded question, and I'm pretty sure most people think the answer is simple. It's not. Inspiration for story ideas comes from a variety of places for me.

Music is a biggy. (It MUST have lyrics - instrumental music is emotionally meaningless to me - my brain translates it directly into math.) Sometimes a single line out of a song will trigger a "What if...?" and that's all it takes to have me chasing a rabbit trail, particularly when I'm driving and don't have a computer or TV in front of me to distract my thoughts. This happened last week actually. Those who know me know my love for country music. Even the sad, sorrowful songs so many like to talk down about. There are times I almost live with my MP3 player permanently attached to me.

Thinking about one such hang-dog song this past week as I listened to it, I thought "What if God got hold of them? How different would the outcome be?" Oh, cool idea! Two songs that immediately followed cemented the idea because lines in those songs meshed with the idea I had percolating. A variety of scenes flitted through my head.

At times, it's something I deal with directly in my own life that sparks a creative run. I've got two books that pop immediately to mind spawned by such things. I call them my "Christians behaving badly" stories because the events that inspired them were due to exactly that. Christians acting in ways they should NOT act and harming those around them. Often people's lives inspire me - sometimes as a warning of how NOT to be and what the consequences can be of such behavior, words, and attitudes.

Conversations, or rather pieces of conversations, that I overhear can be fun and often inspire scene ideas. They give me insight into the quirky workings of other people's minds. And people watching goes right along with that. Human beings are very odd creatures if you really watch them. They sure can be fun to observe. You can learn a great deal about human nature just by exercising the art of observation.

Sometimes I read about something in the news, and that will trigger a similar thought. I have to admit, though, that's pretty rare. In fact, I can't even think of any of those off the top of my head. I'm sure I could come up with one if I really thought about it.

Now, if only inspiration for blog posts came so easily.  LOL

If you're a writer, what sorts of things inspire you?

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Truth - Chapter 1 - part 2 of 2

Excerpted from Truth, Book 1 of the Donovan Legacy series. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or any information retrieval or storage system without the prior written permission of the author.

Continued from last week. If you missed last week's installment, you can find it HERE.

      Aaron Everett forced himself to walk away and not look back. He’d waited too long. That jerk Davis had moved in and taken the place in Missy’s heart that Aaron had coveted far longer than he should have.
He should have kissed her beyond thought and reason at Christmas like he’d planned. But he’d chickened out. Stupid, cowardly thing to do. He should have just done it and not worried about possible consequences or ramifications. At least then he wouldn’t have to walk around with this heavy weight of regret bearing down on him.
Okay, so maybe the moment had been interrupted by her father, but still. That was no excuse for not finding another opportunity, preferably away from the watchful eyes of her father and three older brothers. Her brother Dax was the only one inclined toward violence, and Uncle Wes probably wouldn’t have decked him or anything if he’d caught Aaron kissing Missy. He could have fired him though, and Aaron had been afraid to put the possibility to the test. No matter how close-knit their families might be.
Though no blood tie existed, Missy’s parents were Uncle Wes and Aunt Terry to Aaron and his siblings. Same thing with his parents and Missy and her brothers. If he had kissed Missy and she didn’t reciprocate... well, he’d rather not think about how ugly it could’ve been. His parents would have his head if he caused a rift between the two families.
“Just look at her as a fun little sister who sometimes gets on your nerves.” He couldn’t even remember how many times he’d told himself that. Useless. Utterly useless. All it took was one of those beautiful smiles to blast the “little sister” image clean out of his mind.
A huge reason to pursue his transient lifestyle. Travel for work, doing computer security consulting for Uncle Wes’ firm, kept a safe distance between them. Prevented him from divulging, and indulging, the desires of his heart.
Plus he’d figured Missy wouldn’t want to go out with a guy five years older than herself. He snorted and picked up his pace toward the car. And there she was dating a guy nearly as old as her father. Man, had Aaron pegged her wrong, or what?
Besides, she saw him as nothing more than one of her big brothers. He might as well be one of her brothers. Major drawback to growing up next door and spending so much time with them.
He’d bet she had a date with the cradle-robbing jerk that evening. In fact, he’d stake everything he had on it, and didn’t have a single doubt he wouldn’t win that bet. If he could get anyone to take him up on it anyway.
You should’ve told Uncle Wes about them months ago when you realized her family thinks their dinner dates are purely business. Another thing he’d played the coward about it. Aside from concern her father might shoot the messenger, so to speak, he hadn’t wanted to betray her confidence and risk her never speaking to him again. Then again, if Uncle Wes found out about this and realized Aaron had known all along... would he fire him?
Besides, the pastor at a church in Chicago he’d spoken with months before had assured him many young women dated an older guy at least once but the relationship generally didn’t last long. Part of their road to discovering who they were and what they wanted out of life or some such. You should’ve asked how long is long.
He should’ve kissed her when he had the chance.

*****

“Hello?”
“Hey, Mom.” Missy tapped the plexiglass window between her and the cab driver then pointed toward a shopping center. “Take me there instead please,” she whispered, holding the phone away from her ear for a moment. A new dress was in order. Her savings account wouldn’t hurt too badly for the hit.
The man nodded.
She sat back. “So, how’re you feeling?”
“I could’ve come, but your father put his foot down. You’d’ve thought I had pneumonia, the way he acted.” Warm affection softened the words.
“Yeah, well, you know as well as I do that airplanes are like flying petri dishes.”
“You need to stop listening so much to Anthony.” Mom chuckled.
“Maybe.” She shrugged then realized her mom couldn’t see her. “Anyway, Daddy’s just being careful is all. Those chest colds can turn to pneumonia, so you need to take good care of yourself.”
“Yes, Mother.”
They shared a laugh. “Sorry, Mom. Aaron and Daddy keep saying I’m just like you. Maybe they’re right on more counts than I realized.”
The cab came to a stop. Missy paid the driver and climbed out, shutting the door behind her. She was within an easy walk to the hotel, so if she could find the right dress quickly, she’d be back in plenty of time to get ready for her date.
“So? Are you going to tell me how it went today or do I need to get a blow-by-blow from Aaron?”
Oh, yeah. How could she possibly have forgotten the other reason for calling? Good grief. “Rebel and I won.”
“That’s wonderful! You two have worked so hard. You deserve this.”
She grinned. “One step closer to the Olympic team.”
“Regardless of whether you make the team or not, we’re so very proud of you.”
Why did Mom sound like it didn’t matter if she made the team? Wasn’t that what everyone wanted? Missy frowned and yanked open the front door of a store. “Um... so how’s Daddy’s training going? Is the new guy wrapping his head around all of that electronics stuff?”
“I suppose so. Your father hasn’t really said much other than that Darrell is bright and a nice guy. I haven’t seen much of him the last couple of days. He has Darrell helping him install an alarm system in one of the businesses in town, so this installation is taking longer than normal.” A chuckle reached across the span of the country, causing Missy to smile. “Then again, the fact he’s training Darrell may not have as much to do with it as you’d expect. If he’d stop calling every hour on the hour to check on me to see if I need anything, he might get done faster.”
Missy smiled. Could Davis love her the way Daddy did Mom? “Well, listen, I’ll give you a call probably sometime tomorrow. I have to go. I’ve got dinner plans and need to get ready.”
“Hang on a sec. ... That’s your father calling. Right on schedule. I better go. Enjoy dinner with Aaron tonight, and I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Bye, sweetie.”
The call disconnected before Missy could fully digest what her mother said and correct her assumption. Mom had known Aaron planned to invite her to dinner? Had she put him up to it?
Great. Another big brother scenario. And he was in league with her mother. So much for thinking he just wanted to spend time with her.
Good thing she’d made plans with Davis.

*****

The clock crept toward eight o’clock. Missy waited in the hotel lobby for Davis, tingling with anticipation. What had he planned? And why so secretive? She smoothed her hands over the sleeveless, lavender evening gown she’d bought on the way from the stables to the hotel. Hopefully Davis liked it. It certainly cost enough to be awe-worthy.
She ducked behind a large potted plant and twisted to get the bustiere under the dress back into proper position. As uncomfortable as the thing was, she sympathized with women in the era of corsets. If this thing was so fidget-producing and unpleasant, she’d hate to think how bad a corset had to have been with the stiff ribbing.
She glanced down. Of course, if she had more bust, perhaps the uncomfortable undergarment would stay put. Maybe she should have padded it.
She snickered. Good grief. She hadn’t padded a bra since she was fourteen. Okay, sixteen and trying to get Aaron’s attention. Might as well be honest. But she was nineteen now. Adult women did not pad their bras.
Did they?
Hm. Maybe a question worth pursuing sometime.
The strappy, spiked heels weren’t much more comfortable than the bustiere. She prayed she could spend the bulk of the evening sitting. The shoes already killed her feet, but they matched the dress perfectly and looked far more appealing than riding boots would have.
Davis appeared through the revolving door, his cane more a walking stick than a real source of support given how his stride had improved with physical therapy. He looked dashing and handsome in a tuxedo. His choice of attire made her all the more grateful for her decision to splurge on the evening gown. He crossed the lobby and headed for the elevator.
Missy hesitated a moment, watching him. He’s not right for you. Conviction needled deep. She frowned and shook it off. Now she was letting her family’s unfounded opinions nag her. She lifted her chin, stepped from behind the potted plant, prayed the bustiere would stay put, and straightened her shoulders. “Davis.”
He turned with a questioning look that cleared in an instant to a smile of pure pleasure. His appreciative gaze slipped over her. He came toward her, the look in his eyes reflecting the same warmth and male interest as his smile. The hateful, uncomfortable shoes suddenly didn’t seem so bad. They brought her a few inches closer to Davis’ six foot height. She no longer felt quite so much like a child playing dress-up. The thought raised her chin another notch.
“You look positively stunning.” He gathered Missy’s right hand in his left and leaned down to kiss her gently. He tucked her hand in the crook of his arm and led her toward the doors, his gaze lingering. “I’m going to have to keep you close to me tonight, or someone might steal you away.”
She giggled then bit her lip, annoyed. Why couldn’t she have given him a sultry laugh as she’d seen women do in movies instead of giggling like some enchanted, mindless school girl? Heat crawled into her cheeks.
“That blush makes you look even more lovely.” He leaned down to whisper in her ear as he tucked her back close to his chest and stepped through the revolving door.
She smiled brightly as he moved to her side and dropped his free hand to her waist.
“Are you ready for a full evening? I have some wonderful plans for us.”
You bet, she wanted to yell. But restrained herself. Instead, she gave him what she hoped was a dignified nod. “I can hardly wait to see what you have in mind.”
Deep inside, where no one could see, she performed a little happy dance. That had sounded so grown-up. Maybe she really could pull this off. Excitement sent her heart racing.

  
If you've enjoyed this excerpt and would like to read more, please buy the book at one of the links provided on the Donovan Legacy series page of this blog.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Truth - Chapter 1 - part 1 of 2

Excerpted from Truth, Book 1 of the Donovan Legacy series. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording or any information retrieval or storage system without the prior written permission of the author.
 
Sunday, November 2, 2003
Lexington, KY 

Stay calm. Nineteen-year-old Melissa “Missy” Donovan waited outside the ring after a clean run on her horse, Rebel. An entire swarm of butterflies flitted through her innards, leaving her mildly nauseous. They’d made great time over the jumps, and no bars went down. Thankfully, the drizzling rain of the day prior hadn’t made a mud-hole out of the ring, and the fog had lifted with the rising of the sun.
She leaned into Rebel’s black neck, her back to his muscular shoulders, and hugged his head, caressing his face in long strokes. The slow movements were as much to keep her calm as they were for him. Waiting for final results had never been so nerve-wracking. They were in first place, but four horses and riders remained to make runs. The first team to follow them had taken down two bars, which removed them from the running for first place.
So much hinges on today’s outcome. Probably a really good thing Mom and Daddy couldn’t come. If they were here watching, I’d probably be an even worse nervous wreck. She had to remember to call them after she returned to the hotel that evening. Check on Mom. And hopefully pass along good news.
Missy closed her eyes, head down, and concentrated on her breathing. Please, Lord. All this hard work has to amount to something. I just want to make everyone proud. Please.
The crack of a hoof on wood followed by the hard thud of a bar hitting the dirt sent her heart rate up. Another team out of the running. She glanced at the clock. That team might manage fourth if they kept their time on track and didn’t take down anymore bars. She took a shaky breath.
Rebel shifted, sensing her growing excitement.
“Easy, boy. Two more teams to go, and we’ll know.” She patted his massive neck to soothe him.
Minutes crawled by. And still they waited.
The last team finally finished their run. Missy listened for their time. When the announcement came, she forced herself not to jump up and down and cheer. Must be dignified and grown-up. Mustn’t bounce around like an exuberant twelve-year-old with no impulse control.
She straightened tan breeches, white shirt, and black coat, snapped the harness on her helmet, and checked the sheen on knee-high black boots. Then she walked around Rebel to give him a once over, straightened his forelock, and smiled. All looked good. She took a deep breath and mounted her horse. Giving him a pat on the neck, she waited for the call to return to the ring.

*****

Missy and Rebel exited the ring. Davis waited to greet her with a proud smile. A champion who had retired a couple of years prior due to a serious hip injury, Davis Gallagher had coached her since the previous coach retired the year before. They’d started dating in early April. At least, she supposed that’s what they’d been doing with the occasional dinner out when Davis had time. Although he was twenty-five years her senior, she was the envy of many of the other female riders. She’d learned to ignore their catty comments.
She shied away from thinking about the fact she should have told her parents about their relationship long before now. Well, she had. Sort of. She’d mentioned to her mother from time to time that they went out to dinner. Okay, so yeah, maybe she’d let her believe they were business dinners. And she certainly hadn’t admitted to any of her family that the man had kissed her. For some reason no one could quantify, or perhaps would quantify, her parents didn’t like Davis. They’d even objected when she hired him as her new coach.
Maybe today’s win would change their mind, and they’d see what a great coach he was. If they’d just give him a chance, they’d find out what a nice guy he was.
A broad smile wreathed his handsome face as Davis leaned against the cane in his right hand. “See? I said you could do it.”
Missy slipped off Rebel’s back into Davis’ waiting arms. He hugged her tight then loosened his grip to plant a toe-curling kiss on her lips.
“I should never have doubted you,” she said, out of breath. She hugged him again to keep both feet on the ground and maintain her dignity. “And we couldn’t have done it without you.”
“Damn straight.” He chuckled and set a hand on her shoulder to push her away enough that he could look down into her face. “So, what do you say we go out tonight and celebrate?”
Her heart pitter-pattered. Handsome, charming Davis Gallagher truly wanted to spend time with her. A fairy tale in every way. Seven months into their dating relationship, it was still surreal. She bit her lower lip and nodded. “I’d love to.”
“Fabulous. I’ll pick you up at eight.”
She nodded, rose up on her toes to accept another kiss, then picked up the reins. “I better take care of Rebel so I can get back to the hotel.”
Someone across the grounds hollered for Davis. He lifted a hand in acknowledgement. “Wear something special tonight.” His grin hinted at a secret. Then he turned and walked into the milling crowd of horses, riders, and spectators.
Missy walked Rebel toward the stable. Wear something special? He’d never asked her to do that before. And what was that grin about? What kind of secret was he holding close? A new sponsor maybe? No. He’d never kept such things a secret before. It had to be something else.
“Missy!”
She halted. Rebel stopped patiently. She scanned the crowd. Not for the first time, she wished she had reached at least her mother’s five-foot-seven height instead of a measly five-three. She couldn’t see anything over all the heads and horses around her. It was too reminiscent of getting lost in family gatherings, dwarfed by everyone and everything around her.
“Missy.” A hand popped above the crowd then a familiar face appeared. Dark brown hair, brown eyes, and a gorgeous smile Missy had known all of her life.
“Aaron!” A thrill shot through her. She hadn’t known he was coming.
He broke free of the people between them and jogged to join her, scooping her into his arms for a long, hard hug. When he finally set her down, chocolaty eyes brimmed with joy matched only by a bright smile.
“What’re you doing here?”
“I came to see you. What else?” He threw both hands out to punctuate the question and accidentally smacked a passing rider in the chest. “Oh, sorry.”
The rider scowled, shook his head and kept walking.
Aaron threw her a silly, somewhat embarrassed grin and said, “Oops,” with a soft laugh. “Anyway, did you really think I’d miss one of your big events? You were beyond wonderful.”
He was way too good for her ego. “You didn’t need to come all this way, you know.” Missy motioned him to follow her toward the stable. He immediately fell into step beside her and Rebel. “I know you’re busy with work and all the travel you have to do.”
“Ah, who needs work?” He waved a hand and grinned.
“Aaron.” She shook her head in disapproval.
He rolled his eyes with a snort. “I’m kidding. My boss knows exactly where I am.” His grin widened, laugh lines crinkling the corners of his eyes the way she’d always found incredibly hot and appealing.
“Well, that’s reassuring. I don’t want Daddy to fire you over me.” She sent him a teasing look and handed Rebel off to a groom named Alex Finnegan.
The stud planted all four feet and stood his ground. His ears flipped backward but didn’t quite flatten to his head. He snorted softly.
Alex hesitated. The man was new, so he wasn’t accustomed to Rebel, plus the horse didn’t know him.
“Go with him, Rebel.” Missy patted the horse’s shoulder and gave the groom a reassuring smile. “Don’t let him kid you, Alex. He’s nothing but a big sweetheart.”
“I sure hope so.” The man’s look was dubious.
Rebel gave her a disgusted look but followed the groom away.
“I see he still lives up to his name.”
“Not so much after a good run. He’s still my baby, so he listens to me.”
“Yeah, well, might I remind you that baby outweighs you by a thousand pounds?”
“Doesn’t matter how big he is. He’s still my baby.”
Aaron shook his head and chuckled. “You really are so much like your mother.”
“Thanks!” She gave him a bright smile.
“That wasn’t necessarily a compliment, but take it as you will.” He laughed. Then he shoved his fingertips in the front pockets of his jeans, suddenly looking nervous.
She cocked her head, completely befuddled. Aaron never got nervous. He was one of the most self-assured, confident, easy-going people she knew. It was one of the many things she’d always loved about him. Even if he would never see her as anything but a little sister. But then, maybe if she’d ever had the courage to kiss him senseless like she’d longed to for years, he wouldn’t be so blind to the fact that she was a woman.
She gave herself a mental shake. She was dating Davis, for pity’s sake. She shouldn’t allow her mind to toy with such thoughts about boy-next-door, nothing-but-a-friend, sees-me-as-a-sister Aaron Everett. Old habits insisted on rearing up. But that doesn’t mean you should entertain them, you nit. Time for a grown-up relationship, not childish fantasies.
“What do you say we go out to dinner tonight? Celebrate today’s victory.”
“Oh.” The starch left her shoulders. “I can’t. I already have plans.” She wanted to tell him more, but he hadn’t been very supportive when she’d told him months ago about dating Davis. In fact, he’d been rather hostile toward her coach as a result. She’d avoided the subject since then.
“Oh, well... that’s okay. Maybe another time.”
“I’d love that.” Missy glanced toward the stable with regret. “I have to make sure Rebel is settled in and get back to the hotel. I’m a bit short on time.” She cocked her head to look up at him. “What about lunch or dinner tomorrow?”
“I wish I could, but my flight leaves first thing tomorrow morning. I doubt I’ll even have time for breakfast. Duty calls.” Disappointment matching hers colored his tone, salving some of her regret.
“I’m glad you came today.”
“So am I.” He smiled, but it didn’t seem quite as bright and cheerful as before. “Your dad told me they wouldn’t be able to make it today. I didn’t want you left without a cheering section.”
Had Aaron figured out she had plans with Davis for the evening? If she didn’t bring it up, he wouldn’t either. She knew him well enough to know that about him. Guilt prickled. She should be honest with him.
Then again, maybe he hadn’t a clue what her plans were and was disappointed about not being able to spend time with her while they were in the same place.
Yeah. She liked that possibility much more. She’d go with that one.
“I better let you go,” he said after staring at her for a few moments. He pulled her into a hug. “Congratulations on the win today. You earned it.”
“Thanks, Aaron.”
“See ya ‘round, short stack.”
She took a playful swing, but he hopped back and laughed. “You know I hate it when you call me that!” Would he ever stop calling her that? Or was she stuck with the annoying label for the rest of her life?
“Touchy, touchy.” He backed away. Then he stopped, humor fading. “Bye, Missy.” He turned on his heel and walked off.
Missy watched him go. Had he ever said goodbye before? Maybe. But not quite like that. Like she may never see him again. She shook her head. Don’t be ridiculous. Their parents were next door neighbors and closer than family. They were bound to see each other for the coming holidays.
A yell from the direction of the stable pulled her from her thoughts. She listened. Was that someone hollering about or because of Rebel? The yell repeated, this time more clearly. Nope. Nothing to do with her or Rebel. But she headed for the stable anyway. Make sure Rebel is settled for the night and get to the hotel. Davis will be prompt, so you can’t be late.

To continue to part 1 of 2, click HERE. You can find links to purchase the book in either paperback or e-book on the Donovan Legacy series page of this site.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Love and Time

Photo courtesy of sullivan
My husband and I met and married in 1993. From our first date to the wedding was 3 months. Some thought we were doomed because we hadn't dated each other for months or years. Here we are 20 years later (as of this past week), loving each other more every day, and STILL learning about each other.

So much for the naysayers.

And, you know, it amazes me sometimes how much I'm still learning about my dear hubby after all these years. It seems like no matter how long you know someone, or how well you THINK you know them, there's still so much to learn, so many revelations to be had.

That's something that Missy and Aaron discover in my latest book, Truth, which released in June. They've know each other their entire lives. Grew up next door to each other, their families so close as to be blended into one family in many ways.

Though Aaron has spent the better part of the years teasing Missy mercilessly at every opportunity, the one time he hurt her feelings, he felt horrible and apologized. A teenage crush turned into more, but she kept that fact to herself. Aaron is five years her senior, and he couldn't possibly be interested in her. As she puts it:
Maybe if he hadn’t known her from birth and seen her go through the Play-Doh-eating phase at three, a paste-eating period at five, braces at fourteen, and acne at sixteen, he’d be able to take her seriously as a grown woman.
Aaron has adored Missy as his best friend for several years, and he's yearned for more. But she seems set on seeing him as nothing more than the "big brother" and friend who grew up next door. Then she gets engaged to another man and life takes an unexpected turn.

How did the characters in your latest book meet? What attracts them to each other? What is keeping them apart? Feel free to answer those questions and share the link to your latest book in your comment on this blog.

By the way, if you would like to read chapter 1 of Truth, you can find it HERE.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fear and the Writer - Part 2

Photo by author
Last week, I talked about fear. For those of you who missed that post, you can see it here.

The question - in six words or less, what do you most fear as a writer?

So what was my "off the cuff" but uncomfortably accurate response to that question?

Revealing my heart.

Talk about scary, particularly for an introvert who had learned at a very young age that revealing your heart meant showing vulnerability, which was like blood in the water in a society where I'm surrounded by sharks (people who will prey on that weakness). Attention can be good, bad, or indifferent - I've known that my whole life. But showing vulnerability? Only stupid people who didn't value their lives did such things.

Thankfully, God doesn't give up on those of us who an evil, fallen world has taught to hide behind walls as high and thick as a European keep. He gently, with love and persistence, leads and teaches until the walls come down. Because He knows something VERY important....

How effective can we be as writers if we don't do reveal our hearts, bare our souls, expose our inner thoughts and emotions to a potentially hostile world? Whether we do so in blogs or other non-fiction works, or we expose our hearts through fictional characters and their stories, we put a piece of ourselves into everything we write. And readers can generally tell when that element is missing.

It's taken a LONG time to learn to share my emotions, imperfections, fears, and deeper thoughts with others. A very long, arduous, often painful process. Through it, I've learned two things:

1 - God doesn't want me to live in fear, closed off to those my life touches, unable to reach out to others who may be struggling in the same way I have. He wants us to step out in faith in HIM and not allow fear and the evil in this world to take us hostage and cripple us emotionally and spiritually.

Photo by author
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. - 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)
 

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear. - 1 John 4:18a (NASB)

The Lord is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me? - Psalm 118:6 (NASB)



2 - When others act like "sharks" and try to prey upon me when I open my heart to them, IT'S NOT ABOUT ME. No pity party or wallowing allowed. Let it go. It's about THEM. It's a reflection of just how miserable they are in their own lives, and if I really watch, I'll see they tend to treat others the same way they've treated me. Their words and actions should NOT cause me to close myself off to the world again. To do so gives their negativity, hatefulness, etc. power over my life that those things don't deserve to have. More than anything, such behavior demands prayer for them.
But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. - Luke 6:27-28 (NASB)
I think most believers understand how these apply to our daily lives and dealings with people. But how do they apply to us specifically as writers?

One, negative reviews on published books. If we haven't (yet) received them on our own work, we've all at least seen scathing reviews written by those who just like to tear others to shreds (if you look at other reviews they've done, you can readily identify these individuals - they never seem to have a nice thing to say about anybody) or hate someone's work simply because it reflects Christ (even if they've never actually read the book, interestingly enough).

Should we let such reviews make us change what we write because we shudder in fear of receiving more such comments? Absolutely not! We should seek to please God first and foremost, above every person out there. If people don't like that, well, that's their problem, quite frankly. We're not to be conformed to this world. (Romans 12:2)

I'm not saying we should be sloppy in our work or disregard actually-constructive criticism, but that's a whole different ballgame from letting fear drive us to write other than as God desires us to.

Two, the writing itself. If we truly want to touch readers, we MUST be willing to share our hearts and souls with them. And, yeah, I know this isn't easy. Boy, howdy, do I know. This is my biggest struggle. Each layer of emotional depth we put into our work is that much more of us we're letting the world see in some way or another. That's not easy. But the Lord doesn't call us to reach out to others only when it's emotionally "safe" or we simply can't keep ourselves bottled up, so we should approach our writing the same way - with an open heart obedient to His leading.

I know my struggle is not the same as what others face. Some cling to fear of not finding an agent/publisher/editor for their book, not getting the cover design quite right, not getting a back cover blurb exactly right, the book not selling, knowing what promotional tools and techniques to utilize, and a slew of other things along those lines. God has all of that well in hand. Does He expect us to do work to get it all accomplished? You bet! But He's already handpicked the agent/publisher/editor for each author's work. (He also knows whether He wants your work to be traditionally or indie published, too - just ask Him.) He knows whose hands need to receive a particular book. He can and DOES provide guidance regarding cover designs, back cover blurbs, and/or promotion options.

He knows what He desires for the outcome of a given work. If we ask, He WILL lead us down the right path, to the right people, and put our books into the hands He desires if we seek His will.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. - James 1:5 (NASB)
That's a tremendous comfort to me. He asks me to take steps of faith, do some work with regards to editing, book cover design, back cover blurbs, and promotion as He guides me. He takes it the rest of the way. But for me it all begins with a mighty step of faith in revealing my heart in the act of obedience - the writing itself.

What fear do you find yourself struggling most with in regards to your writing? What verses have you found that help you stand against it?