In Training Mode

I want to be the very best writer I can be. I'm not going to be "as good as" or even "like" someone else. I'm going to be what I was created to be.

The only way I will achieve that is to continue learning. I have been in training mode for many years. I don't have a university English degree, but I have the desire to learn.

I feel like a piece of undeveloped film. You can't expose it to the light too soon or you'll ruin it. It has to be developed first. After it has spent time in the dark at the hands of the Master, the beauty contained in that film will be revealed.

I know there's more to my writing than I can see at this point. I'll stay in training mode until the Master reveals the pictures on the film. He knows what He's doing.

Write Well Right Now

Write well. This is the goal of every writer. To get through a page of prose without error is a fine goal, but most authors make a few mistakes along the way.

Some writers have a goal of writing a certain number of pages each day and some strive for a certain number of words. I've heard authors tell that they write the heart of the message without a thought to correctness and go back later for editing. I try to write a scene in my story while thinking about how it flows from the previous chapters and how it will lead to future events in the story. But I also correct mistakes as I go. I want to write well right now.

I've told someone recently, "I don't want you to like my story. I want you to love my story." I intend to write about interesting characters doing wonderfully unusual or difficult things. I enjoy writing the feelings these characters have.

I told that same person, "My family always comes first."

I have a deadline of "ASAP" imposed on me through a conversation with someone who wanted to see some of my writing. I let that person know that I plan to do a great job of sending her my best work, but if I want my kids to wear clean clothes, I also have to do laundry.

Everyone has to strike a balance between things they love to do and things they have to do. I want to write 2000 words every day. I haven't been doing that. I am working on the balance between writing and household chores and fun with the kids.

If I can focus on my story in between laundry loads during school time, I can spend time with the kids after school and pick up my writing again at bedtime.

While I'm writing, I have to focus on the current scene and correct mistakes as I go. Editing is done after a few chapters have been written. I can go back to reread a few scenes, rethink the order of events, and begin retelling the story in a better way.

Patience is something I work on during periods of frustration. I can't write a blockbuster novel when I'm spending all my time cleaning house, helping with homework, and reminding kids to practice the piano. But I can do some writing, some housework, some instruction to kids, and some kid-hugging - according to my time limitations.

When I'm raising kids, I want to raise them well. When I'm writing, I want to write well. (sigh) And I want to do it well right now.

ACFW conference

I get to go to the American Christian Fiction Writers conference this week. Oh Boy! I can't wait! I can't wait!

I've been looking forward to meeting like-minded individuals face-to-face. I've been looking forward to learning from respected established authors in the workshops. I feel like a puppy hearing her Master turning the key in the lock. A door is about to open. It's hard to sit when my tail is wagging so hard.

I can imagine that after I get home - with oodles of new ideas about how to change my stories for the better- I will be very busy. I can see my characters rubbing their hands together in anticipation. Some are rolling up their sleeves, ready to get to work.

This will be the first time I've been to an ACFW conference. Probably not the last.

How will I be able to hold a decent conversation? How will I be able to stop stammering with excitement? I don't know.

Lately, I've been working on a two-sentence description of my current story. My office walls aren't adept at giving critiques, but I think it sounds pretty good. I can have my two sentences handy either on the tip of my tongue or on an index card. I can read it, if necessary. I just know someone will ask me what I'm working on.

I'll pack light and save room to bring home a couple of autographed books.

Can you see my smile? Nashville, here I come.

I can't wait.


Oh, how a storm can change lives.

A week has gone by since Katrina viciously visited America's southern states. Many are making plans to relocate permanently, others are still just trying to find all of their family members.

Many from New Orleans have come to Houston to recuperate. They are allowing the Houstonians to bring them food, water, clothing, and other necessities of life. They are grateful for the help.

I didn't plan to write about the sad stories surrounding the hurricane victims. I wanted to express how encouraged I am at the hearts of the Houstonians responding to the need that was brought to their doorstep.

I have watched reporters on TV delivering stories and pictures of the victims. It almost seemed like a photojournalist's prayer request. But the background of most of these stories and pictures is filled with feet running to help, hands lifting the head of the discouraged, and ears attentive to broken-hearted.

The men and women focused on helping do not stand in line to get their time on TV. They don't wave at the cameras. They don't want the limelight. The only thing these volunteers expect to gain by serving their fellow man is the satisfaction of knowing their effort made someone's day better.

I've heard about the anonymous customer who secretly paid for the meals of the two families from New Orleans. When the families finished sharing stories and tried to pay their own bills and go their separate ways, they found there was no bill to pay.

Generosity can be contagious. It has been spreading throughout the country as organizations coordinate their own individual contribution plans. Many Americans are praying for the healing of the victims. Hundreds of homes have been opened to the new homeless. Even those who are only able to give money do so because they want to participate in lightening the load of those in need.

Most of the stories show God's hands in action. I've seen strangers come together bound to each other only by the love of God. He has created us to love. It's what we're supposed to do. Those that are more interested in their own business than their fellow man on normal days have stopped to show compassion, surprising even themselves.

I believe God is using this horrible disaster to bring people to Himself. The victims in the southern states are calling out to Him, the volunteer helpers are calling for His help, and the suddenly surprised compassionate givers are recognizing God's presence in all of this. I expect many lost sheep to come back into the fold.

When we allow God into our lives, we become more fruitful and more of a blessing to others. One cannot do everything, but we can each do our part.

To God be the glory.