Ten Heroic Qualities

The following is a replay of one of my most popular blog posts from this past summer. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

I've been thinking about what a hero should be since I read Karen Ball's July 24th blog post on Charis Connection.

I thought about ten of my favorite heroes from movies of 1969 to 2005. The heroes share at least three of my ten favorite qualities that a man should experience.

James Garner's character in Support Your Local Sherriff isn't particularly romantic, but he is quite patient, creative, and smart. A hero doesn't have to be an expert on romance, but he does have to exhibit leadership qualities.

Cary Elwes as Westley in Princess Bride was driven, brave, and caring. He didn't walk around claiming to be a hero, but he was one.

Bill Murray's character in Groundhog Day had no choice but to make changes in his day. In the middle of the story he was driven, but later he was caring and friendly.

In 1995, two movies came out that had very different heroes. But I like both. Bill Pullman's character in While You Were Sleeping was friendly, patient, and driven. Harrison Ford's character in Sabrina was flexible, then caring, then desperate.

Val Kilmer's character in The Saint was creative, brave, and caring. One of the most romantic things about the movie was him remembering her medicine. What was important to her had become important to him.

Tom Hanks in You've Got Mail gave a good example of a friendly, patient and creative hero.

Hugh Grant's character in Notting Hill was friendly and caring, then driven.

Nicholas Cage's character in The Family Man was smart, flexible, and desperate.

And last, my favorite movie of 2005: Hitch. Will Smith's character was smart, creative, and vulnerable. He was also desperate at the end. I loved the fun ending.

Each of these heroes is unique, yet displays at least three of my favorite ten heroic qualities.

In my opinion, a hero must be:

brave enough to face the danger,
creative enough to solve the conflicts that arise,
driven enough to keep going against all odds,
patient enough to keep his cool,
friendly enough to attract the heroine,
vulnerable enough to allow his human side to be seen,
flexible enough to change direction when necessary,
caring enough to think of the little important things,
smart enough to make good decisions,
and desperate enough to do anything to get the girl.

The Nativity Story

I don't usually put movie reviews on my blog, but today I can't help it. I must tell how much I enjoyed seeing The Nativity Story.

I loved it, loved it, loved it!

Superb acting. Breathtaking landscapes. And really good popcorn, but that had nothing to do with my enjoyment of the movie. Really.

The story was familiar, but the telling of it captivated me. The way the actors brought the words to life - the words I grew up reading - made them seem new.

I was drawn into each scene. I felt the joy Elizabeth showed at Mary's arrival. I wanted to look around in the room where the wise men kept their technology. I wanted to run out of the way when the soldiers rode up on horseback.

The wise men were very entertaining. They gave the movie an amusing lightness. I really wonder if the real wise men were "wise guys".

So here's a big thank you to everyone associated with that movie. Very well done. And much appreciated.


How do I write a story?

I see a glimmer through the foggy woods. If I don’t follow it, I’ll lose it. If I lose it, it sometimes comes back to taunt me until I give chase.

I follow it until I see it full well. It stops and turns. First the head, then the body. I watch it, noticing the hues, shapes, and textures. It gives warning, but I am not afraid. I hear the swish of fabric as it moves toward me. I feel its breath. Its scent is now unmistakable. I hold its hand. I follow it to the cliff and search the circle of my view for clues as to what will happen next.

I lean over the cliff. The depths call to me. They paint a picture I don’t want to see. I look away.

Again, it is beside me. It embraces me. Holding fast, I lean my heart into it and go with it down the sharp-edged wall. It wails, full of pain. We are thrust against protruding rocks. We are driven together into misery and danger all the way down to the bottom.

The floor of the canyon rises to meet us, too fast, too eager. We lie still waiting while the floor dances around us, mocking us in a gleeful chant.

We rise to fight. We rise boldly to show the enemies as cowards. We rise with the floor folded neatly under our feet. Conquerors. Victors. A writer and her story, together and finally at peace.

Nurturing Grace

Grace is the unearned favor of God.

"Nurturing Grace" popped into my head today and didn't know exactly what it meant. I used the dictionary for ideas on the main point of the phrase.

It could mean "to nurture grace" or it could be a certain kind of grace.

If Nurturing is a verb, how does one nurture the unearned favor of God?

The Prodigal Son received grace when he came back to his father empty-handed and humbled. He did nothing to earn his father's love and favor. But it was his choice to receive it or not. There was always the option of walking away from the open arms that ran toward him.

Those who have received anything from God have accepted His favor. Nurturing a life of walking in God's grace means throwing off all doubt that God wants to show you favor. Knowing you can't be good enough to earn God's grace is the key to accepting it and living in it. The attention you get from God was all God's idea to begin with.

All the Prodigal Son had to do was go to his father and receive it. All we have to do to accept God's favor is go to Him and receive it. Can you picture God's hands outstretched to you? Is He running toward you in desperate love?

Or maybe today's title uses nurturing as an adjective, describing a kind of grace.

Does God favor you in such a way as to show you His nurturing grace? Is He bringing you up to a higher level? Is He encouraging growth in your life? Is He developing you into someone even you would admire - but not because of anything you've done?

Let us consider why God would show us grace. We're disobedient. We're imperfect children reaching up to a perfect God. We need Him.

Why does God give us grace so freely? He's God. He can do anything He wants to do.

We might as well accept it.


Offense, vice, crime, scandal, misdeed, misdemeanor, transgression, infraction, violation, felony, disobedience, misconduct.

They sound awful, don’t they? Shameful. But they refer to an act, not a person. It may be what you've done, but it isn't who you are.

Sin is a one-time event. The same act can be repeated over and over, but it is an act that exists within the boundaries of time. Each of those acts is a separate event. Because I sinned yesterday, that doesn't mean I will surely commit that same sin tomorrow. If I do sin tomorrow, there is a way to overcome it.

How do we overcome sin and not let it overcome us? I write my characters into trouble, and then I write them out of it. When I get into trouble, I have to talk to the author and finisher of my faith. God is the one who has written me out of trouble time and time again.

There are several ways to stop yourself from getting back into sin, but there is only one way to be free of the stain of sin.

The blood Jesus shed on the cross is a stain remover like no other. I've experienced the cleansing power of a liquid so expensive it cost a man his life. However, that life was born of God and given by God and raised by God.

Just as God multiplied five loaves and two fish to feed thousands, He multiplied the blood of one perfect man to wash away the sin of the world.

There is blood enough to wash away my sin and yours. God forgives and He hears you.

It's okay to thank Him now.

Noah Lukeman's advice

I should've posted this yesterday. Sorry. I'm sure everyone's as busy as I am. I'll try to post on time next week.

My current carpool waiting line book is Noah Lukeman's The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life. I'm not finished reading it yet. I'm reading slowly because it makes me think about the stories I'm writing.

I liked the excercises on pages 78-80. Some of them were common sense ideas that I'd read and think: Why didn't I already come up with that? It takes time to go through the whole manuscript and pick out slow parts to beef up with more action or emotion, pull out a character, put in a different character, create more dissonance to work through.

Conflict is necessary for interest. But satisfying a reader takes more than giving your character a hard time and letting him get the victory at the end. There are surface journeys and profound journeys. Lukeman brought up thoughts in me that help draw more intricately detailed pictures of my characters' journeys.

Much of the book is question after question. But they're the right questions. Each author answers them differently for each of his stories.

Every author should own this book.

Sarah Wray

Hop on over to Scenes & Beans and check out Sarah Wray's post for Tuesday 10-17. I wrote this post so Sarah could tell a little about her husband.

Sarah is the owner of Simple Pleasures, a gift shop in Kanner Lake, Idaho. Sarah and Kanner Lake are only found in the Scenes & Beans blog and in Brandilyn Collins' new book Violet Dawn. However, Simple Pleasures is a real store.

It was fun writing the post as Sarah. She's an interesting person, full of life and love. And this week, a special celebration is being remembered!

Don't send cards or flowers, just leave a comment after Sarah's post. She'll be so pleased.

Growing Pains

Back to work! No goofing off!

I've just completed an online course called Deep Editing, taught by Margie Lawson. I highly recommend it. There was an incredible amount of teaching in just thirty days of posts. It is said to be a graduate-level editing course. Yes, it's hard work. But I believe the work is necessary.

The term "growing pains" is used for a reason. Going through that course was like having a funnel full of molasses poured into my head. It's sweet, but slow. Getting it all in there is a process. Patience is required.

My head felt like a sponge. When it was full, I had to squeeze out something to make room for more. Read, study, apply, check your work, and repeat.

Writers must push themselves to continually produce their best work, continually learn more, continually grow. When someone ahead of me reaches down to pull me along - that's what happened in this editing course - I'm thankful. Thankful because I felt like I was picked up and dropped onto a skateboard. Now I don't have to walk the lonely road so slowly. My feet have wings, or at least wheels. The length of the road didn't change, just the speed in which I travel.

I have a whole manuscript to edit, and I'm going to be very busy. No one can do this work for me.

Sigh. Back to work.

A Report from the ACFW Conference

I'm unpacked, rested, and loaded with writing ammo. And I'm eager to get started because I'm excited that I have a lot of work to do on my manuscript.

The ACFW conference was stuffed with encouraging instruction for Christian novelists. Since I hate missing out on great information, and since I can't be in two places at once, I ordered those valuable conference CDs. I'll be taking notes at home - probably not wearing my cool name tag.

I loved the very well done awards banquet. A great photo op with everyone wearing smiles and glitzy gowns. I only took a few pictures, but it looked like a lightning storm with all the flashing going on.

I also took pictures at the booksigning.

I hope you will check out the books of the three beautiful ladies in my photos: Brandilyn Collins, (suspense) author of Violet Dawn; Janice Thompson, (mystery) author of The Wedding Caper; and Elizabeth White, (romantic suspense) author of The Texas Gatekeepers series which includes Under Cover of Darkness, Sounds of Silence, and On Wings of Deliverance.

Hawaii Pictures

I'll be at the ACFW conference this weekend, so I'll leave pictures of my Hawaii trip while I'm gone. These are from the islands of Kauai and Hawaii. Enjoy!

Apologies to Apostrophe

Dear Apostrophe,

I sincerely and humbly apologize for the way you have been treated. Although misplaced, overused, and generally neglected, you keep working even when no one seems to care about your feelings.

How can I effectively make up for all the abuse we have heaped on you? I am not sure I can.

Though mistreated, you are loyal. You make yourself available to anyone who wants to show the possessive or even the plural form of a word. You are bandied about by writers of all strengths, tossed into places you did not belong. But you stay.

Always generous and willing, you are open to new words coined by lazy-tongued, devil-may-care speech recorders. Writers who do not feel bound by laws create new opportunities to show off your potential. Do they see that you are worn out? I think not.

You come to the rescue when words are too closely confined and a letter leaves its home. You sometimes cause readers to wonder about the letter for whom you stand in the gap. Where did it go? Will it be okay? At least we are comforted by the presence of the apostrophe high up in the air, calling out to the reader, “There was a letter here once. A valuable letter.”

Is there a can’t or doesn’t whose knee is not bowed to your unity-building powers? Words do not have to come apart at the seams. They can be mended by the mighty apostrophe.

Sometimes you are eloquent and misunderstood like the dog’s and cat’s in the backyard. I understand. I used to have dogs and cats who had things in the backyard that I did not want to name.

So thank you, apostrophe, for your steadfast diligence. Thank you for your patience with us while we learn about you and learn to treat you with respect.

Chicken or the Egg

Conundrum. A puzzling problem. Which do I focus on first? Getting my manuscript honed, re-edited, and polished or getting the road to publishing paved?

Since one cannot be a published novelist without having a polished manuscript and one cannot properly polish a manuscript without sticking one's head in the publishing door and looking around, the answer is: juggle.

My husband can juggle balls. I can't. But being a mom has given me the ability to juggle schedules, chores, play time, and meal-making. I know that writers have to juggle their writing time, marketing time, mentoring time, and their craft-improvement time. Then they have to juggle their writing life (include all of the above) with their home life, friendship-development life, local volunteering life, and their family-visiting life.

Talk about a lot of balls in the air. It's just crazy, isn't it? But it's life.

I enjoy going to writing conferences because I get to learn on several levels. I learn about people (possibly begin friendships), the industry, the craft, the marketing process, the editing process, etc. Trying to be well-rounded in growth will help me be ready for more opportunities than if I were to focus on one thing at a time.

I believe Christian novelists can help each other. And I believe that's what God wants us to do. My problem is figuring out how I can help others. I know there are many people who are experienced in publishing and can teach me much, but who wants to learn something from someone who doesn't have all those many years in the industry?

Recently, I've signed up to volunteer in a position that needed a volunteer. The requirements were that one be present and willing to obey instruction. I can do that. I may not be able to mentor a beginner novelist, but I can help someone else.

Since we are all unique and have our own individual gifts, I can be unashamed of who I am and remain positive about my forward progress - even if it means there are many who will be published ahead of me. I can't compare myself to others, only to where I might be if I quit.

I keep writing, reading, making friends, and helping where I can. That's my job.

So, here's a big thank you to my family and friends for your patience - and to my husband who supports me. Big hugs ;)

Word Search, part two

I’ve learned to shop for words like I shop at the grocery store. Some words are exactly what I need and I’ll pay whatever I have to for them. Other words are used as if I saw them on sale, ten for a dollar. If I keep to a reasonable budget in action scenes (short words, short sentences) and splurge on the quality descriptions, my scenes may improve enough to get the message into the reader’s heart without banging her over the head.

Being budget-minded, I oppose using big words in an effort to sound smart. If I must use an unfamiliar word, it had better be valuable for the sentence.

When looking up words, I sometimes see interesting-looking words and get distracted. I try to think of a way to use the word naturally in a sentence. My efforts often end up silly. I saw “grandiloquent” in my Oxford Dictionary of Current English Third Edition and wanted to see how the entry varied from dictionary to dictionary.

Out of five adult dictionaries ( and not counting my kids’ two dictionaries which omitted the word – imagine that!) three entries listed grandiloquent and two listed grandiloquence. Four of the definitions used the word “pompous”, two used “eloquence”, and one used “lofty” twice in the same entry.

The oldest of the dictionaries used the fewest words: “pompous eloquence” (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary 1974). The definition using the most words (nine) was less than “lofty”: “using long or difficult words in order to impress” (Oxford Dictionary of Current English Third Edition 2001).

The newest dictionary I own is a dictionary/thesaurus in one and used big words in hopes we’d all become familiar with their thesaurus pages.

Do you see why I use several dictionaries?

My writing style is simple and I like to use words which are right for the context. However, if a (new to me) big word is exactly the right word to use and nothing else will make the sentence as meaningful, I’ll use it. Either the reader will already know the word or will gather the meaning by the surrounding words. Hopefully, if they look up a (new to them) word, they’ll nod in agreement that it was exactly the right one for that sentence.

Word Search, part one

Learning new words has never been a top priority for me. As a writer, that is a shameful admission. Dictionaries and a thesaurus or two help me in my attempt to find the right word to use in my manuscripts. Nevertheless, I find myself more inclined to choose lesser-used words I already know when replacing overused words.

Let it never be said that I've bombasted my audience with my grandiloquence.

Sounds dangerous.

Sometimes dictionary entries will use a different form of the same word or a different "big word" to explain the meaning. I'm sure you've all seen incomprehesible definitions. Many times, the definition isn't helpful: penitential means "of or relating to penitence or penance".

When I find a word that fits my sentence on a broad level, it isn't right because of the atmosphere it creates. For example: words that define colors. Yellow could be anything.

The bright yellow of a flower: the flower could be described better to let in the character's personality as he/she views the flower.

The glaring yellow of the sun: the sun isn't really yellow, is it?

The pale yellow of a shirt: maybe Ecru could be a shirt color?

The grisly yellow of a villain's teeth: the villain -ick- maybe just needs some dental hygiene tips.

The happy, golden yellow of the heroine's hair: the heroine's hair color tells me she's in the calm before the storm. I can't see her hair being described that way during an argument or while she's hanging from a cliff.

"The heroine's happy, golden yellow hair danced gaily in the wind as the heroine walked the plank and jumped to her impending death in the shark-infested waters." See? It just doesn't fit.

Next week, I'll post the reason I use several dictionaries.

10 Blessings

I found this challenge on Jennifer Tizai's blog. I couldn't pass it up.

Share a little about:

1. a friend who has blessed me - My friend Julie walks with me for exercise when it isn't so hot outside. I need the encouragement to keep exercising - and she's there for me.

2. an unexpected gift - My neice Michelle called to pull advice from my 20 years of marriage since she's getting married in December. I was thrilled to be asked.

3. a kind word shared with me recently - My mom is always saying something nice to me about what she sees in my writing life, parenting, or other parts of my life. I'm blessed to have an encouraging mom.

4. something that makes me stop and praise God - I love to acknowledge what God is doing in my kids. My daughter recently decided that she needed to be baptized. We wanted to wait until the kids knew what was happening. Now she knows and will remember the day. I praise God for letting me see spiritual growth in my kids.

5. something I'm looking forward to - The ACFW conference is just a few weeks away. I will be seeing some people I've already met and some I'll meet for the first time. It's going to be a lot of fun.

6. the part of me that I'm pleased with - I'm determined to grow and mature in my writing. Some say I have a stubborn streak. Okay, anyone who knows me can see that I have a stubborn streak. I will push myself to achieve success in writing, no mattter how long it takes. I'll not be a slacker, that's for sure.

7. something in my life that I wanted but never expected - Because of the NON-quality installation of our shower when our house was being built a few years ago, we now have a new shower. Not only that, but the Man of the house decided to spring for a double-headed shower. Extreme coolness!

8. a place that moves me - The ocean quiets my soul and, at the same time, exhilarates me. I love being on sand, looking out at its expanse. I love being in a boat riding along with dolphins or whales. I love being in it and seeing the underwater wonders it holds. I've been scuba diving one time and found the experience to be an incredibly amazing gift from God.

9. one thing or person that always makes me smile - My husband is undoubtedly the one person who makes me smile most often. I think he doesn't like it when I gawk and say, "Man! You are so handsome!" Sometimes he makes me smile as a defense when I get in a growlly mood. I'm glad he realizes that laughter is the best medicine.

10. my most recent love note from God - I pray for my husband to receive guidance from God. So whenever my hubby tells me what God is leading him (which really means "us") into, I imagine a wink from God. I think God likes seeing me recognize His answers to my prayers. Recently, my hubby was led to make a change in our finances. I'm excited about God meeting our needs in new way.

Thanks, Jennifer, for reminding us to remember the ways God blesses us: through nature, through friendships, through family, and through that soul-filling wink from God.

ACFW Conference in September

Imagine a bedroom, its stark white walls bare except for a decorative light switch plate. Clean white sheets and a non-descript blanket are folded and perched on the top corner of the mattress leaning against a wall. White linoleum floor, sparkling clean, made less lonely by a trumpet-shaped floor lamp near the mattress and a wire hanger thrown carelessly into a corner.

The setting is basically a blank page, full of anticipation, waiting for a story to begin. Writers begin their career journey with a blank page, but the light switch plate and floor lamp in the setting above are evidence that we at least have an idea of where we want to go. The hanger is evidence that we all have something we need to get rid of because it doesn’t add to the plan. Building an interesting and colorful career takes effort, a plan, tools, good advice, and persistence. ACFW, according to their website, is Where Christian Fiction Begins.

Hundreds of writers are going to the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas this September to keep their ears open for new details that will guide them further down the road to success. With every publisher’s rejection, with every personal crisis, there are many more notes of encouragement and pats on the back that keep us going.

One who has made a mistake may hear the voice of doom calling out, “You’ve made your bed, now you have to lie in it.” However at the ACFW conference, writers will hear, “In order to lie in it, you first have to make the bed. Here’s how:…” Success often comes after strategic planning meetings with advisors.

Many writers’ success stories include a road bump or two. Overcoming conflict on a personal and professional level colors the road they’re on. New writers need mentors to help them decorate the stark white room of their unadorned career and help them avoid problems.

Most people want the road to success to be completely rosy, but when we hastily embrace the roses, we wince at the thorns that we notice only after it’s too late. How can we keep moving down the road to success and still enjoy the roses? We listen to experienced voices in the community.

ACFW is a community of Christian fiction writers who care enough for each other to hand out the necessary tools we all need along the way. The rose-grabbers can listen to the voices that warn of the need for appropriate tools. “Take this and snip off those thorns,” experienced voices say. When writers accumulate new tools and learn to use them well, they’re able to help others. When each member helps another, we work in unity, speeding the growth of all writers and building the quality of fiction along the way.

More importantly, ACFW is a Christian community of like-minded professionals who seek God’s best. Newbies and best-sellers go hand-in-hand before Almighty God, singing together and praying with a humble heart.

The ACFW community wants to help all fiction writers transform the stark white room of their career into a dazzling room that’s ready for the cover of House Beautiful or Creative Home magazine.

Scenes and Beans Press Release

Press Release

August 1, 2006

Laura Domino has landed a role in Scenes and Beans, an entertaining character blog based on the new Kanner Lake suspense series by best-selling author Brandilyn Collins. She will be writing posts for Sarah Wray, owner of Simple Pleasures home décor shop in Kanner Lake.

According to the site (www.kannerlake.blogspot.com), Scenes and Beans is ‘brought to you by Java Joint’, the coffee shop in the fictional town of Kanner Lake, Idaho, where the eclectic and eccentric locals hang out. Writers for the blog are from the U.S., Canada, and New Zealand. “Laura Domino was chosen because of the creativity in her auditioning post,” says Collins. “Laura is a talented writer, and I’m thrilled to have her as a part of this international project.”

Eleven characters from Java Joint post Monday through Friday, telling humorous and poignant stories about their lives in Kanner Lake-until tragedy strikes. The posts are in real time according to events in the suspense series, which launches in August with Violet Dawn. In the novel, Paige Williams, a newcomer to the town, slips into her hot tub in the blackness of night-and comes face to face with a corpse. Fleeing a dark past and afraid of the police and media, Paige must make an unthinkable choice about what to do with the body. Soon the whole town is in pursuit of the truth, and the killer in their midst.

The blog lists the eleven characters and links to www.kannerlake.com, a Web site that explains the suspense series and lists the writers for Scenes and Beans.

The Kanner Lake series is published by Zondervan, a division of HarperCollins. Senior Acquisitions Editor Sue Brower said, “We fully expect Violet Dawn to be the biggest best-seller yet for Brandilyn Collins. The Scenes and Beans bloggers are a select group of writers who will gain exposure through their character posts, which will be read by many fans of the series.”

Visit Laura Domino’s Web site at www.lauradomino.com


Kanner Lake’s resident bloggers:

Bailey Truit, owner of Java Joint and originator of the Scenes and Beans blog.

Wilbur Hucks, a town curmudgeon who proudly shows off his scar from heart surgery.

Hank Detcher, an Idaho born and bred pastor who loves to fish and is always ready to listen.

Jared Moore, an experienced reporter with a nose for news, and owner of the Kanner Lake Times paper.

Jake Tremaine, a recently retired logger (and lover of gossip) who’s driving his wife crazy at home.

Leslie Brymes, an ambitious young reporter with a charming air of flamboyance.

Angie Brendt, a retired school teacher who’s always up for fun.

Bev Trexel, a retired school teacher who’s more than a little set in her ways.

Carla Radling, an attractive young realtor who loves to argue with the town curmudgeon.

Ted Dawson, a.k.a. S-Man, a laconic science fiction writer whose head is always in his created world of Sauria.

Sarah Wray, owner of Simple Pleasures home décor shop, and all-around cheerleader for the town of Kanner Lake.

Ten Heroic Qualities

I've been thinking about what a hero should be since I read Karen Ball's July 24th blog post on Charis Connection.

I thought about ten of my favorite heroes from movies of 1969 to 2005. The heroes share at least three of my ten favorite qualities that a man should experience.

James Garner's character in Support Your Local Sherriff isn't particularly romantic, but he is quite patient, creative, and smart. A hero doesn't have to be an expert on romance, but he does have to exhibit leadership qualities.

Cary Elwes as Westley in Princess Bride was driven, brave, and caring. He didn't walk around claiming to be a hero, but he was one.

Bill Murray's character in Groundhog Day had no choice but to make changes in his day. In the middle of the story he was driven, but later he was caring and friendly.

In 1995, two movies came out that had very different heroes. But I like both. Bill Pullman's character in While You Were Sleeping was friendly, patient, and driven. Harrison Ford's character in Sabrina was flexible, then caring, then desperate.

Val Kilmer's character in The Saint was creative, brave, and caring. One of the most romantic things about the movie was him remembering her medicine. What was important to her had become important to him.

Tom Hanks in You've Got Mail gave a good example of a friendly, patient and creative hero.

Hugh Grant's character in Notting Hill was friendly and caring, then driven.

Nicholas Cage's character in The Family man was smart, flexible, and desperate.

And last, my favorite movie of 2005: Hitch. Will Smith's character was smart, creative, and vulnerable. He was also desperate at the end. I loved the fun ending.

Each of these heroes is unique, yet displays at least three of my favorite ten heroic qualities.

In my opinion, a hero must be:

brave enough to face the danger,
creative enough to solve the conflicts that arise,
driven enough to keep going against all odds,
patient enough to keep his cool,
friendly enough to attract the heroine,
vulnerable enough to allow his human side to be seen,
flexible enough to change direction when necessary,
caring enough to think of the little important things,
smart enough to make good decisions,
and desperate enough to do anything to get the girl.

MacGregor Interview at Novel Journey

I am highly interested in the interview at Novel Journey this week with Jerry Chip MacGregor, Associate Publisher with Hachette Book Group USA (formerly Time Warner Book Group).

Gina Holmes has an impressive list of author interviews on her Novel Journey site. Chip MacGregor's three-day interview began on Monday. Warning: read at your own risk. The interview is not for the faint of heart, the self-righteous, the legalistic, or truth-haters.

Personally, I find Chip to be a refreshingly honest voice and a welcome opinion regarding Christian fiction. There's no hiding behind what "should" be said. He says what he thinks.

I've been priveleged to listen to him speak at writers' conferences. His industry updates are valuable for me. And I get to see that he's human just like the rest of us.

Join me and the rest of the crowd at Novel Journey for Chip's riveting interview.

What are you waiting for? Go.

Getting To Know God

I keep learning new things about God. He's so amazing!

God has so many facets. He is so many things to us. If we only know Him as Savior, we should keep seeking Him. Keep praying. Keep waiting for more revelation.

Let Him reveal Himself to you. Keep listening for His guidance. He may pull you into prayer late at night or wake you up early. Be ready to receive what He wants to share.

Get to know Him as Provider and Protector. Let Him show you how much He cares. Obey His nudges. Heed His call. Forget aout the nervous screaming world we live in. Love others in His calm love. If He's not worried, we shouldn't be.

Scenes and Beans

...and we have lift-off. All systems are "Go". The Scenes and Beans blog started its orbit through cyberspace today. This character blog has blasted onto monitors large and small and will be drawing devoted readers by the thousands. Don't be left out of the excitement.

Scenes and Beans will tell the story of the citizens of Kanner Lake. Violet Dawn is the first book of the Kanner Lake series by Brandilyn Collins. No doubt anyone who has read a Brandilyn Collins suspense novel will rush out for a copy of Violet Dawn as soon as it hits the stores.

I've read it so I know it's good. You can read the first twelve chapters early by checking out the Kanner Lake site.

I've also been invited to be a part of the Scenes and Beans blog. That's right! I'm writing blog posts for Sarah Wray, the character who hires the heroine.

July Fourth

Tomorrow is the big day!

We usually celebrate independence by gorging ourselves with food and then igniting explosives.

We'll be playing horse shoes and croquet. And maybe bring out the vacation photos. Maybe.

But one thing I'm sure I'll be doing is making the Scenes and Beans announcement.

What announcement, you ask?

I've been selected as one of the writers of the Kanner Lake series character blog - Scenes and Beans. Wow! I'm so excited.

I'll be telling my family to read the blog and let me know what they think. You can too!


I'm back! The vacation was just what I needed.

My husband wants to go back to see the observatories, more beaches, more of Kauai, and more beaches. He promised to take me and the kids with him. How nice!

We saw so many beautiful places - too hard to pick out a favorite. We saw lava spewing into the water, Moloka'i by helicopter, and the wettest spot on Earth. I was also thrilled to see a black sand beach, a taro field, and a grove of Macadamia trees. I ate fresh papaya right after our tour guide knocked it off the tree.

And we also saw chickens. A lot of chickens. Roaming free throughout the islands. Woke up at 4 am because of a rooster who apparently had an early appointment.

My research went well. I went on a few tours. The tour guides were very informative and helped me with spelling. Other tourists asked why I was taking notes - it's a vacation, right? I had to pull off my tourist mask and bare my writer's soul. When I admitted I was getting my facts straight for a novel, one older gentleman kept after me the whole trip. "Did you write that down?" "Yes." "Are we taking a test at the end of the tour?" "No."

I guess my favorite moment was when we arrived at my mom's to pick up my kids. My son's face was awesome when he saw we were back. I love getting kids' kisses.

Hawaiian Excursion

Happy Anniversary to me! And my honey, of course. We've been together a long time, so we thought we'd celebrate by letting me do a little writing research. hee hee

I have a few scenes in Hawaii in one of my stories. I've been all over the internet trying to make my setting right, but I don't think I quite have it yet. Can you imagine trying to describe the taste of ice cream without ever tasting it yourself?

So the hubby is going to experience with me all the romance that Hawaii is so famous for.

I can't wait!

Anyone who has read this blog on a consistant basis knows that I only post one day each week. I'll be gone next week, so this is the post that is supposed to be read next week.

Enjoy your week.

I know I will.

STORY, Part 2

Robert McKee's STORY has given me a creative boost. A push to strive for uniqueness and excellence.

If I read through my story and find a boring part, it might be because I let the reader know what's ahead. If I give clues to lead the reader into one area, and then storm through with the action taking the reader into a different area, I give the reader a happy surprise. Readers love happy surprises. They want to be thrilled by twists and turns.

Let's see what I can do with a practice scene. I'll start with Mary in an ice cream store so Bob can surprise her outside the store. My job in this scene is to hold back some information and redirect the reader's attention so I don't spill the beans.

__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

Jeff held open the door of the Icy Delight ice cream shop while Mary entered, shuffling in her flip flops. She looked up at the bundle of bells jingling at the top of the door when it closed behind him. Gracious! The guy's tall. She turned her gaze to the long counter displaying many of her favorite ice cream flavors. "What kind do you like?"

"I always get a vanilla cone. What are you having?" Jeff moved closer to her on his way to the counter, avoiding the little boy in the booth kicking a nearby empty chair.

"I don't know. I'll look around." She shuffled beside him until he stopped at the vanilla, and then she inched around a family of four. "Thanks for the ride down the block, by the way. I sure didn't know about the fire at the frozen yogurt stand. It must've happened last night." She walked to the end of the counter and back to Jeff.

"I didn't mind stopping to pick you up." He ordered his cone and stepped back from the counter.

"Too many choices. Oh, I'll just get a chocolate cone." Mary hesitated. "With sprinkles."

He took his vanilla cone, paid, and licked the edge of the cone where the ice cream had begun its descent.

Mary took her cone, paid, and swiveled her body toward the door. When she looked down, she saw the foot of a small girl who was standing right where her own foot was about to land. Mary moved her foot away in mid-step, but her ice cream tumbled to the floor in her effort to miss the child. When she shifted her weight, she lost her balance and hurt her ankle in the fall. She landed in the ice cream mess, but the child was fine.

Jeff held out his hand to her. "Can you get up?"

"Yes. I'm okay." Mary tried to stand, but her ankle hurt too bad to walk on it.

"Okay, huh?" He steadied her with his arm around her shoulders.

"Well, I can hop." She grinned with fierce determination.

"Stubborn woman." He threw the rest of his cone into the nearby trash can and picked her up.
"Put your arms around my neck."

"Jeff, put me down." She grabbed onto his burly shoulders and felt a little awkward. What would people think?

He looked pretty happy to have her arms encircling his neck. "No. I'm going to drive you home." He carried her to the sidewalk by his car.

A brand new red Lexus slowed and pulled into a parking space just past Jeff's car. It was Bob! He got out, slammed his door, and walked around the back of his car. "I knew it! I knew you were dating someone behind my back. Put her down, Jeff. She and I have to talk."

Jeff set her down on one foot beside his car. She leaned against it while he opened the door.
She hurried to get inside and shut the door, yelling through the open window, "Bob, calm down. I'm not dating anyone but you. Really. This is all very innocent."

Jeff forced Bob away from his car. Bob shoved him. Jeff shoved him back and pushed too hard. Bob entered the street. He came running at Jeff and swung his fist so hard he fell onto the back of Jeff's car when he missed.

Mary leaned through the open window. "Stop fighting! Bob, you don't understand." After the car stopped it's tiny rocking from Bob's fall, Mary sat back in her seat and twisted to keep watch.

Bob ran at Jeff again and crammed a solid punch into Jeff's abdomen. Jeff backed up between two parked cars and threw a left across Bob's jaw and a right into his chest. Bob staggered backward into the street too far, too fast and was hit by a truck that screeched to a stop just past Bob's car.

Jeff ran to his car, started it, backed up, and wheeled away with Mary as speechless as the wind.
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

Do you like the scene?

Even though I let you know that Bob was going to surprise Mary, I didn't tell the important part. The truck that hit Bob was the irreversible, unexpected gap between the reader's expectation and the result.

I realize the scene needs more fixing before it is a bearable part of a story. But hey, isn't this what learning is all about?

STORY, Part 1

I've been reading Robert McKee's STORY. Though it's geared toward screenwriters, novelists can learn much about creating an engaging story. It gives example after example (from many different movies) about how to keep your audience riveted.

I'm not finished with the book yet, but when I do, I'll re-read all the penciled-in underlines, circles, and stars on the dog-eared pages.

Reading STORY has made me aware of many ways to make my stories better. I liked studying how to analyze a scene. I learned about the gap between expectation and result. I also like what he wrote about subtexting.

One thing I'll work on in my story is developing more clearly the gap between audience expectation and the on-screen (or on-page) result.

Next week, I'll post a practice scene to show what I learned.

Did I do something right?

There is a nearby Chinese restaurant that we frequent to pick up a bag of food and bring it home. In the big bag of food, they always include a small bag of fortune cookies. We've done this often enough for our kids to understand that you get to read your "fortune" when you break open a cookie.

This weekend, my husband and I brought home Chinese food again, and I left the paper from the cookie on the table. When the kids got home from school, they read it just out of curiosity. I looked at the paper a few hours later and there were words penciled on the back side of it.

The new fortune? "You will say No to your children."

My husband and I both laughed. Maybe we're doing something right.

Kids like to have boundaries, whether they realize it or not. They act better when they know the limits. Saying No is a loving teaching tool for little minds. When you do it well and relatively often, they learn to have appropriate behavior.

When I relate this to writing (you knew I would, didn't you), I look at the boundaries of the different genres. If I write a romance, it will not look like a psychological thriller. If my story wants to flee down a path that's not right, I'll have to pull the reigns and focus on the right path. I'm in charge of my story, although sometimes it doesn't feel like it. I need to let the story have the freedom it needs while staying within the genre boundaries.

Apparently I say No a lot. One of my children recognized that it was a word that would be said in my near future. She was right.

If I wait for the right moment, it's effective. If I say it too much, that weakens its power. I think that's true for most good answers.

I've already mentioned in a previous post about my rejection from an editor. Sometimes No is disappointing. Sometimes it proves that God is our Protector. No helps my children feel loved. No helps my story keep its focus.

There are times when parenting (and writing) feels really hard to do. And the other times - when I see the benefits of my efforts - give me the energy to press on.

The Tapestry of the Human Community

God heals, but not with only one method.

God reaches one person through the hands of another.

I have noticed that God weaves us into each others’ lives for a larger purpose than we can see. We connect with those around us, and whether we realize it or not, that connection is necessary to the connection of others.

The big picture is seen when the little pieces come together. No one lives his life untouched. Someone is always around to lead you or to see and follow you. God is the one supplying you with blessings. He is the one that created you to live in this day and time. Within your sphere of influence, where you go to be a blessing is up to you. Your obedience to God and enjoyment of the task He leads you to is up to you.

Focus on the people God has given you. How will you touch them, influence them, help them?

Should you blend in like a simple leaf on a tree or stand out like a red ball in green grass? The answer is not found in a whim or a list of likes and dislikes but in personal purpose.

If each of us does the job we were created for, our obedience will give pleasure to others while fulfilling our own purpose. The one who stands out like the ball was created to be noticed. The one who blends in like the leaf was created to give aid and comfort without being noticed. A boy runs into the back yard, sees the ball, and plays with it. When he’s tired and hot, he looks to the shade created by the leaves on the trees. Each purpose fulfilled. Each job appreciated.

If you are to stand out, remember no one stands alone. There are those who, like blades of grass, raise your feet onto their shoulders, enhancing your view. They support you in rest and catch you when you fall. If you are to blend in, there are those who will share with you their blanket of color. They add to your success, knowing one leaf cannot do it alone.

Do what’s in you. Do it with all you have. Do it knowing God is weaving you where He wills.

The Blue Ink Checkmark

What you can learn from a blue ink checkmark?

My only rejection letter was sent to me years ago in response to the only proposal I’ve ever sent to a publishing house.

I was writing a children’s book and asked a friend to do illustrations so the publisher would have a good idea of my intentions. I also worked on back cover copy and endorsements from real children. I thought I had covered my bases, so I sent it off.

After a while, my proposal came back to me with one sheet added to it. I read it slowly and carefully, hoping to glean as much information as I could from it. I don’t remember what the exact words were, but among them stood two fearsome letters: NO.

I got the message.

The sheet was a poor-quality copy and displayed a single blue ink checkmark hovering over one of the lines in a column of options. No signature. No suggestions. Only a single checkmark.

I was disappointed in my story’s failure to grab an editor’s attention, but I was more disappointed that all my effort was answered with so little ink.

Today, I know much more than I did then about the world of publishing. That checkmark sent me back to my copy of a writers’ magazine to look at the conference listings. I didn’t go to a conference right away, but ordered several conference tapes and listened to them. I took notes and listened again. I learned not only about the creative end of my chosen career, but also about the business end.

I eventually went to Glorietta Writers Conference. There, I got feedback on two other stories. The woman giving the critique told me much more than a checkmark ever could. No checkmark ever gave me a list of how to books to get me started down the right path. No checkmark ever challenged me to make changes and rewrite. All the checkmark told me was, “No.”

Now, as I think about it, I’m glad God gave me the stubborn attitude that urges me onward with, “When I see a NO, I’ll just turn it on its head so it’ll say ON.

I have pushed forward to other stories and other writers' conferences (Mount Hermon and ACFW). My current stories have proven that I'm growing. I only needed one NO to push me ON to the right path. I haven’t given up. I’m still learning. Maybe one day soon, an editor’s response will read, “Yes.”

Thanks, God, that You’re still leading me.

Four Things

I can't help it. I have to do this. It's too fun to pass up. I read several different Four Things posts on different blogs and decided to accept the challenge.

4 movies I'd see again:
1. Sabrina
2. Dave
3. You've Got Mail
4. The Great Escape

4 places I've lived:
1. mom's house in Texas
2. my college dorm in Texas
3. my first apartment in Texas
4. my first house in Texas
(Hey, I was born here. Why would I want to leave?)

4 TV shows I enjoy
1. EXTREME Makeover - Home Edition
2. PBS documentaries on the awesome beauty of nature
3. any PBS show about Jazz
4. Andy Griffith reruns

4 of my favorite vacation spots
1. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
2. Orlando, Florida
3. Yosemite, Califorina
4. Athabascan Glacier, Canada (where my brother got muddy up to his knees and had to sit in the back of the station wagon in his underwear while his jeans and socks, which were snuggly tucked in the back window, flapped in the wind to dry as we drove away.)

4 websites/blogs I frequent
1. Forensics & Faith
2. Camy's Loft
3. Pyromarketing
4. ACFW Forum

4 foods I like (in no particular order)
1. Italian
2. Asian
3. Seafood
4. Bakery Items
4. Greek
4. Mexican
Okay, so I'm easy to please!

4 places I'd rather be
1. on a NYC booksigning tour (I'm currently unpublished, but they have great restaurants.)
2. on a secluded beach with my husband
3. getting my hair and nails done
4. on a daytime talk show promoting my second book (I'm still unpublished.)

Anyone who wants to accept the challenge please consider yourself tagged. Post a comment here to tell me where to go to read yours.

Terri's Brother

I'm working on my writing. Training. Learning. Improving. And going to concerts.

My sister invited my family to a Wayne Kerr concert at her church. Of course I wanted to go. My husband and I've been on a mission trip with him. He's talented, fun, and has a huge heart for God.

He related funny anecdotes about his recent trip to Indonesia. He thinks teens need to spend time in other countries so they won't take for granted all the freedoms they have here. When we leave home and stay a couple of weeks overseas, we learn a lot about other cultures. Punctuality and personal space take various forms depending on where you go. It sometimes takes a little getting used to.

Wayne is a great singer/song writer, but he's also Terri's brother. I met Terri and her husband Dave before I went on my first mission trip. She has an awesome voice. She and our friend Vickie and I sang in Belize, Jamaica, and Texas at various events before we had kids. Years later, the trio split up. It wasn't geographically convenient to continue since Terri and Dave left Texas for a great job - and I was busy raising my little family. I miss seeing her, but I appreciate the chance to go to Wayne's concerts when I know about them.

Thanks for the wonderful worship music, Wayne. Enjoyed the prayertime-video. Hope your wife had a happy birthday.

Prepare with Prayer

I will not be at my usual place next week because I'll be on my way back home from a writers' conference. I'm pretty excited about going to the Mount Hermon Writers Conference.

I went to the conference last year and loved it. This year, I'll know my way around a little better, and hopefully, I'll get a little more out of it. I'm hoping to not have that freshman wide-eyed stare this year. Hoping to look a little more like I belong there.

Last year, my roommate used a lot of patience with me at night when I was tired. We were talking about my characters. She was trying to help me. I was really tired - and a teeny bit scatter-brained.

Thank you, God, for experienced writers who love to help out the unpublished and unenergetic conferees.

This year, I'll have a different roommate. Big surprise. Maybe I won't scare this girl off. The good news is that my first roommate and I still love each other. Of course she loves me. She's a godly woman.

I know that God has called me to write. I wouldn't spend money on conferences if I wasn't sure of my calling. I also know that success doesn't show up just because I'm called to write. I must prepare.

The best way to prepare is to ask God what He wants. After all, prayer is talking WITH God.

I've looked through my Bible to find scriptures that mean something to me regarding this particular conference. Psalm 42:6 "...I will remember you from the... heights of Hermon..." I'm going to Mount Hermon. I definitely plan to remember God every day from the heights of Mount Hermon. I'll be asking for safety as I walk up and down the hilly campus to get to various workshop locations. I'll be asking for wisdom so I can carry on intelligent conversations with experienced members of the writing community. I'll be asking for guidance in all areas of my experience there.

Psalm 47:6 encourages us to "sing praises to God" and "sing praises to our King". I will be joining in the crowd of worshippers singing praises to our Living God.

Psalm 57 reminds me that I take refuge in the shadow of God. I cry out to Him and He fulfills His purpose for me.

Psalm 52 speaks of my trust in God. "I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever. I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints."

When I talk to God, I usually try to listen. He may want to speak. I know how it is when my son speaks to me, and then leaves without listening to what I'm saying. I sometimes raise my voice so he can hear me as he's leaving. I pray that God will help me hear Him, that He will raise His voice above my emotions this weekend. I pray that I will hear Him well enough that if He chooses to speak through me to someone else, I won't miss Him.

Thank You, God, that You know my weaknesses. Give me courage to serve where You send me.

"to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." Rev 1:6


In any good story, there is an opposing force with which the hero must contend. Bad guys.

I've written a few villains and have found that they vary in personality as much as heroes do. I've written a sanity-challenged boyfriend, an ultra rich deceiver, a confused former friend of the hero, a vengeful and scheming former student, and a greedy thief.

Any interesting character has a few good character traits as well as some flaws. The hero's flaws and the villain's good traits make them more real and believable.

When I'm writing about a villain, I'm reminded of the cartoons I used to watch as a kid. The putty tat ran after the tiny bird, but never had enough luck to get what he wanted. Sometimes the bird was incased in claws with sharp teeth bared and ready for the kill, but the bird would always escape.

My guess is readers know before they start the story that they will encounter this same phenomenon over and over. The hero finds trouble, escapes trouble, finds worse trouble, and escapes again.

The fun is seeing what they're escaping from and how they do it. I loved watching the MacGuyver shows and Home Alone. They used whatever they had around them to build a defense against the villain.

My heroes look forward to their ultimate success, and so do the villains. However, I write happy endings. Sorry, villains.

Things I love

Things I love: God, family, friends, writing, laughing, eating, peace and quiet, etc... I love a lot of things, but I don't love everything about all things.

Necessary things I don't enjoy: cleaning my kids' knee scrapes and other wounds, cleaning house, cleaning up after a sick kid, and cleaning up my manuscripts (editing). I will take care of necessary duties, but it doesn't mean I have to enjoy it. I do it knowing there is something to enjoy when I'm done.

When I'm busy editing my work, I try to see it as a puzzle. I love puzzles. (Oops. I forgot to list it.) If I can challenge myself in a positive way, the stubborn determination in me comes out and the editing gets done. The key to staying positive is making a game out of it. When I've finished a scene that I really like, I look up at a handwritten note over my desk which asks, "Okay. Now it's good, but can it be better?"

The answer is always, "Yes!"

When I re-read a chapter that I've re-written countless times, I remember that someone else besides me will read it someday and smile. That's the goal. I have to keep doing what I do until it's in the hands of those who need to read it.

When a stranger comes to me and thanks me for my hard work, I'll be glad I didn't give up.

No one benefits if I don't share the story. And I don't get to share the story unless it is written well. So for now, my hard work is done with an eye to the future.

The smiles will come. ...I love smiles.


I am a woman.
I am a wife.
I am a mother.
I am a writer.
I am a sister.
I am a daughter.
I am an aunt.
I am a friend.

Today, I'm also a nurse.

Kids don't generally like being sick - unless they get to miss a day of school. They like that. My son was fine after school yesterday, but as soon as evening approached, he got whiney.

I try to keep my son happy, yet well-behaved. I fussed at him for continuing to whine after I'd repeatedly asked him not to. I told him to whine in his own room. He started crying. I was frustrated.

I asked him why he was crying. He kept crying. I told him to stop crying. He kept crying. I was frustrated and annoyed. He stopped long enough to utter nonsense that had the word stomach in it. I asked questions and pressed his abdomen. Nothing he said made sense, except that his stomach hurt. We watched him whine and cry through dinner. He only ate a few bites of kiwi fruit.

All mothers can guess what happened next.

In just a few seconds, I graduated from nursing school. At the same time, I became a professional carpet cleaner. (Club Soda is mommy's little helper.)

Why is it that mothers have this enormous guilt when they look at situations through their 20/20 hindsight? I felt so bad for fussing at my son. I wanted to rewind and hold him on my lap instead of trying to make him go to his room for being so annoyingly whiney.

My kids are well most of the time, but when they feel bad I always want to know the details. There should be a panel a mother can open to see what her child's problem is. The hand on the forehead is good, but doesn't tell the difference between 101 degrees and 99.5. I need one of those diagnostic handheld devices I used to see on the USS Enterprise. I'd be using it whenever my kids exhibit strange behaviors, or if they're unusually cranky.

My son liked staying home from school. I gave him a cup of water and a popcicle, and then he was feeling much better. As a nurse, I give huge doses of tender loving care. It helps with the temperature-taking. In return, I get a little boy's smile and an invitation to play Guess Who.

I'm almost ready to put on my cab driver hat and pick up my daughter from school. I'll try to get a hug and call that a tip.

Work, work, work

Thought for the day: If you never practice the piano, you'll never play in Carnegie Hall.

I feel like a character in a book. I have a goal, but I also have conflict. In order to achieve the goal, I must push through the conflict. I have to work out a plan. I have to be desperate enough to keep at it until I suceed.

If my characters don't feel the goal is necessary, they fade into the page and become nothing. If the goal is absolutely necessary, they will do anything to achieve it.

I have to keep working at writing. I keep learning and applying. I try this and that until I find that plan of attack that is most effective for me.

I don't mind working at writing. I love writing. It's the juggling that gets me.

God has given me a wonderful family, but they take a lot of my time. I do a lot for them, and they give me some time for writing. But just taking off one hat and putting on another several times a day gets me frustrated. I know many writers do much more than I do in any given day, but that knowledge doesn't really help me. Everyone has challenges.

I have to forget what others are accomplishing and focus on my tasks. I have to forget that the dryer is buzzing and finish my sentence. I have to forget about planning a summer vacation and focus on now.

I know I'll suceed as a writer because I know God called me to write. But I'll never be the writer God wants me to be unless I work at it right now.

Happy Valentines Day

Ahhh... February! The month of love.

Anyone that wants to be sweet doesn't have to wait for the month of love. But while it's February, let's focus on the moment.

Not all months get to have a color scheme. March/April (Easter)'s colors are the pale hues of beautiful spring flowers: the beauty of God's love. November's (Thanksgiving) colors are brown, orange, and red: the noticeable bright brilliance (orange and red) of God's love on the earth( brown). December's (Christmas) colors are red and green: true love and fresh new growth.

February gets to have red and white: true love and purity. White represents the purity of God's love, and red represents the true love of the Lamb of God who was destined to be crucified before He arrived as a man on the earth - and still He came to us.

In February, everyone gets a card or a verbal greeting of love. Grandparents get cards, parents get cards, school friends get cards, siblings get cards, teachers get cards, etc. If you don't get cards, you get greeted by people in the work force with Happy V Day. Everyone seems happy.

How often do we remember to send God some love notes? I've written out prayers to God and when I think about it, it seems silly. He knows what we're going to say before we say it. Certainly, He doesn't need to read a love note. But reading what I've said to God sometimes makes me remember all He's done for me and that reminds me to thank Him.

God doesn't need glitter glued to red construction paper, but He does want my heart.

Good News - Bad News

The good news is... my work in progress is going smoothly.
The bad news is... I still worry about it being less than superb.

The good news is... I've studied my craft well enough to write a good story.
The bad news is... I don't know everything about writing.

The good news is... I know that I don't know everything about writing.
The bad news is... I still don't know everything about writing.

Sometimes I catch myself going through the dismal joyless blues. Then, being the optimist in the family, I find something good to say in the midst of it. However when I stop at the bad news, it takes a little longer to get the cold engine of my optimism running again.

In school, I was the daydreamer. Our elementary school had nice large windows in all our classrooms. When the teacher lost my attention, it was usually because the wind was swinging on our swingset outside. It didn't take long for me to "see" children playing on the playground and imagine what each one would do.

The good news is... I had fun in school.
The bad news is... my mind was playing on the playground without permission.
The good news is... I graduated with my class.
The bad news is... I was totally clueless about which degree to get in college.
The good news is... I got my BSHE and my MRS.
The bad news is... the job I wanted was unavailable because the industry centralized and put the experienced workers out of a job.
The good news is... I got a job as a manager.
The bad news is... I worked in the mall.
The good news is... my husband got a great job.
The bad news is... okay, I can't think of any bad news after this.

That's what happens when I think of how God has changed my life. He has been with me from before I was born and has blessed me in and out of trials. No life is full of only good news. I love knowing that when the trials come, God is already there with a plan. What bad news can stand up to God??

The good news is... Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords and the Name above every name that can be named.
The bad news is... there are some in the world that don't know this.
The good news is... they will.

Happy New Year

I plan to have a great year. There's a lot of writing to do, so I'll be busy.

I did some writing on my year-end trip. Not much writing, but I was glad to make whatever progress I could make. We were in the car a lot. A lot.

We saw old family homes and drove out to my great-grandparents' old homestead. We saw the house where a different set of great-grandparents lived in town. My mom was born in their house. That house is now owned by my mom's cousin and is being restored to its original luster.

We saw patches of snow in Kansas and patches of burned grass in Oklahoma on our way home. I'm reminded of how much God has blessed me when I hear reports of people losing their homes to wildfires.

Everyone will eventually have a moment of sadness. When yours comes, I hope you are surrounded by love as my family was in our recent sadness.