How Was Joseph A Hero?

Read Matthew 1:18-25

We know Joseph from the Christmas story that is told every December. People talk about the birth of Jesus and all that Mary went through, but not very often is it mentioned that Joseph’s patience was extremely important to how it all turned out.

I can’t imagine what Joseph felt like when he found out his plans had changed without his consent. He knew the baby wasn’t his. He could’ve divorced Mary and changed the whole story.

But he didn’t.

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream to encourage him to take Mary home as his wife instead of divorcing her. He obeyed the angel because he believed the message was from God.

Then he patiently waited to see what God was going to do.

Joseph had heard about Mary’s cousin Elizabeth and her silent husband. Elizabeth gave birth to John about six months before Mary gave birth to Jesus. I’d guess that John’s parents had a lot to say about what God was doing. In fact, the first thing Zechariah did when he could speak again was praise God. He sang a song of praise about what God was doing – and it wasn’t about his son John.

The nine months of waiting and watching Mary’s belly grow was a daily reminder that God had big plans for the baby. Joseph was patient and accepted the blessing from God.

I’m sure Mary was thanking God for giving her a hero husband who stood by her in his patience.


Today's post on Seek God With Me is about God wrapping his arm of protection around us.

If you're worried about family members who are on their way to your home for Christmas, just open your Bible and take comfort in God's plan of protection. Read Psalm 91 - out loud if you have to.

God knows your name. He knows where your family is. He even knows the number of hairs on your head. And he is well able to protect you and your family this holiday season.

Honor God with confidence and trust in him.

How To Improve Heroes, part three

Heroes can’t be lazy. They have to be heroic, so give them something to do. Create an interesting and dangerous character to oppose the hero. Create the perfect setting in which they can do battle. But how should the hero do battle?

Tip #3: Read Techniques of Selling Writer.

This timeless book, written in the 1960’s, has guided countless thousands toward publication. I heard about it from writer resource lists on several author web sites. It’s a very popular book.

Dwight Swain fascinates me with his detailed explanation of how to bring a story to life. I’ve marked up this book cover to cover with pencil, pen, and highlighter. My copy has dog-eared pages, bookmarks, and sticky notes in it. Why? The generous instruction draws me back to continue re-reading the book several times.

But the best way to learn to write is to write. And the best place to begin is at the beginning. Swain’s tips on how to open a story are logical, practical, and valuable.

He teaches on the purpose of the focal character, how to develop a villain properly, and when to add second-by-second details. The way he categorizes story parts into scene and sequel helps a writer organize the events and give the proper amount of time to each event. His tips on building conflict and how to control pacing are also noteworthy.

What is a story? According to Swain, it’s how somebody deals with danger. Little Red Riding Hood had to deal with danger. So did Huckleberry Finn and Scarlett O’Hara. A good story has danger in its beginning, middle, and end. A hero who doesn’t deal with danger isn’t in a story.

For more information about Techniques of Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain, get a copy for yourself.

Coming in January: more tips to improve heroes.

Some Alone Time

Today on my Seek God With Me blog, I share a secret of intimacy with God.

How do you speak to God?

As a servant? As a child? As a lover?

When you check out my blog post, remember to spend a little time with God and put into practice what you learn.

Christmas List

This time of year, children are writing out their wish lists and handing them to parents, but not without preparing for the handoff by putting on their most innocent smile.

With my smile comes a wink. I realize that I'm not getting the things on my list, but it's nice to dream.

1. The Judy Jetson Hairdo Maker:
Many years ago on our early 1970's television, I watched Judy Jetson have her hair done before my very eyes - in seconds - and it looks just fabulous every time. I want one of those machines. Too bad I've only seen the animated cartoon version.

2. Ergonomic Massage Chair with Seat Belt:
I've sat in massage chairs where you press a button, let the rollers bump up and down your spine and you melt into a puddle of mush. When I get my massage chair - in which I will sit and call out spelling words to my kids after school, I won't have to keep adjusting my sitting position because I'll be seat-belted. Also, it will be ergonomically adjusted to my proportions; ergo, it'll be a perfect fit.

3. Stationary Recumbent Bicycle with Laptop Station:
As a writer, I sit in front of my computer for hours without excercising my legs. With this new bicycle, I could lie back, type for hours, and have toned leg muscles. I don't know why these machines aren't for sale at every big box store in America.

4. Rosie, The Jetson's Housekeeper:
Aside from all the trouble that kept plaguing the "futuristic" Jetson family, they had a lot of great stuff to enjoy. When my kids were little, I hired a maid service to help keep my house livably clean. I don't have any maids right now, so if we don't clean house, it's not clean. Rosie the robot housekeeper would sure come in handy.

His Arms Around Me

On my Seek God With Me blog, I've described what happened when my brother and my husband went Christmas shopping with me several years ago.

The story fits neatly with the scripture found in Proverbs 3:5-6. Go check it out and see one of the reasons I like it when God puts his arms around me.

How To Improve Heroes, part two

Real heroes belong in high quality novels. If your hero is drowning in a mediocre novel, save him by improving the novel.

Tip #2: Read Writing The Breakout Novel.

Donald Maass’s mission is, “to help every author elevate his own unique style of storytelling to its highest form.” Although he admits that there is no single formula for the breakout novel, he guides writers through breakout checklists at the end of chapters.

If an author is unique, true to his own voice, shows larger-than-life characters in vivid settings living a high-stakes story, and presents universal themes in powerful details, that author could very easily be a breakout novelist.

This book is intended for competent authors who want to take their writing on a steep climb to a higher plane. It’s for authors who want to continually write “deeply absorbing, always gripping, constantly surprising, and ultimately memorable” stories.

I’ve heard more than one agent ask for life-changing stories. What the great writing technique does is allow the story to reach the heart of the readers so it can change lives.

For more information about Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, get a copy for yourself.

Coming next week: Tip #3

Texas Legacy Christmas by DiAnn Mills

First, we met Morgan from 1884 in Leather and Lace. Then in Lanterns and Lace, there was grant in 1895. Then in 1898, in Lightning and Lace, we met Travis. Finally, it's 1911. This time, the hero is Zack, and the book is A Texas Legacy Christmas. If you read the Texas Legacy series, you'll meet the whole Andrews family and watch their children grow up and have kids of their own.

Zack Kahler, a newspaper man at the New York Times and new owner of the Kahlerville newspaper, plans to move back home to Texas to run his new business. Before returning home, he is the victim of a couple of six-year-old pickpockets who steal his heart.

Chloe Weaver, thin and trembling from hunger, finds work in a boardinghouse keeping the books and helping the cook, but God’s not through blessing her. When she sees Zack and the twins, she remembers how Zack treated her years ago when they were both Miss Scott’s students. He remembers her too. He likes how the little girl has grown up in all her beauty and likes how she responds to the twins.

Chloe wonders if Zack loves her. Situations beyond his control have made it necessary to keep his distance from her. But how can he keep his distance when there is competition for her heart?

DiAnn Mills ends the Texas Legacy Series with a Christmas miracle. I enjoyed seeing the whole family back together. The twins’ wide-eyed wonder of their new surroundings was an appealing view of the city kids’ visit to a ranch.

See my reviews of the rest of the delightful series:
Leather and Lace
Lanterns and Lace
Lightning and Lace

How To Improve Heroes, part one

Heroes can be improved dramatically with great writing skill. So how do we improve our skill?

Tip #1: Read Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.

I’ve read and re-read this book, and I still learn from it. The chapters, from Show and Tell to Voice, give insightful instructions and clear examples. Misdirection in dialogue, removing an abundance of repetition in favor of highlighting meaningful repetition, and how to avoid proportion problems are just a few of the topics covered.

The checklist provided at the end of every chapter reminds the reader of four or five of the main points in a nutshell. I’ve made notes about particular things in the checklist that I want to pay close attention to. But I still thumb through the chapters to look for those circles I draw around important sentences.

I highly recommend this for writers of all levels because it focuses on the basics that are sometimes overlooked. Heroes are as weak as Superman in a Kryptonite jacket when they think something in narrative and then say the same thing in dialogue immediately afterward.

For more information about Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King, get a copy for yourself.

Coming next week: Tip #2


At Christmastime, many people get lost in the busyness of preparing for the planned and unplanned festivities. For instance, they have to get Aunt Mildred's gift at a store she shops at so she can take it back if she doesn't like it. And many people make or buy gifts to keep around in case they get something from someone for whom a gift hasn't been bought.

If you've been lost in a crowd of shoving shoppers, or if you've lost track of the people you came with to a party, it's time to settle down and take a breath.

Today's blog post at Seek God With Me mentions what to do if you feel lost.

Janet Perez Eckles

Janet Perez Eckles is going for it. She’s trying to reach one thousand subscribers with her newsletter, Splash of Inspiration.

I like her newsletter. It's interesting and colorful. She tucks in little scriptures here and there, until it’s packed full of encouragement.

In her November issue, she described how she, a blind woman, picks clothes out of her closet and how that task relates to life. If you hurry, you can sign up for her newsletter before the next issue comes out.

Janet has been through many devastating events and has overcome adversity by leaning on her faith in God. Her speaking ministry brings a positive perspective to heart-wrenching topics. And her writing has helped many people from all walks of life.

In addition to writing many magazine articles, she’s been a contributing author in several books. She’s also been featured in the New York Times (see article ) and in other major publications.

Be a part of her subscriber list. To help Janet, send a blank email to Splash of Inspiration at getresponse dot com . Or see her web site.

There’s never a dull moment with Janet. She describes her author and speaker ministries as:
Faith & Love With a Latin Flair.

A Servant's Heart

Today on my Seek God With Me blog, I posted about how to become a great leader.

Jesus had to fuss at a couple of disciples who made a common mistake. Plenty of Americans make this same mistake. The trouble is that they can recognize it in others, but not in themselves.

If your goal is to learn from the mistakes of others, check out the blog.

Lightning and Lace by DiAnn Mills

Bonnie Kahler can’t help defending her son Zach when he gets into fights with other boys. She believes he’ll stop fighting and settle down eventually. After all, he’s still grieving for his father. Her heart hurts for him because she’s also having trouble handling her grief.

Travis Whitworth’s first day in Kahlerville is more than memorable. After he breaks up a fight, walks the boys back to school, and angers a beautiful woman, wasps sting the palm and top of the same hand. But as the new pastor of Piney Woods Church, displaying patience is part of the job.

Patience will come in handy for Travis since Reverend Rainer is retiring and the residents aren’t sure they trust someone like Brother Travis. Three generations of Bonnie Kahler’s family try to make him feel welcome, but Bonnie and Zach seem to need special prayers.

In this third book of the Texas Legacy Series, Kahlerville comes alive as romance and deceit changes the strong characters who must fight the dangerous lies that threaten young lives. DiAnn Mills captures hearts, ending the book with a whoop and a holler.

Heroes Are Vulnerable

Can anyone be so bold as to turn away God’s wrath? Moses did it with a vulnerable heart.

At a time when the Israelites were afraid they would die if God ever spoke to them, Moses went to the mountain to listen to God for them. On the front and back of two stone tablets, God wrote, carved by his own finger, laws to guide their behavior so they could have long lives on the earth.

But when Moses took too long coming down the mountain, they turned away from God.

Exodus 32:7-14 (NIV)
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’”

“I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “O Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a might hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth?’ Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

It takes a close relationship to put aside all the barriers and allow yourself to be completely vulnerable to someone who is obviously and overwhelmingly powerful. Moses didn’t try to be brave before God. He made himself vulnerable and accessible to God.

Numbers 12:3 shows us that Moses was more humble than anyone else. When you’ve spoken face-to-face with God and felt the weight of his presence, can you find room for anything but humility and vulnerability? Laying our souls bare before God helps humble us. Allowing ourselves to be real before God without any pretense of bravery humbles us.

When a humble man who cares enough for the people he’s been leading turns away God’s wrath with a vulnerable heart, he shows his heroic side.

Lanterns and Lace by DiAnn Mills

A grueling train ride to Kahlerville, Texas is almost too much for Jenny Martin, but she endures whatever humiliation comes her way in order to bring her niece back to her Ohio home. Jenny’s mission to find her sister’s daughter takes her on a journey that opens doors to life-changing events.

From the beginning, Jenny was wary of mysterious stranger Aubrey Turner. Would he help or hinder her quest? She needs information, so she steps from the rail car into one discovery after another.

At the home of handsome doctor Grant Andrews, she learns of her sister’s last request and peeks out the window at the child she’d been searching for. Grant takes her to her sister’s grave in the picturesque serenity of the Piney Woods Cemetery.

Jenny’s heart is strangely softened toward the people of Kahlerville. She even meets a friend who helps her find the key to hidden treasure.

In this second book in DiAnn Mills’ Texas Legacy series, we welcome back beloved Casey and Morgan Andrews and catch up on what’s been going on in Kahlerville since the first book. In Lanterns and Lace, Mills’ characters draw us into the wild Texas setting and keep us there for a romantic picnic under a large shade tree. There is suspense behind every door and a final twist that keeps readers turning pages until the very end.

To Know Christ

Do you know someone who acts like God is a real person that they know? Does that person have conversations with God like they were sitting right there together?

Is that person you?

There is a difference between believing that God exists and believing God. There is also a difference between knowing stories about God and knowing God. My desire is to put effort into knowing God better so my life will show that I believe God.

I want to obey God so I can be a blessing to others. But to obey, I must first hear God. And if I want to hear God, I must spend time getting closer to him.

Today's post on my Seek God With Me blog, is about a man who knew of Jesus. He even met him and spoke to him. But he didn't take the time to get to know him.

What could have been a really great story of success, turned out sad because of a mistake. Find out what happened here.

Leather and Lace by DiAnn Mills

Casey O'Hare had faith the size of kindling sticks and a heart the size of Texas. What she didn't have was someone to help rid her of outlaw Davis Jenkins.

How does a woman leave an outlaw gang and live? It took a long time for Casey to build up the courage to leave Jenkins, but once she did, she had to hide from both lawmen and outlaws.

Morgan Andrews pointed his rifle barrel at her one snowy night and took over her plans, complicating her flight to freedom. He was a man with a grudge, a bad temper, and turquoise eyes that stole her heart. When she was finally able to leave Morgan behind, she wished she could stop thinking about him.

Casey's life had been all about running, and she couldn't stop yet - not until Jenkins was no longer a threat. She hated endangering the kind people who gave her work and helped her along the way, but she couldn't survive alone. She had to learn to trust.

Her journey to freedom was filled with problems. When she faced her problems with faith and patience, she found God leading her to the solution she'd been longing for.

Casey's story is an exciting ride through dangerous territory. You don't know what to expect next in DiAnn Mills' adventure of faith, love, and the wild west.


I love that we have a national holiday to remind us to give thanks to God for all He's done for us.

My only problem with that is that we shouldn't need a reminder. We should be thanking God all year long anyway. But we don't.

On my Seek God With Me blog, I've posted about the lone leper who gave thanks to God while nine others went on their way. It's a challenging story. It makes me think about how often I've had opportunity to thank God.

If you want to challenge yourself, check it out here.

Impatient Heroes

News Flash: I'm still unpublished.

I know, I know. I'm supposed to save the "news flash" for the big announcement that I'm published. But thanks to Deena's offer to review my novels, I thought I'd mention that my novels are NOT in your local bookstore - - - yet!

That very sad fact is stretching the limits of my heroes' patience. They want to pound against the walls of my imagination, want to live in someone else's head for a while, want to be free.

They want to be unwrapped at Christmastime. But, alas, it will not happen this year.

I'm changing one story into two, and that takes some time. It's a lot of work, but I'm loving it. New situations are popping up and new details that I haven't see before.

My villain doesn't want to speak. I'm afraid of getting into his head too much because it's a dark and scary place that should only be entered in an extreme emergency.

My heroes aren't scared of the villains. But I am.

So I hand them a soft drink and offer them a seat and ask for their patience one more time.

And I ask for yours.

Thanks for staying with me, holding my hand, encouraging me. I'm hoping the wait won't be much longer.

Learning To Obey

There are plenty of things I have to do whether I want to or not. Rules I have to follow. Actions I have to take.

But we're all in that same boat. No one gets to do everything they want. Not even children.

I have to train my children to pick up after themselves, serve others, and participate in their own education (do homework). They'd rather just play.

I don't blame them, I'd rather just play too. But I can't. My goal is success and success takes work.

If they don't learn to follow instructions, how will they be able to succeed as adults? They have to learn to obey me now as children so when they get a job, they'll be able to obey the rules and take home a paycheck as their reward.

Today on my Seek God With Me blog, I posted about being determined to obey, especially if you don't want to do what you're asked. There's usually a reward for obedience, even if you don't see it right away.

Colleen Coble's Distant Echoes

You can count on Colleen Coble’s stories to feature an fascinating animal. The animal at the center of Distant Echoes is a Pacific bottle-nosed dolphin named Nani who is being trained by the story’s heroine, Kaia. I’ve always loved dolphins and would really enjoy swimming with them, so I read this book with great interest.

Kaia Oana lives on the island of Kauai and meets Lieutenant Commander Jesse Matthews of the Barking Sands Naval Base while trying to rescue as many people as she can from a tourist boat that was hit by one of the Navy’s missiles.

Since the missile defense system tests had been promising so far, this missile misdirection could be a sabotage. After Jesse orders his men to pull survivors from the wrecked remains of the tourist boat, he watches a young Hawaiian girl, Kaia, holding onto the dorsal fin of a dolphin as she carries a victim in her other arm. She immediately captures his attention because he’d never seen anything like what he’d just witnessed. Jesse pulls Kaia on board his boat with the help of her brother Bane. Even though she's exhausted, she still has enough energy to lean over the edge of Jesse’s boat to reassure her dolphin that she’s okay.

Kaia studies mammal intelligence at Seaworthy Labs and is teaching a dolphin, Nani, to communicate with humans. Jesse hires Kaia and Nani to patrol the coast with a camera strapped to Nani so they have a better chance at catching whoever wants to sabotage the missile tests.

The closer Kaia and Jesse get to finding the one responsible for the tourist deaths, the deeper into trouble they get. They’re worried not only for themselves, but also for Jesse’s young neice.

Kaia’s brothers, Bane and Mano, enjoy minor roles in this story, but get to be the heroes in other books in Coble’s Aloha Reef series.

Colleen Coble has won many awards with Distant Echoes, the first book in the Aloha Reef series: 2006 ACFW Overall Book of the Year, 2006 ACFW Suspense Book of the Year, and the 2006 National Readers’ Choice Award – Inspirational. She won third place in the 2006 Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence for Long Inspirational Mystery/Suspense. And she’s finaled in other contests with this enormously entertaining book.

Alone With God

Today on my Seek God With Me blog, I remind all of us to find a place where we can be alone with God. A place with no distractions will help us focus on what God wants us to think about when we pray.

Check out how a man found a place in his home to develop a good prayer attitude here.

Crimson Eve by Brandilyn Collins

Kanner Lake realtor Carla Radler has a nibble. Possibly a whole bite. She’s positively elated about the chance to sell Edna San’s estate to a tall, dark, and handsome. But Carla keeps her poise in front of this charming man with rich brown eyes. When she learns that this British gentleman with a cocky James Bond attitude will pay cash if he likes the place, she really gets excited. Who wouldn’t?

What Carla soon finds out is that things are not as they seem.

Fast forward to a phone call at Bailey Truitt’s coffee shop, Java Joint. Two of Scenes and Beans blog post authors, Bailey and Carla, discuss Carla’s missed appointment with Wilbur, another Scenes and beans co-author who needs Carla’s help with a blog post. Carla’s in more trouble than Bailey knows. She can’t let Bailey know what’s going on. What if the phone lines are tapped?

Carla’s run for her life takes her into homes, hotels, and cars that conceal her, but only for a while. Her life takes a desperate turn. No one can know where she is. No one. Or he’ll kill them too.

Brandilyn Collins reveals the secrets of Kanner Lake residents one by one in this series. In Crimson Eve, she again mixes real-life with fiction in her references to a real blog called Scenes and Beans, which is based in a fictional coffee shop called Java Joint.

She has woven another well-paced suspense in Kanner Lake, only this time we leave town.

Thanks For The Help

The ladies of my online critique group are busy producing. We're praying for each other. We're sending out pages to be critiqued and sending out finished critiques of everyone else's work.

Some of the ladies have full-time paying jobs. I have a full-time job that pays in affection. And don't worry, I make sure I'm well paid. My kids are sweet enough to give out bonus hugs too.

My husband pays me in an occasional night out or by helping me in the kitchen. He even does some of my chores so I'll have more time to work on my novel.

The critique group has found a few errors and asked important questions and challenged a word or two. But their attention to detail has helped me focus on the words that bring the story to life.

Many busy people are helping me achieve my goals, but my simple thank yous seem too small. So I wanted to take a moment to thank them.

I thank:

God... for calling me to the task of writing, for breathing His life into my story, and for giving me the determination to stay focused until I get published

My husband... for supporting my writing habit and for loving me through it all

My kids... for allowing me some quiet moments by myself and for the extra hugs

DiAnn... for patiently encouraging me two years ago when I met her and for giving me a kick in the right direction lately in her Wordsmith group

Melanie... for hugs, emails , wonderful encouragement, and for coming back to Wordsmith

My family and friends... for not asking every other month if I'm published and for believing that I will be

My critique buddies... for catching problems and for your enthusiasm

Members of ACFW... for answering questions I hadn't asked and for sharing tips for success

I appreciate all the help I've received. Know that I love you all.

Knock. Knock. Who's There?

Everyone knows a Knock Knock joke. Some of them are even funny. My sister's favorite is, "I know a great Knock Knock joke. You start."

The whole point of that style of joke is that you know someone is there. You expect someone to answer the knock.

On my Seek God With Me blog, I take a look at the expectation in Psalm 120.

Consider with me the answer to the following question: Why would anyone pray if they didn't expect God to answer?

Check out the blog post here.

Hearing God and Obeying

Today on my Seek God With Me blog, I take a look at Moses and how he found water flowing from a rock.

Sometimes God gives us success without it being a true success. When Moses disobeyed God, the thirsty people weren't punished for someone else's disobedience. They got their water. But Moses had a privelege taken away.

You can read the story in Numbers chapter 20.

Jesus Is My Hero

Luke 7:44- 48
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Jesus can be called a hero for a million reasons. Here’s just one: Even though I’m a nobody, Jesus makes me feel special enough for HIM to rescue. He makes me feel like I belong with Him. There is an awesome, peaceful joy that comes with the knowledge that God wants you with Him.

When I see how much Jesus cares about me, I want to shout about it.

“Jesus is my HERO!”

Waking Up With God

Today's post on my Seek God With Me blog is about listening to God.

A friend once told me that she didn't ever hear from God. When I told her how I listened and waited for God to speak, she acted like it hadn't occurred to her to listen.

We pray and ask God to do things for us, but if he should ever say anything to us, it scares us. Are we shocked that God would talk to us?

Maybe he's waiting for us to be quiet and listen.

Check out my suggestion that might help us listen to God in the mornings.

Domino Club Changes

I've enjoyed setting goals for the Domino Club blog. It has opened my heart to the opportunities around me.

But the time has come to narrow my focus, and that means I will stop posting to the Domino Club blog.

I must now clear some space in my schedule so I can accept the challenge to rework my first novel (following suggestions from a thorough critique) - and finish my second novel.

After months of challenging myself and others to be more than we are, the encouragement to set goals continues. I'm leaving the blog where it is to support those who need a place to begin. Feel free to review the posts from time to time.

I've set some serious goals for my novels and they need some attention, so that's where I will be.

What I Learned At ACFW

Last weekend, the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference was packed out by multi-published authors and the soon-to-be-published. Old friends got reacquainted and new friends met in the hallways and in workshops. I heard one first-timer say she would certainly attend again next year. “Once you come, you’re hooked.”

Everyone learned a lot either about themselves, about writing, or about their relationship with God. Since I learned many things, I thought I’d take this time to share a few of them.

What I learned at ACFW:

1. If you set your goals low enough, you can exceed them and celebrate. I’m big on celebrating all the baby steps along my journey. It doesn’t make sense to set goals just out of reach and be disappointed when you miss them. I like setting reachable goals. If your goals aren’t motivating you, set them higher, but still reachable.

2. If you know your story well enough, you can change your pitch overnight. In one evening workshop, I, along with thirty others, submitted a one-page proposal called a one-sheet. Three well-respected agents showed us how they come to the decision to pass on a proposal or ask to see more of the author’s writing. They spoke their thoughts on each of the thirty one-sheets so we could make appropriate changes to them before pitching our ideas in an appointment with an agent.

When my one-sheet came to the top of the stack, I found out that my story idea was fine, but I used the wrong format in describing what happens in the story. Being rejected by three agents at the same time was discouraging. However when I realized that the point of the workshop was to prepare me for the agent appointment I’d scheduled for the next day, I gathered my determination. I stayed up that night as long as it took to get my pitch sounding just right. At my 9am agent appointment the next morning, I read the new pitch, answered questions, and tried to show a little passion for my characters and setting. The agent asked me to send a full proposal when the appointment was over. I was dancing on clouds at that point. The determined effort was worth it.

I’m still very grateful for that scary workshop. The three agents were kind and honest. It really helped me see what they were looking for. Thanks.

3. My husband has good instincts. After my agent appointment, I received a critique from an award-winning author. She showed me some manuscript corrections I could make. But to really make it a great story, she said I should break the story into two books. I listened to her comments about why this is a great idea and agreed with her that I could do it. When I came home and told my husband what she said, he grinned and responded, “I told you so.”

Being Distracted

When there are kid noises and laughter coming into my tiny office while I'm trying to write, I have to put in ear plugs and focus on my goal. I know how easy it is to get distracted from what you really want to do.

Today's post on my Seek God With Me blog examines how easy it is to get distracted from what God wants you to do. I think we've all been there.

This is the eighth and final post of The Fear Of The Lord series. I plan to pick up other topics after this week.

Check out two blogs

I've been posting weekly to a devotional blog called Seek God With Me. Currently, I’m exploring the facets of the fear of the Lord in a series which has pulled several scriptures from Psalms and Proverbs. Today’s post is from Proverbs 14:27.

Join me at Seek God With Me for my latest post on the fear of the Lord.

The other blog I’ve been developing is the Domino Club blog. I use that site to encourage us all to love our neighbor often and in small ways. Don’t wait for one giant event to bless those around you. If Christmas is the only time you bless your neighbors, you could stand to be challenged. If you have ideas for helping others, feel free to leave a comment.

Join me at the Domino Club blog to see how you can help out a hungry neighbor.


Today I'm posting part six of The Fear Of The Lord series on my Seek God With Me blog. I've enjoyed taking a look at that deep reverential respect for God from a variety of angles.

Check it out and see what kind of person God likes to confide in.

Review of Sushi for One

Camy Tang’s debut novel, Sushi for One?, is a unique peek into the Asian-American culture. I’m looking forward to the rest of the stories in her Sushi Series about Lex Sakai and each of her cousins who try to avoid the title Oldest Single Female Cousin.

Tomboy Lex Sakai needs a boyfriend, and she needs him now. Or at least before Grandma sees her at cousin Mariko’s wedding. Grandma Sakai isn’t your average good-natured granny. She knows how to wield enough power to get what she wants, even when what she wants (a boyfriend for Lex) isn’t easy to come by due to Lex’s high standards.

Will she find a boyfriend through her volleyball friends, at her workplace, or from her brother’s long list of friends? All she knows is she’d better find one quick. If she doesn’t, Grandma will withdraw her support from Lex’s girls’ volleyball team. She was planning to take them to playoffs, but if Grandma cuts funding, how will she cover the traveling costs?

I thoroughly enjoyed the hero’s part in this story. He was visible, yet subtle. Heroic, yet had an obvious weakness. As I read, I knew they would get together, but was surprised by the ending. In fact when I turned to the last page of the story, I immediately thought, “Darn. It’s over.” I wanted the story to continue because I loved the characters.

This Asian Chick-lit is a must-read for anyone interested in a fun story with dramatic turns. According to the front cover, “Sometimes romance needs a kick of wasabi.”

Lex Sakai and Camy Tang: The Answer

What do Lex Sakai and Camy Tang have in common?

They’ve both played in league volleyball and they’ve both had an injury described in Camy Tang’s novel, Sushi for One?, book one in the Sushi Series.

Go buy the book!

Camy has given encouragement and advice to many aspiring writers. Her advice to me has helped steer my writing in a better direction. Her blog is entertaining and informative and very pink. I'm happy to see her name all over the internet on the cover of this debut novel.

Go buy the book!

When I read Sushi for One?, Camy Tang's lovable characters sprang to life. Her story of four very interesting, yet very different, girl cousins who help each other through difficult situations kept me intrigued and wondering how it would all work out. (See the review in the next post.)

Go buy the book!

Yeah, I know. I'm pretty subtle.

Domino Club: birthday cards

Imagine getting only one birthday card. You have plenty of family and friends, but received only one card. It's a sad thought.

On my Domino Club post today, I give a suggestion that might prevent your friends and family from feeling unloved on their birthday.

Why Is God My Hero?

Heroes are the people you want to be around. You know they'll help you because you know they care.

God is my hero because I've experienced his big love for me. I'll never know how big his love is because everytime I think I see the end of his love on the horizon, I realize I've never seen the end of his love - just the horizon.

God's love extends beyond the horizon. Beyond time and space. It's described in so many ways, but we still can't wrap our minds around it. I've discussed his love in my series on the fear of the Lord. To read it, go to Seek God With Me.

Lex Sakai and Camy Tang

What do Lex Sakai and Camy Tang have in common?

Find out on September 11!

I'll post my review of Sushi for One by Camy Tang next week. I really like the story and plan to give away a couple of copies to local readers. Get yourself a copy, read it, and let Camy know how much you liked it.

Where can you find some more reviews of her book? All over the internet! She has a list of all the bloggers who are interviewing her and/or posting reviews. She also posts interviews and reviews of others' books at her blog.

Love Your Neighbor

Loving your neighbor simply means helping the one near you who is in need. Does your child's classroom need a special events speaker? Maybe you can help.

Every classroom is different. Some teachers want more parental involvement than others. I suggest that parents who want to be involved in their child's education call the teacher to offer your services as a free guest speaker for your child's classroom. My guess is that most teachers will jump at the chance to let someone teach the class about an already scheduled topic in an unusual way.

I dare you to be a guest speaker. For more information, read my Domino Club blog post on this subject.

And you thought loving your neighbor was saying hello to the person nearest you in the church pew.

Writing Christian Fiction

I write Christian Fiction. My stories can be further defined as Inspirational Romantic Suspense novels. If I want my stories to be described like that, they have to meet the criteria. I have to weave together a romance thread, a suspense thread, and a spiritual thread. The stories must have a lot of conflict in each of those threads, but all conflict must be resolved by the end.

Because I write Christian Fiction, the spiritual thread always shows the hero's and heroine's relationship with Almighty God. I try to write the characters' spiritual conflict being resolved in ways that are similar to what I've read in the Bible or similar to what I've experienced. So to bring the reader into my characters' spiritual problems in a way that feels real, I've been studying the fear of the Lord.

The Bible has a lot to say about the fear of the Lord. If you want to study along with me, check out my series on this topic at my Seek God With Me blog.

You Can Be A Hero

How would you like to be a hero and save the day?

Maybe you don't realize it, but there are hundreds of teachers out there pulling their hair out because school is starting and they need another pair of hands to get everything done on time.

Can you use scissors to cut pieces for a project? Can you run down the hall and make copies or deliver an envelope to the office? Can you come read aloud for your child's teacher?

Read more about how you can be a hero on my Domino Club post.


I'm doing a series on the fear of the Lord on my Seek God With Me blog. I'm trying to cover several different scriptures in the series and think about how they all connect.

Just what is The Fear Of The Lord?

God doesn't want us to be fearful of him, does he?

To find out, visit my devotionals blog and read through the series. God may show you some unexpected treasure of knowledge or insight as you seek him with me.

David's Three Mighty Men Are Heroes

Read: 2 Samuel 23:13-17

Once during the battling days of David, the Philistines were in Bethlehem, David’s hometown. Three of David’s men went to him at the cave of Adullam and heard him say, “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!”

My guess is that David was tired and homesick. I imagine he inspired such loyalty that when these men heard David pining over the distance between him and the sweetness of home they couldn’t resist surprising him with a taste of the water he longed for.

These three mighty men broke through enemy lines to get water for David to drink. It took bravery, cunning, and determination to get the job done. They must have had a fire in them to get to the well of Bethlehem and back safely – with enough water to make the journey worth it.

I don’t think they were trying to be heroes. I think they were driven to serve David the unexpected blessing of the one thing he longed for. They knew they could do it. And because they took the risk, made the effort, and accomplished what they were driven to do, they became heroes in David’s eyes.

When they approached David with the water, he couldn’t believe they did that. David took the water from the men, but he refused to drink it.

He poured the water out before the Lord. David, who had shown enormous bravery and who had accomplished many dangerous exploits by himself, was amazed at these men who put their lives at risk for a simple drink of water.

The men were valued beyond the water. Because they were driven to take that one trip behind enemy lines, they received mention as David’s “three mighty men.”

Waving To You

In today's Domino Club post, I mention a way to bring a neighborhood closer together. It's simple really, and it doesn't take much effort.

In today's stress-filled world, many keep their head down and avert their eyes from those walking nearby. It's easy to be alone in a crowd. However, I think we were meant to make friendly contact.

Instead of selling something in a door-to-door fashion, maybe you could give away a coupon for a free neighbor visit. It won't save them any money, but it could be a stepping stone to a good relationship with new neighbors.

Lifting Weights

It's almost time for school to start. That means I'll soon be able to spend a little more time on a regular work out schedule. Honestly, I can't wait.

I spent some time at the end of the school year learning how to use the machines in my local weight room. I felt small and weak every time I moved to another machine because I always had to lighten up the weight. Every time I moved the pin to a lighter weight load on the machine, I was reminded how many other people can lift much heavier weights than I can.

However, there is a weight that even those bench pressers can't lift. In my Seek God With Me blog, I mention someone who can lift it.

To find out who, read the post.


I'm back from a trip out of town to see family. We all had fun and got to hear a great blues guitarist.

When we came home, my kids spent a few days with their grandmother while my husband took me on a couple of dates. He surprised me with something special. To find out what it was, check out my Domino Club post.

I feel like I've been away from my computer for a very long time. My to do list is enormous - and growing. I've got more editing to do on my novel, books to review, and reviews to post. And then there's house work.

Meanwhile, I've got to go pick up more school supplies.

Working on a Project

On my Seek God With Me blog, I've shared a post about a special kind of construction project. Building something always takes time and effort. How much you put into it affects how much you'll enjoy what you see when you step back and look at it.

Check out the post, and then ask yourself, "What have I been working on lately?"

Book Meme

I'm still enjoying the Chris Tomlin song on my July 26 post. If you missed it, scroll down, hit the archives, or check it out here.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd try out this meme I found on some other blogs:

1. What's the one book or writing project you haven't yet written but still hope to?

I would really like to finish my one historical (Civil War era) novel that I was planning to make into a three-book series. I stopped working on it when I decided to focus all my efforts on Contemporary fiction.

2. If you had one entire day in which to do nothing but read, which book would you start with?

I generally reach for a Kristen Heitzmann book, but right now on my To Be Read list are See No Evil and Caught in the Act by Gayle Roper, followed by Reluctant Runaway by Jill Elizabeth Nelson, followed by Midnight Sea by Colleen Coble.

3. What was your first writing "instrument" (besides pen and paper)?

My paper and pencil fiasco was what led me to save my stories on the computer. It's hard to save a copy of your work when you erase to change the story and then decide that erasing was a mistake.

I don't think I saved any stories on my husband's Commodore 64. It was probably the one after that - and I don't know if it had a name. He bought it at a store where he could pick and choose components to get his perfect customized computer. What a sweet geek. Ya gotta know I love him.

4. What's your best guess as to how many books you read in a month?

As a mom who lets the kids distract her with the occasional, "Mom, you gotta come see this!", I barely get through two novels in a month. I know, it's sad. I actually read faster than that, but not while I'm driving, not while I'm cooking, not while I'm... You get the picture.

5. What's your favorite writing "machine" you've ever owned?

The answer to this will probably always be the current machine. My last Dell got old and stopped. I think it still works, but since it stopped right around Christmastime last year, my beloved husband bought me a new Dell, my new favorite. I've never owned a Mac, to my brother's chagrin. Maybe next time.

6. Think historical fiction: what's your favorite time period in which to read?

I prefer contemporary stories, but my favorite historical time period is the Civil War era.

7. What's the one book you remember most clearly from your youth (childhood or teens)?

I remember reading Where The Red Fern Grows while I was stretched out in the back of our 1970s brown station wagon on vacation somewhere in the northwestern states. I don't clearly remember the exact story, but I do vividly remember how it affected me. It was the first book that was so real to me that I cried. I'd never stopped reading to cry before.

Funny how movies make me cry pretty often, but books have to be so well written that I'm in the setting, looking around, almost touching the characters.

If you'd like to answer these on your blog, consider yourself tagged. Enjoy!

Now For Some Writing Time

It's difficult for me to find enough writing time in the summer. I spend a lot of time with my kids. I hug them, discipline them, play with them, and clean up after them. But this week is writing week!

I sent the kids to camp.

They're expectations are set on having lots of fun. They'll be with their church friends, and they're familiar with the adult chaperones. So even though they're young, they'll be fine. I might worry, but they'll be fine.

Actually, I'm much calmer now than I was when I dropped them off. I realized they've gone to our church since they were born. All the adult chaperones know them and would recognize them in a crowd and will watch out for them.

They know them because my kids are regular church attenders. My husband and I have gone to church together regularly since we were in college. We want to live in God's wisdom and we want our kids to find God's wisdom on their own. This is a very good way to start them on their own journey toward God.

If you don't attend church regularly, check out my Domino Club post on this subject.

I view church attendance as a way to build your faith, a way to give back to God, and a way to build a support system of people who will pray for each other.

Now, I'm going to write in silence.

Chris Tomlin Indescribable

God is more amazing than words can say. He is truly indescribable.

Enjoy this song from Chris Tomlin.

Have You Been Talking With Jesus?

Today on my Seek God With Me post, I share the story of two men who were visited by Jesus while they were talking about him.

I don't usually see Jesus in the flesh joining my conversations with people, but I know he's there. He promised that wherever believers are gathered in his name, he would be there.

So seek God with me. We'll look for him together.

Would You Like A Vacation?

Everybody wants to be on vacation. School teachers get summer vacation, but Sunday School teachers usually don't.

Today on my Domino Club post, I describe an opportunity that is often overlooked. We don't realize how many opportunities there are to bless others until we stop to think about the people in our lives.

I invite you to think about those in your life who may not be getting a needed break. Go to the Domino Club and pray about how God can use you to bless others.

Hearing God

Today's post on my Seek God With Me blog features a couple of sisters with different priorities. Who are they? If you guessed Martha and Mary, you're right.

Their priorities on the day Jesus came to visit has brought them much recognition. They had different goals, and both were set on achieving them. Martha and Mary remind me of another set of sisters.

My sister lived her youthful years with all the energy she had - and therefore got into a lot of trouble. I stayed quiet and learned what not to do. Now she's a pastor and I'm a mom and writer. She speaks to a lot of different people every week. I speak to the same three people every week. My sermon is more like, "Pick up your mess, please. Thank you. And get your shoes out of the middle of the floor." My sister lives alone so the only mess she has to pick up is her own.

But Martha and Mary had similarities too. They both loved Jesus. My sister and I do too.

Check out the post.

Boaz is a hero

Check out Boaz.

According to the Book of Ruth in the Bible, Ruth the Moabitess and Boaz are great-grandparents of King David. So David should be really grateful to Naomi for her part in setting up Ruth and Boaz.

When her husband died, Ruth followed Naomi back from Moab to a new land and new people . Apparently, word got out about Ruth’s faithfulness to Naomi. When Boaz found out Ruth was gathering grain in his field, he was generous to her. Not only did he allow her to gather grains from his field, he also offered protection. He let everyone in his field know that Ruth was not to be harmed. In fact, they were told to pull out a few stalks for her to pick up so she’d have enough.

One day, Naomi decided to help Ruth find a good home – with a good man. She gave her daughter-in-law some advice that led to Boaz making an offer to purchase Naomi’s land and taking Ruth as his wife. Boaz cared enough to be friendly with Ruth and with the man who could’ve claimed Ruth as his wife (instead of Boaz). There’s the old saying that you can catch more flies with honey.

Friendliness helped Boaz get the woman he wanted.

Find Someone To Encourage

Today on my Domino Club blog, I left a suggestion for those of us who know of friends or family members who need encouragement. I'm sure we all know of someone who is going through a difficult time. We can be there for them, supporting them, lifting them up.

Usually they don't need much. A shoulder to lean on. A hand to hold. If we only lend an ear while they figure out how to solve a problem, we've helped them.

Check out today's post at Domino Club.

God Is A Writer

Did you know that God writes?

He writes with His finger. He's carved out messages in both stone and sand.

In my Seek God With Me blog, I share my thoughts about what He wrote. Please, feel free to join me there.


Writing a synopsis doesn't have to be a horrible experience. I've been working on a synopsis for a writers' conference I'm going to attend in September. I found help online at Where The Map

Jeff Gerke has put together several writers' tools that can send inexperienced writers down the road to success. His synopsis page offers four methods for synopsis writing.

Method 1 is the basic quick pitch - not really a one-page synopsis. You only mention the most important highlights of the story and leave the rest out. It's important to make the pitch brief. Jeff suggests sixty seconds. Very important to rehearse the pitch before arriving at a conference. Be able to repeat your pitch in your sleep.

I liked Method 2 and Method 3. These two methods hint that a writer should know the 3-Act structure of their story backwards and forwards. These methods help get the fluff out of the synopsis.

Method 4 is for those complex stories that can get too complicated and unfocused in a synopsis.

Having gone to Mount Hermon Writers' Conference this year, I was able to purchase the CD of Jeff's synopsis workshop. The notes I took while listening to the workshop were a little more detailed than his online synopsis page. The CD and the website page works very well together. I suggest having both in front of you at the same time.

Writing a great synopsis is essential if you want to attract the right kind of attention from an editor. So Jeff's writers' tools are quite helpful.

Thanks Jeff.

In The Workplace

Today on my Domino Club site, I'm giving examples of things you can do to show interest in others at the workplace.

My workplace is my home, so this summer I'm showing interest in my co-workers by playing games with the little cutie pies. Around here, those who share my workspace get hugs. But if you don't work at home, you probably won't give as much affection to the people around you as I do.

And you probably won't tuck them into bed at night.

You can check out my post here.

July Fourth

It's almost midnight here and I still hear fireworks popping in the surrounding neighborhoods.

In fact, when we got home around 10:15 pm, my son had counted almost 200 individual explosions as the fireworks popped in the different neighborhoods we passed on the thirty minute drive from my sister's house.

It was too wet to go to the outdoor theater and listen to the symphony play Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture while the costumed minutemen held their torches and lit their cannons. So we played games at my sister's house and watched fireworks on her TV.

My youngest asked if he would get to stay up to midnight. I told him that he was thinking of New Year's Eve, not July Fourth. He laughed. "Oh yeah."

Happy Independence Day, America!

A Unique Calling

Today on my Seek God With Me blog, I compare us to Peter.

Peter had a unique calling. God gives us all a unique calling, and it's our job to submit to what God has called us to do.

Here's the link.

Vacation Highlights

I feel like I’m back in school writing the usual report on what I did on my summer vacation. My title should probably be:

How My Son Overcame The Trauma of His First Trail Ride

One of the opportunities we had during our vacation was a trip on horseback up into the mountains to a waterfall and back to the coastline. We had no idea what an adventure we were about to have.

We, along with 40 others, rode a tour boat to a small dock. After waiting for our tour guide’s directions, we walked through a small village to 40 waiting horses. My group of five was called together to a section of horses where we were assigned the “correct” horse for each of us.

My sister was assigned a tall black horse that responded well to her signals. My husband sat on the wooden saddle of a horse with a one-track mind. Must’ve been a postal service horse. Nothing was going to deter it from its appointed path.

My son’s horse was nice, eager, and didn’t need any coaching. Her name was Alison. She took off with the rest of the horses, and I followed immediately after her. My son was a little upset that Alison didn’t wait for instruction. I yelled out, “Pull back! Pull back!” He did and the horse stopped. I looked around and saw that all five of my riders were on horses, so I followed my son’s horse when it started up again – without my son’s permission.

My horse was great, but the stirrups were in need of repair. One stirrup had leather around where my foot was supposed to go. My other foot was in an oddly-bent, metal stirrup-wannabe.

What I hadn’t realized at that point was that my daughter still hadn’t grasped the whole “kick and click” concept. I heard others clicking their tongue and kicking the horse gently to get it to go. My daughter sat and waited. And watched us leave.

When I noticed my daughter not following us, my sister volunteered to be the cavalry. I stayed with my son, trying to calm his worried mind. My husband almost left his horse and ran to help our daughter, but decided to let my sister get her instead.

My sister is a good teacher. My daughter learned to direct the horse well. She also was able to stay on the horse when her horse started kicking because other horses got too close. I was proud of her first attempt on a horse.

My son wanted off the horse the whole way up to the waterfall. This mother’s heart ached at his unhappiness, but I kept encouraging him, following him. When we arrived at the dismount area, one of the locals helped my son put a foot on the ground, but walked off before his other foot was down. My son’s foot was caught in the stirrup when the horse headed off for a drink with the other horses, tripping and dragging my son. My husband happened to be near my son’s horse and grabbed Alison’s reins as soon as he heard my yell. I, of course, was behind Alison and couldn’t reach her to stop her.

I joined my son and left the horse area. None too soon, from the look on his face. We rejoiced at the falls – most of us. My son just stood with his distraught expression breaking my heart. We took off our jeans and shoes (we wore swim suits under it all), walked across a narrow rickety bridge, and jumped into the water below the falls.

When the time came to dry, dress, and get back to our appointed horses, my husband talked my son into giving the horse another try. The fact that he got back on the horse is, in my opinion, a miracle from God.

I was on my horse already when my son settled onto Alison’s saddle. I was ready, just in case. I think some of his discomfort came from sitting a little off to one side on the saddle – all the way to the falls and back. And the stirrups weren’t the right length for his legs.

I was well aware that either God Himself was walking alongside my son or He’d assigned a couple of extra angels to protect him that day.

On the way back to the boat, my son started singing. “I’m pretending I’m not riding this horse. I’m pretending I’m back at the hotel.” I didn’t laugh at the cuteness of my son’s singing. I was just glad he found a way to overcome his fears.

All in all, it was a day of rejoicing. We let the kids experience new things. But the best part of all was my son dancing to the music on the boat on the way back to the hotel.

Back from vacation

Don't you love visiting with relatives? I do. Especially if I haven't seen them in a long time.

I was at a family reunion last week (my second family reunion of the year) and found out some things about my relatives that I didn't know. I enjoyed listening to stories of what had happened long ago. And I saw old family pictures I'd never seen before.

We talked about their lives, the things they do, things that matter to them. We didn't talk about our yard being too dry or too wet.

We had many thrilling opportunities on our vacation. One of them was related to a gift that I described in my Domino Club post.

Tomorrow, maybe I'll share some of the other opportunities we had.

Seek God With Me

I have a blog that shares a weekly devotional on the subject of seeking God. It's called Seek God With Me. A reasonable title, wouldn't you say?

Since my web site's theme is To Know Christ, this blog is in agreement that in order to know Christ, you have to seek Him. Some posts are focused on our part of the seeking and others are focused on God's response.

Today's scripture is taken from the Psalms. I could've used other verses that deal with visions. And I may later on. But what stopped me as I read through that section of verses was the thought that I'd rather receive direction than correction from God - whatever form the communication takes.

ACFW Conference

I've attended the ACFW Conference for the past two years and have enjoyed what it's done for my writing.

It seems when I hang out with multi-published authors, I become quite reserved and shy. It might be best that I don't say too much. I'm the inexperienced one.

Even though I don't feel comfortable mentoring other writers, I'm not treated as a beginner. At the ACFW conferences I attended, I was shown mercy, kindness, and respect. I was given friendship and advice.

The people are amazing, and the workshops are truly worth the expense and effort. I took notes and bought recordings of some workshops I couldn't attend.

This year's continuing classes are divided according to genre. I'll be in a class with others who share my interests in a more specific way. Last year was my first year to attend the Late Night Chats. I'll stay up this year to do that again.

I didn't attend last year's Early Bird class, but I did sign up this time. This year's class will be taught by Margie Lawson. I took her online course last fall and blogged about how good it was.

I'm so excited! I can't wait for September. My critique partner will be there too. Hooray!

Domino Club

I posted again on my Domino Club blog. The topic is mentoring. You'll have to go check it out.

Do you mentor others? Many people do. Some mentor others without realizing that's what they're doing. Most who take someone under their wing to train and nurture a skill are dedicated and generous with their time. So generous, in fact, that some mentors have to set limits so they're not unintentionally taken advantage of.

Today, I salute my mentor and others like her who dare to care about others.

David is a Hero

Read 1Samuel 17:1-54

The story of David and Goliath is well-known. Goliath was over nine feet tall and had been a fighting man since his youth. David was a shepherd boy. Goliath taunted the army of Israel, but no one was willing to fight him – until David came along.

He heard the shouts of the giant and asked about the reward for shutting him down. He was amazed that they had allowed this giant to continue defying the armies of the living God.

King Saul heard about David and sent for him. David told the king to relax, that he would fight that giant. Of course, Saul didn’t believe that David could do it.

So David explained that he wasn’t exactly inexperienced. Verse 36: “Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.”

David not only fought Goliath, he also killed him. Not only killed him, but killed him with a stone. Not only killed him with a stone, but wasn’t wearing any protection. No armor. No shield. No other weapons. Just a stone in a sling. Not only did David kill him with a stone, he cut off Goliath’s head with the giant’s own sword.

David is a hero because of his unquenchable bravery.

Heroic Blue Man Group

Creative, driven, vulnerable, smart. Four of my favorite ten heroic qualities. All of these four are displayed in the performances of Blue Man Group.

I haven’t seen their show in a theater, only on TV. So I know those of you who have seen them perform live (not on TV) are shaking your heads in pity at me. Don’t worry. I plan to get tickets to one of the performances so I can experience it for myself. But the performance I saw on TV was enough to get me and my son drumming to their music on our carpet.

Surprising audiences everywhere with their twists on a new idea, they ooze creativity under the blue masks. I would’ve never thought to configure the strings on a piano to specific chord arrangements that would sound good when hit with a huge hammer.

The group has been around awhile which leads me to believe they are neither an overnight success nor a one hit wonder. They are driven to keep coming up with new shows. They are driven to achieve new levels of creativity, combining music, drama, art, and science.

Some of their antics show the three men as outsiders looking in on our culture, and at times one of the men is an outsider to the other two. It takes a certain vulnerability to allow yourself to be yourself when you could just fall in line with the group.

And they are smart. A brief clip on the TV showed the Rock Concert tip #237, an overly intellectualized explanation of what the audience had just witnessed, but hilarious. Hilarious.

No, I won’t put the Blue Man Group as a hero in any of my stories, but I do find them heroic in terms of displaying heroic qualities in their performances.

And until I get to be in the theater with them, I’ll drum wildly on the carpet with my son.

Paul is a great hero

Read Acts 17:16-34

Paul is known for being bold and speaking his mind. He presented his facts well and persuaded many to listen to the words of love God wants to speak into every heart.

On one occasion while visiting Athens, he was preaching in an area where non-believers were interested in the latest ideas. Paul was creative enough to use an object those people were familiar with to help them understand the God they didn’t know. By mentioning the altar of the unknown god, he illustrated how God draws people closer to his love without them even realizing that it’s God who’s drawing them.

Paul’s creativity stirred new thoughts in these people. The deep truths of God warmed their hearts. And they became believers.

A hero is someone who risks his life to save someone else’s. Paul went to prison several times for preaching the truth, but he never gave up. His persistence and creativity make Paul a great hero.


Today is not a 24 hour period. When 12:01 am comes, the date may have changed but it’s still today.

If someone asks you to do something today and you put it off until tomorrow, you’re still going to do it today. You can never do anything tomorrow. Whatever you do, you do today.

Today is a life-changing day. Yesterday may have been great, but today is better. Today has potential. You can change your routine and do something unusual or different today. The possibilities are endless.

Plan today well. Don’t let treasured moments pass by without a glance. Focus on making today the best you can make it.

Today you can make a decision that will affect your future. You can begin a relationship that will mean more to you than anything else. You can set aside time for the one who made today and gave it to you.

Genuine love is memorable. It is sought after. It is valuable. The Creator of Today waits for you to receive and enjoy the love he holds in his hand. His genuine love is for you.

There’s no better time to get to know Him than today.

Courageous and Determined

Heroes in comic strips are often drawn with bulging muscles. However in novels, that isn't always the case.

I like to see heroes that take on a challenge, knowing they aren't the superhero type. They stand up to the villain without extrordinary powers and use the gifts they have (and which a lot of normal people have) to defeat him.

Most heroes share the same two qualities found in humans everywhere: courage and determination.

My "Heroic Qualities" post of July 2006 lists ten qualities that I think are common to popular heroes. The first one I list is bravery. A hero must be "brave enough to face the danger". Anyone who flees at the sight of danger cannot be hailed as a mighty hero. Courage is a necessity.

The third one on the list is basically determination. A hero must be "driven to keep going against all odds. If you give up before reaching your goal, you'll never win. A hero must persist as if something inside is driving him like a madman until the goal is achieved.

I say "like a madman" because I mean that he doesn't let the gasps of onlookers affect him. If anyone tells him he'd be insane to oppose the villain, he might answer that he's just crazy enough to do it. This attitude is where the audience cheers, expecting a thrilling victory.

And they usually get it.

John the Apostle is a Hero

Read Mark 10:35-44 This is the passage where John and his brother tell Jesus they want to sit at each side of Him in his Glory. I can picture Jesus shaking his head, rolling his eyes, and putting his arms around the brothers to explain. Verse 43 states, “Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.”

That doesn't sound very heroic.

But John was bold and knew what he wanted. He just had to learn God’s ways. Don’t we all?

We grow up learning how the world works, and then we have to unlearn the world’s ways and begin to train ourselves to act according to God’s ways. John put the words of Jesus into action and prospered in the things of God.

Being flexible, willing to change, and adaptable is a great heroic quality. Flexibility is necessary for people whose goal is right, but whose path holds obstacles. John was able to stay with Jesus and not give up on him even though it wasn’t easy at times. Love makes that possible.

John’s love and flexibility makes him an awesome hero.

Unexpected Treasures

I'm still working on the critiques I received from Mount Hermon Christian Writers' Conference. This year, I didn't try to pitch my novel to editors or agents, but only focused on accumulating as much wisdom as I could. Freelance novelists and freelance editors gave me information and encouragement. New friends visited and laughed with me at meals.

The weather was beautiful all week. But that was expected because of the forecast. What I didn't expect was the treasure I found in a woman I'd met only once before.

Her name is Barbara. She's fun, smart, kind, and quite talkative. Both of us had been wanting a critique partner and couldn't find someone that was the right fit. When a mutual friend could see what we couldn't, she suggested that we pair up. This unexpected treasure has me really looking forward to sharing our writing experiences, being critiqued, and seeing how fast our writing improves with weekly encouragement. I hope I'm able to bless her as much as she's blessed me.

I plan to work on my novels and develop my marketing plan until the day God sends the right agent and editor to me. My job is to prepare for that day. God will show me when I'm ready.

Going to Mount Hermon

I've been to a few writers' conferences, and I'll keep going. There are opportunities to learn in these places that cannot be matched.

I admire the teachers who give their time to help others improve their skills. I've learned from some best-selling authors, some award-winning authors, and some writing professionals I've never heard of before. Anyone interested in writing Christian Fiction should find a Christian writers' conference near them and take plenty of notes.

Mount Hermon isn't near me, but the effort and cost of getting there is worth it. I'll be re-reading my notes for weeks afterward. I usually hear more instruction than I can digest in one sitting.

I'll meet some people for the first time and get reacquainted with my writer friends. This time, I'm travelling with a friend from home. We can share our plans, talk about the workshops, and encourage each other.

I never know which speaker or even which day will mean the most to me. God always has unexpected treasures in store.

Jesus is my Hero

Can you think of anyone more worthy of being called a hero? I can't either. I think Jesus is the best hero ever, and I'll tell you why.

Jesus left the beauty of Heaven to put on flesh and walk this earth. I see this as a manufacturing plant owner coming to the floor of the facility to walk among the workers and see these products he's ultimately responsible for making. When the owner found out there was a flaw in every product that was made, he climbed into the machinery and fixed it so that the flaws were removed - from every product that was ever made or will ever be made. But he died fixing it.

But he came back to life. And when he did, each of the remade products had the flaw removed, but that left a hole in it. He announced that he could fill the hole for free. All anyone had to do was bring the product back to him, and he would fill the hole, which made it possible for the product work the way it was intended.

Jesus did that for us. He climbed into the machinery of man and did what was necessary for our flaws to be forgiven. Sometimes we don't even notice that the emptiness in the place where our flaws used to be needs to be filled by Our Maker.

Our Hero, Jesus, made it possible for us to be brought back to God.

I love that he meets needs that we don't even know about. He's always looking out for us.

You've Got Mail

Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan teamed up to give heart-warming performances in this 1998 romance, “You’ve Got Mail”. This is one of my favorite movies.

When my husband and I watch it together, he’ll comment right at the moment when Joe Fox realizes he’s in love with Kathleen Kelly. “That’s the turning point right there,” he’ll say.

And I love the moment Kathleen recognizes that not only does her enemy have a heart, but he has feelings for her.

I think men and women enjoy great romantic movies because the character never sees that moment coming. It’s fun to see the change of expression on the character’s face. Usually, silence marks the spot.

Every time I watch a romantic comedy or romantic drama, I keep an eye out for dialogue I know that character’s going to regret. They say things to tip us off that something will happen soon to change their current state of mind. There’s a moment of weakness. There’s an inner struggle being played out on the screen. There’s a freefall from the strong defenses that character had built.

I root for the characters. Cheering them on toward their inevitable happy ending. It can’t come soon enough. If the movie is really good, my muscles get tense. To me, this is silly. I know how it ends!

Nevertheless, tense muscles and all, I’ll watch this one again and again.

Speak the Truth in Love

Everybody needs friends. Friends tell you the truth when you need to hear it. They tell you in a nice way, but they tell you.

I have a friend who is too nice to tell me the truth about something I need to hear which might embarrass me, or about an area I need to grow in. She’s the kind of person who thinks, “Who am I to suggest that she change something?”

I have another friend who will tell me the truth all day and all night about my areas that need improvement. I know she loves me because she is direct enough to make sure I get the message and kind enough to make sure I receive it well.

Direct Friend shows her love by suggesting changes before I get embarrassed. Nice Friend will either try to ignore it or share my embarrassment and laugh with me about it until we’re both in tears.

For example, let’s say I don’t know that my skirt has a small, but noticeable rip in it, and I’m about to speak in front of a group.

Nice Friend will probably leave the room to think about what she could do to help me. But she won’t go back in to hear me speak because she’ll crack up at the sight. Of course, not laughing at me, but you know. It’s a funny scene. There I am, giving a serious talk in front of a group, and my rip’s just flapping in the wind. And if one person starts laughing at it, others undoubtedly will too.

On the other hand, Direct Friend will grab me before I’m welcomed onto the stage and pull me into the bathroom to tape the underneath side of my rip. She won’t care if anyone else is in the bathroom watching her lift up my skirt and apply tape. And if she can’t find invisible tape, she’ll use part of a “Hello, I’m…” name tag. She’ll repair the rip and tell me to forget it ever happened. She’ll display the “on with the show” attitude.

Is one a better friend than the other? No. They’re just different. I can’t help but love each of them for their uniqueness.

Thank God for good friends.

American Idol

I'm so glad I've never been on American Idol. I might be past the age range, but we won't talk about that. There are so many people on that show who feel they could be a Superstar, and then get told the truth.

Some people will never be Superstars.

I feel so bad for the contestants. It would be so frustrating to be in a group of thousands and make it to the final three judges. Celebrity judges. AND be on TV! And then be told in front of an enormous unseen audience that your singing stinks. I would rather be told before I get that far.

Why lead these people on? I know, there's an audience to entertain. But that's just horrible in itself. Are American viewers so desperate for entertainment that we have to make fun of people who can't sing. Do we have to see them get humiliated on national TV?

This is the first year I've watched the show. My husband has seen it before and asked me to watch it with him. I did. I felt awful.

Mostly, I remembered what it was like at a writers' conference when unpublished writers try to convince editors that their story is the next Great American Novel. I'm so glad writers' conferences aren't televised.

There would be a panel of editors (maybe celebrity editors?) who tell would-be Novelist Superstars that their stories need more work. If Simon, Randy, and Paula were editors, I'd hear them saying different words, but with the same meaning. "You're writing is entertaining, but it isn't right for this publishing house." Or, "Your idea is great, but the writing needs to improve."

At the writers' conferences I go to, I don't hear editors speak bluntly in Simon-fashion, "That was awful! Simply awful. It just wasn't any good. Why are you here?"

Most of the time, editors are kind. I've seriously pitched my novel to only one editor, and she was very nice. I plan to send her a full proposal as soon as I get an agent.

So in view of the fact that I will be pitching my novel again this year, I send a warm "Thank You" to all the dedicated editors who help unpublished novelists see their areas in need of improvement - without all the humiliation.

God bless the hard-working editors for all they go through to find the few special novelists that make it worth the effort.

Valentine's Day

Ah, February! The Month of Love!

This week, I heard a radio caller giving her suggestion for Valentine's gifts for men. It's true that men are hard to buy for. Most of the TV commercials are targeting women.

You don't see a jewelry store commercial showing a woman trying to pick out a diamond ring for a man. Men like chocolate, but you don't see many commercials showing women picking boxes of chocolates for men. Flower companies probably will never suggest we have a dozen roses delivered to our men's place of business.

If I gave my husband a small bottle of men's cologne for Valentine's Day, he might sniff his arm pits and say something like, "What. I showered."

Let's face it. Men like getting gifts. But they have a much easier time giving them to us than we do to them. Men get reminders on all media outlets that a major gift-giving time is approaching. Women don't usually need the reminders, but we could sure use some suggestions.

Women have to think harder and work at getting the right gift for each holiday. For instance, do we give our men a couple of frozen steaks? Do we give them a gift card to a hardware store - again? Do we give them another Three Stooges tie?

Am I worrying too much? Is Valentine's Day just for women? (yes? cool. bring it on. - just kidding)

My husband and I don't wait for Valentine's Day to celebrate. We welcome any opportunity to wish each other a Happy Month of Love. If my hug quota is low, I can build up a surplus during February.

So enjoy the month with the one you love. And don't stress over gifts. It's the daily love that counts anyway.

The Chris Tomlin Concert

If you ever want to go to an amazing concert, find one of Chris Tomlin's concerts. Louie Giglio and Matt Redman joined him again this year to give us another eye-opening experience.

This year's show picked up where the last tour stopped. I don't generally study the stars and galaxies, but the pictures taken by the Hubble telescope are jaw-droppers. Louie Giglio presented big facts in a fresh way. He kept the interest of everyone, even my kids.

Matt Redman's and Chris Tomlin's songs are often on our radio, so my kids knew most of them. My daughter borrowed my husband's cell phone to let her little light shine in the auditorium.

We all danced and sang along with the roaring crowd to the well-loved songs. The worshipful attitude that filled that place made the concert a church service rather than a performance. It was a holy night of worshipping the awe-inspiring God who knows my name. It was a new look at the Creator of the universe who loves little humans like me.

Come on back anytime, Chris. And may the wisdom and energy of God fill you.

Making A Change

Why do people wait to make changes until they can’t stand it anymore? A lot of people will put up with a lot in order to not change what they’re doing. Some women wait until they’re twenty pounds overweight before they start their diet. Some men wait to clean the garage until the car won’t fit inside.

I’m the same way. I recently cleaned out a lot of old magazines that I’d kept for too long. I threw out things that had been cluttering my writing space and making my tiny “office” uncomfortably crowded.

Why do we wait?

I honestly don’t know. But I can guess that it has to do with dreading change.

I’m not afraid of change. I like to change the furniture around in the room. I don’t fix my hair the same way every day. But I can see that I dread change at times.

Change draws extra energy out of me. Change means I have to think about something in a different way. I have to get out of my carefully constructed routine and make room for something new.

Change is good when a new haircut gets my hair out of my eyes. Change is bad when I get off the diet to eat chocolate cake at bedtime.

But this year, I’ve drawn a line in the sand. I’ll choose my battles wisely and put forth effort to win.

I’m getting a new mindset regarding change. I’ll take small steps and make manageable progress.

And I’ll maintain it – with God’s help.

Domino Club

I'm glad to be back at work on my novel. I took a break to start up a project I'd been thinking about for a while.

It's called the Domino Club.

It is intended to be an encouragement to anyone who wants to change their life for the better.

Change is good. Especially if it is focused and aimed in a good direction.

Some of us need a tiny nudge. I plan to set weekly goals in different areas. These are tasks that anyone can do. The goals are designed to bring people together and to bring people to God.

I think it’ll be interesting. We’ll see what happens.