I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Keeping Your Resolutions: 2012 Exercising Ideas for Writers

By Alena Tauriainen

Hi, everyone! It's Alena. We are two months into 2012. How are your exercise goals coming along?

I have to be honest. I cannot let my picture on this blog hide it any longer: I’m 5’ 1½".

Yes, it’s true. I’m vertically challenged. Ten extra pounds on my short frame is a lot. Urrrgh! Add in busy schedules, such as life, work, spouse, children, school, household, and squeezing in a work-out seems, well, impossible!

For a long time I hated working out -- dreaded it, in fact. So over the last few years, I’ve learned some creative ways to fit in a work out and enjoy it.

More often than not, I head to the treadmill at 10pm. Jogging/running burns approximately 100 calories per mile.

The only problem is, well I find it b-o-r-i-n-g. I had to find a way to make the time pass quickly. That’s how I discovered NCIS. I’ve run miles watching NCIS.

Then I discovered technology. Did you know you can borrow books from the library and read them on your smart phone? I absolutely love it. I can actually read while I run. Okay, so I know that’s a learned skill (or a desperate one). You can try the elliptical machine too. It’s much easier to read a book while you’re on it. It’s also better for those with bad knees. I’ve been known to go for an hour and not realize it.

Sometimes you just don’t want to exercise to a DVD. I get it! You’ve worked a long day, who wants to break a sweat now? Here are a couple of quick and easy ideas to get some exercise in:

  • Wall Sits. Stand with your back against a wall, bending your knees, slide your back down the wall until your knees are at 90 degree angle to the wall and your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, and then stand up. No sweat, well okay, no literal sweating.

Don't have time to even get up out of your chair? No problem.

  • Seated Crunches. Scoot forward in your chair, hold on to the arm rests, sit up tall. Put your feet together and with bended knees, pull your knees toward your chest. While doing this, contract your abdominal muscles. Hold for about three seconds. Relax. Repeat eight times and increase as you get stronger.

Tell me, how do you fit exercise in your schedule? Do you have any easy exercises or routines to share?

Alena T.

Monday, February 27, 2012


by Jenness Walker

Is anyone else having a hard time believing February is almost over already? I’m still struggling to write ‘2012!’ The good news is that, even though the month of love is nearly gone, romance will never go away. :-)

In fact, did you know there are a million different types of romantic plots? Well, maybe not quite that many. But there are at least twelve. Or twenty-five. Or…I guess it just depends on how you want to break it down…and how many books you’ve read.

You know I love me some lists. But instead of making up my own, I’m linking to two places where they’ve done the leg work. Check them out on Absolute Write and Inkalicious and see what you think. Are there any plots you would add to theirs?

The first type that comes to my mind could probably fit under one of the others, but I like it as a standalone: Romance with allegorical elements. Think of Redeeming Love—it doesn’t mirror only the story of Hosea and Gomer, but, of course, the greatest love story of all, as Heidi touched on in her post last week. Do you think that has something to do with why that book is—from my understanding—the best-selling Christian romance of all time? I think it definitely plays a part.

For readers: What types of romances do you wish there were more of? Which ones are you still a sucker for, even if you’ve already read dozens with the same basic plot? Are there any that you're tired of at the moment? 

I don’t know if I have a favorite. I’m drawn to Cinderella stories. Who isn’t? Disguises—doesn’t matter whether it’s a princess dressed as a regular chick or a girl dressed as a drummer in the Civil War. Protectors. Marriages of convenience—historical or contemporary, doesn’t matter. Best friends—hey, I married mine! Opposites—lots of chance for some good heated conflict there. Love/Hate. And—

So much for not making my own list. I guess I just like a good romance!

For writers: What categories do your favorite novels and movies fall under? What about your own stories? Just for fun, pick a type you haven’t yet worked into a plot. Now go do some brainstorming!

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Power of the Written Word: Encouraging Authors

By Delores Topliff

The first letter I wrote an author was to Agnes Newton Keith, who penned Three Came Home, the true account of a British family imprisoned in the Philippines during WWII. Mrs. Keith described their lives in Manila before Japan's invasion, their subsequent arrests and terrible internments -- she with her 12-year-old son with other women and children, her husband suffering harsher imprisonment with men considered serious enemies. Her book documents perseverance and the triumph of the human spirit.

Therefore, long before the Internet, with her publisher's help, I mailed her a thank you letter. I didn't get a reply to that letter -- Mrs. Keith was then quite advanced in years. Still, it was important to me to tell her through her writing that we had connected, and she was someone who greatly inspired me. Perhaps unrelated, I've now traveled to the Philippines on three mission trips -- and hope to go again.

My second author letter brought a hand-written reply in flowing penmanship from Polish patriot Slavomir Rawicz, author of The Long Walk, the stirring WWII story of eight men escaping a Russian gulag to trudge 4,000 miles across Siberia, the Gobi, the Himalayas and finally to freedom in India -- though only four survived.

Years later, I had words in print. One day I received a fan letter forwarded from my publisher from a distant family friend, a wonderful woman missionary in Uganda, sure that she'd met the author, Delores Topliff, with a son named Andrew. She praised and encouraged, and later visited, providing input that strengthened my life.

My point? We love authors and the events and characters they share, even fictional ones who so totally live on the page they enter our hearts. Thoughts and stories so well-expressed they deliver what Scripture describes as drinks of refreshing cool water on hot days -- and receive a prophet's (or author's) reward.

Do you analyze what you like best in your favorite authors' books? Maybe study and learn, perhaps adapting their skills into your own writing? Have you ever written a letter of thanks or encouragement to one of your favorite authors? I encourage you do to so!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Greatest of These

By Heidi Larson Geis

There are only a few more days in the month most of us associate with love. Walmart’s aisles of red hearts and boxed chocolate have given way to pastel eggs and stuffed bunnies, and the Valentine roses are beginning to wilt. 

To be honest, I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day. In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably admit that my husband and I had our first big fight on our first Valentine’s Day. We almost broke up. I am thrilled to report that we managed to work it out and we’ve been happily married for almost eighteen years, but our epic battle is one small example of the perils that ensue when we allow society to dictate how and when we express our love. 

I’m not the Ebenezer Scrooge of Valentine’s Day, and I’m not saying people shouldn’t celebrate it.  I just think it puts so much pressure on all of us. Men freak out, hoping they will measure up to romance novels. Women freak out, hoping they will measure up to Victoria Secret models. Singles freak out, hoping they will measure up to each other.  All for one day out of 365 in a year.

In the end, none of us measure up. There is only one “Valentine” who could ever meet all the expectations of our hearts. Only one who knows how many hairs are on our heads. Only one who keeps our tears in a bottle. Only one who knows our deepest secrets and our fondest dreams. Only one who gave up his life to spend not just one day, but all of eternity with us. Only one who is LOVE. 

And Love never fails. 

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.”  Proverbs 3:3 (NIV)

Your turn: What are your thoughts on Valentine's Day?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Top 8 Ways to Make a Writer Cringe

By Teri Dawn Smith 

Alternate title:  Top eight questions a writer never wants to hear and the answers she’d really like to give, but doesn’t dare.

1. So why is it taking so long to get your book out? Answer: Have you never heard of rejections?

2. If you wrote 3,780 words yesterday, that’s only seven words a minute for an eight-hour day. Are you just a really slow typist? Answer: It’s not the typing, dummy. (Oops, sorry, that’s one of the words my mother wouldn’t allow me to say.) It’s the plotting, the hours of research, the rewriting, etc.

3. What do you mean you’re waiting to hear back from an agent? Just send me your manuscript by e-mail. I’d like to read it now. Answer: Are you willing to pay $14.99 for it?
4. To a contemporary romantic suspense writer: Maybe you could use my story of growing up in the depression in your book? Answer: I could if I wanted to do an elaborate back-story on the heroine’s grandmother.

5. So you wrote a novel? Why not get Bethany House to publish it? Answer: Refer to the answer of question #1.

6. What’s your book about? Answer: Authors go to seminars to learn how to answer that question. It’s not easy to condense your 80,000-word book into a sentence, but go ahead and ask this one since authors need the practice.

7. You wrote a book? So like now you’re gonna be famous…on TV talk shows and everything? Answer: I’ll be just about as famous as I was before, but if I was on talk shows before I wrote the book, an agent might pay attention when I first gave him my pitch.

8. You wrote a book? Wow, it must be nice to have all that money! Answer: Keep going back to that answer for number one…that’s what all aspiring authors do!

Yes, believe it or not, I’ve been asked all of these questions!

If you’re a writer, what wild questions have folks asked you? If not, what would you like to ask your favorite author?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Out of the tunnel

...Melissa Tagg
Photo credit

Ever get tunnel vision?

I do. Usually in the mall whenever I'm within smelling distance of Auntie Anne's pretzels. Suddenly, nothing else matters. All I can see are the warm pretzel sticks waiting for me. Not even Orange Julius can compete.


So, I had the tunnel vision thing going on in my writing life recently. All I could see was my latest WIP. All I could hear was that nagging voice in my head: "You're not there yet. Something's still not right." All I could taste was...

Well, copious amounts of coffee and cinnamon roll action. (What? Comfort eater? Where?)

Ever had the same tunnel vision experience when it comes to your own life? A project you just wanted to finish? A desire you longed to see fulfilled?

Something pretty awesome happened to me this week right when I was at my most tunnel-y. In the span of one day, I heard from five writer friends. I haven't met a single one of these friends in person. A couple I've known for a good number of months now; others are brand new. 

But each one encouraged me. 

And as the emails and text messages rolled in, one after another, I couldn't help thinking, "Dude, God, are you going out of your way here to bless me?"

I think He was.

I think through these friends, He pulled me out of the tunnel. Reminded me this writing dream is bigger than one WIP. It's bigger than the desire to see my book printed and bound (or on a Kindle!). 

It's bigger than one pretzel stand.

It's the whole mallfilled with people I don't want to miss.

God has given me an ever-expanding community. He's given me true friendsones who will go out of their way to ask me how it's going, fill me in on their own lives, ask me about my own journey while welcoming me into theirs. That's priceless.

And oh so much better than the narrow claustrophobia of a tunnel.

How about you? Do you ever struggle with tunnel vision? What pulls you out? Where do you find community and encouragement?

Melissa Tagg

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Gift of Love

By Jennie Atkins

A little brown-haired boy wearing dust covered overalls skipped down the road. His dark eyes lit up with mischief as he waved at the two women sitting on the bench at the corner of the road.

Worn out flip flops stirred the dirt at his feet as he made his way, arms swinging at his sides, to his destination. Every day he passed the same spot, determination reflected in his expression as if he no time to waste.

Some days he'd be seen down at the pier with a row boat and his friends basking in the summer sunshine, catching a few fish. Others he'd tag along behind his father, dogging the older man's every step, intent on learning the family business.

But not today.

Today his destination would take him to the community center in town. There he'd play checkers with the old folks. He'd slap his knee like they did, listen to their stories from when they were young, and laugh at their jokes.

He was a good little boy—attended church with his parents, did his chores before going to bed, and never complained when corrected.

As he got older though, he changed. He'd go out with the people everyone else turned away, the outcasts in town. He grew his hair out, nearly down to his shoulders, looking very much like the ruffians he associated with. The gossipers called him a trouble maker—claimed he broke the laws. But no matter how much people talked about him, he didn't put them down, never retaliated, only smiled at them and waved.

Then one day that long haired boy was killed.

On a cross. On a hill called Golgotha, he gave up his life. For us.

He gave the ultimate gift of love.

There is no way we can measure the sacrifice that boy, Jesus, made because he loved us. He gave it all, so we could be forgiven.

Set free.


February is the month we associate with love. How appropriate that we ponder on God's undying love for us. I cannot take credit for the story line above, it's my version of a song I heard by Josh Turner called  The Way He was Raised. Josh did an awesome job at creating a “surprise ending” in the song. Listen to it twice, its best enjoyed the second time around.

Monday, February 13, 2012

What Makes a Hero?

Photo Source
Lisa here...I’m a happily ever after gal who needs that heart-sighing conclusion that romance novels promise. In order to reach that satisfying conclusion, the romance novel needs a solid hero.

Heroes come in three forms: alpha, beta, or a combination of the two. Alpha males are the dominant, larger than life men who live and love dangerously. Beta males are the best friend kind of heroes. Their qualities allow them to be solid sidekicks for the alpha male. And, of course, the combo hero demonstrates qualities of the alpha and beta male. 

Think about your favorite novels, TV shows and movies. Was the hero someone you could root for? Maybe he started out jerky at the beginning of the book or show, but by the time you finished the novel or the credits rolled, you were in his corner.

What qualities does a heartthrob hero possess?
·       Physical appeal
·       Charisma
·       Loyalty
·       Sensitivity
·       Self-sacrificing
·       Willingness to help the underdog
·       Ability to overcome incredible obstacles
·       Risks his heart for the woman he loves

Give your hero flaws. When I wrote the initial version of Lakeside Reunion, Stephen was too perfect. I needed to give him a flaw, so readers could relate and root for him, a reason for change. When we create perfect characters, they have no reason to change. And let’s face it—none of us is perfect, so who wants to read about perfect characters. Giving your hero a flaw allows him to grow and change during the course of the story.

Make your hero brave. I don’t want to read about a wuss who isn’t willing to step in and protect the girl. Courage gives your hero backbone to stand up for his noble cause. 

Give your hero something to fight for—a drive that pushes him through the story.

In my second novel, Lakeside Family, that comes out in August, my hero Nick doesn’t feel like anyone’s hero. Due to a tragedy in his past, he feels undeserving. After all, surely God can’t use someone like him. What Nick learns is heroes are not extraordinary people, but ordinary people whom God uses to do extraordinary things.

One of my favorite quotes about heroes comes from Christopher Reeve—a man who knows a little something about being a hero:

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” 

Your Turn: What qualities do you look for in a hero? What's your biggest challenge about creating believable heroes? What kind of heroes do you like to read about in novels?

Lisa Jordan

Friday, February 10, 2012

Brothers: The Good, The Bad, and The Messy

David, Amy, Gregg, Matt

I probably didn’t appreciate my two younger brothers as much as I should have growing up. They followed my friends and me around. Relentlessly. They went through my diary. They burped in my face. They woke me up wanting to play at six am every Saturday morning.

But, I wasn’t the perfect sister, either. I may have carved “David” into our parent’s bathroom cabinetry with a new pocketknife. (I’m no ordinary dummy.) I may have swindled Matt out of the baby turtle he found at the cabin for a clam. They both got stuck being goalie while I practiced my slapshot during the summers.

Yet, at the end of the day, they are my brothers—and some of my best friends. They, along with my husband, are the ones I can let loose and have a shaving cream fight with at the lake on a weekend. They love the messy in me. They are honest with me when I need a reality check. They are always there to cheer me on.

Sometimes we tend to take people in our lives for granted. A couple of years ago, David got sick with complications from diabetes and ended up in the hospital. I still can’t imagine what life would be like without him. This summer Matt’s getting married and things will change again (welcome to the clan, Daphne!)

Change is inevitable, but family, and good friends, can anchor us through it. They can take the messy parts of life and make them bearable. They love us no matter what. Who in your life has been someone you have taken for granted? How can you let them know you love them this month?


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

And Cinderella married the Prince and lived happily ever…

By Pat Tranium

So, did you ever wonder what happened afterwards? You know, after the bloom wore off the roses, when Cinderella was up to her arms in soapsuds, and the Prince had lost his hair? Hopefully their love sustained them, and it truly was ‘til death do us part.

Like with Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher in New Bern, North Carolina.They took their wedding vows to heart and would’ve celebrated their 87th anniversary on May 13, 2011, had he not passed away in February. Herbert was 105. Zelmyra was 103.

Why do some couples stay together a lifetime while others do not? I think the key lies in something the Fishers said in an interview.

When asked what one thing transcended everything else, the Fishers replied: “We are both Christians and believe in God. Marriage is a commitment to the Lord. We pray with and for each other every day.
Almost two and a half million couples are expected to marry this year in the United States. My prayer for them is to have that commitment. So many times more emphasis is placed on the wedding than on the marriage. A total of $72 billion is spent annually on weddings. I wish couples would remember the wedding is for a day, but the marriage should be for a lifetime. They will have many joys but will also have many arguments.

I love what Zelmyra said when asked how they handled differences of opinion. She said, “Remember marriage is not a contest – never keep a score. God has put the two of you together on the same team to win.”

When asked about the fondest memory of their 85 years, both talked about the same memory. Zelmyra: I cook dinner every day. One Valentine’s Day, Herbert left work early and surprised me – he cooked dinner for me! He is a very good cook!
Herbert: I said that I was going to cook dinner for her and she could relax – the look on her face and clean plate made my day!

I'm thinking there has to be a way to incorporate this couple in one of my books. Because isn't that what our writing is about? Recycling those things in life that touch us.

One last thing. What words of advice would you give a newlywed?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Author Rachel Hauck Performs Book Therapy on Our Contest Winner's Scene

Happy Monday, everyone!
Today award-winning author and My Book Therapy therapist Rachel Hauck provides feedback to our blog contest winner, who as we mentioned last week, asked to remain anonymous. (Yes, this is a real person, I promise!)
Read through the scene and then see what you can glean from Rachel's comments (in blue) on how to improve the scene:

She hated funerals. Great opening. Simple. We see immediately part of her, and what’s going on in this first scene. And we relate. We all hate funerals.
But she supposed there weren’t many people who actually liked them. Except maybe undertakers and casket makers. She looked at Mr. Parisi’s casket. It was simple and straightforward- just like him. She wondered where he would be buried since the Saratoga Springs Community Church had no cemetery nearby. Maybe he would be buried in the municipal cemetery across from the high school. Or maybe he would be cremated and his ashes spread on the back lawn of the Schuyler Inn. She could see that more than she could see him spending eternity in a cold, impersonal cemetery - the Inn was not only his business, it was his home. She caught a tear with her damp, wrinkled tissue. She just couldn’t imagine what the Inn was going to be like without Mr. Parisi. He was the heart and soul of the place; how would she run it without him.
            Bam! ß Don’t do sound effects. We can “hear” the doors ourselves. The door at the back of the church slammed against the wall. Everyone ß I understand this but the word more or less moves us to “third person plural.” Since we are new to Stella, have Stella turn to the back “along with the other mourners” to see the back of the church. Also, where is Stella in the room? Near the front? In the back? Give us a sense of time and place. Since you opened with deep POV, which I liked, we now need some senses. Sight, sound, smells. Time of day? Location? Like: “The Louisiana sun burned the lights from the stained glass window into the sanctuary, painting the air with rainbow colors. Stella licked her lips. July was hot in the bayou.”  turned at once to see a homeless man, or at least he looked homeless to Stella, standing in the doorway squinting at the mourners and swaying a little. The swaying seemed to propel him forward and he stumbled down the aisle until he finally fell into a seat in the front row next to Mr. Parisi’s daughter. She glared at him but didn’t tell him to move or go away. The pastor looked from Jenny Parisi good, just need a few more lines to set the scene. Like: The pastor stopped his eulogy and looked at Mr. Parisi’s widow, Jenny, then down the long stone aisle to the man in the back. Something… let us “hear” the message, see his movements. to the homeless man, cleared his throat and continued.
            Stella was sandwiched in-between Mr. Viccerio and Mrs. McNamara who were both craning their necks to see who had just crashed the funeral. Good, but move it up to the second graph when you introduce her environment.
            “Can you see anything?” said Mr. Viccerio in a loud whisper. I like this but it feels a bit abrupt. They can’t see to the back? Neither can Stella? How big is the sanctuary? How many people are there. That’s be good to give us. Over all, bump up your story world here in the opening.
            “No, Charlie’s huge head is blocking my view,” said Mrs. McNamara.
            Charlie Miller, who owned an auto body shop, and whose neck had the same circumference as his massive biceps, turned around and glared.
            Mrs. McNamara waved her hand for Charlie to move to the left. He grumbled but leaned ever so slightly to the left.
            “Can you see now?” asked Mr. Viccerio.
            “Oh my word,” Mrs. McNamara said slowly, settling back down into the pew.
            “What? Who is it?”
            “It’s Rob.” Good!!
            “Are you sure? That guy looks like five miles of bad road.” LOL
            “I’m sure,” Mrs. McNamara nodded. “Did you see his eyes? They’re a dead giveaway.”
            “Rob’s eye color is bloodshot?” I’d delete this. Let the reader wonder about his eyes. Or let us see his eyes from Stella’s pov.
            Stella moved forward on the pew and looked around Charlie’s head to see if she could get a look at the homeless man. All she could see was his shaggy brown hair sticking up in places, matted down in others, and a large stain on one of the shoulders of his jacket. It didn’t look like the Rob Parisi she knew; the Rob Parisi that had left their small town and become a sitcom sensation at seventeen, the Rob Parisi that lived in a mansion in LA, dated models, and was ‘the sexiest man alive’, the Rob Parisi that left and never looked back.
So she knows him? Cool. But we need a lot more reaction. She says “homeless man” as if she doesn’t know who Rob is. Give us more of her reaction to him.
Rob? What? No one had heard from him in years. The sitcom sensation at age seventeen? Who left town like it was a bad stink on his shoes?
The boy she’d loves since third grade?
             “He has really let himself go since he was on So Far, So Good,” mused Mrs. McNamara.
            Stella could feel herself blush – embarrassed at the memory of her teenaged obsession with Rob’s show. And of the fact that she still had SFSG marathons – sometimes polishing off the whole DVD set in one weekend. 
            “Well, none of us has seen him in person in eleven years, so I don’t know how you can be so sure,” Stella whispered back..
            “Oh, that’s him all right. I just wonder why he’s here.”
            “His grandfather died,” said Mr. Viccerio.
            “Well yes,” Mrs. McNamara rolled her eyes, “but his timing kind of stinks. Guy would have given anything for him to have visited while he was alive. He loved that boy, even though Rob didn’t give two licks about him. Makes me wonder what he’s up to.”
            “Shhhh,” Stella said as the pastor asked them all to bow their heads in prayer. She noticed that the Rob had already bowed his head. Then, in the silence, a soft snore rose up from the front row.

Overall Feedback from MBT Therapist Rachel Hauck: 
Good!! I love this. Great set up. I’m intrigued by this Rob guy and Stella. I just need more of her world, more of her heart. You’re writing is good and clean, readable, but you’re hesitating to give us deep POV and emotion on Stella. Let go, “show” us her emotion. Like: Her breath caught when she saw Rob inching down the aisle, like a lost, lost soul. In all her life, she’d never, ever imagine the golden boy of town …
Make sense? Since she knows him, don’t call him homeless man. He’s Rob. Make this personal to her. How would YOU feel if you were Stella and Rob walked in?
Good pacing!
Good wording and word painting though if you give more story world, that will improve to a stellar point.
Keep writing!! This story has promise.

So what did you learn by reading through Rachel's book therapy? 

Thank you to everyone who participated in the contest. And a special thank you to Rachel for providing her expertise and doing "scene therapy" for our winner. 

Don't forget Rachel's latest book, The Wedding Dress, comes out in April 2012!

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Prize Winner

Hi, this is Roxanne Sherwood. My husband and I recently watched a DVD of The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio. It’s based on the true story of Evelyn Ryan—a mother of ten whose winning jingles keep poverty at bay during the "contest era" of the fifties and sixties.

Evelyn's husband, Kelly, is an abusive alcoholic who can't keep a dime in his pocket and resents her success. Though she cheerfully cares for her large family, she lacks intellectual equals. Late in the movie, Evelyn is contacted by a group of other contest-entering housewives. She's dying to meet them, but she doesn't drive and her husband won’t take her.

After several unsuccessful attempts, Evelyn finally makes the 100-mile trek to visit the other contesters. At last, she’s surrounded by kindred spirits. Women who understand her passion. Women who share her talent and encourage each other.

I turned to my husband and said, “That’s what it’s like when I’m around other novelists. That camaraderie is how the Ponderers started at a MBT Retreat. That’s what my San Antonio writers group meant to me.”

Like Evelyn needed kindred spirits, I need writers who share my dream. Writers like me, who are passionate about telling the stories God’s laid on their hearts.

I am blessed to have relationships with a lot of authors, both published and those still hoping to be. But in the beginning of my career, I didn’t know anyone. One day, I stumbled onto an internet writing community. Through American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), I developed an online friendship with Lisa Jordan, and we became critique partners. I also showed my work-in-progress to a long-time friend, Beth Vogt. Lisa and Beth have been my cheerleaders, urging me on when I've doubted myself. Then, I met writers in San Antonio who became cherished friends, including Allison Pittman, who mentored me.

Are you lonely as a writer? Susan May Warren understands. When she began writing, she and her husband were missionaries, living in Siberia. Can’t get much farther from civilization than that! Voices is a wonderful on-line writing community—the one Susie wishes she’d had in Russia. So, if you don’t know any other writers, visit Voices, join ACFW, or look for local writing organizations.

Today is my birthday, and in honor of that momentous occasion ;-), I want to thank my wonderful family--especially my husband and best friend, Steve and my sister, Alicia Murphy--and all my cherished friends for their support and encouragement along this writing journey. I am grateful for each Ponderer, our mentors Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck, and for my group in San Antonio. (I can't go to Panera without thinking of you. I miss y'all so much!) So many people have encouraged me. I am so blessed!

Who’s blessed you along the way?

~Roxanne Sherwood
photo of me on my 9th birthday

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

When Life Derails Your Writing Path

By Paula Boire

Feeling overwhelmed by commitments? No time to write even though you know God’s called you to do this? Maybe your writing time has dwindled, or disappeared altogether because of unexpected health crises, and the ability to put words on paper has become a monumental effort. Perhaps you’ve become a caregiver for a family member and your plans to submit that burnished manuscript to editors and agents at writing conferences seem like a plot from Mission Impossible.
And now you wonder how you’ll get back on track−or if you can.
The good news is that God is still in control. None of these derailments caught Him by surprise. Now I don’t know about you, but that’s a huge comfort to me.
In May, when I moved across country to become the live-in caregiver for my parents, I envisioned carving out time for writing and attending writing conferences. But when my father suffered a life-threatening injury that left both parents in wheel chairs and so many midnight visits to the ER, the staff recognized us as EMS wheeled in the stretcher, my writing time vanished and a writing career seemed further away than ever.
But God allows those trials in our lives to strengthen us. Yep. Strengthen us. Now it may not seem like a strengthening exercise at the time; setting an alarm clock 24/7 to turn an adult in bed, changing his/her briefs every three hours, or whatever trials you are facing, but when it’s over, YOU ARE STRONGER.
And God has plans to use that strength. Of course I can’t tell you how He’ll use those events in your life, but He is eagerly waiting to reveal His special plan for you. Maybe it will surface in renewed discipline in your writing life. Or deepen your characterizations. Maybe it will thread through your novels as scintillating subplots.
And if the Enemy’s working overtime to convince you it’s too late to fulfill those writing dreams, FEAR NOT. If God planted that dream in your heart, He will fulfill His promise to you. But He asks that we BELIEVE. So hop back in the writing saddle, clinging to the promises in His Word and watch God work on your behalf.
Isn’t it awesome that our Abba/Father is the GOD OF THE IMPOSSIBLE?
Now, your turn. How has God strengthened your writing muscles?

Book Therapy Winner: We have selected a winner for the book therapy with author Rachel Hauck. The winner has asked to be anonymous, and the therapy will be posted on Monday.