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

Thursday, November 21, 2013

My Mother's Black Box

Recently I inherited a black jewelry box from my mother. I treasured it simply because it belonged to my mother who recently went to heaven. The box contained only a few buttons and safety pins. It was black and not especially pretty…until I noticed a bit of dark silver along the edge.
        The first chance I got, I purchased some silver polish and began polishing the black box. It wasn’t long before the black rubbed right off and exposed a beautiful silver finish.  I still don’t think it’s highly valuable, but it’s a great deal more beautiful with the silver shining instead of the tarnish.

It reminded me of the verse in Proverbs 25:4, “Take away the dross from the silver, and it will go to the silversmith for jewelry.”

How about that prodigal son? The wayward daughter? The aunt or uncle who is an embarrassment to the whole family?

Is there simply some dross that, when removed, will shine brightly? Have you given up?

Remember the Lord may be in the process of polishing the person who distresses you now.  That person many soon glow like a shiny silver box instead of a black one. Give the Lord time. And give the troublesome person a chance to sparkle.

(Note: due to technical difficulties, this is not the actual box. The box I inherited is much more beautiful.)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Productive Writing

By Jennie Atkins

I am always busy making something.  Currently, I am working on Christmas gifts for my family. My office floor, covered with scraps of material, resembles Joseph’s coat of many colors.  It used to be I’d make at least one gift for everyone on my Christmas list. To do so, I either had to start my Christmas projects early—which I often did.  Or learn ways to improve my performance.  I learned short cuts to eliminate rework, keep my quality high, yet get things done in record time.  I use these same principles at my job, so I’ve tried to examine my writing to see if they’d work there.
I recently picked up a book called 2k to 10k: How to Write Faster, Write Better, and Write More of What you Love by Rachel Aaron.   It had a lot of great tips, small improvements that I had already begun to realize in my own writing journey prior to reading the book.  So I thought I’d share them here.
Understand your scene before your write it.  No need to let your fingers do the walking aimlessly across the keyboard on their own.  Give them some help by scoping out the scene beforehand either in your head or a list of cryptic notes on a napkin.  Some go as far as to pre-write the scene.  I don’t like double work, so I’ll stick to the notes.
Time is a big issue.  Find your best writing time and protect it.  This may mean finding a quiet spot somewhere else other than your home to write. It may also mean discovering the time of day you’re more productive and trying to squeeze in time to write during that timeframe.
Then lastly, make sure you are enthusiastic about what you’re writing.  If it’s boring to you, it’s boring to the reader as well. So next time you’re struggling with a scene, stop and ask the question…why?  It may be you need to start back at square one and rethink your scene.

I'm not talking about assembly line, cookie cutter type writing, just small ways to make your time at the computer more productive. And some of these things may only work for me. 
So now its your turn:  How have you learned to be more productive?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What Makes a Great Heroine in a Story?

Sunday Evening, November 17, 2013
We Have A winner! 
Stephanie Roberts  

A couple of weeks ago I asked a question on Facebook about the type of heroines readers liked to read about. You can see the answers here. Overall, I think readers like imperfect but strong women who are kind, courageous, and gutsy. Women with sterling character. Women a reader can relate to and aspire to be like.

And that got me to thinking about heroines in books I have read who had qualities that were less than sterling. Like Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. She was totally unlike the character of Melanie. Scarlett was selfish and petty, and determined to have her way by any means necessary. However, it is this determination that gets her through the bad times.

A question. Did you initially like Melanie better than Scarlett?

But, you know what? I think we all want to be a little like Scarlett sometimes. When I heard her say, “As God as my witness, they are not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God as my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.” 

I could understand where she was coming from. And of course, she wasn’t the same person at the end of the book as she was at the beginning.

Another heroine I’ve encountered lately is Tess Gerritsen’s prickly Jane Rizzoli. In the books, while she doesn’t look like Angie Harmon, who plays her in the TV show Rizzoli and Isles, she nails her character. What Jane is not is tall and willowy. She can be whiny and irritating and not above getting revenge from perceived hurts. 

But I liked her because, again, she doesn't give up. She keeps fighting for respect from her all male colleagues. I’ve only read Gerritsen’s first book, The Surgeon, but look forward to catching up on the others, in part to see how Rizzoli grows.

How about you? What makes a great heroine? Are you ever drawn to women who are at first unlikeable? In GWTW, did you like Melanie better than Scarlett? Leave a comment by Sunday night, either here or at my personal blog and be entered in a drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card. Leave a comment at both and be entered twice!

Patricia Bradley

Shadows of the Past from Revell February 2014 
Available for preorder at CBD, and Amazon, and B&N.

I asked God to teach me patience and He gave me a book to write

Thursday, November 7, 2013

10 Things I Never Thought I’d Say

Hi friends!

Do you remember saying you’d never be like your parents?

I do.

Then I had kids and found myself saying the exact words my parents said to me. Ack!

Here are the top 10 things; I thought I’d NEVER say.

1. "Don't you make me pull this car over...."

2. "Because I said so."

3. "Go ahead keep it up, see what happens."

4. "I'll wash your mouth out with soap."

5. "When I was your age, I had to....."

6. "You're not made of sugar, you won't melt."

7. "I promise, you'll live."

8. "I brought you into this world and I CAN take you out!"

9. "When you have kids, you'll understand."

And my absolute favorite…(said with strong emotion!)

10. "One day, God willing, you'll have one JUST like you."

How about you? Have you said something that sounded just like your parents?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A moving experience

Delores Topliff

The phrase, a moving experience, may equal tender tears, stomach acid-churning crisis, or exhilarating inspiration. It may also mean that after living in my home eleven years, without planning to move, while collecting enough treasures that one grandchild calls my home the Topliff Museum, I found myself eliminating, moving, and consolidating into a smaller space. Yikes!

In the process, I got reacquainted with the books stacked three-deep on my crowded shelves. I’m rereading some to see which I can part with--only one so far--sigh.

It’s also true that one broken 30-year-old broken pacemaker lead created an emergency condition--surgical replacement five days before the move. Yes, I’d done prepacking, but experienced exhaustion I understand now. I’m thankful God kept me and that tiredness isn’t a permanent condition.

Unexpectedly two people cheerfully stepped in to take over packing and lifting. One drove five hours each way. Another 37 miles across town had attended a mutual church years ago and on Facebook saw I was moving and needed surgery. She volunteered--three days so far. The result? Rekindled friendships reminding me I love people even more than books!

New house, new scenery, and building new memories. Yes, moving was hard with some sense of loss. I’m not entirely unpacked, but am looking forward to the fresh things God will do. I’m already seeing some.

There’s a stream out back, and a wooded park beyond. For the past two days, a marvelous great egret has come dipping and flapping, threatening Mallards and Canada Geese away, exerting territorial claims. Inside the house, my grandchildren are happy. My son says my presence helps. I’m changing some familiar decorating patterns, rearranging book collections on shelves, and taking my time. Some walls need painting. I’m shopping for the right curtains and rods.

All in all it's a moving experience--one kindling fresh interests to keep me young.

What about you. What recent voluntary (or involuntary) event has been a moving experience for you?