Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Follow up to Gifts of the Heart

Just wanted to let everyone know that my son's hemoglobin level has come up to 7.8. Normal range is 12 - 18 for ANYONE, so he's still anemic. We're waiting on his hematologist to get back from vacation to give us any further instructions, but the nurse seemed pleased that it came up 1.5 points in a week.

Overall, we're pleased, but know he's still got problems. Still, it's enough to be encouraged.

Until next time,

Liberty

Monday, December 26, 2011

Gifts of the Heart

Merry Christmas, a day late! Or, as our friends across the pond may say today, Happy Boxing Day!

I hope you've had a most blessed Christmas... and managed not to kill any of your family. ;) Or is it just me that struggles with those feelings sometimes? (tee hee hee, just kidding!)

Today is my regularly scheduled post for the ChristianWriters.com blog chain, and to be honest, the topic (Gifts of the Heart) kind of has me stumped. But, I shall charge on!

When I read the topic (admittedly, about 5 minutes before I started writing this post), I thought, huh.

So, rather than do a traditional post, I think I'll leave you with a few pictures of some of the things that warm my heart. I hope you'll find them as endearing as I do.




Obviously, these are my kids... and my dog. :) I'd put TMOTH's picture up, but I'm not sure if he'd be okay with it. 
So, my family is my gift of the heart... I hope you can say the same for yours!


In a little sidenote, I want to give a brief update on our son's health. Last week, we thought everything was going well, and then we went in to see his dermatologist, who, on a whim, ordered some blood work. Our guy has been sick most of the time since Thanksgiving, and when they ran his hemoglobin, it was 6.3. Normal is between 12 and 18, so he's exceptionally anemic right now. We have his blood retested tomorrow, and his hematologist (blood doctor) is watching this closely. We've managed to get through Thanksgiving and Christmas without being admitted--and seeing as those were both spent at the hospital in 2010, this is a great thing. Hopefully, we'll make it through the remainder of 2011 without being admitted again! (Now, if we can make it through cold and flu season...) 

If everything is okay, I guess you'll hear from me next in 2012... wow, can it really nearly be 2012? It barely seems like I was getting a handle on 2011! If for some reason things aren't as good as we hoped, I'll try to post a short update on Tuesday or Wednesday. 

(But I'm hoping it'll be 2012 before you hear from me again!)

Happy New Year!

Until next time,

Liberty

Monday, December 12, 2011

Disappointment

I've been debating today whether I should try to do a post. I neglected getting one up and ready last week, and here I am, procrastinating again.

I'm probably one of the worst procrastinators out there. Okay, not the worst... but still... And, TMOTH is just as bad as I am, which means we're both hopeless.

Really, we can both be motivated... when we want to be... But if I were so motivated, wouldn't I have at least been trying to get my novel out the door these past few years? Wouldn't I have been doing more to raise my writing credits from just this blog and CCBR in the last few years?

Sometimes, I can really disappoint myself.

Which is why I've been thinking about my 2012 New Years Resolutions already. Actually, since before Thanksgiving. I've narrowed it down to four:

  • Lose 10 - 15 pounds. While I don't want to get down to what I was when I got married, and I'm on the upper-end of the acceptable range of BMI, I don't want to let myself get out of hand. 
  • Raise my writer profile from what it is now to the point where I'm under contract with an agent and have published short stories--and more than one or two. I'd like one for every month of the year, but that would mean I need ideas! :) 
  • Learn how to quilt (which I'm already teaching myself.)
  • Learn how to can.
I think I can do all of these things... as long as TMOTH encourages me, and I stay on track. Honestly, I think the hardest thing for me will be to lose the weight since I'm happiest sitting at a computer!


There's 19 days left in 2011... Have you accomplished your 2011 goals? What are your 2012 goals?

Until next time,

Liberty

Monday, December 05, 2011

PERIL

PERIL: A blog tour with Suzanne Hartmann and Lady Anne

Readers of Word Wanderings shouldn't be strangers to Suzanne Hartmann. She's guest blogged at least once, maybe twice. And today, I'm delighted to bring her back. She has just had her first novel debut! I couldn't be more excited for her. Peril: A Fast Track Thriller (Book 1) is now available.


A top secret agent with enhanced strength must use her extraordinary abilities during several high-profile assignments from the White House to NASCAR tracks. When unwanted publicity threatens to expose her, she herself becomes a terrorist target, with danger surrounding her on all sides.

“Plenty of action and unexpected twists.” -- Foreword by Jimmy Makar, General Manager of Joe Gibbs Racing


Suzanne and I have conspired a little treat. We've convinced her lead characters, Lady Anne and Stuart Jackson, to sit down and be interviewed--and it was no easy task, let me tell you!

A little about Lady Anne: She is King Ahmad’s beautiful, but mysterious bodyguard. While she appears to be all lady on the outside, she is not afraid to face terrorists and is capable of taking them down with her enhanced abilities. She is a woman full of secrets, and no one is able to trace her history or whereabouts.

A little about Stuart Jackson: he is a two-time NASCAR Champion at the peak of his career, yet finds his life lacking meaning. Although drawn to Lady Anne by her beauty, once he has a chance to get to know her, it is her contentment in an obviously difficult situation which makes him seek her.

WW: Thank you both for finally agreeing to this interview. I understand that you value your privacy and rarely make appearances.
STUART: Some of us make appearances so rarely that they’re almost impossible to find. (glances at Lady Anne)
LADY ANNE: (points at self and mouths "who me?") As the woman said, I value my privacy.

WW: Stuart, I hear that you and Lady Anne are an item.
STUART: (pulls at collar) Well…uh…no. Actually, the media started that rumor. She's might be the most beautiful and interesting woman I've ever met, but there are...ah...
issues...that keep us from having anything but a friendship.

WW: I see. Lady Anne, could you shed any light on these issues?
LADY ANNE: I cannot expound on them, but I can say that the way I dealt with these issues only encouraged Stuart to try to find me because he recognized in me the kind of peace he was seeking.

WW: Stuart, you're a NASCAR champion, and have the kind of fame and fortune most people can only dream about, and yet you're not content with your life?
STUART: I felt empty. Like I was missing something, but I didn’t know what. I was always looking for the next challenge—something bigger and better to look forward to: my first win, a championship, the next step up the racing ladder. But every time I got there, it was only a matter of time before I looked for what was next…until I ran out of challenges. I reached the pinnacle of my career, but when I looked down on the other side I saw nothing

Then I had two brushes with death in less than a month. I don’t know. It just stripped away everything that I valued, and the culmination of my dreams didn’t seem as important as it had been. I was still proud of my accomplishments, but I saw that something was missing.

WW: And you finally located Lady Anne to get answers?
STUART: It took quite a bit of finagling, but yes, I got my answers…and a whole lot more.

WW: Can you tell us how you first met?
LADY ANNE: Stuart attended the State Dinner at the White House in honor of King Ahmad, and I was the King's escort for the day.

WW: And you were the hero of the day--
STUART: And the hero when she escorted the King to the Talladega Superspeedway, and at the Famous Fifty Banquet.
LADY ANNE: (blushing) Yes, but I paid dearly because of the notoriety my actions brought. It threatened my personal life and eventually made me a terrorist target.

WW: Because you kept saving the first Muslim king to convert to Christianity?
LADY ANNE: Yes. But it was an honor to be given such an assignment. As difficult as it has made my life, much good has come of it, and I have come to realize that God is in control and has been leading me since the White House incident, even though I doubted Him.

WW: How do you deal with the stress of knowing that there are people out there who want to kill you?
LADY ANNE: It's hard. It worries me constantly, but I have a plan. It is very risky and I am not looking forward to implementing it, but if it works I should be safe from the threat of terrorists.

WW: I don't suppose you could share that plan with us?
STUART: Don't even go there. She'll never answer your questions about her plans. Trust me, I tried. She was polite, but wouldn’t give up any information she didn’t’ want to.

WW: As much as I would love to know more, I can understand that your plan requires secrecy, so I will simply wish you the best of luck. Thank your both for joining me today. It has been a pleasure to get to know you.

To celebrate the release of her debut novel, Suzanne is giving away a KINDLE!
Entries will be accepted until 12/16. For details, click here: WIN A KINDLE


Suzanne Hartmann is a homeschool mom of three and lives in the St. Louis area. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Composition & Linguistics from Western Illinois University. To relax, she enjoys scrapbooking, reading, and Bible study. She began writing fiction when her children were young, and four of her short stories were published in a Milliken Publishing reading workbook. PERIL: Fast Track Thriller Bk. #1 is her debut novel.

On the editorial side, Suzanne is a contributing editor with Port Yonder Press and operates the Write This Way Critique Service. Through her blog, Write This Way, she has become known as an author who can explain writing rules and techniques in easy-to-understand terms. Her popular Top 10 series of articles formed the basis for her e-book on the craft of writing, Write This Way: Take Your Writing to a New Level.

Peril is now available at Amazon.com in paperback for $16.95, as well as at ChristianBook.com for $12.99. I understand that while not available yet, it should be available on Kindle within the next couple of weeks.

If you're a writer, you should also check out Suzanne's e-book, Write This Way: Take Your Writing to a New Level, of which, I am pleased to be an endorser for.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Suzanne, Lady Anne, and Stuart! I honestly can't wait to read this book.


Until next time,


Monday, November 28, 2011

Scared Silly

Ever get so focused on something, the whole world is just white noise?

Yeah, this happened to me in the last week.

Lesson: you should not get that so totally focused on something else when you have a 3-year-old and 16-month-old in the house.

I decided that I was going to get a head start on one of my four 2012 resolutions this past week: I'm going to learn how to quilt.

Over a year ago, I bought one of those "How to Quilt" books at my favorite crafts store. With everything going on, I hadn't cracked it open in, well, probably at least 9 months. But, with the wonders of PBS's CreateTV, I rediscovered that, hey, I wanted to learn how to quilt sometime in my lifetime. As if I don't have ENOUGH going on.

So, I dug my quilting book out of storage (i.e. my basement--and I knew exactly where said book was) and started reading a couple weeks ago. And, last weekend, I felt confident enough that I went out and bought supplies for a small, potholder-sized quilt.

And, last Monday, I decided that the kids were behaving well enough that I could setup for a quick "let's-learn-to-quilt" session.

Got all my prep done with kids underfoot, decided to babygate the kitchen door so they could see me, I could see them, but they couldn't knock over a hot iron or get into my sewing machine.

At some point, I got so focused on whatever I was working on--and I had my back turned to the kitchen door. My daughter dragged a kid-sized chair to the door, unbeknownst to me.

And she let out the loudest, "Hey, Mom!" that she possibly could.

I just about hit the ceiling. And let out a scream of my own.

Which caused my daughter to start crying.

I climbed over the gate, and hugged her, reassuring her I wasn't mad--just that she really had scared mom.

I think after that, we both had a cookie. We both needed one.


Later that morning, I did finish my quilting project. It didn't turn out too bad, even if I nearly had a heart attack in the process.


Hopefully, my daughter doesn't attempt anything similar when I learn how to can next year. ;) Fabric is one thing, glass and high pressure are a whole 'nother thing.


Until next time,

Liberty

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Blessings

Okay, so I admit it... I forgot about writing this week's blog post.

But, I still want to wish everyone a most blessed Thanksgiving holiday. As we all begin the hecticness of this holiday season, I hope you take a few quiet moments to reflect on everything we have to be thankful for this year.

And in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to share with you this week's message from my church. The message is the "Thank God" message from our "Constant Contact" series. (But the previous message, "Ask God," is very good, too.)

Stay safe on the roads and in the air, enjoy time with family, try not to kill anyone. ;)

Until next time,

Monday, November 14, 2011

Things I Didn't Know

Nine Things.

This month's topic for the ChristianWriters.com blog chain is another that sort of has me stumped.

Being that it's Thanksgiving season, I'd hazard a guess that many are writing of what they're thankful for.

But, the only thing I can think of is to write about Nine Things I Didn't Know at this time last year.

This last year has been trying, to say the least. And, I've learned a lot.

1. A year ago, I thought something was wrong with me when my son wouldn't gain weight.

2. A year ago, I'd never have thought my second home for most of the next year would become a hospital.

3. A year ago, I'd never have thought I'd ever live in an apartment again (and thankfully, we don't again!)

4. A year ago, I didn't know what lengths we could go to in order to find out what was wrong with our son.

5. A year ago, I looked at holidays as something that happened normally. After spending three holidays in the hospital, I'm grateful for the family and friends who assisted us through the holidays last year.

6. A year ago, I'd never heard of Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome. While I'm still learning about it, I know a heck of a lot more than a couple doctors on our son's team!

7. A year ago, I didn't realize just how much time would have to be invested in keeping our son healthy. It's more than you think, but less than I think is possible.

8. A year ago, I knew I'd have a book deal by now. Yeah, that hasn't happened. I've had to put off submissions again and again. :(

9. A year ago, I really didn't know how many people would rush to our side during a crisis. Today, I know. And I'm grateful for all of our friends.

I kind of wonder what I'll be learning next year.

What have you learned this year? How has it helped you?

Until next time,

Liberty

Monday, November 07, 2011

Winner: Deliver Me From Evil

Well, a week later, and we have a winner!

I decided to relax the rules since we only had two entrants...

And the official winner is... Sherrie Speidel!


I should note that Sherrie is my mother-in-law. Normally, I won't enter family into giveaways, but due to the few entrants of the giveaway, and the fact I feel this is an important book for EVERYONE to read, I relaxed those rules.

Congratulations!


I'll be back next week with a post about who knows what. ;) It should be good, regardless!

Until next time,

Liberty

Monday, October 31, 2011

Deliver Me From Evil

Recently, I "met" on Facebook with an author who was releasing a book that ran parallel in theme to one of my current projects. While my project is set in the year 2117 and mostly in space, and hers is set in present-day San Diego, they share the same topic: human trafficking for sexual slavery.

That author is Kathi Macias, and she graciously offered me a chance to read her book, Deliver Me From Evil, sending me a book to my new place before I'd even moved in last month. I'll be giving away my copy of this book to one lucky reader. See details at the end of this post.

Now, with boxes unpacked, and three fewer distractions in the house (my husband and kids were out of town over the weekend), I was able to finally sit down and read this book.

I will say up front that this is not an easy-to-read book. The fear from the girls in this book is real.

Mara was bought--by her uncle, no less--at the age of five or six, taken across the border into San Diego where she began her "training". Now eighteen, she's known no other life, and has no real hope of ever seeing a normal life. As the eldest of the slaves her uncle has obtained through the years, she's tasked with teaching them the ropes--or suffer the consequences from her uncle.

A chance encounter with almost-graduated-from-high-school Jonathan Flannery, who is delivering pizzas at the hotel Mara is working one evening, leads to an incredible series of events that changes not only their lives, but all the lives of those around them.


Honestly, I was a little trepidatious about reading this book. I've known about human trafficking for more than a decade. The former US Senator, now governor, from Kansas was an early voice throughout the late 90s and into the 21st Century about the topic. (Keep in mind, I'm not even 30 yet, so there may be other voices out there--but given my age, he was the first I really was aware of.) So, I've been aware of the horrors for a while. Even more, my church has formed a ministry to aid those stuck in slavery to get out--not just stateside, but abroad in Thailand and India (possibly South Africa) as well.

I shouldn't have feared.

Although the book was difficult to read, there were enough breathers between the tough scenes with Jonathan Flannery and his family that I was able to read it in four sittings. Ms. Macias is an extremely skillful writer, and while you don't see the violence and horrors "on screen" so-to-speak, it's insinuated. I'm not sure which would actually be worse--if it were spelled out, or with my imagination running away with me.

Anyway.

This book is not for the faint of heart. There is some real evil, some very despicable people. Even Mara, who I found myself rooting for throughout most of the book, was plotting to kill her uncle by the end of the book--if she ever got the chance, that is. And really, who could blame her?

If you're not content to read bonnet books, and are willing to tackle some difficult topics and get your eyes opened, this is definitely a book worth reading.

For my non-Christian readers: this is a Christian book. God is on almost every page. The characters talk about God, pray, attend church, etc. However, human trafficking and sexual slavery is a problem that needs to get dealt with, and the Church is on the frontlines of this battle. When kids--not just girls, boys too--are getting kidnapped in preschool to be placed in this line of "work", there's a problem, and whether you're a Christ-follower or not, you can't ignore it.

Because I feel so passionately about this topic, and I believe Deliver Me From Evil is such an important book to read, even as a work of fiction, I am going to give away my copy to one lucky reader. All that I ask is that you read it, then pass it on to someone else who will read it, who will then give it to someone else to read, and so on. This book should not remain on your bookshelf! Only through informing others about what's going on in our cities, in our country, will we be able to put a stop to this.

If you're interested, please leave a comment below with the first name and last initial of the person you think you'd give this book to. It doesn't have to be who you eventually give it to, just show me you're thinking along those lines already. I'll draw one winner after 6 PM Central Time next Sunday, and announce the winner bright and early Monday morning.

I should also note the fact that this book is the first in a trilogy. There are a few loose threads dangling at the end, so I am eagerly awaiting Freedom Series #2, Special Delivery, in January 2012, and #3, The Deliverer, in April 2012. You can visit Kathi's website to learn about these and other books.



Until next time,

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Few Thoughts on Parents of Special Needs Kids

Before our little boy was diagnosed with Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome, I never really gave much thought to the needs of parents with kids with special needs. And while I would be the first to say that SDS isn't the worst possible diagnosis (and some would probably argue until the world ends that SDS makes him a true "special needs" kid), it also has given me a glimpse into the lives of other parents that do have truly special needs kiddos.

My Two Munchkins in a recent picture
With our daughter, if she had a cough or a sneeze, I never really had to worry it would turn into something more. (I did, of course, but she was never seriously sick.) If she missed being in the nursery at church one week, she'd be back the next week, maybe with the tiny tendrils left of a cold, but virtually all better.

Now, if my son coughs in the middle of the night--even if it's just once or twice--I wonder if he's coming down with a cold. Or the flu. Or worse. Will he have to be admitted to the hospital--again? How long will he stay?

And, it all runs through my brain in about one-half of a millisecond.

Every special needs kid is different. Whether the kid has SDS (like ours), leukemia, Downs Syndrome, or something else more rare like a muscle atrophy condition, there's an adjoining parent or two who struggles with the idiosyncrasies of their child's disease. With us, we've had to learn to accept the medications given daily (which I think is probably the same with most parents of kids with special needs) and the fact there will always be that "What If?" question in our brains. And the specialists that will have to be involved with his long-term care. And the fact he may not be as tall as his mom when he hits adulthood. (I really hope we're at least at eye-level. I'm a tall woman--5'8"--but I can't imagine having a child shorter than me when they're an adult!)

While most people tend to focus on the kids with special needs, sometimes the parents and sibling(s) get forgotten. If you're in this boat, maybe you should take a minute and give the mom or dad a call just to see how they're doing. Offer some babysitting time. Trust me--it's scary as a parent to hand your kid over to someone when you don't know what could go wrong--then you have the added concerns of medications, and it's nearly paralyzing. Since our son was diagnosed positively, I can count on two fingers how many times my husband and I have left both our kids with someone other than a family member. It's not that I don't trust anyone, it's that I personally feel it's probably overwhelming for someone to know what they need to do, even for something as "simple" as mealtime.

And, maybe I don't want to burden anyone else with the complexities. Who knows.


Question for you: do you know anyone with special needs kids? When was the last time you loved on the parents or siblings?

Until next time,

Monday, October 17, 2011

Harvest

by Foto3116
I grew up in the heart of wheat country--south central Kansas. Harvest is not an uncommon thing for me to witness. I remember growing up, there would be days we'd have to close up the house on nice days because there was a field just south of us, and the farmer was harvesting (or tilling sometimes) and it would stir up dust. My mom is an asthmatic with allergies, so the dust being blown in always caused problems--even with the house closed up.

Still, I love watching the big machines doing their jobs, row upon row being eaten up by that whirling harvester, soon to be turned into flour... or whatever else wheat is used for. Corn, milo, soybeans, and countless other grains grew in my area of the world. I even occasionally saw a cotton field!

Now, when I think of harvest time, I think of not just the big fields with family or commercial farmers in big rigs, but I also think of the small harvest--the one in a backyard. I'm hardly a green-thumb--TMOTH swears I have the ability to kill nearly every plant. He's almost right.

My mom grew tomatoes almost every year for several years. In the height of summer, there would be several weeks go by where she'd can a few days a week. Spaghetti sauce was a big one. While my family isn't Italian, we ate a lot of spaghetti. There's nothing better than homemade spaghetti sauce--with homegrown tomatoes!

I hope one day I can outgrow my black-thumb tendencies. I'd love to learn how to can for myself, and to teach my daughter when she's older. I've gotten a lot of encouragement from several friends, I just need to bite the bullet, get the equipment... and actually grow something worth canning! Then maybe next time, I can have a happy harvest, too.


Today's post has been a part of the ChristianWriters.com blog chain. For links to the other blogger's posts, please go here.

Until next time,

Monday, October 10, 2011

Growing Pains

If you've been around Word Wanderings very long, you know I've got two kids. My first, my daughter, just turned three. And in the last month or so, I've seen her grow up a lot. It's a little sad on one hand, but interesting to watch, too.

Being a typical three-year-old, my daughter is getting a bossy streak. She tries to boss TMOTH, me, the dog, and her little brother. She even tries to tell you where to go when driving. Talk about a backseat driver! There's nothing quite like a little girl going, "No, Mommy, that way! THAT WAY!" when you're out running errands. Usually, she just doesn't want to go home, or thinks we need to go somewhere else. Sonic is her favorite stop--and she knows where most of them in our normal areas of travel. (Of course, we just moved, so those normal areas are shifting.)

Having an independent streak can be dangerous. I've had to really work at stamping down on her independence lately. Not that I don't want her to be an independent woman one day, just not at the age of three! Running through Target or the grocery store is irresponsible and discourteous, and leaving the backyard--taking the dog with you--can lead to one or both getting hit by a car.

It makes me think about how God parents us. We make mistakes, He allows for punishment. It's kind of strange to think of a twenty-nine-year-old being parented (shouldn't I know what's going on by now?) but I've seen it happen. And, while I'm not necessarily sure every time what I'm supposed to learn, I can only hope I learn the lesson--as my daughter learns she can't run through Target or have that mini-Barbie that's in the checkout line.


Next week is my post for the ChristianWriters.com blog chain. The topic is "Harvest". I've been a little negligent about posting reminders about the blog chain, and I've since moved the list from my sidebar to a separate page. If you go here, you'll find the links for every post. We almost have a full month, and this next week is full! I hope you'll check out the posts.

Until next time,

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Changes at Word Wanderings

As I was reading the follow-ups to the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference in St. Louis last month, I saw an interesting blog or tweet about how a writer's blog shouldn't necessarily be about writing since that doesn't always show off your writing to the best of its ability. Epiphany! So, while I think I'll continue writing periodically about writing, I'm opening up my repertoire. I'll still try to stay away from politics, but for the most part, anything else will be a possible topic in the future. Let's see how this goes. :)

This may mean shorter or longer blog posts, depending on my chosen topic of the day. If you have a suggestion for a topic, feel free to drop me a note. Thanks.

Until next time,

Liberty

Monday, September 19, 2011

Choosing the Right Point of View

How many writers actively think about point of view and how they're going to tell their story?

If you as a writer, want to be successful, you'll give some thought to it before sitting down at your computer. It can make or break your story.

This became clear recently when I was critiquing stories by two of my fellow-members of the Port Yonder Press mentoring group I'm in this year.

I am most comfortable writing in 1st Person--i.e., I said, I did. And while I don't exclusively read first person stories, I am drawn to them more than their third person counterparts (i.e. he said, she did.)

This came across to at least one of my crit partners in a pretty obvious way--both of them got suggestions from me to switch from third to first person.

Why would I suggest this?

Because the story they were telling needed a more intimate experience, at least in my opinion.

There are a lot of reasons to take into account when you're choosing your point of view. Most authors and writing coaches indicate that scene-to-scene, you should write from the POV of the character who has the most to lose in any given scene. This works better when you're in 3rd Person, when it's more acceptable to switch from John's head to Mary's head, then pop into Peter's across three scenes.

But that's not always possible, especially if you're writing from a singular point of view, whether it be first person or a very tight third.

I ran into this problem when I was writing the first few drafts of Homebody. My problem? I'm a bit of a romantic at heart, and while Homebody is told in first person point of view, there were several scenes I needed to tell that would work best from a second person's perspective.

My solution?

A very unorthodox approach. I switched to 3rd person for several scenes so I could show things from MC Amanda's boyfriend's POV. Being able to work from Rick's (the boyfriend) perspective opened things up. I was able to show things that Amanda wouldn't know, including several scenes where Amanda wasn't even present. While he (Rick) doesn't show anything critical to the mystery in the story, it does open things up to the romantic side, one where Amanda has been cold far too long.

This is an approach I have seen infrequently in novels: the most notable example I can think of is a particular Alex Cross novel by James Patterson (although it's been several years since I've read any of James Patterson's work, so I can't recall which one.) But, it *is* out there, it's just used infrequently. The important thing to remember is you have to be a good storyteller before you start breaking the rules of storytelling. While I'm not sure I'm a great storyteller yet, this was what worked for me in how I tell this set of stories.

I'm hopeful an agent and an editor will agree.


Until next time,

Monday, September 12, 2011

Homecoming

I must apologize first off for my lapse in the last two weeks of posts. I got caught up in preparations for my trip, then forgot to finish and post the one post I had started! Argh! Hopefully, I won't have such a lapse again. Anyway, I'm back, and that's the important part. Now, if I can just get my PCs to cooperate with me...

Today is my post for the ChristianWriters.com blog chain... and as is apt having just come off my vacation, I'm writing it today... that's how much I'm behind! The topic is "Coming Home".

I haven't had the benefit of even looking at anyone else's posts, so I have no idea where everyone has taken this.

But, I had a literal coming home experience last week, so I'll talk about that.

First, I should tell you that I have a love/hate relationship with traveling. I like being away from home, but I hate the inconveniences of being away--being in an unfamiliar area (so I don't sleep as well), having my kids way off schedule, and not having any time (or inclination) to write or read. The worst of these is usually having to sleep in a hotel (or even in a relative's home.) The mattress never feels right, and the surroundings are such that I sleep very lightly, awaking to every little sound, even if it's one that normally wouldn't bug me at home.

Chasm Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park
The drive home last week was lengthy. We were in NE Wyoming with family, and we left their home at 8:45 AM Mountain Time. TMOTH and I have done this drive in 12ish hours before, so I had hoped we'd be home by midnight (allowing for extra breaks.) By the time we'd been on the road for ten hours, we'd stopped 8 times. Yeesh.

It seemed the miles came slowly, driving across four states in order to get home. Stopping for the night wasn't an option: TMOTH had to be at work the next morning. When we stopped to pick up my dog from Grandma, it was 12:30 AM Central, and we had one more hour to go.

Getting home was great. I was so relieved when we pulled up. Even when we walked in and found the place smelled like the garbage can we'd forgotten to take out when we left. (Poopy diapers left for 8 days don't smell that great--let me tell you!) I was just so relieved to be home, to be able to drop into my own bed.

There were a lot of reasons to be relieved to be home. Our car had actually made it! In Colorado, we were climbing Pike's Peak, and the car was acting very strange. We had to stop because our toddler, who is potty training, needed to use the bathroom. While we were doing this, we left the car running (hubby was afraid to shut it off) and it was sputtering and just not acting right. With our little boy in the car (asleep) and hubby off utilizing the men's room, my daughter and I were standing outside, taking pictures and the car just died! That's a little scary, when you're halfway up a mountain, and you don't know how you're going to get back down.

Fortunately, TMOTH is a mechanic by trade. He recognized what the car was doing, and determined that we had to let the engine cool down. We ended up making it to the summit, but the next day was spent in Denver, locating parts to replace a part of the engine.

What a way to spend a vacation!

So you can see why I was most relieved on our home coming. Things could get back to normal. Our car wasn't in perilous danger due to altitude. And I could sleep in my own bed.

At least I had a break from writing--and I'd recently just finished writing "Cora's Song" before leaving. On the way home, I figured out my laptop's fan had gone dead. Which definitely puts a damper on the whole writing thing. But, I'd at least gotten a preliminary read of K.M. Weiland's new "Outline Your Novel" done. I'll be doing a review here in a few weeks once it's officially released. I'll say this: I'm actively outlining again. This is a good thing.

I know this is a pretty disjointed post, and I apologize. Hopefully you can make sense of my version of Coming Home.

Until next time,

Monday, August 22, 2011

Majesty

It's August... and that means it's time for another post in the ChristianWriters.com blog chain.

Our theme is August.

From Dictionary.com:

au·gust  [aw-guhst]

–adjective
1. inspiring reverence or admiration; of supreme dignity or grandeur; majestic: an august performance of a religious drama.
I must admit this theme was a little harder than ones in past months to wrap my mind around.

For me, August has always been a month, and I rarely think of using the other meaning in a sentence.

But, as I've thought about the alternative definition--majesty--I think of my visits to the Rocky Mountains. How august are they, when you're driving across the plains of eastern Colorado, and they finally come into view as you're traveling across I-70, coming into Denver? I have yet to be more taken with a sight, although the Flint Hills of Kansas around sunrise or sunset in fall or mid-spring can take my breath away as well.

The first time I saw the Rockies, I was 20, traveling to Wyoming from Wichita with my new-fiancé who would eventually become TMOTH a few months later. I was awestruck. Especially when days later, we returned to visit first Rocky Mountain National Park, then Colorado Springs' Pike's Peak.

Ever since then, I've been smitten with the Rockies in general, and Colorado in particular. In the next few weeks, we'll travel there for the first time since having children. I can't wait.

When I'm in the Rockies especially, I experience a relaxation I don't get anywhere else--even when on a vacation elsewhere. Perhaps it's the higher altitudes and less oxygen. But, I honestly think it's the august beauty of the countryside.

While there, I get more reflective. Gazing at the beauty, you can't but help but marvel and acknowledge the wonderful craftsmanship of our Creator. Sure, some people subscribe to the notion our world was formed over millions of years.

I usually have a big eye-roll for that one.

You can't look at Creation if you've got any sense in your brain and not see how things had to be formed by a loving and masterful Creator. Sure, changes to occur. But, He was the one who formed the rivers, chose their paths, and made them for us to drink from and enjoy. He's the one who shoved the rock out of the ground to form majestic mountains, covered in aspens, pines, snow, and curious creatures.

His whole Creation is truly august, and worthy of our awe, from the far, far deserts that stretch thousands of square miles, to the tiny forget-me-not you find on a mountainous hike.

Take a minute to look around with wonder next time you're enjoying nature and think of how awesome it is--and how truly awe-inspiring the Master of the Universe is for taking the time to create our world, right down to the ants crawling around in the blades of grass between our toes.

All of today's photo's were taken by either myself or TMOTH during a vacation to Colorado in July 2007, which was the last time we were in my (current) favorite state. Given a detailed map, I can approximate all three locations, and the one with the river I know for a fact was near 11 Mile Reservoir along the S. Platte River. TMOTH is pictured in this WAY down the river if you've got a big enough copy to spot him. :)

Until next time,


P.S. Tomorrow is my wedding anniversary with TMOTH! 9 years together... and we haven't killed each other yet. ;) Seriously, love this guy more each year, and excited to have at least another 59 with him, Lord willing. -- L.S.

Monday, August 15, 2011

It Seems Like It Took Forever To Get To This Point...

You might remember several months ago, I did a blog post about my son's battle with a disease called Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome. You may also remember the fact that he'd been on a feeding tube since Christmas.

My little boy, hiding
Well, we've had some pretty decent progress in the last couple of months.

My little boy has gone from baby nearly completely dependent on his feeding tube to a toddler who had the gumption to practically insist on having it removed. Permanently.

As of a week ago today, we haven't been using the feeding tube.

This may seem like a strange post to do on a writing blog, but let me tell you--this is something I'm rejoicing about. For 7.5 months he's had this stupid thing. When he first got it just before Christmas last year, they told me it would probably be three, maybe four months.

Before we knew it, spring, then summer was here. Do you realize he's spent more time with it in than out in his short life?? He'll be 13 months old in a week or so, and we'll still have another two months to go before he'll equal out the time!

So, let me finish updating you on his health.

On Friday, we had what we call a combined clinic. Three departments who are following his progress at the hospital we go to all came in for different parts of the same appointment and discussed his health with TMOTH and me. They said he looks good overall, and are so pleased with his progress, they don't want us to come back for 6 months.

6 MONTHS!!!

This is absolutely huge for us, especially since we've gotten used to seeing almost all our doctors once every 4 - 6 weeks. We will, of course, continue to follow up with our personal doctor, and keep one of the doctors updated on illnesses, weight gains/losses, and call with questions. And, when we go back, our little guy will be having his first bone marrow biopsy. That'll be the sucky part, but we'll hope/pray that it'll just be one thing we have to live with and nothing bad will come of it.

For the time being, if you want to pray for our little guy, just pray we can get into and through cold/flu season unscathed. The theory is the fewer times he's sick, the less hits his bone marrow will take, and the less stressed it will be, which may reduce the likelihood he'll develop leukemia in his lifetime. Everyone in our family will be getting a flu shot, and he'll be getting a pneumonia shot as well. If you're family or friends and reading this, we beg you to get a flu shot--not only for your health, but his.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

I usually don't do a two-topic post, but will today, just for the sake of getting it off my chest.

My writing has been coming along beautifully. While I'm still behind on my CCBR reviews (sorry Kristina and Tanya!), I'm attempting to catch up there. Too bad the short books are the easiest to read and review... I've just got the longer, chapter books to work on now!

But, more importantly, I took the plunge and signed up for the Port Yonder Press mentorship program for the 2011-2012 season. So far, I've written my first story (of the four required) and it came out rather well, if I do say so myself. The goal is to get it worked into a publishable/saleable shape. So, right now, my goal is to sit down and figure out who would be the likely takers for this short project (under 1000 words.) Then, I need to work on my next project, which will be longer. My exclusively-novel-trained brain is definitely getting its exercise working on these shorter projects.

And, finally, I have been once again actively working on the 2nd Draft of "Cora's Song." Have I mentioned how much I really love this story? Well, I really love this story. :) I'm nowhere near done, and have already written about 85K (as of Friday last week) on the project. My first draft? 70K. As I said on my author page, I see a lot of editing in my future, since I think this could easily clock in around 110 - maybe even 120K. The really awesome thing is that even though I'm actively outlining, staying about 10 chapters ahead, I'm coming up with some cool ideas to incorporate when I go back to edit further.

Now if I can just get all my notes in one place...


Until next time,

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

An Interview

NOTE: I made an error and sent everyone to the Blogger.com homepage earlier with my link. I have corrected this, and the link is correctly placed for TheWriteChris blog now. Thanks!

Some projects got in the way of me doing a blog post this week, but one of those projects was the interview I did with Christine Henderson over at TheWriteChris. Please head over there and check it out--my first interview!! :D

Plan to be back next week with a post on what's been keeping me busy...

Until next time,

Liberty

Monday, August 01, 2011

Writing Lessons from the Movies: "The Band Wagon"

As writers, we all know the kind of story we want to write. As well we should! If we don't know, then what are we doing with an open Word document in front of us, trying to string words together? Having a vision for our story is important.

In the 1950s musical classic The Band Wagon, we get a great lesson about not letting go of that vision, nor allowing someone to so skew your story that it's barely recognizable when they're through with it.

If you're not familiar with the movie, here's a brief run-down. Tony Hunter (Fred Astaire) is a washed-up movie actor in the twilight of his career, looking to go back to his Broadway roots and return to the stage. His friends, playwrights Lester and Lily Martin (Oscar Levant and Nanette Fabray), have what they feel is the perfect vehicle, and persuade him to return to New York City. Upon Tony's arrival, they take him to meet the person who they want to direct their venture, Jeffrey Cordova (James Buchanan).

Fred Astaire & Cyd Charise "Dancing in the Dark"
Picture from Wikipedia
Cordova, however, has a very different plan for Les & Lily's upbeat musical, turning it into a musical drama that doesn't leave the audience with a smile on their face. The show is a flop.

As the cast is commiserating and saying their goodbyes, Tony takes things into his own hands, tells Cordova that they're going to revamp and take things back to the original show the Martin's had planned. When they do this, The Band Wagon becomes a hit.

You can probably tell where I'm headed with this (hey, you're smart!) but the important lesson for us writers is this: don't let others tinker with your story unless you're sure about the changes they're suggesting, if it really, truly improves things. Take everything your crit partners say and look at it thoroughly and with a cautious eye. Don't just take their suggestions as gospel truth.

When you get notes back from critters, agents, or editors (though mostly, the critters), take things in, try to see what they're saying, then let it steep in your brain for a while. I've gotten some of my best ideas when I let things sit rather than making the jump into editing immediately. I'll start thinking about one point, mull over possible changes, then sometimes, particularly if it's major, I'll call up the critter or meet them for coffee and have a brainstorming session. I actually have one critter from my local writer's group that we do this nearly every time I see him. He'll walk me to my car and we'll stand there and talk and brainstorm.

Some of my best ideas come while we're talking. I make a mental note, or, lately, pull up the voice recorder on my phone and make some notes as I'm driving home.

Just remember: keep in mind the vision you've got for your book. Not everyone is going to be pulling for you--or even see what you can see in your book's rough form.

My question for you: Have you ever received constructive criticism from someone where their vision for your book was polar opposite from yours? If so, how did you handle it? Did it end up being helpful?

Until next time,



P.S. My good friend and sometimes guest blogger Linda Yezak's novel is out on Kindle! When I bought it on Thursday, it was $0.99! I don't know if it's still that low, but I'd urge you to go buy Give the Lady a Ride. It would make her happy. -- LS

Friday, July 29, 2011

Under Construction!

Just a note to let you know I'll be doing some upgrades over the course of the weekend, time permitting. So, if you come across some broken links or if things don't look quite right, that's the reason. I'm not a CSS or HTML expert, but am trying to learn. :)

Thanks for your patience.

--Liberty

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Meaning of Liberty

I don't, as a rule, do two posts for the ChristianWriters.com blog chain in a month. And, technically, this isn't a part of the blog chain for July...

However, someone made a suggestion to me, and it was hard to resist.

You see, if you're new to Word Wanderings, my name is Liberty. It's kind of a strange name (although, I've learned my daughter's name is even less common. However, my name only gained significantly more popularity than hers after 2001.)

Upon learning of my name, I've gotten a variety of responses. As a young girl, I'd be called "Liberty Bell" or "Statue of Liberty" on the playground. I hated it, and still do to this day, although I will use both to illustrate how my name is spelled if someone's confused.

I also get questioned as to whether my parents were hippies (which is the funniest response I've ever received) and whether I was born on the 4th of July. Nope, I share a birthday with Elton John, Dannika Patrick, and Apollo 13 astronaut James Lovell. The last one, I'm happiest about.

Most people hear "Liberty" and think "Freedom" or "America" or "weirdo." (I may be making that last one up. That's only because they don't know how idiosyncratic I am!)

No, my name was given to me by my parents because of the Scripture verse 2 Corinthians 3:17, which says, in the New American Standard Bible: "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty."

I always just thought it was a cool place for my name to come from. But, in recent days, I've been thinking about the verse some, especially in light of an online seminar I watched last week with Dave Ramsey about personal freedom and having an economic recovery. A lot of what he talked about wasn't just monetary, but spiritual as well.

Which goes back to my namesake verse.

There is an incredible freedom that comes from knowing Christ. That's what this verse talks about, that by knowing Christ, knowing His Spirit, you're free.

It's a different kind of freedom than one we normally celebrate every July 4th, or other days if you live in other regions of the world. It's one where we're free from the guilt of our past wrongdoings. We're free from burdens. The Spirit is there to take those from us, to make our paths as easy as possible. We're not guaranteed a life free from strife or trouble, but we can get through those trials easier when we have liberty in Christ.

I'm no theologian, and I don't pretend to be. But, this passage has become much more meaningful in recent weeks, especially as I observe the despondency in our country.

What kind of impact would be made on said despondency here and abroad if more of our people would turn to God instead of "almighty" government? What do you think that country and its citizens would look like?

Until next time,

Liberty

Monday, July 18, 2011

Where You Write

I think I'm in a minority where writing is concerned.

I've trained myself to write anywhere. And, I do mean ANYWHERE.

Most writers I talk to have one, maybe two places where they tend to write. At a desk, maybe at their kitchen table.

While I've got no desk currently (we got rid of it prior to moving last year--thank goodness, it was a pretty heavy desk, and huge, too!) I do a lot of my writing at my dining room table. It allows me a good ear to hear my kids as they play and nap. I'm close to the kitchen if I'm cooking something (although, I do sometimes forget that I have something on the stove or in the oven... and that's when the smoke detector goes off!) If I print a draft, it's easy to get up and pull it off my printer, which, because of the size of our apartment, currently sits on top of a filing cabinet (out of little hands' reach) in the corner of our dining room. And, if someone comes to the door, I'm right there to hear the knock and answer.

But, while about half of my writing goes on at my table right now, I've found I'm just as productive--and sometimes more productive--in other places. In no particular order, here are some places I write:

Lake Kanopolis in Kansas... a place I could work at!
  • The Couch
  • The Recliner
  • In bed
  • In the front seat of the car while my husband is driving.
  • The driver's seat (while in park, of course!)
  • At a picnic table
  • At a coffee shop
  • At a library
  • During a political meeting or two (probably when I should have been paying attention, too!)
  • On a boat
  • On a beach

My current favorite spot is in bed, but I don't do that unless I'm actually ready to go to bed, and just waiting on TMOTH. But, if there are nights where TMOTH falls asleep in the recliner or on the couch, I can work for a while into the wee hours of the morning.

Where you write doesn't matter--as long as it's a place you're comfortable with, and where you have the things you need at your disposal. I'd be the first to admit that some of the places I write--the beach for instance--aren't the most productive, and I may only get a little editing done or write a few paragraphs.

I think it can be advantageous for a writer to be able to write anywhere, especially if they're frequently on the go or have constant interruptions. As I write this post, I've gotten up three times to check on cooking, tend to my potty-training daughter, and get my son up from his nap. The dog has been growling at strange noises in the apartment building, the TV is on with The Sound of Music (which I've been singing along with!), and the radio is on four feet from me with the talk radio station.

My question for you today:
Where do you write? Do you have to have one location devoted to writing, or are you more like me--you bounce from location to location with ease?

Until next time,

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Call For Freedom

Freedom.

It's something many Americans celebrate during the month of July, usually corresponding with our Declaration of Independence Day, July 4. Many honor the real reason behind the day off from work, but many view it as a day to barbeque, go to the lake, get drunk, and maybe watch some fireworks.

As I watch many of our freedoms dissolve for a variety of reasons, I like to think the Founders--the Thomas Jeffersons, James Madisons, George Washingtons, John Hancocks--would be appalled at the state of American "freedom" in 2011. Our "freedom" allows millions of innocent babies to be murdered every year. Our "freedom" is being told we must purchase health insurance. Our "freedom" demands more than 25% of our paychecks every year.

I could go on.

Photo by JackieMBarr
I don't like to use my Word Wanderings blog as a platform to make a political statement. In fact, in the 2+ years I've been writing this blog, I've tried very hard to keep my political leanings OFF the blog. This is extremely hard as I approach my twentieth year of political involvement next year.

I'm not making an exception simply because the ChristianWriters.com blog chain topic is Freedom for July. I am continually bothered by the freedoms that are being encroached on day in and day out. Because I don't want to get legally groped at an airport, I don't fly any more. I've been threatening to get my private pilot's license for years, and if I had the dinero to do so, I'd have it.

Freedom is something to be treasured. It should be something honored, and others shouldn't trample on it, whether they be for so-called "good" reasons or not. As Americans, we should fight all efforts to thwart our freedoms, whether they be from Islamic terrorists or from members of congress. When freedom is gone, we perish. To thrive as a people, as a nation, we need to be free.

As a mother, I want to leave my kids freer than I feel I am now. It would be the greatest gift I can give to them.



I hope you'll check out the rest of this month's bloggers on the blog chain. I'm sure not all of them will be quite as partisan as mine. *grin*


  • 7/1: Lynn Mosher, Heading Home


  • 7/3: Brian Jones, Alambraidria


  • 7/4: Traci Bonney, Tracings


  • 7/5: Debra Ann Elliott, Sticks and Stepping Stones


  • 7/6: Carol Peterson, From Carol's Quill


  • 7/7: Cindee Snider Re, Breathe Deeply


  • 7/10: Keith Wallis, wordsculptures


  • 7/11: Liberty Speidel, Word Wanderings


  • 7/12: Terrie Thorpe, Light for the Journey


  • 7/13: Nona King, Word Obsession


  • 7/14: Chris Vonada, I'm Just Thinkin'


  • 7/16: Scott Fields, Dead Man Writing


  • 7/18: Michael Galloway, Horizons


  • 7/20: Victor Travison, Lightwalker's View


  • 7/21: Edward Lewis, Sowing the Seeds


  • 7/22: Sarah Grace, Write-Minded


  • 7/23: Anita Estes, New Life Dialogue


  • 7/25: Chris Depew, The Beulah Land Blog


  • 7/27: Tracy Krauss, Expression Express


  • 7/28: Marilyn, Life 101 Understanding It All


  • 7/30: Chris Henderson, TheWriteChris






  • Until next time,

    Monday, June 27, 2011

    Hot Buttons: Giveaway Winner!

    I just want to thank Chila Woychik again for the bang-up interview last week! Have you swung by her blog? It's filled with awesome thoughts from her (of course). Last week, she covered how to handle sexuality in writing--very thought provoking!

    And, I'd like to thank everyone for their participation in the giveaway! It's always great to get such great feedback from my readers.

    Photo by ADoseofShipBoy
    imladrisnine is our winner! Congratulations! Please use the
    function to contact me by 5 PM Central on Wednesday, June 29, otherwise I'll be choosing another winner. I will need your e-mail address for the Amazon Gift Card as well as your mailing address for Chila to send you a book (although if you've got your heart set on an e-book, I'll pass along your e-mail address to her and the two of you can hash that out.)

    Please continue to stay tuned. I'm hoping to have some more wonderful guests in the next few months, and maybe some more giveaways!

    Until next time,

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    Hot Buttons: An Interview with Chila Woychik... and our 100th Post!

    Today is a momentous occasion here at Word Wanderings: it's our 100th Post! I've been blogging here for a little more than two years, and I want to thank each and every reader for sticking with me.

    I have a special treat in store for you. For the third time, Chila (Maggie) Woychik has been gracious enough to join Word Wanderings. Today, she discussed her small press, Port Yonder Press (PYP) as well as the publishing industry in general. And, in celebration of #100, she's graciously agreed to participate in a giveaway! Details are at the end of the post.

    Bio: Chila Woychik is a multi-published author, and the publisher/managing editor at Port Yonder Press, a small, multi-genre, traditional press. She lives with her husband in the lovely state of Iowa.

    Liberty Speidel: Thank you so much, Chila, for joining us today. What prompted you to start Port Yonder Press?
    Chila Woychik: A love of reading & writing, and a too quiet house.  My son had left for college and I was in need of purpose—the result:  a hobby that has since fluctuated between hobby and business.  Right now it’s more of a business, but it’s a job I love, so I don’t really complain too frequently.

    LS: How many imprints does PYP currently have? Are you planning to roll out any more in the foreseeable future?
    CW: Four imprints: one general market (speculative fiction), two Christian (one youth, one adult), and one catch-all for everything else.  I think we have quite enough at this time, with nary another in mind.

    LS: What's the thing people would be most surprised to learn about during the publishing of a book?
    CW: The sheer number of hours and hands involved in the process.  Publishing is laborious, especially if a publisher has more than one book in the works at one time.   A smaller press doesn’t equal a smaller outlay of time.  It still takes us as much or more time than that a larger press to cover all the bases.

    LS: What has surprised you most as you've taken the reins of a small press?
    CW: I’m continually surprised at the almost daily commitment I have to have to keep this barge afloat.  I’m surprised at the learning curve:  I never quite catch up with all there is to learn and do.  And I’m shocked at the difficulty small presses have in marketing their books.

    LS: You've been pretty blunt about expecting excellence from writers of so-called "Christian Fiction". What direction would you like to see this aspect of the publishing world head?
    CW: 1) I’d like to see the phrase “Christian fiction” dematerialize—undergo an implosion, a falling in on itself, due to its inherent lack of heart, soul, mind, and strength. 
    2) I’d like to see people with a Christian worldview dedicate themselves to becoming the best writers on the planet, writing across genres and for all audiences.
    3) I’d like to see followers of Christ begin to work together to develop their skills and marketing tools, and help one another in new and never-before-experienced ways to truly integrate into the entire world of writing, not just the “Christian” writing world.

    LS: How do you define "preachiness" in Christian Fiction and what would you prefer to see instead? Any examples you'd like to share?
    CW: I had actually planned to give an example or two on a blog post about that at one point, but have delayed it due to other projects at hand. 

    I define preachiness as that which would make an unchurched reader uncomfortable in the same way a sex scene might make a churched person uncomfortable.  I see the only real purpose of “Christian Fiction” as being Christians wanting to write for other Christians, and I balk at that.  Sure, we have the right to do so, but the questions I must ask myself are, “Why? Why should I want to do that? Why not write for the larger world in general and have a potentially greater audience and impact?”  But then that would mean I would have to actually know what it’s like “out there,” actually get “out there” and mix with real people, and actually risk getting a little “dirty” as I listen to “their” jokes and swearing and hard luck tales of broken relationships and their resultant despair.  My God.  Why would anyone want to do that?  Maybe so we can love “them”?  What an amazing and utterly foreign concept to most Christians.

    What would I prefer to see?  Real fiction with real characters acting out real scenes in believable ways (and yes, all that can be handled with grace; it shouldn’t have to red flag us with “smut”).  And in that, I’d like to see occasional glimpses of how or why someone would choose Christianity while on a natural search for meaning—a genuine quest for truth that leads here and there before one character comes full circle and realizes Christianity is by far the most peaceful and productive and apologetically viable of all religions.  But there’s the rub:  few Christians nowadays can actually do that.  It’s so much easier to have their character pray a prayer or indulge in a “salvation scene,” neither of which are honest biographies of who Christ really was—they don’t go far enough. 
    But most books can and should be written, I think, without a noticeable Christian element at all, while at the same time, most Christian lives should be lived with a strong Christian element.  The difference is in the living of it vs the reading about it.  The most powerful witness of all is Christians who love unconditionally, lived out in their daily lives.  Quit writing about it and DO IT.

    With the faux-genre of “Christian Fiction” out of the way, writers would be writing for everyone—a marvelous opportunity to let a non-preachy faith integrate into the very essence of one or more characters on the page.

    LS: Many authors want to share their personal views in their writing. In your opinion, is this a good use of their energies? How should they go about doing so without being overly "preachy"?
    CW: Great question.  No, I think it’s a flagrant misuse of their energies.  Just as you’d love to read a fantastic book without the intrusions of a preachy Islam or atheism or Eastern mysticism, or graphic sex scenes, so would others love to read great works by Christian authors without feeling they’re being “evangelized.” It happened in the past with a number of books which have since become “classics,” and it can be done today:  strong stories with strong characters, and no preaching, no salvation scenes, no spiritual “thread” secretly woven throughout, though our society was strongly Christian at that time.  So why didn’t we see more of the “preachiness” back then, though our society was so blatantly Christian?  Why, indeed.

    Throw in a few random “Christian” this and that’s and you might as well include a gospel tract free with each book—those sort of things are little more than cheap Hollywood sales efforts; true Christianity delves much deeper than that, into the very essence of a person’s character, lived out more than spoken.  Writers of the past knew that inherently; they didn’t have to “preach.”  What’s available today as “Christian Fiction” would have shocked and sickened them, I think.

    My suggestion:  get out in the real world among real people and notice how well preachiness flies.  It doesn’t.  Instead, learn what does, then emulate that in your writing.  People hate being preached at; so do I.  I despise it when writers think they can try to sneak “gospel tactics” into their books and then slap the label “Christian Fiction” on it, ostensibly to garner the Imprimatur of American Christian society—viola! Now the book is spiritual, and now both the author and readers are spiritual … God is pleased!  Umm.  I highly doubt that, though God is much more gracious than I am.  I still believe, however, he’d like to see us rise above cheap Christianity cloaked in mediocre writing, and instead strive for the highest quality books available, books that will be read across audiences, and books that are written by, yes, Christians.  Books of depth and beauty.

    LS: How do you blend your job as an editor-in-chief with your role as an author published through your own press?
    CW: How do I justify it, or how do I assure the same quality I demand of other writers?  I justify it by not needing justification.  I work hard at what I do, and am only taking advantage of some of the fruit of my labors.  Other writer / press owners have done the same and if I strive to write as good or better than my own published authors, I feel I’m setting a positive example for all writers.

    I subject my own personal work to at least 2 qualified editors.  With “On Being a Rat,” I used 3 editors (2 not from PYP) and about a dozen readers.  I laid that manuscript out to more scrutiny than anything PYP has done thus far.  If it can be seen in the finished product, I owe much to my tremendous helpers.  Where it has failed, I take full responsibility.

    LS: Which project(s) are you most excited about right now? 
    CW: Just about everything coming up really:  The elven anthology, the Christmas western collection, Mary Stewart’s vampire story and Cindy Smith’s King Arthur story, as well as Janalyn’s fantasy.  Then there’s CathiLyn Dyck’s piece of nonfiction which has me more than a little psyched, and our writing groups starting in July.  I’m sure I’m leaving something out, but not intentionally.  I’m thrilled too about the great authors and manuscripts I hope to work with in the next few years.  It’s a fascinating time to be a part of Port Yonder Press and publishing.  And thank you, Liberty, for the good questions; I really do appreciate it!  I’d love to return sometime.

    Liberty: Thanks again, Chila, for joining Word Wanderings for the day. You've given us great insights and plenty to think about.


    Now, the moment you've been waiting for: the giveaway! Chila and I put our heads together and we're both offering a prize each for one grand prize. From me, you'll receive a $10 gift card (via e-mail) to Amazon.com. And from Chila, you can choose any of the books currently offered on the PYP site, or any that will be released through December 31, 2011 (if you really want to wait, of course.)

    Entry is pretty easy. You have one of two options: become a new follower to Word Wanderings, or leave a comment to this post. If you're a new follower *and* leave a comment, you get two chances! The winner will be selected at random Sunday, June 26th, 2011 after 8 PM Central, and announced Monday, June 27 first thing in the morning. I wish you luck!

    Again, thank you, thank you, thank you to my readers for 2+ years of putting up with me, and the support you've shown as well. I wish I could hug each and every one of you personally.


    I am hearing from several readers through the Port Yonder Press Facebook page that many people are having difficulty posting comments. If you are experiencing difficulty, please message me using the function with specifics so I can attempt to get this corrected. Thanks!

    Until next time,

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    Mystery Writing from the Experts: Martha Grimes

    I got a little behind this week, so I'm late in posting, and derelict in writing. I'll blame it on actively writing the second draft of Cora's Song.

    However, I do have a video for you, this from NYT Bestseller Martha Grimes on how she writes. I have to admit, I've never read her before (that I can recall) but her process sounds remarkably like mine, or at least how I've plotted in the past.



    So, tell me. Do you have a process like Ms. Grimes'? Or are you a full-fledged, outline every single pointer? Somewhere in between?

    Until next time,

    Liberty

    Monday, June 06, 2011

    Take Some Time To Breathe

    This is a part of the monthly ChristianWriters.com blog chain. This month's topic is "Fresh Air."


    "All good writing is like swimming underwater and holding your breath."
    — F. Scott Fitzgerald


    I feel like I just came up for air... again. 

    Last week, I finished some massive edits on Homebody, edits that had me seriously changing one of the storylines. I think (hope, pray) the edits make sense and actually make a stronger story. It's with one of my fellow CWer critters right now. I guess we'll see.

    Photo by MaHidoodi
    Whenever I finish a project, I feel like I've just come up from air after being underwater too long. With Homebody, it's been something where I've been coming back up for air over the last 5 or so years, only to be forced back under again. Then, I escape my captor, grab a breath, then get caught again. Sometimes, other captors grab me, giving Homebody a necessary break, but it's always something. I have to be working on something.

    As much as I love the feeling of being able to say "It's done... for now," I feel restless without a project to work on. When I was younger, I'd just switch hobbies for a while. That's when I usually made something with some yarn and crochet hooks. Now, I feel completely unproductive unless I've got something to write. I sometimes wonder if I'll ever be able to crochet or sew again without feeling guilty about not writing. My craft storage box--where I keep a collection of crochet hooks, patterns, and candle-making supplies--hasn't been touched in well over a year. 

    I've already taken my gasp of breath and dived into the rewrite of my futuristic mystery/sci-fi Cora's Song--which is going to get renamed, to what, I'm not sure. Maybe I'll take suggestions.

    But, I digress.

    As much as I appreciate the ability for some artists to take lengthy breaks between projects, I'm not sure I could ever be one of them. Sure, I'm a sporadic writer right now. It kinda goes with the territory of having a 10-month old and an active preschooler. But, I can see myself being one of those über-productive writers who spend 6 - 8 hours a day writing, and publishing 4 - 6 books a year. I read an article about Nora Roberts a while back. This reflects some of her habits. Totally inspired me.

    Until that happens and the kids are a little older, I'll keep at it, taking a quick burst of fresh air between projects, and diving back into it.

    Today's Question: Do you take time to "breathe" between writing projects? If so, how long do you take?

    Until next time,

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