Saturday, July 25, 2015

literary whiplash

I’m closing in on the final draft of my first official non-fiction book proposal and I have a bad case of literary whiplash. What sounded good to me yesterday sounds awful today. What held me back before actually does the trick now. Back and forth. Up and down. 'Round and 'round I go.

So…this is the overview of my book, Ten Faces of Faith—The Extraordinary Faith of Ordinary People and What We Can Learn from Them:

“Ten Faces of Faith introduces the reader to ten men and women who have endured some of life’s darkest moments—a child’s death, a life-threatening diagnosis, and a tragic accident, among others. Yet, despite all these people have been through, they continue to defend their faith in God’s all-powerful goodness and mercy. They don’t blame Him for their bad luck. They don’t feel as though He has abandoned or betrayed them. Instead, their stories help us reconcile the contradictions between what we have been taught to believe about a kind and compassionate God with the defeats we experience in our own lives.

This book does not attempt to interpret scripture, nor does it rely on scientific theories that argue for or against the existence of God. Instead, the stories in Ten Faces of Faith suggest that we may fail to recognize the hand of God at work in our lives because we may be looking for the wrong thing. 

Ten Faces of Faith explores the extraordinary faith of ordinary people, and how the pain they experienced opened their eyes to God’s presence in their lives.”

If you were an agent who handled Christian non-fiction would you bite? Your comments are welcome.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

don't quit your daydream

This past week I started reading “Writing from the Heart” by Nancy Slonim Aronie for the third time.

This book is intended to encourage and inspire reluctant or disheartened writers to trust themselves, to take the risk of writing from the heart. But I think all of us can benefit from it.

I know the author's words ring true to my experience. My inner critic is always beating up on my inner child, discouraging the poor kid from trying new things, nit-picking every unintentional goof-up, bullying her until she’s ready to give up completely. First, it was the dream of going to med school:
“The competition to get in is fierce.”
“Maybe nursing would be a better choice.”
“They don’t take many women, you know.”

Even now, later in life, I have to turn a deaf ear to all those other voices, the self-appointed experts who claim to have my best interests at heart as they rattle off disparagement:
“Start writing at your age? Really??”
“But you’ve never written a thing in your life.”
“Why would anyone give up a career in medicine? Why now??”

It’s no wonder we get discouraged as children when our creativity, curiosity, and energy levels are at their highest. The problem is that these same voices stalk us into adulthood. They can stop us in our tracks.

Which is why we all need encouragement, not just to write, but to live from the heart. As I read this book again, it occurs to me that we can all benefit from Aronie’s words, especially when we start to think about beginning again, when we still cling to a dream we once abandoned because we were told it was unrealistic, or unproductive, or unattainable.

Maybe you’re thinking about going back to school, or taking up piano. Maybe you’d like to try sky diving or scuba diving. Perhaps you’re drawn to carpentry or improv theater, but something inside you is holding you back.
“It’ll take too long.”
“It costs too much money.”
“I’d just be wasting my time.”

It may just be time to raise your voice. Stand up to that inner critic. Stick up for the child who was bullied out of following his/her heart. Make sure the same thing isn’t happening to you now.

Have a great week!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

the cure for sagging spirits

I did it. I admit it. It was impulsive, and self-indulgent, and expensive, but I registered for yet another writing conference. This one has nothing to do with the techniques of good writing, or how to build your platform, or how to get published. This is one of those inclusive, feel good, empowering workshops that is intended to bolster sagging spirits, and re-animate creative energy among a small group of like-minded souls.

Did I say sagging spirits?

I think I did. It happens to all of us from time to time. It’s the price we pay for loving others, for caring about them, and for dreaming about an uncertain future. It’s the burden of disappointment, frustration, and rejection that drags us down. Sometimes we just need a little “pick-me-up,” or a little something to “settle-me-down.” Or both.  Something to motivate or inspire us. Affirmation. Acceptance. Encouragement.

I have attended a number of excellent motivational and inspirational workshops since I started writing. “The Artist’s Way” with Julia Cameron was my favorite...

 but I also enjoyed “Do You Wish You Could Write?” with Lynda Barry... well as “What Is This, A Spiritual Quest?” with Sue Rumbaugh, and “Mindful Writing,” with Madhu Wangu, Ph.D. I came away from these sessions  ready to “begin again,” impatient with new ideas.

But it has been a while since I indulged myself this way. I haven’t felt the need to be encouraged or energized. That’s how feel every time I sit down to work. I can’t wait to get started in the morning, and I tend to have two or three projects in mind at all times. Writing is the easy part. But life itself?  Sometimes not so much.

So, I’m going off to my favorite place, Omega Institute (

...for five days in mid-October just about the time Mother Nature drapes herself in glorious shades of red and gold. The retreat is titled "Writing from the Heart,"

 and it will be led by Nancy Slonim Aronie, author of the book by the same name.

I’m going for no better reason than to humor myself, to restore what is depleted, and to gather courage for the journey.

What do you do to revive your sinking spirits? What are you waiting for?
“Good writing is not about good grammar.
Good writing is about Truth.”
~Nancy Slonim Aronie~
Last week I was grandson sitting...


...this week I'm grand-dog sitting:

although I'm not sure the word "sitting" actually applies here...

Have a great week!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

how to banish boredom for good

Stephen King put it nicely:

There's just one problem with that: making enough time for both reading and writing. Plus work (unless you're independently wealthy and don't have to earn a living, or, like me, you're lucky enough to be retired). Plus making time for family and friends. Plus keeping up with the house and yard work, and making time to exercise on a regular basis. Plus, plus, plus...

And, I don't know about you, but I usually have more than one writing project underway at a time, too. I'll work on a book-length manuscript, and then a start a short story or an essay to play with when my brain turns to mush. Right now I'm revising the book proposal for Ten Faces of Faith, while I play with an idea for a flash fiction piece. I journal daily. Plus, I write this blog every week. It all takes time.

Likewise, I find myself reading several books at a time. If one is deep enough to require concentration, I'll pick up something light or entertaining as a diversion. Right now I have three books underway:

I ordered the big, heavy book on the bottom of the pile after hearing Diane Rehm interview the author on NPR a couple of weeks ago. I thought it would be the perfect thing to read on my trip to Dallas--the neurophysiology of meditation and it's role in cultivating compassion. I didn't notice the page count when I ordered it, so it surprised me that it weighed in at 693 pages, much too heavy to lug around four different airports! Instead I packed up Anna Quindlen's Loud and Clear, a collection of engaging and humorous 2-3 page essays on life. The Workaholics book? Well, that's personal...

I also have a pile of books in my to-be-read pile, all of them clamoring for my attention:

And then there are a few books I want to re-read:

There should never be a dull moment in the life of a writer. If we make time for all we need to get done in a day, all we want to accomplish, and all we wish we had time for, like this "little guy"...


...the word "boredom" will never be a part of our vocabulary.

What's a person to do??
"Nothing you do for children
is ever wasted."
~Garrison Keillor~
Have a great week!