The Valley of Shadows

One good thing about journaling is that I can go back and see how far I have come. The bad thing is realizing I’m still wrestling with the same fear, just different circumstances. What if I fail? What if I succeed? Where am I going? Why haven’t I gotten there yet? What if everyone realizes I’m a big fraud? Am I a big fraud?

Don’t worry, my senses come back just about the time I need a tranquilizer. I take a deep breath and God reminds me how much I have succeeded even amongst my fear. It’s probably why the 23rd Psalms is one of my favorite passages. *Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.*

I don’t know if David was without fear, or if he just didn’t let fear stop him from getting things done. I am the latter. I am terrified with every new decision, but I still find myself taking that step of faith in whatever I do.

There have been bad times. But, I don’t regret them anymore, because I didn’t stay there. They didn’t keep me down. I must remember this when I face a new challenge and wonder what on earth I’ve gotten myself into.

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New Year’s Resolutions 2017

new-years-resolution

 

I love New Year resolutions. You can set all sorts of goals—big or small, outrageous or conservative, anything you want. The only pressure involved is the pressure you put on yourself.

 

A quick google search shows the top 10 New Year’s resolutions are as follows:

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Getting Organized
  3. Spend Less, Save More
  4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
  5. Staying Fit and Healthy
  6. Learn Something Exciting
  7. Quit Smoking
  8. Help Others in Their Dreams
  9. Fall in Love
  10. Spend More Time with Family

If you throw in: Read more books and write every day, you get the gist of my own list.

Another quick google search shows that only about 8% of the people who make New Year’s resolutions keep them. Although that is not surprising, it also doesn’t deter me from setting them. There is something empowering about the tradition of setting a new goal on the first day of a brand-new year.

A new beginning. A fresh start. A do-over.

I can’t help myself. I must set the bar just out of reach so I have something to strive for.

What is your New Year’s resolution?

Changing my name

I’m changing the name of my blog. It’s something I have been contemplating for a while and decided it was time to embrace.

I am shy. I am insecure. I deal with low self esteem. I am an over thinker. I am high maintenance. I am a perfectionist. 

I am a late bloomer.

I’ve been meaning to get back to my blog for a while. I even have a list of blog ideas, but I never seem to find the time. It may be another six months before I blog again, but I hope not. That’s not the plan anyway.

Ah, the plan. What was that again? Oh, that’s right. Finish my novel and get it published. How’s it going? Well, I keep saying I’m on the last draft, but then I keep finding more to fix.

Perfectionist. 

Here’s what I know about being a perfectionist. It keeps me from finishing things because they just aren’t right yet. Almost, but not yet.

Yes. I know it’s time to move on. Yes. I have one more critique to do. Yes. I will have corrections from that critique.

BUT… It’s also time to…Work on my query letter. Work on the synopsis. Make a list of agents I want to query.

It’s time to bloom.

 

 

 

When you can’t turn it OFF

One of the downfalls of being a writer is how difficult it is to read a book or watch a movie just for pleasure. The more I write, edit, rewrite, and edit again, the harder it is to turn it “off.” I recently saw the movie Steele Magnolias. After all this time, I still remembered every line, all the happiness and the sadness. Then in the iconic scene when Julia Roberts suffered from a diabetic attack, the other characters explained what was happening—her blood sugar was too high, and she needed orange juice to bring it down…

I thought—WHAAAAT?

My youngest son has type I diabetes. I am familiar with all the highs and lows, AND how to handle them. While Steele Magnolias is a fantastic movie and deserves all the awards it won, this was a serious mistake. If they had only called it a blood sugar “crash,” everything would have been fine. Instead, their error took me out of the story—it was no longer believable.

You can call it “artistic license” and most people would agree. When I first started writing, I fudged the facts to make a scene work, but it never did. I decided I’d rather strive to keep my writing authentic. I want people to enjoy my stories, instead of putting them down because I attacked a castle the wrong way or used the word “pursed” to many times.

New read #1 for 2016: The Uninvited by Cat Winters

UninvitedblurbIvy Rowan crawls out of her sickbed, weakened by the Spanish flu, to discover her father and youngest brother have brutally murdered a German immigrant. She assumes their drunken rage stems from the recent death of her other brother, who lost his life fighting in the war (WWI). Though she hasn’t fully recovered from the flu, she leaves her mother behind and flees the house. There is a brief mention of a “gift” she and her mother share of seeing “uninvited” guests, ghosts of the dearly departed who only appear when someone has died.

Ivy finds herself immersed in a sick and dying world, full of disease and fear. The authorities gloss over the immigrant’s death as a random act of violence committed by passing vagrants. Most of the German and other immigrants are gone, scared off or accused and arrested for being anti-American. Ivy enters into a relationship with Daniel, the brother of the murdered man. She endures hateful leers from an old family friend that actually calls her a whore at one point. She risks the accusation of treason, but can’t stop herself from being with Daniel. Ivy starts helping two Red Cross volunteers, an immigrant/war widow and a young black girl. They take an ambulance to the south side in the middle of the night helping the sick the hospital won’t, and people are getting better.

I didn’t know much about the Spanish flu before reading this book. I have heard of it, just didn’t realize the impact it had across the world. When Ivy and many other people were recovering from the flu, I wasn’t convinced. It was too good to be true. Writing 101: it must be believable, no matter what the story is. I was so confused that I looked up the Spanish flu and found how it was unique in that it attacked the young healthy adult population more than children and elderly.

I also wondered where all the “uninvited” guests were. It’s the title of the book after all. Ivy saw “departed” people here and there, but no one died because of it.

It didn’t hit me until one scene where Ivy and Daniel drank too much and ransacked Daniel’s home. As they lay in bed, sleeping it off, she hears someone walking down the hall, exclaiming about the mess, even cleaning up a bit. Daniel never stirs. The person even comes into the room and moves things around. Ivy is petrified, but the stranger never sees her laying in the bed with Daniel. My first thought was, Daniel is the one that died… wait, but he and she had… this is weird. Ivy believes she saw Daniel’s dead brother, but now I think Daniel is the one who died and wonder what kind of book am I reading that people have relations with ghosts…

Ivy runs back home, begging her mother for information. The Spanish flu is so vast that the veil between the living and the dead is shredded. Her mother admits that her father murdered an innocent man because of Ivy, not her brother. Ivy died from the Spanish flu. So little was known about the epidemic that it was easy to blame the closest enemy at hand: German immigrants. No matter what kind of bastard her father was, and he was a bastard, he had loved his daughter and her death was too much for him to take.

So wait… if Ivy died from it, than how did she interact with everyone she met? Exactly. They were all dead too. All uninvited guest.

Impressed can’t even begin to describe how I felt about this twist. Cat Winters designed her misdirection so well, that when all the pieces fell into place, I felt as if I should have known it from the beginning, but was glad I didn’t. What an amazing journey.

Visit Cat Winters website for more

Goals vs. Resolutions

I recently read some place that it’s better to make GOALS instead of New Year’s RESOLUTIONS. For some reason I like the sound of “Goals” better than “Resolutions”, because like most people, I never keep my resolutions longer than the first month–if I’m lucky. A goal though, can be set any time, any where, any way, shape, or form.

I confess I can jump off the deep end faster than no body’s business, but that’s the fun part of making goals. I love lists. I don’t always complete my lists, but I love making them.

I want this year to be different. Only I can make sure that it happens, but still, there is an accountability I’m looking for, so I’m putting it out there for all the world (or at least the handful of people that read my blog) can see.

I recently asked a friend where she finds all of her writing challenges. She seems to have a new one every month. To my surprise she said she makes them up to give her something to strive for. Talk about a smack to the forehead! Way to think outside of the box! Sometimes I have to really work at that. I claim some level of creativity, or I wouldn’t be writing, but more times than not, I find myself safe and sound in my little corner of the world–in my comfort zone–and out of step with creative juices flowing around me.

Well, I’m here to say I’m shaking off the dust from my laptop and getting back into the saddle!

Goals! I can set goals! I have 4 so far:

Goal #1: Read at least 1 new book a month. I’m a terrible reader. It’s hard to sit still long enough to finish a book. If I don’t make it to 12, I will at least strive for 6. I like reading the same books over and over again. So, as of January, I’m going to attempt to finish a new book. My first choice is: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kids. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Goal #2: Write something new EVERYDAY. I’m not sure how long I should make this goal, so I’m going to start with 2 weeks–14 days. This does not include Facebook or Twitter posts, but it can be anything written down on paper, in my journal, or even a blog post {wink wink}.

Goals #3 and #4 will kind of go hand in hand with Goal #2, but these are challenges I can track on Twitter, so I will list them.

Goal #3: 30 Poems in 30 Days — I just like the sound of that. I’ve written my first “draft” tonight. It’s not really a poem yet, but it’s something that’s been on my mind the last few days and it felt good to get it on paper.

Goal #4: Blog at least once a month. This won’t be as hard as reading a new book each month, but I have such a hard time with discipline I think this is a reasonable goal that can be stretched. I plan on blogging more than once a month, but will set the bar no farther up…for now.

So there you have it. Now it’s your turn to hold me accountable! (Believe me, I need all the help I can get!)