Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Turning Butterflies into Eagles: Soaring Through Your Pitch

It's nerve racking. Frightening. Downright terrorizing. The pitch. Those precious few words you need to spew out the limited number of minutes you have with an editor or agent. Suddenly, your mouth turns to desert and your tongue drags the floor. What's a writer to do?

Pitching is not a natural activity for the majority of writers. You've registered for ACFW. You've requested meetings with all the top agents and editors in the business. You know your have a solid manuscript. So what's the problem? Your pitch. It's too long. Too short. Hoaky. In the wrong language.

This year at ACFW, Susan May Warren and My Book Therapy provide the solution to the tongue twisting, mouth drying, shiver-me-timbers fear of pitching. Join us at the MBT Polish and Pitch Workshop. It will be the day before ACFW kicks off so you will not miss a moment of the conference. And, you'll go into those coveted meetings with confidence and a solid, polished pitch.

Click here for more information and to register for the Polish and Pitch Workshop.

See you at the conference!

Friday, July 29, 2011

New Day, New Adventures!

I haven't slept very much all week. No, I'm not worried, tired or ill. And normally I sleep like a rock. But I've been so excited about my new adventures, ideas rapid fire through my mind, keeping sleep at bay.

I just completed writing two books that, Lord willing, will publish in the fall. I'm also the Member Care Coach for My Book Therapy. We're headed to greater heights in providing the ultimate in author help and encouragement. Susan May Warren and our team of dedicated experts are gearing up to take authors to a whole new level.

Need encouragement as a writer? Head over to
Remember, your dream is too important to remain unlived.

Here's to your writing,

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chance Meeting, Ties that Bind

In October 2009, I flew for the first time in my life to Minnesota. I didn't know what to expect. After all, I'd never been that far north. Nor had I gone to a writer's retreat. Oh, I knew what they did at those gatherings. They took your baby and crucified it. Or so I heard.

I assembled with a dozen perfect strangers, none of which looked or acted like me. Perhaps I'd made a mistake. I still had time to escape. The conference room doors were still open. I could make it to my car if I ran really fast.

Two days later, I lamented the fact that we were dispersing and going back to the four corners of the country. We became the greatest of friends. We laughed... we cried... we stayed up late in our pajamas working on crafting our story... and we PONDERED all things wonderful. And so the famous Ponderers were formed.

Since that day, we have written 648 pages of messages to each other. We celebrate victories. We support each other during the rough times. We pray for each other. And when something good happens, we all start HaPpY DaNgInG. We created our own choreography from a typo!

The greatest support team I've ever had are my precious My Book Therapy Ponderers. The chance meeting at the MBT StoryCrafters retreat tied a knot that nothing cannot be broken. Our hearts are knitted together with a 12 strand chord. We are friends and sisters. We are the Ponderers. Here's to you my precious friends!

Who are your supporters you turn to during your writing career? Have you told them recently how much you appreciate them?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Chopping Overwhelm Down to Size

Almost everyone I talk to is filled to overflow with "things"... things to do... places to go... people to see... And that doesn't even include the events for the kids. One friend had to purchase a Blackberry just to keep up with all the ball practices, ballet recitals, and swim meets her children are involved in.

Gone are the lazy summer days of my childhood where we played pick up baseball in the cornfields and laid in the grass watching the clouds go by. No, most kids don't even notice those white puffy things against the deep blue backdrop.

But it doesn't have to be that way. Makers of electronics would like to make us believe that's the case. Get this gizmo. Upgrade to this new netbook's notepad. Geez...

One of my mentors for decades is John Maxwell. He lives by the Rule of Fives. He decided what's most important to him and has five daily activies he completes before he does anything else. The truth is, if he keeps plucking away at his five activities each and every day, he will reach his goal.

As we work on our novels- or really anything else that is important to us- we should determine what things we could and should do every day and commit to accomplishing those five things... EVERY day. Holidays... birthdays... anniversaries... rainy Mondays... you get the point.

You owe it to yourself and to the literary public to commit to and follow the Rule of Fives.

What five things could you do that will get you where you want to be? Leave them in a comment. I'd love to see them.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Forward Motion

I just completed writing two books. I planned them out and worked through each of the chapters methodically. Both were non-fiction books so I didn’t have those pesty protagonists shouting to write them a different way. It was just me, my topic and my computer.

I thought that when I finished those two books, my mind would wander to unread novels I’d shelved, the stack of unread magazines in the corner or to all those movies I recorded while I dedicated my time to putting those words on the page.

Tomorrow is the weekend and rather than thinking of riding my bike or soaking in the rays, I’m plotting my novel. My mind is engaged in planning, outlining and developing deep emotional characters. I’m on a roll and I’m afraid to stop. What's more, I don't want to!

I realized today that I have momentum. I learned in business that when you have momentum, that is absolutely the WRONG time to stop and take a rest. That’s when you should put the pedal to the metal and pour on the power. So I’m working on my new novel.

For the two non-fiction books, I created my own way of keeping things organized. For my novel, I use two resources that make my job easier and keeps everything—yes EVERYTHING—in order. Those are:

Book Buddy by Susan May Warren

This book will flesh out your plot and characters. I will NEVER write a novel without Dakota (that’s what I named my Book Buddy. It’s required! Ok, not really but it sure is fun!). If you never spend another dime on anything else pertaining to your goal to be a novelist, this is a MUST HAVE!

Write it Now Software

I’ve used many different programs and like them very much. Write it Now just lays out everything I need in a format on the same wavelength as my brain.

I do recommend this program, but only if it works for you. There are other good programs that may work better for you. Bottom line, you need to do what works best for you and your personal organization of the novel in you.

These two resources have simplified my author’s life beyond measure. Are you working on a novel? What do you use to organize your thoughts? Share them here. Let's help each other. We're all in this together!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


It’s over. Done with. Finished. I’ve reached the end. Well, at least my first draft of my new non-fiction motivational book is complete. Last weekend I finally typed “The End” at the conclusion of the first draft. What a feeling of accomplishment.

I’m sure there will be edits, re-writes and times when I want to pull my hair out but I feel like I can do just about anything right now. True confession: It’s not easy for me to stick with something as long as a book. I get bored very easily and start looking for the next new adventure. Since this book will help motivate people, I thought of them and saw it through to conclusion. I had to chop the book into bite size components that I convinced myself were complete manuscripts. Even I could maintain concentration for a 3,000 word book. 

I wanted to scream many times. Oh wait, I DID scream many times. And cried when I sat staring at the blank computer screen wondering if words would ever come. I discovered that ice cream helps me think. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. And I talk to myself so much, I’ve now begun answering as well. I’m still trying to develop a better way to keep up with the many moving parts to the manuscript. Umm, is that the first chapter of the second draft or the second chapter of the first draft?

I learned a lot from my experience, mostly about me, my shortcomings and strengths. I was reminded that writing is a lonely, yet rewarding venture. I discovered I write better in public, like the Barnes and Noble CafĂ© than at home where there is laundry, food and a big flat screen TV. I also found out I can lay on the floor with my feet up on the wall and still type… if I attach my Netbook to my legs with a bungee cord (no, you should not ask).

It truly was bitter sweet typing those seemingly illusive words at the end of a completed manuscript. It had been a part of my life for months. We went everywhere together. My partner even woke me up in the middle of the night to share hair brained ideas. Yeah, I’m gonna miss him…

What about you? What challenges do you face with writing? Post it here. I’d love to hear from you.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Proud to be an American!

Today our nation celebrates its birthday. Centuries ago, men and women just like us wanted so desperately to live in the freedom which they believed was the right of all.

They fought, sacrificed, and gave their lives. We know of some of those heroes. They made the history books. The "Give me liberty or Give me Death" of Patrick Henry. The "The Redcoats are Coming" by Paul Revere. The flag stitching of Betsy Ross.

But what about John, Anthony, Mary and Victoria? Bo, Bubba and Jimmie? They are the unnamed souls who gave their lives so you and I...people they would never know... could write blogs on Independence Day in 2011.

I thank God for America. I'm proud to be an American. And I would die to maintain our freedom. Hooray for the Red, White and Blue. Hail to the heroes who died on the battlefields both here and abroad.

I grew up feeling the very heartbeat of America. It was a country where we pledged allegiance to the flag and stood for the National Anthem. Some would like to convince us that America is gone. But we watched together on 9/11 when our great nation fell under enemy fire. We saw the firefighters and police officers who, in the midst of the rubble, raised Old Glory in patriotic defiance to the terrorists who flew airplanes into our sacred land. And as the dusty American Flag flew above the pieces of towers that now served as tombs, it reminded us that we will rise above any act of tyranny, any attempt to crush our spirit, and every weapon that is formed against us.

The heartbeat of America is alive and well. I thank God I'm an American. My blood runs red, my devotion is true blue and my hope for America is pure white. To all the soldiers on the battlefield right now fighting

for my freedom, I salute you. For those who paid the ultimate price to ensure my nation is free, I memorialize you. For those who cannot see what an incredible nation we celebrate today, I pray for you.

America, America, God shed His grace on thee; and crown thy good with brotherhood; from sea to shining sea.

Happy Birthday America!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Feeling the Pressure?

It seems that everyone I talk to lately is under a lot of pressure. And those who aren't seem to have those little nuisances in life gnawing at them. You know, like you didn't flip your car on the interstate. Thank God for that. But the security officer stopped you as you went through the entrance...just long enough for the gate to scrape down the whole side of your car.

Sometimes, particularly in our very busy lives, the little things mount up and blow the top right off the pressure cooker. It's enough to make us crazy. Oh, and then we're supposed to sit down at the blank screen and pound out all manner of perfect prose. You know, there IS a reason they call that little flashing character a CURSE-er.

So what's a weiry writer to do? Well, you could go to the mall, sit on a bench and stick your tongue out at everyone who passes. That usually works for me but if that's not your style, you need some other mechanism to let it out.

I recommend minute vacations. You know, those moments where you go to an exotic island in the south pacific and lay in the cool breeze with your toes sunk in sand? Just stop... step away from the computer... and daydream. Go to your favorite location with only those who won't make you crazy. Erect a sign in your mental image that says, "No Naggers Allowed!"

Soak it in. Bask in the peace of the one place on earth Aunt Agnes won't think to look. It'll make you smile when you sign the ticket and the police officer will wonder what you're really up to. :-)

What about you? Feeling the pressure? Type out your gripe in a comment and you will be instantly cured. Ok, not really but I'd like to hear from you anyway.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dealing With Discouragement

I know writers sometimes get overwhelmed while juggling life and pounding out prose. And things do happen that pull us away from our creativity. That's called life and the only alternative to that will suddenly and permanently end your writing career altogether.

That being said,I've noticed recently that writers- specifically Christian authors- are being hit with discouragement. I have numerous author friends and colleagues and I can honestly say not one of them is free right now from this ball and chain.

So what is a writer to do? How do we fight against that negative emotion when it wraps its tentacles around us and pulls us down into the pit of despair? Most of the discouragement we experience is a direct result of being overwhelmed. The good news is that Overwhelm is entirely treatable!

When life happens in such rapid succession it's overwhelming, it's important to:

1) GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK! Take time to regroup. You may not be able to fly to the Swiss Alps for two weeks. Wouldn't that be lovely? You can take a day, an hour, or a few moments to exclude all outside distractions and just spend the time on Y.O.U. Take a hot bath. Go for a walk. Get an ice cream cone. Something that will recharge you.

2) LIGHTEN UP! You can't do it all. Nor can you be all things to all people all the time. So don't hold yourself to it. We have so many things tugging at us, we rarely feel like we do any of them justice. Do the best you can in every circumstance but don't expect any more of yourself than that. It just won't happen and is utterly unfair to you.

3) SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS: You could have 127 items on your daily "to do" list. Wow! That's ambitious and... ummm... CRAZY! It's great to have a list. It's one of the greatest tools to keep you on task. You will be productive by working toward accomplishing each and every one of those tasks, but not all in the same day. Prioritize and make it a point to finish the most pressing ones, and give yourself permission to do the rest tomorrow... or next week... or...

The bottom line is that, in your overwhelmingly busy life when you just can't seem to get ahead in the game, you have to consciously do things to avoid being overwhelmed. If you can master that, you'll be able to combat discouragement.

What steps can you take today that will build in those safeguards in your life? Leave a comment here and help others. Implement the steps and you'll help yourself.

For more ideas on how to organize your day, pick up this book:

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The End

I've been absent from my blog for a month because I've been writing a new non-fiction book. Today, while sitting in my Lay-Z-Boy surrounded by my notes, I put the finishing touches on the first draft and typed The End on "Dare to Dream".

What a joy it is to finish a literary work. Sure, I'll need to go back and do rewrites but the first draft is finished! It is a wonderful feeling. I'm excited about the next step and anxious to see the finished product.

Thank you all for your patience and support during my absence. I appreciate you more than you know.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Author and friend Lisa Jordan celebrated her very first book contract this week. She pulled out her pen and signed her way to a whole new world. Lisa also sat down with me to answer some burning questions I had about her journey over the rainbow:

Me: What compelled you to start writing a decade ago?

Lisa: I've been writing since I was sixteen, but, of course, family came first. When my boys were very young, they needed me more. As they grew older, the voices in my head wouldn't hush. We had gotten a new computer, hooked up to the Internet, and then I searched for writing groups. I found one and liked it, but it didn't quite meet my needs. Writing has been a dream for so many years that I couldn't not write.

Me: You mentioned on your blog that you made many "new writer" mistakes. Can you give us an idea what some of those mistakes were?

Lisa: Oh, goodness. I'm not sure if there's enough space--head hopping, telling, naming the emotion, overuse of adverbs, opening with descriptions of weather.

Me: What has helped you the most to hone your craft?

Lisa: In 2005, I found ACFW online and joined. I attended the conference in September and met Susan May Warren. I had discovered her books a couple of years before meeting her and loved them. I was like a tween at a Justin Beiber concert when I met her. That meeting changed my life. We developed a friendship over the years. A couple of years ago, I became involved in My Book Therapy, Susie's book therapy site. Being mentored by Susie and Rachel Hauck helped me to take my writing to a new level. Their workshops forced me to dig deeper into my characters. In turn, I learned what elements are necessary to write a salable novel.

Me: Writing is a very tough endeavor. How were you able to stick with it for ten years?

Lisa: I wanted it badly enough. I did take off some time to earn my degree in early childhood education. God placed this desire in my heart over twenty-five years ago. I needed to be faithful and obedient to His calling. Having friends and family who believed in me, even when I didn't believe in myself, helped me to stay focused when discouragement kept me down.

Me: What advice can you give new authors as they start out?

Lisa: My advice would be not to rush the writing process. Take time to savor those nuggets of wisdom from writing books, workbooks, retreats, etc. Each step has it's own blessing. Cherish those.

Also, believe in yourself and God's plan for your life. Writing is hard. It doesn't get easier with publication. You need to learn to find your balance, but keep your priorities straight.

Me: What writing books would you recommend?

Lisa: My Bible--where else will you find such perfect spiritual truth?? And then ost definitely, Susan May Warren's From the Inside Out and Deep and Wide. James Scott Bell's Plot and Structure, Alice Orr's No More Rejections, GMC: Goal, Motivation, Conflict by Debra Dixon, and a baby names book ... yes, seriously!

Love Inspired will debut Lisa's first novel,Lakeside Reunion in November of this year! What her whole story of her journey over the rainbow? Check out her website: . Truly, it is a story of dreams come true!

Congratulations Lisa!

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Conspiracy of My Mind

Last night I worked with a friend online getting used to Skype. You know, that program that allows you to instant message and make phone calls using the internet. Skype was invented by two Swedish techno-brainiacs. Knowing this, I told my friend I really didn't like to use the program because it was un-American.

Suddenly, out of absolutely nowhere, my imagination began to conjure up all sorts of evil plans to take over my mind. Cryptic subliminal messages told me to kill my dog and steal the money out of the red kettles at Christmas. A computer cyborg jumped out of my monitor and sent me to the remote planet of Skyperia. I was sentenced to life in techno-prison.

My wise friend calmly typed, "please step away from the Skype." Clearly, my wild, uncontrollable imagination was flexing her muscles! I mean, I created a new planet, a whole new civilization, and a secret conspiracy to completely control the phone communications of the entire world...all in five sentences! Not bad, huh?

Know what I learned? There's a story in EVERYTHING! Even a weird name. There was an entire mystery or thriller there, but don't tell the Skypers. They'll sneak into my work in progress in the middle of the night,kill the hero and write the villain to reign victorious over good. He'll take over the world!

Oops... there I go again. I soooo love being a writer. But I really must be kind to my readers. So, to spare you, the Masters of Skyperia have issued a subliminal command for me to type: The End.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


People ask me how I’m able to be so confident. When they do, I always want to turn around to see who’s standing behind me. Surely, they don’t mean me. Some say I’m bold as a lion. I’ll stand down any foe. That much could be true. I would rather fall for what’s right than to stand for what’s wrong.

But Confident? If they only knew the wrestling matches that go on inside my mind. It reminds me of when I was a kid. Ok… a really young kid, for the record. When I took my bath I’d have wars between my left and right hands. They’d fight each other to the death. My right hand always won. Always.

I wish my confidence always won the battle of my inhibitions today. Sometimes it does. Other times I feel like I’m totally incapable of writing anything of value to anyone. That makes me feel so…. Umm… left-handed.

When I sit down at the computer to write, sometimes poetic words gush out like a waterfall. Other days, the only one who would be proud of what I write is my first grade teacher, Miss Beasley. But I’m a writer nonetheless. I’ve learned to ride those waves of confidence followed immediately by questioning why I ever thought I could string meaningful words together. It’s all required to be a writer. The ups and down. The ins and outs. The confidence and the utter lack of it.

I’ve also learned to capture the emotion of it all. My characters experience the same inner struggles as I do. Why not capitalize on my agony, right? If you are questioning your ability as a writer, do what I do. Have a fist fight in the bathtub. Oh wait. That’s not it.

Ride out the wave. Tell yourself you are a writer. Whether the words come out good or bad doesn’t change that. You breathe. Therefore, you write. Simple isn’t it? And a lot less messy than wars in the bathtub! 

Monday, February 7, 2011

When You Least Expect It!

A week ago I was out riding my bicycle. It was a picture perfect day in Central Florida. Bright sunshine, warm temperatures and not a cloud in the sky. I'd had a frustrating week and needed to clear my head.

When I turned and headed back toward home, I rolled through an intersection. I had the green light and the right of way. Sometimes that doesn't mean anything. This was one of those times. Suddenly, an 83 year old woman ran the red light and came right into my path. I had no time to react and no distance with which to stop.

So, I hit her...sort of. Without even thinking, I turned left and shifted my weight to the right. I leaned into her car and went in the same direction, connected to her until she came to a stop. It was a very frightening experience that could have ended in disaster. I could dwell on that. Just the thought of broken bones, rode rash and hospital visits makes me cringe.

The same week that happened, I received an invitation to write a new book to encourage new writers. Just like the Toyota Camry that suddenly appeared right in front of me, that came out of nowhere as well. Both were completely unexpected. Both were life changing. Each happened in an instant.

I realized there is just as much chance something wonderful will jump right up in front of us and change our lives. When we least expect it, good things happen. Dreams come true. Prayers are answered.

I learned to never, never, never give up. When I least expect it, something great will happen to change my life forever! Like my life being spared. Or a book contract. Know what? It's exactly the same with you.

Don't give up hope. Never! One day, you'll be glad you didn't.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Take Time

I'm grateful to have grown up in a slower generation. On hot summer days we'd lie in the tall grass, watch the puffy clouds roll by and dream up all sorts of adventures. We'd sit on the porch at dusk and shell peas and listen to stories of days gone by.

Today there are so many things vying for our attention. Electronic gizmos. Blogs. Netflix. Facebook. I even know someone who carries not one, but two Blackberries. Really? We drive to work with the traffic if we wouldn't have known we were in a traffic jam without the radio. We text through lunch and call our friends on the way home. We eat by television and go to sleep by Mp3.

Each moment of every day is filled with... well, stuff. Loud, distracting, snippets that we can neither repeat nor understand. Things that are utterly unuseful to us and eternally intrusive into our thoughts.

As writers we should... no, we absolutely MUST take the time to reflect... in silence... you know, like, alone with our own thoughts? No music. No TV. No talk radio. Just us and our inner voice, who in my case is feeling a bit rejected right now.

It's been proven that some of the most creative thoughts pop into our heads when we're not thinking. Or at least when we aren't concentrating, brainstorming, multitasking and tweeting our genius out to the world in 140 characters or less.


Take time to just let your thoughts wander. You and your readers will be astonished at where your random thoughts will take you. My bet is it will take us all to a much better place. I believe that call that Paradise!

Friday, January 21, 2011

It was Only a Dream!

Sometimes I work late hours sitting in front of the computer, creating all manner of evil against my protagonist. That means the next morning, my horribly intrusive alarm clock doesn’t punch me in the nose to abruptly force me into consciousness. Since I slept in this morning, I had a car accident. Yep. A carload of kids pulled out right in front of me and, try as I may, I could not avoid hitting them. They jumped out to survey the damage and thought the whole thing was hysterically funny. They even laughed when I pulled out my cell phone to dial 911. Really?

Fortunately, moments later I woke up to discover it was only a dream. Even though there was not a shred of reality to my “Morning-mare”, I still felt the emotion of it. Now wide awake I could look at things rationally but the emotion was still there, just as if I’d slammed into those kids with my car.

The fear that I’d injured them had quickly turned to anger when they bounded out of the car as if the whole thing was a joke. I sensed dread that my insurance rates would spike. Though the whole incident was only a figment of my slumbering imagination, as far as my body was concerned, it absolutely happened!

As writers,we face this same thing every day. That’s right, I’m not the only one who conjures up weird and wacky reactions to things that really didn’t happen. You have a dream to be that best-selling novelist.Sometimes the dreams turn to nightmares because you imagine the horrors of trying to achieve. Monsters come out of the closets. Your plans end in ruin. They crash and burn.

The way I overcame my car accident this morning was to wake up. That’s right. I opened my eyes, looked around and realized I was in my nice, comfortable bed rather than the side of the road with a crumpled up car. Once I could see the reality of it all, my angst disappeared.

When you're having that bad dream, just wake up, open your eyes and see the reality of your life right now. Reality is you are a writer, diligently studying your craft to earn that book contract. Reality is you have taken a huge, if not heroic step toward your future. What's more, you continue to do that each time you sit at the computer to type...even a single word.

Studies have shown that the imagination can create a far worse depiction of the events in life than is even possible. That happened with me this morning. It also happens to writers every day. After all, we do have vivid imaginations. But when the dream turns into a night or day-mare, wake up, open your eyes and see the new reality you have built for yourself. It’s what we do. We’re writers!

Monday, January 17, 2011

For Everything a Season

I watch the news as it reports most of the country being paralyzed by snow. Though I live on a lake in Central Florida and normally am surrounded by great blue herons and white ibis, I have also experienced the effects of an abnormally cold winter.

Today is a dreary day. The bright Florida winter sun is hidden by gray clouds. The children who normally play at the lake have opted to stay indoors. Dog owners hurry their furry friends to complete their "business" so they can return to the warmth of their caves. I open my windows to take in the crisp air, all too aware that in a few short weeks, the only cool air I'll get is from the air conditioner.

I'm comforted to know this is but a season. Like all other seasons-even long ones- this, too, shall pass. The time has not gone to waste. The climate was not lost on me. I had no trouble today hibernating in my house, sitting down at my computer and creating prose. The sunshine did not lure me to the outdoors, nor did the laughter of children beg me to join them at play.

No, today I sit with keyboard in hand and create all manner of romantic suspense for my readers of tomorrow. I'm grateful for this day, grayness and all. God knows best how to create the perfect day in which to work. I look through the grayness and know the seeds that are planted in this season of gray will soon bloom into fragrant prose!

Friday, January 14, 2011

What Dreams May Come

Twenty-five years ago in a small town, a young lady birthed a dream. She vowed that one day she would see her own novel in bookstores. Stories, ideas, creativity flowed as visions of publication were recorded in her heart.

Years went by without Barnes and Noble calling for a book signing, and Oprah didn't choose her manuscript for her Book of the Month club. Publishing companies rejected her work.

Yet she kept the dream alive. She worked hard at developing her skill. She attended writers workshops and registered for author's retreats. She read author's blogs and books on how to write a breakout novel, and hung on the coat tails of those who were already published.

And she wrote. And wrote. And rewrote. She edited. Had others critique. Wrote some more.

Thousands of times she could have thrown in the towel. She'd already gone farther than most at living her dream. You know... that impossible, always illusive dream. Yet the flame burned ever hotter inside her. And the story cried within her to be shared with others. She continued to be faithful to her dream.

Decades after the seed was planted in her heart, years after her first rejection letter littered her mailbox, her manuscript was accepted by a major publishing company. Her diligence, tenacity and refusal to abandon the dream will be evident in her smile as she autograph's that novel for you.

We all will do well to follow in her dream... BIG... and never, never never abandon the dream. If you dream it, and remain true to it, your dream will come.

Thanks friend for showing me the way. You are my hero! Because of you, today I dare to dream!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Roses in December

"God created memory that we might have roses in December"
Italo Svevo

Don't worry. I do realize it's January but there is such wisdom in that quote. All those thoughts of hot steamy summers with flowers blooming reminds me that winter is only temporary.

Along the eastern coast in Central Florida lies a beautiful state park. Washington Oaks Gardens gently boasts a quiet, natural setting in the salt marsh. Great blue herons, white ibis, manatees, and the occasional bald eagle welcome visitors into their living room. At a perfect moment, you could watch the sun set over the marsh at the same time you behold the moon rising over the Atlantic Ocean.

One of the short trails spills out into a beautiful rose garden. Every type and color of the flower can be found in this horticultural miracle. Unless the garden has been damaged by a rare cold November, hikers will actually see roses in December. Red, yellow, pink, orange, white. Large, small, fully open, still in bulbs. It truly is an amazing spectacle.

One December I drove up to the park just to see the roses. To my utter shock, there were none. Not a single bud on any of the bushes. It looked like a graveyard for dead flowers. Sadness rushed from the well of my soul and erupted, spilling tears down my cheeks to the dry dirt below.

I remembered how plush the flowers were the last time I'd visited. I closed my eyes and could see the roses display their splendor. Their unmistakeble fragrance filled my senses. I opened my eyes and could see, if only in my mind's eye, gorgeous roses in full bloom. It was as vivid as if the flowers were within my touch.

Today I remember that December of long ago. I inhale the sweet aroma of rose. Their colors dance in my eyes. Memory. Precious here-and-nows that were deposited in my banks. How valuable they are today.

Thank God for memories. Thanks to that precious gift, I can have roses in December or snowflakes in August. I can identify with what my character is experiencing right now. I know how they feel. I can sense their pain, their thoughts, why they make the decisions they make. I write a better scene because I'm right there with them.

Roses. In December. Only the wealthy would dare. I'm rich with memories. It just doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Apollo XIII Club

I've been surrounded by the NASA Space Program all my life. Today, as the crow flies, I live sixty miles from launch pad 39A, where the space shuttle launches. Sometimes I go wander around Kennedy Space Flight Center. It always amazes me how man could create something so incredible out of nothing more than an idea. Believe it or not, it reminds me of how God created the Earth out of nothing.

I lived in the Houston area when Apollo XIII took its ill-fated flight. There was no hope. There was no possible way to perform an in-space rescue. The craft, with the three brave astronauts aboard, would perish. Lives would be lost and mankind would be set back decades.

Then flight director, Gene Krantz uttered words that literally changed the outcome of that mission when he said, "Failure is NOT an option." They methodically worked the problem and brought three astronauts home in a crippled space craft.

The human spirit is like that. The will to survive and thrive pushes us to move forward and find a way to succeed. I apply that to my writing. It's tough. Downright impossible at times to find the right words. That's why I created my own Apollo XIII club. I have a hat with the official patch of that NASA mission. When things get tough, I put on my cap. Literally. It inspires me. Reminds me that I, too, can bring my writing craft safely home again.

God has placed within all of us the ability to go far beyond the odds, the impossible, and the roadblocks. My hat helps me tap into that. I'm a member of the Club. I boldly go where I've never been before to complete my mission.

Maybe you don't have any interest in NASA or space but that same pioneer spirit is inside you. I wish for you today that you become a member of the elite Apollo XIII club, whose dedicated soldiers refuse to stop until the craft is safely where it is supposed to be!

Monday, January 3, 2011

A New Resolve

          Know the most challenging thing I face in writing? Not finding words. Not placing them in the write order to say what I want to say. It’s not even the Evil Editor who tears my beautifully constructed sentences apart. No, it’s not that at all. It’s me! Yep, that’s right. I am the single largest barrier in my writing world.

          There I stand right in my way to stop my forward progress. To tell myself how bad I write. To convince myself to go watch that movie rather than work on that difficult scene or my word count. After all, I’m really a horrible writer. Why even bother?

          I made a fresh commitment to my writing for 2011. I sense the excitement of what could be. Of what is meant to be. I even partnered with a friend to pray for each other. Yet, two hours later as I prepared to put the period at the end of New Year’s Day, the voices came back. Those menacing chants that haunt me from the darkness. From my past failures. They all tell me to stop wasting my time. I’ll be much happier watching Sunday football than writing.

          Yet, I’m at my computer, typing away. Why? It’s who I am. It’s what I was created to do. I’ve given in to the voices in the past. I’ve believed their lies and let precious moments click off the clock without finishing my course.

          My commitment to myself for 2011 is that it will be a year of NO EXCUSES! I will write because it is who I am. I will write because it is what God would have me do. I will put words on the page because I have stories inside me that are just screaming to get out.

          I know 2011 will be a great year. I embrace it and will allow it to lead me wherever it will, albeit turning a deaf ear to all the monsters that jump out of the darkness to remind me how bad I write. My journey has begun and I will reach my destination.