I Just Couldn’t

I found myself in a predicament I’ve never really experienced before and it frankly surprised me.
It all started with the Writer’s Digest writing competition. The contest is open to several different genres from short fiction to inspirational articles. I planned on only entering the fiction part until Saturday night. Just out of the blue I thought of an inspirational article I could write about a three year period during which I battle a serious illness. My mom has been encouraging me to be more open about those years and all of a sudden I found a way to write about it that might be able to convey the incredible things God taught me during that time.
I thought about it for a day then finally decided to just give it a try. What was the harm in writing it out and seeing how it sounded?…BUT I COULDN’T!
After two very short paragraphs I had to jump to something else. I just couldn’t write it out! It might be perfectly constructed in my head, but trying to put the thoughts in to visible words was just too much. Eventually I had to push away from the computer entirely and seek out the comfort of a cup of cappuccino and the fresh air of my back porch. :P
I don’t know why I can’t put it down. Maybe it just hasn’t been long enough since those very, very painful years. I’d like to be encouraging and share the amazing things I took away from it all, but right now this blog post seems to be as deep as I can go.
The funny thing is author Brandilyn Collins recently announced she will soon release a novel based on a years-long illness she struggled against. I told her at the time I thought she was extremely brave and I didn’t think I could do the same…I just didn’t realize I would apparently be physically incapable of at least putting down a page on the subject. (sigh)
Maybe someday I’ll be able to write that article out. Maybe this post is a little step towards that. Or maybe that time is just a part of me, but not necessarily one I can openly talk about. :?
Have you ever found yourself in this place?

How Powerful Are Those Words?

I read about a really interesting study recently that could have a big impact on the way we write…and the way we live.
According to this study, a group of people were shown a video of a car accident. Then, a week later, the group was broken up into two smaller groups and asked to describe the crash. Specifically, group A was asked to describe how the cars “hit” each other, while group B was asked to describe how the cars “smashed” into each other.
The members of group A gave general, straight to the point descriptions of what they saw. Group B, on the other hands, gave vivid descriptions of the accident and even “remembered” details that were not in the original video.
Why? Simply because the word “smashed” stirs the mind much more than the word “hit.” This is true in so many instances. For example, the word “smacked” has almost an audible feeling to it. The work “yanked” has a much more violent sound than the word “pulled.” Even words like “stumbled” creates a better picture when compared to a simpler word like “fell.”
This is so important for writers to remember! It can enable us to create a great image in our reader’s mind with just a word, instead of having to ramble through a long sentence.
Of course, the application to real life is just as powerful, because the words we use day to day really impact us. For example, when we apply phrases like, “This day is going to kill me!” we are actually making the day even harder. The circumstances probably won’t kill us, but our mind is now convinced that we won’t be able to handle what we have to deal with. It has been proven that people who say things like, “This is hard, but I’m sure I can handle it,” actually deal better with life. Strange, but true. :)
So, whether you’re writing or just living, what words are you using today?

Living in the Lawnmower Chalet

Have you ever tried living in a lawnmower chalet? Hm, perhaps I should explain before you answer.
Several years ago my family and I dropped in on an open house for a very expensive home. While walking through the living room we noticed an interesting building in the backyard. For all intensive purposes, it appeared to be a shed…a shed with a wide front porch, gingerbread eaves, and a very elaborate light fixture suspended in front. When we asked the realtor about it, she said, in all seriousness, “Oh, that? That’s the Lawnmower Chalet.” I’m afraid we broke out laughing.
It has become a very big joke in the family. Every time my dad starts talking about retiring I just say, “Don’t worry, you can always live in my Lawnmower Chalet.”
Funny as it is, the whole idea took on a different meaning for me this week when I was thinking about trying to do things that make my natural self say, “Oh, that is way too hard. Almost nobody succeeds. Why are you even trying?”
I realized if I succumbed to those thoughts I’d end up being a lot like someone who lived in a shed their whole lives, wishing I could live in the real house, but assuming it’s too hard to get there. It would be so easy to just dress up the shed, give it a fancy sounding name, and pretend that I’m just fine living there. But it wouldn’t be fine, would it?
So, are you living in a Lawnmower Chalet? Is there are “real house” out there you’d like to live in, but you’ve assumed it’s impossible to get there? Are you adding gingerbread eaves to your shed?
Personally, I’ve decided to stop decorating my shed and start moving out. How about you?

She’s a blonde. No, she’s a brunette. No, she’s a blonde. No, she’s a brunette.

My sister, also known as my first-line editor, is as much a part of my writing experience as my laptop. In fact, I would hazard to say if it wasn’t for her encouragement Only Angels Are Bulletproof would never have gotten past four chapters.
But we do have one long standing disagreement when it comes to my books. Hair color.
“You need more brunette heroines,” she’ll start. “All of your heroines are blonde.”
“So?” I’ll reply.
“So, blondes aren’t supposed to be the heroines. They’re either the dumb character or the evil character.”
“That’s not true. There are lots of good blondes.”
“Name one.”
“Yeah, you really should dye your hair dark. Nobody actually believes blondes can write.”
And that’s when I have to decide whether to laugh or throttle her…She’s still alive, just in case you were wondering.
Well, I still say I’m proving there are smart blondes one heroine at the time. But if you ever come upon a character in my books who is only described as having “brown eyes” and nothing more, know that is a character my sister and I had a disagreement over. This way my sister can believe she’s a brunette and I can know she’s blonde. ;)

Do happy endings really exist?

I read an interesting book this weekend that asked the question, “Is there really such a thing as a happy ending?” You know, the type that takes place at the end of a book or movie.
Guy meets girl, they marry: happy ending.
Or, creative genius reaches his goal, his work is recognized: happy ending.
Well, the answer to that question is simply, NO. (Hold on with me her for a second.)
The answer is no because life goes on! Well, in the real world it does. Life doesn’t just stop in a blissful glow because we’ve reached a goal. There’s still work to do!
Trust me, getting a book published wasn’t the end of the story for me. In fact, it’s just a step on a path that still leaves me feeling out of breath sometimes. :-) But I’m still glad I’m here.
The point of this short post? Don’t think of happy endings as endings. They are in fact new beginnings.
In a sense, aren’t you glad that’s the way it goes?

By the way, if you’re looking for a good little book to spend a day or two on, I can recommend Beth Pattillo’s Jane Austen Ruined My Life.
I love that title. :)

Warning: Writer

After speaking to several of my fellow writers I thought I’d better put up the following warning in the interest of public safety. If you are a family member of a writer, please take this to heart. If you are a writer, you might want to print this up and post it in your writing area.

If a writer is engaged in the writing process (eyes transfixed on computer, storyboard, or notebook), please do not approach him/her and attempt to conduct a conversation. The writer cannot hear or understand what you are saying. Even if the writer appears to nod or mumble an affirmation, it is highly unlikely they have comprehended anything and may not even remember the conversation at a later time.
You can attempt to break the writer’s attention away from their work, but this is not recommended as the writer may become confused, disoriented, or agitated. It is best to leave the writer alone until he/she voluntarily walks away.
…. ;)

And They Did It Again…

So, my publisher’s printer has brought a new dimension to my book’s cover once more. In a previous post I told you all about how I opened the newest box of my books only to discover the printer had tinged the cover green, leaving my angel looking distinctly alien like.
Well, they’ve come up with a new one for the most recent run. A pink tint. Yes, pink. o_O
Maybe we’ll call this the girl power edition. What do you think? A friend of mine, who just happened to end up with a copy from this particular printing, is calling this the “magenta series.” Perhaps I’ll have a “blue period” next.

What? The pink just made me want to add a little more girliness.
And to think, my graphic artist and I worked so hard to get a really ethereal atmosphere on the cover as well as touch on specific points in the story. Who know we just needed a littl more pinkness?

Serious Questions. Funny Questions.

Fellow writer and blogger, Diane Estrella, asked me a few weeks ago if I would do an interview for her blog and then sent along a series of very interesting questions.
Some were serious questions about life, writing, and how God works through both and some were very quirky questions that were just plain fun to answer. (You can now know which board game my family takes very seriously. ;)
You can read the full interview at: dianeestrella.com
Thanks Diane!

Somebody Please Say Merry Christmas!

I know I posted this one last year, but I figured it was the sort of thing that could be said every year.

We’ve become quite accustomed to the outcry against saying Merry Christmas by now. Such words might offend someone.
A few years ago I worked for a major department store in our area during the Christmas season. While we were not told to avoid saying Merry Christmas, it was pretty clear that a traditional Christmas was not on the marketing agenda. The slogan for the season was “Give” (aka, buy). Christmas trees were confined to the corner that sold ornaments. Other than that, decorations consisted only of snowflakes and fake presents.
Still, I just decided to say Merry Christmas to every person that came by my register. I am here to tell you that nobody was offended. Most people smiled and returned the greeting. Multiple people stopped, sighed, and said, “THANK YOU FOR NOT SAYING HAPPY HOLIDAYS.”
It is a sad, sad day indeed when the majority of the population fears offending the approximately one percent of people who get offended by everyone anyway.
So please, this Christmas season, do everyone a favor and say MERRY CHRISTMAS to as many people as you can.