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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Introducing Chanda Canup

My name is Chanda Canup and my husband and I have been serving in ministry together for 6 years. He began as a youth pastor, and we just finished serving at a church where he had youth and music responsibilities. We are no longer pursuing full-time ministry; we have had enough of "church politics" and want to serve at a church we belong in, not a church with a job opening for Scott.

I am a stay-at-home mother of 4, ages 5-1 year old, and my children are a bright light in my life. My husband is a brighter light, and Jesus Christ is the brightest Light of all. I know this from "experimenting" earlier in my life, and even in recent days. We all experiment to see what will work, what will make us happy. I am fully convinced that Christ is the only solution to that. This is what I write about. My blog is called Thursday's Child because I was born on a Thursday, but moreover, I truly have "far to go." All believers must recognize their sojourner status in this world and I think that when we reach out to help each other along the way, we taste heaven. That is what writing is for me.

I wanted to join the blog ring because I am interested in what other Christians are writing about. I am curious about the publishing process. I am wondering what we have in common. Besides Jesus. This should be a given.

Thank you for your vision to create this ring. I know the Lord will use it.

By His hand,

Chanda Canup

The Red Ribbon

© Staci Stallings

Everyone wants a blue ribbon. Blue. First place. The best. Even kindergarteners want that blue ribbon. In sports, I was never a blue-ribbon person. In a race I was always last. In baseball I was as likely to get hit on the head as to drop the ball. In basketball I was fine as long as there weren't nine other players on the court with me. Where I got my horrible sports ability, I don't know, but I got it. And I got it early.

During the spring of my kindergarten year, our class had a fieldtrip to a park in a town about 20 miles away. Making that drive now is no big deal, but when you're six and you've lived in a town of 300 all your life, going to a town of a couple thousand is a very big deal. Nonetheless, looking back now, I don't remember much of that day. I'm sure we ate our little sack lunches, played on the swings, slid down the slide-typical six-year-old stuff. Then it was time for the races.

However, these were no ordinary races. Some parent had come up with the idea to have the picnic kind of races, like pass the potato under your neck and hold an egg on a spoon while you run to the other side. I don't remember too much about these, but there was one race that will forever be lodged in my memory-the three-legged race.

The parents decided not to use potato sacks for this particular race. Instead, they tied our feet together. One lucky little boy got me for a partner. Now what you have to know about this little boy is that he was the second most athletic boy in our class. I'm sure he knew he was in trouble the second they laced his foot to mine. As for me, I was mortified. This guy was a winner. He almost always won, and I knew that, with me, he didn't have a chance.

However, apparently he didn't realize that as deeply as I did at the time. He laced his arm with mine, the gun sounded, and we were off to the other side. Couples were falling and stumbling all around us, but we stayed on our feet and made it to the other side. Unbelievably when we turned around and headed back for home, we were in the lead! Only one other couple even had a chance, and they were a good several yards behind us.
Then only feet from the finish line, disaster struck. I tripped and fell. We were close enough that my partner could have easily dragged me across the finish line and won. He could have, but he didn't. Instead, he stopped, reached down, and helped me up-just as the other couple crossed the finish line.

I still remember that moment, and I still have that little red ribbon. When we graduated 13 years later, I stood on that stage and gave the Valedictory address to that same group of students, none of whom even remembered that moment anymore. So, I told them about that little boy who had made a split-second decision that helping a friend up was more important than winning a blue ribbon. In my speech I told them that I wouldn't tell which of the guys sitting there on that stage was the little boy although he was up there with me. I wouldn't tell because in truth at one time or another all of them had been that little boy-helping me up when I fell, taking time out from their pursuit of their own goals to help a fellow person in need.

And I told them why I've kept that ribbon. You see to me, that ribbon is a reminder that you don't have to be a winner in the eyes of the world to be a winner to those closest to you. The world may judge you a failure or a success, but those closest to you will know the truth. That's important to remember as we travel through this life.

You may not have a red ribbon to prove it, but I sincerely hope you have at least a few friends who remember you for taking time out from your pursuit of that blue ribbon to help them. I'm thinking those will be the ones that really count-I know it's the one that counted the most to me.

Don't miss out! Read the first three chapters of "Cowboy" free! You'll feel better for the experience!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Real Women Scrap Sale and Contest

Real Women Scrap is having a BIG sale all day on Thursday, November 30!

Starting at 12:01 a.m. (PST) we'll begin the festivities. Be sure to check in frequently for prize give-aways, sales and more.

Things you can do to prepare ...

A. Take a self-portrait. We aren't looking for the perfect, posed image. We are looking for the self-portrait that you took using one hand!

B. We want to see what's in a real women's refrigerator. Open the door and take a cleaning, rearranging, or organizing beforehand.

C. Spell out the words "Real Women Scrap" using whatever materials you want. It could be chocolate, crayons, lipstick, legos, Fruit Loops, ribbon, or anything else. Creativity counts! Don't forget to take a photo!

D. Complete your contest entry for the Real Women Scrap Contest ending at midnight tonight.

E. We will be looking for the "Real Woman" of the YEAR. They will be officially titled and treated like royalty all year long. VIP treatment, layout reviews, personal consultations. So you must prepare a picture of yourself holding a sign that reads "Real Women Scrap 2007 Woman of the Year."

Spread the Word. Bookmark the blog and reload frequently all day long!

Technorati technorati tags: Contest, Giveaways, Sale, Real_Women_Scrap, Scrapbooking, Photography

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Mid-Week Motivators Needed

I've really been enjoying these Mid-Week Motivations by Jennifer this month. How about you?

We're looking for more Mid-Week Motivators to join our ministry team here at Writer...Interrupted. If you're a member of the webring and want to dabble in writing, but don't want a big commitment, then think of contributing to the column. We'll also be looking for a menu coordinator.

And if someone would like to create a great graphic for the Mid-Week Motivation Menu then send them on. If we get more than one, we'll have an old fashion vote for the winner!

If you'd like a better idea of what we're wanting in the menu check out the Wednesdays in November and then leave a comment or email. We're looking for Mid-Week Motivators starting in December!

Mid-Week Motivation Menu

Starting Your Day Out Right!
Short Devotion

Is Your House in Order?
Cleaning, parenting, marriage tips, etc.

Afternoon Pick Me Up
Writing inspiration

What's For Dinner?
Quick dinners, crock pots, etc.

A Restful Night's Sleep
Scripture for a restful sleep

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

After the Call

I recently told you about
  • The Really Long First Call.
  • And then what happens after the first contract has been signed? In a word,
  • Wait.

  • But eventually, after we come back down to earth, we get back to work. Every writer is different, but here are a few things I’ve been working on while I wait for things to start moving on my first novel’s release.

    I don’t want to wait! It’s so haaarrrrddd!!

    Getting Real
    I turn on the computer every day, except most Sundays, and open the writing file.

    My editor has given me some ideas she wants me to work on. Specifically if you want to know, she asked me to make my setting even more powerful than it already is. Okay, so some of that is my own wording, but I love the setting of my novel and I agree it has the potential to be better. I need to get it out of my head and even more into the story. So, I’m working on that.

    Writing My Second Novel
    We are not one-book authors, right? After you send the first book or article out for consideration, start writing the next one.

    Writing My Third Novel
    When I am overwhelmed by what I’m currently working on, I take a break and do some free writing in another file.

    Guest Blogging
    What I’m doing with this post. You can apply to the Writer…Interrupted blog carnival of Christian writers if you are interested in breaking into guest blogging. Guest blogging keeps me on my toes.

    Magazine Articles and Book Reviews
    I write non-fiction pieces aimed at women’s publications and for respected sites that provide book reviews.

    Writing Community
    Besides serving on my library’s foundation board of directors, I am trying to get to know other local authors and be more involved in organizations like ACFW and my other regional writing organizations like RMFW.

    I am reading books by those who have gone before me. Especially books in my own genre like Lisa Samson, Mary DeMuth, Elizabeth Berg, Liz Curtis Higgs, and Sue Monk Kidd.

    The writing life is wonderful, but I don’t want to lose site of the real people in my world. If I don’t live a full life, I won’t be able to offer any perspective in my writing. Most importantly, being a wife, mom, and a good friend will probably make the biggest impact on my writing in the long run. Family and friends come first - even over writing.

    So, there you have it. There’s nothing to do after the contract has been signed except for be patient, get to work, and live large.

    Tina Ann Forkner writes contemporary women’s fiction and has recently contracted with Waterbrook Press, a division of Random House, to publish two novels. The title of her first book will be Ruby Among Us. Visit her at, her blog based on a First Time Novelist's Journey.

    Monday, November 27, 2006

    Carnival of Christian Writers #2 November 2006

    Welcome to the second carnival! We're pleased to offer you a variety of posts from Editors, Authors, and readers for your intellectual and recreational reading pleasure. As you journey the writing grounds, be sure to leave comments and tell them the Carnival of Christian Writer's sent you. Please keep your hands and feet inside at all times and buckle up for your safety. Enjoy the ride...

    Acquistions editor, Terry Whalin gives us Straight Talk For Less Than Fifty Cents with 18 Keys to a Rejection Proof-Submission.

    At Forensics and Faith, Seatbelt Suspense™ author Brandilyn Collins tells us her new fave compliment from a fan. (Knowing Brandilyn, it's bound to be twisted.)

    Ane Mulligan knows submitting your manuscript to publishers and agents - and surviving the process - is a rollercoaster ride. How can you endure and live to submit again?

    Michelle Pendergrass at Just A Minute explores how Much Study Wearies The Body.

    Author Margaret Daley shares how she weaves her faith in books.

    Gina Conroy at Portrait of a Writer...Interrupted is tired of trying to drive her writing career and is asking Jesus to take the wheel.

    Mary E. Demuth's tongue in cheek look at the publishing industry is entirely fictional, though the name Jeanne Damoff is real.

    Cara Putman's recent viewing of Dreamer was actually a lesson in plotting in two hours.

    Linda Gilmore confesses she's Addicted to love or something like it.

    Patrick Borders presents Muse? I don't think so-- posted at Emdashery.

    Kaye Dacus presents Subplots posted at Ramblin' Writer.

    Dianne encourages us to encourage others with A Word Fitly Spoken posted at Unfinished Work.

    Robin Bayne reminds us of The Silent Fellowship with a devotional from Streams in the Desert at Between Sundays.

    Jeremiah McNabb joins us with his entry Discernment or Christian Cop-Out.

    Jenny Cary meets author Jack Gantos and shares Reading and Reaching One Another.

    Nicole Petrino-Salter at Into the Fire ruminates after three editor interviews atReflections, Part Two.

    Heidi Shelton-Jenck asks what was your defining moment? posted at HJS Writer.

    Mike Duran explores unfashionable reading and the lack of literary depth.

    Jennifer Tiszai at Sonoran Saga mixes Motherhood, Writing and Cupcakes.

    Heather Goodman at L'Chaim gives you a bit of flash fiction.

    Missed submitting this month? Have a perfect post for next month? Don't put it off! Submit now for December's Carnival!

    Special thanks to Michelle Pendergrass and Gina Conroy for putting together this month's carnival.

    Sunday, November 26, 2006

    Just Go with the Flow

    (c)Gina Conroy

    I'm not an early riser. I covet a good night's sleep, and I've been known to hit the snooze for an hour before feeling awake enough to get out of bed. So when I woke at 4:30 a.m. this morning and couldn't get back to sleep, I wondered what was up?

    I often told God if he wanted to meet with me, He'd have to wake me up. I mean in a wide awake, after some caffeine, I'm ready to take on the world awake. Ten minutes later my four year old daughter climbed in bed with me. After an hour and a half of willing myself back to sleep, I was still wide awake.


    Okay, God!

    I can probably count on one hand how often I've gotten up before my four kids in the last five years. Though I long for time alone, to read my Bible and rest in the stillness of a quiet home, sleep has always been a priority. But this morning I wasn't sleepy, and it was easy to get out of bed.

    I crept down the stairs, started some coffee and a load of laundry. I even had the time to mix up a breakfast omelet and feed the pup. Proverbs 31 woman move on over! Then I got my Bible and went out on the patio to spend some long awaited quiet time, just me, God and the puppy.

    I opened to a devotional entitled, Learning to Wait on God: Trust. The passage that went with the devotional was about Daniel and how he trusted God to save him from the lion's den. I can't fathom what went through Daniel's mind as he sat all night surrounded by a bunch of hungry lions. Did he sleep soundly or was he too afraid to sleep? Was he restless or did the peace of God overshadow him? One thing is certain, Daniel had to be patient. He had to wait on God and trust Him for deliverance.

    I've been learning to wait on God as well.

    My writing career isn't where I want it to be and homeschooling my four children is a huge challenge. (To put it nicely) One I question on a weekly basis. I have reallyDanieldays, like Daniel's in the lion's den, where it seems I'm surrounded by others pulling and tearing at me from every side. I'm restless at times, and anxious to get out of my den, but my night is not over, yet. Just like Daniel had to be patient, so I too wait it out, not knowing when daylight will come or what it will bring.

    The winds of change have been blowing through my home the last couple of years. I've caught the current, not knowing which way God would send me and most times not understanding where He's taken me. I am not a patient person. I don't like to wait. Maybe it's my New York Italian upbringing, maybe it's the society we live in when waiting for more than five minutes in a drive through becomes unacceptable.

    Waiting is hard. So is trusting God. But Daniel survived the night and so will those who wait on the Lord. After 37 years, I'm beginning to understand that the waiting is all apart of the journey and without the journey, there can't be a final destination. Though I stumble along the way and have many scrapes and bruises to attest to my shortcomings, God is always there, picking me up, and guiding me back down the right path.

    Maybe trusting isn't so hard after all. All I have to do is follow God's lead. How hard could that be? :)

    It's got to be easier than fighting the wind current or waiting all night in a den of hungry lions.

    Gina, at Portrait of a Writer...Interrupted, is founder of Writer...Interrupted and homeschooling mom to four high-spirited children. She writes about her experiences trying to balance it all. Her co-authored book , Anytime Prayers for Everyday Moms was just leased and is available now for Christmas!

    Saturday, November 25, 2006

    Fly Lady I'm Not...But

    I don't dare dream of making a business out of my organizational skills as the Fly Lady has, but I have done a bit of personal organizing on the side. So today, I'll give you a few tips--free. Gotta love that!

    1. Monthly Bills--Label thirty-one Manila folders 1-31. Place them all in a hanging file folder. When your bills come in, decide the date they need to be paid on and place it in the corresponding folder. This doesn't have to be just for bills. This can be a catch all of sorts. You can put permission slips, birthday cards or other dated materials in these folders. I also kept a single sheet of lined paper in each folder to make reminder notes. I'd put a simple check mark next to the completed task.

    2. Binders are beautiful and have so many uses. Schoolwork is one use. I homeschool, so we have papers galore. I use one binder per year and purchase pocket folders to put inside. All of our papers from the year go in there.

    3. Kitchen drawers. I use those little baskets that are about three for a dollar and the plastic school boxes you can get on clearance for around ten cents each. I have one drawer for cup lids and straws and little containers and their lids. The lids all go in the little basket. Things like--oh what are they called!? Those little things you put on the ends of your corn on the cob--those things go in the plastic school box. I have one for gadget plug-ins and they stack so nice and neat in the drawer.

    4. Freezer inventory. We have a deep freeze and I keep an inventory of it so that I can plan my meals.

    5. Being a Writer...Organized. I found Julie Hood's Organized Writer. About halfway down the page you'll see a link for a free downloadable 2007 Writer's calendar. I printed her stuff off in 2006 and I have found it to be a blessing. If you sign up for her newsletter, you can download her writer's planner free. I recommend you do this if you want to become more organized. (And put it all in a binder!)

    Hope some of this helps. If you like the tips, let me know...I've got plenty more!

    My thoughts grew hot within me and began to burn, igniting a fire of words
    Psalm 39:3

    Michelle Pendergrass is a coffee-lover who lives in Knox, Indiana where she homeschools her son, Zane. She blogs at Just A Minute. When you visit, please note that her son is most definitely weaned and has been for some time now. Some names just stick.

    ©2006 Michelle L. Pendergrass - All Rights Reserved

    Friday, November 24, 2006

    Fiction Friday: Synopsis writing - a few tips

    First or third person?

    Synopses are traditionally in third person, but these days, there are a few in first person. It’s a matter of risk. Some editors or agents would be intrigued by a well-written synopsis in first person. Others would be turned off by it, and there’s no way of knowing what type of person will read your proposal.

    I personally believe in the safer route and would suggest that unpublished writers write their synopses in third person. However, there are success stories of some writers who landed a book contract with a synopsis in first person, so it’s not unheard of.

    The choice—and the risk—is yours as the writer. In this, get the opinions of your friends and other experienced and published writers. Have them look at your synopses to tell you which is better written, catchier, tighter. Ultimately, however, you will have to decide if you’d like to risk a first person synopsis or not.


    While a synopsis is usually not your best writing, and a synopsis is all telling and no showing, you should nevertheless try to make the synopsis sound like your writer's voice.

    If your story is poignant, try to make the synopsis sound that way. If your writer's voice is uniquely quirky, try to get that into the synopsis.

    Risa Takayama has no social life because she's thrown all her energies into her wedding accessories shop in the mall. Unconventional, rebellious Risa hates the numerous family gatherings because her aunts tweak her about her weight and lack of a Significant Other.


    Risa Takayama would rather eat rotten tofu than listen to her aunts’ tweaking her about her weight. She’s the Elephant Man next to her Barbie-doll cousins with their Ken sidekicks, so she throws herself into her wedding accessories shop in the mall, All the Trimmings. She’s becoming so savvy and self-sufficient, she hasn’t needed to bother God for any help in a while.

    This usually adds words to a synopsis, and if you're trying to cut words, you might be tempted to cut out your voice. The choice is yours, but if you can, try to cut other words and keep your writer's voice.

    How do you recognize your writer’s voice? It’s the words, phrases, and rhythms that resonate to you as you read.

    Tightening a sentence is not the same as writing out your voice. However, if the act of tightening a sentence significantly dims the sparkle of your writer’s voice, you might want to think twice about rewriting it. Find other sentences you can slice or tighten instead.

    By keeping your voice in the synopsis, it will make the synopsis stand out and give a taste of what your story is like, the atmosphere of the novel.

    Camy Tang lives in San Jose, California. She previously worked in biology research, and she is a staff worker for her church youth group. She runs the Story Sensei critique service, and her Asian chick-lit novel will be released in September 2007.

    Everyone who leaves a comment receives a 10% off coupon for Camy's Story Sensei critique service (coupons cannot be combined)! Please leave an e-mail address so she can send you your coupon (use this format: you [at]

    Thursday, November 23, 2006

    Thanksgiving Ties

    Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

    Whether you’re heading over to the relatives, or hosting a get-together from home-sweet-home, I have some ideas to keep the under-ten crowd productive and the whole gang happy.

    For a pre-dinner activity, gather the cousins around and tell them to go outside and find a decent sized tree branch with plenty of small limbs. It needs to fit in a medium-sized flower pot that you’ve pre-filled with dirt. Next, hand out several sheets of fall colored construction paper and have participants cut leaves. Lots of leaves. Make sure they have a list of the attending guests so no one is left out, and tell them to come up with several adjectives or nice things for which they’re thankful about each guest. If they prefer, they can cut small rectangles instead of leaves, roll them into small scrolls and tie them to the branches with yarn. If you go the leaf route, be sure to have a full roll of tape handy to use in attaching the leaves to the “tree”. Now you have a “thankful tree” to place on the buffet, or wherever you so desire a centerpiece. Later on, after dessert, take turns choosing a leaf from the tree and sharing its contents.

    So, for the above activity, you’ll need:
    • Plenty of scissors
    • Plenty of pens
    • Fall colored construction paper
    • Yarn, string, and/or tape
    • A flowerpot pre-filled with dirt
    • A tree limb, no taller than 2 feet

    An easier version of the above activity is to have the children make place cards for everyone. Each place card would have the name facing out, and on the inside all the goodies about that person could be hiding for later revelation.

    Now, for the adults. Yes, playtime is just as essential in maintaining adult relationships, and getting together for the holidays is the perfect excuse for fun. Whether it’s puzzles, board games, or a rousing outdoor game of kickball, the family that plays together…stays together!

    Here are a few ideas guaranteed to knock the “turkey daze” in the teeth:

    • My favorite new group board game: Apples to Apples. Tons of fun. Enough said.
    • Is there snow on the ground? Go sledding! Have a snowball fight or a snowman making contest. Warm up indoors with hot chocolate or better yet, a bonfire!
    • Go ice skating (again, if weather/location permits)…up in the North they flood parking lots and make their own ice rinks…here in the mid-west, we use rivers and ponds…
    • If ice isn’t an option, go roller skating on the sidewalks, or a large empty parking lot.
    • Fishing anyone?
    • Get the sidewalk chalk out and have an outdoor “art contest”…be sure to have an unbiased judge handy…
    • It’s getting dark earlier and earlier, perfect for an outdoor game of hide-and-seek. Or, as we used to call it: There’s no bears out tonight, my daddy shot them all last night…

    Whatever you do, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    Mary is an old-fashioned thirty-something wife, homeschooler, and aspiring writer. Her blog, Home-steeped Hope, feeds her love/pursuit of the written non-fiction word while her women's fiction "dreams" wait TBR (to be revised)...

    Wednesday, November 22, 2006

    Mid-Week Motivational Menu

    Starting Your Day Out Right!
    Devotional Thought

    A couple of weeks ago, I addressed planning out your day, recalling that God is a God of order, as revealed through his detail of creation. However, this week, I wanted to highlight another seemingly contrasting characteristic of God. What about being spontaneous? I don't know that the omniscient God of the universe can be spontaneous Himself, but He certainly urges us to listen to his promptings and follow his leadings. defines spontaneous as "coming or resulting from a natural impulse or tendency; without effort or premeditation; natural and unconstrained; unplanned." It's hard to follow God's leading and ignore our own natural impulses or thoughts.

    Psalm 25: 4-5

    Show me your ways, O Lord,
    Teach me your paths;
    Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    For you are God my Savior,
    And my hope is in you all day long.

    Is Your House in Order?
    Cleaning, parenting, marriage tips, etc.

    Instead of doing what you think needs to be done, really pray at the beginning of this spontaneous day about that which God would have you to do. It could be a big housekeeping project, or extra time with the kids, hard work on a writing project, or time spent with a friend.

    Ask Him. Listen to Him. Then act on it and trust that He will take care of all the things that you think you have to be doing.

    Afternoon Pick Me Up
    Writing Inspiration

    Sometimes we have that urge to write, but we don't know what to write. Or we sort of have an idea what we want to write, but we lack the inspiration to give the idea the oopmh that it needs to be fleshed out on paper.

    This is when a good book comes in handy--one that is full of writing prompts and ideas for when the ideas aren't coming, and/or one that inspires us to wear that Writer namebadge proudly, and do it justice.

    Page after Page
    is both. I recommend it highly.

    What's For Dinner?
    Quick Dinners

    Being responsive to what God is impressing upon me to do right then that day is a good thing, but then it leaves me in a frantic rush by the end of the day. That's when pantry dinners come in handy. I like to have at least one or two standbys that I can prepare without having thought ahead, and with no thawing required. I keep these ingredients on hand at all times. I recently posted my two favorite recipes here.

    A Restful Night's Sleep
    Scripture for a good night

    Wouldn't our lives be so much easier and more fulfilling if we just drifted around from one patch of grass to the next, following our Good Shepherd? Free from worrying about our next meal, our next novel, or our next activity?

    Psalm 23

    The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
    He leads me beside quiet waters,
    He restores my soul.
    He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
    Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
    Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

    You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
    You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.
    Surely goodness and love with follow me all the days of my life,
    and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

    Jennifer Donovan, who blogs at Snapshot, lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children. She has gotten her feet wet with concentrated blogging over these last six months and now has her sights set on publication.

    Tuesday, November 21, 2006


    So you’ve got that idea that sparks your interest and you need to take that seed and make it into a story that will hold a reader’s interest for hundreds of pages. EEK! That is plain scary. You might think: What if I get halfway through and I find out I don’t have a story? I’ve wasted my time. I will say here that isn’t true even if that happens to you because every book we write (or even part of one) we learn from it. I have several books that I wrote when I began over twenty-six years ago that will never come out from under my bed (okay, the floor of my closet). But I learned a lot while writing them.

    What we want to try to prevent, however, is that happening with the idea you are starting next. That’s where planning and brainstorming comes in. We will first start with brainstorming. I love to brainstorm. It’s fun and it gives you a chance to think outside the box. I’m fortunate to have two critique groups who are a wonderful bunch of writers whom I’ve known for a long time. When I start a book, I sometimes run what I have by them to get their input. We start throwing out ideas that come from my original one. Some of them are farfetched and wouldn’t work. Others plant a seed in my mind that I take and begin to develop into a plot.

    Brainstorming can be done at any time in your story--not just at the beginning. Say you have run into a problem with a scene or a part of your plot. If you have someone to bounce ideas around with, that is great. What brainstorming gets me to do is to think about my story in different ways. I love the what if part of brainstorming. What if your hero does this instead of that? What if you turn your scene around and show it from the heroine’s point of view?

    There are some ground rules you should establish when brainstorming with others. No idea thrown out isn’t worth considering. People who are brainstorming shouldn’t be made to feel what they say won’t be taken seriously. You should never laugh at what someone has genuinely offered as an idea. For this to really work you need to trust each other.

    Some of you might say I don’t know a writer to brainstorm with. Brainstorming doesn’t have to be with another writer. I’ve gotten some suggestions from my husband and friends before. I even interviewed a captain of homicide for one of my books, and she began throwing out ideas of how I could work a certain scene. Talk about exciting! I was thrilled to get her input.

    I brainstorm face to face most of the time, but that doesn’t have to be the case. If you are a member of a writer’s group, you might find someone in that group who will be willing to brainstorm with you. It is a two way street and you can end up helping her, too. You can brainstorm with someone you’ve gotten to know online. It’s not as easy as face to face but it still can be effective. I’ve known writers to create a chat room to do some brainstorming or to have a yahoo group and decide a certain time to be online. If there’s a will, there’s a way.

    One last comment about brainstorming, you can always brainstorm with yourself. I often do that. I like playing the what if game with myself, changing things around in my mind and seeing where they lead me. To me brainstorming is vital to my story. It is my thinking stage, and I often do it for weeks before I start writing. Does anyone have comments on brainstorming? Have you done it? Any problems?

    Monday, November 20, 2006

    Music To A Writer's Soul

    Like all you other writers out there, I get antsy when I can't work on my novel. But lately, I've had to be creative to find ways to sneak in writing here and there during my day. Many afternoons I purposely leave the house a half hour before school's out. Then I sit in the car with my notebook while I wait in line to pick my son up. I get peace and quiet by getting away from the telephone and T.V., and I get the added benefit of being the first in line. Sometimes I take the laptop out to the patio when the weather's nice and brainstorm while watching the squirrels play. Even if it's 20 to 30 minutes, it's a great break, and the change of scenery is refreshing. And I've been known to drive down to the lake 10 miles away and park in the marina to watch the barges and write. This is perhaps my favorite setting. Something about the soothing small waves rippling by just lends itself to deep thought.

    Still, there are times when I work 12 and 14 hours a day and just barely have the energy to change into my jammies and pass out. Even then, my work in progress is bugging me to get back to it. Many nights I will flip on the television for something funny or mind numbing to relieve the tension of the day, and I end up finding just the information I needed for a certain setting or scene.

    The other night it was a program on Viet Nam. When I was working on From Pharaoh's Hand, it was a documentary on anthropology and the excavation of the ancient tombs of Egypt. Sometimes I take notes. Most often I just drink in the information and make a mental note to research the most needed facts in the morning. It works for me. And I think it's amazing and a wonderful confirmation that God lines up research opportunities for a working mom. And before you make fun of chat rooms, I have found infinite material for dialogue and characters there. It's a wealth of diversity. You get a different perspective than the one from your own narrow existence.

    In short, almost any circumstance, no matter how mundane it may seem at the time, can produce fodder for the writer's soul. The key is to keep your writing radio on and that work in progress playing softly in the background night and day. That way, when that great source or great burst of inspiration begins, you can turn up the volume and rock on!

    Cynthia Green is working on her second novel, From the Dust of Rose Hill. She does legal transcription from home by day and writes from the heart at night after her family is in bed. You can read about her novel journey and everyday joys and trials at her inspirational blog, Beneath the Ivy Wreath. Cynthia lives in beautiful Paris, Tennessee with her husband Charles and 7-year-old son, Chase.

    Sunday, November 19, 2006


    (c) Staci Stallings, 2005

    Blessings. We talk about them, pray about them, give thanks for them, and sometimes we even feel very guilty about getting them. Although the Bible says God is "able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us," we worry and doubt about how serious He really was when He made that promise.

    The cycle goes something like this. We hit rock bottom and remember God might be able to help, so we start praying. We ask, and as He promised, things start looking up. We keep praying because by now it has become a habit. Slowly then more quickly more blessings show up-some that we prayed for, some we never saw coming. Then the guilt slides through us. "Look at all He's given me. How could I even think of asking for more? I mean, isn't that greedy?" So we quit asking until we're in trouble again.

    In truth, the paradox is we can never ask God for too much. Why? Because God is limitless, boundless, infinite. There is literally no limit to God's love or to His desire to pour that love into and through our lives onto others. Satan knows this, so he uses our best instincts against us. "Don't be greedy. You have enough. Don't ask for more." "Think about those who don't have as much as you have. Take your fair share, and be satisfied with that." "Aren't you ashamed of yourself for even asking God about something like that? He doesn't have time to listen to such petty concerns." And on and on.

    Unfortunately, he's good at it. He has us convinced that there are things too small for God to worry about in our lives. He has us convinced that if things are good, asking for more is asking too much of God. Worst of all, he has us convinced that God has set some sort of invisible limit on what He will give us, and if we cross that line, God will be so angry He will take all the blessings we now have away.

    Lies. It's all lies, and yet we buy into it, and we live our lives afraid to ask for the blessings God wants to give us.

    Take my friend for example. She was recently lamenting because God in His goodness had provided the perfect apartment for her (after she specifically asked for it). Then He provided the perfect car for her (after she asked for it). Then she stumbled into asking for the thing she most wants-a God-centered man who would come into her life and love her the way she is now loving everyone else. That seemed just too much to ask for, especially after she'd already gotten the other blessings.

    She said, "I just feel so greedy wanting it all." As if the Holy Spirit opened a lesson book, she went on, "It's like the other day. I was at the store, and there was this little girl in front of me in line. She walked up with two pieces of candy. The cashier rang it up and said, 'That'll be $1.93.' Unfortunately all this little girl had was $1.

    "The cashier said, 'Look. You've got two pieces of candy, but you don't have enough money to buy both, so you're going to have to put one of them back. Which one do you want, and which one will you put back?'"

    My friend said, "She was a little girl, and it was candy. Of course she wanted both of them!" The situation became more tense as the cashier began demanding that the little girl make a choice. Then my friend reached into her own purse, pulled out a dollar, slid it to the cashier, and said, "Let her have both of them." She said, "I was just so grateful for all the blessings He's given me, I wanted to share those blessings with someone else."

    At the end of her story, I said, "You know what He's trying to tell you through that, right?" She just looked at me as if she hadn't realized there was a message. So, I continued.

    Look at it this way: You were the little girl. You wanted both things. Satan was the cashier, looking at you with a sneer saying, "No. You don't have enough to pay for both. You can only have one, so which one will it be? Make a choice already. I've got other people waiting."

    And then God who was standing at your side the whole time, without being asked, slipped the full payment to Satan and said, "Let her have both of them. It's on Me."

    The truth is, He wants to do that for you. The only stipulation is you must be open to receiving His blessings in your life. By now, He and I have a standing agreement. I'm open. Whatever He wants to send my way is fine by me. In fact, I often simply pray, "All Your best in my life today, God."

    Over and over, He has sent blessings I never even saw coming. Friends to support me in times of need, others who He could love through me, moments of such awe-inspiring closeness with Him I have either laughed out loud or cried. I call that exceedingly abundant beyond all that we could ask or think. Wouldn't you?

    Visit Staci's blog "Homeward Bound" at You'll feel better for the experience!

    Saturday, November 18, 2006

    Review of Scoop by Michelle Sutton

    Scoop was written by Rene Gutteridge


    The Occupational Hazards Books are a series of books about seven homeschooled siblings whose last name is Hazard. The parents died in a freak accident leaving the kids ages 16-26 with a lucrative clown business but the kids realize that God has other plans which doesn't include being a family of clowns for the rest of their lives.

    My review:

    Scoop is a creative novel with a well-done plot, fantastic dialogue, and great characterization. The setting is superb and I truly felt like I worked in a television news station throughout the story. Scoop is highly entertaining with a strong theme tucked within it's pages regarding the power of a true Christian witness to nonbelievers we work with.

    Scoop also contained several points of view. On the one hand, I enjoyed getting to know the cast, but as a result, I didn't feel like I had much time to get to know Hayden Hazard--the main character. I think that was the downside to this otherwise riveting novel. I suppose seeing Hayden through others' eyes did work for the book, but by story's end I wished I'd had a chance to know Hayden more, to discover the way her mind worked. I really enjoyed her philosophy of life and how well the author portrayed it through her actions. Sometimes her naive perspective was downright funny. I also thought the author did an amazing job showing the various character arcs. Well done!

    Overall I'd say I enjoyed Scoop enough to recommend it. Though not "hilarious", in my opinion, it did bring me indescribable satisfaction as I perused its pages. Most importantly, I didn't experience a dull moment in this novel. Not once did Scoop feel like a chore to read. I'm looking forward to reading more about the Hazard family though future books in the Occupational Hazards series.

    Friday, November 17, 2006

    Fiction Friday
    What’s a chapter-by-chapter synopsis?

    Some editors or agents ask for a chapter-by-chapter synopsis. Not all of them do, so don’t automatically assume you need one.

    However, it’s the easiest type of synopsis to write, in my opinion. It’s simply a list of each chapter number, and then a couple sentences describing what happens in the chapter.

    Any significant spiritual or internal conflicts should be included, as well as major plot points, red herrings, symbolism, etc. The chapter-by-chapter synopsis will take the reader on a shortened version of the same ride you’ll give your novel reader, so include the dead ends and frustrations and obstacles that beset your characters.

    Each major character should be named, and minor characters can also be named if they have a significant impact on the storyline. However, peripheral characters shouldn’t be named in a chapter-by-chapter synopsis.

    I usually write a chapter-by-chapter synopsis first, then cut that down to a 1-2 page synopsis which I use for my proposals. Most proposals call for a short synopsis, 1-3 pages single-spaced.

    I will sometimes include the chapter-by-chapter synopsis in my proposal in addition to the 1-2 page synopsis. I’ll usually stick the chapter-by-chapter synopsis at the end of the proposal, so that the editor/agent doesn’t have to read it if they don’t care to.

    At the beginning, you can also give your short 1-2 sentences blurb about the book.

    Here’s an example from my suspense manuscript (unpublished):

    Chapter-by-chapter synopsis BITTER DRAGON

    Erika, trained in Chinese martial arts, inherits a huge sum of money that her late aunt had promised to a shady biotech company. But can she expose the illegal cloning operation before they kill her?

    Chapter One

    Physical Therapist Erika Fong is driven to a bruising kickboxing bout when she feels relief rather than guilt at the news her hated Aunt Alice is dead. Arriving late for the funeral, she feels uncomfortable in the gold-encrusted Buddhist sanctuary, not because she is a Christian but because of the numerous symbols of death. At the funeral reception, she spies a handsome man she’s never seen before. Then her aunt’s lawyer floors her with the news that Alice left her one hundred million dollars.

    Chapter Two

    Erika experiences shock-induced abdomen cramps and avoids questions from her sisters: police officer Lena with her tendency to “clean up” after everyone, and biologist Miriya, at odds with Erika over embryonic stem cell research. Erika struggles over the issue when faced with their uncle, suffering from Alzheimer’s. Erika discovers that her aunt’s business papers and an heirloom Bible are missing. Then she finds evidence in the bedroom that Alice was murdered.

    Camy here: The nice thing about a chapter-by-chapter synopsis is that you can still include snippets of your writer’s voice in certain phrases or word choices or sentence rhythms.

    Cutting down a chapter-by-chapter synopsis is relatively easy if you can dissociate yourself from your story enough. I’ll be going into how to cut down a synopsis in the next few weeks.

    Camy Tang lives in San Jose, California. She previously worked in biology research, and she is a staff worker for her church youth group. She runs the Story Sensei critique service, and her Asian chick-lit novel will be released in September 2007.

    Everyone who leaves a comment receives a 10% off coupon for Camy's Story Sensei critique service (coupons cannot be combined)! Please leave an e-mail address so she can send you your coupon (use this format: you [at]

    Thursday, November 16, 2006

    Thinking outside the Box
    Short Bible studies may be your answer.

    As parents of small children we learn to adapt and cope with situations previously never imagined. Sleepless nights, prams you need a college
    degree to put up and down and daily routines around nap times become a way
    of life. Over time as our children grow up, different milestones are
    achieved and new challenges present themselves.

    One new challenge faced by myself and others in my church mothers group
    was how to run a Bible study and look after our children at the same time.
    No volunteers came forward to run a crèche so we prayed for a solution.

    We had a two hour window of opportunity and a group large enough to split
    in half. We decided to break up into two groups; one group did a Bible
    study whilst the other group looked after the children and then we
    swapped. After allowing time for prayer we found ourselves with thirty
    minutes per group at the most for Bible study.

    After a fruitless search for short studies that would be suitable for our
    group made up of both seekers and mature Christians, we started writing
    our own studies based on the Gospel of Mark. The
    website contains these studies and others that we have written for our
    group. They are available at no cost in pdf format.

    The circumstances of our lives can make it difficult to become involved in
    a Bible study group. Pray for a solution, think outside the square and
    like us God may surprise you with the creativity of His answers to prayer.

    Narelle Atkins is a Christian fiction writer and is working towards her goal of publication. She lives in Canberra, Australia and is a co-founder of

    Wednesday, November 15, 2006

    Mid-Week Motivation

    Welcome to the mid-week motivational menu. Are you feeling a little sluggish, unmotivated and down right lazy? Well, what you need is a good does of nutrition for your heart, soul and mind. Hope you're hungry because there's plenty for all. . .

    Starting Your Day Out Right!
    Devotional Thought

    Matthew 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

    Not being a morning person, I still struggle with getting up early to pray or have a quiet time before the chaos of the day begins. Now that I'm homeschooling my kids, I see the need for this more in my life.

    It never fails! When I wake up late and start the day already behind schedule, I always feel like I'm playing catch up. But when I wake up just a little bit early to have a real quiet time before the kids get up, my day just goes smoother. I have more patience with my kids and things seem to fall in place. Then why don't I get up earlier more?

    Here's some quick tips to help you rise and shine before the rest of the world wakes. Schedule several days this week when you will wake up early and when you will sleep in. I usually sleep in on Mondays and Wednesdays. Then set your alarm clock for 30 to 60 minutes early and hit that snooze or do whatever it takes to get you up on time.

    I'll give it a try if you will and let me know how it works for you!

    Is Your House in Order?
    Cleaning, parenting, marriage tips, etc.

    My laundry always seems to pile up and when I do manage to get it washed, it stays too long in the dryer. Today's tip is to throw a load in the washer BEFORE breakfast! Then set the timer and make sure you take the clothes out when they're warm. Have the kids help with the folding and play the matching game with those pesky socks. We keep all the matchless socks in a basket for weeks (or until they run out of socks to wear) then we play match-etball. When you get a match then throw it in the basket and score!

    Afternoon Pick Me Up
    Writing Inspiration

    Nothing distracts me more than email, and with DSL it's on ALL THE TIME! So why don't I just unplug it? Good question! I think because I crave "outside" feedback and approval. I desire communication and comments. To help combat this plan on checking your email twice a day. Once in the morning and once at night and set a timer. (I really need to follow my own advice!)

    This week in the afternoon hours, after kids' homework and before the rush of dinner begins, I'm going to unplug the DSL. Turn off the email and communicate first with God, and then with my characters.

    First with God, for guidance on what he wants me to say through my characters and then with my character to hear how they want to say it.

    Email and friends are wonderful things, but they can distract what little precious time we have to create. So I challenge you to unplug the email and get quiet before the Lord.

    What's For Dinner?
    Quick Dinners

    Pasta Fajioli Soup

    First of all if my mom knew I was using canned goods in this quick and easy recipe, she'd have a fit. But it tastes too good and so easy to make, I'll take the risk.

    * 1 lb ground beef
    * 1 cup chopped Onion
    * 2 cloves of garlic (minced is fine also)

    Cook these first and add them to a crockpot

    * 1 can of beef broth
    * 1 jar of Chunky Garden Tomato Sauce (I know it's best to make your own sauce, ma. But this is supposed to be a quick and easy recipe!)
    * 2 cups of water
    * 1 cup sliced celery (I usually leave this out)
    * 1 tsp sugar (optional as well )
    * 1 tsp salt
    * 1/2 tsp pepper (to spice it up use Italian hot pepper)
    * 1 can rotel or diced tomatoes

    Simmer in crockpot or on stove for 20 minutes

    Add last:

    * 2 cups of elbow macaroni ( or add it dried earlier if you're using a crockpot, but then you'll have to watch it to make sure it doesn't get mushy!)
    * 1 can White Northern beans
    * 1 shredded carrot (I leave out, too much work)

    Simmer ten minutes more on stove or in crockpot. Serve, eat and enjoy.

    A Restful Night's Sleep
    Scripture for a good night
    Luke 19:17 "'Well done, my good servant!' his master replied. 'Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.'
    At the end of the day, look back on all you've done! Did you become distracted by things like the computer or email? If so, confess and determine to do better tomorrow!

    Did you stay ahead of your day? Wonderful... Before you turn out the lights, set your clock to rise early and make a "to do list" before you go to bed. Plan out what you will wear in the morning so you can start your day off right!

    Gina, at Portrait of a Writer...Interrupted, is founder of Writer...Interrupted and homeschooling mom to four high-spirited children. She writes about her experiences trying to balance it all. Her co-authored book , Anytime Prayers for Everyday Moms was just leased and is available now for Christmas!

    Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    It's Real Life

    When you think of “the life of a writer,” what do you think of? I imagine an older lady who lives near the ocean, alone with her cat. She walks the beach and collects shells, then later she works with words the same way: Searching for them, studying them, gathering them, and displaying them.

    My writing life couldn’t be more different. I’ve written since my children were babies, so they’ve always known mom’s face in the computer.

    Seven years ago, I was writing notes for the Women of Faith Study Bible. I wrote the notes for 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, Mark, James, and all books of the minor prophets such as Malachi and Habakkuk. (The ones everyone knows are there, but no one actually reads.)

    One day, I was working in an intense passage in Micah when suddenly I stopped and looked around. In the same room, Barney blared from the television, a bucket of toys was being dumped on the floor. My two-year-old tugged on my arm. “I hung-gee, Mama. I hung-gee.”

    "Just a minute, I have to finish this study note on the decay of the nation of Israel and God’s promised punishment for those who refuse to repent and submit and turn back to him.”

    “Okay, Mama,” my son respond, racing back to the video on TV.

    If they only knew, I thought, hearing another bucket of toys being dumped out. If they only knew.

    Jesus shared the parable of the talents. All the servants were given talents. All the servants knew how demanding the master was. The Master didn’t ask about their circumstances, he asked about their success. The same is true with us.

    Faithfulness, in order to multiply talents, means working in the midst of life. Whether it’s Barney blaring happy tunes, a neighbor needing advice, or a dog that needs to go to the vet, my writing somehow fits into the day's schedule. Life doesn't stop in order for me to write. (Oh, sometimes how I wish it did!)

    C.S. Lewis sums it up better than I ever could:

    The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s “own,” or “real” life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life--the life God is sending one day by day: what one calls one’s “real life” is a phantom of one’s own imagination. This at least is what I see at moments of insight: but it’s hard to remember it all the time.
    --C. S. Lewis, The Letters of C. S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves

    This, of course, is where I got the title for my blog, It's Real Life.

    Because, friends, it all is.

    Monday, November 13, 2006

    How Do You Get Published?

    When I attended my 15-year high school reunion recently, the number one question I was asked was, "How do you get published?" or "How do I get published?" Most of my classmates knew that I just had my first book released, Real Women Scrap: Create the Life and Layouts You've Always Wanted, ( and wanted to know how they could get in on the action (meaning get published!). I heard about novel ideas, plot problems, short stories, nonfiction and more. But, for all their great ideas, they didn't know where to start.

    I know that this is a common question because I heard it again this past weekend when I was speaking at a women’s retreat. So I'm going to give you the inside scoop on getting published (from my vantage point). I believe in sharing tips, tools and inside secrets so that everyone can pursue their dreams and live the life they love.

    Here we go:

    Be professional. Get business cards, letterhead, and a subscription to

    Show up and be reliable. The people who make it are the ones who show up day after day, even when they don't feel like it. Figure out where and when you can write, put the date on your calendar and be consistent. Butt glue is a writer's best friend!

    Read! Writers write, but they also MUST read. Read books in and out of your genre. Read writing books. Develop a love for the craft, a love of learning, and a humble attitude about your current ability. Many people want to write because they have a great idea or have been told they should, but don't let that cloud your ability to see the need for improving your talent.

    Join online writer's groups or a critique group and participate. Accountability and feedback are key in your growth and development as a writer. They are also excellent places to build a network of up-and-coming authors.

    Attend genre-specific writers conferences, i.e. science fiction writers, romance authors, Christian writers, etc. Take your business cards, dress appropriately for your genre, be friendly, but don't be a shark. Sharks run to editors and insist on a meeting, claiming their work is the next best thing. Be a friend, be respectful of others experience and expertise. Listen.

    For fiction, you need to finish a book, novel, story, whatever before you start trying to get published. In fact, you may need to finish a few before you experience publication. The quote I heard yesterday was that the difference between a chump and an author is finishing the book. No chumps here, right?
    If you're having a difficult time getting it done, try a new approach like Nanowrimo writing a book in a month. It's how I wrote my first novel.

    The founder of National Novel Writing Month, Chris Baty, even has an inspiring book appropriately titled No Plot? No Problem!

    For nonfiction, you need to write at least a few sample chapters and a proposal. Many books and online resources exist for advising you on creating a proposal. Follow their advice. Do not just write your notes on a napkin and send it in with hopes that you're the next J.K. Rowling.

    Once your masterpiece or proposal is complete, submit it to the editors and agents you met at the conference you attended. Having the correct name, title and address is crucial to getting your idea read.

    Once you've submitted, don't just sit back and wait. Continue writing.
    Consider whether or not you can make your idea work for the magazine market.
    If so, rework it and submit. Magazines are much easier to break into and it will help build your portfolio of published works.

    Start small. Don't start with the premier publications, but look at lesser-known magazines, e-zines, and newsletters.

    Never give up! If this is your dream, pursue it. Chip away at it every day, every week, whenever possible. Enlist others to encourage and uplift you. And always remember that a writer can't fail, they can only quit. Truly, if you will do the strategies listed above faithfully, you will get published. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but it will happen.

    If you have any questions or suggestions for other tips to add to the list, leave a comment and I'll add them to the list! Happy writing!

    Tasra Dawson lives in Northern California. Her book, Real Women Scrap, was released in September by Dare Dreamer Press. In honor of the new release, Dare Dreamer Press is hosting a huge contest with prizes over $600 for five semi-finalists. More details at

    Sunday, November 12, 2006

    It's Not Up to You

    (c) Staci Stallings, 2005

    The ego in us tells us that we have to do it-whatever "it" happens to be. It may be working or finding work, or studying or practicing, or learning an instrument or learning anything. "It" could be a lot of things, but the biggest lie in this life is that "it" is up to us to do.

    In the book "Grace Rules" by Steve McVey, Mr. McVey leads with an interesting scenario of Jesus waking up in the morning and deciding what He was going to do for God today. In the story, Jesus decides that it would be a good thing to do a few miracles because that would get some attention, and casting out some demons might also be a good attention getter. The essence of what Mr. McVey was trying to say is that if we look to Jesus for our example, then our "planning" our day is completely ridiculous.

    After reading Mr. McVey's first book "Grace Walk," I realized I'd been doing exactly that. I had yellow notebooks filled with to-do lists. As I looked back on them, they were always the same thing with only a few variations. Pay bills, write article, work on website, etc. Over and over until you would've thought I had it memorized. There were also things on those lists that I didn't get to, things that had never been crossed out.

    I told a friend of mine after seeing what I had been doing that I now understood why I was always so frustrated. If I put ten things on the list in the morning, inevitably by two, there were five more things to add. By the time I quit at six, I had added another six or eight things. So in addition to not getting all of the things I had written down at the first of the day, now I had 14 more things to do. And it was like I was on a squirrel wheel going round and round and round. Sure I had good intentions of doing what I was doing for God. I even put things in His hands when they seemed overwhelming, but it never occurred to me to put the whole day in His hands and let Him decide what we were going to do.

    The first day I did that was the most empowering day of my life. For years I had worked to position myself as someone who could help other authors with marketing. It never worked. It was as if no one else cared about marketing, which of course is completely ridiculous, but that's the way it felt.

    Then that day, I let go and let God. In the course of about five hours suddenly people were asking my opinion on these matters from so many different directions I could hardly keep up, but of course, I didn't have to. During that day my email program shut down twice totally. Most days I would've been freaking out. That day, I said, "Okay, God, then what am I supposed to do?"

    Instantly a thought would come to me. That day-in one day-I helped four different people with their marketing, replied to every email that came my way, exercised, vacuumed my kitchen, sent in my tax information, wrote letters and got them mailed, played with my kids in the backyard, sent my newsletter out, read for 30 minutes, listened to a tape, took my kids to school, went and picked them up from school... It was as if I would think of it, and it would do itself.

    And the cool thing is, it continues to be that way. I've been "redirected" many times. In fact this article is a redirect because what I was going to work on, I couldn't find. So let God decide your "it," and let Him decide when and how that will look. In short, let Him do it through you. You will be amazed.

    Inspiration for life at Homeward Bound. You'll feel better for the experience!

    Saturday, November 11, 2006

    With Honor, I Remember

    Father God,

    We bend our knee to you and bow our heads in remembrance of those who have served and who are still faithfully serving. We remember those who never came home. They are yours, Father, and though our eyes may never meet theirs we know that you have each and every one of them in them in your almighty sight. I pray for your strength and endurance for those still in battle. I beg you to pour your love over them, over their families and friends. Send down your angels of protection to sit with them and tend to them. May every single Veteran and Serviceman know your love and know we're praying for them. In Jesus' precious name I pray, Amen.

    Michelle Pendergrass is a coffee-lover who lives in Knox, Indiana where she homeschools her son, Zane. She blogs at Just A Minute. When you visit, please note that her son is most definitely weaned and has been for some time now. Some names just stick.

    ©2006 Michelle L. Pendergrass - All Rights Reserved

    Friday, November 10, 2006

    Fiction Friday
    Quick tips for how to write a synopsis

    This is a really quick, easy way to write your synopsis. This is especially easy if you only need to write a chapter-by-chapter synopsis, which calls for only a few sentences for each chapter.

    This method goes from large to small.

    Go through your manuscript and write one sentence for each scene. If the scene is long, write a couple sentences.

    Include all major plot points, red herrings, symbolism, etc.

    Don’t just include the plot. If there are any major spiritual or emotional conflicts in the scene, include them. But be brief—don’t go into convoluted explanations.

    If there’s any vital backstory, include it. However, be ruthless about what you don’t include.

    That’s it. Go through your entire manuscript. This should give you a synopsis of about 6-10 pages single-spaced.

    From here, you cut your synopsis down to whatever length it needs to be.

    A synopsis is pure telling, so don’t think too much about good sentence structure or strong verbs or lack of –ly adverbs. Just write it. You can tighten the prose later, and even then, you don’t want your synopsis to sound too melodramatic. Keep it simple.

    Another quick tip for how to write a synopsis in case you wanted to go from small to large.

    Randy Ingermanson has a famous (or infamous) “Snowflake” method of plotting that I use to write synopses.

    Now don’t have a coronary. It’s actually very easy, and I only use a couple of the 10 steps in the Snowflake method.

    I read step one but I don’t necessarily do it: Write a one-sentences summary of your story. About 15 words, mentioning both the big picture and the personal picture.

    Then I do step two: Expand that sentence into a paragraph, about 5 sentences.

    Then I skip to step four: Expand each sentence from the paragraph summary into a paragraph each.

    That’s it. I end up with a one or two page synopsis.

    For a longer synopsis, I do step six: Expand each paragraph of the one-page synopsis into a page each.

    Doing step six gives me a synopsis anywhere from 4-11 pages.

    Camy Tang lives in San Jose, California. She previously worked in biology research, and she is a staff worker for her church youth group. She runs the Story Sensei critique service, and her Asian chick-lit novel will be released in September 2007.

    Everyone who leaves a comment receives a 10% off coupon for Camy's Story Sensei critique service (coupons cannot be combined)! Please leave an e-mail address so she can send you your coupon (use this format: you [at]

    Thursday, November 09, 2006

    Life's Little Interruptions

    Almost nine months ago I signed up for a Bible Study with some home schooling friends. I really didn’t feel like committing to another night out of the home especially since my family was already overscheduled with activities, but my husband encouraged me to go, and I knew I needed something to help me get into the Word and be accountable. I didn’t know the Bible study was on hearing the voice of God.

    If you’ve read my first post, then you already know what happened about half way through the Bible study. Though God had been dealing with me on some level, I didn’t want to believe it was His voice whispering to me about my skewed priorities. Just like what happened to Saul on the road to Damascus, God decided to knock me off my horse. Yet, instead of blinding me as He did with Saul, the scales fell from my eyes.

    The topic of discussion at our Bible study that week had been sold out hunger for God. The author Pricilla Shirer shared these words.

    “More and more the Lord is showing me what I consider interruptions are often divine distractions designed to reveal His plans for me…”

    Pricilla Shirer wrote about her young son tugging on her leg, trying to get her attention while she sat engrossed in writing the Bible study. “Ignoring this interruption ignores God’s attempt to move me away from my plan for my day to His.”

    Talk about an “ah-ha” moment! It was then that I realized I was treating my children as interruptions in my life and to my writing career. I had become so focused on what I thought my calling from God was that I’d been missing His divine plan for my life.

    When I decided to home school two years ago I felt that was an interruption in my life. The time I thought I would have to write now had to be allocated to schooling. Still I was determined to make it work even if it meant staying up past midnight and “winging it” through my lessons the following day. During a quick break or at lunch, I’d steal away to the computer and get on email only to stay longer than I had planned. My three-year-old would often interrupt what I was doing, and I’d either shoo her away or get irritated at the interruption. If I lingered too long on the computer I knew chaos would erupt in the rooms below with my boys, but somehow I couldn’t pull myself away in time to prevent the inevitable.

    Pricilla goes on to write

    “…we all become frustrated when seemingly meaningless interruptions interfere with plans we have for our careers, families, finances, or ministries. Are we missing God’s interventions as He seeks to divert us to His will?”

    Was I missing God’s intervention as He sought to divert me to His will? I thought home schooling was an interruption in my life, but maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was God’s divine intervention to steer me back on the path He had already designed for me.

    Pricialla said, “Sometimes when our plans are interrupted, we are staring God’s direction in the face. We must not push them aside to complete what we feel is most important.”

    I’m still learning to hear God’s voice, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that sometimes I think maybe I missed Him on this one. But for now I’m going to walk this path and cling to Isaiah 55:8-9 “My thoughts are not your thoughts. My ways are not your ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than yours.”

    Gina Conroy is a homeschooling mom of four, founder of Writer...Interrupted, and writes about how she struggles to balance it all her on her blog Portrait of a Writer...Interrupted. If you happen to figure out how to do it "all" before she does, please leave her a comment!

    Wednesday, November 08, 2006

    Mid-Week Love Motivation

    Starting Your Day Out Right!
    Devotional Thought

    I Corinthians 13:1-3 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

    Isn't that the truth? We can do so much including service in the church, "self-sacrificing" work in the home, extra credit soccer mom work on the weekends. . . . But if we do not do it out of love, we're gonna get gonged. The might hold up for a while, but eventually people will see that it doesn't ring true. I know that when I make an effort (in my own goodness), to do good things, I don't last long. Even though I know that what I'm doing is the right thing to do--taking care of my family, serving in my church, trying to cast aside my selfish desires--motive is everything. How are your motives? I know that when I try to do better, I fail pretty quickly. When I am motivated by love, it seems easier. Sometimes it doesn't even feel like a sacrifice.

    Is Your House in Order?
    Cleaning, parenting, marriage tips, etc.

    Some ideas for showing love to your kids and/or husband this week:

    Greet them with a favorite snack. When I did this last week, my daughter was overjoyed. It was very simple. All I did was make her some hot chocolate and a cinnamon sugar tortilla (spread a little butter on a flour tortilla, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and heat in the oven for just a couple of minutes) and serve it to her when she got off the bus.

    Do what they want to do. My husband is a big sports fan. I could care less, but he does like it if I hang out in the same room as he is in while he's watching. So he roots, and I sit nearby and read or blog. Taking twenty minutes to play a game with my daughter makes her feel like she's important to me. Singing or dancing with my toddler son while he's watching TV makes him (and me) laugh.

    Affirm them. Put a note in your husband's car or lunch. Leave a funny or sweet note in your child's bathroom or under her pillow. Say thanks.

    Do something for them.
    Instead of continuing to nag your child about cleaning out their closet, do it for her. I've found that this can sometimes give my daughter a jumpstart on tackling other areas on her own. Is there a task that your husband has been dreading? Even if it's a typically male chore around your household (changing lightbulbs, weeding the garden, fixing something, cleaning the garage), think about making his day by doing it for him, or setting aside some time to do it together.

    Afternoon Pick Me Up
    Writing Inspiration

    Write about someone you have loved. What do you love about him or her? What is that person doing now? Is it someone you see daily, or someone with whom you've lost contact, and you can only wonder? How did that person make you a better person--more "you" than you had been before? Did you first love this person for the similarities you saw or the differences you craved?

    What's For Dinner?
    Quick Dinners

    Breakfast for Dinner
    I think that most of us have this trick up our sleeves--it's easy, you don't have to think ahead, and everyone likes it. It's usually veggie free (although you can sometimes sneak some fruit in), so we can't play this card all the time. Try pancakes or eggs and biscuits or toast. I recently tried this great breakfast casserole (which does not require refrigerating overnight). It was delicious, and simple, especially if you are feeding a crowd. I found the recipe here at the Nerd Family blog.

    If you think your kids would appreciate it, go the extra mile and get everyone dressed in PJs before you eat, and say "Good morning" instead of "Good night."

    A Restful Night's Sleep
    Scripture for a good night

    I Corinthians 13:4-8a Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

    Love never fails.

    We can't live up to all of these on our own, but we can call on the One who can. Love never fails, but we do. Even though it's beyond understanding, I've come to accept the unconditional love and forgiveness of my Lord. However, I'm still amazed at the sweet human love and acceptance that I receive from my husband and my children each day. Where have you failed in these areas? Ask for forgiveness. Your children have probably forgiven you already, but by asking, you can show them that it's a side of yourself you're not proud of. When your earthly relationships are squared up, ask your Father to forgive. He's waiting to grant it, but hopefully the asking will remind you that you can do better, and want to do better, and will purpose to do better tomorrow.

    Jennifer, who blogs at Snapshot, lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children. She has gotten her feet wet with concentrated blogging over these last six months and now has her sights set on publication.