Monday, January 31, 2011

And the verdict is...GUILTY!

"Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!" The judge slammed the gavel down. I hung my head. I had committed one of the ultimate crimes, even though I knew better.

My inner editor jabbed me in the ribs. "Way to go. That judge is ready to throw the book at you for what you did."

"He doesn't need to," I growled. "I feel so bad I'd throw a book at myself right now."

My crime? I had been thinking as I drove the car to pick up my daughter from her job. Suddenly, a great idea came to me. It was perfect. Did I have paper handy? Yes. That's why my purse is so heavy. Did I have pencils or pens? Many. I carry that stuff with me always. But I didn't take the time to quickly jot down a quick phrase that would remind me of what I had been thinking about as I drove. The result? A lost idea.

I could KICK MYSELF. I hate it when I do that. I know better. It's happened before. I dragged my attention back to the black figure perched behind the bench.

The judge shook his head sorrowfully. "When will you ever learn? I sentence you to severe mental anguish as you attempt to recall that lost thought. Next time, write it down."

Know what? Next time I will.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Brilliance of Socks

I am a day behind... Actually months behind. But, here I am back on The Last Draft Writers Group blog. I confess that I have been selfish and need to be a better group member! Mea maxima culpa!

Almost every day on the train, I have been plugging away at my novel. Sometimes, it feels as painful as watching the Bears play against Green Bay. I wish I were better, faster, more inspired. I wish the ideas and words would flow out of me so quickly that my fingers would have difficulty keeping up. 

Alas, this is usually not the case. Lately, it seems that each sentence is painstakingly drawn from my creative vat and wrung out on the page - and they have been mostly socks....

I wish I was BRILLIANT! But, I am not. What I am trying to be, though, is diligent. I am hoping my diligence will occasionally result in flashes of luminosity that will eventually connect together to create a novel of intensity that will even interest a fussy reader like me! Brilliance come, I say! Even if if it has to be rhinestone socks...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Learn somethin'

One of my favorite movies is The Blind Side. There's humor, there's heart, and there's character. It has the best of everything, and I love it. It also holds one scene which has become a catch-phrase in our house and always makes me smile. When the mom drops off her kids off at school one day, she calls out to them, "Learn somethin'."

It seems so obvious. They're going to school. Of course they're going to learn something, right?

So Saturday I set off for a little seminar for beginning writers by author Laura Crawford at the local Barnes & Noble bookstore. Although I am not exactly a beginner anymore, there was no way I was going to miss it. The general contrivance of circumstances has always found a way to keep me from ever attending writing conferences. This one fit my budget (free) and my schedule (Saturday afternoon).

Right before I went out the door, one of my kids called out, "Learn somethin'!" I laughed to myself. Wasn't that the point? Wasn't that what I was planning to do, even if it was for beginners?

During the seminar, there were lots of great questions by the people who attended. They wanted to know how to find the best market for their work, how to approach a publisher, what to expect if they did. Sometimes I knew the answers; sometimes I didn't. But the one thing I learned as I watched Laura Crawford answer each question with a smile is that when you are a writer, there is no greater joy than giving back to the writing community and helping other people achieve their writing dreams.

Thank you Laura for a great seminar. I hope you write many more books and continue to enjoy your writing journey!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Don't Just Think Big, Think Greatness!

Tonight, a friend and I were hanging out by the fire at a coffee house just catching up. By the time we were getting ready to leave and got up we were getting a bit dizzy from the heat. My friend didn't want to leave the cafe to step outside into the freezing cold. I said to her: "Well, let's believe for a remote starter for our next car."
"Naw, I'm not doing that. I'm believing that next year around this time I'll be somewhere warm."
"Haha! Yes, may it be done unto you according to your faith."As I was driving home I thought about what my friend had said and I remembered:"
Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel."
(Matthew 8:10)

It made me realize that everyone of us decides for ourselves where we're headed and what we are allowing ourselves to receive. In a kingdom where all things are possible we are the only ones holding the power to limit us.

Are you going after the highest gifts, the Father's best? What are you believing God for?

In His Service,


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Are you a productive writer?

I squirmed uncomfortably, the bare bulb swinging precariously above my head in the small darkened room. "Um, could you rephrase the question?"

"No. Just answer honestly."

"Could you tell me exactly what you mean by productive? I mean, isn't that kind of a subjective question?"

My inner creative manager (who always feels guilty if I'm not getting my quota in) threw up her arms and gave up. After all, we had a lot to get done, and this wasn't helping, was it?

The truth is, productivity is subjective. A professional writer working from home is going to be kicking out a lot more printed word than, say, a single mom who has a job, several kids, and is taking night courses. Productivity takes many shapes and forms. If that's so, the question becomes, what does it mean for me to be productive, and how can I achieve the best productivity I am honestly capable of?

With that in mind, I purchased The Productive Writer this week. I thought it would be a good way to define my own productivity this year. I've already been guilty of procrastinating of the worst kind—the busy kind. I do other things to avoid writing. I graded papers, I did market research, I even dusted my bedroom (which would have passed out from shock if it had been capable of that level of humanity)—it took many forms. Something had to be done. Thus the book.

I like structure and accountability, and I'm hoping that Sage Cohen's book will help me create it in my writing life. I'll keep you updated as I go. For now, how do you define your own productivity?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Want to win a NookColor? Read more. : )

Hello all. Here's a special, late breaking, mid-week post. Just found out about this contest, and though you might be interested. After all, who wouldn't want to win a free NookColor from Barnes & Noble? Check out this link to the Bookalicious blog and follow the simple directions to enter. By the way, the second place prize packages are awesome too!

Happy Friday!

: ) Beth

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Year's resolution: don't forget to live

re • solve—verb—to decide firmly on a course of action

re • solve—noun—firm determination to do something

I do not make New Year's resolutions. This is primarily because I don't want to put myself through a ton of stress trying to live up to some bizarre standard I can't achieve, and also because I don't know specifically what the future holds. As a mom, wife, etc. I have to be at least a little flexible for those who are depending on me.

I find myself wondering how many people made resolutions on January 1st. My guess is that there were quite bunch, since the beginning of a new year always seems like a good time to overcome all those bad habits that generally follow you around like a dog on a leash. I doubt many people actually keep those resolutions for longer than a few days or possibly weeks with the exception of a few iron-willed individuals.

In light of this, I've decided it's more beneficial for me to make a 2011 general game plan than 2011 resolutions, so I'll share my game plan creation guidelines with you here.

• Have some big goals
• Have some little goals
• Have some dreams
• Write down strategies for achieving goals and dreams
• Be flexible and realize that it's okay to make some adjustments
• Be reasonable in expectations
• Don't condemn myself when I mess up
• Shoot for the moon sometimes
• Don't forget to live

I like that last one. I picked that up on a photographer's website, and I thought it was very important since I keep my nose to the grindstone to such an extent that life passes me by sometimes. Then I look up and wonder, when did my kids grow up? Where was I? I have to remind myself not to forget to live.

What are your resolutions for the new year? Do you have a game plan?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Love of My Life.

One of my dearest friends and sister gave me a book recently. Joyce Meyer's Reduce Me to Love. And well, what can I say...I haven't gotten very far. This is by no means a reflection on her writing. I love Joyce. It's rather because I just couldn't get past the scripture she starts out with:

I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another. By this shall all [men] know that you are My disciples, if you love one another [if you keep on showing love among yourselves]. -John 13:34-35 (AMP)

Wow! This is such a rich message! What is Jesus' desire for me, how should I walk out this life, which he has set before me? How (much) does he love me? How do I become more like him? How do I show people around me how much he loves them and how much I love them?

With those questions I went about my day. Today's been one of those wonderful days where I had a smile on my face from the moment I woke up (and I intend to go to bed with it) just enjoying the time he's granted me here. Somewhere over the past months the time I would spend on myself had changed. Don't get me wrong, we all need alone time. But time for myself looks different now than it did maybe a year ago. It is now time I get to spend alone WITH him. Moments of intimacy, fellowship, jokes, direction, correction...whatever I need most, but it's always about love and motivated by it. What we share stays between the two of us- unless he entrusts me with something for somebody else...

God is love. God gives love. Love gives.
Sometimes I get so wrapped up in God's love that I truly don't desire or need anything else. I'm talking about a time when I don’t just know in the bottom of my heart, by the experiences and memories in my mind but by the way I feel with every fiber of my being that God lives in me. We are one. He is love and so am I. Love sustains. Love is substance. God is.

His presence is intoxicating, makes me want to take Him all in. His love is addicting, the one substance we were created to crave, to do everything for to get it if we don’t have it and tell everybody about. Think of a drunk person for a moment or somebody who is “on something”. You can always tell, can’t you?

Same thing with being drunk on God’s love: People can tell. They might not always know what’s going on with you, but trust that they’re picking up on it. Jesus said they'll know you by it. If you’re so drunk from taking in His love you’re walking around beaming, smiling at everyone even those with a sour face- because you don’t care that they’re probably not going to smile back. You reach out to people you've been meaning to call and look for ways to identify and meet the needs of people that cross your path on the street...Your love is just spilling over and the aroma of God’s love surrounds you.

You see, such love was never meant to be held back to just ourselves. God is our source, we are His vessels. Don’t be afraid or allow drunkenness to make you forget to share this tantalizing love with others. I think keeping it to myself would eventually smother it down to the size of a pilot light. But sharing it with others opens myself up to receive even more as I continue to give. It's a win-win situation.

When nobody else is around I can still do that. I give it back to God. I praise Him and tell Him about the joy I feel because of Him, the gratitude for being alive and called for such a time as this; for righteousness and abundance of every good thing in Christ, for deliverance and freedom. If anything, a beautiful sunny day in snowy Chicago will trigger some gratitude, trust me. Bathed in sunlight, while I’m driving through the suburbs I tell the love of my life how much He means to me, over and over and over. Then I stop and ask “How can I love you back? It’s not like I can hug you or kiss your face…” How do you love someone, really lavish them with love if you don’t see them with your physical eye?

I see parts of Him, His essence and sometimes His miracle power. What an amazing thing. Glory to God! As much as I long to see eye to eye with the love of my life, my natural eye does not perceive Him.

"So what can I do? I know I can honor you with my tithe, I can tell you, respond to you in the way I shape my life…but how do I do I LOVE you?"

And just when I’m about to freak out over this...a Word. He goes, “Feed my sheep[1].”

Praise God for the ability to hear His voice! I smile and am back to telling Him about my love for Him, how awesome it is that one word of Him settles every storm, no matter how big or small. As we continue to fellowship I think about ways to feed His sheep...

Jesus loves you and so do I.

[1] John 21:16

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Getting Emotional

Why do we read?

Maybe it's to be educated, to escape, for recreation, for enjoyment, because your mother makes you, or because your teacher makes you. These are only a few reasons why an individual may pick-up a book.

I am part of a book club. There have been good books and bad books among those we've read. The last two have been exceptional books. These books, though different in story, still had something in common. They both touched me in a huge emotional way.

Galway Bay by Mary Pat Kelly made me sob. It reached down, pulled out my guts, and made me fall in love with the characters. When tragedy happened, I was there, feeling it, seeing it, and smelling it. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows kept me chuckling until the end when my laughter deafened my husband who was sitting beside me.

So here is my question. Did the strong emotional reactions I had while reading these books have anything to do with the fact they are now two favorites? I believe so. We as human beings were created to feel, and when we feel, a strong connection is made between us and a book. Whether the feelings are good or bad, the connection is there.

So think about the books you love. Do you have an emotional connection with them? Just a thought.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Everyone, as I frequently point out to my Preschool children's church class, likes new stuff. Preschoolers understand this, because there's something special about a brand new toy, never touched by another child's hands.

In some ways, the new year is a also like a new toy. No one has handled it. It's yours and you can make it what it will be. The year stretches out in front of you like a yard of new fallen snow without a single footprint to mar it's pristine beauty.

I'm curious. What will you do with your new year of 2011?