When Things Go Wrong

I wrote an entire blog post, and let me tell you, it was a rather long post. I had read it through a few times, made changes, and finally felt it was ready to be published. Looking it over one more time, I decided it needed one more picture. I don’t know what I did wrong, but in the process of choosing the image and uploading it, I deleted my entire post! I’m sure you know how I felt at that moment. I went searching all over the place trying to find it. It was no where to be found. It was gone for all time and eternity, and it was late at night. Shutting my computer off, I went to bed.

It’s been a couple of days now, and I’m finally writing a new post. I needed a little time before I was ready to start over again. And guess what? I decided that maybe I wasn’t supposed to write that last blog post. Perhaps it was more for me than for anyone else who might read it.

I realize this was a minor thing in the greater scheme of life. We all have faced worse circumstances than these. We feel helpless. There is no quick fix. The problem will not quickly resolve itself, and sometimes it will never go away. It turns your life down a path you never wanted to take. You’re stuck. You can’t go back to yesterday when everything was better.

You cannot help what comes your way, but you can choose how you will respond. You cannot stop the emotions that will rise up in you or the tears that will fall. Your heart may break and you may grieve. But you know you cannot stay in this place. You have to move forward or you will be swallowed up by despair. You must decide how you will go on, and that decision will impact your future far more than the circumstance that brought you to this place.

For many years after my siblings and I got married, we moved far from my parents’ home. We have the best parents and they created a wonderful home for us to grow up in, but our jobs and marriages took us far away. Whenever we drove the hours and hours to go visit my parents, the best part was arriving. They must have been waiting at the window because as we drove up the driveway, the door opened and they came out to greet us. Our kids squealed with joy and ran to them with outstretched arms. It seemed every hour was filled with laughter, joy, and conversation. Yet it was inevitable that we would have to leave again. This was the hardest part. It broke my heart each time we backed out of the driveway and turned to look out the window to see my parents waving from the porch…alone. We were leaving them, and their house would feel empty. (My eyes are filling up with tears as I write this.)

Moments like these are hard, but I learned a very valuable lesson from my mother. I called her as soon as I got home (this was before cell phones) and I asked how she was doing. She told me she sat down for a good cry as she talked to God, and then she got up and cleaned the house from top to bottom. It was therapeutic and she accomplished something practical at the same time. As she pounded the pillows into place and scrubbed the bathtub, her pent up frustration was released and soon praises to God fell from her lips. She thanked Him for her family and for the wonderful time we had together. Her house was back in order. Everything was back in its rightful place. She had the pictures to look at and the memories to reflect upon. Now life would go on and we would all choose to be happy. You see, the lesson I learned from my mother was, I always have a choice as to how I will respond.

She could have moped and complained. She could have walked around in the gloom of her loneliness and made my father’s life miserable. She could have complained to me and made me feel guilty for having moved away. Instead, she chose to find joy in whatever circumstance she found herself in. My mom chose to trust God to help her and to bless her.

Isaiah 41:10 NASB “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

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In the novel I just published, Reluctant to Wed, the main character, Emma, is faced with a heartbreaking situation and she must choose how she will go on. Here is a line from the book that reveals Emma’s thought process: “Rehearsing that conversation in her mind would cause her to become bitter or paralyzed with self-pity. That was not for her. Life was meant to be lived to the fullest, and that’s what she would attempt to do.” Emma made the choice not to wallow in self-pity, but to move forward and attempt to find joy again.

 

 

It is in these difficult moments that we prove if we really trust God. It’s easy to talk about faith when everything is going well. But when the doctor report isn’t what we were hoping for or when the bills are piling up or when we lose a job — there are countless difficulties people face every day — it is in these moments we need to run to God and not turn away from Him in anger. God’s own Son was not spared the trials of this world. But God has promised to be with us through the trial.

John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I can tell you from personal experience that Jesus will give you supernatural peace and joy in the midst of what you are going through IF you will turn to Him and trust Him to carry you through whatever you are going through. NOTHING is too difficult for Him. He can take the situation that had the potential of destroying you, and turn it around for good. NOTHING is too difficult FOR HIM!

Jeremiah 32:17 “Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.”

Do you have a verse that has especially helped you at a very dark moment of your life. Please share it with me in the comments, or any other thoughts you may have. I’d love to hear from you.

 

Paperback Has Been Released!!

Reluctant To Wed is now available on Paperback and Kindle! Order your copy here.

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Emma, an American, and Devon, the Earl of Devonport, are strangers compelled to wed by the machinations of family members. To keep her family from losing their farm, Emma agrees to an arranged marriage. Devon understands his obligation to his title and to his father. He has no choice but to take Emma as his wife. While her heart longs to be loved, his longs for freedom. When they meet, sparks fly. Each must make an effort to understand the other. Faith in God gives Emma hope when the path to love is not an easy one.

If you enjoyed the book, please leave a review here or on Amazon. Thanks.

 

 

 

 

Finish It!

“Sometimes you have to get your writing done in spare moments here and there.” ~J.K. Rowling

 

I’m working hard at trying to be a consistent writer. That means either an hour of writing each day or 1,000 words. Unfortunately, my schedule this week has not been conducive for writing. My husband and I are at a church family camp where he is the speaker and I have some responsibilities in that direction as well. Since it’s a camp I attended as a youth, there are many people to reconnect with and also many to meet, and it’s hard to find time to write. Constant interruptions and long conversations have kept me from it. Rather than bemoaning the fact, I find myself intrigued by the stories I’m hearing as I sit face-to-face with people from various parts of the country, many whose families immigrated here years ago. There are lots of bits and pieces that might work nicely into future novels. So rather than feeling guilty for not writing, I feel like an investigator gathering information. By the time I one day write the bits and pieces of these stories into a fiction, they will not be recognizable to anyone, but they will have fed my imagination.

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Life can get away from us. There are responsibilities that are quite frankly more important than writing, yet there is nothing that needs to keep me from gathering more information and gaining ideas for future writings. HOWEVER, these times of not setting pen to paper or fingers to keyboards cannot last long — maybe a day or two — and then I must make time to write if I wish to keep improving. So here I sit at my computer between meetings typing a few sentences that I plan to review later and edit. I need to write. I must write. It’s the only way to become better at this craft.

Now that I’ve published my first novel, I’ve had several people come up to me and tell me how much they long to write a book. Some have a partially finished book lying in a desk drawer at home — still unfinished after several years of working on it. Let me encourage you to get it done. Complete it. Finish it. You have a story to tell, a gift to share, and information to impart. If it’s a dream, then make it come true. Commit to writing each day for one hour or write 1,000 words per day. You decide what’s doable, but be consistent and it will get done.

Are you that person who has an incomplete book at your house? Perhaps you haven’t even begun writing yet and it’s still just a dream in your head without one word written on paper? What’s keeping you from finishing? On the other hand, you may be a writer who already has a consistent routine of writing. I’d love to hear from you. How did you get to this place of consistency?

Reviews

Reluctant to Wed has received great reviews on Amazon. I’m so tickled about it! Here are some of them:

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~ Love this book! I read it every spare moment I had until finished. I felt like I was watching a PBS miniseries as the story unfold before my eyes in full color. I felt an immediate connection with the characters. Some of them were worthy of great love, well others stirred deep emotions of another type. The book definitely spoke of a love that goes deeper than physical attraction. There were threads of faithfulness, forgiveness, and redemption that flowed through the pages of Reluctant To Wed. Great read! Buy it you won’t be disappointed.

~ The story line and characters in this book leaped off the page and carried me along in a gripping tale. I felt I was right there in the English countryside cheering on the characters and wishing I could smack a couple of them. Hurry! Get this book!

~ I enjoyed the story, the characters and the writing. I could not put it down once I began reading. I will be looking forward to more from this author.

For your copy, just click Reluctant to Wed (Arranged Marriage Series).

Writer’s Hideaway

IMG_0896.JPG-1.jpegThe days slip away as I cook meals, straighten the house, grocery shop, care for family and pets, run errands, go to church, talk on the phone, answer texts and emails, etc. I haven’t even mentioned conferences, weddings, showers, graduations, birthday parties, and the list goes on. Distractions to keep me from writing surround me. The clock keeps ticking and another week flies by.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not complaining. I love caring for my family and I love my life. I wouldn’t want to change it for anything in the world. But I also believe I can make time for the things I really desire to do. I don’t need to give up my aspirations when it’s possible to enjoy both. It’s a matter of managing my time.

I’ll be honest with you. I’m a great procrastinator. I’ve learned to be very good at it over the course of my life. As a teenager, my mother would ask me to clean my bedroom. What she meant was, she wanted me to make my bed, dust, vacuum, and put away any clothes lying around. What I ended up doing instead was, cleaning my desk drawer out and going through old letters, reading them, and deciding which to keep and which to throw away. Then I made the bed and put away my clothes. But that made me aware of how messy my other drawers had gotten, so I would refold all my clothes and stack them nicely in each drawer. Finally, I would get to dusting and vacuuming. By the time I finished cleaning my room, my mother had cleaned the entire house, cooked and baked, and worked on laundry, too! Why, she probably even washed the windows, mowed the lawn, and cleaned the garage! Thankfully, I’ve grown up since then and can clean my whole house in a day, plus cook a meal, and even work on laundry. But the temptation to procrastinate is my constant companion. So how can a procrastinator manage time? Here are some things that are working for me:

  1. Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wiseIt’s an old saying, but loaded with wisdom. If I go to bed early enough, I wake up early, which allows me to get things done so I have more time for writing.
  2. Most days are filled with activity and I have to snatch time wherever I  can find it. If dinner has to cook for thirty minutes or an hour, that’s a good time to write. Thirty minutes here and thirty minutes there. I write when I can.
  3. Sometimes in the writing process, it’s absolutely necessary to devote a huge chunk of time if you want to make some fast progress. On those days, and I admit they are few and far between, I will stay in my lounging pants and tell my family I’m hiding in my room to write. And that’s exactly what I do. They know they can call me if there’s a fire, but they also understand I need some uninterrupted time alone. It’s so easy for those around you to invade your workspace if you are at the dining room table or sitting on your recliner. But if you hide in your bedroom and close the door, it may cause them to think before they interrupt your thought process. As I said IMG_0897.JPG-1.jpegalready, those days are few and far between, but this method works well when necessary.
  4. The final thing that has helped me with writing for hours at a time is a writer’s hideaway. For example, my husband and I rented a vintage studio apartment in a small obscure town only a couple hours from our home. We only stayed a couple of nights, but it was for the express purpose of using this as a writer’s retreat. Its vintage appearance was a great inspiration for a historical fiction writer like me. Its seclusion allowed for a feeling of isolation conducive for creative thought processing. My husband and I would take long walks to talk, explored artists’ galleries, and observed the people around us, then returned to our quaint and peaceful room. With a warm, gentle breeze blowing through the cranked-open vertical windows and the sounds of birds in the trees, I placed my fingers on the computer keyboard and allowed inspiration to carry me away — uninterrupted — in my writer’s hideaway.

If you’re reading this blog post, you are either a writer or perhaps your creativity is in a different direction. Whatever it is, don’t allow the busyness of life to keep you from your dream. You certainly must not give up the people who are counting on you and the things you are responsible for, but I’m certain there are activities you can set aside to pursue your goal. How much of your time is spent on Facebook, TV, searching the internet, talking on the phone, and so on? Be completely honest with yourself. Is there something useless or unnecessary that is robbing you of valuable time that could be spent on learning something new to help you obtain your dream? I love the quote by Reinhold Niebuhr.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” 

Be Yourself, Even If You’re Quirky

I had the privilege of attending a banquet recently where the guest speaker was a comedian. He was a hoot!! I mean, he was so funny people held onto their stomachs laughing so hard. His humorIMG_0629 was clean, so no one felt awkward. What made this guy so humorous was that he was truly being himself. He shared stories from his childhood and more recent experiences, too. He had learned to laugh at himself, and then gave us the opportunity to laugh with him. He was a great storyteller.

Years back, before internet, I received a letter from my sister while I lived in another country. Each sentence was truly my sister. The way she processes her thoughts were in every line I read. My heart squeezed with longing. I laughed at her humor and missed her as much as she said she missed me. The letter was special because she was being herself. Her essence was in every word written.

As a writer of a novel, blog, or letter, it’s important that I’m genuine. That doesn’t mean that I cannot develop my character and become a better person. It certainly doesn’t mean I don’t need to learn more about the craft of writing. It simply means I shouldn’t try to copy someone else’s voice or personality. Fake will show itself and turn readers away. Genuineness will delight, inspire, and pull the reader in. Of course, their will be those who do not like who you are. That’s okay. You cannot please everyone, so don’t try. But more people will be drawn to your writing if you are genuine than if you try something that doesn’t come natural to you.

Nothing is more painful than to have to listen to someone trying to be funny when they are completely out of their element. You want to laugh because you feel so badly for them, but it almost hurts to force a chuckle out. If you’re better at drama, then please delight us with a heartwarming story. We enjoy those, too.

Here’s another reason to be yourself. It’s difficult to be fake all the time. As an author, you will be meeting your readers face to face before long, and they will soon be disappointed that the person behind the book is very different from the person standing in front of them. But if you are genuine, you’ll be more of what you’ve already shown in your writing. You will be able to connect better with your audience when face to face. Those that are drawn to who you authentically are will most likely also be drawn to your writing.

 

What I Learned From Writing My First Novel

Every writer blogs about writing, sharing all sorts of information pertaining to the entire process. Since I’m a newbie in the world of writers, I wondered what I could possibly say that hasn’t already been written at least a thousand times by authors who are more eloquent than I could ever hope to be. So I decided to share my personal experience in the process of writing my first novel.

When I started fullsizeoutput_19bbmy first draft, I only knew I wanted to tell a story. In reading blogs and books about writing, I discovered that most authors encourage writers to create an outline before starting the first draft. Did I heed that advice? No.

The other advice I had read was that the first draft should simply be written off the top of your head and don’t worry about editing any part of it. Just write it. It will be awful, but just keep writing. Get the story down on paper or on your computer screen. Did I do that? Yes. I wrote furiously
for months and months…and months. However, after over a year of writing, I dearly wished I had created an outline. It was hard to remember what I had written at the beginning of my draft. I think an outline would have kept me organized and on track. When I realized my mistake, I tried writing an outline over half-way through my first draft, but it was too little, too late. I still felt confused. I think this may have made my writing process a lot longer than it needed to be.

Once I finally completed my first draft, I began to fine tune it. This part was fun. The story began to take shape, and it looked and sounded like a real novel. The thesaurus became my second-best friend. It helped me find words to develop vivid imagery. My first-best friend was Google. It helped me with researching character names, scenery, history, locations, and any question that arose in the process of novel writing. (I’m currently learning how to use Pinterest to help with the research of my next book. Perhaps I’ll share about that in another post.)

While working on the third draft of my book, I read that most authors will read through their work at least eight times before publishing it. I was shocked! Eight times, really? After reading through my work for the fourth time, I sent it off to my editor and proofreaders. I gave it to them with excitement and trepidation. Would they like my work? Did I even have potential as a writer or was I just a dreamer? I tried to prepare myself not to be defensive and unwilling to accept constructive criticism, but I also hoped they wouldn’t find much to criticize in my work. Ha!

I have to say that the critique and revisions from my editor and proofreaders, as well as the words of encouragement, helped immensely. They were good suggestions. Their fresh eyes helped me see things in a new light. After that entire process, I re-read my work again…for the fifth time, or was it the sixth? It was hard to keep count at this point. You just do what you have to do until it feels right. I sent it to my proofreaders for a final look and received those revisions back. After, I corrected a few typographical errors, etc., I was ready to read through my book for the sixth or seventh time.

Looking ahead, I  realize that once I have my book formatted for printing and ebook publishing, I will need to read through the work again to make sure it formatted correctly. I believe that will bring me up to the eighth read-through of my novel. It seems these experienced writers — who are way ahead of me — really do know what they’re talking about.

I’m truly grateful for all the bloggers who are giving advice and sharing their personal experiences about writing, editing, publishing, and promoting. I’ve gained greater knowledge and understanding about the craft of writing from these experts, as well as from those who, like me, are starting out and simply sharing thoughts about their journey. The adventure of writing has stretched me further than I ever imagined and broadened my scope of knowledge of history, geography, vocabulary, etc. It’s been a great journey so far and I’m looking forward to starting the process all over again with my next novel, but this time I’ll start with an outline before beginning my first draft.

That’s Not What Ships Are For

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” ― William G.T. Shedd

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I was never one of the “cool” kids in elementary school. It wasn’t that I lacked friends, but I didn’t quite fit in either. After all, I wasn’t born in this country. My name sounded foreign at a time when every girl seemed to be named Debbie, Terry, or Joan. No one had the name Anneliese. I also grew faster than most students and stood at 5’6″ (my current height) by the age of twelve. Add to that the fact that my church considered slacks for women a sin since it was men’s clothing, so I wore dresses or skirts until the fourth grade when my church became more lenient on that issue. The first time I wore long pants to school, I thought my friends’ eyes were going to pop out. I wanted to crawl under a rock and be as inconspicuous as possible. It felt safest to be unnoticed by the crowd.

I’m glad I outgrew my fears — for the most part. Forcing myself out of my comfort zone to experience life, I stood on a platform and played my recorder solo at school. I stood on several platforms over the years for various reasons. With my young family, I moved to Germany for four years and integrated quite nicely. I faced each fear and overcame it. Interestingly enough, the things that caused the most fear, gave me the greatest sense of accomplishment afterwards.

I love the above quote by William G.T. Shedd. We were not created to simply exist. God gave each of us gifts, talents, interests, and passions to be used. It’s our responsibility to look for ways to develop them in order to better the lives of others.

I’ve written a historical romance that will soon be published. You may be asking, how can anyone benefit from a romance? If you don’t know the answer, you obviously are not a Christian romance reader. And that’s okay. We’re all different. Our interests vary. If reading Christian historical romances is not for you, you won’t like my book. And that doesn’t hurt my feelings. There are books I don’t like reading either. But to answer the question, when you pick up a romance, or any fiction, and begin to get lost in its pages, you enter another person’s world. You feel their pain and their triumphs, and you learn lessons along the way. I read a story once where the main character always saw the positive side to everything. She consistently believed for the best in people. I want to be like her. Books inspire me to become a better person. By writing a novel, I’ve once again stepped out of my comfort zone to embrace life, and I hope to encourage someone in some way.

Dear reader, what are you afraid of trying? Is there a gift you haven’t allowed yourself to develop because of your fears? Or perhaps you have faced your fears and are already reaping the benefits. I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment.

Why Not Start Now?

George Eliot said, “It’s never too late to start what you might have been.” I’ve taken this advice and have started a new phase of my life — writing. Not just any writing. I’ve done that. I’ve written hundreds of letters, kept journals, written articles for newsletters, and so on. But what I haven’t done is written the one thing that really interests me. A romance that helps to inspire, give hope, and hopefully even cause the reader to chuckle a bit. I’ve decided it’s time to finally begin.

I could make excuses. I’m certainly not young anymore, so why start now? I don’t understand all the modern technologies and apps. What if my friends laugh at me? How will I feel when I’m criticized? There are numerous excuses I could make, but what I can’t get away from is this. How will I feel at the end of my life if I haven’t pursued this dream?

If I live to be my parents’ age, I may still have 30 or more years of life ahead of me. What will I do with those years? Perhaps it’s time to start checking off items on my bucket list. One of the top items on that list is writing a Christian historical romance. And guess what? I did it! It’s not quite ready to be published yet, but soon — very soon. And I find my fingers are itching to begin the next book in the series.

I have only one regret about the entire book-writing process. I wish I had started sooner. But what I will never have to regret is to not have started at all.

Is there something you have dreamed of doing? Have you given up on it? Are you listening to the excuses in your head that tell you it’s too late? Hopefully this post will inspire you to allow courage to rise up in your heart. Begin dreaming again. But this time, make that dream come true.

“‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11 NASB