Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Clogging, Exercising, Marching and Sacrifice

A month has passed since my last post to the blog. It’s been a busy time. I’ve had four articles published in The Wake Weekly. Each article has been between 600-700 words. After doing the research and interviewing it’s hard for me to compress them down to less which is okay since they are feature articles. I find that I enjoy doing all of them because I always have information that I take away and I have the opportunity to meet and interview people I otherwise may not have met.

The article titled “Local Kids Revive Appalachian Heritage at the State Fair” was enjoyable. These were young children approximately ages 6-11 who were one of many ‘cloggers’ who performed at the State Fair. In this particular group were two families of siblings, one family had previous experience and the other family just started clogging this year. I had an opportunity to see a demonstration of their talent and how much they enjoyed learning this favorite form of dance that is a part of NC’s history. The State Fair competition is named for Bascum Lunsford who was instrumental in promoting this style of dance. You may enjoy watching a video of him on You Tube that was part of a documentary.

I also met three wonderful ladies who each battled breast cancer. They all participate in the Survivor Fit Program at the Wakefield Rex Wellness Center. Sue Gann brought this story to my attention. She is one of the instructors who works with cancer survivors to help them rebuild their strength and their well-being after weeks and months of cancer treatment. They were a hoot to meet and interview. Their positive attitudes and willingness to give their best in the program was an encouragement to me.

Another story was about a private Christian high school marching band from Raleigh, NC that received the People’s Choice Award and then gave it to a marching band from a city school in Savannah, Georgia that had impressed them during the competition. It brought together two groups of young students through a mutual respect for their particular instruments and marching skills.

Lastly I was given a special assignment for a Holiday Issue “Local military families learn to be flexible during the holidays.” I do not have family in the military but know friends with children, who have served, are serving and who have lost their loved ones in Iraq. We are reminded of the homeless and needy during Christmas. We don’t always think about the families who are separated from their soldier sons or daughters during the holidays when families gather or those with an empty seat at their dinner table this Christmas because of the ultimate sacrifice.

This is the time we celebrate the birth of Christ who lived and died so that we can have everlasting life. He is the one who gives us true hope and peace. I’m thankful for the opportunity to share the stories of others through my writing and to see how God is there in the midst of our lives. And now I have to get back to writing my article about Christmas Carols which is due tomorrow.

Merry Christmas!

“For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Connection Lost?

This morning I was pouring a cup of coffee in one of my many mugs. This mug has multiple shots of our granddaughter’s sweet smiling face. The mug is black and it’s not until you fill it with hot coffee or your hot beverage of choice that her photo is visible. It’s the heat of the liquid that activates the cup allowing the vision to be seen.
I was thinking how that is an analogy of our relationship with God. If I set aside time to spend with him it activates that line of communication if you will between me and the Lord. As soon as I connect I’m in his presence communing with him. But if I ignore him it’s like being in darkness. I’ve missed out on the joy of the day when I fail to activate my relationship just by calling on His name.
“The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18)
You would think after fifty plus years I could get this life thing down pat. I need constant reminding to do the thing I should do and to not do the thing I should not do. I was looking at some journal notes I wrote back in 1996 and I still struggle with the same issues. It’s not an excuse, but I guess it’s the sin nature of man. From the beginning of time we fail God, but he is always merciful and loves us anyway. For that I am grateful.
I’m learning more and more to include God in everything and try not to compartmentalize. I’m finding with writing that I can’t do it to the best of my ability without him leading the way. He’s the voice that encourages me and guides me if I include him in the journey. God wants our best in whatever we do. And our best will include Him.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Painting With Words

If painting has taught me one thing it is patience. I’ve been working on this oil painting since the first of the year. My wonderful art instructor, Lane Whitney promised I would learn so much from painting this ‘old world’ apple painting. And she was right. You must first draw the apples carefully measuring so they are in proportion. The painting is a series of layering the paint to achieve the effect you desire while showing light and dark values to create the depth of the apples. As you complete the layers the painting evolves into hopefully something that is pleasing to the eye. And for the artist it’s the satisfaction in completing a piece that you’ve poured yourself into.

Writing works much in the same way. If you do it well you will learn patience. Because you start with an idea or a mental picture of what you’d like to evoke to your reader. You must first build a picture which is compiled of the characters and the facts. Then you make sure the story has some depth and you begin layering the story so the reader is drawn into it and continues reading to get to the pinnacle of the story and hopefully evokes emotion that concludes it was an enjoyable experience. It’s the satisfaction of completing a well written story that others desire to read that encourages you to continue to improve and challenge yourself in the craft.

I was hoping to share in this post that a submission I made for a book of compiled stories had been accepted. But the dreaded email came, ‘rejected’. Actually I wasn’t as disappointed as I expected. I surprised myself that I felt peace at the results. I’d rather have something well written published than something that was mediocre. And in retrospect it could have been better written. Submitting a story is sometimes half the battle. I once took a writing class at a local college where the instructor had never submitted her writing for publication. When I asked why, she said she was fearful of rejection. If I’m going to be rejected let it be from a publisher not from myself from the beginning.

A couple of days after my rejection I was contacted by the interim editor/publisher of a local newspaper wanting to know if I’d like to do some freelance work for them. She offered two assigned stories if I’d like, but they would be due in two days. I thought it best to accept one because I didn’t think I could do both well in such a short span of time. I completed my first assignment and received payment for my story!

This journey of going from writing to seeking publication is truly a step of faith. But yet I sense I’m going where God is leading and until he tells me to make a U-turn I’ll trust him in my endeavors. So far the stories I’m doing have been about amazing people who are battling or have survived cancer and heart disease. I enjoy meeting people and everyone I’ve interviewed have been very nice. I was offered a choice of what to write and chose feature stories. The stories will be 400 – 700 words and if needed I will also be responsible for photos. So I get to work in two areas I enjoy. What a blessing to have this opportunity to practice my craft.

Friday, August 27, 2010

To Every Season Turn, Turn, Turn

I stepped outside this morning and I could not only smell it, I could feel it. It's the turning of the season. We're on the fringes of summer but the beginning of fall is calling out "make room for me and I'll cool your spirit". The breeze announces that the woods are more fragrant and the tune of their leaves deepen as they mature on the limb. The night air lingers into the morning saying goodbye to the summer heat and the birds find respite in the change of season.

Is your favorite season the one in which you were born? Coincidence or not I was born in October and fall is my favorite time of the year. Autumn is not a subtle season. You see it coming with the changing of the leaves; you hear it in the trees; and you feel it in the air. Fall brings memories of sitting in the bleachers as our son played football for six years, traveling to other towns around the state. Now our football games will be sitting together watching the Mountaineers play in the Kidd Brewer Stadium where fall comes earlier.

We were in the mountains last weekend moving our son to college once again; a season of life change. The air there was excitement. Excitement as the students returned to campus and anxious freshmen arriving for their first college experience. On Saturday we were walking on King Street with our son and his girlfriend to enjoy lunch together before our departure. I witnessed something that I wish I could do it justice in words but I'm not sure I can.

We parked our car and as we walked down the sidewalk about 20-25 feet away stood a slender young man just shy of 6' with his back towards us and his mom facing us in an embrace on the narrow sidewalk. The petite mother had to stretch upwards to hug her son. The patient dad was sitting in the driver’s seat of a late model F250 pickup with the passenger door open. As I looked closer tears were streaming down the mom’s face and her eyes shut as tight as the hold she had on her son. We walked past them and I had an urge to stop and tell them they would survive. The son, probably a freshman would soon fill his time with friends, activities and classes and mom would be lucky to get a phone call or an email. And mom would adjust and learn to let go by allowing him the space to become an adult. But I refrained, mostly because my husband and son were with me. :)

As we walked past they were still embracing oblivious to those around them. We were about 10 feet away and we all turned and looked back to see tears flowing down this young man’s face which made my son’s girlfriend and I both say “aawww” southern for isn’t that sweet! It was very moving. I didn’t cry when we left our son last year for his freshman year I saved my tears for home. And I dare say my son hasn’t cried over my departures since his daycare years. My tears hit me around Tuesday when I glanced at my son’s high school graduation photo on the refrigerator. It will take a few days before I’m ready to clean up his abandoned room because it still looks like he’s home or just gone for a few days. Enjoy the season you’re in!

Ecclesiastes 3:1 "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven"

Friday, August 13, 2010

Another World

If you grew up in the 60's you'd remember there was a soap opera by that name. I remember because my mom was a fan. To those in the mission field 'another world' could be China, Turkey or India. Our friends, the Croslands start their journey today to another world called Papau New Guinea. They are leaving SC and traveling with their five little ones on five different flights to get to their new home which will take a couple of days.

As their Gatekeepers we were able to spend some time with them and learn what their new life will be like in PNG where they will work for an organization that does translation. There are over 800 languages in PNG. Their oldest Mae, age 9 is very excited about moving and in four years I suspect she will have a few stories to tell. Did I mention that Mae is a writer? She writes their newsletter from the children's perspective which I enjoy reading.

I admire them for their adventuresome spirit and their spiritual faith as they exchange the comforts of living in the states for a modest home; a diet of kou kou (yam) and tropical fruit in a new country. They ask for prayers as they adjust and particularly for traveling with their five little children the youngest under 2.

Their faith has reminded me that I need to rely more on my faith in my writing or any endeavors. With the Lord leading me I know his way is better than my own. As a writer I have found other Christian writers to be the most encouraging and supportive to those of us just starting on the journey.

I'm reading "Writing for the Soul" by Jerry Jenkins whom I met at the Blue Ridge Conference. As a kid he had aspirations of becoming a professional baseball player. Because of injuries he turned to sports writing in high school and then for a local newspaper. He eventually published several biographies of sports figures as well as others before writing the infamous "Left Behind" series. He was a keynote speaker at the writers conference and I found him to be genuine and a humble man who has accomplished what other writers only dream about. Like the Crosland's he puts his faith in the Lord and follows His lead.

Make the best of the world you're given and follow the One who knows the Way!
(Flamingo Photo by Daphne)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Writing Lesson 101

My computer died back in May just days before attending the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. After months of fretting over whether to repair or buy new I finally ordered and received my desktop computer this week and now can easily access Internet and my photo collection to update this blog. My son graciously shared his laptop during the interim. Working on a laptop is like the time my church wanted me to switch from playing the piano to playing a digital keyboard. They sound similar but have a different feel. Desk top computers are more to my liking. But I’ve learned to appreciate the portable convenience of a laptop and convinced my husband to purchase a mini notebook for my use. On with writing lesson 101!

I was excited when my first story was in print in the local newspaper on July 22. Like any good writer I did my duty and supported the local economy by buying multiple copies :) The overall experience of my first publication was extremely good. I knew going in, the editor would possibly change the title and actually I liked his title better, “Running for a Higher Cause” which hinted at its spiritual connotation and was more fitting than “Volunteers Take the Heat”. Except for a couple of words the body of the article remained as written including my headings.

I sometimes prepare myself for disappointment but I don’t like disappointing others. I realized that space in newspapers are subject to change and the staff chose to use one photo versus two and therefore one of the young male runners photo would not make the issue. The lesson is never promise or indicate to someone their photo or quotations will be included because it is always subject to change.

I’ve learned that you must edit, edit and edit some more. It’s true that after you write your story; put it down for a day or two then you easily see needed revisions that appeared invisible at first. Your editor will thank you and not run the other way when you bring the next story or manuscript. My article was just under 800 words and I revised it about thirty or forty times as well as getting input from hubby. With experience I expect that revisions will be fewer but always necessary.

As an artist I view things from the camera's point of view or how my art would look on canvas to be most appreciated. As a writer I am training myself to write stories with a reader’s point of view to ‘show’ an angle that brings interest. The words should have balance and easily draw the reader into the story with appreciation for having spent their valuable time reading and come away with a positive emotion, a thought provoking experience or to be entertained.

Writing is an art that must be studied, developed and practiced by the writer to be appreciated by the reader.

Friday, July 16, 2010

First Submission Accepted-Yeh! God!

We have a saying in our church when God has provided a blessing, "Yeh...God!" Why are we surprised when God blesses? Perhaps because we set our expectations too low. I know sometimes I fail to ask God for something because I don't think I deserve it or think it's too insignificant or I'm just too independent trying to make things happen myself. Well, this is a Yeh...God! moment.

I had a goal to write a story and submit it. Other than that I hadn't thought beyond writing more things to submit. At the writer's conference you hear how long it takes most writers to have something published. Of course with a book I'm sure that's usually the case. I had read and had other writers say you should write articles, devotions and short stories to get your feet wet. When I attended the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference I submitted some devotionals for critique and I ended up sitting in a couple of workshops about writing articles and thought it was something I could do. Though my heart desired to write fiction I wanted to be open to what God was leading me to do.

I already knew when I returned from BRMCWC the first story I'd write and started doing research. Author, speaker Vonda Skelton talked about re-purposing your articles and initially I planned my article for magazine publication. I realized that because the article was specific to my town that I should at least submit it to the local newspaper. I knew this was a story I was familiar with and you hear often "write what you know".

This story would require interviewing so I purchased an inexpensive digital
recorder and gathered questions that I wanted answered. I stepped out of my comfort zone to interview people I knew and some I didn't. I had a nice camera and took about 100 photos at the week long event I was covering. After rewriting my story dozens of times and trying to incorporate the directives I learned at the conference I felt confident I had a good story that would be interesting to the readers and I had some great photo shots.

The local paper does not normally accept freelance stories, but I didn't let that stop me from submitting. I prepared a letter to the editor, attached a business card as a freelance writer and asked for some feedback even if they were not interested in using my article. I put the package together and drove to The Wake Weekly office and left it with one of the employees and simply said, "please give this to the editor". About a week later I followed up with an email to the editor to make sure he had received my package and he emailed back that he had and it was a well written story that they'd like to use along with 2 of the photos I had taken. My assignment was to give him the names of the two individuals of which I didn't have a clue.

I spent the next 4 hours running around town and making calls to find the name of these 2 individuals amongst 270 that attended the event. Not only was I able to get their names, I tracked one down to his home where I met the dad and got permission to use the photo and the other child I was able to speak to her mom who gave permission. I was trying to meet a deadline and God was there every step of the way. I've been told that the story should be in next week's edition and they have asked me to do some assigned writing if I'm interested as well as submitting future articles of my own. I'm humbled that my first attempt at submission has been fruitful and should be an encouragement to keep me writing. My article is just under 800 words and titled "Volunteers Take the Heat". I'm looking forward to seeing it in print and pray that I will always write stories/articles/devotions that are honoring to God.

My next goal is to complete the devotions that I had critiqued by The Upper Room- Associate Editor, Susan King and submit them!


Saturday, June 12, 2010

My Last Day as Chick Fil A Mascot

Okay, so maybe you didn't know that besides writing I've been working as a mascot at a local mall for Chick Fil A. Back in November, my husband suggested I find employment during the holidays and hopefully they would keep me after Christmas too. After searching for a year and a half for a secretarial job (old school)now known as Administrative Assistant without any luck I ran across an online ad for the Cow Mascot. I was determined someone would hire me and I thought being a mascot would be a fun job. I was right. You could compare it to being a clown where you entertain. I've entertained in the mall, at schools, YMCA's, Macys, Belks and marched during an ROTC Drill Competition to name a few.

At our store in Triangle Town Center I was given a cow handler. Which has been helpful fending off cow tippers and tail pullers. My handler is essential in getting me dressed and in emergencies like a recent episode where my fan batteries exploded while I was of all things working with the area fire departments for a mall event. I thought cow might have to "stop, drop and roll"! It's been 'my pleasure' spending time with children from ages 1-80, posing for impromptu photos, being Santa Cow, photo shoot with the Easter Bunny, marching with the drill team and meeting wonderful senior mall walkers. Though I prefer hiding my identity to those I'm entertaining, some are surprised to learn that there is a 55 yr. old female in that cow suit. Unfortunately that means my knees are the same age and part of the reason for me closing my act. Today I'm dressed as Fireman Cow promoting our new spicy sandwich which is delicious!

I tip my fireman hat to my friends at the TTC Chick Fil A store. To Rally De Leon, Owner Operator you've been an awesome employer and a shining light in the mall. To his sweet family thanks for helping me during events and mall walks. Thanks to the wonderful cow handlers who helped me with the heavy costume. A special thanks to Ashley our Marketing Manager who is such an upbeat and hard working young woman. You've been fun to work with and I look forward to joining you for coffee upstairs! I have a new appreciation for all the hard workers in the kitchen who hustle to prepare the quality product day in and day out. To the other managers, cashiers on staff, and food samplers you made it a joy to come to work. I will miss you all and I will miss being your COW!

I've sensed God encouraging me to pursue my writing and will now have more time and energy to concentrate on my goals in that arena. I will pursue publication of my devotionals and a devotional book along with freelance article writing.

Thanks Cow, it's been fun!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What I Did on Summer Vacation

Do you remember when you returned to school after having the summer off your teacher would have you write what you did on vacation. As a child we spent every Fourth of July week at Atlantic Beach in North Carolina. I have wonderful memories of many hours playing in the ocean, building sandcastles, going down to the boardwalk, riding the ferris wheel which was scary enough for me and eating seafood at the Sanitary Fish Market. I had been back from the writer's conference for about ten days when we left for the beach in Emerald Isle/Indian Beach for a week. I'm a beach girl at heart and have an outline for a book that will be placed in that familiar setting.

I had a great time with the family. Our son who is home from college was our tour guide. He came up with several trails for us to hike on, one of which I was afraid we would never find our way out. We also went to Hammock Beach Park and ferried over to Bear Island. I know they said we were not to take any vegetation or animals off the island. I didn't know it at the time, but the sand fleas were trying to escape the island and thought I would be a good mode of transportation. We were in the beautiful town of Beaufort later that day when I realized I had hundreds of bites on my legs and arms. But it was worth it to walk on the beach where my husband and I found about 15 sand dollars and other shells. There are no vehicles on the island, you can make reservations and bring a tent for overnight stay and they have bath facilities, just remember to use bug spray!

I had sometime to review my conference materials and plan for my current writing projects. I will focus on devotionals and some articles that I plan to submit for publication. The conference speakers shared a wealth of information that I'm still digesting. Recently I've been reading "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott. It's a very insightful book that was recommended when I took a college writing course a few years ago. And I heard through ACFW about Marlene Bagnull's bible study, "Write His Answer" and I'm working my way through that book.

Summer is a great time to visit your local bookstore or library and find a christian fiction book for hours of reading pleasure. Romance, historical, cozy mystery, chick lit or suspense are just a few to pick from. Some of my favorite authors are Susan May Warren, Karen Kingsbury, Kristin Billerbeck, Francine Rivers and you may like local author, Alice J. Wisler who currently has "Rain Song", "Sweet Tea" and soon to be released "Hatteras Girl" on the bookshelf. Christian Fiction makes a good gift too.

Hope you have a great summer vacation!

Friday, May 21, 2010

They Popped My Hood and Found Gravy on the Dipstick

So I've learned two important things at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference (of course much more) that you need a catchy title for your book/article etc. so hopefully, Todd Starnes, author of "They Popped My Hood and Found Gravy on the Dipstick" won't mind that I've titled my blog article with his book title. The other was that you need a hook to get the reader's attention. With a title like that I figured I could pass on the hook.

I can tell you that this is a great read and that you will not want to put the book down and it will make you feel better because you will be laughing. Todd was one of the keynote speakers at the conference. He is a southern boy, who moved west and then east to work as a reporter for Fox News in the big city. He is a great storyteller and if you have an opportunity to hear him speak you may discover he sounds a little like "Jimmy Stewart". For my readers who are younger, he was an actor from the 40-60's era.

Todd had open heart surgery while in his 30's, lost 150 pounds and ran the New York City Marathon. But more than that he has a love for the Lord and encouraged me to walk closer to him. You can get his book at Lifeway, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million etc.

I attended classes each day and enjoyed fellowship with others writers. At meal time we could sit with the faculty who each hosted a table. I had not planned to, but God opened the door for me to pitch a book idea to Literary Agent, Les Stobbe. He liked my idea and gave me some suggestions to make it more marketable. I had an appointment with Susan King, the Associate Editor for The Upper Room which went well. She gave me a thorough critique of my devotions that I had submitted weeks earlier and said that they were well written. She had suggestions that would make them more appropriate for their publication and encouraged me to submit them after incorporating her instructions.

Before the conference I had wanted to concentrate on my novel, but I believe God is telling me to work on my devotions and articles. Vonda Skelton, speaker and author taught a workshop on "How to Have Magazine Editors Calling YOU!" which gave me a new prospective on magazine articles. She is the author of "Bitsy and the Mystery at Hilton Head"

I will share about some of the other wonderful faculty and keynote speakers in other post including Jerry Jenkins, James Watkins, DiAnn Mills and Christian thriller author, Steven James who taught us the "Wisconsin Milk Cheer" ! Stay tuned.....

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Blue Ridge Conference Count Down

It's Mother's Day today. I was reminded in our morning service that anything we do we do unto the Lord and that includes all the motherly duties like washing clothes, fixing meals,running kids to doctor appointments to name a few. As a writer I'm reminded of how God can use me as his instrument through written word. While I'm not the breadwinner or the quarterback I guess you could say I'm an important part of the team. And at least I'm not sitting on the bench.

Our college son graciously cleaned house while I was at my part-time job yesterday and I am very grateful. It gave me some time to prepare for conference. BAD NEWS...my computer was attacked yesterday by what appears to be a virus and I had several things I needed to do before the conference. I decided I'm not going to stress about it because God is in control.

I submitted my material to the conference and did save copies just in case. Outside of the conference I've submitted a story for a book that will be published in Fall 2011. I will be contacted in September if it has been accepted. Actually I'm already looking forward to my rejection letter. Now I'm not being pessimistic. I know from other writers that rejections are how we learn and grow.

I took a writing class at a local college and I asked my professor if she had any of her writings published. And her response was "oh..no...I couldn't handle the rejection so I've never submitted anything for publication." I decided then that I would had least try even at the risk of getting rejected. My goal is to continue to submit smaller stories, articles and devotions until I complete my first book.

If possible I will try to blog about the conference next week and can't wait to tell you about my experiences. This will be my first trip to Ridgecrest near Asheville. Having just returned from Boone last week to pick up our son from college I'm already looking forward to the cooler mountain air. I will enjoy meeting other first time conference attendees,absorbing the knowledge of our speakers and sharing time of fellowship.

One week till conference!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Interview with Author and Writing Instructor, Janice Hanna Thompson

I became acquainted with Janice Thompson through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and have followed her career since 2006. She is the author of many books including, “It Had to Be You” Weddings by Bella Series, “Allegheny Hopes” (Pennsylvania) and “The Wedding Caper.” Below is an interview with Janice about her new writing course that is offered online.

Janice, could you tell us a little about your new venture?
Of course! Thanks for asking. On April 20th, 2010, I debuted my new writing course “Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer” at www.freelancewritingcourses.com. The sole purpose of this venture is to teach struggling freelance writers how to earn money with their writing. Here’s how it will work: students can purchase one lesson (for $24.95) or all ten (for $199). They don’t have to feel compelled to buy the whole package, though they will get a package price, if they do. Each lesson will include an audio file and a video power point presentation of me teaching the lesson (available with just a click of the mouse), a corresponding audio script, a downloadable worksheet, a bonus feature, and full access to the site’s forum, where I will meet with authors for some group mentoring (at designated times). Right now there are ten lessons, but eventually those ten lessons will become ten separate categories with multiple lessons in each. For example, the current lesson on magazine article writing will eventually have multiple other lessons underneath it—all meant to teach writers how to make money writing articles. People who take these courses will have the benefit of meeting other freelancers in the forum and can also chat with me about their projects. Best of all, the site will continually grow. New, fresh material will always be available. (I’ll be recording new lessons routinely.) I’m so excited, because I know that struggling freelancers can and will learn how to make money with their writing.

What prompted you to set off on this new adventure?
For years I’ve been writing novels and non-fiction books. I’ve been so blessed to have over fifty books published, as well as dozens of magazine articles and even a movie script. It’s been quite a ride. . .and it’s not ending anytime soon! I’m currently contracted through 2011. The longer I’m in this business, however, the more I’m aware of the basic need of the average freelance author to make “better” money. Sure, many of them eventually sell books. They get advances and royalties, (though, not often in the range they had hoped). As a full-time freelancer, I’ve faced this myself. Several years ago, I found myself hollering, “Where’s the money?” I made up my mind to find as many creative ways as I could to bring in money as a freelancer. I’ve learned so much since then, and want to share what I’ve learned with others, so that they can benefit, too.

Tell us a little about your own writing.
As I mentioned above, I’ve written just about everything! Most of my writing is for the Christian market, so my stories have a clear faith element. Lately I’ve been writing romantic comedies, (most recently the “Weddings by Bella” series), but I also enjoy writing mysteries, kid’s stories, historicals and more. I continue to write magazine articles, because they provide a great financial supplement. I’m also very excited about my many write-for-hire projects, because a huge chunk of my income comes from those. To learn more about my books visit my author site at www.janiceathompson.com. Books can be ordered directly from the site.

Why do you feel so strongly about stirring up the gifts?
There’s a scripture I love where the apostle Paul speaks to his young protégé, Timothy: “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (II Timothy 1:6 NIV) The King James version uses the words “stir up the gift” instead of “fan into flame the gift.” The idea is the same. Gifts need stirring and fanning. As a published author, I make it my goal to “stir the gifts” of those hoping to be published (or hoping to be published in more markets). I know that these lessons will stir people up. I could sense it as I recorded them. Changing lives. . .and encouraging writers. . .what could be better?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Meeting Beverly Lewis and Countdown to Conference

Last week I was invited by local author, Alice Wisler, who wrote “Rain Song” to attend a book signing by Beverly Lewis that was held at Cary's Page-Walker Arts & History Center. It was a pleasure to meet Mrs. Lewis who is a graceful, soft spoken lady and a successful writer of inspirational fiction. She is best known for her books about the Amish having been born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania herself. She shared about her experiences with the Amish and took questions from those attending the book signing. She released her newest book, “The Telling” which is the third in its series and I now have an autograph copy of her book and Alice’s book also. They both are published by Bethany House. It was a joy to meet Mrs. Lewis who is very encouraging to new writers and to meet her editor from Bethany House, Julie Klassen. Mrs. Lewis is also the author of the children’s series “Cul-de-Sac Kids”. To learn more about Durham author, Alice Wisler and her other books visit her blog. http://alicewisler.blogspot.com/.

Only 25 days till the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference at Ridgecrest. This will be my first experience at a writer’s conference. Last year there were about 350 attendees and many first timers like me. The conference was founded by Yvonne Lehman over 25 years ago and I plan to attend her continuing class “Beginning Novel Writing”. Some of the other faculty include; Jerry Jenkins-Co-author of the Left Behind Series, award winning author Deborah Raney, Les Stobbe-Literary Agent, Sue Brower-Executive Editor for Fiction at Zondervan, Christy Award Winner-Angela Hunt, Steven James-author of Thrillers and Suspense and Alton Gansky who is both a writer and Director of the BRMCWC. I have been perusing through all the classes being offered to narrow down the ones I should attend.

As conference attendees we are invited to enter the Conference Contest for unpublished writers. The categories are “Non-fiction books, Articles, Contemporary Fiction, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Thrillers, Women’s Fiction, Historicals, Romance/Romantic Suspense, Mainstream, Literary Novels, Young Adult Fiction, Children’s Books, Short Novels/Novellas, Devotionals, Play/Skits, Poetry, Bible Study and Visual Media.

I have submitted an entry in the Devotional category for the Contest and also for a Critique by Susan King, Assistant Editor of The Upper Room Magazine. I will be given a 15 minute appointment with Ms. King during the conference. I appreciate the opportunity for some feedback from someone with her experience. It will be a time of fellowship, learning, encouragement and time to worship through music and word. During lunch and dinner the faculty intermingles with attendees. Wednesday night will be the much anticipated Banquet and Awards Dinner. I know it will be a blessing to this NC native.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Easter Sunday Memories

Easter is one of those childhood memories that is forever etched in my little girl mind. Not because I thoroughly understood the depth of Easter at such a young age. But because it was a time of anticipation as our mother would take us shopping for our Easter clothes and that would become that year’s Sunday dress at least until the weather turned cold again or we outgrew it. As a child I didn’t recognize that we were poor. We had a roof over our head and food to eat, not in abundance but enough. Our four bedroom, one bath modest rental home was a few steps from the little white sided, bell towered Episcopal Church we attended and across the street from the factory lined houses. I had six sisters, but Joy and I were two years apart and about the same size. So mom would dress us identically as if we were twins.

I remember the excitement of getting my very own, not hand-me-down black patent leather shoes. I would hold them up to check out the scuff free shine inhaling the smell of the patent leather. And I would receive a fresh new pair of white lace top socks. It was a thrill to slide my feet into those smooth lined never worn shoes that felt like I could float away. And the crown jewel was the new dress with its pink flowered print chiffon layered over sateen with a satin ribbon sash that made me feel like a princess. Underneath was a new crinoline slip that invoked little girl twirls. And we picked out color coordinated hats to accompany our dress along with white gloves.

I’m sure our parents sacrificed to provide such finery. We got to wear our new outfits first at the sunrise service; never complaining of being cold for fear mom would make us wear our worn out wool coat dampening the experience and then for Sunday School followed by the eleven o’clock service that ended with an Easter Egg hunt on the church grounds. We would walk back home and count our Easter eggs to see who found the most and receive our annual milk chocolate bunny in our basket. Dad would give each of us a live furry yellow baby chick that we kept for a while until it got too big and then dad would return them to the farmer down the road if it survived our handling.

Over the years I began to understand that Easter was more about the celebration of our risen Lord than new clothes or sugary colored eggs. And more importantly as a believer I understood the true sacrifice Jesus made in order that we can each celebrate this Easter.

Please leave a comment if you'd like to share a special Easter memory.

2"And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it…." 6"He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come; see the place where He was lying." Matthew28:2&6

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Let the Journey Begin

Welcome to my blog where I will share my journey as a writer and about others who are traveling with me and some who have already arrived at their destination. I became a fan of Christian Fiction years ago when a teacher friend gave me a book by Janette Oke. I loved reading as a kid and would go to the town library and devour books that fed my imagination. And then life happened and I set that joy aside. Thanks to Mrs. Payne for sharing Christian Fiction with me many years ago. I did not know it even existed. I must have read that 4 book series in about two weeks! I heard about this "Jan Karon" and picked up her books thoroughly enjoying the town of Mitford and Father Tim. I also read the "Left Behind" series which was a little heavier reading than the others.

It was when I discovered Susan May Warren and read her "Happily Ever After" that planted a seed that perhaps I could write fiction that would inspire others. Susan encouraged me in writing and suggested I join ACFW which was the best advice for a newbie. ACFW has a great support group and the members are always encouraging to those of us who are just beginning. They understand how long and hard the journey can be and are there to cheer you on.

I began to read books by other authors; Deborah Raney, Karen Kingsbury, Catherine Palmer and many more to learn about my craft. Utilizing the ACFW Loops/Courses have been helpful. And now I'm finally ready to attend my first writer's Conference. The ACFW Conference is held annually but usually in the midwest. But right at my backdoor is another great conference the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer's Conference. This will be an awesome learning experience and I will use this blog to share my experience. Thanks for joining me!

Daphne Woodall

"Commit your works to the Lord, And your thoughts will be established." Prov. 16:3