Saturday, August 20, 2011

Shore to shore

I wish I could say that things are happening in my writing world. Except for spending some time going over a few chapters of my WIP (work in progress) I have done very little writing. Life has kept me busy. I started a full time job with the Biblical Recorder as their Circulation Manager in May. Does that count for writing? Okay, I know the answer. It is interesting to see a different side of writing; that is publication and what it takes to produce the end product and distribute it. I’m enjoying the work and hopefully things will settle down and I can get back to writing.

It was nice to have our son home from college for the summer and once again hear his acoustical guitar come alive as he enjoys creating his own music. The month of July my husband took 3 weeks off from his pharmacy job to travel to Papua New Guinea for his first international mission trip. It was a trip of faith on his part to go and mine to survive without him here. The four days of travel were tiring as he hopped across four countries. The experience gave him a new insight into the lives of missionary families.

He took this trip to visit the Crosland Family in Madang whom we support through Wycliffe and are just completing their first year in PNG. Join their page and learn what life is like in PNG. They are doing a giveaway to celebrate their first year. Read on their blog how you can be eligible.

While Gene was there he participated in doing construction of an addition to their home to accommodate their family and soon the baby that will arrive to join them. They will be traveling to Australia to await the birth and then return to the mission field. Gene got to experience life there, meet the nationals, make friends, enjoy lots of fresh picked fruit, snorkeling, share his faith and minister to our friends. We both appreciate the prayers and financial support of the faithful during his time of preparation and while there.

I have to mention one national (Papua New Guinean) named Talad that he worked alongside during his stay. He connected with him and they soon became friends and Talad attempted to teach a ‘southerner’ some of their native language Tok Pisin. Talad works at the (POC) Pacific Orientation Course which is the Wycliffe Center in PNG for orienting new missionaries. I will post a photo of Talad in front of his modest bamboo house he is building for his family. He was proud to show it to Gene. He still has much to do including adding a thatch roof.

God also coincidently used Gene when someone learned of his upcoming trip and knew of a missionary friend serving in the mountain region of Ukarumpa who was in need of her next year’s supply of MS drugs. There were many concerns with the space to transport and the fact that refrigeration was needed for the drugs. But God handled the timing, provided knowledgeable people for advice, took care of the details and used it as an instrument for sharing his journey as he traveled from airport to airport. The medication survived the endless hours of travel and was safely delivered to the missionary teacher. Gene said that witnessing firsthand how Matt and Tiffany so graciously minister to the nationals was truly inspiring and gave him a new perspective as he evaluates how he serves others.

Thanks for allowing me to share and the opportunity to put pen in hand once again or shall I say stroke the keyboard. Write On!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Dancing with the Bride

It looks like warm weather is here to stay. Two weeks ago it made its way with a bang as tornadoes stirred all around causing significant damage and loss of lives in our area. But our damage seemed mild compared to the ones that struck Alabama last week. You realize how fragile our earthly life can be and to be thankful for the grace of God during all storms of life.

Last evening we had the pleasure of attending the wedding of our neighbor friend’s daughter, Megan. She is an attractive young woman, not shy but feisty. Her grandfather shared with me that they thought that day would never come for her. For Megan has been in a wheel chair all her life. But she hasn’t let that keep her from living. She’s attended school and college. And has led an active life supported by her family and friends who were in attendance at this special ceremony which was held outside on the grounds of an old plantation. She was beautiful in her wedding dress with her groom beside her surrounded by smiling bridesmaids. The minister, a family relative, conducted the service with words that applied to everyone whether just married or celebrating 50 years of marriage. He shared simple suggestions for keeping your marriage healthy and alive.

One particular moment during the evening that touched my heart was the Bride and Groom dance followed by the Bride and Dad dance. Megan gracefully maneuvered her wheel chair with circles and turns while holding her groom’s hands as they danced to the music across the parquet flooring. I watched as she kept her eye on her groom using the force of inertia through the strength of her arms allowing her wheels to turn in the desired direction. It was better than any ‘Dancing with the Stars’ performance that I’ve seen.

During the reception my husband and I sat with our neighbors. Because our homes all sit on acres of land we had not had the opportunity to meet some of them. One of the families lost their 23 year old son while serving in Iraq last year. I took the opportunity to thank them for their son’s service to our country and to share condolences in their loss. This proud dad talked about his son but it was apparent his grief was still too fresh. I regretted that I had caused his pain to resurface. I turned the conversation to less personal topics and by the end of the evening we felt that we gotten acquainted and made new friends.

In the last year I’ve been searching for a job. I was called for an interview this past week for a position that I had recently applied. At this point in life I don’t get very nervous doing interviews and I know God is in control. This would be an opportunity to work for a Christian publication and a great organization. So as scripture says in Isaiah 40:31 – “Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” (NAS).

I’m thankful for the wisdom of God’s word and how it applies to life past, life present and life future.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

True Confessions of a Spelling Snob

I guess you could say I’m a spelling snob. When reading materials misspelled words tend to pop out to me and can linger into the next page or two until I missed what the person was writing because I was wondering how they could misspell a simple word. I always enjoyed spelling test in school maybe because it came easily to me. But I never could understand diagraming sentences and tend to write based on a gut feeling of whether something sounds right or not. No doubt, editors probably love to work with authors who are English majors instead of someone with an art background.

I was watching a news program the other day and they were covering a story about the violence that was threatening neighboring US borders and the news line caption on the screen spelled it “US boarders.” I’ve noticed that misspelling is more prevalent in the media. With texting the new social fad in which abbreviations are common place for conversation via iPhones, Smartphones and BlackBerrys. I fear misspelling will only increase with each new generation. I remember when our 30 year old was in elementary school they used a computer program to teach them to read by sounding out the words. But they didn’t have to spell correctly. It was more about writing how it sounds. Now this drove me crazy.

Had society gotten too lazy to learn how to spell or was it part of the plan that pushed self-esteem over correctness? Were we so eager for kids to learn to read that it didn’t matter if they learned correctly? And this is the generation that is climbing the corporate ladders of major companies, government entities and public education. Thankfully Spelling Bees encourage our young students the importance of spelling and expanding their vocabulary. Vocabulary is an area that I need to work on. You can sign up to receive an email with the ‘word of the day’. ( As writers we always have room for more words!

As a freelance writer I write feature stories for a local newspaper. I learned that writing a 700 word article wasn’t as simple as I thought. I end up doing numerous rewrites before I get to the final product. And I fear I will send an article to the editor or write this blog with some embarrassing mistake that I didn’t catch. As I’ve learned you can’t get better without practice. So that’s what keeps me writing. I hope as I improve it will come easier. I see that AARP offers a National Spelling Bee for seniors age 50 or older. The winning word for last year: k-e-r-a-t-o-m-i-l-e-u-s-i-s. Would anyone care to join me June 18th in Cheyenne, Wyoming?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Stranded with Nicholas Sparks in a snow storm

You’ve heard the question “If you were on a deserted island and could pick someone to be there with you, whom would you pick” or another question “what three items would you want to have with you?” I’d like to change the scenario to “if there were a big snow storm (can you relate) and you were on the highway and had to be stranded at a nearby exit where there were stores what location would you pick if you knew you had to be there for up to a week?

I would pick the local chain bookstore and can think of a hundred reasons starting with the fact that they usually have a coffee bar. I like my mocha latte but give me a regular coffee with plenty of sugar and cream and I’m good to go. It’s a ritual at my house, nothing starts until hubby and I have our coffee. Most days that means 6 a.m. we’re drinking coffee and watching our favorite news channel. For hunger pains during those stranded days the bookstore café has a selection of sweet breads on hand.

It goes without saying that a bathroom for handling necessities and water to wash when needed is a plus. I’m not above washing my hair in public and somewhere in my bottomless purse there is a shampoo sample and I may even find a toothbrush along with breath mints. Now you know why men want to be stranded with a woman on the island because she has a purse with all the amenities. As far as exercise while I’m cooped up amidst volumes of books there are plenty of aisles to walk while I’m away from the gym. I may choose to clear the children’s storybook corner and start an exercise class with in-store exercise videos or tapes from the music section to relieve everyone’s stress on our island bookstore.

I could spend endless hours in the bookstore because I enjoy so many different types of written works. I love classics by Hemingway, Wolfe, Steinbeck and so many that I have yet to read. And then there are the hundreds of contemporary authors of fiction that I enjoy reading including several Tarheel authors like Charles Frazier, Jan Karon, Kaye Gibbons, Tim McLaurin and a favorite Nicholas Sparks. I’d settle down in one of the cushioned chairs with Nick’s newest release Safe Haven.

And I have a selection of preferred inspirational fiction writers like Janette Oke, Karen Kingsbury, Vonda Skelton, DiAnn Mills, Francine Rivers, Jerry Jenkins, Deborah Raney, Susan May Warren, Denise Hunter, Mary DeMuth, Eva Everson and Yvonne Lehman also a NC author. And this is the short list. So being stranded in the bookstore would not be too bad with these friends to keep me company.

I maintain a bookshelf at home full of books on hand to read and as reference material when doing writing assignments. I just can’t find enough time to read between my responsibilities, writing and other interest. This snow adventure will clear my calendar.

I’d sashay over to the Garden and Landscape section planning out my southern spring garden and dreaming of warmer days. I would search for some invincible plants that the resident deer detest and some project ideas for hubby to add to his ‘to-do list’. And you might find me camped out in the Cookbook aisle with Paula Deen or Rachael Ray until the supply of pastries were emptied from the coffee café. Then I’d steer clear of food pictures.

I would peruse the Historical section for books about the Victorian era, NC history, WW II, the writers of the Constitution, books on famous people like DaVinci, Monet, Thomas Jefferson, Sir Walter Raleigh, Frank Lloyd Wright and the Vanderbilts. And I could spend a few evenings reading the latest magazines like Writer’s Digest, Southern Living, Our State, Salt Water Sportsman and Coastal Living and then stack them for a make-shift pillow as I settle in for the night.

I hope the power stays own. I think I smell the coffee beans brewing now.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Book of the Year

A new year brings new resolutions and a year of hope. You hope the economy will be better. You hope you’ll graduate. You hope you’ll find a job. You hope your marriage will be better. You hope your loved one will survive cancer. You hope your faith will keep you going. You hope you’ll lose weight. You hope you’ll write that book. You hope you’ll find that special person. The question is in whom do you have hope? If in man, you will be disappointed. But God is the true hope.

“Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom; in vain they rush about,heaping up wealth without knowing whose it will finally be. But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you. Save me from all my transgressions; do not make me the scorn of fools” (Psalm 39:6-8 NIV)

“Surely they intend to topple me from my lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse. Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 62:4-6 NIV)

In obedience to God the words of the Bible were written down so that others would know God. There are thousands of books written each year and that may be an understatement. But I can’t think of a book more important to put at the top of your reading list this year than the Bible. It is by far the most published book since Gutenberg invented the printing press. It has been printed in thousands of languages, studied by scholars and those of simple education. People have lost their lives because they value God’s inspired word but many more lives have been saved because of those words.

As a writer it is humbling to think that someone would find value in what you have written. We can only hope that our words are God inspired and do our very best at the craft of writing whether it is fiction, non-fiction, poems, scripts or songs. Quality writing is not meant for the faint of heart or the lazy. And it requires the help of many such as editors, agents, publishers, critique groups, family and friends to get to the point of publication. I say thanks to the writers and those in the industry who have shared their struggles, their knowledge and their faith in helping me to become a better writer.