Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bucket of Memories

Today was a designated day for reorganizing kitchen cabinets.  It's a basic chore that we all have to do from time to time. Over the last 38 years of my married life it was more likely to happen when we were moving out of one home into another.  My husband and I are officially ‘empty nesters’ and I thought it time to clear out all the things we don’t need, don’t use or just needed to be thrown away.
I climbed on the stool to reach high over the stove and removed the bucket.  Before I opened the lid I remembered that this white 1 ½ qt. metal bucket was a birthday gift one year from a co-worker.  I think it was filled with specialty popcorn and has birthday greetings on the side.  I had re-purposed as I often do and determined it was potential fire and waterproof (some what) and thus used it to put in receipts that may come in handy one day when my insurance company may ask for proof of personal items in the event of a claim.

Don’t roll your eyes, yet!  I worked for an insurance company for 15 years and have some knowledge of claim procedures.  I have been accused of being a ‘what-if’ this happens person.  (fires/hurricanes do happen) I’ve come to learn that it takes a ‘what-if’ attitude to be a good fiction writer.  It shows imagination. Can I get an Amen? Ends up the bucket did a good job of protecting my receipts some dating as far back as 1983.  Though I don’t think it would work today because they’re using disappearing ink on receipts these days. 
Those receipts were like looking in an old photo album conjuring memories of years past.  One receipt from Brendles, a chain store that carried anything from jewelry to small appliances was dated December 1989 when I purchased Barbie dolls for our then nine-year old daughter.  Maybe I should have invested in Mattel stock as Barbies that cost 9.99 in 1989 now cost 24.99.  I just recently passed those 24 year old dolls to her daughter and our five-year old granddaughter.  Time does fly.

One receipt caught my attention as it was dated October 18, 1997.  That was my birthday which normally would be a celebratory day.  When I looked closer the receipt was for an item marked ‘Urn’ and I remembered that Saturday because I would have been spending the day at my parent’s having a delicious meal and birthday cake that my step mom always prepared. Instead I was shopping for an urn in which to place my dad’s ashes whose life had ended abruptly.
Another receipt from Carolina Custom Golf dated July 23, 1988 was for Lady Max Dunlop Golf Clubs.  This was my first decent set of clubs that I enjoyed when I was on the Ladies Golf Team at work.  We played nine holes every Thursday after work weather permitting.  It was a great way to relax and get in some exercise with friends.  I was not as good as the more seasoned members but I did improve over the years.  Some of those on the team have since graduated to a heavenly course.  I still enjoy playing golf with my husband and hope to do more after he retires.

There is a receipt for a Howard Miller mantel clock I purchased for my husband for Christmas of 1996 from Classical Clocks.  I was so excited to give him this clock which was a little extravagant for our budget at the time.   It’s just a battery operated clock but with nice woodwork.  A few years ago the chime started getting crackly and I put it on a top shelf and just pulled it out last week determined to take it to the local clock store for repair.
And lastly was one receipt dated July 24, 1996 when I purchased school clothes for our son who was starting kindergarten at a local Christian Academy.  He is our youngest and last to leave the nest.  He is six-foot tall, beard-growing, college graduate, handsome young man living just 3 miles from the hospital where he made his debut. Where have you found unexpected memories?

(You still have time to win a copy of  the book "God's Provision in Tough Times" just leave me a comment on my blog by 9-25-13.)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

God's Provision

Fall is just around the corner. And I eagerly await the beauty of the fall leaves, the brisk morning air and how the woods around our home take on a distinct woodsy scent of the season. There's also ACC Football to enjoy with lots of rivalry in my area. Or more local, high school football. If I'm fortunate perhaps a trip to the mountains which parades the season's glory from their valley to the highest peak for all to see. Soon neighbors will be displaying their fall regalia of pumpkins, colorful door wreaths and Halloween décor.  It's a season that passes much too soon for me. 

As we enjoy the season it may not be a joyful season for others.  You probably know someone who has lost a loved one, dealing with a sickness, wondering how they will provide food for their families, battling depression, a marriage that needs healing or just needs to know someone cares.  So as you view God's beauty be open to how you can share your bounty, a kind word, donate to a local food pantry or take time to write a note to encourage. Be open to share the 'joy' that is in you and how they can have true joy even in tough times.

You may know others who are going through tough financial times or are unemployed. May I recommend a book that you can share with someone who needs encouragement or for yourself.  "God's Provision in Tough Times" is 25 personal true stories written by others who have struggled in times of financial and unemployment crisis. Some are award winning authors in their genre. Whether struggles are in those areas or some other area the reader will gain an appreciation for the vulnerability as each person shares from their heart that life has not always been rosy.

We all have or will have valley moments. This book shares hope and how faith got them through times of despair that we all encounter at some time in our life. This book is written from a Christian worldview.  Cynthia Howerter and La-Tan Roland Murphy have done a wonderful job compiling stories that include their own struggles. This is an encouraging book for anyone and especially those who may be struggling during this time of high unemployment.  This book is available at Amazon.com and CBD.com
And you have an opportunity to win a FREE COPY of  "God's Provision in Tough Times".  Just leave a comment here in response to "God's Provision" posting and you will be entered in the drawing.  I will select one name from those who respond. (one response per person) You have until September 25th to be entered.  If you become a new 'follower member' of my blog and write a response I will enter your name twice. I will post the winner after the 25th on my blog.

So pull out your sweaters, put away your flip flops and enjoy God's gift of the season.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blue Ridge in 2013

Have you dreamed of writing to publish but didn’t know where to begin?  My journey began in 2006 by reading about the craft of writing.   The internet is a great resource of information.  I researched and found endless websites about writing, books on writing and blogs about writing from writers or those in the publishing industry.  Besides reading about the craft you can join national and local writing associations.  My interest was writing Christian Fiction so I joined ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). And I highly recommend ACFW as it is inexpensive and an invaluable resource.

Through ACFW and conversation with author, Susan May Warren it became apparent the next step was to attend a writer’s conference.  I was thankful to find there was a great conference right in my own state.  I attended Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference in 2010.  I read information about what to expect at writing conferences and how to prepare.  Who would have thought there were etiquette rules to attending a writing conference?  For example, don’t pitch your novel idea to an agent who has retreated to the rest room.  I would assume that is just plain good manners but apparently some anxious writers have been so bold!
Last year’s conference was special because my favorite author and mentor Susan May Warren traveled from the midwest to teach at the conference. So fast forward four years to my third Blue Ridge Conference experience which was in May. I blogged about the conference last year but will recap a few things.  You arrive on Sunday and check in.  For newbies they offer a tour of the facility which helps you to get acclimated to your surroundings.  And because it is in the mountains you want to wear comfortable shoes.  I probably put in a few miles that week walking between the classes, meals and our residence.
You have sessions as a group that include introduction of the faculty, announcements, worship time and speakers ending the week with a banquet where awards are given for submitted works. The hardest decision is which classes to attend. They have about 25 classes going on at one time and they are repeated throughout the week.  There are also continuing classes where you attend each day at the same time with the same instructor. There could be anywhere from 5-25 students in a class.  Depending on where you are in your writing career may determine what classes you want to take.  The conference also covers many genres of writing.  Some attend to learn how to write articles, devotionals, Sunday School curriculum, homeschool curriculum, fiction, non-fiction, poetry or screen writing. 
The first year on the spur of the moment I took two classes on writing articles which led to me writing feature stories for my local newspaper when they accepted my first story.  So you never know where your writing journey will take you.  This year I found that I was more comfortable and less intimated with my conference experience.  I felt more focused and gleaned a lot of information to pour over until next year’s conference. 
It was great to connect with friends that I met previously and make new acquaintances.  It’s also rewarding to see how others have progressed through their writing journey to publication.  It’s an encouragement to see others grow and to celebrate with them.  One such person was Lisa Carter, who I met in 2010. She has two books coming out this year. Check out the book trailer for “Carolina Reckoning” at LisaCarterAuthor.com  which debuts this month. Lisa also has several events in the area; Barnes & Noble (Cary Commons), Tues. Aug. 20 @ 7 PM in Cary, NC and at the Lifeway Store on Capital Blvd. in Raleigh, NC on Aug. 31 from 11-1 PM.
Another friend Cynthia Howerter, I met at the conference in 2010 co-wrote with La Tan Murphy “God's Provision in Tough Times” 25 True Stories of God’s Provision During Unemployment and Financial Despair which was just released. The stories are written by several people I’ve met at Blue Ridge of which some are faculty. My long-time friend and writing buddy Felicia Bridges also contributed her own story in this book. The book is available at Amazon and CBD.  I will post a review soon.
May you find Words that Inspire!
(The photo above was taken at the banquet with Dr. Dennis Hensley of Taylor University. I had the privilege of attending his classes.  He’s a prolific writer, teacher, awesome speaker and an Army Veteran who served his country in Vietnam.)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Stay Tuned

I apologize for being away. It's hard to believe that over a year has passed since I updated my writing activity. That's partly because there was not much activity. I've been away working full time as a Circulation Manager for a newspaper and the last year I was caring for my sister who battled cancer. She lost that battle in November.

I'm now self-employed by choice and no more hour commute to work. Not that I'm generating income at this point, but I am working on my novel and some other small projects. And as I've learned it's a long and slow process to publication. This will be a short update and the next post I'll let you know all about my third year attending the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference this May. I will also share next time about some of my friends who have debuted their books.

May you find Words that Inspire!

Daphne Woodall