Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cottonwood Whispers

I love writing a series.

Now that I know these characters so well, working on the third installment of life with Jessilyn and Gemma is like writing about great friends. The third book, tentatively titled Catching Moondrops, will take place three years after Cottonwood Whispers; seven years after we first meet the Lassiters in Fireflies In December.

But having just received the preliminary cover for Cottonwood Whispers, I'm so excited about that book right now. Tyndale has yet again produced an amazing scene to set the tone for the story. As soon as I can, I'll post the cover here so everyone can get a look.

Just to whet your appetite for Cottonwood Whispers, I'll tell you that this book also focuses on prejudice... but it's prejudice of a different kind. It will tell the story of quick assumptions and false accusations; of how easily people can believe something without exploring justification. And it will tell the story of true sacrificial love and pure faith in God's sovereignty.

And, of course, it will continue the story of Jessilyn and Luke... the relationship everyone keeps asking me about! No hints about what happens here, though. Mark your calendars for September when you can journey back to Calloway and find out firsthand.

P.S. I've finally given in and joined Facebook. I have a profile as well as a page. The page is dedicated to the books with discussions and latest news. Stop by either and say hello!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Follow The Blinking Cursor

This time of year drives me crazy. One day it's hot, the next it's cold. It's sunny at noon, rainy at one. I can't figure out whether I should wear a sweater or short sleeves. The weather is so fickle.

And so am I.

I can't figure out if I want to work on fiction, tinker with the blog, fiddle with the website... or just go shopping. My brain is in squirrel mode, skittering back and forth with no clear direction, driving me crazy as I sit behind the wheel trying to navigate my attention.

In most other things I do, a little discipline would go a long way in such a situation. I'd wrangle my attention span, force myself to focus, and fight through the jitters that make me want to hop up and switch projects every ten minutes.

But writing is a different sort of occupation altogether because it takes creativity, and creativity is tough to manufacture even with a boat load of discipline. And when creativity takes a holiday, I end up sitting in front of the screen mesmerized by a blinking cursor.

I figure somewhere out there, in these crazy mixed-up days, there must be some inspiration. The world was created by an amazing God. There's always amazing products of His creativity out there somewhere, right? So it's up to me to open my eyes to the little things, to see all the intricate aspects that make up the big picture. It's time to let my wandering focus run around outside for a little recess so I can pick up some ideas to cure my writers block.

Even if it has to wear layers.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Releasing The Butterflies

I recently had the honor of speaking to the Richmond Christians Who Write writers group, and I truly enjoyed every second of it. There were plenty of nerves going into my first public speaking situation since senior year of high school, but they made me feel completely at home.

One of the first things someone said to me about my new career once I won the contest was, "I hope you enjoy public speaking" to which I replied, "No! I don't." Right then and there I started to worry about the future possibilities of being a published author. What in the world would I be expected to do now?

The answer is radio and television interviews, speaking engagements, web chats, public appearances... the list is long. But the amazing thing is, I haven't been incapacitated by fear yet. In fact, the Lord has prepared me and helped me through each and every "first". I have by no means been perfect, but I've survived and accomplished my tasks.

Knowing that He wants what's best for us can realease those butterflies that keep us bound up when facing a new experience. It doesn't mean we never get nervous. I do! But I know where to go with that nervousness now, and I know I can trust him to get me through. All I have to do is turn my fears over to the Lord and ask Him to put things in perspective for me, helping me to do the job He wants me to do.

It doesn't matter what kind of life we lead, what sort of endeavors we undertake; we are all faced with new experiences on a daily basis. The wonderful thing about knowing Christ as Lord and Savior means not having to fear them. "Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love" (1 John 4:18).

In this crazy, uncertain world there's nothing better than knowing we can face it with courage, trusting that the Creator of all of it is in control. Whatever new experiences He holds for you are there for a purpose.

And trusting in His perfect love can wipe the fear away.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Don't Forget To Drop By...

the Dancing Word web chat on St. Patrick's Day at 9pm EST. I hope to see you there!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Out Of Focus

It just occurred to me today that I've let my focus stray, that I've forgotten to recognize uncomfortable circumstances as chances to grow. And the primary reason I've done that is because I've let my focus veer back to myself. "I'm tired, I'm overwhelmed, I'm frustrated, I'm nervous" - those are the thoughts that keep going through my head.

And really, I think it's fine to recognize how we're feeling. The Lord walked the very same earth. He knows the frustrations of being human and He understands. But the point of experiencing these things is to learn to take them to Him and let Him use these times to help us grow and become better than we were before. If we simply wallow in how we feel, we miss the point entirely. And useless wallowing is such a pointless waste of time.

But it's cold and rainy here, the perfect weather for wallowing. In fact, the word "wallow" should be included in the weather report: Overcast with a chance of rain, high probability of wallowing. Now, I'd really rather be shopping than wallowing, but since it's wet and cold, and I'm on a budget, I'm stuck at home having a battle with the blues. But in the whole scheme of things, it's a battle I most definitely should win.

Just a few days ago, I caught a little bit of the film version of The Hiding Place, and I got a huge dose of humility. The very idea of living the life of Corrie Ten Boom, along with the masses of people who suffered so greatly during the Holocaust, was overpowering to say the least. Here I am sitting in safe, comfortable shelter, watching a TV, able to do and say as I please. But there on the screen were examples of people who lost all of what we take for granted and still managed to not only keep their belief in their loving God but to cling to Him as their reason for living.

Needless to say, my "sad" story pales in comparison. It doesn't mean that I can't feel bad sometimes. We all do. But it's what I choose to do with those feelings that's important. Am I going to hang on to them, throw a pity party and gain ten pounds courtesy of Ben and Jerry? Or am I going to use those moments to remember the ways that I am blessed and run to the Lord who is so infinitely able to take all my burdens and replace them with His peace and His joy?

I guess it's really an act of will, isn't it? Somewhere along the way I have to stop letting life get me down and start letting the Lord life me up. And it starts with me taking Him up on His amazing offer: "Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light" (Matthew 11:29, 30).

So hold me accountable. This is the day that I start making a determined effort to focus on Him, not on me, and not on circumstances. Every time my thoughts stray, I need to pull them back to the Lord. And hopefully, before I know it, it'll become habitual for me to be cognizant of what life is all about.


Check out Lori Roeleveld's blog for an uplifting post about a similar subject.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Springing Forward

It was great to find out this week that Missy Frye was kind enough to pass along her Premio Dardos award (for her blog, Incurable Disease Of Writing) to me.

What’s the Premio Dardos Award?

Premio Dardos means “prize darts” in Spanish. It is given for recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing.

Thanks, Missy!

Today is a gorgeous day- warm and a little breezy - which makes my editing process so difficult. I've opened up my windows to let a little of the outside in, and I'm loving it! But this kind of weather can go two ways for me: it can help my creativity or make my mind wander to what I'd enjoy doing outside. But seeing as how all of the past week was spent with snow on the ground, a bit of warm weather can help me wrap my mind around Jessilyn's world since the second book takes place in the summer.

And when it comes down to it, I really do enjoy editing. On each book, editing is the first time I get to work in tandem with someone. Otherwise, it's a very solitary job. So, since I have a terrific editor who really understands my writing and my characters, this process is something I look forward to and have a lot of fun with. But it is a lot of work in a small period of time, so I pray daily for inspiration and creativity - two things that don't always choose to show up on my radar when I need them to.

Once I'm through with edits for Cottonwood Whispers, I'll be moving into the writing process for the third book, and I'm looking forward to it. It will be fun to see where Jessilyn and Gemma go next, and since I write on the fly, I won't know where that will be until the book develops.

I wanted to send a quick but sincere word of thanks to everyone out there who has taken the time to read and spread the word on Fireflies In December. It's incredibly helpful to get the word out. And thanks to everyone who has contacted me to tell me they enjoyed the book. It's such an encouragement as I continue to write!

I hope all of you are enjoying the beginning of spring, and don't forget to turn your clocks ahead tonight!

FYI: The Dancing Word web chat has been rescheduled to Tuesday March 17th @ 9pm EST. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Change In Plans

Weather interfered with our Dancing Word web chat last night. We'll be rescheduling, so keep an eye out here for the new date!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Come For A Chat

On Tuesday, March 3rd, Dancing Word will be hosting a live web chat with me. It should be a fun time of writing conversation, so stop by to pitch in. We'll be live at 9pm EST. Hope to see you there!

And don't forget to stop by my contest page while you're here to drop me a line about your favorite character. If you do you'll be entered to win a signed copy of Fireflies In December along with some other writing gifts and hot chocolate. Plus, you'll make my day!