Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Can Any Good Come From Disappointments?

This week, I asked my writing students to answer a prompt:

Can any good come from disappointments?

I'd say their answers were 50/50. Some said no while others said yes. 

I was pleasantly surprised to read how the students who said yes learn from their disappointments. They try to find the reasons for what happens. I was encouraged by this!

Learning From Disappointments

As a writer, I dream that one day I'll have that big BESTSELLING book that tops the New York Times Bestseller's list and movie producers will be knocking on my door begging me to sell them the rights to my book so they can make it into a BLOCKBUSTER motion picture.

Hey, a girl can dream, right?

And, as a writer, I have had to deal with disappointments.  Like 50% of my students, I insist that there is a lesson hidden within each disappointment. I insist upon learning from each one.

I insist upon making it through and becoming stronger after each disappointment.

As a woman, I have had to deal with disappointments in life. 

I asked the Lord for three sons once. And He said, "No."

It is never easy to hear your Father say no. But I insisted on learning from that disappointment. I knew there was a lesson hidden within. 

And I was right!

There is no way on earth I could have handled three sons! God, in His wisdom, knew this and said, "No" to my prayer. 

He gave me one son...one precious gift, one awesome kid...and I learned a powerful lesson from that disappointment. God knows BEST.

As a runner, I was disappointed in my first attempt to complete a marathon. I had broken my toe 8 weeks before the race and couldn't drop out. I had to run it. 

Yes, I was disappointed with my finishing time, but the lesson I learned was worth it. I learned a little about myself. I learned that I could complete a marathon under painful conditions. I learned that I was stronger than I thought. I also learned that I wanted to try again and beat my time...and I did! 

Good From the Bad

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to sign with a big time literary agent who will sell my book to a big time publisher and market my book to people all over the world. 

I have had big time literary agents say they like my work, but...they pass.

And that sting of disappointment hurts like crazy. Yet, like always, I insist on finding that lesson hidden within. I insist on learning from that disappointment. 

I have learned that the Lord knows what is best with my writing career too. 

So, can there be any good from disappointments?

I have a book published. I am grateful for that. I saw a little girl today carrying my book in her hands. She was reading it. I am grateful for that.

Hearing a big time agent say no to my manuscript made me work harder on revising it. It made me work harder on character development. And now those agent's words are making me work harder on my current WIP. I am grateful for that too!

YES!  Good can come from disappointments. We have to want to find the good in all things. As a Christian, I look to Paul who did find the good in horrible circumstances. He fought the fight. He finished the race. He won the prize.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing."  2 Tim 4:7-8

There can be good in it all. 

Your turn: How do you deal with disappointments? Do you find the good in it?


You can buy my book at my publisher's site:


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Know Thy Audience

As with public speaking, if your audience matters to you then your message with matter to them....

Know Thy Audience

With writing, I always tell my students to remember to whom they are writing. Who is their audience? If they are writing a letter to the Principal about no more school uniforms, well, it's probably not a good idea to use slang or texting language.

We writers would be wise to know to whom we are writing as well. My current audience is middle grade kids of all walks of life. I have to remember what it is they are currently reading, watching, listening to, and discussing.

I am fortunate in that I teach a bunch of middle graders, but what if my audience was adult women or college age women?

How to Know Thy Audience

Research is the best way and I don't mean an internet search.

Spend time around your target audience. Listen to how they speak and ask about what interests them. Got that?

Ask them questions.  And listen to the answers.

Why Do We Need to Know?

If you want your readers to pick up your book and read it, then pay attention to your readers. Write to and for them. What other books are out there for your target audience?

Just because my audience devours J.K. Rowling doesn't mean I have to now write books about a boy wizard. But I can ask my audience what it is about the Harry Potter books that they like so much. Or take Rick Riordin books. Just because they like those books doesn't mean I have to write his genre or story line.

I can still be original...or as original as I can be.

I can still listen to my audience and read what they're reading for research purposes.

And it works!

Know Thy Audience

So, keep this in mind. Write for yourself. Write the story you would like to read.

But keep your audience in mind. Would they turn the page of your current W.I.P.?  Will they be enthralled from the start?

Someone who recently read my book, The Dragon Forest,  told me she stayed up until 2am just to finish a scene because she couldn't put the book down. Music to my ears!

Writing isn't easy, but writing to someone can help. Picturing them as you write will keep you focused.

As with public speaking...look them in the eye. Show them that you did your homework and you are not going to waste their time.

Make them matter to you and your message...your book...will matter to them.

Your turn:  How do you keep your audience in mind when you write? Does it work?


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The God Who Provides

When I was a kid, I remember seeing this print hanging in people's houses. I always liked it because it so honestly displays humility and gratefulness to God for the little things: His Word and bread.

Be Content

In my morning devotion, I am reading about being content with what the Lord has given me. This is a topic I have blogged about before because it is something I feel we all struggle with from time to time.

It's isn't easy living with contentment in 2012 . There is always something else to buy, use, try, make, earn, etc.

It never really ends!

We buy the iPad and the newest model comes out. We buy the latest car and the newer model comes out. We buy the latest appliance and a newer model comes out!  And so it goes on and on...

Paul wrote about being content. He knew what it was like to have wealth and to be poor and yet he learned to be content in all circumstances. I love reading his words. 

The Lord's Righteous

But, for me, the words of King David always stuck with me ever since I studied them back in 1997. That's when I first read Psalm 37.

"I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread."  Ps 37:25

Those words penetrated my heart back then and remained with me through many hard financial times in the last decade or so. 

King David had seen much in his life. In Psalm 37 he reflects on how he had seen the wicked prosper and then fail. He had seen how the Lord protects the righteous man and that man is the one to follow because the Lord guides his footsteps. 

Then he tells us how in all his life, he had never seen the Lord's righteous begging bread. In other words, the Lord provides for His own. 

The God Who Provides

What comforting words! What peace. 

I can live my life knowing that if I walk with the Lord, no matter what the world may suffer, the Lord will always provide for me. Will He always provide filet mignon?


But will He provide what I need to live? Yes. 

And that's what brings me back to that famous print. 

The man isn't praying humbly before a sirloin steak with lobster. He is praying before God's Word and bread.

King David learned it all by the time he was old. He had lived through wars in the land and wars in his household. He had seen his own children die and he had seen the land suffer.

Yet through it all, He saw how His God always provided for His righteous. 

There is great comfort in reading those words.

There is great comfort in loving a God who promises He will provide for His own. 

I am so glad to be one of His own.

Now, I just have to learn to be content with knowing that...

Your turn:  How has God proven to you that He will always provide for you?


Saturday, August 18, 2012

When You Want to Quit

"Never, never, never give up."
-Winston Churchill 

I spoke with my students this week about my writing journey. I explained to them about the many times I wanted to quit back in 2008 after receiving rejection after rejection from many literary agents regarding my manuscript for The Dragon Forest.

I wanted to give up.

Never Give Up

Then I told them about how I kept going even when the future looked pretty bleak. 


Because I knew of so many others who kept going even when it seemed impossible.

And of course, writers...artists...must never give up. We must always write or paint or compose no matter what.


After reading some of my students' reflective writing this week, I was moved by how some of them feel like giving up on a dream even at such a young age. For that reason, I am glad I was able to share my story with them and hope it helped inspire them to continue. 

I know one story that helped me keep going...

When I worked in the county courthouse, I often saw one of the judges getting out of his truck in the morning. What was the big deal about that? He was a paraplegic and getting in and out of his vehicle on his own was a chore. Yet he did it everyday on his own. 

He became paralyzed after a car accident in his teens. He went to college then law school all from a wheelchair. Then, after practicing law for many years, he was appointed to the bench by the governor of our state. After that, he went on to the Federal bench.

I'll never forget the sight of him getting out of his truck and into his wheelchair without the assistance of anyone else day after day.

He inspired me to keep going and appreciate what I have.  

So when I hear a person complaining that a task is too difficult or that they just can't do something on their own, I always think back to that judge and what he accomplished without the use of his legs. 

Keep Going

Even still, there are times that I stare at the computer screen without one thought to add to a story and think about giving up on my work-in-progress. 


Those words staring back at me  intimidate me and and the thought of rejection makes me want to QUIT. 

But I cannot quit. I must keep going. Even if it means I have to set that story aside for a time and start on something new, then so be it! 

Writers must write...artists must create...and we must all keep going no matter what. 

What I want to teach my writing students is that writing is a great way to reflect on what we want to accomplish, the obstacles in our way, and what we can do to overcome those obstacles everyday. 

As the great Winston Churchill once said:


Keep dreaming.

Keep striving.

Keep observing.

Keep learning.

Keep writing. 

Your turn:  What words or life experiences help you to keep going and never quit?


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Types of Writing...and Thinking

Creative Thinking

One thing I love about writing is the thinking part of it.

I love to escape from everyday life and go deep into my thoughts. I suppose that's why I love running so much. After around mile 6, my mind starts to think about stories and my body just takes over with the running part.

So what does it mean to think creatively?

Types of Writing

You've seen the types of writing listed before:

To inform

To persuade

To explain

To entertain

What brings most writers back to the blank paper or screen is the element of surprising the reader with something new they haven't seen or thought of before. Explain something new, describe a new place, inform them of something you've learned, persuade them to see or do something they hadn't thought of before...all this and more!

It begins with asking a question. Try asking, the "what if" questions of the readers:

What if your car could talk? What would it say?

What if Hitler had been captured by American soldiers?

What if air conditioning had never been invented?

What if cars ran on air and not gasoline?

What if a newborn baby could talk to its parents?

What if aliens from another planet landed in your backyard?

And there are a million more "what if''s" that bring the writer back to the blank page time and time again.

Exploring the Possibilities

What I intend to discuss with my writing students is the joy of taking a topic...any topic...and exploring the possibilities with that topic.

Analyzing it, finding that one part of the topic that hasn't been discussed before can be as fun as scientific discovery if presented the right way.

Writing is...

I had to stop this weekend and think back to why I love to write. The overwhelming task of preparing a classroom, gradebook, assessments, and lessons began to suck all the joy out of my plans for this year.

I allowed my joy to be stolen.

So many times this can happen with writers.

But I remembered why I love to write:  It's FUN!

I have so many stories I want to share with others. I want to learn how to use words more efficiently and creatively, and I want to discover more interesting facts about a topic.

That's it! That's why I write.  Now let the journey begin...

Your turn:  What helps you remember why you love to write? What do you do to help you think more creatively?


Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Stay Calm!

Have you ever sat completely still listening to someone speak and you felt it? You felt that feeling of panic slowly rise up past your gut and into your chest until you realize...

You're not breathing??

Well, that happened to me today. 

I sat in a meeting at work listening to expectations set for me this year and I felt that feeling...but I was able to hold it off.

And then, later, I spoke to my editor about my manuscript he is currently editing and he said it needs a lot of work. Oh no. I know what that means. 

There it was again. That feeling.


I got off the phone and realized I had stopped breathing.

That feeling of panic had crept into my chest and began to choke my heart.

"What have I done?" I asked myself. "I am fooling myself. I am no more a writer than that cricket crawling near my foot! I can't teach this stuff. I have students coming in next week expecting me to teach them something...anything...about writing. What was I thinking??"

I tried to take a breath, but it just wouldn't come. Panic had stopped the breathing process. 

Stay calm. 

Try. To. Breathe.

Have you ever experienced this?

Just Breathe

So I went running after work and took all my frustrations out on the mountain.

And I was able to breathe again. Whew.

The psalmist said:

"Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act."  Ps. 37:5

Praise God.

We don't ever have to rely on ourselves. We can trust in Him knowing He will act. He will take over.

 In my weakness, His strength is perfected. 

He will take care of my every need. Some people I know are dealing with much worse than mere stress from a new job and an overly critical editor.

I am blessed. 

Thanks, Lord.

Your turn: How do you deal with those days when PANIC starts to set in? What Bible verse do you turn to?


Monday, August 6, 2012

I Love Writing Because...

Blogging will be light this week as I am in new teacher training, but I did want to ask a question...

Why do you love writing so much?

What was it about writing that drew you in? 

Okay, that's two questions. Sorry!  But I am curious what makes a person partake of this journey.

For me writing was a way to escape. My mom gave me a type writer when I was in grade school and I would write story after story only to throw them all away due to embarrassment. I even drew one book cover for one of my love stories. Ha! I enjoyed writing. It was fun for me.

I never thought about writing as a possible career until later, but the desire to create places or scenes that are real to the reader is what drew me into this writing journey. I see it as a way to reveal to people the wonderful workings of God and His principles whether in fantasy or contemporary genres.

How about you?


Friday, August 3, 2012

Fun Fridays!!

A New Job!

Since most of you know I started a new job this week, I thought I'd ask you about your least favorite job and your most favorite job.

As for me?  Well, it's a tie for my least favorite job:  Food Lion (in North Carolina) and Hallmark (in Phoenix).

At Food Lion I worked with nice people, but the managers weren't very good so a part time job began to turn into a fulltime job with no days off. And the actual work was booooring. Cashiering before there were scanners? Not fun!

Mt other least favorite: Hallmark. And I was once a janitor, too, but Hallmark was worse.

 You'd think working in a little card shop would be fun, right? No.  The boss lady didn't like me very much. So we clashed often. But I don't blame her completely. I was in a low point spiritually and it showed in my attitude and behavior. Not a very good experience.

Most favorite job:  Bailiff'

No, I didn't wear a uniform or sidearm. In Maricopa County, the sheriff's deputies did all that. Bailiffs assist the Judge in the courtroom, handle the case files, and take care of the jury during impanelment and trials. 

I had a blast working there! I worked for a wonderful Judge and his staff was amazing. I loved them all like family. For seven years I got to listen to fascinating trials...especially the murder trials!  That was a most memorable seven years.

Now I am about to enter a new adventure as a teacher. I have a good feeling this job will be a most memorable career!

Your turn: what was your least favorite job and most favorite job so far? Explain...

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Write Turn

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
     dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
 Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:3-4

What Was I Thinking??

Well, today I start my new adventure. 

I quit a very good paying job for a teaching job that will require me to do more work for less pay. 

And now you know why I am so nervous!

But, I am following a dream. I am trusting in the Lord. And I am ready to go on this adventure!

Why Teach?

I'll admit it, but I'm one of those freaky people who loves school.  After school, I would play "school" in my bedroom using my mirror as the chalkboard. I used to cry on the last day of school when I was a kid.

I think my siblings thought I was nuts. 

Maybe I am!

But I have felt called to teach since 2005 when I was asked to teach at the community college level. I knew then that I loved it and had to be in the classroom. 

In 2009, however, I was frustrated and burned out with teaching. So, I took a job that put me in a cubicle 9 hours a day for 2 1/2 years. I'm not complaining because it was a cushy job that paid well and taught me much. 

But I wasn't teaching. 

And I missed that. 


God's Ways

I learned that God's ways are so not our ways! And that is a VERY good thing. A blessing in disguise, trust me. 

I've blogged about trust before, but this year I am truly taking a leap of faith. Close friends know that I have been praying about obtaining a teaching job for over a year now. I went on interviews only to turn down the job because it wasn't a good fit. And I realized that's okay. I didn't want to run up ahead and find the Lord not there.

So I waited and trusted and prayed...

In the meantime, my first book was released through OakTara publishing (Yay!) and doors of opportunity opened wide for me.

As a published author, I was able to visit local schools and talk to the students about writing, completing a book, and myself. 

And that's when it hit me...I realized then and there just how much I missed teaching kids and inspiring them.

But never in a MILLION years did I expect the Lord to use my book and my writing to provide me with a teaching position. NEVER!

The Write Turn

As I look back on how all this fell into place, I feel a comfort there that is hard to describe. Yet there is still some fear. Fear of the unknown. 

Fear that I made a terrible mistake!

Fear that I don't know what I'm doing. 

Fear of financial ruin.

Fear that I listened to the wrong voice.

And many, many more fears. 

Still, I know that the Lord's ways are not my ways. Had it been up to me, I would have given myself an art teacher position (my comfort zone). That's how I saw it all playing out.

But not the Lord. 

For some reason He sees me teaching writing. I scratch my head on that one. 

For some reason, my little book was published.

For some reason, this school invited me to come talk to the students about my book.

And now...for some reason I will be one of their teachers. 

Trust and Obey

Yesterday, on his Facebook status, my friend posted this:

"When God begins to answer your prayer, will you recognize it and be willing to do what is needed to be part of the answer?"  -Mark Allen Sommer

When I read this status, it spoke to me. I had to answer, "yes" because I am willing. 

I took that leap into the unknown. 

And here I go! Trusting in the Lord. 

I don't know what this school year will bring, but I do know that the Lord has equipped me to teach, He has called me to teach, He has provided me a venue, He has blessed me with support...and I know I will not be alone in that classroom. 

He will always be with me through the good days and the bad days. He turned the desires of my heart into HIS desires for me. 

He is always there. Always has been, always will be. 

Now I just have to be willing to let go...and let Him!

Your turn: How has the Lord taken you down that road into the unknown? How did it all work out?