Sunday, September 30, 2012

Harvest Time

"Pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have 
laid up for thee, O my beloved..."
 Song of Solomon 

Autumnal Season of Fruit

This is my favorite time of year. I love how the hot air suddenly turns cooler! I love to start my flower garden and smell the fresh soil. I love how the dirt feels in my fingers. I love seeing the fruits of my labor.

Charles Spurgeon wrote about giving all our fruit to the Lord, our Beloved, for his October 1st post in the book Morning by Morning

He reminded believers to enjoy the new fruits, but to also remember the old fruits:

  • The times when Jesus was there at our sick bed.
  • The times when Jesus was there during the joyful moments.
  • The times he held us up when the waters rose all around us.

He reminded us to never forget these old fruits..the times when Jesus remembered us.

Follow Me

So what does it mean to be a follower of such a faithful Savior?

Our pastor spoke on Sunday about the passage in Luke 9:23

"And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."

The amplified Bible shows this verse as follows:

"If anyone person wills to come after Jesus, let him deny himself (disown, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself), take up his cross daily and follow (cleave steadfastly to, conform wholly to Jesus' example in living and, if need be, in dying) Jesus."


Makes a difference when you read the total meaning of the Greek words from many lexicons doesn't it?

You get a clearer picture of exactly what Jesus was really saying to His followers: 

"Do as I do..."

To Follow

Charles Spurgeon reminded us that all we have belongs to Our Beloved. 

He has been faithfully with us through the good and bad times, so all that we have should go at His feet. 

Then, Jesus Himself reminded us that if we truly want to be called His Disciple, we not only must give everything we have...but cleave to Him and conform to His example. 

This may sound impossible...and without the Holy Spirit it is.

The Fruit

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."
Galations 5:22-23

It is the Spirit that gives us the ability to give everything to Jesus. It is the Spirit that gives us the ability to follow after Him. 

And oh how He deserves all that we have to give!

The Harvest

"We have fruits this morning, both new and old; but here is the point...they are all laid up for Jesus."  -Charles Spurgeon

This harvest season, take time to remember to give the Lord, your Beloved, all the fruit:

New fruit and Old fruit

Lay all your gifts and treasures up to Him because He alone is worthy of all that we have to give. 

Display them clearly for all to see! 

Then, stand back and watch The Gardener guard the gate that no one should rob what you have! He is faithful! 

Now be faithful to Him. 

Your turn:  How do you celebrate the autumnal season? 

Spurgeon, C. (2005). Morning by morning. Uhrichsville, OH: Barbour Publishing.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Websites for Authors

Thomas Umstattd, Jr.
CEO of Author Media

As a writer, I've heard about and read about social media over and over again on blogs written by agents and other authors. 

The final word is that a writer needs to develop his or her platform in social media long before the first book is ever published. 

I have to admit, I wasn't quick to leap onto the bandwagon, but after a year of taking advantage of social media, I have to say that the experts are right.

Social networking does help form one's platform.

Do Authors Need Websites?

And the answer is YES.

I am not a web developer nor do I pretend to be, but I know I will eventually need an author website and I have no idea where to begin. 

Enter Thomas Umstattd, Jr. He's the CEO of Author Media, a marketing firm that specializes in developing websites for us "right brained" authors who have no idea how to start. 

Not only is he entertaining, but he is very informative. This is a guy who developed his first website at age 13 and designed his first website for a customer at age 16. 

He gives tips and steps that made me sit up and take notice.

Now I can't wait to work on my website!

Big Bucks and Big Time

Now, I don't have  a lot of money to invest and I am certain Mr. Umstattd's services are pricey, so I will have to work on my website on my own.

But I do have options. 

I have an art website at

Homestead is great because for $99 a year, I have two web sites available to me. I already use one, so I have another just waiting for me to use. Yay!

Homestead has come a long way. I first started using them in 2000 when their services were free. That's right, FREE. The Internet was new and Homestead was looking for new users so I took advantage of them and never looked back. They are terrific. 

Over 12 years they have only raised their prices twice. Not bad! 

They provide many templates and services like PayPal payment options and other tools to  make your web content beneficial to your visitors. 

Now What?

Design, design, design...websites are all about design. 

Umstattd stresses that a website should be functional yet also attractive. Luckily, as an artist, I am set in the design department. My son is a Photoshop wiz so I will hire him to develop some nice color designs with graphics to boot. I am confident each page will be gorgeous. 

So, I highly recommend you work with someone who is good with color schemes, graphics, animations, and elements of design to help you make your site pleasing to the eye as well as functional.

Umstattd stresses buttons, too. No, not buttons on your shirt, but buttons on your site. 

He recommends to keep buttons limited to 5 or less and make sure visitors know exactly what to do:

Buy my book!

Get info.



These are just a few button labels you should have on your front page. Notice how short and precise they are. That's the secret. 

Go For It!

Now that you have an idea about the importance of an author web site, seriously consider having one for your book. There are so many reasons why and so many features you can highlight on your site. For instance:

Character art- have your fans draw or paint pictures of your characters. This is what I will feature since my fans are middle grade kids. I can't wait to see their fan art from The Dragon Forest!

Fan Fiction- Have fans submit short stories they have written about your characters. Have a contest and give a way your book!  I plan on having this feature too.

Short Stories- why not have your own short stories on your site? Ever consider writing about a secondary character from your book? Here's your chance. 

Director's Commentary- here's your chance to answer fan questions about why you wrote what you did and why you chose your title, etc. Fans love this stuff!

So, those are just a few features you can have on your site. I am certain you can think of more!

Get Busy

Now I just have to find the time to sit down and design this web site. I highly recommend you take a look at what Author Media has to offer. 

Find a website host that is perfect for you! 

Good luck and get busy ...and get readers!


Sunday, September 16, 2012

It's Writers Conference Time!!

Dallas, Texas

It's That Time Again!

Almost a year ago I attended my first writers conference with my friend and fellow writer, Lindsay Harrel. It was the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference in Arizona.

This year Lindsay and I are headed for the ACFW conference in Dallas, Texas this week!!

We are so excited!

The Conference Experience

I have only attended the smaller conferences so far, so this will be my first BIG conference where I get to mingle with other writers from all over the country. 

I will also sit in on some classes facilitated by some popular authors of many genres and listen to big time literary agents speak about the business. 

I have signed up for so many classes, I can't even remember which ones!

Lindsay and I can't wait to meet some of the writers we've met through social networking.

For me, the most exciting part is that my book, The Dragon Forest, will be for sale there at the conference and I will see it on the display table.

How exciting is that?

Are you planning on attending?  If so, what are your plans? Will you pitch a book idea to an agent? Will you attend many workshops?

Since I have no manuscript to pitch, I am planning on mingling with other writers to find a critique partner and /or mentor. 

I don't know what the Lord has in store for my writing, but I do know I am going to take advantage of this time to meet new people and network. Conferences are great opportunities for networking. 

God is good!  Hope to see you there in Dallas!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Books or Movies?

Yesterday, I had a writing prompt about books on the board because on September 13, 1916, author Roald Dahl (James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, etc) was born. Many think the books were far superior than the movies that came after them.

So, my students and I discussed whether we prefer books to movies

We all agreed that it depends on the book!

I saw JAWS many times before I ever picked up the book. I was very disappointed! The book read like a soap opera at best. The movie, however, was superb! Wildly scary and imaginative, I never looked at the ocean in the same way again. 

I saw all of The Lord of the Rings movies years after trying to read through the books. I felt the movies were better for me, as a visual person, because I needed help "seeing" all the characters and settings. Now, after seeing the movies, I can read the books and enjoy them.

I read The Hunger Games before seeing the movie...and I enjoyed the book much better than the film!

Then, I watched all the Harry Potter movies in one week...long before I ever read one of the books. Afterwards, I began reading them and LOVED them! I am in the fifth book now. 

Now it's your turn! Do you prefer books over movies or does it depend on the title for you too?

Have a GREAT weekend! And don't forget to write...


You can purchase my book and many other wonderful books at

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Where Were You?

September 11, 2001

I was getting my son ready for school. He was in the first grade. 

He watched cartoons in the morning, so I had no idea what was happening across the nation on the east coast. My husband called me around 6:55am to ask if I had seen what was going on in New York City.

I turned on the news shows and saw only one tower standing in New York.

"Aren't there two towers in downtown New York?" I asked my husband. 

And that's when he told me what had happened. 

A Nation Mourns

I dropped off my son at school and drove to our church's Bible study that morning as I had done for many Tuesday mornings before. I listened to the talk radio shows to find out more about what happened. 

Instead of Bible study, all of us stood around and prayed for our nation. 

We all had this sinking feeling that our nation was at war.

Later, I picked up my son from school and headed home to watch the reports on television. And that's when I saw it.

 I saw the images of the planes hitting the towers. Over and over again, the news replayed those images of the airplanes hitting the towers. 

I couldn't believe we lived in a world of technology where such tragedy could be captured the instant it happened. 

I wept as I saw people running for their lives to get out of the city. I saw the images of the Pentagon with pieces of the plane scattered all over the green grass. 

When I heard the news that Marines had died in the attack, I got up and headed out to our garage. I found our flag and pole. I proceeded to hang the flag outside in our front yard with tears in my eyes. I wanted to honor the men and women of the armed forces who died in the Pentagon that day. 

By sunset, almost every house on our block had their flags out flying. Ours remained out there for one solid year. 

Later that night, President Bush spoke from the Oval Office. He looked exhausted and weary from the day's events. When he spoke, he talked about the little children without parents that evening...and his eyes became shiny with tears. 

I lost it. 

I watched my son play with his dinosaurs on the ground in front of the TV and thought of those little kids who lost their moms or dads...or both parents that day. 

September 11, 2012

All these years later, our nation has truly changed since that day on the east coast. 

So many people will be mourning their loved ones again on this anniversary of the attacks.

We will fly our flag proudly today. We will say the Pledge of Allegiance in my classroom today. And we will remember those who lost their lives that day in the attacks and in the rescue attempts. 

They would want us to stop and remember. 

But they would also want us to go on with our lives, to honor their memories by living a full life with joy and happiness and love.

Always remember. 

Never forget.


“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Your turn: How will you reflect on this anniversary of September 11th?


Monday, September 10, 2012

Getting Stuck! And What to Do About It.

Okay, so I received my manuscript back from my editor after a three hour meeting. Not only do I need to cut many words, but I also need to add new scenes. 

No problem.

Except that I was in the middle of writing a new book and now I stare at both manuscripts beckoning me to finish them.

Now I am stuck!


I once had the problem of staring at the blank screen with nothing to write. Ah the good ol' days. 

I miss those days.

Now I have three stories to complete. I thought for sure I'd have one finished by the ACFW conference, but no. It just sits there waiting patiently for me.

It stalled. I had to walk away from it. I needed to start something new, so I dove into a new story. Yes!  I easily wrote 20,000 words in one week. BINGO! This story is HOT. I can't wait to finish this one...but it, too,  will have to wait. 

I set it aside to began working on the edits in my Dragon Forest 2 manuscript fresh from the editor. 

Stuck again. 

The changes are so massive that I am paralyzed every time I start to work on it. 

I freeze. I panic. The task is too daunting.

Now What Do I Do?

So, I closed my lap top and walked away. I didn't write one word. 

Getting stuck can do that to a writer. Too many projects...or too many BIG projects...can frustrate you to the point of quitting. 

And that's what I did. 

Now what do I do?

I made a plan:

I will work on the HOT story until I write "The End" and then return to the edits in my Dragon Forest 2 manuscript and work on that until it is complete. 


At least I have a plan now and I wrote a few pages last night. Yes!

Will I have an awesome manuscript to pitch at ACFW like I thought I would?


And that's okay. Life goes on. At ACFW this year I will meet new people, talk about my story, ask a lot of questions, and learn a lot about writing. 

And HAVE FUN!  I deserve this time to get away from work, grading papers, bills, and just relax with other writers. 

The End

To summarize, when you get stuck...and you will get stuck...the best thing to do is step back and regroup. Spend some time prioritizing your activities and projects. Set realistic goals for yourself. Breathe in and exhale. Remember why you love to write and why you started the story in the first place. 

Now you're ready to dive back in! 

Your turn:  How do you handle it when you get stuck and frustrated with writing?


To purchase my book and many other wonderful books, visit

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Be Encouraged! Endure to the End...

The Marathon

Why do so many Christians get discouraged?

John MacArthur, in his book Standing Strong, wrote about spiritual warfare and the Christian. He wrote about how Satan uses doubt and discouragement to hold down the Christian. 

When I read that passage in the book, my first thought was about how in training for a race, doubt sneaks in and so does discouragement. They weigh me down all the time. 

I wake up early on a hot Saturday morning to run and then I hear that voice in my head asking me why bother? Wouldn't I rather fall back into bed and go back to sleep? It's not like I have a shot at winning anything. Heck, I may not even make to mile 16 during marathon training. 

It is so tempting to listen to that voice and go back to sleep. 

Me at mile 26...

Training to Finish

But for me, the marathon training isn't about winning the race. I learned long ago I could never win the marathon. Instead, I train to finish the race. 

Paul wrote about this in his Epistles. He often mentioned running as a metaphor for the Christian life. Nowhere is the Christian life mentioned as a sprint...but rather the type of race that needs endurance. 

1 Corinthians 9:24
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.

I run for different reasons than the elitist runners. They run to WIN the prize.

I run to endure. To finish. To accomplish something to the end. 

It isn't easy. 

Mile After Mile

For me, mile 16 is that signpost. 

When I reach mile 16, I check my status. I ask myself how my legs feel. I do a check on how my lungs feel...back? Shoulders? Knees?

If everything is doing good, then I know I can make it to mile 26.

In our Christian walk, we best serve the Lord when we stop and inspect our hearts and our minds. 

How are they doing?

Are they on track? Are we focused on Christ or on our circumstances? How's the condition of our hearts? Is there any unconfessed sin weighing us down? 

Have we been listening to the father of lies? Do we feel discouraged as a result?

Many Christians all over the world live in danger of being killed for their faith on a daily basis. They have reasons to be discouraged.

How can we in America ever get discouraged living in such freedoms?

The Apostle Paul wrote so many of his letters from inside a prison. Could we be so encouraged as to write what he wrote while imprisoned for our faith?

Be Encouraged

2 Timothy 4:7
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

It is so easy to get off track. 

With training, an injury can bring everything to a STOP. 

But so can discouragement. 

So many times I want to quit and say why bother? Not just with running, but with teaching God's Word. 

Why bother? No one is listening or learning from my lessons. I see my students nodding off while I teach! 

I am certain someone else could do such a better job of teaching God's Word than I ever could. 

And then the Lord reminds me to be encouraged!

Satan wouldn't attack me if I was no good to God. But the Lord allows His servants to be attacked to make them stronger

As in training, some runs will be harder than others. But those hard runs make us stronger. 

Some days I won't want to run...but after I do, I will feel so much better!

Endure to the end. 

Fight the good fight. Train hard for the finish. 

The Christian journey is not a sprint. It is a marathon. 

And like the marathon, it is full of little accomplishments along the way. Small signposts that let you know you're going to make it. 

Keep going!

We are not in this race alone. 

Praise God! Because without Him, I could never do it. 

Your Turn:  Ever trained for a long race? How do you train to keep going in this Christian journey?