I wanted to take this time to give a special shout out to my current employer and colleagues. Tomorrow will be a year since I was transferred to your Department. Words simply can't express how much I appreciate your kindness and patience. It takes a tremendous leap of faith to accept two licensure programs that have been in existance for 35 years, and an even greater leap of faith to accept an employee with those programs that you did not hire and had no choice but to accept with the programs.
I thank you not only for this, but for the way you have unconditionally accepted me. You accepted me for who I was and have worked to discover my talents and to work with them. You have never put me down or made me feel bad for who I am. You have never made me feel like an outsider. You have never tried to hammer a square peg in a round hole - in fact, I haven't felt like a square peg since I moved here. You have done the one thing that my former colleagues couldn't do in over 12 years - you accepted me for who I am. Because of that, I feel I have accomplished more in the past 12 months than I have in the past 12 years combined. That's what happens when people have the right attitude and they care about doing things right for the benefit of all.
I know that my licensees, Board members, and council members thank you as well. You've been great. It's not perfect but we are committed to greater goals and never forget that. Our eyes are on the goal of providing the best we can. It's not about power trips or "putting people in their place." It's really and truly about what's best for all and helping people. That is what I signed on for all those years ago and it's so good to finally see it, at long last.
It's been a tremendous amount of work, but well worth it - and very successful with your help and guidance. We still have a way to go, but I have every faith that we will get there.
Thank you and bless you.
I've noticed that time alone is something that seems to be disappearing in life. Not just my life, either, but most peoples' lives. I think this is a shame, because we all really need time and space to ourselves.
Apparantly I'm one of a very small group of people that hold this belief. You wouldn't believe how much ridicule and criticism I get for wanting some time to myself every now and then. It seems that a lot of people just don't understand how I can be content alone, even for a minute. "How can you stand it?" they ask, "to just be by yourself and not have someone around? Aren't you scared? Aren't you lonely?"
The answer to both of these questions is no, I'm not. I think that fear and lonliness are issues that have deeper roots in personality and temperament, frankly, and I've never been prone to either. But I think there's something else to blame for this loss of appreciation for alone time. It's called reality TV.
Somewhere in the past decade, people have become fascinated with watching other peoples' lives. This has never been unusual with celebrities, but now we want to know every detail of everybodys' life from the biggest mega-superstar to the cleaning woman. People willing to sacrifice their own privacy for a shot at fame have erased the boundaries of individualism.
The fact that we live in a society obsessed with maximum use of space feeds this fire. How are people supposed to understand boundaries when they work in a cubical where they overhear personal conversations all day, go home to a neighborhood where houses are literally spitting distance apart, and log on the Internet to see what their "friends" are eating for supper and watching on TV? Between the media, technology, and life itself, society is trying to pound it in our heads that it's not appropriate to put up a wall every now and then and say "Stop! No admittance! I need a time out!"
And in the end, this is feeding insecurity. Because in reality, we all need time to ourselves. Time to think, to ponder what's important to us and to take care of ourselves. Time to be our authentic selves without having a spotlight or webcam on you. We don't have to tweet every thought that runs through our head. We don't have to post a status update every time we move. And despite what the world tells you, it's really not right or appropriate to do that anyway. It leads to a habit of dysfunction, because we can't move until we know what everybody else is doing. It turns real life into a game of chess. You can't move until the other person moves first - thereby sacrificing your right to be who you are.
The world has always pressured people to conform, and there will always be voices screaming at you to be what they want you to be. The problem is that they aren't interested in what you want. They're interested in you being what serves their interest the best. That's why it's so important to pull away from the voices every now and then to consider the direction of your own life, and to make sure the sails are set in the direction you want to go. When we let noise fill our lives, we may find our ship sailing to a shore we never meant to even visit - much less live at.
I say to heck with the world. My life isn't reality TV, an evening drama, or a movie. It's real and I will share what I please, when I please. I do enjoy social media and blogging and love that it connects me with people around the world, and that it opens up more things in terms of interest and entertainment than have ever been available before. Heck, E-publishing is making me a writer, and I think the Internet is giving people a great opportunity to share things of interest (like books, news, etc) that would otherwise be drowned out by mainstream media. But I also consider everything I blog, post, or Tweet very carefully before I hit the "submit" button because I know that everything in my life isn't interesting to all people or, in some cases, business that doesn't need to leave the confines of my personal life.
I'm a responsible adult and am under no obligation to anybody to ask permission or to advertise everything I do. And I won't. That being said, I'll end this entry and leave you to ponder what I will do with the rest of my evening. I know, but (*sigh*) I just don't feel like Tweeting that right now.
Finally, some success with short stories! My flash fiction piece titled "One Day" is the featured paragraph at Paragraph Planet today. You can read it today at http://www.paragraphplanet.com/index.htm
. After today, you can go to http://www.paragraphplanet.com/archive.htm
and look up the feature paragraph for June 27, 2011.
I know it's just a 75 word story, but after a four year dry spell anything is welcome!
I think I finally figured out why I wasn't having any luck with my short stories. It's because I was taking the same approach to them as I did to writing a novel. Unfortunately, what works for novels just doesn't work for short stories. It can't. It's a totally different form.
Novels are about creating a world and weaving a tale that takes readers on an adventure. They should come out of it feeling like they know the characters and have lived the experience.
Short stories are about hitting emotions. You don't have time to develop complex plots or deep characters. The limited space of a short story (or even flash fiction) requires that you hit the readers emotions hard and back off. Readers should come out of short stories relating to feelings or emotions.
I was missing this, until now. Lately, I've been trying to tweak my approach. It's a work in progress, but I recently had a bit of success. A flash fiction piece I wrote for Paragraph Planet will be posted there tomorrow. I hope this means I'm getting on the right track.
Don't get me wrong - novels are still my passion and my #1 form. But I enjoy short stories too. My inability to write ones that really "pop" (or get published) has been frustrating me for a few years. I hope I finally learned the secret to nailing this particular form and that I will continue to improve. I'd like to be able to write short stories well too. Nobody wants to be a one trick wonder.
I saw that my New Years Resolution to research ways to write better was paying off with the book contract, but maybe it's paying off in other ways too. I should have done this long ago but better late than never, right?
It's definitely a process, and I see that it needs to be a continual process. To become a better writer is not only about writing and reading - it's about studing the craft as well.
That's all today. Bye!
Two years ago, our Sunday School class did an in-depth study of The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis. One of the interesting concepts he presented is “The Law of Undulation,” which basically means that life is a series of peaks and valleys, and we are always in some phase of this ebb and flow.
It’s absolutely true. My life over the past eighteen months is a testament to it.
This Thursday will be exactly one year since my last day of work at my old department. I don’t know why this feels like a reason to celebrate. Perhaps because it seems to signal progress to me: that I’m in a better place than I was a year ago, and that I’ve managed to take the pieces of my life and put them together into something new and better than what I had before.
Last year, it seemed too much when my in-laws went from 100 miles away to right next door, and my job transferred me to a new department a few months later. There were times when I felt I had no peace anywhere. But I learned that the Lord never gives you more than you can handle, and with His help, I not only survived but have thrived in these new conditions.
I know my full strength in Him, and that nothing is impossible (sometimes people aren’t willing to allow Him to make all things possible – but let’s save that for another entry!). I know my purpose and myself better, and I’m not afraid of who I am; not even the little inconsistencies that sometimes puzzled me about myself. I am a whole human being and that’s how it’s supposed to be. I know that I not only have a right, but a duty to be my authentic self and that to be anything else is offensive to the Lord and what He created me to be. I know that anything worth having is a lot of work – more than I imagined possible – but the rewards are usually bigger than you imagined.
Most importantly, I learned that if God brings me to it, He’ll bring me through it. And because of that, I’m not afraid anymore. I don’t fear what might be, or what’s around the next corner. I have learned the true meaning of Romans 8:28; that “all things work together for good for those who love Him, those who are called according to His purpose.” I am called by Him for a purpose. I know I may not understand many things, and I’m okay with that because I have seen His power move mountains in my life that I thought could never budge. They did, and I’m a better person because of increased faith because of it.
I’m not so arrogant as to believe that doubt will never come again. I made that mistake once, and boy did I get a double dose of humility. I know now that if you try to do what’s right, it’s really going to piss the devil off and he will attack you with all his might. But the Lord is on our side, so the devil can’t win. It won’t stop him from trying, so the challenge during times of trial and testing is to remember this: that Satan is already defeated and he cannot win in our life if we call on Christ to defend and protect us.
There are two morals to this entry. First, my secret to making it through such a chaotic transition was prayer. I learned the true meaning of “praying without ceasing.” Second, nothing last forever. So take heart. If you’re in a rut, don’t worry because something will eventually move and get you out. If life is chaos, don’t worry because it will eventually settle. If you’re down, don’t worry because you will rise. If you’re up, don’t get arrogant because you will come off that mountaintop eventually (so enjoy it while you can, but stay humble and give thanks always). The nature of the universe is change and the nature of life is undulation. Up and down, always in motion. Even when it looks like nothing’s happening, it is. Sometimes that motion is barely perceptible. Sometimes it’s overwhelming. But it’s always there.
Don’t ever ask “is it over yet?” because it won’t be until you die. So buckle up and enjoy the ride.
That’s all today.
I thought I was having a great week until I got knocked flat on my rear with a sinus infection today. I guess that cold really didn't go away, eh? Back on antibiotics. Ugh. At least I should get better now. I think I caught this one early.
I got my first round edits on Blurry yesterday and started going through them today. It wasn't the nightmare I anticipated, but I felt sheepish nonetheless. Man, my grammar is terrible. I really thought I went through that manuscript with a fine tooth comb before I sent it off, but egads. I have comma and capitalization issues, as in I don't use enough commas and I capitalize too much. I am learning. But really, I am glad for the feedback. It is making the manuscript better. I bristled a bit at the use of the word "whom" in a young adult novel, but I don't think I'm going to the mat for that one. It's not that big a deal and it only popped up twice so far.
A strange thing is happening these days. People from my past are popping back up. Not that it's a bad thing or that anybody I didn't want came wandering by, but it just seems odd that it should happen so often in such a short period of time. Last week, I ran into somebody I went to high school with, and Rick ran into somebody I went to college with. This week my cousin and an old friend from high school band found me on Facebook, and Rick saw my old boss. It's good to see and hear from them. It's just odd that it's all happening around the same time. Eh, who knows. Life is strange, right? It's all good. I'll keep rollin and they'll see that I'm still weird. Yea, they might find a name for what's wrong with me yet!
I'm trying to build up things over at Twitter. It's moving at about the same pace that building myself up on Facebook did, so that's ok. By the way, let me know if you're on Twitter and I'll be glad to follow you. I'm on there as SherritheWriter. I think I must have the worst online alias ever. But it's honest and simple. I'm Sherri, and I'm a writer. Makes sense, even if it isn't flashy or snappy.
Wow, the birds in a mood. I think my sick day threw them off. I spent some time explaining to Zack and Chloe that biting human fingers isn't considered a delicacy in any country on earth, and Ollie got fussy this afternoon. They rarely get like this. I must have really busted up some big birdy plans today. Sorry guys!
That's all for now. I hope you're having a good week. Happy Friday tomorrow and I'll see you later.
I wanted to let you know that there have been other things going on in life besides the book contracts. Yes, life marches on no matter what's going on. Here's an update:
The first bit of news isn't good, I fear. You know that we lost a friend at church to cancer a couple of weeks ago and in fact, it was nearly a year to the day after I lost a coworker to the same kind of cancer. Well, we found out that a third friend that's battling cancer has taken a drastic downhill turn. Her's is lung cancer and well, it's spread to her brain and they've given her 3-6 weeks. We're absolutely floored, because for a while she was actually improving and the tumors were shrinking. Or so we were told. Turns out, she wasn't being completely honest with any of us about her true condition. We believe it's because she wasn't being completely honest with herself. There's been speculation that she didn't fully comprehend the severity of her situation.
I don't even know what to say at this interlude. I've seen two people die and now it looks like a third heading down the same road. To say that I'm tired of seeing good people suffer seems to be a pretty obvious point. But one thing they've all had in common was that they have fought to the very end. So the point, it seems to me, is that every battle isn't won - but you fight nonetheless. Because if you don't fight, hope is gone and you're dead already (spiritually, anyway). But as long as you fight, there's hope whether the battle ends in victory or defeat.
That may or may not make sense but a second thing I've learned does, and that's how important it is to live. There are too many people satisfied with accepting mediocrity and bad things in their life, and if there's one thing I've seen in these three ladies, it's that this isn't how we're supposed to live. While we live, this is OUR WORLD. We need to live life to the fullest: To take advantage of every opportunity, enjoy everything we can, defeat what discourages or holds us back, and just get out there and DO STUFF.
So there you have it. My take on death and dying these days. And by the way, the reaper can quit touching people I know anytime and that will be a-ok.
Moving on ...
I think my cold is clearing up. Thank God, too, because I really didn't want to go on antibiotics. I don't like them.
The roses are doing very well, which is pretty amazing given the soaring heat around here. Then again, we water them every day.
I finally took off the purple nail polish and have replaced it with pink. I have some meetings coming up, and I figured going conventional would throw people off. But don't worry. The purple polish will be back.
Here's one you may or may not believe. Last week, the principal at the school where they found Ollie a year ago had the nerve to ask for him back. Can you believe that? And she didn't even remember his name, just said she wanted the bird back. Rick said no. While she forgot Ollie for the past year we have loved him, housed him, fed him, and otherwise spoiled him. This is his home. She's bought an iPad and a 50 inch TV. I think she can spring $20.00 for her own darn bird.
I'm finding that I understand baseball a bit better this year. But those players are so skinny. Do they feed them? Rick says they probably sweat it off playing in this terrible heat.
My parents just celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary. Congratulations! And so you'll know, my brother is 41 and I'm 35.
My mother-in-law told Rick she'd like to get to know me better. Um, we've been married 13 years. A bit late on the uptake, don't you think? And gee, look at the timing of that one too. The day after I sign a second book contract. I will let this one go without further comment.
Ok, that's all the fun happening in my corner of the galaxy. I hope you're doing well and that the new week is a good one.
I was offered another book contract this week.
Yes, that's right. Another publisher, Wings e-Press, offered me a contract for Blurry, my young adult novel. After checking to make sure it didn't conflict with my other ones, I signed it yesterday. So ladies and gentlemen, I'm publishing 2 books.
I can't believe this. I've had a 4 year dry spell of nothing but rejection after rejection and absolutely NOTHING in print, I get an offer to publish 2 of my books in a matter of less than 3 months.
It's absolutely unbelievable, and it's going to happen fast, as Wings wants to publish Blurry in August 2011.
I'm still haven't got work from Whiskey Creek Press on a publication date for Anywhere But Here, but I'll probably hear from them soon. I know publishing 2 books will be a lot of work but heck, I just uprooted and moved 2 professional licensure programs last year and dealt with my in-laws moving at the same time. In other words, I spent a year going to hell and back. I think I can do this.
I'm really excited. In fact, the only thing that's keeping me from bouncing off the walls is that I'm getting over a cold. It hit me last weekend and thankfully it seems to be passing, but the high ozone today hasn't helped.
So that's life in my corner of the world. I pray this is a turn for the better in my life. I've been working for this for 10 years and now that it's happening it's kind of shocking! But it's a good shock. Finally, it's change and progress in my life that I've worked for, and not something that other peoples' decisions are shoving down my throat. Finally, I'm steering this ship. Finally, my life is in a heading of my choosing.
I am hoping that the "wow" factor is coming back into my life. After a year and a half of not finding it anywhere but in writing my own novels, it seems to be making a return. Bless it, and I hope it stays. It seems that the older I get, the harder it gets to, for lack of a better term, knock my socks off. I don't know if it's because I've been stressed out with so much change in my life lately, if life itself has jaded me into just not caring as much, or if the effort hasn't been put in by others to produce outstanding efforts.
I will admit that I have just started reading and watching new movies again, after quite a long hiatus. In fact, I've been to the movies three times in as many weeks, which must be a new record for me. "Thor" was the first movie that I saw since "The Chronicles of Narnia - Prince Caspian." The reason for this is simple: Going to the movies is kind of expensive, so if I'm going to spend that money to sit in the same place for 2-3 hours, then it better captivate me. And you know me - I'm a plot junkie that loves movies that spend a ridiculous amount of money on special effects. "Thor" certainly met that criteria, and today we saw "X-Men: First Class." All I can say is that between the 2 movies, my eyes nearly popped out from all the outstanding effects - and they had great story lines too. They definitely had the wow factor going, and it was great to see it again. I'm glad to see more will be coming in the way of "The Green Lantern" and "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." The summer of superheros is what I've heard it called, and it's right - but that's alright with me. I love this stuff.
I'll tell you what else is alright with me: I'm writing again! That's why I haven't blogged here in a while. I've been working on a short story, 2 flash fiction pieces, and yesterday I had an idea for another short story. One very common theme that seems to be running through them all is transitions - especially in the sense of endings and new beginnings. That's understandable, considering the events in my life over the past year. It concerned me a bit, but I decided to just roll with it and see if there are ways to package it differently in each piece. Why not? I've always written what was in me before, so why try to push myself to something I'm not feeling now? Reality inspires fiction, and frankly it's good to work on short stories after over 18 months of working on novels. Don't get me wrong; I love writing novels, but it's good to do something different every now and then. Novels are so intensive, and short stories are great because you can do a burst of work here and there and have something great.
So I have the "wow" factor going in entertainment and writing now, and I'm glad for it. Let's keep that train running for as long as we can! Now if only I could find more time to read. Well, as hot as it's getting outside already, I suspect I'll be doing more reading this summer since it's way to hot to be outside!
That's all for this time. I hope your summer is off to a great start. So far, I have to say I'm pretty happy with where this one is going. I pray it stays on this great track.