In my last entry, I made the comment that it's impossible to know what the modern workplace is like because of the tremendous power of change. I'd like to expand on this comment in this entry, and muse over how this trend has the potential to leak out of the workplace and into other areas of life now.
It started with technology. Computers revolutionized the workplace, and there's no denying that it made drastic improvements. Frankly, I can't imagine how people of previous generations ran an effective office with things as archaic as file cabinets and typewriters. They managed, but now we're moving at the speed of light, at least in offices. I remember a colleague once saying "remember when we sent out notification letters? It would take a week or more for people to reply to them now. Now it's notification emails and thanks to smartphones, our own phones blow up within seconds of hitting "send." It's true. Things move faster now, and they have more ways in than ever. Is it a good thing? All in all, probably so. Things get done faster and have the potential to get done more efficiently. But notice the adjective that's more active than the actual verb in that sentence: potential. Because efficiency depends largely on effective and (most importantly) wise implementation. And this requires having people that make sound decisions and are willing to learn and grow with the changes this improvement brings.
Yes, technology is ever changing, and it requires people in the workforce to keep changing with it. Nothing stays the same, and now we're morphing with the speed of development. You always have to be willing to grow and learn, to embrace new things and let go of old things that might be comforting, but are no longer effective. The good new is that this change, when done with pure motives and right intentions, is the path to progress. You learn, you grow, and hopefully you take those lessons into your personal life and see what you gained continue to bless your life.
Ah, but there's another side to this, and here's the catch. This is where the shapeshifter comes into play, because the constant change in the workplace started with technology, but it oozed it's hand into other aspects of the workplace as well. Changes in how things are done require changes in management, changes in staff, changes in operations. It doesn't stop with the machines. Integrating the machines changes the people, and the way people operate. It means that we must not only adapt to how the machines help us to do our work better, but we also must embrace how the machines change the human element of the workplace. And this, folks, is where we run into issues, because machines don't have a mind and will of their own, but people do, and they aren't afraid to use it. For better or for worse, and sadly, the tendency to react rather than reflect and act in faith means that this element is subject to lots of rash decisions and acts that aren't always conductive to progress.
I've come to realize that there are two kinds of change. The first kind is the progressive kind that I discussed above. An opportunity opens and it's given thoughtful deliberation and consideration. People take advantage of that opportunity and more opportunities arise from it. Yes, it's hard and it requires change, learning new things, and forging into new areas, but the hard work is worth it and beyond the growning pains come progress that lead to a "golden age" of productivity and success. This is the kind of change we should always embrace, and that we shouldn't fear. Yes, it takes hard work to do new things, but the work of laying that solid foundation pays off when you build something that's stronger and better for a new day. Often, the things you learn from these "hard seasons of growth" can be implemented into other areas of life which spurs more growth and more blessing. It can have a chain reaction. One example of this: My office move 3 years ago gave me the courage and strength to start the process of becoming an independent author. The trials I went through getting those programs moved opened my eyes to every area of life, and I realized that I had spent a lot of years submitting my writing to traditional publishers in a sinking economy that had bolted their doors closed to new authors and weren't listening. "If they stop listening, stop talking," someone advised me around that time (of a different situation, but ...) and one day I stumbled upon a CNN article about how ebooks were outselling hardbacks and the light went off. I dug in to edit and revamp my approach, submitted to epublishers and mixed in some self publishing, and now 3 years and 7 books later, I finally have the foundation laid that I was waiting for someone else to do for far too long. I lost my fear of taking chances, I found the courage to make bold moves of faith on my own, and I finally got the ball rolling on the progress I had prayed for. That success gave me the courage to stand firm, to learn what I needed to learn, and to work with others to make the move successful, and it was. Progressive change at work had a 2 for 1 special in my life: the work move was successful despite setbacks and challenges along the way, and I got established as an independent author.
Ah, but there's another kind of change, and sadly I see it in my life now. It's change born of fear, and this is almost always detrimental. Sadly, progressive change usually gives way to this. Things move along well and people are happy with how it's going, but then something happens that changes some element that everybody was comfortable with. Usually, it has to do with setbacks, challenges, changes in leadership, or an unexpected loss of some sort. People get scared and react. Instead of asking "okay, what can we do to stabilize the situation and are there any opportunities from this, no matter how small, that we can seize and use to rebuild?" they ask "how do we protect ourselves." The motives shift from purity (doing better) to selfish (save me!), and that's the road to destruction. Change is not about progress, but about re-establishing control, protecting the "status quo," and preventing more damage. This is where you run into trouble, because damage control is never productive and that's looking at the situation from the wrong end. I think we all remember Yoda's logic in Star Wars Episode 1 - "fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to the dark side." That's not fiction; it's face. People get scared and they react. Then they get mad because things aren't working out. Then the anger replaces all semblance of reason, and it becomes a battle. As Loki so eloquently put it in The Avengers, freedom leads to a mad scramble of power. Yep, he had a grain of truth there too. It's scary.
Take it from one that's seeing it unfold. There are changes afoot in an area of my life now, and I find myself surrounded by a lot of fear. It's disturbing. I find myself pondering a lot of things, but foremost amongst them is protecting the progress I've worked so hard to achieve over the past few years. An emerging culture of fear could well do that, at least in this one area, and that means that a fight is on. It might already be on, because these spiritual things are a whole different battlefield. That's one song I do not want to sing another verse of in my life. I pray over it a lot, because I don't want to become another soldier of fear. I'm determined to stand firm and to protect the progress I've made. Fear is the devil's best tool, and by the power of Christ I will stand. I pray such courage will spread to others as well. That's a good infection that we desperately need.
Change will happen, and it can be tough to discern whether you're seeing the progressive or the destructive kind. All change is scary because it usually means challenges, hard work, sacrifice, and learning. Growth is hard because it stretches us to new places, but in the end it's good. And destruction also hurts because, well, it's supposed to hurt. There's nothing good about it and being torn down is a catalyst to find some courage and fight against whatever is trying to undo the progress you've done. In the end, you have to keep your head about you and discern the motives for the change. Pray, meditate, dig deep, ask questions, ponder the situation, and find out if the motive is pure. If it is, then you're being called upon to grow and it's a challenge and an opportunity to accept. If it's born of fear, sharpen your sword and get ready to fight because it's on like Donkey Kong, and you better be ready to stand firm or you'll get smashed by barrels of defeat.
And with that dated and somewhat lame analogy, I will call the point made and the entry done. I hope you have a great weekend and that all of you dad's out there have a Happy Father's Day tomorrow.
People often ask me why I decided to publish my writing through ebooks rather than in the more traditional format of paperback. The reason I give is that there’s no demand for my books in paperback, but the true reason is that a little thing called the printing press helped along The Protestant Revolution, and I believe the Internet is bringing about a similar revolution in our society. No, I don’t think you’ll see new religious practices rise out of the rise of the Internet, but it’s certainly impacting our entertainment options. More books are bought online than in bookstores and ebook sales are steadily rising. Frankly, I believe a new day is coming not only to the world of reading, but to the entire entertainment world, and I want to be on the front end of it.
It’s an undeniable truth that the traditional publishing industry is floundering, even if they don’t realize it, and the reason is the power of e-publishing and self-publishing. Agents and traditional publishers have long been plagued by the problem of trying to guess what people want to read, and making their selection on what to accept based on that. They rely on their “tried and true” authors to keep cranking out work that will appeal to audiences and almost never take a chance on a new author, even if their work is interesting. It’s just too risky to take a chance on making an investment that might not pay off, even though they do it with their regular list all the time and still lose. At least epublishing and self publishing allow new authors a chance to get their work in front of a niche audience and gauge their interest in the work so they can adapt, adjust, and improve their skills. You can’t do that if you’re being rejected by big or mid-list publishers every day. It leaves you in the same situation they’re in – guessing what a moving target wants. And yes, it’s a moving target because trends change all the time, and what’s popular today might be the thing they’re spoofing and making fun of tomorrow while they embrace “the next new thing” which, unfortunately, we only see in retrospect.
I read a blog article Thursday named 5 Reasons to Admire Self-Publishing, by Alison Baverstock
, and it turns out that most of those things are what all authors should be doing anyway. The only difference is that self-published authors direct all of their hard work and effort into a productive effort of putting their work out there instead of constantly knocking on doors that may never open for them. They take a chance and put it in front of the readers instead of begging “the experts” for a chance. Because whether you’re self published or traditionally published, the burden of producing work, capturing the interest of readers, and promoting your published work falls on you, the author. Even big publishers will only do a limited amount of publicity around your release date. Keeping interest up in the responsibility of the author.
I often hear people say that we still need the traditional publishing industry because self publishing allows anybody and everybody to publish a book, and there’s a lot of crap out there because there’s no quality control. I can’t deny that yes, you see a wide gamut of talent through self publishing, but I don’t think there’s a complete lack of quality control. The quality control is where it’s supposed to be – between the readers and the writers. Writers are tasked with putting their best work out there for the public to enjoy, and readers can help improve the quality by rating and reviewing the work they read. Believe it or not, writers rely heavily on good, constructive reviews so they know what the reader wants and how to adjust to deliver it, either through edits to their current work or to developing new work. Even if you don’t like it, you can help the author by articulating exactly what it was that kept you from entering the “suspension of belief” phase with their work so they know how to fix it. “I hated it” isn’t helpful, but a “the characters were good but I didn’t believe they would react to such and such situation the way they did given their personality quirks” is constructive advice that the writer can use to improve. And if the reader likes it, then such reviews are also helpful. We all like “I loved it!” but what’s helpful is “I liked it because I could relate to how the character reacted to such and such situation and appreciated how it affected his/her perspective on their life situation.” Reviews help tremendously, and if readers will engage more by posting them, then I believe the quality of self-published work that you see on the market will improve drastically over time.
That’s not to say that the traditional publishing industry is broken, or that it’s demise is imminent. Certainly it isn’t, and I don’t forsee a day when it won’t exist, but a new day is upon us. I believe that the Internet has opened up the world to allow people to enjoy entertainment by independent artists that would otherwise be denied by the traditional industry. Traditional publishers and institutions would be wise to keep an eye on trends in the indie world to see what people really want, and to adjust accordingly. After all, the niche markets shouldn’t be underestimated. That’s where the trends are born, and that’s where the “next big thing” is taking shape, perhaps this very minute.
That’s all today. I hope you have a great weekend.
First, I'd like to open this entry by thanking all of those who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. A lot of people are celebrating this weekend as the "unofficial start of summer," but we wouldn't have this freedom to celebrate if it weren't for those who serve to defend it. So for all who have served and all who do serve, thanks!
Second, in honor of kicking off the summer season, I'm offering Move for free through Wednesday. You can get it in any ebook format through Smashwords at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/286425
and entering Coupon Code HH37X. So go get yourself a free summer read now, and feel free to pick up any of my other titles featured on this website.
And third, summer is indeed a great season for reading. Whether it's by the poolside, on the beach, at the lake, at the summer getaway place, or just on your lunch hour, there's something about having a great book on hand to take your mind away. I know it's usually a season for ligher, fun reading, but for some reason, I find myself gravitating toward fantasy during the winter and sci-fi during the summer. (I read mysteries and some non-fiction all the time.) I'm not sure why this is. I've done a few other blogs on my favorite reads and I'd like to expand on that today by giving you a list of my favorite sci-fi and fantasy reads, since I'm currently making the transition from fantasy to sci-fi. Each title contains a link to it on Amazon, but, of course, you can find them at a number of other online or retail outlets. And without further ado, may I suggest:Guardian of Time (The Shardwell Series): By Amanda Gerry and C. Hall. By I thought about making a completely separate list for independent authors, but decided against it. They work just as hard at their craft (perhaps harder, since indies don't have agents to do promotion for them) and deserve the same respect as mainstream novels. This book is an amazing fantasy title that I was asked to do a review for, and I was so enthralled that I flew through it in a few days - no small feat, given my busy schedule and the fact that I was working on a sci-fi novella of my own at the time! It's about a young woman that runs away from her royal home to escape an arranged marriage, only to find that the arrangement was different - and much more complicated - than she imagined. This is actually a young adult novel, but I think even adult readers would enjoy it because it has a little bit of everything for you: intrigue, mystery, romance, betrayal and, best of all, a surprise ending. In fact, there's one other book in this series that I plan to add to my reading list once I get another gift card, and work through a bit more of my TBR list this summer!
Age of the Sigil, The Complete First Season and Age of the Sigil, The Complete Second Season. By: Melvin Ryley and Rich Dalglish. Another great young adult/fantasy novel about four teens that find they have been chosen to bear special powers that, once unlocked, will save their world that is under attack of ruin by a ruthless leader that's channeling magic to his will with disasterous results. One thing that intrigued me about these two novels are that they're written as "episodes" in a fashion similar to a reality TV series. I was skeptical about how this would work in a novel setting, but it actually kept a great pace and had action moving at an even clip without those dreaded "drag scenes" that you sometimes find in novels where attempts at character development occur. The four bearers of the sigils show a remarkable strength of character and growth through their trials, but it isn't rushed or contrived - in fact, their development is completely realistic and, I believe, reflective of how life's trials shape us all. A good read that goes by almost too fast, and leaves you wishing for more.
Mars Trilogy: Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars. By Kim Stanley Robinson. I eyed this trilogy about the terraforming and settlement of Mars for years before I finally settled down and read it last summer. Wow! It was amazing! You can tell that Robinson did a tremendous amount of research and really immersed himself in the development of this series. What impressed me the most was the great balance of science and humanity. It's well balanced and you can see how the development of Mars as a habitable world changes humanity - not only the people that immigrate there, but the people on Earth as well. You see a tremendous development not only of Mars as a planet, but in the people and characters as well. Green Mars was my favorite book of the series (which is rare for the second book to be the strongest in a trilogy, but it was in this case). This is definitely a work that sucks you in and captivates you. My only gripe was that I felt Blue Mars somewhat rushed to a conclusion, but in retrospect I wonder if that's true or if it was my own perspective of wanting more and for the tale to continue. An amazing trilogy. In fact, this trilogy made me a fan of Robinson's work and his most recent release, 2312, is next on my TBR list.
Mars, Return to Mars, and Saturn, By Ben Bova. In case you didn't know, I love sci-fi works that revolve around interstellar development - something that will no doubt be confirmed when my own sci-fi novel is released in November. And actually, I was hard pressed to find a favorite book by Ben Bova because he's written novels on Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Saturn and I love them all. I picked his novels about Mars and Saturn because they're the ones that stand out in my mind the most. But really, you can't go wrong with any of Bova's works. He's an outstanding sci-fi writer. I'm excited to see he has another release due out in July titled New Earth, and it looks quite interesting. It's on my Amazon wish list, and will definitely make it to my ereader apps in a few short months!
The Left Behind Series. By Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. I didn't include links to this because this series has 12 books and frankly, you'd do better to go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble and do a search for the series. Rick and I embarked on reading this series a few years ago, and although it's not strictly sci-fi or fantasy, it definitely has an "otherworldly element" to it. This series is based on the Book of Revelation in the Bible, but as a warning: don't expect fluff and stuff. It does get gritty - and a bit graphic in some places, so there are some parts that aren't for the faint of heart, but I fully believe that if you're a fan of sci-fi or fantasy then you'll have no problem with it (I didn't flinch, but others I know that aren't accustomed to sci-fi and fantasy that were shocked by some parts). If you're a Christian then I do recommend that you read this series, as it can help you to understand this mysterious last book of The Bible better. And one more thing: read the books, don't watch the series. The TV movies do differ from the books, and in fact they cut off with the third one, which was made before the third book was written and actually isn't anything like the novel at all.
So there you have it: A few sci-fi and fantasy suggestions to take your mind away this summer. I hope you'll check some of these titles out, and please - if you read a book and enjoy it, leave a review. Authors really like reviews because it lets us know how well our work is connecting to readers and helps us to write better in the future.
If you'd like to know more about books I've read and enjoyed, please feel free to visit my Goodreads profile, and send me a friend request if you're a member of that great online community!
That's all today. Have a safe weekend.
Well, I've done all I can. Move is published and as I wait for it to come through the various sales platforms there's not much left for me to do, except wait. I really can't do much until it's at least posted on Amazon, so ...
I need a break. And thank goodness I have the day off for President's Day today and can have it!
You know, there are a lot of stereotypes about writer's out there, none of which are true. For example, people assume we're rich. Oh, how I wish that were so. The truth is, the J.K. Rowlings and Steven Kings of the world are the exception rather than the rule. Most writers are writing their novels around home life and a full time job. Did you know that C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein never quit their day jobs as professors? Nope, they wrote their books while working full time. It makes me feel better to know that even great writers of the past had to do it the same way I am - juggling the writing with the rest of life. Others are retired from other careers and can now write full time because they've "done their time," like P.D. James. So there's not big money in writing and even if there were enough money in it, you can't get a loan with only royalty payments coming in. Creditors want to see a steady income, a guaranteed paycheck. Plus there are other nuisances like insurance and retirement that you have to consider. So no, we aren't rich. In fact, it behooves us to have a steady job because life in the 21st century isn't friendly to the freelance lifestyle.
Another stereotype is that writing is easy. Oh, don't I wish. While story ideas do come to us easily, pulling them off is a trick. You have to make things believable, at least in theory, or readers will let you know in full surround sound stereo that "this couldn't possibly happen!" And then there go your book sales. I spent 6 months researching Splinter before I wrote the first word for National Novel Writing Month in 2010, and still had to do follow up research for rewrites and edits in later drafts. Likewise with Move - I researched and planned that novel for about 3 months before I started writing, and in fact was still doing some research as I wrote it. I had to diagram out Anywhere But Here to keep the parallel storylines straight, which was a challenge that gave me plenty of headaches. And I found myself running around and doing plenty of checking and researching while working on every draft of Blurry. I thought writing fiction would be less research than writing non-fiction, but honestly I think it's 6 of one and half a dozen of the other when it comes to research. You have to do it. You also have to keep going through to make sure you're maintaining consistency, which is an issue with anything you write. Add to that the fact that you're squeezing in writing with a full life, and no, it isn't easy. I'm lucky to have 2 hours a day to devote to writing. That's my absolute maximum, and I can't even have it every day because there are still chores, errands, home care, self care, husband care, and bird care that must be attended to. Life doesn't stop because you're writing a novel. It plugs right along, and it's very persistent in reminding you that it's there and needs tending to. Honestly, I don't know how people with children can do this, but plenty do. Where there's a will, there's a way. I make the best of my 2 hours when I get it, and I suppose they must know what blocks of time they have and how to handle them.
And the last stereotype is one that greatly amuses me. People think we lounge around the house in our pajamas, sipping coffee (or tea) and typing great prose all day. Well from the truths shared above, I think you see how that's impossible. My boss wouldn't be very happy if I lived like that because I am supposed to report to the office on Monday - Friday. My birds might like that if I took frequent play and feeding breaks, but after a while they tend to get screamy and want mommy to pay attention to them. I believe my husband and family would object to a hermit lifestyle. And even on weekends, there's always something that needs doing. Homes and cars need care and maintenance. It's like the joke running around on social media about Sunday being a day of rest - rest of the chores, rest of the errands, rest of the stuff I didn't get done Monday - Saturday! True. So true.
No, it's not easy being a writer, nor is it glamerous. There have been plenty of times when I asked myself if it's worth it to invest so much into shoving this into my life, but the answer always comes back to yes. I love writing and being an author has been a lifelong dream. And while it might not live up to the nice stereotypes, it's still worth it to have my work out there for readers to enjoy. The purpose of writing is to create stories that entertain and inspire people. The Lord has gifted me with these stories and I don't want to bury my talent. I want to share it with the world.
And yes, the work is worth it.
That's all today. Take care. I hope you have a great day. Enjoy the day if you're off. I need to get out there in the world and take care of all that stuff that piled up while I was working on getting Move published. The world is out there, and it's time I got engaged in it again.
I'm happy to announce that I released my latest novel, Move, yesterday! As you can see from the front page, I published it through Smashwords and it should be available through Amazon later today. I'm so excited!
As you know from previous posts, Move is a story about a young woman that unknowingly makes a deal with a djinn (genie) and finds out that messing with fate is an unpredictable and dangerous venture - especially with the djinn doesn't have full mastery of his craft! This is really a book about dealing with life ruts, and the proper way to get out of them. The protagonist, Ruby Josen, finds herself in a life rut that she can't seem to break free of, but it turns out to be a trap of her own making. Ruby isn't moving ahead because Ruby is afraid of change, and her desire to stick with the comfort of the familiar holds her back from taking chances that would lead to a better life. By taking the passive approach of letting another deal with her problems, she hopes that she can keep the comfort of what she knows and let others deal with doing the work that a better life would take. Plus, she finds herself victimized by other peoples' mistakes and doesn't know how to stand up for herself. Ruby's passive demeanor puts her in the perfect trap, and she can't see that the key to freedom is in her own hands - and that if she won't use that key, others will use her self-imposed imprisonment to their advantage.
So why self publish this novel, when I worked so hard on it for so long? Simply stated, I prayed over it and realized that my mixed genre approach could make publishers uncomfortable. Although audiences are willing to snap up vampire-romances, other forms of mixed genres are taking on more slowly, and a lot depends on having one genre clearly primary over another - which this book does not. I define this book as a mix of urban-fantasy and mystery and by and large, that gets mixed reviews from readers. Some love it, while others that don't like to see a heavy mix of genres dislike it (especially when it comes to mysteries). I very much believe in this novel and feel that there is an audience for it, but I'm not sure that a publisher would be comfortable with a novel that's not clearly one genre over another. In short terms, I thought it was more likely to be rejected, so I decided to strike out on my own with this one. We'll see how readers react.
It's been a lot of work, but well worth it. I hope readers will enjoy it. Keep an eye on the home page of this website for links to more online bookstores as they become available, as well as other promotional news and information.
That's all today. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and I hope you have a great start to the new week.
If you love books then you know that most people view you as being lost in a fantasy world. This stereotype applies to readers just as much as writers. People think we get so lost in those "other worlds" that we aren't in touch with reality.
And they're wrong.
Oh, they're very wrong because I believe they miss a fundamental point: the reason why we retreat into those worlds - whether it's one created by us or one created by others - is because we're VERY in touch with reality. In fact, we're probably in touch with it better than others are, because the very nature of the worlds we "visit" cause us to perceive the world we're "in" with more detail and clairity than most people do.
It is true that there's a thin line between fiction and reality. In fact, I believe most people would be very surprised at how much reality is reflected in fiction. It's masked, of course. The entire purpose, at least in fiction, it to entertain, but it does that by showing us different reflections of what we know. No matter what the genre, that new and different world holds up a mirror to make us see reflections of what we know in new and different ways. Do you relate to the characters? It's because you understand what they face based on situations or experiences you have. Are you intrigued by the plot or theme? It's because it reflects something that interest you in your own life. Do you ponder a course of action? It's because you see something there that you have or do face and are trying to stretch your mind to consider wider possibilities.
So the next time you see a reader or writer, don't be so quick to assume that they're out of touch with reality. In fact, they might be more in sync with reality the little things that so many people take for granted speak to them, and help them to see the "real world" with a wider perspective and a clairity that pierces the surface and gets the core of meaning - a meaning that could change everything, not just in the worlds they visit with writing and reading, but in the very life they live, everyday.
And isn't that what fantasy is about - taking us out of reality, so we can come back and see our own life more clearly? It's something to think about.
That's all today. Happy Friday to you, and I hope you have a great weekend.
One thing I've intended to do in this blog is to talk about books I've read and enjoyed. Unfortunately, I'm a slow reader, especially when I'm working on a major writing project, as I have been with Move
since May and Feathered Frenzy
since August. I do still enjoy reading, though, and had an idea that a good way to kick off working this into my blog would be to give you list of books I've read in the past that I enjoyed. I plan to link them to Amazon so you can find and purchase them easily. Be forewarned: I'm fond of e-books, so if there's an ebook version then that's the link I'll share. But most of them have paperback versions available as well.
And why wait until the New Year to start? We're winding down 2012 and many of you are probably looking for a devotional book to read in the new year. If you didn't get one for Christmas, I'd like to start sharing my reading list with you by recommending some devotionals I've read that I found inspiring.
1. A Year With C.S. Lewis
. This is by far my favorite devotional. In fact, I plan to read it again this year. They're brief but thought provoking excerpts from Lewis' work, which is perfect for me since Lewis is one of my favorite writers. Definitely my #1 recommendation.
2. Simple Abundance - A Daybook of Comfort and Joy
, by Sarah Ban Breathnach. This is a close second on my list. This book is an inspirational guide to helping you find your authentic self. It's not strictly religious - in fact, Breathnach makes many historical and cultural references to help guide you on the journey. One word of advice on this is that some of the entries can get lengthy, so if you choose this devotional then make sure you read the entry when you have some time to sit down and read perhaps 2-3 pages. But it's well worth it!
3. The Confident Woman Devotional
, by Joyce Meyer. I'll be honest: This is one for those times in life when you need to start kicking a** and taking names. And ladies, we all need this pep talk every now and then. A great devotional to inspire you to find your confidence, set boundaries to protect it, and stand up for yourself. Plus, the readings are short and easy to read. You'll finish the year believing you can slay a dragon - without even chipping your nail polish.
4. Daily Guideposts 2013.
Every year, Guideposts magazine releases a devotional book that features daily entries from their series of authors. Personally, I find it refreshing to get a different devotional from a different writer each day, because I feel it offers a broader perspective. The readings are brief - about a page each - and easy to read.
5. The Everyday Bible
. One thing I do every other year is read through The Bible. You can read through it in a year if you read roughly 3 chapters every day. I like this version because it's easy to read and understand, but it's not so contemporary that the meaning is lost. Of course, there are many study Bibles available and I encourage you to use any version that you like best. I recommend this one because it's the one I prefer.
So there you have my 5 recommendations for daily devotional readings. I plan to offer more entries in the future on books in other genres that I've read and enjoyed and, of course, I'll share any new reads that I come across as well. It's one more way for me to expand the scope of this blog. As if I don't cover everything that comes to my mind anyway! :)
That's all today. Happy Friday to you, and I hope you have a great weekend.
We hope this digital letter finds you safe, healthy, happy, and enjoying a wonderful holiday season. In the spirit of the annual holiday letter, I thought it would be fun to share some of the highlights of the past year with you.
I know, this is a blog. You've been keeping up. But for the sake of those that don't like to log in twice a week for my ramblings, well, here's a summary:
Rick just wrapped up a 3 year term on church council at Mt. Tabor. He was heading up the IT committee and did a great job updating the website (which was his major project for his first year on council) and with keeping up staff technology needs. It did get to be a bit of a challenge this year, though. We lost both of our pastors this year - the head pastor left for a higher position with the Synod in March, and the associate pastor left to head up a congregation in Charleston, which is where he's from. It was tough losing them - and then major changes at Rick's job drastically altared his work situation, which has required more overtime work and made serving a bit more challenging. But he stuck in there and was determined to see his term through. We're very proud of him for hanging in there despite the challenges of the past few months, and for all he's done for the church. You can check out the church website that he designed at www.mttaborlutheran.org
Unfortunately, I had to quit both of my church committees. I had always planned to step down from the IT committee when Rick's term ended, but major changes in my own work situation and my writing picking up cut significantly into my spare time for volunteer activities. There are some things and events that I do hope to continue participating in, but right now being on a standing committee isn't something that's practical for me. It's a shame, too, because I enjoyed it and hated to give it up. Maybe in another season of life.
My work has picked up with additional duties. I'm now working with 4 licensure programs, and recent staff shortages have put more of a burden on remaining staff. I do finally have a window office, which is good (although I got the workload that came with it), and I'm also required to travel twice a year for the landscape architect program. Last year I attended the spring meeting in late February in Miami, and the national meeting in September in San Francisco. That trip to Miami was the first time I've ever flown! It's not bad, either. And while I'm not a big fan of travel, well, I'm hanging in there to see how it works out. The next meeting up is the regional meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona in March. We'll see. That's all I can say for now. Overall the job is good, although it has been very stressful lately. Our workload usually peaks in December (exam deadlines, plus people in a rush to get licensed to get projects in the new year), and being down a person has been hard. Hopefully, we'll fill that open position soon and things will level out. I'm off work until January 2, so hopefully some time with family, friends, and at home with Rick and the birds will do me some good.
My writing is also making progress. I published my second fiction novel, Anywhere But Here
, through Whiskey Creek Press in April. They offered me a contract for my third fiction novel, a sci-fi apocolyptic novel titled Splinter
, last summer. I'm already working on two writing projects now that I hope to wrap up in the spring. One is another mystery novel titled Move
. It's about a young woman that unknowingly makes a deal with a djinn (genie), but unfortunately his help is rather radical and leads to more problems than solutions. The other is a non-fiction book titled Feathered Frenzy
. It's basically a "quick reference guide" to give people tips on making their home and lifestyle bird-friendly. And believe it or not, I ALREADY have an idea for my next project. That one is still in a very early brainstorming stage. I'm not even considering working on that one more until I get my two current projects finished. I'm building an audience and working on many promotional things for my published novels. It's slow work, but worth it. I enjoy writing and I think going the "independent author" route was the right choice - especially with the traditional route going into decline as e-publishing picks up. I hope I hit the e-book wave at just the right time!
The birds are doing well. They'll be doing their own Christmas letter to you on their blog over at http://conurecorner.weebly.com
soon. Santa has big plans for them and I think we're going to have three very happy birdies in a couple of days!
Our families are doing well. Mom and Dad are staying busy, as usual. Mom had surgery for carpral tunnel last summer and I tell you, that's the fastest surgery recovery I've ever seen! She was back up and running in no time! Dad is still working. Retirement talk comes up from time to time, but no definite plans or timeline yet. I tell you, those design professionals - they love their work and don't like to retire! Stephen and Nicole are doing well too. Stephen's still keeping them straight as a department head at Public Safety, and Nicole is working at home in medical transcription. She graduated from a medical management program in the spring, but unfortunately she had to have surgery for diverticulitis shortly after graduation, so that was an unexpected hiccup in her life. But she's doing fine now and moving forward again.
Rick's parents are also doing ok. You know his father has dementia, so there are good days and bad days - that's just how it goes with that. They joined the Methodist church up the road last month. Our nieces and Rick's sister and brother-in-law are also doing well. We just got back from our Christmas visit with them in Greenville this morning. They stay busy with work, school, and activities - much like all of us.
And yes, in case any of you are wondering, I did complete my New Year's resolution of reading through The Bible again this year. I actually finished it in September!
Well, that's pretty much it. We are truly blessed and thank God every day for all that He has done for us and allowed us to do for others. We hope all of you are doing well and that life is being good to you. You know that everybody is welcome to visit this website and blog. I strive to update it at least twice a week. Some people have themes for their blogs and while the theme of this website is my writing, the blog isn't limited to that. In fact, I believe all of life inspires my writing, and this blog is open to anything and everything happening in life. Feel free to read, share, and pass it along to anybody interested, whether it's family, friends, readers, other writers, or anybody that's interested in how one writer's life inspires her tales!
Merry Christmas everybody! I hope you have a safe and happy holiday season and that your new year is filled with joy, peace and prosperity.
God bless and best wishes,
Rick and Sherri
Hi all, sorry to not update for a while. Life seems to naturally get much busier for me in the fall, and I've been trying to squeeze out one more draft of Move before the holidays. Thank God, I finally managed to finish draft #4 last night. I tell you, I struggled with this one. I found out that both of my publishers now require a minimum 60,000 word count for mystery novels now, and the last draft of Move came in at a little under 50,000 words. I had to add over 10,000 words. It resulted in six new chapters and adding a lot of detail. I beleive the changes are well worth it and make it a much better novel, but this wasn't easy. I have done three read throughs to make the additions and make sure that everything is "plugged in" and fits together correctly. I'm happy with this draft, though. The plot is much stronger now and I feel the story benefitted from the additions. I hope to have a final draft of this done and submitted to one of my publishers by May 2013.
Oh NaNo participants, this is what you have to look forward to. Yes, writing that rough draft is the hardest (and most time consuming) part, but the rewrites can be a pain too. But don't worry about that now. Just get that draft out there and you can worry about editing hell in 2013.
I also managed to squeeze in a revision of Feathered Frenzy this morning too. That's a very short work - I actually call it a guide because it's more the length of a novellette (at 15,500 words). I'm going to self publish that one, so it will get done when it gets done. Maybe I'll have it ready in late winter or early spring 2013.
But for now, my current writing projects are caught up and I'm putting them on hold for the holidays. Life is just too busy now. We're doing a major housecleaning to prepare for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and that season is always a whirlwind of activity. There's just too much to do and trying to squeeze in time for ongoing writing projects with family activities, social activities, and work is more stress than it's worth. So I've decided to just do promotion for my published works and blogging for the remainder of 2012, and I'll pick up my ongoing writing projects again in 2013.
In other news, Rick's term on council is drawing to a close. He and the other three members had nominees put forth to replace them next year, and the congregation will vote on them December 2. Rick has one more thing to follow up with on his committee and he's helping with the congregational meetings for the elections, but it's winding down. Only one more meeting in December and he turns in his office key and goes back to being a regular member of the congregation. I say yay. He's done a lot the past 3 years. We all have (meaning the fellow council members and their spouses). I wish the nominees luck and blessing as they take over the reigns.
You know I left my committees? I'm helping Rick with his through the end of his term, but I had to come off the other committee. They're planning ongoing activities on weekdays and I just can't do that with my work schedule, so I had to quit. It's too bad because I did enjoy being more active in church, but my writing is building up and my workload is increasing since one of my colleagues resigned to go work for another section in the agency. The good news is that she has a window office and I'm moving in it when she moves out in a couple of weeks. So for the first time in my almost 15 years of working full time, I'll have a window office. The bad news is, I'm also getting her Board - so there are more meetings I have to put on and disciplinary actions to deal with until a replacement is hired. *Groan* And we all know that can be a slow process. But I'll survive. If the Lord brings you to it, He'll bring you through it. It just meant that I had to quit my church committees. Too bad really, but hopefully I'll be able to help out with activities here and there in the future. There are a couple of things I really enjoy helping with like greeting and our free thrift day, and I'd really like to continue helping with those things.
So that's where it's at for now. Things are coming along and I'm happy for that. Thankfully, I have today off for Veteran's Day, so hopefully I'll be able to get even more in order and on track. I've already made great progress today, but now I need to log off to deal with other matters, like holiday shopping and housecleaning.
Thanks to all the Veteran's that fought and gave their lives so we're free to live our crazy, hectic lives under the blessing of freedom. God bless all those who have served and continue to serve our country and to protect our freedom. We do appreciate you and pray for your safety and well being every day.
That's all today. Take care and have a great week.
Ok readers, I'm talking to you. Are you thinking about giving someone an ereader for the holidays? Or are you anxiously hoping that Santa will leave a tablet in your stocking this year? Well, start off your ebook collection right by checking out some great indie authors during the Winter Book Blast Event on December 15-23, 2012!
The Winter Book Blast is a blog hop hosted by DelSheree Gladden with The Edible Bookshelf
. She will be hosting a variety of authors, who will tell you a bit about their books and where to buy them. The schedule for the blog hop is:Dec 15th: Action Adventure
Dec 16th: Drama
Dec 17th: Crime
Dec 18th: Romance
Dec 19th: Young Adult
Dec 20th: Historical Fiction
Dec 21st: Mystery/Detective
Dec 22nd: Fantasy
Dec 23rd: Young Adult Fantasy/Paranormal
In addition to meeting great authors and finding excellent books for your ereader or tablet, you'll also have a chance to win FREE BOOKS! That's right, many authors featured will offer paperback or ebook copies of their books during the book blast. One Grand Prize Winner will win a prize pack of books.
Stay tuned to this blog and to The Edible Bookshelf for more information on this fantastic, fun blog hop that will expand your book collection and your imagination is ways you never dreamed possible!
Thanks to Del Sheree for offering authors this great chance to "meet" readers and to all of you for your support of independent authors.