Monday, July 30, 2007

Conference Blessings

There is a very creative buzz in the air. Murmurings about the ACFW conference in Dallas this September. I can't help remembering my first ACFW conference.

I drove to Houston all by myself. That's not unusual. I often drive to Houston by myself but this time I was attending a very large conference--alone. Sure I was meeting my online crit partner and good friend Marilynn Griffith, but we'd only talked via email. We'd agreed to room together, but what if she didn't like me? I was blasted by my insecurities as I circled the Airport Marriott trying to conjure up courage.

I walked inside and took care of registration then I sat and waited for something to happen. Kristy Dykes was sitting too and I'll always remember her kindness and encouragement. I don't approach strangers. I suffer from blank mind syndrome.

I recognized Mary immediately. She is every bit as charismatic in person as she is in her emails. We had fun rooming together. We laughed like crazy when my husband or hers--can't remember which one--called and couldn't tell us apart. Mary and I didn't hang together through out the conference. We split up and did our own thing. The trouble with that was. . . I didn't have a thing. I had no plans. I didn't have one sheets, pitches, proposals or appointments. I was there strictly to get the lay of the inspirational-writing-land.

As stressful as that conference was for me, knowing so few people, I came away from it so filled with the Holy Spirit that all I wanted to do was write. I didn't have a plan, but God did.

When I returned home, I was approached by a friend at the Beaumont Enterprise about writing for one of their inserts. I agreed. I could hardly believe the yes that came from my mouth. You see, I'd written NF many times before and truly hated it. It just wasn't my thing. Why was I saying yes?

Becky gave me my assignments and I met my deadlines. Within weeks I was asked to write for a Chamber of Commerce magazine and then a business magazine. I knew these assignments were a God-thing, and a result of attending the ACFW conference. How did I know? Because Becky had asked me to write for her several times before and I'd always vehemently refused. God wasn't opening this door for me. I believe He was giving me one more chance. A chance to be obedient. Several of the people I interviewed and profiled were very strong Christian businesswomen. Their stories would not have been told the way I told them if they'd been interviewed by someone else.

At the conference, we had been given the opportunity to dedicate our writing to God. I went forward. Someone prayed with me. I know without doubt God used the ACFW conference to change my heart about writing nonfiction and He used Becky to test my sincerity and my obedience. And because I was obedient, He blessed me. What would have happened if I'd returned home and once again, refused to write for Becky? I don't want to think about it. The blessings flowed. I wrote an article about Women In Toastmasters. You can click here to see how that article led to so much more.

My cup runneth over. :-) Thank you, ACFW, for being a place to learn and worship. You are a land of opportunity. :)

Last year, I attended the conference in Dallas and met critique partners, Sandra Robbins, Elizabeth Ludwig, Janelle Mowery and Marcia Gruber for the first time. We're all headed to Dallas again this year, and I know we each wonder what God has planned?

I pray we each truly believe God has a plan for our writing.
I pray we're willing to listen and learn.
I pray we're patient until He reveals that plan.
I pray that we're close enough to Him that we hear and recognize His voice.
I pray that we're obedient.
I pray that everyone at conference is there for the right reason.
I pray we're of one mind--to use our writing for His gain.
I pray no one is hurt or disillusioned but realistic about where they are in their writing.
I pray we show the love of Jesus to everyone we come in contact with because people are watching us with a critical eye.
I praise God for each and every ACFW member.

To God be the glory, great things He has done!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Making a Commitment

An agent has offered me a contract. I've signed it. \o/ Yes, Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
But I'm scared. Signing on with an agent means I'll HAVE to get my book polished fooling around. Reading his note over and over again, and staring at that contract, I asked myself all kinds of questions:
Can I do it?
Do I really want to do it?
If I really want to do it, why haven't I done it?
You know... all that searching, second guessing stuff we deal with. Commitment scares me. Especially this kind of commitment where I have to produce and all of you out there actually watch and see what I produce.

I remind myself of the man in Matthew who was given one talent of money and he buried it. He was fearful. He didn't have faith in his own abilities or his Master. And because of his fear, because he didn't exercise that talent or the understanding he had, he lost it all.

I'll go out on the weakest limb to encourage others to pursue their dreams, hone their talents, but I seem to have no encouragement for myself. It's almost as if I want to shoot myself in the foot before someone does it for me. :-)
Not anymore.
I want to be that guy who was given five talents and gained five more. I can do it because according to Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." And I believe it!

By offering me a contract the agent is saying, "Hey, you ain't half bad. Revise, clean it up, flesh it out and I think I can sell you." He's fanning into flame the gift God gave me (2 Tim. 1:6). And now I must be diligent in these matters; give myself wholly to them so that everyone may see my progress (1 Tim 4:15).

What about you? If you're anything like me, then go to Matthew 25:14 and read the Parable of the Talents. Make a new commitment to glorifying your Master. I did...and I will.

Praise God from whom all blessings flowwwwwwww!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Thank You! Thank You! Thank You... I think.

I'm baaaaaaack!
I'm so exhausted from trying to figure out these blogger problems I probably won't post again for some time. They've worn me down...whoever they are.

What have I learned from this? A lot. I know just what to do the next time it happens:

1) Have patience.
2) Hang in there.

And isn't that what a writer does?

Blogger Help for the Blogging Impaired

My blog has disappeared from the face of blogger. I understand since Blogger offers this free service, allowing me to blog, that they owe me nothing, but I'm on my knees here pleading... give me my blog back!


The Robots Have Set Me FREEEEEEEEE :-)

I've been unable to post for several days for the following reasons:

Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. (What's a spam blog?) Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive.

We received your unlock request on July 20, 2007. On behalf of the robots, we apologize for locking your non-spam blog. Please be patient while we take a look at your blog and verify that it is not spam.

Find out more about how Blogger is fighting spam blogs.

All I have to say is, yep, I'm an acutal person. And I can't believe I've been accused by . . . robots? :) I do appreciate that they've recognized that my blog is a non-spam blog, but I have to admit, it'll take quite a bit of patience on my part for them to verify that it's not spam. Figure that one out!

I did come across a really great blog that taught me a lot. Check it out. Blogger Tips and Tricks

Who Said Revisions Are Fun? - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Around the Block and Back

I've been reading Writer's Digest and The Writer for 40 years. I belong to many writer's groups. I've watched writing rules and trends come and go. My critique partners catch things I do in my writing that are no longer acceptable. Old habits are hard to break. Still, the basic rules are the same. Some things I hear and read on my various writer's loops, I absolutely refuse to believe. I will never put my manuscript in a colored folder and ship it off, hoping the editor will be drawn to its bright color. I suspect the author who spouted that bit of advice was trying to sabotage her competition. I refuse to believe that Barbie can help me with styles and fashions or description of any kind. I'd rather watch What Not To Wear than play dress-up with skinny dolls. I won't be buying a big exercise ball to sit on at the computer. I need to focus on writing not sitting or exercising or balancing or stretching. I don't intend to hire a publicist for $3,000 bucks a month. I know how to read a phone book, write letters and make phone calls. I can schedule book signings, interviews and send out flyers. God gave me a brain and a lot of people have been instrumental in teaching me how to use it.

God gave you a brain and I'm sure you know how to use it, so listen up:

You can learn how to write by reading how-to books, trade magazines, taking writing classes, joining a critique group and professional organizations and actually writing.

You can learn how to sell your book by reading how-to books, joining writer's groups, reading The Writer and Writer's Digest, and actually sending your work to editors and agents.

You can learn to market your book by reading how-to books, joining professional writer's organizations, reading The Writer and Writer's Digest and networking with other writers.

Wisdom from the Past:

Carl Jung: Through pride we are ever deceiving ourselves. But deep down below the surface of the average conscience a still, small voice says to us, 'Something is out of tune.'

Carl Rogers: If we value independence, if we are disturbed by the growing conformity of knowledge, of values, of attitudes, which our present system induces, then we may wish to set up conditions of learning which make for uniqueness, for self-direction, and for self-initiated learning.

Carl Sagan: One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. The bamboozle has captured us. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.

Christopher Reeve:
I think we all have a little voice inside us that will guide us. It may be God, I don't know. But I think that if we shut out all the noise and clutter from our lives and listen to that voice, it will tell us the right thing to do.

Use your brain. Listen to your gut. Take the lead. Go write.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. ~Annie Dillard

Lost, yesterday, somewhere between Sunrise and Sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever. ~Horace Mann

... we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.
~Paul Bowles

No time like the present. ~Mrs. Manley

I tend to take time for granted, even though my days are rushing by with phenomenal speed. I can almost see the calendar pages flipping as they do in those old black and white movies. I can't put time away for future use like I do fine china or monogramed Christmas napkins. Time is now. I want to wear Mrs. Manley's words like a second skin; I want to live them.

No time like the present. No time like the present. No time like the present.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Rockin' Girl Blogger?

How funny is this? Only my friend Christa would consider me a rockin' blogger. My daughter doesn't venture too far outside Facebook, and certainly no where near her mom's blog, and my husband doesn't even know about Praise, Prayers and Observations. Yes, this middle-aged, rockin' mama--uh, blogger--has a secret life. To my way of thinking, the more people who know I have a blog, the more pressure there is for me to perform, I mean, blog. :) But let me introduce you to a few of my cool blogging friends--my critique partners.

Lisa has been away at youth camp so she's probably recuperating. Actually, she had to get back to her full time job, her editing business, her writing, her husband... no time for recuperating! She definitely deserves the title Rockin' Blogger for being so organized.

Janelle just got home from a cross-country trip only to face getting a requested proposal/completed manuscript prepared and in the mail. She's got a house full of company and besides being a mom, a farm wife, and working at her church she has an ongoing battle with her computer. Yes, my friend Janelle, definitely deserves this Rockin' Blogger banner for not tearing her hair and kicking the dog. Don't hold it against her if her blog isn't updated.

Marcia just returned from a relaxing month on the Nueces River where she typed away on that great new book she's started. Marcia is new to blogging. Maybe this Rockin' Blogger award will give her incentive to make another entry. I'm waaaaiiiittttinng. :)

Sandra has been zipping up and down the highways of Tennessee transporting grandchildren to and from the airport, meeting with web designers, and plotting her next thriller. If you want to be looking over your shoulder every few minutes, just get your hands on one of Sandra's manuscripts. Who could know this sweet lady has a dark side? She definitely deserves a Rockin' Blogger banner.

We're a busy bunch, yet we love our families, volunteer in our churches, and still devote time to our writing. Hopefully, that will never change. I pray that when we're blessed with multiple contracts and deadlines, we'll remember what's truly important: our God, our families, our friends--and we'll continue to be cool Rockin' Bloggers.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

God Bless America!

Praise God for our veterans of yesteryear. We must never forget who gets the credit for the freedoms we have, of which we should be eternally grateful. My dear husband is in the burgundy shirt, bottom row, center. These few men and women, honored last Sunday at church, are about a third of those on stage.

God Bless our Military who are protecting our Country for our freedom. Thanks to them, and their sacrifices we can celebrate the 4th of July

Father God, be with each man and woman serving our country. Let them feel our love.

Amen and Amen