Saturday, January 30, 2010



Everyone has to start somewhere. First solid food, first steps, first words, first day of school, first grade, first dance, first kiss, first day of high school, first love, first place, first day of college, first day on the job, first marriage (I'm still on that and plan to stay there,) first child...well, you get my drift here.

I always hated first days, actually. I tend to block out those beginnings. I can't remember my first solid food, for example (though they tell me it was pear preserves that my grandmother made. Sure liked them.) There is some excitement, of course, but still not only the anticipation, but the actual trying to do that first thing is a bit of a pain. 

Because of Books & Such's Etta Wilson's blog on writing your first book, I was thinking about my writing in high school. I was the school newspaper's art editor and my high school's first woman sports editor. (I had two football players for my flunkies! It was cool.) But my desire was to write fiction. So, I wrote almost every day in these notebooks I kept, specifically with that in mind. I wrote about my own life, and it was raw and unchecked and painful. My high school years were quite painful--not the high school days which were my relief, but my home life. I kept it all hidden, but didn't hide it from my "book."

When I graduated, I was off to college with a journalism scholarship and couldn't wait to leave home. But before I left home, I took my book and burned it in a barrel, page-by-page. It felt great. I thought I was on a whole new chapter of my life and that I could leave it all behind. No one told me that you carry all that with you--that it was written in my mind and heart. I'm sure a lot of that book deserved the flames of editing ("just burn that thing!") but I never forgot how it felt to write it out, how it felt to start that book. 

Interestingly enough, the only person I ever let read even a small portion was my cousin, Sally Jo. She was a daughter of missionaries and they were on furlough from Africa. We older kids stayed in my family's camper in the driveway and of course, that meant long talks and giggling. I pulled out my notebook and let her read portions. She claimed later that inspired her to begin writing, too. She later published many articles and books. She suffered from lupus, but died of pancreatic cancer. She was fearless. She accomplished much in her too short life. 

I've had many people come to me with their writing, wanting me to read it and more importantly, to see if they could find a way to publish their writing. I always think of Sally and encourage them to work hard on it. It is a joy in my life to have a part in someone's success. Yes, I might set fire to a few words in the process, but I never completely burn it to the ground, like I did my own writing.

Some of that which I burned on the eve of heading to college has somehow sprouted anew in this late stage of my life. I've been thinking over what I could use from those years where I first wrote so raw and furiously. I sometimes wish I had those words to look over, to feel that first empowerment of directing characters and my own life--to have that control I so didn't have over my own circumstances. It may be why I'm so unsatisfied with anything I write today. Or maybe I just need to start at the beginning. Use that first fire to warm my soul.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Like Lilacs in Snow

 If your lilacs are already in bloom do you mourn that the cold snow may have killed the blooms? Or do you take a photo, stop the moment and enjoy the unexpected, temporary beauty?

So many things lately have been unexpected. I hate things coming unexpectedly. I would probably be worried (if I had a lilac bush) that the snow or ice killed my lilac bush. I would fuss and knock the snow off--maybe put a bag over the blooms in order to save them. I am ashamed to say that if things don't go according to plan, I don't look for the joy in the moment--I probably worry about what will happen because of it veering off the track of how I thought it should go.

I was worried about family traveling on the ice-covered roads early this morning. But each one was able to cancel travel plans and are snug at home (for the moment!)

So today I decided to learn to appreciate the temporary, because isn't all of life temporary? We really don't know what the next moment will bring, so I think you have to live right now, blooming for all you're worth.

And that's my thought for today.

"In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy." Philippians 1:4 (NIV)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New Writers Blog at Hoosier Ink

Hoosier Ink is the new blog of the Indiana American Christian Fiction Writers chapter. A long list of chapter members are writing posts and you should check it out! People like Cara Putman, Colleen Coble and Denise Hunter will be contributing and giving insight on writing fiction. I love the IN ACFW people--and I was proud to serve them as president and then advisor to the board in the past.

Do come by today as yours truly will be posting once a month and it's my first post there. Already there have been some great posts and I look forward to hearing from my fellow IN ACFW chapter members.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Calico Christmas at Dry Creek by Janet Tronstad: Historical Romance

Calico Christmas at Dry Creek (Dry Creek Historical Series, Book 1) (Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical #19) Calico Christmas at Dry Creek by Janet Tronstad

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I love Janet's Dry Creek series with Love Inspired, but this is a Love Inspired Historical--going back to the early days of Dry Creek and Miles City. It's a Christmas story, but you could read it any time of the year.

In 1879 Elizabeth O'Brien is a young widow who loses her husband and baby to influenza not long after coming to the Montana territory. Jake Hargrove is desperate, looking for someone to nurse his baby niece and help him with her older sister--little girls who are half-Sioux, orphaned not long after Jake's brother asks Jake to take care of them when their mother dies. Jake has never been married and must find help quick--and no one else will take little girls who are half-Indian. 

I love the details in this story--of Elizabeth's expertise in cooking and dyeing cloth, of the harsh realities of living in the Northwest and how to survive, mourn, of prejudice and fears and relying on God.

View all my reviews >>

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Tell Me a Story

The woman on the right is my grandmother.(Anna) The other two are her sisters.(Mina and Jeanette) I never met any of them, but I've heard many stories about them over the years. The one on the left (Mina) left writings to describe their lives. I started transcribing some of those stories into fiction and it has been fascinating to me to think about how a couple generations ago they were living, hurting, loving, surviving, as well as developing into strong women, and how they loved God, too. 

I still struggle as to whether to write historical romance or contemporary romance. I keep trying both. But which will win out? A writer must write. I am a storyteller, but which stories to tell?

What stories do you like to read/hear? I admit openly how much I love historical and historical romance. I have tried to figure out why,  but I decided it is just part of who I am. But can I write those kinds of stories? Only time will tell. And this is the year I resolved to tell these stories outside of my own circle of family. In the meantime I have already come under attack.