I Won, I Won!

A couple of weeks ago I entered The Christmas Letter (a short story) in the Faithwriter's Christmas Writing Contest. This morning I received a notice that my story had taken 3rd place (out of 60 entries). The big prize? $15.00!

Here's what they said about the judging...

We had over sixty entries and three judges located in different parts of the USA. Each judge read all entries and narrowed it down to their top five with no discussions with the other judges. The first time the fifteen submissions were brought together, two judges had four of the same entries. All three judges had three of the same entries. The judges were quite surprised themselves and felt God must be involved.

I'm so excited because lately I've really been stalled in my writing and doubting my writing abilities. Here's a link to the story in case you want to read it (and why wouldn't you?).

-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

A Little Face to Face Conversation

A couple of years ago I entered a writing challenge - write a short story using the following prompt: Face to Face Conversation.

If I remember correctly, I placed in the top 3 in my level (intermediate). Just re-read it this evening and thought..."Did I write that?" It encouraged me to start writing in the Faithwriters weekly challenges again.  Here's the story...

*****
 
The day had started off well enough, except for the fact that I had to leave early and missed my quiet time with God. I made a mental note to spend time in the Word and prayer later in the day.

It was a typical Monday at work. I suspect there are pesky demons who slither into office buildings on the weekend to hide important documents and put hexes on computers and various other office machines. By 10:15 this morning Mr. Richardson was demanding the marketing report, which my computer refused to print. The coffee machine had dispensed a cup of coffee – minus the cup. Even Sharla, who worked at the next desk and was usually in a great mood was being a pain.

My daughter's school called at 2:00 o'clock.

“Mrs. Baker, your daughter has skipped her last two classes and was found smoking in the restroom. She's been suspended, please come right away to pick her up.”

That went over big with Richardson.

“Lydia, I can't have a marketing director who isn't committed to her job.”

Being a single mom sucks!

The drive home with a sulking teenager was the highlight of my day...at least it was quiet.

She stomped off to her room and slammed the door to let me know just how angry she was. Believe me, I felt like slamming a few doors myself. Instead, I walked to my room and plopped into the chair where I usually spend the mornings with God.

“Where are you?” I whispered.

I swallowed hard at the lump in my throat, then closed my eyes and allowed my mind to review all the things that were wrong with my life. It seemed that struggle filled every nook and cranny of my existence. The tears came, unbidden and my spirit began a slow descent.

I was all too familiar with depression. It had become a close companion over the last couple of years since my divorce, but several weeks ago, the ladies in my small group had prayed for me and I had actually felt it lift. Each day that followed was a little brighter than the last and I had thought that maybe...perhaps, the depression was gone for good.

Now, I felt it creeping its way back into my heart.

I reached for my Bible and opened it, praying that I would find something to hold onto, something to keep me from slipping back into the darkness.

I let my Bible fall open and began to read Psalms 43. When I reached the 5th verse, my heart did a little flip-flop.

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”

I read it several times. The Psalmist was talking to himself!

I got up and marched myself into the bathroom, flipped on the light and had a little face-to-face conversation with the gal in the mirror.

“Now, you look here, Lydia Baker – I will not tolerate this moping around. God is still on the throne and He is still in control. You are not walking through this world alone. You are walking hand-in-hand with your Savior, Jesus Christ and there is nothing in this life that He can not see you through. You are blessed beyond measure and have much to rejoice about, so shake this off and begin to praise God.”

And I did...right there in the bathroom, staring myself in the eye, I raised my hands and began to praise God for all the good things in my life. I sang, I prayed, I proclaimed my love for the One who gives me every reason to hope.

I only stopped when I saw my daughter standing in the doorway.

“Have you lost your mind?” she asked.

I slipped my arm through hers and smiled.

“Nope! I just renewed it.” I said. “Let's talk.”


-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!
(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

The Christmas Letter

Sally curled her fingers around the thick crayon, her tongue slipped through her lips in abject concentration. The letters must be formed just right. All the words must be straight, for this was the most important letter she would ever write.

Carly dried the last of the dishes as she watched her little girl bent low over her paper.

"Jotting down the things you want for Christmas?" Sally nodded, but didn’t look up from her task.

A key turned in the lock and Daddy stumbled through the door.

Sally wrote faster.

She wrote through the yelling, through the crying, through the slamming of the door as Daddy left again. When she had finished, she carefully folded the letter and put it into an envelope and addressed it…To Jesus.

"Mama?” she said, “Can we go to the mall tomorrow?"

Carly looked at her beautiful child through red and swollen eyes. “You want to see Santa? To give him your list?"

Sally shook her head, “No, Santa only brings toys. I want to see Jesus for Christmas this year. Since Christmas is Jesus' birthday, he'll be at the mall, too. Right?"

Carly looked at her little girl - her spirit so strong and her body so frail. If the doctors were right, Sally would indeed see Jesus for Christmas this year. “Let’s get you back to bed, Sweet Pea. I’ll hold your letter until morning."

When Jessie came back home that night, Carly was waiting for him, holding Sally’s letter “You have to read this,” she said." Jessie read through whiskey blurred eyes what his little girl had written.

Dear Jesus,
 Please make my mommy and daddy love each other again.
Your friend,
Sally

Husband and wife cried together that night and promised to work things out. Promised to allow God to mend their marriage and promised to seek Jesus for the answer to their little girl’s Christmas wish.

On Christmas morning, Sally looked up into St. Peter’s eyes. “Is this the line to see Jesus?” she asked.

"You don’t need to stand in line, Sally,” said St. Peter, “Jesus is waiting for you."

She turned to see the Friend Of Children waiting to take her in. She ran into his arms and buried her face in his chest. “Did you get my letter?” she asked.

“Yes, child,” he said “and your wish has been granted“

Thank you, Jesus,” she reached her hand up and patted his face, “and Merry Christmas.”

-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Start your novel off with a BANG!

I read a great post on Seekerville yesterday by Mary Connealy about where to begin your novel.

Since I struggled so much with NaNoWriMo this year, I was about to give up on the idea of writing fiction, but this post made me want to try again.

Believe me, Mary Connealy  knows how to explot a book onto the page from the get-go. The first book I read by Mary was Petticoat Ranch, which opens with A man plunging over a creek bank riding his horse at full speed on a pitch black stormy night, with a woman and her three little girls trying to save him from the raging waters of a creek.

It was an Indiana Jones, edge-of-your-seat opening. Was I hooked? You bet I was!

-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

NaNoWriMo - Slow Go, but Big Changes Ahead

As you can see by my NaNo Progress Bar to the right, I'm stalled at just over 11,000 words. Well, not really stalled...I just stepped back from the book for a while. I know I'll not finish it by the end of November, but the story is still in the back of my mind. Meanwhile, there are some changes happening in my life that are exciting for me.

Wednesday was my last day of work at the school. Not sure what I want to do next, but the possibilities are exciting.

Photo courtesy  vivekchugh, rgbstock.com
A recent post on Facebook by T.D. Jakes read...

God is about to put you in a place where you will be forced to spread your wings! Where you used to be would never allow you to become what God created you to be.

...and I say, bring it on, God!

I'm ready for a change, for something new and challenging. Something fun. I want to be what God created me to be...and at 60 years old, sometimes I think I'm running out of time. But then I realize that the time to be what God created me to be is now...right this very moment. If I'm busy doing the things that I know He wants me to do in this moment, then I am already being who He created me to be, right?

Still, a little spreading of the wing would be an exciting change.

Again I say...bring it on, God!

-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

NaNoWriMo - Things are looking up!

Photo courtesy  Zela, rgbstock.com
Took a day or two off to get some things done around the house and found that my characters stayed with me while I worked. The story line is more defined in my head, now, so the plan is to push ahead. I'm pretty far behind at this point (10,663 words to be exact), but that's ok. I may catch up with a writing frenzy in a few days, but if that doesn't happen, I'm still going to push steadily onward and see this thing through.

There is a story here that needs to be told. Just praying that I can tell it in a way that when people read the book, it touches them.

So, how's your NaNoWriMo novel coming along???


-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

NaNoWriMo - Losing Interest

Honestly, ever word I type is forced. The story is not alive to me. It's just me pulling something out of the hat and throwing it onto "paper."

I've always had a problem with getting really excited about a new project, but losing interest quickly.

Don't know if I'm going to push through or throw in the towel.

Having other issues to deal with, too, so my focus on writing could be suffering for that reason. Will make a decision whether to continue or not over the weekend.

Sigh...

NaNoWriMo - A Dead Body?

I didn't see that one coming! Never in my plotting pre-November 1st did I plan a dead body, but surprise, surprise, Warren Kennsington stumbled on one in an old shack while hiking in the woods.

"Common sense said to leave and notify the authorities, but he would feel foolish if he brought the police up here and it was nothing more than a dead raccoon stinking up the place. He stepped inside. Dust and cobwebs clung to everything in the room. Of course there wasn’t much in the one room shack. A rickety table, one wooden chair, a mattress on the floor in the far corner of the room…and a body on the mattress!"

It's 12:18 AM. I have to go to bed so I can get up and go to work in the morning, but how am I supposed to sleep now?????

8858 words total. Still behind schedule, but picking up speed!

-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

NaNoWriMo Hitting the Wall

photo courtesy arinas74, rgbstock.com
Well, it happened again. I knew it would. I hit a brick wall yesterday with my novel. I had no idea where to go next, decided I didn't like my story or my characters. Considered the fact that I may not be a writer after all.

This has happened to me several times at about this point in a story. I have half a dozen novels started and sitting in my files, but this time, before NaNo even started, I made up my mind that if and when this happened, I'd push through. I'd just keep writing, even if I was writing dribble.

I came close to giving up, but fortunately, my good friend, Leola met me at Crossroads this evening for a little write-in and a lot of encouragement. She's really a great cheerleader. I just couldn't give up when she kept telling me that I could do it and that she believes in me.

My other friend, Barb told me the same thing.

So, I pushed through and added another 1000 words to my novel. I'm still behind on the quota, but at least I'm not stuck anymore.

It's great to have friends that encourage you!

-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks! (Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

My NaNoWriMo Novel has a proper title!

I finally settled on a title for my NaNoNovel.

Blue Moon Summer - Don't you just love it?

The setting is Sunset Lake Park, a summer resort and amusement park complete with rollercoaster, carousel and dodgem cars.

Inspiration for this novel comes from my childhood. Growing up near Springfield Lake, I heard many stories of the famed amusement park that lined the lake's shore back in the 1920's.

The original three story pavillion, which housed a bath house on the bottom floor, restaurant and ice cream parlour on the middle floor and a ballroom on the top floor still remains to this day, but has been a roller skating rink for as long as I remember.

As a child, I remember remnants of the coaster hidden among the trees and a round building that housed boarded up the carousel. As a teen, those pieces of history had been demolished and only the skating rink remained, but it was the perfect hang out. On Friday nights, we danced in our socks to music from local garage bands and on Saturdays we rented skates and tried hard to look cool while maintaining our balance on 4 wheels.

I am loving this story so far. It carries me back to my childhood, but even better, it carries me back to a time when the lake was alive with excitement and glamour and romance.

I'm a bit behind on my quota. I have 4176 words written and I should have 6668 written by the end of this evening to be on track to finish by November 30th, but I'm sure I'll pick up speed later. Right now I'm doing a lot of research as I write to make sure I get things right. I know I could just pound out the story and do revisions after it's written, but it's easier for me to have everything correct as I write. Like...did they have school busses in 1928? What songs were popular then? What kind of cars did they drive? Even something as trivial as what kind of ink pen would they have used then can make a difference, so I have to stop and Google everything.

Strangly enough, I'm enjoying the research as much as the writing!

So, how's your NaNoNovel going?


-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks! (Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Day one of NaNoWriMo 2012

Got a great start this morning before I hustled myself off to work. 1109 words to open the book. Just added another 617 for a total of 1726 so far.

My daily goal is 1667 in order to hit 50,000 by the end of November. Will probably write some more later this evening, but already the handsome Warren Kennsington nearly ran over the lovely Jo Baker with his car!

Haven't come up with a title I like so far, so the working title is The Summer of 1929 at Sunset Lake Park. (ugg)

But this book is gonna be a fun one to write!
 

A Merry Little Christmas - Book Review

Sigh….

That’s the first response I have after reading A Merry Little Christmas.

A sigh for the end of a perfect love story…
a sigh for mended relationships, for justice and for living your dreams…
and finally, a sigh that I blew through this book too fast and now I have to wait until Anita Higman dreams up another fantastic book for me to read!

The back cover of this book says that it’s “a cozy holiday read” and that’s just how I feel, cozy and content. If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas gift for your reading friends, you can’t go wrong with A Merry Little Christmas.

The characters are lovable and laughable and I would love to have folks like them for my neighbors and friends. The author even makes shoveling hog manure sound like a most honorable activity!

Join Franny Martin, an adorable and feisty farm girl and Charlie Landau, a handsome and wealthy city boy as they fall in love and overcome all obstacles to be together.

And Ms. Higman…please, please get busy on that next best-seller!

You can pick up your copy of A Merry Little Christmas here  and don’t forget to pick up a few for your friends!



-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

NaNoWriMo 2012

Yep, it's almost that time again. November NaNoWrimo is almost upon us.

What's it all about?

300,000 writers, each writing a
50,000 word novel during the
30 days of November.


My first attempt at writing a novel through NaNoWrimo was in 2009 and I completed the 50,000 words. The title was Vintage Roses, an inspirational romance. That poor book is still laying in its first draft stage collecting dust.

Since then, I've given NaNo a few half-hearted attempts, but always hit a wall and drop out somewhere between chapter 3 and chapter 5.

The other day I was reading an article  on Seekerville by Missy Tippens, author of about a half a dozen Love Inspired romance novels and was shocked to read these words...

"I always, and I mean ALWAYS, hit a wall around chapter five. (Do I hear heads nodding? I always get nods of agreement when I say this!) But I can't sit and wait for inspiriation to strike. I have to keep writing, even if it's terible and even if I end up throwing it out later."
 
Those words gave me the boost I needed to give this another try. So, come November 1st, you will find me pounding out another novel...And when I hit chapter 5, I'm going to blow right past it!  This time, I'll finish it. Then I'll edit it. Then I'll hire a professional editor give it a good going over and edit some more. Then when I think it's perfect, I'll start sending out proposals to publishers and connecting with agents and keep on keeping on until I see it in print!

Guest Blogger - Author Kelly Martin

I'm so excited about hosting my friend Kelly Martin today as a guest blogger. Kelly's first novel, Crossing the Deep released this week. Yay!

Author, Kelly Martin
And now, here's Kelly...


BALANCING WRITING AND KIDS Or HOW TO (Semi) MANAGE CHOAS

I’m excited to be here today! I have a topic that’s near and dear to my heart that I wanted to talk about. In this crazy, fast-paced world, how do you find the time to do something you (not as a mother, as a woman) want to do? There has to be a balance between what you are (a wife and mother) and what you *also* are (a woman with dreams).
Personally, my dream was to be a writer, more specifically to be a published author. I didn’t know how to do it, I just knew I wanted to do it eventually. Finally, God said, “It’s time, Woman!” (well, not in so many words, but you get the gist). I had no idea how I was going to find the time to do it—an entire novel! But I knew God wouldn’t want me to do something if He didn’t give me the time--- somehow--- to do it.

It’s not easy. I have very lovely purple and black bags under my eyes. It’s awesome ;) But, to me, it’s worth it. My carpel tunnel has acted up and my eyes cross from looking at a computer screen so much (lovely picture, eh ;) ). It is a sacrifice—I don’t have much free time, but that’s okay. It is filled with something I feel good about… spreading the word about God.

What has God laid on your heart to do? Can you picture yourself doing it? With your current schedule, can you find the time? Remember, if God wants you to do it, He’ll give you the time. Pray about it, and see where God takes you J

BACK COVER BLURB:
 
 
Sixteen year old Rachel Harker expects the church sponsored hiking trip in the Smoky Mountains to be short and painless. Four days later, injured and scared, Rachel prays to just make it home alive.
Asher Jenkins, fellow hiker and handsome skeptic who is only on the hike so he doesn’t have to go home and face his abusive ‘uncle’, finds Rachel in the woods and tries to get her back to Deep Creek Trail. A small hole hidden under the fall leaves causes her ankle to twist and forces Asher to leave her to get help. As night falls, he comes back, unable to find the right trail.
As hours stretch into days, an unexpected rainstorm bears down the mountain, flooding Deep Creek and cutting off their way home. Rachel puts all of her faith in God to save them. Asher thinks believing in God is a waste of time and does what he can to prove to Rachel that He doesn’t exist.
With their food gone and the temperature dropping, time is running out. Will Rachel be able to do what needs to be done to get home? And can Asher find faith when he needs it the most?
 
You can pick up Kelly's book at the following links...
 
~Kelly Martin is a writer, blogger, mommy, teacher, wife, sleep deprived lady (not necessarily in that order). She writes young adult/Christian fiction. Her second book, SAINT SLOAN, is coming late winter 2013. For more information on her, please visit her blog at http://www.kellymartinstories.com/


-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Where God Finds You - Book Review

I first heard of Anita Higman when I stumbled across a web site called Spyglass Lane Mysteries. After downloading the first book in her Volstead Manor series and devouring it, I quickly nabbed the second in the series and then had to wait an agonizing couple of months until the third book came out. They were fun and entertaining and I couldn't wait to read more from this author.

Imagine my surprise when Anita's next book was listed as a non-fiction devotional. But knowing this author's talent for bringing a story to life, I couldn't wait to read it.

Where God Finds You - 40 Devotions Bringing Bible Characters to Life is another Anita Higman hit with me. It's a unique devotional that brings the Bible to life by retelling the stories of popular Bible characters from a first-person point of view.

You feel the agony and joy of the woman who was healed by touching Jesus' garment. You experience the awe and holy moment when Mary receives the message from an angel that she will carry the Christ child and you'll walk on the water with Peter as he steps out of the boat in faith, only to be swallowed up by the angry waves when his faith wavers.

Each story is told with exquisite detail, pulling you back in time, right into the story. Each is then followed up with a section called The Story From God's Word (the Biblical account of the the story) and The Story From Then to Now (practical application for today). The special added feature of discussion questions makes this devotional perfect for small groups or personal contemplation.

You can pick up a copy of Where God Finds You at AmazonBarnes & Noble or your local Christian bookseller.

Discover the Bible all over again with Where God Finds You.



-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Burnin' Up the Laptop

Found myself sending email, tweeting, adding people to the Fellowship of Christian Bloggers and doing a makeover on my Sock Monkey Ranch Blog at 12:45 AM this morning and realized I'd been at it for hours. Where does the time go when my fingers are flying across the keys?

I counted up my blogs (7) and my web sites (5) last night. I also guest blog for 2 different sites...and I love it all. Some of my blogs are crazy fun (Chicken Doodle Soup & Sock Monkey Ranch) and some are inspiring (Refreshed by the Word and A Song for Him) and they all scratch an itch that can't be reached any other way. I love to write!

I can sit for hours and blog. Seriously, if I were getting paid for all the hours I blog, I would be rich, but I'm not.

That's okay...I'll keep blogging anyway!

Come visit some of my online fun...

Refreshed by the Word Blog
Sock Monkey Ranch Blog
Sock Monkey Ranch Web Site
A Song for Him Blog
Chicken Doodle Soup (still under construction)
Chicken Doodle Soup Blog (up and running)
Fellowship of Christian Bloggers Web Site (We're over 60 members, now!)
Fellowship of Christian Bloggers Blog
Wake Up Your Muse Web Site
Wake Up Your Muse Blog

...and if you visit one of the blogs, I'd love it if you leave a comment so I'll know you dropped by.


-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Pros and Cons


Got an unexpected day off of work today, so I woke up debating the Pros and Cons of blogging from home vs. blogging at Crossroads.

Pros
  • Can blog in my pajamas
  • Can drink as much coffee as I want without feeling guilty about the price per cup
  • Can get a some housework done at the same time
Cons
  • Two sleeping dogs are not as much company as the friendly folks at Crossroads
  • The coffee's not as good
  • I keep getting distracted by all the housework I need to do
I chose to blog at home today, but only because I'm meeting my blogging buddies at Crossroads tomorrow morning for a Blog-In!

Where do you like to blog?

In a Coffee State of Mind

It says - God is using you for His
special purposes, to shine His light,
to share His Love, to shape His people.
Woke up this morning with an intolerable hankering for a Dark Mocha Caribou (sugar-free dark chocolate syrup, espresso, milk, fresh orange peel and espresso infused whipped cream), so I headed over to my favorite hang out - Crossroads Books & Coffee.

Rachel greeted me as I walked in. She grabbed a cup and started writing up my order...she knows what I like.

I decided to browse through the bookstore before settling down to do a little blogging and found some great things to put on my wish list.


First was this really cool cup that had a rustic crackle finish. Love the rich brown colors. Then I spied a really beautiful, more feminine cup. I would feel so special sipping coffee out of this one. I guess I'm really torn between my feminine, girly side and my prayer warrior, army of the Lord side. Maybe I should have both cups so I could chose the one that suits my mood at the moment!




 Then i found this way cool CoffeeHouse Bible. This one is definately going on my Christmas wish list, except I don't think I can wait that long.

I wonder if people would think it strange if I started an "End of September" wish list? And do I really care if they think I'm strange? Never have before, so why start now?

Next I saw a devotional I just have to have. Coffee with God - 365 Devotionals to Perk Up Your Day.

Hey, I need my days perked up, don't you? I can just see myself sitting in my comfy chair, morning light spilling through the window behind me, steamy, creamy cup of warm coffee in my hands. I'm sure the presence of God would permeate the room. I need this devotional!

And finally, I saw this 2013 Calendar - Times to Treasure. this would be the perfect thing to slip in my purse. that way I would could schedule my days and remember to treasure each moment the Lord gives me. I could remember to redeem the time, to make every moment count.

 Yep, I need this calendar



If you live in the Phoenix West Valley area and haven't been to Crossroads Books & Coffee yet, you must drop by. Hey, you could start your own wish list!

And if you are related to me...see above! (It's a wish list - you don't have to wonder what to buy for me the next time you realize how wonderful I am!)

(In case you think this sounds like a commercial for Crossroads, well, it  might just be. You see, the folks at Crossroads have been awful kind to me and to the Fellowship of Christian Bloggers. Are you a blogger? Check us out at focbonline.com.
-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!
 
(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Doubting Your Writing Abilities - Do You?

photo courtesy lusi, rgbstock.com
Does doubt ever jump on your head? Okay, maybe that should be does doubt ever jump into your head?  Either way - does it?

It does for me when it comes to my writing. I know that I'm a writer. I have been gifted to write. I love writing, but still - I struggle with writing.

First of all, I know that writing devotionals and short (very short) fiction pieces are what I do best and what I love to do.  I have several blogs that I enjoy writing and have more ideas for blogs than I could possibly keep up with, but occasionally I begin to wonder if anyone is really reading them.  I wonder if they are making a difference in anyone's life. I wonder if I my posts are just floating out into cyberspace oblivion.

I check stats and wonder why people look, but don't leave comments. I visit other blogs and experience blog envy.

Time and time again I've tried to write a novel. I do great for about 3 chapters, then I freeze up. Can't think of a thing to write and that's when the doubt begins to grip me. I start thinking that if I were a "real" writer, I would be able to write a novel.

I know that's goofy thinking. You don't have to write a novel to be a writer, but I have 6 or 7 three-chapter book started on my computer that scream otherwise.

Doubt is a crippling disease.  Sometimes I delete entire blogs, only to reinstate them a few weeks later.

And then something amazing happens. Someone will leave a comment on one of my blogs telling me how much a particular post meant to them. How they were at a particular place in their life and how God led them to that post. They say it was just what they needed. It ministered to them, encouraged them, increased their faith...and that's the moment when doubt flees and faith rises in my heart.

It's then that I realize that I need to quit trying to be like my favorite novelist or like the popular bloggers I read. I just need to be me and write what God puts on my heart, then trust Him to take the message wherever He wants it to go.

I know that blog comments should not be the measuring stick for confidence in  my writing. I should just know that this is my calling and settle into it, but hey....I'm human.

So, fellow writers/bloggers - do you ever experience anything like this?

-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Sometimes Life Just Gets in the Way

I started August 1st in a flurry of writing for Camp NaNoWriMo. The words for my new novel were flowing, I was finding plenty of time to write and then....life happened.

School started, which meant I went back to work. Still I was doing pretty good at filling up the page with words, enjoying life with my characters in their fictitious little world, right up until a family crisis pulled me back to reality.

It seemed like one thing after another hit and I fell further and further behind in my word count. My characters got all uppity because I wasn't spending enough time with them. They refused to let me into their lives. I was an outsider looking in, except they were drawing the curtains so I couldn't peek.

Alas, I had to set the novel aside for the time being.

Sometimes life just gets in the way!


-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Novel Writing Serum

The novel's coming along. Hit a glitch in the plot yesterday that tripped me up, but I knew just what to do...gather with a couple of my girlfriends at Crossroads for some encouragement and a super-sized cup of Novel Writing Serum!


The Caribou - Dark chocolate syrup, espresso made from locally roasted beans, steamed milk and a generous peel of orange rind, topped with their own handmade, coffee infused rich whipped cream. Get this hot and the aroma of the orange peel and chocolate waft up every time you take a drink – heavenly!



A few sips of this elixer and I'm good to go! Novel back on track, so now I just need to make up for lost time by writing 3300 words today!


-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks! (Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

It's Camp NaNoWriMo Time!

Here we go, folks - it's Camp NaNoWriMo time. Thirty-one days to write a 50,000 word novel. Last year I fizzled out, but I'm gonna jump right back in there and give it another go.

Still haven't settled on which story I want to write, (nothing like waiting until the last minute) but by this evening, I will have decided on one and will have my first 1000 words written.

Wish me luck!

Better still, say a prayer that God will direct my writing and that he will help me produce a book that will put Him in the spotlight and bring Him glory.













-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

The Smelly Jewel Caper

Today's Monday's Muse prompt from Wake Up Your Muse is: He stuffed the bag of jewels inside the fish, wrapped it and put it into the freezer

Here's my story using the prompt...

The Smelly Jewel Caper


Photo courtesy enricomaria,
rgbstock.com
Griff slit the rock bass open along it's belly, dug out all the innards, then stuffed the plastic baggie full of jewels into the cavity. He wrapped the fish in clean white freezer paper, taped it shut with masking tape and wrote "Rock Bass" on the front, then threw it in the back of the freezer, piling the rest of the frozen goods in front of it.

"We're almost there, Duke," he said to the old hound dog lying in front of the screen door.

Fishing had been great lately and his catch was piling up. Soon he would have enough to buy that boat he'd always wanted and spend the rest of his life on the open seas instead of trolling the waters around his shack in the Everglades.

One more heist ought to do it and then he'd take his haul down to Shady Sam's hideout and sell them.

Footsteps on creaky boards outside startled him.

"Griff, you in there?" came a voice from his front stoop.

"Who's there?" he called, reaching for his shotgun.

He kicked the dog outta his way. "Thanks alot for the warning, you mangy mutt!"

"It's the sheriff, Griff. You better come on out of there."

Griff reconsiderd, sat his shotgun behind the door and stepped out onto the rickkety porch.

"What can i do for ya, Sheriff?" he asked.

The sheriff eyed Griff hard and steady for a minute. Griff shuffled uneasily back and forth, ran his fingers through his unwashed hair, then smoothed down his wirey beard.

"I hear you been pullin' in more than your limit, Griff," said the Sheriff. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to confiscate your catch."

Griff knew the jig was up. Sheriff Roscoe was no fool. If he knew about the fish, he knew about the jewels and Griff knew better than to mess with this Sheriff. Many a fisherman had become gator bait by crossin' Sheriff Roscoe Black. He was as crooked as a dog's hind leg.

Griff stepped aside as the sheriff opened the screen door and crossed the room to the old refrigerator. He emptied the contents of the freezer into a burlap bag he'd brought with him, climbed in his jeep and then drove away, taking Griff's dreams with him.

"Consarn it!" he muttered. "That'll set me back a bit."

Duke gave him a questioning look.

"Well, at least he didn't get the stuff we stashed in the outhouse, did he, boy?" Griff said.

He reached down and nudged the old hound, who had found a another place to lay.

"Come on, boy. Let's go fishin'. I hear they're hittin' pretty good in Key Largo."


For more fun writing prompts go the prompt generator at WakeUpYourMuse.com
-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!


(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

100 Word Faith Filled Fiction Challenge

Kelly Martin over at Faith Filled Fiction post a picture prompt ever Friday. I love these, because they stretch my imaginations. Here's the latest picture and the story I wrote.


photo courtesy Jennifer Ellison, freedigitalphotos.net

Lindsay pulled her X357 hover craft to a dead stop. Floating just a couple of feet above the water she could see Zylon off in the distance. Home. She swore she’d never return, yet here she was, just 30 seconds off-shore.

Trex was the only one who could have coaxed her home and he’d succeeded with his e-summons. “The revolution has begun!”

She fired up the craft, threw it into hyper-drive and sped toward her destiny. For Zylon, for Trex and for the baby they’d buried there. She would live or die in Zylon and she really didn’t care which.

(exactly 100 words!)

-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Seekerville Challenge - My story with critique.

I participated in a Seekerville writing challenge this week and received a critique from author, Ruth Logan Hearne.

She gave us a writing prompt and asked us to add a few more paragraphs.  Here's the prompt...

Her feet refused to move. The old mansion gazed back at her, challenging her to step forward.
photo courtesy  Ayla87, rgbstock.com
She couldn't. Maybe wouldn't. In any case, she'd been wrong to come here, wrong to think anything had changed, wrong to imagine anything but heartache behind those doors. She turned, willing her feet to obey, but the sound of a door latch paused her.
The house was empty. Wasn't it? Unless the letter writer had been mistaken, unless...
She turned back, not wanting to see, but needing to know. And the moment she did, she recognized her undoing.

Here's what I added...

“Abby?” Luke Snyder bounded down the steps and jogged across the yard, stopping just inches in front of her. He wrapped his arms around her and whispered, “Welcome home, Abby, I’ve missed you.”

She felt the familiar rush of emotions. Feelings she thought she had squelched with leaving Woodsfield, but there they were, rising up in her throat, choking her words. She untangled herself from his embrace. “L-luke, what are you doing here?”

He turned to look at the house. “I bought the old place,” he said. His tone was light, but she could hear the tension in his voice. “I’m fixing her up. You want to have a look?”

“Bought it?” she muttered, unable to wrap her mind around the idea. Luke knew what had happened here. He had been the one who had found her hiding under the bed. The one who had coaxed her out of her hiding place and walked her out of the house. How could he possibly want to live in this nightmare that was once her home?

She was wrong to have come here. No matter what her sister’s letter had said, she couldn’t do it. Facing her fears had never been her way of handling things. Avoidance had always been her safe-haven.

She had run from her past, from this house and from Luke ten years ago and she was ready to do it again.

“I have to go.” She turned to put the key in the door of her Volvo parked at the curb. Luke reached out and put a hand on her shoulder, then turned her to face him. Lifting her chin, he forced her to look him in the eye. His voice was soft, “Abby, you can do this. We’ll do it together.”

Tears welled up in her eyes. Together. That’s the way Abby had always imagined her life - she and Luke together, but too much had happened. Too much sorrow, too much betrayal. She dropped her gaze and shook her head, “I can’t, Luke.”

“You have to stay, Abby,” He said, lifting her chin again until she looked him in the eye. "There’s something you don’t know about what happened that day.”

--------------------------------------------

Here's the story again with changes suggested by Ruthy...


Abby?” Luke Snyder bounded down the steps and jogged across the yard, stopping just inches in front of her. He wrapped his arms around her and whispered, “Welcome home, Abby, I’ve missed you.”

She felt the familiar rush of emotions. Feelings she thought she had squelched with leaving Woodsfield, but there they were, rising up in her throat, choking her words.





Ruthy note: Jan, nice sense of immediacy! He’s bounding and jogging, she’s feeling a ‘rush of emotions… Very nice!


I might suggest changing “She felt” to something less passive like: “Emotions rushed her.” Or “Emotions engulfed her”… or “Emotions she’d long ago dismissed rushed back, waves she’d squelched when she left Woodsfield…etc.”

She untangled herself from his embrace. “L-luke, what are you doing here?”

He turned to look at the house. “I bought the old place,” he said. His tone was light, but she could hear the tension in his voice. “I’m fixing her up. You want to have a look?”

“Bought it?” she muttered, unable to wrap her mind around the idea. Luke knew what had happened here. He had been the one who had found her hiding under the bed. The one who had coaxed her out of her hiding place and walked her out of the house. How could he possibly want to live in this nightmare that was once her home?

She was wrong to have come here. No matter what her sister’s letter had said, she couldn’t do it. Facing her fears had never been her way of handling things. Avoidance had always been her safe-haven.


Ruthy note: We have an instant feeling of an old rescue, a dark moment in a young girl’s life. Jan, I’d change the “had never been” or the “had always been”, they’re too close together.


She had run from her past, from this house and from Luke ten years ago and she was ready to do it again.

“I have to go.” She turned to put the key in the door of her Volvo parked at the curb.

Luke reached out and put a hand on her shoulder, then turned her to face him. Lifting her chin, he forced her to look him in the eye. His voice was soft, “Abby, you can do this. We’ll do it together.”

Tears welled up in her eyes.

Ruthy note: I'd lose "up".

Together. That’s the way Abby had always imagined her life - she and Luke together, but too much had happened. Too much sorrow, too much betrayal.

She dropped her gaze and shook her head, “I can’t, Luke.”

“You have to stay, Abby,” He said, lifting her chin again until she looked him in the eye.

"There’s something you don’t know about what happened that day.”

Oh, very nice ending! I would suggest not lifting the chin twice, going for another way to draw her attention.

The other suggestion I would make is to re-word some of the repetitive phrasing. If we use it too often, we lose some of that impact.

I’d re-work some of the past tense phrasing to keep the past less distanced from these pivotal moments. (I’m not sure what I just said, but it sounded real smart-like!)

-----------------------------------------------------

Whew! I was afraid she would just rip this apart. She’s that good! But I’m happy with the changes she made and think they make the story read much better.

Thanks, Ruthie, for your input. It’s not every day a beginning fiction writer can score a free critique from a multi-published author. I appreciate you.

If you're an aspiring fiction writer, you ought to be hanging out at Seekerville. Lots of fun, friendliness and these folks are always willing to extend a helping hand.


-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Destined for Love (1000 word story challenge)

Photo courtesy  melodi2, rgbstock.com

Lydia stood at the edge of the creek willing herself to look away from the preacher’s bare back, but her gaze remained locked.

Only her older brother’s voice broke the spell.

“Joshua, you get yourself decent, there’s a lady present.” Frank said.
Lydia felt the heat creep up her neck and spread across her cheeks as she whirled around to put the scene behind her.

Frank and Joshua had been friends for as long as Lydia could remember and Lydia had been in love with Joshua for just about as long…though she’d never admitted that to a living soul.
“Just coolin’ off a bit,” laughed Joshua as he made his way to shore in his water logged trousers. He slipped into his shirt and pulled on his boots. “You can turn around now, Miss Lydia. I’m decent.”

Lydia wanted to sink right down into the muddy banks of Carter’s Creek. She, Frank and Joshua and most of the other kids in town had swam together in that creek many times, but that was years ago - before they had grown up. Still, she didn’t want Joshua to know that the sight had bothered her.
She turned around to face the men, flipping her brown curls in the process. “Decent?” she said, “Joshua, you’ve never been decent a day in your life. Not since you chased me down the street with a garter snake when you were 12. You were a scoundrel then and you’re a scoundrel now.” She put both fists on her hips. “Why, I expect you’ll always be a scoundrel and how you got to be a preacher, I’ll never know.”

Joshua chuckled, “Well, I reckon the good Lord gets a kick out of turnin’ scoundrels into saints, just so it’ll confuse people.”
“A saint? A saint? Why Joshua Daws, if you think you’re a saint…”

Frank stepped between his sister and the preacher.

“Will you two never stop bickering?”
“I will if she will,” Joshua grinned.

Lydia raised her chin and squared her shoulders. “I’m sorry,” She said. “If you will excuse us, Parson Daws, my brother and I were on our way to the mercantile to pick up supplies for Mama.” With that she spun on her heels and marched herself toward town. “Are you coming, Frank?” she threw over her shoulder.
Joshua watched the only girl who’d ever caught his eye walk away. He turned and gave Frank a playful slug in the arm. “My friend, that sister of yours gets prettier every day.”

Frank shook his head. “When are you two going to admit you like each other so you can get on with the task of courtin’? You know you’re going to wind up my brother-in-law sooner or later.”
Joshua turned again to look down the path Lydia had taken. “From your lips to God’s ears, my friend,” he said.


--Several months later--

“I reckon I’ll just have to up and marry you, Miss Lydia,” said Joshua, giving the swing another push.
Lydia squealed. “Joshua Daws, you stop this swing right now!”

“Yes, ma’am,” he said. Stepping in front of the swing, he grabbed both ropes as Lydia swung toward him. The swing jerked to a stop, throwing the pretty girl right into his arms. He pulled her close. “Will you, Lydia?” His voice softened. “Will you marry me?”

Lydia’s heart pounded in her chest, her face felt flush as tried to push him away. “Let me go, Joshua.”
“Never,” said the preacher, tightening his hold.

Lydia looked over her shoulder at her family and friends, gathered on the church grounds for a late summer picnic.
“Let go,” she said, pushing herself out of his embrace. “Someone will see.”

“Don’t bother me, none,” he shrugged. “They know we’ve been courtin’ for a while. I doubt anyone will be surprised when we get married.”
Lydia narrowed her eyes and did her level best to look perturbed. “And just what makes you think I’ll marry you, Parson Daws?”

Joshua reached out and ran his finger down her cheek. “Well,” he said, “because I’ve known from the first time I ever laid eyes on you that you were the girl for me.”
Lydia’s skin tingled where he’d touched her face. “Joshua, don’t be silly. I was only nine years old when we moved to Carter’s Creek and you and Frank became friends.”

“That’s right, and I’ve waited 10 long years for you to grow up so I could make you my wife. Besides that, you've got to admit…you and me would make the cutest babies this side of the Rockies.”
Lydia felt the heat rush to her face again. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself!”

He pulled her back into his arms. “Say I’m wrong, sweetheart. Say you don’t love me. Say you don’t want to be my wife and I’ll walk away.”
With that, he dropped down on one knee and shouted loud enough for the whole town to hear, “Lydia Reynolds, will you be my wife?”

“Say yes,” Frank yelled from up on the hill.
“Say yes,” her father shouted from the bench under the oak tree.

“Say yes! Say yes!” came more cries from the crowd.
Joshua looked into her hazel eyes. “Say yes,” he whispered.

Lydia was beat and she knew it. She threw her head back and laughed. “Yes, yes, yes, I will marry you, Parson Daws.”
A cheer rose from the crowd as their friends descended the hill to congratulate them.

Frank got to his sister first and gave her a big hug. “About time,” he said, “What took you so long?”
Lydia gave him a sly grin. “Sometimes you just have to let a feller chase you until you catch him,” she said.

-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks!

(Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Photo Credit: http://www.aveleyman.com/ActorCredit.aspx?ActorID=15667

A Thrifty 4th of July

What a blessed 4th of July we've had so far!

Woke up to cloudy skies and temperatures at least 25-30 degrees lower than they have been recently. Soon a breeze kicked up and then it started to rain. Now, some folks might be disappointed by a rainy 4th of July, but not us. Arizona gets mighty hot this time of year and we having seen rain in many months. It's a real treat when the skies open up and give us a bit of relief from the scorching summer sun.

We actually took Max and Oliver (our dogs) out for a walk in the rain. They love it. We all came back dripping with happiness.

Then Lee wanted to go to the thrift store. I gave him a lecture all the way there about not spending money on a bunch of junk, but we came out with 3 bags full of treasures.

I found several books by some of my favorit authors...

It Had to be You by Janice Thompson
Swinging on a Star by Janice Thompson
The Measure of a Lady by DeeAnne Gist
Watch Over Me by Christa Parrish
In this Sanctuary by Twila Parish
Mixed Bags by Melody Carlson
The Rocking Chair Reader by Helen Kay Polaski
Against All Odds by Chuck Norris (for my grandson)
Cowboy Poetry by Michael Whitaker (cause I love cowboys)


Mr. Lee came away with a genuine Babe Ruth autographed baseball, (the ball was genuine, the autograph, not so much), a Phoenix Suns baseball cap (wait...the Suns are a basketball team, why do they have baseball caps?) signed by Dan Marjerle (that one was a genuine signature), a belt, a pair of camoflage pants, as camoflage hat (he doesn't hunt) and a bag of lemon drops. (Who eats candy from the thrift store? Mr. Lee, that's who!)

The best part? Most of our stuff was half price!

Came home and sat in my hammock chair on the deck listening to it rain and reading a great book (The Husband Tree by Mary Connealy). Fell asleep in the chair.

Got hungry, so the three of us (me, Lee and my brother, Rod) went to Leo's Island BBQ for lunch. Yummy!

And it's only 4:00! Can't wait to see what the rest of this evening holds, but it's been a fireworks kind of day for me already.

Happy 4th of July, everybody!

-------------------------------------------------------
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with your friends using the Facebook, Twitter and other share buttons below. Thanks! (Copyright© 2012 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)