Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reading in 2009

I was thinking that I didn't get as much reading done as usual this year and then I took a look at my list.   I currently have at least a dozen books sitting on my shelves waiting for me to read in 2010 that I wasn't able to get to.

I realized that I did a lot of reading online doing research and reading blogs this year.  Another thing I read more of this year was my Bible, which was one of my goals.  I'm referring to my real own leather-bound Bible rather than reading the Bible online which I have become accustomed to doing.  There's something about holding the Word in your own hands that draws you near to the Author of that remarkable book.

I also spent more time writing, especially in the winter.  To me, that counts as reading because I'm telling myself stories and then reading what I write.  OK, maybe that only makes sense to me. Yet, on the same token, everything I read I also am thinking about writing as I'm doing so.

Another thing I did this year that is reading related is volunteering to teach others to read and at work I trained more adult literacy tutors.  By the way, if you're looking for a way to volunteer in the new year I highly recommend this. 

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Prose to Print: Writing Greeting Cards

I'm not ready to blow out the Christmas candles yet. Here's one more post for this Christmas season . . .
A Christmas candle is a lovely thing;
It makes no noise at all,
But softly gives itself away;
While quite unselfish, it grows small.
Eva K. Logue

Last year I wrote an article about Christmas Card History and recently posted it at my Something Olde blog.  It got me thinking.  Christmas is over this year, but it's not to early to start thinking about writing for Christmas in the coming year.

If your like me, you've received some great Christmas cards through the years.  Some depict the true meaning of Christmas so nicely, some are sentimental, and some are just plain funny.  How many times have you said to yourself, "I could write something like that."  In the past, I've actually made some handmade cards for various holidays with my own prose for a few close family members.  For years I've said I'd write up a few sentiments and submit them.  I haven't got around to it.  I'm going to make it one of my goals for this year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What did your characters get for Christmas?

Have you ever wondered what Christmas gift giving was like in another time period?  Or wish to sneak a peek at others Christmas lists?

Vickie McDonough created a great post over at Bustles and Spurs - Christmas Shopping in 1897.   where she pretended to be a 10 year old girl with $10 to spend on her family for Christmas.  She shares the gift selections that she has chosen out of a Sears & Roebuck's catelog. What an interesting post and so much fun! 

It got me thinking about what kind of gifts the characters from my wip Hope Springs Eternal would exchange for Christmas.  The story is set in 1816, Maine, during the year there was no summer.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Our Family Christmas

I hope you all enjoyed your Christmases!  I thought I'd share ours with you. We had our family Christmas on Christmas eve as has been the tradition for the past few years and spent  Christmas day with the grandparents. Although our family has had some exceptionally lean Christmases in the past, this year was wonderful in every way.  None of us had expectations as far as gifts go and we were all pretty content, even our sons.  Last year my husband was layed off (he's a carpenter) right before Christmas and it was very disapointing.  We were only able to spend about $100 total.  It was the worst Christmas as far as gift giving goes.  This year, by contrast, ended up being the best that our family has ever had. It's not just the gifts, but it is God's provision for our family that has been a wonder. This year, Brad was layed off again, but they hired him back a few weeks ago and gave him a raise and a Christmas bonus. This enabled us to get some nice gifts without going in to debt and satisfied our computer geeky family very nicely. 

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Reflections

If now we see only a glimmer of the Light of Christmas, how amazing it will be when we some day behold Him face to face.  The One who came to us at the perfect moment in history brings light to our own story.  My prayer at Christmas is that we can all do our part to help make this world a little brighter by reflecting the love of Jesus. Christmas blessings to you all!

"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."
1 Corinthians 13:12

Thank you Crista at Pink Sequin Designs for letting me 
share this lovely photo of your Christmas tree.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Little Christmas Fun

I just thought I'd share a few fun things with you. I'll be posting less frequently during Christmas so here are a few things to entertain you! You do have the time, don't you?

Have you been on the Author House Tour yet?  It is so much fun.  It's a blog tour of Christian authors homes all decked for the holidays.  Many of them feature short videos, too!  This helped me get in the holiday spirit and inspired me to get decorating my own house for Christmas.

Don't miss my previous Christmas blog posts:

A Collection of Writers Christmas Quotes
Writing Your Christmas List to God 

If you aren't all smooched out from the Kissing Day Blogfest you can see my entry here.  Or go to Sherrinda's page to get started!

Thomas Nelson Gift Books is offering the Blessing & Truth Ultimate Giveaway sweepstakes in celebration of its encouraging books for turbulent times from authors such as Robin McGraw, Max Lucado and Hank Hanegraaff.

Running through Dec. 31, the sweepstakes feature five prize winners. The grand prize is a trip for two to Los Angeles for a taping of the Dr. Phil television show that will mark the release of Robin McGraw's new Christmas gift book. First prize consists of a library of Lucado's books valued at $300. Three second prizes feature $100 gift certificates from plus an autographed copy of either The Heart of Christmas by Hank Hanegraaff, Jesus Lives! by Sarah Young or Give Thanks by Karla Dornacher.

Click here to enter or view official sweepstakes rules. No purchase is necessary to win.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Kissing Day Blogfest

Kissing Day Blogfest  - A Writers Tribute to Mistletoe! Writers are sharing their best or favorite kissing scenes! 

I don't have a kissing scene of my own ready for public viewing so my contribution is a favorite kissing scene from Ruth Axtell Morren's, The Rogue's Redemption.

Hester was the only woman who'd ever made Gerrit feel truly worthy of love, and he would not lose her. Separated from her by her father -- and an ocean -- Gerrit must decide whether he will risk his life and his soul to hear a home in Hester's arms forever.

"You're not going away again are you?" she asked.  "I know you love me."

A shadow passed over his blue eyes. "I've used so many words with so many women -- words of love and fidelity, of not being able to live without them . . . so many promises I had no intention of keeping."  He sighed as if the recolleciton pained him. "I didn't mean any of them." He looked at her. "I'm afraid to use any words with you.  All I know is I couldn't have made it back without knowing your were here, waiting for me."

"I need you . . . " His voice cracked, and she saw tears welling in his eyes. "I need you so much," he whispered, his arms tightening around her as he buried his face in her hair.

"You have me. I'm here."

"I need you more than life."  His eyelids closed and, as if unable to hold himself back, his face neared hers, and she held her breath waiting for his lips to join with hers.

She had longed for and dreamed of this moment for so long that she wasn't sure if it was really happening or if she was still dreaming it.

When he kissed her this time, it was nothing like the soft brusing of his lips against hers the last time.  This time it rocked her to her very toes.  He kissed her like a thirsting man.  There was no politeness or gentleness in the kiss, only hunger and want.

Hester gave herself, sensing his need and praying that he would understand that it wasn't she whom his spirit sought, but God's spirit residing in her.  Her mouth parted beneath his and she longed to give him all her love in that one expression.

Finally, as if trusting that she wouldn't run away from him, he softened his touch, raining featherlight kisses all along the edges of her mouth.  She melted against him, her fingers caressing the hair at the nape of his neck.  When they finally broke apart, he looked at her so tenderly she was afraid to breathe.

"I missed you," he said, repeating the words she had once given him, his lips smiling as his fingers smoothed back her hair

"I hope I won't have to say goodbye to you again," she managed.

. . . . . . .   Gerrit seemed more at peace than she'd ever seen him.  She thanked God again for whatever He'd worked in his heart during the long winter months in the woods.  When they said good night to each other on the front porch under the evening sky, Gerritt kissed her again, this time tenderly and gently.

"I still have nothing to offer you but . . . my heart," he said.

Her fingers cupped his face.  "That's all I require."

I hope you enjoyed this beautiful scene from one of my top 5 novels of all time,
The Rogue's Redemption
by author Ruth Axtell Morren.

Don't miss my previous post with a special gift for my visitors - a Christmas writing theme desktop background.   Merry Christmas to all!

Back to the Kissing Day Blogfest to find your next destination on the kissing scene tour.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Collection of Writers Christmas Quotes

Merry Christmas to all my blogging friends!

I set up this Christmas collage and photographed it so it
could be used as a desktop background.  This is my gift to you.
  If you would like to have a copy of it click here.

Here are some writer's quotes about Christmas, from the pages of time.

Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.
Laura Ingalls Wilder, American Author (1867 – 1957)

To perceive Christmas through its wrapping becomes more difficult with every year.
E.B. White, American Writer (1891 – 1985)

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. 
Charles Dickens, English Novelist, (1812 – 1870)

Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart. 
Washington Irving, American Writer (1783 – 1859)

It comes every year and will go on forever. And along with Christmas belong the keepsakes and the customs. Those humble, everyday things a mother clings to, and ponders, like Mary in the secret spaces of her heart.
Marjorie Holmes, American Novelist (1910-2002)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Victorian Christmas

There's still time to pick a good Christmas book to enjoy during the holidays.  Over the years I've had the pleasure of curling up with a few Christmas anthologies featuring best-selling author Catherine Palmer.  Catherine is a favorite author of mine and I've never been dissapointed with any of her books.  After all, I've read over twenty of them!
A Victorian Christmas is a repackaging of four novellas that were previously published in four separate anthologies—A Victorian Christmas Quilt, A Victorian Christmas Tea, A Victorian Christmas Cottage, and A Victorian Christmas Keepsake.  This beautiful patchwork of faith-filled love stories will touch your heart and stir you to treasure your own keepsakes of life, love, and romance.  Included with each story are a note from the author and some of her favorite holiday recipes.

Angel in the Attic tells of Fara Canaday, a wealthy heiress who is certain that every man who courts her is after her money until she finds a wounded man in the snow.

Under His Wings is a retelling of the Biblical story of Ruth.

Behold the Lamb tells the story of a thief who buys his way into good London society but must do some rethinking when he meets gentle Rosalind Treadwell, who was born with a title but has no money.

In Lone Star, Texan Star Ellis reluctantly travels to England to wed a nobleman. On the voyage over, she meets her intended husband's black sheep brother and ends up falling in love.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Writing Your Christmas List to God

It's 3 degrees tonight and with the windchill that makes it like 12 below 0. Ooooh, chilly!!  Speaking of cold . . . the other evening I tromped through the unshoveled snow in my slippers to enjoy another dip in the outdoor hot tub at my friend's house.  The snow squished it's way into my slippers and boy was that cold! As I squealed my way through, she promised to shovel next time and reminded me of my hearty Swedish heritage. I reminded her that I was only half Swedish.  This time it was just me and Laurel.  Next week we'll be doing a girls night with four of us who used to get together for prayer every week.  Miss those days.

This time it wasn't quite as cold as last week, about 38 degrees and it was foggy all day and night (remember my photo?). As we sat there in the steamy air chatting about writing and books and husbands we had the delight of enjoying the outdoor Christmas lights on her house and seeing her beautiful Christmas tree twinkle from the window. 

Laurel told me she had a special Christmas list this year. This is the list she has presented to God asking him for what she would like during the coming year - almost like New Year's resolutions, but with a twist.  They are not goals so much as they are her sharing her desires with the Father of Lights who desires to give good gifts to his children.  She said that she couldn't wait to see how he answered her list; which is simply her prayer.

We talked about how sometimes children are disapointed when they don't get everything or the exact thing they've asked for at Christmas because they had an expectation.  I asked her, "What about your expectations? What if you don't get what you asked for?"   She said, "I trust Him."   And that is the key, she is presenting her requests with the expectation and belief that she can trust God to satisfy her needs in the way that he sees fit. She knows she might not get exactly what she wants.  She also knows that she will get what is best.  Imagine that.  We ask for something and He gives us something better.  The Lord knows our deepest longings and satisfies our desires with the gifts that matters most.

What can you give to Jesus for Christmas?  Give Him your TRUST.

Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you
the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD;
TRUST in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness
shine like the dawn,
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
Be still before the LORD
and wait patiently for him.

Psalm 37:4

What's on your Christmas list to God this year?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Writer Celebrates Jane Austen's 234th Birthday

Do forgive, I have been remiss in celebrating a holdiay of the utmost importance!  Well, we shall have a little evening celebration in a bonus blog post.

Today, my friends, is the birthday of one of the most "universally acknowledged" and admired female writers of all time, our dear Jane Austen. Today she is thirty-four and two hundred.  Please do not tell her that I mentioned her age, it is not at all polite.

Miss Austen's accomplishments were remarkable in her brief life. This humble writer is one of the reasons that so many women today are inspired to write and even seek publication themselves.  Her pseudomym was originally "a lady" as it was not readily acceptable to write under one's own name.  Yet, she earned the respect and admiration of her peers and the readers of her six published works.

Jane Austen wrote about the world in which she lived by quiet observation. It is interesting to note that today we consider her work historical fiction, but at the time of her writing it was contemporary fiction.  As a historical fiction writer it is interesting to note how many others, like myself, try to capture the same period of time in our own writings, though we are writing about the past.  It's rather ironic that we try to emulate her spirit in this way, though more so just by putting pen to hand. 

Oh dear, where are my manners?  May I offer you a cup of tea?

In celebration of this marvelous occasion I'd like to share with you some thoughts on writing, in Jane's own words. 

“I do not know what is the matter with me t day, but I cannot write quietly; I am always wandering away into some exclamation or other.—Fortunately I have nothing very particular to say."

 "I begin already to weigh my words and sentences more than I did, and am looking about for a sentiment, an illustration or a metaphor in every corner of the room. Could my Ideas flow as fast as the rain in the Store closet it would be charming."

"I am fully sensible that an historical romance, founded on the House of Saxe Cobourg, might be much more to the purpose of profit or popularity than such pictures of domestic life in country villages as I deal in. But I could no more write a romance than an epic poem. I could not sit down to write a serious romance under any other motive than to save my life; and if it were indispensable for me to keep it up and never relax into laughing at myself or other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the first chapter. No, I must keep to my own style and go on in my own way."

"There are a few Typical errors -- a 'said he' or a 'said she' would sometimes make the Dialogue more immediately clear--but 'I do not write for such dull Elves as have not a great deal of Ingenuity themselves.'"

"Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery."  

"I . . . am always half afraid of finding a clever novel too clever--& of finding my own story & my own people all forestalled."

"It encourages me to depend on the same share of general good opinion which Emma's Predecessors have experienced, & to believe that I have not yet--as almost every Writer of Fancy does sooner or later--overwritten myself."

"I am not at all in a humor for writing; I must write on till I am."

" . . . there seems almost a general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labor of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them."

I am doing a little reminiscing about a wonderful time I had with my husband a portraying regency period lady and gentleman at A Jane Austen Gala that we attended a few years ago.  It was one of the highlights of my life, which may sound rather pathetic to you, but oh, how I enjoyed it!  So here we are in costume, myself and my handsome husband Bradford. If you would like to reminisce with me, I have a series of blog posts on my personal blog beginning with Recalling the Ball on Jane Austen’s 234th Birthday! 

To learn more about Jane Austen's writing I have a brief biography here with some resource links. 

Later, if you are in the mood to do some regency period reading, which I absolutely love, you may wish to peek at my  Regency Romance Reading Recommendations.  

And now, I shall wish you all a delightful evening!

A Unique View

I have such a great time when you all stop by Writing to Distraction.  It's been fun getting to know each of you.  Sometimes it feels like we are just sitting around having coffee and chatting about our writing, favorite books, and even the weather. (If you missed any of those conversations you'll have to backtrack . . .in the snow!)

One thing about blogging is that there are two layers:  the post and the comments.  Not everyone leaves a comment, and that's OK.  But everyone can read the comments, because that's where you, and others like you, get to share and listen in on the discussion.  I love to hear your thoughts and learn what's important to you.  Or just have you say "hello".  So, you may want to check back later to see what we're talking about.  Feel free to interact with one another and  I'll also respond to comments when I check in to get your view on things.

Here are a few photos taken on different days this week from my window looking toward the farm adjacent to our property -a beautiful winter sunset and December morning fog.  The pictures are basically the same view, but they evoke a different feeling because of the varied conditions and time of day.  That is similar to when we write, when we read, or simply contemplate.  There are a lot of factors that can take the same "view" and make it unique.

Yesterday we had a conversation about about debut novels.  It was so good to have you share.  I thought I'd summarize some of the things that you said that stood out in some of the debut's that you've enjoyed . . . your view.

"The language and fluency of that book are hypnotically beautiful."

"she so magically and successfully weaves three...storylines together"
"the writing is lovely, lovely, lovely, and it soon pulls you into a very unusual story."
"It was raw and real and beautifully told."

"The characters' struggles rang true."

"Finding hope in tragedy."

"It just sweeps you along into a beautiful story, time and place. "

"they didn't force themselves to follow any tired old formulas."

"That book reads as if its author cared about it, loved it, nourished and coaxed it along. The attention to detail never faltered and that indicates to me that she respects her readers and I appreciate that."

I'll try to keep these things in mind as I prepare my debut novel for publication!!   ;)

Thank you all for joining me at Writing to Distraction!  I hope you enjoyed the Christmas Blog Candy Giveaway:  winners were Saleslady371, Laura Frantz, and Karen Lange!

What are you reading now?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Moving Words

As a writer, I'm always interested in discovering moving words in the books I read and learning how to emulate similar responses that they evoke in me.  Literary agent Rachelle Gardner had a Words Move Me contest on her blog last week in associationg with Sony Reader's Words Move Me website.  Sony's site lets you share some of your favorite words - excerpts, thoughts, etc. of books that have had an impact on you.  I didn't win the contest, but Rachelle did choose my entry as a favorite.

I understood at that moment fully and
suddenly why he would not carry me, and why he had not
come to my defense in times past when I was battling for
my place in the world. It was not because he failed to love me,
but because he loved me so well.
The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent

The Heretic's Daughter was Kathleen Kent's debut novel.  It always amazes me when an author's first novel becomes well loved by so many.  I can think of a few starting with our friend Laura Frantz's The Frontiersman's Daughter.  Others that I've enjoyed include Ruth Axtell Morren's Winter is Past, Julie Klassen's Lady of Milkweed Manor,  Deeanne Gist's A Bride Most Begrudging, Tamera Alexander's Rekindled, and Geraldine Brooks' Year of Wonders.

Neither The Heretic's Daughter and Year of Wonders are classified as Christian fiction.  Both novels do, however, have spiritual elements as the characters consider the role of God amidst their circumstances. It is the former novel that inspired me to write Hope Springs Eternal in which my characters ask the question "Where is God?" as they struggle to find hope in their own trying situation.  Reading The Heretic's Daughter only reinforced that desire to show in my own writing the struggle that faith can sometimes be.  Yet, since they are both mainstream publications, I found myself considering who my target audience is - mainstream readers of readers of Christian novels.  Couldn't it be both?  I think in my heart of hearts that I desire to write in a way that transcends the line that most draw between Christian or secular books and explores faith issues in a genuine way that might be appreciated by both.  I bring the "non-Christian" books up first because I am pleased to see the subject of faith addressed in mainstream publishing. Although, what appealed to me about these particular novels were the slice of history they covered, and also that The Heretic's Daughter included a few true life (secondary) characters from my own family history (yes, I have ancesters everywhere!).  A book needn't always be overtly Christian for me to enjoy, yet I almost exclusively read Christian fiction because it has all of the elements I enjoy (and write about) most, such as the Christian fiction titles that I mentioned above.  The Frontiersman's Daughter is an excellent example of a Christian novel that I believe transcends audiences. 

As I consider these debut novels I ponder what makes the author's work stand out right from the beginning of their career.  I've  already uncovered one element that I find that makes them appeal to me - authenticating faith.   Other qualities I admire are a well-formed protagonist (strong, striking, transformation),  a rich setting, a well-woven plot, skilled/eloquent writing, and a theme that has the capacity to change my own heart - the words must move me.

What are some of your favorite debut novels? Why did they move you?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Weather as a Muse

I spent some of my weekend researching and writing my story, "Hope Springs Eternal".  I just love researching, especially on a snowy day like today.  For me winter is a good time to entertain my muse.  I tend to get SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and writing activities help lift my spirits.

We barely had a summer this year in central Maine, or so it seems.  I usually say we have three seasons - fall, winter, spring,  and July.  But this year it was rainy and fairly cool until about mid-August.  We got a lot of snow last winter and with our mild summer and now with it snowing again it all seems like one blurry season.  I enjoy the snow, up until about March when I get cabin fever and all the snow around is covered in dirt.  It's rather dismal, and I cannot wait until the first bloom of spring!

I shouldn't complain, because according to my research, and the premise for my book "Hope Springs Eternal", the year 1816 is referred to as "the year there was no summer", "the poverty year", even "eighteen hundred and froze to death."  There are diaries and records from the people who managed to survive that time that have lent to my desire to write about it.  My protagonist will discover how to find hope in a very harsh season in her life, as I imagine that many of the folks who lived then were required to.  Where did their hope come from?  Was faith enough to see them through?

The year 1816 began mildly warmer than usual, but the spring was cooler than normal.  By May a huge cold front brought snow and ice.  This began a 12 week phenomenon of intermittent winter weather. Drought devastated the crops, animals perished in the fields and . . . the cold summer weather forced authors Mary Shelly and John Polidori inside to write.  It's true.  They were attending a literary gathering in Geneva, Switerland and to pass the time, along with their peers, they had a contest to tell the scariest story, of which these two later published.  Shelly wrote “The Modern Prometheus”, better known as “Frankenstein”.  Polidori penned “The Vampyre”, better known as Count Dracula.

There were other literary contributions that are believed to have been inspired by "the year there was no summer".  Lord Byron wrote his poem "Darkness" in July of 1816, as the skies were often the tinge of red and yellow, rather apocalyptic.  We now know that the reason for this and the strange season was due to the erruption of Mount Tambora (Indonesia) the preceeding year. In 1865, John Greenleaf Whittier wrote “Snow-bound”.


About the photos:  I took this one two years ago.  Herds of 
deer ran behind my house and liked to gather in my neighbor's 
yard and visit with her horses (I liked to do the same!). The
turkey photo was taken after they crossed the road in front
of my car so I just had to take a  picture of them heading 
into the field. The tree with a grossbeak and frozen apples
from the previous fall was taken following a spring icestorm. 

Does the snow or other weather inspire you to write?  Songs, poems, stories?  Does writing help you get through the long winters of your life?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

12 Pearls of Christmas

Margaret McSweeney at Pearl Girls is featuring a special Christmas devotional series featuring some of your favorite authors.   So if you are looking for something to inspire you and prepare your heart for Christmas you may want to join them for the 12 Pearls of Christmas starting December 12th.

You can also enter the giveaway for a three strand pearl necklace!

And now I'm off to write my Christmas list, cards, notes, etc.  I wonder if I should keep a word count?

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Mystery of the Cross

The Mystery of the Cross - Bringing Ancient Christian Images to Life by Judith Couchman (Intervarsity Press)

 "Christianity is a religion founded on the mystery of the cross of Christ." - Leo the Great

"At the center of Christianity sits the cross of Christ.  From the beginning, Christ's followers celebrated the cross as a symbol of their faith.  It was honored in church worship, carved
into rough tombstones, pressed onto loaves of bread and set out as a sign of sanctuary.  The
cross represented what Christians believed, who they hoped for and how they approached life."

Judith Couchman is the author or compiler of more than forty books.  She is also teaches art history for the University of Colorado.   In her newest book, Judith explores the mystery of the cross through 40 short chapters that depict the imagery of the cross from early Christianity.  Judith draws from the knowledge she gained through extensive research.

As a protestant, Judith had never heard of many of fascinating things she discovered as she researched this book.  I imagine that it was much like a pilgrimage for her as she unearthed bits of history in the representation of the cross.  In The Mystery of the Cross, she shares these interesting facts and helps the reader focus on the significance of the cross and the Savior's sacrifice.  That was true for me.  From the first chapter I embarked on my own pilgrimage of the cross as I learned about early pre-Christian signs of the cross such as the Standing Stones of Callanish, the only megaliths on the British Isles to configure into a cross.   I learned how the Christian apologist Clement of Alexandria emphasized worshiping God instead of representing him through art, as he exhorted early Christians not to worship idols.  Yet, he understood it was natural for Christians to see the cross in symbols such as an anchor.  And the cross would endure through the ages as a reminder to Christians of their faith in Christ Jesus.

The Mystery of the Cross takes this vast topic and serves it to us in an easy to read and enjoyable format.  The readings are fascinating and can be read for art appreciation, historical information, personal meditation, spiritual formation, or worship insights.  Illustrations and photographs are sprinkled throughout the book to further enhance the feast that the author lays before us.   I highly recommend this book to anyone - student, historian, seeker, believer, theologian.  The cross transcends all of us.  And we become richer for learning more about The Mystery of the Cross.

I know my husband, who loves studying the early church, is going to enjoy sharing this book with me.   Perhaps someone on your Christmas list would enjoy this inspiring book as well.

The Mystery of the Cross is available through my affiliate link or you can purchase it at local bookstores, online booksellers, at InterVarsity Press.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the cross.  As art, in writing, in your life.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Writer Analogies

Writers love good analogies.  They help open up our mind.  Here are a few good ones that I've found around the web that are all about writing.  They might give you a little perspective.  Enjoy!

Spider Web
Hope Chest  (scroll down for the Nov. 3Oth post)
Golden Pen  - don't miss this one!

P.S.  I'm adding to the list!  Some of our visitors are telling me about analogies at at their blogs.  If you have one on your blog just say so. Here are some bonus links:

Changing Tides
Jar of Rocks

I know I'm sending you away, but before you leave,
do you have an a
nalogy you'd like to share about the writing life?
Take a peek at mine.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sticky Notes: Confidence in God's Enabling

"I'm thankful for the days of struggle when it's clear this book won't get written without God's grace. I want to stay in the place of dependency, even while He gives me confidence as I grow in the writing craft. Confidence not so much in my ability, but in His enabling."
~ Lori Benton, Past Perfect

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sometimes We Dream, Sometimes It Snows

As a night owl, it's a rare occasion that I go to bed by 9 pm.  Last night, after a long week, I couldn't resist.

My cozy bedtime routine includes reading by my little stained glass lamp which sits on my night stand, an antique book sellers table that houses my Bibles. So I snuggled up with A Measure of Mercy by Lauraine Snelling.  Some time later I put the book down, turned off the little lamp, and prepared myself for sleep.

After some prayer time my thoughts turned, where else, but to my writing.  I've a novel that I've been striving over for a very long time.  It is entirely out of sequence and cannot seem to manage it.  I've been praying lately for a breakthrough so that the characters would reveal to me what has led them up to a pivotal point in the story.  I drifted into slumber, hoping to work it out in my dreams. 

At 1:30 am  I shot out of bed.  It came to me.  I saw my protagonist crouching by a stream looking at her reflection.  There was snow.  This was a very important element to the story.  After writing for about an hour and a half, I found my way back to bed with the peace only a satisfied writer knows.

I awoke this morning to an early day of travel with my son and the remainder of it visiting with my mom.  My mom asked me to help her with her computer and showed me her new desktop wallpaper.  She had taken the photo herself, not so far from her home, a few years ago and had rediscovered it.  There it was.  My snowy stream.  I could imagine "Rachel" by the water's edge, and a canoe coming around the bend.

It snowed this afternoon.

Photo taken Joyce Buckley (mom) -  Panther Run, Raymond, ME

   What special places do you imagine in your writing?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Blog Candy Giveaway!

It's just a little treat  ~ a small token of thanks for visiting my blog. You'll get a chance to win for each post you comment on between now and December 16th. The drawings will be held randomly. If your email address isn't easily accessible from your profile or your own blog/site, make sure you insert it in your post.  Entry starts now with this post!

What kind of candy am I serving?

Set of 5 country primitive Christmas gift tags.

Laura Frantz won this!
Wise Men Still Seek Him resin holiday pin.

Saleslady371 won this!
Two old fashioned Christmas postcard replicas. 
Great for Christmas greetings, scrapbooking, etc.

Please leave your comment to win!

Blessings, Carla

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Seize the Day

 Thanks for joining me in the hot tub . . . and now time for a little music.

As a writer, how do you seize the day?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Talk About Writing

Late this afternoon I met two of my writer friends for a little girlfriend time. We talked about homeschool, books, movies, church, and our kids. We had eggnog, passed along some gently used clothing, shared books, and other girly stuff.

Our gracious hostess had also invited us over to use the hot tub - the outdoor hot tub.  I wasn't certain it would be possible to relax outdoors,  in Maine, in December, in the dark, in a bathing suit,  in 28 degree weather.  It took a little coaxing, yet I finally acquiesced having been convinced that if my Scandanavian ancesters found the habit benefical that I might also.  At least it wasn't snowing.

It was actually very nice getting into a 104 degree tub of bubbling water, especially since I've been dealing with a lot of back pain these days, not to mention my fibromyalgia.  Oh, just mentioned it, didn't I?  The warm water helped sooth my aches and pains away. When the 20 minute timer went off, we actually pushed it again making our delightful spa last a full 40 minutes.   By the time we were done we were roasting.  Wrapped in our robes, we didn't even notice the chilly Maine air as the icicles tried to form on our dripping hair.

Part of the enjoyment of our hot tub excursion was from the great conversation we had.  We could see our breath, you know.  But the warm bubbles danced around me and my friend, Groovy Old Lady, as we talked about our faith, family, and another favorite topic . . . writing.  We discussed the novels we are writing, characters, authors, resources, blogging, the publishing industry, etc.  Talk about rejuvination.  It doesn't get any better than that!

So, where is the most interesting place you've ever had a conversation about writing?