On My Shelf BLOG

The Way Back – Part 5

swimming-1265932_1280.jpgWednesday night I sat in front of my laptop and REWROTE something.

I started out revising a PB manuscript I’ve been working on for years. As I worked I could see LOTS of places that needed help – a lot of help.

So, I printed it out and took a blue pen to it. Circling things, scratching things out, moving things around. I was being creative. It felt good to stretch those writing muscles.

Each time I read the manuscript I saw more things to eliminate. Then, I got a couple of new ideas. The theme of the story that I’ve been chasing round and round for years rose to the surface effortlessly. I was excited!

I felt kind of like a swimmer who has been out of the water for a long time. When she finally gets to dive into the pool and starts reaching out with long, smooth strokes she feels strong again.

Wednesday night I felt strong again. I’m ready to jump in and start swimming.

 

Step #6 for me is DIVE IN. TAKE A RISK. START SOMETHING NEW.

All week I’ve been thinking about writing, and reading about writing, and talking about writing. Now it’s time to actually DO what I’ve been blogging about.

Now it’s time for me to write something from that creative center that God gave me.

Time to stop procrastinating, stop staring into the water. Time to dive in.

bulb-40701_1280So, I’m making a pact with you. Before my next blog post (Tuesday) I am going to start a manuscript that is totally new for me. Something I’ve never worked on before.

I’m going to search through my imagination for an idea and go with it. It might turn out to be great. Or, it might turn out to be garbage. But it’s going to be something brand new from inside me.

How about you? When is the last time you wrote a brand new manuscript from nothing? Will you jump in with me this weekend?

animal-1851495_1280

 

Or are you going to be a big chicken?

Come on. I dare you!

 

 

 

 

The Way Back – Part 4

PTL!

IMG_4468I’m eager to share with you how the Lord provided for me last week. I mentioned that I’m somewhat isolated because of my recent move. Well, since that post I found the Louisville Christian Writers (or https://www.facebook.com/lcwriters/)  who meet monthly just ten minutes from my home.

Then, a writing friend contacted me on Facebook about a one day conference she’s organizing this spring in – you guessed it, Louisville.

AND, I was invited to join a small critique group of folks who write for children.

Isn’t God good? Amen! Thank you, Lord, for hearing our smallest requests.

Now, to return to step five of my journey.

Step 5-SPEND TIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA EVERY DAYphiladelphia-224462_1280.jpg

Do you ever find yourself in the far left lane on an Interstate highway, then suddenly realize you need to be four lanes over in the far right?  You survey the hundreds of cars and truck zooming by and dread grabs you. How are you going to get from here to there?

I feel that way about marketing most of the time. But, I need to get my mind into gear for it. What good is one of my books or articles doing if no one reads it?

These days marketing begins (and sometimes ends) with social media. <sigh>

I admit that I do NOT enjoy maintaining a social media presence. I’m making some progress in that direction, but I keep easing off the clutch too soon and rolling backwards. I believe I resent the time I spend “socializing” instead of researching and writing. I’m trying to look at it from a different perspective.

I am learning to use Buffer.com to make better use of my time. But, it takes TIME to use Buffer (and such programs) to save time.

I’ve decided to use my writing time one day each week for learning how to use, and maybe enjoy using, social media.

I’m taking advantage of Buffer’s free educational videos to learn how to optimize the time and energy I put into it.

My agent, Cyle Young, is a media/marketing guru. His newsletter Almost An Author is loaded with marketing tips and advice. I’m determined to implement some of his advice.

But it’s kind of like taking cough meds with that horrible Guaifenesin taste. (BTW – the only way I’ve found to neutralize that taste is peppermint.) Time to be a big girl, isn’t it?

This week I’ll watch the Buffer videos. Next week, my goal is to locate and read Cyle’s posts about social media. And, of course, to try to understand what I’m reading!

auto-racing-558089_1280.jpgCan you share any tips you know, or videos you’ve viewed, or online courses you have taken on better use of your time on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and all of those other sites out there? Thanks. I’ll take all the  help I can get!

Okay. It’s time to hit the road.

“Jean, start your engine!”

 

 

The Way Back – Part 3

Step 4-USE ONLINE EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

IMG_0785I need to review the basics, practice the intermediate things I’ve learned, and start learning something new to improve my writing and marketability. Easy-peasy, right?

Websites and blogs for writers in every genre abound. Many have great archives. I’m dabbling.

I also belong to a couple of organizations that offer ongoing free education and advice online. Just spending a few minutes on one of these sites gets my creative brain in the right lane.

Here are a few for you to sample:

Writer’s Digest offers hundreds of articles. Shucks! Maybe thousands of them.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/list-of-50-poetic-forms-for-poets

Evelyn Christensen offers gobs of information and education for writing nonfiction for children.

http://evelynchristensen.com/mags.

The Write2Ignite! blog posts practical and informative articles specifically for those who write for children. They also have a great Conference in SC in March.

http://write2ignite.com/blog/

Emma Walton Hamilton’s page of her favorite resources is great.

http://emmasfavorites.com/

Tara Lazar’s blog is jam-packed with informative stuff. Love it.

https://taralazar.com/

Julie Hedlund offers tons of informative blog posts plus her for-hire services.

http://www.juliehedlund.com/

One more – right here under my RESOURSES tab.

https://jeanmatthewhall.com/resources-for-writers/

And there are hundreds of thousands more online.

Browse them, decide whether or not each one will be helpful for you. If so, dig in. The banquet is free. Absolutely free.

The Way Back Part 2

I have to get my creative thinking back on track.

Since December 30, I’ve been focused almost entirely on getting settled into our condo. Buying things, hanging things, returning things, unpacking things, donating unneeded things and cleaning things became all important to me. I hate the stress I feel when I’m surrounded by disorder, chaos. So I was compelled to get everything in its proper place. I’m almost there.

I’ve ordered book cases so I can free my beloved books from their cages and give each one a permanent home, then I can organize my writing space. I can hardly wait.

Meanwhile, I’m working to get my mind and emotions off the new condo and back onto writing and all that goes with it.30308067981_3ef33779f8_o.jpg

I have to do it step-by-step. I think most people do.

 

Step 1-READ SOMETHING RELATED TO WRITING EVERY DAY:

Last September I purchased a great book at the SCBWI-Carolinas 2016 Conference. A Writer’s Guide to Persistence: How to Create a Lasting and Productive Writing Practice by Jordan Rosenfeld. I finished the first third of the book when my life went into hyper-drive. I dug this book out of its box and started reviewing the chapters I had completed. Highlighter in hand I dove in. Within a few days I was reading new material.

I felt a wee bit like a communicator again.

Three days ago I started actually reading all of the blog posts coming into my email inbox.

Two days ago I cleaned out my bulging inbox. PTL! It was good to permanently delete more than 500 emails! Kind of like cleaning out a long-neglected closet. I LOVE that feeling!

 

31678674716_62a70bd1bf_o.jpg

Step 2-WRITE SOMETHING EVERY DAY:

 

 

Okay, the first day I only wrote a few comments on blogs and Facebook. But it was a start, right? Oh, and does my to-do list count as writing?

The next day I started typing out my prayers. I’ve done this for years. It’s effective for me on several levels. But, along with everything else, I had neglected this practice for a couple of months.

This past weekend I wrote Part 1 of this blog post. Baby-steps, I know.

Here I am tonight working on Part 2. I think my fuel pump is kicking in.

 

Step 3-GET INVOLVED AGAIN WITH A CRITIQUE GROUP (OR TWO)27228570313_dbe5bc9126_o.jpg

Relocating has temporarily isolated me. I know only a handful of people here, none of whom are writers. I’ve searched for contacts, but I’ve found

NO SCBWI chapter in Kentucky

NO Word Weavers chapter near Louisville

I found an ACW group in this area. I emailed them tonight.

Anyone in the Louisville, Kentucky, area who knows of a critique group please let me know!

I also reconnected with the online critique group to which I belong. I need to get their feedback on my stories. I need the accountability of preparing something to submit. I also need the practice of critiquing their work. It puts my head into the right mode to work on my own stories.

 

Step 4-I’ll pick up here on Friday.

 

How do you get your creative engine running when you’ve been away from writing for a while? Do you use a similar process? Or do you have another method?

Please share in the comments below. I could use your help! I’ll bet other readers of this blog could too. Thanks.

PHOTO CREDITS:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/16391511@N00/31678674716

http://www.flickr.com/photos/68134711@N00/30308067981

 

 

The Way Back – Part 1

I’ve been absent from blogging, writing and social media for four months, but it seems like years. I desperately need to get back into the rhythm of praying, reading and writing daily. I decided that awakening this blog is the best place to start.

In September my husband, Jerry, died. That left me not only feeling lost and out of sync, but it also created reams of paperwork, forms, telephone calls, websites and interviews to transition into widowhood. So, my writing slid a bit toward the back burner for a while.

The next couple of months brought extra personal responsibilities for me. I also made the decision to sell our home and relocate to be near our son and his family. The sorting, cleaning and packing started.

file000822928993.jpgThey exploded, however, when our daughter asked if she could buy our home. Of course I said yes. She and the grandkids love that house and the memories that linger there. However, her time-table was much shorter than mine, so that thrust sorting, cleaning and packing everything we owned to hyper-speed.

All this during Thanksgiving and Christmas season. So, I decided that my writing efforts would have to stay on hold until the new year begins.

I relocated on December 30, 2016. During December I sold our home, bought a condo, moved to Kentucky and started unpacking and settling in.

Starting anew is exciting. It’s exhausting, AND it’s exhilarating. I began to feel this craziness was a fun new “normal” for me.

But the past few days I’ve realized this is not my normal. For me “normal” means that I must, absolutely must, get back into a routine. I must return to dedicated time for prayer, reading and writing every day. I must get my mind and heart back into that passionate place I had six months ago for time alone in silence before God, and for writing.

And I must do it now.

As Jordan Rosenfeld says in her amazing book A Writer’s Guide to Persistence: How to Create a Lasting and Productive Writing Practice, “Do it persistence-2now. Before your story is over.” (p. 68)

That tidbit at the very bottom of page 68 was a slap in the face for me. Cold water in my sleepy eyes. An icy floor beneath toes snatched from my warm bed. It made me realize that I must do it now –

 

or forever regret it.

In the next few posts I want to share my journey back with you. I pray it will inspire you to continue on in your writing, or to start all over again if you find your writing self in a warm, cozy little spot drifting into creative slumber like I have.

It’s time for me to awake.

Will you join me?

Beautiful

Beautiful

Written by Stacy McAnulty                 Illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

Published by Running Press in 2016

Okay, I’m in love again—at first read. I found a picture book (Beautiful) that is written for every little girl everywhere! My youngest granddaughter is getting this one for Christmas. That is, if I can bear to part with it.

I bought Beautiful while at the SCBWI Carolinas Conference the last weekend in September. I fell hopelessly in love with it before I lifted it from the book sales table.

Lew-Vriethoff’s illustrations had me charmed before I opened the cover. And then, the juxtaposition of her witty artwork and McAnulty’s text (only seventy-one words) sealed the deal.

I hope my beautiful four-year old granddaughter loves it as much as I do.

Oh, no! My sixteen-year old granddaughter, and her twenty-year old big sister will love it, too. Actually my daughter and daughter-in-law will want a copy, too.

But I don’t want to give mine up!

Shucks! I guess it’s back to the book store for me.

THANKSGIVING Part 5

But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. I Corinthians 2:14-15 (HCSB)

What happens when an athletic team wins a big championship? There’s an even bigger celebration, right?

Confetti flies, Gatorade gets dumped on a coach, the athlete who scored the final points takes a ride on the shoulders of her teammates while touting a humongous trophy to everyone possible.

That shining trophy is then put on display for the world to see.

Do you know that, according to these verses (and others) WE are God’s trophies? That He circles the heavens showing us off and then puts us on public display for everyone who crosses our paths to see. We are His trophies. We are the reason for God’s victory parade.

That’s an amazing image to me. God saves us through Christ Jesus, then, He proudly puts us and every moment of our lives on display for His glory. When I consider that I have to give Him thanks for the good, the supposedly bad, and for the insignificant details of my life. I am the result of His victory in Christ Jesus.

But that’s not all I can thank God for.

The second half of these verses calls us Christians the fragrance of Christ among people who are believers in Christ and even among those who refuse to believe.

Without doubt my favorite part of our Thanksgiving Day celebrations is the aromas that fill our house.

  • the fragrance of turkey browning in butter and sage, onions and celery
  • the aroma of sweet potatoes sprinkled with brown sugar or topped with toasted marshmallows
  • the take-me-home smell of hot apples, cinnamon and nutmeg
  • the irresistible aroma of yeast bread in the oven

Where’s the kitchen? I’m ready to start baking!

Those beautiful, fragrant reminders transport me to home and happy memories of Thanksgiving Days past.

2 Corinthians 2:14-15 says we are, similarly, the fragrance of Christ. Much like the smell of mashed potatoes swimming in butter and gravy transports us to Thanksgiving Day, we Christians are to remind people of, and attract people to, the beauty of Christ.

We ARE the fragrance of Christ to remind those who believe in Christ, and to attract those who do not believe in Christ.

So, I must ask myself at this Thanksgiving season, how am I “smelling” lately? Am I a delicious aroma of Christ? Or am I a rotten potato detracting from Christ?

Am I a shining trophy for the Lord, or a chunk of tarnished brass?

I get to choose.

 

This Is the Feast

feastThis Is the Feast

Written by Diane Z. Shore        Illustrated by Megan Lloyd

Published by Scholastic, Inc. in 2008

 

This Is the Feast is a rhyming picture book about the Pilgrims’ journey and settlement of the New World, then their feast of thanksgiving. The voice is quite similar to another Thanksgiving book ON MY SHELF, The Very First Thanksgiving Day (also published by Scholastic, Inc.)

I was pleasantly surprised that This Is the Feast makes repeated reference to the Pilgrims specifically thanking God for His blessings.

The artwork is bright and colorful like the season of fall. As a matter of fact it was too colorful in some ways. The Pilgrims are dressed in bright colors—orange, red, blue, purple, summer green. That isn’t historically correct, and it jerked me out of the story.

The rhythm is happy and bouncy and fits the illustrations well. However, it is the same rhythm as  The Very First Thanksgiving Day.