On My Shelf BLOG

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.

 

Thanksgiving Part 4

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
 I Chronicles 16:34 (NKJV)

For me two words stand out in this verse of Scripture. MERCY, and FOREVER.

What would I do without the LORD’s mercy? I don’t deserve it. I can’t earn it. I have no legal claim to it. All I can do is ask Him for it. Ask Him to love me, forgive me and bless me in spite of my sins, in spite of my self-centeredness, in spite of my rebellion, in spite of my frailties, in spite of myself.

His mercy is totally underserved, but He pours it out on me anyway.

…not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:5 NKJV)

And His mercy toward me and you, toward all humankind, continues FOREVER.

For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations. (Psalm 100:5)

But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, (Psalm 103:17)

With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,” Says the Lord, your Redeemer. (Isaiah 54:8)

That’s HUGE to me. That’s something to be truly grateful for.

Thanksgiving–A Harvest Celebration

Thanksgiving—A Harvest Celebration

Written by Julie Stiegemeyer            Illustrated by Renné Benoit  harvest-celebration

Published by Concordia Publishing House in 2003

 

Thanksgiving—A Harvest Celebration is a nonfiction picture book about the Pilgrims’ journey to the New World, their first year of extreme hardship, their friendship with Native Americans and their feast of thanksgiving.

It was published in 2003 which, if I recall correctly, is about the time the children’s publishing world made a shift from straight, didactic nonfiction to “creative nonfiction.”

Thanksgiving—A Harvest Celebration is filled with interesting information. Stiegemeyer created a fictitious main character, Ellen Chilton, and centered the narrative around her. However, the narrator has an adult voice, and the text is rather didactic. That’s fine for adults. I enjoyed the book. But I can see that it would be difficult for this text to hold the attention of 21st century children.

The illustrations are lovely. And the text is a friendly way to teach children the facts of Thanksgiving.

I do appreciate that Stiegemeyer (and Concordia) placed great emphasis on the Pilgrims’ gratitude to God for His many blessings. The last few pages of Thanksgiving—A Harvest Celebration contemporize the lesson and remind the children listening to be grateful to God and to our Savior, Jesus Christ.

This book is a welcome addition to MY SHELF because it helps me teach my grandchildren the truth that all blessings come from God our Father and His Son, Jesus.

 

Thanksgiving Part 3

Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!   
Psalm 117:8, 15, 21, 31 (NKJV)

How many wonderful works of the LORD’s goodness can you name in 15 seconds? No pre-planning. No “warming up.” Just set the timer on your cell phone for 15 seconds and start naming the good things God gives us.

I tried it. Set my timer and started rattling off good things. I was able to mention 22 everyday things that we usually take for granted. Good things. Wonderful things. Things that God gives to all people, all of mankind, “all humanity” as the Holman Christian Study Bible says.

Moon, sun and stars, gravity, trees, mountains, earth, sea and sky came to mind immediately. Other things like family came a millisecond slower.

God gives good gifts to all humans regardless of their relationship to Him. Jesus said:

He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:45)

Psalm 107 lists numerous gifts God gives to those who do not yet love, trust and obey Him. He redeems them, He rescues them from distress, He brings them out of darkness and gloom, God heals them, He rescues them from hell, and He lifts the needy out of their suffering with no strings attached.

God is good to all people. So, all people should give thanks to the LORD. Why? Because He is good.

Those who live in darkness do not understand the wonderful works God has in store for them after they accept Christ. But they can understand that good things come from a good God. And they can thank Him for His goodness.

That’s a start. A place for people to begin their journey toward Him, the good God for all humankind. They can start with giving thanks to the LORD for His goodness to them.

The Very First Thanksgiving Day

The Very First Thanksgiving Day

Written by Rhonda Gowler Greene               Illustrated by Susan Gaber

 

very-first-thnx-dayThe Very First Thanksgiving Day is a rhyming picture book that shows young readers the story of the first Thanksgiving celebration in the New World. The illustrations are beautiful.

It is mostly written in tercets. The first two lines of each stanza rhyme with each other. The third line repeats the first line of the previous stanza. However, there is another interesting twist. In the second half of the book the poem switches to couplets. These couplets repeat the story working  backwards through the poem so that the last couplet repeats the first two lines of the first tercet. Both the first and the last page of the book (poem) are the same words.

This poetic form makes the story come full circle. It reminds me of children’s songs like “There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly.”

I have no idea what poetic form this is. If you know, please tell us in the COMMENTS below. If you can, please leave a link to a website that describes this complicated form.

Thanks, and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!