I had a Eureka! moment this week. Actually, I’ve had a few of those in the past couple of weeks. Some have been mundane (like, Eureka! If I fill and run the dishwasher before I go to bed at night I’m less stressed the next morning.) Most have been writing related. And after seven years of consistent wrestling with my writing, it’s about time!

You see, six years ago this November, I actually finished a novel. Well, almost a novel. 50,000 words, to be exact. Until then, I’d never finished much of anything—only a few of the creative writing assignments for school, because, after all, they received a grade! Then began the arduous task of editing, of adding and subtracting to make the novel what it should be. Then I began and finished another one. Then another one. Each one I approached with a little more knowledge and a little different method to my madness. But each one fell short of the mark in some aspect.

What do to? I’ve spent the first eight months of this year asking myself and the Lord this question. My understanding of craft has grown greatly, but I still wasn’t able to grasp how best to accomplish my goals of getting the stories in my head down on the page. So I’ve grappled in fits and starts. And then I hit Eureka euphoria.

You see, I’ve been listening to and reading about how other authors budget their time and approach this monumental task of telling a story with compelling characters and a page turning plot over the course of 80,000 or 90,000 words. And slowly, slowly, I’ve been meshing them all into the plan that works for me. Finally, I think, I’ve hit upon the plan that fits my lifestyle and my temperament, that combines planned and organic elements.

What is this revelation that is revolutionizing and energizing my writing? Well, like any good author, I’ll leave you hanging until next time . . .


You can buy an autographed copy of Mary DeMuth's insightful book, Authentic Parenting in a Post-Modern Culture
by clicking on the link.

It's been a very busy week for me, but the kids are off to school today (woohoo!) so I should be around more consistently starting Monday!


A Recommended Parenting Book

I don’t read parenting books. At least that’s what I decided after my first child never followed the prescribed patterns (child does X, parent does Y, child’s behavior changes). So I find it quite humorous that God connected me with two very wonderful writers who write—you guessed it—parenting books!

Today I’d like to tell you about Mary DeMuth’s latest non-fiction title (she writes fiction, too). Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (Harvest House, 2007) is not your typical parenting book. Much like her first parenting book, Building the Christian Family You Never Had (Waterbrook, 2006), Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture isn’t a prescriptive parenting book. Instead of giving formulaic answers to specific situations, Mary insightfully and scripturally encourages us as parents to shift our thinking about how we are preparing our children to face the changing world.

Mary first encourages parents to deepen their own walk with Jesus. Only with His wisdom and strength can we ever hope to guide each child into our ultimate goal for them: to know the Lord on their own. This involves being real with our children, allowing them to see our failings, hear our apologies, and witness our changes. It also involves seeing our children as valuable not only for who they are but for how God uses them to teach us more about Him and more about the life of faith.

But Mary goes beyond looking at ourselves as parents. She encourages us to understand that we are called to come alongside our tweens and teens, conversing and coaching through the ups and downs of life, so that they learn not only to grab hold of their own faith and live it out, but also learn patterns of life that will help them navigate a postmodern society which values things like relationship and communication. By using creative, everyday things, we can ground our children in the truth of the Word of God and nurture their souls, preparing them to do the work God has for them in this broken world.

I recommend this book for any parent out there, but especially for those in or entering the tween and teen years, where so much grappling with how to walk out a relationship with Christ is done.

Be sure to check out the other blogs participating on the Authentic Parenting Tour this week. For a complete listing of the blogs participating in the six week tour, visit here.
Ane Mulligan
A Peek at My Bookshelf
Candle Blog
Declaring His Marvelous Work
Generation NeXT Parenting
Holy Experience
Hopeful Happenings
In the Dailies
Leap of Faith
Lift My Noise
Llama Momma
Soul Scents
The View from Here
Write On Edge


Two Movies

In a quite unusual turn of events, we saw TWO movies at the theatre this weekend. The contrast between the two was worlds beyond their settings (modern day NYC and the 19th century English countyside.)

I wanted so much to like No Reservations. I wanted it to become one of my new favorites, alongside the likes of You’ve Got Mail and While You Were Sleeping. It sounded so appealing—two chefs, one orphaned child. But, alas, it was not to be. There was just so little emotional pull. I still don’t know if it was the screenplay or the acting, but whatever it was, it didn’t move me to care enough about the characters. In fact, the storyline was much like a movie I liked—Raising Helen—which had tons of emotion. Besides the lack of pulling me in, the two main characters’ budding relationship flowered much too early, and too easily.

No Reservations could learn a bit from Becoming Jane. Becoming Jane is a charming film about Jane Austen before classic literature spilled from her pen. There was emotion. There was romance. There was the heat of a look that sends chills to my toes—something two kissing faces and a closed door couldn’t do in No Reservations. I’m sure much of this story was fictionalized, but it was based on Jane’s experiences which, in turn, colored her fiction. It was fun to watch characters which resembled those in her books and wonder how close they were in real life to the characters we cherish even now. And the best part? Watching it with my willing husband—one of only 2 men in the theatre!!


Playing Editor

I’m playing editor these days. I’m trying to get my own first 25 pages polished to send in for a paid critique. I’m editing my friend Tamitha’s YA novel to send to an editor who asked to see it. And I’m editing my friend Mary's third novel, due soon at the publisher.

I enjoy editing. It makes me a better writer, and, in turn, a better editor! And in the case of editing other people’s work, I get to read some great stories in the process. I’m glad that the things I’ve learned about writing in the past 7 years can be put to use helping those on their first novel, like Tamitha, as well as veterans like Mary, with 5 published books under her belt and four more due at the publisher.

Whatever else the Lord has planned for my writing, I know this is one way I can be a blessing to the body of Christ and have a hand in getting His message out to those who need it.


And the Countdown Begins . . .

Hey y’all!

I’m trying to get my daughter to do a post or two about her trip, but pinning down a sixteen-year-old can be like trying to corral the wind!

Anyway, I’m gearing up for school to start. And the countdown begins. Only two and half weeks left! Woohoo! We still have several appointments to keep before then, football two-a-days begin today, and of course school supplies are yet to be bought, but I’m already thinking schedules and blocking out my writing time for the school year. I’m limiting my school involvement this year in order to find more time to write, but that’s okay since I no longer have any kids in the elementary grades!!!

I thrive on routine, so I’m chomping at the bit for it to begin again. Routine and a quiet house. I’ve almost forgotten what they feel like.



I’m home.

That phrase took on new meaning for me Monday night. We’d been to visit family on the east coast for 10 days. It was, in many ways, a good trip. We celebrated my husband’s grandmother’s 80th birthday (12 great-grandchildren were in attendance). We visited with aunts and uncles and cousins as well as parents, grandmothers, a sister and brother-in-law, a nephew and a five-week-old niece. We went to the beach, the boardwalk, played mini golf. The kids fished. My husband and I read a lot.

But it wasn’t paradise by any stretch of the imagination. Sleeping conditions were less than ideal both in terms of space, comfortable beds, and temperature. For us Texans used to summering the heat with blasts of the AC, no AC proved a challenge, especially in 95% humidity! I confess, it made me grumpy in the end. Add to that being at the beach (in the same house) with thirteen people, including the newborn, a three-year-old, and a 92-year-old grandmother, all of whom we had to feed three times a day and things got a bit hairy. I like my space and I didn’t get much of it.

By the time we hit Baltimore for 24 hours of just our family before catching our flight home, we were exhausted and I just wanted to be in my own house. A rain delay at the airport meant that didn’t happen until nearly midnight on Monday. But as I lay in my own bed, I felt the grin on my face and I thanked the Lord that I was home.

That’s when it hit me. The joy of coming home.

I confess that I’ve never been one that “longs” for heaven. In my younger years, as I dealt with issues of rejection and unworthiness, I feared heaven, feared I wouldn’t be let in or, worse yet, would be tossed out. Later, as I truly understood the love of God and accepted as truth how He sees me now, heaven didn’t scare me, but I didn’t necessarily long for it, either. Monday night I understood.

This life is like our trip—we live with people we love, enjoying them, enduring them, surviving often less-than-ideal conditions, reveling in those occasional rapturous moments, but all the while knowing we can (and must) endure because it is only a short time until we will be where we belong, in a place that feels familiar and safe and comfortable and peaceful.

So our family is at home now. All together again. I’m happy but tired and swamped with things to catch up on. And I have a new inkling of the satisfaction that will come when I finish my sojourn on this earth and take up my citizenship in my true home—heaven.

(At least when I get there I won’t have to deal with mounds of laundry or mail—or an empty pantry!)