Additional Information

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Query Got Ya Down?

Mine sure does! I'm back at it again; my third attempt did not turn out so well.  I wish I could snap my fingers (or tap the keyboard) and have a perfect query appear.  But that isn't going to happen.

I've gotten great feedback on each of my attempts, so I'm glad for that at least.  My biggest problem initially was keeping my query from reading like a synopsis.  Now I'm having a hard time narrowing down what to put in the query.  There's a lot going on in the story.  My MC (Emily) wants her friendship with her best friend (Nicky, a guy, not a girl) to become something more.  She also is dealing with alcoholic/abusive parents, and her not-so-great relationship with them becomes worse when their friend rapes her.  And on top of all that, she's trying to figure out her relationship with God.  She believes in God, but she has trouble believing Him to be a loving God considering everything she's been through.  How the heck do I narrow all that down? Plus, part of the story takes place when Emily is still a child.  Actually, it's a pretty good chunk.  And I really think I have to get that across in the query somehow.  But maybe I'm wrong.  I don't know.  When it comes to queries, I have a lot to learn still!

Eventually I'll have a workable query, and when I do, I'll post it to share.  And in case I don't get a chance to post in the next few days, HAPPY NEW YEAR'S! Come on 2012...bring on my dream agent!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas

Ah, just a few more days until Christmas.  Crazy isn't it? I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, but I'm pretty sure there will be no snow in our neck of the woods, unlike several other areas in the United States.  But I don't envy them.  My definition of a white Christmas is an inch or maybe even a few, but not a foot of snow.  That's a bit much considering the amount of people who have to travel in that.  So I guess I should be happy we'll have sunshine and no rain.

We won't be traveling much this weekend unless going forty miles counts.  My brother in law and his wife are hosting the celebration this year, so we'll be headed their way on Sunday.  Then my husband and I will travel to my mom's house for New Year's.  That's a four and a half hour drive (she lives just North of Chicago), but it's one I'm used to.  The weekend after that we'll be traveling to Tennessee to see my dad and step-mom.  Eight hours in the car.  I don't mind though; I enjoy road trips. 

After all the traveling is done, life should get back to normal.  As for a writing update, I have completed another draft of my query.  The jury is still out, but I'll hopefully get some good feedback over the next couple days. 

Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Movies

One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is watch Christmas movies.  I grew up watching Rudolph, Frosty, the Grinch, along with classics such as It's A Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street.  I could name a dozen more, but I'm sure you get the point.  Christmas just isn't complete without Christmas movies.  I watched Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer when it aired on TV a few weeks ago.  Earlier this week I rented Miracle on 34th Street and Prancer.  And to my dismay, I fell asleep during Miracle on 34th Street.  (I know, I know.  How could I do such a thing? But my exhaustion hit me like a ton of bricks!) Anyway, I finally was able to finish that one last night, and my husband watched Prancer with me.  If you haven't seen Prancer, you should check it out.  But be careful; if you have a sentimental heart like me, the ending will make you cry.  Over the next week and a half, I plan to watch It's A Wonderful Life, Santa Claus 1, 2, and 3 (with Tim Allen), and Jack Frost (the nice one with Michael Keaton, not the horror movie).

So I'm curious to know: what Christmas movies do you have to watch every year?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Here Comes Christmas

We are just about half way through December and Christmas is almost here.  My husband and I finished up our shopping over the weekend.  My dining room table is currently covered with gifts and wrapping paper.  Within the next day or two the presents will be ready to be placed under the tree, unless I decide they would be safer on the table.  I know Tucker won't mess with them if they are under the tree, but Chip might.

With Christmas around the corner, I'm trying to take time to enjoy the season.  The older I get, the faster time goes by, and last year I felt like I didn't have a chance to really enjoy Christmas.  That being said, my writing has been neglected.  My query letter is still not finished, though I do have a nice list of agents I'd like to query once I'm ready to start that process.  I had hoped my query letter would be done by now, but it just might be January before it's finished.  My husband and I have so many other things going on, I'm trying not to be overwelmed.  And we'll have a bit of traveling to do soon.

So I hope everyone else is taking time to enjoy the holiday season.  Don't forget to admire the Christmas lights, sip eggnog by a warm fire, and relax.  That's what I'll be doing.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December Blog Chain

Today's post is part of the Absolute Write December Blog ChainThis month's prompt: Home for the holidays.  Write about a holiday memory.  It can be fiction or non-fiction.

I have chosen both fiction and non-fiction.  The following story is based on three Christmas traditions we had when I was growing up, which I hope to continue when I have kids. Those traditions are:

~Making cookies
~Placing the baby Jesus in the nativity scene on Christmas Eve
~Eating cake for breakfast and singing Happy Birthday to Jesus

After reading, please check out the links for the other participants in this month's blog chain.  Enjoy!

The whole family was celebrating Christmas at Grandma’s this year. When everybody was there on Christmas Eve, my cousins and I surrounded Grandma’s table, eager to start baking cookies. I sat impatiently as Grandma rolled the cookie dough out for us. As soon as she was done, I grabbed a star-shaped cookie cutter and got started.

“I want that one,” my cousin Jessie whined.

I glanced up from the table. Jessie wasn’t talking to me; she was fighting with her brother Joey. Grandma reached for the tree-shaped cookie cutter my two cousins were having a tug of war with. “Can’t you two learn to share?” Grandma asked.

I went back to work on my cookies, thankful my cousins didn’t care about the star, but I was sad, too. I liked the star because it made me think of the star that shone in the sky the night baby Jesus was born. I wished my cousins understood the true meaning of Christmas.

Once we had a few cookie sheets full of decorated cookie dough, Grandma put them in the oven. The smell of sugar cookies soon filled the house. My cousins and I went to play in the back living room while the cookies baked.

“Hey, it’s missing something.”

Jessie and I looked up from our game to see what Joey was talking about. He was studying the manger scene on Grandma’s table. Jessie stood and went over to her brother. “Hey, the baby’s gone!”

“Well duh!” Joey replied. “I said something was missing.”

“Baby Jesus isn’t supposed to be there yet,” I replied, remaining on the floor. “Grandma let’s me put him there before we go to bed. Because Jesus was born on Christmas.”

Each of them rolled their eyes at me. “Who cares when he was born? I just want the presents!” Joey stated.

Jessie nodded in agreement. “I wonder what Santa will bring us?”

I just shook my head. Jesus was more important than Santa. Didn’t they know that?

Grandma wouldn’t let us eat any cookies until after dinner. Joey and Jessie ate a whole pan full, but I only ate a couple. I didn’t want to go to bed with a full tummy because I wanted to have plenty of room for the birthday cake. I was helping grandma put the frosting on it when Joey and Jessie ran into the kitchen. “We get cake too?” Jessie asked.

“Not so fast,” Grandma replied, pulling Joey’s hand away from the cake. He still managed to get a scoop of frosting on his finger, and he licked it greedily. “That’s for breakfast.”

“We get cake for breakfast? Cool!” Joey said.

“Mommy and Daddy never let us eat dessert for breakfast!” Jessie added.

“Well tomorrow is a special day. Tomorrow is the day we celebrate Jesus’ birthday. And this cake is for Him.”

I nodded happily. Jesus’ birthday was the best day ever.  My cousins shrugged as if the reason for the cake didn’t matter, but it mattered to me. And when I went to bed later, I looked out the window and stared at the sky. “Thank you, Jesus.”

Here is a list of the other participants:
Ralph Pines
more to be added...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Researching Agents

Okay, so I haven't finished my query yet, but I have received some good suggestions on it over at Absolute Write.  I will be revising over the weekend, and here's to hoping to getting it correct.

I also had a chance to go to the bookstore yesterday.  After browsing the Christian Fiction shelves and the Young Adult shelves, I think my beta was correct to indicate my story fits in more with Young Adult rather than Christian Fiction.  With that knowledge gained, I began researching agents.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the publishing process, finding the right agent isn't as easy as you might think.  We writers must do our homework.  And I mean MUST.  We have to know what genres agents represent.  Sending a query for a YA Romance to an agent who represents fantasy and sci-fi will garner an instant form rejection.  Writers: don't do this.  It also helps to know what an agent's track record is.  How many books have they represented recently? Many agents have their own websites, so it is to a writer's advantage to check that site out.  By doing so, you'll find recent titles that have sold, what that agent's tastes are, and not to mention the submission guidelines which writers also must know if they want a shot at having the agent seriously consider their query.  Did I already mention writers must do their homework? Take this seriously.

So I have started a list of agents I would like to query.  But before I can start that process, I need to get my query revised.  Here I go...

Monday, November 28, 2011

An Interesting Holiday

Happy Monday to everyone.  I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving; I certainly did.  My husband and I spent Thursday and Friday with my family, Saturday with his, and Sunday with our church family.  We had a great four days and can't really complain...except for the mouse which decided to show itself after our Bible study group left our house last night and for the possible break in we had to our garage.  And before you worry, I assure you all turned out well.  The mouse will be caught quickly (they always are), and the person who attempted to get in through our garage door was unsuccessful. 

As for writing, I didn't get a chance to work on my query.  It needs revised, terribly so I'm afraid.  Quite frankly, it has me stumped.  A few more days of thinking it over should solve the problem.  Also, my beta finished reading my manuscript and sent me his comments.  I did a quick review of them, and they are very helpful.  I can't wait to sit down and make any necessary revisions.

Hope everyone is doing well. :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Week

Thanksgiving is just a few days away; I think I need a moment to catch my breath. 

At least my writing goal has been met.  I wanted to be finished with my novel by this time, and it is currently being reviewed by my beta.  I'm crossing my fingers in hopes of not having to correct too many things.  Over the weekend I wrote my query letter, also.  For my non-writing friends, the query letter is what is to sent to agents to get an agent's interest.  They are difficult to write because they need to be short and concise while summarizing the story well enough that the agent wants to know/read more.  My query is being reviewed now, too, and I'm sure I'll have a few more drafts before it is sent out to anybody.

That being said, I've got some down time since I'm waiting for feedback.  And I'm trying to enjoy it.  During the past week, I've done some reorganizing around my house because I can't stand clutter.  I finished reading one book before starting another one on Saturday.  I finished that one yesterday (Sunday).  I have many more books I'd like to read, but I'm not sure which one I want to start on next.  Plus I keep getting ideas for the next book I'm going to write, which has me excited about starting that project.  I need this break, though.  This is a busy time of the year, and I would like to enjoy it.  Especially the Christmas season; it's my favorite time of the year.

Hopefully I'll have a perfected query letter by January so I can start sending it out.  Now if I could just accomplish my goal of being published next year, I'd be all set.  We'll see how that goes! :)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

November Blog Chain

This is my first time participating in the Absolute Write Blog Chain.  There is a different prompt for each month, and November's is writing a back cover blurb for a book that has been written or is planned to be written. 

My blurb is from my current WIP, Shattered Innocence (working title).  The genre is Christian Fiction.  After the blurb you will find a list of this month's participants.  Feel free to click on their links to check out their blurbs.  Enjoy!


With so much to keep hidden, making friends is difficult for ten year old Emily.  If not for Nicky, the boy next door, Emily would have nobody to trust or turn to when her parents are fighting.  As Emily grows up, she depends on her best friend, and his Christian home becomes her safe haven.  It is there she learns God is not just a word thrown out in anger. 

As the line between friendship and something more begins to blur, Nicky prepares to leave for college, and Emily must accept that his dreams may not include her.  With Nicky away at school, Emily tries to hold her life together.  Desperate to escape for just a little while, she makes a decision that will turn her world upside down.  Scared and ashamed, she keeps the truth from Nicky until she's left with no choice but to call him.  He rushes home to be with her, but she'll have to place her trust in someone else before she can begin picking up the pieces of her shattered life.


There it is.  Please leave a comment to let me know what you think.  And just as an FYI, I'm thinking about changing the title to Shards of Glass.  I like the imagery and symbolism of that much better.

Here are the other participants links:
Ralph Pines
Jarrah Dale
dolores haze
writingismypassion (you are here)
more to come as they become available

Monday, November 7, 2011

Can I Say Finished?

Wow! I am feeling good today.  For the first time since I wrote my first draft, I feel like my novel is finished.  Getting the story into shape has been a crazy long saga. Here's a summary of the process with time gaps left out:

* Wrote a three part novel
* Felt there was more story to be told so a sequel was written
* Decided to combine both stories leaving me with 250K+ words to work with (way too many!)
* Began the editing process
* Removed Part I of the original to get word count under control (hated this, never felt right)
* Tons more edititing
* Story didn't work without Part I so put it back in
* Word count slowly came down but still wasn't where it needed to be
* Took a break to reflect on the story (what was it really about, what was the goal, etc)
* Decided the sequel was my imagination running away with me so took it out (material is saved, may use at a later time)
* Word count looked much better but...
* Decided to expand on the Christian element (add more when word count is high? eek!)
* Continued editing and removing unnecessary information
* Decided Part III was not needed (felt good about removing it)
* Finished editing.  (word count just over 97K! whew!)

So as I said, I'm feeling good right now.  I want to do one more read through before handing it over to some betas, and hopefully there won't be many wrinkles to iron out.  And if there are, then so be it.  I'll make the necessary corrections and get started on the query process.  Before that happens, I'm just going to enjoy where I'm at.  :)

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Halloween Tale

Okay, what I'm about to tell you didn't happen on Halloween.  It actually took place during the summer when I was 9 or 10 years old.  But I'd like to share it anyway since today is the day of ghosts, gouls, and all things scary. 

My sister and I, along with a friend, used to attempt to perform seances.  I loved ghost stories and enjoyed playing near houses that were supposedly haunted, so the idea of calling up a ghost was exciting to me.  I know, morbid right? That being said, I didn't actually believe seances would work.  But we attempted them anyway just for fun.

One day we were inside a pop-up camper which belonged to my friend's parents.  We had a screen window open on one end and the door was shut.  With a burning candle placed at the center of the small table, we joined hands and tried to call upon a ghost.  Nothing happened.  No surprise there.  My friend and sister then went inside the house to get something while I stayed in the camper.  I stared out the window, not expecting to see anything.  I was curious when a large image passed by the window.  The image was more like a light, a large orange light.  Doesn't really sound spooky does it? I watched it go by, not sure what to think.  Keeping my eye on the window, I tried to figure out what it could be.  Then it went by again, heading the same direction it had before.  Now here it was the middle of the day, sun shining bright, and a large orange "presence" was passing the window.  (Someone once asked me if there was something outside catching the sunlight.  The person thought maybe I was watching a reflection of something.  But this wasn't a reflection.  It was in the air itself.  It wasn't shining against the window or coming through the window and landing across the surface of the floor or wall.)  So this light went by a few times, and then a smaller light went by one time.  I was convinced there was a spirit, whether good or bad I had no idea, circling the camper.  I sat motionless until long after the images stopped.  And needless to say, I haven't tried a seance since.  As far as I'm concerned, something was out there.  And you can't convince me otherwise.

Of course, now that I'm older and a Christian, I wouldn't dare try anything like that.  I believe in angels, and I also believe in demons.  And playing around with seances or ouja boards and the like, in my opinion, is asking for trouble.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Glad To Beta

Last week I finished beta reading something for a fellow writer.  It was just what I needed, but I didn't realize it until I turned my focus back to my own story.  As you all know, I've been editing my novel for quite some time now.  And as close as I am to my story, it's hard for me to look at it objectively.  I can't just do a critique on it the same way I would on someone else's work.  And whenever I take a break from my story, I don't really take a break.  In other words, I might not write or edit anything, but I still focus all my thoughts on it. 

So after deciding to expand on a certain element in my story, I needed another break.  It's taken up tons of my time to get the word count down to a reasonable amount, and this decision was going to force me to add more words.  Not knowing where to start had me frozen, even though I didn't think it would take much to change it up.  About that time, a fellow writer made a request for a beta.  I jumped at the opportunity.  And I am glad I did!

I read the story submitted to me before offering my critique.  Then I went back to my story.  Without getting worked up about how to start, I started on page one and began reading.  Errors I had never seen before jumped out at me.  Why? Because I'd gotten used to watching for them in the story I was beta-ing.  Critiquing somebody else's work helped me to see my errors, which is always a good thing.  And not only that, it really cleared my head.  My over thinking about my novel had become my stumbling block.  Now that block is gone, and over the weekend I sailed through a third of my 113K word manuscript.  I tweaked here and there, added a bit in a few places, and removed unnecessary narrative/dialogue/etc.  And it's reading much better. 

Sometimes the editing process can be draining.  And for me, it's seldom fun, although it is necessary.  Thankfully, after putting all my focus on somebody else's work, my excitement for my story has been renewed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Who will be the next president?

We are just over a year from the next presidential election, and I am cringing at the potential answer to that question.  Will Obama be re-elected? Or will he be replaced by a Republican? I don't know, and after last night's Republican debate I have no idea who should be the next Republican candidate.

I have blogged before about the fact that I am a Christian.  I have no reason to keep that a secret.  And I freely admit that being a Christian influences the decisions I make every day.  If I were ever to be elected for a political office, my Christian background would influence my decisions and actions.  Surely that would be true for any one else who claims a religions background.  In fact, if someone is truly a Christian, Mormon, Muslim, or whatever, how can that person's religious background not be an inlfuence?

I bring this up because I am shocked by something Mitt Romney said during last night's debate.  He basically stated that a candidate's religion should not be a factor when people decide who to vote for.  (A copy of the exact quote can be found HERE ~ It's from a CNN article, and the quote is toward the bottom.) 

My head is still spinning! So per Romney's statement, my decision to vote for him, or not to, should not be influenced by the fact that he's a Mormon.  Well I can guarnatee this: A candidate's religious affiliation definitely is something I consider while deciding how to cast my vote.  According to Romney, people who allow a candidate's religion to determine how those people vote are straying from the intention of the Constitution.  What? Has he read the Constitution? Does he know anything about our Founding Fathers? The men who wrote our Constiution were influenced by their religious affiliation.  There can be no doubt about that! Does the Constitution guarantee that every person has the right to freely worship as they see fit? Absolutely.  But I don't think our Founding Fathers would agree that people should not let a candidate's religion determine how they cast their votes.

Quite frankly, I am apalled and disheartened.  So who will I vote for? Not Romney!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I Love Books

I have a confession: I love books.  Some day I hope to have a large library filled with books.  There is an antique shop I go to occasionally, and I always have to go to the rows of books and run my fingers over them.  The older they are, the more I love to look at them.  Often I've been tempted to purchase a few, but I never do.  One thing I don't want is a room filled with books I've never read.  If I don't think I'll read them, I won't purchase them.  I bring this up because I've been noticing more and more people with their Kindles or whatever other electronic reading device they prefer.  Someone recently asked me if I would want one.  I didn't even have to think about it.  No way! I enjoy the experience of reading books too much.  Holding a book and looking at the artwork on the cover is part of the reading experience for me.  I enjoy browsing the bookstore too.  It wouldn't be the same for me if I was using a Kindle. 

I realize there are benefits to electronic reading devices.  For instance, they don't take up as much room as a pile of books.  Additionally, there would be no need to go to a bookstore to make a purchase, which would save time and gas.  But I just can't do it.  I can't swap all my books for one device.  And I think if I did have one, it would be too easy for me to download every story I want to read, and then I would never be caught up.

So, as they say: to each their own.  Some people love their devices.  Some people love their books.  Some people may love both.  Feel free to leave a comment to let me know which group you're in.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Passing of Time

It's October!'d that happen? Not that I mind.  Autumn is my favorite time of the year, and I have been anticipating the season due to the insanely high heat we had this past Summer.  I am ready for bonfires, apple cider, changing leaves, pumpkins, etc. 

Last month was crazy busy, but it was a good busy.  My husband and I just celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary.  Yay! We went to Chicago for a few days and have now returned to reality.  That means I can refocus on my writing. 

I'm ready for another round of editing and am chomping at the bit to get my story done.  I'm so close...but I'm just not there yet.  One of these days I will be, though!

So, it's a short post today, but that's okay.  I'll have much more to say soon!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Give to Charity to get from Charity

I've always enjoyed having a unique name.  I have personally only met two other Charitys in my almost thirty years.  One of them went to my school but was several years younger; I had already graduated by the time she was in junior high.  The other one is a woman who sent me a friend request on Facebook for the simple fact that there are only three Charity Pences on the site.  I know there are a whole lot more than three people in the world named Charity so perhaps my name isn't as unique as I like to think.  But that's not really the point of this post.  The point is the jokes.

While I was growing up, I was constantly bombarded by people asking me for money.  People would put their hands out and say, "Give to Charity.  Give me money."  I guess they didn't understand that they had to give money to Charity in order for Charity to disperse money to them.  The joke got old very fast.  I'm amazed by how people think they are being original when they make such comments to me.  Like I haven't heard that joke hundreds of times already! Even some adults can't keep their mouths shut.

But today I heard a new one.  When I answer the phone at work, I have to tell the caller my name.  This is how a call went this morning:

"...This is Charity."
Quick pause.  "Is this Charity Case?"
Huh? An awkward moment passes while I figure it out.  Oh, he's asking if I'm a charity case.  "Oh," I said without laughing since I wasn't amused.
He thought he was funny.

I don't really say all this to complain.  I have had several people take a different approach by asking me where Faith and Hope are.  And I always kindly respond that I have two great-aunts, one named Faith and one named Hope, which is how I got my name. 

I guess the point of this post is to let you know you can say the joke if you want, but don't expect me to laugh.  I've heard it before.  Oh, and by the way, I'll be more than willing to hand money to you on one condition-- you give me money first. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I Hate Not Writing

September is not going to be a productive month for my writing.  I hate that fact.  Always on my mind is the story I'm working on and what changes I have/want to make, but my September is full of.....just life.  The month began with my family's annual three day reunion during Labor Day weekend.  Tomorrow I am going to St. Louis for three days (Joyce Meyer Women's Conference ~ going with my stepmom for the fifth year in a row).  Then at the end of the month I will be going to Chicago to celebrate with my husband ~ 10th year wedding anniversary! And of course in between those events I have household chores that never end, and I've been helping my husband with the mowing business.  And yes we've kept busy with that despite the dry weather.  Even though I had/will have tons of fun at these special events, I am so ready for some much needed time in front of my computer.  I can appreciate the fact that as writers we sometimes need to step back from our work so we can see it with fresh eyes, but I am not a fan of the pattern I am currently in.  Work on it one day, take a few days off.  Work on it another day, take a few days off.  You get the idea.  The way I see it, I should be either taking a break or not.  This on again, off again routine sucks.

Oh well.  At least I'm still having fun! And it is September ~ hello Autumn! (My favorite season)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Attack on America

I realize I am a couple days early, but the upcoming anniversary of 9/11 has been on my heart all week.  It's hard to believe a decade has passed since that awful day.  The events are still clear in my mind.  My husband and I (we weren't actually married yet but would be in a couple weeks) were woken up my husband's mother right after the first plane hit.  We went to the living room and watched the second plane hit.  For the rest of the morning we were glued to the TV.  Watching the two towers burn was bad, but watching them collapse was worse.  I still can't imagine the fear that people in the towers must have felt.  More tragic news came with the crash at the Pentagon and the passengers who showed tremendous courage by overtaking Flight 93 over Pennsylvania in order to prevent further death and destruction.

Over the next few days I recorded hours worth of news coverage.  I wrote a poem that filled an entire page of the local newspaper.  I cried and prayed for the people who died and for those who were left behind.  And like many others, I wondered what would happen next.  A war was beginning; that much was obvious.  Two lines in that poem of mine read: "You may have won this battle, but we will win this war."  Of course when I wrote it, I had no idea it would take a decade to catch the man responsible for that horrible attack on our country.

Every year I have recognized the anniversary of 9/11.  If I wasn't working, I stayed at home and listened to the names of the lost being read.  I participated in the moments of silence, overwhelmed by the consequences of that day regardless of how much time had passed.  When I was working, I did my best to partake in the events of that day, though I was irritated by the people who dared to go on with their business as if it was any other day.  Perhaps I shouldn't have been angry, though.  Time didn't stop that Tuesday.  Life must go on.

In the time that followed several country music artists used music to share their thoughts.  The CMA's opened with "Only in America" performed by Brooks & Dunn.  The song was popular before 9/11, but it was appropriate for the time.  I still have the VHS tape I used to record that show.  I don't need to watch it, though, to remember how Alan Jackson took the stage to sing a song he had written during the night; it was a song nobody had heard yet.  The words of "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" made me cry.  "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue" and "Have You Forgotten" were later released by Toby Keith and Darryl Worley respectively.

There was a surge of patriotism that began that September day.  American flags were flown everywhere; bumper stickers and car magnets were displayed.  I wondered why it took such a tragic event for people to be proud of their American heritage.  And I also wondered how many people were sincere and how many were just joining the crowd.

I have not forgotten.  In fact, I see myself several decades down the road still recognizing the anniversary of September 11, 2001.  But I won't be stopped by the pain of it all.  To borrow a few lines from another poem I wrote on the two year anniversary:

"For all those lost and alone
In remembrance we survive."

Friday, September 2, 2011

Arose Blessings

Today's post is about a ministry that was started by a friend of mine.  God has called her to share His love in a very unique way.  My friend puts together wooden rose arrangements and sells them.  With each sale she donates an arrangement to a hospital patient or nursing home resident.  Isn't that awesome? When my friend first told me of her idea, I thought it was very creative.  If you've ever been to a nursing home, you know how dreary they can be.  And though some residents have family who come to see them often, many do not.  Hospitals aren't much better.  Being confined to a hospital bed is depressing.  The residents/patients who are on the receiving end of this ministry get a beautiful reminder that they are never alone and are always loved.  And the cool thing is the flowers won't die which makes them a permanent reminder.  You can find more information at Arose Blessings.  And for anyone nearby, she is having a yard sale tomorrow morning and will be selling arrangements at her house.  Check out the link I gave!

I think sometimes we're too intimidated to reach out and help someone.  We think it will takes tons of effort on our part, or money, or whatever.  Or we think there are too many people, and we just can't help them all.  But the truth is it doesn't take much.  Everyone can help someone ~ by sending a card, taking a meal, offering a listening ear, or simply asking what can be done.

Helen Keller said it best: "I am only one, but still I am one.  I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."  How wise of her!   

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Honest Questions Regarding Religion

When I was a child, I believed in Santa Claus.  On Christmas Eve, I would search the sky in hopeful anticipation, fully expecting to see Santa and his reindeer.  Over time, I learned that Santa was not real after all.  However, I knew of many kids who still believed.  I did not ridicule them because I didn't care.  Their belief in Santa wasn't, and still isn't, a threat to me.

I tell you this because I often wonder why people who do not believe in God get so worked up about the subject of religion.  Why get so defensive if you don't believe? I believe in God.  I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins.  I have accepted him as my savior and I have a close, personal relationship with him.  When I share that knowledge, I do it with respect, and I understand many people do not share my beliefs.  I don't force anything upon other people.  So I honestly and sincerely ask, if you don't believe, why are you so disrespectful to those of us who do believe?

I don't believe in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, or Zeus for that matter.  But I don't accuse believers of non-Christian faiths as being babies who believe in fairy tales.  I don't lash out at them or ridicule them.  I may pray for them, but only out of brotherly love.  Not hate.

So why fight so hard agaisnt something you do not believe to be real? If you think the Bible is a book of fiction, why do you care if I read it? And why do you care what it says? Better yet, why do some atheists use parts of the Bible to justify their disbelief? That doesn't make any sense at all!

Friday, August 26, 2011


Earlier this year, a fellow writer friend of mine advised I begin networking.  A few of the things networking is good for is getting familiar with the writing business, learning what agents/publishers are looking for, and establishing a fan base.  I considered what my friend said and agreed it would be a smart thing to do.  So I began browsing online writing forums, checking out agent websites, etc.  After a couple months, I joined AbsoluteWrite, which is just awesome.  And, as you have noticed, I am now blogging. 

My goal, though, is to do more than the things I listed above.  I want to get to know other writers.  I want to share in their writing journey and have them share in mine.  Being a writer can be incredibly exciting and sometimes just horribly frustrating, and I don't think people really understand that unless they, too, are writers. 

So if you're a writer, get involved with other writers! Push them, encourage them, learn from them, and allow them to do the same for you.  You won't be sorry.

Friday, August 19, 2011

United States ~ United By What?

You know the phrase, "You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything?" I am a true believer in this.  I feel like the United States of America used to stand for something.  However, I often find myself asking what that something is now.  Perhaps equality is the answer.  But in our determination to offer equality to everybody, we've become so diversified that we no longer have unity.  We've got different cultures, different religions, even different languages.  So what unites us? There might have been a time when we could at least claim it was our citizenship that united us, but we can't say that anymore! There are too many people living here who are not citizens.  Why is that, by the way? Illegal immigrants seek our country for better opportunities~ better jobs, better money, better education, etc.  But they don't seek citizenship.  Why not? I wonder where their true loyalties lie.  But I digress.

So I ask again.  What unites us? Freedom? Maybe.  Ask yourself this, though.  Do you want freedom for everyone or just for a few? If you really ask yourself, you may find an unpleasant answer. 

I believe the problem is we've strayed too far from what the United States was intended to be.  We use (and abuse) the Constitution without taking into account what was intended when it was written.  That's my thought anyway.  What does everyone else think?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Surrounded By Blessings

Last year, on August 13th, which happened to be Friday the 13th, my husband and I went to the hospital for a scheduled visit.  My husband had been having chest pains for about a month, and a CT scan had showed a few lumps in his lungs.  On this particular day, my husband was scheduled for a lung biopsy which was to reveal one of two possibilities: Lymphoma or Sarcoidosis.  Up to that point, he'd had x-rays, CT scans, and a PET scan.  I evaluated every document given to us from each of the tests and did tons of research.  To say I was worried would be a gross understatement.  In fact, I was convinced he had cancer. 

The biopsy was supposed to take about two hours, but ended up taking almost four.  And though I had planned on sitting in the waiting room by myself, a close friend of ours came and sat with me.  It was a long wait, but my understanding was we would have the results as soon as the procedure was over.  That was not the case, so my fears were neither confirmed or relieved.  Our friend spent the night in the ICU room with my husband and I, which meant more than words could say.  She left the following day, but she kept in contact with us.  We also had many friends and family members stop by the hospital to see us.  By Monday, we still had no results and we weren't sure when my husband would be released from the hospital.  Late that afternoon, a large group of our friends stopped by and asked if they could pray with us.  Of course they could! We gathered around my husband's bed and each friend took a turn saying a prayer.  Not long after they left, a nurse came in to tell us my husband was being released.  Yes! We could go home! We were upset that we didn't have answers yet, but being able to go home lifted our spirits.  And then, just as we were leaving, a nurse brought us a message from my husband's family physician.  The results were in: he didn't have cancer! I don't know why the family physician had the results before the surgeon, or why he contacted us first.  But it didn't matter.  We believed, as we still do, it was our prayer warriors (those who stopped by and prayed along with the many others praying all weekend) and their prayers that enabled us to be released from the hospital with such good news. 

I write all this because this past weekend marked the one year anniversary of the biopsy.  And I can't help but think about how different this past year would have been if my husband had been diagnosed differently.  Instead of having cancer, my husband had (and still has) Sarcoidosis which is much easier to deal with than cancer.  To this day, we have friends and family ask all the time about how my husband is doing.  You see, we are surrounded by blessings.  And no matter what negative circumstances we are faced with, I am reminded that the blessings we have are the people we have.  Nothing else really matters.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Welcome Home

Last week my husband was at a state park and found a stray puppy.  Nobody would claim the poor thing, and the park didn't want to pay the $75 fee to take the dog to the humane shelter.  The only option left was to call the sheriff and have the dog shot.  So what did my husband do? He called me and told me about it, knowing I would feel the need to save the cute little guy.  Of course I told my husband to bring the dog home.  When I first saw this puppy, I quickly came up with a suitable name for him.  Try saying chip-chip-chip really fast in a high pitched voice and you'll get an idea of the sound he was making.  I suggested we name the puppy Chip, and my husband approved.  Tucker was excited to see Chip; they've become playmates.

Having a puppy in the house has required a few changes.  Tucker is nine, doesn't eat much, and typically goes outside only three or four times a day.  My husband and I are used to this.  What we aren't used to is putting a puppy outside every couple hours, watching said puppy devour food like crazy, and following the puppy around the house to make sure he doesn't potty on the floors.  So far, he's only had a few accidents.  One was last night when he decided to stand a few feet behind me and let loose on the living room carpet. 

For the most part, Chip has been pretty good.  He hasn't chewed up anything, but my husband did find him standing on our coffee table a couple days ago.  And this morning, after I set my bowl of cereal down on the table, he decided to lift his front paws to the table and help himself to my milk.  I quickly let him know that kind of behavior is not allowed in our house.

I almost hate to yell at him because he's a bit skittish.  Whoever had him before must have abused him.  He's not very old, though.  My husband and I guess he's about six or seven months old.  And he's a mutt with a lot of German Shepard mixed in.  He's so dang cute, too.  I'm not sure why I even bothered telling my husband we could only keep the dog until we found a home for him.

Welcome home, Chip!  

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Back to the Beginning

I had to take another break from editing my story; circumstances prevented me from working on the task.  And that's probably a good thing.  Editing is all about finding a balance, and I think I lost mine.  At some point I fell off the balance beam and didn't have enough enthusiasm to get back on.  I began dragging my feet because I didn't like the changes I was making, even though I believed they were necessary.  Most of the changes I am sticking with because I still believe in them.  However, I made one very big change that I've never been content with.  The removal of Part I.  I mentioned in a previous post that I thought maybe it wasn't as necessary as I originally believed.  Now I am reconsidering.  There is a lot of character development in Part I.  Actually, there's a lot of everything in Part I.

I'm probably over-thinking it.  And doubt does creep in occasionally.  This story is unlike anything I've ever written, and I want it to be right.  This is why I'm going back to the beginning.  In other words, I'm asking myself the following questions: what was the point of writing the story? what was the motivation? what is it supposed to be about? And I think I've got the answers.  My enthusiasm has returned!         

Friday, August 5, 2011

Raising Chickens~Part II

**Continued from yesterday's post**

Thanks for coming back! Now, where was I? Oh yes...

Late in the year, we decided it was time to build a new home for the remaining hens.  They barely fit inside the box they were sleeping in and would need more adequate shelter for the winter months.  My husband and his brother got to work building a new coop.  My other brother-in-law also helped, and between me and the three of them, we got the coop moved from the garage to our back yard.  Then we moved the hens out of Motel 6 and into the Hilton.  During the winter, we had no problems with the chickens.  I didn't particularly enjoy being outside at 6:30 in the morning when it was ten degrees out, or checking on them at night, but the hens had to be fed and watered.  The hens stayed nice and cozy...until Spring came.

One of the hens became sick.  She could get herself out of the coop but then had to prop herself up against any convenient item she was able to find.  She couldn't even bend down.  Her sides began to swell at an alarming rate, and after a few days, we decided to end her suffering since she couldn't eat, drink, or hold herself up.  Not quite two weeks later, I had let the chickens out of the coop so they could run around the yard, get their fill of grass and bugs, and take some dirt baths.  When I went to put them away, I noticed my one remaining white chicken sitting by my house.  Now, when it starts to get late and they're ready for bed, I can usually pick them up without them fussing.  I was able to do this with the white hen and assumed she was ready to sleep.  However, as I carried her, I noticed another hen a few feet in front of the coop.  She was dead.  My first thought was the chicken that had been sick passed on a disease to my other hens.  I set the white hen down and began looking for the other hens.  Within minutes, my poor white hen was on her side, flapping her wings sporadically.  She gave out a couple cries and was then quiet, and still.  A quick inspection confirmed that she, too, was dead.  The next morning, another had died, and I had no idea what to do.  My husband called a friend of ours who raises chickens and the cause of death was discovered: GNATS! They were really thick around our house and the chicken coop.  Our friend informed us that chickens can go into shock and die if they are bit too many times by gnats and that gnats can clog the orifices on the chickens.  Who knew? I didn't! Learning this helped me to understand why my hens were suddenly hiding under my shed when I let them out- they were trying to get away from the tiny buggers! A fourth chicken soon went missing, and I still believe she crawled off and died somewhere.  Our chicken count was now dwindled down to five.

A very large raccoon more recently devoured one of the hens before I got them put away one evening which left us with four hens.  About a week ago, another hen went missing and I assumed she was also eaten.  Imagine my surprise when my husband called the day before yesterday to let me know he found the dead hen by the opening to our crawlspace.  How she got there, I don't know.  She could have jumped in, but none of the chickens have ever done so.  And the hole was barely a foot deep so she should have been able to jump out or fly out.  Perhaps the heat was too much for her, though. 

Alas, we are now down to three hens.  Egg production and sales have skidded to a halt, which isn't a big deal.  I feel bad, though.  I didn't cause the death of this hen, but I feel responsible.  I remember my husband and I standing not twenty feet away, discussing her disappearance that evening.  She was probably still alive in that hole, but I never thought to look for her there.

My husband is ready to buy more chickens, but I'm not because most of the responsibility is mine.  It's been an adventure, that's for sure.  I've been scratched multiple times; I even have a few scars.  And one chicken almost pecked my eye out.  In its defense, I don't think it was trying to.  I had a hair hanging in front of my face and I think the chicken wanted it.  Good thing I closed my eye soon enough.  The chicken got a piece of skin off my eyelid instead of the hair or my eye.

That's it for now.  We're down to three chickens and there will be more stories to share later on.  And next year, I'm sure we'll buy more.  But not twenty-five.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Raising Chickens~Part I

I never dreamed I would become a chicken farmer, but last year I became one quite unexpectedly.  My mother-in-law purchased twenty-five chicks for my niece.  Unfortunately, my mother-in-law's plan for the small fuzz balls fell through when she found out she would not be able to keep them where she had intended.  So she made a phone call ~ to my husband.  Shortly after, we became chicken farmers.
Raising chickens has been a learning experience.  When we first got them, we could see one of them was sick.  I found it the next morning, dead.  Another one looked similar, and it, too, died later that evening.  This brought the number to twenty-three.  Being inexperienced, we couldn't tell how many males and how many females we had.  But we had red ones, black ones, speckled ones, and some white ones.  The whites were my favorite, and I quickly named one Sunburst due to the yellow spot on the top of its head.  They grew quickly, and as they did, I gradually introduced them to my dog Tucker.  Even though Tucker is not an aggressive dog, I had no way of knowing whether or not he would see the chickens as a special "treat."  I wasn't taking any chances.  And it was cute watching one of the white ones walk on his back; they got along just fine. 

Of course it didn't take long for the twenty-three chicks to outgrow their cage.  My niece's father built a chicken coop for us to put in our back yard.  The box part was just big enough for the chickens to have room to sleep, and the run (i.e. cage part) gave them room to, well, run.  By this time, we knew about half of the chickens were roosters and half were hens.  One speckled rooster seemed to be deformed (I learned later the "deformity" was just a characteristic of the breed) and he was the most aggressive.  He would puff his feathers out and run at me as if he was set to attack, but then he always backed off when I stomped my foot at him.  He was, after all, a chicken.

Egg production began to soar.  On average, we had about nine dozen eggs in our fridge every day.  We sold them to friends and to people at church.  The sales paid for the chicken feed and put a few extra dollars in our pocket, which was always nice. 

We soon lost two more chickens when our neighbor's dog got loose and took advantage of the free meal our yard roaming chickens provided.  One of the ill fated hens was a white one.  I was very upset about that, even though by this time I could no longer tell which white chicken was Sunburst.  Another month or so went by before my husband and I decided we needed to do something.  The roosters were...abusing the hens.  Many of them had their feathers ripped from their backs.  Some even had raw/bloody spots.  Though we had originally intended on eating the roosters, they were too old by this point.  Once a chicken becomes more than a few months old, the meat is very tough.  So we got ride of the meanest roosters.  Eventually my husband gave the remaining roosters to a guy he worked with which put our chicken count at ten.  Ten was much more manageable.  And my husband didn't miss being woken up at 5:30 in the morning by the roosters crowing.

**In an effort to keep this from becoming too long, I will post more tomorrow.**  

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Editing Out Characters

So far during the editing process of my current story I have found it necessary to cut out a few characters.  Michelle, Rachel, and Willy were the first to go.  Although they each had a few short lines of dialogue, they really weren't important to the story.  Next came Becca.  She was created to be one of my MC's roommates in college.  She was rude, crude, crazy annoying, and everything my MC isn't.  Her main purpose was to introduce Emily (my MC) to Jason.  Deciding Becca wasn't necessary either, I removed her and had Emily meet Jason on her own.  Removing these characters hasn't bothered me, but now I'm considering removing Jason.  Emily dates him for seven months in an effort to get over her feelings for her best friend Nicky so Jason has a significant part in the story.  I think I can get to the same ending without him, though.  The problem is I like him and the part he plays so if I take him out, it's going to hurt.  But part of editing is deciding what's best for the story, or perhaps I should say who is best for the story.  Characters shouldn't be kept in just for the sake of having multiple characters. 

Poor Jason.  His future is undecided.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Where are your priorities?

Hearing all the talk about the debt ceiling and the plan our politicians are trying to put together has me thinking about how backwards our country sometimes seems to be.  For instance, there has been talk about Social Security not getting paid because an agreement about our nation’s debt hasn’t been reached.  It is the job of our politicians to handle this, but they still get paid.  Why? In my opinion, they are failing to do their jobs.  I’m not sure it’s realistic to think Congress shouldn’t get paid, but I’m sure they’d be more agreeable if they were going to be out of their own money.

Here’s another thing that bothers me.  The NFL lockout, which has finally ended.  It’s just as stupid in my opinion.  Most pro-athletes get paid millions of dollars, but they want to complain about not getting paid enough.  The owners make tons of money, too.  Give me a break! I’d like to tell them all to come down to the real world.  And earlier this year when the NFL was considering adding a few games to the season, the players balked not only because they believed they should get paid more but also because of the increased chance for injury.  Really? We have police officers, firemen, military personnel and other professionals who will never make in their lifetimes what some athletes will make in one game! And those people risk their lives on a daily basis.  Aren’t our priorities mixed up? Consider what actors/actresses are paid.  They’re entertainers! They are paid more than teachers, yet aren’t teachers more important? They should be.   

All this isn’t to say all politicians or all athletes or all entertainers are bad.  In fact, there are many who donate a lot of money to important causes, and they’re able to do so because of the amount of money they make.  And it’s awesome that they are willing to do this.  I probably contribute to the problem.  After all, I enjoy sports and TV shows and movies just as much as the next person.  But I can’t help it.  Sometimes I shake my head and wonder what’s really important to us Americans.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

More Poetry

Just a quick heads up:

I added four poems to my poetry page.  Check them out!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Get Involved

One of my cousins was recently elected to the county board, and I think it's great he's getting involved.  I hate listening to people complain about the government, whether it's at the local, state, or federal level.  Complaining doesnt' fix anything.  It doesn't solve any problems.  If you want it fixed, get involved and offer a solution! I'm not saying we shouldn't ever be upset by decisions made by government officials.  It is our right and responsibility to question our leaders.  But if you're not willing to participate, I don't want to listen to you.

People don't understand how much of a difference they can make.  This fact frustrates me! I believe every vote counts.  I also believe participating in local elections is just as important as participating in federal elections.  If you only care about who the next president will be, how can you expect any real change? The president can only do so much despite what is promised.  The president has to deal with Congress.  People, pay attention to who is campaigning to be your US senators and representatives! These people and the president have to work together! The same thing goes for state elections.  The governor has to work with your state senators and representatives.  You can't care about one and not the other.  I know this is pretty basic, but sometimes I'm amazed at people's ignorance.

So again, please get involved.  And when I say get involved, I don't mean you have to run in the next election.  But let your voice be heard.  Your officials represent YOU.     

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Time for school! Wait- What?

Just after the fourth of July weekend, I went to the store to get something for my yard.  I was a bit put off when I walked into the seasonal section to find school supplies had replaced all the garden/yard materials.  Really? I thought school didn’t start until the end of August.  Do school supplies need to be purchased so far in advance? I think not.  Oh, by the way, the item I was looking for was nowhere else in the store.  They no longer had the item!

This is almost as bad as walking into a store in September and finding myself overwhelmed with Christmas decorations.  I never have appreciated that.  In September, I want to see Autumn decorations.  I want to appreciate Fall for Fall.  Let me enjoy the cooler temps and the leaves changing color.  Don’t bombard me with a holiday that’s three months away! Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against Christmas.  In fact, it’s my favorite holiday.  But I want to celebrate Christmas in December.  I also prefer to celebrate Thanksgiving in November and Halloween in October.  Is that too much to ask?

Here’s something else that irritates me.  There’s a  craft store I occasionally go to which also has a seasonal section, and I enjoy browsing their shelves.  However, if I want to purchase something for the next holiday, depending on when I go, I may have to turn to the clearance aisle to find what I’m looking for even though the holiday hasn’t arrived yet.  Come on! That’s ridiculous! Let me give you an example.  Earlier this year, I was browsing items for St. Patrick’s day.  I went back to the store a couple weeks before March 17th so I could make a purchase.  However, the St. Patrick’s day items were already in the clearance section.  Why? Because the store needed space to put the Easter items! I understand stores need to make money, and I get that they want to make as much as they can.  And I understand why some customers would enjoy this.  After all, who wouldn’t enjoy spending less money on an item they need and/or want for a holiday that’s a couple weeks away? Does anybody else get annoyed by this, though?

I wonder what causes this craziness to continue.  Is it the stores and their focus on making as much money as possible? Perhaps it’s the consumers who want to save as much money as possible while getting the best deal.  Or is it the fast paced society we live in? We look ahead and prepare for the next thing without ever enjoying what’s in front of us.  Maybe it’s a combination.  I don’t have the answer.  Does anyone? Let me know what you think!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Unexpected Guest

What is it with me and wild animals?

It was just after 5AM this morning when I slid open the glass door so I could go into the sunroom and put Tucker outside.  Right away I noticed something  Various objects were scattered across the floor.  Taking a look around, I noticed a long tear in one of the window screens.  My first thought: Bat! I turned the light on and slid the door closed behind me so the offending animal wouldn't have access into my house.  Tucker would have to wait.  Perhaps my first reaction was slightly ridiculous.  The chance of a bat being persistent enough to claw its way through the window screen would be next to zero.  I think.  However, I've never completely shaken my fear of bats.

I can't remember if I was in eighth or ninth grade when I encountered my first bat.  My bedroom window was left open to let the cool air fill my room while I slept.  Sometime during the night, or very early in the morning, I woke up to find my cat pouncing something on my bed.  As soon as the light was on, a bat began flying around my room.  I have had a strong aversion to bats ever since.  It took two days to get the thing out of our house.

Next story.  Different animal.  While staying at my mom's one summer, my brother fell asleep on the couch (i.e. my bed) and I had to sleep on the living room floor.  I woke up to find a baby opossum staring at me, its gaping mouth inches from my face.  Later that morning, we discovered a hole by the washer and dryer which allowed the varmint entry and access to my nose.  Everyone except me was amused by the scratch the opossum left on me.

More recent story.  Yet another animal.  Last year, I was sleeping peacefully in my bed when I was woken up.  Feeling something on my face, I swiped at it and felt something wet and of a significant size.  I turned the ceiling light on and discovered a tree frog resting on the floor where I had thrown it.  I managed to catch it and release it outside.

Back to the sunroom.  A cautious investigation assured me the animal was gone.  I straightened up and let my dog out.  Taking a closer look at the screen, I could see numerous puncture marks plus a second slit about four inches long.  The slit that allowed entry was about a foot long and a couple inches wide.  Definitely a determined critter.  But I don't know what it was.  Other than the mess, there was nothing to determine what kind of animal would have been so bold.  That being said, it was probably the same animal that got into my chicken coop last week and devoured two of my chickens. 

So the moral of the story? Don't go to sleep apparently.  

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Short post today...

I think my blog is finally looking the way I'd like it to after making some changes today.  If you look to the right, you'll see I added some pages.  I've posted a few more poems on the poetry page.  In the future, I'll let you know whenever new content has been added.  And I will always be open to critique.

Hope everyone has enjoyed the weekend!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

No More Cursive?

Beginning this Fall, Indiana schools will no longer be required to teach cursive.  And for those of you who are unaware as I apparently am, Indiana is not the first state to take this step.  The reasoning behind this move is so teachers can focus on teaching students keyboard proficiency.  Although I certainly agree students need to be able to use a computer, I'm not sure I agree that cursive should no longer be taught. 

Thinking back to the times I've used cursive, I wonder what my college professors would have said if I had printed my essays rather than using cursive.  In one particular class, every test was an essay test in which at least five essays had to be written out.  Would I have been graded differently if I had printed? Maybe not as long as I discussed the topic appropriately.  What about other important tests such as the SAT which require essays? College applications? Maybe I'm too far behind the times.  Are prospective students now typing their essays and attaching them to their college aps? Hmm.  Perhaps someone can enlighten me on this.

I have to admit, I'm not sure I completely agree with this move.  The sad thing is I can't really say why! Should cursive be taught simply because it always has been? Things change, times change, etc.  But my first reaction to this was...extreme.  Why don't they stop teaching math? We have calculators.  Why don't they stop teaching spelling and grammar? Word processors have spelling and grammar tools.  I hope you can sense the sarcasm.  I do not believe math or spelling or grammar should stop being taught in schools.

Maybe I'm reacting a bit harshly.  What does everyone else think about this? Leave a comment to let me know.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Wonderful Weekend

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend.  I know I did! My husband and I watched a couple different fireworks displays, went to a Justin Moore concert, hung out with friends and family.  We even watched a parade.  Too bad the weekend had to come to an end! Alas, it always does.  At least we had a three day weekend, though.  Starting the work week on a Tuesday is much better than starting on Monday.  Don't you agree?

Now that July is here, and I've taken two weeks off from writing, I'm ready to dive back in.  I've been thinking of ways to cut my word count down and I'm anxious to see how the changes will affect the story.  The changes will be for the best, I think, though some of them I hate to make.  I can't wait to hear what others say about it once it's completed.  This story is by far the largest project I've ever attempted, though I didn't intend for that to be the case when I started! And what's next when this story is finished? I haven't decided yet.  I have two western/romance drafts that need work.  Also, I have a few other stories I've been roughly planning for quite some time.  More than likely I'll work on the drafts before I begin something new because I don't see the point of having two novels just sitting around.  They aren't publishable material yet, but they can be.  And I can't decide which new story I want to do next.  Decisions, decisions! They're all part of the writng process. 

So I'm curious, for all the other writers reading this, what are you working on right now?

Thursday, June 30, 2011


This goes along with my earlier post...

APATHY ~ written by Charity Pence

Wake me,
Wake me from this sleep
Wake me from this slumber
Which I call apathy
Help me to not just care
To care is not enough
Please, Lord, give me courage
To do what needs to be done
Too many hurt, scared, and crying
Lonely, barely surviving
And we just turn our heads aside
So we don't see them while they're dying
All around and on city streets
In America and other countries
All around the world
They're calling
Do you hear them?

What does freedom mean to you?

With Independence Day quickly approaching, I have found myself wondering what the Founding Fathers would say to us if they were alive today.  What would they think of America? How would they view today's interpretation of the Constitution? Would they clap their hands or shake their heads? I don't have the answers to those questions.  I have always enjoyed American History; it was my favorite subject in school.  Last year I read a book called America's Providential History by Mark Beliles & Stephen McDowell.  I really enjoyed it.  I also started reading Original Intent by David Barton.  What I have read so far in that book is just as interesting, but my own writing has occupied so much of my time that I haven't finished that book yet.  They're worth reading if you are interested.

All that being said, the purpose of today's post is not to get into a political debate.  We can save that for another time.  I would like to ask you, though, what does freedom mean to you? Maybe freedom to you is the right to speak freely or the right to bear arms.  Or maybe you think of your right to worship however you see fit or to not worship if that's the case.  And those are all important.  But what about freedom from poverty? From abuse? From being bullied? What about the right to a good education in a safe environment? I could go on and on.  Think about it.

As we prepare to celebrate with barbecues and fireworks displays, let's remember those who have fought and those who are still fighting for freedom today.  Please note, soldiers are not the only people fighting this fight.  There are people all over fighting for the rights of others.  Don't get me wrong, though.  I do believe soldiers deserve special recognition for their service.  Many of my family members and friends have served in the military and I certainly don't want to detract from any soldier's bravery or sacrifice.

So let's remember everyone who has fought or is fighting.  Thank them.  Say a prayer for them.  Appreciate them.  They deserve it. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lake Michigan

During this time of the year, I often find myself thinking about Lake Michigan.  Many of my fondest memories as a child involve this lake.  I never lived more than a few miles away during the first few years of grade school.  My sister and I (and sometimes my brother) used to ride our bikes down to the beach.  Or we would occasionally walk.  We walked along the rocks or ran over the sand.  Swimming was a must, though never done for long.  For those of you who don't know, Lake Michigan is extremely cold! One of my memories involves my mom and step-dad paying us to get in the water; the water was too cold that day to just jump on in.

Other memories include boating and fishing.  One of the biggest fish I ever caught was on Lake Michigan.  However, I didn't know I caught it until we were done for the day and I started reeling in the line.  Was I ever surprised by the fish; it was almost as big as I was! I remember another time when our parents put our life jackets on and tossed us into the water.  Many good times!

Those early years, Fourth of July was spent at the harbor, running along the docks and watching fireworks.  Food from the hot dog stand and ice cream parlor was a necessity.  When I was older, my parents lived at a marina and held a party every year, which I always enjoyed.  My parents moved away from the marina about seven years ago so I haven't spent July 4th there since. I miss watching the fireworks there, and I'll be wishing I was up north this weekend! 


Monday, June 27, 2011

My 55lb baby named Tucker

Okay, before you become too concerned, my baby is a dog, a nine year old mutt.  Very smart, well-behaved, only barks when a stranger knocks on the door.  Never whines.  Doesn't get in the garbage or chew things he shouldn't.  But I do have one complaint.  When it comes to storms, he's the biggest baby I've ever seen.  Now don't get me wrong, I love my Tuckie very much.  However, when his cold nose in my face at 2am jolts me awake, I get a little cranky.  And having him get on the bed and lay down just to jump up at every rumble of thunder doesn't help me get back to sleep.  Last night was no exception.  It stormed all night long and Tucker couldn't get comfortable; he was much too scared. 

When it's storming, he can't get close enough to me.  In fact, during a storm a couple weeks ago he about pushed me off the bed.  Anyway, once I finally got up this morning at 5am, which is the time I get up every day during the week, Tucker stayed right behind me.  I always wear slippers and Tucker typically walks so close that he steps on the back of my slipper and makes me trip.  He follows me to the coffee pot, back to my bedroom.  After I took my shower this morning and cracked the bathroom door, Tucker's head immediately popped in.  Poor thing had to be right beside me.

Even though I get annoyed with him when it's storming, I really can't complain.  He's just too good of a dog.  And he's not exactly a puppy any longer, but he sure has a lot of puppy left in him.  He's so fun to watch.  Tennis balls with squeakers are his favorite toy and an occasional treat keeps him satisfied.  He gets his exercise by chasing the neighbor's cat and our chickens, plus an occasional rabbit if one ventures into our yard.  He doesn't get to run far, though.  We live in the country but on a very busy road.  I've seen too many cats and dogs get hit to let my Tuckie run free.  Some day we'll get a fence, and then he'll have more yard to play in.

As for the storms, I think the rest of the week is supposed to be storm free.  Crossing my fingers for a good night of sleep!  

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Today I would like to talk about a book I am reading.  The title is Heaven and it was written by Randy Alcorn.  This is the first book I've ever read about Heaven, not counting the Bible of course.  And I have to say, I'm pretty excited.

I was saved and baptized when I was twelve, and I have gone to church fairly consistently since that time.  Secure in the knowledge of where I am going, I have never been afraid of dying.  Sure, I have things I'd like to accomplish before that time comes, but if I died today, I'd be okay.  I'd be in Heaven! That being said, I used to be one of those Christians who felt guilty about not being more excited about Heaven ~ spending eternity worshiping God? Uh, okay.  I used to chalk it up to being unable to comprehend Heaven and eternity.  I told myself, "Once you're there, you'll get it."  After all, God certainly deserves to be worshipped for eternity.  But I just wasn't as enthusiastic about it as I thougtht I should be.  This book has changed my thinking quite a bit.

By using scripture, the author discusses what Heaven and the New Earth will be like, the food we'll be able to eat, relationships we'll have with others.  I'm not quite half way through the book yet, but a scan of the contents lets me know he'll be discussing the things we'll be doing, too.  It's pretty interesting stuff.  Much better than doing nothing but standing before God, worshipping (cringing with guilt for saying such a thing!).  Lord, please forgive me for my lack of understanding! 

A lot of people describe Heaven as something unimaginable.  I was one of them, and I still don't think I can completely comprehend what God has in store for us.  I always wondered if family members who have died would know me when I get to Heaven.  Would they really be waiting for me? Would I know them and would I have any recollection of my life on Earth? I wasn't sure, but I'm beginning to believe. 

I do have to throw out a disclaimer.  It's one book, one author.  It'd be interesting to read what others have to say.  There's plenty of books out there, and I might have to pick up a few more at some time, as long as they use the Bible to back up their research as this author does.  If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.

So, all that being said, I may have to wait until I get to Heaven to fully grasp it.  And, if this book is nowhere close to what Heaven will be like, then so be it.  Regardless of what Heaven will be like, it'll be much better than the alternative.  Hell ain't got no hold on me!     

Monday, June 20, 2011

Trim and Tighten

Yesterday I finished going through my novel with what I thought was a fine toothed comb.  Ha ha, yeah right! Took me a while, but it turns out I only cut approximately 30K words, and it's still too long.  As I was going through, I had a feeling I would have to cut off what started as Part I.  Now I am positive it has to be done.  It breaks my heart to do so.  Seriously.  I love Part I.  In the grand scheme of things, though, that part of the story really isn't necessary.  Removing it will take off about 40K words.  If I remove another 30K words in addition to that, I'll be a lot closer to having a publishable manuscript. 

In case you're wondering how I managed to let a story get so out of control, let me elaborate.  I wrote a fairly long book, got to the end and felt the story wasn't over, and wrote a sequel.  But I didn't like the sequel as a sequel.  I thought it needed to be part of the whole story.  Putting the two together gave me a manuscript that was more than 200K words long! Slim to no chance of getting that published since I've not had anything else published yet! So began the trim and tigheten process.  And after cutting out 30K words, I can certainly see the difference.  The story is much better. 

Since last night, I've been thinking about what else can be cut.  There are a few things I can think of right off the bat now that Part I will be gone.  And I'm playing with a few other ideas, too.  Before I do anything else, though, I have to let the story sit.  I should leave it for a month, but I'm already chomping at the bit.  It's hard for me to take a break.  I need to be able to look at it with fresh eyes, though.  I'll wait at least a week, perhaps two.  We'll see.

Until then, I have at least ten fiction books on my bookshelves waiting to be read.  There's another eight non-fiction waiting for my attention, also.  Guess I'll get some reading done now! 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Writing Fight Scenes

In my current novel, I have a main character (MC) who has been through something pretty traumatic and it interferes with her relationship with her fiance.  I've been working on a few fight scenes, and I have to admit, getting these scenes right is difficult.  It doesn't help that I have an MC who doesn't realize how often she's mad or that she picks fights with her fiance for no apparent reason.  To make the writing more interesting, the story is told in first person from her perspective.  I can't wait until I can pass the novel on to some betas (readers) so I can get feedback! But overall, I think it's turning out the way I want it to.  I'm been editing for a while and everything is falling into place finally. 

Writing~ it's such an exciting process! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Policeman

written by: (me!) Charity Pence

He chose his job to maintain the law
but the things he saw haunted his mind
not knowing what he'd find he answered the calls
not knowing who would fall, not knowing who would die

Sometimes it was easy like a domestic dispute
where all he had to do was settle a couple's fight
and there were more simple plights he could handle quickly
those times lasted briefly, he'd leave without a second thought

Other times he would go in dread
sure of death, scared of who it'd be
filled with grief 'cause it was always kids
and death always bids for young with lives to live

He would arrive to these scenes uneasily
they happened frequently and they made him sick
accidents so horrific he left weeping
and often praying it would never be his kid

The vehicles were twisted beyond repair
and in the open air he could smell the blood
the poured like a flood from ghastly injuries
forced on the bodies of the dead

Each tragedy supplied a home he had to go to
it was hard to do but at the door he would stand
with his hat in his hand as he told the parents
about the accident that took their child's life

He chose this job to maintain the law
but the things he's seen haunt his mind
never knowing what he'll find he answers the calls
never knowing who will fall, never knowing who will die

This Perfect Place

written by: (me!) Charity Pence

she misses this place, this perfect place
when she's at her city home
after a long day she walks out onto her patio
she sees nothing in the sky
the city is too bright
so she closes her eyes
and imagines herself at this place, this perfect place...

it is late, it is dark
with bare feet she walks over the soft green grass
she sits down by the pond,
the clear cool pond
and dips her feet in the water
oh this place, this perfect place
so quiet, so peaceful
she looks up at the sky
and the stars twinkle at her
oh so bright
how she loves the sky and the way the pond reflects its light
then she is distracted...

cars honking, people yelling
another night in the city

Preparing to share...

Last night I was going through my poetry and a few short stories so I could decide what I would like to share with you all.  Sometimes I forget how much poetry I've written.  I kind of miss it, too.  Writing poetry, that is.  Most of the poems I have were written in junior high and high school.  And I don't mind telling you they're pretty simple.  No need to decipher each poem's meaning! In school, I always hated studying poetry mainly because I hated trying to piece it together.  Just tell me what you want to say! That doesn't mean I haven't experimented with my poetry before, though.  But most of mine is pretty straight forward. 

So why don't I write more poetry? I have to be inspired.  That's what it comes down to.  It's really hard for me to sit down and say, "Okay, I'm gonna write a poem now" and do it.  I have to be inspired to write about something specific.  And after reviewing everything I've written in the past, most of my inspiration comes from how I'm feeling at a particular moment.  It could be feelings in general or feelings about a certain event.  In fact, when I sit down and read a poem of mine, I can remember exactly what I was going through at the time I wrote it.  And to be honest, writing poetry was always therapeutic, especially in high school.  Writing poetry was how I coped.

Anyway, I won't bore you with every single poem I've ever written.  Some of them I'd rather keep hidden! But I will share poems from high school and poems I've written since then.  I'm getting ready to post two that I wrote about six or seven years ago.  Enjoy!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Introduction

Yay, I've finally gotten my blog started! I've been planning to do this for a few months, and now I've finally made the time.  My goal is to post at least once a week, if not more often.  Topics will vary so be prepared.  Since I'm a writer, I will write about...writing.  Imagine that! However, I am just as likely to write about family, friends, religion, my dog Tucker.  I might even talk about my chickens.  They keep my life interesting if nothing else.  Anything I feel like discussing, I'll share with you. 

The title of my blog came from a poem I wrote a few weeks ago.  I thought it would be an appropriate title since I'll be talking a lot about my life in general.  As time progresses, I'll share poetry and maybe a short story or two, just for the fun of it.

I am in the process of completing my third novel.  It isn't quite polished, but it's finally getting there.  The first two still need a lot of work so I'll be working on those next.  My goal is to go from writer to published author.  One day, I will get there.  And I'll share that journey with you, too!

And so ends my first post.  I think this has been a decent introduction.  I look forward to getting to know you all and hope to hear from you soon!