Woe! It’s Wednesday … Gut Check-up

This is a repost of a blog I wrote last week for the Yosemite Romance Writers Blog. How do you measure up? I’d love it if you’d comment!

School’s been back in session over a month for most teachers and students by now. Yesterday, during a family party, my third grade grand-daughter asked her aunt to quiz her on math facts. I think she likes school! I was pleasantly surprised how quickly she answered most of the questions, even the ones I thought were too hard for her.

A couple of weeks ago I had to give Stud Muffin a remedial course in the hallway linen closet.

Me (while doing my Vanna White impersonation): See the labels on these shelves? Guest. And Cleaning. All the towels and rags on the cleaning shelf are free for you to use to wash the car, bathe the dog, or anything else you want. All the towels on the guest shelf are not to be used for cleaning. They are for use in the guest bathroom. Only.

Stud Muffin: How long have those labels been there?

Sigh.

Anyway, that experience combined with Evelyn’s request for a quick check up made me think about other things in life that need occasional review and maybe remediation.

Like my writing goals. So, I’ve done a quick gut check and given myself the following grades.

Business building: B. I have several steady editing clients and a great work-for-hire company that uses me. I’d like to have a few more income generating jobs, but overall, I’m happy.

Actual writing: C. Some days I get lots done, other days I don’t even sit at the computer. I try to average 1000 words a day on my WIP, though it’s actually closer to 400. But when I factor in other writing (such as blog posts!), I’m close to my goal. There’s lots of room for improvement though.

Submissions: D. I checked the spreadsheet that I use to track submissions. I’ve entered two contests this year (nothing except feedback for one, the other is still being judged) and one submission to Woman’s World magazine. Nothing to publishers, editors, or agents. So time to get off my cushy office chair and put something out there. I have 50 pages almost polished enough to send to the agent I’ve been courting.

Networking: B. I joined RWA and YRW. I belong to Sisters in Crime. I’ll be going to a long weekend workshop in November. I maintain a nominal Twitter presence and an active Facebook page. To improve, I plan to spend more time using Goodreads to a fuller potential.

Platform Building: B. I surf some industry blogs and try to chime in with non-annoying comments when appropriate.I blog myself at least twice a week, often more.

I’m sure there are other areas I should be evaluating, too.

What are some of your grades? And what areas do you evaluate?

Book Talk Tuesday: A Home for My Heart

Anne Mateer’s newest is a tender tale of forgiveness, letting go, and trusting.

It’s 1910 and Sadie Sillsby is the assistant to the matron of Raystown Home for Orphan and Friendless Children. She has a special tie to the home: she was once a resident before being adopted into a loving family.

When the current matron resigns to get married, Sadie joyfully accepts the position. Although she and Blaine have an understanding, they both know it will be several years before they can afford to marry. Except Blaine has a surprise of his own: he purchased a farm and is ready to propose. But the matron must be a single woman and Sadie has given her word. They decide they have different goals and part ways. At least that’s what they tell themselves while hoping their hearts will go along.

The job is bigger than Sadie bargained for. Especially having to do it without Blaine in her life.

I’m a big fan of Anne’s first two books, Wings of a Dream, and At Every Turn, so I was eager to read her latest. I love Anne’s way with words, they suit the historical genre like a high button shoe under a gingham skirt.

With a nod to “The Gift of the Magi,” A Home for My Heart explores themes of mercy, leaving the past, and making a fresh start. I loved it and recommend it for anyone, but especially for those who love historical novels.

~ I received a free copy of A Home for My Heart in return for an honest review. I’m happy to say I honestly loved it.

Spotlight Thursday: Katie Cushman

Enter the Chasing Hope Giveaway from author Katie Cushman!

I’m so excited to share a great contest giveaway with you. I’ve known Katie for … ummm … a lot of years now. She writes wonderful stories and Chasing Hope is her best yet. I hope you’ll take a minute to read about the book and click through to enter the giveaway. How cool would it be for one of my readers to win one of these awesome prizes?!?! Good luck!

Chasing Hope by Kathryn CushmanIn author Kathryn Cushman’s newest novel, Chasing Hope, Sabrina Rice is a gifted runner and Olympic hopeful who’s had her dreams shattered by a devastating diagnosis. One forfeited scholarship and several years later, she’s focused on building new dreams. Dreams that have nothing to do with running.

Until the day she sees Brandy Philip running across the community college campus, easily outpacing security. Sabrina immediately recognizes world-class speed, and it’s all the more painful that it belongs to a teenage graffiti artist.

When a chance encounter brings the two young women together, Sabrina gets the uncomfortable feeling her life plans are about to be toppled…again. And that God may be asking her to help this troubled but talented girl see her dreams past the starting block.

To celebrate the story, author Katie Cushman and Bethany House Publishers are pleased to present the CHASING HOPE Giveaway, and your chance to win one of three fabulous prizes connected with the story!

GRAND PRIZE:

CHAMPION’S CHOICE PACKAGE  Chasing Hope Grand Prize

Nike’s motto is: Just Do It, and Sabrina Rice of Chasing Hope lives out this attitude despite tremendous obstacles. But chasing dreams is hard work, and every champion needs fuel for their journey.

To celebrate everyday champions like Sabrina, we’re offering our Grand Prize winner the chance to fuel up, and have some fun as they chase their dreams.

The winner of this package will receive a $200 shopping spree to the Nike Online Store, and a 1-Year subscription to Runner’s World Magazine.

Chasing Hope Second PrizeSECOND PRIZE:

NEW STRIDE PACKAGE

In Chasing Hope, Brandy Philip has world-class talent, but she needs a fresh start, and a little extra help to get her on the right path. Just like Brandy, we all need a boost now and then, especially when it comes to our health and fitness goals!

While we can’t all have a personal trainer like Sabrina to help us meet those goals, our Second Prize winner will receive the next best thing: This prize includes a $175 value Nike + FuelBand accelerometer, which tracks each step taken and calories burned (and tells the time of day), and The Courage To Start running book, written by popular life coach and former self-proclaimed “couch potato”, John Bingham.

Chasing Hope Third PrizeTHIRD PRIZE:

REST & RECHARGE PACKAGE

In Chasing Hope, Sabrina and Brandy find that even the strongest runners also need time to rest.

Whether you run marathons, a carpool, or just weekly trips to the grocery store, you can always use a little you-time, and a chance to recharge!

Our third prize winner will get that chance with a $50 gift card to Spafinder.com, plus an inside look at the life of Eric Liddell, (Sabrina’s hero and inspiration), through the ‘Complete Surrender’ biography book, and the Chariots of Fire DVD, featuring Ben Cross.

Book Info & Sample Chapter:

Can be found at http://www.katiecushman.com/books/ 

How to Enter:

Go to http://www.katiecushman.com/chasing-hope-giveaway/ and complete the entry box, anytime between September 16 and October 3.

This giveaway starts September 16, 2013 and ends October 3, 2013 @ 11:59 pm (PST). Winners will be selected Friday, October 4, 2013, and announced at KatieCushman.com.

Book Talk Tuesday: The Road Home

I loved the first book in the Apple Creek Dreams Series, A Quilt For Jenna. I opened The Road Home with a bit of trepidation, hoping it would be as good.
Rest assured, Patrick Craig is a gifted novelist and he writes a page-turner. I enjoyed catching up with Jerusha, Reuben, and Jenny. We got just enough of the backstory from the first book so a new reader knows what’s going on, but not so much that it bogged down the new story. When we left the Springer family, they had just welcomed four-year old Jenny into their family.
The Road Home opens in 1965. Jenny has grown into a lovely young woman, but she is plagued by feelings of not fitting in in her Amish family and community. She loves her adoptive parents, but yearns to know who she is and where she came from.
Johnny’s story begins in San Francisco, in the midst of the drug and free love culture. He witnesses a crime and flees the city with drug dealers on his tail. He spends a few days in Apple Creek and meets Jenny. The two are drawn together by a shared sense of something missing. When the drug dealers find Johnny and Jenny, their lives are in great danger. Only by God’s grace do they get away and get answers to all their questions.
I’m looking forward to the next installment from Patrick Craig, Jenny’s Choice. I’m intrigued and wondering what her choice is all about.
The Road Home is a recommended read!

–I received a free copy of The Road Home from Mr. Craig and Harvest House in return for an honest review.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Which Came First?

Last week I hummed along with Neil Young as he searched for a heart of gold and a question occurred to me:

Was this heart of gold an actual gold mine or was it a metaphor for something else? Was he singing about searching for a heart of gold in someone who’d hurt him?

The song “Heart of Gold” was released in 1972, a few months before I officially became a teenager. At 13, who takes a song at anything other than face value? My musical loves were Donny Osmond and the Partridge Family, so clearly deep lyrics were not my thing. Interestingly enough, Donny’s “Puppy Love” was also a 1972 hit.

Anyway, last week I suddenly heard a deeper meaning in the words and looked up the lyrics to see the whole song in context. Since I’m sensitive to copyright issues, I don’t want to reprint the lyrics here, but if you’ve got another minute, I encourage you to do a quick search and read them yourself.

They seem to refer to a search for a deeper meaning and focus of life.

It seems to me that the song could also refer to searching for good in someone. We all want to believe that there’s something good inside each person. This, of course, is contrary to what Scripture teaches us, which is “there is none good, no not one. There is none who seeks after God.” And “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”

Does that mean I should stop searching for a “heart of gold” in a narcissist?

I think it means I can stop trying to convince myself that someone who is consistently selfish and self-centered can change. Even if they can change, they don’t want to. I can drive myself to keep searching for their heart of gold, but eventually I will have to concede that it doesn’t exist.

That doesn’t mean I won’t believe the best about someone and their intentions. It does mean that when someone consistently makes everything about them, the healthy thing to do may be to stop searching for their heart of gold and just accept them as they are.

 

Book Talk Tuesday: Chasing Hope

It’s no secret I’m a huge Kathryn Cushman fan. Which means I also have high expectations for her novels.
Chasing Hope exceeded those expectations.chasing hope
Sabrina was an Olympic-calibre runner whose career was cut short by a medical condition. She immediately changed focus and poured all her energies into her college major, determined to succeed at her new goal.
Brandy is an at-risk teenager trying to outrun her past and stay out of juvie.
Sabrina’s grandmother convinces her to coach Brandy. Sabrina reluctantly agrees, never dreaming how her life will change in the weeks ahead.

Cushman does a great job giving two sides to an issue. Chasing Hope gives us both characters’ perspectives on their own athletic abilities. Sabrina loved running and misses it so much that she avoids even watching college sports because it’s a stabbing reminder of what she’s lost. Brandy sees running as her ticket out of juvie and that’s about it. They each grow to see that running is both more and less than an athletic endeavor.

As Sabrina struggles to finish her senior year of college with additional medical challenges, she takes the reader along her journey. We travel out of Egypt with Sabrina and the ancient Israelites. We cross the Red Sea on dry land. We thirst for God. I found myself holding my breath and flexing my legs during the running scenes and thirsty while Sabrina mused about three days without water.
Another reviewer commented that Chasing Hope didn’t contain anything explicitly Christian that made it a Christian book. I disagree. I found faith woven throughout the book but so skillfully done that someone who says they “never read Christian fiction” could be converted to loving Inspirational novels.

Chasing Hope wins the gold! I loved it and highly recommend it.

**I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Done and done.

Woe! It’s Wednesday: Encouragement or Badgering?

In our instant digital culture, it’s difficult sometimes to learn where to draw the lines for Tweeting, texting, Facebooking, pinterest pinning, and Instagramming.

What one person thinks of as a newsy tidbit may be “oversharing” to Dave someone else.

What one person thinks of as an exhortation may be considered whining to me someone else.

Several of my friends have been victimized in the past by their church or family or gossip or innuendo or employers or neighbors.

image

So have I. Not from all of the above, but certainly a few of them.

At the time, I was consumed with my pain, with my side of conflict, with my rights, with my reputation.

Eventually, I had to let it go. Rehashing it only prolonged the healing because I kept ripping off the scab and not letting the wound heal.

I want to say that to a few people but how?

But everything I think of to say, no matter how well-intentioned, can be boiled down to its essence: their pain is boring me.

So, I keep my mouth shut, read the post/look at the picture/ignore the link/delete the tweet, and smile and say a prayer that they are able to let go of a little bit of their pain today.