In Others' WordsIn Others' Words

Friday, July 29, 2011

In Others' Words: Memories

Joy Abounds!

"Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose."  ~From the television show The Wonder Years

I've had several friends ask, "So, when will we see photos from your daughter's wedding?" 
So now you know why I'm posting these photographs of my daughter, Katie Beth Huntley. She's married two weeks as of today to my wonderful son-in-love, Nate Huntley. I'm posting photos because friends asked me to. 
And, yes, because the memories of their wedding are more precious with each passing day.
Memories are ... magical.
When I was a teen, I wrote a short story about a world that erased people's memories. To me, it was a tragic thought: eradicating memories of loved ones. Now Alzheimer's and traumatic brain injuries accomplish that same terrible goal. 
Life without memories is just ... emptier.
Back to the wedding.Here are some of my favorite memories:
  • The look on Nate's face as he watched Katie Beth walk down the aisle to the song "God Gave Me You."  (I have no photo of this because once the ceremony started, I put my camera down and savored each moment. I wanted to be present.)
  • My radiant daughter, Katie Beth, on her wedding day.
  • Katie Beth and Nate made certain their wedding ceremony reflected them. There were twin strands of faith and fun--both components of who these young people are. Nate's vow included a promise to "always make Katie Beth dinner each week." (He's quite the chef.) Katie Beth promised to "always have coffee in the house." (Nate looked appreciative and relieved.) 
  • They chose two elements to reflect their faith: They symbolically washed each others' feet and then shared communion.
  • How everyone joined in the celebration of Katie Beth's and Nate's love and their wedding. (Conga line, anyone?)

A mother of the bride moment.

In Your Words: When you hear the word memories, what comes to mind? Do you have some favorite memories that you cherish? As a writer, have memories every played a key role in a story you've written?

The limo awaits!
PS: Today is Katie Beth's birthday! Happy birthday, Mrs. Huntley!

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

In My Words: When Life Doesn't Go According to Plan

Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at 

I'm diverting from my usual manner of blog post because, well, yesterday was one of those kind of days. Actually, take "one of those kind of days" and multiply it by a gazillion-katillion-whatever-is-the-largest-number-ever-discovered-by-someone-more-mathematically-inclined-than-me.
I had every intention of writing a pithy blog post. And I didn't spend my time reading everyone else's blogs because ... um, that would be virtually impossible. And with yesterday being a day that will go down in history as unforgettable--at least in my memory--I didn't even have time to read my favorite blogs ... sigh.
Enough about me.
I hope you are having a wonderful day, whatever that looks like for you.
And I hope you enjoy the Inkygirl cartoon. A picture is worth a thousand words, don'tcha know. So, if you include a cartoon in that definition, this is really a much longer blog post then usual.

In Your Words: How's your day going? What's your advice for getting over "one of those days?"

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

In Others' Words: Rest

"One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after the wind." Ecclesiastes 4:6

Back when I taught women's Bible studies, I loved doing word studies. It was so intriguing to dig into the meaning of words and watch the deeper truths of a verse unfold.
Take the word "rest" in today's quote. Rest. Quietness. A quiet attitude. Hhhmmm. Discovering that perspective on "rest" begins to turn the verse differently for me.
What about the word "labor"? Toil. Trouble. Mischief. Mischief? That makes me think of being somewhere I don't belong and doing something I ought not to be doing ... am I going to get caught? 
Last word: "wind." (Did you think I was going to look at the word "striving?" It means .... striving.) Wind. A vain, empty thing. 

Rephrasing Ecclesiastes 4:6: One hand full of a quiet attitude is better than two fists full of toil and striving after vain, empty things.

Sometimes I think doing is the most important thing. What do I have to show for all my efforts at the end of the day? This truth tells me that being quiet--learning to cultivate an attitude that allows me to rest--ensures that I am not wasting my time pursuing things of no value.

In Your Words: Rest or striving? Which is more your modus operandi? How do you cultivate rest?

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

In My Words: Write Like a Photographer

My friend Marty, doing what he loves.
I just spent the better part of last week in Bandon, Oregon. The week before that, my daughter got married. Hhhmm. I'm surprised this blog post isn't a series of photographs of my daughter as a stunning bride. (She was. Truly.)
Bandon is the perfect place to go after you've planned and executed a wedding. It was all about being with comfortable-as-family friends. And walking along the beach. And relaxing. And reading. And more walking along the beach.
Oh yeah. And grabbing my camera every time my friend Marty grabbed his much bigger, much more expensive camera and following him, hoping that I might get photos half as good as his.
Marty is a gifted photographer. And as I followed him around and tried to watch and learn (and most definitely replicate his photos!), I gleaned some principles from him that can be applied to writing.

  1. Write because you love it. Marty is passionate about photography. All you have to do is look at the hundreds--possibly thousands--of photos he has loaded on his iPad to realize he loves taking pictures. He sees something worth photographing--a certain way the clouds swirl or the color of a rock nestled in the sand--and he gets excited. He starts smiling and clicking and smiling and clicking ... 
  2. You aren't going to get it right the first time--and that's okay. I never saw Marty take just one photo of anything. If it was worth photographing once, it was worth photographing several times. Sometime many, many times. The photo at the end of this post? Marty took 155 takes to get the bird in just the right spot. 155 takes. How many times are you willing to rewrite your scene to get it right?
  3. Invest in your craft. Marty has spent time and money on his photography. His camera is a top of the line camera. His battery is almost as big as my camera! (Yeah, I'm jealous.). He knows what editing program he likes to use to get the photos just right. I've heard writers say things like, "I can't afford to go to that conference." The real question is: Can you afford not to go to that conference? And if it is not in this year's budget, can you start saving for next year's conference?
  4. Focus. Focus. Focus. (Did you really think I'd get through a blog post using photography as an allegory and not use the "focus" word?) I am a big picture person. I like to hang with people who are detail-oriented because they remind me not to overlook the oh-so-needed details. Marty sees the big picture and the details. He knows how to focus large and then focus in--on the smaller and smaller things. When you write, where's your focus? Nowadays it is so easy to have a scattered focus. We're blogging and tweeting and commenting on blog posts and glancing through email and mulling over our manuscripts--all at the same time. Focus. One thing at a time. 

In Your Words: Once you stop gazing at that beautiful sunset photo, let me know what you think about writing like a photographer. And then go friend my friend Marty Osborn on Facebook so you can see some more of his stunning photography!

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Monday, July 25, 2011

In Others' Words: Fun

"People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing." ~Dale Carnegie, writer & lecturer

I'm just back from a time of relaxation and refreshing, having spent time with good friends in Bandon, OR. The time was the best -- slow-paced enough to be reflective and yet filled with fun and laughter.
While I was there, I discovered my friend Jamie is a serious sandcastle sculptor. She has the knowledge and the tools -- and she takes the time to build some rather intricate sandcastles. 
Why build sandcastles? I mean, they don't last. We all know that. It's the whole sand versus waves dilemma. The waves win every time.
Jamie enjoys building sandcastles. It is, in short, fun
Let me tell you something else about my friend. She has a rather serious career: She's a family physician. Not only that, she's in charge of a residency program. Serious stuff, that. 
But Jamie (and her family) know how to laugh and have fun. (Balderdash, anyone?)
She's found a certain balance between seriousness and fun that I admire -- and she constantly adjusts to maintain the right balance.

Oh. One more thing about building sandcastles. For all the fun of the endeavor, Jamie also told my husband that her efforts remind her that nothing lasts.
Hhhm. Fun and significant.
My friend is a wise woman.

In Your Words: Having fun? Achieving success? Has one excluded the other? Stop and think about what defines fun for you. (I'd love to hear about it!) If your striving for success but finding no joy (fun) in the goal ... have you ever considered you're going in the wrong direction?

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Friday, July 22, 2011

In Others' Words: Happiness

"Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony." ~Thomas Merton

I used to think happiness was all about more, more, more.

As I've gotten older, I've discovered that happiness (think contentment) is all about less.

When I was younger, I always had a list of "this is what I want" for my birthday or Christmas. Now, more often than not, I'm hard-pressed to think of anything. It's not that I don't want things ... It's just those things aren't important. 

I look around and realize, hey, I've got a lot of stuff. And, while I like a lot of it, I could also get rid of a lot of it and not miss it.

My happiness isn't about turning the volume of my life louder. Or going faster. It's found in the moments when I've more than enough time to spend with those I love. Or when I can step back and watch my family as they talk and laugh--and nowadays they often do this while cooking together.

In Your Words: What makes you happy? How would you define happiness? Contentment? When you think of happiness--what memory comes to mind?

photo by sinanacar/

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

In My Words: Can't Be Bothered to Blog

Writers must blog. It's been decreed by "them" -- whoever "they" are.(They look and sound a lot like editors and agents.) Blogging is one plank in an author's platform.
My first attempt at blogging was The Writing Road. I've always seen my writing career as a journey along a road, complete with bumps and detours and unexpected bends in the road -- hence, the name. I had great fun blogging and eventually invited two other writing friends to blog with me: Roxanne Sherwood and Scoti Domeij. I covered non-fiction. Roxanne covered fiction. And Scoti, our resident researchaholic, covered all sorts of "How did she find out about that?!" topics.
Despite all the fun we had, the blog never took off. Probably because my main focus was on writing blog posts. Period.
While I knew blogging was part of building my platform, I didn't focus on methodically accomplishing that goal. I kinda figured that I'd blog and people would find me. 
Shortsighted of me, I admit it.
If you're like me, you've got a To Do list as long as the Great Wall of China. You've got to write. And rewrite. (Multiply by ten. At least.) And edit. And critique other writers' stuff, if you're in a critique group. And work on your talk for whatever group you're speaking to next month. And blog. And tweet. And update your Facebook status. And, oh, yeah . . . shouldn't you be posting comments on everyone else's blogs? (I'm ignoring the "real life" stuff for the sake of word count.)
Here's a bit of trivia for you: There were over 156 million public blogs as of February 2011, according to BlogPulse.
Does it ever feel like you're trying to find time to read and comment on every single one?
Once again, the question needs to be asked: What's a writer to do?
Here's my honest answer: I try
I retired The Writing Road. The content is still available -- but it is no longer my focus. This blog, In Others' Words, is where I share my love of quotes and my thoughts on writing. I keep my posts brief because, hey, I'm competing with over 156 million other blogs! I also became part of a team of bloggers, MBT Ponderers. Sharing the blog load makes it easier all the way around. And I post on the MBT Special Teams blog -- once again as a team member, not a solo blogger. 
Biggest change: I make time to comment on others' blogs.Some favorites: Amy Sorrells, The Writers Alley, Write Strong, Weaving Influence, Jody Hedlund, The Write Conversation ... 
Yes, there are more -- and  others I haven't discovered yet.

In Your Words: What are your feelings about blogging? Love it? Hate it? Got it under control? Do you have any favorite must-read blogs?

photo by   jaylopez/

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In Others' Words: Beauty

"The beautiful is everywhere." ~Fernand Leger, French artist

How often do I overlook beauty?

I get so busy with all the "doing"--writing, editing, laundry, running errands, texting, emailing, keeping my daughter busy, grocery shopping--that I miss the beauty all around me.

I miss the sound of my daughter's voice as she tells me a joke she just made up.

I miss the chance to see my husband embrace my daughter when he walks in the door after work. 

I miss the myriad of colors in the sunset over Pikes Peak.

I miss the sound of the hummingbirds outside my kitchen window.

I miss the chance for a walk in the coolness of the early morning.

I miss so much that adds beauty to my life.

Seeing beauty requires that I am intentional. Purposeful. Beauty is all around me. I need to choose to see it. Stop. Look. Listen. 

In Your Words: Stop whatever you're doing right now. (Reading this blog, I would guess.) Look. Listen. What beauty did you discover?  Be purposeful in looking for beauty today.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

In My Words: Social Media = Me + You and You and You and You . . .

The writing world is all a-buzz with talk of social media. Blogs. Twitter. Facebook. Google+. Vlogs. And plenty of things I'm sure I've missed. The one underlying theme I'm hearing is social media is all about relationships.
Think of it this way: Behind every blog, every tweet, every vlog is a person.
Sounds simple, doesn't it?
But with all the information being thrown at us -- that's what it feels like sometimes -- we can easily forget the personal aspect of Internet.
I signed up for Facebook because I knew it was a good thing to do. As a writer, it helped me connect with other writers -- and family and friends too.
I balked at the idea of Twitter for quite a while, but finally caved because I knew I should. Honestly, I probably retweet (RT) other people's tweets more than I post my own tweets.
Another phrase for social media is social networking. My friend and fellow writer, Edie Melson, wrote an informative article about social networking called "Social Networking -- It's All About the Relationship."
Her perspective began to change my attitude about social media, changing my "have to" attitude to a "want to" attitude.
I'm refocusing my efforts when I blog or tweet or comment on someone else's blog or when I add a Facebook friend or LinkedIn colleague. Here's what I ask myself:

  1. Blog posts or tweets: What unique perspective or experience can I share that might help someone else? 
  2. Comments: Will my comment on this blog add to the conversation? If yes, then I post. If no, then there's no need to just make noise in a comment box. Confession: If I read a blog and see that there are no comments, I will often comment. I've had my "no comment" days on this blog. No fun.
  3. Facebook & LinkedIn: Does this person who has asked to be my Facebook friend have any connection to me, i.e. similar friends? If yes, I add them as a friend. No? Then I don't. With LinkedIn, I like to see a connection with other people or at least a similar career field.

In Your Words: How do you handle social networking? Do you feel connected or over-connected? Do you have any tips for managing all the options?

 photo by schlomaster/

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Monday, July 18, 2011

In Others' Word: Perspective

"When the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, it may be that they take better care of it there." ~Cecil Selig

The grass is always greener ...
Come on, finish the sentence with me: on the other side.
Is it? Really?
Or are we just spending too much time hanging over that fence looking at what "they" have and then thinking about how we don't have it.
Maybe we need to turn around and take a better look--a more grateful look--at what's on our side of the fence.
Sure, our lives aren't perfect.
Guess what? Those folks on the other side of the fence with all that green grass? Their lives aren't either. We don't know that because we aren't living their lives.
And we never will.
You and I have one life to live--ours. With all it's imperfections. And all the good things too.
Want some greener grass on our side of the fence? That's our responsibility.

In Your Words: I used to get tripped up by wanting what other people had. The house. The car. The clothes. The "greener grass syndrome" leads to nothing but discontent. What about you? How's your grass looking? 

photo by linder6580/

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Friday, July 15, 2011

In Others' Words: Marriage

My daughter Katie Beth & Nate, her husband-to-be

"A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person." ~Mignon McLaughlin, American journalist and author

I am writing this blog post sixteen days before my daughter's wedding. You are reading it on July 15th, her wedding day.

I'm already imagining how I will feel on the day--that bittersweet tangle of emotions. Happiness. Sadness. Pride. Regret. (Did I do enough? Say enough? Pray enough? You don't stop praying just because your child gets married.)
I know that I know that I know that Katie Beth and Nate love one another. And I know that I know that I know that they will face challenges that will test their love for each other. Every married couple does.

As I untangle my emotions, I am going to choose to be joy-filled and happy for my daughter and my son-in-love. I won't focus on missing my daughter. Instead, I will thank God for how he answered the prayers my husband and I prayed for our daughter's future husband--with Nate.

The future is here. Now.

I will stand to the side and watch them embrace it.

And I will never stop praying for them.

It's what a mom does.


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Thursday, July 14, 2011

In My Words: Is There Ever Enough Time to Write?

So, all you writers out there, here's the question: Are you finding enough time to write?
Me neither.
I've been chatting with a new writer. She has a full time job and a family. With all of her commitments, she has one day a week to write. One day. Recently she asked me this question: Is it possible to be published with such a limited amount of time dedicated to that venture?
My answer?
Sure. Not anytime soon--but maybe sometime in the not-too-near future.
Every writer fights the clock. Every writer confronts the reality that there are never enough hours in the day to devote to writing. You have a family who wants to see you. Or friends. You have to eat (or at least make a couple of pots of coffee.) Pay bills. Exercise. (Really, exercise is not optional.) Sleep. Maybe feed your dog or cat or bird or bearded dragon. Maybe you have a "real" job and your boss expects you to work, not do research on your historical novel set in the 1700s.
It's the whole "real life" versus writing life conundrum.
Here are a few ways I manage the clock:

  1. Set the alarm clock earlier than normal. Try an hour earlier. Too early? Try 30 minutes. The extra time is writing time--nothing else.No surfing the Net, no reading email, no updating your Facebook status, no writing tweets. 
  2. Set a stopwatch when you're writing. My writing buddy, Lisa Jordan, told me about this great online stopwatch. When I want to stay focused, I set the stopwatch and write until it rings. Nothing else--just write.
  3. Shut the door on the "real world."  I'm fortunate to have a home office where I write and edit. Sometimes I leave the door open. This means "Y'all come on in and interrupt me." I can't complain when my 10-year-old daughter comes in to talk. When I shut the door, this means "Do Not Disturb." My family knows someone better need medical care if they open the door.
  4. Clear your calendar. Becoming a published writer requires commitment. That means saying yes to writing and no to a lot of other things. Take an honest look at your calendar. Are there things you need to step away from? If you're having lunch with friends two or three times a week, you are losing valuable writing time. I'm not saying don't have friends--but maybe do the "let's do lunch" thing once a week. Or once every other week.
  5. Make the world--and everything else--go away. Turn off your phone.Shut down TweetDeck. And Facebook. And your email. Distractions will derail your writing. The limited time you'd set aside to finish that chapter will be gone--and all you've have to show for it is a tweet, an updated Facebook status and a fun conversation with your BFF.
In Your Words: How's the time management working out for you? Do you have any tried and true methods for getting enough time to write?

photo by tuareg/

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

In Others' Words: Love

"Love is more than a noun -- it is a verb; it is more than a feeling -- it is caring, sharing, helping, sacrificing."
~William Arthur Ward, author

"I do."

When a couple exchanges their "I dos" in the wedding ceremony, what are they agreeing to?

I know. I know. The pastor has them repeat the vows after him.That's what they are "I do-ing."

But really ... the bride and groom are agreeing to so much more.

Not that you or I could tell them that. The minister never stops the ceremony and asks, "Does anyone want to chime in here? Does anyone want to tell this man and this woman some realities of married life? The good and the, um, not so good?"

Nope. Never gonna happen.

And it shouldn't.

My relationship with my husband is just that--mine. Your relationship with your spouse is yours alone. Sure, I could tell you my story. I could listen to yours. But the truth is, the best thing I could do for the bride and groom is to celebrate their choice to love one another. And then to encourage them to ensure their story is woven through with love. And forgiveness. And definitely with a sense of humor.

In Your Words: Any favorite memories from your wedding day? I've already told my daughter that something will go wrong on her wedding day--something always does. But we'll deal with it and it will become part of her story. 

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Surviving a Less Than Perfect Moment In the Writing World Starring: Me!

Free Clipart Picture of a Women's Restroom Sign. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart
The story you are about to read is true.
No names have been changed to protect the, um, guilty because ... well, because I did it.
And I'm willing to share my moment of embarrassment with you, my fellow writers, because I know you won't hold it against me. And you won't laugh at me.
Way back in when I was a beginning writer, I attended a writers conference. My main goal was to pitch some magazine articles to Beth Jusino, who was then the editor of MomSense, the magazine for Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) International.
Right before the opening session of the conference, I slipped into the women's bathroom. (FYI: The restrooms at The Broadmoor are impressive. I'm just saying.)
As I washed my hands--See, Mom, I listened!-- I said hello to the woman standing next to me. I glanced at her name tag and then, for some unknown reason, I broke the cardinal rule for any writer attending a writers conference.
Me (beginning to put my foot in my mouth): Oh! You're Beth Jusino! You edit MomSense! (Anytime you're talking with that many exclamation points--stop talking.)
Beth: Yes, I am. (Notice: No exclamation points.)
Me: I have an appointment with you tomorrow!
Beth: Great.
Me: Yeah, I've written some magazine articles ...
About then it hit me: I was pitching to an editor in the women's bathroom! Well, not really. But kind of. Almost. I hadn't pulled out any articles and backed her into a stall, but still ...
Me: Oh. My. Gosh. I can't believe I just did that. I am so sorry. (No, I didn't grovel. I wanted to maintain some semblance of professionalism.)
Beth: It's okay.

Truthfully, I don't remember our conversation word for word. I do remember the location. And I do remember the verbal faux pas. If you're wondering if I had enough courage to face Beth again during our 15 minute appointment, I did. And she even asked for (and published) an article.

Even better, Beth and I became friends. We were able to laugh about my mistake--and she often shares that story at writers conferences. (I'm not sure if she uses my name or not.) She encouraged me when I thought about writing a book about late-in-life motherhood and pitching it to MOPS.

In Your Words: Less than perfect moments happen in the writing world--and sometimes you're front and center in those moments. Handled with grace, a faux pas doesn't have to be the end of the world--or your writing career. Have you experienced any "I want a do-over" moments? How did you deal with them?

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Monday, July 11, 2011

In Others' Word: Love

"Love is not something you feel. It's something you do."~David Wilkerson, pastor

My daughter, Katie Beth, gets married this Friday.

As this day approached, I experienced so many different emotions. 




And mixed with those feelings were other emotions.


Just a dash of worry. 

Regret--that I didn't have just a little more time with her.

When her dad walks her down the aisle to Nate, I will smile through my tears. And I've told Katie Beth my tears will be happy ones. (Mostly.)

We've talked a lot about the wedding in the past few months. We've also talked a lot about being married. The wedding and reception lasts for only a few hours. A marriage lasts forever

Rob and I've been married for 31 years. We've never pretended to have a perfect marriage. How do fake something like that? But our children know that we are committed to one another--for better, for worse. And--as I like to say--when you get married, you aren't thinking about "the worse" part.

I know I'll share a few words with my daughter before the wedding. Not sure what I'll say ... but I know I'll tell her I love her.

In Your Words: Weddings. Marriage. Do you have any special memories? Or any favorite quotes? Or words of wisdom?

photo by arki/ 

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Friday, July 08, 2011

In Others' Words: Courage

"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." ~Winston Churchill

I have to admit, Winston Churchill turned my perspective on courage upside down. I always think of courage as a "stand up and say something or do something." Courage is active. It's bold. It is, at times, in your face. 

But is courage also the ability to sit down, be quiet, and listen? To be strong enough not to need to say anything? To be willing to let the other person speak first--even if that person has hurt you?

As I mulled over this quote, I realized that true listening isn't passive. Listening is active (as is courage). To listen to someone you have to focus on them. Ignore everything else. Not allow your mind to wander. Not begin to think of all your replies before the person is finished speaking. (That's a tough one for me.)

Is it courageous to put someone else before yourself? Yes. It's also biblical. Consider others more important than yourself . . . (Philippians 2:3)

In Your Words: How do you define courage? Do you agree or disagree with Churchill? Have you had a chance to be courageous lately?

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Thursday, July 07, 2011

In My Words: How Birth Order Helps You Figure Out Your Characters

For all the times we novelists hear voices in our heads -- thank you, fictional characters -- there are times when we just can't get a handle on the hero's or heroine's personality.

Maybe you've filled out half a dozen questionnaires. You know your hero's birthday--and his birth weight. You know his given name and his nickname.You know his favorite foods and his favorite football team. But you still can't figure out what makes your hero tick.

A while back, I was working on the beginnings of a new story. My hero stayed in the background, refusing to talk. He was, to put it plainly, one frustrating guy.

I grabbed my well-worn workbook from the My Book Therapy (MBT) Storycrafters Retreat and started interviewing this guy--his name is Caleb--to discover more about him. One technique that authors Susie May Warren and Rachel Hauck endorse is to ask your character "Who are you?" and then keep asking  "Why?" until you uncover his motivations and values.

Since I'm no longer embarrassed to admit that I ask fictional people questions -- and I expect them to answer me -- I started throwing questions at Caleb. Before too long, I realized Caleb was a first born child.

A ha! Time do some research on birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman wrote probably the best known book on birth order: The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are. The birth order theory states that your position in your family -- firstborn, middle child, youngest -- influences your personality.

So what does birth order mean for Caleb, a first born son -- and, for all intents and purposes, an only child? (Can't tell you anything more without giving away my story. Sorry.)

Traits of firstborn children:

  • confident
  • organized
  • tend to be selfish
  • feel as though they are never good enough (ve-ery interesting)
  • want things their way
  • reliable
  • perfectionists
  • reliable
  • "grin and bear it" mentality
Now all I have to do is figure out which of these traits are part of Caleb's personality -- and how these will play out in the story.

Additional Resources:

In Your Words: Have you ever considered birth order when you were developing your characters' personalities? What did you discover? How did that affect your story? If you haven't, maybe you need to ask your hero or heroine "What's your family like? Are you the oldest or the youngest?"

photo by kodiak1/

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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

In Others' Words: Failure

"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly." ~Robert F. Kennedy

Sometimes the fear of failing stops me from beginning a new project. All the thoughts of "I can't" and "I'll fail at this" play through my head. I look into the future and all I see is a dead end.

You know what I love about the quote in today's post? It's how Kennedy puts a positive spin on failure. "... dare to fail greatly ... " I like the sound of that. Do I dare to fail greatly? Do I throw myself into my passion, knowing that, yes, I might fail--but I may just achieve even more than I imagine.

Is pursuing my dream--my dreams--worth the risk of failing? Absolutely. If I fail, I'll figure out what I did wrong and try again. I'll ask for help from someone who's succeeded. I've learned there's always someone willing to come alongside me and help or pray--or do both.

In Your Words: Does the thought of failure prevent you from pursuing your dreams? What one thing is worth daring to fail greatly? Has someone come alongside you and helped you when you've struggled?

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Tuesday, July 05, 2011

In My Words: Writers Conference (Mis)Conduct

At a writers conference, there are two ways to connect with editors and agents:

  1. Sign up for 15 minute appointments with an editor or agent for the chance to pitch your book. (And hope you get appointments with the editors and agents you really want to talk with.)
  2. During lunch and dinner sessions, sit at the table where the editor or agent you're hoping to connect with is hosting. Usually, as the table host, the editor or agent will take a few minutes to talk with everyone sitting at the table, often asking about their writing.
Now, sit back and let me share a story with you--and yes, there's a moral to the story. 

Several years ago, I attended the Jerry B. Jenkins Writing for the Soul conference. At dinner one night, my friend Scoti and I sat at an agent's table because Scoti wanted to talk with her. The table was full and this agent invited everyone to take a few minutes to either ask her a question or pitch their book idea. 

She let the person on her left go first, which meant Scoti and I were some of the last people to talk. When it was my turn, I pitched the book idea I was working on at the time--more for practice, as I already had my agent sending the proposal out. It was titled Blindsided, and the focus of the book was to help moms understand how to help their sons when they get tripped up by pornography. 

After I pitched my book, I turned to the writer next to me so I could listen to his pitch. He started off by saying, "My book deals with discipleship, an important issue that's vital to teen boys' spiritual growth, unlike the book you just heard about."

Excuse me? 

Yes--the writer dissed my book in an attempt to pitch his and make it look important. 

I was stunned. Scoti was stunned. And, by the look on the agent's face, she was put off by his approach of pitching his book by putting mine down.

I promised you a moral to the story, so here it is: When you're pitching your book, there's no need to denigrate another writer's book idea. Be passionate about your book idea--but don't attack another writer's manuscript in an attempt to make your idea look better. As a professional, you want to conduct yourself in a professional manner--and that means considering your words and your actions.

In Your Words: Have you ever had another writer speak negatively about your writing project? How did you handle it? I'd love to hear your words of wisdom.

photo  by  photostock/

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Monday, July 04, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!!

I love all the different flash mob videos. And now there's one for the 4th of July!

I am proud to be an American. I often thank God that I live in this country. It's not perfect--but it is a country that honors freedom. And I am especially thankful for all the men and women who serve in the military--some who are celebrating the 4th of July overseas, away from family and friends.

God bless America!

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Friday, July 01, 2011

In Others' Words: Laughter

"What soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul." 
~Yiddish Proverb

Soap applied to body = cleansing. 

Laughter applied to soul - cleansing.


I've said it before and I'll most likely say it again: Laughter is my most favorite sound. My house was filled to overflowing with laughter last weekend. It overflowed with activities: a bachelor's party for my future son-in-love. A bachelorette's party for my daughter.(No, I did not attend.) Finishing up edits on my novel. A family photo shoot--my Mother's Day request. And a belated celebration of my son's birthday and Father's Day.

Whew! It was tiring to write that list.

But having family coming and going--and then finally staying long enough to enjoy grilling shish kebobs--provided lots of opportunities for laughter.

Laughter pushes the negative out of me--and sweeps in and renews my spirit.

In Your Words: What's the last thing you laughed about? Did it lighten your spirit? 

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