Becoming

Are we there yet? My sons used to ask this question often as we traveled to a destination. “It’s taking too long!”

Hello, Thursday Morning readers. It’s finally spring, but I’m not sure we’re there yet. That’s not really why I asked that question, though.

Last weekend, I attended a writers conference and had the opportunity to learn a bit more about the craft of writing. As I looked over the schedule, I realized that many of the courses were repeats for me. I ultimately chose a class on creating lively characters and a class on the art of writing.

I’ve published several books, so I’m not really a beginner, but I can always improve. Like most other vocations, writing doesn’t remain the same. It changes with the times and preferences of the collective “reader.” So, the writer needs to hone their skills and evolve with the industry.

Also, my “word” for 2019? Teachable.

To remain teachable—this can be a daunting task, because I would prefer to think I have arrived. After a long journey, I’m tired and I want to sit down. That’s my preference. I’m done. But I’m not finished. My writing can always improve. My characterization can be better.

Besides all that, the instructors were delightful. I attended the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference. It was kind of a long drive for me, but I’ve made that drive many, many times over the years, so it didn’t really bother me. The Mid-South is a wonderful conference. The people are friendly and welcoming. For a “smallish” but growing conference, they have a lot to offer.

Bob Hostetler’s keynote messages were funny and inspiring. Johnnie Alexander and Patricia Bradley taught the class on creating characters. Vanessa Griggs kept her class laughing and engaged as she shared on the smART of Writing.

coffee, cup, laptop, memeI made new friends and something wonderful happened: I learned a thing or two. That’s always a good and positive thing. When I arrived back home, though, I still didn’t feel like I was there yet. There’s so much more to learn about the craft of writing. I’m not frustrated by it, I’m invigorated. I’m excited about what the future holds.

I’m still “becoming” a writer in many ways. And that’s a wonderful thing too.

If you’re not so very far from Central Kentucky, you might consider the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference coming June 20-22. I’m on the planning committee, so I know this is going to be a good year. Susan May Warren is our keynote speaker, and we have an excellent faculty making plans to help those who want to learn the craft or become better writers. Click the meme below to find out more information:

Painting a Story

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday Morning! It’s an hour earlier in the day, and a week closer to spring!

When someone asked me to name a few of my all-time favorite books, I realized there was no easy answer. I usually say Jane Eyre, because that is my overall favorite for a variety of reasons.

There are so many wonderful stories that have touched my heart and maybe even changed my life a little, or at least my way of thinking. One of the most beautiful is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Of course, it’s a literary novel—I always seemed to prefer those. This is a work of art that follows a young girl coming of age in the early twentieth century.

It’s not a sweet story, though there are moments of sweetness. Francie Nolan is the daughter of an Irish immigrant living in the inner city, at a time when life wasn’t easy for the Irish in New York. Her father struggles with alcoholism and finds it difficult to provide for his family.

Even though my early life bordered on poverty, the Nolan’s situation made me feel as though we’d been rich. Life-changing. I read it more than once and loved the movie version (1945).

What makes a story unforgettable? Have you ever watched an artist paint a picture? It’s fascinating. Especially when the picture is created from the artist’s imagination. You watch in awe as they add layer upon layer of color, shadow, light. Gradually, a scene emerges, sometimes stunning in quality.

You can say the same about a really good story. The writer translates his or her imagined tale into words and builds a world on the page that can be achingly real. The reader is caught up in the story and forgets that it’s only a story.

That’s how I feel when I read stories like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I feel the angst, the hunger, the humility, the encroaching darkness when all seems lost. I keep turning pages, enthralled and then, there it is—fresh hope—like the light at the end of the tunnel. I love happy endings, but it doesn’t have to be rose gardens or even lottery winners. Hope is the key to a great ending, in my humble opinion.

Which book, novel, screenplay, or story changed your life? Left you breathless and filled with hope for the main character? You may have read or watched it numerous times to discover every nuance, every hopeful thought, like licking the crumbs from the plate after your favorite dessert.

P.S.: Congratulations, Susan Mills! She won a copy of Annabelle’s Ruth for her comment on my blog post/giveaway last week! I also sent her a bonus book, Rebeccca’s Legacy. Happy reading, Susan!

Chasing Spring

One day it looks and feels like spring, next day, it’s the deep of winter. That’s the weather so far this year. Life can be an adventure!

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday Morning!

I just celebrated a birthday, and oh! I received all the things girls love. Coffee, chocolate, flowers, jewelry, a new purse, and a comfy pillow. I’m not usually swayed by material gifts. In fact, when my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told him, “…time with my sons.”

Well, I received that, too. We had a wonderful dinner at a nice restaurant, and even remembered to take pictures. Yep. How often do you get together with loved ones and afterward, remember no one took a photo of the event? It’s so frustrating.

Chasing The End. I’m back at my desk, working hard to finish the final book in the Kinsman Redeemer series. I’m down to the last couple of chapters.

This has been a labor of love. When I wrote the first book, Annabelle’s Ruth, I never expected it to become a series. But that’s how it goes in the book world these days. So, I was able to finish the story and hopefully leave my readers with a smile on their faces.

So, I’d better get back to work on that. One day soon, I’ll happily announce that I’m finished. In the meantime, help me celebrate my birthday month! In just a few days, I’m giving away a book on the Inspired Prompt blog. Rebecca’s Legacy is the featured book on March 15. Here’s a link to the website: Inspired Prompt

Throughout the month of March, the writers of Inspired Prompt are giving away books, so pop on over and check it out.

And, if you’ve never read Annabelle’s Ruth, leave me a comment below (on this blog post) for a chance to win a copy. Here’s more information about the book:

Annabelle’s Ruth, Book 1, Kinsman Redeemer
Published June, 2015

“If you think you can come back here and throw yourself on my mercy, you are quite wrong.”

After their husbands perish in a fishing boat accident, Connie Cross determines to follow her mother-in-law, Annabelle, from Southern California to Tennessee. Her misgivings begin as they cross the bridge over the muddy Mississippi River. In their new town, where living conditions are far below their previous expectations, they must set up a household and hunt for work to survive. Thanks to the kindness of Annabelle’s handsome, young cousin, life begins to settle down. But Connie has a secret that could uproot them once again.

Inspired by the Book of Ruth, Annabelle’s Ruth is a 1950’s era “Ruth” story, set in western Tennessee. How will Connie adapt to her new life amid the cotton farms, racial tension, and culture shock?

And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me. –Ruth 1:16-17