“Please, sir, I want some more.” —Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

You know that moment when someone poses the question you’ve always wanted to ask, but never had the nerve? I remember the collective gasp of the roomful of orphans in this scene in Oliver Twist. No one had ever dared ask for a second helping. So, they waited with bated breath for what they all knew would come next.

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday Morning readers!

Are you wondering where I’m headed with that opening? Me too! It all started with my need to finish a project for my publisher. When I wrote “The End,” and declared it “a wrap,” I hoped to put writing aside for a few weeks and get busy on some household chores. A little spring cleaning, painting, organizing. All those things waiting in the wings for me to tackle.

But sometimes work takes precedence. Already, the marketing needs to be done. Which means I have to continue writing things to get ready for the release of the book I so recently finished, while it’s fresh in my mind, and also because time has a way of sneaking up on you.

So, I’ve gone back to the land of Annabelle’s Ruth. Not that I mind. You know, I was already missing Annabelle, Connie, Alton, Tom, and Miss Lillian. They are like old friends. Or maybe like my cousins who live where Annabelle lives. Whenever I have time to visit, it’s like I never left.

Back to Oliver’s question, it was my publisher who asked for more. I was like the roomful of orphans, staring back at her, waiting for the inevitable explosion. But of course, it didn’t come. Not out loud, anyway. After a bit of thought, I realized, in this case, a little more was just the thing.  I’ll scrape the bottom of the pot and see what I can come up with. Sometimes, that’s the yummiest part.

Click to Tweet: You know that moment when someone poses the question you’ve always wanted to ask, but never had the nerve? #amwriting More

I trust you’re having a wonderful spring. If you’re a mom, I hope this Mother’s Day holds many blessings. I look forward to spending time with some of my family this weekend. And then, it’s back to the writing board. Maybe a dash more adventure is what is needed, rather than washing walls and scrubbing baseboards. Oh, and don’t be afraid to ask for More!

And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. —Luke 11:9 ESV

Thankful for the Busyness

Hello, Thursday Morning friends! No, that title is not a typo. Or maybe it is. Is it still a typo if it’s done on purpose? 🙂

The other day I was complaining (to myself–no one else was here), that I had so much to do, I couldn’t do it all, not in one day. And the days ahead looked every bit as busy. Would I ever catch up? So, I complained to myself, loudly. Whined. Woe is me.

When I finally got quiet, I heard this still, small voice inside: “Be thankful you’re busy.”

Some of this “busyness” pays. Some of it doesn’t pay $$, but it’s necessary to maintain a clean house and a happy husband. Happy family. Some of the busyness involves committees and groups, things that don’t pay money, but add value in so many other ways, like: friendship, fellowship, training and growth.

And then there’s the writing gig. If you’re a writer, reading this, I know you feel my pain. I’m torn when the inspiration hits and I’m on the job with too much work to accomplish to take even a moment to jot something down, or leave myself a voice message. Or write run-on sentences. Or breathe.In our overly-busy oft-interrupted daily lives, we sometimes yearn for quiet moments of leisure. A mini-vacation from the routine, away from phones and noise and the pursuit of $$.

That’s where my heart was the other day when I was…whining. And that still, small voice reminded me to be thankful. Grateful.

Gratitude: the quality of being thankful; a strong feeling of appreciation.

It’s an attitude. Something I need to cultivate and remember in the trenches, when I’m sweating a deadline, whether it’s taxes due or my latest manuscript. Some people don’t have jobs or ways and means of supporting themselves. They long for the chance to be published. They’d love to serve on committees and lead groups.

So, here I am with a humble attitude, realizing that I’m flawed, but grateful. Thankful. Loving the busyness of my life. Happy in the moment. This moment, right now. Making it count.

In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.–Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Click to Tweet: In our overly-busy oft-interrupted daily lives, we sometimes yearn for quiet moments of leisure. Thankful for the busyness via @batowens #grateful #thankful

A Lesson in Love – Support Your Local Author

Hello, Thursday Morning, and all those who happen by today.  Most of our part of the country received a blast of Arctic air this week, along with snow. If you were snowed in, I hope you enjoyed your time off.

I poured myself an extra cup of coffee and enjoyed the view. I don’t mind snow, as long as I don’t have to get out in it.

I’ve been thinking about writers this week. Most writers work hard and make very little. A few hit it big and make a name for themselves. Some end up working it as a job, others as a hobby.

If you’re a writer, you know the loneliness of pursuing the craft. Sometimes, a writer’s own family doesn’t realize how much “blood, sweat, and tears” goes into the work they do. And when the work is done, and the book is out there–its creator is biting his or her fingernails, waiting to see whether anyone will read it. Or like it.

Do you have a writer in the family? Here’s a way you can support that loved one. Buy the books. Don’t wait for your writer friend or family member to offer you a freebie, those books cost her a lot of $$. Head out to the bookstore, or click over to Amazon and buy the book.

Display the books. Have a bookshelf dedicated to the writer you love.  Brag on her when company comes. Displaying the books may catch their interest enough that they go home and buy the book.

Give the books as gifts. Make the gift special by getting it autographed.

Read the book. Okay, this one may be the most difficult. You don’t like to read, you don’t like your writer’s style. Not everyone likes the genre the writer may have chosen. In that case, at least skim the book. Read the reviews on Amazon. Get an idea of what’s in the book. Talk to the your writer friend or family member about their research, which may have been extensive. This may bore you to tears, but remember, we’re talking about love here. You are showing your support.

This is how you encourage your local author. It also shows that you love this writer and appreciate the hard work that goes in to each of their creations. Help your star shine, if only for a moment.

…I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. — Ephesians 4: 1-3 NIV

Therapeutic Writing

Therapeutic writing. What thought pops into your mind when you read or hear those words?

As an author, I often write to cleanse my heart and mind of painful things. I’ve found it therapeutic. So, I was not surprised to hear this discussed in a writer’s meeting.

Not only did the exercise help a young woman process the pain of loss, but those writings helped her form a scene in her work-in-progress, as her main character dealt with the loss of a loved one. In the finished product, the character’s emotions are raw, her actions and conversations, achingly real. Readers will fully engage with the scene and the character.

What about non-writers–ordinary folks looking for a way to ease their emotional suffering?

I’m not a professional counselor, but I would suggest it to anyone. When I journal my feelings, I’m not writing for others, so I don’t have to worry about grammar, spelling, or sentence construction. I just pick up a pen, or open a new document on my preferred electronic device, and start writing. I write out my pain, shout my anger, tell a deceased loved one how I feel. All the things I didn’t have the chance to say when they were still alive.

Then what? I keep it hidden away. Shred it. Burn it. It’s up to me. Most writers will definitely want to keep theirs, and remember the depths of pain and despair, so they can write from their heart and bring a scene to life.

But what if someone can’t, or doesn’t want to write? Talk. There’s an app for that. Find a free, or inexpensive speech-to-text program and use it. Sometimes, seeing those words in written form–repeating them out loud–promotes healing. Sometimes.

I love to go for long walks. And those seem to be the times when my creative processes are flowing. I have all kinds of ideas. So I get out my phone, open a note, and start dictating. Sometimes I throw them out, but many times, I find good material that I can use in my work.

Mom, please write down your memories! How many times have I heard this? One of my sons wants me to write down the stories I’ve heard all my life. Stories about long-dead family members. Stories that will be lost, unless someone writes them down. Telling those stories is a quick and easy way to store them. Then I can transcribe them or use a speech to text program to bring them into a word document.

This process is both therapeutic and healing for me, because some of these memories bring up old hurts and painful losses. Talking them out, writing them down, can help me deal with the pain and restore my hope.

Though I’ve barely tapped the surface here, I hope I’ve encouraged a reader or two, or at least given you food for thought. If you’d like to study it further, there are numerous articles written on the subject of therapy writing or journaling. It’s important that you resist guilt feelings over delayed or prolonged grieving. And never assume to know exactly what someone is going through (even if you’ve suffered a similar loss or trauma).

Everyone processes emotion in their own way. This is why I believe writing therapy is a good thing, because it is so personal.

How do you process grief?

(Click to Tweet)  Everyone processes trauma or loss in their own way. #WritingTherapy #journal

Who won last week’s book giveaway?

Congratulations, Sandra Ardoin! And happy reading. I hope you enjoy the book!







A Novice at a Writers Conference

You barely know what you’re doing. Walking up to the front desk or table, you sign in. Newby WriterSomeone hands you a few things you’re too nervous to look at, including a name badge that you promptly drop.

You’ve just arrived at your first writers conference and you haven’t a clue what comes next.

Following the drone of voices, you find yourself in a room filled with excited people. Many of them smile at you and introduce themselves. Business cards exchange hands. This will happen often during the conference, so keep yours handy.

After whatever opening ceremonies your conference offers, the keynote speaker is introduced. He or she encourages and challenges you. Sometimes they make you laugh. Often, they share their horror stories about how they got their start. Bungling, novice writers, swimming against the current. Somehow making it through all the jumble. It’s hard, hard work! But it’s worth it. Every excruciating moment of it, they tell you.

And you believe it.

mourning-360500_1280After the keynote, there are classes. You’ve chosen several that looked promising. By the end of the day, your head may explode. What? Did you really think it would be easy? There is so much to this thing! You’d never even heard about deep POV, or showing versus telling.

And as the day draws to a close, you realize…you’ve been doing it all wrong. Now you’ll have to go home and get out your work-in-progress, examine it for all the problems you didn’t know you had. But maybe not tonight. Tonight you’re tired, and tomorrow is another day of conference. Like the true novice you are, you have scheduled interviews with an agent and an editor.

And now, you know the truth. You’re not ready.

So after a sleepless night, you return to the writers conference. A fluttering tummy accompanies you. You force a few sips of coffee down and check your phone forty-five times to make sure you’re not late for your interview.

a4b6d-interrogationThe agent sits across from you, waiting. You’re so nervous, you drop your one-sheet and stumble over your words. It’s not the perfect interview you’d envisioned when you signed up for this thing. In fact, it seems a bit like an interrogation. But somehow, you make it through.

She smiles sweetly as she lets you down easy. Your writing shows promise, but needs work.

The interview with the editor is easier, because now you know. Your work is not ready, so why not use these few minutes to get to know this editor? Ask questions. Find out what it will take to get where you want to go.

If they tell you to abandon your dreams–find another way to express yourself because you clearly don’t have what it takes to get published–ignore them. Because that’s what writers do. We ignore the naysayers and keep plodding on, learning and filling our heads with writer-ly things. We swallow our disappointments, pull ourselves up and start over. Over and over again.

10610671_10204984726037483_7958217533026572582_nBy the end of the conference, you realize how much you still need to learn. But you’re stuffed full of hope and encouragement. You’ve made friends and connections. You have a fistful of business cards so you can connect on Facebook and Twitter. You now know how to connect on Facebook and Twitter.

The writers conference can provide you with all that and more. It’s an investment in your future. Continuing education.

If you were playing a video game, you’ve just received a key that will get you to the next level.

There’s a writers conference out there calling your name. You may need to save some cash to go, but it’ll be worth every penny. I’m going to two this year. Kentucky Christian Writers Conference in Elizabethtown, Kentucky (June 23-25), and the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Nashville, Tennessee (August 25-28).  I’ve linked them for you, so you can check them out.

Have you attended a conference recently, or in the past? What was your favorite part? My favorite memory is of a connection I made with a published writer who encouraged me to stick with it. Don’t give up. She made me feel that I had a purpose. I’m forever grateful.

If you were looking for news about our upcoming mission trip to Cuenca, Ecuador — I’ve delayed the post until Tuesday, June 28 so I can give you the most up-to-date news possible. There’s a lot happening! 🙂