How precious are Your thoughts to me, O LORD ... how vast is the sum of them!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Authorly Bucket List

Today I’m doing another fun blog tag, for which Deborah O’Carroll of The Road of a Writer tagged me. Thank you, Deborah! You get hold of the most entertaining tags! Click on this link to see what she put down and click here to see the original, created by Erin Kenobi.

So, the Authorly Bucket List. (“Otherwise known as the Stuff-I-Need-To-Practice-More-Slash-Stuff-I’d-Like-To-Be-Better-At Tag. Basically, the idea is to list a few things you’re not very good at, and a few things which you’d like to try. Three to seven of each should be a good number.” - Erin Kenobi) Time to challenge myself and get a little convicting here …

Things I’m Not Very Good At

Knowing what to leave out. I love a wealth of details in a story, but I admit, if overdone, they slow the story down and make it less exciting. Since I love detailed description and character studies, it’s hard for me to measure how much other readers enjoy and therefore … what I should leave out to improve the story for them.

Writing quickly. It takes me suuuuch a llllooonnnggg time to finish anything because 1) I don’t write very much in one sitting (an average of 500 words, perhaps); 2) words don’t rapidly flow out of me as I type (probably because I’m not concentrating well); 3) I don’t write every single day; 4) I’m a perfectionist; and 5) I ruminate a long time.

Suspense. I like a good action/suspense/thriller novel every so often, but it’s not really “me.” However, there is a type of suspense that doesn’t hang on the question, “Will they come out alive???” and I’d like to get better at that … making readers desperate to know what will happen next in the plot, i.e., what this girl will say to this guy tomorrow, or what this man will decide to do when confronted with this situation, or how these characters will change on the other end of their trip.

Dialogue. Hearing my characters speak. I want to make every word realistic, and every character’s dialogue ring true for their personalities, so they could be recognized even without a dialogue tag. 

Plots. I struggle sometimes coming up with exciting twists and turns that build a story, especially in the middle.

These are only the things I can think of now … but I know there are more areas I could improve in!

Things I’d Like To Try

A light fantasy that’s set in a non-magical, made-up country or world—I get to build the history and the cultures, but I don’t have to worry about making up new physical laws or anything like that. This would also include battles, sword fights, and martial arts fights … other things I want to try!

A straight mystery. I loved Nancy Drew stories growing up, and other detective mysteries are so enthralling as well … I’m not sure I’m smart enough to be a mystery writer, but it sure would be fun to attempt!

Travel writing. I love nature and scenery and the uncharted feels of new places … almost every place on this beautiful earth (or above it!) makes me feel something unique, and I love exploring how emotions and scenery and memories all weave together to make powerful, life-changing and life-enhancing impressions.

Children’s stories for and about homeschoolers.
Growing up, I thought books with homeschooling protagonists were some of the best reads … I want to give that to homeschoolers of a new generation, so they know their lives and experiences are cool and worth reading about.

A story that takes place in Israel.
I have an idea, but it would require travel and lots of research to do it to my satisfaction.

Historical fiction—in any and all settings! I’m interested in so many … I’ve worked in the Regency England world and the American Great Depression, but there are others that catch my eye: the late Middle Ages, the Dark Ages, the Victorian era, the Edwardian era, the Georgian era, the Reformation … *deep breath* I suppose I just need to take them one at a time. 

So, yes, this is my bucket list. Items may drop off it, and others might get added on, but for now these are the most important to me!

Consider yourself tagged if you’d like to do this! Or, if you prefer, answer the questions in the comments. I’d love to hear what’s on your authorly bucket list!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Where I Write and a “New” Venture

I don’t know about you, but I rarely think about where authors actually poise their physical selves while their minds trip off to the settings of their stories. (It has to be comfortable, I know.) But it’s an interesting question, and makes me wish I could see where each of my writing friends and other favorite authors create their masterpieces. 

Or this?

Which is why the second video prompt in the Read-to-Win series is intriguing: In the “Where We Write” posts, discover the diverse array of places where a variety of young authors park themselves to write. You might even get a helpful new idea if you ever need to change your writing spot! This is a link to the post that contains my video, but you can click on the newer posts to see the others.

Where do you write? Do any of these authors’ writing spots resemble yours?

And about my “new” venture … I’ve been a copy editor/proofreader for a while, both for a magazine and for some friends’ novels, and I’ve also taken a copy editing course, but only this year have I branched out into paying clients (praise God for it!). I love polishing a manuscript, so it’s a fun way to earn a bit of money. This venture now has its own page on my website, which makes it official—and hence my announcement.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Favorite Screen Characters Tag

I was tagged by the lovely Deborah O’Carroll of the lovely blog Road of the Writer for the Favorite Screen Characters Tag. At first I thought, I can’t do this! I’ll never be able to decide. But it sounded like fun, and I wanted to get my readers involved, so here I am with a list. Thank you for tagging me, Deborah! The rules are to name your ten favorite characters from movies and TV shows. I agree with Deborah—it’s hard to limit it to ten, but I think this is a pretty good selection of who would be my favorite … I will have to say, however, that I restricted my Lord of the Rings characters to just two in order to keep them from overwhelming my list and so I could provide more variety. So as not to have to select one single picture, I did a Bing Images search for each character so you could see a “montage” of them.

Not in any particular order:

1. Eowyn – The Two Towers and Return of the King. Brave, devoted, steps up to fight yet still womanly. Images

2. Faramir – The Two Towers and Return of the King. He, too, is brave yet overlooked (by his father), leading his people’s troops though he does not enjoy fighting. Images

3. Cordell Walker – Walker, Texas Ranger. A Texas ranger who fights crime with a high sense of honor and justice and spectacular martial arts skills. Images

4. Tim Taylor – Home Improvement. I grew up watching his show, and he made me laugh. Fond memories. Images

5. Elinor Dashwood – Sense and Sensibility (as played by Emma Thompson). Elinor is my favorite book character as well … strong, sensible, kind, a heroine in the genteel world of Regency England. Images

6. Elizabeth Bennet – Pride and Prejudice (as played by Jennifer Ehle). She is bright, clever, honest, and true. Plus she lives in Regency England. Images

7. Hawkins – The Court Jester. My favorite Danny Kaye character. He’s an unlikely hero who’s brave, hilarious, and kind. Images

8. Wesley – The Princess Bride. Daring, handsome, brilliant, funny—plus the hero of one of my favorite movies. Images

9. Indiana Jones – Indiana Jones. On the surface supposedly a prim archaeology professor, but he gets into the most fascinating adventures. He’s resourceful and humorous and fights for the good. Images

10. Fa Mulan – Mulan. She reminds me of Eowyn. Out of love for her father she goes to fight instead of him (and learns spectacular martial arts skills) and saves China. Images

Looking at my choices, there is a bit of a theme—most of them are called upon to be extraordinarily brave—beyond their strength and what they think they are capable of.

Who are your favorite screen characters? Do you share my enthusiasm for any of the above people?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Bounded by Books - To List or Not to List?

Reading lists. I usually view them askance, as something akin to required reading, which isn’t fun like the liberty of an unbounded field of choices. I usually don’t know what I’ll read after my current book until I’m finished, and I like the suspense and the freedom (not to sound silly, but it does feel a little like setting out on a road trip where your boundaries are suddenly expanded hundreds or thousands of miles). In high school, I was part of a homeschool literature club (one of the most fun things I’ve ever done—I’ll have to write about it sometime!) and we read a classic a month. Sometimes it took me the whole month to read it (The Hunchback of Notre Dame or The Last of the Mohicans, anyone?), so while I loved reading classics, I felt like I never had the chance to read whatever I wanted. My route was always mapped out for me (I wouldn’t trade it for any other reading experience, however!).
A Giant Stack of Books in Germany - wikimedia commons

So I’ve never made anything more definitive than an “I’d like to read this someday” list; until this month that is, when I had to assemble one for the Read-to-Win program … it was my duty as a participating author. To see a photo of me with books stacked as high as my chin (okay, I’m not that ambitious—I was holding them) and my full list, click here. (I got a kick out of Katie Lynn Daniels' description of her reading list, too!)

But now that I’m committed to this list, I feel a sense of calm and orderliness. The task of deciding what I’ll be reading in the next three months is accomplished ahead of time, and accomplishing things early is a nice thing to do, isn’t it? These are books I’ve wanted to read for some time, and I still have the liberty of picking what order I read them in, so I don’t feel unduly confined.

So, are you as rigid a list-maker as a college professor? Or are you free-spirited and like the adventure of not knowing what book is around the corner? What books do you definitely want to read this summer?

Thursday, June 4, 2015


I am very excited to be participating in Homeschooled Author’s summer reading contest, Read-to-Win, where readers compete to win a $100 Amazon gift card by writing book reviews. Thirteen authors will be featured over the summer, each week sharing a video or a photo of themselves. Also each week one author will have the digital copy of one of his or her books on sale for $0.99 so readers can purchase them, read them, and write a review for Amazon. Want to know more? Go here.

It’s the tiniest bit stressful to make a video of myself, especially since I’ve never done it before; but it’s also fun, because I enjoy seeing videos of people I know only online. I get to know them a little more; I can hear their voice and see their mannerisms. So maybe other people appreciate the opportunity to see me … (at least, that’s what I tell myself to boost my confidence.) So if you’re curious, you can go here to see the video introducing me. Check out the other authors’ videos, too! They’re only about a minute long each.

But wait, there’s more news to accompany all of this! This first week of Read-to-Win just so happens to be the week my eBook of Family Reunion (Six Cousins, Book 1) is on sale. I encourage you to keep up with the Read-to-Win challenge, because you’ll get a lot of fun eBooks for $0.99 apiece, help authors out by writing reviews, and potentially win a $100 Amazon gift card to buy even more books! (That’s what I’d do with it, anyway!)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Coffee Cake, Anyone?

Today I am thrilled to participate in author Amanda Tero’s blog tour to celebrate the release of her newest short story, “Coffee Cake Days”!

I have been so blessed to have gotten to know Amanda Tero online. Her heart for God is inspiring, and I’m excited about the impact her stories (as well as her music and the other things she does!) will have on people. We all need to be returning to God’s Word and making Him our life, which is what she encourages!

My review: “Coffee Cake Days” was short and sweet with a powerful lesson. The main character, Meg, is fully relatable and even though I’m not the oldest of several siblings, I was able to imagine myself in her position. The principle of servanthood is something that we can all take to heart, no matter our place. I especially loved how the Bible verses that Meg reads teach her the right thing to do. This story was at once both heartwarming and convicting!

Review of “Maggie’s Hope Chest,” another short story by Amanda Tero: I read “Maggie’s Hope Chest” twice so the spiritual message could fully sink in … and it was more touching the second time through. What Maggie learned is something that really hits me because I have had to constantly regulate my attachment to my possessions.
I enjoy how Miss Tero makes Maggie’s Bible study, prayers, and conscience-wrestling the drama of the story. It’s realistic to whoever has searched out God’s will on a matter or been trying to avoid something God wanted them to do. The joy that comes at the end is real!
This little story will get you thinking: “Have I really given God all that I have?”

Amanda Tero is a homeschool graduate whose desire is to provide God-honoring reading material.
Her current projects include short stories and novels-in-progress. When she was a young teenager,
Amanda was obsessed with writing. However, the Lord helped her to realize that she was writing for
her personal pleasures and purposes - not His. For several years, she put away pleasure writing" and
wrote mainly Biblical articles for several years (which she still continues). She found the time of writing silence beneficial in gleaning from God's Word and strengthening the focus of why she writes. Since 2013, the Lord directed her to begin writing fiction again. Her desire is to glorify and exalt God in all of her writing. She desires to challenge girls to focus on their relationship with God and grow in Him and His Word. If something she has written draws an individual into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, it is worth it!