Still Saturday: A Weekend Blessing

Thanks to Ann Voskamp for pointing me to this moving song of personal offering by Paul Baloche. I’m passing it along as a Still Saturday  blessing this Christmastime weekend…

~

Linking with Sandra Heska King for Still Saturday

StillSaturday

~  ~  ~

Remembering Sara

BlogBlank

“At times our own light goes out
and is rekindled by a spark
from another person.
Each of us has cause to think
with deep gratitude
of those who have lighted the flame
within us.”

(Albert Schweitzer) 

Light

Two years ago today a very special light went out in our world. Sara Frankl, known around the blogosphere and by her family and friends as Gitz, died. She had a disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis, a genetic, systemic, autoimmune disease.

Sara was a person who had every reason to complain, but instead she chose a more positive route. On her ‘Gitzen Girl‘ blog she said, “I’m just a girl who used to write for a magazine to make a living, and now writes a blog to make a life. Extremely blessed, well-loved and choosing joy while learning that homebound doesn’t limit your life, just your location.”

Sara & Riley

(Sara and her Riley, borrowed with thanks from the Gitzen Girl blog)

In one of her later blog posts she explained that she was allergic to most of the drugs the doctors would have liked to give her, and “the one medication I take for the disease [other than the pain killers] I can only take in a limited amount before my white counts drop to a level the doctors aren’t comfortable with. In other words, I’m stuck. And I’ve exhausted every option. And yes, I’ve tried homeopathic things that were worse for me than any drug I’ve ever taken. I spent years fighting, and I will always try what I can in the future, but accepting what is, living with it, embracing it and finding joy in it is the only way I know how to live a productive life.”

She was a light in so many lives, right up until hers flickered out. But her life continues to inspire. It was because of Sara that my focus word in 2011 was “Joy“. That year hers was “Praise“. Through her I found Ann Voskamp‘s ‘A Holy Experience‘ website and later, Ann’s book, ‘1000 Gifts‘ that urges us to thankfulness by living fully and counting small everyday joys.

The (in)Courage community created a video about her for their online conference last year… ‘Sara’s Story‘. When you have a half hour to spare I encourage you to watch it. Or hop over to SoundCloud and listen to her sing. I hope you’re provoked to Choose Joy for yourself.

I’m remembering Sara today.

~

“In the same way,
let your light shine before others,
so that they may see your good works
and give glory to your Father
who is in heaven.”

(Matthew 5:16)

~  ~  ~

 

Friday Findings…

DSC04694

Another week concludes, bringing us closer to the end of summer. I haven’t taken a significant blogging hiatus yet this year, but after helping one part of our family with their house-hunting and then their moving experience this month, and getting ready to help another move in two weeks, I think a little break is in order during the continuing chaos. I’ll try to pop in occasionally with some photography posts, but you may not hear much from me here over the next little while.

But whether it’s here or somewhere else, you can always count on lots happening around the internet and blogosphere. For instance, here are some of today’s findings that I found interesting…

~

With his sixth novel, HEART FAILURE, soon to be released, there’s a Facebook announcement from Richard Mabry that his first medical mystery, CODE BLUE, is free today on Kindle, http://tinyurl.com/jwe8be6, Nook, http://tinyurl.com/kovls2a, and ebook, http://tinyurl.com/k943z5d. What a perfect time to get introduced to his “Prescription for Trouble” series. Even if you’re reading this too late to get it free, I think you’d enjoy picking up his ‘medical suspense with heart’ books.

 ~

Valerie Comer and Angela Breidenbach use an engaging way to announce the contract signings for their September 2014 release of their two novellas in CHRISTMAS TIARA, that mixes “tiara talk with farm lit and Christmas” — check out their video here.

~

Here’s an earlier-this-week blog post from Laura Best with the final cover reveal for her next novel, FLYING WITH A BROKEN WING, which will be releasing at the end of September.

~

From Sue Harrison, a post reflecting on her week of virtual book touring, which celebrated the recent release of her six Alaska books in eBook format. There’s also a brand new video introduction to Sue that I’m sure you’d enjoy. You’ll find it here.

~

Also found a couple FB posts by Sheila Seiler Lagrand alluding to an upcoming Christmas collection called THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS. “Kathi Macias is our ringleader,” says Sheila. “We each will contribute a story in which all the action takes place on a single one of the twelve days leading up to Christmas. Each of the twelve stories will be released individually as an e-book.” Keep your eyes open for this one.

 ~

Denise Jaden’s “Friday Four” post today presented the cover for her February 2014 release, FAST FICTION:

“Fast Fiction is a quick, inspirational, step-by-step and day-by-day guide to writing a structurally sound and engaging first draft in the shortest amount of time possible. It provides a great starting point for writers as they ditch time-wasters, detour frustration, and overcome self-doubt, and it helps them decide where to go with their story and how to get there quickly, with results. Told in the empathetic and accessible voice of an author who can provide an insider’s look at her own craft and publishing experiences, Fast Fiction provides readers with their own writing coach as they embark on a quick, fun, and challenging 30 days to a first draft.”

~

Take a break to listen to this hand-clapping, toe-tapping music video via a link posted by Donna Pyle, founder of Artesian Ministries. She says, “Such a cool, original way to make traditional music fresh for the next generation.”

 ~

I’m told C.J. Box’s just released mystery, THE HIGHWAY, is a goosebump-raising change of pace from his Joe Pickett series. I’ve been a fan of his mystery stories right from the beginning. Now I’m not sure which to read first, THE HIGHWAY or BREAKING POINT, his latest Joe Pickett book.

 ~

And for my fellow pet owners, a FB link via Sandra Heska King, with news of a dog and cat food recall:

Both Iams and Eukanuba brand dry dog and cat food are being recalled. Both have the “best by” dates within the first two weeks of November 2014 and could be tainted with Salmonella.

~

There! With all that shared, hubby, dog and I are back to helping fill and empty packing boxes while enjoying the company of children and grandchildren. What are YOU up to this weekend?

~  ~  ~

Going Green?

BlogBlank

Leafy greens

Ecologically green

Greenhorn cowboy

Greenstick fracture

Green apples

~

No matter what version you favour, come mid-March there’s really no other green
except an Irish one. It was St. Patrick’s Day yesterday. I wasn’t particularly innovative,
but I wore green, and my visiting daughter baked a batch of green cupcakes for her girls.

DSC00843

There was a time — my children will vouch for it — when there was green porridge
in the morning, green milk and green cream cheese sandwiches in the lunch kits,
and probably green mashed potatoes at the dinner table.
What can I say? I’m Irish, but in a ridiculously Canadian kind of way.

~

Shamrocks

Blarney Stones

Irish Cream Creme Brulee 

An Irish Wolfhound if you like big dogs

or a Soft-coated Irish Wheaten Terrier if you don’t

Maybe a little Irish Step-dancing

Rainbows and Pots of Gold

A pint of Guinness

Leprechauns

Oh, it wouldn’t be St. Patrick’s Day without leprechauns, mischief and a bit of music!
However you spent it, I hope you had a great day.

.

.

~  ~  ~

When is a piano like a story?

BlogBlank

The grand piano at our church ended up on its side today. I watched with sweaty hands as the two men detached the lyre and a leg, tipped the piano over and removed its brass wheels.

DSC00817

DSC00818

There’s a good reason for what they were doing. The nearly-700 pound instrument needs to be moved occasionally and its little two-inch brass wheels push the carpet along, causing it to stretch and bulge. There’s also every possibility of a move one day breaking off a piano leg! They aren’t as sturdy as they look.

We decided the solution was to install a “truck dolly” — a heavy spider-like metal device which supports the piano legs. The dolly’s five inch rubber wheels with ball bearings allow the piano to be easily moved with a gentle push. The service techs knew what had to be done and how to do the task without damage to the piano. While I understood that, I still cringed as I watched them wrestle the weighty instrument to the ground.

DSC00820

I was there to open the church doors, supervise the installation and eventually hand over the necessary cheque, but of course I had also brought my camera along and I took pictures. Tonight as I review the photos I am struck by the similarity of the procedure to my manuscript revisions and rewrites.

We focus on getting our stories written because, after all, how often have we heard, “You can edit anything except a blank page?” We keep writing, and much like Topsy the story keeps growing as we work toward a novel-length word count.

The strange thing is, when we finally reach the end we may be holding a word-weighted tome that isn’t finished at all. It needs help. The plot doesn’t move smoothly. Even if we edit and revise, pushing the words around until the story is in danger of collapse, it often isn’t until someone more knowledgeable — an experienced critique partner or editor — gets hold of it, that a solution is found. Among other things, shoring up the story may mean getting rid of inadequate scenes or reinforcing the plot with stronger characters.

As nervous as I am about letting others get their hands on ‘my baby’, I know the right support will strengthen it.

Do you seek out advice from beta readers and critique buddies? How willing are you to take the advice of those who might suggest major changes in your manuscripts?

DSC00827

~  ~  ~

Mixed Messages

On our last trip this sign made my eyebrows go up. Talk about a mixed message! Which was it going to be — bare roads or snow-packed ones? It sounded like the Department of Highways was covering its backside, but after a few miles we discovered the bare highway actually did become slushy, then snow covered.

MixedMessages

I’ve given off my own mixed messages at times. I’ve said with conviction that I need silence when I write… that I rarely have music on in the background. And now I’m sharing my newest addiction: a background music site, Songza. I’ve also moaned occasionally about all our rain… and then have to admit to loving this Rainy Mood website that provides the cozy background sound of rain layered with occasional rumbles of thunder to set the mood as I work on another mystery.

Many thanks to Leanne Shirtliffe at Wordbitches for sharing these as two of her six ‘must have’ apps and websites for writers. Today’s changing technology offers writers lots of assistance. It’s all right to take advantage of it even if doing so is contrary to what you may have said in the past.

When I complain about my TBR (to be read) pile of books never diminishing, I suppose I’m sending another mixed message by admitting I’ve found a wonderful new website, The 49th Shelf, that calls itself a “one-of-a-kind resource for discovering, discussing, and indulging in Canadian books.” And while I am a loner when it comes to writing efficiently, I found myself agreeing with a recent post on the Writer Unboxed blog that discusses the realities of a writer’s support team.

So am I conflicted, or are all these ‘mixed messages’ simply a sign of a complex writer’s mind? (I’m trying to keep a straight face here!) ;) I’m honestly not sure!

Are there areas where you have conflicting ideas or attitudes? How do they affect your writing?

~  ~  ~

Christmas Joy!

.

DSC09226

.

“Joy to the World , the Lord is come!

Let earth receive her King;

Let every heart prepare Him room,

And Heaven and nature sing.”

~

 “For to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Luke 2:11 [RSV]

.

~  ~  ~

The Music of Words

This incredibly heavy box of music is sitting in the middle of my kitchen. It represents over a decade of choral music collected by one of our church accompanists. In the same way as I hoard books, she hoards music, and for the same reason – it speaks to her.

She needed to downsize and was returning a portion of her collection. While I sorted through the six hundred-or-so octavos and several music books, I couldn’t ignore other similarities.

Notes build phrases of melody that blend into harmony, creating music that sings in my heart.

Letters become words and sentences, and grow into stories that beguile my imagination.

Both transport me to a new place. The creativity required to produce the best form of both is art, and originates somewhere deep within. When it is well done, it impacts those who listen… and read.

The creativity represented by all this music staggers me. Each song is unique and represents hours, days, months or maybe even years of the composer’s time. More significant is the piece of its creator’s soul that is embedded in the reality of each.

Composing words and music are both forms of writing, totally different, and yet so very much the same.

~

If you are a writer, do you find your creativity spills over into other forms of art?

~  ~  ~

Graphics by digitalart

 

Music in Our Manuscripts

When my aunt mentioned in a recent blog post that she used to play her accordion for dances and earn one dollar per hour back in 1940, it started me thinking about an accordion I once had. Unlike hers, it wasn’t new when I acquired it, and I could never play it well enough for anyone to even tap a toe, let alone dance to any of my tunes, but at the time it satisfied my adult longing to tinker with a keyboard.

The accordion didn’t come with a case so during one of our early moves it was packed into a box. Soon after, we bought a piano and I took lessons along with our children. Through the years my two daughters overtook my modest ability and I gained a lot of pleasure just listening to them play.

The piano made several moves with us, but I lost track of the accordion. Eventually we decided the piano would be better used by our younger married daughter (her sister already had a piano), and it made the journey to her home carefully wrapped and strapped into the back of our truck. Now one of her daughters also plays it. (It’s the granddaughter’s hands I photographed for a post earlier this spring.) Music plays a major role in the lives of both our daughters, providing for creative and emotional self-expression, and I’m delighted to see the piano helping another generation start along a similar path.

I mused about the old accordion during a visit with my aunt last Thursday, wondering whatever became of it. Then, last night, my husband came upstairs from the basement bearing none other than my old 12 bass Camerano accordion! He went looking for the box and found it. (What a blessing he is!) Other than testing it out, I haven’t dared to try playing it. That will wait for a time when I’m alone in the house!

One of the questions it brought to mind is how often novelists give their characters musical instruments — not just guitars to be played around campfires in a western setting, or a pianoforte in historical fiction. There have to be many other opportunities. Using all the senses brings our stories alive, but too often we limit sensory experiences to what is seen, when sounds, smells, touch and taste would also enrich.

Do you play a musical instrument? Do any of the characters in your stories play? How does it impact the character or scene?

~

 “Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.”

Psalm 95:2

~  ~  ~