Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Be SMART: Prioritize Your New Year’s Goals

With the new year only days away, many people will be making resolutions that they probably won’t keep, regardless of their good intentions. I don’t mean to sound pessimistic; after all, I like to set goals each year too. However, I’ve observed that if people actually kept their resolutions, the media probably wouldn’t report on the same ones every year.
That raises the question: Why don’t people keep their resolutions?
A couple years ago, my supervisor introduced me to the SMART mnemonic for setting and achieving objectives. Whether you’re applying it to your professional or personal life, it may help you define your goals or refine them as the year progresses.
In short, SMART stands for:
“S” – Specific
“M” – Measurable
“A” – Attainable
“R” – Relevant
“T” – Time-bound
Here’s a practical example: You’re a writer. Your goal is finish your rough draft by July. That sounds like a specific goal and a time-bound one. However, it lacks “meat.” You have to flesh out the details. How are you going to measure your progress and attain the goal? Perhaps you have to reserve so many hours a week to write or set word count benchmarks.
By nature, I am a planner, so creating a list of SMART goals isn’t difficult for me. I’ve discovered that the heart of the matter is setting priorities. As the year begins, I find myself “taking on” too much– and I know I’m not the only overachiever out there.
For 2012, the magic word for me be “prioritizing.” Perhaps it will be the same for you.
As I look back on my list of goals for 2011, I am happy to say I was able to cross several off the list and honest to say that some will be rolling over to 2012. But that’s the beauty of a new year. As Anne Shirley told Marilla in Anne of Green Gables, “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
What are your goals as a writer this year? How do you intend to stick to them?

Monday, December 5, 2011

What We Can Learn from “A Wonderful Life”

One thing I enjoy this time of year is watching the Christmas specials like “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” One of my friends recently reminded me of a line that guardian angel Clarence tells George toward the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Clarence says, “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
We as writers can get easily discouraged. An e-newsletter I receive from American Christian Writers noted that writing is a profession with a 99 percent rejection rate. Ouch.
By nature, we want to succeed. As writers, we want to make a difference. However, many times, we simply can’t know what impact our writing is making in other people’s lives.
I like what Helen Keller said. Though she was not talking about writing, I can see an application for writers. She said, “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”
That reminds me very much of something Jesus told his disciples in Luke 16:10. He said, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.”
As Clarence told George, we may never know what an “awful hole” we would leave if we weren’t around. We may not be able to see the impact of our writing, but we can trust that at least in some small way, our writing is touching someone’s life. So press on.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Self-Publishing My Story: One Year Later, Part 2

One of the best moments in my self-publishing experience was receiving the package that contained the first copy of my printed book. That copy represented so much hard work come to fruition.
However, for me –as for any self-published author – it also represents much hard work yet to come. Last time, we started to take a candid look at self-publishing, and I’d like to offer some additional thoughts from personal experience.
Megaphone Marketing
If you’re not an assertive person by nature, marketing your self-published book is going to be the hardest part of the process.
Even if you are an assertive person, finding the time to market your book – unless you have the luxury of not working a full-time job – will be a challenge.
In all honesty, writing your book and getting it published is a breeze compared to marketing. Make the most of free tools like Amazon’s Author Center. Write your own press releases and publish them on services like Find out if your alma mater will consider carrying your book in their campus store.
In short, get creative.
The Journey is What Matters
You may have heard the saying by Ursula K. LeGuin, “It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
That quote aptly describes how I view my self-publishing story. Do I want my book to be successful? Of course. Am I writing book two? Absolutely.
But self-publishing isn’t a walk in the park. You sometimes have to lay aside your “great expectations” and set realistic goals. You have to understand that you will be doing all the heavy lifting involved and that you are a marketing department of one.
Yet despite the challenges, self-publishing is rewarding. It is a journey. It is a chance to share creativity and meaning with others.
So would I do it again? I smile and say, “Yes.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Self-Publishing My Story: One Year Later, Part 1

This November – the 30th to be exact – marks the one-year anniversary of self-publishing book one in my Wings of the Dawn planned series. As I look back over my self-publishing adventure, I want to offer an honest perspective on self-publishing and answer the question perhaps you are wondering, “Would you do it again?”
Remove the Rose-Colored Glasses
All writers – self-published or not – dream of seeing their books lining the shelves of bookstores and topping the New York Times’ Best-Seller list.
There is a time to dream, but there is a time to set realistic expectations as well. If you are considering self-publishing, now is that time.
First, understand that you will have some stiff competition. According to Publisher’s Weekly, 764,448 titles were produced in 2009 by self-publishers.
Also, there is no guarantee that you will see ROI on the cost of self-publishing. In his article Self-publishing a book: 25 things you need to know, David Carnoy offers this statistic, “The average self-published book sells about 100-150 copies--or 2/3 to 3/4 of your friends and family combined (and don't count on all your Facebook acquaintances buying).”
You need to ask yourself the question, “Why do I want to self-publish?”  If the answer is, “To make a lot of money,” self-publishing may not be the solution for you.
I view self-publishing as an investment. Of course, it is a financial investment – averaging between $1000 and $5000, according to another article from Publisher’s Weekly. Beyond that, it is an investment of time, creativity and passion.
If you just look at numbers, you may not see the return you want. If you look at self-publishing as the achievement of a personal goal – as the chance to put your story in someone’s hands and help make a difference in someone’s life – then you might find in self-publishing a large reward. And if your story just happens to start flying off the shelves, consider that icing on the cake.
You Are Going to Get Dirty
Roll up your sleeves, and be prepared to get dirty if you’re thinking about self-publishing. No one is going to do the work for you.
Yes, you can find a self-publishing company that does the type setting, designs a cover and gets your finished book available online. And yes, you will pay a fee for all of those services.
However, these companies don’t generally edit or proofread your work. Thanks to my background in English and the patience of my kind father, I didn’t have to hire an editor. But for many authors, getting professional editing is essential.
Besides the editing, you must take ownership for every aspect of the process. For example, my initial cover design failed my expectations. I spent hours researching the type of “girl” I wanted on my cover and making calls to my project manager at Xulon Press, the Christian self-publishing company I used.
I love my cover, and I think Xulon Press did an excellent job designing it. Just realize that if you’re self-publishing, you need to know exactly what you want and be creative in communicating your vision effectively. (For the record, I would recommend Xulon Press if you are shopping around for a Christian self-publisher. They offer several packages to fit your budget and work with you each step of the way.)
So would I do it again? Come back next week for more “hindsight” advice and my honest answer to that question.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Christian Fiction and Communicating Truth

Do you have to be a Christian writer to communicate truth in fiction? Last time, I asked that question, and today, I want to offer an answer and implications for Christian fiction writers.
To begin, let’s clarify that by truth, I’m not talking about facts such as historical accounts or scientific realities like gravity. Obviously, the encyclopedia and dictionary contain accounts and definitions which we generally accept as accurate – regardless who penned the words.
By truth, I am referring to a worldview that accurately pictures the eternal God in his relationship to mankind – He, the Creator and Redeemer; we, the created, fallen and redeemed – and yes, I would argue that the Christian writer has the best chance of portraying the correct relationship people have to each other and to God.
Let me clarify what I mean by worldview. Your worldview is the lens through which you see and experience life. I like the definition Francis A. Shaeffer, well-known author, philosopher and theologian, offered in his book How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture. He used the term presuppositions, meaning “the basic way an individual looks at life, his world view, the grid through which he sees the world.”
The question that naturally follows is this: How does the Christian writer present truth in storytelling without being didactic? Must Christian fiction writers always pen stories with a Christian message central to the plot?
I have two thoughts to share from the wisdom of two different college professors. One professor frequently reminded my class that our writing should not be “preachy.” And I agree. After all, no one likes someone "shouting at" or "lecturing" them.
The flip side is that we can do too thorough a job of being objective that we leave our readers without a trace of an underlying Biblical perspective. That brings me to my second professor. On one of my papers, she left this comment, which I will never forget.  She wrote, “The essay could have been written by an unbeliever. Should not everything we write identify that which defines who we are?”
The Christian fiction writer has a responsibility not only to remain true to the characters and plot but also to himself. After all, should not everything we write point to the One who redeemed us, who gave us a story to tell?
I used the word “worldview” earlier, and I am going to use it again, because the Christian worldview is at the heart of the matter. It influences everything I write – nonfiction or fiction. Undoubtedly, it should show in my writing.
Perhaps a story will not end with a clearly defined message of salvation. However, maybe it will present the theme of finding strength in Christ in our weakness and develop a dynamic character who grows through adversity. Or, perhaps the conflict will stem from mankind’s fallen human condition – pride or rejection of absolute truth and values – propelling the characters through a natural sequence of consequences.
In short, though a Christian thread may appear in the story, Christian truth itself may not always take the stage front and center.  C.S. Lewis seemed to be of that opinion when he said, “The first job of a story is to be a good story; and if God wants the story to carry a Christian message, that will come in of its own accord.”
There is clearly a balance, and every Christian writer, depending on his audience and genre, needs to find it for himself.  However, I would leave you with this challenge: Don’t be afraid to let your writing reveal that which defines who you are.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Truth in Fiction: Are You Reading Well?

A friend of mine came up to me recently and asked, “So, what are you reading these days?”
That is a good question to ask anyone in today’s culture where so many people simply prefer to watch television than open a book.  The average American above 15 years old spends 2.7 hours a day watching TV – which accounts for about half of a person’s daily leisure time – according to the latest American Time Use Survey Summary released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The amount of time spent reading varied greatly by age group, but young adults ages 15-19 averaged 6 minutes per weekend day. Ouch.
However, the point I want to make is not that people should read more – clearly an understatement in today’s society.
The question I want to probe today is this: What are we learning from what we read? In other words, are we reading well? For those of us who are writers, I add another question: Are we writing well?
The answer to those two questions may be more closely connected than you may think.
I like what Neil Postman says in his book Amusing Ourselves to Death. While making the argument that the written word always carries meaning, he makes this statement: “A written sentence calls upon its author to say something, upon its reader to know the import of what is said.”
I see a two-fold responsibility in Postman’s statement. First, the author is responsible for saying something, and second, the reader is responsible for understanding the message conveyed.
Of course, every writer has something to say. As Postman says, “It is very hard to say nothing when employing a written English sentence.” So yes, every writer has an object – and a bias – in writing.
With that in mind, the reader should approach books with critical questions. What message is the writer conveying? Is the writer consistent in conveying that message? Is that message developed effectively and convincingly? In other words, the reader should be actively reading.
Perhaps you are wondering, “Ok, so I get how a nonfiction writer conveys truth, but what about a fiction writer? Don’t fiction authors just write make-believe stories?”
I would argue that the “make-believe” holds a unique power of its own. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.”
The power of fiction is that it uses the vehicle of our imaginations and actively involves us in the drama. We suffer through the protagonist’s mistakes, exult when the hero vanquishes the villain, or feel wronged when justice is not served.
Here’s another way to look at what we can learn from “make believe”: Fiction can depict human nature so well that in reading it, we discover something about ourselves in the process.
So I argue that truth is waiting to be found in fiction. Do you have to be a Christian writer to communicate truth? I’d like to leave you with that question to think about for next time.
Of course, there are bad fiction novels – bad either because they are written poorly or because they don’t say anything worthwhile.
Good or bad, we learn from what we read. So I ask you again: Are you reading well?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Missing the Cheese? It’s Time to Move On

Have you ever felt as if you’re watching your life go by – and you’re an observer and not a participant? Maybe that’s because your cheese has moved and you haven’t.
Cheese? Yes, cheese. That’s the analogy Spencer Johnson, M.D. uses for success and happiness in his bestselling book Who Moved My Cheese?
The setting is Chicago where some friends have gathered after their high school reunion. Looking back, life hasn’t treated them quite as they expected it would. One of the friends, in talking about how his life has changed, mentions a story that made a big difference in his perspective. At the request of his friends, he tells the story of two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two Littlepeople named Hem and Haw.
Stop right there. I know you are seriously thinking about never finishing this blog post – after all, two mice and two Littlepeople? Really? I know, it sounds strange, but keep reading.  It might help to understand that the short book, less than 100 pages, reads like a parable. The characters are imaginary, but if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll discover there’s a little bit of each of them in all of us.
At the beginning of the story, the characters are in a maze looking for cheese. You've probably heard the expression, “the maze of life.” That’s the reality of their situation: the maze is dark and is an easy place to get lost. But eventually, they find a huge store of cheese that from all appearances, will last forever.
It doesn’t, and the rest of the story explores how the four characters deal with the disappearance. Keep in mind that cheese is what makes you happy.
Some of the characters take the situation at face value and realize that since the situation has changed, they need to change too. Others don’t want to deal with the problem and rationalize the situation. Surely the cheese will return, because after all, aren’t they entitled to the cheese?
Some are fearful of moving on, because leaving their current situation means moving away from where they are comfortable. It could mean failure: What if they don’t find new cheese?
Johnson does an excellent job illustrating how people respond differently to change and the mindset change that must occur to overcome fear.  By the story’s end, he summarizes through one of his character’s experiences what he calls “The Handwriting on the Wall” – how to make the most of change.
We all want to be successful in life. If your cheese has disappeared or is starting to get old, do something about it, because, “things change and are never the same,” as Haw discovers. “That’s life! Life moves on. And so should we.”
For more information about this book, visit

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Writer’s Pep Talk: Building Strength from Failure

No one likes to fail. For a child, failing a test or a grade can be devastating. As adults, failing to be accepted into a college program or getting a desired job can be a hard blow. For writers, receiving a rejection letter to a book proposal or query can feel like the end of the world.
And yet, failure isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Oftentimes, it makes us stronger.  
Think about failure in terms of exercising. If you’ve had a personal trainer, gone to a gym or perhaps read books about working out, one expression you might have come across is this: pushing yourself beyond muscle failure.
Now what does that mean? Basically, when you’ve pushed your body to what feels like the limit and yet you push yourself even more, that’s when you build muscle.
Physically, going beyond the end of your strength means that next time, you’ll have strength to go even further. That’s endurance.
Applying that same principle to writing isn’t much of a stretch. Someone isn’t going to like your style. Someone is going to turn you down. Someone is going to criticize you.
So what. Press on.
There are dozens of stories about now-famous authors who were turned down. Check out the Schuler Books Weblog’s article called “30 famous authors whose works were rejected (repeatedly, and sometimes rudely) by publishers.”
One of those famous authors was ee cummings whose book of poetry The Enormous Room was rejected by 15 publishers before he self-published it. (Go self-publishing!) The ironic ending is that he dedicated the book to those same 15 publishers.
So yes, failure hurts, but we can choose to learn from it and be better for it.
Remember the words of Winston Churchill: “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
As C.S. Lewis said, “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.”

Friday, September 23, 2011

Blogging and Social Media: Principles in Action

Last week, I attended some professional blog training sponsored by my company in preparation to launch a new blog in November. The speaker was Bernie Borges, professional author, speaker and social media specialist. The half day training session gave me a lot of information to absorb and made me think to myself: Why wait until November to give some of these ideas a try when I can see how they work with my personal blog?

The first idea I wanted to test was that of commenting on posts from blogs of similar topics to raise your own blog’s credibility. So, I scrolled through the list of blogs that I follow and landed on a headline called Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers At Page One posted by Kristen Skunza at

That sounded like an interesting title to me, so I clicked on the link and discovered the article was for a book review. The book’s title immediately grabbed my eye, reminding me of another principle that Borges spoke about: the importance of visuals. Talk about a book cover that scores high marks for visual appeal: A bright blue watery backdrop puts the focus on a sole goldfish eyeing a small shiny hook – right underneath the title HOOKED in a crisp serif font.

By the end of Skunza’s review, I found myself making my way over to Amazon to add the book to my wish list.

That’s when I scrolled down to the reviews. The first review stopped me. The title read “Not So Great” and only gave the book 2 stars. Intrigued, I started reading.

The reviewer gave a thoughtful, in-depth explanation for the poor review, and by the time I finished reading the exposé, I decided not to add the book to my wish list after all.

That’s when I realized that I had just put into action another principle that Borges had discussed: the power of peers on our decisions in the age of social media. The irony of the situation is that these peers, sometimes referred to as “friends,” are people we will probably never meet, and yet we value their opinions because they share a common perspective. In this case, the reviewer and I shared the commonality of consumers – we both want to spend our money on something of value.

That’s not to say that the reviewer is necessarily “right”; I may thoroughly enjoy the book. What’s significant is that I may never buy the book in the first place, because of the reviewer’s opinion.

As I wrap up this exercise, a final principle specific to blogging comes to mind: conclude each post with a call to action. Borges clarified that the call to action doesn’t have to be of heroic proportions. It just needs to involve the reader.

So here it is: The next time you’re online, ask yourself how you’re influencing and being influenced by social media. The answer may surprise you.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Defeating the Writing Dull Drums, Part 2: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

As we saw last time, finding a physical activity to recharge our creativity and put our day job behind us is important to writing on a disciplined basis.
In addition to daily booster charges, we also need to look for opportunities that afford the chance to gain a new perspective – and new writing material.
This summer, I went to Nicaragua with a team of amazing, diverse people from my church Spring Hill Baptist Church and two other like-minded churches. Our three churches partnered with Chosen Children Ministries to go to Nicaragua and support their national team in any way we could.
Going on a mission trip will ultimately challenge your definition of what relying on God means – and open your eyes to see all the blessings we have back home. On a less serious note, it will also teach you that flexibility is essential and new experiences are not optional.
Be warned that you may not enjoy all of them. During the course of the week, I tried goat cheese and soggy plantains. I’m not going to sugarcoat: I strongly disliked them both.
I also learned how to communicate Christ’s love to people through an interpreter, explain games with a limited knowledge of Spanish, mix mortar, and organize crafts without tables, chairs and the smallest semblance of structure. And yet, I can’t even begin to explain how energy and enthusiasm soar – and yet they do! – even when air conditioning means pushing down the windows and roommates include ants, lizzards and roaches (thankfully, no bed bugs).
Going to Nicaragua is a big commitment and something that requires months of planning. The trip definitely challenged my comfort zone and introduced me to an abundant number of new experiences.
However, you don’t have to jump continents or cross language barriers to challenge your comfort zone. Little steps and decisions, like volunteering or trying something you don’t think you’ll necessarily enjoy, can afford the same kind of eye-opening results.
Challenge yourself to break out of your routine – maybe once a week or at least one a month. You may find the experience to be like my encounter with goat cheese: pungent and repulsive. Regardless whether you decide to go back for seconds, the experience will have taught you something about yourself and perhaps given you new inspiration for writing material.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Defeating the Writing Dull Drums, Part 1: Get Out of Your Cubicle

If you’re like me, you spend 40 hours a week in an office, working at a computer. For most writers, the art of writing alone doesn’t pay the bills (at least not initially), so we keep other jobs to support ourselves. The rhythm of a steady job can be comfortable and enjoyable. However, the repetition can also become mind-numbing.
After staring at a computer most of the day, the last thing I often feel like doing is sitting down in front of my laptop and writing. My day job has exhausted the creativity of a fresh mind, and I feel as though I’m in the “dull drums” – my analogy for writer’s block.
Self-starting writers realize that discipline is essential if their writing career is going to clear the runway. But the question remains: How do we keep ourselves motivated? How do we peel back the glaze from tired eyes and press through the mental fatigue?
Getting out of the cubicle is the first step. It’s not just the physical relocation of your body; it’s the mental reorientation your mind. Coming home, turning on the TV and being a couch potato is not the solution.
Find a physical hobby that can stimulate your energy and help shake off the lethargy. I like to take a bike ride around my neighborhood or sit down at the piano to practice. You many enjoy playing a few games of tennis or shooting basketball hoops. Sometimes, we have to settle for mowing the lawn or making the best of our household chores.
Whatever the task, it needs to help refocus your energy so that you shake off the cubicle mentality and arouse your creativity. Then, you can return to your desk less mentally fatigued and more focused on what you are truly passionate about: writing.
Next time, we’ll look at how getting out of your comfort zone can give you a new perspective and some fresh ideas for writing.

Monday, September 5, 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Promote Your Book by Writing Your Own Press Release

Being self-published holds its fair share of challenges. One question that often comes to mind: How can I self-promote my book without spending a lot of money?

Free press release services are a good place to start. Having a "professional" write your press release can cost you over a hundred dollars, so therein lies a motivation to write your own.

Type in “How to Write a Press Release” in your search engine, and you’ll find dozens of articles full of samples and tips. That being the case, I am not going to repeat how to write a press release.

However, if you’re looking for a place to get started, I’d like to recommend an article I found helpful when writing my first press release. In her post on The Writer’s Edge blog called “The Nuts and Bolts of Writing a Press Release,” Paula Margulies outlines key points for writing a good press release for your book.

To summarize, your press release should contain the following:
1.   First line: Your press release should begin with the words “For Immediate Release,” followed by the full date (month, day, year). 
2.   Headline: Think of the headline as the title of your press release. It should state in as few words as possible what is most interesting or exciting about your book.
3.   First Paragraph: Begin with the city and state where the content of your release is taking place, followed by the author's name, "hook" for your book and ISBN. Use active voice, and answer the 5 W’s. In short, give people a reason to want to keep reading.
4.   Informational paragraph: Provide a general summary and setting for your book.
5.   Quote (optional)
6.   Brief biography

There are dozens of free distribution sites available, but the one I’ve found easy to use is

You simply have to create a user name and password to set up your account and opt for the “free” service. (Of course, you can upgrade for a fee.) Once you have submitted your press release, it is easy and painless to edit it and view the number of hits.

So far, I’ve used this service to submit two press releases on my book Wings of the Dawn, Book 1. If you’re looking for some press release samples, you might be interested in these two:

If you are willing to invest some time and thought, you'll be able to write your own press release and use services like to self-promote your book without spending a dime.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Blogging with a Thesis

To be honest, I started this blog last year because I was self-publishing my first book, and after all, every author should have a blog, right?
I have since discovered that a blog just to have a blog is not a purpose in and of itself. A blog needs to have a focus, a thesis. I am apologizing that up until now, mine has been a little helter-skelter.
Live and learn. I think that through trial and error, I have uncovered my thesis.
Why do I want to blog? Well first, and selfishly, I want people to find and read my book. Authors, unless you’re the poet Emily Dickinson, want to promote what they have invested so much time and commitment into producing.
The bigger picture of why I want to blog is to tell other self-starting writers that it is possible to self-publish your book. Self-publishing is truly its own story and its own adventure. It is also a discipline. Every writer has to start somewhere, and self-starting writers need accountability. I’ll be yours if you’ll be mine.  
So here is my thesis, this blog’s statement of purpose, if you will: to share the challenges, adventure and achievability of self-publishing.
Ultimately, every writer has to have a purpose, a reason for writing. Mine is simple. I want everything I write to define who I am – a follower of Christ. I don’t want to be didactic or preachy. I just want to tell His story. In my fictional book Wings of the Dawn, Book 1, Captive Beneath the Bahamian Sky, I do this through believable characters who experience the mixed joys, failures and challenges of life, who learn that the only place to find satisfaction is in Christ alone.
So there you have my blog’s purpose and my motivation in a nutshell.  Here’s to a future of purpose-driven blogging. I hope the following posts will challenge and encourage other self-starting writers who aspire to be authors.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Try New Things

A must for any writer, and really for anyone who wants to expand their outlook, is to “try new things” – a phrase that parents love to use and kids hate to hear. Sorry, kids, but the parents are right on this one.

I admit that it’s not easy to do all the time, especially when by nature you are a vanilla ice cream and cheese pizza, no toppings, kind of person like I am. But getting out of your comfort zone and trying something that scares you a little is not going to kill you, will likely give you something to write about, and will possibly turn into something you actually enjoy.
A perfect “case in point” happened this weekend when I went kayaking with my friend Sarah down the Weeki Wachee River.  My friend is one of those try anything, go anywhere kind of girls. I tend to be more cautious and responsible. In high school, she was the one who broke down the hotel room door – after I had locked her out.
On one of the river bends, someone had nailed wooden boards to the side of a tall tree. Ten and twelve year olds were climbing up like monkeys and fearlessly jumping into the deep blue pool below.
My friend decided that if kids can do it, so can we. She climbed up high, slightly hesitated and then let go. Then, it was my turn. I think I made it up three of four steps and decided that was far enough. I counted to three and jumped.
My landing was awful. Instead of keeping my feet together, I must have been flailing, because my legs were red for ten minutes afterward. But the fleeting moment of falling before crashing into the cool water below was something I haven’t experienced since I was ten or twelve. So I climbed up the steps again, this time with much less hesitation.
We as adults tend to lose that sense of fearlessness and abandon. Twelve year olds don’t worry that they might break a leg if they miss the water – they just jump. Adults often won’t even take the first step, because all they see is a possible trip to the hospital instead of thinking about the enjoyment and adventure of the experience itself.
I’m not saying you should throw caution out the window. What I am saying is that you will likely discover that what you fear won’t happen and that instead, you will find yourself doing something you truly enjoy.
So take the leap. Try something that scares you a little. You might find yourself going back for round two.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Just Add Glitter

With just a little over a month to go, Team Nicaragua met this afternoon to share craft and Vacation Bible School lessons. The lessons will involve quite a bit of improv from team members to help act out the story presented by the narrator. Noah's Ark will be quite creative - with team members volunteering to dress up as everything from monkeys to elephants.

Each story will be accompanied by a craft, and our supplies must work for up to 200 children! The moral of the story? Keep it simple, and oh, just add glitter. By the end of the meeting, several team members were already covered in glitter from illustrating their crafts, so I can only imagine what we are going to look like in Nicaragua.

On a more serious note, we also reviewed our discipleship lesson material, which will focus on the character of the Christian.

The countdown has begun. My team and I covet your prayers as we prepare for this exciting adventure.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Follow Me to Nicaragua

In just a little over a month, I will be traveling to Nicaragua with a group from Spring Hill Baptist Church and Clearwater Community Church through Chosen Children's Ministries. My passport is in hand, so now I am brushing up my Spanish and starting a list of things to bring.

Follow me over the next month as I prepare for the journey! You are welcome to share any ideas and tips you have on traveling and missions trips. I am excited to see how God is going to work through my team and me - and ultimately grow us closer to Him.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

YouTube Video Trailer

Xulon Press, the company with whom I self-published, created a YouTube video trailer for my book.

Check it out at the link below.