Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Still Have a Year, right?

Well, I had posted on my FB page that I was planning on posting more over here... Book reviews, author interviews, giveaways, etc. Well, that hasn't happened for January, but I still have 11 months to make good on that promise! =D

I still plan to. However, January was a little busier than planned (isn't that normal), and I wasn't able to get interviews set up as quickly as I would have liked.

However, I'm still planning on doing those posts. So keep your eyes peeled! Because not only will I be doing an 'author spotlight' every so often to help out upcoming authors get their name out there, I also plan on doing some fabulous giveaways that writers and readers will love.

Until then, happy writing!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

"Sire, I have failed thee..."

Sir Hawthorn waited outside the King's chamber. He was nervous, which was unusual. On a normal day while visiting his King, he felt at peace, happy, and in awe to be in the presence of such a King as he had the pleasure of serving. But today... today was different. He had no happy tidings to bring, no questions or requests that needed answering. Today he was only to give an account of the recent quest he had returned from. 

"The King will see you now," the page announced. Sir Hawthorn jumped slightly, being drawn out of his reverie rather suddenly. He stood, nodded, straightened his uniform, and followed the page's lead. He tried to calm the nervous butterflies in his stomach, but to no avail. How was one supposed to even prepare for such a task as this?

As he entered his King's chamber, he took a deep breath and kept his eyes on the ground. He could not bring himself to look upon his King's majesty. Not like this. 

"Sir Hawthorn! My faithful servant, how are you?" The King exclaimed, coming down from the throne and extending his arms for a warm embrace. Sir Hawthorn ducked his head in a quick salute, but stepped back quickly to evade the embrace.

"My Lord, you will not think so highly of me once you have heard my news," Sir Hawthorn, eyes still lowered, willed his voice not to tremble. He had gotten the first part out. Now to just tell the news.

"What is it, my son? You do not need to fear telling me anything. Come, sit and talk," The King motioned to two chairs by a table. Sir Hawthorn reluctantly followed and took a seat beside his King. He felt ashamed to be sitting so near to Him. 

"Now tell me, what is it that troubles you?" the King asked, in a gentle voice. 

Sir Hawthorn did his best to keep the tears from rolling down his face, yet one escaped and slowly made a trail down his cheek. "I have failed you, my Lord. Yes, I have failed you," the last words were barely whispered.

"Ah, I see..... I believe I know what you are talking about," the King answered, slowly. 

"What? But how could you? I've only just returned," Sir Hawthorn replied, confused.

"Yes, that is so. But I still know. You feel you have failed because your recent quest failed. Is this correct?" 

Sir Hawthorn stared at the King for a moment, surprised. "Yes... yes, this is so," 

The King smiled sadly at Sir Hawthorn. "My son, you did not fail me. Not in the way you think. Your quest failed because it was a quest of your own making. I did not send you on the quest and you did not even seek my permission,"

"But I saw a need, Sire, and my desire to serve this need was great!" Sir Hawthorn argued.

"Indeed! I saw it was so. But still, this quest was not of my making and therefore, you feel as if you have failed because your quest did not end as planned."

Sir Hawthorn sat quietly, realizing his King's words were true indeed. 

"My son, did you receive my letter for the quest that I would have had you go on?"

"Yes," Sir Hawthorn replied quietly, once again looking at the ground in shame.

"And did you receive them before, or during your own quest?"

"Once before, sire, and once during," Sir Hawthorn replied, beginning to realize where this was going.

"Indeed, it was so. I knew you had gone on a quest of your own. I knew you were thinking of going on this quest before you even went! This was why I sent you the instructions for mine. And when you still left for your own, I sent you instructions once more, in hopes that you would listen and return home."

"But, my Lord, I felt that there was greater need for my quest. That it was more... important."

The King smiled sadly and looked into Sir Hawthorn's eyes. "And that, my son, is where you are very wrong. No quest of mine is too great or too small for the one I have given it to. You need only listen and fulfill that quest as best you are able in order to please me. I cannot make you go on the quests I send you. I do not want to make you. I wish for you to serve me with your whole heart and willingly because you choose to do so," 

"Yes, my Lord," Sir Hawthorn replied. "But the fact remains, that I *have* failed you,"

"Nay, that is not so. My quest is still standing. It still needs to be done. And there is time to complete it."

"But, my Lord.... I feel.. I feel as if I am not able to complete it. Not without your help," 

The King smiled and took Sir Hawthorn's hand. "And my help I will certainly give you, my son. You need only ask and I shall be by your side," 

Sir Hawthorn smiled and bowed his head, "Then I have only to receive Your instructions once again, my Lord, and I shall go on Your quest."

Have you ever felt like you 'failed' the Lord? Like He had given you a task to do, but somehow that task got lost among the many other 'bigger' things you could be doing?

I know I've had it. Many, many times. In fact, I had it just recently. The sense of failure. The knowing that I wasn't doing what I was supposed to be doing.

See, as a writer, we sometimes get stuck in this sense of 'must be doing, must be doing'. And we're finding out what the most popular genre is at the moment so we can write some epic and amazing novel to put out there on the shelves of millions of book stores around the world. We start losing track of what our main goal is.

My most recent one was NaNoWriMo. I've written before about why I love this contest, so I won't repeat it again. But I was ready to participate and win and write a novel that I would publish and would become New York's Best seller, etc, etc, etc.  But I had something missing in my plan. A really big thing; God. I didn't have God in any of these plans. Sure I sort of halfheartedly prayed that God would give me inspiration and guidance on how to write this novel, but I wasn't focused on serving Him in it. I was focused on serving myself. I was tired of only being known as a 'children's author'. I wanted to write something my friends would read and actually enjoy. I wanted to write something that would become popular and talked about. I, I, I, I..... it's all about self.

So one evening, while driving home from work, I turned on the radio and heard a song. I don't remember what it was called or who it was by. But I do remember this... it was talking about "less of me, more of You, that who I want to be,". And the words struck a chord in my heart as I realized, "Lord, I have failed you. You gave me a task. A task that I thought was too small and not big enough. I got caught up in what the World thought of me instead of seeking You on a daily basis,". I started crying. Because you know what? This wasn't the first time I'd made that mistake. No, sir. I wish it was, but it wasn't.

As I cried, asking the Lord for forgiveness. And as I prayed, He said to me, "You haven't failed. Do the task that I already gave you and seek Me on it."

And so, feeling renewed again to go about my task, I began afresh. And isn't that wonderful that we can do that? That the Lord's mercies are new EVERY morning? It's beautiful and humbling.

So I 'failed' NaNoWriMo. I didn't get in a word count. I didn't get very far in my story. But I learned something far more valuable from it than I could have ever learned on my own. I may never come out with some big novel that hits the top 10 in book stores. Yet I will have something far better because it is the task, the quest that the Lord has given to me. And it is my honor to complete it, despite what others say, despite what I think, and despite the nagging that Satan gives me to tempt me to do something else.

And I have a feeling that this time, with the Lord by my side on His quest, I won't fail.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sprinter Authors vs. Marathon Authors

For many of you, NaNoWriMo is half way through! For some of us who are just getting into it, it's only the beginning.

However, whether you be a late starter or one of the many crazy people who wait until the first wee hours of Nov. 1st to begin, we all have one thing in common:


Today, as I was taking a walk outside, I started to prepare myself mentally for the challenge up ahead. Due to a surgery that I recently had done and some other things going on, I have yet to officially start my NaNo project. Yes, I only have 17 days left. Yes, that means almost 3,000 words per day.... Yet, I'm determined to keep at it. Why? Because I'm stubborn. There really isn't much more than that...

However, I also have this thing called 'motivation'. See, one of the reasons why I have enjoyed NaNo, even though this will only be my second time doing it, is because it resembles a sprint. Short, sweet, hard, and to the point.

Since the day I was born, I was destined to be a sprinter. Why? It's simple: body build. Have you ever looked at the differences in the bodies of sprinters and marathon runners? Sprinters have built up that bulky muscle that delivers results quickly and in a powerful way. Marathon runners are lean, mean, and can run... and run.... and run... and... you get the point.

My body build is more similar to a sprinter... which isn't a problem because most tasks around here on the ranch require shorter, powerful bursts of energy (like chasing down a cow... and yes, that does happen frequently...)

However, what are our mind muscles like? And I say mind muscles to describe our thinking tanks...
Do we work in short bursts of inspiration, or are we able to see the long goal? For me, I tend to focus in on the short term. What can I get done today, where I am I going next with my story, etc. For others, they think out the long term. How shall I end my story, where will I tie it in with my next novel, and when can I start marketing?

As you may have guessed, similar to my body build, my mind build is more sprinter-like. I don't tend to think in long goals. I've always had trouble writing up an outline... I've been known to change my story up almost constantly... However, that's how I work best. It doesn't mean I'm a bad author for it, it just means that I work differently than others.

Some people can sit down and write for hours on end, knowing exactly where they are going with their story, how to get it accomplished, bada bing, bada boom.

Others, like me, usually wait to write until inspiration hits them. Then boom! We go all crazy, staying up until the wee hours of the morning, because we had a moment of inspiration and we must write it down!

To go back to our sprinters and marathon runners, it's rather interesting that they can only do the one thing they've trained for. Marathon runners couldn't compete in a sprint because they don't have enough powerhouse energy to win in short distances... but Sprinters would lose in a marathon because they only know how to give out short term bursts of speed... they don't know how to control their output.

I was thinking that it would be neat if writers could be a good mix of both. Sprinter authors like me tend to not get as much done... unless they've trained themselves to have dedication and perseverance. Marathon authors can sometimes go overboard with their writing. Yes, they know where they are going and how to get there, but sometimes they take the looong way around. As a reader, I always disliked books that were super descriptive (to the point of being super boring) or just dragged out the storyline. I used to joke with my family saying, "You know when this book was written, right? When they paid the author per word...."

So how in the world do we get a balance? Well, I can really only speak from my side of things. For us sprinters, we need to work on training ourselves. Don't lose your creative bursts of energy and inspiration, but learn how to channel that into more frequent writing times. Don't let weeks or months pass by without writing simply because you 'don't have the inspiration'... Trust me, it doesn't work out so well for you in the end. Instead, start training yourself by making yourself sit down and write. But here's a tip: the writing doesn't have to happen in your novel.. it could just be an email or a letter or a journal entry... but whatever you do, just write!

For you marathon authors, hone in on those creative juices. Discipline is good in book writing, especially if you want to do this for a living or you have a deadline to meet... but have fun with your writing. Don't make it a 'check list' item... If you do, it will become just that and your readers will know the difference. Trust me.

Let's become Marathinters. Ready to reach the long goal, but focusing on those shorts bursts as we go along our way.

So put your music on, get that cup of coffee or tea or whatever drink you like while writing, and let's finish up November with a whopping 50,000!!!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Melody of Life

The melody of life though very old and frail,
Yet strong and firm as a navy ship's sail.
Each note sings of joys and sorrows,
The wonder of mercies new on the 'morrow.

Though no one can see it 
Though only the bearer can hear it,
It floats on heavenly wings to you and me,
Breathing life into everything we see. 

Each note brings something new
To ponder and question alike.
Much like the bright morning dew,
It sparkles and dances in the sunlight.

Each new day a bar and measure
Every moment a note to savor.
The melody of life flows strong in the veins,
Untouchable and unbreakable in life's stormy rains.

Yet many do not listen to this melody so strong,
Ignoring it for material and worldly things instead.
For the beauty of this song lies not within itself,
But instead comes from the Giver of them all.

For He who gives the melodies so tender and so sweet,
Makes each one so very special and unique.
No two are ever quite the same,
Yet listen to the sound it makes.

The melody of life is one that covers all space and time,
Woven inside the magnificent tapestry of grace and love.
For each new thread that's added into this paradigm,
The Giver shares a melody from His throne above. 

~Sarah Elizabeth

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Knowing Your Characters

How do you get to really know your characters? How do you get to know them to their fullest extent when you only have your perception of them to rely on?

Think of the people around you. So many different characters and personalities. Keyword: personalities. Our personalities are really what set us apart. Yes there may be profiling for about 4-5 personality 'types', but each of us is still so unique. Which means your characters need to be unique. There needs to be certain qualities or traits about your character that confuses even you. Why? Because you can't relate to that certain personality... but a reader will.

One of my favorite books is " Atonement Child" by Francine Rivers (not recommended for younger ages because of themes). The reason it's my favorite is 1) it deals with an issue I am very passionate about. 2) The characters were so well developed I was getting SO annoyed with some characters (because I just couldn't understand why they were doing such and such because I'm not that personality) and I was also feeling, literally feeling, the pain and misery of another because I could relate to that personality. See, sometimes it's not about the experiences the character goes through, but the way they go through it and handle it that our readers relate to the most.

My family and I took a personality test recently. It was neat (And slightly creepy) seeing how accurate it was. However, as I was listening to my sister read off all the descriptions of the our personalities, I realized something. I didn't understand or know why my family members did half the things they did until I heard their personality. It was a 'light bulb' moment of "Aha! I see why they get upset over this or why they sometimes just need to hole up for a few days to 'recharge'..."  (from that comment I should say that was dealing with my sister. I'm the kind of person who usually recharges by being around people. Very rarely do I need to 'hole up'...)

When you're writing, you're developing characters. You're doing your best to make them come alive, to make your readers love or hate them. Yet when you are doing this, you are only writing from your perspective. Your personality may match one character, but it shouldn't match all of them. Which means Bob may not react the same way to a situation like Susie does. Which also means this should frustrate you.

I know it sounds really odd... but think about it. If you get frustrated with your family members because you just don't understand why they're doing something a certain way or WHY they have to be SO stubborn over something else, then you should get that same feeling with your characters. If you don't, you're making them too much like you. You understand them too well.

Now wait a minute, you say. How can I write a good book if I don't know my characters that well?

I'll tell you.

You need to understand them... but there also needs to be an air of mystery. No one understands another person perfectly. Even married couples have a hard time understanding one another 100% of the time. So how do you write a character and develop it well enough that your readers love/hate him?


You need to get to understand your characters personality. There are many different personality profiles you can follow (DISC profiling, ENFP profiling, etc, just to name a couple). You need to pick one and then follow it. Read up on all the different personalities. DISC profiling can especially get creative because you might have a character that is CD with a bit of I thrown in... or ID with some C.

Or you might want to go with an overall basic covering of a few personalities, highlight some of the bigger 'traits' and work from there. Our family did the ENFP type test. (Quick overview below). Just look at all the different character traits you get right there! And if you want more detail, you can go to the test sight and view all the different personalities in depth: http://www.16personalities.com/ 

Another great way is if you sort of profile a character off of someone you know (generally a good idea to get permission first!). Then you can ask them how they would react to certain situations. I know that, being a woman, I really don't understand guys. I mean, growing up with a great dad and two brothers definitely gave me a better perception than some, but I still don't *really* understand them. I tend to want to put a romantic/soft/unrealistic side to them that maybe only exists in a few guys. If you think about it, guys tend to like your macho man (think Jason Bourne, Captain America, James Bond, etc). Whereas we girls tend to write them up as being these super sweet, always sensitive, way too romantic, there to catch us when we faint, unrealistic guys. Now, I'm not saying that guys *aren't* sweet and romantic.. but they do those things in their own way!!! In fact, I remember another woman talking about how her husband bought her a football jersey of her favorite team. Now to her, he was being the most romantic man on earth. For me (who doesn't care for football much), I was thinking, "Really?" However, it was a good lesson for me that everyone has their own way of showing affection or anger or sadness, etc. (And just a tip, I've asked my dad and brothers countless questions of "if you were doing this, what would you be thinking about.." or "If this situation came up, what would you do?". Trust me, it's awesome having insider information!)

Therefore, let your character be different! Don't limit them to being your perception, but let them come alive as relatable characters to your readers!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tidbits and Updates

I feel that I have sorely been neglecting my poor blog here. Of course, I suppose that it has really moved from simply feeling it to actually knowing it. In any case, I do apologize for the lack of posts. The last couple of months have been teaching me that I do have a life outside of being an author and sometimes that life takes precedence over my writing. However, our crazy hectic schedule should soon come to... Well, maybe not a complete halt, but a more orderly sort of crazy hectic. The new school year is about to begin, schedules are finally getting ironed out, and the office is getting put back together again. So, hopefully, you'll be seeing more posts from me!

In case anyone is wondering, or cares to know what's been going on, I'll give a quick sum up. 

I recently got another nannying job, so I'm now working 2 days a week. Huge blessing for me and I was just praising the Lord when I found out I had gotten the position. New and upcoming authors really don't make enough to support themselves, so I needed another job. However, I do still have activities throughout the week that I help out with, so I was hoping for something that was part time. A second nanny position was perfect. So I now have specific days set aside for 'office work' to do ranching paperwork and writing. Plus I have days set aside for volunteer things and teaching fiddle and nannying. Needless to say, I'm very glad to be getting in a set schedule (although, I say 'set' very lightly because we all know how schedules go...) =) 

Other news would just be that ranching has also been something going on. However, that is always going on, so it's nothing new. However, the newest projects have probably been the landscaping of our front yard and putting in a volleyball court. After living here for 8 years and realizing that growing grass just wasn't going to happen, we finally just put in some pretty rock and landscaped it a bit. It has definitely cut down on the amount of dirt blowing around! The volleyball court is like the family treat. We all love playing volleyball, so we saved up corn market money from last year and are putting it to use. =) It will be nice to have something the whole family can participate in for the lovely fall evenings we've got coming up. 

Also, I've got a fun writing challenge planned.. so be checking out my FaceBook page and Google+ to find out more details!

Now, to close this up, I shall post a little tidbit of a book I'm slowly working on. 

When she got to the little stream that ran through the hills, Nareena sat down on a large rock and pulled her knees up close to her chest. She watched as the water tumbled over its bed. Pebbles beneath the surface made the water swirl in different patterns as it continued on its merry way. Nareena listened as the stream seemed to laugh as it bubbled and trickled. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Book Sale!!!

Hey folks!! If you're looking for a great birthday present for some young folks in your life, then you've come to the right place! I'm currently having a sale for my book, "On Grandpa's Knee". You definitely want to check it out! It makes for an awesome read aloud or for beginner/intermediate readers who like to have quiet time with a good book.

Grab a couple copies for you and your friends!

On Grandpa's Knee