Monday, July 29, 2013

Article ReWrites....

As a non-fiction writer, I'm always looking for ways to improve my article writing.... I write for several online websites and I've gotten to the point where I can get an 800 word article, essay, opinion piece or book review off in a day.  It has taken me at least 10 years to accomplish this feat and I'm still working towards perfection.

As I scanned my list of writer's tips I came across this gem but I can't remember where I got it....
I'm sure it was some website and I normally include the original place but this time it was not marked.  I think what I did was read the original article and took notes from what I learned so here it is.....

I have used almost all of these ideas to write my non-fiction pieces and they work wonderfully for fiction as well as non-fiction.

A List of Nine Strategies to Rewrite an Article

1. Write earlier. This teaches you what you already know and what you need to know. When I begged for more time on a story it was usually because I felt I needed more time to report, to understand the subject. "I need a couple more hours/days/weeks," I'd tell my editor. When I started drafting earlier, I began to see that the hole I needed to fill was already complete, but there are other gaps I wouldn't have recognized as quickly.  Revision doesn't mean more time, but rescheduling the time you have. Let's face it. Whatever time we have for a story most of us spend the bulk of reporting. After all, we're reporters. But there are ways to build in revision earlier in the process.

2. Hit the print button as early as possible. Computers are wonderful, but they give the illusion of perfection. To revise this column, I made a printout of the first draft, approximately 1,000 words written in less than an hour over two days. I began by crossing things out, penning in questions, examining the prose (which sentences held up, which need re-tooling, etc.). Then I read back over my revised version and made more corrections until it was perfect.... or near to perfection as I could get.

3. Put it away. John Fowles, the British novelist ("French Lieutenant’s Woman"), described drafting as much as 60,000 words and then putting them in a desk drawer for a few months. Nice work, I can hear the journalists out there muttering, if you can get it. Few working writers, especially those under daily or even weekly deadlines, have that freedom. But any attempt to put a story out of your mind will give your unconscious mind the chance to work on it. The idea of putting away your writing is works amazingly but most non-fiction article writers do not have the luxury of a few months.  I give this an hour, maybe six hours or even 24 if you have the time but it never fails...if I put it away, I always catch something I had not seen before and more ideas come into my head for a rewrite.  Giving the writing a rest does wonders to your brain and fantastic ideas come after some time away.

4. Break revision into manageable tasks. To me this is a no-brainer. Sometimes the sheer enormity of revisions is so overwhelming it makes my head spin. Make separate printouts — one for names and titles, another for verb constructions, a third to trim the fat from quotes helps enormously in keeping yourself on target for a finished product.

5. Read aloud. Listen to your story and you can hear where it flags, where a quote runs on or echoes the previous phrase (The mayor said he's dissatisfied with the council's action. "I'm just not satisfied," Mayor Naughton said). I read out loud to myself all the time!!!! Sometimes my children ask me who I'm talking to.  This idea is a great one for catching mistakes and rewriting sentences.

6. Diagnose, then treat. As you read, make quick notes ("cut," "move up?" "boring?" "stronger evidence?") Then go back and make the necessary changes. I once read that many writers will use different marks from the keyboard and colored text markings to go back and fix after reading through the entire piece first.  I have done this as well and the notes help to keep your ideas on target.

7. Test your story against your focus. If it's about a young woman's fight against cerebral palsy, why does it begin with an anecdote about her grandfather's experiences in the California gold rush?  Keep the focus on what is the main thrust of your piece. What drives your article and what questions does it answer? This is all very important.

8. Find a first reader. Editors are our first readers--and our last line of defense. Show your draft to an editor--or a colleague. Ask them to tell you what works and what needs work. Ask for a movie of their reading. Better to turn in something to an editor that we know isn't perfect with an eye to finding the promise and the pitfalls in it and the path to a clear, concise, readable story than letting the whole world see our mistakes. My editors have done wonders with some of my work and I trust them to help me improve my writing. 

9. Develop patience. When I begin to write, the ideas often flow in a flood, leaving the landscape obscured by mountains of impenetrable mass, uprooted trees, houses and everything else in its path. Instead of a tidy piece of prose, what I have is a mess that makes my spirits droop. I wanted it to be so good and instead it seems so bad that I fear I can never get it to  the point where anybody else would want to read it. I have to keep telling myself it will come if I keep at it and it does. I cut paragraphs, reword sentences, change my focus because sometimes my brain puts out ideas faster than I can handle and I have to keep my focus.  But with practice and patience, you can become a pro and write for newspapers, websites and blogs....

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Waiting for the Urge

I came across an old interview with bestselling author, Sue Grafton, online yesterday (you can read the whole interview here . . . I highly recommend it) in which she laid out "the 10 stages of the creative cycle" as she experiences it. I found it somehow reassuring:

  1. Urge
  2. Inspirations
  3. Research
  4. First Draft
  5. Revisions
  6. Completion
  7. Submission
  8. Elation
  9. Second Thoughts
10. Dormancy 

You see, I'm a slow writer like her. She puts out a book every other year. (Okay, I'm even slower at this stage of my career. If I can get to a book every other year, I'll consider that progress!)

Anyway, I'm sort of in that 10th stage just now. I say "sort of" because while I've submitted my latest manuscript to an agent, I've also got it out to some beta readers. I've learned enough by now to hedge my bets and be ready for the agent rejection, sending me into perhaps one more round of revisions. Then I'll submit it to about 20 other selected agents (plus a couple of other editors I pitched who wanted the full).

(If you're wondering why I haven't yet sent it to those editors, it's because I'm really hoping this manuscript will get me an agent, and I want the agent first.)

Still, the completion of the story left me elated . . . for a while. Then, as Sue Grafton describes:

Second Thoughts . . . creep in again making you wonder if the book is anywhere close to what you hoped for when you first started out.

So here I wait in Dormancy--"that point when your head is completely empty and you're convinced you'll never have another idea for as long as you live."

Waiting. Waiting for the Urge.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Retreat and Renew

I attended the ANWA Southwest Region Writing Retreat last month.  Last year I didn't go and missed the opportunity to renew my spirit. This year I told myself I was going no matter what. Of course, like everyone else that desires to set aside time for a specific purpose many challenges and obstacles cropped up in the path to hinder me from going. But I went and I am truly grateful.
The general public and usually family do not understand the need for a writer to have uninterrupted time devoted to writing. Any serious writer will tell you that retreats are essential. Holly Robinson recently wrote about writing retreats and gave sage advice in her blog. She recommends every writer take a retreat four times a year. Retreats do not have to be costly. Writing Retreats are not the same as Writing Workshops or Writers Conferences. 
Retreats can be as simple as setting aside alone time in a place that is quiet and conducive to writing without any distractions such as phones, internet, television and so forth. Retreats can be done alone or with a small group of friends.  One important rule that needs to be followed is no chatting during writing time. Visiting and or critiquing should be done at a set time in the evening. The majority of time should be spent on writing, writing, writing, and more writing. Of course that also includes editing and rewriting.
When retreat is over the writer returns home with renewed spirit and energy to tackle tasks not related to writing and renewed hope and insight for their current work in progress.
Let's get some writing done!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sock Shepherd

By H. Linn Murphy
I found this exact sock on the road while I was walking.

Let's talk about socks. We all have them in droves. Sometimes I feel as if I'm merely a glorified Sock Shepherd. I search for them. I find them. I usher them to the washer, returning for the stragglers, whistling for those hiding and lost. I'm seriously considering getting a sheepdog just for sock-herding. Surely getting matching pairs of socks in our piles of freshly laundered clothes will pay for the upkeep on the canine.

I thought I had trained my family to stand next to the washer when they remove their dirty clothes, so that they can slip them right into the washer. Apparently my thought processes were flawed. It was a grand idea until they told me they'd never be caught dead stripping down in the laundry room. Go figure.

Even my next novel idea drew 'The Stare'.
"Why not simply take things off in your room and toss them straight in the washer? It's even the lazy person's way to do it. You only have to pick the item up once and you're done. No fuss, no whining."

Most socks in this house (which are not mine or the Hubs' or my one clean child) reside on the floor a minimum of three months. At least that's how it seems when I examine the dust bunnies coating said foot apparel. I have herded them from beneath the bed, behind or in bookcases, from the back yard and in gym bags, out from under dressers, and from gigantic piles of like-minded clothing.

I say like-minded because by the time I find them all, most have grown sentient and mated with other non-matching socks to produce funky stretched-out ankle socks. I know this because I find socks I know I never bought. They had to have grown from a love match between two other denizens of the Underbed.

Growing up, we had a dryer which would often eat at least one stocking per load. We were certain that the sock monster resided somewhere in the depths of the big silver drum. For some reason we never once considered that they'd never made it to the dryer at all.

I have a basket for all the lonely socks left without their mates. Some stay a short time, released from their misery by the advent of their soul mate. Some have languished in the dregs of the basket for years. I haven't the heart to doom them to the trash because I know as soon as I do it, the other sock mate will reappear and give me that forsaken look that begs, "Why couldn't you have been patient just a little longer? Why?"

I wonder if somewhere there's a place (besides my basket) where the lost wait patiently for me to do their work--to reunite them with their loving families. There'll be tiny inhabitants who sidle up to me and whisper, "Too bad you didn't find me when the boy's feet were small enough to wear me." And I'll get all maudlin and mushy over the tiny survivor.
"Yep. Too bad he never learned to put his wretched socks in the washer," I'll say.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Wanna Play?

First off, I'd like to thank Valerie for allowing me to jump on board. I am so excited to be here, posting articles and rubbing shoulders with these great ladies!! 

I grew up in California, which was not easy for a pasty girl who loves to layer. But, one thing I did love was swimming. We didn't have a pool, but had many friends and neighbors who did. I spent many hours in the pool playing Marco Polo, doing tricks, playing with tubes, splashing, and just having fun.

As I grew older the swimming turned from playing in the pool, to basking by the side of the pool, lathered in suntan lotion. That was before they called it sunscreen. Yep, in the eighties it was all about getting tan. It only took a few painful episodes, however, to come to the realization that I had two colors: red and white. 

As a mom, my pool side basking morphed into life-guard duty slash referee as my gaggle of kids (yes, three feels like twelve in a pool) splashed, thrashed, played, and fought. I would dip into the pool some of the time, but as my weight grew, so did the time spent outside the pool.

A few weeks ago we had a 'heat wave' here in the Northwest. The temperature hit almost 90, and we were dying. A friend invited me and the kids over to swim in her in-ground swimming pool (one of like three in our entire county. Who needs a year-round pool in Washington?) 

We packed up our stuff and headed on over. I slathered on sun-block and settled into my spot next to the pool as the children played. They had a blast, and I enjoyed myself as well. . . until I got hot. Really hot.

So, I dipped my feet into the pool. And it felt good. I inched my way in until the water reached my neck, and it felt great. I ducked me head under--holding myself still for just a moment to soak in the coolness-- and it felt wonderful.

I bobbed around and floated on a pool mattress while the children played around me. After about an hour, I was about to get out when the kids decided to play a game called Shark. The little kids were excited because it was about the only game the big kids would actually play with them (think Marco Polo combined with tag on a group level with sharks). As I was making my way out of the pool, my son's friend (who is sixteen and hilarious) turns to me and says, "Hey, do you wanna play?"

A laugh escaped my lips. I don't think anyone has looked at me and asked, "Do you wanna play?" since I was kid. It sounded funny, but not as funny as how it made me feel. Suddenly, from somewhere deeper than the deep end of the pool, emerged a child-like giddiness. They want to play with me. And that little girl inside me wanted to play with them.

And I did. 

We played for over a hour, chasing, laughing, yelling, and swimming. For a while, I felt the joy of the pool I had experienced when I was a kid, and I loved it!

That got me thinking about life. 

As a kid, most of us played. We ran, laughed, pretended, and had a great time. Then we grew up. It's the natural way of things. Batting adolescent eyelashes and flexing budding muscles replaced Barbies and GI Joes. Then, dating, marriage and parenthood come.  Budgets, deadlines, and chores replace games, pretend play, and fun. 

It isn't a bad thing. It's just life.

But, somewhere along the way we can get stuck on the proverbial side of the pool, and forget that there is still fun to be had, and life to be lived. 

We can become so mired down by our grown-up ways that we either forget, or don't think, that playing is for us anymore.

Oh, but it is! God intends for us not only to have joy in life, but to have good, clean, fun. It doesn't necessarily have to be in a pool with kids (but I highly recommend that it).  If you are stressed out with financial burdens, bummed out by politics, exhausted by mothering duties, or down for any other reason, I say to you . . . "Hey, do you wanna play?"

Come on! Jump in. The water's warm. Splash around, laugh a little.

Of course we don't have a real pool to jump into--but jumping in and playing in your life may look like grabbing the kids and going to a movie. Or playing a board game. Or going out to lunch with a friend. You could steal your spouse away for a spontaneous date, or simply play the radio loud with the windows down while singing out loud.

Do something fun today. Play and laugh like you did when you were a kid. Lighten up, lighten your load, and give yourself permission to laugh.

Having fun--yes, playing-- is a part of life, even the life of a grown-up. So, do something fun today. Then, will you do me a favor, and come back here and tell me? That would be fun for me!!

Till next time . . .

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Clearly, he could see that she raised an eyebrow at him with gritted teeth and bravado.

Ah, how I love my beta readers. Truly, madly, and deeply. 
I composed the title of this post from words and phrases that a dear beta reader pointed out I had egregiously overused in the first draft of my novel The Book of Jer3miah: Premonition.
(Also abused: "actually," "however," "he noticed that," and "seemed to.")
Now, I drafted Premonition in six weeks--weeks that included Thanksgiving and Christmas (and remember: I have six kids). I was writing as fast as I could, not taking time to tinker with my prose at all. And I did give it a once-over before sending it to my betas--trying to avoid embarrassing spelling, grammar, and usage errors as much as possible.
But then, apparently on that re-read, I got so sucked into my own story that I missed several prominent tics in which I had indulged while writing for my life. Oops.
This is where other eyes serve the writer so well.  They quickly and efficiently recognize problems that the writer, suffering from a certain kind of creative myopia, is too close to see. 
Writers--especially those planning to self-publish--would do well to choose several beta readers to read their manuscripts before said manuscripts see the light of day, where "light of day" is defined as being put in front of a potential agent, editor, or book purchaser.
Choose a reader who is picky about mechanics--spelling, grammar, and usage. Choose one who is far outside your target audience. Choose one who reads a ton within your genre. Choose another who reads widely, but not necessarily within your genre at all. Choose someone who is unfamiliar with the setting/culture of your story. You want varied points of view--and you want people who won't just say/write, "I loved it!" (That is your spouse's/best friend's/children's job.)
I chose five people--two men and three women--and asked them to read my manuscript and point out any obvious-to-them problems before I gave it another polish and sent it out the door. All five betas gave me invaluable and timely responses, but the interesting thing to me was that, while no one's feedback contradicted anyone else's input, almost none of it overlapped, either. 
One reader pointed out a big failure on my part to characterize someone as sympathetic. Another pointed out that the story's climax lacked tension.  Another got confused between characters--and when it comes to confusion, my position is that the reader/customer is always right. The writer has the burden of writing scenes clearly enough so that the reader doesn't have to fall out of the story in order to puzzle something out.
Fortunately for me, all five had really nice things to say about the story, too. But here's the other great thing--I'm past the point where criticism (at least, fair and asked-for criticism) hurts me personally. Years ago, it would crush me to have someone point out that my writing was less than perfect. Nowadays, I welcome any way to improve my work. But, hey--the compliments were great to read--and a sign that I had done some things right.
I made a list of all of the story's problems as pointed out by the formidable betas, then spent several days rewriting sentences and paragraphs and scenes until I had crossed the last problem off the list. Then I sent the manuscript to the creators of the webseries The Book of Jer3miah--who gave me even more feedback, but that's a post for another day.
Thanks, betas. You made my book much, much better. I owe you; featuring you in my acknowledgments section doesn't begin to pay my debt. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

The In(die)Between Publisher

Publishing is changing. Duh! Anyone who has tried to get published, self-published, read a literary magazine knows that, “the times they are a changing.” And this has generated opinions. Lots of opinions. On everything from self-published quality to the viability of seeking a traditional publisher, you can find plenty willing to pontificate on the subject. In fact, here is a really good one on the subject from James Scott Bell. Contracts, cover art, content editing, oh my! Right?

The thing about turbulent, shifting situations is they open up opportunities for those bold enough to jump on them. Once upon a time the indie publisher was the red-headed step child of the publishing world, with self-published works as little more than orphans. But those children have grown up, and have done so in a world where technology continues to favor their growth and movement. This is shaking old foundations. Xychler Publishing, the imprint of Hamilton Springs Press that published Mechanized Masterpieces in April of this year and will be publishing The Accidental Apprentice in 2014(yes both of those titles have my name on them), is one such upstart. You can read about their start here. And if you read the first article link, then you can imagine what someone like James Scott Bell would have to say about it.

The long and short of it is, I only have my own experience on which to draw, so I can tell you what it’s been like for me (so far), and that’s it.

After I submitted my short story for the Steampunk competition that became the Mechanized Masterpieces Anthology, I got attention. Lots of attention. Not from the public, please; no one even knew my name. No I got attention from my editors. There were meetings and schedules set almost right away. I got all kinds of feedback and then was asked to assess my own work. No joke. For those that have seen the cover it is gorgeous and an original piece of art rather than some cobbled together bits of stock photos. There was a launch party and as much advertising and marketing as could be mustered by such a small enterprise. It proved itself legit. I developed relationships with the people on the other side of monitor. From those relationships and the fact that my editors are easily impressed, the chance to build something I had been tinkering with from the ground up took shape. This. Was. HUGE! 

I have no desire whatsoever to learn how to format an ebook, or design a cover, market beyond my own posts and tweets. All that jazz isn’t what I’m good at and would overwhelm me. Those that have the stuff to self-publish have my utmost respect. Xchyler gave me all those things, in addition to content and line editing that made my story so much better. I got all the services of a major publisher without having to jump through nearly as many hoops. And those services, since I don’t want ot do them myself, would have cost me money. Several hundred dollars for anything of quality, certainly. Of course there are trade-offs: visibility, promotional networks, the public library refusing to purchase a copy because they can’t get your book from a “contracted vendor.” Them’s the breaks.

Stories like mine tend to be the Cinderella exception that makes sites like Predators and Editors necessary. But for those of us looking for a place from which to sprout, I think the nourishing soil of a good indie publisher might be a better fit than the mass production fields of “big publishing.” What the market will look like five or ten years from now? Perhaps a rows of smaller gardens, more lovingly and diligently tended than some of those mass fields of the past? Something In(die)between?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day

Eleven score and seventeen years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 

Or in other words and not trying to plagiarize Abraham Lincoln, two hundred thirty seven years ago, our nation was born.  July 4, 1776 the Declaration of Independence was signed and published by men willing to sacrifice everything to gain what they believed to be the birth right of all men.  The Declaration of Independence served as a first step in publicly changing the long accepted belief in the divine right of kings, in putting forth the idea that all men were born with certain unalienable rights, given by God and therefore have the right to make their own destiny.  It served as a framework and reminder to end the unfortunate acceptance of slavery that had taken root in the colonies.

  Our Nation has gone through many periods of growth and challenges of its ideas  in the two hundred thirty seven years since the day of its birth.  It grew past the original thirteen states to cover most of the continent of North America.  It  survived a war that divided the states along ideological lines.  It has survived to this point both leaders who understand and love the idea of America and those who do not.  Still, over two hundred years later, the majority of Americans believe in America and are proud to be Americans.   On this the day of its birth, I thought it would be appropriate to read the  words that gave our country life.  
I have taken the liberty of copying below the Declaration of Independence

 In Congress July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America 
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of  mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.  
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable  Rights, that among these rights are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,-That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while the evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed .  But when a long train of usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute  Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty to throw off such Government and provide new Guards for their future security.  Such has been the patient sufferance  of these Colonies, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.  The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.  To prove this let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

        These are powerful words that share powerful ideas.  They stir our minds and our hearts with their truth.  They are truths that belong to all mankind, not just Americans. They are truths that we have fought and struggled to give to all Americans and share with the world.
On November 19, 1863, during one such struggle, the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln had this to say;

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.  Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.  We are met on a great battlefield of that war.  We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting- place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.  It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.  But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.  The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.  The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.  It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly  advanced.  It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us-that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and 
that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

I agree with President Lincoln and believe it is for our time as well as his.  That it is for us to be dedicated to the great task remaining before us, from our honored dead in all generations, for us to take increased devotion to know, honor, understand, protect and defend the freedoms they gave the last full measure of their devotion for, that they shall not have died in vain.  It is for us to help this nation under God grow in its freedom, that government of the people, by the people for the people shall not perish from the earth and that by our efforts we are worthy of their gift.

In that vein,  I hope you barbeque, meet with family and friends and enjoy a fireworks show.  I hope you will also take the time to remember why we do these things.  

Happy Independence Day!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Is Your Summer Schedule Working?

A few weeks ago I introduced our summer schedule to the children, who responded with great cheering and exhuberant joy.


Deflated I thought, is this going to work? Am I going to have to push and pull all summer to get chores finished, help them serve someone for a “Daily Dose”, and do their educational “Power Hour”? It seemed more work than it was worth.

But then, a few mornings ago I experienced something very tender.

Dealing with sleepless nights from sick children and preparing for various kids’ camps, I awoke exhausted and already wishing for a rare nap. Starting my early day, I read through emails and found more people in my circle of friends or stewardship who needed love, support or help. And then the children woke up, began bouncing off the walls and began repeatedly asking when we were doing the day’s fun activity/going to the park/doing a craft.

Sometimes when moms get to this point of “doneness,” we either bark at our kids or put on a smile and move on. This time I decided to tell them like it was. In a normal, tired voice I simply said how I felt, that I was overwhelmed and needed their help.

I hadn't even finished sharing my thoughts when my 10-year-old walked to my desk, got my lotion and starting rubbing my feet. My other daughter started rubbing down my calves. Both asked what they could do to help and then decided to make me breakfast. My youngest grabbed a notepad and acting like a waitress as she took my "breakfast order". Within minutes I had overeasy eggs, with toast, and “orange jam” (marmalade), and scrambled eggs to feed the baby. 

Afterward they tucked me into bed and in the most beautiful of timing, my baby was now ready for his nap. I made a bottle, cuddled next to him and felt the healing power of being with him in cozy peace while knowing my kids were playing quietly (okay, assumed but we'll go with it).

Throughout this experience I told them how much I loved and appreciated them, and what a gift they had given me. My 10-year-old said, "It's our Daily Dose, Mom."

Shazam. The summer schedule was working. 


Welcoming a New Writer to our Blog

As our team of writers become more experienced and take on more assignments, there have been times when one from the team has to bow out and at this time Jillian Torassa will be moving on. It is sad when this happens but this means she is writing more and becoming busy with her manuscripts.

Welcome Michelle Wilson!!!  Our newest member of the team and will take the position of one of our writers for Mommy Authors.  Michelle had actually been there from the beginning when we were searching for more contributors but because of a mix up on my part, Michelle was accidentally not included.  So she graciously accepted to be number 1 on the waiting list and now this is her chance.

 Here is her bio:
Michelle Wilson is a writer/blogger/speaker whose love for chocolate is right up there with her love of God and her family. She infuses humor and simple truths into her teaching and writing, and loves to find lessons and 'ah-hah' moments in the world around her. She is currently seeking publication for her first fantasy fiction novel The Rise of Addie Moon, as well as her inspiration women's non-fiction book Does This Insecurity Make Me Look Fat?  Michelle is a jack of many trades: cooking, crocheting, exercising, and singing to name a few. She is, however, the queen of eating sweets. She is a forever student, with a love of learning and growing. She lives in Washington state with her husband, three kids, one dog, two cats, turtle, bunny, and a horse. (And she says she doesn't like animals.) You can find her

We are looking forward to hearing from her and the rest of the team as we journey through our life of writing.

Valerie Steimle
Team Leader