Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wednesday Whimsy - What? Me, Change?

What? Me, Change?
Things were completely fine and then . . . one night Dad’s friend came and picked up one of the couches and the ancient coffee table that had been with them since the beginning of time. This wasn’t just any coffee table; it was my sort of secret lair! Mom had put my favorite resting pad underneath, piled with all the toys I like to ignore. But it was a comfort to know it was there. The other couch went upstairs to a mysterious room they call the “office.” Oh, bother!

The next day a new couch and a loveseat were delivered and a new table! But it’s not like my old one. And then they moved Mom’s recliner into the living room. This is where I always liked to sit with her. The new furniture is softer and puffier on the top. Dad always says a firm mattress is better. Can this softer, puffier loveseat be good for my flexible and all-important feline spine? 
Sleeping on my favorite couch.
I showed Mom last night. I went and sat on the back of the couch upstairs and looked out the window. Ha! So there! She was deprived of my delightful company. Tonight I gave in and sat on her lap after sinking into the top of the loveseat for a couple of hours, but I hope she won’t get used to this.
Thinking about sitting on my favorite recliner
to help Mom with her blog.
Change is not a happy word in kitty vocabulary—unless it’s new flavors for my delicate gourmet palate. Now that’s a different story. I don’t like to be bored with what I eat, but that’s a tale for another day. I hope all of my friends out there and their feline or canine or monkey companions are enjoying their favorite old piece of furniture tonight—unlike me. There’s not even a good weave to sharpen my claws on this dumb stuff!

Lily would love to hear what kind of change you don't like . . . or do like.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday Motivation - Under Their Skin

Under Their Skin
Last week I wrote about how writers often choose how a character looks before they decide much of
anything else. We creative types typically picture a character before fleshing out everything else about them. So we have our shell, an exoskeleton, if you will. Analogies break down after awhile.

Underneath the skin are a lot of physical components of the human body. We can actually see some of our veins under the surface, feel the tendons, joints and bones. We can flex our muscles. Let’s think about our musculoskeletal system for a moment. Without these important parts, we would be blobs of flesh, going nowhere. 

Now, what gets our characters moving? How about motivation? What is motivating them to move forward in the story? Are they running from danger? Are they lonely and looking for their soul mate? A young man trying to escape the grip of pirates who have boarded the ship where he is cabin boy, will be different from that of an orphan looking for a family. Or will it? This could be two separate stories—or one. What if the pirates ask him to join and it’s the closest thing he’s ever had to family. Yet, he knows they’re bad people. Now we have a conflict too! Really we have both interior and exterior conflicts. He wants to get away, but they’re seeking to recruit him, make him feel like part of the gang. {PD} 

I’m only scratching the surface here. Next week I’d like to discuss personality types and tools to help make a good match. Our characters have many layers and we need to get to find out what makes them tick? What is at their core? Sometimes it takes awhile to get to know a character well enough to make these decisions, but greater depth will make a difference. You don’t want your protagonist to be a paper doll, but instead to give your reader the picture of a living breathing person who they can identify with.  We may get bored with paper dolls and put them back in the drawer after awhile, but you want to know more about real people, don’t you?

Food for thought: Think about what motivates your favorite book characters and compare that to your own characters. How can you give your characters more depth?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Saturday Spiritual Uplift - If There Were No Resurrection?

And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins.  In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.
But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died. (1 Cor. 15:16-20)

When we were children, we had to take some things on faith. When Mom and Dad left you with a babysitter, but promised to return, we knew they were coming back (unless you had some tragic circumstances in your childhood).  When Mom told me to eat my vegetables, because they were good for me—besides, I wouldn’t get dessert unless I ate them—I choked down my mushy peas. When Dad said he’d hold onto me in the pool and that I would be okay, I had to learn to trust him until I could stand up in the water or swim on my own. We had to take a lot of things by faith when we were children and it was easier then to have childlike faith.

So many people question the greatest miracle of all time—the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Yet there were plenty of eyewitnesses. And Jesus showed others he could raise people back to life before his death by bringing back Lazarus and others. Those that question are more willing to believe that planets formed spontaneously rather than believe they were created with loving order
and that Jesus, the Living Word, who through all things were created, actually made them. Which takes more faith?

The apostle Paul says we are “more to be pitied” than anyone in the world if Jesus hasn’t been raised from the dead.  For if Jesus has no power over death, how can he wash away our sins and forgive us, giving us new spiritual life? Jesus said that those who didn’t see, but still believed would be blessed. We don’t get to physically see the risen Christ in this world. We have to take it on faith and that faith is a gift from God. If you so willingly question God about whether the resurrection is real, why don’t You ask God to give you the faith instead—faith to see and believe the precious accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection, to trust Him for the forgiveness of sins?

Followers of Christ need not be pitied, for the tomb is empty: He is risen! He is risen indeed! 

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.  (Romans 10:9-10)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tuesday! (the Welsh Corgi) on Wednesday Whimsy!

Today I'm interviewing the canine companion of Mom's friend, Karen Wingate. Let's welcome Tuesday, the Welsh Corgi, on Wednesday Whimsy!

Tuesday on Wednesday. I like that. Bet you won't ever forget my name!

Probably not. Unless I meet a dog named Thursday. Then I might get a little confused.

How long have you owned Karen? Do you consider her your mom?

I decided to adopt Karen and her family eight years ago. I'm a confirmation champion show dog, but I got tired of being on the road so my peeps decided to find a good family for me. It took several tries, but then I met the Wingates and it was love at first bark. My breeder family gave me my everyday name, Tuesday. Judy, my breeder, said it was because I was born on a Tuesday. Karen wonders what the other puppies in my liter were called.  My show name is Lady Arwin. Karen says she likes that name a lot better but she didn't want to confuse me when I came home with them. But then she apologizes to people for my name. I don't mind. People smile when they hear my name and I like it when people smile at me.
Tuesday, the clown

I'm not sure who is the mom in this family! I have to take care of Karen.  Welsh Corgis are a herding breed so we have to constantly make sure our people are right where they need to be. You don't know what it's like to live with this family. I have to teach them EVERYTHING - when to let me outside, when to feed me, when to go to bed. And don't forget the doggie cookies!

Lady Arwin? Wow! Sounds like you're descended from
nobility, too. I've never known a royal dog before! 

What’s the best way to train your human/mom?

The first rule of training your human is to be cute. Corgis are great at this.  They're known as little clowns. All I have to do is cock my head and I can get this family to do anything. I'm an expert at moving them where I want them to be. I just have to get behind them and keep pushing them like they were a big herd of cattle and they'll move - toward my food dish, toward the closet where my toys are, you get the idea. Then I stand sentry in the hallway so they don't sneak past me. Welsh Corgis aren't called hall monitors for nothing.

Tuesday, the hall monitor.
I've also learned to not bark much. That way, when I do bark, Karen knows I mean business and she comes running to check things out. Ah, these humans are so predictable. I've got them wrapped around my dewclaw! 
What does Karen write about?

 Boring stuff. Sometimes she reads to me what she's written. She needs to write about canines more often. Instead, she writes stuff she calls curriculum and magazine articles about how to teach children, how to help churches grow, and how to live as a Christian. She writes this thing called a blog where she uses this one word, grace, a lot. I think I heard her tell someone it's at a place called
Here I am with Karen's daughter, Christine. I just
love the youth pastor's baby she's holding!

Now she's starting to write stories. Those are more interesting, but they are sooo long. She calls them novels. She loves to tell stories about things that happened in the past, especially in Ohio where we used to live. She wrote a book about the Ohio River Flood and another book about this food service called a canteen at a train station during World War Two. Now she is working on more historical fiction about Ohio, and I think she is writing this contemporary romance book where a girl meets a boy, then they get separated from each other and they spend the rest of the book trying to find each other. She says it's more exciting than that but she won't tell me, because she's afraid I'll spill the dog food.

How do you help her with her writing?

Ah, I thought you would never ask.  Remember, I'm a Welsh Corgi with a strong herding instinct. I've got my humans' routine figured out. After Karen wakes up, she reads her Bible, fixes breakfast for Daddy Jack, then heads to her office to write. But sometimes she gets distracted, so I have to make sure she gets to work. I will bark at her then sit in the hallway, waiting for her. If she doesn't come, I'll go find her and walk circles around her till she starts to move toward her office. Finally, she gets the idea. Whew. When she turns on her computer, I settle down for my morning nap. I make sure she stays at her desk by pretending to be asleep. She hates to disturb my nap so she stays in her chair and gets more writing done. I know that's true because I heard her tell that to Daddy Jack one time.

Any advice to other canine muses? How can we best help our writing humans?

These writer types are bad about forgetting we exist. They really get into their work. So you have to help them take breaks once in awhile. What you do is get their attention every hour or two. Bring your leash to them so they'll take you for a walk or go get your ball so they'll toss it for you. The exercise is good for them. If they don't get up and stretch once in awhile, they get cranky.

Tuesday with Daddy Jack and his
daughter, Katherine.
But don't distract them too much because they also get cranky if they don't write at all. It's a balancing act, you know. Your job is to help them get their writing done, take breaks and relax when their workday is done. Get a good nap during the day so you are ready to do your job when they are done for the day. Then turn on the charm! Play hard. Make those humans laugh.  These writer types--they just take themselves way too seriously! Then when you both have had enough, curl up close beside them on the couch and teach them how to randomly scratch behind your ears while they read a book.  Good time for another snooze!

I heard Karen say I help her the best when she gets something she calls a rejection. Those must not be very nice because sometimes she cries or she just gets really sad. Then I jump on the couch, give her Corgi kisses and snuggle up to her for a belly rub. She says I make life better so I wriggle closer to her and she laughs. After a few minutes, she'll get up and move back to her computer again and I know she's ok. I know it's best not to follow her, just leave her alone for a few minutes so she can talk to God and start writing again.

Do you ever get in trouble for helping “too much”?

Oh yes!  I've learned the hard way.  Humans do NOT like to be told when they need to go to bed. Sometimes I get tired of waiting for them and go jump on their bed. Karen and Jack don't mind that too much, especially in the winter. Karen says I'm better than an electric blanket.

Tuesday helps Karen teach VBS.
And then there was the time I tried to tidy up the house. Daddy Jack left a package of coffee setting on the end table by his chair. Doesn't he know he should put those things in the cupboard?  I tried to clean it up for him before they came home, but I only got a third of the bag cleaned up. It made me feel funny. And then I got really sick. My humans were so mad at me.  I kept Karen up all night long doing, you know, that stuff. I think Karen thought I was going to die, but I finally stopped, you know, that stuff.  Then she was mad at me all over again. They aren't nice. They keep telling their friends in front of me about the time I ate their coffee and they laugh about it.  I was just trying to help! 

Thanks again, Tuesday, for visiting with me on a . . . Wednesday.

Learn more about Karen on her wonderful, inspiring blog, Grace on Parade,  where she shares what the Lord is teaching her in a transparent, encouraging way. Karen's blog always gives me (Kathy) plenty to think about and truly spreads the wonder of God's grace.

More about Tuesday's adopted mom, Karen Wingate:

When Tuesday the Welsh Corgi, is looking the other way, Karen leaves her writing desk to work with her husband in their Western Illinois church, leading a women's bible study, organizing a women's fellowship group, and helping with an after school children's program.  Karen and Jack miss their two adult daughters terribly so lavish all their love on Tuesday who doesn't mind a bit.  Karen has hundreds of writing credits in such magazines at The Lookout, Decision, Clubhouse, Guideposts, and Journey, and writes a bi-weekly blog at  She is currently writing her third novel and leads seminars on Gifts Based Children's Ministry and on prayer.

Please feel free to leave a comment or question for Tuesday . . . or Lily. They'd love to hear from you!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Monday Motivation - Character: From the Exoskeleton In

The World Book Encyclopedia of the 1960s had a fascinating clear plastic overlay of the human body. As a little girl, I loved to play with that section, rebuilding the 2D human body, layer by layer, system by system. I don’t remember the order, but I’m pretty sure the bare skeleton made up the first layer. You would add a layer of muscles, one of the cardiovascular system, different organs, etc., until I finished with a layer of skin.

Though I’m quite a visual person, I have seldom used pictures of models or actors to build my characters. Not that it’s a bad idea, in fact, it probably helps keep one’s facts straight, like eye color. But often we build characters from an outside exoskeleton in instead of vice versa. (Not that people actually have a hard exterior exoskeleton like an insect, but you get my drift.) The danger in that is we create a two-dimensional character. And somehow I picture my characters looking like ordinary people instead of supermodels.

However, we often become acquainted with real people by seeing and studying them from the outside. We see, not only how they look, whether tall or short, color of their hair or eyes, shape of their face, but how they react to the environment around them. A person’s expressions and mannerisms can tell you something about their personality for sure. You miss so much of that in a still photograph of a model made to look perfect.

Here’s a little exercise for you: Think of a character you are developing or one you’ve already created. How do they look when they’re happy? Do they have any special mannerisms? Can you describe your character’s smile or something else they do without using a cliché?  For example, you could write: For just a moment, his smile lit up his face. Instead, let’s try something different: His smile grew in increments, then quickly disappeared, as though he had a tic in the side of his face.

My sentence could still use some work, but I’m trying to convey a hesitant, nervous smile. You don’t have to describe a smile; you could describe a frown, a yawn, gum chewing, hand waving or any other expression or mannerism you want to use to give your reader a better picture of your character. Don’t take more than 10 minutes and have fun! If you're stuck, use someone from the picture below. Everyone's smile is a little different from the others.

Next week, I’ll talk about another layer of characterization.

How do you beef up your character's appearance? How can the outside give us a hint to the person within? Please leave a comment below. I love to hear from you!

And the winner is . . .

The winner of the $15 Amazon gift card drawing is none other
than Karla Akins!  Congratulations! I will be contacting you shortly. 

Thank you to all my readers who took time to follow and/or comment over these last couple of weeks since I celebrated my 100th blog post.

More Monday Motivation coming up later today . . . 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Saturday Spiritual Uplift - Changes

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jer. 29:11, NLT)
Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1Thess. 5:17-18, NLT)

Remember Borders bookstores? They only closed two and a half years ago, but it seems like a distant memory. When we moved to our current home, we were delighted to have a store just a couple of miles from our house, where we could browse piles of discounted books or just roam the aisles and breathe in that new book smell! I liked to take my laptop to the café there, before we had several of the chains around, and enjoyed sipping a caffe mocha while writing my novel masterpiece (Yeah, still working on that!).

Borders was the first place I mounted my courage to order a fancy coffee, hoping not to sound too ignorant—a café au lait with raspberry flavor. Thus began my coffee snobbery and expensive habit. We often utilized Borders’ coupons and had a discount card.

Despite the fact that there’s a Barnes and Noble just a few miles away, I still occasionally have that wistful feeling when I drive by the sporting goods store which took Borders’ place. Happily, a mom and pop bookstore has opened up not that far away, giving us an alternative besides the internet.

Losing Borders was just an inconvenience for us, and a big change in the retail book market for sure, but it wasn’t anything compared to Job’s losses of children, wealth and health. Yet he said, “The Lord gave me what I had,
and the Lord has taken it away.
 Praise the name of the Lord!”

I find myself in a season of life where things seem to be constantly changing and some of it I don’t really like. When my children were small, it seemed like I would be a stay-at-home mom forever and it was what I loved the most, or at least the role in which I felt most comfortable. I defined myself as a homeschooling mom, doing the best I could to serve the Lord. I never thought my kids would all be moved rather far away. I figured at least one or more would be married and settled. When you’ve been a mother and needed by others 24/7 for so many years it’s not easy to redefine your role—in fact, I’ve been trying to reinvent it several times and searching for God’s will, how He can use me best.

I’ve watched my kids go through changes that are difficult for me to accept, yet I still love them. It’s led me to question why the Lord has allowed certain things, but I have to believe that these changes are what He has allowed, because they’re best for me. They’ve drawn me closer to the Lord Jesus. Still, it’s not easy.

Lord, help me each day to trust You more for the future, to know it’s filled with hope. Help me to have a thankful attitude through all that you do. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Last week I celebrated my 100th blog post! Follow or leave a comment or both, each for a chance to win a $15 Amazon gift card. Follow and/or leave your comment by Sunday, April 13th and leave your email addy in the form of name[at]domain[dot]com to qualify for the drawing. 

Tomorrow will be your last chance!