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.

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! 
Tuesday, the hall monitor.
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 www.graceonparade.com.

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.
Tuesday with Daddy Jack and his
daughter, Katherine.

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.

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.

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. 

More about Tuesday's adopted mom, Karen Wingate:

Tuesday helps Karen teach VBS.
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 www.graceonparade.com.  She is currently writing her third novel and leads seminars on Gifts Based Children's Ministry and on prayer.

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

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. 
bing.com/images

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!”
Bing.com/images

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.
Bing.com/images

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!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Reviewing Rachel


Reviewing Rachel, a Biblical Romance Novel by Jill Eileen Smith

From Kathy: Rachel, Book Number Three in “The Wives of the Patriarchs” series, is a well-researched retelling of the classic biblical account of Jacob, a man who loved Rachel so much, he was willing to work seven years for her hand in marriage. Unfortunately, his own deceit comes back to haunt him as his treacherous father-in-law substitutes Leah, the older and less beautiful sister, for the bride Jacob has long awaited. He is entrapped into working seven more years for his beloved.

Jill Eileen Smith takes this section of scripture and deftly weaves additional drama into the white spaces in this Genesis account. The rivalry between Leah and Rachel begins in their childhood home, echoing what Jacob left behind. Vying for his father’s blessing with Esau had culminated in Jacob’s deception and his life being threatened. Guilt plagues him and he becomes saddled with two wives vying for his love and the right to bear his sons. Yet his heart desires only one.

Smith brings them to life with characters you will care about and remember. They are no longer people who lived long ago you read about in the span of a few pages, but instead a husband, wives, mothers and fathers. They have prized love and family above wealth, struggled to know and understand the one, true God and experienced the frailty of life.

Lily’s two-cents: This was a really good book, except that nobody has a cat. Jacob has lots of sheep, but again, no cats! Also, Rachel and Leah had to share their husband, Jacob. I don’t like to share . . . anything! Mom says she’s glad she doesn’t have to share Dad, but she does share him with me. She says that’s a lot different. Well, okay, I suppose. Anyway, despite those little things I don’t totally understand, Mom and I give Rachel four paws up!

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.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Monday Motivation - Have You Encouraged Another Writer Today?


Have You Encouraged Another Writer Today? 

While I often share about creativity or making time to write, spending time with other writers on Saturday had me thinking. Like shape shifting aliens from another galaxy, writers mingle, disguised, among normal earthlings. We look the same as our family members and friends, but trapped inside lurks someone else.

That person speaks a different language, talking about their “wip”. Three-act structure, GMC, character boards, the voices in our heads, showing versus telling . . . all of these things sound like foreign terminology even to the most brilliant among us . . . unless they’re a part of our world. The beloved normal people in our lives may learn some of it, so they can listen and comment; but they don’t live it.

Whether meeting with critique partners, attending a workshop or a conference, writers find encouragement and refreshment among others who know and work on the craft. We understand each other—the need to create people and worlds and stories, which we feel compelled to share. We may work at different skill levels and modes of success, but there is an understanding.

Have you encouraged another writer today? Read their blog and left a comment? Read their book and given a helpful review? Offered to critique or beta read for a friend? Prayed for a friend’s writing career? When taking time to communicate, to encourage others, we can be further energized and motivated in our own work. 

Attending conferences or workshops to meet face-to-face can also be a great motivator. Although, most writers tend to be introverts and a large conference may be overwhelming, connecting with even a few people can be helpful.

Can’t attend the national ACFW Conference this year? Have you checked out the At-Home Conference on-line in the fall of 2014? If you live in or near Michigan, the ACFW Great Lakes Chapter has meetings set up around the state. Get connected! Get motivated!

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.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Saturday Spiritual Uplift - A Likeminded People


A Likeminded People
Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. (Philippians 2:1-4, NLT)

Do you ever have those moments, hours, days, weeks or months when you feel like you don’t have the strength to get through your trials? Times when the bad news seems too much and you long for a touch of the Spirit? I had a week like that, but the good news is that God sent encouragement in a totally different area of my life.

Today I was at a meeting with a workshop for writers on the current Christian fiction market. I had planned the meeting out and attempted to gain publicity, though it was shorter notice than I would have liked. Finally, I figured if there weren’t many people in attendance that was the way the Lord was planning it. There were seven of us, so we were all sitting together at one table while agent Linda S. Glaz presented her material.

Each attendee had an opportunity to share what they were working on. Some shared what they liked to read. There was the peace and joy of Christians coming together to share their passion for the gift of writing, which the Lord Jesus has called them to share with others, in obedience to Him. Make no mistake, it’s not an easy road. Rejections and criticism are more abundant than praise and contracts!

Great Lakes Chapter
With a Christian writing group, they are more likely to encourage one another and share their ideas without fear, because there is support—not that everyone always agrees. However, this was a time where I was amidst the camaraderie, which inspires, had a chance to make new friends and reconnect with old, and truly felt that I’m not alone.

While other areas of my life have been very painful recently, God was so good to give me refreshment in the midst of a tough journey, reminding me there are many positive things to focus on. All is not lost, all is not bad. He is there leading me in green pastures, refreshing my soul, giving strength for the days ahead. 

Thank you, Lord for a the blessing of a wonderful day and the fellowship of likeminded believers. Open my eyes to the love You show me each day. Please use me to encourage and lift my brothers and sisters in Christ.