Prepare to have your heart melted

Something to make your smile, no matter what kind of day you’re having! While you’re at it, go check out some of J. Keller Ford other posts. She’s delightful. 🙂

Published? No… Available to read? Yes!

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Friends, this is Shackles. You know, the one I thought would be paying the bills 2 months after penning ‘the end’? Yeah that one…

I wouldn’t call it published, I prefer to think of it as being available online to be downloaded, read and (crosses fingers) enjoyed. It is slowly filtering through the system and should be available at your favourite ebook store shortly.

In a way, I’m sowing this one. Off you go little words, off into the big wide world to do what you were strung together for…

Credit for the cover must go to the fabulous WolfWorx, who happens to blog right here on WordPress. If you haven’t popped across to his blog, go check it out now. He is a seriously talented photographic artist who also happens to be my seriously cool big brother. 🙂

I’ve enjoyed working with Smashwords. It’s a stunning ebook concept, extremely well organised & managed. I think this whole process will make me more useful as a writer and a friend of writers.

I’ve also been playing with a new website. Isn’t it pretty?

I’m done yakking, your turn. What have you been up to?

 

2014: Syncing and Downloading

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I’ve had this post regarding new years resolutions brewing for weeks now and I thought it would be best to get it out before January is over. Good plan, yes? Did you make any? How is that working out for you?

I don’t do resolutions for the simple reason it’s like drawing a line in the sand. The moment that groove appears, I am filled with an overwhelming urge to slap my big, hairy toe over it. It’s not that I’m a rebel. I’m just genetically bent towards sabotaging myself.

So I had this discussion with Jesus about 2014. All the normal stuff – what should I get involved with, what needs to be priority… what time-suckers should be hacked off and destroyed as hazardous radioactive energy-zapping waste. I want this year to be different. One thing that already is (different), is that I’m a proud owner of a Kindle. A friend (you know who you are!) bought me one and I’m smitten. I love that it has a little line on the menu for ‘syncing and downloading’. Click on those words, and you have whatever books you’ve ordered at your fingertips in seconds.

That’s when He switched the lights on. It’s got nothing to do with deciding my priorities using my brain and limited knowledge of what this year holds, and everything to do with getting in sync with Heaven and downloading His latest blueprints. The access is instant and the download, immediate. And the best part? You can hit that little line 20, 50… 100 times a day. The Kindle doesn’t mind and neither does God. If there is anything new, you’ll be on the receiving end. If not, He won’t get irritated with you for asking.

Here’s to a year constructed according to His perfect blueprint!

 

 

 

Trust the Process (Why waiting is good for you)

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Way back at the start of my writing journey, I naively thought it would take a month or two to sell my novel once I’d finished writing it (which I did mid-year 2005).  I scoffed at writers who only managed to sell the third or fourth book they’d penned thinking that would never be me. I laugh now when I look back – I pushed hard to finish my first book thinking that would be our source of grocery money in a month or two’s time. I know, right?! Writer friends – pick yourself up off the floor, stop sniggering and keep reading please.

The transition from that level of bright-eyed faith in my calling to the impossible hope sober reality of getting a book published broke my heart many times over. I argued with God – how can He tell me to do something, then make it impossible for me to do? I fought, pleaded, declared in faith, got my friends to agree with me, still Heaven wouldn’t budge. In those early days, the one thing He did say consistently was that I was going to have to trust Him beyond what I’d ever trusted Him before. Ouch.

Did I ever want to give up? I’d be lying if I said no, and bad things happen to people who lie so… heck yeah. And I did, many times over. And yet, here I am still writing. And the strangest part of it all? I’m grateful that my first book wasn’t published the month after I’d finished writing it. Sounds crazy, but I am grateful to the very marrow in my bones and here’s why:

1) I’ve developed a writing work ethic that doesn’t depend on the acceptance / approval of others. Its a sneaky trap for a writer – there is nothing quite like the charge we get when someone ooo’s and aaah’s over our work, or we get a request for more, or we land that freelance job – it buoys us to keep the words flowing. But I found the energy from each positive would only carry me so far and I’d be needing my next fix of approval. I need to know what is in my gut to say to the world, and be true to put my bum in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard. Regardless of the feedback I do or do not get.

2)  My skill as a writer has grown. I’ve had time to glean and absorb, to apply and work my writing muscles.

3) I appreciate any writing gaps that I get in my busy days. I don’t scoff at a stolen 10 minutes or a forward push of 500 words. It all adds up, builds and brings your book that tiny bit closer to being finished.

4) I’m getting to know myself as a writer – who my key audience is, what I should avoid writing, where my sweet spot is, the most effective way for me to tackle a project.

5) I’ve let go of the need to manipulate God’s timing and am able to let Him help me wait graciously and productively without the tantrums and crises of faith. He gave me the gift, He will use it best in His good timing. As much as I still get the odd day of throwing toys, I know I can trust Him to help me manage my heart in the meantime.

The process of waiting is a beautiful thing. It causes our roots to dig deeper into our Source, making us less likely to wither at the first blast of a hot wind or drought. It makes us tough yet, strangely, more flexible. It prepares us for the work that is written into our DNA to do.

And so I’ve learnt to trust the process, not only for the process itself, but because I know the Author of the process.

How do you cope with waiting? I’d love to hear from you.

 

3 Cats, 1 Mom and God

Kittens! 058We have 3 cats. You can read about how we got them here. They are sisters, so they share genes. They’ve grown up in the same home – ours – and we’ve done our best to make sure they get equal rights, privileges and love. In spite of that, their personalities are completely unique.

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This is Gwinny. Short for Guinevere. She is a complete lady, secure in her charms. Having perfected the art of the flop, she can melt hearts in 2 seconds flat. All she needs to do is run across the room with the purring-meow thing she does, flop on your lap (your book, your work, your laptop … the effect is the same) and you are hooked. Smitten. Stuck until she moves. She is the fluffiest of the three and somehow commandeered the soft fur genes.

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The beauty on the right is Ginger. Her fur is more coarse and from day one, she has been less open to being loved.

The third is Sleepy and she doesn’t feature in today’s thought. Sorry Sleepy.

Back to the other two – I love cats. In spite of hideous cat allergies, they make a house a home and add so much life and love. But here’s the thing that struck me – Gwinny lets me love her. When I bend down to rub her head, she purrs and pushes against my hand. Ginger cringes and pulls away. Not all the time, but mostly.

Guess who gets the most evidence of my love.

I love each cat just as much as the others, but that’s not what it looks like to someone who doesn’t know me. That got me thinking about God and His love for us. When He draws close to show us how much He loves us, do we press into His hand, secure in His love, enjoying His attention? Or do we pull away?

There are many reasons to hold back, to be wary of opening up to Him. I know that. But I also know that not one of those reasons comes from His heart.

Interesting thought, hey?

 

 

 

Na-NOOOOOOO!-WriMo

 

 

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I signed  up for Nano again this year. Can you read the stupid tattoo on my forehead? Yeah, thought so.

You see, I write slowly. For a slow writer to sign up for Nano is like being lactose intolerant at an all-you-can-drink-milkshake bar. Sooner or later there will be pain and suffering. Right now I’m about 6K behind where I should be and feel the belly punch when all my eager Nano buddies (check out the awesome Jamie Raintree *secretly turns green cheers wildly*) skip around boasting 5K days… and ‘being ahead’ of where they’re meant to be. You go, buddies, you go!  I’ll just keep plodding.

I’m always hoping to find a way to speed up. Looking at it analytically, there are many factors.  I suspect my biggest issue is more about brain-space than writing ability. 3 kids, 2 jobs… I get talked at for a large part of each day. Not too much ‘quiet soil’ for ideas to germinate in. Not that I’m about to lay down and surrender to that excuse either. There has to be a way.

I have taken to planning more before I start writing than what I used to … I outline in the broadest sense the opening and closing, key events along the way. I live with my characters in my head for weeks, watching them under different circumstances, figuring out what makes them buzz. But even then, I have writing buddies who can plan entire novels, chapter by chapter and scene by scene, all the way from chapter 1 to those two lovely words – The End. I can’t do that.

For me, starting a novel is like standing outside an unfamiliar house. There are certain things you can tell from the outside – how many stories, is it a mansion or a hovel, built from cardboard boxes or fine marble… but the real adventure starts when you step through the front door. You discover that there are many doors leading off the passage. You get to open those doors and meet the characters, explore settings that make your work come alive.

My conundrum is this – writing the way I do works for me. My story has time to breathe itself into full-blown life. I write clean, my first drafts are never train-wrecks. And yet I feel strongly about increasing my output, which means I need to speed up.

What do you think?

 

How not to eat a nut… some thoughts on Law & Grace

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I watched my friend eat pecan nuts the other day. She bit them open, easily shedding the hard shell to get to the yummy stuff inside. Stuck at work the next day, I found some in my bag. Without me knowing, she’d shared her loot with me. I was delighted. Hungry and delighted. I followed her example and crunched one between my molars. There’s obviously a knack I don’t have as they crumbled, smooshing together shell and nut.

I was determined to get those nuts into my belly. Picking out all the bits of shell I could see, I tossed the rest into my mouth and bit down hard. My teeth connected with bits of solid shell and it was all I could do not to spit it all out. I tried. I really tried to pick out the remaining bits of shell so I could enjoy the good stuff, but it was virtually impossible.

And then I realized that that is what trying to live by a mixture of Law and Grace is like. The bits of Law, however small, render the goodness of Grace impossible to savour.

In a way you could say that Jesus took care of the shell, leaving us to enjoy the nut.

No shell for me, I just want the nut.

Romans 7 verse 6

265 in… 100 to go

UnHinged 1My diary informs me that today is the 265th day of 2013. There are 100 days until another year bites the dust. Its enough to make my head split in half.

I’ve been scarce here, I know. I do poke my nose in to check up on you every so often. Quietly, like a mouse. Or a stalker. Just kidding. 🙂

So what have I been up to… I finished Finding Mia in the first half of the year. It’s with a publisher and I should get the thumbs up or down by the middle of October.  The second half of the year was taken up with putting on a stage show UnHinged. That all went down last week and I’ve slowly been finding my brain since.

Here are some pics of the action on stage, taken by the legendary WolfWorx. The mastermind behind WolfWorx is Brian – a photographic artist. He also blogs right here on WordPress so pop over and say hi..

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2013 also saw my first words in print in a book rather than a magazine. Not Your Mothers Book on Home Improvement is a fun anthology all about misadventures in DIY. My contribution is 1 tiny story out of 65! Haha! But I love small beginnings, because they have a tendency to grow into bigger things.

For some even bigger news – I actually read a book this week. From start to finish, in a day. It was glorious! The kidlets were a little shell-shocked at having to make their own lunch, but I called it tough love and moved on.

It’s a New Dawn, it’s a New Day!

It's a New Dawn, it's a New Day!

Too nice to be a writer?

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Hi! Hope 2013 is being kind to you and those you love.

Today, I’m blogging over on the amwriting blog. Pop on over and let me know if you’re a gleeful hand rubber, or if flinging challenges makes your heart ache.

Or you might want to read about how real life makes you a better writer.

On the subject of real life, indulge me and take a moment to vote…

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