Women’s History Month Spotlight – JK Rowling

JK Rowling

JK Rowling offers hope to aspiring writers and is proof that it doesn’t take money to make your dreams come true. It simply takes passion, perseverance, and persistence.

At one point, prior to the success of the Harry Potter series, JK Rowling found herself in a deep depression, divorced and with a baby daughter to support, no job, and living on unemployment. Those are some huge obstacles to overcome!

In her writing life, not only was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone rejected 12 times, J.K. Rowling was told not to quit her day job. Ouch! I can only imagine how those who rejected Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone must kick themselves daily for by-passing such a masterpiece.  Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was penned in cafes while JK Rowling and her daughter survived on benefits.

It is our choices… that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.  -J. K. Rowling

Now not only is she one of the top women authors of all time, Rowling was named the “Most Influential Woman in Britain” in October 2010. Now that, my friends, is success. Taking lemons and making lemonade. What a true inspiration to women and writers everywhere.

Never give up

 

Women’s History Month Spotlight – Ruth Bell Graham

Ruth & Billy

As far back as I can remember I’ve admired Ruth Bell Graham’s devotion to her husband and family. She’s always reminded me of the woman in Proverbs 31 – the woman I’ve always hoped to be.

Since I’ve gone through a divorce, I appreciate her strength and stamina even more. (This isn’t one of those “it was all his fault” stories, much as I wish it were. I fully claim my responsibility.) But even during those tumultuous times, when I was failing miserably at marriage, Ruth Bell Graham remained my mentor. It just takes me a while to learn. 🙂

I looked to her as a role model, as a woman who loved her husband, even when I’m sure she didn’t feel like it, (we all have those times, don’t we?) and yet she soldiered on with beauty and grace. Through her life, I’ve come to know that love is not just a feeling. It’s a choice. And learning that has made me one extremely happy, grateful, and blessed wife today.  Thank you Ruth.

DSC00099

“The fact is that both husband and wife are rough when the marriage begins. They shape each other through the trials and struggles they face together. When a couple falls to their knees and prays together, that is where true shaping takes place. Those who abandon ship the first time it enters a storm miss the calm beyond. And the rougher the storms weathered together, the deeper and stronger real love grows.”  -Ruth Bell Graham

 

 

 

 

Women’s History Month Spotlight – Mary, Mother of Jesus

mother-mary-with-child-jesus

As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a mother. Little did I know back then, that role would far surpass any joy I’ve ever experienced. And that it would rocket my capacity to worry past the moon. I’m pretty sure I can count on one hand the number of nights of uninterrupted sleep I’ve had since my boys were born. And this month they turn 24 and 27!

Mary, on the other hand, knew she was going to lose her son. She knew she was going to give birth to the Lord of heaven and earth, and knew from Jesus himself what was forthcoming. Could you imagine? I’m not sure–no, I am sure–I would never have been able to handle that with such grace, such trust in God, such beauty, as she did. She was the epitome of what a mother should be.

I’ve kept journals for each of my boys until they were 12 years old. I wrote in those journals every day when they were younger, a little less frequently as they got older, but even then, at least a few times a week. I tried to capture the miracle of everything life gave them every single day – the joy, the hurts, the lessons. When I read those journals, it’s like experiencing those magical days of motherhood again. What a miracle! My boys have taught me the definition of real and unconditional love. They’ve taught me how beautiful it is to see life through the eyes of a child. And through it all, they’ve taught me to trust Jesus.

images511DL4VT

Another miracle of being a mother? I’m a grandmother. And what a joy that is! 🙂

photo 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summing up Publication

1000789_602599603108372_472059398_n

I was walking with a co-worker the other day (one I don’t know well) and at one point the conversation went like this:

Her:  “Didn’t I read somewhere that you’re a published author?”

Me:    “Yes, I am.”

Her:   “How did you go about getting published? My sister-in-law wants to publish a YA book but she heard getting published is really hard.”

Me:     …Nothing. As in crickets.

This co-worker is absolutely the sweetest thing ever! So I tried, I really did, to come up with an answer to satisfy her curiosity, but I had nothin’.  My tongue was tied, but the thought that exploded in my brain was how different writers are from the non-writers of the world. We’re wired differently. Like really different from the non-writers in the world.

I wanted to say that if one is writing just to get published, she’s missing the best part of the journey. Getting to the destination of publication wouldn’t be nearly worth the trip if not for everything that comes before it. Even the rejections and bad reviews.

I wanted to say that wanting to be published and wanting to write are not synonymous with one another. Without the writing, the publication cannot happen. Start with writing, keep on writing, and never stop writing. Then, and only then, will publication even be a possibility.

I wanted to say that there isn’t only one way to get to publication, but for every writer on the planet there is yet another route to get there. If there were one tried and true method, everyone who set out to write a book would  be published.

I wanted to say that publication is where the real insecurities and headaches begin. It’s at that place where a writer is at their most vulnerable and raw state. It’s there where the sleepless nights and gnashing of teeth occur, our brains churning round and round like a squirrel in a cage because our baby is out there for all the world to criticize. And I for one am of the mind that people can say what they want about me, I’ll get over it, but please, oh please, don’t criticize my babies. That slices right through my mama’s heart.

I wanted to say that publication isn’t the be-all end-all. It’s a small part of the joy of writing. It’s a small piece of the whole. And a very small piece at that. But if one writes simply to be published, it’s pretty much a sure thing that the satisfaction will be less than,and shorter lived, than what was expected.

I wanted to simply  say, “Write. And never, ever, ever, no matter what, stop.”

Never give up

I wanted to say that there are so many steps that need to come before the publication that wondering how to get published before doing everything else is like planning for high school graduation day before you have your children. The goal of making sure your kids graduate from high school is a worthy one, but think of all you would miss out on if that were your sole focus.

What I did say, finally, when I was able to untangle the knots from my tongue, was:

“Our mile walk isn’t nearly long enough to give you an answer, but the first thing I would tell her is to join a writer’s group, in person or online. And take it from there.”

Paulo CoelhoLet’s talk. Have you had a non-writer ask you a writing question that reinforced how different writers are from non-writers? What was the question and how did you respond? What would have told the person in my case?

Oh! And don’t forget, NaNoWriMo starts in less than two days. Are you ready? Let me know if you want to be writing buddies during November.  🙂

 

Nature’s Voice

On a morning run recently I was running behind a squirrel who had a large plastic wrapper in its mouth. The wrapper blocked his view, so he was running in a zig zag fashion trying to get away, failing at his endeavor. As I got closer, he ditched the wrapper (literally) and bee-lined in a straight line climbing a pole to safety.

On my cool down walk, I got to thinking about the squirrel. He reminded me of how we oftentimes get so caught up in what we’re doing and where we’re trying to go that we can’t see where it is we actually need to go. We take off running helter skelter on a course we’ve designed for ourselves rather than ask Him to guide us. We pick up garbage along the way and it blocks us from seeing and following the One who can get us where we need to go safely. We let the garbage in life prevent us from tasting life’s goodness. Take the following, for instance:

  • We allow the judgements of others to dictate who we are.
  • We compare ourselves to others, blinding ourselves to our unique goodness.
  • We believe we don’t deserve goodness because of what we’ve done in the past. (ie: I’m an alcoholic/addict/thief/liar–or whatever your vice may have been–and have hurt people in the past. I don’t deserve forgiveness.)

When the truth is:

  • We are each and every one unique and equal.
  • Despite the fact we may make poor choices, it doesn’t make us bad people. It makes us human. Humans are fallible.
  • Whether a stay-at-home mom or a high paid executive, you are exactly where you need to be at that very moment in time. Bloom where you’re planted, learn as you grow. And just my humble opinion, stay-at-home mom’s are priceless. 🙂

At the end of my cool-down walk, nature spoke to me yet again. I passed a pavilion in the park, under from which came swallows diving at me from every angle trying to divert me from my path. Satan’s fiery darts attempt to do the same thing. The question is, are we going to let them? Or are we going to stand firm in our beliefs and values?  Are we going to succumb to those who attempt to thwart our successes and goodness, or are we going to rise above it and prevail?

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.” ~George Washington Carver

2015-09-18 18.49.51

 

 

 

 

 

Love One Another as I Have Loved You

Love one another as I have loved you.  -John 13:34

Estes, 8.1.14 024

For those of you who have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know my husband and I like to go bike riding. We have a stunningly beautiful trail that follows the river and goes into Denver, about 30 miles round trip. It’s also a trail that attracts many homeless men and women that set up camp along the river and under the overpasses.

Also, for those of you who have been reading my blog for the past couple of months, you know my sisters and I, as well as others we recruited, had a 30-day prayer challenge where we tuned into those around us and prayed for a stranger each day. That trail gives endless opportunities to pray for strangers in need.

And here’s where the two tie together.

About a month ago on one of our bike rides, I saw a person way up ahead crawling on the concrete trail. I watched as several bikes passed by this person, swerving around him, barely taking notice. As I approached him I heard him groaning, struggling to continue on. My husband was a ways behind me and I stopped by this young man, who was clearly homeless, and asked if he was okay. During this time, more bikes passed by, and those that looked, quickly glanced away. I asked him if he was okay, he said he was fine. We exchanged a few more words, he insisting he was fine. I got on my bike and continued, slowly, until my husband caught up to me. But when he did, I stopped. Something was keeping me from continuing. I couldn’t leave this man, hurt, in the middle of nowhere. I told my husband I had to go back and see what I could do.

Now, given the professions in which we work (my husband is a police officer and I work at a District Attorney’s Office), it’s all too easy to become skeptical and jaded about humanity. My husband didn’t think it was a good idea, thinking he might have been high on drugs or alcohol. But I insisted it didn’t matter if he was high or drunk, he was hurt. I could feel it in my gut. My husband agreed to turn around with me and go back.

As it turned out, he was hurt. He’d fallen the night before, thought his foot was likely broken, and was trying to make it into Denver. I asked him if I could call someone for him, he said he didn’t have anyone. I asked if I could call 911, he said he didn’t have any money, to just go ahead and he’d be fine.

I’d decided as soon as we reached Denver I would find someone who would know how to help this man. And the next mile was spent doing mental gymnastices trying to figure out how I could help him.

And then it happened. I heard in my head, the unmistakeable message, “You can’t help him, Rhonda, but I can. Ask Me.”

It was a clear message that gave me goosebumps on every square inch of my arms. God had placed this man in my path and I’d been so caught up in what I could do, that I nearly missed what I could do. This man was my stranger for the day, the one I was to pray for, and I nearly missed that golden opportunity.

When we reached Denver, I told my husband what had happened, and how it changed my heart. Once again, it struck me that praying for others blesses the person praying as much, if not more than, the one being prayed for.

On the way  back we saw him again. He smiled at us and we stopped. My husband pulled out his wallet and tried to offer him some help. The man said he couldn’t take the money, that he would be fine. That statement changed my husband’s heart. A homeless person refusing money??? Finally my husband said, “Please take it. It’s for me, not for you.” The man’s eyes pierced my husband’s heart, he took the offering and said, “Thank you for your blessing.”

Say what?!?

I believe God put that man in our path that day to change both my husband and me. My heart broke to see so many people pass by as if the man, crawling on the pavement, were nonexistent. As if they were afraid to notice him or too caught up in life to notice someone struggling. And it saddened me to think that that’s what has become of our society. Those that are homeless are every bit as precious in God’s eyes as anyone else. They are His children. And if someone passed by my children when they were struggling and hurt, it would rip my heart out.

Helping one another, helping to make life that can be beyond difficult easier for someone else, giving to another the grace and mercy that is so freely given to us–isn’t that what life is about?

Mother Teresa

Time to share – Tell me about a time you’ve helped someone else and how it changed you in ways you never expected.

 

 

Finding the Lesson in the Mistake

mistakes

As I posted last week, my book Shear Madness was released. Yes, great news, but now for the not so great.

When I was reading my Kindle version after it went live, I learned an extremely important lesson: ALWAYS read the manuscript, after the editor is done, and not just the parts that were edited, but the entire thing.  Very carefully. After all of my read-throughs, other people that have read it, and the editor, there were still errors I found after taking a month away from the manuscript and reading with fresh eyes. Unfortunately after it went live.  An editor cannot be expected to catch every error. That responsibility falls on none other than the author. So sales were temporarily suspended until said errors were corrected and now it’s back in the world of readers again.

I say this so other beginning authors can learn from my mistake, and to say that as disappointing as it was, at least I learned the lesson, so it wasn’t for naught. 🙂  I’ve noticed mistakes in the books of authors such as James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell, but the difference is, when you’re that famous you can afford to make those mistakes. For someone just breaking into the field, mistakes can be fatal to one’s writing career.

That being said, I have a new deep respect for the editing process and am convinced my next book will be all the better for it.

Amen! 🙂

“Well, we all make mistakes, dear, so just put it behind you. We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us.” –L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea  

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” –L.M. Montgomery