Thursday, October 23, 2008

Another Contest!

It's Here!
Holding a book you've authored in your hands for the first time is much like cradling a child you've just given birth to. Two days ago I finally got to "hug" a copy of Walk With Me! It won't go out to the Heartsong book club until December, but I have a few copies. If you'd like to be one of the first to read and write a review, post a 50-word-or-less reason why you want to read this romance. Be creative and ping my heartstrings with your plea!! (Family and critique partners excluded--you'll get your own copy anyway!) I'll pick a winner on November 6.

The Eyes of God

My greatest joy at this stage in life is to have every one of my kids and grandkids under the same roof. We were blessed with that this past weekend. Eighteen of us plus little Lilly who we won't meet for another two months. I could sit for hours and just watch all the different four daughters-in-law sorting through baby clothes four manly sons scattering like leaves in the wind when I sneak up with the camera... I love the baby swapping as Keira and Oliver get passed around a circle of aunts and uncles. The six "big" kids took over the island in the kitchen with pipe cleaners, colored puff balls, googly eyes, and lots of glue. Reagan, Sage, Ethan, and Peter created cute little creatures, wacky glasses, and hats. Sawyer, our resident scientist, constructed an H2O molecule and a DNA chain! Things turned silly when googly eyes started sprouting on foreheads!

I won't claim that this deep spiritual thought came to me in the midst of the goofiness, but when I looked at the pictures later it occurred to me that the eyes of our Heavenly Father are always on these kids. I love this verse from Zephaniah: "The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Years ago I read that verse and it hit me with enough force to leave a lasting mark. God spoke these words over Jerusalem, but I believe they apply to His children as individuals, too. Almighty God, Creator of the Universe, stands over us and rejoices with singing!

Knowing that we each get such tender, unique attention from Him prompts me all the more to pray for my kids and grandkids. I started praying for my boys (and their future wives) when they were babies and God has been so faithful and generous with his answers. What a privilege to pray for the next generation. Of all the things we try to do as parents and grandparents to raise our offspring in the ways of God, I believe with all my heart that prayer is the single most important thing. And it's NEVER too late to start!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

New News

Trish Perry, author of the very fun book The Guy I'm Not Dating, interviewed me on her blog this week. Stop by and leave a comment to be eligible to win a copy of Walk with Me:

More news: Heartsong Presents offered Cathy and me another 3-book contract! We're praising God and getting to work on this series that tells the stories of three generations of women who call Galena, Illinois home. On Sunday of this week, hubby Bill is running the Chicago Marathon. Guess what I'll be doing while he's running for almost four hours? Research! You can look forward to a romantic scene in Grant Park because, due to the timing of this new contract, our hero in book one, Pleasant Surprises, just became a marathon runner! Although, the romantic scenes I've had with Bill at the finish line are always a little...restrained. It's hard to hug a sweaty guy covered in Mylar!

Because I was recently (this morning!) asked by a friend if I would ever consider writing a romance about a "mature" woman, I want to point out that one of the heroines in this Illinois series is in her forties and another in her sixties. And, yes, they all fall in love!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pedal Pushers -- Thoughts that spur me on while biking country roads

Finding Beauty
I went out for a ride around four this afternoon. My bike and I made long flat shadows as the sun inched toward the trees. Most of the oranges and reds are muted now, but I was struck by the beauty in the browns and tans. Crinkled-paper leaves on corn stalks, closed and rusted heads of Queen Anne's lace, weeds that hid all summer in green grass, are now blushing red. To think that all of this richness comes only in the process of dying...

I could chase that metaphor down a lot of paths, but I chose to ponder why it is so hard for me--and I imagine I'm not alone--to find beauty in the death of a vision. I thought back to the years when I joked of wallpapering a room with rejection slips. My goal was to see my first book published by the time I was 25. But with two little boys, I couldn't wrap my brain around tackling a novel, so I worked on poetry and short stories. In my "office"--a corner under the bare beams in the attic--I typed them out in triplicate, sacrificing a few trees in the process. And then I waited for the mail. And waited...and when it came I filled file folders with rejection slips. Why was it that I felt the calling to write but wasn't getting anywhere? Maybe I'd read the signals wrong. Another son was born, 25 came and went, as did my thirties... Maybe, I thought, I should just stick to journaling, leaving a legacy only for my future grandchildren.

And then one day in 1992, the phone rang. Without preamble, Cathy, my friend of 18 years, said, "I just threw a book at the wall. We can write better than this!" And so it began. By this point I was raising four boys. Cathy had three children. But we took up the challenge. And then came the unbelievable moment when Heartsong accepted Beauty for Ashes.

Looking back, of course, I can see the beauty in those discouraging days. In 1977, the year I turned 25--the age I'd planned to be published--I called myself a Christian, but really didn't know what that meant. I had so much to learn...about life, about the Lord, and about the craft. By 1994, when Beauty for Ashes came out,the genre of Inspirational Romance, which didn't even exist in 1977, was gaining attention. Heartsong Presents was a new line, looking for new writers. God's time, God's project.

I want to learn from the canvas I stared at on my ride today. I want to recognize that rust and brown and tawny gold are just as beautiful as summer greens and vibrant reds. The lesson I want to hang on to is...even as I long for spring, I can enjoy the journey and the beauty of the season and know that God is never late. And that would be my prayer for you.