Monday, January 19, 2015

1949 Advice from Singer and Writers of Old

I saw this image on Facebook and just had to laugh. People had such a different mindset, not to mention expectations, back then. Remember those 1950’s TV shows such as Leave it to Beaver and I Love Lucy? It seems no matter what the women were doing— vacuuming, dusting, or preparing dinner—they were wearing nylon stockings, high heels, and their hair was perfectly coiffed. Crazy.

I prefer vacuuming in my pajamas or sweats, thank you.

After reading those words from the 1949 Singer Sewing Manual, I got to thinking about authors from the old days. Things were way different back then. They typed entire manuscripts on typewriters using actual sheets of paper. Can you imagine what it would take to produce a full-length novel? Did they type out a first draft, go back and revise it, and then re-type the whole thing all over again? They must have gone through reams of paper and typewriter ribbons in those days. I’m sure they pulled their hair out before “The End” ever made it to paper. Maybe that’s why most of them wore hats.

And what did writers do before the advent of typewriters? Parchment and feathers dipped in ink?

If you think long and hard about how rough those authors of old had it before computers became main stream, with their delete keys and back space buttons, you’ll have a whole new appreciation for writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Dickens.

We have so easy, don’t you think?

Friday, July 18, 2014

My what is for sale?

I allowed myself to get too busy to keep up this blog. Literally neglected the poor thing. Then one day I decided to join a new writer's site. I uploaded a picture for my profile, wrote a bio, and provided my blog's URL. Since I hadn't posted in my blog in months, I decided to pay my blog a visit. Lo and behold, a glaring page came up announcing my domain was for sale. Gasp!
It turned out I let my domain expire.
Thinking all I had to do was renew it, I expected my blog to come up all nice and pretty like it had always done. Not so. I ended up having to go through the steps outlined in Blogger to use my own domain name. I felt like I was reinventing the wheel. After getting through a few glitches with the web host where my domain is parked, my blog finally came up.
Fortunately, my life doesn't depend on my blog being active, so to have it down for a few weeks didn't break me. But there are bloggers out there whose lively-hood is centered around their online presence. I can only imagine how awful it would be for them to lose even a day.
Now that I'm back online with my blog, I'm doing the happy dance. Maybe now I won't take it for granted. The day will come when I might really need it to promote my writing, not to mention retaining ownership of my domain so potential readers can find me.
Word to the wise, don't ever allow your domain name (URL) expire.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Pendleton Blanket

Chief Joseph Blanket,

When you think of Pendleton, what comes to mind? Wool shirts? Plaid? Blankets?
When I traveled to Montana last summer and visited the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, we went into Faught's Blackfeet Trading Post. The first thing that caught my attention was the row of Pendleton Blankets hanging just beneath the ceiling. I loved the colorful, geometric patterns and soon realized these blankets are very popular among the Native People.
My Lakota friend, who escorted me around Montana, dances in pow wows. While I stayed in her home, she showed me her regalia--the outfits she wears while dancing--and pointed out a beautiful earthy red dress made from a Pendleton blanket. All of her regalia is special and ornately decorated with shell, bone, feathers, and other natural objects depending on the dance style. It didn't take long for me to realize Pendleton blankets offer warmth, function, durability, and beauty. If I had room in my suitcase, I would have purchased one.
This morning, I opened an email from They are holding a drawing and giving away a Chief Joseph Pendleton Blanket. It's absolutely beautiful (see the picture above). If you're interested in entering this contest, just click on this link: Pendleton Blanket Giveaway 
Leave a comment and let me know if you entered. If you end up winning, leave a comment. If you love Pendleton Woolen Mills (they're goods are made right here in the U.S.A.), leave a comment.
Looking forward to reading your thoughts!

By the way, I hear it's going to be a long, cold winter. Hmm, maybe I better buy a Pendleton blanket. If I don't win one, that is.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Feel Good About Your Writing

For those of us who consider writing a ministry and the main person we want to please is the Lord, staying humble while people rave about our latest book can be a struggle. On the other hand, some of us are easily discouraged when comparing ourselves to others or even comparing our first novel to our latest one. When I wrote my debut novel, I knew very little about creative writing. I also self-edited my book. I’ve educated myself since then and find I’m often ashamed of my first publication.
During my trip to Montana, my friend introduced me to a woman who read my first novel. She was so excited to meet me and with great enthusiasm, told me how much she loved my book. Needless to say, I was encouraged. Her accolades took away my shame.
The Lord wants us to be humble. All we have and all we are is because of Him. Without Christ, we are nothing. But He also wants us to be happy and content. Feeling sorry for ourselves, harboring guilt or shame, puts the focus on us and not on God. If we live our life in a pity party, the world will not see Jesus in us.
alt="Lake McDonald"

How can we be the best writer we can be while walking the Jesus road as humble servants?
  • Pray each time you sit down to write, asking God to give you the right words.
  • Join a critique group of like-minded people who write for the Lord.
  • Never stop learning. Read books and blogs about writing. Attend workshops and conferences.
  • Read other people’s books to get inspired.
  • If you get discouraged, take a break from writing or write something silly, or try a different genre. 
  • Network with positive people who share your faith, in person or online.  You’ll gain prayer warriors, make friends, and find you’re not alone in  your writing journey. 
    Fellow writers, what do you do when you get discouraged with your writing? Please share your experience and advice. 


Thursday, July 18, 2013

I Love Montana

McDonald Falls
I’ve been in Montana for four full days now, but it only took a few hours standing upon its soil for it to claim a permanent spot in my heart. Choosing this beautiful state as a setting for a book and writing about it for the past few years had already convinced me it’s a special place. I’m blessed beyond measure God allowed me to come here. The mountains, the plains, the rivers, and the people have proved more wonderful than I imagined.
Thanks to the wonderful hospitality of friends, I experienced firsthand what it may have felt like for my protagonist when she arrived in Montana. I landed in Bozeman, she landed in Great Falls. There’s a huge difference, so we drove by Great Falls International Airport. The modest airport sits on a bluff that overlooks the city. Planes take off and land at the north end where there’s quite a drop-off. I’m told it feels like the plane will go over the cliff just before it lifts off the runway. Driving into and around Great Falls helped me to see what my character saw when the kind Blackfoot doctor chauffeured her from the airport to the reservation. The mountains are further away than I envisioned, but I was right on about the grasslands. Prairie as far as the eye can see. It’s not flat, but rolling. The bluffs, coulees, cottonwood trees, and the winding Missouri River gives the eye plenty to feast upon. 
Saint. Mary Lake
When we hit the road to take in the sights, we started in the mountains. The Rockies are truly spectacular, as are the many mountain ranges fingering out from the “backbone of the world”. There are the Big Belts, Little Belts, Swan, Scape Goats, Elk Horn, and Garnet Range among many others. They command attention as you drive by and though them, but you haven’t lived until you hit the Going-To-The-Sun road through Glacier National Park. Wow! Breathtaking is the best single word I can come up with. Really, there are no words to fully describe the beauty and grandeur of the Rocky Mountains. It’s one of those places you have to see for yourself and Glacier Park takes you up close and personal to these majestic peaks.
I have to say, the highlight of the trip so far was visiting the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. This is the main setting of the book I’m working on, so it was at the top of my list. I had some doubts about how I would be received, but they were dashed in a heartbeat when we visited the eye clinic in the hospital. The optician there, a young Blackfoot woman, invited me in to see the clinic and seemed excited I’m writing a book about an optometry student from California who serves as an intern on the rez. She even agreed to read the manuscript before it’s published. The icing on the cake was when I was introduced to two
Blackfoot women who are in the ministry. One is also an optician in the eye clinic and both women worked with TJ and my “new friend” Sandy (she traveled with us for two days) when they were part of AGLOW. I was warmly accepted by them, which was a great honor for me.
Yesterday, we saw a part of Blackfeet history: the First Peoples Buffalo Jump located near Great Falls. When we think of a buffalo hunt, most of us envision Indians on horseback speeding over the grasslands, bows drawn and arrows aimed at the massive buffalo.
First Peoples Buffalo Jump
Sure, this happened after the plains Indians were introduced to horses, but before that they employed the ingenious and efficient method of herding the great beasts over cliffs to meet their death. Waiting below is the tribe ready to harvest the meat, bones, hide, and other parts to use for food, tools, blankets, shelter, and even toys. What an interesting part of our American history.

Lake McDonald
All the hours spent reading books and blogs, pouring over internet sites, or talking with people who have been there gives you just a glimpse of what a place is like. You have to go and see for yourself to truly appreciate the land and the people who live on it. I’m so glad I did.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Montana on My Mind

Glacier National Park, Montana

In 2007, not long after I published my debut novel, I started a story about an optometry intern who found herself—in more ways than one—serving the people of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana. I’ve been asked, “Why Montana, and why the Blackfoot?” Sometimes stories come to me in the strangest ways. But before I get to the root of why I choose this particular setting, I must disclose the dream that prompted me to write this story in the first place. 

Don’t laugh, but remember that Expedia commercial a few years back showing the couple planning a trip to Hawaii? The husband searched the Internet and came across surfing lessons. His excitement about learning the sport dwindled as soon as he imagined a rather handsome Hawaiian coaching his wife in the fine art of balancing belly down on a surf board. The husband didn’t like the insinuation his mind presented, so he suggested an alternate trip: horseback riding. Here’s the link to jog your memory:  

For some reason, I dreamt about that surfing instructor, only in my dream he was laying shirtless in a hospital bed. When I awoke, the first thing to enter my mind was, “that was weird”, but that weirdness was enough for me to create a hero based on that one scene. I laugh about it now because my hero doesn’t teach surfing lessons and doesn’t really look like that instructor. He was, however, recovering from surgery when the main character—the optometry intern—first meets him.

The fun thing about writing is you never know where the story will take you. Characters take a life of their own and settings develop before your eyes despite your most detailed plotting. But how does this answer the two questions of why Montana and why the Blackfoot?   All my life, I’ve had a passion for the history and culture of the American Indian. It’s never been just a passing fancy, but a deep interest and desire to know more. God put this yearning in my heart and has used my penning fiction to bring it to life. When the idea of this story first hit me, I knew it had to involve people indigenous to this country. After some thought and prayer, God led me to write about the Blackfoot people. Naturally, the setting would be Montana, the location of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

Yes, you never know where your writing will take you and it’s never been more apparent than now when God has given me the opportunity to visit the very place and people I’ve been excited to write about. Thanks to my brother-in-law who offered to pay the airfare, I’m heading to Big Sky Country in three weeks. To make this trip even sweeter, I finally get to meet my “sister” who has mentored and guided me through this journey of writing about and learning what it means to serve and walk beside the Native People. 
Through the coming weeks, I plan to share this journey with you.

Where has God taken you in your writing journey?