Shutting It Down

“Once upon a time…” in the Land of Nascarville lived a persistent writer who was living happily ever after with her Prince Charming. She cranked out inspirational romances by day and dreamed of one day seeing her name on the cover of one of the many novels she blazed through in the evenings, sometimes two, three books a week with nary a blink.

Then, one day her dream came true. Oh, glorious day, that morning when she woke to find the email in her inbox. “We want your book!”

Suddenly, her workdays lingered into evenings. So immersed in learning the publishing lingo, diving into the world of social media, creating memes (what in heaven’s name is a meme?), and writing blog posts, the books stacked up on her kindle with not so much as a sync to load.

She crawled through books at a snail’s pace, dwindling to less than two books a month. Not so the list of books she wanted to read. Oh no, that list grew and grew, until it rivaled Jack’s beanstalk. Many evenings the laptop replaced the kindle that used to perch on her thighs.

“HAPPY NEW YEAR to me!” she screamed, upon learning that four, potentially five books would release in 2015. But, oh, what to do, what to do? Items from her to-do list ricocheted in her head, refusing to shut down. Edits. Galleys. Memes. Social Media. Marketing. Publicity. Finding a home for her latest series. Ideas for the next series, the characters crying out to come to life.

When she finally sank into her recliner most nights, she dusted off her kindle and caressed the cover, longing to fire it up, but a dozen items on that list jockeyed for position. Book? Blog post? Design a meme? Catch up on social media? So much to do, so much to do, but what to do first, and when?

She stole a glance at her prince, hoping for advice, but his head was bent over a laptop, too. 🙂

Does this hit home for you? In this age of constant connectivity with tablets and smartphones where immediate responses are expected, do you find it challenging to “shut it down?” For those of you who work from home, how do you shut it down? Do you turn off the light in your office and lock the door or shut down the laptop and refuse to fire it back up until morning? And writers, we thrive on ideas. How do you turn off the “idea light bulb” for a time? Do you use a particular toggle to switch from “live streaming” to “on demand?” Leave a comment. I’d love to know!

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; 
establish the work of our hands, yes, establish the work of our hands. ~Ps 90:17

Pinterest…Love it or leave it? By Dora Hiers

I’m about to let you in on a little secret. 

I’m addicted to Pinterest. Shhh! Don’t tell anybody!

But how’s a person supposed to resist those delectable cookies and savory soups filling the screen? Or how about those comfy looking spaces that just cry out to a reader to curl up with a great book? And, oh, those delightful rustic cabins with the rocking chairs on the back decks overlooking mountains and sunsets and towering trees …imagine the inspiration for a writer! What’s a person to do?

Have you investigated Pinterest? What do you think? Do you agree with me?

If you have never visited Pinterest (really? How is that possible?), essentially Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board or scrapbook… a place to collect ideas. Maybe you enjoy collecting creative recipes for your culinary pleasure, scoping out the perfect vacation destination, or hunting down DIY instructions. Whatever your interests, you’ll find inspiration along with plenty of pictures there.

Just to give you a basic rundown, a “pin” is essentially a picture that bookmarks and references the original source. You can upload your own pictures, pin from websites or blogs, or “repin” other pins. A “board” is where you organize your pins.

Take a moment and pop over to my “bulletin board” and see what the rave is all about. While you’re there, you might want to click the red “follow board” on some of the boards that excite you, but make sure you come back and let me know what you think, OK? 🙂

With the holidays looming closer, I bet you can see how Pinterest might be a gold mine for ideas. Decorating, gifts, recipes…sheesh, I never buy cookbooks anymore. For the most part, I pin and print all my recipes, and then organize them in a binder. Did you see any recipes you couldn’t wait to try? Salivate over any desserts?

Some people unwind by watching TV. Others by scrolling Instagram pictures or Facebook statuses. Next to reading, browsing Pinterest is my favorite hobby.

What about you? Love it or leave it? 
What’s your favorite hobby and why?

You Want Me To Do What? by Dora Hiers

We’re outta here! With their bags packed and camels loaded, the Jewish remnant of Judah planned to flee to Egypt. They’d had enough.

Ishmael had just slaughtered Gedaliah, the king’s appointed governor, and filled an entire cistern with dead bodies. Not only did the remnant fear Ishmael’s return, but they also worried about the king’s reaction to Gedaliah’s murder. Not that they had killed him, but back then they didn’t have Twitter or Facebook to spread the word.

The survivors begged Jeremiah for a word from the Lord. What should they do? Where should they go?    “Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the Lord our God…” ~Jeremiah 42:6 NIV

Jeremiah relayed the Lord’s instructions:   “Stay here in this land. If you do, I will bless you, and no one will harm you.” ~Jeremiah 42:10 TLB

Say what? You want us to stay? They’d just witnessed horrific killings, and the Lord was telling them to stay, that no one would harm them? Outraged, they accused Jeremiah of siding with the Babylonians and departed for Egypt ~ against the Lord’s wishes.

Ouch. Hadn’t they just said they’d obey whether the news was favorable or unfavorable? At first, their flagrant disobedience blew my mind, but the longer I dwelled on it, I realized that whether it’s disobedience or ungratefulness, He views all sin the same. When God reveals His path and it doesn’t line up with my plans, isn’t my reaction usually disbelief or displeasure rather than gratitude?

Case in point: my quest for an agent. My publisher doesn’t require an agent to submit, and since their contracts are fairly straightforward, I didn’t feel the need for one early on. Eleven books and four years later, I would welcome career guidance and appreciate help navigating the ever-evolving publishing industry. So after prayer and research, last year I submitted my Harmon Heritage series to two well-known CBA agents, and both declined representation. OK. So God obviously didn’t want me partnering with them, but I didn’t perceive their rejections as a STOP sign, rather as a YIELD. I kept praying about my writing journey. Feeling a definite nudge to venture into unknown territory, I wrote Roping the Cowboy, my first book targeted for the mainstream market, and queried two more agents who represent both markets. Again, two more rejections. This time, I pouted. Yes, I admit. I pouted, and it wasn’t a pretty sight.

“Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the Lord our God…” and “Stay here in this land. If you do, I will bless you, and no one will harm you.” The first convicts me; the second confuses. If I’m praying for God to direct my path, shouldn’t I be happy when He responds with either a RED or GREEN light? Sometimes I wonder if the nudge to write stories lacking a distinct faith element, but still sprinkled with grace and hope, was truly from Him. Or had I mistaken His voice for my own?

I’m being completely transparent for a couple reasons. Let me just put it out there. First, I confess that I still struggle with discerning God’s will for my life and my writing. I can’t be the only one, right?

Secondly, if you’re another writer, to encourage you that even published authors still receive rejections both from agents and publishers, and they still sting like a slap in the face. Not only that, but things start to wear a writer down. Lukewarm or negative reviews, no real down time because you’re responding to emails and facebook posts or working on a galley when you’re supposed to be on vacation, and the royalty statements that don’t quite match the effort and time you’ve invested. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it, if I shouldn’t just let it all go…

But it doesn’t let go of me. Because when I hit that pothole of discouragement, God rains down blessings. It may be a sweet friend who listens to me rant over coffee, a glowing review, an invitation to present a workshop because of a referral, or just hearing about someone else’s problems and realizing mine pale in comparison. Sometimes, He plants another idea in my head and characters who yearn for their story to be heard, their hurts to heal, who crave forgiveness or who long for a second chance at love. Other times, He grants me a stellar word count day with peace that overflows from my heart and spills onto the page.

So, I’m still tooling down the road until God plants a ROAD BLOCK in front of me. 

What about you? Has the Lord revealed a different path recently than the one you expected to take? How did you respond?

The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty. ~Prov 22:3 NIV

You reign, Lord, in every aspect of my life. Take my hand and lead me where You’d have me go. Obliterate my fears and doubts. Fill my spirit with peace as only You can do. Amen.