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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Finding Balance

My office abounds with motivational sayings. Some are phrases: Believe in all you do. A place for everything and everything in its place. Relax, God is in control. Others are single words: inspire, create, simplify. Over my computer desk are the words: dream, wish and hope beneath the phrase, Once upon a time . . ..

I chose one word as my focus for 2008: balance. While shopping one day, I found magnets with the word emblazoned on their shiny silver fronts and bought several, which I sprinkled liberally throughout the house to serve as constant reminders.

Balance doesn't come easily to me. When I sit down to write, the rest of the world has been known to fade from view as the creative flow gushes forth. How can dishes and laundry compete with the thrill of capturing my characters' stories? They can't. All too often overflowing sinks and hampers are clear evidence of my struggle.

But struggle I do. As much as I delight in writing, I have a real life with real people in the here and now. I fight the sometimes overwhelming urge to neglect all else in favor of getting one more scene, one more chapter or one more book finished. It isn't easy, but I do my best.

When I succeed in prying my fingers from the keyboard, I am often blessed. I'll enjoy an enlightening conversation with my husband or daughter, a delightful lunch with a friend, or a lively Toastmasters meeting, after which I return to my writing refreshed and recharged. I'm the first to admit that I have not achieved my goal of being balanced, but I continue to get closer. I will persist.

If you struggle with balance and have learned lessons along the way that have proven helpful, I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Filled with Gratitude

A writer works a great deal of time in solitude, but we are not alone. There are amazing people who support and encourage us as we traverse the hills and valleys. I have a number of people who are standing by me as I travel the path to publication, and I'd like to thank them.

First are my husband Carl and my daughter Adriana, the staunch members of my fan club who celebrate with me when I get good news and console me when I receive rejections. When my characters take over my head as a novel pours forth, Carl and Adri allow them to become part of our family. They listen as I brainstorm scenes, read passages aloud and bemoan the troubles I throw into my heroes' and heroines' paths. I couldn't ask for more enthusiastic cheerleaders. I love them deeply.

Next come those dear ones, my friends who are so patient as I share news of my writing journey. Kathryn Strand has been with me from the beginning. She was brave enough to read the first chapter of my first manuscript--and it was horrible. More than any other person, she keeps my eyes on the Lord, my partner in this endeavor. She's willing to give honest feedback and challenge me to take my writing to ever higher levels. I appreciate her insights immensely.

Many others are sharing this process with me, delightful people whom I treasure: Pam Alm, Lynn Buescher, Candy Immer, Earl and Dorothea Keener, Pam Kemp, Monica Silver. A number of kind souls have read and commented on my manuscripts, giving me valuable insights: Kathryn, Lynn, Candy, Dorothea, Pam Kemp and Monica, along with Joyce Burrill, Jennifer Crowl, Karin Heyden, Lauren Prichard, Geoff Skjelbred, Dave Soper, Candis Spallina and Mary Staples. Several knowledgeable people have taken time to answer questions as I conduct research on various aspects of my stories: Levi Cambridge, Cathy Clarke-Amos, Sheryl Hiebert, Lauren Prichard, Tim Silver, Dr. Randy Wells.

My parents, both avid readers, are happy for me when I call with good news and buoy me up when I find my spirits flagging. My mom, Patricia Lannon, instilled a love of books in me at an early age. I fondly recall our trips to the library and used bookstore. My dad, Carl Lannon, writes westerns for pleasure and shares my love of the time period in which many of my stories are set. I appreciate their interest in my writing endeavors.

My church family at Discovery Hills is wonderful. A Sunday doesn't go by that someone doesn't ask about my writing, a conference I attended or how I'm faring in contests I've entered. I'm blessed to be part of such a loving, caring body of believers.

I've gained much from the contest judges who have commented on my entries. The workshop leaders at the Redwood Chapel Christian Writers Seminar and the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference have showered me with high caliber instruction, most notably John Olson and Angela Hunt. The talented authors who critiqued my submissions at Mount Hermon, Robin Jones Gunn and Cindy Martinusen-Coloma, were so gracious and took the time to personally meet with me.

Those I've listed are but a few of them many who have given of themselves. I appreciate each and every one who has enriched my life. May God bless you for all you've done for me.