Thursday, April 30, 2009

The End

Those are some of my favorite words. They mean - done, complete, finished. They mean a goal met, a contract fulfilled, a success rather then a failure. They mean I have followed through, persevered and kept going. They mean that when times were tough, when kids were cranky, when I was cranky, I gritted my teeth, bore it and just kept right on going.

They mean that I am not just a dreamer, I am an author.

They mean that hour after hour of typing letters, words and sentences have not been in vain.

They mean the vision in my head is now something I can hold in my hands.

And they mean a new beginning, a fresh start, another chance to make it just right.

Which is what I have today!

The manuscript is complete. The author is happy. And maybe that pile of laundry will finally get clean!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Worst Fears Confirmed (double posted from my adoption blog)

Or so it seems.

My gut instinct on the swine flu thing was right on. According to the Rumor Queen, some agencies are reporting that no referrals are being issued this month and that CCAA (china center of adoption affairs)will be shut down for 20 - 30 days. I'm not buying the shut down, and I really don't think referrals will be held up. I don't think this will effect LOA by more than a day or two. What I do believe is that no travel approvals will be issued until after the swine flu outbreak has weakened its hold.

Of course, this happened just days after I cancelled a book signing at the biggest book expo in north America. Not only do I not get to see my daughter in May, I've had to disappoint my publishing house for nothing.

Please excuse me while I go drown my sorrows in chocolate.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Profound Writer Thoughts


Yesterday was take your kids to work day at my husband's job. I would have had several hours to write in complete SILENCE, but my eldest son had piano guild and I had to drive him there, wait for him to complete 45 minutes of evaluation and then drive him back to my husband's workplace. Although I was supposed to pick the kids up sometime after lunch, I figured I'd rush home and write for an hour and a half while the house was empty (and what a blessed thing that is!).

So, off I went. Back to the house and the computer.

That's where things got dicey.

My intentions were good, but I started having an internal dialogue that went something like this -

"Shirlee, you need to sit down at the computer and write."

"I would, but I'm hungry. I need to eat."

"You need to write."

"But I can't write when I'm hungry. I might actually lose weight and what a catastrophe that would be." Cue violin music here.


"Okay, I need to write. But do I want to write? I mean really want to?"

"Yes. You want to write because you need to write, because you get paid to write, because you actually enjoy writing. So WRITE."

At which point I sat myself down in front of the computer, pulled up my manuscript and would like to say I began writing.

But that would be a lie and lies are not allowed in Love Inspired (not to mention the fact that God strictly prohibits them).

So, I decided I needed to check on a few blogs I follow, but the entire time I perused the blogs, that annoying voice in my head was chanting, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE, WRITE.

And the other voice (because, of course, there are two) was whining, I JUST WANT TO RELAX FOR A FEW MINUTES.

And finally the chanting, annoying voice won out. I started writing. The words started flowing. I forgot I was hungry and that I'd rather read a few blogs and relax. I forgot writing was work that I wasn't sure I felt like doing. The ideas burst onto the page in words and phrases for ten whole minutes.

And then the phone rang. It was my husband, telling me it was time to pick the kids up. I saved my manuscript, walked out my front door, and a little voice whispered in head, "see, I TOLD you you should have started writing as soon as you got home!"

So, in case you're ever wondering what goes through my head before I begin writing...refer to this post. It explains everything! And in case you ever start having a similar internal dialogue with yourself...go with the voice that's screaming WRITE. It'll save you time, because for authors, that voice always wins in the end.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Thank Goodness For My Husband

The adoption is really wreaking havoc on my brain. For well over two weeks, I've been saving my continuity book on a USB device (I'm sure it is called something else, but I'm not computer savvy enough to know the name). At least that is what I thought I was doing. Until my wonderful laptop CRASHED. As in...completely stopped working. As way to access my file. So, feeling rather smug that I'd done exactly what my-husband-the-computer-guy is always telling me to do and saved my document on a backup disk, I pulled out the USB device, plugged it into my desktop and realized that I HAD NOT BEEN SAVING the document to the device. Suddenly, I was three and a half weeks from deadline and missing the last ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY PAGES of my document.

I did not cry. Although, there were some tears in my eyes. Instead, I swallowed down panic and began rewriting those 120 pages while my husband (the most wonderful real-life hero in the world) went to work on my dead laptop and confirmed that it was, indeed, dead.

I rewrote thirty pages of document that night, the sick feeling in my stomach never quite leaving. I write fast, but not so fast that I could finish in time to meet my deadline. I'm a stickler for getting my stuff in on time, so this was a very big deal. I knew I'd have to call my editor and tell her that I might need an extra couple of weeks. Meanwhile, my husband wrestled the hard drive from my laptop, brought it to work and was able to extract all but ten pages of my work!

Yay, hubby! Yay, me! Yay, Emily who will now not get a panicked, tearful call from a panicked and tearful author who stupidly was not saving to the right file on her computer.

Crisis averted. Lesson learned. Now every time I save, I save to both my USB and my hard drive.

In honor of his hero status, I am posting a photo of my hero hubby signing the adoption papers for Q. And, of course, I couldn't resist also posting pictures of my cheeky (thanks for the word, Brenda) new daughter.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Introducing Q!!!

Today, we received the surprise of our lives. Approval from China to adopt our fifth child. Q was born March 31, 2002. She is seven years old and waiting in Chongqing. I do not believe in labeling my kids or in limiting them, so I've kept from mentioning Q's special need (which, I think, is obvious). However, I am happy to answers any questions about it.

We are beside ourselves with joy. As always, God's timing proves beyond what any of us anticipated. We were expecting to wait at least another 1.5 month for China to say 'yes' to our request to adopt Q. Instead of the average of fifty-odd days, it took only 32 for our approval.

Please pray for us as we begin making travel plans. Pray for Q. She is old enough to understand what is about to happen, and I can't help wondering if she's scared. Imagine being told that strangers were coming from a strange place to take you from everything you have ever known. Imagine that those strangers spoke a language you didn't understand. That is what is happening to Q.

Every time I think about it, I want to cry.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Where Art Thou, Spring?

With your green shoots and vivid colors?
Your chirping birds and azure sky?
Where art thou, spring?
Did the thrill of winter offend?
The joy of icy storms and snow covered cow patties drive you away?
Where art thou, spring?
Not here in Washington.
That is for sure.


That is maniacal laughter. I've been driven to it by this:

"SPOKANE, Wash.- With at least another inch of new snow in Spokane County the record snowfall record for a season has officially been shattered. Spokane County broke the record on Sunday by about a tenth of an inch. The old record was set in 1949-1950 at 93.5 inches. On Sunday, Spokane County hit 93.6 inches.

So far there haven't been any snowfall totals for Thursday morning. The National Weather Service is reporting at least an inch of fresh snow on the ground and calling for another 3 to 5 inches by day's end." KHQ-TV

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Writing Advice

Lately, I've been receiving a lot of email asking for advice on becoming a writer. This has made me think a lot about the tools needed to actually sit down and write a book and, beyond writing the book, what it takes to make the story engaging to a reader.

Last night, I read an email from a thirteen-year-old who asked for tips on how to become an author. I was able to pull from several weeks of thoughts on the subject and pinpoint three key characteristics of a good writer. Those three are listed below along with the advice I provided for the thirteen-year-old. No rocket science here, just commonsense. Sometimes, though, we're so busy looking for the 'secret' to success we forget that there's no secret to it at all.

A writer must be a voracious reader.
One of the most important things you can do to prepare to be a writer is to read a lot. Fiction. Non-fiction. Whatever you can get your hands on! Learn how to write interesting sentences and how to create a compelling scene by studying the work of authors that you like. Then practice using words to paint vivid pictures for your readers. An author who can do this will always have a readership.

An author is a a student of humanity.
Aside from reading and practicing the art of writing, you should also spend time studying people. In order to be a good writer, you must understand how people think and act. You must know what they are doing but also why they are doing it. Studying people will help you create compelling characters that will grab a reader's attention.

An author has an indomitable spirit.
Being a writer means never giving up. Sometimes writers are rejected many times before they are published. Teach yourself to persists even in the face of what seems like failure. After all, God often teaches us the most important lessons when we are at the point where we are ready to give up. Remember that success will happen in God's time, but that His timing does not preclude our hard work. In other words, you must work hard to learn the craft of writing so that you will be ready for whatever writing opportunity God sends your way.