Friday, November 30, 2012

My Life in Stitches: One Project or Two? Maybe Four?

The knitting part of my blog has been a little slow, but I can't say the same for my knitting life. I have four, count them, four, WIPs going right now. I have only four because I just finished a pair of fingerless gloves from my daughter's birthday. Marinating on my needles right now are a baby blanket, a sweater, a caplet and my Color Affection/Affliction. For those of you who follow this blog know that I am so anti-multiple projects. I may have two, normally a more challenging one for home and one easy social/Bible study project, but four is a bit excessive for me. And the why I feel right now has convinced me that I never need to work on four projects at a time again.

So here are my top four reasons (one for each WIP) why I shouldn't work on more than one project at a time:

  1. I feel like I have knitting ADHD. I have enough decisions to make in life than to be worried about which project I'm going to work on at what time. Too much to think about.
  2. Akin to #1, I don't need five patterns in my head. Yes, I have them on my computer, but sometimes I'm not near my computer (not often, but sometimes). I feel like I have bits and pieces of each pattern floating around in my head.
  3. I don't know where the ham I am on any of these projects. I need a scorecard to keep track of what row or repeat I'm on. I waste precious knitting time trying to figure out where I left off or trying to end at a memorable point. 
  4. All of these are taking the slow boat to China route of completion. Because my knitting time is divided over five projects, I can only make a little process at a time. For a person who likes to have FO (finished objects) and not WIPs, that's frustrating.
Those are my reasons and I'm sticking to them. My only hope now is that the caplet should be done soon. Like within 24 hours. Of course, I have another sweater I've be dying to cast on waiting in the wings. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Great Dates: Honesty and Balanced Intimacy

In my novel, Love Simplified, my main character, Tempest, runs a matchmaking service. Through this service, she believes that she eliminates one of the challenges of online dating: not seeing the real person you just agreed to date. I was inspired to include this in the novel by listening to horror stories about the deception in online dating. I'm not saying all online dating is deceptive. Besides, there is potential to be deceptive in all kinds of dating.

It's easy to miss the deception. Everyone who goes on a date wants to put his or her best face forward, but there is a thin line between putting on a "best" face and a "too good to be true" face. When you date, you have to resist the urge to put on a face that's not yours. It's best to let the real you show.

There is, however, a temptation not to show the real you. What if your date doesn't like what he or she see? Or what if you show too much? I think these are the two main reasons people pretend to be someone they're not while dating. It's important to find a balanced level of intimacy. Meaning, don't give your date ALL of you on the first date. Make sure they earn the privilege to know more about you. Once they've proven that they can be trusted with a little more of you, then share more. Show them the real you in small increments. 

The best thing about being honest and having a balanced approach to intimacy is that you can continue to use them through out your life and in all your relationships.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Free Thanksgiving Fiction and a Cyber Monday Sale

Thanksgiving is this week (I know, I can't believe it either). As a thanks to all of you, I'm offering a free Thanksgiving e-book, By Any Means. It's available on Smashwords and Goodreads, and Lord willing, it will be on Amazon before Thanksgiving (but I doubt it.) Enjoy!

Here is a great Cyber Monday deal. I am putting Love Simplified on sale. Get $1 off both the e-book and the paperback on Cyber Monday. It only lasts one day (or until Amazon updates their website). Books always make great gifts. Get one for the reader on your Christmas list...and get one for yourself, too.

Friday, November 16, 2012

My Life in Stitches: Another Life in Stitches

Recently, I was browsing Amazon for knitting pattern books when I came across a book that totally captured my attention. It’s called A Life in Stitches by Rachael Herron. I actually gasped when I saw it and said, “Hey, that’s the name of my knitting series on my blog.” I promptly set out to get the book and within a few days I had it.

The book is well written and enjoyable. As a matter of fact, it’s so enjoyable that my eleven year old started reading it (I had to stop him because there is a little language and a few topics I didn’t think he’s mature enough to handle. Not too bad, but not appropriate for an eleven year old).

I think the most impressive thing about this book is that it sounded like something I would write. It sounded like that Herron and I were living the same life despite the fact that the demographics are very different. It was like the thing we did have in common, knitting, canceled out all our other differences and brought us to a common ground.

The author and I do have other things in common. She talks about losing her mom and knitting a sweater for her. I lost my mom and I crocheted an afghan for my mother before she died. Herron also wrote about writing fiction. I write fiction...not as much as I should (the last chapter talks about Second Book Syndrome and I've got it bad right now. Urg!) And the knitting...oh the knitting. 

One truth that Herron presents in the book is that knitters, for the most part, are kind. That we love to give. She also talked about the sense of community that knitters have. As I read this section, I thought about the knitting groups I'm in and I totally agree. I have made some great friends over tea and stitches.

Despite that, the stories in the story show how knitting impacts life. I found it interesting how Herron’s knitting impacted her life much the way knitting impacts mine. I found myself connecting with her stories and recognizing my own story in hers.

A good read. But get it on your e-reader so you can knit while you read it.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Great Dates: Companionship

Last post I discussed dating with marriage in mind and I made a statement that I think is worth expanding. This [when you date with marriage in mind] means dating solely for companionship shouldn’t be your main motivation for dating.

Here a thought-provoking question: How many people did you date because you were lonely? How did those relationships work out?

I admit that when I was single, I dated for solely for companionship. For most of those relationships, I knew they weren’t going anywhere from the beginning. Those relationships were just something to occupy my time but turned out to be the most emotionally damaging. I think that was because I was looking for companionship in the wrong places.

Companionship is something humans need. God created us to be relational. Consider His words concerning Adam, “It is not good for man to be alone.” God made this statement after Adam named the animals but didn’t find an animal “like” him.

Although this passage proceeds Eve’s creation, I think there is an important underlying principal and it is companionship. Companionship at its most basic form is having someone present to walk and experience life with. Someone to grow with. I believe one of the greatest gifts we can give to others is to witness and validate their lives. When we agree to be someone’s companion, we are saying,  “Your life is important to me and has value in my eyes.”

But the truth is we can have companionship outside of dating and even beyond marriage. Every healthy relationship in our lives provides companionship, which is one of the reasons this series will cover more than just singles dating. Your family provides companionship. Your girlfriends (or guyfriends) provide companionship. Your sisters-in-Christ provide companionships and so do your coworkers.

All these people witness your life and validate its value. When you find companionship in all your relationships, you avoid trying to find one relationship (which most of the time is a dating relationship) to completely fulfill your companionship needs.

So before you, single Christian, start dating another person, ask yourself, “Am I relying on this dating relationship to fulfill my companionship needs?” Ask if there aren’t some other relationships, permanent relationships, that you have neglected but might be just the companionship you need. Married Christians, as yourself if you are relying too much on your spouse to meet all your companionship needs and explore building healthy relationships with other trustworthy Christians.

We need companionship, yes, but make sure you’re receiving and giving companionship in all your relationships. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Pep Talk

Earlier this year, I had an opportunity to lead worship at a Women’s conference, the first time in several years since I had. Being seven or so years rusty wrecked my nerves. I did all I could to prepare. I practiced. I drank tons of water. I practiced some more and gave myself a couple of days of vocal rest.

Being prepared, however, didn’t ease my nerves as much as I liked. Once I’d done all the prep I could, my mind came up with other, and I must admit, outrageously ridiculous things to worry about. Most of them were out of my control. I worried that the trac would skip or that I would be struck with a surprise case of laryngitis. I was worried that I would sound like a dying seal when I sang.

Interestingly enough, I wasn’t too nervous on the day of before I had to sing. However, once I checked into my hotel room and had a chance to settle down, the nervousness returned. I could almost hear the sounds of mortally wounded orca coming from my mouth.

But, in a flash of genius, I did something that turned the tide. I stood in the full-length mirror in my hotel room and gave myself a pep talk. I don’t remember exactly what I said but it was something to the effect that I was going to go to the conference, sing to the glory of God and stop worrying. I was quite stern with myself.  My roommate, who had to perform a dance number that night, was so inspired that she gave herself a pep talk, too, just as stern as mine (well exactly like mine because she started with her own first line and then said, “What Terri said.”)

Recently, I had to lead worship again and I got in the mirror and gave myself another pep talk. This one wasn’t as stern as the first because I guess my reflection knew that I wasn’t playing. I suppose it is the principal of voicing my ridiculous fears out loud that brings perspective. I didn’t, however, realize that I would need that pep talk again, but in another area of my life.

I had been feeling some kind of way (as a friend of mine and I some times say) about my writing. Some kind of way because I know God has gifted me to write but at the same time I feel like I’m failing. I’m sure many people who step out on a limb of faith feel this way, too.

As I sat questioning if I lost my sanity to be self-publishing and writing solely for that, the image of my refection during that pep talk flashed in my mind. I had on my momma scowl. You know that look. The one your mother gave you that let you know she wasn’t playing with you. The one you probably give your children now. I remember seeing my own finger pointed at myself with intensity. The person in the reflection, me, wasn’t playing around.

I guess I need to keep that image in my mind. I need to look myself in the eye and say, “Stop worrying!” I guess I need another pep talk.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Great Dates: Dating Fall

What is more romantic than a fall day? I can't help imagining myself walking among the leaves with my honey, or my children for that matter, and enjoying the colors of fall.

Fall offers so many opportunities for great dates. Here are some suggestions:

  • Fall Festivals. A great date for singles, married, families and girlfriends. Even if you live in an urban area like I do (DC Metro), you can still find a decent fall festival nearby. Most churches and schools host fall festivals every year. It's all a matter of how elaborate you want the date to be. If you want to add a sense of getaway to the date, Google for fall festivals within an hour driving distance. This would be a great road trip for you and the girls. 
  • Farms, Apple Picking, Hayrides and Corn Mazes. Another great way to get a date in and enjoy the beauty of fall. Find your nearest local farm and have some fun. This is another opportunity for a road trip. Best of all, you can score some great fall produce. 
  • Hiking, Biking and Strolling. Here a great idea for a more athletic date. Pack a backpack with some light snacks and both you and your date bring along digital cameras. Find your nearest, prettiest walking trail and spend the afternoon together. I suggest afternoon since most good walking trails are frequented by the workout crowd earlier. Not only will you get some great fall shots, you have a built in momentum of the day. 
What's your best idea for incorporating fall into your dates?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Writing for Water and Doing What I Can

Books change lives.

My opinion isn’t solely based on the fact that I’m a writer. I am a reader as well. Books have changed my life. I would have to blog for a million years to name all the books that have impacted me, but one in particular deserves mentioning because it continues to motivate me.

In 2009, I read A Hole in the Gospel by Richard Sterns, the President of World Vision. That book turned my life upside down (here is my review of the book). After reading that book, I vowed that I would use the proceeds of any publishing contracts I got to provide clean water, namely a well, to some area in need. I was writing for water.

Well, the contracts didn’t come and things weren’t looking promising, so I self-published my first novel. Sadly, I haven’t sold enough copies of my book to provide a well. I must say that was a little depressing. I want to help but my book sales aren’t cooperating. My sales aren’t horrible. I’m right on track with the general estimate of 100-200 books max for self-published books and may make that goal by the end of the year.

Still, it’s not enough to sponsor a well. As with many things in my life, I took it to prayer. I told the Lord all about how my sales weren’t enough to do this great noble thing I wanted to do. And as always, the Lord responded. He said, “Do what you can.”

Hmmm. Didn’t think of that. Of course, I had to figure out what I could do and interestingly enough, that figuring took me right back to Richard Sterns and World Vision.

World Vision allows donors to give specifically to different needs. One of them is clean water. I found I could give a small portion of my book profits to providing clean water and so fulfill my vow. It’s not a well, but it’s something. I gave my small donation this week with a huge measure of gratitude. God used me to do something to bless someone else despite only having a widow’s mite to give.

I will continue to write for water. I will also continue to do what I can.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

Doing Something New

I love my pastor. I love him because he's caring, dedicated and passionate about building God's kingdom.  He is also a Holy Spirit inspired preacher...but he has this little habit of preaching and teaching very challenging sermons and Bible studies. Challenging in that they bring conviction and motivation to do better. I can't number the sermons and Bible studies he's preached that has sent me to prayer and repentance. That's a great thing because it causes me to mature. His teachings, however, has me squirming in my seat because God often speaks through them to issues that I have, shall I say, slow to acknowledge. And when I do acknowledge them, they often push me to an uncomfortable place of faith.

Perfect example: My pastor has been teaching a Bible study series on the Holy Spirit. Last Wednesday, the night before NaNoWriMo began, my pastor stated that if we have not done anything new, we are probably not letting the Holy Spirit work through us. He said that the Holy Spirit gives us power to go beyond our abilities. He also said if we are still relying on our own abilities, we are not relying on the Holy Spirit.


Right then and there I prayed and asked God if I had been relying on my own abilities and not the Holy Spirit and my writing popped into my mind. The writing that I hadn't been doing. The writing that I had been telling God I couldn't do. The writing that I wasn't relying on the help of the Holy Spirit to accomplish.

Double ouch.

So I asked the Holy Spirit to help me go beyond my abilities. His response? Write three books at one time. Talk about squirming. My first thought was, "I can't do that." And He replied, "No, you can't own your own." Now I was really in a tight spot. Was I going to write three books in one month with the help of the Holy Spirit, or keep relying on my own abilities.

So I would like to direct your attention to the word counters in the sidebar of this blog. They are for the THREE novels that I'm writing this month. My main focus is my NaNoWriMo manuscript, but I'm also actively writing the other two.

And guess what? The Holy Spirit is helping me. It's like a cash of words and plot lines got released from heaven into my brain and I'm loving it. It is uncomfortable, yes, but it's definitely something new.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012, I'm in!

Another November, another 50,000 words.

Okay, it's not as mundane as I make it sound. It's actually a big deal for me. I have done several NaNoWriMo's (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011) and I finished all but 2009 (not sure what happened there). I have had so much fun praticipating. It's definitely a great challenge for writers. And of course, I'm not ready.

You would think that this event took me by surprise by how unprepared I am. The one of rules of NaNoWriMo is that I can't have any previous words written in the novel. That means none of my WIPs, and I have many, qualify. Which means I have to come up with a whole new idea to write.

I originally told my husband that I was going to write a dragon story that I've had floating in my head for a month, but realized the time might be better used writing another installation in my reality TV series. Brilliant, right? Unfortunately, I will be starting tomorrow with nothing more than two incomplete character sketches and a very thin idea of the main plot line. Not enough for my comfort.

But I realized something. NaNoWriMo is all about the fun. It's all about ditching the inner editor who loves to have character sketches, outlines and plot all laid out. It's about writing with abandon and discovering the story as you go. That's what I've done in past years and that's what I plan to do this year.

So root me on, friends. Check the counter to the right to see how I'm doing. To those who see me every week: if you see me walking around muttering to myself, I'm probably working out my story in my head.

Let the adventure begin!