Tag Archives: writing journey

Our dear Donita K. Paul

51OhyGLrtxLTalk about fun! It’s a delight to be included in the collection A Bouquet of Brides with author Donita K Paul. I have some friends who get a little star-struck when they learn Donita is part of my friendship circle. If you know Donita, you know she is a down-to-earth, albeit talented, grandma who loves laugh, has a sparkling twinkle in her eyes, and delights in helping children succeed.

512sw4ZtcKLI don’t know if she gets tired of hearing it or not, but I can’t introduce Donita without saying that she wrote one of my favorite books ever, DragonSpell. I read this 2005 Christy award-winning tale to my children when they were small, and the time we spent sharing this story together is forever etched in my mind. Of course she has a ton of other wonderful, well-written books, both fantasy and inspirational romance, but I can’t help but talk about my favorite. It was such delight to see it listed at the library as one of the top picks for a summer read back when my children and I frequented summer library programs.

483523_4837587698156_310653620_nBut Donita’s not only a fantastic writer, she’s a dear friend and mentor to many of us. In fact, I think it is safe to say she’s become a mentor to mentors, because I’ve heard both Mary and Kathy, who I featured earlier this week, call Donita their mentor. And that’s pretty cool since I think Suzanne, who is a debut author in this collection, would call Mary one of her mentors. And I call Kathy my mentor and she calls Mary hers and Mary goes right back to Donita. (Did you follow that?) That’s legacy my friends!

Here’s another fun Donita story. She once told me she wrote her first book, a romance, while her daughter was away at camp one summer. Evidently Evangeline, then a teen, had started reading romance and her momma wanted her to read a story that was wholesome and pointed her to a healthy, God-centered relationship.

This picture was taken  taken at a book signing in December of 2012. Pictured with Kathy, Mary, and myself is Donita’s daughter, Evangeline Denmark, who has now released her first novel! (There’s that legacy thing again.)

I also had the distinct pleasure of attending Donita’s wedding. What a high day that was! I treasure this picture of Kathy, Mary, and I celebrating with Donita on her wedding day in September of 2015. Isn’t she lovely in yellow?

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Until next time when I introduce the author of the next story in A Bouquet of Brides,

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Honey Tears

IMAG0010The tears start early today. Little drops of golden honey that will bring healing to me and to the chosen who read my next book.

At least that’s what He tells me. That my tears will drop and form words, phrases, and paragraphs, coming from the deep places and calling out to the deep places.

Healing.

Not just me. But me too.

The words will be His heart and mine. Together. Right. For many. For me.

But I barely have energy to move today. The tears started long before I reached for the keyboard. I didn’t work yesterday. Tuesday’s writing was done in dropping tears. Taking a break and pacing the living room. Returning. Hands on keyboard. Until I had to stop.

I don’t want to be in a holding pattern of tears. I want to surrender to this latest call, to bravely go where I have not gone before. To get to the other side for whatever glory awaits. Peace. For me. For others.

Telling my story because we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.

Blessing and suffering together. Two cups. He asked me to drink of both. He promised to be in both.

For good. For beauty. For hope.

Not for despair.

But today–and for a stretching of days–I walk through to get to the other side. I choose this journey for love of Him and for love of those He heals.

I choose it in the security of the knowledge that He never does harm. He only does healing.

I brave it because I am loved. Forever. Unconditionally. By Him.

Please pray me through my friends.

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Journeying Back and Forward All at Once

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This old branding was designed many years ago. The words and Scripture were reminders to me of what God wanted me to do with my writing. This is not my present “brand.” But it is still my heart.

It was as if God gave me a little shake, spoke to me, then let me return to my night’s rest.

It happened Saturday night. As you know, I’ve been fighting to rediscover Paula the Writer. Despite the fact I have two published books and over 300 published non-fiction pieces (not to mention blogging), I sort-of lost her.

Determined to return to consistent productivity as a writer, I’ve spent many agonizing hours at the computer in 2015. My friend says I’m like a gymnast who knows how to do flips and all kinds of wonderful things, but is out of practice.

So I sit, stretching my muscles, trying to limber up so I can return to the abilities I once had. I still know how to flip across the mat, but I’m out of shape and stiff.

As I entered 2015 the Lord promised me this would be a year of release. As I journaled and prayed I asked Him to help me find His rhythm as a writer. In response to His prompting I wrote that I was to spend my early writing hours on fiction and then switch gears in the afternoon to spend some time writing non-fiction. (This goes against typical advice of editors, publishers, and agents who tell you to focus on one, build your brand, and get established before thinking about doing the other, but I sensed He wanted me to start writing both–in the same day–something I had not considered.)

But I didn’t do it.

Once I started trying to write, I dug into a novel I’d promised my agent. I felt I wasn’t free to do anything else until I met that commitment. I’ve struggled fiercely with it and spent painful hours staring at the screen. I blew off the whole idea of writing non-fiction for a part of each writing day. I couldn’t even do fiction. Did I really want to add another stress to my over-taxed brain?

But Saturday night I briefly awoke, was told I was supposed to be doing both, and went back to sleep.

So Sunday I tried it. I wrote almost 1400 words on my novel, glanced at the clock, and closed the document. The second half of my allotted writing time would be non-fiction. As I meditated on which project to tackle, I had a sense I was to begin to compile the 205 devotionals I wrote several years ago. The goal is to add a few more and release them as a year-long devotional book.

The journey through what will be the first month of my devotional book has blessed me beyond imagining. As I relieve those hard-earned spiritual discoveries, my heart reaches to God in worship, so grateful for all He’s brought me through, touched even now, by His attention during that time. I’ve chuckled at His humor, teared at precious memories, and quite frankly been blown away by the richness of what I’m reading.

I can’t wait to share my deep spiritual journey of those years with whatever readers come my way. A marketing plan–which includes lots of give-aways and pricing that makes it affordable to many–is playing in my mind. I’m so excited I can hardly wait.

So I’d appreciate your prayers. One of these days–hopefully by late spring–I’ll let you know where you can get the book! My working title is Soul Scents: Longing for the Fragrance of Christ.

I can’t tell you how good it feels to have the excitement building within me. This book will be one of the deepest offerings of my heart.

Until next time,

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PS Facebook messaged a good friend about this before posting the story here. She called with something that encouraged me greatly. She was praying on Sunday morning, asking God to light a fire underneath me to put together this very project! Talk about confirmation of the journey!

Resuscitation

After my last post Tom said, “Write and God will follow your writing.” breath

I read his comments a few times, letting them sink into my hungry, dry soul.

Then it hit me. “God will follow your writing.” Suddenly I grinned, imagining that one of the “followers” of this blog is God Himself.

Then I realized the truth of that imagining.

God does. He follows my blog! He was first and most important follower to grace it with His notice. Anyone else who reads comes after.

I knew this, but I didn’t. I know now. Differently.

And somehow everything I do here seems more important.

Validated.

I once again find my courage.

Because even if I’m afraid to write for you I’m am not afraid to write for Him.

HE sees.

HE cares.

When there is not one single comment or facebook share or new follower, when I fear I’m just rambling about my life and that my words will not resonate with anyone, He still cares.

He is my first reader.

And do you know what? He likes my rambling, my attempts at humor, my efforts to be artistic. He even likes the posts that are not deep or creative or even particularly interesting.

He likes them because I’m His, and Good Daddys care about the stuff their daughters do.

Are interested in what they create.

Want to know what pours from their hearts.

It doesn’t seem so scary now that I remember Who my Primary Audience is. I can quit trying to figure this blog out, stifled because I’m not sure what it’s all about since the focus is no longer primarily weight loss. I can let the scattered thoughts, all pieces of myself, just sprinkle forth, pouring out in whatever form is revealed.

Because HE wants to see my next post.

Pours His water upon me, lets me drink, and watches what spills over onto this screen.

Droplets.

Rivers maybe.

The prayers I requested in my last post? I think they are already pushing back the clouds. I feel the Son peeking in and illuminating the Way.

Please keep breathing on behalf of my writing life, blowing against that fog that’s been trying to hide the way out. The fog that’s swirled and thickened, heavy upon my heart, weighing it down. The fog full of voices that I shouldn’t listen to, voices that try to cloak their origin, try to convince me they are truth instead of folly.

Please keep that God-breath coming my friends.

I am being resuscitated.

Until Next Time,

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Epiphany #4

IMAG2583That whole conflicting with my desires thought from my last post should have prepared me. But it didn’t. I ran off in my merry little sanguine way expecting sunshine and roses. Only what grew along with the roses were tomatoes.

Never saw that one coming.

I started figuring out that things weren’t as easy as I expected when I went to one of my favorite places: A writer’s conference where I was reminded that my new epiphany was really a curve ball.

See, ever since 3rd grade when I wrote a story about a pencil and an eraser, I wanted to be an author. (Oh brother. The tears still spring to my eyes, and honestly I’m tired of crying about this.) Somewhere during high school speech competition I realized I also wanted to be a speaker. For the last 25 years I’ve lived my other childhood dreams–to be a teacher and a mommy, and as the years have ticked away toward cheering on my last high school graduate, I’ve eagerly awaited greater freedom for that dream of becoming an author and a speaker.

Sure, I am those things already. I have two published fiction books, have published over 300 non-fiction pieces, and have spoken for homeschool groups, writer’s groups, and mom’s groups, as well as having taught at writer’s conferences. But that was all in my spare time. Now I was ready to enter full-time into the world of writing and speaking–to take the whole gig to another level. To write the deeper, more complex stories of my heart. To up my speaking opportunities.

I’d waited for so long for this moment.

Then God gives me this curve ball and tells me to learn to be a business woman. I need to mention here that up until this point everything I’ve done in life was connected to a dream. Teacher. Mommy. Writer. Speaker.

Never once did I dream of becoming a business woman.

I spent a lot of the writer’s conference in tears. Not because it wasn’t fun. It was actually amazingly wonderful. Except for the increasing understanding that my next season wasn’t going to be all about my dreams and except for the fact that the keynote speaker said we had to be obedient when God sent us curve balls on our writing journey.

By the time I left I’d convinced myself that God wasn’t going to let me write books for a while. And I was heart-broken.

Thankfully, He then gave me Epiphany #4. I did get to write books. Just not the deeper books of my heart–yet. He wanted me to do what my agent, Rachelle Gardner, had suggested right before that second car accident that left me unable to write books for a year. He wanted me to write genre romance.

The good news is I like romance–both in books and in real life. And evidently I’m pretty good at it because I’ve helped a non-romantic male learn to be at least a little romantic, and my first romance story was a finalist for a prestigious Christian fiction award.

More good news is that genre romance is the kind of thing I can usually write while living with a lot of chaos in my life. It also is light-hearted enough to keep me happy and sane when I write it (unlike women’s fiction, which can bring me into the doldrums as I dig deep).

So it really is the perfect solution to my quandary of how to continue my writing career while learning to be a business woman. And I’m super happy about it except when I’m not. (I’m a girl, ok?)

My agent put me on a deadline to have that next book to her, and I added up word counts. I need to write 1700 words/day, six days a week. The good news is so far I’ve written 5,175 of the 55,000 words I plan to complete by Thanksgiving.

The bad news is I haven’t written any today because I’ve been too busy writing blog posts.

But I will get it done.

And so I’m learning how to swing at this latest curve. Letting go of how I thought this next season would look and embracing a new plan. Most of the time I’m good with it, but then there are those days . . . and I’ll tell you about one of them tomorrow.

Celebrating the Memories II

A high. Honest. Sunday at the ACFW conference was full of blessings. (You can read about the first two days on yesterday’s post.)

It started with a wonderful time at the Books and Such Literary Agency breakfast. I was honored to be seated next to the founder, Janet Kobobel Grant.

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The food was amazing and included this darling spread of add-ins for my oatmeal.

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I also enjoyed posing with fellow authors who married daughters off this year. We had to get a few shots of the mothers of the brides. (By the way, Cathy West has recently released two novels I’m dying to read, and Beth Vogt asked me to read and review her debut novel, Wish You Were Here, which I loved. I also enjoyed her second book and am looking forward to the third in the series.)

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With authors Cathy West (left) and Beth K. Vogt (right.)

Dineen Miller also asked me to review her debut novel, The Soul Saver, which was fabulous. But don’t take my word for it. This book WON the Carol Award for the mystery/suspense/thriller category! So happy for Dineen! 2013 has been quite the year for her–marrying off a daughter and getting a Carol!

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With author Dineen Miller

It was also fun to connect with Colorado author Olivia Newport. I had the honor of reading and reviewing her debut novel, The Pursuit of Lucy Banning. It was a great story! If you enjoy historical fiction, check out Olivia’s novels. Though she’s a fairly new arrival on the Christian Historical Fiction circuit, she has several books out.

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robin-jones-gunn-300Saturday’s lunch included another keynote address by best-selling author Robin Jones Gunn. Suffice it to say that’s when the crying started for me. She talked about obeying God when things look different than we expect, about following Him through the twists and turns in our journey as writers. (Sound familiar? Kind-a like the whole curve ball concept?)

After a teary conversation with my sweet friend and new author who’s releasing to top reviews, Carla Laureano, I felt stronger than ever that I had to swing at that curve ball. (She says we cry every time we talk. And lest you misunderstand–I wasn’t the only one sporting waterworks.)

Sunday night boasted the ACFW Awards Gala. One of my favorite memories is sharing a quick hug with the amazing Brandilyn Collins. I thanked her in the speech I never gave for year after year of faithful prayers. The highlight of my ACFW conferences for many years know has been those precious few moments with her in the prayer room.

I was honored to sing with the choir, who kicked off the gala with author Cynthia Ruchti’s arrangement of “Praise Him from Whom All Blessings Flow.” I thrilled to sing a high B. It’s been forever since I got to sing with a choir, and it’s one of my great joys.

It was also fun to be a finalist and have my very own place cards for myself and special guests.

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I had to take a picture of my book and name in the program. (Notice the beautiful centerpieces peeking from behind!)

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After the gala, I told my agent, Rachelle Gardner, that I wanted a shot with her where I no longer weighed 210 pounds. It felt so good to sport a fancy dress at my new weight. And see, a real smile even if I didn’t win the Carol.

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I love any opportunity to share time with my fabulous friend and multi-published author Janice Thompson. It’s hard to believe we were friends back when she was a “new” author. She now has at least 18 books out! (And her weight loss story is amazing! We’ve been cheering each other on!)

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As I wrote in an earlier post, I weathered not winning my category in the Carol Awards mostly fine. It helped me keep a happy face when my roomy Kathy Kovach decided I needed a consolation prize, and I pranced around in my new shoes. (Note how nicely they show off my tattoo.)

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The next morning included a couple of awesome “chance” meetings as we got out of Dodge. The first was a super cool prayer time with a homeless man while we waited for our shuttle to the airport. The second was connecting with the Bicycle Lady, Dr. Reba Hoffman, while in line at Starbucks in the airport. She writes a great blog about her experiences. Suffice it to say I find her one of the most courageous women I’ve ever met. Her stories about how God led her to ride her bicycle from town to town to help women find freedom from the ravages of abuse are breath-taking.

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Left to right, Colorado Authors Jen Turano, Carla Laureano, yours truly, Reba, the bicycle lady, Colorado Author Kathy Kovach and pre-published author Jill Buteyn, who WON her category in the prestigious Genesis contest for the not-yet-published authors. (Can you tell I’m proud of all our Colorado gals?)

The flight home included discussing theology with my seatmate, an amazing father of 3. I arrived  home exhausted and enjoyed cuddling up with my family, a pizza, and a movie.

And yes, I love sharing about my experiences–it is my blog so I get to do that. But these last two posts do relate to the question I left hanging a few posts back. As I write in upcoming posts about curve ball, just keep in mind these last two blogs–how happy and comfortable I am here in this writing world . . .

Kisses in the Curve Balls

Kiss me and smile for me. Tell me that you’ll wait for me. Hold me like you’ll never let me go . . .

It was one of those moments. It happens periodically when I’m in the early morning sleep state, between quiet and reality. A song fragment awakens me and flows through my heart and thoughts. These are rare, breathless moments. Moments when He sings over me. I’ve learned to listen.

Yes, Lord?

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The one I didn’t get to give. The one I’d already posted to my blog before I know whether or not I’d get to give it.

The one where I said to survive being a writer I had to hold onto God for all I was worth.

I’d fallen asleep  a few hours before with eyes squeezed hard in the darkened hotel room, eyelashes hot with wet that cooled to icky cold on my cheeks. I was okay. After all, it’s normal to be bummed in times like this. But I hadn’t only hidden sadness from the world. Anger smoldered, too, tinging the purity of disappointment.

Anger for the long path of a writer. Grief that only that week He’d again asked me to do something different than I wanted as a writer. To put the projects of my heart on hold again–after they’d been on hold for that last 5 years. Just when I thought maybe He’d let me move forward He again said, “no.”

The speech, remember? Live what you wrote. Hold onto Me for all you’re worth.

Yes, Lord.

I felt it, then–His kindness, His reassurance, His tenderness. Without words He spoke, “Smile for me, beloved. Don’t be angry I didn’t give you the win this time. Wait for Me. For My plan. Love me, dear one. Live in my joy. Don’t let the disappointment steal it away.”

Trust Me.

The anger dissipated.

Smile for Me?

The pain lessened.

Kiss me?

“I love you, Lord. Even when I don’t get my way.”

I thought back to all He’d taught me this summer. The preparation for the new twists of His plan.

And I knew this moment was about another surrender to another “wait.”

In His goodness He didn’t ask me to obey without also sharing His presence, His heart. Like the times Jerry has had to disappointment me for a greater good, He grieved, too. Was sad He couldn’t give what I wanted right then. Wished He could simply make me happy.

Desired, maybe even needed, my smile. My kisses.

Unbroken relationship.

I’ll write about His new plan soon. It’s a curve ball I never desired, but got excited about when He asked it of me. And then freaked out about and got mad about later, only to surrender once again.

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photo from wikipedia

It’s a curve ball that will eventually allow a home run hit or two, but that in the short term means turning (yet another time) from my long-term dreams and resting in short-term preparation.

Learning to swing at this curve ball means another season of stretching, learning, allowing Him undo thinking patterns that hold me back. Another round of stepping out of my comfort zone and swinging on a new field.

I’ll let you know all about that soon, my friends. Until then, I covet your prayers for me in this new place where I stretch.