Friday, December 30, 2011


(In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I may not have actually found "Friday's Find" feature on a Friday. In fact, I may have stumbled on it last Saturday morning while listening to "Car Talk" on NPR. Or Tuesday at 2 a.m. while my "Liar's Bench" CD played through headphones. However it came to my attention, I felt it worthy of bringing it to yours, Gentle Reader.)

The Find: "Cecil Murphey's Writer to Writer"

How did I find the find? Diana Flegal, agent with Hartline Literary, made reference to him in her blog post for December 28.

My reaction to the find? I added Murphey's blogsite to my list of favorites on this page. He's in the teens of a 50-part series of posts he calls "Common Problems." I like his common sense approach. For the experienced writer, he gives reminders. The novice writer can learn much from this series. I look forward to reading his new book, Unleash the Writer Within.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Two Constants

Two constants exist. One is change. People. Politics. Circumstances. Geography. Writing conventions. Word meanings. They all change like the clouds in an Indiana sky.

At my age, I should be used to change, I suppose. I should take it in stride. I've certainly seen enough of it. "Of such is life," I should say. Fact is I don't accept change easily.

Therefore, when the email arrived announcing that our ACFW Scribes small critique group had been disbanded, I was sad. It didn't come as a surprise. Some members now have agents and/or contracts, and their critique needs have changed. While I celebrate the victories in the lives of my fellow Scribes, I will miss the camaraderie, the tough critiques, the prayers and encouragement we shared. 

This year brought other changes, also. I attended two Writer's Digest webinars and the Indianapolis Christian Writers Conference. I also finished the first draft of my second middle-grade novel. Even as I revise that work, I'm writing a third MG and researching for a historical novel set in southern Indiana (using a pseudonym).

What changes will 2012 bring? That's not for us to know.

Which brings me to the second constant: God, our immutable Sovereign. Isn't it a comfort to know that whatever the new year holds, He Who said, "I Am that I Am," already is there. What security! What peace!

New Year's Resolutions--
Resolved: I will write, as the Lord enables and leads.
Resolved: I will submit to select agents and publishing houses.
Resolved: I will wait upon the Lord to work His will in my life and career, acknowledging Him as my Supreme Agent.

Your Turn!
What changes occurred in your life this year that affected your writing? What do you anticipate for 2012? What resolutions have you made relating to your writing? Please leave a comment.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Dark Streets Shineth

When I was a child, the streets of New Castle, Indiana--my home town--became magic at Christmas time. "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" blared from bell-shaped speakers mounted atop some of the buildings. Shop windows sparkled with colored lights and tempting displays. Wide-eyed children pressed their noses against the window glass to get a closer view of the Terri Lee dolls, Lionel train sets, and mechanized elves. Other tots stood with their parents in the long queue to get inside the cramped little Santa Claus house on the courthouse lawn.

The stores extended their hours from Thanksgiving to Christmas, so the town streets bustled with shoppers in the evening, laughing and greeting friends. Uniformed Salvation Army workers, backs turned to the wind and collars flipped up, rang their silver bells at every intersection.

Since we lived in the Jennings Building, up over McShurley's Shoe Store and The Coffee Shop, I spent a lot of time wandering the stores and the downtown streets, drinking in the sights and sounds of the season like a mug of hot cocoa. Sometimes Mama would give me a quarter and a nickel so I could visit the candy counter at Murphy's dimestore. I would get a quarter's worth of French creme candy, available only at Christmas time, and five-cents' worth of warm Spanish peanuts, my favorite. With those two bags in my hand, I felt like a big spender.

I loved it. The busyness. The music, tinny though it was. The laughter. The candy. The lights. They all contributed to the magic.

But snow lent the real magic. As the air began to fill with large, cold, wet feathery flakes, I would turn down a side street, walk a block or so, and stand under one of the antiquated street lamps. Looking up into its aura, I watched the snow dance in the light. Softly, so that none could hear me save the lamp and the descending snow, I sang along with music from the speakers: "O, little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie. Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by. Yet in thy dark streets shineth the Everlasting Light. The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight." Amen.

Dear reader, would you be so kind as to leave one of your own Christmas reflections as a comment? I'd love to hear it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Santa Claus and Me

I never really believed in Santa Claus, but I loved the idea of that jolly old elf. Since we lived in the heart of our small central Indiana town, my path to and from school took me past the courthouse where a wee "Santa Cottage" stood between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Santa, assisted by "Mary Christmas," held court there.

Each afternoon a long queue of children and parents wended down the sidewalk and curled around the corner. Several times each year, I would step to the end of that line and go through. Santa probably wondered why I squinted at him, but I was trying to see the man beyond his disguise. I played the game and give him my wish list, and then Mary Christmas handed me a whistle sucker, all the while giving me that "Haven't you been here a few other times this year?" look. The sucker was what I really wanted.

The Santa in the shack did not sound at all like the Santa on WCTW. The latter's voice was deep and jolly. He seemed genuinely interested in the children who called in their requests. Years later, that radio Santa became the publisher of a local weekly. He gave me my first writing job. He paid me to do what I loved. Imagine that! Merry Christmas!

Write on!

Because of Christ,

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Center Stage

I love the pageantry of Christmas. Cantatas, children's plays and musicals, young adults' dramas, "specials," live nativities, and caroling. I think much should be made of the coming of Incarnate God into the flesh of humanity. The birth of the King of kings is monumental, after all. It changed all of history. The entire Bible--Old and New Testaments--points to the 33 years on Earth of the Christ, the eternal Son of God: His birth, life, death, triumphant resurrection, and imminent return.

At church whole families are involved from September until show time in preparations. The walls of the church building resound with music proclaiming the birth of the Newborn King for three months. It is a busy, cheerful time as choirs rehearse, actors learn lines and blocking, children repeat their parts until they say them in their sleep, fathers build simple sets, and mothers sew or alter costumes.

Hearts pound, tummies quiver, and knees knock as presentation time closes in. The scent of candle wax and fresh evergreens waft on the air. Grandparents arrive early to vie for choice seats, the ones providing the best camera shots. Pews fill to capacity, and ushers scurry around setting up folding chairs.

The sanctuary lights dim. The music begins. The chattering audience, filled with electric expectancy, falls silent as the program participants march in.

Then it's over. All that's left to do is to dismantle the sets, fold away the costumes, file the music, store the ornaments, and vacuum the carpet. But for three glorious months the lives of the church family revolved around that monumental moment 2,000 years ago when God became man in the form of a wee babe, born in a borrowed stable to a peasant virgin and laid in a common manger. Therein Rests the true pageantry of Christmas.
[First posted December 2009]
Write on!
Because of Christ,