I’m Baaack

Focus

My hubby and I were away for five days. I was unplugged from email and social networks. And guess what . . .  I didn’t miss it. It was a vacation of being rather than doing, and it was amazing. You will hear more about it in the days ahead since I gained a lot of fodder for blog posts – and a refocused life.

As we come down the homestretch of this round of A Round of Words in 80 Days, I would like to share what I hope to accomplish this week.

ROW Logo

Focus on Earning

- listening to a Firepole Marketing webinar and reading the resources

- making a more definite business plan

Focus on Writing

- three morning pages each day

- devotional(s) based on John 1

- two seniors’ living articles

- my sponsor piece for the next round

- entry for new anthology

- blog posts (at least one for here and one for stephbethnickel.com; one for Christian Editing Services; and one for Kimberley Payne)

Focus on Speaking

My coauthor and I will be speaking at the ladies’ potluck brunch this coming Saturday at my church. The brunch will be followed by a book signing at a local bookstore. I have to tweak my part of the talk a little and review it enough to feel comfortable with what I want to say – though it won’t be exactly as written. This is the first time we’ve spoken together. It’s going to be fun.

Focus on Reading

I’m reading Exile by Rachel Starr Thomson and The Language of Sparrows by Rachel Phifer . . . and loving them both.

I’m also reading The Christian Mama’s Guide to Having a Baby by Erin MacPherson and Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors by Kathy Ide. I’m reading both for business . . . and enjoying them to boot.

I hope to make significant headway in all of the above.

I’m also working through The Artist’s Way book, workbook, and journal.

Focus on Beautifying Our Home

While I was away, I stumbled across the truth that the word “declutter” carries a negative connotation, an “if . . . then . . .” weight. I recommitted to beautifying my home step by step. Funny how a more positive word results in a more positive outlook and increased motivation.

Focus on Health

- walk for 30 minutes 5-6 days

- drink 2+L of water per day (including no caff herbal tea now that the weather is cooler)

- 2 upper body and 2 lower body workouts or 3 full-body workouts

- more fruits and veggies

- less unhealthy snacking

Focus on ROW

- write sponsor post (as mentioned above)

- check in with my peeps Monday and Thursday

Categories: ROW80 | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

Super Fast ROW Check-In

Child Running

My hubby and I are heading out on holidays for six days. My goals are a little inverted this week.

Fitness

We will be walking/hiking lots and lots and lots. We also hope to spend a day adventuring at the Horseshoe Resort, weather permitting.

Business-Building

All three of my camera batteries are fully charged. I hope to take scads of photos to upload to my new photographer’s website . . . the one I will be building when we return.

I also hope to work through a significant portion of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way kit. Technically, I don’t know that this branch of art will ever prove to be income-earning, but it’s a vacationy thing to do.

Reading

Since both Dave and I like to read, we’re making it a priority to kick back and do some reading this week. My hope is to complete two (maybe three) of the books I’ve been working through.

Writing

I am taking my journal, several pens, and the Bible (the only resource I need to work on the book of devotionals I’m writing).

If anything else inspires me, I will have the means to record it . . . even though, at least for the most part, I will be unplugged. (I will either suffer severe withdrawal or find out I actually like it. :D)

Have a splendiforous week!

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Welcome Author Catherine West

I want to welcome Cathy West to my blog today. I am currently re-reading her first novel and am enjoying it even more than I did the first time. The revised version is now available and you can get Yesterday’s Tomorrow here.

Welcome, Cathy. Your protagonist is a reporter. Have you ever entertained ideas of becoming a war correspondent—or a Catherine Westreporter of any kind?

I worked a couple summers as a junior reporter at our local newspaper, but that’s as far as I got in the journalism world. I soon decided I would rather write fiction than go chasing down stories and interviewing people. But I think the war correspondent aspect is pretty fascinating.

Agreed, though I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to put myself into the middle of a hostile situation intentionally.

And why did you choose to re-release this, your first novel?

We made the decision based on various reasons, but I’m pretty excited about dipping my toes in the Indie waters. Yesterday’s Tomorrow was pretty well-received the first time around, so we’re hoping to find a whole lot of new readers this time as well.

I’m sure it will do well. This version is not exactly the same as the original. Can you give us a sneak peak at what’s different?

No.  Haha. This time we did an extensive edit on the story, so the writing is tighter, the plot more concise, and I think it all flows better. No spoilers!

I try not to include spoilers in the reviews I write. I want to entice readers to discover wonderful new books without . . . well . . . without spoiling the experience.

So, Cathy, would you say you write character-driven or a plot-driven books? Which do you look for in the novels you read?

Definitely character-driven. I usually create stories around the characters I come up with so the plot manifests organically out of their journey. They are usually pretty headstrong people with plenty of problems to work through. I enjoy reading similar novels, where the characters’ lives are far from perfect and they have various trials and challenges to work through. I like books that make me think and wonder how I would react in such situations.

And since I’m relationship-driven in all aspects of life, that’s probably one reason I enjoy your books.

So, if you weren’t writing novels, what do you think you would do to fill your days?

Watch soap operas and eat a ton of chocolate.  Seriously, I don’t know what I’d do. I can’t imagine doing anything else. I love writing so much and even though it’s challenging, I truly believe it’s what I’m meant to do.

I love reading about authors who can’t imagine doing anything else. It makes me ask myself, “Am I compelled to write or is it just something I do?” My conclusion is that I’m compelled to communicate and writing is one more way I can do that.

YesterdaysTomorrowLastly, is there anything else you would like to share with my readers—except of course to invite them to purchase Yesterday’s Tomorrow?

Well, sure, buy the book! Ha! But seriously, I hope you do and I hope you love the story as much as I loved writing it. It’s probably still my favorite book. I love connecting with my readers, so please reach out and say hi.

Catherine West is an award-winning author who writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Her first novel, Yesterday’s Tomorrow, released in 2011 and won the INSPY for Romance, a Silver Medal in the Reader’s Favorite Awards, and was a finalist in the Grace Awards. Catherine’s second novel, Hidden in the Heart, released in September 2012, was long listed in the 2012 INSPY’s and was a finalist in the 2013 Grace Awards.

When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her border collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children. Catherine is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, and is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at Catherine@catherinejwest.com

Yesterday’s Tomorrow on Amazon

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/CatherineJWest

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Catherine-West/e/B004RWZUHK/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Twitter – https://twitter.com/cathwest

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4715219.Catherine_West

Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/cathwest/

Google + – https://plus.google.com/u/0/108781711729974539211/posts

Categories: Author Interviews | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Endings and Beginnings

Summer is ending . . .

Summer Woods

Autumn is beginning (soon at least) . . .

Autumn Leaves

It’s the end of this (unless wisdom dictates otherwise) . . .

Silence

And time to begin writing and speaking about what is important . . .

Megaphone

It’s time to stop being overwhelmed by what I don’t know and what I haven’t accomplished . . .

Question Marks 2

And time to begin (again) to put into practice what I do know and determine to learn – and do – more . . .

Reading

It’s time to stop worrying about this (my stack of unread books) . . .

Books

And start this (yes, again) . . .

Girl on Stack of Books

Time to stop this . . .

Thought Bubble

And start this . . .

Keyboarding Hands

Time to stop this . . .

Feet Up

And get back to this . . .

Dumbbells

Definitely less of this . . .

Latte

And more of this . . .

Water

Far less of this . . .

Dessert

And much more of this . . .

Fruit & Veggies

September marks a new beginning for many people. What about you? What endings and beginnings are on your horizon?

Categories: ROW80, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

A Fly Went By . . .

I WISH!

The children’s book by Mike McClintock was one of my favourites.

Book Cover (Fly Went By)

However . . .

Fly

. . . this is not one of my favourites.

Not in my kitchen.

Not landing on my arm while I’m trying to work at my computer.

Yep, they’re flitting around, driving me just a little cuckoo.

And then another scenario crossed my mind.

I thought about the pictures of impoverished communities, mothers holding their sick children, not even bothering to shoo the flies from their little ones’ faces.

And that reminded me of all the reasons I have to say . . .

Thank You 2My children are, for the most part, healthy. And when they’re not, we have access to doctors and medicine.

We have shelter from the elements . . . and most of the pests.

I have the means – or access to the means – to get rid of the flies that have made my home their own.

I am well aware that any annoyance I may have is definitely a first world problem . . . and not really worth mentioning.

My condition is not because I am any more deserving than anyone else.

It is because of God’s grace.

So does that mean He loves me more?

No

It means He holds me accountable to share the blessings He has poured out.

So I guess those pesky little flies aren’t so bad after all . . .

Not if they reminded me that 1) I am blessed and 2) I have the means to bless others.

Feel free to ask me if I’ve deliberately sought to be a blessing today – or any day.

Categories: Ponderings, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Craziness for a New Week

Rock Climber

Today

It heads my way

Wonderful craziness

I see it on the horizon

Coming

* * * * * * * * * * *

And now for my ROW80 Crazy Check-In . . .

Editing Craziness

This particular craziness is temporarily on hold.

I recently completed a major editing job. YAY!

There are one or two more jobs coming down the pike at some point.

Writing Craziness

I have two or three articles to write this week.

I also want to write three or four guest posts and at least one, if not more, posts for here and my website.

I hope to write three to five devotionals for the book I’m working on.

And maybe, just maybe . . . I’ll write a new picture book manuscript.

Reading Craziness

I want to devote large chunks of my Sundays to reading, but I have to add reading to my Action Plan for other days as well.

I’m re-reading Cathy West’s Yesterday’s Tomorrow. I’m enjoying it even more the second time round.

I’ve also added a couple of books to my To Be Read pile (and ten articles from peer-reviewed journals) that are part of the requirements to maintain my labour doula certification.

I am also puttering away at a number of other print and ebooks.

And we won’t even talk about the articles and blog posts I would love to read online.

Fitness Craziness

The weather is perfect for walking, sunny with a nice breeze. I’ve done more walking this year than maybe ever before. I hope to keep it up as long as the weather permits.

While I haven’t been putting in long workouts, I have kept moving. I have ten- and five-pound weights in the living room that I use from time time time while watching TV. I do a number of bodyweight exercises each day while at the computer.

I’m losing the enthusiasm for healthy eating, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop.

As the weather cools down, it will be more challenging to drink enough water, but I will keep plugging along and will, perhaps, add more caffeine-free herbal teas.

Household Craziness

I suggested to my hubby that we spend at least one hour each Saturday decluttering the dungeon (aka our basement). We’ve made a start and I hope to maintain the momentum. It’s the whole “out of sight, out of mind” scenario.

Once we make some headway with the decluttering process, I’m sure I’ll be inspired to branch out beyond the basement.

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I am a Christian . . .

Lonely Woman. . . but I’m not always happy and worry-free.

I have much to be thankful for. And, of course, it helps to focus on those things and on the good that I can see around me if I take the time to look, but sometimes the darkness is too insidious to ignore.

The death of comic actor Robin Williams . . .

The slaughter of men, women, and children simply because of their nationality and/or faith . . .

A sense of hopelessness, even among young people with their lives before them . . .

Yes, sometimes the darkness seems to close in from all sides.

Depression, despair, and despondency are realities of life – even for the Christian, but digging into God’s Word (or even reading just a few uplifting verses) and accepting His invitation to commune with Him in prayer reminds us there is Light when all we can see is darkness.

Because I’m a Christian, I believe in Reality with a capital “r.” I believe in the Eternal. I believe that because God commanded me to keep my eyes on the Founder and Perfecter of my faith – His Son, Jesus Christ – He will enable me to do so (Hebrews 12:2). I believe what it says in Ephesians 2, that in some way that only He fully understands, I am already seated in the heavenlies with Christ.

Now, does that mean I’m evidence of the cliche that says “She’s so heavenly minded, she’s no earthly good”?

I certainly hope not.

I likely have 10, 20, 30 more years – maybe even more – to walk this earth. While I do so, I have two directives: 1) to bring God honour and glory and 2) to bless those He brings into my life

So, if I’m going to shine light in the darkness, I have to look into it long enough to see those who are wandering around with no sense of which way to go. Plus, I must do my part to allow God’s light to shine through me, a light that will guide me – and by extension, those with whom I come in contact – out of the darkness. The Bible speaks of the foolishness of hiding our light under a basket. I do not want to be guilty of doing so.

Sidebar – No matter how many times I’ve read that verse, it has never struck me before that light isn’t noticeable when it’s surrounded by light, only when it shines in the darkness. Hm, food for thought!

I must allow myself to weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15) As I more fully get to know the God of All Comfort, I can bring that comfort to others.

As I have opportunity, I must be deliberate in my endeavours to share His love. (See my post “What Can I Do?”.)

I saw the following on Facebook. I want to be this kind of friend. How about you?

“Friends pick us up when we fall down, and if they can’t pick us up, they lie down and listen for a while.”

Categories: Ponderings, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

ROW Check-In

Red Pencils

EDITING

as much of the manuscript I’m working on as I receive from the first editor

the most recent post for the pro blog I am now moderating (I will also be working to improve the appearance of past posts.)

Fountain Pen Pic

WRITING

1-2 seniors’ living articles

1-2 posts for SNEI

1 post for stephbethnickel.com

1 post for Christian Editing Services (writing prompts)

1 post for Kimberley Payne (health and fitness)

1 post for UTCOP (prayer)

Girl on Stack of Books

READING

Finish Christian Mama’s Guide to Having a Baby

I also hope to read a significant amount of the newest issue of Writer’s Digest and a friend’s novel that is being re-released.

Dumbbells

EXERCISE

5-6 days: walk for at least 30 minutes

3-4 days: resistance training

Salad

HEALTHY EATING

Goal: 5-6 days out of 7

cleaning supplies pic

CLEANING

Daily: meal prep and dishes

Three days: something extra

 

 

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What Can I Do?

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me’” (Matthew 25:34-36 ESV).

The news has always focused on the pain and heartache that surrounds us, but with the advent of the Internet and social media, that pain and heartache seem closer than ever. The situations in Israel, Palestine, and Iraq, the suspected suicide of comic actor Robin Williams, etc., etc., etc.

While these situations – and others like them – sadden me, there are many things I can’t do anything about (beyond prayer, which I know is vital), but I won’t be held accountable for those things.

But here are some of the things I will be held accountable for:

Bread

Feeding the Hungry

I am not a government official. I don’t make policy. I don’t have the financial resources to make any kind of significant difference on a global scale. But I can afford to alleviate the suffering of just one person. Though the Big Picture may be too overwhelming, I can allow my heart to be stirred for that one individual – or more.

Water Glass

Giving Drink to the Thirsty

I take it for granted. I go to my kitchen and get clean, life-giving water anytime I want to. Amongst our First World complaints is the fact that we have to pay for water – at least in the city where I live. But – Wow! – what a complaint! I may never travel to an impoverished part of the world and dig a well, but I can support those who do – even in some small way.

Man on Bench

Welcoming the Stranger

We spend so much time teaching our children to be wary of strangers that sometimes we instill fear in ourselves. We become content to spend time with family, friends, and coworkers, forgetting that a simple gesture like a smile or a hello can make a huge difference in someone’s life. And we probably all remember the feeling of being excluded at some point in our life. It’s no more fun for an adult than it is for a child or a young person.

Homeless

Clothing the Naked

Most of us don’t have to venture very far from home to encounter those who would cherish what we toss away without a second thought. I’m well aware of the “teach a man to fish” philosophy – and I agree with it. But sometimes before we can do that, we have to offer that same man food to fill his stomach, drink to quench his thirst, and clothes to cover his nakedness. Then we can go about the business of teaching him how to fish.

 

Head in Hands

Visiting the Sick

I’m not a doctor or a nurse. I’m not a nutritionist or a naturopath. I can, however, spend time with those who are sick, both in person or online. I was asked just this past weekend if I thought social media actually took away from that personal connection. As I explained, it can add another layer of distance for some, but for me, it is just one more way I can connect with other people. And as you know, I’m all about relationships.

 

Prisoner

Going to the Imprisoned

This may mean visiting an actual detention centre, but there are many forms of imprisonment and many reasons someone finds him- or herself isolated from others – or at least feeling that way. This may not be apparent from someone’s appearance or interaction with others. However, if we take the time to get to know someone – to really know them – we may realize they are lonely even when they’re not alone. And that kind of imprisonment is around us every day.

Beyond Physical Needs

It is important to do my part to meet the physical needs of those around me, but each one of us has spiritual needs as well.

Who are the spiritually hungry, thirsty, naked, sick, and imprisoned? Who is the spiritual stranger?

The Bible says, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6 ESV).

It is my responsibility to pursue righteousness – and by doing so, teach others to do the same.

Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh” (Romans 13:13-14 NIV).

This doesn’t mean that the physical life isn’t important or that it is something to be shunned, but it does mean there is a godly way to make provision for our physical needs. This takes a lifetime to learn and again, the best way for me to teach others is to do so by example.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV).

As I mentioned above, imprisonment can manifest in many different ways. The same is true with sickness. Those who are physically or mentally ill need the appropriate treatment. Those who are spiritually ill need the spiritual health that comes from a right relationship with God.

After the apostle Paul encountered the Lord Jesus, he spent his life making Him known no matter what obstacles he faced, including physical imprisonment. He never again, however, experienced spiritual imprisonment.

And who is the stranger the Bible speaks of?

Many of us know the story of “the good Samaritan” from Luke 10. Despite what preconceived ideas I may have of someone else, if I see them in need, it is my responsibility to show Christ-like love.

Why should I care for others?

“And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’” (Matthew 15:40 ESV).

And when asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus answered . . .

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV).

It isn’t that I believe in a gospel of good works (we can never be good enough to earn a place in heaven), but good works will overflow from a life surrendered to the King, Jesus Christ.

(Thanks to pixabay.com for the photos in this post.)

Categories: Ponderings, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

On the Clock

Alarm Clock

Deadlines . . . they are a very good thing.

Editing Deadlines

I have signed on to edit three manuscripts with imminent deadlines. Am I a little crazy? Maybe just a little. However, it felt incredibly good to motor through several pages yesterday. The finish line for Project #1 is in sight.

Note: I may have another project to begin this week. Maybe I am a tad more than a little crazy.

Writing Deadlines

I have four 700-word articles re: seniors’ living to write this month. I want to get at least one or two written before next Sunday.

I am a little ahead of schedule with my guest posts for Kimberley. Yay!

I am on track with my posts for Christian Editing Services.

I must, must, must get busy writing for this site and for stephbethnickel.com

Reading Deadlines

For the time being, my reading involves the Bible and grammar and writing style books.

Fitness Deadlines

I have made a declaration that I will limit my sugar intake and not eat desserts until next Saturday (I would like to limit desserts to the weekends).

I also hope to get three resistance workouts and five walks in before next weekend.

I am drinking more water and want to keep up with my new good habit.

Household Deadlines

My around-the-house goals have been shelved, but I am doing better at the day-to-day stuff.

I am participating in a challenge for wives and am keeping up with that. It’s fun to look for ways to encourage my hubby.

How about you? Do you do better with a deadline – or does it just stress you out?

Categories: ROW80, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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