It's refreshing to realize that I actually REALLY, REALLY, REALLY love what I do.
As I've gotten older, I've come to deeply appreciate the day in, day out routine of work and family.
I enjoy beach vacations, of course. But I've learned something about myself: I'm more content sitting at my computer crafting stories than I am most anywhere else in the world.
This used to be a problem, because with such a focused work ethic, I often felt I lacked the ability to appreciate the little things in life—the things I took time to notice only on vacation.
But then, slowly, over the course of many years, I learned that such an appreciation doesn't come by traveling to a distant location. It comes from being present right where I am, no matter where that is.
I've learned I can enjoy the beautiful sunsets while sitting in the park across the street from my house, just as much as I enjoy the sunsets on the beach 1200 miles away. I've learned I can harness the peace that the sunset brings—that I can really absorb it and let it impact me, right outside my front door.
I can enjoy a deep conversation with a friend right in the middle of a crazy book deadline, or embrace dinner with my family at the end of the busiest day of the month.
I challenge myself to focus on PRESENCE, everywhere I go, no matter what I'm engaged in at that moment. When I do this, joy from the daily routine starts to feel hauntingly similar to that delicious "vacation" feeling.
Does this mean I'm growing up? Perhaps growing wiser?
If so, then I guess growing up is a beautiful thing.
If my computer had human eyes (don't make me think about that too long—I might come up with another book premise), then my computer would be sick of my face, because I have been staring at it.
A whole, whole lot.
This is what I look like to my computer:
Or, would a computer's eyes be color blind?
It doesn't matter.
I am deep in the cave of a writing project.
I probably need to get back to work.
If you're on my email list, then I sent you a picture several months ago—a hint about my current work in progress. (A delicious YA fantasy.)
So back at it!
Hope your summer is full of sunshine!
Snapshot of my reading list over last handful of months ...
What are you reading these days???
Happy Summer!!! Is it summer?!? How is it summer already???
Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
Louder than Words by Todd Henry
In the Name of Jesus by Henri J.M. Nouwen
Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown
Leading from Within (an essay) by Parker Palmer
The Gift of Acabar by Og Mandino and Buddy Kaye
On Writing by Stephen King
A Guide to Confident Living by Norman Vincent Peale
The Five Second Rule by Mel Robbins
How to Be Here by Rob Bell
Indian Boyhood by Charles "Ohiyesa" Eastman
Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander (an awesome reread for me)
What is the Bible? by Rob Bell
Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr
Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison
Quest for the Grail by Richard Rohr
Mrs. Perigrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Why Some Positive Thinkers Get Powerful Results by Norman Vincent Peale
Writing 21st Century Fiction by Donald Maass
A Song for Arbonne by Guy Gavriel Kay
Choose the Life You Want: The Mindful Way to Happiness by Tal Ben-Shahar
Finding God in the Waves: How I Lost My Faith and Found It Again Through Science by Mike McHargue
At a writer's retreat in TN this past week, I met a lovely English woman (who now lives in Texas), and her mum recently passed away. They held a funeral service for her mother, and it happened to be on this past Tuesday the 10th, the 4th anniversary of my own mother's passing.
All that to say, this lovely English lady emailed me a poem that was read at her mother's funeral, and I thought it was so, so good.
I thought some of you would appreciate it, if you have lost someone you love.
Let Us Be Contented, By Winston Churchill
Let us be contented with what has happened and be thankful for all that we have been spared.
Let us accept the natural order of things in which we move.
Let us reconcile ourselves to the mysterious rhythm of our destinies, such as they must be in this world of space and time.
Let us treasure our joys but not bewail our sorrows.
The glory of light cannot exist without its shadows.
Life is a whole, and good and ill must be accepted together.
The journey has been enjoyable and well worth making-----once.
This post is specifically for all you readers who are also writers.
Last week at a local writer's group of which I'm a part, we had the honor of welcoming Pamela Clements, mentor and publishing consultant, most recently a VP in publishing at Worthy Publishing Group in Franklin, TN. She spoke for two hours. We listened, asked questions, and pondered. She was direct, powerful, loving, kind, and very, very insightful.
Here are tidbits of wisdom, straight from her mouth. I type them here for you, but also for myself, to help me digest them all over again. So brace yourself. And get out your notepad and pen.
Let's dive in:
"Tell the truth. Your book has got to be authentic."
"Can you tell me what your book is about in seven words?"
"Books get ranked and placed in specific spots on the publisher's list for a million reasons. Sales, marketability, viability of author, if people will champion it, etc."
"Publishers hate it when there is no comp title. You must have comp titles."
"You just are who you are. You just are. You're just you. And God loves YOU. That's all. And that's everything."
"Good business makes for good ministry. Bad business makes for bad ministry."
"You want the editor or marketer to put your book down (after reading it the first time) and say to herself 'How can I make this work?' Meaning: 'I don't want to let this book go.'"
"If you have a book that is very specific, about a very specific need, but not a mass need ... if you have a book that an editor says to you 'This is a good book that somebody needs, but nobody's going to sign this book.' Then this is the perfect type of book for self-publishing. Because people can find your book online after you write it. And somebody searching for help/support for that specific [thing] needs to hear your story."
"Don't be focused on a particular format of delivering content that is no longer attached to your readers' needs."
"You don't have to chew all the flavor out of everything you put in your mouth."
In regards to over-committing yourself to ANYTHING: "You can just say no. No. It's a complete sentence."
"Steady sales are what's important to keep your book on the shelf at bookstores. Not massive sales, but definitely steady sales. That's what people are looking for when deciding not to remove your book from the shelf after six months."
"You need to sell YOU to the agent. Then you sell your book. Presence first. Get his/her attention."
"Agents and editors are friends. It's a powerful relationship."
"Am I proud of the books I represented through the years? Yes. But the biggest impact I know I've had is with other women in the industry. Speak life into other women. Women make a difference. Be the light. Take time to touch others while you're doing your work."
AND FINALLLY, MY PERSONAL FAVORITE, straight from the mouth of Mrs. Clements herself, her answer to questions about the ever-evolving industry of books and writing:
Thank you so much, Pamela, for coming to speak to us! Your words and wisdom touched us all!