Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Good News




Twas (It is the week before Christmas.)

And all is a bustle.

I don't know about you, but I've put in some long days, preparing rooms, menus, shopping, and activities for the family members who will be here for Christmas. I love the preparations but am really happy for the break to write this blog. 

Hey, want to take a break with me? 

In this fourth week of Advent let's think about some amazing words from our heavenly Father.







Absolutely nothing can separate us from God's love. 

You are so loved. 

To prove His love, God sent His Son, Jesus, to live among us, talk with us, teach us, show us about God. Jesus is our Good News. He made a way for us to live forever with the God who loves us.

Christmas will be celebrated this Sunday by many.

It will be a time to celebrate and remember the birth of God's Son. 

Years ago a family from church told me they held a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas day. They made a birthday cake and put up birthday party decorations along with the usual Christmas decorations. The idea sounded like a lot of fun. One my hubby and I chose to do with our kids. My youngest daughter ordered a special cake for this year's celebration. Yum.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas. That you laugh, sing, and spend time with others.

I'll see you next year, January 3rd, 2017.   



This post has been brought to you by the one word: Love

Friday, December 16, 2016

Inspiration



Erica Vetsch shares her warm smile around the Christian writing community. She is fully engaged in reaching out to others on facebook, twitter, and on her blog. She has a gift of inspiring others to do...whatever God has directed. More than thirteen of her books have been published.

Today, Erica discusses inspiration. When does it come. And what happens when inspiration strikes us.







Inspiration

Recently a friend of mine asked on her blog “What inspires you?” I loved all the answers. Some readers were inspired by music, some by walking in the mountains, some by reading great fiction, or looking at the sky. After some thought, I realized that my most inspirational times, the times when my imagination is most nimble, are those precious moments at night before I fall asleep.

Photo Courtesy
For as long as I can remember, I have daydreamed myself to sleep at night. When the house is quiet, everything is dark, and I can just close my eyes and let my mind drift to magical lands and places, peopled with characters I wanted to hang out with, adventures I wanted to take. As a child, I continued stories that I’d read, riding The Black Stallion, nursing patients with Cherry Ames, pioneering with Laura Ingalls Wilder. 

It was in those precious moments that I learned to spin my own stories, and even now that’s when I work out plot problems, talk to characters, or imagine settings. My mind is free from distractions, noise, electronics, tasks, and to-do lists. 

It is at this time that I can overcome writer’s block by shedding doubt and letting myself explore ideas that simply won’t come when facing a blinking cursor and a blank page. It’s when I can sink into the story and eventually into slumber.

How about you? Advent is here. Soon Christmas will be, too. When does your inspiration come? What inspires you to do what ever you are led to do?






Author Bio: Erica Vetsch is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves history and reading, and is blessed to be able to combine the two by writing historical fiction set in the American West. Whenever she’s not following flights of fancy in her fictional world, she’s the company bookkeeper for the family lumber business, mother of two terrific teens, wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul-mate, and avid museum patron.

Find Me On Facebook
Find Me On Twitter
Find My Blog On the Write Path


Thank you Erica for spending time with us, today.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Advent-A Secret Kept By An Entire City


photo by Mary Vee
It's the third week of Advent 2016.

Set aside the crazy aspects that take place, you know what they are, and think of the heart meaning of Advent with me. 

Breathe in deeply. Hold the air. Slowly release. Ready? This is a time of wonder and preparation. Dedicate your thoughts for what is about to come: The celebration of the birth of Christ the King.

Feels good, yes?





Okay, I couldn't keep from talking to you about Italy another week. I learned so much about the rich heritage of this country while there. Trust me, you'll see why today's post is worth your time and its connection with Advent. 

Photo by Mary Vee

After walking through the entrance of St. Francis Basilica, through the lower chapel with the breathtaking painted ceilings, up the narrow stairs, and out to a court, I saw this view.

The lower brick area was the first floor I just walked through, the upper stained glass windows are the third floor, the main chapel where the Pope holds mass when he visits. In between these two magnificent chapels is a hidden second floor. 

I saw no access.

But this secret space served a crucial purpose.

During WWII, Hitler marched his troops into Assisi. Before the tanks arrived, the city banned together to harbor all the Jews. Priests provided this space between the two chapels to hide three hundred Jews

Secluded in this windowless area, smuggled food and water kept the Jews alive. A European couple had the equipment and ability to forge documents. One family at a time received their documents giving them new names and the necessary paperwork to leave the country.

During this time, one Nazi soldier came to the church for mass, secretly he was Catholic. He walked about the Basilica and figured out the unseen second floor. He mentioned his observation to the priest and promised not to tell anyone.

Photo by Mary Vee
Gradually the last Jewish family fled the city. All three hundred Jews safely fled the country.

Years later, Jerusalem sent a gift to the city of Assisi in appreciation of their sacrifice. Marble was dug from a Jerusalem quarry and shipped to Assisi. In this immense court, stripes of white marble from Jerusalem serve as a constant reminder. 

A reminder of great sacrifice made to save the lives of many. 




Take a walk with me through the city of Assisi, 
a city built on a hill.


Photo by Mary Vee





The gate, entrance to the city.






Photo by Mary Vee
Photo by Mary Vee
















Photo by Mary Vee



Blessings on your Advent season.


This post has been brought to you by the one word: Advent'sUltimateSacrifice




If you have questions or want to know more about Christ's ultimate sacrifice, 
please feel free to email me, maryveewriter@gmail.com 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Dusty Hidden Places


Today's guest is Cynthia Toney. I know her from a young adult writers small group in ACFW. Her gift and ideas for books has launched her writing career.

Dusty Hidden Places

I love the writing world. I feel as though I have finally come home.

A long career in art, advertising design, and marketing distracted me from pursuing what I always wanted to do but didn’t quiet the urge. When people asked if I drew or painted in my leisure hours, the answer was always no. Did I dare tell them my dirty little secret? That in quiet solitude I put on paper (no personal computer then) ideas for greeting cards, instructional articles, and advice columns? 

In performing my duties as advertising artist and graphic designer, I took every opportunity to write when the job offered it. I couldn’t help but attempt to improve advertising copy that came across my desk for use in an ad I designed. Not everyone in the business appreciated my editorial efforts, however.  Once, I was chastised by a sales rep for changing some advertising copy ever so slightly. “You’re not a writer,” she said. 

If she had known me better, she would’ve realized that derisively telling me what I’m not, or what I can’t accomplish, is a sure-fire way to get me to become or do that very thing. 

I began to write more often—for websites and newsletters, including my own newsletter about using salvaged materials to create home décor. Then came a job with an educational publisher, where I created all the copy for its catalogs and direct-response mail. 

Hey, I was on a roll! Why couldn’t I write a book? (Yes, I was that naïve.) A few ideas for nonfiction came to me because of my experience in advertising and design, but… 

I’d always enjoyed being with pre teens and young teens—especially those gangly, awkward kids who spoke without thinking and were full of love but didn’t know where to direct it. Memories of my childhood and my daughter’s made me want to write a novel that would show kids how wonderful and powerful they are. I wanted to title it BIRD FACE before I was sure what the story would be. 

But a finished book wasn’t meant to happen for a couple of years. My commute between cities for the publishing job put the novel on a back burner. Finally, tired of both the commute and lack of leisure time with my family, I resigned. I returned to the manuscript bursting with excitement. 

I had so much to learn. Fortunately, a couple of self-help books for writers were recommended to me. The next year was spent learning the basic mechanics of writing a novel and linking plot and subplots. 

Then...

My husband took a job in Mississippi. We bought a house—three months before Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and Louisiana. In the chaos of the move, Katrina, and a new computer, my manuscript files were lost. 

My new job as a decorator stole novel writing time. I mentioned my novel to coworkers and relatives even though I couldn't find time to make writing a priority. I didn’t abandon my passion altogether, though. There were opportunities for articles about things I loved, such as cooking, decorating, and dogs. 

Much later, a friend asked how my book was progressing. I suddenly realized I didn’t know how to find chapters dissolved in cyber space. Her encouragement inspired me to search my closets. There I found a partial hard copy. Sad to say it was several versions old.  Yech. I didn’t look forward to retyping the whole thing, and my memory was foggy on missing pieces of the story. 

Then...

In my search through dusty hidden places, my husband, bless his little pack-rat heart, had saved a copy of the manuscript on a zip disc. Zip discs were no longer being used for storage, but he was able to find an old zip drive to access the information. Back in business! (Kiss, kiss.) 

I jumped into rewriting the novel with a fresh perspective. Soon I fell knee-deep in revisions. 

An adventurous publisher willingly took me on. She and her skilled editors gave my book, BIRD FACE, the expert attention it needed. It released in 2014. 

This novel has been on a journey for over a decade. I started a new novel, set in the 1920’s, last year, and  plan to begin a sequel to BIRD FACE soon. 

If God has given you a dream, don’t give up. You’ll likely encounter distractions and face roadblocks. Sometimes eyes will glaze over at the mention of the dream. It’s okay if everyone doesn’t share your passion or even believes you can achieve it.  Believe it yourself, and don’t give up. Ever.

Thank you, Cynthia!!

So, Reader, do have a hidden dream you've been aching to follow?


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Advent-How Michelangelo Struggled to Show Christ's Ultimate Sacrifice





It's the second week of Advent 2016.

Set aside the crazy aspects that take place, you know what they are, and think of the heart meaning of Advent with me. 

Breathe in deeply. Hold the air. Slowly release. Ready? This is a time of wonder and preparation. Dedicate your thoughts for what is about to come: The celebration of the birth of Christ the King.

Feels good, yes?







Okay, I couldn't get Italy off my mind for today's post. Why? Because Michelangelo's four Pietas are seared in my memory from my trip to Italy this last October. The power. The emotion. I could have stood before each one for hours, so deeply impacted with the message.




Here is the artist's first Pieta. Showcased in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City. Seeing this piece was beyond inspirational. Michelangelo sculpted this piece when only twenty-three years old. Mary is portrayed as a young person, indicating that Christ died even for her. See the way she holds Jesus as a nurturing mother? Michelangelo's portrayal of Mary and Jesus is breath-taking. Consuming. Powerful.





The Palestrina Pieta on display at the Accademia Galleria in Firenze, (Florence), Italy was Michelangelo's second attempt to satisfy his image of this scene. In the hall leading up to the famous statue of David are these magnificent works all by Michelangelo. What took me back, and caused me to just stand before these works and look at them was the passion expressed in the pieces. The reality of Jesus's death after coming down from the cross. The compassion, and determination to take his body to a safe place on Nicodemus and Mary's face. And it's not just their faces, the passion is expressed in Jesus's lifeless legs, Mary and Nicodemus's muscles holding their blessed Lord. How could we but feel the truth of this scene? As matter of fact, Michelangelo was so consumed with the expression of emotions that he walked away from this piece feeling he hadn't done a good enough job.







Michelangelo quickly felt compelled to make a third. This is the Deposition Pieta and is on display in the Museo dell Opera in Florence. Michelangelo began this work when he was seventy-two without being commissioned. He was making it for his own tomb. So consumed with this scene, he sculpted his own face in for Nicodemus, demonstrating his heartache for the sin he had done to cause Christ's death. Again, in frustration for not getting the piece the way he wanted it, he tried to destroy it. He left the piece broken and never returned to it. Another artist was hired to make repairs. Notice that the first Pieta had Mary and Jesus. The second one added Nicodemus, and this third one adds Mary Madeline. This is a magnificent work, all chiseled from one piece of rock.









Rondanini Pieta is on display in the Castle Sforzesco in Milan and completed in 1564. Michelangelo had said he was done making the Pieta after the Deposition Pieta. Apparently he couldn't get this scene out of his mind. He worked on this piece even on the last day of his life, attempting to capture Christ's death and Mary's deep mourning. 


When looking at this piece from certain angles, you can see Jesus bearing Mary's weight on his back. The love of Christ not only sacrificing his life to take the punishment for our sins, but also holding us up in our deepest sorrows.








So now you can see why these works of Michelangelo became the ideal topic of an Advent post. 

One last though.It is said that Michelangelo did not feel he formed sculptures out of the rock, he felt he was releasing the piece hidden in the rock, merely chiseling away the rock to reveal what was there.

Blessings on your Advent season.

This post has been brought to you by the one word: Advent'sUltimateSacrifice





If you have questions or want to know more about Christ's ultimate sacrifice, please feel free to email me, maryveewriter@gmail.com 


Friday, December 2, 2016

God Given Talent Isn't Enough...What He Expects



Photo by Mary Vee - Rocky Mountains, Montana
I met Angie Breidenbach at a Montana ACFW meeting held in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. She is a sweet friend who is always willing to help. A piece of trivia for you: Angie was Mrs. Montana. 

Driving through Montana you can't help but think about God. Rocky Mountains, vast flat ranch lands, rugged to the max. Breathtaking. Today we're talking about the talents God has given us. But possessing your talent just isn't enough. If we allow insecurities or other things to distract us from using these magnificent talents, then what good is it?


I asked Angie to share her thoughts...








God Given Talent isn't Enough...What He Expects 


I am a communicator, I talk a lot, write a lot, and connect.


There's irony in that statement because though we have natural talents and innate personalities, we still must learn the skills of how to use those talents to become who we are meant to be.

Coming from a home with a mentally ill mom, confusion reigned. Often I couldn't figure out who I was or what I was supposed to be. It seemed like the rest of the world understood how to interact in society and make friends. I couldn't even figure out how to talk to another person without being pegged an odd duck.

I learned to read and write at four. I'd journal, write poetry, and lyrics for songs. None of it done with any skill, just raw emotion. Emotion that had to get out to help me survive.

I married, too young, to escape.I didn't feel safe writing my thoughts or stories. I set all my writing aside, except for long letters home, for ten years in order to avoid arguments.

When my life changed again, I began journaling to ease my stress. For several months, I hid my writing. I still feared someone finding it and attacking me for my feelings or personal thoughts. About six months into being a single mom, I wasn't afraid any longer that someone would read it without my permission, but I still kept it hidden. My soul clicked back on. But I still had no skills, only the deep burning desire to write.

I searched for classes and support as a writer. I bought writing books and devoured them. I remarried and continued to take online classes while raising six kids and working full time. What I knew about me came from something I'd found in the Bible. I knew God knit me together in my mother's womb. He knit into me an all-consuming desire to write, speak, and share. I recognized one thing: A writer is who I am, who I was made to be. I still need skills, both in novel writing and in how to understand the publishing business world.

Friends materialized out of the fog. Friends that could bond with me on this road. I'd been so isolated, these special people helped me to build confidence, courage, and a sense of self. God poured into me through these beautiful friends at writing conferences and online. It started at the Idaho Writers League in 2004 where my contest submission actually won honorary mention. I wasn't a bad writer? 

There I found out about RWA (Romance Writers of America) and the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter for Christian writers. More friends added a rich quilt of love in my writing life, all writers running the same race. Here's a picture of the FaithGirls.com blogging buddies from our 2008 conference. 

The Lord knew I needed mentors. It took many, many people to help me crawl on my path until I could walk on my own two feet. But still, I link hands with my friends, and hope I offer a hand to another as I was offered.

Tamela Hancock Murray with me
at ACFW conference

I met my agent, Tamela Hancock Murray, because of another friend (Michelle Sutton). Tamela sold my first book, a non-fiction Christian living, Gems of Wisdom: For a Treasure-filled Life. 

Creative Cooking for Colitis and Creative Cooking for Simple Elegance  are books I'm also very proud to share.

Tamela called me a second time. My first novel, A Healing Heart, was accepted for publication. It released April 2013.





That last soul click taught me a missing link in my writing. Writing who I am is what I know and gives me a unique voice. I can write any genre, any location, anytime frame, any characters as long as I write from the depths of my soul, the depths of my experiences, the depths of my growth.

I have so much more to lean. But this late bloomer finally figured out that to live a fulfilling life, I have to be who God made me to be and write her into my books in order to make a ripple with my guppy tail in a great big ocean.




Interact with or learn more about Angela Breidenbach:


Website  |  Twitter  |   Facebook





Thank you, Angela, for joining us today. 


So, Reader, how can you break free and use those amazing talents God has given you? Is there something special you can do during this Advent season to let your talent sparkle? 



This post has been brought to you by the one word: SparklingAdvent

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Set Aside The Crazy and Leap Into Advent


Photo by Mary Vee



Advent 2016 has begun.

Set aside the crazy aspects that take place, you know what they are, and think of the heart meaning of Advent with me. 

Breathe in deeply. Hold the air. Slowly release. Ready? This is a time of wonder and preparation. Dedicate your thoughts for what is about to come: The celebration of the birth of Christ the King.

Feels good, yes?








For all the traveling I've done, I can't say I've set foot in every state from the extreme east coastal soil of the United States to the west coast. I've come close, though. 

Another thing I have not done was preach the Gospel in every state I visited. I haven't even eluded to the saving grace of Jesus Christ. The gift of eternal life.

What brings all of this up?

Well, I heard an intriguing talk about the Apostle Paul this week. In Romans, Paul said the Gospel had been preached to the world. He had preached to the area from Illyricum to Jerusalem and had plans to head to Spain via Rome.


I had no clue where Illyricum was to grasp the amount of land he'd covered. I assumed the city was no longer was called Illyricum, but I had no idea what it was called today.

Do you know?

I had to look it up, too. Here is a map. The area that is now called Croatia is where Illyricum was located.



The land inside the red circle above covers a little more than the width of the continental United States. 

Paul's mode of travel included sailing and walking. No trains, busses, cars, subways, or taxies. And sailing on the Mediterranean was not easy. Winds kicked up storms more powerful than many striking the oceans. Paul ended up ship wrecked more than once.

Still he pressed on with his task, all year long. In the blazing heat, freezing weather...all weather, teaching, discussing, and showing the men and women who lived in that space as wide as the continental United States there is a living God who loves them very much.

So much, this same one and only living God sent His Son Jesus Christ to live in our world for thirty-three years teaching, discussing, and showing us the ways of God. And when the right time came, God's Son, Jesus Christ, offered Himself as payment for all the sins.. 

As a gift to us.

Because He loves us.

And this Christmas, a time for gift giving, is the perfect time to share God's gift with someone who we know.


This post has been brought to you by the one word: Advent




If you have questions, please feel free to email me, maryveewriter@gmail.com 





Friday, November 25, 2016

Childhood Stories for the Holidays



I met Michelle through My Book Therapy. She is a regular instructor for the Monday night chats. I couldn't wait to meet this wonderful lady in person at the conference. She manned the My Book Therapy booth, reaching out to writers to encourage them. At the MBT Western Theme Pizza party she wore her duds and had fun, even took a pic with me. She is a cheerleader, a supporter, an encourager, and someone who knows how to make you smile...and today Michelle shares this with us:


Childhood Stories

Photo by Mary Vee
If you’ve ever lived in a small town, you might understand how I began to love stories. Small town folk are required to have an active imagination if they're going to stay busy. 

As a pastor’s daughter, I spent a lot of my years in small towns. I saw the stories of families told at local cafes and the exaggerated tales of giant fish, 12 point bucks, and big foot. 

People can light up the room when they tell a story. Everyone is drawn closer to hear the tale and enjoy knowing the adventures of each others lives. I lived those adventures in my imagination taking me places a young girl could never go. Words poured out onto my journal pages full of thoughts and funny things that happened to me.

There was the time we got snowed into a hotel while driving to our cousins for Christmas. We used my Dad’s fingernail clipper to remove the legs of our jeans so we could swim in the pool.

Our kid contests on vacation testing who could jump into the freezing lake in early May or chasing June bugs, catching Cray fish, or sitting on boat cushions while motoring faster than we should have to stir up the water.

Going fishing with my dad early in the morning on a smooth, glass-top lake only to be startled then soaked by the angry otter that belly-flopped next to our boat. These images and sensations are as real in my mind as it was when I was there. 

The environment around me sparked ideas that turned into complete stories. We all have the ability to find stories or good memories to tell others in our world around us.

Whether you are inspired by people, settings, or an amazing idea, share them this holiday season with those you know. 

What is your favorite childhood story?

Mary here, I'll start us off. Well, I can't say I have one favorite, I was known as the rascal in my family and managed to find myself in interesting problems many times. My mom also tells me stories I must have been too young to keep in my memory...or have chosen to forget. So, the one I'm sharing isn't the typical fond memory you might expect, but it is one that makes me laugh at myself. 

One year at college, I was attending a big event. My date took me to a fancy restaurant beforehand. You know the kind. Reservations. Corsage. Etc. I wore my sister's gorgeous, floor-length dress, (I was number two and rarely had my own). Dressed up fancy, at a ritzy restaurant. I'd never been to one with so many forks! Yeah. 

I ordered tea. Soon after, the waitress brought sizzling hot tea in a delicate, Chinaware cup  set on a saucer. So elegant. 

I gestured with my conversation and...yep. The tea splashed across a sparkling white tablecloth. Thanks to my date's quick response, he cornered the puddle with the dazzling white cloth napkins before any went on my dress. I was mortified and as red faced as my fair completed date. Yes...these are the memories made for retelling.  

Okay...Your Turn

and by the way...


Michelle Lim is the author of the new book Idea Sparking: How to Brainstorm Conflict in Your Novel. Also a romantic suspense author whose manuscripts have earned recognition in The Rattler Contest 2012, the Genesis Contest 2011, and the Frasier Contest in 2010. Michelle is the Brainstorm/Huddle Coach at My Book Therapy and serves as Vice President of MN N.I.C.E., a local chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers.







Idea Sparking: How to Brainstorm Conflict in Your Novel, gives you tricks and strategies to up the conflict in your stories with new ideas and specific methods. It is designed to be a resource you pull out time and again to find a strategy to apply to your manuscript.












Thank you Michelle for joining us today. What a treat to have you with us.