The last time I wrote to you I made a big announcement: the unveiling of my first self-published book, One December. You had an opportunity to read Chapter One (Did you do it? I sure hope you did!) but the full book was not available yet.
Well, NOW it is! The paperback was not difficult to produce, but the e-book version took a few more days. Finally it, too, is ready to read from cover to cover. There is a special introductory price of $4.99 right now for the electronic version. Read it on your Kindle or phone or tablet.
I hope you enjoy One December, the story of Nikki and Mike. Not only has this story been on my heart for many years, but much of it takes place in my favorite city, Paris.
Hello, friends. I have exciting news to share with you! You who have subscribed to my posts will be the first to visit my new, completely redesigned website. Have a look around and learn about the new direction I am taking with my inspirational fiction. I’m very excited to launch my first book in the Love on the Move collection, One December. I hope you’ll visit my site and read the first chapter for free. It is a story that has been on my heart for many years and I can’t wait to share it with you!
” For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19.
God’s promises made to Israel in this passage illustrates his continuous activity in history. God’s promise was made over 7 centuries ago, yet we still celebrate His most magnificent promise. In a few days we will celebrate Christmas, this amazing event that sometimes, quite honestly, we get very accustomed to. So much so that it’s easy to overlook.
Christ is indeed “something new”, yet what God prepared for centuries. My prayer for each of us is that he will always be new to us each morning, and that at Christmas especially the stunning miracle of his birth and arrival will continue to amaze us and fill our hearts with joy.
Have a seat and get some coffee. I haven’t seen you in a while!
I guess I was waiting for lightening to strike, as I pondered what I should tell you. Lightening did strike, in a way. I don’t want to overstate it, though. I just made some decisions.
Let’s go back a bit and I’ll catch you up. I’ve wanted to be a fiction-writer since the age of 10. I started writing at the age of 11, but at age 18 I began a season of feeling inadequate and didn’t write for 2 decades (sadly, you read that right.)
The other day I was thinking about a good friend who has a lifelong health issue. As someone who is talented, intelligent, and likeable, he might have ended up arrogant, in which case we would not have become friends! But the “thorn” he carries around day by day has made him a good listener, sensitive, someone who knows how to value others. A good friend.
They say that hurt people hurt people. A hurt person might easily hurt someone else as an expression of his brokenness, not necessarily because he is a terrible person. Knowing he has been hurt doesn’t help much, if he has hurt us or someone we care about. I’ve found that it does help to soften my view of him and possibly lead me to forgiveness.
I’m at that point again. Well, I get to that point often, I hate to admit. The point I’m talking about is when the details of what I need to do swirl around me like a meteor shower, with its corresponding lack of visibility. Not that I’ve been in one. But it seems like one.
So before my blood pressure and anxiety begin to rise, I frantically reach for the steno pad I always have on my desk. I think, I have to make a list. What’s my priority?
When I want to improve in fiction and I know there are a dozen tasks I could do toward this goal— read a book on craft, get a novel from the library and study it, work on my own writing, study editing, work on description, etc. I could benefit from all of these, but what to do first?
In early May I will embark on the next part of my journey. For the first time in 3 ½ years I’ll be returning to France for a visit. Just a visit this time.
My first trip to France took place in 1989, and it changed the course of my life. After that I knew that a missionary career in France was my calling for that period. Two years later I arrived in France. The next twenty-five years took me back and forth several times, and I finally returned to the US for good in 2013.
For me this is more than a tourist trip.
A few years back I had a life change. I was changing countries and changing professions. I’d been living in Europe for several years and out of the U.S. job market for many more. When I returned and needed to find a job, I didn’t feel very marketable. I figured if I were to find a job at all, I’d have to create it myself.
I had an idea, at least, to start. One of the things I did when I lived in France was teach English to retired people. I loved doing that, and really enjoyed working with that particular group of learners. As I returned I considered: What can I still do that could be turned into a job? The answer for me was French.
Here we are in the midst of the colorful, festive Christmas season. Each year I get as much enjoyment welcoming the New Year as I do in Yuletide caloric merriment, purchasing, giving, visiting, singing, and decorating. As the year nears its sunset, I begin casting some thoughts in the direction of what’s coming as I cross the threshold.
Really. No Christmas blues, no wistful sadness. I feel a shimmer of anticipation and my mind is already darting to things I want to improve or try or experience or master in the coming year. I have a whole year as a canvas to play with.
For years I have been a goal-setter. But rather than create a list of resolutions the length of the Appalachian Trail, I set quarterly objectives, based on my annual goals (which fall into a few basic areas, like health, spiritual, fiction, personal, etc.). I review these quarterly. For me, it’s just more bite-sized and I don’t get discouraged as easily. It keeps me on target, and there’s nothing to prevent my adding new goals that weren’t there at the outset. Or taking some away. Or adapting some.
Thanksgiving is barely over. The highway home was crowded with others like me who had visited family for a few days.
Aside from a couple extra pounds, one thing I brought back with me was actually, well, 8 things. My old photo albums from high school, college, and beyond. They’d been in my mom’s shed in a box for about 20 years, when I first left to live overseas. I had not looked at them since.
Flipping through the photo albums that chronicled my adult life was like rediscovering myself, like reassembling scattered, forgotten pieces of my identity. I needed that wash of memories to bring me back to the previous chapter and stitch it together. You see, when I left Europe three years ago to return permanently to the U.S, after nearly a quarter of my life spent there, I closed the door on a life, a career, a culture…and opened another one.
Monday morning I pulled out my notepad, as I do on most Mondays. I jotted a list of things I wanted to accomplish that week. Suddenly it hit me. If I do the same thing week after week, all I will have accomplished is my to-do list. I wonder if there is something bigger I am meant to accomplish.
I began consider my bigger goals, the ones that push out in the future. One of these is being a fiction writer. In that moment I knew that if I continued doing the same things I am doing now, I’ll be in roughly the same place this time next year.
That isn’t to say I haven’t accomplished some of my objectives in writing. I think my writing craft has improved in the last year. I was able to finish a novel in time to pitch it at a large writer’s conference in August. Though that is a milestone, believe me, the prize has not yet been won.
Here’s an inspirational place: Southport, NC, founded in 1792. I first saw Southport when I was watching a Nicolas Sparks movie entitled Safe Haven. At the time, I didn’t finish the movie, but was entranced by the location. A small coastal town that, at the risk of using a cliché, can only be called charming, with an easy pace and historical intrigue. Despite (or because of) its laid-back magnetism, several movies and television series have been filmed there. I finally had the chance to go...