Yes, No or Not Yet

Last week was quite the week in our household. Well, maybe a lot of households with that whole presidential election thing going on. We, and apparently a whole bunch of other Americans, had no idea how it would turn out, but there was one thing I did know. Regardless of who won the presidential election, several hours after it was finally called, the sun was still going to rise and we’d get back to our regularly scheduled lives.

I called that one right. How nice was it to finally stop obsessing over the polls, YouTube videos, WikiLeaks, the nightly news, and the never-ending arguing on Facebook. Lucky for me, I have a huge project I’m working on to occupy those vacant hours now that I won’t be perusing the Internet day in and day out.

One thought before I go onto the next topic, there were undoubtedly a lot of prayers going up to the heavens the week before the presidential election. Now that it is done and over with, half the people in the United States are filled with gratitude for prayers answered and the other half are probably wondering why their prayers weren’t answered.

From my perspective — no matter what the outcome of the election was, all the prayers were answered. God either answered yes, no or not yet. He sees the big picture — we’re not privy to that. Through the years I’ve read a lot of books on spirituality and religion ranging from Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch to the works of Dynamic Catholic founder Matthew Kelly.

We’re here on the Earth at this place and this time for a reason. The words of Roy Smith sum up it up one way — “We come to earth school to have physical experiences, and from these experiences we learn valuable lessons that enable us to evolve spiritually.”

Matthew Kelly talks about the importance of having the goal while we’re alive to “become the best versions of ourselves.”

As hard as it can be to accept, we grow more from the challenges we face in life than from the times when life was smooth sailing. So no matter how things turned out, this could be the ideal opportunity for us to grow, put our differences aside, and to do what we can to make the best with the hand we’ve been dealt. Everything is happening for a reason, and as they say, it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you handle it that makes the difference.

I’m vowing to disengage somewhat from social media and to turn towards other things. One of those things happens to be NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month), the project I referenced earlier. This is a challenge to aspiring authors worldwide to write a 50,000-word novel in the month of November. That breaks down to writing at least 1,667 words every day for 30 days. This is the third year in a row that I’ve signed on. It’s an arduous task, I’ve been spending up to six hours each day writing so that I stay on pace and hit my personal goal of producing one chapter per day.

Since this book is a sequel to my novel A World Such as Heaven Intended, the plan is to have it published by our same publishing team and released in the first or second quarter of 2017. This writing challenge has been exactly what I needed to get moving forward on this project — otherwise it could have sat on the back burner for months.

To add to the busyness of this month we spent the first two weeks helping our son, daughter-in-law and 11-month-old grandson move from our house, where they’ve been living the last four months, to their new house. It’s been quite the process because there were a number of projects that needed to be done before the actual moving process could happen. We’re going to miss having that sweet little baby around but the good news is they have a beautiful home that’s only 4.9 miles from our house.

We’re looking forward to hosting our first Thanksgiving in several years. It will be a small crowd so it shouldn’t be too overwhelming. There’s nothing like smelling the turkey roasting while we watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade and look at all the ads for Black Friday. By then I will be all done Christmas shopping but it’s always fun to see what the specials are. We’ll be sleeping in when folks are lining up at 4:00 in the morning for the door busters.

The plan is to complete my novel before November 24 so I can really relax and enjoy the holiday. We have so much to be thankful for this year, it will be great to set aside a day to reflect on all of our blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! Have fun and safe travels!

 

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Let’s Start A Movement!

These thoughts have been brewing in my mind for a while but some things I recently noticed on Facebook inspired me to write this post today.

Social media can be a blessing or a curse. It can create powerful change, it can bring light to topics which need to be exposed, it can educate and entertain the masses. On the other hand it can be a source of pain, degradation and destruction. People have various opinions on everything under the sun and in general it can be fine to state your opinion in a respectful way. But when people on Facebook or Twitter criticize a person who has a different opinion or stance than they do on a particular issue and they make it a personal attack on that person (their character, their appearance, their voice, their religious affiliation), then that’s just downright mean and uncalled for.

As a human race we have common goals we strive for — health, safety, security, love and happiness for ourselves and our families. If every one of us just followed the Ten Commandments, life would be pretty tranquil on this planet. But, if that’s too much to ask, can we just be as nice as we possibly can be to each other? I propose that we start a movement, not sure of the name yet, maybe something along the lines of the Kindness movement? Or the Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? movement?

How about we hold ourselves and our fellow human beings to a higher standard. If people are talking about other people, whether in person or on social media, and they are being less than kind, let’s point it out. If you see a mean post about a celebrity, how about we comment with Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? or #isittrueisitnecessaryisitkind. It may be a bit uncomfortable at first but can you imagine how this world would change if people started standing up for common human decency and kindness?

Below is a copy of my post on Facebook from this morning. These are the thoughts that wake me up from a deep sleep in the middle of the night! I can’t rest until I know I’ve captured that divine inspiration!

What do you think? Are you in? Let’s start a movement and see how many lives can be changed!

This poem, written in 1872, is timeless. In this day and age of social media its message is even more important. Just because a person is a public figure — whether it’s politics, the film industry or professional athletics, it doesn’t mean that it’s acceptable to ridicule them (their looks, their intelligence, their faith, whatever). This just seems like another form of bullying. The things you write on Facebook, would you really say that to someone in person? We’re all God’s children made in His image. “Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?” should be something for all of us to consider before we talk about other people. Or in the words of Thumper, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”

“Is It True? Is It Necessary? Is It Kind?

Oh! Stay, dear child, one moment stay,
Before a word you speak,
That can do harm in any way
To the poor, or to the weak;
And never say of any one
What you’d not have said of you,
Ere you ask yourself the question,
“Is the accusation true?”
And if ’tis true, for I suppose
You would not tell a lie;
Before the failings you expose
Of friend or enemy:
Yet even then be careful, very;
Pause and your words well weigh,
And ask it it be necessary,
What you’re about to say.
And should it necessary be,
At least you deem it so,
Yet speak not unadvisedly
Of friend or even foe,
Till in your secret soul you seek
For some excuse to find;
And ere the thoughtless word you speak,
Ask yourself, “Is it kind?”
When you have ask’d these questions three—
True,—Necessary,—Kind,—
Ask’d them in all sincerity,
I think that you will find,
It is not hardship to obey
The command of our Blessed Lord,—
No ill of any man to say;
No, not a single word.

Mary Ann Pietzker – 1872

Beginning a Second Novel Today!

It’s super exciting to watch the process as my novel is being rolled out to the mass market. First came the launch on Kindle via Amazon. Every step of the way this book has been looked over with a fine-toothed comb. Consequently, there have been more tweaks than I ever could have imagined are possible. Of course, the more eyes that look at this, the more things are caught. Last Friday I received the proof copy in the mail. It’s really hard to describe the feeling holding the book in your hands that you’ve been working on for six years and seeing your name on the cover and the spine of the book. Yowza!

I was instructed to read the book over the weekend and see if there were any last fixes that needed to be made. I live for deadlines so consequently I scheduled the reading session starting late Sunday afternoon. In the meantime, I got a private message on Facebook from a gentleman who read the book and really enjoyed it. He had one question about the final page of the story. Without looking at the copy, I explained how things turned out and could set up the book for a possible sequel.

It took about seven hours to go through the book and find those minute details that needed addressing. Around midnight Sunday I got to the last page and stopped dead in my tracks. There was one word wrong that completely would change how the story was wrapped up. No wonder that gentleman was confused! I sent a panicked e-mail to my publisher and she assured me if it was just a typo, they’d let it slide until the next round of printing. This was much more than a typo! Talk about throwing a monkey wrench in the works! “Stop the presses” was no longer an expression you hear in the movies, it was literally what we had to do.

That threw the timing of everything off because we weren’t able to order copies of the book that day for the book launches in November. Thankfully everything was able to be fixed and the book went to press on October 29. This turned out to be the perfect day for printing to be begin. This is the note I got from my publisher late that day: “I spent a long time today going through this final proof and approved it this evening on the Feast of Blessed Maria Restituta (rather than waiting until Saturday). Blessed Maria was a martyr and beheaded by the Nazis, but her feisty spirit reminds me of Amara and…we can ask for Blessed Maria’s intercession for the success of your book!” Wow! To top it off, Blessed Maria was a nurse just like our heroine. Talk about divine intervention!

A World Such as Heaven Intended has been in the hands of beta readers and other folks for the last month or so with the hope that people will like it enough to write positive reviews on Amazon. So far, so good. After 10 reviews, we’re still at 5 stars! Even better news is the book is moving up in rank on Amazon as more people are purchasing copies for their Kindles. Heading to the topper-most of the popper-most. (Beatles fans should get this…)

Anyhow, someone read the book earlier this month and sent me a message asking when the sequel would be available. The picture below shows the expression on my face when I read her note…

Jinlge all the way

 

Apparently I need to get writing. Once again, providence has stepped in. Today is November 1, or as my fellow writing friends know, it’s the first day of Nanowrimo or National Novel Writing Month. Writers around the world are encouraged to write a 50,000-word novel between today and November 30. That’s 1,667 words per day in case anyone’s counting. In my estimation that’s a good 2 hours of writing per day. Seeing as I have so much free time on my hands, I signed up. Here’s the deal… I have two sequels on the drawing board for A World Such as Heaven Intended but both are quite labor-intensive in the research department. So I’m starting a completely different project, a young adult novel set in 1974 that centers on the topic of bullying and a young girl’s experience as the victim of a bully and how the issue is resolved in an unexpected way.

Guess it’s time to get writing! I’ll keep you in the loop and let you know how the manuscript is progressing!

Wouldn’t it be nice if A World Such as Heaven Intended made someone’s Top 10 Book List someday?

There’s been lots of posts on Facebook lately where people are listing the top 10 books that have stayed with them in some way. That got me to thinking about my book, A World Such as Heaven Intended that will be available on Amazon October 27. Wouldn’t that be something if my book made someone’s list someday? Maybe it will inspire them to live their dreams or write their own book, who knows! This is my first novel, so I’m getting super excited to see it in print. The first copy should be in my hands next week.

This topic made me pause and consider what my top 10 books are that have stayed with me through the years. They are listed below, in the order in which they were read.

Little House in the Big Woods — Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read this probably around third grade and it instilled in me a passion for history and reading. I still have all the books in the series  and have added other books that are related to the original series. I loved Little House on the Prairie when it became a television series. Michael Landon was my favorite actor on the show, it’s so sad that he passed away at such a young age. (Side note, I was also a huge fan of the Nancy Drew series of books.)

A Wrinkle in Time — Madeleine L’Engle. I discovered this around fourth grade and I read it more times than I can remember. It made me very interested in time travel. So interested, as a matter of fact, that one of the next three books I’ve got on the drawing board is about this very topic. Stay tuned!

The Diary of Anne Frank — Anne Frank. This book was difficult for me to read because I always wanted it to have a better ending. I read it in junior high and it inspired me to learn more about World War II and the Holocaust, which is another potential manuscript I’ll be taking on at some point.

Ashes in the Wind — Kathleen Woodiwiss. I discovered this book in high school through my mom, of all people. My copy is in tatters, I’ve read it so many times. This to me was the best novel set in Civil War times that I had ever read and this was the biggest motivating factor for me to write my first novel set in that era. Hopefully Kathleen is looking down from Heaven and enjoying my work.

The Once and Future King —T.H White.  Read this in high school and was intrigued by how this author went in depth with the story of King Arthur. Even though I was only 16-months old when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, I have had a fascination with him my entire life. It’s been said that his favorite Broadway show was Camelot which happens to be one of my favorites as well. People often compared his time in the White House to the Camelot years, he and Jackie were the closest thing to royalty the United States had ever known. It still makes me sad thinking of his tragic death. Speaking of royalty,I was infatuated with Princess Diana as well, who also left us way too soon.

Gone with the Wind — Margaret Mitchell. When you think of novels about the Civil War, the first one that comes to mind is Gone with the Wind. Such a classic book and another one of my inspirations. Someone who read my manuscript for A World Such as Heaven Intended actually told me that it was like Gone with the Wind, only better and would make a fantastic movie. Wowza, now that’s a compliment! BTW, I loved the sequel to this book, Scarlett, written by Alexandra Ripley. That was a hard act to follow but the book was excellent and it had a better ending. Totally worth the read.

The Aladdin Factor — Jack Canfield & Mark Victor Hansen. I read this book in my young adult years after being introduced to the concept of personal development and it was absolutely life-changing for me. This is the No. 1 most influential book in my life. I apply the Aladdin Factor in my life every day — I am constantly asking for things from life and from the people I encounter because you know what? Ninety-five percent of the time the answer is yes when you ask for things but when you don’t ask, the answer is no 100 percent of the time.

Whitney, My Love — Judith McNaught. This book was recommended to me by my dear friend Deanna. She loved it so much, I had to read it and since it was historical fiction it was right up my alley.  I was blown away by the main characters because the interaction between Whitney and Clayton was so dynamic and their conversations were so humorous, I was literally laughing out loud when I was reading it. Reading that, I knew I had found my style. I wanted to write a novel about a serious topic but infuse it with humor because isn’t that how life is? We need to find something to laugh or smile about, even during our darkest hours.

The Greatest Salesman in the World — Og Mandino. I fell in love with this book after meeting Og Mandino in person at a conference for a company I worked for in the late 90s (here’s a shout out to all my fellow TPN folks, best television network ever, thanks to Jeff Olson and Eric Worre). Something that Mr. Mandino said on that stage all those years ago has stayed with me since. He said something to the effect of, you know how they tell you to live like it’s the last day of your life? How about living your life as though ever person you meet throughout the day, it was the last day of their life? If you were the last person they would ever encounter, what would you want that encounter to be like? Wow, that really makes you think. Several years later I had the experience where I met a young lady who worked for my friend’s husband and tragically just a few hours later she and her fiance were killed in a house fire. We had such a nice conversation I was glad to recall.

The Secret — Rhonda Byrne. If anyone had ever told me even five years ago that I would be studying the topic of quantum physics, I would have told them they were crazy. But this book is mind-blowing! We just watched the movie The Secret last night and it just reinforced how powerful this is. Here’s the scoop (but seriously, read the book or watch the movie).

  • The great secret of life is the law of attraction.
  • The law of attraction say like attracts like, so when you think a thought, you are also attracting like thoughts to you.
  • Thoughts are magnetic, and thoughts have a frequency. As you think thoughts, they are sent out into the universe, and they magnetically attract all like things that are on the same frequency. Everything sent out returns to the source — you.
  • You are like a human transmission tower, transmitting a frequency with your thoughts. If you want to change anything in your life, change the frequency by changing your thoughts.
  • Your current thoughts are creating your future life. What you think about the most or focus on the most will appear as your life.
  • Your thoughts become things.

There you have it! These books shaped my life. What books influenced your life? I’d love to see your list!