Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wednesday Whimsy


Things That Bug Me . . . besides bugs
Bugs can be annoying, but I occasionally enjoy pawing at an ant . . . or a spider. I’m still trying to figure out their purpose. The ants got in this summer and invaded my food dish. Yuck! Mom had to move my food dish to the dining room table and I found the whole thing rather confusing.

Besides bugs . . . I hate it when my humans discover I am having fun. This usually involves them catching me playing shred the mouse with my fluffy-tailed Kickaroo toy. Or it could involve my stalking a crumpled piece of paper. They laugh at me! It’s so undignifying! (not sure that’s a word) Which reminds me, why don’t the cats on I Can Has Cheezburger use spell check? Or get a better editor?

I also DO NOT like being seen in my litter box. This is a strictly private matter, even if I do like to stick my paws under a closed bathroom door. The door doesn’t spring both ways. Cats need to know what their humans are up to at all times, so we can better control (I mean help) them.
What? My friend, the tiger, is sharing secrets.

Being the embodiment of ultimate cuteness has it’s downside. It’s so difficult to be taken seriously sometimes. What do your feline friends and canine companions find most annoying?


Today is your last chance to comment to enter this month’s drawing for a Barnes and Noble gift card.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday Motivation - - You're Not Alone


The Write Path: Reality Sets In
Well, the novice has taken those first steps down the writing path and the next thing they know, they’ve finished that article, short story or novel manuscript. After thumbing through the pages of a well-worn writer’s marketing guide, they decide the best place to send a query.

An intriguing letter or email has been written, carefully avoiding statements like ‘all my friends enjoyed reading this’, ‘God told me to write this story’ or ‘this story will be the best one you ever publish’. The now somewhat-learned-writer drops a stamped envelope in a mailbox or pushes the send button.

That’s when the symptoms begin. You know, the sweaty palms and dry mouth. She asks herself what she just did. Is what she just wrote ready to be published if the editor asks for it tomorrow? Surely it is the most wonderful thing she's ever written. Right. So the waiting game begins. She tries to forget about it and move onto the next project, to not run to the mailbox, rather than walk at her usual dignified pace, or search the email for at least a week for something from that editor. Okay, a month then.

After all, our just post neophyte writer is hoping the editor will love the piece they sent, that it will be like the overnight success story she heard the other day. They will beg her to send a proposal or full manuscript. Time passes . . . weeks turn into months. And one day a crisp white envelope from the publisher appears in the mailbox or the name she’s been waiting for pops out boldly in her inbox. The sweating palms return as she tears the envelope open . . . or pushes that button.
            
             Dear Ms. Neophyte:
            Thank you for your query. We regret to inform you that we can’t use
            your material at this time. Best wishes in finding the right home for your work.
            Sincerely,
            Biz E. Editor

The rejected writer instead reads:
            
             Dear Inexperienced and Untalented Writer:
            Why did you bother wasting our time (and yours) with this idea? 
            The back of your letter is being used for office tick-tack-toe, since it’s good
            for nothing else. Good luck finding someone to publish that detritus. Your
            idea stinks!
            Sincerely,
            I. M. Smarter

Congratulations! You’ve received your first rejection! Welcome to the world of the real writer!
To be continued: Just what should we do with rejection? 

Please leave a comment (or follow) to be placed in this month’s drawing for a $15 Barnes and Noble gift card.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Saturday Spiritual Uplift


A Debt Paid in Full
Mounting national debt. Over a trillion dollars worth owed to China. A slow-growing economy. Thirty years ago, who would have ever thought this could be possible in the U.S.? No, I’m not getting political here, only pointing out that as the national debt surpasses $17 trillion, the average citizen finds it hard to imagine how we will ever repay that debt--and downright depressing.

Numerous radio commercials and online ads will tell you the end of the world is coming . . . or practically. They say their book or CD has the answer to avoid the approaching economic cataclysm. You pay the author or speaker a small, reasonable amount and they’ll give you a foolproof method for becoming rich and avoiding tragedy. Really? Do you think any of those offers come with an ironclad guarantee? Absolutely not!

There’s only one debt ever paid in full with an eternal guarantee! As we went over this in Bible study on Thursday, I thought about how unlike the national debt, Jesus’ provision for His people is. Jesus’ death on the cross, as a perfect sacrifice for our sin, paid our debt in full! We only have to humble ourselves and realize there’s nothing we as humans can do to earn salvation for ourselves. Jesus sealed the deal by proving He could overcome death by His resurrection power.

Jesus would rather that none would perish. He would rather prepare a heavenly home for you to live with Him in eternity, because of His mercy and grace, rather than owe a debt you can't pay and be judged on that basis. However, you have to trust in Him and receive this gift. Unlike a credit card, His gift can’t be cut up. Unlike cash, it can never be devalued. But you can throw away the chance of a lifetime and eternity by not receiving this precious gift.

The thought that my sin has been forgiven and its debt settled for all eternity humbles me. That Jesus would love me before I loved Him and provide me with this security makes me very thankful for what I don't deserve. And yet, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to comprehend just how precious it really all is.

Romans 3:22-28 (NLT) tells us about our shortcomings and the hope we are given through Christ:

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.

(Image of U.S. currency in the public domain. Found at Wikimedia Commons.)




Wednesday, October 23, 2013

WEDNESDAY WHIMSY


The Advice Column

Mom was cleaning again, so I can’t find those books I wanted to finish reading. Where did she put them? However, in my piles of fan mail I sometimes receive questions from other cats and (gasp) dogs, parakeets or guinea pigs that need advice, so here is the first one I’ve chosen to answer.

Dear Miss Lilybits:
During my human’s mealtime, I try to let them know that I would like to partake of the goodies they are consuming, but to no avail. I do this by parading back and forth, letting out an attention-getting meow and by hopping up onto an empty chair and reaching onto the table for food. Usually they call me “mooch” and lock me in the laundry room. Why are my attempts at begging perceived as annoying? Signed, Mr. Whiskers


Dear Mr. Whiskers:
Get over yourself. I would think you’re annoying too. Not that I haven’t tried your tactics, but my humans have a squirt bottle filled with water and I have also been a victim of the laundry room treatment. Learned your lesson yet? Though I’m sure as a petite, svelte female, the cuteness factor works for me better, there are a few things you can do.

First, sit quietly and tilt your head just a bit, with your eyes wide open. (This even works for dogs I’ve heard.) You may let out an occasional cute sound to remind them you’re present. If this doesn’t work, the next step is to reach your paw out and gently, with claws retracted, pat your human’s leg, then resume the stance. If this repeated sweetness doesn’t at least work by the end of the meal, then you’re an embarrassment to domestic cats everywhere! Also, it’s not worth begging unless, meat, poultry, fish or dairy products are involved. Don’t bother to go out on a limb for veggies or fruit. Hope that helps. Signed, Lilybits, the tail-less wonder

Does your favorite pet have some additional advice for Mr. Whiskers? Or a question for Lilybits? Leave a comment and/or follow for a chance to win this month’s drawing for a $15 Barnes and Noble gift card. Thanks for stopping by Writing, Whimsy and Devotion today.

Image from ("The Book of the Cat" by Frances Simpson) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Book Launch - FIELDS OF THE FATHERLESS


Book Launch - Fields of the Fatherless by Elaine Marie Cooper

Today is the release date for Fields of the Fatherless, by my fellow
Novel PASTimes contributor, Elaine Cooper. Read more below
about the award winning author and her latest historical novel:


Novelist Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of The Road to Deer Run, The Promise of Deer Run and The Legacy of Deer Run. Her passions are her family, her faith in Christ and the history of the American Revolution, a frequent subject of her historical fiction. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her novels. Fields of the Fatherless releases October 2013. Visit her website at: http://www.elainemariecooper.com

ABOUT FIELDS OF THE FATHERLESS:

Sometimes the greatest stories of bravery and sacrifice are hidden from the history books. Sometimes those stories need to be told.

In the early months of 1775, war is brewing in the American colonies. Although frightened, eighteen-year-old Betsy Russell of Menotomy Village, Massachusetts, wants to be prepared in case of attack by the British troops.

Her father, prosperous farmer Jason, is the fourth generation of Russells on this land—yet their very rights as British Colonials are being stripped away one by one. Will the King of England take the Russells’ land as well?

Tensions are growing here in the countryside west of Boston and the outbreak of battle seems almost a certainty. Jason desperately wants to protect his family—his wife, children and grandchildren—and their future. Betsy makes every attempt to be prepared for the worst.

But not even the American militia could have predicted what was about to occur—right on the Russells’ doorstep. If Betsy loses everything she holds dear, are the rights of all the Colonists endangered? (Based on a true story.) 



What are others saying about Fields of the Fatherless:

This is more than a story of the tragedy of war; it is a story of faith, fortitude, and forgiveness. FIELDS OF THE FATHERLESS is both gritty and tender. I was intrigued by young Betsy Russell’s story, struck by its intensity, and found myself unable to put it down. This is not just a tale of loss and sorrow; it will also inspire and leave you feeling glad you read it.” — Janet Grunst


“Fields of the Fatherless is more than just a novel, it's a history book inside of a novel. It's engaging, inspiring, and educational… With all of its twists and turns and unforgettable characters, you will not be disappointed. I expected nothing less from this award-winning author, and she did not disappoint!"
   Author Jessica Zondervan

“Without the gruesome visual of battle depicted in Saving Private Ryan, Ms. Cooper gives just enough description to allow the reader to imagine on his own the ravages of war. Chilling in reality, Fields of the Fatherless precisely conveys the devastating effects of war on both sides and how, as humans, we must band together to protect what is most precious--life. As you cheer, weep, cringe, pray and even learn, you'll come away from this novel with the same feeling as I did--Wow!”     — Julie Lence


Fields of the Fatherless is an engaging fictionalized retelling of a true historical event. The author skillfully wove the facts together with her characters giving the story a richness many historical reenactments lack… We are given glimpse into the heart of man, the goodness and the ugliness on both sides of the battle. I've read many fictionalized biographies—and this one is right up there with the best. I highly recommend it.
                         — Author April McGowan


Monday, October 21, 2013

MONDAY MOTIVATION


On the Write Path

I hope you will pardon another play on the word “write”. These next few posts will break down different aspects of the writing journey and encourage you to know you’re not alone. You’re not the only one with delusions of publishing grandeur!

The novice begins their trip down the writing road with a light load, usually. The two things he packs are dreams and something to write with. You may start with a pen and a notebook. My writing professor in college encouraged us to use legal pads to write our first through third drafts, but that was back during the days of the typewriter. You might have been lucky enough to have a correction ribbon on your Smith Corona or your Royal. Since the dawn of word processing, the writer has more options. He can now write with a PC or laptop and still make corrections without having to type the whole document over.

However, the novice, often starry-eyed, may believe they are ready to pen or type that first draft of a fabulous piece of literature, which many agents and editors will be vying for the chance to read. Just try to hold back that bidding war over their one-of-a-kind novel, destined for the New York Times' bestseller list!

Others may be more realistic, setting their goals a little lower, hoping to see their name in bold font at the top of a few magazine articles. They’re just trying to get their name out into the sea we call the publishing world, while they build a portfolio.

The Christian novice writer has a whole other level of concern, because she wants to convey a message she feels the Lord has put on her heart, or help people understand biblical truths that are bursting to escape onto paper. It’s a joy for the novice to write the things they need to share, but is sometimes also difficult.

At some point novices may find themselves overwhelmed. At my first large Christian writer’s conference, in Wheaton, Illinois, I seemed to be surrounded by authors who seemed to know where they were going and what they were doing.  I felt like a fake. I found myself in Ken Wales’ class on story. Me? Really? How could little old me ever think of writing a screenplay? But the Lord gave me a gentle nudge, whispering messages of the need to trust and believe that He could use anyone He chose to do anything.

I still haven’t finished a longer screenplay, but I took away something more precious from that conference—the belief that the Lord could use my humble attempt at being a writer any way He chose. He had given the gift and desire. Was I willing to use it? 

Have you ever had a moment of clarity and guidance like that during your
journey down the write path?

Next Monday: The Reality Stage

Saturday, October 19, 2013

SATURDAY SPIRITUAL UPLIFT


 A Little Girl’s Prayer

When I was around 10 years old I was introduced to a gray tabby kitten. Its big green eyes, soft warm fur, affection and sweet playfulness charmed me. I went home to my parents and asked them to let me bring him home. I begged and begged, but to no avail. Mom and especially, Dad, figured that though I promised to take care of the cat, they would ultimately wind being responsible for it. Though I begged God to help me out at that point, the answer was still, “no”.

I’d had goldfish and gerbils, but I was growing up by myself, since my brother and sister were already out of the house. Having a cute little cat seemed like the perfect solution to the loneliness. As time passed, I took up residence at Michigan State University, eventually married and started a family.

My days were filled with caring for my sons as they grew, homemaking and eventually homeschooling. My desire for the little gray striped kitten was long forgotten, like a childhood book closed and shelved for many years. When the boys were still young, we went to look at a litter of kittens, but my husband wasn’t crazy about the idea.

When the youngest of my sons left for Army basic training, my days of being needed as a full time mother were officially over. I was used to having someone else around. Each morning I awoke to an empty, silent house. Even after I had returned to school, I felt isolated. Looking for a job turned up dead ends and my time volunteering at Bible study only filled so much of my time. Even Jack said the house seemed as quiet as a tomb.

My sister had a cat named Tigger, a sleek and handsome gray tabby, who would sit near me when I visited. He evoked the memory of the kitten I had once wanted so badly. However, I had married a man who once had an allergic reaction to cats. Jack had grown up with dogs and I was almost sure he was an official card carrying member of “The Cat Haters Society”. It seemed I was doomed to a cat-less life. Two cat lovers who are dear to me insisted that I needed one to keep me company and help fill the maternal void.

I had secretly prayed on and off that some forlorn little feline would appear at our patio door and I could convince Jack that God had sent us a cat. Finally, I appealed to Jack that I needed another living creature around during the day.

Being merciful, Jack approved and we went to Last Chance Rescue, where I asked for a lap cat. The rescue worker pointed out a little gray cat with black and brown stripes. We took her into a sheltered area to get acquainted. She stood on my lap and reached her front paws across to Jack’s. I knew I’d found the right kitty. My husband survived the two-week trial period and the petite cat, no bigger than a kitten and nearly as playful, had wriggled her way into our hearts.

Photo courtesy of my nephew, John Hensel
I named her Lily-bits, because she is just a little bit of a thing. She became my buddy, following me around much of the time and sitting on my lap when she deems necessary. That desire for a gray tabby kitten had been placed in my heart when I was only 10 years old. Thirty-eight years later God answered that prayer and a cat that needed a home was provided with one. It explains why Lily is so special to me, though she is only a pet.

The Lord’s timing isn’t always our timing. In fact, most often it’s not. Often the answer is “no” and we have to ask for the grace to accept that. But when a prayer is answered the way we hoped, we can be assured the Lord will make it worth our wait. He hears His children’s prayers and cares about the big and little things in our lives. He cared about this little girl’s prayer and He cares for you!

Answer my prayers, O Lord, for your unfailing love is wonderful. Take care of me, for your mercy is so plentiful (Psalm 69:16 NLT)

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. (Psalm 37:4 NLT)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

WEDNESDAY WHIMSY


Cat in Captivity

Today is around day number 1,700 of my captivity. I can’t understand why Mom won’t let me run around outside. She always mumbles something about my being too little and there’s a busy road behind us. The chipmunk likes to sit on the back step, outside the door wall and taunt me. And, how I would love to get a run at the birds in the birdfeeder! After all, I can jump pretty high.

Last time Mom took me outside on a nice day a couple of weeks ago, she thought I was playing under a chair, but it gave me just enough leverage to release myself from that harness contraption she keeps me in. I just wanted to eat some grass, stick my nose down the chipmunk’s hole and run around to the front door and see if she would panic and chase me.  Instead, she quietly came through the house to the front door and rattled my food dish. Alas, I was undone by my craving for tiny fish filets in gravy. Mom is wising up. She promised to start that grass planter she brought home from the pet supply store, but she has been procrastinating. That should give me the right to escape outside and nibble on some of the green delicacy.

Does she know how lucky she is to have such a beautiful cat? I suppose I have her and Dad pretty well trained these days. When I jump on the stool by the counter and fuss, she knows I want a treat. And if I whine enough, she might give me my canned food a little early. Also, when I walk into the hall to the laundry room, making distressed noises, she knows I want my litter box scooped. Who cares if she just did it a couple of hours ago? I am awfully cute. Wait a minute—somebody just said something about being annoying. Obviously, they weren’t talking about me.

It seems I will need a nap after all this writing. It’s tough to get enough beauty sleep around here. I have to decide which soft spot to nap in. There are so many. After I get some rest, I’ll finish reading another book. I hope you’ll come back next week to hear about it.  

Oh yeah, I almost forgot, if you leave a comment or follow
the blog, you'll be entered in this month's drawing for a
Barnes and Noble gift card. Thanks for stopping by today.



Monday, October 14, 2013

MONDAY MOTIVATION


Writing Muscles
Having a new bicycle that allows me to ride comfortably has been fun for me this last week. Since I just bought it on clearance, I have been taking advantage of the unseasonably warm October weather practically every day. On Saturday, my husband and I went on a bike trail and rode about 12 miles. Not having ridden more than a couple of miles for quite a while, muscles I forgot existed screamed at me, from my torso down through my shins afterward. At the same time, I feel better knowing that at least I am building back muscle and hopefully taking off inches. Well, I thought my jeans felt a little looser, but that could be wishful thinking.

How is exercise, or in this case riding a bike, like writing? Even if you haven’t written in awhile, you can pick up a pen or start tapping away on the keyboard and the lapsed writer often finds they will be pouring their heart out on the page or starting that story which has been rattling around in their head. It’s a freeing experience.

However, to become more skilled at writing, one has to practice. As you learn how to better develop character and plot, and complete your first, second or third novel, the process becomes easier, because it’s more familiar. It’s not that there aren’t difficulties to overcome along the way, but the more you write the more you learn.

When I first seriously started attempting full-length fiction writing, I was concerned whether writing was worth the time it took away from more important things, such as time with family. I was homeschooling my sons and that kept me busy. Writing was a luxury for me. My first completed novel manuscript, an angst-filled historical women’s fiction, wasn’t received by the publishing world with as much acclaim as I’d hoped. The pile of paper now sits in a dark file, where it shall remain. Did the fact that the story didn’t sell mean it was a waste of time?

No! That first completed manuscript was a huge learning experience, I learned much about writing, including the fact that I could finish writing a manuscript! The more I write, the more I learn. It’s important to keep writing. If you haven’t made time for writing lately, make that time today, even if it’s for 15 minutes. Often you’ll find that 15 minutes will turn into a half hour or more. You might just write gibberish to start, but that’s okay, you’re practicing.

And if you ask my hubby, he’ll tell you I need a little more practice with the bike riding. Ten miles into our ride on Saturday I put on the brakes too late, bumped the front tire on a park bench and took a tumble. Ouch! I have the skinned knee to prove it. Of course, I had to get back on that bike and ride back to where we parked the car. If you’re in a difficult spot in your writing, pick up that notebook and pen, and start writing again. It’s the only way to build your writing muscles!

What keeps you in the writing habit? Please leave a comment to be entered in this month’s drawing for a $15 Barnes and Noble gift card. Thank you for stopping by today. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

SATURDAY SPIRITUAL UPLIFT


Finding Time in His Word

About four years ago, we brought home a tiny gray tabby rescue cat that I named Lilybits. Having shared a home with two-dozen other cats, she was delighted to have the house to herself and starving for attention. She was the perfect remedy for the loneliness I felt in our empty nest.

Lily followed me everywhere like a puppy and she still greets us excitedly at the door when we come home. Most days I was at home with her and we were both quite content with the situation. But when I went back to school full time, Lily wasn’t too happy. At the end of the day, instead of hopping up on my lap, she would jump up on Jack’s lap and turn around to look at me as if to say, “Ha! You’ve been leaving me every day, so now I’m too busy for you.”

Well, yes, I am anthropomorphizing my cat, but don’t we all have moments we read into our pets or even other people’s actions or facial expressions, whose motives we don’t always know or understand? Perhaps I shouldn’t have felt slighted, but my feelings were hurt.

On Fridays, I am usually home and have a chance to play with Lily. She chases a red laser light dot Jack refers to as “redbug”. Or I may chase her while she runs to hide under the bed. But my favorite time is when I am sitting quietly, reading or writing, and Lilybits jumps up onto my lap.

For several months, while I was getting used to working outside the home and came home exhausted, I had been doing quick devotions in the evening. Without time for deeper study of the Bible I really missed hearing the Lord speak to me through His word. I finally decided that even 15 minutes in the Bible with the purpose of listening to what Jesus had for me was better than nothing at all. That first week, on Friday I had some extra time to dig into scripture.
Image of Gutenberg Bible from Wikimedia Commons and is
in the public domain.

As I sat with the Bible and a small notebook on my lap, Lilybits saw fit to make herself at home, curling up and snuggling down into my lap until she fell into a peaceful sleep for quite a long time. I thanked the Lord for the fact that my cat finally noticed me—the one who feeds her, fusses over her, plays with her and usually cleans the litter box. Then it suddenly occurred to me that maybe God, who gave His only Son for me, who cares for me every day and is no farther away than a prayer, probably sometimes feels like I do when Lily ignores me. He would be even happier that I was finally sitting still and spending time with Him. Though I can’t physically climb into his lap, He wants me to rest in Him. The depth of Jesus’ love for me is so much greater than the love I have for my cat or even my children. This definitely put things in perspective.

Was the Lord trying to tell me this all along? With mercy and love He can minister to me through the touch of six pounds of a furry gray creature with big green eyes. When I drive down the road behind our home and see the tree branches budding green I’m compelled at times to thank Him for the beauty of spring and how He keeps the times and seasons in motion. When friends or family members take the time to encourage me, He is reaching out to me through them. Always He is wooing me back.

Jesus is waiting for me. When He seems far away, I am the one who moved. He cannot be moved. He sends gentle nudges until His word calls to me and I know I must take time to be with Him. And again I start to read my Bible expectantly, asking for guidance and praying that I will know in my heart what He has especially for me that day. I don’t know how many times I will fail and have to start over again, but I know my Lord is the one who told the Samaritan woman at the well that He would give her living water which would forever quench her thirst. He has given me that water of eternal life and His Holy Spirit. And He is there for each one of His children—always.

. . . Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:39-42 NLT
. . . And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20 NLT
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 NLT

Dear Jesus, we thank you that you’ve called us to yourself. We long to draw closer. Please open the eyes and ears of our hearts. Show us in your word what you have for us that we may be more like you and work channels of your love and truth in this fallen world.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

WEDNESDAY WHIMSY




Some of Meow Favorite Reads
These are just a few of my (Lily’s) favorite books.

Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss is tops on my list. Guess why? Yes, you guessed it. The most important character is a mischievous feline, with his own pets, Thing 1 and Thing 2. He lets the kids know who is boss, too. He has cattitude! The brother and sister have fun with his antics. The fish that warns them, well, he’s as big a worry wart like Mom is here. No worries, the Cat in the Hat cleans up after himself and his friends. Only thing is, he looks awfully silly in a hat, bow-tie and gloves. Gloves? That couldbe a bit messy. I hope he takes them off when he uses the litter-box. 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is another favorite. The main character, Jo March, has a cat or two in her attic to keep her company when she writes. Her little sister, Beth, loves kittens! Besides, Mom really likes this story and relates to Jo wanting to be a writer.

Meow Mayhem by Lisa Lickel . . . just saying . . . the kitty on the cover is adorable and striped like . . . ahem . . . me. And it’s a nice cozy mystery with several cats in the mix and romance to boot.

By now you can see my theme. What are some of your favorite books with cats in them?

Please leave a comment to be entered in October's drawing
for a $15 Barnes and Noble card. Thanks for stopping by
Writing, Whimsy and Devotion today. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

MONDAY MOTIVATION


The Write Prompt

From last week’s writing prompt: the last car.

The last car I had was a green Aerostar. Call it the Mom-mobile or as we sometimes referred to the car as the green bomber, which we “bombed” around town in. It was my first vehicle with a cup holder, albeit, a not very good one. Any sharp turn would send a large cup careening onto the floor mat, invariable dousing all in its path with liquid contents. Not a good thing if it was pop or a mocha, more tolerable if it was just water. That minivan saw several trips up north and one trip east, including Gettysburg. It went from containing baby seats to carrying young men, who learned to drive behind its steering wheel.

When I use a writing prompt, I usually like to include as many senses as I possible, but the above piece turned into more of a quick visual history of what went on inside my last car. However, that’s the fun thing about writing prompts. You can interpret them any way you like! The last car could be the last car you drove in, rode in, the last one your grandma bought or the last car of a train, also known as a caboose. There isn’t necessarily a right way. The prompt is just there to get you going. 


I found an interesting post on the Tweetspeak blog, a resource for writers, which likened finding writing prompts to a method of reading and responding. Isn’t that essentially what we do as writers? As we read books or articles, we often think of what our response would be to the words we’ve just taken in. The world around us is filled with writing prompts as we take in sights, hear sounds, smell scents and odors or taste the savory and sweet. The prompts surround us. We just need to take the initiative and write about them!

What’s your favorite way to find writing prompts?

Leave a comment or follow this blog to be entered into this month’s drawing for a $15 Barnes and Noble gift card. Thank you for stopping by Writing, Whimsy and Devotion today.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

SATURDAY'S SPIRITUAL UPLIFT


True Colors Revealed

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven . . . a time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3-4)

Autumn is an interesting time of year. It’s a time of transition. Students and teachers are returning to their classrooms. Farmers and gardeners are harvesting the last of their crops. Homeowners are preparing their houses before the cold of winter descends. However, the hallmark of autumn, in regions where four distinct seasons occur, is the way deciduous trees burst into flames of color. Orange, yellow, golden and red leaves paint the horizon with their brilliant displays.

Did you know those hues are hidden underneath the green all spring and summer? Sunlight causes the leaves to produce chlorophyll, which helps to produce food for the trees and gives the leaves their green pigment. As the days grow shorter and there’s less sun, the amount of chlorophyll in the leaves reduces. As the green recedes, the vibrant pigments of the yellow to red spectrum appear.


While we rejoice when spring comes, bringing its verdant splendor, we can’t deny how autumn trees at their peak colors can cause us to catch our breath with its brief glory. I wonder, when I am under the strain of trials, like leaves losing their chlorophyll in the fall, is beauty revealed in my character? Will the Lord find in me a vibrant faith and trust in Him? Am I willing to offer a sacrifice of praise in the difficult times and thank Him in all things?

Honestly, He doesn’t always find that. Sometimes I feel more like the brown, crumpled and dried up leaf, clinging to the branch, because all I can do is hold onto Jesus and cry out to Him for help, tell Him how I'm hurting. My prayer is that as I pour out my heart to Him, even in times of sorrow and disappointment, Jesus will use these trials to help me change and grow, that I might shine for Him like a beautiful autumn leaf, dancing in the wind, while I’m still in this world.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. (James 1:2-4 NLT)

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(Above image of leaves from Wikimedia Commons by Symphony 999)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

WEDNESDAY WHIMSY


The Life of a Muse

Depending on the mood I am in, I like to inspire Mom by curling up on her lap and going to sleep for at least an hour. This way she feels obligated to stay still and if she has her other laptop on hand, she just has to write. Of course I am her favorite laptop. Hee hee.

The other way I inspire is by being cute. This involves just being myself. I purr, look up at Mom with my big green eyes and tilt my head just so. Sometimes I stretch or arch my back a certain way or push my head under her hand for a good head scratching. How does this work? By showing off my cuteness, I inspire Mom to think of beauty and give her the desire to create beautiful things with words.

It’s not easy being a muse of sorts. It takes a long time to purr-fect just the right look, or the way I stretch out one of legs and lick my paws or act cute by wriggling on my back, half curled on the floor. That’s a difficult one.

Concerned that she is sitting too much lately, I occasionally get Mom to chase me for a good work out. Whether I am just being cute and want to play hide and seek in the house, or I dash outside, when the door is open a crack, to upset her, I get her heart pumping and more blood to the brain, so she can think more clearly and write even better.

Of course there are the ideas I plant in her mind, such as an entire series of novels with a mindreading cat as the main character. She just hasn’t taken me up on that one yet.

How is your feline friend or canine companion your muse? Leave a comment or follow this blog for a chance to win this month’s give away of a $15 Barnes and Noble gift card.