Friday, March 25, 2011

Snowy morning

Spring is supposedly just around the corner. I'm not sure I buy it. This was my back yard this morning. Judging from the blanket of snow and the coating of frost, I'm guessing Minot didn't get the memo.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why Romance?

     When I first tell someone that I am a writer, the reply is invariable. "What do you write?" My answer, Contemporary Romance, gets a variety of responses, but perhaps most comon is "Why Romance?" Today, I figured I'd try to get to the bottom of that tricky question.

     First and most obviously, I like it. I am a girl after all. Not that being a girl means you must like romance. (I threw this in here just for you, Cindy :)) But I'm the girly-girl type of girl. Okay, I admit it. I hate getting dirt under my fingernails. Monster truck rallies do not excite me. My hair changes color on a quarterly basis. I would love the excuse to shop for an evening gown.

     That being said, I'm deffinately not totally helpless. I hang my own pictures. I can put together a shelf without a man's help. I'm not afraid to make the 11 hour drive back "home" to Minnesota in the driver's seat. And I will kill a bug (if there is no one to hear me scream).

     Part of being a girly-girl is a lingering love for fairy tales. Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel (or Tangled-really cute!) I love the idea of being taken care of and being vitally important to someone else. I love the idea of being chosen. I love creating characters that fit together and ballance eachother out. I love the unique relationship development of a romance. 

     Romance appeals to me for another, perhaps more important reason. The romantic relationship has the potantial to display attributes of God's character that do not present themselves in other human relationships. Let's look at the development of a romantic realtionship and observe the similarities.

    Attraction: A good hero is attractive. He may or may not be handsome, but he always posses qualities that make us want to get to know him and draw closer to him.

     Wooing: The hero may give the heroine gifts, listen to her, affirm her with his words, spend time with her, do things for her, and innocently touch her, etc. He is willing to pursue her because, in his eyes, she is worth the effort.

     Love: We want to see our hero and heroine fall in love. Love always requires vulnerablity and trust. The characters can get hurt by offering these valuable gifts to the wrong person. Once they have found the right person to bestow their vulnerability and trust upon, they seek an unconditional love. Often a heroine will discover that she is a better person because of the hero.

     Battle: Every good story has to have confilct. After the hero and heroine are in love, there has to be a test. We hope that the hero is willing to fight for the heroine. A battle often means casualites and sacrifice. What is the hero willing to give up to win the heroine? What is she willing to give up the make room in her life/heart for him? When the battle is won, the relationship has endured. It will be stronger for the challenge.

     Committment:  It's time for permenance and promises. They are eacother's chosen one. This is often a time of perperation for the wedding. The bride readies herself for the wedding. She works to make herself beautiful for her groom. (the diets, the hot oil treatments, the facials, the waxing ...) She picks out a white dress. She sends out invitations and tells the world about her love for her groom. Meanwhile the groom is working to extablish a home and provisions for his bride. He wants to take care of her.

      Intamacy: When the relationship has been proven and a committment has been made, the couple will have oppertunities to take their relationship deeper. I'm talking about emotional intamacy, not physical. The couple will reveal their greatest hopes and dreams. They will seek support for their challenges and pains. They may get to know eachother's friends. An adjustment takes place in their lives (how they spend their time, who they interact with, what they choose to do with their money, how they relate to thers, etc.).  These changes reflect the effect of the relationship. 

     Hopefully you can see some of the similiarities between a romance and the relationship God seeks with us. His attributes are attractive.We are designed to want him. He woos us through the love letter of His Word and his gifts and blessings to us. He wants to spend time with us. He will listen to us and answer our prayers. He loves us and desires our love in return. God will fight for us. He made the ultimate sacrifice to provide a way for us to be together. Are we willing to sacrifice the distractions in our lives to make Him our priority? When we committ to God we are blessed with his love far beyond "till death do us part", On the contrary, death will not "do us part". As His bride we should be keeping our hearts pure, telling others, and making ourselves beautiful to Him by following the example of Christ. We are his chosen ones. He didn't have to give us free will. He did it because He wants to be our chosen one as well. He wants to take care of us. We can never know God enough. Even as we live out our committment, we can continue to take the next step of intamacy with God. The deeper in love we are, the more our lives will reflect our relationship with Him.

     Why romance? Because God is my hero and I want to fall in love with Him over and over. I only hope that I will become a clearer reflection of Him through each new story.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lie vs. Truth

     One of the layering pieces that I have learned to incorporate into my work from My Book Therapy is the lie journey. This is the spiritual journey a character takes through out the book that begins with a lie they believe and ends with the truth setting them free.

     One lie that I find myself believing is that my efforts can't really make an impact. Unless I write some earth shattering epic that will go down in history, that movie studios will spend millions to turn into a blockbuster and professors will refer to in their philosophy classes, then I can't really make a difference. Early on in my writing journey, someone told me that my writing was a self-indulgent, frivolous waste of time. These lies made me ashamed of my craft for many years. I was a closet writer. I seldom let people in on my little secret.

     God has been working in my heart to dispel this myth through His word, encouragers in my life, and a community of writer friends that affirm the pursuit, but today I came across this post on the MBT Ponders blog. It embodies the truth that sets me free from my lie. I love the wonderful picture of Christ and the practical application for us writers who strive to follow His example. Follow this link to discover how Christ used stories to share his message.
The MBT Ponderers: The Ultimate Storyteller

     Today I proudly follow a rich tradition of sharing Christ's message of hope through stories.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Mentor and a Map

     Last fall, shortly after my husband began his job in North Dakota, I had the privilege of getting to know award winning, bestselling author Susan May Warren at an Alliance Women’s retreat. What an incredible answer to prayer that divine appointment was!

     Suzie introduced me to My Book Therapy, her story crafting service designed to help writers develop their craft. She teaches a series of retreats that take writers through the novel crafting journey step by step from idea to sale. She pulled some strings to get me into a sold out Story Crafters Retreat (the first in the retreat series) just a few weeks later.

     At story crafters I learned all about structure (definitely my weak point). In February I was able to attend the Deep Thinkers retreat to learn more about word smithing and adding layers to the plotting structure. I learned so much! My writing will be forever chaged! By September when I’ll attend a pitching seminar before the ACFW conference, I should have my current work in progress (WIP) ready to pitch to agents and editors.
     God gave me the passion and the stories, but Susan May Warren taught me how to write. I would recomend My book Therapy to anyone who has any interest in novel length fiction. Suzie’s teaching transformed me from a hobby writer to a marketable author (I hope :). So thank you to Susie, Rachel and all the My Book Therapy voices. When I met all of you, it was like someone was speaking my language for the first time ever. My Book Therapy is the best thing that's has happened to my writing since God first breathed life into my passion!

     Check out My Book Therapy at for a complete list of services including a Book Therapy fiction editing service, retreats, a writers' forum, and many other amazingly helpful resources that will exponentially improve your craft!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Winding Road

     The stories kept coming. And I kept writing them down. But I didn’t know what to do with them. God sent a much-needed friend to encourage me and walk along side me through my journey.

     With April's encouragement, I queried a few publishers for The Key to My Heart. I even had a couple requests for the full manuscript. But after all the rejection letters, I decided to change my approach. One piece of advice I gleaned from my research on the publishing industry was that you have to be published to get published.
     So I changed my major from elementary education to communication. Through a campus job as a press writer I got my first few bylines. It was a start.
     After graduation, I was hired as a staff writer of a local newspaper. I also worked in the office doing composition, layout and graphic arts. The job helped me hone my writing skill and afforded me bylines in several area papers (as some articles would be shared with papers from around the area).
     Last year (2010), our family relocated from the Twin Cities area of Minnesota to Minot, North Dakota where my husband found a job driving truck on the oil field. I finally had the chance to focus on my creative writing, but I still didn't have the skills to polish my novels to a marketable quality.

     I began praying that God would show me the next step.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Story and a Promise

     A story took root that very moment and became the story of my heart. I sat down at my computer and began typing. I typed every spare moment for four months.

     Through the process of writing The Key to My Heart, God worked miracles in my life. He set me free from the chains of depression and renewed my love for my husband. He rekindled within me a long neglected hobby that burst into a burning passion. And, although I didn’t realize it at the time, God gave me a promise that He would transform my husband into a man of God. I saw that promise fulfilled a few years later. Praise God!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Black Moment and Epiphany

     I met my husband when I was 18. We were young and impulsive and got married too fast. My new husband wasn’t all that enthused about my acting dreams and moving to New York wasn’t on his agenda. I had a baby, then another.

     Between all the bitterness I was harboring about my surrendered dreams and the post-partum hormones, I went into a downward spiral. Dark depression held me captive for several months. Although I loved my baby girls, I had lost my zeal for life.

     The turning point came when I hit rock bottom. Finally I turned to God and cried out for help. I thought that my only talent, my only outlet to serve God, had been stolen away from me. I didn’t think I had anything to offer Him, anything He could use. And he answered me in a way I never expected. God said, "I’ll use your daydreams if you’ll let me. Just write your stories down."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Bunny Trail

     After I got that novel out of my system, I set my writing aside and didn’t give it another thought for several years. My daydreams found an outlet in theater.

     I participated in about 15 plays, joined a drama troupe, worked with puppets and traveled to Europe in my acting days. I took getting into character very seriously.

     Developing a character for theater wasn’t all that different than developing a character for a story. I wrote them all back stories and focused on creating powerful motivations and stakes to move the character on her journey.

     Theater became my passion. It made me feel like I was a part of something larger than myself. There was always a camaraderie among the cast that I couldn’t seem to find in my regular life.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The dawn of the daydreamer’s journey

     I started my writing journey when I was 15, but it really all began long before that. As early as I can remember, I lived in story world through my daydreams.

     The Laura Ingalls Wilder books hooked me on reading in my pre-teens and planted the seed of a writer's dream in my head. Before Laura, I had never really given much thought to where the stories came from. I felt like I knew Laura. Part of me began to think, maybe if she could do it, so could I.

     After Laura Ingalls, I began reading inspirational romance. For years I devoured every Christian romance I could get my hands on.

     Eventually I got board with the material available and my daydreams began to take the shape of unwritten novels. Finally, I picked up a pencil and notebook and spent every moment of my free time for several months hand-writing my first novel.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

North Dakota Girl

     I'm from North Dakota, where cowboy boots and blue jeans always fit the dress code and size two girls blow away in the first strong gust of wind. The snow, ice and sub-zero wind chills might drive away all but the hearty-most souls, but if you can withstand the weather, Minot does have its charms. The landscape is beautiful. The stereotype of flat land doesn't prove true up here. We have scenic rolling hills, prolific wildlife and fascinating oil rigs. The people are friendly too.
     Okay, enough with the optimism. Honestly, if I can't be close to family, I’d rather live where the temperature can reach 85 in the dead of winter, but this is where I’ve been planted. I can pout and wither, or praise God and bear fruit. I choose to flourish.
     A little about me: Last fall, when my family moved to North Dakota, my wonderfully supportive husband offered me the opportunity to stay home full time. What a blessing it is to have time with my kids and time to devote to my writing every day. Formerly, I spent a few years as a newspaper reporter. My work was published in several Minnesota newspapers. While in college, I also had a few articles published in magazines. Currently I'm working on polishing my novels and pursuing publication. My husband, Dave, and I have been married for almost 12 years. We have three wonderful daughters. I love God and do my best to serve Him with what I have been given. I'm involved several ministries at our church including music, drama, AWANA and women's ministries.    
     Growing up, I was a pastor’s daughter and the oldest of four siblings. I had one of those really great jumped-out-of-a-fifties-TV-show kind of families. My family (Dad, Mom, two brothers and a sister) moved from South Dakota to Minnesota when I was 13. We skipped from town to town in both states several times. I attended 7 schools before I graduated high school. I received an AA in general studies, a BA in Biblical Studies and a BA in Communication from Crown College in St. Bonifacius MN.