Thursday, June 30, 2011

I'm back!

Whew! I'm back. Bet you didn't know I was gone, but I was. My computer was down for several days, while we feared a hard drive crash. Turned out to be the power supply, so I'm back in business.

I had a laptop without internet connection to write on for the past few days, and while I don't care for laptops in general, I did manage to keep working on Jesse through this 'traumatic' stretch.

During this time I discovered my brother shares my dislike for laptops. We are desktop users. Laptops are for when you can't travel without a computer, and they're good to have around for back up in case something goes awry with the desktop, as happened to me this week. Though what really saved the day (and week) for me was my thumb drive, which I'd had the good sense to keep backed up with all the uber important working files.

Any other desktop users still out there? By choice, I mean. :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saturday Snippet

I'm thinking on the weekend I'll start posting a favorite snip from my week's work. It might be from new material in the WIP, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, or something I've gone over editing from Kindred or The Quiet in the Land. I'll be careful not to include any major plot spoilers.

Today's snippet is from a section I've just edited to pass along to my crit partner.

From The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn
Chapter 7
Copyright 2011 Lori Benton


Down in the draw the creek rushed over rocks. A breeze threshed the trees, in the swaying blackness above the firelight's reach. In scant grass nearby, Mr. Bird’s horse grazed. With the cloak around her, a roof of pine boughs to shelter her, a crackling fire to warm her, Tamsen felt remarkably snug. The ache of grief still weighed heavy, but something like peace had settled over her with the release of tears. While Mr. Bird had worked on the shelter, she’d gone down to the creek to rinse her filthy petticoat and bodice, and come up the draw again in time to see the clouds part and the sun setting behind ribbons of dusk-purpled ridges, in a glory that made her stand and drink it in.
Now the sky loomed black, with stars spread in a glittering net that showed in patches between the trees.
Whither shall I flee from thy presence?” she whispered, breathing in the tang of pine and rain-soaked leaves. “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there.”
Above creek and wind and flame, Mr. Bird’s voice rose. “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
Tamsen looked at her guide, surprised he'd recognized the scripture, much less could quote it too. He sat cross-legged, his rifle by his knee, looking back at her with such quiet intensity she couldn’t hold his amber gaze, or her tongue. “Do you mean to answer my question?”
“What question was that?”
“Why aren’t you sure, about being white?”
She felt his stare a moment longer before he said, “I’m as much Indian as Cade is, never mind my skin’s not brown.”
Tamsen looked up to see him holding a hand toward the flames, staring at the back of it.
“Not as brown, anyway.”
His mouth tilted in a crooked smile, as though he took pleasure in teasing her with these mystifying statements. “I don’t understand,” she said. 
So he proceeded to enlighten her. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

S-L-O-W (writer at play)

I was thinking this morning about writing a post acknowledging the fact that things have seemed to move very slowly for me during the past year+ since I've had my wonderful agent, Wendy, shopping two of my novels around to publishers. No slower than they were moving before, mind. Just a little slower than I'd expected things to move at this stage.

THIS IS NOT A BAD THING!

While naturally I have moments of mild impatience, and a burning curiosity for an inside glimpse at what's transpiring on the other side of my agent's desk and phone (the publisher side), for the most part I've learned to be content with the waiting, trusting there is a reason for it, and a good one. I keep taking those pesky impatient thoughts captive, and reaffirming my trust in God's timing, while I work hard daily to make the book I'm writing the best it can be.

Still, there's no denying this process, for most writers, is slow. Instead of sharing my newbie perspective on that slowness, I'm going to direct you to a thorough and enlightening post on the subject from agent Rachelle Gardner.



Some positive aspects to this slow pace of publishing, personal to me:

1. I get to spend more time making the novels I write the best they can be.
2. I do not yet have the stress of a deadline.
3. I've learned to count each day I have to write without distraction as a gift, and precious. It's a mindset I'm grateful to have gained on this side of the door marked CONTRACT. 
4. I don't always deal with sudden life changes well. Even good ones. Having them come at me this slowly is actually quite comforting. 
5. I'm learning to trust God's timing and plan for me in ways I never would have had I been published 15 years ago. Even five years ago.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Taking every thought captive

My writing journey has been a long one. Most who know me know that. There have been times I've felt very close to being published, times I felt light years from any such thing. Times when writing was a joy, times when it was utter frustration.

Times when I perservered. Times when I didn't. The best of times, the worst of... you get the picture.

I want to share something I've learned through the past twenty years of writing and, for much of that time, working toward seeing my writing published one day. And that's how to deal with the doubts, frustrations, anxieties, uncertainties, rejections, and plain ol' negative thinking patterns that are particularly part and parcel of this writing life. Or any life given over to pouring oneself out creatively.

It's about taking every thought captive.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

Maybe it's easy to agree that taking those negative thoughts captive is a good thing to do. A healthy thing. A necessary thing for soul-peace in the long term, and to be certain we aren't straying over into damaging and self-defeating patterns of thinking and behavior.

But what does it look like practically, this taking thoughts captive? 

Taking thoughts of doubt, fear, or anxiety captive doesn't mean I exert my will over them. It means I surrender them to God's will. It means I strive to live in an attitude of prayer, because those thoughts bombard me often, and most often without warning.

When they do, I'm teaching myself to take them straight to Him in prayer. Lay them out. Be honest. And reaffirm that He's the one, ultimately, in control of what happens to my writing, and to me, the writer. Reaffirm, with words spoken out loud, lips moving (as my pastor likes to say), that His will, whatever it turns out to be, will be the best for me. Better than what I think is best, in my limited view from this side of any given choice. He loves me. He gave Jesus to die for me. He is a good shepherd. I can trust Him with whether or not any story of mine is ever published, and if it is, then on down the line through every uncertainty that lies along that path.

I can trust Him and His good plans. I can rest in that. There's no need to spend days or even hours fretting over a disappointment, or worried about a decision I know is being made about one of my books--maybe right this very minute--as I wait, and wait, and wait some more.

But still those thoughts come like fiery darts. When they do, and I catch myself getting tense and worried about some part of this writing journey that's out of my control (and even some that aren't!), and rolling those jagged-edged thoughts round and round my head like stones in a polisher that just won't smooth over, I have a choice to make. I can either...

1. Start talking to the Lord about them, reminding myself of His good plans, His perfect foresight, His perfect timing and situation for my books, for me, for any ministry that might come of them. Or I can....

2. Go on fretting. Perhaps whine to a friend, or to my husband. Or fret myself into a migraine and probably a stomach ache too.

It's my choice. Over and over. Hour after hour.

Some days it's minute after minute! But His promises hold true. They're there for the believing, as often as necessary. I'm so thankful for that!

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJ)

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 (NKJ)

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8 (NKJ)

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

WIP

I'm playing around with my blog design this week. What do you think of this present incarnation? Too busy?

I've found I really really like brown and green. :)

Edited to add: I removed the background photo and opted for gray. Hmmm.... better? Not sure. It's still a Work In Progress.

Edited again to add: Amazing what you can learn if you just click on the Help link and read the instructions. Not limited to the basic photo or a solid color for a background now. Textured backgrounds! Endless photo options! Oh, the possibilities! 

Monday, June 06, 2011

Video Blogging


LIKE! 

Don't miss this thought provoking first video blog post by Bonnie Grove, and the discussion that follows.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Flintlocks: How They Work

If you stop me on the street and ask me what a frizzen is, I can tell you.

For the past two days I've been working on a scene in which a character of the 18th century who has never fired a gun before needs to learn to fire a flintlock pistol (not a rifle; those things are big and heavy and she's a small woman, and can't lift one and hold it steady enough to hit a target).

How I've written so many scenes in which characters draw, brandish, fire, and feed their families with flintlock rifles or muskets and never known exactly how the mechanics of said firearms work is beyond me. But I've got it now. Thanks to this site:

How Stuff Works: Flintlocks 

So in case you ever need to know, there you go. There are video clips provided of the firing mechanisms at work.

Click here to see and hear the action of the frizzen.

Click here to see and hear the action of the hammer.

Click here to see and hear the gun fire.


Research is such a kick. So are flintlocks. So keep those pistols steady, and those rifles braced tight to your shoulder!

 

Revolutionary War era flintlock pistol 
~ photo by Rama, via Wikimedia Commons