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Monday

His Eye Is On the Sparrow...

What are you struggling with today?

Are you wondering if you're ever going to get your edits done, ever find an agent, ever sign with a publisher, ever have a book, ever feel like an actual writer?

If you are, you're not alone. Let's be honest. We all feel that way. Right now I'm on the upward climb of the roller coaster that is the writing life... my story is buckled in and moving by the grace of God... yet I still find myself wondering, worrying about things. Trying my hardest to make every little thing turn out the way I think it should.

And then there's other stuff in life. Isn't it amazing how easily we let the things that matter to us slip out from the hand of God and into our own? Even the little things. All sorts of problems and concerns and even exciting opportunities in life--when they matter enough to us, we feel like we have to hold on. But isn't that the most dangerous place of all for our dreams?

Earlier today I was singing this song because I love the chorus and its reworking of the old hymn. "I sing because I'm happy, and I sing because I'm free. His eye is on the sparrow. His eye is on the sparrow. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He's watching me."

If you've read even three sentences of my blog, you probably know I love birds (all animals, really). So this chorus resonates with me. But then, as I was singing it, I came to this realization I've never really had before about the story. Yes, God cares about the literal sparrows. And yes, that means God cares about me. Just like the verses say. But there's so much more to it than that. The sparrows are also all those things in life, little and big, that we think escape the eye of God when really, He's seen them all along.

Hope you like this song and that you're encouraged by it today. Because His eye is on your sparrows, and He does care about you.

Friday

Fiction Friday

And the winner of this month's Fiction Friday prize is . . .

Cheryl Eklund!

Congratulations, Cheryl! Your entry was great. Hope you enjoy the earrings! :)

Everyone, be sure you tune in to next month's Fiction Friday posts for a chance to win a handmade prize. For the month of February, we'll focus on hooks!

Wednesday

Old Eyeshadow Into New Nail Polish? Yes, Please!



So, I saw this DIY idea posted on Pinterest, and I had to try it out. To my surprise, it actually worked! What a great way to make use of the 73 old, crushed, or odd-colored eyeshadows we all have lying around the house. What, you don't have 73 eyeshadows lying around? Okay, but I bet you have at least one. So here's the skinny:

You'll need some clear (or clearish--I used glitter) nail polish, some old eyeshadow, and something to crumple the eyeshadow with if it isn't already broken (I used the end of one of my Bare Minerals brushes).

So, I found some ubergorgeous old eyeshadow from back when Bath and Body Works actually sold makeup. Anyone remember that? Yes, I probably shouldn't still own any beauty product over 10 years old. But moving past that, I've always loved the color of this eyeshadow, so I chose it for my project. It wasn't crumpled or crushed, so I took the end of one of my brushes to it until it got powdery.

Then I used some clear glittery nail polish, dipped it in the eyeshadow dust, and used it as regular polish! Whala!

Now, it would probably been easier had I been more willing to commit to one shadow and one nail polish color, because I could've actually mixed them prior to mixing them on my nail, but the way I did it worked just fine. Just be aware that if you dip the nail polish wand into the powder, you will have to brush your nail a few times to disperse the powder so it isn't clumpy.

Another thing to keep in mind is that my attempt turned out having a nice sheen to it like regular polish would because I used glitter polish. Depending on which kind of eyeshadow you use and which polish (for instance, clear polish), you can also get a matte effect going if you like.

Let me know if this works for you, and enjoy going through your I-haven't-opened-this-in-five-years makeup drawers! :)


Tuesday

Laugh for the Day

I found this on Pinterest and couldn't resist sharing. Hope this brightens your day!

Source: piccsy.com via Jessi on Pinterest

Monday

Establishing Your Voice


At some point along the writing journey, if you're really going to be serious about writing, you must love words. It's the decision between which words you like and which you hate and which you love that establishes your voice.

As a fiction writer in particular, you'll need to have a brand. Think of your favorite authors. Compare Colleen Coble, for instance, to Ted Dekker and James Scott Bell and Denise Hunter. What differences come to mind? Those differences are what differentiates each writer's voice from other writers' voices. Sometimes it's not easy to put your finger on what makes one person's voice different from another's. That's why I did this vblog to help you get a clearer idea what voice is. But for now, just think about the things that make writing sparkle: word choice, pacing, and rhythm, to name a few.

Let's say I'm going to write a scene where the character walks down a street. Boorrrring, right? Well, take a look at what happens when you add the dynamic of voice to that same scene. Check out the variations.

Gulliver tugged on his leash toward the house, but Molly pulled back. She wasn't ready to see her sister again. Not now, not after what happened. Why did Kristine have to go out and buy the house down the street?

Glimmers of sunlight traced the outside of the bird's shadow as the mockingbird sang its early morning song. Molly took a step closer, pushing the emptiness that shadowed her soul deeper inside.

Molly was just going to get the mail when she saw it. She all-but jumped behind the shelter of the nearby oak tree, but it was useless. He had seen her. The murderer.

See how the base level of action is the same in all three of these examples? Molly is hanging out in the road. But see how that action is twisted by word choice, perspective and pacing to bring out a different result?

So how do you develop your voice? Well, start paying attention to things you like, for starters. Do you tend to analyze things and see deeper issues in everyday life? Then you may find you have an easy time imbedding metaphors in your writing. Are you a funny person? Try your hand at comedy. Do what works best for you, what comes naturally, until that gets even easier. When I first started writing, I tried too hard to be literary, and it showed. It wasn't until I began writing comedy that I came into my own with voice.

Another question to ask yourself is, "What do I want to write?" Stop thinking so much about what you think you should be writing or what you have experience writing or even what a contest judge might've suggested. Ask yourself what you like, what makes you feel most satisfied about your writing, and then write that.

God has given you interests and personality that is unique to you. Work with that, not against it.

Questions for comment: Have you struggled with finding your writing voice? What helps you hone it, and do you have any questions or advice for others looking to improve their voice too? How will establishing your voice now benefit your future readers?



Friday

Fiction Friday!


Happy Friday, everyone! Because the story's getting so long, I've decided that instead of adding onto our story myself this week, I'm just going to select a comment from last week and have you lovely readers add to it. Hope you're enjoying the story as much as I am! Don't forget to add your piece to the story for a chance to
win a pair of crystal earrings!

Jaime Rae watched as the ocean pulled back the tide, letting it reach further and further into the sand with each swell but never letting it drift too far.

If only her own life were that way.

But instead, her heart was breaking with regret as each wave rushed back into the depths of the ocean.

She crinkled her toes in the sand and looked off at the horizon as the setting sun colored the sky with brilliant shades of reds and oranges over a blanket of blue.

Just last night she was watching the sunset from a different perspective. She’d been just sure that little box peaking through his jacket pocket was ring-sized. Maybe not large enough for blue ribbon to be attached, but still. She’d happily make do with a strip mall jeweler. Heck, she’d be happy with a Cracker Jack prize.

My, how she’d been wrong.

And now she was sitting here wearing two different colors of flip flips and having only eaten popcorn all day. Dry popcorn. And that was saying a lot of her mental state, given her usual daily allowance of chocolate.

She wouldn't risk her heart again, she decided. It just wasn’t worth trying.

And that's when she saw him.

###

The perfect specimen of canine flesh. Her heart's desire - a miniature Australian Shepherd. She lifted her eyes to the magnificent creature's owner.

She sighed. George L. Peabody III. Why him?

She returned her gaze to the dog. Small, around fifteen pounds, and beautiful. A blue merle.

He hopped, skipped, and jumped around George's feet. His trimmed tail wagged in excitement as George spoke to him.

She looked up. "Hi, George. Who's this?"

"Lancaster. Lannie say hi to Jamie." The dog jumped in her lap and licked her face. "No, Lannie, down. I'm sorry, Jamie. He doesn't usually jump on people."

Jamie smiled and scratched Lannie behind the ears. "That's okay. At least someone likes me enough to greet me with enthusiasm."

"Something wrong?"

"Why would you think that?"

"Well, first your comment and I did notice that...um...your shoes don't match - like you were distracted when you came out here."

"Yeah, something's wrong, but I really don't want to talk about it."

George unfolded the towel he held beneath his arm and sat down on it. He pulled a chocolate candy bar from his pocket and handed it to her.

###

George had always been stubborn. Ever since their sixth grade prom, when she told him she didn't want to dance but he figured out the real problem: she didn't know how. Years ago, he used to tease Jamie that he'd deserve credit once she made it to Dancing with the Stars.

She took the chocolate from his outstretched hand and unwrapped the foil around it. There was something magical about Ghirardelli foil, something that chased away all the problems of the world. Well, almost all of them. She looked down at her mismatched flip flops and wiggled her toes. No use hiding them. He'd already noticed. Though, that wasn't all she'd hidden from him.

She cleared her throat. "How long have you had the dog?"

"Six months. He's still a puppy. Got him at the local animal shelter."

An animal shelter? For goodness' sake, did he really need to throw out that line? It was like he had no idea how smitten she was with him. How smitten she'd always been.

"It was that guy, wasn't it? What's the jerk's name, Tyler?"

Jamie sighed and scooped up a handful of sand, then watched it escape through the grip of her fingers. That was the funny thing about holding on too tight to things. You usually can't hold on at all.

She looked straight into George's eyes and shivered, whether from the coming night or the wind or something else entirely, she didn't know. "There's something I need to tell you, George. Something I should've told you long ago."

Lannie crawled up into Jamie's lap and rubbed his head against her arm.

George leaned back against the beach towel, resting his head on his hand. "I'm listening."

"I have a child."

###

George was stunned. Jamie's words echoed in his head and flooded his heart.

"A child?" he whispered, struggling to find his words.

Jamie stared off into the distance as the last fleck of gold sunlight disappeared into the ocean. Why had she told George about her precious daughter? It wasn't like she needed to be more vulnerable, especially now.

"A child," Jamie repeated. "And not the furry kind."

George let out a quiet chuckle. Jamie was right, though; Lannie was the closest thing he had to a child, and he couldn’t imagine it any other way at the young age of 24. He had so many dreams for himself, so many things he wanted to accomplish before settling down and having children...

A million questions raced around in his mind, but one question plagued him in particular.

"So...who’s the father?"

Wednesday

How to Make Fabric Flowers!

I was more than a little excited when I first saw these fabric flowers sprouting up (sorry--couldn't resist the pun). Feminine fabric, glitter, and beads? Sign me up! Little did I realize how easy they are to make. Today I'm going to do a tutorial so you can discover how fun they are yourself. But be forewarned... there's a good chance your house will be covered in these flowers in just a few days because once you start making them, you won't be able to stop!

Step One:
Choose the right fabric.
It's very important that you choose either satin or chiffon to work with. The way you'll get the crinkled edges for your flower is by actually melting the fabric. That said, certain fabrics (especially tougher fabrics, like most lace) will singe or even burn rather than giving you that pretty crinkle. Chiffon and satin both work nicely. Chiffon will crinkle more, whereas satin will give you a nice darkened edge. Satin also tends to make a more formal looking, less airy flower.


Step Two:
Cut out a circle.
Don't spend too much time worrying over this
step. Your circle doesn't need to be perfect; just freehand it with the scissors. In fact, rougher edges will give your flower more character.






Step Three:
CAREFULLY hold the fabric over a flame.
Some people like to use a lighter for this step,
but I like to use a candle because first off, it smells like apple pie (and who doesn't like that?) and second, there's less of a chance to catch yourself on fire. You still need to be careful though because--remember--the fabric is melting. This means your fingertips can get pretty hot. Be sure you never touch the flame to the fabric. If you do that, the fabric will catch on fire. Instead, hold the fabric an inch or two above the flame and keep it there until the flame crinkles the edges, then rotate the circle around until all edges are crinkled. Remember as you rotate that the crinkled fabric may still be hot. Also, there's an art to the crinkling effect. If you hold the fabric over the flame too long, the fire will burn a hole into your chiffon.

Step Four:
Repeat 3-6 times, depending on the desired thickness of your flower.
With chiffon flowers, I usually make about four to six of these "petals" because I like the way
they sit atop each other. You'll want to be sure you vary the sizes of these "petals" so that you get that flower effect and so they stack nicely. Each petal should be crinkled like the one at the right. Notice how the edges are darkened--the melted fabric will prevent fraying.



Step Five:
Either glue or sew your petals together. I also like to add a cute decoration to the middle of the flower, like a button, glitter, or beads. Now you're set! Your finished flower should look like the picture on the right.

For a pin:
Cut out a piece of felt smaller in size than the back of your flower, then glue the felt and the pin onto the flower.

For a headband:
Either use a pre-made headband and glue your flower on, or make a headband out of ribbon and a Goodie stretch band. (To do the latter, measure the size of your head, cut the ribbon accordingly, and sew the ribbon onto the ponytail holder to allow some stretch for the band.)

For a sweater embellishment:
Either sew directly onto a sweater, purse, t-shirt, or scarf, or make the flower into a pin for versatility.

Step Six:
Enjoy your new fabric flowers! Try different colors, fabrics, buttons and sizes for all sorts of different looks!

Tuesday

SciendaQ E-zine Is Out!


Hey everyone! Hope you all enjoyed Martin Luther King Day. I apologize for breaking self-imposed protocol by not posting yesterday, and I hope to make it up to you by offering you faithful blog followers a free copy of the e-zine I'm featured in, SciendaQ! The issue already has a couple favorable reviews on Smashwords. You have until the end of the month to use this free code, so listen up, or you'll end up paying a buck. And let's face it, a buck can go a long way these days. Been to the dollar section of Target lately? Two words: Reeses pieces.

First off, you'll want to go to the following website: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/117438

Then, you'll want to use the following promo code to snag your free copy: LM52Z

Happy reading!

Friday

Fiction Friday


Wow, I'm so impressed by your entries last week! They were all very interesting, but in the end, Ginger won me over with the dog and chocolate combination. What woman doesn't love a chocolate-carrying man with a cute dog? Can you say, "Hello, Prince Charming?"

I've added Ginger's addition to the story to my first entry, and also developed our story even further. Remember that at the end of the month, one of the entrants will win a prize, so comment often to better your chances of winning!

Remember to leave your addition to the story in the comments section, and please keep it around 100-200 words (as you all did so nicely last Friday). Thanks, y'all--have a great Friday!


Jaime Rae watched as the ocean pulled back the tide, letting it reach further and further into the sand with each swell but never letting it drift too far.
If only her own life were that way.
But instead, her heart was breaking with regret as each wave rushed back into the depths of the ocean.
She crinkled her toes in the sand and looked off at the horizon as the setting sun colored the sky with brilliant shades of reds and oranges over a blanket of blue.
Just last night she was watching the sunset from a different perspective. She’d been just sure that little box peaking through his jacket pocket was ring-sized. Maybe not large enough for blue ribbon to be attached, but still. She’d happily make do with a strip mall jeweler. Heck, she’d be happy with a Cracker Jack prize.
My, how she’d been wrong.
And now she was sitting here wearing two different colors of flip flips and having only eaten popcorn all day. Dry popcorn. And that was saying a lot of her mental state, given her usual daily allowance of chocolate.
She wouldn't risk her heart again, she decided. It just wasn’t worth trying.
And that's when she saw him.

###

The perfect specimen of canine flesh. Her heart's desire - a miniature Australian Shepherd. She lifted her eyes to the magnificent creature's owner.
She sighed. George L. Peabody III. Why him?
She returned her gaze to the dog. Small, around fifteen pounds, and beautiful. A blue merle.
He hopped, skipped, and jumped around George's feet. His trimmed tail wagged in excitement as George spoke to him.
She looked up. "Hi, George. Who's this?"
"Lancaster. Lannie say hi to Jamie." The dog jumped in her lap and licked her face. "No, Lannie, down. I'm sorry, Jamie. He doesn't usually jump on people."
Jamie smiled and scratched Lannie behind the ears. "That's okay. At least someone likes me enough to greet me with enthusiasm."
"Something wrong?"
"Why would you think that?"
"Well, first your comment and I did notice that...um...your shoes don't match - like you were distracted when you came out here."
"Yeah, something's wrong, but I really don't want to talk about it."
George unfolded the towel he held beneath his arm and sat down on it. He pulled a chocolate candy bar from his pocket and handed it to her.

###

George had always been stubborn. Ever since their sixth grade prom, when she told him she didn't want to dance but he figured out the real problem: she didn't know how. Years ago, he used to tease Jamie that he'd deserve credit once she made it to Dancing with the Stars.
She took the chocolate from his outstretched hand and unwrapped the foil around it. There was something magical about Ghirardelli foil, something that chased away all the problems of the world. Well, almost all of them. She looked down at her mismatched flip flops and wiggled her toes. No use hiding them. He'd already noticed. Though, that wasn't all she'd hidden from him.
She cleared her throat. "How long have you had the dog?"
"Six months. He's still a puppy. Got him at the local animal shelter."
An animal shelter? For goodness' sake, did he really need to throw out that line? It was like he had no idea how smitten she was with him. How smitten she'd always been.
"It was that guy, wasn't it? What's the jerk's name, Tyler?"
Jamie sighed and scooped up a handful of sand, then watched it escape through the grip of her fingers. That was the funny thing about holding on too tight to things. You usually can't hold on at all.
She looked straight into George's eyes and shivered, whether from the coming night or the wind or something else entirely, she didn't know. "There's something I need to tell you, George. Something I should've told you long ago."
Lannie crawled up into Jamie's lap and rubbed his head against her arm.
George leaned back against the beach towel, resting his head on his hand. "I'm listening."
"I have a child."

Wednesday

And the Winner Is...



Please commence a fingers-tapping-on-the-keyboard drumroll for this moment...

The winner of my first blog giveaway, a personalized copy of Christina Berry's award-winning book, The Familiar Stranger, is none other than Karin Beery!

Congratulations, Karen! Please e-mail me your address so I can send you the book.

Hope the rest of you are having a fabulous day!

Friday

Fiction Friday!


First off, EXCITING news! We just hit 50 blog followers, and you know what that means! I'll be giving away a personalized copy of Christina Berry's award-winning book, The Familiar Stranger. I'll announce the winner of that contest next week. But now for the main event, the first Fiction Friday posting! So grab a cup of tea and some cookies (or crumpets, if you're fancy) and take a seat in your favorite chair.

The way this will work is I've composed the beginning of a story for you and left it on a hook. What I want you to do, in 100-200 words, is write the next segment. I'll choose my favorite, then add to it next week, and so on, until the end of the month. Then, I'll pick my favorite story addition and send that person the earrings I made on Wednesday's vlog. Next month we'll start a whole new story. Got it?

So basically, add to the story for your chance to win a pair of earrings. Super cool, handmade earrings. With crystals.

Without further adieu....

Jaime Rae watched as the ocean pulled back the tide, letting it reach further and further into the sand with each swell but never letting it drift too far.
If only her own life were that way.
But instead, her heart was breaking with regret as each wave rushed back into the depths of the ocean.
She crinkled her toes in the sand and looked off at the horizon as the setting sun colored the sky with brilliant shades of reds and oranges over a blanket of blue.
Just last night she was watching the sunset from a different perspective. She’d been just sure that little box peaking through his jacket pocket was ring-sized. Maybe not a large for blue ribbon to be attached, but still. She’d happily make do with a strip mall jeweler. Heck, she’d be happy with a Cracker Jack prize.
My, how she’d been wrong.
And now she was sitting here wearing two different colors of flip flips and having only eaten popcorn all day. Dry popcorn. And that was saying a lot of her mental state, given her usual daily allowance of chocolate.
She wouldn't risk her heart again, she decided. It just wasn’t worth trying.
And that’s when she saw him.