Category Archives: Uncategorized

My Smallish Journey

Let me take you on a smallish journey.

 

“Write a book,” they said.

 

“It’ll be easy,” they said.

 

Crazy thing is, that “they” are right. It is simple to pull up a word processor and tippity-tap out sentences and ideas. I alone am the master of my domain, from sarcastic teenage responses to editing out cliché descriptions.

 

The part that “they” don’t know about is everything else. Writing articles, blog posts, and a book while working a full-time job, a weekend job, being a mom-taxi, Sunday School teacher, and fill-in-the-blank is draining. My writing suffers. And when my characters won’t behave in my mind and keep me up until midnight, tinkering with ideas, the other parts of my life demand coffee.

coffee

But…

 

That woe-is-me paragraph above is nothing compared to the feeling of finishing a chapter of the book I’m working on. Or the sentence that makes me cry while I’m writing it. Reading a critique from a partner that forces me to look at a section harder, to edit and be honest. I love writing bits that make me laugh, imagining Thing 1’s face because I borrowed directly from our conversations.

 

The thing is that writing is hard. There’s grammar, syntax, plot, blah, blah, blah. Edits and critiques that give me whiplash.

adore

I look at drivers in cars and wonder why he is staring into the distance. Or why the sad, deflated balloon landed against my fence. Did it blow down from a birthday party? A baby shower for a couple who finally is expecting after years of infertility? Was it released to remember someone’s dad, grandpa or sister?

 

This is why I love writing the stories in my head. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, I stay up way past my bedtime. But, if you happen to be up way past your bedtime, shoot me a message on FB. I may be up too.


Speling Rools

When I was in fourth grade, I entered into a spelling bee at the mall where both of my parents worked, while Dad was studying to become a pastor. We kids spent lots of time on both stories, down passages where Dad walked security checks and tottering on ice skates at the indoor rink. But this contest was my big day, because I was a great speller.

 

It was down to three of us. I can’t even tell you if the other two were a girl and a boy or a monkey and a horse, but I was first up in the round. My sisters and brother were there, standing to the right, with my parents. The judge gave me the word: chocolate.

 

And I biffed it. “C-O-C-O-L-A-T-E. Chocolate.”

 

Immediately, my sister Kate’s face told me it was wrong. She tried to cheer me up by giving me a way to remember how to spell it: “I always remember it as Cho Co Late.” I was so mad that she was telling me afterwards, when I didn’t need the advice. I’d already lost.

 

That silly spelling bee and loss thrust my brain into becoming a top-notch speller. I scoffed as a high schooler when I found a package of “encildadas” in the freezer that Mom had made. I even pointed it out to her, making sure to slowly say each syllable of “enchilada” to her.

 

When Thing 2 was a wee thing, she had a funny way of saying certain things. “I want to hold you,” meant that she wanted to be picked up. Until she was eight, she asked for han-gur-burs. She had no interest in reading, while Thing 1 took to books like a fish to water. Thing 2 didn’t want to read, didn’t want to write and just wanted to have friends. Well, I didn’t want to be the overbearing Mom, so we had her in reading programs. Surely, it would be fixed.

 

It wasn’t.

 

Thing 2 has dyslexia (just like my mom). I’m still learning how to teach her methods, along with her teachers, on how to learn to spell and read. She makes notes like this:

 

explain

BUT…God has given Thing 2 a gift. I may not understand why she cannot read and spell well, but I know that her heart is enormous:

 

dino

My lesson for the day? Don’t judge a person by their spelling or grammar rules. God has given them a different gift. Even Thomas Edison’s teacher told his mother that he was defective…and he was just dyslexic.


Another Random Filler…

23 Odd Things You Don’t Know About Me

1. Do you like blue cheese? Nasty. I don’t like any dressings.
2. Have you ever smoked? Unless you count living in an area normally surrounded by wildfires in the summer, no.
3. Do you own a gun? Well, I live in the country. There are critters. So, yes.
4. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Mocha almond fudge, closely followed by mint chocolate chip. Ice cream is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy.
5. Do you get nervous before Doctor visits? Not usually. Unless I know there is a needle coming.
6. What do you think of hot dogs? Only turkey or beef. And only if there’s no other option.
7. Favorite Movie? That’s not even a fair question. There are a top five and sometimes those change.
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Dumb question. Coffee.
9. Do you do push ups? If forced. And I struggle like a newborn kitten.
10. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry? My wedding ring set. Because saying my nose ring will just start the drama again.
11. Favorite hobby? Writing and reading. Shocking, right?
12. Do you have A.D.D.? It’s ADHD! (says the OCD).
13. What’s one thing you love about yourself? My nose ring. 🙂
14. What is your middle name? It’s royal sounding.
15. Name three thoughts at this moment? I need another cup of coffee. Coming up with blog posts during a busy week bites. Chocolate is good.
16. Name 3 drinks you drink regularly? Coffee, water, sweet tea.
17. Current worry? Hoping the black light volleyball tournament tonight is fun.
18. Current annoyance right now? Presidential debates. Make.Them.Stop.
19. Favorite place to be? Home, because I’m wild and crazy. Or the cabin or the beach (but not a crowded beach).
20. How do you ring in the New Year? Asleep, if possible.
21. Where would you like to go? Australia (again).
22. Name 2 people who will read this. Kristin and Rosemary.
23. Do you own slippers? A few pair. Don’t judge.
lizard-barbie-boots


Ten Things…

The day when you run out of ideas and know that you should post on your blog? Today is my day. So in honor of this moment, we will play the game I sometimes have to employ at the end of my Sunday School class–you know, when the service runs long and the children are hungry and antsy? They are allowed to ask me one question. Here are ten random facts about me:

 

  1. I have multiple Christmas trees in my home. Yup…one of “those” people. I even have multiple decorations in case I feel like changing the house from one year to the next. I’ve tried to donate/throw away some of my Christmas storage tubs, but I’m just not ready. Each year, I tell myself, “Next year.”
  2. Acting my age is overrated. As a high school senior, I was voted eternal freshman and I still strive to live up to the title. Just ask Thing 1 and she will roll her eyes in agreement. But, I love how old I am because there is wisdom in the years gained.
  3. I taught myself to snap with both hands because someone told me I couldn’t do it as a kid. And to punctuate my point, I learned to write with my left hand too, although I’m out of practice now.
  4. My favorite color is green.
  5. I live next door to my mom and dad. In the country. An few acres apart. More like kinda next door, with trees and bushes we planted so we aren’t staring into each others back yards. Because that would be plain weird.
  6. Teaching first through third grade Sunday School is magical to me. They come in barely able to scrawl their names on the paper and by the time they leave, they can help the littles and recite the ten commandments using signs. Also, they have active imaginations and ask me questions like: If you could have your hair be any color, what would it be? Silly kids, I’m blond on purpose.
  7. Pastor’s kid.Not the type from Footloose.
  8. I prefer cats over dogs. This doesn’t mean that I don’t like dogs. Currently, there are three canines in the Bennett house, outnumbering the two kitties. There is something about a cat’s attitude I like more. And, they are more self efficient. I could share stories about that, but it would probably cause gag reflexes.
  9. My favorite meal is homemade roasted turkey and mashed potatoes. No gravy. Ick.
  10. I wish I could wear contacts, but my eyes are shaped like a football.

 

There you have it. Ten useless bits of information. Anyone else stubborn enough to learn how to be ambidextrous?


There’s A Fly On My Windshield

My day zigged when I thought it should zag. That moment when you see the email of your dreams in the inbox and you know:

fangirl

One magical click later and it was all floating away, like an errant flip flop in the ocean waves.

cry

 

Then the next email hits and I’m so overwhelmed with happiness. You see, I’m headed into a new adventure as a film reviewer for PURSUE magazine! Happy dance! I’m so new that my bio isn’t even up yet. 🙂

 

real boy

 (I’m a real author…almost…)

Still, the ebb and flow of a single day is nothing new to me or you. Just wanted to toss out a word of encouragement to you, my reader; some days you’re the fly and then you’re the windshield, within thirty seconds of one another. This in no way means that I didn’t mourn a missed opportunity or have a moment of silence for a rejection. But I didn’t wallow in the self-doubt and pity (although it’s squishy and warm sometimes). It’s not the first nor the last rejection I’ll have.

 

Take a breath, thank God for the opportunity and move on. Learn, relearn and grow. Put yourself out on the line again.

 

Look at me, all preachy today. Excuse me while I fall off my soapbox.


When You’re a Loser

There was nothing phenomenal about Thing 1’s basketball season this year. In fact, my frustration rolled in waves as they lost game after game. Her team won exactly zero games this season. As a parent, I had to be her cheerleader, her example of how she should act. I failed.

Facepalm

Too often, my irritation got the best of me. It would do no one any good for me to rehash my reasons or explanations, my excuses, whether justified or not. But this is true—I certainly was not the godly model from Phillipians 4:8:

 

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

 

Ever mindful, I tied the losses to coined phrases like: “Sometimes you don’t win in life and you have to keep trying” or “Just because you lose, doesn’t mean that you stop trying.” Really…I was that cliché. Blech.

fail

When the painful season ended, we all heaved a sigh of relief. It was done. No more forty point losses. Thing 1 would try again with a local AU team. Maybe it would be less painful. Maybe not. Either way, we put the regular season behind us and moved on.

 

This morning, as I was headed out the door to drop off the spawn at school before heading to Mount Hermon, Hubs sent me a strange text:

 

“Have Thing 1 look at this link before you drop her off.”

 

Lo and behold, a little miracle for Thing 1. She was named to the All-League team. My heart squeezed when her eyes filled with tears—someone besides her family saw her efforts. Epic letdown, continual rejection, resulted in eventual triumph.

 

Her moment lit a fire within me, as I got on the road for this conference. Last year, I ended up with a monumental face palm. Then there were the rejections. But then there was learning and being honest with myself about this trip. Maybe it’ll be less painful. Maybe not. Either way, I’m sure God has an eventual plan for my writing. And that’s pretty exciting.


Everlark

In honor of the release of Mockingjay Part 2 to DVD and BluRay while I’m at Mount Hermon, I’m going to put up a post I forgot about back in November…

natural blue

So there I was…in line three hours before the Mockingjay Part 2 started. Ain’t no big thing for me. I don’t like arriving just before the movie starts. Something freaks me out about not having an entire theater to choose my seat(s). I was in good company; the eldest spawn of my friend conveniently has his birthday around this time of year. Last year, we were in line for Mockingjay1. Yes—we were three hours early. This time, the brood had expanded and included more adults and more younglings. Woohoo!!! The culmination of the Hunger Games franchise was here at last! Bring it.

Mockingjay Part 2

Don’t read past this point if you haven’t read the books or seen the movie. Because you’re about to be spoiled if you do. The low-downs: PG-13 for violence (gobs of it), and a run time of 137 minutes. But, ta-da, it includes the book’s epilogue!

 

Finally, Katniss gets to go after President Snow! We get to meet Tigress and lament Finnick. Oh Finnick…

Please Stay

Saw a review before I went to see the movie itself, since I already knew the ending. I had to laugh as it blabbered on about MJ2 being “dark” and “depressing.” Dude, Mr. Reviewer? Read the book. I can tell you that Thing 1 and I knew Finnick’s demise was coming from the moment they stepped off of the ladder and it didn’t make it any less palatable. We were disappointed in the interpretation of the mutts, but that was just our subjectivity. We both thought the mutts would be similar to the first film, not lizard people.

 

Had a flare of anger in the theatre when some of the viewers were laughing as Effie said goodbye. She is, bar none, my favorite Hunger Games character. There is so much to her the reader doesn’t know, but her untold story makes me appreciate the depth of her character. So shush, random people in the dark theatre—you’re not invested in a fantastic fictional character. I am. You see her fluttery eyelash as hilarious and I see her attempt to find herself. *end rant*

 

My solitary bones to pick? Who picked Peeta’s hair for the epilogue scene?! Were they blind? It was hideous. And they cut out Joanna’s role to the point of non-existence. MEH.


Never Giving up on my Unicorns

Today, I spoke with a family member who has been diagnosed with a fatal disease. She has less than two years to live. In visiting, she shared with me her plans to travel and see friends—to make good memories for her husband. She didn’t want to be like the hospice patients she used to tend, filled with “I wish I would have…”

 

I laughed through my tears as she rambled on about cleaning out the basement so her husband wouldn’t have to (“I mean, she who has the most yarn doesn’t win.”). I held my breath as she fought through her own tears when saying that she still wanted to skydive and zipline. This woman, even though facing the enormity of an incurable disease, still wants to live and make life better for those around her.

 

Further into our conversation, I was asking when her appointment with an out-of-state hospital will be for the possibility of experimental medications. As it happens, it will be the day I return from Mount Hermon.

 

“What is Mount Hermon?”

 

“Oh, it’s a writer’s conference. I wrote a book and have another started. Actually, a few more.”

 

“You mean…you’re an author? Like you wrote a book?”

 

And like a rod of lightning, God used her words to show me that I am walking next to her in my own way: I want to live and I want to make life better for those around me. It’s nearly the exact reason I started writing last year!

 

“It’s really not a big deal. I’m not even published.”

 

“Yes, but you did it. You finished it. You didn’t give up.”

 

Here, I had called her to encourage her and she ended up being my cheerleader. We are going to meet up in a couple of months and I’m hoping to surprise her and find someplace nearby to go ziplining, maybe even skydiving. It would be my good memory.

 

On a wall in my house are the words: Live, Laugh, Love.

 

I don’t believe for a minute that the Lord fearfully and wonderfully made us to stand still. Some He will call home early while others linger. If God has put a calling in your heart, whether to write devotionals, lead Sunday School, go overseas on a missions trip or anything else “huge,” let go and follow Him.

 

As a writer, I can honestly say rejections suck and meeting agents and editors is terrifying. I don’t know if I’ll every be published traditionally…but I’m taking the path God has put in front of me. I stub my toe. I fall down. And I get up. Still chasing my unicorn, though!

 

“People always say life is too short for regrets. But the truth is, it’s too long.” ― Sarah Addison Allen

 

After my hanging up with my family member, I couldn’t say it any better.


Hope is One Foot in Front of the Other

(I’m not even going to stick in any funny pictures on this one, folks)

Some days you think it’s bad. And you know what? Some days it is. The not-so-funny thing is that God never promised unicorns and puppies. Death is inevitable. So is suffering. Why people think that being a Christian or believing in God exempts them from any type of pain is a bit mind boggling to me.

 

Anyone thinking this post comes out of left field, I’m not sorry. Even you have experienced some semblance of hurt. I didn’t even write this out of my own hurt, but out of an ache so deep for a friend who suffered profoundly today.

 

The age old “count your blessings” is tossed around flippantly. Even the proverbial “God is in control” is popped off automatically and is more hurtful than silence or a hug.

 

To anyone reading this who is struggling, my heart aches for you. I may not have gone through what you are facing, but you are not alone. I won’t preach to your broken heart right now, but will encourage you to rest in the Lord. The feeling when you are exhausted and land on a fluffy bed? That is giving your pain to God and asking for wisdom (James 1:5-7) for your situation. Will it lessen the hurt? Sometimes. But other times, more pain will come even after you pray—even devastating loss before the breath of relief.

 

There is an old hymn dear to me. I clung to the words the Sunday my husband lay in his hospital bed. I’d grown up singing the song, and even knew the words by heart. Empty words until that morning, when they popped up on the screen in the lobby (where I sat because I just couldn’t face another person):

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

My translation? When everything is sunshine and lollipops, when everything is falling apart at the seams, whether life is perfectly fine or wretched, God gives me peace when I seek Him. It doesn’t make the ache of loss disappear or the brilliance of success lessen, but it gives me hope.

And when you’re stuck in a sad or dark place, even for an hour, hope is one foot in front of the other.


Nothing New Here

I have nothing new to report. Waiting for an editor to touch bases with me. Writing stuff. Living life. Being a mom-taxi.

Watching the new X-Files!!! (yes…I’m one of the only people who doesn’t own a gigantic flat screen!)

X-Files

I’m an unabashed fan of the original series. You may remember I’m a scaredy cat. To that end, I’ll admit there are some episodes I either skipped, walked out on or watched with my hand over my eyes. But in total, it was sci-fi campy goodness, smothered with a side of conspiracy theories. Get me my tin foil hat, people!

 

Even Thing 1 and 2 believe “The Truth Is Out There.” They both were able to watch the first episode. The second one, we told Thing 2 she’d have to skip and let us preview. Good call for us parents, because it was classic style weirdness with a bit o’ gore. Thing 1 will never look at a letter opener the same way.

 

We have four more episodes and then: crying_baby-1680x1050

I hope they wrap up the six episodes in a grand fashion. We waited eleven years for an encore!

 

In other news, Blade Runner starts filming in July.

heavy breathing

Lastly, and totally out of the realm of my normal viewing (but I remember watching Every.Single.Week as a girl), “Little House on the Prairie” is headed to the big screen. I’m not sure how to feel about this yet. I want to rage against it, but there is potential. I guess it depends on the plot, because I’m not sure anyone other than Michael Landon will be Pa.


David N. Alderman

A Place Where Fiction And Faith Meet

sacredgroundstickyfloors

Resting in Jesus in the midst of lunacy.

Quills & Inkblotts

Because the world needs good stories

For Such a Time as This

I want to be a salt shaker, light bearer, city-on-a-hill dweller

Rosemary E. Johnson

Dragon Writer

Kelsey Messner

Compelling Christian Fiction

Pursue Magazine

PURSUE is an online magazine that encourages and inspires girls to pursue their youth by discovering their calling, embracing their uniqueness, and learning how to sustain health in body, mind, and spirit. It is a general interest magazine that covers topics in life, encouragement & motivation, inspiration, arts & creativity, and beauty & fashion.

tarajohnsonauthor

Courage, freedom and joy: stories that heal.

Crafting Mysteries & Suspense

Mystery author Cathy Elliott talks a bit about writing mysteries, life, faith, and the delights of quilting in "The Occasional Blog."

Of Rhythm and Dreams

life in poetry

Nike N. Chillemi ~ Crime Fictionista

Literature that reads like pulp fiction.

loved by I am

a twenty-first century girl following the eternal Savior

Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency

CHEERING ON AUTHORS IS HIS MISSION