Enter to Win!

Today, is the LAST day to enter the Christmas in July give-away!!!

TWENTY books!

ONE winner!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My book, The Scent of Coffee, is my first release! I am so excited to share it with you, but I have a little more work to do on it yet. I meant to yesterday, but a trip to the Vet with my sweet Roxie turned my day into a rather emotional one. She has not been herself since April. We’ve been to the Vet many times, she’s been on several different medications and nothing seems to be working. She had a few tests done yesterday and it looks as if our sweet girl is in kidney failure. We are waiting on one more test, but I don’t know that you can reverse kidney failure.

So we’re praying and waiting. It was hard information to discuss yesterday and I could not get my mind in the place it needed to be to finish this book. I hope you’ll forgive me with this delay.

It will be release ASAP. I am working on it today and I will let you know as soon as I’ve pushed the magic button. For the winner of this contest – you will still receive my book!

I would also like to add a little contest of my own simply to say thank you for your patience and your support. You’ve all been so helpful to me and I appreciate it more than you know. The contest below will begin TOMORROW:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you would like to follow me and receive updates, here is where I hide out:

Facebook Page

Instagram

Twitter

Website

Again, thank you for entering the contests and your support.

Please keep our sweet Roxie girl in your prayers.

Sincerely,

 


Christmas in July!

So, how would you like to win TWENTY books?

It’s Christmas in July!

TWENTY Authors have come together for one HUGE giveaway! Isn’t that amazing! I am so excited to have my first release, my debut book in this line up! (…I just gotta finish writing it…oh yes, my darlings I am racing that clock).

The contest runs from now until July 21st. ONE lucky winner will be chosen and announced on July 22nd! I can’t wait to see who wins and what they think of all the books. I want to read all of them! There are a few Authors in that line up that are new to me.

So please, share, share and share some more!

Let’s cool off this July with some wintery reads!

Good Luck to you! I can’t wait to see who wins!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


First Book Release

COMING SOON!!!

I’m so excited!!! I can’t believe it! I am FINALLY doing it! Please pray for me as I still have many words to write, but it is happening! No stopping me now!

Romance is in the air, or is that coffee I smell?


The Cattleman’s Daughters

This past week I have been sick and while sick, I read about The Cattleman’s Daughters a series written by Author Danni Roan. I believe these are the first books I’ve read by Danni. I’ve seen several posted on Facebook through various groups, but hadn’t gotten around to reading them just yet. I read books by so many Authors that it is sometimes hard to keep up, especially when I’m busy doing my own writing.

I don’t enjoy being under the weather but I did truly enjoy each of these books. I think of all the characters Winnie and Joshua were my favorites. You’ll have to read the stories to understand why as I refuse to write spoilers.

Dear Danni,

Thank you so much for writing these sweet stories and for being brave enough to publish them. I truly enjoyed each one of them. I enjoyed the collection of people that became a family. It reminded me of how over the years as a military wife, I have adopted several different people into my family. Some are old enough to be my siblings or parents, but I still call them my adopted-kiddos.

I loved how each daughter was truly her own person and how much they loved their Daddy and the ranch. I thought the old timer’s were rather sneaky with their matchmaking schemes. I wondered for a little bit if they were ever going to get one couple to get their heads out of the books and into the kissing!

If I have a favorite from these I’m going to have to choose The Love and Loss of Joshua James. It tied everything together very nicely and gave more insight into the man with a heart big enough to love again and again. I, however, enjoyed each book.

I would also like to say, Thank You for including God in these stories. That is a rare and precious find in some stories and it was what I needed to be reading at this time. I didn’t feel it was over done or under done. You blended it as naturally as it should be and I thank you for that. It is much appreciated.

I look forward to reading your other works, but for now, I must return to my own wip. Thank you for being with me through this sinus crud.

If you haven’t read anything by Danni, I suggest you try The Cattleman’s Daughters. I would also recommend that read the Companion books in between the book they accompany. I did not do that as I wasn’t sure what a companion book was. After I read the series I went back through and read the companions. It was still good, don’t get me wrong, but I feel I would have enjoyed them even more had I read them along with the series.

Should you choose to give The Cattleman’s Daughters a test drive and you enjoy it, please be kind and make an Author’s day by leaving Danni a review. It encourages Authors to keep writing and remember it’s not a book review. You don’t have to critique it, just simply say, “I liked it” or “I loved it” or “I enjoyed it“. That’s it – nothing more.

If you enjoy sweet western reads, I do believe you’ll enjoy these. I would love to know if you do and what books would you recommend? There are so very many and so little time. I find a most of the books I enjoy through a few special Facebook groups – feel free to check them out.

Pioneer Hearts

Contemporary Western Hearts

Sweet Wild West Reads

The Rumor Mill

My Kindle is Starving

…and many more. Perhaps, I’ll write a post for you and provide you a list of all the ones I belong to or participate in. There are also several websites that help you find new reads, authors and books that are either free or discounted.

I love the Facebook pages/groups created for readers and by Authors as the Authors themselves will interact with you and that is wonderful to me. I love that.

Until next time – enjoy your reading!


Front Porch Time Vol.1

Welcome to my front porch…


…I sit out here as often as I can to write. I love the early morning hours with my cup of coffee, the twitter of the birds and the whisper of the leaves as they dance upon the breeze. It’s a musical melody like none other; new and fresh with each dawn.

I even enjoy the evening hours and watching the day as it comes to a close. Sadly, the mosquitoes enjoy nibbling on my skin as their evening treat. I wonder if my blood tastes like sweet caramel coffee? Perhaps, that’s why they like me so much.

The front porch was my one requirement when we had our home built and I treasure every moment I get to spend on it, minus the bugs. Yet, they are the sacrifice I’m willing to make for the beauty that surrounds me here in the Virginia woods.

Just this morning a doe walked in between my home and my neighbors, crossed the road and jumped into a patchy wooded area. I love watching them. They usually walk up to the back of our property as it meets up to a National Battlefield full of trees, where for the most part I believe they are safe. I think I’ll put a salt lick out there for them, maybe they’ll visit me more often then.

Sometimes there is a woodpecker in the tree before the front porch that comes to visit me, I think I’m going to have to name him as he’s a regular. More often than not there is a squirrel or two playing across the electrical lines and there is a beautiful blue and white bird that comes to visit me from time to time.

There’s a lake nearby, but I do not have a lake view. Once in awhile however, I can see that sun glinting off the water through the trees behind my neighbors brown home. If I were closer or had a lake view, I would also be blessed with watching the swans and geese play. We’ve about 6 swans out here. Rumor is Swans are not very friendly…they sure are beautiful to watch though.

A friend of mine, Rachel, lives not too far away yet, near a different lake. It also has swans. She has named them. If I remember correctly, her favorite is called Brutus. I am going to have to learn more of his story as this intrigues me.

Perhaps you think I’m just rambling this morning and perhaps I am, who knows. Truth is, I haven’t posted in over a week and I thought I share with you the joy my front porch brings me, as I’ve also missed it this past week.

I’d been writing away on my current WIP (work in progress) and I’d been trying to hit that magical 3K word count. It took me an entire weekend to reach it. This drove me crazy as I can easily sit down and write 1-3K letters! My friends and family have always teased me about writing them small books vs letters.

Why was this so difficult for me? As I continued to write I found myself thinking, “this is atrocious” or “I should just start over” and “it sounded so good in my head, what happened!” I reached out to my best friend and a few fellow writers – all encouraged me to press forward. So I did, word by slow little word.

On Sunday, June 25th, I stayed up late continuing my battle and I began to feel a little under the weather. On Monday morning I knew I didn’t feel well. My sinuses had begun draining down my throat causing it to hurt. Yet, I pushed forward. I enjoyed some time on my front porch Tuesday – it was a beautiful day and then at 3:20 p.m. and 4, 235 words, I checked out.

I had finally made it to the scene I’d been dying to write from the moment the idea entered my mind. From this point I expected it to feel as if someone had just turned on the water faucet. Instead, it felt like the drain had been clogged. I was tired, my throat hurt, my head pounded and all I wanted to do was sleep. I continued to think about my WIP, continued to have ideas for it and wrote them in the notes of my phone, but I did not open the document.

I found myself opening a new book…and as I read I began to wonder if I was hiding out from my own work. No, I didn’t feel good. I still don’t, but I was reading – so obviously I could write something, right? I continued to examine this holding area I found myself in, wondering if it were my own doing. How come the words were not flowing freely…

I know the story. I know where it’s going and how to get it there. So what happened? What was holding me back? I think I’ve finally come up with the answer. A thousand words before I checked out I wrote this line:

Grandma had said, “take God with you”

It is not the first mention of God in my WIP, but it is significant. You see, I believe that when we are doing something that brings us closer to God, Satan gets very jealous. If he wears panties they’re probably very twisted about now. Satan doesn’t want us in a relationship with the Lord and so when we draw closer to God, Satan clogs the drain.

………………………………………………………………………………………………….AKA a sinus infection.

I also realized it wasn’t just Satan clogging the drain. It was me. Normally, when I sit down to write, be it a letter, story, poem or article; there is something weighing heavily on my heart and it needs released. I need to examine it, pick it apart and put my feelings out there in front of me in a way that makes sense. Or I feel the overwhelming desire to reach out to someone and try with everything I’ve got in me to get them to see what I’m laying before them in order to somehow help them. I let my heart bleed and it is excruciatingly beautiful.

What I mean by that is that while it is painful to open myself up and allow the raw emotions of past experiences to breathe – the end result is generally pretty, like that of a diamond being refined by the fire.

When I wrote the line:

Grandma had said, “take God with you”

I didn’t realize it at first but my heart had begun to leak out onto the page. By word 4,235 – I knew my intuition was beginning to take over. I could feel it. This time it scared me, because this time I won’t be the only one or second one reading it. It will be public.

I got sick. I escaped into a few good books by Danni Roan (The Cattleman’s Daughters) and to my surprise God continued to be there prodding and pushing me back to my own work. I jotted down little notes, I took naps and I read books. I lost my voice and energy, but continued to take little baby steps that would pave the way forward. I am still recovering, my voice is rough, quiet and my head a bit foggy. I will most likely take a nap again today and read a little more, but I am ready to type again.

I will allow intuition to flow through my fingertips and rest in the assurance of my heavenly Father for without him the story would never see the light of day. As I continue my journey forward I pray for better health and unclogged drains. I also ask that if you are of a praying mind to remember me and the story I’m writing. Perhaps along the wings of your prayers The Scent of Coffee and I will get a little further down the road.

I’ve a very special release date in mind and I’d love nothing more than to make it happen. Thank you for visiting with me on my front porch today. I hope you have a happy and blessed Independence Day.


She Said Coffee

Hey y’all! I’m still kicking around over here, been a bit distracted with a work in progress. I’ve been having so much fun writing this week. Sometimes, I just have a good week where the ideas and words flow from me like rain down a tin roof.

Union was getting a little to serious for me, so I had to take a step away from her and write something fun. I’ve been working on a cute, feisty little Christmas story. I can not wait to share it with you!

Just today, I purchased my first ever book cover! It’s for another book, but when I saw the image I knew it was perfect! I couldn’t let it slip away from me. That led to some talk with the Author/Artist Josephine Blake over at Covers and Cupcakes about the cover design I have in my head for this little Christmas story. Josephine says, “That’s very specific” – I do have a picture in my head for it. How to create it on a cover, I’ve no idea. I would love to learn, but right now I need to finish the story and Josephine has been designing a bit. Work smarter, not harder – correct?

I’ve read a few books I need to write reviews for and then I need to get back to writing my story while it is quiet in my house. The groceries were purchased yesterday and today is my day home to write, so I really need to get to it.

Recently, I have read: Java Break, Java Muse, The Housekeeper’s Proposal, Novel Notes, Anxious in Atlanta and Flyboy’s Fancy.

Now, if you know me, you know I hate to leave a bad review and it doesn’t matter if I know you or not. I’ve connected with a lot of Authors on Social Media – a few I even consider friends. I write reviews for everyone and do my very best not to spoil the story/information or say anything bad.

With that said, if you are an aspiring Author/Writer, my recommendation is not to purchase Novel Notes. It will most likely be a waste of your time. I flipped through it in under 5 minutes. It was a lot of blank pages with a subject written across the top. I’ll just leave it at that.

I will be writing up my review for The Housekeeper’s Proposal later this week, as I do not believe it is yet released. I was proofreading it for author Barb Goss. She has a great little Facebook group called, Sweet Wild West Reads. It is a pretty active group and from time to time you’ll find an Author seeking some proof readers, beta readers or street team requests. You’ll also find new things to read, contests and games.

Today, we are going to review Java Break by Lynn Donovan & Java Muse by George McVey. Y’all know George by now, right? By now you should!

If you read my previous post, When It Hits, you already know most of my thoughts on Java Muse – that book impacted me pretty strongly.

However, Lynn Donovan is a new Author to me – so let’s write her review in my normal fashion.

Dear Lynn,

First off I think Charlie is behind the messages and I find I am intrigued most by him. I hope even if he is behind the messages that he still gets hit by Cupid.

The book was cute and enjoyable to read. I did feel that things progressed rather quickly with the characters intimately, but I still enjoyed the book.

The Java Cupid must really be something because as I was working on my own manuscript one of my character’s was reading about him!

So thank you for inspiring ideas in my own mind and delivering a sweet little story around my favorite thing: Coffee! I am looking forward to reading the rest of this multi-author series and I’m glad you thought of creating it!

Be Blessed as you Progress!

I could write a letter to George again, but I think he already knows how I feel about Java Muse and most of you should too. I love the books by George and I’m sure you’ll be reading more about him later as he has several books coming out this year and I WILL be reading them.

I hope you will return for my reviews of Flyboy’s Fancy, Anxious in Atlanta and The Housekeeper’s Proposal, which I will have up over the next few days. However, if you are looking for something to read – go ahead and read them! You’ll enjoy them.

I’m off to mine some words now…my hot headed little Character is up to no good at the moment and someone needs to straighten her out. We’ll talk again soon!


Katie Crabapple: Homespun

I saw this question asked via Facebook this week:

Do you check the number of pages before choosing a book?

Before the Kindle I did not check – all you had to do was look at the book and let the thickness be your deciding factor, if it so mattered. I don’t really mind if the story is short or long – to each their own.

However, I have learned since the Kindle entered my life to check the number of pages. The reason for this is, I have stumbled upon the makings of a really great story and then all the sudden it’s done. Almost as if it’s been beheaded! I find myself looking for the rest of the story! Quickly searching Amazon and the Author’s website for more details or possibly the next book only to come up empty handed.

I don’t know why this happens but I know I dislike reading a book that leaves me hungry with no second course or desert. There are times I am looking for a quick book to read, like Katie’s Homespun series but I want the whole story. If you have to break it down in parts, okay, go for it. Just don’t leave me looking for more and coming up empty. That is in my opinion not worth my time.

Therefore, I do check the number of pages. If it is not above 50 – I will skip it, UNLESS it has been recommended highly. How bout you? Do you check the number of pages?

Earlier this week or maybe last week I read all 7 of the Homespun books by Katie Crabapple. It didn’t take long. The books are rather short. 64 to 98 pages in length, so pretty quick reads, but very enjoyable stories.

Dear Katie,

Thank you for such lovely stories. Rumor is that you are currently taking some time off from writing. I believe the last book you released was in 2015. I’m not sure the reason for the time away, but I want you to know that you and your sweet stories are missed. I hope you are well and that someday we’ll get to read more from you. God Bless.


Support Builds Friendships

In many of the books I read the women are helping each other with chores and whatever else. The thought of “we’ll get it done quicker, together” ever present. I believe having someone to help you complete a task also makes it more enjoyable, it gives you someone to talk to and laugh with. This support builds friendships.

I think that even in today’s world this is true. No, we’re not out helping one another with the laundry or the cooking, but there are things we do that help each other. Let me give you some examples:

  1. Your good friend is $100 shy of earning an all expenses paid vacation -so you rally together with others and order some make up from her to make it happen.
  2. A family member is going through a medical issue and has set up a GoFund me account – you spread the word.
  3. Someone you know has lost someone they love and a pray chain has begun, you join in.
  4. A community member lost their home and belongings in a fire – you rally together to be sure they have clothing and food and such.
  5. A friend of yours has started a new business and needs help getting it out there, again you spread the word.

See what I mean? We may not be gathering together doing laundry or cooking, but the work of many hands is still at play. I’m sure you’ve heard “word of mouth” is the best advertising you can get, right? I believe the “many hands” and “word of mouth” go hand in hand. They are companions. Like a right leg and a left leg – they support you, hold you up and keep you from failure.

This brings to mind Ecclesiastes chapter 4: Oppression, Toil and Friendlessness.

Oppression = cruel or unjust treatment.

Toil = work extremely hard.

Friendlessness = right leg and left leg are missing, you’ve no support.

We all know we live in a very cruel world. Don’t believe me turn on the news. I hate watching the news or listening to it on the radio. Rarely is there a HEA (happy ever after). Some of it will down right scare you to death. Just this week we had an active shooter not 5 miles from my home! I know I needed to be aware, but my goodness!

People are always going to say and do mean things and for that reason we need a tough skin, but even that doesn’t prevent the damage.

This is a lie and if you believe it you will be greatly hurt. Yes, sticks and stones may very well break your bones, but words are sharper than the sharpest knife. They have more power than you can imagine or perhaps you’ve already learned that life lesson.

People say, “Oh just let it roll of your shoulders” and you try. Then late at night, when you’re all alone those hurtful words replay through your mind like a bad dream stuck on repeat. You tried to protect it, but your heart has taken a painful hit.

You feel as if you have no friends or that the ones you do have don’t really care because they’re telling you to “shake it off“. Ostracized and sad. It’s easy to feel that way when you’ve taken a painful hit. It doesn’t matter your vocation in life, you can be a housewife, a business owner or a millionaire – those painful hits are gonna happen. Which is why we need supporters. We all need friends to help us through the oppression upon our toil.

I know it gets annoying when people ask you to like their Facebook page or add you to a group without your permission. Let me just say, I will never add you to a group without permission, I myself cannot stand that. I will however, invite you to like a page from time to time or share someones page with you. The reason for that is I enjoy supporting my friends as they toil through life. Thankfully, Facebook does give you the option to accept the invite or not. Truthfully, few people realize they have even been invited to like a  Facebook page.

Just this week my youngest sister was asking me about my mountain of journals. I thought she was aware that I am finally putting my brave face on and getting my writing out to the public. I thought I’d told her about it. I did invite her to like my Facebook page months ago. She had no idea or she would have been supporting me.

For a little research, if you are reading this and willing open Facebook on your computer. On the left hand side, scroll down until you see Pages. Click that. It will show you:

  1. Top Suggestions (based on pages you’ve liked)
  2. Invites (this is where you find your friends that are asking for your support)
  3. Liked Pages (ones you’ve liked – you can edit those there as you need to)

I don’t believe you can view this from your phone. I’ve looked and not found it, anyway. Every time I open Pages on my computer I find several invites. Today, there are 7. Now, do I accept every invite? No. However, I do accept those that truly apply to me, like say fellow Authors, writing pages, and coffee pages. We all know how I love coffee.

Now, if you did as I asked – then if you don’t mind leave a comment with the number of invites you had. Did you even know they were there? Makes it kinda hard to support your friends and family if you miss the invitation.

Why am I writing about this? If you’ve visited my website before or my Facebook page, you know that I try my very best to support my fellow Authors. I do this in several ways:

  1. Amazon Review
  2. Goodreads Review
  3. Share via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest
  4. Review their book on my website
  5. Thunderclap (just learned about this)
  6. Voting – sometimes their cover or book is up for an award
  7. Connect with the Author by tagging them and hash tagging their name and book
  8. Bookbub, BookCave, Instafreebies, Inspired Reads, Pixel of Ink, Kindle Unlimited and E-Discovery.

There is so much you can do to support causes, people and things that are important to you. So many ways you can make them feel less lonely. I’ve read some really nasty reviews out there and I know most Authors avoid reading them because they hurt. I believe people just need to quit their belly achin’ and stop being ugly. I’m positive their Momma’s raised them better.

So why am I telling you about all this?

I want you to understand why you will see this kind of activity from me. Why I write the reviews, share and help promote the way I do. Writing is a solitary adventure. The story that you have within you can only be written by you. That can be lonely and scary and perhaps you find yourself wondering if you’re even doing it right. Connecting with other Writer’s and Author’s makes it a more enjoyable adventure, you have friends of a like mind. In other words, you have found your tribe. Shouldn’t you support that tribe the best way you know how? That’s what I’m doing and someday I hope they’ll return the favor.

It is also, my hope that my kind words will find them and brighten their day from time to time in an attempt to drown out some of the oppression from their toil. Nobody wants to live in a friendless world.

Be Blessed as you Progress.  

If you would like to follow me in my journey you may find me in these locations.

  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter
  3. Instagram
  4. Website
  5. Pinterest


Nom De Plume

A Pen Name.

I spent a lot time thinking and praying over this idea before I created my website. I researched why Authors use pen names and why they don’t. In today’s world if you use a pen name, I believe most people are aware of it. So why use one? Or better yet, why not? It’s fun!

I use one.

There are a lot of different reasons for choosing a pen name as well as pros and cons. I personally, have nothing against my first name, Tonya. Although, it is regularly misspelled. I hated my maiden name; West. No matter what there were jokes about which direction I was going. Ironically, I am very skilled at getting lost.

My married name, VanWinkle leads to a lot of “like Rip VanWinkle” remarks. Many people call my husband and son both, Rip. Not something I want to be called.

I wanted something that was mostly, all mine.

When I set out in search of a name, I asked myself these questions:

  1. Will it look pretty on a cover?
  2. Does anyone else have it/use it? I needed to make sure I could use it as my website.
  3. Is it hard to pronounce?

Pretty simple. I typed it up in several different fonts to see how it would look and eventually settled on:

My middle name is Renea – although most people I know spell it Renee – I guess my Mom liked to be unique. I like it spelled this way though. Then I wondered what I could make work with my maiden name as it would be easier to adjust than VanWinkle. I lost my precious mother-in-law June of 2014 and her name was Marilyn. In her memory, I took the “lyn” and added to my maiden name.

And there you have it. The how and the why of my pen name – a name that is all mine.

However, until this year I have written as Tonya VanWinkle or Tonya West. In February of 1999 – I received this after submitting a poem into a contest my Librarian Mrs. Russell had suggested.

When I received this along with a letter in the mail about it I was through the roof excited. I mean I felt like I was flying and then I realized I had to purchase said book. That deflated me a bit. I didn’t expect to be paid but if I wanted the book that contained a piece of my work in it, I had to buy it? Weird.

But have the book, I do and my poem is on the bottom of page 56. Today, I can’t find that book online anywhere. The furtherest back I can find is 2001.

The company however is still around and still providing the contest to students all around the world and they can be found here: Creative Communications

The copyright inside the book says that the writing may not be shared without permission of both Author and Publisher. I have contacted them about it and as soon as I receive approval I will share it with you.

My life changed drastically that very month as I learned I would be a Momma. I graduated that May, married that August and was blessed with a beautiful baby girl that October. Life got busy. My writing journey took all kinds of twists and turns. I attempted writing Children’s books for a while – so not my thing. I found a folder with my work from that time – I’ll have to share some of that mess later.

I continued to write poetry and other things – which is why I should have stock in journals.

I took a few writing classes here and there, but mostly I continued to dream. It wasn’t until the beginning of this year, when my son said to me…

well what did you want to do before kids

that I realized I was doing what I wanted to do before children. I was just keeping it all to myself and not pursuing the dream. With the empty nest fast approaching, I have a lot of time to myself and my goal this year is to make it happen, which means I have to stay focused!

While I work on accomplishing that goal I am enjoying sharing my past works and journey with you and I thank you for your visit today.

 


When It Hits

I’m not sure if I’m going to work on my novel tonight or just write this blog post and then attempt sleep. I don’t have to really be awake early tomorrow and I can sleep in as late as I want…so we’ll see what happens when I finish this post.

I was in bed reading. I had told my husband when we went to bed that I didn’t know if I’d stay. I wasn’t exactly ready for bed and I thought I’d come in here and work on my novel a bit, but he does like it when I go to bed with him. We lay there reading our books in comfortable silence. Although tonight, we were listening to my Mom tell us a story via snapchat using all those funny voice changers. It was hilarious! I often wish I would record her snapchats – some of the things she says belong in novels!

Shortly, he turned off his kindle and soon the peaceful night was interrupted by his snoring. I continued to read and as I read some things in the book started hitting some very tender spots in my heart. Have you ever read something and felt like the author was speaking directly to you? That’s how I feel tonight. Eventually those feelings lead me to close my kindle, walk back to my office and begin this post.

It’s easy for me to write about something I’m feeling, an experience, things I’m passionate about, letters to others, and such. I have honestly found myself questioning first person vs third person writing this week. The reason being everything I’ve ever written has been in first person. I write from the “I” stand point and I think because I’ve always done so, the reason I’m struggling with my novel is the “he said, she said” mess.

But when I sit down and I just start writing, it flows and the word count climbs beautifully. Example: I’ve been writing this post for approximately five minutes and my word count is at 340. Earlier today when I was working on my novel and getting no-where fast I might add, my word count only reached 371 words. It took me 3 hours to write 371 words that I’m not even sure I like yet! Are you kidding me? I’ve surpassed that with this post in under 10 minutes.

I recently read – I wish I could remember where – that

first-person has the ability to pull the readers directly into the story and create an unprecedented amount of intimacy between them and the character“.

So many people advise against first-person vs third, but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s simply an author’s preference.

Anyway, back to the reason I’m sitting here writing this post…

The book I’m currently reading is Java Muse by George McVey. George is branching out a bit with this book – it’s not about Nugget Nate that’s for sure – and while I’m not sure how much I actually like the book yet, the darn thing is hitting me in the heart! And NOT because it’s a romance but because of the character Aurora!

Several years back – when I lived in Ohio – I took a class called, Ministries by Strength. It was by far one of my favorite classes, I got to write a lot! I probably still have the binder laying around here some where. Perhaps tomorrow I will take a photo of the sheer number of journals, binders and flash drives I have…so many unfinished pieces, unfulfilled dreams and possible stories longing for life.

During this class I learn my top 5 strengths. I have a plaque somewhere with them framed inside it…I wonder what I did with that. Believe it or not, we are still unpacking boxes. We’ve been in our home for about 8 months now…retiring is hard work.

  1. Belief
  2. Idealist
  3. Empathy
  4. ***
  5. ***

I’ll have to find the plaque to remember the other 2. I’ve not forgotten these three because one of them shocked me and the others empowered me. I have a pretty strong belief system – or at least I think I do. My teenage children would say it’s too strong probably. Even people who don’t know me extremely well pick up on it rather quickly. I had a friend of mine once tell me, “You don’t not want to listen to that song. You’ll have to go home and read your Bible if you do.” -I don’t even know what the song was but I’m thankful for the warning.

An Idealist – some might not like that. I think it fits me perfectly. I’m always cooking up some idea in my head, be it a story, something for my flower beds, a quilt I should make, gifts for someone…I am rarely bored. I am able to entertain myself quite often. I can make myself laugh and even cry with some of the stuff I come up with. The mind is a playground and mine is very active.

Empathy is what shocked me. I never imagined I’d get that. I can be rather hard. I do not sugarcoat many things. I love to tell the story of how I became friends with my best friend.

I was living in Ohio. My marriage had been struggling and I was struggling personally. God put some very special people in my path. I had cried out to him to take the wheel of my life because I couldn’t do it anymore. I was making a massive wreck of it and I hated myself for it. The guilt was eating me up inside. These special people were part of a ministry called Mom to Mom. We met once a week for breakfast, Bible study and fellowship. In the beginning I fought it, tooth and nail. I wanted to stay home in my pajamas and do absolutely nothing.

I still enjoy that by the way and I know it’s not healthy, that I should get out more. I make myself go out but not as often as some would like I’m sure. I just enjoy being home and comfortable. I’m not depressed or miserable. I feel safe here. I do feel bad, well guilty -really, when I have spent the whole day doing nothing and my husband walks in and immediately does the dishes. I should have at least done that and why didn’t I? I’ve no idea on that. I’m not the best housewife – definitely not a strength.

Once attending Mom to Mom became a routine, I found I enjoyed it. I hated to miss a Thursday meeting. It fueled me. However, those beginning months were hard. At first I didn’t want to go and then I struggled with attending the play dates or outings they planned. Little by little I stepped out, but I was dealing with a mountain of hurt on the inside. There had been things said to me that had left invisible wounds that had yet to heal.

One day while attending a play date with them at the park my life changed. My youngest was 3 and my oldest 5. He was playing on the slide and she wanted me to push her on the swing. I couldn’t be in 2 places at once and the obnoxious lady that I avoided as best I could – since she was also my daughter’s piano teacher – was pushing her daughter on the swing next to mine and began to also push my daughter. She was helping me and I appreciated it until she spoke. She didn’t know what wounds I was dealing with on the inside and I didn’t know her well enough to appreciate her obnoxious joking manner.

Geez, don’t you ever play with your children?

OUCH! Yes, she was joking, but it was like pouring alcohol into an open wound and she had no idea. I decided then and there I did not like her and I did not want anything to do with her. I made it through the play date and home without losing my temper or falling apart. I refuse to fall apart in front of people, my temper on the other hand is something harder to control.

It was hard to avoid this woman. We both attending the same ministry, same Church, she taught my daughter piano and we were on the same leadership team of all things! During a monthly leadership meeting she broke down crying. I could not for the life of me figure out what was wrong with this woman. Do you know why she was falling apart? Between her sobs she cried,

…but I yelled at her!

She’d yelled at her precious daughter and felt like a monster for it. The guilt, something I was very familiar with for other reasons, was chewing her up something fierce. Most everyone had gone home and somehow I was the one left to, well…fix her. Growing up I was always trying to fix problems that arose, even today if something is happening that’s not right I find myself trying to fix it, make it better or put a bandaid on it at least.

So here this woman that I’d avoided getting close to sat crying a river and drowning in guilt and I had the nerve to tell her…

You are the best Mom I have ever known! All the kids, whether yours or not adore you. They all want to go play at your house all the time, mine included. You are their best friend. You are not a bad Mom and I don’t even like you!

Startled she looked up at me.

Y-you, you don’t like me?

My empathy skills are so on point right here and now that I go on and tell her,

No! I don’t like you!

Why?

…and so then we get into the reason behind that why, the invisible open wounds within and I magically walk away with what? A best friend! Believe it or not, and she to this day is still my best friend. We became nearly inseparable for my remaining time in Ohio. She came to visit me in England, we’ve been on vacation together and last year we needed a weekend away to recharge our batteries – so we found the middle point between us and met up in Charleston West Virginia for the weekend. I’m hopeful we may get to do it again soon. It is a beautiful place to visit.

Can you see why empathy being one of my top five strengths shocked me? I’m about as subtle as a gun! The truth of the matter is that I can put myself in other people’s shoes. I can relate. (I think I just remembered #4: Adaptability) I can feel and strongly so. When Jenny was overcome with guilt that day, I knew how awful it felt because guilt and I had been constant companions for a long time.

And so as I’m reading, Java Muse and R.G. is an author who has met the lovely Aurora. Aurora is a writer who dreams of being an author. Does that mean writers are not Authors? In my mind, it means if you are not published somewhere, somehow -then you are a writer. I honestly do not know where that puts me; as I have been published on different blogs/websites, a poem in a book back in 1999 and a newspaper article…BUT have I ever published a book? No.

So I assume, I’m considered just a writer at moment. Which drives me crazy because I feel until I have a book out I cannot join and play in the Author only groups. I want to learn from them and I feel locked out, but when I message a few I know on Facebook they are always kind and helpful.

I don’t want to give parts of the book away – so if you haven’t read it yet – perhaps you shouldn’t read any further on this post.

Aurora’s belief in herself is limited. She’s had people in her life tell her she is wasting her time and to quit fooling with it. I can very easily put myself in Aurora’s shoes. I’ve had Authors tell me

first you need to learn to write

and probably by a dictionary

Basically, “I’m not good enough“. Yet, I’ve had family, friends and teachers encourage me from early on. I began writing when I was 8. It has always been an outlet for me and that developed and grew into a passion. I cannot imagine a life where I am unable to write. I have also had family members say things like:

Well, you’ve never published a book before.

and that one probably sticks out and hurt the most, because all I needed that person to say was,

Yes, I believe you can.

Just to help my unbelief, to give me that cheerleader who wouldn’t let me quit on myself. I needed that person to believe in me. I was in middle of writing a novel, a novel that sits unfinished in my mountain of dreams, all because that person couldn’t say what I need to hear that day. I’ve had to learn to move past that, to believe in myself enough to push forward. It’s taken some time and in the process I have simply kept everything under my hat.

Oh, by the way – I get off on tangents sometimes and it truly interrupts my writing. I’m aware of the issue, trust me.

Sometimes the urge to write is so strong it literally pulls me out of bed! I get so frustrated because there are times when I feel that I need to write, right then and there, but LIFE…husband, kids, dog, cat, work, friends and I wouldn’t trade it, but sometimes I literally just cannot get there. And whatever it is that had entered my idealistic brain has vanished and refuses to reappear when I finally take my seat.

I do not go anywhere without pen and paper or my phone, but there are times when that is not enough or I return to the note I left myself only to wonder what on earth it was about. Yep, I’m that bad. I have a horrible memory.

Like Aurora, many times I think “It’s not good enough, I’m not good enough.What am I even doing?” And then I read something that’s total bologna and think if that can be published why am I sitting on a mountain of possibilities and not moving…

Fear. Rejection. Not being able to reach someone, to touch their life somehow.

You see, I’m not in it for money. It would be nice, I won’t lie – but one thing you hear over and over from ALL kinds of Authors is:

Don’t do it to get rich.

I believe there are several types of riches. There is of course money. I believe there are Godly riches – a blessing you’ve received from following God’s word. I believe there are also “riches of gifts“. What do I mean?

Christmas is my favorite Holiday and not because of receiving gifts, but because I love to give! I love to find that one special thing that touches the heart of the receiver, to see their bright smile and happy tear. It makes me feel good. It blesses me, heart and soul. It’s almost better than coffee.

So when I think of pushing submit, I dream of my words reaching the one whose heart needs them and will be touched. Who will find themselves standing in the shoes of one of my characters, just as I have found myself tonight standing in Aurora’s. Perhaps they’ll be inspired somehow or someway in their life.

Java Muse pushed me from my bed to write these words, simple as they may be. If I were George, and someone was writing this in reference to a book I’d written I would feel accomplished. As if I’d finally gotten out of my own way and made it. Ironically though, I’m not a hundred percent sold on Java Muse yet. I’m not even half way through it though. I’m reading it because I consider George a friend and I want to see how he does with this branching out. I want him to succeed with this and watch him grow as an Author. It’s helpful to me.

Anyway – I’ve rambled my little heart out and while my eyes are open I believe my head is tired. So I’m going to attempt a little shut eye. Later today, since it is now after 1 a.m. I will return to my novel, take a deep breath and try again. Thank you George for encouraging me through your words in Java Muse. I needed to read them. I will try to finish the book soon, after I’ve written many words of my own. Speaking of which this post is now over 2800 words…and to think I only managed 371 earlier. Where was my head?!

I’ll leave you with this. Words hurt. They leave lasting impressions. You can never take them back. So when you speak or when you write be sure that the impression you leave behind is one of love.

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