Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Christmas in June!

I told you that I would let you know if I actually made it into the book. Well on Monday I found out! It was confirmed in the Cup of Comfort newsletter -- the official list of the authors and the way they will appear in the book. My story is titled, "The Case of the Missing Gifts." The book is a compilation of stories and devotions, which will make a great Christmas gift.

As soon as I'm able to order books, I will be offering an autographed copy as a gift. Just leave a comment and I'll have my hubby pick a name.

Living Life Passionately,

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Writing Wednesday and Pic of the Day!

Today was a writing retreat day for me at Conestoga Gardens—Lancaster’s best kept secret. It’s open to the public on Wednesday from 1:00 to 8:00 p.m. (June to September), so I take full advantage of it.

My hubby contracted the stomach flu and for the last two days I have been listening to sounds of throw-up, so I took a break to indulge in the sound of trickling waterfalls. It was so peaceful; I actually got some writing done.

Someone e-mailed this week and asked me how to write a devotional, so here’s my answer to that question. Since I’m writing 30 of them for Moms of Sons, I thought this might be a good time to share with you something you might learn at a writer’s conference.

1. Start out your story with action; dialogue usually works for me. It gets your reader involved from the get-go. Opening with a story never fails to involve your reader (which is why you are writing it!).

2. The Scripture should highlight the main point of your story. Be sure to not make it a long verse (if so, just use only a portion of it) and be careful not to use Scripture out of context. There are a lot of good sites on the Web. I use www.Biblegateway.com.

3. This is the hardest part for some writers: Your last paragraph needs to tie in the story with the Scripture.

4. End on a positive note.

There you have it. I subscribe to Joni and Friends and receive a devotional a day via e-mail. Joni Eareckson Tada is the queen of short devotionals which is harder to do than longer ones because it is tight writing. An average devotional is anywhere from 500-700 words. The hardest ones to write are about 200 words.

Enjoy the picture of the day and have fun writing your devotional!

Living Life Passionately,

Friday, June 19, 2009

Picture of the Day!

Lily afer the rain...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Christmas in June?

This is very dangerous what I'm about to do. As I explained before (many times), the publishing world works on its own terms. I am a finalist in this upcoming book, but this by no means assures me a spot in its pages.

Most authors think they are home free when the books is featured on www.amazon.com with a real book cover and you have signed the contract, stating that you are a finalist.

But at that point, it is not over...not at all. I have heard veteran authors say it is, but I'm here to tell you it is absolutely not true. The decision rests solely in the hands of the publisher at that point.

I thought we can follow the progress of this book together. It is now listed on Amazon for pre-order, due out in October 2009. Soon, there will be a search for option. At that point, if I search my name and it appears, I can "almost" be certain I'm in the book. But until I receive a copy in my hands (author copy), I am never thoroughly convinced.

This is how publishing works...hurry up and wait. If I'm actually in the book, I will be offering a free copy to the first one who comments.

If that does not come through, I will be offering a "Divas Devotions to Go Christmas Book" due out in October as well...covering the 30 days of Christmas and mine will be December 24, 2009.

Lots of fun things for Christmas in June. I'll keep you posted!

Living Life Passionately,

P.S. When you're tempted to give up in the writing world, check out what other people are saying about the stories you have written. Some say that writing for anthologies does not make an impact on people because you're not the "author." I have a different theory on that: You are the author -- your work was published even though your name may not be on the outside cover. Gary Chapman's Love is a Verb is doing very well on Amazon.com. Read what one person wrote about my story, "Pulling Weeds on Blossom Trail."

There is still a lot of love left in this world and the proof is in the pages of Love is a Verb by Gary Chapman. This book is a collection of 40 stories shared by a variety of people who have experienced acts of true love in their lives. These stories will warm your heart and lift your soul. At the end of each story, Mr. Chapman has written the key points of the story and how we can apply these practices of love in our lives. This is a great book to either read from beginning to end or to just pick up and read a story or two when you just need a little pick-me-up. As I read through the stories in this book, I was given extra hope that there are still loving people out there and the world isn't as bad as the evening news tries to tell us it is. I think my favorite story was the one called "Pulling Weeds on Blossom Trail". I think we have all been in a situation at least once in our lives like the one told about in this story. If we just practice unconditional love, our lives will be much fuller and more joyful. I highly recommend this book. It will put a smile on your face and tears in your eyes. ~C. Kendall

Monday, June 15, 2009

Paris Memories


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Flag Day in Maytown, PA

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The Window

  Yesterday, I went on a photo shoot with a group of shutter bugs like myself in my hometown and this window caught my eye!

What's inside your window today?
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Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Letter

I opened up the letter in my mailbox that read, “Tammy Reid wants to see you in her office this afternoon.”

It was my freshman year at Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington and I had just finished my first of many essays for English Lit 101. The essays returned with more red marks than black, but there was a paragraph at the end of each essay that made me believe that I would pass the class and maybe even get an “A.”

In 1973, I was all about grades—the higher the better—after all, I was an overachiever, and a “B” was never good enough; in fact, it seemed like a failing grade to me. So when Tammy wanted to see me in her office, I couldn’t imagine what it was about.

I slipped the letter back in the envelope and headed to the Arts and Letters building where I spoke to the department head secretary. She smiled warmly and said, “Oh, yes, Connie! Tammy is expecting you.” My knees started to buckle and my heart raced. What could she possibly want from me?

Tammy greeted me with a mug of coffee in her hand and invited me to sit down on the sofa next to her desk. There were books everywhere, on shelves, on her desk, on the floor, and papers—lots of papers—with red marks, just like the ones I was used to seeing. Tammy settled back in her chair and handed me the essay, “Motorcycle Papa.” I had written it the week before.

I sat perched on the edge of the sofa and waited for her to speak first, “Connie, I don’t know what to say…this essay is… (and she stopped). Tears formed in her eyes and she grabbed a Kleenex from her desk. The lump in my throat prevented me from swallowing. It stayed there until Tammy finished her sentence. “You know, I’ve read a lot of essays, but this; well…”

I stared at her, then my paper, and watched as her tear-filled eyes started to sparkle again. I heaved a sigh of relief. It was good news she had to share—not something terrible as I had expected.

“I’m recommending that you change your major from health information management to English or journalism; you don’t belong in the sciences…you belong in the arts,” Tammy said emphatically.

I guess at age 18 I was too young to understand the significance of her words, but I simply said, “Thank you, but I don’t want to change majors.” At that moment, I saw the joy dissolve from Tammy's face. She put down my paper, crossed her hands, and said, “I certainly hope you will reconsider your decision.“

I walked out of her office relieved, bewildered, and confused. I never considered writing as a career, but something I did for “fun.” I wrote in diaries, journals, and entered competitions in high school, but that was something I thought of as a “hobby,” and certainly nothing I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Yesterday, I received “Whitworth Today” the publication that comes out four times a year from Whitworth College and in it were all the professors I had as a freshman: Tammy Reid, Leonard Oakland (Core 150 – Western Civ),and Clarence Simpson (who passed away on April 14; he was 93). The last of the greats have passed on or are retiring. Each had a special place in my life, but none more than Tammy Reid.

I wrote her a note today that started out, “I don’t think you will remember me, but…”

If I know Tammy, she will remember me. Certainly, after almost 36 years, I am beginning to understand what she meant about writing…it’s not a profession, it’s who you are. I think she will be happy to know that I found out who I am—finally!

Thanks, Tammy, for knowing me before I knew myself, and for instilling in me the passion for writing. Blessings on your retirement!

Living Life Passionately,

P.S. Is there someone from your past that you need to thank for the way they changed your life. It’s too late to thank Clarence Simpson (he passed away earlier this year), but I’m thankful I took the time today to write Tammy today. Don’t regret not taking the time!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Baby Shower!

It’s been a while since I have attended a baby shower, but on Sunday, June 7th, I spoke at St. Philip’s Church in Lancaster where the women of the church gathered together to celebrate the sanctity of life by honoring “A Woman’s Concern”—an agency that supports a mother’s decision to choose life. They are on the front lines saving babies and allowing mothers the privacy and counseling they need to make the most important decision they will ever make—to guard the life of their baby.

St. Philips Church opened up their doors to hold a baby shower luncheon with all the proceeds going to support “A Woman’s Concern.” I was amazed—shocked really—at the outpouring of gifts which included baby formula, clothes, blankets, diapers, and gift cards. The non-profit agency also accepts gently used clothing, strollers, baby carriers, and car seats.

As I sat in my chair surrounded by pinks, blues, yellow and green and enjoying a tastefully prepared lunch, I couldn’t help but think of the many mothers struggling with making a decision that would affect the rest of their life. And to know there is a place locally where she can receive help, counseling, and everything she would need to make the journey possible to bring a new life into the world.

I spoke on the “Seven Friends Every Woman Needs, “ but later I realized we can all be that friend to a young mother making a vital decision through our donations, our time, and volunteering. Just think if more churches became involved and held a baby shower each year for at risk moms?

It was a lovely afternoon with door prizes, great food, and wonderful pastries; I thought I was back in Paris!

I came to the event not knowing anyone, but left with the realization that if we all do a small part, it will make a huge difference.

I look forward to more baby showers in my future!

Living Life Passionately,

Thursday, June 04, 2009

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I found this cool program "Picasa" that organizes your photos and allows you to do fun things, like make collages!


Monday, June 01, 2009

Love Bug

After being in Paris for ten days, I noticed outward displays of affection at every turn: at street side cafes, on the metro, in the park, and in museums. It’s as if springtime in Paris brought out the love bug in everyone. So when I returned on Friday, I made a date with my hubby to take me to my favorite place -- the Hershey Hotel. We dined al fresco on the terrace, sharing a Margarita pizza and Cobb salad. And then it started…one limo, then two, then three…

The once quiet space was filled to capacity with men in tuxes and women in evening gowns; it looked like a night at the Oscars. To escape the clatter, we took a walk in the gardens and that’s when we spotted a timid bride posing for the camera with her groom. The photographer finally decided to let the nuptials dance together to help them appear more natural. And then it happened…

The groom stepped on the bride’s gown and there was a loud ripping sound. Mark and I were stunned at what happened next. The bride shoved the cascading bouquet of white roses into the groom’s face and yelled, “Look what you’ve done; you’ve ruined everything!” The verbal bantering went on for several minutes while the groom tried to make amends, but the bride kept her distance (literally!). Finally, the groom picked up the rest of her gown and gingerly walked behind her -- making sure to keep a comfortable distance between them.

My hubby whispered in my ear, “I wonder what’s going to happen when something really tragic happens?”

It was an unfortunate incident -- an accident -- and yet it changed everything. The once timid bride became enraged and left the photographer and onlookers terrified at what might happen next. Not a great start for the young couple.

I couldn’t help but wonder how they will look back on the incident years from now. Hopefully, they can find the missing ingredient essential to every marriage—a little bit of humor!

And just maybe they will honeymoon in Paris and catch a little bit of the love “bug.”