I’m sitting here writing in my journal asking God for help building my new web site and starting my newsletter. Can I do it? Yes. Do I want to do it? No. But, like with a lot of other things, I know with God’s help I can. I don’t know why I haven’t specifically asked him before for help with this. My best answer is I didn’t think of it. But why didn’t I think of it?
Why don’t I turn to God for guidance for every single thing in my life? Why do I believe I can do even the smallest things on my own? Because I can. But am I doing the right thing? The thing God wants me to do? Or am I making up my own mind and taking action without consulting Him? Of course I am. Then I wonder why my ideas don’t always work out very well.
God has helped me with tiny things, like finding lost files and with big things like how to handle tragedy. Why can’t I remember that God is always there for me? That he doesn’t change? That he cares and wants what is best for me? Why do I put so much faith in people when years of experience on earth have shown me that people will let me down whether they mean to or not?
I don’t know why I can’t get into the habit of asking for God’s help first instead of screwing it up on my own and then asking Him to help me fix it.
And I don’t know why, probably because God is at work, but I’m going to leave you with this:
YOU ARE CHRIST’S HANDS
God has no body now on earth but yours,
No hands but yours,
No feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which he is to look out
God’s compassion to the world;
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.
At my aunt Maxine’s funeral one my favorite hymns, Here I Am Lord was played along with How Great Thou Art and Amazing Grace. Combined with Scripture readings focusing on Fruits of the Spirit, we did our best to convey the woman Maxine was and the kind of life she lived.
“I will go Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart” seemed to be the words that Maxine lived by even though she never left her hometown. My brother Steve, who lives nearby watched over her the last year and a half of her life and was with her at the end. He and I had several conversations about Maxine and her choices and what she taught us.
Maxine lived simply. She was a frugal soul, having grown up on a farm during the Great Depression. My father used to joke that Maxine had the first nickel she ever made. She accumulated wealth, but didn’t quite seem to believe that she had. She never wanted to go anywhere. Steve believed she’d seen enough of the world outside the small town where she lived her whole life and had realized long ago that there was nothing better for her out there.
She worked, attended church, got involved in her community and took care of her friends and family. Based on things Maxine wrote, she believed that was her purpose in life.
Some may say it was a small life. Our society has a way of making us think we have to make our mark on the world in some big way. We hunger after fame and fortune but in the end those things are worthless. What will count are the lives we touched, the example we set.
Maxine’s answer to “What brings happiness?”
“Peace of mind. Love of friends and family.”
When asked, “What is the meaning of life?” Maxine replied, “To me life means being happy with a good outlook, seeing the best in people, being friendly to everyone, helping those you can, keeping close to God and living the life he intended for me.”
Those individuals who have what they want, the fame, the fortune, the followers, the careers, the influence, are some of the most unhappy, self-destructive, discontented people on the planet. Perhaps that’s because they weren’t meant to have any of what they spent their lives acquiring.
I will always believe Maxine had it right. This, it seems to me, is the key to contentment: Living the life God intended for you.
Dear God, Please tell me which is best path to take: Re Samhain contracts: Leave Cleo & Animal w/Samhain until deal is done or not done? Pros: Assuming they still publish it: No cost to me. (Is this about money?) Cons: Delay in publishing. (But could I do it any faster?) Cost to me for editing & cover. Will probably have a different editor. May be better. May be worse. So I could do everything Samhain did on my own. Plus I’d have control – complete control over cover and price. And I could put the book out probably faster than whatever Samhain’s new deal will. But will I? I’m still sitting on Cool Beans a year after I got the cover done. Why? What’s stopping me? I need to get over my reluctance of the process. Make myself do it. Learn it. God, please help me get over my aversion to all things technical! Meanwhile I started revising The Color of Nothing and White Roses In Winter. Have cover ideas for both. Editing? Maybe. Do I want to put that much $$ into them? I said I’d never put out unedited work. Did I mean it? Best option right now? God? Please weigh in.
1)Finish read through of The Color of Nothing
1)Finish Cool Beans
1)Re-access where I am w/Samhain
a)If no deal yet ask for rights back (again)
b)If deal goes forward w/books there wait & see what happens
1) Finish revising White Roses in Winter
Today – Upload new blurb for The Forbidden Bean
ALL OF THE ABOVEI wrote this morning. I received an email from Samhain’s publisher just now that clarifies where things stand and tells me what I needed to know. In less than six hours God has provided an answer to all of my questions. He’s helped me clarify my goals. Helped me lay out a plan.
And in case you’re wondering I did upload that new blurb for The Forbidden Bean. And I’ve been editing The Color of Nothing most of the morning.
Without giving you my entire church-going and recent non-attendance history, let me just say I haven’t been to church in quite awhile except on rare occasions. But today I went to church.
Not the church of my childhood and not a church I’d ever been to before, either. A non-denominational church I read about in the local newspaper a few weeks ago.
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. It’s so easy to allow yourself to get into a rut and it may be a rut you’ll never get yourself out of.
I’m lazy. I’m not a joiner. Been there. Done that. Don’t feel I’m particularly good in groups. But I yearn to be inspired, to do something different, to be somewhere else on a Sunday morning instead of in bed with my coffee and my laptop or journal.
This morning a little voice whispered in my ear, “Go to church.” So to this particular church I went.
One of the people who greeted me was a long-time customer from my day job. A young woman came and introduced herself after I found a seat in the back where I could observe the proceedings. When she stopped to chat with the two young ladies sitting nearby I realized I had recently worked with one of them and said hello to her. Another young lady came and sat next to me and introduced herself and we chatted for a bit as the seats filled up. The music began and I thought I recognized another coworker up there singing. Although the music was much too loud for my elderly ears, the rest of the service was interesting, stimulating and at times, inspiring.
I’d never before seen portable Communion (that’s not what they called it) but it was a wafer and a tiny cup of (wine? grape juice?) in pre-packaged form which we all shared in remembrance of Jesus’s sacrifice for us.
I wish I could remember more of the pastor’s talk. I hesitate to use the word “sermon” because that’s not what it felt like to me. He’s young, dynamic, dressed in a tee shirt and jeans, relating 1Samuel: 3 into something that might be useful in today’s world. Which made me think of a hymn I loved when I used to attend church regularly. “Here I Am Lord.” Listening when God speaks to you and being open to doing His work. The pastor talked about timing which made me wonder if all the projects I wanted to put forward but never did might have been because the time wasn’t right.
The service ran for an hour and fifteen minutes. I didn’t have a watch or a phone with me, but it made me realize how in the church of my childhood I couldn’t wait for the service to be over. I rarely felt inspired by anything I heard there. Can’t recall the last time anyone introduced themselves or made me feel welcome when I arrived. Nor can I remember the last time a sermon was of any help to me once I left and returned to my every day routine.
Is this the church for me? I’m not sure. But I’m inclined to bring along a pair of earplugs and go back again. Because I need something I haven’t been getting. And if I don’t look for it, I’ll ever find it.
When I lose things I ask God to help me find them. And He always does.
Case in point: Earlier this week I couldn’t find my Bank of America zipper bank bag. In it I keep my booksigning cash, my booksigning pens and my Square credit card device.
After every booksigning event, the bag goes into the second drawer of the desk in the living room. That’s where I’ve always kept it. But on this day when I opened the drawer it wasn’t there.
Initially, I didn’t panic. I looked in other places I thought it might be. The big plastic container that holds all my booksigning table stuff: tablecloth, book stands, poster, decorations, bags, etc.
When it wasn’t there, I sifted through a few piles of new book-related things on the guest room bed. Nope.
Then I began in earnest searching through my desk, my file drawers, cabinets, every drawer and nook and cranny I could think I might have put it.
I’ve always been a bit of a flake but as I’ve aged my memory’s gotten worse and I have been known to quite often hide things from myself. I always think I’m so clever and that I’ll remember that I put that there. But I never do. And sometimes I space out entirely and stow things in completely inappropriate places.
But in this case, I had no clue what I’d done with that bag.
My husband joined in the search, even looking in my car and backtracking over where I’d already looked
Finally, I gave up. I could remember specifically the last time I’d seen the bag and why. Several weeks ago a neighbor wanted to use her charge card to buy a book. But after that incident…nothing.
So I did what I always do. I informed God I’d need His help to find it. “Please, God. I know it’s here somewhere. Please help me find it.” But I couldn’t quite give up the search. I could almost hear him saying, “You either trust me or you don’t.” So I stopped looking. After checking just a couple more places…
My husband says, “You’ll be at work this afternoon and you’ll suddenly remember.” Maybe so.
Before I left for work, though, I asked Bill if he’d looked in the glove compartment of my car. He hadn’t. I went out to my car, opened the back door and searched under the driver’s seat. And found the bag. With everything, including the cash, inside.
That’s when I remembered meeting a friend who’s doing some work for me and bringing some of my books along to display on the table in the café. (Free publicity, right?) And just in case someone wanted to buy a book, I’d put my booksigning money/charge card kit in my car in case I needed it. (I didn’t.)
When I’m at home, I don’t generally lock my car, even at night. And, because I’m a bit of a flake, sometimes I forget to lock it when I’m out and about. Why did I look in the back seat and reach under the front seat when I’d just mentioned the glove compartment? I’ll give you three guesses.
Next time you lose something, no matter what it is, even if it’s your faith, ask God to help you find it. He’ll never let you down.
Since 2003 I have worked for a global coffee company. The benefits (like reasonably priced health insurance) are good and I get all the free coffee I want. Mostly I brew coffee and take orders and make lattes. I don’t work full-time, it’s not a hard job and it suits me.
But lately I’ve been re-evaluating my life choices. This started when a customer told us we had an issue in our restroom that needed to be dealt with. I had been in the restroom earlier and noticed a rather unpleasant odor, but that is not unusual. I often wonder what goes on in there.
But this particular afternoon, there was a bit of a lull and since no one else volunteered, I decided to see what was going on in the restroom, a decision I will regret for the rest of my life. Because what had happened in the restroom was that someone had shit on the floor. On purpose. Behind the trash can. Then the trash can had been moved which smeared the poop across the floor and onto the bottom of the trash can.
Gross and disgusting does not begin to cover it. And guess who got to clean it up? I don’t suppose I had to, but my philosophy is, once your child has thrown up in your hand, not much grosses you out. But this came pretty damn close.
So I’ve got a mop bucket and restroom cleaner and gloves and the whole time I’m literally cleaning up someone else’s shit I’m wondering where I went so horribly wrong on my life’s path that this is what I’m doing now. I’m also thanking God that our delightful guest didn’t decide to smear the gift across the walls.
Seriously, who does this? What is wrong with people? For future reference, if you’re unhappy with your drink, we’ll remake it at no charge. We do it all the time. We get enough figurative shit from the general public on a regular basis. There’s no need to leave the real thing on the bathroom floor.
So the shit gets cleaned and eventually we all have a good laugh about it and I get a pat-on-the-back award from the shift supervisor with a note that says, “Thanks for cleaning up the shit around here.” Har har.
Then the next day I find out my publisher is going out of business.
There aren’t quite words to express how that felt. Disappointment. Sadness. Frustration. I just can’t seem to catch a break. And I seriously have to wonder how I ended up where I am. At the proverbial fork in the road, did I choose the wrong path? Because these days that’s how it feels.
Should I just stop writing? My books don’t sell in big numbers. It’s been an uphill battle ever since I sat down to write a novel oh so many years ago. Maybe I wasn’t meant to do what I’m doing at all.
Except when I mention this to two friends, both of whom formerly worked with me slinging lattes and one of whom is now my marketing guide, I was reminded of a blog I just wrote about how hiding your talent under a basket is dishonoring God and the gift He gave you. I swear as I was sitting there talking about that blog it was like God saying of course you can’t stop writing. No matter how much shit gets thrown at you. (I’m paraphrasing, of course.) And then He said, “I’ll help you shovel.”
“No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone…” –Matthew 15, 16
Sometimes as an author I question what I’m doing. I don’t know why I’m led (or inclined) to write what I write. I don’t know why it isn’t more widely received, more popular, selling better. I constantly ask, “Does anyone know I’m here? Does anyone care about what I’m doing (besides me)?”
Recently I had the thought that to hide one’s talent is to dishonor God. God is my muse, my inspiration. (I figure that’s where that thought came from.) Every bit of talent or ability in anything (and yes that includes writing romance novels) comes from him. That’s what I believe. That’s what I thank Him for every day.
I know just enough of the Bible to be dangerous and I know the quote above is referencing sharing your faith with others and not hiding it under a basket, but I believe the same is true of every gift God gave us. Whether it’s writing or cake decorating or creating a latte. It’s whatever gift God gave you in particular. What makes you special. Whatever talent you have. That could be creative thinking or problem solving. Or photography. There’s something you do that’s unique and special and you shouldn’t hide it from the world. Nor should you fear criticism from others because most likely they simply don’t understand the concept and haven’t found their special gift yet.
But whatever your gift is, God expects you to put the best of it out there, to share it with the universe. Not perfection, because that is impossible in this life. Just your best. That’s when your light will shine.
(My internet search for the Bible verse I wanted also led me here:)
Do you think God doesn’t listen to you? Maybe you’re not listening to God.
Do you think He’s not answering your prayers or helping you with your problems? Maybe His answers just can’t get through all the noise and obstacles you’ve created.
I find my car is a good place to pray. I often work very early in the morning. It’s dark and quiet and there’s little traffic. It’s peaceful. It isn’t a long drive to work, but it’s long enough for my prayer ritual.
The drive home is very different. The sun’s usually out. There’s lots more traffic. I watch the inattentive drivers. They text at the stoplights. Their heads are down and they miss when the light turns green to the annoyance of everyone behind them. Or they’re talking on a cell phone. Music is blasting from their speakers.
Not that I never listen to music when I drive, but often I turn my radio off. Rarely am I on my phone. I like the quiet. I think that’s an opening for God to give me ideas. It could be any random thing. A kindness I could do. A reminder of something I forgot. Writing inspiration. Another nudge to do something I’ve been resisting.
There are so many sad and frustrated people out there in the world. I’m sure they think God has abandoned them or that He doesn’t listen to or care about them. But maybe it’s just that they’ve filled up their world with so much noise and activity that He can’t get through to them.
We’ve created a go-go-go environment for ourselves. If we aren’t doing something every waking moment, we’re doing something wrong and we feel guilty. We fill our lives with cell phones and video games and music and television. Work and school and a million other activities that fill up our days and exhaust our energy. And maybe, for some of us, we fill up our lives with church-related activities. But are we really creating a relationship with God? When do we talk to Him? When do we listen to Him?
“Two days. Two fights with different book pirates. 2003 apparent illegal downloads of one of my $5 books. All this swashbuckling, I really need to start wearing puffy shirts and knee-high boots.” –from author Rosanna Leo’s FB post 9/5/15
Rosanna’s post made me think about book piracy, which I admit I haven’t done in a while even though I am quite sure my books are being pirated. There was a time, early in my career, when this upset me. I did send a few takedown notices to a few sites. I read about other authors’ experiences on various author discussion loops. I remember one in particular where an author targeted not only the site itself, but the advertisers like AT&T, alerting them that they were supporting an illegal endeavor.
I admire anyone willing to fight the good fight against wrongdoers. Piracy is theft. Pirates can justify it however they want, but they are stealing what doesn’t belong to them and what they didn’t pay for.
If I thought that spending hours of my time pursuing every site that pirated my books or those by any of my fellow authors, sending takedown notices and then following up would make a difference, maybe I would be more inclined to do it on a regular basis. But, as other authors have noted in the past, trying to stop these thieves in our digital world is like playing a game of Whac-A-Mole. I always hated that game.
There is a conventional wisdom out there that says the individuals who illegally download books wouldn’t have purchased them anyway. That’s a lovely justification and I suppose it’s supposed to make ripped-off authors feel better about having their books pirated. There’s another mentality that says if publishers would just offer everyone’s books at an affordable price, no one would be pirating them. Is anyone seriously buying these “arguments?” If a book’s ebook price is too much for me, here’s my solution: I don’t buy it. Heck, I think some of my books might be priced too high. But I’d rather readers didn’t buy them as opposed to stealing them. Or…here’s an idea: ask your local library to order both the print and digital versions! Didn’t you know you could do that?
I am surprised that some brilliant techie guru has not figured out a way to insert some kind of programming into ebooks to keep them from being so easily stolen. Are there no Bill Gates wannabes out there? Is it not possible to plant a little worm in ebooks that creates gobbledy-gook of the work for an illegal downloader (or worse)? We can’t put some kind of digital pin in them like those annoying things retailers use in clothes that require a special device to remove them in order to avoid the alarm at the exit? I like that idea. A pirate or illegal downloader gets a high-pitched whining alarm from their device until they manage to delete whatever they’ve obtained illegally.
Everything in life can be fixed (except death). Where there’s a will, there’s a way. But until the united numbers of…authors? Publishing houses? Ebook retailers? decide piracy is a cause to put their will and their money behind, nothing will change.
Pirates are not only downloading books. They are illegally downloading music, movies and games (and God knows what else) as well. Is the price too high when the average three-and-a-half-minute song sells for $1.29 on iTunes? 37 cents per minute. Let’s say a 90-minute movie sells for $10. Eleven cents per minute. And one of my 60,000-word novels that take about three hours to read sell for $5.50. Three cents per minute. I guess that debunks the argument that ebooks are too expensive. They’re the best digital entertainment bargain available. To think that someone is too cheap to pay three cents a minute to enjoy my book is insulting and disrespectful. Not that I have any respect for these ahem, “readers.”
It’s so pitiful to think of these pirates who never developed enough to create something of their very own.
Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much. ~ Oscar Wilde
We’ve created an amoral, instant-gratification world and we now believe we shouldn’t have to wait (or pay) for anything we want.
I am not a bestselling author with a plethora of assistants, public relations firms and attorneys at my beck and call. Just keeping my web site up and running is a challenge for me, as is every other business aspect of managing my writing career. Now I should chase after criminals on the internet? Maybe as a storyline in one of my books but this is not happening in my real life.
What I want to do is write. That’s all I ever wanted to do. Create stories. Share them with (preferably paying) readers, because yes, it would be nice if I could make money doing what I love. If I could cut out everything else I’m expected to do as an author, I would. Because the “everything else” I’m expected to do is the very thing that drains my creative juices. And so, for the most part, I don’t do those things.
I believe in two things that help me be at peace with my choices. God and karma. Talent comes from God. As does inspiration, creativity, people who are put in your path to help you find your way, along with your gut decision-making instincts. I don’t for one second think that those individuals engaging in book piracy (or any other piracy for that matter) don’t know that what they’re doing is wrong. If someone is stealing my God-given creative endeavor, they are stealing from God. And I am more than willing to let God deal with them in His own way and in His own time.
Years ago I read The Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss. I then went on to legally purchase 🙂 and read many more of her wonderful books. But one of the many things that stuck with me was what she said about what each of us is put on earth to uniquely create. We should then put our creations out into the universe and allow the universe to respond. Our work (the creation part) is done. We cannot control the response from the universe nor should we try.
Part of the universe is karma. You reap what you sow. We may not always be aware of it and maybe we can’t see it, but people eventually get what they deserve, and that’s a good thing. There are consequences for every action. Which reminds me of something else I fervently believe in: the power of prayer.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
–Matthew 5:43-45 New International Version (NIV)
Which leads me to wonder…are pirates targeting the authors of “Christian” books as well as the rest of us? What if anything are they doing about it? Imagine the power of the creative arts community as a whole engaged in prayer for pirates.
Perhaps I will create a prayer of protection from piracy to be included in my next book.
I shall sign off on this post as Pollyanna, as I’m sure that’s how my views will be received. I’m okay with that. Other authors and artists will feel differently and behave differently about this issue, and of course, that is their right. More power to them. Maybe someday I will feel differently about it.
Rosanna’s post did inspire (thank you Rosanna!) me to do a little research into the subject of book piracy as I created this blog. Below are the links I took a look at: