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Friday, May 31, 2013

An Author in "Training" - "I hear that whistle blowin'...."

Just a couple quick notes:

1. The train reservations are made. A slight change of plan. I leave on Tuesday, June 18th, so if someone can find it in their heart to take me to Lafayette to the train station, I'd be forever grateful.

2. The "Angel in 'Training'" count now stands at 17! Welcome, (another) J.B., and D.A.! There's a funny thing. I was quoting Matthew 6 (he feeds the birds, and he'll feed you) and I was thinking about Elijah being fed by ravens. So, the first person who donated after the cost of the ticket was met knew they were donating for meals, and they have something "bird-like" about them! I think they know who they are.

OK, one more thing. You've been very patient, so here's another sample:

She sat on the edge of the rock, her feet just brushing the flowers and grass that grew around its base. She hadn't noticed while they had been walking—probably because of Shaddai's brightness—but something had happened to the bright sunlight. It had dimmed. Dusk had fallen. She felt the comfortable heat radiating from the sun-warmed stone surface where she sat, and noticed the pleasant contrast it made with the cool evening breeze. She looked back out across the meadow where they had walked, and found herself charmed by the sights and sounds of the evening. Only later would she learn the words to describe the scene.

The first stars of the evening were just beginning to twinkle into sight in the sky above them, while all across the meadow, thousands of fireflies created a constantly changing display of twinkling, earth-bound constellations. In the woods behind her, she could hear the soft, high pitched croaks of the tree frogs, and all across the meadow was the call-and-response song of the crickets.

Into the peace of the moment, reached the gentle, penetrating voice of Shaddai. "In the beginning, before there was time, before the sun burst into flame, before the earth was spoken—when there was only darkness, emptiness, nothingness—We were there; moving, nurturing."

"We?" The word flew from Eva's lips before she could stop it.

"Yes, We." Shaddai smiled softly. "Shaddai. The Three'd One. God."

For some while after He made the statement, Eva struggled to get her understanding around the thought that, although Shaddai was One, He was Three, but He was One. Finally, she decided that knowing him was more important than understanding all the complicated concepts, and she settled back into listening to the story of how earth came to be.

Shaddai told the story in pictures so vivid, Eva felt she was there, watching creation take place. She could see now, how Aidan could feel as though it was his story to tell, as though he were an eyewitness. In her mind's eye, Eva saw the oppressive darkness, then a burst of light. With the birth of light came also the birth of shadows, although she could not have said what the shadow-casters were. Not all the shadows were equal, as well, with some of the darkness soothing and restful, while in other places, the dark seemed looming, threatening. The picture closed, and Eva knew the first day of creation had come to an end.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

An Author in "Training" - Training at Home

So there I was sitting in the Anderson, Indiana, Red Lobster, thinking about this blog, and the upcoming trip (always about the upcoming trip). I was thinking to myself about how I want to document interesting people and highlight excellent service on my trip, and it suddenly struck me, there's absolutely nothing wrong with affirming excellent service at home, too!

So here's to Tim, our server tonight! He introduced himself to us by saying, "I'll be taking care of you, this evening." And that's exactly what he did. He was so attentive to my husband and me, you'd have thought he owned the restaurant, or we were having dinner in his home. The coffee and iced tea were promptly topped up, the menu suggestions were right on the money, and Tim put in an appearance to check on us just often enough.

At the end of our dinner, he wrote on the check, "It was truly a pleasure to serve you," and I believe it!

So, the next time you get hungry while traveling on I-69 near Anderson, Indiana, my recommendation is to get off the interstate at the Highway 9 exit, walk into the Red Lobster there on Highway 9, and asked if Tim is working. I don't have a last name, but he's tall, dark, and helpful—you can't miss him!

Thanks, Tim, for a very enjoyable dinner!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

An Author in "Train"ing - Third Serving

Posting another (shorter) excerpt today. If nobody has anything to say, then it may be the last one posted.

But in the middle of the meadow, in the very center, was a sight that took Eva’s breath away. There were two trees, standing side by side. One tree was barely as tall as Eva with gnarled trunk and branches, which bore half-hidden, nondescript fruit. Next to it stood the most beautiful tree she had ever seen, this one stood about two Aidans tall, with multiple trunks that fanned out from the base like a bouquet. The leaves were large and heavy, glossy and dark green, and their weight bowed the topmost branches down, so the tree looked like a giant living fountain. As she came closer to the tree, Eva could smell a flowery, fruity scent that was almost hypnotic, and she realized it was the fragrance of the tree, whose branches were overloaded with a crop at every stage of growth, from flower to ripe fruit.

Her eyes widened as she slowly approached the tree. Its flowers were iridescent: golden, with a pale blue shimmer in the bright daylight. The unripe fruit was pale yellow, with a modest pink blush. The ripe fruit, though, was what held her attention. It was a deep transparent red, with skin and flesh so clear, she could see the seed nestled in the center. Round and smooth, the perfect size to cradle in her hand, they dangled easily within her reach, glowing like living jewels in the late afternoon light.

The tree seemed to draw her, inviting her to know more, and she reached to pluck a ripe fruit as she took a step toward the tree. As if from far away, she heard Aidan calling to her.

“Eva, stop! That is the Tree of Knowing! It is not ours to enjoy! Stop!”

Soooo, let me know what you think. Anyone? Anyone?

Monday, May 27, 2013

An Author in "Train"ing - Angel Roll Call

OK, I think it's time for another Angel in "Training" roll call/thank you. There are fifteen angels now, so "Thank you!" to:

G.O., S.M., L.W., A.H., C.C., K.L., A.F., M.H., T.G., M.A.T., K.O., J.B., P.T., D.R., and  (the other) T.G.!

If you have given, or told me you were going to, and you don't see your initials here, please contact me--I may have forgotten to write you down. Some of you later arriving angels may not be aware that I have some plans to show my appreciation more publicly and/or tangibly.

If you don't understand what I'm talking about, go back to "The Adventure Begins"

And now, another excerpt from Serpentine:

Eva had never experienced sleep, and it  had crept upon her unrecognized. Her first awareness of it came as she awoke, and her inarticulate thought was that she was experiencing again the first moments of her life. She turned toward Aidan, expecting to find him watching her. What she saw instead was her mate, sleeping. He lay on his back with his hands behind his head, his chest rising and falling with each breath. His eyes were closed, and he smiled faintly in his sleep. Intrigued by his closed eyes, Eva reached out with one fingertip and gently stroked the lowered lids, ruffling the dark lashes. It must have tickled, because Aidan twitched and snorted, startling Eva in the process. He stretched and looked around, reorienting himself.

“Did you sleep?”

His words had no meaning for her, and she stared blankly at him, trying to decipher what he wanted. Aidan tried the question again, this time aided by an impromptu pantomime.

“Did you...” he pointed at her, “sleep?” He closed his eyes and mimicked sleep, curled up, with his cheek resting on his folded hands. He held the pose for a moment, then opened his eyes and tried the question once more. “Did you sleep, after....” His voice trailed off, at a loss to name the event.

The wordless reference to what had taken place between them stirred shared memories, and smiled at each other. Eva was lying on her belly in the soft grass, propped up on her elbows, while Aidan had rolled onto his side again: the same posture as when she had first seen him. Eva reached over and traced the length of his nose with her fingertip. She allowed her finger to trail down Aidan’s top lip, pause for a moment on his full lower lip, then trail on down his chin and neck until she came to his torso. She pressed her hand against his chest, spreading her fingers wide. Holding still, she could feel his heart beating against her palm.

“Hmmm....” She closed her eyes to focus on the rhythm.

“Ahh....” Aidan sighed contentedly.

Eva felt Aidan’s hand resting gently on her back, just below her shoulder blades. It glided along the furrow of her spine until it reached her hips. She sighed contentedly and relaxed even more, resting her head on her folded arms.

Urrr...gluck, gluck, gluck!

What was that? It didn’t sound like any animal she’d met so far! She looked at Aidan, who was watching her thoughtfully.


Eva felt as if her middle was twisting and turning in on itself. She placed her hand over the empty-feeling spot in the center of her torso, just in time to feel the vibrations made by the next sound.


Those noises were coming from her! It was her body making those sounds! Astounded, Eva stared down at her belly, then looked at Aidan with the question in her eyes, What’s happening to me? Sudden realization dawned on his face, and his mouth flew open.

“Oh, no! What was I thinking? You’re hungry!” He scrambled to his feet and held out his hand. “Come with me.”

She recognized the gesture now, and grabbed his strong brown hand. He tugged her to her feet, and immediately started briskly down a nearby trail, still holding her hand. Eva trotted along, trying to keep up, as all the while her midsection continued its odd monologue: Gurmmmm...blup. Blup. Blup. She wondered what this new word, “hungry,” meant, and why her middle felt all twisted.

Suddenly, the path widened, bursting from the shadowy canopy of the trees into an open, brightly lit meadow. Roughly circular in shape, it seemed to be divided into wedge-like portions. In each section was a different type of bush, and each bush appeared to be covered with small, brightly colored ornaments. Most of the decorations were round, or a cluster of smaller rounds. The late afternoon sun shining on the ornaments seemed to light them up with an internal glow in a wide variety of colors—flame-bright red, brilliant green, golden yellow, and a blue-purple so deep, it was almost black.

“Ooh,  Aidan! How beautiful!”

Eva clapped excitedly at the view before her. She was still exclaiming over the scene when Aidan plucked one of the ornaments and, to her surprise, popped it in her mouth! Her teeth instinctively closed on it, and she felt a burst of juicy sweetness, followed by a pleasant, subtle tanginess. It puckered her lips and squinted her eyes and she gulped, startled. The thing—”berry” said Aidan—slid down her throat and stopped at the twisting, turning spot in her middle, which gave another complaining growl. Aidan paused and grinned at her.

“Hungry,” he said. “Your stomach is hungry.” He picked a small handful of bright green berries. “Eat,” he told her, popping one into her mouth. “Eat. Eat. Eat.” He popped another berry into her mouth with each repetition of the word.

Eva chomped enthusiastically on her mouthful of berries, and was rewarded with a gush of tart juice, flooding her mouth and overflowing her lips to drip from her chin. She gulped rapidly: trying to keep up, trying to master the flow that threatened to make her cough and splutter. The delicious, fruity mass slid down her throat, settling in that hungry spot. Eva laid her hand on her belly again. The twisting and turning had stopped, and she could feel the food softening the loud, angry growls to quiet, contented rumbles.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

An Author in "Train'ing - Licking the Spoon

When you were little, did your mom let you lick the spoon when she was cooking or baking? I always wanted that little taste ahead of time. In some ways, it made the wait for the finished product a little easier (and a little harder). Well, today you get to "lick the spoon"!

I've been thinking about doing this for several days, at least, and it seems only fair. I'm asking all these people to believe in me and support me (emotionally and financially) and listen to my incessant chatter about "the novel, the novel, the novel" with nothing tangible in return. So here's a little something. Here's the spoon....


Her initial awareness—a drumming in the darkness. Her own heart beating for the first time. She sighed, returning the breath which she’d been given. Her lungs filled again, this time on their own. Warmth, life, spread from her core outward, down her arms and legs to her hands and feet, until even her fingers and toes tingled with life and sensation.

Her eyelids fluttered softly, but did not open, as she took in the tapestry of sound that nudged into her consciousness. The soft trickle of flowing water harmonized with a chorus of other sounds. Chirps, clicks, purrs, whinnies, and soft growls blended together in what sounded to her like a wordless hymn of thanksgiving. Then, in the symphony of voices, a new one, sweeter than all the rest.
“Eva.... Eva. Eva?”
A soft warmth brushed gently against her cheek. The tender touch seemed connected somehow to the voice. A desire to know more sparked inside her, and her eyes flickered open, taking in the first images of her world.
She was lying in a clearing surrounded by trees. Although evidently part of a young forest, it had an orchard-like quality, as if every tree were cared for individually. The clearing itself had a thick carpet of grass, and the soft, feathery blades cushioned her and brushed softly against her skin, providing even more sensory input to process.
From its starting point somewhere in the stand of trees, a small stream wandered melodically across the clearing, its soft gurgle and splash sounding like dozens of tiny, liquid voices, before it disappeared again—burbling away into the dimness of the forest on the opposite side of the clearing.
All around the perimeter, just inside the line of trees, were animals—sitting, standing, lying—all kinds of animals, and all in pairs. Stallion and mare, tom and tabby, ram and ewe, rooster and hen, each with its mate, and all with a wise, knowing look, as if they had just witnessed a miracle.
The dogs sat alert, with heads cocked quizzically, as if trying to puzzle out what had just happened. The horses nodded emphatically, seeming to agree that this was, indeed a good thing. The cats, being cats, busily groomed themselves, pretending disinterest. As she watched closely, though, she saw both cats repeatedly pause in their routine to flick a curious, sideways glance in her direction.
The voice which had fallen silent spoke again, and she felt the gentle touch again, this time brushing against her arm. She turned toward the sound....

So, did that make the anticipation better or worse? Will it make the wait harder or easier? How about you check back for another spoon on another day? What day? Hmm, I guess we'll just have to wait and see....

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

An Author in "Train"ing - Quick Update

Just a quick update. I'll write more later.

(drumroll, please)

I now have FOURTEEN Angels in "Train"ing! Thank you, JB, PT, and DR!

By the way, a bit of housekeeping. If you've offered to be an angel, please look for one of two things (probably both). I will either acknowledge you publicly by your initials, or thank you privately (phone, email, facebook). If you haven't heard from me one of those two ways, please contact me again. I have had one instance where the person sent me a message that they wanted to help, and I didn't find their message for almost a week!

And finally, WOOHOO! More than half way! I should make my reservations soon, before the trains fill up. I guess if I can trust God to provide several hundred dollars, I can trust him to provide a "chair"!

Monday, May 20, 2013

An Author in "Train"ing - Angel Honor Roll

Time to acknowledge my Angels in "Train"ing!! Thank you to GO, SM, LW, AH, CC, KL, AF, TG, MH, MAT,  and KO.  I think that's everybody.... With all the things swirling around in my head, I'm sooo afraid I'll forget someone and then they'll feel unappreciated. If you have said something about giving me money and you don't see your initials,  please contact me. I will apologize profusely and add your initials to the list.

One of my angels made a discovery the other day. You can email money! If you have a PayPal account, and so does the other person, you can go to your PayPal account and send whatever abount to the email account they have regisetered with PayPal. Within a matter of seconds, their PayPal account will register the 50¢ or $5 or $5 mil you gave them.

You know, I've really struggled with having angels (technically donors) pay for me to travel. But the purpose of the traveling is getting the book done and out there. But then I struggle with "Why it so important that MY book get out there?" A couple days ago, I felt led to go back and look at my book proposal again. Here's what I saw.

One of the things that is suggested when you write a book propossal is that you answer the question, "What is the take-away you hope for your readers to discover?" What I came up with for an answer helps, I think, to explain the importance of getting the story out there. I hope you'll see it, too.

I want my book to help my readers see that not only sin hurt the sinner and the one sinned against. Our sin has consequences for those around us, the bystanders we care about. The other thing that I think all too often we don't see is the wounding and loss that our sin inflicts on God. Sin isn't just about "getting in trouble with God." We were created to have a relationship with Him as his children, and our sin rips His children from His arms.

Now that's a message that needs to get out there!

So I keep telling the story of the story, anad the story of my quest. I have not asked anyone for money, and I WILL NOT DO SO. My part is to tell the story. God will prompt who He prompts.

To all you angels whom I don't see regularly.... I will be contacting you today with my contact info. If you'd like to try the PayPal route, let me know. When we tried it the other day, it went off without a hitch.

Here's an old song to follow you through your day....

Sunday, May 19, 2013

An Author in "Train"ing - They That Wait....

Just patiently waitiing for the next thing God's gonna do.

"Patience is not the ability to wait, it is the ability to have a good attitude while you wait."

The do-it-yourselfer in me wants to "do something"—to make something happen.  But renewal of strength is not promised to do-it-yourselfers. It is mentioned when the conversation is about waiting on God. So, I wait.

While I write, the song has come on:

All I know is I'm not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not whete I belong

So as I wait for my pitifully insignificant thing, this post is dedicated in honor of all my brothers and sisters who eagerly waiting to go Home, and in memory of my brothers and sisters who are already Home—with special love for Susan Riley. May God comfort you, as you patiently wait to see Gary again, and to see Jesus for the first time..

Yep, with examples like that...I can wait.

Friday, May 17, 2013

An Author in "Train"ing - Where Do You Want To Go?

I realized this morning that the travelling motif is very appropriate for a writer. Just as a traveler on a train, a writer has to know the station where they're starting. Also, like a traveler, they need to know where they want to be at the end. And it both cases, the knowledge of a starting point and an ending point will help determine the route to get there.

I've had that happen in the past few days. One of the questions I tried to answer in the book proposal was, "What do you want the take-away to be for your readers?" As I thought, I came to the conclusion that I want the reader to remember the widespread damage that sin does—not only to the sinner and the one directly sinned against, but the collateral damage as well. The choices we make affect those around us.

Most importantly, though, I think we forget what our sin does to God. We think God is untouchable. After all, He is all-powerful and all-knowing, right? What we forget, what I forgot until I saw myself write the words, is: "...the wounding and loss that the heart of God feels, when our sin separates Him from us. He created us to be His children, and our sin rips His children from His arms."

"...Rips His children from His arms." What an image. I went back and looked at my manuscript. Did it say what I wanted it to say? Did I arrive at the station I had planned to reach? When I looked at my arrival point, as compared with my desired destination, I realized I still had a little further to travel. I rewrote one section. I think the message is much stronger now.

The moral of today's blog post: 

In writing or in life, if you don't know where you're going, how will you know when you get there?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

An Author in "Train"ing - Hello, It's Me, Again

The donation count now stands at ELEVEN!

And I've met someone who has traveled a part of my route, and is happy to advise me.

Stay tuned....

The Mama's Prayer

Dear God,

Thank you for this child.
Even though they about drove me nuts today,
They are a gift from you.

Lord, I tried to do my best today,
But I'm sure I screwed up somewhere.
Please make up the slack for me.

And when this child messes up,

Help me to remember
That even You, the Perfect Parent,
Have children who sometimes choose wrongly.

Thank you that Your mercies will be new again tomorrow morning.

I pray in the name of the only Perfect Child,
Your Son, Jesus.


An Author in "Train"ing - The Cares of This Life

One of the catchphrases in the business community is "work-life balance." In other words, knowing when to stop doing your job and start living the rest of your life for a few hours. Right now, I'm struggling with work-life balance. I feel like the daredevil kid from my playground days. You remember him, don't you—the one who stood on the pivot point of the seesaw while two other kids were riding, and attempted to keep his balance, leaning one way, then the other, as first one rider, then the other shot quickly up, stopped with a jolt, and sank back down.

For starters, how do I define the line between work and play? I love what I do. Writing brings me a  satisfaction and a joy unlike anything else. But if I like it that much, doesn't that make it play? If  it's play, then do I have to stop? If I stop "play-working," what do I do instead, for balance? Something I dislike? Mucking out stables?

Line-drawing is particularly difficult right now, with planning for the trip. I'm so excited, I want to talk about it all the time! But then, when do I do everything else? Plus, right now, just about everything is exciting! Laundry? = I need to decide what to pack. Houscleaning? = I really want the mess around here to leave before I do. Cooking? = I need to make sure I have enough to eat on the trip. Eating? = Maybe I should take snacks with me. Driving? = .... Well, you get the picture.

Ahh.... There's the work-life balance issue for me! I need to be careful not to get so caught up in the peripherals of the trip that I forget the reason for the trip—writing, finishing my book. And I need to be careful not to get so caught up in writing that I forget Who I'm writing for.

So here I stand, the daredevil kid, standing at the pivot point—leaning, shifting, teetering, balancing, tilting wildly with arms flailing—and having the time of my life!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Author in "Train"ing - More Good News

I am now at TEN donations! and all without asking for a dime! Whoohoo! Looks like I'd better start making a packing list!

More info when it comes in....

Author in "Train"ing - The Adventure Continues

It's now day two of the Author in "Train" ing venture. When we last left our heroine, she had 4 donors, and a book proposal that was nearing completion....

Today, I have good news and good news. First, the good news. The book proposal was emailed out bright and early this morning—all 61 pages. 😱 I don't like doing book proposals. I think they are the root canals of the writing world. Have I mentioned that I don't like doing book proposals? But that one is done. Now we watch (the inbox) and pray, as we patiently wait. *paces and drums fingers on table*

And the (other) good news is...I now have 9 donations! I'm over a third of the way there! Yaaaay!

Now I'm going to go have lunch with my friend, Tina.

TTFN (ta-ta for now - Tigger)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Author in "Train"ing - the Adventure Begins

OK, so I've got this manuscript I need to finish. I need time. I also need acccess to the "three 'S's" when I want them. What are those? Socialization. Solitude. And snacks, of course. I found a lot of places that offered two, but all three? It seemed like the impossible dream. Then I found the answer...become an Author in "Train"ing! I'm going to write while I ride the train!

Here's the plan....  About a month from now, I'll be getting on a train in Chicago. Then, for the following 7-10 days, I'll be seeing America by rail! Sometime during the last two weeks of June, if you live along a route between Chicago and Seattle, or between Chicago and L.A., or between L.A. and Seattle, I may be passing in your vicinity. Crazy, you say?  Quite possibly, but it's a harmless, fun kind of crazy—also known as eccentric. It'll give us all something to talk about.

Why am I telling you all of this? To facilitate your involvement, of course! How can you be involved? Let me explain:

1.  During my time as an Author in "Train"ing, I'll be blogging. If I meet someone interesting, I'll blog it. If I get severely motion-sick, you'll hear about it. If I find myself in awe of the beauty I see out the window, I'll try to describe it so you can see it, too. TEASER ALERT: There's a good possibility that I may post excerpts from the novel!

2.  As a travel my yet-to-be-unveiled route, I will post in advance the times and locations where the train will be stopping, hopefully, 24 to 48 hours in advance. That way, if you want, you can stop by to say "hi," or interview the eccentric writer, or bring me homemade cookies! Seriously, though, if you live anywhere near the route and you want to meet me at the station, I'd love for you to. All I ask is, if your station is a middle-of-the-night stop, give me a little advance warning (let's say before sundown) so i can be awake to greet you.

3.  The whole initial purpose, if you recall, was to get my book finished. My set-in-stone deadline is June 30, but ideally, I'd like to finish it a few days earlier, while I'm still "in 'train'ing" and have less interruptions than at home. I'll be trying to blog each day, if I have internet access, and plan on including on my progress with the novel, each time I post—a chapter finished, a current word count, possibly even an excerpt now and then!

4.  Here's the most eccentric of all.... You can invest in the book—literally! Here's what I mean. When I first started looking at this idea, it felt cost-prohibitive. Granted, it's not that much, but as a writer, my income is sporadic, and my husband's  goes pretty much to cover the basics of life. But the train kept calling to me, and while I was puzzling how to afford the whole thing, the thought came to me.... If I can find 25 people who would each give me $25, I'd have enough! That doesn't seem so hard, does it?

So far it hasn't been! In less  than 24 hours, I have 4 donors pledged. (Thanks, G.O., S.M., L.W., and A.H. you're all angels!)  Obviously, I want to find a way to say "thank you," so here's what I'm thinking. Out of all my donors,  I'll hold a drawing (done by an employee on the train). First prize will be an autographed copy of the book, when it's published. Second prize, an e-copy of the book. Third place will be a collection of my short stories, or The Metamorphs children's story. And everyone who gives will be included in the acknowledgements of the book, in a special thank you section, exclusively for "Angels in 'Train'ing."

So. there you have it. If you decide to help me out, I can't promise you fiscal accountability, except my own integrity, but I can promise financial responsibility. If you're interested, or have questions, or want to donate, feel free to leave a comment here, with your contact info, and I'll get back to you. The comments are moderated, so it won't be broadcast on the internet.

Well, I guess that's about it for now. I look forward to having you join me on my adventure as an Author in "Training"!