Reader Appreciation and the Power of Story

Let’s end June with a bit of fun!

I’ve been honored with a Reader Appreciation Award by author and blogger Michael Rupured. You really should read the wit and wisdom of his blog My Glass House. I’m not just saying that because I had the honor of editing two of his manuscripts: Until Thanksgiving, a wonderful work of romantic fiction, and his memoir Glass Houses, that illustrates in vivid color that it’s never too late to discover your truth and start again, and that in a crowded world it only takes a handful of the right people to shape a life. Michael’s a fabulous storyteller and his blog is an appetizer. The main course is coming.

Like Michael, I realize awards like these aren’t Pulitzers, but there are so many bloggers out there who write from the heart, write well, and tell stories of importance. We read each other’s entries, like them, share them, and support them. It’s hard to blog to change the world, but nothing says we can’t create a few ripples. I love and appreciate every award I’ve been given, and I try to pay it forward every chance I can.

Paying it forward is one of the stipulations of the Reader Appreciation Award – and you’ll find those recognitions below. I chose five individuals I’ve only begun following recently, and I hope you’ll check them out as well.

Having a little Q&A is one of the stipulations too. And again, like Michael said in his blog, if anyone wants to know anything about me, they just have to ask. But here we go…

1.   What is your favorite color?   Orange – from mimosas to sunsets to pumpkins. Construction barrels? Not so much.

2.  What is your favorite animal?   The South American Harpy Eagle. I saw one up close a few years ago…well, as close as one can get without becoming a snack…and I looked into its eyes. I understood at that moment why some cultures worship animals. Even in captivity, it radiated enormous power and dignity.

3. What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?   Regular ol’ brewed coffee with half & half.

4. Facebook or Twitter?  I don’t have a Twitter account…but I’m not sure Facebook is a favorite hangout anymore either. Mostly because they keep messing with a good thing. I keep in touch with friends and family around the world though, and that’s a good thing.

5. Favorite pattern?  The tartan of the Isle of Skye

6. Do you prefer getting or giving presents?  Giving! Especially when I can give one for no reason at all.

7. Favorite number?  139. Psalm 139 changed how I viewed myself – my physical self and my better self.

8.  Favorite day of the week?  Friday! There’s a whooole weekend ahead!

9. Favorite flower?   Any that are growing in wild abundance. Picking one favorite is tough. Sunflowers are high on the list, so are zinnias and bachelor buttons.

10. What is your passion?   Storytelling. I enjoy sharing stories – verbally and in writing. I love helping other people tell their stories as well, whether it’s set on another planet or in their own backyard. Not everyone will have a best-seller that’s optioned to Lucasfilms or Warner Brothers…

But that does not make the story any less important. I had a memoir writing instructor tell me once, “Because you remembered, it deserves to be told.” The same could apply to fiction – because you imagined it, it deserves to be told.

On that note, I have five blog nominees to share…and a special kudo for a young writer who turned her NaNoWriMo effort into her first book at the age of eleven.

My fellow bloggers:

And a special Reader Appreciation Award for Hannah F., whose book Woodlands Fight will soon be available on CreateSpace. I know I appreciated being able to read it! And I know you have an excellent future ahead of you!

Write like your heart’s on fire…


The “Ghostwriter”

Text from Gospel of John 14,6 Русский: Текст Е...

Text from Gospel of John 14,6 Русский: Текст Евангелия от Иоанна 14,6 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been invisible for more than a month and I’m not proud of that. It’s incredibly frustrating…like watching grass go dormant during a drought. It’s not a creative drought though – quite the opposite. I’ve had tons of ideas. Time, on the other hand, has been elusive.

Parenting, writing, editing, consulting, teaching, ministering, and evolving all take time. So do eating, sleeping, driving, and plain old waiting. I try to wait effectively: I edit while I wait for choir practice to end; I write while I wait at soccer practice; I outline in my head while I wait at the red lights. I get the bird and a few loud horns when the light turns green and I’m still rearranging scenes in my head.

When you’re a writer, a creative, there’s so much to take in around you and so much to send back out.  Stuff gets inside you, whips around, shakes you up, and changes your perspective. As the Johnny Clegg tune says, it’s a “cruel, crazy, beautiful world” and the sources of inspiration are endless.

Over the last four or five weeks, these inspirations all caught my attention like sparkly objects in the water:

  • The uniqueness of the Gospel of John, and seeing what sets him apart from Matthew, Mark, and Luke as a writer
  • The Wings of the Morning aviation ministry in the Democratic Republic of Congo (more on that in a future post)
  • All the amazing writers – the published and those still in there swinging – I met at the Western Reserve Writers Conference in Cleveland
  • Bird life in my backyard
  • An exciting blog called FullOn365 by the amazing Ana Neff (I can’t recommend it enough, along with her life-calling as a Ziji mentor. What’s Ziji? Well, you’ll just have to check it out!)

What really got me moving from “shoulds” to “oh-just-do-it-already!” was a recent post from Thoughts on Theatre called “Why We Write”.

She celebrates her 100th blog post reflecting on what she’s learned as a blogger. So as I sit here completing my 50th entry, I’m reflecting on her insights, and thinking how I can apply them to build a better blog and remain consistent.

The one that spoke to me the most was “Small Messages are often the Best Ones”, which reminded me that not every post needs to be an epic work of art. We don’t always have literary genius inside us. Sometimes it’s just a quirky little observation like “Huh. Guess what I learned today…”

The next idea that pushed me to try and get my groove back was “There are Few Things Better than a Good Laugh”. True that. There’s plenty of Serious out there. But whether it’s a full-out belly laugh or just a grin, we could all use a little more levity.

The third lesson on her list was “Keep Going”…and I’m going to quote her directly on this:

“No matter what. Life will pop up with it’s surprises both large and small, but let them push you forward instead of hold you back.”

I’d say that not only applies to consistent blogging, but living. Move forward, not backward.

In the spirit of moving forward, here’s an update on my Word of the Year progress:

  • Attended the Belly Flea Agora with my friends Jen and Craig, which reminded me just how magical dance can be
  • Purchased two exquisite hip scarves at said event, which was part dance show and part Moroccan bazaar
  • Landed a part time job as a copywriter, returning to a former employer (more on that in another post)
  • Submitted a 441-word story to NPR’s Three-Minute Fiction competition for Round 8. I pat myself on the back for completing and submitting a story, regardless of win-place-show or honorable mention
  • On the books to teach FOUR classes this summer at Owens Community College (look for more on that soon, too)
  • My first paintball experience – I discovered I have sniper tendencies. I’m like a paintball ninja!

I think if I’ve learned anything in 50 posts – and in life in general – it’s not enough to read about what other people are doing here in the blogosphere. You have to BE. You have to DO.

So get out there and have some fun – then tell me all about it!

What’s New, Sunshine?

sun

Image by Graela via Flickr

I Face the Sun turned one year old on January 24th! It’s been a humbling, gratifying year in the blogging world. I’ve “met” some wonderful, creative people from all around the world – people who live colorful, chaotic, and extraordinary lives and make us all a little better informed and lighter of spirit because they choose to share their stories. Thank you to everyone who follows, likes, and posts!

Like I said on my About page a year ago, I’m subscribing to  Indiana Jones’ philosophy: “I dunno. I’m making this up as I go.” Many blogs are more focused than mine, but I decided not to pigeonhole myself. I’m still finding my way, but it’s becoming clearer. I suspect that 2012 will be a year of evolution, revelation, and transition – not just for blogging but on many fronts. I’m going to roll with it.

I’d thought about arranging some kind of “giveaway” to celebrate the new year and the anniversary of my blog, but from the get-go I didn’t really want this blog to be chained to my profession as an editor, consultant, and instructor. My love of writing bridges profession and avocation, but I want this to be fun. I worried that if I tried too hard to post because I “should,” then it would cease to be fun and I’d stop doing it all together.

There might be a few minor changes to the look of I Face the Sun, but overall things will stay the same.

More changes are afoot on my professional site. I’m working with Baker Lawley at Catfish Parade, and he’s doing a great job! He’s been very patient with my crazy ideas and I can’t wait for the final product. I attempted to illustrate the wallpaper for the site. It didn’t work, but I had fun getting in touch with my inner artist, who’s been asleep for a decade or so. It was worth the experiment.

Earlier this month, I selected a Word of the Year for 2012. That word was New. I wanted to seek out new things, new opportunities, new experiences, that fed my heart, soul, and creativity.

What’s new so far?

  • I bought a car. Not something I’d planned to do, and it’s not new new, but it’s new to me. And different from anything I’ve ever owned.
  • I Cleaned my Mac. I’d been dreading it, but it was quite painless!
  • New web site forthcoming.
  • New (and renewed) friendships. It’s amazing what can happen if you speak honestly and gently from the heart.
  • New experiences, including sharing my family history and genealogy experiences with the students at my daughters’ schools and assisting with Vespers services at one of the area assisted living communities.
  • Changing my vocabulary and approach. I admit I don’t have all the answers, and I seek out the people who might have them. I am taking classes to get a handle on the things that make me crazy – like budget balancing. Instead of saying, “I ought to try…”, I just do it.
  • Middle Eastern dance classes

So…what’s new with YOU?  How’s your 2012 starting out? Have you done anything you hadn’t expected to do?