Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Time to Remember, A Time to Love

Ash Wednesday is upon us. For Christians, it marks the beginning of Lent, a period of solemn, spiritual preparation for Holy Week and the celebration of Easter. It is a time to remember and imitate the life and ministry of Jesus and it leads up to the commemoration of his death and resurrection. That’s what Christians celebrate.

But we don’t have to stop there. I have friends of varying faiths that use this time to bring into mind their own values and beliefs, to remember the reasons behind the rituals, to contemplate. And what a gift. Every morning, we have the great opportunity to start anew. To think about how our mark on this earth can be just a little bit sweeter and to DO something about it. To be more kind, more disciplined, more gracious, more present, more faithful, more loving.

When I think about some of the recent atrocities brought upon our fellow believers, fellow human beings, around the world, it’s hard to ignore the fact that our world is in dire need of grace and love. Sometimes, I forget that THAT’s my job - in the midst of carpools and craziness, in spite of the terror on every news channel, especially when it's not easy or convenient – my job is to spread forgiveness and understanding and love.

People, my prayer this Lent is that each of us takes advantage of the opportunity to remember our God, regardless of the name we call him, and to contemplate how we can each shower great LOVE upon the world, like HE did. What a privilege it is that we even get that chance.

So on this blessed Ash Wednesday, I leave you with the profound words of Sister Joan Chittister:

"It is very easy to forget the wonders God has done for us. God often performs these marvels when we are least hopeful they will happen, least sure they can happen.

Out of death, after pain diminishes and numbness fades, new life so often comes forth. After the loss of one direction, another more vibrant than the first so often emerges. Beyond what the world says are our best years, comes a fullness of life unmatched by any other stage.

These are the miracles of life. These are the wonders we stumble into, so obviously not our own making that they must be of God. These are the things that must be remembered in the midst of the daily, dull, depressing moments of life.

Good has so often come out of even the more shabby parts of our own life. We retreat from religion because it disappoints, only to find no better answers elsewhere and return more spiritual than ever before. We fail ourselves miserably, then find new life when we discover that people loved us for ourselves, not our images. We get stopped in our indulgent, dishonest, ambitious, shiftless tracks and become newer, better selves. These are the wonders of life.

Every life is filled with a series of small miracles designed to carry us through dark days, up steep mountains, down into the valley of death, beyond every boundary.

One of the spiritual disciplines of Lent is to recognize these, to let praise raise in our hearts. We need to see the miracles of our lives as signs along the way that no path is too twisted, no burden so heavy, no social system so impenetrable as to confound us utterly. The God who has sustained us in the past will not desert us in the present.

Praise and memory take us into tomorrow with open minds and certain hearts."

Love to you!

{J}

(Passage from Ideas in Passing - benetvision.org)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Spoonful of Inspiration

The thing about the writing craft is that it can easily be a misunderstood, solitary and isolating. But, when you collect aspiring and accomplished writers, agents, editors and industry professionals in a beautiful San Diego hotel for a weekend, friends, that's when the MAGIC happens.

Last weekend, Holly and I had the great privilege to attend the San Diego State University Writers' Conference. Our schedule was full of invaluable break-out sessions, key notes, agent meetings and networking functions. We floated from one activity to another, soaking up unlimited knowledge and inspiration and sunshine. Here are just a few of the take-aways:

--The publishing industry is still changing

--People are still buying physical books, especially young adult and middle grade and best sellers

--Writers have to do MORE to earn and maintain the loyalty of their audience

--Agents have to do MORE to earn a spot at the publishing table

--Publishers have to do MORE to bring a book to market

--Readers have to sift through MORE books to find the gems

--But despite all the changes, true GEMS are still being written and produced every day

--If you want to have a successful writing career, this fundamental truth remains the same: write a great book

While working on book one of our Power of 7 series, we have made these important steps: we've finished our second draft, we've partnered with an incredible editor and this past weekend, we've decided to make a pretty substantial shift with our final revision. It was a BIG decision but we're up to the challenge and believe these edits will give P7 its best shot to reach our readers one day.

Some fun bits about this change: character names. Meet Benjamin and Chloe (last name TBD). They're siblings. Benjamin can influence the physical realm with his mind and Chloe can see events before they occur.

We adore them!!

Thanks for joining us on this journey. We will keep you close by as we venture onward into the wild and magical publishing landscape.

{J & H}

Actors Michael Hudson (courtesy of rpfashionista.tumblr.com) and Amber Midthunder (courtesy of polyvore.com) pictured here.