At The Beach, Birds, Photography

Shore Birds

Noisy, playful, insistent, curious…

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I’ve got an idea in mind for a new book. And in this little book is where a seagull lives. I needed to get to the beach and  find my seagull. Thankfully this weekend was a perfect beach day kind of weekend. We packed all the usual, sunscreen, towels, body boards, and beach buckets.

My family picked out their spot on the sand and before I could even lay out my towel I spotted a group of my little shore bird friends, in between beach umbrellas and ocean waves. Shore birds and snow birds basking in the Florida winter sun.

Here are some of the images I captured

Shore bird study:

Flight

 

 

Poses

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Not seagulls, but so incredibly cute! Seriously.

 

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Happy little seagulls!

 

Ring-billed Gull

John James Audubon was a fan of this gull…

Or at least according to my interpretation of my Reader’s Digest Book of North American Birds– “John James Audubon himself called it ‘the great American gull.'”

 

The Flock

img_5341Black Skimmers

These are the birds with the long beaks and bright orange coloring. The lower bill is longer than the upper bill and skims the surface of the water as they fly above it. They look as if they love nothing more than to fly just for the joy of it. Maybe it was the morning I was there to see these birds, but they did not seem content to sit still for long. They would take off, rise and fall in synchronized harmony out and up over the ocean– up, down, around, land, repeat.

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Books, Inspiration, Time for Art, Writing

Why Write?

Thoughts On Writing, Fear, and Time | Part 2

“Don’t you find it strange that we have these ideas we dream up? We write and create and go to conferences and critique groups. No one has asked us to write, but we do.”

I was at a conference a few years ago when I asked one of my friends and fellow writers my question about writing. The process and the idea of writing started to feel strange and surreal.  Why do I seem to find inspiration for new books all around? I jot down the ideas in my notebook, on receipts in my purse, or on the back of a bulletin in church. Some of these ideas stick with me and their little voice is strong. I feel this desire to put my thoughts and words and art together. I create little book dummies of how I see these books in my mind.

I have 12 on a spreadsheet facing me now. Three in book dummy form.

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Family, school, kids, and work pop in and demand some love and inspiration too. Shouldn’t I put my ideas aside and focus on what’s in front of me? And yet these little books speak to me. They compel me to take them to critique group and attend writer’s conferences.

The question I asked my friend about writing has stayed with me. It pops up when I doubt what I’m trying. It’s easier to listen to the voice that says, ‘focus on what’s in front of you’.

But what if all writers listened to a voice that told them to stop writing?

What if all artists listened to the voice of doubt or fear and stopped making art?

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The question remained: Why write?

And then I met Nikki Grimes. I was invited to hear her read from her book Words With Wings at the Upper Room Art Gallery. She is talented and gracious and humble. She talked with me afterword about her writing, her children’s books, and poetry, and new projects.

We took a walk with our host Robin Merrill from the Upper Room to see a piece of art in the making. We stood in front of a large log being hand cut into a canoe by a Seminole Indian from the tradition of generations before. A story in its own way, told and passed down.

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I asked Nikki the same thing I had asked my other friend, “Don’t you find it strange to write sometimes? To put these ideas and thoughts down on paper and publish them? No one has asked us to write what we write but we do it anyway.”

She answered me quickly,

“If I waited for permission, I would never write.”

Wow! I had never considered that I was waiting for permission.

As we looked at the canoe in raw form and Robin told us about the artwork, she showed us a pile of wood chips on the ground that had been cut from the log. Chunks and layers of shavings discarded for the canoe to takes its form. She gave us a little brown paper bag and told us to take some shavings and create our own piece of art from them.

Here is mine, a bird with Nikki’s winged words for me…

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I dont’ have an answer as to why I write, but it doesn’t have to be because someone asked me to.

I have a goal now for my little board books.

That’s what they are. No permission needed.

 

If you’re the curious sort, one who wonders about why we do the things we do, here’s an amazing book I found one evening at Barnes & Noble, Why We Write About Ourselves: Twenty memoirists on Why They Expose Themselves (and Others) in the Name of Literature.

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Happy reading, writing and creating! ~LAM

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Fear, Time for Art, Writing

Time Is Ticking

Thoughts on writing, fear, and time | Part 1

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I saw my friend and fellow writer, critiquer and encourager, Belinda at church. She told me she had sent her second query out to an agent. We attended the SCBWI Florida regional conference together this year. Since the conference she was the first to send out her work. And now she’s sent out her second query. Belinda two. Me zero. She’s on a mission. I’m still nervous to hit send.

Later that day I headed out to the beach for some time with my family. They were here for a visit and their lovely condo was right on the ocean. A week of beachfront lazy days together was in order. At least that’s what I envisioned for the group.

My husband had a different idea in mind. Somehow he and my son decided an hour jet ski rental would be great fun for the whole family. Aunt Heidi, the cousins, little sis, my husband and I, gliding across the surface of the ocean at reckless speeds.

I was terrified.

Listening to the safety rules and ocean regulations didn’t help calm my fears-

Don’t get too close to the swim markers, best to stay a hundred feet out since swimmers don’t pay attention and often go beyond the markers. Don’t pass the buoys. Don’t go over the reef. Stay 300 feet away from scuba divers and other boats. If you flip over, stay calm and try to turn the jet ski back over before it sinks. If you ride over too much seaweed you need to be able to hop off and reach your hand under the jet ski and pull the seaweed out of the intake.

Riding a jet ski is the opposite of relaxing at the beach.

My husband and son rode first. Next was our daughter. Then we switched drivers and my sister took her two girls. We still had time. She came in and Mike and I went out. Our guide steadied the jet ski for us while we were getting on.

“Hop on!” my husband says. I do, but completely nervous I try to hop on the back.

“No, you’re driving. Get up front,” he says.

“No, you drive. I’m not getting up front.”

“Yes. Yes, you are. Get up front!”

And then our guide chimes in, “Time is ticking!”

Whoa. Really? Who does he think he is? We’ve already paid for our time. I can take a few minutes here. If I want to waste part of our time being afraid, I can.

And then I realize just how stupid that thought is. Our ride is paid for. Just one hour. Time really is ticking and then the opportunity is gone.

What about life? Time ticks here too. We just don’t readily see it. I’m busy being afraid to hit send on a dream because I want my query to be just right. I don’t want to fail.

But time is ticking.

I hopped on the driver’s seat and adjusted to holding down the throttle. It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t graceful. I hit a few waves. I screamed a bit. I drove the jet ski though. My husband and I ended up switching places somewhere out over the water. I got to see what fearless driving really looked like! It wasn’t so bad…

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And we all made it back to shore.

I’ve read about other artist’s journeys, I’ve listened to podcasts on fear and productivity. These were good, but not a kick in the pants kind of good that I needed. Who knew all I needed to do was drive a jet ski? The thing I fought against doing was the thing which taught me the greatest lesson. I’m thankful for the kid who steadied the jet ski and reminded me time is ticking.

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What fear is holding you back?

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Books, Writing

FCWC 2013 Recap

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Four little days packed quite a punch! Here is my attempt to summarize my experience.

Thursday February 28 

  • 3:30am This is way too early for me, but I’m carpooling with three other amazing writers and it’s worth getting up at a crazy hour to chase dreams. I’m trying to make sure I have everything and sneak out the door to meet Natasha for our drive to Mary Susan’s house. My cute girl woke up, cried and asked me not to leave. That didn’t make for a great start. I gave her extra hugs and kisses and told her I’d be back before she knew it. The hardest part is leaving my three loves.
  • 4:20 am Natasha is waiting downstairs and we load up the car in the dark parking lot.
  • 4:45 am We arrived at Mary-Susan’s house to meet her and Elizabeth for our carpool north. Farewells to puppies, car loaded up, and we’re on the road. We’re all tired and the drive is pretty quiet for a car with four women.
  • 7:00 am Two hours on the road and the sun is finally up! Time for some coffee, tea, and conversation.

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  • 9:20 am We arrived at Lake Yale to check in to our rooms and register. We missed the session for first time conferees.
  • 10:15 am Opening session starts with worship. Mary Susan leans over laughing and whispers to me that it’s only 10 am. It seems impossible, but the day is just getting started.

Opening Session~

Theme: Inspire

Sally Stuart – Keynote speaker

She talked about sacrifices in our writing life. My favorite, we must sacrifice the Ordinary. We must look for un-reproducible experiences in our lives. Look for opportunities to learn or do something you’ve never done before, new routes, new destinations, new opportunities… Curiosity makes us good writers.

Blythe Daniel – Reading and Understanding Contracts

This is a class I think all authors should take. I need this one recorded so I can go over it again and again. “An author needs to know how to counter some of the language that protects the publisher with much of the burden on the author.”

Steven James – Keynote speaker Thursday night

How can I sum up the energy of Steven James?  Baby shark! Doot-Doot, Doot-Doot! Baby Shark! Doot-Doot, Doot-Doot! I guess you had to be there…

Friday March 1

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The rest of our conference days begins early with breakfast at 7:30 each morning. The coffee is free flowing and that helps! I’m thankful for the chance to take in all the beauty of the conference center at Lake Yale.

Marti Pieper – Author, Speaker

Our effectiveness comes when we are in close connection with God. Live an inspired life.

  • Getting ready for agent/editor appointments, “Mary Susan, do I have anything in my teeth?” “No. Do I?”  (not so inspired, but completely necessary)

Crystal Bowman – Author, Speaker

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My continuing class through the weekend was Writing For Children with author Crystal Bowman.

Crystal broke down her class into the many different formats of children’s books. We took time to study board books, Pre-school picture books, picture books, early readers, and writing for the inspirational market. Here is a tiny portion of my take aways from Crystal’s class: When we write for children we must remember that “Children live in the present.”

“The beauty of answering the call to write is that God will put those books into the hands of those who need them.” I think trusting that God will use our writing comes with what she said about what we must do when we write, “We write and then let it go and give it to God. We are missionaries through our writing.”

Alton Gansky – Author, Keynote speaker

“Your writing career is a joke from beginning to end! Before you get upset, let me explain…” This didn’t sound so bad when he explained to us the definition of the word joke and how it pertains to our writing life.

  • 12:00-1:00 pm Lunch, time for catching up with Mary Susan and sitting with writers, authors, editors, and agents. The banquet room was set with tables labeled with the editor’s, agent’s, or author’s names and you could choose where to sit. Although it seemed intimidating at first, the meals were casual and friendly. I never heard anyone selling or pitching ideas at the tables. It was really a great time to relax and enjoy the good southern cooking together.
  • 1:30-8:30 pm Three more classes, dinner, and a keynote address. I took a small break to get some fresh air and wander around with my camera.
  • Our Lovely South Florida Word Weavers Critique Group

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Saturday March 2

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From Crystal’s I Can Read, Otter and Owl series. My little girl loves this book! Thank you.

Dan Walsh – Author, Keynote speaker

Be faithful to serve the Lord in the little things

Sally Apokedak – Agent

I enjoyed her class Stop Boring Your Readers: Make Your Plodding Pros March, Skip, Trip, and Tumble

Write in a way that’s memorable. Look for ways to spin cliche´. Delight the reader.

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What a small world. My Grandma lives out west in Colorado and attends the Colorado Christian Writers Conference. I met my Grandma’s editor, Eddie here at FCWC. I have her book, Dare to Live: Devotions for Those Over the Hill, Not Under It! on my Kindle iPad app. The screen has a glare, but that’s her sweet book I’m holding. Check it out if you have time.

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That’s me getting cozy by a real fire place in Florida. It’s the little things!

Sunday March 3

The last day! Taking it all in till the last drop, every word of inspiration, teaching, and encouragement…

I love the Florida Christian Writers Conference and the opportunities it provides for seasoned writers or those just starting out on the journey. There is something for everyone. This is my fourth time attending. I’m grateful Billie Wilson started this conference 26 years ago. She was missed this year, but I’m thankful Eva Marie Everson and Mark Hancock have accepted the role of Directors of this conference and continue to inspire and equip writers for sharing God’s message. They did an amazing job!

Marti Pieper – Author, Speaker

Pass on what God has given to others who need encouragement.

Rachel Hauck – Author

Use the power of your pen, make a difference for someone else. When you pour out your words you are pouring out a fragrant offering to God.IMG_0165

Time for a couple more photos before it’s time to go! It’sbeen a great weekend!

My room-mate Mary Susan

Karen Whiting -author, friend, encourager

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Writing

Preparing For A Conference

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I’m getting ready to go to the Florida Christian Writers Conference at the end of the month.

I feel a little like I’m standing on the edge of the high dive, about to jump in from too high off the ground.

The funny part is, I’ve been to the conference before and it’s been fantastic. The classes, the editors, the authors, and everyone in attendance make the whole experience an exciting opportunity for learning and encouragement. This conference is the one I went to in 2004 when I had a fledgling idea for a book of scriptures and photos for babies. This is the same conference where I met my amazing editor in 2006 and she said, “Yes!” to my first four books.

So, why all the nerves this time around? I don’t think it matters how many time I’ve been to the conference, it’s sharing my projects and dreams with a bigger audience for the first time that does it. Those little projects equal big dreams. On those big dreams are even bigger expectations, adding to that standing-on-the-edge feeling.

Have you ever felt that way before?

Thankfully there is an amazing amount of encouragement and plain ol’ good, down-to-earth advice out there on getting ready for a conference. Like Mary Kole’s blog post, Getting the Most Out of a Conference and W. Terry Whalin’s great advice on the FCWC Faculty Blog, Four Keys to Your Conference Preparation

A much more central part of every writer’s conference is where individuals learn new aspects of publishing and take great strides of personal growth. Come with expectations and a willingness to learn and grow. With the right heart attitude, I’m convinced that you will not be disappointed but your expectations will actually be exceeded. -W. Terry Whalin

I love both of these posts and how they offered me a new perspective on my expectations for the conference, “Jump in! Have fun! Enjoy the experience!”  Why not?

I’ve done my part preparing; polished proposals, studied the publishers, editors, and agents who will be a part of the conference, and highlighted the courses I’d like to attend. I’ve set aside the expectations I’ve placed upon myself and taken Terry’s advice on praying for the experience. I’ve placed my dreams in God’s hands and I trust him.

Now I can take a breath and jump in! I’m ready for the adventure of it all!

How do you prepare for a conference? What resources have you found helpful in getting ready?