The Beauty of this Place

I’ve been busy tweaking submissions for my agent, Terry Burns. And in between tweaks, we’ve traveled from one place to another and back again. 

If you’d like to see pictures other than the one of rays leaping and slapping the water, take a gander at I’ve put up a number of new ones and will finish tomorrow.

Saturday in Loreto

It was hot. I mean, hot. 100 degrees in the sun. But, we were here. We needed a few more groceries if we were going to hang on the hook for a while, and we could use the walking exercise.

The Mission Hotel (La Mision) is on the Malecon. A group of gringo fisherman had just arrived.

We discovered this cafe on our last stop in Loreto. Incredible sandwiches. I had real turkey on their whole wheat roll with sliced sauteed apple and almonds, spread with Dijon mustard. Excellent. Michael varied his selections, but they all contained cheese.

And this is Paco, whose English is excellent and who is a very gracious host.

More Loreto pictures tomorrow. I’m tired!

The Problem with Peter

Are you tired of making promises to God that you can’t keep? Tired of feeling happy one day and discouraged the next? We just listened to a sermon by William Carrol from Times Square Church that hit home.

He suggests that our problem is exactly what old Peter faced: the Cross. Peter figured, as we so often do, that by saying “Here I am, Lord, take me,” he’d step out in that raucous sea where Jesus walked, and, hey, right away the waves would calm. They didn’t. And don’t we so often do the same thing? “Hey, Lord, I’m here. I’ve signed up for the Kingdom. I’m ready to go with You.” And instead of the glory of the battle and the victory, we find ourselves like the Israelites on the wrong side of the Red Sea, surrounded by the enemy or the water. And we wonder where the Promised Land has hidden itself.

Take a few minutes and listen to this. I think you’ll be as blessed as we were.

The Problem with Peter

Discipline versus Discouragement

Do you ever feel discouraged by what is not happening…or by what is? Do you feel overwhelmed by moments whose sole purpose seems to be to steal your peace?

Recently, I spent most of a day wallowing in doubt. I fretted and worried and forgot all I knew about trust, allowing stomach acids to gnaw me hollow. Why? Because….because…. I haven’t a clue why, except that somehow I let circumstances dictate my feelings.

And what were those circumstances? Heat? Exhaustion? The niggling voice whispering, “You can’t write, you’ll never be published, you might as well give up?”

Why does it sometimes take hours to recognize the voice that whispers in our ear? The author of discouragement is not our God. I’m sorry, Lord, that sometimes, after all these years of following You, I give the enemy an inch. I let him wander through my head.

Instead, help me remember I can stop him at the first hurtful word. I can speak truth to myself and remind him of the One I serve, the One Who has already bought my peace.

Instead of discouragement, I choose discipline. Instead of fear, the courage to walk forward, no matter what happens.

Terry Burns once said that if his stories touched one heart, turned one person toward the Lord, that was all that mattered. He didn’t need fame or fortune.

I’m holding on to that. Lord, make me content merely to write. Merely to lift my heart toward You. Merely to listen to the still small voice that is Yours, which whispers love songs through the universe You created.

Thank You, Lord, for everything: the heat and the bees and the days that lack affirmation as well as the days that overflow with joy. Let me be so full of Your grace that it will flow out and touch hurting souls.

And help me, please, to keep my eyes on the beauty, looking outward, because I am so privileged to have such scenes in my backyard.

The Hardest Part

The hardest part of starting a new manuscript is starting. It’s that first paragraph and that first page. Oh, I can always go back and revise, but the first will set the tone and give me a jump start on crafting a work that pleases me. I kept saying I was going to write a particular story, and then there was this other one…one that kept dangling itself in my face, appearing in my morning and evening thoughts. 

For days, I’ve gone deck-side to look at the Giganta range in the background of that photo my husband took from Sea Venture’s cockpit. You can see how distracting that could be, can’t you? Then I’d go below and revise our boat’s website/blog.

I uploaded pictures. I cleaned the boat. I climbed into the cockpit again and gazed at the view. Then, I removed old caulking from around the doghouse (a boaty name for the smaller cabin top, aft of the pilothouse, which allows us walking room in the aft cabin).

En route to the galley to fix lunch/dinner/snack, I’d stare at my writing computer. Today, I needed to go online with it as it had specific pictures stored in its hard drive. Maybe the fact that the screen was lit and glaring at me did the tick. Maybe it was that breeze blowing down the companionway to the nav station, the first in a couple of days.

I wrote one beginning and tossed it. Wrote the second and thought: boring. Wrote another and decided that, yes, I have a beginning. A real, attention-grabbing beginning that ties in book 2 and brings us to a new conflict.

So Now, I just have to write. Okay…. I can do this.

Sailing, Sailing

To see some of the places we’ve been lately, visit our sailing blog and website (it’s changed) We’re back in Internet land at Puerto Escondido. Time to begin a new manuscript. This is faith speaking: if I write Book 3, Books 1 and 2 of the Beaufort series will sell, won’t they? Well, here’s praying!

Moon rising over Bahia San Evaristo. What a glorious life in which to write.

Another Down, Another to Go

I sent off the second Beaufort book to my agent last week. He applauded the hook and the continuing tension. But in writing book 2, I realized I needed to rewrite at least the opening of book 1. It has been taking up hard-drive space again. This morning, it went out to a reader.

Is it better? I hope so. I cut a thousand words and added others. The tension in the beginning chapter feels more real. I, along with my character, imagine a knife to the snake’s throat. And lots of blood pulsing from his neck as he begs forgiveness — and she walks away.

She has issues, small-town-spinster issues. Thirty-seven-year-old-virgin issues. But then, if you were in her place, wouldn’t you?

He, of course, faces none of Tadie’s woes. Here, he wades near the La Paz Malecon.

Does the World Need You — and Me?

Over at editor Mick Silva suggests that, yes, the world needs us because it needs our words.

What a novel thought. 

I look over my shoulder to glimpse time’s passing, to wonder how the moments slipped from then to now when I barely feel the years — except for the odd creak and groan as my body reminds me that I may have stopped aging, but it hasn’t. I crawl into my closet to ponder (quietly) the why and how and when of this thing I call a gift, to ask, “Lord, did you, in fact, design me for this: word crafting?”

Sometimes it’s hard to know the answer as rejections pile and years pass. I read voraciously of things published, both modern and not. When I find a particularly well crafted novel or essay, I feel inadequate. But then there are all those others.

“Think of all language as a holy expression of meaning from nothing,” writes Mick. “A calling out from chaos to ordained order. With every word, the dark marks on paper build, until the whole world is made new. From that angle, anything but awe-struck gratitude feels insufficient.”

Perhaps the importance then is not in success or worldly validation, but in crafting words that participate in the creative process. Words that touch the heart or mind, that reveal, that teach, that heal. If so, I can and must write whatever the Lord sets before me and do it with all my might: the letter that encourages, the poem that frees the spirit, the story that provokes laughter or tears.

And then I must release the words to fly where He wills.

Ah, Lord, with a grateful heart I sing the only way I know, with a silent voice and a full heart and letters typed by my fingertips.

Rewriting and then rewriting again

Why is it that the phrase I thought so perfect — so apropos! — leaps suddenly off the page as miserably imperfect? I’ve either got too much or too little of whatever I should or shouldn’t have.

I rewrite. Ah, ha! The sentence flows. Or does it?

No, it has paused. Now stopped abruptly. Perhaps I’ve overwritten.

Is that better? Hmmm.

If this were paper, I’d tear the sheet and ball it, practicing my free throw at the waste basked. Instead, I hit delete. Whole chapters, entire pages, highlighted and subjected to CTRL-X. Because I liked them once, considered them fluent and well crafted, they’ve gone into an Extras file. A few sentences, a paragraph or two, may sneak back into another chapter. Most will never see the light of my eyes — and certainly never yours — again.

Considering that I write with views like the above just out my cockpit doors, I can’t complain. I will just write and rewrite and then rewrite again until I cobble it all together, draft the proposal, and send it on to my agent. (Terry, you are the very best.)

To be read aloud and thoughtfully

      Here is some lovely writing that I found in One More River by John Galsworthy (Charles Scribner’s Sons, NY,1970, pp 264-265):

…By love was man flung into the world; with love was he in business nearly all his days making debts or profit; and when he died was by the results of love, if not by the parish, buried and forgotten. In this swarming London not a creature but was deeply in account with a Force so whimsical, inexorable, and strong that none, man or woman, in their proper sense, would choose to do business with it…. All his other activities man could insure, modify, foresee, provide against (save the inconvenient activity of death); love he could not. It stepped to him out of the night, into the night returned. It stayed, it fled. On one side or the other of the balance sheet it scored an entry, leaving him to cast up and wait for the next entry. It mocked dictators, parliaments, judges, bishops, police, and even good intentions; it murdered; was devoted, faithful, fickle. It had no shame, and owned no master; built homes and gutted them; passed by on the other side; and now and again made of two hearts one heart till death. To think of London, Manchester, Glasgow, without love appeared to Adrian, walking up the Charing Cross Road, to be easy; and yet without love not one of these passing citizens would be sniffing the petrol of this night air, not one girmy brick would have been laid upon brick, not one bus be droning past, no street musician would wail, nor lamp light up the firmament. A somewhat primary concern! And he, whose primary concern was with the bones of ancient men, who but for love would have had no bones to be dug up, classified and kept under glass, thought of Dornford and Dinny, and whether they would ‘click’…

        And here, from page 276:

…There was, indeed, to Dinny something really restful and reassuring in those long lazing minutes, when she need not talk, but just take summer in at every pore–its scent, and hum, and quiet movement, the careless and untroubled hovering of its green spirit, the vague sway of the bulrushes, and the clucking of the water, and always that distant calling of the wood pigeons from far trees. She was finding, indeed, the truth of Clare’s words, that he could ‘let one’s mouth alone.’

       I am so sorry to have finished reading this. But there will be others. Until then…