"Welcome to my blog space. I believe that God has carefully placed gems in our paths to fill our days with joy. The challenge for us is to take the time to notice them. My desire is to share the gems in my life so that, hopefully, you will see the ones He's placed in yours. I hope what you read here will be worth your time and you'll want to return often." - Cathy

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Write2Ignite! Conference Registration Open!

Write2Ignite! Logo
For writers of literature with a Christian world view for children and youth, I am devoting my blog to Write2Ignite! this week. I am the new kid on the leadership team and I’m excited and want to share a little about the ministry and the writer’s conference coming in March, 2014.

            From their website comes the vision of the organization: We envision Write2Ignite! as an organization that provides conferences, workshops, support groups and other services to Christians who create, publish, represent or sell literature for children and youth.  We see the role of the Write2Ignite! Team as that of teachers, encouragers, facilitators and inspirers.

We want Write2Ignite! participants to leave our conferences with three things:

  • The knowledge that they heard from God about something specific in their writing and/or personal lives
  • New or improved skills to use in writing and/or publishing
  • New or strengthened connections with other writers, illustrators, teachers, librarians, agents, editors, reviewers, and/or book sellers

This past March was my first time attending a Write2Ignite! Conference. I was extremely pleased with the investment in my writing future. Using the three goals for participants listed above, I will share a bit of my experience:

Knowledge from God – Thanks to our worship leaders, Donna Earnhardt and Rachel Welch, we were able to enter God’s presence and listen for His desire for us as writers, illustrators, publishers and agents. This conference, more than any I have attended, focuses on God first by sprinkling the day with opportunities for deep worship.

Improved Skills – Classes are taught by authors who are seasoned in the skills they are presenting. They projected a selfless attitude, giving us much more than the syllabus promised. The teacher of one of the classes I took had been sick for weeks before the conference. She probably should have cancelled but instead came and honored her commitment. She apologized to the class for needing to sit while she presented her subject matter. The skills I learned in her session are serving me well this year, and I refer to the notes from her class often. What I learned is transferrable to all genres, not just limited to children/young adult writing.

Connections –In the hallway, between classes, I made contact with some friends I hadn’t seen in years and I made new contacts over cookies and coffee at the hotel. We’ve shared ideas, blog and website addresses, critiques, calls for submissions, and even some quilting tips.

The conference this year will be March 28-29, 2014. Registration is now open on the website and, at $100 for adults and $50 for teens (yes, there is a special teen track available!), I consider it a bargain. Come join us at North Greenville University, Tigerville, SC. Look for me. I’d love to talk to you.

Going out with joy today-

Hop on over to these other blogs to get their take on the conference!
Samantha Bell at www.samanthabellbooks.com


Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Stranger at the Table


We almost always had a stranger at our

Thanksgiving table. Like folks who take

in stray animals, my mother took in stray

people. With Daddy being in the Army,

we had celebrations in California, Japan,

Germany, and Georgia. Momma always

found at least one person who would be

alone on the holiday and invited them to join us. We didn’t have

many resources during those years, but what we had, we shared.

            Our visitors had a story to tell and Momma encouraged them to talk as we ate. They told about life where they were from, how he/she ended up in the Army, their aspirations for the future, their family traditions and what they would be doing if they were home. We children didn’t realize until much later in life that not everyone invites people they don’t know to Thanksgiving.

            That experience is probably the one that fostered my interest in people. My children think I am cursed with a magnetism which pulls at strangers who then seem compelled to talk to me. I see it as a blessing, maybe even a calling. I’ve learned over the years that there are lonely people everywhere who don’t have anyone who will listen to them.

            I usually encounter them while waiting in line somewhere. They are in front of me or behind me in line. We talk while we wait. Occasionally, someone will approach me in a store, out of the blue, like one woman did in the fabric department in Wal-Mart. She asked me to pray for her. I asked if there was a specific need and her story spilled out as though it had been bottled up for so long it had fermented and the container couldn’t hold it any longer. We did pray, right there in the fabrics and crafts, as two humans connected for a few brief moments.

            This poem, by Emily Dickenson, has been a favorite of mine for many years. I cross-stitched it and have it framed and hanging in my bedroom to remind me that it’s the little things we do along life’s pathway that hold the most meaning.           

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain.
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
         I shall not live in vain.             

            What Thanksgiving tradition has shaped you into the person you are today? I’d love to hear your story.

Going out with joy and open ears today-


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Are You in a Thanksgiving Rut?

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

I Chronicles 16:34

            The children sat cross-legged on the floor in a lopsided circle, all eyes on me, waiting for the words of wisdom I would impart during the Children’s Moment at Church. It was the first Sunday in November so I felt obligated to talk about this being the month we focus our thoughts on what we are thankful for. If I asked around the circle, I knew I’d get the tried and true answers - Mommy, Daddy, toys, pets, friends - all good things to be thankful for. My intention was to expand their awareness.

            My first question to them was, “What is your favorite color?” I talked about Thanksgiving and being thankful. I told them that sometimes when we do something over and over every year, we can get stuck in a rut. My solution to that for this year is to use my favorite color as a starting place for being thankful. “Your assignment for the week,” I told those shining eyes and smiling faces, “is to look for things that are your favorite color, and then thank God for it.”

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.

Psalm 9:1

            What about you? Are you stuck in a rut when it comes to being thankful for the many blessings God has poured out for you from His great bounty? Do you need a rut-buster to help you with true thankfulness this year? Here are some suggestions in addition to the favorite color lookout:

            Go back to basics using the alphabet. Line the letters down the side of a piece of paper. Each day think of a least one item you are thankful for that begins with the letter of the day. On day eight, for instance, ponder on things beginning with the letter H. Since there are thirty days in November and only twenty-six letters, you can go freeform on the last four days.

            For those who are up for the extreme challenge beginning on November 1st next year, gather your paper and pens. For each day of the month, match the date with a list of things you are thankful for. On November 15th, your list will include fifteen thoughts. By the end of the month, you will have thanked God for four hundred, sixty-five blessings with no duplications. Woo hoooo! Doesn’t that get your engines revved up with anticipation? If you are overwhelmed with God’s goodness to you and can’t wait until next year, go ahead and start today. I’d love to know when you complete this activity and what it meant to you.           

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I Thessalonians 5:18

Going out today with a heart full of joy and thanks-


Friday, November 1, 2013

Ideas, Brains and Trains

Today, November 1, 2013, I begin a new adventure. This month, for the first time, I will be participating in PiBoIdMo, Picture Book Idea Month. Since I am an aspiring picture book author with a passion for Christian world view literature for children, it seems only natural I would be drawn to this exercise.

 From Tara Lazar, the founder of PiBoIdMo, and the official website, here’s what it’s all about:

“Tired of novelists having all the fun in November with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers Month), I created PiBoIdMo as a 30-day challenge for picture book writers.

The challenge is to create 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. You don’t have to write a manuscript (but you can if the mood strikes). You don’t need potential best-seller ideas.

You might think of a clever title. Or a name for a character. Or just a silly thing like “purple polka-dot pony.” The object is to heighten your picture-book-idea-generating senses. Ideas may build upon other ideas and your list of potential stories will grow stronger as the days pass.

Daily blog posts by picture book authors, illustrators, editors and other kidlit professionals will help inspire you. By the end of the month, you’ll have a fat file of ideas to spark new stories.

PiBoIdMo was first held in 2008 by a party of one—me! Then I hosted it on my blog for the first time in 2009. Each year the number of participants has doubled. In 2012 we had over 750 writers following PiBoIdMo.”

            On today’s daily blog, Tammi Sauer shares one of her secrets to success: Start with the Title. She reasons the title is the first chance you have to grab the editor's and reader’s interest. I can’t wait to read all the author hints that will post this month.

            I love my brain and I can’t wait to see what it will conjure
up and dump out on my list. Just in case the train leaves the station with a carload of ideas and doesn’t make it back before the end of the month, I may need your help. If you’ve ever said, “I wish I could find a good children’s book about . . .,” leave a comment. If you’re brushing your teeth one morning, and a brilliant thought passes through your mind and you say, “That would be a great title for a book,” leave a comment (unless, of course, you are going to pursue it yourself!)

            Gotta run! I’ve got a train to catch, a list to get started and some brainstorming to do.

Going out with joy today-


P.S. It's not too late to be a part of this movement. Registration is open for a few more days by clicking the website ink above.