Did I Really Just Do This???…


surprisedAs of last week I accepted a writing challenge, and I don’t know whether to be scared, excited, or both!

The challenge is as follows…

I must write a Christmas romance novella that can be released for THIS Christmas season, is also part of a series that I must write, and so much of it is totally out of my control.

I know the title is going to be: Christmas Scavenger Hunt. Written by me, of course. And, I have no control over the title (which has already been decided upon) or the ebook cover. I have to write the story based on the given title and what the ebook cover looks like.

I notified the cover designer today. She knows that she can do whatever she wants, as long as she includes the given title, author’s name, and a small inclusion of me as author of a specific series. I couldn’t even give her a two-line story byline to put on it, because I am supposed to write it based on the title and the cover’s appearance and content.

Yikes! Is it even possible??? Can I come up with a plot that quickly, then develop and release it before Christmas???

I guess we’re going to find out pretty soon.

As soon as the designer gets the ebook cover to me, I’m going to write like crazy, I guess. This means that I am going to have to put on hold the novel I am working on right now: From Grace Abounds Grace.

Stand by… I will show you the cover reveal as soon as the designer gets it to me!

 

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Reading is Where I Live…

I was asked just recently what my summer reading plans were… what book(s) I planned to consume during these hot days and nights. And, all I could do was shake my head and laugh. Were they seriously asking me for a title or titles???!!! And, frankly, I had no answer at all. Realizing how rude it would be not to respond, I decided to explain my situation.

This is where I live:

books3

My whole being is about reading and books! I devour them ravenously and never fill up. Even in the middle of the night, if I awaken (regardless of the time), I read, finish a book, then go searching on my e-reader for another one. It never stops. And, I would be devastated if it did. In fact, at last count (after purging about 100 e-books) I currently have 515 e-books in my e-reader library (maybe 300 I’ve already read, but can’t handle the idea of deleting them).

I can’t have enough books available for perusing.

From Grace Abounds Grace (tiny cover)

Novel I Am Currently Writing!

Even when doing some re-decorating this last winter, I went to a web site that sells books by color and the yard. I invested in 1 yard of green books, which cost in the three figures. (Actually, it was a Christmas gift from my daughter and son-in-law… one I begged for.) I have them within bookends, stacked with something pretty on top, and in my entry I have several volumes on the floor under the entry table (as decoration). Although they were only purchased because of their color, I am now going through them to see which ones I will read in the future.

Is it any wonder that I write??!! I mean, it’s not like there aren’t millions and millions of books out there already. I need to give the world MORE choices to read. And I do it with joy.

But, the real joy for me in reading is knowing that I am still in process of becoming the person I am because of what I choose to consume on the written page. I’ve heard the saying: You are what you eat. And, while I understand the meaning behind it, for me, at least, I believe that I am what I read. I am voraciously hungry for material that will satisfy my heart and soul. I want to fill up on those things that will make me better. And, most importantly, I want Jesus to sit right down beside me and read right along with me, enjoying the experience as much as I do. (Did I mention that He is also an author, and a superb story-teller?!) Boy, can He tell a story!

As long as the Lord allows me to keep both my eyesight and my mental capabilities, I read and read and read! So, what I guess I really want to say is…

“Vive la lecture!”

 

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The Words of My Mouth (and Computer)…

wordsAs author of inspirational fiction, specifically romance, I have tried with each novel to keep the plot, the themes, the imagery, and the dialogue acceptable to my readers. I truly have a heart to give my readers stories that, although tackling worldly problems, would leave them feeling inspired and enriched. “Better as a person after reading my stories than they were before reading them,” if you will.

And, in that vein, I have tried to keep God’s Word primary in my heart when I’m writing. Anyone who has knowledge of the Bible, probably knows the verse, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my Strength and my Redeemer.” With my whole heart, I want my novels to be a reflection of my obedience to this Old Testament prayer.

But, I think for the first time EVER, I was overwhelmed yesterday and today with how much input the Old Testament gives to this very topic… the words of my mouth (or in this case, the words of my keyboard).

As I sat yesterday in the worship service in my beloved church, one of our pastors was teaching us on the “WISDOM ON WORDS.”

Using Proverbs as his Scripture draw, he revealed to us that there are 150 verses in Proverbs (chapters 10 -30) that have to do with the words of our mouth (which reflect our hearts).

Not being one to spend my life observing RULES, I was completely melted in my spirit with the counsel in these chapters. It didn’t rant… it spoke truth about what a blessing kind, loving, truthful and encouraging words are, as opposed to the lips of lying, harshness, back-biting, and gossip. Even still I am going through all the verses, which I downloaded from my church website.

From Grace Abounds Grace (tiny cover)I am humbled by God’s Gracious counsel, which speaks directly to me. I want the words of both my mouth, AND the words of my novels to reflect Christ. Rather than turned off, my hope is that my readers will, in each and every novel, see Christ’s Unconditional Love come through. Even this one, which I am currently working on.

I even want to go a step further. I would ask humbly, that any brothers and sisters in Christ who read this blog post, will at least this once lift me up, asking the Lord to help me tell my stories with HIM in mind. And, that the words of my keyboard will reflect an author who stands amazed at God’s Grace in her life, and that He has done, and will continue to do a mighty work in her… in this case specifically… her WORDS!

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My Name is Sheila and I’m a Procrastinator…

procrastination2There’s no point even trying to deny it, I’ll just come out and admit that I am a procrastinator… BIG TIME!!!

I was supposed to have finished my current writing endeavor, From Grace Abounds Grace. Not only should I have already completed and released it, but it should have been done months ago. (If I’m not mistaken, it was originally scheduled to be released Winter, 2016… December.)

From Grace Abounds Grace (tiny cover)Would someone please tell me what’s wrong with me!!! I have come up with a gazillion different reasons (on a daily basis) why I couldn’t sit down and write. Some days I’d say to myself that if I only committed myself to 300-500 words, I might actually just sit here and continue for hours and hours.

Nope! Doesn’t work!

Here are some of the things I’ve done instead…

Painting furniture, shopping online for house accessories, going clothes-shopping for some summer items, writing long notes to friends and family, doubling up on my workouts daily, sitting for hours online looking for wonderful new recipes to try, and reading voluminous amounts in novels I’ve downloaded.

Now come on… you’ll admit with me, no doubt, that all those things are fine. All of them benign in and of themselves. What makes them “procrastination” is that it seems the overwhelming majority of these activities begins within moments after I sit down to continue writing on my novel.

My pattern is to take one long searching look on the page I left off last time I wrote, sit staring out the window at my beautiful two acres of tall trees, contemplating where I want to head off into my story, then re-direct my thinking to some of the things “I really should be doing instead” (yeah, right), and the next thing I know, I’m completely disconnected from the story line.

I don’t get it! I just don’t get it! Is it an ADD (attention deficit) thing? Is it an age thing? Am I not as enchanted with the story line as I first thought? I just can’t seem to get this novel done. Funny thing is that I looove this story, as I see it in my head. And, I even know where it needs to go, but…

Well, it’s the weekend now. So, I’ll start back in first thing Monday morning. (Is my nose growing?!)

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Fueling to Write…

pootterTwo weeks ago on Tuesday, my husband, our daughter, son-in-law, and I crawled in the car and drove up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. (The picture is the view from our lodge room.) We were headed for several days of hiking, touring, eating spectacular lodge food. It was going to be a spectacular time of refreshment and refueling. The order of the day were walks around the lake, hiking up and down the mountain slopes, possibly to the Top of the Peak, revisiting old cabins and farms built in the 1800’s, and laughing and sharing with our kids. I was looking forward to every shared moment, and to a few days away from writing to “empty out” and “refuel up” so that I could continue writing on my current novel, From Grace Abounds Grace.From Grace Abounds Grace (tiny cover)

What actually transpired bore no resemblance to my built-up dream of that time.

We arrived at the lodge Tuesday afternoon. We had barely arrived when our son-in-law began one of his coughing fits (comes with his health condition). It was so severe that the man in the room adjacent to our kids asked to be removed to another room in another lodge building.

If the above weren’t enough, right after dinner Tuesday evening, our son-in-law went back to their room, crawled into bed, and never ate again or got up until we left on Thursday. He was sooo sick. Of course, that took all the joy out of the vacation for our daughter, who sort of gave of up and laid down, doing nothing more than watching tv and staying close to her husband.

Daniel and I tried to carry on by taking a couple of walks, but the little fun vacation had lost its zest. No sooner had we driven home when our daughter claimed the same symptoms as her husband and into bed she crawled for a couple of days.

By Friday night, my poor husband was sick as a dog, also crawling into bed, and I followed him the next day. We were in bed for a week. My Honey couldn’t do anything, nor could I. Writing was the furthest thing from my mind. I couldn’t eat, my sleeping was fitful, and we both generally felt wretch. In the week in bed, I lost 5.5 pounds and my husband lost almost 7 pounds. Poor, poor us!

The good news is that we’re finally both up and regaining our vim and vigor. I was thrilled to death with the weight loss, but my husband felt like he’s dropped too low, so he’s trying to gain back most of his loss.

Today I feel like I can return to writing after what seems like eons of time. This novel was supposed to be finished months ago, and I’m still plugging away at it slowly, and not too surely. (I have never had a novel take months and months to complete like this one!)

joyful-joyful-smallAs I continue to write, I want to stop long enough to thank all my sweet readers who have written me such sweet notes and reviews on Joyful, Joyful. Especially to my faithful readers in Nigeria. You have no idea how you encourage my heart, my sweet sisters in Christ. Thank you for your notes. Even though you have been purchasing my novels, I want to thank you in a special way. If you will email me at sheilaholmesauthor@gmail.com let me know where you wrote your last rating and review of ANY of my novels, I’ll gladly gift you the next in the series. And, when you’ve rated and reviewed that one, let me know and I’ll again gift you your next choice. (This offer is good through May 31st, 2017.)

Ok… now that you should feel properly sorry for me… it’s back to writing!

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Creative Storage in From Grace Abounds Grace…

littletoddlerwearingbra

Yesterday as I was writing about Grace’s wedding happenings in my current writing endeavor, From Grace Abounds Grace, I included a portion on the bachelorette party the evening before the wedding. It was held at the home of Grace’s closest friend and the one who introduced Grace and her groom.

At the party, while Grace and her bridesmaids were lying on the floor in Joy’s basement family room, with tomato face masks on,  singing and eating snacks and laughing together, Joy’s little three year old girl came bounding down the stairs wearing one of Joy’s lacy bras. She wasn’t supposed to come down with the ladies all evening. Joy’s husband, Grant, was supposed to be keeping her upstairs all night. Yeah, right! That was going to happen!

Anyway, the bra didn’t fit, of course. It was HUGE on her. But, little Margi thought it  made wonderful storage in each cup for things like Lego pieces, a small stuffed animal, and various food snacks for the evening.

What happens when she gets downstairs to where the bride’s attendants are enjoying their activites, is hilarious! And, unexpected for all the bridal attendants, Margi, and Joy’s husband, Grant.

As I was looking online today to try to capture what little Margi would look like in a woman’s bra, the above picture is what I found.

Are you starting to get the picture?!

Who says there’s no riotously funny moments in romance?!

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I Can’t Take Smut…

smutI can’t take it! I just can’t take it! There is almost nothing that is as offensive to me as SMUT in novels! I can’t even begin to share how many tv shows I’ve had to turn off, conversations I’ve had to walk away from, and how many novels I’ve had to close mid-way, because I just can’t read them, knowing that the Lord is right there with me, having to see it too!

I feel like I need to have available at arm’s length a spray bottle of air freshener to get rid of the fowl “odor” of SMUT when reading a book.

What is SMUT? Well… I suppose if you asked ten different people to define the word, you’d get ten different definitions. But, the truth is… no one needs to define it in words, because we all can identify it when it rears its ugly head. Filthy language, vulgar insinuations, and outright brazen sexual content.

I don’t want that in my life. Not because I’m so pure and innocent. I am simply a sinner who has been redeemed by Christ’s blood sacrifice to pay my sin penalty. And, I am so in awe of Jesus, that I don’t want to defile my eyes, ears, and mind with things that He so hates. And that He sacrificed Himself for to redeem us from.

From Grace Abounds Grace (tiny cover)But, I need to confess that just recently as I was writing a portion of my recent novel, From Grace Abounds Grace, I was awakened in the night with the distinct impression that something I had written the day before was just “straddling the fence.” I had written something that was so borderline tacky, and I had done it without even thinking. It just happened. And, I’d done it so cleverly that I am convinced that my readers would know EXACTLY what I was trying to say, and it would drum up a very DISTINCT mental picture within their minds.

Oh, Lord… forgive me! That’s not who I want to be!

So, the next morning, after a very restless night, and asking the Lord to guide me as I re-wrote that portion, I did some pretty major surgery on that section.

It would make, I suppose, a much better story to tell if I said that my re-write of that section was so far superior, funnier, more clever, and well, I’ll just say it, GENIUS STORY-TELLING! In truth, it wasn’t. It was simply a more honest, and God-honoring way to tell that portion.

However, I am so grateful, first, that the Lord forgave me, and that I know He is pleased with my change of direction on that written portion.

And, after all, that is what I seek in my novels more than any- and all else! God’s approval!

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Justice, Mercy, or Grace? I Choose…

From Grace Abounds Grace (tiny cover)I am currently working on a novel entitled, From Grace Abounds Grace. Well into its plot, I realized that I had made a terrible mistake in not looking up the definition of the word “grace.”  It is something I should have done long before starting the work. Instead, I have been relying on the typical usage of the word I’ve always heard.

In the plot of this story, Grace (the lead character) is just pronounced as “husband and wife” with her beloved. They move on to their reception, then leave for their honeymoon, never suspecting that within the short time it takes to drive out of the reception venue parking lot, an oncoming car would broadside them, instantly escorting Grace’s groom into the presence of Jesus.

While Grace is physically hurt as well, she lives, and in the hospital meets whom she sees as her groom’s murderer. And, from a loosely defined term, he kind of is. It was his error in judgment as driver that caused the crash.

Rather than continuing on with a further synopsis of the story, it’s important at this juncture that three very important terms are defined.

So… I ask you…

justice-scalesIf YOU were responsible for the death of someone, which of the following would you prefer reigned in your trial?

JUSTICE ?  Getting exactly what you deserved as your penalty.

MERCY?  Not receiving the horrible penalty that was actually due you.

GRACE?  Receiving total forgiveness that you didn’t deserve in any way for what you’d done.

I know what MY answer is, and I suspect yours is the same.

As I continue writing, I need to ever keep before me the difference among the three and make sure that the story ends up where it needs to.

 

 

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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words…

coldWell… sniff, sniff… I’m not exactly sure… sniff, cough… what to even share… cough, nose blow… with the world today. UGH!

Actually, I think the first thing is to tell this to anyone who happens on this page today:

We are a Christian family. We are all born-again believers and followers of Jesus Christ. We believe in an eternal life after our earthly death.

Having said the above, my next comment should just about say EXACTLY what I’m feeling right now:

“I feel like I died and didn’t go anywhere!!!”

I’ve had a cold for exactly one week today. And, while I’m feeling considerably better (3 boxes of Kleenex, 5+ Benadryl tablets, a quart and one-half of orange juice later), I certainly am not ready to do anything yet, but… COMPLAIN!

So, here goes:

My body aches! My nose is so red and swollen and raw, that I am thinking of applying for Rudolph’s job next Christmas! My eyes are droopy, glassy, and saggy! I feel too lousy to put on any makeup, so my appearance is beyond “wretched!’ I can’t taste my food! Of course, trooper that I am, I continue to eat, and somehow I’ve talked myself into believing that because I’m so pitiful, I deserve to eat anything and everything I want, with no consequences calorie-wise! My bathroom scale doesn’t agree, however… the LIAR! I’ve been house-bound for 7 days now, and even looking out windows is starting to scare me (implied agoraphobia)! My adorable husband, who has been waiting on me hand-and-foot, is totally annoying me with his constant cheerfulness! And, it isn’t fair he hasn’t caught this “disease!” If he had any real sympathy, he’d start in with a sore throat and sneezing. But, no… he’s the picture of health! (If he weren’t so cute, I’d smack him!)

Well, let’s get down to the “real deal” here…

From Grace Abounds Grace (tiny cover)Since I feel so yucky… three guesses how much time I’ve spent writing this last week?

NONE!

Surely by tomorrow or the next day, my pitifully neglected current writing on From Grace Abounds Grace will be resumed. (I pulled out the manuscript about seven days ago, sat there and stared blankly at its last written page, then promptly closed the document, moaned and groaned my way downstairs and crawled into bed, and that’s where I’ve been until today.)

So, all I can say is I hope no one is holding their breath until my novel’s release. Right now I just feel like it’ll get done when I get it done!

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Made It Into My Story…

face-maskOk, come on… like isn’t this cutest little thing you’ve ever seen?! Yeah, well I thought so too. Both of us did, and that’s why we each bought four of them.

When my daughter and I were looking for last minute stocking stuffers and cheapie filler gifts,  we came upon these. Two different brands. (My packets are sooo much cuter than hers!) I guess that last statement gave away that we were buying them for each other. There was going to be no surprise for either of us.

Yes, they’re total nonsense, but come on!!! How could we have possibly resisted them. And, the fact is that at my age (if not hers) we’re always looking for the miracle that will remove all lines, creases, wrinkles, spots, clumps, etc., from our otherwise perfect faces. (Excuse me while I excuse myself to go to the bathroom and dry heave over the toilet!)

The packets were so colorful (as you can see), and were supposed to do things like soothe, clarify, and make our faces supple. “Supple.” Now there’s a cool word, huh?!

I’ve always thought of “supple” as meaning to plump up. And, trust me… there’s NOTHING on my body that needs plumping up!!!

Well, bottom line is that I used one today. It’s already doused in whatever it’s doused in, so that all I had to do was remove it from the packaging and apply it to my face! And, it was glorious! Cooling, relaxing, and it smelled wonderful! When I removed it, I didn’t have to wash or rinse my face. It just dried on its own, leaving my skin… wait for it… “supple!!!”

From Grace Abounds Grace (tiny cover)Well, that’s interesting, Sheila, but what does it have to do with this blog’s purpose, which is to keep my readers “in the loop” on what’s going on in my novel, the one I’m in the midst of writing now… you remember… From Grace Abounds Grace.

Well, here’s the deal.

While I was examining my face after using the face mask sheet, I got to thinking…”Oh, my gosh! I need to use this in the story, where she’s having her all-night bachelorette party. They can lie on the floor, put on the masks, and then talk about…

Nope! Can’t tell anymore! But, it’s now definitely in the story! Yay!

Gotta get back to writing. I’m so jazzed about this!

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