Sunday, November 12, 2017


Today in church we began a few weeks of study in Jeremiah. Though I will reflect on the message later in the week, for now I remember Jeremiah 12:5. If you have raced with runners and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in a peaceful land, what will you do in the thickets of the Jordan.
I pause on this and wonder. I wonder at our assumption of peace in the wake of the massacre at Sutherland Springs. I wonder at what we consider peace while parts of the world burn, and at the non-peace of those without homes after the devastation of the hurricanes. I wonder at those of us who fight, even within, or maybe especially within, our families for an extra portion, a special place or even an inheritance.
As for running, I wonder at our race towards advent and the Christmas season, to decorate, to buy gifts to prepare food, to think of everyone and leave no-one out. And still, where is peace, what is the race we should run, who am I in God's plan?
Today, I was late for first church services and so, elected not to teach children's church but to participate in second church services. Today, I spoke with the worship and fellowship committee about children's church. I told them I would not be available for the early part of next year. Today I cooked brisket and potted Amaryllis for Christmas gatherings. Today, I lost a cap on a tooth and cannot eat candy or anything really. Today I am sad. I am sad for our nation. I am sad for our veterans who struggle with illnesses and memories, most of us can't imagine. I am sad to give up children's church. I am sad because in our tiny church and churches throughout the nation we are preparing for horror, strengthening security and assuaging worries, instead of worshiping in the freedom our forefathers declared and our veterans fought for.
I understand the need to use our minds and God given logic to prepare and strengthen ourselves, but there is no man-made defense against unmitigated evil. There is God alone.
I am sad just now, but I am racing walkers, not even runners. I will put my trust in God and perhaps the horses and I shall soon play. That's all for now.
Happy writing, happy reading and happy trails.   

Friday, October 27, 2017

Nano Prep?

Ghost Story Night
We read, we told tall tales and we drank coffee. Thanks to all who came to the adventure last night, and thanks to Stellar Coffee Co. Wahoo. We writers, we shy introverts got out and out of our shell.
I enjoy ghost stories for many reasons. I enjoy the whimsy of earlier fables, with faeries and elves, goblins and anthropomorphized creatures. I don't much care for gore, but, if it's a good story, it's a good story, and we shared some good ones last night. I told my story, but stay tuned. I'll write it tomorrow and share it here.
But next week ... ah, next week begins National Novel Writing Month. I am excited to pull up an old story, a bedtime story I told my son. I will be turning it into a novel at long last. I've made a few stabs, but nothing stuck, so I'm starting over and pleased to be working on middle grade fantasy once again.
So this year I've found many offerings for nano prep. Hum. In this post I wanted to look at the idea of preparing for a romp, the romp that is nano. Is that a good idea?
I'm of two minds. My novel Gabby Care came out of nano, but I worked on it for a long time afterwards in edits and rewrites. I see that a bit more outlining and structure would have helped pre-nano, but I also know that the outlining as I went helped keep me focused during the month. I had a rough idea of the book and where it was headed, but the sequence and mystery evolved as I wrote. I wonder now, if I had a stronger system, would I have eliminated edits and confusion? Surely I would have. But would I have had as much fun? I doubt it.
This year I plan on using Scrivener. We'll see how that goes. I like bulletin boards and poster boards and index cards, basically anything I can touch and see, but so many folks recommend the software that I thought I'd finally try it.
I will dedicate a portion of this weekend to nano prep along with Monday and Tuesday. I am cutting it a bit close, but I think it will be enough. Basically, I'm slicing the nano-prep-pie down the middle. A little prep, a little Scrivener, a little ghost story. It's shaping up to be a great weekend.
Let me know what you think. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Prickly Smiles
One more day until Fright Night Superb. I was thinking about how ghost stories are told rather than read. Reading is fine, but there is a different element when someone knows her story and seeks to entertain. I aim for raconteur and seldom reach it, but the well-told-tale is a rich tradition in my family. All of my brothers and my sister also know how to speak a tall twister. It's a gift. As they spin, I sit silently taking mental notes, smiling, often jealous, usually enthralled in a strange dance of family solidarity, history and unexpected love - the kind that clots your throat and makes you want to run from the power of it. I truly love a good story.
Today, my son and I spoke of character driven story. He had read Eudora Welty's, A Worn Path. He said it had little or no plot but the character ... the character ... the character. "Yes," I said. "The character."
What about character in ghost stories? Is there much chance outside of a sketch, or is it all character and man's decay is the frightful part. From a Christian standpoint, so many characters are doomed, already in ghostly decay, save for the blood of the lamb. In the secular wold the picture is even grimmer for its superficial nature, and doing right for ... why exactly. A good feeling in my bones, perhaps. Admittedly, I'm not good with the secular end of the argument, so I'll stop here.
I think in a longer work character is central to a good tall tale. In a short work I am not convinced. By tomorrow, however, I may change my mind. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 22, 2017


Since we're leading up to an evening of ghost stories at Stellar Coffee Co on Thursday night, and since my son asked, "what makes a good ghost story," I thought I'd ponder the subject of terrifying tales and frightening fables over a cup of coffee and a blog post.
As I perused the internet for ideas, fear or the unknown kept cropping up. Let me argue this one a little. I don't like the unknown, and, yes, I fear it, but when I, the reader, know something that the protagonist doesn't, I get to fear for them. Don't hide in that shed Veronica, that's where the madman hangs out and he's just fashioned a new garrote from a piano wire and a steel plate. Yikes.
In the Masque of the Red Death, Poe tells the reader much of what Prince Prospero doesn't know. The nobles are indifferent to the suffering of others and it will be their undoing. This isn't the same as Veronica in the example above, but it is similar in that the reader knows something the main character doesn't. The fright comes in the form of the Red Death, but the greater fright is the charge to the reader, be compassionate, remember those less fortunate and those who struggle, lest you also become entangled with a similar specter.
When the author wants to upset the reader's balance, fear of the unknown is a singularly useful tool. For the real scary stuff, the author doesn't want a whole new world, but a parallel creepy one, complete with my not-face in the mirror. Remember the Shining? I never could get my footing watching that movie and I've seen parts of it several times. And what about the Twilight Zone?
When I was very young, I saw a Don Knotts' movie, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken. In it the organ begins to play at midnight. It plays a horrible discordant tune that still scares me to this day. I covered my eyes and ears for this silly movie from the time the organ played until the ending credits rolled. The point for me was that discord. I could handle the minor key, but the jerky rhythm and harsh tones put me so far off center that I had to close it out. Though it was a funny movie and the girls I was with enjoyed it, I couldn't finish it. It scared me.
What else? Senses or lack of them, can be useful to heighten tension. If a narrator hears things only he can hear, as in the Tell-Tale Heart, or can't see, or maybe smells something that triggers a memory, especially if it is a memory of someone long gone. For years I kept a bottle of my grandmother's perfume in my dresser. I could open that bottle and instantly return to a childhood afternoon in her garden. Any afternoon with Granny was filled with wonder and adventure. The smell of freshly turned earth can signal spring or a new grave, author's choice.
On to setting. No place to run, or escape. Boxed in or, alone in the middle of a vast nowhere, both work to signal despair, no one is on the way. Turn and meet your fate, narrator.
Well, my coffee cup needs a warmer, so I'll leave off for now.
Let me know what scares you, reader. Until next time, mu ha ha.
This is also published at

Friday, October 20, 2017

Fiction University: Day Twenty: Idea to Novel Workshop: Developing You...

I am really enjoying these posts

Fiction University: Day Twenty: Idea to Novel Workshop: Developing You...: By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy Welcome to Day Twenty of Fiction University’s At-Home Workshop: Idea to Novel in 31 Days . For the rest of ...

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Fiction University: Get Ready for NaNo! At-Home Workshop: Idea to Nove...

Fun with Fiction University. Thank you Fiction University: Get Ready for NaNo! At-Home Workshop: Idea to Nove...: By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy Welcome to the home page of my newest at-home workshop, Idea to Novel in 31 Days . While this workshop is...

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Did Someone Say YA?

Joy Writers met for our final Spring workshop in May. We discussed a longer work by Carolyn Sidd. In the current draft, the female protagonist is in her early teens. Carolyn didn't intend for this submission to be considered YA, but was worried that it would become just that. This launched a great discussion concerning YA fiction in today's market.
The main distinction for me is not so much audience and who's buying. In middle-grade fiction, parents, grandparents teachers and gate keepers, control the purse strings. But, once we step into teen fiction, authors are vying for the bit of gold in teenage pockets. It's not just what mom and dad want their kiddos reading. Not unlike the less-than-savory lyrics audible even through a youngster's earphone, books also come into hearth and home without censorship or vetting.
What makes a teen pick up a teen book and actually spend limited funds on it? It is interesting and engaging to that young shopper.
When the fourth book in the Ranger's Apprentice Series came out, my husband and I were traveling. My husband is a veteran and not so young, but he enjoyed the series and was excited to get the latest book. He walked into a bookstore in Austin and searched for it. He couldn't find it. After a mild panic set in, he finally asked a clerk if they had the new release. The clerk replied that it was shelved with YA, but she didn't know why because the only folks buying the book were old warriors like him.
I love this story about my husband and a book. It reminds me that even us elders have imaginations and enjoy feeding them. But it also points to a change in the market, that the clerk knew. Teen readers were choosing their own books, and maybe marketing needed to catch up.
One of my favorite posts on the subject is Chuck Wendig's Terrible Minds Blog from 2013, not least because it is Chuck Wendig and he begins with a threat to the reader about using the word genre. Chuck Wendig does use foul language. Consider yourself warned. It's still a great article and funny. He wraps up his thoughts with the topic: Good Story is Good Story, No Matter the Age Range. I agree, and on that note, here's a plug for good story time in our neck of the woods.

Tickets available at:
Main Street Arts, Pecos Flavors, and Hippie Chicks
Tickets for Bookish Affair:
Friday 23rd June Matinee                                                $12
One Tale, Two Mediums a special showing of a Room with a View with tea and talk lead by Eva McCollaum.
            Bondurant Room Library 2:00pm
Friday 23rd June Smarten Your Tote                            $40
Potter, painter and all-around artist, Konii Carpenter will help you paint your own book bag with a fabulous unique design. Munchies and stories included. (BYOB) (Limited seating)
            The Main Street Art Gallery 6:00 pm
Saturday 24th June Brunch and Discussion               $20 (cash bar)
            The World of Word Craft presented by local authors.
            Pecos Flavors Winery 10:30am
Saturday 24th June, the “readers panel”                    Free (donations accepted)
Local book club leaders discuss their methods and plan for the coming year.
Bondurant Room Library 1:00pm
Saturday 24th June, Keynote Speaker                       Free
            Robert Wilder
            Bondurant Room Library 2:00, followed by book signing.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A Bookish Affiar

Two years ago Eva McCollaum put together, A Bookish Affair. See her post here: Choosing Ebenezer. The idea was to promote the literary arts in New Mexico, especially Southeastern NM. Readers, writers, book clubs, authors and our local library came together for a day of inquiry, learning and fabulous conversation. We are coming together again June 23rd and 24th.
I will be posting several times a week about this event and those involved. If you would like more information, please leave a note in the comments section of this post.
Mark your calendars and visit this blog, Choosing Ebenezer, or Quarter Bubble Short of Plumb to learn more in the weeks to come.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Authors and Authority, one Christian's Perspective

Spring has Sprung, Still Nattering about in Winter
Yesterday I gave my first session of Writing and Publishing 101 at the Ruidoso Public Library. I discussed the following and it seemed a good set of topics for those attending.

Finding your voice

·        You as author
What will you write?
Who will read it?
Why write in the first place?
·        Your predominant gestures
What are your areas of interests?
What observations draw your attention?
What themes reoccur in your conversations?
·        Develop your brand or public image
Kitsch character (or not) How do you want to be seen through your writing?
Meeting reader expectations. Who are my readers, again?
Blogging, to blog or not to blog?
·        Your voice
Thematic, what theme is developed in your current WIP?
Turn of phrase, what phraseology, mannerisms and word choice define your work?
Influences, what voices inspire you and feed your imagination?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wherever You Go

Hello. I am writing once again after a short absence. We had snow for a day and I saw this brave soul on his tricycle keeping up with traffic, however wobbly. While his presence and travail amused me, I was glad not to have to share his path. Then I thought of Ruth's words to Naomi in Ruth 1:16-17. She tells Naomi, "For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God." I cannot imagine what it would take to follow in someone's path as desperate as the path of Naomi.
I am led to several observations. First, it is not unlike a marriage vow. Second, it is not unlike our promise to Jesus as the Church, His bride. Finally, I think of the Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson. The poem, written in the late eighteen-hundreds, describes God as the Hound of Heaven, following, pursuing, claiming, even hunting down His people, His Church, His beloved. Ruth's statement cannot be fully turned as it predominately hinges on an example of full submission and discipleship. God is not our disciple, but we are His. Still, I think of Psalm 139:7-12. Where can we flee from God?
Naomi seems to wonder this. She doesn't continue to argue with Ruth, for whatever reason. The Bible tells us only that Naomi stops trying to persuade Ruth. I enjoy this. I don't know why it tickles me, but it does. I imagine a tired woman, hopelessly trudging back to her native land to face misery and shame, but here's Ruth doggedly stepping in the older woman's footprints, even taking on Naomi's God. I learn from Ruth, but I also learn from Naomi. She is tired and crushed and cannot see what God has in store for her.
In January, after the holidays, I often feel a sense of let down, as if I didn't get to the crux of the matter in celebrating Christ's birth. I missed the mark in the glitter and distraction. I am disappointed in myself. I look to this passage and take heart. I am beloved.
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus encourages us to follow Him. We will find rest for our souls.
Happy blessed, Christ-drenched 2017. May His yoke be easy and His burden light as You follow Him. Thanks for reading. Bev