Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for October, 2014

“A Christian Author? Really?”

That was the response I received at the park the other day as I talked with a woman I just met as our sons became quick friends in the sand box. I’ll admit, I didn’t know how to respond. In a heartbeat, several scenarios ran through my mind:

Lady: “A Christian Author? Really?”

Me: “Right? I’m mean, there aren’t many of us.”

Which lead me to think, Why aren’t there more of us?

or…

Lady: “A Christian Author? Really?”

Me: “I know, can you believe it?” said with a negative tone.

But, no. This isn’t the correct response. I hope that if you ever met me, it would completely make sense. What else would I write about?

 

My actual response:

“Yep.”

 

Her next question: “Why? I mean, haven’t all the stories about Jesus been told in the Bible?”

IMG_0196

 

Me: “No. It’s likely that all the stories about Jesus aren’t even in the Bible. We have a few, but he was 33 years old when he was crucified. He lived, traveled and taught his Apostles for three years. There is no way ALL of that is included in the Gospels. Besides, if Jesus is who he says he is – the Savior – and he is; if he taught us that we can find forgiveness and mercy in our belief in him – and we can; if he promised us Heaven – and it’s real, does his story end with his Resurrection and Ascension? No. If Jesus is the Son of God, then he is just as active in the lives of people today as he was when he walked the earth. There are millions of stories there. I try to tell just a few.”

Unforgettable Roads Front Cover

She liked my answer, but lamented the fact that so many writers today write to shock, to sell, to entertain, to fall into a popular trend. Her comment lead me to prayerfully consider what we as a community of people are called to do. Where do we find the list of goals and instructions for our lives? Yeah, the Bible. Below are the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. The bullet point listed in blue is what I’ve added specifically in regard to my purpose as a writer, but the question should be asked of every person in every career.

 

Spiritual Works of Mercy

Counsel the doubtful.

  • Encourage the youth.
  • Speak kindly and honestly.
  • Spend time with those who doubt the faith.
  • We are not called to relax in our faith, but to strive toward bringing the faith to others. Faith in God is Truth. Share it. It will change the world.
  • Write stories that inspire those who have been hurt, those who have seen terrible things. Write the truth.

Instruct the ignorant.

  • Teach by example. Not only your own children, but everyone you come in contact with.
  • Read and share. If you haven’t read a book in the last week, you have nothing new to share.
  • Tutor
  • Be a mentor.
  • Write about the time you learned humility. What about that time you learned what it meant to be virtuous? Does your writing instruct (without being preachy) or do your characters simply react to situations without an overall guiding belief?

Admonish the sinner.

  • Again, teach by example.
  • Be gentle in your words of correction.
    • When Ben Franklin was young, he was an unkind know-it-all whom no one liked. When this was pointed out to him by a good friend, Ben started tempering his statements with:
      • I might be wrong, but I think…
      • It seems to me that…
      • What do you think will happen when/if…
      • (I’m going to add this one) I think I know what you are going through. Can I tell what you happened to me?
  • Admonish, according to the dictionary.com means: to caution, advise, or counsel against something. Although this has a negative connotation, it doesn’t have to be practiced in that way. Admonishment can – and should – be encouragement.
  • For writers, the rule is “Don’t preach. Entertain.” No one appreciates being told they are wrong. What story helped you understand how to make good decisions? What can you share that will help others learn from your (or a characters’) mistakes? The best experience is someone else’s experience.

Comfort the sorrowful.

  • Hug those who need you.
  • Write letters to friends. Good old-fashioned letters with hand-written messages sent with a stamp.
  • Bring food to friends who are sad.
  • Cry with them.
  • Listen.
  • Text, Facebook, and Twitter encouragement.
  • What does your writing – fiction or non-fiction – do to support hope? The world is full of sorrow, conflict, and death. While death is in our future, it should never be a way of life. Offer life.

Forgive all injuries.

  • Forgiveness is the greatest medicine of all! You know that thing that so&so did all those years ago? Yeah, that. You felt your skin flash with heat at the thought of it. Let it go. (Don’t sing the song, just let that feeling go.) Forgive them. Forget the event. Learn from it, don’t repeat it. But don’t allow that event to dictate your future.
  • Forgiveness doesn’t make you weak. Think about what it means to forgive. It means that you aren’t going to harness a mistake to another person. If you believe that slavery is a horrifying human existence, then you would never pierce another person with the irons of un-forgiveness.
  • Forgiveness not only helps the other person move forward, but it does the same for you. Un-forgiveness chains you to the past.
  • How does your writing reflect the power of Forgiveness? Do you know the power of forgiveness? Explore it in your writing.

Bear wrongs patiently.

  • People who have strong character have high expectations for themselves, but are easy on others. Those who have a weak character have really high expectations for everyone else, but are easy on themselves. Think of the last big football game you watched with a big crowd (at the stadium, tailgating, or a Super Bowl setting). Was the person shouting the loudest and most passionately at the players bearing a less than athletic physique? Who are we to impatiently watch others try and fail if we are just sitting on the sidelines?
  • Even if we are actively involved, we must allow for error because someday it will be our turn to sit in the hot seat.
  • Writers practice this always… with those agents and editors that don’t know how amazing we are 🙂

Pray for the living and the dead.

  • Who can’t use more prayer?
  • The Catholic Church teaches that we can still pray for those who have died. There are three different levels of existence: The Church Triumphant (Saints in heaven. And not just the Saints the Catholic Church celebrates, but every soul that has made it to heaven); The Church Militant (Us. Now. We living souls in the World who struggle to survive, to believe, to have faith); the Church Suffering (those who have died and are in Purgatory. Purgatory is to be feared, but it’s like the ultimate cleansing before heaven. Based on my studies on this topic, I would much prefer to go straight to heaven and skip the cleansing fires of Purgatory. But if it’s between the cleansing fires of Purgatory and the damning fires of Hell, I chose Purgatory.) All that to say, the Church Triumphant prays for us (Militant) and for the Suffering (Souls in Purgatory). We can do something similar. We can pray for the Suffering (to reach Heaven soon) and ask the soul in Heaven (because they have already triumphed) to pray for us in our sufferings. Just as we pray for our family and friends, so too can those in heaven pray for us. As a writer, or in choosing books to read, do I choose Triumphant literature (steeped in Truth), Militant literature (stories of those striving for Good and Right), or Suffering Literature (stories that change how I see suffering, sacrifice, pain, and difficulty as a means to beauty). If I write anything outside of these, I am choosing to fill my mind with stories that do me no good.

I would be interested to hear your opinion on these Spiritual Works of Mercy. It’s not a question of faith, but of intent. What is the purpose of your writing, or your career, your hobbies?

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

There was a day in my past when I truly believed that I needed to know how to do everything. And then I became a mom. I realized I knew nothing.

Nadda.

No thing.

I wish I had read Deliver Me: Confessions of Motherhood, a compilation of essays edited by Laura Diamond. Mothers are a species unto their own. Stories of labor and delivery are bonds of friendships – those personal battlefields of brining forth life when we struggle against the pain to receive the joy of motherhood. And the pain doesn’t stop there… as I’m typing this, there is a four-year-old loudly singing as he rifles through the box of Legos for just the right piece. In the background, my three daughters are all practicing their instruments. And now the dog is barking. As much as I would like to run screaming from the house, I also know that these days are short and precious. There will be a day when my house is too quiet and I will crave this chaos. I wish I could bottle up this noise so I can savor it on a day when I would truly appreciate it.

Laura Diamond understands this. Deliver Me is just the beginning. This girl is going places! Watch for her name. This might be the first time you hear of her, but it certainly won’t be the last!

51LAfX88+dL._AA160_

 

  1. Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood is one of those books that make the reader laugh and cry. What was the inspiration behind the project?

 

The inspirations for this project were my two little boys, and the talented writers of the L.A. Poets & Writers Collective.

As a stay-home mom with two little boys, I yearned for a creative outlet. I wanted to make something, other than sandwiches. I was lucky to be in a writing class with members of the L.A. Poets & Writers Collective, taught by the poet Jack Grapes. Every week in class, students read from our most recent work. And every week I was blown away by what I heard. Some writers, like me, wrote about parenthood. I thought, why not put some of these together to capture many voices on the same life-changing experience of parenthood. I put out a call for submissions, and the stories started coming in. I chose two of my own pieces, and selected work from nineteen other women to create this anthology.

Headshot, hi res

 

  1. I noticed on your blog that you list (and presumably support) several non-profit organizations that help women and the disadvantaged – One Billion Rising, Kiva.org, and A Window Between Worlds – to name just the first three listed. How are you involved with these organizations? What is it that drew you to include them on your blog? What is the ‘Call to Action’ you hope for from your blog readers?

Growing up, social action was part of our family’s life and values. My parents were always involved in politics, and that naturally became part of my world view. In Judaism, “Tikkun Olam,” or healing the world, is central.

I thought that a blog about motherhood should highlight organizations that help women and girls. I chose organizations that I have personally donated to because of their mission and their effectiveness. One Billion Rising, for example, is a multinational movement started by the playwright Eve Ensler, focused on ending violence against women worldwide. A Window Between Worlds, brings art therapy to women and families in Los Angeles who have suffered domestic violence. Kiva.org makes microloans to women in developing countries, so that they can start small businesses. Evidence shows that when women thrive, their families and villages benefit.

The organization I am most committed to is PATH Beyond Shelter, which is dedicated to helping homeless families get back into permanent housing, find employment, and rebuild their lives. Every mother should have a place to tuck in her children at night, no exceptions. I joined their Board when my younger son was one year old, after I had met a homeless woman with a child his age. Over $2,000 in proceeds from sales of Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood has been donated to Beyond Shelter. Also, my forthcoming novel, Shelter Us, touches on the plight of homeless families.

 

  1. As the editor of a book dedicated to mothers, would you share one of your favorite stories from your own experience as a mother? (happy, sad, touching… you choose 😉

 

My mother-in-law says, Men tell war stories; women tell birth stories. Here’s one more.

Contrary to public perception, just because you’re nine months pregnant doesn’t mean you know the first thing about giving birth. Thank goodness the baby knows what to do. You just have to stay out of the way.

Still, when I was nine months pregnant with my second child, you might think I’d be well versed in the experience. Not so. Even though I had given birth once, I had no idea what it felt like to go into labor. I had been induced the first time. So it was with some bewilderment that I said to my husband one Sunday morning, the day before my due date, “I feel…funny.”

“Are you in labor?”

“How should I know?”

So we went on with our day, taking our 3 ½ -year-old son to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, with its ponies and live music and, of course, farmers. An hour later, I felt “funny” every twenty minutes.

“I think we should go home,” I said.

“Can I have ice cream?” our son said.

“Sure,” my husband said, prompted by guilt over bringing a new baby into our family, as well as by a hankering for Phish Food.

They sat in Ben & Jerry’s enjoying their cones. I paced outside. I felt like an octopus was inside me, pressing on all my parts and levers, seeing how things worked. I had to keep moving to stay a step ahead of it.

When we got home, I called my parents who lived nearby to let them know it was time for them to come over. They came, as did my sister and nieces. They were all there to care for and play with our little boy so we could scoot out to the hospital to give him a brother.

As we said our excited good-byes, my little boy had these parting words: “Mommy, play with me.” He sat on the hardwood floor surrounded by wooden Thomas-style trains, with dozens of track pieces spilled around him. That wood floor had never looked so hard and unwelcoming. “Play with me?” he asked again. How could I say no to this child who I loved more than anything in the world, who would soon be second fiddle to a needy newborn?

My husband stood at the door holding my bag. My parents, concerned for their own baby, said, “Go on, we got this covered.” I looked from them to him. The sweet green eyes, the crown of brown ringlets – how to resist? I wobbled over, sat down on the unforgiving floor, and played trains until the next contraction lifted me off my feet and out the door.

 

  1. What kinds of marketing techniques have you implemented? What has worked…what hasn’t?

 

Book readings! These are the most fun, and when you have 20 authors in one book, each has a long list of friends to invite to different venues. It’s important to only go places where you know you have enough friends or family to show up. I approached independent bookstores in cities where I have lots of family and friends, and they were all welcoming. I used direct e-mail to get people to come, as well as some giveaways.

 

  1. Your bio on your blog mentions that you didn’t enter the world of adulthood seeking a career as a writer, but have always kept a journal. I have two questions: First, what drew you to keep a journal? Second, what led you to writing? (was it a hobby or did you start writing with a mission in mind?)

 

My first journal was a Hello Kitty diary, in which I wrote about the daily travails of a fourth grader. I still have it. I was pretty funny. The next journal I had was a gift to me when I was 13, from one of my mom’s oldest friends. That marked the beginning of my adolescent journal-keeping, a practice that kept me sane and centered through high school and college. Writing in my journal was a way to sort out the tangled emotions of adolescence. To figure out who I was and what I wanted.

I loved the way I felt when I wrote, the way it awakened my senses and powers of observation, both to the outside world and my inner self. I kept writing a journal through law school and while practicing law, but never thought of it as something more than a hobby.

When my first son was 2 ½ years old, I decided to pause my law career. I realized with excitement that maybe that would also give me more time to write. I wrote whatever was on my mind – which was a lot mom-stuff and kid-stuff and nap-stuff. Frankly, I was disappointed in myself. I thought I should be writing about something more substantial, more worldly. That is, until another writer, who was not a parent, told me that my writing brought them into a world totally unlike their own life. So I said, to heck with it, I’m a woman with two little kids, and this is what’s on my mind. I write what I write. And the rest of the book unfolded.

My muses came in human form, my two boys. Before they were born, I was a lawyer who had always liked writing. After they were born, I became a writer. I recently returned to practicing law, but I’ve kept writing. Now I do all the things I love: lawyer, writer, mother.

 

  1. What writing resources do you find valuable? (conferences, books, magazines, blogs?)

One of my current favorite websites/blogs is Writer Unboxed. Anne LaMott’s Bird by Bird is a favorite, as are Carolyn See’s The Literary Life, Stephen King’s On Writing. One of my favorite writing resources is to read great writers.

 

  1. What snippet of wisdom – a quote or a saying your parents spoke frequently – would you like to share to inspire?

 

My parents didn’t speak aphorisms, unless you count “What am I, chopped liver?”

My Dad did often say to me and my sister when we were bickering about something silly, “Remember, girls, you are the only sister each of you will ever have. You will be sisters for the rest of your life.” He meant, you are family, you must value and support each other. She is one of my biggest supporters, and Writers need as much moral support as we can get. I now tell my own children, “Remember boys, you have one brother for the rest of your life,” to remind them to stick together and support each other.

My parents always made sure I knew that I could achieve anything I set my mind to. That didn’t mean it would be easy. But believing in yourself is necessary to stick with a project until you achieve it.

 

Upcoming Events:

My debut novel, Shelter Us, will be published in June 2015 by She Writes Press. I look forward to sharing more events then!

 

Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood, available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and select Indie stores.

www.ConfessionsofMotherhood.com

Twitter @LauraDiamond1

 

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: