60-Second Sanctuary is here!

My book, 60-Second Sanctuary, launches today! If you’d like a copy, please buy one now for $6 on Amazon.

dtp_7139330_USER_CONTENT_0This book grew out of my book from last fall, Creative Women’s Devotional (also on Amazon). People told me, “I liked your book, even though I don’t crochet,” or “I liked your book, even though I’m not Christian,” or “I liked your book, even though I’m not a woman! 😀 ”

After visiting with readers like this, I felt the need to write a devotional that connected us to the Spirit in a quick and open-ended way.

In my new book, 60-Second Sanctuary, every single devotion only takes a moment to practice. If you are busy but feel a longing to strengthen your creative and spiritual side, this book is made for you!

I would like to give a special thanks to my endorsers, Nick Larson and Jenny McGee, who wrote these words about my book.

“We all have but a few minutes a day. I know as a young parent and busy pastor that I often have the urge to ignore enriching my creative side because I feel too busy. Genevieve’s 60-Second Sanctuary is a fantastic tool to help focus my creative God spark and is such a grounded, plausible, inspirational tool that can make an impact in your life.”

—Nick Larson, associate pastor at Broadway Christian Church
and co-author of Never Pray Again

 

 

“I highly recommend these daily devotions because they bring you right to the heart of God. You can’t help but have a spiritual and creative transformation as you journey through this book.”

—Jenny McGee, abstract painter, Azulbyjennymcgee.com

I want to thank my family. My son, Derek, who is only in high school, both photographed and designed the cover. He’s way too talented for one person. If you need photos in the CoMo area, contact him. My husband, Logan, was master tea-maker and cheerleader.

❤ Thank you to the many friends and readers who encourage me with notes, gifts, meals, hugs, prayers and squeals when they see me. I love you! You keep me going more than you know!

Tonight (Wednesday) from 6:30 to 9 p.m. (central) I am having an online book launch party on Facebook if you’re interested. What’s an online book launch party? I will post some behind-the-scenes photos of my inspiration, show an excerpt of my raw writing and generally celebrate this happy day! What do I need to do at an online book party? Nothing! Like and comment if you want. Using an event is a way for me to talk about the book to my friends who want to hear about it and not add clutter to the main news feed for friends who aren’t interested. So if you like book stuff, then please join!

As always, God bless you today and always. Wherever the Spirit is leading you, I hope you will follow and find your next adventure. This book has been an adventure for me with ups and downs but a worthwhile journey. I know now I can travel lighter as I work on my next book (a short story memoir about yarn things!)

PS—I hope you’ll let me know how you like 60-Second Sanctuary! If you find it helpful, would you please leave a review on Amazon or on your social media? I’m an indie author and every mention helps the book find its way to new readers. Thanks! ❤

Tuesday Fun-day and you’re invited!

scrapghan

If you’re predicting future thirst on Tuesday, I have the solution for you!

I’ll be part of two separate events on campus, and both of them will have refreshments.

MU Staff Arts & Crafts Showcase Grand Opening
Tuesday, May 19
Noon
Stotler Lounge, Memorial Union

Held in Mizzou’s iconic Memorial Union, the show will feature more than 40 different tables of artwork by woodworkers, painters and fiber artists like me. I’ll have a selection of handmade retro-inspired pieces on display and do a live demonstration of crochet.

I’m grateful for the honor of being one of the speakers this year, so I will appreciate any friendly faces in the crowd!

Enjoy art, refreshments and door prizes at this event that is free and open to the public.

A donation for the Food Bank gets you extra chances for door prizes!

MU Campus Authors Reception
Tuesday, May 19
3 p.m.
Jesse Hall rotunda

As if the word rotunda wasn’t appealing enough, you’ll enjoy light refreshments at this event as well. Held in Mizzou’s other iconic building, Jesse Hall, MU authors published in 2014 will have their books on display…in the rotunda.

This event is also free and open to the public.

(Don’t you think rotunda should be our Word of the Day? As an example used in a sentence, “Oh Winifred, let’s make plans now to mingle with the Mizzou authors in the rotunda on Tuesday.” Way fancy.)

See you there

I hope to see all my friends at one or both of these events supporting my writing and my yarn adventures. You keep me going. Without you, my work would be useless.

Because what is an afghan without anyone to snuggle under it and feel how cozy it is? What is a blog post without anyone to read it?

Thank you for encouraging me with my creative pursuits!

Blessings on your week.

Editing my life for 2015

Home is where the dog is.
Home is where the dog is.

If you had the ultimate power to edit your life in 2015, what would you change? Do you have people who don’t support you? Do you have a home that doesn’t support you? Do you have a habit that no longer serves you? The good news is that you have the power to change these situations!

In 2015, I want to edit my novel and my life.

Novel Editing

I’m three highlighters deep into editing my first draft of my novel from NaNoWri (excerpts in case you missed them). I bolster myself to be brutal each time I pick up the highlighter. No mercy! I think.

Where I thought I would have to cut a lot, I need the opposite. My novel writing style seems to mirror my poetry writing style: sparse. I need to put some weight on the bones of the words I already have and fatten the story up!

Life Editing

As for editing my life, I see it in two parts: home and self.

Home

My home needs streamlining. We have too much stuff for the space we live in. That is the reality.

This realization helps me to not feel guilty. No matter how many systems I try, the problem is more stuff than places to put it all away.

To start, I focused on our bedroom as the place to make spacious and open.

First, I removed all the boxes I stored under our bed and moved them to the bathroom. Who knew I had so much memorabilia? How much do I need to remember?

I still have to go through all the boxes and steel myself to edit their contents with a hard eye. If I try to hold onto everything, I won’t have space to welcome the good things that are coming to me.

So memorabilia weeding is in my future. For now, the space under the bed is clear so I am called that a success.

Next, I saw the floor of the closet after a big cleaning out. I’m afraid I can’t even remember the last time I’ve seen that floor. I know it didn’t happen in 2014. Now I can actually walk in my closet. Novelty!

Self

The editing of self comes with healthier eating, regular exercise and working with God.

For 2015, I created a healthy four-week meal plan. This will help reduce our costs and shopping time. With our meals already decided, a menu will free my mind to think of other things. I built in making extra of some meals so others are already taken care of. So far, it’s been efficient. I will let you know more about it later after we’ve gone through a few cycles.

My exercise plan focuses on making exercise a daily habit. Some days, we only do eight minutes of yoga. But I call that success! My sister taught me the power of accumulation. Even a few minutes a day adds up to something respectable for the year. At the end of 2015, how proud will I feel if I say I exercised every single day? And even if I only do eight minutes a day, I will have 48 hours of exercise total.

Finally, my plan for spiritual growth will be a new prayer for wellness this year. Last year, I held the word simple in my heart. I sang about simplicity. I felt these prayers work in my life. Today I have less intensity about acquisition.

This year, I will focus on wellness and well-being:

  • I know things will work out. With God, all things are possible.
  • All is well.
  • May my loved ones be well.
  • May my valued readers be well.

Did you make a New Year’s resolution to change something about your life? Even if you haven’t had success this first week, it’s not too late to try again.

Think about your life as a practice in editing. Make little changes and those little changes will add up to a good story. Never give up! Keep practicing so you can feel happy of yourself!

Do you have prayers about wellness or hopes for the new year? I welcome them in the comments! Have a wonderful week!

Light for the New Year

home

2014 was a good and bright year! One of the highlights was the book signing in September. I had fun seeing everyone and getting a taste of celebrity (and that is all I need…just a taste).

If you remember my 2014 resolution, I did well with my singing and sang almost every day. My husband was sweet enough to sing with me. The song acted as a way to start the day with a reminder of what matters. It’s not the race to be fastest on the highway or be most powerful but what matters is a humble, thankful heart. Life can be as simple as I make it.

An ongoing source of joy was time with family, friends and animals. Our home is a place of sanctuary and peace for me. I’m grateful to learn that I made a difference in people’s lives, as shown in this story by a former student of mine, A profile in how to live a joyful life: Genevieve Howard.

My plans for 2015 include

  • Edit my story that I wrote during NaNoWriMo and publish it
  • Improve my physical health so I’m more flexible and vibrant
  • Finish my Creative Women’s Devotional and publish it
  • Encourage others in their faith, creativity and hope

My most popular posts of 2014

  1. Four points of prayer shawls
  2. If Mother’s Day hurts
  3. Box baby and my brother’s camera
  4. What happens when a pastor, a poet and an artist walk in a house?
  5. Say the wrong thing

I’m glad to see these are the most popular. They were all close to my heart: prayer, crochet, honesty, my family and my writing. Thank you for your support of my blog.

I wish you loving people, interesting adventures, a lightness of spirit and health in the coming year.

May God bless you!

NaNoWriMo 2014 excerpt #3: Dot starts her last year at school

I keep on walking the route. I see more homes. Some falling apart. Some look like they will make it through the coming winter. I see people who are alone and people who are in families. Even if I don’t know the exact story of somebody, I can make a pretty good guess.

I can tell if it’s a farm family, or a fishing family, or a family that’s given up and does the drug. I don’t know everybody by name, but I recognize every place on the route. I couldn’t tell you the names of the lanes that lead off it, but I know them all.

I have them memorized from the years of walking by. I notice if someone’s dog is missing or if they cut down a tree. I notice if they buy a new pony or have a baby. Suddenly there are toys in the front.

Once I get to the village, the road gets even and smooth. So many people use it between the houses.

Our school is a simple building. You might not even recognize it from all the other buildings in the village. Last spring, I couldn’t wait to leave it.

Seeing it this morning, knowing it’s my last year, I feel hot in my eyes. So stupid! Who cries on the first day of school for their last year? Even though it hasn’t always been fun, it feels better to be with people than on my own.

I blink. Stop it, Dot, stop it. Get a grip. Head up. Do you want them to see you like this?

I keep on walking.

Of course, I’m the first person. Our teacher says a word of welcome to me.

“Sit where you like, Dot. Did you have a good summer?”

“It was fine, thanks.”

I pick a spot by the window. The grey clouds hang over. They’re light from the long sunrise.

NaNoWriMo-2014-excerpt-3-Dot-starts-her-last-year-at-schoolIn my notebook, I write the date. I doodle in the margins. Ponies, seabirds, swirls.

People trickle in and greet each other. I get their “hellos” and “hey Dots.”

I try to answer back.

Finally, Abby comes in.

“Sorry I didn’t walk with you today, Dot! My ridiculous sisters! I will walk with you tomorrow, OK? They are just driving me crazy!”

She launches into a story that involves her sisters and sweaters and whose was what and who calls it borrowing and who calls it stealing.

I love being friends with Abby. She makes it so easy.

She loves to talk and I love to listen. I hardly have to say a thing and we can have a conversation for an hour. As long as I ask a question here and there, she will keep going.

And maybe, I wouldn’t even have to do that!

NaNoWriMo 2014 excerpt #2: Dot on the route

"Swaledale Sheep, Lake District, England - June 2009" by User:Diliff - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
“Swaledale Sheep, Lake District, England – June 2009” by User:Diliff – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

I decide to take the wagon route.

It’s longer but smoother. This is the route everyone takes with their animals. Anyone not a daredevil, or former mountain runner, or past the age of 40 takes the wagon route. It’s called the route.

My mind made up, I don’t have to bother hurrying. I check out all the places I pass as I walk.

First, the old man’s place. He isn’t out. They say he used to be a big man on the mainland, but the drug got him. Now he waits out the rest of his life just to smoke and dream. He hardly talks. His place is falling down around him. I think it’s depressing.

Further down, I see Violet’s house. She is a sweet woman with twin boys. Her husband’s a fisherman like my dad. I hear sounds from her house. I always like to see what the boys have built in her yard. They construct ships and houses from whatever they can find around the island.

I walk for a while with wild lands to see. The heather looks dusky purple in the dawn. It’s like I am the only one on the island. The wind whirls my hair. It feels fresh and I’m almost in a good mood. Maybe this last year of school will be OK.

Now I see my favorite place. It’s the old woman’s. She keeps sheep. They dot the pasture. Her place always looks lively. She moves them from different paddocks. I don’t know why.

Today they’re in the paddock closer to the road. I lean on the stone fence. Their wool looks thick and cozy. I hear them breathe and chew. I like how they move as a group if anything startles them. It looks nice to be part of a sheep herd. They graze together and go everywhere together too.

I look up toward the barn. Cats sit outside the barn door. I don’t see the old woman anywhere. Just as well. Some people say she’s a witch. She doesn’t mix much with people in the village. I’ve seen her take the ferry to the mainland with a sheep sometimes, or a pile of knitted goods taller than her when she sits next to it.

I don’t know why she wouldn’t just give it to the storekeeper for him to sell. Nobody understands her.

NaNoWriMo 2014 excerpt #1: Meet Dot

This month, I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo as it’s affectionately known. This year, more than 400,000 people around the world have joined the challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. In Columbia, Missouri, we have more than 200 people taking part. On day 5, we’ve already written about 700,000 words as a community. Amazing! I appreciate how NaNoWriMo makes a solitary endeavor into a social one. Send me your luck and encouragement for my adventure of writing fiction for the first time!

For my blog during November, I’ll be posting unedited excerpts from my writing. My story is a Young Adult novel that centers on Dot, a 17-year-old girl in her last year at school on the foggy island where she lives. Just when she thinks her life as an awkward outcast has ended with the start of a new relationship, she has to decide how much she will give to be in a couple. Her boyfriend, Drake, gets involved with an unusual drug. Will she get involved too? 

Excerpt #1: Meet Dot

fogTurning the light on is the hardest part of the morning when my dad’s gone. The house is quiet. It’s up to me to wake up.

Days when he’s home, the light from the kitchen floods in my room. The smell of coffee wafts over my bed. He rattles around, clinking mugs and getting his toast ready. I love it when he’s home. Our house is a much friendlier place.

But it’s the first day of school and he’s not here. I sigh and turn on the light. It’s my job to be the responsible one.

I keep my shawl on the top of my bed so I can wrap up in it first thing. It’s warm. It doesn’t matter than it’s August. We don’t have a warm season on the island. We have a frosty, foggy, windy winter and a foggy, windy, cool summer. They say there are two seasons here where the mainland has four.

Once in the kitchen, I put on the kettle. I only have coffee when my dad’s home. I just make tea if it’s me.

I have all my school supplies set out from the night before. I keep them in a felted wool bag I made myself. We’re known for our wool and knitted items.

I gather my things and leave early so I can make it in time. I know there are people in my class who haven’t even woken up by the time I have to leave my house. They can wake up and run down the mountain to class, making it in time.

For me, I have to plan. “My planner and plodder girl,” says my dad.

I go out the gate and start to walk the rocky way to school.

I still haven’t decided which way to take.

The way most people my age would take is steep. It’s a direct path down to the village on the waterfront. Rocky, rough and only a person’s width, I only walk it if I’m with someone who insists. I’ve fallen too many times on it to make it my first choice.

But I’ve been thinking that I could learn to walk it. If it were early enough like now, maybe I could find all the places I have enough traction. I could go slowly, not holding anyone back behind me. I would save at least 10 minutes.

I stand at the place where the shortcut starts.

The cut or the route?

As always, I see the steepness and catch my breath. If I fall, I will have to start school with bruises and blood. Once again, I’ll hear their names. Dumb Dot. Clumsy Dot. Or even worse, Poor Dot with her bad leg. She must have tried to take the shortcut again.

I imagine the girls shaking their heads in pity over me. I decide to take the wagon route.

Scott Berkun’s new book, The Ghost of My Father

Scott Berkun launches his new book today, the Ghost of My Father, a thoughtful memoir of family and reflection.

Scott Berkun

Scott BerkunI first came to know Scott Berkun’s writing while I was at a communication seminar on campus where I work. One of the required books to read was Confessions of a Public Speaker. I got myself my own copy and was drawn to someone with years of public speaking experience who openly showed what was behind the curtain.

As a person immersed in web, social media, writing and speaking, I hear much about experts who know secrets they would be happy to reveal for a price. Not the case with Berkun.

Generous with his process and materials, he engages his readers with questions and curiosity. I don’t know him personally, but he has been a great help to me in my professional development as a writer and speaker. I use his Speaker Checklist at each conference where I speak.

He’s a clear and graceful writer, his skills honed from years of putting thoughts to paper. He opens up mysteries using his considerable intellect, much as Houdini exposed spiritualists of his day.

He’s recommended books to me that I have relished and showed all his readers the process of making this memoir. I voted on the cover (my bench choice won!) and read the raw excerpts on his blog. I’ve learned from him as he’s gone along, seeing how he markets this memoir and rallies his fans to support it.

Celebrity often comes with condescension. Again, not the case with Berkun. Honest with his readership, he doesn’t shy away from confessing he doesn’t know everything.

In his heart, he is a learner.

Memoirs

The Ghost of My Father by Scott BerkunLoyal readers of my blog know I’ve gone through two drafts of my memoir, with a fresh rewrite planned for next year after I finish my devotional.

I read a lot of memoirs so I was interested to see how a writer I know in other contexts would approach this genre.

With this personal story, Berkun turns his intellectual power of careful examination to his own family. In Berkun’s memoir, you won’t find extreme drama like in Liar’s Club or Hope’s Boy. Instead, we read a story of difficulties most people will recognize.

The effects of his father’s affairs are described in poignant detail. We learn of Berkun’s personal transformation from a kid eager for his father’s attention to a man who sees his father as “a fool”.

As hard as he looks at his family dynamics, he looks at himself even harder. He seeks to connect the events of the past with his current outlook. How many times has he reached out to his father? Why does he repeat what didn’t work?

In the end, being a best-selling author who has studied business processes and the cognitive aspects of creativity doesn’t change Berkun’s role as son.

That is the truth for all of us. No matter how many accomplishments and experiences we add to our lives, we will always remain sons and daughters who long for our parents’ acceptance, acknowledgement and affection.

We want our parents to be people we understand and respect.

I had great compassion for his father as I read. I could see parts of my own father and parts of myself. As parents, we underestimate our influence. His father, whether unable to feel or unable to express himself, lashes out in short bursts and retreats in silence for long periods, leaving everyone stranded in their own interpretations of what the silence means.

In that silence, the seed of this memoir was planted.

With vulnerability and reflection, Berkun wrestles with the question, why can’t my father love my family the way we need to be loved?

He writes, “Art is how you find yourself.”

He can’t make what he wants to: a stable, close family. He makes the next best thing: art.

The pain, the confusion, the frustrated desire to connect but be unable to: all this becomes material for art in the form of this memoir where growth still seems possible. We see a tentative peace in his family. Optimism for his nieces and nephews. An offering of his own family story in hopes of helping others.

Ghost of My Father is available now (read an excerpt: bit.ly/ghost-excerpt). Fifty percent of the profits will be donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.

30 days to a better book

Photo by Michael Maggs, Wikimedia Commons
Photo by Michael Maggs, Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been reading books on drugs.

And looking online about how to keep sheep.

I carry a small notebook in my purse. Last night, I took it out at the restaurant and wrote, “She is so large that she can’t cross her arms. She has to settle for crossing her hands and tucking them beneath her wrists because of her width.”

Drugs? Sheep? Scribbling notes about strangers in fast food places? What could be going on?

I only have a few weeks to research drugs, sheep and characters before I start writing my first fiction novel in November for National Novel Writing Month!

Known affectionately as NaNoWriMo, or NaNo, this month requires writing about 1,700 words daily for a final word count of 50,000. It’s a community event open to everyone. Interested? Check out the NaNo site and join me! (There’s even a NaNo prep page).

Why do NaNo?

nano logoWhy would thousands of writers push themselves to produce so much in so little time? It’s fun to try! Even if someone doesn’t make the word count, any words written are more than existed before.

As my longtime readers know, I have two drafts of my memoir done, thanks to NaNo. Neither of them satisfies me.

My husband, Logan, suggested I practice pure fiction as a way to learn the craft of a novel-length story. After more practice, the next draft of the memoir might be easier to wrangle.

As I come from a poetry background where I think in a handful of words, a fictional story sounded like a good challenge for me.

Foxhunting_in_Wooded_Country

Like the first time at a foxhunt, my trusty horse of imagination ripples in anticipation. The dogs are baying. The horns will blow. Come November first, we gallop.

During November, you’ll have a front-row seat for my first time writing fiction and be able to see my excerpts here. There might be sheep…or dragons.

Ready for the adventure with me?

Blessing

Lord, today you offer us new things to try.
Stories waiting to be written,
dances waiting to be danced,
fabric waiting to be quilted.

Cause our minds to see what could be
and our hearts to dare to do it.

Tell me your thoughts!

What fresh challenge awaits you?

In the news: red scarf and book launch

red scarf detail
scarf
I finished the six-foot red scarf!

What a pleasure to celebrate our book this week! I felt honored that so many friends and fans chose to come to our book launch party. Despite the rain, we had a full house. Thank you for braving the downpour! You are my people! I loved seeing all of you.

Many of you who couldn’t make it were there with us in spirit. I’ll have photos and videos, stories and moments to share with you in an upcoming post.

My friend Robyn asked me how it feels to be a “celebrity author.”

I will tell you. It feels strange!

It reminds me of a year ago when I cut my hair short. I had many long hair habits I wasn’t aware of, including the pillow habit. When I put my head down on the pillow, I used to flip my hair up to the top of the pillow. For a solid six weeks, my hand went to my head to brush my hair up when I laid down.

Night after night, how surprised I was. No hair!

Then the night came when I put my head directly on the pillow without needing to sort out my hair first. I had no hair to tangle.

I learned how to be a person with short hair.

Now I am learning to be a person who lets her words live in public.

It’s tempting to protect my words. Keep them safe inside.

But how would I have adventures like this week?

I’m grateful to you for making a home for my words in your minds and hearts. Your encouragement keeps me going, keeps me writing. God bless you.

Blessing

Lord, you are strength
when we are bruised, torn and questioning.
You are comfort
when loss crushes us and
we can’t stop the bleeding.
You are love
always seeking us even when
we can’t look up.

In the rain, in the night,
you are love, strength and comfort.

Always seeking us.
Always seeing us.

Tell me your thoughts!

Who is an author you think I should read to help me grow spiritually or as a writer?