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Christy Catherine Marshall

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August 26, 2006

I’m a tiny bit jealous of those of you who live in Texas. Coming up next month, your state will be the center of the world for all who are interested in Christian publishing. Forget New York or Nashville, Dallas is where it’s happenin’ in September.

So, what’s going on? For starters, the North Texas Christian Writers’ Conference will be held September 8-9 at the Cross Timbers Community Church. From the online map, it looks like it’s somewhere between Ft. Worth and Dallas.

There’s a Writing Contest open to all who register for this conference, and you can still make the deadline, if you send in your submission by midnight on Wednesday, September 7:

Adult Fiction Novel, one chapter, including 1-2 page synopsis.
Children’s fiction short story or book, up to 1200 words.
Devotional, 600 word maximum.
Non-fiction Book, one chapter and 1-2 page synopsis.
Non-fiction Article, 1800 word maximum.The faculty at this conference look amazing

You can read about the 17 faculty members here — these people are amazing!

Well, in case you can’t make it to that conference, you have another chance coming soon. The annual American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) conference will be held in Dallas from Thursday, September 21 to Sunday, September 24 at the beautiful Dallas/Addison Marriott Quorum at the Galleria.

The keynote speaker will be Liz Curtis Higgs, who won the 2006 Christy award for her novel, Whence Came a Prince. I reviewed one of her books in my July Book Buzz column for Christian Women Online. I would LOVE to hear her speak.

If I lived anywhere near the Dallas area, I’d try to go to this conference — It looks like way too much fun. Hundreds of writers who love inspirational books — and surrounded by shops, restaurants, and bookstores. It’s almost too much.

So, Texas ladies, are ya goin’? 🙂

P.S. Congratulations to Carol, the newest addition to the CWO Blogging Team.

By: Heather Ivester in: Writing | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (3)

August 25, 2006

Voice Power: Using Your Voice to Captivate, Persuade, and Command Attention

I got a new book in the mail yesterday, one I ordered from Barnes & Noble. It’s called Voice Power: Using Your Voice to Captivate, Persuade, and Command Attention, by Renee Grant-Williams. Doesn’t that sound like a useful skill? I’m excited because it’s my textbook for the upcoming Barnes & Noble University course, Stand and Deliver: Speak With Confidence.

A friend asked if I’d take the course with her — we’re both feeling like God is calling us toward public speaking ministries of some sort, though we’re not sure what. The thought of delivering a speech makes me nervous, yet recently I’ve realized it’s the message, not the messenger that is important.

When my postwoman delivers my mail, I sometimes wave to her or say hello if she comes to my door. But I don’t think twice about how she speaks or what she wears. What I’m interested in is what she’s brought me (especially if it’s a package!). It’s the “message” in the envelope that matters to me, not who delivered it.

That’s how I want to view public speaking — if God has put a message on my heart, then why can’t I save time by saying it to a bunch of people all at once?

A week ago, I went to my hometown library and addressed a small group of mostly family and friends. They were a wonderful audience, since I knew most of them personally, and I didn’t feel like they were judging me too harshly. It was the first time I’d spoken like that since giving my testimony to my church family in Japan several years ago.

Prior to that, in college, I was used to standing up in front of hundreds of alumni and sorority sisters, since that was part of my job as Alumni Relations Liaison. I had to coordinate big events and introduce speakers at the head table. It was fun because everyone seemed happy at these kinds of things, including me.

But motherhood has taken a whack to my self-confidence. The struggles of maintaining my sanity amidst a busy, chaotic household have left me feeling like a failure the past few years. So, to get up in front of people and appear to have my act together makes me feel like a hypocrit!

The message I delivered last week was about writing, and I hope I encouraged those in attendance to write down their favorite stories. But this isn’t the main message that’s on my heart. So far, no doors have opened for me to speak or write on that message, but hopefully this Barnes & Noble class will help me move in that direction.

I can say it in my blog to those of you I can’t see — my life message is that we’re completely LOST without Jesus Christ lighting the way for us every day! As women, as moms, as people. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” is what we read in Romans 3:23. So, if you feel like a failure, like me, maybe God has allowed circumstances to humble you so that you’ll realize your need for Him.

I’ve often joked that if I had only one child, my oldest son, I’d be the snobbiest parent in the world. He was a good baby, rarely cried, and has been pure joy to raise. If we’d stopped with one, I would have looked at those awful parents of noisy, whiny children and thought, “What’s your problem?” But God blessed us with more — so now I can’t survive a single day on my own strength!

Without Christ, we have no purpose, no hope, no peace in our lives. I can think of a thousand different ways to say this message! If I can only find the chance. I think the older I get, the more bold I’ll become. This is really the only message that matters.

Here’s a quote that came to my in-box this morning:

Lord, I am no longer my own, but Yours.
Put me to what You will, rank me with whom You will.
Let me be employed by You or laid aside for You, exalted for You or brought low by You.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to Your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, You are mine and I am Yours.
So be it. Amen.
John Wesley

August 22, 2006

Where I live, there are so many major construction projects going on. Down the street, two new subdivisions are being built, the fancy kind with stacked rock signs and humongous houses. If you go another direction, they’re putting in a new shopping center and a “smart community,” which will include houses and shops all within walking distance.

And then another quarter mile down the road, they’ve completely torn down an old McDonald’s and are building a new one. It seems like everywhere I look there are big yellow earth machines moving dirt around, then patting everything out smooth.

The new McDonald’s looks completely different than the old one — dare I say, it’s even got some class. It’s brick, instead of whatever cheap material it used to be. On the sign out front, it says, “Closed for Rebuild.”

Every day when I pass by that sign, I read those three words: Closed for Rebuild. Yesterday, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I could close for rebuild every now and then?” Like now. I’d like to close for some spiritual rebuilding, please, as God works His Word through me and helps me become more like Him. Beth Moore will help with that, when our Bible Study starts back soon.

Physical rebuilding is in process — as I’m trying to change my diet, exercise more, and keep going with increasing my energy levels. Whenever I feel stressed, I slink right back to my old habits; they’re lurking, just waiting for me.

Emotionally and mentally, I’m reading books, listening to sermons, talking to people … I’m in a growth spurt of some sort. I’ve even signed up to take a course through Barnes & Noble University, which is a first for me. (I’ll blog about that soon, in case you want to join us.)

Since losing some weight, I went shopping for myself, something I rarely do. I bought a few things, then came home and cleaned out my closet, like FlyLady says to do (when you bring something new in, you have to get rid of something old, to keep clutter in check). Well, I gave my old clothes the evil eye — most of my clothes are made for pregnancy/ postpartum/ nursing. I’ve been wearing the same things for years — because why bother to shop when I’m always in limbo.

I realized most of my clothes have become emotional clutter for me. They remind me of certain events or people. But I heard on the radio that women wear 10% of their clothes 90% of the time. That’s true for me. So I heard FlyLady’s voice ask, “Does that bring you joy or peace? No? Then bless someone else with it.” Well, I started piling things up in a box, and putting the hangers in another box. When all was said and done, I’d piled up 87 things to give away. Aah. What a relief. My closet is sparse now, but everything fits the new me, who is NOT nursing a baby.

Over the past few days, I’ve been rearranging our furniture and hauling stuff OUT the door, blessing lots of people with the clothes and toys our kids have outgrown. My husband was surprised I carried an upholstered rocking chair up the stairs yesterday to put in the room our two youngest kids share. I decided to box up all the plastic junk that clutters their room and make a “reading nook” instead, where I’ll enjoy reading to them. I like books and puppets — they use the imagination and don’t take up space.

I guess you could call this fall cleaning. Who knows? Hope springs eternal.

August 20, 2006

Here’s a picture of me and my husband as we were preparing to leave for the Gala the other night. My husband’s university was celebrating its Centenniel, and that’s why we were invited. We decided to go because this week is also our 12th Wedding Anniversary.

We were married in August 1994. Twelve years, five children, and eight moves later, here we are.

Oops … Looks like I better go sweep the driveway.

By: Heather Ivester in: Family,Marriage | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (15)

August 19, 2006

My husband and I went to a Gala last night — I didn’t even know how to pronounce that word until I heard a few people say it. It does have the “long a” sound.

Well, this thing was fancy-schmancy, and maybe if one of our pictures turns out, I’ll post it. Because we had an awesome time. We even danced.

The highlight of the evening was the meal, which was absolutely amazing. We had a salad that was made from a cucumber, which they used to poke lettuce leaves out of. Thin slices of carrots were wrapped around everything, and even our butter was shaped like rosettes.

I’m sure the people we ate with (doctors and their wives) do these kinds of things all the time, but I managed to pretend like I was used to it. I think the cold cream of cantaloupe soup shocked all of us — it looked like shrimp bisque, but it was COLD. And sweet. And … well, kind of weird.

Our main course included shrimp, filet mignon, and baked chicken. Yeah … all three. And for dessert, the wait staff brought each of us individual flaming red velvet cakes with cream cheese frosting. Since there were no doggie bags, I ate most everything — and enjoyed every morsel, every minute of conversation. It’s not often I have a date with a man in a tuxedo.

SO! The point of this post. See that picture? That’s what I’m eating this weekend. I’ve worked my tail off to drop 15 pounds on the South Beach Diet, and I’m NOT putting it back on. I had way too much fun shopping for a dress in a size smaller than I wore last year.

Mmmm … soy protein bars, here I come.

August 17, 2006

I’ve been getting a notice from my hosting service that my blog domain name is up for renewal. That means I’ve been blogging for almost a year. Thank goodness it renews automatically, or it might be one of those things I put on my to-do list — and forget to do.

One of the first topics I wrote about last fall was starting a women’s book study. In our hectic, fast-paced society, it’s hard to find time to develop close friendships with other women. But we need to.

If we spend all our time teaching our kids, hauling them around to lessons, shopping for family meals, working around the house, and volunteer/ career activities, we’ll eventually burn out. We need to spend time with other women who are going through the same things we’re going through — and who can laugh and cry with us.

Online friendships are great — and I’m so thankful for the few I’ve been able to develop — but nothing beats hanging out with local friends. For one thing, my kids are still young enough that most of their close friends are the children of MY friends. I’m picky, and I won’t let them go home with a family I don’t know very well. There ‘s too much to risk. My children’s innocence means more to me than popularity.

The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Real (Yada Yada Prayer Group, Book 3)

Lisa Ann Cockrel wrote a great article called The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Real in this month’s TCW magazine. I haven’t read any of the Yada Yada books yet, but Lisa explains:

The chick-lit series authored by Neta Jackson focuses on 12 women from different ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds who are thrown together at a citywide women’s conference in Chicago. Against all odds, this motley crew forms a bond that lasts beyond the weekend as its members continue to “know and be known to each other and to God”—the Hebrew meaning of the word yada.

Do you have any type of Yada group where you can get real with people? I know, personally, I’m very different online than I am in person. I’m not willing to say anything online that I wouldn’t mind being read by hundreds of people — and there are some things we share in our small group that only stay within the walls of the room.

In two weeks, our preschool moms’ group starts up again. I can’t wait! We meet once a week in a church, which provides FREE childcare. For most of us, that’s the main reason we can go. I used to be in a church that had a large number of homeschooling families. Our weekday morning women’s ministry provided a special room for homeschooling kids to meet and do their schoolwork, overseen by a paid college student.

Oh … what a refreshing relief it was for us moms to get together. Plus, it was fun for the kids. After a couple hours of schoolwork, they got to go outside and run around on the playground together. My son always accomplished so much more on those days — because kids who didn’t finish their assigned work (assigned by their moms) didn’t get to play!! It worked!

If you’re not already part of a book club, fellowship group, or looseknit group of friends who get together and hang out, this article includes eight tips from author Neta Jackson on how to start your own Yada Yada group. If you’ve recently moved, it might be up to you to reach out and start your own.

Isaiah 43:19 says, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” It’s almost fall, the perfect season to start!

August 15, 2006

I know this title is kind of dorky — and it’s late, but I’ve just got to link to Terry Whalin’s post today. If you’re a writer, which you probably are if you’re reading my blog (because most people don’t even know what a blog is, so you’re way ahead), then you’ll love this post!

Terry Whalin is the fiction acquisitions editor for Howard Publishing, a subsidiary of Simon & Schuster, and he blogs at The Writing Life. I love, love, love this blog, and in fact, I’ve “met” some of the coolest people in the comments section of The Writing Life, such as Gina Holmes, Trish Berg, Cyndy Salzmann, and CJ Darlington.

One thing I enjoy about Terry’s blog is that he travels all over the country and is always thoughtful to take his readers with him. He just returned from the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers’ Conference, where he taught classes and met one-on-one with aspiring writers.

Here’s what he said:

I love this process of interacting with writers and talking through their concepts and dreams. One of the most valuable times from my perspective is this face to face help for writers. It’s a chance to listen and then give them my personal perspective on their idea and how it can be improved.

I’m not speaking as the absolute authority—I’ve learned the hard way in this business that none of us have that absolute insight. Each of us only have our own perspective and each book has it’s own challenges as to how it enters the market. Or each magazine article idea or each book proposal is filled with it’s own difficulties and joys.

This quote is all the inspiration I need to be excited about my upcoming talk at the Smyrna Public Library. I’ve been so nervous thinking about standing up in front of people; but now I think maybe the people who will come are also book lovers and writers! So we can have fun encouraging each other. Maybe someone will hear something I say, and God will mysteriously transform my words into an idea that encourages them to write.

Enough of my babbling; if you haven’t clicked over to The Writing Life, I hope you can go now.

By: Heather Ivester in: Friendship,Writing | Permalink | Comments Off on Why I Love Writers!

Have you ever thought you might like to write a novel? Well, here’s your chance. Thousands of people THINK about writing a novel someday, but what they lack is a deadline. Motivation to actually sit down and do it.

Coming soon, November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. I’ve never participated in this before, so the graphic with the pencil runner is just for show. I’d love to hear if any of you have ever done this and how it went.

According to the NaNoWriMo site, last year there were 59,000 participants and 9,769 winners. The way you get to be a winner is to complete the goal of writing 50,000 words from November 1 to November 30. That’s about 1700 words a day. Nobody cares what you write, and nobody will even see what you write if you choose. A computer will scramble your words for privacy, and then count them up.

Here’s what the site says:

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30 … Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly …

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel.

I’m not sure, but I’m thinking about signing up this year. I’ve got several short stories I’ve never done anything with — maybe I could piece them together into a novel. It would be fun to be part of something big like this — just to say I did it. I know several writers who use this for a warm-up exercise.

Although it’s rare, a few past participants have actually gone on to get their novels published. If you’re an aspiring writer, this might be good incentive to take that next step. One thing I noticed is that if you choose to use your real name, it might be a good publicity tool for you. If you do a search for 2005 winners, you can see an author profile that includes an excerpt from the author’s novel. The author profile can link back to your blog or website. You never know if editors or agents might be browsing through this site someday looking for someone new.

If you’re a parent of an aspiring writer, why not let them give it a try? I’m sure this would be a big boost to a young writer’s confidence — and let them see what it’s like to actually finish a complete book.

According to NaNoWriMo, “Win or lose, you rock for even trying.”

P.S. The reason why I’m posting this so soon is so you’ll have all of September and October to psyche yourself up (like training for a marathon). You can start thinking of your characters and jotting out a plot. And if you end up writing the next bestseller and become famous, just don’t forget to send me a signed copy. OK?

By: Heather Ivester in: Writing | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)

August 14, 2006

I don’t know what’s gotten into me. Maybe it’s the new school year, the fireworks we watched over the horizon last night, the smell of freshly cut grass. Who knows? But I’m thinking this is the year I want to try some new things.

First off, I’m getting out of the house more, that’s for sure. The past year, it’s been such an ordeal to load my toddler and baby up in the car, I’ve just stayed home. This was fine — because I had lots of work at home to keep me busy.

But since I’ve started blogging at Lively Women and getting some energy back, I’ve had that extra push I need to get us out the door. So this morning, I loaded up my two youngest and went to a fitness center that provides childcare and took my first SPINNING class. As in bicycle wheels spinning around.

I could barely keep up. I was the only person in the class who wasn’t skinny and muscular with a blonde ponytail — but at least I had on my cute Target workout clothes. So I smiled and enjoyed the scenery — which was black lights with lots of glowing things on the walls. My socks glowed. The stripe on my spandex glowed. It was fun to be glowing in the dark and not thinking about laundry.

I made it through the class by just cycling along, doing my own thing. Nobody seemed to care that I’m the most out of shape person who’s ever stepped foot in that glowing room. I even got a little white towel like everyone else did to wipe off sweat. I pretended like I knew what I was doing. Then I went and did some push-ups and sit-ups because that’s what the other fitness girls were doing.

My kids did fine in the nursery — despite the fact that they stuck to me like magnets when I dropped them off. They both cried at first, and I felt cruel and heartless. But this cruel and heartless mom needs to exercise — and be around adults. Who don’t ask questions.

I think I’ll go back tomorrow. If I can move my legs. 🙂

August 13, 2006

I only subscribe to a few magazines, but Today’s Christian Woman is one of my favorites. I keep the current issue in my car or purse, so I can read something fun while I’m waiting … which I do a lot.

A few months ago, the magazine asked readers, “Tell us how you keep your faith fresh.” So I sent in a short essay about how I share my faith through blogging. If you’ve got a copy of this month’s issue, my thoughts appear on the last page. The subtitle is “Blog It.”

TCW magazine is full of inspiration and tips for walking out your faith as a 21st-century Christian woman. For example, I love reading Liz Curtis Higgs’ column. Her topic this month was Queen Jezebel — and how she unfortunately sees some similarities between this evil, take-charge queen and herself. Higgs ends her column with these inspiring words:

For those of us who love to run the show, Jezebel’s story is worth a closer look. Even as a worshiper of God, not Baal, I can find myself taking charge instead of taking direction, or speaking my mind instead of speaking the truth in love. If that’s you, sis, why not join me in praying for a gentler spirit and words that edify rather than destroy.

God gave us our leadership abilities; let’s use them for his glory.

(Gulp.) Liz, you talkin’ to me?

By: Heather Ivester in: Blogging,Faith | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)