Monday, October 23, 2017

Taking it Apart to Put it All Together


The following is an exercise I share with my teen writing students. I use it primarily with the research paper and essay writing classes as a means to help them consider their content from a new angle. 

  • Step One: Take the first paragraph from your research paper, and write (or type) each sentence on a separate line from top to bottom. Examine each sentence separately, then consider them as a whole. Do they fit together and make sense as a unit? 
  • Step Two: Try this with your second and third paragraphs too. It's a good way to get a better and more objective look at your content and how/if it relates together, and to make adjustments as necessary. Were there any surprises? Do you need to make any revisions? Did it reveal anything interesting to you?

I've used this exercise with students for years - just came up with it one day because I thought it would make them think. (I like to encourage them to develop critical thinking and related writing skills.) 

After I posted it on the class forum last week, I was reminded that it can be a useful tool for us adult writers too. When writing a blog post for a client, for example, I often mentally do this as means of stepping outside my head and gaining perspective. You know how it goes - things can sound super fabulous or extremely lousy in your own head sometimes. And breaking it down into smaller pieces helps view its cohesiveness, or not, and adjust accordingly. The reassembling can bring new clarity that works toward a polished, finished product. 

What do you think? What helps your writing come together? Do you employ any similar exercises when writing, editing, or are just plain stuck on a certain piece?

Happy writing,

Photo credit:Pexels

Monday, October 16, 2017

Interview & Book Spotlight With Cecelia Lester

It's been my privilege to get acquainted with Cecelia Lester through her blog, Following My King. She is now a published author, and I'm helping her spread the news about her new book. Cecelia was kind enough to stop by and answer a few questions about her journey.

Cecelia, welcome and congratulations! What was the catalyst for writing this book? 

I chose to share what God laid on my heart about the conditions of our world, the situations each of us personally face, and how we could work on them and bring glory to God. 

How long did the process take you - from its early beginnings to publication? 

In January 2015, I started journaling on various topics that I felt I fell short on. That fall I spent time in a rehab center receiving therapy for a broken ankle. I was released from there three days before Christmas. I really didn’t know what I should do about pursuing the craft. I spent time re-reading my journal thoughts. I decided to choose several of them to see if I could use them on my blog or even in something else, maybe a book. So, a total of 2 1/2 years with the interruptions.

What publishing method did you choose? 

I considered searching for an agent, hoping one could eventually pitch my book to a publisher. However, I found the process of writing a book proposal daunting. I did some research on Indie Publishing and a couple of the firms that do Print on Demand printing.

What's one thing you hope readers will take away from your book? 

Originally, I wrote these devotions as a way for me to grow closer to the Lord. I hope that those who read my book will also grow closer to Him. 

Thanks for stopping by, Cecelia! May the Lord continue to bless and keep you.

Thank you, Karen. 

More About Times of Trouble Bring Rays of Joy

Have you ever wondered if you fully understood what God tells you? Wanted assurance that God listens to your prayers? Felt like you've repeatedly failed God? Thought something was holding you back from serving Him? If you are like most Christians, you answered yes to at least one of these questions. Times of Trouble Bring Rays of Joy contains 60 devotions meant to address these thoughts and encourage readers through the ups and downs of life. 

My Review 

This devotional offers an uncomplicated look at Biblical principles and scripture in relation to life’s challenges. Cecelia shares a candid glimpse into her thoughts and experiences as she discusses related Bible verses that have offered her strength and comfort. With sixty devotions total, the book is broken down into six categories – Time Management, Strength, Humility, Compassion and Mercy, Faith, and Peace. Each entry includes questions to encourage interaction and additional study, as well as room to make notes and journal one's thoughts. This is a nice feature, as it aids in further reflection on timeless truths. Cecelia wisely directs readers to a faithful and loving God, one who hears and loves us.

About Cecelia

When she's not writing or serving at church, Cecelia enjoys spending time reading and watching old movies, particularly those of the Film Noir genre. Having lived most of her life in beautiful central Indiana, she and her husband love to travel, and enjoy spending time with their adult son.

Where to Find Cecelia & Her Book:

What are you reading this week? Do you have any questions for Cecelia? 

Happy writing, 

Monday, October 9, 2017

An Interview With You

The world of blogging offers much - opportunities to share, learn, and hone writing skills. By far the biggest blessings, in my opinion, are those we meet along the way. You'd be hard pressed to find a kinder, more talented and caring group of people than those who visit here. Thank you for taking this journey with me! You're treasures, all.

It occurred to me that there aren't enough posts in the year to interview everyone here (with all the breaks I take, anyway), so I thought it'd be fun to share a few interview questions for you. If you're game, please answer in the comments.

Ready? Here goes:

  • What type of writing/other creative activity do you pursue? What would you like to do in the future?
  • What's something we might be surprised to learn about you?
  • Share a recent and/or favorite post link from your blog.
  • What have you gained through blogging?
  • Coffee or tea? Chocolate or vanilla?

Answer them all, or just a few. :) Looking forward to learning more about you!

Happy writing,

Photo credit: Pexels

Monday, October 2, 2017

Meet the Blogger with Rhonda Schrock

I'm delighted to host my good friend Rhonda Schrock for October's Meet the Blogger. We met here online years ago and it's been a great privilege to get to know this talented writer. In addition to being smart and funny, she's sweet and spunky, and oh-so-easy to relate to. Known to many as "One small, caffeinated American mom", Rhonda is authentic, and as kindhearted as they come.  Readers of her blog get to share in the adventure of raising 4 sons, her spiritual journey, current events, and a whole lot more. You can't help but to come away blessed and encouraged in some way. 

Welcome Rhonda! Tell us, why did you start blogging? How long have you had your current blog? 

Thanks, Karen! My big toe first dipped into the blogosphere 10 years ago now, back in 2007. It was around the time I began writing a weekly column called “Grounds for Insanity” for a local newspaper. In “Grounds, “ I wrote about my life as the mother of four boys and the wife of one. Every week, I posted the latest column there for friends and family who lived in other states. Folks would stop by to howl, sympathize, or to whisper a quiet “hallelujah” that they weren't raising such an ornery, chaotic clan who chased and wrestled and spilled and burped. And that was all before breakfast.

Then, I began to venture out, being more vulnerable and allowing others to peek into my heart and mind and see what God was teaching me. Surprisingly, many people seemed to identify with my struggles and the lessons I was learning, so I kept blogging.  

Your blog is wonderful! It reflects your heart, I think, and readers know that you care about them. What do you hope readers will take away from your blog?

I love encouraging other people, and I love to teach as well. As a young woman, I was always looking for older women who were full of wisdom, radiated peace, knew how to love and overflowed with joy. My hunger was great. At key points in my life, God was faithful to put the right spiritual moms in my path, and those women poured life into me. Now, as a middle-aged (yeesh, I can't believe I just said that) girl, I find that I am the one who is the Filler of the Cup, and that is such a privilege and blessing. That's what people get on my blog.

We all need input and encouragement from sweet grounded people such as yourself, no matter how old we are. As for the middle aged thing, I'm (ahem) in that boat too if it makes you feel any better! Your readers have gained much from you, but have you gained any benefits through blogging?

Well, your name comes to mind (grinning here). I have made some very good friends this way. Past that, though, it's been a great place to practice my craft. I love words; putting them together just right, feeling a rhythm, making them flow. Stitching syllables and vowels and consonants into a crazy quilt that makes someone else go, “Yes! You've said what I've always felt, but could not, somehow, say.” As my mother would say, “That tickles my gizzard.”

You're so sweet. :) Thanks so much. I count you among the many blogging blessings as well. Love that saying from your mom - that's a good one. Are you working on any special projects right now?

I’m not. Working on a project, that is. I've sold pieces to magazines here and there, but currently I have the luxury of writing when I have time. My dream, though, is to put “Grounds for Insanity” into books a la Erma Bombeck. We’ll see.  

I think a "Grounds for Insanity" book is an excellent idea. I know it would resonate with readers all over the world. Is there anything we might be surprised to learn about you?

That I don’t love chocolate. Or football. I know, I know. It’s a betrayal to womankind, and it’s nearly un-American. To me, football looks like a bunch of kids who don’t know whether to play Keep Away, Capture the Flag, or Kick the Can. It’s incomprehensible. And as for the chocolate, it’s just better when it’s white. Which, according to Mr. Schrock who bleeds brown, “isn’t even chocolate.” (This, with an impressive 30-count eye roll.)

I will now be heading into the Witness Protection program. If you’re in, say, Tupelo or Biloxi, and you have a curly-headed waitress named Jane Smith (ahem), leave a real big tip, okay?

LOL, I will do that! For the record, I know a few who prefer white chocolate too, and somehow we remain friends. Who knew! What advice would you share with a newbie blogger?

Don’t try to be someone else. If you compare yourself to the big bloggers, you’ll be intimidated, and that can lead to envy. That’s nasty stuff. Here’s the deal; you aren’t him/her, but he/she is not you, either. The one you’re envying has something to offer that you don’t have, but you have something that he or she doesn’t have. God hasn’t asked you to be like anyone else but Himself.

He showed me once that we’re stained glass windows. Each window is different, uniquely designed and crafted by hand. Each one tells a story. Some are wildly beautiful and detailed, and others portray a simpler tale. But all of them are dark until the Light turns on inside. It’s the Light shining through that allows the story to be seen, to be told, and that is best seen in the dark.

That’s why I blog. To shine the Light in the dark in the way that I’ve been created to shine.

And shine you do, my friend! That's a wonderful illustration. Thanks so much for visiting with us this week. Wishing you blessings galore on your journey.

Thank you, Karen!

More About Rhonda

Rhonda Schrock is the author and creator of Grounds for Insanity, so named for her love of coffee and all those boys. With a combined total of 81 years of mothering males, she’s ready to run for the Oval Office. If she can get both sides of the aisle to get along in the BMV (Blue Mommy Van), congressional wrangling doesn’t phase her at all.

By day, she telecommutes, transcribing medical reports for physicians in other states. She has been an editor and contributor for the magazine, “Cooking & Such,” and has contributed to various blogs, including Suzanne Woods Fisher, Bethel College, and Moms Michiana (South Bend Tribune).

Visit Rhonda at Her Website:

Do you have any questions for Rhonda? Do you prefer coffee or tea? Have anything special planned for this week?

Happy writing,


Coffee image credit: Pexels