Balance – part 1

Sometimes all I need is a little treat to tide me over until the next meal. This “little carrot cupcake with cream cheese icing” photo was hiding in my photo archive. If I had one of these right now, it would only take me a moment to gobble it up. Then I could get back to writing my post without feeling guilty.

But I have a confession to make. If I had some of these little cakes in the pantry, and nobody to share with, I would probably eat them all. Of course, I would make myself walk to and from the kitchen for each one. That would remind me that I was being distracted from the tasks that I have on my today list. And if that didn’t work, then I would set myself a longer walk, and maybe even allocate a household task to complete on the way.

January 2019 site specific weaving, Blue Lagoon Conference Centre, Dodges Ferry, Tasmania, Australia. Recycled knitting yarn and balcony structure.

If I am left to myself, I can sit at the computer for hours without moving – except to eat. I’ve been trying this walk-to-eat strategy for a few years. I even used it for my final university art project in 2017. Visit my artist page here.

Finding the right balance between writing and researching how I’m supposed to do all the other things on this writing journey is a challenge. Sometimes, I get so involved in writing that I fall behind with my publishing schedule. At other times, it feels as if I’ve gone too far the other way… This is a different kind of weaving, the meandering to and fro while still keeping my eyes on the final direction.

And then there are the knots! Those little intersections of time and opportunity where everything seems to converge and I come to a standstill.

It is times like these that I return to Scripture. I believe that there will always be an answer to whatever is worrying me. Here is one of my favourites: Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my Shepherd.
How does this apply to my situation? He leads and I follow. Like all “good sheep”, sometimes I get distracted, but He’s ready to call me back. If I get into trouble, He has a big shepherd’s crook to bring me out of the tangled mess I’m in. There are even a few times when He has to carry me. But my favourite times are when He runs along beside me, helping me discover the fun in this adventure.

DO you have a favourite Scripture to help bring balance into your situation? Please share.

Summer days…

Red Ochre Beach, Dodges Ferry, Tasmania, Australia
Photo Credit Samuel Whittle

January here in the Southern Hemisphere heralds warmer weather.

It brings the opportunity to rest and reflect on the previous year and to plan for the new one.

It is also the time that I volunteer on the team for Scripture Union Tasmania Family Camp South, and my first beach visit for 2019.

Here I am on a child-friendly beach. The water was still too cold for me to take a swim )i(

There is something very special about living in a small community, away from the ordinary, everyday normal life. It opens up new opportunities to make discoveries.

This year, the theme for camp was Art/Artists, and in my spare time, I took over one section of the balcony and created an installation.
Here is the link to my Facebook album

Christine O'Malley, Shimmering Skies (installation view), 2019. Site-specific mixed media artwork, Blue Lagoon Christian Convention Centre, Dodges Ferry, Tasmania, Australia. Photo: Christine O'Malley
Christine O’Malley, Shimmering Skies (installation view), 2019. Site-specific mixed media artwork, Blue Lagoon Christian Convention Centre, Dodges Ferry, Tasmania, Australia. Photo: Christine O’Malley

This was the first one where I was the only participant, and also the only time I have had an outdoor artwork remain open to the elements for more than a few hours. I am happy to report, after five days, and a few stormy nights, the delicate strands remained exactly where I left them. My only regret was not having enough wind to make the severed ends fly when it was time to start disassembling the weaving.

Christine O’Malley, Shimmering Skies (installation view), 2019. Site-specific mixed media artwork, Blue Lagoon Christian Convention Centre, Dodges Ferry, Tasmania, Australia.
Photo: Christine O’Malley

Meanwhile, my writing projects had a holiday of their own.
Book 1: White Rose of Promise – the cover design has been chosen and I am waiting for the designer to send me the latest version. The blurb (that brief introduction that hides on the back of the book) has been drafted. The manuscript is with the Proofreader and been received favourably, with only a few errors – mainly Capitalisation of keywords to match the rest of the document.
Book 2: When Promises Are Broken – the cover design elements have been selected. The manuscript is with the beta-readers and has been favourably received. Those who have sent me their reports are already asking for the next book…
Book 3: (Still no title). I reached a critical point in Chapter 15 and then left my poor hero in limbo to deal with his troubles on his own (while I was at camp).

Help wanted:

As the first of my potential readers, I am inviting you to tell me what you think of my blurb for Book 1.

Ria Fontana is home from twenty years in exile.

She has changed – her name, her appearance, her personality. Her family barely recognise her. What happened to their carefree Maria? What secrets is she hiding? Ria’s dream for a new beginning fades.

Why has God asked her to risk everything for a promise?

Wealthy businessman Sebastian Romano has a heated argument with Ria at his favourite restaurant. The unhappy waitress knows nothing of his past, and no-one dares to warn her. Without family ties and few friends, this woman-hater is the last person she should turn to for help.

Her innocent presence draws out his enemies. Now Ria is in a battle for more than her dream – a fight for her life.

Will Romano do anything to save her?

Thanks in advance )i(

Procrastination and me

It is time for my weekly update. So soon? What happened to the past week? Time seems to be passing much faster than it used to! I only have to look at how my morning has gone so far to find evidence of that.

I have spent the past hour working through the backlog of emails in my personal account. There are now only 15 unread messages, and they fit in the opening screen. No more having to search down through hundreds of messages looking for the start of an important conversation. I even found a 2017 newsletter from a missionary family I have promised to pray for. It sat there in the inbox opened, so the habit of marking things as important and then letting them disappear off the first page of notifications is nothing new… Welcome to my confession about procrastination.

Why was I looking at emails in what should be my dedicated Devotional Time?  I have been checking for new messages at too frequent intervals for days, as I am awaiting a quote for a cover design from a local graphic artist. The five I have already received through an international referral service were alarmingly above my budget. My editor thought I could use my Fine Arts skills to design my own covers, but I had an attack of self-doubt and wanted some professional advice. I am also waiting for news from my editor about the Copy Edit progress. No news is good news, right? 

Here are four experiments for one idea
from my own amateur attempts to discover what I might want
for the cover of Book 1: White Rose of Promise

Let me know what you think by leaving me a comment.

A year ago, this waiting period would have frozen me in place. Then, I was in the final stages of writing the graduating project assignments for my BA in Fine Arts and Visual Culture. The exhibition was over, and I had to write two reports: one covering the key influences from a year’s research and the other presenting the final images for the artistic work I wanted to be assessed towards my degree. The race was on but every day the designated tasks seemed to be taking so long. Procrastination became my new normal. I found out from my fellow students that this was a very common problem for them too.

Each time I sent off a request to my faithful study buddies I seemed unable to make any more progress until I  received their feedback. At one stage, I realised I was spending more time looking for their responses than I was devoting to actually writing my report. I had to learn how to push myself to work on other tasks while I waited. That learning opportunity has served me well in my current ‘assignment’.

Here is my 2017 Artist Statement
Here is a link to my Bookworms To Butterflies facebook album for the exhibition.
I took more than 139,000 and still have to make time to look at some of them (I had timed cameras set up all around the room).

So what have I been doing this week? Revising the first ten chapters of the sequel – it still feels strange working on the NEXT book while the first one is still in the preparation stage. I have added the main characters to the Series Outline so I can cross-reference their details each time they appear in the story, and I have been looking at how each one expresses themselves in their scenes. It is easy (at the moment) to remember all the central characters from both books, as they are familiar to me, but already I have too many secondary characters to juggle. I need one person to secretly be an enemy, so I went back through conversations looking for clues to that ultimate betrayal. It is also essential to start leaving clues (and add these details to the Series Outline) for future manuscripts so that my readers already have a good understanding of the new heroes’ and heroines’ motivations before those characters get to speak for themselves.

Last night was the first time I experienced confidence in my ability to generate a marked difference in tone between the new story and the first. The heroine of the first book is a devoted Christian, and everything that happens is filtered through her prayer life. But her unbelieving sister is the central character of the second book, and when this sister reaches her breaking point, there is no filter for her pain. Spending so much time describing her emotional turmoil flowed out into my own life. My long-suffering husband decided I am currently overly-sensitive to criticism, which has sent me running to my prayer closet on more than one occasion recently.

As I become more engaged in my fictional world, I have increased the time I spend in prayer and meditation. I don’t want to become lost and irrelevant to the real world opportunities that God has given me. Last week, someone in my family had a real accident that could have been disastrous. As a writer, I can see the different narrative possibilities that would lead me into a valley of shadows (Psalm 23:4). I am thankful God was merciful and saved my loved one from suffering a long-term disability. They are still very sore and unable to function to their maximum potential and have succumbed to a viral illness while their immune system was weakened by the pain and extra medication. Another topic to add to my prayer list.

Here is an image I created using the text from Psalm 23:4 superimposed over one of my own digital drawings. I have a long-term project underway to create a digital image for as many inspirational texts as possible. These are shared on my Butterfly Prayer House facebook page, where I publish a personal reflection (almost) every day )i(

Research fills any gaps in my spare time, as I have been subscribing to newsletters and reading as much as I can about how to become a published author. Somehow I have ended up on a couple of mailing lists that now go straight to the bin, but otherwise, my email inbox is flooding with useful information. I have had to make the hard decision to let go of some of my other interests and to learn how to quickly assess whether an article contains treasure, or is irrelevant to my situation.

I have decided I WON’T be writing my own newsletter. My once a week contribution to this page, and sharing on my different facebook pages will be more than enough. If I were to add any more writing commitments to my schedule and this will be the ultimate procrastination towards getting my novels published. )i(