Empty or Full?

A favourite treasure rescued from a charity shop for my Blue Skies 2017 artist project

One of the hardest problems for a writer is Writer’s Block. This can come at any time and will attack both the well-established writer and the newcomer. It robs them of their self-confidence and makes meeting deadlines impossible. The frustration from looking at an empty page for hours steals their joy.

There is a mountain of advice available today for dealing with this problem, including reminders to try writing something different, to read other people’s work, to get out and enjoy the natural world, to meet up with friends and be more social, and to make space in their life for new inspiration.

One of my favourite suggestions is to read about other writers’ experiences on the writing journey. I subscribe to lots of other writers’ Blogs. Click here for a great post about Writer’s Block written by Wendy Parker. In her ‘Empty, Borrowed, Full’ post, Wendy takes her readers to the Old Testament story of the widow and the oil (2 Kings 4:1-7). As this is one of my favourite stories, I immediately sat up and paid attention. This post is highly recommended.

At the moment, I have a Toby Mac music CD on repeat in the car. His song Love Feels Like seems a perfect match for the same Bible story. ‘Poured out, used up, still givin’. Stretching me out to the end of my limits’. Click here to listen to the official version of the song.

If you believe you have a gift for writing, then anything that stops you is like a thief who comes to ‘steal, kill and destroy’ (Jesus, John 10:10). Recently, our visiting Sunday morning guest speaker, John Hannaford from Covenant Ministries, spoke about the importance of making sure that the windows are bolted and the doors securely locked. The thief can’t get in if our lives are secure.

Wendy has a post about making sure that we don’t make the thief’s job easier by handing him the blueprints to the location of everything precious to us. Click here for her insightful explanation.

What steps are you taking to protect your writer’s dream? Write me a comment and let me what works for you.

February here already

What else could go wrong?

The closer I get to self-publishing my first Romantic Suspense Novel, White Rose of Promise, the more unexpected little problems I encounter.

The most recent one took me a lot of time, and a whole treasury of emotional energy, to deal with. It derailed my progress in all of my writing activities. Long hours spent online ‘chatting’ to the Technical Support team took me on an adventure of discovery.

For those who have visited my page before, you may have noticed that the ‘my email isn’t working’ notification was up for a VERY long time. I was reasonably certain that I had made some foundational error, but didn’t have either the time or the emotional energy to deal with it in 2018.

A tricky problem

Turns out I was correct. The seventh ‘chat’ finally revealed that I had missed some basic information right at the start of setting up my account. An attempt to rectify the problem back then didn’t work, because the additional feature I was paying for was not attached to this page… It was NEVER going to work. All fixed now 🙂

As a writer, I am very interested in the emotional rollercoaster that accompanied this difficult lesson. The first time I contacted the Help Desk, I felt very anxious but confident that I had explained myself correctly. The second time, I was annoyed that the reassurances hadn’t come to anything. In fact, my situation was much worse – my whole web page went offline!

The third time, I was frustrated and impatient.

Something unexpected happened after that. The anxiety and anger dissipated, to be replaced by a lighthearted feeling of relief. I was able to sit at the computer with a smile on my face, and gratitude in my heart.

It didn’t seem to matter that I was losing writing time, only that someone was doing their best to help me. The worst case scenario had been fulfilled and rectified – my web page was back online, the links to my posts on my facebook page worked again, and eventually, the promise that my email would work would be fulfilled.

So what changed?

So what changed between the third and fourth ‘chat’? The helpful advisor told me that I ‘obviously’ hadn’t waited long enough for changes 1 and 2 to work, and said not to contact them again until I had waited 48 hours. So I did.

Please don’t think that I patiently waited during the remaining hours in silence. I petitioned heaven, both about my problem with the email and because the torrent of emotions and the accompanying fallout was wrecking my ability to deal with all the other daily struggles.

Only when I reached the end of the seventh ‘chat’ did I see the resolution to the email problem, but having my emotions flip to positive ones gave me patience and the expectation that everything was going to be fine )i(

Ezra’s words of wisdom:
There is nothing a good prayer,
a cup of hot chocolate, a cookie,
and a friendly bear can’t fix )i(

Please comment!

I am signing off now. If you have the time, please help me celebrate the email account victory, by leaving me a comment. I would love to open my emails and find a notification to remind me that even the little problems have a guaranteed success.
Chrissy )i(


Transformation business
“That is not the end of the story. God is in the transformation business. Judgement flows from God’s holy character but he delights to show favour and love; these are the things that last…” John Grayston, WordLive 09/12/2018. For the complete devotional please click the following link: 

A milestone not to be forgotten )i(

Thirty years ago, I was in a terrible state. As a patient in a private clinic, I had been weaned off one powerful medication only to have an adverse reaction to the new one. Five months earlier I had been admitted to hospital after developing encephalitis, and then sent home when I didn’t die. The prognosis for the next few years was bleak. I wasn’t going to get better anytime soon.

I could no longer stand upright without support, and when I closed my eyes I fell over. I was plagued by visual hallucinations, nausea and a slowness of thought where the neurologist’s tests matched my waking moments to that of a normal person sleeping. I could barely look after myself, and my son had gone to live with my mother. No-one was surprised that I was clinically depressed, a chemical imbalance that robbed me of my joy.

My faith in God was tested.

Then a series of unfortunate events tipped me over the edge. First, I was violently ill in response to the new medication. Then one of my new friends told me she wished she had the hope that I had, and went away to die alone – she changed her mind at the last minute but the person she called for help didn’t arrive in time. But the straw that broke this heart was going out with my husband to a Christmas function and having the waiter accidentally tip a cup of coffee down my back.

My last recollection was wailing on the pavement, as a swirling pit of darkness underneath my feet. I cried out to God that I couldn’t take anymore. The darkness grew and I was falling. Then I felt the hand of God grab me by the back of the neck like a kitten carried by its mother. He pulled me back into the light. My husband watched me go from insanity to a quiet mess. Neither of us has been the same since.

There followed an amazing series of positive experiences that cancelled out all the bleakness of the previous days. I awoke on Sunday 18th of December, sane and alive, and in a defeated state. I lay in bed in the private clinic and told God He had to take over control because I had nothing left.
Within minutes, there came a knock at the door, an unexpected invitation from an acquaintance, and I was dressed and out the door on an unexpected visit to an unfamiliar church. During that morning service, one by one, people stood up and quoted scriptures, each with direct correspondence to some puzzling visions that God had given me in answer to my pleas for help in recent weeks.

Hope reawakened in my heart. But God wasn’t finished with me yet. I was still physically broken but my joy was overflowing and I knew God had heard my desperate cries. That evening, I went back to that same Church, and during the service, God called me to my vocation. I went from a helper for other people’s ministry to a leader of a ministry of my own. Only when I had fully accepted that new calling did God bring about the greatest sign of all.

I went forward for prayer at the end of the service, and witnesses told me it was marvellous to see. My walking stick went flying as I fell – I closed my eyes to pray and the catcher missed me. I had a bump on my head to testify to the hardness of the floor. After making my confession, my body felt as if I had been struck by lightning, and I jumped up. Much laughter and celebration followed, and then other people hurried down to have prayer, not wanting to miss an opportunity for a miracle.

I was delivered back to the private clinic afterwards, and the other patients had me walking and leaping up and down the corridor to prove that I was healed. My transformation was remarkable. God is good. )i( He steps in at just the right time. My faith in God was tested to the very limits of my sanity, and He didn’t let me down )i(

When I started writing White Rose of Promise one of my Church friends asked if this book was going to be autobiographical. I said no. Yet I realise that the transformation that takes place in the life of my central character has the foundations in that event that happened thirty years ago. I had been an active Christian for fourteen years when my faith was tested.

There have been other testing times, including the season that I am in at the moment. My WRoP manuscript went to the proofreader yesterday, and I have hired a designer to take over the cover preparation. I still have a lot to learn about life, about being a writer, about living a faithful life in a troubled world.

But today, God has filled my heart with rejoicing as He reminds me that the journey of discovery is ongoing, and He will be right there with me to pick me up when I fall. I have a couple of miracle memories to make sure I don’t forget )i(


I am between manuscripts at the moment. The first two are away from me, no further work to be done until I receive responses from others. The third story in my series is filling my mind, and I am feeling the pressure to get started…

One of my abstract digital drawings

I was filling in time, waiting for inspiration, and not getting anywhere fast. My restlessness this morning is uncharacteristic. I am in that between place. The land of indecision where fear and uncertainty are pushing back the exciting new possibilities. Into this moment, my mind catches a phrase on the screen in front of me, and everything that I am unable to pin down is brought sharply into focus.
“He is unafraid to ask God to teach him his ways and paths (v 4). He waits on God all day (v 5)”. (Mark Keown, WordLive, Goodness and Mercy, 4/11/2018.  To access the full post please follow this link:

One of the preliminary digital drawings that brought me to the first one

Now I have a clear direction. I should bring all my hopes and aspirations for today and place them on the prayer altar. I need to remember that I have done this before, with both my first manuscript White Rose of Promise, and the second one When Promises Are Broken.
What is there to fear in starting the third in the series? What am I afraid of? The Bible passage referenced in Mark Keown’s text is Psalm 25, one of those emotionally honest ones by David. Keown writes that David is so secure in his relationship with God that he can speak out all his deepest thoughts without fear. David had found the secret. An ability to be open and honest and to look to God for guidance and correction in confidence. David knew that God’s guidance would bring him everything he needed. He also knew that God’s correction would hurt but afterwards, he would be a better person.

Can you see the beginning idea of the final digital drawing hidden in this preliminary one?

When I sat down to write the first few chapters of White Rose of Promise I wasn’t sure that I was ready for the challenge. I spent long hours in prayer and matched my writing time with hours of reading Scripture and meditating on what I beleived God was teaching me. 
Then I sat down to write the second one with a different kind of trepidation. The first heroine had been ‘easy’ to write because she was a woman of faith. The second heroine was much harder to welcome into my life because she was angry and her view of the world was filtered by the relationship mistakes she had made. 
But the next heroine, the one who is speaking to me in the moments when my mind is open to daydreaming the possibilities, arrives in my story lost and alone. She has been set adrift by circumstances not of her making. Last night, I sat down and started to work on the timeline so that I know where my characters from the preceding books will be as the new story unfolds…

Another variation of the digital drawing to show the subtleties of colour and placement
that catch my attention and
draw me into a project.

I find myself between. How I manage the next few days will have an impact on how I am feeling about the writing adventure? What strategies do you use to manage the between moments on your journey?

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(