This week has been vastly better than last week! If you’re interested in knowing more about this challenge which right now has nearly 8,000 followers, click on the title above. Each week Cee Neuner posts some new questions for us. Here are my answers to this week:
This week has been a real mixed bag of emotions. Here are my responses to the questions posed by Cee Neuer. If you’re interested in knowing more about this challenge which right now has 7,952 followers, click on the title above.
SC: Sad start to the morning:
I’m starting on a sad note today by answering a question not asked. We’ve just returned from the vet where we said goodbye to our little old lady, Zoe, who has been part of our family for many years. People who don’t love animals (are there really people like that?) wouldn’t understand, but I know if you are a pet-lover you will.
Zoe was, and always will be, a part of our lives and hearts, and our home is so empty without her. It was time. We knew that. She was very old (18), was almost blind, had hardly any hearing, and over the last couple of days had become increasingly disorientated. Last night she tried to get into my bedside cupboard on the opposite side of the room to her bed. So it was the right and fair thing to do. But right now, it’s hard to ignore the glaring emptiness in her bed beside my computer. (It will go later today, but right now all the bedding is in the washing machine.
At the rate I'm going, 2018 is going to be remembered as the year I took up new challenges!
I stumbled upon the "Outdo Yourself Challenge" which has evidently been going for some years. This year, it's being hosted by Corinne Rodrigues for the third year in a row.
Reading the instructions, participants are supposed to "up their game" of how many books they read last year, and read more this year. However, I have no idea of how many books I read last year, so I'm starting from scratch.
SC: Hi Everyone! And to those whom I haven’t met up with elsewhere on the Blogosphere, a Very Happy and Blessed New Year to you! May 2018 be a year of great things, big or small. And no, that’s not a contradiction in terms. Small things sometimes turn out to be the biggest of blessings.
I’ve been out of action with this challenge for a few weeks, so I look forward to answering Cee Neuer’s fun questions in her Share Your World Challenge. By the way, it may interest you to know that there are currently 7,919 people following this challenge!
Here are my answers for this week:
SYW: Complete this sentence: I’m looking forward to….
A need is revealed!
A few months ago, I released a new eBook on Amazon: Miriam, Gifted Leader. I referred to it as Part 2 of the story of Miriam, a mistake I intend rectifying in the next week or two. I realized my mistake too late. Who would want to buy Book 2 if they hadn’t already read Book 1? The book is a stand-alone, but how would potential readers know that?
So I scheduled a five-day period on Amazon where Book 1 would be offered free. That would solve my problem. Well, it might have. But I forgot!
Four hours before the five days were up, I frantically called on my street team to get the news out! Book 1 was free–for a few more hours . . . which were soon gone. I didn’t sell ONE book during the 5 free days. Really?
Come the new year, I had to become more organised. I needed help!
Because I love learning new things, I was thrilled (and surprised) to discover two new tools I would need to put into almost immediate use.
Off with the old and on with the new
At one minute to midnight on December 31, 2017, my husband and I were in prayer when we heard counting wafting to us on the sea breezes: 10, 9, 8, 7 . . . The new year was about to arrive.
We rose to our feet, picked up our drinks (cola-tonic and ginger ale!) and made our way onto the stoep at the front of our cottage. Only three streets up from the beach and a few streets along from the Port Elizabeth pier, we had ideal seats for the firework display about to commence.
As the count reached 1 . . . a loud cheer emanated from the beach as millions of rand worth of fireworks shot into the air.
2018 had begun in S.Africa. Australia, New Zealand, India, China and many other countries were already well into the year–but we were ahead of the UK and the Americas.
I experienced the same thrill I feel every year. A new 365 days. 52 weeks. 12 months.
What would they hold?
What wonderful things will happen in the world? In our family? In our home? What sad things or tough decisions will we face?
It’s too much to expect an entire 365 days of joy, although my “theme word” for the year is “thankfulness.” I am determined to look for 6-7 reasons to give thanks every day this year. 39 per week. Some days, that will be easy, and I may think of more than six reasons. I’ll jot them down and get in advance. Some days will be a lot more difficult so for that reason, I’ve called it a challenge!
In December, I started preparing for my thankfulness project under the title, “Thankful Thursday.” I wrote two posts on my blog and posted another two guest posts in preparation for the new year. My goal? Two thousand and eighteen (yes, that’s right–2018) items of thanks during the year.
I decided to invite others to come on board. What a pleasant surprise as I watched the response. I would need a way to keep track of the other blogs as well as encouraging them to follow one another. Sue Loncaric, whom I know from a Facebook page for bloggers, wrote an excellent blog post for me on the topic, Linkies, a new word in my vocabulary.
Click on the frog to learn more! I have created my first blog button to use with the Thankful Thursday project, and I’ve learned (I think!) how to use it.
My first post in the Thankful Thursday went live on Thursday 4th January, complete with the first 21 thankful points. I had some issues with the html code on the link-up which may be why I only have three folk linked at this stage. The final chance to link-up to the first post is Tuesday 9th. Then the 2nd post will be published on 11th.
If you have a post on thankfulness (or gratitude), I invite you to leave a link to your post, and visit at least two of the other links.
The template for my second post, due January 11, is drafted, and I have post-its around the house so I can jot down thank you points as they come to mind.
I will keep you posted on how this works. Meantime, check out some of my “thankful” related posts (shown below) or better still, consider joining up with the challenge.
Why am I doing this?
For a number of reasons.
- It will discipline me with regular blog posts.
- It will improve my blog traffic.
- I hope it will encourage others in the same way.
- And if for no other reason, it can only benefit me as I search my day for things I am grateful for.
Can you see how this might help you too?
But I said I discovered two new tools.
Two days before New Year, a writing friend, Val Waldeck, introduced me to a tool I had heard of vaguely but knew nothing about. Trello. This is a project management system which is evidently used for businesses across the world. As Val shared her desktop with me over Skype, I became more and more excited. Although I didn’t learn “new words” as with the inLinkz tool, I learned new meanings for old words; boards, lists, cards, labels, etc.
If I can only get used to checking this regularly, there will be no more forgotten promotional projects.
I spent New Year’s Day and the 2nd January setting up new boards that will help me keep track of the many writing projects I juggle. The first board I created was to keep track of my blog posts, and especially the Thankful Thursday challenge about to commence.
Each board consists of a number of lists. For my Thankful Thursday I create a new card for each week’s post. The card gradually makes its way from the list called idea to the one titled in process and then on to written, awaiting graphics. Next it moves to scheduled, where it will await publication. I will then move the card on to published and promotion and finally Done.
My critique group will be thrilled to know I also have a list for them. So far, I’ve kept up well. (Okay, so at the point of writing, that’s less than a week into the new year but still . . . !)
Only time will tell how well I keep myself on track with this, but I have plenty of time to prove it! 365 . . . no wait! I only have 358 days left of 2018. Time is already starting to speed up! I hope this year I will be way better organised, thanks to these two new writing tools.
Have you heard of, or better still, used either of these tools? I’d love it if you leave a comment below.
If you have a thankful or gratitude post, please consider linking to the link_up “Thankful Thursday“.
Disclosure: This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience.
Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
Christmas Every Day?
Two weeks ago, South African author, Daleen Reyburn, wrote a guest blog for me, “Christmas Every Day.” It was an excerpt from her excellent book, Dragons and Dirt: The truth about changing the world – and the courage it requires.
In her post (and in her book) Daleen describes a “trip” she took in 2013. She chose thanksgiving as her theme for the year. Instead of the usual challenge of having one item of thanksgiving each day for 365 days, she “decided to count 2013 gifts in 2013.” She worked out that this meant thirty-eight-point-something gifts a week – for the 52 weeks of 2013.
Last week, I introduced you to S.African author, Dalene Raeburn. She wrote a guest post for me based on a chapter from her popular book, Dragons and Dirt. The title of the post was “Christmas Every Day.” She shared a concept that has struck a chord in a number of readers, and I intend to follow it up in 2018. So if you haven’t read it, make a note to go there as soon as you’ve read this week’s post. You really don’t want to miss either of these posts – or the next one, when I will introduce my theme for 2018 which I hope to see a number of you getting in on the challenge too.
Prior to introducing the theme, I invited Sue Loncaric to write a blog post for me on the topic, Link Parties. I know nothing about this topic, but I’m hoping to use it as part of my project. So welcome Sue! Thank you for being my guest today.
Talking about Link Parties
I was delighted when Shirley asked me to be a guest on her blog and write about Link Parties.
In January, my friend Leanne from Cresting the Hill and I will be starting a new link party – Midlife Share the Love Party. This will be a link up exclusively for Midlife Lifestyle bloggers. There are so many link parties out there for recipes, crafts and yummy mummies but not many for those of us who fall into the Midlife Lifestyle category. So we decided to set one up for ourselves!
I also participate in other link parties during the week or month which you can find over at my Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond blog.
I’m all about the honesty so here it is:
I love Boney M.
I love their crazy Afros. I love their funky disco-era renditions of ancient holy carols. I love their proclamations of glory: Oh my Lord, you sent your Son to save us, oh my Lord . . .
I get that musically, Boney M is atrocious stuff. But it’s my childhood. It’s summer holidays and my sisters and me dancing on the lounge carpet in front of the Christmas tree. It’s market shopping and tinsel and turkey.
Scandalously, I have passed on this passion to my sons. Now, in March, and July, and every day from mid-October until Christmas, I get requests for ‘Christmas songs pleeeeeez, Mommy!’ They don’t care that it’s inappropriate – freaky – to listen to (bad) Christmas music in the middle of the year.
Out of the Shadow Series
So far in the series, we’ve drawn three lesser-known ladies out of the shadow that hovers over them, and see them for what they really were: real live flesh-and-blood women.
We looked at Naomi out of the shadow of Ruth; Eve out of the shadow of the Garden of Eden; Miriam out of the shadow of the baby in the bulrushes; and out of the shadow of her brother, Moses.
Many have asked me, “What next?”
I guess that should rather say, “Who next?”
I am torn between doing another in the series, or taking a detour to publish a book of 365 devotions based on lesser-known Biblical women.
I could do the devotional book in two possible formats.
- Write all 365 devotions then publishing them in one book. This will obviously take longer.
- Publish 91 devotions per volume, until there are 365 in total, then assembling them into a boxed set. This will be quicker to produce.
I have already drafted many of these, so all going well, the 365 would be out by less than halfway through the year, whichever way I do them.
Some of the women I would cover are: Hagar, Jael, Leah, Shiprah, Tabitha, Salome, and many others.
So my question for you is, “What next?”
I’d love your input. Thank you.
I do hope to do both options, it is just a question of which one first. In other words, “What’s next?”
Please check off the box you would prefer.
Out of the Shadow
When I started this series, Out of the Shadow, I wanted to take a look at some the women in the Bible who are commonly seen “under the shadow” of another person or location. Hence it is not Out of the Shadows, but only one shadow. Although they are often well-known names, you will find it surprising how little you actually know about these women.
Book 1 of the series is Naomi, Beloved Mother-in-Law, who lives under the shadow of her daughter-in-law, Ruth. Her story is contained in the Old Testament book of Ruth, yet that book begins with Naomi’s story and ends with Naomi’s story. If it hadn’t been for the bravery of Naomi, Ruth would not have converted to Judaism, moved to live among God’s people, and ultimately become part of the lineage of Jesus Christ.
Moved from her home to God’s “scrub bucket,” Naomi lived for years in a foreign and idolatrous land. She experienced several devastating losses before she made the first of a number of huge decisions.
Written in creative nonfiction, the story stays close to the biblical story, but is brought alive in a way that will help you identify with Naomi. Just as this lady of old faced life-changing decisions, so we too can face threatening situations trusting in Naomi’s God.
If you have read this book, please consider leaving a review on Amazon for me. Thank you.
The next book in the series is Eve, Mother of All. Of course we have all heard of Eve, the very first woman who was created in God’s own image. She lived in a beautiful garden, the Garden of Eden, and she was married to the first man, Adam. Remember her? She lived a perfect life in an idyllic setting.
Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. As she’s drawn out of the shadow of the garden we find a real flesh-and-blood woman; the first wife, the first woman to give birth, the first woman to hold a newborn baby in her arms and ask, “Now what?”
Again, if you’ve read this book, please leave a review on Amazon. Thank you.
Next up is Miriam, Devoted Sister. I’m sure we all know about Moses, the baby rescued from the bulrushes alongside the crocodile-infested River Nile. We no doubt also know the story of Miriam, the little girl who bravely faced the Egyptian princess and suggested a plan that would save the life of her three-month-old baby brother. But what happened to the little girl as she became a woman living in a nation under slavery?
As we draw her out of the shadow of the baby in the bulrushes, we learn that she grew up in Goshen, at a time when her people were slaves to the wicked Pharaoh. Her parents were Godly people who not only taught Miriam about the God of their forefathers, they instilled their faith into their little boy who would leave them at the age of three to grow up in the Egyptian palace.
Miriam, Devoted Sister, ends at the point when the Hebrew nation gather at the border of Goshen, about to embark on their amazing venture: the journey to the Promised Land.
Once more, if you’ve read this book, please consider leaving an honest review on Amazon for me. Thank you.
When I first set out on this journey with Miriam, I wondered if I would find enough information to fill an entire book. Imagine my surprise when one book became two.
And so the 4th book in this series is Miriam, Gifted Leader. This takes up Miriam’s story at around eighty years old. Yet, as we will see, this was no fragile, elderly woman. She had far more energy than I have, and I imagine more than you. About to embark on an incredible journey that would take the rest of her life, she faced adventures and horrors of terrifying magnitude. Throughout that time, she showed herself to be a gifted leader in a time when women were not regarded as capable of taking the lead.
This story commences as the previous book ends. The Children of Israel gather at the exit from Goshen, about to embark on the journey of a lifetime. I invite you to pick up your bundles and get behind our leaders as we prepare to take our leave of Pharaoh, the Egyptians, and the life of slavery. We will follow Miriam as she steps out of the shadow of her famous brother, Moses, and becomes a true leader in her own right.
As before, if you have read this book, please will you pop over to Amazon and leave an honest review? Thank you.
So who next?
And so in four books, I have covered three characters. Many have asked me, “Who next?” We will be taking an in-depth look at another lady out of the shadow (there are plenty!) and continue with the series. This lady was another slave, but in a very different type of shadow.
I am also in the process of compiling a book of 365 brief devotional messages based on some of the women of the Bible.
If you want to be among the first to know about Shirley’s new books, please leave your name and email address below. I promise you will not receive heaps of spam or lengthy newsletters, and you can unsubscribe at any time.