Sunshine Blogger Challenge – 11 Questions Answered!

I was tagged for this fun challenge by Gracie Mae DeLunac!  The idea is that you answer the 11 questions the previous blogger asked, and then “tag” 11 other bloggers and write them eleven new questions to answer.

I know not everyone enjoys (or likes to pass along) these challenges, so I won’t tag anybody specific here. But if you take a fancy to my questions at the end, consider yourself tagged! 😀 Answer the questions on your blog, then link back here in the comments so I can see your answers. :)

Here are Gracie’s questions, answered by me!

1. What is your favorite movie/tv show quote? What is it from? Why is it your favorite?

That’s a tough question!!  There are so many good movie quotes.  I think these few tie for my favorite…

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I love this quote from the captain deeply, because it reminds me of a much deeper and more beautiful truth: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” – Jesus, Matthew 25:40

And my second favorite:

Every human soul has significance.  None of us are unimportant.

And my other favorite:

This one I love because it reminds us that what goes on inside our heads is immensely powerful.  It shapes us!  (This is especially true for writers.  And for reading.)  Just because something is imaginary doesn’t mean it won’t impact us in a real way, perhaps for the rest of our lives.

2. What do you like to think about most when plotting (characters, plotline, plot twists, villainous acts, etc.)?

I think about characters, plot twists, and intense moments the most.  The parts I’m most looking forward to writing, and the characters’ motivations, and what drives them toward each point of the story.

3. What is your preference of “apocalyptic” groups: zombies, aliens, or mutants?

Mutants all the way!!…if we’re talking X-men type mutants, that is.

4.  What kind of food do you eat to feel decent enough to write?

I’m a little confused by this question, as I don’t really consider food a part of my writing prep at all, and I usually feel decent enough to write as long as I’m not having a bad day or something.  For writing snacks, that totally depends on the day. Sometimes I just want a glass of water. Sometimes I want a big plate of healthy snacks like string cheese, applesauce, wheat crackers, carrots and hummus.  Sometimes I want a mug brownie with a dollop of ice cream. 😀  And no, the brownie and ice cream probably don’t help me feel decent, but my mouth is fond of it…… 😉

5. Do you bring your own personal views (especially political and religious) into your tales?

I think it’s impossible not to do this!  What we write flows out of our hearts; no matter how hard we try, our beliefs will show up in our writing in some way.  Some of my stories portray my faith more overtly, with openly Christian characters and religious themes.  In others, it shows up more quietly and symbolically.  My current WIP probably has the least religious content of any I’ve written…I’ve been kind of surprised at that!

6. Would you say you “commune” better with nature when gardening [hands on], lounging outside [kinda near], or viewing it from inside your place [far away]?

Can I say moving outside? 😀 I’m weird about nature.  I am more of an indoors person.  And definitely not hands on so much!  But I don’t find outside a very relaxing place to be.  I consider it an active place to be, for the most part – I’d much rather be walking, hiking, dancing, biking, etc. than lounging!  I think I subconsciously feel like if I stay still too long, the bugs will get on me more easily… Hahahaha.

7. What is the strangest/rudest thing you have ever heard your written characters say?

Well, my villain in my current WIP used a swear word in the latest chapter…..this is totally a first for me and I’m not sure what I think of this. O.o  I’ve never had a character who swore before! But this is definitely what he would say….so it fits him as a character 100%.  I haven’t decided yet whether to censor him. 😉

8. Paper or plastic or re-usable?

I love my re-usable bags, made by the owner of this Etsy store, Jiggety Pig! If I don’t have those with me, I prefer plastic, because…….well, to be honest, they make good sacks to tie stinky diapers in when you’re on the go. 😉  And I’m never sure what to do with a paper bag after I’m done with it. Throw it away?? They’re so sturdy and “nice” compared to plastic bags that it feels like a waste to just toss it!

Some of Jiggety Pig’s bags, because I know the maker, and the bags are awesome:

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9. What movie/book/show would you say has made the most impression on you? When? Why/how?

There are so many…  I’m going to go with my gut on this one and say Lord of the Rings. *happy sigh*  I was obsessed with LotR throughout most of my teens.  I lived and breathed Middle-Earth everything.  And while I was a little bit unbalanced in my obsessions at the time, 😉 I still deeply love Tolkien’s world, because there is so much love, beauty, and truth in it.  The beauty of sacrifice, the love of friendship and loyalty, and the truth of light versus darkness and nobility and courage in the face of certain death.

10. What is your favorite color?

Now that’s an easy question.  Purple!!!

As a teen I painted my side of my bedroom in my favorite shade of lavender.  I miss having that beautiful purple writing corner… Someday, someday, I hope to have a purple writing nook again. 😀

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11. If you were able to publish one of your tales and go somewhere to showcase it (author tour, opening night for the movie, etc.), where would you go?  Why?

I confess I haven’t thought about this much!  I have considered a bunch of plans for future release parties for my main story-love, The Kraesinia Trilogy…foods I would serve, excerpts to read, costumes to potentially make, gifts I’d give away.  It really depends on the book, I suppose!  Going off my current WIP, Disillusioning, it would be awesome to do a semi-local author tour in some nearby states…sign books in Barnes & Noble and meet readers face-to-face. That would be fun. :)

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Thanks for the fun questions, Gracie! :)

Here are my 11 questions to anyone who’d like to pass this challenge onward…

1. If you could have any magical/supernatural ability, what would you choose?

2. What’s one of your happiest childhood memories?

3. What is your favorite writing spot / workspace like? Why do you like to work there best?

4. What ministry or calling is closest to your heart?  What’s something you dream of doing for that cause someday?

5. Chocolatey desserts or fruity desserts??

6. What was your favorite book as a small child?

7. What’s something you used to be afraid of but aren’t scared of (or not as scared!) anymore?

8. What’s your favorite kind of outfit to wear?

9. What Bible verse has God used most powerfully in your life recently?  How?

10. How do you feel about rollercoasters? Love ’em, hate ’em?

11. Do you like sad endings or movies/books that make you cry?  Why or why not?

Let me know if you decide to take on the challenge and send me a link to your post! I’d love to learn more about you. :)

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EDIT: Author Yaasha Moriah answered my questions, and she had some beautiful answers! Check out her post here: http://www.yaashamoriah.com/home/sunshine-blogger-challenge-11-questions-answered

Simmer Starters – July 15, 2016

Brace yourselves!  After missing it last week, I have a ton of Simmers to catch up on. 😀

Hospitality and the Holy Imagination (Zach Franzen) – Some fascinating, worthy thoughts here (it takes a bit for the article to really get going, so stay with it). “Artists should be good hosts. At the very least they should serve a meal they are willing to eat themselves.”

How Worry Steals Your Magic (K.M. Carroll) – “I’ve spent the last decade learning to be afraid. Learning to worry. Learning all those dark, negative things that help you survive adulthood–but they cut off your shining Neverland. In its place, I built a narrow, dystopian world of darkness and fear.”

Thinking Biblically About Worry (Paul David Tripp) – Speaking of worry… “Worry and rest always reveal the true treasures of your heart. You will rest the most when what you treasure the most is secure, and you will worry the most when what you treasure the most is at risk. What does your world of worry reveal about the true treasures of your heart?”

Teaching Jaded Characters How to Trust (Angela Ackerman) – “[Our characters] have suffered pain, emotional wounds that leave them paralyzed when it comes to trust. Somehow, we must help them move past their pain. We must convince them that a willingness to being vulnerable by trusting another will lead to something deeper and more meaningful than they ever imagined.”

Homosexuality in Christian Fiction (Elijah David) – Whether you agree with this post or not, I believe this is a very important conversation for Christian writers to have. “Thus we approach this issue as we approach any other delicate issue regarding a character’s traits and motivations. We write them with excellence and complexity. We show these people are not forced to represent all women, all people of color, all blind people, all the LGBT movement. Stereotypes and generalizations get us nowhere as writers, as storytellers, as students of human nature.”

When Motherhood Squashes Your Talent (Courtney Allison) – This is applicable beyond the topic of motherhood! Comforting words for those who yearn to write but are “stuck” in a difficult phase of life for it. “In the middle of my nausea. When my life was reeling with surprise and sickness. When my chief avenue of processing, thinking, and meditating (i.e. writing), was cut off to me. God knew that would happen. So, I quietly closed my journal, logged out of my blog, and walked into my every day.”

Women, Trade Self-Worth for Wonder and Awe (Jen Wilkin) – YES! “You can tell me that I stir the heart of God, that I am sung over and delighted in, that I am beautiful in his eyes, that I am set apart for a sacred purpose. You can tell me these things, and you should. But I beg you: Don’t tell me who I am until you have caused me to gaze in awe at ‘I Am.’

Why Single is Not the Same as Lonely (Sam Allberry) – Because friendships are a blessing! “A friend is someone who knows your soul. Someone who doesn’t just know lots about you, but knows you. And, Proverbs shows us, we cannot hope to live wisely in God’s world without such soul-to-soul friendships. All of us need them, not just those who are single.”

Bringing Joy to the Journey – Logo Reveal and Blog Redesign!

Hello, friends – if you’ve been at the Simmering Mind in the last few days, you may have already noticed that things look a little different around here!

I haven’t blogged much lately (and missed some Simmer Starters…eek), but I’ve been hard at work.  Mostly this work has involved four small children and that thing we call “real life,” but I’ve also been busy working on my new story…and then there is this!

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My husband and I designed my author/blogger logo together, and I am totally in love!!! 😀  It represents so many things…

  1. BOOKS.
  2. Light.
  3. Being a light in the darkness.
  4. Illumination through reading.
  5. God’s word being a lamp to our feet and a light to our paths.
  6. It kind of looks like a TARDIS. (I promise that actually wasn’t intentional!) 😀

My husband and I had the same exact concept, to blend a book and lantern together – we’ve been jokingly calling it “the blantern” 😛 – and it was really a team effort to take it from a rough concept to the beautiful graphic above (the digital side was ALL my husband’s work, people…he’s amazing!).

This symbol perfectly illustrates my aim as a writer and a blogger – to make people’s paths brighter and broaden their perspectives in a dark world.

In keeping with the lantern motif, I’ve redone my blog look!

But I had to keep the purples, and I had to keep the STARS.

Stars give light in the darkness.  Stars are what you see above you as you journey through the night.  Stars are a symbol of “infinity and beyond,” reminiscent of my favorite genre, sci-fi.  And because God is awesome, stars are not only pretty, but also a tool we can navigate by, and trace pictures and myths.  I have long felt a kind of closeness to the stars. :)

And hand in hand with having a logo, I have a new tagline:

Bringing Joy to the Journey

This is my passion: in writing, in blogging, and as a person.

I want to bring joy.

I want to bring the joy of a good story.

I want to help people find their own joy along the road, appreciating that every step on the journey is meaningful, even the places where it seems like they are stuck and not moving forward.

I want to shine forth the joy that comes when we have Christ, and when we are fully submitted to God and serving Him with our lives.  People talk of the peace that passes understanding, but seldom of the intense joy and delight that comes of turning your whole self over to God with no reservations.

Not everyone I make contact with in my journey as an author and blogger (and #WIPjoy organizer!) shares my faith, so I do want to be sensitive to that.  My goal isn’t to push an agenda on people or preach at them, but to support and uplift them as human beings, and to share with them the love of Christ and be an example of His joy.  Joy is infectious!  I aim to be an encouragement to all.

But this is who I am, my identity. This is where my light comes from.  My desire as a Christian is to stir others up to seek God like this, to have this joy and this consuming desire:

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
    beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
    my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
    in your name I will lift up my hands.

…for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

From Psalm 63 (emphasis mine)

I’m so excited about my journey as a writer! – and I pray that I will be able to bless your journey through life with my stories, my blog, and all social media fun as well.

Hopefully I will be back in the saddle soon with some fresh new posts and some Simmers compilations! 😀  I’m so grateful to those of you who follow the blog and take an interest in my writings.  Thank you so much for reading!

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What do you think of the new website look? If you’re an author/blogger, do you have a logo? What does it look like, and how did you go about designing it?

Simmer Starters – July 2, 2016

Fear Not, the Universe is Wildly Out of Your Control (Ricky Alcantar) – “Psalm 97:1 says simply ‘The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice!’ This of course implies that we do not reign ultimately. On many days I don’t like that. But rather than cause for anxiety the Psalmist encourages us that it’s cause for celebration. Because the Lord reigns.”

We Are Not Superheroes (Kevin Frye) – This!  So many times this.  This applies to any spiritual gift.  “One time an associate pastor was talking to me, and he complimented me on how freely I could dance and worship with my whole heart. I looked at him and said, ‘You can do it, too, you know. I’m not doing anything special. Everyone can experience the Holy Spirit and find joy and be set free.’ I didn’t want to be the only one dancing.”

Who Will You Serve and Surprise This Week? (Tim Challies) – “If we are to live in such a way that we bring glory to God by doing good to others, we owe it to them to serve and surprise, to fulfill duty and express delight. So who do you need to serve and surprise in the week ahead?”

Dumpster Diving (Nancy Ann Wilson) – A good reminder to take every thought captive.  “We all know how our minds drift all the day long, and we tend to be easily carried along to where ever they might take us. But thoughts left to themselves often go dumpster diving, digging through fleshly things, carnal things, earthly things, untrue, ignoble, unjust, impure, unlovely, and unkind things. The dumpster is always full of this stuff: your own past sins and failures, the sins of others, bitterness, worries, and lusts. And then we wonder why we are worried, envious, lustful, bitter, anxious, or fearful. But we’ve been feeding on this stuff from the dumpster all day!”

Why Your Character’s Childhood Dreams Matter (Ruthanne Reid) – “With very few exceptions, all characters had a childhood. What did your character want to be when they grew up? When they were young, what seemed like the best future path? What job did they want? What skills did they crave? What misconceptions did they have about that job?”

Parenting a Difficult Child (Julie Lowe) – I don’t often post specifically parenting-related stuff since not all my readers are parents, but I thought this was a good article, and encouraging. :)

Simmer Starters – June 24, 2016

Today we’ve got some writing articles, a culture/faith article, and two marriage articles. Enjoy!

Why You Should Stop Searching For Your Authentic Voice (Enchanting Marketing) – This is a fascinating and refreshing look at the topic of finding your writing voice.  “What if you liberate yourself from your search for authenticity? Could you find a voice resonating strongly with your audience because you focus on your readers instead of yourself?”

What’s Your Third Book? (Dan Bal0w) – Why it’s important to have more than one idea stashed away if you want to write professionally.  Also, good advice on finding your writing niche.

In Lieu of ‘In Lieu of Flowers’ (David Greusel) – Love this article for its defense of beauty and why beauty is necessary. “Have you ever sat in a funeral and looked at a big flower arrangement at the front of the sanctuary, and thought, ‘Wow, that must be $300 worth of flowers — that money could have been used to feed a whole lot of hungry people?’ Congratulations. You think just like Judas.”

What the World Needs Now is Better Wine (Lori Roeleveld) – Beautiful article about marriage. “There is a better love than the one I originally offered my spouse. I am now eternally grateful that I ran out of my own watered-down version of love because when I did, I turned to Jesus for a miracle.”

Why Sex Isn’t the Best Thing Ever (Lore Ferguson Wilbert) – This is especially good for singles, but a great reminder for marrieds as well. “When I hear those who are not married say ‘But at least you get to have sex! And live with your best friend!’ Well, first, I’d warn against saying at least in regard to much. But second I want to say your words betray a much, much deeper need…”