Saturday, June 26, 2010

Writing The Heartache All Day Workshop

I really believe in what Alice Wisler is doing through this workshop. If you are writing about loss, grief, etc. you should attend this first-ever event she's doing. Read on...

Consider heading over to Morrisville, NC (near the Raleigh-Durham Airport) to the Writing The Heartache Workshop on July 17th. In the serene Country Inns and Suites, we will benefit from the tool of writing as we pour out the sorrow, grief, broken relationships, and struggles we all face.
This all-day workshop is filling up, but there is room for you or someone else you know who wants to write for healing, hope and health. Read more about the event at the Raleigh Christian Fiction Examiner.
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Friday, June 25, 2010

Guest Post: When Your Creativity Is Blocked

Today I am featuring a guest post by author Debra Ullrick. She graciously allowed me to post it here. I hope it speaks to you as much as it spoke to me! Even if you aren't a writer, I am sure there are times you feel blocked-- as a parent, a wife, a professional. When we feel blocked Debra has a great strategy for overcoming it.

Recently I had writer's block. It seemed like no matter how hard I tried I couldn't write a word. I had numerous story ideas and had started several, but then, I couldn't figure out what happened next. I would pray and nothing happened. I even got some wonderful advice from my fellow writers and still nothing happened.

Then the Lord showed me I wasn't putting Him first. I was put writing first. Plus, I wasn't trusting Him to write the story through me.

So before I even turned my computer on, I spent time in prayer and in the Word, and when I sat down to write, I simply said, "Lord, You are a creative genius. It is You Who has placed this gift inside of me. It is Your gift. Use me to write the words and the stories that You want written."

The words started to flow again, and I was able to get past the writer's block.

Then today, in the NASB, I stumbled on this scripture in Psalm 139:1-4, and it blew me away.

1O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
2You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
3You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
4Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O LORD, You know it all.

Even before there is a word/story on my tongue, HE knows it all... the whole story, from beginning to end. That is so freeing to me. I no longer have to stress over what happens next. I just need to remember that HE knows and allow Him to work through me because, after all, He is INTIMATELY acquainted with ALL my ways.

Just think, He cares about our writing intimately. Doesn't get more personal than that.

To find out about Debra's writing go to
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Raise Your Voices, Not Your Swords

Last week I posted a verse about God fighting for you. I knew someone needed to hear it and, it turned out, there was more than one someone! Thanks for the Facebook messages, comments and emails letting me know that God used that verse in your life.

Today in my Bible reading, I found this passage that went perfectly with the verse I posted:

2 Chronicles 20:20-25 (New International Version)

20 Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, "Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful." 21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:
"Give thanks to the LORD,
for his love endures forever."

22 As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23 The men of Ammon and Moab rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

24 When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. 25 So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it.

I think it's easy to read verses like the ones I posted about God fighting on our behalf and think, "Well that's nice but how's that going to look in real time?" That's why I loved this story. It shows an example of God literally fighting on behalf of His people. My Bible note says, "Either angelic creatures or inhabitants of the area ambushed the invaders." (Ryrie: Verse 21)

Did you get that?? While the people were singing and praising God, He made it so that their enemies were defeated even as they sang. They didn't have to do anything. Except of course, persevere in praising Him.

I think that what God told the prophet to tell the people to do is key. He told the people to sing His praises-- to focus on Him. Just like Peter stepping into the ocean, they needed only to keep their eyes on Him and not what was happening. I am sure this answer was not what they were expecting. They expected to raise their swords and head into battle. Instead they raised their voices. God, as usual, worked in opposition to what we would expect.

On Friday I told you to pray instead of worry. And that's a good suggestion. But today I am amending that a bit. I am suggesting that you sing instead. Let praises fill your mind instead of worries. Turn off the voices that are crowding your thoughts and turn up some praise music. While you are singing God will be working. And when He works, the plunder is more than you can carry.
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Monday, June 21, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window... Sunny, hot, blue skies, fat fluffy white clouds. Perfect day.

I am thinking... About how hard it's going to be to get used to a husband who has a job after having a husband who didn't for 6 months. I got really used to having him around.

I am thankful for... A husband who has a job.

I am praying for... His first full week of work, my kids' youth trip with our church this coming weekend, and my prayer partner Karen Ehman as she prepares for She Speaks.

I am wearing... shorts and a tee shirt. It's summer.

I am creating... ideas for the next book.

I am going... to survive this week, no matter how hectic it gets.

I am reading... back issues of Writer's Digest, clipping articles that will help me with my writing.

I am hoping... to have some fun with my kids this week. Putting some things on the calendar to make sure that happens.

I am hearing... the tv. My youngest is watching Ice Age.

I am remembering... all the summers my children were too young to do things like go to the movies or spend very long at the pool. It is nice to have reached the point where we can do those things as a family.

From the learning rooms... not much. Library trips, reading being encouraged, but otherwise just fun and play.

From the kitchen... I have decided I could live off Strawberry Special K cereal and tomato sandwiches. And the occasional chocolate. (Not all together, mind you.)

Around the house... Filing clipped recipes in my recipe notebook. Perhaps that will inspire me to make something other than cereal and sandwiches.

On my mind... my next book. It's always on my mind.

Noticing that... It doesn't take long for summer boredom (and the ensuing sibling rivalry) to set in.

One of my favorite things... sitting at the pool with a great book in my lap and the sun on my skin.

Here is a picture I am sharing... A reader in Paris had the wonderful idea of taking a photo of The Mailbox on a Parisian mailbox! Love it!!

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Friday, June 18, 2010

A Verse For You

Because someone needs to hear this verse today:

Exodus 14:13-14, Moses answered the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today... The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."

Today is a day for being still, to stop striving and grasping and reaching for solutions. Every time you start to do that today, instead pray. Tell God that you are not going to be afraid. That you trust His deliverance is coming and that you know He is fighting on your behalf, so you don't have to.

Try that. Just for today. Take the day off from working it all out and let Him do it instead.
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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dreaming With My Eyes Open

When we were at the beach a week and a half ago, Curt had the kids outside swinging. "Daddy," my youngest said as she soared high on her swing, "I can dream with my eyes open!"

Curt thought he knew what she meant so he probed a bit to find out if he was guessing right. "Are you dreaming right now?" he asked her.

"Oh yes!" she said.

"What are you dreaming?" he asked.

She proceeded to tell him an elaborate tale about knights and kings and princesses and dragons. And, she pointed out, it was all happening in front of her eyes even though she wasn't asleep. Curt later told me this story and smiled as he said, "She's just like her mama!"

I admit. I dream with my eyes open a lot. While I am running. While I am driving. While I am washing dishes or sitting still. As I told someone recently: I am never idle and never bored. I get to go places, meet people and live adventures. Who cares if the places, people and adventures aren't actually happening? They are to me.

Novel writing has been a great extension of the dreams I dream with my eyes open. I get to tell the stories that entertain me and hope they entertain others as well. I love the possibilities that lie in front of me as I spend time this summer investigating ideas and fleshing out characters, determining what my next steps will be, my next novel-writing adventure will be. The world of storytelling is filled with potential. New ideas wait around every corner, hiding within the "What if?" question most writers are very good at asking.

I love dreaming with my eyes open. My life is all the richer for it.
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Friday, June 11, 2010

Links and Launches

Phew! Who knew releasing a book could be so all encompassing? Sorry for my absence and sorry for making all my recent posts about the book. It's the nature of a launch and I promise not to spend the entire summer blathering on and on and on about the book, the book, the book.

Since I have to spend time doing launch stuff over this weekend, I thought I would link to two great posts I read recently thanks to friends of mine who are great writers.

Here's one:

And here's the other:

What's on your summer stack? I will be back Monday to post my list. Thanks to all of you who are hanging in there with me as I get through this launch and on with normal (what's that??) life!
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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Bookplates and Book Club Conference Calls

Just letting you guys know that I am offering to sign your copies of The Mailbox through a signed bookplate. I hadn't really thought about this til a reader contacted me and asked if she could mail me her book to sign. I suddenly realized that a signed label would be a much better, faster, and cheaper way to go... and she agreed. I figured why not extend this offer to any of you who would like to do the same?? So I have a package of labels at the ready and would be happy to sign it and mail it to you if you would like to adhere it to the inside of your book. Contact me via email with your address and any special instructions (the name of the person you want it signed to or that you just want my name, etc.) and I will get it out to you asap as my gift to you-- a little way of saying "thank you" for reading!

Also, if your book club is choosing The Mailbox, I would love to "visit" you all and answer your questions via conference call! I can talk with you for about 15 minutes and take questions from the group about most anything you want to ask. If you live within an hour of the Charlotte NC area, I would also be willing to visit in person. Again, just email me privately if you would like to set this up.

I have a devotion running today on P31! I hope you enjoy my thoughts on forgiving others, even when it's hard. And if you haven't seen the trailer for The Mailbox yet, look below or head over to I posted some of our favorite beach recipes on there yesterday. Remember I am going to be posting over there all month!
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Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Mailbox, by Marybeth Whalen

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Writing The Heartache Workshop Interview

My friend Alice Wisler is a Christy-award nominee and has authored several novels. She also has a unique perspective on writing in the midst of loss. I love her idea of teaching others how to do this, and invited her to share a bit about an exciting new workshop she has coming up. Maybe God will prompt some of you to join Alice and others for this workshop in July. Or maybe you know someone who needs to be at this. Read on...

Alice, you are a novelist. Tell us a bit about the books you've written:

I grew up in Japan, yet my novels all deal with life in the South. I've now lived in Durham, NC for 22 years, so I suppose this remarkable state has taught me a thing or two about grits and sweet tea. Rain Song takes place in Mount Olive and How Sweet It Is is centered in the Smoky Mountains.

You have a novel coming out soon, right? Tell us about that one:

Hatteras Girl is about pursuing a dream. Jackie and her childhood friend, Minnie, want to run a bed and breakfast in Nags Head. Obstacles get in the way--- including a realtor who isn't as savvy as he wants others to believe. There are quirky characters like Aunt Sheerly who sings in a band called, All That Glitters is Gold, and a coworker who always loses his stapler.

In addition to writing novels, you also teach writing, specifically writing for people who've experienced grief. Can you tell us how that got started?

When my son Daniel died after cancer treatments in 1997, journaling kept me sane. I spent lots of time under a weeping willow writing out the bottled-up pain. My journal was my respite from a long day without my child. I believe that God has given us this wonderful tool of writing from our pain to help us heal. I want others to see how valuable grief-writing is for healing, hope and health.

You've decided to do a live one-day seminar in NC. Can you tell us what you're offering and where?

This workshop is a dream come true! July 17th at the Country Inns and Suites in Durham is where the workshop will take place. In addition to music, food, coffee, and a nice setting, we will discover how effective writing can be. Grief-writing is healthy, lowering blood pressure and pulse rates, and it is cheap therapy, too.

The testimonies I have from those who have found writing through pain to be life-changing are numerous. I want all those with heartaches from the loss of a significant loved one to the loss of a relationship to see just how vital writing is! We'll cover writing poetry, lists, psalms, letters, and essays. We'll share memories and stories. Each participant can bring something to share for feedback---if they wish.

Alice, we so appreciate all you're doing to give back to the writing community and inspiring people to write through their heartache. I know that writing will in turn bless others. What a powerful ripple effect it's sure to have. Thanks for stopping by today and sharing what's going on with you. How can people get in touch with you if they live within driving distance of the Raleigh NC area and would like to attend?

The Country Inns and Suites has reasonable, nice rooms that are waiting to be booked for this weekend. So if the drive is too far, consider staying the night.
Find the hotel online at 201 Airgate Drive in Morrisville, NC, right next to the Raleigh-Durham Airport. If you have questions about the hotel or the workshop, please
email me at
In fact, for reading this interview and being connected to Marybeth, email me to get a special discount off the workshop fee.
Bring a friend and save even more! Read more about my Writing the Heartache Blog and feel free to post a short piece there:
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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Launch Day

Want to win this great beach bag stuffed with great gifts that all have to do with The Mailbox?? (Especially the red flip flops, but you have to read it to understand why!!) Enter today at She Reads.

As the book becomes widely available today I have no idea what to expect. I have a devotion running today, which is linked to She Reads, where people can learn more about the book. And that's about the extent of my plans. In the coming weeks and days I will have guest blog posts and interviews running on various blogs and I will be doing some radio interviews. And I am doing signings around North and South Carolina during the summer. (See my "Where I'll Be" tab to find out where the signings are and please come out if you live nearby!)

And that's about all I know to do.

The rest is up to you, the readers. Last week I posted a list of things you can do to spread the word about the book and ran a contest to win a copy before you can buy it.

Today I thought I would post information about how you can write a review on Amazon about the book after you've had a chance to read it. If you've never written a review on Amazon, it's not hard and it's something that actually really helps. I know when I am considering a book I very often will read what other people think about it before purchasing it. Of course the publisher's going to say it's great, of course the author loves it. But what do real people with nothing invested have to say?? That's why the reviews are helpful.

So if you've read the book and would like to write a review, here are instructions you can follow:

How to Write a Product Review on Amazon:

Step 1: Go to Choose the "book" category.

Step2: Type in "The Mailbox: A Novel" and look through the returned results to select the book that you wish to review.

Step3: You must have an account with Amazon in order to write a review! Log in (if you have previously ordered something through Amazon before)or register yourself with

Step4: Rate the book using the "star" method. (between one and five stars). A product you dislike might get one star, while a superior product would receive five.

Step5: Title your review. Think of a catchy review title that will encourage browsers to read your review.

Step6: Fill in the text for your review. Keep it short and concise. Remember you are trying to persuade the reader to consider this book from the many others in the marketplace.

Step7: Preview your review (CHECK YOUR SPELLING) and submit. It should appear on Amazon's website within the week.

Thanks to all of you who take the time to review the book. And don't forget about Barnes and Noble's reviews either-- as of right now I have NO reviews over there!! I really do appreciate all the help you can give me. People like you are what make or break a first-time novelist!!
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