Friday, March 30, 2007

When is the last possible moment?

I intended to write a post today titled "Does God Write Westerns?"

Basically, I would point out that in old western movies, the Cavalry always arrived to save the day at the last possible moment. As writers, we understand why the movies work that way. If the characters had only started to sense that they MIGHT be in danger or they MIGHT run out of water in a few weeks, we wouldn't be terribly worried about them, would we? The Cavalry could walk their horses into the fort at a leisurely pace, and we movie-goers would yawn and go for a refill on our popcorn.

That's the movies. That's books. But doesn't God often work the same way? How many stories have you heard where God intervenes or saves the day at the last possible moment? I've heard testimonies from people who didn't have a dime to pay their rent, and just when they were about to be evicted, God provided the money so they could pay off their debts.

That's what I was preparing to write about today--those kinds of stories.

Then I received a phone call from a dear friend that made me think even harder. This friend is going through a very rough time, and she has one of those situations in which God really, really needs to intervene. It seems to us that he needs to do something RIGHT NOW! Of course, it's seemed that way for over a year, but because of finances, this does appear to be the last possible moment. And sure enough, we thought God was getting ready to make his Cavalry charge and save the day. Then, just a little while ago, everything fell through.

So has she reached that last possible moment? Did the Cavalry not show up? Or does she need to keep waiting on the Lord to act, keep praying and working toward her goal?

I remember the story of Lazarus and Jesus in the Scriptures. Everyone, of course, remembers the part where Jesus raises the dead man. ("Lazarus, come forth!" Talk about drama!) But how about the part before that? Jesus receives a message from Mary and Martha that their brother is gravely ill, and they want Jesus to come immediately and heal him. What does Jesus do? He delays the trip. ON PURPOSE. This is how it reads in the New American Standard Bible: "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was" (John 11:5-6). Jesus knows exactly what he's doing. (That goes without saying, doesn't it?) He tells the disciples quite clearly that Lazarus has died, then says, "and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him" (v. 15).

Clearly, God often delays for our benefit. Just like the writers of western movies, he has to get our attention. How would we ever know how much he does for us if we never see that we need him? That we can't hang on for another second without him.

The question is, how do we recognize that last moment? How do we know when to throw in the towel, and maybe let God show us a whole new course? And how do we know when to keep praying and holding on?

I certainly don't have all the answers. But I do know that God has always, somehow, shown me what to do. I know he'll help my friend with this decision, as well. But waiting on him--especially waiting with your friends and family--can be really hard, can't it?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Does Your State Have a Virtual Library?

Did you know that most states have a library chock full of fascinating resources that their citizens can access online, free of charge?

Here in Georgia, our virtual library is called GALILEO, and though I might be a little bit prejudiced, I think it's fabulous. Georgia residents get a password from their public library, and then they can log into hundreds of resources: full-text articles from journals, magazines, and newspapers; digital displays from state archives; government documents; reproductions of historic diaries and newspapers; online encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference books.

GALILEO even provides a number of databases--plus the Digital Library of Georgia--that guests can use.

Most states today have some kind of online, virtual library for their citizens. I'm trying to search them all out for you and provide a listing of links on my research wiki: Facts for Fiction. I'm finding that the resources as well as the policies for accessing them vary widely from state to state. So you'll just have to check out the ones that interest you and see what they have.

Here are the states I have so far:

Alabama (AVL)
Alaska State Library
Colorado (CVL)
Connecticut (iCONN)
Delaware (DelAWARE)
Georgia (GALILEO)
Georgia (Digital Library of Georgia)

I will keep adding states to the list, and I'll keep you (and Facts for Fiction) updated.

If you have information to add about your state, please let me know.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Announcing prize giveaway for subscribing and posting!

Okay, I've started a blog. Now (scary as this sounds) I need people to read it!

Obviously I need to provide some incentive. So here goes.

All you folks who subscribe to this blog by April 30 will be entered into a drawing for a $50.00 gift certificate for Just go to the FeedBlitz link on the right hand side and enter your email address in the box. (Click the box under it to submit.) If you subscribed before I made this announcement (all three of you! ha!), don't worry. You will be included.

Second, I don't want this blog to be all about me. I want it to celebrate all of us who write, who follow a dream, who persevere. I want you to tell your stories and your thoughts here, too.

So here's the second contest. Everyone who posts a comment on the blog by April 30 will be entered for a second drawing for a $50.00 gift certificate. Alternately, if you'd just like to send me your story of a time you had to persevere, I will consider posting it as a guest blog. And you'll certainly get entered into the drawing for all that effort!

Okay, so there's two drawings--one for subscribers, one for posters. You can be entered into both. However, if you win the first one, you won't be eligible to win the second one. Does that make sense?

(If not, you could post here that you're totally confused--and get yourself entered in the contest!) :)

If you want to contact me privately about any of this, my email link is over on the right-hand side, too.

Thanks for your help! I'm looking forward to getting to know more of my fellow monarchs.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hannah Had None

Immediately after setting up this blog, I started to be pricked with guilt. I talked with a couple of friends who are going through difficult financial times. Want to talk about serious waiting! Several of my friends have lost jobs over the past two or three years due to economic downturns, and they're still trying to get their lives back on track. Trying to find a job. Trying to sell their homes to make ends meet. So who am I to talk about waiting?

In my usual dramatic way, those thoughts led to others. What about folks like Joni Eareckson Tada? She's been paralyzed the major part of her life, and I've heard her talk with such spirit and cheer about the day she'll reach Heaven and her body will be set free to run and swim. That's waiting!

But then I remembered the story of Hannah in the Bible--1 Samuel 1, to be exact. A man named Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Penninah. The Bible tells us that Penninah had children, while "Hannah had none" (verse 2, NIV).

It sounds as though, in all other ways, Hannah had it made. Her husband adored her. The family seems to have been well off financially. When Elkanah passed out allowances to his wives, he gave Hannah a double portion. Yes, Penninah was pretty vile to her, so that Hannah wept and longed for children. But we could read this story with a high and moral tone and say, "Hannah should have been grateful for all the blessings she had, instead of wanting more." Elkanah said as much himself. "Why are you downhearted? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?" (v. 8) We could say that Hannah only wanted children to shut up her rival, Penninah.

But God didn't see it that way. Hannah prayed and sacrificed. In fact, she prayed so hard that Eli, the priest, thought she was drunk! Unlike Abraham's wife before her, she didn't grow tired of waiting on the Lord and try to take matters into her own hands. She longed for a child to dedicate to God's service.

When she explained to Eli why she was praying so desperately, he told her to go in peace, and "may the God of Israel grant what you ask of Him" (v. 17). The Scriptures tell us that, not long after, God "remembered her" and gave her a child. He wasn't displeased that she wanted more. He fulfilled her dream.

Hannah, in turn, remembered God. She dedicated her child to the Lord's service, and in fact turned him over to Eli the priest to raise. And who was this child? The great prophet, Samuel.

I can't help but think that, even though God caused Hannah to wait for His timing, her dream--her future child--was a part of His plan all along. That's why Hannah just couldn't let the dream go.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

How Do I Dare?

How do I dare crown myself "queen"? Well, if there's one thing God has tried to teach me in life, it's how to wait. I started dating embarrassingly late. I was thirty-one when I married. (And you were worth every minute of the wait, honey!) Having a baby? Still waiting on that one, thirteen years after deciding to start a family.

And then there's my writing career. I knew I wanted to be a novelist when I was seven. When I was eighteen, I sent away my first novel manuscript. Now here I am, still on that elusive road to publication thirty years later. (Yes, you can do the math. I don't mind.)

After thirty years in this game, I have a lot to share--although frankly, sometimes I've been hesitant to do it. Will people be encouraged by my story--or run screaming in hysterics, thinking of the long, difficult road that might lie ahead? Will readers just dismiss me as a loser, thinking I obviously have no talent if I've been at it that long?

I hope you don't react either way. First of all, I played around a lot of those years, and was clueless for more than I care to mention. I've learned lessons that could help you cut time off your writing journey. And as I learned those lessons, I finaled in a contest, drew encouragement and support from two well-known authors, and signed with an agent!

God has also shown me so much about the process of waiting, itself. He's taught me that sometimes you hold on and keep working--and sometimes you let go. I know now I'll probably never have children. That was one of my dreams I had to relinquish.

Does that mean this site will be sad and whiney? Not at all! God has blessed me beyond belief, and I've discovered how well He knows me--what I'm ready for, and what I'm not. I'll share more about all that later.

Also, because I had to pay bills while pursuing this writing thing, I became a librarian. I teach research skills to college students and answer reference questions. Along the way, I've discovered tricks and resources that are perfect for novelists--beginning, multi-published, or whoever. I want to share those resources, too. So I hope you'll check here often. Or better yet, use the email button in the right-hand column to subscribe.

Why in the world did I choose this title?

"The Queen of Perseverance." What was I thinking? First of all, I can barely spell perseverance. I'll have to hope potential readers are better spellers than I am. Second, I keep wanting to say "Queen of Persistence." That phrase seems to roll off the tongue more easily and was my first thought. Won't it be great if I tell people the wrong title, and they can't even find my blog!

Yesterday, however, I was at (trying to spell persistence, actually), and that entry led me to perseverance. The second definition for that word from Unabridged is theological in nature: "continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation. "

Well, doesn't that say it all? Isn't that so much more important than any earthly goal I might have? More important than a writing career, or any frustrated dreams? This definition is perfect, the exact kind of perseverance I want to have. How could I call this blog anything else?

Now if I can just learn to spell it.