Friday, December 30, 2011

On your mark. Get set. GOAL!

With the New Year right around the corner, I know many of us, including moi, are setting goals for ourselves. Some are realistic and some are just plain fantasy. Just for fun, I decided to share 12 of my goals (along with the reality of them).

     1  Lose 50lbs.
         (Seriously, if I lose 10, I’ll be happy)

           2        Exercise.
           (Yeah, whatever…)

    3        Eat healthier
                (A must-do)

4        Write 4 books this year
      (I’m not as fast as I used to be, that’s for sure!)

5        Learn to use my Dragon voice-recognition software
      (I’m not as fast as I used to be…yada, yada…)

6        Buy a road-worthy vehicle
      (I’m sad that my son is moving to upper Michigan and yet I’m happy for him, getting his new job position as a pastor. Weather permitting, a lot of driving is in my husband and my future.)

7        Move South to avoid another Wisconsin winter
      (I say this every year!)

8        Convince my husband to drive me to the ACFW Conference in Dallas so I don’t have to fly the un-friendly skies.
      (Refer to #6)

9        Clean my office, organize, and simplify
      (I say this every other month!)

10    Sell some of my stuff on Craig’s List or Ebay.
      (Refer back to #9)

11    Hire a cleaning lady
      (Refer back to #9 and #10)

12    Earn a million dollars on my books so I can accomplish goals #1 thru #11
      (Stop laughing!) 

OK, so now that I've shared my resolutions with you, tell me about your New Year’s goals.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Family Christmas

Today has been one of the best in several years. We had our family Christmas today. Last year I was ill with pneumonia and couldn’t enjoy Christmas. On top of that, the relations among our three sons and their wives were tense and not conducive to a relaxing holiday. What a difference a year and a lot of “Mama prayers” can make.
All three sons were here with their families. Our oldest granddaughter drove down from Ft. Worth with her two little boys to be with us. My heart overflowed with the fun and joy of us all being together and everyone having so much fun. The tension from last year was totally absent and I felt great all day.
All three daughters-in-law pitched in with the food and helped get everything ready. One year ago they could barely be in the room together without someone’s feelings getting hurt. Our sons were the same way. Cousins were actually enjoying each other’s company and playing with each other this year.
God has been good to us in so many ways in 2011. Not only did our family reconcile and come together for the holiday, but they are also making plans for other activities together. Then God saw fit for me to sign contracts for more books, kept my lung disease under control, and gave me another year cancer free.
The theme of all my books is reconciliation and restoration through the forgiveness of our Savior and forgiving each other. I’ve seen first hand how important forgiveness can be among family members. A family restored is a joy to a mother’s heart and is sweet music to God’s ears.
Then when a soul is reconciled with God, the joy is even greater. This is what I want my readers to take away from my stories. No matter how bad one’s situation is, God can make it right when the person turns everything over to Him and seeks forgiveness for him or herself or is willing to forgive the hurt caused by someone else.

Above is a picture of my husband and me with our nine grandchildren and our two great-grandsons. What a blessing to all be together.

God is good to us despite hard times and difficult situations. What has God done in your life this past year that shows His love for you?

Friday, December 23, 2011

The War for Christmas

No, this post isn't about the culture war to "Remember the Reason for the Season" or to "Keep Christ in Christmas". I'll elaborate:

Christmastime is always a busy time for me--and not just with the usual holiday family stuff.

Being a writer is stressful, all-consuming, and exhaustive work. Add to that a 8-5 day job and a full-time family and it's downright overwhelming, bordering on unbearable. But every year I have my Christmas break. A whole two weeks off from work!

But it's not a vacation. Far from it.

In fact, it's work overload. At last I have time to get caught up on a year's worth of writing. No longer do I have to squeeze in a thousand words during my lunch break or stay up until two in the morning. I don't have to spend the three good hours I have with my daughters before bedtime sneaking off to finish "one more chapter". Now I've got a whole day to write, write, write.

But, as with nearly every year, I run into the annual "Christmas Wall". Meaning, I finally have all the time in the world...and absolutely nothing to say. The sad truth is I'm used to being cramped for time. I'm used to the late hours, the soda-fueled rampages, the run-run-run of my mental schedule. That's not to say that I like any of it--just that I've been conditioned for that. So, here I sit, with my whole day free to write, and I can't write.

Oh, I do write. Last year at this time I finished the rough draft of The Coming Evil, Book Three (due out in Feb 2013, btw). This year I'm cracking the whip trying to get some work done on a non-fiction media tie-in book I'm under contract for, and my next novel. It's slow going, but I am getting things done. But never as much as I'd like to. What's frustrating, is that I can write 10,000 words a day, when I'm really in the zone. Give me 8 days, and I could have a finished novel! Give me two weeks and I could be close to finishing two! Two whole novels! Nearly finished and ready for the publisher!

But it never works out like that. I'll be lucky if I write 20,000 words this Christmas break. More than likely as soon as I start back up to work, and get back to my terrible schedule, I'll crank out 40k :p

So what do I do, then? In the face of this paradox, how will I respond? Well, it usually starts with a fair amount of depression. I get mad, frustrated, and can almost literally hear those precious seconds ticking away, knowing that I'm "wasting" my holiday and not finishing three short stories, a novel, and a screenplay, or whatever. But, after some time, I usually snap out of it and realize that writing is not all there is to life. That Christmas comes once a year and it's to be spent with family, enjoying that time together. It's about doing something for someone else. About being better.

Writing is a horribly selfish profession. It really is. It's all about expressing your thoughts and dreams and putting them on display for others to applaud you. Yeah, we want our words to mean something. We write because God's given us this ability (or compulsion) and we want to do something with it that honors Him. But maybe God just delights in the fact that we write at all. Maybe He doesn't care if anyone reads it, or if it's our witty quotes that people are posting on Facebook :p But we want that.

But Christmas is not about self. It's about Christ (at least as Christians celebrate it). It's about family. It's about reaching out to those less fortunate than ourselves.

So, to me--as a writer--that's the War for Christmas. It's a struggle between selfishly hoarding my time off to spend on my pursuits (that probably don't really amount to a hill of beans in the long run), and spending it investing in others, especially my wife. My kids. And it is a war, don't let anyone tell you any different. It's a war of the will, which is sometimes the hardest to fight.

I hope I win the war this year. I've still got a week and a half of vacation, and I'm sure I'll be struggling to the bitter end, but I hope that I don't miss Christmas this year. I hope I see it, experience it, for all that it is and that it can be. I hope you do too. I hope you don't let the busyness distract you from what's most important. And not just this season, but throughout your life. Don't be so blinded in pursuing your dreams that you miss the wonderful reality already in front of you. Fight that war. Win the war. Keep Christmas alive, all year round.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Grown Up Christmas "Wish" List

To say my wishes came true in 2011 is a gross understatement. After struggling for 12 years to see my book “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye” get published, Realms released that book on October 4, 2011 and I am SO grateful for a publisher willing to take risks; to think outside the box; to give me an opportunity to tell the story of my Savior and the spiritual warfare in which we are in the midst of.
One song I always hear this time of year is “My Grown Up Christmas Wish”. I decided to make out a “grown up Christmas wish” list. After all, the best Christmas present for 2011 was seeing my book in print; seeing my wish come true. So, why not put some wishes to paper and, who knows, they might come true for 2012. My list was rather lengthy so I only included a few and the rest can be found on my blog post on my website, But, here are the top “wishes” and feel free in your comments to add your own!
I wish “they” would let Christmas be about Christmas. It belongs to those who celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ! That is why it is called CHRISTmas!
I wish marriage was an institution worth fighting for; worth dying for; worth working for again.
I wish we really cared about making the world a better place and not a bitter place.
I wish being in love was less about “me” and more about “you”.
I wish we would stop saying “it is what it is”. No! It is what what we make of it. One person can change the world!
I wish I could still pick up a hitchhiker and not fear for my life.
I wish Superman still stood for “Truth, Justice, and the American Way”. Heck, I wish the American “Way” still included Truth and Justice!
I wish there was room in our inns for the baby in a manger.
I wish that what is “true” for me was “true” for everyone.
I wish young people were encouraged to have ambition and not just pass standardized tests.
I wish Tom Hanks was funny again.
I wish Jimmy Stewart was still alive.
I wish I could climb a tree, not have to save it.
I wish children could still have a childhood.
I wish people would look me in the eye when they talk to me.
I wish I had a Hobbit hole.
I wish customer service meant serving the needs of the customer.
I wish I was LOST again!
I wish flying was fun again.
I wish we had a space program.
I wish modern singers stayed on key.
I wish art made sense and didn’t involve body fluids.
I wish “tolerant” people were more tolerant of “intolerant” Christians.
I wish Disney still made animated classics.
I wish people searching for truth realized He has already been here and can still be found.
I wish the buck at least stopped somewhere.
I wish “smart” phones were only used by “smart” people.
I wish, just once, someone would keep a promise.
I wish movies and books had happy endings. Just a few. Every now and then. Especially when I pay for them.
I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 19, 2011

My Christmas Gift to You

After God told me to become a professional writer in 1984, He then told me to bless people at Christmas with a story. Here's the one from 1989. This was the year one of our daughters told us she was with child and not married. I wrote this from a mother's heart.

Surely a Gift From God
Lena Nelson Dooley

Yahweh, I do not know why it is so hard to understand your ways. Eli has studied the scriptures and shared with me the many wonders about you in them. We have tried to live by all your laws . . . but there is so much I cannot understand . . . especially about Mary.

Mary, the joy of my heart. When you blessed our marriage with her, my mother’s heart nearly burst. Even as a tiny baby, she was different . . . so pretty everyone mentioned it. Of course I was proud of her. Hadn’t she come from the great love Eli and I have for one another? Everything I did for her was such a pleasure . . . and she rewarded me with her sweet smiles. She would gurgle with laughter at the slightest attention. Yes, the whole family enjoyed caring for Mary.

A more obedient child I have never known. She thrived on pleasing Eli and me . . . and so smart she was. So young when she could sew a fine straight seam. And no one surpassed her cooking after she learned. I preferred her bread even over my own. I knew she would not be mine very long.

Oh yes, I saw Joseph looking at her. At first, he was amused by her. Then a light began to show in his eyes when he looked at her. He thought no one noticed, but a mother sees. I knew he was waiting for her to grow up.

I hoped she would be one of the girls who takes a little longer becoming a woman . . . so young she was when the bloom of life touched her. I hoped no one would know for a while, but I saw the startled look in Joseph’s eyes when next he saw her.

Very soon Eli told me Joseph had spoken to him about Mary. I was not sorry it was Joseph. Such a good carpenter. He would be able to provide for Mary and their children as Eli had always provided for us. I had wondered why Joseph had not married sooner. He had been established for several years. I think I had known a long time that he was waiting for Mary to grow up, but I did not want it to be so soon.

Their betrothal was such a special time. Mary was busy sewing fine linens for their home and clothing for herself as Joseph built furniture for them. Mary shared their plans with me. After all, I am her mother. Joyfully, I helped her.

I cannot pinpoint the exact time I knew something was different about Mary, but I knew long before she talked to her father and me. I could see the change in her, but could not explain it. I even thought I was imagining it.

The day she talked to Eli and me was a very busy day. She called each of us from an important task. As she began to talk, I knew by her second sentence that she was going to have a child. You remember, Yahweh, I prayed in my heart, “Oh Yahweh, no, anything but that, please. It would break her father’s heart. She has been the apple of his eye.”

Her story was hard to believe. We knew that the scriptures told of visitations from angels, but that was long ago. We did not know anyone who had seen one.

It would have been easier to believe that Joseph could not wait to have her. I know how strongly a man desires a woman. He had waited so long for her to grow up. It has happened before . . . but when she told Joseph, he was so upset. I knew the baby was not his. Maybe her story is true.

I was so hurt buy the talk after she returned from visiting Elizabeth. Other mother had been jealous of Mary for years. She was so much prettier than their daughters, and she did things so well. The story of a visitation from an angel to explain a baby coming too soon was convenient. No one believed it for a minute. I dreaded going to market or to the well. I could hear the whispering that stopped as soon as they saw me. No one would say anything to my face. My heart broke for my sweet Mary . . . and for my pain as her mother.

Then when the child came, I was not even with her. She and Joseph were in Bethlehem. I told her not to go. She could have stayed with us while Joseph went to register in the census, but she would not be parted from him. I even told him the journey would be hard on her and the baby, but would they listen to a mother?

When they decided to stay in Bethlehem, I could not stand it. At least Eli agreed to let me accompany him on this business trip. I had to see my grandchild.

Now, Yahweh, I am holding this tiny baby boy. I still do not know if Mary’s story is true. He looks enough like Joseph to be his son. Yet there is something about him. Not just because he is my grandchild. Surely he is a gift from you.

Of course, every child is a gift from you. Maybe he is something more. Right now only you and Mary know for sure.

As for me, I am going to love him, and tell him how special he is. The rest is up to you.
© Copyright 1989 Lena Nelson Dooley

Friday, December 16, 2011

Improve Your Writing RIGHT NOW

Question: What’s one thing I can do to improve my writing right now?

Answer: Be honest.

Writing—good writing, anyway—is not about sugar-coating life and popularity ratings. It’s more about stripping away the façade we all put up, the mask we all wear, and tackling life as we live it.

Let’s face it, there’s enough dishonesty in the world already. Half-truths, white lies, withheld information, flattery, scandals, hypocrisy, betrayal. Everyday we’re smacked with it, confronted with the fact that people are not who they say they are, circumstances are rarely what they appear to be.

Writing gives us a chance to reverse that trend and show the world (or at least your friends and family) who we really are.

Here are two areas to start with:

First, be honest with yourself. Careful now, this one’s not as easy as it may seem. It’s easy and often too convenient to lie to ourselves, to convince ourselves that we are someone else, that everything is okay, to ignore the yearnings of our heart and crying of our soul. But if we can’t be honest with ourselves we’ll never be honest period. And our writing will suffer tremendously and come off as superficial and concocted.

Want to add authenticity to your writing? Search your soul, dig into those hidden recesses of your heart and mind and find the real you, the you that wrestles with your past, is disappointed in your failures, struggles with the brutality of life.

Second, be honest with your readers. Don’t give them what they want to hear, don’t cater to norms or expectations. Now is the time to pour onto the page those emotions you drudged up when you were being honest with yourself. Chances are, you’ll find you’re not alone, that there are others out there dealing with the same issues, hurting from the same wounds, celebrating the same victories.

As always, writing is a reflection of the bigger picture and honesty works not just on the page but in the person. We could all benefit from a little more transparency, a little more vulnerability, a little more honesty.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tis The Season

I just love this time of year! One of the reasons is watching and reading old Christmas movies and books. I am very into traditions, so even though my ‘kids’ are now eighteen and twenty, they fully expect to watch each and every one of our favorite Christmas classics. Although the selection has changed through the years as they’ve gotten older, there is still a handful they know we will watch no matter what the age.

Here are a few you may not have heard of or forgot about: The Bishop’s Wife starring Cary Grant, an angel who helps the bishop’s wife raise money for their church. Another is A Midnight Clear staring Gary Sinise about an American reconnaissance unit sent out on a reckless mission on Christmas. The story is even more meaningful with the thought of our troops overseas. Some of the oldies we like are Holiday Inn starring Fred Astaire. Another oldie but goodie is White Christmas Staring Bing Crosby.

The movies and books my kids grew up with are becoming outdated with new stories, but we stick to our regulars such as, Charlie Brown is my daughter’s favorite and Elf is my son’s. A Christmas Story is my dad’s first choice, reminding him of a time when he was a boy. My husband counts Die Hard and Trading Places as Christmas movies but I beg-to-differ. My two favorites are It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol staring Alistair Sim, as they echo the reason for the season. I like to watch them both in black and white although I have the color versions. It feels more real to see movies set back in the day to be the color they were originally. There is no better Scrooge than Alistair and who can top Jimmy?

The book How the Grinch stole Christmas is an all time fav. The Night Before Christmas is one I still like but my teens lost interest awhile ago. I’ll have to wait for grandchildren to read that one again. Some count The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe as a Christmas story and I am one of them, only because I liked the book so much:) I went to The Nutcracker play which is popular on stage this time of year but wasn’t crazy about it, and have never wanted to read the book. The Polar Express was popular but it didn’t grab me either. The Greatest Story Ever Told was a book that I started but haven’t finished. Maybe this Christmas?

It’s fun to find out people’s likes and dislikes and maybe something new! So…what are your favorites?

Have a blessed Christmas everyone!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ten of My Favorite Blog Posts from 2011 Merry Christmas!

The Myth of the Lone Ranger Author Rachelle Gardner's Blog who just happens to be my very awesome agent. :)

How I do It: Live Intentionally But With Breathing Space  My agency mate, Jody Hedlund.

The Difference Between Trying and Doing  Michael Hyatt shares the wisdom of Yoda.

Silencing Your Inner Critic  Kathryn Lilley at The Killzone.

From Romance to Corpses  by Tess Gerritsen.

A Kiss Is Just A Kiss  by the awesome Julie Lessman. Okay I cheated. This blog post is from 2010, BUT heard Julie and Ruth Axtell Morren present it at The ACFW Conference in St. Louis this year.

Stuck in a Corner Martha Carr, agency mate, talks about writers block at The WordServe Water Cooler.

No Fear, No Envy, No Meanness by a mentor who knows how to make writing fun, the amazing James Scott Bell.

The Adjustable Publishing Dream  by friend and agency mate Rosslyn Elliott.

The Fine Art of Choosing a Pen Name  by moi. :) I thought this was probably the best post I wrote this year and because of it's nature wanted to share it with you here.

Well that's ten of my favorites. I didn't choose any of my worthy blog mates here at Just the Write Charisma because I didn't want to have to choose. That would be way too hard. It's been an awesome year and I look forward to sharing with you all and our visitors in 2012.

Now, what's one of your favorite blog posts from this year? Either one that you wrote or read elsewhere. Share the link please. And I hope that everyone out there lurking will join in on the fun. Come on, no need to be shy here.

A very, very, Merry Christmas and A Happy, Healthy New Year.


Monday, December 5, 2011

What Makes the Perfect Christmas Gift?

Why, books do, of course!

I know I may be jumping the gun, so to speak. But I'll tell you why: I’m extremely excited about my new novel, Threads of Hope. It’s book 1 in my Fabric of Time series and it’ll be released next month. For a pre-celebration of my book, I’m giving readers a little taste of what they can expect.

First, just look what a few endorsers had to say about it.

Andrea Boeshaar plucks the home strings with her newest
historical romance. Not only does she tell a ripping good tale
about émigrés from Norway in early settlement times, she
also draws from her own family history. As a Wisconsin historian,
I am well pleased with her efforts to make life at the
dawn of our state authentic. A worthy addition to Ms. Boeshaar’s
delightful body of work.

—Lisa Lickel
Award-Winning Author of A Summer in Oakville

Andrea Boeshaar’s story pulled me back into the middle
1800s. Her knowledge of the history of the times and her
strong, three-dimensional characters kept me in the story.
The feuding reminded me of Romeo and Juliet, but with an
ending I liked much better. Human frailties were dealt with
head-on with wisdom winning in the end. An excellent read
that I didn’t want to put down until the last page.

Lena Nelson Dooley
Author of Maggie’s Journey, Book One of the McKenna’s
Daughters Series, and the Will Rogers Medallion Award–
Winning Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico

Threads of Hope is a beautifully tender story of the way God
works in the lives of His own to teach lessons of forgiveness
and love. Andrea’s talent at weaving genuine characters,
vivid descriptions, and a compelling story line together drew
me into the story from the first page, and I felt Kristin’s and
Sam’s heartaches and joy. It touched my heart, and I highly
recommend this book.

—Sally Laity
Author of Remnant of Forgiveness
and Coauthor of Rose’s Pledge

And now I’d like to present a few sample pages of Threads of Hope.

Uncle Lars steered the wagon around a sharp bend in the
rutty road. He drove to the top of a small hill, and Kristin
could see the blue Lake Michigan to her left and farm fields to
her right.

Then a lovely white wood-framed house came into view. It
didn’t look all that different from the home they’d just past,
with dormers, a covered front porch, and stately pillars bearing
the load of a wide overhang. She marveled at the homestead’s
large, well-maintained barn and several outbuildings. American
homes looked like this? Then no wonder Mr. Olstad couldn’t
wait to own his own farm!

Up ahead Kristin spied a lone figure of a man. She could
just barely make out his faded blue cambric shirt, tan trousers,
and the hoe in his hands as he worked the edge of the field.
Closer still, she saw his light brown hair springing out from
beneath his hat. As the wagon rolled past him, the man ceased
his labor and turned their way. Although she couldn’t see his
eyes as he squinted into the sunshine, Kristin did catch sight of
his tanned face. She guessed his age to be not too much more
than hers and decided he was really quite handsome.

“Do not even acknowledge the likes of him,” Uncle Lars
spat derisively. “Good Christians do not associate with Sam
Sundberg or any members of his family.”

Oh, dear, too late! Kristin had already given him a little
smile out of sheer politeness. She had assumed he was a friend
or neighbor. But at her uncle’s warning she quickly lowered her

Kristin’s ever-inquiring nature got the best of her. “What is
so bad about that family?”

“They are evil—like the Martins. Even worse, Karl Sundberg
is married to a heathen Indian woman who casts spells on the
good people of this community.”

“Spells?” Peder’s eyes widened.

Ja, spells. Why else would some folks’ crops fail while Karl’s
flourish? He gets richer and richer with his farming in the
summer, his logging camps in the winter, and his fur trading
with heathens, while good folks like me fall on hard times.”

“Hard times?” Peder echoed the words.

Ja, same seed. Same fertile ground. Same golden opportunity.”
Uncle Lars swiveled to face the Olstads. “I will tell you
why that happens. The Sundbergs have hexed good Christians
like me.” He wagged his head. “Oh, they are an evil lot, those
Sundbergs and Martins. Same as the Indians.”

Indians? Curiosity got the better of her, and Kristin swung
around in the wagon to get one last glimpse of Sam Sundberg.
She could hardly believe he was as awful as her uncle described.
Why, he even removed his hat just now and gave her a cordial nod.

“Turn around, niese, and mind your manners!” Uncle Lars’s
large hand gripped her upper arm and he gave her a mild shake.

“I . . . I am sorry, Onkel,” Kristin stammered. “But I have never
seen an Indian.”

“Sam Sundberg is not an Indian. It is his father’s second wife
and their children. Oneida half-breeds is what we call them.”

“Half-breed, eh?”

Kristin glanced over her shoulder and saw Peder stroke his

“Interesting,” he added.

“How very interesting.” Kristin couldn’t deny her interest
was piqued. “Are there many Indians living in the Wisconsin

Ja, they trespass on my land, but I show my gun and they
leave without incident. Sundberg brings his Indian wife to
church.” He wagged his head. “Such a disgrace.”

“And the Territory officials do nothing?” Mr. Olstad asked.

Uncle Lars puffed out his chest. “As of three months ago, we
are the State of Wisconsin—no longer a territory.” Uncle Lars
stated the latter with as much enthusiasm as a stern schoolmaster.

“Now the government will get rid of those savages once
and for all.” He sent Kristin a scowl. “And you, my liten niese,
will do well to stay away from Indians. All of them, including
our neighbors, the Sundbergs. You hear, lest you get yourself

Ja, Onkel.”

*     *     *
Threads of Hope is available for pre-order at CLICK HERE for details. In the meantime, all 4 books in my series called, Seasons of Redemption are available now in both traditional print and e-book formats. CLICK HERE for more info.

Remember: Books make great Christmas gifts! Have a safe and merry Christmas, everyone!