Monday, January 30, 2012

A Writer's Pains and Gains: A Birthday Perspective

Earlier this month I had a birthday on January 11th. I'm 57 years into my journey. I’ve been taking time to look back like so many of us do at the beginning of a New Year and then looking forward with excited anticipation to 2012. I've learned a lot! I went through a bunch of blog posts I’ve done since 2009 when I was just learning to blog. Some of them are hysterical. But the important thing is that I learned to blog. Creating blogs and all the rest that comes with such things is no easy task. I’m proud of this achievement because I never considered myself technologically savvy. I"m getting better.

I found an editor, Debbie Marrie, at Charisma Media/Realms who loved my book and shared it with others in the company and asked me if I wanted to sell my series at a time when they weren’t even looking for Regency era novels.  I SOLD MY SERIES! I sold it by myself and then I GOT AN AGENT! I’m following Rachelle Gardner to Books and Such and am very excited about what this year might bring. So if you are reading this and wondering if you'll ever get published just remember that it's still possible no matter what you hear.
In the past twenty-two years I’ve attended at least two Romance Writers of America Conferences, multiple American Christian Fiction Writers Conferences, one Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference, and two Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conferences. Along with these conferences I’ve attended a zillion local writers meetings.

I’ve been in a critique group, I’ve received help, given help, and I’ve improved my writing craft more than I thought possible and still have so far to grow. I’ve entered more contests than I could count and I’ve judged a few too. I discovered that I’m stronger than I thought I was.

I’ve learned to depend on God. I’ve prayed along with my husband until we had holes in the knees of our blue jeans for our oldest child who has struggled with severe depression and anxiety for the last eleven years, and for her sister who didn’t get enough attention during that time period. She still found her way through our family’s difficulties and instead of going to college when she graduated high school eighteen months ago she travels the world with, Youth With A Mission, serving others.

I’ve had the honor and privilege of making many new friends since I decided to write; some of you here, some from ACFW, some from RWA,some of you I've never met in person but I can always find you on-line, on Face Book, on Twitter.  What you've given me is so much more than I could ever give back and I’m so grateful for all of you who have helped me and prayed with me and for me and for my family.

So as I’ve said in the past to those who have been discouraged, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. You must not believe them. You must try.

What is an obstacle you've faced during your life time that you

Friday, January 27, 2012

Relationships in a Fishbowl

Maybe there’s no such thing as good characters—just good relationships. Seriously, we talk all the time about the importance of good characters, but who really cares? You can have a great “character”, but put them in the middle of a desert with no one to talk to, and what have you got? Not much. Even Tom Hanks had ‘Wilson’, the lovably silent volleyball with a drawn-on face in the film Castaway. The duo even got an MTV nomination for ‘Best On-Screen Chemistry’. Even when a character is all alone, the way they interact with their environment is a relationship on some level. So, maybe we’ve got it a little backwards.

As writers we often talk about creating characters and what that means. We then work very hard to create characters that are interesting, and then we throw them at other characters to see what happens. Truthfully, nobody cares anywhere near as much if the character is interesting if the interactions are dull.

The other day was my mother’s birthday (she turned 30-something, I’m certain of it J (love you, mom)), and that evening she wanted to watch one of her favorite shows: Downton Abbey. Not my thing, but it was my mom’s birthday, so I watched it with her. Being a story person, I analyzed the show very closely, and what I realized was that I was watching Star Wars. Just another melodrama, not necessarily with familiar characters, but familiar relationships. The characters who love one another despite the odds (friendship, romance or family), the characters who hate one another despite the reasons not to, and the characters who hate despite the fact that they are not themselves hated in return. Suddenly, there is drama, and story. The marriage between plot and character, so often seen as disparate elements.

I went home with these thoughts in my head and proceeded to do the unthinkable: I pulled up Netflix on my laptop and started watching the pilot episode to Grey’s Anatomy. I watched purely for the relationships; and by yesterday evening I had watched the first six episodes with only minor shame.

We like to give our characters back story for the sake of itself; but what’s the point? So we can have a character with a back story? As a reader/viewer I only care about the back story if it explains the relationships—and it’s something I don’t mind learning over time. Like the jerk on Grey’s Anatomy who is antagonistic to everyone, whom everyone hates, until it is slowly revealed his father was a heroine addict and his home life was a mess. Suddenly the character has depth, and the relationships become more meaningful. But it wasn’t the back story that brought me in, it was the relationships made real by the back story.

So, as I continue to write, I find myself asking two major questions: are the relationships interesting? And what fish bowl have I thrown my characters into, thus forcing them to interact? If the answers to both of these questions is interesting, then I think I’ve got what it takes to write something that resonates. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Book Give-way Contest!

From now until Sunday I'm running a book give-away contest on my personal blog Everything Writerly. Below are the specifics.
Announcing my first book give-away in conjunction with my brand new historical romance release, Threads of Hope. It's easy to enter, just leave me a comment below, completing the following sentences:

My favorite time of day to read a good book is ______________. The reason is__________________.

Fill in the blanks. You can enter as many times as you want to.

On Sunday afternoon, January 29th, I will randomly select TWO winners from the list of comments below. In addition to receiving a free copy of my book, Threads of Hope, winners will receive a special surprise gift, designed to enhance their reading experience.

So let me know about your reading habits and you could be the winner of a signed copy of Threads of Hope along with a surprise gift.       

Good luck, everyone!

BE SURE TO LEAVE ON COMMENT ON EVERYTHING WRITERLY. Comments left on this blog won't be entered into the drawing. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Discipleship, Evangelism, and the Aim of Christian Fiction

There is, without question, different views as to the aim of Christian fiction. On one side are those who believe Christian fiction should target Christians -- encourage them, inspire them, reinforce their values, and ultimately make them better believers. On the other side are those who believe Christian fiction should target seekers -- whet their spiritual appetite, disarm antagonism, simplify biblical themes, reinforce a biblical worldview, and leave them thinking about God, Christ, sin, and/or heaven and hell. Finally, there's those who believe that Christian fiction should do both.

Call it hair-splitting if you want, but how one answers these questions will determine how they approach, interpret, defend or critique the genre.

  • Should Christian fiction aim to disciple believers?
  • Should Christian fiction aim to evangelize seekers?
  • Should Christian fiction aim to do both?

For the most part, writers and publishers of Christian fiction aim at the Church, not the world
. Not long ago, celebrated Christian novelist Athol Dickson dropped by my website and left a comment on this post. He articulated what I think is the prevalent opinion amongst Christian novelists:
May God bless every Christian author who is trying to reach out to unbelievers, but while we are commanded to be "salt and light" to the world, evangelism also includes those who help prepare disciples. I do try to get the gospel in my novels somehow (sometimes only symbolically) but my mission is to write about Christian themes for Christian readers in the hope that I can help them become better children of the Lord. That’s the best reason to write “Christian fiction” in my opinion. (emphasis mine)
(My thanks to Athol Dickson for taking the time to leave a comment, which you can read in its entirety in the thread HERE.)

I think it's accurate, as Athol suggests, to see evangelism and discipleship on the same continuum. By growing Christians and helping them reach their full potential, we in turn influence the world. In other words, the best evangelism may be in making strong disciples. So in this sense, there's reasonable rationale for aiming fiction specifically at Christians. (Of course, this hinges upon the notion that Christian fiction is, in the long run, actually making better disciples. But that's another post.)

But if Christian fiction is best understood as a ministry to believers and best functions as a tool for discipleship, it raises other questions, namely: the place of evangelism in Christian fiction. Should Christian publishers actively seek to balance out fiction aimed at believers with fiction aimed at seekers? Should Christian novelists really approach their stories as evangelistic tools? And if so, what compromises must they make to reach the secular "seeking" audience?

Interestingly enough, defining the place of evangelism and discipleship in Christian publishing has parallels to the place of evangelism and discipleship in the Christian Church.

Having pastored for 11 years, I learned that evangelism and discipleship were both necessary components of the church, and that the church suffered when one was emphasized over the other. Churches that focus on seekers and aim primarily to evangelize, potentially become theologically shallow and deficient at discipleship. On the other hand, churches that focus on Christians and aim primarily to disciple them, potentially become ingrown and deficient at evangelism. Evangelistic churches tend to be wider than they are deeper; discipling churches tend to be deeper than they are wider. One model sacrifices outreach for in-reach, and vice-versa. This is why the Church is often described as needing two wings -- a discipling wing and an evangelism wing. Without both, we cannot fly.

So you can see where I'm going with this. If the Christian Church suffers when it does not balance evangelism and discipleship, does the Christian fiction industry suffer when it neglects the same balance? In other words, by aiming primarily at believers, are we ultimately hurting ourselves? I think there's a good possibility. Let me explain.

Without an evangelistic outreach wing to the Christian fiction industry, we diminish our potential (and future) market. By targeting only Christian readers, we unnecessarily limit the boundaries of our own house, shrink our base, and fail to "impregnate" a second generation of "believing readers." Similarly, churches that concentrate on nurturing the community of believers (discipleship) to the exclusion of evangelism often become ingrown, stagnant, and out-of-touch with the culture and the needs of their community. Statistics continue to reveal that many mainline denominations are in serious decline because of this. The holy huddle guaranteed their own demise. For years, seminaries concentrated on producing students with theological expertise. Thankfully, now many of those institutions are including missions and real-world encounters as part of their curricula. In other words, failure to look outside of ourselves can be terminal. Can the same be true for the Christian fiction industry?

Furthermore, without an outreach wing of Christian fiction, we potentially insulate ourselves against the audience who needs us the most. Really, are we here just for us? Of course, the problem in reaching a non-believing or marginally-believing audience -- as it is with seeker-sensitive churches -- is how much we soften and/or simplify our message to connect with them. It's a legitimate question. In fact, this is the charge against so much "Christian worldview fiction" -- it's just not explicit enough. Yet I'd suggest these kinds of questions are inevitable, and essential. After all, when the first century church began spreading the Gospel, numerous "cultural collisions" occurred. Debates about eating pork, circumcision, slavery, meat sacrificed to idols, the role of women, cultural attachment, and interaction with heathens, were fairly common. Likewise, crafting fiction for seekers will provoke numerous theological questions. As it should.

All this to say, I sense there is a fundamental confusion among Christian authors as to the exact aim of Christian fiction. Is it evangelism, discipleship, or both? But at this stage, I'd have to suggest we're flying on one wing.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

What's Your Excuse?

We make so many excuses for not submitting our writing. I don’t have enough time. I have too many other obligations. I’m too young. I’m too old. I’ve got too many rejections. I don’t have an agent. Any sound familiar? If I had used the excuse of age, I would never have been published. My agent believed in me and kept submitting my manuscripts. When I wanted to quit, friends encouraged me to keep on.

When God calls us to a task, He expects us to finish it. If we’re obedient to that call, He will give us what we need to complete it because He who began the work in us will carry through until it’s completed. Galatians 6:9 tells us not to grow weary when we’re doing God’s work because we’ll reap a harvest when God sets the time.

At one time I asked God if He’d forgotten how old I was getting and how time passed by. Of course He knows how old I am and how long I have on this earth. I just wished He’d let me in on His plans. With so many younger authors getting contracts and having success, I began to think it would never happen to me, but I persevered, not ready to give up.
Well, God doesn’t forget. He doesn’t sleep. He never quits work. He’s always there willing to help us reach our goals when we call on Him for help. The Lord does expect us to do our part. That part is to put ourselves in that chair and write and submit them.

Whether you first contract comes at age twenty-three or seventy-three, God’s timing is always perfect. He’ll never let us down. The answer may not always be what we hoped and prayed for, but His answer is the best for us at that time. It always is.

I’ll be 76 this summer and by that time I will have 9 novels and 2 novellas published with another novel due out in the fall and 3 new ones plus an e-book and a novella contracted. Novels number seven and eight were released this month.

When God opened the door for me, He kicked it wide open. Prayer, perseverance and patience reaped the harvest at the time God ordained. Do whatever it takes to write. Quit making excuses. If you’re serious, God will help you find the time, face rejection, find an agent, or create the stories. At other times He may tell you to wait a season and take care of other things first. Listen to His voice and calling. Write as much as you can when you can. Be patient, and pray for His guidance in all that you do. Jeremiah tells you to call on Him, and He will answer and tell you great things you do not know. Jeremiah also tells us that God has great plans for us, plans to give us hope and a future. So press on to what God has called you to do whether it is to wait for a season to begin or whether it is to work hard now. Pressing on will lead you where you need to go.

So what excuses have you used to keep from submitting?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My New Year's Resolution...for 2013

I've never been much for New Year's Resolutions because I don't generally need such an occasion to give me a motivational push. Especially when it comes to my writing. I've got enough goals and plans created to meet those goals that New Year's comes and go as just any other day.

But, in preparation for 2012, I looked out across the New Year with one definite goal in mind.

By 2013, I'd like to take it easy. Or, at least, easier.

For the last few years, I've taken on more and more writing projects. To say that I'm burning my candle on both ends is close to the truth, if you added three more wicks all along the length of the candle and torched those as well. I've got at least five different projects that are all in various stages of completion and I'd like to finish those in 2012. That's my hope. I'd like to meet 2013 with a blank slate, all my projects complete and ample time to relax. Perhaps that's a strange resolution to make when--to the rest of the world--my writing career is just starting. But I've been at this for awhile and I'd like to learn this thing called "pacing". I'd like to see myself limit the number of projects I take on and only work on the ones that really get me excited. I'd like to take more time to take long drives in the country, watch really cheesy monster movies, and get some reading done. I can't remember the last time I truly stopped and watched the sun set. I miss that.

It's not a retirement, just a better management of time. If all goes according to schedule, by February of 2013, my epic The Coming Evil Trilogy will be in stores in its entirety. That's a major accomplishment that's eaten up my entire adult life. I think I'd like to take a second to enjoy that. To reflect.

In our world--especially in the entertainment industry--it's all about "your next project". The past is quickly forgotten and the future is always in our sights. I've played that game for a long time, and I think that, while my children are still little, I'd like to slow down a bit and smell the roses awhile. God has been incredibly faithful and gracious to me and I'd like to take time to appreciate that a little more.

But in 2013. For 2012, it's work, work, work :p

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dream Goals for 2012

Dream Goals
It’s a new year and I love starting it out with “blue sky” thinking. If the sky were the limit, what kind of goals would I choose? What would be my “dream” goals? Here are a few:
1 -- Rent a bungalow over the ocean on the island of Bora Bora, take my laptop, and spend three weeks writing my next novel in the most relaxing, peaceful place in the universe!
Real Goal
Find a cheap condo for a week in Gulf Shores or Perdido Key on the beach in March and spend a writing week working on my next manuscript, the fourth book in the Chronicles of Jonathan Steel, “The 10th Demon: Children of the Bloodstone”.
2 -- Dream Goal
Ask to be a feature Christian speculative fiction author at Book Expo America 2012 in New York City and at the International Christian Retail Show in Orlando in 2012 and have hundreds lined up to get a signed copy of “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye”.
Real Goal
Attend the “Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers’ Conference” in Ridgecrest May 20th and learn more about this writing life. Plan on attending Hutchmoot 2012 and ACFW in Dallas in September.
3 -- Dream Goal
Hire a major marketing firm to develop my writing and speaking career culminating in an appearance on David Letterman where I try to exorcise his demons by quoting the new Top Ten List: “Top Ten Scriptures from the Bible that make demons run back to hell!”
Real Goal
Continue to learn more about marketing and publicity through social media, the Internet, and Skype.
4 -- Dream Goal
Seek nomination in all major Christian writing contests for 2012 including the Christy Awards and nail one of the three top award categories in the category of “Suspense” for “The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye”.
Real Goal
Receive at least one email from a reader who relates that my book made a positive impact on their life and led them to a closer appreciation of a relationship with Christ.
5 -- Dream Goal
Quit my day job after receiving enough income from my book, “The 13th Demon” to fulfill my dream to be a full time writer. I add a wing to my house with the most awesome creative writer’s cocoon in the universe!
Real Goal
Keep my day job and continue to tweak my available free time.
6 -- Dream Goal
Work with one of the best and most awesome editors in the world on my second book, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon”.
Goal Realized!
I am working with the best and most awesome editor in the universe -- Andy Meisenheimer and I am truly blessed!
7 -- Dream Goal
Work with a publisher who is daring and willing to publish Christian speculative fiction that is on the fringe; the cutting edge of today’s culture.
Goal Realized!
Realized! I thank God every day I am an author working with Charisma Media and Realms Book imprints.
What are your “dream” goals? What “blue sky” projects would you dream of working on?

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Brand-Spanking New Year

Off with the old, in with the new!

What does that mean to us?
Here's what it means to me:

This is a time for new beginnings. One of my best friends is a missionary, and every year, we individually ask God for a word for the year. Then we share our words with each other. Many years, we've received the same word. Sometimes, we receive words that dovetail together. That's what happened this year.

God gave me the word Rest. He said that our world is in much turmoil, and we're all feeling the effects of that turmoil. We have roadblocks, or someone in our family is one of the people in this country without a job, or the unrest between nations is taking a toll on our own family. But God wants us to trust Him and rest in Him. Worry should not be a part of our lives. We need to keep our eyes on Him, and let Him fight our battles. Remember a whole host of angels surround us to do that very thing.

Rita's word was Choices. (Another friend told me she received the word Decisions, which I see as almost the same thing.) And I feel that all three of our words connect in a precious, holy supernatural way. 

When we have Choices and need to make Decisions, we must look to the Lord first, listen to Him, then Rest in the decision and let Him bring about what He wants for us in our lives.

That's my words for the new year. Please share yours with us. Leave a comment with your word or words from the Lord for this year. 

And I'll have a gift for one of you--a copy of my latest book release Maggie's Journey.

Maggie had to learn how to look toward the Lord for her choices and then rest in His watch care over her.

Maggie's Journey grabs you on page one with characters and events that reflect real-life joys and heartaches that change the characters forever. Make room on your "keepers" shelf! —Loree Lough, best-selling author of 80 award-winning books, including From Ashes to Honor.

A girl who’s been lied to her whole life…

Near her eighteenth birthday, Margaret Lenora Caine finds a chest hidden in the attic containing proof that she was adopted. The daughter of wealthy merchants in Seattle, she feels betrayed both by her real parents and by the ones who raised her.
Maggie desires a place where she belongs. But her mother’s constant criticism and reminders that she doesn't fit the mold of a young woman of their social standing have already created tension in their home. With the discovery of the family secret, all sense of her identity is lost.
When Maggie asks to visit her grandmother in Arkansas, her father agrees on the condition that she take her Aunt Georgia as a chaperone and his young partner, Charles Stanton, as protection on the journey. Will she discover who she really is and, more importantly, what truly matters most in life?

Lena Nelson Dooley is an award-winning author with more than 690,000 books in print. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers—where she received the Mentor of the Year award in 2006—DFW Ready Writers, and Christian Authors Network. She lives in Hurst, Texas, with her husband of over 47 years

Maggie's Journey, received 4 stars from Romantic Times Magazine

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Celebrating God's Faithfulness

I apologize ahead of time because this post has nothing to do with writing but everything to do with life.

I am constantly in awe of God's faithfulness. Every day, it never fails, never sleeps, never takes a "holiday." It is enduring, persistent, and relentless. And it needs to be talked about more, testified about, celebrated.

So, to kick the new year off right, I wanted to put the focus on God. I asked my readers to submit their stories of His faithfulness in their life and every day this month I'm posting them on my blog.

I call it 30 Days of Faith and so far it's been uplifting and inspiring.

Here's a sampling:

**I was a brand new Christian, so when the ladies at church invited me to my first-ever women’s retreat, I accepted. Panic immediately set in. What was I going to do all weekend with a bunch of perfect women? I mean, they walked the walk, they knew all the songs, they knew how to find the books in the Bible. I knew nothing. And I was terrified.

**I am the wife of a Marine. We have been married for 11 years Dec. 30, 2011. It was into our 7th year that he was 1st called to deploy to Iraq; we were stationed in Hawaii at the time.The day that he left we said our good byes at home so that he would be able to do his job and get his marines ready without having to watch his family stand there and cry.

**In October of 1995 I was hit with a brain anuerysm. There were many miracles that God performed in my healing but the one that strikes me most happened almost a year later.

**My mother-in-law is the family matriarch. We lived under her for years and it was a contributing factor in crippling my marriage. I kept asking God to release me from her control, but it only got worse. It’s a very long tale, but the short version of God’s blessing, release and miracle was triggered by what He asked me to do.

**My husband Tom and I had been married for 21 years and he was not a believer. I’d prayed long and hard for him and it seemed as if God didn’t even know my address. Tom was a good man, a moral man, good husband and father, but he was lost.

You can read more of these and other posts here. And if you'd like to share your own story of God's faithfulness feel free to leave it as a comment on any of the posts and I'll tag it on to the end of the 30 days. Let's keep this ball rolling!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Forgive AND Forget?

The first Sunday after Christmas our pastor gave a sermon on forgiveness. It was a refreshing twist for me, at a time when I’m usually thinking about all of the New Year’s resolutions I should be making. Some of Pastor Mike’s quotes and stories have stuck with me, which usually means what he said hit home. I sat in the pew not able to think of anyone in particular and focused on the sermon. Then the list came tumbling down on me as I remembered a number of people who had wronged my daughter. It was a dark time in her life due to these people who I had stuffed away in the back of my mind. I made myself look back on that time through God’s eyes. Because the way I had dealt with it made me bitter. A quote from Nelson Mandela summed it up perfectly,

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

But the really tough one was Mike’s definition of mercy. It was spot-on,

"Mercy is getting what you don’t deserve."

I was defensive at first, thinking of these people getting away with what they did, and then it turned around on me. Who am I not to forgive when I’m a sinner? That little voice went off in my head, which is what I ask the Holy Spirit to do when asking for guidance. But I don’t always want to listen.

On our way to church that Sunday we stopped at Starbucks. To my dismay, the woman in front of me was one of the people who mistreated my daughter. The saying that there are no coincidences with God went through my mind as I stood within inches of this person. I ironically told myself to let it go, forgive and forget, but it seemed cynical after hearing Mike’s sermon only minutes later. Mike talked about why it’s so hard to forgive. These heart-breakers should be punished, not forgiven. But Mike’s response to that was to let God take care of the consequences. Mahatma Gandhi said,

“The weak can’t forgive.”

But what about the emotional pain that we go through? What do we do with that constant reminder? It hurt tremendously when a chunk of windshield glass flew into my shoulder during a car accident. But the pain eventually went away, even though the scar is still there. We heal and hopefully move on. The scar is our badge of honor, for forgiving, even when someone didn’t earn it. Because that someone is also, me.

Mike asked us to make three columns:

-The name of the person to forgive
-What they did
-What you’re going to do

Question: What would your three columns look like?

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.”
Corrie Ten Boom

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Kind - New Time

I recently heard someone say the word of the Lord for 2012 is New Kind - New Time. For example, if you drive a 2000 Ford and decide to upgrade to a 2012 Ford, you have a "new time" but you do not have a "new kind." Why give a Toyota a try instead? When you think about it, is that not what we all do? We start over at New Years with a new time line for the same old things we have been doing for years. So here are my new plans for 2012:
(1) Stop griping about the things I cannot change including the church.
(2) Co-operate with God's purposes in my circumstances instead of trying to figure out how to get out of them.
(3) Trust in the Lord with all my heart. I really mean it this time.
(4) Give the benefit of the doubt to people whom I am sure do not deserve it.
(5) Realize that I will never be younger or healthier than I am today. I will not put things off to a better time.
(6) Appreciate that an editor is my best friend.
(7) Believe that prayer changes things. In fact, it may be the only thing that does change things.
Since 7 is the perfect number, I will stop there.
What about you? New time - new kind?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Beginnings

New beginnings always exhilarate me. I love the thought of starting fresh. I feel that way every Sunday when I attend church. Sunday is a fresh beginning to my week, an opportunity to reflect on what I would like to see happen in the week ahead and strive to make it happen. That's why I'm not going to allow any discouragement to ruin my New Year.

I've decided not to make a New Years resolution but stick to the one word idea that you've probably heard others discuss. Deb Macomber even has a new book out called One Perfect Word. My word is going to be ORGANIZE. That may mean different things to different people. For me it's not about organizing one thing but about organizing many different things in my life a little bit at a time, with the hope that by the end of the year I will have accomplished many things by focusing on this word. I don't expect perfection and I don't expect everything to work out the way I think it might. But I know it will work out the way God wants it to work out for me this year. I pray for guidance and wisdom as I chose to focus on this one special word for me this year.

So did you chose one word? If not, what would you pick if you decided to do this?