Over the last couple of days I’ve found myself wondering why we are
all so driven to make resolutions on the first day of the year. What is
the psychology behind all this? Americans rush to make their
good-intentions list (some 50% of our population, according to
Psychology Today), but social scientists estimate somewhere between 81
and 92 percent of us fail to keep our resolutions.
I have resolved to set five hours aside five days a week for research, organizing and writing.
Obviously, given the above failure factor, your prayers for me are desperately needed.
last book I published along the traditional publishing path was
Comforting One Another. Since then, the editors have become younger; I
know no acquisition personnel in various houses (once I could name them
all—they had all contacted me). I’ve had to find a new agent (who could
not locate a religious publisher to co-venture with us on the
publication of The Kingdom Tales Trilogy). And according to the Steve
Laube Agency, I must develop what is called an Author Platform. What is
an “Author Platform”? I’ll spare you the 16 pages of agency explanation!
What I’m mostly concerned about is that I get myself to the spiritual place where:
• I am praying regularly and faithfully,
• I am not so busy that I lose God-consciousness, and
• I am quiet enough for as many times a day as I need in order
to that inner creative voice
from which all beautiful inspiration
Perhaps you’ve noticed I haven’t even mentioned
the step about putting words on paper! For me, good writing is a
spiritual activity that demands rigorous spiritual discipline. (Some 81
to 92 percent of us fail to keep our resolutions? Oh, dear.)
some ways I am also in resolution failure danger. After spending almost
eight months sorting, purging and ordering in preparation for a major
location transition, I find I have done the initial brainstorm work on
about six major writing projects. Here they are (talk about a
resolution failure disaster ahead!):
1. David and I have resolved to write two more books to add to the Tales
of the Kingdom series. Fortunately, after seeing Rogue One (the
latest Star Wars film), I realized I didn’t have to design a replicate
full-color, 12-story children’s book. Been there. Done that. Instead, I
could write two stand-alone young-adult novels taking the narrative arc
of Amanda forward as well as that of Hunter (formerly Little Child).
2. In addition, I’ve done all the research and time-lining and brainstorming for these fictional works:
• One novel set in Chicago in 1968, which examines the full possibilities
of relationships between men and women. The first line reads, “All the
men in my life are always leaving me.”
• A mystery series titled The Speaker Circuit Chronicles. Dead bodies are frequent.
• Short stories titled Brothers, Fathers, Sons, Friends.
• Lisa’s Strata—an erratic adaptation of Euripides’ play where all the
women in a local church mount a nonviolent resistance movement when the
new pastor declares no women can be used in leadership.
• Roly-Poly Bug Learns to Hum Christmas—a children’s story about—you guessed it, a roly-poly bug.
are all ready enough to put into the proposal stage (once I’ve read my
literary agency’s 16-page explanation of building an “Author’s
3. Books for the Religious Marketplace, Also Ready for Proposal Writing
• Listening With My Fingertips: How Hearing and Being Heard Can Change
Your Brain. One woman’s remarkable story of healing through leading 250
• Seeing Takes Time: Hard-Won Wisdom From Seven Decades of Looking, Noticing and Seeing
• Thank You for This Searing Pain: Looking at Suffering as a Gift
• The Thanksgiving Meal: A Plan for All Year-Round
4. Books Already Written That Are Ready for Rewrite, Reprint and Republish
• Lonely No More
• Key to a Loving Heart
• You Are What You Say is now ready to go to Print On Demand with a new
cover, a new title, and updating on the inside. Medicine for Mouth
Disease: A Miracle Cure for Troublesome Tongues looks like this:
this is ambition unbounded. I am doomed to resolution disaster. An
Internet search informs me that the 18 to 20 percent of successful
resolvers start with small doable steps, create positive goals in
positive environments with positive reinforcement and don’t try to
change everything at once.
So here goes. Let me start with
that first item—the stand-alone book, taking Amanda’s narrative arc
into young-adult fiction. Here are the things I must do to get that in
1. Take the bread out of
the freezer—NOPE! NOPE! That’s a different list. That’s for cooking
dinner. Here we go—
1. Research Young Adult fiction.
2. Interview young-adult readers as to their favorite titles (other than
the Hunger Games and the Divergent series).
3. Order the Great Courses lectures on “How to Publish Your Book” by Jane
Friedman. Description: “Get unprecedented insights about the
current publishing landscape to distinguish your book from the
competition and improve your chances of publication.”
4. Remember that although in years past you have authored over 26
published books, you are ALWAYS a beginner. Act like one. In fact, the
publishing world has changed so much, you really are a novice.
5. Set Mondays aside to leave the house, find a Starbucks, library, or
sports center corner and make notes on plot lines.
6. Develop your capacity (and love) of writing dialogue. Whole pages of
the Harry Potter books are written in such. Practice. Read the dialogue
in other writers’ works. Eavesdrop on conversations.
7. Pull out the writer’s books in your library you have never read, such as:
• Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market
• Let the Crazy Child Write
• Crafting Stories for Children
• Children’s Writer’s Word Book
See now. Isn’t that all simple? Oh, heck. Who am I kidding? I need your prayers.
that I will find a mix of anger (that great motivator, i.e. “I’ll show
you I can do it!”); a modicum of arrogance mixed with a smidgeon of
narcissism (most necessary in order to believe that anyone would even
want to read what you have to say or that it is even practical to put
in all that time when there are thousands of writers better than
yourself and the publishing industry has gone into a monomaniacal
shift); that a creative internal engine will begin to pump night
and day when you are, after all, turning 74 this month!
pray for humility: Pray that I will not become a resolution disaster
and that my fear about starting again will force me to turn over every
moment to the One who is the Greatest of all Communicators.
Melissa Mains Timberlake and Karen Mains are building templates for
small relational retreats to be held at Turtle Creek Acres, the
Timberlake home in McHenry, Illinois. We have offered two Advent
Retreats and are gratified by a real work of the Holy Spirit in
individual participants and also by the fact that the designs we are
developing are intentionally comfortable for those who are spiritual
seekers but not necessarily within the framework of conservative
Christianity. This makes for intriguing dialogues and after-retreat
growth. (And hence the title for the Timberlake’s participatory
learning seminar, “Kicking Ass in the Second Half.”)
Melissa and Doug Timberlake
and her husband, Doug, are certified leadership-, team-, personal-,
relationship- and public-speaking coaches. David and Karen Mains are
well-known media communicators of Christian growth truths. Here are the
one-day retreats being offered for the next two months. Will send out
information on the Timberlake workshops in 1-2 weeks.
A Set-Aside Day to Consider the Soul: For Men and Women
March 2, 20-17 from 9:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.
David and Karen Mains—Workshop Leaders
Karen Mains: A Look at Psalm 51 Through the Life and Music of Johnny Cash
David Mains: The Beauty of a Clear Conscience
Guided Listening: Questions to Consider in Silence
Can Guarantee: Safety and Quiet, Beauty and Goodness
Fee: $100 through Check, Credit Card or PayPal
Register by email: email@example.com
After registering you will receive a day schedule, pre-assignments, payment information.
“The beast in me/ is caged by frail and fragile bars/ restless by day and by night/
Rants and rages at the stars/ O God help the beast in me.” — Johnny Cash
Housecleaning for Your Inner Life: For Men and Women
April 1, 2017 (Yes, it is April Fool’s Day—Perfect Day to Work Through Human Perplexities!)
From 9:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.
David and Karen Mains—Workshop Leaders
Forgiveness is the topic: Learning to forgive those who have wounded us.
Learning to forgive ourselves. Learning to forgive God.
Gentle guidance will be given for group and individual work.
Private sessions with David and Karen will also be made available.
Fee: $100 through Check, Credit Card or PayPal
Register by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
After registering you will receive a day schedule, pre-assignments, and payment information.
harmony in the external indicates there is mental and emotional
disharmony in the internal. This human truth prevails: As without,
What You Should Know About Turtle Creek Acres
Turtle Creek Acres is the protected marshlands and converted barnhome
of Doug and Melissa Timberlake
in McHenry, Illinois about 50 minutes west of Chicago—
just close enough to the Chicago area to not take up much drive time
and just far enough to feel like a day away.
One Advent Retreat of Silence guest summed it up succinctly,
“I’ve attended many of the Hungry Souls retreats, and they’ve been great
but there’s something powerful about being in this private home.”
We feel that loving Presence also and want to share it with others.
The Soulish Food e-mails are
posted biweekly on the Hungry Souls Web
site. Newcomers can look that over and decide if they want to
register on the Web site to receive the biweekly newsletter. You might
want to recommend this to friends also. They can go to www.HungrySouls.org.
Hungry Souls Contact Information
ADDRESS: 29W377 Hawthorne Lane
West Chicago, IL 60185
Pray that I will not
become a resolution disaster and that my fear about starting again will
force me to turn over every moment to the One who is the Greatest of
Getaway with God:
The Everywoman' Guide to Personal Retreat
by Letitia Suk
of my great privileges is when authors (or their publishers) ask me to
read and write a review of their soon-to-be published books. I am
indebted to many friends who have done the same for me. These
succinct quotes from other writers and influencers are used as back
cover copy, in marketing, and are often loaded into the end pages when
enough well-known names jump on the bandwagon of praise and
Just such a privilege came my way when I was asked to review Getaway With God
by Letitia Suk. This is a masterful compilation of how to
schedule the practice of spiritual retreat, both personal or
corporate, into the life of any who are hungry for God. The book is
subtitled The Everywoman’s Guide to Personal Retreat,
and although many of the suggestions and helps are geared to the
multitasking responsibilities in women’s lives, the personal
retreat practice should not be gender-directed.
this book helpful is that it is so practical. Suk, an author, retreat
leader and life coach, anticipates the variety of potential retreats,
the hindrances that keep us from planning and going on retreat, and
provides creative and pragmatic suggestions as to how to build a
lifelong retreat discipline. She covers the bases (how’s that for being
would recommend that every church spiritual formation team or
discipleship staff would make copies available to any who indicate a
hunger for this practice.
I brought this book
with me to read as David and I traveled to and from Dallas, Texas. On
the way down, a weather system caused our flight to be canceled, and we
eventually were rebooked, arriving four hours behind schedule—but
arriving. On the way home, another weather system rerouted us from a
direct flight to Chicago to Houston, where five more departure flights
were canceled. This necessitated a stay overnight. I was able to get
David home on a United Airlines pass, and I settled down in a sunny
spot in the airport. Might as well read Letitia’s book and turn my wait
(couldn’t get out until 11:00 a.m. whereas David and flown home on a
7:00 a.m. flight) into a private retreat in the airport lounge.
became so absorbed, my scheduled flight in the next gate down the
terminal left without me! Didn’t hear the boarding announcement or my
name being paged. Talk about exercising a spiritual-retreat practice. I
was reschedule to go back to Dallas and fly to O’Hare from there.
However, a stewardess at the counter where my flight departed (that I
had missed) guided me through the process, claimed a “hardship delay”
for me, sent me back to the gate where I had been sitting in the
sunshine praying and reading. I left on the next flight from there
because there were some no-shows. Checking the arrival monitors in
Chicago, I realized the Dallas flight on which I was rebooked had been
cancelled, as had been all the rest of the flights from that airport.
Do I need to say that Getaway With God is a gem! Buy it for yourself, then make it available to those with whom you are walking into spiritual maturity.