Friday, February 26, 2010

4 Tips From a 7-Year-Old to Keep Bum in Chair

Gracee has a problem with focus and staying in her second-grade seat.

I say she's observant and creative.

She also talks a lot.

I say she's social.

The psychologist says she has clinical ADD. Attention time for something not particularly interesting?

Five minutes.


I help out in her class on Thursday mornings, reading with the kids or taking them to a quiet place to work on unfinished papers. Gracee usually runs to greet me. Yesterday she barely glanced up and went back to work.

She was "on the clock."

What changed to keep her bum in chair?

1. She now wears a wrist coil. She can twist and pull on it when she feels the need to get up or just needs to think.

2. She has a stress ball to squeeze when she needs to sit still and listen.

3. She has a "special" seat facing the wall to help decrease classroom distractions when she needs to stay on task.

4. She uses a timer to help her complete her work in a timely manner.

I thought the timer would add more stress. Tick. Tick. Tick. But she loves it!

The teacher uses a behavior card system that runs from green to blue to yellow to orange to red to black. Increasing consequences are attached as the colors progress, from owing recess minutes to missing out on special activities to calling home. Gracee has hit black before--mostly for talking.

Yesterday, Thursday, I noticed her card was still green!

I'm thinking these techniques might help me keep my own writing bum in chair. Maybe I can even use my own card system during writing time.

Up to rummage for food? Blue.

Up to go out and check snail mail? Yellow.

Up to check out the latest cable news? Orange.

Up to replenish the chocolate dish? Red.

Short on the day's word count? Black!

Maybe I need to set a timer, put a coil on my wrist, close the shade, and fill the candy dish with a stress ball.

How do you keep your bum in your chair when you are supposed to be writing?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Book Review - Crave by Chris Tomlinson

I know a little about craving. 

Chocolate. Chips. Chocolate chips. Chocolate-covered chips.

But Crave is about another kind of craving. More satisfying. A craving that consumes.

Chris writes, "This longing, this deep-seated craving for more and more of God, is slowly consuming my life."

Chris is funny, deep, and writes with unsettling honesty. He says what some of us think but don't dare allow ourselves to believe we think let alone say out loud.

He writes about flossing teeth and picking up trash and not liking people much. He writes about Twin Draft Guards and rulers with no rules. He writes about smiling shoeless kids and talks about trading the "God of the universe for a god of green sticky notes." He reminds us that none of us are empty, that we all fill our cups with something, and that sometimes might be food, like chocolate, because we believe that "a bad day melts away with a bit of chocolate." Ouch. He talks about the Israelites craving the meat of comfort as opposed to following the God who delivered them.

The story of Brother Yun continues to haunt me, and I wonder if my fasting spirit sometimes looks like his shriveled body after a 70-day physical fast.

This is an easy read and a hard read. Chris prods, and he pokes. He's intensified my craving for the bread of life instead of those things that don't last.

I'll pick this book up again and again.

You can catch up with Chris here:
Crave Something More

Crave: Wanting So Much More of God (First 3 Chapters)

NOTE: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Harvest House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Illness tackled me for the last couple weeks. In my better moments, I amused myself by doing a little research for my Putty Grampa books.
  • I have a 16-stanza poem that my great-great grandfather wrote about his life as a shanty boy.
  • I have a piece of wallpaper from a family farmhouse.
  • I have my father's fleeting memory of a red leather chair in that farmhouse and of his mother describing a forest fire while aboard a train.
  • I have my father's memories of attending square dances with Henry Ford where his grandfather played the hammered dulcimer.
  • We still have that dulcimer, and another that was played in logging camps.
  • We have a handful of old pictures.
My dad's memory going very far back is wispy.

So I turned to And found some very cool stuff, such as my great-grandfather's draft card, a picture of my great-great-great grandfather and his wife. I found occupations and moves and discovered that my family often took in boarders. I found that I could coordinate my grandmother's memory with one of the great fires that devastated Michigan. I even found out why my great-great grandfather was called "the putty grampa." My dad didn't know.

I signed up for a free trial membership, but I'm having so much fun that I've gone ahead to pay month by month.

The latest census records available are from 1930. But it seems to me if you needed some prompts for an historical novel, you might pick up some ideas from this site. Choose a name, any name, and see where it leads you. Then change names and build a character.

P.S. To my mother and sister who may read this. Mum's the word. Dad's birthday is coming up.

What do you do to jog your creative juices?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Forensics & Faith: Five Reasons Why the Unpublished Can Stop Writing

"Has life and disappointment caused you to shove your writing aside? Enjoy your time off. It's all part of your journey."

"The real writers always return to writing."

Having set my writing aside for so many years, I dig this post by Brandilyn Collins!

Forensics & Faith: Five Reasons Why the Unpublished Can Stop Writing

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mary DeMuth: One Word/One Line Interview

Mary's in the kitchen cooking up spaghetti sauce today in the midst of a hectic schedule. While she attends to her writing and various family needs, bloggers battle for interviews. Thin Places officially released this week to rave reviews, one of which can be found here.

At any rate, I elbowed my way through the crowd and begged for just five minutes to do a quick, light-hearted (almost) interview. And just a taste from the crockpot. Yum.

Mary DeMuth in One Word (sometimes two)

1.  When you are hanging around the house, what is most likely to be on your feet?

     Fuzzy socks.

2.  Your pastor friend says you have an "overactive conscience." What would he say is underactive?

     My positivity.

3.  What is your favorite kitchen item?


4.  When you are at the beach, do you prefer to splash, walk, or bake?


5.  Would you prefer a country, folk, or hip-hop tune.


6.  Are you usually early, late, or on time?

     On time.

7.  Who is your favorite comedian (living or dead)?

     Brian Regan.

8.  Would you rather play first string on a losing team or second string on a winning team?


9.  Would you prefer a sporty convertible, an SUV, or a pick-up truck?


10. What one-word message do you want people to take away from Thin Places?


Mary DeMuth in One Line

1.  If you were not a writer, what would you be and why?

     I'd own a bakery because I love to bake and make people feel at home.

2.  What is the best advice you ever received?

      Find gifts in others.

3.  What kind of horse did you have, and what was its name?

      Thoroughbred-Morgan; her name was Epic.

4.  Which historical person would you like to meet and why?

      Jesus, just to touch Him.

5.  What is the hardest part about writing a memoir?

      Being afraid of what people will think.

6.  Besides the lack of advertising, what was your favorite thing about France?

      The food and lifestyle.

7.  What is your favorite quote?

      "Suffering keeps swelling our feet so earth's shoes don't fit." ~Joni Earekson Tada

8.  Which of your five senses would be worst to lose and why?

     Sight, because I'm already clumsy.

9.  What is your favorite children's book and why?

      The Little Engine That Could because it typifies my life; I keep going.

10. What is something you like to do to treat yourself?

      Lunch with a friend.

Mary DeMuth on One Thing

What one thing would you like to say to your readers or future readers?

That Jesus is capable and willing to heal you from the darkest secrets.

What one thing would you like to say to your fellow writers or aspiring writers?

Tenacity is what differentiates between the published and unpublished.

Here are some places where you can catch up with Mary

Mary's Website

Mary's Writing Blog

Mary's Cooking Blog

You can also follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Copyright © 2010 by Sandra Heska King

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Book Review - Thin Places by Mary DeMuth

I wanted to scoop up the 5-year-old Mary and cradle her in my arms, along with every other young innocent. I wanted to throttle those who stole her innocence. I clutched the book to my heart.

I wept.

And yet redemption and grace and beauty shine through the pain. And forgiveness in spite of the pain.

From Amazing Grave to Amazing Life, Mary courageously bares her life and her heart as she recounts the thin places in her life. Snatches of time where she caught gossamer glimpses of God at work in every circumstance. Even though she wasn't able to see Him at the time.

Perhaps God chose Mary for such a time as this. To come alongside the way-too many who struggle with the aftereffects of childhood sexual abuse. To come alongside those who feel rejected and neglected, shamed and blamed. Those who live in fear and frustration.Who feel they take up too much room. Who strive to fill their fatherless holes or stretch for perfection or search for approval in all the wrong places and in all the wrong ways. Who need to have control. Who need to find rest.

Mary does not offer easy answers. But she offers hope. She realizes that painful memories can be thin places and that comfort can come from El Roi, the God who sees. She is a "wrestling pilgrim, following painstakingly after Jesus, one who has experienced the "kiss of the King." She wants you to know that Jesus is near even in the most horrific circumstances and that He can bring beauty out of ashes.

I read this book twice in a week. And I found myself pondering my own thin places. And praying that because of my own failings, my children and other loved ones will also catch a glimpse of the holy.

Caution: Do not start this book if you only have time to read for thirty minutes. You will not be able to put it down.

Attention writers: This is a spiritual memoir published by Zondervan. Watch how Mary pulls her story together. Consider her use of tense and verbs. Revel in the music of her prose.

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King

NOTE: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Book Review - The Search for God and Guinness by Stephen Mansfield

I didn't know. Seriously. I bought a sweatshirt at a harp festival. It was oversized and warm and had harps on it. I tried to find out what a Guinness harp was. No luck.

I wore the shirt everywhere. My daughter asked me why I was advertising beer.

And then I heard of this book--The Search for God and Guinness by Stephen Mansfield.

God and beer? And harps? Of course, I had to read it, even though I don't much care for beer.

In the mid-1700s Arthur Guinness "walked the streets of Dublin pleading with God to do something about the drunkenness on the streets of Ireland."

He believed he heard God speak, "Make a drink that men will drink that will be good for them."

This is a deeply researched book and far from a fast read, but I learned much--such as the history of beer in general and Guinness stout in particular. I learned about health aspects of beer and that "beer, well respected and rightly consumed, can be a gift of God." The book transported me back into Irish history, including into the middle of the potato famine devastation.

I learned how a company reached out to the working poor, the sick, the helpless, and the hopeless. Employee benefits during the 1920s were unparalleled. Companies of today should take note.

I also discovered a family of deep faith and strong bonds, a family who came together in good times and in bad. I learned that Luther, Calvin, Edwards, and the Wesleys had what some might consider surprising attitudes toward alcohol. And I learned that Henry Grattan Guinness, Arthur's grandson, has been called the Billy Graham of the nineteenth century. And that Hudson Taylor was also a "part of the Guinness story."

If you love beer, Ireland, history, the poor, the sick, you'll love this book. If you love God, you'll love this book. And if you don't, you might after you read it.

And now I'm content that when I wear my sweatshirt, I'm not just advertising beer. I'm also advertising God.

Copyright © 2009 by Sandra Heska King 

NOTE: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”