What Makes Art Good?

I was watching WordGirl with the munchkins and was surprised to find the program had a lot of depth for a pint-sized animated show. In case you’ve never heard of this literary superhero and her monkey-caped sidekick, here’s the 411: WordGirl is the alias of an alien girl named Becky who uses her superpowers to catch bad guys, such as Chuck the Evil Sandwich-Making Guy. Since she came from the planet Lexicon, she has an extensive vocabulary and can define any word you throw her way. Fun show, huh? 🙂 Well, it’s not only fun and educational, it’s quite inspiring, too.

Image courtesy of pbskids.org

Image courtesy of pbskids.org

In the episode I watched, WordGirl was trying to catch a villain who stole artwork for an interesting reason. He wanted to stick the paintings and sculptures he lifted into a machine that would smash them into tiny bits and pieces so he could analyze them. The purpose? To determine what makes art good. Wow. That’s a pretty big question if you ask me.

WordGirl’s conclusion? Art is good because of the artist behind it.

I found myself nodding and shouting a silent, “You go, girl!” at the screen when I heard her answer. Why? Because she perfectly summed up something I’ve been trying to figure out for the past two years.

Ever since I started writing fiction, I’ve been reading more fiction, too. And what I’ve discovered with each book I’ve come across is that every author has a voice. Some are funny, even sarcastic, while others are warm and sweet. Then there are those who are more artsy and poetic and others that ooze angst and drama. When you can flip through the first few pages of a story and say, so-and-so wrote this!, then you know that author has found his or her voice.

Because who doesn’t want to be recognized for what they’ve done? But as we know, art is quite a subjective thing. What appeals to one person may not appeal to another—but that’s okay! Because as long as you, the artist, are being true to yourself, your voice will come through. The style and swagger that you inject into every chord, brushstroke or word choice, every pinch of this or that or every step and leap will leave your signature throughout the entire masterpiece. When your art is saturated with bits and pieces of you, it will scream YOU. Okay, maybe scream is not the best word to use (hm, what would WordGirl use?), but you get the idea. Whatever kind of art you desire to make, when you put your whole heart into it—your life experiences, your personality, and your quirks—it will showcase who you are. Your art will be good and unique and inspiring because of who you are.

While some may not appreciate it the way you hoped, there will be plenty more who will welcome the beauty your art brings. And if you can help brighten even one person’s day with your handiwork, then that’s art that’s worth making.

Take a listen to Lee Ann Womack’s song, “I Hope You Dance.” I hope you’ll be brave and share your voice today in whatever art form you can because someone needs to hear it. 🙂

How do you share your voice with others?

Cover Reveal!

I’m beyond excited to share with you all a little project that I’ve been working on with six fabulous authors. It’s been a long time in the making (6 months can feel like a long time, haha!), but it’s finally ready to be revealed today. So without further ado, here’s the cover reveal for our upcoming boxed set of Christian winter romances!

Kisses, Kids and Bundles of Joy: 7 Christian Winter Romances
Snuggle up with seven brand new, never before published Christian winter romances from bestselling and award-winning authors. Kids and babies abound in this collection of novellas that will warm your heart all winter long.
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One Winter Kiss – Lindi Peterson – Deena Ross travels to Ohio to try and sway her grandfather from making a big mistake, a mistake his neighbor Andrew has been encouraging. When a winter storm hits, and Deena is forced to stay with Andrew and his young son, Evan, Deena’s vision of love is tested and she might lose her heart in one winter kiss.

Childish Ways – Jenn Faulk – Kevin Peterson, a teacher at a small town elementary school, is unexpectedly reunited with Lisa Walker, a girl who spent most of their childhood tormenting and bullying him, when she comes back to town where she helps organize a winter carnival to benefit her niece’s school. Lisa has no idea who he is, though, and as they work alongside one another and Kevin sees how much she has changed, he begins to question whether or not he can really trust her and let her into his life.

The Baby & the Bachelor – Cindy K. Green – Playboy bachelor, Alec, discovers a baby on his doorstep only days away from being appointed to a political office, prompting him to appeal his assistant, Jane, for help. Misunderstandings and accusations from the press abound, leading Alec to wonder, even if he were prepared for a ready-made family, could sweet, church-going Jane ever find it in her heart to marry a sinner like him?

For Tracy – Trisha Grace – One phone call led to Sarah Carter becoming the guardian of her favorite student, Tracy, while waiting for Tracy’s Uncle Keith to show up. But Sarah has no idea Uncle Keith was Keith Sutton, Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor, and doesn’t realize how much trouble she is heading for.

Tropical Kiss Or Miss – Liwen Y. Ho – Therapist Olivia Chan can’t wait to escape it all—a failed marriage, a struggling practice, and her son’s recent health scare. The Hawaiian getaway she planned, however, gets rained on—quite literally—by a tropical storm and the unexpected arrival of her estranged husband Matthew, who’s determined to win her back.

To Gain a Mommy – Tanya Eavenson – When Hope Michaels decides to face her past, she unknowingly purchases the house across the street from her former fiancé—the man her twin sister married, then widowed. Fire Captain Carl McGuire can put out any flame, except for the one Hope sparks within him—some things never change.

Foolish Heart – Cindy Flores Martinez– Judy and Graham have feelings for each other, but they won’t admit it. After all, she lives in America and he lives in Scotland with his daughter, Mairi, who he could never leave to be with the woman he loves.

Author Bios

Lindi PetersonLindi Peterson, USA Today featured author, lives in north Georgia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with her husband and a lively array of cats, dogs and birds. She loves sharing life with her family and friends. Her passion for reading led her to writing, and then God spoke words of love into her heart and changed her life forever. Website | FacebookTwitter

Jenn FaulkJenn Faulk is a native Texan who enjoys reading and writing chick lit. She’s a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom, and a marathon enthusiast who loves talking about Jesus and what a difference He’s made in her life. She has a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston and a MA in Missiology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Website | Facebook | Twitter

Cindy K GreenCindy K. Green has worked as a middle school history & English teacher, a frozen yogurt server and a golf magazine employee. Today she’s a multi-published, award winning author, a mother, a wife, and a homeschooler too. This native Californian now resides in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and their two cats Chloe & Kassey. Website | Facebook | Twitter

Trisha GraceTrisha Grace graduated from Bradford University with an Accounting and Finance degree. She has always been an avid reader and has a passion for writing. After being a tutor for over six years, she finally sat down and penned her own novels. Website | Facebook | Twitter

Liwen HoLiwen Y. Ho works as a chauffeur and referee by day (AKA being a stay at home mom) and a writer by night. She penned her first children’s picture book, “A Rainbow of Nine Colors” in high school (now available at Meegenius.com) and has since published four romance books for grown-ups (with more on the way!). She also enjoys writing about real-life matters, such as marriage, parenting and faith because truth can be as strange and entertaining as fiction. Her work has appeared in various online publications, including LiteraryMama.com and MomLifeToday.com, and she is a contributor at StartMarriageRight.com. In her pre-author life, she received a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Western Seminary, and she loves makeovers of all kinds, especially those of the heart and mind. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her techie husband and their two children, and blogs about her adventures as a recovering perfectionist at www.2square2behip.com. Website | Facebook | Twitter

Tanya EavensonTanya Eavenson is an inspirational romance author of the series Unending Love. She has also written several Bible studies that have been translated and published into different languages with Christ to the World Ministries. Tanya and her husband have been involved in ministry for seventeen years, teaching youth and adults. She enjoys spending time with her husband and their three children. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Word Weavers International. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book. Website | FacebookTwitter

Cindy Flores MartinezCindy Flores Martinez is an Amazon bestselling Spanish romance author. She writes sweet romantic comedy and Christian romance. She has an MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Screenwriting. Her debut novel, Mail-Order Groom, started out as a screenplay and movie project, which she shopped around Hollywood, New York, and other parts of the world.

Superheroes, Snacks & Surprises

What do superheroes, snacks and surprises have in common? Well, they were all a part of the academic camp that our church put on last week for kids in our local community. Superheroes, because what 5th grader doesn’t love people in capes running and flying around to save the day, and snacks, because growing and learning kids need sustenance—and lots of it. And what better snacks to have than these superhero-themed ones? Any guesses as to what each one represents? 😉 (I’ll leave the answers at the bottom of this post!)

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You might be wondering then, where did the surprises come in? Let me tell you a neat story. 🙂

On the first day, another volunteer and I were walking around the middle school campus searching for ice when a woman called out to us. The first thing I noticed about her were the cool metal frames of her glasses, followed by the eager brown eyes peering out from behind them. She told us she had just dropped her daughter off and was surprised to find out that the camp was put on by a church. And not just any church, but the one she had spotted just the weekend before when she was across the street from the high school where we meet buying boba tea! She said she’s been telling her friends that she wants to go to church, saw our church’s signs that Sunday, and then came across us again on Monday. Her exact words were: “It’s meant to be”.

The other volunteer and I exchanged wide-eyed glances as we proceeded to answer her questions about the service times, childcare and dress code (which she was relieved to find out is “come as you are!”). When we finished chatting with her, we exchanged names, shook hands, and parted with smiles all around. 😀

I shared this story with the person in charge of the academic camp and we were just amazed that God had orchestrated everything to happen at the right time and in the right places. It’s not that it’s surprising to see God do amazing things (come on, He created the universe!), but it was super cool to see that He is working in ways we aren’t aware of yet and that He’s working all things together for His purposes. Even though we may not talk about Jesus during the camp, God is still using it to open doors for people to hear about Him. That’s pretty superhero-ific, if you ask me. 🙂

Speaking of superheroes, take a listen to Charlie Puth’s song, “One Call Away”.

Okie, if you haven’t figured out what the snacks up above are, here are the answers:

  1. Cheese on a pretzel stick = Thor’s hammer
  2. Green-colored vanilla yogurt with Oreo pieces = The Hulk
  3. Sandwiches = Bat cutout for Batman & Star cutout for Captain America

How have you seen God work in superhero-ific ways in your life?

Putting Things Into Perspective

Ever have one of those days months where you just feel pooped? Like the kind of pooped where you go to sleep tired and wake up feeling tired, too?

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Poor doggie looks pooped. 😛

That’s the kind of pooped hubby is going through and has been going through. There was a time not long ago when we were able to meet up regularly for breakfast or lunch and totally indulge in these spontaneous mini dates, but lately we barely have time to talk. We’re like two ships passing in the early hours of the morning or late at night … surrounded by two little talkative speedboats. 😉

We know it’s a stage (or we hope it is!) and that his work will settle down again … someday … (soon, please!), but it’s still tiring and stressful going through the every day stuff of this current hurdle we’re facing. I call it a hurdle and not a mountain (even though it feels like one sometimes) because quite honestly, there are so many other people going through much heavier stuff. I remember to hold onto the memories of what we’ve been through, both the happy, easy, smooth times and the tough, frustrating, crazy times because they both remind me that life is good and we’ve gotten through a lot already with the Lord’s help.

I think it’s all about putting things into perspective. Seeing everything through a lens of gratitude and awe as hubby is doing. I got this text from him this morning and it’s just what I needed to hear.

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Life can be hard and crazy and challenging and (fill in the blank). But God is gracious and constant and kind.

Are you facing a hurdle or mountain in your life? Let me know and I’d be happy to pray for you. 🙂

Here’s a fun song by another one of my and the munchkins’ favorite shows, The Fresh Beat Band (on Nick Jr.). It’s called “We’re Unstoppable” and it’s all about overcoming challenges as a team.