Sunday, February 28, 2016

You Can Be Nice Without Being Naked

Sure, use Twitter to flirt, but for goodness sake - put some clothes on!


It wasn't so long ago I shared some of my twitter pet peeves. And if you'll remember, I have uncomfortable 'feelings' about all the bare-nippled romance covers that fill up my feed. What I failed to talk about are bare-nippled profile pictures and I think I am only being true to myself if I lay that out right here.

keep your clothes on twitter users!
Ew.

Ew. Ew. Ew.

I mean, what are you trying to accomplish?

Ew.

So...this is what happened:

I participate in various hashtag 'events' for writers. On different days of the week there are featured hastags you use to share little snapshots of your work-in-progress. {such as #2bittues, #1linewed & #FP} Each follows a weekly theme. Scour your manuscript for a clip pertaining to said theme. Share. Done. It's a wonderful way to meet writers and champion each other along the journey. It's good, clean, supportive fun.

On Friday, I participated in #FP {Friday Phrases}

twitter exchange with naked man

Okay.

He was paying my writing a compliment. I like that.
He called me lass. I really liked that.
He's naked. Ew. Ew. Ew.

Yes, I know we can't actually see his nipple. Yes, he's all sexy and blah blah blah.

I just...

I can't...

He went on to comment on other posts I'd made and I just couldn't bring myself to engage any longer—and I recognize that his intentions may be perfectly innocent and purely supportive but EW!

A compliment given by a naked stranger is stripped of all meaning.

Put that on my tombstone. It is my truth.

Dear Watson, with your smoldering eyes and come-hither posture...PUT A FLIPPING SHIRT ON IF YOU WANT TO FLIRT WITH ME!!!

<><><><><>end rant<><><><><>


Friday, February 26, 2016

On The Hunt For Amazing Inspiration? Start With Your Fans!


It happens every so often to writers and bloggers. You find yourself staring at screen or paper. Stuck. Convinced you'll never write another word. Sure you've used up every last bit of creative energy you have. Mad that it was on the blooming onion you attempted to bake instead of something you could sell to a magazine...

Such was the case when I sat down to write a few nights ago.

Ask your fans for ideas - you'll be surprised with what they come up with


I'm at an awkward stage in my noveling process. It's in the hands of a few grammar nerds right now, getting polished to a fine shiny thing {I hope} so I can begin the wooing of agents and publishers. {I've been told I have a flirtatious personality—I hope that translates into people falling in love with my book, jumping at the opportunity to sign me and then throwing money at me...Ha!}

Anyway.

I'm feeling like there is little work for me to do with the manuscript until I get it back from said grammar nerds. And I feel uneasy about diving into another project because that went so well the last time I tried to split my focus. I decided writing a new blog post would be the perfect distraction while still fulfilling my need to write.

But I had nothing to say.

How sad!

Poor me and my unfortunate, word-barren, soul.

BUT, instead of wallowing in the self-pity of it all, I took to my Facebook Author page and put the question to my fans - what would you like to see me blog about next? - and wouldn't you know it, the good people of Facebook stepped up!

The funny thing is, that in the act of asking for help, I seemed to knock a block loose and took off with my own idea. But waste not want not—I now have an interesting list I can pull from should the need arise again...and some of them are just too good to ignore.

The following list was submitted by my little sister—she's good for a laugh every now and again. {check out her blog here} —and is but a sampling of the ideas shared that night.

  1. Johnny Depp
  2. 25 reasons to watch Sharknado (all of them)
  3. How life would be incomplete without sisters
  4. How to camp with 35 teenagers, and still look cute
  5. Which movies Heath Ledger would have starred in (and vastly improved) if he was still around
  6. 10 tips to writing better lists using a phone
  7. A follow-up to why younger sisters are awesome
  8. Why Facebook grammar tests don't prove you're good at grammar
  9. How to know when to stop making lists and go to bed.

Helpful? Well it got me to write this post, didn't it?

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Sexy Side of Worship

I sat in the side pew of a country church, watching him on the stage, his long hair falling over the frets of his guitar as he poured his heart into those strings with fevered passion and contagious grins.

I was a shy fourteen-year-old with frizzy bangs and little confidence.

He lit the room on fire with his spirited personality. I was invisible.

He was already a man, nineteen and fresh returned from touring Europe with his band—worldly and confident and passionate.

I was in ninth grade and uncomfortable in my own skin.


Two years later, he somehow ended up in my church basement, mingling with my youth group, toying with the idea of becoming a leader.

He was still that confident man I remembered from those moments long before but this time I was a sixteen-year-old who had begun to understand who I was and who I wanted to be. It wasn't long before we took the stage side by side, him on guitar and me singing harmonies while we led the youth group through a list of worship choruses.

It's no surprise that love soon followed.

Our relationship began on a worship stage and over the years we have had some truly beautiful musical experiences together.

It was a little over a year ago that I stepped down from worship leadership. There was a plethora of reasons but ultimately it was the pressure behind the role. Expectations were being put on me that I could not live up to and that was killing my spirit. I didn't lose my love for worship or music and over the past year there have been moments of painful lacking—I loved being a worship leader. I loved my team. I loved the creative outlet of building sets, and seeking out and learning new songs. I even loved the pressure of being in front of a room full of people, making it my mission to make them sing.

So yes, there has been a gap. And there has been very little opportunity for my husband and I to play music together—something we both value and feel ourselves deeply rooted in—no wonder when you hear of our beginnings.

When a longtime friend asked me to lead worship for a weekend retreat, I was flattered and thrilled. Then, when my husband agreed to come with me and play, I was like SWOON!

The responsibility of the music was released to me. I built a band of people I love playing with and together we had the most amazing time...well, I did anyway. {I can't speak for them but if they didn't, they were pretty awesome at faking it.}

As we took that stage through four different sessions, I could look to my left and catch a wink or a smile from my husband...watch his hair fall over the frets just like that first moment...hear his harmonies mingle with my melodies...

It was glorious.

On Saturday, during a stolen moment in our cabin, he tucked me against his chest and kissed my hair. "I'm glad I came with you," he said.

"Me too, it's sexy when we get to play together."

Worship is spiritual. It's about connection. It's turning your focus outwards and upwards. It's about giving thanks. It's celebratory and fun and creative.

And it's sexy.

Because sexy isn't about sensuality. It's about being comfortable with yourself. It's about being who you are meant to be. For me, being allowed an environment in which to embrace music, creativity, and a love of God is a true expression of who I am.

And being able to do that with the man I've chosen to spend my life with?

Yeah...sexy!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Love Languages {or Valentine's Day is Stupid}

At some point during my formative years there was a Love Languages movement that plummeted the shores of this great continent, a near tsunami of pure wisdom that would surely end all war and stitch together every rift that a couple might encounter. I mean, you couldn't get away from it and people swore to high heaven that it—that knowing the 'language' of those around you—would make life smooth and lovely.

why valentines day is stupid - love languages

Words. Acts. Gifts. Time. Touch.

Yeah.

Isn't that just...common knowledge?

We are, each of us, created to be unique beings; therefore, we have been created to express and receive love differently.

Duh.

Valentine's Day is not a love language.

Pardon me, but if you need a calendar to assure you that you are loved then you're doing love wrong.

Love is not words. It is not acts or gifts or time or touch. Love is a choice. It's a daily grind. It is saying yes every single second.

Yes, I will love you. Yes, I will love you. Yes, I will love you.

Love is not romantic. It is not flowers or blushes or extravagant trips to Europe or candlelight or foot rubs or sexy text messages.

Do you annoy me? Sometimes.
Do you stress me out? It's happened.
Are you the epitome of human perfection? Heck no!
Do I love you? HELL YES!

Love is not a warm feeling in your belly. It is not soft and dreamy. It will not sell millions of tickets in a box office. It is not perfect.

Love is showing up. Every time. Even if it hurts. It's about hanging on. It's about thick and thin and better or worse. It's all the things and it's one thing. It's the thing. And it's the best thing...even when it's the worst.

So offer sweet words, kind deeds, thoughtful gifts, devoted hours, gentle touches...whatever it is that speaks to the heart of your partner but don't for one single second think that those gestures define love. Every one of those things can be accomplished without showing up—really showing up. Be in and of the moment. Your presence—your whole presence—is the only thing that matters.

Don't let Valentine's Day trick you into thinking one day will define the worth of your relationship. It takes every day to do that

And it is my hope that everyday you're able to say, YES.

Yes, I choose to love.

Because 'yes' is worth it.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

My Top Twitter Pet Peeves

Top ten twitter pet peeves
I adore Twitter. I think it's amazing fun and full of wonderful networking and marketing opportunities. It is an introverts social dream—connect with the world without having to 'say' a single word.  

Simply glorious!

It can be a place to test ideas, share content, build relationships, ask for help, offer encouragement, have a laugh, feel popular, join a community, get to know celebrities, meet agents, show your personality, be silly, spy on your friends, stalk your famous crushes {see pet peeve #10}...

Twitter is, in a nutshell, whatever you want it to be.

I use it primarily as a way connect with writers. The power of journeying along with other people who are going through the very same thing you are is encouraging and empowering.

But all good things come with their share of bad and there are days these little annoyances make me squirm in my seat and wonder if it's worth it...

A Count-Down of my Top Twitter Pet Peeves:


10. Johnny Depp does not have a twitter account. This is only a half-pet peeve. He's way too cool to be messing around on something as trivial as twitter and frankly, I'd probably lose some respect for him if I found him floating around, retweeting things about the weather in France.

9. You are not an egg. When you first set up a twitter account, the witty team behind the scenes gives you a little profile picture in the colour scheme of your choosing - an egg. But darling, eggs can't tweet! Birds tweet. You've got to hatch that baby and stick your pretty little face in its place. I want to know you—not the thing that's being kept warm under your dear mother's feathery bottom.

8. Fake followers. I went through a good month of new followers who I'm very sure were not 'real' followers. It began with one normal-seeming man who posted inspirational quotes and beautiful photography and I followed back because it all seemed very lovely and wholesome. This was followed by the 'followings' of SO MANY more people—different names, different profile pictures, both male and female, listing different locations, all sharing the exact same posts as the normal-seeming man. Which leads me to believe all were being managed by one not-so-normal person. To what end? I have no idea but this has happened again and again and IT'S TOTALLY WEIRD so don't do that!

7. Follow-back promises and demands. Don't do a <<Hey there @alannarusnak follow me #ifollowback>> Just don't. I mean, what are you using twitter for? Is it just for a number beside your name? Because if so...I give you a sad face on a silver platter. Life is more than numbers, my friend weird attention-seeking lonely person, and I promise you—if you reach out to me like that, I will promptly move on.

6. Twitter profiles with the sole purpose of selling followers. $5 for 500 new followers guaranteed! WHAT? WHY? If you have to buy followers then you're doing twitter wrong. A follower paid for is not a follower earned and will probably never engage with you so again I ask, what's the point?

5. Profiles without bios. I want to know you and with nothing more than your face and your name I can't really do that. Share your interests. Your bio is how I determine whether or not I'll follow you. Mine reads as follows {you can see it in the screenshot below left}: Writer, blogger, seeker of the extraordinary. Loving one man, three kids & an overweight cat who's kind of an idiot. Coffee shop writing like a boss #amwriting


It's not fancy but it tells anyone who cares to know what my interests are and they can easily determine whether or not we should become internet BFF's.

4. Creatives who aren't creative. Authors who post the same tweet over and over again just make me go UGH! Be fresh and inventive! I follow creatives because I want to watch their journey and I want to be inspired. There is no journey if you stay in one place. Yes, share that blog post ten times BUT do it differently every time. ALSO, share your own thoughts. If you're only retweeting other people, I am not interested. I'm following you for YOU! For goodness sake, show thyself!

3. Hashtag abuse. The hashtag is a brilliant tool. When it's used well. What really gets my goat is when people use a trending hashtag that has nothing to do with what they're posting. JUST STOP IT! FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THE BRIGHT & SHINY THINGS!!! #rude

2. Romance covers. Okay. People love romance books. I get that. That's fine. What I don't get is the plethora of half naked men filling my twitter feed. EW! I need to say that one more time: EW! Perhaps I'm a prude but do man-nipples really sell books? Yeah...they probably do...but can we maybe take it down a notch? I understand that you want to promote your book and you're really excited about it—I'm excited for you—but why oh why oh why oh why???

1. Automated direct messages. Nothing is more bothersome than the HATED form letter message.

<<Hi there! Thanks so much for following. Come connect with me at my website where
you can buy my latest book 'Why Man-Nipples Makes Ladies Swoon' See you there!>> 
or 
<<Hi new friend! I'm so happy to meet you! You look pretty today!!
Send me a link to your Facebook page and we can follow each other :) >> 

I understand the reasoning behind it but it's really SO annoying and impersonal...even if you're telling me how pretty I am...though I realize you're also sending that message to the 64-year-old trucker who's just looking for someone to talk to at the rest stop...

<<  >>

{I think if I just stumbled upon this post it would give me enough reason to steer far away from twitter but that is not my intention—it's seriously a lot of good fun!}

And now, I shall leave you with my personal Rules of Following:


I may follow you if
  1. you're a writer sharing your journey
  2. you're a literary agent or publishing house I'd like to flirt with
  3. you're my friend in real life
  4. you have a compelling bio
  5. you have a nice smile

I will not follow you if
  1. you're an egg
  2. you're unoriginal
  3. you're mean or rude
  4. you talk too much about sports or politics
  5. you share spoilers about shows I watch or book I want to read
  6. you're annoying
  7. you don't have a bio

See you on twitter, my sweet friends! #thatsnotmeaskingyoutofollowme  #johnnydeppismyboyfriend  #thisishashtagabuse #itsquitepossibleimovertiredandfeelingsilly

Monday, February 1, 2016

How Humility Can Give You Something To Be Proud Of

be humble, humility,
In my high school English class, I wrote a story I thought would change the world. I had a creative head as puffed out as my polyester bell-bottoms {oh, I miss those gorgeous pants!} and I sat on the edge of an orange plastic chair, watching the face of my favourite teacher in the world as he read it over.

I thought I'd see pride. I thought I'd see the shadow of some deep pain as my words moved him. I thought maybe he'd look up at me, eyes wet with tears unshed.

"There's no grounding," he said, handing back pages scarred by his cruel red pen. "She's a floating head. Where is she? What is she doing when she's thinking these things? I don't feel her."

Don't feel her?

That struck me straight in the I'm-A-Prodigy Gut and I wanted to cry right there, sitting on orange plastic while behind me A Hard Day's Night sang from the record player that always sat beneath the blackboard.

Don't feel her? But all I did was feel her as I wrote it. How could that have not translated to paper?

I sulked.

I moaned.

I wrote some angsty poetry.

And then...
          
           I rewrote my story.

And it became my first piece ever published in anything beyond our tiny local newspaper. At fifteen years old I got to cash a fifty dollar cheque because I listened to my English teacher.

The lesson?

Listen to your English teacher. Be humble.

Humility is hard. It's a mountain of boulders that shift beneath your feet and unless you're wearing the right shoes it will crash down on top of you and crush your dreams.

No one likes a cocky jerk. 

And no one likes a self-deprecating fool.

Confidence is sexy. Know-it-all idiocy is...well...idiotic.

I am not perfect and there is always room for improvement. If that lesson wasn't yet engraved into my very skin the process of handing off my book to beta-readers would have murdered me. I'm talking all out slaughter. Blood splatters on my pretty writing room walls. Chalk outlines on the floor and the beginnings of SMALL TOWN DEATH MAKES BIG TIME MESS, the Alanna Rusnak story—a powerful documentary series in the can't-look-away vein of Netflix's Making A Murderer.

Ha!

At this moment, The Church In The Wildwood is stronger than it's ever been. Not because of me — well, a little because of me ;) — but mostly because of the people who poured out their knowledge and their criticism to help me bring it to a place of higher quality and better story-telling.

What I didn't realize is that I spent a lot of time telling how a character felt instead of showing how they felt. Rewriting with this in mind has added richness and a depth that was seriously lacking.

I've also learned about my use of clunky adverbs. Stephen King says, "The road to hell is paved with adverbs." This is hard because, in many ways, I have the mind of a poet. I think in rather flowery terms and this spills into my writing without thought.

And though it's true to me, it's not necessary or true to the story.

Editing is about being ruthless. Goodbye adverbs! {Not all of them. Certainly not. There is a time and place for everything and that's part of the editing battle - knowing the time and place, and doing it well.}

I am coming out of round two with a confidence I haven't felt yet. I've always believed in my story but now I feel it's actually worthy of my belief and the end is so close I can taste it. {It tastes like really expensive chocolate in case you're wondering...}

The next step?

I'm going to read through the entire thing again and then go on a hunt for English lovers. I need readers who excel at spelling/grammar/syntax/etc. I need a brutal line-edit so I have something beautifully polished when I shop it out to agents. {Yikes!}

Cheers to moving forward!

Know any grammar nerds? I need their help!
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