Life was good. Retirement to a beach community. Making new friends and experiencing life in a new town. We’d walk the dogs several times a week along the beach front. We were enjoying our new church family. As I said, life was good.

Then came Harvey.

Life changed overnight.

read more


To finish off 2015 and to roll right into 2016, I’ve been reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. Though there are some things I disagree with her and many I do, one line really stood out for me: going through horror with grace.

That phrase made me stop reading. I halted dead in my tracks and stared at those words. Granted, this is  not something a writer wants his or her reader to do. But there are exceptions and this is one of them. The phrase reached out of the book and grabbed me by the throat. I had to pause and consider the deep meaning behind those five words.

Nothing I have read—outside of the Bible—has explained the human condition so succinctly. Replace the word “with” with “without” and you have the two sides of the human coin.

Have you ever seen a person go through horror without grace?

  • The worker who does enough to just get by, but yells discrimination when their position is terminated.
  • The f-bombing college student who gets offended by anyone who doesn’t agree with them.
  • The politician who lashes out when their sin has been made public.
  • The athlete who cries foul when the team won’t give an extra $10 million on a $50 million contract.

Granted these examples are not what most people would call true life horror, but it could be for the person going through it. Often those who experience horror without grace develop bitterness, anger, hatred, selfishness, ingratitude, envy, and so forth. They live in misery.

So what about the folks who go through horror WITH grace. Like:

  • The parents who forgive the drunk driver who wrecked into their daughter’s car and killed her.
  • The soldier who returns from combat and gives his medal to the parents of the man who gave his life to save him.
  • The grieving family who supports the transplant patient who received their murdered son’s lung.
  • The worker suffering under an exasperating boss, but still excels at her job well above the minimum requirements and makes the boss look great.

2016 is going to be a watershed year in many ways. And many of those many ways will not be pleasant. Some of the horror will be personal. Some of it will be local. More will be national and international. Few if anybody will survive 2016 without living through a tough period, a time of horror, a phase of discontent, a season of agony. Whether you deal with these times with or without grace will determine your peace of heart.

Do you foresee a time of horror in your own life? How will you respond to the horror you will face in the upcoming twelve months?


read more

The Writer’s Guide to Psychology

The Writer's Guide to Psychology Book Cover The Writer's Guide to Psychology
Carolyn Kaufman, Psy.D.
Writer's' How-to, Psychology
Quill Driver Books

Myth busting facts in the field of psychology. How to write accurately about psychological disorders, clinical treatment and human behavior.

Writers struggle to “get it right.” We don’t want to make blatant errors like shells ejecting from a revolver (they can’t) or our character driving a 1968 Chevy Vega (they weren’t available until 1970).

The late Carolyn Kaufman, Psy.D. assists writers in getting it right the field of psychology. In her book, The Writer’s Guide to Psychology, she describes how to accurately depict mental disorders and their treatment. While busting several myths about psychology, Dr. Kaufman includes tidbits on books and movies that got it wrong.

In Chapter One, we find a quiz designed by Dr. Kaufman based on 15 statements. Here, she explains some fundamental beliefs and misconceptions about the field of psychology. She goes on in the following chapters to describe therapist orientations, which is the framework that guides a psychologist in his or her approach to therapy. Included are questions a therapist would use in each of the different orientations. She concludes this section with discussions on the therapist profession and on client sessions.

In the next group of chapters, the reader learns about the various disorders, their diagnosis and the medications used with a particular illness. Included are mood and psychotic disorders, childhood and eating disorders, PTSD and personality disorders. This section draws to a close discussing psychopaths and villains.

In the final three chapters, Carolyn concludes with:

  • Treatment,
  • Intervention,
  • and how to determine whether someone is suicidal or homicidal.

This book is for writers to get elements of psychology and treatments correct. It is not a thesis that will allow you to practice therapy. For what this book was designed to accomplish, it does so very well.

This book is highly informative and very easy to read as it is written for the lay people. This is one book that should be included on your writer’s bookshelf.

Carolyn’s blog is still up:

read more

Finding God’s Presence ~ Chasing My Own Butterfly by Jayme H. Mansfield

by Jayme H. Mansfield

I’m convinced book clubs are really like fields of wild flowers. Each reader tosses out individual seeds—reflections, insights, questions, ponderings, musings… And then, over the course of the gathering, a beautiful and wildly colored display takes root and grows. Each “gardener” has added a unique element to the design, texture, scent, and flavor of the event.

So, when I’ve been asked what I enjoy about being a published author, one of the best and unexpected outcomes has been the opportunity to attend book clubs to share about the writing and publishing journey.

After all, what others bring and take away from a common piece of literature should be considered one of the wonders of the world—a fascinating construction of intricate details, varied backgrounds and experiences, individual passions, disclosed fears, hopes, and dreams—coming together to create a one-of-a kind spectacle.

Although each discussion is distinctive—molded by those glorious readers who are passionate about books— a common question surfaces each time: “What was your inspiration to write the story?”

At this point, I always hesitate, take a sip of my drink, and shift in my seat. Do I really tell them the truth? Our eyes are locked, inquisitive hds tilt, and encouraging smiles follow. They want to know how authors do what they do—write and publish books. Do I tell them what really happened?

Yes, I tell them the truth. I share that I didn’t initially set out to write a story that would be published, let alone be completed. I didn’t outline, plan, and segment my time to meet a daily word count, or have a clear storyline in mind.

Instead, I divulge that I concocted a character, quite haphazardly, that would soon accompany me on a journey to meet some of my life’s most poignant challenges and heartaches. Without intention, I was writing scenes, creating additional characters, deepening conflicts and searching for glimmers of light to help deaden pain and clarify confusion. Ultimately, I discovered I was drawing closer to God—slowly exposing my hiding places and stepping into His light.

I vividly recall two junctures in the writing process—one when I made a deal with God that I would complete the story if He would provide the stamina and confidence to see it through to the end (I know—not scripturally sound—but all too human), and when I wrote the last sentence.

For me to write a story about forgiveness in which characters had to make that difficult heart decision, and not intentionally embrace it myself, would be pointless and hypocritical. However, I knew I needed the Lord to take my hand and guide me through the treacherous waters.

And, as I broke down in tears after the final words were composed, I certainly knew He never abandoned me in the journey. I had traveled with the best Companion possible who tossed unneeded baggage and kept me from wandering down dangerous and misleading paths.

After that, unimaginable doors began to open, but that is another chapter…

So, what really inspired you to write? There may be more to that common question than what meets the eye. Here’s to the journey!


Jayme H. Mansfield is an author, artist, and educator. She provides vivid imagery as she melds her inspiring writing and artistic talents. Her debut novel, Chasing the Butterfly, released in October 2014 from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Jayme is the owner of Piggy Toes Art Studio in Lakewood, Colorado. After a career in both the business and creative sides of advertising, Jayme received her teaching and Master’s Degree in Elementary Education and Creative Arts. For the past seventeen years, she has shared a passion for literacy and the writing process with her students. She teaches art Aspen Academy in Greenwood Village. Jayme is married to James and has three teenage boys.

read more

The Torah and Rabbi Jesus

While reading the Bible, the student of scripture will discover so-called “difficult passages” or “hard sayings” which appear troublesome to the modern reader. The 21st Century Christian reads these verses while scratching his head. Instead of awesome inspiration from God, we end up with a “Say what?”

This true in both Testaments.

In the New Testament, the modern Christian stumbles over the some of the  sayings of Jesus. Sometimes it’s like, “Jesus, what were you thinking saying that.”

What it all amounts to is perspective. Consider these questions as you read and study your Bible:

  • Who is the passage speaking to?
  • What culture is the passage dealing with?
  • When did the passage occur historically?
  • Where does the passage take place geographically?
  • How does the passage apply to the people to whom it specifically addresses and how can I extrapolate that out to apply to me?

Take a look at the Gospels. In these four books, we see the human life of Jesus unfolding. We witness his birth, his coming of age, his ministry, his friends and enemies, his teachings, his death, his burial, his resurrection and his return to heaven. Taking an overview of the Gospels, consider the above questions

  • The “who” is an important question to understand a passage. Is Jesus addressing the religious leaders, his disciples, wealthy people or the poor? Jesus deals with each in a different way.
  • The culture, the geography and history is a given. Jesus addressed the 1st Century region of Judah under Roman rule. Most of his ministry took place in a small section of Galilee, on the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee. Other places he visited include the Decapolis, Caesarea Philippi, Samaria and Jerusalem.
  • How is a tougher question to answer. The best way to understand his teachings is to consider what he taught. Jesus did not teach to the church. He was a Torah teacher to the Jews. He wanted them to live in a more perfect relationship with God by understanding and obeying the Torah.

The Bible was written for all people at all times in all places. However, we can get the deeper meaning by taking the Bible back to its roots. By seeking to understand the original hearers of the Word as best as we can, we are then able to make a better application in our lives.

read more