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.


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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.


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Do I Have Voice?

Recently, a member of a writers group I attend asked the question:  “Have any of you ever had trouble trying to find your voice?” Several answers came back with the idea that it was some  kind of mystical element of writing, unknown to newer writers, and sworn to secrecy by published writers. It seems that only editors and agents really know. And they ain’t telling.

A writer often faces this esoteric word. We’re told we have to find our voice as if we could load up a backpack and head off into the wilderness. We read writing magazines and books searching for the answer within those pages. We attend conferences and writers’ meeting hoping someone will explain voice.


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