Why You Should Save, Celebrate, & Share Your Art

I met Pearl Allard through another writer friend. Pearl had driven a fair distance to be at my friend’s release party. And I knew right away I had met someone special—loyal, creative, and a kindred spirit in finding the beautiful in the not always pretty.

It’s a privilege for me to introduce you to her, and I hope you’ll love Pearl as much as I do. And, for the record, I didn’t know how much my little comments meant to her and I certainly didn’t she was going to write about it here. I’m still blushing 🙂

They were a lifeline from heaven; number twos drew me to Number One. How I don’t know, but those pencils were the only light during the darkest time of my life. I was desperate to see something, anything good, groping through blackness. Sketching brought meager solace.

I drew to learn to see. To cling to beauty. To escape. Though my soul anguished under the weight of oppressive darkness, I held a flicker of light. Something living, and good, still lurked when I looked at my imperfect rendering. It sparked hope—and guilt came galloping on its heels. Continue reading “Why You Should Save, Celebrate, & Share Your Art”

A Short Story About Story

This short story is in response to the Five Minute Friday prompt: Story. There’s some irony in this, but I won’t go there…at least not today. The rules are: write for 5 minutes and no editing (although I can’t stop myself a little. I am an editor after all…and this one actually took me longer than 5 minutes. There are bossy characters involved. You’ll see.). I’ll see you on the other side. Hope you enjoy it.

Last night Mama cried out again in her sleep. The moans grinding deep into the floorboards until rising into a holler so sharp, it nearly raised the dead.

In the past, I might’ve gone to comfort her. Asking about her dream, smoothing back her damp hair. But she never did answer, the glass-eyed look never wavering until the rhythm of my hand on her head soothed her back to sleep.

I was eight the one and only time I asked her about the dream in the morning. The slap following convinced me to never ask again. Continue reading “A Short Story About Story”

Writing a Picture

I’m hanging out over on the Breathe Conference website today. If you’ve ever wondered where I get inspiration or words, this is the post for you:

Writing a Picture By Janyre Tromp


When Small Things Become Big—A Book Is Born

A little over a year ago, I was walking through one of my favorite places—a local craft store—and picked up a book on Zentangles for my daughter. My girl has a distinct artistic bent, and I thought she’d have fun with these doodles.

Well, it wasn’t long until she was begging me to sit with her and try them.

“Babe,” I said. “I canNOT do those.” Big emphasis on the not.

But she persisted, batting her little girl eyelashes. So I sat my “haven’t had an art class since I was 12” self down to spend time with my girl. It was a decision based on the knowledge that it wouldn’t be long before I was too uncool to hang with the girls.

And boy was I surprised. Continue reading “When Small Things Become Big—A Book Is Born”

Conquering Fear and Following Your Calling

conquer-fearSome of you probably know that I spent the 30 days of November writing 50,000 words on my next novel—that’s about 200 pages…basically an entire book. It was a challenge for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

Writing with that kind of speed is NOT how I normally write. I’ve always been a little like Ernest Hemingway—reading over what I’d written and editing that before moving forward bit by bit every day.

I thought going for speed might be a good exercise. Help me learn new skills. Stretch me. You know, make me better.

And it might do that yet. But at the moment, with everything that was going on in my family, I wonder if the story I started was worth it.

Every novelist knows that there are points along the way where you hate what you’ve written. But I fear this is different.

Did I push myself into a place I wasn’t called to go? And now I’m overwhelmed in the quicksand that is my book. I’ve too many elements, perhaps not enough research.

I feel as if I didn’t give myself the space to do it right. Sure, I can go back and fix it… maybe.

fdr-quoteIf this character hadn’t been haunting me for 5 years, I might give up. But the more I think on it, the more I think my fear of the character has everything to do with why I veered off in a direction I hadn’t intended on.

Isn’t that like life?

The things we fear most are often the things we’re called to do. Tweet This

So today, I will again tackle the book. Reworking, rewriting, replotting.

I will look straight into fear and walk into it, if for no other reason than most fear runs when it encounters confidence.

I will hunt fear today and invite you to do the same. Tweet This

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Success: What Is It Made Of?

successAlmost exactly a year ago, I attended a writer’s conference that was the catalyst for starting this blog and opening a Twitter account. I had already started writing my novel, tentatively titled The Way of the Sharaw. But I had no idea where to go or what to do to market the thing.

The other writers in attendance, encouraged to just start somewhere. So I did. I started last year with no social media presence. Now I have over 900 Twitter followers, and all of you supporting me (Thank you, by the way!).

It’s more, but is it enough?

Continue reading “Success: What Is It Made Of?”

Finding a Foothold When Life Is Slipping

footholdThere’s an enormous rock that thrusts into the creek behind my childhood home. I remember lying on my back, stretching fingers and toes long and not even touching the edges. Above it, the sky hung endless blue with the tips of the trees a dark parenthesis on either side.

The rock was my younger brother and my pretend house when we played castaways, our kitchen table when we played house, and my refuge when I was escaping the terrors held inside my real home.

I’ve always been a collector of stories so I know that my “real” story is better and worse than everyone else’s. It isn’t in me to compare anymore. My past made me who I am.

It isn’t my past that scares me. I’ve moved beyond it…mostly.

I have this random file of character sketches, snippets of scenes. In my file there’s pages and pages of a character I’ve resisted for years now. She scares me because I recognize her. She’s trying to pull back from the edge of insanity and her feet are slipping. The hot breath of evil tickles her neck. She needs a rock, a refuge and I don’t know if she’ll find one in time. And I’m afraid of what that means for me, for my kids, and my marriage. Continue reading “Finding a Foothold When Life Is Slipping”

When There Are No Words

No Words

As I writer and editor, my life lives and breathes letters, words, sentences. Pictures, scenes, emotions, flow from my brain, to my fingers, to the page. It’s what I do.

But sometimes…sometimes the river of words runs dry. I’m left without a way to respond to circumstances.

I’ll admit I’m tapped out right now. I have no words. And it’s okay for me. I know I my writing hasn’t been my best, but it’s okay for now. I’m not actively writing a novel…just editing.

My stopped up word-river is even fine for my family for the moment. We’re okay. Really we are (and I’m not just trying to convince myself of that).

My world is surviving without my words, my connection to something bigger…until I got a phone call from a friend who’s always been there for me. Until I didn’t have words for her.

I’m not sure I even followed everything she said through her tears, but I do know this: Her daddy died, and it was hard. She was trudging in the valley of the shadow of death, and I had such paltry words to give. I couldn’t even point her to comfort.

I know that sometimes it’s okay to not say anything. Sometimes it’s better even.

But oh how I long to speak into the dark spot left in her dad’s place.

And so I bring a meal, I pray for her peace, I scour the Internet for funny stories to send, and I might even buy a card with someone else’s words or I might haul out my paints and paint her a picture.

See I may have no words, but she can still hear me…and that’s okay with me. Tweet This

Perhaps it’s here, where our words flee, that we find action. In this wordless place, we set aside our daily tasks, roll up our sleeves, and communicate in a bigger way.

Quoting Themes

Quoting ThemesI’m nearing the point where I’m willing to let other people read my current work in progress and I’m stalling a little. I need to cut a serious number of words and I seem only capable of adding. So I’m taking a break and attending to details like making sure there’s only one chapter marked “10” and that it follows chapter 9. Seriously. It needed to be done.

But one of my favorite details was searching for the epigraphs—the little quotes at the beginning of the chapters that give you a little taste of what might happen in the chapter and points to the themes.

I thought it might be fun to give you all a selection of some of the quotes that might just make an appearance in The Way of the Tiger…

“Where then is evil? What is its origin? How did it steal into the world?…Where then does evil come from, if God made all things and, because he is good, made them good too?”
~St. Augustine

The classic question of an all-powerful, loving God. It becomes a critical question to most of my characters as they’re faced with the worst of human circumstances. Okay, it’s one I  wrestle with too. But it seems silly sometimes Continue reading “Quoting Themes”

Find Your Way

Finding My Way-3
I can’t believe that it’s been 3 years since I lost my grandma, my friend. My memories with her are still so vivid…

•  Garish orange, yellow, and green Tupperware stashed in her cupboard containing cookies stale from summer’s humidity.
•  Her fingers, knuckles swollen with arthritis, clutching a hand of cards.
•  Red raspberries we cousins snuck from her bushes.
•  The taste of her lemonade. No one made it better.

And later . . .

•  Her laughter crackling over the phone when she told me the stories of trying and failing to live up to her mother’s expectations.
•  The citrus smell of Constant Comment tea as we sat at her little table talking . . . especially after I found out my parents were splitting for good.
•  Her still form in the casket across the room. I couldn’t bear to get closer and really see.

This last weekend, before it registered that it was the anniversary of Gramma’s death, I started going through my grandparent’s WWII era papers. My grandfather’s sprawling notes about airplane props and engines, my grandmother’s diary from her college days, his denied request to be trained as a helicopter pilot in the 1950’s.

Finding My Way

It makes me think about the differences between my life and theirs. The things I wish I had and the things I’m glad I don’t.

Despite the fact I’m not quite done with my first book, I’m beginning to see pieces of the next one. Maybe I’ll find her again in it and get one last word of advice. “Find your way, sweetheart . . . find your way.”

Regardless, I’m thankful for the things my Gramma taught me and looking forward to talking with her again some day.

Love you Gramma. See you again soon.