Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

It's Christmas Eve, a lovely, breezy day in central, coastal Florida. This is my favorite time of year. The beautify of Christmas lights, the traditions and familiarity of songs and movies. The good will and cheer in the hearts of so many.

I'm blessed by you all and want to wish you a very, merry Christmas. I've been slow on blogging this fall, but I'm a blogger at heart and will do better in the New Year.

When I submitted the rewrites Monday morning for the first book I'm doing with a country music artist, I literally had no energy, words or emotion left. That book took it all. But my editor and I are very pleased with it. She more than me, so I'm thrilled. A writer is too close to their work by the the final version.

Artist has been a gracious and fun partner.

As we end this year with uncertainty in our financial market, going into a New Year with a new president of whom who know so little, I'm comforted to know God is not surprised or caught off guard. He's well aware and even better, in control.

We cannot judge our future successes or opportunities by the world, but by Him. He can make a road way in the wilderness, a river in the desert. Keep your heart and mind on Him, and be comforted by His peace.

As people fear the world and it's economy, we have such a great opportunity to touch them with the Light within us, the hope we have in a living, loving Lord.

I recently had a non Christian reader tell me she felt such hope after reading "Love Starts With Elle." How great to spread the love and fragrance of Jesus across the country to a woman I've never met.

God has a plan and destiny for all of us. In Matthew 16, Jesus said to Peter, "I give you the keys to the Kingdom." Wow! Jesus HAS GIVEN us the keys to His Kingdom. He's given us His robes of righteousness. What are we doing in pauper clothes? Worry, doubt, fear, pain from the past, hopelessness.

Let's put on Jesus and His righteousness. He has such great love and desire for us, not only to fellowship face to face, but to walk out the destiny He's had in mind since the foundation of the world.

Think of when you held your first child. Didn't you dream? She's going to be a prima ballerina, or a prize winning scientist. Or, he's going to be the next Babe Ruth, or a best selling author.

Jesus has those same dreams and plans for us. Better yet, He is able to bring them about! I'm not talking about digging around our own souls and presenting to Him a product of our selfish ambition. I'm talking about standing before him, arms wide, head back, eyes closed, heart toward Him and saying, "You are so good, so good, I can trust you with my life and destiny. What do you have for me to do. I'll do it."

He'll hear you, answer and launch you on an amazing journey.

Don't be afraid of being hidden, or to be seated at a table in the back. Jesus cannot resist a humble, unoffended heart.

Let's commit to seek Him wholeheartedly in '09. Be unoffended by friends, family, church, government. But seek Him.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Finished writing the book

I've been a rewriter frenzy for the past few week, since we got home from Thanksgiving in Tennessee.

Butt in chair about 10 - 16 hours a day. Yes, I take breaks, eat lunch, walk the dog. I'm the cleanest writer in the world during crunch days. I take a bath when I'm stuck, frustrated, need to think, or feeling the pain of muscle strain.

Works every time. As soon as I sit in the hot water, an idea hits. I scrub up and get out. Back to work. One day I think I took five baths.

There, more than you wanted to know about my writing life.

Hubby and I are enjoying the Christmas season though we've not done much shopping or prepping. Just the tree. He put up house lights today. Monday I'll get into the swing of things.

The photo is of my annual Christmas ornament exchange lunch with former co-workers.

Monday, December 15, 2008

AT&T and iPhone

Tony asked what I wanted for Christmas. "iPhone," I said.

So, I took a break from my edits to run down to the AT&T store. We have a contract with them already and like the service, um, er, the phone service.

The customer service stinks.

I couldn't get an iPhone. Wouldn't even sell me one at regular price. An existing customer. The sales rep told me they have to pay $700 for every iPhone and unless I sign a new contract, which I can't because I'm not eligible yet, he losses a bunch of money.


AT&T has an exclusive deal with Mac's iPhone that cost them $700 per phone? I almost laughed out loud. But I was trying not to cry. I really wanted an iPhone.

So, we left. I just don't get it. How can existing customers get no care or regard. Why are we treated like we are not wanted?

By the way, this store had three sales reps and no other customers but Tony and me.

Sigh, can we go back to the customer is always right?

Okay, last minute 2008 complaining before I'm not going to allow myself to do this in the New Year. Rats, not complaining is HARD.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Getting in the holiday spirit

It's not snowing outside, but I'm getting in the Christmas spirit. Of course, the last time it "snowed" in central Florida was '89 and I-75 turned into a parking lot.

We had a great Thanksgiving with my family in Knoxville. My mom's home is always so cozy and inviting. I inherited my aversion to over head lights from her. We like balance, warmth, ambiance.

It was good to see my 94 yr old Grandma and two of my brothers and my sister. (Middle bro, we missed you.)

Then there were the nieces and nephews! They are always fun and I enjoyed hanging out with them. They grow up so fast. My sister is unhappy with me however 
because I gave her two girls, 4 and 2, make up. They've come out of their room with heavily made up eyes more than once. And the four year old wanted to put on make up for pre school.


The good news is she can't get me back!

After Knoxville, hubby and I spent a few days in Nashville. Had a great time. I met with my agency, Creative Trust, went to the Bluebird Cafe where Monty Powell (think Keith Urban hits), his wife Anna Wilson and country crooner Billy Dean played. Think "Somewhere in My Broken Heart."  I talked to them afterwards which is why the 'Bird is such a  great place.

Also had breakfast with my editor, Ami McConnell. She's amazing and I'm undone to be able to work with her. I learn so much every book and she's incredibly encouraging while being honest and helpful. Ami gets writers. After chatting and eats, I stopped by the Thomas Nelson office to say hi to the fiction team. Another fabulous group of people.

The trip home via Atlanta's airport was looong and confirming my distain for air travel as well as Atlanta's airport.

But, I'm not complaining. 2009 will consist of less and less Rachel Hauck complaining. Like really, what's the point? And it only sullies my heart and mind. One day when I stand before the Father, I'd like not to hear all my whining and complaining played back to me. Ack, can you imagine.

Even my thoughts! I think those ring louder in the heavens than my words. So, I'm capturing those bad-boys too.

Check in with in around March '09. I might have ceased to exist with all this restraining of complaining.

Well, enough. Must work on rewrites.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Angela Hunt's "The Face"

Please welcome friend and fab author Angela Hunt! She has another very exciting release. I so admire her work and intellect!

The Face by Angela Hunt.
from Mira

Compelling characterization is the driving force behind this enthralling story of hope . . . Hunt (The Elevator) fuels the completely engrossing story with dual present-tense narration by the two women. Readers are drawn into their lives, sharing their joy and fear as they approach a fulfilling and surprising climax. A touch of suspense adds to the powerful themes of second chances and new beginnings. (Nov.) --Publishers Weekly

Publisher's Weekly Interview with Angela Hunt about THE FACE:

--Sarah Sims, the main character is a victim of Treacher-Collins syndrome, a rare disease that causes severe facial defects. Sarah literally has no discernible face. Her disease is a vehicle for plot development. Did you have any personal connection with this disease or specific reasons for highlighting it in your novel?

Last year I watched a special on the Discovery Channel about a real little girl born with Treacher-Collins. She's still preschool age, but I was so touched by her plight and all she has had to go through to have a functioning face. A novelist naturally asks, "What if?" and so I found myself wondering what might happen if someone like this young girl had the same condition . . . and the story bloomed in my head. I'm also fascinated by the power of beauty, so the story gave me an opportunity to juxtapose the two conditions--beauty and facelessness.

--Like your last novel, The Elevator, The Face is also written in alternating perspectives and in the present tense. Most novels use third person or an omniscient narrator, and this choice is definitely unconventional. How do you feel that adds to the story and/or the reader’s enjoyment of the book?

I like present tense because it adds an immediacy to the story--plus, unlike a past tense narrator who obviously survived to tell the tale, you're never quite sure if the present tense narrator is going to make it through. I struggled a long time with the question of protagonist--was it Sarah's story or Renee's? And then I realized the story belongs to both of them.

--The title, The Face, represents more than just what the main character lacks. Faces are revealed and discovered through the course of the story. Why the significance on faces?

Studies have shown that not only do our facial expressions reveal our emotions, but our emotions can be ignited by our facial expressions. In order to be fully human, Sarah not only had to learn how to communicate through a face, but to feel the emotions her face could convey. On a deeper level, her new face represents an emotional and spiritual rebirth. Because she receives a new face, she receives a new future and a new life.

--Because she has been isolated on an island all her life, and her contact with people has been extremely limited, Sarah has turned to old movies for her understanding of situations and emotions of the real world. Her idea of reality is based on things she has seen on the screen. Why movies and not books, or music?

I like movies, old or new. I knew Sarah would want to know about the world outside her cloistered life, and movies were the most direct way for her to visualize things she could never see. By watching films, Sarah thinks she knows the world. She doesn't realize that movies are only an imitation of life.

--There is a fair amount of research that went into this novel, from CIA protocol to extreme medical procedures, all of which seem a bit fantastic but are ultimately true. How important is it to blend fact into your fiction and what does that do for the overall quality of the story? Is research fun for you?

I cut my teeth writing nonfiction and I suffer from rabid curiosity so yes, research is fun for me. Why make something up if it really exists? So I do as much research as I can and travel whenever possible. I spent a week in the Amazon jungle to research one novel, and I visited the Spanish coast for The Face. When I saw an old monastery on an island off the coast of Spain, I knew I'd found the location for Sarah's fortress.

--What comes first for you, building the characters or building the story?
I work with four elements to build a story: plot concept, character, setting, and theme. The plot concept usually shows up first, then the other pieces either fall into line . . . . or I give them a shove.

Thanks Angie for stopping by! I pray great success for you and this book!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The depths of love

I posted before on owing no one anything except love. Paul wrote to the Roman church, "don't run up huge debts, except the huge debt of love you owe each other."

Lately I've been meditating on true, real, heart issued love. Loving when we're wronged, when we're cheated or over looked. Keeping our mouths shut when we have a right to say, "I told you so."

I want to love like Jesus loved. When He was chained to a poll or stone and whipped, He said, "Father forgive them." As they nailed Him to the Cross, He endured.

Love is patient and kind. Keeps no record of wrong. Endures. Does not seek it's own, it not arrogant.

Can I say I love in this manner? No. But more and more my heart yearns to love with all sincerity. I find comfort in the back row, being forgotten, over looked.

Yet, here's where love can crash into the ditch. I've seen it in many true believers who desire to exemplify Jesus. They embrace sin.

Loving like Jesus doesn't require us to embrace sin. It actually challenges us to speak out against sin. How can a man or woman turn from their "wicked ways" if we don't point the way to Jesus and the Cross?

If loving my fellow man means I look like the world instead of heaven, then I can't love. But I'm convinced loving my fellow man demands I look like and act like heaven.

For me, it means I don't grumble or complain. I don't compare myself and wonder why this person is getting that thing instead of me. It means I give of myself without demand or expectation of return.

It requires prayer and devotion to the Word in order for my heart to be changed. Love is not about others changing, but me becoming conformed to the image of Christ.

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds," Paul wrote to the Romans.

Loving like Jesus transforms. I'm convinced of it. In '09, I want to love. To walk in humility. I'm confident He loves me, has good in store for me. I don't need to elbow my way into the future.

What about you? Can you think of areas of your heart and mind love can transform? Are you waiting for someone else to change? Really, your prayer should be, "change me, Father."

Let's take the journey of love in '09. Real love. Study 1 Corinthians 13.