Thursday, January 7, 2016

Character Feelings

Are there times when you can't think of a single word to evoke the emotions of a character you're writing about? This was a tip I recently found on The Writer's Circle Facebook page. I'm finding it helpful but just remember, it's always better to show, not tell.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Magic of Christmas

Author: Glenda Manus

Devotional January 6, 2016

Romans 12:2 (ESV) “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Today is January 6th, the Epiphany, traditionally the day in which the wise men brought their gifts to Jesus. During our stay in Germany, our landlords celebrated Christmas up until this day and invited us to join them in their festivities. Since then, I’ve used this excuse to leave up my tree, enjoying the soft lights just a few days longer than most of my friends and family. 
Christmas Day has come and gone and now all that is left are a few Christmas trinkets gracing my mantle at the start of the new year. The tree is left standing, looking somewhat forlorn with no presents underneath and the lights from the tree are spotlighting the bits of glitter that will take months to get out of my carpet. And oh, there’s the small table in the foyer displaying shiny multi-colored lights surrounding the nostalgia driven decor of my childhood.
I have tried every year since I became an adult to conjure up the magic of Christmas that believing in Santa inspired. The tinkling of bells as his sleigh settled on the rooftop, the footsteps on the roof, the whoosh of a fat man sliding down the narrow opening of the chimney; all those things filled my head as a child, just like the sugar plums from the famed story, Twas the Night before Christmas. If Santa could do all those things, surely he was magical enough to continue his spell on me. But every year, I failed to achieve those awe-inspiring moments my youth. The glimmer of recognition was there, but it was always just out of my reach. Sure, some of the magic came back while watching my childrens’ eyes open wide when they saw the toys Santa left under the tree. Bigger and better toys each year until sometimes it became a financial burden, all just to create that feeling once again. Nostalgia, it’s a wonderful thing, but aspiring to claim it year after year is not healthy and I’ll admit that I carried it with me like an albatross around my neck.
I’ve always observed the spiritual side of Christmas too, involving myself in church activities of the season and loving the old Christmas hymns. I’ve picked names off the angel tree and enjoy buying for those who have so little, abiding by the message of Proverbs 14:31 which says that to help the poor is to honor God. I slip dollars in the kettles of the Salvation Army bell ringers. I enjoy the Advent season, preparing for the coming of Jesus. It’s a time of anticipation and hope in what can sometimes seem a bleak and hopeless world. I’ve studied Luke’s account of the Birth of Jesus, the Son of God. But it’s almost as if I have celebrated two entirely different holidays at the same time. The one of magic, glitz and glitter and the one of a dear Savior’s birth.
But as I’ve grown older, I’ve stopped trying to “fix” Christmas. I shop for the family, but I don’t let it consume me as I have done in the past. I don’t go all out decorating as I once did. My excessive amount of Christmas decor now sits in the attic waiting for  grandchildren to grow up and stake their claim on the nostalgic trinkets from Grandma’s house. I no longer sit in a dark room with only the lights of the Christmas tree, digging down into my memory bank for glimpses of the Christmas magic I might have missed, then feeling disappointed when I didn’t quite grasp it.
What caused this transformation of thought and why am I no longer searching for “Christmas”? It’s because I’ve found that Christmas is not confined to December; it’s an everyday occasion and it goes hand-in-hand with Easter. The Son of God born in a lowly manger, his death, his resurrection along with the promise of an everlasting life. These are not tangible things we can hold in our hands like Christmas trinkets; they’re not sparkly lights and glittery objects that we can see with our eyes. It’s just something that you know in your heart; it’s called faith, and the joy of knowing it and believing it surpasses all the “magic” that our childhood Christmases ever held.
Tomorrow, as I take down my tree and store it and my few trinkets back in the attic, I will not be melancholy. I will pack them away knowing that Christmas lives inside me all year long. I will bring them out again year after year, looking upon them fondly, but not needing them to satisfy the yearning of years gone by.

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for creating in me a new spirit. A spirit that celebrates You all year long. May we never forget that what you have in mind for us is good, acceptable and perfect.

Glenda Manus


Saturday, September 26, 2015

"Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble"

Proverbs 21:23

In case someone from a far away planet hasn't heard, I will break this news gently. 2016 is an election year and the mud-slinging has already begun. There, I've said it, and I have made a commitment to stay out of the fray. Why? Because I want to keep my friends. 

Facebook has been a pleasant experience for me. I've reconnected with old friends from all walks of my life, and I've made many new friends that I would have never met otherwise. I've laughed with them and cried with them. Met them for lunch and had long phone conversations. I've found that I have so much in common with classmates that I had absolutely nothing in common with in school. We've grown. We've helped each other find joy in our life celebrations and comfort in our sorrows. And a few of them, I've held their hands in homes and hospital rooms as they've reached the end of their lives here on earth.

Most of us have tried to find a common ground even though we may have different religious and/ or political beliefs. I don't want my new or old friends to think less of me because of something we disagree on. And I don't want to think less of them because of opinion. And that is where this is all leading....

I enjoy reading posts from people I agree with, but isn't this the way of things? If we picked all our friends on Facebook who shared our same views, then we could Facebook "share" all the dirt and throw barbs at the opposing political candidates as much as we choose and laugh about it. But we don't pick our friends that way. I don't have any problems at all reading newsworthy items from a reliable source and try to stay as open minded as possible as I've made my voting choices.  I've stepped beyond Party lines to vote for a candidate not affiliated with my party several times since I became eligible to vote because I didn't agree with the party's choice. 

What I don't like is the sharing of garbage bashing one candidate or another from some off-the-wall Facebook post that the person sharing has not even bothered to research to see if it's true. The factchecks and snopes sites are not always reliable sources. If I'm going to post something as the truth, I'm going to dig a lot deeper before I embarrass myself by passing on false information. My advice is to google it and see for yourself where it came from, and see if there's some truth behind it, before hitting that 'share' button. 

Or better yet - don't post it at all. Because, honestly - why would anyone want to know my opinion about politics? The fact is, they don't. And if I've shared my opinion, they may think I'm some hotheaded lunatic. And likewise, do I want to hear what other people say about their political likes or dislikes? Absolutely not.

Yes, I have posted an occasional political post, and yes, I'm now embarrassed that I did. Did it make people think less of me? Probably. Did it change anyone's mind politically? A forceful, NO, it did not. Then why would I want to force my opinions on others and in the process ruin a good friendship?

 Occasionally I've started to "share" something, and that little voice inside me that I call conscious stops me and says, "Glenda, don't you want to think about this before you post it?" So I stop, and when I go back to it later, I'm glad that I listened to the voice and didn't post. The same with comments. I've learned to hold my tongue. And now, I have vowed not to post anything political at all. If I do, it will be through private messaging my like-minded friends. Will it be easy? No. I love voicing my opinion - sometimes loudly, sometimes viciously. Therein lies the problem. So for me and my house, I will keep my mouth shut.

We all have a right to free speech. We have a right to say and post anything we want as long as it falls within Facebook's guidelines. Thankfully, we also have the option of changing our friendship status to weed out posts that we get tired of seeing. We're all in this old world together. Let us seek to get along peacefully.

There are several Bible verses that address this. Here are a few that come to mind:

Ephesians 4:29 "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."

Exodus 23:1 ESV "You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness."

James 1:26 ESV "If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless."

Matthew 12:36 "I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,"

And my personal favorite and the one I have the most trouble obeying:

Proverbs 21:23 "Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble"

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Mustard Seed

My granddaughter goes off to college in a few days and I've been melancholy for about a week now just thinking about it. She lived next door to us during her entire childhood and popped in and out of our house when she pleased. They moved about 5 years ago, but only about a mile away. Today was the last time I'll see her before she moves on campus, so I went to visit and take her a gift and a letter.
The gift is a small pendant necklace containing a mustard seed along with the gift of my heart.

Dear Chloe,
You’re off to college and a whole new world. I’m excited for you and teary eyed at the same time.

You’re my little one who, before you started school, would come bustin' through our front door every afternoon when I came home from work, exuberantly yelling “Hey, Mamaw"! And then you would hang out with me for the rest of the afternoon.  Then, “Hey Mamaw” in the mornings when you starting riding with me to school and the same when you came in my office in the afternoons after school.  I would love to know how many “Hey Mamaws” I have heard in your eighteen years with each one of them sounding sweeter than the one before.

You’re my little one who told an impromptu story of Moses in its entirety to a packed congregation during Mr. Al’s children’s sermon one Sunday morning when you weren't quite three years old, delighting the whole crowd, and causing Mr. Al to say, “Amen. You told it much better than I could have”. 

You started going to our church when you were a little over a year old and everyone fell in love with you, and then later, your sister Genevieve.  Remember that our church family still loves you and prays for you as you go off to school. Always remember the things you learned during confirmation classes with Randy and the commitment you made when you joined the church. We also made a commitment to you to when you were baptized and you can be assured we won’t forget.

The little necklace I’m giving you symbolizes having faith – even the tiniest bit of faith - as small as a mustard seed. One of my favorite mentions of the mustard seed in scripture is from Matthew 13: 31-32. I know you’ve heard this passage before, and it was just used Sunday in our children’s sermon.

31  "He put another story before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and put in his field: 32  Which is smaller than all seeds; but when it has come up it is greater than the plants, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of heaven come and make their resting-places in its branches."

The church has played an integral part in planting seeds in your heart from your early years. If you let them, the seeds will grow and multiply and the kingdom of God inside you will be carried on. You may not understand it now, but a little encouragement on your part to make the seeds grow will give you strength and will be more useful than you’ll ever know.  When the gospel comes alive in you, it works and spreads itself into all the powers and faculties of the heart and soul. I hope this necklace reminds you of that!

I love you, my sweet princess. Have a wonderful year in school! You may open your dorm door one day soon and find me there for a quick visit - just long enough for me to hear you say, “Hey Mamaw”, in that same exuberant sweet voice that I’ve always loved.

Love you!


There are many things that influence our children and grandchildren as they go off to school. As their Christian mentors we can offer them encouragement and pray they'll cling to the Word in times of uncertainty and in times when their faith may waver.

In most Protestant churches, we make a commitment when children are baptized. We, "as members of the church of Jesus Christ, promise to guide and nurture them by word and deed, with love and prayer, encouraging them to know and follow Christ and to be faithful members of His church." That is a huge responsibility.

We can send them cards letting them know that their church family hasn't forgotten them even though they may be far away.

Glenda Manus, 8/18/2015

Monday, August 3, 2015

High Tide at Pelican Pointe goes LIVE

As I saw my new book, High Tide at Pelican Pointe, "go live" on Amazon this week, I felt the same giddiness and excitement that I felt with the two earlier books. It made me wonder how seasoned authors feel when publishing their latest books. Does book number forty still carry that WOW factor feeling that book number one did? Is the excitement still there when you see your book in print?

I certainly hope so! Here's the latest excitement in my life!

High Tide at Pelican Pointe

Monday, July 27, 2015

Pause for Reflection

It's nice to take a little break from writing now that my book is in the formatting stage. In other words, it's finished except for being published. I've taken little breaks throughout the year for sanity's sake, but there's always that cloud hanging over my head, kinda' like one of those cartoon caption clouds, saying "You're not finished yet - get back to work!"

I'm glad to say the cloud is gone and without it there, I can take time to reflect on the here and now in my time and place, without having my characters in my head screaming for my attention.

I'm so accustomed to getting up early in the morning, making my coffee and bringing it to the computer desk. I surf through emails and FB, then ideally go on to my devotional time. After I get the fog lifted from my brain with my coffee, I can have some quiet writing time before hubby gets up and at 'em. But if I don't discipline myself, I sometimes find that I'm still surfing an hour later. Then once I'm in front of the computer and get the thought process flowing, it's hard to make myself get up.

This morning I put myself on a new schedule. I was up at 7 and took my cup of coffee out to the patio area out back. I listened to the roosters as they upped the ante on who could crow the loudest. I don't know what their prize was - maybe a romp in the hen house with their favorite lady, but one's voice definitely stood out from all the rest. I'm glad my neighbors are early risers - if not, they would be turning him in for breaking the noise ordinance.

There were so many summer noises and sights that I've been missing. Birds singing, bees buzzing, the sun peaking over the treetops. A train clickity-clacking down the track with its whistle blowing as it approaches the cross arms, making me wonder where it's been and where it's going.

The morning dew was still on the grass and I watched as Theo bounded across the yard, knowing full well what was about to happen but my brain didn't register fast enough for me to move out of his way. Then with his water sogged, spring-loaded back legs, he landed right in my lap nearly knocking my coffee out of my hand. His previous rolling around in the red dust combined with the heavy dew on his feet did nothing for my black and white (Henry calls them prison striped) pajamas except add a little color and character to them. That was okay though. This cool cat rarely displays emotion, but it was apparent by his snuggles that he was happy that I was outside enjoying his favorite time of the day.

Being outside in the morning makes you see things that are not so noticeable in the heat of the day when you're in a hurry to get back in the cool house. Like my white porch railings that were filthy, the porch floor which needed a good brushing and mopping, and the screen door which had a thousand and one hand prints.  What better time to tackle a job like that while the temperature is pleasant - and I did. Then it was on to tackle other jobs outside and in, and by the time I finally took a seat in front of the computer, it was 11:30 a.m.

Being outside early with no electronic distractions gives me time to reflect and to count my blessings. Granted, I always read my Bible and devotional at my computer desk each morning, but that alone isn't enough. The one-on-one companionship and commune with God that you get from being surrounded by nature adds a whole new dimension to worship. It's like the Holy Spirit is feeding you the things you've been hungering for. It's a schedule I plan to keep following. What a great way to start a day!

Later I went out and took some photos of our flowers and our old house with good bones before it got so hot.

Bottle tree

Tiny blue flowers make a big splash

Old iron headboard frames some little shade flowers

Made from the steps that walk down to the street. Our house will have a big birthday in 2019.  A whopping 100 years old. 

Old wheelbarrow filled with color

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Topsy Turvy

Topsy Turvy is a great way to describe May and June at our house this year although I shouldn't limit topsy turvy to two months - it's more like for the past two years.

My life turned upside down, or maybe I should say right side up since the publication of my first book in the Southern Grace Series in late December, 2013, followed quickly by the second and any day now, the third book which will complete the trilogy. I went from trudging along writing hour after hour, to the crazy world of book promotions, book signings, and speaking at events. It has truly taken me out of my comfort zone and I can't say enough good things about getting out of a comfort zone! Everyone should just do it. It took me far too many years to make the plunge and gain the confidence, but with God's help, I did it.

Now, back to May and June. Grandchildren have a way of turning your life upside down anyway, and then when they start reaching those life changing milestones in their lives, it starts shaking yours up a little bit more. Jake, our oldest grandchild graduated from high school last year, and last month he completed his freshman year. Now the second grandchild, Chloe has graduated and will begin her freshman year of college in August. And the third and last one, Genevieve will enter 8th grade this year, so she's not so far behind.

It's these milestones, the metamorphosis of your babies from childhood to adulthood, that turns you into a Melancholy Mama - or in this case Grandmama, pouring through hundreds of photos and wondering how those childhood years of cuddles and hugs got away. The last two weeks have especially been tough. Seeing Chloe walk across that stage as one of the top 5 in her class, then watching as if by magic turning 18 years old on Sunday turned her into an adult right before my eyes. I literally could see it! One day looking into the eyes of a child, the next looking into the eyes of woman.

Do we grandmothers just notice these things more than we did with our own children? I think so. We develop a keener insight when we know that time REALLY does fly. And we learn that living in a topsy turvy world is just fine.

Glenda Manus
June 16, 2015