Like Shadows in the Dark

I had to cut 13,000 words off of one of my manuscripts.

The prospect of it almost made me cry.

Not only is cutting a real editorial drag. It’s also heart-wrenching.

Those words have existed. They’ve lived, not only in my mind, but on the computer screen. Other readers have absorbed the words, too.

But as I began the work, I noticed something interesting. Lots of phrases and sentences existed like shadows in the dark.

Now, garden shadows in the bright light make sense. They serve a purpose. They shelter, they refresh, they complement. Their movement in the breeze identifies the object.

They derive their size and shape from the object behind which the sun is prevented from shining.

But a shadow in the dark has no purpose. It is extraneous.

So I spent an entire week searching for shadows in the dark in my manuscript.

Here’s what I found:

  • repetitive phrases.
  • Overly descriptive language.
  • Parts of scenes that could be omitted to speed up the action.
  • Dialogue that’s too wordy.
  • Scenes that are nice but not absolutely necessary.

This past week, I grew in my craft as a writer. I read through my edited manuscript and declared it “way better.”

It read like a garden that’s just had a good spring cleaning. No more weeds, shaggy bushes or overhanging branches. Neat and trimmed.

Only the necessary shadows remain.



I got a speeding ticket yesterday.

The perfect end to a truly stressful and frustrating day of looking for a townhome to rent down in southwest Denver area.

Not that I’m going to contest the ticket. I mean, I was speeding even though I didn’t know I was.

Funny, though. Because I’d been so careful during that long commute down south from Estes Park and then back north, to drive the speed limit. I even set my cruise control to match the mph signs.

It was one of those sections of highway where you can drive 65. So I was driving 65.

Then you come down a hill and halfway down it switches to 55.

I didn’t see the 55 sign.

The policeman was waiting.

Uh oh.

I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw the flashing lights.

I was nice and respectful. He asked me if I knew what the speed limit was and I told him the last time I saw the sign it was 65. When he could see that I was not going to be an aggressive sort, he nicely explained how the slope and curve of the highway at that point made it necessary to reduce the speed limit to 55. He took my license, registration and proof of insurance and marched back to his computerized car. I waited a long, long time.

I thought maybe he would take pity on me since I was driving on unfamiliar highways. But, no. He gave me my ticket in a nice, friendly sort of voice and said if I paid it quickly I’d only get two points on my record. Whatever that means.

I said “Thanks.”

Thanks? For what?

I had to think about that for a minute.

Thanks. For not giving me a bigger ticket fine. For being polite and respectful. For not searching my car or suspecting that I was under the influence.

Thanks that I wasn’t one of the eighteen accidents the policeman said had happened just this month on this particular stretch of highway.

Thanks that God isn’t surprised by anything that happened that day.

Thanks that I’m forever in His care, and that He is always working on my spirit to make me more like Jesus. And the discipline of a speeding ticket reminds me that He wants to mature me and teach me more about Himself and about the sinful world I live in.


“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Heb. 12:11 NIV Bible)





Wednesday’s Word

Wednesday’s Word for August 28th:

Cacodemon, noun

pronounced: ka-ka-dee-mon, with accent on the first syllable.

Definition: 1. evil spirit 2. malignant person

Wow! I didn’t know this word. Did you?


Last week’s word was ballyhoo. Did you write it in a sentence?

“I stomped upstairs to find out what all the ballyhoo was coming from their bedroom.”

Building Connections

When my children were very young I had the opportunity to talk to my older cousin, Ingrid, whose three boys were teenagers and young adults.

I was impressed by how affectionate and close all of the family members were. So I asked her:

“How do you do it?”

She said, “Just talk. Them talking, me listening. Me talking, them listening.

Talk about your day,

talk about what bothered you,

what delighted you, what you learned,

what you’re currently reading, what you wonder about,

what you long for.

Ingrid also said, “Do stuff together: projects, games, sports, trips, etc.

She gave me this sage advice nearly thirty years ago. I’m sure she hadn’t envisioned a day when techy stuff would take over this culture.

Sometimes I long for the good old days when the only form of communication in the house was the phone on the wall, and a pen and stationery.

Not that cell phones and  ipads are bad. It’s wonderful to have so much info at one’s fingertips. And to have the safety and convenience of reaching our loved ones by phone where ever we are.

But these blessings sure insulate us from others.

Here are a ten suggestions for young families raising kids:

1. Have meals together, and talk. No Tech stuff or TV allowed.

2. Have your kids’ friends over and let them play in and outside the house.

3. Read to your kids. Talk about the story.

4. Play with your kids, and tell funny jokes. Talk.

5. Pick one after-school activity a week per child. One. Your child will be less stressed, and so will you. Talk about why you’re doing this.

6. Limit your children’s time on cell phones and TV. Talk about why you’re doing this.

7. Bring your kids along with you during your activities. Everything you do is a chance for them to learn about the world and about civilized community. Talk about why you’re doing this.

8. Do volunteer activities together. (This includes chores around the house.)Talk about why you’re doing this.

9. Get to know your child’s teacher(s) and stay informed about EVERYTHING he/she is learning. Talk about why you’re doing this.

10. Pray together. Talk about what the Lord means to you.

You’ll be glad you did these things early on, because once your child’s a teenager, the habit of communication is likely to continue.

It’s easy to let other influences take over your child’s life. But bear in mind that most of our culture’s problems can be boiled down to this:

1. No relationship with God

2.  bad or no relationships with others.

Don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold. God is all about relationships, and we should be, too.

“Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives.” (Col. 3:15, 16 The Message)




Seeking the Creator in nature and the arts

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