“We Christians must simplify our lives or lose untold treasures on earth and in eternity. Modern civilization is so complex as to make the devotional life all but impossible. The need for solitude and quietness was never greater than it is today.”

~A. W. Tozer

That’s the A.W. Tozer who died in 1963.

He’s still right.

(sigh.)

(Thanks to Ariel Camilo for the image.)

You know how on a DVD there are (I always hope) Special Features, the little value-added somethings that extend the pleasure of the film?

And you know how books often have the same sorts of things in the back pages, little interviews and articles and guides for book clubs?

Well, that’s the topic of the hour for my novel, which will release in September. My editor and I had a discussion today, and there will be Special Features in the back of The Feast of Saint Bertie.

If you read the excerpt on my website, you’ll get the very correct impression that cinnamon rolls figure into the story. Luscious, fabulous cinnamon rolls made by my character, India Moon. So here’s the plan: why not feature India’s recipe for cinnamon rolls?

One big reason: I haven’t the slightest idea what it is, and I’m not a great cook.

Are you? Do you have a recipe for cinnamon rolls that’s over the moon? (Get it? India Moon/Over the moon?)

If you will share it with me, and if, of all recipes submitted I choose yours, I will feature it in the back of my novel. With your name.

Please, don’t send anything taken directly from a cookbook. I don’t want copyright issues. This has to be your recipe, and you have to give me permission to use it.

And if your recipe doesn’t end up in the book, it may well find it’s way into one or two or three “Honorable Mention” posts, in September.

I can’t wait to see what you’ve been cooking up. Contact me here.

(Thanks to Alícia Roselló Gené for the image.)

What do you give a writer who loves photography? For at least a year I’ve admired the work of countless artists on Flickr and Deviant Art, and built up enormous favorites lists. Always wanted to dive in myself. Or at least wade into the shallow end. So…

For my Mother’s Day present, my husband and my son teamed up on a fancy new camera, and I’ve been having the best time, playing with it. I’ve even posted pictures on Flickr, and…

To top the celebration, I’ve started a new photo blog!

Please do go check it out. I’m so proud of it.

It’s called beholding…

(Image courtesy of… me! Care to join me on the porch?)

“A book is like a man – clever and dull, brave and cowardly, beautiful and ugly. For every flowering thought there will be a page like a wet and mangy mongrel, and for every looping flight a tap on the wing and a reminder that wax cannot hold the feathers firm too near the sun.”

~John Steinbeck

(Somehow this comforts me.)

(Thanks Diodoro to for the image.)

“When we are self-conscious, we cannot be wholly aware; we must throw ourselves out first. This throwing ourselves away is the act of creativity. So, when we wholly concentrate, like a child in play, or an artist at work, then we share in the act of creating. We not only escape time, we also escape our self-conscious selves. The Greeks had a word for ultimate self-consciousness which I find illuminating: hubris: pride: pride in the sense of putting oneself in the center of the universe. The strange and terrible thing is that this kind of total self-consciousness invariably ends in self-annihilation …The moment that humility becomes self-conscious, it becomes hubris. One cannot be humble and aware of oneself at the same time. Therefore, the act of creating–painting a picture, singing a song, writing a story–is a humble act? This was a new thought to me. Humility is throwing oneself away in complete concentration on something or someone else. …that special kind of creative courage which is unself-conscious: the moment you wonder whether or not you can do it, you can’t.” ~Madeleine L”Engle

(Thanks to Weliton Slima for the picture.)

Related to the last post’s topic of time management, see this week’s podcast of Dick Staub’s Kindlings Muse.

“Who do you want to jott?”

“Myself.”

“Beep!”

“Remember: must have something left, both of time and self, once I’ve finished managing.”

“Got it.”

(Thanks to Rodolfo Clix for the picture.)

Time management is an eternal struggle with me.

I do try. I’ve got loads of calendars of every size, format, and price range, two or three for this year alone, and it’s only May. The small ones are too small to do any good. The big ones are too big to fit in any purse I want to carry. I dearly love PDA’s but don’t love the cost. Neither do I love it when they stall, crash, or just totally die.

Book person that I am, I’ve read books. Lots and lots of books.

I’ve read GTD. I’m reading ZTD. So far the latter seems better suited to my fragmented little brain.* But my problem still is that little notebook I’m supposed to carry around, to collect all the gems that pop into my head so I can later transfer them to my other lists, calendars, on and on…

I can carry the notebook. I can slip a nice Moleskine Cahier into the back pocket of my jeans. I can write things down in it. But for some reason, I can’t be sure I’ll get around to making the transfer from Cahier to calendar and list.

Years ago I had a similar frustration regarding my checkbook. Lots of great ideas as to how to manage the thing, but the actual balancing of the checkbook was a rare and arduous process.

Then came Quicken and online statements, and I learned that, given the right tools, I could accomplish the heretofore impossible. Now I balance my checkbook every single day, down to the penny. Well… mostly.

Could it be that, similarly, the right tool would come along one day that would make time management as simple as balancing my checkbook? Dare I hope?

I think I’ve found it: My cell phone, the one I already have. And a free (got that?) service called Jott.

Here’s how it works: I think of something I must remember to do. Or my sister tells me she’s having a party next Saturday. I speed-dial Jott’s phone number, tell the electronic lady all about it, and when I go back to my calendar and/or todo list, there it is in text, right on the list or calendar day where it belongs. There’s no second step to flake out on. There’s only one step, and the scheduling’s done.

Jott works with any of a bunch of online calendars, lists, and blog services – most of them free. You can even talk your tweet into Twitter.

I’ve ended up switching to Google Calendar and Toodledo, because the two services work well with Jott and with each other. You can set Toodledo up to integrate your list with your calendar. There’s a Firefox sidebar extension that let’s you check your list while you’re working on other pages.

Dare I hope that my struggle is over? Could this be what you’re looking for, too? If so… well okay, you can thank me for the tip. Or send chocolate.

*Leo Babauta, who wrote ZTD (Zen to Done) also has an excellent time management blog.

(Thanks to Nocturna for the image.)