Lissa Marie Niederer

Thoughts about faith, family, books, and how I'm trying to make them all fit together!


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My First Book, For Your Amusement

As some of you may know, we are having the launch party for my first book, The Sky We Walk Upon this Saturday. But if we are getting technical here, it’s not really my first book. THIS was my first book. Enjoy. 🙂

ImageThe Lost Rabbit, by Lissa White

ImageOne day thar was a little girl. She hade a pet rabbit. it was a white one. the rabbits name was tommy. the girls name was Susan. Susan loved her rabbit very much. thay hade a faverit three thay allways play in.

(Susan is sporting a fantastic shirt that bears the declaration: I love my rabbit. She is a very devout pet owner.)

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One day win Susan saw that the cade door was opened she looked evry were for him. but he was nower to be seen.

(!ono!! cries Susan, tears falling from her empty eyes. Susan also appears to be missing hands, feet, and a neck, but that’s okay. As long as she can find Tommy.)

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She saide to her mother do you know ware my rabbit is? but she said no.

(The question mark should be backwards, but I don’t know how to do that on the computer. And then…wait, wait, this is the best… “BOWHOW” cries Susan!)

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the next day win she got out of bed she hered a nouse under her bed. is that you

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it was!! tommy hade ben under the bed all nihgt.

(“I love you!! I love you!! I love you!!” says Susan, whose rabbit has not only been discovered under the bed, but has also grown to half Susan’s size over the course of his short bunny life.)

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and win she looked under the bed to see if he made any masis….. she saw that tommy had babbys. and all her freinds got a rabbit. Susan and tommy were glad to be alone.

THE END

(FYI: masis = messes. Tommy–a male, as suggested by the use of the masculine pronouns “he” and “him”–has babbys. Babbys=babies. Apparently, I had not yet had “the talk” that would have enlightened me to the fact that my story was a feat of nature, a conundrum in the world of reproduction. But, they all lived happily ever after, I guess.)

Incidentally, one of the main characters in The Sky We Walk Upon is also named Tommy. You may like to take a peek at that one sometime, though there aren’t any rabbits.

Both books will be on hand at the open house/launch Saturday, May 31st 2014 from 2-4 p.m. Riverback Dance Club, 335 Water Street, Augusta, ME 04330. Come celebrate.

 


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The Hours I Spend

ImageHow do you find time to write? Lately, people have been asking me that a lot. And the answer is really simple: I don’t.

At 6:00 in the morning, it is time to rouse the masses. There are breakfasts to be made, snacks to be packed, assignment notebooks to be checked, teeth to brush, coffee to be brewed (For Heaven’s sake, don’t forget the coffee!), Spiderman blankets to be smoothed over bunk beds, buses to catch. In the short calm that settles when husbandandsons are out the door for the day, there are e-mails to be answered, book launch inquiries to send, and dentist appointments to be scheduled. Throughout the day, there are chores to be done, masterpieces to be pressed out of Play-Doh, boo boos to be kissed, lunch to be made and then cleaned up after, stories to be read, potty training to practice, and a grandmother who sometimes needs to be chauffeured to various local destinations. All of which I am happy to have the chance to do, but it takes time.

By 3:30, the boys are off the bus. I gather my hugs and kisses, my tales of the day’s escapades in first and third grade, my requests for food. And then more food. I play. I answer math questions. I prep supper.

I love when my husband gets home. We’re besties. But this also means that it is time to round everyone up to the table. I have help, but I am the ringmaster, which can be tiring in itself. Next comes cleanup–dishes and tiny bodies both. Bedtime stories! Prayer. If these things are not happening, it means it is my night to get out for my fitness classes, another thing for which it is not easy to find time.

The point is, if you “try to find time” for something you want to do, it won’t be there. The day to day necessities of being a person (mother or not, employed outside the home or not, married or not!) will take up every minute of your day if you allow it to happen.

I do not find time to write. I make it.

I do not find time to pray, or study, or exercise. I make it.

It means putting other things on hold sometimes, considering my priorities. No, Lissa, now is not a good time to catch up on Hart of Dixie (or whatever other current obsession I am indulging in). You haven’t written your 1,000 words today.

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Now I’m not pretending to know what things in your life should take priority over another. That’s for you to decide. And I am certainly not trying to imply that making time is easy for me. It is not. It is so difficult that sometimes I wonder why I even try. But then somebody tells me they’ve finished reading my book, and that it made them feel something, and when will there be something else for them to read?

That is why I make time. To create. To share something that is real and intimate. To connect.


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The Lobster Award?

My seven year old was sitting nearby the computer when I opened my e-mail yesterday morning and discovered my blog has been nominated for an award. “A Liebster Award?” I mused out loud. “A lobster award?” my son mimicked. Might as well have been, because I had no idea what a Liebster Award was.

As it turns out, a Liebster Award is a chain-letter-type recognition that is meant to welcome promising new online writers to the blogging scene. Well, now, that is just pretty nice! So, Sarah Foster, of Faith is Found, Faith is Alive, thanks for thinking of me! 

 

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Step 1 – Nominate 5-11 Blogs You Like To Read

  1. La’Chaim
  2. Crazy, Messy, Beautiful
  3. Joy In This Journey
  4. The Mommy Talks
  5. Apparently I can only think of 4.

 

Step 2 – 3 Random Facts About Me

  • I was born in upstate New York and lived in a college dorm as a baby, where my dad was the resident director. Been a Mainer since I was about 4 I think.
  • I LOVE, LOVE yard sales.
  • I am afraid of ostriches.

Step 3 – Answer 11 Questions From My Nominator

  1.  Why do you enjoy blogging? Blogging gets me practicing the art of writing on a regular basis and allows me to connect with a community of people with similar interests. It has also allowed me to share the process of writing, publishing, and selling my first novel, The Sky We Walk Upon
  2. What brings you happiness? God, my husband, my three sweet kiddos, sunrises, chocolate, coffee, mountaintops, summer rainstorms, puzzles, belly laughs, weddings, playing volleyball, finally being brave when I feel anything but, apple picking, Christmas morning, fireplaces, butterflies, finding the right words at the right moment.
  3. What is one thing that helps you get through a difficult period in your life? Prayer.
  4. What is one goal that you would like to work towards, right now? Completing my second novel.
  5. What is one thing that is stopping you from moving toward your goal? Ummm, potty training my toddler? LOL!
  6. How can you move past that one thing and just go for it? What a great question, Sarah. Anybody have any suggestions?
  7. If you had copious amounts of money, what would you do with it? Support deserving charities and build our dream home, complete with a family friend, hypoallergenic canine. 
  8. If you had no money, no food, no housing, who would you reach out to? God. And then my mother… 
  9. Could you be the “one” someone reaches out to? are you willing to be? Sure. We don’t have a lot, but we like to share. 🙂
  10. And because this is a blog focused on Jesus and my faith, I have to ask, Have you accepted Jesus into your hearts? Yes. 
  11. What is the one greatest thing in your life? See #10. And the greatest thing I have on this earth? My husband. He is the most amazing partner and friend I could ever imagine. 

 

Step 4 – 11 New Questions For My Nominees!

  1. What did you want to be when you grew up?
  2. Did you become it? Do you still want to be it?
  3. Is white chocolate actually chocolate?
  4. If you could host a dinner part with any 5 people, living or dead, who would you invite?
  5. What was the last thing that you hand wrote?
  6. What one chore would you love to never have to do again?
  7. What is your favorite book?
  8. If you know the Bible, what is your favorite verse? If not, what is your favorite quote?
  9. Who would play you in the movie of your life?
  10. What thing in your life are you the most grateful for?
  11. In one sentence, what is your blog about?


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Do It Today

On my way to drop my husband off at work this morning, I saw a runner headed up the steep-ish hill of Capitol SImagetreet, and he was moving along at a pretty good clip. I was impressed… and a little jealous. Since becoming a person who is in decent physical condition (meaning I am now at a “healthy” BMI and enjoy clean eating and being active), I have always wished I could run. But I was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when I was in third grade, and enough damage has been done to my knees that running, as fun as it is for me, results in debilitating joint pain the next day. Low impact exercise is the way to go for this kid. But I digress. 

My thoughts as I watched the man run up the hill were something along the lines of Running looks like so much fun. Maybe I should try it again one of these days. And then something happened.

I dropped my husband off at his place of employment at the top of Capitol Street, and as I was on my way back down the hill, the runner was just nearing the top. As he crossed the intersection of Capitol and one of the side streets, an older woman, not having seen the speedy pedestrian, rolled through her stop sign and began to turn right onto Capitol Street, only narrowly missing the man. If he had not literally leaped over the corner of this woman’s hood, she would have hit him. My heart stopped.

Every once in a while, a ripple from someone else’s wave reaches us, reminding us of our temporariness on this earth. The near miss to which I was witness this morning was certainly not the first time that I have been made acutely aware of my unknown number of remaining days. My own dear dad is a leukemia survivor! One would think that such an enormously scary life event would cause the truth of our fleeting presence to stay forefront in my mind. But, honestly, it is easy to forget. It is easy to wake up in the morning and wait, wait for the next thing, the next phase of life, the next bracket of twenty-four hours to come and give me a chance to accomplish the things I am setting aside today

But I’m not promised a tomorrow. Are you?

Now, short of a miracle (of which I am surely a believer!) or an extremely expensive knee surgery, I am not going to take up running. It would not be physically possible for me. But that’s not really what got me thinking.

What got me thinking was the fact that that man, unbeknownst to him, might have kissed his family goodbye for the last time this morning when he left for his run. He obviously isn’t procrastinating in the health and fitness department, but what other dreams/projects/hopes/ideas in his life might be shelved right now, under the assumption that a more convenient moment will come along? What things am I waiting for? What is left undone? Unsaid?Image

Want to become a runner? Climb a mountain? Give up smoking? Do it today. Want to write a book? Learn how to paint? Start talking to God? Do it today. Have someone you want to reconnect with? Apologize to? Thank? Tell them you love them? Do it today. 

None of us are promised a tomorrow. We know that. Let’s take a lesson from the runner on Capitol Street, and remember.

 


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Just a Little Taste; an excerpt from The Sky We Walk Upon

Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers and author of the book Platform, writes one of my favorite blogs to follow. He is full of practical advice for writers and those involved in the world of publishing, and is an expert at building a marketing platform through social media. Per suggestion of a recent post on his own blog, today I’m sharing an excerpt from my recently published contemporary Christian novel, The Sky We Walk Upon. And if you find yourself in need of a bit of inspiration yourself, check out Michael Hyatt and his lovely list of ideas for the author/blogger. It’s like those writing prompts from high school that I loved so much!

THE SKY WE WALK UPON

Prologue

 It is a Tuesday morning too cold to even snow, and walking down the streets of January in Maine makes me want to write you. Not write to you, or about you, but actually write you back to me so that you might be mine again.

 Occasionally, people from warmer regions ask me how I can stand the ice and cold of the long winters here, and I try to explain that things thaw in the winter, things become. I understand myself in the winter, as if everything in my life is so in focus against the whiteness of it all, the stillness, that the world just makes sense. Even my breath—the very proof that I’m alive—curls visibly above me in thick, cloudy ribbons as I exhale.

 Sometimes, I tell them about you.

 

 Chapter 1

 Hannah Mackenzie scooped a stack of folded T-shirts out of her dresser drawer and dropped them into the open suitcase on her bedroom floor before collapsing across her bed, not bothering to change her clothes or pull back the blankets. It was too hot to move another muscle. August was usually hot in New England, but this year had unleashed one of the hottest summers Hannah could remember, the humid nights having kept her sleeping in just a T-shirt and underwear since mid-May. Some nights, she would pull the top corner of a sheet up over her shoulders, sticking her legs out the bottom, but more often she slept under nothing at all and fell asleep listening to the crickets rubbing their legs together somewhere behind the dark window screen.

 This night was definitely a no-sheets night. Hannah used her toes to flick her pink flip-flops onto the carpet, closing her eyes and feeling the bittersweet feelings she always felt when it came time to return to college and say good-bye to summer. It was part gratitude for the memories she’d collected over the past few months and part reluctance to get back to schoolwork and schedules.

 She’d spent the last few months with her old high school friends, all home visiting their parents before the fall semester, and they’d soaked up the freedom and the sunshine with equal gratitude. There were late-night rides with the music up and the windows down, graduation parties for friends who had gone to college a year ahead of them, bonfires on the beach, and the ever-repeating phrase of impending nostalgia: “This might be the last time we’ll ever …”

 This year, though, she felt the bitter part of bittersweet more acutely, knowing that after this last year at the University of Maine at Farmington, it would be time to find a real job and join the race of people without the luxury of summer vacations. Hannah’s friends seemed to sense new opportunities lingering somewhere out beyond their next few steps. To them, the world was pregnant with possibility, and their words and excited faces emanated their beliefs that this change, this ending, was the conclusion of something good and the beginning of something that might be even better, if they chose their footholds correctly. Hannah was less certain that her future would be as clean and shiny-new as she hoped it would be. She still had to make it through one more grueling year of business classes and an internship at some yet-to-be-determined location. And job searching. And work. And putting in her hours with the student life committee. Somehow. The list of duties for a college senior seemed endless.

 As exhausted as her body felt from a full day of packing, Hannah’s mind was not ready to shut down for the night. Graduation was practically a year away, and she was already tossing and turning in her bed about things that, in the present moment, she could really do nothing about. This was typical Hannah. Planning was a good idea—she knew this—but sleepless nights were neither comforting nor productive. She tried flipping over to lie on her back, stretching her arms up over her head for maximum airflow to the sweatier parts of her body. It had to be a hundred degrees up there. The boxy green numbers on her phone said 11:55, which was too late to call Justin. She was sure he probably planned on being up early as well. No matter. She’d see him back on campus tomorrow anyway. Maybe putting her thoughts down in her journal would be helpful.

 Ultimately, Hannah decided she was too tired for anything but an almost midnight snack. Flicking on her bedside lamp, she finagled her toes back into her flip-flops and headed downstairs.

 The temperature had dropped at least ten degrees by the time she reached the first floor. In the kitchen, Hannah found her mother sitting on a barstool at the island by the sink, holding a cup of tea between her hands. Hannah, weaving her long hair into a quick, unsecured braid, shuffled past her mother and shut off the water, which had been left running. “Hey, everything okay?” she asked.

 There was no response from her mother, just a glance and a half smile in Hannah’s general direction. It appeared to Hannah that that minuscule excuse for a smile required an enormous amount of effort from the woman who had raised Hannah in her early years with seemingly no effort at all. Only the last decade or so had shown Hannah and her father the extent to which their mother and wife had changed, how lost and broken she seemed lately.

 “The water was running,” Hannah said gingerly. She and her father had learned over time what Elise looked like when she was having a “down” day, how she held her shoulders hunched just slightly forward or took a little too long to focus her gaze on them when she was in a particularly fragile place. There were times when they feared the wrong words or tone of voice or facial expression would scare her deeper into herself, so they trod lightly.

 “Sorry,” Elise said quietly as she tried again to smile. This time it was stronger.

Hannah settled herself on the stool next to her mother. “I couldn’t sleep either. Gotta go back to Farmington tomorrow. The summer kind of flew by.”

 “Did it?”

 “It’ll be nice to see Katelyn, and my friend Justin. He’s the one I told you about. Remember?” Hannah glanced sidelong at her mother, but received no sort of help in continuing the conversation. Peering into her mother’s teacup, which didn’t appear to have any liquid gone from it and still contained the teabag, she sighed. “Want me to take care of that for you?”

 Elise pushed the teacup toward her daughter. “Thank you.”

 “Okay. Will you be up in the morning? I want to say good-bye.”

 Her mother nodded and slowly, as if she were carrying a great weight on her back, got up from her stool. As she made her way down the hall, she said, barely loud enough for Hannah to hear, “And then I might go to church.”

 Church? Was that what she said? Hannah had not expected those to be the next words out of her mother’s mouth. It had been a long time since anyone in this family had had a good enough reason to step foot in a church. Not that they had anything against people who did that sort of thing; there just hadn’t been a reason to try to figure out what the point of it was. They were doing all right on their own so far, with the exception of Elise’s current emotional … instability, and they got to sleep in on Sundays. Hannah must have misheard. “Did you say church, Mom?”

 “No, never mind.”

 “Okay.” Hannah wasn’t going to press the issue. “Good night, Mom.”

 “Night.”

 Hannah made herself a piece of toast with peanut butter and sat in the quiet kitchen, trying to remember the last time she had been in a church building. Tamela Baker from down the street had gotten married at Augusta Community Baptist Church a few years back, but that took up all of about half an hour. And weddings didn’t really count. Everyone went to weddings, regardless of what they believed or didn’t believe.

 Hannah used her last peanut-buttery bite to wipe up the stray crumbs from her plate, set her dish in the sink next to her mother’s teacup, and went back upstairs. Still feeling slightly restless, she opted for browsing through her old journal entries to see if she could find the bit she’d written about Tamela-Baker-from-down-the-street’s wedding. Instead, she stumbled upon a collection of memories from her childhood that she’d written as a sophomore in high school.

 She flipped through them, touching the pages as she read the bits and pieces, and then she returned to one of her favorite entries, the one that reminded her of the woman her vibrant, affectionate mother once was.

To order The Sky We Walk Upon, go to the WestBow Press website, or you can find it on Amazon. Stop in and visit me on Facebook, too! I love to talk to new readers!

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