God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

The carolers on my mantel are singing, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” I know this because the rotund gentleman in the gold coat had his page turned to that carol.

Much controversy surrounds this carol with regard to origin and meaning*, but it is a carol I always enjoy during this season of the year.

God rest ye merry, gentlemen
Let nothing you dismay
Remember, Christ, our Savior
Was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power
When we were gone astray
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

In Bethlehem, in Israel,
This blessed Babe was born
And laid within a manger
Upon this blessed morn
The which His Mother Mary
Did nothing take in scorn
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

From God our Heavenly Father
A blessed Angel came;
And unto certain Shepherds
Brought tidings of the same:
How that in Bethlehem was born
The Son of God by Name.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

"Fear not then," said the Angel,
"Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Saviour
Of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him
From Satan's power and might."
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

The shepherds at those tidings
Rejoiced much in mind,
And left their flocks a-feeding
In tempest, storm and wind:
And went to Bethlehem straightway
The Son of God to find.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

And when they came to Bethlehem
Where our dear Saviour lay,
They found Him in a manger,
Where oxen feed on hay;
His Mother Mary kneeling down,
Unto the Lord did pray.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

Now to the Lord sing praises,
All you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood
Each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas
All other doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy

                                                                           ~ Lyrics from christmaswikia.com

Wishing all of my readers a Very Merry Christmas!

* Read about the meaning of this carol here


Once Again - Emotions and Writing

I'm traveling to attend the wedding of a grandson and for the first time in my blogging history I have decided to repost a blog from the past. It is one of the blogs I wrote after I received a contract from my publisher.

Emotions and Writing – My Observations

This morning I purchased another book. This is my new addiction now that I have a Kindle. It was a magazine review of this book that got my blood pumping and created within me a desire to find out what a little boy could possibly know about a murder. So, at the Kindle Store, my fingers pressed the right keys, thus causing the title to appear on my Kindle home page. As with all addictions, I was helpless to control this process.

Reading what others have written has always been part of my life and, if the story is well written, I’m soon experiencing the emotions and feelings of the characters. During my childhood, my mother read to me almost every night. One of my favorite stories then was Peter Rabbit. As Mom read to me, I became caught up in the emotions of Peter, an adventuresome bunny, who just couldn’t seem to be good like his sisters. When Peter had a close call with the angry farmer, my heart beat faster and I felt anxious about his safety, even though I had already heard the story many times.

I have to believe that Beatrix Potter, as she wrote, felt what that little bunny felt each time he was discovered by, and then slipped away from, the farmer.  I believe that’s what made her such a great author. 

A few months ago I read Mark Twain’s Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, and as I read, I experienced the emotions of being in Hank Morgan’s life-threatening situations. It would be unimaginable that Twain was passive and distant from his characters.  I think he had to “be” the people he wrote about in order to make them and their situations real to me.

I’ve heard writers say they can’t understand why they often get questions from readers, such as: “Did you pattern the main character after your life?” or “Were the things that happened in the story your experiences?”

From the many novels I’ve read over the years, what I have learned is that the answers to those questions are probably both “yes” and “no.”  No, in that the character is not the author or even like the author, but yes, because the author managed to crawl inside the skin of the protagonist and live as one with that character, thinking the thoughts, experiencing the emotions, and feeling the pain as each scene unfolds on the pages of the book. I suspect that it is when the heartbeat of the protagonist and the heartbeat of the author become one that the emotions and actions of the story become real. Thus, the reader of this “real” account is transported through time and circumstance to live inside of the story.

While I was writing my novel, only a select group of people was allowed to read my story.  Those who were allowed to read it received the manuscript along with instructions to be honest.  As with most authors, the first readers were family.  You would have to know our family and the security we have within the ranks to understand the brutal honesty from my nearest and dearest. 

Following circulation to kin, I expanded my readership to include trusted friends, critiques by fellow members of my writers group, and, finally, I ventured out into the waters of writing contests.

From each of my readers, I received comments and beneficial evaluations, but one I have come to cherish is one I received via a phone call.  The reader simply said, “I laughed and I cried.”  It was then that I knew I had become one with my protagonist and the feelings she had were the feelings shared by the reader.

Child of Desire release date, November 2011.

Note: I may soon repost additional past blogs about writing.



It was Thanksgiving week and five students in my middle school literature class chose to read a selection about India. During the Wednesday literature circle, they immediately focused on the serious aspects of the piece. “It seems sad,” mused Danny, “that the people in India are starving while we have so much.”

I waited for a response to Danny’s insight. “At Thanksgiving, people ask what we are thankful for and we say we are thankful for homes, and cars, and things like that,” Lori offered. After a brief hesitation, she looked up at me and the wide crooked scar marring her face from above her left eye to her chin became fully visible. Then she continued, “But this year I found out what it really means to be thankful.” Lori’s statement surprised me. In August she and her mother were in a car accident. Lori survived. Her mother was killed instantly. Confidently she finished, “I’m thankful God let me have such a great mother. She was so much fun!  She would always stop what she was doing and take time for us.” As Lori concluded, her eyes brimmed with tears and she looked down. As we sat in silence, I reached out and touched Lori’s arm. 

The silence was broken as vivacious Elissa tossed her head, forcing her long hair away from her face. “Since we’re talking about real things,” she said, “I’m thankful for something special, too.” We waited. Then she continued, her voice quieter. “We moved here because this school has a special program for deaf students,” she said. “My brother is deaf. Dad and Mom quit their jobs and sold our home so we could come here. We don’t have as much, and we rent a house now. But I’m thankful that God gave Daren to our family because we understand he is very special.”  Elissa looked across the circle and into my eyes. I wondered at her wisdom.

It was Clarise who next interrupted the silence. “You know,” she said thoughtfully, “you can be thankful for making a good decision.” After a long pause, I prompted,  “Have you made a decision for which you are thankful?” Clarise glanced away briefly and then back to the circle. “My baby brother was in the hospital with leukemia,” she began timidly.  “My dad told us Mom wanted the baby to come home. With eight kids in our family, we couldn’t pay a nurse. Dad asked us to take turns caring for our brother in the evenings and at night so my mom would be rested to take care of him during the day. He said we would bring the baby home if everyone agreed. We each voted on a piece of paper. I’m thankful that we decided to keep him home until he died.”

The next sound to break the silence was the bell signaling the end of class. The students disappeared into the hallway, but they left with me a  greater understanding of the scripture: “No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:18 (LB)
Loved my years of teaching! 

© Verla Lacy Powers

~ Image from freeimages.com


Editing: Red Pencils and Frustration

It was while teaching first grade that I learned how much angst the red pencil on my desk caused for six-year-olds. Imagine the surprise of a new teacher when red marks on paper caused eyes to well up with tears.

My way of correcting the problem was to mark papers with a variety of colors and to save the red pencil for drawing stars and happy faces. The students never said how this worked for them, but I soon discovered the parents were quite happy with the change.
The editor assigned to me by my publisher must have been one of those people who hated it when teachers “bled” all over their papers. She had a complete color-coded system for editing. If she thought I should remove something, it was highlighted in gray. Things she wanted me to review for possible rewording were highlighted in green. If she had a suggestion regarding story development, voice, word choices, or scene development she typed a message to me in blue text. Red was the designated color for my responses. Maybe this system was developed to make writers feel in charge of their manuscripts. After all, the one with the red pencil is the one with the power.

Even without red corrections, I was sometimes a little annoyed when something I valued was being questioned. Despite much pain during the editing process, it is a good feeling when someone expresses appreciation for a novel in which they found no errors. Thanks Jessie Sanders!