Friday, April 11, 2014

Lisa Carter: Proving There's No Expiration Date On Dreams

Everyone's Story welcomes author Lisa Carter. Lisa has a lot to share with us this week. Although it may be (finally!) spring, Lisa shares with us a heartfelt message about the lessons she has learned from her grandmother's Christmas cactus, applicable for every season of life. Her answers to a short Q&A are intriguing, and do check out her book giveaway and correlating book trailer of BENEATH A NAVAJO MOON. We have a little something for everyone this week, and Lisa to thank. Both Lisa and I look forward to reading your comments. 



Book Giveaway:
Lisa is offering one copy of her new release BENEATH A NAVAJO MOON to one randomly chosen commenter--US residents only. The winner will be announced here on Friday, April 18th, between 5-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!




Trailer for BENEATH A NAVAJO MOON:  

 What I Learned from a Christmas Cactus by Lisa Carter



My grandmother loved Christmas cacti. Her house was filled with them in a range of pinks, whites, and reds. A Christmas cactus is thus named because they usually bloom around the holidays.  My grandmother died over twenty years ago, but sprigs of her original cacti were rooted into thriving plants today devotedly tended by her daughters and granddaughters.


A friend of mine has a family Christmas cactus that is 75 years old. It’s huge. Visitors and family members alike monitor its vitality and continued longevity. Maybe a Christmas cactus isn't important where you live. But most Southerners have a Christmas cactus story—and associated beloved family member—among their treasured memories.

What I’ve learned about life and God from a cactus:

To consider the legacy I will leave.

With a cactus, you must be careful not to over or under water. You stick your finger into the soil of the plant to test for moisture. You must examine the plant’s surroundings. Humid environments require weekly watering. Dry climates demand watering every 2-3 days.

In the same way, God looks at the soil of my heart. He is able to provide just the right amount of whatever He deems I need.

To trust the sunshine and the rain from God’s hand.

During autumn, the cactus should be watered less frequently to achieve maximum bloom. I stop watering my cactus mid-September. The key to beautiful flowers is: proper lighting, correct temperatures, and limited moisture. During daylight hours, my cactus remains in indirect light, but at night for a period of 12 hours I exile the plant to the darkness of an interior bathroom. And amazingly, after the plant endures these months of seeming unending drought—about Thanksgiving, buds begin to appear. Followed by radiant blooms come December despite harsh conditions.

Sometimes God allows a period of drought in my life. I feel like I’m sitting alone in the dark. But I’m never alone. And if I place the situations of my darkest times upon the altar of obedience and praise, times of refreshing come.

Often, I bloom the brightest after a season of drought.

Cactus should be pruned about a month after blooming to encourage branching out. I, too, usually can anticipate a pruning after a season of blessing and/or productivity. I do not relish this; but know to expect it. Though it hurts, pruning promotes new growth. And without it, neither I—nor the cactus—will ever achieve all we are capable of becoming.

Don’t fear the pruning.

Cutting off sections of cactus and planting into new soil can propagate entirely new plants. The blooming possibilities become exponential.

Be intentional in propagating growth in those around me.

Several years ago, God put it on my heart to get serious about this secret dream of writing I’d had since I was a child. In fact, He compelled me to take the stories that had been swirling in my imagination and write them down. That story became Carolina Reckoning. Aloha Rose was the result of a God-ordained reunion and in March Beneath a Navajo Moon released.

Sometimes people stop reaching for their dreams because of fear of failure. Yet I am the living proof that there is no expiration date on dreams. Rather in my life, God carefully orchestrated my experiences with the proper season and planted me at a place that would bring Him honor through my writing.

But the best thing about my cactus—

My Christmas cactus—started with such love by my grandmother and now carefully nurtured by me—sometimes blooms again, unexpectedly at Easter, too. Kind of how I want to live—as a repeat bloomer who blooms wherever God plants me, in all the seasons of my life for His glory.

As the holy season of Easter approaches, I pray whatever growth cycle in which you find yourself that you will dare to dream, consider your legacy, step out of your comfort zone, be intentional, and bloom gloriously for Him.

Questions for Lisa:
When I prepare for an interview I like to explore an author’s website in search of a quote. Your quote fascinates me: “Always there has been an adventure just around the corner—and the world is still full of corners” (Roy Chapman Andrews). Do you seek adventure, or enjoy adventure vicariously through your characters?

I’ve been blessed to have been a part of some amazing adventures in my life, including working behind the Iron Curtain (I’m dating myself) with the Underground Church and almost getting kidnapped in Morocco. I once had an English professor tell me I could make visiting the restroom a thrilling adventure. So I do a little of both—seek adventure out and create adventures through my characters, too. I still believe the greatest adventure of any we can experience is the journey of faith—oh, the places you’ll go, to quote Dr. Seuss.

Some writers are amazed by life lessons their characters teach, others are amused by word choices that come to mind that they’d never use unless in writing. While you write, do any pleasant surprises pop up that make the journey fun?

I am a discovery writer. I cast my characters with a face (usually a well-known model or actor). I know the situation and conflict of the beginning. Most of the time I know what happens at the end. The middle is usually murky. I begin writing and as I get to know my characters better and better, I just let them “have their head.” They always surprise me with where they take the story. I’ve learned to pay attention and hang on during the ride. It’s fun and humbling as the story/spiritual arc comes full circle.

For fun: if you were marooned on a desert island with three of your favorite authors (or perhaps the ghosts of past authors) whom would they be and why?

I’d have to pick Jack London for his survival skills; Elizabeth Peters to entertain us with her fascinating and funny tales of history’s mysteries; and Harper Lee because she’s so Southern and brilliant.

Lisa's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Everyone’s Story: author Lisa Carter shares lessons of life and God from a cactus. (Tweet This)

Lisa Carter: Why does God let a season of drought in your life? (Tweet This)

Visit with Lisa Carter, an author that proves there’s no expiration on dreams. (Tweet This)

Win #BookGiveaway of Lisa Carter’s Beneath a Navajo Moon. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Lisa Carter shares her own journey of faith regarding the sufficiency of the cross and His grace in her life. She is the author of two romantic suspense novels, Carolina Reckoning and Beneath A Navajo Moon; and Aloha Rose, a contemporary romance in the Quilts of Love series. Under a Turquoise Sky releases August 2014. She and her husband have two daughters and make their home in North Carolina. When she isn't writing, Lisa enjoys traveling to romantic locales, quilting, and researching her next exotic adventure.

Places to connect with Lisa: 

30 comments:

  1. What a beautiful and inspiring interview! I love your quote, "there is no expiration on dreams..." I, too, have had a dream to write ever since I was a child. I stopped writing in graduate school aside from research writing and training materials for my job but finally picked it back up years later. I sit on it from time to time and can tell how the hunger builds...I have to write. It's in me and I'm trying hard to keep pushing, despite the many demands on my time. Thank you for inspiring me!

    Kim
    kdanisk@yahoo.com

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    1. Kim, welcome to Everyone's Story. I'm glad you've found Lisa's segment uplifting--that means a lot to me! Interesting how you described your need/urge to write as a hunger because that's how it is for me as well--if I don't write I have this emptiness in me that needs to be fed and no amount of food can satisfy this type of appetite.

      Hope to see you again.

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    2. Kim—This reminded me of a quote I love by George Ballanchine, the famous choreographer. He said he didn't want dancers who wanted to dance. He wanted dancers who "had to dance."

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    3. Lisa, as a closet dancer and pretend choreographer (next life!) I love, love, love this quote. Thanks for sharing.

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    4. Thank you Elaine! Thank you Lisa! I bet you didn't know that I'm also a dancer! :) Not ballet or anything like that but I'm a clogger and a folk dancer. I perform throughout the year with our clogging group as well as groups representing Czech-Slovak and South Slavic Peoples. Your quote is perfect! I'm glad to have found your site Elaine, I can tell it's something that I'm going to want to frequent and I've got it bookmarked. I think "hunger" definitely captures how I feel about writing. I've had a lot of writing chances this week and I feel so excited about it!

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    5. Kim, I'm so happy that you've checked back for your replies, and doubly thrilled to know that you will visit again for more inspiration. Each of my weekly guests have so much to offer.

      Wonderful coincidence that you're also a dancer!

      Easter blessings.

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  2. Such a good and inspiring blog post and interview! I loved reading it. The book trailer is haunting, I think. Love the music. I'm looking forward to reading Beneath a Navajo Moon (and I'm thinking I'd like to get a Christmas cactus).
    may_dayzee(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Kay, as always, nice to see you. You made me smile just now about wanting to get a Christmas cactus… maybe this north-easterner should think about it too.

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    2. One of my favorite post-writing activities is putting together the book trailer. So glad you enjoyed it, Kay. Thanks for stopping by. :)

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    3. I always hesitate to get plants. Eventually I kill them off :(

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  3. I so agree with Kim and Elaine. Hunger is the exact right word for the desire to write. I also liken it to an that needs scratching. Great post. Love the analogy between the Christmas cactus and how God grows us.

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    1. Pat, I love your visits. Glad you enjoyed Lisa's segment.

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    2. Thanks Pat for joining the conversation.

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  4. Elaine you have the most interesting authors to interview. Great interview today. This book looks very interesting. Yes, she made me want to go check the soil on my Christmas cactus. I love that illustration.

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words, Barbara. I feel as if I'm truly blessed to have all my guests--which, of course, includes you. It's a privilege to have the means to share with others in the hope of uplifting others. It's a rough world out there. We all need the encouragement to continue ahead.

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    2. Barbara, I need to water my cactus, too. :) Thanks for stopping by.

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  5. This is an excellent post and interview! And oh-so-timely. Not only have I recently posted photos of cacti on my profile from a recent trip, I also wrote a song called "This New Year" about closing one door behind and following your dreams!

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    1. Sally, thanks for visiting with Lisa and me. It's pure awesome when God opens another door when we're convinced all doors are shut tight against us.

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    2. One of my favorite verses of the last few years is from Philippians about forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what is ahead. What a great God we serve.

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  6. Fascinating post! I learned a lot about Christmas Cactus care. Mine are doing okay, but they'll get some extra TLC from now on.

    God infuses His creation with so many lessons. Thanks for your insights.

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    1. I love how God provides glimpses of His Self into the natural world if we have but the eyes to see and understand. Thanks for joining in the conversation.

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  7. P.S. My email address is susanjreinhardt AT gmail DOT com

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    1. Susan, you're such a joy to see here.

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  8. A friend of mine gave me a Christmas cactus, because they're
    easy to take care of. Wow! I didn't know I should be not watering
    mine in the fall or putting it in a dark room. Miraculously, mine
    has bloomed twice, once at the holidays and just a few weeks ago!

    I, too, am someone who dreamt of writing since childhood
    and just had my first contract last year. It's been quite
    the journey. Thanks for sharing, Lisa

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    1. Hi, Kathy. I smiled when I saw the comment was from you. May you have many more contracts!

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    2. So glad to hear about your 1st contract. Congratulations on all your hard work. Bless your heart on all the hard but great work ahead. :)

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  9. Sounds like a really awesome book. Bonnie Traher 26 North Mill Street,West Nanticoke,Pa 18634 momtr3@yahoo.com

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    1. Welcome to Everyone's Story, Bonnie. Glad Lisa's book appeals to you. You may also want to check out her other novels.

      Hope to see you again.

      Easter blessings.

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  10. As always, it's been a great week at Everyone's Story. I appreciate not only my guest--Lisa Carter--but the viewers who have taken the time to visit. I can only hope that you all have gained as much encouragement as I have.

    Lisa, thank you tons for your appearance this week. I appreciate your blog presence, especially during a holiday. I believe it's safe to say that there are now a bunch of us who have tucked the saying "there's no expiration date on dreams" under our hearts. Thank you!

    And thanks for the Giveaway special of your novel BENEATH A NAVAJO MOON. The winner is…

    Susan. Yea, Susan! Happy reading. Both Lisa and I will contact you directly in private emails.

    Easter blessings to all.

    Elaine

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    1. Thank you Elaine for hosting Beneath a Navajo Moon and me this week. Thanks to everyone to stopped by to chat, too. Have a wonderful Easter. And keep dreaming those dreams.

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