Thursday, March 29, 2007

Into the Pool

In October, I submitted the following essay in a writers' conference scholarship contest. Tomorrow morning, I'm off to the conference!

I believe the Mount Hermon Conference is perfect for me at this time in my writing because ...

… my toes ache.
I stand at the edge of a diving board, peering into the pool of publishing. The bottom looks so far away. I grip the edge of the board with my toes, as if they can keep me from falling. Once I jump, will I be able to stay afloat? Can I out swim the schools of piranhas circling below? If someone would just give me a shove, I would find out.

About two years ago, I started writing a novel. A story burned inside me that I had to put down on paper. By no means would I say it was an inspired book, since it was full of all the classic flaws—POV problems, too many adverbs, little dialog—but the process drove me to seek the help I needed, help I found in the form of a critique group. My fellow writers encouraged me and tore my writing apart. They helped shape my story into a full novel, ready to present at a conference.

But which conference? Money, always an issue, meant I could only choose one. I listened to the way my group leader spoke of Mount Hermon as if it were the Mecca of Christian writers and I pictured scaling the mountain’s summit. But not right away.

I looked at several options, but ended up settling on a regional conference which I could attend with my mom who was also in the throes of her first writing venture. I sat across from editors and agents who all said, “I like your writing style and your ideas, but this book just doesn’t fit our market.”

Undeterred, I returned home and cranked out another book manuscript, this time focusing on realistic people in an American setting. The next year, I attended the same regional conference and again received encouraging words about the quality of my writing, but didn’t find a publisher.

What I did hear from several people, in different words, was this: You are on the brink of being published (thus the pool analogy). You will have books published. But you need to get out, network, meet more people in the industry and make connections with the people who are looking for books like yours.

The best way to do that is to attend conferences. But until I am published, I have no writing income to support a conference habit. So, while I dreamed of attending Mount Hermon and other large gatherings of Christian authors, I imagined my dream could not be fulfilled for many years. Until I heard of Cec’s generous offer.

I am a writer, one who writes because I can’t not write. I’m eager to take the plunge into the writing and publishing industry. I would dearly love this chance to take swimming lessons from those who are already in the pool.

Just give me a little shove.

Monday, March 26, 2007


"Your last blog entry was benign."

I lay in bed at one o'clock this morning thinking about the word. It wasn't meant as an insult, but not as a compliment either. It was just a statement to say that my last few entries have been flatter than usual. That's by design. I've been in the middle of several forums of miscommunication lately and I've been too tired to fight in the blogging arena.

Do you think the Apostle Paul ever shrunk back from saying what he thought? He was a pretty feisty communicator, yet he still begged for prayers for boldness. Even Jesus, who never backed down from a fight, who never missed an opportunity to teach, sought alone time throughout his years of ministry.

I dance a little dance on the high wire of Blog Land. I write what I think, then go back and reflect. I respond to comments or I bite my tongue. I say something heavy, then counter with something light.


Gentle. Self-limiting. Not dangerous.

Not exactly the word a writer likes to hear.

But I have two friends this month who would have loved to hear the word come from a doctor's mouth. Instead they heard the other word.


Two women I've known for years and years. Two friends who face the same fight over the coming months-- the race against breast cancer. Surgery, chemo-therapy, radiation, hair loss. And despite their fear or their weariness, they won't back down. Because these women have courage. They have courage and they have husbands and family who will stand beside them every step of the way.

All I can say right now is, let's pray to the God who hears our prayers. Let's pray for Pam and Jane.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Timely Arrival

My flowers arrived in the mail yesterday.

50 dormant plants all fit in a box the size of an Amazon book box. But with so much potential, I couldn't wait to get them in the ground.
So I rallied the troops. I had Dad and my husband out shoveling compost, tilling the ground and hauling dirt across town to my garden bed.
It's spring! It's time to plant!
Except it's also 30 degrees this morning... which means my little flower garden is going to have to wait a few more days for the temperature to catch up with the season.


I just did a little updating on my Blogroll and I plan to add more and sort them.

A lot of really nice people seem to be moving out of the neighborhood. How's the weather over in WordPress land?

Monday, March 19, 2007

All the Way to the Top

I should have known that the thing to put my alma mater on the map would have to do with drug reference and defiance. That was the status quo when I was there. Between all the phony fire drills and prank bomb threats, it's amazing any of us got an education.

Kids in my class said stupid things all the time. They got suspended a lot, too. But, to my knowledge, none ever took the school to court for squashing their right to free speech. To read about how one student's "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" sign has taken the issue of a student's right to freedom of speech and expression before the highest court in the land, click here.

I wonder what it was really like that day as the Olympic torch was carried from person to person through the Southeast Alaskan streets. It sounds like Frederick's sign didn't cause that much stir among the students who lined the parade route, but it did make an impression on the principal. I wonder how far Frederick and his family would have pushed their case without the help of some big time lawyers.

Which brings me to another case. At a local high school a few weeks ago, a group of students was suspended for praying in school. At least that's the way it was reported on the local news. From what I've read since, though, it seems that their suspension was not a result of their prayer, but of their refusal to move the prayer out of the flow of traffic and into a classroom. The students are now back at school and have moved their prayer place to a sidewalk just off school grounds.

For the students, it sounds like the fight is over. They found a solution which allows them to continue praying without defying school authority. I wonder, though, if the Liberty Counsel will follow through on its threat to sue the school district. I wonder what other seemingly innocuous events are taking place around us that will eventually shape the law of the land.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Dirty Fingernails

Last week my nails were long and white, clean and buffed. This week, they're split, short, and dirty and they feel great.

After cooping myself up in the warm house all winter, it was great to get outside and dig in the dirt for the first time. I'm preparing the ground for a new European cutting garden. I've never done flowers before (except dandelions) and I'm looking forward to adding a little color to my life.

I've got a l-o-o-o-ng way to get to have my garden beds ready, but my vegetable seeds arrived weeks ago and the strawberry plants might come today, along with a house plant and some garlic starts.

Spring is in the air!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Where in the World?

I want to go somewhere... almost anywhere would do. Anywhere except the grocery store and the gas station, that is. Here are some places on my wish list. What's on yours?

New Zealand

Saturday, March 10, 2007

confession is good for the goal

At what point did politicians start assuming that we're all a bunch of blithering idiots? Since when is it okay to make a confession just so you can do whatever you want?

I think it started, this week at least, with the news that Obama had paid off his outstanding parking tickets before announcing his candidacy. Perhaps we all chuckled a bit and thought, what a good idea to clear the slate before someone else finds those pesky parking tickets and brings them up. Better to start things off clean than to be outed and embarrassed on down the line. Because, of course, presidents can be made or broken by one mistake or one wrong word.

(Take, for example, Senator Joe Biden, who killed his candidacy the first day with these words: "I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man.")

Parking tickets are one thing, but Newt Gingrich? That's a whole 'nother story. It's not the fact that he's had affairs. Lots of politicians (and for that matter, lots of ordinary folks) have. It's not even that he was having an affair while pursuing Bill Clinton's impeachment for having an affair and lying about it.

No, for me, the idiocy of Gingrich's plan lies in his assumption that the public has a short memory. If Obama can pay off his parking tickets and remain a political rock star, why can't Gingrich confess a few little things, clean the slate of past mistakes, and return to his old Man Of The Year status?

Does he think we can't discern the motives for his confession? Is there any way he would have confessed if he wasn't testing the waters for his chances for presidency? Are we ready for a year and a half of campaign promises and muddy waters?

Oh, but I'm sorry. I heard he wasn't running.

"I am not 'running' for president. I am seeking to create a movement to win the future by offering a series of solutions so compelling that if the American people say I have to be president, it will happen."

Good start.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A New Generation

My five-year old has given me some different perspectives on the world as she sees it. She's known how to operate a mouse since she was two and a touch pad shortly after that. She listens to The Wiggles on an MP3 player and knows how to work a microwave. She's never lived in a world without remotes and DVDs and cordless phones.

I was reading her a story this morning. "Pause the book," she said. "I have to go get something."

The other day we were driving somewhere and I pulled up to a stop sign.

"S-T-O-P. That spells STOP," she informed me. As I pulled away, she observed, "The sign didn't change. It still said STOP. If that kind of sign can't turn to go, you have to just stay stopped and then you'll always be stuck."

Monday, March 05, 2007

A Collective Gasp

This morning on a field trip, the docent gave an introductory speech to our home school co-op group.

"...and you know what's the coolest thing about our museum? Our floors are 600 million years old! Isn't that cool?"

The hair on the back of my head got sucked backwards as all the mothers and a few of the children gasped. At least they gasped quietly.

I don't know how old the earth is, but I do know who made it. I have the strong sense that by gasping when people say something we don't agree with, we're not going to get very far in conversation with them. I may know there is truth and non-truth, light and darkness, holiness and depravity, but if I stand so strong on the RIGHT that I can't get through a conversation without being either offended or condescending, I'll never get a chance to share why Jesus is the answer.

We Christians have a reputation as being know-it-alls and nobody wants to take advice from a know-it-all. I'm hoping to become more of a "know some of the important stuff-er" who is still in process of seeking, learning and maturing. And I'm looking for people who might want to learn and seek and grow with me.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens

Irish Breakfast Tea.

Literary Fiction.

Periwinkle blue.

Chocolate and raspberry.

Inspirational music.

Warm fuzzy socks.

A good, firm back massage.

An afternoon with friends.

Fruit fresh off the tree.

Salt water air.

A well-turned phrase.

The scent of gardenia.

A hand-written letter.

These are a few of my favorite things.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

good news, bad news

The good news is, I'm not a hypochondriac.

The bad news is, those two sore teeth are sore for a reason.

The good news is, it doesn't look like the decay on the back one has reached the root.

The bad news is, we won't know until we take the old filling off and get in there.

The good news is, the front tooth is not cracked above the gum line.

The bad news is, it is cracked and will need repair if I'm ever going to be able eat ice cream, drink a cold drink, or smile in the winter.

The good news is, I live in a country that offers me solutions other than "live with it" or "let's pull those suckers out."

The bad news is, by the time we pay for the two repairs, I might as well live in a third world country.