Trial Run

I guess you could say I’m on a “trial run” this week. I’m finishing the revisions of my legal drama manuscript so I can put it in the mail. It’s the first time I’ve felt like a real deadline loomed over me. So this week is a test. Can I handle it? Can my family?

I have to admit, God has been abundantly gracious in giving me this particular week as a trial run. One child is out of town for three days. My sister fixed us dinner one night. It’s the last week of football so I don’t have kids from 8 am to 5 pm and the last game is Saturday instead of Tuesday.

I’m making much better progress than I expected, although I still have a ways to go. I know it is the result of so many people praying for me this week. (I owe you big time!) My dry eyes have endured four hour stretches of staring at the computer. The words have flowed. Plot points have crystallized.

And I’ve finally, after six years of trying to write consistently, hit on a schedule that works for me: three to four hours on, two hours off—preferably away from the house, then three to fours hours on, etc. Okay, so it probably wouldn’t work for weeks on end, but I know now that I can make that work in crunch time.

So think of me this week, hunkered down in my dining room, pages spread all over the table, the desk chair behind the table, typing away. I hope to come up for air by this weekend!


Belated Blog Birthday Bash

(Don’t you love alliteration?)

I can’t believe I missed my blog birthday! A year ago—October 5, 2005, to be exact—my blog entered the world.

I wondered if anyone would read it. I wondered if I would have anything to say.

Amazingly, I’ve found things to say. Even more amazingly, I’ve found readers in the most unusual places. I’ve found other writers who share their words with me while I share mine with them. I’ve found out that friends and family, unbeknownst to me, keep up with me here. Some of you I’ve met face-to-face. Some I hope to meet in the future.

And since so many of my friends, old and new, blog also, for this birthday, I’d like to give you all a present: I’m going to expand my links list to include all the blogs I frequent these days—albeit weekly now instead of daily, due to the growing list. So look for the expanded list by this weekend. Maybe your name will be on it. (Or maybe you need to tell me you’re here and I’ll start reading you, too.)

Thank you for encouraging me this year. I hope in some small way my words have encouraged you.

Happy birthday to my blog!

I love it that you meet me here.


To Move Forward or Stay Still?

I’ll admit it. I’m afraid.

It’s not like I haven’t been rejected before. Many times, in fact. But there is something about an agent’s rejection that hurts worse.

I know that doesn’t make much sense. After all, just because an agent wants to represent you doesn’t mean you will get published. Or at least, not anytime soon. But there’s this gut feeling I have that I won’t get published until I have an agent—someone out there schmoozing on my behalf, championing my work, getting it in front of publishers.

But I can’t get an agent until I actually sent query letters to them. And here’s where the fear has paralyzed me. There are three names swimming around in my head. Two I’ve met at conferences. One would be a completely cold query. In all three cases, I’ve procrastinated sending anything.


Am I afraid of more rejection by agents? It feels so much more personal from an agent. Or is it the opposite? Am I really afraid that I’m getting close, that one of these people will actually say the words “I want to represent you”? Am I more afraid of failure—or success?

The fact of the matter is that after over three years of sending out my work to be considered for contests and publication, I’m used to failure. I’m okay with it. It doesn’t devastate me like it did at first. It just seems par for the course. Sure, I’ve had some successes along the way with short stories and articles, and that has felt good. But I’m comfortable here.

What if my book is really at the publishable point? I’ve listened to so many published authors relate struggles with deadlines and edits and marketing and sales numbers that I don’t have a romantic view of publishing anymore. In fact in many ways, it terrifies me.

So what to do? Quit? Stay in my comfort zone? Or keep moving forward, in spite of my fear? If I’ve learned anything in my life over the past few years, it’s that God works in my weakness. He uses my fear to draw me to Him and to keep me humble. If He has truly called me to this—to writing—then I have no choice. I have to walk the road, in spite of my fear.

I have to move forward and trust the Lord who sees what lies around the bend.


Connectivity Issues

I can't use my DSL. Apparently my modem is defective. My 5-month-old modem. The helpful people at AT&T informed me it would be 5-7 business days before my new one will arrive. No possiblity of overnighting the thing. Not even if I paid for it. "It's in the system, ma'am. There's nothing we can do to speed it up." Now it's dial up or use someone else's. So I'm at my parents house right now.

The thing is, in this day and age, with our dependence on the Internet for business (my husband often works from home, as do I) and schools (grades, emailing teachers, homework updates, etc), you'd think the companies would understand that even a day without access is more than just inconvenient. You could miss something important! And of course we have delivery companies that span the globe in a matter of hours, but apparently AT&T refuses to use them--even if it means happier customers. The almighty dollar still reigns supreme in American corporations. And we all pay with our time.

I wish I could switch--take my business elsewhere--but with the hassle of the changeover and the fact that we have an entire package of services with them, I don't think it will happen. Instead, I'll spend the next few days fuming as I travel around in search of an internet connection, praying the UPS driver pulls up to my house sooner than expected.


Continuation on a Theme

Continuing on the theme of my previous post, writers as friends, I finished Wishing on Dandelions by Mary DeMuth last night. Unlike the others mentioned in my last post—authors who are friends in my mind, not in the sense of a mutually giving friendship—Mary is a true friend. A what’s-going-on-in-your-life friend. An I’ll-pray-for-you friend. A let’s-room-together-at-the-conference friend.

What a privilege to cheer a friend from obscurity to acclaimed publication, to know and understand her progress from conception of the story (non-fiction or fiction) to finished product—5 times! I find such joy in my friend Mary as a person. And that joy overflows into my friend Mary as a writer.

I read Wishing on Dandelions for the first time as it spilled from Mary’s head onto the page. The second time, I read the entire book in almost one sitting—just before she turned it in to the publisher.

This time, I held an actual book in my hands and savored the experience. The language still enthralled me. And the story moved me yet again.

Maranatha’s story continues from Watching the Tree Limbs, but now Maranatha is 17, on the cusp of womanhood, and still dealing with the pain of the past. But in spite of hard times, and fear of good times, she ultimately comes to realize that Jesus does love her, even though His love is sometimes of the “I want you to grow” kind.

To watch Maranatha struggle and change from the first page to the last reminds me that we all have “green ‘mater years,” as Mama Frankie says—years when we are not quite ripe yet, years when someone or some circumstance wants to pluck us before we are ready. But like Maranatha, we must come to an unshakeable faith in Jesus’s love. We must come to understand that our difficulties don’t prove God is against us, they re-emphasize His love for us. At a pivotal time in my own life, I felt the Lord say “I love you so much that I can’t let you remain where you are.” That same theme comes through loud and clear in Maranatha’s story.

Read it. You will laugh. You will cry. But most of all, you will come away encouraged that God is there, He is working, and His love for you overarches it all.


Authors as Friends

There is a coffee mug at Barnes and Noble that one of these days I’m going to buy. It says, “Choose an author as you would a friend.” I love that. In fact, it is the way I choose many of the contemporary authors I read.

It’s why I love going to conferences and meeting writers. Of course, the real issue is that I’m a cheapskate. I don’t want to pay $10, $15, $20 for a book and then hate it. So I wait. But even good reviews don’t push me over the edge the way connecting with an author does. Whether listening to their heart as they teach or connecting through actual conversation, when I find an author I enjoy as a person, I’m much more inclined to spend my money on their book. That’s why I bought my first Brandilyn Collins book a couple of years ago, even though I’m really not a suspense reader, and a Randy Ingermanson book, even though time travel isn’t my niche either. It was the same with Meredith Efken, Rene Gutteridge, Kristen Billerbeck, and others. When I read their books, it is like listening to a friend.

So I came home from the conference with a whole new group of friends for my bookcase. Susan Meissner, Deanna Gist, Susan May Warren, Deborah Gypanog. And each one is calling to me as a friend.