Thursday, March 22, 2018

To the Writers Who've Gone Before...

My manuscript is ready.
I'm querying agents.
This is the part I've been dreading.
Selling my story (Selling myself).
It seems boastful and showy to "talk up" my story.
How does one remain humble and sell their story?
One of the synonyms for humble is unambitious.
I am not unambitious.
So I must learn to put myself and my story out there.

I will start by thanking the writers who paved the way for me.

I'd like to thank the writers who've gone before...
Who have shared what they've learned about the writing process with other writers via their blog, an interview and in books filled with gems of wisdom.
Who have shared how to to write fearlessly, with color and texture and brevity.
Your generosity has helped me immensely.

I'd like to thank the writers who've gone before...
Who griped and moaned and complained about writing a synopsis.  Their words of angst, anger and utter aggravation have helped me feel normal and validated as I delete lines of writing.
Why is this so hard?  I wrote the novel, surely I re-tell the story in a nutshell...or within a couple of pages...ugh.

I'd like to thank the writers who've gone before and have generously shared the process of querying agents.
Who have waited and suffered rejection.
Who wrote about the upset and their endurance and perseverance.
Who have shared that sometimes it takes a long time to find that perfect combination of story, timing, agent, publisher and audience.
I'm prepared to be patient.

Because of your willingness to share your experience, writers like me feel better prepared for the process and possibilities of publishing our work.  Thank you.

Now, back to work...

Friday, March 2, 2018

Senior Discounts...Oh my...

Last week I went to Macy's and made a purchase.
The saleswoman said, "I love your hair!"
The compliment was especially meaningful to me because I recently cut the last strands of color from my's all natural.
Translation: Gray.
My hair is also naturally curly which does inspire a compliment or two on occasion but since the gray transition was recently completed, deep down I hoped she meant the color.
"Is that natural curl?" she asked.
So much for hope.
"Yes. The curl and the color is natural," I said.
"Well, I figured the color was natural but your face is so young, the gray looks great!" 
She is by far the best saleswoman EVER.
I thanked her and went on my way with a smile on my youthful face.
I stopped at Goodwill on the way home and purchased a book.
"Are you a senior?" The unsmiling checker looked at me, waiting for a reply.
I was still soaring from the "young face" comment.
I crashed to earth and said, (perhaps a bit too enthusiastically) "NO!"
I cheerfully added, "But I'll take the discount anyway."
He gave me the discount.
I choose to believe he was being nice, not that he thought I was lying about being a senior.
Because the truth is, I'm NOT a senior!

My best friend sent me this message last night:
"I just received my very first, completely unsolicited SENIOR DISCOUNT.
I don't know whether to be appreciative, or to cry!!"
I laughed (a knowing laugh).
She sent me a picture of her receipt.
That hit to the ego saved her a measly quarter.
We messaged back and forth about the irony of the senior discount.
It's not fun being on the precipice of a new "identity".
(For the record, I think 55 is a little young to be called a senior citizen.)
It's always a young kid offering the senior discount...a kid who has decades to go before he'll be accused of being a senior.
How could he possibly have the skill set necessary to identify a senior citizen with a quick glance?
He can't. He doesn't.
My friend said, "Asking someone as young as we are if they're a senior is like asking a fat lady when her baby is due. It is only through age and experience that we learn not to assume anything...a rookie mistake made by young people and oblivious old men."
She's always had a knack for comparisons.
She added, "We should embrace aging gracefully and enjoy the perks along the way.
She's absolutely right.
I've always loved a discount!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Why I'm writing a novel...

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
John 21:25

I stumbled upon this verse this morning.  And by stumbled upon, I mean I was looking something up and mistook a two for a five and read John 21:25 instead of John 21:22. 
This was a blessing to my heart.
I am nearing the end of writing and revising my novel.
Why am I writing a novel titled:  The Grace Writers?
Because I am a recipient of lavish grace.
Because I want others to know the grace that is available to them.
Because I want to illustrate (with words) that nobody can out-sin grace.
Because I love the Lord so much, I can't keep this knowledge to myself.
Because I love people so much, I can't keep this knowledge to myself.
THAT is why I'm writing a novel.
And then this by mistake...but exactly what I needed to read.
This is why I'm writing...
I'm writing just one of the books that will tell of some of the things Jesus has done...
One of the books with some of the things, 
Because if they were all written down, the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018


          I originally wrote this post over a year ago. Today, I'm still revising. 
          A published author once told me that her first novel was the hardest and took a very long time. She said that she learned so much during that first novel, the others flowed much more easily from the first. That's encouraging, but for now I struggle to get the first one right. 
          Writing a novel is a test of will. I will do this. I will, I will, I will...
              I was talking to a friend about the message of my novel.  The story has many messages I suppose, but perhaps the most important one is the message of grace.  I want to share the truth that no one of us is better than another; that we are flawed and imperfect and perfectly redeemable.  
            I filled my story with imperfect people making mistakes and doing harm.  One character, though, remained less tainted than the rest.  Claire—my main character.  She was a little anxious, but otherwise filled with faith and good will.  Bless her.  What a gem. 
            My beta readers weren’t as impressed with Claire as I was.  They said she was boring.  They said she lacked excitement.  They said she was too safe.  She was. She is the stay-at-home mom married to the cop who always had a wonderful attitude about life’s challenges.  A Pollyanna.  Yawn.  The thing is, I’m writing what I know, Claire was a cleaned-up version of what I hoped I could be. 
            I am not as wonderful as Claire.  My attitude stinks.  I’ve entertained angry, unkind thoughts about my husband and sometimes I judge people unfairly and I am selfish.  My house is often messy and I waste more time than I’d like to admit and I’ve withheld forgiveness more times than I can count. 
            Claire was fiction at its finest.
            So, I got to work on her.  If my life was the inspiration for Claire, she was going to have to gain some flaws, angst and ugliness.  I was going to have to let her fail.  Allow her to be stupid and selfish and wrong.  She was going to have to suffer shame.  
            Because if I’m going to write about grace, I have to give grace a dark place to go, so the light of grace can shine brightly.
            I showered Claire with flaws and angst and ugliness so that my readers will care and relate and possibly see themselves in her story.  It hurt to do it because I share some of her flaws—what if people think I’ve done those things?  And there it is.  A truth.  People don’t relate to perfect Christians who have it all together and can show us how to have it all together too.  They relate to real, broken, messed up people who had to scrape and scratch their way to God's grace.  What if people think I’m just like Claire (because the resemblances are pretty stunning)?  Well, maybe they’ll relate and feel a sisterhood and realize they can find sweet grace too.  

            I celebrate with Claire as she overcomes the bondage of sin and anger.  I celebrate with her as her eyes open to the joy found in giving and receiving grace.  I have grown along with Claire as I’ve helped her find her way.  
          As the revisions continue, I am thankful for the opportunity to improve my manuscript. I’m even more thankful that in real life, we can revise our story too.  There’s plenty of grace to go around.

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Wisdom of Old Photos

I love to buy old photos, one at a time or in great big lots.
I've accumulated a huge collection of other people's memories.
If you think about it, photos are finite.
Sure, we're taking more photos today than at any time in the past, but...
They're digital.
You don't hold them in your hand unless you're holding your phone.
Paper, covered with an image, a snapshot of the past, are a thing of the past.
That's why I collect them.
I want to learn about and, more importantly, learn from a time long past.
Which brings me to this photo.
I picked it up on a vacation somewhere.
I was drawn to the image of a funeral but more than that, all the flowers.
That's a ridiculous amount of flowers.
You don't see that many arrangements at funerals these days.
I don't know who this person is, likely just a Joe or Joan Average.
I almost didn't buy this photo, but before I threw it back into the pile, I turned it over.
"Again I say - Say it, write it, but please let someone know."
I'm not sure what the writer meant.
Did they mean to tell your family you love them?
Did they want to convey the importance of telling your stories?
Your secrets?
Confessing wrongdoing?
Making amends?
An interesting caption for a heartbreaking photo.

I recently lost my dad.
I took the time to write him a letter before he passed.
I told him how thankful I am that he was my father.
What his influence meant to me in my life.
How precious his relationships with my husband and children were to me...and to them.
How my life was made better because of his presence in it.
And it was good.
He was blessed.
I was comforted to know he knew.
And when he passed, there were no unsaid words.
No unexpressed gratitude.
No regrets.
We don't always know when someone will die, though.

This photo reminds me how important words are...Say it, write it...Please let someone know.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

This Christmas we will remember last Christmas.
Last Christmas, my dad made us all laugh so hard we cried.
We always have a gift exchange.
Every gift last year had to start with the letter F...yes, F.
You're probably asking yourself, what was the most popular F gift?
Fanny packs.
There were four of them.
They were the hit of the exchange.
Christmas 2016 - The year of the Fanny Pack.
So my dad ended up with a Reagan/Bush fanny pack - he loved it. One of the other gifts was fake donuts.
The fanny pack recipients all wanted to pose together and they decided to put the donuts on their fingers for fun.
My dad stuck his middle finger through the donut and held it up.
His middle finger.
It was completely inappropriate but he didn't realize it.
And there he was, an 82-year-old man wearing a Reagan/Bush fanny pack holding up his middle finger to the camera.
Before snapping the shot I asked, "Dad, is that the finger you want to hold up for the photo?"
And then he realized what he was doing and the whole place busted up with laughter.
None of us could stop laughing, least of all him.
It was hilarious.
He looks like he's sneezing but he's not, he's laughing so hard he can't stop.

A photo of my dad with a proper finger through the hole of a donut.
Maybe you had to be there.
But we were all there and we will remember it this Christmas and we will all laugh in spite of missing him so desperately.

Christmas will go on. This year our gift exchange letter is H.
I Hope Hilarity ensues...because I know my Hilarious dad will be laughing right along with us in Heaven.

Thursday, November 23, 2017


There is much to be thankful for on this first Thanksgiving without the man who always carved the turkey...

I'm thankful for the presence of God...
He was with us during our darkest hours this year and made His presence gently known.

I'm thankful for kindness...the kindness of people who quietly do astounding things without the need nor desire for acknowledgement.

I'm thankful for my mother, who has demonstrated strength and grace in her new, more solitary life.

I'm thankful for my siblings and the comfort of knowing that I'm not alone in losing my father...they understand.

I'm thankful for my husband who has dried more tears this year than ever before in our 32 years of marriage...add to the equation, hormone fluctuation and you have a hero right there.

I'm thankful for my kids, who have upped the ante this year for making mom proud...they are doing life well. I'll always think of them as my kids but I think this year it sunk in that they're all grown up...they're adulting hard and well. I am so proud of them.

I'm thankful for "the cousins". I don't think I could have asked for better nieces and the darkest hours they were there...helping and loving and caring. I will never forget it.

I'm thankful for friends who pray, for friends who show up and for friends who read manuscripts and tell me the truth. A friend is a treasure and I am so thankful for each one.

I'm thankful for the nearly 52 years I had with my dad. Rather than be disappointed that he's gone today...I am going to try to be thankful. I'll remember the times he snuck me the first bite of turkey, the way he prayed and thanked God for his family and the food, and his laugh around the dinner table.

And finally (although I could go on and on and on)...
I'm thankful that the turkey will likely be butchered this year...or...perhaps the next turkey carver will rise up and be counted among the legends.