Monthly Archives: March 2016

2016 Mount Hermon

I admit. I’m on information overload after a fantabulous trip to Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. I promised some fantastic writerly friends a post with pics. And while this post is neither a review nor rambling opinion, I hope it’ll give you a glimpse into my trek towards getting my book published. Or even looked at.  🙂

 

My trip to Mount Hermon in 2015 was sad. Anyone who knows me and my extrovert style would be shocked to know how q.u.i.e.t. I passed the five days. Yeah, I chatted with my friend and roomie, Hannah, but I had my own reasons to question why I had even attended.

 

When they offered a discount for an early bird registration for 2016, I plunked down my money because, for lack of a better reason, I just knew God wanted me to come back.

 

Fast forward a year. Two months before I leave, I decide to pitch everything from last year out of the proverbial window. I focused on a new story and prayed for a heart change.

 

Hannah and I began our journey on St. Patrick’s Day. When her Oldest Gal called, I was worried. Right up until I heard Hannah say, “No, I don’t have on any green. Oh wait, there’s some on my necklace.”

 

We yammered on and on. Stopped for lunch and some Disney store shopping. Back on the road, we swapped opinions, bounced story ideas and shared from our hearts. In fact, we talked so much that I nearly missed our turn off for Highway 17!

 

Heehee…I had a plan. My sweet friend Hannah loves the ocean. And while I couldn’t get a hotel anywhere close to “her” beaches, I chose a little dive across the sidewalk from the Pacific and right next to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

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We walked on the beach, talking. Shocking, right? Me? Talk? Shhhh.  Here’s our selfie! I pulled a Popeye.

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I’d never been on the pier, so we were adventurous and walked to the verrrrrry end. Good thing because we found a little restaurant with a $10 shrimp and fries basket. If you see Hannah, ask her about the seagull. 🙂

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The next day, we made our way to Mount Hermon. We are a bit geeky in the fact that we like to be there at 9, almost exactly. Like the old Mervyn’s commercials: open, open, open. The gracious front counter gave us our keys and off we went, up the steep hill to Sequoia 5. Here’s Hannah taking pictures. She took oodles of pictures.

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Look at my new friend! Found him while making my bed. No, I did not release him back into the wild.

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I had the privilege of meeting and having several classes and meals with Francine Rivers. She is truly a humble and phenomenal woman. I wasn’t stalking her, but ended up walking to and from places near her. This is the closest I got to being a lurker, because I loved her umbrella (on the right). I was too embarrassed to ask for a picture with her.

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I took the mentoring track with Sarah Sundin. I adore her. She knew how to guide, encourage and push me. Here we are with Sandi Banks, also from our mentoring class. We totally forgot to have a class picture. (Sorry Libby and Mike!)

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And I had inspiration! (and cute nail polish from my friend Amy!)

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This is Marci Seither. Honest to goodness, she was someone I wanted to meet last year because she was always having fun. So I did it this year! I sat with her at lunch and was blessed to visit with her. She’s even coming up to Redding to host canning classes! I’ll keep you informed.

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Joanne Bischof. This woman has blessed me in more ways than she knows. She and Amanda Dykes had a wonderful class this year on critique partners. If you haven’t read her latest book, To Get to You, get thee to Amazon. You can’t borrow mine…it’s signed.

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Oh wait! Here’s Kara Swanson, Hannah, me and Joanne!

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Say hi to Tara Johnson. She writes nonfiction and devotionals, but as you can see, we are totally cut from the same cloth.

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This lovely lady is Leann Barna. She cracks me up. She had a night owl session about script reading. She encouraged writers to submit Christian screenplays because they are getting snapped up. I had the best time whenever I was near her. We have a few pictures together…like 20.

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The fog descended on the last evening. It was enchanting. This is the pathway from the bookstore to the chapel, all lovely and glowing.

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I came away refreshed. Made some great contacts and even better friends. I stretched myself personally and sat at tables where I knew no one. Handed out lots of business cards and collected even more. Stayed up until midnight every night with Hannah and “R,” my conference kid.

 

Hannah’s post from her perspective is here. She brought a Zelf. There may or may not be shenanigans involving Petal next year. I can’t promise anything because I don’t even know if I’ll remember by then.

FullSizeRenderI want to point out that my spellchecker didn’t even trip up on the word “fantabulous.” And yup…already put a deposit down for 2017. I can’t wait to go back!

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When You’re a Loser

There was nothing phenomenal about Thing 1’s basketball season this year. In fact, my frustration rolled in waves as they lost game after game. Her team won exactly zero games this season. As a parent, I had to be her cheerleader, her example of how she should act. I failed.

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Too often, my irritation got the best of me. It would do no one any good for me to rehash my reasons or explanations, my excuses, whether justified or not. But this is true—I certainly was not the godly model from Phillipians 4:8:

 

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

 

Ever mindful, I tied the losses to coined phrases like: “Sometimes you don’t win in life and you have to keep trying” or “Just because you lose, doesn’t mean that you stop trying.” Really…I was that cliché. Blech.

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When the painful season ended, we all heaved a sigh of relief. It was done. No more forty point losses. Thing 1 would try again with a local AU team. Maybe it would be less painful. Maybe not. Either way, we put the regular season behind us and moved on.

 

This morning, as I was headed out the door to drop off the spawn at school before heading to Mount Hermon, Hubs sent me a strange text:

 

“Have Thing 1 look at this link before you drop her off.”

 

Lo and behold, a little miracle for Thing 1. She was named to the All-League team. My heart squeezed when her eyes filled with tears—someone besides her family saw her efforts. Epic letdown, continual rejection, resulted in eventual triumph.

 

Her moment lit a fire within me, as I got on the road for this conference. Last year, I ended up with a monumental face palm. Then there were the rejections. But then there was learning and being honest with myself about this trip. Maybe it’ll be less painful. Maybe not. Either way, I’m sure God has an eventual plan for my writing. And that’s pretty exciting.


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In honor of the release of Mockingjay Part 2 to DVD and BluRay while I’m at Mount Hermon, I’m going to put up a post I forgot about back in November…

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So there I was…in line three hours before the Mockingjay Part 2 started. Ain’t no big thing for me. I don’t like arriving just before the movie starts. Something freaks me out about not having an entire theater to choose my seat(s). I was in good company; the eldest spawn of my friend conveniently has his birthday around this time of year. Last year, we were in line for Mockingjay1. Yes—we were three hours early. This time, the brood had expanded and included more adults and more younglings. Woohoo!!! The culmination of the Hunger Games franchise was here at last! Bring it.

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Don’t read past this point if you haven’t read the books or seen the movie. Because you’re about to be spoiled if you do. The low-downs: PG-13 for violence (gobs of it), and a run time of 137 minutes. But, ta-da, it includes the book’s epilogue!

 

Finally, Katniss gets to go after President Snow! We get to meet Tigress and lament Finnick. Oh Finnick…

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Saw a review before I went to see the movie itself, since I already knew the ending. I had to laugh as it blabbered on about MJ2 being “dark” and “depressing.” Dude, Mr. Reviewer? Read the book. I can tell you that Thing 1 and I knew Finnick’s demise was coming from the moment they stepped off of the ladder and it didn’t make it any less palatable. We were disappointed in the interpretation of the mutts, but that was just our subjectivity. We both thought the mutts would be similar to the first film, not lizard people.

 

Had a flare of anger in the theatre when some of the viewers were laughing as Effie said goodbye. She is, bar none, my favorite Hunger Games character. There is so much to her the reader doesn’t know, but her untold story makes me appreciate the depth of her character. So shush, random people in the dark theatre—you’re not invested in a fantastic fictional character. I am. You see her fluttery eyelash as hilarious and I see her attempt to find herself. *end rant*

 

My solitary bones to pick? Who picked Peeta’s hair for the epilogue scene?! Were they blind? It was hideous. And they cut out Joanna’s role to the point of non-existence. MEH.


Never Giving up on my Unicorns

Today, I spoke with a family member who has been diagnosed with a fatal disease. She has less than two years to live. In visiting, she shared with me her plans to travel and see friends—to make good memories for her husband. She didn’t want to be like the hospice patients she used to tend, filled with “I wish I would have…”

 

I laughed through my tears as she rambled on about cleaning out the basement so her husband wouldn’t have to (“I mean, she who has the most yarn doesn’t win.”). I held my breath as she fought through her own tears when saying that she still wanted to skydive and zipline. This woman, even though facing the enormity of an incurable disease, still wants to live and make life better for those around her.

 

Further into our conversation, I was asking when her appointment with an out-of-state hospital will be for the possibility of experimental medications. As it happens, it will be the day I return from Mount Hermon.

 

“What is Mount Hermon?”

 

“Oh, it’s a writer’s conference. I wrote a book and have another started. Actually, a few more.”

 

“You mean…you’re an author? Like you wrote a book?”

 

And like a rod of lightning, God used her words to show me that I am walking next to her in my own way: I want to live and I want to make life better for those around me. It’s nearly the exact reason I started writing last year!

 

“It’s really not a big deal. I’m not even published.”

 

“Yes, but you did it. You finished it. You didn’t give up.”

 

Here, I had called her to encourage her and she ended up being my cheerleader. We are going to meet up in a couple of months and I’m hoping to surprise her and find someplace nearby to go ziplining, maybe even skydiving. It would be my good memory.

 

On a wall in my house are the words: Live, Laugh, Love.

 

I don’t believe for a minute that the Lord fearfully and wonderfully made us to stand still. Some He will call home early while others linger. If God has put a calling in your heart, whether to write devotionals, lead Sunday School, go overseas on a missions trip or anything else “huge,” let go and follow Him.

 

As a writer, I can honestly say rejections suck and meeting agents and editors is terrifying. I don’t know if I’ll every be published traditionally…but I’m taking the path God has put in front of me. I stub my toe. I fall down. And I get up. Still chasing my unicorn, though!

 

“People always say life is too short for regrets. But the truth is, it’s too long.” ― Sarah Addison Allen

 

After my hanging up with my family member, I couldn’t say it any better.


Three Broke Models…The Original Bachelorettes

So Thing 1 and I try to catch a classic film once a month. Last month, “How to Marry a Millionaire” graced our “we-are-the-last-family-to-not-own-a-huge-flat-screen” television. I cringe to admit that I’ve never watched a Marilyn Monroe film all the way through. She’s such and icon, a historical enigma, and so I figured this would be good break-in. Thing 2 hopped on the opposite couch and joined in for the Cinemascope wonder. Take it away, Wikipedia:

 

“The film stars Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe, and Lauren Bacall as three gold diggers, along with William Powell, David Wayne, Rory Calhoun, and Cameron Mitchell. Betty Grable received top billing in the screen credits but Marilyn Monroe’s name was first in all advertising, including the trailer.”

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Of course, these ladies are all models by trade. The film jumps in like a good book, in the middle of a plot, where Schatze (Lauren Bacall) rents a penthouse from a man on the run from the IRS. Pola (Marilyn Monroe) and Loco (Betty Grable) are her lucky roommates. They sit on the balcony and get down to the nitty gritty of how one of them needs to marry a millionaire. Simply put, it’s a business deal. Snag a rich guy, live the life of luxury. Easy.

 

Not so much. Fantastic clips show furniture disappearing, pawned to pay for groceries. Schatze simply explains it away to her target. I mean, who wouldn’t agree with a knock-out living in a penthouse that she sent her furniture for cleaning?

 

Schatze finds herself pestered by Tom, a man who paid for the groceries when Loco “forgot” her wallet. Schatze wants none of his attentions, as he isn’t who she is hunting. She’s a woman on a mission and turns down his offer of marriage, clueless to the fact he is a multimillionaire.

 

Pola is the comedic relief and Marilyn did a great job of portraying the extremely nearsighted model who hates to wear her glasses because, “Men aren’t attentive to girls who wear glasses.” She falls for a grifter and ends up on a wrong plane due to her lack of eyewear, where she meets “quite a strudel” sitting next to her. It was a pleasure to hear that line delivered in typical, breathy Marilyn style.

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Loco tries to find her millionaire, but ends up head over heels for a poor, yet ruggedly handsome forest ranger. Her storyline is almost boring and both of the spawn and I agree that her acting was somewhat flat.

 

Pola and Loco both end up getting hitched to their men over the weekend. Maybe in 1953, it there were wedding chapels everywhere. They both come back to the penthouse, where Schatze is about to marry her millionaire, a man twice her age. And just before the ceremony, she announces that she can’t go through with it because…she’s in love with Tom, the grocery dude. Tom happens to be at the wedding and so they get hitched on the spot.

 

The film ends up at a burger joint, all three couples at the counter. Schatze jokes with the other two men about their net worth, which are tiny. Tom pipes up and says he’s worth 200 million, which everyone takes as a joke—until he pulls out a $1,000 bill and tells the chef to keep the change.

 

Do they even make $1,000 bills? Yes…yes, they did!

 

If you have a couple of hours to kill, this is a decent classic. I would not put it in the realm of “Roman Holiday” or “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” but it’s worth a single watch, especially for Marilyn Monroe’s silly role.

 

As, a LOVELY footnote, Wikipedia as says: “In 2007, Nicole Kidman bought the rights to “How to Marry a Millionaire” under her production company Blossom Films, and is set to produce and possibly star in a remake.” Well, maybe it’s just taking a long time to cast the film…


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