Category Archives: Christian living

Slow Drivers

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve checked in with my twelve readers, so here’s the scoop:

 

I was involved in a confidential matter where a teenage girl feared for her safety. Yes, there is more to that story. No, I won’t tell you…yet. Some people, who saw what was happening from the sidelines judged me harshly, without all of the facts because I cared more for her safety than their need to satisfy their curiosity. I invested my whole self into helping her escape, yet she right back in the same situation today. Exhaustion doesn’t even begin to touch the way I feel. There is an emptiness from my failure, a gaping hole of “You suck.” And though people involved have tried to tell me that I was brave and did everything I could, I still wonder how that beautiful girl will fare in a few weeks—in three months.

 

On the way into work this morning, every.single.car. drove 5-10 miles per hour under the speed limit. I wasn’t late, but it was annoying. Like, making-up-lyrics-to-the-song-on-my-radio-to-make-them-move-faster annoying.

drivers

Then there’s the face palm of a contest. I don’t know why I see a contest and think “That’s a good idea!” It’s the shiny toy I can never have. Every time I read the judges’ comments, I simmer. I thought the contest was based on the writing, not the synopsis. My mental “Bite me!” rears up and I delete the email because I wasted $30. Another fail.

fail

But in the vortex of suckage, there are moments where I laugh and remember God has mercy:

  • Being assigned to review Wonder Woman for Geeks Under Grace (hey, I had the Underoos)
  • And Blade Runner! SQUEEEEEEE!
  • Laughing at Thing 2’s green, chlorine hair
  • Planning a Walt Disney World trip
  • Taking Thing 1 to see “Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man Tell No Tales” (skip it!)
  • Hubs. He’s just the best ever—even when he says I snore. Whatever, bub.

 

Here’s the thing: people who believe that Christians don’t have bad days, epic fail moments, or that God doesn’t allow these things to happen don’t read their Bible (1 Peter 1:6-7 is my fav example). There will be bone-weary trials, and minutes hours when I question my sanity. It doesn’t mean God has abandoned me or decided He should sit this one out. These past couple of weeks, I just needed to find His mercy in the little things until I surfaced for air.

 

And guess what? There will be more slow drivers. Days when every radio station has eye-rolling songs. Who knows, I may find a judge who doesn’t complain about my teenage character…complaining. Until then, I’ll be wearing my Converse, drinking coffee, and contemplating this note on my computer monitor:

best

Aiming high, people. It’s better than driving slow.


Ta-Da! I’m a Geek!

You guys! I’m so excited to announce this because I get to embrace my dorkiness for a cause!

Introducing, one of the newest movie reviewer for Geeks Under Grace:

squee-pin

Now, I have an excuse to go to movies or stay up late.

Please stop by their website for reviews on movies, gaming, tabletop games, music, comic books, television, and all things within the geek realm.  I wanted to make sure to share their mission statement with you, so you can understand my excitement:

The mission of Geeks Under Grace is to:

EDUCATE Christians on how to safely consume pop culture from our worldview.
EVANGELIZE geeks with the message of the Gospel by building bridges between Jesus and the geek community.
EQUIP Christians and churches to reach geeks with the Gospel.
ENCOURAGE Christians as they grow into a deeper relationship with Christ.

Stellar, right?

I’m working on my first “real” post, a review for Guardians of the Galaxy, but was able to squeak in abbreviated predictions for 5 films coming out this month. Cut me some slack, I was writing on my phone’s notepad from a campsite on the Oregon coast.

Click on the image below and be whisked into a magical adventure of geeky Christian awesomeness, rolled up into one convenient website.

GUG-NEW-WHITE


My Almost Mount Hermon Trip

AKA: The trip that I ALMOST met Jami Amerine

Last week, I took a jaunt to meet up with my agent, Rachel. I figured since I couldn’t attend Mount Hermon Writers Conference this year, I could make the drive down and say hello to other Books & Such authors and agents at the B&S annual ice cream social. I don’t need much of a reason for ice cream!

It was a dark and stormy day. No really:

start

That’s the weather I drove into. But first, I stopped by Hannah‘s house. Since she and I usually go to Mount Hermon together, and she couldn’t accompany me, I offered to take her Zelf named Petal. Here is a link to Petal’s previous MH adventures.

Petal

Her hair is spazzy because the winds were tossing leaves and stray napkins everywhere. Another ritual Hannah and I have is the stop at Chik-Fil-A:

Chik

So, four hours later, I arrived at Mount Hermon. Yup. My quick journey is four hours, one way. I had to stop by the check-in desk early to see if I needed a badge or something for the social later. When I say early, I mean just after lunch. And the B&S meeting wasn’t until 9 p.m. Somehow, I thought the roads would be worse with the weather. Nope.

That’s when it happened. As I opened the door, I actually giggled and slapped my hand over my mouth. One of my favorite bloggers, Jami Amerine, was checking in with her sister. There’s a story here: in my exhausted stupor the previous day, I’d sent her a PM saying that I may fangirl if I met her. But…I didn’t want to be all up in her grill at check-in. I pretended to be busy on my phone when they left.

That said, I left MH to check into my hotel and wait. I thought I’d get in some beach time and maybe a local dive for yummy shrimp. I took a nap instead, since a storm moved into Santa Cruz, tilting trees and rain in a lovely diagonal direction.

Why I did this next thing, I’ll never know. I swear I’m not a stalker. I sent Jami another PM, saying that I chickened out and didn’t want to bother her. She’s so gracious! She asked if I was gone and I replied that I’d be back for the B&S meeting.

My nerves set in when I returned that night. So I pulled up a playlist and this was the absolutely perfect first song:

LaneBoy

YES. I was early.

Just before the social started, Jami-Amazing-Amerine walks in! And I totally chickened out AGAIN. We kinda made eye contact before she left. I’m sorry, Jami. Someday, I’ll bring myself to say hello to you.

I’m hoping to get my hands on a picture of me at the event to share with you. I had such a good time that I forgot to hand my phone to Janet, who took a picture of Rachel, Sarah, Sherry, Lindsay, Ashley, Karen, and me. Our pack finally left at 11:30, long after the other Bookies bailed. I felt like the new kid, awkward and wondering if I had lipstick on my teeth, but everyone was absolutely friendly.

One of the saddest pictures I took was this one, as I left the next morning:

Saddest

I’m already planning on selling a kidney to attend a couple of conferences next year. So in 2018, Lord willing, I won’t have to drive by this offramp.


Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.

I filled out a stack of paperwork last week for my agent: forms for my bio, a W9, project sheets, proposals, and my blood type. No, just kidding on that one. Maybe. And there’s more to do, including a new photograph.

 

To be honest, headshots stress me out. Do I go with a natural, outdoorsy feel or an inside picture? Hands down and clasped together or under my cheek? Glasses on or off? Smile with teeth or without? Props?

glamour

Of course, I’m waiting until after my hair appointment this week to tackle this issue, but I’m still wrestling with doubt and anxiety. Never was one to take many pictures of myself. My “selfies” list on my phone are 99% pictures of my spawn. Dirty Hobbitses.

 

When I do have pictures taken, even with the fam, I over-analyze. I’m slouching. My teeth aren’t white enough. I have a double-chin from looking down.  There’s glare on my glasses. And why in the world was I wearing a blazer? I don’t wear blazers.

 

I’d say wish me luck, but I actually don’t believe in it. But I do believe in the powers of an amazing photographer and filters.

 

Given a choice, I’d have a avatar of a winking cat as my picture (like this guy from mrwallpaper.com).

wink

I mean…it looks just like me. Close enough…


Rabid Sports Fan

I have a confession this morning. You know those insane sports fans who lose it at the umpires/referees/officials? The ones who are cringe worthy and should keep their big, fat mouths shut? That was me last night.

rabies

I should’ve shut up and kept updating my friend on my phone. But my brain had other ideas. And it was too late when I realized that I looked like a raging idiot. Why couldn’t I edit myself?

 

There was certainly no love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, or gentleness. Self-control?

right

This morning, I’m dealing with a few issues.

  1. I’m embarrassed that I was a rabid moron.
  2. Thankfully, the season is over, so I have no more opportunities to transform into another idiot.
  3. I still believe the referee made terrible calls.
  4. …but that doesn’t excuse my actions.

 

I’m not looking for sympathy here. Just telling you all that recognizing one’s idiocy on a public blog helps keep my humility in check. It’s like letting you be a part of my face palm moment. And I have loads of them.

 

Maybe you do too. Feel free to blabber away or head slap me. 😉


2017 WCCW, Part Deux

So you already know that I volunteered at WCCW 2017 and had a blast. This post tells a lil’ bit about what I experienced.

Happiness – I was able to reconnect with several friends I had previously met at Mount Hermon. Two people especially important to me are John Vonhof and Sarah Sundin.

John runs the manuscript retrieval at Mount Hermon. He’s the guy with the MASSIVE line after the first lunch (or dinner), as writers jockey for position to finally get their hands on the submissions they turned in for critiques or editor consideration. Both he and Joanne Bischof were the two who kept me from leaving Mount Hermon that first year, after a particular encounter. But that is a skeleton in my closet (as Tosca says) that I learned from.

It was a delight to visit with John at WCCW. He is a genuine person who cares about other authors. He has a brilliant podcast, where he interviews other writers, Writers & Authors on Fire. You should hop on over—you won’t regret it!

Sarah Sundin was my mentor at Mount Hermon last year. There I was, the lowly contemporary YA author in a class of historical romance authors, and she took my sarcasm in stride. God placed her directly in my path as my teacher and friend. And while I’m not sure if historical romance will be on my plate in the future, her award-winning books still teach me when I reread them. Plus, she’s just fabulous! I TOTALLY spaced and didn’t get a picture with her.

And my happiness section would NOT be complete without Cathy Elliott. She is a leader at my local writers group and was the WCCW Coaching and Critique Director. She’s also been a dear friend, my consummate cheerleader for nearly three years. I was so happy/relieved/excited to see her after a meeting with a critique staff member. To know Cathy is to be blessed.

Exhaustion – Anyone who says they aren’t tired after a conference is a LLPOF (liar, liar, pants on fire). Beside the physical aspect of going from class to sessions and meals, there is an entire mental side. Yup—you go mental. Think of yourself standing on a pretty beach, with blue skies and white puffy clouds. You see the wave of information coming and it’s what you can’t wait to experience it all. Suddenly, you’re gasping for air, sand in places you never thought possible, because the wave was a tsunami. But it’s the best kind of exhaustion.

And I was a numbskull and drove 3 ½ hours home on Friday afternoon for Thing 1’s homecoming because I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Yeah…arriving back at 1:30 a.m. for 6:15 alarm isn’t the best decision. But I’m only young in my head once!

Humiliation – You go to a conference to learn. There are amazing teachers and fantastic speakers, people who are much farther in the author journey than where I am now.

Hey, readers, I’m not published yet. Yes, I’ve won a couple of contests and awards, but I’m still on this road to becoming “A Real Author.” So when another author shared that they were published the first go-round or that it (insert chipper voice) “only took a couple of tries,” I felt like the bottom of my favorite shoes.

Triumph – But in the same breath as humiliation, I know that I am a writer. Tosca Lee taught me that I can say “crappy” and “suck” because I am leveraging what I’m good at—sarcastic YA in the CBA market. She showed me to learn from the skeletons that I keep hidden from readers and to divorce my ego.

I hunted Michelle Ule down and we briefly met face to face for the first time in two years. Next time, Michelle, I’ll weasel in more time.

Kathi Lipp (who I stalked, and then we were interrupted like 9 million times…or three) struck a chord deep within me during her marketing class when she commented that writing realistic fiction is hard. Brought tears to my eyes. This is me—this is what I’m writing. And while I may not corner the market in clutter-free living (please never visit my house, Kathi), I’m going to try and position myself to be the best sarcastic YA writer in the CBA realm. Gonna chase that hashtag dream and maybe I’ll be on the first page of a Google search someday!

Guess what?! WCCW will be back in 2019. It’s two days of your writerly life. I’m planning on going again, with Rosemary. We like driving around Pleasanton, debating fictional worlds, and she doesn’t judge my caffeine intake. Maybe Susy Flory will let me fling around again, delivering name tags. Perhaps I’ll point the staff meeting location to Karen Ball with confidence this time.

Or maybe I’ll see some of you! And good luck to the noobs trying to keep all of the Cathy/Kathi/Kathy’s straight!


2017 WCCW Conference, Act 1

A few days ago, I was happily ensconced (yes, I use that word) at Crosswinds Church in Pleasanton, California with my friend Rosemary. It was dreary and cold outside, spitting raindrops, but the covered patio was toasty from the overhead heaters. Actually, I was inside and the attendees were outside, looking at me through the glass garage doors. So began both of my two days at the 2017 West Coast Christian Writers Conference (WCCW).

 

When I signed up back in December, I’d also volunteered to help at the registration table. That kind of stuff is my jam: alphabetizing name tags, sorting alphabetized stations, and handing out alphabetized stuff. Noticing a pattern here? You’d never guess it from my home, but I like organization. I pack in full outfits only after I’ve set the entire outfit out on the bed. Everything jumbled in my purse is there in a certain order or pocket. Please … for the love of my sanity, don’t move stuff from the pockets to be helpful.

abc

Imagine my surprise when, instead of blissfully trotting through the alphabet, I was making signs with Sharpies, running name tags to staff members (and trying to get those ready while they were praying), and then greeting people the second day.

 

Note: I don’t greet. Let me rephrase that: I’m not a natural greeter. Walmart would fire me. I’m naturally suspicious and only give sidearm hugs to people I don’t know… if I’m forced to.

 

Here’s the thing: I loved running around like a chicken with its head cut off (sidebar: this does happen due to nerves, folks). I pointed out the bathroom locations. Told Karen Ball the wrong place for the staff meeting (still embarrassed about that!). Tracked down lost lunch stickers. Even in stack-heeled boots, I believe I burned more calories in those two days than in the entire month of February. And getting asked TWICE if I was Rosemary’s sister was stinking fabulous!

wccw1

Stayed tuned for Part Deux of my WCCW report, where I’ll dive in a bit deeper. My thigh muscles are still recovering.


Sitting in a doctor’s office this morning, I was grateful. Deposited for a check-up, I wasn’t waiting for results that may hurdle me into panic or despair. Sure, the hideous mauve gown was less-than-fashionable and freezing, but, I’d soon be on my way back to my life bubble: planning Thing 1’s birthday, fixing a reservation date that I’ve already screwed up twice, and lining up a snack bar schedule.

 

I get so busy doing my own things during this season, that I often forget compassion.

compassion

(thanks pandawhale.com)

I miss telling someone “Merry Christmas” because I’m checking emails on my phone. Presents are bought with a checklist, instead of love and thoughtfulness (hey, at least I admit it). I put off visiting family to finish chores.

Sometimes, I forget to see the blessings: my kids’ joy when we take five minutes to look at Christmas lights. Taking the baby steps towards indie, but watching my submissions to the traditional side. Or finding an amazing graphics artist to design my logo and cover–who has an even better sense of humor. Here’s a tiny glimpse of said logo:

oc

(I did say tiny…)

If you are busy, write your to-do lists. But take time to send an email to an old friend. Mail a present and tell a bell ringer or someone holding the door, “Thank you!”

Thanks for stopping by my blog today. I appreciate each of you. Now, I need to go hunt down a basketball schedule for my kid…


Speling Rools

When I was in fourth grade, I entered into a spelling bee at the mall where both of my parents worked, while Dad was studying to become a pastor. We kids spent lots of time on both stories, down passages where Dad walked security checks and tottering on ice skates at the indoor rink. But this contest was my big day, because I was a great speller.

 

It was down to three of us. I can’t even tell you if the other two were a girl and a boy or a monkey and a horse, but I was first up in the round. My sisters and brother were there, standing to the right, with my parents. The judge gave me the word: chocolate.

 

And I biffed it. “C-O-C-O-L-A-T-E. Chocolate.”

 

Immediately, my sister Kate’s face told me it was wrong. She tried to cheer me up by giving me a way to remember how to spell it: “I always remember it as Cho Co Late.” I was so mad that she was telling me afterwards, when I didn’t need the advice. I’d already lost.

 

That silly spelling bee and loss thrust my brain into becoming a top-notch speller. I scoffed as a high schooler when I found a package of “encildadas” in the freezer that Mom had made. I even pointed it out to her, making sure to slowly say each syllable of “enchilada” to her.

 

When Thing 2 was a wee thing, she had a funny way of saying certain things. “I want to hold you,” meant that she wanted to be picked up. Until she was eight, she asked for han-gur-burs. She had no interest in reading, while Thing 1 took to books like a fish to water. Thing 2 didn’t want to read, didn’t want to write and just wanted to have friends. Well, I didn’t want to be the overbearing Mom, so we had her in reading programs. Surely, it would be fixed.

 

It wasn’t.

 

Thing 2 has dyslexia (just like my mom). I’m still learning how to teach her methods, along with her teachers, on how to learn to spell and read. She makes notes like this:

 

explain

BUT…God has given Thing 2 a gift. I may not understand why she cannot read and spell well, but I know that her heart is enormous:

 

dino

My lesson for the day? Don’t judge a person by their spelling or grammar rules. God has given them a different gift. Even Thomas Edison’s teacher told his mother that he was defective…and he was just dyslexic.


I’m a Quitter/Winner!

A week ago, I quit. I was done with writing. Honestly. The last straw was a rejection that seemed a bit holier-than-thou. So, with many tears, I told the Hubs that I was going on hiatus.

 

My heart was sad, but my brain was frustrated. How do I get my stories out to the young adult readers if I can’t get a response from those with the ability to move me forward? And yes, I’ve been told over and over and over to be patient.

 

But the teenagers and young adults I’m trying to reach aren’t getting any younger. And neither am I.

 

I figured a break was what I needed. Work on my 1963 Bug. Finish some other projects I’ve put off. Maybe God would show me the direction to go. And at 6:05 p.m. last Monday, that was my decision.

 

And a random Facebook message popped up:

contest-notification

Who was this person? Which one of my critique partners gave out my story? In high conspiracy fashion, tin foil hat firmly in place, I kept my response short:

i-am

The next message caused me to burst into tears. Hubs was confused, so I lobbed him the phone because I couldn’t talk through the sobbing laughter.

cww-2016-first-place

Yup. God, once again, kicked me in the butt with His “I told you so.”

 

Thank you Christian Women Writer’s Club! At 6:42 p.m. last Monday, I started writing again.


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