"God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform..." William Cowper

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mailing My Baby

Last Friday, I walked into the post office of a nearby town. I drove eight extra miles to reach this destination, not because I hold any grudges against my local post office, but because I've had very good relations with this particular office in the past. And I was on an important mission: today I was mailing my baby.

That's right. My baby. I've labored over it for four years, attempted to weed out as many adverbs as possible along with every insignificant sentence. I've tossed out entire chapters. I've had to say goodbye to characters I loved, and put other characters through torture.

And now it was finished, and someone of importance in the publishing industry had requested to see the entire 300-plus pages, hard copy. Lord, help me.

When I walked into that post office, I cradled my manuscript--crisp, white pages showcasing sharp, clean-edged ink. Not a wrinkle or smudge, not a fold in sight. Perfect.

I just had one little problem. The large envelope that held the pages was a tad too big. I'd been told by a published author that envelopes are preferred over boxes, and I took that advice to heart. Only now, I wondered if my manuscript would suffer in route to its destination.

When I asked the man behind the postal counter for his expert advice, he took a peek into my unsealed package. "It's just paper, right?"

JUST PAPER?

"Well, it's a manuscript," I answered.

He slid the entire 350 pages from the envelope and flipped them upside down, showing them the same courtesy he would a freshly-caught bass. It suddenly felt very warm in that spacious office.

"This'll probably work." He reached for a much smaller, cardboard envelope and shoved my four years of work into the package. Three-quarters of the pages still stuck out. They called to me for help.

I reached out a tentative hand to smooth a slightly dog-eared page. Maybe I'd start crying. "Be--be careful. It's my baby."

He looked at me as if I had something stronger than water in my L.L. Bean canteen. "I've done this before, you know."

I wanted to ask him if any other manuscripts he'd sent saw publication. Probably not.

Next, he took another small envelope and slid it over the exposed side of the manuscript. The cardboard started to tear. Very professional looking, you know.

He slipped the entire sorry-looking package into the big envelope and slapped the seal closed. I said a little prayer for my baby--that it would make it safely without much damage, that the person unpackaging it hadn't just spilled coffee on her best suit, or slammed her toe against the corner of her desk. Surely an unprofessionally packaged manuscript would put her over the edge, and effectively put me on her bad side.

Or maybe--just maybe--the postal worker had been like an angel, guarding my baby from sliding to and fro within that spacious envelope. I may never know. What's done is done, and the only thing I could do was lift a prayer to my Comforter.

Please God, be with these pages. May they find their purpose--even if that doesn't include publication.

Not an easy prayer to say from my heart, but I'm convinced it was sincere. And so, into His capable hands, I entrust my manuscript.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fresh Air Fund-Racers Needed!

I'm the first to admit that I take my comfortable life for granted. My children run around in our decent-sized backyard. We have warm food in our bellies at dinnertime. A comfortable bed to sleep in. Heat in the winter. Air conditioning in the summer. Clothes. Clean water.

Fresh air.

Since 1877, The Fresh Air Fund, a not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences in the country to more than 1.7 million New York City children from disadvantaged communities. Each year, thousands of children visit volunteer host families in 13 states and Canada through the Friendly Town Program or attend one of five Fresh Air Fund camps.

The Fresh Air Fund is looking for runners and sponsors to join the Fresh Air Fund-Racers team for the NYC Marathon on November 7th.

Over the past four years as a NY Road Runners charity partner for the NYC Half-Marathon, 325 Fund-Racers have raised close to $400,000 for The Fresh Air Fund!

Not a runner? Consider volunteering. For more information, go to

http://freshair.org/racers

Happy running/volunteering and God bless!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The ACFW 2010 Annual Conference

Wow! Maybe I should just leave it at that.

I'm still reeling from the excitement of meeting some of my favorite authors, listening to them teach, and worshiping not only with them, but with this entire fabulous family of writers.

Here's something else I learned this weekend: writers are weird. But you know what? I felt right at home. I suppose that makes me weird, too. I always knew deep in my heart that I was. :) At least I don't attach dialogue tags to conversations with my husband as Tim Downs confessed to doing....can you imagine the dinner talk now?

I made some amazing friends and laughed a lot. And the hotel was beautiful. I'm already thinking of ways to save for next year.

Okay, my next task is sending out the proposals and chapters requested by agents. Then, besides holding my breath, I'll be planning my next manuscript and diving into more writing craft books. I'm especially looking forward to James Scott Bell's Plot and Structure. He spoke a little on it, which only made me curious for more! (Yes, this is what I dream about at night--and yes, I know this fact confirms my weirdness.)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Off to Indy!

At this time tomorrow, I'll be at the firt-timers orientation for the ACFW 2010 Conference. The house is clean. The bags are nearly packed. The pitches are practiced, and practiced, and practiced. I've never been away from my family this long, so I'm mentally preparing myself for that, too.
Can't wait to meet some of my ACFW friends and finally convince myself they're not imaginary after all! I'm going to attempt to post while at conference, but if things get busy that might not work out. Hope everyone has a great weekend, and God bless! :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

What My Children Have Taught ME





As my oldest son prepares to climb on the big yellow school bus for the very first time this morning, I can't help but reflect on all he's learned in the last five years. But he's not the only one learning. My two sons have educated me, too.

My children have taught me that:

1) I am stronger than I think I am--surviving labor twice is proof of that.

2) while time-outs might not always bring about a desired result, bribery usually does. (Not advocating, by the way.)

3) it's better to forgive and forget. Have you ever witnessed a major disagreement between two pre-schoolers? It can be a nasty thing. But I'm always amazed how quickly an apology and a new plan can reconcile the two involved parties. Adults--I think we just make it too difficult sometimes.

4) two small boys needn't look farther than the bathroom for amusement. Who can make the most bubbles in Mommy's freshly scrubbed toilet? Who can pee the farthest? (Outside activity, of course.) Toilet identification, anyone? While I'm fairly certain I've never given the letters on my toilet any thought, my four-year-old recently informed me that his grandparents and our church both have Kohler toilets.

5) sometimes I need to chill-out. Time flies and my children won't be little forever. The dust-bunnies and laundry will always be there.

6) the world really is a beautiful place. To see the beach for the first time through the eyes of a three-year-old is an amazing reminder of this.

7) if it's too quiet, be suspicious. The little cherubs might be in the backyard taste-testing the "chocolate milk" they made out of mud and that rusty bucket of rainwater.

8) a mother does in fact possess an inner voice that knows best. If I could do it all over again, I'd forego the parenting magazines and books, and other such advice. They only serve to drown out that natural mothering instinct.

9) uninterrupted sleep is never a thing to be taken for granted.

10) God is truly amazing. Not only does He create these beautiful children for us to nurture and protect, but He created the fierce love that binds us to them.

What have you learned from a young one lately?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Double Marathon Challenge Update

I normally don't post in the middle of the week, but I couldn't resist. Drum roll please...the second part off my challenge is complete! I have received all feedback from my critique partners and have made the necessary changes to my manuscript. Done. Really. The end. And it only took seven years.

I'm happy with the outcome, but of course that doesn't mean other people will actually think it's good, or that agents will be clawing at me to get their hands on it in two weeks in Indianapolis (haha, don't I wish). Still, I did it. Next up--polishing pitches, proposals, and one-sheets for the conference.

As for the first part of my marathon challenge--the actual marathon, I managed a sixteen-mile run last Saturday in 2 hours, 18 minutes. A little shy of Boston Marathon qualifying pace/time. I'm not discouraged. However, my knees certainly are. I'm going to have to make some changes to my training schedule and set more recovery time between the longer runs.

Okay, whoever's reading this, thanks for reading and sharing in my small victory. God bless! :)