Friday, September 30, 2011

Moving Thoughts Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

Bored to tears or wiggling with anxiety?

*photos by flickr

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

8 Ways to UnScrooge-ify

Halloween decorations are up, which means it’s fair game for me to talk about something Christmas related. :D Today I’m giving you eight ways to UnScrooge-ify. Remember Scrooge—how judgmental, ice-hearted, and crotchety he was?

We don’t want to be like that.

No we don’t. So how do we UnScrooge-ify?

Think Shoes
One of the best nuggets of wisdom a friend gave me…“We never know how we’d act if we walked in their shoes, had their life—had lived their story.” Next time you find yourself quick to tear someone down in your head, remember this.

Locate Your Wooden Plank
We have to be honest with ourselves. We’re all a mess. We are only kidding ourselves if we think we have it all together. We all have areas of struggle. Before we are quick to point and glare icicle daggers into someone for their nasty behavior, we need to take a moment to remember where we’ve been and what we’re still working on. And then we are prudent to begin jerking that plank from our own eyes to rectify our vision.

You might be thinking what the heck does laughter have to do with becoming less crotchety and judgmental. But it does. When we’re laughing, we are taking things less seriously. We aren’t letting small discouragements or disappointments dive inside our hearts and plant a warfare spray of jealousy, anger, or immobilizing fear.

Be Time Sensitive
For such a time as that. Your friend has been lashing out lately. Yes, it sucks. But remember when she told you this is the time of year her mom died and how she confessed she was afraid that lump was generational cancer? We are inclined to judge less when we know more (when we take the time to know more).

Grant Grace
Hard one, I know. But it was given to us—all of us. In abundance. So we are called to give it.

Let It Go
What do balloons, babies, and bitterness have in common? At some point we need to let go. For the latter, the sooner the better. Bitterness clenched in a fist turns to the heart to rotted fruit fast.

When we step outside ourselves, we heal. Think of what happened to Scrooge when he got the fat turkey—when he decided to be giving and not a miserly judge?

Give Freely (an echo of #7—it’s that important)
Test yourself. How valuable are your valuables? Not just things, but your time. Do you hoard it? How about women, how easy is it for you to genuinely uplift another woman? One of the best ways to ward off a Scrooge spirit is to care less. Care less about our things, our time, our…me…me…me. Giving makes it about you.

Can you think of any other ways we can UnScrooge-ify?

*photo by flickr

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Agent Rocks

At a church service years ago, our pastor mentioned behavior the holy trinity demonstrates that I hadn’t thought about in depth until that point. Now I think about it often.

And I hope to model it every possible chance I get.

Our pastor reminded the congregation how often God points to Jesus in Scripture, how often Jesus points to the Holy Spirit, and how frequently the Holy Spirit points to God. See the common thread? Time spent pointing outward—uplifting another.

And that’s what I want to do right here.

Right now.

My agent, Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary won the Agent of the Year Award at the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference this past weekend. I screamed like a ferret in church when her name was called. (I realize we don’t know for a fact if ferrets even attend church, but if they do…you know they worship in hoots and hollers.) I lost my voice I cheered so hard (note: larynx related—NOT writing related). I wanted to point to her, to show the whole room how extraordinary she is—how phenomenal she is at her job.

I’ve noticed when I’m intentional about uplifting others I’m less inclined to be self-focused. Encouraging others fuels me.

I’m really proud of Rachelle and quite frankly…I want the world to know.

Happy Monday & I’ll see you back here on Wednesday when I’m hopefully more rested and I’ve stopped writing about ferrets in church.

Anyone you want to encourage (in the purest form of this word’s meaning)?

*Thanks also to the many friends who made me laugh! (I even laughed like a ferret in church.) And laughter is good for the soul. The entire conference was good for my soul. (Loved connecting with so many people!)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Moving Thoughts Friday…on Wednesday?

Every Friday (or Wed. in this case) I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

Since I’m heading to the ACFW conference, and will be mostly offline until early next week, you get your Moving Thoughts Friday question early.

Favorite quote?

*photos by flickr
**I'm loving the dialogue so far on my new
Facebook writer page. Please come join the conversation!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Direction Change

I had a different post planned for today—one about women’s fiction and the history behind how I fell in love with that genre. I will post on that soon, but something changed my direction.

We teach the girls on our soccer team about changing direction all the time. Well, my direction got changed when I read this.

Messages like that sharpen my purpose and inspire me.

Are you open to being inspired lately?

*photo by flickr

**linked it twice b/c I didn't want you to miss it

Friday, September 16, 2011

Moving Thoughts Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

Listen or be listened to?

*photos by flickr

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

8 Career Killers

It doesn’t matter which career you’ve chosen to pursue, any of the following blunders have the potential to off-road your future aspirations. Today I’ve listed eight ways you may or may not be unknowingly damaging your career.

Cultivating Impatience
Need what you need and need it now. You have a habit of reminding everyone in your line of work that you’re like a little girl in line at a carousel, demanding cotton candy, insisting the line to let you through ASAP. Wonder just how far you’ll get acting like that.

You’re hurt. You’re insecure. You are certain your way is better…that you are better. Enter—the mouth. You spew. You slander and you slash about so and so to whoever happens to cross your path. Lucky them.

Letting Negativity Fester and Spread
Your dog threw up all over the carpet. Your son couldn’t find his shoe, which is sure to make you late for preschool drop-off. Your husband snapped at you about the laundry (your favorite chore) and you made the nasty mistake of stepping on the scale one day shy of your period’s arrival. It hasn’t been your day. So you pass a little of the Grinch fairy dust around. You sprinkle some on the bus driver as you snarl at him. You shove it off onto little toddler guy fishing his shoe out of the toilet. Then you bring it to work.

You ignorantly step on others on your way up.

Becoming Lazy
Ho hum. Yawn. Too lazy to describe this one.

Ignoring Priorities & Discernment
Deadline encroaching. Gut swishing. But it’s sunny out. But that TV show is soooo good. But. But. Anything but butt in chair (well known phrase in the writing world).

Blowing off the Importance of Communication
You’re confused. You’re stewing. You lack clarity. You’re angry. But they wouldn’t understand. No time to put those complicated feelings and concerns into words. Besides who wants to hear that anyway? You pretend your way through the maze and end up staring at a dead end. No way out.

Being Quick to Argue & Insisting on Being Right
You sing a little Sinatra on your way to work, “I did it my way.” You smile and laugh. Yep, that’s right. No one telling you how to handle business, you think, while blaring your horn at the blue-haired wrinkly grandma driving mph under the speed limit.

Your team offers logical suggestions you quickly dismiss with the wave of your hand. You’ve got it down, under control—nailed. It’s yours, all yours. Hey look, caught there in that fat wrinkle between your eyebrows…your inner control freak is showing.

Squelching Creative Thinking
You play it safe. Wouldn’t want to be different. Wouldn’t want to be seen as ruffling feathers, causing trouble like some business yard critter tearing up the status quo lawn. You do your work and stuff down those exploding ideas, the ideas you nurse when you’re alone, the ones you dream about, certain of their potential for success. But there are toes to step on and people who might declare you—eek—different! So you shut down and shut up.
We’re all a mess. But I also believe all of us have great potential to grow and learn from our own messes. If you recognize yourself in any of the above examples there’s hope for change. I’ve been guilty of some of the above. However, I didn’t stay stuck in any one of the above. I moved away from those career killers. Moving—it’s what I do.

Ever been there, done that only to recognize there and leave that?

*photo by flickr

Monday, September 12, 2011

What Do You Expect from Me?

My agent, Rachelle Gardner asked a cool question on her blog not too long ago. She asked what writers expect from literary agents. Brave question, eh? I love it. (It’s worth it to read through the answers.)

Well, now I want to know the same thing from you.

When you click here to thoughts that move, what do you expect to find? Why do you come here? I’m hoping you’ll help me deliver the goods. I want to make sure while I’m poking your thoughts that you’re actually enjoying the brain poke.

Talk to me…

If you've visited here frequently let me know what you think of my Random Thought Mondays, I 8 Wednesdays (when I assemble lists of 8), and my Moving Thoughts Fridays. If you're new, what caught your attention and why do you keep coming back?

What are you curious about? What would you like to see more of? Less of? Is there a specific topic you’d like to see me address? I’m willing to delve more into my writing career, women’s fiction, marketing, books, and my personal life lessons. But before I go there I need to know if that’s where you want to go. This blog isn’t much without you. You are the ones who motivate and inspire me to stick to my disciplined schedule.

Let’s look at the map of where we’ve been together, how our thoughts have merged, and you tell me—where is it YOU want to go next?

*photo by flickr

Friday, September 9, 2011

Moving Thoughts Friday

Every Friday I’m going to ask a question. The questions I choose might be ambiguous on purpose. The goal is to have you answer the question according to your beliefs, where you’re at in life or a circumstance that might have recently impacted you. The only thing I ask is that you provide an explanation for why you answered the way you did.

It’s my hope to understand you better through this and also to gain a greater understanding of humanity and how people make decisions.

Remember in Mary Poppins, when Mary and the crew jumped into the sidewalk chalk drawings? Wouldn’t it be fun to be able to do that with books?

Here’s your chance…what book would you jump into?

*photos by flickr

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Waiting Place by Eileen Button

I couldn’t have read this book at a better time. After enduring what felt like one of the most character-building waits of my life, I experienced a great sense of camaraderie with Eileen Button (cutest name in the world), as I read her book, The Waiting Place: Learning to Appreciate Life’s Little Delays.

In her collection of humorous essays, Button delves into the heart of what we all must deal with on a regular basis: waiting. And she accomplishes this with entertaining candor, giving vulnerable glimpses of times in her life she was forced to wait. I found it easy to become engrossed one chapter at a time, and as a mom of three, sometimes this is exactly the kind of read I’m looking for.

I appreciated learning about how Button handled the wait while she prayed for her baby’s health to improve, prayed for her career to take off, and ached for a yard statue to be removed, a comical dilemma, detailed in such a way I laughed out loud. Eileen comes across as someone I’d love to get to know.

I laughed and cried my way through this book. Between the stellar cover, the noteworthy humor, and Button’s relatable voice, I highly recommend this reflective collection of essays. I found The Waiting Place refreshing because it was not at all preachy, but possessed great power to teach and draw rich meaning out of those inevitable wait times.

*I received a copy of this book as a member of Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze in exchange for this honest review

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Greeting

Working hard or hardly working?

Happy Labor Day!

*photo by flickr
**married twelve years today!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Movie Quoting My Way to Agenthood

“It’s a Mystery.” (Henslowe in Shakespeare in Love)
This industry is enigmatic to say the least. It takes perseverance, hard work, and a way with words to make it. About three years ago I finished my first women’s fiction manuscript, and soon after I queried it (I know, right?). I garnered interest from a wonderful agent. I botched up connecting with her on the technical side of things and to this day I blame my technical lameness. However, I wasn’t ready.

So I put in the work, read books on craft (see favorites below), and wrote until the cows came home (they’re still out wandering apparently). I wrote six more novels in fact. I finaled in a respected contest, sent my nonfiction and fiction work out in hopes to be published in anthologies and magazines. With over a dozen stories and essays published, I continued to study the industry and establish strong connections.

But I still say there’s no magic wand that will grant you an agent fairy or *poof* publication. I chose to keep walking through discouragement, doubt, and distractions.


And last week I secured an agent. My response to that first and foremost: It’s a mystery.

“Baby steps. Baby steps.” (Bob in What about Bob)

I took voracious notes on what worked for friends on the path ahead of me. I’ve always taken myself seriously as a writer. It’s my passion, but I also see pursuing publication as a career. I researched agents and narrowed down who I believed would advocate for me the best.

Whenever I communicated with said agents, I made sure I maintained a professional, yet Wendy-esque demeanor.

“Seat’s taken.” (kids on bus in Forrest Gump)

I witnessed good friends push through the ribbon at what seemed to be the end of the race. I cheered them on, learning how to jubilantly rejoice in their good news, while fighting off jealousy with jujitsu effort. I often felt like Forrest walking down the aisle of the bus. There were times I believed I’d never find a seat.

Remember Jenny? She offered Forrest a seat. They was like peas and carrots, Forrest and Jenny.

I met my carrot at a conference last year. A carrot who has a big group of peas, so she had to wait to take me on.

“Share the load.” (Samwise in The Lord of the Rings)
The carrot agent had requested a full at the ACFW conference last year and we clicked, I mean we just clicked. I liked her. I’d been reading her blog for years and I trusted her in my gut (this is huge for me).

And in the process of waiting for feedback from her, I received unbelievable support from dear friends. This encouragement carried me. I received beautiful cards urging me to keep at it (must have been one a month from Keli Gwyn—thanks, Keli!) Thanks to everyone who provided encouragement!

I even had five friends (some writers, some not) tell me they dreamed I signed with carrot agent (this is a funny tag I’ve given her). I only dreamed about her once and we weren’t signing contracts, we were hiking together.

God works in mysterious ways. I usually take dreams and prophetic statements with a grain of salt, discerning them carefully, but, you betcha, I’m glad I wrote it all down because hindsight, I see God’s hand in it all.

“Call me. Da da da da da da, call moi.” (Harry in When Harry Met Sally)
I kept the agent’s written request in my wallet. It reminded me of my dream and how I needed to work for it. I kept an ornament that says, “The world is waiting to hear your story” hanging above my kitchen sink. Yet another reminder. I was surrounded by reminders, but entrenched in the thick of waiting. Time ticked by. Sporadically the agent and I got in touch with one another, sometimes with industry related news, sometimes not. My trust for her grew.

But there were days I cried. Yep, I can be that emotional woman who lets this business get to me. Surprise, I’m human!

Then a genuine, loving friend offered to read the work I’d submitted. She blew me away with her impression and passed it along to carrot agent. Another friend surprised me by offering kind words about me as well.

Still…I waited.

I felt like Harry in a scene from When Harry Met Sally. I even linked Billy Crystal singing on Youtube to another agent’s post as a response to how I deal with the wait. Humor has often been my golden ticket. I did anything to keep sane, anything that involved humor.

I was selective when I decided to put a few feelers out there. I received positive feedback and another request for a full. Eventually that request transpired into a kind (super kind) pass. I had yet to secure my agent match.

I waited for the call, and during the wait I discovered a boatload about what I value, how devoted I was to pursuing publication, and all kinds of good spiritual stuff that kept me humble.

“Carpe diem. Seize the day…Make your lives extraordinary.” (John Keating in Dead Poets Society)

So this is what I learned to do…to soak up each and every day, even those waiting days when I had no idea if my time would come. I continued to love writing while loving on my husband and children. I kept in touch with the agent, delighting in the way she communicated with me.

And then a day of all days came to seize. I got…the email! The rest of last Friday is a blur. I remember responding with an overwhelming yes to her email and phoning loved ones. I recall my children running outside yelling, “Our mom got an agent” (only to walk outside to discover my 4yo was naked at the time…nice).

This is my movie quote play by play how I became Rachelle Gardner’s client. I’m where I’m supposed to be. It took the time it was supposed to take.

And even though it’s a mystery, there really is no place like home! ;)

*favorite books on writing I’ve read (or reread) within the past five years include anything written by James Scott Bell, with The Art of War for Writers as my favorite of his, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, On Writing by Stephen King, Write Away by Elizabeth George, and Techniques for the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain
**photos by flickr

Taking Time

college applications                 homecoming                            flag football                basketball             SATs   ...