Wednesday, September 30, 2009
There are highs in life. There are valleys, and then, there is this terrible place that Catholics call purgatory. It's not really here or there. It's a holding cell. A processing center...a time of waiting.
I'm ADD. I don't like to wait, but that doesn't mean that God isn't going to try my patience to get me to learn something. Let's see, I've been stripped of my house, my "stature" if you will, and really had to reevaluate what God wants from me. I've been working on a book for 2.5 years. It's been a nightmare of an experience just because I tried to be someone I wasn't in the book. I tried to send a message that wasn't really mine.
The publisher and I have decided to agree to disagree. I love this publisher, love what they stand for, love what they do. But it's not what I do. It's really hard for me to throw in the towel and say, "I can't do this." Because I'm a fighter, and if you tell me I can't, I work harder. Financially, it's a hit we can't afford to take, but I finally surrendered yesterday and I feel lighter than a feather.
And I know the publisher feels good too because they wanted it to work as much as I did. It just wasn't. I think the biggest reason I couldn't give it up was I didn't have anything to head toward. The skies opened though, and God gave me a clear view. He didn't give me a clear path as to how it would happen and I still don't know. Still have quite a bit of trepidation, and not a lot of earthly security, and yet I know.
Isn't that the best thing about being a Christian? When you clearly hear from God, and you know what you're supposed to do and it's counter-intuitive to everything you've done historically? I want to get right out there and fix this, and find a new publisher, etc., but God is saying NO. Wait. Which He's been saying for a long time. I just didn't want to hear it. So if you have any success stories on this, I'd love to hear them. Tell me what the view from the mountain looks like.
Labels: God's will, purgatory, waiting
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
TIME THROUGH THE HOURGLASS
I'm voting with Denise's post yesterday. Where does the time go? Have you ever noticed that the older you get, the faster it flies by? Weren't Kara and Dave this age just yesterday? And wasn't Alexa born just 2 minutes ago?
We had the best time with Alexa on her birthday. We showed up at her daycare and she started squealing and trying to get to us. She had her cupcake and had to show us her friends, then we took her shopping at Toys R Us. Anything she showed the remotest interest in we threw in the cart. We took her to eat at Appleby's and they brought her a dish of ice cream to celebrate. Every moment was precious because I knew that time would never come again. The older I get, the more clear it is that we really do just have this one day to hold and that we should make each day count for eternity. I had a wonderful grandma and I want to be that kind of grandma to Alexa. One whose love is unconditional and shows her a glimpse of God's love for her.
So I'd love you to share one special day you've had and why it's so special.
posted at 9:22 AM
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Three Simple Words
Not long ago a fad swept the nation. Someone started it on You Tube, I believe. It was a simple idea: people holding up signs consisting of 3 words that summarized their life or that moment in their life. Some were joyful, some were sad, others expressed confusion or anger.
I was thinking of those 3-word-concepts today, and mine hit me. Time Slipping By. Maybe it's my boys' ages, but this is a busy time for us. Our merry-go-round is going too fast, and life is spinning by in a fuzzy blur. It seems we no sooner dust off the baseball equipment, then school is starting. I finish a book and look up. It's New Years Day. Where did Christmas go?
A birthday arrives and it doesn't seem possible that my boy is 14. Wasn't he a gap-toothed kindergartner just yesterday, running to the fridge and slurping from his juice box. Okay, so he did just do that yesterday, but you know what I mean.
Sometimes I want to drag my feet in the dirt, stop the merry-go-round, and order everyone off. "We're staying here for a while, daggonit! Long enough to make a few memories and take some good pictures so I don't forget what you looked like."
But the ride spins on and the best I can do is slow it down every now and then and catch my breath before it goes again. Such is life. There's 3 words for you. What are your 3 words?
PS. I took this photo Saturday before my youngest son's game. He's in the middle, #72
posted at 9:30 PM
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Forgive me for making my first blog on GirlsWriteOut (Oh, my goodness, I'm really a part of this now!!! YAY!!! Thank you Jesus!!!) sappy and corny, but I may as well get it out of my system now so I don't load you with it later.
It was mentioned on a post this week that we consider our readers to be friends, and I hope you realize how true that is. I also hope you realize how powerfully friendship can affect your life, and if you don't have close girlfriends with whom you spend weekly face time, I highly advise you find some fast.
I don't get nearly enough face time with Colleen, Denise, Diann or Kris. Email, yes. Every day. But face time? Maybe twice or three times a year, at most. It makes me hungry for heaven just to think about the time we'll be able to spend with one another a hundred years from now. I've known these women for years. I trust them with my heart, my deep secrets, my writing. That's a lot of trust, but they've proven themselves trustworthy.
This ACFW conference was my first, and I almost wasn't able to attend because of pain from an auto accident three years ago, which caused spinal injury. It's difficult for me to sit for long periods of time, such as when flying or driving or sitting at conference, and the pain seems to be getting worse rather than better as time goes on. Back surgery may be in the picture if I don't get the pain under control some other way. Still, I was given some new meds, and at the last minute I decided I could probably make the trip.
Enter Colleen, who moved mountains to get me there the moment I told her I might try to go. In just a few hours, I had a flight, was signed up for the conference, and had a place to stay--with the girls! The prospect of staying with my GirlsWriteOut friends was in itself enough to get me there. The DeBrand's truffles was a bonus. Honest. I didn't even know they were having chocolate!
Their caring spirits--and wildly variant personalities--helped to heal something in me that I didn't know was injured over these past years of stress. We laughed so much and so often, shared so many insights and thoughts, that I was never lonely, even when I was alone. Oh, and we shared each others' clothes and jewelry and vitamins! Such fun! We also brought other friends into our circle, which meant we all made more friends. I learned I can trust these girls to introduce me to quality women with good and creative minds.
As I said in an earlier post, when they invited me to join them on GirlsWriteOut, I said yes before all the words were out of Colleen's mouth, and then I cried. Because I realized I haven't had enough girl time these past years. They had displayed for me the nurturing spirit of love we can encounter together. I also realized I've been trying to make Mel (my wonderful, sweet, ultra-patient husband) into another girlfriend. He's too much of a man. He doesn't fit the mold. Too many times, I've said something that left him staring at the wall in wonderment as he searched for a reply.
So all that to say, never give up on friendship. Women need other women to breathe normally. We need the warmth and strength of a special kind that we can only get from one another. Indulge right here with us on GirlsWriteOut!
posted at 8:57 PM
Okay, I have to confess that since I returned home from conference, I've had a hard time sitting down and writing. Isn't that weird? One would think I'd be pumped up and raring to put those magical words on paper.
The truth is I've been struggling with discipline lately. It started before conference. I could blame it on my dog--because goodness knows, she keeps me plenty distracted, but I think it's me.
My distractions range as follows:
1. Puppy wants to play.
2. I'm hungry.
3. I need to call someone.
6. Snail mail.
Well, you get the picture. I don't have kids at home and I still get distracted. I've got to FOCUS!!!! Sooooo can anyone out there tell me exactly how to do that? What are YOUR distractions?
posted at 9:07 AM
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
First, there were three...
Many years ago, there were three writers who started out together: Denise Hunter (the serious one), Colleen Coble (the mother) and me, Kristin Billerbeck (the punch line.) Then, at one Mount Hermon conference, we added a new writer to our midst: Diann Hunt. Never had I met another woman who had the same luck as me. We were INSTANT friends, and although I am not a Hoosier, they let me stick around.
GirlsWriteOut was born out of this friendship and our love for the written word. Even though, none of us write the same things any longer, we are bound for our love for each other and each other’s writing careers. One success is all our success and likewise on the failures.
When we get good news or bad, we still want to share it with our girls before our husbands because only they truly understand the ups and downs, the rocky path of working in the arts for a living.
This week, we welcome a fifth Musketeer into our “All for one and one for all” writers’ group: Cheryl Hodde, who writes as “Hannah Alexander” with her husband Mel, an ER doctor. They write medical suspense and if you haven’t read them, you will LOVE them. As writers, they have the great characterization and wonderful medical details that make their homey Ozarks’ settings come to life. As people, they just don't get any better.
We have been on this journey together a long time. Mel and Cheryl overcame a terrible allergic reaction from a Missionary flu shot with NAET and natural healing. So that’s another thing we all have in common. Cheryl has always been the kind of person where we can sit down with her, and it’s like our conversation dropped off yesterday. We hear from one another all the time online, but this week, Cheryl stayed with us in our suite and what a blast we all had!! We didn't have to share her with Mel and no offense Mel, but we loved having our girl time.
So please, join me in welcoming our fifth “Girls Write Out” blogger, Cheryl Hodde. She'll begin on Friday.
Now Cheryl. Say something brilliant. No pressure.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
We were quiet last week but for a good reason. For the first time in three years or so we were all together in one place! Di brought us all DeBrand truffles and Kristin brought us manicure stuff. Fits, doesn't it? LOL We barely got any sleep, but oh it was so worth it! Kimberley Woodhouse (Welcome Hom
e about her experience with Extreme Home Makeover) got us from the airport. She is a super talented photographer and took some pics of us that we'll be posting later. Girls Write Out's own Jaime Sundsmo was there and we got to "meet" little Chloe whom we've practically prayed into existence. That's her we're all touching!
The hotel (Marriott Tech Center) was fabulous. The staff couldn't be beat, though no matter what we did I couldn't charge anything to my room even though Robin told them three times I was CEO and on the master account. This didn't matter except it seriously cut my coffee consumption since I tended to run over to Starbucks without my wallet. The food was terrific and our servers were just awesome. Everything ran so smoothly with our conference director Robin Miller and conference coordinator Sydney Zech overseeing everything.
The thing that set the foundation for it all was how our president, Cynthia Ruchti, and our conference director, Robin Miller, prayed over the meeting rooms and the halls outside the sleeping rooms. The Spirit just hovered over that place and blessed us all beyond measure. Debbie Macomber's messages as keynote were exactly what we needed this year. I have my 3 x 5 card with my goals all written out and have been mulling over other things she's said.
I got to spend time with my wonderful agent, Karen Solem, this year too. Everything good that's happened in my career I lay at her feet (and Jesus's of course.) She was the lynchpin that got it all rolling in the right direction. And the grand announcement that my fabulous Ami McConnell won Editor of the Year just blessed me beyond measure! She is such a terrific editor and has taught me so much! I was so excited when she won that I could barely speak. I rushed back to the table, grabbed my phone and called her from the banquet hall. When I realized from the giggles around me that I was talking too loudly, I rushed for the hall so I could squeal with abandon. LOL She was thrilled!
I arranged a dinner for the Nelson authors and we had the best time with superman Allen Arnold and editor Becky Monds! I'm so blessed to be part of the family. In the other post for the day, I'll post some more pictures. It would only let me post four. :( I learned something new about Allen. I knew he loved Mexican food but I DIDN'T know he liked to order big bowls of salsa and eat it with a spoon! He ate two bowls of it! My beloved Erin Healy also showed up!
The workshops were exemplary and I learned so much from the advanced class taught by Allen Arnold and Karen Ball. Though some faces paled when he suggested we all do Twitter and Facebook. I was one of the first Christian authors on Twitter so that was one thing I didn't have to change. Okay, this is so Kristin. Late in the morning of the 2nd class, she decided she was going to run to Target and she'd be back before our "graduation." Cheryl Hodde went with her. When K's name was called and she wasn't there, Karen Ball said, "Oh she probably went shopping." It was a joke but the room roared when they found out she actually HAD gone shopping!
And I always get so tickled to see our quiet little Denise up there banging away on the drums. Friends, she is an AWESOME drummer! I'm so proud of her! Rachel Hauck is the leader of the worship team and she just leads us right into the presence of the Lord. I just love that part of it!
So I'm tired but happy today. And so blessed with friends!
Labels: ACFW Conference, Allen Arnold, Ami McConnell, Becky Monds, DeBrand truffles, Erin Healy, Karen Ball, Karen Solem, Kim Woodhouse
posted at 8:48 AM
PUNKY IS ONE YEAR OLD TODAY!!!
Okay, it's my day to blog so I'm going to post several things, but the most important day has arrived today! Our Punky is one today!! I was cleaning up her daddy's little rocking chair to take to her (she loved the rocking chair in the pictures and sang to herself while she rocked) and I had to think about the nature of hope. I kept Dave's rocker and Kara's too, but for quite a few years I never really thought I'd be blessed with a grandchild. When God says He will give us the desires of our hearts, He really means it!
She has changed our lives. I prayed for her before she was ever born, and I love this picture of her that looks like she's clasping her little hands to pray. God is so good it chokes me up. There was a song that our ACFW president wrote and the choir sang at conference this weekend. I'm posting the words below. they so touched my heart with God's goodness. I'm so thankful to Him for all the blessings He gives and am so thankful for our little darling. Here are more pictures of her: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2015824&id=1572759753
GOD IS SPEAKING
God is speaking
I am silent
God is moving
I am moved
God is warring
I am resting
In the power
Of His love
God is brilliant
God is awesome
I’m in awe
God is pouring
He is filling
I am filled
God is ruling
I am bowing
God is humbling
I lay down
God is more than
Minds can fathom
He will fill us
God is speaking
I am silent
copyright 2007 Zach Burris and Cynthia Ruchti
posted at 3:51 AM
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Together at last!
As most of you know we just returned from the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. It's been 3 long years since we've been together and we were ecstatic to be together again. We ate, we laughed, we brainstormed, we painted each other's toenails. Well, I painted Colleen's when she realized her toes were naked 5 minutes before the Book of the Year Award Banquet.
I did my share of goofy things. Big surprise. Got off elevator with a crowd of people and chatted with Rachael Phillips all the way to her door only to realize I was on the wrong floor. Too embarrassed to admit it, I turned back toward the elevator, acting like I'd walked her to her door and was heading back to mine. I rounded the corner and punched the button, shaking my head. A moment later, here comes Rachael. She'd gotten off on the wrong floor too and was too embarrassed to admit it to ME. (Side note: Rachael was offered her first fiction contract at the conference! Yay Rachael!)
Then later the same day I left Cheryl Hodde in our room and she said she'd meet me downstairs in a minute. I got on the elevator--what is it with elevators?--and waited, lost in thought through the ride. A half minute later the doors open I took a step, but there was Cheryl waiting to get on. "How did you get down--?"
Oh. I forgot to push the button.
But I did manage to accomplish a few things while there, scatterbrained moments aside. I met wonderful new writer friends, spent time with agent Karen Solem, Thomas Nelson Publisher Allen Arnold, editor Becky Monds, and publicist Jeane Wynn. That and my Girls too. Where else can I find all these wonderful people in one place?
The only thing missing was you!
Labels: ACFW Conference
posted at 9:50 PM
Friday, September 18, 2009
Here we are. Together again, after too many years apart!
posted at 7:49 PM
These covers are for my new YA (Young Adult) All comments welcome. Which one do you like and why? Which one don't you like and why?
Labels: book covers, Kristin Billerbeck, Young adult
If you're wondering why we're so quiet, we're all together for the first time in years! We will post pictures soon! We're having blast here in Denver! In the meantime, I need help with a new cover, so I'll be uploading that for your opinion.
posted at 3:26 PM
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
NATURAL BORN MODEL
Some people are just born photogenic, aren't they? Our little Alexa just got her first modeling gig. Now, of course the way she poses has NOTHING to do with the fact she's had a camera stuck in her face since she first blinked in the bright light of day. Our Punky has had more paparazzi following her than Angelina Jolie. :-)
Anyway, she's modeling here
for a fabulous children's designer, Kristine Bercot. If you have kids or grandkids, you will love her clothes! They are the only clothes we've bought for Punky that she wears for several months because of the generous cut. And they wash like a dream. Highly recommended! The website is: http://www.artandsoulboutique.com and you can't miss our Alexa starting in the second row! I see a bright future for that baby with her, er, early training in front of the camera! Doesn't she look like she knows exactly what she's supposed to be doing? LOL
Speaking of clothes, I've been buying a lot of them lately. Heading to the ACFW conference tomorrow and I can't wait! All my clothes were too big. I had 91 empty hangers to fill so I made a valiant effort to at least find something to wear. I've had an untapped resource in my home for fashion: Dave. Can you believe it? He's been telling me I ought to wear this or that but I didn't believe him. He's a GUY! But I started watching What Not to Wear (LOVE that show!) and by golly, he was right! So he's been going with me and last night he talked me into a pair of high heeled knee-length boots. Me! Gulp.
The girls and I are going to be drinking too much coffee, eating too much DeBrand's and staying up way too late. Sounds like a prescription for fun, doesn't it? It will be! I'll miss my hubby, but the days will fly by with as busy as we are. And my fabo agent, Karen Solem is coming this year! Actually, she's the agent for three of us: Diann and Denise too. We hope to grab her for some brainstorming because she's really good at it! If you're coming to conference, make sure you grab us and say hi if we don't see you first!
Labels: ACFW Conference, Bercot Children's Wear, high-heeled boots, Kristin Bercot
posted at 8:38 AM
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I have a confession to make. Though I managed good grades in school and am, in fact, a professional writer, I cannot read legal documents.
Doesn't matter how many times I read the same sentence. My readings go something like this. Now, therefore, for and in consideration of the promises, terms, covenants and conditions set forth herein, and for the good and valuable consideration , the receipt and sufficiency of which blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I go back and start the sentence again and even so, I cannot make heads or tails of it.
No offense to all you attorneys out there, but legalese, shmegalese. If you have to use a different language, why not pig latin? I-way eak-spay at-thay. It's almost as if-- ahem--you don't want us to understand it. Because, correct me if I'm wrong, isn't the purpose of language communication? The only thing legal documents communicate to me is You are a stupid ignorant fool. Step away from the document and consult an attorney.
Thank God for my agent who tells me what I'm signing. Nothing makes me feel more stupid than a legal document--except maybe an algebra text book. Please tell me I'm not alone.
PS The photo is a snapshot of my four handsome men taken in Frankenmuth, MI this summer.
posted at 9:11 PM
Friday, September 11, 2009
Yesterday was my day to blog, and I forgot. How lame is that? But the thing is when there is a holiday at the beginning of the week, it just throws me off for the rest of the week. Anyone else like that?
And another thing, I forget EVERYTHING these days. I know I'm getting older, but come on, I'm not THAT old. I go from one room to the next and forget why I went there.
Case in point. Yesterday, I wanted to see if my document printed off in the back bedroom. So I make my way back there and pass our bedroom on the way. I step into our bedroom, spot my glasses, pick them up and head back to the kitchen where I was working. As soon as I put them on and sit down, I remember why I had gotten up. I need that document.
So I get up again, make my way toward the bedroom. The phone rings. I pick it up, talk a few minutes and wouldn't you know it, end back up in the kitchen in front of my computer. Still no printed document.
On the third try, I'm a woman on a mission. Mental blinders on either side of my eyes, keeping me focused on the goal. I run, I push toward the mark, I score!!!! Document in hand, I head back to the kitchen with purpose.
On the way back to the kitchen, I spot some toys that the grandkids left out in the living room. I lay aside the document and start picking up . . . well, you can guess what happened from there. Took me all morning to get me and that document in front of the computer at the same time.
Anybody else have this problem?
posted at 8:28 AM
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
It's a special day. A week from today I get to see my friends at the ACFW conference. IT's been years since the four of us were together. I think the last time we took the pictures for our blog -- and I'm not going to even say that I think about what size I was then, and how I'm not that size now. No, why would I relinquish those kinds of secrets? The important thing is Colleen has lost enough weight for all of us put together, so we can get together now without cause for eating alarm. D, this is your cue that it's all right to bring truffles. I'll eat Colleen's if she's abstaining.
I've turned in all my current books/edits and it's onto the next things, so I get to brainstorm with my girls. I get to not hear Mom 400 times a day for five days and I get to spend my DSW gift certificate I got for my birthday. So you see, a good day!
When I can see the bottom of my desk, that it's actual wood, that makes me feel good. What's your measure of a good day?
"She's Out of Control" in German.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
I don't really enjoy shopping. I know all women are supposed to love shopping, but my problem is I can never find what I want. Right now I'm looking for clothes to wear to the conference next week. I've been to SteinMart four times, to Penneys twice. I'm about to go again tonight. I had these jackets I just love that I bought last year but they're all too big now. You'd think I could find something similar but no such luck! I also need something to wear to the award night but I'm still losing weight and I hate to buy anything too expensive for a one time wearing.
We went to Saugatuck this weekend with our son and his family, my parents and Dave's mom. A full house but very fun! And I looked in every shop for jackets but none of them were right. I want some jackets with some slimming seams. Any advice on where to look? I have just one week to find something and I'm getting desperate! Even ordering online would work if you find something cute. And remember, I'm a winter. That means primary colors like navy, black, gray, red, royal blue. Have you noticed how things this year are ORANGE? Only autumns wear orange well and that's the least common season. What are designers thinking? I look like a pumpkin in orange!
So here's your chance to dress me. I need advice!
Labels: jackets, Saugatuck, shopping
posted at 9:24 AM
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Friday night, hubby and I went to see The Lettermen in concert. I'm NOT talking David Letterman. I'm talking "The Lettermen" singing group. It's a group of three men who have a blended harmony that curls my toes.
Okay, so these guys have been around a while (the picture is OLD). I sang their tunes as a kid. Loved 'em. So we get there and find ourselves in a sea of white-haired people. Okay, to be fair, I don't even know what color my hair is anymore, but still. I knew we were in trouble when I saw an elderly lady dragging an oxygen tank beside her. I figured she was planning for a wild concert.
Anyway, the concert was everything I hoped for and so much more. They were FABULOUS, entertaining, fun, offered fantastic music--everything was perfect. I didn't care who was around because during the concert, no matter how old we were in reality, we were all sixteen again.
We had such fun that afterwards hubby took me to Applebees where we had an appetizer. We were out till around 12:30--scandelous!!! But, oh, so fun!
When was the last time you had a "date" with the man in your life? I hope in the midst of kids, schedules, work, and appointments, you're able to make time to date now and then. Life is short. Enjoy the journey!
posted at 7:41 AM
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH LIBRARIES
Okay, I admit I'm a library junkie. I love libraries. The tall stacks where I can get lost, the smell of the books, the high ceilings. Some of my best memories of growing up are of being in the library. My parents have pictures of me asleep with a library book in my hand (
Bambi's Children was a favorite) and my local library knows me well. So when I found out Anathema
was a finalist for the Best Books of Indiana award put on by the Indiana State Library, I was soo excited!
My books have won plenty of other awards so you'd think it would be no big deal, right? Wrong. I dithered about what to wear FOR WEEKS! I even changed my mind the morning of the award. LOL Should I get a pedicure? A new haircut? It was really a big deal to me. When we arrived at the state library, I felt like I was a little kid wandering in the library for the first time. I gawked my way to the Indiana Authors Room like I was five instead of, er, my age. :-) I was so happy I'd lost weight too! LOL The room was gorgeous and constructed of all Indiana materials: fabulous walnut bookcases and woodwork, Indiana limestone, ornate carved ceiling. My mouth was hanging open.
The Indiana state librarian, Roberta Brooker, was so gracious and sweet. Even though she didn't judge the fiction category, she told me she's read Anathema
and loved it was now reading the Rock Harbor books. I had my sweet hubby run to the car for a copy of Cry in the Night
for her. When the ceremony started, Roberta had all of us finalists come forward, sign our books, and place them in the collection. I about cried! When I actually won, I'm sure I made a total fool of myself. I blubbered about how my dream when I first started writing was just to have ONE of my books in my local library. Small dream, right? To me it was a huge, nearly unattainable thing.
Isn't God good though? He gives us the desires of our heart. Now my books are in libraries all over the country, and they're also in my state library. The library is going to get all my books for the Indiana Authors Room. I browsed the shelves and saw James Whitcomb Riley, John Jakes, Kurt Vonnegut. And me. All I can say is WOW!
So what's your dream? The one you're nearly afraid to speak of? Dream big! God can do it!
Labels: Best Books of Indiana, Indiana State Library, library
posted at 8:40 AM