Survival of the most persistant

So I wrote a book, the title is Dissident. There’s so much to tell you. I don’t even know where to start. How about publishing. I had no idea what I was really getting myself into when I opened that word doc nearly two years ago.

To get a book in print, it’s best to go through an agent. At least for your first book. Querying agent after agent to see who is willing to represent it. This agent will find a publisher who will buy it and turn it into something amazing that people will buy.

And you can guess what happens when you’re an invisible first time author trying to get attention in a sea of others just like you. An endless parade of rejection letters. Or worse, just being ignored. I read somewhere that you should expect to be rejected (or ignored) 100 times before you find someone willing to take you seriously.

Not sure how true that is. But it was scare me away from the profession for a long time. Talk about a colossal waste of time.

But I also read that those who make it in the industry aren’t necessarily the ones with talent. This profession is all about survival of the most persistent.  Or in my case, relentless.

So at this date, I think I’m about a third of the way to my goal of querying 100 different agencies. After about the first ten it became a game of cut and paste. Each agent wants something just a bit different, but really it’s all the same. The same questions asked in a different order. Cut. Paste. Send. Next email.

Except for the guy who asked me what other ideas I had. Which made me laugh. Because he doesn’t realize that I have well organized outlines for about 10 more books on my computer waiting for my attention, and about 100 loose threads that are waiting in the corners of my mind for their turn to be woven into something that makes sense. And beyond that there’s a slush pile of random story elements that could be something. Someday. So we’ll just put the lid back on that can of worms and move on.

Survival of the persistent I tell you. Someone has to tell all these stories.  Make sense out of these pieces. I guess it's going to have to be me.

I’ll keep you posted.


The truth about the truth

The more fiction I write, the more I’m completely fascinated by it. And by how it’s totally not what I thought it was. So as I wrote my little book I had a handful of questions that I wanted to answer.

The first one is how do you fight a war without a weapon in your hand.

The second was what does it take to turn a nice boy into a murderer.

But there’s more.

With this book I wanted to think about Church politics. If you haven’t read the book, I have it set up so that the “favored” community represents the church as a body of believers set up over several locations. With my Academy set up as a representative physical church. A place my characters assume they’ll be safe from the murderous Underlanders.

But as most Christians are aware, standing in a church does not make you a Christian in the way that standing in a garage does not make you a car.

My characters are not safe in their church. The church has just as much internal conflict as any other organization that mankind dreamed up. Administrative runaround, discrimination and cliques, putting the needs of one’s self ahead of the needs of the group at large. No one likes to admit that these things exist within the church, but they do.

So much untapped tension in the church. I love it. So much more I can’t wait to point out in the future.

Don’t call us goody-two shoes. You have no idea. We’re just as messed up as you are.

So not so much of a question this time around as a comment on human nature.

True safety will never be found with another human or within a building.

The whole Christianity faith has so many different little nuance-y conflicts. Internal conflicts, external conflicts, some are more pronounced than others. But they're all rather beautiful in their own right, I’m not sure how many I’ll be able to address with these books. Some day. All of it. All these pretty little threads that tangle up my mind will be woven into something that makes sense to someone else.




On creating a murderer

When I first started writing I was all about trying to figure out a series of events that followed a logical progression. But after I was nearly done with the first draft of this book I realized I had no idea how to write a book. I had no idea that it wasn’t really about the sequence of events at all.

It was mostly about how my characters responded to what I did to them.

As in how they survived the worst things I could think up to do to them. Because the backbone of good fiction is pushing your character to his limit, just to see what he’ll do.

One of the questions I set out to answer in this story is what happens when you take a couple of normal people, people like me and my family, and back them into a corner. Then give them a weapon and see what they do.

When I think about my male lead, Tobias, I think of my son, Alex. What would it take for my boy to take a weapon and use it to murder someone? Would he be able to do it? How far would an enemy have to push him to get him to that point? And when he got to that point, would he really be able to do it? Would he lay down and die or fight back? If i was me, I’d probably just die.
Which is why I’m not a character in my story.


When characters revolt

So I’ve probably said it before, but I’ll say it again. Writing fiction does weird things to your head.

I’ve always had a bit of a screw loose (don’t laugh, Dad). I know. But writing fiction takes my oddness to a whole new level. So let me tell you a bit what it’s like when your characters decide that they’re real people. And don’t believe you when you try to say otherwise.

In the book I wrote, Dissident, my female character is Shiloh. I wanted her to follow in the footsteps of the other strong feminine warrior heroes. With girls like Katniss and Tris to live up to, she needed to be fierce or get out of the way.

But. One day I was twiddling around, trying to avoid responsibility and so I sat down with Pinterest to find some visuals. Ok. I decided to take her shopping. Shiloh and I. Shopping on Pinterest. Weird things to your head I tell you.

So anyway I was trying to figure out weapons and such, and she told me she didn’t want a sword. She wanted lace. LACE. I died just a bit when she said that. How am I supposed to have a warrior in a lacy top. Seriously. But she wasn’t kidding. Then she picked out a gold necklace that she wanted (which incidentally made it into the book, her picking out a gold necklace in town) because SHE WAS A GIRL and wanted to be treated LIKE A GIRL.

Who was I to argue?

So after her little “don’t give me a sword tantrum” I was left to figure out how to deal with this heroine who needed to learn how to be fierce without a weapon in her hand. I think as the story continues (still collecting ideas, but I think I’ll be able to complete the story with three books) I think you’ll be pleased to see how Shiloh figures out how to wage battle against her enemy without the sword I tried to give her. How to fight corruption and injustice on her own terms. How wars are one with words instead of with weapons.

Which is so much better than what I had originally figured out.

Strange things to your head I tell you. Characters that write their own stories.

Characters that don’t realize that they don’t really exist.

This is my world.


Death to perfectionism. Don't tell my realtor.

God has been showing me so much as we’ve been in the transition to a different house these last few months.

A big part of the moving process is making your house presentable enough for other families to come and look at it. To see how they would live their lives in your space. Which presents interesting challenges when your family obviously does not fit in the space they’re confined to. And you have a special needs child who doesn’t have the slightest clue about how the process works.

So a challenge was thrown down. The challenge to find the balance between maintaining show ready perfection and the reality that we are real people living real lives. That balance is going to be different for everyone, but when I prayed over the quandary this is the answer I got.

 Let people into your imperfect house. Not because they’re going to buy it, but because it’s ok to call perfectionism a trap. I don’t need your house to be perfect to sell it, so just trust Me on this one.

Ugh. That was a hard pill to swallow. Laughing in the face of the natural inclination towards perfectionism. Choosing to be above having a perfect house, when every fiber of my being screamed that my rational was insane and demented. Intentionally leaving those tiny Legos in the crevices of my house because God said I could. Such a rebel. I know. Don’t tell my realtor.

So from the home owner who’s probably a bit too far on the “anti show ready” end of the spectrum. Well. What can I say,

Besides screw you people who made fun of the Lego’s on my floor.

Ok, that was mean. Maybe what I want to say is I would prefer not to manipulate you into thinking that we are perfect people living perfect lives with children who never touch anything. Thank you for not noticing the stray Legos that are EVERYWHERE. We’ll take them with us when we leave, but until you put in an offer, it’s really not worth it to try to get every single one off the floor. So there. God bless.


the rest of the mower story

So last time I told you the mower story. A story about how I almost gave up on life because I couldn’t start the stupid mower.

Which wasn’t so much a story about having a tidy yard as much as it was a testament to the fact that God uses funny things to show us the Truth.

But in the days that followed that little showdown, in the moments where the tears came back each time I considered what had really happened that sunny summer morning on my driveway, I had to wonder why.

Jesus and me. We’re like this. Thick as thieves. So why on earth did He let the failure chatter get so thick that I was ready to give up over something so silly? Where were the warning lights? Caution tape? A quick “hey lady you’re being silly. Stop it.” would have gone a long way.

So a few days after that little stunt I was standing in my new “sanctuary” (aka that spot on my driveway where that stupid mower finally started up) trying to get a sense of why things had gone down the way they had and got a moment of revelation.

Satan had permission to call me a failure until I hit my breaking point so that Jesus could show me that I wasn’t. End of story.

Working mowers don’t lie. A freshly mown lawn is proof that everyone can see. A flashing beacon if you know the story behind it. Jesus was here. Satan is dumb. Don’t believe him.


the infamous mower story

Over the last couple weeks I’ve been sharing with you about how the transition to a new house has affected me and the things that I’ve learned from the process. I hope in some odd way you’ve found a way to connect to our situation. Or at least laugh about it.

So this last one is a bit personal. The kind of personal that makes me guard it fiercely because I don’t want to be that vulnerable with you. But those are the best stories. Am I right?

So here we go. Eek.

Our house has been on the market for 4 months. 4 agonizing months. Which is normal. I know. But for some reason I thought we’d be special and get an offer in the first 3-5 days. Which we did, but then they walked away. Long story.

So 4 months in to the process I’m feeling rather vulnerable and angry that this isn’t what I signed up for, because I’m the mother of a special boy and I’m ENTITLED to an easy transition. So GIVE ME WHAT I WANT. OR ELSE.

Ha ha, I know. I’ll give you a moment to get your chuckling under control.

Ok, so that’s where my little heart is, all angry and frustrated about the slowness of the transition. And I’m vulnerable with a capital V.

When Satan tries to tell me that this is my fault because I’m a failure.

This little “I’m a failure” bubble followed me around for at least a week. Subtle at first, but the more I listened to it the more I heard it. I’m a failure at moving. I’m a failure at special needs parenting. I’m a failure at… fill in the blank with your own topic, because I fail at everything.

Which sounds funny to you, because you aren’t the one who was vulnerable.

So this is the storm that’s raging in my head and I refuse to tell anyone about it and I’m just trying to breathe in and out (because I obviously am not a failure at breathing) and I go out to mow the grass.

 And can’t get the mower to start.

And the world's biggest liar whispers in my ear: See I told you that you were a failure. You can’t even mow. Just sit down and accept your failure.

Cut to the image of the girl crumpled up on the driveway this close to admitting defeat. This close to believing a life crippling lie once and for all.

When truth whispers. “Wait! Wait! One. More. Just try one more time.”

So with a face soaked in tears, and a heart full of doubt, I give the stupid thing one more yank (pulling a muscle in my shoulder, thank you very much).

And the mower starts.

These are the things that only happen in the movies. Am I right?

Let’s just sit a spell and let the glory settle. The stupid mower started. But only after I chose to listen to the Truth. Even though I thought it was a really dumb idea. And I sort of only did it so that I could call the Truth a Lie. No joke.

And I have a strained muscle in my shoulder. Not because I yanked too hard on that stupid mower, but because I had an arm wrestling match with Satan. And I won. Which is a bit predictable when you think about it. But it didn’t seem like it at the time.

So then, what can I say, besides let my perfectly mowed lawn stand as a tribute to the Truth. Every time you drive past it (this week because surely I’ll just have to mow it again before too much longer) you’ll praise your God because He started that mower when I wanted to quit.

And each time the failure chatter starts again I just go stand in my yard. In that little spot where my arm wrestling match took place.  And I look at the grass. It’s a nice spot, really, right up by the road. You should come stand there sometimes too.


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