So, lots of changes have been happening and we have been crazy. Ron's been doing shows, we got a new job, he starts teaching again (first day back at school is tomorrow) and lots of major changes with our family and friends. Which is why I haven't been posting.

And I'm posting now to say I'm moving to wordpress.com permanently. My new blog is at http://valmarie.wordpress.com, so come visit me there.




My Personal Soundtrack: A metronome and my husband running through exercises on his bass guitar

I am so tired. Vacation Bible School started this week and a bunch of stuff went completely haywire in the four and a half hours I was at the church. Then, I had to tutor and then Ron came home and we fell asleep on the couch for about three hours because we were just that tired. It was an incredibly long day and it's only Monday. Pray for us y'all. We need it.

Anyway, it's Book-in-a-Week week too. I made a conservative goal of 20pgs. And I think that will be a stretch for me considering the way the week is shaping up, but it's only 3pgs a day and I can definitely write that much (but not today--I'm just shooting for a page of decent material on HLB because I need to go back to bed.)

And, because, I'm totally beat I'm going to refer you to Pub Rants where Kristin Nelson has been running a very informative series called Agenting 101. Enjoy!


Update on the Submission

My Personal Soundtrack: You Mae Me Feel So Young by Frank Sinatra (via Pandora)

So, I got an e-mail yesterday informing me that Tsaba House received my manuscript. She asked me to be patient with them because she's got some manuscripts from her current authors on her desk (and, of course, those take priority!) and they're headed to a trade show next week (ICRS, the International Christian Retail Show, in Denver; I think it had a different name last year).

It was really great of her to send the e-mail, so I know what's going on. I'm doing a remarkable job of not freaking out about the things I can't control, so I'm just going to keep writing (the thing I can control).



A tip of the hat to Cleolinda for passing along this link about simpler spelling.

The person who wrote this article is hysterical, jaunting into the proposed spelling of words for several sentences at a time. Yes, I could still read it, but it made my brain hurt.

[Summer school (I'm teaching not going) and tutoring are draining me right now, hopefully, I'll have some original content for y'all sometime. But, for the moment, I'm just trying to get back into the habit of posting regularly.]


Books to Rock Your World

So, apparently, some librarians in Britain have made a list of the 30 books everyone should read before they die.

A tip of the hat to Miss Snark for the link. I've read 12 of the books and I haven't heard of 5.

But, last night, as I went to bed, I started thinking about what 30 books would I recommend that everyone should read before they die.

Here's my start of a list (I know its short, but I'll finish it eventually)in no particular order:

The Bible
Ender's Game
Charlotte's Web
Where the Red Fern Grows
My Side of the Mountain
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Black Like Me
Mere Christianity
A Tale of Two Cities
Farenheit 451
To Kill a Mockingbird
A Christmas Carol

So, there's thirteen to get you started. What books do you think people should read before they die?


Hit & Run

My Personal Soundtrack: Hard Day on the Planet by Loudon Wainwright III (via Pandora

It's Buy A Friend A Book Week and, in honor of their first anniversary, they're running a contest.

The contest started on July 1st and will run through July 7th, with a different puzzle introduced each day at a different site. You'll have to go to these participating sites on the appropriate days in order to get information about each day's puzzle. (After they are initially announced, all six puzzles will remain available for the duration of the contest. Thus contestants who learn of the puzzle later in the week will not be barred from participating.)

Contest participants must complete the contest's six puzzles and answer a Final Question on the final day of the contest. Three prize winners will be drawn at random from all correct responses received. See the contest's official rules here.

The contest winners will receive hundreds of dollars worth of literary prizes--stacks of books and free memberships in LibraryThing and even a text editor. See the prize list here.

Here's the schedule of events:

July 1 -- Puzzle #1 introduced at Grumpy Old Bookman
July 2 -- Puzzle #2 introduced at Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind
July 3 -- Puzzle #3 introduced at This Writing Life
July 4 -- Puzzle #4 introduced at Books, Inq.
July 5 -- Puzzle #5 introduced at Refrigerator Door
July 6 -- Puzzle #6 introduced at No Rules. Just Write
July 7 -- Final question posed at Buy a Friend a Book

Get yourself to these sites on the appointed days and follow the directions you find there. Good luck!


So, not only do you get to do some fun literary-related puzzles, you get introduced to some pretty interesting blogs.

Have fun! And don't forget to buy a friend a book!


These Magic Changes

My Personal Soundtrack: You are the Sun by Sara Groves (via Pandora)

So, it's been several weeks since my last post, eh? I didn't mean to be away for so long, but lots of stuff has been going on in the last three weeks. I'm hoping to get back to some kind of regular posting schedule now, but, every time, I say that something else happens to run me off track, so maybe I just won't say it this time. Except I already did. We'll just ignore that.


So, I started teaching summer school (Geometry and Trigonometry) which, even though my classes are small, has been quite the adventure. And I tutor several days a week as well, so, getting back into the world of working regularly has been interesting, but I think I've got the hang of it now.

And, in my left-over time from that, I was getting what I have written so far into shape to send to the editor who requested it. I made some changes in later chapters and I would normally wait until I was at the end to go back and fix the character issues and logic errors, but with someone asking to see what I had written to date, I didn't exactly have that luxury. But that's done and sent off, so it's completely out of my hands. (See my happy dance! w00t!) And now, I can go back to just writing.

There's also been a lot of random other time-consuming things (a million and a half graduation parties which we had to attend because all of our kids are graduating this year, friends in from out-of-town), but there's one huge thing that Ron and I are stepping into (no, we're not pregnant. yet.):

We are going to be the Children's Pastors at our church.

This is something we have been praying and discussing for a long time and we're really excited about it. We're not sure of our official start date yet because our senior pastor just had twins (About six weeks early, but everyone knew they were coming early just not when) and he's (understandably) consumed with that, so we've still got some kinks to work out.

But, yeah, Children's Pastors. And we're going in as a husband-wife team because, honestly, that's the only way it's going to work.

But, anyways, Happy Independence Day! And I'll try not to forsake you again.


Power Outage

So, I intended to post the second part of the Fear of Success post today, but our power just came back on. We've been off since 5am this morning in our entire neighborhood. We're back on now, but I don't have the time to type up the long post now, so it will have to wait until tomorrow.

For the moment though, think about this quote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won't feel unsure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. As we let our own Light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

--Marianne Williamson


Fear of Success, Part I: Background

My Personal Soundtrack: Humble Me by Norah Jones (via Pandora)

[Contest: I received no entried for the contest. Probably because my blog traffic was severely reduced by my long silence. I'll post a review and try again when I start getting regular visitors again.]

I travel with the Christopher Hopper Band (I'm the barefoot one sitting in the front). Christopher (in addition to being a youth pastor, prolific songwriter, anointed worship leader, and great friend) is an author.

His first book, The Rise of the Dibor (Tsaba House, June 2006, ISBN:0972548602), releases this week. We're considering driving upstate for the launch party on Friday because, honestly, how often do you get to celebrate a friend's first book? (Well, considering that I have a lot of writer friends that chance comes along a little more often for me.) But, anyways, back to the point.

Earlier this year, Chris asked me about Hush Little Baby and asked me to send him the first chapter. So I did. And he passed it up to his editor, who e-mailed me asking to see more.

And I was really excited, but also really freaked out because HLB wasn't done.

And the more I thought about it, the more I freaked out. And, so I dropped off the face of the Internet, and away from the people who could keep me accountable about it. A bunch of stuff happened in Chris's life and I managed to avoid him for a couple of months too.

I convinced myself that I wasn't walking around in complete bondage and fear. Finally, I faced up to what was happening to me, and, with God's help, broke free of it.

Memorial Day weekend, we had a gig with Chris. Of course, HLB and Tsaba House were the first things he asked me about. I took a deep breath and confessed what had happened, unsure of what his reaction would be.

Chris surprised me.

He put himself on the line for me, called his editor, and advocated for me. I thought my chance with Tsaba House was gone. But there is grace. She still wants to see HLB, is still excited about what she's read so far and she's willing to read it even though it's not done.

So, that's the background story. And the issue I want to discuss this week is this fear that had me locked up.

It's not the rejection I'm scared of, really it's not. I'm scared of success.


The Secret Life of Becky Miller Contest

Today I'm participating in a blog tour of Sharon Hinck's The Secret Life of Becky Miller (Bethany House, June 2006, ISBN: 0764201298).

Sharon was kind enough to send me a review copy of her novel which arrived last week. Unfortunately, I haven't finished it yet, but I'm throughly enjoying the story so far. Read the first chapter here.

Sharon is an incredibly cool person who loves to find adventure in her everyday life. She's rapelled down the outside of a five-story building and has been almost arrested for gang violence while rehearsing for an outdoor production of West Side Story.

So, in honor of Sharon's new book, I'm proposing a contest. Leave a comment relating an adventure from your everyday life and you'll be entered to win a copy of The Secret Life of Becky Miller by Sharon Hinck (Of course, you can leave a comment and not enter too.). Contest open to everyone on the planet (make sure you leave an e-mail address or blog url or some way I can touch base with you if you when or just make sure to come back next Saturday). I'll draw the winner's name from the comments on Saturday, June 10, 2006.

More about the book:

Faster Than a Speeding Minivan, Able to Leap Piles of Laundry in a Single Bound...It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Supermom!

Becky Miller is a young mom who wants to do Big Things for God. Her vivid daydreams help her cope with the pressure to be a Wonderful Wife and Marvelous Mother. Yet the tape going through her mind continues to play:

Your mission: support your husband when he loses his job, nurture an eccentric circle of friends, raise perfect Christian children, cook delicious meals in a spotless kitchen, lead the women's ministry at church, and live a life filled with Meaning and Purpose.

How does this supermom react when her grand plans start to fall apart? What will it take for her to turn off the tape and listen to God's voice instead?


Remember to post a comment and enter the contest! :-)



Today I realized that I needed a better filing system. I spent a forty-five minutes searching my room for the outline for the book I wanted to work on. My room is messy at the moment, and, I'm sure that my love of writing everything down on yellow legal pads didn't help at all.

I think I knew this haphazard filing scheme needed to end. A couple of weeks ago, I stocked up on manila folders and hanging file folders for my file cabinets (which I use for other things, but not for my writing).

But still, I've got to figure out a better way. Something that is efficient and works for me.

After I'm done writing.


Replenishing the Well

I just got back from a week in Virginia Beach. Ron and I went as chaperones for the senior class trip but our kids were so good that we didn't have much of an actual "job" while we were there.

I saw and swam in the ocean for the first time. I got a tattoo (painted not permanent) of a gecko on my neck. I fished for the first time (but didn't catch anything). I went body surfing and almost drowned one of the girls. I went to bed late and slept late. I listened to my girls talking about everything. We sung a lot. I walked a lot. I petted stingrays at the aquarium.

I had lots of new experiences and now I don't feel so dry. Before we went away, I felt spent and exhausted every time I thought about writing. Not good, especially since I wanted to write.

This week, I didn't worry about the writing. I just enjoyed each moment with all of my senses. And today, I'm coming back to the keyboard and feeling alive again.

It's a good way to feel.

P.S. If you're feeling burnt-out, read Stephanie Bond's excellent article, Regain Your Creativity in One Week (warning: opens a PDF file).