Friday, September 26, 2008

A decade of silence and processed cheese products

One day I'm skulking in Wal-Mart looking for ingredients to make a toasted cheese sandwich. Somewhat of a try-to-eat-healthy person, I veer from processed foods.

Don't need to tell you all about the economy, nor do I want to launch into some snot-inducing sob story but it suffices to say the budget is a little tight.

I had to swallow my pride and buy, not only processed cheese product, but Wal-Mart brand generic processed cheese product.

Have you ever read the ingredients?

I'm positive I tasted recycled bicycle tire in there somewhere.

Anyway, that wasn't a good day.

Most of the past ten years hasn't yielded many good days. Why? Because for the most part, God has been silent.

Those of you who know me well, are aware of the intense trials my husband and I have (and still are) going through. You also know about the beast of depression lurking among the carpet fibers of every room in my house.

Over the course of the past decade I got really good at something. Failing. Failing and beating myself up, inviting all sorts of faith supressing strongholds in my life.

A few weeks ago, God made contact again. In some small subtle ways.

At ACFW, He really showed up in the prayer room. Secret stronghold affecting my entire household were discovered and prayed against.

Here's where it gets really cool.

One of my spiritual moms is in California for a memorial service. I called her today and told her about the conference, the prayer and the other cool thing I have yet to tell you. She started laughing and told me that one month ago, while the prayer warriors of our church met, the senior pastor just blurted out prayers for the healing of my husband's emotional wounds. Others joined in. The prayers, the specifics seemed to come out of nowhere.

What was prayed in that room matched what was prayed at ACFW! God is breaking ten depressing years of silence.

In addition to all of that, I received a call today from an agent I pitched to at the ACFW conference. She offered representation!

Sandra Bishop of MacGregor Literary is my agent! She will represent me as we pitch my novel to the general market.

It's impossible to describe the pain, the hopelessness of the past ten years with words. I just can't do it. I don' t want to right now. But never in my 36 years of life have I ever had such a massive God presence. Such a breakthrough. Little things, never anything as critical as all of the above. Okay, getting married and adopting Kyle are big things.

Right now I'm high. I know high is temporary. Still can't afford real cheese. It's a fallen world out there. More spiritual attacks are coming. I chose the most difficult path to publication. The healing hasn't happened yet, but is promised. I don't know the timeline, and things could still be ugly.

But, there is JOY in my litterbox right now and I'm going to revel in it as long as I realistically can.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Caution: Author at work!

I'm not dead, y'know.

From my recent posting history, you all probably thought I fell into some vacuous void of cat vomit, never to return.

Okay. Enough of my alienating alliterary attempts to sound authorly.

The ACFW conference was incredible. Intense. Exhausting.

Not so much because the schedule was packed, but because I've entered unfamiliar territory. My manuscript is complete (except for the fact I can always think of a million different ways to make it better). My agent hunt is off to a good start.

I'm in the game.

I can't shuffle around writers' conferences anymore clutching my backpack straps with both hands, wondering what the heck this whole business is about.

Two agents express interest in The Plot Against Mr. Plank. One has read the entire mss. He read it in one sitting then passed it off to his assistant who complained I kept her up all night.

Now them's the kinda words I love to hear!


My affection for cliff-hangy ending works great for chapter breaks, but not for conclusions. Both readers felt I forgot to send the last two chapters.

My rationale was, "well, I'm working on book number two in the series and I'm leaving these loose ends to carry over..."

The constructive advice was, "Readers don't want to feel compelled to buy your next book. They don't want to wait one or two years to find out what happens. By then, they won't care. Also, what if book number one is the only one that sells? It's got to stand alone."

Awesome advice. I've started working on the final chapters. And, I must get it done in one week!

So. My posts may be short and even bizarre.

That's because I'm busting really hard to expand my ending and get both agents all that I have and see how God leads from there.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Obstacles of the most absurd kind

Have I been sucked through some interdimensional rift where the weirdest things in the world are popping up, diverting my attention and time from getting my novel to an agent by Monday?

It all started Monday when I heard Kim Woodhouse speak about "writing through adversity".

The following morning, my entire mss was requested by an agent. I'm in the middle of line edits and have set a goal to have the darn thing sent off no later than Monday.


Monday I had the distinct pleasure of gulping down a half gallon of radio-active isotopes in preparation for an abdominal CAT scan. I'm gonna skip over the details, but please know, drinking that stuff created gastro-intestinal distress beyond my wildest nightmare!

Tuesday my knee decided to have a REALLY BAD knee day. I had writer's group in the morning, then after lunch, physical therapy which lasted longer than usual b/c my knee refuses to stop swelling.

By the time I arrived home, I had to feed the Booger and traipse off to band practice.

Weds - I did some writing, but had more medical crap to deal with (including the continual saga of the never-ending intestinal distress)

Thursday, John woke me up as he was leaving for work to tell me the power was out. A transformer blew up and we'd be w/o power until late morning. We've been in this house 8 years and have NEVER had a power outage. Genius that I am, I failed to charge both my cell and laptop Weds night. Planned on doing it Thursday morning! Oh, then had to talk to doc about the volcanic activity down below and then there was band practice.

Today seemed to be off to a good start. Nothing on the schedule until late afternoon. Got through a few more chapters of line editing. Then John called. I had to try to get Booger's health insurance switched from group to individual to save some $$.

Several hours later - I'm where I started. IT, Member services, Web master specialists - none of them could get me through the application process w/o something cyber going wrong. One lady did the app w/ me over the phone which took 1.5 hours. Answering tedious questions about Boog's illegal drug use and pregnancy histories. She e-mailed the form, all I needed to do was add an electronic signature. One page from that magic space, the radio buttons on the web page asking if the 2 year old Booger was a business group of one, refused to mark. I saved (IT person was on phone w/ me). I tried to log in... lost EVERYTHING!!!

Now, I need to find a fax number to which they can fax and app so I can fill the whole thing out AGAIN (I'm making John do it this time.) and try to fax it back.

In a few minutes I have another knee appt. My afternoon writing time is gone. I have 80 pages left to edit. 8 hour band practice tomorrow. I leave for ACFW in MN on Tuesday of next week and haven't started to get ready for that yet (packing wise).

I'm trying to write through pain and adversity. But, power outages and IT nightmares have pushed me over the edge.

The urge to do something stupid is consuming me. I want to put socks on the blades of my ceiling fan, smell a tomato plant and dunk my head underwater and hold my breath for 40 minutes.

But alas, I have to get it done. I can't not.


Thursday, September 04, 2008

Have I sold my soul to Satan - or

am I conducting some sort of maddening experiment?

Work from home. Yeah, sure.

Make money RIGHT NOW. You have to make enough $$ to pay your health insurance premiums.

I have been working from home for the past four years writing my novel. I just haven't been paid for what I do professionally. Yet.

But it doesn't help us pay our monthly bills which due to all the inflation, now exceed our income.

Thousands, if not tens of thousands of "work from home" offers bask along the world wide web highway. They try to lure desperate, hurting people with claims like - "Make up to 5K in one month!" Almost all of those are either scams or multilevel marketing ploys in disguise (john checked a few out, can we say MISLEADING advertising?)

One thing that kept popping up was the chance to join marketing research groups and take surveys online. For money. No promises of instant wealth, just a few hundred extra dollars a month or more. Depends on how many surveys one submits.

Pressure of a zero balance and real fear of loosing health care pushed me to fill out that first "profile". One profile leads to two hundred more. I'm not kidding.

I reek at managing my normal e-mail inflow. My poor ADHD self is paralyzed by the spam.

Here's how the survey system works.

Earn $30 immediately by completing and submitting this survey about your favorite toilet paper.

So, I go to the survey site, spend who knows how long filling out all the info.

Much to my horror, I'm expected to sign up for monthly TP delivery costing $80/yr.

Spend $80 to make $30.


Um, I'm not making money.

Other surveys require me to sign up for Blockbuster or Netflix to get paid $50. So there is a 14 day free trial period. I have to remember to cancel before my poor credit card is charged.

Spend to get paid. Spend more than I'm getting paid. I don't think so!

Now, every company from colon cleansers to gormet coffees are spamming my inbox.

Want a $500 Visa gift card?

Just fill out this "simple" survey (which requires you spend at least $200 on "sponsors" special offers).

What have I done to myself? I'm spending hours declining offers for mentholated cigarettes and Viagra (mentholated Viagra?).

Which takes time from writing. Which makes me cranky after I force myself to write until my shoulders revolt. Which makes me bare my claws and fangs at any creature who approaches within twelve inches of me.

I'm freaked b/c I feel like I was duped. I did do something stupid b/c I need to stay home with Kyle and my "real job" isn't going over well with the finance czar.

Maybe I can use this disasterous mistake for an article pitch. I'm experiencing the horror of 21st Century advertising.

If you don't see me, I'm lying dead and crushed under a heap of spammy e-mails demanding something I don't have.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Rotting corpses, drug houses... Welcome to my neighborhood

There's a dead body out side my front door. In a red car. You can see the legs hanging out of the passenger side.

Yellow police tape circles my neighborhood, screaming to passersby, "Crime scene!"

No, this is not a Brandilyn Collins novel.

This is real.

Nothing draws people like a scene from CSI. I also found out there have been several break-ins on my street. Some successful.

All of the crime comes from the Peach Tree apartments between Wadsworth and Sheridan, on Hampden.

A few years ago there was a shooting in the parking lot. Happened while the kids were getting off the school bus. Less than a hundred yards from my front door.

We can't move. Who'd buy our house?

So, I'm going to try to band together neighbors and get Peach Tree declared a public nuisance. It's been talked about before by the Denver City Council. Counselwoman, Jeanne Faatz, has been very helpful.

You can help too, by sending e-mail of concern for the families in my neighborhood. District 4 is our police HQ.

Why is it that whenever I try to take my thoughts captive to Christ, something really ookey happens?

Pray for us. I'm scared right now. Scared for the Booger, John and I.

Pray the evil out of this neighborhood. Pray that apartment complex gets shut down and torn down.