Category Archives: NCWA Writers Renewal

The Voice of Vicodin

A few short hours after I returned from the hospital Friday morning,
the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal began,
an annual writing conference sponsored by Northwest Christian Writers Association.
With adrenalin and caffeine,
I jumped into my day  fulfilling some responsibilities I volunteered for,
including chauffeuring our guest speaker, Dr. Robert Cornuke.
A Biblical adventurer and investigator, founder of the BASE Institute,
he has searched for Noah’s Ark, the Ark of the Covenant,
After the age of 50, he began publishing books, and had 8 published in 10 years.
His keynote address, writing workshop and closing remarks
were a great encouragement for the writers gathered.
For those of us who get exhausted climbing a few stairs,
it was exciting to see footage of his mountainous adventures.
When he learned my brother, Lee,
couldn’t attend any of the meetings due to a little heart problem,
he asked to accompany me to the hospital for a visit on Saturday.
I knew my brother Lee was recovering well when they immediately began discussing
ancient manuscripts, hieroglyphics, ancient history and the Cuneiform alphabet.
Dr. Cornuke went through passages in the Bible to discuss his discovery
of four anchors, which lead him to the high probability that he found Paul’s shipwreck.
My brother was uncharacteristically exuberant over the visit.
He exclaimed,
“Next to getting saved,
this was the best day of my life!”
His wife, Nita, remember she just
saved his life,
gently challenged him about another special day in Lee’s life –
their wedding day.
When I said goodbye to Lee he said,
“I love you, Sweetie.”
It was shocking, in a heart warming kinda’ way.
I was thinking that maybe this trauma had not just stopped his heart,
but maybe softened it a little.
Maybe my big brother would become a litte less Norwegian,
and a little more affectionate.
It was encouraging.
Until last night.
I dropped in to find him with a stack of paperwork next to his computer.
 He said, “I was reading my charts and found out why
 I was so happy in the hospital. 
I mean, I’m always pretty positive,
but I was just really, really, happy.
They were givin’ me
VICODIN.”
That explained it all.
He didn’t remember calling me Sweetie.
He admitted that the wedding day was a little more special
that meeting Dr. Robert Cornuke,
although he was thankful and appreciative for the opportunity to meet him.
Now, the brother I have always known is back.
A little stoic, a little reserved and not very affectionate.
But, I will always remember those sweet words,
whispered by the Voice of Vicodin.

Why Do I Write?

Because the words scream in my head until I write them down. I need to write for me.

The words burn in my soul…

They nag me with silent proddings…

They won’t stop speaking to me until I release them into letters, words, sentences and paragraphs.
The ideas, the thoughts, the verses, the solution, the questions, the longings, the satisfactions, all jumble together in my heart, mind, body and soul.

The only way I can make sense is to write it down. I capture the words and make them useful, tame them, and organize them.

It used to be a clean, crisp sheet of white paper with those perfectly spaced blue lines and the perfect pen that would set my heart racing. A pen that wrote quickly and smoothly, not leaving those little blogs of ink behind. When I had a bad pen, I had to keep a tissue next to my paper to keep those blobs from marring the flow of my heart as it tried to trace a path to the paper.

When the computers came into my home, it was hard turnover in my heart.

It didn’t seem like writing when my hands were poised over the keyboard.

However, thanks to Mr. Short and his typing class my freshman year of high school, I can type way faster than I can write, and it after awhile, it became the new normal. My fingers fly as long as the words are flowing.

Now what stops me is not the little blobs of ink.

Sometimes I just forget.

I lose a sentence mid-air and the thought is cut in half like it went through the chop saw, the bottom piece falling into a black chasm.

Sometimes the tears are flowing and the emotions are going faster than my fingers can begin to capture, but I relive those thoughts until they can be tamed, calmed and captured.

Sometimes the thoughts are so sluggish, I can’t get them to rise to the surface of my heart, the pain is there, the hope is there, or the joy is there, but no words are there. Just the fingers, waiting to serve the soul.

Why do I write?

I write for others. What I have experienced and learned through the refiner’s fire and through the joys that know no limits, I need to share, I cannot be selfish for anything I have learned from the heart and words of the Lord. What He has given me I cannot hoard. Like manna for the day, I cannot store His treasures, waiting for another day. He gives, I share.

I write for those that cannot write. I write for those who dare not yet speak of their experiences, they live vicariously through mine. I share my heart, they nod, weep and sing in agreement on the other side of my computer, knowing I have expressed their hearts that are beating in the same heartbeat.

Why do I write?

I write for the Lord. He has given me all things, in all things I must give Him glory and honor. Every breath is from Him, every thought is from Him, every joy is from Him, every sorrow is from Him. He gives liberally, of His joys and sorrows, always surrounding each experience with His presence, His love, His grace and His mercy.

My heart must praise Him, He is worthy of my praise.

All He has given me, I must give back to Him.

So, I write.

**********
This weekend I am blessed to be participating in the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal,
an amazing writers conference.
Their theme verse is
Psalm 45:1
My heart overflows with a good theme;
I address my verses to the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer

When Mommy Plays, She Pays

Once in awhile,
it’s good to get away from the home,
and do something
just
for
Mommy.
It might be just
a coffee date with a few other mommies.
Maybe you get to actually
shop
alone.
All alone.
Not, “I’m just taking the baby” alone,
or “I’m just taking the poddy-training one” alone.
All
 alone.
Now that I am getting to be a grown-up Mommy,
with more grown-up kids,
all can feed themselves,
all can dress themselves,
all poddy-trained,
(so sorry to rub it in!)
occasionally, I get to do some fun things in life.
 
But when I come back,
my life is waiting.
This weekend I was blessed to attend
a two day conference with Brandilyn Collins speaking.
We had many other workshops on the craft of writing.
I met a lot of Christian writers.
I met the senior editor from Harvest House
and the fiction editor from Bethany House.
(I picked them up from the airport and didn’t get in an accident,
despise my extreme nervousness.
OK, I was terrified.)
I met the editor of Clubhouse Magazine for Focus on the Family.
Above all, all weekend
I was inspired to keep writing,
not for publication,
but for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Encouragement from Judy Bodmer on writing,
“even if you have only touched one life,
you’ve given them an incredible gift.”
I am renewed to write.
And with that same renewed energy,
I have some laundry to tackle today, too.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

Look at me, I match! I had advice from a friend, Bev, to dress “fun” and “artsy” and to NOT wear a suit to my writers conference. I was relieved to find out I could wear jeans. To me, dressing up is jeans without holes and a shirt that doesn’t have baby urp or paint stains. Oh, and my shoes, belt and jewelry need to match. Thank you to my Winzer kids for the matching dangly black and silver earrings. They were perfect!

Unfortunately, my sandals have $3.99 written on the bottom in metallic gray permanent marker, thanks to some employee at Value Village. Util I remember to use the Goo-Gone, I will always have to sit crossed left over right so the price doesn’t show.

I was wearing a beautiful filigree ring with a large stone as I left the house with fear and trembling, but matching clothes. I was so excited to have painted nails and this cool ring. I imagined my hands looked like a writer’s hand should look. Within one hour of arriving, I looked down and noticed the huge stone was gone and I was left with a filigree ring with an ugly dab of glue.

As my friend Barbie sympathized in laughter, she stated, “That is always the way it goes, you want to look like a million bucks and you end up looking like $.59”.

Lesson Number One learned during my writers conference –
Do your homework before meeting with an editor!

I thought I had effectively researched the editor/agents that would be available and what their companies published. I didn’t realize that because they are PUBLISHING a genre, doesn’t mean that they are PURCHASING that genre. Neither of the two companies I was interested in associating with are aquiring historical fiction.

Because I don’t have a completed manuscript, it wasn’t a great loss. However, I still wanted that eyeball to eyeball contact with an editor. I actually wanted him to stare into my eyeballs so he didn’t see the dirt under my fingernails and the sweat under my arms. I was nervous.

There were approximately eight of us in a room with the Terry Glaspey, Director of Acquisitions from Harvest House Publishers. Each had 3-4 minutes and their initial “pitch” was to be 25 words. Some didn’t know that. It was a little nerve-wracking when someone talked too long, threatening the opportunity for others. I found it slightly amusing that they didn’t realize that each minute they went over, they were taking a minute from somebody else. Must be the Mommy in me, desiring everybody to effectively take turns. Several others didn’t do their homework and gave a pitch for a product Harvest House wasn’t buying.

I also thought it was interesting that as soon as some opened their mouths, I found myself thinking, “I wouldn’t buy that book!” How would you like the job of listening to rooms full of writers who all think the Lord told them to write their book, but you know it is a book that nobody would ever buy except the writer’s mother? People confuse the Lord’s presence while a Christian is writing with the Lord inspiring each word. He only did that with the Holy Scriptures. We humans need to be edited and challenged and corrected, but not all writers grasp this concept.

The whole process was fascinating to watch. Since I didn’t want to pitch a book that I knew they would never buy, I threw together a quick pitch based on a title from my “jot list” of ideas for books. “Do as We Say, Not as We Did” would be written by parents gutsy enough to admit their parenting mistakes to a younger generation of parents. It’s a book I will probably never write, but I wanted the opportunity to see what rejection feels like.

Glaspey was gracious and encouraging, but kindly stated that parenting books put you in the arena of competing with people like the Dobsons, and that people want to see a ministry first, then the book. That was that. I was the last one and with that we all walked out of the room, our few minutes of glory over. We all were rejected. But, we all didn’t feel that way. Some he directed to another publisher who might purchase their genre. To another he suggested blogging as an outpouring for her written prayers. To another he complimented the idea, but felt it was too gritty for Harvest House, as they are one of the most conservative publishers. He had something kind to say to everyone. He turned them all away without dashing hopes or inspiration. I was blessed just to watch him at work.

Later, I considered his disappointment as we all walked away, most of us unprepared and/or unpublishable. His job is to acquire manuscripts, and our group didn’t make his job easier that day. Editors and agents want to help writers, they want to buy manuscripts, that is their job. Like a newsreporter with that cliqued nose for news and the desire to sniff out a new story, I believe they want to discover that new writer. We all love a good book! They also need to. They need to sell books. It’s their business.

The process of getting a book published today is different than it has been in the past. The majority of writers are “found” through contacts at writers conferences, where you have opportunity to meet the editors face to face. Manuscripts sent in unsolicited go in a big pile. A big “slush pile” they don’t touch. You in the midwest know how useless slush is. It isn’t fluffy enough to play in, it isn’t melted enough to add to a water source. It just sits there, thick, gray and useless. They encourage you to make an internet presence with blogs, Facebook, etc.
Other great things I learned at the Conference…..
*If you don’t have an appointment, don’t try to make a pitch at the urinal! (One editor said it really happened to him!)
*You should always carry business cards
(I can see my title now, Mindy Peltier, M.O.M. (Mommmy of Many)
*Don’t wear dress-up shoes two days in a row, it makes your feet hurt.
*You should make sure your family has groceries before you are gone for two full days.
*It is very, very, very encouraging to be in an environment of learning about the craft of writing and meeting many people who just want to use their lives and their talents for the honor and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!