Monday, December 10, 2012

Hey Baby!

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a really bad pick up line?

I understand it takes a lot of courage for a man to cross a room and pay a woman a compliment. We women are generally the hunted. Sure, if we’re single we might send out the vibes, but very often our initial role is passive. A man has to not only traverse a room, but if he wants to snag a fish, he also must come up with a clever hook. (Something we know a little bit about as writers!)

Somehow the whole idea of a pick up line is hilarious to me. You hate to laugh at a guy for trying, but still, it’s funny. Whether you are available and on the prowl for a man, or happily married for thirty years, I challenge any woman to honestly say they don’t appreciate a little compliment, even from a complete stranger. Let’s face it, it’s nice to be noticed.

Last night I had a long overdue girls’ night with one of my closest friends. We went to the grand re-opening of our beautifully restored historic city library, and we had dinner at a quaint café downtown. The café is intertwined with campus life of the local university, so it was bustling with laptops and study groups—kids, as I now call them. Though I am not that far off in age, with two kids and a mortgage I felt like the oldest 27-year-old in the bi-state area.

So we are enjoying our dinner and conversation when a guy walks by. He makes a remark about my hair and goes outside to have a smoke. When he comes back in my friend is in the bathroom and he takes it as his moment to cast his lure.

I had to give him points for, umm . . . originality. Here’s how it played out.

Guy: “How’d you get that?”

Me with furrowed brow: “Um, pardon?”

Guy: “How’d you get that?”

Me: “My hair?” A tangly mess of wild waves. “It came this way.”

Guy: “No that.” Points at me.

Me: “I’m sorry. I don’t understand.”

Guy: “That face. So much beauty!”

Me: “Ha! Wow!”

Guy: “No really. You encapsulate me as a man, you’re so beautiful!”

Okay, now I am nearly crying! What on earth? Word confusion?

Encapsulate: Verb
1. Enclose (something) in or as if in a capsule.
2. Express the essential features of (someone or something) succinctly.

What does that even mean? Did I help solidify his sexual orientation? What a strange and hysterical curve ball.

Me mid laugh: “Not entirely sure what you mean, but I’m sure I’m flattered. Thank you!”

When my friend and I left we had a good laugh in the car about some of the funnier lines we've heard or been the victim of.

One of my favorites was this one…

“Is that a rhinestone jacket, or do you just sparkle?”

So, it’s Monday…. It’s a good a day as any for a hearty laugh.

What is your worst pick up line? And how did you respond?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Into the woods

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but the overstuffed feeling, the turkey coma, and the air of gratitude are lingering evidence of the holiday season now in full swing. I love this time of year. When the warmth and wonder of tradition and family grab on for a month-long ride. But this thanksgiving something else hopped on. Something other than leftovers and a few, unfortunate, extra pounds. Something like… fear.

Holidays for the Simpson’s are always a marathon of activities and family time. We try to hit each side of the family, which usually equates to at least three celebrations of each holiday and severely nap-deprived toddlers. Our Thanksgiving celebration with my mother-in-laws side of the family was particularly exciting this year.

My mother-in-law, Janet, my sweet teenage niece, Kaylee, and I ended up wandering a trail in the woods with my little young-ins and two of my nephews, Austin and Eli, who are five and nine. Problem was that my little guys couldn’t quite keep up and so Kaylee had the big boys with her farther ahead. Of, course, boys will be boys and Austin and Eli got a little too curious—a little too big for their britches and slipped out of sight. Kaylee ran back to tell us that she’d lost them and so we split up, started on a scavenger hunt of sorts for the runaways.

Having long ago been the path for an old railroad, the trail was clear and wide, several paths branched off to beautiful open meadows that made me feel like I was traipsing through the storyworld of Bambi with my two wild fawns. For a few moments it all felt very innocent. Surely if we hustled ahead, covered a little more ground, we would see the boys just around a bend.

Wandering further, I started to realize with each step just how far we had ventured from home. How difficult it was to wrangle my own curious little brood alone, on unfamiliar terrain.

As the sounds of Kaylee and Janet’s calls disappeared on the wind, the moment sobered, matured. Panic set in, and amplified even more when the Bambi parallel became much too real and dangerous.


Fear so tangible and cold snaked its fingers around my spine. Someone was hunting—and two boys had run off through the maze of trees.

It’s moments like these when fear can run amok in your system, blot out your faith, your senses—blind you to everything, and swallow you whole.

How often do we feel like we are wandering through the woods? Our path unsure, the signs to look for unclear. Each trail appears the same and yet leads to a very different place. Which one is the right one? What might happen if we go the wrong way?

I tend to write a lot about fear, not only because I write suspense and they are inevitably intertwined, but because life is scary. Moments like these crop up when you least expect them, and even if we are firmly rooted in the truth, our faith can feel frail—wobbly when those mountainous doubts press down hard.

This little adventure had a happy ending. I ended up discovering the wandering troublemakers, squeezed the frightened breaths right out of them, and then gave them a firm talkin’ to.

Of course, then we had to find a way to track down the other two members of the search and rescue team, and finally make the long, exhausted trek back to Aunt Fran’s.

Life is full of uncertainties, sometimes even roadblocks. There may night always be a sign warning the dangerous curve ahead. But just remember, though the path may not be clear, there is a guide you can trust who knows the way.

When was the last time fear knocked you on your keester? And what do you do to navigate though all those doubts?

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! So thankful for you!

Friday, October 26, 2012


We break from our abnormally scheduled blogging for an announcement…

I am agented!

I’m so blessed, and quite frankly ecstatic, to now be among the amazing group of authors and writers represented by the brilliant, multi-talented, and hilarious Chip MacGregor. If you have witnessed the moronically happy grin that hasn't left my face for a solid week, now you know why.

Praising God, the author and finisher of our dreams, for the best of the best!

Dream BIG!

Anyone else riding high on good news?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ladies love country boys

Alright folks, I’m taking a poll. Not for any sort of scientific research, but more to satisfy my ravenous curiosity.

The question is very simply… Country boys or city boys?

There is no right or wrong answer, and this is just for fun so please don’t think I am criticizing. But as I have wracked up a few novels and novel ideas I find that I gravitate toward a certain kind of man for my heroes. They are all different in trait and character, of course, but in some fundamental way they all seem like country boys at heart. Even if they are living city boy lives. That might not make much sense. Perhaps I should give y’all my definition of each.

You won’t find these in Webster’s. These are homegrown and absurdly stereotypical. Just go with it.

City boy- a man who operates with a certain air of refinement. Overtly ambitious in occupation and appearance. Charming. Slicked back, clean shaven, smooth hands, sharp dresser. Busy.

Country boy- a man who works with his hands, outdoors, or doing something physically active. Hardworking, honest-often brutally so. Unrefined charm. Tousled hair, five-o’clock shadow, callused hands, t-shirt and jeans practical. Carefree.

Some men can be a mixture, it’s not always black or white but for the purposes here, pick which one suits your man, or your type, best.

If you are on the fence, here is a checklist that might help you gage your tolerance for those wild country boys. Channel Jeff Foxworthy’s skit “You might be a redneck” when you are reading these little clips from my life with my country boy.

You might have it bad for a country boy if…
  1. You find the idea of attending a tractor pull intriguing.
  2. Your man suggests you attend a mouse race and you don’t run screaming in the other direction.
  3. You don’t correct him when he says he’s going to go “get a shower” instead of “take” one.
  4. The cowboy boots by your door are caked with something that may or may not be mud and you allow them to stay there.
  5. You find it cute when he drops the beginning of words like “him” and “them” so they all sound like “eem.”
  6. You don’t mind the sand-paper scraping of his scruffy, five-o’clock shadow leaving well earned redness around your lips.
  7. You have a weakness for plaid and denim in combination.
  8. You find usually unsavory things like sweat and dirt particularly appealing on his sun-bronzed skin.
  9. You decide trying elk, squirrel, venison, maybe coon, and wild mushrooms would be an exciting adventure for your delicate palette.
  10. You find odd phrases like “grow a wild hair” perfectly acceptable when used in combination with a lazy, rakish grin.

Alright ladies, what’s your preference? And what kind of hero are you more prone to write? And anyone have anything to add to this list?

Whether you get all swoony over your city boy or country boy, be sure to give him some sugar today. ;)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

When you walk in

Ever have one of those fall on your face-awed by God moments? Okay, so you may not literally fall down but I am talking about those times when you can feel His breath stir you, when everything melts away and you find yourself in the river just soaking it all in.

It’s the main reason why I love to worship—to detach from the chaos of life and just rest. With two what-on-earth-did-that-mother-put-in-their-milk baby boys my life is, in many ways, the antithesis of anything resembling rest. For all you mothers I’d like to say there is relief for the constant battle of bedtime and naptime after the baby phase, but sadly, I see no light at the end of the tunnel. Y’all can pray for me. (Ahh, Texas got to me!)


Last week was one of those weeks with very little rest, though to be fair I can’t blame it on my wild toddlers. I was at the ACFW writer’s conference in Dallas. A wonderful time of year where like minded people come together to learn the craft of writing, encourage one another, and pitch to agents and editors who make us squirm while they silently peruse our precious pages with a furrowed brow. (I shall not name name’s.)

And it’s not just exhausting while you are there. Months of preparation have us fine tuning our manuscripts, pitches, and one-sheets for those few moments when we can share our story, our passion, praying someone might catch the vision and take a chance on our dream. We bury ourselves under this avalanche of expectations, desperate to make the most of each moment and emerge victorious. (That, or justify the cost and time away from our families.)

But in the midst of those awkward high-school flash-backs where you wonder if you are gonna find someone to sit with at lunch, and those minutes before your appointment with your dream agent where the clamor of energy is drowning out your tirelessly practiced pitch until your mind washes blank, God walks in.

Whenever my mom would pray for me growing up she had this way of making it more about God and less about me. Like it was in his hands, and he would prepare the way. It was a balm for my nerves when I would be preparing for an audition or some other over-eager quest I had to conquer. I could step outside myself, my careful agenda and my ever-increasing expectations, and just rest in the fact that God would show up.

At the conference I had this moment with my roommate where we were both a bit shaken and our nerves went haywire. (And no, my back was not on fire again.) Anxiety was battling with me and it really felt like it was winning. We stopped right there in the hallway of the hotel and prayed together. And in that moment, it wasn’t just the two of us with our fraying nerves.

Now, I’d like to say that prayer is a magical remedy for stress but that’s not what I am trying to convey. Lord knows even though I made it through all of my appointments without incident, I still managed to feel like an idiot and considered cramming my tortured foot into my mouth after it got off its leash. And let me tell you, I prayed a lot. Prayed a lot since that those few who witnessed my blunder might have merciful memories.

But just remember, whatever you are going through, whatever the situation, you can rest in your own helplessness knowing that God shows up. Always has, always will.

Writers, what was your favorite moment from the conference? And readers, do you remember a time where you knew without question that God showed up?

I loved seeing you all at ACFW! Can’t wait until next year! 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook - Extreme Edition

So I have come to realize something about myself. Something possibly disturbing. I’d like to say that this disturbing behavior came about as a result of my creative outlet as a writer, but sadly, I fear that this has always been a bizarre symptom of my tireless brain.

Perhaps it is why I love writing suspense.

So here it is… my dark side. (If I could I would cue Darth Vader breathing sounds over the imperial match anthem.)

I often (maybe as often as daily) envision worst-case scenarios.

No, I am not a depressing and morbid person by nature, in fact, some have even ventured to deem my general disposition as “sunny”. But somewhere deep down, my mind is a twisted little prankster that draws out terrible, horrifying outcomes from the most mundane daily activities.

For example, due to the blistering heat—and a recurrent sleep strike my children have embraced that has us out of bed with nothing to do at 6:15 am daily—I have been taking the kids on early morning jogs. This hearty expedition involving at least 50 extra pounds for me to push has been taking place 4 or 5 mornings a week at the crack of dawn. As I am NOT a morning person, the beauty of the breaking dawn is an occurrence I would rather not witness—so perhaps that has some bearance on why my mind might travel to a dark place unsafe for children.

Wow, rein it in, Amy… Okay, so we are jogging on the trail behind my subdivision—a wide, paved, and usually well traveled route with a myriad of people biking, running, and roller-blading in clingy and painfully graphic booty-tight shorts that would be best reserved for private use. (Just sayin’!)

At one point during my jog this morning I found myself alone (alone as you can be with two toddles present) on a long stretch shrouded with a thick and pressing border of trees. I hear a rusting to my right, and I imagine most people might assume a squirrel was intimidated by the strength of my pounding soles and my impressive speed J But me? My mind leaps to someone lurking in the brush, watching, and waiting patiently for the right moment to attack—drag some helpless victim behind the curtain of trees. My pulse hikes up a few notches at the thought, my stride super-charges and the burning, humid air in my lungs evaporates.

The problem might be that I can actually see the scene unfolding before my eyes. I actually let myself feel the imagined fear as I walk through the emotional process of dealing with that kind of panic.

I’ve pictured car-wrecks, abductions, intruders, and accidents of all kinds. On rare occasions, the what-ifs have crept over the line from hypothetical to possible. Like this one time when my hubby was out of town, the threat from my vivid imagination became so real that when I heard a crash sound at 2 am, I had sworn someone had broken into my house.

I forced myself into action despite my deepest desire to be a wussy-heroine who might hide out under the covers. And no I did not open the door and check outside—I’m not an idiot. Despite the nerves that threatened to make me fumble my husband’s 38-Special, I got out of bed and stalked around the house in my underwear with my gun drawn low, warning any intruders that mama bear means business (thank you conceal and carry classes!) Thankfully, I haven’t heard any reports from my neighbors that anyone saw me playing CSI in my living room. God is merciful!

Funny thing is, today, someone actually did step out of the trees just ahead of me—calling into question if my worst-case scenario for that moment was a small measure of discernment to impart caution or if it might be some serious paranoia.

Most of the scenes my mind creates do not produce actual fear. I’m just weighing the possibility of disaster, I suppose. Today, however, fear of my vulnerability and my isolation clawed at me, high-jacked my adrenaline and sent me on a survival sprint to avoid the stern-faced older man with the stiff and jerky gait that scared the ever-livin’ outta me.

So help me out here. Am I alone in this? Is this just my twisted spin on reality? Do you ever imagine worst-case scenarios, or are all your hypothetical thoughts rose-colored?

Disclaimer: In case you were wondering, I do not need prayer or any casting of demons for this ailment. It’s quite helpful in my current occupation. Thanks anyways! J

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hold me together

Remember my heart attack scare back in May? Notice that I have been largely absent since?

Okay, so airing your medical issues on the web seems a little bit strange, and by nature I tend to keep these sorts of things pretty close to the cuff. But in this instance, if I tucked away and kept silent, I wouldn’t be giving God the glory.

He truly is a God of miracles.

And I’m gonna tell you why.

So just before Memorial Day I had this pseudo-heart attack and wound up in the ER with chest and arm pain, and a BP of 200/120. Yikes! They ended up running a gamlet of tests and sent me home scratching my head about why a 26 year old would have a sudden onslaught of symptoms more suited for middle age.

What they failed to notice on my labs was that my kidney function had plummeted. And with only one functional kidney to my name—long story—it’s pretty important that that one hold its own. At a follow up doctor’s visit, when my new doc discovered the slip, she freaked.

Turns out, my very unique kidney was to blame for it all. Poor little guy was falling behind and in return, by body jacked up my blood pressure to compensate. The only problem aside from the typical dangers of an elevated BP is—high blood pressure destroys your kidneys.

Are you following? This is a lot of medicine thrown at ya. Just channel some Grey’s Anatomy and we’ll all make it through.

Miserable weeks of tests and a cocktail of BP meds that made the room spin around like the Highland Fling any time I stood . . . and the results were not good.

Aside from the fact that I would have to be now and forever more a pill-popper, I was told that I’d probably need major surgery to avoid the future probability of a transplant, and that the surgery would be risky—there was only one doctor around who would even attempt it. 

That’s a lot to swallow right? But the hits kept coming.

I was told that it would be highly unlikely that I would be able to sustain another pregnancy. This one shifted the earth beneath my feet. Yes, I have two beautiful babies already, and I’m not trying to be greedy or ungrateful but this wrecked me.

Wrecked me because . . . I lost a baby on Easter, at the end of my first trimester. The still, lifeless sonogram . . . the palm sized child you only get to hold once. Let me just tell you, it’s like nothing you can imagine.

I was so heartbroken, I just barely existed for a while. And even still, it’s like there is a scar etched into my heart.

Needless to say it has been a tough year for us. But when we are small and beaten down, God is BIG. Bigger than it all.

Wanna know how I know?

Because my kidney would have shut down completely if I had still been pregnant—and the baby likely wouldn’t have survived. How amazing that God—in all his loving grace—saved us from that. Saved us from losing the baby later in the pregnancy. Saved me from needing a transplant. Saved us from having to make a decision we might not be able to live with.

Saved. My. Life. Period.

And then I saw finally saw the specialist last week . . . Amazing how they change their tune when God intervenes.

I don’t need the surgery. My kidney function looks great. They are going to try to wean me off my meds. AND—I can have more babies.

Let me just tell you—I have never felt more protected. More cherished.

My God is mighty to save. No matter how bleak your circumstance. No matter how great the loss. And no matter how grim the diagnosis.

He’s got you!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hide in your shell

This weekend I found myself at a place that was . . . unexpected.

The hubby and the kids and I went to my brother’s new house to visit and see how things were coming along with the unpacking. The bonus for us is that Uncle Jeremy’s house came equipped with a swing set. It’s rickety, and actually leaning at least twelve inches to the right, but the kids don’t seem to mind and their little toddler weights haven’t affected the sad, little structure’s stability thus far. But you won’t catch me on the swings—I’m just sayin’!

I’m digressing.

Okay, so we are outside, avoiding the demolition of my brother’s new, non-baby-proofed home, enjoying the thick, balmy air that is likely laced with 100 percent humidity, when my brother’s neighbor invites—no insists, that we join the party across the fence. After a few awkward moments of polite refusal and some heavily accented guilt-tripping, the man manages to wrangle my brood of boys (brother included) over to his wife’s birthday celebration on their lavish patio.

This is how I ended up spending Saturday night at an Authentic Polish Barbeque.

The vibrancy of their dress, the foreign tang of the spices in the air, the weaving of languages . . . it all sort of awakened my senses, made my world a little bit bigger.

Immersed me in a state of culture shock.

Oh, there was some very questionable food, strange homemade spirits forced into our hands by the kindly, eighty-year old Polish man who doted on me for the duration of the party. He not only made the aged cognac himself but watched intently as we sipped the burning liquid out of courtesy. And at one point, the entire population of Polish-American transplants broke out into a native song, raising there glasses to honor their lovely hosts who treated all—even the motley crew of strangers from next door—as family.

Sometimes I am amazed at life’s little oddities. We dig in our heels, fight against the inevitable discomfort of the unknown, but then . . . when we give in and find ourselves someplace completely out of our element, or doing something way beyond our comfort zone, we find it’s (dare I say it) . . . fun.

Yes, it was completely insane. I felt like the whole thing was straight from a movie script. But when I finally let go of my notions of escape, I opened myself up to the possibility of something new. Something great.

How often does our stubbornness rob us of these beautifully rare moments?

We hide away in our routine, in our comforts, and we miss the party going on right next door.

Have you ever had one of these moments? When was the last time you ditched practicality and did something crazy? Are you glad you did?

I’d love to hear your Polish Barbeque experience.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Even if it breaks your heart

So it’s contest season. And that means high hopes—maybe even delusions of grandeur—and the set up.
What is the set up, you ask? It’s something you might understand if you have say, a big brother, a friend who is a practical jokester, or a boss who will never be satisfied. The set up is the potential for our dreams to find the brunt of a serious beating. Regardless of the outcome, when we lay it all out there we set ourselves up for the inevitable effect of gravity.
And I’m not just talking the fall, but also the splat.
Of course, there is always the possibility that you won’t fall. Or splat. Sometimes you fall and land on your feet in a better spot. But if you ever want to fly, well, let’s just say the ledge will never get you there. You gotta leap.
Whether you are riding high on a win, sopping up tears over the devastated remains of your masterpiece, or scratching your noggin over conflicting opinions, your dreams are still in God’s hands.  
Now, having surrendered my work to be tarred and feathered in grand standing public forum several times makes me feel like I have earned a few stripes for courage. And each time you receive a critique or contest scores you may discover that you are developing the coveted “thick skin” you need to take a licking and keep on ticking.
After all, haven’t we all heard those stories about the most successful bestselling authors having collected a stack of rejections navel to nose before someone, the right one, saw that certain spark.
It’s easy to say, “Don’t get discouraged.” And yet, like so many things, It’s not always easy to practice.
Let’s face it, sometimes our weakness wins out. We are human after all. Vulnerable. Sensitive. Soft. I know I am. And if our dreams are stored within these jars of clay, might they also be frail from time to time?
In those times of doubt, it would be easy to let the enemy win. Let him steal our dreams. Taunt us with whispered thoughts of our foolishness and inevitable defeat. We know, without question, that the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. And still, when we are surrounded by destruction, we think it is God telling us to move on.
Don’t let those lies in. Keep on dreaming even if it breaks your heart. Believe in the dreams God gave you. He put them there for a reason.
Isaiah 54
How about we build each other up? What is your favorite encouraging scripture? And how do you expel doubts about your dreams?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Over you

After a month long hiatus I am back. My intention for my sort of media fast was to buckle down and wrap up the last few chapters of my book. But then something happened that kept me away much longer. My heart is still heavy from the devastating loss my family suffered. And though the last thing I want to do is continue to drown in the grief, it seems to have a hold on me. As if I lost this enormous part of myself, and there is no hope of getting it back.

There is a new song on the radio that keeps tugging at my admittedly shaky emotional stability. And though the words are a constant reminder of my pain, they are also a beautifully cathartic release.

But you went away
How dare you
I miss you
They say I’ll be okay
But I’m not going to
Ever get over you  

When the song is over, and I’ve had myself another good cry, I think about how blessed I am to have a life unencumbered by an excessive burden of loss. God has always been my refuge. And I am thankful to have been shielded from a hard life marked by tragedy.

Even in my despair that past few weeks, God’s grace has been so evident. His loving arms my safe haven. But as this loss sinks deeper into my soul, I wonder how I will walk through life without a scar etched onto my heart.

They say time heals all wounds. Maybe that will prove to be true. But how do you deal with grief when the wound is still raw? And have you every lost someone you still carry with you?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dream On-Part Two

So I have spilled my big secret. (Read Dream On-Part One to catch up.) Though I suppose it was a shotty attempt at truth since you all already know my secret, you just didn’t know it was just that. A secret.

Perhaps I should explain. Let’s go back to the beginning. In the beginning there was a songbird. A tiny little blonde songbird belting out Sleeping Beauty’s “Once Upon A Dream” from her car seat. Growing up singing in church, on stage, in the theater, and eventually in a band in a recording studio, it was my dream to make it in music. To reach and effect my generation with the songs God gave me.

It turns out, this very public dream of mine had some definite flaws. Mainly, a lifestyle I had no desire to live. And as much as I wanted to sing for a living, I wanted to have a family more. Marriage. A home-life. And more than anything, I wanted to stay at home and raise my kids. What I learned when I walked away from the relentless pursuit of my dream was that maybe God lets some dreams die so that others can find roots and flourish.

Those dreams are a distant memory now. I honestly don’t think about it. There are no scars left behind to torture me. But the thing is…very few people I know have forgotten about it.

To everyone who knows me, and even those who really don’t, I am a singer. I probably always will be that girl trying to make it big. Every time I run into someone from the past, the probing questions about my career seem to dominate the airwaves.

I have no regrets, but there was always this mountain of pressure that came with such a public expression of my lifelong dream. Everyone had an opinion. A way in. Why don’t you try out for American Idol? Or if you just send that demo to so and so, or play some gigs here, or give this guy money to make a new album, or sing a different style, or change your image, ect, ibsofacto, and so on and so forth. These people had always meant well, but somehow they stole my joy. Dug up all my doubts and fears. Failures and insecurities.

Now, I am blessed with a new dream. Something that brings me more satisfaction that I could have imagined, and gives me such a personal sense of accomplishment everyday I labor lovingly at my laptop. I never dreamed I would repurpose the message of my heart from songs to novels. But God made a way. And birthed a beautiful new dream.

Beauty for Ashes.

At first, when I started writing, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish a whole book. So why tell anyone? And then the first book took form. And the second. And it was so freeing to have something so pure. Untouched by expectations and probing questions that I held it close to my heart a while longer.

But then something happened. My dream grew. God opened doors. And dreams of publication danced in my head. The dream of sharing the stories that have changed my life became so great that I even, despite my long standing rebellion, broke down and joined Facebook. Gasp! I know! I must be from the Stone Age or something.

My problem now is that this whole dream comes as a package deal that I am just getting my sea legs for. Social media. No I am not an imbecile, just a busy mom that’s not big into gossip. And for a long time, that’s all I saw social networking to be. Let’s just say, I, uh, had a negative experience early on in the game, and pretty diligently avoided the pitfalls of superficial friendships online.

But now I am forced to ask myself some tough questions about this secret I have treasured. And I am hoping for some Godly counsel from those of you trusted few who have shared in my excitement of building a new dream. In a day where social platform is key, am I going about this all wrong?

Am I really protecting my dream . . . or sabotaging it?

Also…How do you hold up under the pressure of expectations? And when did you know when the time was right to unleash your dream into the wild unknown?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dream On-Part One

How far would you go to protect your dream?

No, not reach your dream, protect it. Perhaps I should clarify by spilling my guts. A good soul deep purge can be quite cathartic and I fear it is high time I seek some counsel on my big, festering secret.

I am a writer.

Okay, so if you are indeed reading this blog you already know that. The secret is, other than you few, no one else knows this about me. Fellow writers from ACFW this is why I appear so unpopular and lame online. And those handful of my closest friends and relatives who have been entrusted with my closet writing, I know I am weird, but thank you for your continued discretion, and ban from befriending me on Facebook.

Whew! Man, that feels good to get off my chest. But I suppose that was just the warm up for the day I will really need to confess. Why would I hide this, you may ask? Perhaps I am not serious about it? Dabbling?

Let me just say that that is NOT it. Not at all. I am, in fact, one of those crazy go getters. Where my dreams are concerned I am driven to succeed. Nothing short of God’s hand can sway my course once I set my mind to something.

Though I may be misguided in my attempts to do so, I honestly feel like I am protecting my dream. But protecting it from what?

I’ll get to that in part two, but for now, I have a question.

Have you ever hidden a dream? What were your reasons? And as a writer, did you have to come out at some point? What was the deciding factor for your decision?

Stay tuned for part two of Dream On, for the nail-biting conclusion and a chance to school me severely. I fear I am gonna need it.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Heavier things

We are all our own unique bundle of imperfections. Our hearts rebel, our minds wander of their own volition, our actions speak words we wouldn’t dare utter. Yes, we strive toward righteousness. Oh, to be like David and be seen with a like-minded heart of God. But inherently, we are vagabonds, flitting from one preoccupation to the next, and yet still, we are loved.

In a hectic world of countless distractions, I often wonder what it would have been like to live in simpler times. No cell phones, or overstimulating television. No 24-hour convenience stores or road-side service. Heck, what if I had no electricity, or running water? What might my day look like if instead of waking in a toasty warm house, I had to split logs and build a fire? Cook over an open flame? Haul water from a stream to bathe my children?

Now being a mother in the 21st century is a tough job. Don’t discount it! As it is, at the end of the day my sources are often so liquidated I can scarcely muster up enough energy to fall into bed. And that’s with all the modern conveniences my life affords. You can’t imagine the pitying, or often shocked looks I get when I have to carry my toddler in one arm, my baby in his pumpkin seat in the other, and a massive diaper bag strapped across the whole mess just to run into a store. Imagine how tough our ancestors had to have been to manage without a stroller, washing machines, disposable diapers! (I know you mean well, but you cloth diaper mother’s are a bit loony if you ask me!)

After the chaos of the emergency room visits from last week, I was looking forward to finding solace in some nice, quiet, normalcy. Ha! It’s funny that I am still naïve enough to think there can be normal, or quiet days. Already this week we’ve had a nasty fall, two sleepless nights, and a big ole batch of baby vomit in the crib at 5 a.m.

And then, as if to remind me of my dependence issues, my new cell phone died. May he rest in peace. Spoiled as I am, it was a huge inconvenience to stand around the Sprint store for over an hour—with two restless babes—only to have the technicians confirm the untimely death of my beloved smart phone. And be mocked by the fact that we don’t have a home phone, and thus I would be unreachable until the new phone arrived by mail.

How crazy that it was difficult to survive a little over a day without a phone! Pathetic even! Times have changed, and every little convenience becomes something we can’t live without. The things we form attachments to may help us, but might they also weigh us down? Steal our time, our focus? My phone has become my safety net, my crutch. What if my car broke down on the side of the road? What if there was an emergency—Lord knows we’ve had a lot of them lately, so I am not simply paranoid—and I couldn’t call for help?

What distracts you the most? Facebook? Latest episode of your favorite show? And what is the one modern convenience you couldn’t live without?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


How often are we ruled by fear?

Let me preface this by saying that the two’s are hitting us hard at the Simpson house. My sweet and loving toddler has these Bruce Banner moments where he is withdrawn one minute and belligerent the next. Lord only knows what switch was thrown to turn my baby into the Hulk but, Jesus, we need your help!

So I was at my son’s Mommy and Me soccer class yesterday. Week two. Lord, please let it go better than week one where I was the recipient of every pitying stare in the soccer dome. My almost two and a half year old, Kael, executed the most blood-curdling meltdown for the duration of the 45-minute class. Impressive, yes. Enjoyable, let’s go with ‘heck no!’ And yesterday, we were forced to drop the class after ten minutes.

After the miserable experience, and the unquestionable torture you would have sworn my son was experiencing, doubts and fear started to worm their way into my mind. My heart. You see, I stay at home with my kids. That means most days it’s just me and the boys. We have play dates and we go to parks and museums so it’s not like we are quarantined, but I got to worrying about my son’s social development. All the other kids loved the soccer class. And Kael, though he was the youngest by several months, was easily the fastest and most athletic kid out there. The kid loves sports! He could throw a strike and hit a ball off a tee before he could walk. (Thanks to my hubby who played ball in the minors) And he can actually run and weave while kicking the soccer ball. I was sure this class would be a home run for us. He could deplete those seemingly endless stores of energy before naptime and do what he loves in the process. So what is the problem? Could it be something more than the terrible two’s?

It’s hard not to let fear squeak through the cracks. What if something is wrong? What if I have ruined him? Now, I know that sounds like an overreaction, but it’s crazy where your mind goes when fear is involved.

My mom, the wise warrior that she is, witnessed my distress and took a moment to convince me I am not the worst mother to ever walk the earth. Thanks mama! But she said something that was so simple, yet so profound. And it really resonated and gave me peace.

She said, “The opposite of fear isn’t faith, it’s love.”

Now, we have all heard the verse, ‘Perfect love casts out fear’, but somehow, it always feels like fear is a faith issue. If we could just have enough faith and trust God that everything will work out, we can win against fear. The truth of the matter is there are lots of reasons to fear. The world is a scary place. Terrible things happen. But the anecdote for living in fear isn’t something that can be overcome or exorcised by your great faith.

It is the realization of Christ’s love. It’s so basic it’s almost confusing. Isaiah 41:10 says So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Like everything else it has nothing to do with who we are or what we do, but rather who Jesus is, and what He did.

What do you fear the most? And how has God helped you to overcome fear?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Sparks fly

How do you make your romance sizzle?

I, for one, favor a love-hate dilemma. The hero and heroine teeter dangerously between not being able to stand each other and not being able to get enough. I love to write strong and feisty women who don’t easily swoon. At least they think they don’t. The tension of these kinds of relationships fascinate and excite me. One minute they are tearing each other’s heads off in a battle of wits, the next they are nose-to-nose, suspended in a heady spell of heated desire.

I think part of the reason I prefer this saucy version over say, a sweet romance, is because of my very own love story. Jaded, heart-broken, man-hater, (okay so that’s taking it a little far, but just go with it) has no intention of being swayed by any man after the last one bludgeoned her heart into an early grave. Let alone a baseball player, whom she has been forewarned are all bad news. The ruggedly handsome center fielder has caught her eye, much to her dismay, but is as aloof as a brick wall.

Unforeseen circumstances have them paired up for a tutoring session. The brain schools the jock on statistics to find that yes, in fact, he has a brain. And a sense of humor. And a dead sexy smile. Trouble! Head-butting ensues as two strong will’s clash.

Okay, so there is some interest there, she’s brave enough to admit it to herself. But girls don’t chase boys. At least, girls like me don’t. And the big, dumb oaf has had more than a dozen tutoring sessions of sarcastic and witty banter—some of my finest work—and has yet to ask the girl out. Could the rumors be true? Is he really a player working her over with some serious game?

Then, the girl discovers the ball player is a believer. He even suggests that they do a bible study before they tutor. What girl wouldn’t swoon over a hunky, self-assured man of God dangling himself as tasty man-bait? Oh, but no, the heel dragging continues. Frustration mounts, sparks fly, and hearts finally collide.

Let’s just say, my husband knew what he was doing. Informed me about his little plan to get my attention after he’d reeled me in. But as exciting as it was, I remember it being infuriating! I told my girlfriends I though he was the biggest idiot on the planet and had officially washed my hands of the imbecile. But I will admit it set the stage for one steamy, albeit rated PG-13, romance.

It’s hard not to infuse some of ourselves in our writing. The way we felt when we were being chased. The zsa zsa zoo that defined our very own romances slips out onto the pages. Ahh, I love to remember falling in love.   

What about you? What is your love story? And how does it relate to the way you write your romances?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Telephone line

I’m back! Holiday break/sick leave/ten month old started walking and getting into everything adjustment/reading extravaganza has come to an end. Hope 2012 has been good to you so far!

Okay, back to business.

A recent snafu with my internet/telephone company had me thinking about that old game of telephone. While I have been explaining myself over and over to the very convincing con artists who run the AT&T call center for two months now regarding the issue, I see that they neither pass along the correct information, nor do they actually fulfill those promises to resolve the issue. Humph! Needless to say after more than a dozen phone calls, and more than twice as many wasted hours on hold, I am at the end of my rapidly fraying rope of gracious tolerance. And apparently, I have learned the hard way that I am far too trusting.

Hear me AT&T, you have poked mama bear one too many times. Watch out!

And so, to avoid any further miscommunications, I have drafted a very bold, and comically enraged short story masquerading as a complaint letter to the incompetent criminals who continue to work me over with their ‘can do’ attitude and their contrite apologies. The silver-tongued jezebels. I think it is some of my finest work!

But the whole process got me thinking about how naive we can be. How trusting. How easily we can believe blindly in decency and honesty. Whether from a person we know and trust, or a complete stranger on the other end of the line, we all put some trust in humanity to do right by us and shoot straight.

The novel I am working on centers around a great deception the main character believes from the mouth of his best friend when they were in high school. The ramifications of that blind belief come to the surface ten years later with an unexpected and horrifying outcome. We have all engaged in gossip at one point or another, and know how something seemingly innocent can have a rippling effect that ends up causing great devastation.

Much like that tried and true game of telephone. The facts get tweaked and twisted bit by bit until the truth has been rewritten into something else entirely. A lie. And more often than not the consequences of lies (okay, not generally when we are referring to the harmless game of telephone) are great. Often irrevocable.

How different things might have been had the person sought out the truth from the source instead of buying into a slew of lies that altered the course of their life.

I remember, all too well, being the subject of such demoralizing rumors and lies. How absurd they sounded. No one could possibly believe something so outlandish. Right?


Those tentacles of deceit can be like Stretch Armstrong. Much more far reaching than seems possible and far more damaging than a stretchy lump of rubber that miraculously shrinks back to size.

Are there any lies you chose to believe that affected your life in a major way? The devil is the master of lies, he knows just what seed of doubt to plant to make you buy in, hook, line, and sinker. How do you protect yourself from gossip? And for my sanity, has anyone else ever been worked over by the crooks on the other end of your phone line?