In Memory of Natalie

Monday, March 30, 2015

Mental Illness on Middle Places

I was a little girl, no more than ten years old, maybe younger. I was upset, riding home from the pool with a friend and her grandmother. What had upset me? I can’t recall. I just remember being overwhelmed and confused. Something was going on inside my head, and I didn’t understand it. 

My friend’s grandmother went inside a gas station and left us in the car. I tried to explain my feelings to my friend, but she didn’t get it. I was crying, sitting on the floorboard of the car, looking up at my perfectly normal friend. Why couldn’t I make her understand? 

I thought hard about how I was feeling. I felt sick, but not sick to my stomach. I didn’t have a cold or anything like that. I wasn’t in physical pain, but I hurt. I felt sick inside my head, and I was a kid with a sizable vocabulary. I could use the word ill instead of the word sick and not think twice about it. I also knew that things dealing with the brain were labeled “mental.” 

I told my friend I was mentally ill. 

Her reaction was less than pleasant.

Continue reading on Middle Places

Monday, March 16, 2015

Fan-Girling on Middle Places

I believe in fangirl-ing.

I do.

Here’s the deal: When someone inspires you, you should tell them. Tell them face-to-face or write them a letter or send an email or skywrite it with an airplane above their house. I don’t care how you tell them. Just tell them. We need to know when we inspire one another.

God uses people to help people. Often Person-A never even knows God used them to help Person-B. And then, one day, Person-A may be feeling really down. They may be feeling worthless. They may feel like nothing they have done really matters.

That’s when it helps to hear from Person-B.

I tell you this coming off a weekend where I totally fangirl-ed.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Currently: Forward March

Current Books: I just finished The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, and it was a wonderful read. I love novels inspired by true stories. I also just finished a beautiful volume of poetry, Oblation by Rachel M. Srubas. Corey bought me a copy of Breaking Old Rhythms by Amena Brown and I started a review copy of Unabrow by Una LaMarche. I started A Visit from the Good Squad, but I wasn't getting into it. When Unabrow arrived in my mailbox, I abandoned Goon. I need to read a Pulitzer book for my reading challenge, but I will have to pick another one.

Current Playlist: 90s hip-hop/R&B lately

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Eating Townhouse crackers straight out of the box.

Current Colors: the orangey red of poppies

Current Food: Pumpkin Spice gelato

Current Drink: Coffee out of my poppy Tervis

Current Favorite Favorite: My mother-in-law and father-in-law. They are taking my kids for a week. Can you hear the angels singing?

Current Wishlist: To raise the $1500 needed to build a house in Honduras in Natalie's memory. We are almost 1/3 of the way there.

Current Needs: I need my husband's travel schedule to lighten up.

Current Triumph: Completing this round of edits on my manuscript

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: Distance

Current Indulgence: Binge watching Friends on Netflix

Current Mood: Happy

Current Outfit: Wonder Woman onesie... it's another snow day.

Current #1 Blessing: My husband. He spoils me.

Current Quote: I have some friends going through some hard stuff, making hard decisions, and this line jumped out at me as I read, “I’d chosen the regret I could live with best, that’s all.” ― Sue Monk Kidd, The Invention of Wings

Current Photo:

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Choosing The Next Read

How do you choose what to read next?

When I was a kid, I'd borrow Dad's library card (because it had a higher check out limit) and borrow as many books as possible. Then I would read the whole stack, return to the library and do it all again.

Now I'm flighty.

I read by mood and availability. I have a giant To Read list, but if the book isn't available at the library, it gets moved down the list. I do buy books sometimes, mostly when I have gift cards and for certain authors, etc... But I read a LOT (see last year's list), so I can't justify buying every book I want to read anymore than I can justify eating out every time I'm hungry.

Even scrolling through available library books that are on my To Read list, I often fret. It's the equivalent of standing with the fridge door open, wanting something to eat but not able to decide on anything inside that cold food box. Ya know what I mean?

When I finally do start reading a book, I am usually glad I picked that one. But the actual picking can take forever.

I want to be that girl again. I want to check out a stack of books and then read them all without getting distracted by some other book that arrives in the mail or deciding I'm just not in the mood for the books I picked out yesterday.

Here is an actual scene from my house this week:

Me: (walking into the den with a hardback in one hand and a paperback in the other) I can't decide what I want to read. Do I feel like a quirky- 
Corey: (Interrupting) Left hand. Read the one in your left hand, the paperback. That's the one. There, I made your decision for you.

So I set the Terry Pratchett novel aside and started reading The School of Essential Ingredients. It's wonderful of course. Either book would have been a good read, but I AM SO RELIEVED TO HAVE THE CHOICE MADE FOR ME.

This method won't work all the time. I will continue to be flighty and indecisive.

How do YOU pick what to read next?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Poppies at Middle Places

It was around this time last year that Jesus told me “there will be poppies.”
I know for sure it was the 13th week of 2014, because the message was meaningful enough for me to create a Project Life card about it. The message was delivered not long after our trip to Israel. I was working on the book that is now with my new agent, but I was still with my previous agent at that time. My career had not gotten off to the start I expected, and I was struggling with what the future held.
I already shared with you that I tend to run away from Jesus when I am afraid of what He will tell me. This time last year, I was in that place. I was afraid my writing future was doomed and I didn’t want to deal with the possibility that the beautiful future I dreamed about would never be mine. But I can never run too far from Jesus. I always come full circle until I find myself sprawled at His feet.
Every. Single. Time… He picks me up. He dusts me off. He pulls me into His lap and tucks a loose strand of hair behind my ears. He kisses my forehead and laughs that soft Daddy laugh I know so well.
So that’s where I was, sitting in my bedroom with my Mac in my lap and my heart in my throat. I set aside the computer and lay down on my back on the bed. I closed my eyes and meditated, picturing myself lying beside Jesus. Having just returned from the Holy Land, I chose to meet Jesus there…
In a field of poppies.

Thursday, February 5, 2015


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Last summer, I made the decision to part ways with my previous literary agent. It was a hard decision but one I felt was best for both of us. Of course, that dropped me back into the query pool, and - in case you were wondering - no, it is not easier the second time around.

I was, however, excited and optimistic about my new manuscript. I dove into the query pool without any floaties and immediately got full and partial requests and celebrated. Of course, I also got rejections, and then I felt sad and questioned myself, but also sort of thought...

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Then, along came Pitch Wars. I'd gotten some conflicting feedback from agents and decided Pitch Wars might be the answer. I could get some insight on the conflicting input and stop feeling like slamming the door on it.

I got in! Yay!

And I got to work with Dannie Morin. She's awesome and able to analyze plot and structure in a way I am not so good at. And she had a LOT of input, and some of it matched the input I had gotten from agents and some of it didn't, but 99% of it rang true to me. And THAT is what I was looking for... feedback I clicked with in such a way I could use it to make my book better.

So I did.

I made it better.

And after Pitch Wars, I sent the manuscript off to the agents who requested it as part of the contest. Then I sent it off to the handful of agents who were waiting on my revision.

And then I waited.

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Luckily for my poor impatient soul, I didn't have to wait very long.

On a really icky day, I got my first offer of representation from an agent. I was on the phone with my best friend, being depressed over my really icky day, when the call came in. I'd like to tell you I am a very grown up professional and maturely ended my call with Leila and checked my voice mail and returned the agent's call.

But what I really did was squeal like it was Christmas morning as soon as I recognized the New York area code. I shouted at Leila, "I HAVE A CALL FROM NEW YORK!" Then I hung up on her, and because we have a drama-free friendship, she laughs about this and does not call me mean names.

At least, she only calls me mean names when we are using them as terms of affection.

From there, I had a two week whirlwind. Because I expected to get an offer (see, I do have some confidence) I had queried quite a bit, making sure any agent I really wanted a shot at working with had at least my query in hand when I got that first offer. So my next step was to let them all know, and then...

more waiting.

But, this time, my waiting involved me walking around checking my email every 1.3 seconds. I looked something like this...

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I won't go into the details. It was a crazy stressful time. I am obsessive when making decisions. I will stare at the windshield debating what I want to eat until Corey gives up and picks a place. If he waited on me, we might eat after I spent three months listing the pros and cons of every restaurant in Tupelo. And this decision was a much bigger deal than Firehouse Subs or Sweet Peppers.

On the final day, I had page after page of notes on each of the offering agents. All of them were good agents. All of them had good editorial comments on my book. All of them were capable of selling it.

But one of them stood out. Our phone call lasted three times as long as any of the others. And there was more than one phone call. I talked it over with my husband and my friends and it was clear to them and to me...

my decision was made.

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I am happy to announce, I have accepted an offer of representation from Peter Knapp at Park Literary.

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Turns out, it is possible to be a crazy cat lady without being old or single.

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Sorry I've been scarce here. I'm still working on revisions. In order to focus, I've been going to Corey's office first thing each morning. Working there helps me treat my work as a job and not get distracted by things around the house. And I've been doing a fairly good job of not opening my Mac again once I come home in the afternoon. That's helping me maintain some form of mental balance.

My birthday is coming up on Tuesday. I'll be 33. I had planned to do another Birthday Acts of Kindness kind of thing this year, but with revisions in full swing, I changed my mind. Instead, we'll probably go to dinner after Corey gets out of a meeting that evening. I will spend the day working. But I ENJOY my work, so that's not a bad thing at all.

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Corey had to spend the last few weekends out of town. In his absence, I let one of the cats, The Doctor, sleep in our bed. As a result, he's become rather spoiled. If I roll over, he will crawl across me and lay down so I'm facing him again. He prefers to be touching me at all times, even if it's just one paw laid on my arm. It is both adorable and somewhat pathetic.

For both of us.

Turns out, it is possible to be a crazy cat lady without being old or single. ;)

I finally watched the season 8 finale of Doctor Who today. I like Clara less and less, but it was worth suffering through her just for that salute. I can say that without it being a spoiler, but if you watched it already, you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

Hopefully, I will have more of substance to share soon.


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