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It has been a few days since coming home from my writers conference held at Ridgecrest nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. This particular conference is  a revival of sorts for me, and I get a little blue when I return home.

I fellowshipped with people like me who have ideas they want to share and want instruction on how to do it effectively. I have worshipped, laughed and have had some thoughts validated. I met some incredible people who have incredible stories to tell.

But I can’t stay there in that mountaintop euphoria. I have to come down from the mountain.

Our Bible study lesson this Sunday at church was on the Great Commission from the book of Matthew, chapter 28. In verse 16 the 11 disciples went to Galilee to the mountain where they met Jesus. He told them to go and make disciples of all nations.

The disciples couldn’t stay on the mountain with Jesus, though I’m sure they wanted to. No, they had a mission that they could not fulfill by staying up there.

We have a mission that cannot be carried out up on the mountain at Ridgecrest. We must go, write, teach, preach and show the love of God to those we encounter, whether it be by screenplay, novel, devotion, Bible study, memoir, sermon, or non-fiction book.

Ready. Set. Go.

Matthew 28:16-20Christian Standard Bible (CSB)

The Great Commission

16 The eleven disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped, but some doubted. 18 Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always,to the end of the age.”

It was great to get back to my home church where we had two baptisms in our Sunday Morning Service. Buried with Christ and raised to walk in newness of life. A beautiful picture of a life that is changed by the cleansing we receive by coming to Jesus–whether we meet him on a mountain or in the lowlands.

In my personal Bible Study this morning I read from Psalm 90 verse 2,

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

I would love to say that I am currently enjoying the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference which is going on right now at a place nestled in the mountains just off I-40 in North Carolina–Ridgecrest.

This is the second conference I’ve missed since 2006, and I think I’m having withdrawal symptoms. While there I laugh and cry, commiserate with other unpublished writers and hob nob with the rich and famous published authors (I know there are those laughing at my comment, but hey, I’ve had the pleasure of being critiqued by none other than Jerry Jenkins who has sold over 70 million copies of his Left Behind books).

That’s beside the point, though. I still took the week off from work with the idea that I’d have my own little writers conference at home where I’d sit on my back porch, edit my finished novel, and read writing craft books and a few novels.

I stumbled across a book called One Second Later by William Forstchen about the consequences of an EMP attack(I have slight prepping tendencies, which, when coupled with my novel writing tendencies, makes me a very crazy person). I chose to read the book this week.

The book is set in Black Mountain, NC which is right there at Ridgecrest, where I long to be.

Usually I would not recommend novels with language that offends me, and this book has many instances where I cringed, so I’m not recommending it. The most offensive to me is the Lord’s name in vain, though some would say it is writing real.

The book, however, has opened my eyes to some things I need to do for my family as a precaution.

I would feel perfectly well supplied if I had water, and heat in the winter, but one thing the book made me realize is how important our medical services are. My son takes a medication that he agrees is as necessary to him as food. He could get by without it for a month, but after that, he’d start experiencing seizures that would eventually kill him from lack of sleep–essentially they would drive him mad.

The book was intriguing to read because I’m familiar with the setting, but also because it has raised an awareness about how dependent we are on our electrical grid. Scary stuff. Read it at your own risk. You’ve been warned.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

I’ve had my share of writing rejections, so they are not as depressing as they used to be. I’ve learned that the best writers have been rejected. It is all part of the journey.

But I had been waiting on a response from an agent for a while, so I sent a couple of emails to the agency asking if they had reviewed my proposal. I received no response which caused me to shut down.

I attributed my apathy to thinking I wasn’t good enough to even rate a rejection, so why bother.

Imagine my surprise when I was searching for something in my husband’s junk drawer a couple of weeks ago and found an envelope addressed to me in my own handwriting because the agent suggested sending a self-addressed envelope with the proposal submission.

It was indeed the rejection letter I had needed to get back to my writing– dated December 5, 2011.

I wasn’t upset at my husband for opening my mail because I have nothing to hide, but I was hurt that he kept the rejection from me. It was especially hurtful that he thought I was too weak to handle it.

The truth was the rejection wasn’t bad, and would have kept me working, and would have prevented this writing depression I’ve been in for almost a year.

The agent said, “while your project exhibits merit it is not quite what we are looking for at this time. . . This is a very creative approach to a Biblical parallel. And the pacing and characterization is fine. The problem is it felt too over the top or ‘formulaic’. But that is more my problem than yours.”

The agent went on to suggest I send it to one of the other agents in his agency who may have more enthusiasm for my project.

I consider that a good rejection, but I suppose my husband was afraid I’d be distraught and he wanted to protect me from heartbreak.

He has been a very supportive husband where my writing is concerned, but he is not perfect, and I forgave him, but I hate the time I’ve wasted moping over the lack of a response from this respected agent.

Now I must get to work, and hopefully send the project to other agents.

I have book cases full of books I intend to read. Yes, book cases. Not shelves.

I’m a book nut, but I don’t have time to read all of them. I keep saying that one day I’ll be able to read a book a day, because that is what it will take to  read through my library.

This week I chose a book that I’ve wanted to read for a long time, but something else always seemed to get in the way.

This book does what some in the publishing world would avoid–a conversion scene smack dab at the beginning of the book.

And you know what?

I loved it.

I love conversion scenes–whether they are in a book or in real life. Because conversions are real. People realize that something is missing and that something is God.

Wolfe Boone (“Boo”), the best-selling author of horror novels, is saved.

But what does it mean for a town named Skary, Indiana whose livelihood depends on this celebrity to thrive? With establishments like the Haunted Mansion Restaurant and Sbooky’s Bookstore the entire town’s success hinges on the success of this writer.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book with its Mitford feel. It made me laugh at some of the absurd things the town busy-body tried to do.

There was even a scene where a character passes out in a movie theater. If that sounds far-fetched to you, read about my sister’s true-life experience.

I wish I had read  BOO  by Rene Gutteridge years ago–yes, I’ve had it for years.  (Oh, and according to the author’s website, this might become a movie. I certainly hope so!)

The truth is I was always better at Math and Science than I was in English and History.

And what am I doing?

I am writing historical fiction.

Odd, isn’t it?

And while I excelled in the sciences, some of my favorite memories of school came from my High School English Teachers.

My 10th grade book report and presentation was on Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. It is a very dark, gothic tale and has a complicated plot. Or at least in my mind it is complicated. But my teacher, Mrs. Wiggins, complimented me on my presentation.

My 11th grade teacher, Mr Mooney, said something funny one day in class. I laughed. But no one else did. I was a little embarrassed. But then he said something along the lines of, “People who understand jokes are intelligent.”

Those compliments stuck with me, and maybe those compliments are what made me attempt to write when I should be pursuing a degree in the sciences.

I think my days for the sciences are long past, but I think I can do this writing thing with a little time and effort. Make that, A LOT OF TIME AN EFFORT.

“Your character is not likable,” said the multi-published award-winning author after reading the first two pages of my novel.

But I like him, I thought. Because I know what he is to become.

God sees us as I see my character. He loves us despite us being unloveable. He knows what we can become–if we let him take charge.

I will have to put  some redeeming qualities in my hero(whether he likes it or not).

Thankfully, knowing and trusting Jesus is all the redeeming I need for myself.

 

John 1:12

New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)

12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God —

Ephesians 2:7-9

New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)

in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

This past week I attended the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference.

As I climbed those hills and stairs to get from one building to another, I felt like an aged person.

But I must not look it.

While standing in line for lunch, I was asked, “Is this your first conference?”

I said, “No, this was my sixth time.”

“Sixth? You don’t look old enough to have attended 6 times.”

Really?

“You look about the age of my daughter. She’s 26.”

I was flattered and thought to myself, my son was born when I was 27 and he’ll be able to vote in the next presidential election.

At the banquet I sat with a fellow UNC-G alumnus. I mentioned that I graduated in the 80’s (late 80’s–I never had big hair, btw). She said she wouldn’t have guessed it.

What makes me seem younger than I am?

Maybe it’s the extra weight that stretches out the wrinkles.

But maybe I seem naive and immature to people.

Is that a good thing?

I would like to portray wisdom that comes with age and experience (But not with wrinkles).

 

Job 12:12 With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.

 

I don’t want to be thought of as ancient (My son thinks I am. My husband can’t, because we are the same age), but I would love to be known as wise.

 

 

 

My niece called one Saturday morning. “NeeNee, can you come to my house?”

“Why, Baby?”

“The show What Would You Do is having a contest for show ideas.”

As a writer mentoring this miniNee writer I couldn’t refuse. So, I packed up my family(they were more than happy to comply), took a notebook and headed into town where my sister lives.

Sadly, that is my horrible voice behind the camera. Notice my hesitations. I attribute those to dehydration and not old age. But it could be old age.

Anyway . . .

We submitted several ideas online. Sadly, none of ours was chosen. The winners were revealed a week or so ago.

But my sister’s idea should have gotten at least an honorable mention. My son was especially impressed with it.

Here’s her scenario:

A team of mimes are in a restaurant when one of them starts to choke.  Would you believe he was really choking?  Would you step in to give him/her the Heimlich maneuver even if you weren’t sure?

My favorite “what would you do” scenario was shared thousands of years ago. This is how it goes:

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

(From Luke Chapter 10: 30-36)

We would have many excuses for not stopping.

  • Could have been a drug deal gone bad.
  • It was a trap, like the police impersonator trying to lure unsuspecting people into his dangerous lair.
  • I’m a female all alone. What could I do to help this man?
  • I’m late for Bible study. I don’t have time to help.
  • He’s dirty and bleeding. I don’t have my surgical gloves.

What would your excuse be? Would you help? Would you be a good neighbor?

What would you do?

I’m excited to be heading to the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference on Sunday. It is my most anticipated trip each year. Even above the family beach trip which I love.

As I made preparations to attend I  read some of the novels written by the conference staff members.

I’m an early morning person which means I go to sleep early. Anything that can keep me up past 10:00 pm must be good.

My Foolish Heart by Susan May Warren kept me up until 1:00 am and I hated myself for allowing a story to steal my  sleep(which I desperately need).

If you liked the movies Facing the Giants, You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle, you just might like this story.

Two broken people face their giants while they participate in a radio talk show and prepare for the big game.

Yes, there’s football action.

I visited the Christy awards site to see the  recently released list of nominees for the 2012 awards. I am blessed to have been taught by some of them at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference.

While visiting the site, I came across the keynote  from last year’s ceremony.

I was “touched” by the moving speech by Randall Wallace, author of The Touch, a finalist for the award this year.

He is a Hollywood Screenwriter, Director, Producer and Songwriter of movies such as:

Braveheart

Pearl Harbor

We Were Soldiers

Man in the Iron Mask

Secretariat

Even with all those credits, the man is humble enough to make fun of himself.

He is not ashamed of the Gospel. He is Baptist and studied at Duke Divinity School.

He made me laugh and cry as he talked of the power of story. Well worth the time to watch:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Braveheart comes on AMC on April 28th at 8:00 pm (I have my DVR set)

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