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Two days ago I spoke of one cash crop. Today, I speak of another one.

This one though only lives in my imagination.

I have often thought that if poison Ivy were a cash crop, I’d be rich. The woods around my house are saturated with it.

And we are highly allergic to it.

My son missed an entire week of school once because I didn’t have the heart to send him with the angry rash that caused his face to swell.

Poor Baby

Why did I take the picture?

I don’t know, but this expression was quite comical.

Why did I post the picture?

Because I used the picture to pitch my screenplay, Posion Ivy Bride, to Dr. Ted Baehr at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference in 2007(I think).

I started by showing Dr. Baehr a picture of my son in his normal state.

I believe it was this picture:

And I said, “I don’t show you his picture to brag but to show you the effects of Poison Ivy.”

You see, my story involves a woman who, days before her wedding, tangles with a poison ivy vine, and well, let’s just say the results are not pretty. And I wanted to show the plausibility of plot.

And you know, he said, “That was a good pitch.”

I was flattered, of course. And I store those compliments to replay in my mind when I feel I’m not good enough to continue in writing.

The evening after the pitch, I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned (probably had too much caffeine). But during those late hours, I had somewhat of a revelation about my story.

The groom in my story loved his bride anyway, even with the rash that marred her beautiful complexion. An unconditional love.

Like the one we have in Christ.

We are his Bride (the church). And though we are marred with imperfections–some that make us unable to even love ourselves. Yet, He loves us. With an unconditional love.

In the last scene in my story, when the credits are to roll, I show a different ending to the wedding scene in the movie.

The groom lifts the veil and with his scarred hand he touches the face of his bride, and she is transformed from a thing of ugliness to one of beauty.

2 Corinthians 5:

17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Warning: Do not tell my son I posted this picture. What he does not know will not hurt him. My post wouldn’t have been the same without it. Right?

Big I, Little I, What begins with I . . .

I regress back to my Dr. Seuss days.

I am a Big I.

Introvert, that is. On the Myers-Briggs scale.

It means that I need alone time to get energized.

I work in an industry that requires constant contact with people. And for me that is draining.

I LOVE being alone. It recharges me. I have to have it.

So, I choose to go to lunch alone. I choose to exercise at home, away from other people. I chose to write alone.

But–I also enjoy being around other writers. I crave it.

I want to talk about characters and plots, submissions and rejections.

And the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference is the perfect place for those interactions. I find I can actually carry on a conversation at a table of people I’ve never met before.

That happens in no other setting. It seems I become a different person.

I’d say instead of a Big I, I become a little e(extrovert).

In 2005 I attended my first writer’s conference held in Greensboro, NC.

I took vacation days before the conference to prepare my pitches. I had started many contemporary category romances and had one completed. I was naive then. And I still feel naive.

The day before I was supposed to leave for Greensboro, I got the worst migraine headache. I thought I was dying. My husband was at a work, so I called my mother and asked her to take me to urgent care because nothing was going to stop me from attending this conference.

On the way, she had to pull over so I could throw up. We also stopped at a convenience store to get me a coke. By the time I got to the Duke-run urgent care center, I was beginning to feel better(the coke started to do its job–my headaches are caffeine withdrawal induced).

Even though I was on the mend I still felt weird and didn’t feel comfortable driving, so my family took me to the conference and left me there.

The next morning, I realized I had forgotten one essential item necessary if you’re pitching to a respected agent in the industry–deodorant.

I panicked. I couldn’t make a good impression with underarm issues.

Remember, I didn’t have my car because my family dropped me off. I couldn’t just run to the drugstore. What was I to do?

My aunt is allergic to deodorant, and uses body powder instead, and it just so happened I had brought a travel-sized container of body powder that had been given to me as a part of a gift set of Eternity cologne. I’m still amazed that I had packed it, because I had never worn it before.

Problem solved. Those tense nervous moments pitching to the agent wouldn’t mean disaster.

Or so I thought.

As the day went on, I began to experience an itching sensation. I ignored it of course, because I would look ridiculous scratching like a monkey.

That evening, the rash had spread down the inside of my upper arm, making its way down to my elbow.

And yet, I think I did pretty well with my pitch. Hopefully,  I appeared cool and calm while all the while I wanted to scratch like crazy.

Sadly, the agent rejected the proposal I sent to him after the conference (did he sense something was wrong?) .

But still I plug on as I prepare for the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference coming up in May.

And you can bet that on my packing list is a BIG THING(what do you call it, I don’t know-bottle, container, stick?) of DEODORANT.

I believe in the power of story.

Jesus did too, because he told parables to illustrate spiritual concepts.

The prodigal son parable told of God’s love for us even when we’ve turned our back on him. He waits for us to return to Him and when we do, His arms are outstretched.

My ultimate goal in writing my fiction is to point people to the Bible.

While I am not yet published, I had a critique partner tell me she looked up a passage in the Bible after reading about something my character had referenced from the Bible

Besides someone telling me they became a Christ follower after reading my work, telling me they were compelled to read scripture is one of the highest honors(because there is power in the pages of the Bible–if you don’t believe, read it for yourself).

I am currently writing a little fluff fiction piece now that I hope illustrates Biblical teachings and influences my readers to open the Bible.

A minor character in my story has been called to be a missionary, and I needed to research missionaries in that time period in England.

And so, today I read this:

There should be such a full and varied supply of food for the craving mind, as to supersede, to banish from the community, at least from the church, every form and variety of that poisonous romance, that worthless fiction which has spread itself almost every where; has, even, with shameless impudence obtruded itself into the selected library of the Sabbath school.

Always, always choose the Bible over fiction.

Sadly, in today’s society, many will not open the Bible, even for curiosity’s sake.

Maybe, just maybe, someone will read one of my books (one day) and decide to pick up the Bible and see what is in its covers.

Click here if you wish to read the rest of the research piece written in 1844History of the English Baptist Missionary Society from A.D 1792 to A.D. 1842.

Shakespeare used a vocabulary of 54,000 words.

Today, we use 3000.

Our culture has managed to combine two words to make one new word.

I guess it was just too hard to keep up with two words.

For example: ginormous — from gigantic and enormous. Will this make the two words obsolete? Thus decreasing our vocab from 3,000 to 2,999?

I don’t know, but I saw this youtube video by John Branyan posted on Rachelle Gardner’s blog the other day and thought it hilarious and brilliant– should we call it brilarious? (Did I just invent a new word? Maybe I’m brilarious).

David Meigs says this in his article in this month’s Christian Fiction Online Magazine:

“As inspirational fiction authors, we write to the lost.”

Worth a read.

The Steve Laube Agency blog shared this video today and I thought it was pretty cool.

He is 102!

Dave Ramsey says if you want to be a millionaire then spend time with millionaires. And likewise, if you want to be a billionaire, spend time with billionaires.

Interview them, shadow them to find out how they obtained success.

I want to become a published author, so following Dave Ramsey’s advice, I contacted a published author.

Alice J. Wisler is a Durham author published by Bethany House. I friended her on Facebook sometime ago and, knowing she lived in Durham, I asked if she would meet me sometime.

The Facebook App on my Android phone apparently wasn’t working properly. I sent other messages, but they weren’t going through. So, thinking she probably thought I was a kook anyway, I didn’t contact her anymore.

Then, recently, she posted on Facebook that she spent time at Bruegger’s within walking distance of my office building. I asked if she would meet me and, surprisingly, she agreed.

Her books are set in North Carolina giving an instant appeal for this NC girl.

Rain Song is set in the town of Mount Olive, NC

At my initial contact with her, I put the book in my car just in case she agreed to meet me. Unfortunately, that was during the hot months of the year. The glue holding the pages melted and fell out.

And being the crazy person that I am, I asked her to sign that copy. And she did!

From the book cover:

Nicole Michelin avoids airplanes, motorcycles, and most of all, Japan, where her parents once were missionaries. Something happened in Japan. Something that sent Nicole and her father back to America alone. Something of which Nicole knows only bits and pieces. But she is content with life in little Mount Olive, North Carolina, with her quirky relatives, tank of lively fish, and plenty of homemade pineapple chutney.

Through her online column for the Pretty Fishy Web site, she meets Harrison Michaels, who, much to her dismay, lives in Japan. She attempts to avoid him, but his e-mails tug at her heart.

Then Harrison reveals that he knew her as a child in Japan. In fact, he knows more about her childhood than she does! Will Nicole face her fears in order to discover her past and take a chance on love?

My thoughts:

I enjoyed the book and I’m not saying that just because the author agreed to meet me for lunch.

The questions we have throughout the novel, like why Nicole’s treasured doll has one sleeve shorter than the other, are all answered when she learns what happened the night her mother died–the one event that haunted her since age 2.

Being a romance reader, I longed to know what happened between Nicole and Harrison after they met. I’ll leave that to my imagination.

Enjoyable read.

A new study from the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands “reveals” that men are, um,  shall we say, distracted even at the mention of a female name.

In 2009 Psychologist Johan Karremans concluded that men experienced temporary stupidity after interacting with women(I think we all suspected as much).

But it seems they don’t know why this happens to men (women do NOT have the same temporary issue). It is clear to me why and it is all about blood flow to the brain.

When I’m dehydrated, blood doesn’t get to my brain and it makes it harder for me to remember things, so in periods where I need to be on top of my game mentally, I need to be well hydrated.

Unfortunately I don’t have a solution for this male-only issue.

The book I’m working on now is about a gentleman who always seems to become a bumbling idiot around a certain female. It is a fun story that  now has scientific validity.

I’ve always thought myself a creative person. “What-If” scenarios are easy for me.

It’s the processing of those “What-ifs” that has always stumped me.

I’ve checked out books from the library like Mastering Creative Anxiety and Write it Down, Make it Happen to find clues as to how to get past my writing blocks.

One idea I gleaned from Write it Down is “Being near water–one of the four elements of life–is conducive to creativity.”

Since I can’t make it to the beach every weekend (That would be wonderful), I remembered a small waterfall I’ve had for some time. It had been relegated to the basement with the other unused stuff. I cleaned it up, poured some water in it and set it by my side.

Now I hear the trickle of water throughout my writing session.

My husband reminded me that we already had that water sound in the form of a finicky toilet in the downstairs bathroom. Unless you jiggle the handle after flushing, it runs non-stop. I suppose I could have gone with that, but between a running toilet and a babbling brook, well I prefer the babbling brook.

Here’s a picture of my newest writing tool.

(Aren’t you glad I didn’t take a picture of my toilet?)

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