Monday, August 22, 2011

The Ugly Duckling

It's a beautifully painful story.  Angst ridden, heart wrenching--the truth about every writer who has ever breathed oxygen on this place we call Earth.

Wait, you thought it was about being accepted?  Well, that's true too.

This story truly can apply to any life, anytime, anywhere.  For me, it applies dually.  The Ugly Duckling speaks to my heart as a writer, and my insecurities as a woman.

Walking through life, we all fit into "groups" or "cliques" whether or not we want to.  Most of us swim throughout the pond, even though one type of waterfowl may not be like us.  We get along best with our own type, but we can be friendly with those that don't look or act quite like us.

For a writer, getting along with others is sometimes difficult, sometimes easy, but always a bit different than it is for other people.  We interact (most of us) just fine, have friends and family we love, but we are never fully in "this world".  A writer's mind wanders--far and wide, to places unknown to those around them.  I bet you've seen it, especially if you know me even a little.

The eyes glaze over, and though she nods her head, you know she's going to have to ask you to repeat that last sentence.  She isn't hard of hearing, she's hard of concentrating.  You said something that clicked her writing mind into overdrive.  They don't mean to ignore you, they were merely inspired but whatever it was you said!

Sometimes, a writer feels like an Ugly Duckling--they just don't fit in.  Then one day, that sad little duckling full of stories with no one to tell them to, sees a flock of beautiful swans--feather pens in hand.  With a glance, they notice the duckling and beckon him over with a wing, handing him a pad and pen and telling him to write as he's never written before!

That's what it feels like when you group a large amount of writers into one room and tell them to interact.  It's so wonderful to feel like someone gets you in a way that others couldn't.  Now, truth be told, the writers I have met don't get me in the way my mom does, but they DO get me in a way she may not.  Meeting writers isn't an end all for me to interact with all of those I loved before I had that chance.  On the contrary, it simply broadened my horizons.

That being said, despite the swan that I am told I have become, my insides still feel like that little Ugly Duckling.  It's so funny to think, because I am so used to it, that when I put myself down (mentally or verbally), I'm going against the beliefs of several of those who love me.  Is it because they love me? Or because what they say is true? (Rhetorical question).

I had an experience recently where I felt I had made a FOOL of myself in front of a rather attractive young man.  The friend I was with marveled at my sudden insecurity and social awkwardness.  He remarked that he'd never seen me so "out of control" when it came to my cool steely personality.  He'd never seen me flounder and fluster and blush as insanely as I did in that moment.

"No matter what anyone says, I still feel like an Ugly Duckling on the inside.  Like I open my mouth to speak, and all that comes out is a ridiculous 'hooonk'".

He laughed jovially and told me that wasn't the case, that no one would have thought me a fool in that moment but myself.

Isn't that the point though?  I think I am the fool.  I think I am still the awkward Ugly Duckling whose "best friend" would reference to herself as "the pretty one" and to me as "the funny one", and sometimes "the smart one".  I still get caught up in those moments where I am attempting to sound sane when speaking to an alluring gentleman, and all I hear is "hoooooooooonk".

When I look in the mirror, I don't see a confident Swan smiling back at me--knowing full well that she is beautiful, inside and out.  That she is a talented writer who will one day be published.

I see an awkward little Duck, trying her best to stay strong and look confident when on the inside she's squirming and squawking.  A little Duck who knows she should see the Swan, but somehow can't.  A little Duck who looks at her writing and wonders how  she'll ever be what she's always dreamed to be, and then speaks to a man and wonders how she'll ever find anyone who sees her for what she can't.

And every Swan, Goose, and Mallard alike smile at her sweetly, telling her that in time she will have these things.  In time she will be published, seeing her books on the shelves in Barnes and Noble.  In time and only in God's time, will she meet the man of her dreams--despite her desire to have at least one notice her once in awhile.

In time, my little Duckling, you will stare into your reflection and you will see a Swan.  It takes hard work, patience, and perseverance.  Have the tenacity to succeed, and no one will be able to feel like you've failed.  You are beautiful as you are, in both writing and in person.  "Don't let the bastards get you down."  They aren't worth it in the end.  Concentrate on what God made you to be and eventually everything else will fall into place.

Those are the things I have to remember.  If there are any other little ducks reading this, know that I mean that for you as well.  Birds of a feather...well, you know the saying.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ragged Edge--Life Begins

"We have an incredible love affair with the written word."
              ---Ted Dekker

After a day of what most would consider "Depressing Truths", I think the authors were pleased that we all (I think) actually came back.  Day two blew day one out of the water--I can't even begin to describe what it was to me.

The craft of writing is to each our own--and we were told that everything we write is beautiful.  There is no getting better when it comes to our personal writing. 
Now, we may improve in the sense that others find our writing as beautiful as it has always been--but at this moment in my life. Right Now.  Everything I write is beautiful. 

We talked it all--becoming our Characters with Bob; Finding our Strengths with Tosca; fulfilling our promises and Story with Steven---and of course, the lovely Ted Dekker. 

Hilarity filled the day.  I know you'd like me to detail the funny things they said, but I honestly want to keep a lot of these memories to myself.  I will tell you that Robert Liparulo slapped a friend just to see what his reaction would be--and Ted and Steven argued over whose stories were darker.  Kevin Kaiser did the best Yoda impression I have EVER heard--hands down. 

Essentially, I learned that I need to write more--and more often.  I'll be making an author's page on facebook--hopefully you all will "like" me.
The page will be for my writing, and my blog more for my musings.

Welcome to my Asylum.  It's going to be a fun ride.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ragged Edge--Beginning

I walked into Ragged Edge with a knot in my stomach.  Fear and nerves crawled through me the entire morning, and I couldn't shake the slight nausea that washed over me in waves.  As luck would have it (Or as God would bless it), we took the shuttle with a group attending the Ragged Edge. 

It's funny how God works things together.  It's funny how you can make a friend (potentially for life) in a time when you weren't looking for one.

Devin Berglund--a lovely girl--happened to be in that shuttle.  It's simple to say that we spent these last two days of the conference in each other's company.  I'm so glad to have made this connection.

Devin made it easier.  My mom, who had 'come along for the ride', as she put it, walked with us back to Liberty Hall, and spent several minutes being what I needed--my Mama.  When she left, though, it was nice to have someone else to stand with; someone who had felt nerves, but was just as excited as I was.

I promised you all this blog.  I promised you I would tell you what I saw--every bit that I could (without sharing too much).  I'm not sure how to put some of it into words.  I can honestly say that I have never felt so...normal.

Normal, because everyone (mostly) was like me.  We were all there for the same reason.  As we started talking in the hour we had before the conference started, we all began to realize how similar we were.  We all had the same experiences, same feelings and thoughts--same interactions with people who didn't care to get it, and those that tried but couldn't completely understand.
Only some of us were as blessed as I have been--only some at the conference had the loving support of their family or friends.

We talked about our stories--what we've written, what we were working on--we talked genre, authors, books, blogs etc.  I thought I was in heaven!  And then I realized...

I'd only made it to the waiting room.

The lights went dark and a video came on the screen.  It was something called "The Dreamer Cometh" or...something like that.  I watched it, knowing that what came next would be what had made me so nervous-so sick-so excited.  Call what I am about to do hero worship, but I don't care.  I saw my hero walk up onto the stage.

He was everything I expected, the eccentric Ted Dekker.  His hair was styled in that messy way; his shirt was a screen-t that was only tucked in in the front of his jeans.  This, by the way, revealed a studded belt holding up his designer jeans.  Down on his feet, he wore Nike flip flops.

My hero had arrived.  He spoke with a slight accent--evidence of his being raised outside of the good ol' United States.  He has a unique way of talking--always moving and never quite still.  Even when sitting, Ted Dekker moves.  He brought the others up--Steven James (The Pawn), Eric Wilson (Fireproof), Tosca Lee (Demon), and Robert Liparulo (Comes a Horseman).

These people--some I'd never heard of--began telling us of what it means to be a writer.  Telling of the lifestyle we live.  Most of those in the audience heard their words and said "Yes! That's me!  It's so nice to finally feel like I'm not alone--I'm not as weird as I feared I was!"

I'm not going to tell you what they said--I won't be sharing that here.  I didn't record it (though I took notes), but I'm not going to share the experience they asked to be private between us.  All I will tell you, is this was considered the "negative day".  Learning what it means to live the life of a writer.

This is getting long, so I'll jump to the reception.

After all day of being with these people, hearing what they had to say, we had a chance to meet them.  We were given books to have each of them sign--books I'll probably review on here soon.

I met my hero--I talked to him!  Without fainting, stuttering, or sounding like an idiot.  I spoke clearly, got a picture with him, and then let him do my hair when he wouldn't believe that I didn't have product in it to make it the way it is.

I met Tosca Lee--a beautiful woman who is kind and real.  I have a picture with her as well.  She spoke to me like I was someone the same as her--not a wannabe talking to a pro, as it truly was.

Robert Liparulo was holding up the signing line.  Why?  Because he wanted to have a meaningful conversation with each person that passed through the line.

Eric Wilson told me he had a niece named Kelsey whom he missed, and that he loved my "Bazinga" shirt because it stood out.

Steven James smiled and was pleasant--but there was no denying a slightly dry humor hiding beneath the grin.

I left walking on air.  How could it get any better?  How could my life be sweeter?

Then there was day two.  But I will talk about that in the next blog.  For now--I'm in heaven.  I don't want to come home.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sweet Sanctuary

Just finished reading Sweet Sanctuary by Sheila Walsh & Cindy Martinusen Coloma for  I've never been very good at book reviews, as I never know what to say--but here it goes.

Honestly, when I picked this book, it was simply because it was the most interesting synopsis in a pile of DULL.  I read several "back covers" and thought--why did I sign up for this?  Is a free book worth it if the only books I can get are rubbish?

But I gave Sweet Sanctuary a chance.  According to the back cover (paraphrased), Wren Evans, single mom, is raising her musically gifted son, Charlie.  She'd do anything for her son, even move to Boston for a chance at a prestigious music school.
Wren discovers, however, that Charlie has been praying for her.  Minutes after hearing these words, Wren's grandma Ruth shows up with a request--a final family gathering between her and her grandchildren at their summer home, where so many years before an accident shattered so many things.  Wren also is facing loss of her job due to budget cuts, and finds out that Charlie's dad may not be as "out of their lives" as she's always said he was.
In the midst of this, Wren finds a friend in the handsome and kind hearted Paul Callahan.  When the family is finally all together, a roller coaster of emotions and hurts reveal themselves--hurts only God can heal.

I wasn't very excited, but it was enough for me to be interested.  Frankly, I find a lot of Christian Literature has run towards cheesy-pie and cliche.  I was pleasantly surprised, then, by this book. 

Wren was a character with real life woes, wants, and worries.  She loves her son, Charlie, and the mother she is, is both endearing and realistic.  Charlie is--after a first few pages of stumbling--a sweet and kind-hearted kid.

The other characters fit into real life--Coworkers who are friends, though a little nosey; library patrons of all shapes and sizes; siblings with clashing personalities...Reality.

The story moves along at  a good pace, and I managed to finish it with a contented smile.  It was no Francine Rivers, but I enjoyed the story.

What I didn't like was easily overcome.  I didn't like that fact that they kept referring to "the incident" throughout the book, building and building until it was finally revealed and then----

Basically nothing.  I mean, I understood that "the incident" was a big deal and traumatic for the family--but the reactions were too much.  It was such a drastic overreaction for what it turned out to be.  When they built it so big, and made it seem so intriguing, and then let it be something that really (to me) just made Wren's family look like a bunch of horrible people.

Furthermore, the fact that Wren had DEALT with these people all her life?  I found that unpleasant, as it made me feel like Wren was weak.  Any people who treat another person the way Wren's family had treated her--well, I wouldn't have been the complacent "peace maker" that Wren's character tried to be.
I don't know anyone who would be a "peace maker" if they were treated the way Wren was as a child.

That sounds like a lot of dislikes--and it is.  When it comes to my usual standard of books, Sweet Sanctuary is not in my top 10, 20, 30....or anywhere near there.  But as it goes for Christian Women's Literature, the books was alright.  I may even read it again someday.


So pretty high praise in my own, strange way!  Read Sweet Sanctuary if you enjoy a cute story with characters that are realistic.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A short Story

Here is a rough, somewhat quickly thrown together story that's been in my head.  It's not my best, but I hope you like it.  It's not accurate--I didn't do research about what slave life would have been like.  But hopefully you find it interesting; it's told from the point of view of a slave in the High Priest's household in Jerusalem at a very volatile time.

People continued to shout inside as Koritsi tugged at the leather tie of her sandal.  The shouting continued inside, and she strained to hear the words spoken.  Sound all mixed together, leaving her unable to make out the phrases being shrieked through the late hour.  Koritsi shuddered with the cool night air, wrapping her arms around herself and spotting the fire in the courtyard.  People stood around the flames, warming themselves.
As a slave of the High Priest, it was Koritsi’s responsibility to make sure the fire continued for all those that were unworthy to enter his home.  She could see several men warming themselves, sitting around the fire and quietly talking.  Most of them were like her—too low class to ever be considered to enter inside unless they wore the sash of a slave and belonged to the High Priest. 
               “BLASPHEMY!” Koritsi jumped at the yell that echoed from the inner room out to the courtyard.  Several of the men at the fire also glanced up, and Koritsi heard clearly for the first time a bit of what was happening inside.  A loud sound echoed around, followed by more talking.
               “Prophesy! Tell us who hit you!”  It was her master’s voice.  He was questioning the man called Jesus—the man they wanted to die for his crimes.  Koritsi had heard what they’d said about him—heard of all he’d done from others at the market place.  She’d even seen him herself a few times, healing the sick and speaking to all who wanted to listen.  He talked of things that struck fear into her heart—fear, but also hope.
As Koritsi came closer to the fire, she pondered the troubled feeling that stirred within her.  The things this man spoke of—the things that were so radical and terrifying—they didn’t necessarily seem wrong.  If Koritsi were to dare to speak that aloud though, she would surely die. 
The men around the fire were quietly talking as Koritsi discretely examined their faces.  At the sight of one—a man remaining quite silent—Koritsi’s heart rate spiked.  She’s seen him with the Nazarene.  She’d seem him there as the miracles had been performed. 
               “You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus.” Koritsi heard the words escape her lips before she had a chance to stop them.
The man looked up sharply, but quickly avoided meeting her eyes.
               “I do not know or understand what you are talking about.” He replied as he stood and walked away from the fire. 
Surprised and a little confused, Koritsi watched him go.  The men around the fire whispered a little more animatedly as the man—someone called him Peter—stalked away into the darkness.  Koritsi followed after him, the memories of all she’d seen the Nazarene do fresh in her mind’s eye.  She could have sworn that he…perhaps she’d mistaken him.  Perhaps it was a trick of the light. 
Peter stood in the entryway, staring out into the night.  Koritsi could see the fear in his eyes; fear standing alongside pain.  There were more men in the entryway; it seemed there were people no matter where Koritsi turned.  There was no denying it—this man was Simon Peter, a follower of the Nazarene.
               “This fellow is one of them.”  Koritsi said.  Her tone was almost accusatory, and a twinge of regret swept through her as the fear dominated Peter’s face.
               “I don’t know him. I told you.” He snapped, stalking a short ways away from them all. 
An hour passed, and Koritsi kept her eye on Peter.  She wondered why someone who had followed a man for three years would suddenly deny any connection to him.  Why would Peter betray the man he had devoted so much time to?  If rumors were true, he had left a lucrative business to dedicate his life to the man whom he now claimed no knowledge of. 
Another man approached Peter, and Koritsi drew herself closer to better hear what would be said.  Soon she realized there was no need.
               “That man has performed many miracles.” The man said to another standing near Peter.
               “He has.  Some say by demons.  Others, by God.” The second man replied, while the first turned to Peter.
               “He had twelve men who knew him well; twelve who were very close to him.  Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.  Your accent has given you away.”
               “I swear I don’t know him!” Peter shouted, throwing his hands up in the air and turning on all who stared at him.  “By heaven and earth I swear it!  Curse you and damn you for saying that I do!  Do you think I would throw my lot in with him?”
Koritsi stepped back in fear at the rage in Peter’s voice while he yelled.  Something in her broke, like hope dying.  The moment Peter finished his rant, she heard a rooster crow.  She saw as Peter turned his eyes toward the inner room, and as she followed his gaze, she saw the Nazarene staring back at the man who had just sworn no connection.  The look alone brought Koritsi to her knees, and she forced herself to turn away.  Her heart twisted and churned within her, but as she glanced up into Peter’s face, it broke completely. 
Peter’s eyes were locked on the Nazarene’s, and shame, sorrow, pain, and regret poured from Peter.  His resolve cracked, dissolved before Koritsi’s very eyes, and she watched the grown man begin to weep.  Embarrassed by the reaction, Koritsi dared another glance at Jesus, the Nazarene.  He was no longer looking at Peter—Koritsi’s master had spit on him, and was now ordering guards to take him away.

Koritsi’s world had forever changed.  It didn’t matter that she was ordered to attend the Nazarene’s crucifixion with her master.  She stood by silently, attending the High Priest while stealing glances at the man that she was sure had changed the world.  His death didn’t matter; not really.  She had seen his eyes, and there was no doubt that the soul inside was different.  Koritsi believed that Jesus was who they said He was—that He was the Christ.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Quick thoughts

There is a saying "The Heart wants what it wants".

I don't know if I like it.  Frankly, if the heart (or my heart) had its way, I'd be in a whole mess of trouble.  I think we all would.  Our hearts are no more perfect then we are; as a matter of fact, I think my heart would make several bad decisions, going only by emotions, if my head wasn't someone willing to assist in life.

I was planning on going into details about my thoughts and feelings on this topic, but then I changed my mind.  I could tell you my opinions about my heart and men, those in need, my family and friends--

But I won't.  I am going to jump topics--as I'm prone to do.

In one week I leave for Nashville to meet my hero, Ted Dekker, at a writer's conference.  I can't wait.  I want to learn so much.  I love his writing and I emulate him in my own.  I'll give more details later, but I just cannot wait.

My last thought is that I'm thinking of working on some short stories for the almost dozen of you that read this blog.  I've got a few ideas; I just have to make sure they aren't too long!  So hopefully that's something to look forward to!

Short and sweet!

Monday, August 1, 2011


As I sit here, staring at my computer screen, I'm a bit at a loss for words.  I have experienced so see I don't even have the words now.  So much good has happened in the past few days.

For the first time, I jumped in as a leader at Encounter--a youth conference for high schoolers.  I can easily say it was one of the best experiences of my life--an eye opener for me.  I saw God move in my life and in the lives of so many students.  I saw things that a part of my thought only happened back in "Bible times".  It was so insanely wonderful.  I think I cried at least once every day.  God is so good--so wonderful.  I am so blessed.

I really can't go into words!  Then after a filled insane "Oh my gosh" week...I went to the GREATEST wedding I've ever experienced.  My friends Becky and Matt were married in one of the best ceremony/reception compounds in all of the world. 

The reason this matters, the reason I mention it, is because I usually HATE wedding receptions.  Ceremonies are fine, but receptions are (in my opinion) a torture device used against single women.  I generally sit and watch a whole bunch of couples dance and be happy while I wish I was out there with them.  It isn't even about being a couple--it's about the fun I miss out on because I'm not one. It's like...single people can't have fun at weddings.

However, this wedding was different.  Instead of sitting and being wall-flowers, the single girls (and the married ones) were all on the dance floor having the TIME of our LIVES.  My mom, her friends, my friends, sorority sisters and even grandmothers were strutting their stuff to whatever song came through the speakers.  We danced until we couldn't move any longer.  And when the slow songs came up, I did what every older friend would do for her younger ones.  I went to the younger guys at the wedding and told them to do their duty.  They were responsible to their friends--I didn't want to see a whole ton of Mr. Darcys, refusing to dance with the ladies.

The men arose to the occasion!  I was proud to see them dancing to all sorts of songs--upbeat and slow--and keeping the girls feeling as beautiful on the inside as they looked on the outside.  A man my own age (or close to it) was nice enough to even do that kind service for me--to ask my to dance and make me feel pretty.

Men don't realize what it means when they ask a girl to dance.  When she works so hard to look beautiful--be it a wedding, a school dance, or a random night where they go dancing.  We try so hard to look desirable--to look like something worth noticing.  When we aren't, well, I can say from experience that it will ruin more than just an evening.  There is something in being noticed.  To see someone smile at you as he offers his hand.  I can say that my friend made me feel special.  And the guys made my girlfriends feel beautiful.

I apologize, but I am now going to COMPLETELY change topics.  This is a little "blog a.d.d." for you!

I just watched "The Glee Project" and saw a TOTAL Jesus move!  Christian candidate Cameron sacrificed himself to stand up for his beliefs.  In doing so, he saved Damian (my personal favorite). 
Maybe it's just my own personal beliefs making me biased, but seeing Cameron choose to go home so that Damian would stay nearly broke my heart.  Then, knowing it was because he was unwavering in what he knew was right for him--gosh.  I can't get over the awesome heart wrenching inspiration.

So I guess I end where I started.  No shame here when I say I'm a believer of Christ.  He died for me (and you too!).  I may be deemed "over emotional" because the smallest sweet thing can make me tear up.  However, I think that maybe I just have a big soft heart!